Tag Archives: redemption

Lamentations 1-2; Obadiah; James 5

“All the majesty of beautiful Jerusalem has been stripped away.  Her princes are like starving deer searching for pasture.  They are too weak to run from pursuing the enemy.  In the midst of her sadness and wondering, Jerusalem remembers her ancient splendor.  But now she has fallen to her enemy, and there is no one to help her.  Her enemy struck her down and laughed as she fell.  Jerusalem has sinned greatly, so she has been tossed away like a filthy rag.  All  who once honored her now despise her, for they have seen her stripped naked and humiliated.  All she can do is groan and hide her face. ”  Lamentations 1:6-8  NLT

I feel the hopelessness in these verses.  Having the wind knocked out of me and blindsided by attacks of the enemy. Times when I want to run and hide, instead of remembering the goodness of God.  I am thankful for a God who rescues and pursues me.  Who heals the innermost parts of my soul. Who tells me what to pray when I don’t know what to pray anymore. Who hears and answers my prayers in his timing not mine.  James urges me to keep praying when I don’t see the miracle yet.

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.  Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield crops.  My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about forgiveness of many sins.” James 5:16-19 NLT

What if Elijah thought his prayers didn’t matter, like I sometimes do?

“But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape; it will be a holy place.  And the people of Israel will come back to reclaim their inheritance.  The people of Israel will be a raging fire, and Edom a field of dry stubble.  The descendants of Joseph will be a flame roaring across the field, devouring everything.  There will be no survivors in Edom.  I, the Lord, have spoken!  The exiles of Israel will return to their land and occupy the Phoenician coast as far north as Zarephath.  The captives from Jerusalem  exiled in the north will return home and resettle the towns of the Negev.  Those who have been rescued will go up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem to rule over the mountains of Edom.  And the Lord himself will be king!” Obadiah 1:17-21 NLT  

My prayers are effecting future generations.

Strongholds and generational bondage breaking.

Hearts turning back to him.

Dear Father, help me to trust you when I can’t see.  Give me eyes to see your goodness. Help me not to hide in fear.  But to live with a knowledge and hope in you. Thank you for your patience with me.  Give me rest when I am weary.  Thank you for your faithfulness. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Philemon; Psalms 105

“So here I am, an old man, a prisoner for Christ, making my loving appeal to you.  It is on behalf of my child, whose spiritual father I became while here in prison; that is Onesimus.  Formally he was not valuable to you, but now he is valuable to both of us.  He is my very heart, and I’ve sent him back to you with this letter.” Philemon 1:10-12 TPT 

Do I have spiritual parents pleading for me, like Paul was for Onesimus?  I am thankful for the wisdom filled women that God has given me over the years. I pray for strong mentors in the life of my kids, who can fill the spaces that I can’t.  My daughter has a youth leader who goes to battle for her mind.  I have a Heavenly Father who is praying on my behalf.  He knows when my heart has wondered and wants to see me reconciled back to him.

“I  would have preferred to keep him here by my side so that he could take your place as my helper during my imprisonment for the sake of the gospel. However, I did not want to make this decision without your consent, so that your act of kindness would not be a matter of obligation but out of willingness.  Perhaps you could think of it this way: he was separated from you for a short time so that you could have him back forever.  So welcome him no longer as a slave, but more than that, as a dearly loved brother.  He is that to me especially, and how much more so to you, both humanly speaking and in the Lord.” Philemon 1:13-16 NLT

Paul loved Onesimus, but he was willing to send him back to Philemon.

What do I need to let go of and trust the Lord with? Do I have faith that he can use every situation for good, like he did for Joseph?

“But he had already sent a man ahead of his people to Egypt; it was Joseph, who was sold as a slave.  His feet were bruised by strong shackles and his soul was held by iron.  God’s promise to Joseph purged his character until it was time for his dreams to come true.  Eventually, the king of Egypt sent for him, setting him free at last.” Psalms 105:17-20 TPT

Thank you Father that you pursue me.  That you don’t leave me where I am.  Your heart aches when I wonder and you long for me to be restored back to you. You call me friend. I am grateful for your love.  Amen.

“Don’t you ever forget his miracles and marvels.  Hold to your heart every judgement he has decreed.  For you are his servants, the true seed of Abraham, and you are the chosen ones, Jacob’s sons.  For he is the Lord our God, and his wise authority can be seen in all he does.  For though a thousand generations may pass away, he is still true to his word.  He has kept every promise he made to Abraham and to Isaac.” Psalms 105:5-9 TPT

Amy (amyctanner)

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Isaiah 49-52; Philippians 4, Psalms 92

“And now the Lord speaks-the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him.  The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength.  He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.  I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:5&6 NLT

God has been teaching me about restoration. He is showing me that I want things done quickly, but it takes time (usually more than I think). It’s a process. It’s messy. It doesn’t always go as planned.  God says, he “will do more than restore.” Restoration is not just about me. It is for others to see God’s glory. It takes the pressure off to feel like I have to do it on my own. I have to trust that he will use it for good.  But, do I?

“The Sovereign Lord has given me words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary.  Morning by morning he awakens me and opens my understanding to his will.”  Isaiah 50:4 NLT

It’s a daily pressing into him.  Knowing that he is the only one who can remove strongholds.

“Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem.  Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” Isaiah 52:2 NLT

It’s when a new rug in my daughter’s room starts to look more like a prayer rug. It becomes holy ground.  A place to fight the battle.  To feel the presence of God. To feel his peace.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6&7 NLT

I rest in this promise…

“This is what the Lord says: “At just the right time I will respond to you.  On the day of salvation I will help you.  I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them.” Isaiah 49:8

Dear Father, Help me to remember that you hear and answer my prayers, even when it is hardest to pray. Thank you for showing me your love. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning. And that you are making all things new. I am praising you before the breakthrough. You already have the victory. Amen.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.  It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening…You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!” Psalms 92 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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2 Chronicles 6-7; Matthew 3; Psalms 98-99

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.  For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy-a place where my name will be honored forever.  I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 NLT

I am seeing this verse in a new way.  The extravagant temple that Solomon built is a parallel to my body, His temple.  Am I surrendering it to Him?

He has set me apart.

He has made me holy.

He is watching over me.

He hears my prayers.

I am dear to his heart.

They cried to the Lord for help, and he answered them.  He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them.  O Lord our God, you answered them.  You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong.  Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain in Jerusalem, for the Lord our God is holy!” Psalms 99:6-9 NLT

God spoke to Israel in the pillar of a cloud.  There have been times when I have wondered why he isn’t  speaking to me in ways that he is to someone else.  I was recently asked to paint during the worship service at my church.  This was a huge step of faith for me and a fear I had to overcome.  One of my biggest stumbling blocks was that I didn’t know what to paint.  I prayed for God to reveal an image to me.  When he seemed to be silent, the doubt would creep in.  I was frustrated when I would hear other artists tell of images that God gave them. But, he did answer me, it was just in a different way that I was expecting. He showed me that it wasn’t as much about what I was painting, as it was surrendering to him and breaking the bondage of old ways of thinking. He spoke through my pastor and his word.  He provided in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.  I could feel his peace and presence like never before.

“Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power! The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!  He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.  The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” Psalms 98:1-3 NLT

Thank you Father that in you I have the victory.   That you hear me.  And you answer me.  I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; 2 Corinthians 3; Psalm 20

2 Samuel 11:1 (NIV)

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

Ah, David. How far you fell and how fast you slipped.

How easily I stand in contempt of you – and yet, are we not more alike than I’d want to admit?

You made one small decision, and that one small decision changed the course of your life and many other lives. You took that one step, and that one step led to another, which led to another, which led to yet another. And before you knew it, you’d reached unspeakable places – places of adultery, betrayal, and murder.

And while I have not reached those unspeakable places, I’ve often found myself unexpectedly in places I’d never set out to reach – places like bitterness, anger, resentment, and discouragement. Where did it start? How did it happen?

One small step.

Your first small step was staying home instead of leading your army to war. I’m sure you felt justified. You wanted a break; you deserved the rest. You trusted your leaders. So you stayed behind.

My first step is often the same. I need a break. I deserve a reward. I have to rest. And so I withdraw.

By withdrawing, you found yourself in a place you weren’t supposed to be, you saw things you weren’t supposed to see, and you acted on the desires and impulses of the moment.

And when I withdraw, I find myself alone, vulnerable to temptation, and acting on the desires and impulses of the moment.

Because one indulgence makes the next easier. Until you’re out of control. Until I’m out of control.

But God was faithful to you, even after your shocking failure. In His mercy, he sent you Nathan. Nathan, who so eloquently pierced your heart with the truth. Nathan, who warned you of the dire consequences of your actions. Nathan, who came back when you repented and showed you the love of God.

And God is faithful to me, even when I fail Him. Over, and over again. In His mercy, He sends me people. He sends me His word. He sends me the truth to pierce my heart. And He opens my eyes to the course my feet have chosen and the consequences that await me.

And like you, I cry out for repentance. And like you, the Lord loves me. He restores me. He refreshes me. He affirms His love for me. And He helps me to move past my mistakes and find my identity in Him instead of my failures.

 

Oh, Lord. I could never thank you enough for caring enough about me to chase me when I wander. Father, open my eyes to the weight of my choices and help me to recognize that there are no harmless steps when it comes to my relationship with you. I can either chose to move closer to you or father away; and Lord, I want to be closer! Help me to seek you more than me, and help me to desire your rewards more than my personal comfort. Thank you for your mercy and love, even when I fail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Ezra 3-4; Psalms 92; 1 John 1

“When the builders completed the foundation of the Lord’s Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets.  And the Levites, descendants of Asaph, clashed their cymbals to praise the Lord, just as King David had prescribed.  With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord:  “He is good! His faithful love for Israel  endures forever!”  Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid.  But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seem the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation.  The others, however, were shouting for joy.  The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.”  Ezra 3:10-12 NLT

Restoration has been a theme in my life for the past few years.  I can understand the feeling of joy mixed with sorrow.  The grief over what was and the hope for what will be.

These verses encourage me to…

Press On (the rebuilding of the new temple didn’t start until 50 years after the old one was destroyed).

Expect opposition.  Satan is a very real enemy, who wants to take me down. (“The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel…Than the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. ”Ezra 4:1&4 NLT)

Anticipate what God is doing.  Wait on him and be watchful. Listen to his voice.  Even when things don’t look like I thought they would, know that he can be trusted.

But the godly will flourish like palm tress and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!” Psalms 92:12-15 NLT

No one can stop the work that God has begun.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your faithfulness.  Thank you that you are working eveything for my good.  That you forgive my sins. For your promise to always be with me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33; Psalm 71; 2 Corinthians 3

I must admit I like the history of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33 a whole lot better than the story of him in 2 Kings 21 for it contains, as they say, “the rest of the story,” recounting the redeeming work of God in his life.

Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” In the two courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. (2 Kings 21:1-6) NIV

Manasseh was living about as far from the one, true, living God as you can get and he took the whole nation of Judah with him. In fact, the wording of 2 Chronicles 33:9 says they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites took over the land. He aroused God’s anger!

11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. (2 Chron 33:11-13) NIV

To me, that is Good News! God heard Manasseh, knew his heart, and was moved to return him back to power. He had learned that the LORD is God!

15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. 17 The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.

18 The other events of Manasseh’s reign, including his prayer to his God and the words the seers spoke to him in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, are written in the annals of the kings of Israel.[a] 19 His prayer and how God was moved by his entreaty, as well as all his sins and unfaithfulness, and the sites where he built high places and set up Asherah poles and idols before he humbled himself—all these are written in the records of the seers. (2 Chron.33:15-19) NIV

God allowed Manasseh a second chance to get it right. I read these verses and take great comfort in the fact that God gives us multiple chances to redo the choices we’ve made. It doesn’t matter how far off track we’ve gotten, Jesus is there to forgive us! I have my own version of “foreign gods” and I worshiped them instead of God. They have a way of taking us down the road where we can be defeated by our enemy, taken prisoner, and bound in shackles. Thankfully, we don’t have to stay there! I, too, cried out to the Lord in humble submission to Him with a repentant heart. He heard my cry, forgave me, and returned me to my “kingdom”. Were there consequences? You bet. Sin has a way of leaving residue sometimes. The power of God has enabled me to move beyond those bad choices to a place of praise (thank offerings)!

22 I will praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
    Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praise to you—
    I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
    all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
    have been put to shame and confusion. (Psalm 77:22-24) NIV

Lord, I thank you for the way you forgive me and redeem me. You are so good to me! Thank you for examples in the bible that show me no one is beyond redemption. Having experienced this freedom, I can do nothing but praise you. My heart is filled with gratitude and I will tell of your goodness all my days. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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