Tag Archives: transformation

Genesis 9,10; Matthew 9; Ezra 9; Acts 9

Not everyone goes to a doctor when they’re sick. Sometimes, they wait for illness to pass on its own. Sometimes they mask symptoms with temporary remedies just so they can get through the day or night. Sometimes they become so accustomed to the pain and discomfort that it becomes the new normal, and they don’t realize how bad off they are.

Jesus performs a lot of miracles in Matthew 9. He first forgives a paralyzed man for his sins–for which the watching teachers scoff. So Jesus tells the man to stand, take his mat and go (he does). Another man asks Jesus to come to his house because his daughter just died. On the way, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years reaches out to be healed, and is healed. (The dead daughter is raised again.) Two blind men encounter Jesus and their sight is restored. Jesus heals the sick.

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13, NLT)

Sick people go to a doctor to get well, not to stay sick. These examples are of sick people (paralyzed, bleeding, dead, blind) who are healed. An encounter with Jesus is life changing.

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17, NLT)

I sit at this table this morning with these words. They are rich and full. Readings from four different books covering sin, legacy, life change, faith, prayer, transformation.

If he wanted me to stay just as I was, he need not have come. I might have waited for my affliction to pass, or continued to treat it myself, or worst of all–lived life oblivious of my infirmity and just accepted it as part of me.

Thank you, Lord, for all your miracles, not only to heal physically, but to transform spiritually. You love us so much. This wine in new wineskins so that both are preserved. You are so good.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Ezekiel 31-32; James 2

James 2:14-24 (NIV)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

 

Faith requires action.

It’s easy to say I believe something. But it’s not always easy to prove it.

I once heard someone say that a faith that costs you nothing is not faith at all.

Here in James 2 we read of the importance of putting action into our faith. As an illustration, we are reminded of Abraham’s faith, when he carried his son to the altar to sacrifice to God. While he did not physically sacrifice him, Abraham proved his faith in God by surrendering his son to God’s will, whatever that may look like, believing that God was good, God loved him, and that God would keep His promise to Abraham. But this was not an easy journey for Abraham – it took him decades to learn this kind of faith.

But what about me? What does my faith look like? Do my actions match my speech?

It’s easy to say I believe God loves me. But am I living as though I am confident of His acceptance?

It’s easy to say I believe God is good. But when bad things happen, am I choosing to “trust and obey” until I see that goodness?

It’s easy to say God answers prayer. But is prayer my first response when I am in need?

It’s easy to say I love my neighbor. But am I actually encouraging, strengthening, and providing for them as opportunities arise?

It’s easy to say I care about the lost. But when was the last time I shared God’s hope with someone who does not know Him?

My dad used to say, “Your walk talks and your talk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

What does my walk say? Does it say I have faith in me, in my own abilities, and in what I feel to be true? Or does my walk show that I have put my trust in God and I believe Him to be who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do?

Faith in myself leads me to be self-centered. If I’m not noticing those around me, if I’m not praying for those I know, if I’m not offering encouragement to those who are hopeless, if I’m not providing for those in need, it is a sign that I’m paying more attention to me than to God.

But when my faith in God is secure, I can trust Him to provide for me. This leads me to be a giver. I can be generous with everyone I encounter and give of them what I have received from God, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical.

 

Father, forgive me for becoming self-consumed and unaware of those around me. Forgive me for not trusting You to provide for me and for becoming overly concerned with my own needs instead of letting you provide for them. Help me to see those around me. Help me to meet the needs of those you place in my path each and every day. Help me to prove my faith by my actions of love and generosity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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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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1 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 13&14; Matthew 22

“Abijam began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel.  he reigned in Jerusalem three years.  His mother was Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom.  He committed the same sins as his father before him, and he was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been.  But for David’s sake, the Lord his God allowed his descendants to continue ruling, shining like a lamp, and he gave Abijam a son to rule after him in Jerusalem.  For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hitite.  Asa began his rule over Judah in the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel.  He reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years.  His grandmother was Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom.  Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done.  Although the pagan sinners were not removed, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life.” 1 Kings 15:9-14 NLT

This passage has me thinking about God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and family lines.   Abijam’s and Asa’s mother and grandmother are mentioned by name.  As well as who their grandmother was. What was the purpose of them being mentioned?  Was it to show their influence?  That they were not overlooked?  I wonder how many prayers they had prayed for their family?  Even when sin entered David’s life, God’s goodness prevailed.  He saw David’s heart and kept his covenant with him.  David must have been bursting with pride over Asa’s devotion to the Lord.  This is fresh in my thoughts after visiting my dad in the hospital a couple days ago.  Watching my oldest son pray for his grandfather.  A legacy of faith being passed down through generations.

Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars.  The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.  So Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah.  Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord your God, for we trust in you alone.  It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde.  O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”  So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.”  2 Chronicles 14:7, 10-12 NLT

Asa was victorious because he sought the Lord.  He didn’t rely on his own strength. He remained faithful to the Lord, when I’m sure it would have been easier to give up.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment under the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NLT

Dear Father, thank you that you hear me.  That you see me.  Forgive me for when I want to follow my own way.  Help me to love others like you love me.  Amen.

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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Leviticus 15-18; Acts 9

To be honest, I never thought much about the word scapegoat until today.

“Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord.Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. 10 The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the Lord … 21 He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. 22 As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land. (Leviticus 16:6-10; 21-22 NLT).

I thought about how people choose another to be the scapegoat in communities and circumstances, banishing and blaming someone.

Saul, pre-Paul, was a hater and hunter of Christians, but he had a transforming encounter with the Lord (I am particularly moved by his blindness and then vision not only restored but with added Kingdom focus) that changed him, igniting him with passion.

21 All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?” (Acts 9:21, NLT)

Jesus has the power to change everything and equip us for tasks we never imagined. He desires change in us, turning from former ways, to follow him with whole hearts. His easy yoke. His burden, light. Free. New.

Father God, I’m grateful when you look at me, you see my heart. You know the plans you have for me. You sing over me. Jesus took the sin of the world so that I can be a daughter. When I look at what my life was before Christ, I am amazed at your transforming work. Thank you that when I look up at the stars at night, I can actually see them, but even more, that you have given me a Kingdom focus. I pray I always keep my eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Leviticus, New Testament, Old Testament

Genesis 35-37; Luke 11

“Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there.  Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.”  So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing.  We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress.  He has been with me wherever I have gone.”  Genesis 35:1-3 NLT

Jacob’s family didn’t leave for Bethel until they threw away all of all their pagan idols.  I imagine Jacob telling them not to pack the idols and try to hide them.  What idols am I still holding onto? So many times I give them to God and take them back.  It hinders me from moving forward to what God has for me next.

Jacob knew that God would be with him, just like he was before. If only I could remember that more often.  I think that’s why it’s important to have “altars” in my life to remember all God has done. He was with me, even when I felt like he was far away.  He was working when I couldn’t see it.  It spurs on my faith for future unanswered prayers.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10 NLT

I was talking to a friend’s daughter who is in the process of looking for a college.  She wants to go to the same art college that I went to.  As I was telling her about my experience there, I was remembering all of God’s goodness.  It wasn’t the first college I went to. I transferred there from a Christian college.  I was planning on commuting, but I needed transportation.  God provided a car.   As I stood in the art store on one of my first days there, I met a girl who was involved in a small Christian group on campus.  God was showing me that I wasn’t alone. That he was intimately involved in my life.  Reciting his faithfulness, gives me the hope that he is not finished with me yet.  His plans are still good.

Fast forward 25 years or so later.  And I am still asking Him what it looks like for this 43 year old mom of four to use her gifts. Trying to discipline myself to make it a priority.  Sometimes it means becoming an intern at my church so that I catch up on skills that are foreign to me.  And trusting God in the process. Remembering when I stepped out of my comfort zone before, gives me the courage to do it again.

Thank you Father for always meeting me where I am.  Forgive me for when I doubt.  I pray that my weaknesses would bring me closer to you.  And that my faith would flourish (my one word this year). Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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