Tag Archives: Unity

Exodus 35; John 14; Proverbs 11; Ephesians 4

Then Moses told people of Israel, “The Lord has specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts.  He is a master craftsmen, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze.  He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood.  He is a master at every craft.  The Lord has given them special skills as engravers, designers, embroiders in blue, purple, and scarlet thread on fine linen cloth, and weavers.  They excel as craftsmen and as designers.” Exodus 35:30-35 NLT

There are times I doubt my calling as an artist.  It is encouraging to know that the Lord chose Bezalel and others for these specific purposes.  I think of when I was asked to paint during a worship service at church and I said no for years.  I kept thinking, “Why would an artist, who creates while they are alone, want to stand up in front of people and paint?” I let fear stop me.  But, when I finally stepped out in faith even when I was afraid, God used it to shift my perspective. To show me that it wasn’t about me.  That it was about worshipping him.  One Sunday I had two members of my church tell me that my painting meant something different to each of them.  I was amazed to see how the Spirit was moving in their hearts and mine. I always want to remember how he took that step of obedience and mustard seed faith and multiplied it for his kingdom.  So, that he gets the glory and I don’t think it’s all about me.

“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:2&25 NLT

How am I using my gifts to unify the body of Christ?

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.  Always be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is a one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” Ephesians 4:1-4 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for always being with me. Help me to live a life worthy of your calling.  I praise you for who you are.  I pray that I would look for opportunities to serve others.  Amen.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 44; Mark 14; Job 10; Romans 14

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.  So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.  Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat.  Remember all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble.  You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God.  Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.  But if you have doubts about whether you should eat something, you are sinning, you are sinning if you go ahead with it.  For you are not following your convictions.  If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”  Romans 14:17-23 NLT

Am I being a stumbling block or  helping unity? How often do I judge what someone else is doing, but haven’t looked at my own heart?  It’s not my job to convict, but the Holy Spirits. I am reminded that I need to pray for others, before I open my mouth.  And ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.  Why am I voicing my opinion? Is it to bring the person closer to the Lord. Or will it just push them away?

“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.”  He took Peter, James and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me…Then he returned and found the disciples asleep.  He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.  For the spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Mark 14:32-38 NLT

I can relate to Peter.  Sometimes I ‘fall asleep’ when Jesus has asked me to be alert and pray. I get overwhelmed and burdened. I am more susceptable to temptation.  My mind drifts into old habits or ways of coping that are not giving God glory.

“While he was eating, a woman came with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard.  She broke open the jar and poured perfume over his head.” Mark 14:3 NLT

Lord, I pray that my life would be an offering to you.  That I would hold nothing back from you.  Help me to live with open hands towards you.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Corinthians 14; Psalms 139

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.  You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!  You made the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.”  Psalms 139:1-14 NLT

I sat in the doctor’s office reciting my health history.  Thyroid cancer, acid reflux, anxiety… My 43 years were being summarized by this list on the screen.  I battled against fear and repeated, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” But, do I really believe it?  Has it sunk in enough that I can praise God for how he has made me?  Do I live like I am fully known and loved by Him?

“Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives-especially the ability to prophesy.  For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you.  You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious.  But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. ” 1 Corinthians 14:1-3 NLT

I was ready to go into the auditorium at church when I saw her crying in the hallway.  Another woman was there to comfort her. But should I stay and help? As I read these verses on gifting, I remember, ‘Let love be my highest goal’.  If it truly is, than am I willing to be inconvenienced for the unity of the body?  For some that might mean prophesying or speaking in tongues.  For me that morning it meant noticing someone in need.  Isn’t that what church is really all about anyway?  Showing up for each other and being vulnerable, when it would be easier to come and go unnoticed.

“Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize.  When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said.  But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.” 1 Corinthians 14:26 NLT 

Thank you Father for how you have made me.  That you give me abilities and gifts in the spirit.  I pray that I would use them for you.  Give me discernment and wisdom. Amen.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalms 139:&24 NLT.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Corinthians 12; Psalm 140

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, where everything goes wrong and you feel like an idiot? And then the thoughts start running through your mind…

“God can’t use me. There are others who are so much better. I’m not like them, so I’m not good enough.”

Or maybe it was one of those other days. The ones where you’re ready to go and someone slows you down. Then the thought process goes more like…

“This makes sense to me. Why can’t she understand this? Why don’t they just do it my way? This would be so much easier if I could just do it myself.”

Unity in diversity. It’s a great idea; but sometimes, unfortunately, it’s simply that: an idea. Especially within the church. It’s so easy to begin to see differences as a negative and to get caught up in comparison, for better or for worse.

But our differences were part of God’s plan.

1 Corinthians 12 (NIV)

Verses 4-6:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Verse 12:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

Verse 15-17:
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

Verses 21-22
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

Instead of comparing myself to others, I need to focus on honoring others. I need to remember that we are all on the same team. The ones who are stronger, I can support and respect as I follow in their footsteps. The ones who are weaker, I can encourage and strengthen as they grow in their faith.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (NIV)
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Father, thank you for the diversity in the church and for your supernatural grace to bring about unity in the midst of the differences we all have. Thank you for you caring enough about each of us to give us a purpose and role in your church and in your mission to rescue the world. Forgive me for making your mission about me and comparing myself to others. Help me to build up the body of Christ and help me to see others as you see them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Judges 19-21; Mark 16

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT).

These are the opening words to a tragedy. A story that ends with this:

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).


The tragic story in Judges 19-21 didn’t begin when the troublemakers of Gibeah beat on an old man’s door.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judges 19:22, NLT).

It began here:

There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem (Judges 19:1b-2, NLT).

Whatever happened between them, I don’t know. But something happened, and she reacted. Likely, he didn’t count the cost of his actions. Surely, she didn’t count the cost of her actions. Catastrophe starts small, with an unchecked thought, word or action.

I sit with words, watching a scene unfold, grimacing at the abandonment (a host abandoning his daughter; a husband abandoning his wife; troublemakers abandoning all decency and mercy), eyes widening in shock as deaths mount by the thousands in a warfare of tribe against tribe.

I can look all over these scriptures and point out places where there’s fault. And maybe there’s something to their opening and end:

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT) … 25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).

Father God, you are Lord over all. Be Lord over my life. Be Lord over my heart. Be Lord over my words. Be Lord over my actions. I don’t want to be right in my own eyes. I want to live right by your standards. I only want your approval.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Judges, Old Testament

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

Isaiah 23-25; 1 Corinthians 3

Today we can reflect on our contribution to the churches we all love and support. What are you doing with your life to build the ministry of your local church? Please read 1 Corinthians 3:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3 [ESV]).

First we are to support one another and not be divisive in the local church. Are you supporting your leaders praying for them regularly and those you serve with?

Second are doing good work in the church that will only be purified by fire when we meet Jesus? Or are our works so full of wood, hay and stubble that we will smell like smoke when we enter His presence?

Third, do you know where your place is in the local church? You find that out through discovering how the Holy Spirit has gifted you. Some of us are teachers others administrators. Some are craftsman(women) and others exporters. Be who God has created you to be. Don’t try to be someone else.

In Philippians 4 the Apostle Paul calls out two women Euodia and Syntyche. They were arguing and it had broken out in the church. Extra biblical documents show that the church in Philippi was still arguing with itself 100 years later long after Euodia and Syntyche were gone. Don’t be a part of establishing that kind of pattern in your church.

I have friends who said that when the church in Ukraine had to make a decision — do we register with the government or don’t we — many broke into tears as they realized their church was being split down the middle. And today even with 26 years of religious freedoms those churches still remain separate. What a loss.

Let’s be the people that do good works in our local churches that last through all eternity and let’s not do anything to destroy our unity in the gospel.

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