Tag Archives: vision

Nehemiah 1-3; Revelation 5

And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people (Revelation 5:8, NLT).

When I went back to see my doctor after cataract surgery, I knew that I was going to thank him for restoring my sight. What I said to him came from my heart, and gratitude brings me to tears.

During sunrise walks, I think on things that God has done in my life. I challenge myself to discern what a walk with God should look like. I meditate on messages I get through podcasts, and sometimes am brought to tears (like yesterday when one podcast played music from Rocky, an inside story that God would know, and I’m moved mightily by his attention to detail).

In 2017, I chose a focus word RESTORE. I thought specifically that it would mean restoration in a broken relationship, but it didn’t. With some distance in hindsight, I see that year was the beginning of God restoring me. Fixing the brokenness, strengthening weak spots, releasing me from shackles (mindsets and practices) generations long. And today, in 2018, I am lighter in every respect. Life isn’t easier, but I see it in a different way, literally.

That gold bowl of incense holds my prayers. It holds my hurts and deepest hopes. It holds my crying and struggling expressions. It holds Nehemiah’s prayers too. Fragrant offerings.

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.

“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’

10 “The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. 11 O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” (Nehemiah 1:5-11, NLT)

God made a way for Nehemiah and many others to begin repairing (restoring) the wall in Jerusalem. In Nehemiah, he lists by name the families who came out and where they repaired the broken and weak spots. Perfumers, goldsmiths, merchants, daughters–all had positions to work.

(20 “Next to him was Baruch son of Zabbai, who zealously repaired an additional section from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.” Nehemiah 3:20, NLT. I love this notation, emphasis added.)

Imagine a focus and purpose to act on what is in front of us: broken relationships; generational sins; ownership of what is in our ability; a ruthless assessment of our condition, neglect or weakness–couldn’t those things, wouldn’t those things be lifted up to our great God, a fragrant offering in a gold bowl; oh, couldn’t he, wouldn’t he make a way for his people?

28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house. 29 Next Zadok son of Immer also rebuilt the wall across from his own house, and beyond him was Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the gatekeeper of the East Gate. 30 Next Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section, while Meshullam son of Berekiah rebuilt the wall across from where he lived (Nehemiah 3:28-30, NLT).

Lord Jesus, when I think of how you have transformed my life these past two years, I am brought to tears (and more so with a Rocky soundtrack, thank you!) at your care, your provision, your direction, your protection in my life. Lord, help me to discern where I should focus this next year, places of neglect and disrepair, and may I work zealously for you like Baruch. Help me to keep the focus. Help me to persevere. I am so deeply grateful for your love.

Courtney (66books365)

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Esther 7-10; Revelation 3

“On that same day King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther.  Then Mordecai was brought before the king, for Esther had told the king how they were related.  The king took off his signet ring-which he had taken back from Haman-and gave it to Mordecai.  And Esther appointed Mordecai to be in charge of Haman’s property.  Then Esther went again before the king, falling down at his feet and begging him with tears to stop the evil plot devised by Haman the Agagite against the Jews.  Again the king held out the gold scepter to Esther.  So she rose and stood before him.  Esther said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor with him, and if he thinks it is right, and if I am pleasing to him, let there be a decree that reverses the orders of Haman son of Agagite, who ordered that Jews throughout all the king’s provinces should be destroyed.  For how can I endure to see my people and my family slaughtered and destroyed?”  Esther 8:1-6 NLT

Esther had great faith.  She didn’t let fear control her.  She believed in God’s protection.

“Then Mordecai left the king’s presence, wearing the royal robe of blue and white, the great crown of gold, and an outer cloak of fine linen and purple.  And the people of Susa celebrated the new decree.  The joys were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere.”…“And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea.  Now all the acts of his power and his might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.” Esther 8:15&16; 10:1-3 NLT

Even though Mordecai was convicted to die, he became the second highest ranking official in the nation.

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.  I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.  All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of God, and they will never have to leave it.  And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God-the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God.  And I will also write on them my new name.  ”  Revelation 3: 10-12 NLT

When I hear about bad things happening in the world today, my first reaction is not always that God is in control.  It is often times, fear.  I question God, instead of trust him.  I try to figure things out on my own.  But, when I remember that my citizenship is in Heaven, I rest in God’s sovereignty.  And can view my own problems in the light of eternity.

Dear Father, Help me to trust you, even when I don’t understand.  Thank you that you can turn the darkest situations around for good.  I want to have a faith like Esther and Mordecai.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0wpP5o7xpI

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Jeremiah 47, 48, 49; Psalm 80; 2 Peter 2

I’m scheduled to have cataract surgery on my right eye soon. I’ve lost my ability to discern detail out of my eye; and rainy conditions, bright sun or headlights are  problematic. The doctor explained what he would do, and offered alternatives to me if I felt I couldn’t tolerate the intense light or remain still during the procedure.

When I run, I keep my eyes on the space in front of my feet, because looking up can make the journey seem too long, or the positioning of the sun on the horizon is uncomfortable for my gaze. Yesterday was a perfect fall day, and when I reached the top of the hill, I looked out over treetops, glimpsed wisps of clouds, watched a skein of geese flying south, the sun winking and twinkling through the treeline. It was so bright and hard for me to look long, but it was beautiful and I tried as long as I could–the whole sky lit up. I squinted at its brilliance.

While what I can see is a very real thing for me, I am reminded of the things I can’t see, and I pray to the Lord to keep my vision holy. I can look at the facts of a situation and they shape my initial impression, but there are unseen motivations at work as well, and I ask God to give me the ability to see spiritually. Oh, Lord, keep my vision holy.

He is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

37 I myself will go with Elam’s enemies to shatter it.
    In my fierce anger, I will bring great disaster
    upon the people of Elam,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 49:37, NLT)

I read about destruction and restoration in Jeremiah. Wrath poured out. And he will go with the armies, stand against enemies and shatter them. He is powerful.

Turn us again to yourself, O God.
    Make your face shine down upon us.
    Only then will we be saved.
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies,
    how long will you be angry with our prayers?
You have fed us with sorrow
    and made us drink tears by the bucketful.
You have made us the scorn of neighboring nations.
    Our enemies treat us as a joke.

Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies.
    Make your face shine down upon us.
    Only then will we be saved. (Psalm 80:3-7, NLT)

He is merciful.

It’s easy to focus on the things I can see, but that is only part of the picture. A warning in 2 Peter:

19 They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. 20 And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. 21 It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. (2 Peter 2:19-21, NLT)

Lord, I fix my focus on you–the way, the truth, the life. I cling to you, True Vine. I don’t want to be deceived by lies and manipulation (alternatives that dim the light and freeze my focus). I choose truth. I want to walk in the path you have chosen for me, knowing that you go with me. Oh, Lord, keep my vision holy. Let my words and actions show that you are master of my heart, my Lord and Savior.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 45-48; 1 Corinthians 13

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily.  “If it is a good morning,” he said.  “Which I doubt,” said he.  AA Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Eeyore moments are no laughing matter. When our vision is confined to what we see, despair, anger and depression follow. Isaiah and his people have every earthly reason to throw up their hands and give in to the darkness around them. Morally bankrupt leaders and nations are on the attack; the world as they know it is collapsing around them. It is only natural that the people of Israel take an Eeyore posture, but God speaks and commands his people to listen.

“I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right.”                     Isaiah 45:19

“…And there is not God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other…Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.’  All  who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.”   Isaiah 45:22

God appeals to Israel’s imagination; He gives them a vision of what is to come:

“Before me every knee will bow; by every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength. All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the Lord and all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.”                                                                                                                                                                                      Isaiah 45:23-25

I hear God asking me about my hopes and dreams. To whom and in what am I entrusting my future? Politicians, pastors, 401K’s? My own ability to figure things out? My force of will and determination? When I hit snags in personal relationships, do I trust in my sense of personal righteousness and insist on my way, or do I submit to God’s definition of love (1 Corinthians 13)?  Do I allow Him to win the day  even when if things appear to be a total loss?

O dear Father,  thank you for calling me by name and telling me to listen. Your Word sits before me;  you speak. I am listening. Have your way in my life. Strengthen my humble faith so that I trust you in all things—the major and the minor, no matter how things appear. Teach me to sing of your beauty and goodness in all things and in all times.

Klueh

From the archives. Originally published September 9, 2016.

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Deuteronomy 10; Psalms 94; Isaiah 38; Revelation 8

Unless the Lord had helped me, I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave. I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer…But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.” Psalms 94:17-19;22 NLT

My heart is heavy this morning for my little nine year old guy. He has been battling fear and anxiety in his mind that I know all too well. As his mom I just want to take it away from him. I know what it is like to be paralyzed by fear and to let that hold me back from doing what God has called me to do. I am thankful that God is patient with me. He sees me as his beloved child. He wants what is best for me. He is the best parent.

Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it-the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.” Isaiah 38:17-20 NLT

Hezekiah understood that God can work all things for good. His life was a testimony to that. As hard as it is to see my child struggle, I pray this for him as well. Do I trust the Father’s heart toward me? Am I desiring for God to get the glory from my life? How awesome it is to think of my children telling their children of the great things the Lord has done.

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.” Deuteronomy 10:12&13 NLT

Thank you Father that you hear my prayers. Thank you that I can look back and see your faithfulness in my life. Thank you for the perspective of generations coming to know you. Forgive me for my pride and selfishness.  I give you all the praise. Amen.

Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.” Revelation 8:3&4 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 18; Matthew 17; Nehemiah 7; Acts 17

The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?“Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son. But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Genesis 18:13-15 NLT

If I am honest with myself, there have been times when I have laughed at God like Sarah did. I’m sure she didn’t think that God heard her, since it says that she “laughed within herself” (Gen 18:12NKJV) She even denied it, but God knew her heart. How many times has God spoke to me, but I laugh instead. I explain away my disobedience. God was fulfilling His purpose in Sarah’s life. He is fulfilling his purpose in my life too. Even when I am confused and don’t understand. I am thankful for a God who is much more patient with me, than I am with myself. He pursues me. He never gives up on me. I give up on people far too easily. Sometimes I stop praying for them if it seems they are beyond reach. But God is prodding and showing me that he is still working in hearts.

Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, we can’t get away from him!” Acts 17:26-28 MSG

Abraham asked the Lord to show mercy on Sodom.

Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for a lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of forty.” Gen 18:28-29 NLT

Nehemiah listened to God to return the exiles from captivity.

Then God put it into my heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, the people, that they might be registered by genealogy…There are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away.” Nehemiah 7:5&6 NLT

The disciples were relying on their own strength.

Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:19-20 NLT

Dear Jesus, Help me to be obedient to your plans for my life. I pray that I would listen to your voice even when it is hard. You might be using those times to refine me. Asking me to step out in faith to overcome my fear. Thank you that you are always with me. Give me a boldness and courage that can only be found in you. Help me to truly love others like you do. And to reach out to them with your grace and mercy, like you have done to me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Daniel 4-6; John 18

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity. But one night I had a dream that frightened me; I saw visions that terrified me as I lay in bed. At last Daniel came in before me, and I told him the dream. “While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see.” Daniel 4:4-11NLT

Just like I can lose sight of God’s hand in my life, the King had forgotten that it was God who built the city and not him. “As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.” Daniel 4:30 NLT. The king was relying on his own strength. And even though he was professing the Lord with his mouth, his heart had turned prideful. God used this dream to humble the king and show him that He is in control.

God has used situations in my life to remind me that I am not in control and to draw me closer to him. Recently, I was worried and afraid. My husband asked me, “Did you pray about it?” It sounded so simple, but I had not. He prayed for me, and afterwards I felt a great sense of peace. Sometimes, I am apprehensive about being vulnerable, even with God. But, God is showing me, that can be a form of pride. Because, when I admit my weakness…it’s God’s power that is displayed in my life, not mine.

Daniel willingly went into the lion’s den. It didn’t mean that he wasn’t afraid, but he trusted his Father to take care of him. Do I?

Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions mouth so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your majesty.” Daniel 6:20&21 NLT

Dear Father,  Forgive me when pride creeps in. Because, you have given me everything that I have, my very life. I pray that I would use it to further your Kingdom and not my own. Thank you for Jesus, who is the greatest example of humility. Amen.

Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthy kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world. Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true” John 18:36&37 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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