Tag Archives: worship

Genesis 24-26; Luke 7; Psalm 6

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9 ESV

When I was a child, prayer was the easiest thing ever. It just made sense. If something is wrong, if you need something, if you’re feeling lonely, just pray. But the older I grew, the more I understood what was going on around me and the more the world began to affect my perspective. Faith became harder. As an adult, it’s so much “easier” to take matters into my own hands – to have faith in myself more than faith in God – and therefore, to act more like Esau than Eleizer; to act more like an outsider than an insider.

I can’t help but notice a consistent contrast in today’s readings – how, in Genesis 24, Eleizer showed great faith in asking God to provide the right woman for him to bring back to his master. He was specific in his prayer, and showed determination to wait. But in chapter 25, we see Esau’s impulsive nature and unwillingness to wait when he traded his birthright for a simple bowl of food.

Eleizer was a servant; an outsider. But Esau was part of the family, the oldest son, the one who should have had the most faith in God and was in the best position to see and experience God at work in his life. And yet Eleizer is the one who actually got to experience God, while Esau showed that he despised the opportunity God had given him.

Fast forward to Luke 7, and again we see amazing faith from an unlikely source – the Roman officer who believed all Jesus needed to do was say the word and his servant would be healed. Jesus marveled at this – not even the Jews had such faith!

The greatest examples of faith came from the outsiders, not the insiders. The “insiders,” the ones who should have immediately believed because they had the promise, instead doubted and questioned and tried to take matters into their own hands.

Luke 7:36-50 shows the result of living out our faith in Christ versus living by faith in ourselves. When we struggle with control, when we try to figure things out for ourselves, and when we live based on what we can see, it’s easy to become bitter – to become, ultimately, a Pharisee. In my life, the quickest way for me to tell when things have gotten off-track is by my attitude toward others. When I become frustrated, impatient, and skeptical of others, it’s a sign that I’m living with a self-centered mindset instead of a Christ-centered mindset.

But when I am attempting to live my life based on faith in Christ, in his power, ability,and promises, my attitudes and actions change dramatically. Rather than a Pharisee, I begin to act more like the woman whose sins had been forgiven. Out of the overflow of her grateful heart, she sacrificed something very precious. Because Jesus was worth it.

My goal is to be more like the woman who poured out what she had at Jesus’ feet; I want to be one who loves much because she’s been forgiven much. I want to be one who trusts what God can do more than what I can do. I want to believe that it just takes a word, and Jesus can make it happen – and I want that belief to move me to wait expectantly.

Father, thank you for loving me enough to show me when I’ve gotten off-track and become self-consumed and trusting in what I can do instead of what you can do. Open my eyes anew to who you are and what you have done for me, and help me to live out of the overflow of a grateful heart. Help me to love much; help me to pray in faith; and help me to wait in hope and confidence that you are at work even when I can’t initially see it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Bethany (drgnfly1010)

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Filed under 66 Books, Genesis, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament

Job 12-14; Psalm 100; Revelation 13

“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” Job 12:13 NLT

Job’s friends were trying to make sense of his suffering.  Even though Job himself, didn’t understand, he pointed them to the one who he knew did.  He knew where true wisdom could be found.

“O God, grant me these two things, and then I will be able to face you.  Remove your heavy hand from me, and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence.  Now summon me, and I will answer! Or let me speak to you, and you reply.  Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin.  Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me your enemy?” Job 13:20-24 NLT

There have been times in my life when my faith has been stretched and I wonder what God is doing.  I can relate to Job, when I think that God’s silence means that I have done something wrong.  But, I’m learning to lean in and trust in the waiting.

“Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches.  Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling.  “But when people die, their strength is gone.  They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again.  Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.  “I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed.  But mark your calendar to think of me again!  Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death.  You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.  For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins.  My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover my guilt.”  Job 14:7-17 NLT

I am thankful that I don’t struggle without hope.  Even when things seem dark, I know that light is coming.  Jesus is near. I grapple with Job’s questions and vulnerability.  He didn’t have the knowledge of Jesus like I do. Yet, he still pressed in, when it would have been easier to fall away.

Help me to remember Lord, in times of silence, you are teaching me to depend on you.  Thank you for friends who point me to you.  Thank you for your word and your promises.  Help me to praise you in the midst of suffering. Amen.

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy.   Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  He made us, and we are his.  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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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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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Nehemiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation, Uncategorized

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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1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; 1 Timothy 6

What is your divine calling? Many times we hear that question we think of those that have been called into full time Christian service, or we think of the opportunities we have to share our faith in the market place. However, have we thought of our divine calling to be the job God has called us to? What do you do for a living? Is that a divine calling enough.

I believe that is what the Apostle Paul was getting at in these first two verses of 1 Timothy 6,

1 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved (1 Timothy 6:1&2 [ESV])

Yes, there will be times to share our faith with coworkers and customers. There will be times we can participate in actions that are gospel related. However have you looked at what you do day in and day out as divine calling? Is it something God has called you to do and in the act of doing your job well and with excellence will bring glory to God and benefit his mission in this world?

When you go to your job today — whether in the home or marketplace — keep this in mind. The very act of working is your divine calling. Do it with excellence and with a sense of duty to our Creator.

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Numbers 3-5; Hebrews 12

It is March. I am entering a third month of six where I purposed to make changes in my life after a (last) year that took a physical and emotional toll. While some big things were accomplished (yay!) in February, I noticed the smaller, daily goals weren’t always met. Why was that? I was too tired. I was too busy. I just didn’t care. I thought for a long time about perseverance and endurance and following through.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1, NLT)

I knew I needed to be mindful of the things and thoughts that were tripping me up. I looked up scriptures for direction and encouragement, keyword: training. I found a verse that surprised me. In my pursuit of the practical, visible things, I had nearly neglected to consider the spiritual, eternal ones.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12:2a, NLT)

Oh, if I look to the wrong reward, how far off will I be from the true mark? Lord, I seek your kingdom.

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:14-15, NLT)

It is March, and I press on, my grip renewed.

11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. (Hebrews 12:11-13, NLT)

Thank you, Father.

28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire. (Hebrews 12:28-19, NLT)

I praise your name.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, New Testament, Uncategorized

Exodus 35-37; Psalms 26; Philippians 4

“Come, all of you who are gifted craftsman. Construct everything that the Lord has commanded: the Tabernacle and its sacred tent, its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts, and bases; the Ark and its carrying poles; the Ark’s cover-the place of atonement; the inner curtain to shield the Ark.” Exodus 35:10-12 NLT

My one word for the year is TRUST. But, since I had a difficult time narrowing it down to just that word, give and create are also on that list. I’ve come to realize they both fall under the umbrella of trust. I have to trust that God will take what I offer him and use it for his purposes, even if I can’t see it now. He cares about the big and small details. So many details went into the making of the Tabernacle, Ark, Table, Lamp stand and Incense altar. He didn’t just ask anyone to make it. He chose certain craftsman (Exodus 36:1 NLT). This is such a great reminder that when my calling feels small and insignificant, he sees me and gave me unique skills that only I can do.

“Then Moses said to the whole community of Israel, “This is what the Lord has commanded: Take a sacred offering to the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread; fine linen and goat hair for cloth; tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the lamps.” Exodus 35:4-8 NLT

The people were generous in their help donating material things towards the completion of the sanctuary. They gave. They didn’t hold back. What might I be holding back from the Lord? Being generous and living in community will cost me something… time, energy and resources. Do I trust that God will supply what I need like Paul did?

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward in kindness. At the moment I have all I need-and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And the same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:11-19 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your provision. I pray that I wouldn’t let fear hold me back from what you called me to do. Help me to love others and share my life with them. Amen.

“I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Now I stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the Lord.” Psalms 26:1&12 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under Exodus, Philippians, Psalms