Tag Archives: worship

1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 29; 2 Corinthians 11; Psalm 95

It is the end of David’s life, and he gives final instructions to Solomon. He advises him on future, and he reminds him of betrayals of the past. David started as a hard-working shepherd in the fields. He died a king.

26 So David son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. 27 He reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 28 He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place (1 Chronicles 29:26-28, NLT).

Solomon had a kingdom to rule. His reign would not be without testing. First Kings 2 includes details of some of Solomon’s challenges, and how he established his rule.

Paul was Saul before his encounter with Christ. A man who once persecuted followers of Jesus, now devotes his life to truth–whatever the cost. While this passage speaks of Paul’s hardships, it is a boast of God’s faithfulness in Paul’s weakness.

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, NLT).

I pay attention to these stories. I note the challenges, the hardship, the betrayal, the legacy. But central to it all, all these stories and struggles, is the Lord.

Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care (Psalm 95:6-7, NLT).

Lord, I am grateful for truth. It is worth protecting and preserving and honoring.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 21-23; 2 Cor. 7; Psalms 55

“There was a famine during David’s reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it.  And the Lord said, “The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites.”  So the king summoned the Gibeonites.  They were not part of Israel but were all that was left of the nation of the Amorites.  The people of Israel had sworn not to kill them, but Saul, in his zeal for Israel and Judah, had tried to wipe them out.  David asked them, “What can I do for you? How can I make amends so that you will bless the Lord’s people again?”  2 Samuel 21:1-3 NLT

“So David asked the Lord about it.”  This sentence jumps off the page at me.  It doesn’t say that David questioned God, but instead he asked him a question like a trusted friend.  It doesn’t say that he was worried or upset.  His faith in God was secure. He knew who to turn to during a hard season, that was lasting a long time.  Where has there been a famine in my own life? An unanswered prayer or unfulfilled dream? The waiting is hard, but David knew enough about God’s character, that he didn’t lose heart.  

“David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul.  He sang: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.  He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.  he is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:1-3 NLT

I find myself listening intently to David’s last words.

“These are the last words of David: “David the son of Jesse, speaks- David, the man who was raised up so high, David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, David, the sweet psalmist of Israel.  “The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me; his words are upon my tongue.  The God if Israel spoke.  The Rock of Israel said to me: ‘The one who rules righteously, who rules in the fear of the God, is like the light of morning at sunrise, like a morning without clouds, like the gleaming sun on new grass after rain.’  2 Samuel 23:1-4 

God hears a repentive heart.  Is there anything that I am holding onto that I need to give over to him?

“Because we have these promised, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit.  And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.  Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such readiness to punish wrong.  You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right. ” 2 Corinthians 7:1,-11 NLT

Dear Father, Help me to have a faith like David.  To remember your faithfulness, your promises and your unfailing love for me. Amen.

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalms 55:22 NLT

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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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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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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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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