Friday, August 9, 2013

Unfailing Love

Today's reading:
Psalm 36 (NLT)

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.
They have no fear of God at all.
In their blind conceit,
they cannot see how wicked they really are.
Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.
They refuse to act wisely or do good.
They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good.
They make no attempt to turn from evil.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.

Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
give justice to those with honest hearts.
Don’t let the proud trample me
or the wicked push me around.
Look! Those who do evil have fallen!
They are thrown down, never to rise again.

 I'm having a hard time focusing.... Today marks the one-year anniversary of my nephew's death. I'm distracted. I can't quit thinking about my SIL.... I desperately want to reach out but what do I say? And when I try to read this Scripture in view of what I'm feeling in the moment the one thing that stands out is unfailing love. And I go back and forth between comfort and feeling like its all a bit cliché. I guess that's the reality of the human condition. I will say shortly after my nephew's passing I came across this verse in Psalm and it gave me great comfort...because it was so him... I know this to be true of his situation. He is fully satisfied....

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Witnesses....

Today's pre-dated Scripture card is Isaiah 43:1 "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are mine."
So I read the what fell under the Sub-heading 'The Savior of Israel' verses 1-13:
Isaiah 43:1-13 (NLT)

The Savior of Israel

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from east and west.
I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.
Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.’”

Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf. (How often has this been me? How many times have I read a Scripture only to have an "Ah-Ha!" moment later on. How many times have I missed it completely? How many times has this deeper understanding felt like it was just on the horizon but I just never reach it? How many times have I just been a fool (Jeremiah 5:21) or rebellious (Ezekiel 12:2)?)
Gather the nations together!
Assemble the peoples of the world!
Which of their idols has ever foretold such things?
Which can predict what will happen tomorrow?
Where are the witnesses of such predictions?
Who can verify that they spoke the truth?

“But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the Lord.
“You are my servant.
You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
and understand that I alone am God.
There is no other God—
there never has been, and there never will be.
I, yes I, am the Lord,
and there is no other Savior
.
First I predicted your rescue,
then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
No foreign god has ever done this.
You are witnesses that I am the only God,”
says the Lord.
“From eternity to eternity I am God.
No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
No one can undo what I have done
.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

For When I'm Nearsighted....

Today's pre-dated Scripture card was for Proverbs 15:15 ".... for the happy heart, life is a continual feast." So I read the entire 15th chapter of Proverbs:

Proverbs 15 (NLT)

A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.

The Lord is watching everywhere,
keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

Gentle words are a tree of life;
a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline;
whoever learns from correction is wise.

There is treasure in the house of the godly,
but the earnings of the wicked bring trouble.

The lips of the wise give good advice;
the heart of a fool has none to give
. (Not that you're a fool because you have no advice to give but because you're a fool none of your advice is worth taking!)

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but he delights in the prayers of the upright.

The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
but he loves those who pursue godliness.

Whoever abandons the right path will be severely disciplined;
whoever hates correction will die.

Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the Lord.
How much more does he know the human heart! (I tend to make excuses for my behavior because I feel sorry for myself and I know how difficult a situation is, and because God "knows my heart" he will have pity on me.... not always the case. The LORD also knows when I'm just being bitter or selfish and don't want to give others the grace and mercy I so badly desire and desperately need if there's to be any hope for me at all!)

Mockers hate to be corrected,
so they stay away from the wise.

A glad heart makes a happy face;
a broken heart crushes the spirit.
(Oh how my broken heart keeps my spirit crushed. I need to pray more diligently for God to heal my broken places)

A wise person is hungry for knowledge,
while the fool feeds on trash.
(Convicting me on the music I let my children listen to. I'm not nearly as restricting with their music as I am their television/movie restrictions)

For the despondent, every day brings trouble;
for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.
(Despondent. Hopeless. Downtrodden. These are the feelings that steal my joy. Why is that? Why do I feel these things? Just yesterday I was reminded of the TRUE reason for my JOY... and it wasn't my circumstances. It was in Isaiah 61"I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness." My problem is in my seeing. I am too easily blinded by my circumstances. My 'Spiritual sight' doesn't hold my attention. And that is unfortunate. It must change!)

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord,
than to have great treasure and inner turmoil
. (This one kind of speaks for itself but its good advice I often forget... or chalk up to being better fit for the more wealthy people. But today's little reminder from a Max Lucado flip calendar I have says this: "Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot." Luke 12:15 (The Message) "Are you in prison? If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drive, drink, or digest, then face it--you are in prison, the prison of want. That's the bad news. The good news is, you have a visitor. And your visitor has a message that can get you paroled. Make your way to the receiving room. Take your seat in the chair, and look across the table at the psalmist, David. He motions for you to lean forward. " I have a secret to tell you," he whispers, "the secret of satisfaction. 'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want'" (Psalm 23:1)) 

A bowl of vegetables with someone you love
is better than steak with someone you hate.

A hot-tempered person starts fights;
a cool-tempered person stops them.

A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers,
but the path of the upright is an open highway.
(Sometimes I catch myself saying, or thinking, "Man I just can't catch a break!" Maybe its because I am being lazy. Because its hard work to take a good hard look at myself and see what it is I'm doing wrong or what sinful behavior am I feeding. Its hard work to intentionally change.)

Sensible children bring joy to their father;
foolish children despise their mother.

Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense;
a sensible person stays on the right path.

Plans go wrong for lack of advice;
many advisers bring success.

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply;
it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!

The path of life leads upward for the wise;
they leave the grave behind.

The Lord tears down the house of the proud,
but he protects the property of widows.

The Lord detests evil plans,
but he delights in pure words.

Greed brings grief to the whole family,
but those who hate bribes will live. (I discussed earlier in another post what taking a bribe looks like in my life. Its when I give in to the satisfaction of my emotions. When I listen to the lie of the enemy that it will feel better to speak my mind or be mean or get angry or _______. I've taken a bribe for immediate gratification instead of the promise of peace that comes after the discipline of holding my tongue and offering grace, love, and mercy or simply just turning my cheek.)

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking;
the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.

The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayers of the righteous.

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;
good news makes for good health.

If you listen to constructive criticism,
you will be at home among the wise.

If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom;
humility precedes honor.

I underlined/bold/italicized what stood out to me. And in a different color and in parenthesis I add my thoughts beneath.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Little Bit of Everything.

The verse on today's pre-dated Scripture card was Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed."

So I read the entire 61st chapter of Isaiah.... and it blessed me and spoke to me about so many things. My head is spinning. Where do I begin? I will underline here what I underlined in my 'real life' journal and outline my thoughts...
Isaiah 61 (NLT)
Good News for the Oppressed

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.
Foreigners will be your servants.
They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
and tend your vineyards.
You will be called priests of the Lord,
ministers of our God
.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor,
you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice.
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
the Lord has blessed.”

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
or a bride with her jewels.
The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
with plants springing up everywhere.


  1.  captives will be released: I did a quick Google search for the definition of captive and definition #2 best fit me. It is defined as, 'one held in the grip of a strong emotion or passion.' I have the strong tendency to be an emotional wreck guys. I may seem okay on the outside (sometimes) but I'm going nuts on the inside. I have 'broken free' and escaped my captors on several occasions.... but I always get found out and led back to my 'chains.' Its a terrible cycle. But I'm reminded here that I have the key to my shackles--Christ!
  2. enemies: I've had a few 'enemies' in my lifetime but ultimately I've come to realize (see note 1) that my true enemy is Satan and how he uses these people to lead me back into my 'emotional prison.' When I'm at peace and not in utter turmoil I truly harbor no ill will towards these people. When I let God have control I can see with His heart how they're his loved creation too! I do get frustrated though, at how these truths are like sand in the palm of my hands.... How I long to hold onto it for good.
  3. festive praise instead of despair: That word, despair. 2009 marked a tragic time in my life and I've been fighting despair ever since. I long for a day of festive praise! If only I could once and for all fix my eyes on the spiritual and not so much my circumstances.
  4. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.: I read this and got a little excited since my last reading had me focusing on the Terebinth tree. When I read this I think of how great oaks provide shade. And like my reading in Psalm last week, we learned how shade is a place of refreshment or protection from the heat of the sun and the hardships of life. Maybe when we walk in righteousness we can glorify God by providing shade to others in their hardships?
  5. rebuild and revive: Again, when we walk in righteousness maybe we can help others to rebuild their broken lives and revive their down-trodden spirit?
  6. You will be called priests of the LORD, ministers of our God.: This is our purpose! Bringing glory to God trough being examples of himself! We are called to influence those around us. Instead of passing judgment on the hurting sinful people around us, maybe we can look deeper and recognize our own struggles in them? Maybe we can see the face of God in their eyes and the lies of the enemy that haven taken them captive too. Here the Hebrew word for minister is 'sharath' which means to serve but not  in terms of  general labor but more like public servant. We are serving God. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us, "You are royal priests,* a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." Note: the goodness of God not the judgment of God. Also we find in 2 Corinthians 3 that "You are a letter from Christ... written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God." and "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  7. I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.: I actually circled this in my journal. Because this is it! The ultimate TRUTH! My HOPE. And where my JOY should come from. My PEACE... this says it all!
  8. Everyone: I'm reminded in Romans 14 and Philippians 2 how everyone will profess Christ as Lord and every knee will bow. I long for the restoration of all things. For the Day when all Truth is revealed and there will be no more lies from the enemy.
  9. His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.: Can you imagine a life where sinlessness just pops up everywhere? I am going to challenge myself to start looking for this here and now. Instead of looking around me and constantly complaining about the sin I see all around. I'm going to start looking for the opposite. And with each moment I hope to reflect on the goodness of God and remember my hope.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Choose Today

Today's verse from my pre-dated Scripture card is Joshua 24:15 "But as for me and my family, we sill serve the LORD."

So I read....

Joshua 24:1-28 (NLT)

The Lord’s Covenant Renewed

Then Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, including their elders, leaders, judges, and officers. So they came and presented themselves to God.

Joshua said to the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, and ...
they worshiped other gods. But I took your ancestor Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him into the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants through his son Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir, while Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

“Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I brought terrible plagues on Egypt; and afterward I brought you out as a free people. But when your ancestors arrived at the Red Sea, the Egyptians chased after you with chariots and charioteers. When your ancestors cried out to the Lord, I put darkness between you and the Egyptians. I brought the sea crashing down on the Egyptians, drowning them. With your very own eyes you saw what I did. Then you lived in the wilderness for many years.

“Finally, I brought you into the land of the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I destroyed them before you. I gave you victory over them, and you took possession of their land. Then Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, started a war against Israel. He summoned Balaam son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to him. Instead, I made Balaam bless you, and so I rescued you from Balak.

“When you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I gave you victory over them. And I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.

“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.”

Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”

But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”

You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the Lord.”

“Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.”

“All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone.”

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day at Shechem, committing them to follow the decrees and regulations of the Lord. Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the terebinth tree beside the Tabernacle of the Lord.

Joshua said to all the people, “This stone has heard everything the Lord said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God.”

Then Joshua sent all the people away to their own homelands.
As I read through this, the beginning reminded me of scolding's I've given my children. Where I remind them of all the things we given them; unearned! And I thought about how God was counting their blessings for them. I have to get better at this.
Also I'm reminded (once again) how I've let a situation in my life bring forth bitter waters in my soul and I complain like the Israelites at Marah instead of believing and trusting in my LORD and choosing today to drink in the living waters of His Spirit the waters that bring forth life not bitterness. As I arrive here at this thought, I'm reminded of Elijah's plea to the people, "How long will you waver between two opinions?" I've never been a big fan of tattoos but I'm leaning towards getting one.... of the terebinth tree.... with a stone beneath it that says 'I've chosen'..... and then I think and remember a quote I saw on FB just this morning.... "It's not the life you choose, its the life you live." I've got to be more intentional!
While searching images of the terebinth tree I came across this poem written by Bud Morris of Delavan, IL
Shechem and The Terebinth Trees
Abram passed through the land of the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.  Genesis 12:6
Early on, Shechem ("Shoulder") seemed to be a place of choice between serving the Lord and worshipping idols. It lay in the hollow between Mt. Gerizem and Mt. Ebal. It was frequently associated with Terebinth trees, which may symbolize the aspect of the cross as the source of strength and fortitude needed to serve the Lord.
Have you come as far as Shechem in your Christianity? To the Terebinth of Moreh that foreshadows Calvary? Why stop short of all the goodness to which holiness aspires? Crucify the flesh within you with its passions and desires.
If you covet all the blessings of Mounth Gerizem of old, And you shudder at the curses Ebal's echoes have foretold, You must choose to serve the LORD and know the riches of His grace, And your soul will not regret it when you meet Him face to face.
Bury all the foreign idols you've collected from your birth, gods of money, gods of pleasure, all the attitudes of earth; They will rob you of your blessings, they will surely cause you loss if you fail to leave them underneath the shadow of the cross.
Put away the gods of Egypt that are lurking in your soul; If you let them gain a foothold they will take complete control. Serve the Lord who died to save you, He is worthy of your praise; And enjoy the Spirit's blessings the remainder of your days 
 




 

 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Praying Friends and Praise!

Today's verse from my pre-dated Scripture card is found in Daniel 2:20.... my reading for today:
Daniel 2: 1-23 (NLT)
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

One night during the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn’t sleep. He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, he said, “I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means.”

...
Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, “Long live the king! Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”

But the king said to the astrologers, “I am serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble! But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me the dream and what it means!”

They said again, “Please, Your Majesty. Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”

The king replied, “I know what you are doing! You’re stalling for time because you know I am serious when I say, ‘If you don’t tell me the dream, you are doomed.’ So you have conspired to tell me lies, hoping I will change my mind. But tell me the dream, and then I’ll know that you can tell me what it means.”

The astrologers replied to the king, “No one on earth can tell the king his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer! The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.”

The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed. And because of the king’s decree, men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends.

When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. He asked Arioch, “Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?” So Arioch told him all that had happened. Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant.

Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said,

“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he has all wisdom and power.
He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.
He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
though he is surrounded by light.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

A few things I take away from this reading today are first that Daniel in a time of great stress... I mean could you imagine someone from the Military showing up at your door to lead you to your execution?... handled the situation with wisdom and discretion.  Second, he asked his friends to pray. I've gotten better in this area of my life. I used to find it so hard to ask for prayer. I felt it was weak or needy and honestly some things are just extremely private. Also I don't have many friends. But God has gifted me this past year with a friend that I know I can turn do with any issue and ask for her prayers and I trust she is faithful to do it. Prayer is not something to be taken lightly. I have gotten much more intentional with my comments that I will pray... if I say I will, I do my best to stop what I'm doing in the moment and actually do it and if its something in the future I have started to set reminders on my phone so I won't forget. This is one thing I love about this lovely blogger over at Coffee with Jesus. She is so faithful to pray over any request you share with her. So if you are needing a friend to pray with you might I suggest stopping in over here. Or leave me a comment and I will be humbled to pray for you as well.

And lastly, he remembered to praise God for his answered prayer. I'm reminded of the 10 Lepers found in Luke Chapter 11. I don't want to be like the nine ungrateful lepers.