Friday, January 29, 2010

And the Walls Came Crumbling Down

Hello everyone, I’m so happy it’s Friday! I’m also happy that I’m finally in the book of Joshua, which is such an interesting book. In today’s reading from Joshua 4-6, we see God once more part the waters for the Israelites and then crumble the walls of Jericho to the ground. What spectacular a spectacular thing for them to see! And for once, what faith on the Israelites part. Could you imagine being there when God told the Israelites to march around a city for seven days. It much have seemed repetitive and silly, but they did it. For once, instead of grumbling and complaining, they actually had faith that the Lord really would bring Jericho down on the seventh day. It’s such a spectacular story of God’s provision, and of the faith we, as Christians need to have. Sometimes in this life God tells us to do things that don’t make much sense. He tells us to do things when we can’t see the outcome. But he honors our faith and persistence just the same. Have you ever been there? I know I have. At times I’ve had to march around the proverbial Jericho, trusting that God would provide at the end of the day and tear those walls down. At times this was the restoration of a relationship I was waiting for, or a job I needed to pay the bills. I had to walk in faith, and God said he would provide in the end. And he did! He always provided in one way or another.
The second part of the reading, from Luke 9:18-36 reminds me exactly why I do believe God will provide. In today’s reading we see Peter proclaiming that Jesus is Lord, and we see Jesus himself transfigured in all his glory, what a spectacular sight that would have been! Reading it once again reminds me that Jesus was more than just a good teacher or a prophet, he was Lord, all-powerful, all mighty and all knowing. He’s a spectacular God. And so, I can’t help but believe as I walk around my Jericho’s that he will provide. He has the ability to. Nothing is past his working hand. And so, for today, I keep on marching in faith.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Simpler Kind of Faith

There were some very interesting lessons of faith in todays readings from Joshua 1-3 & Luke 9:1-17. In Joshua, we meet the prostitute Rahab, who risks her own life to save some Israelite spies. Why does she do this? Because, despite her sinful past, she truly believed that “the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2: 11b NIV). This foreign woman believed that the Isrealite God was the one true God. And so she risked her life for some strangers. Her reward? Matthew 1:5 lists this prostitute in the genealogy of Jesus. What an honor! The lesson? It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’ve done, all God asks is that we believe. Rahab believed she would be saved if she put the scarlet rope out her window, we’ll found out the results of her faith in future readings.
In Luke 9 we see another story of faith. Jesus commissions his disciples to heal the sick and drive out the demons. And so they go and do just that. They believed in the seemingly impossible, and so God gave them the power to do so. What’s interesting about the disciple’s story is that, after coming back to Jesus and telling him about all the people they’ve just helped cure, their faith quickly falters. They look around at the hungry crowds and don’t see any way to feed them. They don’t have enough faith to multiply the loaves and the bread (Luke 9:15). After performing such miraculous wonders, they quickly fall short in the faith department.
Isn’t that so true of us as Christians? We’ll be doing so well, and then all of a sudden we’ll start to doubt. We’ll look at our own inabilities and wonder how it could ever happen. The problem is that we’ve once again turned inward, instead of focusing on our God who can and will do the impossible.
I think sometimes we need a simpler faith like that of Rahab, one that doesn’t over-complicate things, but instead just believes. Believes that God is God and that he will provide in any and every situation.
What do you think? Do you need to have faith in any area of your life today?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Faith in Miracles

"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand" (Deuteronomy 32: 39 NIV).
Sometimes it’s hard looking at the pain and suffering in the world around us. I know I, at times, question where God is in the midst of it all. Today’s readings from Deuteronomy 32-34 and Luke 8:26-56 were a great reminder that God is right there, working his hand. In Deuteronomy we were reminded of his healing power, in Luke we saw some of that power being displayed first hand, as Jesus cast out demons, healed an ailing woman, and raised a young girl from the dead.
Even at this, it’s easy to start doubting His ways. It’s easy to get caught up in earthly pain, and forget that our God is all knowing and all-powerful. Deuteronomy 32: 4 says, “ He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (NIV). God is our rock, he’s someone we can depend on, someone we can look to when the world looks meek around us. He’s ways are good and just. We may not always understand them, but he really does have a perfect plan in store for all of us. This is hard for our human brains to grasp, and so I hold on to verses like those above, that reminded me to trust in the Rock of our Salvation. I trust that he will give me faith to believe in healing when the world around me seems to give up. I pray that he will give me hope when others have given up. At times it’s so hard for me to believe in healing, but I have to, I must, because I serve a God of miracles.
And so, for right now, pray for healing for those around me that need it most, for the sweet baby girl in our church, for my mother in law who’s trying to regain her eyesight, for a friend’s preemie baby who’s struggling to hold on at this moment. I pray for healing for all of them, because our God is a Rock, a fortress for all those in need.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

He Carries Me

Hello all,
Today’s readings came from Deuteronomy 30-31 & Luke 8:1-25. Here’s the verse I’d like to focus on for today:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
We all have moments of doubt. I was reminded of a friend of mine as I read these verses today. This friend has started doubting the presence of God in her life. She doesn’t feel him moving in the midst of her troubles. She feels very alone. But he’s there. He promises in these verses above that he will never leave us, even during the darkest, scariest times. I know from dark moments in my life that God is always ready to pick us up and carry us through the good and bad times. He’s never let me down, even when other people in this world have. He’s always been there.
Have you had moments where you truly sensed the presence of God? Do you need him to carry you through a rough spot today?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Living By Faith

I’ll admit, I’ve slacked off again. I read part of this reading on Friday and am only getting back to it today. I guess that shows my imperfections, right?

Anyway, the verses I finished reading today came from Deuteronomy 28-29 and Luke 7:31:50.

In Deuteronomy Moses is reminding the people of the blessings they’ll receive if they follow God, and the curses they’ll receive if they don’t. My favorite scripture from this section was the very last verse: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

God has given us such wonderful wisdom to follow in scripture. Yet, I often get caught up on the things I don’t know and don’t understand. I question God, instead of living by faith. This verse was a wonderful reminder of God’s intentionality in scripture. He gave us what he wanted us to know, and expects us to trust him for the rest.

The Sinful Women In Luke 7 knew one thing about Jesus, that he was God. She had the right attitude in not asking for millions of listeners, but instead, laying at the feet of Christ and worshping him. Perhaps that’s what I need to do today.

What about you? Do you need to lay anything at the foot of the cross, and trust by faith instead?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

First Fruits or After Thoughts?

Today’s Bible in a Year readings were from Deuteronomy 26-27 and Luke 7:1-30. There’s much I could say about both, but for now I’ll focus on the very beginning of Deuteronomy 26. In this section, the Israelites are called to present the first fruits of their crops to the Lord. Not their leftovers, not their end-of-the-season crop, but their first fruits, the very beginning of their crops. Their God deserved the very best, so he expected as much from them.

As I read this section, I started thinking about my own life and wondering. Do I give God the first fruits of my life, or do I hoard those for myself, and only give him the leftovers. It’s so easy for me to get a full head and admire everything I’ve done in this life. How I excelled in school, married a wonderful man, and have had some success as a freelance writer. But the reality is that I am nothing with Jesus. He is my rock each and everyday. Because of this, he deserves my very best, my first fruits. What do these first fruits look like? They could be in the form of a tithe, in a worship song, in time spent on my knees, or in simply giving God the glory he is due. I’m sure there are many other ways to give God our first fruits. What do you think? How will you give your first fruits to Him today?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Deuteronomy 23-25; Luke 6:27-49

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:43-45, NIV).

I’ll admit it, I don’t always say the right thing. I like the be accepted, I like to belong, so in the moment I’ll say something or laugh at something that doesn’t line up with my heart. It doesn’t line up with my faith. These verses above reminded me how important it is to live my Christian walk authentically. I will be recognized as a Christ-follower by the very fruit I produce. This fruit is seen through my words, through my dress, through my actions, and through my thoughts. It’s seen through every part of me. I truly want to be a good Christian. I just sometimes slip up, and have to ask God to take off that ugly fruit and replace it with something new and beautiful. At times this removal has meant avoiding certain bad influences, be it people, television shows, or books. Whatever the case, their influence was a bad one, so I had to ask God for forgiveness, and start anew.
I am by no way a perfect Christian, but I do pray that the fruit other people see is good, healthy fruit. Fruit that represents my true heart.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Deuteronomy 20-22; Luke 6:1-26

Luke 6:20-23:
“Looking at his disciples, he said:
‘Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.’”

These things are the exact opposite of what I wish for in this life. I want to be wealthy, happy and loved by everyone. But that’s not the reality of this world. This world is filled with pain and sorrow, especially for those who follow Jesus. The pastor at my church often talks about the Last Days, and how they are coming upon us ever so quickly. With this come more famine, more disasters, more sorrow and more persecution for Christians. These are depressing things, but they must come about in the end for our Lord to be victorious. In the verses above Jesus offers hope. In the midst of all these tings, he promises to give us eternal riches, eternal fullness, and eternal happiness in the kingdom of God. We can cling onto to an everlasting peace and joy, if only we ask.
In a world filled with so much pain, I long for this joy. Come Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Deuteronomy 17-19; Luke 5:17-39

Healing: why is it so hard to believe in sometimes? The faith seen in today’s reading from Luke was so beautiful. Here were a couple of friends who truly believed that their paralytic buddy could be healed, so much so that they cut a hole in the roof and lowered him down into the house, just so he could be in front of Jesus. These friends went to great extents to see their friend healed. They believed that the seemingly impossible could actually happen. Oh that I had their faith.
So often I look at all of the seemingly unanswered prayers in the world around me and my faith begins to waver. I want to believe that miracles can happen, that people can be healed from sickness, but so often my logical brain causes me to fall short.
In Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells his disciples, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Faith can move mountains. On my own, I can’t heal sickness or safe people from disaster, but God can (Matthew 19:26). All he asks is that we believe in the unknown, that we believe that our God can provide in any and every situation, even when we don’t see the results.
There are things I’ve prayed for year after year and still haven’t seen the outcome. At times I’m tempted to give up, but then I’m reminded of how great our God is, and how he really does always provide.
Lord, give me faith to believe in the impossible today.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Deuteronomy 14-16; Luke 5:1-16

Well I know I won’t get this whole Bible in a Year thing done in a year, but I still have the intention of getting this thing done, and blogging about it through the whole process. So here goes the 2010 readings!

The thing that stuck out the most to me today was a tiny verse near the end of Deuteronomy 16. This verse says “your joy will be complete” or as the NASV translates it, you will be “all together joyful.” In context the verse was talking about the Israelites’ feats, but I think that there’s some application even today.

Matthew Henry comments on this portion of scripture by saying, “It is the will of God that his people should be a cheerful people. If those that were under the law must rejoice before God, much more must we that are under the grace of the gospel, which makes it our duty, not only as here to rejoice in our feasts, but to rejoice evermore, to rejoice in the Lord always.”*

God calls us to be joyful. Not just sort of joyful or kind of joyful or sometimes joyful, but completely joyful. This may seem like a daunting task for some, but the invitation is always there. He is ready and willing to give us joy in our lives. A joy that passes understanding. A complete joy that can only come from him.

Do you need joy in your life today?

Lord thank you for loving me the way I am today. Please give me more joy in my life.

*Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 16." . Blue Letter Bible. 1 Mar 1996. 2010. 4 Jan 2010.
< style="color: blue;">
AuthorID=4&contentID=800&commInfo=5&topic=Deuteronomy >