Wednesday, April 25, 2018

April 25

Luke 22

I marvel at how Jesus showed compassion to the servant of the high priest who just had his ear cut off.  Our Lord knew what was coming next for Him.  He was so disturbed by it all that an angel from heaven had to come and strengthen Him.  He was so distraught that He sweat blood.  Yet, when He was approached by the chief priests, He didn't defend Himself, and when one of His followers acted out in anger and struck with a sword, Jesus healed the wounded high priest.  Jesus is love. In light of all the world events sparked by anger that are happening around us, I believe this passage and the message that only the love of God can overcome anger is vital to our mission as we spread the Gospel.  Oh how I pray for that wisdom, discernment and strength.  Oh how I pray that my first reaction to confrontation is not to be defensive or get angry, but I fall short just about every time.  Oh how I pray to renew and conform my mind to be like my Lord.  And yet even as I fall short, even as I react in a manner that doesn't always reflect the God I serve, I'm still loved. As I prayed over this while I was reading, I was reminded of times, as recent as yesterday, that it is almost a reflex reaction to allow a situation to stir anger up in our souls.  I pray that as we go into this day, as we are faced with different situations which will tempt us to react in a worldly manner as opposed to a Godly one, we remember that Jesus is love. God gave us free will.  We can respond to situations in anger and strike with a sword, or we can remember that Jesus' loving touch brings healing and restoration. Let the sword we swing be the Word of God.  I pray we stay focused on our Master.

Randi 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April 24

April 24


Psalm 92:1-2: It is good to praise the Lord and make music to Your name O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night. 

This Sunday I attended a seminar on teen anxiety. A local therapist led the seminar and made an insightful statement. She explained that pain in our lives can come from two directions: a violation of love (identity pain) or a violation of trust (safety pain). While there is much more that could be unpacked about that statement, I was struck by the connection I saw to this insight in God's word. 

The psalmist invites us to proclaim God's steadfast love and faithfulness daily. While we live in a world that will never love us or care for us perfectly, God's messages of love and faithfulness is the truth that we can proclaim and balm that we can receive every day. 

At the end of the psalm we are told the righteous will flourish, grow, bear fruit in old age and stay fresh and green. It seems that thriving is connected to the psalmists following declaration: "The Lord is upright, He is my rock, and there is no wickedness in Him." 

God, would You root us in Your love and faithfulness today, that we would rest in the truths about Your character and care for us even in a world full of uncertainty and pain. Let us be expressions of Your love and faithfulness to everyone we meet today. Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Blog post Monday April 23rd

A Prayer For A Song Of Joy (Psalm 90:14)
 
"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Lord this is my prayer today.  As I wake up and set out to begin my day I want to know your unfailing love.  I want to experience it.  I want it to penetrate and break through the hardened parts of my heart that have been numbed by lies that have entered on the coat tails of my sins and regrets.  Touch my heart in new ways.  May I see and experience you in your word, in prayer, in song, in quiet, or in the words or actions shared by others today.  My heart is eager, yearning and ready to encounter, bask, and absorb your love today.  I want it to bring a song of joy to my heart and my lips that I can sing no matter what my day holds for me.  I want to have a heart of gladness that shines through on my face and is evident for all to see and can come from only you.  I am eager and ready lord, help me to quiet my heart and my life so that I can experience you and set the path of my day towards the song of joy that you have for me.
 
AMEN

Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21: Of Clean Slates, Bad Habits, and Turning Neither Right nor Left


Joshua 22:21-23:16
Luke 20:27-47
Psalm 89:14-37
Proverbs 13:17-19

"Old habits die hard."  On reflection, though, one might add "bad habits die harder."  Most people who struggle with addiction know this to be true.  The best way to make sure old bad habits stay dead is to reject them completely, continuously, and with unrelenting ruthlessness.  A smoker cannot take just that one puff.  An alcoholic ideally shouldn't even put themselves in situations where others are drinking. 

The sad truth is, we aren't capable of the consistency that completely breaking a bad habit requires.  Which is why, after years of success, we regress.  We take that drink.  We smoke that cigarette.  We lose our temper.  And when that happens, when we struggle with a bad habit we thought we'd already overcome, and are confronted yet again with the rubble its destruction leaves in our lives, often we wish we'd never started in the first place.  We wish for that clean slate, before we'd lit up that first cigarette, before we'd taken that first drink. 

God got that.  Which is why He gave the Israelites the clean slate of territory in the promised land - "The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations".  He then instructed them to be ruthlessly uncompromising in their obedience to Him - "Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left."  

And then He warned them against inviting the bad habit of disobedience into their lives, by insulating themselves from those who didn't know Him - "Do not associate with these national that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them…if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations…they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in. Your eyes, until you perish from this good land…"

The setting of the book of Joshua is around 1300 years before our Lord.  That would put it around 3400 years ago.  And yet, when we look around today, God's words remain true: the world is unrelenting in its demand for compromise, for capitulation.  To avoid the bad habit, we need to be strong, obeying His Word, avoiding even the slightest distraction to the right or the left.

Father, we already have a long list of bad habits that distract us from You.  The world continues to pile it on, drawing our attention away, tempting us to disobedience.   Fight the battle for us again, as You did for the Israelites.  Purge us of these bad habits, and give us the discipline "to walk in the light of your presence, Lord", turning neither to the left nor to the right.  

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 20

Luke 20   

"I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John's baptism - was it from heaven, or from men?"  Luke 20:3

Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus was not the answer man; he was much more the question man. Do you know how many questions Jesus asked in his ministry? 307!  Asking questions was central to Jesus' strategy to reach people. By asking questions you become involved in a dialogue, not a monologue. It is a brilliant way to connect with people today because it forces the hearer to interact with their beliefs and how they arrived at them.

Here is a list of questions to use to engage people:

1. Who, in your opinion, is Jesus?

2. How did you arrive at this conclusion?

3. Is there good and evil in the universe?  

4. How does one know what is good and what is evil?

5. How would you define what truth is?

6. Where does morality come from?

7. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it?

8. What do you believe about the Bible?

9. How did you come to this conclusion?

10. Is there more to this universe than what meets the eye?

11. Do you believe in the existence of God?

12. What would constitute sufficient evidence for God's existence?

13. Why are you alive?

14. Does your life matter?

15. Does your life have purpose?

16. How do you view yourself?

17. What place does the cross have in your life?

18. What do you count as significant?

19. What are the three top priorities in your life?

20. What legacy will you leave in life?




--
"Multiplying leaders to change the world"

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday, April 19

THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2018


"Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12)


This verse carries tremendous meaning with just a few short words. To me, it speaks of several key realities:

(1) Expectations often determine our thoughts on outcome. When we set expectations correctly, we gain a realistic perspective on life. We tend to overestimate the satisfaction that worldly pleasures may provide, what we may accomplish in a single day, and our strength apart from God. We tend to underestimate the depth of God's love and the joy from being in His presence, what we may accomplish in a year, and our strength under God's authority. If our "hope deferred" comes from faulty expectations, it will indeed make our heart sick.

(2) Each person's hopes differ, and we need to consider that as we love others. When we think about others, we may impose our hopes for them (or even our hopes for ourselves) when hearing their reflections on hopes deferred. True love involves getting to know each person individually and seeking to understand from his or her perspective. Without that exercise, we may fall short of the compassionate love to which God has called us. (cf. Matthew 9:35-38)

(3) God's tremendous promises -- and their sure fulfillment -- lead to figurative and literal trees of life. When we trust in God's promises, our longings will be fulfilled. Psalm 34:7 explains that, as we delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Clinging to God and His promises ensures that we have realistic expectations and that we will find ultimate joy in seeing "trees of life" in this life and in our eternal home.


Lord God, thank You for bringing our longings to fulfillment by Your precious promises. Help us to trust You more solidly, and give us compassion for those who are hurting around us. Open doors for us to testify to Your goodness and kindness to us. We love You and honor You today. In Jesus's Name, amen.


"I Will Exalt You" by Hillsong (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kigbo_Z10Hg)


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April 18th

Luke 19: 1-7

I truly love how this passage begins.  "Jesus entered Jericho and was "passing through".  I don't know that Jesus ever just "passed through" places idly.  He is The Messiah, on a mission.  We read in verse 10 of this passage that "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost".  That doesn't sound like someone who was just "passing through".  I can't help but think that Jesus knew exactly where Zacchaeus would be that day.  Jesus even provided a tree for him to climb up so he could get a good look, and when Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and called him out by name. Then, Jesus shocks the crowd and goes to Zacchaeus' house! (Still think He's just "passing through"?)  In John 10:3, Jesus tells us that He calls His sheep by name and leads them out.  Clearly, Jesus called His sheep Zacchaeus by name and let him to salvation. He has done the same for us. Jesus knew exactly where Zacchaeus was that day both physically and spiritually.  He knows the same about us as well.  We were lost sheep who Jesus called by name and now we are redeemed sinners, saved by grace, sons and daughters of the most High God.    In Mark 2:17 Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Knowing that makes me feel a lot better about facing my day. I pray God puts someone in our lives today that we can share this message with.

Randi