Get Your Prayers Off the Ground

I’ll just leave this here…it hit way to close to home.

Isaiah 58:2-4, “They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people – law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask Me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ and love having Me on their side. (3) But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and You don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and You don’t even notice?’ …(4) You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. …The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground.” The Message

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“In Isaiah 58:1-4, the prophet most likely described the situation in Jerusalem soon after the exiles returned…Not only did the community have to reclaim the land for farming and reconstruct the city; they had to rebuild all their economic institutions from the ground up. …religious devotion had become a substitute for ethical behavior. …No matter how properly ‘religious’ their behavior was, it did not address the real need of the community: the need to share the scarce resources that were available to the returnees. …did not see the necessity of relating their religious devotion to their social and economic practice. God thought that they should.” Chronological Study Bible Notes

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“Prayers are not wishes; prayers are conversations. God does not grant but God gives, God is not summoned, but God speaks. …There is no one right way to speak to God, no guarantee of answers or outcomes, but the words themselves will take on life as they leave your lips, they will find their way to Jesus, they will be heard.” “Forgiving God,” Hilary Yancey in “You + Hard Thing = Not Talking to God (or the Silence Where God Speaks),” Ann Voskamp

(Note to self: Things to overcome – complaining and bickering. Enough said.)

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

The Intervention of Jesus Christ – Grace

In the movie, “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone,” he was an actor in trouble. He trashed a motel and was given 200 hours community service in a church.

They were casting for their big Easter production and he tried out. Claiming Christianity to participate, they gave him the role of Jesus Christ. While rehearsing the scene of the woman caught in adultery, he asked a question…

“What did Jesus write in the sand?”

“The Bible doesn’t say,” the director replied.

He spent a lot of time with three of the men playing “his disciples.” And even helped repair a car that was given to a single mother. He stopped shouting his lines dramatically and started saying them kindly.

He finally understood on opening night. During the scene of the woman caught in adultery, he wrote in the sand…

“Grace”

“Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at your feet. Every moment of my wandering never changes what you see.” “How Can It Be” Lauren Daigle

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2 Peter 1:1-2, “…I write this to you whose experience with God is as life-changing as ours, all due to our God’s straight dealing and the intervention of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (2) Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master.” The Message

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2 Peter 1:12-13, “Because the stakes are so high, even though you’re up-to-date on all this truth and practice it inside and out, I’m not going to let up for a minute in calling you to attention before it. (13) This is the post to which I’ve been assigned – keeping you alert with frequent reminders – and I’m sticking to it as long as I live.” The Message

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“The letter is written out of pastoral concern to counter false teachings and their influence on the lives of early Christians. Certain teachers, for their own personal gain, were promising that people could be Christians and still live immoral lives. …concerned that there be a check against this false teaching and immoral living even after he is gone (1:12-15).” Chronological Study Bible Introduction to 2 Peter

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“When we focus on our perceived value and worthiness, we lose our sense of awe and wonder at just how magnificent Jesus is. …the first century believers in Colossae,… wanted to be right with God, and there was no shortage of people willing to tell them exactly how they could do that. Some argued for religious observances like circumcision, holy days and rules about food. Others suggested angel worship and secret rituals, plus other mystical practices. …Paul speaks firmly against these checklist teachings, explaining that those who promote such ideas are not holding on to Jesus. It’s Jesus alone…and He is enough.” “You are Not Enough, and That’s OK” Asheritah Ciuciu, on Proverbs 31 Ministries email

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Learn a Life of Love

My daughter-in-law, Bethany, just asked me if I was a drug dealer!

My granddaughter, Olivia, was at the fair when a nasty storm blew in. They came to my house and waited out the storm in the basement. Since Luke was out-of-state, we decided to have a slumber party. (Their house doesn’t have a basement.)

The phone rang at 12:30 a.m. waking the adults up. I grabbed the extension by my bed but no one answered. I hit redial and it went right to voicemail. I guess the caller rolled over on their phone.

Then Bethany woke up when David left at 5:30 a.m. His boss told him of a barber who opened at 6:00 a.m. on Fridays for walk-ins. He left for a haircut.

He came back to the house for the Wal-Mart list. He picked up a few things there and brought them home. Then he went to work. Olivia blissfully slept through it all!

It concerned Bethany because there was a call in the middle of the night. And David kept leaving. I explained everything to her.

I woke up before he left and went to the basement. Yesterday, I moved my Bibles, devotionals, notebook, and Chromebook downstairs. (My office is also the guest room. I had to temporarily move out.)

I was writing in my notebook seated on the loveseat. God reminded me of a conversation earlier this week. I had my notebook and 2 Bibles open on the desk. I told God it was crowded and wished for a bigger space. Now I am balancing a notebook and 2 Bibles on the loveseat. That desk looks pretty big to me!

Paul wrote most of the New Testament – from prison! Instead of changing my circumstances I am letting God change me. I will write anywhere and everywhere.

Ephesians 3:8, “And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.” The Message

Our slumber party was the last night of camp. Derek is one of the leaders and has been gone since Sunday. I envisioned a week of romance. The honeymoon is definitely over. *Sigh*

Ephesians 5:25-28, “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. (26) Christ’s love makes the church whole. (27) His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. (28) And that is how husband’s ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves and favor – since they’re already ‘one’ in marriage.” The Message

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“…In the Greek culture that was dominate in and around Ephesus, husbands were on average 12 or more years older than their wives, were usually more educated, and held much higher social status,….

In one traditional Greek formulation, men used prostitutes for pleasure and wives only to bear them legitimate children.

…What is significant is that Paul modified the culture’s values, calling on all believers to submit (5:21), and allowing the husband-wife relationship to be affected by the God-human relationship.

…While Romans and Greeks supposed that husbands would love their wives, Paul listed such as a command.” Chronological Study Bible Notes

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Ephesians 5:21. “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.” The Message

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Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.” The Message

The way I support my husband shows my support for Christ? That’s a humbling thought.

Ephesians 5:1-2, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. (2) Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us, His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” The Message

I guess I should stop wishing for dazzling white silk!

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Right-Living, Right-Giving Fathers

Five Fatal Mistakes Fathers Make ( from the life of Lot)

  1. Selfishness – Lot chose money over God, he chose the land with the best prospects, Genesis 13:10.
  2. Bad Environment – Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, Genesis 13:12.
  3. Expectations – Lot moved into Sodom and thought he could change it, Genesis 14:11-12; 2 Peter 2:6-8.
  4. Example – He thought his family would listen to his words, not watch his lifestyle. When the angels arrived in Sodom, Lot was on the council sitting at the city gate, Genesis 19:1. When Lot told his sons-in-law the Lord was going to destroy the city, they laughed at him, Genesis 19:14.
  5. Entrapment – The world entangled Lot and his family. He knew the city would be destroyed, but he lingered. The angels had to grab the hands of him, his wife, and 2 unmarried daughters to pull them out of the city, Genesis 19:15-16.”

“Wear the Shoes You Want Filled” – Pastor Monte Knudsen,

June 17, 2018

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2 Corinthians 9:9, “As one Psalmist put it, ‘He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.’ ” The Message

Paul was quoting from Psalms 112. It describes the attributes of a godly parent.

Psalms 112:1-9, “Hallelujah! Blessed man, blessed woman, who fear God, who cherish and relish His commandments, (2) Their children robust on the earth, and the homes of the upright – how blessed! (3) Their homes brim with wealth and generosity that never runs dry. (4) Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people – God’s grace and mercy and justice! (5) The good person is generous and lends lavishly; no shuffling or stumbling around for this one, (6) But a sterling and solid and lasting reputation. (7) Unfazed by rumor and gossip, heart ready, trusting in God, (8) Ever blessed, relaxed among enemies, (9) They lavish gifts on the poor – a generosity that goes on, and on, and on. An honored life! A beautiful life!” The Message

There is a connection between right-living and right-giving. Paul consistently addressed a financial offering for the church in Jerusalem.

2 Corinthians 9:1, “If I wrote any more on this relief offering for the poor Christians, I’d be repeating myself.” The Message

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“This collection for the Jerusalem church seems to have originated at the so-called Jerusalem council (Acts 15; Galatians 2:1-10). While the apostles and elders of the council agreed that Paul could pursue his mission to the Gentiles, they asked that he ‘remember the poor’ (Galatians 2:10), indirectly referring to an offering for the Jerusalem church. The collection, therefore, stood at the very foundation of Paul’s missionary work.” Chronological Study Bible Notes

Which shoes do you want your children to wear?

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Not Bound

I hit publish yesterday and then read something in the Chronological Study Bible. I felt I should have included it. I went back and typed it in. But many read my posts from their email and the changes are not sent out. This is important enough to merit a second post.

1 Corinthians 7:11, “…a wife must remain single or else come back and make things right with her husband…’ People quote this verse to keep spouses in abusive relationships or after infidelity. They endanger their health by remaining with a promiscuous spouse.

In 1 Corinthians 7:15, Paul talks about spouses that are “not bound.” When they came to Christ, their unbelieving spouse abandoned them. Infidelity and physical, verbal, or emotional abuse are signs of unbelief. Some abandoned their marriage years before they packed their bags.

1 Corinthians 7:15, “On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you’ve got to let him or her go. You don’t have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can.” The Message

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Using the phrase ‘not bound,’ Paul was echoing the exact language of ancient divorce contracts, which spoke of marriage as ‘binding’ a woman to her husband and divorce as ‘loosing’ or ‘freeing’ a woman for remarriage…Ancient readers would have understood ‘not bound’ as Paul’s permission for an abandoned person to remarry.” Chronological Study Bible Notes

You were not abandoned – God freed you!!!

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Believers – Cleaned Up by Jesus

I talked with a friend about the short in the soundboard on Sunday. She told me everyone knew what was going on by the expressions on my face.

I wonder what they saw? Anger? Frustration? Shock? I am not good at hiding my feelings. My face is an open book. (This is why I would like to play behind the screen.)

On the way home, I considered turning the keyboard to hide my face. I thought I handled the situation pretty well. My face said otherwise. Maybe, I should just keep my head down.

“When people become Christians, they don’t at the same moment become nice. This always comes as something of a surprise. Conversion to Christ and his ways don’t automatically furnish a person with impeccable manners and suitable morals.

…The people of Corinth had a reputation in the ancient world as an unruly, hard-drinking, sexually promiscuous bunch of people. When Paul arrived with the Message and many of them became believers in Jesus, they brought their reputations with them right into the church!

…Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is a classic of pastoral response: affectionate, firm, clear, and unswerving in the conviction that God among them, revealed in Jesus and present in His Holy Spirit, continued to be the central issue in their lives, regardless of how much of a mess they had made of things.” The Message Introduction to 1 Corinthians

There’s hope for me! I’ve made my share of messes. *sigh*

When you read 1 Corinthians, the impression is Paul is talking to saints. Which they are – but their behavior is not always “saintly.”

1 Corinthians 1:2, “I send this letter to you in God’s church at Corinth, believers cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life. …” The Message

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1 Corinthians 1:6-7, “The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your life. (7) Just think – you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you…” The Message

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1 Corinthians 1:9, “And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of His Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.” The Message

Paul doesn’t try to force them to “walk the straight and narrow.” He doesn’t give them a list of “Do’s and Don’ts.” He leaves the job of keeping them on track to Jesus. He reminds them God will never give up on them.

Satan wants us to keep our head down. He wants to heap shame and guilt on our heads. He says, “Everybody has it together, but you.” He tells us to shape up, fix our face, and act like we are somebody. We can try, but then our body language gives us away.

1 Corinthians 1:28-30, “Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’? (29) That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. (30) Everything that we have – right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start – comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.” The Message

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“Corinth’s location made it a center of the trade routes passing from east to west. Prosperity brought luxury and immorality. The expression ‘To live like a Corinthian’ to one Athenian writer meant living in gross immorality.” Chronological Study Bible Notes

The next time I am at church for my “spiritual dialysis,” I will remember the people of Corinth. No matter what is going on in people’s lives, I will be affectionate. I will be firm, clear, and unswerving in the conviction that they are believers – cleaned up by Jesus.

And remember, I am the same.

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

God’s Word Stands Firm and Forever

On Wednesdays, I pray for America. I remind God this country was built on the Bible and it stands forever.

Isaiah 40:8, “True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade, but our God’s Word stands firm and forever.” The Message

What is your foundation? What are you building your life on?

“A strong mind is not something slapped together on a shallow foundation. It needs solid rock. Like a skyscraper, the higher you want to go, the deeper you must go.”
“4 Secrets of a Strong Mind” by FBI Agent Larae Quy

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“What the exiles needed – hope, comfort, tender words, a future – could be found only in the faithfulness of Yahweh, their God. The prophet offers exactly that message in Isaiah 40, pointing away from the sins of the past, away from the conditions of the present, to a future when the exiles would experience divine faithfulness and be restored to their land.” Chronological Study Bible Notes

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Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” The Message

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Isaiah 41:14-15, “Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob? Feel like a fragile insect, Israel? I’ll help you. I, God, want to reassure you. The God who buys you back, the Holy One of Israel. (15) I’m transforming you from worm to harrow, from insect to iron.” The Message

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‘…those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life, through the One, Jesus Christ,’ Romans 5:17. The Greek word for reign here means to ‘rule from a foundation of power.’ When Paul talks about ‘reigning in life,’ he’s talking about having ruling power over sin – and not just in heaven but in this life. We are to reign over every demonic power, every lust, every principality that comes against us. That is true sanctification. …

…I asked him what had kept him true to Jesus all these years. He said, ‘Brother David, you told me once that Jesus loved me. I became convinced of that. So, I just started loving Him back. That’s what has kept me.’

Nicky didn’t have any theology of sanctification. But he was being sanctified – because he was loving his Father, and receiving his Father’s love…” David Wilkerson, “The Gift of Righteousness,” World Challenge Pulpit Series, February 19, 2018

The best foundation is loving Jesus – The Rock!

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