Loud and Clear

Good Morning Bible Journal fiends.  Today we will be reading Deuteronomy 28.  This chapter has 68 verses in it.  The first 14 verses provides us insights of the many blessings you will have when you fully obey the Lords commands. The next 54 verses cover the curses that will be faced when you disobey the Lord. Looking at these verses helps me to understand the heading Loud and Clear.  It seems like we would be able to obey. Yet, after reading this chapter my next step was to figure out how I apply this chapter to my life.  God what are you telling us? For myself,   I’m able to look at all the amazing things that God has provided.   Many blessings through faith filled relationships, physical needs being met, healings in the midst of pain, a heart transformation, and ultimately a true relationship with God.  All the good in our lives can always point  back to God.  “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. – Deuteronomy 28:1

On the other hand, all the bad things can often point to myself and my selfish desires. This can include pain that I have caused to others, my many years of confusion about life, seeking short term pleasures through worldly substitutes… these can all point back to me, and my selfish desires to fulfill my own will. When I don’t obey. 15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.

In Deuteronomy 28 Moses tells us through the use of repetition similar to what Lynden was saying yesterday with Dora cartoon connection ( have small kids too) What God desires from us and what will happen when do and don’t obey. Moses is telling the Israelites, and us, that God has always provided and always will.  These first 14 verses tells of the blessings of walking in covenant with our Lord. Moses also reminds us of our disobedience. This choice is ours. God loves us, He sent his only son to wash away all our sins. That even in our sinful nature, Gods love is always present for us.  For me this covenant language can be easy to read through, underline, highlight, and reflect on but, I need more than doing that .  It has to be in my heart.  Because when I just write it and not put it into my heart, I can easily forget. Deuteronomy 6:6 reminds me 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.   

Our small group is starting a 4 week study on family discipleship.  One of our first goals is to focus on our modeling.  Jim Probst shared a story before that has stuck with me for years.  Him and some other guys were meeting and thinking of ways to honor God.  Many people had great ideas of serving, additional financial giving, possible additional mission trips.  One gentleman said, ” I just want to obey. ”  In Luke 11:28 Jesus reminds us that, “28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

There was a Promise Land that the Israelites were looking for then, there is a Promise Land for us now.  In the midst of our lives, God has provided for us a way to get to this Promise Land.  His love for us is always there, our its our choice to be obedient and remain faithful. To know and apply this obedience into our lives we need to make His words an integral part of everyday of our lives. Think about the Parable of the Sower. 18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Loud and clear, there are blessings and curses based on our faithfulness.

  • Pray continually – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • Set our minds on things from above. Colossians 3:2
  • Let the message of Christ dwell among us. Colossians 3:16

Dear God, Thank you for your living word that we can be in every day. Create in us a soil that will take your words  to grow closer to you.  We love you and pray for obedience and faithfulness to you. 

Amen

Wounded Healer

During the last couple weeks I have changed what I have wanted to write about today almost daily.  Each day all of our writers have selected such great verses to reflect on.   Similar to hearing an amazing Sunday message that seems to been written for your current circumstance.  I once again felt this after Stephanie’s testimony on Saturday.

Today, I came upon that in a message called, “Wounded Healer” which was a reminder how we make a difference in others.  The statement that struck me was, ” Our deepest wounds can often be your greatest opportunity for ministry.” As we go about this day we don’t have to hide the current hardships we are going through,  or even the ones we try to hide from the past. 1 John 1:9  I understand that as adults, teens, parents, employees, leaders, and colleagues we are suppose to have it all together according to earthly norms.  But, lets put down our guard, fears, and  worries remembering God told us that in our weakness he is strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Remember the Samaritan women who talked with Jesus at Jacob’s well in John 4, she was afraid to share her story with him, until she realized it was Jesus and He already knew everything about her. She left that well and went back to her hometown and was able to share the story of a conversation with Jesus. Her testimony changed lives.  Your testimony will too!

John 4:39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

It’s very hard to share our pains, regrets, and failures. We can be afraid that others may truly get to know us.  That we may not be as close to perfect as we try to pretend to be, or that our family goes through struggles, or maybe you were raised in a difficult environment, and that even in adult years you don’t actually have it all together even after you landed your first job. It’s Ok, I know no one is perfect, actually not even close, but we don’t have to hide.  I’ve been the master at this growing up at a young age with many things going on in our lives as a child.  (Check my ACES score). My youthful insecurities that can still appear every now and then allowed me to keep others away so they couldn’t get to know the real me.  Romans12:2 The truth is, the more I searched for God, the more I was able to see that He has always been with me.  Knowing me completely the whole time. He knows you as well! Seek the Lord always. 1 Chronicles 16:11  When we know the Lord our insecurities can come down when facing the world and we have a platform to share how God has been faithful then, and how he will be faithful now.  So this Christmas season, share the amazing story of the birth of Immanuel.  We can also share our own story without fear, and through that story you can change lives through your love and faith in our Lord. Who knows us more than anyone! He has great plans for you and your story. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Tauren Wells – Known

Merry Christmas Bible Journal brothers and sisters.  – Keep sharing God’s love.

Listen to the sermon on Wounded Healer by JT English from the Village Church.

Humble Hearts Kingdom

One statistic that I often share when talking about the Front Porch Initiative is the statistic that self-centeredness has increased 30% in the past 30 years among college students according to a study conducted by San Diego State University.   This narcissism has impacted our ability to show empathy and will continue to have an impact on our communities. That’s why deepening our relationships and getting to know others is so important.

Today in Matthew 20 we read about a mother putting her own desires first for her children above God.

Jesus had just got done telling his disciples on their journey to Jerusalem that he would be leaving them soon. That He would be mocked, flogged, and crucified.  Still, just like we can do, just like I can do, we think of ourselves and what’s in it for us.  Not what is eternally most important. Sadly, the next story shared in Matthew 20 after Jesus foretelling His death is the request of power/position in Heaven and being able to sit on the right and left of Jesus.

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus gave his life for us.  Every way He physically lived  was for us.  Every living word written is for us.  In a world and time where being great is about self promotion or pride.  Jesus has been saying to be great in His kingdom we must be least.  Reflecting personally easily brings tears to my eyes.  Even in this day as I on reflected Matthew 20 I made so much of this day about me.  I focus on things I may have to do for work, whether or not my favorite team will win, how my children are behaving.  Not really thinking about what is truly important. In listening to Grace To You by John McArthur on this chapter I think about the question John Mcarthur was asked many times, ” Who will be those who receive the greatest reward in Heaven?’ He will say, ” Those who suffered the most in life for the cause of Jesus Christ.”

I can only repent and pray for Jesus to work on my selfishness. To grab hold of my heart and mind as I look not to myself or this world, but to Him.  Put my pride in check.  Here are a few reminder verses that can remind me God’s view on pride.

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
    be assured, he will not go unpunished.

That in Psalm 31:23 it says He recompenses the proud or in Psalm 18:27 the proud will be brought low.

So instead of a prideful heart, I know I need to be more humble. Micah 6:8 says He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Proverbs 15:33 says The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.

Colossians 3:12 says, ” So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;”

So here are a few verses to help us put our pride in check.  That or worldly desires will mean nothing next to our place in Heaven.  I pray to always be a servant leader without asking… what’s in it for me? I pray for us to live with humility and selflessness knowing and trusting that God has a perfect plan for all of us. Our greatest plans won’t ever compare to the reward in Heaven through a selfless, humble, and faithful life.

God told us it wouldn’t be easy.  We need to continue to trust and have faith in His plans for us!  What do you need to let go of? To humbly ask Him to work on your heart. To put away our earthly desires and spread His good news!

Have a blessed Tuesday in all you do.

The Lost (and found) iPod

Today’s Reading:  2 Chronicles 1; 1 John 1; Micah 7; Luke 16

In last week’s post, I briefly mentioned being thankful for the person who found and turned in Preston’s iPod. This was no small event; we were in a foreign country at a large resort where there were literally thousands of employees and thousands of guests from around the globe. Preston’s iPod isn’t extremely valuable financially, but it is worth a lot to him. He can’t afford to buy a replacement, and Amy and I would have needed to let him learn his lesson in being responsible.

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. (Luke 16:10)

Preston gave his new hero (Fermin) a small token of his appreciation, a hug, and verbal thanks. Based on Luke 16 I wonder if perhaps Fermin was being tested with very little and reaped Heavenly rewards for his decision. Fermin was beaming with a huge smile when Preston found him to say thank you. I think that Fermin experienced as much, or more joy than Preston through this experience.

While this exact situation isn’t something that occurs daily for any of us, it does make me think about what we are entrusted with each day:

  • Showing up late for work and not making up for it or logging the time inaccurately is stealing. Even if it was just 15 minutes and the employer may never find out, God knows.
  • How we spend our money. If I look at my accounts, what do they reflect? Should I be entrusted with more or less money based on how I’ve allocated the resources entrusted to me?
  • Time; our only non-renewable resource. What did I do in my free-time, and what does my calendar say about how I’m choosing to spend this precious gift?

This section of Luke closes with a blunt statement in Luke 16:13 that should challenge us to our core. Do we serve God or do we serve money? The choice is ours to make, and only God knows our true intentions; he knows how we spend our time, money, and energy. Coming from a wonderful week of vacation with my family, I’m exceedingly thankful for the rest, relaxation, and special days and nights with my favorite people on Earth. In reflection, did I make the most of this time, and did I behave as one who loves money or one who loves God?

Think about what Jesus was entrusted with. He came to Earth as a human baby, but with authority over Heaven and Earth. If I could turn water into wine like Jesus did, it is shameful what I’d do… God knows how much (or little) I can be entrusted with! In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus is tempted by the devil. This includes significant examples of how much Jesus was entrusted with. Also consider that since the devil was trying to temp Jesus, he knew Jesus had the power to do those things, which is further proof of the deity of Jesus Christ.

Father God, may my checkbook, calendar, and heart be filled with more of you and less of me each day. Thank you for giving me such a multitude of second chances. Amen.

The Cheerful Giver

Today’s Readings2 Samuel 16; 2 Corinthians 9; Ezekiel 23; Psalms 70–71

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  2 Cor. 9:6

Great point, so why is it so hard some days to remember this point written by Paul? Why do I hesitate when it comes to my time, finances, love, listening, or wisdom? I want to piggy back of the authentic heartfelt words from Jillian yesterday called By His Poverty.  This too is something that challenges me and my family. My best answer is to look to His word. God’s word continues with:

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you my abound in every good work.

When my heart is truly committed that is when the cheerful giver emerges in my words, actions, and time.  I would say much of my past life and still selfish current moments can leave me thinking that I can’t commit fully to something.  My only answer is lack of faith, full of fear, and believing I won’t have enough left for myself.  The truth is, God will provide all we need at all times. Amen. This faith and confidence changes your outlook of life. When I have this mindset my heart has decided to trust with all I have in God.  I pray you walk into this day, week, and life with a heart focused on cheerful giving.

For myself there are many factors that can help me make excuses as to why I’m not a cheerful giver at all times.  But I know these are excuses and that the Lord knows us, and he knows our hearts. Psalm 139:1 So, no matter your story beginnings, obstacles, hope, and future God is with you, he goes before you, and will provide anything that we need according to His will!  The part where I have struggled is when I’m doing things for My will. I can often struggle with the idea of Needs vs. Wants and whether they are His or Mine.

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Proverbs 11:24

Having a strong faith of God’s plan for my life needs to include my finances, time, words, wisdom, and actions.  As I write this you should be encouraged to know  the opportunities you will have today to give cheerfully whether that be financially or a listening ear or just love on someone.  In any scenario God will know your heart.  That the giving concept not only looks at our financial giving but our time.  In the time we give to people we give love, we listen, we can give empathy, we can encourage.

Dear Lord,  Continue to build a faith in us that portrays our faith completely in you.  That in our sharing we do it with a love that exemplifies Jesus.Teach me that all we have to offer all day long is done for others because that is what you ask us. Help us not grow weary in doing good.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9

generosity-2

 

Faithfulness

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. -Psalm 36: 5-7

God’s love was hard to miss and yet sometimes people missed it or turned away — sometimes I did too. But why? I knew God was sovereign and would do as He pleased, but did he use affliction and sin to draw us closer? That was sure how it had worked for me, but still I wondered, did He ever cause it? Perhaps affliction and sin were not only the natural consequences of turning away from God, but also the way God drew close to us. This was starting to make sense.

The History of the Jewish nation and the story of David both offer examples of God’s love and power. They are examples of how people respond to God and how God responds to people. These stories are historical treasures and lessons in both faithfulness and spiritual transformation, lessons that still speak truth and power into the lives of people today!

Israel cried out to God:

Remember, Lord, what has happened to us; look, and see our disgrace. Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. We have become fatherless, our mothers are widows. We must buy the water we drink; our wood can be had only at a price. Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest. We submitted to Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread. Our ancestors sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment. Slaves rule over us, and there is no one to free us from their hands. -Lamentations 5:1-8

Despite being chosen by God to be a holy nation and despite God’s frequent demonstration of his love, Israel turned away from God over and over. Their sin of disobedience resulted in affliction that many times led to repentance and reconciliation. When the Israelites were “on track” with God, His grace came in the blessings of provision and remarkable victories over powerful foes.

The stories of God’s anointing of Saul and Saul’s disobedience, when compared to David and his adulatory and act of murder, are in stark contrast to each other. Despite David’s transgressions, because he never stops trusting and loving God, he has a different outcome than Saul who turns away from God, eventually in arrogance and self righteousness as God’s Holy Spirit retreats along with His blessings. On the other hand, David’s faithfulness leads to his forgiveness by God who “washes him white as snow” and separates him from his sin, “as far as the East is from the West.”

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” -1 Samuel 16:1

In the examples of David and Saul, it sure looks like, if we remain faithful, God remains with us, despite our shortcomings. But our permanent separation from God appeared to be a possible consequence if we turned our backs on God. This was true with Pharaoh, and Saul, and even Israel. God in His sovereignty reserves the right to take back the gift of “free will”, which could allow our hearts to harden. I certainly didn’t want that to happen to me, but what if in my hesitancy it was possible?

Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 20; 1 Corinthians 2; Lamentations 5; Psalm 36

I often wondered how God’s wisdom was revealed? And how could I know God’s spirit? Often this seemed beyond my understanding. And then there were times when I felt God’s presence so powerfully I couldn’t believe I ever favored my prescription for happiness over God’s. But without the stark contrasts in my life, would I have been able to understand my relationship to God? The list of thoughts and words and deeds that I had chosen that “grieved” the Holy Spirit were too long to list, and yet God still poured His Holy Spirit into me when I turned to Him, when I asked. I was so moved by God’s Grace it literally brought me to my knees.

However, as it was written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. -1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Somehow I knew, if I sought God’s will above my own, it would be revealed. I would never know the depth of God’s love and wisdom if I continued to pursue my own understanding and worldly wisdom. I knew I had to change. I was changing.

Somehow I learned that life was so much more than being cool and having fun. As cool and fun as that was, it often became the “honey pot” that distracted me from finding real treasure, a treasure more vast and magnificent than any I ever imagined.

This is what I hungered for. This is what I found. Thank you Jesus.