Psalm 139

This was in my reading plan yesterday, and the whole psalm is just too wonderful not to ponder again! I encourage you to open your own Bible today and soak it up. This is the New Living Translation. What are you reading from? I’d love to know. 

Psalm 139

Psalm 139

For the choir director: A psalm of David.


1 O Lord, you have examined my heart

    and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.

    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel

    and when I rest at home.

    You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say

    even before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me.

    You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

    I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,

    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

    and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me

    and the light around me to become night—

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born.

    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.

    They cannot be numbered!

18 I can’t even count them;

    they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up,

    you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!

    Get out of my life, you murderers!

20 They blaspheme you;

    your enemies misuse your name.

21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?

    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?

22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,

    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you,

    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Is your Storm > Faith?

Yes, you read that right. The storm is often greater than our faith. Especially when we are brand new to having faith.  That’s the awful truth and reality of life and all that we go through. We know in our hearts that God is good and trustworthy, but when we look up and realize the intensity of the waves and the wind, fear can strike us and paralyze us. The more we grow in our maturity of faith, the goal would be to have faith unshakable. Trust that conquers all storms. But we don’t start there. It’s a trait given to us only by the Holy Spirit. It is not in our nature to go through storms without fear. We first have to know God and His character, and then we can grow our trust. 

Today in my reading plan:

• 2 Samuel 1

• Psalm 140

• Matthew 14

{{ By the way, It’s always exciting to get to a new book in the OT. I’ve never read this far. So I am really thankful for a lot of grace this year as I journey through the Bible. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s not meant to be. If you’re ready to read the Bible every day, join our Year Of Grace 2017 Bible Reading Group }}. 

Today my verse is Matthew 14:31, however, I feel I need to share the context. So, here’s the context. 

Matthew 14:14-33 ESV

(English Standard Version)

14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Wow. So that’s a lot to take in. Let’s observe. Keep in mind this is immediately after Jesus has been told John the Baptist had been headed (v 1-13). 

• Jesus heals the sick & shows compassion 

• Jesus feeds the 5,000 using only a few loaves of bread and a few fish!!! 

• The disciples leave on the boat 

• Jesus sends the crowd home after a day of healing and miracles, then he goes to pray by himself. 

• A mighty storm brews while Jesus’s disciples are at sea, so Jesus walks out to the boat during the storm!!! 

The disciples are afraid, thinking Jesus is a ghost, Jesus responds “do not be afraid”. 

• Peter needs proof, so Jesus tells him to walk out to Him. 

• Peter walks out towards Jesus, on the water, but he realizes how terrible the storm is, sees the wind, becomes afraid and begins to sink. 

• Jesus asks why Peter doubted? “Oh you of little faith”

• The disciples (Finally??!!!) realize Jesus is the Son of God and they worship Him. 

A: Application 

Why did Peter doubt that Jesus would keep him safe? He had literally just that day witness Jesus making the miracle of feeding more than 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread and fish!! Plus, Jesus healed the sick! My goodness, we really can pick Peter apart here. However, we can really relate to this if we stop and think. We are so much like Peter.

How many times does God answer prayer and the very next “storm” we encounter, we completely forget God’s faithfulness?? 

Can you imagine Jesus speaking to you, “oh you of little faith, why did you doubt me”. OUCH. And yet, we all know there have been times where we saw the storm, became afraid, lost our sight and sank!! So, how do we get through the storms of life and assure our faith > the storm? We keep our eyes focused on Jesus, we keep walking, we don’t focus on the storm- we focus on our Savior.

There’s no getting around the fact that life is difficult. We have hardships, disease, death, loss, uncertainty.. and the list goes on and on. 

We can sink in the paralyzingly fear of the unknown, or we can walk with Jesus and keep our eyes focused on Him. 

What does this look like? It may look a little different for each of us, but there are some core concepts. 

• Prayer & Daily time with God

• Bible study

• Scripture Memorization

• Fellowship with other Christians 

• Following the love actions of Christ (serving, sharing, giving, etc) 

Ask God to help you grow your faith and make it solid. Be prepared for battle, Satan will do whatever he can to deter us from the path and faith life God has for us. Satan loves to fill us with fear. Remember that true love casts out all fear! (1 John 4:18) 

Dear God,

Please forgive us when we take our eyes off you and focus on the storm. We are more reactive to fear than the Word and Promises of God more times than we’d like to confess. Forgive our little faith and doubts. 

Grow our faith. Help us to become disciplined in walking with you. Help us to cling to you and reject fear. Lead us and compell us to follow. 

Let our faith be something that others can see and wonder how we can go through life storms and not be shaken. Give us opportunities to share YOUR HOPE. You are the hope of the world. 

Thank you God, 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

April 22nd, 2017:Memorize Psalm 63

If you love music and want to memorize the Psalms, the Christian band Shane and Shane has put the Psalms to beautiful music. Open your Bible to Psalm 63. (The translations may be slightly different, but the melody is fixating). 

Listen here to Psalm 63. 

Psalm 63

O God You’re my God I seek YouO my soul it longs for You
my flesh faints for You in this land

this dry land where there is no drink

I’ve looked upon You in this place

be holding your power and glory, Lord
Because Your love is better than life is

I will praise You as long as I’m alive

and in the face of precious Jesus

O my soul will be satisfied

O God You’re my God I seek You

O my soul it longs for You

my flesh faints for You in this land

this dry land where there is no drink

I’ve looked upon You in this place

be holding your power and glory, Lord
You have been my help

in the shadow of Your wings

I’ll sing for joy
You have been my help

in the shadow of Your wings

I’ll sing

I’ll sing
Because Your love is better than life is

I will praise You as long as I’m alive

and in the face of precious Jesus

O my soul will be satisfied

Prayer & Grace

•1 Samuel 23

• Psalm 31 & 54

• Matthew 7

Matthew 7:29

When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, for He taught with real authority- quite unlike their teachers of religious law.


Jesus has just finished teaching the sermon on the mount and has given a lot of commands, but in a totally new way. See Matthew 5:1-7:29

He has taught on:

  • The Beatitudes
  • The law
  • Anger
  • Adultery 
  • Divorce 
  • Vows
  • Revenge
  • Loving your enemy
  • Giving to the needy
  • Prayer 
  • Fasting
  • Money & posessions
  • Worry
  • Judging others
  • Effective prayer
  • Wisdom 
  • The golden rule
  • The narrow gate
  • A tree and it’s fruit
  • True disciples
  • Solid foundation

Wow. The crowds are amazed! Jesus is teaching with real authority. He is quoting scripture, but not reading word for word. He is giving new commands- being radical, once again. What they thought they understand, perhaps has been turned upside down. Jesus began by teaching only his disciples, but crowds had come to the mountain side as well. Unlike the teachers of the reiguous law, whose authority only derived from quoting scripture or previous teachings of other scholars, Jesus taught with direct authority. His teaching was based on his own authority as the messiah. (7:28-29 footnotes from NLT Study Bible)

So, here we see Jesus’s teachings. Some of them I read and I think to myself, wow, that’s great theory but can I really do that? Maybe I’m the only one who has thought that, or maybe you can relate. 

Love your enemy. Don’t judge. Always give to the needy. Keep your word. Don’t sin in anger. Keep your thoughts pure… on and on Jesus goes with His teachings. It’s a high bar that Jesus has set. And then I remember two things. 

  1. Any fear is not from God. If I am afraid to step out in faith, it’s not because God has let me hold that fear. It could be my sinful nature but also could be the enemy trying to hold me back from doing God’s will. So, I need to pray to be bold… not fearless, necessarily, I can take steps while being afraid but obedient. The fear will go away. “Faith it til you make it” may need be applied here!
  2. God has given us His Holy Spirit. We can do these things because He has given us the power. It is not in our own will or flesh. Prayer, prayer, prayer. Ask for guidance. Ask for anointing. Ask for grace. Ask for forgiveness. Keep on asking and God will give us all we need to accomplish His will. 

We aren’t designed to be perfect, but we are designed to be obedient. Let’s not abuse grace. Jesus has given us these things to learn and apply, and He’s also given us the Spirit to have the power to put it all into action. God’s also given us grace when we fail in these areas. So let’s start the day by asking for God’s guidance, for our boldness and for more grace as we go through each day. 

Dear God,

Thank you. Thank you for these holy words. Thank you for showing us what Jesus taught. Thank you for helping our hearts understand. 

God, I pray you meet our fears and failures with grace and give us boldness to do your will. When the world sees what you ask and calls it difficult or crazy, let us be bold for you. Let us be obedient. Lord, you give us grace but we don’t want to abuse it. We want to be obedient to You! Lead us. Gently nudge us. Perhaps shove us into your will if it’s what we need. God, we hold too tightly to this world. Help us to have open hands and open hearts. Rid us of our pride and our jusgemental hearts. Purify our purposes and goals to match yours. Let us show the world YOUR love, in a radical way, like Jesus did. 

Oh God, we are yours. Let us act like it. 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen


Loving The Difficult Ones

Matthew chapter 5 has such a goldmine of words of Jesus. It’s really difficult to choose one small section to share what’s been spoken to my heart. That’s the awesome thing about SOAP journaling with a group: everybody will be given a message that will slightly differ. If you ever get the chance to read the Bible together with friends, please do. It’s such an awesome experience! 

So, today I was drawn to the entire chapter of Matthew 5… it was in my reading plan for today. However, I try to focus in on one verse and one smaller section. So today was Matthew 5:44. In order to share in the context, I’ll share 5:43-48.

Matthew 5:43-48

Matthew 5:43-48New Living Translation (NLT)

Teaching about Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[a] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![b] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[c] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Okay, so that’s a lot to take in! Jesus never sets the bar and leaves it there. He sets the bar and then raises it higher. The great news is that we have been given the power of he Holy Spirit to do these things that Jesus tells us to do. 

• Love your enemies 

• Pray for those who persecute you

• Imitate God in the way He loves 

God gives to both evil and good. It’s easy for us to only love those who are lovely, good to us, and easy to love. However, everybody can do that! Even the corrupt and evil ones in the world love their family and lovely people around them. Show your love to those who are deemed unlovable, difficult, evil to you and hate you. Have you ever noticed you can stop someone in their tracks just by showing unexpected kindness? What a way to show the love of Jesus… just by being kind and loving when it’s least expected! Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us. Anyone who is against us? Pray for THEM?! And that doesn’t mean pray for them to go away. Pray for them in a sincere way… wow. That is difficult. We know with God’s help, we can genuinely learn to do this, however unappealing it is to our sinful heart.

Oh God in Heaven, 

You’ve given us Your Word and the words of Jesus. Please don’t let us read and forget. Help us to change and follow You. Let our hearts be softened. We are so wired to hate, seek revenge and harden our hearts to forgiveness. Let us be bold and different and love those who hate us, betray us, and seek vengeance towards us. Let us love those who the world has said is unlovable or unworthy. We can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit, who you’ve given to those who know Christ as their savior. You haven’t left us without a helper, and for that we thank you! 

God, days can be so difficult. Let us show kindness and love when it’s least expected. Help us to think before we speak or act. Change our rotten hearts into softened reflections of Christ’s heart for the world. Let us remember we love only because YOU loved first.

Thank you for this day and be with those who are going through difficult times that can set hate into their hearts. Let them run to You, God. 

In Jesus’ name we pray, 

Amen

Footnotes:


5:43 Lev 19:18.

5:44 Some manuscripts add Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Compare Luke 6:27-28.

5:47 Greek your brothers.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Recognizing God & His Word

Matthew 4:1

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.

It’s interesting as soon as Jesus is baptized and God proclaims vocally that Jesus is His son, that He immediately goes into the wilderness. While He is there, Jesus is tempted by the devil. The devil also uses God’s own word (out of context and not in it’s entirety) to tempt Jesus into sinning. Jesus knew that while the devil was using scripture, he was leaving out a lot. Jesus avoided sinning by knowing the True Word and Charactar of God. Jesus rebukes temptation by using scripture against scripture. When Jesus is most likely to fall into temptation, He shows us perfect obedience to God.

That comes to the question: 

If the Word of God was being using wrongly, would we recognize it?

There are 3 ways to help us with this:: 

1) Know God’s character. Walk with Him. 

2) Know God’s Word. Hold it in your heart to be able to recognize when scripture is being used out of context or misconstrued into something it shouldn’t say. 

3) Seek & Pray. Pray for God to help you recognize false teaching or temptation. I have also found it invaluable to have a wise mentor or teacher that has walked before me to be able to seek guidance from. I encourage you to find that! If you’re unsure where to seek, ask your pastor. 

We can learn so much by this section in Matthew. I encourage you to open up your own Bibles and read for yourself. Ask God to reveal to you what the message is revealing about Jesus. I see a perfect God in the body of a man, able to go through temptation and be perfect. Gone 40 days without food and thinking clearly. Completely human and completely God, Jesus can relate to our human experience. 

But don’t rely on what my thoughts are. For one, I’m not a scholar. For two, I am just sharing what God is showing to me. Go and read for yourself and store the word of God in your heart! 

We are constantly surrounded with so many teachings, which is something that’s fairly new to our generation. We must be aware and compare. Pray and seek guidance. Know the Word for yourself so you can recognize a false gospel. 

God, 

I pray today that we will walk closely to You and recognize your true Word. Help us to take time and walk with You. Let us soak up your character and know You. Show us how to hide scripture in our hearts so we can recognize good teaching. And let us not use this to become righteous.. fill us with grace and love to share with others.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Scripture Inspired Prayers

Prayer tip:

Take a favorite passage of scripture and write it into an inspired prayer. This isn’t a way to follow rules, simply let the spirit be inspired by God breathed scripture and use it to form a prayer.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Oh mighty God, Father in Heaven,

I pray for my brothers and sisters to be strong in You and Your mighty power. I pray each of us would stand against the schemes of Satan by putting on your whole holy armor. 

Lord, you are the only defense we have against Satan. Help us to fight against the rulers of darkness and the sin in this age. Protect us from spiritual hosts and the wicked that this world is full of. Lord, we know this is not our home. Help us to look forward to when we will be home with You so we can endure the difficulties of life.

Dear God, I pray you help us to know your truth; give us discipline us to learn your word and keep it in our hearts so we may wear the belt of truth. 

Through your spirit may we place the breastplate of righteousness; help us to repent of our sin and confess and ask forgiveness daily.

Lord, overflow our minds with peace by meditating on your gospel… that Christ died, buried and raised again and we are forgiven of our sins.

Lord, most importantly, give us a solid shield of faith. I pray for all believers to have faith that conquers all situations and spiritual warfare. Help us use our faith to avoid the tactics of Satan. Lord, I pray that our shields of faith can protect us from ALL the schemes of Satan. Strengthen our belief. Remind us you are good. Let us hold that in our hearts. 

God, we thank you for our salvation. Salvation that we do not deserve but you gave to us because you love us. Humble is with the knowledge of how salvation works. Remind us we cannot do anything to earn your love, but that we need only to faithfully believe. 

Lord, we thank you for your Word. Show us how to be prayerful in all situations by asking for help from the Holy Spirit inside of us. 

Lord, let us be patient and guide us through situations that are difficult and grow perseverance in our spirits. Grow our prayer life to pray on behalf of all believers this prayer. Raise up a generation of believers who are strong and steadfast in your word. God, we face a battle only You can guide us through. Help us to be watchful. Give us wisdom to know what to do in all situations. 
Oh Mighty God, I pray that you give us BOLDNESS to proclaim your gospel. Let us be a fool for you, Jesus. In a world that is running fast from You, Lord, let us be light and let us magnetize those around us to wonder what we have. Let us only show Love. Not judgement or condemnation. 

Oh God, I pray these things over all of my brothers and sisters tonight, and every day. 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

It’s been a good try, but I am Throwing in the towel. 

January 1st is filled with bright dreams and great goals. Most of our goals won’t make it past January 15th. In fact, 80% of New Years resolutions fail by February. In fact, on average, the success rate for New Years resolutions is a mere 8%. 

Have you gotten to the point where you’re rationalizing it’s not worth attempting the goal of reading through the Bible in 2017? Let me encourage you, then. 

So if you’ve made it past February, you have already beat the majority of the odds. Now, how do you finish out your goal of reading the Bible this year? 

With Grace.

Missed days can add up quickly when you have real life chaos. Even with best intentions it can be easy to prioritize something else above your reading time. Especially if you are a mom and love to put your tasks in last place. So, here’s a story of my March and how I’ve made sure that I am sticking to my goals. One day at a time and lots of prayer, grace and discipline.

March was filled with days that ended up becoming labeled “missed”. By the way, Satan loves to make you feel guilty, condemened and like a failure who should give up. Tell him to go back to where he came from.  So as a pick up April and see the crazy March, I remember this year is a YEAR of GRACE! Hallelujah. I can pick up on the day of my reading plan and just start reading.

 I want to show you what real life looks like sometimes. ⤵️

Real life: missed days and grace

Lots of missed days in March. Should I say “let’s throw the towel in?”……

March 16, 17, 18, 19, 20…22,23….25,26,27…30,31

Absolutely not! I will get through the Bible and God will use every day to teach me. The truth is, if I’m not up by 4:45-5am, I just won’t prioritize time later in the day as easily. Things come up and the days go quickly. I’m sure you can relate?! So I know the key to success for me if making sure I get up early or schedule my reading in advance. 

Bible study tip:

Schedule your time to read and study. Make an appointment with God. Pray for Him to keep you accountable. 

I don’t share this to brag or reconcile for the days I fell behind. I share to show you that it’s possible to have real life and get through the Bible. Now, I’m almost caught up… a few more chapters in Judges & some New Testament and I’ll have my gaps filled. But the key to not feeling overwhelmed is not trying to jump in on April 1st and trying to make up for half of March. April 1 means you read the reading on the schedule for April 1. Then, if I have time I go back and read a chapter or two from something I missed. I actually find that the content I missed I am really craving to fill the gaps in the story from Judges and Joshua. 

So, to catch my blog if my journey up, I’m going to share the verses I’ve been journaling. I just haven’t gotten them into the blog yet. These parts of the Bible have me gasping and writing WOW. It’s intense and so interesting. I can see the love story unfolding and it’s amazing me as more and more of the dots are connected for me. Remember: I’ve never read the Bible cover to cover (I’ve done a handful bible studies though). So majority of what I’m reading is fairly new to me. 

April 1: Judges 8:33-34 
33 As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping the images of Baal, making Baal-berith their god. 34 They forgot the Lord their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies surrounding them.

How often do we forget what God has rescued us from?

April 2: Judges 13:18

18 “Why do you ask my name?” the angel of the LORD replied. “It is too wonderful for you to understand.”

Manoah hadn’t known he was talking to an angel of the Lord. After the angel left he realized how amazing the meeting was. Manoah is the father of Samson. The angel was visiting for the second time to answer more questions about Samson’s future birth.

April 3: Judges 17:6

6 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

This verse is said over and over again through the book of judges. Not surprisingly, the book actually ends on this note. Judges was a book that left me in awe. Why would God want to rescue us over and over again?

April 4: 2 Corinthians 4:6

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Lord, let us be your light in this dark world. 

April 5: Ruth 1:16-17

Ruth 1:16-17New Living Translation (NLT)
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”
Lord, if I can be half as faithful as Ruth in one part of my life, I know I would be blessed. Help us to use her as an example to follow. Amen. 

April 6: Psalm 65:5

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,

    O God our savior.

You are the hope of everyone on earth,

    even those who sail on distant seas.

God is faithful,

Faithful to answer our prayers. 

Answer with awesome deeds. 

You are our hope.

You are the hope of all in the world. 

Lord, let us glorify you. 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen


So, 

That’s my journey. I pray you are doing well. God is waiting for you to jump in today, meet with Him and talk with Him. 

I’m praying for you!

Jessica