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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 

Wednesday March 29th: Using Your Gifts to Edify (Build Up) Christ

Today I read Judges 6-7, 1 Corinthians 14 and Psalm 52. It’s so hard to choose one verse to focus on, but today God really showed me exactly what He wanted me to learn today. 

Build Up
S: 1 Corinthians 14 (v 12) 1-25 NIV

 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

(NLT words it “and the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church. 

NKJV words it Even so you, since you are zealous {eager} for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification {building up} of the church that you seek to excel.)
13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.
18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written:
“With other tongues

    and through the lips of foreigners

I will speak to this people,

    but even then they will not listen to me,

says the Lord.”

22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

*NIV, NLT, and NKJV are abbreviations for translation of the Bible. Read more about the differences here

O:Observation 

 Paul is speaking to the new Christian church in Corinth and addressing the Spieitual Gifts. He specifically is addressing how to use individual spiritual gifts. 

A: Application 

Paul reminds me 2 important things. 1) Spiritual gifts are for building up the church of Christ 2) all spiritual gifts are individual and critical to the body of the church. 

P: Prayer 

Dear Heavenly Father, 

Thank you for spiritual gifts. Help us to discern where you have gifted us. Show us the opportunities to take action to use our gifts. Let us not compare spiritual gifts or become proud in our gifts we have been given by you. Let our gifts be used to build up others and glorify you. Let us praise you in everything we do. Let our spiritual gifts be a light to the unbelieving world to see that we have a hope and faith that is worth chasing. 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen 

Pets Can Teach Us Too

This story from Luke reminds me of my stubborn dog Frankie who just stands by me until he gets what he wants….. just stands and stares or puts his face in my lap. What he wants can be a total mystery sometimes, but he will not stop until he gets whatever he wants. Usually he wants to go outside far too late and sleep on the deck, I certainly don’t want to let him outside, but because he’s pestering me I let him go sleep on the porch at 10pm for a while. 

So. Are we that persistent in presenting our needs? It might be a bit of a stretch, but it definitely reminds me of a story from the book of Luke. 
The Story of the Persistent Widow

Luke 18 1-3 (the message)

Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’
4-5 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”
6-8 Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”

March 24, 2017 • Acts 18:9-10

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly waiting for the Chaos to fade away? I think that’s just how life feels sometimes. The end of chaos or busy-ness is an illusion. Is the illusion of future organization or peace and calm from the enemy? I can’t way one way or the other, but if it makes us feel like procrastination is on our side because of it, then it very may well be. 

This morning my alarm went off early, I grabbed my coffee and started reading. I jumped into Joshua about 6 days after missing readings and tried to figure out the context. I’ll be re reading the chapters I missed, but I know the value is I’m actually craving to read those chapters! God is doing things in my heart. 

Today my other passage was from Acts (as I focus on reading the NT during Lent).

Acts 18:9-10

9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”
Here, Paul is on yet another mission in a foreign land to spread the word of the gospel. God speaks to Paul in a vision. Wow! Do not be afraid. God seems to know exactly what Paul’s biggest opposition to progress may be: FEAR. So he visits him and speaks to him… specifically about this fear and to share that He has already gone ahead to plan for protection. 

How many times have we let fear prevent progress? How many times have we prevented God’s favor or blessing because we were too afraid to go where God had already provided for us? 

Lord, 

We know you have us in mind when planning everything. Help us to put our faith in action by trusting you. 

In Jesus’ name we pray, 

Amen 

Waiting Is hard!

What a beautiful story of loss, love and learning to wait on God! Trusting in Him can be difficult but boy is it blessed!

 

 

Wait on the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait on the Lord! Ps. 27:14 Who likes to wait? We wait in traffic, in line at the store and for guests to arrive for a dinner party. We wait for the coffee to get done brewing so we can have that perfect […]

via Patiently Waiting for my Husband — Joy in Jesus Journey