Saturday, June 24, 2017

not forgotten


Who needs to read this today, besides me?



Hebrews 6


10 For God is not unjust.

He will not forget how hard you have worked for him

and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers,

as you still do.

11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts,

in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.

12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent.

Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. (NLT)



God is not unfair:

he will not lose sight of all that you have done

nor of the loving labour which you have shown for his sake in looking after fellow-Christians

(as you are still doing).

It is our earnest wish that every one of you should show a similar keenness in fully grasping the hope that is within you.

We do not want any of you to grow slack,

but to follow the example of those who through sheer patient faith came to possess the promises. (J B Phillips)



God doesn’t miss anything.

He knows perfectly well all the love you’ve shown him by helping needy Christians,

and that you keep at it.

And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope,

and keep at it till the finish.

Don’t drag your feet.

Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them. (The Message)



10 God is not unjust or unfair.

He won’t overlook the work you have done

or the love you have carried to each other in His name while doing His work,

as you are still doing.

11 We want you all to continue working until the end so that you’ll realize the certainty that comes with hope 12 and not grow lazy.

We want you to walk in the footsteps of the faithful who came before you, from whom you can learn to be steadfast in pursuing the promises of God. (The Voice)

Friday, June 23, 2017

32

Have you ever read Psalm 32?

Read it in these 2 different translations & 1 paraphrase.



Psalm 32 (NLT)

1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.

4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.

I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the LORD."

  And you forgave me!

All my guilt is gone.

6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.

7 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble.

  You surround me with songs of victory.


8 The LORD says,

"I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.

  I will advise you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control."

10 Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD.

11 So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him!

  Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Psalm 32 (The Message)

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be - you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.

2 Count yourself lucky - God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him.



3 When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.



4 The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.



5 Then I let it all out;
    

I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”



Suddenly the pressure was gone;

    my guilt dissolved,



    my sin disappeared.



6 These things add up.
Every one of us needs to pray;
    

when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts


    we’ll be on high ground, untouched.



7 God’s my island hideaway,
    

keeps danger far from the shore,
    

throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.



8 Let me give you some good advice;


    I’m looking you in the eye


    and giving it to you straight:



9 “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.”



10 God-defiers are always in trouble;


    God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around.



11 Celebrate God.


    Sing together—everyone!


    All you honest hearts, raise the roof!



Psalm 32 (The Voice)

How happy is the one whose wrongs are forgiven, whose sin is hidden from sight.
2 How happy is the person whose sin the Eternal will not take into account.
    How happy are those who no longer lie, to themselves or others.



3 When I refused to admit my wrongs, I was miserable,


    moaning and complaining all day long


    so that even my bones felt brittle.


4 Day and night, Your hand kept pressing on me.


    My strength dried up like water in the summer heat;


    You wore me down.



5 When I finally saw my own lies, I owned up to my sins before You, and I did not try to hide my evil deeds from You.

I said to myself, “I’ll admit all my sins to the Eternal,”
    

and You lifted and carried away the guilt of my sin.






6 So let all who are devoted to You speak honestly to You now, while You are still listening.


For then when the floods come, surely the rushing water will not even reach them.


7 You are my hiding place.


    You will keep me out of trouble


    and envelop me with songs that remind me I am free.






8 I will teach you and tell you the way to go and how to get there;


    I will give you good counsel, and I will watch over you.


9 But don’t be stubborn and stupid like horses and mules who, if not reined by leather and metal, will run wild, ignoring their masters.



10 Tormented and empty are wicked and destructive people,


    but the one who trusts in the Eternal is wrapped tightly in His gracious love.


11 Express your joy; be happy in Him, you who are good and true.


    Go ahead, shout and rejoice aloud, you whose hearts are honest and straightforward.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

notorious

Luke 19

1 Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town.

2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus.

He was the chief tax collector in the region,

and he had become very rich.

3 He tried to get a look at Jesus,

but he was too short to see over the crowd.

4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road,

for Jesus was going to pass that way.

  5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name.

"Zacchaeus!" he said. "Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today."


  6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.

7 But the people were displeased.

"He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner," they grumbled.


  8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said,

"I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord,

and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!"


  9 Jesus responded, "Salvation has come to this home today,

for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost."



Sometimes I wonder if we forget why Jesus came to earth.


He didn't come to gather into His club all the “good” people.

His mission wasn't to validate & accentuate the righteousness of smug white, middle class evangelicals.

Somehow I find it hard to believe He came to make even more comfortable the comfortable.


He came for “notorious sinners”, which were & are the last people we think He should seek out.

He should focus more on people like us – people who follow Him & live quasi-righteous lives.


I think we all tend to forget that before Jesus came into our lives, we ALL were (& are) “notorious sinners”.

And before any of us get all huffy at that statement, think about what everyone would think of ANY of us if each & every thought &/or deed we have ever had or done were displayed for everyone to see & judge.

That would not be a pretty thing for any of us.

The older I get, the more impressed I am with how sinful I am.


Let's face it – Jesus came to save all of us because we ALL were trapped in our “notoriously sinful” lives & needed Him to give us a way out.

Just because we've read the Bible through a few of times, & gone to a few Christian retreats & thrown ourselves over the altar like a sack of feed, & gone on 1 overseas mission trip where we spent the last full day there on the beach, doesn't mean we've somehow gotten past the fact that before we hooked up with Jesus we not only needed to be rescued from our sinful selves, but that we still need to be rescued from that same sinful self every single day since.


We're all just “notorious sinners” saved by grace.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

impossible?

This verse is from the encounter of Jesus with the rich young man.


Luke 18

18 Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question:

"Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?"

  19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him.

"Only God is truly good.

20 But to answer your question, you know the commandments:

'You must not commit adultery.

You must not murder.

You must not steal.

You must not testify falsely.

Honor your father and mother.'"

  21 The man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was young."

  22 When Jesus heard his answer, he said,

"There is still one thing you haven't done.

Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor,

and you will have treasure in heaven.

Then come, follow me."


  23 But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.


  24 When Jesus saw this,* he said,

"How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!

25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!"

  26 Those who heard this said,

"Then who in the world can be saved?"

  27 He replied, "What is impossible for people is possible with God."


* * * * * * * * * * * *

No matter how you translate it, the power statement Jesus had in that conversation is amazing...


Luke 18:27


"What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God." Jesus, in Luke 18:21 (NLT, 1st ed.)


But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” (Amplified)


Jesus answered, “God can do things that are not possible for people to do.” (ERV)


But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (ESV)


Jesus replied, “What men find impossible is perfectly possible with God.” (J B Phillips)


No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” (Message)


Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (NIV)


Remember, what is humanly impossible is possible with God. (The Voice)


But Jesus said, `God can do what men cannot do.' (WE)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

serving

This is Jesus, talking to His disciples one day...



 Luke 17

7 "When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, 'Come in and eat with me'?

8 No,

he says,

'Prepare my meal,

put on your apron,

and serve me while I eat.

Then you can eat later.'

9 And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do?

Of course not.

10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say,

'We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.'"



We in the white, middle class, evangelicals have such a success orientation toward servanthood.


We think if we are “servants of the Lord” then we are guaranteed success, as the world sees it.


We think that being “servants of the Lord” is glamorous.


We also think that as “servants of the Lord” we should be afford by God an explanation of what is going on in our areas in which we serve.


And we think as “servants of the Lord” we should be praised for it & garner certain “perks” as part of the glorious sacrifce(s) we make to be servants.



Nothing could be further from the truth.


Being a servant is not glamorous,

nor guaranteed success in the eyes of the world,

nor praise for being so servile,

and often as not we will be clueless as to what our serving is all about.


I'm always a little suspicious when someone says in some sanguine tone,

all I want to be is a servant of the Lord...”

That usually means they've never been one.



So what am I trying to say?


Serving the Lord in whatever ways He indicates is our reasonable response to the infinite love, mercy, & grace that He has extended towards us.

Pure & simple...


Servants don't get to know the “why” of their serving – they just serve.

Servants are guaranteed success – in fact, it may look like failure under the measuring stick of the world.

Serving doesn't come with a list of entitlements.

And we seldom get the opportunity to choose who or what, when, where, or how we will be serving.


We serve because God indicates He has tasks for us to undertake.


Think about all that...

Monday, June 19, 2017

2017 verses

Just a reminder of the verses I feel like God has given me to hold on to for 2017.


I think I'm a little dim – I didn't notice until late February that these 3 verses all start with “Don't be afraid...” & the beginning of Psalm 37 starts with “Don't worry...”



Don't be afraid, for I am with you.

Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you.

I will help you.

I will uphold you with My victorious hand.

Isaiah 41:10



Do not be afraid or discouraged,

for the Lord is the One who goes before you.

He will be with you.

He will neither fail you or forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:8



Don' be afraid. Just trust Me.”

Luke 8:50b Jesus is speaking to Jairus.



The other big chunk I feel was given me was Psalm 37, which I quoted in this blog a few days ago.


Go back & read it too, if you didn't read it the other day.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

27

Psalm 27


1 The LORD is my light and my salvation - so why should I be afraid?

The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?

2 When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.


3 Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.

Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.

4 The one thing I ask of the LORD - the thing I seek most - is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD's perfections and meditating in his Temple.


5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;

  he will hide me in his sanctuary.
  He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me.

At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music.


7 Hear me as I pray, O LORD.

  Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."
  And my heart responds, "LORD, I am coming."
9 Do not turn your back on me.
  Do not reject your servant in anger.
  You have always been my helper.
Don't leave me now; don't abandon me, O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O LORD.

  Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
  For they accuse me of things I've never done;
  with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the LORD's goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the LORD.

  Be brave and courageous.
  Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

should someone tell the wicked?

Psalm 37


1 Don't worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.
2 For like grass, they soon fade away.
  Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good.
  Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires.

5 Commit everything you do to the LORD.
  Trust him, and he will help you.
6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act.
Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

8 Stop being angry!
  Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper - it only leads to harm.

9 For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.

10 Soon the wicked will disappear.
  Though you look for them, they will be gone.
11 The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the godly;
  they snarl at them in defiance.
13 But the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming.

14 The wicked draw their swords and string their bows to kill the poor and the oppressed, to slaughter those who do right.

15 But their swords will stab their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.

16 It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich.
17 For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly.

18 Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.

19 They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

20 But the wicked will die.
  The LORD's enemies are like flowers in a field - they will disappear like smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers.
22 Those the LORD blesses will possess the land, but those he curses will die.

23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly.
  He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.

25 Once I was young, and now I am old.
  Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.

26 The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly.
He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die.
29 The godly will possess the land and will live there forever.

30 The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.
31 They have made God's law their own, so they will never slip from his path.

32 The wicked wait in ambush for the godly, looking for an excuse to kill them.
33 But the LORD will not let the wicked succeed or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.

34 Put your hope in the LORD.
  Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land.
  You will see the wicked destroyed.

35 I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil.

36 But when I looked again, they were gone!
  Though I searched for them, I could not find them!

37 Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.

38 But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.

39 The LORD rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them, and they find shelter in him.

Friday, June 16, 2017

XXV

Just read this & think about the things David wrote here...



Psalm 25

1 O LORD, I give my life to you.
2   I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
  but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

4 Show me the right path, O LORD;
  point out the road for me to follow.
5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
  for you are the God who saves me.
  All day long I put my hope in you.
6 Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love,
  which you have shown from long ages past.
7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
  Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
  for you are merciful, O LORD.

8 The LORD is good and does what is right;
  he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
9 He leads the humble in doing right,
  teaching them his way.
10 The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

11 For the honor of your name, O LORD, forgive my many, many sins.
12 Who are those who fear the LORD?
  He will show them the path they should choose.
13 They will live in prosperity,
  and their children will inherit the land.
14 The LORD is a friend to those who fear him.
  He teaches them his covenant.
15 My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.

16 Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress.
17 My problems go from bad to worse.
  Oh, save me from them all!
18 Feel my pain and see my trouble.
  Forgive all my sins.
19 See how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me!
20 Protect me! Rescue my life from them!
  Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge.
21 May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.


22 O God, ransom Israel from all its troubles.