Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ezekiel 14-16

Ezekiel 14-16 is more about the trouble God's people are bringing on themselves because of their choices, choices that aren't connected to God's will.

Back then, around 590-570 BC, God's people worshipped idols, man-made figures, instead of God.  These tiny figures were a physical representation of the problems in their hearts.

God tells Ezekiel,

"..these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces."

God's people have been too caught up in their own ways to notice God, to hear Him and see Him in their lives.  And so, God continues discussing the certain judgement that will fall on these people.  God compares His people at the time to a useless vine and a cheating wife.  

It's not good, but I want to learn from their mistakes, you know.  And so, I notice three men God mentions in contrast to the unfaithfulness and the lost.

"even if these three men- Noah, Daniel, and Job--were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness,"
declares the Sovereign LORD.

These three men from the Bible stand out to God.  They have God's favor.  They make good choices, choices that matter to God.  What do they do that is so good?  I can't help but wonder.

Noah is the guy from the family line of Adam who follow's God's call to build a giant boat (Noah's ark) per God's instructions, loads his family and a bunch of creatures on the boat, and rides out a devastating flood for 40 days...all by God's grace.  It must have seemed like a crazy thing to do at the time, but Noah's faithfulness really paid off.

Daniel, remember, is the guy who was exiled to Babylon (after the fall of Jerusalem) and held captive in the company of the Babylonian king.  Daniel was determined to stay faithful to God instead of giving into the ways of the people around him.  Because of Daniel's faith, God is able to fill him with all kinds of knowledge and understanding.  Daniel's trust saves His life, even when he is locked in a lion's den.

Job is a guy who has it all, loses it all, suffers beyond imagination, and holds strong to his faith, through the good, bad, and ugly.  And because of Job's faith, God is with him and restores his life from a death bed, and blesses immensely.  

We can learn from these guys.  We can strengthen our own faith by reading their stories (and there's lots more in the details).  

All three of these men refuse to give in to the ways of the world and their circumstances.  They believe in God's goodness.  And their faith sees them through the easy and the hard times.  And even more than that, God is able to use these faithful men, and they are blessed for it.

Today's reading gets to the heart of the ways we all get lost today.  I catch myself looking at the temporal things and situations in front of me, and I get stuck putting more time and energy and focus there than I should.  But the thing is, God's power and presence is always with me.  I have to keep that in mind... 

God's helping hand is always reaching out for us, and its full of grace, guidance, and blessings.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for Your faithfulness.  Thank You for loving us, and for filling us with Your promises.  Thank You for Your grace and all the ways You use us for Your good and glory.

Forgive me for all the ways I allow stumbling blocks to stand in the way of being faithful to You and Your helping hand in my life.

Help me to focus on You and Your goodness and mercy in all circumstances.  Use me, Lord, and guide me in my walk with You.

I pray for all those who stumble and struggle to hold on to their faith and to know You and Your great love.  Strengthen them Lord and make Yourself known in their lives.

Make me an instrument of Your grace in the world, Lord.

You are our Lord and Savior.

In the name of Jesus I pray,

Grace and peace of Christ,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ezekiel 10-13

In today's reading (Ezekiel 10-13), God continues speaking through Ezekiel about the fall of Jerusalem and the small group of His people that He promises to save following their exile in Babylon.

God lets His people know that all of the visions and judgement Ezekiel has been sharing are about to actually happen.

The problem all along (as we can also read through Isaiah and Jeremiah) is that God's people are rebellious.  In this case, God speaks out against what has happened to His temple, the evil and unfaithful ways His people have been living for so long, and the false prophets that speak words from their own imaginations. 

In describing His people, God puts the issue this way,

They have eyes to see, but do not see
  and ears to hear but do not hear,
  for they are a rebellious people.

And as I read these words of frustration from God today, I realized that even though this bad news is really hard for me to read, it's also full of God's light.


Well, for sure we mess-up and struggle with sin in our lives too, just like God's people did back then.  That's an ever-present reality of living in this world.

But, we can call on Jesus to help us.  As we grow in our faith and come to know Jesus more and more, we can take these Living Words from God and turn them into powerful prayers of transformation for our own lives.

Through His Son, Jesus, God has sent us His Spirit to counsel, comfort, and guide us.

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
 If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth.
As believers, the Holy Spirit is in us and at work.  And at the root of God's judgements (though difficult to read) throughout the Old Testament, we find the very things that can be a problem in our lives, things that also make us struggle, things we need to acknowledge before God.  That's just the beginning of how Christ transforms us.
A prayer for today-
Dear God,
Thank You for the real power of Your Living Word to transform us and the way we live our lives.  Work Your holy word into my heart and into the way I choose to spend my days.  
Forgive me for all the ways I have eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear You.  Open my heart wide to Your power and presence.  Help me acknowledge all the ways my choices fall short of Your will for my life.
Counsel, comfort, and guide me and all of Your believers to grow in knowledge of Jesus and serve others in Your name.
Use me, Lord, to share the love of Christ and transform lives.
I ask all of these things in the name of Jesus,

In Christ's love,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ezekiel 5-9

God's judgement is coming down hard on His people.    

Ezekiel's words from God echo Jeremiah's (Ezekiel 5-9).  God is revealing His truth again and again through numerous people.

God has decided to repay His people for their unfaithful choices, choices that ignore God in their lives.  Jerusalem's destruction is coming.  Famine, sword, and plague will bring devastation.

God says,

"I will deal with them according to their conduct,
  and by their own standards I will judge them.

There's such a huge part of me that wants to skip over so much of this part of our reading.  And it's not because I don't want to hear what God has to say.  It's because it's so difficult for me to think about what it must have been like to live life without God's everlasting grace that comes to us now through Jesus.

As we can see (over and over and over and over again), we just can't get it right on our own.  Is it just me, or does it seem harder to be faithful without Jesus' example?  How else are we to know the enormity of God's love for us?

I don't know about you, but I am sure thankful God doesn't judge me according to my own conduct and standards.  I mess up way too much for that!

I found this snippet of good news in a promise God makes through Ezekiel about His judgement.  God says,

"I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again."

There it is, friends.  Things are different for us now than they were before Jesus.  We can trust God.  As we believe in Jesus and know that it's by God's grace we are saved from being judged according to our deeds, we find new life.

I found an important in this hard and messy reading- We are free to make choices in our lives.  And, our choices matter.

We owe it to God to choose to make Him the center of our lives.  Jesus showed us what that looks like, and the Holy Spirit is with us now to guide us in that direction.

And when we fall short, we have to choose to admit it to God by confessing our sins, all our mistakes big and little.  

God's transforming grace frees us to be the people God designed us to be.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for Your Living Word that works its way into our hearts and transforms us.  Thank You for Jesus who saves us, not by our words or deeds but by Your amazing grace.

Forgive me, Lord, for all the choices I make in my life that fall short of Your will.  Guide me by Your Holy Spirit to know Your way and direction.  Help me to rely on Your love and Jesus' example as I  go through my days, and open my heart and mind to Your transforming grace.

Lord, I pray for _______________________ to know You and Your love. Fill him/her/them with Your presence.

You are our Rock and our Redeemer, Lord.

In the name of Your Son, Jesus, I pray,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ezekiel 1-4

People are stubborn.  We just are.  That's at the center of our reading today as we begin reading Ezekiel (1-4).

While Jeremiah was a prophet predicting the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel the priest was already living in exile in Babylon.  Through a dramatic encounter with God, Ezekiel faithfully follows God's call in his life to be a prophet and "street preacher" to the Israelite captives.  Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel predicts Jerusalem's fall.

God uses Ezekiel to help people remember Him, repent of their sins, and find restoration for their lives and their souls.

It's a really hard call to follow, speaking to stubborn people for God, but God is clearly with Ezekiel every step of the way.

I love Ezekiel's description of his encounter with God.

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.  
When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

The hand of the LORD was on me there, and he said to me,
  "Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you."
So I got up and went out to the plain.  And the glory of the LORD was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell face down.

Even though most of us have probably not had a vision of God like Ezekiel's, we know that through Christ, God is with us.  He speaks to us and gives us glimpses of His glory in moments, and we can sense His presence and power.

For sure, I have sensed God's majesty in the faces of children, the glimmer of the sun and the vastness of the blue sky, the warm pause in a long embrace, the words of a song that make me sing and dance, the freedom and fun of just being with true friends, and even in the unexpected joy that comes in the middle of life's hardest times.

Have you ever had glimpses of God's glory?  However, extravagant or simple, God makes Himself known as we open our hearts to Him.  Whether He gives us a little nudge or knocks us off our feet, God lets us know that there's more to life with Him than we know, more than meets the eye.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank you for all the ways You make Yourself known to us.  Thank You for always being with us.

Forgive me for all the ways I allow myself to be so rushed and busy-bodied that I miss Your presence.  I don't want to keep getting so caught up in the unimportant things of this world that I miss Your voice.

  Help me to slow down.  Lord, open my heart, my mind, my eyes, and my ears to the glimpses of Your glory that are right in front of me.

Lord, please fill ____________________ with Your loving presence.

You are truly awesome, God.

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit I pray,

Grace and peace,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lamentations 3-5

Jeremiah is at a low in Lamentations 3-5, and we get to read how he pours his broken heart out to God.  His whole world has been turned upside down.  He's hurting and seems bitter.  Jeremiah's been faithfully serving God, and yet he is really struggling.

Maybe you can relate in some way because of something you have been through.  Or maybe, you are feeling much like Jeremiah right now.

Today's reading reminds us that sometimes the most powerful and faithful thing we can do is cry out to God.

Because in crying out to God, God is able to fill us with hope when we have none.

In his conversation with God, Jeremiah says,

Yet this I call to mind
  and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
  for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
  great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
  therefore I will wait for him."

It's God's faithfulness and compassion we can count on each and every day to sustain us.  When we are willing to cry out to God, even in the midst of our lowest lows as things look and feel the worst, God is there loving us.  In fact, that's when He's carrying us in our walk with Him so that we can find His joy and His peace that surpasses our understanding.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for hearing all of our prayers in Your faithfulness.  Thank You for Your compassion that awakens us every morning and redeems us.

Forgive me for all the ways I try to carry and understand my burdens on my own instead of giving them to You in prayer. 

I pray for _____________________(person/situation) who/that needs Your hope and restoration.       

I pray for Your powerful peace to fill all those who are heartbroken, scared to death, bitter, uncertain, and grieving.  Take their pain, Lord, and help them to know the absolute certainty of Your goodness and love.  

Remind us of Your hope, Lord.  You work all things for good and Your glory.  Show us how to lean on Your unfailing promises for our lives.

It is good to be still and wait quietly with You, Lord.  

I lift my hands and my heart to You, my Savior.

In Jesus' name I pray,

In Christ's love,
*This post is part of A Mind Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lamentations 1-2

Jeremiah, the prophet in Judah, is weeping and broken hearted in Lamentations 1-2.

This book of the Bible takes place around 586 B.C. following the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.

God had been calling out to His people for so long through Jeremiah.  Jeremiah has now seen many years of God's words of warning and consequences come true, and now the home and people he loves are gone.  Jeremiah looks around at the devastation that confronts him everywhere he turns.

My eyes fail from weeping,
  I am in torment within...

The LORD has done what he planned;
  he has fulfilled his word,
  which he decreed long ago.

Jeremiah spent so many hard years sharing God's word, believing in God with all his heart, trusting and serving God, and people didn't believe him.  And now, people can see that Jeremiah was indeed truthful and even better, so is God.  

Our God is true to his word.  And in this case, the truth hurts so much.  

But we can't forget, that the truth is also the very thing that sets us free.  God is our truth.

And so in the middle of his pain, I can't help but think that Jeremiah must have felt some sense of confirmation of his deep faith in God.  Because if God is true to his word when it comes to all the suffering, then that also means God will make good on His promise to restore His people and their faith in Him.

That's the good news.

We find the very beginnings of this good news in today's reading...

The hearts of the people 
  cry out to the LORD.

God wants us to turn to Him, in joy and in tears.

Arise, cry out in the night,
  as watches of the night begin;
  pour out your heart like water 
  in the presence of the LORD.
Lift up your hands to him...

Sometimes we have to do exactly what God's people did so long ago.  God calls us to pour our hearts out to Him like water.  We have to be with God and lift up our hands to Him.

Sometimes, that's the only thing we can do in this crazy world.

That is more than enough to renew us, transform us, and fill us with joy that surpasses our understanding and our circumstances.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for knowing our hearts and filling us with Your Holy Spirit.  Thank You for the restoration and joy we find when we turn to you.

Forgive me, Lord, for all the ways I fall short of Your perfect will for my life.  Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, and help me see You in all things.

I especially pour out my heart to You concerning _________________. I lift up my hands to You for ________________________ who needs you today.  I lift up all those who are struggling with the pain of losing a loved one.  In their grief, comfort them and sustain them in Your arms, Lord.

Help us all to fully know that, in Christ, we always have hope.  You are our Rock and our Redeemer.

Guide me, Lord, in the way I should go and in the things You need me to do for You this day.

In Jesus name I pray,

Peace of Christ,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Jeremiah 51-52

In Jeremiah 51-52, we read more about the Lord's future plans to destroy Babylon, and learn more about the details of Judah and Jerusalem's captivity.  Babylon's imperial guard, Nebuchadnezzar (don't try to say that 5x fast), carried 4,600 Jewish people into exile.  The Lord's temple is destroyed, homes are burned to the ground, and all the walls are broken down.  Most horrifying, so many lives are lost.

And moment to moment, devastation is the reality in the world for so many people.

And in the middle of it all, we find these words about our God,

He made the earth by his power;
  he founded the world by his wisdom
  and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.

So through our reading today, I kept wrapping my brain around this truth-
God is still in charge here, people.  And that's a really good thing, something for which we can all be thankful.  

Our God, through all of our circumstances and choices, is a good God who so loves us.  Our job is to remember what God did for us.  We have to remember just how much God loves us...

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
God wants us to learn to rely on His love for us above and beyond anything else in this world.  

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for making us and the places we live by Your power.  Thank You for loving us so much that You have blessed our lives with Jesus each and every day.  

Forgive me for all the ways I forget to rely on Your love above and beyond everything else in this world.

Help me to know Your love, even in the craziness of this world.  Help me to appreciate the glimpses of Your presence and power that are in front of me- ____________________________________, all perfect gifts from above.

I pray for all those who are devastated today.  Fill them, Lord, with Your love and wrap them in Your hope.

I am in awe of You, my Lord and Savior.

In Jesus' name I pray,

In Christ's love,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jeremiah 49-50

Is it just me, or do we seem to be reading in circles as we continue with Jeremiah 49-50?  I feel like I've heard much of this stuff before, and it's just not fun to read.  

God has messages for people all over the place about their lives and their futures.  In today's reading.  He's specifically speaking to people in Ammon, Edom, Damascas, Kedar, Hazor, Elam, Babylon, Israel, and Judah.

Pain and destruction are coming.  And out of human suffering, God promises to restore His people.

I think God must really want us to get it since much of this is repeated news.

But, what do you and I need to get when it comes to where we are right now in our own lives?  What do you think is so important for us to pull from these frustrated and angry words that are so hard to hear?

These words stand out to me today...

"In those days, at that time," 
  declares the LORD,
"the people of Israel and the people of Judah together
  will go in tears to seek the LORD their God.
They will ask the way to Zion
  and turn their faces toward it.
They will come and bind themselves to the LORD
  in an everlasting covenant
  that will not be forgotten."

In these days, and at this time too, we, as God's people are living in this everlasting covenant with our God.  Jesus has transformed our loving relationship with God to be so much more intimate than it was before Christ died for us.  Right now, God lives in us so that He will never again be far from His people.

God wants us to be close to Him, no matter what we go through in life or how broken and lost we may become at times.  

Even if we forget to find God everywhere we go and in everything we do, God doesn't ever forget us.  He keeps calling us by name and works His grace into every facet of our lives.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for all the ways You call us by name and draw us close to You.  Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit that guides us.

Forgive me for all the ways I forget to seek You everywhere I go and in all that I do.  I know I need You and Your help Lord.  

I pray that You will help me bind myself to You, my Lord and Savior.  Guide me to follow You and grow in my faith.

I also pray that You will draw __________________ close to You.

You are our sovereign and everlasting God.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Peace of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jeremiah 46-48

It's another rough day of reading as we go through Jeremiah 46-48.

I feel like we've had lots of tough reading as we've gone through Jeremiah.

God is telling us about all the destruction that is coming to Egypt, the Philistines, and Moab because people have forgotten Him and gone in their own directions.

It really makes me think about how God feels about me.  

God really seems to be angry in so much of these chapters.  This just doesn't match up with how we have come to know God's endless mercy and grace that comes to us now through Jesus. 

So just as I start to worry about making God mad with all of my mess-ups, I remember what Jesus did for me and for You and believers everywhere.  He is our living example of God's great love.

And as I remember Jesus, I also realize that God just wants us to know that good days or bad, He is in charge.  

But that day belongs to the Lord, the LORD Almighty-

And if what we really want is to realize God's goodness, God's enormous love and God's amazing grace in our lives, we have to make a conscious effort to spend our days with Him in mind, letting Him have every part of us.

And I can't help but ask myself how this truth needs to change the way I go through my days. 

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank you for the endless mercy, love, and grace that we know You have for us through Jesus' example.  Thank You for giving us life in Christ, changing who we are for the better.

All of our days belong to You, Lord.  Forgive me for forgetting that at times.  

Help me spend my days with You in mind.  I give myself to You, Lord.  

May everything I do begin with Your inspiration, continue with Your Help, and reach perfection under Your guidance (from

As I pray, unite me with others in Christ for Your great purposes.  Help us to live in Your awesome promises for our lives.  Empower us to love, support, and encourage one another in Your love.

You are our Rock and our Redeemer.

In Jesus' holy name I pray,

Peace of Christ,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.