Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Zechariah 11-14

Zechariah 11-14 is full of complicated, symbolic visions of the future.  Like I said before, I don't always get full understanding of what I read in the Bible, but that never stops God from speaking to my heart.  So, I keep reading and learning.  Today, I keep thinking about God's sovereignty in the world.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Zechariah 4-10

Today is one of those days.  My body and my brain are exhausted from my week.  Do you ever feel that way?  Zechariah 4-10 is symbolism overload for me this morning.  In my post, Life Changing Words, I mentioned how I don't always get everything I read in the Bible right away.  Well, this is one of those times.  But I think it's important to point out, it is okay that there's stuff I don't get.  Life in faith is like that too.  We experience things we don't understand, but that does not mean God is not with us or that we are somehow not capable enough for God.  We just have to hang on to what we know to be true in trust.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Haggai 1-2 & Zechariah 1-3

Priorities.  That is what comes to mind this morning as I read Haggai and Zechariah.  These two prophets deal with the same topic.  God wants His exiled people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild His Holy temple.  Seems like common sense, right?  As Christians we all say God is a priority.  The problem is, God's people are so busy with their own houses, they are neglecting God's House.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Habakkuk and Zephaniah

Today, I read Habakkuk and Zephaniah, two more of God's chosen prophets, speaking to God's chosen people.  These two men may have been living before Christ, but they are speaking to me loud and clear.  And even though they point out the wrong in the world around them, it is not unlike our world today.  I have felt just like Habakkuk at times,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Micah 6-7, Nahum

I finish up Micah this morning and also read the book of Nahum in full.  Both Micah and Nahum are prophets.  It's the same sort of story we've heard before, warnings of bad things to come if people do not turn from their sins and turn to God.  Just FYI, after doing some research, I realized that Nahum is like a "take 2" version of Jonah that I read a few days ago.  He is speaking to Nineveh.  Apparently, God's people in Nineveh repented to God after being inspired by Jonah, and then drifted back into their old sinful patterns many years later, so in comes Nahum the prophet.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Micah 1-5

Micah is another one of God's messengers.  It's one of those don't kill the messenger kind of messages for the people of Samaria and Jerusalem.  Micah has to tell the people what they do not want to hear.  The Lord is coming to bring disaster to His people so that they will turn to Him instead of their own ways.  As always, God promises to rescue His people in trouble.

“I will surely gather all of you, Jacob;
    I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them together like sheep in a pen,
    like a flock in its pasture;
    the place will throng with people.
The One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
    they will break through the gate and go out.
Their King will pass through before them,
    the Lord at their head.”

The scripture I highlighted this morning just reminds me that our troubles are not without purpose, God's purpose.  Many times God is able to use our troubles to "bring us together" where He needs us.  And in our troubles, God assures us He will be there with us, "opening the way" before us when we use our freedom to follow Him.  That's the comfort I needed this morning.  How about you?

A prayer for today-
Dear Sovereign Lord,

Thank you for being with me in my times of trouble.  Thank you for comforting me with Your presence and guidance.  Even though what lies ahead is unknown to me, it is not unknown to You.  You are already working it for good and holding my hand on Your way.  Help me share Your comfort with others.

You are my Rock and my Redeemer, my Savior.

In the name of Jesus I pray

Peace of Christ,

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Obadiah, Jonah 1-4

Today's readings take me through the books of two more prophets in the Bible, Obadiah and Jonah.  Jonah is the one I want to focus on today.  This is one of those classic Bible stories for sharing with our kids.  It is such a wonderful, fun, simple illustration with many powerful messages, perfect for all ages.  There are times in my life when I have a "whale of a decision to make," no matter how old I get.  Just like God calls on Jonah, He calls on us to do things for Him, and we sometimes have tough choices to make because of that.  God knows best, and we cannot run from Him.  That never works out.  Not only does that hurt us, we can hurt others unintentionally.   And the hardest part is, God's choices for our lives don't always make sense to us in the moment.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Amos 5-9

Reading Amos 5-9 today, was one of those hair raising kind of experiences.  God is just flat out fed up and disgusted with His people and their sins against Him.  He shows Amos some really horrible stuff that will bring total destruction, sparing no one.  That is scary to me, and I have a hard time reading Bible passages like that.  Why?  Because I am not sure what to do with them.  They are the verses that bring the fear of God into my here and now.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Amos 1-4

Moving right along in the Bible today brings us to the book of Amos (1-4).  I am drawn to what Amos has to say because he is just a regular guy, a shepherd, sharing God's word.  Like the other prophets, Amos is trying to get the attention of God's people who are so caught up in their ways, they don't realize how far they have drifted from God.  I am definitely seeing a pattern here.  How about you?  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Joel 1-3

Joel is another prophet from the Old Testament.  As I was reading today, the thing that kept jumping out at me was the power of turning to God when my ways are not His ways.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hosea 8-14

Today we finish Hosea.  One thing that stuck out to me was the many names for God in
these verses.  He is called "your helper," "Lord," "Lord God Almighty," "Holy One'", "God Most High," and "Savior."  God truly is our EVERYTHING!  That is awesome.  Sometimes the hardest part is waiting for Him to do His most perfect, powerful, wonderful thing in our lives... Read more from Hosea 8-14.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Daniel 10-12

As we finish up the book of Daniel, Daniel keeps having these divine interactions with God (Daniel 10-12).  And the more we read the Bible, we realize that God finds ways to interact with all of us.  

Daniel is this really faithful guy.  And yet, in God's interactions with Daniel, Daniel is left speechless and humbled.  He's nervous, afraid, heavy hearted even.  It's so much to take in.  

I have seen myself in Daniel's shoes as he says,

"'How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord?  My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.'

Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.
  'Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,' he said.
  'Peace! Be strong now; be strong.'

When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said,
  'Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.'"

I think about this interaction, I know that all of us can have very personal and direct interactions with God, interactions where we get glimpses of His realness and His power.

But what if you are one of those people reading, and you can't name a specific and direct time in which you experienced God's presence?  What does that mean?

First, let me assure you- that doesn't mean God is not with you.  

It happens to all of us from time to time.  We don't feel as connected to God.  

And I think those times when we can't feel and hear God, it's more about us needing to make more room for Him in our lives in this hyperdigital, noisy world ..whatever that means.

We have to remind ourselves that God loves us as we are.  It's by his grace we find life.  God is here, with you, right now.  Because the thing we know in our faith is that with Jesus in the picture, God is with each of us when we believe in Him.  

And the reason I can say that with certainty is because I haven't always been where I am today in my faith.  There was a time in my life when I believed in God, but I am not sure I could have named specific divine interactions happening.  Although I believed, I didn't really pursue God and my faith with intention on a regular basis.

And so to continue the conversation about Daniel's divine interaction, we see that even though it's a bit overwhelming, maybe even a little scary at times, Daniel finds instantaneous strength from it.  When we dare to look for God and find His voice in our lives, when we pursue Him, when we are willing to pray to Him, like Daniel, we too find ourselves humbled yet stronger, stronger with an inner strength we didn't know we had.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for speaking to me in real ways, here and now.  

Forgive me for all the ways I do not notice Your presence and Your voice in my life.  

Come to me, Lord, and open my eyes, ears, and my heart.  Help me to hear Your voice, Your direction, and Your assurance as I go through my days.  And as I look for You God, fill me with Your strength and Your peace.

I also pray for _________________.  Please, Lord, bless _______________ with your strength and peace also.  Help _____________ to know You are near.

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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Everyday Reading Project: Week of September 14-20

I would love for you to jump in and join me in reading!  For more on this Everyday Reading Project click here.

Daniel 7-9

Daniel 7-9 is all about Daniel's visions and a powerful prayer.  

From the get-go, it's obvious that these visions Daniel has are far from ordinary.  I'll just go ahead and be honest, I don't completely understand the intricate details of the visions myself.  But, it's obvious that God is involved and speaking to Daniel again and again, and that divine interaction is awesome.

And as I read through the Bible it's more and more obvious that we too have divine interactions with God in our own lives.  That is so fascinating and amazing to me.  I am so thankful to be a part of a God who is here in every moment.

We've been talking about Daniel's strong faith, and all the ways God blesses Daniel.

And today I noticed another important "something" Daniel does to keep himself grounded in his faith.  Maybe you noticed it too?

Daniel reads and knows God's word.  This is revealed to us as he tells us about his prayer and plea for God's people who have been exiled to Babylon (for 70 years).

Notice Daniel says,

"...I, Daniel understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.  So I turned to the LORD God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
  I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed...

Give ear, our God, and hear;
  open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.
  We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of 
  your great mercy.
Lord, listen!  Lord, forgive!  Lord, hear and act.  
  For your sake, my god, do not delay,
  because your city and your people bear your name."

We have seen that Daniel has this life-giving relationship with God.  And I think Daniel's prayer reveals the heart of it. 

God's word is woven into his heart and his prayers, making his prayers really powerful.  

As we are about to wrap up a year of reading the Bible and blogging about it along the way, I have a question that comes up in today's reading.  And that is, how closely is scripture connect to your faith?  What role does it play in our faith?  

Is there a difference in how it should be and how it is?  If so, why?

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for Your Living Word, and for using people who are willing to believe in You and follow You for extraordinary purposes.  

I am so grateful for all the ways You are with me, speaking into my life and in the lives of those around me with Your transforming love.

Forgive me for all the ways I waste my time and resources on meaningless efforts.  Give me Your focus, Lord.

As I read Your Word, Lord, strengthen my prayers, and fill me with Your direction.  Help me to know Your voice and Your will.  Equip and empower me to share Your love in the world and do Your great works.  Show me how to make a life-giving difference in peoples' lives.  

You are my Rock and my Redeemer, forever.

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, September 13, 2014

Daniel 4-6

Daniel keeps showing us what it looks like to live faithfully with God at work in our lives (Daniel 4-6).  It's definitely not easy, but it is truly full of blessings beyond anything we could ever produce through our own efforts.  

Even though Daniel cannot tangibly see God working or predict how He will work in all the circumstances he faces, I sense that Daniel has an absolute certainty about God being with Him.  Do you?

I love reading the story about how Daniel faces the lion's den.  Clearly, this is one of those situations where the odds don't look good.  But, nothing is going to keep Daniel from praying to the God who gives him life.

"And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted God."

God is able to use Daniel to inspire others with his faith.  Trust is important.  Prayer is important.  And people can see that God is REAL through Daniel's trustful and prayerful choices.

Just look at the decree issued by the foreign king in today's reading after Daniel survives the whole lion ordeal.  It's a huge realization...

"For he is the living God
  and he endures forever;
  his kingdom will not be destroyed,
  his dominion will never end.
He rescues and he saves;
  he performs signs and wonders
  in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel 
  from the power of the lions."

Faith is contagious, even life-changing.  

And Daniel reminds me how transforming it is to serve God in my work, no matter what I do, no matter where I do it.  

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for all Your faithful servants, especially David, who show us what it looks like to devote our lives to You.  

Help me to be bold and steadfast in my devotion to You.  Help me to inspire others in my faith.  

And as I face life's challenges and celebrations, I give you thanks for all the ways You are with me working wonders.

I pray for ________________ who needs to feel Your presence at work in this life.  Wrap ______________ in your arms and fill ________________ with the certainty of Your everlasting love.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Love and peace of Christ,

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Daniel 1-3

Today we meet Daniel.  He's a young guy from the "royal family" in Jerusalem who is exiled to Babylon (605-538 BC), trained in Babylonian language and literature for three years, and then he's brought into the king's service.

Daniel's faith in God is an inspiration.  His faith carries him through his circumstances.  And God reveals His power and sovereignty through Daniel.  

It's not that Daniel's life is easy.  In fact, Daniel and his faithful friends are tested over and over again as they face some very challenging situations in a foreign land.  Yet, Daniel shows us how God really is with us, working in our lives even when things are not how we'd want them to be.  Our responses to our circumstances are crucial to being faithful.

So, let's just see what faithfulness really looks like in Daniel 1-3.
  • Daniel and his friends do not eat the royal food and wine from the Babylonian king.  In this way, they are daring to be different than the culture and peer pressure that surrounds them.  David seems to see the world through the lens of his faith.  The key here is that David is "resolved" or determined in his faith, and God is able to bless Daniel (and his friends) and use those blessings for His glory.
"But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine...
Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel"

To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
Daniel 1:17
  • In another test of faith, all the wise men in Babylon are about to be killed, innocent lives lost, because no one is able to interpret the king's dream.  Even though Daniel has no idea what the dream is, Daniel realizes that one of his gifts is understanding visions and dreams.  And more importantly, Daniel knows that this gift/talent is from God.  So, he takes a leap of faith in order to to save lives.  Daniel prays with his friends before he acts, and He is sure to give thanks to God.
"He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.  During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.  Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said,
  'Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever: wisdom and power are His.'"
  • And the third test we read about today comes when Daniel's faithful friends are thrown in a blazing furnace because they refused to worship the  Babylonian king's image of gold.  They serve God above all else, and God protects them, rescues them, and shows His power beyond a shadow of a doubt.  As these faithful Jewish men who are thrown into the fire and forced to face the heat seem to beat the odds and live, people can't help but notice God.  He gets all the glory.
"Then Nebuchadnezzar [the Babylonian king] said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who has sent his angel and rescued his servants.  They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their God.  Therefore, I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.'  

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon."

Today's reading reminds me that we are blessed when we choose to be faithful to our faithful God.  God blesses us with resources and gifts, and powerful things happen when we use them for God.  Daniel's faith helps others know who God is and how He works in the world.

I think what Daniel shows us is that it's those times in life when we are most inadequate and least equipped, when our circumstances seem most "imperfect and uncomfortable," that we are most likely to realize the fullness of God's transforming, graceful love.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

I thank You for all the resources and gifts You bring to my life.  I thank You for my circumstances because I know You work all things for good and Your glory.

Help me to stand firm in my faith like Your servant, Daniel.    Strengthen my resolve, and guide my heart, my prayers, and my actions.  And as others see me, may they see Christ in all that I do.  Give me the eyes, Lord, to see Christ in others. 

I pray today about _____________________.  Reveal Your will, and fill the situation and the people involved with Your transforming presence and blessings.

All wisdom and power belong to You, Lord.

In Jesus name I pray,

Grace and peace,

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ezekiel 45-48

We finish up the book of Ezekiel as we read chapters 45-48 today.  

God is sharing more about His plans for restoration.  He's giving Ezekiel the glorious details of His reconciling love story that is going to unfold for Israel as He brings them back from exile.  It's been a long, hard time but good is coming from it.

I am amazed at just how many details God gives Ezekiel.  Aren't you?  I mean, I  usually need to see things to get a good picture, but from the sounds of it, God isn't leaving anything up in the air.

I am filled with hope because God is the same today.  He has awesome plans of restoration and reconciling love for all of us who will believe in Him.  

God ends the book of Ezekiel by changing the name of His holy city to,

"The Lord Is There"

And through Christ, wherever we are, the Lord is always here with us. If we believe in Him, how does that shape the way we go about our days?  How does that truth transform who we are?

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for being with me right now and always.  Thank You for your reconciling love that is at work in the world.

Lord, help me to live each moment with You in my heart.  Use me to be an agent of Your grace and transformation.  

I pray you will pour out your blessings upon ___________ today.  Only You know best what ______________ needs.  Hold, comfort, and restore ___________________.

In Jesus' holy name,


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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ezekiel 41-44

God continues giving Ezekiel the prophet all the details related to the future holy temple for His people (Ezekiel 41-44).  The temple seems to be a major part of God's plans for restoration. 

God really wants people to know and remember that He is holy.

He wants His people to look carefully, listen closely and give Him attention.

Before Christ there was necessary separation between God and His people.  And today reading through all the regulations and instructions God offers, I am so thankful for what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross.

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?"

I read this today,

"and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east.  His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory."

And, I am reminded that the God of Israel in this scripture is our God, and He gives us glimpses of His glory too.  Ezekiel's not the only one.

My mind immediately takes me to the beach, sitting in the sand and listening to the crashing waves.

How about you?  What comes to mind as you read today?

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

I thank You for being with me.  I thank You for showing me Your glory.

Forgive for all the ways I fail to reflect Your pure love to others.  Help me to love like You do, without holding back.

I pray for all those who need Your healing touch today.

You are my Rock and my Redeemer.

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.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ezekiel 38-40

God shares more of His future plans for His people in Ezekiel 38-40.  God's plans are detailed and focus on restoration.

Ahhh, this is the merciful and loving God we come to know through Jesus in the New Testament.  He promises to take care of the shame and unfaithfulness that is a direct result of sin in the world.  Yes!  God knows exactly what we need.

And as Ezekiel continues faithfully listening to God's direction in His life, we can't help but admire His unwavering devotion to God.  

I love how God is able to communicate so definitely with Ezekiel.  

I want to highlight one such case when God shows Ezekiel the restored temple area in Jerusalem...

"In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city- on that very day the hand of the LORD was on me and he took me there."

This communication with God is interesting to me for lots of reasons.  
  • One, remember, Ezekiel is still in exile in Babylon.  So God is giving Ezekiel this "vision" of something that hasn't happened yet and that is beyond his current circumstances, which have been so hard and trying.
  • Two, Ezekiel knows that God is with him (his hand is on him).
  • And three, God takes Ezekiel where He needs him.
This communication between Ezekiel and God is so intriguing to me because I know that God communicates with us too.  

And I really love to think about that. I don't know about you, but it's so comforting to me to think about the fact that my sovereign Lord has His hand in my life and in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

And as I think more and read more about Ezekiel's vision, I think about the power of our imagination and our dreams when we combine them with God's will for our lives.  That's how God transforms lives and uses people like you and me to do extraordinary things for His kingdom.  

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for making Your presence known to me.  Thank You for all the ways You communicate with me.

Forgive me for all the ways I miss Your direction.

I pray that You will have Your hand on my life, always.  Help me to align my imagination, my dreams, my passions, and my resources with Your will.  I want to transform lives for You.

I also pray that You will hold ___________________ in Your arms so that ______________________ will know You, love You, and be strengthened and healed by You.

In Jesus' holy name 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.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Everyday Reading Project: Week of September 7-13

I would love for you to jump in and join me in reading!  For more on this Everyday Reading Project click here.

Ezekiel 35-37

After lots of bad news, Ezekiel 35-37 is a much need breath of God's restoring fresh air.

God tells us today, through Ezekiel the prophet, that He is concerned for His people and He looks on them (and us) with favor (Ezekiel 36:9).  God promises restoration for His people.

Do you know what the best part is, at least for me, in the reading today?

God's promises are not dependent on our abilities, they are dependent on God's power, God's mercy, and God's grace.

God doesn't leave us to figure out how to "earn" and "get" what He promises.  He is the one who works in us and through us, empowering us and transforming us.  We don't do the true transformation, God does.

He says,
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
  I will remove from you your heart of stone 
  and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow...

If you're like me, wanting (and trying so hard) to "do good" and to "be good" for God, but realizing your undeniable humanness, this passage from scripture is a relief and a huge help.

I get in the way of myself sometimes.  That's the bottom line.

But God, is reminding us today that the new life He promises us in Christ is not something we can manufacture through OUR doings nor is it temporary.  And as God speaks to Ezekiel and shows him the "valley of dry bones" coming to life, God reveals what He does for us as believers...

"I will put my Spirit in you and you will live,
  and I will settle you in your own land.
Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it,"
  declares the LORD.

God is our ever-present help because His very Spirit is living in us.  Our faith doesn't come from us, it is a gift from God.

Faith is a journey.  Wherever we are, we can believe God meets us there when we look for Him.  It sounds simple, and in some ways it is.  It's also an amazingly intricate miracle!

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that is in me.  Thank You for blessing me with a new heart and new life in Christ.

Forgive me for not recognizing all the ways You are at work in me and in others, through me and through others, and around me and around others.

Lord, I pray You will help me to see Christ in every person I meet, and help others see Christ in me.

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.