2 Kings

Nobody’s Perfect

This week’s:

 

The Old Testament is filled with examples of humanity’s complete and utter inability to keep the Law. The Law is perfectly perfect in every way… and WE are not. And because of Jesus, that’s OK. You see, God loves this world so much that He sent a tiny little baby to save it. Isn’t that just about the strangest way imaginable to save humanity? A baby? Really LORD? What can a baby do to help me, to save me?

Ahhhh, but this was no ordinary baby. This baby, conceived with a divinely royal bloodline on all three sides, was born in a manger right beside all the other sacrifices. This baby didn’t come to live, He came so that He could die the most spectacularly amazing death anyone could ever imagine.

In this time of Christmas we celebrate a baby born to die for us… for YOU. The perfect Law was given to show us our sin. The babe from the manger and perfect fulfillment of the Law was given to show us the Love that erases our sin. His loving act of sacrifice erases our sins so completely that according to the promise of Isaiah 54:9, not only is God finished punishing our vast ocean of iniquity and sin, He’s not even angry about them anymore. In the beginning God gave Abraham His word and He fulfilled it and then some. God has done the very same thing for us. He promised us salvation from our sins, and it came in the most perfect Christmas package of a bouncing baby boy wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger – Jesus. This Christmas, I pray that the first present you open is YOUR gift of salvation from a God who’s not angry with you at all. You can unwrap this gift by simply opening up your heart to receive His love for you. To do that, simply say, “yes” to Him.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard; yet God with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26

 

Next week’s :

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That’s What We Call “Faith”


2 Kings 25:1-30 & Lamentations 1:1-26

“How lonely sits the city that was full of people!” Lamentations 1:1

The party is over, the candles have been blown out, the cake has been eaten, the presents all unwrapped and we’re left with nothing but the mess and a sugar high.

I find it no small coincidence that God has things so perfectly planned out for us that the day after the biggest Christian holiday of the year we start reading Lamentations.

The purpose of Lamentations is to produce in the reader a hope that God’s faithfulness toward them would surpass their own towards Him. And that’s what I would like to investigate more closely today; that idea of hoping in an unseen God for seen results. That’s what we call “faith”.

According to Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Did you catch that? The things that we can see today weren’t made with things that can be seen. The entire universe was created by an unseen God who creates seen things, for our pleasure. (Psalm 115:16) Now if that doesn’t create some hope for the hopeless today, I’m not so sure what will.

We all have something out there that we’re hoping for, something that seems far off, and yet is needed in the here and now. But in what are we placing our hope? In that seen thing, or our unseen God? Although He is unseen by our human eyes, He is more real and more permanent than anything that we can see before us today. He is the life-giver. He is the One who holds our hope in Hs palm. He protects it and guards it and cherishes it, because He knows how precious hope can be.

A single shred of hope can get you through some of the darkest moments of life. Just one single drop of hope can lift your spirits enough to help you through the fires of life. My friend, “the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:11) I want you to take a long hard look at that verse. While it doesn’t specify who it is that the LORD loves steadfastly, that is the part that is the most important of all. When you are in a hopeless situation filled with Fear and Doubt, is it more important for you to remember that God is love, or that God loves YOU?

Romans 5:5-8 tells us that “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love FOR [YOU] in that while [you] were still [a] sinner, Christ died for [YOU].”

While still a sinner, Jesus died for YOU. You don’t have to be sinless in order for Jesus to forgive you. And if you think about it, what would the point be then if you were! Often times Satan tries to get us to think that we have to be perfect in order for God to accept us. If that were the truth we’d NEVER make it in! But praise be to God, that a lie straight from the father of lies. The TRUTH is that the LORD is our salvation. Jesus is the price of admission for the poor in spirit. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and EVERYONE can have 24/7 access to the Father through Him! No matter how sinful they are. Now isn’t THAT some good news of great joy that brings hope to the hopeless and faith to the faithless?

What it all boils down to is “Faith, Hope and Love – the greatest of these is Love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Hope doesn’t disappoint (Romans 5:5), a mustard seed of faith can move mountains (Matthew 17:20), and yet Love is greater than both of these. How? Because God is Love (1 John 4:8). Love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) Love conquers all! Love gives justification as a gift, freely given to those who are completely incapable of repaying or returning that gift to its giver.

Psalm 34:4 HCSB) “I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 112:7-8 “He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the LORD. His heart is assured; he will not fear. In the end he will look in triumph on his foes.”

John 12:15 (HCSB) Fear no more, Daughter Zion. Look, your King is coming.”

Proverbs 1:33 (HCSB) But whoever listens to me will live securely and be free from the fear of danger.”

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A Little Child Will Lead Them


2 Kings 22:1-24:20

“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign,” 2 Kings 22:1

I just love how God has timed this all, so that on the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus we’re reading about a child king. And Josiah wasn’t just any king; he was a GOOD king that restored the worship of the LORD among the people of Israel.

In Isaiah 11:5-6 we read of the prophecy of the coming Messiah. “Righteousness shall be the belt of His waist, and His faithfulness the belt of His loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them;”

At this time of year we celebrate the coming of our Messiah. We rejoice in the TRUTH that He didn’t stay on high in His throne room, but that He removed His crown of gold and exchanged it for a crown of thorns. He took off His robe of righteousness and replaced it with a robe of ridicule. And He did that all for YOU. He took everything that was wrong in this world and began the process of setting it all right again, just like Josiah.

In the 1st chapter of the gospel of Matthew we find Joseph having some serious doubts about marrying Mary. He’s just found out that she’s pregnant and he knows this child isn’t his. That night he has a dream where an angel of the Lord appeared to him saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:21-23)

My friends, this is the key to all of Christianity. It lies in that one simple name, Immanuel.

Immanuel = you are not alone.

Immanuel = I love you enough to strip away the entirety of my majesty and become fully human.

Immanuel = you mean more to me than anything else in all of My creation.

Immanuel = YOU mean more than life to Me!

Immanuel = God is WITH us through it ALL.

Immanuel = through every storm, every dip, every curve ball life throws at you, I’m HERE to help you.

Immanuel = YOU are not alone! Ever.

In Mark’s story of Jesus calming the sea (4:35-41) we find Jesus and the Disciples getting into the boat and crossing over to the opposite shore after a long day of ministry. So it’s not surprising when Jesus falls asleep. What is surprising to His friends is that He stays asleep amid the tossing waves and roaring winds. They interpret His non-reaction as Him not caring about them. (v. 38) And after He calms the storm He turns to them and says “Why are you so afraid? Have you no faith?” When I heard these words today with fresh perspective I realized more clearly how Jesus must have been feeling when He spoke those words, “I am with you, there is no cause for fear. Don’t you realize that the boat won’t sink with Me in it?”

They had the One who created the sea in the boat with them, the One who parts the sea, walks on water and stands on clouds, they had NOTHING to fear. And neither do we.

We too have that very same One within us at all times, in our boat promising never to forsake us. Fear not, O favored one, the LORD is WITH you always!

Psalm 56:3 (HCSB) “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 (HCSB) “Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”

2 Kings 6:16 (HCSB) “Elisha said, ‘Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.'”

2 Chronicles 20:17 (HCSB) You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you.”

Psalm 23:4 (HCSB) “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff – they comfort me.”

Psalm 34:7 (HCSB) “The Angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”

John 14:27 (HCSB) “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

Isaiah 12:2 (HCSB) “Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the LORD, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 41:10 (HCSB) “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you
with My righteous right hand.” (emphasis mine)

Isaiah 41:13 (HCSB) “For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you; Do not fear, I will help you.”

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Choose LIFE


2 Kings 19:1-21:26

“I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you.” 2 Kings 20:5

Isn’t it good to know that He hears our prayers and sees our tears. I can’t tell you how many gallons of tears I’ve cried out of fear, but God could. He keeps them in a bottle, that’s how precious they are to Him. (Psalm 56:8 ESV) And yet I don’t feel like those tears were for nothing; because they brought me to a new place.

In Deuteronomy 30 we find Moses reviewing the Law, blessings and curses with the people of Israel. He says to them, “the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. … I call heaven and earth as witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,” (verses 14-15 & 19-20)

Today, every day, life and death, blessing and curse, Faith and Fear are set before us to choose. And we must choose one or the other, we can’t have both.

I have been writing now for over 4 years. And in that time my readership has steadily grown. However Satan has continued to try to blind me to this reality. One of my greatest frustrations has been the feeling that “no one is listening to me”. Yet none of that is the Truth, it’s all a lie. A lie I was believing. But my friend Jesus would have none of that! So He had a reader I’ve never met email me, and then another and another. He had old friends and new friends contact me for speaking engagements and book signings. Each time my sinking heart would soar like an eagle. Like Mary I treasure those things in my heart. (Luke 2:19) The mission God created me for is being done. But not without a fight! While Jesus lives to bring us Life; Satan comes only to steal Hope, kill Joy and destroy our Faith in our God who saves. Satan will stop at nothing to snatch those treasured moments from our hearts and replace them with Fear, Disappointment and Doubt. And he does all this with words.

Words have TREMENDOUS power!

In the beginning God spoke this world into existence, and we His beloved children have that very same power living and breathing within us. His word is close to us, it is in our mouths! He surrounds us with it like the guards surrounding the child-king Joash (2 Kings 11). Every day when you take the time to “think about these things” we’re reading you’re storing them up like treasures in your heart as speech – good fruit. Fruit that will fill the belly of your soul with good things. As children of Life we have been given the power of Life and Death through our speech! We have the ability to speak blessing (or curses), Faith (or Fear) into our own lives and the lives of others! When we choose to feed our Faith, through the word of God, Fear will flee!

Jesus gave us His Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us into all Truth. As we read the Bible daily the words of Jesus are being spoken into our lives through our teacher the Holy Spirit. Situations, words, negative people, anything that conflicts with those words are Satan’s lies! Therefore, we must wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, to battle those lies. We must buckle the belt of His Truth and pick up our shield of faith with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Psalm 91:4 tells us that God “will cover us with His pinions, and under His wings we will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

In this verse, whose faithfulness is it that protects you like a shield? Is it your faithfulness to God or is it His faithfulness to you? The answer to this question is absolutely critical to not just the rest of this study, but the rest of your life my friend! This Truth is a life saver and a Faith Feeder so I want you to really sink into this like you sink into your bed at night after a long day.

Your faithfulness to Him is NOT what saves you and shields you from Satan’s ploys against you. Your faithfulness is human, it’s frail and will crumble just like Peter on the night of Jesus’ betrayal. Our faithfulness to Jesus is faulty at its best. BUT, His faithfulness to you will NEVER FAIL.

That’s so sweet on my tongue I’ve just GOT to say it again!

While our faithfulness to Jesus is faulty at its best, His faithfulness to you will NEVER FAIL!!!!!

OK, maybe just one more time.

No matter how faithful you are to Him, at some point you will fail Him, but HE WILL NEVER FAIL YOU!!!!!

Mmmmm! That is good stuff right there!!!!!

Today I challenge you to annihilate Fear, start speaking words of Faith! Feed your Faith with the good fruit of God’s Word of the Day for you today. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and teach you, to lead you into His Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth so help you God! HE IS FAITHFUL and HE WILL DO THIS FOR YOU. He hears and answers you when you call. Jesus is that friend who never hits the “ignore” button when your name pops up on the caller ID. He is speaking to you today through His Holy Spirit about Fear. He is calling you to, like Jehu, annihilate your worst enemy, Fear.

In 2 Kings 6:24-7:2 the people of Samaria have become desperate to the point of cannibalism and as evidenced in the captains statement they’ve lost all hope in God saving them. “If the LORD…”

That word “if” packs quite the punch doesn’t it? In that one tiny word, Doubt is born and starts spreading like wildfire. Over the next few days pay attention to your “if statements”. Are you speaking out of Fear or from a point of Faith? Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, ask the Holy Spirit for His help, He is willing to aid you in this transformation from Fear to Faith.

Psalm 18:20-21 says “From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

Jesus tells us in Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Paul tells us, in Philippians, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (verses 8-9)

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The Holy Spirit Teaches & Guides Our Way


2 Kings 16:1-18:37

“So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the LORD.” 2 Kings 17:28

For the last 4 years God has been training me to stand on stages and be His witness to all the world. And honestly, that was something I was thrilled about and terrified of all at the same time. I mean, I’m just an “un-schooled ordinary” mom from small town Indiana. (See Acts 4:13) Who am I to stand in front of people and tell them what God has taught me?

And yet that is precisely what God has called me to do. So, who am I? I’m the one God called. He called me to teach His word to His people for His purposes so that they would know His love. And yet, because this is what God has called me to do, this is what Satan has made me afraid of doing!

Satan, with his big fancy words filled with empty threats and threads of truth. All woven together to form a web of deception so cunningly that it looks like a wall. BUT! When we take Satan’s word-wall of deception and spread it out under the light of the Son we realize it is nothing more than a web; thin, fragile and meaningless. Satan has no power over us.

Like Sennacherib, in today’s reading, Satan’s words contain threads of truth: “Have any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the King of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of the my hand? Who among the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hands, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? (2 Kings 18:33-35)

Here he is telling the truth. Those other gods couldn’t deliver those lands out of his hands. God explains why later in tomorrow’s reading. “Have you [Sennacherib] not heard that I [the LORD] determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should turn fortified cities into heaps of ruins.” (2 Kings 19:25)

Here’s Sennacherib with all his big words of what he has done and how he conquered all those cities; no HE didn’t! God gave them to him. But not Jerusalem.

You see, Satan comes after us with these threads of truth. And while they are true, they’re not the whole truth. They’re only part of the truth. It’s kind of like that cheap jewelry at the store. It looks like the real thing, but it’s not. And usually after you wear it for a couple days it doesn’t look real anymore either. The same is true with Satan’s lies. At first they look like the real truth. But after you’ve walked in faith, speaking your words of truth for a day or two the fear starts to wear off and the terror starts to dull and the things that looked so frightening aren’t so bad anymore.

Satan tries to lure us into thinking that money can save us from our troubles, or that a new appliance will save us time, or that cute guy will save our hearts from languishing or that that doctor will save our life. Those are lies. Those things, those people they’re false gods, they’re idols of paper and metal, flesh and bone. They’re not real. They’re not lasting. And they can’t help you. But God can!

No.

God DOES!

God knows your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against Him. (2 Kings 19:27) God knows you. He knows the needs of your body and the desires of your heart. He knows you. And He desperately wants for you to know Him more. He wants for you to know how much He loves you. He wants you to know how desperate He is to bless you. He wants to have a relationship where you’re as comfortable talking with Him as with your best friend. He wants you to know that you’re His beloved child, favored and dearly loved. He wants you to know that you can trust Him to save you because He’s GOD and He loves you with an abandon that is simply unmatched in this world. There is nothing in this world that can save you as completely as He can. There is no-one in this world that can love you like He does. There is no amount of money that can bring you peace and happiness the way He can. There is no doctor that can heal you more fully than He can.

Yaweh saves.

Period.

Everything else is a false god.

Psalm 25:9 “He leads the humble in what is right; and teaches the humble His way.”

Exodus 4:12 “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Isaiah 28:26 “For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him.” (or her)

Luke 12:12 “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Psalm 119:68 “You are good and do good; teach me your statuettes.”

John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth”

Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

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If Faith Comes Through Hearing, What is Jesus Saying to Us Today?


2 Kings 13:1-15:38

So for the last month I’ve been posting readings from one of my latest books, Waiting. I do hope that you enjoyed them!!! I dare say I have missed you desperately over this time and I am THRILLED to be back with you again, and just in time for Christmas! Yay!

This month “off” has been crazy and chaotic and feverishly fun, but honestly, I’m very ready to get back at it, so to speak. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated in my mission to teach you the Word of God daily.

This morning God took me to Acts chapter 8 to a story of a Eunuch who served a Queen. He had just been worshiping in the temple at Jerusalem and was on his way back home when Philip came along beside his chariot. Philip overheard the Eunuch reading Isaiah and asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And the Eunuch invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

God brings me back to this passage every once in a while to remind me of my mission. “Faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

In today’s Word of the Day we read about the king of Judah, Amaziah, and the king of Israel, Jehoash. In chapter fourteen Amaziah taunted Jehoash and the word that Jehoash sent back to him basically told him to “back down or else.”

“But Amaziah would not listen.” (2 Kings 14:11)

The consequence of his closed ears was dire and not just for him but for all of Judah as well. As is our consequence for not listening to the Word of God planted deep within us, begging us to choose faith over fear.

Many moons ago, as I was finishing the publishing of Waiting, I felt the LORD calling me to write about that choice we make over and over throughout each day. The choice we make between the route of faith or fear.

Each leads to very different places, yet begins at the same point, the point where our feet currently reside. We are continually faced with this decision in life. Will I choose the path of Faith, or Fear?

Often the paths look contrary to their names. The path of Faith looks wrought with difficulty and uncertainty. Whereas the path of Fear appears to be the easiest and smoothest. Ahhhh, but looks are often quite deceiving aren’t they? It often occurs that when choosing to walk in Faith as we set down the path that looks most ominous we find ourselves suddenly surrounded in hope and light and life. We become transported to an altogether different place than where we began. Most likely because God has lifted us up from where we were and carried us through the hard time we were facing.

Then there’s the choice of Fear. It’s the choice we make because we’re afraid and this path appears to be the way out of that situation that is causing us fear. But we find that when we begin to walk down that seemingly harmless path, it isn’t long before things start to change for the worse. And the path that appeared to be the path of the least resistance becomes the path of the most resistance. And we find ourselves worse off than when we began.

For this next month I will be focusing on choosing Faith and not Fear. And providing scriptures to combat the Enemy in those moments of decision so that you can remember God’s words and say to Satan, “It is written….”

In a few weeks we will be crossing over an invisible line. One second it will be 2013 and the next it will be 2014. Have you ever really sat and thought about that for a moment? Literally one second later and it’s a completely different year. And this is just one instance when this happens. It’s usually the most celebrated of the year, but there are many more that follow it. Take your birthday for example. We generally celebrate it as a “day”, but if you want to be technically precise, it’s a second thing too. One second you’re 33 and the next you’re 34; one little tick on the clock and the label changes. Time marches on, stopping for no one and nothing. Yet life doesn’t. Life has its ebbs and flows. It changes with time and over time. That never ceases to amaze me. How one moment things are this way and then the next they’re different.

It’s all very exciting, and yet at the same time there’s a little bit of trepidation that goes along with it too. There is an inherent fear in the unknown future, the unforeseeable happening and catching us unprepared. Yet time marches on, there is no stopping it because you’re not ready to face that next season, or label. Time marches on, pushing you forward against your will toward the blackness that is the unknown future. “Is there a cliff?” “Will I fall?” “Is it a mountain?” “Will I fail?”

Yet who is it that holds the future? Who is it that has time in His hand? Who is it that knows all and sees all and LOVES YOU?

Jesus.

When we live our lives surrendered to Christ, we can rest assured that no matter what happens and catches us off guard; it has NOT caught Jesus off guard. And He is with us through it all. He never leaves or forsakes us; He never abandons us in our time of need. He is that ever-present help in times of trouble. Look upon the shepherd and his sheep in your nativity set as we march into Christmas and out of this year and hear these words from heaven for you today:

“Little sheep, hear My voice. Fear not, for I am always with you. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world. I am the Good Shepherd, and you shall not want. I make you lie down in green pastures. I lead you beside still waters. I restore your soul. I lead you in paths of righteousness for My names sake. Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil, for I am with you; Let My rod, My staff, be a great comfort to you. I prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies; I anoint your head with oil; and I fill your cup to overflowing. Did you know that My Goodness and Mercy follow you all the days of your life? It is because you are a member of the house of the LORD and you shall dwell there forever!”

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Chariots of Fire


2 Kings 10:1-12:21

“Do not be afraid for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16

Oh this story has got to be one of my all time favorites! The Prophet Elisha’s servant goes out early in the morning to do his daily chores where his eyes are met with a terrifying sight, the entire town surrounded by an enemy army… there for them! I can just see his eyes widening in surprised fear, jaw dropped down to his chest, his breath quickening as he turns on his heels and scrambles back into the house breathless and afraid. He looks up at the prophet of God and asks trembling, “What shall we do?”

And then there’s Elisha, calm as a cucumber, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The servant had to think he was crazy, completely out of his mind. Couldn’t he count, one, two, there were two of them, not an army, just two; a servant and the man of God. But God’s math is a little, no a lot, different than the math of men. We can only count what we can see, and this man wasn’t seeing the whole picture. He was only looking at the natural side of things and had completely missed the supernatural side of the battle. In that moment he had forgotten who he was with. So Elisha prayed, “‘O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 17)

They had no need to fear because God was with them. And here we are today, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us has come and is with us every step of every day in every way and we have no need to fear. Yet we do, I do, all the time, more often than I can count. So often I find myself, eyes wide in fear, crying out to God “What shall I do?” and He opens my eyes (sometimes) to the angel armies surrounding me and my situation prepared to fight the Enemy to the death just for me. Then other times He doesn’t open my eyes, but rather my heart, to see the Truth that even if I can’t feel them or see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. Just because it doesn’t feel like God is with me, doesn’t mean He isn’t there holding my hand and squeezing my heart. Just because I can’t see the chariots of fire, doesn’t mean that my deliverance hasn’t come. Just because I can’t feel Him, see Him or touch Him doesn’t mean He’s not real and that He’s not there.

Just like I can look out my window and see the leaves blowing around in my yard and know that the wind is blowing without feeling it on my skin. I can look into the Word of God and see how God loves me and know that His Spirit is working on my behalf for my good; even if it doesn’t feel good to me at the time. I can know with confidence that He is good and true and faithful and just and He is acting on my behalf, no matter what my eyes are seeing. So I will choose not to be afraid. I will choose to believe in faith that there really are more with me than those who are against me. And I will believe those things sight unseen because God’s word tells me they are Truth and I want to stand in agreement with Him all the days of my life.

 

This reading has been an excerpt from Tamar’s book Waiting…, if you would like to read more it is available HERE in multiple formats.

Categories: 2 Kings, 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | 3 Comments

Healed

Click here for this week’s video: “Waiting for the I Wills”

Week 4 Video Guide

“for they shall hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm,” 1 Kings 8:42

The 7 I Wills in Exodus 6:1-9

I will ______ you out from ______ the _________ of the _________.

I will ______ you from ______to them.

I will ______ you with an ______ arm & with great acts of _______.

I will ______ you to be My _________.

I will be your _____,

I will ______ you into the ______ that I______ to give to Abraham, to
Isaac, and to Jacob.

I will ______ it to you for a ______, I am the LORD.

The 9 I Wills in Ezekiel 20:33-38

I will be ______ over you.

I will ______ you out from the peoples & ______ you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a ______ hand & an ______ arm, & with ______ poured out.

I will ______ you into the wilderness of the peoples, & there

I will ______ into ______ with you ______ to ______.

I will ______ into ______ with you, declares the Lord GOD.

I will ______ you pass under the ______ and

I will ______ you into the ______ of the ______.

I will ______ out the rebels [sin] from among you, and those who transgress against me.

I will ______ them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

Romans 7:1-4

Or do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to those who know the law – that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a ______ ______ is bound
by ______ to her ______ while he lives, but if her husband ______ she is ______ from the ______ of ______. Accordingly, she will be called an ______ if she ______ with another ______ while her husband is ______. But if her husband ______, she is ______ from that ______, and if she ______ another ______ she is ______ and adulteress. Likewise my brothers, you also have ______ to the ______ through the ______ of ______, so
that you may ______ to another, to ______ who has been raised from the ______, in order that ______ may bear fruit for God.

Galatians 3:10-12

For all who rely on ______ of the ______ are under a ______; for it is
written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by ______ things written in the Book of the Law, and ______ them.” Now it is evident that ______ ______ is ______ before God by the ______, for “The righteous shall live by ______,” But the ______ is not of ______, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

Galatians 4:1-7

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a ______, is no different from a ______, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under ______ and managers until the date set by his ______. In the ______ ______we also, when we were children, were ______ to the elementary ______ of the world. But when the ______ of ______ had come, God sent forth His ______, born of ______, born under the ______, to ______ those who were under the ______, so that we might receive ______ as ______. And because ______ ______ sons, God has sent the ______ of His Son into our ______, crying, “______,______!” So you are ______ ______ a ______, but a ______, and if a son, then an ______ through God.

Luke 15:11-24 the story of the Prodigal son

“While the son is a long way off” just tells us that the entire time the Father was there w______ for the son to c______ b______.

God was w______ for us to figure out “I need a S______, I need someone to h______ m__, to pull me out of this place where I’ve put myself.

As soon as He s______ us, He comes r______ with o______ a______ ready to e______ us.

Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:33, John 19:18

With His arms outstretched, they C______ H______.

Galatians 3:13-14

Christ r______ us from the c______ of the l___ by b______ a curse for ___ – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” – so that ____ C______ J______
the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that ___ might receive the promised Spirit through ______.

Hebrews 9:11-28

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of g______ and b______ and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of C______, who through the eternal Spirit offered H______ without blemish to God purify our c______ from dead works to serve the l______ God. 15 Therefore He is the mediator of a n___ covenant, so that those who are called may r______ the promised eternal inheritance, since a d______ has occurred that r______ them from the t______ committed under the f______ covenant.

I will deliver you from slavery to the l____,

I will bring you out from under the burdens of the L___.

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment on J______.

I will take you to be my people, and

I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the L___.

I will bring you into the land of rest that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,

I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.

Hebrews 9:16 For where a w______ is involved, the d______ of the one who m______ it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect o______ at d______, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.

22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with b______, and without the shedding of b______ there is no f______ of sins.

26 … But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to p____ a______ s___ by the sacrifice of H______. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to s______ those who are eagerly w______ for Him.

Psalm 136

H___ s______ l____ e______ f______! Praise be to God alone!

2 Kings 8:1-9:37

“from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word Elisha spoke. 2 Kings 2:21-22

I have to tell you no sweeter words could I have read today. The leap of my spirit when my eyes fell on the word “miscarriage” was physically noticeable. In the last few weeks I have felt surrounded by infant death! Two miscarriages (one at only five weeks and the other at 7 months), a cousin’s daughter born with intestine problems fighting for her life, another relative through marriage trying to adopt and hitting dead ends… it’s just been too much. I mean, its one thing to be surrounded by death, but the death of infants, well it just seems so wrong.

Yet God is Sovereign and just and wise and I know that He knows best, even when it doesn’t feel good.

So today as I was just getting started in my reading I got a text that the relative through marriage was on a plane home with her “officially theirs” baby! We were so excited to hear that her waiting and dead ends were over! Hooray! But then a column of reading later there it is! The Word of the Lord that Elisha spoke, “from now on neither death nor miscarriage”! I believe that not only was that a word for them then, but that it’s a word for me and my friends and family now! Why else would God have paired it with a PERFECTLY timed text like that? That news of great joy could have come at any time but God wanted me to receive it WHILE I was reading; which (I might add) was at a much later time of day than normal… coincidence I think not!

Yes. While there may be naysayers out there who would chalk it all up to coincidence, I refuse to do so. My God has perfect timing and He knows how to use it. He really is an awesome God!

121013_2100_IvoryHouses2.jpg This reading has been an excerpt from Tamar’s book Waiting…, if you would like to read more it is available HERE in multiple formats.

Categories: 2 Kings, 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Leave a comment

Ivory Houses


2 Kings 5:1-7:20

“ivory houses” 1 Kings 22:39

Yesterday the world was bleak and gray; all the colors were muted by the death-like hibernation of winter. To peer through my window brought little joy to my eyes. Yet, since my photo of the frozen fence last week I’ve really wanted to go out on a photo journey…but why?

Then it snowed last night and I am absolutely transfixed by the transformation God has made in just one night.

Today the world is glorious, blanketed in thick pure white snow. The branches of the trees bend under the weight of it, yet they still stand firm and tall, majestic under the new robes of beauty they’ve been given to adorn them briefly. The drone of my neighbor’s lawn tractor pushing a snowblade fills my ears with more proof of the presence of beauty outside my window. That and the sound of the TV playing cartoons in the other room to occupy my children since school was canceled due to the amount of the snow. There will be ivory houses built today alongside ivory men. There will be ivory balls thrown at backs resulting in giggles and squeals of laughter. We will draw feet through those perfect blankets of snow, marring their perfect faces creating proof of a family having played together. We will celebrate this day with mugs of hot cocoa, curling their steamy tendrils around cherry red noses and smiling cheeks and eyes.

You know, I think one of the most awesome things about this project is how the Bible can work its way into every day of our lives. I tried writing about the theology in this reading, the beauty of Naboth’s vineyard and Jesus being the vine and we the branches. How the vineyard was his inheritance as it is ours. I tried writing about Maichah and speaking for the LORD, and how “This God – His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 18:30) Yet I couldn’t really connect with those things today, as much as my brain wanted to. No, today the still small voice within me resounded at the beauty of “ivory houses”. Two tiny words, so seemingly insignificant in comparison to all the rest we read today… but they described how I felt. They related to what I’m seeing, what I’m planning for this day with my kids. While I gleaned so much intellectually from today’s reading, spiritually, “ivory houses” meant the most to me. It may seem silly to you, but I know that, as the LORD lives, what the Spirit says to me, that I will speak and write. And today it’s snow forts and ivory houses. J

Thank You Jesus for Snow Days!

 

This reading has been an excerpt from Tamar’s book Waiting…, if you would like to read more it is available HERE in multiple formats.

Categories: 2 Kings, 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Leave a comment

You Shall Know


2 Kings 2:1-4:44

“If the LORD is God,” 1 Kings 18:21

Boy, our reading today starts off with a BANG! I have always loved this story, but I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed this flavor running through it before. This flavor of God proving Himself to His people:

“Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” 1 Kings 20:13

“I will give this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” 1 Kings 20:28

And even in the end of yesterday’s reading, “Now I know that you are a man of god, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.” 1 Kings 17:24

Well, today’s reading starts off with Elijah confronting the people of Israel with their idolatry and unbelief.

“How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word.” 1 Kings 18:21

It’s such a simple straightforward statement that makes so much sense. We’ll set up two sacrifices and whichever god accepts them is God. Whoever proves himself to be a god is our God. Simple. And then for HOURS the prophets of Baal try to rouse his fire with zero results. Then its Elijah’s turn; he re-builds the altar with twelve stones and he douses the sacrifice with twelve jars of water, one for each tribe.

Have you ever questioned if God is really there, is He really listening to me, does He really care about me? How can we know for certain? You’re not alone!

Abraham questioned God:

“O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” Genesis 15:8

Gideon questioned Him:

“If now I have found favor in Your eyes, then show me a sign that it is You who speaks with me.” Judges 6:17

And then again in Judges 6:36-40:

“Then Gideon said to God, ‘If You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said [if You will do what You’ve told me You would do], behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.’ And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl of water. Then Gideon said to God, ‘Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.’ And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.”

So here we have Elijah before all the people of Israel who have been worshiping Baal and Elijah calls out to God, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel [in case there was any confusion of who he was talking about], let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back.” 1 Kings 18:36-37

This prayer, I must admit, is the prayer of my heart today. “Lord, prove not only that You are God, but that I am Yours. Prove to these people around me and reading this that I am from You and that I don’t just write these things out of my own volition… prove it to me, Lord. I am Yours. Answer my many prayers that have been spoken in faith that You are God, that You do save and that You do heal. Help me to wait in faith that You have heard, that You will save and that You will heal. Help me to discipline my mind to believe Your word over what my eyes see around me and my ears hear! Help me to be like Elijah who didn’t let six reports of clear skies stop him from believing You were bringing the rain. You were with him and You are equally with me. Lord I believe, help me with my unbelief!

Lord, You taught me today that unbelief only comes out through fasting and prayer. You also taught me that like the Samaritan woman at the well, when You call me to ‘give You a drink’ it is because I should really be asking You for one. Thank You for pointing me in the direction of You, the Living Water, flowing in and through me. Lord, I thank You that You don’t ask anything of us, that You Yourself are not prepared to do for us! You don’t tell us to jump without lifting us over the hurdle as we go…when we ask.

Lord, we’re asking today for the supernatural supply we need to fulfill our callings. We are asking You Lord to lift us over this mountain staring us in the face. You are God, not if You are, You ARE God. You are MY God. My God in whom I trust. I trust You to be the Good Shepherd You say You are. I trust You to be the good Father You say You are. And I trust You to be the good Provider You say You are. Simply because You have proven Yourself trustworthy to me. You have proven Yourself faithful to me, time and time again. Help me to believe Your truth when everything around me lies. Help me to cling to the truth of Your word as the Enemy is doing everything in his power to wrench it from my hands. Father God, protect us from the wolves in sheep’s clothing, from the prophet’s who lie and tell us they’re from You when they’re not! Help us to discern who is truly from You and who is not. Jesus help us! We need You NOW! We need You HERE, with us in the midst of this storm. Please reach out Your voice and say ‘Peace; Be Still!’ Calm the turmoil in our souls! Cling to us when we have no strength left to cling to You. Lord, I know You do all these things anyway, but Your word says we have not because we ask not, so we’re asking, just in case!

Lord, thank You for being with us, for hearing and for answering our prayers. Give us strength as we wait upon You!

This reading has been an excerpt from Tamar’s book Waiting…, if you would like to read more it is available HERE in multiple formats.

Categories: 2 Kings, 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | 2 Comments

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