Monthly Archives: September 2013

September 23

Psalms 146, 147; Nehemiah 7:73-9:37

Are we so different from the ancient Jews? Isn’t it true that when things are going well for us, our families are well, our jobs are good, when we are healthy and able to pay the bills, we tend to drift away from God? But at the first sign of trouble we hit our knees and go to him for help. It’s not that we don’t love him. It’s that we must think we need him less in good times.

Did you read Nehemiah 9:27&28 today and feel a twinge of guilt as you recognized yourself in Israel’s experience? Remembering the disobedience of their forefathers they prayed:

So you handed them over to their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies. But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.

Time after time.

And that’s been my experience. No matter how many times I return to the Lord after drifting away or after blatantly disobeying him, he delivers me. When I confess my sin, he is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness… time after time.

Oh that I would learn to choose obedience every day, no matter how comfortable my life becomes. Oh that I would love him like he deserves to be loved every day, in good times and in bad.

Father, I thank you for grace. I thank you for your faithfulness, your forgiveness, your great love. Forgive me when I drift, when I disobey, when I become so comfortable I neglect my relationship with you. May I cherish my relationship with you and nourish it every day by reading your Word and praying. May you find me faithfully serving you today regardless of life’s circumstances. And once again I want to thank you for forgiving me when I ask you to… time after time.

September 22

Psalms 121, 122, 123, 128, 130, 134, 135, 136

These psalms remind us how good God is. They are psalms of praise to the One True God, maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 136 reminds us “His love endures forever”. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. 

But his love doesn’t cancel out his holiness.

Sometimes I think we in 2013 mistake God’s love for his forgiveness, his acceptance. Psalm 130:4 says:

But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.

It doesn’t say with you there is forgiveness, therefore I can live like I want to and you are ok with it because you love me so much. Not only do these psalms speak of God’s blessings, they also remind us God is to be feared.

123:2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hands of their masters…

128:1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.

1135:20 You who fear him, praise the Lord.

Do you fear the Lord? If you really did you might not have said what you said yesterday. You might not have gone where you did or laughed at what you laughed at. You might not think those impure thoughts or harbor hatred toward someone.

Do you fear the Lord? What does that look like in your life? God loved you so much he died for you to pay the penalty for the sins you commit. It’s because of him you can stand before him, wearing his righteousness, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. 

Are you afraid to dishonor him, to disappoint him? Do you recognize his holiness and fall on your knees before him? God loves you. God so loved the world. But don’t mistake his love for permission. Blessed are those who fear him, who obey him, who serve him.

Holy God, may we view sin as seriously as you do. May we recognize your holiness and tremble at the thought of disobeying you. Thank you for your great love that sent Jesus to Calvary. I want to live my life out of gratitude for your grace. Help me to never take your love for granted but to serve you, to fear you, to love you as you deserve to be loved.

September 21

Psalm 119:73-176

I think it’s amazing that the psalmist could come up with 176 reasons he loves God’s Word. He uses words like “laws”, “statutes”, “precepts”, “promises”, “commands”, “decrees”, and in 119:105 he says:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path.

And yes, that’s where I got the name for this blog. Back in the day (late 50’s early 60’s) I was a Pioneer Girl. It was the church’s equivalent of Girl Scouts. Psalm 119:105 was our signature verse, and we recited it each week with some pretty nifty hand motions. It’s a verse that has stayed with me for somewhere around 50 years.

It has been my experience that this verse is true. I am thankful for learned scholars, pastors, ordinary men and women who have written commentaries, Bible studies, and insightful books. I have been encouraged by the writings of C S Lewis, Eugenia Price,  John MacArthur and others. But if I lost my library today I’d be ok. I would not, however, be ok if I lost my Bible.

Nothing gives me more insight into God’s heart and mind, a deeper understanding of his will for me. Nothing gives me more encouragement or conviction. And nothing gives me more joy than the precious Word of God.

Dear one, let’s continue to dig into these pages. Let’s commit to memory verses that are meaningful for us at this time of life. Let’s seek God’s face and his wisdom above all others. As you read Psalm 119 today make these words the desire of your own heart. 

Father, thank you for your Word, these precious pages that share your heart. Give us understanding as we read. Give us direction as we seek you. And use us as you will. May we cherish this Book as your intimate love letter to each of us.

September 20

Psalms 111, 112, 117, 119:1-72

The psalmists knew how important it is for us to be in the Word, to know what is there and to live by it. These authors loved God’s Word and trusted it completely. Do I? Really?

I have to say I am a woman who looks forward to reading God’s Word each day and finding out what he would reveal to me through it’s pages. But I also have to admit it is much easier to be faithful to that since I retired from teaching. If I look back at the journals I kept during my working years I would see an irregular pattern. And sometimes days and weeks would go by when I wouldn’t even open the Bible.

I think back then I thought of my daily Bible reading as just one more thing on my already busy “to-do” list. It has turned into thinking about it as a privilege these days, though.

I encourage you to read these psalms today and catch the love of Scripture these men had. Do you realize the words recorded here are God’s words to you, personally? Every time I open these precious pages I can envision a letter addressed, “Dear Connie” and signed, “Love, God”. It’s that personal.

What would God say to you today? Open his Word and find out. Catch the excitement of a child opening gifts on Christmas morning. In these pages is something amazing just for you. I pray you won’t miss it.

September 19

Nehemiah 5:1-7:3; Psalms 1, 107

They finished the wall in fifty-two days. It took nearly that long for my kitchen to be remodeled. The surrounding nations, even Nehemiah’s enemies had to recognize God’s hand in it.

I find it interesting how personal Satan’s attacks became on Nehemiah. Tobiah threatened Nehemiah’s reputation. He hounded him over and over, hoping to break him down. Tobiah intimidated some of the Jews to spy on Nehemiah and report back to him what Nehemiah was saying.

But Nehemiah stayed strong. He knew the truth and stood by it. And he continued the work God had given him to do.

That leads us right into the psalms we read today. We are blessed when we don’t listen to ungodly people. When we delight in God’s law, God uses us to win souls like a tree by the stream that bears fruit and doesn’t wither. God watches over the path of the righteous!

Psalm 107 reminds us how wonderful God’s deeds are toward us. Let’s give thanks for his unfailing love. Let’s be those trees that bear fruit no matter how often or how personal Satan’s attacks become.

Father, I pray that you will continue to strengthen your children. May we delight in your word. May we stay close to the stream of Living Water. May we bear fruit for your kingdom. Bless us, Lord with your presence, your protection, and the confidence to stand against Satan in Jesus’ name.

September 18

Nehemiah 1-4

I love the book of Nehemiah. I love it that the names of the Jews and the section of the wall they repaired are recorded. I love it that Shallum’s daughters helped him rebuild his appointed section. I love that the Jews worked hard to complete the task at the same time they were aware of the enemy and were ready to defend the city. One hand pounded nails while the other held a sword. They were workmen by day and watchmen by night.

No one person was responsible for repairing the entire wall. Everyone did his part. I can’t imagine what that wall looked like. Different people with different levels of ability worked on different sections, often right in front of their own homes. 

Did they each put their personal touch on their section? Did Shallum’s daughters decorate their portion with flowers and rainbows? Uzziel was a goldsmith. Did he put a little sparkle in his section? And did the perfume-maker Hananiah douse his stones in fragrance? Were there little handprints pressed into the mortar or initials dug into the stone?

I love reading Nehemiah because it reminds me of what the Church should look like today. Each of us doing our part, planting seed as we take soup to a sick neighbor, teach Sunday School or sing in the choir, putting our personal touches on God’s work as part of a worshiping fellowship. All of us working individually toward one common goal.

It reminds me that there is an enemy we need to be aware of and we need to be ready to go to battle at any time. It also reminds me that, when God is in our efforts, when he is on our side because we are obedient, our enemy doesn’t stand a chance against us.

I hope you are involved in a Bible believing fellowship of believers. And I hope you are putting your own personal touch in the work there. May God be pleased with our efforts as we work together to further his kingdom, the winning of lost souls. One brick, one soul at a time.

September 17

Ezra 8:15-10:44; I Chronicles 3:17-24

Many Israelites had married foreign wives. It was an act of blatant disobedience toward God. The marriages themselves weren’t the only problem. The Israelite men allowed their foreign wives to bring their false religions into their homes.

The New Testament warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Why is that? What’s the big deal?

We are commanded to be holy as God is holy. He does not tolerate sin, he does not condone sin, he is not in the presence of sin. And he demands the same of us. We are to guard our hearts. We are to flee temptation. We are to live lives set apart so God can be revealed in our lives. There is a thin line between being involved in the lives of unsaved friends in order to win them to the Lord and being legally, financially, emotionally identified with them.

The Israelites we read about in Ezra had to send their wives and any children they had by them back to their foreign countries. Their association with those idol worshipers had to stop no matter how deeply “in love” they were.

I don’t know what relationships you are in. But if you are dating a non-Christian I can tell you without hesitation you have to end it. The Bible is so clear about that. Trust God to honor your obedience. Don’t expect him to bless you if you are disobeying him.

If you are already married to a non-believer I’m not going to pretend to know how to counsel you. Maybe you went into the relationship unequally yoked or maybe you have become a believer since your wedding day. All I know is that you are going to have to work hard to stay true to God. 

What do you do if your spouse begs you to sleep in Sunday morning because that’s the only time you have together this week? What do you do if your spouse wants you to run errands together during the time you have set aside to read your Bible? What happens when your spouse wants to take the kids shopping or fishing instead of them going to church with you? The choices are endless and difficult. You will spend your life balancing being a godly man or woman, a loving and supportive spouse, a parent raising children to honor God, and a person caught in the middle.

God’s demand that we not be unequally yoked with unbelievers wasn’t given because God is a buzz-kill. It was given so that our lives would be better, happier, our homes more loving and united. I’m not advocating divorce on the basis that a spouse isn’t a Christian, don’t get me wrong. God hates divorce. I am advocating Christians date only Christians, however. And I am certainly telling you God demands Christians marry only Christians.

If you are in a dating relationship with a non-believer I am praying that you will have the courage to walk away before it’s too late. If that relationship is more important than God’s will for your life you have already brought an idol into your home.

If you are in an unequally yoked marriage I am praying for you today. May God give you strength and resolve to follow him without compromise. I pray for your spouse that he or she will see in you something that is better than what they have without God. I pray for wisdom, for love, for patience, for confidence, and direction.

May God be glorified in all our relationships.