Category Archives: Bible

a lighter load

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My mom gave me this book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young for Christmas.  Last year a local Christian radio station read from it daily and I was often so encouraged by her words.  She took her own prayer journal and her increased awareness God’s daily presence in her life and created a devotional filled with Jesus’ words to her and us that we would have a greater sense of “God with us.”  Each day is written as if Jesus were speaking directly to us.  Because He is.

Today’s words are taken from Isaiah 41:10, Zephaniah 3:17 and Psalm 34:19

The world is too much with you, My child.  Your mind leaps from problem to problem to problem, tangling your thoughts in anxious knots.  When you think like that, you leave Me out of your world-view and your mind becomes darkened.  Though I yearn to help, I will not violate your freedom.  I stand silently in the background of your mind, waiting for you  to remember that I am with you.

When you turn from your problems to My Presence, your load is immediately lighter.  Circumstances may not have changed, but we carry your burdens together.  Your compulsion to ‘fix’ everything gives way to deep, satisfying connection with Me.  Together we can handle whatever this day brings.

I love this reminder from some of my favorite passages of scripture.  I will travel lighter today, sharing my burdens with the One who carries them with me.

gospel-impacted relationships

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I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and books on marriage recently as I’ve been growing in my own marriage and encouraging the many newly married couples Jon and I interface with regularly.

A friend recently posted this excerpt from Justin Taylor’s blog and I found it very powerful, for the married and unmarried, I like how it applies to all relationships ..

JUSTIN TAYLOR|10:13 AM CT

How the Gospel Can Transform a Marriage

Gary and Betsy Ricuchi, Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace (Crossway, 2006), pp. 22-23:

  • Because of the gospel, Christians have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, in our marriage, our past does not define us, confine us, or determine our future.
  • Because of the gospel, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore we can live free of all guilt and condemnation for every sin, and we can trust that God, in his mercy, will be gracious to us.
  • Because of the gospel, we can forgive, just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing done against us compares to our sin against God. Therefore all offenses, hostility, and bitterness between Christians can be completely forgiven and removed.
  • Because of the gospel, we are accepted by God (Romans 15:7). Therefore we are not dependent on a spouse for who we are or what we need.
  • Because of the gospel, sin’s ruling power over us is broken (Romans 6:614). Therefore we can truly obey all that God calls us to do in our marriage, regardless of any circumstance or situation.
  • Because of the gospel, we have access to God through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore we can at any time take any need in our marriage to the One who can do all things.
  • Because of the gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28).
  • Because of the gospel, Christ dwells in us by his Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore we are confident that God is always with us and is always at work in our marriage, even when progress is imperceptible (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
  • Because of the gospel, we have power to fight and overcome remaining sin, which continues to dwell and war within us (Romans 7:19-2124-25Galatians 5:16-17). This indwelling enemy represents the essence of what is called the doctrine of sin.

These are just a few of the ways the gospel can transform a marriage. Sometimes it’s not easy to live in the reality of these truths. But it is always possible—and not because of our strength or determination, but because of God’s empowering and enabling grace.

the One to whom God looks

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Even though my weekly, formal study in Isaiah is over, thankfully I never have to move on from God’s amazing words in this book … the Gospel of the Old Testament.  And thankfully He promises to keep doing a work in my heart as I humble myself before him.
Our church family at Grace Evangelical Free Church in LaMirada, California just concluded their studies in Isaiah as well.  My dear friend and brother in Christ, Erik Thoennes, delivers a power message on the final chapter of this book.
Isaiah 66

The Humble and Contrite in Spirit

66 Thus says the Lord:

“Heaven is my throne,

and the earth is my footstool;

what is the house that you would build for me,

and what is the place of my rest?

2 All these things my hand has made,

and so all these things came to be,

declares the Lord.

But this is the one to whom I will look:

he who is humble and contrite in spirit

and trembles at my word.

3 “He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man;

he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck;

he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers fpig’s blood;

he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol.

These have chosen their own ways,

and their soul delights in their abominations;

4 I also will choose harsh treatment for them

and bring itheir fears upon them,

because when I called, no one answered,

when I spoke, they did not listen;

but they did what was evil in my eyes

and chose that in which I did not delight.”

5 Hear the word of the Lord,

you who tremble at his word:

“Your brothers who hate you

and cast you out for my name’s sake

have said, l‘Let the Lord be glorified,

that we may see your joy’;

but it is they who shall be put to shame.

6 “The sound of an uproar from the city!

A sound from the temple!

The sound of the Lord,

rendering recompense to his enemies!

Rejoice with Jerusalem

7 “Before she was in labor

she gave birth;

before her pain came upon her

she delivered a son.

8 Who has heard such a thing?

Who has seen such things?

Shall a land be born in one day?

Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?

For as soon as Zion was in labor

she brought forth her children.

9 Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”

says the Lord;

“shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”

says your God.

10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,

all you who love her;

rejoice with her in joy,

all you who mourn over her;

11 that you may nurse and be satisfied

from her consoling breast;

that you may drink deeply with delight

from her glorious abundance.”

12 For thus says the Lord:

“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,

and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;

and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,

and bounced upon her knees.

13 As one whom his mother comforts,

so I will comfort you;

you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;

your bones shall flourish like the grass;

and tthe hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,

and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.

Final Judgment and Glory of the Lord

15 “For behold, the Lord will come in fire,

and his chariots like the whirlwind,

to render his anger in fury,

and his rebuke with flames of fire.

16 For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment,

and by his sword, with all flesh;

and those slain by the Lord shall be many.

17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, zeating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the Lord.

18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming<a id=”fb3-1″ title=”Hebrew and it is coming” to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth

that I make

shall remain before me, says the Lord,

so shall your offspring and your name remain.

23 From new moon to new moon,

and from Sabbath to Sabbath,

all flesh shall come to worship before me,

declares the Lord.

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”


savoring the final days

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I’ve been savoring the final days with Evangeline at home.  She ‘graduated’ from preschool last week and her sisters have a few weeks of school yet, so, it’s just her and I for a few weeks with a nice, open schedule.

Running an errand today, I made a point to savor her passionate singing in the car … as she sings along with whatever song is on the radio.  It’s amazing that she knows most of the words to most of the songs … but even if she doesn’t, she fakes it well.  The passion, the facial expressions … priceless!

So, today at lunch I had the Getty’s kids cd playing, (Words Jesus Said), which is basically scripture put to song.  The song about Zacchaeus came on and she  says, “I know about him … he stole money from people!  I’ll go get my bible, you can read it!”  And she did … and I did.  We read Zacchaeus, the Prodigal Son and the story of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume.

The Jesus Storybook Bible is such an amazing bible story book that captures the story and highlights Jesus on every page.  I was hit fresh today with each of these familiar stories as I was forced to look again at the Truth of the Gospel.

“Jesus loved Zacchaeus when nobody else did.  He was Zacchaeus’ friend, even when no one else was.  Because Jesus was showing people what God’s love was like – his wonderful, never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”

From the Prodigal son …

“Jesus told people this story to show them what God is like.  And to show people what they are like.  So they could know, however far they ran, however well they hid, however lost they were – it wouldn’t matter.  Because God’s children could never run too far, or be too lost, for God to find them.”

And the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and spilled precious perfume on his feet …

Jesus said of her, “This woman knows she’s a sinner, She knows she’ll never be good enough.  She knows she needs me to rescue her.  That’s why she loves me so much.”

“You look down on this woman because you don’t look up to God.  She is sinful on the outside, but you are sinful on the inside.”

“The more Jesus loved people and helped them, the more Important people and Leaders hated him.  They were afraid people would follow Jesus instead of them.  They were jealous.  And angry . . . Angry enough to kill Jesus.”

Wow!  Quite encouraging words for me today.  Thank you Evangeline for leading mommy to the Word today . . .

Final BSF of the year … tear

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Yes, it has come and gone … the final BSF meeting of the year.  The final meeting is a time of sharing with all the participants, including the children’s leaders.  The purpose of the sharing time is to share how God used this study of Isaiah in our lives this year and to give testimony to His great work in our lives through His word.  What an encouraging time.

For as far back as I can remember in this study, I knew I would be compelled to share on this day as God began a powerful work in my life through this study from the very first words of Isaiah.

Chapter 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool.

19 If you are willing and obedient,

you shall eat the good of the land;

20 but if you refuse and rebel,

you shall be eaten by the sword;

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Little did I know back in September how much it would mean to me to understand these words or how I would come to understand them in a new way … as if hearing them for the first time.  My sins were as scarlet, I saw that this year, I am also seeing the ways in which God sees me now as white as snow.  I also know in new ways the difference between obedience and rebellion.  God opened my eyes to this in ways only He could do.

So, I knew I would need to give testimony to His work in my life this year through this amazing study.  We were fairly warned that we would have 3 minutes to share … soooo short, but I understand the importance of giving everyone an opportunity to share.  I really had to zero in on what this study had meant to me.  So, with tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat, this is what I shared …

“BSF and Isaiah have meant the world to me this year.  I am new to BSF this year.  I have known the Lord all my life and have attended and even lead countless bible studies.  But this year, I encountered God and the gospel in the book of Isaiah, as if for the very first time.  God showed me my pride and arrogance.  He showed me the idols in my life, and pried my fingers off of them one by one.  But, He didn’t leave me there, He showed me His comfort, His love, His grace … again, in ways I have never known before.

So many verses from this book have meant so much to me this year, but these  two meant the most to me …

Isaiah 42:16

And I will lead the blind

in a way that they do not know,

in paths that they have not known

I will guide them.

I will turn the darkness before them into light,

the rough places into level ground.

These are the things I do,

and I do not forsake them.

and


Isaiah 43:1-2

But now thus says the Lord,

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.”


It was a sweet time.

Our dear teaching leader is ‘retiring’ and so this was her last year.  She took a few moments at the end to share as well.  I’m so glad she did … I couldn’t write fast enough to capture all of her wise words … here are a few.

In summarizing our study….

There is nothing God cannot or will not do according to His will.

We desperately need God each morning.

We are constantly coming to grip with our own human failure.

-our sin that keeps us blind to God’s will

God’s primary intent for me is for me to become like Jesus.

-it’s not to be popular, comfortable or successful

-it IS to build my character to make me more like Jesus.

-I could never do this without God’s help.

Our God ALWAYS guides us

-we have to listen, ask for his guidance and pray

-and do it with JOY!

It’s in the daily choices that God shows us how good He is.

-we NEED His word, don’t even try to live without it.

He will do more than we could ever as or imagine.

We don’t know what He is doing or will do …

-Isaiah 42:16  He will lead the blind in ways they don’t know …. He will turn our darkness into light …. He will make those hard places in our life smooth.

He is sovereign over ALL these things.

He says, “these things I will do, I will not forsake them …”

-there is no where we can go that God is not with us!

She concluded with

Psalm 139:7-12

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9 If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

12 even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.


The Bible Study Fellowship study of Isaiah for this year is officially over.  Thankfully the impact it had on my life is not.  God’s work in my heart is not over either, thankfully.

isaiah 65-66

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Last BSF lecture of the year.  Those sitting near me this week were likely wondering if someone in my family had died based on the tears dripping from my eyes.  I was just so aware of how sad I was that this was the last BSF lecture.  I even had one of the leaders tell me she will make a point NOT to sit near me during the sharing time for the final week .. who would’ve thought I, of all people, would be tagged ‘too emotional’!

Isaiah and BSF has really meant the the world to me this year.  I can’t begin to share .. I likely will in another post, forthcoming.

Either way, here are the notes from this week:

Isaiah 65

God is saying, “I have reveled myself!”

He wants us to find Him!

They loved the praise from man more than the praise from God.

-God addresses their unbelief.

-Those with the most exposure did it their own way and rejected Christ.

v. 8-10

Encourages our authenticity with God

-God honors our faith, if it’s there.

-God could tell the difference between good fruit and bad fruit.

v. 11

The wicked would know destruction

v. 13 and following talk of the contrast between those who know the Lord and those who oppose Him.

Principle:  to reject God is an infinitely outrageous crime.

She talks about Hell as a ‘Gospel Problem’

-God saves sinners through Christ.

-we either believe it or we don’t

-when we are open to His word and delight in His pleasures, we are open to begin the process of belief.

-when we don’t believe, we are headed towards hell.

We are saved ONE way by the ONE God through grace

-His gift of love for the undeserving

Do we come to the God of Truth?

Are we authentic in our faith?

God takes the initiative to reveal Himself to all who will come.

How does God view you?

-are you believing?

-what reward can you expect?

v. 17-25

Filled with HOPE for God’s people.

God will delight and rejoice in His people.

God Himself will live with His people forever.

Heaven:  eternal souls longing for God, getting what they want.

The HOPE for the believer, is the Gospel.

God is saying, we can enjoy God now.

Principle:  to receive God is to inherit and infinitely glorious future.

How do we come to God with what we need?

-He has promised to forgive us and recreate us.

Do we struggle to hope?

-we are temped daily by the enemy to give up hope

-we believe the lie that we can’t change

God says, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard what God has prepared for those who love Him”

What can we do?

Go to Him!

Our teaching leader challenged us to go back through Isaiah and record all the promises…

-Do not be afraid, I am with you

-I long to be gracious to you

-My word will accomplish my purpose

-God will keep in perfect peace who’s mind is stayed on Him

-We are all sheep who have gone astray and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all

Our HOPE is the power of God’s living word.

-His word will cause us to be recreated.

-He will intervene

-His words have the power to transform, to awaken, to encourage

Isaiah 66

We enter into true worship of God

-God will be honored forever

66:1  God transcends

God honors those who are humble and  contrite in spirit

-those who tremble at His word

We respond with great anticipation

-the only way we enter his presence is through the righteousness of Christ.

v. 7-14

When you see the Truth, your heart will rejoice.

Those who reject God are rejecting Heaven.

Those who reject Heaven, cannot end up there.

What do we do?

Turn to God.  What is our response to God’s grace?
Are we willfully rejecting Jesus and the gospel?

We have all gone our own way and turned away from God in unbelief.

We ask God to help us live a life before those who don’t know Him with a pure heart.

-to receive His grace we cannot add or subtract to God’s word.

When we begin to see what our sin really is, we recognize His grace.

To know and love God is to understand that He sent His son to die for our sins.

What could be greater?

May we see to it that we know Jesus!

Isaiah 61-64

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Today we look at how God is going to fulfill the vision Isaiah has given to his people.

(this weeks’ lecture notes . . . )

The Sovereign Lord has a vision to redeem the whole world and His people.

Our expectations in our culture are ‘instant’ … for everything.  We approach God the same way.

God says He will do what He says He will do, when He’s ready.

Isaiah is teaching God’s people to wait.

-we are not there yet!

-but look at how God helped those in exile and how He will help us today!

The strategy that Isaiah gives God’s people is to wait in Faith and Hope.

Isaiah 61:1

Jesus, appointed by the Holy Spirit, will preach the good news and carry out God’s plan.

The servant of the Lord, Jesus, would redeem God’s people.

Only God could restore what sin had ruined in their lives.

-God’s grace and extravagant love should make you rejoice.

Principle:   those who experience God’s transforming grace, delight in God.

-when we ‘get it’, we are delighted.

-are your days filled with praise?

-are you feeling guilty about the past?

-are you dreading and fearful of what’s ahead?

Grace:  underserving

-God justifies and reconciles us to God

-by faith we believe, we’re saved on the basis of God’s unmerited favor

-when we experience God’s grace, we praise Him.

In your circumstances, have you praised God for His undeserved favor towards you?

-fill your mind with God’s words, the gospel.

Extravagant favor

-focus on the good news of Jesus

-if you do, you will enliven HOPE, no matter what you endure as you wait.

Isaiah 62:  the strategy here is prayer.

PRAYER:  asking  God to accomplish His divine plan.

-HOW we wait, as God’s people for his promises … we should be vigilant, depending on God.

-when we stop praying, we lose that living connection to God.

PRINCIPLE:  Only God offers grace to change you into who He has always wanted you to be.

-surrendering to Christ

-entrusting our character to God to be refined.

-God has plans for us – prayer keeps us connected to these promises.

Intercession glorifies God because it admits dependence on God.

-we are all in hard places

-every believer struggles with sin

-God hears the cries of His people

Only God can change, help and renew His people.

Isaiah says, ‘it’s hard to wait, but you can depend on God and trust Him!’

HOPE . . . always in God!