Keep the Light Burning

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Leviticus 24

Earlier this week my family decided to go see the Blue Angels practice. We got up early and headed out, only to get stuck in a crazy traffic jam unlike anything I’ve seen before. After moving a mile in an hour, we decided we needed to make another plan. We turned left, away from the Navy base, and motored to the Walmart parking lot where we joined a dozen other wanna-be air show watchers.

The air show was scheduled to begin at 10:30, and sure enough at 10:30 we saw a couple planes in the air, but it was nothing particularly earth-shattering. After about 20 minutes of this, out in the heat on an asphalt parking lot, several members of our family decided they’d rather go get a cold drink and a snack from inside Walmart than wait in the parking lot with their heads craned toward the skies.

Minutes after they disappeared inside, the magic began. The planes started flying every which way, roaring through the blue skies.

And they missed it.

Command the people of Israel
to bring you pure oil from beaten olives for the lamp, that a light may be kept burning regularly….
Aaron shall arrange it from evening to morning before the LORD regularly.
It shall be a statute forever
throughout your generations.

Leviticus 24:2-3 ESV

I’m not good at doing things regularly or forever. I like to make plans. I like to start new projects. I struggle at maintaining the commitment once the novelty wears off. That’s one reason why I’m trying so hard to write here every day until I’ve blogged through the Bible.

But, friends, God commands us to be faithful, to keep our lamps burning, evening to morning, day after day, forever. He wants us to pass on our faith to the generations coming after us.

Do we have our eyes fixed on the skies, waiting for His return, and our hearts rooted in His Word that it can be that light to our path and lamp to our feet which He promised for us?

Or are we so busy shopping for cold Cokes and salty chips that we miss the real show?

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”

Luke 12:35-36 ESV

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.

As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.

Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Matthew 25:1-13 ESV
Blue Angels over Walmart
Give Me Oil in My Lamp – Cedarmont Kids

Heavenly Father, You are always faithful. Always. You never change. You never grow tired or weak or weary. You never get bored and give up. You are the perfect example of steadfastness. Help us, Father, to be faithful like You. We can’t keep our lamps burning on our own. Give us the oil of Your Spirit and the living water of Your Word that we may be found faithful. And embolden us to share the good news with others, that they may enter the kingdom with us, to the praise of Your glorious might. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Profaning His Holy Name

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Leviticus 21-22

And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God:
I am the LORD.”

Leviticus 22:32-33 ESV

Heavenly Father, I am Your child. You have called me by name and I belong to You. You have engraved Your name across my heart, and You have engraved my name in the palm of Your hand. You have brought me out of the land of darkness and slavery to sin, and You have brought me into the land of light and freedom in Your Holy Name. I pray that I will draw others to You by how I live and speak and love. I pray that others will see Your Holiness in me – not only in what I *don’t* do, but also in what I *do* do. I pray that I will love justice and practice kindness and walk humbly with my God. I pray that I will love my neighbor as myself. I pray that I will abstain from sin – from slander, lying, and sexual immorality. I’m a new creation in Christ. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Fighting on our Knees with Our Hands Lifted High: A Lesson from Exodus 17

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Exodus 16-17

“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Exodus 17:8-16 ESV

There are so many things I can learn from this short passage.

1. Joshua and the soldiers in the army had a job to do – but it wasn’t the same job that Moses, Aaron, and Hur. Joshua and his soldiers were to go and actively fight in the battle while Moses, Aaron, and Hur were to go on top of the mountain far from the fighting and fight in prayer. God gives different people different jobs to do. We must each do what God has called us to do. Don’t look at the brother or sister next to you and think, “Why aren’t you on the front lines of this fight?” Moses had his time to lead the Israelites through the Red Sea and Moses had his time to go on a mountain and pray.

2. Aaron and Hur’s supporting roles were vital to Moses’s success. Just like Jesus sent out his followers two by two (Mark 6:7, Luke 10:1), God sent Aaron and Hur to help Moses in the fight – not by standing next to Moses holding up their own arms, but standing next to Moses holding up his arms. If you’ve been called to lead, don’t minimize your need for sisters and brothers to partner with you. If you’ve been called to provide support, don’t minimize the essential nature of your role! Your leaders need your prayers, you’re encouragement, and your partnership in there fight! I’m personally so thankful for those faithful sisters who pray for me, who speak encouraging words to me, and who walk next to me in this daily battle.

3. Our battle’s victory is ultimately won in the spiritual realm. There are real battles being fought – both in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm – but the victory is in the Lord’s hands.

Some physical battles here on earth will be lost. Your loved one might lose their fight with cancer. Your much fought for marriage might end in divorce. Your child might fail that class or lose that friendship.

But we can trust that the battle belongs to the Lord. No one and no thing can thwart His plans. Sometimes all that we can do is pray and wait with our hands raised and our knees bowed, but that is where the greatest power lies. The Israelites didn’t win the war because they had a better army. They won the war because the Lord had ordained the victory. So, whether the physical battle is won or lost, the battle belongs to the Lord.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV

Heavenly Father, the battle belongs to you. The victory belongs to you. It is not by our own might but by your spirit that the battle will be won. Help us to trust You when the earthly battles we are fighting don’t go the way we want them to. You are our banner. You are who goes before us and fights for us. Help us to trust you in all things and to pray to You faithfully. Help us to help each other – lifting up our arms and lifting one another’s arms, remembering that the fervent prayers of a righteous person are powerful and avail much. In the Powerful name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

You’ve Already Won by Shane and Shane
Battle Belongs by Phil Wickham

God Has a Purpose and a Plan – Trust Him

Read Through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 13

Over my 27 years of motherhood, I’ve had countless opportunities to make decisions that my children don’t understand.

  • Sweetheart, I need you to put on your shoes and socks right now and go collect the chicken eggs.
  • Honey, grab your backpack and stick it in the car. We’re going to need it later.
  • Hey, sweetie, hurry and finish up your chores. We have to leave in five minutes.

Maybe I know something that we have planned for later that day which my children are unaware of or maybe I’m looking at a bigger, longer-term goal that my children just aren’t ready to understand. But whatever the reason is, I want my children to obey “promptly, cheerfully, and completely,” because they trust my judgment. I want their first response to be obedience, rather than their debate. I want their initial thought to be, “My mom’s pretty good at this mom-stuff, I ought to do what she says,” rather than, “Why is my mom always telling me what to do? Can’t she just leave me alone?”

I was thinking about this as I read about God leading the Israelites out of Egypt.

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war
and return to Egypt.”
But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.”

Exodus 13:17-18 ESV

God knows men’s hearts, and God knows the future. In His perfect wisdom, He always knows what is best.

He always has purpose in the path that He choses for His children. Sometimes He wants us to walk through the darkest valleys and sometimes He wants us to joyously dance over the mountaintops, but either way His purposes are good.

He is worthy of our trust.

Let’s pray.

Oh Lord God, You are good and perfect in all Your ways. Help us to trust You. Help us to follow You promptly, cheerfully, and completely, even when we don’t understand, especially when we don’t understand. May we have unwavering faith because You are an unwavering God. You always keep Your promises. When the way looks dark and scary, may we reach out our hands to You and trust that You are there. In the Name of Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, we pray, Amen.

Praying for Both Moms – Birth Moms and Adoptive Moms

Read Through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 2

As an adoptive mom, the story of Moses has always had particular interest for me. The idea of Moses’s first mom, the mom who gave birth to him, was willing to risk her own life by hiding him for three months, and then to place him among the reeds in hopes that he would be rescued by an Egyptian, reminds of my son’s first mom, the mom who gave birth to him.

I will be forever indebted to her. Though I don’t know the circumstances surrounding my son’s conception or what she went through to bring him to birth, I know it couldn’t have been easy.

So, I’d like to pray for all those first moms out there, the moms who have birth to a child they’re not raising. But I’d also like to pray for all of us adoptive moms who are raising children they didn’t birth. Both moms face unique pains and joys and both moms need our prayers.

Heavenly Father, I pray right now for the mom who has given birth to a child she isn’t raising, a child who is under someone else’s care. I pray that You will encourage her. Help her to trust in You and seek for You with all her heart. I pray that she will someday see in Heaven that child she carried in her womb. I pray that she will know that You are the God of redemption and restoration and second chances, and that it’s never too late to turn to You. I pray that she knows that You are the God who hears and remembers and sees and knows. Truly, You are the God of all comfort. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

And Heavenly Father, I also pray for the adoptive mom who is raising a child birthed by another, who deeply loves a child that You have entrusted into her care. I pray that You will heal the broken places in her heart with the healing balm of Your love. Help her to cast all her cares on you, knowing that You care for her and You care for that little boy or girl, too. I pray that she will remember that You are the God of redemption and restoration and second chances, and that is never too late to turn to You. May she know that You are the God who hears and remembers and sees and knows. Truly, You are the God of all comfort. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Now My Eye Sees You

Read Through the Bible in 2 Years: Job 40-42

“And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.
And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters.”

Job 42:12-13 ESV

In Job 1, we read that Job had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 female donkeys. Here at the end of his life, Job has twice as many of these animals. Yet in Job 1, we read that Job had seven sons and three daughters and now at the end of his life, he once again is given seven sons and three daughters. Why was the number of his children not doubled?

Let me share with you my thoughts: When Job’s first animals were wiped out and he got new animals, he no longer counted the ones he had earlier in his life … but children, they are different. Our children are made in God’s image and are given eternal souls. Our children are irreplaceable. If your child passes away, they remain your child. I have two children who have gone to heaven before me and I have four children here on earth, therefore I have six children.

Job began his life with ten children and he ended his life with twenty. The Lord had indeed given him a double portion.

The pain of losing all of your animals is great, but the pain of losing all of your children is immeasurably greater. But may I encourage you with this word: the pain is great because your love is great.

Job was a righteous man with a deep love for God, but Job grew to know and love God more intimately and personally as a result of his great pain – and so can we. Earlier we read the words of Job, “Behold, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it.” (Job 13:1 ESV) But now at the end of this book, Job says, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;” (Job 42:5 ESV)

I remember all too well how much the Lord grew and transformed me through the pain of losing a baby. I pray that whatever trial you are going through now or have gone through in the past, that you will keep your eyes wide open to see God as He walks with you through this dark valley.

Heavenly Father, please grow our faith. Help us to see Your hand guiding us and blessing us every step of the way as we walk through this valley. You are always good and always right. You are all-knowing and all-powerful. We need You every hour. We pray that we will know how deep and high and long and wide is Your love toward us as Your children. We pray that we will see You in our lives and see You in Your living and active Word because we know that You are there. In the Name of Christ Jesus our Lord we pray, Amen.

Watch my testimony for more on how I came to see God more clearly after losing a baby

A Pinched Off Piece of Clay

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Job 33

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life…. Behold, I am toward God as you are;
I too was pinched off from
a piece of clay.

Job 33:4, 6 ESV

Have you ever tried making a “pinch pot” out of a little lump of sticky brown clay or have you ever attempted to mold a little clay pot on a potter’s wheel?

I actually grew up with two aunts and one uncle who are professional potters. I spent many hours admiring their work and attempting to make my own. Then a few years ago my oldest daughter and I went to a local pottery shop to try our hand at throwing coffee mugs on a wheel. Let me just say that these experiences have taught me to appreciate the skill involved with making incredible beauty out of a few handfuls of wet dirt.

In this passage of Job, two things jumped out at me.

1. God is the potter. God is who made us and He is who gives us life. He creates and shapes and molds us into what He desires. Friends, none of us are mere accidents. We didn’t just evolve from apes through a random series of accidents. Our lives have purpose. As Ephesians 2:10 explains, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

2. All mankind is level before God. Though you and I each have a unique, intentional purpose, we are all equally pinched off from a piece of clay. (Job 33:6) God has fashioned us each to look different so that we might each accomplish the works which He has designed for us, but may we never boast as though we’re better than anyone else for we’re all just jars of clay made by the perfect potter. May this truth keep us humble before God and before our fellow man.

Let’s pray.

Oh, Heavenly Father, what is man that You are mindful of us? You know that we are dust. We are but clay in our potter’s hands. You have a divine purpose for each of us. May that truth empower us to go and do the works that You have designed us for. Keep us humble as we remember that we are equally Your creation, and give us courage as we remember that You have works prepared for us to do. In the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

Praise to the One who Gave Me Breath

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Job 26-27, Psalm 150

With whose help have you
uttered words, and whose breath has come out from you?

Job 26:4 ESV

Let’s just ponder this one verse from today’s reading.

On the sixth day of creation, the Lord breathed into the first man, Adam, the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) and He’s been doing it ever since. Why are we so prideful, so self-sufficient, thinking that we are independent creatures who don’t need God? Truly, what do I have that I haven’t been given? Even the very breath in my lungs is a gift from God.

And to think of the gift of language, of thinking and speaking and communicating – with God and with others – oh, what a gift! As an educator for the deaf, I witnessed first-hand how desperately children and parents desire to communicate, whether using gestures or sounds or facial expressions. My 100-lb Aussie-Labradoodle is about as smart as animals come, but he can’t communicate nearly so well as my 20-month old granddaughter. God has given mankind a unique gift in the gift of language, so that we can hear from Him and speak to Him like none of the other creatures He has made on earth.

The final psalm, Psalm 150, is a psalm of praise, praising God with trumpets and harps and strings and pipes, praising Him with dancing and loud crashing cymbals, but oh the gift of singing words of praise and making declarations of spoken praise, telling of His mighty deeds! The Lord has put breath in my lungs and with it I will praise Him! As the final verse of the final psalm says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6) Will you join me in declaring aloud His greatness?!

Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, giver of life and breath, You are worthy of all our praise! You created the sun and moon and stars by Your will and by Your word. You hung the earth on nothing. You created the seas and everything in them. You created the earth and the sky and everything that fills them. What is man that you are mindful of us?

You are worthy of every word of worship, every song of praise, every beat of the drum, every blast of the trumpet, every clang of the cymbal. You are worthy! You are holy and mighty and good. All your ways are right and all Your ways are just.

We worship You in the glory of Your presence. We ask that You would make us vessels of Your glory and grace. We ask that You would make us declarers of Your praise! Use us, Lord! By the sacrifice of Your Son, we have been made temples of Your Holy Spirit. Make us pure and holy vessels for You.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord, we pray. Amen.

Great are You Lord

Praying through the Words of Job

Read through the Bible in 2 years Job 23-24

Last night I had a friend comment that Job is hard to read. Amen, sister. Job is indeed very hard to read. Sometimes I just focus on one thought from Job and meditate on it. I also like to use the words in Job as a springboard for prayer. Let’s try a few verses of that today.

Job 23:8-10 ESV – Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

Heavenly Father, Sometimes I feel like You’re not there. Sometimes I can’t feel You or see You and it feels like You’ve abandoned me. Help me to remember the truth: You will never leave me or forsake me. You have made me Your sheep and I am Yours. It is me – not You – who is prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love. Thank You that You always know the way that I take, that I cannot escape from Your presence, that I cannot hide from You no matter where I go. And thank You for Jesus, my good shepherd who searches for me and joyfully brings me back into Your fold.

Job 23:11-12 ESV — My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.

Heavenly Father, please help my feet to remain on the straight and narrow path, to hold fast to You and Your ways. Let me not turn aside. May I ponder the path of my feet and not turn to the left or the right in what I say or think or do. Keep me from sins of omission as well as commission. Help me to actively do good, rather than just not doing bad. I want to treasure Your words more than food, even more than rich, sweet, tasty food. Your love is indeed better than any treasure here on earth.

Job 23:13-14 ESV — But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind.

Lord, You are unchangeable. No one can turn You away. You do whatever You desire. You will be faithful to complete whatever You have begun. And I’m so thankful for that because Your ways are always best. There is so often a way that seems right to me, but it’s end is simply the way to death. Help me to trust You. Help me to believe that Your way is always best.

In the almighty, all-good Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Far Too Wonderful (Psalm 139) by Shane & Shane

Good Things and Bad People

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Job 22; Psalm 73

Have you ever struggled with why “bad things happen to good people”? I believe the simple answer to that question is, “Truly there are no good people. We’re all downright bad. None of us deserve anything that the Lord so kindly gives to us.

But, today when reading Job 22, I found myself thinking about this question, “Why do good things happen to bad people?”

They said to God, “Depart from us,” and
“What can the Almighty do to us?”
Yet He filled their houses with good things…

Job 22:17-18a ESV

Why does God allow the sun to shine and the rain to fall on both the evil and the good, like we read in Matthew 5:45? Why is the LORD is good to all and have mercy on all that he has made? (Psalm 145:9)

Why do the wicked prosper like we considered in yesterday’s reading of Job 21?

In Psalm 73, Asaph wrestled with these same questions. He found himself envious of the wicked, but as he pondered his life on earth and his life in eternity compared to theirs, he realized how much better off he is.

"Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." - Psalm 73:23-28 ESV

When we’re wrestling with all these why’s, let’s speak truth to ourselves and remind ourselves of what we know is true.

Will you pray with me?

Heavenly Father,

You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I would rather have one day with You than a thousand apart from You. For me, truly, it is good to be near You. You are my refuge and strength and guide.

Truly, You are good to both the evil and the good. You are good and gracious. And I am not.

Make me more like You. Conform me into Your likeness. May Your glory and goodness shine brightly out of my life. Use me as Your mouthpiece. I want to tell of all Your works for You are so, so good. Your steadfast love is better than life.

In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Good and Gracious King by City Alight