Verse for the Day – Hebrews 12:1-2

Did you know you are running a race today?!

After seeing Peter walking on the water and our need to look at Jesus, not the things around us, I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1-2:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (ESV)

My Bible says “the cloud of witnesses” are the people of faith mentioned right before this in Hebrews 11.

These verses twice says “let us” — giving us actions to do:

  • “let us” lay aside every weight (putting off sin and things that entangle us) and
  • “let us” run with endurance the race before us.

How can we put off sin and run with endurance?

By looking to Jesus, our example. We can put off sin and run with endurance the same way Jesus did. He endured the cross by seeing beyond the moment to the eternal, by considering such suffering and doing His Father’s will a joy! And He is now at the right hand of the throne of God!

PRAYER: Dear Lord, Help us to run with endurance the race of faith that is before us, putting aside everything that entangles and slows us down. Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus who not only will give us our example to follow, but will enable us to do this! And let us run in such a way as to win the prize (I Corinthians 9:24-25), looking to Jesus and knowing we will receive a reward and be blessed in this obedience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verse for the Day – Matthew 14:29-31

Our family went to see the movie Son of God last night. Today’s verses are selected as I considered my favorite scene from the movie: Jesus walking on the water and Peter coming out to Him.The verses then that I picked today are from Matthew 14:29-31:

“He [Jesus] said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (ESV)

I loved this picture because I think so often when Jesus calls us to Himself or to something He has for us, we can be like Peter and jump out of the boat enthusiastically to follow Jesus. But when adversity comes (like the storm and waves), if we don’t keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and believe what we know to be true about Him, we will fall.

We see this all throughout the Bible. John the Baptist, born to make the way for Jesus, baptized Him and was obediently and joyfully fulfilling the call on his life, but when he was arrested (adversity came), he asks of Jesus, “Are you the One?” (Matthew 11:3)  Suddenly, things don’t seem as clear.

We saw it in the movie. People would follow Jesus, but when other people would question whether He was really the Messiah, it was easy to doubt and wonder: “Wait, is he really the Messiah?” We saw Thomas doubt and Peter deny Jesus.

Perhaps the same people who said on Palm Sunday, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” would later cry out, “Crucify Him!”

We are human, and we can be fickle and easily swayed by the difficult circumstances or opinions around us.

In our own day, I see people (or sometimes myself) who enthusiastically follow a call Jesus gives them, and then when that call turns out to be really hard and costly (which we should expect), they (or I) wonder, “Wait, were we really supposed to do that?”

But let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and ask Him to increase our faith. Then when the waves come and we feel tossed about, we actually will stand firm in Christ who will steady and uphold us and prove Himself faithful, that He is indeed the One!

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please increase our faith. Make us ones who believe You and who don’t doubt, even when life’s storms come and our circumstances are hard. Help us to fix our eyes on You and not the things around us. And may we find You faithful, as you fully are. We love You, Lord Jesus, and thank and praise You that you would die a cruel death so that we might live. Let us then live for You, in full faith, believing You are the One and looking to you each day. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Weeks Two through Five of Summer!

The weeks are passing quickly this summer! We spent Weeks Two and Three in the UK.

London
Cambridge
punting the Cam
Ely
Ely Cathedral, a favorite stop on our trip
We went to “Songs of Praise” at Ely Cathedral. We sang “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (a favorite hymn of mine) and “How Great Thou Art” – beautiful!
Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford
Blenheim Palace
We loved Blenheim Palace and took many pictures inside and out!
Warwick Castle
Stratford on Avon
Shakespeare’s birthplace
Wales
Back to Cambridge
Cambridge American Cemetery

one of the colleges in Cambridge
We were so thankful for safe travels and health for everyone while we were away. We were traveling with my mom and my in-laws, so we had a lot of family which made it particularly fun. I posted about 200 pictures on Facebook, which was really only a fraction of what we took. I’m always grateful to travel and have my picture and knowledge of the world and history expanded.

We returned to the States, while my husband went on to Switzerland to finish another week with students that he teaches overseas in the summer.

Week Four of summer was unpacking, laundry, resting, and enjoying the 4th of July with dear friends. Our friends live on a golf course and river in a nearby town, and it’s becoming our tradition to spend the 4th with them, having a cookout and watching the fireworks on the river. It is such a beautiful and peaceful place to be, and the weather was perfect. We enjoyed the evening with good friends, but I failed to take pictures!

Week Five brought my sister-in-law and her family to town. We spent the week doing activities with them and their children.

Then Saturday I met up with my “big sister” from my sorority in college. We hadn’t seen each other in 16 years! They were in town for vacation, and we got together, and it was so much fun. I have Facebook to thank for how easily we have been able to keep in touch in recent years.

First friend I made in college: went through Rush only to meet people, not intending to join a sorority, but met a great group of Christian friends who made my years in college very special! Thankful to the Lord for this dear friend and her influence in my life!
Now we enter Week Six, and I feel like we have a slow week ahead of us. I’m looking forward to it! We’ll be home the rest of the summer, and I love it!

My son is in workouts and camps four days a week. I have a goal to not eat out as much! I’ve been planning my menus and cooking more, and I’m enjoying it. I never know what to do when I have so much time on my hands, so I’m trying to make the most of it.

And lastly, my mom and I started our Beth Moore summer Bible study on the Psalms of Ascent. It’s only 7 weeks so we could fit it in starting late! It’s always fun to see the group that God brings together, people He’s brought in our paths. I last did this study five years ago with a couple of women I worked with at the time, and it’s fun to look back at what was happening in life then. We’re supplementing the study with Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent, and they actually complement each other well.

I read the book Radical by David Platt before we went to Europe. I wanted to read it after I finished his book Follow Me. I am being challenged in the area of personal evangelism. I thought about it a lot after finishing these books, the preacher preached on it in Cambridge when we were in church, the book of the month at our church has been on this subject, and in other ways, it seems to be at the forefront of my mind. There are way too many thoughts for me to process here, but I just don’t want to be complacent. I think it starts again with prayer.

One other theme has been “looking up,” “opening my eyes,” “lifting up my eyes,” etc. I pray God gives me eyes to see and a heart to obey and follow Him each day wherever He leads, whether in the mundane tasks of life or in the adventures life brings, and to reach out to others in His Name.

Lift Up Your Eyes and See

I’ve been reading through Genesis and loved reading again story after story of God’s faithfulness to His people.

It’s always surprising how a new reading of an old book can reveal new things. While I am no scholar, I do enjoy tracking certain themes like “covenant” or “be fruitful and multiply” or “descendants.”

One phrase I’ve been reflecting on is “lifted his eyes and looked” or “I lifted my eyes and saw.”

  • In Genesis 18:2 “Abraham lifted his eyes and looked” when three men stood at his tent door, one maybe being the LORD, to tell him he that Sarah would have a child in their old age.
  • When Abraham had Isaac on the altar, after God stopped him from sacrificing Isaac, it says in Genesis 22:13-14, “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns.” God provided a substitute sacrifice (and a picture of things to come through Jesus’ sacrifice for us)!
  • In Genesis 24:63-64, Isaac went out to meditate in the field and “lifted his eyes and looked“; Rebekah also “lifted her eyes” as God had provided a wife for Isaac.
  • In Genesis 31:10, Jacob said, “I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream. . .” and in the dream, the Angel of God said to Jacob, “Lift your eyes now and see. . .” as God provided and increased Jacob’s herd and blessed him with continued wealth.

It has made me wonder what I would see if I would just lift up my eyes and look, if I would remove my eyes from the circumstances around me and look up to God and allow Him to provide for the need at hand.

I’ve been sensing His leading so clearly lately: “be quiet, be silent, be still, look up at Me, I will act for you, I will provide, wait for Me, trust Me.” It’s hard for me to sometimes do these things, but I look forward to seeing what God will do as I look to Him for His power and strength. In the midst of it, He also convicts and draws my heart. I am thankful.

A Couple of Quotes

I’m just posting some quotes that I’ve liked this week.

The first one my friend wrote about in our school newsletter, but I thought it was nice for this time of year:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Advent creates people, new people. We too are supposed to become new people in Advent. Look up, you whose gaze is fixed on this earth, who are spellbound by the little events and changes on the face of the earth. Look up to these words, you who have turned away from heaven disappointed. Look up, you whose eyes are heavy with tears and who are crying over the fact that the earth has gracelessly torn us away. Look up, you who, burdened with guilt, cannot lift your eyes. Look up, your redemption is drawing near. Something different from what you see daily will happen. Just be aware, be watchful, wait just another short moment. Wait and something quite new will break over you. God will come.”

I’ve also been reading in F. B. Meyer’s book The Secret of Guidance. I liked many of his quotes, but here is one I particularly liked:

“If you do not know what to do, stand still until you do. And when the time comes for action, circumstances, like glowworms, will sparkle along your path. You will become so sure that you are right, when God’s three witnesses [the Word, the Spirit, and circumstances] concur, that you could not be surer though an angel beckoned you on. The circumstances of our daily life are to us an infallible indication of God’s will when they concur with the inward promptings of the Spirit and with the Word of God.”

I suppose those quotes don’t even seem to be connected, but I just liked them both, each a reminder to look to Him and to wait on Him. When I wait uncertain of what to do, I can trust God will reveal to me perfectly the steps to take. And look up — keeping my eyes heavenward — when I’m tired and busy this season. I don’t want to miss either the beauty of the season or the beautiful things He does.