Monthly Archives: April 2020

Numbers 7; Psalms 42,43; Song of Solomon 5; Hebrews 5

I’m in the beginning third of a book called When to Walk Away by Gary Thomas. One thing that stands out to me with clarity in his book is how many clever ways one can be distracted from his work/calling.

In the scriptures today I make note of the offerings brought in for the Lord. Paragraph after paragraph describing the offering brought in each day. The Lord speaks to Moses, telling him, “Receive their gifts, and use these oxen and wagons for transporting the Tabernacle. Distribute them among the Levites according to the work they have to do.” So Moses took the wagons and oxen and presented them to the Levites. He gave two wagons and four oxen to the Gershonite division for their work …” (Numbers 7:5-7, NLT) My takeaway focuses on: offerings for the Lord being used/redistributed for other work, obedience, kingdom focus.

In the psalms, a sense of abandonment, despair, attack, longing for God and crying out. But these pieces, they pull me back to the Lord, to a kingdom focus.

I hear the tumult of the raging seas
    as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
    and through each night I sing his songs,
    praying to God who gives me life. (Psalm 42:7-8, NLT)

And,

Send out your light and your truth;
    let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you live.
There I will go to the altar of God,
    to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
    O God, my God! (Psalm 43:3-4, NLT)

In Song of Solomon,

I slept, but my heart was awake,
    when I heard my lover knocking and calling:
“Open to me, my treasure, my darling,
    my dove, my perfect one …”

She questions, she wonders, she delays. There’s no doubt of her passion and desire, but in the wait an opportunity is lost.

My lover tried to unlatch the door,
    and my heart thrilled within me.
I jumped up to open the door for my love,
    and my hands dripped with perfume.
My fingers dripped with lovely myrrh
    as I pulled back the bolt.
I opened to my lover,
    but he was gone!
    My heart sank. (Song of Solomon 5:2, 4-6, NLT)

In Hebrews 5 explains that a high priest is chosen, presenting gifts to God, offering sacrifices, and dealing gently with people. “And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:4, 7-8, NLT)

All of these scriptures remind me to focus. People and circumstances, my very own heart and even a momentary hesitation can take me off course, distract me, and take my eyes off calling and kingdom work.

Lord, an enemy delights that I would live powerless, fruitless, indecisive and wandering. But you remind me of a bigger picture, a calling piece that fits within it. There are lots of people and things that can distract me, but I want to lock my eyes on you. You remind me repeatedly to focus on your kingdom, to focus on you, the true source of all my joy. I don’t want to live dulled by distraction.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 6; Psalm 40,41; Song of Songs 4; Hebrews 4

“If any of the people, either men or women, take the special vow of a Nazirite, setting themselves apart to the Lord in a special way,” – Numbers 6:2 NIV

When taking on any commitment of discipline, constant accountability is critical to success.  The best in any sport, arts or entertainment keep their laser focus and keep practicing until they get it perfect.  It is documented that many of the greats commit 10,000 hours to their interest before they become truly great.  The Nazirites were dialed in with similar focus.  The long hair gave it away.  Can I be identified in my vow and commitment to Him?

‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’ – Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

Some of my favorite images are those of smiling on someone. When a parent is truly proud the achievement of a child or they do something completely unexpectedly thoughtful for another and it largely goes unnoticed.  At weddings when the bride first enters the church, I love to take a minute to see the groom’s face. He is often taken aback and cannot contain his excitement.  These are the priceless smiles the Father has for me. Shower down Your grace, O Lord.  You are not just being gracious like I do when hosting a dinner party.  You give Me grace and peace in abundance beyond anything that the world can. Take a deep breath and breathe it in.

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.  You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride.  You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, – Song 4:7,9 NIV

I want to be a newlywed with you again, Lord. 

None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.  Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened[c]— burnt offerings and sin offerings[d] you did not require.  Psalm 40:5-6 NIV

How deep the Father’s Love for us!  He gives it without reservation and without requiring anything at all. The return of mutual feeling is the love that comes more easily. Love is a choice that sometimes is difficult.  How free is my gift of love to others?  This is where I want to focus today, this week, this month, this year.

So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. Heb 4:7, 11 NIV

The refreshment that comes with rest in God is what is often missing when I have trouble giving the free love I want.  Checking boxes and being “productive” is only fruitful if I give time to truly rest in God’s presence.

Lord, free me of distractions to truly rest in you today.  Renew in me the love I had at first.  “You are altogether beautiful.”  Amen

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Numbers 5; Psalm 39; Song of Songs 3; Hebrews 3

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.” (Ps 39:4-5 NLT)

The older I’ve gotten, the faster time seems to go. When I was young and raising a family, I never really thought about how quickly life passes. I pull out the pictures. First steps, first day of school, soccer teams, high school graduation, weddings, and now grandchildren. Where did the years go? Precious years with precious memories. Thank you, Lord, for every one of the memories. You have blessed me more than I can stand. I am overwhelmed by your goodness. There have been hard, painful years but I never walked through one day without you. Even before I knew you, you were drawing me to you. I pray to live the rest of my days praising you and telling others of your great love for each of us.

We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you. (Ps 39:6-7 NLT)

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the times I let busyness get in the way of spending time with you. Even the most difficult days are easier to bear when we’ve spent time together. Nothing in this world has eternal value like the love I get from you and pass on to others. How do I love well unless you’ve loved me first? How do I give to others when I’ve not stopped to let you fill me first? Every day you wait for me. Your word directs my steps, encourages me, imparts knowledge, and wraps around me like a warm blanket. It is in you I put my hope.

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. (Heb 3:12-14 NLT)

Thank you for the sisters in Christ who do life with me. They love me enough to cheer me on, but to also quickly point out and warn me when they see me heading in the wrong direction. Often they see the enemy at work when I do not. If I’m believing lies, they tell me the truth. They listen and do not judge. They encourage me to press on, to trust God, to serve others, and to overcome fear. You have used them mightily in my life and I am so grateful.

Lord, I know each day brings me closer to coming home. My days are numbered. I pray in Jesus name to make the most of each one. I pray to encourage those who need courage, listen to those who need to share, and cheerfully give to others out of the abundance of all you’ve given me. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Numbers 4; Psalm 38; Song of Songs 2; Hebrews 2

For my iniquities have gone over my head;
    like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. (Psalm 38:4 ESV)

Often, I find I can ignore my sins. Rationalize them, excuse them, or maybe compare them to other people’s “worse” sins and come out looking pretty good. Or good enough. Or passable, maybe.

Then I stop and really consider my sins. My iniquities, wickedness, evil, rebellion, pride, heavy burdens, deception, discontent, self-reliance, neglect of doing good, materialism, wastefulness, laziness, and on the list goes. My sins are heavy. They are serious and beyond my ability to resolve. They are not just mistakes to apologize for or minimize.

My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
    and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me. (Psalm 38:10 ESV)

My sins destroy relationships. They place distance between myself and God as I step further away and build a wall of rationalization and guilt. They tear down trust in my human relationships also and love takes a backseat to pride and selfishness.

Once again, I become relentless in my attack of sin as I find myself pondering again the cross. He didn’t die and conquer death so I could live however I please. He faced temptation and suffering so I could have a better life and eternity. He endured suffering knowing that the best outcome required it. I can’t expect an easy life if I look to Christ as my example.

18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18 ESV)

Despite the difficulties, He is there. Ever and always. He has been through it. He walked this earth and faced similar challenges and he is ready to walk us through it. He walks not as a distant helper, but as one intimately acquainted with the daily challenge of human life.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1 ESV)

And, despite the closeness, we can still drift away if we don’t remain diligent.

Thankful. Walking. Vigilance. Learning. Growing.

Stepping in His steps.

 

 

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Numbers 1; Psalm 35; Eccelesiastes 11; Titus 3

I think of full-hearted and childlike abandon to God. I think of the small child stretching free in the warming sunlight. I think of myself. How long has it been since I have allowed my own self to stretch full bodied and free in the Lord, in the light of His face? How long has it been since all of my bones cry out in praise?

Psalm 35 says,

10 All my bones shall say,
    “O Lord, who is like you,
delivering the poor
    from him who is too strong for him,
    the poor and needy from him who robs him?”  ESV

This abandoned, whole self cry of worship speaks to me. You,  O my God, are a deliverer. There is none like You.

 

Eccelesiastes 11

As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb[a] of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. ESV

O, the profound mystery of God and His ways. He works in the unseen and in the hidden. He is life and movement and energy and creativity; He is beauty and breath. I find peace in knowing that I “do not know the way” and yet it is. He does. He breathes; He makes everything. He is at work in ways unseen. I think of this present season. O, Spring. The beautiful object lesson of the unseen work in the darkness springing forth into beautiful life and light. The seed in the ground; the buds on the tree; the mist of green deepening bringing life that was held dormant, secret. I do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb, but I know that it does in the most marvelous, magnificent way. O, praise the work of His hands! For a moment, I rest as that little, outstretched child, in the creative wonder that is He.

Titus 3

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. ESV

I think of my life; I think of the choices stretched before me. I am to be careful to devote myself to good works. I look at their faces, my children; I consider my family, our home. This good work. Am I devoted?  I have rich renewal and regeneration through the Holy Spirit. I breathe. I breathe deep. There is washing through the Holy Spirit; there is mercy and generosity. He is the well that never runs dry; He is the open outstretched arms of grace upon grace. He is the mystery moving in the unseen. Let my belief be evident in the action of my life: be careful to devote {myself} to good works.

Lord, You are goodness and lovingkindness. You are mystery and power. You are the One in whom I exult. Let this be true for me. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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