Author Archives: Rebecca

Genesis 29-31; Luke 9

Longing and love. Blessing and trickery. The ways of man and the way of God.

I have been reading Genesis in my personal Bible time- and pondering quietly the ways of man and the way of God toward man and through man.

The tangled relationships puzzle me.

Leah.

30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.

31 When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben,[c] for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.”

The tug of war; the push and pull of woman(women, really) to woman (women) in Genesis 29-30.

My heart hurts, even as I know I do not fully understand. Why is this okay, I wonder?  

Rachel

34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle and sat on them. Laban felt all about the tent, but did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household gods. Genesis 31 ESV

The beloved woman of Jacob. Deception. I am not told why she felt compelled to take and hide these gods. I study a bit in my study bible- but still find no definitive answer. She secretly sits, and no man knows what she has hidden.

The Lord blesses and establishes Jacob. Flocks, and children. Wives. Then, it is time for him to leave. At God’s command:

 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” Genesis 31

Laban cannot divide between what is his and what is not. All that he sees, he believes belongs to him.

Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for their children whom they have borne? Genesis 31 ESV

His eyes are blinded to truth and to Jacob.

Yet, even so, my heart grieves:

[x] Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home.  Genesis 31 ESV

There is an emptiness as he leaves. And, I think, perhaps, he lost it all by immersing so deeply, so fully in his greed and gain. He would not, of his own, let Jacob go freely to live into what was rightfully his.  I know it is more nuanced than that- but I think, this is part.

Lord, You show me through Your Word, and through my heart- how much man needs you- how much I need You. Prone to trickery, deceit, blindness, greed, lust, ungodly gain- what are we without You? O Lord, do not leave me to myself. I see how it is the life-giving gift of grace through faith that gives anyone the ability to live a different, better way. Your way. Jesus, captivate my heart with love for you. Amen

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

 

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Job 37-39; Psalm 103; Revelation 21

It is Christmas week, and everything is happily upended in a flurry of wrapping paper, sweets, happy greetings, gatherings, and the otherwise controlled chaos my large family generates– along with the refining always imminent as we rub against each other in the day to day with holiday routines (or non-routines) at play.

The year turns the pages on final days. The New Year comes…

And khe who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I lam making all things new. Revelation 21 ESV

New. The crisp, clean page. The fresh start. The New Year. Something so fresh and invigorating – in the shift of numbers; the change of dates.

I am not one to eagerly, loudly harken a new year with anticipation– too prone am I to dread and fear. But deep instead, there is the irresistible tingle and the joy in the new. I trust each day to the Lord and seek to take small steps in Him faithfully. I want to give Him my New Year and trust Him to make me new.

2 yBless the LORD, O my soul,

and zforget not all his benefits,

who aforgives all your iniquity,

who bheals all your diseases,

who credeems your life from the pit,

who dcrowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

who esatisfies you with good

so that your youth is renewed like fthe eagle’s. Psalm 103 ESV

Psalm 103. The comfort and peace flows.

These words: forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, renews.

Most of all- to me- right now: renews. The restoration sings from the Psalm and how blessed the people of God are to have the life-giving regeneration and restoration of God at work in this life.

As I struggle on the other side of Christmas, but entering the hopefully quiet pause of “break week’- a time to evaluate, reflect, prepare, and ponder- this verse ministers to me:

For he knows our frame;1

he sremembers that we are dust. Psalm 103 ESV

I utterly cast myself upon the mercy and full understanding of God. I am dust. It is good to rest in my finite weakness and know Him to be God. The reading from Job fully emphasizes this as God answers Job out of the whirlwind and begins to develop the greatness of His Own Expanse and Infinite knowledge. It is beyond comprehension- and it is in worship, I ponder.

I will be small and reflective in this quiet week before “new” is before me: New Year; New Semester; Specific New Changes in my family’s life; New Choices, Focus, and Habits.

He makes all things new. Praise be.

Thank You, Lord for bringing life in every area. Help me walk with You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

 

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Job 4-7; Psalm 99; Revelation 11

Job has always been an inexplicable book to me; one in which I tread carefully, reverently, lightly.

The three friends and their wrong counsel can spin me round in such a web of confusion. It can sound so right. Was Job spun round? The shattering rebuke from the Lord at the end of the book instills fear in me.

In Chapter 4, it is Eliphaz who speaks:

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:

“If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
Yet who can keep from speaking?
Behold, you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God[a] your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope? ESV

I will say, I walk carefully with my words- because I often think of Job’s friends.

Job teaches me the unsearchableness of God; the darkness that can and maybe will surround each one of us; the truth of a faith that is greater than self; greater than understanding in moments of pain, torment, suffering, and sorrow.

5 “Oh that I might have my request,
and that God would fulfill my hope,
that it would please God to crush me,
that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
10 This would be my comfort;
I would even exult[k] in pain unsparing,
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should be patient?
12 Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?
13 Have I any help in me,
when resource is driven from me? ESV

Job teaches me the value in a heart that cries out to God from a place of pain; from a place of integrity. Integrity doesn’t always mean perfect uprightness- it can also mean authenticity; realness; realization; rightness.  In other words, when I see myself for who I am before God and declare it so- I am operating with integrity.

Job’s suffering is painful to witness; it is painful to watch. In this way, it is a shining reflection of grief as a whole. I have precious friends who have suffered greatly. They are no stranger to great grief; again and again. And the Lord has provided them such profound, heart-felt wisdom through their sufferings. I often feel that I am on holy ground. I was with them this past weekend- and had opportunity to discuss grief. My friend has shared how hard the first year is; how every season- grief is fresh and new; unexpected and uncontrollable. Scents, light, color, traditions- it all brings it forward. And we talked about how people struggle with those who are grieving; people just want those grieving “to move on” or “to be over it.” I shared that I think people find it hard to see someone in pain. It is hard to witness their suffering. People grow impatient with their suffering. It is especially hard when it is inexplicable, uncontrollable, and maybe- inconvenient. People suffer, and I walk with God when I walk gently into that space and don’t turn away.

711 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or a sea monster,
that you set a guard over me?
13 When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,
my couch will ease my complaint,’
14 then you scare me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I would choose strangling
and death rather than my bones.
16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.
17 What is man, that you make so much of him,
and that you set your heart on him,
18 visit him every morning
and test him every moment?
19 How long will you not look away from me,
nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
Why have you made me your mark?
Why have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my transgression
and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
you will seek me, but I shall not be.” ESV

I handle Job delicately. It is a reminder to handle those who suffer and grieve with tender care; with the utmost humility; with the full realization that God alone is at work in the depths of a human heart- and that heart is holy ground; holy! ground. Tread carefully.

Psalm 99:9

Exalt the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy! ESV

Lord, help me to be tender and true. I lift up my precious, dear friends who have just navigated yet another “first year after loss.” I pray for them, Lord. Richly bless them.  I am grateful for You, Lord. Help me walk tenderly with those who grieve and help me, Lord. Be merciful to me. 

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Esther 1-3; Psalm 139; Revelation 1

10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.

15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.

20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him.  Esther 2:10-11;15; 20 ESV

Lord, let me follow after you with such trusting integrity.  Lord, Esther was beautiful in form and in quiet obedience. In all her ways, she was pleasing. May my obedience present me as beautiful, as pleasing unto You, the true King! May my trust be as single-eyed as hers. You are in control!

Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it. Psalm 139:4-6 ESV

Psalm 139 blankets me like a gracious coverlet, and I nestle under its encompassing warmth. Curling up, as a small child, in resting trust.  Known inside and out, before, behind, what is yet to be.

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. Psalm 139:11-12 ESV

Darkness is as light to you, O Lord! You are light. There is nothing hidden from you. My safety in You knows no bounds.  There is no fear of dark with You.  Wrap me in Your love, O Lord.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail[b] on account of him.

Even so. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:5-8 ESV

Lord, I walk in freedom in You! I walk in Your love. Help me to realize the full depth of that freedom and love! In Esther, I see You “who was”, in Psalm 139, I am immersed in You, “who is” and in Revelation 1, I glory in my God “who is to come!” You are coming with the clouds and everyone shall see You! Help me to fully bow before You now and to walk continually in trusting integrity before You all of my days.

Rebecca

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Daniel 10-12; John 20

Daniel 12 and John 20 juxtaposed to each other.

And one key word sings: RISE.

But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise[i] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”  Daniel 12 NIV

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake…those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens…those who lead many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever.”

Awake and Shine like Stars forever and ever.

 

One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”  Daniel 12 NIV

“astonishing…”

My heart awakes.

13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” Daniel 12 NIV

“You will rest…then… you will rise”

RISE.

 

For as yet they did not [b]know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. John 20 NKJV

“He must rise.”

RISE

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to [c]Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the [d]disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.  John 20 NKJV

I have frequently pondered the joyful astonishment in this section of John 20. The quick recognition. The beloved realization.

“I am ascending….”

Lord, there is so much grief, sorrow, and loss in this world and in this life. Yet, in You, we rise. Holy Spirit, only You can make resurrection life real and tangible to me; to all those who are lost; to Your people who suffer; to me who can be wrapped in the whirlwind of the world.  Your truth is astonishing. You are astonishing. Joy, gladness, everlasting life, goodness- is utterly astonishing. Astonish me, Lord. I love You. Help my life to reflect You and my love for You. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Ezekial 28-30; John 10

25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” (Ezekial 28 ESV)

I am not fully comfortable in my neighborhood; naturally introverted and very private, there are many times I want to retreat to the woods (again – as some may know I lived deep in the woods; indeed, juxtaposed right up against a national forest for 6 years prior to our move to this state). And I sometimes feel neighbors’ contempt. We do not own this house, and we certainly do not fit the parameters of this neighborhood. We are sometimes the objects of scorn. But I treasure the above verses. First, I treasure the promise of security. Second, I treasure the Lord’s great love. No matter what, we (my family and I) are a people for His own possession- and we are loved. We are not loved because of our social status, our home upkeep, our car (or car care), or our physical beauty. We are loved because Jesus. This is precious to me, and I hide myself in this protecting shelter.

John 10

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  ESV

I think about the scornful voices. I think about many choices I make and paths I choose. Ultimately, I must follow my Shepherd’s voice. There is something to be said for being true to that voice; to the leadership of Jesus in my life. Fun and seemingly harmless choices for so many- I sometimes know I just can’t. I can’t. Scorn from without the church; scorn from within. There is a witness (in my spirit), and I choose to (and I must) be true.

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ESV

Jesus does not flee when He sees the wolf coming. He offers His very Life. Safe Pasture. Protection. Good leadership. Security. He promises: I know my own and my own know me.  O, deepen this intimate knowing in my life, O Lord!

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” ESV

Over many years, as I grew up in a faith of my own, plucked out of a family with no Savior, I worried I would be snatched. I will never forget the first time I stood in church and heard (and sang) the song: In Christ Alone by the Gettys: “No power of hell; No scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand…”  Spirit-infused reassurance and truth flowed like molten gold from song to soul. And still, to this day, does.

Lord, sometimes I don’t understand why I must hold to a specific conviction- other than knowing I must. I must be personally faithful to Your Voice in my life. Help me to hear You, O Lord. Deepen my intimate knowing of You. Thank You for security in You. Help me understand what it means. Hide me in Your shelter from the scorn of man. Your very life is invested in me. Help me understand. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Jeremiah 50-51; 2 Peter 3

Jeremiah 50 and 51 proclaim woeful ruin and the winnowing destruction of Babylon. So great, that Jeremiah instructs at the end of 51:

61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: “When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words, 62 and say, ‘O Lord, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever.’ 63 When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates,64 and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.’” 51 ESV

Yet, like an oasis in the middle of grievous ruin and righteous vengeance: Jeremiah 50:20

20 In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.

And I stop short. I ponder… what would it be for one to search for iniquity and there be none? No sin. None found. An oasis of peace; of life; of pardon.

I Peter 3 (The Day of the Lord Will Come) also details the coming vengeance of the Lord; a sound warning; a telling of destruction:

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn. But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be dililgent to be found by him without spot of blemish, and at peace. (2 Peter 3: 11-14 ESV)

And the words “at peace” catch hold of me. What means this peace in relation to me? An oasis of pardon in my life? at peace held in the cross of Christ and His resurrection life? I ponder the peace I find in that small section in Jeremiah: the peace of no sin; no iniquity- and this is one wildly glorious aspect of life in Jesus… that one day we will be free from the body of this death. And free from sin and iniquity.

1 Peter 3 also reminds that the Lord’s timetable is not my timetable.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3: 8-10 ESV

I realize I do not want to be exposed. What will remain? What gold tried in the fire? I know it is all grace, and I find myself small before Him.

Lord, you are coming, and the enemy wants Your people (me) blind, confused, and deadened. Your Word exhorts that we are to be holy and blameless. Lord, there is no power within me to produce holiness. I need Your Spirit; I need Your grace. Have mercy on me, a sinner. Under the mercy and in the grace of the cross, Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

And just a wee bit of fellowship here (as a P.S. from me to you):

This song- from this album- speaking to me today (and tonight). I pray it speaks to you, too. It is all yours, O God. And without you, I can do nothing.  This week I had a desperate experience- where I had to just give it up and surrender. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. And as I leaned into God- I leaned into His arms. Literally. And I found Him there. I found myself. He undertook- and in Him- it was so. He carried me through. And in my life- I realize I need to find myself saying again, again: “It is yours, Lord. Do what You will.” And, I need the reminder. I need to lay it down. All down. God be praised.  Let my life be more than smoke and lights!! I will tell you: I found peace in that moment of helpless surrender.

 

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