Tag Archives: abiding in Christ

Genesis 24; Matthew. 23; Nehemiah 13; Acts 23

Genesis prayer. A servant is tasked with a quest–to find a wife for Isaac. I am amused at his prayer for guidance, only because I see my own appeals to God to have things look the way I want them to so that I know I’m headed in the right direction. I love that his prayer was answered before he even finished praying. Lord, help me to see you in the solution and direction, even if it doesn’t look familiar or the way I imagined. (God hears me.)

12 “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. 13 See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. 14 This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”

15 Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. (Genesis 24:12-15, NLT, emphasis added)

Matthew conviction. Jesus confronts the Pharisees–who hold more to their rules for appearance than to obedience of heart. Dear God, help me to examine myself to be free of ways that offend you and to delight in that which you delight. (God shows me my errors to set me straight, because of his great love and mercy.)

Nehemiah purge and restore. Systems gone wrong. Identifying problems and setting things right again. My own focus on simplifying physically, and setting right emotionally–aligning my heart and abiding in Christ, clearing out physically and spiritually. Purge. Restore. (God gives me eyes to see and strength to change–to redirect or purge those things and actions that distract and lead astray. He gives me vision and strength.)

30 So I purged out everything foreign and assigned tasks to the priests and Levites, making certain that each knew his work. 31 I also made sure that the supply of wood for the altar and the first portions of the harvest were brought at the proper times.

Remember this in my favor, O my God. (Nehemiah 13:30-31, NLT)

Acts protection and purpose. Paul finds himself in the middle of a fight whose focus changes on a whim. His life is in danger. The Lord appears, encourages, protects him for a purpose. The Lord’s purpose will prevail. (I can find myself in a battle and in his will, and he will not abandon me. He sees me. He encourages me. He protects me. He provides.)

11 That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.” (Acts 23:11, NLT)

Thank you, God, that you hear my prayers and your answer paves a way ahead of me. You love me so much to warn me from traveling harmful paths and taking others with me (I set you as a seal upon my heart). You show me the corruption and error of old ways and that they can be purged and focus restored. You remind me that no matter the battle around me, I am kept by you, protected, valued, for a purpose and for your glory.

Courtney (66books365)

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Thank you!

Thank you for journeying through the Bible with us in 2019.

We’ll be back here tomorrow, ready to start again.

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Job 38-39; Psalm 149

In his challenge to Job, the Lord’s abilities stir a cheer from my heart. As he lists what only he can do, I feel peace. I feel joy. I trust him.

31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars—
    binding the cluster of the Pleiades
    or loosening the cords of Orion?
32 Can you direct the constellations through the seasons
    or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?
33 Do you know the laws of the universe?
    Can you use them to regulate the earth? (Job 38:31-33, NLT)

I sit for this time and remember how he has orchestrated uncanny details in my life–a phone battery strong and unaffected after more than three hours of GPS (when its energy is generally sapped by a few podcasts and a Map My Run excursion); a captain’s bell buried deep underneath clematis vines; an encounter with a woman recovering from stroke, whose ability to speak was unhampered long enough for her to encourage me in a battle she was witnessing unfold that I was unaware of; a dear dog named Ruth who really and truly was an answer to my heart’s desire. I can go on and on.

I seek him and I find him. I trust him. I praise him.

Praise the Lord!

Sing to the Lord a new song.
    Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.

O Israel, rejoice in your Maker.
    O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King.
Praise his name with dancing,
    accompanied by tambourine and harp.
For the Lord delights in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them.
    Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds. (Psalm 149:2-5, NLT)

I am humbled by his accomplishments–the universal, the mundane.

Lord, every year as I pass through your Word, I learn more about you, and more about myself. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT)” Thank you, God, that you love me so much to provide guidance and instruction for my good and your glory. Your Word is light and truth and hope. “For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. (Romans 15:4, NIV)” Thank you, God, for words that give hope and encouragement in times that require endurance. You are life-giving, strength and stamina. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, NIV)” You spell it all out and present it for the taking, generously, freely, and it is a feast for my heart and soul.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 43-45; Psalm 135; John 15

I have to admit, I am not an avid gardener. As much as I love the fruits of my labor at the end of the summer, I just don’t have the green thumb I wish I did. I am not patient nor willing to put a lot of time in it!
The pages of John 15 in my bible are worn from reading and re reading over the years. What has been difficult to understand is the part that even the good, well producing branches are still sometimes pruned and cut by the gardener in order to produce more fruit. Just like with my vegetable garden, the only way to control growth and promote new fruit flowers is to prune. But pruning is a painful process. It can be painful to the gardener and the branches. As a beginner gardener myself, I always have a hard time knowing exactly what to prune, how far back to cut and how frequently. I worry over it and am often way to conservative with my pruning to the point that my fruit growth is stunted. But God is never afraid to do the pruning and he always knows just when to prune and how much.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”
How and when this pruning- changing, molding, cleansing is done is completely up to the gardener.  Apart from his pruning and nurturing, growth is stunted, slowed and even stopped. Because I am still learning this process in the garden, often my vegetables are not as fruitful as they could be or even die three quarters of the way through the summer. I recently learned that where I go wrong with the pruning in my vegetable garden is that I am not careful with where I make my cuts. Instead of making small cuts to the branches I make large cuts to the branches and stop the growth altogether. But the Lord always knows exactly where and when to cut.
For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
The process is simple. Not easy but simple. Staying close to the vine is the only way receive life. Jesus is that vine.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
And what happens to those who don’t stay close?
Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.”
Our fruit production is simply to bring glory to the Lord. The mark of a true disciple is by the fruit that they produce but this is not simply a matter of the wills. It requires daily dependence on the Lord and reliance on Christ for strength and life, day in and day out. It requires daily obedience in order to abide and remain in Christ and produce fruit that brings glory to the Father.
When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
I am comforted when I read this passage. I can’t produce fruit on my own and I’m not responsible for the pruning process but only to remain in Christ and obey. Neither are an easy or painless process but remaining attached to the vine assures me complete security and life.
From the archives. Originally published on November 11, 2015.

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Hosea 9-11; Revelation 2

The readings speak of a love turned tepid.

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” Revelation 2:2-4, NLT.

At the end of a year, I’m still running–to keep up with a course load, to school my kids, to manage a house and other responsibilities, to serve at church, to cultivate friendships, and on and on. A lot of my days are just focused on a moment. I try not to look too far ahead, or linger too far back.

There are words of sexual sin and food of idols, of wrong teaching on one side of the scale, and words acknowledging hard work, endurance, suffering, and faithfulness on the other side. A warning to listen.

I know I’ve been so busy at times it seems like I don’t slow enough to listen long enough to hear. Yesterday, I sat in a heap on the floor and prayed–and not the kind of prayer while I dry my hair and pack up books and rush out the door. I just sat–and realized then it had been a long time since I was so still before you.

“Oh, how can I give you up, Israel?
    How can I let you go?
How can I destroy you like Admah
    or demolish you like Zeboiim?
My heart is torn within me,
    and my compassion overflows.
No, I will not unleash my fierce anger.
    I will not completely destroy Israel,
for I am God and not a mere mortal.
    I am the Holy One living among you,
    and I will not come to destroy.
10 For someday the people will follow me.
    I, the Lord, will roar like a lion.
And when I roar,
    my people will return trembling from the west.
11 Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt.
    Trembling like doves, they will return from Assyria.
And I will bring them home again,”
    says the Lord. Hosea 11:8-11, NLT.

He is the Holy One living among (us).

Lord, I want to abide in your presence and listen to you. Whatever idols fight for first place in my life, show them to me. I fool myself thinking that all this busyness is living–I miss you. Help me to be fully present and intentional in my time with you and with others.

Courtney (66books365)

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