Tag Archives: acceptance

Exodus 13-15; Psalm 114; Ephesians 3

It’s easy to want to chalk a hardship up to an enemy’s plans (and perhaps less easy to one’s own poor choices or inaction). But what if it’s God’s divine hand? Maybe it’s happening just so you know.

Then the Lord gave these instructions to Moses: “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told. (Exodus 14:1-4, NLT, emphasis added)

The things that are out of my control, and the things within my control that are hard to control, can I submit them to the Lord? I think of Erin’s post on Monday, how Moses gave excuses to get out of God’s task–and God, whose plan would further demonstrate who He is. Lord, can I accept what is and seek you in the midst of it?

In Exodus I read as the Israelites complained that they were better off slaves, that they were thirsty–this after they had just witnessed the waters parting and were singing of God’s power. Father God, help me. Help me to remember Your goodness and sovereignty. Fear, dread, even basic needs like thirst can knock the feet from under one. Maybe when I’m undone, I’m relying on my own power rather than remembering and relying on yours.

Paul writes several books of the Bible from prison, and I’d post all of Ephesians 3 here because it is so rich. But I land briefly here:

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 13 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored. (Ephesians 3:8-13, NLT, emphasis added)

Paul sees God’s plan even in prison, and accepts that imprisonment is part of the plan. Paul operates from this perspective and truth. He does what God has appointed him to do. That’s some serious kingdom focus.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21, NLT, emphasis added)

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 27; 1 Corinthians 8; Ezekiel 6; Psalm 44

The psalms are honest in their expression. They give me permission and example to reflect, to speak to reality, to plead. I learn from this.

In psalm 44, I see this honesty, and I am challenged to praise God. To remember well.

They did not conquer the land with their swords;
    it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
    and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
    for you loved them.

You are my King and my God.
    You command victories for Israel.
Only by your power can we push back our enemies;
    only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow;
    I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
    you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long
    and constantly praise your name. (Psalm 44:3-8, NLT, emphasis added)

I am challenged to lay down my confusion, my heartache, my struggle–look at it and call it what it is. To get real and honest in the ugly.

But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.
    You no longer lead our armies to battle.
10 You make us retreat from our enemies
    and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
11 You have butchered us like sheep
    and scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your precious people for a pittance,
    making nothing on the sale.
13 You let our neighbors mock us.
    We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
14 You have made us the butt of their jokes;
    they shake their heads at us in scorn.
15 We can’t escape the constant humiliation;
    shame is written across our faces.
16 All we hear are the taunts of our mockers.
    All we see are our vengeful enemies. (Psalm 44:9-16, NLT)

I am challenged to go before the Lord, boldly. He’s my hope, always.

23 Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
    Get up! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you look the other way?
    Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
25 We collapse in the dust,
    lying face down in the dirt.
26 Rise up! Help us!
    Ransom us because of your unfailing love. (Psalm 44;23-26, NLT)

I know these years I’ve learned to suppress the depth of my feelings in myself and my conversation. I’ve also held back from seeking the Lord. This is a lonely, helpless, hopeless act masquerading itself as strength.

Father God, you’ve been so good to me. I know that no matter what happens, you are with me. I can trust you. I can trust you with the truth of my wounds and suffering, and you won’t turn away. You won’t smirk at my hurt. You won’t avoid it. I can praise you and lament and plead in the same breath, and you still stand. I can whisper and I can wail and I can rage, and you can take it. Teach me how to live, O Lord.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 39; Mark 9; Job 5; Romans 9

Joseph, whose immaturity and lack of tact got him into further trouble with his older brothers, is sold to Ishmaelite traders, and finds himself serving Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. Joseph has lost his freedom, but yet because God is with him, he still succeeds (even when it seems like he continues under trial). God goes with him through this all, and it is evident to those who stand witness.

20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. 22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. (Genesis 39:20-23, NLT)

A man’s son suffers from violent seizures. He brings the child to Jesus for healing when the disciples were unable to do it.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:21-24, NLT)

The disciples argue about which of them is greatest among them, and Jesus shuts it down.

35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-37, NLT)

Joseph’s immaturity and lack of tact got him into deeper trouble with jealous brothers. But still, God used Joseph, grew Joseph, and equipped Joseph for a greater purpose than just a kid brother getting sold out by his family. A child is victim to convulsions and seizures, powerless himself to something bigger than him and those around him. But Jesus, in his strength, authority and power is able–oh, he is able, to do great things.

When Jesus calls another little child into the group as an object lesson, I think on this child. Children are immature. Inexperienced in life. Naive, perhaps. Impulsive. Not all children operate from a moral high ground–not even adults have mastered this. Kids are kinda cute, and it’s likely easier to welcome a child in Sunday school into the fold–but what if it’s the kid in the neighborhood no one likes, or the kid in the classroom that causes constant trouble, or the kid acting like a bully? An adult can be equally unlovely, immature, inexperienced, impulsive, unkind.

Certainly there are circumstances the disciples wanted to shun people, where Jesus stopped and took time.

49 “For everyone will be tested with fire. 50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.” Mark 9:49-50, NLT)

Oh, Lord. Don’t let me lose my salt. Thank you for giving me a Kingdom focus. Thank you for your reminder that we are all tested with fire. Thank you for showing me that you go with me in difficult places, and that you show mercy on those you choose. Thank you for showing me that even while the disciples followed you and loved you, they still messed things up and turned people away. Oh, Lord. Don’t let me lose my salt.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 10-12; Psalm 83; John 4

I recently got results from a DNA ancestry/health test I took. I was unprepared for the depth of feelings I’d feel as I looked at the results and saw a profile of my ancestry–such a gasp of wonder and joy, a glimpse into a past. It was really exciting, and more than that, I felt a connection and belonging to a greater history. There were fun findings–that I’m likely to drink more caffeine than average (true) and that I am likely to be more afraid of heights than others (also true). And it fell short in a couple of places suggesting that I don’t have a widow’s peak (I do), and that I’m likely to dislike cilantro (I buy it weekly–love!).

Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. They talk, and he tells her things about herself she already knew–things about her choices and past. It’s stuff the people in her life might know, that she might even be known for, but that a stranger wouldn’t know. Instead of feeling shame or embarrassment or apathy, she has a kind of wonder, and perhaps relief.

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” (John 4:39, NLT, emphasis added)

She comes to the well every day to fill a very real need (and perhaps much of her life was spent trying to fill a need for acceptance, provision, love, belonging, purpose, fulfillment), and he promises her an everlasting satisfaction. Living water.

I think of my ancestors and I want to know more–their names, their stories, and what they were searching for. What were they leaving, and what were they pursuing that moved a lineage from place to place, and finally here to my doorstep in the woods?

Father God, you will stop at nothing. No distance. No desperation. You already know I love cilantro and coffee. You know the depth of my weaknesses. You know my struggles and my strengths. You know every thought I’ve ever had, every word I’ve ever spoken, and every feeling I’ve ever felt (even the ones I try to keep from myself)–and you don’t flinch. You don’t turn away. You meet me in the place of my need, and I feel like you’re telling me, ‘You can keep coming back to (this place) looking for (understanding, satisfaction, answers, fulfillment, love), but even if it meets your need today, you’ll be back here again tomorrow. I can meet that need once and for all time so that you don’t need to keep returning to (a place) that can’t (heal you).” Lord, I believe you because … you know everything about me, you keep your promises, you are able.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 28-29; Mark 11

I don’t know a lot about Leah–just these few things: older sister, no sparkle in her eyes (and later, she is an unexpected bride, child bearer, and her words lament). Leah, didn’t you see you were part of a plan?

I think about Leah and wonder what happened in all the years that stole her sparkle. Her words groan, “Notice me.” “Hear me.”

She doesn’t see how she fits–mother of nations. She doesn’t even know.

***

I imagine Jacob, young, with a head full of hope and promise, setting out. He has a dream:

13 At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” Genesis 28:13-16, NLT.

Jacob knew there was a plan and he was a part of it. His father sent him off with a blessing. And knowing he was part of a plan (or maybe it was just love!) makes the years and waiting fly by.

18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.”

19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. Genesis 28:18-20, NLT.

***

Did Leah always feel unloved?

Her pursuit to be noticed, accepted, and loved leads her to praise.

***

The reality of broken relationships, love or friendship disregarded and unreturned–they wound. There are situations I can’t fix, or don’t know how to fix, and if I focus my thoughts there, it drains.

Father, I want to focus on your presence and your plan–that whatever the role it is you give me is a piece you selected just for me. Let me praise you for your love, and let me walk this path knowing that you are with me. You are father, you are friend. You are in this place.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Old Testament