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Leviticus 24; Psalm 31; Ecclesiastes 7; 2 Timothy 3

It was a day of errands and driving, and a true blessing to spend time with a woman who has long been a mentor to me. We talked about the real meaty things of life, right to the point. She is honest and wise. I’ve known her over half my life and it’s not long enough–I find as we’re both getting older and my own seasons are changing, there is still so much to learn.

10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13, NLT (emphasis mine)

I think about examples–especially in regards to parenting and mentoring. One friend nearly despised his father for the type of husband/father he was–and yet, later in life, became just as harsh and hurtful as his dad. I feel certain he never wanted to become that way, but how did it happen?

My mentor and I talked about relationships and truth and integrity. We talked about perseverance. We touched on legacy, and I considered hers as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is a model of a life lived in love. I thank God for her influence.

When someone sifts through the pieces of life I’ll one day leave behind, what will my story tell? Because my life will tell a story. Will it show Jesus? Will it be defined by love?

I cling tightly to God’s enduring Word.

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 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. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17, NLT

Lord, I thank you for dear friends like family who have helped me and encouraged me, for women who’ve taught me how to love and serve by example. Thank you for your Word that is true and convicts and corrects. Thank you that you love me so much to equip me to do good work. Help me to remain faithful to the things you have taught me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 17; Psalms 20,21; Proverbs 31; 1 Timothy 2

In this day, everything seems public. Social media and reality TV have made the private things famous. But as I read about the virtuous and capable wife in Proverbs 31, I know there was no TV crew following her around, spying on and magnifying her every move. The things that were done in this woman’s life were largely done in private, not in front of an audience. She’s always seemed larger than life to me when I’ve read about her in the past, but as I began to study her and her character, she is not a superstar. She is a servant at heart.

There are no adoring fans around her while she’s spinning her wool.

She’s not in it for public approval for stocking her pantry or getting up before dawn to plan out a day.

She’s savvy, crafty, generous–and true to how she’s wired, making the most of her time, talent and treasure.

And her fashion? Yeah, she’s got dresses of fine linen and purple; but she’s also clothed in strength and dignity.

A friend invited me into a 31-day character study of Proverbs 31, a book called Famous in Heaven and at Home by Michelle Myers (not compensated to mention this book). It took my attention off all the to-do’s and revealed the heart behind it–one of kindness and love.

My days can feel overwhelming if I look at all the items to check off on my list. But if I consider the why behind the what, the burden lifts and there is joy and contentment. Why am I doing the things I do? To love my family and friends. To honor God.

Lord, always help me to keep a right perspective when approaching my tasks. Then I will see the hidden treasure. Help me to be true to who you’ve made me to be–not seeking approval of man, but finding freedom and joy and abundance in living my life for you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Leviticus 9; Psalm 10; Proverbs 24; 1 Thessalonians 3

Last year I read a book that really influenced my perspective. There were many parts that spoke to me, and this one verse was gentle encouragement for a raw heart. Reading it today is calming still.

A house is built by wisdom
    and becomes strong through good sense.
Through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. Proverbs 24:3-4, NLT

Lord, build this house.

Not very much farther down the screen (I read online), these words stand alone:

If you fail under pressure,
    your strength is too small. Proverbs 24:10, NLT

I think on times and things I’ve quit, and times and things I’ve wanted to quit. Even last night, elusive sleep and restless from this time of What It Is, I wondered where is the exit for these tasks I feel grossly unqualified for. I feel that pressure. I feel like I’m faltering. Yes, my strength is too small.

Lord, be my strength.

My child, eat honey, for it is good,
    and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste.
14 In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul.
    If you find it, you will have a bright future,
    and your hopes will not be cut short. Proverbs 24:13-14, NLT

These afternoons, I prepare a warm mug of tea, sweetened with a heaping spoon of honey. I sit and savor the break, the sweet drink. I find sweetness in His Word, and scriptures from memory remind me–oh, taste and see, the Lord is good.

We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:2b-8, NLT

Lord, on the days I take my eyes off you and look too long at the impossible or at the what-if road ahead, I weaken. Learning daily, to be–daily, and to know my limitations are not your limitations. I cling to your promises, grateful for your strength and wisdom. When I feel weak, help me to stand firm in you, keeping my eyes on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Leviticus 1; John 20; Proverbs 17; Philippians 4

End your quarrel.

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. Philippians 4:2-3, NLT

Keep joy.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Philippians 4:4-5, NLT

Don’t worry.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, NLT

Think on good things.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8, NLT

Practice, practice, practice.

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9, NLT

Hebrews 12:1-3 is an anchoring verse to me. Yet, I can’t tell you how often I find myself being tripped up by sin that entangles. Some wounds are slow to heal. Some thoughts hound and hammer. Worries are wrapped in what-ifs, instead of shattered by prayer and thanksgiving. I have never felt more defeated or downcast as when I loosed my grip on hope–the very circumstance in which I needed to cling to hope tighter. (Oh, like Thomas, show me the wounds; let me touch the scars of your hands.)

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3, NLT

My heart and mind cannot afford to gaze at doubt. Some thoughts only lead to slowing me down and tripping me up. Lord, thank you for moving so powerfully in my life. Help me to keep these bullet points of truth top of mind.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Exodus 27; John 6; Proverbs 3; Galatians 2

He already knew what He was going to do.

Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. John 6:5-6, NLT

Philip looks around at what they have–a boy’s lunch of loaves and fish, and a crowd of thousands.

I glance at my calendar, empty grids awaiting my pencil to fill in the tasks–a lot of unknown, and it all feels too big. I know these days will move fast and powerful, and in my own strength, my limited sight and wisdom, I look around at what I have and at what needs to be done. I am thankful and clinging to peace: He already knows what He is going to do.

The people wanted proof and proof, even after their bellies were filled. Miracles are marvelous morsels, but they don’t sustain–only Jesus can.

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” John 6:26-31, NLT

I don’t need the miracles in order to follow Jesus. I know that by following Him, the miracles will come.

Spending time at His feet today, I find peace and rest. He calls me His child, and I am quieted. When urgency and unknown press against me, I fix my gaze upon Him. I listen and there is deep joy. These were the first words I read this morning, in Proverbs 3, Trusting the Lord.

My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
    Store my commands in your heart.
If you do this, you will live many years,
    and your life will be satisfying.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
    and you will earn a good reputation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
    Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
    and strength for your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the best part of everything you produce.
10 Then he will fill your barns with grain,
    and your vats will overflow with good wine.

11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

13 Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding.
14 For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
    and her wages are better than gold.
15 Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 She offers you long life in her right hand,
    and riches and honor in her left.
17 She will guide you down delightful paths;
    all her ways are satisfying.
18 Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
    happy are those who hold her tightly.

19 By wisdom the Lord founded the earth;
    by understanding he created the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the deep fountains of the earth burst forth,
    and the dew settles beneath the night sky.

21 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment.
    Hang on to them,
22 for they will refresh your soul.
    They are like jewels on a necklace.
23 They keep you safe on your way,
    and your feet will not stumble.
24 You can go to bed without fear;
    you will lie down and sleep soundly.
25 You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
    or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
26 for the Lord is your security.
    He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. Proverbs 3:1-26, NLT

Thank you, Jesus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 20; Luke 23; Job 38; 2 Corinthians 8

Help me, Lord, to remember well.

Help me to remember your life-giving rain, your power over the waves, your beauty in the sunrises, your mystery in the stars. (Job 38)

Help me to remember your jealous love for me–your want of my love and your promises to love me back. (Exodus 20)

Help me to remember Christ’s humility on the cross–his submission to your will–to take on my sin and die in my place, and not just my sin, but everyone’s. That my offenses and offenses against me aren’t a burden for me to carry, and the cross is the place to lay them down. And in that is all the sadness; and in that is all the joy; and in that is all your glory. (Luke 23)

Help me to remember you know what I need. You know it before I even ask. Help me to live a generous life in time, talent or treasure–oh, but especially in eager love. (2 Corinthians 8)

Sometimes my focus is on what I have to do today, tomorrow, next week. Sometimes my focus in on past hurts that cut deeply, the memories cut fresh and I wonder if they can ever heal. Sometimes my focus is of loss or overwhelm or wondering why–answers beyond my reach and understanding.

Father God, thank you for loving me as you do. I am looking for you everywhere today. I want you to be my focus. I’m trusting you for healing and peace. I’m trusting you for strength and guidance. Thank you, God, for your word in my hands and in my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 13; Luke 16; Job 31; 2 Corinthians 1

My trust is in God.

It seems like such a simple statement. But how easy is it to claim it?

The Israelites are rescued from slavery, and God, in his mercy, leads them. He took them in a roundabout way, through the wilderness, toward the Red Sea. (Last year, I read an insightful and helpful book called Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan. When I think of the Red Sea, I know there is a watery expanse in front of Israelites, and a pursuing army behind them. There’s really nothing to do at that point but trust God, because He’s the only one who can make a way.)

17 When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Exodus 13:17-18, NLT.

Job gives a final protest and defense of his innocence. (I know from Job 1, he is a man of complete integrity. The Lord even refers to him as a man of complete integrity, calls him the finest man in all the earth, blameless.) So when he pleads his case of innocence and asks these questions, it seems right. (God has His own questions for Job in chapter 38!) But was his defense just his trust in himself?

“Have I lied to anyone
    or deceived anyone?

16 “Have I refused to help the poor,
    or crushed the hopes of widows?

24 “Have I put my trust in money
    or felt secure because of my gold?
25 Have I gloated about my wealth
    and all that I own? Job 31:5, 16, 24-35, NLT

Jesus has a story to tell, and I sit at his feet and listen closely.

Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’

“The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’

“So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’

“‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’

“The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Luke 16:1-13, NLT

You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. Serve God, trust him, work for him. Or be enslaved to money, an earthly focus, greed, an idol. Is it possible this parable is about trusting God?

(The next story Jesus tells is about the rich man and Lazarus. A very thought-provoking, telling read.)

 Paul is crushed and overwhelmed. He and those he traveled with expected to die.

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.2 Corinthians 1:8-10, NLT

There are times I could recount all the things I have done, in my own defense. It points to my (limited and short-sighted) strength. But in the times of overwhelm, of an army and an ocean, of the things I can’t see versus the things I can see–those things point to a great God who is really in charge. He deserves all the glory.

Lord, instead of focusing on my own ability, I want to focus on you. When I think of what I can do, it tricks and traps my mind and causes me to stumble in my walk. Suddenly, I’m trying to figure out all the answers instead of turning to you. Help me to keep my eyes fixed firmly on you. You have called me to certain tasks, and I want to face them in your wisdom and guidance.

Courtney (66books365)

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