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Exodus 37; John 16; Proverbs 13; Ephesians 6

When Bezalel fashioned the hammered gold with his fingertips, it was holy work. The golden rings, the cherubim, the almond blossoms, the incense altar–his work for the Lord is not forgotten.

29 Then he made the sacred anointing oil and the fragrant incense, using the techniques of a skilled incense maker. (Exodus 37:29, NLT)

God gives these talents. He gives purpose. He gives provision. It is for his glory. Holy work.

He supplies the armor, and it serves a purpose and is made of this–truth; His righteousness; peace of the Gospel; faith; salvation; His Word. It is up to me to take up this armor and use it. He shows me my real enemy–all else is just distraction to take my eyes off a target, to become lost and ineffective.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18, NLT)

Holy work.

20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. (Ephesians 6:20, NLT)

In chains. Enslaved. It’s not a circumstance or a title–it’s about kingdom and calling. One body, many parts, and all essential.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. (Ephesians 6:5-9, NLT)

I return to the Lord’s feet again and again. I listen closely as he tells the disciples, and they don’t fully understand, and I take notes because I forget and get distracted–he’s speaking.

22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (John 16:22, NLT)

What is that joy? Is it not truth? The truth of his being and presence and promise.

31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31-33, NLT)

Lord, you are my rock. I can stand firm upon your word–it’s truth. Help me to keep a kingdom focus, to love you and serve you with all my heart. To walk into the tasks you have prepared for me. To rest in the truth and assurance of your promises. Thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 23; John 2; Job 41; 2 Corinthians 11

I take note in Exodus of justice, refreshing, and annual festivals. I smile because I know in John, Jesus will turn water into wine. I imagine the Leviathan in Job–monstrous and mighty. And in 2 Corinthians, Paul boasts of weakness. But there’s more–guidance, caution.

20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you … 32 Make no treaties with them or their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.” (Exodus 23:20-22, 32-33, NLT, emphasis added)

23 Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. 25 No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart. (John 2:23-25, NLT, emphasis added)

22 “The tremendous strength in Leviathan’s neck
    strikes terror wherever it goes.
23 Its flesh is hard and firm
    and cannot be penetrated.
24 Its heart is hard as rock,
    hard as a millstone.
25 When it rises, the mighty are afraid,
    gripped by terror.
26 No sword can stop it,
    no spear, dart, or javelin.

33 Nothing on earth is its equal,
    no other creature so fearless.
34 Of all the creatures, it is the proudest.
    It is the king of beasts
.” (Job 41:22-26, 33-34, NLT, emphasis added)

19 After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools! 20 You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! (2 Corinthians 11:19-20, NLT, emphasis added)

I consider God’s provision and protection, and man’s choices (oh, what of my own?) that pitch a trajectory of sin and idolatry. Jesus, who walked this earth and came to save, who knows people down to their very heart. A monstrous beast, Pride, the king of beasts (taking great creative liberties here). And Paul’s common sense pleading to correct poor vision–why would anyone choose to be enslaved, robbed, taken advantage of, powerless, abused or insulted? These sound like choices of brain fog and deceit.

Lord, I think on the Passover celebrations woven throughout your word, to celebrate a salvation from slavery, to celebrate your might and protection–you make a way, and you make a way for me too. Help me to keep clear vision, a kingdom focus, to be aware of your guidance and counsel, to heed it, to not be duped by the deceit of sin. You are good, and you have good planned for me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 16; Luke 19; Job 34; 2 Corinthians 4

It’s a very old saying: Enough is as good as a feast. I think on God’s provision for the Israelites as they wandered with Moses in the desert. They longed for what they held as abundance in slavery, but God had something else to show them–who He is.

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. 14 When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. 15 The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was.

And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat. 16 These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.”

17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. 18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. (Exodus 16:11-18, NLT, emphasis added.)

And in the very next paragraph, Moses tells them not to keep any manna overnight. But some don’t listen, and they wake to find their spoils spoiled, rancid and maggot infested. What good is abundance gone to waste? This spoiling is a physical manifestation of a hidden heart issue–and there are many. A lack of trust. Fear. Greed. Insecurity. Pride. Unbelief. Control.

Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector and notorious sinner, was a very rich man. When Jesus comes to his house and Zacchaeus is face to face with him, he is a changed man.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” (Luke 19:8, NLT, emphasis added)

Next in the reading is the parable of the ten servants, each given something to steward in the master’s absence. Jesus tells this story to the masses who had gathered to hear him speak, to correct their impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. I think of this parable often as I consider what the Lord has given me to steward. I wrestle.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT)

For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Dear God, thank you that you provide for me, and it is always enough. Thank you that in your word, it’s mentioned that the manna tasted like honey wafers, and it tells me that you delight in pleasure and share that delight with your people. Thank you for reminders to steward what you have given me well, and that abundance unused is waste–not only food in the fridge that goes bad, but clothes folded but rarely warn, books owned but unread, pots in a shed unused season after season. Thank you for the reminder that what is here doesn’t come with me to heaven and will one day be gone. But mostly, thank you for keeping your Kingdom focus in front of me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 10; Luke 13; Job 28; I Corinthians 14

What is in front of me–a stubborn leader, a swarm of locusts, a thick darkness. What the Lord reveals:

“I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can display my miraculous signs among them. I’ve also done it so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and about the signs I displayed among them—and so you will know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 10:1b-2, NLT, emphasis added)

He has a reason for the resistance. (Display, display, know–He shows so I know. Father God, give me a Kingdom focus.)

A group of believers is murdered. A tower falls taking lives with it. A leafy tree looks healthy but is fruitless. A woman is afflicted 18 years, held in bondage by Satan.

“Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” (Luke 13:2-4, NLT)

Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’

“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:7-9, NLT)

24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’ (Luke 13:24-27, NLT)

He has a message, a warning. Tragedy strikes any time–prepare your heart. Perhaps success (or failure) isn’t so much what others see, but the fruit of what we leave behind. Evil separates.

Panning for gold, smelting metals, seekers looking to the ground sifting dust for treasure and missing real riches. Look up. Look around.

23 “God alone understands the way to wisdom;
    he knows where it can be found,
24 for he looks throughout the whole earth
    and sees everything under the heavens.
25 He decided how hard the winds should blow
    and how much rain should fall.
26 He made the laws for the rain
    and laid out a path for the lightning.
27 Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it.
    He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.
28 And this is what he says to all humanity:
The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
    to forsake evil is real understanding
.’” (Job 28:23-28, NLT)

Lord, I set aside the rush of the day to sit with your word. Help me to see your kingdom at hand and to honor you in my thoughts and actions.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 3; Luke 6; Job 20; I Corinthians 7

Moses is out tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He sees something out of the ordinary: a burning bush. He approaches it, curious. His whole life is about to change. (God gives vision and mission.)

Jesus is healing people. Some people come to him because they need his help. Some people stand back waiting to find fault and accuse. Jesus chooses his disciples, and gives them practical advice on how to live well, how to live with a Kingdom focus. (He gives direction/purpose.)

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:46-49, NLT)

Job’s friend Zophar goes deep into discussion about the brevity of life–a wicked man’s short-lived pleasures and a just God’s eternal reward. (God is sovereign.)

Paul speaks to marrieds and singles. He speaks to everyone about their current station and serving God where they are, as they are, doing work and influencing in the place they are. Paul encourages to remember the point:

29 But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. 30 Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. 31 Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.

32 I want you to be free from the concerns of this life … 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. (1 Corinthians 7:29-32a, 35, NLT)

God speaks to Moses with a vision and a mission. Jesus chooses his disciples and equips them with truth that lasts–he doesn’t leave them to flounder and wonder; he’s specific and practical and challenges worldly thinking. While I have a hard time overall with Job’s friends’ conclusions on how life works, God is sovereign and He is just–I can put the trust of consequences fully in His hands with peace that His will will be done.

Lord, don’t let me complicate life. Help me to keep a Kingdom focus. I trust you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 46; Mark 16; Job 12; Romans 16

I was sick for a week in January. The next week, I tried to resume my regular running schedule with a new brand of shoes, and I developed shin splints within days. Benched from my run, I used that time to heal and to track down a pair of my discontinued favorite shoes. Then last week, I had two wisdom teeth extracted, and I’ve been waiting for the pain to subside to go back to my run. It’s been a month since I logged any consistent miles.

My daughter and I talked about intentions and discernment. I used the example of running–that I can want to be a runner, but I’m not a runner if I don’t run. Maybe that example lends itself to other areas–to be hospitable, generous, helpful one must offer hospitality, generosity, help–otherwise can he claim to be those things? Isn’t a man what he repeatedly does?

Paul lists the names of people he has remembered for their actions:

Phoebe, she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.

Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home.

Mary, who has worked so hard for your benefit.

Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did. (He mentions dear friends and coworkers for Christ.)

Apelles, a good man whom Christ approves. Tryphena and Tryphosa, the Lord’s workers, and dear Persis, who has worked so hard for the Lord. Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and his dear mother, who has been a mother to me. (Romans 16:1-13, NLT, excerpts for space)

In Genesis, Jacob journeys to Egypt with his entire family. The scriptures list his sons and their children, and I am impressed with the multi-generational potential and impact of actions and attitudes. Jacob is moving his family line for a time to Egypt (where he will die).

Oh, Lord, the power of example is not lost on me, and I’m thankful to know men and women who love you and work hard for you–they inspire me and encourage me. Help me to get honest with my heart about my own thoughts and actions, and where they lead.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 31; Mark 2; Esther 7; Romans 2

For I have seen how Laban has treated you. (Genesis 31:12b, NLT)

This is the God who holds me. He is loving. He is just. He is generous. He is good.

He sees past an outward infirmity and goes straight for the heart.

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:8-11, NLT)

He enters places others deem themselves too good for, and he ministers to the sick–but by outward appearance he dines with sinners.

17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17, NLT)

Pharisees distance themselves. Their self-righteousness puffs them up as better than others. They miss the point.

In God’s goodness, he gives me guidance and provision. He gives me rest.

27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:27-28, NLT)

In Esther, Haman’s wickedness is revealed; and in Romans, Paul addresses sin and hypocrisy.

All of these chapters today are rich and full–a feast for my heart. I grab words for a first course, and then return for more. But there is no rush at this table. He invites me to dine, sits with me too. Calls me daughter.

He hands me a rock and asks what I will do.

Some people throw rocks in judgment or punishment. Some people use rocks to build a boundary. Some people raise rocks as a monument. And others proclaim a covenant over them.

45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. 46 Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. 47 To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew).

48 Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” 49 But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us.

51 “See this pile of stones,” Laban continued, “and see this monument I have set between us. 52 They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. 53 I call on the God of our ancestors—the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of my grandfather Nahor—to serve as a judge between us.” (Genesis 31:45-53, NLT)

Father God, you give me choice. You hand me this rock as a gift. How I love you for your guidance, your grace and your great mercy.

Courtney (66books365)

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