Tag Archives: bravery

2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6

I took a Saturday self-defense workshop recently. I learned a lot (I’ve forgotten a lot, too!). Our group had hands-on practice and drills. At the end of the session, we formed a circle, and one by one, each of us took a turn in the center to “battle” those of us forming the outside ring with kicks and punches. It was a simulation of a situation where one stood against several. The instructor had a way of encouraging us to take action when we hesitated. He bellowed loudly, forcefully, and commanded, “GO!”

I think on moments in life when I had felt uncertainty, fear, hesitation, intimidation. Moments (at a table instead of encircled in an alley) where I had to face a foe–whether human or situational: to take on a responsibility, to address a conflict, to speak truth, to be accountable. In some of the most stressful moments of my life, I can practically guarantee that I wouldn’t have wanted to be there. But want or not, there I was.

Paul found himself in situations I could only describe as outrageous. How many times had he stared death in the eye? How many times did he go head-to-head with evil? He spoke from experience and reality. I read his words in The Message:

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

11-13 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (2 Corinthians 6:1-13, MSG)

Paul didn’t waste words. There’s a lot he wanted to share, and his message is concise and urgent.

Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, MSG)

Lord, help me to carry your word with me every day of the week.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Uncategorized

Amos 7-9; Matthew 15

The Sovereign Lord showed me a vision … the chapters open and Amos shares what he saw. And I notice an intimacy between Amos and the Lord. The Lord shows him things. The Lord speaks to him and with him, “Amos, what do you see?”

***

12 Then Amaziah sent orders to Amos: “Get out of here, you prophet! Go on back to the land of Judah, and earn your living by prophesying there! 13 Don’t bother us with your prophecies here in Bethel. This is the king’s sanctuary and the national place of worship!”

14 But Amos replied, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’ 16 Now then, listen to this message from the Lord …” (Amos 7:12-16, NLT)

Amos was just a regular guy, going to work, but the Lord called him with a special job, with a word that others didn’t want to hear. They told him, “Get out. Don’t bother us. This is not the place for that.”

***

I get an insight into the minds of Jesus’s followers, his disciples.

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” (Matthew 15:12, NLT)

Or regarding the Gentile woman …

23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

(… I imagine Jesus taking the stance the disciples would have at this time … sorry, you’re not one of us, no blessing for you, no time for you … did they see themselves in this interaction?)

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

( … We are the children, and you aren’t. You’re not worthy …)

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed. (Matthew 15:23-28, NLT, emphasis added)

The message behind the words Jesus speaks seems to demonstrate the attitudes the disciples felt. They were bothered by her. She was not one of them. She wasn’t worthy. “Make her go away.”

When Jesus walked this earth, he spoke honestly into situations, made people uncomfortable, offended, but spoke the truth. He showed his followers how to be merciful and honest, how to heal and feed. His words still exhort.

***

I was at the county fair the other day with my youngest. We were on our way to see the chicken exhibit. We walked past a woman who was leaving her booth, and I stopped to chat her briefly. We talked on a superficial topic when suddenly she looked at me and spoke purposefully, and her words filled my every space of my heart.

“God had us meet today on purpose,” she said as we shook hands and parted. And I left feeling encouraged and strong and relieved. I was refreshed by her honesty and bravery to speak a truth to me, a stranger.

***

Lord, you called Amos from his job with a word and a task, and he was obedient. I am grateful for truth. I am grateful for people who are brave and obedient. Thank you, Lord, for your word and your example and your great love.

Courtney (66books365)

1 Comment

Filed under 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Exodus 1; Luke 4; Job 18; 1 Corinthians 5

When I was 18 years old, like many people my age, I packed up way too many of my “precious” belongings, stuffed them inside my family’s slightly beat up and wearied minivan along with my two parents and I and moved two states over for college.  I had always prided myself on being an adventurer, a strong, independent woman not afraid to travel all over the world and brave enough to go on many journeys (long and short) alone, so I expected a measly move from Maryland to New Jersey to be a piece of cake.

Boy, was I wrong.  From the moment I stepped on campus, I was smacked in the face with some very real social anxiety and fear of letting people in.  As a freshman, I spent much time in my room alone, afraid of letting the people just outside my door in to my life and my heart.  By the time I graduated four years later, I had grown in ways my freshman self would have shuddered to think about.  I was able to form many friendships that were deeper and richer and more beautiful than anything I had ever experienced all because I took many (often small) steps in boldness.  God used my time in college to teach me boldness and bravery in areas where my comfort zone was very – well – comfortable.  I learned that while being bold may look like many different things, it always means taking a step out of my comfort zone and towards God.

15 Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver.[c] If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.

18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”

19 “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”

20 So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. – Exodus 1:15-20 (NLT)

Woah. These midwives actually defied the orders of the Pharaoh.  They stood up for what is right with incredible boldness and were a part of God’s incredible plan for the Israelites.  And the best part?  God blessed them with families of their own because they were obedient to Him.

Lord, teach me to follow you boldy, even if it means doing the terrifying thing. 

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,[a] where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’[b]

Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’[c]

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’[d]

12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’[e]

13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. – Luke 4:1-13 (NLT)

This is crazy!  If I were tempted in the ways that Jesus was, I would not have been able to resist.  In fact, I know I have faced these same temptations and given in to them.  Yet, Jesus boldly refuses the taunts of the devil and decides to do the less glamorous, least satisfying, and most unexpected thing and turn down the (probably incredibly enticing) offers from the devil.

Lord, give me the boldness to turn down the daily (and often easy and inviting) temptations of the devil. 

I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother.[a] You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship.

Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit.[b]And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church.[c] I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed[d] and he himself[e] will be saved on the day the Lord[f] returns.

Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.[g] So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread[h] of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread[i] of sincerity and truth. – 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 (NLT)

You know when your friend is behaving in a way that you know they shouldn’t, but you don’t say anything for fear of facing their wrath or a rift in your friendship with them?  Well, that is exactly what is happening here except, instead of not saying anything, Paul boldly calls out his brothers and sisters in Christ for their sins.  He does not do so to put them down, but he does so with a bold love that could only come from being in fellowship with Christ.

Lord, teach me to boldly love my brothers and sisters enough to call them out when I see them stumble. 

God has taught me time and time again that often if I take a step forward with even the teeniest bit of boldness, he will grow me in leaps and bounds in ways that I could never have imagined.  God gives us so many examples of boldness and bravery in His Word and these examples inspire me and push me to grow.  Boldness looks different for everyone; for me it might look like saying hello to someone that I would not usually be brave enough to talk to.  For the Hebrew midwives in Egypt, it looked like refusing to obey the orders of the Pharaoh to kill all the male children that were born.  Whatever this boldness may look like, God uses it as a part of his perfect plan and that is incredibly exciting.

 

Emma (emmakumpf)

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Corinthians, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Job, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Genesis 12-15; Psalm 148; Mark 5

Things I learned about Abram today:

  • He was obedient. At 75 years old, when the Lord told him to move on, he did. Packed it all up and set out.
  • He acknowledged God. When he set up camp near the Canaanites, he put up memorial altars to God. (He set up another altar when he moved his camp to Hebron. He also gave a tenth of the goods he recovered to Melchizedek.)
  • He sinned. When Abram got to Egypt with Sarai, he was worried he’d be killed and devised a plan of his own to keep himself safe. It was a lie.
  • He valued peace and relationships. When he and Lot realize their families and animals are getting too big to stay together: “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:8b-9, NLT.
  • He is brave. When Lot is taken by warring kingdoms. Abram mobilizes his 318 men born to his household and pursues them. That’s 318 versus an army. Genesis 14:14-15. (And he is victorious!)
  • He was faithful and righteous. And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:6, NLT.
  • He needed reassurance sometimes, just a mere 2 verses after being called faithful and righteous. But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” Genesis 15:8, NLT.

Things I learned about the Lord today:

  • He always has a plan.I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3, NLT.
  • He loves (still) even when (Abram) sinned. God protected Abram (and Sarai!), despite Abram’s effort to take the situation by his own means. There’s no record of what else happened, but this: 17 But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” Genesis 12:17, NLT.
  • He reminds of his love and promise. 1After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” Genesis 13:14-17, NLT. (And later: Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” Genesis 15:1, NLT.) The Lord is trustworthy and faithful.
  • Even when He seems silent, He is there. There’s no mention of God instructing Abram how to defeat an army. But from this, even in the quiet of the Genesis 14 verses, we know He is there:

19 Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing:

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
    who has defeated your enemies for you.” Genesis 14: 19-20, NLT

  • Psalm 148 is a beautiful song of praise for all that the Lord has done.
  • And in Mark–He is merciful. Jesus approaches the tormented and scary demon-possessed man and heals him. 19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” Mark 5:19, NLT. And to the fearful woman who reached out to touch the Lord’s robe for healing: 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” Mark 5:34, NLT.

Wow, Lord. Just sitting here with Your Word today is a comfort. You remind me of who You are and what You can do. My heart is full of praise for You, and comforted by knowing You love me, no matter what. Thank You for Your protection, mercy, love, patience and plan. Thank You, that even against big odds, You can do bigger things. You are the peace that carries me.

Courtney (66books365)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

2 Samuel 10, 2 Corinthians 3, Ezekiel 17, Psalms 60,61

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHOSE REFLECTION IS SHINING THROUGH TO ALL? I have always enjoyed going to the carnivals and entering the fun house only to be surrounded by the goofy mirrors! Each one shows a completely different distorted appearance causing laughter accompanied with a twinge of embarrassment, thus forcing me to quickly find the “normal” mirror to ensure that my true image has not been altered.

32562_441480423975_1895679_n

2 Corinthians 3:18 “And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord.  And as the spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.”

COURAGE:  Confronting Opposition Under Restraint Accepting God’s Endurance

In 2 Samuel 10, Joab is confronted with having to fight not only the Arameans, but also the Ammonites.  he spoke to his brother, Abishai and in verse 11 he says, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me. and if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you.” 12) “Be courageous!  Let us fight bravely to save our people and the cities of our God.  May the Lord’s will be done.” 

Joab knew that the final outcome was in God’s hands, yet he stepped up in obedience and used the strengths and intelligence that had been given him to fulfill the Lord’s will.

Up until a couple of years ago I was extremely nervous to pray in public places for fear of what someone might think.  I had raised my boys to pray before meals and bedtime, yet when out and about I realized I was not being consistent.  It was then that I began in more confidence praying aloud at restaurants, at the bus stop asking God to give them a good day, in the car when passing an accident, and even in the stores when we encountered an argument! (Which, because I raised such awesome kids that last part rarely ever occurred.  HA HA!)

One Sunday, shortly after I began implementing this outward prayer into our lives, a man approached me at our church and said, “I was at the pizza place the other day and I did not know who you were but when I watched you and your children bow your heads and give thanks for your meal it brought me to tears.   I have been undergoing some rough times lately and your action caused me to seek out a church to begin finding deeper connection with God.  It wasn’t until I saw you here today that I realized you were that woman.”  He went on to thank me for standing up for Jesus by that simple action and shared that He believed I was used  to bring about God’s will in his life.  I am still in contact with him to this day and he has an amazing walk with the Lord and has been used in great ways to bring others to Christ!

I was not called to fight an enormous battle in the desert to exemplify bravery, but I have been called to draw closer to God and stay courageous throughout the attacks.  I also must remember that HE is in control and has a victorious plan in sight.

Psalms 60:6-9

“God has promised this by His holiness: ‘I will divide up Shechem with joy.  I will measure out the valley of Succoth.  Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine.  Ephraim will produce my warriors, and Judah will produce my kings.  Moab will become my lowly servant and Edom will be my slave.  I will shout in triumph over the Philistines.'” 12) “With GOD’S help we WILL do mighty things, for He will trample down our foes!”

Father, thank you for the gift of freedom in which I can come to you anytime, anywhere and fellowship directly with you.  I pray that if that freedom were ever to be taken away, that I would remain courageous in speaking and praising your name regardless of what outcome I humanly feel may occur.  Allow me to rest in you and obey your word so that all distortions of the truth that may surround me will be deflected as I stand and solely reflect upon you.  Please, open up the eyes of others to reveal to them the answer to the question of ‘whose reflection is shining through to all!’  May it always be yours and not my own.  Giving you thanks and praise God, in your precious name, Amen.

Live2love4Him4ever

Erica~

2 Comments

Filed under 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, Ezekiel, Psalms