Tag Archives: calling

Amos 1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1; Psalm 80

Father God, you are just. You notice wickedness and wrong-doing, and You promise that it will not go unpunished. You defend what is good. Behind Your mighty words, there were people broken by injustice: those sold off in slavery, those holding broken promises, those chased down and slashed relentlessly in anger by relatives–merciless. Oh, you will send down fire (Amos 1-3).

Paul, Silas and Timothy write encouragement. What follows is a big block of copy–and my heart craves brothers like them who would stand and pray on my behalf in my walk with the Lord, to remind me and encourage me to persevere well, to speak of Kingdom and focus and purpose. I take these words and hold them close.

We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. 10 When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him.

11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:4-12, NLT, emphasis added).

An enemy would tear down and destroy, to pronounce worthlessness and abandonment upon the persecuted. But the Lord takes what was meant for harm to call one worthy for His kingdom.

Lord, You are defender, provider, protector. You are sovereign and mighty. You are just. Help me to keep my eyes on You and not to be deceived by an enemy’s words of worthlessness. Thank You that You give me power to do what is right–help me to always keep a Kingdom focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 5-6; Mark 11; Psalms 39, 41

I sit with Gideon this morning.

12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!

13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!

15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”

16 The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”

17 Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. 18 Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”

He answered, “I will stay here until you return” (Judges 6:12-18, NLT, emphasis added).

I notice how Gideon sees himself. I notice he has a lot of questions. I notice his doubts. I notice his need for assurance.

Gideon takes steps that slowly build up trust and confidence–going to get the offering and seeing the angel of the Lord still there; the offering ignited; the task of sacrificing of his father’s bull and tearing down of the Asherah pole; the wet fleece test; the dry fleece test.

That first moment of Gideon at the threshing floor–he was going about life as usual, and the Lord arrives with a hero’s task for him. Gideon didn’t feel ready to take on such a big responsibility. He doubted himself. He doubted the calling he heard. And maybe he doubted God. Did he wonder, “Are you really with me? Will you really be there? In this circumstance, I feel abandoned. Can I really trust you? Can I have a sign? And another one too, just to be sure?” (I placed the Lord’s assurances in bold, so my heart would see.)

In Mark 11, I read of Jesus telling some disciples to get a young donkey–where to find it, what to say if questioned. I notice his authority. And later:

As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” (Mark 11:27b-28, NLT)

Gideon: who felt small and weak, given a hero’s task. The disciples: told where to go, what to get, what to say, and they do it. The religious leaders: threatened and angered, demanding proof of permission. The fig tree: in full leaf, a posture of maturity, but fruitless and immature.

13 He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. 14 Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it (Mark 11:13-14, NLT).

Lord, be with me. Your word tells me you are trustworthy. You are the authority. I’m grateful for your patience with me. I am grateful that you will not abandon me. Help me to keep my eyes on you and to be obedient to your call.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 3-5; Psalm 23; Acts 6

Samuel heard God’s call. He spoke boldly, calling out the sin in Eli’s family.

Stephen was chosen too, known as a man full of faith and Spirit, God’s grace and power.

Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10 None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.

11 So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12 This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. (Acts 6:8-12, NLT, emphasis mine)

Oh, the dangers of manipulation. Crowd rousing. Judgment, unjust.

Eli and Stephen were known by God. One man and his family faced the judgment of God. One godly man faced the judgment of man.

There is only one I stand before in the end, whose knowledge of me is all that matters. The One who gives me all I need; leads, renews, guides, protects, comforts, honors; His unfailing love and goodness pursue me, surely, even in the darkest valley.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever. (Psalm 23, NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd.

I have all that I need.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Thank you, Father.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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1 Chronicles 28; 2 Peter 2; Micah 5; Luke 14

David handed Solomon the plans–equipping him with information that would assist him in the task of building the temple. But it wasn’t just any task–it was a task singled out for Solomon.

God chose David to be a warrior and a leader. God chose Solomon to build the temple.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10, NLT.

In a season of changes, I think on what God has called me to do–and what a true privilege to serve the Lord (oh, that I would keep my perspective clear). That he knows my heart, my desires, my every thought–and he makes the same promise: if I seek him, he will be found by me. He is always present. He is always faithful.

First Chronicles 28 speaks of being chosen, of inheritance, of purpose. It speaks of legacy, of equipment, of heart. Whether the task is one of a king leading a nation or another leading a historical building project for the Lord God (or perhaps the quiet and lasting influence of a mother–building a house as the sanctuary)–be strong and do the work.

I speak this to myself: Be wholehearted. Be willing. Be strong and do the work. Seek the Lord.

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 7; Psalm 137-138; Jeremiah 1; Matthew 15

How hard is it to understand the hand of God in my life?  How many times to I misunderstand the elements of my life and miss the message that He has for me?  Doubt is my enemy.  I do not take the time to examine my own life as the source of my struggles and instead, begin to wonder if the Lord has changed His mind or I have misread His directions.  I am no different than Joshua after his defeat at Ai.

Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! – Joshua 7:7 NRSV

I remember vividly the first time I heard Boney M sing By the Rivers of Babylon. I was sixteen, in Germany visiting my aunt and uncle, alone and missing my family.  My life up until that moment was used to singing songs to God in the middle of the night and crocodile tears were part of my nights ritual.  How many times I thought that God might have forgotten me.

By the rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1 NRSV

This is why God’s Word is so powerful.  God’s call to Jeremiah became my call to intimacy with Him.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV

The Canaanite woman’s expression of faith became my model of perseverance and of hope.

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” – Matthew 15:27 NRSV

Lord, I thank you for the power of Your Word in my life and for the hope that You give me in the midst of my own doubt as to Your presence in my life and to the purpose You have called me.  Without You my life would be lost.  Thank you for calling me every day to a new walk with You.  Thank you for Your grace that calls me and renews me each day to serve You.  May I offer to You today my life that You may use me to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

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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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Exodus 5; Luke 8; Job 22; I Corinthians 9

I’ve heard it said that God’s word is rhema; that is, “It is a word that signifies the action of utterance (my emphasis),” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhema. Not superfluous, surface, or meaningless words. So I submit that neither can we listen passively; rather we should be active listeners expecting God’s word to bear fruit. It is usually easy, at least in America, to hear God’s word spoken, written, paraphrased, and even misquoted. Childhood songs like “Jesus Loves Me,” or “This Little Light of Mine,” are tunes familiar in many homes, daycare centers, and after-school programs. And though I take the words directly quoted from the Holy Bible to be true, I am not always likely to grasp the fullness or the revelation of those words because of familiarity, disassociation, or resistance.

Eliphaz lacked ears to hear God’s heart for loving one’s neighbor as he loves himself. Quoting Scripture, Eliphaz instead talked the entire time; accusing, pronouncing judgment, and mocking suffering Job, who sought to only speak truth. How often, I too have thought, “I’ve got this,” and used the Sword of the Spirit to slash away at imagined demons in the mist only to find wounded innocents in the clearing.

Jesus said in Luke 8:10, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’” I wonder how many of the over 800,000 words, reportedly printed in several versions of the Bible, (words are like seeds), have found root in my own soul’s soil. “The ones by the wayside hear, but the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts. The ones on the rock hear and receive with joy, but have no root and are tempted away. The ones among the thorns hear but the word is choked out by cares, riches, and pleasures of life. The ones who hear with a noble and good heart keep the word and bear fruit with patience (Luke 8:11-15).” Without revelation, I stumble over chapters and verses that do not seem relevant to my modern-day world. Yet, how amazing to hear someone preach on the same passage of Scripture in a way that illuminates God’s will and exponentially increases my faith.

I think my worst error in experiencing the active voice of God is resistance. I may listen to, understand, and even set out on my calling from God. Then I behave much like Moses early in his mission. God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses heard these words – “Tell Pharaoh, ‘Let My people go.’” Yet when Pharaoh did not listen to Moses, but ordered more hard labor from the Israelites, Moses complained to God, “Why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” Just a little resistant? Not a burning bush, not having Aaron by his side, not even given miraculous powers could stop Moses from complaining. I, too, find myself questioning why I struggle in the midst of doing God’s will.

I want to be like the Apostle Paul. He writes to the Corinthians that since he received God’s calling to be a minister of the gospel, he listened to God, and with overwhelming passion, ran “with certainty.”

Lord God, You are a God of great compassion. Forgive me for listening half-heartedly, for failing to seek Your deeper truth, and for resisting Your calling. More importantly, open my ears to hear Your voice and embolden me to do Your will. In Christ’s name.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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