Tag Archives: choices

Exodus 30-32

If Aaron knew …

Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come. Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” (Exodus 30:7-10, NIV, emphasis mine)

If Aaron knew the plans being discussed behind the scenes, would he have participated, encouraged, enabled the things he did?

Moses was getting instructions from the Lord. The Lord names people, tells Moses that he is equipping them with honorable tasks and special skills to do the things he as planned for them. So many people get to participate in the Lord’s plan, get to contribute meaningfully to a people’s future–creating things of beauty, leading them in reverence–all things they were specifically chosen for and given knowledge and ability to accomplish.

But when Moses didn’t come back soon enough, the people grew impatient. And Aaron, one of them who had been set apart for something greater, participates in something lesser, detestable even, than what God would have for him.

He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:4a, NIV)

And his excuse? When you know the truth, it’s pretty lame. Even if you didn’t know the truth, it’s just lame.

22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. (Exodus 32:22-25, NIV, emphasis mine)

The reading today has me in deep reflection. I want to be attentive to the Lord, to be available for tasks he has for me, to honor him with my life. But sometimes my attitude, words and actions aren’t in alignment with that desire.

If I knew what the Lord was planning, behind the scenes, the plans he had for me, would my impatience, immaturity, or lack of restraint derail me from something better, meaningful, God honoring? At first glance of the subheadings, I imagined I would write something about the idols we craft. But here I find myself thinking on how stupid moves and pressure can quickly take one so very far for what God wants for him.

If Aaron knew what God had set aside for him to do, would he have been so quick to fashion a golden calf instead?

Lord, help me to make better choices.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Corinthians 13; Psalm 101

I’ve asked myself a lot of questions this year: What am I afraid of? Why do some circumstances elicit such a strong response from me? Who are the people influencing me, and what is their influence? What would success look like in this area of my life? What’s holding me back? Am I living with a kingdom focus?

A year ago, I started running, and when I say running, I mean I tried to run up to the top of my driveway and back. It took me three attempts to run to the top without stopping. I was thirty-five pounds overweight and hadn’t exercised in over ten years. I committed the first month of “running” to just running one round-trip lap of my driveway. The next month, I added another lap. The month after that, a third. A year later, laps turned to miles. I could have stayed where I was that first month, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Paul once referenced giving milk to new believers because they weren’t ready for meat. The Bible talks of God’s grace in preparing his people for difficulties they wouldn’t be ready to handle on a first day. And here, Paul challenges and encourages:

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature.

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:5, 7-9, 11, NLT).

I think on kingdom and character. David’s psalm shows me he thinks of it too.

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip (Psalm 101, NLT).

In recent years, my family has lost many relatives and friends to death. In reflection, their lives spoke in death of what mattered to them in life–and one day, mine will too. Who do I want to mature to be when I’m eighty? The answer tells me what I need to start doing now. Those choices speak for me when I’m gone.

Lord, David and Paul are like dear brothers to me. Thank you for giving me family in the pages of Your Word when I lost people from my life. Thank you for Your Spirit in me, guiding and correcting and challenging me. I’m even thankful for the heckler in my head, who tries to defeat me every day. Only in you, Lord, can an enemy’s taunt turn into fuel for victory.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 17-19; John 15

Jehoshaphat got it. He followed the example of his father. He strengthened Judah; didn’t worship idols; sought God; didn’t follow Israel’s evil practices. And good things came his way. He became more powerful; had great riches and was held in high esteem; the fear of the Lord kept other territories from warring with him. When he had his son marry Ahab of Israel’s daughter, I wondered if he was courting trouble. After all, Israel had evil practices in a former paragraph.

Jehoshaphat meets up some time later to feast with Ahab. It seemed a bit chummy, and I wondered where this was leading.

Then Ahab enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead.

“Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” King Ahab of Israel asked King Jehoshaphat of Judah.

Jehoshaphat replied, “Why, of course! You and I are as one, and my troops are your troops. We will certainly join you in battle.” Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.” 2 Chronicles 18:2b-4, NLT (emphasis mine).

Jehoshaphat is still a God’s guy, I reasoned–see, he wants to get the Lord’s opinion. Four hundred prophets encourage the fight and assure success.

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.” 2 Chronicles 18:6, NLT.

Yeah, Jehoshaphat’s got this … until he doesn’t. A prophet of the Lord does speak and speaks against the attack. I’m surprised that shortly after Jehoshaphat and his men are in a battle, and Jehoshaphat is wearing a kingly target.

28 So King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle. 2 Chronicles 18:28-29, NLT.

At the start, it seemed like Jehoshaphat had so much going for him. Focus. Example. Promise. How did he go from that to this?

30 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had issued these orders to his chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel! Don’t bother with anyone else.” 31 So when the Aramean chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But Jehoshaphat called out, and the Lord saved him. God helped him by turning the attackers away from him. 2 Chronicles:30-31, NLT.

It was subtle. A political union. Camaraderie over a meal. Identification in unity. Pursuing the popular opinion.

Jesus tells us he is the true vine.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.” John 15:4-6, NLT.

There are times in my life the red flags wave warning over friendships. How long before I’m wearing the target on my back for the enemy’s focused attack?

Lord, it’s not like I’m oblivious to the influence of others. Sometimes there is clear warning that I write off–I’ve got this; I know Jesus. Haven’t I also cried out to you because of poor alliances? Jesus, help me to keep my eyes on you. Help me to follow you and bring glory to you, even when it’s hard.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 12; 2 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 19; Psalm 64-65

Choices.  We all have to make a choice.  Will we choose obedience or disobedience, right or wrong, to follow our flesh or God’s Spirit?  And each choice we make comes with a result.  When the result is not favorable, we say the choice or decision has consequences.

 

Every day I make several little choices.  Today, again, I stand at a crossroads.  Do I follow my own desires or do I open myself up to the opportunity, the possibility that my God might know better than me?

 

When we pick up the story of David in 2 Samuel 12, he has already made his own choices.  Read what the prophet says are the results of those choices:

 

Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you…The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the LORD, the son born to you will die.”  (vv. 9-11, 13)

 

David made a series of choices.  At a time when Kings go to war, he chose to stay behind.  Knowing it was wrong to covet another man’s wife, he chose to take her anyway.  Upon discovering she was pregnant, he chose to bring her husband home to cover up his mistake.  When her husband refused to sleep with his wife, David chose to have her husband killed.  One simple choice turned a man from God’s choice as king to someone whose household is filled with calamity.

 

Choices made following our own flesh can lead to the valley low, but choices made following God’s Spirit, lead to His mountain high.

 

Father, keep me from making choices of my flesh.  Help me to follow Your Spirit, always.  Even in this, our current situation and circumstance, when everything “seems right,” help me to make godly decisions and not ones following after my own flesh.  Thank you for sending your Spirit to live inside of me.  He always tells me what is right and which direction to follow.  Help Him to speak to me now, that I would follow where You desire for me to go.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Heatherpotts5

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Ex. 39; John 18; Prov. 15; Phil. 2

Filigrees and gems. Rich color and finery. Garments beautifully made. Names engraved like a seal. Holy to the Lord. This is Exodus 39.

Jesus is betrayed and he is questioned about his teaching. Pilate asks,

“So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” John 18:37 NLT.

In Proverbs 15, it’s a view of a walking path splintered at choice–on the one side, the things God detests, and fools belching, trash feasts, trouble, and crushed spirits. The other side, understanding, gentleness, a hunger for knowledge, a continual feast, life.

  • A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway. Proverbs 15:19 NLT
  • Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path. Proverbs 15:21 NLT
  • The path of life leads upward for the wise; they leave the grave behind. Proverbs 15:24 NLT

There was a time I never thought about the path I was on. I followed the map that was handed to me, until Jesus redirected my steps.

In Exodus, the priests wore garments with the names of the tribes of Israel engraved upon the gems. And in the New Testament, Jesus, my high priest, bears my name engraved upon his hands.

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 NLT

A phone call this past weekend showed me how a path can seem so far, and yet so close at the same time. That map I once held is really only a choice away from me.

Oh, God, help me to always seek and choose truth.

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. Philippians 2:12-18 NLT, emphasis mine.

Hold firmly to the word of life.

Courtney (66books365)

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