Tag Archives: chosen

Isaiah 16-18; Romans 13

A woman I love lost both her parents and her sister within the same year. They were a close family, and this loss was understandably enormous. There were things she said that touched me so deeply. I have not forgotten her words.

In recent years, many events have caused me to examine myself and my beliefs. Where did I place my hope? Who did I trust? So many questions surfaced in a time of change, loss, wonder and grief. I’ve sought understanding in the wrestle. When life as I knew it and believed it to be was turned inside out, it became a time of challenging perspectives and making new connections. I focus forward. I cannot rewrite the story of the past.

11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires (Romans 13:11-14, NLT, emphasis added).

This dear woman lost her family, and many years later, I would come to know that type of void. God reminds me and underscores that I am His. There is a darkness that would delight in distracting me from walking in God’s light, in dressing me in rags of condemnation and wounding.

I meet the Lord at sunrise every day. I belong to the day. I belong to Him. He called me Daughter long before I ever called him Dad. There is shining armor with my name on it, and I am clothed in His presence. It is an embrace.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 38, 39, 52; 1 Peter 2

A contrast of despair and hope.

King Zedekiah’s kingdom is surrounded and starved, and he is pursued and forced to witness the heartbreaking murder of his children and fellow nobles before his own eyes are gouged out, and he is led away–captive. (Jeremiah 39) I read through this passage and Jeremiah 52, and the despair and loss is thick. Names in a book, figures of history–once living, breathing men. We all have a story–about where we come from and where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going. About loss and love and despair and hope.

In Jeremiah, a city is dismantled and destroyed–the temple pillars Solomon had raised, gone. (I catch the briefest glimpse, of pomegranates, a detail recorded.)

These things had been made for the Lord’s Temple in the days of King Solomon. 21 Each of the pillars was 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. They were hollow, with walls 3 inches thick. 22 The bronze capital on top of each pillar was 7 1⁄2 feet high and was decorated with a network of bronze pomegranates all the way around. 23 There were 96 pomegranates on the sides, and a total of 100 pomegranates on the network around the top. (Jeremiah 52:20b-23, NLT)

In 1 Peter 2, a new temple.

And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
    chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
    will never be disgraced.”

Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.”

And,

“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
    the rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”

 

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (1 Peter 2:5-12, NLT)

Father God, I am so grateful for your word in my hands and heart, for your love and direction, for your mercy and provision. I read these words in 1 Peter 2 and I am filled with hope and joy, to be part of something you are creating, to be valued and loved, chosen. You chose me. I want my life to be a song of praise to you. Keeping my eyes on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Amos 4-6; Psalm 55; Matthew 14

It was probably ten or eleven years ago, and my dad wasn’t speaking to me, and my heart ached. One day I was out at the grocery store with my kids and a dear friend. I kept seeing an older man with the brightest blue eyes in the store. We had made eye contact several times, and it seems so crazy now (and maybe even a little crazy then), but I had such an urge to approach him. I parked the shopping cart off to the side in an aisle while my friend stayed by my kids. I walked over to the stranger.

“My dad has blue eyes like yours,” I said to him, awkwardly, and he smiled at me. We talked a little, and at the end he opened his arms to me and hugged me (God, bless that man), and I choked back my tears. I looked at my friend and she was crying.

***

Last year within days after my dad died, I was at the UPS Store, my mind scrambled by a to-do list of so much that had to get done that week, and planning a funeral. I walked into the store directly behind a man, who, when he turned, I recognized as a friend.

“Hey!” he said, “How are you?”

I tried to find a way to speak, to respond, and finally I reached out to him and said, “My dad died on Saturday.” And he mercifully hugged me and let me cry. (Thank you, God, for the loving timeliness of friends running errands too.)

***

35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed (Matthew 14:35-36, NLT).

There are times when the need is so strong to cry out to God, the desire great to hear His voice, or if I could … at least touch the fringe of His robe–but really to have Him sit across from me and hold my hand and hear my heart. Hard days when I cling to His Word that He has a plan, that He loves me, that He sees me, that He’s for me, that He will be with me, that He sings over me, that He will bring good and beauty from heartache and ashes.

I read these verses in Matthew and imagined the scene, to reach out and touch the Lord. To be that close. To be healed.

“If you could meet with any person from the past,” I asked my daughter on a car ride recently, “who would you pick?”

Thankfully, one day, I truly will get to sit across from Jesus, and He will wipe away my tears.

Father God, thank you that you hear me from heaven. Thank you for your sovereignty and great plan. Thank you for blue-eyed strangers and friends on this earth who comfort and love and help and encourage in all of life’s seasons.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Uncategorized

Isaiah 41-44; 1 Corinthians 12

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

I compare myself to others way more than is good for me. I do it for the everyday things, with my body type, how much I weigh, what I am wearing, how my hair and make-up (or lack of it) looks, etc. I do it with my possessions; is my car good enough? Is my house clean enough? Is my phone nice enough? I even do it with my kids – are they acting better or worse than the other kids around?

I have realized that sometimes I also compare gifting and talents; and rather than strengthening the areas that come natural for me, I focus more on what I wish I had.

I’m not sure why I waste my time in the comparison trap, maybe a subconscious desire to be better or maybe the enemy whispering in my ear that I am not good enough. Either way, I usually end up feeling horrible about myself, because inevitably I evaluate my worst when I am looking at someone else’s best; and I will never measure up in that equation.

The truth is that I need to change my focus completely. I need to turn away from thoughts of what I have or don’t have and how I compare to others; and I need to shift back to keeping my eyes on the source of everything. I need to put the emphasis back on God, my Creator, the One who made me as I am for a purpose in His plan.

“But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the lord.

“You are my servant.

You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,

and understand that I alone am God.

There is no other God—

there never has been, and there never will be.

I, yes I, am the lord,

and there is no other Savior…

“From eternity to eternity I am God.

No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.

No one can undo what I have done.”

The lord’s Promise of Victory. Isaiah 43:10-11; 13

I have been chosen to know God and to know that He is the Only Living God. I have been chosen to be in relationship with Him just as I am. I do not need to look to the right or to the left to see how I match up with someone else; I need to look straight into the Father’s eyes and see myself as He sees me.

I have called you back from the ends of the earth,

saying, ‘You are my servant.’

For I have chosen you

and will not throw you away.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:9-10

I don’t need to be discouraged by what I think is lacking in my abilities, I need to trust that God loves me with an everlasting love, that He determined the who, what, when, where, why, and how of my destiny and I am perfect and well equipped for my call on this earth. I need to have faith that He will strengthen me in my weakness and that he will uphold me as I walk the path set before me. He has made me a testimony to His goodness and glory.

Yesappa, Thank You for choosing me for such a time as this. Thank You for always being there for me. Thank you for loving me perfectly. Help me keep my focus on You and not what surrounds me. Help me remember that You are my source and You will provide everything I need to walk in Your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Isaiah 20-22; 1 Corinthians 2

When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.

Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 1 Corinthians 2:1-7

A friend of mine recently expressed that she felt she was the “least qualified” to minister to someone to receive healing.

Though I completely understand that sentiment, especially when around spiritual power-houses, and often feel like that myself, my immediate reaction was to rise up (inside) and say “that’s not true!”

As humans, we often get ourselves mixed up in the comparison trap – I look at you and instantly see how awesome you are. Then I look at myself, and even though I have some great qualities, I know the deep dark secrets lurking in my heart, and start believing that I will never measure up. I forget that you have some less than perfect things in your life too. I compare the best of you, to the worst of me and then deem that to be truth.

But the truth is that the same wonderful, powerful, glorious Spirit is in all of us who believe in the resurrected power of Jesus. He chose you AND he chose me, regardless of my weaknesses (maybe even because of them).

It doesn’t matter that you may have prayed for thousands of people, that you have witnessed many people healed, that you have been on the {foreign} mission field for most of your adult life, that you are active in your community spreading God’s love to your neighbors, that you care for your children as a stay at home parent, etc.; we are all the most qualified when we say “yes” to God’s call, regardless of what that commission is.

God chooses me, not because I have it all together – because let me tell you before you figure it out on your own – I most certainly don’t. God chooses me because I am the perfect person for the job. I am the most qualified, to touch the heart of that particular person in that particular moment for that particular purpose…and because I am willing. I am perfectly qualified because Christ, living inside me, makes me perfectly qualified.

God isn’t expecting me to be well studied in Theology or have tons of practice in Biblical counseling or have years of ministry experience under my belt. God is expecting me to have a relationship with Him, to “rely on the power of the Holy Spirit”; He is expecting me to trust the simplicity of His Message.

I can’t put trust in my own words or wisdom. I need to fully trust in the power of God so that others will do the same. I need to follow Jesus, modelling His actions as revealed in the Word, so that others can follow Him. I need to be confident in the wisdom of Holy Spirit expecting His Rhema Word to fill my mouth with plain words that will reveal the mystery of God to those who are ready to hear.

Though I do have a “spiritual resume”, the reality is that my only qualification is God in me.

Yesappa, Thank You for choosing me in my weakness to accomplish Your purposes on earth. Thank You for equipping me with everything I need to make me the most qualified for Your call on my life. Help me walk with You, trust You, and rely on Your power for each mission You set my feet toward, so that everyone I encounter recognizes You rather than seeing me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Isaiah 41-42; Colossians 1

Reading Isaiah is like sitting back and watching his spirit move and hover across the land. This mighty one who stirs kings, permits victories or defeats, reduces, scatters, chases. He summons generations from the beginning of time. This mighty one. He is powerful and he is gentle.

It’s a whispered reminder: chosen.

It comforts and empowers: don’t be afraid; don’t be discouraged.

With you. Your God. Strengthen and help. Hold you up.

Words spoken to a nation and a people from a different place and time.

Idols, still, sit silent. Still as empty as the wind.

Who will hear these lessons from the past
    and see the ruin that awaits you in the future? Isaiah 42:23, NLT

Reading Colossians 1 is like sitting back and watching his spirit move and hover across the land. This mighty one who goes out all over the world in a word, fruit bearing and life changing. This mighty one.

New Testament whispers: chosen.

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:6-14, NLT.

It empowers and encourages. Christ who lives in you.

24 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. Colossians 1:24-29, NLT.

Thank you, Lord, that you are with us and won’t abandon us. Praying for brothers and sisters around the world who cling to you and hold up your word in the darkest places.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 20, Psalm 107, Isaiah 47, & Revelation 17

Think you are in control?  It may be an illusion.  What we see from our viewpoint is only the outline of the picture; the shadings of meaning have yet to be sketched.  Perhaps that is why God is so absolute.  So exact.  He speaks His truth – words that hold this world in space and its beings in time. How can we see His plan? For instance, in war God is not concerned about numbers. It is an illusion to believe that a multitude of enemies outnumber those who call Him Lord.  Most of us cannot see or feel the angelic presence of God’s mighty army that shadows the people whom God protects.  Also, through devastating storms of personal tragedy we are borne and over dried, cracked ground of fearful thoughts our feet are led, often unaware of Him who is coloring in the details of future hope.  

As Psalm 107 declares, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”  If we would only see with a clear eye.

When asking why all this pain, it doesn’t help to look at the canvass of another.  Seeing those green pastures, fine houses, and carefree expressions as you pass by may pick your heart and cause you to say, “What’s fair about that?”  Perhaps, though this is just another illusion, a pretty picture on the outside, static and still.  What have we to do with that?  It’s the difference between buying a framed landscape to hang on the wall and purchasing real estate on which to build a house.  The latter demands our focused attention.

Our daily life is often a battle of good over evil, but we are called chosen and faithful who walk with Christ Jesus.  The illusion of peace for the multitude who do not know God’s plan is the weapon of deception that will blind them to the bright hope of redemption.  Yet, the mind which has wisdom is in the person whose trained eye sees past the drawn images of this fading life and immerses himself in the completed portrait of the body of Christ.

Church, layman, pastor, leader, parishoner, sinner – we are all called to seek meaning in the mysterious images of our times, our own image a colorful impression in God’s art. As the song proclaimes,”I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. “

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