Tag Archives: community

Genesis 47-48; Psalm 25; Galatians 3

Joseph has been heavy on my mind–not only because of the readings, I’ve heard his story preached online a lot recently. I consider him, his trials and testing and perseverance in light of a bigger plan.

This weekend marks a year since my father’s death, and a year since my whole world shifted. Joseph likely never imagined the turn of events that one day as he trotted down at his father’s request to check on his brothers at work; I look back in contemplation at a year I never could have imagined.

My focus with Joseph was a list of questions: Did you know your brothers hated you? What were you thinking as they sold you as a slave? What went through your mind when Pharaoh’s wife set you up? And those years in prison–how did you get through each day of wait?

But today, I focus on what God is doing. Certainly, I’ve seen his hand in my own life this past year–even recently, when our dog got loose. She’s been gone several days. I sat on the couch last night under a wave of gratitude for a God who loves me and loves my dog, who has taken a heart-aching situation and used it to open doors to prayers I’d been whispering to connect with others in my community. In the process, he’s sparked a new flame in my heart. He is molding me into someone new.

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust. (Psalm 25:1, NIV)

And this is how I can look back at a hard year, grateful, that his hand has never left mine–in fact, he holds me. He has not forsaken me.

Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:4-5, NIV)

Lord, how I’ve learned what little I can control, sometimes not even my own tears. You have taken my head knowledge and moved it into my heart to show me so very personally that you are sovereign and your ways are good. When trials cut deep, you are with me, catching every tear, and working every moment for my good and your glory. Thank you for holding me and my family, and I pray that you’ll bring our dog home to us soon.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

This past summer I went through my email inbox and cleaned house. Daily, the inbox was so full that if I missed a day of checking or deleting, I was overwhelmed and consumed in no time. So many things in life already vie for my attention that it seemed like I was losing my focus–and I want to be intentional in my relationships (my family and my friends right in front of my face), in my service (at home/work, at church and wherever God leads) and in my walk with the Lord (seeking him, growing closer to him, obeying him). The subscriptions were a symbolic mental hustle. I needed to pare down.

The scriptures in Jeremiah make me think on what happens when priorities get shuffled. How the Lord will speak, but a life can be so distracted or a focus otherwise engaged, that He gets put aside. Where a people pursue conflicting interests and worship other things, a merciful God calls out, “Stop!” and they can’t hear. Or worse, they burn the warning.

In James 3, controlling the tongue–and I think long on influences (what I read, what I watch, what I hear, what examples I imitate, whose advice I seek, whose company I keep) and I put these before the Lord for his guidance.

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18, NLT.

A summer favorite blogger advised (against burnout by) sorting through the to-do for the essentials and then cutting out extras until there was peace. This is where I find myself, looking at the non-negotiable activities of this season and committing to those, building from there–being careful not to tip the scales in favor of burnout and hustle. For me, at least, God is harder to hear in the overwhelm.

Father God, when I read these scriptures, I see how easy it is (and how costly!) to lose sight of you, to get so far off track (preoccupied or busy) that your voice is drowned out. Lord, I put before you my thoughts, my relationships, my dreams and my actions for your guidance. Help me to discern what is good and fruitful and pleasing to you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Habakkuk 2; 2 Corinthians 7

WE…the overwhelming pronoun used in 2 Corinthians is not “I”, it is “we.” 2 Corinthians is a letter written by a man who is in love with God and his community of fellow believers. This kind of love must have been a shock to the world. It’s the kind of love that one might expect from a close-knit family, but not from people who are unrelated. It would be reasonable to expect that the early Church would turn on each other and disband in the face of opposition and persecution.

Do I share this fierce love for my fellow believers or am I quick to pull away when things get difficult and avoid conflict? Paul leans in:

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter… yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.”  2 Corinthians 7:8-9

Somethings are simply worth fighting for. Human conflict is risky, but truth wins. Paul modeled what he described in his previous letter to the church at Corinth:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

This is the very love God showers down on me everyday through the work of his son, Jesus. It’s more real than the breath in my lungs and the beat of my heart.

Holy Spirit, teach me to love like you do. Help me to lean in towards others and not pull away when difficulties arise. Help me to receive the truth as well as speak the truth in love. Give me a heart that is humble and willing to risk not being understood or loved in return. And relieve me of my  crazy need to be right. May your truth win in all my relationships. Amen

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of your the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

Klueh

 

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Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

A year ago, we were dealing with a daughter’s health issues. A year ago, I didn’t realize she was two weeks from hospitalization. A year ago, I had no idea she would receive a diagnosis that was a lifetime sentence. And that was just the beginning of what the year would hold.

A year later, I sat at a table across from a woman who was selling me textbooks. The books sat stacked off to the side. She was a fellow innie, so we easily sailed through the niceties and entered into meaningful conversation. We had both experienced a redirection in the past year. I soaked up her words like a sponge.

I could relate to things she was saying. I felt a heart connection to her experiences. She was honest and vulnerable and so real. As I listened to her story, I loved her even more. I felt rejuvenated and refreshed by her words and her encouragement.

When I read of Timothy in 1 Thessalonians 3, I think of her and our time together that day.

and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. 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. 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4, NLT.

The books? She gave them to me. I never imagined what that day would hold, and I’ll never forget–and not just her generosity, but the healing her words held.

12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 13 May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, NLT.

Father God, thank you that at the right times, you send encouragement, strength and healing. Thank you for sisters in Christ who love by example, overflowing.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 19-21; Acts 2

Now in those days Israel had no king. Judges 19:1a, NLT.

Community is my word for the year this year, and it stood out in these chapters, but not on the first pass. This reading left a series of impressions on leadership, sin, warfare, division, fighting, and loss–even in victory.

Eleven Israelite tribes unite against the tribe of Benjamin. They consult the Lord for direction.

22 But the Israelites encouraged each other and took their positions again at the same place they had fought the previous day. 23 For they had gone up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the Lord until evening. They had asked the Lord, “Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?

And the Lord had said, “Go out and fight against them.” Judges 20:22-23, NLT.

And while victory was eventually theirs, they still felt a great sting–not only were thousands of lives lost in these battles, but they also recognized the potential impact of losing one of the twelve tribes.

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Judges 21:25, NLT.

People will follow something: a good leader, a bad leader, or their own passions.

The apostles preach the saving Gospel and many lives are changed. The Holy Spirit inhabits hearts.

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Acts 2:37-39, NLT.

Community.

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47, NLT.

In the Old Testament, a community rallied within the tribe of Benjamin to support the sinful deeds of a few, while a larger community (the other eleven tribes) fought for justice and the integrity of the whole. In the New Testament, believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to sharing meals together, and to prayer.

These scriptures give me lots to think on regarding influence, leadership, and community.

Lord, I want your Holy Spirit to be my influence and leadership. I thank you for revealing a healthy view of community, and for bringing other believers into my life who share the same vision. I want to live in the awe of who you are and to experience life with you. I praise you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 21-23; Hebrews 8

A friend stopped by yesterday for a mug of hot tea. My house was chilly because I had been out all morning and didn’t get any fires started. Outside–rain all day. We chatted fast because she was pressed for time.

In the past, she had come by for a summer swim, but this was a first for her to sit inside my house and look around. She asked about where we used to live, and we talked about the differences: field life versus woods life. We talked about God and His orchestration of events that bring us where we are.

“That [moving season] was a dark time in my life,” I said to her. “But it was the closest I had been to the Lord.”

“33 It was I who rescued you from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 22:33, NLT.

She and I looked out the living room window at the trees around my house. We talked about the seasons, each one beautiful in itself. The trees are stunning to me, even in winter.

I thought about life seasons and change. I thought about faith walks and a future unknown. I thought about His Word all the days through all the years–how it has fed me and strengthened me, comforted me and spoken to me about Him, about love, about truth.

10 But this is the new covenant I will make
    with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
    and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:10, NLT. (referring to Jeremiah 31)

Lord, thank you. Thank you for hard days, for great days, for rainy winter days. Thank you for a window full of wonder–of the things you’ve done, and the things you will do. Thank you for showing me through your word how I can and that I can praise you every step of the way.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 28-31; Philippians 2

The craftsmanship of the ephod.

12 Fasten the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod as a reminder that Aaron represents the people of Israel. Aaron will carry these names on his shoulders as a constant reminder whenever he goes before the Lord. Exodus 28:12, NLT.

The making of the chestpiece.

15 “Then, with great skill and care, make a chestpiece to be worn for seeking a decision from God. Exodus 28:15, NLT.

A sense of purpose and community.

42 “These burnt offerings are to be made each day from generation to generation. Offer them in the Lord’s presence at the Tabernacle entrance; there I will meet with you and speak with you. 43 I will meet the people of Israel there, in the place made holy by my glorious presence. 44 Yes, I will consecrate the Tabernacle and the altar, and I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. 45 Then I will live among the people of Israel and be their God, 46 and they will know that I am the Lord their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the Lord their God. Exodus 29:42-46, NLT.

Skilled craftsmen, equipped by God, working together.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!

“And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make.” Exodus 31:1-6, NLT.

Unity. Community.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2, NLT.

Equipped.

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. Philippians 2:12b-13, NLT.

For a purpose.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

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.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11, NLT

To the glory of God the Father.

Courtney (66books365)

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