Tag Archives: community

Numbers 6-7; Hebrews 13

I remember the first time I left the kids with a sitter–the instructions, the notes, how to reach us. A friend did that with me too, when she and her husband were taking a trip and wanted me to care for some things at their home. A list: remember, remember, don’t forget.

Words in Hebrews cause me to pause and reflect. Keep on, remember, remember, don’t forget. These are reminders of things that matter. What are words that I would want to impress upon someone for their success and perseverance? How would I encourage others in perspective and purpose? And how would my words align with what God says?

20 Now may the God of peace—
    who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
    and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
    through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
    All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

22 I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation. (Hebrews 13:20-22, NLT)

I have a dear friend who, at the end of our coffee dates, walks me into the parking lot, puts her hand upon my shoulder and prays for and over me. She is an example of precious community. I am fortunate to know others who do the same.

God of peace, thank you for friends who pray and point me back to you and what matters. Thank you for your word in my hands, scriptures that remind me of who you are–unchanging, powerful–all glory to you. Thank you for words like keep on, remember, remember, don’t forget, to encourage and remind. Because sometimes I’m discouraged. Sometimes I forget.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 21-23; Hebrews 8

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.

And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” (Hebrews 8:1-5, NLT)

Leviticus goes into description about offerings, cleanliness, worthiness. It lists the festivals and holy days, the reasons why and the ways they should be celebrated.

Growing up, holidays were commercial, and the traditions were meaningless, self-serving pleasures. When I read about the how and why of these holy days, they are rich with meaning in a way I was unaware of for at least half my life.

As an adult, I remember one year our friends David and Anita invited us to be guests at their Passover dinner. Anita lined up tables and covered them with beautiful tablecloths, giving an impression of one long table to seat over twenty people. It was spring. The sun set later in the evening and lit the room with a golden glow. I looked around at the faces of their family and friends and felt grateful to be counted among them. They explained the reasons for everything to us, and there were opportunities for each one of us to contribute to the evening’s celebration and remembrance.

When my kids were in their elementary school years, we read a book called All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. Other holidays and traditions came to light in this story–costumes, games, merry making–that, today, in the reading of Leviticus strike a chord of memory and curiosity. Of value and tradition.

I wonder if we sometimes forget the why of tradition in the focus of the what and how. I didn’t have a personal religious context for the Old Testament readings today. But I sat with the outline of what, how and why, and it reached my heart–it spoke of community, worship, honor and gratitude. It spoke of remembrance, celebration, humility and submission. So when Hebrews 8 mentions this is only a copy, a shadow of the real one, I am deeply moved.

Majestic God in heaven, thank you for holy days, tradition, community and worship. Thank you for reminding me that it’s about you, your sovereignty, love and power. Thank you for a challenging read today, to draw me closer to you. Thank you for glimpses of goodness in the copy of now.

Courtney (66books365)

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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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