Tag Archives: Courage

2 Samuel 21-23; Psalm 18; Romans 3

I’m reading The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare with my youngest child. There is a scripture quoted in it repeatedly:

35 He trains my hands for battle;
    he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. (2 Samuel 22:35, NLT)

I paused in my 66 Books reading today, because that scripture appeared in 2 Samuel and Psalm 18. I took a longer look at David’s men, described in 2 Samuel. Of his elite three, I noticed qualities of strength, loyalty, perseverance, and courage.

Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled. 10 He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!

11 Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, 12 but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory. (2 Samuel 23:9-12, NLT, emphasis added)

I consider the army I thought would have been with me in my greatest battles. I remember the names of the elite who stayed.

He trains my hands for battle. He readies me for difficult tasks.

The Lord does bring about great victories. He’s looking for someone to stay (when they’re tired, to hold the ground when the army flees). Oh, times of testing reveal so much (I cast my cares upon him.).

True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him,

“You will be proved right in what you say,
    and you will win your case in court.” (Romans 3:3-4, NLT)

Lord, I fix my eyes on you. You are the source of my strength. You are my hope. You are true.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized

Ezekiel 27, 28; James 4

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12

I see and hear it all over, judgment and criticism spewed out everywhere, on every one; people playing judge and jury for people they may not even know. Society as a whole has seemed to really embrace this holier-than-thou attitude, especially since the rise of social media and blogging. Everyone has the right to their own opinion; they have the right to make their own choices in how they walk their journey in life. But, for heaven’s sake, your decisions better look like mine, or else. Right!?…Wrong!

Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? James 4:11-12 (MSG)

I’ve been there, both on the giving end of judgment and the receiving end. Neither one is pleasant. Hearing criticism against me and the choices that I have made in life, for myself, for my family is hurtful. I know I am doing the best that I can in any given moment, and in the words of Iyanla Vazant, “When I know better, I do better.”

As a mother, it is even harder. At any given moment, I am being judged based on my choices to co-sleep, baby wear, breast feed, vaccinate, switch between cloth and disposable diapers, discipline based in love versus rejection, spend time on my smart phone while the kids are playing at Chick-fil-A, let my kids watch TV, etc. I am even judged by some on the decision to not shave my girls head to ‘make their hair more beautiful’, for allowing my youngest to comfort herself with a pacifier, and to let my girls drink juice when they are sick.

I don’t need any help from anyone else to feel like a failure; I already struggle with that lie from the enemy, even though I know that I am doing a good job despite the circumstances of my life. What I need, instead of disapproval, is help; a village surrounding me to pick up the pieces when I inevitably fumble.

Even as I am writing, I am convicted in my heart that I too often stand in that place of judgment. I also condemn others for choosing differently from me. Whether I judge people on their politics, their lifestyle choices, their parenting skills, their actions or beliefs, in that twinkling of an eye, I have put myself over them and over God to find them guilty. It doesn’t matter if I have posted my views all over the internet, gossiped to my friends, or simply considered it in my thoughts; I have spoken evil against another…I have sinned. And, who am I to judge my neighbor?

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-8; 10

When I realize that I have been judgmental or that I need to forgive someone who has judged me, I know that it is time to get right with God again. I need to step down from the judge’s bench and let Him have His seat back. I need to humble myself, submit myself once more to Him, because God is the only One who can clean my hands, purify my heart, and keep my mind in alignment with His love, grace, and mercy.

When I repent and when I offer forgiveness, my heart grows with compassion, and what I once saw through blinders, I am now able to see through truth. I am able to see better through the defenses that have been put up by others to protect themselves from judgment, and I am able to break down the walls I’ve built around myself. Instead of judging someone else for being different than me, I am able to choose to love them right where they are, no matter what their life looks like. And when I am feeling judged, I am able to focus more on the intention behind the critique, which many times is actually care and concern, glean God’s truth from the comments, and choose to be vulnerable, to share my struggles and even ask for help.

It takes courage to stop standing in the place of judgment, to choose to not be the one to cast the first stone. It takes courage to forgive others, then submit the criticisms received to God and ask for His truth and wisdom. And, when I step out in courage, I am honoring God and living by His Word, which is the best way to live.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Ezekiel, James, New Testament, Old Testament

Jeremiah 27-28; 2 Timothy 4

Two prophets give conflicting messages in Jeremiah. One speaks of a hard road that requires obedience in circumstance. The other casts a promising future of peace, restoration and reduced sentence. Only one will be right.

As Paul writes to Timothy, he tells of a time when people will turn their ears to hear what they want to hear.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4, NLT.

God’s sovereignty speaks from the testaments. Sovereign over nations. Sovereign over individuals as they stand alone.

Give them this message for their masters: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal. I can give these things of mine to anyone I choose. Jeremiah 27:4-5, NLT.

And:

16 The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. 18 Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. 2 Timothy 4:16-18, NLT.

Paul speaks of roads that require obedience in circumstance too.

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1-2, NLT.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. 2 Timothy 4:5, NLT.

God, you are sovereign in all things. All things. In peace and in suffering, in times favorable or not. Help me to hear your correction and rebuke, and give me strength to speak with patience and love in difficult situations.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezra 6, 7, 8; John 21

And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king’s treasury. And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence, up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons. Ezra 7:20-23

So many people ask me how I do what I do. How do I live in a different country without the comforts of home? How do I travel long distances with my kids and no one to help me? …

My answer is typically something to the effect of: “You do what you have to do.”

The reality is that God gives me His strength and gives me His favor. I can’t do anything in my own power; I can accomplish everything in Jesus Christ.

The Israelites were in a similar position – exiled for years, not much more than slaves, the temple destroyed, their customs laid aside. There was little natural hope for their future. And, yet because of God’s approval, because the God above All gods turn the king’s hearts toward the people, their prospects rose out of the dust and they were filled with joy.

And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. Ezra 6:22

…Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. Ezra 7:6

The favor that this generation of Israelites experienced was supernatural. The Assyrian king completely funded the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem from his treasury; it was an act of kindness beyond what was usual in this time or in any time for that matter. The king’s deed was one of the many demonstrations in the Old Testament of how God loved His people and a yet another foreshadowing of the unmerited gift of grace believers would be able to receive as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the ultimate treasury emptied for His beloved.

…I [take] courage, for the hand of the Lord my God [is] on me… Ezra 7:28

Because of His sacrifice, I can accomplish everything in Jesus Christ…and, I can be encouraged that His hand is upon me and His favor goes before me in my journey. I’ve been chosen and I can be certain that He will always be with me.

Yesappa, Thank You for strengthening me, keeping Your hand on me, and giving me Your favor. Thank You for encouraging me and never leaving nor forsaking me, no matter how difficult the trials in my life are. Thank You for giving me hope and for raising me up out of the ashes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Joshua 1-3; Luke 1:57-80

God tells Joshua three times:

Be strong and courageous.

Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9, NLT.

The scouts who slip into Jericho’s walls meet Rahab, a prostitute, who helps them. She tells them how word has spread throughout the region of God’s power and presence with them.

“I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.” Joshua 2:9-11, NLT.

I read on of them preparing themselves to move forward into God’s promise.

The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’” Joshua 3:7-8, NLT.

I hunker into a literary huddle inside the camp, leaning in to listen. Joshua was probably speaking loudly to a crowd, but in my mind, he whispers so I draw closer in expectation.

So Joshua told the Israelites, “Come and listen to what the Lord your God says. 10 Today you will know that the living God is among you …” Joshua 3:9-10a, NLT.

Step in and stop. This phrase sticks with me through the years, and I’m reminded today. I read these verses several years ago when we were preparing to move. Today, I can look back at that time of life and see God’s hand throughout the details.

Sometimes God leads into unfamiliar territory. I am thankful for every single step (tear and fear) of that journey. There was no doubt of his presence at the time, even when stepping out in faith was heavy and hard. Don’t miss his glory. Look for him, even in times of deep sadness or fear … the living God is among you. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 7, 2 John 1, Habakkuk 2, Luke 21

2 Chronicles 7:3 “When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying, ‘He is so good!  His faithful love endures forever!'”

Love as defined in Websters dictionary is: “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.”   Love as God defines it in 2 John 1:6 says, “Love means, doing what God has commanded us, and He has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.”

In the beginning: God loved, so very much that He created the Heavens and the Earth.  God so loved that He gave His only son to die upon the cross for my sins. God loved me before there was any human knowledge of my ancestors or my entrance into this world.

I have fallen on the ground many times but it has not always been out of praise and worship!   Numerous times in my life my heart has been pricked during a sermon and I knew I was in need of taking that step forward to make a change in my life, yet I have chosen to remain still out of “peer fear” that someone would see my hand go up or would feel my body move from its’ seat going down front to pray with the pastor.

Luke 21:26 “The courage of many people will falter because of the fearful fate they see coming upon the earth, because the stability of the very heavens will be broken up.” 

I read my bible and pray daily, teach my children to love and find strength through their trials, yet there I sit struggling with the thought of someone seeing me step forward to make a positive change for Jesus’ name.   In Luke 22:42 Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”

Jesus went forward and endured the emotional and physical pain of suffering out of LOVE for me.  I am to be conforming towards His image and although this does not mean dying an agonizing death upon a cross myself, my faith should be that of willingness to do so if it meant taking a stand for Christ.

I want to love in the true meaning of love, be willing to suffer for Jesus’ name, but, until I put aside my fears and become fervently courageous, I will continue to be a stumbling block.

2 Chronicles 7:14 “Then, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

Father, I stumble and I fall, yet you are there each time to raise me back up.  You love me beyond anything I can fathom.  I ask that you humble my heart to be more open to your leading and that I would be willing to stand up for you no matter what the cost. I pray that I can love others as you love me and that I would wait patiently as Habakkuk did to have your visions and plans revealed and fulfilled in my life.  Help me Lord to fall on my face in adoration towards you and be so filled with your spirit that I can’t help but cry out, “You are good! Your faithful love endures forever!”  – Amen

Live2Love4Him4Ever

~Erica

 

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Joshua 1, Psalm 120-122, Isaiah 61, & Matthew 9

Matthew 9: 13 “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

Isaiah 61: 1-3 [The Lord] “has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning.”

Psalm 121:5 “The Lord is your shade at your right hand.  The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

Joshua 1:5-6 “I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage.”

Joshua 1:7 “Only be strong and very courageous…”

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 16 “Only be strong and of good courage.”

 

We cannot deny the negative feelings we have when we experience difficulties in life. Even if we believe that Jesus Christ actually experienced human sufferings beyond what most could endure, we can have trouble with trying to ‘hang in there,’ as prescribed by fellow believers.  At these times I am prone to isolate and ‘hunker down’ to suffer through the pain. Yet, our God doesn’t encourage us to suffer in silence.  Scripture after Scripture speaks His forceful voice of a compassionate, omnipresent God who is active in the lives of His faithful.  Instead of a bloody sacrifice to Him, he desires that we give mercy especially in the difficulties of life. Though we may feel bereaved of His supernatural presence at times, He reminds us about His nature: I am a God who promises you healing and joy; I am a God who shields you; I am your God who is with you always.  Funny, all He says we need to do is be strong and courageous, and even that is not left to ourselves for He, Himself, is with us wherever we go.  I cannot get over how truly personal is our God.

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