Tag Archives: deceit

Jeremiah 8-10; 2 Corinthians 11

If I were to sum up a theme in these readings, it would be a warning about false teachings.

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. (2 Corinthians 11:4, NLT)

What of the false teacher? What is deceit’s disguise?

14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, NLT)

A deceiver knows how to disguise and hide. Some disguised themselves as apostles of Christ. That’s tricky. Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. We are told this for a reason. Bad intentions can sport good appearances.

But what of truth? Shouldn’t truth have an easy road? After all, it is right and pure. If Paul’s story is any example of trying to bring truth to light, that road is far from comfortable. For example, he:

  • worked harder
  • was put in prison more often
  • was whipped times without number
  • faced death again and again
  • 5 different times the Jewish leaders gave him 39 lashes
  • 3 times he was beaten with rods
  • he was stoned
  • 3 times he was shipwrecked
  • he spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea
  • he traveled on many long journeys
  • he faced danger from rivers
  • he faced danger from from robbers
  • he faced danger from his own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles
  • he faced danger in the cities, and in the deserts, and on the seas
  • he faced danger from men who claimed to be believers but were not
  • he worked hard and long
  • he endured many sleepless nights
  • he was hungry and thirsty
  • he often went without food
  • he shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep him warm (from 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27, NLT)

I read the account again, and this time, I imagine standing next to him. Working. Whipped. Shipwrecked. Facing danger–again and again. Exhausted. Hungry. Thirsty. Cold. And when I read it again, I look into the eyes of other prisoners, assailants holding whips and rocks, intimidating authorities, forceful robbers, a shunning community, even the ones who claimed to be believers. Paul’s not telling a passing story of what he did over the weekend. He’s telling a story of how he faced the extreme pressure to abandon the truth and abolish his faith.

I am ever more grateful for these words in my hands. Grateful for all the people who came before me, speaking and preserving truth, so that I could know Jesus and live. I will never know all that it cost them. But I know if they hadn’t persevered, my ignorance would have cost me my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament

Exodus 23; John 2; Job 41; 2 Corinthians 11

I take note in Exodus of justice, refreshing, and annual festivals. I smile because I know in John, Jesus will turn water into wine. I imagine the Leviathan in Job–monstrous and mighty. And in 2 Corinthians, Paul boasts of weakness. But there’s more–guidance, caution.

20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you … 32 Make no treaties with them or their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.” (Exodus 23:20-22, 32-33, NLT, emphasis added)

23 Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. 25 No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart. (John 2:23-25, NLT, emphasis added)

22 “The tremendous strength in Leviathan’s neck
    strikes terror wherever it goes.
23 Its flesh is hard and firm
    and cannot be penetrated.
24 Its heart is hard as rock,
    hard as a millstone.
25 When it rises, the mighty are afraid,
    gripped by terror.
26 No sword can stop it,
    no spear, dart, or javelin.

33 Nothing on earth is its equal,
    no other creature so fearless.
34 Of all the creatures, it is the proudest.
    It is the king of beasts
.” (Job 41:22-26, 33-34, NLT, emphasis added)

19 After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools! 20 You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! (2 Corinthians 11:19-20, NLT, emphasis added)

I consider God’s provision and protection, and man’s choices (oh, what of my own?) that pitch a trajectory of sin and idolatry. Jesus, who walked this earth and came to save, who knows people down to their very heart. A monstrous beast, Pride, the king of beasts (taking great creative liberties here). And Paul’s common sense pleading to correct poor vision–why would anyone choose to be enslaved, robbed, taken advantage of, powerless, abused or insulted? These sound like choices of brain fog and deceit.

Lord, I think on the Passover celebrations woven throughout your word, to celebrate a salvation from slavery, to celebrate your might and protection–you make a way, and you make a way for me too. Help me to keep clear vision, a kingdom focus, to be aware of your guidance and counsel, to heed it, to not be duped by the deceit of sin. You are good, and you have good planned for me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 38-40; Matthew 12:22-50

  • Judah already lost two sons, and was afraid he’d lose his last–so he told Tamar to stay with her father until (Shelah) was old enough to marry her. He had no intention of following through with his end of the deal.
  • Tamar disguised herself and led Judah to believe she was a prostitute so that he would sleep with her. It worked.
  • Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph and tried to seduce him. When he wouldn’t comply, she accused him of trying to rape her, to cover up her actions.

Fear, a quest for justice, desire. These are the things I notice in today’s reading–and I see deceit, disguise, cover-up.

Jesus talks about fruit and what’s in a heart.

33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” Matthew 12:33-37 NLT.

In my life, I will feel so many things. Sometimes those feelings come upon me and knock me over. Hurt over a comment that sits and stews in my heart–it strains a relationship; insecurities that whisper and taunt and push at me–they make me want to hide; a pressing desire for change (that leads to a hair color snafu; or a spending spree; or in frustration/weakness, a chocolate binge).

These days, I’m trying to just take it to God. He knows my thoughts anyway–and I can’t run and hide or cover up the truth. I can try a new approach–and just tell him what’s on my heart.

Lord, I feel hurt by that comment she made.

Lord, I feel discouraged.

Lord, I feel inadequate to do this job.

It’s in those honest moments that I approach God and lay it before him. Help me, I’m weak … I don’t know what to do … I don’t know what to say.

Sometimes the feelings aren’t pretty or noble. But it’s when I suppress, cover-up, deny and try to control a situation that I can make a mess of it.

Jesus, you are always with me and want to help. I can ask for wisdom at any time and you will give it. I can ask for forgiveness and you will give it. I can look to you and find my identity and strength. You know my heart and I can trust you with it.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 14; 2 Corinthians 7; Ezekiel 21; Psalm 68

God places the lonely in families … Psalm 68:6a NLT.

This verse stumps me.

It makes me think that families are a haven of one big welcome.

Some of the loneliest times in my life were in the midst of family. I bet Absalom could relate.

Joab sends a woman to appeal to King David, her story a fictional parallel she reveals later to convict.

13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” 2 Samuel 14:13-14 NLT.

God is one of reconciliation. I tell myself this over and over–even when relationships are strained, and ways are parted.

God is for reconciliation.

David allows Absalom to return, with conditions. For two years, Absalom never got to see his dad.

33 So Joab told the king what Absalom had said. Then at last David summoned Absalom, who came and bowed low before the king, and the king kissed him. 2 Samuel 14:33 NLT.

The chapter stops here, and I have hope to keep reading. (So I sneak ahead to the next chapter, and see that dysfunction and division are alive and well. It was not the happily-ever-after I hoped would wrap up neatly.)

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NLT.

In the time Absalom was away from David, I think whatever sorrow he may have felt turned bitter with resentment and grew. Paul writes above to the Corinthians, and his words churn in my thoughts as I sip at coffee. The kind of sorrow that God wants us to experience, that leads us away from sin and results in salvation. And then there’s worldly sorrow, lacking repentance, resulting in spiritual death. Absalom’s sorrow will lack repentance (turning away from the sin) and lead to death–as it is today: relationships break apart in friendships and families; sorrow without change whittles away at everyone.

I examine the fractures in my life.

Lord, help me to reconcile without conditions so I don’t place stumbling blocks in front of a friend/family member. I want to be mindful of the condition of my own heart, turning from sin (please help me to see it!) and trusting in you. Where hearts are hardened, Lord, I pray that you will work on them. You are the God of reconciliation and restoration. I want to want that as much as you do. Thank you, that you don’t leave me where I am, but want to change me from the inside.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

Lev. 7; Ps. 7,8; Prov. 22; 1 Thess.1

Example. Leadership. Imitation.

Point your kids in the right direction, and when they’re old they won’t be lost. Proverbs 22:6 MSG

The map I was handed was passed down from generations. It was a dead end. And not just an end that didn’t lead anywhere, it led to death. I didn’t really know it at the time. (Thank you, God, for speaking into my life.) I feel really protective over my kids–I want to spare them of that legacy. So I study the Word. And I study people. I study them for how they live and how they love and how they give. I look at them to learn how they handle conflict and forgiveness, how they press on in trial. I watch how they serve, and who they serve. I take in as much as I can, and I sift through it. I try to imitate the good in them.

I know I don’t have it all together. But I know who does–the one who came to save me from certain death.

2-5 Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

5-6 You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.

7-10 Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom. 1Thessalonians 1:2-10 MSG. Emphasis mine.

Lord, thank you for rescuing me from certain doom. Steel me up with your Spirit. I pray that my life honors you, and that my children will know you and seek you all the days of their lives.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 1 Thessalonians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs