Tag Archives: devotion

2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6

Josiah became king at a young age.

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. 2 Chronicles 34:1-2, NLT.

He began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He was repentant. He wanted to honor God.

18 Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. 2 Chronicles 35:18, NLT.

In following scriptures, Josiah dismisses King Neco’s warning from the Lord and goes into a battle that leads to his death. Josiah is remembered for his devotion to the Lord.

In the New Testament reading, Paul addresses Corinthians as partners with God.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, NLT.

Live in such a way … endure …  these words, a reminder. Hardships and difficulties follow, from the world and from brothers and sisters in Christ, and I think of my own heart reaction–when the world or a brother/sister sticks out a foot to trip me, do I respond with understanding, patience, kindness and sincere love? Sometimes it’s a struggle. I know I want to serve God whether people show me honor or contempt. The longer the difficulty, the more it feels like making my way through thick mud.

Paul implores:

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us! 2 Corinthians 6:11-13, NLT.

Lord, an enemy wants me to fail in my walk with you. An enemy wants me to harden my heart, withhold my love. But your word encourages me to live in such a way, to endure, to be a true minister–and it is born and empowered by your spirit living in me. Of course it feels like walking through mud in my own strength. God, I want you to be my focus. You are my strength. You desire unity in your family. Please reveal any way I might cause a brother or sister to stumble–I don’t want any part of tripping someone up. How can I proclaim my devotion to you if there is hardness in my heart? (Oh, how can light live with darkness?) Please heal the hurting places, Lord, so that they don’t grow hard. My joy is in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Esther 4-6; Revelation 2

SCRIPTURE

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Revelation 2:4

OBSERVATION

John lived in  a cave on the island of Patmos after being exiled for preaching about Jesus. He sees a vision of  Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Living One. Jesus commands John to write down what he sees and hears and send it to the churches. Ephesus is told to repent and go back to her first love.  Smyrna is encouraged to remain steadfast during persecution. Pergamum is told to repent of compromising with wrong teachings. Thyatira is asked to repent of immorality.  There will be reward for all those who overcome.

APPLICATION

When I first accepted Jesus as my Savior, I had an insatiable thirst to learn everything I could. I read my bible every day and took one bible study after another. I spent every day with believers talking about the things of God. I was so in love with my Lord. I thought the honeymoon would never end. Imperceptibly my ardor began to fade.  I have become an Ephesus girl.

PRAYER

Lord,

Show me first love’s bloom.

The poured out crimson plume.

Your heart like waxen melt.

For the pain of my sins you felt.

Unbelievably, if only for me

You would have gone to the tree.

Love like that was never so great

That would seal my heavenly fate.

May I desire to sit at your feet.

Until at your royal throne we meet.

yicareggie

From the archives. Originally published December 23, 2009.

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Genesis 1-2; Psalm 19; Mark 1

We used to live in a big field. The morning sunrises were spectacular and the sky seemed endless. If anything sang glory, that sky did each morning.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship. Psalm 19:1, NLT

Now we live in the woods, and I never really expected to see the sunrises because of the trees. I’ve learned to appreciate seasons in a different way living in the woods, and winter is no exception. I’ve even learned to love winter in a way I never thought possible. It is still and quiet, and the sunrises sneak up on me through the woods line–only visible because all the foliage has fallen away.

Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world. Psalm 19:2-4, NLT

Sometimes it takes a barren season and stillness to become aware of what has always been.

I have a friend who is like a father to me. He is eighty, and the years have stolen ability and freedom from him. He has long periods of time and stillness to reflect on life. He told me his lack of busyness has birthed wonderment in the world around him.

I praise God that in the winters of life, we can see something in a new way.

I try to find a connection between the readings. In Genesis, creation of heavens and earth, creation of all things and mankind. In Psalm 19, the glory of the heavens proclaiming God and his goodness, and reflection on the frail and faulty heart.

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin. Psalm 19:12-13, NLT

And in Mark 1, a way is made, the first disciples follow Jesus, and Jesus travels a region healing people and telling them of God’s kingdom.

It is January 1, and I look at a new year with a mental list of changes I want to make. I can’t help it. Like the psalmist, I’m aware of the visible and the existence of the unseen–I know how sin wrecks a life. But Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to make a list of their faults and a list of how they proposed to fix it all. He just said, “Follow me.”

Thankful for a savior who is bigger than my mess.

Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you. You have the power to create heavens and earth with a word; you have the power to (restore broken relationships, heal the sick and hurting, make the impossible possible, change a heart …). Whether through your word or your creation, help me to seek and see you with wonderment.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 1; Acts 5; Jeremiah 14; Matthew 28

God is with (us) always. His will prevails.

This is the overture, the repeating refrain and undercurrent of the readings. Judges: God gives land and victory to Judah. Victory was given before they even started, but there was still a fight.

After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Which tribe should go first to attack the Canaanites?”

 

The Lord answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.” Judges 1:1-2 NLT

(Israel, however, fails to conquer other lands.)

Jeremiah, the land is parched and cracked from drought, and a people suffer. False prophets paint a brighter picture and the Lord responds.

13 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The Lord will surely send you peace.’”

14 Then the Lord said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts. 15 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them. They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine.” Jeremiah 14:14-15 NLT.

The apostles are imprisoned for speaking of Jesus. God makes a way for their escape, and the religious leaders find them back in the temple courts.

29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. 31 Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. 32 We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. 34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. 35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! 36 Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. 37 After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.

38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!

40 The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go.

41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. 42 And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.”

In Matthew, Jesus breathes the Great Commission.

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT.

And this is what I take away: There is victory in life, and fight–Judah fought; the apostles persevered through hardship. But if it is from God, He will make a way. His truth will prevail.

Lord, irritations pick at me lately. I find myself wanting to retreat–my heart tells me that’s the way to peace, and it sounds much like the empty visions of false prophets. But you tell us all to go and make, teach and obey–let my steps and my life proclaim in word and deed that you are the Messiah.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 14, 15; Psalm 146, 147; Jeremiah 7; Matthew 21

The leafy fig tree. It highlights the power of faith–the strength to do much and more. But I still think about the tree’s leaves–an outward appearance of health, yet it was fruitless. Appearances deceive.

Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame. Jeremiah 7:19 NLT.

How many times had God’s people been warned and corrected? Only if, only if–“stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols.” Jeremiah 7:5-6 NLT.

In Jeremiah 7:8-11 NLT, there’s an assumption that just because the Temple was in their midst they’d be safe, despite their ongoing and intentional sin.

“‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

In Matthew, Jesus clears out the Temple with similar words:

12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” Matthew 21:12-13 NLT.

When the Lord’s Spirit is in me, this body of mine is a temple. I bear his name as a follower of Christ. A child of God. I don’t think God expects me to be perfect, but I do think he wants me to trust him. When I obey him, it shows that I trust him. I believe he does want good for me. Lord, I need to remember I can trust you! I really do want to obey you. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s such a struggle. Help me.

22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. 23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’

I read about Caleb in Joshua 14:6-9 NLT.

Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’

God isn’t impressed by wealth or might or any outward appearances of success. I have to remind myself of this a lot–because these are the things that impress the world, not my Lord.

No, my God wants reverence and my hope in him.

10 He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse
    or in human might.
11 No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
    those who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11 NLT

Lord, when it comes to following you and obeying you, I don’t want to fake it. But I see that I’ve been faking it in my struggle to forgive. I can trust you. I don’t need to be angry and hold on to past wounds. You’ve got me.  You’ve got this. I can put my hope in you and let go of it. The past is vapor anyway. Even if it is as recent as June. I pray that I would follow you, wholeheartedly. Thank you for your continued work in shaping my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 6:6-27; Psalm 135-136; Isaiah 66; Matthew 14

Peter stepped out of the boat when the Lord said, “Come.” And I wonder:

How far away did Jesus seem?

Three feet? Ten feet? Twenty feet or more? He was far enough away that Peter became distracted by the waves and wind. Far enough away that Peter became doubtful and called out to be saved. He called to Jesus, the one who had said, “Do not be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Don’t miss this: He was close enough to reach out and save, even when the wind and waves seemed closer.)

I have never been on a boat in a storm. I have never stepped foot out onto water and expected to walk on it. And the closest I can get to this example in my life is substituting deep problems for stormy waters, and faith walking for … faith walking. I have done that. (And I have been afraid and doubtful and worried, and wondered if I heard Him right, and realized I couldn’t go back but I could only go forward or risk sinking, and even if Jesus said DON’T BE AFRAID–I was scared. What if this wasn’t what God told me to do? What if I got this wrong? What if I traded one problem for another?) I have been afraid even when I know Jesus is here, but mainly because I felt he wasn’t. Or I felt my problems were bigger than Him. Even though I know they aren’t.

I have been in situations where I just kept on walking in circles, in daily routines, and hoped that my shout to the Lord would bring Jericho results. A wall to crumble down. An enemy to be stopped. Or a victory to be gained. And those times, it didn’t happen when I shouted. In fact, it would be long spans of time before I’d know that anything happened.

I think on times when I don’t see results, or my mind is full of thoughts in all-caps and run-on sentences, the best thing I can do is remember God’s faithfulness. Like the remembering of what he has done in Psalm 136, and the repeating refrain: His faithful love endures forever.

When Jesus seems far, I remind myself that HE IS HERE.

When I don’t feel like I can get close enough to him to be in his undeniable grip, that even just grazing his robe is mustard-seed faith that moves mountains.

He says, I am here. The one who made the sun and moon and placed the stars in the sky.

Thank you, God, for all those faithful who assembled at your feet and you fed them. Thank you for the great faith of those who surged around you to brush the fringe of your robe. Thank you for all the examples and all the reminders–even in my very own life experience–of your faithfulness.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 28,29,30; Luke 1:21-38

 “May it be to me as you have said.” ~ Luke 1:38

Trust, obedience, devotion; those are all things that Mary had to have to tell the messenger from heaven, “I am willing to accept whatever,” without fully understanding what that meant.  All mothers want their children to be great, to excel in life.  They hope their kids will grow up to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, pastors, and leaders.  Mary was told that her son would be “the Son of the Most High,” and that He’d be given “the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end,” (Luke 1:32, 33).  Can you imagine an angel visiting your room in the night to say, “Do not be afraid…you have found favor with God…” and you will bear His son, (Luke 1:30)?

Now that I’m 23 weeks along in my pregnancy, I can fully imagine the overwhelming feelings that Mary must have been experiencing at hearing such unfathomable news about her son, who was not even born yet.  I can imagine the burden and impact the news had on her, the thoughts of “will I be a good enough mother to raise a king,” must have been swarming through her mind.  But I can also understand the desire and expectation.

When God called me to be a mother, He placed a strong desire inside my heart to love my children—long before I became pregnant with them.  God gave me visions of how our children would look and who they would grow up to be.  So as an expectant—not just pregnant, but expectant—mother, I can fully understand Mary’s words: May it be as you have said.

 “For nothing is impossible with God.” ~ Luke 1:37

HeatherPotts5

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