Tag Archives: discernment

Ecclesiastes 10-12; 2 Timothy 4

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.

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.

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 4:1-5, NLT)

Oh, Lord, help me. So much crowds and clutters my mind, wanting my attention–help me to be intentional about the things that matter. Help me to stay focused on wholesome teaching and seeking truth so that I will be prepared. Help me to keep my mind clear in every situation.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Proverbs 3-5; Romans 10

23 Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

24 Avoid all perverse talk;
    stay away from corrupt speech.

25 Look straight ahead,
    and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
    stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked;
    keep your feet from following evil. Proverbs 4:23-27, NLT

Sometimes sin is so subtle. It comes packaged as fun or funny, exciting or entertaining.

God, help me to guard my heart. Help my children to guard their hearts. Help our family to build boundaries and set straight paths. Help us so that when troubles and trials and temptations come, we keep our eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 5-6; 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

“Well, whatever happens, I know God will bring something good from it,” she said it so matter-of-fact that I laughed. I love the view of hindsight–and among the many lessons learned from looking back, one is the truth in her statement. However, in the years of the sometime-struggle, I know I wondered often–what good can come from any of this? And it was years more on the other side of it to see that good could come from it. From start to finish, it turned out to be an enormous and foundational lesson on trust. All those things I thought were good, actually weren’t so good in the end (on some level, I think I even knew it). And the thing that looked like a hot mess was the biggest blessing. God sees things much differently than I do.

For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
    examining every path he takes.
22 An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
    they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23 He will die for lack of self-control;
    he will be lost because of his great foolishness. Proverbs 5:21-23, NLT

I have to watch reading through Proverbs, because my eyes skim and my head nods in agreement, and all too soon it’s out of my mind–this stuff on adultery, poor decisions, laziness. Self, slow down. Aren’t the days evil? Sit with these holy words. Hold onto them. Pass them down.

My son, obey your father’s commands,
    and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
21 Keep their words always in your heart.
    Tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk, their counsel will lead you.
    When you sleep, they will protect you.
    When you wake up, they will advise you.
23 For their command is a lamp
    and their instruction a light;
their corrective discipline
    is the way to life. Proverbs 6:21-23, NLT

Lord, I’m thankful for your great mercy. Many of the teachings I received led to dead ends. Thank you for challenging my pursuits, values and beliefs. Open my eyes and heart to your word. Lead me, protect me, advise me. Your way leads to life.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 17-19; John 15

Jehoshaphat got it. He followed the example of his father. He strengthened Judah; didn’t worship idols; sought God; didn’t follow Israel’s evil practices. And good things came his way. He became more powerful; had great riches and was held in high esteem; the fear of the Lord kept other territories from warring with him. When he had his son marry Ahab of Israel’s daughter, I wondered if he was courting trouble. After all, Israel had evil practices in a former paragraph.

Jehoshaphat meets up some time later to feast with Ahab. It seemed a bit chummy, and I wondered where this was leading.

Then Ahab enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead.

“Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” King Ahab of Israel asked King Jehoshaphat of Judah.

Jehoshaphat replied, “Why, of course! You and I are as one, and my troops are your troops. We will certainly join you in battle.” Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.” 2 Chronicles 18:2b-4, NLT (emphasis mine).

Jehoshaphat is still a God’s guy, I reasoned–see, he wants to get the Lord’s opinion. Four hundred prophets encourage the fight and assure success.

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.” 2 Chronicles 18:6, NLT.

Yeah, Jehoshaphat’s got this … until he doesn’t. A prophet of the Lord does speak and speaks against the attack. I’m surprised that shortly after Jehoshaphat and his men are in a battle, and Jehoshaphat is wearing a kingly target.

28 So King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle. 2 Chronicles 18:28-29, NLT.

At the start, it seemed like Jehoshaphat had so much going for him. Focus. Example. Promise. How did he go from that to this?

30 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had issued these orders to his chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel! Don’t bother with anyone else.” 31 So when the Aramean chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But Jehoshaphat called out, and the Lord saved him. God helped him by turning the attackers away from him. 2 Chronicles:30-31, NLT.

It was subtle. A political union. Camaraderie over a meal. Identification in unity. Pursuing the popular opinion.

Jesus tells us he is the true vine.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.” John 15:4-6, NLT.

There are times in my life the red flags wave warning over friendships. How long before I’m wearing the target on my back for the enemy’s focused attack?

Lord, it’s not like I’m oblivious to the influence of others. Sometimes there is clear warning that I write off–I’ve got this; I know Jesus. Haven’t I also cried out to you because of poor alliances? Jesus, help me to keep my eyes on you. Help me to follow you and bring glory to you, even when it’s hard.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 3-5; Matthew 2

The serpent persuaded her with words. (Her eyes sealed the deal with want.)

The following verses are like stepping stones leading down a path. The Lord speaks, and there is choice. Listen, or don’t.

He cares. He warns. He commands. Those who listen show wisdom–those who don’t believe to be wise in their own eyes.

  • So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6 ESV.
  • 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Genesis 3:11 ESV.
  • but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:5-7
  • 21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:21-24 ESV
  • 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:12 ESV
  • 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt … Matthew 2:13-14 ESV
  • 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go …” Matthew 2:19-22 ESV

Lord, You speak still. I want to be like Enoch and walk with You. I want to know Your voice (to hear it and heed it), and not be persuaded and deceived by unsteady and changing influences of a culture (or even my very own whims). I pray to draw even closer to You through Your Word this year.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 13; 2 Timothy 3; Hosea 5,6; Psalm 119:145-176

When Asherah poles are left standing, it’s an invitation and an indication–sin is still present.

But they continued to sin, following the evil example of Jeroboam. They also allowed the Asherah pole in Samaria to remain standing. 2 Kings 13:6 NLT.

Sin is sometimes the dirty undershirt that smells beneath the clean cover-up. And sometimes it’s the filthy garment that is the obvious cloak for public display.

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT.

Guard this heart.

Now their false religion will devour them along with their wealth. Hosea 5:7b NLT

Lord, you mercifully closed doors I tried to push open. And when I found myself in the loneliest places, you sat with me and caught tears.

150 Lawless people are coming to attack me;
    they live far from your instructions.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
    and all your commands are true. Psalm 119:150-151 NLT

Your word sustains me, gets into my heart, transforms me.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT.

Where would I be without you?

I want you to show love,
    not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
    more than I want burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 NLT

Thank you for wanting a relationship with me, for showing me love, and letting me know you. Thank you for stopping me from pursuing destructive desires–that you love me enough to let me be lonely. I am so grateful for your work in my life.

169 O Lord, listen to my cry;
    give me the discerning mind you promised. Psalm 119:169 NLT

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 3; Ephesians 1; Ezekiel 34; Psalms 83, 84

While he was at Gibeon, the Lord appeared to him in a dream during the night. God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You were very kind to your servant, my father David. He obeyed you, and he was honest and lived right. You showed great kindness to him when you allowed his son to be king after him. Lord my God, now you have made me, your servant, king in my father’s place. But I am like a little child; I don’t know how to do what must be done. I, your servant, am here among your chosen people, and there are too many of them to count. I ask that you give me a heart that understands, so I can rule the people in the right way and will know the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise, it is impossible to rule this great people of yours.”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked this. So God said to him, “You did not ask for a long life, or riches for yourself, or the death of your enemies. Since you asked for wisdom to make the right decisions, I will do what you asked. I will give you wisdom and understanding that is greater than anyone has had in the past or will have in the future. I will also give you what you did not ask for: riches and honor. During your life no other king will be as great as you. If you follow me and obey my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will also give you a long life.” 1 Kings 3:5-14 (NCV)

 

I am like a little child; I don’t know how to do what must be done. Give me a heart that understands…

There are so many times in my life when this has been my exact sentiment. There are times when I don’t know how to manage in the circumstances of the moment. And, times when I don’t understand how to maneuver within the vast differences between the culture I was raised in and the Indian culture in which I live.

And yet, time and again, I walk through life thinking that I have all of the answers, that I know how to accomplish everything, manage everything. I neglect to ask God (or anyone else) for help. I go at it alone, and in my pride, I often take a fall. Then, picking myself off the floor, nursing my scrapes and bruises, I turn to God, remembering that His wisdom is much greater than mine.

I see this duplicated in my toddler. She is 2 ¾, going on 23. She thinks she knows it all, acts like she has got it all together. But even she comes crying when she realizes she can’t do it by herself, when she can’t reach the play dough, or when she has spilled the juice while trying to pour it into her toy tea cup, or when she has climbed up onto the washing machine and can’t figure out how to get down without falling.

And like God is ALWAYS there for me, I am there for her. I am there to pick her up when she falls, there to kiss her booboos and wipe her tears. I am there to help her learn from her mistakes and gain greater knowledge for her future endeavors. I am there to teach her to look to God for wisdom, instead of looking only to herself.

I know in my heart that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter the situation. I believe that it is God’s desire to give good things (Luke 11:13), like His wisdom, His understanding, and His discernment through Holy Spirit. Just as Solomon asked for those things when God asked him what he wanted, it is important that I also ask. When I ask, He will give me those things as well (John 16:23; 1 John 5:14).

When I seek Him, I take the focus off of myself and put it back in the right place – on God. When I humble myself before Him, there is no more room for pride. I am able to accept His gifts and I am able to be used by Him.

My prayer for myself, my children, and for you:

I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers, asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will know him better. I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which he has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised his holy people. And you will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead and put him at his right side in the heavenly world. Ephesians 1:16-20 (NCV)

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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