Tag Archives: division

Proverbs 16-19; Matthew 10

He had the power to heal and restore and raise. Loving Jesus. When Satan tempted him in the wilderness, he resisted the challenge to prove or grasp at anything, but stood upon God’s Word. Wise Jesus. When he was accused and arrested and condemned to death, he didn’t raise a sword; he didn’t argue his defense; the image of him beaten and bloody, carrying his cross in front of an audience, being nailed upon it, left to die–the mockers crying out to him, “Can’t even save yourself!” He seemed broken, weak, defeated. But here, he fought a battle no one understood. Humble Jesus. Warrior Jesus. Savior.

34 Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36     Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it (Matthew 10:34-39, NLT, emphasis added).

In Matthew 10, Jesus prepares the disciples to send them out–I sit at his feet and listen in: Do the work (Mt 10:8); Shake it off and move on (Mt 10:14); Beware (Mt 10:17).

16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 22 And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:16-22, NLT, emphasis added).

Things are more than what they seem. Lord, I pray for kingdom focus, wisdom and guidance.

20 Get all the advice and instruction you can,
    so you will be wise the rest of your life.

21 You can make many plans,
    but the Lord’s purpose will prevail (Proverbs 19:20, 21, NLT).

Grateful your purpose will prevail, always.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 19-21; Mark 16

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT).

These are the opening words to a tragedy. A story that ends with this:

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).


The tragic story in Judges 19-21 didn’t begin when the troublemakers of Gibeah beat on an old man’s door.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judges 19:22, NLT).

It began here:

There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem (Judges 19:1b-2, NLT).

Whatever happened between them, I don’t know. But something happened, and she reacted. Likely, he didn’t count the cost of his actions. Surely, she didn’t count the cost of her actions. Catastrophe starts small, with an unchecked thought, word or action.

I sit with words, watching a scene unfold, grimacing at the abandonment (a host abandoning his daughter; a husband abandoning his wife; troublemakers abandoning all decency and mercy), eyes widening in shock as deaths mount by the thousands in a warfare of tribe against tribe.

I can look all over these scriptures and point out places where there’s fault. And maybe there’s something to their opening and end:

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT) … 25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).

Father God, you are Lord over all. Be Lord over my life. Be Lord over my heart. Be Lord over my words. Be Lord over my actions. I don’t want to be right in my own eyes. I want to live right by your standards. I only want your approval.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Judges, Old Testament

Genesis 27; Matthew 26; Esther 3; Acts 26

Jacob deceives and receives Esau’s blessing. Judas wants to know how much he’ll get to betray Jesus, and then looks for ways to do so. Peter and the others deny Jesus and scatter. Haman’s desire for power and recognition fuel his hatred at Mordecai’s resistance to bow down–a hatred whose end goal is an annihilation of a people. Paul recounts his days of opposition to Christ and his followers–and how his obedience to Christ now makes him the target.

Betrayal. Anger. Hatred. They all lead to deaths of sorts.

  • 41 From that time on, Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.” Genesis 27:41, NLT
  • At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. Matthew 26:3, NLT
  • When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes. Esther 3:5-6, NLT
  • 19 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me.” Acts 26:19-21, NLT

A meal and a kiss in the Old Testament (from Genesis 27, parts of 17-27, NLT).

17 Then she gave Jacob the delicious meal, including freshly baked bread.

So Jacob took the food to his father, and Isaac ate it. He also drank the wine that Jacob served him. 26 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come a little closer and kiss me, my son.”

27 So Jacob went over and kissed him.

A meal and a kiss in the New Testament (from Matthew 26, parts of 20 through 49, NLT).

20 When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

22 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”

23 He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. 24 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

25 Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?”

And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”

27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

And later, in the garden of Gethsemane … 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

I sit with these words. The bread. The wine. The blessing. The sacrifice.

Lord, you have the mighty power of forgiving sin–your love the sacrifice, broken and poured out. I sit with you today in wounding and in want, handing over the broken pieces, Lord.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 22-23; James 2

It was a mother who made my friend cry. She called me to tell me the story, all the while struggling to get the words out–of how that mother’s face gnarled and hurled nasty comments. Women can work up the cruelest hate–a mother to a child, a sister to a sister, a friend to a friend, a neighbor to a neighbor.

Is anyone immune to the things that divide? James talks about prejudice–and I’ve seen that preference play out in plenty of circles–the inner circle vs the outer circle … public schoolers vs homeschoolers … girls’ night out vs homebodies … bottle feeders vs breast feeders … scratch bakers vs box mix … there’s no shortage of things that can cause a divide.

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?” James 2:1-7, NLT.

My beautiful friend called and cried at accusations spewed at her, and my heart broke for her and her accuser. My heart broke because I’ve been part of those battles, and sometimes I don’t know which side I’m on.

Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.

10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.

12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. James 2:8-13, NLT.

I know in my future there will be plenty of times to choose a side. Lord, help me to choose mercy.

Courtney (66books365)

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1Chronicles 24, 25; 1Peter 5; Micah 3; Luke 12

I picked service as my one word focus this year. (Anyone else do a one word?)

Today’s reading flashes it like Christmas lights set on blink.

Service. Service. Service.

This is how Aaron’s descendants, the priests, were divided into groups for service 31 Like the descendants of Aaron, they were assigned to their duties by means of sacred lots, without regard to age or rank. 1 Chronicles 24:1a and 31 NLT

The musicians were appointed to their term of service by means of sacred lots, without regard to whether they were young or old, teacher or student. 1 Chronicles 25:8 NLT.

I learned a lot about service as this year progressed. About my heart behind it. About my expectations from it. About how hard it is when you don’t particularly like the circumstance or person you’re serving. What I hoped would be a year of good-doing revealed a warped focus wrapped in pride.

I had to regroup. God has wired me a certain way. He has a job for me, without regard to my age or experience. He gives me opportunity to care for the flock around me–extended family, neighbors, other moms, and certainly the people under this roof. Service is not always convenient. Or pretty. Or at times, in my case, willing.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example … And all of you, serve each other in humility, for

“God opposes the proud
    but favors the humble.”

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 1 Peter 5:2-3, 5b NLT.

It is easier to care for the people I love and who love me back. But this year, I’m learning to serve even the ones who don’t love back. I’m sure there are other families facing the strain of difficult relationships. And they will understand the dragging feet of grudging and the knotted stomach of stress.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT.

This year, though, I’m standing firm and being strong. I’m fixing a table up and stoking the fire in the fireplace. I’m putting together a menu I love, for a holiday I enjoy and a concept I treasure; and serving a God I adore, as if he himself were seated at my table. I cannot control the responses and actions of others–and God doesn’t require it of me. He asks me to humble myself and serve him, the way he has me wired, regardless of my age or experience. (Julie once shared a definition of service as worship; this sticks with me.) And really, there is no burden in that.

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. Luke 12:35-36 NLT.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Courtney (66books365)

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Gen. 25; Matt. 24; Esther 1; Acts 24

  • Feuding bloodlines–children and grandchildren, rivalry passed down through generations. Genesis 25.
  • A king’s pride at stake, in fact, the leadership of every household hinged on Xerxes’ treatment of Queen Vashti. She was banished for fear she would be an example to other housewives for her disrespect of her husband–that her contempt and anger would spread. Esther 1.
  • Paul is imprisoned as a troublemaker. And while no one can back their accusations further, he stays in prison for several years. Acts 24.
  • Jesus also speaks of division: nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom. Matthew 24.

“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. Matthew 24:9-10 NLT.

Paul is imprisoned, and for no good reason–but God works things out for good, what man means for harm. I am reminded of this in life, frequently–God’s good in the difficult things. Sometimes it takes a lot of searching to find the silver lining in a problem. Sometimes it’s sweet grace that gives understanding. And sometimes there is only wondering and waiting. Paul’s words are the underscore of a friend’s recent truth-telling to me: do the right thing.

16 Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people. Acts 24:16.

It’s advice that hits in hindsight too often. I’m working on it.

This week’s spiritual bootcamp has been painful as I’ve faced issues that stirred up anger.

Father, I’m thankful for scripture that spells it all out: that there is discord in families and in the world, but we are called to live lives that honor you. Thank you for your light, and good truth-telling friendships, to bring about change in my heart. Thank you for examples of real-life people who’ve struggled with the same feelings I have. Thank you for grace and forgiveness, that you don’t forsake me on tear-stained, foot-stomping days. And that you settle my soul for a good night’s sleep after a really tough day.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 9, Luke 12, Job 27, 1 Corinthians 13

Lordship or Not?

 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.  But he who disowns Me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. Luke 12:8-9

Found at Bible Gateway –  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ex.%209;%20Luke%2012;%20Job%2027;%20I%20Cor.%2013&version=NIV1984 

Exodus 9          God’s Wrath is real. There is no escape route except One. God will have His Way whether I am on His side or not.

            Pharaoh refused to comply. God sent natural disasters to Egypt with explicit instructions, “Let my people go, so that they may worship Me.” This is always God’s command for me: Worship Me in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23-24). The plague on livestock, of boils and hail did not move Pharaoh’s stubborn heart against the LORD, the God of the Hebrews.

            What is my reaction to God’s commands? Am I hardening my heart against God to my own demise? What pain am I suffering because I refuse to acknowledge God as my Lord and Master? How am I “plagued” because I disregard and do not submit to the Truth of God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit?

Luke 12, Job 27, 1 Cor. 13             Jesus, You warn me not to be false. I am never allowed to lie. I am God’s child, not the devil’s (John 8:44). You will disclose everything about me – please do this to me, so I may see my blind spots and live for you more purely! Lord Jesus, engender a passion for Your Truth, Your Word, that my mind filters everything through It. (Psalm 1, 2 Corinthians 10:5) That I speak, live, and love the Word of God, which is You, Lord Jesus. May my mouth be pleasing to You.

            I am NOT to act out of fear of man nor for worldly desires, for that is distrust and disrespect of the One Who Loves me best. Instead I am to acknowledge Him and learn from His Holy Spirit. I am to be rich toward God, for He is my heart’s priceless Treasure. Lord, I dedicate my mind and heart to be faithful to You, my Rock, so that I will not be tossed to and fro according to the fickleness of man. I get so hurt when I do not live by faith in You.

            Because the Lord Jesus has given and entrusted me with much, He demands much from me. Besides giving me food, clothing, shelter, You have given me an able mind, a new heart, Your Son, Your Word, Your Spirit. What more can I need! Nothing! So I am honored and yearn to always be Your faithful bond slave, actively engaged in Your “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Jesus, You are coming unexpectedly – yet may I live consciously aware that You are in me, that You are watching me right now. So I may always think, act and speak for your purposes and glory! Awaken Your tools and gifts within me that I would use each of the under Your skillful Hand and without ceasing. Bring Yourself much glory, please! I delight to see Your Glory!

            I will not deny my integrity because of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ’s shed blood on the cross for my multitude of sins (Romans 8:1-2). I will teach the godless about the power of God; the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal (Job 27:11). Jesus warns me that He has brought adversity within my family: those for and against Jesus. (Luke 12:51-53) I know this full well.

            So I will choose to love with God’s wisdom and compassion. God, Who IS Love, never fails. I will drink heavily from His Word and Holy Spirit. I will feed my emotion and mind on the Word of God so He will heal me and pour through me for His good purposes and glory. I will trust the Lord unashamedly. I am to live out of His Agape Love for me.

            My Father, thank You for teaching me in these verses what You expect from me and how You enable me. Thank You for giving me more than I could ask for: Freedom from guilt, shame and condemnation; Freedom to read Your Word and to Worship in my country, anywhere and anytime; Fellowship with true believers; Freedom to hear Your word on the airwaves, TV, and internet. God, You are SO Gracious!! I am so grateful that You are sovereign!! I am indebted to You for all You pour into me!! Thank You!! Your gifts of the Holy Spirit, Your fullness in me, Your chastening me, Thank you!! Your Joy is my strength from the enemy of my soul!! Holy Spirit regenerate me. I seek to follow Your command to “Let go” of whatever is keeping me from truly worshiping You with my life. I rejoice in praise and worship of You Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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