Tag Archives: exclusion

Leviticus 15-18; Acts 9

To be honest, I never thought much about the word scapegoat until today.

“Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord.Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. 10 The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the Lord … 21 He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. 22 As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land. (Leviticus 16:6-10; 21-22 NLT).

I thought about how people choose another to be the scapegoat in communities and circumstances, banishing and blaming someone.

Saul, pre-Paul, was a hater and hunter of Christians, but he had a transforming encounter with the Lord (I am particularly moved by his blindness and then vision not only restored but with added Kingdom focus) that changed him, igniting him with passion.

21 All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?” (Acts 9:21, NLT)

Jesus has the power to change everything and equip us for tasks we never imagined. He desires change in us, turning from former ways, to follow him with whole hearts. His easy yoke. His burden, light. Free. New.

Father God, I’m grateful when you look at me, you see my heart. You know the plans you have for me. You sing over me. Jesus took the sin of the world so that I can be a daughter. When I look at what my life was before Christ, I am amazed at your transforming work. Thank you that when I look up at the stars at night, I can actually see them, but even more, that you have given me a Kingdom focus. I pray I always keep my eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Leviticus, New Testament, Old Testament

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

1 Samuel 21, 22; 1 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 1; Psalm 37

When Brene Brown spoke of love and belonging, I was undone. (Not a belonging about fitting in and being like others, but of being accepted for who you are.) She said without one of these (love, belonging), there is suffering.

David forms an army. These men weren’t perfect specimens. Not with words like distressed, debtors and discontent. God uses the broken for his kingdom.

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. 1 Samuel 22:1-2 NIV.

I didn’t fit in former circles. No, I didn’t even belong. No amount of striving would change that. Suffering felt an awful lot like depression. Perhaps God saw as distressed, discontent. No matter. I didn’t have to be perfect. I was perfect for him.

I did the same things still back then: cookie baking, card sending, garden gifting. There was no new result in that field, but there was newness in my heart. Instead of striving for the approval of man, I chose to serve the Lord. That was life before the move, and in the two years of life after I am still cookie baking, card sending, and garden gifting to honor my Lord. I don’t expect to fit, not when I live counter-culture. Two years here, I press on.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity. Psalm 37 NIV

Two years.

Over the weekend a woman who lives nearby walked down my driveway for the first time, sat across from me at the table and was vulnerable. Because of the cookies. Asked for prayer. She called me kind. Jesus sat at the table with us, and I wanted to elbow him and say, “Do you hear this?! You used the cookies! God, you are awesome!”

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NIV

God, you are faithful. You are mighty. You are good. You were all those things before. And you are all those things today. Thank you for taking this offering and doing more with it than I ever could. It’s all you–for you and about you. Thank you for bringing us here. And for calling me yours.

Courtney (66books365)

Love Came Down

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Ex. 25; John 4; Prov. 1; 2 Cor. 13

The Samaritan woman at the well. I had heard of her, and her midday walk to get water was one of rejection and loneliness. It was suggested that the other women would get their water early in the morning, not in the middle of the day’s heat. But this woman shows up after everyone had left, to avoid her peers. It’s in the exclusion and loneliness that Jesus shows up. Her life hints at wandering and indulgence–I love that Jesus crosses lines (political and social) and looks her in the eyes. I would have expected she’d feel shame, but he talks to her and she feels free–free enough to spread the words “He knows all about me.” Shame drops to the ground, replaced by joy. Actions that may have bound her reputation are freed through Christ, and she can share her story with joy.

Is that what harvest looks like? Lives lived in truth, worship, joy.

34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” 2 Corinthians 13:34-42 NLT.

I know I’m not alone. I know other people have stuff they want to tuck away from public knowledge. But I know freedom in Christ, that I can proclaim: He knows all about me.

My God accepted me, looked me in the eye, stood by my side when no one else would. On days when I would have walked in exclusion because of another’s judgment, he walked beside me.

Thank you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

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