Tag Archives: faithfulness

Deuteronomy 8; Psalm 91; Isaiah 36; Revelation 6

What did I learn in the wilderness? What did I learn in the wait?

Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, NLT)

Deuteronomy 8 is very special to my family. It is deeply meaningful, and I read these words in the space of “after.”

“So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. 10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:6-10, NLT)

Remember how the Lord led you through the wilderness? Remember how he humbled you and tested your character? He taught you. He taught you–we live. We live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. He is our provider. Remember and write it down–what you learned in the wilderness, what you learned in the wait. Do not forget it.

In Isaiah, representatives from Assyria come to Judah to intimidate and plant seeds of doubt.

These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. 17 Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.

18 “Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? 19 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? 20 What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?” (Isaiah 36:16b-20, NLT)

In a practical way, Judah is presented with an option to make peace and they can keep their lifestyle. Assyria appeals to comfort and safety–but what is the cost?

Lord, I sit with these words, a feast. You lead me deeper into relationship with you, and I pray fervently for focus. You capture my attention, and I linger here and wait.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

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

Job 23-24; 2 John; Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever. (Psalm 121, NLT)

Father God, I hold your precious words in my hands today, infused with gratitude that I can know you and be in relationship with you. I read in history of all the believers who lived and died to make such things possible for me–they are my brothers and sisters. I think back on recent years, and with more intentional thought of this past year. If my memories were a photobook, you were there in all of it. You were with me on the morning runs. You were with me in the creative spaces. You were with me in the-middle-of-the-night worries to hear my prayers. You were there to carry my burdens; to comfort me; to help me stand up again. You are faithful and loving and truth. You help me to walk straight paths through difficulties, and you protect me from threats I don’t even know about.

You have given me new focus and great gifts of peace, joy, and love. You have given me security in your promises and faithfulness. I lift my eyes to you, Lord. Joyfully. Gratefully.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Hebrews 1; Psalms 67, 118

In Hebrews, I read of the Father’s love for the Son.

I read of His delight, generosity, pride and affirmation.

I read in Psalms of His love, and it is faithful and enduring.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever (Psalm 118:1, NLT).

I thank you, Lord, for your goodness, your faithfulness, your trustworthiness. When I read about your attributes, my heart finds safety and security.

I got a package in the mail yesterday from a friend who has a special way of showering joy like confetti upon her friends. Inside were gifts that she knew would delight–soft things, lovely things, cozy things, tied in bright pink ribbons. Even the mailing label sported her colorful, festive, telling way of celebrating people in her life.

When I opened God’s Word this week and looked over the scriptures for today, I saw love. I saw love on every page. And I saw the writers’ response of gratitude and praise in return. He is so very worth celebrating.

Father, you show me how to love and live. You model delight and joy and generosity. You model faithfulness and perseverance and unchanging, stable grace. I open your word and my heart finds your embrace. I am so grateful. Thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, Psalms

Numbers 35-36; Deuteronomy 1-2; Acts 23

Acts 23:14-16 (ESV)

They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.

Confession time: I’m a perfectionist. I have long struggled with unrealistic expectations of myself – expectations regarding personal habits, my relationship with the Lord, and my ministry to others. As a result, I also struggle with comparison. I see the people around me who seem be excelling, and I feel defeated. I see the numbers of people others are ministering to, and feel like my feeble few isn’t going to make a difference. I see people gravitating to the “super-star” Christians and feel like I’ll never be recognized or appreciated for my effort.

This prideful line of thought crashes into insecurity: I’m not good enough. No one notices me. Why would God ever chose to use me?

The last few weeks God has been bringing this struggle to the forefront yet again. And I think today’s reading is exactly what I needed to confront my insecurities.

Right smack in the middle of Acts 23 we read of the plot to kill Paul. It wasn’t time for Paul to die – and God made sure of it by putting someone in the right place at the right time to hear the plot and intervene to save Paul’s life. Who is this person? He’s an unknown. In fact, we don’t even know his name. He’s simply labeled as Paul’s nephew.

Paul was an “A-list” character in this story, yes; but this background, unnamed “extra” had the most important role. This young man saved Paul’s life. This young man was the reason Paul made it to Rome. This young man was vital to God’s plan for Paul’s life.

Anytime that I struggle with feeling ineffective, I pray that God will bring this young man to mind. He was simply in the right place at the right time – and God used him in such an incredible way! I need to trust that God has put me where He has me for a reason. And eventually, it will prove effective. I don’t need be front and center, to have a platform, to reach hundreds or thousands. I need to be faithful behind the scenes.

So what if no one is noticing me, encouraging me, or recognizing my potential? So what if I don’t have huge following, and no one remembers my name? Is God’s approval enough for me?

Some people are called to impact thousands. What if God just wants me to impact one?

Lord, forgive me for making my ministry and my service to You about me. Forgive me for comparing myself to others and their successes. I want to be faithful to you regardless of where you put me or how much I’m noticed. Help me not to put unrealistic and unhealthy expectations on my own performance, but let me trust in your perfect plan for my life. Help me to remember it’s about the 1 sheep, not the 99. Let me make a difference in the small things and let me make Your name known over my own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Acts, New Testament

Leviticus 26-27; Numbers 1; Acts 13

In the beginning of Leviticus 26, God encouraged the people of Israel to obey Him by expressing the great rewards they would receive from their obedience. And then He said this:

Leviticus 26:13 (ESV)

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

He then shifted gears, and spent far more words warning of the consequences – the pain – they would experience if they disobeyed. The pain of acting in pride. The pain of acting in their own strength, in their own understanding, and in their own power.

The pain of forgetting God.

I think that’s why the transition between the promises of blessing to the promises of pain was a reminder of what God had done for the people to deliver them from bondage.

The single biggest factor in our obedience is remembering what God has done for us. If I could just remember how God has delivered me before, I’d have no trouble believing Him for this time. If I could remember how God answered my prayers before, I’d have no trouble asking Him for what I need now. If I remembered God’s faithfulness in the last trial, I’d find it easier to be faithful to Him in the current one.

But I forget. My fear takes over. Insecurity, pride, frustration, and the temptation to take matters into my own hands causes me to act like more like the Israelites than I’d like to admit. And it lasts longer than I’d like to admit, too. Because, while God offers so many promises and incentives for obedience, I find that I tend to respond far more to painful consequences than positive incentives.

I don’t think I’m alone in that. In fact, I think that’s why God spent more time talking about the painful consequences than the pleasurable ones. Because we tend to change only when the pain of staying the way we are becomes greater than the pain of change. That’s why pain is God’s biggest tool in our lives. He gets us out of the mess by pain.  And then, when we repent, as He promises in last section of the chapter, He can restore us and lavish on us the blessings of obedience that He’d promised in the first place.

If only I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

If only I could be faithful in seeking Him
before I find myself stressed out and overwhelmed.

If only I could decide to be kind
before my mouth gets me into trouble.

If only I could give forgiveness
before bitterness affects my other relationships.

If only I could learn to eat right
before I outgrow all my clothes.

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. What’s the key? Remembering God.

Father, forgive me for trusting in myself and what makes sense to me instead of obeying your directions for my life. Help me to remember what You’ve done for me, how You’ve proven Yourself to me, and how You’ve proven your ways are better than mine. I want to be faithful to you just as you’ve been faithful to me. I want to be motivated by Your promises, not the by the pain of ignoring you. Help me to live in Your presence and in the light of Your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Leviticus, Old Testament