Tag Archives: faithfulness

Proverbs 31; Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:8

Tomorrow marks the eleven-year anniversary since we settled on the house we call home. (I celebrate every year here.) I spent yesterday putting a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen. It had been almost eleven years since I painted it last. I thought back to that first time painting over the former owner’s warm yellow with a coat of white. And for some reason, my thoughts went to our house before, and the time I put in painting a mural for our first child’s nursery. How at the time, I was anticipating my first child, not knowing that that room would be the perfect room for a next woman’s young child. I wondered about a future day that all the changes we’ve made to this home will someday be viewed by a next owner–more than just a coat of paint, truly.

So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 2:17-19, NIV)

I read the scriptures for this post yesterday, and thought on them while I worked. Thought of what seemed like opposite perspectives: from the example of a diligent (Proverbs 31) woman, whose work not only shaped and showcased her character but was a blessing to her family and community to the neighboring scriptures of Ecclesiastes, fraught with melancholic undertones of meaningless toil and repetition.

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, NIV)

I notice the difference again between the things we can’t touch and the things we can. To the one who pleases God, wisdom, knowledge and happiness–intangible wealth! But to the sinner, the gathering and storing up of wealth that can’t be taken beyond the grave. The underlying character of the Proverbs 31 woman … and the undeniable truth in this:

16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
    the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die! (Ecclesiastes 2:16, NIV)

Lord, I have truly enjoyed the cyclical labor of the land of this home–although it’s definitely beaten me more than I’ve subdued it! Thank you for a home that’s been a fertile ground for treasured memories, joy, companionship, celebrations, and so much more. When I celebrate this home, Lord, I celebrate you and all that you’ve done in our lives–and in that, there is great meaning to me. Thank you for seeing me, Lord, and loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Nehemiah 8:9-11:21

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned away from God.

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. (Nehemiah 9:16-18, NIV, emphasis added)

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned to God.

32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. 33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. 35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.

36 But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. 37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress. (Nehemiah 9:32-37, NIV, emphasis added)

I sit with these scenarios. Sin. Choice. Slavery. In the first, wanting to return to it. In the second, slaves again. I read these words, just now, and know that I will sit with them throughout the day.

Lord, help me to keep a kingdom focus. Help me to guard my heart–to remember your goodness and all that you’ve done; to not become hardened or unwilling to serve you. While (kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors) made decisions that affected me, I am still and only responsible for my obedience to you. Help me to live in the free indeed found in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 36; Revelation 22; Malachi 4; John 21

My husband said when he was growing up, his parents used to tell him and his siblings to, “Keep your eyes on your own plate.” I think on those words now as I read the conversation between Peter and Jesus on the shore.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:17-23, NLT)

Lord, help me to keep my nose in my own business and to trust you to handle your business. The other passages tell that you are able. You handle big jobs–from offering compassion, second chances, and warning, to guiding nations and issuing consequences. Even here on the shore, I love that you care for the disciples in smaller but loving ways, that you prepare a meal for them and knowingly direct them where to drop the nets. Help me to be aware of what you ask me to steward and not be distracted. Help me to carry that focus into a new day and a new year–to live intentionally and joyfully in the challenges and in the everyday. Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 10, 11; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

28 In this way, Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel. 29 He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin.

30 Nonetheless the Lord said to Jehu, “You have done well in following my instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation.” 31 But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. (2 Kings 10:28-31, NLT)

A nightmarish scene. Merciless slaughter and destruction. He moved through the area with purpose. Taking in the scene with the eyes of a spectator, I’d say he gave it his all. But reading the words that follow, seeing the unseen, I learn that he didn’t. I am frozen by the subtlety of sin that takes refuge in a heart.

14 “But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.

23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
    and raise them for myself.
I will show love
    to those I called ‘Not loved.’
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’
    I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’” (Hosea 2:14-15, 23, NLT)

Jezreel–God plants–and the fruit transforms generations. I am touched by his tenderness, his faithfulness, his grace.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:5-7, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I sit with your words today in deep contemplation. I don’t want to sleepwalk through my life, thinking I’m doing my best and then realize how much I held back (or how much I held onto). Help me to fan into flames the gift you’ve given me, to live in the power, love and self-discipline of the spirit you’ve given me.

105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 1; 2 Thess. 1; Daniel 5; Psalms 110, 111

“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him.” 2 Thess. 1:3-11 NLT

I am amazed at Paul’s faith and his ability to encourage when he is in prison. I think of when I am going through a trial. Sometimes I feel too stuck in my own pain, to reach out to someone else. But, when I do, I am reminded that I need other believers just as much as they need me. This letter could have been just what the Thessalonians needed to hear to keep going. They were human like me. I’m sure they were discouraged and hopeless at times. They needed wisdom from someone like Paul, who was stronger in his faith, to not give up. I wonder if Paul felt adequate for this position? I think he had to stay humble and ask God daily for wisdom. Isn’t this what I should be doing?

Who am I speaking life into today?

“The Lord stands at your right hand to protect you. He will strike down many kings when his anger erupts. He will be victorious. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.” Psalms 110&111 NLT

Dear Father, I pray for wisdom. Thank you that you are a generous God. You give me more than I ask for. Thank you for always being with me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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