Tag Archives: faithfulness

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.

 

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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.  

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Filed under Leviticus, Old Testament

Job 28-30; Revelation 18

20 Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds in the sky.
22 Destruction[b] and Death say,
“Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.”
23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.” (Job 28:20-28) NIV

Sometimes I read scripture and it touches the very core of my being.  Tears well into the corners of my eyes as I think about the goodness of God in my life. These words affected me this way.  I shudder to think where I would be if He had not pursued me.

Truthfully, I know exactly where I’d be!  Still searching for that one “thing”, that one “person” that would fill the emptiness inside me.  Nothing satisfied that longing for acceptance, significance, and unconditional love until I began my relationship with Him.

Quite a few years ago, I heard a sermon at our church that spoke of choosing one word as our focus each year instead of making resolutions.  I’ve been doing that for several years now and have been amazed how God has used each word in my life for something going on at the time.  The year I was unemployed my word was “abide”.  It was the perfect word for that season of my life because abiding in Jesus is what got me through.

This past year my word was “light” and I am not sure any of my words have had more of an impact. I started the year still in a deep depression that I had been struggling with for quite some time.  When He brought that word to my mind, it went with the verse “God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.” (1John 1:5b)  I knew He was my way out of the darkness of soul I felt.  During the course of the year, God has revealed the many meanings of the word through verses, studies, devotionals, and sermons.  God spoke and light came into being.  His word is light.  Light is illumination (makes things visible, gives you understanding, the proverbial light bulb over your head).  He taught me so much this past year about Him and about me—things I saw and understood for the first time.  Light also means “not heavy”.  He has lifted burdens from my heart and given me a freedom I didn’t know was possible.  I am truly lighter in so many ways.  Light is gentle, delicate.  All colors depend on light. You can light a fire, ignite a flame.  As I spent time with Him and let Him work, each of these meanings was revealed to me in different ways.

“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

If we ask Him, God will reveal wisdom to us.  Somehow or other as this year comes to a close, I feel wiser.  It really has been a year of growth for me.  It has been painful—I think I’ve cried buckets of tears as I’ve let go of so many lies (shun evil).  In order to do this, I’ve had to bring them out into the light.  Those lies buried deep in my heart were hidden in darkness.  But no more!  “Surrender it all to me”, I felt Him tell me.  I was afraid of the magnitude of the pain of doing that. “On the other side of surrender is freedom” was what I sensed Him telling me in my spirit.  And it was!  Once I surrendered that last bit of my past, that last piece I was clutching, came freedom.

Today is Christmas.  It is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He came to earth to set us free.  I have been singing Christmas Carols as long as I can remember but this year, in particular, there are many I cannot sing without tearing up.  The gratitude I feel for what He did by coming to earth and sacrificing Himself for me is overwhelming.  “O, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Merry Christmas!

Lord, thank you for Jesus!  Thank you for your plan of redemption through his birth, his life, and his death on a cross.  Thank you that he was raised to life once again and now sits at your right hand interceding for those of us who call upon His name.  Thank you for loving me as you do.  In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Job

2 Samuel 21-23; Psalm 18; Romans 3

I’m reading The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare with my youngest child. There is a scripture quoted in it repeatedly:

35 He trains my hands for battle;
    he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. (2 Samuel 22:35, NLT)

I paused in my 66 Books reading today, because that scripture appeared in 2 Samuel and Psalm 18. I took a longer look at David’s men, described in 2 Samuel. Of his elite three, I noticed qualities of strength, loyalty, perseverance, and courage.

Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled. 10 He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!

11 Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, 12 but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory. (2 Samuel 23:9-12, NLT, emphasis added)

I consider the army I thought would have been with me in my greatest battles. I remember the names of the elite who stayed.

He trains my hands for battle. He readies me for difficult tasks.

The Lord does bring about great victories. He’s looking for someone to stay (when they’re tired, to hold the ground when the army flees). Oh, times of testing reveal so much (I cast my cares upon him.).

True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him,

“You will be proved right in what you say,
    and you will win your case in court.” (Romans 3:3-4, NLT)

Lord, I fix my eyes on you. You are the source of my strength. You are my hope. You are true.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized

Deuteronomy 24, Psalms 114 & 115, Isaiah 51, Revelation 21

Over the past three years, life for my husband’s family has been rough. From unexpected deaths to tragic car accidents and everything in between, it has been a roller coaster. We have walked through very quick boughts of cancer where we fought hard and lost. Most recently, another cancer diagnosis on top of another family member’s serious motorcycle accident, has left us spending many days and nights in shock trauma and several other hospitals. Job loss, military deployment and simply day to day life has been difficult. After decades of seemingly wonderful blessings of good health and protection, the walls have come crashing down.

Just a few minutes ago I arrived home after taking the children to visit their 82-year-old great grandmother in the hospital. Her time left on earth is coming to a close and we were saying our goodbyes and praying for the Lord’s peace and comfort.

Life. Is. Hard.

We all go through seasons in our lives that take us up and down. Whether your experience was car accidents and failing health or something else, I’m sure you have suffered at some point in your life. But the Lord reminds us that he is always near. He always has been and always will be. Our sufferings and hardships draw us closer to him.

During the hardships while Israel was in captivity, they needed reminders of Gods’ power and his faithfulness. They needed to be reminded of all the trials the Lord had brought them through. We need the same reminders today.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father
and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
that I might bless him and multiply him.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;[b]
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

“Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my law;
fear not the reproach of man,
nor be dismayed at their revilings.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
and the worm will eat them like wool,
but my righteousness will be forever,
and my salvation to all generations.”  Isaiah 51

 

Life won’t necessarily get easier but through our hardships we can draw closer to the Lord and rely on him and most of all remember that his promises will come true because of his proven faithfulness over time. There are times when all I can do is cling to the last part of verse 8, “my righteousness will be forever and my salvation to all generations.”

 

Gram has been a very special lady in the lives of everyone she knew and even those she didn’t. She loved Jesus and his Church and cared for anyone and everyone around her. She was a hard worker, creative, fun-loving, deeply committed to her family and “Gram” to all. Though our hearts will mourn over our loss, we will rejoice in her healing and full restoration to health when she passes into the arms of Jesus.

 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21

 

Thank you, Lord for the time you give us to love one another and live these few moments on Earth with ones that we love. Lord Jesus, be near to the broken-hearted. Holy Spirit, bring peace and comfort to those suffering today and remind them of your faithfulness.

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Daniel 7-9; Psalm 91; John 19

Psalm 91 (ICB), a well loved and oft repeated psalm of refuge and protection throughout the centuries, one I have spent many a struggle professing; because sometimes it’s important to be reminded that I have a protector that can be trusted and that I am not alone:

1Those who go to God Most High for safety

will be protected by God All-Powerful.

2I will say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety and protection.

You are my God, and I trust you.”

Yesappa, I trust you. You are faithful. You are full of power. You are above all. Even in the midst of danger and trials, you can be counted on to protect me as your beloved child.

3God will save you from hidden traps

and from deadly diseases.

4He will protect you like a bird

spreading its wings over its young.

His truth will be like your armor and shield.

You outstretch Your massive arms over me acting as my covering. My Savior and Giver of Truth rescue me from that which seeks to trap and destroy me. Be my armor. Be my shield in the midst of my trials.

5You will not fear any danger by night

or an arrow during the day.

6You will not be afraid of diseases that come in the dark

or sickness that strikes at noon.

Make me brave and give me courage to face the dangers that come into my life by day and by night. Remove fear that tries to control me. Remove sin that tries to defeat me. Remove illness that tries to snuff my life.

7At your side 1,000 people may die,

or even 10,000 right beside you.

But you will not be hurt.

8You will only watch what happens.

You will see the wicked punished.

It doesn’t matter what happens around me, the destruction, the despair. My focus is on You. My understanding acknowledges Your judgement and rejoices at Your redemption, Your grace, Your mercy as I turn toward You, as I look at Your face.

9The Lord is your protection.

You have made God Most High your place of safety.

10Nothing bad will happen to you.

No disaster will come to your home.

11He has put his angels in charge of you.

They will watch over you wherever you go.

12They will catch you with their hands.

And you will not hit your foot on a rock.

13You will walk on lions and cobras.

You will step on strong lions and snakes.

I can walk without fear into the scariest of situations, the most dangerous circumstances and I am assured of Your care for me. I can be certain that You will never leave me nor forsake me. I can be firm in my belief that Your arms are a place of strength and safety.

14The Lord says, “If someone loves me, I will save him.

I will protect those who know me.

15They will call to me, and I will answer them.

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue them and honor them.

16I will give them a long, full life.

They will see how I can save.”

I love You Lord and I know that You Love me more than I can ever imagine. I call to You for help and You are there. You listen to my prayers. You give me answers, solutions to my problems. You put Your hedge around me, enveloping me in Your arms. You strengthen me. You encourage me. You give me life.

Thank You for being my refuge and my fortress. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings,

Julie (juliet2912)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Daniel, John, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Psalm 40, Proverbs 19-21, Romans 16

Have you ever felt invisible? Or maybe there has been a time when your hard work, act of kindness or good deeds went completely unnoticed or unappreciated.  From motherhood to the workplace, the day to day of living a life that is set apart from the way of the world is difficult and thankless.

I am always surprised by passages like this one in Romans 16 because just when you think the little people go unnoticed, names pop up that you have never heard before. At different points in my life I have definitely felt like a “no name” and that all my efforts are in vain. To make a name for yourself, you typically have to be over the top, smarty pants, super successful, rich or loud OR on the other end of the spectrum; ignorant, disruptive, or violent. Often, there is little room for the middle man if you want to be noticed.

But here in Romans 16, Paul recognizes 25 “no names” that never had their own book of the bible but made a mark in the faithful, day to day service to their Master. Here they are called patrons, fellow workers in Christ Jesus, fellow prisoners, chosen. Some “risked their necks” for Paul’s life and all of them worked hard for their fellow believers. Paul not only mentions these people by name but asks that the Romans would treat them in a way worthy of the saints and to accept them. These people’s faithful service in the day to day grind paid off.

When I read through the list of names and descriptions Paul gives, one word comes to mind; consistency. These believers didn’t just do one random act of kindness and then move on. They lived lives of service to the Lord. Some of them had actually walked with Jesus and other’s converted after he had already risen but they remained faithful to the Lord’s service. I know that deeds to not gain my entrance ticket to heaven but somewhere my name is written- I am not a no name any longer.

Before Paul closes out his letter to the Romans he gives a final word of warning to these people who have remained consistently faithful over the years.

 

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,[f] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Romans 16 17-20

 

Some things never change. That warning from Paul over 2,000 years ago is still true today. His warning is a reminder that if we are not careful our once faithful hearts can quickly be lead astray. As Romans 16:25a, 27 says, “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

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