Tag Archives: family

Isaiah 34-35; Ephesians 2

At some point, the crickets’ song took over summer, reminding that a new season approaches. During a morning walk, honking geese overhead shake me from a summer dream almost like an alarm–a new season approaches. I remember thinking, “It’s only July–you’re going the wrong way!”

My calendar said there was still plenty of time. But suddenly it’s two weeks later and two more to go will go in a blink. When I was young, the days seemed long. Now I find myself wishing for more hours in the day.

Lord, help me to keep a Kingdom focus. When I find myself small, discouraged, I want to remember, you are mighty.

16 Search the book of the Lord,
    and see what he will do.
Not one of these birds and animals will be missing,
    and none will lack a mate,
for the Lord has promised this.
    His Spirit will make it all come true (Isaiah 34:16, NLT).

A friend reminded me, the Lord is a redeemer.

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
    The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
    and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
    as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
    the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
    and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:1-4, NLT, emphasis added)

A changing of seasons seems almost imperceptible when I operate in the daily–laundry, schedules, appointments. One day the trees are budding. Another day, I am aware of the rich aroma of full flowers saturating the air. Now the mornings have a pleasant chill that make me want to run faster and farther. A kingdom here, a kingdom near, and I am reminded I am his.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-8, NLT).

An accuser wants me weak and fearful–unwanted, worthless, abandoned. Faith tells me I belong. I am his.

19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family (Ephesians 2:19, NLT).

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 2-5; Acts 14

I read of family, purpose and responsibility in Numbers. Families that are set aside under a banner with specific tasks to lead in a direction, to carry special cargo or to manage a task. These themes are deeply meaningful to me. Family members are counted. They are unified in a common goal to serve as the Lord directs.

Again, these themes are deeply meaningful to me. I sit with the words and hold them like a precious gift.

Acts 14 and Paul and Barnabas are met with opposition. They flee to preach the Good News elsewhere and encounter a man with crippled feet.

While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. 10 So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking (Acts 14:8-10, NLT, emphasis added).

Father God, I am so thankful that when you look at me, you see worth, a daughter, a beloved. Thank you for bringing me into your family and entrusting me with tasks and responsibilities for your glory and my good. Oh, even if my father and mother abandon me, you Lord will hold me close.

Courtney (66books365)


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1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10-11; Titus 1

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 3 And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” 5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. (1 Kings 12:1-5) [ESV])

What an opportunity Rehoboam had to gain support of people to be on his side and serve him with joy! His father Solomon had made the lives of those who lived in Israel hard and difficult. Here was an opportunity for his son to usher in a new era of freedom and peace.

He consulted the older men of the kingdom asking them what he should do and they gave him sound advice. However, he listened to the young men without experience. And their advice was to reply to the people that his little finger was going to be heavier than his father’s thigh. And it split the kingdom!

Now I’m sure this was all in God’s plan. He is the God who’s designs and plans are carried out among the nations. He sets up and removes kings and kingdoms. But what folly. Here the king had an opportunity to win over the people and instead he alienates his kingdom.

Okay how do we apply this to our lives today? As I read this I thought of my children as they were growing up. Some families have strict rules and rituals (I call them) and the family and the children our miserable. Other families are out of control. I thought of two things, first I grew up in a home where we didn’t have a lot of fun. My dad died when I was young (9) and it was a struggle from then on. But there was love in our home. Second, I wanted our children to grow up loving Jesus. So those were our two guidelines, let’s have fun and let’s love Jesus. That worked well for us. When you have an opportunity to make your family or your coworkers lives better or worse, more fun or more tedious what do you choose? I suggest you choose having fun and loving Jesus.

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Song of Solomon 4-6; 2 Thessalonians 1

I have read some 55 marriage books in my lifetime – almost one per year of my life.  Currently I am reading one that has been out there for a while but I just picked it up on sale (Dutch men can be like that).  It is authored by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and it is called, Cracking the Communication Code.

Pretty sure that I have shared before that my wife and I have been married now for 33 years.  I read books on marriage because I want to grow and keeping growing.  Do not think for a moment that an adventure will pass me by – no way.  I want everything possible from my marriage and more and I am not afraid to engage others in sharing what they have learned.

One key ingredient in a healthy marriage is the ability to say, as often as possible and as creatively as possible, I love you to each other.

My darling, you are lovely,
    so very lovely—my darling, you are lovely
    in every way. Your love is sweeter than wine. – Song of Solomon 4:1,7   CEV

Young women of Jerusalem,
    he is my lover and friend.  – Song of Solomon 5:16

So it is not that odd when I think of our Church family and in particular, my small group, in the same way.  If I am surrounded with faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love, then I too, as part of the Church family, should be growing in my love for them too.

My dear friends, we always have good reason to thank God for you, because your faith in God and your love for each other keep growing all the time. – 2 Thessalonians 1:3  CEV

That is a lot of loving.  It challenges me every morning to meet with God and tell Him how much I love Him too.  The one difference from my spouse and my Church family is that God always tells me He loves me too.  In fact, He sustains me with His love, carries my through the day, gives me the Holy Spirit to do what He asks me to do and mostly that means loving other people. What a joy to grow in my love of Him every day – He nourishes my life.

Father, thank you for meeting with me each time I call out Your name.  No matter where I am or what I am doing You come and enter my world and fill me with Your love.  I never have to operate out of my own energy or expect anything from anyone else – You alone are all I need.  Thank you for continue to change me, cause me to grow, for allowing me to see You differently each day.  You have blessed me with Your love and I am so very thankful.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

 

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Deuteronomy 6-9; Luke 7

This morning’s reading is ripe with implications for our families in the 21st century. And being a Christian Educator at heart these words below from Deuteronomy 6 resonate strongly with me.

1″Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
4″Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:1-9 [ESV]).

If Moses were writing this to us today he’d say something like the following. When you are with your children put your cell phones and tablets away and tell them about God. When you go on trips sing songs and share Bible stories about Jesus. Have reminders in your home that trigger conversations about Jesus. Read God’s Word at the dinner table which means you all need to eat together.

We are reading a short Lenten devotional every evening at our dinner table. It needs to be concise enough that our daughter with Down syndrome doesn’t lose interest and yet deep enough that she gets something out of it — and her parents do too.

What are you doing to engage your children or grand children on a regular basis in the things of the Lord. Why not start following the teaching of Moses!

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Genesis 47-48; Psalm 25; Galatians 3

Joseph has been heavy on my mind–not only because of the readings, I’ve heard his story preached online a lot recently. I consider him, his trials and testing and perseverance in light of a bigger plan.

This weekend marks a year since my father’s death, and a year since my whole world shifted. Joseph likely never imagined the turn of events that one day as he trotted down at his father’s request to check on his brothers at work; I look back in contemplation at a year I never could have imagined.

My focus with Joseph was a list of questions: Did you know your brothers hated you? What were you thinking as they sold you as a slave? What went through your mind when Pharaoh’s wife set you up? And those years in prison–how did you get through each day of wait?

But today, I focus on what God is doing. Certainly, I’ve seen his hand in my own life this past year–even recently, when our dog got loose. She’s been gone several days. I sat on the couch last night under a wave of gratitude for a God who loves me and loves my dog, who has taken a heart-aching situation and used it to open doors to prayers I’d been whispering to connect with others in my community. In the process, he’s sparked a new flame in my heart. He is molding me into someone new.

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust. (Psalm 25:1, NIV)

And this is how I can look back at a hard year, grateful, that his hand has never left mine–in fact, he holds me. He has not forsaken me.

Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:4-5, NIV)

Lord, how I’ve learned what little I can control, sometimes not even my own tears. You have taken my head knowledge and moved it into my heart to show me so very personally that you are sovereign and your ways are good. When trials cut deep, you are with me, catching every tear, and working every moment for my good and your glory. Thank you for holding me and my family, and I pray that you’ll bring our dog home to us soon.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Numbers 3; Psalm 37; Song of Solomon 1; Hebrews 1

These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar – Numbers 3:2 NRSV

I wonder how Moses felt seeing the sons of Aaron given lineage to the house of Levi while he had nothing to pass down to any of his family. As I just entered my 55 year and entitled to my first seniors discount at my local pharmacy, I look back at my life and see the hand of God.  I am sure Moses saw the same.

Do not fret…Trust in the Lord…Take delight in the Lord…Commit your way to the Lord…Be still before the Lord… – Psalm 37:1-7 NRSV

I had a pastor that loved Psalm 37 and preached it often.  So my life was shaped by  these truths and the promises are real. The relationship I have experienced with God is one where worry and anxiousness are replaced with peace, where faith grows so much through each encounter with Him that trust becomes second nature, where I look forward to spending time with God just to enjoy His presence, to understand that where I am He wants me to be His and to take time not only to do the talking but the listening as well.

Ah, you are beautiful, my love;
    ah, you are beautiful;
    your eyes are doves.
 Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved,
    truly lovely. – Solomon 1:15-16

Jesus has made that happen.  I was introduced to Jesus when I was 14 years old having attended a Sunday School class only for the third time.  I knew who He was, no one ever told me why.

But in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,[a] whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains[b] all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high – Hebrews 1:2-3 NRSV

Lord, I find it easier and easier to call you my Lord as You engage into my life and where everything in my life matters to You.  As You make my life matter, more and more I realize that all that really is important in this life is knowing and following You.  May my heart never find itself in a place where I take You and Your presence for granted.  May I share my inheritance with those who do not have the same hope, may my testimony set people free, may Your grace always sustain me, may You be glorified and praised because of what You have done in my life.  You are beautiful, my love…

evanlaar

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Uncategorized