Tag Archives: following Jesus

Joshua 8; Psalm 139; Jeremiah 2; Matthew 16

I thought a week off from routine would restore me. Now, a second week closing, I feel myself slipping into hermit mode. I pulled up Psalm 139 to read, and I cried. This is a Father’s loving hand upon a daughter’s head. He is right here with me. He knows me best. Even when I slip into hermitting, He comforts me in this new territory of angry grief. He does not abandon me.

(All of Psalm 139, NLT, because it is so good. Emphasis mine.)

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

A friend shared some hurtful things going on in her life, and by all accounts, her anger is justified. But I saw what it was doing to her and those around her. I said, “I get it. I’d be mad too. But how long is enough? How long (of being angry) will make you feel better? I hate to see you work yourself into a pit that’s hard to get out of.”

The words spoke into my life as well. At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to say it, because it can seem so unfair–but maybe the antidote for anger is forgiveness. Because the thing about anger, can it ever be satisfied–especially in circumstances where there is no justice? Some things can’t be taken back or fixed. Anger is like a hot coal being tossed into hands. How do (we) let go when memory sears?

Oh, Lord, point out the offenses. Lead me.

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?] Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26, NLT)

Lord, I would be so utterly lost without your word, your love, your forgiveness. Thank you for loving me so much, that even in the angry grief, you don’t leave me. You tell me to get back on my feet and follow you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 27; John 6; Proverbs 3; Galatians 2

He already knew what He was going to do.

Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. John 6:5-6, NLT

Philip looks around at what they have–a boy’s lunch of loaves and fish, and a crowd of thousands.

I glance at my calendar, empty grids awaiting my pencil to fill in the tasks–a lot of unknown, and it all feels too big. I know these days will move fast and powerful, and in my own strength, my limited sight and wisdom, I look around at what I have and at what needs to be done. I am thankful and clinging to peace: He already knows what He is going to do.

The people wanted proof and proof, even after their bellies were filled. Miracles are marvelous morsels, but they don’t sustain–only Jesus can.

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” John 6:26-31, NLT

I don’t need the miracles in order to follow Jesus. I know that by following Him, the miracles will come.

Spending time at His feet today, I find peace and rest. He calls me His child, and I am quieted. When urgency and unknown press against me, I fix my gaze upon Him. I listen and there is deep joy. These were the first words I read this morning, in Proverbs 3, Trusting the Lord.

My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
    Store my commands in your heart.
If you do this, you will live many years,
    and your life will be satisfying.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
    and you will earn a good reputation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
    Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
    and strength for your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the best part of everything you produce.
10 Then he will fill your barns with grain,
    and your vats will overflow with good wine.

11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

13 Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding.
14 For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
    and her wages are better than gold.
15 Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 She offers you long life in her right hand,
    and riches and honor in her left.
17 She will guide you down delightful paths;
    all her ways are satisfying.
18 Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
    happy are those who hold her tightly.

19 By wisdom the Lord founded the earth;
    by understanding he created the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the deep fountains of the earth burst forth,
    and the dew settles beneath the night sky.

21 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment.
    Hang on to them,
22 for they will refresh your soul.
    They are like jewels on a necklace.
23 They keep you safe on your way,
    and your feet will not stumble.
24 You can go to bed without fear;
    you will lie down and sleep soundly.
25 You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
    or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
26 for the Lord is your security.
    He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. Proverbs 3:1-26, NLT

Thank you, Jesus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 4-5; Luke 6

Trials, miraculous signs, wonders, war, a strong hand, a powerful arm, and terrifying acts. Right before your eyes.

35 He showed you these things so you would know that the Lord is God and there is no other. 36 He let you hear his voice from heaven so he could instruct you. He let you see his great fire here on earth so he could speak to you from it.” Deuteronomy 4:35-36, NLT. (emphasis mine)

39 “So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39, NLT.

These chapters are full of commandments.

The training field is real life.

Jesus speaks to his disciples:

“22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.” Luke 6:22, NLT.

He says when that happens to be happy, to leap for joy.

Sometimes it’s hard to make the connection between hatred/exclusion/etc to joy.

He says:

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” Luke 6:27-28, NLT. (emphasis mine)

I slow down and listen. This life, a training field. I read–

“40 Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.” Luke 6:40, NLT (emphasis mine)

A training field, a holy ground.

47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” Luke 6:47-49, NLT.

Lord, you are God both in heaven and on earth. I praise you! You are sovereign. Mighty. Awesome. An enemy schemes to distract me from you. Help me to keep my eyes on you: author and perfecter of faith–teacher–God. You show me these things, so that you can speak to me from them.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 4-7; Hebrews 3

Last weekend, I drove my daughter to a friend’s birthday party. It was at a gymnastics facility. I wasn’t familiar with the area, so I used my GPS. As we set out, the system directed me on a route that turned out to be a dead end because of a road closure. After a series of turns, the system recalculated my route, took me into a residential area, and directed me to take a left onto a road that didn’t even exist. In fact, this left turn would take me through a barricade and into a vacant, grassy lot.

We were lost. We were late. And I was frustrated. I didn’t even know my way home. (As I tried to navigate my way out of this neighborhood, to my amusement and surprise, the GPS announced we had reached our destination–and after a series of turns and about half a block later, we had.)

I thought long on the life parallel: the places we end up quite on accident by following faulty directions.

Hebrews 3 reminds–Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your heart.

The Israelites rebelled. They tested and tried God’s patience.

That is why the Holy Spirit says,

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled,
    when they tested me in the wilderness.
There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
    even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
10 So I was angry with them, and I said,
‘Their hearts always turn away from me.
    They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11 So in my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. 15 Remember what it says:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
    as Israel did when they rebelled.”

16 And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? 18 And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? 19 So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest. Hebrews 3:7-19, NLT.

Lord, this heart of mine is caught in a vicious war. It is assaulted and battered, churning on thoughts that certainly keep me out of your peace. I don’t want to follow a faulty path. In my faith journey, I want to rest confidently in who you are and what you can do. When thoughts try to lead me to dead ends, I want to remember your miracles and might. Thank you for the warning so that I won’t be deceived by sin and hardened against you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 16-18; John 6

He came so that we could have life.

Old Testament reading of a nation’s beauty, nurtured and tended, turned prostitute. God says of sin:

For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die. Ezekiel 18:4, NLT.

The warnings whisper through time, woven in example after example. Sin kills.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live! Ezekiel 18:30-32, NLT.

God speaks and HE is judge. It is not for me to sit back and tally offenses (help me, God, help me). He looks at it all, he is judge.

I was thinking on a New Testament story of a man who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” And then wondered to myself, “Who is my enemy?” God says to bless our enemies, to pray for those who persecute–and I read these verses and think of his heart: Turn back and live. Whether I or another falls into sin, it grieves his heart and he wants something better–will not forsake me and speaks over me: turn back and live.

Sin kills. It breaks apart families and friendships. It snares a heart and squeezes tightly. Lord, you came so that we could have life, and not just eternal life, but life TODAY.

Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

“Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” John 6:27b, NLT.

Where do I spend my energy? Is my time spent clinging to sin that strangles–ensnared in a trap? Lord, I seek and pursue you–you are my peace and my freedom.

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:32-40, NLT.

Lord, give me that bread every day. This is me: seeking, reaching, grasping, praying–and there you are: looking at me and not past me, never rejecting or losing me; life giving, heart changing, bread of life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 1-3; Psalm 9; Matthew 22

“The multitude of your sacrifices–what are they to me?” says the Lord. “When you appear before me, who has asked this of you,  this trampling of my courts? Stop binging meaningless offerings to me…Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. they have become a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them.” Isaiah 1:11-14.

When it comes to my relationship with God, in terms of activity, more does not mean better. Busy-ness is not what God asks of me. It is the heart in love with him that God seeks…the heart that sings out with David, “I will praise you Lord with all my heart; I will tell of your wonders.” Psalm 9:1.

So what does that mean? What does God ask of me? Is it to sit on some mountaintop and think wonderful thoughts about him and call it a day? The heart that loves God can not help but become more like him; I think that it wants what he wants:

“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

David’s heart cares for what God cares for,

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed…The Lord is known by his justice, the wicked are ensnared by the works of their hands.” Psalm 9:9,16.

The religious leaders who pestered Jesus misplace loving God with following religious rules and activities. How easy it is to fall into that trap. But Jesus sees through the smoke screen and gets right to the heart of the matter:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-39.

Lord, May my heart love you first and foremost. Show me today what it means to do justice and love mercy. Please protect me from seeking activities and rules that do not serve you. Give me the wisdom needed to hear your voice and a willing heart to be obedient. Amen.

klueh

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Joshua 14-17; Luke 17

I noticed a pattern in (my) readings this year, a lot about warnings: to not harden a heart against the Lord, preparing lamps, leaders and followers, a kingdom focus. Luke 17 is no exception.

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns, but you won’t see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘Look, there is the Son of Man,’ or ‘Here he is,’ but don’t go out and follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes. 25 But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation.

26 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building— 29 until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. 32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! 33 If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. 34 That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.” Luke 17:22-35, NLT.

Clinging to life and losing it? Letting go and saving it? Why does God’s way seem so counter-intuitive?

Joshua 14, Caleb testifies.

“Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’ Joshua 14:6b-9, NLT.

God constantly causes me to evaluate my definition of success, failure, living.

Thank you, Father, for your loving provision, for denying me things I thought I wanted so that I could receive life I never imagined. Thank you for your word, reminders (of your love) and warnings (about my ways). I want to keep my eyes fixed on you–to follow you wholeheartedly–and not look back. Praising you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

This song came to mind during worship this morning.  The Hebrews verse tucked inside–pure treasure.

25 But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation. Luke 17:25, NLT.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV.

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