Tag Archives: friends

Job 12:13-16:10

I recently caught up with a friend who has been going through severe and mysterious health ailments. Tentatively she shared a detail, then another. I don’t have the full picture of what she’s been through these past months, but I recognized a holy privilege to be invited into any space of her journey. (Oh, the awe of holy ground. I do not want to mar it with an impulsive or incomplete response!) As I listened to her, I heard the natural bubble of her voice. She has always been joyful. And even in this, she waits with joy and patience and confidence.

“I have heard many things like these;
    you are miserable comforters, all of you!
Will your long-winded speeches never end?
    What ails you that you keep on arguing?
I also could speak like you,
    if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
    and shake my head at you.
But my mouth would encourage you;
    comfort from my lips would bring you relief
.” (Job 16:2-5, NIV, emphasis added)

I wonder if it is the deep lows in life that allow one to speak comfort to another. Empathy. Compassion. Sincerity.

I don’t know all that she’s experienced in this trial, but I know she still walks by faith on this dark path. She looks at me and shines her light. She is in the deep lows, and yet when our conversation was over, I felt hope, comfort, and relief because of her joy and confidence.

As I read through Job’s story, I think on his friends and their responses. They speak in judgment. They speak judgment of God. But God wasn’t penalizing or punishing Job–God called Job faithful. Maybe someone carries a heavy burden because of mistakes they’ve made, or from actions made by others. And maybe someone was appointed by God to carry a heavy burden, because God knew he could.

Lord, I hope I always remember the person’s heart who walks through heartache and trial. I pray that you would give me guidance how to comfort, encourage, or even to be still as I bear witness the journey. I pray that in my own walk, that you would send me support to encourage me for burdens I might carry. I give thanks for my friend, Lord, and your presence with us.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 11-13; Psalm 8; Romans 13

The prompts were simple: What are you saying no to next month? What are you saying yes to?

Depending on the end goal, an answer could be no to donuts, busyness, or, as I chose, fear. One might say yes to exercise, moderation, or, as I chose, presence. It was a simple prompt. I looked over months of these prompts and I found I was saying no to a lot of things, including: fear, negativity, excuses. And yes to more, including presence, preparation, and discipline.

It seemed important to define the things I was rejecting and the things I was accepting. I think we can accept things we should reject without even realizing it. With three chapters of Proverbs in my reading today, a contrast is clear.

19 Truthful words stand the test of time,
    but lies are soon exposed.

20 Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil;
    joy fills hearts that are planning peace!

25 Worry weighs a person down;
    an encouraging word cheers a person up.

26 The godly give good advice to their friends;
    the wicked lead them astray. Proverbs 12:19, 20, 25, 26, NLT)

 

Here, wisdom and folly stand on opposite sides of the line. The choice is for the taking: truth or lies, deceit and evil or joy and peace, worry or encouragement, godly friends or wicked ones.

There’s a saying “You become like the five people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.”

20 Walk with the wise and become wise;
    associate with fools and get in trouble. (Proverbs 13:20, NLT)

This year I’ve had frequent reminders to guard my heart. Guard it against what I allow to grow inside it. Guard it diligently regarding the external influences and circumstances around me.

Lord, sometimes circumstance muddles simple questions–what am I accepting, what am I rejecting? I spend time there, knowing those answers affect my heart and the issues of life. Thank you for your word for instruction and encouragement. Thank you for never leaving me (and the many treasured ways you show your love to me). Thank you for the sweet gift of good friends.

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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Psalm 109-111, Romans 16

It’s easy to want to skim through Paul’s opening of Romans 16, and that’s always a reminder to me to slow down. To think I would have missed it, as he gives his greetings.

To Phoebe, a deacon, who was helpful to many … especially Paul. Priscilla and Aquinas, co-workers in ministry, risked their lives for him, host church meetings in their home. Epenetus, a first follower in Asia. The many who worked hard for (Paul’s) benefit. Andronicus and Junia, in prison together. He remembers and greets his co-workers in Christ, people who are Good Guys, hard workers for the Lord, brothers and sisters in God’s family, even one who was like a mom.

These people mattered to Paul, and no doubt their love affected the lives of other people–then and today.

I think of people who’ve walked beside me during (or perhaps shared in) a hardship. Ones who mentored me, like a mother, sisters–examples to follow and imitate. Ones who’ve risked comfort or reputation to stand by me. The ones who’ve opened doors of hospitality. Those who’ve been hard workers in ministry. The cookie bakers, the weed pullers, the ones who stay late after a party to help clean up, the ones who show up with grace at Your prompting. You know, it’s a pretty lengthy list, all of it. A humbling love list. I’m so very thankful.

Lord, thank you for brothers and sisters in Christ who’ve acted as your body here–to carry a burden and lift it, to offer love, to be an advocate for prayer, those people who stand in the gap.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 22, 23; Revelation 10; Zechariah 6; John 9

What others say …

Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Ahab’s family had done. They even became his advisers after the death of his father, and they led him to ruin. 2 Chronicles 22:3-4 NLT.

What God says …

a priest brings people back under God through obedience; prophecy; rebuilding for the Lord; a blind man sees.

Sometimes the differences between the two can cause a great division of opinion.

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them. John 9:16 NLT.

People might call “treason” when the boat of familiarity and habit gets rocked. Friendships can sever when one follows the Lord and the other follows the crowd. I’ve seen this from various angles in my own life.

A few years ago I read a book by Andy Stanley called The Principle of the Path. In it, he explains how we reach a destination, not by accident, but by a series of steps taken on purpose. The end result may be far from where we planned to be when we started out, but it should come as no surprise when we examine the choices we’ve made that lead us there.

It’s always good to examine myself: who are my influences; where am I weak; what are the choices I’m making and where are they taking me (in health, in my family, in my walk with the Lord)?

Lord, help me to see, and to change. I want to be attuned to your voice.

Courtney (66books365)

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