Tag Archives: God’s love

Deuteronomy 1-3; Psalm 36; Luke 5

I bet after forty years of circling that mountain, it was pretty familiar territory. The Lord was telling them to move on.

“When we were at Mount Sinai, the Lord our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on (Deuteronomy 1:6, NLT).

I consider these verses in light of change and challenge.

29 “But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! 30 The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. 31 And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’ (Deuteronomy 1:29-31, NLT)

He looked for the best places to camp and guided with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.

If you need food to eat or water to drink, pay them for it. For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.”’ (Deuteronomy 2:6-7, NLT)

David’s psalm touches on good and evil. And I know from Deuteronomy (and my own life), God goes before me. He fights for me. He is just. I find peace in his goodness.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
    How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
    in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
    letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see. (Psalm 36:5-9, NLT)

I can trust him. Oh, if he is willing, will I not be healed?

 12 In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. (Luke 5:12-13, NLT)

Or:

22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 23 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[d] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!” (Luke 5:22-26, NLT)

If he says to go out deeper, will I not see his miracles?

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. (Luke 5:5-11, NLT)

Lord, I live in wonder and delight of you. Thank you for your faithfulness, love, provision and protection. Thank you for fighting for me and loving me tenderly and deeply.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Job 21-23; Psalm 101; Revelation 16

With a broad brush, I wipe the words across the page: sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. And isn’t that what Job and his friends were saying?

“Why do the wicked prosper,
    growing old and powerful?
They live to see their children grow up and settle down,
    and they enjoy their grandchildren.
Their homes are safe from every fear,
    and God does not punish them.
10 Their bulls never fail to breed.
    Their cows bear calves and never miscarry.
11 They let their children frisk about like lambs.
    Their little ones skip and dance.
12 They sing with tambourine and harp.
    They celebrate to the sound of the flute.
13 They spend their days in prosperity,
    then go down to the grave in peace.
14 And yet they say to God, ‘Go away.
    We want no part of you and your ways.
15 Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him?
    What good will it do us to pray?’
16 (They think their prosperity is of their own doing,
    but I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.)

17 “Yet the light of the wicked never seems to be extinguished.
    Do they ever have trouble?
    Does God distribute sorrows to them in anger?
18 Are they driven before the wind like straw?
    Are they carried away by the storm like chaff?
    Not at all! (Read Job 21:7-18, NLT)

Job’s story spans the spectrum–loss, grief, pain, anger, condemnation, confusion, despair, fear. He’s trying to make sense of heartache. Oh, aren’t we all?

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
    I will praise you with songs. Psalm 101:1, NLT

Sometimes my worship song rang out through tears this year as he taught me about trust and his sovereignty. This advent season of wait and hope, an end of year reflection of 2016 events near and far–I think of what God is doing in my own heart.

Father God, you care for every tear that falls from my eyes. You care for the condition of my thoughts and heart. You stand with me and encourage me through the difficulties and trials. Thank you for loving me as your dear daughter. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me. Oh, how I need you!

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 14-16, Psalm 76, 2 Corinthians 13

Flabbergasted. That’s me each and every time I read the Old Testament. I don’t understand how people who lived in the presence of real life prophets, messengers from God speaking to them words straight from the Father’s mouth, could be so blind. There seems to always be a tug of war, back and forth, hot and cold, all in or all out for the people of Israel.

If you were to just read chapter 14 of the Jeremiah, a non-believer or new Christian may think we have an angry God who is only out to get people when they don’t listen. “How unfair!” they say. Isolated passages are often taken out of context. People view his words from their entitled thinking that the people God created should be allowed to live however they want without consequence. I have to admit, though, even as a one who has studied the bible for years, there are plenty of times I read the words on the page and think, “This isn’t the Lord I have come to know and trust! I must be reading something wrong!” Sometimes the words seem harsh and unfair until you zoom out and read the backstory.

What really hit me this morning is that we are no different than the people of Israel. Messengers were sent by the Lord to speak his truth to them, warn them, correct them and turn their hearts back to him but they didn’t listen. Today, we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts but how often do we listen to His still small voice? God’s entire love story is about Him pursuing his children in love. Cover to cover, the theme doesn’t change and neither do the people! Just like our own young children, our listening skills and attention span are often short lived. When I read these words, I know they could have easily been written yesterday:

10-13 “When you tell this to the people and they ask, ‘Why is God talking this way, threatening us with all these calamities? We’re not criminals, after all. What have we done to our God to be treated like this?’ tell them this: ‘It’s because your ancestors left me, walked off and never looked back. They took up with the no-gods, worshiped and doted on them, and ignored me and wouldn’t do a thing I told them. And you’re even worse! Take a good look in the mirror—each of you doing whatever you want, whenever you want, refusing to pay attention to me. And for this I’m getting rid of you, throwing you out in the cold, into a far and strange country. You can worship your precious no-gods there to your heart’s content. Rest assured, I won’t bother you anymore.’ The MSG Jeremiah 16

Harsh but true words that can even be applied to my own heart. That’s why Paul said to the Corinthians:

5-9 Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise. The MSG 2 Corinthians

So, I must ask myself these questions. In what areas of my life am I walking away from God? Where am I not following his commands? Is my faith built on works or on the truth of His promise? Am I listening the voice of the Holy Spirit or the voices of the world? He won’t relent until he has our whole hearts.

Dear Lord. Thank you for your word that speaks truth. May we approach your throne with a heart of repentance in those areas we have gone astray and listened to lies instead of your truth. Turn our hearts and minds back to you and help us to listen and obey as your Spirit leads. Thank you for your relentless pursuit of my heart despite my wandering. Amen.

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Exodus 13-15; Psalm 114; Ephesians 3

Sometimes an enemy is right in front of you. Sometimes an enemy is in the heavenly places. But either way, God’s got this.

I heard a prayer over the weekend, how things might not look or go how we want them to, but that God’s got this and we can trust in him. He works things out in ways we don’t understand–for his glory.

“I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!” Exodus 14:4b, NLT.

I’m sure the Israelites never expected freedom to look like an army behind them and the Red Sea in front of them. I feel their panic. I hear their questions–a flooded brook of doubt, worry and regret emptying into an impossible sea.

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:13-14, NLT.

Just yesterday, I cracked the spine of Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan. And today, God meets me at the shore; he makes a way of safe passage; he tells me he will fight for me.

“With your unfailing love you lead
    the people you have redeemed.
In your might, you guide them
    to your sacred home.” Exodus 15:13, NLT

He takes bitter waters and makes them clean.

It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. 26 He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:25b-26, NLT.

He leans in and tells me to listen carefully to his voice. He finishes and says he will heal me.

Ephesians 3, I read.

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:10-12, NLT.

My week began with a prayer that God’s got this. And today, Paul’s prayer covers me too.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21, NLT

Father, I’m grateful that I can approach you, come confidently into your presence. You are the God who catches my tears. You are the God who quiets my fears. You heal me. You love me. You fill me with fullness of life. Your mighty power is at work within me to accomplish infinitely more than I can ask or think. I praise you for who you are. You’ve got this. You’ve got me. My life and my heart are safe in your hands. There is no place I’d rather be.

Courtney (66books365)

(No compensation for mentioning Robert Morgan’s book Red Sea Rules.)

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Hosea 1-3; Matthew 16

Five years ago I sat in a parking lot outside of a grocery store asking God a lot of questions. The answer I got was this:

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15, NLT.

I realize it’s a question I should be asking myself every day, in every circumstance. The answer will reveal the condition of my faith.

I read that old post through the lens of after and immediately wanted to cry. A lot has changed in five years. And still, who do I say He is? My God is still the same: almighty, faithful, loving, forgiving, jealous, powerful, just, and so much more.

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.
16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’
    instead of ‘my master.’
17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
    and you will never mention them again.
18 On that day I will make a covenant
    with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
    so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
    all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
    in peace and safety.
19 I will make you my wife forever,
    showing you righteousness and justice,
    unfailing love and compassion.
20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
    and you will finally know me as the Lord. Hosea 2:14-20, NLT

Lord, thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 6-9; Luke 7

When he walked into the room and saw me, his face lit up. He walked into a room of family and friends and it was his birthday celebration, and yet when he looked at me, his face lit up. I saw it and held that image in my heart.

“Did you see his face when he saw you?” my husband asked. Oh, he had noticed it too! And then my tears.

It was my dear friend’s 75th birthday, and all I could do was cry. He made his way around the room, greeting guests, but he spent the longest time with me. He pulled up a chair next to me, and we were head to head, and he talked to me like I was the only one in the room. I cried because I loved him so much. I couldn’t hold it back, and I tried–I mean, who cries through parties?! He calls me his daughter, and he and his wife treat my family like we are their own.

I always thought the story of the woman crying at the Lord’s feet was unsettling. It made me uncomfortable.

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. Luke 7:36-38, NLT.

That day celebrating my friend, the tears that wouldn’t stop, the overflowing of love for him–I suddenly got it. I went home that day and cried some more and wrote him a letter from my heart, sat at a desk crying as I realized God’s deep love for me, modeled through a man who calls me daughter.

These Deuteronomy verses are dear to me, and I read them with fresh perspective, being on the other side of a promise–a promised land, with streams and pools of water, of grapevines and pomegranates, olive oil and copper in the hills. In my notes, I write down what stands out to me: (OT) teach kids, land (provision), remember God (praise, love, obey, fear), blessing, he makes a way; (NT) signs and miracles, healing and forgiveness, the woman’s tears, “Your faith has saved you.”

I remember His signs and miracles in my life, His provision, His love for me (adoption and forgiveness of sins).

For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.

“The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you …” Deuteronomy 7:6-7a, NLT.

Father God, thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 32-34; Philippians 3

There’s movement in these pages–up and down a mountain, from captivity to a promised land, even a looking forward and pressing toward a goal. Citizens of heaven. Kingdom focus.

God tells Moses, “14 You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” Exodus 34:14, NLT.

Yesterday I was discussing medieval romance in the pages of Le Morte D’Arthur, and today in ancient pages I regard the biggest love note on my computer screen: a God whose name is Jealous, jealous for a relationship with me. He knows my name. He goes with me. He lavishes unfailingly love on generations.

At this, Moses falls to the ground to worship.

(I worship too, thankful.)

Lord, help me to see your kingdom with greater clarity. It’s hard for me put things in the light of your will, my vision so near sighted. Your peace covers me in knowing how much you love me, how much you want a relationship with me, and how you never will forsake me–you go with me. I want to remember this journey is one you mapped out, that you call and equip me for whatever comes up. My hope and confidence are in you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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