Tag Archives: Gratitude

Isaiah 60-63; Colossians 3

How do we live out Colossians 3:23?

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.

First we work from the heart. We put our whole heart into what we are doing. If we are cheating at work we are really cheating God. If we slough off at home it’s really God we are dissing.

Second, don’t be a man pleaser. You are not doing your job for your boss, you are doing it for God, so don’t be looking to that person for your meaning and affirmation. Be looking to God. Yes, of course we want to be pleasing our family and friends, but it’s because we are first seeking to please God and follow His Word.

Third, work and serve without grumbling. God sees your situation and knows what is happening. Remember He has you right where He wants you so what you are going through right now is based on where He has put you. If you are grumbling about your situation you are grumbling about God.

Fourth, work without comparison. Remember Jesus giving Peter a mission for his life and he wanted to know about Jesus’ plans for John. In John 21:22 Jesus basically said it’s none of your business. Judge your progress on where you have come from, not on the other person. Do your best and forget the rest!

Fifth, we should be working to hear the words, “Well done” spoken to us by God our Father. He is the one we are pleasing. Keep those words in your mind. That’s our goal in the end.

Sixth, thank God for every circumstance in which He has you. In those times and situations remember you are God’s ambassador and work and live to please Him and thank you for the journey He has you on.

Father God, thank you for the opportunity to serve you in all that we do. Help us to keep our focus on you and work in a way that shows You and others that we long to hear those precious words, “Well done!”

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Exodus 22-24; Luke 23; Psalm 12, 14

14 “Each year you must celebrate three festivals in my honor. 15 First, celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast, just as I commanded you. Celebrate this festival annually at the appointed time in early spring, in the month of Abib, for that is the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. No one may appear before me without an offering.16 “Second, celebrate the Festival of Harvest, when you bring me the first crops of your harvest.

“Finally, celebrate the Festival of the Final Harvest[i at the end of the harvest season, when you have harvested all the crops from your fields. 17 At these three times each year, every man in Israel must appear before the Sovereign, the Lord. (Exodus 23:14-17, NLT)

A deliverance. A planting. A harvest. These are the three festivals for the Lord’s honor.

When I first started reading the scriptures today, I hoped that I could gain insight to a specific circumstance in my life. While the reading didn’t necessarily address it, I was reminded: God is just. And I trust in that. As I read about the festivals in His honor, I think of it symbolically today.

God delivered me from the captivity of sin and oppression. He has planted me in this place to sow what I will. And at the end of a life or a time, there will be a harvest.

19 “As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:19a, NLT)

These festivals were held yearly in the Old Testament–and I wonder if I looked closely at how I spend my time, what would I notice of sowing and harvest in a year? Would it honor God? Did I take what He has given me and use it wisely, intentionally? Have I given Him the honor and best of the harvest?

Lord, I’m so grateful for all that you have done for me. In this time of healing and discovering, I trust in you. I want to take my eyes of my broken heart and focus on purpose–a kingdom purpose. Help me to steward well what you have entrusted me. Help me to honor you and keep you as the focus of my heart, my words and my actions. Thank you for your Word that speaks to me of your presence and promises. Thank you for being trustworthy and just. Thank you for loving me just as much on the days I’m a shortsighted mess as you do on the days I’m bringing my best.

Courtney (66books365)


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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Old Testament

Numbers 19-21; Colossians 4

She was a mom of three. She devoted herself to home tasks, which later left her feeling helpless after his trespass and abandonment. The home, a prison. Her children, shackles. Outside her window, a perceived freedom of women climbing corporate ladders–she faced having the electricity shut off; broke and broken. It was too much. She felt hopeless.

***

Another woman was recovering during a time that felt like a life sentence. The nurses were wardens and the rules were constricting, restricting punishments. She felt all freedoms had been stripped away. Every day was punctuated by offense, oppression, complaint. The days ticked past. She praised the Lord for what he’d done in the past, but she was unable to praise him in the present for the meal, the care, the provision. She felt trapped, like she was in prison.

***

I was tasked with duties without warning. A lifelong obligation. A tethering, and sometimes too heavy–the bombardment of negativity, of opposition, of uncertainty. I fought against my own complaint, but sometimes, and sometimes often, I still complained. I fought against bitterness, and when I felt its squeeze, I cried out–oh, not this heart, Lord.  I remembered Paul. I thought of his chains.

Remember my chains. (Colossians 4:18b, NLT)

If he could find understanding and purpose in the worst of circumstances, could I find them in mine?

If I let him, could God use my circumstance to speak the Gospel? Could he use this circumstance to demonstrate his glory and goodness and sovereignty? What the enemy uses to break and beat down, could my God use to build upon and make new? Where an enemy declares an end, could God pronounce a beginning?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6, NLT)

Nothing is a surprise to my God, however it may surprise me. These things he knew before time. Tasks prepared in advance. Yes. Don’t let me miss it–that sometimes ministry is in the middle of mess and misery. For Paul, he was literally a prisoner in a prison, but for others, it’s circumstance that feels hopeless, punitive, imprisoning, endless.

17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” (Colossians 4:17, NLT)

Archippus, did you? Did you carry out the ministry the Lord gave you?

Lord Jesus, you have been with me every step of this journey, and you know how hard it’s been. You know how desperately I begged to quit from the pressure. And whether the job was heaped upon, handed over, appointed–you knew. And you intend(ed) it for my good and your glory. May it be so. Fixing my eyes on you, author and perfecter of faith. You can bring beauty from ashes.

May God’s grace be with you.

Courtney (66books365)

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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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1 Kings 22; 1 Thessalonians 5; Daniel 4; Psalms 108, 109

Our credit card number was stolen and charged fraudulently (the second time this year). My husband texted me early yesterday morning to ask if I had been shopping for shoes. No? He cancelled the card, which instantly redirected the day I planned.

Instead, I set about local tasks–one including tracking down the cleared title to my dad’s truck so we can sell it for his estate. It meant going to the MVA, which I had been putting off for months because–it’s the MVA.

I explained my situation to the first clerk, who told me I’d have to purchase a replacement and they would mail it to his house (out of town and the mail service forwarded). A second clerk said the mail couldn’t be forwarded and I’d have to go to the main office (much further away) and get it there. Then they handed me a wait ticket to meet with someone else.

I explained to this third helper what my situation was, and reiterated for confirmation what I was told at the first desk. She typed some things into her computer. A Whitney Houston song (I Wanna Dance With Somebody) came on their music system and my daughter pulled at my arm.

“Mom!” she said, and smiled. I sing this song to my dog almost daily, and she dances and prances for a treat she knows is coming. I told the clerk as much as my daughter and I grinned large–and the clerk smiled and giggled with us too.

The next thing I know, the clerk steps away to talk to a manager and comes back with a freshly printed, cleared title and we’re on our way.  (Thank you, Lord!) There were other big tasks to complete locally, and we got them moving along. (Only You, Jesus!)

When I got home, for the first time in many weeks, I felt lighter. (So grateful, God.)

There have been several times lately that God has put an abrupt stop to my plans. And when he does, I feel he makes a different way available to me. With a day that started with a cancelled card, I actually got more accomplished than if I’d been able to proceed with my original plan.

I read it twice this morning, once here and once on an Instagram image:

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

This year has felt overwhelming to me with the tasks and emotions associated with grief and loss. At times I’ve felt a real pressure of a weight upon my shoulders and heart. However, all along, I have sensed God’s hand involved in the details, in ways I never imagined. Even to the way he grabbed my attention with a song yesterday, like he was saying, “Pay attention. I don’t want you to miss this.” Title in hand, same day. And it didn’t stop there.

Lord, I know you are moving in my life and in my sister’s life. Thank you for people who help us. Yesterday was a miracle and blessing from start to finish, even though it seemed a bummer beginning. Thanks for focusing my wandering, worried mind on you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 34; Psalms 78:38-72; Isaiah 26; 1 John 4

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
    for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4, NLT)

I never would have imagined the events that have taken place in my life this year.

But for those who are righteous,
    the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
    and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
    our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
In the night I search for you;
    in the morning I earnestly seek you. (Isaiah 26:7-9, NLT)

And I can’t imagine walking this road without the Lord. I praise Him on the path. I praise His provision. I praise His name. His Word woven in heart and mind these past ten years studying–I’m so grateful.

12 Lord, you will grant us peace;
    all we have accomplished is really from you. (Isaiah 26:12, NLT)

Mrs. Ward* was a sister at first sight. And even though she struggled to get her thoughts out (a stroke), her hands were quick to lift in praise at the name of Jesus, and her praising words spilled out fluidly when other thoughts stuck and jammed. She was discharged yesterday, and I’m thankful for the quiet moments before she left that we could say goodbye.

I never would have imagined the events that have taken place in my life this year, but through it all, I am vigilant to look for God. And He is there. Peace giver. Road smoother. Rock. I hand him the things that overwhelm, and He carries them. He gives me rest. And on days where the fight is an enemy speaking condemnation, defeat and inadequacy over me–he sends me a sister in Christ, who otherwise struggled in conversation, to speak love, blessing and encouragement over me.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (1 John 4:9-17, NLT)

The sweet tears we shed, the joy. His Spirit, the proof. Her words, His love, lifted me on a difficult day.

Oh, thank you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

*Not her real name.

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Numbers 21; Psalm 60, 61; Isaiah 10:5-34; James 4

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,[c] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

Selfish; self-centered; entitled. These are all words that came to mind as I read through these verses and the attitude of the Israelites.  They were complaining about God’s provision for them.  They were not satisfied with what God was doing in their lives.  They wanted what they wanted NOW.  Like any good parent, God nipped this bad behavior in the bud.  He sent venomous snakes into their midst and people started to die.  He got their attention!  Once the Israelites were confronted with God’s discipline, they sought out Moses to speak to God.  Moses prayed to God on their behalf.  In response, He had him build a bronze snake and put it on a pole.  If they were bitten, all they had to do was look at the snake and they would live.  God made it obvious to them that HE was in control, that HE was their source, and that HE would provide for them.  They had to continuously look to Him.  God didn’t take away the snakes, but He provided a way for them to be saved.

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Selfish; self-centered; entitled. Again, these words come to mind.  This time, however, it is not the Israelites who elicit these adjectives, it is me as I see them apply to myself. There are times I have prayed for something and God has not answered the prayer in the timeframe I believe He should have.  I get in a bad mood, or start complaining.  I want what I want NOW!  I thought about how lately I have found myself dissatisfied with my life.  What are you doing God?  Are you even there?  What about me?  Selfish; self-centered; entitled.

Through time spent with him, I remembered who God is. He is God, and I am not.  He owes me nothing; I owe Him everything.  Even if I never receive another answered prayer or blessing, He has already given me the greatest gift:  His Son.  If He never does another thing for me in this life, He provided a way to live with Him forever in the next.  Every day I need to remember this.  Every day I need to thank Him.  Every.  Day.  I don’t have a bronze snake on a pole to save me.  I have an empty tomb and a risen Savior.  When I get outside of my self—my needs, my wants, my wrong motives—I see that truth clearly.  I can praise God with a joyful heart and lifted hands.

Father, I know I am selfish. I know I grumble and complain.  I know I am not always satisfied with my life.  Forgive me LORD for thinking I deserve anything more than you’ve already done on my behalf.  I ask for a changed heart—one of gratitude for who you are and thankful that you love me.  I ask for a humble spirit that I might look out instead of in and up instead of down.  I ask hoping my motives are right.  I do not seek pleasure, for that is fleeting.  I seek joy.  That comes from you alone.  In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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