Tag Archives: guidance

Numbers 11; Psalm 48; Isaiah 1; Hebrews 9

Those first days after my dad died, I found myself in the position of arranging his funeral and gathering documents. In the midst of grief, I had timely tasks to complete. Every day there were things to be done, calls to be made, distances to be traveled–and still my own responsibilities to be worked out. It felt like the hardest week of my life. In hindsight, I had no idea then what hard was. The weeks-turned-months that followed brought new responsibilities and unimaginable change. Every day, I am acutely aware of my need for God. I can’t carry this alone.

Oh, thank you, God, for the friends and professionals You’ve put in our lives who have surrounded us with prayer, encouragement, meals, help, and guidance.

When Moses talks to the Lord about what felt impossible, God responded:

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!” (Numbers 11:23, NLT)

It gives me peace to know I have a Father who knows what’s going on and hears my prayers. I can turn to Him in situations completely out of my control and trust He is in control. Whether in overwhelm or in praise, I call out to Him, my God forever and ever.

12 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.
    Walk around and count the many towers.
13 Take note of the fortified walls,
    and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
    to future generations.
14 For that is what God is like.
    He is our God forever and ever,
    and he will guide us until we die. (Psalm 48:12-14, NLT)

Lord, thank you. Thank you for catching my tears and hearing my prayers. Thank you for walking with me and for carrying the weight of these months–your strong arms that never lose power. You are sovereign. You are faithful. You are trustworthy. You are good.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

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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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament, Proverbs, Uncategorized

1 Kings 4; Proverbs 1-2; Psalm 43; Romans 9

I was at a curriculum fair in April. I looked at a seller’s books–the seller also being the author of a set of history books. (I’m using a different product next year, but I love books, so I stopped to look.)

She told me how her history book is just like the one I’m using, but it has even more information. I opened the pages and saw even more color coded facts, a rainbow of information spanning one page to the next, page after page, this tome. I closed the book, overwhelmed by all the facts seemingly strung along–the information weightier than the book itself, all this knowledge. And how to make order of it? Was there a system behind the colors? There were so many other vendors, I walked on.

I recently read a graphic novel memoir–the layout of the book and its weight denied the rich story contained inside. Through pictures and dialogue, I was hooked into a story that was heartbreaking, haunting and vivid.

There’s an audience for just the facts, and an audience that craves connection.

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
    to help them understand the insights of the wise.
Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
    to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
    knowledge and discernment to the young.

Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
    Let those with understanding receive guidance
by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:1-7, NLT

How often have I read through Proverbs like a long list? Just the facts? Not connecting? These opening verses gave me real pause.

These proverbs read like an invitation to connection, just stepping into the next words of verse eight, “My child …”

Lord, I want to clear my mind of all the clutter and lists and information–I want to be still at your feet and hear your voice. Help me to drink in the sweetness of your word, savor it and be nourished and refreshed by it.

Courtney (66books365)

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

1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3; 1 Timothy 1

He speaks as a father to a son.

Fathers, legacy, teaching, leadership, love–these things mean a lot to me.

1 Kings 6, 2 Chronicles 3 both speak of building a temple. I smiled at the details, because it reminds me of the thought and care that one might put into building a home. And home is a rich word. Old Testament building a home with cedars and gold, but in the New Testament, building up a home with guidance and encouragement. A home is more than ceilings and walls. A home is a first stop where hearts are shaped.

Paul speaks to Timothy as a father to a son.

Old Testament describes a house for the Lord, the attention to detail, the honor bestowed in beauty–a home built by a heart for God.

New Testament speaks of building a heart for God, words passed in love from a father to a son, to equip.

18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. 1 Timothy 1:18-19, NLT.

Paul’s instructions are for all believers.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 1 Timothy 1:5-6, NLT.

God, help my heart to be open to your instruction. Sometimes shipwrecking storms pull me apart and my conscience battles doing right. Sometimes I’m not even clear about what right is. Help me to guard my heart, so that it would be pure, my conscience clear and my faith genuine.

Courtney (66book365)

 

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Proverbs 16-18; Romans 15

We can make our own plans,
    but the Lord gives the right answer. Proverbs 16:1, NLT

It was a nudging that became nagging–a questioning of plans. I felt unsettled with the choices before me. It was hard to decide. I picked the easier path.

We can make our plans,
    but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9, NLT

I rested easier having made a choice. But a few months later, the nagging returned unexpectedly, and undeniably.

We may throw the dice,
    but the Lord determines how they fall. Proverbs 16:33, NLT

I wanted to hear answers and guidance from the Lord, and yet when I did, I questioned, “Is that what you really mean?” “Is this something to be aware of or to act upon?” In a matter of a few nights’ sleep, something clear lost its definition.

The path of the virtuous leads away from evil;
    whoever follows that path is safe. Proverbs 16:17, NLT

Proverbs has a lot to say about the foolish, the wise, and paths.

Those who listen to instruction will prosper;
    those who trust the Lord will be joyful. Proverbs 16:20, NLT

Lord, how can I hear you and then so quickly forget? It’s like a whisper in a dream and I wake up foggy. Help me to hear you better, Lord: to believe you and trust you. Is that what this is really about?

Courtney (66books365)

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1Chron.17; James 4; Jonah 1; Luke 6

Who teaches the Teacher??

Ask any parent… what is their primary goal as a father/mother? If you were to ask my Dad, he would have responded “to have you live on your own!” I can almost hear the laughs starting, but, there is wisdom in those words. Yes… I will admit… by the time I reached the age of 15, my Dad and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye… but did it mean that I was a problem child? Actually no… I had reached the age that I didn’t need to be ‘taught’ any longer… or so I thought. Regardless of what I wanted or thought I needed, my Dad was committed to preparing me to survive in the world after I left. Through his words and his actions, he was teaching me… preparing me to understand how to live… how to conduct myself in various situations. Like it or not, as parents, we’re tasked with the responsibility preparing our children to leave us! We impart our knowledge, our passions, our experiences on our children so that they can survive and know how to live. Quite a task… but as teachers… who teaches the teacher?? Who do we turn to as our model to aspire to? Is the right way to seek others as the guide? If we choose to focus on using others as models, we run the risk of comparing ourselves to others… not a healthy place to be. As Andy Stanley put it in his recent sermon message “The Comparison Trap”, there’s no win in comparison! Comparison spawns an insatiable desire to be better than someone else… perhaps a safer, more meaning option would be to look towards the Teacher of all teachers… Jesus!

The Bible is filled with examples of how Jesus assumed the role of teacher… and we can see this in Luke 6, where insightful points are made that underscore what it means to be a Christian as Jesus saves those who follow Him… He teaches us with the goal of us becoming more like Him.

Jesus uses a parable “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?” “A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

If any of you have seen my daughter’s photographic work, I know you would agree that she has an incredible gift. Recently, my daughter gave me a compilation photo that has a photo of me in different roles… the one photo that meant the most to her was that of ‘Role Model’ which touched me deeply. I always wanted to be diligent enough to positively affect my girls’ lives, but as parents we don’t often see the fruit of our efforts for many years. Often, we grow impatient and want/(need) to see results NOW… but as any teacher will attest to… often times the lesson isn’t learned on our time. But there is no denying that I have rubbed off on my daughters and have created a model they are using to gauge young men who express interest in them. Clearly, teaching, through modeling, to our children has tremendous consequences… good OR bad!!

God’s word tells us: train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Whatever direction we tend to be trained into, we have a tendency to keep going in that direction. However, the Teacher of teachers, Jesus, seeks to teach us an even deeper truth… that we only need follow Him and His instruction, as Teacher, and we can become more like the Teacher who instructs us. Why? Because God loves to communicate with His children… He enjoyed spending time with Adam and Eve in the garden, and He loves when His children call on Him or respond when He calls on them (Jonah 1).

I love the warning Jesus offers us in Luke 6:47-49… Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when the flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Heavenly Father… just as David modeled reaching out to You in 1 Chronicles 17, help to soften our hearts so that we seek You in all things… always… that when nothing seems possible, that we pray so we can experience the possibility and power of Your grace. As Your children, we are called to live out of grace and not our achievements. When we seek ourselves, our achievements, instead of You as our teacher and guide, whatever we do will never feel like enough. However, in prayer and turning towards You, we hope to discover the infinite possibilities of living out of grace… Amen!

Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 66 Books, James, Jonah, Luke, New Testament