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2 Chronicles 29-31

Hezekiah takes an honest look. But more than that, he takes action.

Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. Therefore, the anger of the Lord has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” (2 Chronicles 29:6-11, NIV, emphasis added)

And by his order and example, the people follow.

He extends an invitation to celebrate Passover to neighboring areas.

10 The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. 11 Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. 12 Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:10-12, NIV, emphasis added)

God’s hand, their feet.

What starts at home works outward. A parent’s heart and choices. The involvement in the faith community. The effects of action and attitude in a whole region.

I was not raised in a Christian home, but I thank God for people who were and all those who came to know the Lord later–who took their calling seriously to share the Gospel with me, to tell me his name. But this presses on me: home is a powerful influence. When my children are grown and gone, it still starts in my home. What I watch. What I read. What I say and do. Who am I when it is just me?

Do not be negligent now

This reading speaks of wholeheartedness, abundance, faith, joy, prosperity. It even speaks of scorn, ridicule, abandonment/negligence, and faithlessness. It shows me the fruitful, joyful life and relationship with God, and the difficulty and attitudes one will face in the journey. Oh, do not be negligent now

20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered. (2 Chronicles 31:20-21, NIV)

Lord, help me to take an honest look at my life. When I wonder where I can make changes, immediately I know: my heart. I’ll start there. And I know that’s exactly where you’ll meet me.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8; 1 Timothy 5

It starts with me. It’s easy to want to credit someone else’s behavior for the stoking of my poor response, but truly, I am responsible for the things I say and do. As I read through 1 Timothy 5, I make sure to think long on this guidance.

Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. (1 Timothy 5:1-2, NLT, emphasis mine)

This link to family: as you would to your father; as you would to your brothers; as you would to your mother; as you would to your own sisters. Kindness begins at home. When this tenderness is modeled at home, it has the potential to affect a community, a world. The opposite is also possible–strife, banter, unkindness, coarseness, sarcasm … these things can also grow in momentum and branch out to the world.

Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. (1 Timothy 5:3-4, NLT, emphasis mine)

Many of the verses I read reference home and family, placing importance on interaction, relationship and personal responsibility.

22 Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader. Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22, NLT)

These sentences in verse 22 are blocked together, but I read them as two separate thoughts: one about appointment and the other about not sharing in another’s sin and a reminder onstaying pure. I would have to look further into them to see a connection, but I do think on the importance of sound leadership and the effect leadership has on a group. I do see a focus on individual accountability and warning to not participate in sins others commit–to keep oneself pure.

It starts with me.

24 Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later. 25 In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light. (1 Timothy 5:24-25, NLT)

Some things are obvious. Some things won’t come to light until later. I think long on my own choices, my relationships and influences, and where my focus ultimately rests.

Lord, you give me your word as guidance and wisdom to withstand the ages. May I always turn to you first.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 8-10; Psalm 144; Romans 12

I was reminded this week of the importance of caring enough for my wife that I need to be listening to her – really listen.  There is so much more peace in our home and I am such a hero when I do, that I cannot understand why I am not an expert on such matters by now.

Listen carefully
to my instructions,
    and you will be wise. – Proverbs 8:33   CEV

The same can be said of my relationship with God.  Listening means spending time with God.  I believe I have shared this before, but I believe God’s love language is – time.  It is when I stop spending time with Him that other voices have an opportunity of creeping in and messing with my mind.  Voices that even go so far as challenging the authenticity of my relationship with God.

Why do we humans mean anything
to you, our Lord?
    Why do you care about us? – Psalm 144:3  CEV

Ann-Marie and I went to visit a new couple from our church this week.  We wanted to call them and drop in and thought it might be too soon for that.  What a joy to be invited two hours later by them!  We talked all night about our relationship with God and how He has woven our faith from experiences gone by. Sometimes caring is exactly that – spending time with others, hearing their voice, celebrating new friendships.

Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home. – Romans 12:13  CEV

Father, I know in my head that You care for me, from time to time I wonder why You or any one else would matter to care.  As the evil one may want to take Your care away from me, allow me to practice to care for others, to listen well, to spend time with You so that I might be equipped, ready to accept the invitation from You or someone else to care for them in their moment of need.  There are not enough praise words in our language to speak to Your love for me.  I know how much You care – enough for a cross, a death, a burial and the joy of my heart – a resurrection.  Thank you Lord. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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2 Kings 21; Hebrews 3; Hosea 14; Psalm 139

It finally happened – my daughter is getting married. Could not be more excited – today they are looking at wedding dresses and I get to stay home and hold the fort.  Not sure what the rest of the world’s dads go through in these moments but I am thrilled for one thing – they have both come together to declare their future home to be centred by their relationship with God.

 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my name.” – 2 Kings 21:4   NRSV

I remember how my wife and I, we started our journey at 21 and 22, could only survive our first five years because of the confidence and pride we had in Jesus.

 Christ, however, was faithful over God’s[f] house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm[g] the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. – Hebrews 3:6   NRSV

We tithed when it seemed no one else was, we served and I think this was where we learned what boundaries looked like and we loved.  But all of that came from within, from the Holy Spirit.

O Ephraim, what have I[e] to do with idols?
    It is I who answer and look after you.[f]
I am like an evergreen cypress;
    your faithfulness[g] comes from me. – Hosea 14:8   NRSV

We found ourselves more willing to be vulnerable than most because we knew we were in the palm of God’s hand.  In that secure place, He made Himself known to us.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. – Psalm 139:1   NRSV

Not sure if you are familiar with, My Heart, Christ’s Home The story impacted me as I took the Navigator 2:7 course.  I still have a few rooms left to give to Jesus and I am working on one right now.  It is my prayer for my daughter and her fiance and for you and I, that our home is Christ’s home first and then the rest will follow.

Lord, my heart is your home. Many times I forget, even during the day.  I know I remember each morning that I wake, but let me remember all day so that others looking and watching how I live can see that you are a member of my family and my home.  I love you so much for loving me.  May my gift of love back to you be the time we spend each day together.  Amen

evanlaar

 

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Jeremiah 37, 21, 34; Psalm 79; James 5

The space between spiritual blessing and divine conviction: what am I doing when there? Working five days per week yields structure, routine, and purpose for me. Yet, come Friday, I’m like a child brought to the playground, letting loose of his father’s hand, running off to play. Well, almost. In reality, on Friday afternoon I eat a meal that I didn’t make, take up residence on the couch, and basically waste time dozing off and on while a mesmerizing box pours nonsense into my depleted, vulnerable brain. I started this habit several years ago when I lived alone and was suffering from loneliness and sadness.  It was my way of forcing the noise in my head to die down and the tension in my limbs to relax. Somewhere in this space, I hoped to find peace. Not unlike the drugs of addiction, really. A chemical solution to a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual problem, drugs anesthetize the hurt and pain or ignite and explode the numbing depression.

This space is, of course, a false interlude before the crashing realities return. Take for instance, the promise of peace when King Zedekiah commanded people to free their Hebrew male and female slaves, brothers to their Hebrew masters. God commanded that Hebrew slaves were to be freed after six years of servanthood, and for a brief time the masters let them go. Yet, it wasn’t long before the people were rounded up and taken back as slaves.

What went on between that time? Where did these Jewish slaves go? What were they doing? Did they lie on the beach each day, just thankful for a day without stress? Did they spend their days visiting family and eating home-cooked meals, or did they start projects around the house?

You may think my wandering thoughts are mundane and of little consequence, but let me ask you, “Do you look for that personal space where you can just do nothing if you want?” Why?

Why do we feel the need to get away? Why do we become weary? What disturbances in our world destroy peace in our hearts and why? James 5 has an interesting take on that space between suffering and salvation. Verse 7 – 8 says, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

This Scripture explains why on the morning after Friday’s down-time that I feel sick at my stomach (too much spicy food?), condemned in my spirit (seeking peace from a box on a stand?), confused in my mind (professing one thing, but doing the opposite?), and depressed and/or anxious in my emotions (wasting time, wasting energy?). I did not wait with the expectation that God may come right then. I did not establish my heart by seeking God’s instruction.

Well, one more Friday has vanished along with the regrets of a life that would have been better spent eating the Word which is sweeter than honey, looking for all that is lovely and uplifting, and waiting on God’s instruction for the night (might be sleep, could be holy visions…).

So I pray Psalm 79:

Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us… Help us, O God of our salvation…For Your name’s sake! So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.

I ask, Lord Jesus, that I learn to wait with hopeful expectation of Your very presence, and to participate in the sweet joy of living in peace with You now, and definitely next Friday!

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, James, Jeremiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms