Tag Archives: Honesty

1 Samuel 27; 1 Corinthians 8; Ezekiel 6; Psalm 44

The psalms are honest in their expression. They give me permission and example to reflect, to speak to reality, to plead. I learn from this.

In psalm 44, I see this honesty, and I am challenged to praise God. To remember well.

They did not conquer the land with their swords;
    it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
    and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
    for you loved them.

You are my King and my God.
    You command victories for Israel.
Only by your power can we push back our enemies;
    only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow;
    I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
    you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long
    and constantly praise your name. (Psalm 44:3-8, NLT, emphasis added)

I am challenged to lay down my confusion, my heartache, my struggle–look at it and call it what it is. To get real and honest in the ugly.

But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.
    You no longer lead our armies to battle.
10 You make us retreat from our enemies
    and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
11 You have butchered us like sheep
    and scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your precious people for a pittance,
    making nothing on the sale.
13 You let our neighbors mock us.
    We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
14 You have made us the butt of their jokes;
    they shake their heads at us in scorn.
15 We can’t escape the constant humiliation;
    shame is written across our faces.
16 All we hear are the taunts of our mockers.
    All we see are our vengeful enemies. (Psalm 44:9-16, NLT)

I am challenged to go before the Lord, boldly. He’s my hope, always.

23 Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
    Get up! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you look the other way?
    Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
25 We collapse in the dust,
    lying face down in the dirt.
26 Rise up! Help us!
    Ransom us because of your unfailing love. (Psalm 44;23-26, NLT)

I know these years I’ve learned to suppress the depth of my feelings in myself and my conversation. I’ve also held back from seeking the Lord. This is a lonely, helpless, hopeless act masquerading itself as strength.

Father God, you’ve been so good to me. I know that no matter what happens, you are with me. I can trust you. I can trust you with the truth of my wounds and suffering, and you won’t turn away. You won’t smirk at my hurt. You won’t avoid it. I can praise you and lament and plead in the same breath, and you still stand. I can whisper and I can wail and I can rage, and you can take it. Teach me how to live, O Lord.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 46; Mark 16; Job 12; Romans 16

I was sick for a week in January. The next week, I tried to resume my regular running schedule with a new brand of shoes, and I developed shin splints within days. Benched from my run, I used that time to heal and to track down a pair of my discontinued favorite shoes. Then last week, I had two wisdom teeth extracted, and I’ve been waiting for the pain to subside to go back to my run. It’s been a month since I logged any consistent miles.

My daughter and I talked about intentions and discernment. I used the example of running–that I can want to be a runner, but I’m not a runner if I don’t run. Maybe that example lends itself to other areas–to be hospitable, generous, helpful one must offer hospitality, generosity, help–otherwise can he claim to be those things? Isn’t a man what he repeatedly does?

Paul lists the names of people he has remembered for their actions:

Phoebe, she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.

Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home.

Mary, who has worked so hard for your benefit.

Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did. (He mentions dear friends and coworkers for Christ.)

Apelles, a good man whom Christ approves. Tryphena and Tryphosa, the Lord’s workers, and dear Persis, who has worked so hard for the Lord. Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and his dear mother, who has been a mother to me. (Romans 16:1-13, NLT, excerpts for space)

In Genesis, Jacob journeys to Egypt with his entire family. The scriptures list his sons and their children, and I am impressed with the multi-generational potential and impact of actions and attitudes. Jacob is moving his family line for a time to Egypt (where he will die).

Oh, Lord, the power of example is not lost on me, and I’m thankful to know men and women who love you and work hard for you–they inspire me and encourage me. Help me to get honest with my heart about my own thoughts and actions, and where they lead.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36

A siege that lasts two years. A famine. A city succumbs. Its king (Zedekiah) tries to escape at night past enemy (Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon’s) troops. Zedekiah is caught. The last he sees before his sight is taken is the slaughter of his sons. A city is dismantled as an enemy carries off bronze, silver and gold that had been used by Solomon to adorn and uphold the temple of the Lord. That is one side of the story in Second Kings.

Second Chronicles tells another perspective–of a lineage that repeatedly did evil in the sight of the Lord. It tells of prophets who came to warn and a leadership that mocked, scoffed and refused to listen.

11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. 12 But Zedekiah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and he refused to humble himself when the prophet Jeremiah spoke to him directly from the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, even though he had taken an oath of loyalty in God’s name. Zedekiah was a hard and stubborn man, refusing to turn to the Lord, the God of Israel.

14 Likewise, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful. They followed all the pagan practices of the surrounding nations, desecrating the Temple of the Lord that had been consecrated in Jerusalem.

15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his Temple. 16 But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the Lord’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.

17 So the Lord brought the king of Babylon against them. (2 Chronicles 36:11-17a, NLT)

While this may not be the birth of the saying, “Pride comes before the fall,” it certainly is another example of deceitful pride’s consequences. I wonder if one examines hardship or catastrophe, what would be the root? Even here, a list of heart attitudes that set a man, his entourage and an entire population against the Lord: refusal to humble; deceit; hard and stubborn; unfaithful; mocking and scoffing; disdain and contempt for/of truth. These thoughts are the birth of catastrophe–strong enough to not only bring down a man but an entire city, leaving behind ruin.

Lord, may I always be mindful of my heart attitudes, open to your direction and truth, and discerning of influences in my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35; 1 Timothy 3

In August, my family and I took a trip to Massachusetts to celebrate our grandson’s first birthday. While we were there, we took a tour through Boston and spent a morning walking around Walden Pond. Just off the main trail was the location where writer Henry David Thoreau lived in a small cabin for two years. The cabin had been removed and pillars served as an outline where the cabin had once been. Off to a side there was an area of small rocks stacked one on another. I read earlier that visitors place a rock on the stack and it made me think of memorial monuments in the Old Testament.

On our ride back home, I listened to a movie (Wonder) the kids watched in the back seat. A quote struck me and I wrote it down: “Our deeds are our monuments.” I looked it up later to confirm it, and discovered this wasn’t a modern quote. It’s thousands of years old.

Both 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34 similarly remark of Josiah:

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right (2 Chronicles 34:1-2, NLT).

In fact, during Josiah’s reign, he spent his time (effort and focus) tearing down false monuments to restore honor (in the land and in the people) to the Lord. He is remembered in scripture as being pleasing to the Lord and not turning away from doing what is right. (A successor son was remembered for doing evil.)

First Timothy 3 spells out characteristics, if not expectations, of a church leader: to be above reproach, faithful, self-controlled, wise, hospitable, gentle and not quarrelsome, and to manage his home; deacons are to be well respected, have integrity, honest, faithful, committed and with clear conscience ( 10 Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. 1 Timothy 3:10a, NLT); a deacon’s wife “must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do (1 Timothy 3:11, NLT).

Our deeds are our monuments, whether the physical act of destroying or building, or the spiritual side of integrity eternal. Do our deeds and words echo endlessly into eternity?

Lord, even recently you remind me to keep a Kingdom focus. It is so easy to become distracted by quarrels or catastrophe that take me off course or leave me stunned to stillness. I keep my eyes on the goal and the purpose. It is when I look too long in weakness or wounding that I lose time and ground. Forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead, help me to press on, to live a life that pleases you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 13-14; 2 Corinthians 4; Psalm 51

This week, I tapped into a podcast of interviews with adults who shared an event in their lives that had a lasting effect upon them. They painted vivid pictures with their words, and the interviewer followed up with questions to the now adult speakers. They were only two people in this whole world, each marked by a memory from childhood. I wondered perhaps all of us have stories that have had such an effect upon our lives.

14 But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15 Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her (2 Samuel 13:14-15, NLT).

***

So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.

21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry. 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister (2 Samuel 13:20b-22, NLT).

Sin separates. It separates us from God and it separates us from each other. In motion, it destroys. Amnon’s sin and violence led to his sister’s desolation, a brother’s thirst for revenge/justice and murder, and an estrangement in a lineage. Sin’s reach is vast–don’t ever be fooled.

13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him (2 Samuel 14:13-14, NLT).”

Psalm 51 was written after David was confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you (Psalm 51:1-15, NLT).

Oh, that Amnon would have repented.

I look long on the image of spilled water in 2 Samuel 14:14. Thank you, God: Redeemer, Father, Healer. You devise a way to bring us back to you. Sin’s reach is vast, but You are greater. God, I hand you my memory, knowing You to be the Good Father, full of mercy, unfailing love, compassion. Bring healing to all the broken places.

Courtney (66books365)

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