Tag Archives: Honesty

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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Genesis 41-43; Luke 13; Psalm 5

The truth comes out.

Finally, the king’s chief cup-bearer spoke up. “Today I have been reminded of my failure,” he told Pharaoh (Genesis 41:9, NLT).

Joseph is brought to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.

Seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine, and all the years before that of hiding their deceit, Joseph’s brothers never truly escaped the truth.

21 Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”

22 “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!” (Genesis 42:21-22, NLT)

Jesus cuts through the argument and gets straight to the heart.

14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did (Luke 13:14-17, NLT).

Lord, you are the truth. I’m grateful that I can place my faith and my heart in your hands. Joseph couldn’t count on the cup-bearer to remember, or his brothers to look out for him before that. Even a daughter of Abraham was left in bondage by the religious. But you are truth, you see truth, you speak truth, you reveal truth. You set us free to walk in the truth–to follow you and walk with you.

Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
    I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
    or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.

My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
    Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with flattery.
10 O God, declare them guilty.
    Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
    that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
    you surround them with your shield of love. (Psalm 5:7-12, NLT)

Lead me in the right path, O Lord, make your way plain for me to follow. I only want to walk in truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 3-5; Psalm 23; Acts 6

Samuel heard God’s call. He spoke boldly, calling out the sin in Eli’s family.

Stephen was chosen too, known as a man full of faith and Spirit, God’s grace and power.

Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10 None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.

11 So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12 This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. (Acts 6:8-12, NLT, emphasis mine)

Oh, the dangers of manipulation. Crowd rousing. Judgment, unjust.

Eli and Stephen were known by God. One man and his family faced the judgment of God. One godly man faced the judgment of man.

There is only one I stand before in the end, whose knowledge of me is all that matters. The One who gives me all I need; leads, renews, guides, protects, comforts, honors; His unfailing love and goodness pursue me, surely, even in the darkest valley.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever. (Psalm 23, NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd.

I have all that I need.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Thank you, Father.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Esther 1, 2, 3; Acts 5:1-16

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” Acts 5:1-4

Lying. There are out-right lies, lies of omission, white lies, etc. As a fallen human, I tend to give each of these types of lies a degree as to what is the worst and what is considered acceptable. But, God doesn’t judge it the same way…sin is sin.

Ananias and Sapphira lied about the amount of money that they received from selling a piece of their land. As Peter explained, it was their property and their money to handle; the problem wasn’t that they kept some of the proceeds for themselves. The problem was that they lied about how much they received for the property and that they held a portion back. They were caught in their lie, and reaped the consequences in death.

Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. Esther 2:20

Esther lied too. It was a lie of omission, a failure to divulge her heritage to the king of Persia or his servants. Mordecai was afraid that she would be rejected and killed because she was a Jew, and advised her to keep the truth a secret. When the details of her heritage came to light, her life was in peril, but God saved her and used her, in spite of the lie, to save the people of Israel.

Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” Esther 3:8-9

Haman also lied. His lie was malicious and devious, his intention revenge, to wipe God’s people off the face of the planet. Only revealing partial truth about the Jewish people and their laws, he convinced the king to give him full power in delivering judgment…total annihilation. In the end though, he also paid the penalties for his actions, hanged with the noose intended for his ‘enemy’.

I think back throughout my history and remember times that I’ve lied. When I’ve told someone how great they look, when I really hated their new outfit. There have been more than a few occasions when I’ve failed to tell someone the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the hope to avoid a conflict or rejection. And, of course, there are countless times when, as a child, I lied to my parents, to attempt to escape punishment. Sometimes it seemed I got away with it, but more often than not, I got found out and had to deal with the fall-out and take my punishment.

When I became a believer, it became important to me to always tell the truth, in love, to the best of my ability. God always knew the truth anyway, so staying honest before Jesus has been the easiest part. I am grateful that God can handle my failures, He can handle the truth.

Striving to tell the truth has meant a shift in my thinking, and it has meant that there have been instances when I have told the truth, it has made people unhappy and upset with me. Sometimes it seems easier to lie, but the reality is that telling the truth is better in the long run; Truth keeps me right with God and there is a whole lot less that I have to remember.

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, always said: If someone asks you how your day has been, tell the truth (in a positive way). If your day has been great, tell them your day has been ‘incredible’; if it has been horrible, say your day has been ‘unbelievable.’

Do I get it right every time? No. There are times when I slip into white lies or purposely leave off some information when telling a story. I sometimes tell my kids that there is no electricity, so I can turn the TV off to get them out the door faster or ask them if they hear Hook’s crocodile when they won’t stay in their beds.

When I realize I slipped up, I go to God, tell Him the truth, and I am forgiven. I can start fresh, in that moment, telling the truth.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your Truth. Thank You for giving me strength to be honest, even when it is difficult, and for giving me revelation about how to tell the truth in love. Thank You for forgiving me when I make mistakes and fall into old habits. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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2 Samuel 10-12; Luke 19:29-48

I had the worst hair cut ever. My teeth were a mess. My complexion was moody. And I had no idea how to put on makeup. This was middle school–a time in my life that I mostly remember as awkward. It was foundational ground where I learned about relationships too, and little did I know then that those relational experiences were a preview of things I would face as an adult.

My daughter is entering the middle school years. I watch her work it out–this mystery of determining who is a friend. I offer input when I can and hope she’ll listen. The one benefit I have now that I didn’t have in my time is the Bible. The Bible has a lot to say about relationships and friendships.

But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

12 So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor …” 2 Samuel 11:27b-12:1 NLT.

Sometimes people will lead us into sin. Sometimes we get there all on our own. David knew what he did was wrong, and it appears the only person he was deceiving was himself. Only Nathan spoke up. I would bet lots of people talked about David and Bathsheba, but only one spoke to David.

There could have been a different ending to this story: Nathan could have kept silent; or David could have gotten mad and stayed in denial. I know of times when I tried to speak to someone where it totally blew up in my face. It makes me cautious. But I also think of the times I didn’t speak up and watched someone I love go down a path that left many casualties. I always wonder what could have been if I had braved the truth. Likewise, I have my own regrets of things I’ve done. In hindsight, I see the value of choosing good friends–because in big ways and in small ways, who we spend time with will shape who we are and what we do.

Lord, I pray for discernment. I pray for wisdom. I pray for a tender heart and open ears–that I would be receptive to a friend’s truth and repent of sinful ways. I pray to be a good friend and I pray to have godly friends. I pray for my girls, that they would always seek you. There is truly no greater joy than to know a child is walking in the truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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