Tag Archives: Honor

Job 12:13-16:10

I recently caught up with a friend who has been going through severe and mysterious health ailments. Tentatively she shared a detail, then another. I don’t have the full picture of what she’s been through these past months, but I recognized a holy privilege to be invited into any space of her journey. (Oh, the awe of holy ground. I do not want to mar it with an impulsive or incomplete response!) As I listened to her, I heard the natural bubble of her voice. She has always been joyful. And even in this, she waits with joy and patience and confidence.

“I have heard many things like these;
    you are miserable comforters, all of you!
Will your long-winded speeches never end?
    What ails you that you keep on arguing?
I also could speak like you,
    if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
    and shake my head at you.
But my mouth would encourage you;
    comfort from my lips would bring you relief
.” (Job 16:2-5, NIV, emphasis added)

I wonder if it is the deep lows in life that allow one to speak comfort to another. Empathy. Compassion. Sincerity.

I don’t know all that she’s experienced in this trial, but I know she still walks by faith on this dark path. She looks at me and shines her light. She is in the deep lows, and yet when our conversation was over, I felt hope, comfort, and relief because of her joy and confidence.

As I read through Job’s story, I think on his friends and their responses. They speak in judgment. They speak judgment of God. But God wasn’t penalizing or punishing Job–God called Job faithful. Maybe someone carries a heavy burden because of mistakes they’ve made, or from actions made by others. And maybe someone was appointed by God to carry a heavy burden, because God knew he could.

Lord, I hope I always remember the person’s heart who walks through heartache and trial. I pray that you would give me guidance how to comfort, encourage, or even to be still as I bear witness the journey. I pray that in my own walk, that you would send me support to encourage me for burdens I might carry. I give thanks for my friend, Lord, and your presence with us.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 17-20

They came from slavery. Faced a pursuing army. Witnessed miracles. That’s the backstory. Today’s reading: a sprouting, blossoming, fruitful staff as a symbol of God’s authority. His promise to Aaron, provision:

Then the Lord said to Aaron, “I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion, your perpetual share. You are to have the part of the most holy offerings that is kept from the fire. From all the gifts they bring me as most holy offerings, whether grain or sin or guilt offerings, that part belongs to you and your sons. 10 Eat it as something most holy; every male shall eat it. You must regard it as holy. (Numbers 18:8-10, NIV, emphasis mine)

I take note that Aaron and his family are to enjoy a perpetual share. The most holy portion of the offerings. Provision.

20 The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. (Numbers 18:20, NIV)

In their thirst, he provides water.

The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Numbers 20:7-12, NIV, emphasis mine)

Lord, you are with me in all the times. You have provided so richly in my life. You are in the details: a captain’s bell hidden beneath the clematis; dogs that are exactly what we wanted in a pet; a way made in the wait–great grace! And heat in our home. Thank you. All of these stories in the Bible tell me of your authority, trustworthiness, faithfulness, and provision. And I can see it in my own life. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 30-32

If Aaron knew …

Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come. Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” (Exodus 30:7-10, NIV, emphasis mine)

If Aaron knew the plans being discussed behind the scenes, would he have participated, encouraged, enabled the things he did?

Moses was getting instructions from the Lord. The Lord names people, tells Moses that he is equipping them with honorable tasks and special skills to do the things he as planned for them. So many people get to participate in the Lord’s plan, get to contribute meaningfully to a people’s future–creating things of beauty, leading them in reverence–all things they were specifically chosen for and given knowledge and ability to accomplish.

But when Moses didn’t come back soon enough, the people grew impatient. And Aaron, one of them who had been set apart for something greater, participates in something lesser, detestable even, than what God would have for him.

He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:4a, NIV)

And his excuse? When you know the truth, it’s pretty lame. Even if you didn’t know the truth, it’s just lame.

22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. (Exodus 32:22-25, NIV, emphasis mine)

The reading today has me in deep reflection. I want to be attentive to the Lord, to be available for tasks he has for me, to honor him with my life. But sometimes my attitude, words and actions aren’t in alignment with that desire.

If I knew what the Lord was planning, behind the scenes, the plans he had for me, would my impatience, immaturity, or lack of restraint derail me from something better, meaningful, God honoring? At first glance of the subheadings, I imagined I would write something about the idols we craft. But here I find myself thinking on how stupid moves and pressure can quickly take one so very far for what God wants for him.

If Aaron knew what God had set aside for him to do, would he have been so quick to fashion a golden calf instead?

Lord, help me to make better choices.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 17; Psalm 66; 1 Corinthians 7

When I think of worship, I think of song. But worship is more than that, isn’t it? Judah, Israel, the surrounding nations, all of them were guilty of turning from the Lord and worshiping something else. They installed their idols in shrines and altars. They offered sacrifices to idols. So worshiping is more than just singing to something–it’s giving it a place of honor; consulting and trusting in it for needs, favor, salvation; placing all hope in it; giving offerings/making sacrifices to it; revering it; talking about it. In all, worship is giving something/someone a place of honor, and power, over us.

22 Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23, NLT)

King Ahaz rejected the Lord, even in his times of trouble. He gave honor and power to something else, which led to his ruin. And it led to the ruin of his nation.

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings. (2 Kings 17:7-12, NLT)

The Israelites put in great effort and attention to worship other gods and idols. They were intentional. When I read this passage from 2 Kings 17, they were busy and active pursuing practices of other nations, as well as funding and building things to revere in place of the Lord.

The Lord sends a message through prophets and seers–he persists to turn them from their sin. Like a parent warning a child of imminent danger: “Don’t do that!” The warnings go ignored.

14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger. (2 Kings 17:14-17, NLT)

It’s easy for me to point to the leaders of these nations for setting a dangerous course. Leaders do carry responsibility. And leaders are accountable for their actions.

But so am I.

Lord, help make it clear to me who I follow, where I put my trust and hope, what or who I’ve given power to. And if it’s not you, help me to see my error and correct my way. I cannot imagine a better life or truer calling apart from you. Thank you for your persistent love.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 19-21; Acts 2

Recently a friend and I sat in somber reflection at the power of influence. Influence can be an unintentional bump, a gentle nudge, or a fierce force sending one in a direction or on a path, for better or worse. And when influence gathers a following, it is its own entity.

There’s a sense of foreboding when a couple rests at the town square.

18 “We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I’m returning home. But no one has taken us in for the night, 19 even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.”

20 “You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.” (Judges 19:18-20, NLT)

While they were dining as guests in the old man’s house …

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.” (Judges 19:22, NLT)

I pause at this crowd. Would one man have acted this way on his own? To be so bold as to make demands and intimidate? Would two men have done this? But one’s idea catches fire to a crowd, and they arrive at this place and collectively terrorize a victim–the concubine.

27 When her husband opened the door to leave, there lay his concubine with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said, “Get up! Let’s go!” But there was no answer. So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.

29 When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine’s body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.

30 Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?” (Judges 19:27-30, NLT)

Not succumbing to poor influences is a starting point, and it may keep one out of the mix. But this seizes me: everyone who saw it (admitted it was a horrible crime, recognized it for the abuse it was, was aware of the oppressive force) … who’s going to speak up?

I can take those words and apply them today to any number of things: from bullying, domestic issues, and social ostracizing to violence, injustice, or oppression.

I contrast this with the fire of the Holy Spirit that comes upon the group in Acts 2. A group is witness to the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, and still, they write it off to something they can understand instead of seeing it for divine truth in action.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” (Acts 2:13, NLT)

Another crowd. Ridicule. But there are some who see the truth, and their hearts are pierced.

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” (Acts 2:37-40, NLT)

Father God, the Holy Spirit is a gift, a promise. Help me to heed your counsel. Whether one-to-one or in a group, please give me wisdom and courage to do what is right and honor you.

Courtney (66books365)

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