Tag Archives: Honor

1 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 42; Romans 8

Heading into a new month, I consider the goals I’m setting, but first, I lay down the things that are heavy on my heart. Fear. I list the things that I’m afraid of, and new questions emerge–what if? I shift my gaze and ask new questions–what is the next right thing, the next loving thing; what is God’s will for me in this situation? How can I honor God?

Solomon asked for wisdom to lead, and how blessed I am too to have a Father who doesn’t hold back love or wisdom, in fact, gives me his Spirit to intercede when words fail me!

I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I go and stand before him?

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God! (Psalm 42:2,5-6, NLT)

I praise him, my Savior, my God.

I can walk in the Spirit. (Singing freedom!)

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:5-17, NLT)

 

I’m not a slave to fear. I am a child of God.

Deeply, completely, eternally grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 33; Revelation 19; Malachi 1; John 18

Manasseh built altars across the land to worship false gods. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. His reigning years peak at likely his lowest point: 10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. 11 So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:10-11, NLT).

A ring through his nose. Bound in chains. A prisoner.

12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God (2 Chronicles 33:12-13, NLT)!

Offerings. Honor. Obedience. These are the words that repeat through the four readings. I take note and quiet myself before the Lord. At a year’s end, I look back and reflect on losses, responses and responsibilities. This heart of mine still sorts through thoughts of legacy and life.

Offerings. Honor. Obedience. A look back framed by those words. A look ahead to a new year, and I pray (oh, I pray Lord!) that my offerings to You would be generous and cheerfully given of time, talent, treasure. That my thoughts and actions would honor You. And that even in the difficulties, I would choose obedience.

Lord, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Thank you, Jesus, for bending low to hear me, for answering prayers, for guiding my steps and leading me through this year’s very rough waters. I quiet myself at your feet to listen and learn. Help me to live a life that honors you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Hosea 14, 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

“At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

“At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

“They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16

I am so intrigued by parables – the unique way of teaching through storytelling and the multifaceted truths that can be found depending on one’s perspective. Whenever I read a parable I want to better understand the layers of meaning. I can stay on the surface, looking at the outside layer that tends to pop out; I can go deeper, looking into the context within society during the time of Christ. And, I can go deeper still, to the heart of the parable, delving into the spiritual layer, asking God for insight into His heart.

As I was praying over the reading selection today, asking God to highlight what He wanted to teach me, I kept hearing the word “Grace”. When I look at myself honestly, I know I am not deserving of everything that God gives me apart from Him. In my humanness, I don’t even come close to meeting the requirements for perfection, and if I was earning a wage, my pay would be docked for all of my failings.

But fortunately, God’s grace changes everything; a gift, undeserved, makes all believers equal in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter what the past looked like – someone on death row for murder, truly repentant before God is as righteous as someone who has gone to church her whole life, believing in Christ as a child. It doesn’t matter what the present looks like – being a missionary in a foreign country sharing Jesus with people who have never heard His name is as valuable as someone who serves the people in his church and community. It doesn’t matter if I am first in line or last in line or somewhere in the middle of the line, I will still receive the same “wage”.

Living in the Kingdom of Heaven is an equalizer not because of who I am, or what I do, or how hard or long I work; the Kingdom of Heaven is an equalizer because of the “wage”:

The“wage” IS Christ. There is no partial payment, there isn’t overtime, there is only a “full day’s wage” – His life laid down, His blood spilled, dead and buried, then risen in Glory to bring freedom and restoration – a gift of grace for everyone who accepts it, love, mercy, favor, honor, the same gift for all.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your gift of grace, the greatest, most undeserved wage I could receive. Thank You for loving me, for offering me mercy, for bestowing me with favor, and for honoring me as Your daughter. Thank You for giving me worth and making me a valuable part of Your Kingdom. Help me walk in this knowledge daily. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Ezekiel 27, 28; James 4

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12

I see and hear it all over, judgment and criticism spewed out everywhere, on every one; people playing judge and jury for people they may not even know. Society as a whole has seemed to really embrace this holier-than-thou attitude, especially since the rise of social media and blogging. Everyone has the right to their own opinion; they have the right to make their own choices in how they walk their journey in life. But, for heaven’s sake, your decisions better look like mine, or else. Right!?…Wrong!

Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? James 4:11-12 (MSG)

I’ve been there, both on the giving end of judgment and the receiving end. Neither one is pleasant. Hearing criticism against me and the choices that I have made in life, for myself, for my family is hurtful. I know I am doing the best that I can in any given moment, and in the words of Iyanla Vazant, “When I know better, I do better.”

As a mother, it is even harder. At any given moment, I am being judged based on my choices to co-sleep, baby wear, breast feed, vaccinate, switch between cloth and disposable diapers, discipline based in love versus rejection, spend time on my smart phone while the kids are playing at Chick-fil-A, let my kids watch TV, etc. I am even judged by some on the decision to not shave my girls head to ‘make their hair more beautiful’, for allowing my youngest to comfort herself with a pacifier, and to let my girls drink juice when they are sick.

I don’t need any help from anyone else to feel like a failure; I already struggle with that lie from the enemy, even though I know that I am doing a good job despite the circumstances of my life. What I need, instead of disapproval, is help; a village surrounding me to pick up the pieces when I inevitably fumble.

Even as I am writing, I am convicted in my heart that I too often stand in that place of judgment. I also condemn others for choosing differently from me. Whether I judge people on their politics, their lifestyle choices, their parenting skills, their actions or beliefs, in that twinkling of an eye, I have put myself over them and over God to find them guilty. It doesn’t matter if I have posted my views all over the internet, gossiped to my friends, or simply considered it in my thoughts; I have spoken evil against another…I have sinned. And, who am I to judge my neighbor?

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-8; 10

When I realize that I have been judgmental or that I need to forgive someone who has judged me, I know that it is time to get right with God again. I need to step down from the judge’s bench and let Him have His seat back. I need to humble myself, submit myself once more to Him, because God is the only One who can clean my hands, purify my heart, and keep my mind in alignment with His love, grace, and mercy.

When I repent and when I offer forgiveness, my heart grows with compassion, and what I once saw through blinders, I am now able to see through truth. I am able to see better through the defenses that have been put up by others to protect themselves from judgment, and I am able to break down the walls I’ve built around myself. Instead of judging someone else for being different than me, I am able to choose to love them right where they are, no matter what their life looks like. And when I am feeling judged, I am able to focus more on the intention behind the critique, which many times is actually care and concern, glean God’s truth from the comments, and choose to be vulnerable, to share my struggles and even ask for help.

It takes courage to stop standing in the place of judgment, to choose to not be the one to cast the first stone. It takes courage to forgive others, then submit the criticisms received to God and ask for His truth and wisdom. And, when I step out in courage, I am honoring God and living by His Word, which is the best way to live.

 

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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Isaiah 59-61; 1 Thessalonians 4

lemon birthday cakeWe celebrated my oldest daughter’s twelfth birthday last night with lemon cake (so yummy that everyone wanted a second piece). The kids took off, sufficiently sweetened, and played. My husband and I sat at the table. A discussion on happiness ensued. And he’s either a patient man or a forgetful one, but he listened to me, as he has for years, tell the story of shame and God’s redeeming, restoring faithfulness.

I’ve heard snippets of these verses before, spoken to me or others in trial and mourning. In context, they were spoken in a different time, to a different people facing very different circumstances. Yet these very words are ones of hope and comfort to generations after–how can we grab hold of messages meant for others?

I told a friend once about a scripture in Deuteronomy that I felt was like a love note slipped to me by a Savior. I was timid to accept it, could I really be so bold to apply the promise to myself? How did I fit in that context?

“I wouldn’t put God in a box,” he said. “Who can know how God will use his Word?”

Living and active.

To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3, NLT

For his own glory.

Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7, NLT

My husband and I sat and talked about happiness and shame and freedom. My chest felt tight from emotion and gratitude for the journey. This morning I read these words, spoken to a different people in a different time and out of context of my own life. But I sort of wonder if I hear the Lord saying, “See, I told you so.”

Ashes exchanged for a crown. Shame replaced by honor. For his own glory–because he is that big.

Thank you, Father.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 29, 30; Ephesians 6

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. Ephesians 6:5-9

Overall, especially in this day and age, it seems that there is a shortage of people with good work ethics that pervades. Commonly, the average person is just working to get by, to be able to pay their bills, keep a house over their heads, and put food on the table. Obviously this is a generalization, as there are plenty of people who give the proverbial 110%, but countless times, I encounter sales clerks or cashiers who act like they are totally inconvenienced by their jobs and by me. It is hard to say if this issue is because people just don’t care or if they are tired of being bullied or unsupported by their employers.

According to Paul, this is not a new problem. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, he encouraged both the servants and their masters to have a change of heart in how they served each other. He reminded them, that regardless of their position in life, God views everyone without partiality, and expects the same from each of them. He shared the importance of serving from a sincere heart as if we are serving God directly, rather than man.

I love the way the Message Bible puts it:

Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Ephesians 6:6-7

As I read this, my spirit is checked. I am reminded of all the times, that I have performed my ‘duties’ out of obligation, instead of with joy. I often forget that my ultimate goal is to serve God. I get caught up in the unpleasantness of the job I have to do (I mean come on, who really loves to change dirty diapers, wash dishes by hand, or clean the house and umpteen number of times in a day), and forget that as I do the job with the right attitude, not only am honoring God, but I am also showing honor to the people who require my effort.

I am also remembering the times when I have approached a responsibility with a hearty and happy heart. In those moments, the work was no longer a burden, but became enjoyable. I was able to feel God’s presence, keeping my countenance lifted and my body strengthened. My service became an act of worship to the Lord.

Yesappa, Help me remember that everything I do, I do for You! Help me keep my eyes on the goal of honoring You by giving my all, rather than simply pretending to do my best to get people off my back. Give me joy in the midst of doing the things that aren’t always fun to do. 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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Deuteronomy 20-22; Mark 14:26-50

Using prayer as a first defense, not a last resort. I get this backwards a lot.

Before a battle, a priest would go to the troops and pray over them.

1-4 When you go to war against your enemy and see horses and chariots and soldiers far outnumbering you, do not recoil in fear of them; God, your God, who brought you up out of Egypt is with you. When the battle is about to begin, let the priest come forward and speak to the troops. He’ll say, “Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you’re going to do battle with your enemies. Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win.” Deuteronomy 20:1-4, The Message.

God teaches a lot about honor in these chapters. When a neighbor’s ox is wandering, don’t look the other way: help out, restore. Honor. Not just honoring a neighbor, but how to honor the land, a captive woman, a first born son, a family, purity, God.

When the soldiers were upon nearby enemy territories, God told them to destroy everything–because he knows how weak man is. He knows how the flesh is tempted.

18 This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 20:18, The Message.

Jesus is in the garden praying, the night of his betrayal and arrest. He knows about weakness–as Peter, James and John were with him, they fell asleep.

37-38 He came back and found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, you went to sleep on me? Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don’t enter the danger zone without even knowing it. Don’t be naive. Part of you is eager, ready for anything in God; but another part is as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” Mark 14:37-38, The Message.

Said another way:

37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Mark 14:37-38, NLT.

Jesus, our priest, who prayed before battle. His prayer, God honoring.

 

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.

43 And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. (Mark 14:43, NLT)

He is outnumbered, and the reading reminds me of Old Testament–the priest praying over troops.

Honor, prayer, enemies, battle. God fights for us.

Courtney (66books365)

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