Tag Archives: hope

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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1 Kings 17-18; Psalm 119; Jude

No dew or rain for the next few years. Elijah is fed by the ravens and drinks by a brook until it dries up. The Lord tells him to move on.

Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” (1 Kings 17:8-9, NLT, emphasis added)

The ravens obey the Lord and feed Elijah. The Lord tells Elijah where to go and what to expect. Some of the things he says are revealed to us (the reader), and some of the things are not revealed, perhaps not even to those it involves. When Elijah asks the widow for a drink and some bread, her response:

12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.” (1 Kings 17:12, NLT)

Her response doesn’t sound like someone who was instructed by the Lord, but I can’t know the dialogue because it isn’t given. Instead, I read her doubts and reasons. However the Lord may have instructed her, her response doesn’t acknowledge it. It speaks of her own ability, her own resources, her own fears.

Would I know the Lord’s voice over the sound of my own thoughts and fears? Would I obey him like the ravens did, or would I cling to what I could hold despite his prompting to let go?

The drought lasted three years. When the wait for relief is prolonged, would I still hear his voice?

Psalm 119 tells of the psalmist’s delight in the laws of the Lord.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord … 24 Your laws please me; they give me wise advice … 37 Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word … 74 May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word … 92 If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery … 116 Lord, sustain me as you promised, that I may live! Do not let my hope be crushed.

150 Lawless people are coming to attack me;
    they live far from your instructions.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
    and all your commands are true.
152 I have known from my earliest days
    that your laws will last forever. (Psalm 119:1, 24, 37, 74, 92, 116, 150-152, NLT)

Would that be my song in trouble and waiting?

10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion …

17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. (Jude verses 10-11, 17-21, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, the psalm proclaims that your word is a lamp to my feet. Keep me in the light of your path. Keep your word hidden deeply in my heart. I don’t want anyone’s voice to drown out the truth and promise of your word.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 4-7; Hebrews 3

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. This is how you are to deal with those who sin unintentionally by doing anything that violates one of the Lord’s commands.” (Leviticus 4:1, NLT)

I read through the Lord’s instructions to Moses in Leviticus 4-7. They are thorough. They are lengthy. So when I get to Hebrews 3 and the mention of Moses in comparison to Jesus, the connection is fresh.

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.

But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. (Hebrews 3:106, NLT)

The scriptures go further to warn against a hardening of the heart against God.

That is why the Holy Spirit says,

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled,
    when they tested me in the wilderness.
There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
    even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
10 So I was angry with them, and I said,
‘Their hearts always turn away from me.
    They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11 So in my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. (Hebrews 3:7-13, NLT)

It caused me to think on things that would harden my heart in any event–and can I keep a hardening heart in one area of my life from hardening against God?

I’m so thankful for Jesus, who took my sins, washed me clean with his sacrifice. I can lay them down before him, the intentional and unintentional and tangled mess, and he still calls me loved. He still calls me daughter. He still calls me forgiven. He is my high priest and my hope.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 16; Titus 2; Hos. 9; Ps. 126-128

“As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them.” Titus 2:1-15 NLT

I am so grateful to have had older, wiser, godly woman mentors in every season of my life. From singleness to marriage to children…they have encouraged me, spoke the truth in love and gave me a hunger for God’s word. They were humble and would admit their need for Him. They showed me what it was like to live for Jesus. They walked with me through painful and joyful times. I pray that I can be that person for someone else. Even when I don’t feel adequate, God can use me the most through my weakness and surrender. He is weaving a testimony of faithfulness and victory in my life. I wonder who needs to hear my story? Who needs to know that on the hard days when sowing the seeds can be tiresome, that it matters. That God will make something beautiful from it one day.

“When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams in the desert. Those who plant tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” Psalms 126 NLT

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are. Thank you for always meeting me where I am at. Thank you that you hear my prayers. Thank you for the people that you have brought into my life at key moments. I know it wasn’t by accident. You love me that much, to show your love through others. Help me to live with an eternal perspective. Amen.

“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects the city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.” Psalms 127:1-4 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Samuel 17; Romans 15; Lam. 2; Ps.33

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul.  “I’ll go fight him!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied.  “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”  But David persisted.  “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said.  “When a lion and a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from it’s mouth.  If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.  I have done this to both lions and bears , and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!”  The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from the Philistine!” 1 Samuel 17:32-37 NLT

I have pictured David’s time as a shepherd being fairly easy.  I never thought of him rescuing lambs and killing lions and bears.  He didn’t know at the time how God was preparing him to fight Goliath. David was ready.  He didn’t let Saul’s lack of faith deter him from what God wanted him to do.

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand , and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength and character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:2-4 NLT

Like David, I usually can’t see how my faith was strengthened by a trial until God brings me into another one.  I can look back and draw strength from how God brought me through in the past.  It can be hard for me to find joy in the midst of my pain. I want to  scream, cry, run or avoid it at times.   I am thankful for a God who understands my emotions. I can run to him and  find comfort in knowing that he with me and doesn’t leave my side.

“For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.  He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.  The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes.  But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.  What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.  But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.  He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine.  We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone” Psalms 33 NLT

Dear Father,  Thank you for your unfailing love.  I rely on your strength when I am weak.  Thank you for giving me your Holy Spirit.  I praise you for who you are.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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