Tag Archives: Inspiration

Proverbs 8:12-11:11

I worked the finish line of a triathlon with a group of women. We handed out finisher medals, bottles of water, managed stats, and took off the athletes’ ankle timing straps. While we waited, we shared (mostly running) stories and got to know each other a little better. Very soon, I realized the company I kept: these women were swimmers, cyclists, marathon, duathlon, triathlon, and ultra running athletes. One woman started running ultras in her 50s. Another woman was 65 and a frequent marathon runner. Spending time with them not only inspired me, it completely reset my mindset on what I thought was possible at my age and experience.

Yesterday as I read about wisdom, for the first time, I saw her as a sister. Today, she tells me about herself, and I have that same wonder and awe I felt at the race.

I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
    I possess knowledge and discretion.

13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
    I have insight, I have power.

15 By me kings reign
    and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
    and nobles—all who rule on earth.
17 I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me find me.

18 With me are riches and honor,
    enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
    what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
    along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
    and making their treasuries full.

22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
    before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
    at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
    when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
    before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
    or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30     Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
    and delighting in mankind.
(Proverbs 8:12-31, NIV, emphasis mine)

She speaks, and it sounds like a secret, a promise, a reward. But it’s no secret. It was there all along.

“Now then, my children, listen to me;
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
    all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:32-36, NIV)

I reflect on choices that I’ve made, that people I know and care for have made. I felt a sadness in some instances because the consequence brought sadness (or worse). Examining the steps one chose, I wondered then how the Lord loves us–how he wants us to grow and make good choices: choosing him. And how choice can bring sadness (or worse) apart from him. But still, we have choice (and what a magnificent, terrifying, enormous, eternal responsibility to steward!).

As I read on, wisdom sets a table and offers an invitation. Folly does too. Wisdom, prudence, insight follow in these beginning proverbs. Folly does too.

Which table do I choose? Whose company do I keep? Wisdom calls and truly resets my mindset on what is possible–even at my age.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Psalm 67; 1 Corinthians 9

After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. (2 Chron. 32:1)

This past eighteen months have been a struggle for me—to say the least. I entitle this chapter of my life, “The Great Depression.” Before that time, I was going along with life, serving God where he placed me. I was happy and thought I was doing just fine. But I noticed I was finding less and less joy in life. Something was eating at me. Clinging to my faith, I shrugged it off with bible verses and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God and all He has done in my life. Then my brother died. That was it. I was done. I went into a spiral downward.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said. (2 Chron 32:7-8) NIV

I “fought the good fight” for a while but it felt like a vast army was marching against me. All the lies of the enemy, all the shame from my choices, and all the losses from my past were trying to take me under. I still had to work, I still had to live my life. But that isn’t what I wanted to do. Every day was a struggle to get out of bed, to put on my “happy face” and go out into the world. I was going through the motions of living life but inside I was an empty shell. I was building walls around my heart until I felt convicted by God that I was even building walls against Him. I knew there was a greater power in me and I cried out to Him.

10 “This is what Sennacherib king of Assyria says: On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege? 11 When Hezekiah says, ‘The Lord our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria,’ he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst.

15 Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!”

18 Then they called out in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to terrify them and make them afraid in order to capture the city.

Oh my! Our enemy is good at throwing everything we’ve ever done back at us. I have long since repented of so much of my life that happened before I knew Jesus. But at that time, in that state of mind, his voice was so much louder than God’s. I was in full-fledged battle. Until I got to the other side, I didn’t even realize it! His lies are so subtle and they try to twist God’s promises. The words I heard were spoken in my own language:  “loser, loner, failure; you’ll never change, there’s no way you’ll ever stop that habit”. When you feel there is no hope, that is when fear sets in! However, we know that perfect love casts out fear.  And Perfect Love dwells within me.

20 King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword.

22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them[c] on every side.

God answered my prayer and saved me from my own “Sennacherib”. He sent me to a wonderful Christian therapist. Together we called upon the Holy Spirit to guide us on our journey to Truth. We had strongholds to break, lies to replace with God’s truth, people to forgive, and acceptance that God truly loves me. In fact, He gave me a new name—“Dearly Loved”.

He used this depression to take me to a deeper place of trust in Him. I have been praying for years for His healing of deep wounds and in His perfect timing He allowed it to show me the places I had shut off to Him. Those deep wounds were causing anxiety that I did not understand but He has since revealed. We are not finished our work yet but I can honestly say the depression has gone and the fog has cleared from my head. It has certainly given me an understanding of the battle people face and I am sure He will bring people into my life to encourage with the truths He has taught me.

16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor 9:16) NIV

LORD, I am so grateful to you for hearing my cry for help. You are so patient with me and have allowed me to work through so many deep wounds at my own pace. You replaced lies with truth, mourning with joy, and anxiety with peace. You have been my Father, my Protector, my Teacher, my Comforter, and my Friend. I know I am dearly loved by You! Give me the strength to continue this journey. In Jesus precious name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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I Chronicles 5, 6; Hebrews 10; Amos 4; Psalm 148-150

Sometimes I am conflicted about the will of God in my life. “Should I move or should I stay” is a line in a Third Day song that mimics my own questions. When nothing seems to be working out as I would like or had expected, I doubt my heart and look for sin or some other barrier deafening me to God’s will. I feel like the rejected firstborn or one of a whole lineage of people that God judged as unfaithful. When I search my heart I see the after effects of trauma, unresolved grief, periods of isolation from God’s community of believers, and the constant dripping of remorse. Still, I hold tenaciously to Jesus Christ, the One who knows me intimately – my Creator. Amos 4:13 says,

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, who declares to man what his heart is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth…the Lord God of hosts is His name.”He is the One who declares what my heart is – no matter that I am unaware of this heart’s condition.

Even when convicted of sin, my Lord Jesus does not leave me. He could have. He could have saved only Israel through the Levitical practice of offering sacrifices and left me in the dust. I Chronicles 6:49 describes the importance of the high priest’s function:

“But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel…” However, Jesus Christ, said to God,

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices of sin You had no pleasure. Then I [Christ] said, ‘Behold, I have come…to do Your will, O God,’”(Hebrews 10:5-7).

That once and for all sacrifice, that unwavering willingness of Christ to die for me, that love and understanding of my human frailty, is my inspiration to hold fast to what I know: God is faithful even when I cannot readily see His will for me. He encourages me through Scripture, through friends, through study, and through prayer.

“And let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching,” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

For example, I was reminded yesterday by one of my ‘golden’ friends to praise God in all things – in my sorrow, in my joy, in my confusion, in the most difficult and dark times. And today, God punctuated His reminder to praise Him as I read the last three chapters in the Book of Psalms which exhort Creation from “the heavens to the human heart,” (commentary) to praise God for His mighty works, for the assembly (the church), to praise God for His salvation and judgments, and finally for all things to praise Him:

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” (Psalm 148-150).

So, my Lord God, with the breath You have graciously given me to know Your heart and to breathe in Your love for me, I praise You today – in word, in deed, in song, in quietness, and in loud “Halleluiahs!” You have a way of cutting through the fog and clearing the path to see that You are before me, always with me, and upholding me through all that has been and is to come. Most wonderful of all, I praise You for Your very Presence even now! Thank You Jesus, Lord and Savior!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 66 Books, Amos, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Leviticus 8; Psalm 9; Proverbs 23; I Thessalonians 2

Walk worthy of God (but not at the pace of a workaholic)! My husband is always telling me that I work too hard. He sees me putting in too much time at my job, trying to complete a task without the strength or the tools, only to see the fruits of my labor disappear as quickly as a flash of lightening…and believe me, I feel like I’ve been struck at those times.

So I was interested in Proverbs 23:4, which states, “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven, (NKJV). Overworking for money is definitely not recommended.

I do believe, however, that we are called to excellence in our work, and stories of the great men and women in the Bible have been my inspiration. For instance,                           I Thessalonians 2:10-12 exhorts us to be dedicated in our labors. Paul described his work as an apostle: “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children; that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” Also, Leviticus 8:23 leads me raises goosebumps on my skin as I visualize the scene where Moses placed sacrificial blood on various body parts to inaugurate Aaron and his sons for holy service.  Blood upon the ear symbolized that they should always listen to and obey God’s commands. The hand grasps and holds things, so blood upon the thumb symbolized that they should actively carry out God’s will. Since the foot is the organ of movement, blood upon the big toe symbolized that they should always move with brisk and cheerful readiness (adapted from The Chumash). These examples of service make the command, ‘walk worthy of God,’ my mantra for performing good works for God.

Yet, this striving can, itself, become a hindrance to accomplishing the very work God has called me to. For in my human efforts, I can become driven, rigid, and hyper-focused to the point of ignoring that God is the One at work in me and through me – it is not I who elicits change. Psalm 9:1 lifts up this prayer, “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your (my emphasis) marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” To walk worthy of God is to praise Him for all His works and to recognize that He is the one who works all things for our good.

I pray today, dear Lord God, that all Your work will be accomplished in me and through me as I lay my burden of work at Your feet. I can rise to the challenges ahead because You are working in me, still. I rejoice in knowing that my Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, is active and alive in me and all those who know the power of Your great Name. Hi, ho! It’s off to work, I go!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

The Chamush. The ArtScroll Series/Stone Edition. 2000.

The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Exodus 26; John 5; Proverbs 2; Galatians 1

I remember the first time I told someone God talked to me.  I now know why the reaction was so much of a recoil.

Moses was my first inspiration.  In fact, I remember vividly telling God that I wanted to be the next Moses.  I mean look at the details that God gave him – imagine the conversations.

You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you shall make eleven curtains.  The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains shall be of the same size.  You shall join five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent.   – Exodus 26:7-9 NRSV

Even Jesus told those in His time that if they really knew God, really heard from Him, they would know that He was God.  Why?  Because Moses wrote about Jesus.

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.  But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” – John 5:45-47 NRSV

And in the copy of my first book, given to me by the wife/mother of a family that took us into their home when we had nothing – she penned this proverb…

My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—then you will understand the fear of the Lord  and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:1-5 NRSV

I took all of this with me into my first pastorate experience.  That is where I found out just how many people “hear” what God has been telling them.  So the issue, I found out, really isn’t that God does not talk to us and that we shouldn’t take time to listen, the issue is – who am I listening too?

For I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[d] that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. – Galatians 1:11-12 NRSV

Lord, I want to hear your voice, I want you to speak through Your Word to me loud and clear.  Enable me to grow more intimate with You, to serve as You in our world and to leave this world a better place than when I entered it because I walked with You.  Thank You.  

evanlaar

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Galatians, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs, Uncategorized