Tag Archives: kingdom focus

Numbers 23; Psalm 64, 65; Isaiah 13; 1 Peter 1

I have a friend who grew up in a Christian home, and I remember her telling me many years ago, she knew without a doubt that Christ would have gone to the cross even if it was just for her. I considered her words, then, with a personal sadness, because while I believed Christ would die to save the world, I didn’t think I alone would be worth saving. Over these years in God’s Word, He has spoken into my heart. He has told me the truth.

1 This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

May God give you more and more grace and peace.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
    their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
25     But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:1-25, NLT)

I started to highlight the verses that stirred my heart, but I undid the emphasis because I had selected nearly every word from 1 Peter 1.

Thank you, Lord, for loving me. For choosing me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 7; Psalms 42,43; Song of Solomon 5; Hebrews 5

I’m in the beginning third of a book called When to Walk Away by Gary Thomas. One thing that stands out to me with clarity in his book is how many clever ways one can be distracted from his work/calling.

In the scriptures today I make note of the offerings brought in for the Lord. Paragraph after paragraph describing the offering brought in each day. The Lord speaks to Moses, telling him, “Receive their gifts, and use these oxen and wagons for transporting the Tabernacle. Distribute them among the Levites according to the work they have to do.” So Moses took the wagons and oxen and presented them to the Levites. He gave two wagons and four oxen to the Gershonite division for their work …” (Numbers 7:5-7, NLT) My takeaway focuses on: offerings for the Lord being used/redistributed for other work, obedience, kingdom focus.

In the psalms, a sense of abandonment, despair, attack, longing for God and crying out. But these pieces, they pull me back to the Lord, to a kingdom focus.

I hear the tumult of the raging seas
    as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
    and through each night I sing his songs,
    praying to God who gives me life. (Psalm 42:7-8, NLT)

And,

Send out your light and your truth;
    let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you live.
There I will go to the altar of God,
    to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
    O God, my God! (Psalm 43:3-4, NLT)

In Song of Solomon,

I slept, but my heart was awake,
    when I heard my lover knocking and calling:
“Open to me, my treasure, my darling,
    my dove, my perfect one …”

She questions, she wonders, she delays. There’s no doubt of her passion and desire, but in the wait an opportunity is lost.

My lover tried to unlatch the door,
    and my heart thrilled within me.
I jumped up to open the door for my love,
    and my hands dripped with perfume.
My fingers dripped with lovely myrrh
    as I pulled back the bolt.
I opened to my lover,
    but he was gone!
    My heart sank. (Song of Solomon 5:2, 4-6, NLT)

In Hebrews 5 explains that a high priest is chosen, presenting gifts to God, offering sacrifices, and dealing gently with people. “And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:4, 7-8, NLT)

All of these scriptures remind me to focus. People and circumstances, my very own heart and even a momentary hesitation can take me off course, distract me, and take my eyes off calling and kingdom work.

Lord, an enemy delights that I would live powerless, fruitless, indecisive and wandering. But you remind me of a bigger picture, a calling piece that fits within it. There are lots of people and things that can distract me, but I want to lock my eyes on you. You remind me repeatedly to focus on your kingdom, to focus on you, the true source of all my joy. I don’t want to live dulled by distraction.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 13; Psalms 15,16; Proverbs 27; 2 Thessalonians 1

23 Know the state of your flocks,
    and put your heart into caring for your herds,
24 for riches don’t last forever,
    and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.
25 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears
    and the mountain grasses are gathered in,
26 your sheep will provide wool for clothing,
    and your goats will provide the price of a field.
27 And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself,
    your family, and your servant girls. (Proverbs 27:23-27, NLT, emphasis added)

My goal planner is broken down into time chunks: monthly, weekly, daily. I noticed connections linking monthly items to broad relationships, weekly tasks to discipline, and daily reminders to stewardship. But really, it is all about stewarding time, relationships, responsibilities well. These verses in Proverbs remind me to tend to what I have.

Put your heart into caring for …

19 As a face is reflected in water,
    so the heart reflects the real person. (Proverbs 27:19, NLT)

The Bible has a lot to say about heart, stewardship, wisdom, and focus.

11 Be wise, my child, and make my heart glad.
    Then I will be able to answer my critics. (Proverbs 27:11, NLT)

It is hard for me to separate stewardship from God’s kingdom. When I acknowledge time, talent, and treasure are from him, I want to live more intentionally. This is all made possible because of his grace.

11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, NLT)

Lord, thank you for this time your word–for time that seems to slow down for me to look closely at the state of my flocks, the contemplation of my heart, and the alignment of my goals to your call.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 37; John 16; Proverbs 13; Ephesians 6

When Bezalel fashioned the hammered gold with his fingertips, it was holy work. The golden rings, the cherubim, the almond blossoms, the incense altar–his work for the Lord is not forgotten.

29 Then he made the sacred anointing oil and the fragrant incense, using the techniques of a skilled incense maker. (Exodus 37:29, NLT)

God gives these talents. He gives purpose. He gives provision. It is for his glory. Holy work.

He supplies the armor, and it serves a purpose and is made of this–truth; His righteousness; peace of the Gospel; faith; salvation; His Word. It is up to me to take up this armor and use it. He shows me my real enemy–all else is just distraction to take my eyes off a target, to become lost and ineffective.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18, NLT)

Holy work.

20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. (Ephesians 6:20, NLT)

In chains. Enslaved. It’s not a circumstance or a title–it’s about kingdom and calling. One body, many parts, and all essential.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. (Ephesians 6:5-9, NLT)

I return to the Lord’s feet again and again. I listen closely as he tells the disciples, and they don’t fully understand, and I take notes because I forget and get distracted–he’s speaking.

22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (John 16:22, NLT)

What is that joy? Is it not truth? The truth of his being and presence and promise.

31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31-33, NLT)

Lord, you are my rock. I can stand firm upon your word–it’s truth. Help me to keep a kingdom focus, to love you and serve you with all my heart. To walk into the tasks you have prepared for me. To rest in the truth and assurance of your promises. Thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 23; John 2; Job 41; 2 Corinthians 11

I take note in Exodus of justice, refreshing, and annual festivals. I smile because I know in John, Jesus will turn water into wine. I imagine the Leviathan in Job–monstrous and mighty. And in 2 Corinthians, Paul boasts of weakness. But there’s more–guidance, caution.

20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you … 32 Make no treaties with them or their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.” (Exodus 23:20-22, 32-33, NLT, emphasis added)

23 Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. 25 No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart. (John 2:23-25, NLT, emphasis added)

22 “The tremendous strength in Leviathan’s neck
    strikes terror wherever it goes.
23 Its flesh is hard and firm
    and cannot be penetrated.
24 Its heart is hard as rock,
    hard as a millstone.
25 When it rises, the mighty are afraid,
    gripped by terror.
26 No sword can stop it,
    no spear, dart, or javelin.

33 Nothing on earth is its equal,
    no other creature so fearless.
34 Of all the creatures, it is the proudest.
    It is the king of beasts
.” (Job 41:22-26, 33-34, NLT, emphasis added)

19 After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools! 20 You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! (2 Corinthians 11:19-20, NLT, emphasis added)

I consider God’s provision and protection, and man’s choices (oh, what of my own?) that pitch a trajectory of sin and idolatry. Jesus, who walked this earth and came to save, who knows people down to their very heart. A monstrous beast, Pride, the king of beasts (taking great creative liberties here). And Paul’s common sense pleading to correct poor vision–why would anyone choose to be enslaved, robbed, taken advantage of, powerless, abused or insulted? These sound like choices of brain fog and deceit.

Lord, I think on the Passover celebrations woven throughout your word, to celebrate a salvation from slavery, to celebrate your might and protection–you make a way, and you make a way for me too. Help me to keep clear vision, a kingdom focus, to be aware of your guidance and counsel, to heed it, to not be duped by the deceit of sin. You are good, and you have good planned for me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 16; Luke 19; Job 34; 2 Corinthians 4

It’s a very old saying: Enough is as good as a feast. I think on God’s provision for the Israelites as they wandered with Moses in the desert. They longed for what they held as abundance in slavery, but God had something else to show them–who He is.

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. 14 When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. 15 The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was.

And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat. 16 These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.”

17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. 18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. (Exodus 16:11-18, NLT, emphasis added.)

And in the very next paragraph, Moses tells them not to keep any manna overnight. But some don’t listen, and they wake to find their spoils spoiled, rancid and maggot infested. What good is abundance gone to waste? This spoiling is a physical manifestation of a hidden heart issue–and there are many. A lack of trust. Fear. Greed. Insecurity. Pride. Unbelief. Control.

Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector and notorious sinner, was a very rich man. When Jesus comes to his house and Zacchaeus is face to face with him, he is a changed man.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” (Luke 19:8, NLT, emphasis added)

Next in the reading is the parable of the ten servants, each given something to steward in the master’s absence. Jesus tells this story to the masses who had gathered to hear him speak, to correct their impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. I think of this parable often as I consider what the Lord has given me to steward. I wrestle.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT)

For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Dear God, thank you that you provide for me, and it is always enough. Thank you that in your word, it’s mentioned that the manna tasted like honey wafers, and it tells me that you delight in pleasure and share that delight with your people. Thank you for reminders to steward what you have given me well, and that abundance unused is waste–not only food in the fridge that goes bad, but clothes folded but rarely warn, books owned but unread, pots in a shed unused season after season. Thank you for the reminder that what is here doesn’t come with me to heaven and will one day be gone. But mostly, thank you for keeping your Kingdom focus in front of me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 3; Luke 6; Job 20; I Corinthians 7

Moses is out tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He sees something out of the ordinary: a burning bush. He approaches it, curious. His whole life is about to change. (God gives vision and mission.)

Jesus is healing people. Some people come to him because they need his help. Some people stand back waiting to find fault and accuse. Jesus chooses his disciples, and gives them practical advice on how to live well, how to live with a Kingdom focus. (He gives direction/purpose.)

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:46-49, NLT)

Job’s friend Zophar goes deep into discussion about the brevity of life–a wicked man’s short-lived pleasures and a just God’s eternal reward. (God is sovereign.)

Paul speaks to marrieds and singles. He speaks to everyone about their current station and serving God where they are, as they are, doing work and influencing in the place they are. Paul encourages to remember the point:

29 But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. 30 Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. 31 Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.

32 I want you to be free from the concerns of this life … 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. (1 Corinthians 7:29-32a, 35, NLT)

God speaks to Moses with a vision and a mission. Jesus chooses his disciples and equips them with truth that lasts–he doesn’t leave them to flounder and wonder; he’s specific and practical and challenges worldly thinking. While I have a hard time overall with Job’s friends’ conclusions on how life works, God is sovereign and He is just–I can put the trust of consequences fully in His hands with peace that His will will be done.

Lord, don’t let me complicate life. Help me to keep a Kingdom focus. I trust you.

Courtney (66books365)

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