Tag Archives: light

2 Kings 4-6; Matthew 5

I wonder which would be more difficult: to fill many empty jars with oil from one flask or to offer my other cheek to be slapped again by an enemy? In the one situation, a widow is about to have her two sons taken away from her to fulfill a debt. In another situation, one is advised to stand before an enemy and not only take the blow, but ready oneself for the next without striking back or defending oneself. Really: which would be more difficult?

Elisha speaks miracles–many of them just by telling people what to do. He doesn’t do it for his own glory. He doesn’t even accept payment. He does it out of relationship with God and obedience to him. It is an act of trust and faith. God is the source of power, holiness, and ability, and Elisha knows it. And when others witness these things, they know it too.

Lord, do my words and actions support my belief that you are the source of power, holiness, and ability?

Elisha gives the word to a soldier to dunk himself in the water to heal his leprosy–he doesn’t need to be there. He eats in a famine. He sees the Lord’s vast army through the window when others can’t.

Imagine holding a flask of oil that continues to flow beyond its measure.

In Matthew 5, Jesus teaches his disciples about blessing, effectiveness (saltiness), the law, adultery, divorce, vows, revenge, and love for enemies. This isn’t teaching for other people; it’s guidance for all people. So, what is more difficult: to be mocked, persecuted and lied about for being a Christ follower or to shine like a light from a hilltop for even your enemies to see, unhidden? To actively reconcile with someone where there is deep tension or to love (in deed) people who are not friends?

It’s easy to think metaphorically, easy to comply when one isn’t in the heat of a conflict, “Offer your other cheek. Give your coat too. Go the extra mile.” But what if an enemy literally struck my cheek, would I stand in God’s strength and offer the other cheek? And what if I was fined payment of something I used daily (the shirt), could I also offer something I used in emergency (the coat)? And if, in oppression, I was told to carry something, would I go above and beyond?

Am I like the “tax collectors and pagans” loving only those who love me, showing kindness to only my friends? Do I shine my light in the safe places, only to those who already know God, or do I hold him up in the company of unbelievers?

Or am I a flask that continues to flow beyond its measure? Could I do what Christ suggests without fear, without complaint, without resentment because I know there’s more (in me) where that came from (because of God)?

10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (Matthew 5:10, NLT)

Father God, you are the source of all. If you call, you will equip. And in the impossible, you make it possible. Oh, this is freedom, to live a life poured out for you, flowing from your abundance. You give sunlight and rain to both the evil and the good because there is no shortage of grace and goodness in you.

44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45a, NLT)

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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Deuteronomy 23-26; Luke 11

When I finished talking, she asked me, “But what does God say about you?” I knew the intellectual response. But when I held his words in my hand, why did it feel like the weight of circumstance felt heavier? When God knows my history, my thoughts, my heart, my dreams, why couldn’t his word weigh more?

“But the Lord your God refused to listen to Balaam. He turned the intended curse into a blessing because the Lord your God loves you.” (Deuteronomy 23:5, NLT)

When I know where I came from and who I should have been, I can see the Lord’s saving hand in my life. This remembrance shows me his great love and mercy. He is so kind. And I am so grateful.

“Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from slavery.” (Deuteronomy 24:18, NLT)

Why couldn’t his word weigh more?

16 “Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. 17 You have declared today that the Lord is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. 18 The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. 19 And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19, NLT)

Because I wasn’t focused on it. I focused on opinions of people whose minds were already made up. I focused on perception that took in only fragments instead of the whole. I gave weight to those whose hearts weren’t for me, were riddled with pockets of darkness. And when my focus was there, no wonder the weight was heavy.

34 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. 35 Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. 36 If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Luke 11:34-36, NLT)

The Lord reminds me to be persistent in prayer. Keep on asking, seeking, knocking. I know this prayer by heart, but I write it out in a new translation. I write it out by hand.

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
    May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4, NLT)

Keep on.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 6-8; 1 John 1

Perhaps in today’s terms, he’d be authentic, vulnerable, transparent.

If my misery could be weighed
    and my troubles be put on the scales,
they would outweigh all the sands of the sea.
    That is why I spoke impulsively. (Job 6:2-3, NLT, in response to Eliphaz)

But his unlovely grappling with the tragedies in his life brought him criticism and condemnation instead of comfort or understanding–from his very own friends.

One should be kind to a fainting friend,
    but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.
15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook
    that overflows its banks in the spring
16     when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.
17 But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears.
    The brook vanishes in the heat. (Job 6:14-17, NLT)

Job wades through turmoil. His successful, stable life and faith are scrambled by unimaginable tragedy. Whether his friends’ words were intended to help or harm, they certainly provided no comfort (think memes). He is in a pit, and whether they knew it or not, their words sparked a new burden.

I can replay his experience by rereading a passage, but in real time, real life, one often does not have the luxury to hit pause to contemplate life’s facets. In real time, replay takes place in memory and dreams, either bringing resolution or torment.

I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
    long and weary nights of misery.
Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’ (Job 7:3-4, NLT)

I think on loss, disappointment, grief, anger, hurt. I think of relationships where I’ve shared things in vulnerability and authenticity (really heartache), places I thought were ones of safety, but ultimately were not. And in that pit, the weight of loss, disappointment, grief, anger and hurt are the kindling that embitters sins of resentment, unforgiveness, grudge.

It was a recurring message in books I’d read last year: No one is coming to save you.

I realized I expected friends I considered near to rally around and help me out of the pit. But the truth is, they never said they would or could. No wonder I felt alone when I was grasping the vapor belief/hope that they should.

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:5-10, NLT)

God is light, and I’m grateful for the intimacy I have with him through prayer and His Word. He is my safe place. He meets me in the ugly, scrambled spaces and speaks with clarity and gentleness–oh that I can hide his word in my heart so that I would not sin against him. Feelings let me know something is wrong–but left untended, they can become agitated and enflamed to sin. Do not be deceived. Offense and expectation have no cap on captives. Freeing others from unexpressed expectations freed me from sins of bitterness, resentment and anger. It also gave me newly found freedom to delight and invest my heart and time in more fruitful pursuits.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 28-30; Revelation 18

20 Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds in the sky.
22 Destruction[b] and Death say,
“Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.”
23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.” (Job 28:20-28) NIV

Sometimes I read scripture and it touches the very core of my being.  Tears well into the corners of my eyes as I think about the goodness of God in my life. These words affected me this way.  I shudder to think where I would be if He had not pursued me.

Truthfully, I know exactly where I’d be!  Still searching for that one “thing”, that one “person” that would fill the emptiness inside me.  Nothing satisfied that longing for acceptance, significance, and unconditional love until I began my relationship with Him.

Quite a few years ago, I heard a sermon at our church that spoke of choosing one word as our focus each year instead of making resolutions.  I’ve been doing that for several years now and have been amazed how God has used each word in my life for something going on at the time.  The year I was unemployed my word was “abide”.  It was the perfect word for that season of my life because abiding in Jesus is what got me through.

This past year my word was “light” and I am not sure any of my words have had more of an impact. I started the year still in a deep depression that I had been struggling with for quite some time.  When He brought that word to my mind, it went with the verse “God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.” (1John 1:5b)  I knew He was my way out of the darkness of soul I felt.  During the course of the year, God has revealed the many meanings of the word through verses, studies, devotionals, and sermons.  God spoke and light came into being.  His word is light.  Light is illumination (makes things visible, gives you understanding, the proverbial light bulb over your head).  He taught me so much this past year about Him and about me—things I saw and understood for the first time.  Light also means “not heavy”.  He has lifted burdens from my heart and given me a freedom I didn’t know was possible.  I am truly lighter in so many ways.  Light is gentle, delicate.  All colors depend on light. You can light a fire, ignite a flame.  As I spent time with Him and let Him work, each of these meanings was revealed to me in different ways.

“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

If we ask Him, God will reveal wisdom to us.  Somehow or other as this year comes to a close, I feel wiser.  It really has been a year of growth for me.  It has been painful—I think I’ve cried buckets of tears as I’ve let go of so many lies (shun evil).  In order to do this, I’ve had to bring them out into the light.  Those lies buried deep in my heart were hidden in darkness.  But no more!  “Surrender it all to me”, I felt Him tell me.  I was afraid of the magnitude of the pain of doing that. “On the other side of surrender is freedom” was what I sensed Him telling me in my spirit.  And it was!  Once I surrendered that last bit of my past, that last piece I was clutching, came freedom.

Today is Christmas.  It is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He came to earth to set us free.  I have been singing Christmas Carols as long as I can remember but this year, in particular, there are many I cannot sing without tearing up.  The gratitude I feel for what He did by coming to earth and sacrificing Himself for me is overwhelming.  “O, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Merry Christmas!

Lord, thank you for Jesus!  Thank you for your plan of redemption through his birth, his life, and his death on a cross.  Thank you that he was raised to life once again and now sits at your right hand interceding for those of us who call upon His name.  Thank you for loving me as you do.  In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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