Tag Archives: love your neighbor

Judges 13; Acts 17; Jeremiah 26; Mark 12

When my kids were little, I used to tell them, “If someone has something to say, it’s important for them to say or it’s important for you to hear.” Daily, my media feeds are flooded with messages of people. I find myself wanting, more than ever, to hear what the Lord says.

The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’” (Judges 13:6-7, NLT, emphasis added)

Paul and Silas were used to speaking to groups and were used to hostile responses. Today, Paul is in Athens and addresses a crowd. I listen too.

22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31, NLT, emphasis added)

Jeremiah had a message from the Lord that was important, only his audience didn’t want to hear it.

This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah. This is what the Lord says: Stand in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the Lord, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word. 3 Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.

Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you will not listen to me and obey my word I have given you, and if you will not listen to my servants, the prophets—for I sent them again and again to warn you, but you would not listen to them— then I will destroy this Temple as I destroyed Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was located. And I will make Jerusalem an object of cursing in every nation on earth.’”

The priests, the prophets, and all the people listened to Jeremiah as he spoke in front of the Lord’s Temple. But when Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to say, the priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. “What right do you have to prophesy in the Lord’s name that this Temple will be destroyed like Shiloh? What do you mean, saying that Jerusalem will be destroyed and left with no inhabitants?” And all the people threatened him as he stood in front of the Temple. (Jeremiah 26:1-9, NLT, emphasis added)

He reminds me today and again.

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34a, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, help me to watch my words (help me to speak them). Let them be seasoned, honest, wise, encouraging. Let them reflect the time I’ve spent with you, and not the ever changing (turbulent) influence of a culture around me. Help me also to sift through words to get to the heart, to reach another whose heart cries out to be loved, to be valued, to be understood, to be seen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 11-13, Psalm 118, Matthew 27

Over the past year or so, my second grader has had a struggle that seems to have lasted more than the average time of other children his age. As an active, strong, big-hearted 8 year old boy you would not expect him to be sneaking around corners and afraid to be left alone in a room. This has gone beyond being afraid of the dark. He refuses to enter any room in our home alone, even during the daylight hours. He begs his siblings to go with him if he’s instructed to get something from another room in the house or even somewhere outside. Before falling asleep, his bedroom has to be in order with nothing out of place, the lamp on, the bathroom door cracked just perfectly and a sibling or two is always joyfully welcomed to sleep over. And though he is finally at the age he can be left alone at home for short periods of time, he chooses to go along on errands instead of “being grown up” and staying at home.

Every child, every person really goes through stages like this during their lives, some more extreme, difficult or long lasting than others. Just a few months ago after realizing this stage was lasting a little longer than “usual” we decided to tackle this together. Up went bible verses in his room in large print and in plain sight of his bed.  Encouraging and uplifting songs were put on his little mp3 player and prayers were focused on trusting in the Lord. But still we wrestle with this spirit of fear every day.

Our goal has been to point my son in the direction of the only One who can comfort his fearful heart and remove the spirit of fear with His spirit of love. This week, we started writing special verses on index cards to begin memorizing and hiding God’s word in our hearts, together. As I was reading this passage, two passages jumped off the page and encouraged my heart and his!

 

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. Psalm 118

2“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God[b] is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12

 

There are probably hundreds of verses on the topic of fear and though it is important for us as parents to point those out to him we don’t want to stop there. It’s important to remind and encourage him of the extravagant love of God that replaces fear!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 118

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection remind us that there is nothing in this life to be afraid of because he has overcome the world. It was his steadfast (unwavering, firmly established, resolute, and steadily directed) love for his children that took him to the cross and it is the same love that fills our hearts and casts out all fear.

Thank you, Lord Jesus for your steadfast love that has and will endure all times. Thank you for your beautiful Word that brings life and hope and love to my heart and helps me endure the hard days and brings joy no matter the circumstances. Please remove the spirit of fear in our hearts and replace it with a spirit of love and give us boldness and courage as we face trials. Amen.

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Esther 1, 2; Matthew 1; Luke 3

  • Esther–a new opening for the Queen’s job. Girls from the area taken and prepared to apply. Esther is chosen.
  • Matthew–a lineage listed, all leading up to the fulfillment of prophecy. A Messiah. When Joseph woke up, he did as he was told.

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. Matthew 1:20-25 NLT.

  • Luke–a man prepares the way, preaching and baptizing. Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon. And then one day, Jesus was baptized.

Esther would save her people through obedience and humility.

Jesus did the same.

Esther, Joseph, John and Jesus–these chapters are the first-step-starts of bigger stories and journeys. Each one, responding in obedience: one being taken from the familiar and placed into royalty; another faced with a cultural blemish; one marches fervently and focused; and Jesus–the son of God and Savior.

These stories all united by the tasks before them, the big jobs prepared for them before their births. They are united by the obedience to do what was required. And they tell me that first-step starts lead to bigger stories and journeys.

When my task is to love God with all my heart, and to love my neighbor as myself–first-step-starts in obedience will lead to greater endings than I could ever imagine. It leads to lives changed and God’s glory. Even if, at first, it is only a package of cookies delivered with a smile.

Father, may I always be listening for your call.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, Luke, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament

Leviticus 19,20; Mark 9:30-50

It makes sense that our Heavenly Father wants His children to get along. Those of us that are parents certainly understand that. I personally have a special joyous feeling in my heart when my children get along. I used to wonder why it was so important to my parents, but as a mom I totally get it.

In Leviticus I read of the “fellowship offering”, also known as the “peace offering”. Leviticus 3 tells us all about it, but here in chapter 19 we learn a few extra rules, that it is to be eaten on the day of the sacrifice or the next day, but on the third day it is to be burned up. I suppose that means that you really do have to have a feast or two, and share the meat with your neighbors, in order to eat it in two days. While I think the fellowship/peace is to be between the offeror and God, I can certainly see how that fellowship is extended to the offeror’s neighbors! In Mark we see Jesus tell the disciples that “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” While Jesus is the final and ultimate sacrifice for our sins, he is also the final sacrifice of all types, to include the fellowship offering. I don’t know if there is any link between the fellowship offering being burnt up on the third day and Jesus rising on the third day but that did stand out to me.

Another thing that jumped out at me in today’s readings is the command in Levitcus 18:3 – “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” “Love your neighbor as yourself” is one of the two commands that Jesus said were the most important, and yet it is woven in among so many other commands, some of them foundational and others that seem trivial and strange (such as not wearing clothing mixed with different kinks of thread, or not cutting your beard). Then in Mark, Jesus tells his disciples that they need to be servants to all, they need to be pure, they need to have the qualities of salt in themselves, and live in peace with each other.

Living in peace with each other is a priority in Jesus’ teachings. What do I do, on a regular basis, to promote peace? Do I seek revenge and bear grudges, or do I love my neighbor as myself?

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Genesis 23, Nehemiah 12, Matthew 22, Acts 22

Scripture

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)

Observation

In a recent conversation, a new friend and I were talking about the fruit of the Spirit–specifically, self control. I said, “Don’t you have to work your way up through the first fruits before you get to self control?” We laughed a little, because with self control, I think it would make all the other fruits fall easily into place. But as I consider this verse above, and how simple and challenging it is all at once, I think of the first fruit: love. Were the fruits listed in any intentional, particular order? I don’t know. But love is a very good starting place.

I tell my kids frequently enough that they’ll probably say it to their kids one day, “Loving your neighbor starts at home with your family.” (And some days, the further outside my family I go, the harder it is to love.)

Application and prayer

Lord, I can only imagine what my home would be like if I could approach a cranky kid the way I would like to be approached when I’m cranky. Too often, it’s hindsight that tells me how to handle a situation. And often enough, it’s hindsight before I remember it.

Can we start with today, Lord? Today, could you whisper to me, “love,” when I am faced with pressures and frustrations? Today, could you say to me, “love,” when I move about life as business as usual? Can you remind me in my home, in my neighborhood, in my community, out in this world, and in my heart and soul and mind to love?

I don’t want to forget.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament