Tag Archives: love

1 Kings 4-5; 2 Chronicles 2

Solomon’s vast wisdom, given by God, reaped many wonderful rewards for him personally, and for Kingdom and his people:

He established structure and organization that brought a balance with leadership and a peace to the people. He won over all his enemies so that the land experienced peace and safety, and the people of his kingdom were happy. They had all that they wanted and needed and it brought them joy. And Solomon himself was rich and had many benefits from his wise decisions.

Because of the peace, safety, and wealth, of the nation, the time finally arrived for Solomon to construct the temple. Again, he used wisdom, and again God blessed him for it! He sought help from Lebanon and received it; and in the midst of his interaction with this pagan king, Solomon gave testimony to our God, the One True God, in an attempt lead Hiram to salvation.

Having the material and ready to begin building, Solomon yet again showed his incredible wisdom in the way he managed the workers, hiring three times as many as were necessary, in order to work out shifts of work so that no man would be gone from home for a vast amount of time.

Is it any wonder the people loved this king?

Solomon didn’t use his intellect to rule harshly, to wage war on other nations, or to elevate himself. Instead, he used his wisdom to love God and love others.

Wisdom without love and compassion only serves to make a person arrogant, conceited, and harsh. But wisdom that seeks to honor God and show love to others brings about peace, safety, and joy.

I don’t have the wisdom of Solomon, but still, I must consider – how do I lead? How do I use the wisdom God has given me? Do I use it to lead with love and compassion, or do I use it to separate myself from others and become rude or harsh in my decisions?

God’s blessings came through Solomon’s humility. If I want God’s blessings in my life, I, too, must choose humility.

Lord, I want to love You and love others in the decisions I make. Help me to use the wisdom you’ve given me to glorify you, not myself. Help me to see the people I interact with as you see them, and help me to go the extra mile to benefit them with the choices I make. Thank you for Jesus’ example of wisdom and love, as He became the lowest servant to love the least of these. Help me to follow in His steps and make my decisions based on what glorifies you and benefits others and not just how I, myself, will benefit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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2 Samuel 21-23; 2 Cor. 7; Psalms 55

“There was a famine during David’s reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it.  And the Lord said, “The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites.”  So the king summoned the Gibeonites.  They were not part of Israel but were all that was left of the nation of the Amorites.  The people of Israel had sworn not to kill them, but Saul, in his zeal for Israel and Judah, had tried to wipe them out.  David asked them, “What can I do for you? How can I make amends so that you will bless the Lord’s people again?”  2 Samuel 21:1-3 NLT

“So David asked the Lord about it.”  This sentence jumps off the page at me.  It doesn’t say that David questioned God, but instead he asked him a question like a trusted friend.  It doesn’t say that he was worried or upset.  His faith in God was secure. He knew who to turn to during a hard season, that was lasting a long time.  Where has there been a famine in my own life? An unanswered prayer or unfulfilled dream? The waiting is hard, but David knew enough about God’s character, that he didn’t lose heart.  

“David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul.  He sang: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.  He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.  he is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:1-3 NLT

I find myself listening intently to David’s last words.

“These are the last words of David: “David the son of Jesse, speaks- David, the man who was raised up so high, David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, David, the sweet psalmist of Israel.  “The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me; his words are upon my tongue.  The God if Israel spoke.  The Rock of Israel said to me: ‘The one who rules righteously, who rules in the fear of the God, is like the light of morning at sunrise, like a morning without clouds, like the gleaming sun on new grass after rain.’  2 Samuel 23:1-4 

God hears a repentive heart.  Is there anything that I am holding onto that I need to give over to him?

“Because we have these promised, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit.  And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.  Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such readiness to punish wrong.  You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right. ” 2 Corinthians 7:1,-11 NLT

Dear Father, Help me to have a faith like David.  To remember your faithfulness, your promises and your unfailing love for me. Amen.

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalms 55:22 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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1 Corinthians 14; Psalms 139

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.  You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!  You made the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.”  Psalms 139:1-14 NLT

I sat in the doctor’s office reciting my health history.  Thyroid cancer, acid reflux, anxiety… My 43 years were being summarized by this list on the screen.  I battled against fear and repeated, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” But, do I really believe it?  Has it sunk in enough that I can praise God for how he has made me?  Do I live like I am fully known and loved by Him?

“Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives-especially the ability to prophesy.  For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you.  You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious.  But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. ” 1 Corinthians 14:1-3 NLT

I was ready to go into the auditorium at church when I saw her crying in the hallway.  Another woman was there to comfort her. But should I stay and help? As I read these verses on gifting, I remember, ‘Let love be my highest goal’.  If it truly is, than am I willing to be inconvenienced for the unity of the body?  For some that might mean prophesying or speaking in tongues.  For me that morning it meant noticing someone in need.  Isn’t that what church is really all about anyway?  Showing up for each other and being vulnerable, when it would be easier to come and go unnoticed.

“Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize.  When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said.  But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.” 1 Corinthians 14:26 NLT 

Thank you Father for how you have made me.  That you give me abilities and gifts in the spirit.  I pray that I would use them for you.  Give me discernment and wisdom. Amen.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalms 139:&24 NLT.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Corinthians 12; Psalm 140

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, where everything goes wrong and you feel like an idiot? And then the thoughts start running through your mind…

“God can’t use me. There are others who are so much better. I’m not like them, so I’m not good enough.”

Or maybe it was one of those other days. The ones where you’re ready to go and someone slows you down. Then the thought process goes more like…

“This makes sense to me. Why can’t she understand this? Why don’t they just do it my way? This would be so much easier if I could just do it myself.”

Unity in diversity. It’s a great idea; but sometimes, unfortunately, it’s simply that: an idea. Especially within the church. It’s so easy to begin to see differences as a negative and to get caught up in comparison, for better or for worse.

But our differences were part of God’s plan.

1 Corinthians 12 (NIV)

Verses 4-6:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Verse 12:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

Verse 15-17:
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

Verses 21-22
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

Instead of comparing myself to others, I need to focus on honoring others. I need to remember that we are all on the same team. The ones who are stronger, I can support and respect as I follow in their footsteps. The ones who are weaker, I can encourage and strengthen as they grow in their faith.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (NIV)
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Father, thank you for the diversity in the church and for your supernatural grace to bring about unity in the midst of the differences we all have. Thank you for you caring enough about each of us to give us a purpose and role in your church and in your mission to rescue the world. Forgive me for making your mission about me and comparing myself to others. Help me to build up the body of Christ and help me to see others as you see them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Ezra 5-6; Psalm 95; 3 John

My first impression reading of the prophets speaking over the people was of God’s sovereignty.

At that time the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. They prophesied in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jehozadak responded by starting again to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them and helped them (Ezra 5:1-2, NLT, emphasis added).

I thought about God’s sovereignty in the wait. When rebuilding was questioned and archives were searched to verify permission, I thought about what their life might have felt like in the wait. (I thought of what my life has felt like in times of wait.)

Then I saw his abundant provision. The prophets of God were with them and helped them. King Darius responds to the query, confirming permission and payment in full from the taxes collected so that their work wouldn’t be interrupted, and he adds:

Give the priests in Jerusalem whatever is needed in the way of young bulls, rams, and male lambs for the burnt offerings presented to the God of heaven. And without fail, provide them with as much wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil as they need each day. 10 Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the welfare of the king and his sons. (Ezra 6:9-10, NLT, emphasis added)

Father God, you remind me: You are sovereign. You are my provider. You are my portion. I keep my eyes fixed on you, seeking your kingdom, listening for your voice.

Come, let us sing to the Lord!
    Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
    Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
For the Lord is a great God,
    a great King above all gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
    and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
    His hands formed the dry land, too.

Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care.

If only you would listen to his voice today! (Psalm 95:1-7, NLT)

God affects life in his big-picture way, and allows us to be agents on his behalf in the details, rolling up sleeves like the prophets did in Ezra, supporting others in ministry, using gifts and talents for God’s kingdom.

Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. (3 John 5-6, NLT)

And, in response to Diotrephes’s pride and motivation:

11 Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God. (3 John 11, NLT)

Lord, thank you for meeting me every morning for a sunrise walk, for speaking into and over my life, for changing my heart and changing my vision. Thank you for letting me show your love when I serve others. This is a sweet privilege.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Ezekiel 40-42; John 14

While Jesus was making his ultimate journey to the cross, he continued teaching those around him. His words were often confusing to them because they didn’t have an understanding of the scope of what Jesus was doing.

The passages in Ezekiel were measurements and meaning to the temple. In John, Jesus speaks, and I listen. I have a sweet luxury of the written word, and I can return to it often and sit at my Savior’s feet.

15 If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

23 Jesus replied, All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

30 “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going (John 14:15-31, NLT).

Jesus was fulfilling a requirement to show his love for the Father. And in these passages he takes time to explain to the disciples who he is, that he is making a way, that he is coming back–assurances and comfort. He tells them he’s not leaving them as orphans, but sending the Holy Spirit who will guide in truth. He leaves a gift, and it’s something only he can give, and we won’t find it in this world. This world won’t give the kind of peace that Jesus can. Jesus explains these things to the disciples while he is with them–and this is deeply meaningful to me: that he prepares them, comforts them, provides for them, assures them. There is so much love and care in this dialogue.

Lord Jesus, I’m grateful for the ability to read these words and read them often. You are the example I want to follow–your love, your wisdom, your obedience, your guidance, your provision. You show me how to be the kind of friend and parent who cares tenderly, lovingly, responsibly. This is relationship. This is treasure. Thank you, Lord. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 10-12; Psalm 83; John 4

I recently got results from a DNA ancestry/health test I took. I was unprepared for the depth of feelings I’d feel as I looked at the results and saw a profile of my ancestry–such a gasp of wonder and joy, a glimpse into a past. It was really exciting, and more than that, I felt a connection and belonging to a greater history. There were fun findings–that I’m likely to drink more caffeine than average (true) and that I am likely to be more afraid of heights than others (also true). And it fell short in a couple of places suggesting that I don’t have a widow’s peak (I do), and that I’m likely to dislike cilantro (I buy it weekly–love!).

Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. They talk, and he tells her things about herself she already knew–things about her choices and past. It’s stuff the people in her life might know, that she might even be known for, but that a stranger wouldn’t know. Instead of feeling shame or embarrassment or apathy, she has a kind of wonder, and perhaps relief.

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” (John 4:39, NLT, emphasis added)

She comes to the well every day to fill a very real need (and perhaps much of her life was spent trying to fill a need for acceptance, provision, love, belonging, purpose, fulfillment), and he promises her an everlasting satisfaction. Living water.

I think of my ancestors and I want to know more–their names, their stories, and what they were searching for. What were they leaving, and what were they pursuing that moved a lineage from place to place, and finally here to my doorstep in the woods?

Father God, you will stop at nothing. No distance. No desperation. You already know I love cilantro and coffee. You know the depth of my weaknesses. You know my struggles and my strengths. You know every thought I’ve ever had, every word I’ve ever spoken, and every feeling I’ve ever felt (even the ones I try to keep from myself)–and you don’t flinch. You don’t turn away. You meet me in the place of my need, and I feel like you’re telling me, ‘You can keep coming back to (this place) looking for (understanding, satisfaction, answers, fulfillment, love), but even if it meets your need today, you’ll be back here again tomorrow. I can meet that need once and for all time so that you don’t need to keep returning to (a place) that can’t (heal you).” Lord, I believe you because … you know everything about me, you keep your promises, you are able.

Courtney (66books365)

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