Tag Archives: loyalty

1 Kings 11; Philippians 2; Ezekiel 41; Psalms 92, 93

I visited my sister when I was in college. Her husband was military, and they lived on base. She had a neighbor named Renee, and while I was there, Renee would pop over in the mornings, walk right through the kitchen door, pour herself a mug of coffee, and chat with my sister and me at the table. This image took root and life in my mind–and I have been looking for my own Renee ever since.

One day, my sister’s Renee was gone. It’s not just specific to military life–nearly every life is transient. A move. A job change. A church change. A school change. A season may be beautiful, fruitful and sweet, but that in itself won’t make it last forever. Illness, crisis, attitude and interest are all elements that can affect another’s ability to be present. (My mother died from breast cancer, and when my friend Doris was diagnosed, I didn’t know what to say to her–and I was regrettably disappointed in myself because I thought that I should know.)

When I glanced the scriptures earlier this week, thoughts of loyalty, strength and endurance came to mind. But when I read more closely, I also see disappointment, limitations, distractions and weakness.

Solomon, a wise man, a king, was not exempt.

The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. (1 Kings 11:2-3, NLT)

Paul served the Lord wholeheartedly, but not everyone on the mission field shared his vision.

20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:20-21, NLT)

Lord, you are gentle and kind. You know my heart. You lovingly unfurl my fingers from the grip I have on the way I think things should be, and you show me grace. You show me humility. You are my forever friend. You will never forsake me. You are eager to meet me when I seek you. You sit with me at this table today, and together we can examine what really matters.

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. (Philippians 2:12-16, NLT)

Help me to mature in the woman you want me to be.

Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever. (Psalm 93:5b, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

2 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

2 Samuel 1-2; 1 Chronicles 11

I am reading a book called Integrity: the Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Henry Cloud. One of the think pieces that stuck with me early on is the deeper layer of integrity, the one below the first response of trustworthy, honest, and sincere. The deeper layer leaves a wake behind its passing by, and that wake is telling of the core of who that person is.

When David learns of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths, he is deeply grieved. He writes a song in honor of the men. Saul was an enemy toward David, and David mourns the good of who Saul was. He chooses to remember well.

I read further into the scriptures and take note of David’s mightiest warriors. I read of the Thirty and I read of the Three.

20 Abishai, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty. He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle. It was by such feats that he became as famous as the Three. 21 Abishai was the most famous of the Thirty and was their commander, though he was not one of the Three (1 Chronicles 11:20-21, NLT).

Remember Abishai? He was by David’s side when they went into enemy camp last week and retrieved the spear and water jug while Saul and his men slumbered. But here are the Three:

11 Here is the record of David’s mightiest warriors: The first was Jashobeam the Hacmonite, who was leader of the Three—the mightiest warriors among David’s men. He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle.

12 Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. 13 He was with David when the Philistines gathered for battle at Pas-dammim and attacked the Israelites in a field full of barley. The Israelite army fled, 14 but Eleazar and David held their ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord saved them by giving them a great victory.

15 Once when David was at the rock near the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty—an elite group among David’s fighting men) went down to meet him there. 16 David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem.

17 David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” 18 So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. 19 “God forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three (1 Chronicles 11:11-19, NLT, emphasis mine).

The wake of their actions leaves a long impression upon me–their strength, ability, and bravery made them warriors, but something deeper within them set them apart from other warriors. Likewise, I wonder, did these elite see something in David that made them willing to stand apart for him? Or were they just being true to themselves and how God wired them?

There’s a lot to consider in these chapters: the example David sets in honoring Saul and Jonathan; the mighty acts of the Thirty and the Three; David seeking the Lord for direction; and the pouring out of a sacrifice to the Lord–these things all speak of integrity and wake.

I find I have more questions as I consider today’s culture’s transient environment of work/service and relationships. I keep seeking.

Courtney (66books365)


1 Comment

Filed under 1 Chronicles, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Old Testament

2 Samuel 21-23; Psalm 18; Romans 3

I’m reading The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare with my youngest child. There is a scripture quoted in it repeatedly:

35 He trains my hands for battle;
    he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. (2 Samuel 22:35, NLT)

I paused in my 66 Books reading today, because that scripture appeared in 2 Samuel and Psalm 18. I took a longer look at David’s men, described in 2 Samuel. Of his elite three, I noticed qualities of strength, loyalty, perseverance, and courage.

Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled. 10 He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!

11 Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, 12 but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory. (2 Samuel 23:9-12, NLT, emphasis added)

I consider the army I thought would have been with me in my greatest battles. I remember the names of the elite who stayed.

He trains my hands for battle. He readies me for difficult tasks.

The Lord does bring about great victories. He’s looking for someone to stay (when they’re tired, to hold the ground when the army flees). Oh, times of testing reveal so much (I cast my cares upon him.).

True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him,

“You will be proved right in what you say,
    and you will win your case in court.” (Romans 3:3-4, NLT)

Lord, I fix my eyes on you. You are the source of my strength. You are my hope. You are true.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized

Judges 17-18; Psalm 21; Acts 1

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” (Act 1:6-11, NLT)

Last year, the focus word I’d chosen was restore. I pondered several words before that (then) new year, and restore came to mind. I tried to put it aside. Later, at church, the sermon was on restoration. I knew it was my word, and with it came a knowing: my father would die, and my sister and I would be restored. But I didn’t want to think on that. I wanted a restoration with my dad, after years of hurt and tension. It didn’t happen. He died before the end of January, and through a surprising sequence of events, my sister and I became closer than ever. God’s plan of restoration, and perhaps his plans on a lot of things, look way different than one might imagine.

So when the disciples ask, “Has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” Jesus tells them, loosely, “The When is not your business. But here is what IS your business … be my witness.”

Oh, men of Galilee, why are you standing here and staring up into heaven?

While I wait for Jesus, I remind myself daily–he has a plan. And I am part of it. To show his love wherever I may be. To be a steward of the tasks he approved for me. To walk in his spirit in every situation, and some are so hard, but I am grateful for his power, his love, his truth, his guidance. To serve in ways that glorify him. To tell others about him and have him present in my life. This is how I can be a witness.

Someday he will return.

Lord Jesus, I keep my eyes fixed on you. If I take them off of you, it is easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed. But with you, I see you everywhere, in everything. Because of you, I can rejoice.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Uncategorized

Isaiah 17-19; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 1

18The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19It is written in the Scriptures:

“I will cause the wise men to lose their wisdom.

I will make the wise men unable to understand.” Isaiah 29:14

20Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the philosopher of our times? God has made the wisdom of the world foolish. 21The world did not know God through its own wisdom. So God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe it. 22The Jews ask for miracles as proofs. The Greeks want wisdom. 23But we preach Christ on the cross. This is a big problem to the Jews. And it seems foolish to the non-Jews. 24But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks. 25Even the foolishness of God is wiser than men. Even the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26Brothers, look at what you were when God called you. Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom. Not many of you had great influence. Not many of you came from important families. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28And he chose what the world thinks is not important. He chose what the world hates and thinks is nothing. He chose these to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29God did this so that no man can brag before him. 30It is God who has made you part of Christ Jesus. Christ has become wisdom for us from God. Christ is the reason we are right with God and have freedom from sin; Christ is the reason we are holy. 31So, as the Scripture says, “If a person brags, he should brag only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ICB)

The Cross.

The symbol believers look toward for redemption. The knowledge that God’s Son, come to earth in the form of man, willingly laid Himself down as a sacrificial Lamb, so that all mankind could be saved for eternity.

In one of my ministry school classes, we were encouraged to really study the Cross, to be CSI as it were-to get intimate with the bloody crime scene of our Savior’s death; to truly understand the lengths that Jesus went to because He loves us SO much.

My favorite biblical movie to date is The Passion of the Christ. It’s my favorite because the graphic portrayal of what happened that day over 2000 years ago. For the first time I truly understood the anguish, the pain, the suffering that Jesus chose to experience for me. The childhood pictures of a pristine Christ with a crown of thorns around His curly locks, nails in His very white hands and feet, and a thin line of blood in His side blinding me to the horrors of that day fell like shackles off the eyes of my heart.

The Cross…foolishness.

In no other religion, that I have studied, do the ‘gods’ sacrifice themselves for their people. In many of those religions, the ‘gods’ actually require the people to do heinous things to their own bodies. Things like walking across fire, leaving the feet with third degree burns, or putting metal hooks in the skin and pulling their god’s chariot through the village.

And, yet, Christ did what made no sense to the wisdom of man. He laid Himself down, humbled Himself, as low as a man could go, into death, a thief’s punishment, so that upon His resurrection, everyone could be restored into right relationship with God.

Nothing I can do makes me right with God, only Jesus revives my connection to Him. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to be sin-free, only my Savior makes me blameless before the Father. No matter how righteous I act, only Christ makes me holy. Only He redeems my life and makes it truly worthy.

Yesappa, Thank You for the foolishness of the Cross.

 

Blessings, Julie

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms