Tag Archives: loyalty

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)


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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)

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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)

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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

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Ruth 1-2; Acts 3

All she saw was against her. Her husband died. Her sons died. She was returning to her former land. She was bitter, and she changed her name to reflect it. She said a tearful goodbye to her daughters-in-law. She had nothing but her story.

But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. Ruth 1:14b-18, NLT.

Naomi’s story is transformed by love. Word of the two women traveled.

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” Ruth 2:11-12, NLT.

Their story is still told. It speaks of bitterness turned joy; death to new life; love, loyalty, provision. God took what seemed barren, empty and final, and he wrote a new story.

A beggar is carried to the gate.

As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. Acts 3:2, NLT.

The disciples had no money, but they gave him something else.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. Acts 3:4-8, NLT.

The beggar had been crippled since birth. The begging life was all he knew. God took what likely seemed permanent and wrote a new story–one that the beggar probably never imagined could happen outside of dreams.

If our very breath matters to the God who formed us, our stories matter too.

How have I perceived and reacted to situations with short-range focus instead of an eternal and kingdom view? God, I never want to forget who you are: provider, father, healer. You are capable of things I can’t even imagine.

Courtney (66books365)

https://youtu.be/eKcImiTxqKg

 

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Ruth 1; Acts 26; Jer. 36, 45; Ps. 9

Jeremiah was in prison, but had a message to get out. He dictated the message to Baruch, who then took it and read it aloud to others.

16 When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm. “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch. Jeremiah 36:16 NLT.

(Not everyone appreciated this message. King Jehoiakim burned the scroll.)

Paul stood before King Agrippa with the opportunity to speak his defense. He told his message to a full room.

19 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.” Acts 26:19-23 NLT.

While hearts may not have been convicted in that moment, Paul left an impression.

32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” Acts 26:32 NLT.

Naomi and Ruth were both widowed. Naomi told her daughters-in-law to go back to their mothers and start over. But Ruth stayed, pledging loyalty and companionship to Naomi.

15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. Ruth 1:15-18 NLT.

Testimony can affect a community, a full room, an individual.

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1 NLT

Our dog ran away yesterday, and my kids were crushed. I searched through neighboring back yards. We got in the car and drove around. No dog. So I prayed out loud in the car while we searched. Prayed that God would watch over our dog and return her to us unharmed. It was a risky prayer–there are many acres of forest around us, and high-speed roads. So many what-ifs … (Thankfully, a few hours later a nearby farm owner spotted our dog swimming in their pond and called us.)

I praised the Lord the drive home, with stinky pond dog in the back seat.

I know, too, sometimes answered prayers don’t look the way I thought they would. Years of struggle and effort and striving were fruitless. I sat at night at the Lord’s feet and cried to him. In that season, the sadness and disappointment and confusion brought me closer to the Lord. In those circumstances and through his word, I began to know him better. Trust was strengthened. When others abandoned, the Lord did not.

10 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Psalm 9:10 NLT.

God uses the happy endings, and the not-so-happy endings. In any case, I will testify of something, and that testimony will speak to others.

Father, thank you for examples like Paul, Ruth and Jeremiah–people who had a message to share, whose lives and messages still influence today. Help me to be mindful that my words and actions send a message too.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 17, 2 Chronicles 18, 2 Corinthians 6

Jehoshaphat…sought God…and walked in His commandments. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. 2 Chronicles 18:4-5

 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:15

 “Come out from among them …And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

 Read athttp://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2Chron17,18;%202Cor6&version=NKJV

2 Chronicles 17        Jehoshaphat…strengthened himself against Israel…he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God…and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel.

            At this time Israel was not following the Lord God but worshipping false gods.

            Talk about taking a stand! Jehoshaphat didn’t ignore Israel, give platitudes, agreements, or compromises saying ‘your truth works for you, my truth works for me’. – No, Jehoshaphat “strengthened himself against Israel”! Boldly Not being ‘politically correct’!  

            Jehoshaphat was a man of conviction and action! Not only was Jehoshaphat against Israel, but he was against the false gods in his own land AND he taught everyone about the Lord God!! “moreover he removed the high places and wooden images from Judah. So they…had the Book of the Law of the Lord with them; they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught the people.”

             Why would Jehoshaphat do this? Because “his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord”. Jehoshaphat’s heart couldn’t be happier because he ‘heard’ the Lord and walked in His Ways. He didn’t need any one else’s approval or relationship. Jehoshaphat’s HEART DELIGHTED in the LORD. The center of Jehoshaphat’s core had delight, joy, peace and the Presence of the Lord God! It is what motivated him to do all he did! 1 

             Aren’t I supposed to be this way too? Of course! Especially since I have tangible blessings from the Lord God: The full Bible. The knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Word. The God’s promises for the end of His story. The revelation of  Who my Atonement is. The indwelling 24/7/365 Presence of the Holy Spirit within me.  Yet I rejoice in Jehoshaphat! What a man for God! May I be at least as much as he is!!  2 

             And what was God’s response?

Faithfulness, loyalty and fruitfulness to Jehoshaphat and his realm of influence.

The Lord established the kingdom in his hand

The Book of the Law of the Lord was taught to all the people.

The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat.

Some kingdoms brought Jehoshaphat presents, tribute, and more

Jehoshaphat became increasingly powerful,

Jehoshaphat had much property and mighty men of valor

2 Chronicles 18                   By marriage Jehoshaphat allied himself with Ahab.  After some years he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria;  

             What happened to this valiant man of God? God’s Word tells us, “Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance.” Trading righteousness for pleasure and pride, Jehoshaphat unwittingly subverted his own resolve against Israel “by marriage he allied himself with Ahab”, the king of Israel.

             The effect is heard: Jehoshaphat answered Ahab, “I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will be with you in the war.”  What? How did this happen? Some years before Jehoshaphat was delighting in God and independent of the powers around him, standing valiant against sin patterns. Now Jehoshaphat has fallen so far that he views himself and his people as being like Israel! 3

             The Lord’s gifts became the source of Jehoshaphat’s joy instead of his heart continually delighting in the Lord God. When I let my physical senses distract me from Fear of the Lord, it causes spiritual blindness, misplaced trust and unholy alliances. 4

2 Corinthians 6            Lord God Almighty, may I never misconstrue blessings to be for my own gratification. You alone are my very Great Reward. You command me: I am blessed to be a blessing. I am to work together with Jesus Christ to plead for others “not to receive the grace of God in vain. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” I will accomplish this through many types of pain, discomfort, by God’s truth, power and more, and within every possible circumstance. 5

            Lord Jesus, You have shown me the deep pain of eternal souls who live for Very temporary pleasures. Hell is for real, just as Heaven is. I take Your advice to heart: You are restricted by your own affections…Do not be unequally yoked…For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. 

            Lord Jesus thank You for calling me to grow more intimate with You daily and go far away from surface pleasure and pride. I desire to Live, exist and have my being in Your Word and Holy Spirit, abiding in Your Love. Lord, have my eyes open to the walking dead around me, my ears attentive to Your Voice of Truth and wisdom, and my heart submitted to Your compassion so You will move through me for Your great work to be done, now and always for Your delight and glory! Amen 6

Dear Reader, God pleads with you and me today:

Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”“I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” 

1-  Psalm 37:4, 2 Chronicles 17:4, Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 1, Psalm 119:16

2-  Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 4:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Isaiah 6:8

3 – 1 Kings 18

4- Romans 1; Revelation 2:4; Genesis 15:1; Psalm 37:4; Philippians 2:12

5- 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; Genesis 15:1; Genesis 12:2; Romans 1:16

6-   1 Peter 2:9; Acts 17:28; John 15:1-17

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 2 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized