Tag Archives: marriage

Judges 19-21; Mark 16

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT).

These are the opening words to a tragedy. A story that ends with this:

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).


The tragic story in Judges 19-21 didn’t begin when the troublemakers of Gibeah beat on an old man’s door.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judges 19:22, NLT).

It began here:

There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem (Judges 19:1b-2, NLT).

Whatever happened between them, I don’t know. But something happened, and she reacted. Likely, he didn’t count the cost of his actions. Surely, she didn’t count the cost of her actions. Catastrophe starts small, with an unchecked thought, word or action.

I sit with words, watching a scene unfold, grimacing at the abandonment (a host abandoning his daughter; a husband abandoning his wife; troublemakers abandoning all decency and mercy), eyes widening in shock as deaths mount by the thousands in a warfare of tribe against tribe.

I can look all over these scriptures and point out places where there’s fault. And maybe there’s something to their opening and end:

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT) … 25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).

Father God, you are Lord over all. Be Lord over my life. Be Lord over my heart. Be Lord over my words. Be Lord over my actions. I don’t want to be right in my own eyes. I want to live right by your standards. I only want your approval.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Judges, Old Testament

Song of Solomon 4-6; 2 Thessalonians 1

I have read some 55 marriage books in my lifetime – almost one per year of my life.  Currently I am reading one that has been out there for a while but I just picked it up on sale (Dutch men can be like that).  It is authored by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and it is called, Cracking the Communication Code.

Pretty sure that I have shared before that my wife and I have been married now for 33 years.  I read books on marriage because I want to grow and keeping growing.  Do not think for a moment that an adventure will pass me by – no way.  I want everything possible from my marriage and more and I am not afraid to engage others in sharing what they have learned.

One key ingredient in a healthy marriage is the ability to say, as often as possible and as creatively as possible, I love you to each other.

My darling, you are lovely,
    so very lovely—my darling, you are lovely
    in every way. Your love is sweeter than wine. – Song of Solomon 4:1,7   CEV

Young women of Jerusalem,
    he is my lover and friend.  – Song of Solomon 5:16

So it is not that odd when I think of our Church family and in particular, my small group, in the same way.  If I am surrounded with faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love, then I too, as part of the Church family, should be growing in my love for them too.

My dear friends, we always have good reason to thank God for you, because your faith in God and your love for each other keep growing all the time. – 2 Thessalonians 1:3  CEV

That is a lot of loving.  It challenges me every morning to meet with God and tell Him how much I love Him too.  The one difference from my spouse and my Church family is that God always tells me He loves me too.  In fact, He sustains me with His love, carries my through the day, gives me the Holy Spirit to do what He asks me to do and mostly that means loving other people. What a joy to grow in my love of Him every day – He nourishes my life.

Father, thank you for meeting with me each time I call out Your name.  No matter where I am or what I am doing You come and enter my world and fill me with Your love.  I never have to operate out of my own energy or expect anything from anyone else – You alone are all I need.  Thank you for continue to change me, cause me to grow, for allowing me to see You differently each day.  You have blessed me with Your love and I am so very thankful.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

 

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2 Kings 22; Hebrews 4; Joel 1; Psalms 140, 141

Grief. Repentance. Punishment. Oppression. Justice. Persecution. Calamity. Destruction.

15 The day of the Lord is near,
    the day when destruction comes from the Almighty.
    How terrible that day will be! Joel 1:15, NLT

Where enemies are plotting, evil, wicked, vipers.

O Lord, rescue me from evil people.
    Protect me from those who are violent,
those who plot evil in their hearts
    and stir up trouble all day long.
Their tongues sting like a snake;
    the venom of a viper drips from their lips. Psalm 140:1-3, NLT

And choices are made to obey or not.

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. 2 Kings 22:2, NLT.

It’s all there in the scriptures.

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:13, NLT

And in it too, refining fire.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12, NLT.

Let the godly strike me!
    It will be a kindness!
If they correct me, it is soothing medicine.
    Don’t let me refuse it. Psalm 141:5, NLT

 

Rest.

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. Hebrews 4:6-11, NLT.

We just returned from a weekend wedding in Massachusetts. For a sweet, short time, I played with my kids, ventured down water slides, walked through the woods, celebrated life and love, feasted. When I returned home, all the things I have still to do were waiting. But something in me was changed, when I needed it most.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT.

Lord, didn’t I meet you on the mountains? Every flaming autumn leaf, the carpet of pine needles, the way the wind rippled the waters and lifted my hair in playful dance. Didn’t you touch my heart in the aisle, as I sat by my husband and witnessed marriage vows, you spoke to me of your covenant love. You are my rest and my peace. You restore me. You comfort me. You encourage me. You soothe me. You are provider, protector. You are gracious and merciful. Thank you for respite and a reminder that I can access your peace any day, anywhere–not just in the Massachusetts wilderness, but here at home: by the computer, in the tasks, fixing meals, drinking coffee–I fix my focus. I am yours. You walk with me, and I am not alone.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 21; Hebrews 3; Hosea 14; Psalm 139

It finally happened – my daughter is getting married. Could not be more excited – today they are looking at wedding dresses and I get to stay home and hold the fort.  Not sure what the rest of the world’s dads go through in these moments but I am thrilled for one thing – they have both come together to declare their future home to be centred by their relationship with God.

 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my name.” – 2 Kings 21:4   NRSV

I remember how my wife and I, we started our journey at 21 and 22, could only survive our first five years because of the confidence and pride we had in Jesus.

 Christ, however, was faithful over God’s[f] house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm[g] the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. – Hebrews 3:6   NRSV

We tithed when it seemed no one else was, we served and I think this was where we learned what boundaries looked like and we loved.  But all of that came from within, from the Holy Spirit.

O Ephraim, what have I[e] to do with idols?
    It is I who answer and look after you.[f]
I am like an evergreen cypress;
    your faithfulness[g] comes from me. – Hosea 14:8   NRSV

We found ourselves more willing to be vulnerable than most because we knew we were in the palm of God’s hand.  In that secure place, He made Himself known to us.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. – Psalm 139:1   NRSV

Not sure if you are familiar with, My Heart, Christ’s Home The story impacted me as I took the Navigator 2:7 course.  I still have a few rooms left to give to Jesus and I am working on one right now.  It is my prayer for my daughter and her fiance and for you and I, that our home is Christ’s home first and then the rest will follow.

Lord, my heart is your home. Many times I forget, even during the day.  I know I remember each morning that I wake, but let me remember all day so that others looking and watching how I live can see that you are a member of my family and my home.  I love you so much for loving me.  May my gift of love back to you be the time we spend each day together.  Amen

evanlaar

 

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Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, Hosea, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Hosea 14; 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20

“O Israel, stay away from idols!
    I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
    all your fruit comes from me.”

Let those who are wise understand these things.
    Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
    and righteous people live by walking in them.
    But in those paths sinners stumble and fall. Hosea 14:8-9, NLT

***

O God, listen to my cry!
    Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
    I cry to you for help
    when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
    for you are my safe refuge,
    a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
    safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Psalm 61:1-4

 

***

25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28, NLT

***

Leadership matters. I look for examples of leaders in history pages. I look for examples of leaders all around me. I think long on the role I play as a leader and influencer–wife, mother, friend, neighbor, teacher–there are opportunities for influence everywhere. Where I set my gaze sets my course–and not just mine; the effects ripple around me.

Who is influencing me? And how does their influence affect my heart, my home and my other friendships?

Lord, please be at the heart of my heart. Please be at the heart of my home. Please be at the heart of my friendships.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 13, 14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3

But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom without criticizing you. But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind. Such doubters are thinking two different things at the same time, and they cannot decide about anything they do. They should not think they will receive anything from the Lord. James 1:5-8 (NCV)

As I think about the word wisdom, I am struck that wisdom is so much more than simply being intelligent. I can be educated, well-studied, but that doesn’t mean that I am wise. I can have common sense, street-smarts as it were, but it doesn’t mean that I have wisdom.

Wisdom is defined as the ability to apply knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight in a situation. It is using the education I have received through schooling and through life experience in the context of the circumstances I am living through right now. But it shouldn’t start there; it should start with a conversation with the Lord; it should start with His Living Word.

This verse in James reminds me that if I need wisdom in any situation, all I need to do is ask God and believe that He will give it to me. I need to trust that He will give me the wisdom that I require in every circumstance. He is all-knowing, all-seeing and desires to help me through all of the events of my life. He has all of the answers and is just waiting for me to ask Him for help.

David asked God, “Should I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”

The Lord answered him, “Go, I will hand them over to you.” 1 Chronicles 14:10 (NCV)

Soon the Philistines attacked the people in the valley again. David prayed to God again, and God answered him, saying, “Don’t attack the Philistines from the front. Instead, go around them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then attack. I, God, will have gone out before you to defeat the Philistine army.” David did as God commanded, and he and his men defeated the Philistine army all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. 1 Chronicles 14:13-16 (NCV)

Throughout David’s life, he consistently looked to God for wisdom and God gave it to him. He asked God for help. He asked God what he should do, what steps he should take. And, when he asked, God gave him instructions, detailed directives in everything, from how to slay Goliath when he was a youth to how to bring the Ark of God to Jerusalem after he became king. Repeatedly, David asked for wisdom in how to defeat the Philistines in battle, and God never failed to share with him the way to gain victory over Israel’s enemy.

In Luke, as John the Baptizer began paving the way for Christ, he brought conviction to the hearts of the people. As John preached about changed hearts and lives for the forgiveness of sins, the people began looking to him for answers. They asked him, “What should we do?” and because of His dedication to God, he was able to give them godly counsel to demonstrate their transformation.

The Lord God says: “The days are coming

when I will cause a time of hunger in the land.

The people will not be hungry for bread or thirsty for water,

but they will be hungry for words from the Lord. Amos 8:11 (NCV)

In Proverbs it shares that ONLY God gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. I can look to a book, to education, or to another person, but the One who IS Wisdom, is the only one who can impart strategic wisdom for my specific situation. And I can receive that wisdom by asking Him and then listening to and obeying His response.

As I remember to look to God first for wisdom in every aspect of my life, He will help me apply the earthly knowledge that I have by giving me better understanding of the state of affairs by giving me directions, by guiding me in each step I need to take.

Yesappa, Thank You for providing for ALL of my needs, especially my need for Your wisdom for the various circumstances of my life. Lord, I ask for wisdom in what steps to take in managing my home well. I ask for wisdom in my relationship with my husband, my marriage. I ask for wisdom in parenting my children. I ask for wisdom to help me survive and thrive each day, to not feel overwhelmed in the day to day of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 66 Books, Amos, James, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

Joshua 11; Psalms 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

Jesus answered, “Surely you have read in the Scriptures: When God made the world, ‘he made them male and female.’ And God said, ‘So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body.’ So there are not two, but one. God has joined the two together, so no one should separate them.” Matthew 19:4-6 (NCV)

This verse resonated with me so much today – the verses Jesus chose to repeat concerning marriage…the two will become one, a joining made by God.

After being apart for a year, my husband and I were reunited this week. More than 24 hours of travel over half of the world towing two children, eight pieces of luggage, two carry-ons, two personal items, two car seats and a double stroller; I felt a little bit like Noah, but my ‘ark’ was an airplane. It was brutal, and yet as I saw my husband’s face, the reactions of seeing his youngest daughter for the first time and hearing his oldest say, ‘There’s Daddo’ and offer up hugs and kisses, the journey to be reunited was  worth every moment. My anxieties dissolved in those moments of reconnect.

So far over these past two days, as we have been readjusting to the time difference, the heat, the food, the cultural differences, etc., God has been supernaturally rejoining us together as husband and wife and as family. He has helped me understand more fully how the miracle of His joining us can withstand so much as long as He is our focus. Our joining has withstood more time apart than together, and yet despite the distances, our spirits have never been apart.

This joining is much like the link between me and Christ – a connection that will never be broken even when the circumstances of life try to separate us. When Jesus died for my sins and I made the choice to believe, an unbreakable bond was formed. We are no longer two, but one – He in me, and I in Him.

Yesappa, Thank You for becoming one with me. Thank You for joining my husband and I together and keeping us connected even when we have been separated by a half a world. Thank You for reuniting us and for blessing our union. I pray for your continued guidance, wisdom, grace, and love in our marriage, that our marriage will be a testimony for Your glory and goodness. Let no one separate us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Jeremiah, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms