Tag Archives: maturity

Psalms 40-42

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him. (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV)

Yesterday’s reading emphasized, for me, that our only hope is the Lord. The verses today put my thoughts to deliverance and blessing–a blessing that is born from hardship. Not only that, but how through situations likened to pit, muck and mire, the Lord’s deliverance magnifies his glory for all to see.

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly. (Psalm 40:9-10, NIV)

I’ve usually been one to want a way out of a hardship, and not a way through it. I am not alone in a hardship–there are others who either walk alongside or who walk away. Those who stay–do they know they are blessed?

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
    the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
    they are counted among the blessed in the land—
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
    and restores them from their bed of illness. (Psalm 41:1-3, NIV)

I haven’t always looked for the blessing from or the honor due to God in a trial. In fact, I may have been more preoccupied with the details of the pit and the muck and mire. Certain events this year have caused me to look at life differently. One being, on a lighter note, a self-imposed (inflicted!) challenge (75 Hard) that I had to restart several times. I ended up getting a copy of the book (originally I was just going off the checklist), which was key in reframing the purpose of the challenge: to develop mental toughness. In what could be a long story, God used the purpose of mental toughness and paired it with my walk with him in a situation where I not only needed his guidance and kindness, but also needed the mental toughness to step into conflict with maturity and composure.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11, NIV)

Life really does have a lot of conflict, hardship and trial. Lord, I want to handle the “little” situations in a way that honors you. These little things prepare me for the bigger things. Again I ask, “How do I want to show up in the world?” The answer unchanged: like I am the Lord’s.

Lord, you know I’ve made a lot of excuses. I’ve whined and complained. I’ve avoided hard situations out of my own fear and discomfort. All of these things have kept me dull, weak and ineffective. Thank you for being with me the other day when I picked up the phone. Thank you for putting scripture in my mind to hold my focus. Thank you for putting a new song in my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 20:1-22:34

I have a goal planner that breaks goals down into “monthly” (big picture), “weekly,” and “daily” (habit building) activities. Sometimes I can get so focused on the daily habits that I lose sight of the big picture purpose. It takes effort for me to keep a big picture focus. And not just with goals, sometimes I can get caught up in a detail or distraction of circumstance, and then find myself off course of a kingdom focus.

Joab is in pursuit of Sheba, a man who turned against David.

19 “We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”

20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.” (2 Samuel 20:19-21, NIV)

Joab keeps his focus: he was after Sheba, not intent on destroying an entire community. That type of focus is a sign of discipline, self-control, and maturity. Joab kept his word and left once he obtained his goal. (Also very impressed with the “wise woman” who cut through all the distraction of an army to get to the point, avoiding mass casualties and destruction.)

During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.” (2 Samuel 21:1, NIV)

In the detail of the immediate (a famine), a bigger picture is revealed (the consequences of Saul’s actions as catalyst). Not only am I impressed by David seeking the Lord’s face, but I also notice that God uses immediate issues (like a famine) to bring about (bigger picture) justice. It would take a man after God’s heart to go deeper, to seek understanding, and then have the ability to take action.

But I linger longest in these verses, slowing to take in the meaning. David’s song of praise, of all that the Lord has done for him, and how David lives his life in response.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
    to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
27 to the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble,
    but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
29 You, Lord, are my lamp;
    the Lord turns my darkness into light.
30 With your help I can advance against a troop;
    with my God I can scale a wall.

31 “As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
32 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
33 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure. (2 Samuel 22:26-33, NIV)

Lord, how often do I lose you in the details? How often do I forget to see with a kingdom focus? I pray that it would be my habit to praise you daily, to seek your face, to give you glory, and to live with discipline, self-control and maturity. May I not be moved by emotions and distractions, but instead live like the “wise woman” who keeps an end goal in mind, despite the circumstances.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 25:32-30:10 

Had Abigail not intervened, David’s response would have been swift and severe. He recognizes, however, that her intervention was from/by/through God, and he gives praise where it’s due. In one moment, he is stirred to slaughter, but in the next, he exercises great control and submission to God. Two very powerful stances. In the heat of a moment, I wonder, would I choose words and actions rooted in the intensity of the moment or would I relinquish my passions in obedience to the Lord? In this reading, I emphasize God’s sovereignty. He sees a big picture. I see just a fraction.

32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.” (1 Samuel 25:32-34, NIV, emphasis added)

God handles things in the big picture. I can walk away when he calls me elsewhere. I can trust he’s working all things out.

38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died. (1 Samuel 25:38, NIV, emphasis added)

David stood over sleeping Saul and exercises restraint through humility. Lord, am I humble to the point of leaving things in your hands? Am I confident in you or myself?

23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.” (1 Samuel 26:23-24, NIV, emphasis added)

In a time of trouble, Saul consults a medium, to consult the ghost of dead man. And Samuel’s spirit gives all sovereignty, power, and glory to God.

16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 28:16-19, NIV, emphasis added)

In a time of trouble, David holds to the ephod to inquire of the Lord.

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” (1 Samuel 30:7-8, NIV, emphasis added)

These scriptures are timelessly relevant. Human passion, emotion, and weakness are still the same. And so is my God–still the same. Trustworthy. Sovereign. Mighty. Just.

Father God, I’m thankful that your example shows me over and over again of who you are. My emotions can be fierce and fleeting, based on limited information and charged by my own bias. But you see the full picture, around the world, beginning to end. I pray that I always seek you, rely on you, honor you, and glorify you by word and action. I want to grow to maturity in you, with evidence of your hand and guidance in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 30-32

If Aaron knew …

Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come. Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” (Exodus 30:7-10, NIV, emphasis mine)

If Aaron knew the plans being discussed behind the scenes, would he have participated, encouraged, enabled the things he did?

Moses was getting instructions from the Lord. The Lord names people, tells Moses that he is equipping them with honorable tasks and special skills to do the things he as planned for them. So many people get to participate in the Lord’s plan, get to contribute meaningfully to a people’s future–creating things of beauty, leading them in reverence–all things they were specifically chosen for and given knowledge and ability to accomplish.

But when Moses didn’t come back soon enough, the people grew impatient. And Aaron, one of them who had been set apart for something greater, participates in something lesser, detestable even, than what God would have for him.

He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:4a, NIV)

And his excuse? When you know the truth, it’s pretty lame. Even if you didn’t know the truth, it’s just lame.

22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. (Exodus 32:22-25, NIV, emphasis mine)

The reading today has me in deep reflection. I want to be attentive to the Lord, to be available for tasks he has for me, to honor him with my life. But sometimes my attitude, words and actions aren’t in alignment with that desire.

If I knew what the Lord was planning, behind the scenes, the plans he had for me, would my impatience, immaturity, or lack of restraint derail me from something better, meaningful, God honoring? At first glance of the subheadings, I imagined I would write something about the idols we craft. But here I find myself thinking on how stupid moves and pressure can quickly take one so very far for what God wants for him.

If Aaron knew what God had set aside for him to do, would he have been so quick to fashion a golden calf instead?

Lord, help me to make better choices.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 18; Philemon; Hosea 11; Psalms 132-134

I wrote this quote down on a scrap paper yesterday, “It’s impossible to find out who you are while living in the best case scenario.” I love living in the best-case scenario. I love periods of calm and predictability–they feel safe. While I certainly enjoy periods of calm, I know I can’t put my faith or security in them: they don’t last.

I watch through the pages of 2 Kings as Hezekiah moves with confidence in his reign. I note: he was twenty-five when he first started reigning; he did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight; he removed shrines and idols; and,

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did. He revolted against the king of Assyria and refused to pay him tribute. (2 Kings 18:5-7, NLT, emphasis added)

I think on Hezekiah’s refusal to pay tribute to Assyria. Years later, an army would arrive at border towns and threaten Hezekiah. That’s the thing about enemies, you can appease them by meeting their demands or choose not to, but either way, they are still an enemy.

“This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? 20 Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me? (2 Kings 18:19b-20, NLT)

When an enemy threatens the doorstep, Lord, I want my trust in you to “make (me) so confident.”

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. (Philemon 4-7, NLT)

Lord, help me to love in action and to live with an abundant perspective, to offer generously because of my faith in You and because I understand and experience all the good things I have in You. It is so very important that I focus on the Lord and know who I am in Him. This knowledge will affect my decisions and bring out who I am outside of the best case scenario.

Lord, I cannot trust changing times. I cannot trust the impulsive whims of war or peace from a dissatisfied and greedy enemy. However, I can trust in You–Way, Truth, Life. You are my strength. You are my refuge. You are my hope. Oh, help me to understand and experience all I have in You.

Courtney (66books365)

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