Tag Archives: opportunity

Numbers 19-21; Colossians 4

She was a mom of three. She devoted herself to home tasks, which later left her feeling helpless after his trespass and abandonment. The home, a prison. Her children, shackles. Outside her window, a perceived freedom of women climbing corporate ladders–she faced having the electricity shut off; broke and broken. It was too much. She felt hopeless.

***

Another woman was recovering during a time that felt like a life sentence. The nurses were wardens and the rules were constricting, restricting punishments. She felt all freedoms had been stripped away. Every day was punctuated by offense, oppression, complaint. The days ticked past. She praised the Lord for what he’d done in the past, but she was unable to praise him in the present for the meal, the care, the provision. She felt trapped, like she was in prison.

***

I was tasked with duties without warning. A lifelong obligation. A tethering, and sometimes too heavy–the bombardment of negativity, of opposition, of uncertainty. I fought against my own complaint, but sometimes, and sometimes often, I still complained. I fought against bitterness, and when I felt its squeeze, I cried out–oh, not this heart, Lord.  I remembered Paul. I thought of his chains.

Remember my chains. (Colossians 4:18b, NLT)

If he could find understanding and purpose in the worst of circumstances, could I find them in mine?

If I let him, could God use my circumstance to speak the Gospel? Could he use this circumstance to demonstrate his glory and goodness and sovereignty? What the enemy uses to break and beat down, could my God use to build upon and make new? Where an enemy declares an end, could God pronounce a beginning?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6, NLT)

Nothing is a surprise to my God, however it may surprise me. These things he knew before time. Tasks prepared in advance. Yes. Don’t let me miss it–that sometimes ministry is in the middle of mess and misery. For Paul, he was literally a prisoner in a prison, but for others, it’s circumstance that feels hopeless, punitive, imprisoning, endless.

17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” (Colossians 4:17, NLT)

Archippus, did you? Did you carry out the ministry the Lord gave you?

Lord Jesus, you have been with me every step of this journey, and you know how hard it’s been. You know how desperately I begged to quit from the pressure. And whether the job was heaped upon, handed over, appointed–you knew. And you intend(ed) it for my good and your glory. May it be so. Fixing my eyes on you, author and perfecter of faith. You can bring beauty from ashes.

May God’s grace be with you.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Kings 17; Colossians 4; Ezekiel 47; Psalm 103

A thread runs through the scriptures that is hard to miss – God’s provision. I have seen it im my own life, as well. God has provided in countless ways that I could never have imagined. While it may not have always been what I expected, He has always given me what I needed at the time. Like there was the time our family was struggling financially – 3 young children at home, Christmas was just around the corner. As a mom, I was heartbroken about not having gifts under the tree. One day a packaged arrived filled with wrapped gifts for my children. To this day I don’t know who sent it.

God provided.

Sometimes it is less tangible, but just as needed. I was in the midst of a particularly challenging job that was required to earn my master’s degree. I didn’t think I could make it through another day. I awoke one morning to find that my daughter had posted a verse on my mirror:

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil4:6-7

I was praying to leave the situation.

God provided a way through it.

In I Kings 17, God provided food and water for Elijah, a widow, and her son during a time of drought and difficulty.

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lordsends rain on the land.’” NIV

God provides

In Ezekiel 47, we learn of a tree that bears nourishing fruit and heals.

 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river.Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” NIV

God provides a beautiful picture of things to come. God provides a Savior.

Paul encourages us in Colossians 4 to “make the most of every opportunity.” as we speak with outsiders. May we be ready and willing to share of His provision in our lives and His provision for all lives.

Let’s sing praises as David did:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103: 1-5 NIV

Ann (naturelady)

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Numbers 3-4; Mark 3:22-35

I was looking around at other women, looking to see what they were doing–and it put me at odds with my life. They were at women’s retreats and Bible studies and community groups and part of service opportunities. I was at home–a substantial commute away from church that would require my husband to take on my responsibilities after he came home from (crazy long hours of) work, two young kids at home, and (at the time) I was homeschooling one of them. There didn’t seem to be a fit for someone like me. I struggled with wanting what I had and wanting what other women had. I struggled with feeling like I was less a part of God’s plan because my calendar was not filled with church things.

***

In Numbers, God tells Moses how the Levites will assist Aaron, these Levites like first-born sons.

11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, 13 for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the Lord.” Numbers 3:11-13 NLT.

I made a list of this tribe, and their duties. They had a role to play, and the roles didn’t cross over but were specific to the Gershonites, Kohathites and Merarite clans.

***

The other day, I sat across from a mom at her kitchen table and we talked about gifting, purpose and service. I understood that in those early years as a mom of littles, I was still able to serve God and that it didn’t have to look like what everyone else was doing. I found community and Bible study here, online through 66 Books. I was able to assist a church hospitality ministry by handling scheduling and emailing from my home at my convenience. And my service opportunities looked more like play dates and coffee dates, cultivating friendships with other moms where we supported and encouraged each other.

My kids are growing. My responsibilities look different today than they did six years ago. We even moved. Those years of hosting and hospitality were the training ground for other opportunities, preparing the way for what I’d encounter today:

One woman let her guard down and asked for prayer for a serious health problem. Another one doesn’t know her purpose. And still one admits to a lifetime at church, but now, late in life, isn’t sure she ever really believed. I saw the vulnerability of their hearts when I stopped looking at what other women were doing, and started looking at what God was doing. This happened over play dates, dinners, and doing the things God wired me to do.

24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” Mark 3:24-25 NLT

I imagine how relationships would be strengthened and blossom under the encouragement of other women, cheering the other on–instead of secretly coveting or criticizing another’s life and opportunity. (A good listen about comparison with Andy Stanley over here.) It tears relationships apart. Note to self: don’t do this.

34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:34-35 NLT.

Lord, thank you for putting a desire to serve you in my heart, and for calling me to look to you for opportunities to grow close to you and serve others. Thank you for so many examples in the family of faith whom you’ve equipped and prepared to run amazing races for you–and for telling me that you’ve got a plan just for me. Thank you for loving me, and making me part of your family.

Courtney (66books365)

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1Kings 17; Colossians 4; Ezekiel 47; Psalm 103

fall tree in my backyardMy daughter turns eleven tomorrow. I sat in the kitchen with my husband on Sunday and felt the emotional lump growing in my throat as I talked about making her birthday popovers on a day with an early start and a busy pace. I would do it, and do it happily, because these years fly by–this season (motherhood) feels like it’s rushing by me.

The time before seemed leisurely. But these years after our move, time flies.

Fall’s leafy cascade across my lawn, a changing season. Time moves on.

13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
    he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass;
    like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—
    as though we had never been here. Psalm 103:13-16 NLT

Today’s passages are a reminder and refrain: Make the most of every opportunity.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:2-5 NLT

Paul was in prison for proclaiming the gospel, and perhaps, too, to proclaim it there. His sight is focused on opportunity–to serve the Lord wherever he finds himself.

In a different time of life, I remember treading the days, waiting with hope for a new season. The Lord would teach me to serve through the wait, that I might say even then: this is why I am here. I learned, more clearly in hindsight, to see opportunity in trial.

17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” Colossians 4:17 NLT.

I don’t look at this season of motherhood as a prison–it is a gift, sticky and messy and loud. It is a piece of the Why I Am Here: to wake to laundry and popovers and homework to do. To trash days and chores and grocery trips. There is more to these days than the tasks I have numbered–there is a mysterious plan that I am to speak about and many opportunities to speak about it, in my home and outside of it.

Father God: Thank you for this ministry of motherhood. I pray that I will proclaim your message. I pray that I will make the most of every opportunity in word or deed. On the best days, or on the worst, let me always point to your grace and great love for the world.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Colossians, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms