Tag Archives: persistence

Deuteronomy 23-26; Luke 11

When I finished talking, she asked me, “But what does God say about you?” I knew the intellectual response. But when I held his words in my hand, why did it feel like the weight of circumstance felt heavier? When God knows my history, my thoughts, my heart, my dreams, why couldn’t his word weigh more?

“But the Lord your God refused to listen to Balaam. He turned the intended curse into a blessing because the Lord your God loves you.” (Deuteronomy 23:5, NLT)

When I know where I came from and who I should have been, I can see the Lord’s saving hand in my life. This remembrance shows me his great love and mercy. He is so kind. And I am so grateful.

“Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from slavery.” (Deuteronomy 24:18, NLT)

Why couldn’t his word weigh more?

16 “Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. 17 You have declared today that the Lord is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. 18 The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. 19 And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19, NLT)

Because I wasn’t focused on it. I focused on opinions of people whose minds were already made up. I focused on perception that took in only fragments instead of the whole. I gave weight to those whose hearts weren’t for me, were riddled with pockets of darkness. And when my focus was there, no wonder the weight was heavy.

34 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. 35 Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. 36 If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Luke 11:34-36, NLT)

The Lord reminds me to be persistent in prayer. Keep on asking, seeking, knocking. I know this prayer by heart, but I write it out in a new translation. I write it out by hand.

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
    May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4, NLT)

Keep on.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 15-16; 1 Chronicles 1; Psalm 39; Acts 11

Samuel gave a message to Saul from the Lord. Saul didn’t completely obey the command. Perhaps he thought he did enough, but he really did what pleased himself.

35 Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel. (Samuel 15:35, NLT)

Those words cause me to mourn too. Tasks unfinished, or work half-hearted, one doesn’t have to be a king to do a poor job, to be selfish. The Lord, he sees it all.

Lately, I’ve been working on goals, and as big things get checked off and I consider the little things, I lose heart. These dailies, they seem quite small and insignificant (and to be honest, some things I just don’t want to do). But a friend kindly pointed out the deep importance of my diligence. And when I shifted my gaze to what God has before me, the diligence is not only shaping character, it has a potential to affect generations. These daily little things–a choice to do them or not has very real (and bigger) consequences.

David was out in the fields watching sheep and goats. His place in the family–shepherd and youngest–seeming, perhaps, quite small and insignificant. He wasn’t given a thought to be called to meet Samuel.

11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”

“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.

And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.” (Samuel 16:11-12, NLT)

David goes from the field to serving in Saul’s court as harpist and armor bearer. And that was just the start. He was chosen by God. Would David choose God back? (Perhaps Saul wanted to follow God, but he wanted what he wanted more, and his lack of focus would cost him.)

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
    Remind me that my days are numbered—
    how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
    My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
    at best, each of us is but a breath.” 

We are merely moving shadows,
    and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
    not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
    My only hope is in you. (Psalm 39:4-7, NLT)

These readings are full of wisdom and encouragement. Lineages chronicled of people, all part of God’s story. And in Acts, believers, unnamed, are scattered with the power of the Lord, influencing many lives. Life, wholehearted.

24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:24, NLT)

Lord, thank you for this gentle correction. I praise you for the big ways you’ve moved in my life this year. And I want to be passionately diligent with the (seemingly) little things. You’re looking at my heart. I put my hope in you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

1 Chronicles 23; 1Peter 4; Micah 2; Luke 11

Luke 11 has a lot to say about prayer.  It begins with the Lord’s Prayer.  It continues with the story of a man making a persistent request of someone in no mood to grant it.  Its final teaching on prayer uses the analogy of a human parent granting a child’s request to help us understand God’s desire to answer ours.

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;  for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.    Luke 11:5-8

I can easily relate to this image, especially since my firstborn arrived on the scene.  Persistence is not something she needs to learn.  If there is something she wants from me, she’ll keep asking until I either give in or I manage to convince her that my mind is set and it would no longer be wise to keep pressing the matter. (I’m embarrassed to admit how often I’ve gone with the former, reinforcing her instincts.)  Therefore, I can certainly picture the truth expressed here with a man who reaches the point where he will give a neighbor anything asked of him just to make him go away!

The thing I don’t like about this picture is that it leaves the obvious impression of God answering our requests simply so we’ll stop bothering Him.  I know God is bothered by some of the things I do and say and think, but I don’t like to think He’s ever bothered by me.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”   Luke 11:11-13

I’ve heard more than one sermon on verses 5 through 8 before, though I hope I never again hear it discussed in isolation from verses 11 through 13 as I have in the past.  Here, the image of God trying to get us to leave Him alone is destroyed.  He is far more than a tired friend annoyed with our requests; He is a loving Father who delights in providing for our needs and any desire that fits into His plan.  He delights in giving His children gifts, and the Holy Spirit is His best gift of all.  If persistence will make a friend grant a request, how much more will persistence make a father listen?  If an evil father desires to give good gifts to his children, how much more might we expect from our Good Heavenly Father?

I might take exception to the fact that this passage calls me an evil father, but I ironically proved Jesus’ point with my earlier admission that I sometimes treat my children’s’ requests like the man in verse 8.  Thank God that He, however, is Good.

Michael   (mmattix)

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Jeremiah 4 – 6

Scripture

“‘If you will return, O Israel, return to Me,’ declares the Lord. ‘If you put your detestable idols out of My sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will be blessed by Him and in Him they will glory.’ ” Jeremiah 4:1,2 (NIV)

“‘Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!’ ” 4:18

“‘Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.’ ” 5:1

“‘ Take warning, O Jerusalem, or I will turn away from you and make your land desolate, so no one can live in it.’ ” 6: 8

“‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’  ” 6:16

Observation

God has raised up yet another prophet to warn Judah of impending disaster at the hand of a distant nation, if they continue to persist in their deliberate disobedience.

I can’t help but think about God’s pleadings and warnings from a parental point of view. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to the wall, or possibly speaking another language as I remind my children of the rules once again. Why won’t anyone listen to me?

 God is so persistent. He just reaches out time and time again, literally giving the Israelites hundreds of years before the exile,  looking for a positive turn from their rebellion. Encouraging them to turn around, return to Him. But He also is very clear about the consequences if they do not.

In chapter 4:18 it is so clear how painful it is for God to have to punish them. The phrase “this hurts me more than it hurts you” comes to mind. We so want our children to do what is right.  We see the big picture and know from an adult perspective what negative outcomes might happen from disrespect and disobedience and what good will come from a home where respect and obedience is the standard.

Application

From the very first verse of chapter four, I get a small taste of the pain that I cause God from going my own way, giving things precedence over Him, doing my own thing. I can just hear Him, with a crack in His voice, a tear running down His face “If you will return to me…O (Beckie)…return to Me. Life would be so much more sweet, more richer if you would let Me have the controls. I have the big picture in mind. I know the beginning from the end. Please trust Me with everything.”

Prayer

Father,

I want to follow You in all things and in all ways, without hesitation, not relying on my own wisdom, but trusting totally and completely in You. Please forgive me for doing it my way and thinking that I know best. I am so thankful for Your persistence in patience and mercy with me! I pray that as I deal with my own children and their “transgressions” that I do so from a godly perspective, knowing how tenderly You deal with me. Thank you my loving, forgiving, tenderly compassionate Father! I love you!

– Beckie (look2thehills)

 

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