Tag Archives: presence

Jeremiah 34-36

Following God doesn’t mean there won’t be trouble.

While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.

“‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully. (Jeremiah 34:1-5a, NIV)

God doesn’t spare us from trouble, but he goes with us through it.

As I read, I see Zedekiah and the people switch gears, and in doing so, change their fate. I read of another leader who hears the words from the Lord and sets them on fire, with blatant disregard–like saying, “I don’t want to hear it, and I don’t want to see it either.”

These chapters highlight pride, sin, integrity, faith, and so much more. Throughout all of it, I see how God, in his love, sends a warning, time and again.

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 13 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. 14 ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. 15 Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you have not paid attention or listened to me. 16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.’” (Jeremiah 35:12-17, NIV, emphasis mine)

There’s a lot going on in these chapters, and a lot of people. I wanted to get clear on who is who, so I searched for “whatever happened to Zedekiah,” not reading ahead. I got the story on him.

Lord, your word is full of real life examples. How often have I been negligent to listen to you? I want to listen well trust you. You give me your word in my hands. You want me to know you and follow you and love you. You’ve always pursued me. You are so faithful. And I am so grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 29:20-30; 2 Chronicles 1:1-4:10

I think on the the things that belong to God. If he is their God, are they not his too?

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king. (1 Chronicles 29:20, NIV)

The Lord’s presence is felt and acknowledged.

21 The next day they made sacrifices to the Lord and presented burnt offerings to him: a thousand bulls, a thousand rams and a thousand male lambs, together with their drink offerings, and other sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. 22 They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the Lord that day.

Then they acknowledged Solomon son of David as king a second time, anointing him before the Lord to be ruler and Zadok to be priest. (1 Chronicles 29:21-22, NIV, emphasis added)

I notice his presence.

Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great. (2 Chronicles 1:1, NIV, emphasis added)

Solomon goes to meet the Lord and offer sacrifices. And the Lord meets him.

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” (2 Chronicles 1:7-12, NIV)

When I realize what is the Lord’s, it changes things. My time. My life. My body. My ability. My home. My family. These are things the Lord has given me to steward for a time. And when I face this reality, why would I lean on my own limited understanding? Why would I not seek the Lord for his infinite wisdom?

Lord, when I prepare to work today, may I remember you in all the things. When I clean, when I weed, when I run, when I eat, when I interact with others–may I care for what you’ve given me with respect, tenderness and love. When Israel’s sacrifices were of the best, why wouldn’t I bring my best to you too? I want you in all the parts of my life. Without you, I wither and shrink. With you, I grow and thrive, fruitful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 37:25-40:8

A brother betrayed by his siblings and abandoned for profit … A wife widowed and a promise left unfulfilled … Lies and accusations spoken and believed send him to prison. I’ve always focused on the injustice, malice, and deceit of these verses. Today, I notice the passing of time.

Joseph’s father mourns: 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.” (Genesis 37:34-35, NIV). Judah moves off, marries, and fathers several sons (years). Joseph is sold as a slave and gains Potiphar’s trust over his household–that doesn’t happen overnight. Judah’s son, Er, dies and his widow (Tamar) is passed down to his brother, who dies, and she then is told to wait for the youngest brother to grow up. Years. And then a mention of “after some time” that Joseph was in prison, and then another mention of “after some time” when he is about to interpret dreams. These are stories of endurance.

How does one wait well when there’s no end date? Tamar didn’t know when a promise would be fulfilled, so she took action. Joseph went from slave to prisoner (two sides of the same coin) with his very freedom and life held in someone’s hand. How did they endure this for so long?

Tamar’s story in the wait lacks detail, but Joseph’s story tells of God’s favor in his life. Favor that even though he was betrayed, abandoned, accused by those around him, he was held by God.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:20b-23, NIV)

When stressful circumstances arise, I immediately think, “How do I make this work?” I’ve waded through uncomfortable situations I wasn’t sure I could bear for long. I’ve wondered if I was supposed to find a way through or a way out. These chapters have me focus on endurance and action in trial.

Lord, help me to know when to take action and when to wait patiently. Please comfort me with your presence when I have to endure difficult situations.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 9-13; Luke 16

I imagine the energy, the confidence, the awe of Old Testament days–from walking with God in the garden, to experiencing God’s might through the plagues, to walking through parted waters. I imagine the rush of knowing that if God said he’d deliver, he would do it–a soaring hope, a battle cry. How could one doubt God’s majesty in the midst of all that?

I think of the disciples and wonder how it must have felt to walk with Jesus. The miracles they saw. The lessons they learned. The healing they witnessed. Wouldn’t that have been so convincing–and for many it was.

Jesus speaks:

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:27-31, NLT)

I’m reading through a roundabout recommendation Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey that has completely flipped my perspective, just halfway through.

Today, I mentally stand on a battlefield watching Joshua and the Israelites in Joshua 9-13, and great emotion wells within me. God was with them.

I read through Luke 16 and Jesus’s story of the rich man and Lazarus–Jesus, God with them.

It’s easy to think that faith would be firm and resolute if one had witnessed Old Testament presence or New Testament flesh. But I have at my disposal the very word of God. I read those words of a long-ago time. I am comforted by the Lord. I am surprised by the Lord. I am reminded of his very real presence. I hold tightly to truth.

14 So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord. (Joshua 9:14, NLT)

Lord, when the world displays its evidence before me, may I consult you first and always.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 6; Acts 10; Jeremiah 19; Mark 5

The Israelites were hungry.

The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. (Judges 6:1-4, NLT, emphasis added)

The Israelites were hungry, and this makes an impression upon me. How many times have I read Gideon’s story (it’s really a favorite!)? But this time, I notice the mention of food, and its scarcity.

11 Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. (Judges 6:11, NLT, emphasis added)

The Lord has a task for Gideon, and I love that part. But today, I notice Gideon’s response to the Lord.

18 Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”

He answered, “I will stay here until you return.”

19 Gideon hurried home. He cooked a young goat, and with a basket of flour he baked some bread without yeast. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out and presented them to the angel, who was under the great tree.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Place the meat and the unleavened bread on this rock, and pour the broth over it.” And Gideon did as he was told. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. (Judges 6:18-21, NLT, emphasis added)

Gideon was from a small clan, and proclaimed himself the least within it. As I read on, even his family members were far from the Lord, and Gideon was afraid of them and other people in the town:

25 That night the Lord said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. 26 Then build an altar to the Lord your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town. (Judges 6:25-27, NLT, emphasis added)

I love how Gideon saw himself, and yet he acted in obedience and courage, even though he was afraid. I love how the Lord viewed Gideon as a “mighty hero” and gave him encouragement and signs. But what stands out to me today is Gideon’s enthusiasm and urgency–“Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.” And Gideon hurried home to get it. His offering was not from his abundance–food was scarce. His offering took effort–meat and bread. His offering was generous–not leftovers and not excuses. And this leaves a mighty impression upon me.

Lord, thank you for your generosity toward me. You encourage me and speak to my heart in your word. I value generosity, and I know you do too as you give so abundantly.

Courtney (66books365)

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