Tag Archives: promise

Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

I get a taste of the times by reading Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45–a sampling over a span of chapters. Jeremiah confronts again:

“For the past twenty-three years […] the Lord has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them on to you, but you have not listened.

“Again and again the Lord has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention. Each time the message was this: ‘Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. Only then will I let you live in this land that the Lord gave to you and your ancestors forever. Do not provoke my anger by worshiping idols you made with your own hands. Then I will not harm you.’

“But you would not listen to me,” says the Lord. “You made me furious by worshiping idols you made with your own hands, bringing on yourselves all the disasters you now suffer. (Jeremiah 25:3-7, NLT)

(I read of the cup of God’s anger, and it’s not an only mention in the Bible. The cup is mentioned in several books, and in each, it is terrifying.)

To another family, a promise from God in response to their obedience.

And in audacity, King Jehoiakim’s response to God:

21 The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. Jehudi brought it from Elishama’s room and read it to the king as all his officials stood by. 22 It was late autumn, and the king was in a winterized part of the palace, sitting in front of a fire to keep warm. 23 Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. 24 Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard. 25 Even when Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, he wouldn’t listen. (Jeremiah 36:21-25, NLT)

Father God, may I never take your word so lightly. If your promises and word are trustworthy, and they are, they should be the direction I seek to draw even closer to you. I am glad your word doesn’t change, and that you are true. You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and I can walk in full confidence of your promise.

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18, NLT)

Lord, help me to live a life undistracted, but with a keen kingdom focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 17-18; Psalm 119; Jude

No dew or rain for the next few years. Elijah is fed by the ravens and drinks by a brook until it dries up. The Lord tells him to move on.

Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” (1 Kings 17:8-9, NLT, emphasis added)

The ravens obey the Lord and feed Elijah. The Lord tells Elijah where to go and what to expect. Some of the things he says are revealed to us (the reader), and some of the things are not revealed, perhaps not even to those it involves. When Elijah asks the widow for a drink and some bread, her response:

12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.” (1 Kings 17:12, NLT)

Her response doesn’t sound like someone who was instructed by the Lord, but I can’t know the dialogue because it isn’t given. Instead, I read her doubts and reasons. However the Lord may have instructed her, her response doesn’t acknowledge it. It speaks of her own ability, her own resources, her own fears.

Would I know the Lord’s voice over the sound of my own thoughts and fears? Would I obey him like the ravens did, or would I cling to what I could hold despite his prompting to let go?

The drought lasted three years. When the wait for relief is prolonged, would I still hear his voice?

Psalm 119 tells of the psalmist’s delight in the laws of the Lord.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord … 24 Your laws please me; they give me wise advice … 37 Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word … 74 May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word … 92 If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery … 116 Lord, sustain me as you promised, that I may live! Do not let my hope be crushed.

150 Lawless people are coming to attack me;
    they live far from your instructions.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
    and all your commands are true.
152 I have known from my earliest days
    that your laws will last forever. (Psalm 119:1, 24, 37, 74, 92, 116, 150-152, NLT)

Would that be my song in trouble and waiting?

10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion …

17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. (Jude verses 10-11, 17-21, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, the psalm proclaims that your word is a lamp to my feet. Keep me in the light of your path. Keep your word hidden deeply in my heart. I don’t want anyone’s voice to drown out the truth and promise of your word.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21; Romans 4

I have a purple buff/gaiter that I sometimes use as a head covering when I work in the yard. It’s different from the others I have because if I try to stretch the fabric from top to bottom, it doesn’t budge. But when I take hold from the sides and pull, it stretches. It seems odd that a fabric can be pulled one direction, but not the other. And it’s probably odd that I think of that when I read the scriptures today.

In 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21, David takes a census.

Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him (2 Samuel 24:1, NLT); and Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1, NLT).

I note how sin has a far-reaching effect–this act carries a consequence touching thousands. Of three possible outcomes, a plague strikes the land taking lives of 70,000 people.

I think of a fabric being pulled and stretched, yielding and groaning to a force. But when I read Romans 4, I see a fabric that doesn’t budge. That doesn’t stretch. That holds by its integrity. And I am reminded again of the great power of faith, the great gift of God, immovable, that maintains its posture.

13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. (Romans 4:13-17, NLT)

20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. (Romans 4:20-25, NLT)

When I feel stretched and pulled by battling emotions, I want to remember this truth that should weaken every struggling thought and urge to silence. What if I spoke aloud: Courtney never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, her faith grew stronger, and in this, she brought glory to God. She was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

Lord, thank you for lessons in fabric that hold their shape and integrity. Thank you for this word today, recorded for my benefit too, assuring me that you will count me as righteous if I believe in you. Greatest gift ever, a faith that glorifies you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 19-21; Acts 2

Recently a friend and I sat in somber reflection at the power of influence. Influence can be an unintentional bump, a gentle nudge, or a fierce force sending one in a direction or on a path, for better or worse. And when influence gathers a following, it is its own entity.

There’s a sense of foreboding when a couple rests at the town square.

18 “We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I’m returning home. But no one has taken us in for the night, 19 even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.”

20 “You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.” (Judges 19:18-20, NLT)

While they were dining as guests in the old man’s house …

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)

I pause at this crowd. Would one man have acted this way on his own? To be so bold as to make demands and intimidate? Would two men have done this? But one’s idea catches fire to a crowd, and they arrive at this place and collectively terrorize a victim–the concubine.

27 When her husband opened the door to leave, there lay his concubine with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said, “Get up! Let’s go!” But there was no answer. So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.

29 When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine’s body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.

30 Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?” (Judges 19:27-30, NLT)

Not succumbing to poor influences is a starting point, and it may keep one out of the mix. But this seizes me: everyone who saw it (admitted it was a horrible crime, recognized it for the abuse it was, was aware of the oppressive force) … who’s going to speak up?

I can take those words and apply them today to any number of things: from bullying, domestic issues, and social ostracizing to violence, injustice, or oppression.

I contrast this with the fire of the Holy Spirit that comes upon the group in Acts 2. A group is witness to the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, and still, they write it off to something they can understand instead of seeing it for divine truth in action.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” (Acts 2:13, NLT)

Another crowd. Ridicule. But there are some who see the truth, and their hearts are pierced.

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” (Acts 2:37-40, NLT)

Father God, the Holy Spirit is a gift, a promise. Help me to heed your counsel. Whether one-to-one or in a group, please give me wisdom and courage to do what is right and honor you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

What does warfare look like? A plain pulsing with enemies armed for battle.

All these kings came out to fight. Their combined armies formed a vast horde. And with all their horses and chariots, they covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore. The kings joined forces and established their camp around the water near Merom to fight against Israel. (Joshua 11:4-5, NLT)

Deep waters pummeling and pulling down to steal one’s very breath.

Reach down from heaven and rescue me;
    rescue me from deep waters,
    from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
    they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead. (Psalm 144:7-8, NLT)

And maybe warfare doesn’t look like a field of foes or an undertow force sucking and dragging–maybe it looks like apathy, satiety, lust. Maybe it’s not an army without, but an enemy within.

For their rebellion is great,
    and their sins are many.

“How can I pardon you?
    For even your children have turned from me.
They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all!
    I fed my people until they were full.
But they thanked me by committing adultery
    and lining up at the brothels.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation? (Jeremiah 5:6b-9, NLT)

When face to face with Jesus, he will shed light upon the things one truly values.

20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:20-22, NLT)

My strength is in Christ; the victory is the Lord’s.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men. Then you must cripple their horses and burn their chariots.”

So Joshua and all his fighting men traveled to the water near Merom and attacked suddenly. And the Lord gave them victory over their enemies. (Joshua 11:6-8, NLT)

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.

He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
    He makes the nations submit to me. (Psalm 144:1-2, NLT)

Listen, you foolish and senseless people,
    with eyes that do not see
    and ears that do not hear.
22 Have you no respect for me?
    Why don’t you tremble in my presence?
I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline
    as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross.
The waves may toss and roar,
    but they can never pass the boundaries I set.

23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
    They have turned away and abandoned me.
24 They do not say from the heart,
    ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
    assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
    Your sin has robbed you of all these good things. (Jeremiah 5:21-25, NLT)

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26, NLT)

Obedience to God and following Christ, letting go of strongholds and seeking with a whole heart … The walk with Christ is not easy–it is war, a war for my heart and soul. Do I recognize the battlefield?

Lord, you came to set me free, to give me a new heart, to give me victory in you. You value my whole heart, and I want my life to honor and celebrate you, with full expression and joy of my heart. Thank you for caring enough (so much!) about me to promise me you’ll never forsake me.

Courtney (66books365)

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