Tag Archives: purpose

2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6

I took a Saturday self-defense workshop recently. I learned a lot (I’ve forgotten a lot, too!). Our group had hands-on practice and drills. At the end of the session, we formed a circle, and one by one, each of us took a turn in the center to “battle” those of us forming the outside ring with kicks and punches. It was a simulation of a situation where one stood against several. The instructor had a way of encouraging us to take action when we hesitated. He bellowed loudly, forcefully, and commanded, “GO!”

I think on moments in life when I had felt uncertainty, fear, hesitation, intimidation. Moments (at a table instead of encircled in an alley) where I had to face a foe–whether human or situational: to take on a responsibility, to address a conflict, to speak truth, to be accountable. In some of the most stressful moments of my life, I can practically guarantee that I wouldn’t have wanted to be there. But want or not, there I was.

Paul found himself in situations I could only describe as outrageous. How many times had he stared death in the eye? How many times did he go head-to-head with evil? He spoke from experience and reality. I read his words in The Message:

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

11-13 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (2 Corinthians 6:1-13, MSG)

Paul didn’t waste words. There’s a lot he wanted to share, and his message is concise and urgent.

Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, MSG)

Lord, help me to carry your word with me every day of the week.

Courtney (66books365)

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Micah 5-7; Matthew 25

Listen to what the Lord is saying … my daughter wanted a book on how to read people, and in my search, I came across a book called Becoming Bulletproof by Evy Poumpouras. I started to read it, and this word repeats often: listen.

Micah 6 opens with these lines, “Listen to what the Lord is saying …”

“O my people, what have I done to you?
    What have I done to make you tired of me?
    Answer me!” Micah 6:3, NLT, emphasis added

Tired of the Lord?

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. (Matthew 25:1-4, NLT, emphasis mine)

This parable of the bridesmaids has been on my mind the past year, and now entering hurricane season, I think about being prepared–how do you prepare for a literal destructive storm? Toilet paper? Non-perishables? Batteries? How do you prepare spiritually?

This oil, fuel for light, and the bridesmaids–all of them were bridesmaids–I search online: what does the oil represent? Biblestudy.org suggests that the oil represents the Holy Spirit and the bridesmaids are believers. I read on in the explanation: “The meaning of the parable of the ten virgins teaches us that, shortly before Christ’s return, there will be Christians who are so slack in their spiritual duties that they will not have enough of God’s Spirit (character) in order to endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). All true Christians should make sure they have the faith and are diligent enough in their spiritual lives not to be caught unprepared (Matthew 24:45 – 51). We must all strive to be wise, and not foolish, virgins.”

The next parable in Matthew 25 is the Parable of the Three Servants.

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.” Matthew 25:14-15, NLT, emphasis mine.

Upon the man’s return, each servant shows how he used the money entrusted to him, and of the three, all but one doubles the investment. Each one was left a portion according to his ability, so the playing field is fair. The last man has nothing to show but the original investment, which he thinks is good enough. The master calls this servant wicked and lazy, and banishes him.

In the first parable, the bridesmaids caught unprepared were locked out from the feast. This is what Jesus says,

11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return. (Matthew 25:11-13, NLT)

The wicked and lazy servant who does nothing with his allotment receives a crushing fate:

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:28-30, NLT)

And at the end of the chapter, Jesus talks about the final judgment. The nations are gathered in his presence. And there is judgment based on action.

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ (Matthew 25:45, NLT, emphasis added)

Impressions on this reading speak of preparation, prudence, purpose–but really all of it is action. An alert faith. A Kingdom focus. I think long about my walk–am I walking with the Lord? Or am I walking apart from him?

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NLT)

Lord, in these parables, the bridesmaids, the servants, those gathered in your presence, all know who you are. And each responds in his own way. These stories were spoken and recorded for the benefit of your followers. You spoke this because you want us to know. You have told us. You have given to us according to ability. May we live without excuse.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 22; 1 Peter 3; Micah 1; Luke 10

I imagine Jesse’s sons lined up as Samuel walked by looking for the one God had chosen to be anointed. That son was out in a field watching over animals, and he must not have been regarded as a possibility because he wasn’t in the line up. I note that David was not as (comparison: big, strong, handsome) as his brothers. I can only imagine. I think of that boy, David, who had a heroic future ahead of him, so many things God had planned for him. David, who faced off against a giant–a legend. David, who was hunted by a king and an army–not so glamorous.

I imagine in 1 Chronicles 22, David who gathers together tools and supplies for his son to carry out a historic task.

Then David sent for his son Solomon and instructed him to build a Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel. “My son, I wanted to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God,” David told him. “But the Lord said to me, ‘You have killed many men in the battles you have fought. And since you have shed so much blood in my sight, you will not be the one to build a Temple to honor my name. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a Temple to honor my name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will secure the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’

11 “Now, my son, may the Lord be with you and give you success as you follow his directions in building the Temple of the Lord your God. 12 And may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, that you may obey the Law of the Lord your God as you rule over Israel. 13 For you will be successful if you carefully obey the decrees and regulations that the Lord gave to Israel through Moses. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart!” (1 Chronicles 22:6-13, NLT)

It was a job David wanted to complete, but he knew that it was destined for Solomon. I love, that as a father, leader, and visionary, David made the necessary supplies and guidance available for his son. I love that David loved the Lord so much that, although he wouldn’t be the one to complete the job, he did all that he could to contribute to a future he wouldn’t see.

I think long on purpose. I know women who gaze into another’s life and get caught in a comparison trap. Perhaps the Lord equips and provides for each as their purpose requires. How ineffective to covet another’s belongings, status, purpose at even a momentary neglect of your own. A friend was telling me about the encouraging atmosphere she found in a small community and wondered, “Why can’t we all be like that everywhere and build people up?” I think of David, who put his desire to build the temple to better use, to equip and encourage the one who would actually build it.

Jesus infused his followers with purpose.

The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves … “If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ 10 But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’” (Luke 10:1-3, 8-11, NLT)

Lord, help me to keep my eyes on your kingdom. Help me to keep my focus on the job you have called me to. Let me be one to serve you with my whole heart. I don’t want to be ineffective. I don’t want to miss what you have planned for me. Thank you for giving me this place, this space, this time to honor you and serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 10, 11; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

28 In this way, Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel. 29 He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin.

30 Nonetheless the Lord said to Jehu, “You have done well in following my instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation.” 31 But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. (2 Kings 10:28-31, NLT)

A nightmarish scene. Merciless slaughter and destruction. He moved through the area with purpose. Taking in the scene with the eyes of a spectator, I’d say he gave it his all. But reading the words that follow, seeing the unseen, I learn that he didn’t. I am frozen by the subtlety of sin that takes refuge in a heart.

14 “But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.

23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
    and raise them for myself.
I will show love
    to those I called ‘Not loved.’
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’
    I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’” (Hosea 2:14-15, 23, NLT)

Jezreel–God plants–and the fruit transforms generations. I am touched by his tenderness, his faithfulness, his grace.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:5-7, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I sit with your words today in deep contemplation. I don’t want to sleepwalk through my life, thinking I’m doing my best and then realize how much I held back (or how much I held onto). Help me to fan into flames the gift you’ve given me, to live in the power, love and self-discipline of the spirit you’ve given me.

105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66, 67

I recently ran seven miles nonstop. This was a really big deal for me because I’m preparing to run a half-marathon next year, and there’s a part of me that feels intimidated by the distance. I was truly surprised at how good I felt when I finished the mileage. I was surprised I did it. When I was in my twenties, I was very athletic. When I was in my forties, I was very not athletic. In fact, I was unhealthy, overweight, stressed and grieving.

This week when I set out on my long run, I did seven miles again, shaving nearly a minute of my per-mile pace. I was so very thankful to God for all of it. I remember thinking, “I forgot I was an athlete.” And I felt like God reminded me: you forgot a lot of things.

In Louie Giglio’s book Not Forsaken, I nearly choked at this sentence: “You are no longer a slave to the abuse or addictions of your parents or to the grave where your father is buried.” (198) I sat in awe–Lord, I forgot I am no longer a slave. And He filled in the blanks of other things I forgot–that I am capable and equipped for the tasks He has prepared for me; I am given my own skill set to bring Him glory; I am loved, valued and chosen; I am His daughter.

Today, when I read Paul’s words, he sets my focus straight. My heart and thoughts sometimes get caught in a tug-of-war among the media, my own issues, other opinions, and what is right.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:1-16, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I need You and Your Word every day. I forget. I forget when I’m distracted or worried or stressed. I forget when I am overwhelmed. I forget when I am angry. But You and Your Word are never far, and always ready to guide the way. Thank you for reminding me, for giving me freedom, for showing me the way, for saving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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