Tag Archives: relationships

I Kings 21; I Thessalonians 4; Daniel 4; Psalm 108, 109

Jesus Christ summed up the Ten Commandments in two statements, one of which is to love the Lord God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. The other is to love your neighbor as yourself. I wax and wane in my passion to love God even though I never want to leave His side. And I sometimes step back when loving my neighbor is at stake. That is, I have to take a time out to rethink my words, reframe my motivations, and reign in my emotions before asking questions, making and answering requests, or commenting on what others say and do. Years of not getting this right and experience in hurting others or causing chaos in my relationships has heightened my vigilance for preventing problematic encounters, yet nothing can stay my heart and my tongue like the chastisement of God.

As I read I Kings 21:5, 15, I recognized how Ahab was influenced by his wife. Specifically, I relate to my own behaviors that incited my husband to defend me in situations where I needed to humble myself, instead. Like Ahab, I displayed a sullen, pouty face about something that I could not have. In the Old Testament, Ahab’s wife Jezebel, asked, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat not your food?” She then orchestrated the murder of Naboth so that her husband could have Naboth’s vineyard. Like Ahab’s spouse, my husband sought solutions, and sometimes that meant compromising his own righteousness. And what did I do? I did just like Ahab: “So it was when Ahab heard Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” That is, I allowed my husband to do something that I would not, but then was happy to have what I should not.

Isn’t it interesting that in marriages, a spouse can either encourage and inspire or manipulate and blame.

In other situations, trying to love thy neighbor as thyself has left me confused and disappointed. I think I am in good company because even the saints cried out to God in similar situations: Psalm 109:4, 5 records these complaints, “In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for love.”

Yes, I pray, and yes, I want justice. Yet one meaning of justice is “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people,” (https://www.google.com/search). Do I want this just for me or do I love well enough to desire this for all others? I’m afraid my ill will too often highlights the sin of entitlement. Instead of agreeing that others deserve happiness, I speak this lie to myself; “I deserve an easier life.” Thus, what naturally pour out of my mouth are words of bitterness, jealousy, and anger. Like I said, experience has taught me this.

Walking with God, the Father, however, has taught me better truths. I now know that I despise inciting or attacking others worse than accepting being sad, frustrated, or afraid. I know that I can praise the Almighty, loving God who is able to confront or defend me, as He sees fit. Daniel 4:37 says, “I…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” I do not have to play the Holy Spirit in another person’s life; my task is to love God with all my heart, my soul, and my mind; and to love my neighbor as myself.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Genesis 5; Matthew 5; Ezra 5; Acts 5

When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. (Genesis 5:1b, NLT)

Not much farther down the page, this:

When Adam was 130 years old, he became the father of a son who was just like him—in his very image. He named his son Seth. (Genesis 5:3, NLT)

A lineage of fathers and sons ensues–generations. But Enoch’s mention reads a little differently.

21 When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 Enoch lived 365 years, 24 walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24, NLT, emphasis mine)

Just like Amy, I pick a focus word each year. Last year’s was COMMUNITY. This year, it’s RESTORE.

I was driving back from the library last night and listened to segments of a radio sermon. I’d love to go back and give it my full attention, but there was a part where the pastor talked about busyness, the badge people wear with weary and pride, and how if we’re so busy, it’s because we choose it. (His wording was much more poignant, to be sure.)

It stirred up a connection to an inbox article I read the other day about quiet time in the Word, and specifically bullet point three (dealing with busyness and, ahem, restoration.).

Like Enoch, I want to live in close fellowship with the Lord. It made him stand out on a page, but I want it to make me stand out as different. I don’t want to be just like everyone else–over committed and weary. I may still have a schedule that has me up early and running all day, but through it all, I want to live restored in my soul–not found in coffee breaks and coffee dates (although, I love coffee), but in God’s Word.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:13-16, NLT)

Father God, I know (I KNOW!) that you are the well that quenches my thirst. Nothing in this world, no matter how full my days, will fill me up, satisfy me and RESTORE me as time in your Word will. I’m thankful for precious access to you through prayer and your Word.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 10-12; Psalm 83; John 4

I am the Samaritan woman. I read the story about the woman Jesus met at the well and realized her story is my story.  One day, I went to the well because I was thirsty.  I was looking for that satisfaction, that quenching, that had eluded me throughout my life.  I had tried to fill it several times before in many different ways.

“Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.” He was waiting for me.  I knew it the minute I walked into that church.  Something was different this time.  I walked in and looked at the faces of all those people worshipping.  I knew whatever it was, THAT is what I was looking for.

15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.

17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.

Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

I sat in that church service thinking of my life. I had been married and divorced twice and had jumped right into another relationship so fast it made my head spin.  We were all but living together.  At that point I didn’t know how else to fill up that emptiness that was inside of me.  The rejection ran so deep.  I thought that I needed someone in my life to give me value, to prove that I wasn’t a loser who deserved to be walked out on.  If only I found the right person, then I would be happy.  All the pain would go away.

“Please, sir, give me this water!” or I said something very similar and then Jesus offered me that living water.

14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

I met the great I Am that day. I did find the right Person!

26 Then Jesus told her, I am the Messiah!”[d]

28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!

Once I met Jesus my life was changed. Who I was before that day is now part of the story I share to tell everyone how far He has brought me, how much He has changed my life.  I found value, significance, joy, and purpose beyond anything I could ever imagine.  Has life been hard since then?  Of course!  Do I still get thirsty?  Yes—but I know where to go for my living water when I feel that thirst coming on.  Jesus fills my life in ways I never imagined were possible.

42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

God has tasked me with telling my story. I hope when I do it encourages others to want to know Him more.  He has been so patient and taught me so much.  I want others to experience the freedom I have found through Him.

37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

To me, telling my story or sharing something profound that He has taught me are ways of planting seeds. I can warn others of the pain they will encounter, I can share what happened in my life when I made bad choices, and I can point them to Jesus as a better way.  I want people to “hear Him themselves”.

The bible doesn’t tell us what happened to the woman after her encounter with Jesus but I bet she changed her life the way I changed mine. I could no longer live the way the world lives.  I knew there was a better way.  It didn’t happen overnight but there comes that point in time where you have to be all in, no turning back. I know He wanted better for me—and He made me want better for myself.  I hope someday I get to meet this woman.  I can picture us running to each other, embracing one another, and jumping up and down with joy because we “met a man who told me everything I ever did!

Thank you, Lord, for showing us a better way to live. Thank you, Lord, for giving us stories of people in the bible we can relate to.  They are not perfect people who always get life right and neither are we.  But You sent us a Savior, our beloved Redeemer, who came to give us living water. Through His love, He changes lives. Because of Him, my cup runneth over and never runs dry! In His name I pray, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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

This past summer I went through my email inbox and cleaned house. Daily, the inbox was so full that if I missed a day of checking or deleting, I was overwhelmed and consumed in no time. So many things in life already vie for my attention that it seemed like I was losing my focus–and I want to be intentional in my relationships (my family and my friends right in front of my face), in my service (at home/work, at church and wherever God leads) and in my walk with the Lord (seeking him, growing closer to him, obeying him). The subscriptions were a symbolic mental hustle. I needed to pare down.

The scriptures in Jeremiah make me think on what happens when priorities get shuffled. How the Lord will speak, but a life can be so distracted or a focus otherwise engaged, that He gets put aside. Where a people pursue conflicting interests and worship other things, a merciful God calls out, “Stop!” and they can’t hear. Or worse, they burn the warning.

In James 3, controlling the tongue–and I think long on influences (what I read, what I watch, what I hear, what examples I imitate, whose advice I seek, whose company I keep) and I put these before the Lord for his guidance.

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.

A summer favorite blogger advised (against burnout by) sorting through the to-do for the essentials and then cutting out extras until there was peace. This is where I find myself, looking at the non-negotiable activities of this season and committing to those, building from there–being careful not to tip the scales in favor of burnout and hustle. For me, at least, God is harder to hear in the overwhelm.

Father God, when I read these scriptures, I see how easy it is (and how costly!) to lose sight of you, to get so far off track (preoccupied or busy) that your voice is drowned out. Lord, I put before you my thoughts, my relationships, my dreams and my actions for your guidance. Help me to discern what is good and fruitful and pleasing to you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ecclesiastes 10-12; 2 Timothy 4

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. (2 Timothy 4:1-5, NLT)

Oh, Lord, help me. So much crowds and clutters my mind, wanting my attention–help me to be intentional about the things that matter. Help me to stay focused on wholesome teaching and seeking truth so that I will be prepared. Help me to keep my mind clear in every situation.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Ezekiel 46-48; John 16

Offerings. Boundaries. Understanding.

Reading of a prince’s offering, the best of grain and animal. I think about offerings and the “best of” what I have. Who and what get my best? Where does God fit in all this? Some days, I feel really spent and have little to offer. God has been teaching me a lot about offerings and boundaries this year. And in this, I’m learning how I can offer my best and not feel exhausted or unbalanced. (This has nothing to do with over-achieving, showy super-stardom. My 8-yr-old gave me a simple example of the best of yesterday–leaving co-op, I passed through the lunchroom and wanted to say goodbye to her. She gave me the best of her in a squeezer of a hug and telling me, wide-eyed, of the important things that happened to her that morning. She gave me kisses and spoke love to me.)

Boundaries. It was no wonder that I had little to offer when I felt overbooked and overwhelmed. Old Testament reading of actual land boundaries–but that word is key to my lesson this year. Boundaries in what’s asked of me. Boundaries to protect my family time. Boundaries in relationships, especially those unhealthy ones that want to sabotage other areas of my life.

Understanding. Jesus tells the disciples that (in a little while) he’s going to leave, but that the Advocate will come.

12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ John 16:12-15, NLT.

Lord, my mind will make up all kinds of scenarios as I try to sort things out and fill in the blanks. I want to focus on what is true. I want to be mindful of the land you’ve given me–a home, family, tasks, relationships. I want to offer what you think is the best of me, and not someone else’s definition of best. Lord, please guide my steps.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 19-21; Luke 15:11-32

I suppose Saul felt threatened. People were making songs about David being better than he was. He was moody and unpredictable, Saul. One moment listening to harp music, the next throwing a spear at David’s head. One moment sending men out to kill David in his sleep. Another moment wondering why David was not at (Saul’s) table celebrating. But hatred, jealousy, insecurity, grudge–they don’t go away so easily.

Contrasted with the New Testament story of the Parable of the Lost Son: the young son takes his share of inheritance before his father is even dead and goes off to squander it. The son is eventually penniless. He probably had some time to think on his actions, at the very least, he had time to feel regret and hunger pangs as he eyed up the pigs’ portion. He returns home, humbled and repentant. He is received with mercy and forgiveness–and likely to his great surprise, welcomed with a party and fattened calf.

In one story–it’s hard to pinpoint what the offense had been. Hadn’t David just been all that he was created to be? Himself? And in another story, someone on purpose takes and wastes (a relationship, a fortune). In both stories, someone has been wronged to whatever extent. Saul, filled with contempt over competition. A father,  reduced to a dollar amount and cast aside.

I know I’ve been an offender. And I know I’ve been offended. I know what it feels like to be unforgiven. And I know what it feels like to struggle with forgiving.

One day, I stood beside a betrayer, my mind void of any plan or thought, and I said to God, “I don’t even know what grace is anymore.” The Lord infused me with a love that took me over and off guard, and I hugged (them). It was as though he said, “This is grace.”

God is bigger than my hurt. He is bigger than my struggle. He is bigger than any brokenness in me or my life. My strength is in him.

Lord, you are good and your grace, your grace, it overwhelms me. I am humbled and my heart repents. Rid it of any remnants that keep me from loving another. You are bigger than anything I face; your strength dwarfs mine (and thankfully so!). Thank you for your great love.

Courtney (66books365)

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