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2 Chronicles 22, 23; Revelation 10; Zechariah 6; John 9

What others say …

Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Ahab’s family had done. They even became his advisers after the death of his father, and they led him to ruin. 2 Chronicles 22:3-4 NLT.

What God says …

a priest brings people back under God through obedience; prophecy; rebuilding for the Lord; a blind man sees.

Sometimes the differences between the two can cause a great division of opinion.

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them. John 9:16 NLT.

People might call “treason” when the boat of familiarity and habit gets rocked. Friendships can sever when one follows the Lord and the other follows the crowd. I’ve seen this from various angles in my own life.

A few years ago I read a book by Andy Stanley called The Principle of the Path. In it, he explains how we reach a destination, not by accident, but by a series of steps taken on purpose. The end result may be far from where we planned to be when we started out, but it should come as no surprise when we examine the choices we’ve made that lead us there.

It’s always good to examine myself: who are my influences; where am I weak; what are the choices I’m making and where are they taking me (in health, in my family, in my walk with the Lord)?

Lord, help me to see, and to change. I want to be attuned to your voice.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 13, 14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3

But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom without criticizing you. But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind. Such doubters are thinking two different things at the same time, and they cannot decide about anything they do. They should not think they will receive anything from the Lord. James 1:5-8 (NCV)

As I think about the word wisdom, I am struck that wisdom is so much more than simply being intelligent. I can be educated, well-studied, but that doesn’t mean that I am wise. I can have common sense, street-smarts as it were, but it doesn’t mean that I have wisdom.

Wisdom is defined as the ability to apply knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight in a situation. It is using the education I have received through schooling and through life experience in the context of the circumstances I am living through right now. But it shouldn’t start there; it should start with a conversation with the Lord; it should start with His Living Word.

This verse in James reminds me that if I need wisdom in any situation, all I need to do is ask God and believe that He will give it to me. I need to trust that He will give me the wisdom that I require in every circumstance. He is all-knowing, all-seeing and desires to help me through all of the events of my life. He has all of the answers and is just waiting for me to ask Him for help.

David asked God, “Should I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”

The Lord answered him, “Go, I will hand them over to you.” 1 Chronicles 14:10 (NCV)

Soon the Philistines attacked the people in the valley again. David prayed to God again, and God answered him, saying, “Don’t attack the Philistines from the front. Instead, go around them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then attack. I, God, will have gone out before you to defeat the Philistine army.” David did as God commanded, and he and his men defeated the Philistine army all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. 1 Chronicles 14:13-16 (NCV)

Throughout David’s life, he consistently looked to God for wisdom and God gave it to him. He asked God for help. He asked God what he should do, what steps he should take. And, when he asked, God gave him instructions, detailed directives in everything, from how to slay Goliath when he was a youth to how to bring the Ark of God to Jerusalem after he became king. Repeatedly, David asked for wisdom in how to defeat the Philistines in battle, and God never failed to share with him the way to gain victory over Israel’s enemy.

In Luke, as John the Baptizer began paving the way for Christ, he brought conviction to the hearts of the people. As John preached about changed hearts and lives for the forgiveness of sins, the people began looking to him for answers. They asked him, “What should we do?” and because of His dedication to God, he was able to give them godly counsel to demonstrate their transformation.

The Lord God says: “The days are coming

when I will cause a time of hunger in the land.

The people will not be hungry for bread or thirsty for water,

but they will be hungry for words from the Lord. Amos 8:11 (NCV)

In Proverbs it shares that ONLY God gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. I can look to a book, to education, or to another person, but the One who IS Wisdom, is the only one who can impart strategic wisdom for my specific situation. And I can receive that wisdom by asking Him and then listening to and obeying His response.

As I remember to look to God first for wisdom in every aspect of my life, He will help me apply the earthly knowledge that I have by giving me better understanding of the state of affairs by giving me directions, by guiding me in each step I need to take.

Yesappa, Thank You for providing for ALL of my needs, especially my need for Your wisdom for the various circumstances of my life. Lord, I ask for wisdom in what steps to take in managing my home well. I ask for wisdom in my relationship with my husband, my marriage. I ask for wisdom in parenting my children. I ask for wisdom to help me survive and thrive each day, to not feel overwhelmed in the day to day of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Judg.11:12-40; Acts 15; Jer. 24; Mark 10

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”  Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.  They had such a disagreement that they parted company.   Acts 15:36-39a

Why would Luke record this uncomfortable, and perhaps unflattering, episode?  Undoubtedly, part of the reason is that Luke is a historian who takes seriously his responsibility to accurately report facts.  But on a different level, I suspect that the purpose of this passage is to teach me something.   Here are a couple of insights I have picked up as I have pondered the meaning of these verses:

1) There is room for honest disagreement within the body of Christ.
No evidence suggests that the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas was between “right” and “wrong”.  In fact, Paul later comments about the value of Mark in his ministry and requests that Mark be brought to him (2 Tim 4:11).   We know Paul’s path bore fruit from the continuing account of Acts after this episode.  It certainly sounds like the path chosen by Barnabas and Mark also bore fruit.  Honest disagreement between two mature believers resulted in both still effectively serving God.

2) God accomplishes his purposes through different types of people.
The disagreement between Paul and Barnabas appears to be rooted in differing priorities.  Paul valued his mission too greatly to risk it by including someone (Mark) who had let him down previously.  We learn throughout Acts that Paul was always task-oriented, sticking to the plan, whether the plan was to round-up and imprison believers (as he did before his conversion) or preach the Gospel to Gentiles.   Barnabas valued Mark and his continuing development too greatly to abandon him at this time.   As a matter of fact, when we first are introduced to Barnabas we learn that his name means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).  The kingdom of God has room for both task-oriented and people-oriented personalities.

A recent disagreement I had with another believer that resulted in “parting company” highlights my struggle in learning these lessons.  I am ashamed to say that part of me screamed out for vindication.  I wanted the world to see that my position was right and the position of the other party was wrong.  Paul’s example, by reconciling with Mark and affirming his value in spite of their earlier disagreement, is an example for me.

Lord, may I be more like Paul in his humility.  Strip me of the pride that requires me to be “right” all the time.  And may I be more like Barnabas.   Help me to be a “son of encouragement”, especially given my tendency to place the value of the mission above the value of your children.  Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

from the archives, July 28, 2010

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Joshua 11; Psalms 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

Jesus answered, “Surely you have read in the Scriptures: When God made the world, ‘he made them male and female.’ And God said, ‘So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body.’ So there are not two, but one. God has joined the two together, so no one should separate them.” Matthew 19:4-6 (NCV)

This verse resonated with me so much today – the verses Jesus chose to repeat concerning marriage…the two will become one, a joining made by God.

After being apart for a year, my husband and I were reunited this week. More than 24 hours of travel over half of the world towing two children, eight pieces of luggage, two carry-ons, two personal items, two car seats and a double stroller; I felt a little bit like Noah, but my ‘ark’ was an airplane. It was brutal, and yet as I saw my husband’s face, the reactions of seeing his youngest daughter for the first time and hearing his oldest say, ‘There’s Daddo’ and offer up hugs and kisses, the journey to be reunited was  worth every moment. My anxieties dissolved in those moments of reconnect.

So far over these past two days, as we have been readjusting to the time difference, the heat, the food, the cultural differences, etc., God has been supernaturally rejoining us together as husband and wife and as family. He has helped me understand more fully how the miracle of His joining us can withstand so much as long as He is our focus. Our joining has withstood more time apart than together, and yet despite the distances, our spirits have never been apart.

This joining is much like the link between me and Christ – a connection that will never be broken even when the circumstances of life try to separate us. When Jesus died for my sins and I made the choice to believe, an unbreakable bond was formed. We are no longer two, but one – He in me, and I in Him.

Yesappa, Thank You for becoming one with me. Thank You for joining my husband and I together and keeping us connected even when we have been separated by a half a world. Thank You for reuniting us and for blessing our union. I pray for your continued guidance, wisdom, grace, and love in our marriage, that our marriage will be a testimony for Your glory and goodness. Let no one separate us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Isaiah 26,27; Ephesians 6

From the archives, March 26, 2010.

I have really struggled with some relationships. I am taken off guard when someone inflicts emotional pain. I scratch my head over cold hearts. Tend to wounds over hurt feelings. Imagine the worst of someone as if they are the embodiment of evil:  plotting, unkind, cruel.

I have asked aloud and of others, “Who is my neighbor? Who is my enemy?” Sometimes it’s hard to tell when an attack comes from a coworker, a stranger, or an old “friend” on Facebook. When callous conflict comes from a relative, a confidant, even a sister in Christ, I wonder are you friend or foe?

Until today.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

Today when I wondered about neighbors and enemies, I thought of the faces on each “team” and realized, as I have before, that God loves every one of them. Today, when I considered my list of grievances, I also thought of the list someone may be holding against me. Today, what was different about this inner dialog was that I discovered my enemy is not flesh and blood.

Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” not because his disciple had morphed into the devil. The next time I try to put a face on my opponent, I need to stop and put on the armor of God. The enemy will use anyone to further his cause. Even a Christ follower.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 23, 24; Mark 10:32-52

Would you rather have a relationship or rules?

The thing about a relationship is they take work; whether marriage, family, or friends, there’s give and take.  They take effort and caring about someone else’s needs, often times above your own.  Rules, on the other hand, just take one thing: obedience.  You don’t have to care about the person or thing you are following.  The only “work” involved in rules is following them.  But is following rules the only thing you want out of life, or do you want more?

God wants more; that’s why He created human beings—others to be in a relationship with Him.  He didn’t want a bunch of “yes-men.”  He wanted people who would love Him and love nothing more than having relationship with Him.  But when we turn down the chance for a relationship with God, all we’re left with are rules.  That became very clear to me in reading Leviticus 23.  I discovered that their choosing rules over relationship demanded they live ceremonious lifestyles at least 118 days per year.  And where does the relationship come in, you ask?  With Jesus.

Jesus asked the blind man calling out to Him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51).  Now, it seems pretty obvious to most readers that if he was blind, he was looking for sight.  But that’s not what Jesus meant.  When we call out to Him, Jesus asks each one of us, “What do you want me to do for you?  In other words, “Are you seeking a relationship with me, or only what I can do for you?”

Throughout the week, we need to ask ourselves: Am I seeking out the Lord only for what He can do for me or for a true relationship?

HeatherPotts5

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2 Kings 8, 1 Timothy 5, Daniel 12, Psalm 119:49-72

Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. Daniel 12:10

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

Teach me knowledge and good judgment for believing your commands. Psalm 119:66

God used family problems this week  to refine and purify my actions.  Initially I fixated on my sister’s culpability. After all she did curse at me. Certainly I was above reproach. (Ha!) Then the Scriptures opened my eyes to how my own behavior contributed to the situation.

In constantly trying to rescue her from her problems we as a family had robbed her of the ability to cope on her own. In turn I had denied myself the opportunity of receiving assistance from her.

The best One to judge everything is the One who is in control. Had we inquired of God  first perhaps things would not be so out of control now. Yet I praise Him for showing me that there are better ways to handle challenges than the way we have always done.

Father, You put me in frustrating situations time after time to help me grow. Thank you for teaching me how to respond to others to create more healthy balanced relationships. Thank you for your mercies new every morning.

yicareggie

 

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