Tag Archives: resilience

Acts 19-20

I keep reading about boldness.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Acts 19:9-10, NIV, emphasis added

Paul’s life shows me what it looks like: Boldness. Intention. Purpose. Movement. I take note that he spoke, and when he met with resistance, he just moved on. He wanted to reach as many people as he could.

When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia.

Acts 20:1-3, NIV, emphasis added

The uproar was that what Paul was teaching threatened the business of an idol maker and reputation of Artemis. Paul’s faith and message left a reaction and a wake wherever he went. (In chapter 19, I note this as well. Look:

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

Acts 19:13-16, NIV, emphasis added

Did these men get beaten because they were working on Paul’s faith and not their own?)

I notice his commitment and use of time.

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

He knows it won’t be an easy road for him. What he says is packed with perspective and purpose.

17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Acts 20:17-24, NIV, emphasis added

And he knows that when he leaves, someone will want to follow after him and undo his efforts. He warns again, even after doing so for three years

27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Acts 20:27-32, NIV, emphasis added

Lord, there is so much to learn here about faith, perseverance, intention, commitment, and purpose. When I think of Paul, it’s what I know of him through Scripture. I think of faith, boldness, and resilience. He knew and didn’t know what lay ahead of him, but he trusted you. Lord, I don’t want to be like the men who may have wanted to walk in faith, but walked in the faith of someone else. Help me to remember the times you built my strength through pressure and testing–God, you are always with me. This was such a rich reading and has me thinking long on challenges, effort and faith. Help me to steward my responsibilities wisely.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joel 2:18-3:21; Amos 1-4

Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.

Joel 2:18, NIV

I read of God’s jealousy and mercy. Other verses that follow in this reading hold special meaning to me, but this start grabs my attention. It ignites an old memory of when we were in our first small group, and began to read a part of the Bible. The group leader asked me what I had learned about God in the reading, and I said, “He is jealous.”

I read today of all the ways he tries to get Israel’s attention:

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city
    and lack of bread in every town,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“I also withheld rain from you
    when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
    but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
    another had none and dried up.
People staggered from town to town for water
    but did not get enough to drink,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
    destroying them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

10 “I sent plagues among you
    as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
    along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

Amos 4:6-10, NIV

Lord, you call me close to you again and again. You feed me encouragement from others and underscore your love in your word. Like a teacher getting through to a student, you get my attention to tell me: this is important. I listen. I refocus. I remember the verses you’ve given me, and highlight the words you’ve given me in this season. You formed the mountains, created the wind, revealed your thoughts to mankind. You turn dawn to darkness, and tread on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is your name.

Courtney (66books365)

He who forms the mountains,
    who creates the wind,
    and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
    and treads on the heights of the earth—
    the Lord God Almighty is his name.

Amos 4:13, NIV

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Psalms 37:27-39:13

Psalm 38. A psalm of David. A petition. That is the heading that precedes the verses. The psalm is an acknowledgement of sin. The physical and emotional descriptions that follow underscore to me that sin is death.

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
    there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
    like a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
    there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart. (Psalm 38:1-8, NIV)

As I continued to read, I became curious about the circumstances of the psalm. I did a quick search. A preview of one link held this: “David Guzik commentary on Psalm 38 describes the only hope a sinner has, who has been forsaken by friends and hunted by enemies: God.”

The only hope.

21 Lord, do not forsake me;
    do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
    my Lord and my Savior. (Psalm 38:21-22, NIV)

The only hope at all.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40, NIV)

I’m reading a book called Resilience by Eric Greitens and just finished a section about praying. “I can’t tell anyone else how to pray, but I find myself praying more when things are harder. I also find myself drinking water more when I am thirsty, and eating more when I am hungry, and sleeping more when I am tired. And I’ve finally begun to accept that if I pray more when I am troubled, that’s just as natural.” (191)

Lord, I’m grateful that my prayers reach you. And just like water to quench a thirst, or food to nourish and strengthen, when I am troubled (or any time), I can call to you and it is just as natural.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ruth 3,4; Acts 28; Jeremiah 38; Psalms 11,12

I’m finishing up listening to an audio version of a book called 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz (not paid or otherwise compensated to mention this book). A friend recommended it at large, and I tucked it away for someday. While I’m not sure how the title came back into my sight line, I can say that several times this year, there have been things I wanted to quit (and things I didn’t want to quit but thought I might have to because this pace is wearing me too thin). I decided to give the book a listening to. In it, Koziarz discusses Ruth.

Today, in Ruth 3 and 4, I read the conclusion of (Ruth’s) story, where her kinsman redeemer marries her, joy is restored, and she is part of royal lineage–and all because she made the choice not to quit. She exhibits strength, loyalty, faith, perseverance, patience, and trust.

And what doesn’t Paul go through in Acts? In this chapter, he’s warming himself by a fire after a shipwreck. He’s bitten by a poisonous snake and survives. After months, he continues on his journey to Rome.

30 For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, 31 boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him. (Acts 28:30-31, NLT)

He persevered too, and not in a roll-with-the-punches sort of way: he boldly proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord. He was resilient and focused.

Jeremiah’s unpopular message made him a traitor to be lowered into a cistern and left for dead. But that wasn’t where his story stopped. Though he couldn’t climb out in his own strength, he was raised out of the cistern because of the petitions of an important court official. Jeremiah’s message didn’t change–surrender or else. A tough job.

15 Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.” (Jeremiah 38:15, NLT)

He didn’t quit.

In the psalms, encouragement still (emphasis mine). Don’t quit.

I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
    “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;
    the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
    examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. (Psalm 11:1, 4-5, NLT)

And

The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land. (Psalm 12:6-8, NLT)

Maybe one day the things I’m going through won’t seem so big-hairy-scary-heavy. Maybe one day I’ll look back and laugh at what I thought was difficult. In real time, the things are big and heavy and difficult. And yesterday, I was looking to quit.

Thank you, Lord, for all that you are teaching me about who you are and what you can do. Thank you for showing me that character is developed through trials, and perseverance is built one day at a time. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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