Tag Archives: reverence

2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 17; Psalm 66; 1 Corinthians 7

When I think of worship, I think of song. But worship is more than that, isn’t it? Judah, Israel, the surrounding nations, all of them were guilty of turning from the Lord and worshiping something else. They installed their idols in shrines and altars. They offered sacrifices to idols. So worshiping is more than just singing to something–it’s giving it a place of honor; consulting and trusting in it for needs, favor, salvation; placing all hope in it; giving offerings/making sacrifices to it; revering it; talking about it. In all, worship is giving something/someone a place of honor, and power, over us.

22 Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23, NLT)

King Ahaz rejected the Lord, even in his times of trouble. He gave honor and power to something else, which led to his ruin. And it led to the ruin of his nation.

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings. (2 Kings 17:7-12, NLT)

The Israelites put in great effort and attention to worship other gods and idols. They were intentional. When I read this passage from 2 Kings 17, they were busy and active pursuing practices of other nations, as well as funding and building things to revere in place of the Lord.

The Lord sends a message through prophets and seers–he persists to turn them from their sin. Like a parent warning a child of imminent danger: “Don’t do that!” The warnings go ignored.

14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger. (2 Kings 17:14-17, NLT)

It’s easy for me to point to the leaders of these nations for setting a dangerous course. Leaders do carry responsibility. And leaders are accountable for their actions.

But so am I.

Lord, help make it clear to me who I follow, where I put my trust and hope, what or who I’ve given power to. And if it’s not you, help me to see my error and correct my way. I cannot imagine a better life or truer calling apart from you. Thank you for your persistent love.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 11; Philippians 2; Ezekiel 41; Psalms 92, 93

I visited my sister when I was in college. Her husband was military, and they lived on base. She had a neighbor named Renee, and while I was there, Renee would pop over in the mornings, walk right through the kitchen door, pour herself a mug of coffee, and chat with my sister and me at the table. This image took root and life in my mind–and I have been looking for my own Renee ever since.

One day, my sister’s Renee was gone. It’s not just specific to military life–nearly every life is transient. A move. A job change. A church change. A school change. A season may be beautiful, fruitful and sweet, but that in itself won’t make it last forever. Illness, crisis, attitude and interest are all elements that can affect another’s ability to be present. (My mother died from breast cancer, and when my friend Doris was diagnosed, I didn’t know what to say to her–and I was regrettably disappointed in myself because I thought that I should know.)

When I glanced the scriptures earlier this week, thoughts of loyalty, strength and endurance came to mind. But when I read more closely, I also see disappointment, limitations, distractions and weakness.

Solomon, a wise man, a king, was not exempt.

The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. (1 Kings 11:2-3, NLT)

Paul served the Lord wholeheartedly, but not everyone on the mission field shared his vision.

20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:20-21, NLT)

Lord, you are gentle and kind. You know my heart. You lovingly unfurl my fingers from the grip I have on the way I think things should be, and you show me grace. You show me humility. You are my forever friend. You will never forsake me. You are eager to meet me when I seek you. You sit with me at this table today, and together we can examine what really matters.

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. (Philippians 2:12-16, NLT)

Help me to mature in the woman you want me to be.

Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever. (Psalm 93:5b, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; Matthew 5

Solomon had it all–he was powerful, wealthy, intelligent. The Queen of Sheba pays him a visit, and she is wowed by all she sees–all that she’s heard about Solomon is true. But despite all that, he was living in a deficit, a weakness and drain he either didn’t seem to notice or didn’t take seriously.

The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.

In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been.

The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command (1 Kings 11:2-4, 9-10, NLT, emphasis added).

Solomon was a very smart man, but how did he get this so wrong? His father was DAVID. Maybe he didn’t think some rules applied to him. Maybe he didn’t really consider the consequences of his actions–it was in the name of love after all.

Self, take warning. Guard your heart. What places in my life have I not taken seriously that the Lord wants me to guard and submit to him?

In the New Testament reading, Jesus has a lot to say about the law, anger, adultery, divorce, vows, revenge, and love for enemies. Actions are birthed from thought, and thought provokes a choice.

28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28, NLT).

He knows the power of the heart. He knows how small choices of disobedience can take one so far off course, leading away from God instead of closer to Him.

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 (Matthew 5:13, NLT).”

God has always given people choice. And thankfully, with that choice, He has also given guidance and warning because He is a loving father. The warning He gave to Israel was for the nation and for the individual. Jesus speaks to the body of believers: A word not just for a time, but for all time; a word not just for a body but every body.

Lord, I’m thankful for how much you love me. You are a father who loves and leads. I don’t want to take your word as a broad guideline for mankind, but as a tender counsel for my very heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 3 & 4, Nahum 2, Luke 18, 1 John 3

Awe:

noun

an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is
grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.
I have recently come to realize how under-inspired I have become. I have lost my sense of awe of the Creator of the universe. When the day to day life becomes mundane and boring, crazy and chaotic, I tend to take my relationship with the Lord for granted. When I am far from him, I forget the beauty of his splendor.
Out of fear and reverence of the Lord, King Solomon not only built the history Temple but he spared no expensive. The temple Solomon built was not built out of pride for what he could afford or what he would be able to show off to the people around him like so many other Kings would have done, it was built out of sheer awe!
Back in 2 Chronicles 2 Solomon said,
“5 The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? 7″
Solomon didn’t take the left over money in his bank account to build the walls of the temple. He didn’t simply hire someone to make the plans and take care of the details. Out of reverence and honor, Solomon took his time and spared no expense. Bronze, silver and gold metals, rare wood materials and large fountains were all engineered and commissioned by skilled workmen brought from the east and the west. Solomon stopped at nothing to attempt to build a temple that would be adequate to hosue the Ark of the Covenant, the home of the Lord all while knowing nothing would ever really be good enough.
19 So Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of God: the golden altar, the tables for the bread of the Presence, 20 the lampstands and their lamps of pure gold to burn before the inner sanctuary, as prescribed; 21 the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs, of purest gold;22 the snuffers, basins, dishes for incense, and fire pans, of pure gold, and the sockets[f] of the temple, for the inner doors to the Most Holy Place and for the doors of the nave of the temple were of gold. 2 Chronicles 4:19-22
Even reading the scriptures of Solomon’s temple I take for granted how beautiful and huge this temple was. My husband is a general contractor and works in the field of civil engineering. He cannot even fathom the logistics of how this was built let alone how the obtained the materials and afforded it. The details literally boggle the mind. And what boggles my mind even more is that it all started with Solomon’s fear and reverence for the Lord. He loved the Lord God so much that this was the outpouring of his heart.
So, I must ask myself this question. Do I live in fear and reverence of the Lord God Almighty who created the heavens and earth? Do I worship him in spirit in truth to express the awe that is within my heart? Do I stop at nothing to share that with others? I have a long way to go and am thankful that the Lord is gracious and merciful because often my answer to these questions is “no”.
Thank you, Father, for your incredible love, grace and mercy to me. O, Lord, You are great and greatly to be praised. There are not enough words to praise you and as Solomon said, who is able to build you a house since even the highest heaven cannot contain you. I stand in awe of you, Lord. Amen.
temple

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Nehemiah 7, 8, 9; Revelation 18

I think a lot of people do this: look back over the year and remember the things that happened. Make resolutions to be different going forward, the clean slate of a new year. A fresh start.

In Nehemiah, the people who are gathered together listen as Ezra reads the words of God to them.

So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law. Nehemiah 8:2-3 NLT.

And there is weeping. Conviction. When faced with the law, they see how far they are from what God wanted for them.

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” 12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them. Nehemiah 8:9-12.

There is something about being in God’s Word that changes a heart. For me, it has sparked renewal and produced great joy–the presence of the Lord–words written by holy inspiration, here in my hands. My journey through these 66 books has brought me closer to God than I ever imagined, how he has changed my heart, by Word and whisper–more than any list I’ve resolved to do. Still, looking back over a year, I do want to take an honest account of my shortcomings, repent of sin, and pray that going forward, God will continue to meet me where I am in my walk. As in Nehemiah, they praise the Lord of all the things he has done for them–and I should too.

 And you have done what you promised, for you are always true to your word. Nehemiah 9:8b.

I think of the days when the world spoke to me and I followed it, prioritizing earthly things over a heavenly kingdom. But he has shown me a different way.

Come away from her, my people.
Do not take part in her sins,
or you will be punished with her. Revelation 18:4

Father, thank you for your word in my hands, for this community who hungers for you and follows you, for your whispers to my heart and the change you’ve made in my life. Thank you for making a way that we are together another year, for the friendships forged and founded in you. You have blessed me in ways I never imagined, and I am grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Nehemiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation