Tag Archives: safety

Leviticus 5; Psalm 3,4; Proverbs 20; Colosians 3

His question has stuck with me all week: “If you didn’t have (this problem), what would be left?” He named the word he chose (it was love) and suggested other words other people chose, but the word that came immediately to mind for me was peace.

I thought on times when I felt deadline pressures, relationship struggles, and fearful anticipation of lab results. I thought on times the bills overwhelmed and resources were slim. I thought about what felt like endless tasks that would never be completed. In any of those circumstances, if I didn’t have that problem to focus on, what would be left? What if I focused on what remained instead? What if I focused on peace?

There was a season where I was paralyzed by anxiety. I used to create milestones to peace–if I just get (here) or just do (this) or just call (them), then everything will be ok. But the Lord spoke to me undeniably and told me, “There is no safe place. I am your safe place.”

Answer me when I call to you,
    O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
    Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation?
    How long will you make groundless accusations?
    How long will you continue your lies? Interlude
You can be sure of this:
    The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
    The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
    Think about it overnight and remain silent.
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
    and trust the Lord.

Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
    Let your face smile on us, Lord.
You have given me greater joy
    than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
(Psalm 4, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, when I take my eyes off of you, my peace leaves. But when I keep my focus on you, I can walk through troubles. You may not take the storm away, but you take me through the storm. You give me great joy and sweet peace so that I can lie down and rest. You alone, Lord, will keep me safe. Nothing can separate me from your love.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 6-8; 1 John 1

Perhaps in today’s terms, he’d be authentic, vulnerable, transparent.

If my misery could be weighed
    and my troubles be put on the scales,
they would outweigh all the sands of the sea.
    That is why I spoke impulsively. (Job 6:2-3, NLT, in response to Eliphaz)

But his unlovely grappling with the tragedies in his life brought him criticism and condemnation instead of comfort or understanding–from his very own friends.

One should be kind to a fainting friend,
    but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.
15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook
    that overflows its banks in the spring
16     when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.
17 But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears.
    The brook vanishes in the heat. (Job 6:14-17, NLT)

Job wades through turmoil. His successful, stable life and faith are scrambled by unimaginable tragedy. Whether his friends’ words were intended to help or harm, they certainly provided no comfort (think memes). He is in a pit, and whether they knew it or not, their words sparked a new burden.

I can replay his experience by rereading a passage, but in real time, real life, one often does not have the luxury to hit pause to contemplate life’s facets. In real time, replay takes place in memory and dreams, either bringing resolution or torment.

I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
    long and weary nights of misery.
Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’ (Job 7:3-4, NLT)

I think on loss, disappointment, grief, anger, hurt. I think of relationships where I’ve shared things in vulnerability and authenticity (really heartache), places I thought were ones of safety, but ultimately were not. And in that pit, the weight of loss, disappointment, grief, anger and hurt are the kindling that embitters sins of resentment, unforgiveness, grudge.

It was a recurring message in books I’d read last year: No one is coming to save you.

I realized I expected friends I considered near to rally around and help me out of the pit. But the truth is, they never said they would or could. No wonder I felt alone when I was grasping the vapor belief/hope that they should.

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:5-10, NLT)

God is light, and I’m grateful for the intimacy I have with him through prayer and His Word. He is my safe place. He meets me in the ugly, scrambled spaces and speaks with clarity and gentleness–oh that I can hide his word in my heart so that I would not sin against him. Feelings let me know something is wrong–but left untended, they can become agitated and enflamed to sin. Do not be deceived. Offense and expectation have no cap on captives. Freeing others from unexpressed expectations freed me from sins of bitterness, resentment and anger. It also gave me newly found freedom to delight and invest my heart and time in more fruitful pursuits.

Courtney (66books365)

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Daniel 7-9; Psalm 91; John 19

Psalm 91 (ICB), a well loved and oft repeated psalm of refuge and protection throughout the centuries, one I have spent many a struggle professing; because sometimes it’s important to be reminded that I have a protector that can be trusted and that I am not alone:

1Those who go to God Most High for safety

will be protected by God All-Powerful.

2I will say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety and protection.

You are my God, and I trust you.”

Yesappa, I trust you. You are faithful. You are full of power. You are above all. Even in the midst of danger and trials, you can be counted on to protect me as your beloved child.

3God will save you from hidden traps

and from deadly diseases.

4He will protect you like a bird

spreading its wings over its young.

His truth will be like your armor and shield.

You outstretch Your massive arms over me acting as my covering. My Savior and Giver of Truth rescue me from that which seeks to trap and destroy me. Be my armor. Be my shield in the midst of my trials.

5You will not fear any danger by night

or an arrow during the day.

6You will not be afraid of diseases that come in the dark

or sickness that strikes at noon.

Make me brave and give me courage to face the dangers that come into my life by day and by night. Remove fear that tries to control me. Remove sin that tries to defeat me. Remove illness that tries to snuff my life.

7At your side 1,000 people may die,

or even 10,000 right beside you.

But you will not be hurt.

8You will only watch what happens.

You will see the wicked punished.

It doesn’t matter what happens around me, the destruction, the despair. My focus is on You. My understanding acknowledges Your judgement and rejoices at Your redemption, Your grace, Your mercy as I turn toward You, as I look at Your face.

9The Lord is your protection.

You have made God Most High your place of safety.

10Nothing bad will happen to you.

No disaster will come to your home.

11He has put his angels in charge of you.

They will watch over you wherever you go.

12They will catch you with their hands.

And you will not hit your foot on a rock.

13You will walk on lions and cobras.

You will step on strong lions and snakes.

I can walk without fear into the scariest of situations, the most dangerous circumstances and I am assured of Your care for me. I can be certain that You will never leave me nor forsake me. I can be firm in my belief that Your arms are a place of strength and safety.

14The Lord says, “If someone loves me, I will save him.

I will protect those who know me.

15They will call to me, and I will answer them.

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue them and honor them.

16I will give them a long, full life.

They will see how I can save.”

I love You Lord and I know that You Love me more than I can ever imagine. I call to You for help and You are there. You listen to my prayers. You give me answers, solutions to my problems. You put Your hedge around me, enveloping me in Your arms. You strengthen me. You encourage me. You give me life.

Thank You for being my refuge and my fortress. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings,

Julie (juliet2912)

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Ezekiel 28-30; John 10

Kingdoms set up, taunting enemies around God’s treasured. One is puffed up pride. Another a greedy giant. A third, talons-out taunter. These were kingdoms with rulers and boundaries and armies, but a reduction to basic elements gets to roots–things that set themselves against God.

Boasting bullies of pride, greed, hate. Sins that steal and kill and destroy.

26 They will live safely in Israel and build homes and plant vineyards. And when I punish the neighboring nations that treated them with contempt, they will know that I am the Lord their God.” Ezekiel 28:26, NLT.

They will know the mighty and just hand of God.

They will know his voice.

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” (John 10:6-16, NLT)

Mighty God, you fight for your treasured people when we are unable to fight these big battles ourselves. Lord, let me lean into you and listen closely to your voice. Oh, how you love us.

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.” (John 10:25-30, NLT)

Grateful for the safety in your hands.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 25; Psalm 68; Isaiah 15; 1 Peter 3

I ran into a church friend in a parking lot yesterday. I love the deeper bonds I experience with sisters in Christ, that after the hellos and hugs were given, our conversation could go to a much deeper place–and it didn’t seem odd or inappropriate to reveal hearts and hurts to one another. We talked about family.

Lately, thoughts on family and home have been top of mind. My husband and I talked about how we were raised, and how teachings were passed down to us, shaping how we handle conflicts or other issues. We could laugh at some things–like my father-in-law’s firey courage, but other things caused a somber reflection. What values do I want to perpetuate? What things need to stop here?

When I think of family or home, it is described by words like welcome, safe, loved, included. And yet, these are not the words I would use to describe where I came from. They’re what I wanted for myself, and what I want for my children (or anyone who enters my house). And I wonder, if we are to live in but not of the world: Shouldn’t home feel holy? Set apart from the world?

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
    this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
    he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. Psalm 68:5-6 NLT

First Peter 3 is where I linger today, with thoughts on family laid out before me. He advises the wife on godliness and beauty; and the husband on how to honor her. This, for all of us:

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. 10 For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
    and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
    and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
    against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:8-12 NLT

In a bloodline divided, to love like brothers and sisters seemed foreign to me. But God shows me what love looks like, through his own for me, and through sisters and brothers in Christ who know and show love. He puts this lonely one into a bigger, broader community of family. Isn’t this what he wants (for all of us): Unity? Love?

I want that too.

It’s all a work in progress, but I’m so thankful to have God’s Word to guide me. Home, set apart–not an idol or a realm of perfection, but a model of love and forgiveness–where we are not cast aside for our imperfection and brokenness, but spurred by one another, tenderly and humbly.

I asked my kids what words they would use to describe home … I heard things like safe, protected (from my 10 year old) and happy (from my 6 year old). We talked about ways we can live and choices we need to make.

Father God, I’m grateful for this life tapestry you’ve woven–how sisters enter my life to encourage and show me by example how to follow you better. I’m grateful to call you Father–and to know you love me, that I can trust you, and you will not forsake me. I am your child, and you live in me. What love you have lavished upon me. I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a mother–help me, Lord, daily, to follow your call. Thanks (always!) for your patience and guidance.

Courtney (66books365)

Listening to Matthew West’s song, Hello My Name Is

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