Tag Archives: shame

Job 8-11; Revelation 12

Human suffering is wrong. We are not made for it and yet it is a tangible reminder that things are not right with the world and points to something, someone beyond our understanding…God.  The unwelcome twins, Grief and Pain settle in with Job and refuse to leave. It’s a full body-mind assault 24/7 and brings him to the very edge of life. Even his wife begs him to put an end to his suffering, “Curse God and die,” but he can’t. His belief that God hears his pleas and is somehow good and just beyond his meager understanding serves as the thin thread that keeps him hanging on.

Job can not look to his righteousness and intellect to save him, “But how can a mortal be righteous before God? Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?” Job 9:2-4.

 The God who created the universe and continues to provide life and breath withholds healing. Job may feel a million miles away from God, but that doesn’t change the reality of His existence: “When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.” Job 9:11.

 But then Job asks, if not prays, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it is now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9:33-35.

Job’s seemingly rhetorical questions prove to be prophetic. The great arbitrator, the Messiah comes and takes on the curse intended for all mankind. I don’t have to suffer the consequences of my sin. Jesus goes to the Cross and his Resurrection breaks the power of sin and death over us. Once a stranger,  I am invited into the very presence of God having been made clean by the righteousness of Jesus.

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down.” Revelation 12:10.

 The evil spell is broken. In this world, I will know pain, grief and sorrow, but because I hold on to Jesus, I will never be separated from God. He endured that separation, so I would never have to. I am always invited, always welcomed into God’s presence. Short and sweet, God wins.

Dear Father,  thank you there is so much more to life than what I see and understand. Thank you, Jesus for taking up my sin and shame and making me whole so that I am learning what it means to enjoy the Father’s presence. Let suffering and pain remind me that I am made for your Kingdom. Today Holy Spirit, with my feet firmly planted in this world, show me how to live as a citizen of your country, under your authority and free from the accusations of the enemy. Your word is the last word and stands forever. Amen

 Kathy

 

 

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Job, Revelation, Uncategorized

Isaiah 59-61; 1 Thessalonians 4

lemon birthday cakeWe celebrated my oldest daughter’s twelfth birthday last night with lemon cake (so yummy that everyone wanted a second piece). The kids took off, sufficiently sweetened, and played. My husband and I sat at the table. A discussion on happiness ensued. And he’s either a patient man or a forgetful one, but he listened to me, as he has for years, tell the story of shame and God’s redeeming, restoring faithfulness.

I’ve heard snippets of these verses before, spoken to me or others in trial and mourning. In context, they were spoken in a different time, to a different people facing very different circumstances. Yet these very words are ones of hope and comfort to generations after–how can we grab hold of messages meant for others?

I told a friend once about a scripture in Deuteronomy that I felt was like a love note slipped to me by a Savior. I was timid to accept it, could I really be so bold to apply the promise to myself? How did I fit in that context?

“I wouldn’t put God in a box,” he said. “Who can know how God will use his Word?”

Living and active.

To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3, NLT

For his own glory.

Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7, NLT

My husband and I sat and talked about happiness and shame and freedom. My chest felt tight from emotion and gratitude for the journey. This morning I read these words, spoken to a different people in a different time and out of context of my own life. But I sort of wonder if I hear the Lord saying, “See, I told you so.”

Ashes exchanged for a crown. Shame replaced by honor. For his own glory–because he is that big.

Thank you, Father.

Courtney (66books365)

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Leviticus 15-17; Matthew 27:1-31

“… for the life of the body is in its blood.” Leviticus 17:11a NLT.

Leviticus 17 speaks against consuming blood, and instructs the way to offer a sacrifice.

“I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” Leviticus 17:11b NLT.

Instructions for the native Israelite and the foreigner living among them who goes hunting and kills an animal or bird that is approved for eating, he must drain its blood and cover it with earth. 14 The life of every creature is in its blood. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood, for the life of any creature is in its blood.’” Leviticus 17:13-14 NLT.

This is the image, blood poured out upon a field, that stays with me when I read Matthew.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”

 

Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.

 

The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,

“They took the thirty pieces of silver—
    the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
10 and purchased the potter’s field,
    as the Lord directed.” Matthew 27:3-10 NLT

Judas is weighted down with remorse at the realization of his betrayal. It is a guilt he cannot carry, and a pardon no man can issue. The leading priests and elders had no desire to help him.

“What do we care?” they say.

“That’s your problem,” they say.

The money purchases a cemetery for foreigners, this field of blood, blood where life is found. With the distinction of native and foreigner in Leviticus, and the cemetery for foreigners purchased with blood money in Matthew, the way is laid out–a way for everyone who believes that Jesus died for their sins.

Father, no ordinary man can take away the guilt or shame of my sin. Left with this burden, I would also be weighted to hopelessness. Even in my beginning years as a Christian, I couldn’t grasp freedom from the burden, just a growing shame of my humanity. How I recognized my need for a savior. Only the blood of your son could take away my sin, make a way for life (now and eternally), and make purification possible. It is time in your word that tells me again and again of your great love. When the world is quick to condemn and leave me weighted down by my imperfections, mistakes and sins–you don’t give up on me, your mercies new every day, your faithful love unending. I am grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

2 Kings 20; Hebrews 2; Hosea 13; Psalm 137, 138

The years of the Sometime-Struggle were a slow descent into depression. It was a constant and tiresome treading to keep my head up. At times, it sapped my energy and my hope. It chipped away at dignity. An enemy placed a sign on my back I couldn’t read, but I could feel it there. It was hurtful and heavy; it grew heavier over time.

When I talked to a seasoned Christian about my trial, she said, “Think of all the suffering Jesus went through. He was beaten and mocked.” Her response did not help me, though I would not have dared to say such a thing. I was probably a Christian for fifteen years at that point, but I had no real understanding of the person of Jesus Christ outside of my salvation. Rooted in rocky soil, I was withering.

I tried to work out the equation: Jesus suffered = I should be able to suck this up (x guilt at still feeling powerless)/there are worse things in the world.

The conclusion was always the same: FAIL.

I picked up my Bible five years ago, and God met me right where I was. These years of pursuing God showed me he has actually been pursuing me.

God moved us here a couple years ago. One day, I met a woman while she was working in her yard. In that first meeting, she told me things I couldn’t believe I was hearing. I said to her, “I think we have a similar story.”

Later, I sat with God and marveled. There are times I wish I had not met the people who had inflicted such pain in my life, but not at the expense of the lesson. When I met this fellow sojourner in her yard, without a doubt I knew if I had a do-over, I would have gone through the Struggle again, so that she would know she is not alone.

Jesus says, “I love you like that.”

And in my heart, I know he does. He is the leader in love. He does his refining work when we’re under pressure. He teaches how to love God, and love a neighbor.

Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. 10 God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. Hebrews 2:9b-10 NLT.

Lord, your suffering wasn’t so I could have a sense of strength in myself, to do life on my own. It was to show me love, to bring me into relationship with you, and to teach me how to love. (And it was so much more!) There is no greater love than yours, that you would lay down your life for your friends. Thank you for the Sometime-Struggle, the lost years that were never really lost. Thank you for loving me, and walking alongside me so I would know I am not alone.

Courtney (66books365)

2 Comments

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

1 Samuel 21, 22; 1 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 1; Psalm 37

When Brene Brown spoke of love and belonging, I was undone. (Not a belonging about fitting in and being like others, but of being accepted for who you are.) She said without one of these (love, belonging), there is suffering.

David forms an army. These men weren’t perfect specimens. Not with words like distressed, debtors and discontent. God uses the broken for his kingdom.

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. 1 Samuel 22:1-2 NIV.

I didn’t fit in former circles. No, I didn’t even belong. No amount of striving would change that. Suffering felt an awful lot like depression. Perhaps God saw as distressed, discontent. No matter. I didn’t have to be perfect. I was perfect for him.

I did the same things still back then: cookie baking, card sending, garden gifting. There was no new result in that field, but there was newness in my heart. Instead of striving for the approval of man, I chose to serve the Lord. That was life before the move, and in the two years of life after I am still cookie baking, card sending, and garden gifting to honor my Lord. I don’t expect to fit, not when I live counter-culture. Two years here, I press on.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity. Psalm 37 NIV

Two years.

Over the weekend a woman who lives nearby walked down my driveway for the first time, sat across from me at the table and was vulnerable. Because of the cookies. Asked for prayer. She called me kind. Jesus sat at the table with us, and I wanted to elbow him and say, “Do you hear this?! You used the cookies! God, you are awesome!”

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NIV

God, you are faithful. You are mighty. You are good. You were all those things before. And you are all those things today. Thank you for taking this offering and doing more with it than I ever could. It’s all you–for you and about you. Thank you for bringing us here. And for calling me yours.

Courtney (66books365)

Love Came Down

5 Comments

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

Ex. 25; John 4; Prov. 1; 2 Cor. 13

The Samaritan woman at the well. I had heard of her, and her midday walk to get water was one of rejection and loneliness. It was suggested that the other women would get their water early in the morning, not in the middle of the day’s heat. But this woman shows up after everyone had left, to avoid her peers. It’s in the exclusion and loneliness that Jesus shows up. Her life hints at wandering and indulgence–I love that Jesus crosses lines (political and social) and looks her in the eyes. I would have expected she’d feel shame, but he talks to her and she feels free–free enough to spread the words “He knows all about me.” Shame drops to the ground, replaced by joy. Actions that may have bound her reputation are freed through Christ, and she can share her story with joy.

Is that what harvest looks like? Lives lived in truth, worship, joy.

34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 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.”

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 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.” 2 Corinthians 13:34-42 NLT.

I know I’m not alone. I know other people have stuff they want to tuck away from public knowledge. But I know freedom in Christ, that I can proclaim: He knows all about me.

My God accepted me, looked me in the eye, stood by my side when no one else would. On days when I would have walked in exclusion because of another’s judgment, he walked beside me.

Thank you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

6 Comments

Filed under 2 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament