Tag Archives: Testimony

Jeremiah 8-10; 2 Corinthians 11

If I were to sum up a theme in these readings, it would be a warning about false teachings.

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. (2 Corinthians 11:4, NLT)

What of the false teacher? What is deceit’s disguise?

14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, NLT)

A deceiver knows how to disguise and hide. Some disguised themselves as apostles of Christ. That’s tricky. Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. We are told this for a reason. Bad intentions can sport good appearances.

But what of truth? Shouldn’t truth have an easy road? After all, it is right and pure. If Paul’s story is any example of trying to bring truth to light, that road is far from comfortable. For example, he:

  • worked harder
  • was put in prison more often
  • was whipped times without number
  • faced death again and again
  • 5 different times the Jewish leaders gave him 39 lashes
  • 3 times he was beaten with rods
  • he was stoned
  • 3 times he was shipwrecked
  • he spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea
  • he traveled on many long journeys
  • he faced danger from rivers
  • he faced danger from from robbers
  • he faced danger from his own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles
  • he faced danger in the cities, and in the deserts, and on the seas
  • he faced danger from men who claimed to be believers but were not
  • he worked hard and long
  • he endured many sleepless nights
  • he was hungry and thirsty
  • he often went without food
  • he shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep him warm (from 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27, NLT)

I read the account again, and this time, I imagine standing next to him. Working. Whipped. Shipwrecked. Facing danger–again and again. Exhausted. Hungry. Thirsty. Cold. And when I read it again, I look into the eyes of other prisoners, assailants holding whips and rocks, intimidating authorities, forceful robbers, a shunning community, even the ones who claimed to be believers. Paul’s not telling a passing story of what he did over the weekend. He’s telling a story of how he faced the extreme pressure to abandon the truth and abolish his faith.

I am ever more grateful for these words in my hands. Grateful for all the people who came before me, speaking and preserving truth, so that I could know Jesus and live. I will never know all that it cost them. But I know if they hadn’t persevered, my ignorance would have cost me my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament

1 Samuel 3; Romans 3; Jeremiah 41; Psalm 17

Where is my focus? Sometimes I am preoccupied with issues past or present that I lose sight that there’s a bigger kingdom and a much bigger purpose. When I read of Samuel hearing from the Lord, I think long on God’s faithfulness, and today, I notice something new.

19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. 20 And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle. (1 Samuel 3:19-21, NLT)

Samuel’s obedience is a testimony.

Words and actions speak of whose we are, speak of focus, speak of priority. Whether intentionally or not, my life will speak a testimony of what really mattered to me and where I put my faith.

19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. (Romans 3:19-20, 30-31, NLT)

When my faith rests on God, his sovereignty, his faithfulness, his justice, his plan–it changes me. It helps me to see my own brokenness and to have grace for the brokenness in others, to see how very much we need Jesus. It helps me to approach him with bold prayers and honesty, gives me a safe place to be seen and heard, to trust him with my whole life.

I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
    Bend down and listen as I pray.

Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
    By your mighty power you rescue
    those who seek refuge from their enemies.
Guard me as you would guard your own eyes.[a]
    Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Protect me from wicked people who attack me,
    from murderous enemies who surround me.
10 They are without pity.
    Listen to their boasting!
11 They track me down and surround me,
    watching for the chance to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart—
    like young lions hiding in ambush.

13 Arise, O Lord!
    Stand against them, and bring them to their knees!
    Rescue me from the wicked with your sword!
14 By the power of your hand, O Lord,
    destroy those who look to this world for their reward.
But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones.
    May their children have plenty,
    leaving an inheritance for their descendants.
15 Because I am righteous, I will see you.
    When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied. (Psalm 17:6-15, NLT)

Lord, I am so grateful for your word and the frequent reminders of your character and strength. This time with you is a gift and nourishment to my soul. Even just these words soothe me and reshape my focus: When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied. Thank you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 18-20; Psalm 141; Revelation 15

Empty offers. Canceled plans. Things unspoken, withheld, erased. You aren’t worth it. You don’t matter. These are the words I’ve heard over the years from family and friends, spoken through their tone and by their actions. These are the words an enemy said to me over and over. They became the filter I used to look at my place in life and in relationships, and I hardly knew it. That belief took me to dark places: From I feel lonely to I am alone; from I feel overlooked to I am invisible. I see it in Job, his own thoughts change from a once confidence in God to:

“How long will you torture me?
    How long will you try to crush me with your words?
You have already insulted me ten times.
    You should be ashamed of treating me so badly.
Even if I have sinned,
    that is my concern, not yours.
You think you’re better than I am,
    using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.
But it is God who has wronged me,
    capturing me in his net.

“I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me.
    I protest, but there is no justice.
God has blocked my way so I cannot move.
    He has plunged my path into darkness.
He has stripped me of my honor
    and removed the crown from my head.
10 He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished.
    He has uprooted my hope like a fallen tree (Job 19:2-10, NLT, emphasis added).

Hey, Job, maybe you didn’t know this, but in the beginning of your story: God thought a lot of  you.

He put a hedge of protection around you, but you didn’t know it. All the crazy and loss and pain going on around you made it hard to see. But maybe when you look back, you’ll see you were held.

He thought you could withstand this. And I wonder, if you had known … if you had told yourself those things instead, what would your testimony be?

When I read Job, I don’t always know what to think, but it certainly has me thinking this time around: What are others telling me? What am I telling myself? What is the truth?

Lord, I need to be grounded in YOUR truth to know the truth. I want eyes to see, ears to hear, and a humbled heart to accept what is. I want to tell myself the truth. And when life doesn’t look the way I thought it should or hoped it would, I want to look to You and ask with expectation, “So, what do You have planned instead?” I’m so thankful that anything that happens is under your notice and watch–crazy, loss and pain can have new meaning and purpose.

Courtney (66books365)

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

Numbers 19-21; Colossians 4

She was a mom of three. She devoted herself to home tasks, which later left her feeling helpless after his trespass and abandonment. The home, a prison. Her children, shackles. Outside her window, a perceived freedom of women climbing corporate ladders–she faced having the electricity shut off; broke and broken. It was too much. She felt hopeless.

***

Another woman was recovering during a time that felt like a life sentence. The nurses were wardens and the rules were constricting, restricting punishments. She felt all freedoms had been stripped away. Every day was punctuated by offense, oppression, complaint. The days ticked past. She praised the Lord for what he’d done in the past, but she was unable to praise him in the present for the meal, the care, the provision. She felt trapped, like she was in prison.

***

I was tasked with duties without warning. A lifelong obligation. A tethering, and sometimes too heavy–the bombardment of negativity, of opposition, of uncertainty. I fought against my own complaint, but sometimes, and sometimes often, I still complained. I fought against bitterness, and when I felt its squeeze, I cried out–oh, not this heart, Lord.  I remembered Paul. I thought of his chains.

Remember my chains. (Colossians 4:18b, NLT)

If he could find understanding and purpose in the worst of circumstances, could I find them in mine?

If I let him, could God use my circumstance to speak the Gospel? Could he use this circumstance to demonstrate his glory and goodness and sovereignty? What the enemy uses to break and beat down, could my God use to build upon and make new? Where an enemy declares an end, could God pronounce a beginning?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6, NLT)

Nothing is a surprise to my God, however it may surprise me. These things he knew before time. Tasks prepared in advance. Yes. Don’t let me miss it–that sometimes ministry is in the middle of mess and misery. For Paul, he was literally a prisoner in a prison, but for others, it’s circumstance that feels hopeless, punitive, imprisoning, endless.

17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” (Colossians 4:17, NLT)

Archippus, did you? Did you carry out the ministry the Lord gave you?

Lord Jesus, you have been with me every step of this journey, and you know how hard it’s been. You know how desperately I begged to quit from the pressure. And whether the job was heaped upon, handed over, appointed–you knew. And you intend(ed) it for my good and your glory. May it be so. Fixing my eyes on you, author and perfecter of faith. You can bring beauty from ashes.

May God’s grace be with you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 16; 2 Corinthians 9; Ezekiel 23; Psalm 70, 71

I’m not too sure about wisdom coming with age. Sure, I feel I have a few things to say or to offer the ‘younger generation.’ Yet, I’m well aware that they generally like to just figure this all out by themselves. I definitely am not saying that I want others to look up to me as the example of Christian perfection; the days of hubris have long passed. Life experiences for the most part though, have taught me to say, “All is well with my soul,” even in the midst of hell on earth. Still, when I hear myself complaining of indigestion, this aching pain in my left hip, or the increasing wrinkles on my forehead and loose skin on the underside of my arms, I admit that I am being remiss as a servant of God. For how will focusing on me teach others to glorify God? Smooth sailing through calm waters may not lift the eye to seek God, but a mentor captivates with steady faith.

I think King David felt this, too. The “man after God’s own heart,” submitted to the ups and downs of life, the consequences of sin repented. David accepted with faith whatever landed in his lap (even rocks hurled by his enemy). He admonished others by saying, “So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ “It may be that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day,” (2 Samuel 16:10, 12). Can you hear David’s faith in the only One who knew him from his first cry as a babe to his last breath of life?

I, too, am sure of my salvation and of God’s presence in my  life (hence, all is well with my soul), but I long for the day that my puny efforts in serving Him here in this earthen vessel, will be shattered and left in the dirt while I fly to meet my Lord Christ in the sky. Saying this may sound like the proverbial ‘pie in the sky’ way of life. It’s just that I am well aware that I have a duty to obedience while here on earth, even though my heart is set on the joy to come. This wanting to be with Jesus does not allow me to shirk my responsibilities that continue with age. In fact, as one of the ‘older generation,’ I will be held responsible for the tasks God has given me. So being present is the most meaningful way I can touch others for Christ. Without a doubt, I need MORE of Him, and now!

Psalm 71:9, 18 “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails…” “No also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for opportunities of testimony and service yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let the last wink of my eyelids declare Your glory as I gaze upwards to You. I pray to work alongside You until You come or You take me home. Maranatha! Come, O Lord!

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.”

Janet (jansuwilkinson) All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized