Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Numbers 3-5; Hebrews 12

It is March. I am entering a third month of six where I purposed to make changes in my life after a (last) year that took a physical and emotional toll. While some big things were accomplished (yay!) in February, I noticed the smaller, daily goals weren’t always met. Why was that? I was too tired. I was too busy. I just didn’t care. I thought for a long time about perseverance and endurance and following through.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1, NLT)

I knew I needed to be mindful of the things and thoughts that were tripping me up. I looked up scriptures for direction and encouragement, keyword: training. I found a verse that surprised me. In my pursuit of the practical, visible things, I had nearly neglected to consider the spiritual, eternal ones.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12:2a, NLT)

Oh, if I look to the wrong reward, how far off will I be from the true mark? Lord, I seek your kingdom.

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:14-15, NLT)

It is March, and I press on, my grip renewed.

11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. (Hebrews 12:11-13, NLT)

Thank you, Father.

28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire. (Hebrews 12:28-19, NLT)

I praise your name.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, New Testament, Uncategorized

Zechariah 12-14, Psalm 94, 2 John

It was so funny to hear the refrain spoken by my granddaughter this week on the glossing over of Thanksgiving to usher in Christmas at the stores. It seems that every generation is disappointed in the commercialism at this time of year. Even Sally on Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving (1973) says, “I know what you mean. I went down to buy a turkey tree and all they have are things for Christmas.” Black Friday has turned into a month of advertisement and pre-sales to draw money out of your pocket and to turn your mind away from being grateful for what you have today to ‘how I can I get more for less’, tomorrow. Nothing new. Soon we will bemoan the loss of money ‘that we didn’t have to spend’ but that was compulsively handed over for Christmas presents this year.

How do we reign in these runaway holiday routines and reposts? Do we even want to? Isn’t the answer just as traditional as the traditions? That is, we can learn to live the continual theme in Messiah’s kingdom – thanksgiving. Zechariah 14:16 says that the Feast of Tabernacles is the only feast that will continue in the new kingdom. This is a feast that is celebrated at the fall harvest and is a time of worship and thanksgiving to God.

So what have we to be thankful for? Again, little Sally voices my own tired suspicion: “What have I got to be thankful for? All it does is make more work for us at school” [or in my case – in the kitchen, decorating the house, shopping for food, clothes, gifts, gifts, gifts]. Okay, now I sound like the Grinch.

It’s just that I’m looking for reasons in place of the next few weeks of blithering excuses for overextending my already tight budget and overtaxing my already exhausted 50++ year old body to the brink of collapse. How can I please others and at the same time focus on what draws me closer to God and Christ? As I’m turning blue from forgetting to breathe, I hear the answer in gentle words of encouragement: 2 John 3 “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” Instead of the shock and awe approach of bombarding family with the latest and greatest contraptions and inventions on the media’s top ten list, I can commit myself to resting in God’s truth and communicating His love.

First truth – “The Lord knows the thoughts of man…” (Psalm 94:11)

Second truth – “Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord.” (Psalm 94:12)

Third truth – “Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (Psalm 94:18b-19).

When I packed away the fading brilliance of autumn, I paused to look at a cute door decoration. The country girl perched on a fence, pumpkins at her feet, had the most cheerful face. Her blushing cheeks, her shiny black button eyes, and her wistful smile beckoned me to take the harvest welcome basket of garden delights from her chubby hand. All I could think was to say, “Thank you for this moment of peace and the years of fond memories you have given.” Perhaps communicating God’s love in this same simple way is the reason to continue the theme of thanksgiving each season and each of the rest of our days.

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2 Chronicles 29-31; 1 Corinthians 8

2015 is the year our family went gluten-free. A child’s Celiac diagnosis was an overnight household and lifestyle transformation. I spent a large part of this summer reading up on the disease, discovering new ways of cooking, and brainstorming new approaches to meals.

***

A good friend’s suggestion of a book study called Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst seemed very unappealing since a brief description revealed it had to do with food and weight. But I checked it out from the library, and skimming over it turned to reading it, which turned to loving it.

***

I went to share a chicken salad recipe with another friend, who mentioned she was starting a (nutrition-focused) healthy eating plan. Suddenly, before I even understood what I was saying, I was ready to join her.

***

My Bible reading today was about a rededication of a temple to the Lord and ridding it of idols. It was about worshiping the Lord with thanksgiving and remembrance, with celebration and sacrifices. And, yeah, it was about food.

***

Lord, I’m learning about abundant life through you. All the things that were temporary pleasures or distractions are nothing compared to the joy I have in you. Thank you, God, for caring for me to show me and correct me and guide me to newness–and freedom.

Courtney (66books365)

(I did not receive compensation of any sort for reading or mentioning Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.)

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Ezekiel 38-39; 1 Peter 4

In the subhead title of Restoration for God’s People, I think long on restoration. It is a sweet reminder of a Father who won’t leave me behind and will not turn His face from me. This is comfort I need.

28 Then my people will know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them away to exile and brought them home again. I will leave none of my people behind. 29 And I will never again turn my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit upon the people of Israel. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” Ezekiel 39:28-29, NLT, emphasis mine.

When I go through the process of preparing home and table for guests, I’m assaulted by a critical voice–and the thing about the thoughts that makes them so hard: it’s my voice, and the things I think about have happened–so it’s not a stretch to wonder if the worst will come again.

“Why do I do this?” I’ve asked. It’s a multilevel question.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:8-10, NLT.

Help me, Lord.

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

It’s such a simple statement: keep on doing what is right and trust (your) life to God–he will never fail you.

Lord, take my anxious thoughts. From greeting to goodbye, you already know what this day holds–and whatever that might be, I can trust you. I hold onto these verses: that you won’t leave me behind; that you won’t turn your face from me; that you won’t fail me. You give me hope when things feel hopeless. You show me nothing is impossible for you. I’m thankful for these scriptures, for your love for me, for your encouragement to keep on being who you’ve made me to be. Thank you for loving me every day as much as the last–you show me what love is.

Courtney (66books365)

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1Chronicles 24, 25; 1Peter 5; Micah 3; Luke 12

I picked service as my one word focus this year. (Anyone else do a one word?)

Today’s reading flashes it like Christmas lights set on blink.

Service. Service. Service.

This is how Aaron’s descendants, the priests, were divided into groups for service 31 Like the descendants of Aaron, they were assigned to their duties by means of sacred lots, without regard to age or rank. 1 Chronicles 24:1a and 31 NLT

The musicians were appointed to their term of service by means of sacred lots, without regard to whether they were young or old, teacher or student. 1 Chronicles 25:8 NLT.

I learned a lot about service as this year progressed. About my heart behind it. About my expectations from it. About how hard it is when you don’t particularly like the circumstance or person you’re serving. What I hoped would be a year of good-doing revealed a warped focus wrapped in pride.

I had to regroup. God has wired me a certain way. He has a job for me, without regard to my age or experience. He gives me opportunity to care for the flock around me–extended family, neighbors, other moms, and certainly the people under this roof. Service is not always convenient. Or pretty. Or at times, in my case, willing.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example … And all of you, serve each other in humility, for

“God opposes the proud
    but favors the humble.”

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 1 Peter 5:2-3, 5b NLT.

It is easier to care for the people I love and who love me back. But this year, I’m learning to serve even the ones who don’t love back. I’m sure there are other families facing the strain of difficult relationships. And they will understand the dragging feet of grudging and the knotted stomach of stress.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT.

This year, though, I’m standing firm and being strong. I’m fixing a table up and stoking the fire in the fireplace. I’m putting together a menu I love, for a holiday I enjoy and a concept I treasure; and serving a God I adore, as if he himself were seated at my table. I cannot control the responses and actions of others–and God doesn’t require it of me. He asks me to humble myself and serve him, the way he has me wired, regardless of my age or experience. (Julie once shared a definition of service as worship; this sticks with me.) And really, there is no burden in that.

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. Luke 12:35-36 NLT.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Courtney (66books365)

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1Chronicles 15; James 2; Amos 9; Luke 4

I was on the phone with a friend yesterday when the question I’ve been struggling with arose:

How can I have a higher expectation of my children over similar issues I fail to overcome in my own life?

My friend and I had a similar issue of a strained relationship. It’s too soon to say how things are going for her with how she’s decided to handle it, but my results are more like banging my head against a wall: frustration, pain, getting nowhere, questioning why I’m still (doing this).

13 Because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the Lord our God burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it properly.” 1 Chronicles 15:13 NLT.

I have asked God for signs to continue with the relationship, and each time he has told me to do so. Soon after, another issue arises and I find myself wondering if I heard him right. These doors are closed tight. Why do I set myself up for failure again? Perhaps I have failed to ask God how to.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness … Luke 4:1 NLT

Spirit, lead me.

When Jesus was hungry and tempted in the wilderness, he quoted scripture.

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’” Luke 4:4 NLT

Next week, we’ll be breaking bread–a room of generations. Perhaps the lesson isn’t about the success in overcoming relational difficulties. The lesson could be about a lot of things–perseverance, surrender, seeking the Lord, obedience, faith in action, loving God, blessing an enemy. Maybe the result isn’t so much about getting what I want, but in teaching my kids (and learning for myself) how to live life with a heart for God in a broken world with broken relationships.

And maybe through the learning and doing of the other things, I might also get what I want too–healing.

But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43 NLT

Lord, you are my how-to and my hope. Please, lead me.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 19; Hebrews 1; Hosea 12; Psalms 135-136

Thanksgiving month. Lots of people are practicing 30 days of thanks. I’m one of them.

I’ve given thanks for an extra hour in the day on Sunday; a handed-down kitchen table crowded with friends; a rainy day and a warm fleece blanket; the woods.

Today I woke a little stumped. A first-grade family interview project on a holiday horizon, and an elder’s “no” typed quietly across a page that screamed much more.

As Hezekiah spread a message before the Lord, I kneel before my God and do the same–Bend down, O Lord, and listen.

Lord, this is what I’ve got. Look. This is what’s going on.

The books each have a word for me, and my greedy hands grasp them for comfort when my ears need to hear love from a Father.

2 Kings 19: things happening today were planned long ago. God knows.

Hebrews 1: God named Jesus his son. And because of God’s great love for the world, Jesus died on my behalf, so that I could be reconciled to a Father and called his daughter–a co-inheritor with Christ.

Hosea 12: the boasting of chasing, cheating, lying, violence, pride. But God tells, “I am the Lord your God.”

And Psalms, closing:

Praise the Lord!

Praise the name of the Lord!
    Praise him, you who serve the Lord, Psalm 135:1 NLT

Psalm 136:1–

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

(And it was already italicized for me. Like it was saying, don’t miss this.)

2 Kings 19, I read of crops and feeding and I sit here meditating on generational sin.

This year you will eat only what grows up by itself,
    and next year you will eat what springs up from that.
But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them;
    you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit. 2 Kings 19:29b NLT

And I think on life, when we do it ourselves. And what springs up from that in a next generation–without intention and cultivation–or God. But the third year, you will plant the crops and harvest them; you will tend the vineyards and eat their fruit.

Lord, it stops here. Help me to plant a crop for your harvest, one that bears fruit for your kingdom, and even for my family to enjoy. God, I know family means a lot to you–you adopted us as sons and daughters. I know the utter hopelessness of love withheld in a broken world. And I am thankful your love endures forever.

Courtney (66books365)

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