Tag Archives: training

Revelation 9:12-14:8 

Endurance is the ability to withstand hardship or adversity. It implies permanence or, at least, duration. It’s an act or an instance of enduring or suffering. It was my word for the year in 2022–mostly because I was focused on stamina, not so much the part about suffering. When I think of endurance, I think of physical and mental toughness. I apply it to training plans and finish lines. Endurance goes farther and deeper than that.

It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

Whoever has ears, let them hear.

10 “If anyone is to go into captivity,
    into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
    with the sword they will be killed.”

This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.

Revelation 13:7-10, NIV, emphasis added

An enemy is given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And this familiar refrain from the gospels “whoever has ears, let them hear” tells me to pay attention. But it’s the word endurance that really grabs my attention.

This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.

It causes me to ponder endurance and faith when it comes to my walk with Christ, and how my example, effort, and attitude not only affect my ability to endure, but are seeds sown into future generations. I was 47 years old when I bought a pair of running shoes. I couldn’t even run .25 mile without stopping to catch my breath. Now, at 53, I run half marathons, and I’m signed up for my first triathlon in 2023. That progress took consistent, intentional effort. I factored in cross-training and rest days. Some days I was enthusiastic. Some days I went through the motions just to get started. But what it all taught me was that there was growth outside of my comfort zone–and that I was capable of way more than I ever imagined.

This year, an Advent study on 1 John sparked new intention in my Bible studies. I’m grateful and excited to read through the Bible on 66 Books again in 2023–and expectant of what God has in store. So grateful to have his words in my hands and in my heart. So grateful that he can do way more than I ever imagined.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)

Did you have a word of the year in 2022? Do you have one in mind for 2023? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Courtney (66books365)

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James 1:1-4:10

I have a calendar where I write down my training plan for each month. I write what I hope to accomplish and what I did accomplish toward that goal. It helps me to get my head around what I need to do, and to make forward progress toward a goal (race). One thing I learned this year was that I couldn’t just wing a half marathon. I had to train for it. I learned that lesson in October during a half marathon where I had slacked over the summer on the training, and I wasn’t prepared for the distance. (It was a physically painful lesson.) Because of that experience, I have a deep and serious respect for training.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:2-8, NIV

While I can plan what races I want to run and create a training plan to support them, I don’t always know what the day holds in other regards. I don’t always get a warning of conflict, disappointment, loss, or challenge awaiting me. And I tend to lose sight of the purpose and point when I fail to look at life through a kingdom lens. These verses in James redirect my focus. They reset my perspective. And because I tend to relate everything to running, I get it. God is training me. He is growing me so that I may be mature and complete. Not only that, but God is always with me, always ready and willing to give me wisdom–generously!–because he wants me to finish strong–it’s for his glory! God knows what’s ahead, and he’s preparing me. But if I go through my days failing to recognize this training, I can easily let my thoughts or emotions take control instead of my faith.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:19-22, NIV

Father God, I am grateful for your word. All the time. I’m grateful that when I come near to you, you are near to me. So tender. So willing. So loving. Help me to keep a kingdom focus. Help me to mature in my walk with you, for your glory.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 48; Daniel 1:1-2:30

This is what I know when I meet Daniel–he was physically fit, attractive, teachable and capable, educated, and qualified. He was going to be treated (somewhat) like a king–at least with a measure of respect and dignity–eating food and drinking wine from the king’s table. And he was going to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel 1:3-8, NIV

And though he was enlisted to be part of the king’s service and immersed in the culture of the Babylonians, he drew a line he wouldn’t cross: he would not defile himself with the royal food and wine. I take special note of this.

I learn a lot about Daniel and his friends in these opening scriptures. And I see how God works in their lives.

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

Daniel 1:17, NIV, emphasis mine

I also take special notice of what happens when Daniel is under extreme pressure. He’s on the cusp of execution because all the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers are unable to tell the king the content of his dream or its meaning.

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.

Daniel 2:14, NIV

Daniel speaks with wisdom and tact.

He also takes the issue to the Lord in prayer and expectation.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel 2:17-23, NIV

I think again on the quote, “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.” Finding himself a captive of sorts, enlisted, and facing great stresses, I see the level of Daniel’s training–a foundation of solid boundaries, discipline, faith, and humility.

Lord, these days I find myself leaning more and more into you. I’m thankful for a reading today that highlights your presence and provision. And I’m also grateful for a reminder of my own personal responsibility to stick to boundaries and maintain a focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 25:1-28:10

Ammon … said “Aha!” over my sanctuary when it was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile … you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel (Ezekiel 25:3b, 6b, NIV)

Moab … Moab and Seir said, “Look, Judah has become like all the other nations.” (Ezekiel 25:8b, NIV)

Edom … took revenge on Judah and became very guilty by doing so (Ezekiel 25:12b, NIV)

Philistia … acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah (Ezekiel 25:15b, NIV)

Tyre … said of Jerusalem, ‘Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper,’ (Ezekiel 26:2b, NIV)

As I was reading these scriptures and noticing the penalties and punishments being listed, I decided to go back again and read from a different perspective–the why that prompted the Lord’s response. The Lord speaks out against these places, stating the why behind his justice, and I’ve noted them here.

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘In the pride of your heart
    you say, “I am a god;
I sit on the throne of a god
    in the heart of the seas.”
But you are a mere mortal and not a god,
    though you think you are as wise as a god.
Are you wiser than Daniel?
    Is no secret hidden from you?
By your wisdom and understanding
    you have gained wealth for yourself
and amassed gold and silver
    in your treasuries.
By your great skill in trading
    you have increased your wealth,
and because of your wealth
    your heart has grown proud.

“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘Because you think you are wise,
    as wise as a god,
I am going to bring foreigners against you,
    the most ruthless of nations;
they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom
    and pierce your shining splendor.
They will bring you down to the pit,
    and you will die a violent death
    in the heart of the seas.
Will you then say, “I am a god,”
    in the presence of those who kill you?
You will be but a mortal, not a god,
    in the hands of those who slay you.
10 You will die the death of the uncircumcised
    at the hands of foreigners.

I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” (Ezekiel 28:1-10, NIV)

I notice lately, in the scriptures I’ve read, how often the Lord is speaking. When I know that: 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV), am I listening to be taught, admonished, corrected, and trained?

I read a quote recently that sticks with me: “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.” (Quote credited to an anonymous Navy SEAL)

Lord, when you speak, I want to listen. Help me to identify and root out haughtiness, judgment, apathy, greed, pride and malice from my thoughts and heart. I want to be useful in your kingdom, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 6; Psalms 143, 144

The imagery in these scriptures stirs something in me. A call. A confirmation. An encouragement. A reminder. A focus.

Stand up, son of man,” said the voice. “I want to speak with you.” The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet. I listened carefully to his words. “Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you […] 6 Son of man, do not fear them or their words. Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls, even though they are rebels. You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious! Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not join them in their rebellion. Open your mouth, and eat what I give you.” (Ezekiel 2:1-3a, 6-8, NLT, emphasis added)

An enemy knows how to distract me, to take my focus off the Kingdom and busy it with fruitless concerns. God’s Word resets my focus (He stands me on my feet, a Father who is always willing and ready to provide guidance.).

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding … We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. 10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. (Hebrews 6:1a, 9b-12, NLT, emphasis added)

I think on His promises, and gasp at this image–hope guides:

18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. (Hebrews 6:18-19, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, this time in Your Word is precious to me.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
    for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
    for I give myself to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
    I run to you to hide me.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
    on a firm footing
. (Psalm 143:8-10, NLT, emphasis added)

You go before me. You prepare tables for me. You prepare works in advance for me to do. Certainly You will equip me.

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.
He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. (Psalm 144:1-2, NLT, emphasis added)

Rock, loving ally, fortress, safety, rescuer, shield, Father. I praise you!

Courtney (66books365)

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