Tag Archives: trials

Deuteronomy 1-3; Psalm 36; Luke 5

I bet after forty years of circling that mountain, it was pretty familiar territory. The Lord was telling them to move on.

“When we were at Mount Sinai, the Lord our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on (Deuteronomy 1:6, NLT).

I consider these verses in light of change and challenge.

29 “But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! 30 The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. 31 And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’ (Deuteronomy 1:29-31, NLT)

He looked for the best places to camp and guided with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.

If you need food to eat or water to drink, pay them for it. For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.”’ (Deuteronomy 2:6-7, NLT)

David’s psalm touches on good and evil. And I know from Deuteronomy (and my own life), God goes before me. He fights for me. He is just. I find peace in his goodness.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
    How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
    in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
    letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see. (Psalm 36:5-9, NLT)

I can trust him. Oh, if he is willing, will I not be healed?

 12 In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. (Luke 5:12-13, NLT)

Or:

22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 23 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[d] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!” (Luke 5:22-26, NLT)

If he says to go out deeper, will I not see his miracles?

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. (Luke 5:5-11, NLT)

Lord, I live in wonder and delight of you. Thank you for your faithfulness, love, provision and protection. Thank you for fighting for me and loving me tenderly and deeply.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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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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Exodus 25-27; Psalm 90; Philippians 1

Everyone could play a part. From metal workers, wood workers, designers/decorators, fabric tamers–they constructed the Tabernacle supports, curtains, lampstand, table, utensils and the Ark of the Covenant. And if they weren’t a worker in the effort, they could still contribute.

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them. (Exodus 25:1-2, NLT)

Involvement was a choice of heart. They worked together, doing their part, bringing their best–in reverence and in love.

Teach me, Lord.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
    so that we may grow in wisdom. (Psalm 90:12, NLT)

I have a different translation of Psalm 90:12 on top of a page where I’ve narrowed my focus in the coming months to cultivate areas of my life that need tending. I’m glad to see it here today, reminding me. Reminding me.

You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. (Psalm 90:5a, NLT)

One thing I learned last year in handling my dad’s estate is that what (we) leave behind reveals what mattered to (us). (Oh, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!)

Heart, work, purpose, passion. Paul is in prison. His words are marked with thanks, joy, and faith.

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. (Philippians 1:9-11, NLT, emphasis mine)

He looks at where he is and sees purpose–not cause for complaint.

12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. (Philippians 1:12-14, NLT)

I reexamine my position, my posture, my purpose.

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. (Philippians 1:27-30, NLT)

Every day, Lord, you remind me I am free. You call me to walk in freedom. You tell me I am yours, my home is with you, my portion is you.

Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
    so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. (Psalm 90:14, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

 

 

 

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Genesis 47-48; Psalm 25; Galatians 3

Joseph has been heavy on my mind–not only because of the readings, I’ve heard his story preached online a lot recently. I consider him, his trials and testing and perseverance in light of a bigger plan.

This weekend marks a year since my father’s death, and a year since my whole world shifted. Joseph likely never imagined the turn of events that one day as he trotted down at his father’s request to check on his brothers at work; I look back in contemplation at a year I never could have imagined.

My focus with Joseph was a list of questions: Did you know your brothers hated you? What were you thinking as they sold you as a slave? What went through your mind when Pharaoh’s wife set you up? And those years in prison–how did you get through each day of wait?

But today, I focus on what God is doing. Certainly, I’ve seen his hand in my own life this past year–even recently, when our dog got loose. She’s been gone several days. I sat on the couch last night under a wave of gratitude for a God who loves me and loves my dog, who has taken a heart-aching situation and used it to open doors to prayers I’d been whispering to connect with others in my community. In the process, he’s sparked a new flame in my heart. He is molding me into someone new.

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust. (Psalm 25:1, NIV)

And this is how I can look back at a hard year, grateful, that his hand has never left mine–in fact, he holds me. He has not forsaken me.

Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:4-5, NIV)

Lord, how I’ve learned what little I can control, sometimes not even my own tears. You have taken my head knowledge and moved it into my heart to show me so very personally that you are sovereign and your ways are good. When trials cut deep, you are with me, catching every tear, and working every moment for my good and your glory. Thank you for holding me and my family, and I pray that you’ll bring our dog home to us soon.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Genesis 9-11; Mark 4

I’ve never been on a boat in a storm. I’ve seen movies and video footage of boats and ships maneuvering in treacherous waters. From the couch, I don’t feel the full effect of peril. Today I slowed a bit to read and imagine this moment on a boat.

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. (Mark 4:35-37, NIV)

A furious squall. Waves breaking over the side. Nearly swamped.

I’ve stood in places where life felt furious and I felt small. I’ve looked out at circumstances that seemed to grow intensely, immensely before my eyes and tower over the side of boundaries I thought could protect me. Nearly swamped–that felt like most of 2017.

38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38, NIV)

Was there panic? Was there urgency?

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40, NIV)

Getting off the boat that day, I can only imagine these men: drenched, tousled, perhaps shoeless, and definitely shaken–that’s just outward appearances. Inside? Changed.

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41, NIV)

Lord, I see you in life’s glories–all of nature proclaims your name, from rainbows to furious squalls. You are there. In the storm and after, you show me you can be trusted. And though I walk sometimes tousled and shaken, oh, am I grateful I can call on you. You remind me in those moments (of feeling small, of panic/despair/doubt) that you are bigger than the things I see. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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2 Samuel 1; 1 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 10; Psalm 49

David honors Saul and Jonathan’s memory with a funeral song.

Paul speaks of spiritual gifts–their diversity, necessity and purpose.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NLT)

Ezekiel describes the glory of God.

Psalm 49 reminds the fleeting worth of wealth.

The readings toggle two realms: here and hereafter.

Lord, this year especially has me sorting through so many thoughts of past, present and purpose. Help me to order my days in light of your calling on my life. It is a joy and honor to serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 20, Psalm 36, Lamentations 5, 1 Corinthians 2

Bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to believers in Christ who pursue a relationship with him. No one is immune to sin’s far reaching touch and trials and suffering will continue until Jesus returns. As I began to mature in my faith, this realization struck me as a surprise. I felt like suffering was for those people who were not obedient or didn’t have a relationship with the Lord. I relied very much on my own efforts to be obedient and check off all the boxes to be a “good girl” but my formula for avoiding suffering didn’t work and neither does it for anyone else.

David must have wondered, “Why me, Lord? I thought I was anointed King. Why is Saul pursuing my death?”

Jeremiah must have wondered, “Why us, Lord? I thought we were your chosen people. Why is the temple destroyed?”

You can fill in the blanks with your own situation, trial or period of suffering. I praise the Lord for his true word that provides me with reminders of his faithfulness to his people throughout all generations. One of the most difficult things about trials is that I often don’t understand why or see the good. When this happens, I must remember the truth of God’s word and his promises. I must remember that he works all things together for good (not necessary my personal good). Obedience plus faith is not the formula to avoid trials but does help us through the hard times.

God’s true word gives us knowledge and wisdom to deal with our day in and day out struggles. When we turn to the Lord, walk daily in the Spirit and trust in him, he reveals to us the things we need to know at the time we need it.

Speak to us, Lord…..

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”- these things he has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

When we seek God’es true word, we remember his enduring love…….

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.” Psalm 36: 5-6

Dear Father, thank you for your word that brings truth to our souls. Holy Spirit, speak to us in our times of trial, when it’s hard to see the good or understand your ways. Remind our hearts that your love is never ending. Amen.

 

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