Tag Archives: truth

1 Samuel 3-5; Psalm 23; Acts 6

Samuel heard God’s call. He spoke boldly, calling out the sin in Eli’s family.

Stephen was chosen too, known as a man full of faith and Spirit, God’s grace and power.

Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10 None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.

11 So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12 This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. (Acts 6:8-12, NLT, emphasis mine)

Oh, the dangers of manipulation. Crowd rousing. Judgment, unjust.

Eli and Stephen were known by God. One man and his family faced the judgment of God. One godly man faced the judgment of man.

There is only one I stand before in the end, whose knowledge of me is all that matters. The One who gives me all I need; leads, renews, guides, protects, comforts, honors; His unfailing love and goodness pursue me, surely, even in the darkest valley.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever. (Psalm 23, NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd.

I have all that I need.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Thank you, Father.

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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2 Chronicles 25; Revelation 12; Zechariah 8; John 11

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly. Decisions and actions that followed revealed the leaning of his heart. He wouldn’t heed warnings.

So the prophet stopped with this warning: “I know that God has determined to destroy you because you have done this and have refused to accept my counsel.” (2 Chronicles 25:16b, NLT)

I think about the messages and messengers. A prophet warning a king. In Revelation, a revealing of a mystery. In John 11, Jesus receives the message that Lazarus is sick. Zechariah 8 opens with a message, and I listen.

Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says …” (Zechariah 8:1-2a, NLT)

And He says a lot. I keep reading. He speaks of restoration and perseverance and the impossible and rescue.

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. … “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Be strong and finish the task! (Zechariah 8:6, 9a, NLT)

He plants seeds of peace and prosperity, grapevines heavy with ripe fruit.

13 Among the other nations, Judah and Israel became symbols of a cursed nation. But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!

14 “For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: I was determined to punish you when your ancestors angered me, and I did not change my mind, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 15 But now I am determined to bless Jerusalem and the people of Judah. So don’t be afraid. 16 But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. 17 Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”

18 Here is another message that came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace. (Zechariah 8:14-19, NLT)

Lord Jesus, you are my foundation I build upon and anything else IS sinking sand. I have watched you tear down and demolish strongholds, and I know that nothing is impossible for you. The praise is yours. The glory is yours.

23 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:23, NLT)

And

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:25-26, NLT)

Grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Chronicles 26, 27, 2 Peter 1, Micah 4, Luke 13

Do you sometimes look for the exceptions in Scripture? That is, does a phrase or description cause you to pause and wonder? I’m studying the Word for the nth time and still surprised by what I missed all those other times. I don’t always approach Scripture with an agenda. I’m not always looking for an answer to prayer or searching for my life’s purpose. When reading the Bible, my curiosity catches a word or phrase and I am bound to circle context and content until I find relevance. For relevance are what all Scripture offers.

Take the many lists of fathers and sons in Chronicles. What pops out to me is the phrase after introducing the eight sons of Obed-Edom – “…for God blessed him,” (I Chron. 26:4-5) What to make of that; are we not blessed who have few or no sons? Or is it that Obed-Edom was blessed because his sons would be tasked with heavy responsibility in the kingdom of God?

“Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons: Shri the first (for though he was not the firstborn, his father made him the first,” (I Chron. 26:10). This is yet another example in Scripture where a firstborn lost his heritage to a younger son. Depending on where you stand politically, you might herald this as a great triumph for the last being first. Another might decry, “Unfair!” as Lucy says on A Charlie Brown Christmas, “All I want is what I have coming to me; all I want is my fair share!”

“To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came out…watchman opposite watchman,” (I Chron. 26:16). Ominous, isn’t it? There is this perpetual need for watchmen; the eyes facing out, backs forming a barrier between the unknown dangers without and the trusting protected ones within. Who are our wathcmen?

“Also Jehonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a wise man, a scribe…” (I Chron. 27: 32). Keeping family who know you best in your inner circle can mean accountability and practicality; uncomfortable at times but grounding when needed.

And this much debated truth – God chose holy men to be His spokesmen. “…knowing this first that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,” (II Peter 1:20). Thus, the source of all Scripture is God Himself. How reassuring! When I veer off, Scripture draws me back to God’s truth.

“Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…He shall teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.’” (Micah 4:2)

Talk about getting grounded! I am reminded not to be fooled or led astray by the automatic negative thoughts that lead to disturbed emotions and unthinkable behaviors toward others.

Jesus debunked false ideas: “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

(Luke 13:4-5)

Lord Jesus, I do not mean to end my wonderings on a seemingly negative note. In fact, I am encouraged by picking out these exceptional verses of Scripture. They remind me of the intense focus you place on speaking to your children from creation to eternity. No matter that I am limited in understanding by my finite, mortal brain. Your Spirit calls to my spirit and I relish in listening, asking for clarification, responding to Your intimate knowing, and surprised repeatedly by Your mysteries. Love You, Lord! Looking forward to the next immersion in Your Word!

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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1 Chronicles 7, 8; Hebrews 11; Amos 5; Luke 1:1-38

Two chapters chronicling fathers and sons (and some daughters). Some names carried a distinction of accomplishment, and other names just that–full lives lived and breathed, a lifetime reduced to the very essence of a name.

Hebrews and a faith legacy. I slow here–familiar names and stories. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses. The many others, unnamed:

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:35b-40, NLT.

Unnamed, but remembered–not by glitz or glamor, but by grit, perseverance, sacrifice and faith.

Considering the Advent season, and holding tight to word and promise.

37 For no word from God will ever fail. Hebrews 11:37, NLT.

Hope. Promise. Truth.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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2 Kings 15; Titus 1; Hosea 8; Psalms 123-125

The comparison of Old Testament kings: those who did evil in the sight of the Lord as their ancestors had done–refusing to turn from the sins that had led to the sins of others;

27 Pekah son of Remaliah began to rule over Israel in the fifty-second year of King Uzziah’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twenty years. 28 But Pekah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit. (2 Kings 15:27-28, NLT)

and those who had done what pleased the Lord, BUT.

34 Jotham did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. He did everything his father, Uzziah, had done. 35 But he did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there. (2 Kings 15:34-35, NLT)

(She) called me the other night, still processing pieces of childhood. It’s been a long year of reflection, for sure–certainly for me. I listened to what she said, of trying to connect dots to make the picture clearer. How a word today triggers the memory of a word from yesteryear, and all the feelings of shame or disgust that accompanied it.

I think on things handed down by generation. Whether, like in 2 Kings, it was a legacy of evil or one that did mostly what was pleasing, but

This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him. (Titus 1:1-3, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I need you, your spirit, your word, your instruction always. Your ways are trustworthy, life-giving, truth.

15 Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good. (Titus 1:15-16, NLT)

Lord, wherever there is a place in my life that doesn’t please you, show me, change me. Thank you for your word in my hands and in my heart. Help me to always listen for you and follow you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings14; 2 Timothy 4; Hosea 7; Psalm 120-122

Our Lord is a realist, I think. He sees me in my humanity and vanity and isn’t coy about pointing out my issues. Even the way I look on the outside doesn’t escape His scrutiny. Take His description of the waning pride of Israel when He says, “Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it,” (Hosea 7:9). As a woman, I take pride in keeping my gray hairs covered, yet in between the heroic effort of my stylist, those pesky, course sprigs pop up without my knowing. I let down my vigilant watch.

So it was with the people God is admonishing in Hosea. How does it happen that I, too, so easily lose sight of my goal to live in humility and submission? Of course, pride is the first offender that comes to mind. Like Amaziah in 2 Kings 14, I have experienced success only to bite off more than I can chew on my next quest. If not careful, I’m meddling in another’s business, thinking that I have all the knowledge, education, or savvy to solve their problems. For example, I was confronted by a co-worker who asked about a software problem. At least that is what my prideful heart heard. Instead, she merely wanted to know why I chose to enter a certain date. So I spent 15 minutes patronizing her before it dawned on me what she was asking. Her agitation disguised as patience was later revealed through the employee grapevine.

A second offender is associating with ‘yes men;’ that is I prefer to be with people who agree with me on most things. Not listening to divergent opinions dulls my mind and dooms me to being bored mostly with myself. Even worse, loss of perspective can lead me to stray from the truth. The Apostle Paul urged Timothy to be watchful against a similar problem. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

What is comforting to me is to know that I do not have to dwell in my own chaos.  I can seek God as in Psalm 121:1, 2, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” When my eyes are on God, my peace returns, and my perspective is guided by love for Him and love for my neighbors (that is, everyone God brings to my small sphere of influence). Like the Psalmist, I return to praying for the peace of others. “’May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your wall, Prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’ Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.”

Lord let my prayers be answered even as I bow this graying crown in honor of Your beauty, Your goodness, and Your great love for us all. Guide me to do good and to lean not on my own understanding. Help me to live in humility and curiosity for Your perfect ways. Through Christ my Lord, I pray.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted is from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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