Tag Archives: truth

1 Kings 11:26-13:34

Some friends of mine are doing a challenge and asked me to be part of it. For 75 days, there’s a list of things they need to accomplish (exercise, food choices, reading, etc), or they have to restart. Seventy-five days is roughly two and a half months. I looked at the list of things. It was the mental (and physical) boost I was looking for because my current efforts felt stagnant. The tasks seemed reasonable. I joined them. Of the 25 of us in the group, several have not shared their progress, and in a smaller segment of seven people, a few of us have had to start over. That “us” includes me. Drinking a gallon of water a day was not as easy as I thought.

28 Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph. (1 Kings 11:28, NIV)

Solomon puts Jeroboam in charge of the whole labor force. A prophet encounters Jeroboam with a word from the Lord. I focus in on this part, mostly because I’ve seen it so many times in scripture.

37 However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. 38 If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. (1 Kings 11:37-38, NIV)

The Lord is always clear about the terms. “If you do (this), I will do (this).” How many rulers were known for their obedience and heart for the Lord? A good amount. This tells me that what God requires is not only reasonable, it’s attainable.

When I read the scriptures from a distance of a couple thousand years, I can shake my head at what sometimes seems inevitable: a leader’s fall, an evil lineage, a poor choice. When God’s requirements resulted in a relationship with him that bore fruit, why would people choose over and over again to do the wrong thing?

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”

28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other. (1 Kings 12:26-30, NIV, emphasis added)

I also thought of the 75-day challenge. I thought of the people who failed and quit. I thought of myself for the restarts. It seemed easy enough: just do (this) and experience/develop/achieve (this). There is a parallel between this story of a king and the story of a challenge.

So what do I glean from the reading? Big feelings can redirect a focus: doubt, fear, power, greed, anger, jealousy–even sneakier feelings like laziness and apathy can cause a downfall. Jeroboam’s fear for his life and his status caused to him to doubt or forget God’s promise to him. Not only did he seek out poor counsel, but he did not uphold his part in the relationship (obedience to God).

I think about my choices … the sometimes defeating thoughts in my mind … feelings of futility … plateaus in progress. Who and what are the advisors in my life? A friend reminded me that news sources, groups and other social media can influence as much as a close friend. Not only do I need to be careful about what I think, but I need to be careful about what I feed my thoughts with. If these outside influences have such a powerful effect on me, who is really to blame? If a leader can choose obedience to God, and a person can successfully adhere to the guidelines of a program, then in the end, it comes down to personal accountability.

Lord, help me to hear you and see you first. Whether it’s the latest chaos in the world or the doubting and defeating thoughts in my head, help me to cut through the distraction and maintain a focus on you. It is possible to be obedient and self-controlled. Surround me with those who are for you. Help me to guard my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 37-39; Psalm 103; Revelation 21

If you asked me last January what I thought the year would hold, I never would have imagined this: chickens. My youngest daughter started high school, and this summer, as part of immersive learning, we ordered a few baby chicks to raise. Not only were they adorable, soft and cuddly–they were already smart. A touch of their beak to water, and they knew to drink; they instinctively knew to dust bathe; to take shelter or freeze from a predator’s call; to take shelter in the coop at night and roost; and they have a song they sing when they lay an egg. Sometimes I sit out in the run with them, holding them, listening to their chatter, and admiring the crazy beautiful colors of their feathers. The feathers shimmer and throw off hues of emerald in the amber and black. All that beauty in a chicken.

When the Lord challenges Job in today’s chapters, I believe him. I see his majesty in all that he mentions, just as I see it in the iridescence of a bird’s feather. When I read through Psalm 103’s reminder of what the Lord has done, I praise him too. The truth of who he is and what he has done gives me confidence (awe and reverence) of Revelation.

 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:3-8, NLT)

Going into a next year, I have no idea what it holds. But I trust in the Alpha and the Omega–my God who is trustworthy and true.

The Lord has made the heavens his throne;
    from there he rules over everything.

20 Praise the Lord, you angels,
    you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
    listening for each of his commands.
21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
    who serve him and do his will!
22 Praise the Lord, everything he has created,
    everything in all his kingdom.

Let all that I am praise the Lord. (Psalm 103:19-22, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 21-23; Psalm 101; Revelation 16

Job’s story reminds me–there is a spiritual realm. And if I didn’t know the beginning of his story, when Satan and God spoke of Job, my opinions would bounce around as much as Job’s and his friends’ do. It’s hard to find logic and cause-and-effect in situations that don’t make any sense. I understand Job’s resentment that evil people get away with doing evil things–they may even be honored through it. Or, like Eliphaz, I might think that bad things happen because someone (however unknowingly) brought it upon himself. Job was known for his faith, but even as he speaks, I hear the deep grief and grappling of his thoughts. If a man who was known by God to have a strong faith is tossed about by his emotions in crisis and calamity, oh, what of me? There is a lesson here.

If I live in ignorance of the spiritual realm, then the hard things that happen in life can seem a logical reward when there is cause-and-effect, but when life doesn’t make sense, the hard things just seem cruel. When I live with a Kingdom focus, I can see the refining work of God through trial. If he never built me up through difficult situations, I may not be capable of withstanding disaster. Job talks of cliches, and I think of the phrase I’ve thought and spoken, “God equips those he calls.” And maybe this equipping sometimes comes through training and trial.

What does spiritual warfare look like in end times?

So the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl on the earth, and horrible, malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue.

Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse. And everything in the sea died.

Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs, and they became blood […] … and they cursed the name of God, who had control over all these plagues. They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory. (Revelation 16:2-4, 9, NLT)

In the midst of disease, calamity, torment, the people curse God’s name, angered that he had the power to stop it, but didn’t. They do not repent of their sins. They do no turn to God. They do not give him glory. They are unaware of the true battle and the battlefield. They do not understand their role in it.

While not part of today’s reading, this verse stood out to me recently: This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful. (Revelation 13:10b, NLT)

I think of Job. Standing outside these stories, it’s easy to throw down a trite response. In fact, reading through parts of Revelation, I couldn’t help but think, “Y’all need Jesus.” But today, this moment, I say to myself: God, I need you. I need your word in my head, in my hands, in my heart. I need your guidance. I need your strength.

Father God, I used to look at the wounds and hurts of life as fractures, but now I see them as chiseling away to define (strengthen) me and to make me more like the image of your son. Help me to keep a Kingdom focus, to live with clarity, to stand in faith, to bring you glory.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 13-15; Psalm 136; John 5

What did he say?

Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’ (Ezekiel 13:1-3, NLT)

What did the Lord say?

“Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins. I, the Lord, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for my advice. I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 14:6-8, NLT)

What did the Lord say?

One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”

11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.

13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (John 5:5-15, NLT, emphasis added)

When there’s so much to take in in the story, it’s easy to miss the message by considering the setting, interpreting a message, looking at the Pharisees. What did the Lord say? If I look past the descriptive sentences and focus on the dialogue, what did the Lord say? What if he said those words to me? Just these words: “Would you like to get well? Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk! Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”

Something even worse than being hindered and ineffective for 38 years. Something even worse than watching everyone else take action and rise victorious. Something even worse than blaming others, feeling abandoned, being stuck, or feeling self pity.

Lord, you’ve not been silent. You speak your word to people who may not want to hear or listen. This reading today (beyond what I’ve selected) tells me so much that you’ve said–about truth, accountability, error, sin, forgiveness, judgment, and more. You didn’t tell that man at Bethesda, “Ah, you’re a sinner so you’re just going to keep on sinning. It’s ok. Stay where you are.” You offered him a choice, told him to take action, and reminded him about who he is: NOW YOU ARE WELL. SO STOP SINNING. Oh, if I would just keep your words high above all the other distractions–a setting, a message, a body of people and their judgment. If I just kept your word as my focus–to choose you, to take action, to remember who I am in you. Could it be that simple? To lay down my excuses and my feelings, and just follow you to freedom and victory?

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

I get a taste of the times by reading Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45–a sampling over a span of chapters. Jeremiah confronts again:

“For the past twenty-three years […] the Lord has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them on to you, but you have not listened.

“Again and again the Lord has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention. Each time the message was this: ‘Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. Only then will I let you live in this land that the Lord gave to you and your ancestors forever. Do not provoke my anger by worshiping idols you made with your own hands. Then I will not harm you.’

“But you would not listen to me,” says the Lord. “You made me furious by worshiping idols you made with your own hands, bringing on yourselves all the disasters you now suffer. (Jeremiah 25:3-7, NLT)

(I read of the cup of God’s anger, and it’s not an only mention in the Bible. The cup is mentioned in several books, and in each, it is terrifying.)

To another family, a promise from God in response to their obedience.

And in audacity, King Jehoiakim’s response to God:

21 The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. Jehudi brought it from Elishama’s room and read it to the king as all his officials stood by. 22 It was late autumn, and the king was in a winterized part of the palace, sitting in front of a fire to keep warm. 23 Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. 24 Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard. 25 Even when Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, he wouldn’t listen. (Jeremiah 36:21-25, NLT)

Father God, may I never take your word so lightly. If your promises and word are trustworthy, and they are, they should be the direction I seek to draw even closer to you. I am glad your word doesn’t change, and that you are true. You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and I can walk in full confidence of your promise.

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18, NLT)

Lord, help me to live a life undistracted, but with a keen kingdom focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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