Tag Archives: truth

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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2 Kings 10; 2 Timothy 1; Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

Trusting in God can be easier when there are fewer choices. The people of Israel abandon their Creator God who led them through the desert for a god who offers false promises of fertility and abundance. Before long, they blend in with the culture; name alone distinguishes them from their neighbors. Baal is chosen over Jehovah.

In a zeal, Jehu takes up the sword and wipes out Baal worship only to later turn away from the Lord to pursue other gods. The cycle is repeated over and over again. Israel has this way of wandering from God when given half a chance. And what does God say of his people?

“She didn’t not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold that they used for Baal.”  Hosea 2:8

Longing for his people, God is a patient, forgiving lover:

“Therefore, I will now allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as when she came out of the land of Egypt. On that day, says the Lord you will call me, ‘My husband,’ and no longer will you call me, ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baal from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more….And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2:14-17…19,20.

This cycle of belief and disbelief is exhausting. At least the Israelites embraced their false gods openly and honestly. Me, my heart sneaks away under cover and sometimes, I don’t even realize how or where my heart has wandered. That’s irrelevant to God, He pursues. His Holy Spirit claims ownership of my heart. He is there to strengthen and fan into flame even the slightest flicker of faith. Read Paul’s words to Timothy:

“For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through he laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:6-7.

God’s will is not accomplished through my ability to get things done and done right. It’s by His grace, power and purpose that the work is completed. This is great news to this  Type A personality who quickly fatigues. I can rest in God’s sufficiency for “I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.” 2 Timothy 1:12.

Lord, you are my hiding place and shield. My hope is in the truth of your word, not in my efforts or abilities. I long to love you with my whole heart,  yet know that I get distracted. Holy Spirit, have your way in and through me and let me rest in your all sufficiency. Thank you that your love never lets me go. Amen.

Kathy

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I Kings 21; I Thessalonians 4; Daniel 4; Psalm 108, 109

Jesus Christ summed up the Ten Commandments in two statements, one of which is to love the Lord God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. The other is to love your neighbor as yourself. I wax and wane in my passion to love God even though I never want to leave His side. And I sometimes step back when loving my neighbor is at stake. That is, I have to take a time out to rethink my words, reframe my motivations, and reign in my emotions before asking questions, making and answering requests, or commenting on what others say and do. Years of not getting this right and experience in hurting others or causing chaos in my relationships has heightened my vigilance for preventing problematic encounters, yet nothing can stay my heart and my tongue like the chastisement of God.

As I read I Kings 21:5, 15, I recognized how Ahab was influenced by his wife. Specifically, I relate to my own behaviors that incited my husband to defend me in situations where I needed to humble myself, instead. Like Ahab, I displayed a sullen, pouty face about something that I could not have. In the Old Testament, Ahab’s wife Jezebel, asked, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat not your food?” She then orchestrated the murder of Naboth so that her husband could have Naboth’s vineyard. Like Ahab’s spouse, my husband sought solutions, and sometimes that meant compromising his own righteousness. And what did I do? I did just like Ahab: “So it was when Ahab heard Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” That is, I allowed my husband to do something that I would not, but then was happy to have what I should not.

Isn’t it interesting that in marriages, a spouse can either encourage and inspire or manipulate and blame.

In other situations, trying to love thy neighbor as thyself has left me confused and disappointed. I think I am in good company because even the saints cried out to God in similar situations: Psalm 109:4, 5 records these complaints, “In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for love.”

Yes, I pray, and yes, I want justice. Yet one meaning of justice is “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people,” (https://www.google.com/search). Do I want this just for me or do I love well enough to desire this for all others? I’m afraid my ill will too often highlights the sin of entitlement. Instead of agreeing that others deserve happiness, I speak this lie to myself; “I deserve an easier life.” Thus, what naturally pour out of my mouth are words of bitterness, jealousy, and anger. Like I said, experience has taught me this.

Walking with God, the Father, however, has taught me better truths. I now know that I despise inciting or attacking others worse than accepting being sad, frustrated, or afraid. I know that I can praise the Almighty, loving God who is able to confront or defend me, as He sees fit. Daniel 4:37 says, “I…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” I do not have to play the Holy Spirit in another person’s life; my task is to love God with all my heart, my soul, and my mind; and to love my neighbor as myself.

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 Kings 15; Colossians 2; Ezekiel 45; Psalms 99-101

From a lineage, a choice.

He committed the same sins as his father before him, and he was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been. But for David’s sake, the Lord his God allowed his descendants to continue ruling, shining like a lamp, and he gave Abijam a son to rule after him in Jerusalem. For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite. (1 Kings 15:3-5, NLT)

One does evil in the sight of the Lord, just like his father before him. Another does what pleases the Lord.

When Abijam died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. (1 Kings 15:8, NLT)

11 Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done. (1 Kings 15:11, NLT)

And so it goes. A choice.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7, NLT)

I feel the stretching pull of growing down and building up. Faith that grows strong in truth, a life overflowing in thankfulness.

Lord, I give you praise because I can trust in you. You are good and your faithfulness continues to each generation–great grace. I don’t know what the days hold, but I know who holds them, and I give you thanks now for your sovereignty. In you are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge–help me, oh Lord, to grow down deeper into you and my life to be built on you–my rock and foundation.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66-67

A friend of mine said this past weekend something that stuck: “One of Satan’s tricks is to take what is abnormal and make it appear normal.” That’s sin! That’s the stunt that the he played on Eve, and then Eve on Adam: enter in the death spiral of sin.

Amnon takes what isn’t his at the expense of another. To sin, or trespass means that I cross into a place that wasn’t intended for me. Isn’t that the deadly game I try to play with God, when I sin? I end up where I don’t belong; without God’s grace calling me home, the path leads farther and farther from Him.

I am confronted with God’s question to the house of Israel, “Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your ancestors and go astray after their detestable things?” Ezekiel 20:32Am I going to turn away from God and seek those things which will never satisfy? Will I turn away from God’s view of normal to chase the abnormal and dysfunctional? Will I seek material comfort and temporary illusions of security at the expense of the one who made me to know and enjoy Him?

It’s from the Word of God that I learn what is real, true, “normal.” The Psalmist understands this. He has experienced pain and suffering but has known restoration. He has felt trapped and been without vision but learned that God is faithful:  “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.” Psalm 66:10-12.

Paul and his fellow believers have been there as well; “but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way; through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beating, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”2 Corinthians 6:4-5.  How did they respond? “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:6Only in God’s world, his Kingdom is such a response normal, much less possible, but that is the Kingdom where my citizenship lies.

Holy Spirit, help me to keep sight of what is “normal,” and to be obedient. When I go through difficult times, by your power, work your purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness, and genuine love deep into my being. Let me speak only that which is sincere and true. Provide the faith needed to keep my eyes on you. It’s by your grace and mercy that I ask these things.  Amen.

Kathy

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