Tag Archives: truth

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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Jeremiah 8-10; 2 Corinthians 11

If I were to sum up a theme in these readings, it would be a warning about false teachings.

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. (2 Corinthians 11:4, NLT)

What of the false teacher? What is deceit’s disguise?

14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, NLT)

A deceiver knows how to disguise and hide. Some disguised themselves as apostles of Christ. That’s tricky. Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. We are told this for a reason. Bad intentions can sport good appearances.

But what of truth? Shouldn’t truth have an easy road? After all, it is right and pure. If Paul’s story is any example of trying to bring truth to light, that road is far from comfortable. For example, he:

  • worked harder
  • was put in prison more often
  • was whipped times without number
  • faced death again and again
  • 5 different times the Jewish leaders gave him 39 lashes
  • 3 times he was beaten with rods
  • he was stoned
  • 3 times he was shipwrecked
  • he spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea
  • he traveled on many long journeys
  • he faced danger from rivers
  • he faced danger from from robbers
  • he faced danger from his own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles
  • he faced danger in the cities, and in the deserts, and on the seas
  • he faced danger from men who claimed to be believers but were not
  • he worked hard and long
  • he endured many sleepless nights
  • he was hungry and thirsty
  • he often went without food
  • he shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep him warm (from 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27, NLT)

I read the account again, and this time, I imagine standing next to him. Working. Whipped. Shipwrecked. Facing danger–again and again. Exhausted. Hungry. Thirsty. Cold. And when I read it again, I look into the eyes of other prisoners, assailants holding whips and rocks, intimidating authorities, forceful robbers, a shunning community, even the ones who claimed to be believers. Paul’s not telling a passing story of what he did over the weekend. He’s telling a story of how he faced the extreme pressure to abandon the truth and abolish his faith.

I am ever more grateful for these words in my hands. Grateful for all the people who came before me, speaking and preserving truth, so that I could know Jesus and live. I will never know all that it cost them. But I know if they hadn’t persevered, my ignorance would have cost me my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6

I took a Saturday self-defense workshop recently. I learned a lot (I’ve forgotten a lot, too!). Our group had hands-on practice and drills. At the end of the session, we formed a circle, and one by one, each of us took a turn in the center to “battle” those of us forming the outside ring with kicks and punches. It was a simulation of a situation where one stood against several. The instructor had a way of encouraging us to take action when we hesitated. He bellowed loudly, forcefully, and commanded, “GO!”

I think on moments in life when I had felt uncertainty, fear, hesitation, intimidation. Moments (at a table instead of encircled in an alley) where I had to face a foe–whether human or situational: to take on a responsibility, to address a conflict, to speak truth, to be accountable. In some of the most stressful moments of my life, I can practically guarantee that I wouldn’t have wanted to be there. But want or not, there I was.

Paul found himself in situations I could only describe as outrageous. How many times had he stared death in the eye? How many times did he go head-to-head with evil? He spoke from experience and reality. I read his words in The Message:

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

11-13 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (2 Corinthians 6:1-13, MSG)

Paul didn’t waste words. There’s a lot he wanted to share, and his message is concise and urgent.

Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, MSG)

Lord, help me to carry your word with me every day of the week.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 20-22; 1 Corinthians 2

One of my kids is caring for animals at a nearby farm this week. She loves animals and has always had a dreamer’s impression of what farm life would be like–harmonious, lovely, routine. But this week with hot and humid summer temperatures, buzzing flies, and work that leaves her sweaty, tired and achy has shown her a different perspective. She comes to my car dirty, disheveled, smelly, exhausted. The next day, she awakens with aches as her body remembers. Anne of Green Gables meets The Hunger Games, and the arena doesn’t seem anything like you imagined when you’re finally in it.

When I read through Isaiah 20-22, instead of consuming words while I drink my coffee, I step into the horror. In my NLT, each section begins with a subtitle “A message about …” and a city is listed. In A message about Egypt and Ethiopia:

Then the Lord said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign—a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia. For the king of Assyria will take away the Egyptians and Ethiopians as prisoners. He will make them walk naked and barefoot, both young and old, their buttocks bared, to the shame of Egypt. Then the Philistines will be thrown into panic, for they counted on the power of Ethiopia and boasted of their allies in Egypt! They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have? We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.’” (Isaiah 20:3-6, NLT)

Or in A message about Babylon:

My stomach aches and burns with pain. Sharp pangs of anguish are upon me, like those of a woman in labor. I grow faint when I hear what God is planning; I am too afraid to look. My mind reels and my heart races. I longed for evening to come, but now I am terrified of the dark.

Look! They are preparing a great feast. They are spreading rugs for people to sit on. Everyone is eating and drinking.
But quick! Grab your shields and prepare for battle. You are being attacked! (Isaiah 21:3-5, NLT)

In A Message about Jerusalem:

You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem.
    You store up water in the lower pool.
10 You survey the houses and tear some down
    for stone to strengthen the walls.
11 Between the city walls, you build a reservoir
    for water from the old pool.
But you never ask for help from the One who did all this.
    You never considered the One who planned this long ago
.

12 At that time the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    called you to weep and mourn.
He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins
    and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse.
13 But instead, you dance and play;
    you slaughter cattle and kill sheep.
    You feast on meat and drink wine.
You say, “Let’s feast and drink,
    for tomorrow we die!” (Isaiah 22:9-13, NLT, emphasis added)

In the New Testament, Paul’s words begin with the subheading Paul’s Message of Wisdom. These readings, all messages to the reader.

Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. (1 Corinthians 2:6-8, NLT, emphasis added)

I reflect on these readings and the underscoring of God’s sovereignty and plan. And like farm life, it’s more comfortable to read about war, choices, nations from the ease of my couch than it is to personalize a message. What if I stood before God’s judgment? What if I didn’t ask for help from the One who planned all this long ago? What if I didn’t understand?

13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. 14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For,

“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
    Who knows enough to teach him?”

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:13-16, NLT)

Lord, I don’t want to do life apart from you. I’m thankful for reminders that you are sovereign and you desire true relationship with me. Your word puts it out there for me–warning, wisdom, guidance, truth. You make known what you want. Help me to understand.

Courtney (66books365)

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Amos 7-9; Matthew 15

The Sovereign Lord showed me a vision … the chapters open and Amos shares what he saw. And I notice an intimacy between Amos and the Lord. The Lord shows him things. The Lord speaks to him and with him, “Amos, what do you see?”

***

12 Then Amaziah sent orders to Amos: “Get out of here, you prophet! Go on back to the land of Judah, and earn your living by prophesying there! 13 Don’t bother us with your prophecies here in Bethel. This is the king’s sanctuary and the national place of worship!”

14 But Amos replied, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’ 16 Now then, listen to this message from the Lord …” (Amos 7:12-16, NLT)

Amos was just a regular guy, going to work, but the Lord called him with a special job, with a word that others didn’t want to hear. They told him, “Get out. Don’t bother us. This is not the place for that.”

***

I get an insight into the minds of Jesus’s followers, his disciples.

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” (Matthew 15:12, NLT)

Or regarding the Gentile woman …

23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

(… I imagine Jesus taking the stance the disciples would have at this time … sorry, you’re not one of us, no blessing for you, no time for you … did they see themselves in this interaction?)

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

( … We are the children, and you aren’t. You’re not worthy …)

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed. (Matthew 15:23-28, NLT, emphasis added)

The message behind the words Jesus speaks seems to demonstrate the attitudes the disciples felt. They were bothered by her. She was not one of them. She wasn’t worthy. “Make her go away.”

When Jesus walked this earth, he spoke honestly into situations, made people uncomfortable, offended, but spoke the truth. He showed his followers how to be merciful and honest, how to heal and feed. His words still exhort.

***

I was at the county fair the other day with my youngest. We were on our way to see the chicken exhibit. We walked past a woman who was leaving her booth, and I stopped to chat her briefly. We talked on a superficial topic when suddenly she looked at me and spoke purposefully, and her words filled my every space of my heart.

“God had us meet today on purpose,” she said as we shook hands and parted. And I left feeling encouraged and strong and relieved. I was refreshed by her honesty and bravery to speak a truth to me, a stranger.

***

Lord, you called Amos from his job with a word and a task, and he was obedient. I am grateful for truth. I am grateful for people who are brave and obedient. Thank you, Lord, for your word and your example and your great love.

Courtney (66books365)

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