Tag Archives: truth

Isaiah 56-59; Psalm 70; 1 Corinthians 16

I’d never been in the presence of such a warrior. We were talking about life and hard issues, and I shared something that had hurt me deeply that I was still trying to resolve in my mind and heart. She offered to pray for me, and when she did, I felt small and humbled by the things she took to the throne on my behalf–boldly, powerfully. In fact, I almost felt afraid at her great, impassioned petition for vengeance.

Please, God, rescue me!
    Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
May those who try to kill me
    be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
    be turned back in disgrace.
Let them be horrified by their shame,
    for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”
But may all who search for you
    be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
    repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
    O Lord, do not delay. (Psalm 70, NLT)

 

God is so mighty. And her mighty prayer showed me who I’m dealing with. This was many years ago, and I don’t remember the exact words she said (mostly because I was drop-jawed stunned as she said them), but I will never forget that evening. Weeks later I got word of some things that immediately brought this warrior to mind as her prayer was answered. I was awestruck. I couldn’t get my head around it. But that incident became grounds for great trust in God, his might and sovereignty. (As well as the very real power of prayer!) I learned over the years to trust him with the outcome of things that were so much bigger than I was. And I still do.

I read an article recently that left a long impression on me about forgiveness, “Forgiveness means we don’t ignore. We don’t excuse. But we do release the right of vengeance to God without pretending vengeance isn’t right” (True Woman, Haley Mullins, 9/4/18). God is just. He is judge. I take the wounds and hurts and offer them to him, to free my heart–because it is the wellspring of my life.

The Lord looked and was displeased
    to find there was no justice.
16 He was amazed to see that no one intervened
    to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
    and his justice sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his body armor
    and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.
He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18 He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.
    His fury will fall on his foes.
    He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19 In the west, people will respect the name of the Lord;
    in the east, they will glorify him.
For he will come like a raging flood tide
    driven by the breath of the Lord.

20 “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
    to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,”
    says the Lord.

21 “And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Isaiah 59:15-21, NLT)

When I’m taking a walk, I notice the size of the trees, trees that seem so big when I stand beside them, but look so small compared to the backdrop of the heavens–and I am so much smaller, a young child is smaller still.

Oh, Lord, how is it you notice me? I am so grateful. That of everything under your watch, you see me and you care for my heart. You value truth and what is right, and it is worth fighting for. You give me hope. What a precious gift.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Psalm 67; 1 Corinthians 9

After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. (2 Chron. 32:1)

This past eighteen months have been a struggle for me—to say the least. I entitle this chapter of my life, “The Great Depression.” Before that time, I was going along with life, serving God where he placed me. I was happy and thought I was doing just fine. But I noticed I was finding less and less joy in life. Something was eating at me. Clinging to my faith, I shrugged it off with bible verses and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God and all He has done in my life. Then my brother died. That was it. I was done. I went into a spiral downward.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said. (2 Chron 32:7-8) NIV

I “fought the good fight” for a while but it felt like a vast army was marching against me. All the lies of the enemy, all the shame from my choices, and all the losses from my past were trying to take me under. I still had to work, I still had to live my life. But that isn’t what I wanted to do. Every day was a struggle to get out of bed, to put on my “happy face” and go out into the world. I was going through the motions of living life but inside I was an empty shell. I was building walls around my heart until I felt convicted by God that I was even building walls against Him. I knew there was a greater power in me and I cried out to Him.

10 “This is what Sennacherib king of Assyria says: On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege? 11 When Hezekiah says, ‘The Lord our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria,’ he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst.

15 Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!”

18 Then they called out in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to terrify them and make them afraid in order to capture the city.

Oh my! Our enemy is good at throwing everything we’ve ever done back at us. I have long since repented of so much of my life that happened before I knew Jesus. But at that time, in that state of mind, his voice was so much louder than God’s. I was in full-fledged battle. Until I got to the other side, I didn’t even realize it! His lies are so subtle and they try to twist God’s promises. The words I heard were spoken in my own language:  “loser, loner, failure; you’ll never change, there’s no way you’ll ever stop that habit”. When you feel there is no hope, that is when fear sets in! However, we know that perfect love casts out fear.  And Perfect Love dwells within me.

20 King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword.

22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them[c] on every side.

God answered my prayer and saved me from my own “Sennacherib”. He sent me to a wonderful Christian therapist. Together we called upon the Holy Spirit to guide us on our journey to Truth. We had strongholds to break, lies to replace with God’s truth, people to forgive, and acceptance that God truly loves me. In fact, He gave me a new name—“Dearly Loved”.

He used this depression to take me to a deeper place of trust in Him. I have been praying for years for His healing of deep wounds and in His perfect timing He allowed it to show me the places I had shut off to Him. Those deep wounds were causing anxiety that I did not understand but He has since revealed. We are not finished our work yet but I can honestly say the depression has gone and the fog has cleared from my head. It has certainly given me an understanding of the battle people face and I am sure He will bring people into my life to encourage with the truths He has taught me.

16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor 9:16) NIV

LORD, I am so grateful to you for hearing my cry for help. You are so patient with me and have allowed me to work through so many deep wounds at my own pace. You replaced lies with truth, mourning with joy, and anxiety with peace. You have been my Father, my Protector, my Teacher, my Comforter, and my Friend. I know I am dearly loved by You! Give me the strength to continue this journey. In Jesus precious name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Kings 9-10; Psalm 49; Matthew 7

 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matt 7:6) NIV

The thing about wisdom is you have to experience life, and a lot of making mistakes or getting things right, to gain it. Studying scripture over the years–the more you read it and the more you experience life following its teachings–can give you a deeper understanding of the meanings of Jesus’ words.  Sometimes it just speaks to you at a particular season of life when God is teaching you. Right now, my small group is studying the book of Genesis. It is a book with which I am fairly familiar. Yet chapter 3, the entrance of sin into the world, has spoken to me quite profoundly this time. The shame and blame that were the first fruits of sin are lessons God is using as we are working through some issues together. They have to do with people who have had influence over me throughout my life. Some of the verses in today’s readings spoke to me of warnings God has given us that there are people who don’t have our best interests at heart.

In a lot of ways, I have gone through life as a naive child. There are people who have come into my life that I have trusted, and entrusted, with pieces of me that are sacred. My hopes, my dreams, even the things I am most ashamed to admit are pieces of me that are sacred. There have been occasions when I experienced those parts of me that are sacred being trampled on and used to tear me to pieces. I did not have the wisdom to understand Jesus’ words.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from his thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matt 7:15-20) NIV

I did not always know how to recognize the “false prophets” I encounter. Their sheep’s clothing can be pretty convincing. Even in a church environment, it is sometimes difficult to tell what kind of “fruit” they bear. Some of the most beautiful plants have fruit that is poisonous to eat if we aren’t familiar with the plants. I have had to learn to trust God’s leading and the Holy Spirit’s promptings when new people enter my sphere of influence. It is okay to be friends with them, but they are not people I should take advice from or share my heart (those places that can be wounded). Being a small group leader for women’s bible studies has given me occasion to come in contact with a lot of women. With some, I immediately experience a heart bond; others have elicited a “danger, danger” response. I’ve actually had to speak to church leadership as I found myself questioning their beliefs as they shared in group. I wanted to make sure I understood what I thought to be the Truth was actually the Truth.  Their words have reminded me that while something might be true, it is not necessarily the Truth (as we saw in Genesis). We always need to be in close connection with God when we are out in the world and very careful not to lead others in a way that doesn’t align with His Word.

Luckily, I have a God I can trust with every part of me. I don’t need to hold anything back from Him! He guides me down the path of righteousness, steers me away from anything that might harm me, and heals the places others have wounded. Experience has shown me I can trust His Spirit will prompt me when something is not quite right.

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. (Ps 49:15) NIV

I am not always going to get it right. As a woman who has been greatly healed by God, I tend to share some of those stories of his redeeming work in my life that involve tender places. The thing is, someone can twist those words any which way they choose and it can’t hurt me. I know what He has done in me and for me. I also know I can go to Him when I have chosen poorly with whom to share. He will bind up those wounds and send me back out to keep fighting the good fight.

Heavenly Father, I know there are wolves out there ready to devour me and many others. I ask to be able to recognize them for my own safety and the safety of those you have placed under my care. Continue to guide us in your Truth so we will not be deceived. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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2 Kings 2-3; Psalm 48; Matthew 4

The view outside of my front window is of one large shade garden. There are several gardens in our yard, and most of them now are dominated by weeds. Last year, losses and crises took my attention from home to urgent issues. And this year, I’ve had to examine areas of my life and focus small first to nurture things that have been neglected–the garden is certainly symbolic of that.

This morning, I head out to the big garden with gloves and clippers to try to take back what two growing seasons have taken over. I read in 2 Kings 3 of armies in the wilderness: “The king of Edom and his troops joined them, and all three armies traveled along a roundabout route through the wilderness for seven days. But there was no water for the men or their animals (2 Kings 3:9, NLT).

They called on Elisha who explained, “This is what the Lord says: This dry valley will be filled with pools of water! 17 You will see neither wind nor rain, says the Lord, but this valley will be filled with water. You will have plenty for yourselves and your cattle and other animals. 18 But this is only a simple thing for the Lord, for he will make you victorious over the army of Moab! 19 You will conquer the best of their towns, even the fortified ones. You will cut down all their good trees, stop up all their springs, and ruin all their good land with stones.”

20 The next day at about the time when the morning sacrifice was offered, water suddenly appeared! It was flowing from the direction of Edom, and soon there was water everywhere (2 Kings 3:16-20, NLT).

In Matthew, Jesus is tempted by Satan–to satisfy himself, to prove himself, to exalt himself. Jesus responds to each offer with scripture. I think on this now, because whether it’s temptation (to take things into my own hands, to prove myself, to be in charge) or accusation, an enemy’s motives always reveal an intention to kill, steal, or destroy. It could be the unseen things like peace or faith, or it could be very visible–relationships, possessions, jobs … even gardens.

Dawn breaks. I won’t get to all the garden spaces today, but I ready myself to tackle both the unseen and the visible. I think long on scriptures I know that tell of who God is, and remind me of who I am because of Him, in Him.

13 Take note of the fortified walls,
    and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
    to future generations.
14 For that is what God is like.
    He is our God forever and ever,
    and he will guide us until we die. (Psalm 48:13-14, NLT)

Lord, an enemy is bent on stealing and destroying–and already so much is wounded or broken by lies, grief, evil. When I look at the destruction, I linger in the loss and am weak. Lord, I look to you, to what you can do, to the valley you will fill with water.

Courtney (66books365)

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Song of Solomon 7-8; Psalm 127; 2 Thessalonians 2

I wonder if I asked ten people, “What is the greatest thing you could give? What is the greatest thing you could receive?” What would the answer be?

For love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire,
    the brightest kind of flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
    nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
    with all his wealth,
    his offer would be utterly scorned. (Song of Solomon 8:6b-7, NLT)

When imagining an end goal, designing a path to take, getting swept into sweet daydreams, what are the things that shape the journey and define the destination? I heard it recently on an audiobook about focus: one can spend his whole life building something to later realize his ladder was propped against the wrong wall.

A whole life.

Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
    from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
    for God gives rest to his loved ones. (Psalm 127:1-2, NLT)

Time, talent, treasure–where is it spent? How is it used? What does it speak about you? These are things we are each given in different measures. And whether intended or not, how each is used will speak of our heart, either during our lifetime, or in the memories we leave behind.

2 Thessalonians 2 tells of the man of lawlessness, a great deceiver, who will exalt himself and “use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. 11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12, NLT)

I don’t want to live deceived. Lord, I keep my eyes on you. Help me to align my time, talent and treasure with a kingdom focus.

11 Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-hamon,
    which he leases out to tenant farmers.
Each of them pays a thousand pieces of silver
    for harvesting its fruit.
12 But my vineyard is mine to give,
    and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver.
But I will give two hundred pieces
    to those who care for its vines. (Song of Solomon 8:11-12, NLT)

Grateful for your word, your love, your guidance, Lord.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessalonians 2

I’ve been reading a lot of books on purpose, goals, time management, and boundaries. Cramming, almost, like there’s a big test coming up. A book on purpose suggested one craft a mission statement–pick your purpose. A memory spoke up from my mind, and I googled: What is man’s purpose? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Words standing out to me in today’s reading: approved, entrusted, purpose, motives.

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4, NLT. Emphasis added.)

I lay all the challenges at the feet of the Lord, and I wonder and pray. What is the next right thing? What is the next loving thing? The answers could vary greatly depending on whom I’m trying to please.

Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. 10 You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. 11 And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12, NLT)

Father God, you’ve entrusted me with time, talent, and treasure. As your child I know that I am loved by you, faults and all. And in my love for you, I want to live my life in a way that pleases and glorifies you. I pray for wisdom, understanding, direction, and strength in difficult circumstances. I trust in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 11-13; Psalm 8; Romans 13

The prompts were simple: What are you saying no to next month? What are you saying yes to?

Depending on the end goal, an answer could be no to donuts, busyness, or, as I chose, fear. One might say yes to exercise, moderation, or, as I chose, presence. It was a simple prompt. I looked over months of these prompts and I found I was saying no to a lot of things, including: fear, negativity, excuses. And yes to more, including presence, preparation, and discipline.

It seemed important to define the things I was rejecting and the things I was accepting. I think we can accept things we should reject without even realizing it. With three chapters of Proverbs in my reading today, a contrast is clear.

19 Truthful words stand the test of time,
    but lies are soon exposed.

20 Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil;
    joy fills hearts that are planning peace!

25 Worry weighs a person down;
    an encouraging word cheers a person up.

26 The godly give good advice to their friends;
    the wicked lead them astray. Proverbs 12:19, 20, 25, 26, NLT)

 

Here, wisdom and folly stand on opposite sides of the line. The choice is for the taking: truth or lies, deceit and evil or joy and peace, worry or encouragement, godly friends or wicked ones.

There’s a saying “You become like the five people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.”

20 Walk with the wise and become wise;
    associate with fools and get in trouble. (Proverbs 13:20, NLT)

This year I’ve had frequent reminders to guard my heart. Guard it against what I allow to grow inside it. Guard it diligently regarding the external influences and circumstances around me.

Lord, sometimes circumstance muddles simple questions–what am I accepting, what am I rejecting? I spend time there, knowing those answers affect my heart and the issues of life. Thank you for your word for instruction and encouragement. Thank you for never leaving me (and the many treasured ways you show your love to me). Thank you for the sweet gift of good friends.

Courtney (66books365)

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