Tag Archives: truth

Judges 19-21; Acts 2

Recently a friend and I sat in somber reflection at the power of influence. Influence can be an unintentional bump, a gentle nudge, or a fierce force sending one in a direction or on a path, for better or worse. And when influence gathers a following, it is its own entity.

There’s a sense of foreboding when a couple rests at the town square.

18 “We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I’m returning home. But no one has taken us in for the night, 19 even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.”

20 “You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.” (Judges 19:18-20, NLT)

While they were dining as guests in the old man’s house …

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.” (Judges 19:22, NLT)

I pause at this crowd. Would one man have acted this way on his own? To be so bold as to make demands and intimidate? Would two men have done this? But one’s idea catches fire to a crowd, and they arrive at this place and collectively terrorize a victim–the concubine.

27 When her husband opened the door to leave, there lay his concubine with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said, “Get up! Let’s go!” But there was no answer. So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.

29 When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine’s body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.

30 Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?” (Judges 19:27-30, NLT)

Not succumbing to poor influences is a starting point, and it may keep one out of the mix. But this seizes me: everyone who saw it (admitted it was a horrible crime, recognized it for the abuse it was, was aware of the oppressive force) … who’s going to speak up?

I can take those words and apply them today to any number of things: from bullying, domestic issues, and social ostracizing to violence, injustice, or oppression.

I contrast this with the fire of the Holy Spirit that comes upon the group in Acts 2. A group is witness to the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, and still, they write it off to something they can understand instead of seeing it for divine truth in action.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” (Acts 2:13, NLT)

Another crowd. Ridicule. But there are some who see the truth, and their hearts are pierced.

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” (Acts 2:37-40, NLT)

Father God, the Holy Spirit is a gift, a promise. Help me to heed your counsel. Whether one-to-one or in a group, please give me wisdom and courage to do what is right and honor you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 9-13; Luke 16

I imagine the energy, the confidence, the awe of Old Testament days–from walking with God in the garden, to experiencing God’s might through the plagues, to walking through parted waters. I imagine the rush of knowing that if God said he’d deliver, he would do it–a soaring hope, a battle cry. How could one doubt God’s majesty in the midst of all that?

I think of the disciples and wonder how it must have felt to walk with Jesus. The miracles they saw. The lessons they learned. The healing they witnessed. Wouldn’t that have been so convincing–and for many it was.

Jesus speaks:

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:27-31, NLT)

I’m reading through a roundabout recommendation Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey that has completely flipped my perspective, just halfway through.

Today, I mentally stand on a battlefield watching Joshua and the Israelites in Joshua 9-13, and great emotion wells within me. God was with them.

I read through Luke 16 and Jesus’s story of the rich man and Lazarus–Jesus, God with them.

It’s easy to think that faith would be firm and resolute if one had witnessed Old Testament presence or New Testament flesh. But I have at my disposal the very word of God. I read those words of a long-ago time. I am comforted by the Lord. I am surprised by the Lord. I am reminded of his very real presence. I hold tightly to truth.

14 So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord. (Joshua 9:14, NLT)

Lord, when the world displays its evidence before me, may I consult you first and always.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 23-26; Luke 11

When I finished talking, she asked me, “But what does God say about you?” I knew the intellectual response. But when I held his words in my hand, why did it feel like the weight of circumstance felt heavier? When God knows my history, my thoughts, my heart, my dreams, why couldn’t his word weigh more?

“But the Lord your God refused to listen to Balaam. He turned the intended curse into a blessing because the Lord your God loves you.” (Deuteronomy 23:5, NLT)

When I know where I came from and who I should have been, I can see the Lord’s saving hand in my life. This remembrance shows me his great love and mercy. He is so kind. And I am so grateful.

“Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from slavery.” (Deuteronomy 24:18, NLT)

Why couldn’t his word weigh more?

16 “Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. 17 You have declared today that the Lord is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. 18 The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. 19 And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19, NLT)

Because I wasn’t focused on it. I focused on opinions of people whose minds were already made up. I focused on perception that took in only fragments instead of the whole. I gave weight to those whose hearts weren’t for me, were riddled with pockets of darkness. And when my focus was there, no wonder the weight was heavy.

34 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. 35 Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. 36 If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Luke 11:34-36, NLT)

The Lord reminds me to be persistent in prayer. Keep on asking, seeking, knocking. I know this prayer by heart, but I write it out in a new translation. I write it out by hand.

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
    May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4, NLT)

Keep on.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 26-27; Mark 10

I wonder, when the rich man approached Jesus to ask him how he could secure eternal life, if he thought Jesus would size him up, consult a list, pat him on the back and say, “You met all the requirements. You’ve got this!”

It’s evident from this man’s response to what Jesus said that he didn’t expect to fall short.

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10:20-22, NLT)

Even when the disciples were with Jesus, they didn’t fully understand the things he told them as he walked with them and ate with them. When I read the Bible, most of these stories have already resolved, so when Jesus tells them exactly what’s going to happen, I know it to be true. But even to them, in his presence, they didn’t get it.

32 They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him. 33 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. 34 They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.” (Mark 10:32-34, NLT)

It’s not long after he reminds them of what is coming that James and John (the sons of Zebedee) ask him for places of honor in his kingdom.

A rich man. A reminder. A request.

26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.

29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (Mark 10:26-31, NLT)

Lord, just like you told the disciples, you let me know what you want me to know. In hindsight, it’s very clear, but walking it out, it’s just as easy for me to jump to a better ending than to focus on the journey there. Help me to learn and to teach my children to seek you and your kingdom, to revere your word, and to put you above all else. Help me to face obstacles with grace and courage and confidence because you told me they’d be coming.

Courtney (66books365)


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2 Chronicles 29; Revelation 15; Zechariah 11; John 14

I chose the word “value” as my word for the year. I think of how my thoughts, perceptions, and actions were influenced by it. I noticed that even though I may value the same things as other people, our approaches to (and even definitions of) things/concepts valued were sometimes very different.

Last week, I read about a coming battle (2 Chronicles 20:13-17), and while the Lord fully intended to fight that battle, the warriors were still called to show up and hold their ground. I remember that today as I read Hezekiah admonishing the people:

11 My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.” (2 Chronicles 29:11, NLT)

Then Hezekiah proceeds to call out the men by name. They all set to work with a common goal, and there was rejoicing because the work was completed so quickly.

Jesus tells the disciples,

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (John 14:15-21, NLT)

Lord, thank you for helping me to get clear on what I value. I sit with you now to get clear on my heart. Help me to push past the obstacles that hinder me from obedience and focus. Help me to live and love in action and in truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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