Tag Archives: Unity

2 Samuel 20; 2 Corinthians 13; Ezekiel 27; Psalm 75, 76

This year I’ve worked really hard to examine my actions and my values. Did the one give support and evidence to the other? What guiding principles would help me to support those values? It’s not always so clear. It’s even harder, especially in storms under stress, if you don’t have a plan of action.

Sheba was a known troublemaker. He didn’t work for peace or unity. He passionately moved others to follow his example.

There happened to be a troublemaker there named Sheba son of Bicri, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. Sheba blew a ram’s horn and began to chant:

“Down with the dynasty of David!
    We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Come on, you men of Israel,
    back to your homes!”

So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed with their king and escorted him from the Jordan River to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 20:1-2, NLT)

Do I follow the crowd? Do the people in my feeds and in my life lead me closer to the values I want to stand for, or do they lead me away? How do these influencers affect my heart and my choices?

If I’m clear on my values, my purpose, my goal, then perhaps I can save myself collateral damage from passions or impulses.

16 But a wise woman in the town called out to Joab, “Listen to me, Joab. Come over here so I can talk to you.” 17 As he approached, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?”

“I am,” he replied.

So she said, “Listen carefully to your servant.”

“I’m listening,” he said.

18 Then she continued, “There used to be a saying, ‘If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the town of Abel.’ 19 I am one who is peace loving and faithful in Israel. But you are destroying an important town in Israel. Why do you want to devour what belongs to the Lord?”

20 And Joab replied, “Believe me, I don’t want to devour or destroy your town! 21 That’s not my purpose. All I want is a man named Sheba son of Bicri from the hill country of Ephraim, who has revolted against King David. If you hand over this one man to me, I will leave the town in peace.”

“All right,” the woman replied, “we will throw his head over the wall to you.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the ram’s horn and called his troops back from the attack. They all returned to their homes, and Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 20:16-22, NLT, emphasis added)

Sheba was a known troublemaker. But this woman of influence is only referenced as wise–and she knows herself as peace loving and faithful. Both she and Sheba have and live by their values, and both will bear fruit (results) by their choices.

But what got me most in today’s readings was the image of Tyre, like a grand and beautiful ship–known, prosperous, elegant, thriving. The reading of it gets better and grander as I follow–with so much going for it, what could go wrong?

26 “But look! Your oarsmen
    have taken you into stormy seas!
A mighty eastern gale
    has wrecked you in the heart of the sea!
27 Everything is lost—
    your riches and wares,
your sailors and pilots,
    your ship builders, merchants, and warriors.
On the day of your ruin,
    everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea. (Ezekiel 27:26-27, NLT)

Your oarsmen have taken you into stormy seas. It’s important to be aware of what influences me. Is it leading me on a fruitful path or taking me to destruction? Do my friendships really lead me closer to my goals and values? Do my thoughts really support what I value? Do my actions bear good fruit or bad fruit? Are my oarsmen leading me into stormy seas? Be aware.

Paul really wanted to influence the Corinthians for the better. Do I have friends like that–who speak truth, hope, encouragement into my life? If they saw me headed into stormy waters, would stand by and watch me go? Would they be like the oarsmen and hasten my fall? Or would they reason with me because they value the destiny of my heart over their own comfort?

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority.

We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature. (2 Corinthians 13:5-9, NLT)

Lord, you send me a brother in Paul through the pages of your word.

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11, NLT)

Father God, I pray to be discerning in my influences–those people and things that feed my thoughts–because I am an influencer too in my home. Help me to get clear on how to support the things I value.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 19; 1 Corinthians 1; Lamentations 4; Psalm 35

When I read these scriptures, there are issues then that still happen today, and I mourn.

I mourn Saul who was given title and responsibility, but whose heart was choked by jealousy, insecurity, anger, pride. God, give me kingdom vision to elevate others and work in unison. I delight in your work, and I value and encourage others. Guard my heart against comparison and resentment.

The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. “The king must not sin against his servant David,” Jonathan said. “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the Lord brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!” (1 Samuel 19:4-5, NLT)

I mourn David who was serving, talented, strong, chosen–and hated for it all. God, an enemy whispers, guilts, shames me to be ineffective, small, afraid. Help me live life freely for your glory, to be who you’ve called me to be, even when faced by a foe who wants to shut me up and take me down.

O Lord, oppose those who oppose me.
    Fight those who fight against me.
Put on your armor, and take up your shield.
    Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.
Lift up your spear and javelin
    against those who pursue me.
Let me hear you say,
    “I will give you victory!”
Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me;
    turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me.
Blow them away like chaff in the wind—
    a wind sent by the angel of the Lord.
Make their path dark and slippery,
    with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
    I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.
So let sudden ruin come upon them!
    Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
    Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me. (Psalm 35:1-8, NLT)

I mourn the before-and-after contrast in Lamentations. When the life one knows is stripped away–who do we become when pressures weight? Lord, when the life I knew is suddenly changed, help me to mature and grow in the season. Challenges show me who I am at heart, and who you are always. May I always seek you.

Our princes once glowed with health—
    brighter than snow, whiter than milk.
Their faces were as ruddy as rubies,
    their appearance like fine jewels.

But now their faces are blacker than soot.
    No one recognizes them in the streets.
Their skin sticks to their bones;
    it is as dry and hard as wood. (Lamentations 4:7-8, NLT)

I mourn the splintering of community. Oh, Lord, help me to see beyond the temporary to keep my eyes on the eternal. I bring the narrative to you–show me what is true and right. Divisions are diversions on the path–help me to stay the course, eyes on you.

10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. (1 Corinthians 1:10-11, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 35; John 14; Proverbs 11; Ephesians 4

Then Moses told people of Israel, “The Lord has specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts.  He is a master craftsmen, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze.  He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood.  He is a master at every craft.  The Lord has given them special skills as engravers, designers, embroiders in blue, purple, and scarlet thread on fine linen cloth, and weavers.  They excel as craftsmen and as designers.” Exodus 35:30-35 NLT

There are times I doubt my calling as an artist.  It is encouraging to know that the Lord chose Bezalel and others for these specific purposes.  I think of when I was asked to paint during a worship service at church and I said no for years.  I kept thinking, “Why would an artist, who creates while they are alone, want to stand up in front of people and paint?” I let fear stop me.  But, when I finally stepped out in faith even when I was afraid, God used it to shift my perspective. To show me that it wasn’t about me.  That it was about worshipping him.  One Sunday I had two members of my church tell me that my painting meant something different to each of them.  I was amazed to see how the Spirit was moving in their hearts and mine. I always want to remember how he took that step of obedience and mustard seed faith and multiplied it for his kingdom.  So, that he gets the glory and I don’t think it’s all about me.

“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:2&25 NLT

How am I using my gifts to unify the body of Christ?

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.  Always be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is a one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” Ephesians 4:1-4 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for always being with me. Help me to live a life worthy of your calling.  I praise you for who you are.  I pray that I would look for opportunities to serve others.  Amen.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 44; Mark 14; Job 10; Romans 14

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.  So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.  Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat.  Remember all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble.  You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God.  Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.  But if you have doubts about whether you should eat something, you are sinning, you are sinning if you go ahead with it.  For you are not following your convictions.  If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”  Romans 14:17-23 NLT

Am I being a stumbling block or  helping unity? How often do I judge what someone else is doing, but haven’t looked at my own heart?  It’s not my job to convict, but the Holy Spirits. I am reminded that I need to pray for others, before I open my mouth.  And ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.  Why am I voicing my opinion? Is it to bring the person closer to the Lord. Or will it just push them away?

“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.”  He took Peter, James and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me…Then he returned and found the disciples asleep.  He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.  For the spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Mark 14:32-38 NLT

I can relate to Peter.  Sometimes I ‘fall asleep’ when Jesus has asked me to be alert and pray. I get overwhelmed and burdened. I am more susceptable to temptation.  My mind drifts into old habits or ways of coping that are not giving God glory.

“While he was eating, a woman came with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard.  She broke open the jar and poured perfume over his head.” Mark 14:3 NLT

Lord, I pray that my life would be an offering to you.  That I would hold nothing back from you.  Help me to live with open hands towards you.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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1 Corinthians 14; Psalms 139

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.  You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!  You made the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.”  Psalms 139:1-14 NLT

I sat in the doctor’s office reciting my health history.  Thyroid cancer, acid reflux, anxiety… My 43 years were being summarized by this list on the screen.  I battled against fear and repeated, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” But, do I really believe it?  Has it sunk in enough that I can praise God for how he has made me?  Do I live like I am fully known and loved by Him?

“Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives-especially the ability to prophesy.  For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you.  You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious.  But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. ” 1 Corinthians 14:1-3 NLT

I was ready to go into the auditorium at church when I saw her crying in the hallway.  Another woman was there to comfort her. But should I stay and help? As I read these verses on gifting, I remember, ‘Let love be my highest goal’.  If it truly is, than am I willing to be inconvenienced for the unity of the body?  For some that might mean prophesying or speaking in tongues.  For me that morning it meant noticing someone in need.  Isn’t that what church is really all about anyway?  Showing up for each other and being vulnerable, when it would be easier to come and go unnoticed.

“Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize.  When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said.  But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.” 1 Corinthians 14:26 NLT 

Thank you Father for how you have made me.  That you give me abilities and gifts in the spirit.  I pray that I would use them for you.  Give me discernment and wisdom. Amen.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalms 139:&24 NLT.

Amy(amyctanner)

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