Tag Archives: value

1 Corinthians 15; Psalm 68

This quote comes from a Christian-focus book on perseverance and starting over.

“No one is coming to save you.”

I’ve thought on these words since last September. They scare me. There were likely other messages from the book about accountability and movement, but this is the sentence that stuck hard with me. And the heckler in my head speaks it over me in my lowest times.

I read this next in a book about redeeming lost years from childhood neglect:

“The fact is, you can’t totally trust me or anyone else. When push comes to shove, I’ll probably save [myself] first.”

It stole the breath from my lungs as I considered humanity and sin and that even important-to-you people will put impossible burdens upon shoulders, or flee in the crisis. Can one trust his life to anyone? Ever?

It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place (1 Corinthians 15:2, NLT).

I took the riding mower out to cut the grass. There are many mature trees in our yard, and two oaks in the front yard have large, long, dead limbs. It makes me nervous to ride beneath them for fear they’ll fall on me. That day, I wondered to the Lord, oh, that He would show me a sign of His protection over me: let a tree limb fall after I pass by so I won’t worry about it (and “it” is symbolic of more than a tree limb). I moved on to the field and made several laps around the perimeter, moving a tractor deck’s width inward each lap. Coming down the straightaway, a limb I never noticed lie fallen, dead, long and large, right in the area I had passed by just earlier.

He didn’t drop the limbs I was thinking about. I knew I could count on Him for my soul’s salvation, but could I count on Him to protect me? Especially in times of feeling very targeted, emotionally, physically, would He protect me? He told me then that He’s protecting me from threats I’m not even aware of; I can trust him.

In recent readings, David and Eleazar stood together on the battlefield because all the other men deserted them to an enemy army. They were outnumbered. They should have died. But it was God who gave them the victory.

I tell my kids that truth can handle scrutiny. It doesn’t run from questions or doubts. Truth is not afraid. It doesn’t change itself or hide the evidence to make itself look like something it’s not. Truth doesn’t back down or bully back or threaten. It stands.

34 Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all (1 Corinthians 15:34, NLT).

I am thankful for His Word in my hands, so that I can know Him in these pages (so that I can know Him also in my life). I can look at an impossible story in the Bible, and read of His victory in what should be defeat, see His miracles in the unimaginable.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless (1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT).

He fashions me into His image–with encouragement to be strong! Be engaged! It matters!

19 Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!
   For each day he carries us in his arms.
20 Our God is a God who saves!
   The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death (Psalm 68:19-20, NLT).

I matter.

You matter.

Praise be to God!

I get up and begin again.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms

Jeremiah 50-51; 2 Peter 3

“My people have been lost sheep.

Their shepherds have led them astray

and turned them loose in the mountains.

They have lost their way

and can’t remember how to get back to the sheepfold….

 

But the one who redeems them is strong.

His name is the lord of Heaven’s Armies.

He will defend them

and give them rest again in Israel…

Jeremiah 50:6; 34a

I am learning about identity. Who am I? What is my sense of self?

Often, when thinking about identity, I tend to look first at the roles I take part in – I am a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, a wife, a mother, a friend, etc. Also, I think about my characteristics – I’m honest, caring, compassionate, strong, hungry for learning, loyal, etc. Sometimes I think about the ugly of my past or the sins of my current experience. All of these things make up identity as the world sees it; they are the identifiers that make me different than another person or similar to someone else.

But I am coming to learn that heaven sees me in a different light.

Before I really knew Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I was a lost sheep; I was led astray by the enemy and those that sided with him. Just like the people of Israel, I was turned loose into the wilderness and didn’t know how to find my way back. But my sin didn’t cause the Lord to abandon me, to leave me or forsake me. He was still my God, even though I wasn’t walking by His side. He still called me to come to Him.

“For the lord of Heaven’s Armies

has not abandoned Israel and Judah.

He is still their God,

even though their land was filled with sin

against the Holy One of Israel.” Jeremiah 51:5

The reality is, whether I have full revelation of it or not, that my identity is completely connected to God, as my creator, as my Father.

I am Julie. Who I am is loved by God. I am forgiven and saved. I am valuable and worthy. I am a child of God. I am a daughter of the King. I am called.

Yesappa, Thank You for being strong and full of grace and mercy. Thank You for never abandoning me, even when I was lost. Thank You for calling me out of the darkness into Your arms. Thank you for giving me true identity that neither the circumstances of my life nor the enemy can steal from me. Thank You for giving my life purpose. Help walk out ‘who I am is loved by you’ ever moment of every day; and when I stray from that, pull me back into Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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1 Chronicles 22; 1 Peter 3; Micah 1; Luke 10

It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NCV)

Every day (yes, even in India), I am bombarded with images of male and female models who project what the world values as beautiful. The men are well dressed, muscular, a trace of 5 o’clock shadow, eyes staring dreamily at something on the unseen horizon, a flirty smile on their lips. The women, more often than not, are adolescent girls exposing stick thin figures and ample cleavage in barely-there fashions with come-hither expressions painted on their faces.

The world’s definition of beauty has always left me feeling inadequate, falling just short of the perceived ideal. Even though I did some local modeling while in high school, I still always felt too dumpy, too fat, not enough this, not enough that.

Throughout the years, I have experienced times where I looked at myself and liked what I saw in the mirror. My positive self-esteem strengthened by my understanding that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and being unique is appreciated. I have also experienced times when I was unhappy with my reflection, especially after being a veteran of childbirth. Though I love my daughters immeasurably, getting to know my post-pregnancy body has sometimes been a less than pleasurable encounter.

In the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, Andie (played by Kate Hudson) is going to a gala event with Barry (played by Matthew McConaughey). She steps out of her apartment building in a stunning gold dress, walks to the edge of the steps and turns a 360 in front of Barry who is standing at the bottom of the stairs on the sidewalk. He is awed by her outer beauty.

A few years ago, while I was in the midst of a self-image struggle, God showed me a picture similar to this scene. Dressed in a gorgeous red gown, I walk out of the building, walk to the edge of the step and slowly twirl around. Jesus, standing near the road, looks at me with awe. God whispered in my ear, “You are beautiful. You’re covered in the blood of Christ. You are made perfect in me.”

“Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 (NCV)

Beauty isn’t simply skin deep. It isn’t about how I dress up or accessorize; it isn’t about wearing the latest trends or having the latest hairstyle.

Choosing Jesus made me beautiful. My beauty is found in my character, in my spirit. It originates inside of me and radiates to the outside. Being beautiful is about Christ in me and the fruits produced as a result of our relationship. Being beautiful is about what I do with that harvest.

The beauty the world prizes will fade – aging is inevitable. But, my inner beauty, the beauty that is precious to God and ultimately treasured by those around me, will never be taken away. It will only grow more beautiful because of Jesus.

Yesappa, Thank You for loving me. Thank You for proving my value and worth when You died for me on the cross and covered me with Your blood. Thank You for making me beautiful. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 1 Peter, 66 Books, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Micah, New Testament, Old Testament

2 Kings 25; Hebrews 7; Amos 1; Psalms 144

Lord, why are people important to you?

Why do you even think about human beings?

People are like a breath;

their lives are like passing shadows. Psalm 144:3-4 (NCV)

There are times in my life when I suffer from hopelessness. In those moments, my world as I know it comes crashing down around me, dreams shatter and desires smash. And, like most people, I begin questioning “why”.

When I feel hopeless, I experience a sense of depression. I wonder if I am valuable to anyone, loved by anyone. I start thinking about what could have been, fantasizing about greener grasses. It is easy to listen to the lies of the enemy when I am vulnerable, the whispers of worthlessness, insinuations of rejection.

…Now a better hope has been given to us, and with this hope we can come near to God. Hebrews 7:19b (NCV)

Before I knew Jesus, my hope was based on my aspirations and on my relationships with people who surrounded me. Then, when the Lord revealed Himself, arms wide open, waiting expectantly for me to walk into His embrace, I began to see that my hope needed to be grounded in Christ. I realized the importance of centering my expectations on the Everlasting, Always-Loving God.

…Because Jesus lives forever, he will never stop serving as priest. So he is able always to save those who come to God through him because he always lives, asking God to help them.

Jesus is the kind of high priest we need. He is holy, sinless, pure, not influenced by sinners, and he is raised above the heavens. He is not like the other priests who had to offer sacrifices every day, first for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people. Christ offered his sacrifice only once and for all time when he offered himself. Hebrews 7:24-27 (NCV)

When I put my hope in the fallible things around me, in mutable thoughts of the future I will inevitably be disappointed. When I put my hope in other people – family, friends, and those I don’t even really know – I am often hurt, my heart disillusioned and feeling more lonely than ever.

Happy are those who are like this;

happy are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144:15 (NCV)

But, when I draw near to God, placing my hope in Him, I am able to give thanks in all things. And, when I choose to bless His name, especially when circumstances are challenging, happiness arises from His gift of sufficient grace. I remember my heavenly identity and the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross. I find joy in my salvation. I discover that I’ve become strong despite my weakness and my faith has been fortified.

Yesappa, Thank You for being my hope, my salvation. Thank You for thinking of me and counting me as important, valuable, and worthy of Your Love. Thank you for Your steadfastness and Your grace. Thank you for drawing near to me as I draw near to You. Thank You for Your many blessings over my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Amos, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

1 Samuel 12; Romans 10; Jeremiah 49; Luke 17

I can say this about them: They really try to follow God, but they do not know the right way. Because they did not know the way that God makes people right with him, they tried to make themselves right in their own way. So they did not accept God’s way of making people right. Christ ended the law so that everyone who believes in him may be right with God. Romans 10:2-4 (NCV)

Samuel answered, “Don’t be afraid. It’s true that you did wrong, but don’t turn away from the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart. Idols are of no use, so don’t worship them. They can’t help you or save you. They are useless! For his own sake, the Lord won’t leave his people. Instead, he was pleased to make you his own people…You must honor the Lord and truly serve him with all your heart. Remember the wonderful things he did for you! 1 Samuel 12:20-22; 24 (NCV)

All people in the core of their beings are searching for more. We desire to fill a gap in our lives that nothing in the world can satisfy. All of the things we seek out to satiate the desire for wholeness can never be compared to the fullness that is found in God.

In my own life, though I was raised in a Christian home, I didn’t truly understand what was being offered to me. I thought I was following God because I memorized scripture verses, went to church, to Christian school, I did my ‘obligatory’ Bible studies…I even said a sinner’s prayer, or two.

I used to believe that following God was about the rituals, the stand up, kneel down, stand up, sit down liturgy. I used to think that if I didn’t have a ‘quiet time’, didn’t read my Bible every day, didn’t  a, b, or, c…that God was going to be angry with me, that I was going to end up in hell, after all. I used to feel judged by the ‘big man in the sky’ for every little thing I did, or didn’t do. When I sinned, I figured I wasn’t worthy of His love in the first place, and no matter how hard I tried, I would always be a failure.

But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in him; and before they can believe in him, they must hear about him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them. Romans 10:14 (NCV)

I was searching for that something more, knowing that I felt empty and frustrated that I couldn’t find what I knew was out there.

During a divine encounter, a friend assured me that no matter how long I had been separated from Jesus, all I needed to do was believe. All I needed was to turn around and ‘see’ His arms outstretched, waiting for me to run into them; to trust that His mercies are new every morning.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NCV)

I chose to run toward Him. I chose to believe. I chose to lay my life before the Living God who IS Love and in that moment, I experienced grace. My perception was forever altered, my understanding of relationship with Christ redeemed just as my spirit was restored and my mind was renewed.

Christ is my friend, someone who I want to spend time with and who wants to spend time with me. My bond with Jesus is rooted in freedom, my value established by His sacrifice. Our connection is sealed with joy, jam-packed with love. In my human weakness, I am made strong; in my human failings, I am made perfect. I am in Him and His kingdom is within me.

Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?”

Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.” Luke 17:20-21 (NCV)

Everyone can experience fulfillment in Jesus. Everyone can experience His grace and His mercy. Everyone can experience His love. Will you join me in freedom?

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Jeremiah, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans

Numbers 36; Psalm 80; Isaiah 28; 2 John 1

I didn’t expect to find Jesus in the pages of a book comparing child attachments with peers versus parents pre- and post-World War 2. There was no mention of His name in the chapter discussing the weakness and wounding that takes place when children derive their value and esteem from peers.

In contrast, the parent,

“When the parent is the compass point, it is the messages he or she gives that are relevant. When tragedy and trauma happen, the child looks to the parent for clues whether or not to be concerned. As long as their attachments are safe, the sky could collapse and the world fall apart, but children would be relatively protected from feeling dangerously vulnerable.” Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.

I saw Jesus there, out of context. When I tie my identity to this world, my job, what others think of me, if I am not tethered to or held up by Christ the Cornerstone, I am dangerously vulnerable to weakness and wounding. When Jesus is my compass point, I find Him completely out of (and within) context. He permeates every part of life.

Isaiah writes of the armies of Assyria and Babylonia, but I see Jesus reflected:

So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:    “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.” Isaiah 28:16 (NIV)

When I wonder what the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant” sounds like, I halt at His presence:

“17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
18 Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.

 19 Restore us, LORD God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:17-19 (NIV)

Lord, you are the compass point. You are the One who was and is and yet to come–a sure foundation. (I can stand on you.) You are justice and righteousness, the plumb line. (I can discern what is true or false by holding it up to you.) You are the truth that lives in us and will be with us forever. (Sweet salvation.) I find you out of context and in the least expected places … your reminder and reassurance still that you hold it all together.

Courtney (66books365)

from the archives, originally published May 27, 2011.

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Exodus 23, John 2, Job 41, 2 Corinthians 11

All these Do’s and Do Nots!

 “Who then is able to stand against Me? … Everything under heaven belongs to Me.” Job 41:10-11

 Found at Bible Gateway –   http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ex.%2023;%20John%202;%20Job%2041;%202%20Cor.%2011&version=NIV1984

 All these Do’s and Do Nots! All because You, my LORD, care so much for each person, no matter what their status. You Love the wicked man enough to correct him so he will be Godly, safe, joyous, and not burning under Your eternal wrath. Your heart breaks for people wrongfully treated. You hate lying and cheating! You “will not acquit the guilty.”

             Your warning and promise for me is clear: “Pay attention …Do not rebel… I will be an enemy to your enemies…” v.20-22  You, the All-powerful, send terror and confusion to those who oppose You. I am grateful to be safe because of Your Son’s blood. Your tender side entreats me: Engage in caring for Every person. Lord, grow my trust in Your Ways and my heart in Your compassion. I cannot do it without Your Spirit. Fill me with your Holy Spirit!

             You must be my and my family’s First Love, restfully refreshing ourselves in You every seventh day. Being intimate with You, I may not even speak of false gods! Lord Allmighty, I fear You! You can smite me with a thought. I tremble in awe of You, humbled. Indebted to You because of Jesus’ atonement, I do not take You for granted. You own me! I know that I find pleasure in things that are not of You. Make me aware of my “false gods”. Have me detest them as You do. Reveal the deception of those who flatter, ploy, coming as “angels of light”, wolves in many outfits and sounds. Abundantly give Your True Light to set Your suffering flock free!

             Make me proactively aware of idolatry and ideology that opposes Your Word. Make me intolerant of sin and sinful patterns as You are. Chasten me to keep my righteous boundaries firm to prevent me from being ensnared by sin and depraved. v. 32-33 You placed Your Spirit in me, making my body Your Temple. (1Cor 6:19) Continue to cleanse me. Remind me that You give me far greater and real pleasure when I am in Your Presence!    

             I need You Lord God Almighty like I need breath to live. I cannot live an eternal life without You. I choose to be set apart for You and not yoke or covenant with sinfulness. Cause my country to delight in You, so within our borders will be fresh and clean, and we will see Your Glory 24/7/365. 

             You desire me to joyously celebrate You! Never to come to You empty handed, but to bring You my best, not perfection, but just my all. That is how You are for me! You Joyously Celebrate over me! You serve me the Best! You know my needs thoroughly. You miraculously saved me from Hell by Your greatest Gift, Jesus. Yet Your Love-Gifts never end.  

             Someone came to our home to sell us a set of VERY expensive knives a few years ago. My old set was well cared for and did a good job, they noticed. But You showed me that their tools were far superior! I could make one cut and the job was done. Life would be faster, more accurate, and easier with these tools. But You “told” me that it wasn’t safe to have a set of sharp knives in my home yet. Again, this summer I saw excellent knives. I asked You, “Can I have them?” and quickly added, “I don’t want to spend Your money on what I don’t really need. What I have is still useable.”    You shocked me Jesus. On Christmas Day, under the tree, were the Best set of knives. A salesman gave them to my husband, who gave them to me, for me to serve others~~!! Oh Joy!! You know the minutest desires of my heart. Frivolous, yet valuable to You. – And I learned a lesson by it – Tools are Very Important, especially when in the Hand of the Master. Make me a Great knife in Your Hand, please!! Make me skilled with Your Sword of the Spirit!! Let me not be a clunker, bashing the meat, pulverizing the tomato… but instead, sharp and direct, causing little destruction yet bearing great fruit for You! Please Lord?!

             The leviathan~ I rejoice in Your creativity and power! I delight in your Brilliant Intelligence! I burst with Joy for Who You are and what You do!! You created and know this beast; his emotions, capabilities, and those of his enemies! How much better must you understand, love and think about me? Your child, one made in Your Image. I must pursue thinking this way rather than discounting my value to You, my Lord and Savior. ~ There is nothing too much for You, my God! You can, and You do!

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Exodus, Job, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized