Tag Archives: vulnerability

Psalm 62-64; Romans 1

You are not worth fighting for.

That is the message the enemy sends to me. In a Bible study by Angela Thomas, in the unexpected chapter of the undermining messages we hear, this is the one that shouted at me in all-caps fury. Suddenly things past and present were punctuated with the thought: you are not worth fighting for.

It emerged with new voice from the years of (his) silence.

It smiled from (her) face the day she let the door shut in mine.

It was made plain over coffee when (one) said as much, “I won’t fight your battle.”

It whispered at me through every dangling text, canceled plan, empty promise.

That first winter, I walked trash cans down the driveway. It was night, and it was windy and cold. Our driveway is longer under those conditions. I looked up at the stars and spoke to God about all the things that were going wrong. That year, I was introduced to Psalm 62 in a study on David. It was waiting for me today.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
    He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
    Pour out your heart to him,
    for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8, NLT

An enemy’s message still surfaces from the most unlikely sources. It is met this morning with an eternal truth, interestingly enough, over coffee.

When one is silent, He speaks. When one door is closed, He holds open the other. When one won’t stand with me, He is a refuge where no enemy can reach. When one tells me I’m not worth the effort, time–God is there. He says He’s got time for me.

He tells me I’m worth it.

God fights for me. My victory and honor come from him.

What does the enemy tell you?

More importantly, what does God have to say about it?

Lord, thank you for never leaving my side. Thank you for fighting for me. Help me to be aware of the messages I send to others. I don’t ever want my voice to be that of an enemy.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Nehemiah 4-6; Acts 2:14-47

Nehemiah prayed, “Oh listen to us, dear God. We’re so despised: Boomerang their ridicule on their heads; have their enemies cart them off as war trophies to a land of no return; don’t forgive their iniquity, don’t wipe away their sin – they’ve insulted the builders!” We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was joined together and halfway to its intended height because the people had a heart for the work. When Sanballat Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairs of the walls of Jerusalem were going so well- that the breaks in the wall were being fixed-they were absolutely furious. They put their heads together and decided to fight against Jerusalem and create as much trouble as they could. We countered with prayer to our God and set a round-the-clock guard against them” Neh 4: 4-9 MSG

I have learned the hard way that sometimes rebuilding the wall means that it will take a while. Brick after brick, if it is going to be done right. But, I don’t always want to take the time. The process can be exhausting and draining. I tend to get sloppy and my bricks start falling down.  God gave me a humorous example of this today, when my son’s birthday cake started falling over in the car.  I lifted it back up piece by piece. That’s what I feel like God does with me. If only I submit to Him and remember how much I need Him.

So I stationed the armed guards at the most vulnerable places of the wall and assigned people by families with their swords, lances, and bows. After looking things over I stood up and spoke to the nobles, officials, and everyone else: “Don’t be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” Neh 4:13-14 MSG

I want my wall to built with scripture and the truth of God’s word.  So, when the unexpected happens, my wall will not come crumbling down…

Death was no match for him. David said it all: I saw God before me for all time.  Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side.  I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;  I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.” Acts 2:26-27 MSG

Thank you Father that You are my rock and my fortress. That You protect me when trouble comes. I pray that I would run to you for all my needs. Because You are faithful and Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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2 Samuel 15, 16; Luke 20:27-47

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Luke 20:45-47


After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:1-6

My grandparents had a spunky Jack Russell terrier named WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-ee-wig”). WYSIWYG is an acronym for ‘what you see is what you get.’ Whenever I think about this phrase I think about the importance of being authentic, of being exactly who I am. It is about projecting my true self and not hiding my sinful nature or making myself out to be greater than I really am.

In the 10 or so years that I struggled with extreme depression I got very good at hiding myself from others. I would don different masks for different people giving them the face I thought that they most wanted to see. I didn’t realize that what many of those people really wanted was the real me.

When God removed depression from my soul and started healing my heart, I began to understand that showing my true self, being vulnerable when sharing my struggles, admitting when I stumble and fall, laying out the good and the bad, being honest about my experience and being truthful in love, needed to be what I offered to the world.

When I am upfront and honest with people about who I am it leaves no room for pride; it’s impossible for me to think I am better than someone else when they know about the skeletons in my closet. When being genuine, it is impossible to be deceitful, two-faced, and backbiting. Revealing the truth of who I am doesn’t allow for self-importance or ego, because it reminds me of how hopeless, how helpless I am without Christ in my life.

I have found that in the ministry that I do, honesty is what connects me to people. I am able to meet them right where they are, the way that God meets me in my journey. I am able to share openly about my struggles and how God has walked with me through them. I can offer them hope through my testimony, instead of condemnation and judgment. I can offer a clean slate in Jesus, and healing through His love.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your blood and Your redeeming glory, that revives me and makes me whole, that takes away my shame and allows me to be real with those around me. Continue to remove every trace of hiddenness that tries to keep me disconnected from you and from others. Help me always walk in authenticity, living a life a truth in love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Genesis 38-40; Matthew 12:22-50

  • Judah already lost two sons, and was afraid he’d lose his last–so he told Tamar to stay with her father until (Shelah) was old enough to marry her. He had no intention of following through with his end of the deal.
  • Tamar disguised herself and led Judah to believe she was a prostitute so that he would sleep with her. It worked.
  • Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph and tried to seduce him. When he wouldn’t comply, she accused him of trying to rape her, to cover up her actions.

Fear, a quest for justice, desire. These are the things I notice in today’s reading–and I see deceit, disguise, cover-up.

Jesus talks about fruit and what’s in a heart.

33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” Matthew 12:33-37 NLT.

In my life, I will feel so many things. Sometimes those feelings come upon me and knock me over. Hurt over a comment that sits and stews in my heart–it strains a relationship; insecurities that whisper and taunt and push at me–they make me want to hide; a pressing desire for change (that leads to a hair color snafu; or a spending spree; or in frustration/weakness, a chocolate binge).

These days, I’m trying to just take it to God. He knows my thoughts anyway–and I can’t run and hide or cover up the truth. I can try a new approach–and just tell him what’s on my heart.

Lord, I feel hurt by that comment she made.

Lord, I feel discouraged.

Lord, I feel inadequate to do this job.

It’s in those honest moments that I approach God and lay it before him. Help me, I’m weak … I don’t know what to do … I don’t know what to say.

Sometimes the feelings aren’t pretty or noble. But it’s when I suppress, cover-up, deny and try to control a situation that I can make a mess of it.

Jesus, you are always with me and want to help. I can ask for wisdom at any time and you will give it. I can ask for forgiveness and you will give it. I can look to you and find my identity and strength. You know my heart and I can trust you with it.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 20; Hebrews 2; Hosea 13; Psalm 137, 138

The years of the Sometime-Struggle were a slow descent into depression. It was a constant and tiresome treading to keep my head up. At times, it sapped my energy and my hope. It chipped away at dignity. An enemy placed a sign on my back I couldn’t read, but I could feel it there. It was hurtful and heavy; it grew heavier over time.

When I talked to a seasoned Christian about my trial, she said, “Think of all the suffering Jesus went through. He was beaten and mocked.” Her response did not help me, though I would not have dared to say such a thing. I was probably a Christian for fifteen years at that point, but I had no real understanding of the person of Jesus Christ outside of my salvation. Rooted in rocky soil, I was withering.

I tried to work out the equation: Jesus suffered = I should be able to suck this up (x guilt at still feeling powerless)/there are worse things in the world.

The conclusion was always the same: FAIL.

I picked up my Bible five years ago, and God met me right where I was. These years of pursuing God showed me he has actually been pursuing me.

God moved us here a couple years ago. One day, I met a woman while she was working in her yard. In that first meeting, she told me things I couldn’t believe I was hearing. I said to her, “I think we have a similar story.”

Later, I sat with God and marveled. There are times I wish I had not met the people who had inflicted such pain in my life, but not at the expense of the lesson. When I met this fellow sojourner in her yard, without a doubt I knew if I had a do-over, I would have gone through the Struggle again, so that she would know she is not alone.

Jesus says, “I love you like that.”

And in my heart, I know he does. He is the leader in love. He does his refining work when we’re under pressure. He teaches how to love God, and love a neighbor.

Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. 10 God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. Hebrews 2:9b-10 NLT.

Lord, your suffering wasn’t so I could have a sense of strength in myself, to do life on my own. It was to show me love, to bring me into relationship with you, and to teach me how to love. (And it was so much more!) There is no greater love than yours, that you would lay down your life for your friends. Thank you for the Sometime-Struggle, the lost years that were never really lost. Thank you for loving me, and walking alongside me so I would know I am not alone.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

2 Samuel 14; 2 Corinthians 7; Ezekial 21; Psalm 68

I have, in fact, the greatest confidence in you. If only you knew how proud I am of you! I am overwhelmed with joy despite all our troubles.”2 Cor 7:1-4 MSG

Have you ever had a friend like Paul…who can tell you how proud they are of you, but also speak the truth in love?

When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn’t settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn’t relax because we didn’t know how it would turn out. Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus… I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while….

Am I able to have an open heart and mind to accept the rebuke as well as the love?

…Now I’m glad-not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart.

I am grateful to have friends like that in my life…who help to turn me around. Who hear from God and urge me out of my comfort zone & on towards Jesus. They are in it with me and are proud of me,because they know the deepest, inner, private struggles of my soul. They know my ugliness. They remind me of who I am in Jesus, who I was and who Jesus in His all sufficient grace is making me to be. When they say they are proud of me, it breathes new life into my soul. It gives me a new sense of purpose and direction.

I’m so confident and proud of you” 2 Cor. 7:5-11;16 MSG

Dear Jesus, I am grateful for the way that You lovingly come alongside of me and remind me of Your truth. You see the ugliness of my heart, but You love me anyway. You have redeemed me. Thank you for the ways that encouraging and sometimes hard spoken words have healed my soul and brought me closer to You. Amen 

Amy(amyctanner)

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