Tag Archives: wholehearted

Exodus 38-40; Acts 4; Psalms 15, 19

Integrity. Obedience. Trustworthiness. Excellence. Perseverance. At first, I was dazzled by the detail and skill of the craftsmen. Then I was humbled by the very ordinary (not-so-ordinary) routine setting up and taking down of a traveling tabernacle. God has me wrestle with obedience this week. (I just finished a read aloud with my youngest, a book by Geraldine McCaughrean called The Kite Rider. A theme throughout is obedience, and the cost of obedience.)

Today, I read of Bezalel, being who God created him to be, and cheering him on for his excellence.

Bezalel made the chestpiece with great skill and care. He made it to match the ephod, using finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread (Exodus 39:8, NLT, emphasis added).

Do I cheer the ordinary (not-so-ordinary) as well?

16 Moses proceeded to do everything just as the Lord had commanded him. 17 So the Tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month of the second year. 18 Moses erected the Tabernacle by setting down its bases, inserting the frames, attaching the crossbars, and setting up the posts. 19 Then he spread the coverings over the Tabernacle framework and put on the protective layers, just as the Lord had commanded him (Exodus 40:16-19, NLT, emphasis added) .

(For some reason, these preparations made me think of congregations gathering on Sundays in rented school spaces, setting up and tearing down. The routine of ordinary-not-so-ordinary.)

And something I notice too in obedience–anointing.

12 “Present Aaron and his sons at the entrance of the Tabernacle, and wash them with water. 13 Dress Aaron with the sacred garments and anoint him, consecrating him to serve me as a priest. 14 Then present his sons and dress them in their tunics. 15 Anoint them as you did their father, so they may also serve me as priests. With their anointing, Aaron’s descendants are set apart for the priesthood forever, from generation to generation” (Exodus 40:12-15, NLT, emphasis added).

And in the New Testament, Spirit-filled teaching and preaching. Who can stop it?

19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20, NLT, emphasis added).

Lord, you challenge my thoughts and you challenge my heart–to examine my response in the ordinary-not-so-ordinary. Forgive my dragging feet and reluctance. I remember the times I served and served wholeheartedly.

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
    Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
    speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip
    or harm their neighbors
    or speak evil of their friends.
Those who despise flagrant sinners,
    and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
    and keep their promises even when it hurts.
Those who lend money without charging interest,
    and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever. (Psalm 15, NLT, emphasis added)

Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much to redirect my thoughts to you, and to what matters beyond what I can see.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 28; 2 Peter 2; Micah 5; Luke 14

David handed Solomon the plans–equipping him with information that would assist him in the task of building the temple. But it wasn’t just any task–it was a task singled out for Solomon.

God chose David to be a warrior and a leader. God chose Solomon to build the temple.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10, NLT.

In a season of changes, I think on what God has called me to do–and what a true privilege to serve the Lord (oh, that I would keep my perspective clear). That he knows my heart, my desires, my every thought–and he makes the same promise: if I seek him, he will be found by me. He is always present. He is always faithful.

First Chronicles 28 speaks of being chosen, of inheritance, of purpose. It speaks of legacy, of equipment, of heart. Whether the task is one of a king leading a nation or another leading a historical building project for the Lord God (or perhaps the quiet and lasting influence of a mother–building a house as the sanctuary)–be strong and do the work.

I speak this to myself: Be wholehearted. Be willing. Be strong and do the work. Seek the Lord.

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Ecclesiastes 4-6; 2 Corinthians 10

Contentment.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, NLT.

After reading about the oppressed; the success-driven from neighbor envy; the lonely; the rejected; the futility of wealth; the chasing of wind … I land here on such a simple thought, possibly a key to happiness: enjoyment. In the very basic of things–eating, drinking, enjoyment of work. Enjoy appears four times in three verses.

I can clearly remember times in the sometimes-struggle (and that struggle is different for each of us), where hurts overwhelmed. Too much time was spent stuck in that pit. My focus became narrow and intentional, out of necessity–to enjoy a cup of coffee … the warmth of wooly socks on my feet … the fragrance of summer in a field of cut grass. It took time to climb out, but my view was broader, and my world a feast–friends over for play dates … company around the table for dinner … woodsmoke smells from the fireplace. My kids began to notice, commenting once at a park, “Mom, don’t slow us down by looking at the pretty flowers.”

Those hurtful things, the ones that wounded so deeply five years ago–I’d rather be defined by God’s grace to me, than imprisoned by things in the past. I will enjoy those momentary sunsets from my dining room window, the woodland chorus in summer, and his perfect timing for many other things.

10 Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.

11 The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?

12 In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone? Ecclesiastes 6:10-12, NLT.

Thank you, Lord, for your very good gifts. I look for you and find you everywhere, and you don’t disappoint. You show me how my problems are temporary, and help me to take thoughts captive.

4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NLT.

Thank you for your Word–a weapon, and peace that comes through gratitude and contentment. I have not always known that, but now that I do, I don’t want to let go.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Proverbs 19-20; 2 Corinthians 3

I started the new school year’s teaching gig yesterday: a class of 9th and 10th graders, medieval history and literature. One of the first things I did was administer a test on what they remembered from Chapter One’s reading assignment, but on the flip side of the paper was a get-to-know-you questionnaire. I’ve asked these questions in other classes too: using one word, how would you describe yourself, how would your friends describe you, how would your mom describe you, how would you like to be known?

I’m not sure that people really give this tremendous thought, but we’ll all be known for something.

Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3, NLT.

What kind of mark does my life leave upon another’s heart?

I don’t ask myself this question to number my shortcomings, but to number my days.

Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right. Proverbs 20:11, NLT.

Numbering my days to live intentionally, wholeheartedly.

Ears to hear and eyes to see, both are gifts from the Lord. Proverbs 20:12, NLT.

Today’s reading is filled with insight on mockers, chattering gossips, the lazy, the fools, a quarrelsome wife and her dripping nagging … as well as wisdom, self-control, and friendship.

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? Proverbs 20:6, NLT.

Chapter One’s history reading was a gripping account of the battle at Milvian Bridge, and Constantine left an impression with readers, all of us using words to describe him–because we’ll all be remembered in some way … whether in a history book or in a heart.

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NLT.

Lord, may I always keep my eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 6-7; John 8:21-36

I sat next to a man at a conference once, and I noticed he wasn’t taking notes.

“You’re not taking notes?” I asked. I was scribbling wisdom all over the margins as fast as I could.

“No,” he said. “I never read my notes. If whatever is said doesn’t make enough of an impact for me to remember it, there’s no point in writing it down.”

Hmm. I still took notes, but I got his point.

I’ve taken a few Bible studies with groups of women. The studies were amazing. Some studies shook my world so hard, I cried. Some were healing. Some gave me a lot to think about, even when it was over. But honestly, I never went back to the books to look at my notes. Workbooks began to grow on shelf space, until one day I recycled them.

I don’t buy books as much as I used to. I go to the library. If I dog-ear enough memorable passages in a book, I’ll buy a copy of it (but even still, with the reading time I have available, I’m usually consuming new material than revisiting books I’ve already read.). Life is too short to read everything I want to read, and then read it again. But maybe that’s because I’m a slow reader.

Right now I’m reading Multiply by Francis Chan. I renewed the book three times before I even started it because I was knee-deep in several other books. I’m halfway through it now, and doing it all wrong since I’m not watching the videos online or discussing it with a group. Even still, there’s impact.

This morning I got on my knees before the Lord and prayed about a lot of things. But mostly, that I would be aware of the opportunities to put his word in action. Sometimes I’m too rushed to notice. Sometimes I forget about the right thing in the moment. Sometimes I don’t make the connection that blessing an enemy is as close as the person across from me at a get together.

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32, NLT.

The Bible is a book I never want to put down. I hope that I will spend my whole life searching scripture, praying and clinging to the Lord. He is at work changing this heart of mine.

Lord, I’m grateful for the teachings in so many books and studies, even more grateful for your very words in my own hands. You are truth. You are freedom. You are life. Thank you for meeting me where I am, for your love and patience, and for your faithfulness. I’m even thankful that I have yet to read the whole Bible in a year.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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1 Kings 16-18; John 1:29-51

Baasha. The Lord’s anger was provoked by Baasha’s sins. 1 Kings 16:7b, NLT.

Elah. 13 This happened because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed, and because of the sins they led Israel to commit. They provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols. 1 Kings 16:13, NLT.

Zimri. 19 For he, too, had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. 1 Kings 16:19, NLT.

Omri. 26 He followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols. 1 Kings 16:26, NLT.

Ahab. 30 But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 31 And as though it were not enough to follow the example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. 32 First Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. 33 Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him. 1 Kings 16:30-33, NLT.

There’s a pattern and a progression here. Sin and worthless idols. Each leader led the people further into sin–Ahab, even more than any of the kings before him.

They may have been known for other things, but these scriptures read as sketch of their character.

I think on things like example, leadership, legacy, generational sin. I look back on a lineage whose blood I share–what can I learn from this? How am I spending my days? I think on what my children will learn from me, and sometimes wonder what will be passed onto future generations.

Jesus. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29, NLT.

I mess up a lot, but I hope my kids will see a Savior’s love, forgiveness and redemption in my very imperfect life.

Lord, I’m thankful for your grace and example. Help me to continue to learn from you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 11-13; Mark 13:1-13

There is a thread of caution in Old Testament and New Testament: don’t be misled (deceived, enticed).

Be careful be careful … be careful.

 “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods.” Deuteronomy 11:16 NLT.

False prophets. Visionaries. Scoundrels, even. They can lead astray. But also mentioned: a brother, a son or daughter, a beloved (spouse), or a best friend.

18 “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.

22 Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him. Deuteronomy 11:18-22 NLT.

Be careful. These scriptures are a timely reminder. Oh Lord, guard this heart.

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. Deuteronomy 13:4 NLT.

Lord, I pray that I would hear your voice above all else–all day long!

Jesus warns:

“Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

“When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 10 For the Good News must first be preached to all nations. 11 But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 13 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:5-13 NLT.

Lord, your word reminds me to hold tightly, to cling to you. There are things and people that will try to distract me from you. Enticement and deception aren’t always loud and obvious–no, they pull up chairs around the table, with a head nod and smile. Help me, today (and daily!), to guard my heart from the things (and sin) that want to take first place.

Courtney (66books365)

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