Tag Archives: witness

Judges 13; Acts 17; Jeremiah 26; Mark 12

When my kids were little, I used to tell them, “If someone has something to say, it’s important for them to say or it’s important for you to hear.” Daily, my media feeds are flooded with messages of people. I find myself wanting, more than ever, to hear what the Lord says.

The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’” (Judges 13:6-7, NLT, emphasis added)

Paul and Silas were used to speaking to groups and were used to hostile responses. Today, Paul is in Athens and addresses a crowd. I listen too.

22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31, NLT, emphasis added)

Jeremiah had a message from the Lord that was important, only his audience didn’t want to hear it.

This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah. This is what the Lord says: Stand in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the Lord, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word. 3 Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.

Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you will not listen to me and obey my word I have given you, and if you will not listen to my servants, the prophets—for I sent them again and again to warn you, but you would not listen to them— then I will destroy this Temple as I destroyed Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was located. And I will make Jerusalem an object of cursing in every nation on earth.’”

The priests, the prophets, and all the people listened to Jeremiah as he spoke in front of the Lord’s Temple. But when Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to say, the priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. “What right do you have to prophesy in the Lord’s name that this Temple will be destroyed like Shiloh? What do you mean, saying that Jerusalem will be destroyed and left with no inhabitants?” And all the people threatened him as he stood in front of the Temple. (Jeremiah 26:1-9, NLT, emphasis added)

He reminds me today and again.

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34a, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, help me to watch my words (help me to speak them). Let them be seasoned, honest, wise, encouraging. Let them reflect the time I’ve spent with you, and not the ever changing (turbulent) influence of a culture around me. Help me also to sift through words to get to the heart, to reach another whose heart cries out to be loved, to be valued, to be understood, to be seen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 39; Mark 9; Job 5; Romans 9

Joseph, whose immaturity and lack of tact got him into further trouble with his older brothers, is sold to Ishmaelite traders, and finds himself serving Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. Joseph has lost his freedom, but yet because God is with him, he still succeeds (even when it seems like he continues under trial). God goes with him through this all, and it is evident to those who stand witness.

20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. 22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. (Genesis 39:20-23, NLT)

A man’s son suffers from violent seizures. He brings the child to Jesus for healing when the disciples were unable to do it.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:21-24, NLT)

The disciples argue about which of them is greatest among them, and Jesus shuts it down.

35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-37, NLT)

Joseph’s immaturity and lack of tact got him into deeper trouble with jealous brothers. But still, God used Joseph, grew Joseph, and equipped Joseph for a greater purpose than just a kid brother getting sold out by his family. A child is victim to convulsions and seizures, powerless himself to something bigger than him and those around him. But Jesus, in his strength, authority and power is able–oh, he is able, to do great things.

When Jesus calls another little child into the group as an object lesson, I think on this child. Children are immature. Inexperienced in life. Naive, perhaps. Impulsive. Not all children operate from a moral high ground–not even adults have mastered this. Kids are kinda cute, and it’s likely easier to welcome a child in Sunday school into the fold–but what if it’s the kid in the neighborhood no one likes, or the kid in the classroom that causes constant trouble, or the kid acting like a bully? An adult can be equally unlovely, immature, inexperienced, impulsive, unkind.

Certainly there are circumstances the disciples wanted to shun people, where Jesus stopped and took time.

49 “For everyone will be tested with fire. 50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.” Mark 9:49-50, NLT)

Oh, Lord. Don’t let me lose my salt. Thank you for giving me a Kingdom focus. Thank you for your reminder that we are all tested with fire. Thank you for showing me that you go with me in difficult places, and that you show mercy on those you choose. Thank you for showing me that even while the disciples followed you and loved you, they still messed things up and turned people away. Oh, Lord. Don’t let me lose my salt.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 31; Mark 2; Esther 7; Romans 2

For I have seen how Laban has treated you. (Genesis 31:12b, NLT)

This is the God who holds me. He is loving. He is just. He is generous. He is good.

He sees past an outward infirmity and goes straight for the heart.

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:8-11, NLT)

He enters places others deem themselves too good for, and he ministers to the sick–but by outward appearance he dines with sinners.

17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17, NLT)

Pharisees distance themselves. Their self-righteousness puffs them up as better than others. They miss the point.

In God’s goodness, he gives me guidance and provision. He gives me rest.

27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:27-28, NLT)

In Esther, Haman’s wickedness is revealed; and in Romans, Paul addresses sin and hypocrisy.

All of these chapters today are rich and full–a feast for my heart. I grab words for a first course, and then return for more. But there is no rush at this table. He invites me to dine, sits with me too. Calls me daughter.

He hands me a rock and asks what I will do.

Some people throw rocks in judgment or punishment. Some people use rocks to build a boundary. Some people raise rocks as a monument. And others proclaim a covenant over them.

45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. 46 Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. 47 To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew).

48 Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” 49 But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us.

51 “See this pile of stones,” Laban continued, “and see this monument I have set between us. 52 They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. 53 I call on the God of our ancestors—the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of my grandfather Nahor—to serve as a judge between us.” (Genesis 31:45-53, NLT)

Father God, you give me choice. You hand me this rock as a gift. How I love you for your guidance, your grace and your great mercy.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 5-7; Psalm 121; 1 Timothy 4

One thing I know about cultivating a new habit is that it takes intention. I didn’t become a runner by getting off the couch and lacing up my shoes. In fact, my first day out, I barely rounded the bend of my driveway. The second day out, I might have made it twenty-five feet farther. The third day out, I made it to the top of the driveway. I had to plan on it. I had to get out and do it. I had to push myself. I still have to push myself, but my distance, thankfully, is farther than the top of my driveway.

But what credit is it to run but be weak in areas of eternal matter?

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. (1 Timothy 4:8-10, NLT)

Paul encourages Timothy to be an example “in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. (1 Timothy 4:b, NLT)” Aren’t we all an example to someone? A coworker. A neighbor. A stranger. A friend. A family member. An enemy.

When I think of the end of my time, some of the goals I’ve set may not hold entirely great significance–the daily run in itself is conditioning for my body, works on discipline and self-control–good things, yes. But what if I did not live a life true to the person God made me to be? What if I neglected the gifts?

14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. 15 Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:14-16, NLT)

Father God, I am thankful to you that you hear my prayers. You are quick to forgive. Your faithful love endures forever. Thank you for watching over my life, Maker of heaven and earth. Thank you for loving me so well. I offer my life song to you in praise.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 26-27; 1 Chronicles 8; Acts 18

Am I the only one who stood in awe with David and Abishai in the circle of Saul’s army? Saul and Abner asleep at the feet, surrounded by soldiers in a protective circle, and David, Abishai (and us!) with an bull’s eye view.

I find it hard to think I could live so boldly. David, who first cuts the hem of Saul’s robe (just last week’s reading), now removes the spear near him and takes Saul’s jug of water.

12 So David took the spear and jug of water that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai got away without anyone seeing them or even waking up, because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep. (1 Samuel 26:12, NLT)

David had a history of listening for the Lord and a repeated reliance on His protection and provision. From field to front line, his faith and trust in the Lord grew.

Paul met his share of opposition.

Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:4-6, NLT)

Insults and opposition would only be the start of his mission in ministry, but he is obedient.

Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10 For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” 11 So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God. (Acts 18:8b-11, NLT)

David used his strength and battle knowledge in his obedience to the Lord–he was a front line witness of God’s faithfulness to the men who served alongside him (and even to a watching enemy army!); Paul used his education and words to serve wherever he was (land, sea, imprisoned or free).

Lord, thank you for these examples of obedience, reverence and another’s eager listening for your voice. Help me to steward the gifts you’ve given me to serve you. Help me to always seek you first for direction, guidance and wisdom. Thank you for the opportunities you’ve used to strengthen my faith and show your faithfulness.

Courtney (66books365)

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