Monthly Archives: December 2013

66 Books in a Year–2014

Many thanks to subscribers and visitors for being part of reading through M’Cheyne’s Bible in a year plan in 2013.

We are passionate about God and want others to know they can open their Bibles and encounter His Word for themselves.

Maybe you didn’t read the Bible in a year–don’t worry. No one’s grading you. You can always open the book again–and starting tomorrow, we’ll be doing it all over with a new reading plan.

2014 is going to look a little different–and so will our contributors.

Join us?

(Say yes.)

Happy New Year–and our deepest thanks.

See you in the morning.

66 Books IMG_7102 466937_10201055401248227_946551012_o 035  blog photo janetjulie 269

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2 Chronicles 36; Revelation 22; Malachi 4; John 21

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears this say, “Come!” Let whoever is thirsty come; whoever wishes may have the water of life as a free gift. Revelation 22:17 (NCV)

Jesus said to them, “Come and eat”…Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, along with the fish. John 21:12-13 (NCV)

The end of the year is a perfect time to remember my past, not in such a way that bogs me down and makes me depressed over my failings, but in a way that lifts me up and gives testimony to God’s goodness in my life. It is a time to reflect on His timely provision, His faithfulness, and His constant beckoning.

This year has been a difficult one for me. Spending the first half of the year in the U.S. as a single mom to my two daughters while my husband ministered in India and then spending the second half of the year re-adjusting to life in a third world country has made for a lot of stress and struggle. I have dwelled much of the year in a desert place – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – hungry and thirsty for more connection, especially with Jesus.

“But for you who honor me, goodness will shine on you like the sun, with healing in its rays…” Malachi 4:2 (NCV)

As I look back, I am reminded of the oases that God offered me throughout the year, havens that allowed me to be refreshed, to heal, to be encouraged, to taste and see that He is good:

  • My family’s support. Though my parent’s house became overrun with baby paraphernalia and toddler’s toys, Nick Jr. and Sprout cornered the TV airways, and temper tantrums and time outs were a moment by moment occurrence, they welcomed us with open arms. They helped me love my kids on purpose and made it possible for me to care for myself as I transitioned into a mom of two.
  • My friends’ encouragement. I was re-united with women I’ve known for years and I experienced divine encounters with new friends. Bonding over coffee, playdates, and MOPS meetings gave me time for adult conversation and helped me remember that I am not alone in my journey as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother.
  • My church body’s acceptance. I am blessed to call many places of worship ‘home’; communities where I am readily received whether I’ve been there every week or only visit once in a blue moon. The people are caring, the corporate prayer and worship is a breath of fresh air, the pastors’ messages fill my spirit, and the nursery workers are God-sent, allowing me precious moments to spend time with God without worrying about my children.
  • My husband’s and in-laws’ provision. I grappled with the thought of returning to India because our living arrangements in the past had been less than ideal (150+/- square feet of living space without a place for a kitchen and without running water). When my daughters and I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by an apartment on the second floor of my in-laws house which tripled our living space and provided a kitchen, a bathroom on the same level, and running water.
  • My daughters’ unconditional love. No matter how unruly and high-spirited my girls are, no matter how many times they do things that infuriate me and break my heart, there is nothing in the world quiet like the sweet, and sometimes sticky, hugs and kisses from my children. Their expressions of love melt my heart and strengthen my revelation of love with the Father.

The end of the year is also an opportunity to think about my hopes for the coming months. It is a time to make future plans, to make choices about what paths my journey will take. It is a time to listen to what the Lord is saying about His will for my life.

The Lord has been whispering the word ‘COME’ to me recently. “Come near to Me. Be connected to Me. Position yourself in My arms. Let Me be your priority. Let Me give you what you need, the desires of your heart. Let Me give you joy. Let Me show you the truth about who I made you to be. Let Me be your fulfillment. Let Me feed you and give you drink. Let Me give you peace, freedom. Rest in Me.”

The follower whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Peter heard him say this, he wrapped his coat around himself. (Peter had taken his clothes off.) Then he jumped into the water. John 21:7 (NCV)

When I hear these words spoken to me, I want to dive into His Glory. I want to drink His living water, His new wine until my thirst is abated. I want to be renewed by the rivers, baptized in His restorative blood once again. I want to run toward my Creator, my Savior. I want to embrace Him and never let go. I want to abide in His oasis and be filled by His daily bread. I want to draw close to His heart and rest forever in His presence. And, I am grateful that I am His daughter, His beloved.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May it be your best year yet, full of abundance and blessings!

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

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2 Chronicles 35; Revelation 21; Malachi 3; John 20

At eight years old, Josiah was a young king. He lived to be about twenty-six. A large portion of his short life was spent in seeking and serving the Lord. Today’s reading is a detailed description of the Passover. My takeaway word: wholehearted.

18 Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. 19 This Passover celebration took place in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign. 2 Chronicles 35:18-19 NLT.

I am left with a sobering impression: ancestors who had done evil; Josiah’s desire to seek the Lord; his obedience to God; his wholehearted living.

Malachi 3 speaks of the Lord’s coming, of his call to return and repent. I hear the bewilderment of the responses: “When did we ever leave you?”; “How did we ever cheat you?”; “What have we said against you?”

14 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? 15 From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’”

The Lord’s Promise of Mercy

16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.

17 “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” Malachi 3:14-18 NLT.

Its antonym is lukewarm. Half-hearted. Grudging.

Josiah’s ancestors were known by how they lived, and so was Josiah.

So am I.

Those who seek the Lord and fear him are known by him as special treasure, his children.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. Revelation 21:3-7 NLT.

A Father, my Father.

17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:17 NLT

This is the God I serve. Nothing, nothing, is worthy of my whole heart but him.

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Purpose of the Book

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. John 20:27-31 NLT.

Courtney (66books365)

**My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has journeyed through the Bible in a year with us in 2013. Plans are already made for next year–I hope you’ll join us for a new reading plan (ESV: Through the Bible in a Year) and new voices joining us here.**

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2 Chronicles 34; Revelation 20; Malachi 2; John 19

Josiah pleased the Lord by doing what was right. He sought God. The young king went from place to place, getting rid of idols–smashed, scattered, demolished.  His men restored what the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin. When ancestors had led the people to God’s great anger, this man led them in humility.

26 “But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: 27 You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. 28 So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You yourself will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city and its people.’” 2 Chronicles 34:26-28 NLT.

Living on purpose, with purpose. Wholehearted. This is one word that comes to mind lately.

33 So Josiah removed all detestable idols from the entire land of Israel and required everyone to worship the Lord their God. And throughout the rest of his lifetime, they did not turn away from the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 2 Chronicles 34:33 NLT.

A warning in Malachi grabs my attention. Listen, listen … make up your mind.

Listen, you priests—this command is for you! Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies … Malachi 2:1-2a NLT.

A call. I look at where a life lived half-hearted leads … and I don’t want that. A call, a call, an awakening. I’ve read that “if you want something, you’ll find a way–otherwise, you’ll find an excuse.” Jesus made the way for me–to walk in the Spirit. I don’t want to make excuses–not to God, not today, not tomorrow. He doesn’t expect perfection out of me–he just wants my whole heart. He is pleased when I seek him.

10 Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? Then why do we betray each other, violating the covenant of our ancestors?

A call to action …

Lord, I’m so easily distracted and, at times, over scheduled. A filling up of calendar days looks more like treading life than living it on purpose. A new year signals new starts, but through Jesus Christ, I have been given new life. I want to honor you, revere you and live in awe of your goodness. Help me to become aware of situations and actions that don’t please you–help me to smash, scatter and demolish the things in my life that are stumbling blocks. I’m thankful to look ahead to a sixth year in your word with fellow believers, and a closer walk with you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2Chron.33; Rev. 19; Malachi 1; John 18

The further I walk towards Christ, the more aware I am that there are an infinite number of things that separate our character.

 

Identifying with the character of Peter in John 18, I see that he and I share many things in common in comparison to the flawless character of Christ:

 

When sought out for who He is by the Roman guard, Jesus answers with absolute confidence, certainty, and righteousness. “I am he.”

 

When sought for who he is by a slave girl, Peter denies his identity and relation to Jesus.

 

When questioned by the High Priest, Jesus answers frankly and honestly. Holding nothing back yet not acting to protect himself, apologize, or manage the truth. He has no confession or excuse.

 

When questioned by a commoner, Peters shirks from the truth, looks to his own interests, and denies Jesus.

 

When answering with who He is, people fall to the ground.

 

When answering with who he is, he falls back in shame.

 

When unjustly struck Jesus responds in truth and love.

 

When overcome with fear and confusion, Peter strikes another unjustly.

 

Drinks the cup, swallows the pill, eats the plate set before Him by the Father. Jesus receives everything from God with obedience; trusting the Designer behind the design.

 

Peter. Characterized by self-interest. Riddled by fear. Reacting in anger. Caught in confusion.

 

Jesus. The definition of love. Emanating with boldness. Acting in righteousness. Shameless, blameless, pure. Coming with one mission:

 

“…that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

 

Jesus ~ You are truth.

 

Teach me to walk in love and truth. Not fear. In everything.

 

Speak. I will listen ~ for what You have for me is truth. And where there is truth there is freedom.

 

I want to be free. From sin. From guilt. From shame. From myself.

 

Close the gap between you and I each day. As I draw. Close. To you.

 

– christiancourier517

From the archives, December 28, 2010 (Christian is coming back in 2014 as a regular contributor–woo hoo!)

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2 Chronicles 32; Revelation 18; Zechariah 14; John 17

Living in the West, it’s easy to take Jesus for granted. Our calendar, names of the cities and states, basic freedoms and rights, the institutions I rely on (hospitals, medical care, etc.) all have their roots in the life of Jesus Christ and those who followed him. History was forever changed when he came to earth. His existence stares me in the face everyday,  yet I can so easily miss his presence.

I think that’s why I like Christmas so much. It’s the time of year (regardless of whether or not people call Jesus “Lord”) when we more or less recognize his coming to earth. I remember as a child, gazing into the tiny private world of the family creche. There was  Mary and Joseph peering over the vulnerable form of Jesus in the manger. The lamb and calf, the rough looking shepherds, the three wise men. The tall angel in the background and at the top of the creche, the bright star. It was the tiny drama surrounded by the busyness of our home.  As a child, the mystery of the creche called out to my imagination. I would gaze at it for what seemed like hours and wonder what it all meant.

John’s record of Jesus’s prayer in chapter 17 works up the same kind of wonder in my mind today. What if Jesus’s words are really true? What if I really belong to God?  What if the glory of Jesus really is worked out in my life? What if the Holy Spirit really lives within me? What if this word that I read does sanctify me? What if?

The truth is that those all those “what ifs” really are “what is’s.” More than often, I am just too busy to stop and let my imagination soak in the reality of truth that is alive and well.  What does this miracle of Emanuel, God-with-us mean to the moment by moment, day to day workings of this life? Christmas is the invitation to pull up the chair, gaze into the creche and with childlike faith, wonder at the truth God wants to work  in our human lives.

Kathy

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2 Chronicles 31; Revelation 17; Zechariah 13:2-9; John 16

It seems he had a one-track mind. Hezekiah cleared out anything that was an obstacle–things that took him away from God. He led people by good example, and they followed and there was abundance. He had success. And it is said of him that he sought God wholeheartedly, and did what pleased the Lord.

My takeaway today is found in wholehearted living.

Wholehearted living is interactive, on purpose, with purpose–a giving of heart. It is not about a season. It’s about living.

10 And Azariah the high priest, from the family of Zadok, replied, “Since the people began bringing their gifts to the Lord’s Temple, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare. The Lord has blessed his people, and all this is left over.” 2 Chronicles 31:10 NLT.

The day after Christmas, I’m thinking of taking down the wreathes and packing up the ornaments. But I want to think, what do I want my life to look like the day after Christmas?

From time to time, it’s good to stop and evaluate choices and intentions and direction.

Lord, I pray you’ll help me see past the things that distract me from you. I want you to be my focus in how I give of my time, talent and heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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