Monthly Archives: April 2017

Leviticus 27; Psalm 34; Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2

This weekend I’ll be attending a huge convention (8 hours away!) to hear encouragement and to get instruction in my current calling.  I am a mom of four and homeschooling two of them.  I will be traveling with a woman who has more experience than I in mothering and homeschooling – a just slightly older woman.

I have been blessed by many older women in my walk with Jesus.  Both women who are a generation older and women who are just a few years older.  All of them sent by God to instruct, to encourage, to gently correct.  All of them loving me in their own unique

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”  Titus 2:12 (NIV)

By age I am no longer a young woman, yet I am not an old woman.  I still in many ways identify with the young woman described in Titus.  Maybe because I am still raising my children.  I can certainly improve in the areas identified for the younger women.

I also hope to one day be the older woman.  The woman who will be a blessing from God to younger women.  The woman who takes a younger woman by the hand and says:

“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”  Psalm 34:3 (NIV)

All of these things made possible only by and through the grace of God.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”  Titus 2:12 (NIV)

My bible notes that the word translated “teaches” in this verse refers to more than instruction.  It includes the whole process of training a child – instruction, encouragement, correction and discipline.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for teaching me how to be a godly woman.  Thank you for the people and experiences that you have given me to instruct, encourage, correct and discipline me.  Thank you for older women who have helped me.  At the right time, place younger women in my path who I can help to train in your ways.  Amen 

Diona

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Leviticus 26; Psalm 33; Ecclesiastes 9; Titus 1

Having just celebrated Easter, it’s easier to be focused on praising God.  I walked through the events that led up to Good Friday with my children, helping them understand once again how incredibly “good” that Friday was.  Jesus paid our debt!

Reading through Psalm 33, a hymn of praise, helps me continue this focus on praising Him for what He did for us, what He did for ME.

Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is

    Becoming to the upright.  Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;

    Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.  Sing to Him a

    New song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” (v. 1-3 NASB)

He created everything and the earth proclaims it.

“By the word of the Lord the Heavens were made, and by the

    Breath of His mouth all their host.  He gathers the waters of the

    Sea together as a heap; He lays the deeps in the storehouses.

    Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all inhabitants of the world

    Stand in awe of Him.  For He spoke and it was done; He

    Commanded it and it stood fast.” (v. 6-9)

He is our hope when the world seems hopeless.

“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

    For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy

    Name.  Let your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,

    According as we have hoped in You.” (v. 20-22)

Lord,

We praise You because You paid our debt that we owed for being sinners.  Truly we can say that Friday was a “good” day for us.  Easter is our wonderful surprise when you rose from the grave to prove You reign over death and that we who believe have the hope of life for all eternity.  Let us always praise You for what You did for us no matter what date is on the calendar.

Kellie

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Leviticus 25; Psalm 32; Ecclesiastes 8; 2 Timothy 4

Leviticus 25

In April 2015 my wife and 11 month old daughter and I left our “home” in South Africa and moved permanently to the United States. On the eve of this 2 year anniversary I look back at what has been an enormous undertaking, with many a tear but also many a wonderful story to tell. It still feels rather lonely without family and familiar friends sometimes but I am reminded as I read in Leviticus we can always rely on the Lord for strength and He will keep us safe

18 “ Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.”

Psalm 32

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

What is confession? To confess our sin is to agree with God, acknowledging that He is right to declare what we have done as sinful, and that we are wrong to desire or to do it. It means affirming our intention of abandoning that sin in order to follow God more faithfully.

Ecclesiastes 8

Solomon recalls the remedy for life’s unanswered questions. He recommends joy and contentment as encouragement for us along life’s journey. We must accept each day with its daily measure of work and of course pleasure. Let us learn to enjoy what God has given us to refresh and strengthen us to continue His work.

15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

2 Timothy 4

2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Always be ready to serve God in any situation, whether or not it is convenient. Be sensitive to the opportunities God gives you. It is difficult to accept correction, to be told we have to change. But no matter how much the truth hurts, we must be willing to listen to it so we can more fully obey God.

God Bless

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Leviticus 24; Psalm 31; Ecclesiastes 7; 2 Timothy 3

It was a day of errands and driving, and a true blessing to spend time with a woman who has long been a mentor to me. We talked about the real meaty things of life, right to the point. She is honest and wise. I’ve known her over half my life and it’s not long enough–I find as we’re both getting older and my own seasons are changing, there is still so much to learn.

10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13, NLT (emphasis mine)

I think about examples–especially in regards to parenting and mentoring. One friend nearly despised his father for the type of husband/father he was–and yet, later in life, became just as harsh and hurtful as his dad. I feel certain he never wanted to become that way, but how did it happen?

My mentor and I talked about relationships and truth and integrity. We talked about perseverance. We touched on legacy, and I considered hers as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is a model of a life lived in love. I thank God for her influence.

When someone sifts through the pieces of life I’ll one day leave behind, what will my story tell? Because my life will tell a story. Will it show Jesus? Will it be defined by love?

I cling tightly to God’s enduring Word.

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17, NLT

Lord, I thank you for dear friends like family who have helped me and encouraged me, for women who’ve taught me how to love and serve by example. Thank you for your Word that is true and convicts and corrects. Thank you that you love me so much to equip me to do good work. Help me to remain faithful to the things you have taught me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 23; Psalm 30; Ecclesiastes 6; 2 Timothy 2

Holidays interrupt the ordinary activities of my life and give me an opportunity to revitalize my commitment to God or holidays can draw my spirit into contemplating my recurrent need to depend on God. Such interruptions can lead to restoration and hope of blessings. Leviticus 23 lists the times of many God-ordained holidays, reminders of God’s deliverance, provision, forgiveness, and mercy. His presence is the gift in the midst of community, and the same is true during Christian holidays. I didn’t know how much I missed community until this past Easter. I have felt like a nomad these last 10 years, moving from state to state, changing jobs, changing churches, leaving the bones of loved ones in strange lands.

Ecclesiastes 6:2, written by my soulmate, Solomon, says, “A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it…this is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.” Solomon contrasts this scenario with his earlier statement that every man to whom God prospers and gives the divine gift of enjoyment receives blessings, indeed. Holidays have a way of slowing down my soul’s race to acquire the object and turning my eyes toward the Giver of my soul’s redeemed desires.

Interruptions in my work week can illuminate the threads of discontent or the tears in the fabricated beliefs I’ve entertained. The simplicity of following Christ needs no interpretation – if I am faithless, Christ remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). I am therefore unafraid of the future, and I am free to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.”

So Lord Jesus Christ, resurrected Savior and lover of my soul, I am pleased to be interrupted with holy days that urge me to focus on You. Like King David, I can praise (Psalm 30:11, 12).

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my        sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise            to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

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Lev. 22; Ps. 28,29; Eccles. 5; 2 Tim. 1

“Dear younger me… please hear me… you don’t have to carry these burdens alone!”

I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return. 2 Timothy 1:12

How many of you out there reading this have had a perfect life? You know… the kind of life where there aren’t any problems and nothing ever went wrong. Surely, there has got to be someone who’s got that kind of life?!? So, if there isn’t anyone out there with the “perfect life”, why are we always comparing ourselves with others like there is? Could it we’re hoping we’re not alone? Are we grieving what could have been?

When we began life on earth, we became a part of a family legacy. We didn’t get to choose the family legacy we were associated with… that was decided for us. Unfortunately, many of us characterize our own family legacy with more pain than joy, even dreading holidays as they remind us of what we’ve endured and still grieve. If we could just go back in time and tell our younger self what to do and what not to do, what would we say? Imagine it… what would you tell your younger self? What foods to eat and avoid? How to get ahead in life? What about your faith… what would we tell our younger selves about our faith? Would this part of our discussion take the most or the least time?

Would we try to convince God to spare our family from the hurts that break the human heart? Unfortunately, God does not work in the past… He does, however, offer a future to those who seek Him! And if I could speak to the younger me, I would tell me that there is a future that can be so much better than the past. That our Lord and Savior invites each of us to a spiritual family legacy based on a foundation of healing, hope, and love, far surpassing any loss we’ve ever experienced or are grieving… That if we know Jesus, as Savior, we became part of a spiritual legacy that extends back to heal the past, while offering hope for the future… That God’s holy family covers all hurts including brokenness and pain, misery and fear… forever!

No matter the broken earthly family we have, as believers, we all have a loving family available to us always… from our Lord and Savior, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to our heavenly Father, who knows our pain and disappointments, and offers His children unlimited grace!

Dear younger me… get to know your Lord and Savior… with all your heart and soul… the One you can trust, completely, as He is able to guard what you have entrusted to Him, until He returns again.

Lord, You know our hearts desire for a happy and loving family legacy based on love… Please help us to use the model of family legacy You graciously offer us until You come again! Amen…

Greg (gstefanelli)

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Leviticus 21; Psalm 26; Psalm 27; Ecclesiastes 4; 1 Timothy 6

The pierce of trial quickens my sensitivity to God and His truth.  I find my heart lanced and hurting and I struggle to fight bitterness. It leaves its own, marked taste in my mouth. Yet, what can compare to the sweetness of Christ- drawing my heart and quickening life unto me in desperate times? How grateful I am for the staying, strengthening Hand of God!

Psalm 26:

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the Lord. (ESV)

In a present difficulty, I have determined to do what I know is right, regardless what others do or say. (From 24 Family Ways- Way #21) And in God’s sovereign grace, our family just happened to be spending the week in this Way when it was so very appropriate for me.

I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.”

Not only have I had opportunity to exhort children unto this Way, I also have opportunity to walk in this instruction. God brings me to the end of myself so that I can know it is His LIFE working in me granting me power to walk in His Way and in the Light. And in this, so I can share in the sufferings and strengthening of the children I exhort and correct. It is not mere words. It is our very life.

Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

You are our Light, O God. Fear and trepidation and the paralyzing, polarizing spectre of conflict looms among us. And anger, Lord. Anger. But, You. You are the stronghold of our life.

Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet[b] I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire[c] in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock. (ESV)

Hidden in You, is where I purpose to stay. These are the days when I find myself beyond my understanding and reckoning. It is here that I hide myself in You because nothing is hidden from Your sight and Your mercy knows no end.

And now my head shall be lifted up

above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek[d] my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”[e]
    Hide not your face from me. (ESV)

Let it always be:

My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek!”

Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence. (ESV)

 

False witnesses rising against me. Is my expectation of people too large? I think it is, O God. Help me instead to walk in mercy and in Light when wronged. Help me extend grace and deal in Wisdom. There is not time to waste pondering and considering the wrongs; yet, only You can untangle the knots in my heart.

13 I believe that I shall look[f] upon the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (ESV)

Conflict paralyzes me. False witnesses rising against me. Against some I love.  Hide me in your shelter in the day of trouble. I will be hidden and small in the face of accusations and arrows. Keeping always my eye upon you. My heart toward You. Orienting my self, my life toward that one thing…. You, O Lord.

You promise to teach me Your way- You will lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

I Timothy 6

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[d] Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (ESV)

O Lord, there is so much in life that is confusing and difficult to navigate. Our human brokenness, weakness, and error follows us in and out of every day. You are the true Source of all Wisdom and Direction and Your mercy knows no bounds… even to those who are enemies. Change my heart O Lord, that I might look with mercy and love on those who have wrongfully accused me. Let me take your directive as my strong mission. When others judge or harshly correct, I know that I (we) are hidden in You and enfolded in Your mercy. You are the only One who has the full and complete understanding about everything. Keep me humble and help me trust that my vindication is found in You and I am complete and free in Christ !

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