Monthly Archives: May 2017

Deuteronomy 2; Psalm 83; Psalm 84; Isaiah 30; Jude 1

Deuteronomy 2

“Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea, as the Lord told me. And for many days we traveled around Mount Seir. Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. ESV

“You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough.” Has the Lord ever said such a thing to you? This stopped me short. There will come a time when the Lord will say the wandering in the wilderness is complete- move on into this next new place. And He will have specific commands, instruction, and guidance for that new land. I pray I heed and listen. The Lord sees our wanderings, our cries, our tears, our struggles. Will we be surprised when His intervention comes? Wandering is a tutor toward meekness.

Psalm 84

5Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.[b]
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion. ESV

What strength, beauty, and life is conveyed here in this passage… a place of springs, covered with pools… there is a secret in God that can transform the valley into a place of life. To me, this passage speaks of the overcomer. The one who is transformative through God through the challenges, valleys, and difficulties of life. To appear before God in Zion- to be in His Presence; His city. The one whose strength is in God will have the highway to Zion in his heart. The healing, life-giving Presence of God will flow into the deep places of his life and bring provision, and refreshment. In my heart, I know that Zion and the highway- the Valley of Baca – these are figurative and they speak of more than just what is face value here. To go from strength to strength is to be like the hind- hind’s feet on high places… leaping from mountain top to mountain top- in victory.

11For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you! ESV

You, O Lord, are a sun and shield. You bestow favor and honor. The NASB says, “The Lord gives grace and glory;” Grace and Glory. Favor and Honor. Help me, O Lord to walk uprightly.

Isaiah 30:12

 For thus the Lord [p]God, the Holy One of Israel, has said,

“In [q]repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.” ESV

So many times, I am in tumult. Tumult in mind, tumult in emotions. Even tumult in circumstances. The Lord calls me to repentance, rest, quietness, and trust. “In quietness and trust in your strength”  This reminds my heart of: “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 ESV He is there and He saves.

29You will have [aj]songs as in the night when you keep the festival,

And gladness of heart as when one marches to the sound of the flute,
To go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.
30 And the Lord will cause [ak]His voice of authority to be heard, ESV

“You will have songs in the night…. Gladness of heart… the mountain of the Lord…”

These words speak to my heart of welling, flowing praise and worship to God. Rejoicing, bubbling up… Songs in the night. Lord, grant me songs in the night and gladness of heart. Let me rejoice to hear Your voice of authority and let me be glad to go to the mountain of the Lord! -to go singing and in worship into the holiness of Your Presence.

Jude 1

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time[h] and now and forever. Amen. ESV

Serendipitously, in concert with the Spirit- just this week, I shared this doxology with my children- and tried to sing to them a song- from our very first church… the one into which my first four children were born. What a glorious exultation and prayer! You are able, O God! To You be the glory!

Lord, in grace and gentleness, teach me more to trust in You. Mold my heart and open my eyes to see Your work in my life. Help me to know that you are not far off and a day will come when You will say: You have wandered in this wilderness long enough. May I go from strength to strength and make every valley a place of refreshment, bloom, and life. In my heart, may there be a highway to Your Presence. Grant me songs in the night and quietness and rest in You. Help me to teach my children of You and remember the songs of praise and worship that are part of our heritage in You. Lord, thank You.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Deuteronomy 1; Psalms 81-82; Isaiah 28; 3 John 1

It’s not difficult to adopt the arrogant mindset that I am master of my future and commander of my fate. I may not say it with words, but in my head, I am thinking, “Move over God and let me get things done. I know best.” I am not alone in this. God describes his relationship with the people of Israel:

I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place. But in spite of this, you have no trust in the Lord your God who goes before you on the way to seek out a place fore you to camp, of fire by night, and in cloud by day, to show you the route you should take.  Deuteronomy 1:30-32

The only person I am fooling is myself. Isaiah describes this lack of trust:

Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the Lord, whose deeds are in the dark and who say, ” Who sees us? Who knows us?’ You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay? Shall the thing made say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, “He has no understanding?”  Isaiah 29: 15-16.

The disciple John, the “one whom Jesus loved” describes a different way of living. In his first letter, he uses the term “abide” (NRSV) or “live-in” (NIV) 15 times. Because of this beautiful redundancy, I am getting the message, “ABIDE. LIVE.”   I “abide” in God and he “abides” in me. I may not understand how the process works but I submit the crude clay of my being so  that his hands transform me. I can stop white knuckling my way through life and let go, for God’s will for me will win.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. what we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  1 John 2:2

Lord, help me let go and submit to you molding and shaping.  Forgive me for when I demand that life go my way and that other’s meet my needs. Holy Spirit, live in me and may I live in you. Amen

Klueh

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Num. 36, Psalm 80, Isaiah 28, 2 John 1

At the urging of a friend, last year I began the practice of seeking God to reveal to me a word – one word – that would be meaningful for me throughout the year. RESTORE was the word He gave me last year. It was His promise to me to heal some deep wounds that I had been nursing. Time and time again, God would remind me in a song or a scripture passage that He would restore my heart and mind so that I could serve Him effectively. When the end of the year came, I didn’t want to give up my word. While the restoration process had come a long way, I wasn’t ready to move on. But God had a different plan for me. He wanted me to go deeper. Rather than focusing on myself, He wante me to move outward.

The word that God gave me this year was LOVE. Initially, I fought this word. Love is too generic, I thought. Too fluffy. Too easy. Too Christian. However, I began to see that I had a lot of work to do in that area. Was I allowing God to love me? How was I loving my family? How was I loving my community? But more than anything, how was I loving those who are hard to love? or those who are different than me?

I was reminded just how essential love is for a healthy walk with God when I read today’s I John passage:

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning,his command is that you walk in love. 2John 5-6 NIV

By loving one another, we are revealing Christ to the world. Deceivers and charlatans are plenty these days, telling us not to associate with those who think differently, or vote differently. The media fills our minds with accusations and negativity.  I have come to understand more than any other time in my life, the importance of fixing my eyes on Christ. If I do that, LOVE becomes a natural outpouring. God still has a lot of work to do in me, but I am making progress. I am taking steps to love more – To more consistently consider what Christ would do if he was in my situation. I have found myself serving when it wasn’t convenient, opening my home to strangers when it was out of my comfort zone. My prayer is that God would continue to work in my heart to help me LOVE better. If we all loved better, imagine what a different world we would live in.

Lord, help us to love well. Help us to obey your commands, even when it isn’t convenient or easy. As we seek your will for us, show us ways – big and small –  that we can love those around us so that others can be drawn to you.

Ann (naturelady)

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Numbers 35, Psalm 79, Isaiah 27, 1 John 5

I have always struggled with confidence. I am constantly comparing my “ugly” insides to someone else’s “pretty” outsides.  I question myself every day.  “Am I good enough?”, “Do I give enough?”, “Did I say too much?” and so on and so forth.  Every single day I struggle with this.  There is a fear that I am a failure.

I often forget what God has said about me – there are so many promises right in scripture that I need to cling to… I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps139) or God has a plan for me (Jer 29:11 – a little out of context but a promise nonetheless) and in our reading of 1 John today God tells me that I need to be confident in my salvation, in the fact that God listens to me and in overcoming my struggles with sin.

1 John 5:13 tell me that I can be confident that if I believe in Jesus I will have eternal life.  “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.”  Verse 5 says that I can be confident because through believing in Jesus I am his child.  What a relief.  I do not have to stress about being good enough; I just have to believe that Jesus is who He says He is and I have confidence in my salvation – in that fact that I am his child (also see  Act 16:31 and Romans 6:23).

Not only can I be confident in my salvation, according to 1 John 5:14-15, I can have confidence in my prayers.  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”  Alright, so there is a little catch.  If I ask “according to his will” he will hear me (not give me – but hear me and consider what I am asking!).  I can be confident that God will hear and consider my prayer and that he will give me whatever I ask within his will.  God is all knowing and even though I believe that something is right for me right now – God sees the bigger picture and therefore might not answer me the way I want him to.  However, according to vs. 15 if what I am asking for is within his will then he will not only hear my request but he will grant my request.  At this, I need to trust his judgment and be confident that he is God.

Another confidence that I can be assured of according to 1 John 5 is that God is helping me overcome the world through him.  Verse 18 starts out saying “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin…”  Uh oh… there is a problem because I sin all the time and yet I believe that I am born of God…  The verse goes on to say “…the One (note – capital “O”) who was born of God keeps them safe and the evil one cannot harm them.”  I can be confident that God (my father) is keeping me safe.”  Verse 19 says that the “whole world is under the control of the evil one”.  Sin causes harm – maybe embarrassment, maybe punishment and this chapter says that sin may cause death.  There is nothing more that Satan wants then to embarrass me or punish me or to take my confidence in God away from me.  When I lack the confidence that God’s “got this” and turn to myself then I make myself vulnerable to falling into what the world wants me to do or be and not finding confidence in what God wants me to do or be.  When I struggle with this I can look to Jesus for “understanding (vs. 20) as He has already “overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I will always struggle with being confident in who I am. When I take my eyes off of God and look around at everyone else I struggle.  (Perhaps that is where vs. 21 comes into play?)  However, when I am basking in the presence of God, seeking to do what he has asked me (vs. 2) and holding onto the promises that he loves me (John 3:16), that he hears me and that he has overcome the world,  I can find peace and total confidence in all that he has made me to be.

Amy W. (gueston66books)

From the archives. Originally published May 26, 2013

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Numbers 34; Psalms 78:38-72; Isaiah 26; 1 John 4

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
    for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4, NLT)

I never would have imagined the events that have taken place in my life this year.

But for those who are righteous,
    the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
    and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
    our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
In the night I search for you;
    in the morning I earnestly seek you. (Isaiah 26:7-9, NLT)

And I can’t imagine walking this road without the Lord. I praise Him on the path. I praise His provision. I praise His name. His Word woven in heart and mind these past ten years studying–I’m so grateful.

12 Lord, you will grant us peace;
    all we have accomplished is really from you. (Isaiah 26:12, NLT)

Mrs. Ward* was a sister at first sight. And even though she struggled to get her thoughts out (a stroke), her hands were quick to lift in praise at the name of Jesus, and her praising words spilled out fluidly when other thoughts stuck and jammed. She was discharged yesterday, and I’m thankful for the quiet moments before she left that we could say goodbye.

I never would have imagined the events that have taken place in my life this year, but through it all, I am vigilant to look for God. And He is there. Peace giver. Road smoother. Rock. I hand him the things that overwhelm, and He carries them. He gives me rest. And on days where the fight is an enemy speaking condemnation, defeat and inadequacy over me–he sends me a sister in Christ, who otherwise struggled in conversation, to speak love, blessing and encouragement over me.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (1 John 4:9-17, NLT)

The sweet tears we shed, the joy. His Spirit, the proof. Her words, His love, lifted me on a difficult day.

Oh, thank you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

*Not her real name.

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Numbers 33; Psalm 78:1-37; Isaiah 25; 1 John 3

Children are so important.  It does not matter what age of the world we look into, children play an incredible role as we see them as a gift to our families.  When I think of the one and final plague in Egypt – the one that finally turned Pharaoh decision – it was the loss of every family’s first born.

They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the passover the Israelites went out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them. – Numbers 33:3-4 NRSV

Being a Christian Education Coordinator in my church helped me focus on the children and their families.  It was there that I learned how weak our education perspective was compared to other faith traditions.   I spent 17 hours a year with my kids in direct biblical education while the others were closer to 400 and 600 hours.  I lot of that had to do with traditional celebration periods, but still, it was engagement with God’s Word.  So it is no surprise to see this call to action in the Psalms —

He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their ancestors, stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. – Psalm 78:5-8 NRSV

Here I am today – I am called a child of God.  I know I need to spend time getting to know my Father.  This world is not where my hope lies, it lies with my Him.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he[a] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. – 1 John 3:1-3 NRSV

My prayer today is similar to the one Isaiah prayed —

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. – Isaiah 25:1

As Your child Lord, I yield myself into Your hands that you may shape me and mold me and then may I be used by You to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

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Numbers 32; Psalms 77; Isaiah 24; 1 John 2

I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! …Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.” Psalms 77:1-15 NLT

How many times do I default to thinking that something will not work out. Especially when it’s not going the way that I thought it would. Instead of living with hope in expectation that God is in control. And that He will work it out in His way and His timing… working all things together for my good. Why is this so difficult sometimes? I am thankful for His word today. Shedding light on areas of my heart that I need to change. Reminding me of His faithfulness. That there is always a “But, God.” And He will make a way that is better than anything I can dream up.

Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters-a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds” Psalms 77:19&20 NLT

It’s so hard to let go of things that I hold so dear. My expectations and the places in my heart that I don’t want anyone to see. Because letting go doesn’t mean my hands are empty. It means that I am trusting God with it. What do I need to let go of so that I cling more tightly to Jesus?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15 NLT

Thank you Father that you are not afraid of my questions, you welcome them. You meet me there, but prod me on to change. Help me to live in close fellowship with you everyday. Forgive me for when I rely on myself. I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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