Monthly Archives: December 2017

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

Another year flies by. This is a time when I reflect and recommit. I take a hard look at where I’ve been and where I want to be. It’s not so much a time for resolutions because, really, those would be the same every year. I have the same goals and dreams as last year, and the year before. I use this time for recommitting myself, for putting new systems in place, for weeding out bad habits that keep me stuck.

In this process, the most important question I ask myself is this:

Do I live every day as if Jesus might come back tomorrow?

In the book of Revelation, Jesus said:

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  Revelation 22:12-13

The painful, brutally honest answer is of course, no. I will never be so perfect as to live each day as if it is my last, to live each day as if I’ll be in the presence of Jesus the next. If that is my goal, all I can do is take steps toward it. There are many minutes in a day, and I can spend more of them wisely. I can spend more minutes loving those around me the way Jesus would want.

Again Jesus Said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

Jesus asks me, like he asks Simon Peter, to take care of his people. This is my purpose. As I assess how to move forward next year, I will keep this as my focus: to spend more minutes … hours … days … loving my people.

Dear Lord, I look forward to the day that you come back and take us to our real home. While I am here I want to live my life so that I reflect your love for me. Help me to overcome my sinful nature so that the minutes turn into days of loving others as you love.  Amen

Diona

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

Josiah Celebrates Passover

Then Josiah announced that the Passover of the LORD would be celebrated in Jerusalem, and so the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. Josiah also assigned the priests to their duties and encouraged them in their work at the Temple of the LORD. (2 Chronicles 35:1-2 NLT)

Josiah was a good king who did right in the Lord’s sight. He made sure to follow the directions so that the Passover would be done as God wanted it.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). (John 20:11-16 NLT)

When Jesus was resurrected, Mary was upset because she didn’t know where Jesus was. Sometimes I think I don’t know where Jesus is. I get too caught up in my own thoughts and what I have to do, and I forget that Jesus is always with me. I can talk to him whenever I need to, and he’ll listen.

Purpose of the Book

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 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 20:30-31 NLT)

Jesus, thank you so much for this amazing gift of eternal life. It’s the best gift that I’ve ever received, and that I’ll ever receive. What you’ve done means so much to me. Please show me the way, because I want to be like you and do what’s right. I love you. Amen

Lanie (llilly2017)

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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)

From the archives. Originally published December 29, 2013.

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2 Chronicles 33; Revelation 19; Malachi 1; John 18

Manasseh built altars across the land to worship false gods. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. His reigning years peak at likely his lowest point: 10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. 11 So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:10-11, NLT).

A ring through his nose. Bound in chains. A prisoner.

12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God (2 Chronicles 33:12-13, NLT)!

Offerings. Honor. Obedience. These are the words that repeat through the four readings. I take note and quiet myself before the Lord. At a year’s end, I look back and reflect on losses, responses and responsibilities. This heart of mine still sorts through thoughts of legacy and life.

Offerings. Honor. Obedience. A look back framed by those words. A look ahead to a new year, and I pray (oh, I pray Lord!) that my offerings to You would be generous and cheerfully given of time, talent, treasure. That my thoughts and actions would honor You. And that even in the difficulties, I would choose obedience.

Lord, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Thank you, Jesus, for bending low to hear me, for answering prayers, for guiding my steps and leading me through this year’s very rough waters. I quiet myself at your feet to listen and learn. Help me to live a life that honors you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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

Revelation 18:19 “Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.”

Close your eyes, open your Bible, and point to anywhere on the page. What if this is the way we were instructed to find God’s plan for the day, the year, the expectancy of life? If so, might this denouncement of Babylon be a call for wrath towards me or towards my enemies? I would hope not! Yet this passage painfully reminds me that in one hour the hopes and dreams of a life can be destroyed. I guess that is why I read on, seeking grace from God’s throne. If I can be blown away by judgments or the act of violence from man’s hand, then I am even more in need of the study of God’s word.

I have written on more than one occasion about my great sorrow, wrestling to understand the love of God. I may have, at times, even anesthetized His love with platitudes about His will as if my helplessness was holy. Yet the Divine Christ knows my limits and will not allow me to hold these thoughts for long.

When writing in the past and before today’s post, I longed to hear God speak directly to my soul. It may be selfish, but I seek the exquisite, liquid gold flow of His love and the blinding brilliance of His glory.

This lavish love is described by Christ Jesus in John 17:20, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

I emphasize Christ’s words, “I in them, and You in Me…loved them as You loved Me.” There was and is no isolation in my desolation. The Divine was then and is with me now. With renewed hope, I read on.

The prophecy in Zechariah 18 said that all nations will worship the King (Jesus the Messiah) at the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the one feast that will still be celebrated in Messiah’s kingdom, for it is a feast of thanksgiving. Do I hear my soul again question God’s love? Autumn is the season of this everlasting Feast, and yet each autumn I experience the strongest jolt of loss. How can God call my heart to worship in the midst of my pain? Yet, His perfect peace comes undeniably with my obedience in giving thanks.

I search again and reflect on what I have read and written this year for 66 Books. A new focus word for the New Year comes to mind – RAISE. Am I to dress myself with the prayer warrior’s armor so that I can raise up broken relationships? Am I to raise awareness of the injustices I see in the treatment of patients afflicted with addiction? Or am I to raise up my countenance to look into Christ’s wonderful face?

Lord, I pray that the end of a season of writing is just the beginning preparations of this year’s call to be raised up as one of Your servants. I humbly surrender to Your lovingkindness.

2 Chronicles 32:5 “And he strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers, and built another wall outside; also he repaired the Millo in the City of David, and made war weapons and shields in abundance.”

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2 Chron. 31; Rev. 17; Zech. 13:2-9; John 16

“You will shine like silver and gold through my purifying fire.”

“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure… I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” Zechariah 13:9 NLT

In this season of celebration for the birth of our Lord and Savior, this passage in Zechariah reminds us that God’s greatest act of love was sending His Son to die for us… In essence, our Father handed us holiness!

However, our Father shows His love in another way… one that seems harsh apart from His perspective. He loves us by putting us through His refining process, which, on the surface, goes against our understanding of a loving Father towards His children.

Many are thrown off by His willingness, even His proactive efforts, to let us suffer for our good. Indeed, it makes little sense to us why He would offer a gracious salvation, but then submit us to troubles with the intention of growing us to be more like Him. Is He making us pay for our sin after all?

This is a question we each need to settle completely, because our interpretation of it impacts our view of God, and where we stand with Him. Simply put, the answer to the question of “Is God making us pay for our sin?” is no… if we believe that, we’ve missed the whole point of adversity in the context of God’s model for us. God’s refining fire is not a way designed to be viewed as a payment plan for our wrongs. We aren’t earning His love through His refining. God doesn’t love us because He refines us… He refines us because He loves us.

If He didn’t give us the attention to beautifying us with His own character, He would be a negligent parent who allows His children to continue in destructive and dangerous habits. What caring parent lets his precious offspring endanger themselves and others with immature behavior? He wouldn’t be true to His identity as our heavenly Father if He didn’t act in our best interests.

This area of spiritual growth requires unlearning old ways and perspectives, and relearning new ways of understanding our heavenly Father… including rejecting the idea that pain is bad when it is from God’s hand for our benefit. It is through this pain that we learn to return to Him, to cling to Him, and to be like Him. In essence, we learn to wear the holiness of the salvation that He gave us at such great pain to Himself.

Heavenly Father… if it were up to me, I would not choose the pain of your refining fire. But just as Your Son spoke to You in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He was to be crucified, He asked that You take what He was dealing with away, but that if it were Your will, that it be done, since He had the faith that You knew best. Father, it is that same faith we seek now… to know that whatever You put us through, is done so because You love us and know what is best for us. Thank you for loving us into becoming like You… Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

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2 Chronicles 30; Zechariah 12: -13:1; Revelation 16; John 15

Happiest Christmas! I am amazed to be writing my last post of 2017. It has been a blessed journey with 66books this year, and I am grateful.

As I look to the year ahead, John 15 directs my heart and my mind; fills me with knowledge of my true priority (Jesus and abiding- to bear true, good fruit); exhorts me to lay down my life in love; and that difficulty and hatred should not surprise me, rather I should glorify God and find unity in Him in the midst.

Sometimes, I find myself lost amidst the shifting obligations of each day, even each hour, in my large, busy family. I find myself again in the truth of God’s Word.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15 ESV

An exhortation to find my life in Christ. Now more than ever before, I find myself more easily consumed by the cares of the world. I need to value true fruit whose source is in Christ. Everything else will be burned and tossed away. I ponder: how can I invest myself in fruit that will last? As I face the new year, what changes will I make to invest more fully in the Lord and His calling?

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15 ESV

Love. I recently read a profound blog post- found here that perfectly articulated the idea of God’s “given love.” It has been with me, resounding in heart, ringing in my mind ever since. “Abide in my love.” Beautiful command; O, my heart- Abide.

Christ speaks so that His joy may be in me and my joy may be full.

Much of this first half of the year has been consumed in senior year duties, responsibilities, and priorities for my first-born, and oldest, son. As I read this Scripture, the word joy throbs in my heart. This past week, my son submitted a college admission supplementary essay with the prompt: Celebrate the role of sports in your life. In the end, the essay was about a fullness of joy that basketball has brought him. I think about those words: celebrate, joy. Wonderful words! Wonderful, wild, happy words. I want my life to treasure Christ; therefore, to treasure His Words and be filled with fullness of joy.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15 ESV

I have always pondered the offering of self; the ministry inherent in laying down a life for love. It has informed much of what I do and have done since fully surrendering my life- or rather- growing in that surrender as a young college student. And even as I write that, I am reminded again, deep in my heart, that a life is a continual surrender, a continual re-orientation… and what do I need to do today, this week, this new year- to walk in this surrendered love?

Yet, today, my heart takes note: Christ calls me friend. And He will make known to me from the Father. It is only through reading Scripture and seeking the Lord, will I know and be able to do what Christ commands. And then… friend. And the command is for love. Verse 17: These things I command you, so that you may love one another.

Dear Lord, the hushed anticipation and celebration of Your birth is upon me… and the reality that Love came down; and Love comes near; and the miracle of Incarnation is kindling life and light in my heart. Help me live for You in this new year. Help me be a vessel of Your grace and a minister of Your love. Thank You for Christmas, Lord; and for 66books; and for a year in the Bible; and for the truth of Your Word. Bless the readers and writers. Draw our hearts near. In Christ, I pray.

Note: I am writing this Christmas Eve- and the bustle of my family is all about me; and I am not entirely sure of all the transitions in this post; my little girls are waving the jingle bells they were given at church all through the house, and my dear husband is calling…so I must go…but as always, I have tried to share my heart and a bit of my life. Deepest blessings and Merry Christmas dear 66books!! 

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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