Category Archives: 66 Books

2 Samuel 21-23; Psalm 18; Romans 3

I’m reading The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare with my youngest child. There is a scripture quoted in it repeatedly:

35 He trains my hands for battle;
    he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. (2 Samuel 22:35, NLT)

I paused in my 66 Books reading today, because that scripture appeared in 2 Samuel and Psalm 18. I took a longer look at David’s men, described in 2 Samuel. Of his elite three, I noticed qualities of strength, loyalty, perseverance, and courage.

Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled. 10 He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!

11 Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, 12 but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory. (2 Samuel 23:9-12, NLT, emphasis added)

I consider the army I thought would have been with me in my greatest battles. I remember the names of the elite who stayed.

He trains my hands for battle. He readies me for difficult tasks.

The Lord does bring about great victories. He’s looking for someone to stay (when they’re tired, to hold the ground when the army flees). Oh, times of testing reveal so much (I cast my cares upon him.).

True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him,

“You will be proved right in what you say,
    and you will win your case in court.” (Romans 3:3-4, NLT)

Lord, I fix my eyes on you. You are the source of my strength. You are my hope. You are true.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 34; Romans 2

I have changed jobs/ministries over the past 30 years 6 times and as I enter my 31st year of ministry, I start my 7th place of ministry.

Everytime I find myself in transition, I dream of being asked to come back.  I dream that they will realize how much they miss me or need me and quickly find a way to bring me back.  I say dream because it never did happen. I kind of get what David went through when his own family members were not calling him back to serve as their king.

Say to the leaders of Judah, “Why are you the last tribe to think about bringing King David back home?  He is your brother, your own relative! Why haven’t you done anything to bring him back?” – 2 Samuel 19:11-12  CEV

One thing has happened though – somewhere along the way, maybe after 1 or 2 years of being away, I will hear things.  Sometimes they are direct and sometimes indirectly I will hear that it was wrong for them to let me walk away and they should have fought harder to keep me.  The reasons are really good reasons and most have to do with my character and walk with God. God tries to show me that He is my protector, He guides me and when it is my time to go, it is my time.  My character has nothing to do with it, He just wants to protect me and put me in the right place of ministry for that time.

If you honor the Lord,
    his angel will protect you.
 Discover for yourself
    that the Lord is kind.
    Come to him for protection,
    and you will be glad. – Psalm 34:7-8  CEV

Makes me think that maybe I forget to invite God back into my life after going through some of these life-changing transitions. Actually, this last transition was the worst. I had to leave a ministry before God opened the door to the next place.  His goodness was all I had. I turned to Him in ways I would never had done if I was in a safe place.

You surely don’t think much of God’s wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don’t you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him? – Romans 2:3-4  CEV

Father, thank you for loving me even if when there are times I am not thinking of You.  Thank you for caring and protecting me even though I may feel I am not in a safe place.  Each step I take, I take with You.  So looking back, I see You moulding my character, making me into a better leader.  Basically, challenging me to lead others into Your incredible and life-changing presence.  I thank You for giving me this ministry. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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2 Samuel 9-10; 1 Chronicles 18-19; Psalm 89; Acts 26

12One time the leading priests gave me permission and the power to go to Damascus. 13On the way there, at noon, I saw a light from heaven. The light was brighter than the sun. It flashed all around me and the men who were traveling with me. 14We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice speaking to me in the Jewish language. The voice said, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you doing things against me? You are only hurting yourself by fighting me.’ 15I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus. I am the One you are trying to hurt. 16Stand up! I have chosen you to be my servant. You will be my witness—you will tell people the things that you have seen and the things that I will show you. This is why I have come to you today. 17I will not let your own people hurt you. And I will keep you safe from the non-Jewish people too. These are the people I am sending you to. 18I send you to open their eyes that they may turn away from darkness to the light. I send you that they may turn away from the power of Satan and turn to God. Then their sins can be forgiven and they can have a place with those people who have been made holy by believing in me.’

19“King Agrippa, after I had this vision from heaven, I obeyed it. 20I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God. I told them to do things to show that they really had changed. I told this first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and in every part of Judea, and also to the non-Jewish people. 21This is why the Jews took me and were trying to kill me in the Temple. 22But God helped me and is still helping me today. With God’s help I am standing here today and telling all people what I have seen. But I am saying nothing new. I am saying what Moses and the prophets said would happen. 23They said that the Christ would die and be the first to rise from death. They said that the Christ would bring light to the Jewish and non-Jewish people.” Acts 26: 12-23 (ICB)

Paul’s testimony is one of the most famous conversion stories in the Christian faith and literally a case laid out in his own defense to Agrippa.

This is who I was…this is what God did in my life…this is who I am today…

Sharing the testimonies of my life isn’t about attention seeking or getting in my fifteen minutes of fame. Testimonies are about giving glory to God for the ways He moves in my life. Testimonies are stories of encouragement; me sharing about the struggles I have faced and how God is bringing me through. They are stories of miracles. They are stories of awe and worship, a reminder of God’s goodness and why He is worth of praise.

From beginning to end, the Bible is chock-full of the testimonies of men and women who were chosen and raised up by God to accomplish great things in His Kingdom – Moses, Noah, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, John, Peter, Paul, and of course Jesus, to name small handful.

1I will always sing about the Lord’s love.

I will tell of his loyalty from now on.

2I will say, “Your love continues forever.

Your loyalty goes on and on like the sky.” Psalm 89:1-2 (ICB)

And, David wrote song after song in praise of God, sharing testimonies of his journey from a young man slaying a giant to battle after battle won as a victory of the Lord.

The Bible reminds me that God will never leave me nor forsake me, but when I have moments of weakness, I sometimes forget that truth, and instead, listen to the lies of the enemy. Then I hear someone’s story of what God did for them, or I recognize through my own fog that He has done something surprising for me. A testimony is shared and I once more hold onto the truth that God is good and greatly to be praised, my countenance is lifted, and hope returns to my heart.

Yesappa, Thank You for making me a part of your story, for giving me testimonies to share as encouragement to myself and for others. May my life demonstrate Your goodness, Your love, Your provision, Your sacrifice to those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

From the archives. Originally published May 18, 2016.

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1 Chronicles 14-16; Acts 24

There are so many examples in the Bible of David’s reliance on God. David’s got big decisions to make, and in simple, direct ways, he asks, “Should I? Will you?” He doesn’t use flourishing formality.

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he marched out to meet them. The Philistines arrived and made a raid in the valley of Rephaim. 10 So David asked God, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”

The Lord replied, “Yes, go ahead. I will hand them over to you.” (1 Chronicles 14:8-10, NLT)

And he gives God the glory.

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
10 Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
11 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
12 Remember the wonders he has performed,
    his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
13 you children of his servant Israel,
    you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.

23 Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
    Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
24 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
    Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
25 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!

28 O nations of the world, recognize the Lord,
    recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.
29 Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!
    Bring your offering and come into his presence.
Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor. (1 Chronicles 15:8-13, 23-25, 28-29, NLT)

Certainly one result of cutting back on social media is that I am freed to more quiet thoughts and contemplation. I spend more time laughing with my family, taking walks, and enjoying simple play with a puppy. And even more than those joys, I am up at dawn to see the breaking light of a new day, to listen as the world wakens with bursting birdsong–the whole earth truly does sing. It’s all praise. And when I’m not filling my mind with other people’s thought feeds, I have time to quiet and know that God walks with me. He listens. To think I can ask him, “Should I? Will you?”!

Lord Jesus, I thank you for your faithful presence, how you bend low to hear my simple whispers. And I thank you for your many answers to prayer, your patient guidance, and the sweet gifts of time you have given me.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 3-5; 1 Chronicles 12; Psalm 122; Acts 22

1 Chronicles 12 sings of the Mighty Men who came alongside David and helped him battle.

Note: all emphasis mine in the Scripture quotes

 They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand; they were Benjaminites, Saul’s kinsmen. Verse 2 ESV

From the Gadites there went over to David at the stronghold in the wilderness mighty and experienced warriors, expert with shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions and who were swift as gazelles upon the mountains: ESV

David’s army is gathered.

These Gadites were officers of the army; the least was a match for a hundred men and the greatest for a thousand. 15 These are the men who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it was overflowing all its banks, and put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.

16 And some of the men of Benjamin and Judah came to the stronghold to David. 17 David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come to me in friendship to help me, my heart will be joined to you; but if to betray me to my adversaries, although there is no wrong in my hands, then may the God of our fathers see and rebuke you.” 18 Then the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said,

“We are yours, O David,
    and with you, O son of Jesse!
Peace, peace to you,
    and peace to your helpers!
    For your God helps you.”

Then David received them and made them officers of his troops. ESV

22 For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God. ESV

In verses  23- 37, these men are described as:  mighty men of valor for war; mighty men of valor, famous men in their fathers’  houses; men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; equipped for battle with all the weapons of war, to help David[c] with singleness of purpose; seasoned troops ready for battle.

Strength, vigor, physical prowess, mighty men,

___and____

Heart devotion, loyalty, anointing, Spirit moving

38 All these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with a whole heart to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. 39 And they were there with David for three days, eating and drinking, for their brothers had made preparation for them. 40 And also their relatives, from as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, came bringing food on donkeys and on camels and on mules and on oxen, abundant provisions of flour, cakes of figs, clusters of raisins, and wine and oil, oxen and sheep, for there was joy in Israel. 1 Chronicles 12 ESV

When I initially read this chapter, this last section sung out to me first. Verses 38-40… for there was joy in Israel. Yes. How we need respite; times of fellowship and feasting. Times of strength and singing. In the midst of the great battles of life. In the midst of David’s battle for his life and for the kingdom. I can feel the heart-swell of joy. I can feel the power pulse through the chapter. What a congregation of valiant men… of warriors!

There is joy in single-mindedness, commonality, and fellowship! There is joy in food laid out for a feast in celebration and succor.

I have young men growing up in my home. The references to strength, power, victory, and valor ring especially true and poignant for me. And I am the wife of a treasured man. Men need each other to face the battles of life. We all need each other. I hope that my home can continue to grow into a place where warriors can rest as they prepare to face the battles of their day. And I pray that my men find a commonality and a joy in the Lord who is their strength and the victory found in Him.

Lord, let the joy of feasting in you sing through my home. As we celebrate victories, and as we face battles, let our family be a place of respite and succor. Anoint us to be of one mind, single in action and purpose. I turn my face to You. I hide myself in You. You are worthy- and in every battle- and in each victory- MAY YOU BE PRAISED!

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2 Samuel 1-2; 1 Chronicles 11; Psalm 96, 106; Acts 21

26 Abner shouted down to Joab, “Must we always be killing each other? Don’t you realize that bitterness is the only result? When will you call off your men from chasing their Israelite brothers?” (2 Samuel 2:26, NLT)

I’ve drastically cut back visits to Facebook this year. When my own concerns are enough to manage, it felt undermining to go online and hear the seemingly unfiltered and raw (sometimes harsh and hateful) thoughts of people I know. I imagine the bloodshed of words hitting heart marks.

I guard my heart. I spend more time with my face in books about puppies, purpose, and boundaries. I read devotionals and encouragement and listen to podcasts to renew my mind and fill my heart with God’s Word. I need him.

David is king, a high point in his life, I’m sure. I read the names of his mightiest warriors. There’s one name that stands out in the long list:

41 Uriah the Hittite; (1 Chronicles 11:41, NLT)

Right now (or rather, then), Uriah lives and fights. But I know what happens later–a king will sin and there will be casualties and consequences. I read his name with knowing and a heavy heart. Must we always be killing each other?

A mob of voices. An angry crowd. A great riot. Accusations and threats.

30 The whole city was rocked by these accusations, and a great riot followed. Paul was grabbed and dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him. 31 As they were trying to kill him, word reached the commander of the Roman regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He immediately called out his soldiers and officers and ran down among the crowd. When the mob saw the commander and the troops coming, they stopped beating Paul.

33 Then the commander arrested him and ordered him bound with two chains. He asked the crowd who he was and what he had done. 34 Some shouted one thing and some another. Since he couldn’t find out the truth in all the uproar and confusion, he ordered that Paul be taken to the fortress. 35 As Paul reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent the soldiers had to lift him to their shoulders to protect him. 36 And the crowd followed behind, shouting, “Kill him, kill him!” (Acts 21:30-36, NLT)

Must we always be killing each other? Oh, if the mob could hear themselves, if they could see their hearts. Some didn’t know the reason for their attack–shouting one thing, then another–but their hateful intention was clear, “Kill him!”

Lord, I want to keep close to you. Help me to guard my heart and keep my eyes on you. Words and actions are such a window into the condition of a heart. Renew my mind, Lord. Soften my heart. Let no bitterness grow here.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 30-31; 1 Chronicles 10; Acts 20

Sunday morning in church I was reminded again how important it was to acknowledge God, to walk with Him and to be sure that I am not so self-sufficient to realize that I do not need God every day, every hour of the day and with every breath I take.  He cares so much and protects me from falling away from my relationship with Him.

My friends, don’t be so greedy with what the Lord has given us! The Lord protected us and gave us victory over the people who attacked. – I Samuel 30:23   CEV

It was a vivid sermon for I was thinking of a friend of mine, a leader in our church community who left his wife for another woman.  No one can fathom how it happened.  What a legacy this 70-year-old man has left after years of following Jesus.

Saul died because he was unfaithful and disobeyed the Lord. He even asked advice from a woman who talked to spirits of the dead,  instead of asking the Lord. So the Lord had Saul killed and gave his kingdom to David, the son of Jesse. – 2 Chronicles 10:13-14   CEV

I was thinking of my own legacy and my own pride.  I was reminded that I too can fall away unless I put myself in God’s care.  I want to finish the work Christ gave me to do.  I want to tell people the good news of following Jesus.  I want to disciple those who are searching and those who have just began their journey.

But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God’s great kindness. Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God’s church. It is the flock that he bought with the blood of his own Son. I now place you in God’s care. Remember the message about his great kindness! This message can help you and give you what belongs to you as God’s people. – Acts 20: 24,28,32   CEV

Father, I want to be under Your care.  Your kindness is more than I can imagine.  Sometimes I wonder why I take advantage to sin thinking I can just ask for forgiveness later. These steps away from You do not keep me walking with You, they take me away from You. If I am going to be able to give to the Church Your message of kindness and the good news that comes from following Jesus, I must make that decision myself and I must walk with You, closely, and not from a distance.  Thank You for Your Word has challenged my heart once again and has kept me and changed me.  

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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