Category Archives: 66 Books

1 Samuel 18; 1 Chronicles 6; 1 Corinthians 4; Psalm 11

The wicked are stringing their bows
    and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.
They shoot from the shadows
   at those whose hearts are right. (Psalm 11:2, NLT)

The making of an enemy. The battleground of spiritual warfare. Warring spirits cloaked in human armor of tender flesh. It starts in the heart.

In 1 Samuel 18, I read of David and Saul. It started well. Saul really liked David. Saul’s son loved David. The people liked David.

From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home.

Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike (1 Samuel 18:2,5, NLT).

Songs are sung about David’s greater victories. Perspective takes new light.

So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David (1 Samuel 18:9, NLT).

David plays the harp, and Saul tries to impale him. Twice. And twice, David eludes the spear.

12 Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul (1 Samuel 18:12, NLT).

Saul offers a daughter in marriage to David, who declines from a place of humility. Saul offers another daughter with a price David could afford–but this manipulation was meant for David’s death.

24 When Saul’s men reported this back to the king, 25 he told them, “Tell David that all I want for the bride price is 100 Philistine foreskins! Vengeance on my enemies is all I really want.” But what Saul had in mind was that David would be killed in the fight (1 Samuel 18:24-25, NLT).

Vengeance on his enemies … perhaps both the Philistines and David.

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and how much his daughter Michal loved him, 29 Saul became even more afraid of him, and he remained David’s enemy for the rest of his life (1 Samuel 18:28-29, NLT).

Enemy for the rest of his life. Hatred enduring to the end. The grip of sin embedded in a human heart. It threatens with jealousy and hatred and fear. When sin roots, nothing good will come from it.

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;
    the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
    examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.
    He hates those who love violence.
He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked,
    punishing them with scorching winds.
For the righteous Lord loves justice.
   The virtuous will see his face (Psalm 11:4-7, NLT).

The Lord watches. He examines. He reveals. He judges. I read Paul’s words and check my thoughts against them.

Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due (1 Corinthians 4:2-5, NLT).

Lord, your word highlights the cunning craftiness and deceit of sin. It takes deadly aim. I want to work with a clear conscience and pure motives. Help me to guard my heart. You care for me. Help me to purge every obstacle and sin that keeps me from following you well. Help me to steward what you have given me for your glory.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 14-15; 1 Chronicles 4-5; 1 Corinthians 2

I really love to read books–this week’s book samplings from the library include how not to kill houseplants, a Nordic mystery, women warriors in history, how to help those dealing with cancer, and a couple of motivational books on pushing past obstacles.

I like a good motivational book. Sometimes my mind tries to get me to give up on pursuits. Just this past weekend, before my feet even touched the floor, my mind was automatically trying to set me up for failure. I was thankful to get my hands on a book that covered the internal fight against resistance. There were some great phrases that helped shape perspective, however, overall, it lacked the guidance I needed.

Paul writes on wisdom, and it reminds me of how much God loves me and wants to be in relationship with me. I can know the wonderful things God has freely given. God’s foundation is the only one I want to build upon.

10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.14 But people who aren’t spiritual[g can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For,

“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
    Who knows enough to teach him?”[h

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:10-16, NLT).

I’ve read King Saul’s story enough to feel sad as soon as it begins. He was impulsive, undisciplined, proud. His is a story of putting God second to his own agenda.

36 Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them.”

His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.”

But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”

37 So Saul asked God, “Should we go after the Philistines? Will you help us defeat them?” But God made no reply that day. (1 Samuel 14:36-37, NLT).

Lord, I don’t want to go anywhere without you. Your Word reminds me often to keep my eyes on you, to wait on you, to trust you. Thank you that you make wisdom available, including the very real truth about the battle against resistance. I’m so very thankful that you won’t abandon me, and that you will help me when I call. You are a loving father, and I am a grateful daughter.

Courtney (66books365)


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1 Samuel 6-8; Galatians 5; Psalm 72

I’ve heard a saying that what you focus on, you get more of it.

Dear God, give me a kingdom focus.

The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time—twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.
Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord (1 Samuel 7:2-4, NLT).

Last year I wrote down some goals in hopes to bring order and direction to my life. I had been going in too many directions, saying yes to too many people, that I didn’t really make progress in anything, in fact my efforts to make others happy took me away from the people and things God gave me to steward. When I narrowed my focus, it gave me the filter I needed to make my steps intentional. When I took my eyes off that focus, there was no shortage of requests and demands eager to distract me from the tasks that most needed my attention.

The Israelites went some time maintaining their focus on God and enjoying peace and protection. But when the backdrop began to change, they started to lose their focus and placed it elsewhere. Again.

As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.

Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”

Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:1-9, NLT. Emphasis added.).

Samuel warns them about what life will be like under a king’s rule. And their response?

“18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle” (1 Samuel 8:18-20, NLT).

Even so. We want to be like the nations around us.

Even so. Would I trade God’s peace and protection so that I could resemble the world around me? So that I could make others happy and throw myself off course of what matters and what God has called me to do?

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things (Galatians 5:16-23, NLT)!

Lord, help me to keep my eyes focused on you and your kingdom. I want to be directed by the Spirit and bear good fruit. Sometimes life’s backdrop changes, but you remain sovereign through all time.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 4-5; Galatians 4; Psalm 77

I have never seen this before, but didn’t the army of Israel look at the ark as a good luck charm – is that why they shouted?

As soon as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. – 1 Samuel 4:5 ESV

So now they are untouchable, not because God walked with them but because they turned the ark into their “god.” I can recall right away movie scenes where people used the cross as their good luck charm or even the Bible and they warded off evil – only in the movies of course.

What do people see I put my trust in – my hope in – where does my joy sustain itself? I was challenged to love those I am with so that they could see God’s love for them.

My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! – Galatians 4:19 ESV

What makes my relationship with God harder than a good luck charm is that it costs me. First, that I care so much, and secondly that it means that my conversations with others are not shallow, but rather deep and meaningful. Finally, I forget the change is indeed painful. I go forward because I have learned that the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Are there doubts? Of course, why else the good luck charms? That is why Psalm 77 is so relevant as we experience change. This verse in particular grabs my attention.

Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion? – Psalm 77:9 ESV

Just like Israel, just like those I am walking with, I pray and I know God answers. Problem is solved. Then my feelings get involved and I wonder if He has received my notice because nothing seems to be changing. Then I wonder if I have sinned a sin that has blocked His favour. Too much wondering, too much worry and when I settle down and relax, rest, God speaks His love and everything goes back on track. No lucky charm required.

Father, I have learned to be patient and I have learned to trust You. From time to time, I find a way to forget, but I love the fact that when we spend time together, everything else comes together too, even my memory. Your love is powerful, fills my cup each day. I am thankful for the little resemblance I have of You and joy in others seeing You in me. Thank you. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Judges 19-21; Mark 16

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT).

These are the opening words to a tragedy. A story that ends with this:

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).


The tragic story in Judges 19-21 didn’t begin when the troublemakers of Gibeah beat on an old man’s door.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judges 19:22, NLT).

It began here:

There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem (Judges 19:1b-2, NLT).

Whatever happened between them, I don’t know. But something happened, and she reacted. Likely, he didn’t count the cost of his actions. Surely, she didn’t count the cost of her actions. Catastrophe starts small, with an unchecked thought, word or action.

I sit with words, watching a scene unfold, grimacing at the abandonment (a host abandoning his daughter; a husband abandoning his wife; troublemakers abandoning all decency and mercy), eyes widening in shock as deaths mount by the thousands in a warfare of tribe against tribe.

I can look all over these scriptures and point out places where there’s fault. And maybe there’s something to their opening and end:

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT) … 25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).

Father God, you are Lord over all. Be Lord over my life. Be Lord over my heart. Be Lord over my words. Be Lord over my actions. I don’t want to be right in my own eyes. I want to live right by your standards. I only want your approval.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 12-16; Mark 14

29 Peter said, “Everyone else may stumble in their faith, but I will not.”

Haven’t I said those same words! I just knew I was strong in an area where God had been working but when the rug was pulled out from under me, I was not. I wasn’t prepared when something triggered that deep, emotional pain from my past.  I felt God whisper 1 Cor. 10:12 into my heart: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

37He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. The spirit wants to do what is right, but the body is weak.”

And therein lies my problem. I think I’ve got everything under control! That issue I had, it’s in the past—or so I thought. God and I had worked together for years on breaking free from that habit, that old way of dealing with the pain of the past. I was free but I made the mistake of taking that freedom for granted. I need to “stay awake and pray for strength against temptation” for it is always going to be there. I cannot fall spiritually asleep, I must be vigilant. My flesh is weak and sometimes it is just easier to give in than fight. Now I’m learning, when I’ve come to the end of my strength, the Spirit has more than enough. All I have to do is ask for it.

72 At once, the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Then Peter lost control of himself and began to cry.

For three years Jesus poured himself into the disciples. Of the twelve, Peter, the rock as Jesus named him, John, and James were his closest companions. Peter, in particular, has stood out as a leader and strong in his faith—until he wasn’t. At that moment, he didn’t want to be associated with Jesus because he feared for his life. Isn’t that my story as well? I was strong until I wasn’t.

Jesus has been pouring himself into me for a lot longer than three years. I may not have said those exact words but there are so many instances I can think of where to me it is just like denying I know him. I have been in a conversation where someone is gossiping and my spirit told me to walk away but I didn’t—I denied him. I didn’t want people to associate me as “different” (a Jesus follower). That time I clearly heard I was supposed to go help someone and I didn’t follow through, I denied him. When I didn’t grab the opportunity to ask someone I knew was dying if they were assured they were going to heaven, I was denying Jesus. I didn’t want to make someone uncomfortable—isn’t THAT a lie from the devil? There are many times I feel like I have disappointed him and just like Peter I have cried and I have asked for forgiveness.

Jesus knew Peter would struggle with his faith, that is why he prayed for him (Luke 22:31). He also knew Peter would get past it and continue spreading the gospel. Jesus restored his dignity and assured Peter he still had plenty of work for him to do (“feed my sheep)”. Peter was given new hope and new purpose!

I, too, have a Savior who sees my weaknesses and continues to love me and pour Himself into me. I am dearly loved.  He has given me new hope and new purpose. That is praise worthy!

Thank you Jesus for never giving up on me. You know my heart is set on you. Help me to stay awake and be vigilant for the times temptation comes my way. Help me to overcome any fear of proclaiming I am Yours. Give me opportunities to serve others and tell them all about You. In your precious name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

 

 

 

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Judges 5-6; Mark 11; Psalms 39, 41

I sit with Gideon this morning.

12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!

13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!

15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”

16 The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”

17 Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. 18 Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”

He answered, “I will stay here until you return” (Judges 6:12-18, NLT, emphasis added).

I notice how Gideon sees himself. I notice he has a lot of questions. I notice his doubts. I notice his need for assurance.

Gideon takes steps that slowly build up trust and confidence–going to get the offering and seeing the angel of the Lord still there; the offering ignited; the task of sacrificing of his father’s bull and tearing down of the Asherah pole; the wet fleece test; the dry fleece test.

That first moment of Gideon at the threshing floor–he was going about life as usual, and the Lord arrives with a hero’s task for him. Gideon didn’t feel ready to take on such a big responsibility. He doubted himself. He doubted the calling he heard. And maybe he doubted God. Did he wonder, “Are you really with me? Will you really be there? In this circumstance, I feel abandoned. Can I really trust you? Can I have a sign? And another one too, just to be sure?” (I placed the Lord’s assurances in bold, so my heart would see.)

In Mark 11, I read of Jesus telling some disciples to get a young donkey–where to find it, what to say if questioned. I notice his authority. And later:

As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” (Mark 11:27b-28, NLT)

Gideon: who felt small and weak, given a hero’s task. The disciples: told where to go, what to get, what to say, and they do it. The religious leaders: threatened and angered, demanding proof of permission. The fig tree: in full leaf, a posture of maturity, but fruitless and immature.

13 He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. 14 Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it (Mark 11:13-14, NLT).

Lord, be with me. Your word tells me you are trustworthy. You are the authority. I’m grateful for your patience with me. I am grateful that you will not abandon me. Help me to keep my eyes on you and to be obedient to your call.

Courtney (66books365)

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