Category Archives: 66 Books

Daniel 10-12; John 20

Daniel 12 and John 20 juxtaposed to each other.

And one key word sings: RISE.

But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise[i] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”  Daniel 12 NIV

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake…those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens…those who lead many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever.”

Awake and Shine like Stars forever and ever.

 

One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”  Daniel 12 NIV

“astonishing…”

My heart awakes.

13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” Daniel 12 NIV

“You will rest…then… you will rise”

RISE.

 

For as yet they did not [b]know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. John 20 NKJV

“He must rise.”

RISE

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to [c]Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the [d]disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.  John 20 NKJV

I have frequently pondered the joyful astonishment in this section of John 20. The quick recognition. The beloved realization.

“I am ascending….”

Lord, there is so much grief, sorrow, and loss in this world and in this life. Yet, in You, we rise. Holy Spirit, only You can make resurrection life real and tangible to me; to all those who are lost; to Your people who suffer; to me who can be wrapped in the whirlwind of the world.  Your truth is astonishing. You are astonishing. Joy, gladness, everlasting life, goodness- is utterly astonishing. Astonish me, Lord. I love You. Help my life to reflect You and my love for You. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Daniel 7-9; Psalm 91; John 19

Daniel gets visions that terrify him, images and meanings he doesn’t understand.

26 “This vision about the 2,300 evenings and mornings is true. But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret.”

27 Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it. (Daniel 8:26-27, NLT)

They are explained to him, and the end result, after all the struggle, is victory.

26 “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. (Daniel 9:26, NLT)

Psalm 91 proclaims the Lord’s presence and protection. Terrors, disease, deadly traps, the Lord says:

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16, NLT

They mocked Jesus, slapped him, crowned him with thorns. Pilate knew enough to fear.

Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”

When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”

The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”

11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:5-11, NLT)

The love of the Lord and his victory are woven throughout the scriptures–the thread that breathed existence holds the world together. Forces that punish, manipulate, deceive are put in proper light. Battles waged on earth are fought also in heavenly realms. An Anointed One is killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing … taken down from a cross, wrapped in a cloth, and put in a tomb. It may have looked like an end, but the victory was and is always his.

This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him. (Psalm 91:2, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Daniel 1-3; Psalm 88; John 17

Daniel is one of my favorite books of the bible. The early chapters are filled with God taking care of the exiles as they dwell in Babylon—in particular Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They remained true to their God and refused to worship any of the foreign gods. No matter what King Nebuchadnezzar threatened them with, they were unwilling to renounce their faith. They were willing to die rather than forsake the Lord. Because of this, God blessed them.

Daniel is devoted to God:

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Dan 1:8) NIV

And God blesses him:

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. (Dan 1:17) NIV

Daniel seeks God’s direction:

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. (Dan 1:17-18)

God answers their prayer:

19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. (Dan 1:19)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to bow down to other gods:

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

God saves them and brings glory to His name:

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” (Dan 3:28-29)

Meditating on these chapters, their act of devotion has spurred a fresh resolve in me. They were constantly praising and worshiping God in public. They didn’t care who heard them; they were unwilling to compromise. I must confess I have noticed myself compromising in the area of praying before a meal when I am in public. There are many times I go to a restaurant with people and do not pray before I eat—even with fellow believers. I am more concerned with what others around me will think than giving God the recognition of His provision. The Lord has blessed me and deserves my devotion. He deserves to be praised and thanked for the abundance in my life.  So, from now on I am going to pray quietly to myself if I am with a group of non-believers with my head down and eyes closed.  Maybe others might see me and do the same.  When I am with a group of believers, I am going to lead us to pray out loud.

Jesus prayed for the disciples:

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:16-18) NIV

Daniel and his friends lived their lives that way; they knew they were not of this world. They did not let the world dictate their actions.  They were true to their God. I pray to live my life the same way.

Lord, I pray that my love for you overcomes any fear of what others think or say. I want to live my life devoted to you. I think our world today is no different than Babylon and like Daniel, I want to keep my focus on you. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Ezekiel 40-42; John 14

While Jesus was making his ultimate journey to the cross, he continued teaching those around him. His words were often confusing to them because they didn’t have an understanding of the scope of what Jesus was doing.

The passages in Ezekiel were measurements and meaning to the temple. In John, Jesus speaks, and I listen. I have a sweet luxury of the written word, and I can return to it often and sit at my Savior’s feet.

15 If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

23 Jesus replied, All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

30 “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going (John 14:15-31, NLT).

Jesus was fulfilling a requirement to show his love for the Father. And in these passages he takes time to explain to the disciples who he is, that he is making a way, that he is coming back–assurances and comfort. He tells them he’s not leaving them as orphans, but sending the Holy Spirit who will guide in truth. He leaves a gift, and it’s something only he can give, and we won’t find it in this world. This world won’t give the kind of peace that Jesus can. Jesus explains these things to the disciples while he is with them–and this is deeply meaningful to me: that he prepares them, comforts them, provides for them, assures them. There is so much love and care in this dialogue.

Lord Jesus, I’m grateful for the ability to read these words and read them often. You are the example I want to follow–your love, your wisdom, your obedience, your guidance, your provision. You show me how to be the kind of friend and parent who cares tenderly, lovingly, responsibly. This is relationship. This is treasure. Thank you, Lord. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 31-33; John 11

The resurrection of Lazarus. There were so many things going on when we come to John 11. Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick. He is petitioned to go quickly to heal him. Jesus waits two more days before traveling to see his friend. That’s where we come across the first character study. It’s with the disciple Thomas. Thomas later in the Gospels doubts the resurrection of Jesus, but here he is ready to die with Jesus. There were hostile territories they would be passing through and Thomas believes they may die before even reaching Lazarus. Jesus has told them that Lazarus has died, so we find Thomas stating the following:

16 So Thomas, called the Twin,2 said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16 [ESV])

Thomas was willing to die with Jesus in chapter 11 and later in this passage he witnesses the resurrection of Lazarus, but later doubts that the same thing could have happened to Jesus. Here he is courageous, later he is doubtful. What happened to Thomas along the way? None of us really know, but it brings out the fact that we need to stay in touch with Jesus and His power to change lives lest we too fall into a doubtful jaded place in our spiritual lives.

Jesus and the disciples get to Mary and Martha and see how distraught they are. How hopeless they are and even thought Jesus knows what’s going to happen, he weeps with them. Verse 35 is the shortest verse in the Bible…

35 Jesus wept. (John 11:35 [ESV])

Even in our darkest most emotional moments we are not alone. And on this side of eternity the one thing we know is that when we weep, Jesus weeps with us. He is our high priest and has suffered all that we have suffered. He stands with us and weeps as we weep. What a powerful picture of God’s love for us all.

That brings us to our third observation. The religious leaders instead of being convinced of Jesus’ Messiah-ship at this point are ready to kill Him. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Can you believe this? Read it for yourself:

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation… (John 11:49-51 [ESV])

The darkness of the human heart can be very deep. Don’t be surprised, then, when you share the gospel with friends and family, if people who saw Jesus resurrect Lazarus are ready to kill Him. Our job — like Jesus — is to be faithful to the mission God has given us and let Him handle the consequences.

A couple of question this morning:

  • Have you lost your zeal for Jesus? Are you falling into a season of doubt. Ask Him to rekindle that love you have had for Him in the past.
  • Are you grieving over a lost loved one or a broken relationship? Remember Jesus cares and is weeping with you today.
  • If for some reason you stumbled across this blog by accident today and don’t know Jesus at all, what will it take? He has raised the dead, He has performed miracles way beyond what our minds can imagine. Yet today He wants to have a personal relationship with you. Please let Him into your life to have that relationship.

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Ezekial 28-30; John 10

25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” (Ezekial 28 ESV)

I am not fully comfortable in my neighborhood; naturally introverted and very private, there are many times I want to retreat to the woods (again – as some may know I lived deep in the woods; indeed, juxtaposed right up against a national forest for 6 years prior to our move to this state). And I sometimes feel neighbors’ contempt. We do not own this house, and we certainly do not fit the parameters of this neighborhood. We are sometimes the objects of scorn. But I treasure the above verses. First, I treasure the promise of security. Second, I treasure the Lord’s great love. No matter what, we (my family and I) are a people for His own possession- and we are loved. We are not loved because of our social status, our home upkeep, our car (or car care), or our physical beauty. We are loved because Jesus. This is precious to me, and I hide myself in this protecting shelter.

John 10

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  ESV

I think about the scornful voices. I think about many choices I make and paths I choose. Ultimately, I must follow my Shepherd’s voice. There is something to be said for being true to that voice; to the leadership of Jesus in my life. Fun and seemingly harmless choices for so many- I sometimes know I just can’t. I can’t. Scorn from without the church; scorn from within. There is a witness (in my spirit), and I choose to (and I must) be true.

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ESV

Jesus does not flee when He sees the wolf coming. He offers His very Life. Safe Pasture. Protection. Good leadership. Security. He promises: I know my own and my own know me.  O, deepen this intimate knowing in my life, O Lord!

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” ESV

Over many years, as I grew up in a faith of my own, plucked out of a family with no Savior, I worried I would be snatched. I will never forget the first time I stood in church and heard (and sang) the song: In Christ Alone by the Gettys: “No power of hell; No scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand…”  Spirit-infused reassurance and truth flowed like molten gold from song to soul. And still, to this day, does.

Lord, sometimes I don’t understand why I must hold to a specific conviction- other than knowing I must. I must be personally faithful to Your Voice in my life. Help me to hear You, O Lord. Deepen my intimate knowing of You. Thank You for security in You. Help me understand what it means. Hide me in Your shelter from the scorn of man. Your very life is invested in me. Help me understand. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Ezekiel 25-27; Psalm 85; John 9

Were the Pharisees upset because Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath, or because they themselves were unable to perform miracles? Was it because they didn’t feel the blind man deserved healing? Was it because all the attention was diverted from their pious ways to this Jesus who was gaining a following? Was it anger? Offense? Disbelief? Jealousy? Hatred?

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:2-5, NLT, emphasis added)

A blind man (from birth) can now see. Where’s the party? (Instead, he’s interrogated. And even his parents kept a safe distance away from him.)

When I first became a Christian as a new adult, a sibling skeptically commented to another, “We’ll see how long that lasts.”

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
    for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
    But let them not return to their foolish ways.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
    so our land will be filled with his glory. (Psalm 85:8-9, NLT)

 

When my husband, kids and I didn’t participate in the lie (consequently breaking the reach his legacy of lies), that relative wouldn’t speak to or see me/us for two years.

This year, a pursuit to establish healthy boundaries, to lose weight, to change–each was met with anger and/or silence from some extended family and some years-long friends.

Where’s the party? When God shows up in a life and starts His transforming change, isn’t it cause for celebration?

When I went in for my post-op visit after last week’s cataract surgery, the assistant removed the patch and bandage over my eye. At first I wouldn’t open my eyes.

“Open your eyes,” she encouraged. “You’ll like what you see.”

And I opened my eyes and saw with clarity through an eye that, for more than half my life, had worn prescription glasses, and was more recently clouded by cataracts. I started to cry.

“Is it OK to cry?” I asked, holding back the largest wave of emotion.

“Yes,” she said. “I remember, you’re the crier.”

Father God, I’m grateful for the gifting and talent and wisdom you have measured out to people all over the world. Because of a man’s interest in healing eye disease, I can see. Because of one believer’s response to a call in her life, a nurse prayed with me before the operation. Lord, when I look with holy vision, I see your work in the world and in the hearts of those around me. When your work in my life is met with anger and silence from another’s heart, I trust that you are at work there too (because you’ve used those same responses in me to look deeper). And I can be grateful and peaceful instead of hurt. Thank you, God, for restored vision and new vision.

Courtney (66books365)

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