Category Archives: 66 Books

2 Samuel 17; 2 Corinthians 10; Ezekiel 24; Psalm 72

For the Lord had determined to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster on Absalom! (2 Samuel 17:14b, NLT)

A message to deliver, men taking cover in a well. (2 Samuel 17)

Symbols and signs–a scorched pot, a wife’s death, a silent example. (Ezekiel 24)

A war waged with mighty weapons that break down strongholds. Thoughts captured. (2 Corinthians 10)

A psalm of hope and peace. Abundance. His glory. (Psalm 72)

18 Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel,
    who alone does such wonderful things.
19 Praise his glorious name forever!
    Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen! (Psalm 72:18-19, NLT)

He is in control.

11 All kings will bow before him,
    and all nations will serve him.

12 He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
    he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
13 He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
    and he will rescue them.
14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
    for their lives are precious to him. (Psalm 72:11-14, NLT)

I remind myself today, that his ways don’t often come packaged the way I imagine or expect, but he is always at work, always in control.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 16; 2 Corinthians 9; Ezekiel 23; Psalm 70, 71

I’m not too sure about wisdom coming with age. Sure, I feel I have a few things to say or to offer the ‘younger generation.’ Yet, I’m well aware that they generally like to just figure this all out by themselves. I definitely am not saying that I want others to look up to me as the example of Christian perfection; the days of hubris have long passed. Life experiences for the most part though, have taught me to say, “All is well with my soul,” even in the midst of hell on earth. Still, when I hear myself complaining of indigestion, this aching pain in my left hip, or the increasing wrinkles on my forehead and loose skin on the underside of my arms, I admit that I am being remiss as a servant of God. For how will focusing on me teach others to glorify God? Smooth sailing through calm waters may not lift the eye to seek God, but a mentor captivates with steady faith.

I think King David felt this, too. The “man after God’s own heart,” submitted to the ups and downs of life, the consequences of sin repented. David accepted with faith whatever landed in his lap (even rocks hurled by his enemy). He admonished others by saying, “So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ “It may be that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day,” (2 Samuel 16:10, 12). Can you hear David’s faith in the only One who knew him from his first cry as a babe to his last breath of life?

I, too, am sure of my salvation and of God’s presence in my  life (hence, all is well with my soul), but I long for the day that my puny efforts in serving Him here in this earthen vessel, will be shattered and left in the dirt while I fly to meet my Lord Christ in the sky. Saying this may sound like the proverbial ‘pie in the sky’ way of life. It’s just that I am well aware that I have a duty to obedience while here on earth, even though my heart is set on the joy to come. This wanting to be with Jesus does not allow me to shirk my responsibilities that continue with age. In fact, as one of the ‘older generation,’ I will be held responsible for the tasks God has given me. So being present is the most meaningful way I can touch others for Christ. Without a doubt, I need MORE of Him, and now!

Psalm 71:9, 18 “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails…” “No also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for opportunities of testimony and service yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let the last wink of my eyelids declare Your glory as I gaze upwards to You. I pray to work alongside You until You come or You take me home. Maranatha! Come, O Lord!

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.”

Janet (jansuwilkinson) All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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2 Sam. 15; 2 Cor. 8; Ezek. 22; Ps. 69

Are you a robber? I’m recovering…

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2

Recently, one of my former students contacted me to seek my thoughts on a leadership opportunity at the university. I suggested coffee during the meeting, and her response was “I’ll bring the coffee… What’s your coffee order? And, before you say no, I would really appreciate being able to do something for someone else, even something small like a cup of coffee.” My typical response would be to fight the offer, insisting that it was the responsibility of the more senior person to handle such details. But it occurred to me… I’ve experienced the indescribable joy when I can pay for someone’s meal or offer someone something they need that I have. By not allowing others to do the same for me, was I unconsciously robbing them of a blessing? Even if it was “something small like a cup of coffee”?

Reading this passage of scripture and reflecting on past experiences had me consider that every act of generosity offers the opportunity for a triple blessing… first, a blessing for a need met. Second, giving someone an opportunity to feel grateful. And third, building unity. The first blessing of meeting needs is obvious, so let’s look more closely at the other two, less apparent gifts.

Feeling gratitude is a gift in itself because it soothes our heart and addresses deep emotions. Remember the last time you felt it? Like curling up in a blanket in front of a fire while a snowstorm raged outside… gratitude is sweet.

As for building unity, generosity and gratitude work together. As we receive someone’s generosity, our gratitude pulls us beyond our needs and inspires us to pass along the treasure of generosity however we’re able. In this way, generosity and gratitude pair beautifully to overcome many wants and increases the joy of both the giver and receiver.

Second Corinthians 8:2 says, “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” When we’re in a position of want, or when we’re the one giving, we learn the give-and-take relationship that God intended as a means of meeting needs and serving each other.

We will all have opportunities to give and receive, and we’d do well to learn to do both with respect. As Paul wrote in 8:14, “Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.” As we experience the roles of giver and receiver, we come to understand each other’s struggles better. In this way, unity is nurtured. And where there’s unity, there’s more generosity, and the gift keeps giving!

Jesus… what better words to say to You than ‘thank you’, for without Your example and sacrifice, our lives would surely look and be very different. You are the original gift that keeps giving, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the best.”

Greg (gstefanelli)

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2 Samuel 14; 2 Corinthians 7; Ezekial 21; Psalm 68

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the Lord;
exult before him!
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
6 God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. Psalm 68:4-6 ESV Emphasis mine

I love these verses because they so clearly paint a picture of my God as Strong Protector who cares for the vulnerable and heartbroken. His tender mercies sing to my storm-tossed heart and shine light and hope. Yesterday, I climbed into my van and as I looked out the front window, streams of light were slanting from illuminated clouds. I looked again just to ascertain if the casting light was real. The rays were visible and the sky shifted in light and shadow.  God’s truth is visible in such beauty-pouring out unending truth and light. I catch my breath at the memory- the moments when the glory of His handiwork are more than I can take in and my whole self pauses just to try.

This day, the day that I am writing my post, a dear friend has received full guardianship (after many (4-5) years) of two children she has been caring for: fatherless children with a mother who was terminally ill with an unusual lung disease. The mother is at rest with the Lord this day and the sweet children will now join my friend’s family in full. Over these last years, as the mother weakened, my friend and her family assumed more and more of their care. When I think of God setting the solitary in a home, I see this ill mother who was cared for tenderly by my friend and her family. I see these precious girls… who long before, already had a home prepared for them- as my friend and her family painted and decorated bedrooms and in every way- they have prepared for these girls so that they would know the full love of God and family in this grievous transition. My friend served, cared, and loved this mother and her two daughters and now these daughters join her family as beloved as her own.

Verse 6 God settles the solitary in a home;

And I am reminded of the heart importance of a home and quickened to strengthen my hands, my heart, and my vision and do the good work of creating and developing mine to be one of welcome, beauty, love, goodness, and order. I think the order might be the hardest part for me, but I am trying and determined to continue on. Things that were difficult when the children were small have taken on a completely new shape. I pray the Lord help me to do the things I do not like to do but are so needed to bring that peace. I pray I recognize the holiness and preciousness of home and the ministry available through one.

19 Blessed be the Lord,
 who daily bears us up;
    God is our salvationSelah
20 Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death. Psalm 68:19-20 ESV Emphasis mine

As I struggle with many things in this season, I am comforted by these verses. I want to rest myself in the Lord who will daily bear me up. My salvation and My deliverance. Can I let myself be small in His midst and feel the strength of that bearing?

O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God;
sing praises to the Lord, Selah
33 to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34 Ascribe power to God,
    whose majesty is over Israel,
    and whose power is in the skies.
35 Awesome is God from his[h] sanctuary;
    the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed be God! Psalm 68: 32-35 ESV Emphasis mine

Lord, thank You that You are Awesome. Thank You that You are the One who gives power and strength to Your people! Thank you for my friends and their ministry to these bereaved children. You have not left them as orphans- you have already prepared a place for them. May they know You strongly, and in power, during this time. Please help me to create a home that is a refuge from the storm and so reflects Your protection, comfort, and shelter. Thank You that You bear our burdens. Help me to know Your mercy and burden-bearing in a living way. Lord, thank You for all the ways You reveal Yourself through Your creation and the breath-taking beauty that often takes me by surprise.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66-67

A friend of mine said this past weekend something that stuck: “One of Satan’s tricks is to take what is abnormal and make it appear normal.” That’s sin! That’s the stunt that the he played on Eve, and then Eve on Adam: enter in the death spiral of sin.

Amnon takes what isn’t his at the expense of another. To sin, or trespass means that I cross into a place that wasn’t intended for me. Isn’t that the deadly game I try to play with God, when I sin? I end up where I don’t belong; without God’s grace calling me home, the path leads farther and farther from Him.

I am confronted with God’s question to the house of Israel, “Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your ancestors and go astray after their detestable things?” Ezekiel 20:32Am I going to turn away from God and seek those things which will never satisfy? Will I turn away from God’s view of normal to chase the abnormal and dysfunctional? Will I seek material comfort and temporary illusions of security at the expense of the one who made me to know and enjoy Him?

It’s from the Word of God that I learn what is real, true, “normal.” The Psalmist understands this. He has experienced pain and suffering but has known restoration. He has felt trapped and been without vision but learned that God is faithful:  “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.” Psalm 66:10-12.

Paul and his fellow believers have been there as well; “but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way; through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beating, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”2 Corinthians 6:4-5.  How did they respond? “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:6Only in God’s world, his Kingdom is such a response normal, much less possible, but that is the Kingdom where my citizenship lies.

Holy Spirit, help me to keep sight of what is “normal,” and to be obedient. When I go through difficult times, by your power, work your purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness, and genuine love deep into my being. Let me speak only that which is sincere and true. Provide the faith needed to keep my eyes on you. It’s by your grace and mercy that I ask these things.  Amen.

Kathy

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2 Samuel 11; 2 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 18; Psalms 62, 63

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Brokenness and adversity came into the world with sin.  I have spent the better part of the past 20 years on a journey with Jesus through brokenness and we are not finished yet.  It has not been an easy road by any means.  We have gone through dark places.  Together.  We have peeled off layers of scar tissue built up over my wounded heart.  Together.  He has never asked me to go into those places of brokenness alone. Sometimes he had to carry me. There were times I could not see him and felt lost and afraid.

I went on a tour of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky when I was a teenager. While we were in the middle, the guide turned off the light.  I put my hand on my nose directly in front of my eyes and could not see my hand.  There was not one ray of light. It was the darkest I had ever experienced. At one point of this journey, that was an analogy of how I felt.  I could not see where I was going.  Luckily, I had hold of Jesus and he knew exactly where we were going.  We have “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”  It guides our way.

This life is hard and just because we are walking with Jesus does not make troubles go away. What happens is HE goes through things with us.  That is how we can say: we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  I had to cling to those words as Jesus carried me through the darkness. They are words he gave me in the midst of my despair to give me hope.  The best decision I ever made was to believe Jesus—not only to believe IN him, but to believe what he said was truth.  There is an end in sight; it is just ahead and I can see it because of his light.  The destination has a name:  freedom!  Each step I take with him gets me closer.

8Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Opening my bible is like walking with a friend. It reminds me of the journey we’ve been on together. As I turn the pages I see notes and dates—reminders of conversations with my Lord.  There are the times I prayed, the times I cried, and the times He took me to exactly what I needed to hear at that precise moment.  There are nuggets of truth, conviction of sin in my life, and words of love spoken to me. It is proof of his love for ME because the words become personal.  No one knows me as he does and he allows me to know him through its pages.  He has shown me what true intimacy looks like.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 Father I thank you that you take such good care of me. You fill me when I’m empty, encourage me when I’m faltering, and pick me up when I fall.  Your love is better than life.  This journey we have been on is difficult and there are times I wanted to quit. But you pursue me and your love draws me.  Jesus has carried me when I have been weak and I will sing praises to him forever.  It is in His name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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2 Samuel 10; 2 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 17; Psalms 60, 61

Misinterpreted motives lead to war. The Ammonites thought the visit was in deceit. The truth was, David sent his ambassadors in honor and to show honor. (Be careful of who influences thoughts.)

But when David’s ambassadors arrived in the land of Ammon, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, their master, “Do you really think these men are coming here to honor your father? No! David has sent them to spy out the city so they can come in and conquer it!” (2 Samuel 10:2b-3, NLT)

A broken covenant leads to wrath. Israel sought a back-up plan. The truth is that God is the one who makes the way. (He sets paths straight.)

22 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. 23 It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!” (Ezekiel 17:22-24, NLT)

I read through 2 Corinthians 3 several times, and each time cried harder over God’s great love and grace upon my life. He has taken this heart of mine and written upon it.

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NLT)

In my overwhelm, I cry out to you, Lord, and you hear me. You know my heart, and you give me new eyes in light of your word. Oh, that I would always seek you.

O God, listen to my cry!
    Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
    I cry to you for help
    when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
    for you are my safe refuge,
    a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
    safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Interlude

For you have heard my vows, O God.
    You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name.
Add many years to the life of the king!
    May his years span the generations!
May he reign under God’s protection forever.
    May your unfailing love and faithfulness watch over him.
Then I will sing praises to your name forever
    as I fulfill my vows each day. (Psalm 61, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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