Category Archives: 66 Books

2 Kings 2:4-6; Matthew 5

–God—who is  More Than Enough—

2 Kings 2: 4 slices close … leaving this vulnerable heart

exposed;

the desperation and the terror of the woman pulses through the first paragraph:

Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” ESV emphasis mine

Yet-  in her desperation- faith rises- she cried to Elisha.  He responds:

 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” ESV

What do you have in the house?….nothing but a jar of oil.

And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ESV

She went into a “secret” place; a private place (shut the door behind yourself)- and she poured from her jar- into all the jars they gathered in obedience.

And God provided and delivered.

The Lord can take the small capacity of my oil and multiply it again and again; above and beyond.  I ponder what this oil is in my life. Different thoughts surface for me.

What surfaces for you?

Another thought swirls for me:

What do I have in the (this) house?

There is a circumstance in my life that sometimes leads me to what feels like the very edge of desperation. The pressure wipes memories from my mind and tightens vessels in my body. It presses on my chest with a weight that can flatten me to the bed, to the chair, to the floor; flatten the life out of me.

This chapter:

The servant’s husband was dead; a man who served the Lord. The creditor is coming to take her two children as slaves; the family that remains in the wake of her husband’s death. My heart roils with her grief and despair; this vulnerable woman.

(Again)

So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” ESV emphasis mine

Sometimes I despise the small things… the “vessel of oil” that is mine in my life. The Lord reminds me that He is fully able to take that small thing and multiply it into a full, bounty of provision.

Lord, help me consecrate my oil unto You. Let me live in obedience to You. May I see and experience the bounty of Your provision. Increase my faith to ask of You and to take any needed actions/steps. You do all things well. Amen.

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2 Kings 2-3; Psalm 48; Matthew 4

The view outside of my front window is of one large shade garden. There are several gardens in our yard, and most of them now are dominated by weeds. Last year, losses and crises took my attention from home to urgent issues. And this year, I’ve had to examine areas of my life and focus small first to nurture things that have been neglected–the garden is certainly symbolic of that.

This morning, I head out to the big garden with gloves and clippers to try to take back what two growing seasons have taken over. I read in 2 Kings 3 of armies in the wilderness: “The king of Edom and his troops joined them, and all three armies traveled along a roundabout route through the wilderness for seven days. But there was no water for the men or their animals (2 Kings 3:9, NLT).

They called on Elisha who explained, “This is what the Lord says: This dry valley will be filled with pools of water! 17 You will see neither wind nor rain, says the Lord, but this valley will be filled with water. You will have plenty for yourselves and your cattle and other animals. 18 But this is only a simple thing for the Lord, for he will make you victorious over the army of Moab! 19 You will conquer the best of their towns, even the fortified ones. You will cut down all their good trees, stop up all their springs, and ruin all their good land with stones.”

20 The next day at about the time when the morning sacrifice was offered, water suddenly appeared! It was flowing from the direction of Edom, and soon there was water everywhere (2 Kings 3:16-20, NLT).

In Matthew, Jesus is tempted by Satan–to satisfy himself, to prove himself, to exalt himself. Jesus responds to each offer with scripture. I think on this now, because whether it’s temptation (to take things into my own hands, to prove myself, to be in charge) or accusation, an enemy’s motives always reveal an intention to kill, steal, or destroy. It could be the unseen things like peace or faith, or it could be very visible–relationships, possessions, jobs … even gardens.

Dawn breaks. I won’t get to all the garden spaces today, but I ready myself to tackle both the unseen and the visible. I think long on scriptures I know that tell of who God is, and remind me of who I am because of Him, in Him.

13 Take note of the fortified walls,
    and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
    to future generations.
14 For that is what God is like.
    He is our God forever and ever,
    and he will guide us until we die. (Psalm 48:13-14, NLT)

Lord, an enemy is bent on stealing and destroying–and already so much is wounded or broken by lies, grief, evil. When I look at the destruction, I linger in the loss and am weak. Lord, I look to you, to what you can do, to the valley you will fill with water.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 19-20; 2 Kings 1; Psalm 20; Matthew 3

We started a new tradition in our home recently.  We have come to realize that our kids and their spouses may not know, remember or might not even think about some of our experiences that our fifty years of living has given us insight on.  We thought we would let them all ask one question about us that they would like to know.  Thankfully most of them were pretty light, but my son went ahead and asked the deep question – was there ever a time when there was no light, no way out of an experience and what did you do? Great question and I was reminded of that as I read Jehoshaphat’s story – what did he do when there was no hope?

Early the next morning, as everyone got ready to leave for the desert near Tekoa, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen my friends, if we trust the Lord God and believe what these prophets have told us, the Lord will help us, and we will be successful.” Then he explained his plan and appointed men to march in front of the army and praise the Lord for his holy power by singing:[g]

“Praise the Lord!

    His love never ends.”

As soon as they began singing, the Lord confused the enemy camp, so that the Ammonite and Moabite troops attacked and completely destroyed those from Edom. Then they turned against each other and fought until the entire camp was wiped out! – 2 Chronicles 20:20-23   CEV

My wife and I shared with our family that there is no other way but prayer.  No matter what, where, why, when or how, God’s love for you will keep you safe. We shared a few stories and all of them involved having a conversation with God.

I pray that the Lord
will listen
when you
are in trouble,
and that the God of Jacob
will keep you safe. – Psalm 20:1   CEV

There is something amazing when I have invited God into my space.  He takes all that I give Him.  He has never asked me to do anything, especially singing in public.  However, He has asked me to wait, He has asked me to stay still and He always asks to leave things in His hands. When we stand with Jesus, He stands with us and when we enter His presence on the last day, He will greet us and say, “Well done!”

Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him.” – Matthew 3:17   CEV

Thank you Lord that I could answer my son’s question.  I pray that any member of my family will reach out to You regardless of where they are in relationship with You or the difficulty they are facing. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18; Matthew 2

“Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab. After some years he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria; and Ahab killed sheep and oxen in abundance for him and the people who were with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth Gilaed. So Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?” And he answered, “I am as you are, and my people as your people, we will be with you in the war.” Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” 2 Chronicles 18:1-4 NIV

Jehoshaphat listened to the wrong voices, even though he knew which one was right and true.  He let his popularity and power guide his decisions. He aligned himself with a wicked king. Who am I walking with?  Will it strengthen my faith or weaken it? Will I let friends influence me or will I influence them?  A coffee date with a friend today is foremost in my thoughts.  I am grateful for her strong faith.  She keeps me grounded when I am tempted to get off track.  She tells me not to hold back, but to speak the truth in love.

“But Jehoshaphat said , “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?” So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah the son of Imla.” 2 Chronicles 18:6-7 NIV

Jehoshaphat still doesn’t listen to the Lord.  Until he is put in a situation where he needs him.  Oh, how this can be true for me as well.

“So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, “It is the king of Israel!” Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him. For so it was, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.” 2 Chronicles 18:31&32 NIV

God listened and answered his prayer.  He didn’t condemn him for making the wrong choice.  He showed him mercy when he needed him the most.  He wants me to come to him with a willing heart.  And to know that it’s never to late cry out to him.

“So they said to him, “In Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” Matthew 2:5&6 NIV

Dear Jesus, thank you that when I pray,  you hear me.  Give me the courage to do your will, even when it’s not the popular thing to do.  Help me to be faithful to you when it’s hard.  Thank you for your promise to always be with me. Amen.

And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.” 2 Chronicles 18:13 NIV

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Chronicles 15-16; 1 Kings 16; Philemon

I didn’t see it coming. As Asa’s story unfolded, I felt bolstered by the prophet’s words: “Whenever you seek him, you will find him,” and “be strong and courageous” (2 Chronicles 15). Asa heard and took courage. He removed idols, repaired an altar, and called together the people. There were covenants made and sacrifices offered. Asa’s heart remained faithful throughout his life (2 Chronicles 15:17b, NLT. Note this.).

So I didn’t see it coming, when in 2 Chronicles 16, he would overlook consulting the Lord, a decision that carried crucial consequences. His first thirty-five years of reign were marked by an intentional abiding, but the last years of leadership are an unraveling of sorts–misplaced trust, anger and oppression.

What happened?

***

While disappointing to read, was it a surprise that Israel’s leaders were evil and angered the Lord time after time?

25 But Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 26 He followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols. (1 Kings 16:25-26, NLT)

I think long on examples. I consider influences in my lifetime (some influenced me not to follow them!). But how often do I take into consideration my own words and actions and the influence they have on those around me?

***

I’ve spent the past few days working on a baby’s knit hat, and I’ve started it over so many times I’ve lost count. I noticed that sometimes the row was a stitch or two longer than it should have been, or that I dropped a stitch accidentally and there was a big hole in it. These mistakes weren’t made on purpose. They were so very unintentional.

***

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. (Philemon 4-7, NLT)

Paul writes to Philemon, reminding him of his generosity and love–and to take it a step further (to extend grace, forgiveness, or welcome to someone who has wronged him).

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! (Philemon 17-21, NLT)

Paul’s letter to Philemon reads like encouragement and caution.

***

I’m not responsible for the decisions other people make–and lately I’ve been surprised at how someone’s choice can influence my response. I do pause and wonder: should it? Like Philemon, if someone has wronged me, should I be less loving or generous in my own behaviors, or like Paul suggests–to do as much or more than expected? Do I stay true to how God has wired me? If I’m not intentional, abiding in Christ, I could look back at the fabric of the story of my life and see holes and wonder, “What happened?”

Lord, I’m so imperfect, but I know that you are at work in my heart. Help me to be true to who you’ve created me to be, independent of how another behaves. Some days effort seems grossly out of proportion to return. I am humbled and saddened as I wonder over the question of what’s in it for me? I pray that I continue strong, even in seasons of drought, because it pleases you.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 13-14; 2 Chronicles 12; Psalm 47; Titus 2

11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

15 You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say. (Titus 2:11-15) NLT

I clearly remember the time in my life before I became a Christ-follower. In fact, even as “mature” (in age) as I am, there are still more years behind me when I wasn’t. I thought I was a “good person”—at least by my own standards–but I lived a worldly life. After I became a believer, I had no idea how to change my life. I know it needed to change because my life up to that point was full of turmoil, strife, and pain. I needed a Paul and a Titus in my life!

I went to church for most of my life. Yet somehow I had never been taught about having a personal relationship with Jesus. That was a pretty confusing concept to me. But the Lord guided me to a different church. It was there I found the “Paul” I needed. The Pastor of that church taught straight from the bible and explained what the verses meant. He introduced me to Jesus. “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.”  Much as Paul did in his teachings, that Pastor helped me understood that in order for my life to change I needed “to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures”.   God had a better plan for my life than I did. Through his instruction, and studying the bible on my own, I had a better understanding of the “why” I needed to change and let the Holy Spirit show me the “how.” I never would have changed by myself.

I had done most of this learning on my own up to this point. Then God brought a “Titus” into my life—a woman who became a friend and a mentor to me. I had never seen a godly life modeled. As I got to know her and how she lived her life, I knew I never wanted to go back to the life I used to have. Through our meetings, she embodied, “You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them.” Sometime she did this with words but mostly she taught by example. While others in my life didn’t understand why I no longer chose to do as they did, she encouraged me to make better choices. Little by little, God pruned those non-believers from my life. He knew my heart was devoted to Him.

1 Come, everyone! Clap your hands!
    Shout to God with joyful praise!
2 For the Lord Most High is awesome.
    He is the great King of all the earth. (Psalm 47:1-2) NLT

Lord, I will never be able to thank you enough for showing me a better way to live and for changing the direction of my life.  So often, tears pour unashamedly from my eyes as I lift my hands, clap my hands, and sing joyful praise to you as I think of how you’ve loved me into wholeness.  You’ve shown me the true meaning of love.  You ARE awesome as it says in the Psalm.  I thank you for Jesus and all he has taught me.  In his name I pray, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Ecclesiastes 10,11,12; 2 Timothy 4

19 Bread is made for laughter,
and wine gladdens life,
and money answers everything.  Ecc 10 ESV

Recently, I met a friend I have treasured for over twenty years for coffee. And we sat together- and crammed as much life possible -into two and a half hours of sharing. The theme of many of our talks over a long stretch of years has related to money, career, children, provision… “and money answers everything.” My sweet friend has struggled to find her place as a godly, intentional wife and mother alongside the need for financial provision and her passion to utilize God given giftings and abilities. This Word rises for me. Would she be more at peace if the need to work was less about money and more about purpose and calling? Only the Lord knows. Financial need is a justifier of many things. I know this full well. Financial “success” would certainly remove that part of the equation. Money can smooth the way of life, ease the crease of care, lift the burden of the heart. Grant (a sometimes false and sometimes true) sense of peace and security. I thought of my friend and our talks. Struggles shared. Desires longed for. Peace needed. Real fear and uncertainty. I thought of long talks down a corridor of years. “Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.” And Bread is also made for nutrients, and wine can be medicinal, and money doesn’t answer everything. It can’t save the soul. I pray for my friend, and I pray for me: that God would grant wisdom, direction, and provision. Grateful that He knows the core of the soul. He sees through all.

20 Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,
nor in your bedroom curse the rich,
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter Ecc 10 ESV

I have been living a dream come true. A dream that is comprised of coffee, Todd, and his voice reading a short devotion in the morning. It has only been a few days, and I only pray the sweetness continues- But, in one of these devotions there was a focus on sinful strongholds. Patterns of the flesh; attitudes of the mind that are quick to rise up in moments of weakness and times of pressure. And then an assurance that the Holy Spirit is available to offer true and full victory in overcoming such strongholds in the life of a believer. I had opportunity to realize that I had entertained false skeptical thoughts recently. And I recognized that this is one of my strongholds and tendencies: Suspicion and skepticism. Thoughts that are not the clear, pure flowing stream they should be. I need to be in the Spirit and in truth even to the uttermost of all of my thoughts. And the victory is in Jesus. Nothing is hidden. Lord, let everything hidden be pure and true.

Lord, help me walk with You and rest in You. Let Your Word be life and truth in me. Be with my friend and show Yourself strong on her behalf. You are the lifter of her head. You are the lifter of mine.

Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. Ecc 12 ESV.

Let all that is not vanity remain, O God. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

 

 

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