Category Archives: 66 Books

Numbers 1, Psalm 35, Ecclesiastes 11, Titus 3

“I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life – the only thing I know to exist – to be wasted.” (Celebrity quote)

Although there have always been naysayers and critics of God’s true word, I feel like we are living in a culture that is more self dependent and selfish than other times in history. The days of common moral values are gone and people are out to get everything they can. It’s truly a dog eat dog world and why not? Aren’t we all entitled to the American Dream?

Slogans are so common you could finish these off without me typing the words. Slogans such as “Live everyday like it was your last” or “Create your own happiness”. We are conditioned to believe that we are responsible for our happiness and our own good fortune and outcomes.  We are quick to take credit for our own accomplishments and good works but can just as quickly turn around and blame God when “bad things” happen.

Even in Solomon’s day he knew there was a balance between good works, enjoying life and being accountable for one’s own actions. We are called to live each day to the fullest but who are we living it for is the real question that differentiates good works for the kingdom of God rather than for selfish and prideful gain. Solomon’s wise words also come with a warning:

So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.[b]

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

10 Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain[c] from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. Ecclesiastes 11:8-10

Yes it is important that we live each day to the fullest but it is only by the grace showed to us by Christ and the washing of our sin with his blood that any “good” work is seen by God as righteous.

 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7

The irony in the celebrity’s quote above is that the very thing he is trying to avoid (wasting life) is exactly what he is doing by living for himself and his own glory. Without Christ, everything is meaningless. May our enjoyment and blessing of each new day be evident in the our good works, done not for self pleasure or advancement in to heaven but in gratitude to our Savior who gave his all for our sin!

Dear Jesus, than you for your blood that washes over my sin. Thank you for dying in my place so that when the Father looks at me he see’s your righteousness. Holy Spirit, help me to live each day joyfully devoted to good works that bring you glory. Amen!

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Leviticus 26; Psalm 33; Ecclesiastes 9; Titus 1

Having just celebrated Easter, it’s easier to be focused on praising God.  I walked through the events that led up to Good Friday with my children, helping them understand once again how incredibly “good” that Friday was.  Jesus paid our debt!

Reading through Psalm 33, a hymn of praise, helps me continue this focus on praising Him for what He did for us, what He did for ME.

Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is

    Becoming to the upright.  Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;

    Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.  Sing to Him a

    New song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” (v. 1-3 NASB)

He created everything and the earth proclaims it.

“By the word of the Lord the Heavens were made, and by the

    Breath of His mouth all their host.  He gathers the waters of the

    Sea together as a heap; He lays the deeps in the storehouses.

    Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all inhabitants of the world

    Stand in awe of Him.  For He spoke and it was done; He

    Commanded it and it stood fast.” (v. 6-9)

He is our hope when the world seems hopeless.

“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

    For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy

    Name.  Let your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,

    According as we have hoped in You.” (v. 20-22)

Lord,

We praise You because You paid our debt that we owed for being sinners.  Truly we can say that Friday was a “good” day for us.  Easter is our wonderful surprise when you rose from the grave to prove You reign over death and that we who believe have the hope of life for all eternity.  Let us always praise You for what You did for us no matter what date is on the calendar.

Kellie

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Leviticus 24; Psalm 31; Ecclesiastes 7; 2 Timothy 3

It was a day of errands and driving, and a true blessing to spend time with a woman who has long been a mentor to me. We talked about the real meaty things of life, right to the point. She is honest and wise. I’ve known her over half my life and it’s not long enough–I find as we’re both getting older and my own seasons are changing, there is still so much to learn.

10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13, NLT (emphasis mine)

I think about examples–especially in regards to parenting and mentoring. One friend nearly despised his father for the type of husband/father he was–and yet, later in life, became just as harsh and hurtful as his dad. I feel certain he never wanted to become that way, but how did it happen?

My mentor and I talked about relationships and truth and integrity. We talked about perseverance. We touched on legacy, and I considered hers as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is a model of a life lived in love. I thank God for her influence.

When someone sifts through the pieces of life I’ll one day leave behind, what will my story tell? Because my life will tell a story. Will it show Jesus? Will it be defined by love?

I cling tightly to God’s enduring Word.

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17, NLT

Lord, I thank you for dear friends like family who have helped me and encouraged me, for women who’ve taught me how to love and serve by example. Thank you for your Word that is true and convicts and corrects. Thank you that you love me so much to equip me to do good work. Help me to remain faithful to the things you have taught me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 23; Psalm 30; Ecclesiastes 6; 2 Timothy 2

Holidays interrupt the ordinary activities of my life and give me an opportunity to revitalize my commitment to God or holidays can draw my spirit into contemplating my recurrent need to depend on God. Such interruptions can lead to restoration and hope of blessings. Leviticus 23 lists the times of many God-ordained holidays, reminders of God’s deliverance, provision, forgiveness, and mercy. His presence is the gift in the midst of community, and the same is true during Christian holidays. I didn’t know how much I missed community until this past Easter. I have felt like a nomad these last 10 years, moving from state to state, changing jobs, changing churches, leaving the bones of loved ones in strange lands.

Ecclesiastes 6:2, written by my soulmate, Solomon, says, “A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it…this is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.” Solomon contrasts this scenario with his earlier statement that every man to whom God prospers and gives the divine gift of enjoyment receives blessings, indeed. Holidays have a way of slowing down my soul’s race to acquire the object and turning my eyes toward the Giver of my soul’s redeemed desires.

Interruptions in my work week can illuminate the threads of discontent or the tears in the fabricated beliefs I’ve entertained. The simplicity of following Christ needs no interpretation – if I am faithless, Christ remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). I am therefore unafraid of the future, and I am free to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.”

So Lord Jesus Christ, resurrected Savior and lover of my soul, I am pleased to be interrupted with holy days that urge me to focus on You. Like King David, I can praise (Psalm 30:11, 12).

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my        sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise            to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

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Lev. 22; Ps. 28,29; Eccles. 5; 2 Tim. 1

“Dear younger me… please hear me… you don’t have to carry these burdens alone!”

I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return. 2 Timothy 1:12

How many of you out there reading this have had a perfect life? You know… the kind of life where there aren’t any problems and nothing ever went wrong. Surely, there has got to be someone who’s got that kind of life?!? So, if there isn’t anyone out there with the “perfect life”, why are we always comparing ourselves with others like there is? Could it we’re hoping we’re not alone? Are we grieving what could have been?

When we began life on earth, we became a part of a family legacy. We didn’t get to choose the family legacy we were associated with… that was decided for us. Unfortunately, many of us characterize our own family legacy with more pain than joy, even dreading holidays as they remind us of what we’ve endured and still grieve. If we could just go back in time and tell our younger self what to do and what not to do, what would we say? Imagine it… what would you tell your younger self? What foods to eat and avoid? How to get ahead in life? What about your faith… what would we tell our younger selves about our faith? Would this part of our discussion take the most or the least time?

Would we try to convince God to spare our family from the hurts that break the human heart? Unfortunately, God does not work in the past… He does, however, offer a future to those who seek Him! And if I could speak to the younger me, I would tell me that there is a future that can be so much better than the past. That our Lord and Savior invites each of us to a spiritual family legacy based on a foundation of healing, hope, and love, far surpassing any loss we’ve ever experienced or are grieving… That if we know Jesus, as Savior, we became part of a spiritual legacy that extends back to heal the past, while offering hope for the future… That God’s holy family covers all hurts including brokenness and pain, misery and fear… forever!

No matter the broken earthly family we have, as believers, we all have a loving family available to us always… from our Lord and Savior, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to our heavenly Father, who knows our pain and disappointments, and offers His children unlimited grace!

Dear younger me… get to know your Lord and Savior… with all your heart and soul… the One you can trust, completely, as He is able to guard what you have entrusted to Him, until He returns again.

Lord, You know our hearts desire for a happy and loving family legacy based on love… Please help us to use the model of family legacy You graciously offer us until You come again! Amen…

Greg (gstefanelli)

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Leviticus 21; Psalm 26; Psalm 27; Ecclesiastes 4; 1 Timothy 6

The pierce of trial quickens my sensitivity to God and His truth.  I find my heart lanced and hurting and I struggle to fight bitterness. It leaves its own, marked taste in my mouth. Yet, what can compare to the sweetness of Christ- drawing my heart and quickening life unto me in desperate times? How grateful I am for the staying, strengthening Hand of God!

Psalm 26:

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the Lord. (ESV)

In a present difficulty, I have determined to do what I know is right, regardless what others do or say. (From 24 Family Ways- Way #21) And in God’s sovereign grace, our family just happened to be spending the week in this Way when it was so very appropriate for me.

I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.”

Not only have I had opportunity to exhort children unto this Way, I also have opportunity to walk in this instruction. God brings me to the end of myself so that I can know it is His LIFE working in me granting me power to walk in His Way and in the Light. And in this, so I can share in the sufferings and strengthening of the children I exhort and correct. It is not mere words. It is our very life.

Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

You are our Light, O God. Fear and trepidation and the paralyzing, polarizing spectre of conflict looms among us. And anger, Lord. Anger. But, You. You are the stronghold of our life.

Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet[b] I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire[c] in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock. (ESV)

Hidden in You, is where I purpose to stay. These are the days when I find myself beyond my understanding and reckoning. It is here that I hide myself in You because nothing is hidden from Your sight and Your mercy knows no end.

And now my head shall be lifted up

above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek[d] my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”[e]
    Hide not your face from me. (ESV)

Let it always be:

My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek!”

Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence. (ESV)

 

False witnesses rising against me. Is my expectation of people too large? I think it is, O God. Help me instead to walk in mercy and in Light when wronged. Help me extend grace and deal in Wisdom. There is not time to waste pondering and considering the wrongs; yet, only You can untangle the knots in my heart.

13 I believe that I shall look[f] upon the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (ESV)

Conflict paralyzes me. False witnesses rising against me. Against some I love.  Hide me in your shelter in the day of trouble. I will be hidden and small in the face of accusations and arrows. Keeping always my eye upon you. My heart toward You. Orienting my self, my life toward that one thing…. You, O Lord.

You promise to teach me Your way- You will lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

I Timothy 6

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[d] Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (ESV)

O Lord, there is so much in life that is confusing and difficult to navigate. Our human brokenness, weakness, and error follows us in and out of every day. You are the true Source of all Wisdom and Direction and Your mercy knows no bounds… even to those who are enemies. Change my heart O Lord, that I might look with mercy and love on those who have wrongfully accused me. Let me take your directive as my strong mission. When others judge or harshly correct, I know that I (we) are hidden in You and enfolded in Your mercy. You are the only One who has the full and complete understanding about everything. Keep me humble and help me trust that my vindication is found in You and I am complete and free in Christ !

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Leviticus 19; Psalm 23,24; Ecclesiastes 2; 1 Timothy 4

You anoint my head with oil ~ Psalm 23:5

What do you do when you’re thousands of miles away and you receive word that a loved one is close to the end and if you want to see her—this side of heaven—now is the time to act?  That’s what we were faced with and what we’re going through now.

Wednesday morning, before our long drive, before work, before the day began, I sat on the couch with my journal and I prayed, “Father, I’ve got nothing.  Please reveal Your Word to me. I need You.”  When I read Psalm 23, I saw an explanation of the oil in verse 5.  It said that in climates of extreme heat, oil mixed with fragrance is actually refreshing and invigorating.  As we run the race and stay the course for Christ, our anointed bodies are refreshed, invigorated, and better fit for action.  Holy Spirit is our oil and we are anointed to receive refreshment and be able to stay the course.

As we were resting—half way to Wisconsin—at my uncle and aunt’s house, I realized that God had blessed us—in provision and safe travel—and knew that He had anointed us with His Holy Presence, that we’d be able to stay the course—the driving, the visiting, the emotions.  Psalm 24:8 says, “Who is the King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”  My Father, the King of Glory, has gone before us and walks ever with us, protecting us (we didn’t encounter any issues with weather), and clearing the road before us.

I read in Ecclesiastes 2 that without His presence, all is lost and it’s all for naught.  I’ll close with that, and with thanks to my Father for His ever presence, even in the hard times of life.

For without [God], who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and [joy], but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. ~ Ecclesiastes 2:25-26

Heatherpotts5

 

From the archives. Originally published April 15, 2013.

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