Category Archives: 66 Books

2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33; Psalm 71; 2 Corinthians 3

I must admit I like the history of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33 a whole lot better than the story of him in 2 Kings 21 for it contains, as they say, “the rest of the story,” recounting the redeeming work of God in his life.

Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” In the two courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. (2 Kings 21:1-6) NIV

Manasseh was living about as far from the one, true, living God as you can get and he took the whole nation of Judah with him. In fact, the wording of 2 Chronicles 33:9 says they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites took over the land. He aroused God’s anger!

11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. (2 Chron 33:11-13) NIV

To me, that is Good News! God heard Manasseh, knew his heart, and was moved to return him back to power. He had learned that the LORD is God!

15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. 17 The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.

18 The other events of Manasseh’s reign, including his prayer to his God and the words the seers spoke to him in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, are written in the annals of the kings of Israel.[a] 19 His prayer and how God was moved by his entreaty, as well as all his sins and unfaithfulness, and the sites where he built high places and set up Asherah poles and idols before he humbled himself—all these are written in the records of the seers. (2 Chron.33:15-19) NIV

God allowed Manasseh a second chance to get it right. I read these verses and take great comfort in the fact that God gives us multiple chances to redo the choices we’ve made. It doesn’t matter how far off track we’ve gotten, Jesus is there to forgive us! I have my own version of “foreign gods” and I worshiped them instead of God. They have a way of taking us down the road where we can be defeated by our enemy, taken prisoner, and bound in shackles. Thankfully, we don’t have to stay there! I, too, cried out to the Lord in humble submission to Him with a repentant heart. He heard my cry, forgave me, and returned me to my “kingdom”. Were there consequences? You bet. Sin has a way of leaving residue sometimes. The power of God has enabled me to move beyond those bad choices to a place of praise (thank offerings)!

22 I will praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
    Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praise to you—
    I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
    all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
    have been put to shame and confusion. (Psalm 77:22-24) NIV

Lord, I thank you for the way you forgive me and redeem me. You are so good to me! Thank you for examples in the bible that show me no one is beyond redemption. Having experienced this freedom, I can do nothing but praise you. My heart is filled with gratitude and I will tell of your goodness all my days. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Isaiah 56-59; Psalm 70; 1 Corinthians 16

I’d never been in the presence of such a warrior. We were talking about life and hard issues, and I shared something that had hurt me deeply that I was still trying to resolve in my mind and heart. She offered to pray for me, and when she did, I felt small and humbled by the things she took to the throne on my behalf–boldly, powerfully. In fact, I almost felt afraid at her great, impassioned petition for vengeance.

Please, God, rescue me!
    Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
May those who try to kill me
    be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
    be turned back in disgrace.
Let them be horrified by their shame,
    for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”
But may all who search for you
    be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
    repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
    O Lord, do not delay. (Psalm 70, NLT)

 

God is so mighty. And her mighty prayer showed me who I’m dealing with. This was many years ago, and I don’t remember the exact words she said (mostly because I was drop-jawed stunned as she said them), but I will never forget that evening. Weeks later I got word of some things that immediately brought this warrior to mind as her prayer was answered. I was awestruck. I couldn’t get my head around it. But that incident became grounds for great trust in God, his might and sovereignty. (As well as the very real power of prayer!) I learned over the years to trust him with the outcome of things that were so much bigger than I was. And I still do.

I read an article recently that left a long impression on me about forgiveness, “Forgiveness means we don’t ignore. We don’t excuse. But we do release the right of vengeance to God without pretending vengeance isn’t right” (True Woman, Haley Mullins, 9/4/18). God is just. He is judge. I take the wounds and hurts and offer them to him, to free my heart–because it is the wellspring of my life.

The Lord looked and was displeased
    to find there was no justice.
16 He was amazed to see that no one intervened
    to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
    and his justice sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his body armor
    and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.
He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18 He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.
    His fury will fall on his foes.
    He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19 In the west, people will respect the name of the Lord;
    in the east, they will glorify him.
For he will come like a raging flood tide
    driven by the breath of the Lord.

20 “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
    to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,”
    says the Lord.

21 “And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Isaiah 59:15-21, NLT)

When I’m taking a walk, I notice the size of the trees, trees that seem so big when I stand beside them, but look so small compared to the backdrop of the heavens–and I am so much smaller, a young child is smaller still.

Oh, Lord, how is it you notice me? I am so grateful. That of everything under your watch, you see me and you care for my heart. You value truth and what is right, and it is worth fighting for. You give me hope. What a precious gift.

Courtney (66books365)

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Nahum 1-3; Psalm 149; 2 Corinthians 4

I have just finished a wonderful week of vacation and have really enjoyed knowing that God has been caring for me and protecting me no matter where our family went and no matter what our family did.  It was so gracious to hear each of us take time to thank God for asking Him to protect us.  He honoured our trust in Him and was so faithful to be present in all of our activities.

The Lord is good.
He protects those who trust him
in times of trouble. – Nahum 1:7  CEV

This is why Sunday morning worship is something our family enjoys the most when we go to church.  It is a time where we join with others to thank God and to worship Him for all His blessings.

Shout praises to the Lord!
Sing him a new song of praise
when his loyal people meet. – Psalm 149:1  CEV

What makes this the hardest to understand is that so many times I think about all these blessings coming my way because in some way or form I have earned them.  It is the hardest thing to get out of my system.  My head knows the truth, there is no way in this world that I could deserve even a little of what God has been so gracious to give.  My head knows that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and each morning when I spend time with Him, I invite Him to walk with me during the day.  I know He fills me with His Holy Spirit so that the work I will do for Him does not come from my own strength but from Him alone.

We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7  CEV

Lord, forgive me when I have even a passing thought that I have earned anything. I know it is You and You alone that has protected me, cared for me, loved me and have blessed me.  You have graciously given me so much including the power of Your Holy Spirit to live the life You have asked me to live.  I have so much to be thankful for and I thank You right now, today, for this gracious gift you have so freely given. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

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Isaiah 49-52; Psalms 69; 1 Corinthians 14

“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me.” Psalms 69:1&2 NLT

“But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation.” Psalms 69:13&14 NLT

“Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful. Don’t hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble!” Psalms 69:16&17 NLT

Sometimes when I can’t see progress, I get stuck.  I get tired of waiting through the messy.  I can get so hung up on the moment, that I forget that my life is most lived in the process.  I look to earthly reassurance, instead of crying out to him, like David. “What if God wants to do it in a different way? In a process not in a moment.” Steven Furtick.  He will answer my prayers in his timing.  He loves me through the waiting.  That’s when he does the most work in my heart.

This is what the Lord says: “At just the right time, I will respond to you.  On the day of salvation I will help you.  I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them.  Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.” Isaiah 49:8 NLT

He has given me hope.

He has given me favor.

He has restored my life.

His love is unfailing.

“Pay attention, you who are far away! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.  He made my words of judgement as sharp as a sword.  He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand.  I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.  He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”  I replied, “But my work seems useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.  Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”  Isaiah 49:1-4 NLT

I am reminded that God has given me a greater purpose than I can think or dream up.  I spend too much time asking him what I should do, instead of just doing it and leaving the results to him.  When confusion bombards my mind, I know its not from him.  He is the giver of a peace that surpasses my understanding.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 NLT

Thank you Father for always meeting me where I am at.  For using your words and the words of others to draw me closer to you.  Help me to live with an eternal perspective.   Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Isaiah 45-48; 1 Corinthians 13

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily.  “If it is a good morning,” he said.  “Which I doubt,” said he.  AA Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Eeyore moments are no laughing matter. When our vision is confined to what we see, despair, anger and depression follow. Isaiah and his people have every earthly reason to throw up their hands and give in to the darkness around them. Morally bankrupt leaders and nations are on the attack; the world as they know it is collapsing around them. It is only natural that the people of Israel take an Eeyore posture, but God speaks and commands his people to listen.

“I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right.”                     Isaiah 45:19

“…And there is not God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other…Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.’  All  who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.”   Isaiah 45:22

God appeals to Israel’s imagination; He gives them a vision of what is to come:

“Before me every knee will bow; by every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength. All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the Lord and all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.”                                                                                                                                                                                      Isaiah 45:23-25

I hear God asking me about my hopes and dreams. To whom and in what am I entrusting my future? Politicians, pastors, 401K’s? My own ability to figure things out? My force of will and determination? When I hit snags in personal relationships, do I trust in my sense of personal righteousness and insist on my way, or do I submit to God’s definition of love (1 Corinthians 13)?  Do I allow Him to win the day  even when if things appear to be a total loss?

O dear Father,  thank you for calling me by name and telling me to listen. Your Word sits before me;  you speak. I am listening. Have your way in my life. Strengthen my humble faith so that I trust you in all things—the major and the minor, no matter how things appear. Teach me to sing of your beauty and goodness in all things and in all times.

Klueh

From the archives. Originally published September 9, 2016.

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Isaiah 41-44; 1 Corinthians 12

We took our oldest son to college a week ago. It was a glorious, heart-wrenching day. A full day, with comforts for body and soul at every turn… student volunteers whisking luggage and belongings up to dorm rooms faster than I could say “thank you” and tantalizing food for the body from morn to night. Cheering students and welcome committees. Balloons and festive t-shirts. Finally, a candlelight ceremony designed to help all find peace in the past, be present in the moment, and hope in and for the future. Designed to cup all in hush and beauty. Space for joy and grief. Holy ground.

This candlelight service was declared as the first in book-end services: one at freshman orientation and the next- four years from now- at graduation/convocation. I found myself informed. New traditions. New ceremonies. New significance.

But I am left, unsettled. Navigating a new world.

Isaiah 42

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged[d]
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law. ESV

Jesus. Bringer of Justice. Tender Chosen One who endures. I sense His inexorable commitment. Unwavering, yet gentle, leader.

Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you[e] in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
    to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.” ESV

All the passages in Isaiah- familiar ones to me. College memories (my own) so near at hand as our own dear one steps into his new place, space, and season.

Yet, still, everything feels new and untethered to me in this season.

As my son stretches out to navigate new waters, form new relationships, and hopefully make deep, God-ordained connections- the Scriptures quicken memories. “I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations.” I remember a song of worship that we used to sing at Lehigh during Large Group (Inter -varsity)… and a google search brings me right to it. Sadly, with no music- but the lyrics! And I realize that it was actually written by the Inter-varsity leaders on our campus… and the date is 1997. I can feel the passionate pulse of my twenty- year old heart for Jesus. I remember the Spirit and the praise.

O, the memories. O, the time of life for this son of my heart.

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare;”  ESV

“New things” was a theme in that candlelight worship service I mentioned above. And “new things” is a theme in my life- right now, in so many ways. I struggle to find my footing.

Isaiah 43

Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21     the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise. ESV

But God will make a way.

Everything is to “declare God’s praise.”  The Lord speaks to my heart: I am to perceive the new thing springing forth in the wilderness. I am to remember that the Lord gives water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert; sweet, refreshing drink to his chosen- and all of this section (41-44) of Isaiah so boldly, directly declares the passionate, personal focus/care of the Lord toward His people- whom He so clearly prizes and treasures

… Isaiah 43:21 reminds me I am formed for Him. And all, so that with everything in me, I can declare His praise.

1 Corinthians 12

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. ESV

1 Corinthians 12 presents the church as the body; a unified whole unable to function without each, significant part. And I need the reminder: again, again- to be who I am. To be fully who I, alone, am. I struggle to value my part. This chapter reminds me that God values my part; indeed, each part is essential. I pray I gain the courage to live fully into my purpose in the body.

Lord, only You can sort out all the untethered thoughts and emotions. You are the Rock; and You are Peace. I pray You guide me in this wilderness place I find myself. I pray for my son with a cry unutterable that only the Spirit can interpret and convey. Help me to find myself at peace in You; and joyful in Your calling. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

I remember watching an actress being interviewed, and she told a story of how her dad said that when life felt like it was too much, to go stand on the beach and look up and around, and she would see how small she and all the issues of her life really are. I imagined this woman, who had had success and fortune and a measure of pull, feeling overwhelmed, and that she needed to know somewhere in her soul that she was small. That she was held.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

 

The issues in life sometimes feel consuming, pressing in from all sides, stealing peace, stealing rest, and I am reminded that the enemy prowls crouched to pounce–a thief to steal, kill and destroy. But my God is sovereign. When I feel defeated, he reminds me of his victory. When I feel weak and powerless, he will be my power and strength. When I trust in him, I will find new strength to soar, to run, to walk and not faint.

Lord, I feel your loving hand upon my face, turning my gaze to focus again and again on you. When I look too long at my problems, they get bigger. But when I remember who you are, things fall back into perspective. You created everything I see. You hold all time. You know my troubles. You know my heart. It is so good to know you and to be known by you. Grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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