Category Archives: Bible in a year reading plan

2 Samuel 1-2; 1 Chronicles 11; Psalm 96, 106; Acts 21

I was amazed at the song that David wrote for Saul and Jonathan. I am sure the words he chose came easily as he thought more about Jonathan rather than Saul. He called it the “Song of the Bow.”

There is love of country and love of a friend – more than a friend – for David never found another man he could love like Jonathan.

I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother.
You were such a friend to me.
Your love for me was more wonderful
than the love of women. – 2 Samuel 1:26 HCSB

I have never experienced such love for a friend, however, I have heard of it and understand it. I am not sure Jesus had such a friend, but I am challenged to be a Jonathan to those who are called and anointed for leadership.

David was a man, a leader, who drew other leaders to him. When he wished for water from the well in Bethlehem, those that loved him braved all danger, risked their lives, and made sure they offered him a cup of that water. I am challenged again to look at my love for Jesus, my personal love. Love is a mighty bond – Jesus’ love for me – He braved all dangers, and His love caused Him to lay down His life for me. He loves me and that love ensures that I have a covenant with Him that nothing can get in-between.

This love unites and I see it in the New Testament.

Father, I have easily written love songs to You – they flow from my heart because of Your love for me. You have been my best friend since the day I met You and You have never left me alone. You have brought me through valleys as dark as death and have surrounded me with Your protection when I faced death. I am amazed how easily I could have been destroyed, if Your hand was not there to hold me. There is not an argument in the world that can convince me otherwise, even the threat of death. I grieve for those who do not know You as I have come to know You. They have not gone through the experiences that I have. Help me be a Jonathan or a Paul or a Barnabas or a Timothy to them and allow me to love them as You have loved me. Amen

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1 Samuel 17; 1 Chronicles 2; Acts 12

Israel faces off against the Philistines in war. The stakes: freedom.

 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! 10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” 11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken. (1 Samuel 17:8-11, NLT)

On the scene, David notices the offense and speaks out.

David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26, NLT)

He’s speaking to other soldiers, and they answer him–marriage into the king’s family, exemption from taxes … but this comment steals in and takes aim at the heart.

28 But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” (1 Samuel 17:28, NLT, emphasis added.)

I’m staring into the face of everyone who has ever shut me down, criticized me, mocked my life, skills, ambitions. A brother belittles, condemns, accuses. When I think of all the things David was up against in his lifetime, the first cut comes from his family. And it wasn’t an isolated case.

29 “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” (1 Samuel 17:29, NLT)

Everyone remembers David’s fight against Goliath, but David had been fighting his whole life.

32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!” (1 Samuel 17:32-37, NLT)

A brother undercuts. Saul reluctantly relents. Soon, even Goliath will laugh like David is a joke. But I sit with this: God knew David. God saw David’s heart. David knew himself–reminded himself of what he was able to do. And David knew God and what God was able to do.

David didn’t wear the king’s armor into his battle because it wasn’t made for him and didn’t fit. He went in with the skills he had and the weapons he knew, weapons that would have failed any soldier in the army who had been trained to fight with swords. He stepped up with unshakeable confidence in God. No. He didn’t just step up. He ran to meet the challenge.

45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head. (1 Samuel 17:45-51, NLT, emphasis added.)

Father God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for reminding me who I am in you. Thank you for the reminder to do what I can with what I have, and that yours is the only opinion that matters. The glory is yours.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 15-16; 1 Chronicles 1; Psalm 39; Acts 11

I was in a meeting this week where the devotional leader discussed how easy it is for us to think we are standing firm and tall and yet, God’s Word declares that in that very moment, we could fall. God gives so much, I do not have to stand on my own – ever.

Samuel continued, “Although you once considered yourself unimportant, have you not become the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15:17 HCSB

Saul made such a mistake – he forgot he was made in the image of God and that he was supposed to reflect His rule. Instead he misused his authority. It is returning to God when I mess up that allows the Father to define me by His love and let Him fill me with His Spirit. It was from this position that I can give myself to Jesus and accept His call as He sends me out into the world.

Adam, Seth, Enosh – 1 Chronicles 1:1 HCSB

As I read all the names of those listed in this chapter, I can recall some of their stories. Many had ideas about God but most of them I remembered had a relationship with God – that God heard, knew and remembered – that God was gracious and come alongside them and gave them what they needed. I think they loved to think of Him as God the Giver.

Now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You. – Psalm 39:7 HCSB

This is what I notice in my life – my happiness is in exact proportion to my despair of this world to the hope I have in the mercy and all-sufficient love of God. When I look to God and see His hand in all my troubles and put my faith in His wisdom, justice, truth and love I can rest easy because He is right there.

But there were some of them, Cypriot and Cyrenian men, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists,[e][f] proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. – Acts 11:20-21 HCSB

In his book, Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley asks a question, Who is church for?  I love discipling others and I find the church the place where I love to be and find that I fit well into that purpose. I also love to tell the gospel story to those who have never heard the good news. What a joy to bring them into a body that loves Jesus as much as their new found love.

Father, may I never lose sight of who You are. Thank you for adding my name to the list of those who have experienced Your gracious generosity. May I find strength in the idea of resting in You, even in the midst of You changing me. I pray that when I speak, may Your words heal those who are listening. May many hear the good news of Your love and respond as the Holy Spirit moves in their lives. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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1 Samuel 6-8; Acts 7

A great responsibility comes with choice. And I wonder how many people consider the cumulative or immediate consequences of a choice–from decisions over meals, activity, deadlines, to the influence of entertainment, relationships, culture.

Today, I read of Samuel plainly speaking, warning of the results of a choice:

10 So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. 12 Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. 13 The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. 14 He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. 16 He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”

21 So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, 22 and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home. (1 Samuel 8:10-22, NLT, emphasis added)

Even though Samuel warned what it meant to have a king rule over them, the people wanted to be like everyone else; and they wanted one man to judge them and lead them. Those were the defining arguing points they made, over everything else they’d perhaps forfeit. And God said to let them have it.

I think long on freedom and choice, grateful and reverent of it.

As I read through Stephen’s recounting of history, two things stand out: man’s choice and God’s presence. Stephen reminds of God’s leading and man’s response, sometimes obedient and sometimes not.

51 “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! 52 Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. 53 You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”

54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage

57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him 58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. (Acts 7:51-54, 57-58, NLT, emphasis added)

I wonder, Lord, does choice always come down to choosing or rejecting you? From what I eat for lunch, what I listen to, how I handle conflict, what I say between friends–where do I put you in all of this, even these seeming inconsequential things? And what of mercy, compassion, forgiveness?

Father God, thank you for choice and freedom. These are perhaps the most powerful permissions you have given mankind. Help me to be aware of my heart in the choices I make. I want to choose you. I want to follow you. Stephen’s last words were for mercy for his attackers. Lord, help me to keep your kingdom as my focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 19-21; Acts 2

Recently a friend and I sat in somber reflection at the power of influence. Influence can be an unintentional bump, a gentle nudge, or a fierce force sending one in a direction or on a path, for better or worse. And when influence gathers a following, it is its own entity.

There’s a sense of foreboding when a couple rests at the town square.

18 “We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I’m returning home. But no one has taken us in for the night, 19 even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.”

20 “You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.” (Judges 19:18-20, NLT)

While they were dining as guests in the old man’s house …

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.” (Judges 19:22, NLT)

I pause at this crowd. Would one man have acted this way on his own? To be so bold as to make demands and intimidate? Would two men have done this? But one’s idea catches fire to a crowd, and they arrive at this place and collectively terrorize a victim–the concubine.

27 When her husband opened the door to leave, there lay his concubine with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said, “Get up! Let’s go!” But there was no answer. So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.

29 When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine’s body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.

30 Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?” (Judges 19:27-30, NLT)

Not succumbing to poor influences is a starting point, and it may keep one out of the mix. But this seizes me: everyone who saw it (admitted it was a horrible crime, recognized it for the abuse it was, was aware of the oppressive force) … who’s going to speak up?

I can take those words and apply them today to any number of things: from bullying, domestic issues, and social ostracizing to violence, injustice, or oppression.

I contrast this with the fire of the Holy Spirit that comes upon the group in Acts 2. A group is witness to the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, and still, they write it off to something they can understand instead of seeing it for divine truth in action.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” (Acts 2:13, NLT)

Another crowd. Ridicule. But there are some who see the truth, and their hearts are pierced.

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” (Acts 2:37-40, NLT)

Father God, the Holy Spirit is a gift, a promise. Help me to heed your counsel. Whether one-to-one or in a group, please give me wisdom and courage to do what is right and honor you.

Courtney (66books365)

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