Category Archives: Bible in a year reading plan

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 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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2 Samuel 8,9; 2 Corinthians 2; Ezekiel 16; Psalms 58,59

My wife and I were watching a sermon on grace a few days ago and halfway through she said, “Isn’t this to simple?”  We dialogued afterwards and realized how glad we were that it was.

Can you imagine Mephibosheth’s reaction to grace?

David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 2 Samuel 9:7 NRSV

Do I want that kind of grace, that kind of kindness – for sure I do – for I clearly am a fallen sinner in need of this kind of God’s grace – one who does not deserve it, could never earn it and would never be able to repay it.

My wife and I were also challenged in how we communicate grace to others – and we named a few people in our lives where that needed to be our focus.

For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 2 Corinthians 2:4 NRSV

We affirmed that there definitely is a grace that needs to be exhibited in our communication styles for at some point we too have come from a place of joy received from the recovery of grace.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God. Ezekiel 16:62-63 NRSV

Yes, my wife and I had the same trouble most of us have – cannot talk about grace without talking about judgement. We both concluded that the all-important work of atonement was not overlooking sin, but our sin being covered by God’s marvellous grace.

O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.  Psalm 59:17 NRSV

With a bit of study, I found the Aramaic Bible translates that last part of this verse as, “and the God of my grace!” Yes, there my wife and I have found our joy as followers of Christ.

When I think of grace, I think of Your presence.  Wherever we may be found today and in whatever activity we may be engaged in, may we gather there with Your favour.  Lord, by Your favour, we mean favour us with Your grace, and with the love of God the Father, and with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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2 Samuel 1; 1 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 10; Psalm 49

David honors Saul and Jonathan’s memory with a funeral song.

Paul speaks of spiritual gifts–their diversity, necessity and purpose.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NLT)

Ezekiel describes the glory of God.

Psalm 49 reminds the fleeting worth of wealth.

The readings toggle two realms: here and hereafter.

Lord, this year especially has me sorting through so many thoughts of past, present and purpose. Help me to order my days in light of your calling on my life. It is a joy and honor to serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Samuel 31; I Corinthians 11; Ezekiel 9; Psalm 48

The men of Israel had fled from the lost battle, and Saul and his sons were dead, their headless bodies attached to a wall. “Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.” I Samuel 31:11-13.

For all his faults and even though the kingdom was torn from his hands, Saul was still mourned and honored in his death. Sometimes I wish that I could undo all the mistakes and missteps I made in digging my own pit. Truly, the resurrection power of Christ Jesus that lives in me is the only force that could pull me up and out of those dark places.

Even so, I have experienced times when God seemed far away from me. At such times, I have examined my motives and my works to learn how far I have gone from Him. Corinthians 11:30-32 “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Often, during those times, my family and others have commented on the blessings of God observed in my life. Their remarks confirm to me the unique position believers have in Christ Jesus. God illustrated that fact when speaking through Ezekiel and other prophets in the Bible to remind us that He marks His own.

Ezekiel 9:4 “…and the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’” I think of my many prayers to the Lord – admitting helplessness over things I have no power to change. Why does He come near? Because I am good – no! Because I am marked by Him; I am His own, and He alone is able to save.

I look around and the signs of God’s presence are everywhere – He is in the beauty of His creation; He is in His people, the Church; He is in the sacrifices and the tender gestures of the strong and the weak. He is here right now.

Psalm 48:12-14 “Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers; Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

There is no place I would rather be, Dear Lord God, than here and now to be in Your presence!

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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1 Sam.29,30; 1 Cor.10; Ezek. 8; Ps.46,47

Where can I go for shelter from this crazy world?

As I was reading Psalm 46, I couldn’t help but find definite parallelism between what the psalmist was describing and current day events, and not just from an environmental perspective, although reading Psalm 46 post-Hurricane Harvey and pre-Hurricane Irma did come close!

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

The sons of Korah did a great job of creating a vision of Earthly destruction and devastation.

But then, in the midst of the descriptive turmoil, peace and quietness, as though the hand of God calmed a raging sea…

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The words of the Psalm offer the hope of knowing that in the midst of tragedy, God is with the Earth, assuring the He will not leave her. And how could the psalmist know so many years ago that nations would be in such turmoil? How could the psalmist have known that we are at the brink of war as a result of nuclear weapons being used for evil?

And closer to home, our families are under attack… 1 in 2 marriages are ending in divorce, and the statistics show that the divorce rate is higher among Christians, and lowest among atheists. Slowly, but assuredly, the mention of the name Jesus is seen as a violation, rather than the name above all others. And yet, in the midst of all this ‘cancer’, God is still God, and the psalmist affirms that God continues to love His children, vowing to destroy whoever or whatever opposes Him and His people, offering stern warnings to His enemies.

In the midst of the turmoil, God’s words comfort us…

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

Our Father takes His role as defender of our hearts seriously, especially to those who acknowledge Him, and His Son as Lord and Savior, preparing to move Heaven and Earth to protect those He has invested so much in.

Just as we, as Christians, would make any sacrifice to keep our families safe, so, too, has God offered everything to ensure that His home within our hearts is secure. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit living within us. And in so doing, the enemy cannot successfully invade what God has already claimed. But, this requires a personal decision to do life according to God’s plan completely… not on just the aspects of life that we chose to follow.

My brothers and sisters… we are living in dangerous times… time is short. Matthew 10:33 warns us that whoever denies Jesus before men, Jesus will deny before His Father in Heaven. None of us know the day of His coming. We must heed the advice of the psalmist and know, in our hearts, that God is God, always. Make the time to spend time with Him… He will offer shelter in this crazy world.

Lord, we’re called to life in this world, but not be of the world… doing life according to Your plan is not easy, but we know that the rewards are great and You are worth the sacrifice. Thank you for the respite of peace that You offer those who call you Lord and believe that You are who You are… always. Help us to keep our hearts focused on You until we can see You face to face. Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

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