Category Archives: Bible in a year reading plan

2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Ephesians 5

We read in 2 Chronicles 31 that Hezekiah sought the Lord wholeheartedly in all that he did. Yet, the first sentence of 2 Chronicles 32 can make you question that.

After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls. (2 Chron 32:1)

Wow—here is King Hezekiah tearing down statues and Asherah poles and leading the people away from false gods to follow the teachings of Moses and the one true God. These are all really good things he is doing out of love and devotion for God. Why would God allow this to happen?

Don’t I ask that same question? “Lord, I’ve been serving You doing all these good things for You! How could you let __________ (fill in the blank with any number of trials) happen?”

The truth is, I am not God and I have no clue what his plans for me entail. I know he is a good God, that he loves me, and anything that comes into my life he plans to use to draw me closer to him and make me more like Jesus. So, what am I to do when these trials come my way? I know my enemy is going to come after me—much like Hezekiah knew the Assyrians were on their way.

I think Hezekiah gave me some insight as how I can prepare. First, he looked at how the enemy might drain his resources or benefit from their resources. The battle might be a long one so he didn’t want to make it easy for the Assyrians to wait them out.

They organized a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, “Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?”

Then, he fortified the city itself and found places of weakness where the enemy could easily enter. He also made sure he had weapons to protect the army.

Then Hezekiah worked hard at repairing all the broken sections of the wall, erecting towers, and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the supporting terraces[a] in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields.

Then he spoke truth into their minds–to fortify that as well. We know the enemy uses words to try to deceive us and intimidate us. Our minds and thoughts are right where those fiery darts are aimed! He will try to get me to be afraid and to doubt God. I need to have words of Truth to shield me and deflect the lies.

He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate. Then Hezekiah encouraged them by saying: “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.

I need people encouraging me, reminding me that God will help me and fight my battles for me. I don’t have to go it alone. Of course, I need to prepare for battles to come my way because they will come. I need to take stock of my resources, my gifts, my talents. I need to make sure I haven’t left myself open to attack by unconfessed sin. The enemy can’t use what I’ve brought into the Light. I need to keep God’s Word handy. That is my weapon to protect myself from lies. And I need to have my close friends close by and praying for me. Isolation is one of the greatest ways the enemy chooses to devour me.

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Mostly, I need to stay connected to God through prayer. His guidance and direction are there for the asking. Just as he directed Hezekiah and Isaiah, he will direct me. Just as he fought their battle, he will fight for me.

20 Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword. (2 Chron 32:20-21)

Lord, I am so thankful for your love, your steadfast love. You are always there. I admit I do not always turn to you first when life comes at me. But I want to! I want to think of you first. I know I can trust you to be with me, to hear me when I cry out, and to direct my steps. You listen, you comfort, you correct, and you pick me up when I fall. You are my Abba who is my shelter in the storms of life. To you be the honor and glory forever. In Jesus name, Amen.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ephesians

Isaiah 34-35; Ephesians 2

At some point, the crickets’ song took over summer, reminding that a new season approaches. During a morning walk, honking geese overhead shake me from a summer dream almost like an alarm–a new season approaches. I remember thinking, “It’s only July–you’re going the wrong way!”

My calendar said there was still plenty of time. But suddenly it’s two weeks later and two more to go will go in a blink. When I was young, the days seemed long. Now I find myself wishing for more hours in the day.

Lord, help me to keep a Kingdom focus. When I find myself small, discouraged, I want to remember, you are mighty.

16 Search the book of the Lord,
    and see what he will do.
Not one of these birds and animals will be missing,
    and none will lack a mate,
for the Lord has promised this.
    His Spirit will make it all come true (Isaiah 34:16, NLT).

A friend reminded me, the Lord is a redeemer.

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
    The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
    and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
    as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
    the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
    and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:1-4, NLT, emphasis added)

A changing of seasons seems almost imperceptible when I operate in the daily–laundry, schedules, appointments. One day the trees are budding. Another day, I am aware of the rich aroma of full flowers saturating the air. Now the mornings have a pleasant chill that make me want to run faster and farther. A kingdom here, a kingdom near, and I am reminded I am his.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-8, NLT).

An accuser wants me weak and fearful–unwanted, worthless, abandoned. Faith tells me I belong. I am his.

19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family (Ephesians 2:19, NLT).

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 30-33; Ephesians 1

I love reading the perspective of Old Testament prophets when it comes to understanding God and what He is doing and making it relevant to the day. I pick up today that hope remains as I participate and stay with my community of believers. It is where God wants me to serve and not be tempted to go where I think there may be more…more of anything.

 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures,  and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. – Isaiah 30:23-24  ESV

The reason I have hope is because it is God who teaches and disciplines when it comes to judgments.

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
    and princes will rule in justice. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
    and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. – Isaiah 32:1,16  ESV

I am still learning that there is security when I am under a just and righteous God. As long as I understand that He is reconstructing me. With that comes some times of mourning for sure. Sorrow is not the ultimate purpose God is looking for in my life, but is only the breaking of ground in my heart to be receptive to the Holy Spirit.

Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
    and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. – Isaiah 32:15  ESV

 

At the same time, I need to understand that the period of mourning is followed by blessing.

Happy are you who sow beside all waters,
    who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free. – Isaiah 32:20  ESV

This is where I come in with thanksgiving and prayer for the power of the Holy Spirit in my life making all of this happen.

Who is the guarantee[d] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,[e] to the praise of his glory.  For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[f] toward all the saints. Ephesians 1:14-15  ESV

How else can I love those who follow Jesus? My fruit needs to be real so that others can see that I am authentic and a genuine follower of Jesus myself. Then that love we have together is a powerful witness to the world. So while I strive on my own, it is so much better to be followers of Jesus together.

Thank You for walking with me in this journey!

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

 

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Isaiah 16-18; Romans 13

A woman I love lost both her parents and her sister within the same year. They were a close family, and this loss was understandably enormous. There were things she said that touched me so deeply. I have not forgotten her words.

In recent years, many events have caused me to examine myself and my beliefs. Where did I place my hope? Who did I trust? So many questions surfaced in a time of change, loss, wonder and grief. I’ve sought understanding in the wrestle. When life as I knew it and believed it to be was turned inside out, it became a time of challenging perspectives and making new connections. I focus forward. I cannot rewrite the story of the past.

11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires (Romans 13:11-14, NLT, emphasis added).

This dear woman lost her family, and many years later, I would come to know that type of void. God reminds me and underscores that I am His. There is a darkness that would delight in distracting me from walking in God’s light, in dressing me in rags of condemnation and wounding.

I meet the Lord at sunrise every day. I belong to the day. I belong to Him. He called me Daughter long before I ever called him Dad. There is shining armor with my name on it, and I am clothed in His presence. It is an embrace.

Courtney (66books365)

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Micah 1-4; Romans 9

So this morning we find ourselves in the middle of chapters that theologians have argued over for millennia. And 66Books A Year is a devotional not a theological treatise. So where do we find the devotional point in these chapters.

In Romans 9 and Micah 1-3 God is seen as punishing and setting aside His chose people. They have left God and gone their own way and depending on the way one may read the Romans chapter it may be of God’s own doing. But then we see in Micah 4 the hope for not only Israel and Judah, but for us all. Two verses give us this hope:

6 In that day, declares the Lord,
I will assemble the lame
and gather those who have been driven away
and those whom I have afflicted;

7 and the lame I will make the remnant,
and those who were cast off, a strong nation;
and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
from this time forth and forevermore. (Micah 4:6&7 [ESV])

God has always been for the marginalized. Here we see Him caring for the remnant and the lame and the disenfranchised. There is coming a day when things will be set right and we will enjoy the presence of the Lord forever. In the meantime He meets out His judgement and carries out His will and it can be hard to understand all that. But the promise is sure. We who have put our faith and trust in Him alone for our salvation will be forever with Him. Praise be to God!

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Hosea 13-14; Romans 8; Psalms 100-102

When I read today’s scriptures, I am comforted by who God is. Faithful. Unfailing and everlasting love. Victorious. Generous. Merciful. Unchanging. Forgiving. I read through Romans 8 and the psalms–words expressing the very rich gift of life and love from God–and in its light, I am so very humbled by His love and grace.

I once read that August is the Sunday of summer. I slow now, preparing to enter a new season, a new school year, and to face new challenges. I cling to God. I step back and still. I set my focus. I listen.

“O Israel, stay away from idols!
    I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
    all your fruit comes from me.”

Let those who are wise understand these things.
    Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
    and righteous people live by walking in them.
    But in those paths sinners stumble and fall (Hosea 14:8-9, NLT).

He gives me a Kingdom focus. His paths are true and right. And there is no place I’d rather go (I know He goes with me. He will not abandon me in the difficulties.).

Father God, thank You for Your constant reminders of Your love, Your character, Your strength and sovereignty. Thank You for Your Word in my hands and heart. I lean in and listen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Hosea 9-12; Romans 7; Psalm 73

Wow – where did this dark reading come from? Three selections of scripture that paint a pretty dark picture of life. It starts with punishment and it leaves me thinking I am a fool or at least mad for following Jesus.

The days of punishment have come;
    the days of recompense have come;
    Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
    the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
    and great hatred. – Hosea 9:7  ESV

Even if I am alone, it is my task to speak the kingdom of God to deaf ears. In doing so I know there will be those who think I am strange and startling.

And yet, how true am I really? I end up not doing what is right, but rather wrong. I am amazed how my true self is revealed in Romans chapter seven. I am nothing really. Look how the chapter ends:

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. – Romans 7:25  ESV

How I wish I could have read Romans chapter eight this morning. Then maybe I could have shared some good news.

The Psalms, true to their nature, did not help, well not exactly. Psalm seventy-three starts rough. There is a full attack on naive faith. The world has declared that God is not King, His will does not rule and that He is irrelevant at best.

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. – Psalm 73:2-3  ESV
What do I tell people who ask me if it is useless to serve God with a clean heart. What if they ask me what is the point of “being on God’s side?”
I thank the Lord that the end of Psalm seventy-three offers a turning point. There is something special about being in the presence of God, of belonging to Him. How did I perceive this truth? Worship has a way of confronting the false claims. Worship has a way of pulling the veneer off the face of evil. Worship refocuses my eyes so that I can see “the rest of the story.” I end up confessing clearly the ground rules for renewed faith.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end. – Psalm 73: 16-17  ESV
I see that once again I experienced very narrow tunnel vision. Need to experience my eyes seeing more and my ears hearing more. Worship helps.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works. – Psalm 73:28  ESV
Father, thank you for worship. Thank you Holy Spirit for drawing me into who Jesus is. May my dark days, turn to dark moments and may they be shorter and shorter as I enter Your presence and spend more time with You. Amen.
Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hosea, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized