Category Archives: Bible in a year reading plan

Song of Solomon 1-3; Psalm 94; Matthew 18

I’ve spent the last few weekends going through boxes in my basement. I have run across pictures I had forgotten, relived memories of special occasions, and gotten to see the faces of loved ones who have passed away—my mom, dad, brother, grandparents. In one corner of the basement are all the boxes I brought from my mother’s house after she died. They have been untouched for five years. One box, in particular, contained an old brown picture album with the black pages where the pictures were neatly held in place at the corners. As I went through the pictures, I wish so much my mother was there. She would have remembered who everyone was. She would have reminded me of the details of stories I thought I’d never forget—yet I have. I wanted to ask her so many questions. I wish I had written names on the back of pictures or written down the stories of our relatives and their lives. There was so much wisdom that was shared by generations but forgotten over time.

Reading through the parables in Matthew 18, I thought of Jesus and how important it was for him to share the words his father gave him for us. How blessed we are to have them written down so we won’t forget! I can imagine a sense of urgency each day that he was here knowing it was only a short amount of time before he would be gone from the disciples. As he taught them, they listened to the stories, and, unlike me with all the stories my mom shared, they remembered them. I’ve read these stories many times over the years but they have changed. They have become personal. It’s almost as if, in my mind’s eye, I can see Jesus looking past the people he’s with and looking directly at me as he speaks. I feel like he really wants me to get it!

In this chapter, there were some harsh words of warning against causing another to sin:

6“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

His teaching on the lost sheep reminded me of my own story and how I was once that lost sheep he came and rescued. 14“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” Thank you, Jesus, for coming after me!

He gives us a story on forgiveness and how important it is—especially considering how much we’ve been forgiven!  22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Psalm 94 reminds me that I am blessed to have the Lord’s teaching, even if it comes in the form of discipline. His words are meant to protect me.

12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
the one you teach from your law;
13 you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.

I am so thankful that God has not left me here without any kind of direction. I have his Word and his Spirit to guide me. I love to imagine myself sitting on the ground, legs crisscrossed, at the feet of Jesus listening intently as he teaches about the goodness of his Father. He tells me of his great love for me—ME—that lost sheep who had almost given up. Who is such a sinner. Yet he tells me I’m forgiven, and because of that, I’m to forgive others.

Heavenly Father, your love continually amazes me. The depth of love you have for us is shown through Jesus. I pray I will always sit at his feet and listen to his stories—stories of you. In His name I pray.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Ecclesiastes 3-5; Psalm 45; Matthew 15

I think of the scraps that fell from the table: could meager remnants become a feast? I sat on a bench one year and considered the crumbs and thought of this woman in Matthew 15 and her perspective.

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:24-27, NLT)”

She taught me something profound that day about my own heart. About contentment. About gratitude. About the Lord. About enough.

The Pharisees had their expectations of what life would look like, and how purity would be recognized, and a protocol for how things would be done. I think on how my own expectations, perceptions, and protocol have kept me sour, hurt, angry, or disappointed.

Ecclesiastes marks time like seasons for war and peace, tearing and mending, silence and speech. Couldn’t it show on the calendar? On (this day), you will cry. You will grieve. But in a few turns of the calendar pages, you will laugh. You will dance. Would the wait feel long?

Here, I linger:

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13, NLT).

The injustices of life. The advantages of companionship. The futility of power and wealth. The importance of integrity. Read slowly. Everything, beautiful. Even in the becoming, beauty, in the wait. A scope of His work.

17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (Ecclesiastes 5:17-20, NLT, emphasis added).

I did a quarterly evaluation in areas of my life from 1-10: work, health, friendships, etc. Goal books and podcasts preach a level-10 life. What would it look like, I wondered. And slowly I realized–I was already there. I have all I need. And maybe living out level 10 didn’t mean what I was making it (nebulous as it was). Maybe it didn’t look like anyone else’s vision of ten. Maybe, in some cases, it had to do with letting go of hurts and expectations, with looking forward and sowing into a future than looking back and carrying past burdens. Maybe my disappointment stemmed from exceptions and restrictions and expectations I placed upon things, a schedule I overbooked, a relationship I overestimated. For community that was never going to be what I hoped it could be. For the friend who never agreed to be who I needed her to be. What if I let go of my own restrictions, instead of wrestling with a past I couldn’t change, and people I wished who would? Seems like chasing the wind.

Lord, thank you for meeting me that day on the bench, bringing that woman’s story to mind. Thank you today for reminding me of the scope of your story. Thank you for gifts from you: good things from you, and the health to enjoy them.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 31; Ecclesiastes 1-2; Matthew 14

What a great reading today – sets the tone for the day. The ideal woman is described through her activity as a wife. I was reading that the traditional hymn sung praising the mighty deeds of a warrior was transposed to extol a heroic wife – the focus on her exploits. As beautiful as all of this is, nothing really matches the words from her children and her husband as they praise her. What a portrait of a household ruled by Woman Wisdom and if you will, the home of those she has discipled. I love calling my wife a woman of wisdom.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:  – Proverbs 31:28  ESV

The man of wisdom himself, Solomon, takes the idea of being transparent seriously. I have so much to learn from him in this area.  I notice whenever he uses the word “you” in advice or warning, he actually sounds like he is speaking to himself. While he is talking to himself about things he should be doing, he finds himself not doing it. Have to remind myself not to do that when I am preaching.

The words of the Preacher,[a] the son of David, king in Jerusalem. – Ecclesasties 1:1  ESV

No matter what my need is, Jesus comes to me in my hour of need. He is watching over me even when I cannot see Him. The storm and the miracle of walking on water is a great picture of what Jesus still does in my life when I am sailing through my own storms which happen in the dark so often.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” – Matthew 14:27  ESV

I am meant to recognize the metaphor. If I allow myself to face my storms alone, that is on me.

Father, I look at this amazing woman of wisdom and I see this wise man filled with wisdom, and I cannot help but realise how You sent Jesus, Your wisdom personified, to walk with me in life. Thank You.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

 

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Proverbs 16-19; Matthew 10

He had the power to heal and restore and raise. Loving Jesus. When Satan tempted him in the wilderness, he resisted the challenge to prove or grasp at anything, but stood upon God’s Word. Wise Jesus. When he was accused and arrested and condemned to death, he didn’t raise a sword; he didn’t argue his defense; the image of him beaten and bloody, carrying his cross in front of an audience, being nailed upon it, left to die–the mockers crying out to him, “Can’t even save yourself!” He seemed broken, weak, defeated. But here, he fought a battle no one understood. Humble Jesus. Warrior Jesus. Savior.

34 Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36     Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it (Matthew 10:34-39, NLT, emphasis added).

In Matthew 10, Jesus prepares the disciples to send them out–I sit at his feet and listen in: Do the work (Mt 10:8); Shake it off and move on (Mt 10:14); Beware (Mt 10:17).

16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 22 And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:16-22, NLT, emphasis added).

Things are more than what they seem. Lord, I pray for kingdom focus, wisdom and guidance.

20 Get all the advice and instruction you can,
    so you will be wise the rest of your life.

21 You can make many plans,
    but the Lord’s purpose will prevail (Proverbs 19:20, 21, NLT).

Grateful your purpose will prevail, always.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 9-12; Matthew 8

As I read through today’s passages, the theme of “storms” stood out for me—maybe because they really are such a part of life. They come in all intensities. Some are threatening but never materialize. Some hit but then blow over quickly leaving minimal damage. Then there are the ones that hover for days and leave great destruction in their wake. That’s the kind of storm that changes the landscape of everything familiar. By the grace of God, I am thankful I’ve survived them all! But, I certainly did not do it in my own strength. However, those storms are when I’ve learned some of the most profound lessons from God about God.

I must admit, some of the storms have been of my own doing.

29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

Instead of following “the way of the LORD”, I chose my own way and I can assure it was a storm I could have avoided. All the signs were there: the dark clouds, the wind, and the change in barometer. Instead of heading to my refuge to wait it out, I headed straight into the storm. That storm was probably the beginning of wisdom for me. (Job 28:8–And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”)

Then, there was the storm that was not of my doing. Choices were made by others that changed the course of my life and took me in a completely different direction. That storm is where I learned to stand on the truth of God. Sometimes the weather was so bad I couldn’t see in front of me but God was my lighthouse that led the way. That storm changed the landscape of everything familiar. At the end of that storm, there were people no longer in my life and I realized the great pain of letting go was God’s way of showing me how to let him in. Through that I found a life I didn’t know was possible.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.

Then there was the one that I thought was a storm, but turned out to be a blessing. Oh yes, while I was going through it, it looked like a storm and I thought I would drown. But truthfully, when it was over, all I could do was marvel at God’s faithfulness. There was a purpose to that storm unlike any of the others. I went into it gripped with fear but THAT one, above all the others, was where I witnessed Jesus rebuke the winds and the waves. I witnessed a miracle!

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

As long as I have breath in my body, the opportunity for storms in my life exists. But God has shown me how to weather them. He’s taught me where to go (under his wings), what to do (trust him), and to ride out the storm with him as my captain. I know that he alone is my safe haven.

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for your faithfulness in my life. I would not be where I am today without your guidance as we passed through some choppy waters. I thought for sure I was going to go under but you always kept my head above water. Forgive me for the times I doubted. In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; Matthew 5

Solomon had it all–he was powerful, wealthy, intelligent. The Queen of Sheba pays him a visit, and she is wowed by all she sees–all that she’s heard about Solomon is true. But despite all that, he was living in a deficit, a weakness and drain he either didn’t seem to notice or didn’t take seriously.

The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.

In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been.

The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command (1 Kings 11:2-4, 9-10, NLT, emphasis added).

Solomon was a very smart man, but how did he get this so wrong? His father was DAVID. Maybe he didn’t think some rules applied to him. Maybe he didn’t really consider the consequences of his actions–it was in the name of love after all.

Self, take warning. Guard your heart. What places in my life have I not taken seriously that the Lord wants me to guard and submit to him?

In the New Testament reading, Jesus has a lot to say about the law, anger, adultery, divorce, vows, revenge, and love for enemies. Actions are birthed from thought, and thought provokes a choice.

28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28, NLT).

He knows the power of the heart. He knows how small choices of disobedience can take one so far off course, leading away from God instead of closer to Him.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless (Matthew 5:13, NLT).”

God has always given people choice. And thankfully, with that choice, He has also given guidance and warning because He is a loving father. The warning He gave to Israel was for the nation and for the individual. Jesus speaks to the body of believers: A word not just for a time, but for all time; a word not just for a body but every body.

Lord, I’m thankful for how much you love me. You are a father who loves and leads. I don’t want to take your word as a broad guideline for mankind, but as a tender counsel for my very heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 1; 2 Corinthians 12; Psalm 78

Today’s readings reminded me of how present God is in our lives and how he hears our prayers. We can cry out to him when we need direction and we need healing. We may not get the answer we want but we can trust in his goodness. It starts with Solomon:

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:5-9) NIV

Solomon offers sacrifices to the Lord, and cries out to him for direction on how to be king and lead the people of Israel. God answers his prayer and gives him the gift of wisdom to rule wisely.

Paul cries out when he has been afflicted:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7b-10) NIV

Paul’s prayer was not answered as he had prayed. God did not remove the “thorn”. God’s answer made Paul realize that he would be a better representative of Christ for any suffering he might endure. Paul endured much hardship, persecution and difficulty that can only be accounted to the very presence of God with him.

That same God is with me every day. Psalm 78 reminds me how quickly I can forget his presence and all he has done in my life. It is a reminder of the story of the Israelites and how God was with them from the beginning. I have my own story of parting seas, manna in the wilderness, and Promised Land victories over my enemies. When I feel weak, I pull out my journals and reread the story of God working in my life. He’s held me when I cried and reprimanded me when I needed correction. There are prayers he didn’t answer that now, looking back, were a blessing. Then, there are the prayers that were answered in ways I didn’t expect that far surpassed my imagination. Through it all I know I am dearly loved and never alone.

Lord, your presence is everything and I am so thankful that you call me your child. Sometimes I get caught up in my circumstances and take my eyes off Jesus. That is when I start to sink. But you quickly reach out and catch me. I am so grateful you are ever-present, as close as a whispered prayer, and always have my best interest at heart. I know I’ve not always followed through and had to go around the same mountain a time or two, but you’ve patiently allowed me to see your way is far better. You are the solid rock beneath my feet. I love you more each day. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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