Category Archives: Bible in a year reading plan

2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21; Romans 4

I have a purple buff/gaiter that I sometimes use as a head covering when I work in the yard. It’s different from the others I have because if I try to stretch the fabric from top to bottom, it doesn’t budge. But when I take hold from the sides and pull, it stretches. It seems odd that a fabric can be pulled one direction, but not the other. And it’s probably odd that I think of that when I read the scriptures today.

In 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21, David takes a census.

Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him (2 Samuel 24:1, NLT); and Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1, NLT).

I note how sin has a far-reaching effect–this act carries a consequence touching thousands. Of three possible outcomes, a plague strikes the land taking lives of 70,000 people.

I think of a fabric being pulled and stretched, yielding and groaning to a force. But when I read Romans 4, I see a fabric that doesn’t budge. That doesn’t stretch. That holds by its integrity. And I am reminded again of the great power of faith, the great gift of God, immovable, that maintains its posture.

13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. (Romans 4:13-17, NLT)

20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. (Romans 4:20-25, NLT)

When I feel stretched and pulled by battling emotions, I want to remember this truth that should weaken every struggling thought and urge to silence. What if I spoke aloud: Courtney never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, her faith grew stronger, and in this, she brought glory to God. She was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

Lord, thank you for lessons in fabric that hold their shape and integrity. Thank you for this word today, recorded for my benefit too, assuring me that you will count me as righteous if I believe in you. Greatest gift ever, a faith that glorifies you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 21-23; Psalm 18; Romans 3

I keep asking myself what love looks like, the more excellent way Paul alluded to. I remember this story well and even though it had to be done that did not stop love from being on display.

Rizpah, Aiah’s daughter, took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on the rock from the beginning of the harvest[g] until the rain poured down from heaven on the bodies. She kept the birds of the sky from them by day and the wild animals by night. – 2 Samuel 21:10 HCSB

There is something about a mother’s love that cannot be described, but here it is on full display. I know that a mother’s love is tried and tested and on occasion there is much sorrow. It seems that love also brings with it grief. The more deep and tender the love, so much the more poignant the grief. And, as a mother loves most, she is most susceptible of sorrow.

I look at my wife, the mother of my children, and I see someone who is utterly unselfish. She loves because it is her nature. She does not love in hope that one day they will love her back, but rather because even with those who might likely die, they will never bereave her of her love.

When David uses that same intensity of love, I take notice and compare my own love for God next to his and next to my wife.

I love You, Lord, my strength. – Psalm 18:1 HCSB

He used an unusual word here, an uncommon one, used more with being impulsive and emotional. I am cut off guard because it expresses a compassionate love that is used more from the stronger one to the weaker.

“Hebrew – I will love thee dearly and entirely…from the very heart-root.” – Trapp

It is the only occasion in Scripture where the word “love” is used with such special depth and tenderness. I am challenged to say “I love You” to my God who had delivered me, rescued me, and who walks with me, with such an intensity of love that has been put on display by Rizpah and David.

Father, teach me to know what it means to love in a more excellent way. How many times I get into Your Word, start studying, start praying and yet all I need to do for a moment is give some time to express our love for each other. I pray for more quiet moments like these to be able to express my love for You. While I am out and about, if my love for You needs to be passionate, may I not be embarrassed. May I give my all so that everyone watching can see the intensity of my love for You. May I find the strength to give it away with no regrets.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; Psalm 51, 32; Acts 27

Two renditions of the same story:

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1, NLT)

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the land of the Ammonites. In the process he laid siege to the city of Rabbah, attacking and destroying it. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (1 Chronicles 20:1, NLT)

Second Samuel continues on to the story of David and Bathsheba. When he wasn’t where he should have been, doing what he should have been doing, the fertile ground for sin awaited. I’m not talking about Bathsheba, but David’s own choices. The story of one thing leading to another ends in multiple tragedies and repentance.

Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. (2 Samuel 11:2-4a, NLT, emphasis added)

When I think of David, I think of a man who loved God. I think of his many talents and skills. I think of his courage and faith. I think of his victories.

First Chronicles 20 continues this way:

Then David went to Rabbah and removed the crown from the king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and he found that it weighed seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. (1 Chronicles 20:2, NLT)

First Chronicles doesn’t read like a journey into David’s heart and struggle. It just tells the historical war facts. The pairing of these two books shows such a great contrast. As I move from first paragraph to second in this book, the blank space separating the two symbolically speaks of so much more.

Grace.

When I think of God, I think of grace. I think of His great power and creativity. I think of His attention to detail and wisdom. I think of His love for us–to give us all choice: to choose Him, to follow Him, and to return to Him when we’ve strayed. Choices sometimes carry painful consequences, but I am reminded there’s another story larger than my own and a God on the throne with love and grace enough for everyone.

God, what do you see when you look at me?

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there. (Psalm 51:1-6, NLT)

Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
    that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
    you protect me from trouble.
    You surround me with songs of victory.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” (Psalm 32:6-9, NLT)

That blank space between 1 Chronicles 20:1 and 20:2, I fill it with this sweet, divine relief:

Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight! (Psalm 32:1, NLT)

Father God, you are the safest place for my deepest thoughts. Hiding place. Protector. You give guidance and advice. How wonderful–what joy!–that I can turn to you honestly and completely and you receive me. Thank you for grace.

Courtney (66books365)

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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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