Category Archives: Old Testament

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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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Matthew, Psalms

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 29-30; Psalms 60 & 33; Matthew 13

“His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to people?” He replied , “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven, but others are not.  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have abundance of knowledge.  But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.  That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see.  They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.” Matthew 13:10-13 NLT

I pray for the Holy Spirit to give me insight and wisdom when reading God’s word.  I find that especially in this, He meets me where I am.  He prods me to dig deeper.  I have learned that the more I read of it, the more hungry I am for it.  The more understanding I have.  But, it is not for knowledge alone.  Am I being changed? Is my heart in the right place?  Am I fearful or discouraged? Those are usually red flags for me that I haven’t picked up my bible in too long.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it.”  Matthew 13:16 NLT

Once I get into his word, my eyes are opened. And I wonder what took me so long.  Why was I scrolling through Instagram or filling my mind with other things? Distraction after distraction. And I wonder why I am weary and tired.  He is always ready and waiting for me to turn to Him.  “But if the source of our satisfaction is anything other than God’s word, a relationship with Jesus, and the power and friendship of the Holy Spirit, our souls will suffer.  What we are truly thirsting for is God.  He is our source of living water.  Nothing else will be able to weep into every part of us. Nothing else will be able to refresh, restore and transform us.  Nothing else will ever truly satisfy our soul.” Lysa Terkeurst

“For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.  But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.  We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” Psalms 33:4, 18-22 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your word.  Thank you that it is truth. I pray for a deeper love for your word. Amen.

“With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.” Psalms 60:12 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

 

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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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2 Chronicles 6-7; Matthew 3; Psalms 98-99

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.  For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy-a place where my name will be honored forever.  I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 NLT

I am seeing this verse in a new way.  The extravagant temple that Solomon built is a parallel to my body, His temple.  Am I surrendering it to Him?

He has set me apart.

He has made me holy.

He is watching over me.

He hears my prayers.

I am dear to his heart.

They cried to the Lord for help, and he answered them.  He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them.  O Lord our God, you answered them.  You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong.  Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain in Jerusalem, for the Lord our God is holy!” Psalms 99:6-9 NLT

God spoke to Israel in the pillar of a cloud.  There have been times when I have wondered why he isn’t  speaking to me in ways that he is to someone else.  I was recently asked to paint during the worship service at my church.  This was a huge step of faith for me and a fear I had to overcome.  One of my biggest stumbling blocks was that I didn’t know what to paint.  I prayed for God to reveal an image to me.  When he seemed to be silent, the doubt would creep in.  I was frustrated when I would hear other artists tell of images that God gave them. But, he did answer me, it was just in a different way that I was expecting. He showed me that it wasn’t as much about what I was painting, as it was surrendering to him and breaking the bondage of old ways of thinking. He spoke through my pastor and his word.  He provided in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.  I could feel his peace and presence like never before.

“Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power! The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!  He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.  The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” Psalms 98:1-3 NLT

Thank you Father that in you I have the victory.   That you hear me.  And you answer me.  I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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1 Kings 4-5; 2 Chronicles 2

Solomon’s vast wisdom, given by God, reaped many wonderful rewards for him personally, and for Kingdom and his people:

He established structure and organization that brought a balance with leadership and a peace to the people. He won over all his enemies so that the land experienced peace and safety, and the people of his kingdom were happy. They had all that they wanted and needed and it brought them joy. And Solomon himself was rich and had many benefits from his wise decisions.

Because of the peace, safety, and wealth, of the nation, the time finally arrived for Solomon to construct the temple. Again, he used wisdom, and again God blessed him for it! He sought help from Lebanon and received it; and in the midst of his interaction with this pagan king, Solomon gave testimony to our God, the One True God, in an attempt lead Hiram to salvation.

Having the material and ready to begin building, Solomon yet again showed his incredible wisdom in the way he managed the workers, hiring three times as many as were necessary, in order to work out shifts of work so that no man would be gone from home for a vast amount of time.

Is it any wonder the people loved this king?

Solomon didn’t use his intellect to rule harshly, to wage war on other nations, or to elevate himself. Instead, he used his wisdom to love God and love others.

Wisdom without love and compassion only serves to make a person arrogant, conceited, and harsh. But wisdom that seeks to honor God and show love to others brings about peace, safety, and joy.

I don’t have the wisdom of Solomon, but still, I must consider – how do I lead? How do I use the wisdom God has given me? Do I use it to lead with love and compassion, or do I use it to separate myself from others and become rude or harsh in my decisions?

God’s blessings came through Solomon’s humility. If I want God’s blessings in my life, I, too, must choose humility.

Lord, I want to love You and love others in the decisions I make. Help me to use the wisdom you’ve given me to glorify you, not myself. Help me to see the people I interact with as you see them, and help me to go the extra mile to benefit them with the choices I make. Thank you for Jesus’ example of wisdom and love, as He became the lowest servant to love the least of these. Help me to follow in His steps and make my decisions based on what glorifies you and benefits others and not just how I, myself, will benefit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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