Tag Archives: 66 books

Genesis 35-37; Psalm 12; Mark 14

Oh, what to do with Joseph and his brothers’ betrayal? Sold out. A beautiful gift his father had given (Joseph), the dreams (he was) given by God, his siblings’ seething hatred and jealousy fully surfaced in their hearts. Money exchanged. Blood. Lies and deception. Grief. That’s just their story.

And on some level, it’s everyone’s story–hater or hated: a dream is dashed; a haughty, hateful eye seethes over a beautiful gift/talent received. In bloodline or in Christ.

Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
    they flatter with their lips
    but harbor deception in their hearts.

You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
    and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
    when what is vile is honored by the human race. (Psalm 12:1-2, 7-8, NIV)

Bloodshed still, and it looks different on social streams–hatred, slander, condemnation. Strutting about, honoring what is vile. Lifeblood flows, spirits crushed. Grief.

I looked to learn from Joseph’s perseverance (which was not in my reading today!), but instead, I find the lesson at Jesus’ feet.

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (Mark 14:3-11, NIV, emphasis mine)

She did what she could. And it was a beautiful thing to the Lord. She gave her best, poured out.

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me as you do. Help me, Lord, to do what I can with the talents and responsibilities you’ve given me. And while I grieve the betrayal of blood- and Christ-line, you show me it is nothing new. You encourage me to press on with the dreams you’ve placed in me, to serve you with the talents you’ve given me, to honor you with my attitude despite condemnation and criticism from those around me–be it bloodline or in Christ. Help me, Lord, to be mindful of my heart and my words, to encourage those who run alongside me. I answer to you. I serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 30-31; Psalms 11; Mark 12

“Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.” So Jacob called Rachel and Leah out to the field where he was watching his flock. He said to them, “I have noticed that your Father’s attitude toward me has changed. But the God of my father has been with me… Jacob outwitted Laban the Aramean, for they set out secretly and never told Laban they were leaving. So Jacob took all of his possessions with him and crossed the Euphrates River, heading for the hill country of Gilead.” Genesis 31:3-5,20&21 NLT

When the Lord told Jacob to go, he obeyed.  God protected him when Laban came searching for him. God saw Jacob’s hard work and came to his rescue.  Jacob didn’t have to defend himself.  He knew that the Lord was on his side.

“In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side-the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac-you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!” Genesis 31:42 NLT

Those times when I feel like I have to defend myself, God is fighting for me. He goes to battle on my behalf. Sometimes even in obedience, I am assaulted by the enemies lies. But, God is there. He is with me. I can’t flee his presence.

He is my helper.
He is my defender.
He is my protector.

“I trust in the Lord for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety! The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right. The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do? But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.” Psalms 11:1-4 NLT

He sees my faithfulness in the mundane of life, even when my offerings feel small.

“I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” Mark 12:43 NLT

Thank you Father for you faithfulness. Thank you for meeting me where I am at. For revealing fresh and new things from your word. For hearing my prayers.  I love you.  I desire to love you more. Amen.

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Mark 12:31 NLT

Amy (amyctanner)

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Genesis 24-25; Psalm 4; Mark 9

I want God guiding my steps. I want to hear what he says. Abraham heard God’s promises. He knew that God would provide.

“The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. (Genesis 24:7, NIV, emphasis added)

His servant looked expectantly for God’s presence and provision. I open my eyes too.

12 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. (Genesis 24:12-15, NIV, emphasis added)

In January’s quiet, I look back on a past year in thoughtful reflection and consider the days ahead.

Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
    and trust in the Lord. …

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:4-6, 8 NIV)

I think long on inheritance and stewardship and faith walking and trust.

43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. (Mark 9:43, NIV)

I consider the lessons of last year, fertile ground my tomorrows are built upon, and I look for your guidance. Search this heart, Lord, and help me. I want to hear your voice. Help me to hear well.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 9-11; Mark 4

I’ve never been on a boat in a storm. I’ve seen movies and video footage of boats and ships maneuvering in treacherous waters. From the couch, I don’t feel the full effect of peril. Today I slowed a bit to read and imagine this moment on a boat.

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. (Mark 4:35-37, NIV)

A furious squall. Waves breaking over the side. Nearly swamped.

I’ve stood in places where life felt furious and I felt small. I’ve looked out at circumstances that seemed to grow intensely, immensely before my eyes and tower over the side of boundaries I thought could protect me. Nearly swamped–that felt like most of 2017.

38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38, NIV)

Was there panic? Was there urgency?

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40, NIV)

Getting off the boat that day, I can only imagine these men: drenched, tousled, perhaps shoeless, and definitely shaken–that’s just outward appearances. Inside? Changed.

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41, NIV)

Lord, I see you in life’s glories–all of nature proclaims your name, from rainbows to furious squalls. You are there. In the storm and after, you show me you can be trusted. And though I walk sometimes tousled and shaken, oh, am I grateful I can call on you. You remind me in those moments (of feeling small, of panic/despair/doubt) that you are bigger than the things I see. Thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Genesis 3-5; Mark 2

“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. Genesis 3:1-4 NLT

Satan’s tactics haven’t changed. Even though he can’t read my mind, he’ll try and put doubt in it. Whispering… “Did God really say that?” Before I know it, trust turns to confusion and I am deceived. Sometimes he sneaks up on me so slyly and I have to be on guard. The best way to battle him is filling my mind with the truth of God’s word ever day.

“When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven. Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home! And the mam jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” Mark 2:1-5, 11&12 NLT

I want to have faith like the crippled man and do whatever I can to get to Jesus.  He didn’t let his brokenness hold him back. He let others help him. When I am too weak, I pray for friends who will carry me to his feet.  Sometimes, I let my stubbornness keep me from his healing touch. Or, like Adam and Eve, I think I can hide and cover up. But God knows my heart. There’s no pretending with him. So, why do I try? He is always there, waiting for me to draw near and come in his presence.

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17 NLT

Dear Jesus, thank you for making a way for me to come to you, through your death on the cross. I am grateful for your Holy Spirit. Thank you for the promise that you are always with me. Amen

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Chronicles 33; Revelation 19; Malachi 1; John 18

Manasseh built altars across the land to worship false gods. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. His reigning years peak at likely his lowest point: 10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. 11 So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:10-11, NLT).

A ring through his nose. Bound in chains. A prisoner.

12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God (2 Chronicles 33:12-13, NLT)!

Offerings. Honor. Obedience. These are the words that repeat through the four readings. I take note and quiet myself before the Lord. At a year’s end, I look back and reflect on losses, responses and responsibilities. This heart of mine still sorts through thoughts of legacy and life.

Offerings. Honor. Obedience. A look back framed by those words. A look ahead to a new year, and I pray (oh, I pray Lord!) that my offerings to You would be generous and cheerfully given of time, talent, treasure. That my thoughts and actions would honor You. And that even in the difficulties, I would choose obedience.

Lord, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Thank you, Jesus, for bending low to hear me, for answering prayers, for guiding my steps and leading me through this year’s very rough waters. I quiet myself at your feet to listen and learn. Help me to live a life that honors you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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2 Chronicles 16; Revelation 5; Zechariah 1; John 4

The woman at the well, up to that day, her life spoke a different story. An encounter with Jesus, and she runs to tell others, leaving her water jar behind. Her former story is not her summary–it is the contrast of a life transformed.

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42, NLT)

A king who reigned years finds himself in a tight spot and in need of help. He gathers resources to entice aid, and gets it–in the process, getting more than he anticipated.

At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9, NLT)

His summary? So very different from what it could have been.

11 The rest of the events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians. 13 So he died in the forty-first year of his reign. (2 Chronicles 16:11-13, NLT)

This year I have felt overwhelmed by tasks and pressures–and I’ve also felt the Lord’s steady presence. At times, it’s felt like a battle, where I would fix my gaze–on my worry, my questions, my wounds? Or on the unmovable might of the Lord? I’ve felt him telling me, “Seek.”

Lord, you are the living water I want. Thank you for speaking into my life, for drawing near to me when I approach you, for your sovereignty in all things. I want to speak of who you are, not of my limited capacity. Thank you for this very sobering reminder to seek you. Thank you for hearing my prayers.

Courtney (66books365)

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