Tag Archives: 66 books

Proverbs 5-8; Matthew 7

Who are the people in your life that want you to do well? To persevere? To succeed? Who cheers you on and stands in your corner? A parent? A coach? A spouse? A friend? A sibling? Strangers on the Strava app? Proverbs 5-8 and Matthew 7 are overflowing with counsel, encouragement, wisdom, guidance, love.

My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
    listen carefully to my wise counsel.
Then you will show discernment,
    and your lips will express what you’ve learned.

Proverbs 5:1-2, NLT

So now, my sons, listen to me.
    Never stray from what I am about to say

Proverbs 5:7a, NLT

My son, obey your father’s commands,
    and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
21 Keep their words always in your heart.
    Tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk, their counsel will lead you.
    When you sleep, they will protect you.
    When you wake up, they will advise you.
23 For their command is a lamp
    and their instruction a light;
their corrective discipline
    is the way to life.

Proverbs 6:20-23, NLT

Follow my advice, my son;
    always treasure my commands.
Obey my commands and live!
    Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.
Tie them on your fingers as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.

Love wisdom like a sister;
    make insight a beloved member of your family.

Proverbs 7:1-4, NLT

“I call to you, to all of you!
    I raise my voice to all people.
You simple people, use good judgment.
    You foolish people, show some understanding.
Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you.
    Everything I say is right,
for I speak the truth
    and detest every kind of deception.
My advice is wholesome.
    There is nothing devious or crooked in it.
My words are plain to anyone with understanding,
    clear to those with knowledge.

Proverbs 8:4-9, NLT

I notice it in abundance, poured out and over me, and I’m grateful.

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Matthew 7:6-11, NLT

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Matthew 7:13, NLT

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

Matthew 7:24, NLT

The Lord is for me. He loves me. He values me. He wants me to succeed because it brings him delight, pleasure, and glory. He wants me to follow him and model him. He is working to change me into his image. He loves me so much, he doesn’t want to leave me as he found me, but wants to bring me into life, abundant life because he is so good. And I am so grateful.

Courtney (66books365)


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1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; Mattew 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)

From the archives. Originally published June 6, 2019.

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1 Kings 9; 2 Chr. 8; Matt. 4; Ps. 135-136

“I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever.” 1 Kings 9:3-5 ESV

Solomon had started out with good intentions. He wanted to lay a foundation for the Lord. He became known as one of the great builders in Israel’s history. He also rebuilt cities. And his wisdom and power brought honor to the Israelites and to God. But, he got carried away by the world. His heart turned away from the Lord towards false gods. How many times do I begin with good intentions as well?

Thus was accomplishment all the work of Solomon from the day the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid until it was finished. So the house of the Lord was completed.” 2 Chronicles 8:16 ESV

What am I building that will last for eternity?

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever…to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalms 136:1&4 ESV

Steadfast = Fixed on a direction, Firm on purpose.

Dear Father, help me to hold steadfast to your word so that I won’t be persuaded by things of this world. Thank you for your unwavering presence in my life. That you are always with me no matter what the future holds. Amen.

“It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 ESV


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1 Kings 7-8; 2 Chronicles 4-5; Matthew 2

At first glance, I see the offerings brought to the Lord. In the Old Testament, the furnishings for the temple. The silver, the gold. And in the New Testament, the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

At a second and slower look, I see Huram. (I remember getting sculpting clay in my hands for the first time in elementary school, and I tried to fashion a dog from it. My mom kept it displayed in a curio cabinet. These items fashioned by Huram, however, were on display for the Lord and all who came to see it.)

King Solomon then asked for a man named Huram to come from Tyre. 14 He was half Israelite, since his mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father had been a craftsman in bronze from Tyre. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze, and he came to do all the metal work for King Solomon.

1 Kings 7:13-14, NLT

Huram’s father had been a craftsman. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze. Before King Solomon requested him to do the work, Huram had been doing the work–honing his craft and developing his skill. The reading goes into detail of some of the items Huram made:

Huram cast two bronze pillars, each 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. 16 For the tops of the pillars he cast bronze capitals, each 7 1⁄2 feet tall. 17 Each capital was decorated with seven sets of latticework and interwoven chains. 18 He also encircled the latticework with two rows of pomegranates to decorate the capitals over the pillars. 19 The capitals on the columns inside the entry room were shaped like water lilies, and they were six feet tall. 20 The capitals on the two pillars had 200 pomegranates in two rows around them, beside the rounded surface next to the latticework. 21 Huram set the pillars at the entrance of the Temple, one toward the south and one toward the north. He named the one on the south Jakin, and the one on the north Boaz. 22 The capitals on the pillars were shaped like water lilies. And so the work on the pillars was finished.

23 Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 1⁄2 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference. 24 It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of decorative gourds. There were about six gourds per foot all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin.

25 The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen, all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. 26 The walls of the Sea were about three inches thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons of water. 1 Kings 7:15-26, NLT

1 Kings 7:15-26, NLT

The design, the skill, the materials, the scope, the time–all his life’s experience led him to this very special occasion of honoring God. Likewise, when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant is brought to the temple, a great celebration takes place.

11 Then the priests left the Holy Place. All the priests who were present had purified themselves, whether or not they were on duty that day. 12 And the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and all their sons and brothers—were dressed in fine linen robes and stood at the east side of the altar playing cymbals, lyres, and harps. They were joined by 120 priests who were playing trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words:

“He is good!
    His faithful love endures forever!”

At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. 14 The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.

2 Chronicles 5:11-14, NLT

I notice the musicians, the Levites accompanied by 120 priests playing trumpets.

And in the New Testament, some wise men from eastern lands take a long trek by faith to find Jesus.

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:7-11, NLT

(The star may have appeared as long as two years earlier because Herod orders boys aged two and under to be killed.) Likely, the wise men’s trek was a commitment of significant time and provisions–and faith.

I get to read of the culmination–Huram’s artistry, the Levites’ and priests’ song, the wise men’s journey and gifts. But today, I consider the time and preparation–discipline, endurance, perseverance, sacrifice. I see just the iceberg’s tip, but I consider the unseen base of time and dedication that brought them all to that moment.

Father God, may I see the training and time part of the work to honor you. Then it is all for you–not just one defining moment–it’s all of it. A lifetime.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Kings 4-5; 2 Chronicles 2

Largeness of Heart

I am not the brightest bulb in the pack; in fact, when it comes to riddles or jokes, out of frustration, you will ultimately have to explain to me the solution or punchline. Yet, I consider myself a good counselor when it comes to containing the stories and complications of the lives of others. What I find is that I often experience that “aha” moment, that instant of clarity and knowledge which allows me to be of help. There are many times when my education or what I have experienced is not enough to demonstrate God’s everlasting love in the therapeutic relationship. Where does that wisdom come from? My faith and belief are that God is enlarging my heart with understanding, increasing godly compassion, and sparking the curiosity of lifelong learning that enables me to offer a glimpse of God’s love and acceptance to the hurting.

When I read, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore,” I was struck with the words “largeness of heart.” (I Kings 4:29) Solomon was a young man, probably in his early 20’s when he became king over all Israel. His judgments, inventions, poems, and sayings were renowned. His reign and influence legendary. Solomon prayed for and God answered his prayer to have the wisdom to rule God’s people. Solomon knew, as is evidenced in the Proverbs he wrote, that just having intellect did not equate with wisdom. He acknowledged by His request for wisdom that He would need more than smarts and experience to be a good ruler. And God enlarged Solomon’s heart to contain the real-life issues of His people so that Solomon could settle disputes, negotiate treaties, and expand God’s kingdom on earth. I am not so foolish to think that I sit with the greatness of Solomon, but I am humbled to know that God is willing to take thought of me, too, when my prayers align with His will to speak godly wisdom when counseling others.

If you have never participated in talk therapy, you may find my words strange or find it hard to relate to the importance of establishing a trusting, non-judgmental relationship with another human being. Counseling is not just getting someone to talk about something bad that happened or getting a confession that leads to catharsis. The sessions are mutually momentous and forever memorable for both the counselor and the one seeking counseling. I often think of this quote by C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

Therapy is not the only place where largeness of heart is needed. God considers every human being important; therefore, every relationship is an opportunity to share the serious business of godly love. And just like the edict above, our relationships should reflect joy knowing that we are considered equal in God’s eye. How we relate to others will be our testimony to the understanding and wisdom born out of acceptance that we are here but a short while living among immortal souls. Should we not make the most of our time together meaningful spirit to spirit?

Dear Lord God, You are to me the reason for this life, this time in my life, this placement in Your plan. Let me remember how little my needs and preferences are in comparison to the importance of what You have stored up for me. I thank You for all the blessings and tender mercies in my life. I thank You for all the experiences that have brought me closer to You. And I welcome Your future for me, knowing that You will enlarge my heart even more as may be needed to bring others nearer to You.


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