Tag Archives: 66 books in a year

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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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 25; Revelation 12; Zechariah 8; John 11

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly. Decisions and actions that followed revealed the leaning of his heart. He wouldn’t heed warnings.

So the prophet stopped with this warning: “I know that God has determined to destroy you because you have done this and have refused to accept my counsel.” (2 Chronicles 25:16b, NLT)

I think about the messages and messengers. A prophet warning a king. In Revelation, a revealing of a mystery. In John 11, Jesus receives the message that Lazarus is sick. Zechariah 8 opens with a message, and I listen.

Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says …” (Zechariah 8:1-2a, NLT)

And He says a lot. I keep reading. He speaks of restoration and perseverance and the impossible and rescue.

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. … “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Be strong and finish the task! (Zechariah 8:6, 9a, NLT)

He plants seeds of peace and prosperity, grapevines heavy with ripe fruit.

13 Among the other nations, Judah and Israel became symbols of a cursed nation. But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!

14 “For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: I was determined to punish you when your ancestors angered me, and I did not change my mind, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 15 But now I am determined to bless Jerusalem and the people of Judah. So don’t be afraid. 16 But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. 17 Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”

18 Here is another message that came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace. (Zechariah 8:14-19, NLT)

Lord Jesus, you are my foundation I build upon and anything else IS sinking sand. I have watched you tear down and demolish strongholds, and I know that nothing is impossible for you. The praise is yours. The glory is yours.

23 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:23, NLT)

And

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:25-26, NLT)

Grateful.

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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1 Chronicles 28; 2 Peter 2; Micah 5; Luke 14

David handed Solomon the plans–equipping him with information that would assist him in the task of building the temple. But it wasn’t just any task–it was a task singled out for Solomon.

God chose David to be a warrior and a leader. God chose Solomon to build the temple.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10, NLT.

In a season of changes, I think on what God has called me to do–and what a true privilege to serve the Lord (oh, that I would keep my perspective clear). That he knows my heart, my desires, my every thought–and he makes the same promise: if I seek him, he will be found by me. He is always present. He is always faithful.

First Chronicles 28 speaks of being chosen, of inheritance, of purpose. It speaks of legacy, of equipment, of heart. Whether the task is one of a king leading a nation or another leading a historical building project for the Lord God (or perhaps the quiet and lasting influence of a mother–building a house as the sanctuary)–be strong and do the work.

I speak this to myself: Be wholehearted. Be willing. Be strong and do the work. Seek the Lord.

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 18; James 5; Jonah 2; Luke 7

David fought battles, amassed wealth, and dedicated it to the Lord. Victory.

James warns the rich, whose bounty rots and testifies against them. Luxury or waste?

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (James 5:1-6, NLT)

I think long on legacy, on the generous hand versus the hand that withholds. The things stored up that moth and rust destroy. The excess that rots and corrodes. I’ve thought long on what remains.

A Christmas Carol  by Charles Dickens fast became a favorite story of mine last year when I read it with my kids. We later saw a live performance of it, where I nearly cried throughout the entire production, starting with the first words they spoke. And even last night, my youngest asked if I wanted to join her and watching it on television with her–and I did. Old Ebenezer was fortunate to be able to change the end of his story, but many aren’t.

Lord, I don’t want to waste my life by holding on too tightly to things. You are Provider.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 17-18, NLT)

I pray that I don’t fear or hoard, but that I understand and act upon a wealth of time, talent, treasure, and dedicate it to you. That is victory. Not in what is saved and left behind to rot, but what is given and lives on.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9, (NLT)

I’ve had time to ponder and understand a bit better what it means to live life poured out, after a year of emotional and physical exhaustion.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:41-50, NLT)

To know the Savior and know his love, to know he provides and cares for me, I can live open handed and not worry for lack–he holds my days, he directs my path. There is freedom in this.

Father God, no matter the day, let my praise always rise to you in thanks–in every circumstance. Thank you that you’re near to hear my prayers. Thank you for your love and forgiveness, your guidance and provision. You call me daughter, and I am held.

Courtney (66books365)

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