Tag Archives: 66 books in a year

Genesis 24; Matthew. 23; Nehemiah 13; Acts 23

Genesis prayer. A servant is tasked with a quest–to find a wife for Isaac. I am amused at his prayer for guidance, only because I see my own appeals to God to have things look the way I want them to so that I know I’m headed in the right direction. I love that his prayer was answered before he even finished praying. Lord, help me to see you in the solution and direction, even if it doesn’t look familiar or the way I imagined. (God hears me.)

12 “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. 13 See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. 14 This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”

15 Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. (Genesis 24:12-15, NLT, emphasis added)

Matthew conviction. Jesus confronts the Pharisees–who hold more to their rules for appearance than to obedience of heart. Dear God, help me to examine myself to be free of ways that offend you and to delight in that which you delight. (God shows me my errors to set me straight, because of his great love and mercy.)

Nehemiah purge and restore. Systems gone wrong. Identifying problems and setting things right again. My own focus on simplifying physically, and setting right emotionally–aligning my heart and abiding in Christ, clearing out physically and spiritually. Purge. Restore. (God gives me eyes to see and strength to change–to redirect or purge those things and actions that distract and lead astray. He gives me vision and strength.)

30 So I purged out everything foreign and assigned tasks to the priests and Levites, making certain that each knew his work. 31 I also made sure that the supply of wood for the altar and the first portions of the harvest were brought at the proper times.

Remember this in my favor, O my God. (Nehemiah 13:30-31, NLT)

Acts protection and purpose. Paul finds himself in the middle of a fight whose focus changes on a whim. His life is in danger. The Lord appears, encourages, protects him for a purpose. The Lord’s purpose will prevail. (I can find myself in a battle and in his will, and he will not abandon me. He sees me. He encourages me. He protects me. He provides.)

11 That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.” (Acts 23:11, NLT)

Thank you, God, that you hear my prayers and your answer paves a way ahead of me. You love me so much to warn me from traveling harmful paths and taking others with me (I set you as a seal upon my heart). You show me the corruption and error of old ways and that they can be purged and focus restored. You remind me that no matter the battle around me, I am kept by you, protected, valued, for a purpose and for your glory.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 17; Matthew 16; Nehemiah 6; Acts 16

I am part of an online goal setting group, and many of the members shared their vision boards for 2020. I’ve never made a vision board, but gave it a try. I laughed to myself when I finished, realizing I had experienced most of those things in 2019. Some things that happened last year were not even thoughts at the year’s start–but I had margin, not so tightly focused on my own goals exclusive to opportunity. And God did life-giving things in my life. Not everything felt easy, beautiful or lovely, but even then, he kept drawing my attention back to a Kingdom focus.

In Genesis, God gives Abraham a Kingdom focus.

“This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!

“I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:4-8, NLT)

And this:

15 Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”

17 Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” 18 So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” (Genesis 17:15-18, NLT)

I notice Abraham laughed in disbelief. He can’t imagine God will do what he says he’ll do. So Abraham interjects with what he knows, what he sees, what is real in front of him: Ishmael. Kingdom focus clashes with a limited view/belief. 19 But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 17:19, NLT)

God requires Abraham’s obedience.

I see Kingdom focus and obedience throughout the reading: when Jesus predicts his death and warns of the yeast of the Pharisees; Peter acknowledges Jesus as Son and yet reprimands Jesus for a fate Peter doesn’t want to happen (Kingdom focus clashes with own desire); threats to hinder a wall’s completion and a Kingdom focus to persevere–They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination (Nehemiah 6:9, NLT); Paul’s travels blocked and redirected by the Holy Spirit, and even though he is imprisoned, he is still fruitful in sharing the Gospel.

Opposition (Nehemiah), a death sentence (Matthew), imprisonment (Acts), fathering a child in old age (Genesis) were probably not items these men would have put on their vision boards, but God gives them a Kingdom vision and the means to accomplish their tasks, even in opposition, death, imprisonment, and old age.

13 They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me. 14 Remember, O my God, all the evil things that Tobiah and Sanballat have done. And remember Noadiah the prophet and all the prophets like her who have tried to intimidate me. 15 So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6:13-16, NLT)

Father God, help me to press on, to leave margin for your plans and purpose in my life. Thank you already for equipping me and encouraging to keep a Kingdom focus, even in difficulties, especially in difficulties. Oh that anyone would see your hand and blessing upon my life and realize (this work) had been done with the help of God.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 9,10; Matthew 9; Ezra 9; Acts 9

Not everyone goes to a doctor when they’re sick. Sometimes, they wait for illness to pass on its own. Sometimes they mask symptoms with temporary remedies just so they can get through the day or night. Sometimes they become so accustomed to the pain and discomfort that it becomes the new normal, and they don’t realize how bad off they are.

Jesus performs a lot of miracles in Matthew 9. He first forgives a paralyzed man for his sins–for which the watching teachers scoff. So Jesus tells the man to stand, take his mat and go (he does). Another man asks Jesus to come to his house because his daughter just died. On the way, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years reaches out to be healed, and is healed. (The dead daughter is raised again.) Two blind men encounter Jesus and their sight is restored. Jesus heals the sick.

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13, NLT)

Sick people go to a doctor to get well, not to stay sick. These examples are of sick people (paralyzed, bleeding, dead, blind) who are healed. An encounter with Jesus is life changing.

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17, NLT)

I sit at this table this morning with these words. They are rich and full. Readings from four different books covering sin, legacy, life change, faith, prayer, transformation.

If he wanted me to stay just as I was, he need not have come. I might have waited for my affliction to pass, or continued to treat it myself, or worst of all–lived life oblivious of my infirmity and just accepted it as part of me.

Thank you, Lord, for all your miracles, not only to heal physically, but to transform spiritually. You love us so much. This wine in new wineskins so that both are preserved. You are so good.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 2; Matthew 2; Ezra 2; Acts 2

He created heavens and earth, breathed life into man, provided food. (He cares for man, creating animals and a helper just right for him.) The Lord warned man:

15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:15-17, NLT, emphasis added.)

Wise men traveled to worship Jesus and met with Herod on the way. They are warned in dreams to take a different route home. Joseph is warned too.

12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. 13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matthew 2:12-13, NLT, emphasis added.)

A sound from heaven like the roar of a mighty windstorm filled a space and equipped the believers with new ability. It is the Holy Spirit.

And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. (Acts 2:4, NLT, emphasis added.)

God reaches to communicate with us–and this is relationship: the reaching back.

63 The governor told them not to eat the priests’ share of food from the sacrifices until a priest could consult the Lord about the matter by using the Urim and Thummim—the sacred lots. (Ezra 2:63, NLT, emphasis added.)

Lord, your word shows me glimpses of your heart and what you value. You care for your creation and dazzle with variety and beauty, you provide great provision. You equip those you call. You desire relationship, inviting me in your word to engage with you and seek you. You promise you are near to those who call on you. You give me hints of a kingdom I can’t see, reaching supernaturally into dreams, by signs and wonders here in places I can see. Help me to hear. Help me to see. Help me to know you better.

Courtney (66books365)

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Thank you!

Thank you for journeying through the Bible with us in 2019.

We’ll be back here tomorrow, ready to start again.

Will you join us?

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Revelation 15-18

What does Christmas feel like? Our regular radio station played Christmas music almost every day in December. We drove down streets with houses festooned in colorful, blinking lights and displays. Our house had its tree decorated and lit; shimmering red ribbons curled and placed across a mantel; snowflakes and ornaments dripped from light fixtures and windows. I tried to recreate my favorite childhood memories of the season–purchasing boxes of chocolate covered cherries, baking a Christmas morning warm cinnamon pastry, playing music throughout the house to signal the celebration of the new day.

Despite the outward display, though, sometimes it doesn’t feel like Christmas. So, what does Christmas feel like?

In Revelation, End Times approach and there’s no escaping it. From my vantage point, I read of what will happen, and wonder: then and there, would it feel like End Times?

So the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl on the earth, and horrible, malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. (Revelation 16:2, NLT)

The first of the seven bowls of God’s wrath are poured out. I noted by the fourth bowl, a first mention: They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory. (Revelation 16:9b, NLT)

What will End Times feel like? And would one know when the time is upon him?

15 “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15, NLT)

So much in the Bible requires further explanation by the speaker. Revelation describes a future yet to take place, people yet to be born, and items yet to be made.

“Why are you so amazed?” the angel asked. “I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits …” (Revelation 17:7, NLT, emphasis added)

Back-to-school morphs into packages of candy in October, sharing shelf space with Thanksgiving and Christmas–a blending blur of season. Christmas seems out of place in October, and yet, its date is fixed and arrival certain–whether it feels like it or not.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 38-39; Psalm 149

In his challenge to Job, the Lord’s abilities stir a cheer from my heart. As he lists what only he can do, I feel peace. I feel joy. I trust him.

31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars—
    binding the cluster of the Pleiades
    or loosening the cords of Orion?
32 Can you direct the constellations through the seasons
    or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?
33 Do you know the laws of the universe?
    Can you use them to regulate the earth? (Job 38:31-33, NLT)

I sit for this time and remember how he has orchestrated uncanny details in my life–a phone battery strong and unaffected after more than three hours of GPS (when its energy is generally sapped by a few podcasts and a Map My Run excursion); a captain’s bell buried deep underneath clematis vines; an encounter with a woman recovering from stroke, whose ability to speak was unhampered long enough for her to encourage me in a battle she was witnessing unfold that I was unaware of; a dear dog named Ruth who really and truly was an answer to my heart’s desire. I can go on and on.

I seek him and I find him. I trust him. I praise him.

Praise the Lord!

Sing to the Lord a new song.
    Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.

O Israel, rejoice in your Maker.
    O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King.
Praise his name with dancing,
    accompanied by tambourine and harp.
For the Lord delights in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them.
    Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds. (Psalm 149:2-5, NLT)

I am humbled by his accomplishments–the universal, the mundane.

Lord, every year as I pass through your Word, I learn more about you, and more about myself. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT)” Thank you, God, that you love me so much to provide guidance and instruction for my good and your glory. Your Word is light and truth and hope. “For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. (Romans 15:4, NIV)” Thank you, God, for words that give hope and encouragement in times that require endurance. You are life-giving, strength and stamina. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, NIV)” You spell it all out and present it for the taking, generously, freely, and it is a feast for my heart and soul.

Courtney (66books365)

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