Tag Archives: 66 books in a year

Exodus 37; John 16; Proverbs 13; Ephesians 6

When Bezalel fashioned the hammered gold with his fingertips, it was holy work. The golden rings, the cherubim, the almond blossoms, the incense altar–his work for the Lord is not forgotten.

29 Then he made the sacred anointing oil and the fragrant incense, using the techniques of a skilled incense maker. (Exodus 37:29, NLT)

God gives these talents. He gives purpose. He gives provision. It is for his glory. Holy work.

He supplies the armor, and it serves a purpose and is made of this–truth; His righteousness; peace of the Gospel; faith; salvation; His Word. It is up to me to take up this armor and use it. He shows me my real enemy–all else is just distraction to take my eyes off a target, to become lost and ineffective.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18, NLT)

Holy work.

20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. (Ephesians 6:20, NLT)

In chains. Enslaved. It’s not a circumstance or a title–it’s about kingdom and calling. One body, many parts, and all essential.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. (Ephesians 6:5-9, NLT)

I return to the Lord’s feet again and again. I listen closely as he tells the disciples, and they don’t fully understand, and I take notes because I forget and get distracted–he’s speaking.

22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (John 16:22, NLT)

What is that joy? Is it not truth? The truth of his being and presence and promise.

31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31-33, NLT)

Lord, you are my rock. I can stand firm upon your word–it’s truth. Help me to keep a kingdom focus, to love you and serve you with all my heart. To walk into the tasks you have prepared for me. To rest in the truth and assurance of your promises. Thank you for loving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 30; John 9; Proverbs 6; Galatians 5

I read of the ransom in Exodus. Every man was required at census to pay a ransom to purify his life and to make himself right with the Lord. It didn’t matter if he was a rich man or a poor man. There was a cost each one paid.

14 All who have reached their twentieth birthday must give this sacred offering to the Lord. 15 When this offering is given to the Lord to purify your lives, making you right with him, the rich must not give more than the specified amount, and the poor must not give less. 16 Receive this ransom money from the Israelites, and use it for the care of the Tabernacle. It will bring the Israelites to the Lord’s attention, and it will purify your lives.” (Exodus 30:14-16, NLT)

Because of Christ, my ransom has been paid. The penalty of sin is death, and he suffered that death for my sins. Oh, he has brought me to the Father’s attention, and the indwelling Holy Spirit will purify my life. This is Christ’s love.

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:24-26, NLT)

The blind man from birth did not know that his whole life would change when he met Jesus, that the years leading to that point served a purpose, and that in one moment, he would be the subject of change that would glorify God (to this very day).

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:3-5, NLT)

People who had known him as a blind beggar weren’t even sure he was the same person. (His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” John 9:8-9, NLT.) And others still, whose hearts were hard and unteachable, refused to acknowledge the truth.

39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”

41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” (John 9:39-41, NLT)

Every morning when I run, I keep my eyes on the road in front of me to watch for rocks and branches that could trip me up. So much more, now, Lord, I watch the path.

But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! 10 I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you. (Galatians 5:5-10, NLT)

Lord, help me to take inventory of my heart. Help me to live by the power of your Spirit. When troubles come, they reveal where I’ve put my faith, what I’ve prioritized. You have called me to freedom. Let me walk in it.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 16; Luke 19; Job 34; 2 Corinthians 4

It’s a very old saying: Enough is as good as a feast. I think on God’s provision for the Israelites as they wandered with Moses in the desert. They longed for what they held as abundance in slavery, but God had something else to show them–who He is.

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. 14 When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. 15 The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was.

And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat. 16 These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.”

17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. 18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. (Exodus 16:11-18, NLT, emphasis added.)

And in the very next paragraph, Moses tells them not to keep any manna overnight. But some don’t listen, and they wake to find their spoils spoiled, rancid and maggot infested. What good is abundance gone to waste? This spoiling is a physical manifestation of a hidden heart issue–and there are many. A lack of trust. Fear. Greed. Insecurity. Pride. Unbelief. Control.

Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector and notorious sinner, was a very rich man. When Jesus comes to his house and Zacchaeus is face to face with him, he is a changed man.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” (Luke 19:8, NLT, emphasis added)

Next in the reading is the parable of the ten servants, each given something to steward in the master’s absence. Jesus tells this story to the masses who had gathered to hear him speak, to correct their impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. I think of this parable often as I consider what the Lord has given me to steward. I wrestle.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT)

For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Dear God, thank you that you provide for me, and it is always enough. Thank you that in your word, it’s mentioned that the manna tasted like honey wafers, and it tells me that you delight in pleasure and share that delight with your people. Thank you for reminders to steward what you have given me well, and that abundance unused is waste–not only food in the fridge that goes bad, but clothes folded but rarely warn, books owned but unread, pots in a shed unused season after season. Thank you for the reminder that what is here doesn’t come with me to heaven and will one day be gone. But mostly, thank you for keeping your Kingdom focus in front of me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 10; Luke 13; Job 28; I Corinthians 14

What is in front of me–a stubborn leader, a swarm of locusts, a thick darkness. What the Lord reveals:

“I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can display my miraculous signs among them. I’ve also done it so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and about the signs I displayed among them—and so you will know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 10:1b-2, NLT, emphasis added)

He has a reason for the resistance. (Display, display, know–He shows so I know. Father God, give me a Kingdom focus.)

A group of believers is murdered. A tower falls taking lives with it. A leafy tree looks healthy but is fruitless. A woman is afflicted 18 years, held in bondage by Satan.

“Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” (Luke 13:2-4, NLT)

Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’

“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:7-9, NLT)

24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’ (Luke 13:24-27, NLT)

He has a message, a warning. Tragedy strikes any time–prepare your heart. Perhaps success (or failure) isn’t so much what others see, but the fruit of what we leave behind. Evil separates.

Panning for gold, smelting metals, seekers looking to the ground sifting dust for treasure and missing real riches. Look up. Look around.

23 “God alone understands the way to wisdom;
    he knows where it can be found,
24 for he looks throughout the whole earth
    and sees everything under the heavens.
25 He decided how hard the winds should blow
    and how much rain should fall.
26 He made the laws for the rain
    and laid out a path for the lightning.
27 Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it.
    He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.
28 And this is what he says to all humanity:
The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
    to forsake evil is real understanding
.’” (Job 28:23-28, NLT)

Lord, I set aside the rush of the day to sit with your word. Help me to see your kingdom at hand and to honor you in my thoughts and actions.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 3; Luke 6; Job 20; I Corinthians 7

Moses is out tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He sees something out of the ordinary: a burning bush. He approaches it, curious. His whole life is about to change. (God gives vision and mission.)

Jesus is healing people. Some people come to him because they need his help. Some people stand back waiting to find fault and accuse. Jesus chooses his disciples, and gives them practical advice on how to live well, how to live with a Kingdom focus. (He gives direction/purpose.)

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:46-49, NLT)

Job’s friend Zophar goes deep into discussion about the brevity of life–a wicked man’s short-lived pleasures and a just God’s eternal reward. (God is sovereign.)

Paul speaks to marrieds and singles. He speaks to everyone about their current station and serving God where they are, as they are, doing work and influencing in the place they are. Paul encourages to remember the point:

29 But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. 30 Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. 31 Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.

32 I want you to be free from the concerns of this life … 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. (1 Corinthians 7:29-32a, 35, NLT)

God speaks to Moses with a vision and a mission. Jesus chooses his disciples and equips them with truth that lasts–he doesn’t leave them to flounder and wonder; he’s specific and practical and challenges worldly thinking. While I have a hard time overall with Job’s friends’ conclusions on how life works, God is sovereign and He is just–I can put the trust of consequences fully in His hands with peace that His will will be done.

Lord, don’t let me complicate life. Help me to keep a Kingdom focus. I trust you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 46; Mark 16; Job 12; Romans 16

I was sick for a week in January. The next week, I tried to resume my regular running schedule with a new brand of shoes, and I developed shin splints within days. Benched from my run, I used that time to heal and to track down a pair of my discontinued favorite shoes. Then last week, I had two wisdom teeth extracted, and I’ve been waiting for the pain to subside to go back to my run. It’s been a month since I logged any consistent miles.

My daughter and I talked about intentions and discernment. I used the example of running–that I can want to be a runner, but I’m not a runner if I don’t run. Maybe that example lends itself to other areas–to be hospitable, generous, helpful one must offer hospitality, generosity, help–otherwise can he claim to be those things? Isn’t a man what he repeatedly does?

Paul lists the names of people he has remembered for their actions:

Phoebe, she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.

Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home.

Mary, who has worked so hard for your benefit.

Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did. (He mentions dear friends and coworkers for Christ.)

Apelles, a good man whom Christ approves. Tryphena and Tryphosa, the Lord’s workers, and dear Persis, who has worked so hard for the Lord. Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and his dear mother, who has been a mother to me. (Romans 16:1-13, NLT, excerpts for space)

In Genesis, Jacob journeys to Egypt with his entire family. The scriptures list his sons and their children, and I am impressed with the multi-generational potential and impact of actions and attitudes. Jacob is moving his family line for a time to Egypt (where he will die).

Oh, Lord, the power of example is not lost on me, and I’m thankful to know men and women who love you and work hard for you–they inspire me and encourage me. Help me to get honest with my heart about my own thoughts and actions, and where they lead.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 39; Mark 9; Job 5; Romans 9

Joseph, whose immaturity and lack of tact got him into further trouble with his older brothers, is sold to Ishmaelite traders, and finds himself serving Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. Joseph has lost his freedom, but yet because God is with him, he still succeeds (even when it seems like he continues under trial). God goes with him through this all, and it is evident to those who stand witness.

20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. 22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. (Genesis 39:20-23, NLT)

A man’s son suffers from violent seizures. He brings the child to Jesus for healing when the disciples were unable to do it.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:21-24, NLT)

The disciples argue about which of them is greatest among them, and Jesus shuts it down.

35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-37, NLT)

Joseph’s immaturity and lack of tact got him into deeper trouble with jealous brothers. But still, God used Joseph, grew Joseph, and equipped Joseph for a greater purpose than just a kid brother getting sold out by his family. A child is victim to convulsions and seizures, powerless himself to something bigger than him and those around him. But Jesus, in his strength, authority and power is able–oh, he is able, to do great things.

When Jesus calls another little child into the group as an object lesson, I think on this child. Children are immature. Inexperienced in life. Naive, perhaps. Impulsive. Not all children operate from a moral high ground–not even adults have mastered this. Kids are kinda cute, and it’s likely easier to welcome a child in Sunday school into the fold–but what if it’s the kid in the neighborhood no one likes, or the kid in the classroom that causes constant trouble, or the kid acting like a bully? An adult can be equally unlovely, immature, inexperienced, impulsive, unkind.

Certainly there are circumstances the disciples wanted to shun people, where Jesus stopped and took time.

49 “For everyone will be tested with fire. 50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.” Mark 9:49-50, NLT)

Oh, Lord. Don’t let me lose my salt. Thank you for giving me a Kingdom focus. Thank you for your reminder that we are all tested with fire. Thank you for showing me that you go with me in difficult places, and that you show mercy on those you choose. Thank you for showing me that even while the disciples followed you and loved you, they still messed things up and turned people away. Oh, Lord. Don’t let me lose my salt.

Courtney (66books365)

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