Tag Archives: #66_books

Thank You–and Here’s to a New Year!

Thank you for reading the Bible with us in 2016. But it doesn’t have to stop here.

We’ll return January 1, 2017, with a new plan and an old favorite–the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan. It’s two Old Testament and two New Testament readings daily. Check out the plan for yourself, grab a few bookmarks and join us. We saved you a seat.

See you Sunday!

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

1 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 42; Romans 8

4King Solomon went to Gibeon to offer a sacrifice. He went there because it was the most important place of worship. He offered 1,000 burnt offerings on that altar. 5While he was at Gibeon, the Lord came to him in a dream during the night. God said, “Ask for anything you want. I will give it to you.”

6Solomon answered, “You were very kind to your servant, my father David. He obeyed you. He was honest and lived right. And you showed great kindness to him when you allowed his son to be king after him. 7Lord my God, you have allowed me to be king in my father’s place. But I am like a little child. I do not have the wisdom I need to do what I must do. 8I, your servant, am here among your chosen people. There are too many of them to count. 9So I ask that you give me wisdom. Then I can rule the people in the right way. Then I will know the difference between right and wrong. Without wisdom, it is impossible to rule this great people of yours.” 1 Kings 3:4-8  (2 Chronicles 1:7-10) (ICB)

If God had come to me like He came to Solomon and said, “Ask for anything you want. I will give it to you.” I’m not sure what I would have said. Having read these accounts, I would know to ask for wisdom and understanding, but I also have a list of wants and (in my mind) needs – I want a cosponsor for my husband to be able to come to US and our family be reunited; I want greater financial stability; I want to live in a nicer, more spacious house with a fenced in yard in an awesome community of friends; I want an iPhone that actually works correctly, I want…I want…I want….

I suppose the reality is that asking for wisdom and understanding would make a way for gaining the solutions to my wants list. But I wonder if my fallen nature would think immediately to the bullet points on the list rather than the all encompassing wisdom.

In the midst of a lot of lingering unknowns in my life right now, I struggle every day with the desire to have answers to all of the uncertainty. If someone asks me what my plans are, what I want, I can list out all the things I think “should” be happening; but are my “wants” lined up with what God knows is best for my, for my family, not to mention His timing. I don’t know.

He knows the big picture, the eternal. I can only see my little moment of that eternity. But in my weakness, when it seems like nothing is going as I hoped, it is frustrating.

26Also, the Spirit helps us. We are very weak, but the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us. The Spirit speaks to God with deep feelings that words cannot explain. 27God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way that God wants. Romans 8:26-27 (ICB)

When Solomon asked for wisdom, God was pleased, because Solomon trusted God. God saw that Solomon was looking to God, not to riches or power, and so God, in turn, gave Him everything. It’s so important for me to press in and really trust God, trust His wisdom, His timing, His provision. It’s important for me to trust His goodness as my Father, no matter if I have the answers, the understanding, the wisdom, or not.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your Spirit. Strengthen me, in my weakness. He me better understand Your ways. See my heart and make it wise because I turn to You. Check my spirit when I look to my own understanding, so I can put my focus back on You. In Jesus name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie

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Filed under 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Romans

2 Samuel 9-10; 1 Chronicles 18-19; Psalm 89; Acts 26

12One time the leading priests gave me permission and the power to go to Damascus. 13On the way there, at noon, I saw a light from heaven. The light was brighter than the sun. It flashed all around me and the men who were traveling with me. 14We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice speaking to me in the Jewish language. The voice said, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you doing things against me? You are only hurting yourself by fighting me.’ 15I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus. I am the One you are trying to hurt. 16Stand up! I have chosen you to be my servant. You will be my witness—you will tell people the things that you have seen and the things that I will show you. This is why I have come to you today. 17I will not let your own people hurt you. And I will keep you safe from the non-Jewish people too. These are the people I am sending you to. 18I send you to open their eyes that they may turn away from darkness to the light. I send you that they may turn away from the power of Satan and turn to God. Then their sins can be forgiven and they can have a place with those people who have been made holy by believing in me.’

19“King Agrippa, after I had this vision from heaven, I obeyed it. 20I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God. I told them to do things to show that they really had changed. I told this first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and in every part of Judea, and also to the non-Jewish people. 21This is why the Jews took me and were trying to kill me in the Temple. 22But God helped me and is still helping me today. With God’s help I am standing here today and telling all people what I have seen. But I am saying nothing new. I am saying what Moses and the prophets said would happen. 23They said that the Christ would die and be the first to rise from death. They said that the Christ would bring light to the Jewish and non-Jewish people.” Acts 26: 12-23 (ICB)

Paul’s testimony is one of the most famous conversion stories in the Christian faith and literally a case laid out in his own defense to Agrippa.

This is who I was…this is what God did in my life…this is who I am today…

Sharing the testimonies of my life isn’t about attention seeking or getting in my fifteen minutes of fame. Testimonies are about giving glory to God for the ways He moves in my life. Testimonies are stories of encouragement; me sharing about the struggles I have faced and how God is bringing me through. They are stories of miracles. They are stories of awe and worship, a reminder of God’s goodness and why He is worth of praise.

From beginning to end, the Bible is chock-full of the testimonies of men and women who were chosen and raised up by God to accomplish great things in His Kingdom – Moses, Noah, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, John, Peter, Paul, and of course Jesus, to name small handful.

1I will always sing about the Lord’s love.

I will tell of his loyalty from now on.

2I will say, “Your love continues forever.

Your loyalty goes on and on like the sky.” Psalm 89:1-2 (ICB)

And, David wrote song after song in praise of God, sharing testimonies of his journey from a young man slaying a giant to battle after battle won as a victory of the Lord.

The Bible reminds me that God will never leave me nor forsake me, but when I have moments of weakness, I sometimes forget that truth, and instead, listen to the lies of the enemy. Then I hear someone’s story of what God did for them, or I recognize through my own fog that He has done something surprising for me. A testimony is shared and I once more hold onto the truth that God is good and greatly to be praised, my countenance is lifted, and hope returns to my heart.

Yesappa, Thank You for making me a part of your story, for giving me testimonies to share as encouragement to myself and for others. May my life demonstrate Your goodness, Your love, Your provision, Your sacrifice to those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Psalm 119:49-104; 1Corinthians 4

Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his master. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. 1Corinthians 4:1-4.

 

It’s my good fortune to be getting ready to visit Normandy. I have been reading and watching movies about D Day (The Longest Day, Band of Brothers). It’s had me thinking about leadership. Who would I want to follow under fire, onto one of those beaches? What kind of men instilled the confidence of their troops to scale those cliffs? What did it take for those troops to not hunker down in fear, but to move forward to take those beaches?

I would want to follow a leader who was 100% committed to the cause, yet had studied the battlefield, knew something about the enemy, and had a good idea of how to accomplish what needed to be done. Someone who is leading for personal glory wouldn’t last five minutes when the bullets start to fly. I wouldn’t need my commanding officer to be my best friend, but I would want to trust that he cared deeply about my welfare and wouldn’t ask me to do anything that wasn’t necessary.

It’s not so different with the church. Paul gave clear instructions to the Corinthians about the characteristics of those we should follow:

  • Leaders are humble servants that remain true to their Master, Jesus.
  • Solid leadership isn’t dependent upon popular opinion.
  • Skilled leaders demonstrate a commitment to knowing and living and the truth.
  • Good leaders don’t thrive at the expense of those who follow.
  • A true leader doesn’t give up when facing opposition. Sometimes things get messy and people get hurt.

At the same time, Paul understands the pain of not being followed well. Being led is a responsibility in itself before God. Do I ask more from my leaders than I do of myself?  Am I following only those instructions that I want to hear? Am I complaining and critical of my leaders instead of being intent on serving God? Whether God asks me to lead or follow (they are both important), it is to Him that I ultimately accountable.

The sacrifices made on the beaches of Normandy were awe inspiring. Our soldiers were willing to lead and follow no matter sat the expense of their lives. Am I willing to humble myself and do what God is calling me to today, regardless of the cost? I pray that God gives me the grace to follow him humbly and wholeheartedly, be it as a leader or follower in his church.

klueh

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Psalms 103-104; Romans 14

Some international friends wanted to see a classic American movie, so one Friday night my husband and I bought pizza and soda and had our friends over for dinner and a movie. Our choice was To Kill a Mocking Bird, starring Gregory Peck. We gave them an historical overview of the movie’s era, described the issues facing our nation, lowered the lights and began the movie.

We got to the poignant courtroom scene when the falsely accused African American, Tom Robinson tearfully and vehemently denied having violated a white woman. Our friends were at the edge of their seats when one of them burst out laughing. No one said a thing. My brain went right to its default judgement mode. Was something lost in translation or was our friend just plain weird? Who knew? Did it really matter? What was important was that God had brought these folks into my home for me to care for them, not to judge them. Looking at the situation through that lens helped push those crippling judgmental thoughts aside.

It’s just as important that I lose that judgmental attitude with fellow believers. Paul calls me to a life in community that isn’t defined by the narrow confines of my opinions. It’s an extraordinary thing when a group of people choose to honor and submit to one another out of their love for God. Judging others provides a facade of superiority and keeps me from drawing closer to others and God. I like what Paul’s has to say to believers:

It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.  So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly–or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgement, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture…” Romans 14:7-11. The Message.

Lord, Forgive me when I have been self-serving and deceived about my own importance as your follower. Teach me how to love and serve my brothers and sisters as you have loved them. Let me grab hold and live the vision of  bowing down before you, side by side with my brothers and sisters.  Amen.

klueh

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Filed under Bible in a year reading plan, Romans

Deuteronomy 1-2; Mark 11:1-19

A mountain and a valley and a battle.

Deuteronomy’s scriptures are very personal to me. Whenever I read them, I time travel to that place of clover and big sky. It was summer and my house was filled with boxes and disarray. We were packing to move, and at the time, I wasn’t even sure where we were going. An enemy’s taunting finger poke was soon like a battering ram knocking against the very foundation that held me up. It was oppressive (thick, smothering, suffocating, weighty).

“When we were at Mount Sinai, the Lord our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the neighboring regions—the Jordan Valley, the hill country, the western foothills, the Negev, and the coastal plain. Go to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, and all the way to the great Euphrates River. Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.’” Deuteronomy 1:6-8 NLT (emphasis mine).

They must have felt fear. Many times, the Lord had to tell them not to be afraid. It’s easy to read over Bible stories and fail to connect to the situation, but I know how fear feels, how it weakens and weights. I know what it’s like to move, and not know what home will look like.

30 The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. 31 And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’ Deuteronomy 1:30-31 NLT.

I know what it’s like to trust God, and then feel uncertain. Oh, there was a battle, and I found myself in the thick of it. Even years later and his faithfulness my home, I look back at that mountain and that journey. The Israelites needed reminding of God’s provision and faithfulness. I remind myself too.

Jesus would walk a road to a destination that his disciples didn’t imagine. He entered Jerusalem to the cries of an expectant crowd.

Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God!
    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!
    Praise God in highest heaven!”

11 So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples. Mark 11:8-11 NLT.

He was also part of a battle. The Israelites fought forces in their midst–and the Lord delivered them. Jesus was the the target of both earthly and spiritual attacks–so that he could deliver us.

(Praise God in the highest heaven!)

Every battle looks different, but the enemy is the same.

Jesus came to give life (freedom, hope, salvation, comfort, forgiveness, healing, power, example, victory). God fights for us still.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

1Chronicles 24, 25; 1Peter 5; Micah 3; Luke 12

I picked service as my one word focus this year. (Anyone else do a one word?)

Today’s reading flashes it like Christmas lights set on blink.

Service. Service. Service.

This is how Aaron’s descendants, the priests, were divided into groups for service 31 Like the descendants of Aaron, they were assigned to their duties by means of sacred lots, without regard to age or rank. 1 Chronicles 24:1a and 31 NLT

The musicians were appointed to their term of service by means of sacred lots, without regard to whether they were young or old, teacher or student. 1 Chronicles 25:8 NLT.

I learned a lot about service as this year progressed. About my heart behind it. About my expectations from it. About how hard it is when you don’t particularly like the circumstance or person you’re serving. What I hoped would be a year of good-doing revealed a warped focus wrapped in pride.

I had to regroup. God has wired me a certain way. He has a job for me, without regard to my age or experience. He gives me opportunity to care for the flock around me–extended family, neighbors, other moms, and certainly the people under this roof. Service is not always convenient. Or pretty. Or at times, in my case, willing.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example … And all of you, serve each other in humility, for

“God opposes the proud
    but favors the humble.”

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 1 Peter 5:2-3, 5b NLT.

It is easier to care for the people I love and who love me back. But this year, I’m learning to serve even the ones who don’t love back. I’m sure there are other families facing the strain of difficult relationships. And they will understand the dragging feet of grudging and the knotted stomach of stress.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT.

This year, though, I’m standing firm and being strong. I’m fixing a table up and stoking the fire in the fireplace. I’m putting together a menu I love, for a holiday I enjoy and a concept I treasure; and serving a God I adore, as if he himself were seated at my table. I cannot control the responses and actions of others–and God doesn’t require it of me. He asks me to humble myself and serve him, the way he has me wired, regardless of my age or experience. (Julie once shared a definition of service as worship; this sticks with me.) And really, there is no burden in that.

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. Luke 12:35-36 NLT.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament