Tag Archives: Bible in a year reading plan

Psalms 12, 13, 14; John 8:28-59

They said … they declared … they replied … they retorted. An argument seems to be brewing here. And at the end, stones picked up to throw. I’m thinking to myself: must be religious leaders. Weren’t they always looking to stop him? I read it again a little more slowly, and these snippets stand out:

28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I Am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. 29 And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” 30 Then many who heard him say these things believed in him.

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:28-31 NLT

It was the believers. It was the believers who said, “What do you mean ‘You will be set free’?” They weren’t slaves, they insisted. But Jesus corrected:

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

Oh, it gets heated. They declare, they reply, they retort: Abraham is our father! God is our father!

“You say, ‘He is our God, 55 but you don’t even know him. I know him.” John 8:54b-55a.

Rocks aimed at yesterday’s adulterous woman. Aimed in today’s reading at Jesus. In my own heart, whose advice do I seek? Is there room in it for the Lord’s message? Are there rocks in my hands today–and who am I aiming at? Brother-sister-neighbor-adversary … perhaps the target is actually my Lord.

Lord, I grow closer to you when my heart is open. When truth confronts and stirs, I pray I would put down my rocks and turn to you. I am so grateful for your forgiveness and love, that you long to restore. I want to know you better and more each day. Help me to show the very same mercy you’ve shown me to others. I don’t want to throw rocks at anyone anymore.

Courtney (66books365)

 

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, John, New Testament

Genesis 46,47,48; Matthew 23:1-22

His language slaps and stings. Did they feel it? Would they see themselves in His words?

Blind guides, blind fools, hypocrites … what sorrow awaits.

These religious leaders, who shut the door to the Kingdom of Heaven so that neither they nor their students could enter. Making converts twice the child of hell they are. Burden stackers. Spotlight seekers. What sorrow awaits.

“Don’t follow their example,” Jesus tells the crowd and the disciples. He didn’t say their teaching was wrong; he was talking about their example.

I feel the sting. The contradiction of word and deed. It falls on me, conviction.

I tell my kids not to load up on junk, but when they leave the room  I sneak Hershey Kisses from the freezer. I tell my kids to treat each other the way they want to be treated, but I’m snapping at them as I do so. When I (internally) fault a “sister” for her lack of forgiveness, I see my own unforgiveness as I hold an offense against her.

Do I want to keep on like this? Candy sneaker, edgy mom, hypocrite?

Just yesterday, a friend and I talked and the question arose, “Wouldn’t you want a friend to point out if you were headed down a bad path? I know I would. But I don’t know anyone who would want to confront.”

There is a friend.

Jesus says, ” … for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.” Matthew 23:10b (NLT).

I am thankful for God’s Spirit in me, to help, to convict.

While it’s a little late in the year to make a resolution, it’s not too late for change. Jesus, be my teacher. Today. For real. Show me what needs to change and help me to do it. From what goes into my mouth to what comes out of it, Lord, I want to walk alongside you and learn from you for real change.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament

Genesis 23,24; Matthew 17

I think I’ve done it too. Like Abraham’s servant on a mission to find a wife for Isaac–he stood there before a well, talking to God, telling Him how it ought to go down … if this, and that, then this is how I will know “… I found huge delight at what followed:

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

Looking back in time, God’s hand becomes easier to see. But in the moment, I imagine the task Abraham’s servant faced. I sensed his uncertainty building, and his prayer touched me, because I’ve done similar: God, if this is what You want, make it clear to me! And to think that before my prayer is finished leaving my mouth, He’s already worked it out. Sometimes so I can recognize it, other times in ways that take me by surprise.

I wonder what Peter thought when Jesus told him to reach into the mouth of a fish and retrieve coins to pay the taxes! It should not have been any less astonishing were Peter told to ask a specific person for the coins, or to even find them on the ground … but Jesus takes it to the extraordinary. Jesus stretches Peter’s thinking (and mine).

Lord, I’m so grateful for all the ways you make yourself known–that I find you in ways I can recognize, and in ways I’d never imagine. I delight in seeing your hand active in history (and my life), how you stretch my imagination. Thank you for always being there.

Courtney (66books365)

Listening to: You Were There by Avalon.

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Matthew, Old Testament

Job 28,29; Matthew 13:1-30

I thought, “Surely …”

Job speaks. Tells of a life lived well, a reminiscing of the good old days. He lists his accomplishments long, reads like a promising resume, and how can you not think he’s a Good Guy? He had it all going for him. His testimony tells of honor and respect. He was counting on things; I hear it in his words, I thought, “Surely …” Job 29:18 (NLT).

Job loses family. He loses his livelihood–animals, crops. He loses the vapor-hope of expectation. He was counting on things to go a certain way, just not the way things went. The things he listed that formed his identity, gone.

When we moved into our house in August, areas of our yard were overgrown with weeds and vines. Parts were downright hostile, thorny, poisonous. Down on hands and knees, hours of days spent pulling and wrestling. A friend brought a truck and ripped and tugged at the landscape. Massive vines wrapped around trees, choking life, taking over. Poison ivy feigning lush life, camouflaging a secret, spoiling death. Brush fortresses an intimidating barrier to progress. Scripture bloomed literal meaning. Jesus talks about seeds and weeds–my hands ached, swollen from tedious tending. I saw how quickly something is overcome. Oh, the life metaphor!

Hanging out in Job and Matthew, I process the loss of my own expectations. I see how worries have choked life from me–at times, overwhelming. I went to the Lord often with grief and mourning, but how often did I seek him for wisdom and understanding?

When Jesus says, “Listen!” I pray, God, help me hear.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Job, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament

2 Kings 24; Heb. 6; Joel 3; Ps.143

The Message calls it parched land. Parched land that soaks up the rain. And I think of the Bible references to water, drinking of it and never going thirsty, being satisfied.

Some Christian song lyrics come to mind too, about blessings in raindrops/healing in tears, or Jesus bring the rain. Rain is a metaphor for hardship and trials.

Either meaning lends itself to this verse in Hebrews:

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. Hebrews 6:7 (NIV)

I think of this year and my own trials, and I recall thanks for words that filled me during a slow season to nourish in the crunch–oh, my fountains are in You. And I recall the trial that assaulted daily, and the struggle against being choked bitter by weeds and thorns.

It was in the business of daily business–a bud arose from this ground. It makes me wonder, perhaps the production of a useful crop is the blessing of God? Perhaps.

Father, I’m thankful for these years studying your word, sitting with you in quiet times, learning more about you, your character, your love.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

1Kings 17; Col. 4; Ezek.47; Ps.103

Wardrobe. Mailbox. Car. Favorite coffee mug. Front door. The things of my everyday a homeless person doesn’t have. I read of an account recently, a blogger in a restaurant who noticed a homeless couple at a table … their sign propped up nearby announcing their presence in the dining hall. He was disheveled, unbathed; she was too, quiet and grim. They sat at the table and waited, speechless. The blogger imagined the meager meal they might share. But to her surprise, the couple each received a large plate of steak and eggs.

My heart sang when I read the words. That meal, they ate like kings.

A friend once pointed out being touched by God’s provision in the pages of 1 Kings 17. Here is verse four:

“Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”

Last year our family participated on a team that made scripture cards for the homeless to go into pockets of donated coats at area shelters. I always wondered about the hands that would find love notes.

Psalm 103–an outpouring of praise to a great God.

1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

This homeless couple, did they know redemption? Did they feel lifted? Did they know they wore crowns that day?

Father, I praise you for the love you poor out on a hurting, broken world. I thank you for prompting a heart to feed a family so they could eat till their stomachs were full. Oh, God, that I would be attentive to your promptings in my day-t0-day, to treat someone royally and bless them in your name. You are the God who provides, and my soul praises you in awe and gratitude.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 1 Kings, 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament, Psalms