Tag Archives: Bible in a year

Job 12:13-16:10

I recently caught up with a friend who has been going through severe and mysterious health ailments. Tentatively she shared a detail, then another. I don’t have the full picture of what she’s been through these past months, but I recognized a holy privilege to be invited into any space of her journey. (Oh, the awe of holy ground. I do not want to mar it with an impulsive or incomplete response!) As I listened to her, I heard the natural bubble of her voice. She has always been joyful. And even in this, she waits with joy and patience and confidence.

“I have heard many things like these;
    you are miserable comforters, all of you!
Will your long-winded speeches never end?
    What ails you that you keep on arguing?
I also could speak like you,
    if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
    and shake my head at you.
But my mouth would encourage you;
    comfort from my lips would bring you relief
.” (Job 16:2-5, NIV, emphasis added)

I wonder if it is the deep lows in life that allow one to speak comfort to another. Empathy. Compassion. Sincerity.

I don’t know all that she’s experienced in this trial, but I know she still walks by faith on this dark path. She looks at me and shines her light. She is in the deep lows, and yet when our conversation was over, I felt hope, comfort, and relief because of her joy and confidence.

As I read through Job’s story, I think on his friends and their responses. They speak in judgment. They speak judgment of God. But God wasn’t penalizing or punishing Job–God called Job faithful. Maybe someone carries a heavy burden because of mistakes they’ve made, or from actions made by others. And maybe someone was appointed by God to carry a heavy burden, because God knew he could.

Lord, I hope I always remember the person’s heart who walks through heartache and trial. I pray that you would give me guidance how to comfort, encourage, or even to be still as I bear witness the journey. I pray that in my own walk, that you would send me support to encourage me for burdens I might carry. I give thanks for my friend, Lord, and your presence with us.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 5:17-8:22

My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle. They end without hope. O God, remember that my life is but a breath, and I will never again feel happiness. You see me now, but not for long. You will look for me, but I will be gone.” Job 7:6-8 NLT

I can learn a lot from Job’s vulnerability with his emotions towards the Lord. But, his hopelessness made him question God’s goodness. When has my view of God been so limited that I feel like His intentions towards me are not good? I know how easy it is to slip down into that despair.

What are people, that you should make so much of us, that you should think of us so often? For you examine us every morning and test us every moment. Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough for me to swallow! If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watched of humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you? Why not just forgive my sin and take away my guilt? For soon I will lie down in the dust and die. When you look for me, I will be gone.” Job 7:17-21 NLT

Job was sure that sin must have been the cause for his suffering. He was trying to figure out what didn’t make sense. Don’t I do the same thing when I say things like, “How could a good God let bad things happen?” I’ve come to realize that some things I will never understand this side of Heaven.

Does God twist justice? Does the Almighty twist what is right? Your children must have sinned against him, so their punishment was well deserved.” Job 9:3 NLT

It seems like Job knew deep down that he hadn’t sinned against God. He was going through such intense suffering that he was trying to figure out why God would ”pick on him.” His friends didn’t help, by making Job question himself. Which caused Job to question God’s heart. I am thankful for a God that can handle my doubts.

Dear Father, thank you that I can cry out to you when I don’t understand. Thank you that you are a God of justice, but your mercy triumphs over judgement. I pray that I would give Godly advice and wisdom that reflects your heart. You are a big God and Your ways are higher than mine. I pray that I would rest in your sovereignty. I trust You Lord, Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Nehemiah 8:9-11:21

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned away from God.

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. (Nehemiah 9:16-18, NIV, emphasis added)

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned to God.

32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. 33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. 35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.

36 But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. 37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress. (Nehemiah 9:32-37, NIV, emphasis added)

I sit with these scenarios. Sin. Choice. Slavery. In the first, wanting to return to it. In the second, slaves again. I read these words, just now, and know that I will sit with them throughout the day.

Lord, help me to keep a kingdom focus. Help me to guard my heart–to remember your goodness and all that you’ve done; to not become hardened or unwilling to serve you. While (kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors) made decisions that affected me, I am still and only responsible for my obedience to you. Help me to live in the free indeed found in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Nehemiah 6:1-8:8 

“So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.  When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”    Nehemiah 6:15-16

They were told all along that it could not be done.  The job was too big and the problems and obstacles that they faced were too large.   What was once thought impossible is now not only possible, but done in an astonishing fifty-two days!  The wall was completed in record time and all of the enemies of Nehemiah and all of the surrounding nations are left with nothing else to do but gaze upon Jerusalem in stunned disbelief.

There is no fanfare, no great ceremony, no ribbon cutting.  Only God could have accomplished this amazing task.   During the fifty-two day period of rebuilding the wall surrounding Jerusalem, Nehemiah demonstrated incredible leadership.  When his enemies were hurling insults, ridicule, threats, rumors, deceit and false reports, Nehemiah met this opposition with prayer, encouragement, bravery, and an amazing love and incredible heart for God, determined to do His will.  He stood firm when most would have given up, and now God gets the glory and praise that He is so worthy of.

What a tremendous example Nehemiah is.  The wall around Jerusalem is more than just a wall of defense and protection.  It is a monument to God’s amazing and unfailing love and a reminder of His faithfulness to do amazing, even impossible things, in the lives  of the people who love Him and obey Him.

Nehemiah encountered just about every form of opposition imaginable in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  Satan has thrown so many obstacles from his bag of tricks to cause him to stumble and fall.  He does this same thing in my own life today, only I find way too many times in my own experiences, unlike Nehemiah, it often ends up Satan succeeding and I fail.

But I also know that God does not desire for me to fail.  His desire is to accomplish great things with my life and in the process, continually transform my heart and my mind into the likeness His Son, while drawing me closer to Him each and every day.    Nehemiah allowed God to work in Him and through Him with the power of prayer and perseverance.  Every time he faced an obstacle or one of his enemies attempted to make him fail, He prayed prayers of praise and thanksgiving and made specific requests to God that were centered on God getting glory for the work He was doing in his life.  This is the type of prayer and perseverance that God desires from me in order for Him to use my life for His will.

O great God of all that was and is and is to come, what an incredible and awesome God you are!  Whenever I read stories like this in your word, my heart just bursts with praise and adoration for you!  You keep your beautiful covenant of love with your people all the time, without fail!  You get all the glory that you are so worthy of receiving through the lives of people who love you and obey you.  I humbly thank you for loving me and desiring to use me to accomplish your great and awesome deeds in my life and in eternity.

Lord, I confess to you my sins.  Far too often, I have acted foolishly and wickedly in the face of obstacles and temptations that have been placed in my path.  Far too frequently, I have failed the test of faithfulness and instead of taking those unique opportunities to pray to you and use them to honor and glorify you, I have failed and leaned on my own strength and the world’s wisdom, instead of turning to you.

O Lord, how foolish I have been to think that I could accomplish great things on my own when you have shown throughout history, that it is only through you that I am truly successful in anything.  But Lord, I thank you that you are a God of infinite grace!  Lord, I repent of these sins and I ask that you restore me to you and take this existence and do great and awesome things through me.  I can’t do it by myself.  My heart’s desire is that your success in me not be used for my own personal advantage, position or acclaim, but instead, I ask that you work out your purpose for my life so that you may get the credit and the glory and that others may marvel at what an awesome God you are!

I commit myself to you.  I will listen for your calling on my heart and I will pray earnestly for your success in my life.  Lord, be magnified and glorified in me!  Use me!  Let my joy be in understanding and knowing you! Redeem the time you have given me.  Make it fruitful. The only thing that truly brings my heart abounding joy and gladness is you.  The only thing that brings me peace is you.  The only thing I could ever be satisfied with is you.  The only one who makes my dreams pleasant is you.  You are the absolute delight of my heart and I cannot live without you.  If you are not the one orchestrating my life for your glory, then it is not worth living.

How awesome are your deeds. So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.  All the earth bows down to you.  They sing praise to you.  They sing praise to your name!

Love you!

John (johnd7264)

From the archives. Originally published June 7, 2009.

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Nehemiah 2-5

How do I resolve difficulties in my life? The American spirit I grew to believe in is one of rugged independence, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, charge over the ground where angels fear to tread and so on. I read way too many “Superman” comic books! So, it has taken me 30 years working for various supervisors whose leadership style ranged from uninvolved, permissive to micromanaging everyone into helplessness, before godly fear taught me to trust in submission. Nehemiah’s approach to his dilemmas is foundational to my understanding of godly submission and leadership, as illustrated with these words, “After fasting, confessing, and praying for mercy, Nehemiah was prepared to speak to the king who had authority to grant him an enormous favor.”

Likewise, whether I am approaching bosses, family, or friends for help, preparation begins on my knees. Next choosing when and how to approach is crucial. Nehemiah took advantage of his customary meeting with his king who then noticed Nehemiah’s sad face. Have you felt that society has become overly sensitive to emotional appeals for change? Frustration and even angry words may be tolerated, but sadness? Tears are viewed as manipulative, and you are likely to be told to take a leave of absence and seek therapy. (I am a counselor, so my working environment is especially sensitive to mood!) Nehemiah, too, was “dreadfully afraid’ that his king noticed his sadness but was undaunted by the enormity of his request to bring aid to his fellow Jews. Fortunately, Nehemiah’s trust in God and trustworthy reputation brought him favor. The king granted him all that he asked concerning supplies, safe passage, and authority, “according to the good hand of my God upon me,” said Nehemiah. (Nehemiah 2:8) Lesson to be learned: Show yourself as trustworthy.

Yet, am I as good a steward of what others have entrusted to me? How often have I set out to accomplish a goal without determining the time, energy, resources, and support I would expend? Benjamin Franklin is credited for saying, “The person who fails to plan, plans to fail.” I see that Nehemiah, the wise planner, also knew the value of preparation. Without telling anyone, he went out at night and surveyed the burnt walls and gates, planning and calculating the cost of rebuilding Jerusalem. After gathering his facts, Nehemiah was then ready to present his plan to the Jewish people, the stakeholders who had the most to gain from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

But one of the hardest lessons I am still learning is that any plan will be put through a “crucible” before completion. Why is it so hard to accept that my idea might not be the best [tongue in cheek!] or even desired by the very ones I want on board? Plans often experience opposition within and without. Nehemiah also had to address opposition from his enemies and uncertainty from his people. To them he declared this defense: “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore, we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

And the enemy just melted away…NOT! When the opposition saw that mocking and devaluing the workers did not stop the Jews from building, these same enemies conspired with others to physically attack. I have witnessed similar responses from family and friends of my clients. Unfortunately, the very ones who could be supportive sometimes become jealous or fearful of losing control when their loved one shows progress in recovery from addiction. The client’s motivation wanes and the fight against giving up becomes the focus. So, how can we get victory over physical, mental, and moral testing? How can we stay motivated to be on guard and prepared for defense? A good leader keeps reaching up in prayer, reaching out for support, and digging in to stay the course. Nehemiah’s people learned to remain vigil. “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. (Nehemiah 4:17,18)

So many times, we let our guard down and allow the enemy to come in and steal our dreams and challenge our goals, or disrupt progress, thereby shutting down our resolve. Having a righteous leader like Nehemiah who never gives up and never gives in is a blessing. Yet, God who dwells within us through His Holy Spirit has made available to all His people a storehouse of encouragement, wisdom, supplies, and support for rebuilding our lives. I love God’s answer to my wobbly resolve: ‘put on the whole armor of God, child.’

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance…” (Ephesians 6:14-18).

I do not need to stand alone like some DC Comics superhero; I am beloved and have the awesome Holy Spirit of my God each day, a host of saints, and a multitude of angels surrounding me. Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” And Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Jesus our Lord, let us plan and work together, and rejoice in Your victory over the challenges and dilemmas that we and those You love face. For if You are with us, who can stand against us?! There is no one like our God!

Janet

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