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2 Kings 22; Hebrews 4; Joel 1; Psalms 140, 141

Grief. Repentance. Punishment. Oppression. Justice. Persecution. Calamity. Destruction.

15 The day of the Lord is near,
    the day when destruction comes from the Almighty.
    How terrible that day will be! Joel 1:15, NLT

Where enemies are plotting, evil, wicked, vipers.

O Lord, rescue me from evil people.
    Protect me from those who are violent,
those who plot evil in their hearts
    and stir up trouble all day long.
Their tongues sting like a snake;
    the venom of a viper drips from their lips. Psalm 140:1-3, NLT

And choices are made to obey or not.

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. 2 Kings 22:2, NLT.

It’s all there in the scriptures.

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:13, NLT

And in it too, refining fire.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12, NLT.

Let the godly strike me!
    It will be a kindness!
If they correct me, it is soothing medicine.
    Don’t let me refuse it. Psalm 141:5, NLT

 

Rest.

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. Hebrews 4:6-11, NLT.

We just returned from a weekend wedding in Massachusetts. For a sweet, short time, I played with my kids, ventured down water slides, walked through the woods, celebrated life and love, feasted. When I returned home, all the things I have still to do were waiting. But something in me was changed, when I needed it most.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT.

Lord, didn’t I meet you on the mountains? Every flaming autumn leaf, the carpet of pine needles, the way the wind rippled the waters and lifted my hair in playful dance. Didn’t you touch my heart in the aisle, as I sat by my husband and witnessed marriage vows, you spoke to me of your covenant love. You are my rest and my peace. You restore me. You comfort me. You encourage me. You soothe me. You are provider, protector. You are gracious and merciful. Thank you for respite and a reminder that I can access your peace any day, anywhere–not just in the Massachusetts wilderness, but here at home: by the computer, in the tasks, fixing meals, drinking coffee–I fix my focus. I am yours. You walk with me, and I am not alone.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 7; 1 Timothy 4; Daniel 11; Psalm 119:25-48

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. 1 Timothy 4:7-10, NLT.

I wonder what people think when they hear the word godly. I heard a perspective somewhere before, and it changed my whole perception on the word–that godliness is a pursuit of God. It isn’t perfection. It is a heart that seeks God.

If this year has taught me anything, it is to make space for God. At times I’ve felt pulled in too many directions, and I’ve had to enforce new boundaries. It has brought a lot of peace. But moreover, it has given me footing to be intentional in my walk with the Lord. Every day, His Word refreshes me, strengthens me, gives me hope.

25 I lie in the dust;
    revive me by your word.
26 I told you my plans, and you answered.
    Now teach me your decrees.
27 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments,
    and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 I weep with sorrow;
    encourage me by your word. Psalm 119:25-28, NLT (emphasis added)

It’s easy (for me) to feel guilty for not meeting someone’s expectations–for saying no to a friend for getting together; delaying a request to perform a task; declining an invitation; even to stepping down for a season from serving at church. Surprisingly, the cost of trying to do it all took me away from my time with the Lord. And not so surprising in hindsight, the Lord said no for me with car troubles, other mishaps, and illness.

Lord, I want to be true to the calling and gifting you’ve placed in my life. But I know that apart from you, I wither. Thank you for grace in all things I’ve declined so that I can say yes to you.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 22; 1 Thessalonians 5; Daniel 4; Psalms 108, 109

Our credit card number was stolen and charged fraudulently (the second time this year). My husband texted me early yesterday morning to ask if I had been shopping for shoes. No? He cancelled the card, which instantly redirected the day I planned.

Instead, I set about local tasks–one including tracking down the cleared title to my dad’s truck so we can sell it for his estate. It meant going to the MVA, which I had been putting off for months because–it’s the MVA.

I explained my situation to the first clerk, who told me I’d have to purchase a replacement and they would mail it to his house (out of town and the mail service forwarded). A second clerk said the mail couldn’t be forwarded and I’d have to go to the main office (much further away) and get it there. Then they handed me a wait ticket to meet with someone else.

I explained to this third helper what my situation was, and reiterated for confirmation what I was told at the first desk. She typed some things into her computer. A Whitney Houston song (I Wanna Dance With Somebody) came on their music system and my daughter pulled at my arm.

“Mom!” she said, and smiled. I sing this song to my dog almost daily, and she dances and prances for a treat she knows is coming. I told the clerk as much as my daughter and I grinned large–and the clerk smiled and giggled with us too.

The next thing I know, the clerk steps away to talk to a manager and comes back with a freshly printed, cleared title and we’re on our way.  (Thank you, Lord!) There were other big tasks to complete locally, and we got them moving along. (Only You, Jesus!)

When I got home, for the first time in many weeks, I felt lighter. (So grateful, God.)

There have been several times lately that God has put an abrupt stop to my plans. And when he does, I feel he makes a different way available to me. With a day that started with a cancelled card, I actually got more accomplished than if I’d been able to proceed with my original plan.

I read it twice this morning, once here and once on an Instagram image:

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

This year has felt overwhelming to me with the tasks and emotions associated with grief and loss. At times I’ve felt a real pressure of a weight upon my shoulders and heart. However, all along, I have sensed God’s hand involved in the details, in ways I never imagined. Even to the way he grabbed my attention with a song yesterday, like he was saying, “Pay attention. I don’t want you to miss this.” Title in hand, same day. And it didn’t stop there.

Lord, I know you are moving in my life and in my sister’s life. Thank you for people who help us. Yesterday was a miracle and blessing from start to finish, even though it seemed a bummer beginning. Thanks for focusing my wandering, worried mind on you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 17; 2 Corinthians 10; Ezekiel 24; Psalm 72

For the Lord had determined to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster on Absalom! (2 Samuel 17:14b, NLT)

A message to deliver, men taking cover in a well. (2 Samuel 17)

Symbols and signs–a scorched pot, a wife’s death, a silent example. (Ezekiel 24)

A war waged with mighty weapons that break down strongholds. Thoughts captured. (2 Corinthians 10)

A psalm of hope and peace. Abundance. His glory. (Psalm 72)

18 Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel,
    who alone does such wonderful things.
19 Praise his glorious name forever!
    Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen! (Psalm 72:18-19, NLT)

He is in control.

11 All kings will bow before him,
    and all nations will serve him.

12 He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
    he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
13 He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
    and he will rescue them.
14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
    for their lives are precious to him. (Psalm 72:11-14, NLT)

I remind myself today, that his ways don’t often come packaged the way I imagine or expect, but he is always at work, always in control.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 24; 1 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 3; Psalm 39

There is something bigger at stake than removing a threat.

After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats. (1 Samuel 24:1, NLT)

Saul leaves one fight to pursue another. Could his heart ever be satisfied? Would the threats ever stop tormenting him? Is he the hunter or the hunted?

David’s in a cave with a force behind him. They encourage him–a deliverance of a sort that could be settled in that instant. I watch David from the shadows and hold my breath as he reaches forward and cuts a piece of Saul’s robe. David’s conscience speaks to him–because there is something bigger at stake than removing a threat.

War and gore weren’t new to these men; they were both fighters and leaders–whether for better or worse. What was it fueling Saul? What was it holding David back? While this story reads like a suspense, today, I look past opposing forces and see the heart.

***

A garden untended in a summer gone too fast, and weeds are up to my waist in some places. I climb over the rocky bases and grasp and pull at thorny mile-a-minute, weak-rooted Japanese stiltgrass, and other varieties I know by familiarity than by name–ones that reach, embed, choke out nearby azalea and lilac. This year, I get half through and don’t finish. I think about emotions in a grieving process. I look at the weeds and how quickly they’ve taken over a space. Some being light, but persistent. Others, painful to touch. Some, likely poisonous and tormenting. It is work to remove them. I know the longer I neglect the process, the worse it will become.

I said to myself, “I will watch what I do
    and not sin in what I say.
I will hold my tongue
    when the ungodly are around me.”
But as I stood there in silence—
    not even speaking of good things—
    the turmoil within me grew worse.
The more I thought about it,
    the hotter I got,
    igniting a fire of words:
Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
    Remind me that my days are numbered—
    how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
    My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
    at best, each of us is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:1-5, NLT)

At best, a breath.

I got the proof for my parents’ grave marker yesterday–names and dates.

We are merely moving shadows,
    and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
    not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
    My only hope is in you. (Psalm 39:6-7, NLT)

My only hope is in you.

***

The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. “Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. (Ezekiel 3:1-3, NLT)

Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7b-8, NLT)

Lord, I turn to your word. It fills me and instructs me. It is a feast, and I celebrate the new bread of sincerity and truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 21&22; 1 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 1; Psalms 37

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about wicked schemes.” Psalms 37:7 NLT

I have a hard time being still. As I sit here now, my mind is scattered and I can’t help but think of all the tasks I need to complete. But, his words refresh me. They remind me of his constant care.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord hold them by the hand.” Psalms 37:23 NLT

His provision.

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” Psalms 37:25 NLT

His goodness.

Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path.” Psalms 37:34 NLT

Sometimes I lose sight of his faithfulness and I start to compare my life to others. Instead of reaching out to others, I can become discontent. Doesn’t Paul say, that is acting like the world?

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NLT

When I sit quietly in his presence, my hope is restored. I find myself living in gratitude for all he has done for me. His glory is revealed to me in ways that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground, and I heard someone’s voice speaking to me.” Ezekiel 1:28 NLT

Dear Father, Strip my heart of anything that is not from you. Forgive me for when I look to lesser things to bring fulfillment. Everything I have comes from you. Help me to quiet my heart before you and rest in your presence. Amen.

The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.” Psalms 37:39&40 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ruth 3,4; Acts 28; Jeremiah 38; Psalms 11,12

I’m finishing up listening to an audio version of a book called 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz (not paid or otherwise compensated to mention this book). A friend recommended it at large, and I tucked it away for someday. While I’m not sure how the title came back into my sight line, I can say that several times this year, there have been things I wanted to quit (and things I didn’t want to quit but thought I might have to because this pace is wearing me too thin). I decided to give the book a listening to. In it, Koziarz discusses Ruth.

Today, in Ruth 3 and 4, I read the conclusion of (Ruth’s) story, where her kinsman redeemer marries her, joy is restored, and she is part of royal lineage–and all because she made the choice not to quit. She exhibits strength, loyalty, faith, perseverance, patience, and trust.

And what doesn’t Paul go through in Acts? In this chapter, he’s warming himself by a fire after a shipwreck. He’s bitten by a poisonous snake and survives. After months, he continues on his journey to Rome.

30 For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, 31 boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him. (Acts 28:30-31, NLT)

He persevered too, and not in a roll-with-the-punches sort of way: he boldly proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord. He was resilient and focused.

Jeremiah’s unpopular message made him a traitor to be lowered into a cistern and left for dead. But that wasn’t where his story stopped. Though he couldn’t climb out in his own strength, he was raised out of the cistern because of the petitions of an important court official. Jeremiah’s message didn’t change–surrender or else. A tough job.

15 Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.” (Jeremiah 38:15, NLT)

He didn’t quit.

In the psalms, encouragement still (emphasis mine). Don’t quit.

I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
    “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;
    the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
    examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. (Psalm 11:1, 4-5, NLT)

And

The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land. (Psalm 12:6-8, NLT)

Maybe one day the things I’m going through won’t seem so big-hairy-scary-heavy. Maybe one day I’ll look back and laugh at what I thought was difficult. In real time, the things are big and heavy and difficult. And yesterday, I was looking to quit.

Thank you, Lord, for all that you are teaching me about who you are and what you can do. Thank you for showing me that character is developed through trials, and perseverance is built one day at a time. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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