Thank you for reading along with us in 2014!
If you didn’t read the Bible in a year, it’s ok. I doubt that God is so concerned if this line item gets checked off. I think more than that, he wants to tell you about himself and about how much he loves you. His book is full of wisdom, encouragement, and life-changing words. And when you start to see it from that point of view, it’s a book you’ll never want to put down.
Next year (that’s tomorrow!), we’ll be starting over with a reading plan that has a chronological influence and runs Monday through Friday–both the plan and approach are new to the blog. We’re excited to see how this plan shows us God’s word in a new way.
Happy New Year from all of us at 66 Books in a Year,
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- Esther–a new opening for the Queen’s job. Girls from the area taken and prepared to apply. Esther is chosen.
- Matthew–a lineage listed, all leading up to the fulfillment of prophecy. A Messiah. When Joseph woke up, he did as he was told.
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. Matthew 1:20-25 NLT.
- Luke–a man prepares the way, preaching and baptizing. Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon. And then one day, Jesus was baptized.
Esther would save her people through obedience and humility.
Jesus did the same.
Esther, Joseph, John and Jesus–these chapters are the first-step-starts of bigger stories and journeys. Each one, responding in obedience: one being taken from the familiar and placed into royalty; another faced with a cultural blemish; one marches fervently and focused; and Jesus–the son of God and Savior.
These stories all united by the tasks before them, the big jobs prepared for them before their births. They are united by the obedience to do what was required. And they tell me that first-step starts lead to bigger stories and journeys.
When my task is to love God with all my heart, and to love my neighbor as myself–first-step-starts in obedience will lead to greater endings than I could ever imagine. It leads to lives changed and God’s glory. Even if, at first, it is only a package of cookies delivered with a smile.
Father, may I always be listening for your call.
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The reflection in the rear view mirror shows fractures and splinters–those defining moments when life is altered and things (or self) will never be the same. Looking back, I still remember the beauty of the winter sky, the sound of south-bound flying geese, how littlest birds perched on electrical wires. The years of the sometime-struggle all feel like a winter’s day, cold and gray.
I remember, then, writing out a list of thanks, even while sinking in sorrow, for God’s presence in my life. And when thoughts of (that) reality choked me, I sang out praise to drown the words of an internal dialogue.
The psalmist writes of a world gone wrong, of God the target of insults, of an enemy with an upper hand. And I realize, from age to age, there is nothing new under the sun. I still wait for God, like all those souls did long ago. I cry out to him, as they did too.
Psalms seem like a conflicted pot of emotion–injustice, mourning, and praise. And it is praise that catches my eye.
12 You, O God, are my king from ages past,
bringing salvation to the earth.
13 You split the sea by your strength
and smashed the heads of the sea monsters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan
and let the desert animals eat him.
15 You caused the springs and streams to gush forth,
and you dried up rivers that never run dry.
16 Both day and night belong to you;
you made the starlight and the sun.
17 You set the boundaries of the earth,
and you made both summer and winter. Psalm 74:12-17 NLT
1 We thank you, O God!
We give thanks because you are near.
People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
2 God says, “At the time I have planned,
I will bring justice against the wicked.
3 When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil,
I am the one who keeps its foundations firm. Psalm 75:1-3
4 You are glorious and more majestic
than the everlasting mountains. Psalm 76:4
11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. 12 And they sang in a mighty chorus:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—
to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing.”
13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.” Revelation 5:11-13
My take-away from this time today, an underscoring of something I always knew: God is in control.
Is my testimony of God one of grief and sorrow? Or is my song in the face of loss that God reached out to me? God uses circumstances to draw people closer to him.
God, I know going into a trial, I might not have chosen it if you had given me the description. But looking back, though life seems fractured, I see you and your work in and around me. And I praise you. May I be mindful of your presence in all the circumstances I face. You are in control.
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