Tag Archives: ESV Through the Bible in a Year Plan

Zechariah 4, 6; Revelation 18

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts…Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. Zechariah 4:6, 8-10

I just finished reading a book called “Return to Me” by Lynn Austin. It is a historical novel based on the life of Zechariah during the years that God called His people back to Jerusalem, after having been exiled for 70 years in Babylon, and commanded them to rebuild His temple. After many years of disobedience, rooted in the fear of man, the people opened their eyes to God’s glory and were reminded once more that when God puts something in motion, nothing will stop it from happening.

I love reading the Bible, and yet sometimes, especially when I am reading from the Old Testament, I have a difficult time connecting to the story. Today seems so distant from the happenings that are shared about in the Word, and when I have so much going on in my present life, the past doesn’t always seem relevant to what I need right now. But the truth is that the past can teach me so much; the lessons that the men and women of the Bible learned are the same things that I need to understand for my own life.

Books that are Biblically and historically based, though of course mostly fictional (because no one alive today truly has a firsthand account of the actual moment by moment events), help me put a face on the impersonal stories that I have read over and over. They help me connect to the ‘person’ of the story and help me understand even better that they weren’t people who should be placed on a proverbial pedestal, people who never had problems, never had struggles or crises of faith. They were just like me.

One of my favorite parts of ‘Return to Me’ is when Zechariah is coming into his gifting as a prophet to the people of Jerusalem. God gives him the Word “Not by might, nor by power – but by My Spirit.” This is something that I have often needed to remember, especially in the midst of trials, when I start believing that I am all alone in my battles.

Everything that I do, everything that I accomplish, is because of God’s Spirit within me. When I do anything in my own strength and by my own power, it amounts to nothing. But when I fully rely on God to help me achieve what I know He has called me to do, trusting Him to complete a good work in me, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are I will always be successful. I don’t need to fear anything, I just need to depend on God and believe in His Truth.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your Spirit within me, always giving me strength and always giving me power. Thank You for never leaving me alone. And, thank You for bringing Your Word in my life to pass. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Return to me book image

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Micah 4, 5; Revelation 11

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel,

whose coming forth is from of old,

from ancient days.

Therefore he shall give them up until the time

when she who is in labor has given birth;

then the rest of his brothers shall return

to the people of Israel.

And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,

in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great

to the ends of the earth.

And he shall be their peace…Micah 5:2-5a

In a few short days, people all over the world will be celebrating Christmas. Everyone will be celebrating with their own traditions, unique to their families and unique to their cultures. Some will be making merry with the secular folklore of Santa Clause and his reindeer. And some will choose to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

From the beginning, the coming of Christ was foretold. Throughout the generations the people of Israel anticipated the coming of the Messiah, hoped for the time to come when they would be liberated from the never ending line of oppressors.

Much of Israel imagined that their Messiah would come as a king and slay the enemy in a violent way to make room for his kingdom. Some people would come to realize that He came in a much different way –as a baby who would grow up as the rest of us do and redeem us in a much different way.

Micah was a prophet who spoke to the future of Jesus – the King who would stand up for His people, becoming like a shepherd to lead them to greener pastures, a bringer of peace. Micah’s prophesies gave the people the opportunity to glimpse into Jesus’ life hundreds of years before He was born, before He walked the earth.

God used Micah to encourage His people and give them hope about their coming King. He increased the eagerness of the people for their salvation and gave them something so important for them to look toward.

I think about the anticipation that I experienced over the past 9 months, from the time that I first heard the news that I was pregnant. It was amazing to have the opportunity to carry a child, knowing that he is full of potential and has an exciting destiny, a hope and a future. It was incredible to peek into the depths of my body to see the ultra sound of my little boy, to see his face with 3D imagery, a hint at what he would look like and who he may resemble. And, it was thrilling to finally meet him face to face and begin the process of getting to know who God made him to be.

Though Christ was born over 2000 years ago, I still experience a similar expectation when I read the prophecies about Him. I know that many of them have been fulfilled in His first coming and I look forward to the rest of them being fulfilled in His second coming. I am excited to get to know Him more, to see His face in the midst of my life. And I am glad to be able to experience His peace and know that I can find strength and security in Him.

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Joel 1, 2, 3; Revelation 4

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

 

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:8b, 11

There have been moments in my life when I believe that God has given me tiny glimpses of heaven. I haven’t had a near death, out-of-body experience, but I’ve walked away from those moments knowing that I had the chance to peek at what forever will be like.

Each one of those moments has been full of praise; they were times of worship and honor to my King. Some of the circumstances surrounding those flashes of heaven were full of joy and some full of grief, but they were moments when heaven met earth.

One of the first moments I experienced this was the night after my brother died. Some friends and I were worshipping the Lord, blessing Him in the bad as we do in the good. As we were lifting His name on high, a huge hail storm came out of nowhere and beat a torrent of ice balls on the corrugated roof. The sound was deafening, and it spoke to me of God’s glory and goodness.

Another time recently, singing corporately in church, praising His name together. I don’t even remember the song we were singing any more, but I could hear the angels singing with us. I was reminded that together we will sing God’s praises in the heavens for all eternity.

And this past week, as I have been reveling in the birth of my son and still experiencing the surreal truth that I am now a mother of three. I am grateful for an uneventful delivery and a peaceful newborn; and I am grateful for the help I have been receiving with my girls and with meals. I feel God’s presence giving me peace and rest and I praise Him for always being there for me and my family.

The Lord truly is holy and worthy of all praise, and to receive glory, honor, and power, forever and ever! And, together, on earth and in heaven, we who love Him praise His name always! Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Judah Benaiah David Richard

“My God be praised for our beloved son whom you created”

Born December 5, 2014  (9 lbs, 4 oz; 21.75 inches)

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Daniel 7, 8; 1 John 5

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:13-15

 

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours. 1 John 5:13-15 (MSG)

There are many reasons why I tend not to ask for help. Sometimes, I think that I am capable of doing whatever it is I am trying to do by myself, even if it becomes too much for me to handle alone. Occasionally, I want it done in a particular way, and I am convinced that I am the only one who can do it up to my expectations. Much of the time, I am anxious that no one will want to or be able to help me, and so instead of having to experience feelings of disappoint and rejection, I just keep my needs to myself and struggle through.

Through experience, I’ve learned that when I actually do ask for help, about half the time, I am going to be let down. I have to remember to not take it personally, especially since more often than not it isn’t those people don’t want to help me, they just aren’t able to at the time because of what is going on in their own lives. And, I have to let my disappointment go so that I don’t fall into alignment with the enemy and contribute to disconnection in my relationships.

Here and there, especially those times when I have felt very reluctant to ask for help, I have been greatly and pleasantly surprised by the positive response and the overall outcome. And, when that happens, it is encouragement to ask for help again another time, confidence to be vulnerable and make my needs known.

As I have walked the path of being a believer, I have been learning that the One that I can ALWAYS trust to listen to my needs is Christ. I can cry out for help any time of the night or day and He will be there to listen to me, my frustrations, my anxieties, my fears. I know that He is trustworthy and reliable, and that His heart is for me and not against me. I feel free to ask Him for anything and everything, because I am assured time and time again that He loves me and He hears me.

I am blessed in those moments when I witness a positive and direct answer to my plea for help. I can also admit that there are times when I don’t love the answer that I’ve heard; and, there are times when I don’t hear an answer at all and I just have to wait. But, I am confident that no matter what, He will always answer my prayers, according to His will, according to what He knows is best for me.

Yesappa, Thank You for hearing my prayers, listening to my requests. Thank You for answering me whether the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘wait’. Thank You for allowing me to place my confidence in Your, in Your goodness and faithfulness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ezekiel 41-42; 2 Peter 1

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-11

Since becoming a follower of Christ, I have often thought about what that means, what it ‘should’ look like. Christianity began with me completely believing in and putting my confidence in God my Father, in His Son who came to earth as a man, laid His life down to restore my relationship with Him, and rose again to life on the third day, and in Holy Spirit my helper. It began with faith; faith to trust even though I don’t always have tangible evidence, faith to step out and take a leap into the unknown.

Peter shares that while the foundation of the Christian walk is simple faith, it isn’t the only facet. He shares that, because I partake of the divine nature of God, I am able to develop my simple faith with additional character qualities that will keep me from being unfruitful in my life and help to prevent me from falling:

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. 2 Peter 1:5-7 MSG

Virtue – as I practice moral excellence, as I make good choices in the day-to-day of life, my life begins to better reflect Christ in me. Determination, integrity, and discretion help me walk a straight path; and even when I stumble, I have a plum line to help me get up and walk again.

Knowledge – as I continue to delve deeper in my relationship with God, His divine nature is reveled to me in greater and greater ways. Each day, as I spend more time with Him, my understanding of Him, my intimacy with Him is increased. Though I will ever be in awe of His goodness, my experiences of who God is gives me a new sense of familiarity. He is my Daddy and no longer a formidable, unapproachable being.

Self-Control – as I train myself in restraint, I become more level-headed and my willpower for self-discipline becomes stronger. I am better able to regulate my actions, my emotions, my fleshly desires and appetites. When I have control over myself, the truth about who I really am in Christ is able to shine above my weaknesses as a human being.

Steadfastness – as I exercise patience, my ability to continue fruitfully throughout my journey, through the ups and downs, despite the fatigue and stress, without complaint or loss of temper, increases. I am better able to bear the trials of life without being derailed from my purposes and goals. I am able to stay hopeful in the waiting.

Godliness – as I endeavor to be more like Jesus, I naturally begin to submit to His will, obeying the wishes of God as I understand them. As I hold tightly to God, as I become more reliant on Him, He enhances my wisdom, my gratitude, and teaches me how to be honoring to Him and to others.

Brotherly Affection – as I get into the habit of being kind to the people around me, I put into practice God’s call for me to love my enemies and to love my neighbors as myself. My compassion and generosity grow, and I am better able to empathize with others in the midst of their personal trials.

Love – as brotherly affection becomes more and more routine, my love increases. Agape love is enkindled by Holy Spirit; it is a love which embraces the truth and demonstrated the nature of God through me. It is a pure, unconditional love that flows with His grace and mercy.

Each one of these qualities adds to my faith, makes it well-rounded, and strengthens me as a believer. As I practice and build on each element, my character continues to grow as I rely on Christ within me.

Yesappa, Thank You for being my Daddy whom I can put my full confidence in. I know that you will never leave me nor forsake me, and that you are the source for all of the growth in my life. Help me always look to You as I walk my path; help me continue to fortify the qualities that demonstrate Your work in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ezekiel 38-39; 1 Peter 4

In the subhead title of Restoration for God’s People, I think long on restoration. It is a sweet reminder of a Father who won’t leave me behind and will not turn His face from me. This is comfort I need.

28 Then my people will know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them away to exile and brought them home again. I will leave none of my people behind. 29 And I will never again turn my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit upon the people of Israel. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” Ezekiel 39:28-29, NLT, emphasis mine.

When I go through the process of preparing home and table for guests, I’m assaulted by a critical voice–and the thing about the thoughts that makes them so hard: it’s my voice, and the things I think about have happened–so it’s not a stretch to wonder if the worst will come again.

“Why do I do this?” I’ve asked. It’s a multilevel question.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:8-10, NLT.

Help me, Lord.

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

It’s such a simple statement: keep on doing what is right and trust (your) life to God–he will never fail you.

Lord, take my anxious thoughts. From greeting to goodbye, you already know what this day holds–and whatever that might be, I can trust you. I hold onto these verses: that you won’t leave me behind; that you won’t turn your face from me; that you won’t fail me. You give me hope when things feel hopeless. You show me nothing is impossible for you. I’m thankful for these scriptures, for your love for me, for your encouragement to keep on being who you’ve made me to be. Thank you for loving me every day as much as the last–you show me what love is.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 27, 28; James 4

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12

I see and hear it all over, judgment and criticism spewed out everywhere, on every one; people playing judge and jury for people they may not even know. Society as a whole has seemed to really embrace this holier-than-thou attitude, especially since the rise of social media and blogging. Everyone has the right to their own opinion; they have the right to make their own choices in how they walk their journey in life. But, for heaven’s sake, your decisions better look like mine, or else. Right!?…Wrong!

Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? James 4:11-12 (MSG)

I’ve been there, both on the giving end of judgment and the receiving end. Neither one is pleasant. Hearing criticism against me and the choices that I have made in life, for myself, for my family is hurtful. I know I am doing the best that I can in any given moment, and in the words of Iyanla Vazant, “When I know better, I do better.”

As a mother, it is even harder. At any given moment, I am being judged based on my choices to co-sleep, baby wear, breast feed, vaccinate, switch between cloth and disposable diapers, discipline based in love versus rejection, spend time on my smart phone while the kids are playing at Chick-fil-A, let my kids watch TV, etc. I am even judged by some on the decision to not shave my girls head to ‘make their hair more beautiful’, for allowing my youngest to comfort herself with a pacifier, and to let my girls drink juice when they are sick.

I don’t need any help from anyone else to feel like a failure; I already struggle with that lie from the enemy, even though I know that I am doing a good job despite the circumstances of my life. What I need, instead of disapproval, is help; a village surrounding me to pick up the pieces when I inevitably fumble.

Even as I am writing, I am convicted in my heart that I too often stand in that place of judgment. I also condemn others for choosing differently from me. Whether I judge people on their politics, their lifestyle choices, their parenting skills, their actions or beliefs, in that twinkling of an eye, I have put myself over them and over God to find them guilty. It doesn’t matter if I have posted my views all over the internet, gossiped to my friends, or simply considered it in my thoughts; I have spoken evil against another…I have sinned. And, who am I to judge my neighbor?

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-8; 10

When I realize that I have been judgmental or that I need to forgive someone who has judged me, I know that it is time to get right with God again. I need to step down from the judge’s bench and let Him have His seat back. I need to humble myself, submit myself once more to Him, because God is the only One who can clean my hands, purify my heart, and keep my mind in alignment with His love, grace, and mercy.

When I repent and when I offer forgiveness, my heart grows with compassion, and what I once saw through blinders, I am now able to see through truth. I am able to see better through the defenses that have been put up by others to protect themselves from judgment, and I am able to break down the walls I’ve built around myself. Instead of judging someone else for being different than me, I am able to choose to love them right where they are, no matter what their life looks like. And when I am feeling judged, I am able to focus more on the intention behind the critique, which many times is actually care and concern, glean God’s truth from the comments, and choose to be vulnerable, to share my struggles and even ask for help.

It takes courage to stop standing in the place of judgment, to choose to not be the one to cast the first stone. It takes courage to forgive others, then submit the criticisms received to God and ask for His truth and wisdom. And, when I step out in courage, I am honoring God and living by His Word, which is the best way to live.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Ezekiel, James, New Testament, Old Testament