Tag Archives: eternity

Ecclesiastes 3-5; Psalm 45; Matthew 15

I think of the scraps that fell from the table: could meager remnants become a feast? I sat on a bench one year and considered the crumbs and thought of this woman in Matthew 15 and her perspective.

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:24-27, NLT)”

She taught me something profound that day about my own heart. About contentment. About gratitude. About the Lord. About enough.

The Pharisees had their expectations of what life would look like, and how purity would be recognized, and a protocol for how things would be done. I think on how my own expectations, perceptions, and protocol have kept me sour, hurt, angry, or disappointed.

Ecclesiastes marks time like seasons for war and peace, tearing and mending, silence and speech. Couldn’t it show on the calendar? On (this day), you will cry. You will grieve. But in a few turns of the calendar pages, you will laugh. You will dance. Would the wait feel long?

Here, I linger:

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13, NLT).

The injustices of life. The advantages of companionship. The futility of power and wealth. The importance of integrity. Read slowly. Everything, beautiful. Even in the becoming, beauty, in the wait. A scope of His work.

17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (Ecclesiastes 5:17-20, NLT, emphasis added).

I did a quarterly evaluation in areas of my life from 1-10: work, health, friendships, etc. Goal books and podcasts preach a level-10 life. What would it look like, I wondered. And slowly I realized–I was already there. I have all I need. And maybe living out level 10 didn’t mean what I was making it (nebulous as it was). Maybe it didn’t look like anyone else’s vision of ten. Maybe, in some cases, it had to do with letting go of hurts and expectations, with looking forward and sowing into a future than looking back and carrying past burdens. Maybe my disappointment stemmed from exceptions and restrictions and expectations I placed upon things, a schedule I overbooked, a relationship I overestimated. For community that was never going to be what I hoped it could be. For the friend who never agreed to be who I needed her to be. What if I let go of my own restrictions, instead of wrestling with a past I couldn’t change, and people I wished who would? Seems like chasing the wind.

Lord, thank you for meeting me that day on the bench, bringing that woman’s story to mind. Thank you today for reminding me of the scope of your story. Thank you for gifts from you: good things from you, and the health to enjoy them.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ecclesiastes, Matthew

2 Kings 22-23; Psalm 73; 2 Corinthians 5

A friend from high school shared a photo with me of the two of us at her seventeenth birthday party. We were so young. We looked so happy. I have zero memory of the occasion. Nothing was familiar. Not even the shirt on my back.

“I wonder what those seventeen-year-olds would think of us now!” she mused. But I was less concerned with how that version of me would view my life today, as I was at (desperately) wishing I could have somehow prepared that young heart for what was ahead. Queue the song, Dear Younger Me.

Josiah was eight when he became king, and every time I read “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),” I smile.

He tore down and burned all the shrines, temples and buildings that stood for wickedness. The Bible reads, “25 Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. (2 Kings 23:25, NLT)” After Josiah dies, his sons rise up.

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 32 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done. 2 Kings 23:31-32, NLT

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah from Rumah. 37 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done. 2 Kings 23:36-37, NLT

I looked at that face of a younger self and grieved for her. For the generational sin around her. At the sin-laden legacy offered by example. I want to tell her, “Help is on the way.” Thank you, God, for your work in my life.

Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:14-17, NLT)

Thank you, God, for new life. Thank you, God, that I can know you and live for you. Thank you for reaching into strongholds and generations to rescue and resurrect.

17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
    and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
    you will laugh at their silly ideas
    as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.

21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.

27 Those who desert him will perish,
    for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. Psalm 73:17-28, NLT

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Psalms, Uncategorized

Isaiah 64-66; 2 Corinthians 2

Many of us know that the entire Bible — Old and New Testaments — have a crimson thread that ties it together. It’s all about Jesus. And many of its prophecies are about things that have happened way before we were born, but today we see a prophecy that is yet to be realized. It’s a beautiful picture of what the New Jerusalem will be like. These prophecies are some of my favorite because they share with us what the future for Christ-followers will ultimately be like. Read carefully through these verses and imagine what it will be like when we are there in person.

17“See, I will create

new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered,

nor will they come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I will create,

for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight

and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem

and take delight in my people;

the sound of weeping and of crying

will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not live out his years;

the one who dies at a hundred

will be thought a mere child;

the one who fails to reacha a hundred

will be considered accursed.

21They will build houses and dwell in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22No longer will they build houses and others live in them,

or plant and others eat.

For as the days of a tree,

so will be the days of my people;

my chosen ones will long enjoy

the work of their hands.

23They will not labor in vain,

nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;

for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,

they and their descendants with them.

24Before they call I will answer;

while they are still speaking I will hear.

25The wolf and the lamb will feed together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

and dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,” (Isaiah 65:17-25 [NIV])

What about these prophecies warms your heart? What if anything makes you nervous? What are you looking forward to the most? Share in the comment section.

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Numbers 8-11; Colossians 1

Dallas Willard has made a comment that it may be best to stay in one verse or chapter in the Bible and go deep there for a year instead of a cursory tree top reading of the entire work in that time frame. If he is right about that, this chapter is one that a person could spend a whole year in and still not plumb the depths of its meaning or applications in one’s life.

Just Friday I read Colossians through in one sitting. The leadership team from our church was away at a retreat and one of our core values is Valuing the Word of God.  So our pastor had us read this letter from the Apostle Paul through in one setting and then we discussed it as a team. We read it by ourselves and then came back and shared our thoughts together. Looking at my notes two things from chapter one really hit me.

First Paul shares that he is an apostle by the will of God. What are you? Who are you? What do you do each day in and day out? Is that God’s will for you? Do you look at your work as a sacred calling? I don’t think only apostles are in that role by the will of God. Certainly they are, but all of us have been called to where we are in this life through the will of God. Are you taking your job, responsibilities each day as the will of God? What changes if you keep that important truth in mind?

Second, Paul shares an interesting truth:

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:3-5a [ESV])

The Colossians were given excellent marks for the love they showed to other believers. And it was a result of the hope that was laid up for them in heaven. What a concept. Our love comes from the fact that our future — now and for all eternity — is secure in Christ. We are freed to love others because we no longer worry about our futures. We are safe in Jesus. When was the last time you meditated on that truth? Do it today!

Spend time thinking of and thanking God for your secure future that will go on for ever and ever. Then find a fellow believer to love on.

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Job 37-39; Psalm 103; Revelation 21

“My heart pounds as I think of this …” Job 37:1a, NLT

Today’s scriptures point to a magnificent God. An organized, creative, intentional designer.

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job 38:4a, NLT

A look back on a full year. I could tell about the losses and heartaches. But I’d rather remember my God and all that He did. There were a lot of things beyond my control, but not out of my God’s hands–and where I saw dead ends and loss, he brought out goodness, newness, hope.

When God speaks in Job, I remember my smallness. It humbles me. And all the things that seemed so big, they become small too in light of the Lord. He is able.

“Have you ever commanded the morning to appear
    and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Job 38:12, NLT

A definite perk to an early start is an expectant seat to a morning sunrise. He does that. Not me. Some mornings the first rays are so majestic; they are a visual orchestra proclaiming the glory of God. Or, like today, a soft whisper of rain, a gentle patter against the slate.

34 “Can you shout to the clouds
    and make it rain? Job 38:34, NLT

I rest in his ability.

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    may I never forget the good things he does for me. Psalm 103:1-2, NLT

With my whole heart, Lord, I praise you. May I never forget the good things you do for me.

He forgives all my sins
    and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies. Psalm 103:3-4, NLT

And if the heavens’ song didn’t show his might, a universe and eternity held in his hands–would this? That he cared enough for me–this body, this heart, this soul–to forgive all my sins. To redeem me from death. To crown me.

With love.

With tender mercies.

This humbles me. When even life’s challenges seem bigger than me, he sees me. He knows my name.

Father God, greater riches await, and not because of who I am, but because of who you are. I am grateful for all that you do and all that you are. Thank you for meeting me where I am with love and tenderness, to set me straight and draw me close.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Judges 9-11; Psalm 17; Luke 23

The Book of Judges is about a wayward people who grieved God continually, yet there is one verse that struck home with me – Judges 10:16b “And His [God’s]soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.” Like a parent who can barely endure the suffering of her child, God’s compassionate heart breaks when He sees our helplessness – and we are all helpless to save ourselves from a life of sin and want.

King David was loved by God who testified concerning him, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart.” David understood God’s marvelous love to be deeper than the familial love of parents who desire to provide for and give to their children. Because David knew He was loved, he knew hope for God’s favor when he prayed, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings . . .” (Psalm 17:8). Prophetically, though, David ended His prayer with a hope for eternal nearness to God, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness,” (Psalm 17:15). This is the prayer of a man who is looking beyond his need for comfort on earth to his spiritual life with God for all eternity.

I wonder about the broken heart of God that many years later heralded the birth of Jesus Christ. God’s compassion burst the heavens with song and joy for the coming Savior of mankind. Then our Father endured the sacrifice of His only Son to bring salvation to a helpless people, not because we merited or earned this Gracious Gift, but because He never changes – He loves.

Like the thief on the cross who recognized Jesus as the Son of God, we, in the midst of sinful death, can cry out, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And because Christ knew that we would sin in ignorance, He prayed for us then and prays for us now, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” Luke 23:34.

I am so grateful for the forgiveness of my Lord and Savior, and I long for even more from Him. I look forward to the day when in the twinkling of an eye I will be changed by the sweet words of Christ welcoming me home. Just as Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross that pivotal moment in time, He will speak to me, saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

What a glorious day that will be!!

 

Lord Jesus, whether You come for me in this life or when my spirit leaves my body, I am comforted knowing that You will come for me. That also means that those whom I have loved and who also loved You will be among the saints at Your side. To awake in Your likeness in the brightness of Your righteousness forever – how marvelous! Amen!

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Num. 9; Ps. 45; Song 7; Heb. 7

Yesterday was sunny as I smoothed the sheets and blankets over the bed. First my side, then my husband’s. And as I fluffed and arranged his pillow, I thought of a woman whose husband recently died after 50+ years of marriage. Thought of her making her bed that morning, and of her lingering over the spot where her beloved once lay just a short time before–gone now, for the rest of her days.

Psalm 45 and Song of Solomon 7 speak to me of love and celebration. One of a king and queen.

10 Listen to me, O royal daughter; take to heart what I say.
    Forget your people and your family far away.
11 For your royal husband delights in your beauty;
    honor him, for he is your lord. Psalm 45:10-11 NLT

Another of poetic and binding love.

10 I am my lover’s,
    and he claims me as his own. Song of Solomon 7:10 NLT

Numbers 9 has celebration–of the second Passover. The passing over of death. God makes a way for everyone to celebrate–from the unclean to the foreign.

He makes that way for us still–we who are unclean and foreign.

24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. 28 The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever. Hebrews 7:24-28 NLT.

Jesus, thank you–thank you for interceding on our behalf, for taking our sin to save us from an eternal death. Thank you for love stories, and faithful brothers and sisters. Thank you that you are with us in suffering.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Numbers, Old Testament, Psalms, Song of Solomon