Tag Archives: holidays

Leviticus 23; Psalm 30; Ecclesiastes 6; 2 Timothy 2

Holidays interrupt the ordinary activities of my life and give me an opportunity to revitalize my commitment to God or holidays can draw my spirit into contemplating my recurrent need to depend on God. Such interruptions can lead to restoration and hope of blessings. Leviticus 23 lists the times of many God-ordained holidays, reminders of God’s deliverance, provision, forgiveness, and mercy. His presence is the gift in the midst of community, and the same is true during Christian holidays. I didn’t know how much I missed community until this past Easter. I have felt like a nomad these last 10 years, moving from state to state, changing jobs, changing churches, leaving the bones of loved ones in strange lands.

Ecclesiastes 6:2, written by my soulmate, Solomon, says, “A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it…this is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.” Solomon contrasts this scenario with his earlier statement that every man to whom God prospers and gives the divine gift of enjoyment receives blessings, indeed. Holidays have a way of slowing down my soul’s race to acquire the object and turning my eyes toward the Giver of my soul’s redeemed desires.

Interruptions in my work week can illuminate the threads of discontent or the tears in the fabricated beliefs I’ve entertained. The simplicity of following Christ needs no interpretation – if I am faithless, Christ remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). I am therefore unafraid of the future, and I am free to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.”

So Lord Jesus Christ, resurrected Savior and lover of my soul, I am pleased to be interrupted with holy days that urge me to focus on You. Like King David, I can praise (Psalm 30:11, 12).

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my        sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise            to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

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Filed under 2 Timothy, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ecclesiastes, Leviticus, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Esther 7-10; Revelation 3

It may be a stretch to individualize the prophetic letters to the churches mentioned in Revelation, but all Scripture speaks to me as if I’m sitting across from Jesus Christ listening. So even in the different declarations to each of the seven churches of Revelation, I hear His voice speaking correction, affirmation, and motivation to the current state of my soul.

I am comforted by Revelation 3:1-6 “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Yet, you have a few names…” (those who have not soiled their garments) “who through righteous acts will walk with Christ in white, for they are worthy.” This admonition reminds me that creeping pride of going to a great church, reminiscing about the good works I was happy to do, or taking even the smallest joy at being noticed for those works can escalate into self-righteousness and self-absorption.  How do I discern righteous acts from dead works?

Remember how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.

Revelation 3:7-13 reminds me of my soul’s timid nature. “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” I cannot deny the great name of Christ; yet I confess that I am helped by His Spirit to declare His words when my voice is but a whisper. I keep walking through these doors – changes in locations, jobs, relationships, purpose. Sometimes the change was not what I expected and definitely not what I would choose for myself. So how can I step over the next threshold?

Hold fast what you have.

Sometimes it seems easier to play it safe. Fly under the radar. I regulate my emotions so that my thoughts and behaviors do not ruffle feathers; I agree and nod in approval to keep the peace, believing I am modeling a gentle spirit. But that is not what God has called me to do. He says in Revelation 3:14-22, “I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot…you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” It isn’t hard to determine the cause of inertia, but what is one to do?

Be zealous and repent; when you hear My voice, open the door.

Funny, but Christ’s admonitions do not create fear or discouragement. Even when we think that we have lost what He has given, we are reminded that God will bring us victory The messages to these churches are for those who have known Him. This is cause for celebration, and turning destruction into shouts of joy is also found in God’s word.

Esther 9:20 The Feast of Purim – remembrance of God’s deliverance from a day of destruction. “the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.”

Dear Father God, and our Lord Jesus Christ,                                                                                                         In whatever state you find my soul, forgive me for failing you in any way. Restore the truth, comfort, and revelation of Your unstoppable will and purpose for my life, and I will turn the joy of my salvation back into worship and praise. Your presence alone can bring grace and mercy. I pray that this season of celebration is filled with preparations on holding fast to what we have heard and throwing wide open any door that separates us from hearing Your voice. Welcome, come in!

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation, Uncategorized

Ezekiel 4-6; Hebrews 10:1-23

God wants a relationship.

“They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols.” Ezekiel 6:9b, NLT.

He will go to great lengths to have this relationship.

If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.
    But you have given me a body to offer.
You were not pleased with burnt offerings
    or other offerings for sin.
Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—
    as is written about me in the Scriptures.'” Hebrews 10:2-7, NLT.

When he makes a promise, he keeps it.

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23, NLT.

When he says I’m forgiven, I am.

18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. Hebrews 10:18, NLT.

This is my Father God. My Father who pursues me, desires relationship, and loves with a love that won’t end.

Holidays are hard. In the face of feeling unwanted, unseen, unloved, unforgiven, I remind myself of truth–the very opposite of those wounds is healing truth that I am wanted, seen, loved and forgiven. And this is reason for giving thanks–thanksgiving every day.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Numbers 28-29; Mark 9:1-29

Every seventh day…the first day of each month…the 14th day of the first month…the 16th day of the first month…the first day of the seventh month…the 10th day of the seventh month…the 15th to the 22nd of the seventh month…8 days in the ninth month…the 14th and 15th of the 12th month…the beginning of the barley harvest to the 21st day of the month…50 days after the barley harvest…every seven years…the 50th year. These are the times given to the Jews to turn their attention to God.

New Year’s Day, Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Easter, July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. These are special days listed on my calendar that grab my attention.

I’m one of those people who like to decorate for the holidays, make special foods, and wish my family and friends a “Happy ___.” I change my desktop theme to include the colors and images related to each holiday.  I may wear special clothing with symbols or words expressing my joy for the event.  I’ve even been known to make my immediate family wear matching outfits!

How different from the purpose-driven celebrations given to the Jews.  What if God had told me, when I became a Christian, that I should take off approximately 144 days from work, give costly offerings at least 11 times per year to the church, and spend hours and days praying, feasting or fasting, living in tents, and even letting anyone off the hook who owed me anything at least every seven years?  How would I be different in terms of preparation, celebration, and community participation?

How unlike my funny ways of making a to-do about traditional holidays.  You may say, “But what about Christmas and Easter?” Yes, I make a fuss trying to find just the right gift, or more honestly, just buying as many gifts as I have cash in the bank until practically overdrawn.  Gifts for family and friends. Someone might say, “Well, doesn’t that mean that you are operating in the ‘spirit’ of the holiday; that is, the spirit of giving?”

Offerings to God or giving gifts to man.  Are most of my efforts focused on producing smiles, oohs, and aahs on the faces I love?  I know so. Of course, I want to make those I love happy, and I don’t plan to change my desire to do that.

But what if I had to buy a bull, a ram, or a goat, and give it to someone in the church to watch them kill it, bleed it, cut it up keeping some of the meat for themselves, then burning the rest? What would be the point of that???

In the midst of this hullabaloo, I hear God’s voice, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Obviously, my mind is far removed from the culture, the time period, and the special relationship God had with the Hebrews.  I can only reflect on how often, in what ways, and for what purpose do I set aside time and money to offer in thanksgiving and petition to Jesus Christ.

There is not a day that can go by that I cannot heed that Voice. Like Peter, James, and John, I want to add to my holiday experience how “Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.”

Janet

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Filed under 66 Books, Mark, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament