Tag Archives: loved

1 Kings 3; Ephesians 1; Ezekiel 34; Psalm 83, 84

My husband will ask for a list of gift ideas near a gift-giving occasion. Some families go big on birthdays, but we’ve chosen to go small: one gift (which actually became two when the kids wanted in on giving, so really, two gifts). Ideas can range from really practical (like cookware) to pleasurable (like perfume). When the Lord asks Solomon what he wants, I lean in.

That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” (1 Kings 3:5, NLT)

I paused. I wondered: what would I ask?

“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:7-14, NLT, emphasis added)

Solomon chose practical over pleasurable. He knew he needed discernment to govern well and that he was faced with an important responsibility. I value that he chose with a kingdom focus (not only an immediate kingdom, but one that would outlive him). And I love God’s response: that and more.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. (Ephesians 1:3-14, NLT, emphasis added)

I realized I don’t really let my mind go free in the possibilities, that I don’t go big or small with God. Sometimes, I don’t even ask. And now I wonder: why?

Lord, I want to praise and glorify you with my life. Help me to come to you and ask. I know I trust you, so why don’t I ask? I know you love me, so why don’t I ask? I know you’re generous, so why don’t I ask? I know when I draw near to you, you meet me. Thank you for your word to remind me I am chosen and dearly loved. You call me yours, and that truly is a gift.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 12; Romans 10; Jeremiah 49; Psalms 26,27

Unless I’m researching a specific topic, my favorite stop at the library is its new inventory section. This is the spot that piques my interest to reach for books I’d probably never consider (or even know of their existence). A recent loaner on gluten-free pizza was a delightful meal changer for us this summer. And a title in tobacco- and white-colored letters peeking off a black spine changed my heart for good: Not Forsaken by Louie Giglio. I checked it out without even perusing the description.

22 “The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.” (1 Samuel 12:22, NLT)

Turns out, Not Forsaken is about God and why he’s the perfect father. And in only the way God can, he puts this book in my hands at the right time to tell me how much he loves me, and how valued I am as a daughter–his daughter. Chosen. Dearly loved. Not forsaken.

“The six hours in the span of history when Jesus hung on the cross say more about you than all the rest of the hours in history put together. And without a doubt, the cross says God so loves you.” (Giglio, 131)

Not abandoned.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me.
    Do not reject your servant in anger.
    You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
    O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
    Lead me along the right path,
    for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
    For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
    with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. (Psalm 27:8-14, NLT)

For every lie an enemy speaks over my life, the Lord slays it with his truththe truth.

For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
    and I have lived according to your truth.
I do not spend time with liars
    or go along with hypocrites.
I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
    and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
    I come to your altar, O Lord,
singing a song of thanksgiving
    and telling of all your wonders.
I love your sanctuary, Lord,
    the place where your glorious presence dwells. (Psalm 26:3-8, NLT)

You loved me first, Lord, and I love you back.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

What does warfare look like? A plain pulsing with enemies armed for battle.

All these kings came out to fight. Their combined armies formed a vast horde. And with all their horses and chariots, they covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore. The kings joined forces and established their camp around the water near Merom to fight against Israel. (Joshua 11:4-5, NLT)

Deep waters pummeling and pulling down to steal one’s very breath.

Reach down from heaven and rescue me;
    rescue me from deep waters,
    from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
    they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead. (Psalm 144:7-8, NLT)

And maybe warfare doesn’t look like a field of foes or an undertow force sucking and dragging–maybe it looks like apathy, satiety, lust. Maybe it’s not an army without, but an enemy within.

For their rebellion is great,
    and their sins are many.

“How can I pardon you?
    For even your children have turned from me.
They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all!
    I fed my people until they were full.
But they thanked me by committing adultery
    and lining up at the brothels.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation? (Jeremiah 5:6b-9, NLT)

When face to face with Jesus, he will shed light upon the things one truly values.

20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:20-22, NLT)

My strength is in Christ; the victory is the Lord’s.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men. Then you must cripple their horses and burn their chariots.”

So Joshua and all his fighting men traveled to the water near Merom and attacked suddenly. And the Lord gave them victory over their enemies. (Joshua 11:6-8, NLT)

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.

He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
    He makes the nations submit to me. (Psalm 144:1-2, NLT)

Listen, you foolish and senseless people,
    with eyes that do not see
    and ears that do not hear.
22 Have you no respect for me?
    Why don’t you tremble in my presence?
I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline
    as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross.
The waves may toss and roar,
    but they can never pass the boundaries I set.

23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
    They have turned away and abandoned me.
24 They do not say from the heart,
    ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
    assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
    Your sin has robbed you of all these good things. (Jeremiah 5:21-25, NLT)

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26, NLT)

Obedience to God and following Christ, letting go of strongholds and seeking with a whole heart … The walk with Christ is not easy–it is war, a war for my heart and soul. Do I recognize the battlefield?

Lord, you came to set me free, to give me a new heart, to give me victory in you. You value my whole heart, and I want my life to honor and celebrate you, with full expression and joy of my heart. Thank you for caring enough (so much!) about me to promise me you’ll never forsake me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 4; Psalms 129-131; Isaiah 64; Matthew 12

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them …” (Joshua 4:1-7a, NIV)

Tell them of what the Lord has done. Tell of his faithfulness. Tell of his protection. Tell of his guidance and wisdom. Tell of his strength. Tell of his goodness. Tell of his provision. Tell of his mercy. Tell of his redemption.

I cleaned out a section of weeds from the rock garden, and my youngest daughter waited to haul out the wheelbarrow full of vines. While she waited, she balanced rocks, one upon another. Along the brick border, stacks of rocks, like an army.

Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war. (Joshua 4:10-13, NIV)

June was a month of ending and beginning. One story ends.

18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before. (Joshua 4:18, NIV)

They crossed through that water by God’s way, in his strength and might. When they were across, the water returned as though they had never passed through. But they had, one side to another. The water flowed like it had before. But they were different. And this, I know.

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
    let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
    but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
    and made their furrows long.
But the Lord is righteous;
    he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” (Psalm 129:1-4, NIV)

I praise God for bringing me through. I can look back at the waters flowing, like they were never touched, and wonder: did I just walk through that? Was that real? But here I stand, on the other side. Thank you, God.

I put my hope in the Lord, now and forevermore.

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50, NIV)

A new story begins. I let go and I don’t fall. I’m held. And I always was.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption. (Psalm 130:5-7, NIV)

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 20; Psalm 25; Ecclesiastes 3; 1 Timothy 5

The subheading in Leviticus 20 is “Punishments for Disobedience.” There’s a long list of disobedient acts, and the punishment in many cases is death, rejection, or loss. The punishment for sin has always been death, rejection, and loss.

The things he warns against–a defilement of life, of spirit, of body and of mind. He values life, spirit, body, and mind; and he wants (us) to value them too.

So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep all my decrees by putting them into practice, for I am the Lord who makes you holy.

24 But I have promised you, ‘You will possess their land because I will give it to you as your possession—a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from all other people.

26 You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own. (Leviticus 20:7-8, 24, 26, NLT)

David’s psalm is worship, a declaration of trust. The whole of it, an acknowledgment of God’s goodness.

O Lord, I give my life to you.
    I trust in you, my God! (Psalm 25:1-2, NLT)

David worships God for his mercy, compassion, righteousness, leadership, and unfailing love. God is good. God is trustworthy.

Ecclesiastes tells of time. When read with a lens of God’s goodness and trustworthiness, I can see his hand in all things. He is in control.

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.

14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. 15 What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again. (Ecclesiastes 3:10-15, NLT)

No one who trusts in you, Lord, will ever be disgraced.

Thank you, Lord, for loving me enough to choose me, for loving me so much to guide me and teach me and show me the way. You did not put me in this world to figure it out on my own. I put my hope in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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