It sounds like depression. It sounds like grief. It sounds like despair.
Declare me innocent, O God! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars. 2 For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies? (Psalm 43:1-2, NLT)
It sounds like hope.
3 Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. 4 There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!
5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! (Psalm 43:3-5, NLT)
It reminds me that when times are dark and pressing in and on, when it feels like God has turned his back, that there is light and truth. There is joy. There is hope.
Circumstances and feelings don’t tell the full story. I turn to God’s unchanging word for truth and guidance. I am reminded of who he is and who I am.
30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said,
“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” (Romans 9:30-33, NLT)
Lord, I am so thankful for your words in my hands. You are timeless and true. Your word is living and active. I sit in this space today, glad for quiet and time to drink in truth. Thank you for wisdom. Thank you for mercy and grace.
“If you don’t know, then you don’t know.” It’s a phrase a friend captions online on shared images of movies or other images from the past. Some of the images I don’t recognize at all, and think to myself, I guess I’ll never know (unless I wanted to ask, and I don’t feel I need to). Some things I don’t need to know, and some things I do.
The Bible reminds me book after book of all the things God said would happen. Reminds me so I will know what He said would happen actually happened, so I will know His Word is truth.
5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
8 Then they remembered that he had said this. (Luke 245-8, NLT, emphasis added)
25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrotein the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27, NLT, emphasis added)
15 So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of God, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh. (2 Chronicles 10:15, NLT, emphasis added)
I open His Word like it’s a gift of life itself–with hope, comfort and gratitude. Some people are fortunate to have parents or mentors to speak wisdom and guidance into their lives. But for me, it is a great treasure to have the Bible, Word living and active. His Word is truth. Trustworthy. Sound.
This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, 2 who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
3 God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:1-3, NLT)
If you don’t know, then you don’t know. But you can know.
Lord, you’ve made known (and available) all that you want to make known. You give your word to us–a promise. All through time, you’ve made movement toward man to be in relationship and restore what was broken. You’ve demonstrated your power, sovereignty, faithfulness, trustworthiness, integrity. I can take you at your word. I will run to you, turn to you, seek you. Thank you.
Faithful work … loving deeds … enduring hope. When I read the encouragement poured out in 1 Thessalonians, I imagine a group of believers in life’s sweet spot where it’s easy to be faithful and loving. Understand: they weren’t in a sweet spot, yet a sweetness poured out from them–their faith. They were known by it, and God was known by it.
2 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. 5 For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. 6 So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. 7 As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.
8 And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, 9 for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. 10 And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, NLT, emphasis added)
In a three year drought, faith ignited a fire. Unwavering, confident, expectant faith from knowing God.
30 Then Elijah called to the people, “Come over here!” They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down. 31 He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel, 32 and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the Lord. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons. 33 He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood.
Then he said, “Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood.”
34 After they had done this, he said, “Do the same thing again!” And when they were finished, he said, “Now do it a third time!” So they did as he said, 35 and the water ran around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
38 Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!” (1 Kings 18:30-39, NLT)
(And rains came, ending the drought. Imagine the elation!)
Land is set aside for the tribes of Israel, and I read this piece:
11 This area is set aside for the ordained priests, the descendants of Zadok who served me faithfully and did not go astray with the people of Israel and the rest of the Levites. 12 It will be their special portion when the land is distributed, the most sacred land of all. (Ezekiel 48:11-12, NLT, emphasis added)
These are stories of man’s faith in a faithful God, not in life’s sweet spot, but in drought, in severe suffering, in focused and enduring service. It’s not just a believing faith, but a persistent, confident, expectant, actionable, demonstrable faith.
Lord Jesus, when I am burdened and bear a weight that’s heavy, what pours out of me? A three year drought … I am humbled, when I know a poor night’s sleep and a taunting stress are enough to make me snap. These scriptures remind me to keep a sure and eternal focus.
5 You placed the world on its foundation so it would never be moved. (Psalm 104:5, NLT)
I visited my sister when I was in college. Her husband was military, and they lived on base. She had a neighbor named Renee, and while I was there, Renee would pop over in the mornings, walk right through the kitchen door, pour herself a mug of coffee, and chat with my sister and me at the table. This image took root and life in my mind–and I have been looking for my own Renee ever since.
One day, my sister’s Renee was gone. It’s not just specific to military life–nearly every life is transient. A move. A job change. A church change. A school change. A season may be beautiful, fruitful and sweet, but that in itself won’t make it last forever. Illness, crisis, attitude and interest are all elements that can affect another’s ability to be present. (My mother died from breast cancer, and when my friend Doris was diagnosed, I didn’t know what to say to her–and I was regrettably disappointed in myself because I thought that I should know.)
When I glanced the scriptures earlier this week, thoughts of loyalty, strength and endurance came to mind. But when I read more closely, I also see disappointment, limitations, distractions and weakness.
Solomon, a wise man, a king, was not exempt.
2 The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 3 He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. (1 Kings 11:2-3, NLT)
Paul served the Lord wholeheartedly, but not everyone on the mission field shared his vision.
20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:20-21, NLT)
Lord, you are gentle and kind. You know my heart. You lovingly unfurl my fingers from the grip I have on the way I think things should be, and you show me grace. You show me humility. You are my forever friend. You will never forsake me. You are eager to meet me when I seek you. You sit with me at this table today, and together we can examine what really matters.
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. (Philippians 2:12-16, NLT)
Help me to mature in the woman you want me to be.
Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever. (Psalm 93:5b, NLT)
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)
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” 9 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 truth—the truth.
3 For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. 4 I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. 5 I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands to declare my innocence. I come to your altar, O Lord, 7 singing a song of thanksgiving and telling of all your wonders. 8 I love your sanctuary, Lord, the place where your glorious presence dwells. (Psalm 26:3-8, NLT)
Join us again in 2021 as we read the Bible in a year using a 5-day weekly reading plan. Take the weekends off, or use them to catch up at your own pace.
We hope you’ll journey with us!
Welcome to the club
We’re just regular people reading the Bible to know God better. With insights and commentaries from Christians in various stages of life and their walk with the Lord, we invite you to join us in reading the Bible’s rich truths from start to finish.
Whether it’s your first time here, or you’ve read The Book before, we know God will meet you where you are.
(c) Copyright 2008-2021. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint content in part or completely without written permission. Contact email@example.com for information. Opinions and comments expressed here are not necessarily shared by contributors. 66 Books is not affiliated with any other site.