Tag Archives: Story

2 Kings 9-10; 2 Chronicles 21; 1 Thessalonians 1

A young prophet was given instructions for an important task–to deliver a message and run (for his life!).

So Jehu left the others and went into the house. Then the young prophet poured the oil over Jehu’s head and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anoint you king over the Lord’s people, Israel. You are to destroy the family of Ahab, your master. In this way, I will avenge the murder of my prophets and all the Lord’s servants who were killed by Jezebel. The entire family of Ahab must be wiped out. I will destroy every one of his male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. I will destroy the family of Ahab as I destroyed the families of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 Dogs will eat Ahab’s wife Jezebel at the plot of land in Jezreel, and no one will bury her.” Then the young prophet opened the door and ran (2 Kings 9:6-10, NLT).

Jehu was tasked with an important role the Lord had appointed, and to fulfill the words the Lord commanded, an instrument in the Lord’s vengeance. The suspense builds as troops approach.

Then King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah rode out in their chariots to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of land that had belonged to Naboth of Jezreel. 22 King Joram demanded, “Do you come in peace, Jehu?”

Jehu replied, “How can there be peace as long as the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother, Jezebel, are all around us? (2 Kings 9:21-22, NLT, emphasis mine)”

Jehu was obedient to the Lord’s command as I read of the ensuing bloodbath and destruction. However:

28 In this way, Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel. 29 He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin.

30 Nonetheless the Lord said to Jehu, “You have done well in following my instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation.” 31 But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit (2 Kings 10:28-31, NLT).

Destroying the gold calves would have been the easiest of all the things he had to do. Why did he destroy every trace of Baal worship but not these? How did he justify salvaging the golden calves? Was it easier to see idolatry in someone else than it was to recognize it in himself? It seems possible that one can love and serve the Lord, but not with all his heart. Oh, how can there be peace as long as idolatry is around?

Jehu had a story of purpose and might, a story punctuated with a pivotal however. In 2 Chronicles 21, Jehoram is designated successor king because he’s the oldest, kills off his brothers and marries one of Ahab’s daughters. He’s also known for doing evil in the Lord’s sight. When Jehoram dies a miserable death, no one mourns him and he is not buried in the royal cemetery. Jehoram’s story speaks of his heart, focus and desire.

In 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul writes of a people’s reputation:

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, 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 (1 Thessalonians 1:8-9, NLT).

Not only did they turn away from idols to serve the living and true God, but they kept their focus on His kingdom and eagerly awaited his return.

Lord, show me places of my heart that I haven’t given you. Remind me when my focus strays.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 9-12; Luke 3

Lord, let me build my altar to you.

Ancestry–a lineage from Adam to Jesus. In these passages, I linger in Noah’s story. I witness a tower project–and a scattering. I travel territories with Abram. He stops. I notice what he does.

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord. Then Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev (Genesis 12:7-9, NLT).

I’ve read lots of reflection on a finished year, and I consider my own. In a digital age, the altars are images and words. Am I making monuments of milestones–or altars of angst? Still fresh, coming out of a year-end reading of Job and Revelation, was 2018 the year I lost (a sense of everything) or the year I was restored?

Ancestry–a lineage in a genetic test kit. I read my results with wonder. I think of sea views and mountain views and snowy valleys–journeys traveled through the ages leading here. This place. My place in the story of a history.

Lord, let me build my altar to you, grateful for your work in me and in my life.

I celebrate your majesty, your sovereignty, your faithfulness and love. I worship you here. Thank you for restoring me. You are near, and I am thankful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 18-20; Psalm 141; Revelation 15

Empty offers. Canceled plans. Things unspoken, withheld, erased. You aren’t worth it. You don’t matter. These are the words I’ve heard over the years from family and friends, spoken through their tone and by their actions. These are the words an enemy said to me over and over. They became the filter I used to look at my place in life and in relationships, and I hardly knew it. That belief took me to dark places: From I feel lonely to I am alone; from I feel overlooked to I am invisible. I see it in Job, his own thoughts change from a once confidence in God to:

“How long will you torture me?
    How long will you try to crush me with your words?
You have already insulted me ten times.
    You should be ashamed of treating me so badly.
Even if I have sinned,
    that is my concern, not yours.
You think you’re better than I am,
    using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.
But it is God who has wronged me,
    capturing me in his net.

“I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me.
    I protest, but there is no justice.
God has blocked my way so I cannot move.
    He has plunged my path into darkness.
He has stripped me of my honor
    and removed the crown from my head.
10 He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished.
    He has uprooted my hope like a fallen tree (Job 19:2-10, NLT, emphasis added).

Hey, Job, maybe you didn’t know this, but in the beginning of your story: God thought a lot of  you.

He put a hedge of protection around you, but you didn’t know it. All the crazy and loss and pain going on around you made it hard to see. But maybe when you look back, you’ll see you were held.

He thought you could withstand this. And I wonder, if you had known … if you had told yourself those things instead, what would your testimony be?

When I read Job, I don’t always know what to think, but it certainly has me thinking this time around: What are others telling me? What am I telling myself? What is the truth?

Lord, I need to be grounded in YOUR truth to know the truth. I want eyes to see, ears to hear, and a humbled heart to accept what is. I want to tell myself the truth. And when life doesn’t look the way I thought it should or hoped it would, I want to look to You and ask with expectation, “So, what do You have planned instead?” I’m so thankful that anything that happens is under your notice and watch–crazy, loss and pain can have new meaning and purpose.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 16-18; Matt.19:16-30

I sat down with a heavy heart to have lunch with a friend. She listened and told me that we all have things we wish were not a part of our story. It felt like a weight was lifted . There are times when I wish my life would read like one of those mystery novels I read as a kid. The ones where I could change the ending. Instead of giving the control over to God and trusting that He will weave beauty into it…I hold on to it, I complain and gripe. But, I have come to realize that is a part of my story too, the wrestling with God in an honest and authentic way. It’s OK, He hears my complaints, like He heard the Israelites. He wanted the Israelites to know, like He wants me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that…

It is God who brought you out of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the Glory of God. Yes, he’s listened to your complaints against him. You haven’t been complaining against us, you know, but against God.” Exodus 16:6&7 MSG.

Because the thing is, if the bad/ugly parts were not in my story…than redemption, restoration and the freedom that only Jesus can bring, wouldn’t be a part of my story either. These are the times when I really meet with Him, where my relationship with Him is so tight because I know that I can’t do it on my own…as many times as I try.

He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go…Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Matt. 19:22&26 MSG

What am I really giving up if I get to know the one who made me intimately? Am I afraid I will miss out or miss the boat?…“God knows how everything will turn out. And, for every single person who belongs to Him,it turns out well. We are not the exceptions” (Beth Moore, James).

Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields-whatever-because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:28-30 MSG

Dear Jesus, Thank you for Your faithfulness, Your unfailing love. I am thankful for how I have seen Your hand throughout my life. I want to know You. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 42-43; Matthew 13:33-58

…He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you…” Genesis 43:23

When I go into the villages to share the gospel, I often tell a story of hidden treasure:

Every day a farmer goes to the landowner’s fields with his ox and plow to work the land. Every day he guides his ox up one row and down another. It is a boring job that he can do almost without paying attention.

He plows each row, daydreaming about the things he’d love to be doing if he had the chance. Up and down. Up and down.

THUMP!

Shocked out of his fantasies, he wondered what the plow had hit. He left the ox and plow where they stood and walked a few steps back to the spot.

He knelt down in the dirt, and with his hand slowly began moving away the soil. Piece by piece…lump by lump…until his fingers touched a hard object at the bottom of the hole he had dug. He pulled an iron pot out of the earth. It was small, black and dirty. He lifted the lid and looked into the vessel.

He was amazed at what he saw.

He looked around to see if anyone was watching. When he saw that he was alone, he reached into the pot and pulled out gold and silver. He pulled out diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires and pearls and other gems he didn’t even have names for. There was more treasure in the small pot then he could ever imagine.

He quickly put the treasure back into the pot, closing the lid tightly. He put the pot back into the earth. Then he covered the pot with the soil and put a stone above the place to mark it. He walked to the ox and plow and started to work again.

The whole rest of the day he couldn’t stop thinking about what he had found. The treasure amounted to a fortune that he could never earn. He couldn’t just take it; that would be stealing. By evening, he knew what he had to do.

The next day he sold his family cow, and the goats, and the chickens. His sons were irritated when they saw their inheritance was gone. Then he sold all of the things inside his hut – the sleeping mats, the blankets and pillows, even the cooking pots. His daughters were annoyed that they no longer had a dowry. And last, he sold his hut. His wife was outraged that their family was now homeless. Everyone in the village thought he’d gone crazy. But he didn’t care. He knew something that they didn’t.

He took the small amount of money he’d been able to collect to the man who hired him to plow the land each day.

“It’s not a lot of money, but it is everything I have to give. Will you sell this land to me?” He asked.

The piece of land the farmer asked to buy was small compared to some of the landowner’s other plots. Though there was a trickling stream running through the corner of the land, the earth there wasn’t strong or healthy and it had never given a profitable harvest. The landowner thought the farmer was a little peculiar but agreed to the price and sold him the land.

The farmer immediately walked to the field he now owned. He went to the spot he’d marked with the stone and swiftly uncovered the treasure that now belonged to him. He was full of joy at the great gift that he had found. And he couldn’t wait to share the good news with his family.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

The greatest treasure I have ever found is the gift of Christ’s sacrifice for me on the cross, His death and resurrection…salvation. It is what allows me to truly experience joy, and I have given everything I have to have access to that treasure.

And at the same time, I believe that Jesus looked at me as the treasure, covered in muck and miry clay, hidden in sin. He wanted me to be His for eternity, so He gave up everything, sold it all joyfully, so that He could buy the field I was buried in and claim me as His own.

Yesappa, Thank You…

Blessings – Julie (written in Sholavandan)

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, Genesis, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament