66 in 52 Challenge

1 Samuel – Week 9 {66 in 52 Challenge}

This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I plan to focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Week 9 - 1 Samuel

1 Samuel in One Sentence:

“Human leaders rise and fall, but God is consistently good.” – From NewSpring Church’s Article: “Everything You Need to Know about 1 Samuel”

The Big Picture of 1 Samuel:

This book begins with the story surrounding Samuel’s birth. After years of barrenness, Samuel’s mother Hannah gives birth and dedicates Samuel to serve in the temple. By chapter three Samuel is raised up as a prophet among the Israelites. Continuing through the book we see Samuel doing his best to lead the people. When they demand a king, he warns them it may not be the best option, but they are relentless and the Lord leads Samuel to anoint the first King of Israel, Saul. We see Saul’s leadership and ultimately David (Boaz and Ruth’s great-grandson) is anointed as the king to follow Saul. David’s kingship doesn’t begin immediately though. Before he takes the throne (in 2 Samuel), we hear accounts of David’s life including the infamous story of David and Goliath, along with years running from Saul who was trying to take his life.

1 Samuel Events Mentioned in the Psalms:

Many of the events narrated in 1 and 2 Samuel are also mentioned in various Psalms (songs). You might consider reading some of these Psalms along side the events in Samuel. (List found at esv.org)

  • 1 Samuel 19:11 – David’s house surrounded – Psalm 59
  • 1 Samuel 21:10-11 – David seized by Achish – Psalm 56
  • 1 Samuel 21:12-22:1 -David escapes from Achish/Abimelech – Psalm 34
  • 1 Samuel 22:1, 24:3 – David in a cave – Psalm 57, 142
  • 1 Samuel 22:9-19 – Doeg the Edomite – Psalm 52
  • 1 Samuel 23:14-15 – Desert of Judah – Psalm 63
  • 1 Samuel 23:19 – David betrayed by Ziphites – Psalm 54

A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

  • “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24
    REFLECTION: What great things has God done for you? How do those things lead you toward wanting to serve Him faithfully?
  • “…But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6b
    REFLECTION: What does it look like for you to find your strength in God?
  • “Do not look his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
    REFLECTION: What does God see as he looks at your heart today? Is that the same as what the world sees on the outside or do you find yourself wearing a mask? Where are you looking at the outward appearance of others instead of the heart?
  • “Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” 1 Samuel 7:12
    REFLECTION: What kind of “Ebenezer” stone do you need to place where you are right now? What are some ways you’ve seen God as a “stone of help” in your life thus far?

1 Samuel in God’s Big Story and My Story:

(Adapted from NewSpring Church’s Article: “Everything You Need to Know about 1 Samuel”)

  • God has plans that we can’t understand and often accomplishes them in ways that don’t make sense to us.
  • The people wanted a King, despite God knowing it wasn’t best, God gave them what they wanted. Sometimes God gives us what we want even when it’s not best for us.
  • God is our ultimate King. No matter what authorities we have on earth, God’s reign is forever!
  • The choices we make in life both impact and reflect the character of our soul.

Some Other Resources:

The Challenge:

So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

66 in 52 Challenge

Ruth – Week 8 {66 in 52 Challenge}

This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I plan to focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Week 8 - Ruth

The Big Picture of Ruth:

Ruth is the shortest book of the Bible we’ve encountered so far on the journey. Within the first verses we see that this book takes place during the time we were just reading about in Judges. A famine came upon the land and this is one family’s story of how they dealt with it. Facinating is that the book’s namesake is actually a foreigner who ends up marrying into God’s people and is part of the lineage that leads to David and then to Christ. In these four short chapters we see some of the laws God commanded in earlier books put into action, specifically those meant to protect and provide for widows and others in need.

People in the Book of Ruth:

One of things I find most facinating about the book of Ruth is the meanings of the names of the people we are introduced to. Some meanings are given even in the storyline. Here are the key players and the meanings of their names:

  • Elimelech (Naomi’s Husband) – my God is King
  • Naomi (Elimilech’s wife) – pleasantness
    Mara (later in the book Naomi changes her name to Mara for a while) – bitterness
  • Mahlon (Elimelech and Namoi’s Son) – sickly, weakness
  • Kilion (Elimelech and Namoi’s Son) – failing, pining
  • Orpah (Naomi’s daughter-in-law) – back of the neck, stubbornness
  • Ruth (Naomi’s daughter-in-law) – friend, companion
  • Boaz (Ruth’s husband…eventually) – in him there is strength
  • Obed (Boaz and Ruth’s Son) – servant

A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

  • “The Lord repay you what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Ruth 2:12
    REFLECTION: What does it look like for you to take refuge in God today?
    • “I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:16
      REFLECTION: Have you ever felt like Naomi did when she said this? What was going on? If you’re past that season, how did restoration happen? If you’re in this season right now, spend some time telling God about it and asking Him to fill you again.
    • “And now, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.” Ruth 3:11
      REFLECTION: What about you would show others that you are a worthy or noble man or woman? Who is someone else you would characterize the way Boaz did Ruth? 

    God’s Grace in Ruth:

    The story starts out pretty rough. Within the first five verses a famine has caused the family to flee to another country as refugees and three women have been widowed. Despite all of that, I see the book of Ruth as one of provision. God provided Ruth and Orpah with a loving mother-in-law who obviously taught them about her God. God provided Naomi with Ruth who stuck by her in the hardest of times to provide for her. God provided food for Ruth and Naomi along with protection in Boaz’ field, not to mention an end to the famine. God provided companionship for Boaz who seems to have felt like he had given up on that dream completely. God provided a son to carry on the family name. And ultimately, at the end of the book, these people will play key roles in the lineage of David, out of which comes our Savior, Jesus.

    Some Other Resources:

    The Challenge:

    So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

    66 in 52 Challenge, Bekah's Heart, Devotional

    Reflections on Judges – Not My Generation!

    For me, the entire book of Judges can be summed up in this verse found early on in the book:

    “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

    I find it hard to even describe my thoughts and feelings as I read this verse, because I feel like we’re living somewhere in the middle of it today. I look at my generation (as well as the one after us) and I sadly see these two things true of us as a generation:

    • We don’t know or acknowledge the Lord.
    • We don’t remember the things He has done for us.

    Of course, there are exceptions (I certainly hope I am one of them!) but as a generation, we don’t know God.

    Then, to go on and read the rest of this book with that in mind, fear starts to creep in a bit. With these two things defining their generation suddenly things like murder, idolatry, rape, deception flood the story line. When we don’t know God and don’t remember what He has done, life gets pretty overwhelming pretty quick.

    The repeating cycle in Judges continues today individually as well as generationally: we follow God for a while, then we don’t. We walk our own way until our lives get so horrible we can’t take it anymore and then we cry out for help. Of course, God, in His never-ending love and mercy, rescues us and sets us on the right path again. But, after a while, we forget again and turn our own way.

    I’m sick of the cycle and I guess I don’t want to be part of a generation defined by our wandering. But even worse than that, I don’t want to be the generation the first part of the verse mentioned. It’s easy to skim over, but I think the reason the next generation didn’t know God or remember what He had done for Israel, was because the generation before them didn’t tell them.

    If the generation after me doesn’t know God, that’s not on them. That’s MY generation’s fault. How can they “remember” the mighty works of God if they’ve never heard them? How can they know and acknowledge God if they’ve never been taught?

    Oh, I see so much of God’s grace in the book of Judges, but I also feel some conviction. I sense the Holy Spirit motivating me to not only be part of a generation that knows and remembers Him, but that makes sure the next generation has that opportunity as well. I want to be part of a time in history where, thousands of years from now, people can look back and say THOSE people acknowledged God in their lives! I want to be defined as a generation who knows God and makes Him known. I want to see passion in the next generation to follow God greater than their sinful nature to wander away.

    Our God is big enough to break the cycle in this generation. I’m ready and willing to join in on that work!

    Crossroads, School of the Week, Youth Ministry

    Niagara Wheatfield High School {School of the Week 17-18}

    This week we thank God for and pray for Niagara Wheatfield!

    Fast Facts:

    • School Opened in 1958
    • Grades 9-12
    • Mascot: Falcons
    • Colors: Black, Red, and White

    Prayers:

    • Pray for all the students of Niagara Wheatfield, but especially our First Trinity high school students: Jake, Michael, and Lovelie. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
    • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
      Principal: Michael Mann
      Assistant Principals: Paul Galgovich and Jeffrey White
      Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
    • Pray for the students who are sports teams or in music programs that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

    2018-02-04 11.37.23.png

    66 in 52 Challenge

    Judges – Week 7 {66 in 52 Challenge}

    This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I plan to focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Week 7 - Judges

    The Big Picture of Judges:

    At some point along the line I found myself underlining the same 5 phrases over and in the book of Judges. While there are many fascinating stories and situations throughout the book, much of the book describes how people cycle again and again through these five phases:

    • The people sin/do evil/wander from God’s law.
    • God gets mad and sends them away.
    • The people cry out and repent.
    • God sends a deliverer to save them.
    • There is peace.

    After Joshua dies (and really we see this before all the way back to Genesis), this process repeats again and again. God’s people get swept up into sin and despite God’s call for them to come back, they don’t. God is not willing to let His people go and will fight for them, even if that means letting hard things happen to them. But He hears their call and sends a deliverer, a “judge”, to save them in their oppression and bring them back.

    Some of the Judges Written About in this Book:

    • Othniel (Judges 3)
    • Ehud (Judges 3)
    • Shmgar (Judges 3)
    • Deborah (Judges 4-5)
    • Gideon (Judges 6-8)
    • Tola (Judges 10)
    • Jair (Judges 10)
    • Jephthah (Judges 10-12)
    • Izban (Judges 12)
    • Elon (Judges 12)
    • Abdon (Judges 12)
    • Samson (Judges 13-16)

    A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

    Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

    • “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who neither knew the Lord not what He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)
      REFLECTION:What small thing can you do this week to make sure that the generation after us knows the Lord and what He has done for us?
    • “After ___ died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” (Judges 4:1 and many other places again and again throughout the book)
      REFLECTION:Like God’s people we find ourselves falling again and again into sin. What are the areas that Satan most often trips you up?
    • “The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)
      REFLECTION:What is God calling you to do where you feel like you just don’t have the strength or energy to complete the task? Where do you need to “go in the strength you {DO} have” and trust that He is faithful as He sends you?

    God’s Grace in Judges:

    As I said back in the first section, again and again and again God’s people wandered into sin, and again and again and again, God heard their cries and saved them. Each of these Judges foreshadows not only God the Father as the Ultimate Judge, but also Jesus, our Ultimate Savior. The rescue and deliverance each of these judges brought was only temporary, but later a Savior came that defeated sin once and for all. Despite our unfaithfulness, God is always faithful.

    Some Other Resources:

    The Challenge:

    So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

    66 in 52 Challenge

    Reflections on Joshua

    Earlier this week I had a chance to chat for a while with a friend who is also reading through Bible as part of the 66 in 52 challenge. We were supposed to meet with our Life Group through church but we were the only two who showed up. Instead of spending our time in Ephesians we found ourselves sharing what we had been learning through the first 6 books of the Bible so far.

    One thing we found ourselves reflecting on was how overwhelming it must have been for both Moses and Joshua to lead. At the time of the last census there were hundreds of thousands of men over the age of 20 which indicates likely at least a couple million people when you add in women and children. As we start the book of Joshua we’re seeing another generation which means potentially even more people. I can’t even fathom trying to lead that many people. It’s one thing to “lead” in the sense that a mayor of a large city might “lead” that many people, but Moses and Joshua were LITERALLY leading people from one place to another. As my friend put it, “Some days it’s hard enough just to lead my FT Kids small group, I can’t imagine trying to lead millions”.

    It is no wonder that God repeats this message to Joshua over and over throughout his life:

    “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. I will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

    While that message stood out, there was another verse in this book that I just can’t stop thinking about. It comes later in the book as the people are beginning to settle into Canaan. The name “Promised Land” gains even more meaning as I read this truth:

    “The Lord promised to do many good things for Israel, and He kept His promise every time.” (Joshua 21:45; emphasis added)

    We serve a Promise Keeper. He is faithful and good. He is powerful and mighty. He is loving and compassionate. He is just and merciful. HE KEEPS HIS PROMISES EVERY TIME!

    When I remember these truths I am empowered to live bold and to serve even in hard situations. Whether God calls me to lead millions like Joshua or shovel snow for my neighbor, I can be obedient because I serve One who keeps His promises 100% of the time. Jen Hatmaker once said it this way:

    “It is safe to be faithful to a faithful God.”

    One of my favorite things to do to help hide God’s Word in my heart is to personalize it. This is a fun verse to do that with. Go ahead and replace your name for “Israel” and speak this truth to your heart today.

    “The Lord promised to do many good things for Rebekah,
    and He kept His promise every time.”

    Amen! Let it be so! May we be strong and take courage without fear for whatever God is calling us to this week. He promises to go with you and He never fails!

    Crossroads, School of the Week, Youth Ministry

    Mount St. Mary Academy {School of the Week 17-18}

    This week we thank God for and pray for Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore!

    Fast Facts:

    • Founded 1927
    • Grades 9-12
    • Mascot: Thunder
    • Colors: Blue and White

    Prayers:

    • Pray for all the students of Mount St. Mary, but especially our First Trinity high school students: Ana and Emma. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
    • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
      Principal: Mrs. Dawn Riggie
      Assistant Principals: Mrs. Jennifer Pitz-Jones, Ms. Marissa Dauria, Mrs. Julie Wojick
      Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
    • Pray for the students who are sports teams or in music programs that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

    2018-02-05 07.08.48