66 in 52 Challenge

Ezekiel – Week 27 {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 am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts 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! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

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Week 27 - Ezekiel.png

The Big Picture of Ezekiel:

Ezekiel (the person) was a prophet and a priest during a pretty hard time in Judah’s history. He was among the Jews that had been exiled to Babylon. At that time there was hope that perhaps they’d return soon and all would be well. As he lived among his fellow exiles Ezekiel was called by God to tell the people that was not the case. Jerusalem would indeed fall and be destroyed. Once that happened then Ezekiel’s message was able to shift to words of hope and peace.

Dates and Facts about Ezekiel:

  • Ezekiel’s call – 593 B.C. (1:1-2, 3:16)
  • Jerusalem’s destruction ~ 586 B.C.
  • Ezekiel’s last prophecy – 571 B.C.
  • While other prophets mainly talk about Israel’s sinful idolatry and all the ways they have fallen away. While some of that is in Ezekiel it seems he is more focused on reminding God’s people who they are, a people set apart and made holy by God. It’s almost as if He’s reminding the people who they really are beyond and behind the choices they’ve made.
  • Holiness is a big theme in this book, both the holiness and power of God and His need for His people to be holy.
  • From a literary standpoint Ezekiel is a fascinating book as it has many different genres involved including history, prophecy, apocalyptic sections, and even some parables.

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.

  • “He said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.’ As He spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard Him speaking to me.” (Ezekiel 2:1-2)
    REFLECTION: One fascinating thing about these two verses is that God commands something (to stand), but then He actually does it. Have you every seen this in your life, where God calls you to something but then also is the one providing whatever you need to actually do what He says? Where do you need Him to cause you to act this week?
  • “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19)
    REFLECTION: What seems to be “dividing” your heart? What is stealing your attention? Spend sometime in prayer asking God to UNdivide your heart and give you a new spirit that seeks Him and Him alone!
  • “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…” (Ezekiel 34:16)
    REFLECTION: God is and always has been on a search and rescue mission. He longs to bring healing and strength to His people. How might He be calling you to join in His work this week?
  • “He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.'” (Ezekiel 37:3)
    REFLECTION: What feels dry and dead in your life? Where does renewal and restoration feel impossible? Where do you need God’s Spirit to breathe new life?

God’s Grace in Ezekiel:

I have always loved the story of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. It also creeps me out a little but that’s beside the point. In this story God takes Ezekiel to this valley full of bones. He makes him walk throughout it as if to really grasp the deadness in that place. Then God poses a question: “Can these bones live?” I’m not sure how I would have responded, especially to God. It seems like a trick question almost. Ezekiel’s response is not only brilliant but also declares His faith and trust: “O Sovereign Lord, only You know.” He sure didn’t know. These weren’t just dead bodies, these people had been dead a while, everything has decayed all the way down to bones. From that place God lets Ezekiel be a part of His restoration as He invites Ezekiel to prophecy to the bones. As He does Scripture says, “… and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet–a vast army” (vs 10).

He did this as a representation of what He was going to do for the people of God in exile, yet this wasn’t just figurative… people really did rise that day in that valley. It would have been amazing just for one of those sets of bones to be restored to life, but God raised the whole group, a vast army. I think that’s such a great picture of God’s grace, always abundant, always going above and beyond. We often want him to fix this one little part of our life and He wants to overhaul it completely. We just want to feel a little less depressed and he wants to bring us deep and lasting joy. We would be okay with just a little fixing up and, as he mentions many places throughout the book, He wants to give us a complete heart transplant. Abundant grace indeed.

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, Bible Journaling, Devotional

Things Worth Lamenting in 2018

Reading in the book of Lamentations this week has me thinking about what it even means to “lament”. As a noun, the first definition that comes up in a google search is: “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.”  I’ve been pondering throughout this week what is worth lamenting over in our own world. Instantly, that thought alone brought tears to my eyes. It feels there is much to lament and yet it’s something we don’t often do.

To be honest I didn’t want to write this post (let alone post it) because it feels like everything gets so politically charged and what follows is not meant to be political at all. It simply feels like some lamenting is necessary when I look around at our world and my heart breaks. I know there are many complicated sides to all of these issues. I ashamedly have to admit I haven’t done enough research to comment intelligently about most of them. BUT no matter what my opinions or beliefs about any of them, I feel it is worth expressing grief and sorrow on behalf of the people impacted by these issues, situations, and struggles. I may not agree with those impacted or those making decisions or maybe I do. That’s not what this post is about. It’s about looking around this world and weeping with a God who is saddened to see those He created so broken and hurting.

So, for a few moments, I’m going to set aside arguing, debating, and even healthy discussion and simply lament. I invite you to join me and take just a few moments to stop, let yourself have some compassion, and perhaps even cry a little.

Things Worth Lamenting in 2018:

  • Hundreds and hundreds of people dying each month as a result of their drug addiction
  • The 44,400 people a day forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution in their country
  • Depression rates at an all-time high
  • Nearly a half a million of kids in our country alone orphaned and in need of a home, millions around the world living separated from their parents whether from the poor choices of their parents, because of death, due to poverty, or countless other reasons
  • Hundreds of people who die daily because they feel they have no other choice but to end their own life … to escape the terror of war that haunts them after fighting for our freedom in the military, in response to bullying about their sexual orientation or gender, because of financial or marital crisis, or simply because they believe that no one would even miss them
  • The fact that racism is real and many of us who perpetuate this in our culture don’t even know how racist we really are
  • The estimated 40 million human beings on our planet in slavery today
  • Wars around the world that never seem to end
  • The fact that I’m glad it summer because it hopefully means we’ll get a break for a while from what became weekly school shootings

Unfortunately, this isn’t even half of the list I came up with. When thinking of a Biblical lament like those in the book of Lamentations, it isn’t just enough to “be sad” about what’s going on, the grief leads to repentance and action.

I obviously can’t bring world peace, solve all the hunger and slavery issues around the globe, take in every orphaned child, or single-handedly get rid of all government corruption worldwide.

BUT there are things I can do.

There are ways I can bring light to darkness and hope to despair in the lives of those around me. I can inform myself about issues and reach out to those who do have more power than I do to bring about change. I can offer a listening ear to a struggling friend and welcome people into my home. I can advocate and speak up for those who can’t do that for themselves. I can open my life to refugees and orphans and the lonely.  I can repent for the times I’ve judged others and seek reconciliation.

It’s easy in the face of so much hurt and suffering to turn to God and ask “WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING!?!?” But, as Matthew West wrote in a song a few years back, we have to ready to hear what often is His reply: “I did, I created you.”

Some people say that grieving over the hard things in this world is pointless and a waste of time… that “praying isn’t enough.” But, at least in my life, what I’ve found is this: when I allow myself to fully experience the grief and sorrow for the hurt and pain others are suffering in prayer, it WON’T stop there. True lament always eventually leads to action.

It’s not comfortable. It’s not fun. But may I challenge you to join me this week and spend some time in lament. Pour out your heart and then be still and listen. Ask God how He wants to use YOU to make change.

One last thing: When looking at a list like the one I made above, it can also lead to despair instead of action. That’s where these words actually from the book of Lamentations refresh my soul this week:

“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!'” (Lamentations 3:21-24)

We lament… and we hope.

66 in 52 Challenge

Lamentations – Week 26 {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 am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts 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! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

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Week 26 - Lamentations

The Big Picture of Lamentations:

The entire book of Lamentations is in poetic form. It compiles various individual and community laments. Laments like these are found in Psalms as well as almost every other prophetic book (except Haggai) but this is the only book in the Bible that contains only this type of writing. We can’t really tell who the author is though some attribute it to Jeremiah.

Fun Facts about Lamentations:

  • Each of the five laments is 22 verses (except the 3rd one which is 3 sets of 22).
  • The first four are acrostics from the Hebrew alphabet, each verse starting with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
  • These laments are primarily about the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

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.

  • See, O Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious. (Lamentations 1:20)
    REFLECTION: When was the last time you were “distressed” and “in torment”? What was it about? When was the last time you were that distraught over your sin? What might the benefit be of lamenting our sin before God?
  • “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” (Lamentations 3:21-22)
    REFLECTION: What threatens to consume you this week? What is overwhelming and stressful? Spend some time “calling to mind” God’s love and ask him to use that to help you be “not consumed”.
  • “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you and you said, ‘Do not fear.'” (Lamentations 3:55-57)
    REFLECTION: What in your life or world around you is worthy of some lamenting right now? Get our a piece of paper or a journal page and write a lament of your own. (If you want to get fancy like the author of Lamenations you can even use the alphabet to guide you.)

God’s Grace in Lamentations:

As I skimmed through the book preparing to write this blog what caught my attention wasn’t any specific words on the page, rather, it was the concept of the book itself that almost brought me to tears. So many ‘gods’ in our world are impersonal demanding you to meet some impossible standard and walking away when you don’t. But our God, the hearer of these laments and our own, He leans in even closer in those times. He not only hears our laments but listens and responds. Whether our hard situations are our own fault, at the hand of someone else, or just the reality of living in a fallen world, He stands ready to listen and pour out His love. That’s grace right there!

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

Jeremiah – Week 24 and 25 {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 am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts 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! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

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Week 24 - Jeremiah 1-25

Week 25 - Jeremiah 26-52

The Big Picture of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah is another prophet who was called by God to be “a prophet to the nations” (1:5). Like many of us, he wasn’t so sure had the right guy, yet ended up following God not only in warning His people about potential exile but also sharing direction on how to live well in exile. In short, the people of Israel had broken God’s covenant and God was calling them back to obedience. The first 24 chapters outline the areas where the people and leaders are outside of the life God has for them. In chapter 25 we transition and Jeremiah prophesies that Babylon is coming to take the people captive for 70 years which happens later on in the book. In the middle though we see a few chapters filled with prophesies of hope reminding the people it won’t always be this way.

Outline of Jeremiah:

  • 1 – Jeremiah called to be prophet
  • 2-24 – Warnings to Judah
  • 25-29 – Foretelling the Babylonian Exile
  • 30-33 – Promises of Restoration
  • 34-35 – Historical Information
  • 36-38 – Jeremiah Suffers
  • 39-45 – The Fall of Jerusalem and the aftermath
  • 46-49 – Prophesies against other nations
  • 50-51 – Prophesies against Babylon
  • 51 – Historical Information

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 gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
    REFLECTION: God also knew YOU before you were born and set you apart for work in His Kingdom. Ask God what He made you for and spend some time listening to His response.
  • “‘For I know the plans I have you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not ot harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
    REFLECTION: While many know this verse, few know the context. Spend some time reading all of chapter 29. What new insight does this bring this verse put in the context of a people in exile for seventy years? How might that exile bring about the true hope and future God desires for His people?
  • “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
    REFLECTION: What might it look like for you to call out to God this week? What answers do you hope He provides? What “great and unsearchable things has He been showing you recently?

God’s Grace in Jeremiah:

Exile as a response to the people’s disobedience doesn’t seem very graceful, but, as I’ve mentioned before, God’s heart is for his people. He will do whatever it takes to get His people back even if that involves some hard and painful things. He tries first to win them back with His love, but when that doesn’t happen as in this situation, sometimes He allows bad things to happen to draw them back. He is patiently pursuing his children who have wandered again and again and again. He still dreams big dreams for them even in their most rebellious places.  He brings justice against those who hurt them and restores them to their place as His children. Through it all He never disowns them, even when the turn away from Him. Again and again He says, “I will be their God and they will be my people. (31:33)”

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

Isaiah (Part 1) – Week 21 {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 am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts 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! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Week 22 - Isaiah 1-39

 

The Big Picture of Isaiah:

Isaiah is a book of prophecy. He was called to speak to God’s people and his message was one both of judgment and of hope. Many chapters of this book call the people to repent and return to God’s plan for their lives, and tell of the challenges they will face when they don’t. Ultimately, God tries to woo his people back with his kindness and grace, but when that doesn’t work, He’ll do whatever it takes to get his people back, even if that means letting them suffer at the hands of others for a while. Thankfully Isaiah’s prophecy isn’t all doom and gloom we also get beautiful and hopeful pictures throughout of the ultimate redemption that will come through a Savior. God keeps his covenant promises whether the people do or not and that is also clear in this book. While these themes are both throughout the whole book, we especially see the prophecies of the hard times in chapters 1-39, and the prophesies of the Messiah and hope in 40-66.

Timeline of Isaiah:

The content below was gathered from the She Reads Truth Bible and BibleHub.com and helps us see where the events of this book fit with some of the other books and events in history.

739/740 B.C. – Isaiah called as a Prophet (Isaiah 6)

722 B.C. – Israel invaded by Assyria, end of northern kingdom

715-686 B.C. – King Hezekiah in Judah

712 B.C.  – Hezekiah’s illness and healing (2 Kings 20, Isaiah 38)

701 B.C. – Sennacherib threatens Jerusalem (2 Kings 18, Isaiah 36)

696-642 B.C. – King Manasseh in Judah

681 B.C. – Isaiah’s Death

 

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.

  • “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them white as wool.” (Isaiah 2:18)
    REFLECTION: Spend some time in confession this week admitting the ways that sin has infiltrated your life. Then picture all those sins, red like scarlet, being turned bright white, clean, forgiven!
  • “…Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give brith to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” (Isaiah 7:14b)
    REFLECTION: Where do you  need God to be Immanuel, God With Us, in this week? Where have you seen His presence recently?
  • And so the Lord says, ‘These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.'” (Isaiah 29:13)
    REFLECTION: Have you ever found yourself in a season where you were saying all the right words but when you really stopped to think about your heart was far from God? Are there areas of your life where that is true right now? What helped you in the past, or might help you not to refocus your heart on Jesus? 

God’s Grace in Isaiah:

In a long book like this filled with some hard things to hear, it’s easy to focus our attention on some of the more well-known sections looking forward to the hope of the Messiah. However reading the full book gives us an even clearer view of how much we need a Savior and how Jesus really does fulfill each and every prophecy made about Him. We see in Isaiah that reality that sin keeps us from God, but that He was not okay with that reality and enacted a mission to save and redeem us all through 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

Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon – Week 21 {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 am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts 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! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Week 21 - Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon

An apology:

First of all, for those following along with the 66 in 52 challenge, I apologize this post is a week late. The best explanation I can give is: Life Happens. I’m sure you all understand that reality and part of living in the joy and blessing of God is giving people, including ourselves some grace.  I knew that at some point in the year I wouldn’t be perfect about getting this up and that time came. 🙂 In any case, whether you read these books already (or are a little behind like me), I hope you enjoy some thoughts about Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon!

The Big Picture of Ecclesiastes and Song of Song of Solomon:

Solomon is typically credited as the author for both of these books and because of that are likely dated to somewhere around 971-931 B.C.

Along with Job and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes is considered part of the wisdom literature in Scripture. It includes some deep thoughts about the very existence of life itself. I love the way the She Reads Truth Bible describes this book and the benefit it can have in our lives:

“Ecclesiastes is a book that awakens us to our own mortality, begging us to seriously consider how we should live. It knocks away all the facades we use to disguise the fact that life is short and all our accomplishments will pass away. In this way, Ecclesiastes anticipates the NT teaching that only God’s grace, and not our zeal, saves us. … Ecclesiastes prompts us to do two simple but profound things: enjoy life and fear God.”

The Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs) is mainly a celebration of romantic love. While this song mostly describes the intimacy between two human beings, the passionate pursuit in which the woman is sought after, adored, and responds to her lover can lead us to long for the God who passionately pursues us!

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.

Ecclesiastes:

  • “The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
    REFLECTION: Why do you think Solomon would say something like this? When have you experienced this to be true (or false)?
  • “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.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
    REFLECTION: What in life feels “not-yet-beautiful” right now? Where do you need God’s grace and patience to wait for the whole picture to come into view and make sense, to become beautiful? Where do you feel the longing for eternity planted deep within your heart?
  • Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless-like chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9)
    REFLECTION: What are five things you’re thankful for today? Besides gratitude, what are some other ways you can keep focused enjoying the blessings you already instead of centering your heart on what you don’t have?

Song of Solomon:

  • “I am my lover’s and he claims me as his own.” (Song of Solomon 7:10)
    REFLECTION: For those of you who are married, what beauty have you found in sharing a name with your spouse? For those that aren’t married and perhaps wish to have the kind of connection described in this book, what comfort can be found the truth of God calling us as his own? How might the book be reassurance that desring this kind of love is good and beautiful, something truly to long after?
  • “A huge torrent cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.” (Song of Solomon 8:7)
    REFLECTION: What about love seems to make it truly above all else? In what ways do you feel created to love and be loved?

God’s Grace in Ecclesiastes:

At first glance, this book can seem kind of depressing. I didn’t count it up yet, but it sure says “Life is meaningless” enough times to make us wonder what life really is about anyway. However, if you pay careful attention, I think a more accurate understanding might be something like, “Life, as we’ve made it be, is meaningless.” The endless striving for fame, money, sex, etc. is meaningless. Life is meant to be enjoyed and certainly some of those things are enjoyable.  We see Solomon, the richest and wisest man in the world who had everything he could ever want, discover that having a lot or even achieving a lot doesn’t bring lasting fulfillment. In the end He discovers this as of most importance: “So, remember your Creator…” (12:1).  With that in view, the meaningless things fade away. I also found that sometimes God’s grace shows up in unexpected ways: “God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” (5:20) Perhaps that’s key… God longs for us to enjoy life and remember Him.

God’s Grace in Song of Solomon:

I think we could all agree that sexuality has gotten twisted by the fall. If you need any prove just open your phone or pick up a newspaper and count the stories about sexual abuse, misconduct, gender inequality and more. When we read a book like Song of Solomon it can seem a bit over the top or unrealistic. However, I think God wants this passionate picture in Scripture as a reminder of his original plan and design. These insights from Kelley Nikondeha shared in the Jesus Centered Bible seem to describe this better than I could:

“… What if Eve never bit into the fruit? What if Adam never took the next bite and shared in that sweetness that opened the door to shame? Where would we be with not temptation or forbidden fruit, no broken relationship or expulsion from Eden? Can you imagine a world without a curse?

One possible way to understand the wisdom of Song of Songs is to see it as an extravagant dreamscape that gives us a glimpse into Eden. If we had lived in this perpetual garden of delight we would have developed into different people, far freer to explore our intimate relationships without shame. In a curse-free garden, hierarchy and sexual domination never enter the picture. … Women initiate with ease, men reciprocate without threat, and we both practice an unashamed boldness as we share our body with our beloved. …

We wake east of Eden, outside the gates and burdened by the vestiges of the curse. But Jesus enters into this world and plants a new dream in our hearts–setting things right and restoring what’s broken in humanity and creation. … Song of Songs helps us to dream about a mighty wholeness and connectedness. It whets our appetite for a world saturated in love, a worthy description of Jesus’ redemptive mission.”

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

Proverbs – Week 20 {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 am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts 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! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Week 20 - Proverbs

The Big Picture of Proverbs:

Proverbs is one of three books we consider part of the “wisdom literature” in the Bible, along with Job and Ecclesiastes. Solomon who we met earlier in Scripture is the author of most of them. Having been known as the wisest man on earth, it seems he might have some wise ideas for how we as humans can best live in this world. Throughout the book we often see a contrast given between a wise life and a fool’s life. The first nine chapters give somewhat of an introduction to the book and the rest are filled with short phrases or poems that help us understand and live life well.

Themes in Proverbs:

One study Bible I own has does a great job of laying out some main themes throughout the book of Proverbs in a way that I found helpful. It uses 5 main themes and then gives examples of sub-themes within them. Here are a few examples for each that might be helpful.

God

  • The Commands of God (4:1-4, 6:20-23, 29:18, 30:5)
  • How God sees man (5:21, 16:2,7, 20:24)
  • What God loves (11:1, 15:9, 16:11, 14:31)

Man

  • Adversity (3:25-26, 17:17, 18:14, 24:16)
  • Happiness (3:13, 15:23, 24:17, 29:18)
  • Humility vs Pride (11:2, 15:33, 22:4, 27:1-2)
  • Spiritual and Physical Health (4:20-22, 14:30, 18:14, 25:25)

Relationships

  • Friendship (17:9, 18:24, 19:6, 27:6)
  • Parents and Children (14:26, 19:18, 22:6, 15)
  • Quarrels (3:30-31, 10:12, 17:14, 25:8-9)

Wealth

  • Envy (6:34, 14:30, 21:25-26, 28:16)
  • Generosity and Greed (3:9, 3:27-28, 19:17, 21:26)
  • Security (1:33, 3:9-10, 4:13, 13:6)
  • Wealth vs Poverty (6:10-11, 11:4, 20:21, 22:1-2, 4)

World

  • Faithfulness (11:13, 20:6, 25:13,19, 28:20)
  • Hope and Mercy (13:23, 18:13,17, 21:15, 22:28)
  • Justice (12:17-22, 13:5, 16:6, 20:17)
  • Good vs Evil (1:10-19, 11:3-5, 14:14, 25:21-22)

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. Since Psalms is so long we’re dividing it up over three weeks. 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.

  • “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:33)
    REFLECTION: What do you need to put in God’s hands today?
  • “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
    REFLECTION: Where have you been using less-than-gracious words lately and maybe need to ask for forgiveness? How can you speak life into those around you this week?
  • Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:9)
    REFLECTION: What is one way you can continue to grow and learn this week even in something you’re already pretty good at?
  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7)
    REFLECTION: How can you go throughout this week in awe and reverence of our God?

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!