Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Best Yes

A dear friend of mine had been recommending I read The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst for some time before I actually picked it up.  I was hesitant to read it for reasons I'm not sure I'm entirely sure of.  Perhaps because I thought it would tell me something I needed to hear?  I know I was cautious that I didn't want it to give me excuses for saying no to everything, which it didn't! 

Ultimately, I read the book quickly and took notes the whole way through the book in my journal.  I often read books, I occasionally write in my journal about this, but this book was different, I took notes like a school girls as I read it, I thought about it, expanded on it more in my notes, and wrote direct quotes from the book into my journal.  It was a book like I've not read before.  In some chapters it was great lessons I needed to hear; in other chapters is was confirmation that I'm already doing some things that are great.  I feel reminded that I have purpose in what I do without overworking myself. 

It was a great read, one I'm so glad I picked up.

Nehemiah 9

As I read the prayer they prayed in Nehemiah 9, I started to notice the name adjectives they used to describe our God and took not of them; many of them were repeated throughout the prayer as well.  I want to know my God well, and by paying attention to how he's described in his text is one way I learn about him. 

My God is:
  • forgiving
  • kind
  • merciful
  • a listener
  • care taker
  • warning giver
  • creator
  • patient
  • great
  • mighty
  • wonderful
  • fair
  • loyal

Nehemiah

I wrapped up my reading of Nehemiah last night. 

  • Nehemiah learns of the trouble in Jerusalem and lack of walled protection and cries and prays for his repentance to be heard
  • Nehemiah severs the king's wine
  • Nehemiah is sad in front of the king, Artaxerxes, who notices his sad heart and asks - He tells him his sadness over his city, Jerusalem and asks to go and rebuild
  • King grants permission and letters to pass through safely to Jerusalem
  • Some officers were upset by Nehemiah's arrival
  • Nehemiah inspected the walls at night and plans the rebuilding
  • Many people repaired sections of the wall
  • There were enemies of the wall building forcing builders to split their time between building and protecting, everyone carried weapons always and stay in the city to guard
  • People complained of lack of food and heavy taxes and interest hurting them
  • Nehemiah called important people and leaders to give the people back their extra charges and land
  • He also didn't take the allocation (what people had to give) for governor's food and shared what he had with other daily
  • Nehemiah's enemies tried to stop him and harm him; he refused to meet with them and asked for strength
  • Wall rebuilt in 52 days - new Levites, gatekeepers, singers, etc. are appointed
  • Ezra reads the book of teachings to the people and they understand and follow
  • Israel confesses their sin and their ancestors sin
  • They pray displaying their knowledge of the book of teachings and describe out God
  • They make an agreement to keep the book of teachings
  • People from the town of Judah threw lots for people to come live in Jerusalem
  • Priests and Levites are named
  • The wall is offered to God
  • They sent the foreigners way as God instructed in the book of teachings
  • Nehemiah had gone to see the king and was away; he returned and did not like what he found and purified again
  • He set reminders to keep the Sabbath holy and remember not to marry foreigners

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Ezra - More of my thoughts

I really struggled trying to understand Artaxerxes of Persia.  I was confused between chapter 6's mention of him and chapter 4's mention of him.  In one place he seems to be stopping the work of the building for fear of harm to the government, and in another section he's being credited with helping with the rebuilding.  I struggled with this for awhile and came back the next day with fresh eyes to see if I could understand better.  I now think that the chapter 6 reference refers to the Artaxerxes of the future chapters of Ezra where he continues with the rebuilding.  My Bible does note that is some extended period of time between chapters 6 and 7 and some Google searching led me to believe they might be two different Artaxerxes.  ( I dislike that I Googled, but it was an answer that could help me understand, maybe, and move on.)

I noticed a few times in readings lately that after big things change and occurrences happen, there is a celebration of the Passover.  It is a very meaningful celebration to partake in. 

Ezra 7:10 "Ezra worked hard to know and obey the Teachings of the Lord and to teach his rules and commands to the Israelites."  I found this verse to be wonderful.  It's a great reminder that we too need to be working hard to know the scriptures and know God.  It is not easy, and our relationship doesn't come with out work!

Ezra 9:6 "I prayed, "My God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to life up my face to you, my God, because our sins are so many.  They are higher than our heads. Out guilt even reaches up to the sky."  I do sometimes feel the weight of my sin is heavy and I am terribly inadequate.  Initially I thought I get this, but then I continued reading to see that Ezra knew this, threw himself down at the temple in tears over the sin and felt it to an extreme level.  I am not like that.  Do I not fully know my sins still?  They are so many.

Ezra 9:15(b) "We admit that we are guilty and none of us should be allowed to stand before you."

I also thought it was worth of nothing that in the end of Ezra there is the discussion of the sin of marrying non-Jewish wives.  Their solution is for those men to divorce their wives.  It was a way of correcting sin.  I thought this was a very interesting point that I don't think I have read or thought about before.

Ezra

I finished reading Ezra in 4 days.  It was a really interesting book that I was drawn into.  It is one I took a lot of additional notes and thoughts and wrote them down for.  I will capture that separately.

Here are my notes from Ezra:
  • In Cyrus's first year as king of Persia he declares they may go back to Jerusalem and build the temple if they choose to
  • Cyrus sends the items with them that Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple
  • 42,360 people returned to their own towns and settled with their servants and singers, horses, mules, camels and donkeys
  • Items were given for the temple rebuilding
  • The alter was rebuilt and used for daily sacrifices and festivals as written in the teachings
  • Temple rebuilding began; the foundation is laid
  • Some rejoices, some, who saw the first temple, cried
  • Enemies of rebuilding - offered help, Judah refused
  • Trouble continued until the King of Persia was Darius
  • Artaxerxes stopped the building for fear of no tax money and harm to the government as written in enemies letter - records were looked up and showed a disobedient Judah
  • Prophets Haggai and Zechariah prophesized and Zerubbabel started working on the temple again
  • A governor sent a letter to Darius, king of Persia, briefly explaining the scenario
  • Darius finds record of building orders and secures that work is to be done and paid for by the area's taxes and King's treasury
  • Darius orders that changes to that order be punished with death and household ruin
  • Passover is celebrated
  • Ezra, from the line of Aaron, was a teacher who well knew the Teachings of Moses
  • Ezra came from Babylon to Jerusalem
  • More people returned to Jerusalem with Ezra
  • Ezra is 'successful' because the Lord our God is helping him
  • Artaxerxes letter to Ezra provides what is needed to please the God of Israel with the temple
  • Persia wants God of Israel well pleased
  • Those who returned with Ezra delivered gold, silver and objects for the temple to the priests and Levites
  • The captives that returned had sinned as he was told by leaders
  • Ezra prays - he acknowledges the great sin and guilt; he acknowledges the kindness and hope they are currently experience; he acknowledges we are not worthy!
  • Israel was not to marry those of the land that were evil, but they did anyway
  • Ezra's prayer was emotional, confessional and in front of the temple - other people joined him
  • Ezra didn't eat or drink in his sadness as he led others to obey following his prayer
  • Returned captives were to meet together or forfeit their property and community
  • Once gathered in the rain, Ezra told them to confess and separate themselves from those around them that were non-Jews and their non-Jewish wives
  • They proposed to meet with their leaders for decision in each town at a planned time because of the time and weather needed to do this - so they did
  • Men who married non-Jews agreed to divorce them - some had children with those women

Friday, May 05, 2017

2 Chronicles

I finally finished 2 Chronicles!  I read a Lent devotional every day and got me back in the habit of reading daily, and since Lent, I've kept up with finishing 2 Chronicles.  I typically read before bed, and I'm so happy to be doing this.  I would like to get to a place where I'm reading earlier in the day, but for now, this works.

  • God appeared to Solomon and told him to ask for something
  • Solomon asked for wisdom
  • God gave wisdom and wealth because Solomon knew he needed God's help to rule
  • "Not even the highest of heaves can hold him (God)." (2:6)
  • Solomon builds a temple
  • Much was covered in gold and carved and much detailed description in the 3rd chapter of the book
  • Solomon has the temple built and the Ark brought in - God's Glory fills the place :)
  • Solomon speaks to the people about god's work
  • Then Solomon prays of discipline from God of prayer and repentance of how Israel will behave in the future
  • Solomon asked in prayer for forgiveness and to hear their prayers
  • Temple is given to God; sacrifices are made (large amounts of sacrifices) - joy & celebration
  • "He is good; his love continues forever."
  • The Lord says Solomon and Israel must follow his laws; repentance = forgiveness; disobedience = discipline
  • Solomon also rebuilt towns
  • Brought a wife from Egypt - with her own palace since David's was holy
  • Queen of Sheba came with many people to see Solomon's wealth, success & wisdom - She didn't believe what she'd heard
  • Sheeba  Queen gave many fancy gifts
  • Solomon gave more gifts back to Queen of Sheeba and she returned home
  • Solomon was brought many gifts; Solomon had a LOT of gold
  • Solomon ruled 40 years and records were kept
  • Solomon died and Rehoboan became king (Solomon's son)
  • People asked Rehoboam to work them less hard than Solomon - Solomon's advisers (older leaders) advised him to oblige so they would serve him, but Rehoboam asked his friends (young men) and they said work them harder
  • Israel turned against Rehoboam
  • Rehoboam wanted to fight/war then, but God stopped it
  • Rehoboam strengthens Judah
  • Rehoboam has 18 wives, 6 slave women, 28 sons and 60 daughters - he spread his sons around and gave them wives
  • Rehoboam built a strong city and stopped following God
  • Shishak came to attack Jerusalem
  • Rehoboam & Judah were srorry & God did not destroy them; he did make them servants - there was some good in Judah
  • Israel & Judah fight under Abijah (Judah) and Jeroboam (Israel)
  • Israel was against God; Judah remained with God and defeated Israel
  • Asa was king of Judah - he destroyed the idols and there was peace
  • Asa had a big army that won in way v. the Cushites
  • Asa received a message that: God is with you when you are with him. If you look for him you will find him.
  • People recommitted to God and Asa was faithful
  • Israel attached Judah after 35 years with Asa as King
  • Asa went to Aram for help instead of God and peace ended
  • Asa became ill (foot disease) and asked doctors for help, but not God - then he died after 41 years as king
  • Jehoshaphat, Asa's son become king
  • Jehoshaphat is good, obedient and destroys idols
  • Jehoshaphat builds a strong army
  • King Ahab asks King Jehoshaphat to go to war with him, but Jehoshaphat says they must ask the Lord first
  • The prophets come and tell them to attack, but Michaiah warns them they are tricking him into death
  • Ahab disguises himself in battle but is hit with an arrow, he stays up in his chariot until sundown when he dies
  • Jehoshaphat selects judges
  • Lands came to fight Judah so Jehoshaphat asked the Lord - people came together & asked
  • Spirit entered Jahaziel and said it was not their battle, but God's - Jehoshaphat just had to stand strong with his men
  • The thanks God and praised him
  • Jehoram, eldest son of Jehoshaphat, becomes king
  • Jehoram kills his brothers and some leaders of Judah and followed Israel's way
  • Jehoram married Ahab's daughter
  • Group broke away from Jehoram
  • Jehoram led them away from the Lord
  • Prophet Elijah delivers Jehoram message: He is terrible & will become very sick
  • Land attack Jehoram and took his sons and wives, except his youngest
  • Jehoram was ill and in pain for 2 years until his death
  • No one was sad when Jehoram died and he wasn't buried with kings
  • Ahaziah, youngest son - because all others were killed - became king
  • He ruled 1 year, was sinful and his mother encouraged bad - then he was killed
  • When Ahaziah died, his mother, Athaliah, killed all of Judah's royal family
  • Ahaziah's sister, Jehosheba, took his son Joash and hid him for 6 years
  • Athaliah (the mother) ruled Judah
  • Jehoiada, priest, husband of Jehosheba decided to take action in year 7
  • Jehoiada gathered all the Levites to protect the temple and the king
  • Joash becomes king at 7 years old
  • Joash's grandmother, Athaliah, heard the news and was very unhappy - they took her out of the temple and killer her with the sword
  • Joash had peace in Jerusalem and was good while Jehoiada (priest & his uncle) was alive
  • Joash collected money and repaired the temple
  • Johoiada died and was curried with kings for the good he did for Judah
  • Joash became evil & Jehoiada's son, Zechariah, tells them, but they stone him to death
  • Aramen army attacks and take Judah & injures Joash
  • Joash's men kill him in his bed because he had killed Zechariah
  • Joash wasn't buried with kings
  • Amaziah is king and does good, but doesn't want to
  • Amaziah pay Israel to join them in war, but a man of God tells him not to because they've turned against God and God can give more
  • Amaziah does win the war without Israelites, but brings home Edom's idols and begins worshipping them
  • Because he turned against God, Israel defeated Judah
  • Uzziah becomes king and is good; he follows Zechariah's teachings
  • Uzziah becomes power because God helps him with many victories
  • Uzziah became prideful and was ruined; priests stopped him from unlawful acts in the temple and he got a skin disease and was ushered out
  • Uzziah is buried with the kings
  • Jotham is now king and he is good and victorious in battle with God's help
  • Ahaz is king of Judah - he is bad and defeated many times
  • Ahaz worshipped many idols and other gods
  • Hezekiah is king; he was good and quickly purified the temple
  • They celebrated with JOY! Praise! Worship!
  • Hezekiah sent letters to the outer villages to bring folks back to celebrating passive, some laughed, some came
  • Hezekiah command people to share their harvest to take care of the priests - they do!
  • Assyria attacks, Hezekiah is smarter with God's direction
  • Hezekiah dies; his son Mansseh is king
  • Manasseh was 12 when he became King and did wrong - alters and idols everywhere
  • Lord had Assyria attack and take him - then he humbled himself before God who heard him
  • God allowed him to return to Jerusalem and they worshipped the Lord
  • Amon is king after Manasseh dies and does very wrong - his officers kill him - the people then kill those people that killed him
  • Josiah is king; he was good and removed other idols and alters
  • The book of teachings from Moses is found and Josiah realizes how angry God is
  • Josiah tears his clothes and humbles himself and God let his lifetime be peaceful
  • Josiah celebrated Passover with the people like it hadn't been done in years (since Samuel)
  • Josiah went to battle against Egypt and was shot by archers - he was taken back to Jerusalem and died
  • They were very sad over his death and sad songs were written by Jeremiah
  • Jehoahaz becomes king for 3 months, then Egypt takes him away and makes brother Eliakim king, but names him Jehoiakim
  • Egypt makes Judah pay $
  • Jehoiakim was bad and Babylon attacked and took him away
  • Jehoiachin is king and is bad
  • Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, made Jehoiachin's Uncle, Zedekiah, king
  • Zedekiah was bad and didn't listen to the prophet Jeremiah's message from the Lord
  • Lord sent prophets to warn them, but Judah didn't listen
  • Lord became angry and Babylon came and killed and destroyed Jerusalem
  • Babylon took those left alive as slaves
  • Judah was empty 70 years as that is the number of years since the Sabbath was kept
  • Persia then defeated Babylon
  • Cyrus, king of Persia, is appointed to build a temple in Jerusalem
A few others things I wrote about:
People in the Bible are always having to remember.  Reminder themselves and recommitting to God.  I too do this often.  I forget, I come back, sometimes daily or more.  There is reassurance that I am not new to this, but I MUST KEEP COMING BACK!

Toward the end of this chapter, it started to be other countries that were now determining kings for Judah and no longer themselves. 

The Best Yes

A dear friend of mine had been recommending I read The Best Yes  by Lysa Terkeurst for some time before I actually picked it up.  I was hesi...