blog-home-pageA New Day and another opportunity to connect with our creator through His written Word. Let’s make it intentional, let’s make it a habit to read the Bible every day so we don’t miss what He has to say.  Follow the reading plan and next year at this time you will have read through the Bible! Follow below or click a day on the Calendar to the right and that day’s devotional will appear. The Bible is life changing. Don’t miss it!

Genesis 8-11 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He knows exactly where we live and remembers us with His blessing

I must admit that I am slightly addicted to Christmas movies, and last month I watched a healthy dose of them and satisfied my craving.  To justify my indulgence, I did a myriad of other things while I watched the same story told over and over again only with different faces and places.  In one story, an adorable little boy was concerned that Santa could not find him on Christmas Eve because he had moved and had no chimney.  Of course, this was no deterrent to Santa who did indeed find the little boy who had waited so patiently for him.  All was well, end of story.

As Christians, we don’t put our hope in mythical figures, but sometimes in our waiting on the Lord for answers or direction in our challenges, we have the same concern that he has somehow forgotten where we live.  The book of Genesis is filled with stories of men in similar positions of waiting – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all waited on the promise of God to be fulfilled in their lives.  Noah was a man of obedience and patience, and today we read how God fulfilled His promise to him. 

@ Genesis 8
Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.” (1)  Whew!  After spending over a year confined in a boat with all the family and his menagerie, I would think there may have been a moment when Noah wondered if God had lost track of him; after all, he was on the move.  Finally, at this moment, God chose to fulfill His promise to him – God knew exactly where Noah lived.

Most often in life our walk is stable and certain, but there may come a time when our address changes.  It may not change in a literal sense, but our life is suddenly filled with uncertainty or struggle and we are not living in the place of security we have always known.  As the weeks turn to months, it’s easy to think that God has missed our move.  But just like with Noah, God knows exactly where we live.

After the rains stopped, Noah moved ahead with anticipation by releasing a dove to test the waters, so to speak.  The dove returned because there was no resting place for it; but Noah sent it out again seven days later, and it returned with a fresh olive leaf – something was happening.  While we wait for God to remember us, to give our need His special touch, we can learn a lesson from the dove.  The dove’s response to its flights told Noah that things were not ready; God’s work was not yet finished.  All the while Noah was waiting in the ark, God was drying up the waters and making ready Noah’s destiny.  And while we wait through our struggle, we can be assured that God is preparing our destiny and His plans “to give us a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Finally, he sent out the dove, and it didn’t return. “Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.’” (15-16)  Then God spoke.  Is there anything sweeter than when God speaks?  When the struggle has ended, His plan is revealed and we step out on dry ground?

Whatever uncertainty we are facing, whatever struggle we are going through, we can count on one thing – God knows where we live.  While we wait, we can know that He is working on our behalf, preparing our future.  Something is happening, and when the time is right, He will speak.  And like Noah, we won’t complain about the weeks or months of struggle.  No, we will build an altar, an altar of praise and thanksgiving to the One who knows exactly where we live.

Moving Forward:  Is that…is that an olive leaf I see? 

Tomorrow @ Joshua 11-15

Romans 5-6 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He made peace with us through His Son

When two nations are at odds with each other, the conflict will continue until some sort of an agreement can be reached to end it.  The two parties involved will send mediators to a peace summit where a peace agreement is signed and usually a celebration follows, everyone feeling the love and warm fuzzies.  However, most of us have observed through the years, especially in the Middle East, that this euphoric feeling of peace and safety is often short-lived because it was based on an agreement to be at peace and not a standing or position of peace. Signing an agreement is a good initiative and may make those involved feel good at the moment, but real peace is much more than a feeling.

@ Romans 5
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”(1)  Paul is not talking here about the peace of God, which I might add is one of the great blessings we receive in our walk with God, but he is talking about our peace with God because of what Jesus has done for us.

This is not a peace that comes and goes according to our feelings at the moment.  This peace is a standing or position of peace with God, and it comes with benefits as well, “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” (2)

I appreciate that someone, and Paul of all people, placed some blame for the fall of mankind on Adam.  Eve has shouldered most of the blame for man’s separation from God, but Adam could have resisted that beguiling woman of his had he wanted to do so.  “Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.” (18)

Because of Christ’s one act of righteousness, we are no longer in conflict and hostile with God.  We are at peace with God.  We are not only in agreement with Him, but in good standing with Him.  We are standing in a place of undeserved privilege where God shares His glory with us.

Our position of peace with God allows us to receive the peace of God and that is why Paul says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (3-5)

Sometimes reading the complexity of Romans makes my brain hurt, but I get this one.  God sent His Son, our mediator, to make possible our peace with Him before we ever even came to the peace talk, while we were still His enemy, because of His great love for us. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners… So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (8,10)  Friends of God!  Not only are we enjoying peace with God and the peace of God, plus all the privileges, but we are friends! 

Moving Forward: I can’t help singing today, “I am a friend of God.  I am a friend of God.  I am a friend of God – He calls me friend.” (I. Houghton)  So thankful for Jesus.

Tomorrow @ Genesis 8-11

Matthew 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He calls us to go public with our testimony of faith

Several years ago I had the privilege of witnessing a water baptism service take place in the Jordan River.  As scripture was read, I imagined the scene centuries before when John the Baptist was baptizing in this river and the Lord Jesus came to be baptized.  It was a moving experience for me and caused me to reflect on my own water baptism.

I was part of a group of four children baptized in our church baptismal tank one Sunday morning.  I was five years old.  We entered the tank together where our pastor was waiting for us; and to this day, a hundred years later, I remember an indescribable presence of the Lord to where the water was stirring even though we stood still and my lips were stammering even though I wasn’t cold.  Little did I understand at the time that the Holy Spirit baptizer was there with us.  My water baptism experience was a glorious encounter with the living God that I will never forget.  I doubt at the age of five that I understood all the ramifications of my submission to water baptism, but really, does anyone? 

@ Matthew 3
“In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near’… People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.  And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.” (1-2,5-6)  The Pharisees and Sadducees who came to watch were not welcomed by John who called them a “brood of snakes” (help) because they claimed to be repentant of their sins but didn’t live like it. (7-8)  Obviously, water baptism for John was not just something to do on a sunny afternoon.

Paul described it this way to the Romans, “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Romans 6:4)  Water baptism is our public declaration to the world that we have died and buried our old way of life through our repentance of sin and have risen to live a walk that is committed to our new life.

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.” (Romans 6:6)  Water baptism does not save us.  Water baptism is our testimony to the world of the salvation we have received.  And as John was saying to the Pharisees, if we’re not committed to living like a believer, we certainly should not give testimony that we are one.

Water baptism usually comes early in our walk with the Lord, and we rarely know at that time how our public confession of faith will be tested, how we may be ridiculed, ignored or even persecuted or how strongly we may be tempted to fail.  In all of that, we would do well to remember our water baptism, our public declaration that the old man is dead and buried and the new man is alive and well on planet earth.  It just might give us the boost we need to, “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12) 

Moving Forward: Today I’m remembering once again the day I publicly confessed that I died to sin and rose to walk in newness of life. I just may need to find someone and go public once again with my testimony.

Tomorrow @ Romans 5-6

Isaiah 7-11 (NLT)

Discover His heart: Through our trust in Him, He will cause us to stand firm

A few years ago I was attempting to change a less-than-pleasant diaper on my one-year old grandson.  Doing what little ones do at this age, he was kicking up a storm and trying to turn over, and I realized that Jett was not as focused on the task at hand as I was.  I caught his eye and said, “Work with me here, baby boy, work with me,” and he stopped long enough to give me one of those smiles that lights up my world and then went back to kicking.  I knew my only recourse was to provide a distraction and handed him one of his favorite toys.  With that, the kicking and turning stopped, the diaper was changed and I was victorious.  Let’s hear it for Nonna!

In Isaiah’s day, Judah was facing the threat of attack by Assyria, and its king was struggling with it, turning this way and that, seeking help from everyone but God.  Isaiah was sent by God to make the change in Judah’s focus, but it sure wasn’t easy. 

@ Isaiah 7
As Judah’s King Ahab struggled in his decision with whom to join forces against the invading army – Israel and Syria or Assyria itself – Isaiah came with a message from God encouraging Judah to ally with God, to trust in Him. “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” (9)  In essence, God was saying something similar to, “Work with me here, Judah, work with me.”  God could not help Judah stand firm against the enemy unless Judah would place its faith and trust in Him. 

@ Isaiah 8
Isaiah shared God’s message with Judah, calling them to change their focus, “The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, ‘Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.  Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear.  He is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe.’” (11-14)  Don’t get caught up in the struggle of it all, focused on who did what and when, but change your focus to the One who will help you and keep you safe. “Look to God’s instructions and teachings!  People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.” (20)

Whether we are focused on the struggles of our nation or the struggles in our own personal lives, God’s word to Judah is powerful to us as well.  Through His Word I believe God is saying to each one of us “Work with me, dear one, work with meI can’t help you stand strong in your struggle unless you put your trust and faith firmly in me.”  We have to give Him something to work with and not struggle against Him or turn from Him.

God warned not to think like everyone else does, focused on the struggle and the advice of those who do not know Him, but rather be distracted by His instructions and teachings in His Word.  Keep focused on God’s Word and His counsel, and, in fact, remind others of it, “Preserve the teaching of God; entrust his instructions to those who follow me.” (16)  This is how we perpetuate faith and trust in God to those who are watching our lives, our children and those near to us, through our focus on God’s Word in the time of struggle.  At the end of the day, we will be victorious!

Moving Forward: I’m focusing on God and His word, giving Him something to work with, so that I will stand firm through any challenge I may face today.

Tomorrow @ Matthew 3-4

Job 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Unthreatened by our questions, He answers those at the heart of our need

The tales I’ve heard about the language mother’s-to-be have used in the throes of delivering their babies could make a grown woman blush, especially in the days before the pain relievers available today.  I think of the dear father coaching his sweet wife along in the process when the pain of an absolute explosion occurring in her abdomen causes her to lash out at the instigator of all this pain.  Obviously, the lack of understanding in his advice was insulting and not welcomed.  Poor guy – he was just trying to help!

Just like these fathers, we may experience something similar when we offer advice after listening to someone’s woes.  That well-intended advice could come back to bite us. Some questions come to mind from our reading today in Job:  In the midst of a struggle and in our telling of it to others, what response are we really expecting from them?  What is our responsibility as a listener? 

@ Job 3
In all the trials that Job faced, he did not take his wife’s advice to curse God, but he did do some cursing.  “At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth.” (1)  So miserable was his existence that he asked that the day of his birth be removed from the calendar. (6)  Job just wanted to die.  Jeremiah expressed similar words in Jeremiah 20:14, “Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth.  I curse the messenger who told my father, ‘Good news—you have a son!’”  Some struggles in life are so painful that dying just seems easier.

Job began his questioning of why, seven times just in this chapter alone. “Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die…Why is life given to those with no future?” etc. (11-23)  God isn’t really threatened by our questions because He made us and understands our desire to know the answer to our why; but in this testing, God had more important truths for Job to learn.

Job’s friends had come to him and sat in silence which was the custom of the day, but also because grief and anguish leave many of us without words.  However, when Job started to ask his many questions, his friends felt compelled to answer, and answer they did.  As in the mother scenario, Job did not care for their answers.  Perhaps we can learn from Job’s experience that when going through a crisis, we can express our sadness and pain to caring listeners, but for the answers to our difficult questions, we are wise to go to those who may have actual answers, and even more so, we should seek the Lord. 

@ Job 4
Put on the spot, Eliphaz, the most seasoned of Job’s friends, felt obliged to answer, “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed?  My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” (7-8)  Because we are privy to the dialogue of Chapter 1, we know that Eliphaz, in all his experience, was just offering his opinion in Job’s case and even had the audacity to say he was speaking on God’s behalf.  His counsel to Job was inaccurate and wasn’t helpful.

In Galatians 6:2, Paul strongly encouraged to “Share each other’s burdens,” and this is one of the many blessings we receive as believers.  Sometimes we feel all we can do is listen to our hurting friend, but so often, that is exactly what is needed.  The most valuable time Job’s friends spent with him was when they sat in silence.  From Eliphaz’s poor counsel, we learn that the best and most helpful advice is based on fact and not on opinion.  Finally, praying with our friend is the one thing we can do that opens the door to God’s supernatural intervention for their need. Whether He uses us or someone else to help our friend, He is the One who knows all the right answers to all the questions and reveals them at just the right moment.

Moving Forward: For those I meet today who may be hurting, I pray that my response is Spirit-led, whether in simply listening or in sharing truths. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 7-11

Psalms 3-5 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He has set us apart for Himself

I remember my first piece of shiny jewelry, or bling as it’s sometimes called today.  It was a dime store necklace with a cross that my mom bought for me when I was very young.  I didn’t understand all the ramifications of wearing the cross, but I knew that it was an indicator that I loved Jesus.  I wore it proudly!  I don’t know what happened to it, but as a teenager I bought a small 14k gold cross that I wore along with whatever necklace I was wearing.  Sometimes it got covered up by other jewelry and clothing, but I knew it was there.  It was my statement, my mark if you will, that I was His. More important to me today than this simple gesture, however, is the profound truth that God has marked me as one who belongs to Him. And someday I will be a bit of bling in His kingdom! 

@ Psalm 4
“You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to Him.” (3)  The understanding that the God of all creation has set me aside, marked me as distinct and separate just for Himself humbles me to my knees.  God has noticed us, those who have chosen to follow Him and live godly lives, and has set us apart for Himself.  Are we able to get our minds around that thought?

Whether we are a part of any other group or club, whether we have a friend in the world and whether we feel accepted by society as a whole, we should rejoice that we are part of a group that God has set apart just for Himself.  As redeemed and grafted in to the family, we are a chosen people, but we are not exclusive.  “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9)  God wants everyone, every godly one, to be a part of His special group.

As if it wasn’t enough being marked by God with distinction, we only have to call out to Him and He answers!  In a day where we can spent an entire morning on the phone on the answering machine merry-go-round, never talking with a real person, never getting any answers, the Lord will take my call!  Amazing!   “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.” (Psalm 91:14-15)  I love being chosen and set apart.

Even more exciting is what is to come.  Greater than our wearing some bling to show our dedication and love for God, someday we will be some bling.  In Zechariah 9:16-17 is a promise not only to Israel but a messianic promise to the redeemed as well, “On that day the Lord their God will rescue his people, just as a shepherd rescues his sheep. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How wonderful and beautiful they will be!”   His bling!

Moving Forward: I’m blessed to receive love and acceptance from family and friends, but even if no one showed love to me today, I know that I am loved and set apart by Him.  As I live a godly life, I am forever distinct in this way and destined to be a beautiful jewel in His crown. According to David, I can be sure of it!

Tomorrow @ Job 3-4

Joshua 6-10 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He provides the strategies we need for victory in our lives

Whether in football, business or war, there is a strategy that has been around since the beginning of time when facing the opposition:  Find the weakest point in the line of defense, the most vulnerable point, and make your attack.  In past wars, armies sent out reconnaissance teams, soldiers who were trained to find the weakest point in the enemy’s defense, but with today’s high tech armies, many other forms of surveillance such as predator drones are used first before the soldier is put into harm’s way.  In our reading today, however, surveillance had been done, the strategy was given and Joshua was ready to take Jericho. 

@ Joshua 6
“Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, ‘I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.’” (1-5) Unique as it was, the strategy was given by God, and it couldn’t fail.

Jericho was one of the oldest and most fortified cities on the planet at that time.  Its walls at some points were 25 feet high, that’s two and a half stories tall, they were 20 feet thick, and were considered invincible.  Were those walls really the most vulnerable point in Jericho’s line of defense?  No, probably not.  Jericho’s weakest point in its defense was its pagan heart, and God was not on the side of its inhabitants.  So its walls, no matter how thick and high were vulnerable to God’s strategy in taking the city. Joshua was righteous enough to trust it, and those walls came down!

God knows our enemy’s weakest point. When Jesus was confronted by Satan, He soundly defeated him by quoting the scripture. (Matthew 4)  Even though he has been known to quote it himself, our enemy can’t stand against God’s Word when it comes from a blood-bought Christian.  And when we declare to others our testimony of what Jesus has done in our lives, we run right over him. (Revelation 12:11)  What a great strategy!

@ Joshua 7
On the other hand, in their next battle at Ai, the Israelites’ true enemy, Satan, discovered where they were the most vulnerable, the weakest point in their line of defense.  God had forbidden the Israelites to take certain items from the spoils of Jericho, but one man had his own agenda, “But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord.  A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites.” (1)  Not good. Israel was soundly defeated at Ai.

When God revealed Achan’s sin, Joshua confronted him and Achan came clean, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them.”(20-21)  Just as the enemy had captured Eve’s heart, he defeated Israel with what Achan saw with his eye and desired with his heart.

We can be sure that the enemy has been doing surveillance and knows our weakest points of entry; but we, too, have been given a strategy by God to defeat his attacks, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” (James 4:7)  Had Achan run to God in this attack and resisted the enemy’s temptation, the battle at Ai would have had a different outcome. The James 4 strategy will work every time in our lives, and we can trust it! 

Moving Forward: I’m so thankful today for the strategies God has given to protect me from the enemy’s attack and beat him at his own game through the power of God’s Word.

Tomorrow @ Psalm 3-5