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!

Galatians 1-3 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He replaced the law with Christ, focusing on His grace.

This is difficult to admit, particularly to my riding friends, but I’m not terribly fond of motorcycles.  I’ve always found them noisy and smelly, and for one who doesn’t like to wear a hat, a helmet is just not going to happen.  One can safely assume that I’ll probably never be found on a motorcycle, the football field or roller blades.  I tried to indoctrinate my son with my attitude about motorcycles early in his life.  Whenever a motorcycle passed us on the road with its thunderous roar, I would say to him, “Oh yuck, Brady, we don’t like those motorcycles,” and I also shared many subliminal messages.

When our son was a little older, an especially sweet Harley passed us on the road and my husband, the traitor, said to our son, “Brady, look at the cool bike!” And my precious innocent son replied, “Wow! I like it!”  It was then I knew that my years of brainwashing had been in vain. The words of Paul to the Galatians came to mind, “Oh, foolish, Brady!  Who has cast an evil spell on you?”  I knew I had lost the battle. So to the bikers of the world, I acquiesce; but Paul, on the other hand, was not so quick to cave.

“Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you?” (3:1)  Poor Paul.  He had spent a great deal of time discipling the Christians in Turkey on several missionary trips and now to have them fall for the false message of the Judaizers!  “You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all.  You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.” (1:6-7)

In Chapter 2 we learn that the Judaizers were Jews who resisted Paul’s message of freedom from the Jewish law.  To them, belief in Jesus and what He did on the cross was just not quite enough.  They believed that all Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike, must follow the law given to Moses, and those who did not follow it should be avoided.

The Apostle Peter, unintentionally I am sure, added validity to their message when he would not eat with Gentiles in front of other Jews in order to keep peace.  I would love to have been sitting with a cup of coffee over in the corner of the cafe or wherever it was when Paul and Peter had their discussion in Chapter 2.

Paul, seldom concerned about diplomacy, said it straight up, “When I tried to keep the law, it condemned me.  So I died to the law…so that I might live for God.  My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God…For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (2:19-21)  Christ and His Holy Spirit (3:2) living in me is more than enough!

Understanding Paul’s plight, we might say today, “Oh, foolish Americans!  Who has cast an evil spell on you?”  For the Judaizers of today, the law is irrelevant, but then to them, so is Jesus…irrelevant.  The man-made religions of today, the Oprah feel-good ones, may seem more open-minded, more compassionate and inviting, but they have nothing backing them up.

A handful of crisp, new counterfeit $100 bills may look good, feel good in my pocket and may give a sense of prosperity, but when I go to spend them I’ll find that there’s nothing backing them up!  Of course, some may reason that even authentic dollars do not have much backing them up today, but then that’s a topic for another day.  Convenient, man-made devotion to some higher power is only just that, a counterfeit, and it doesn’t spend well.  Jesus paid with His life, backed by the true and living God, and that we can take to the bank! 

Moving Forward: I resist the trappings of the counterfeits today and depend on Christ crucified, living in me to direct my life.  He’s all that I need and more than enough! 

Tomorrow @ Exodus 33-36

Luke 5-6 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He calls us to be fishers of men

I grew up in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  I have many grand memories of canoeing on the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, swimming in their cool spring-fed waters during the hot summers, almost drowning in Cedar Lake (not such a grand memory) and fishing in lakes all over Minnesota.  Lots and lots of fishing.

I’ve sat for hours in a boat or on a pier with hardly a nibble, waiting for the big one to come along. I’ve caught hundreds of sunfish, perch and trout and I’ve even snagged a walleye or two. I love to fish, I don’t know why, but I do.  And there’s nothing like taking fresh-caught fish, cleaning them up and pan frying them on the spot, tasting their freshness while dodging all those bones.  Great memories!  However, our fishing story today reminds me of another kind of catch, one with an eternal destination. 

@ Luke 5
“[Jesus] said to Simon, ‘now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing.  But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.’ And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!” (4-6)  Fishing with Jesus – now that was a sweet catch!  I’m blessed by the fact that Jesus is concerned about our temporal needs, abundantly providing for us at just the right moment, but as we continue to read the story, we understand that the compelling goal of Jesus was to complete His mission. He was looking for fishers of men.

My mom was a fisherman and very successful, but she wasn’t after trout or bass or grouper.  She was always fishing for people.  In her lifetime, she caught hundreds and hundreds of lost and hurting people and reeled them into the lifeboat, one by one, day in and day out.  In all my years of observation, I never saw one person refuse her message of the love of Jesus.  Although she was delightful in every respect, her success was not due to her eloquent speech or charismatic personality.  No, she was a successful fisher of men because she got into the boat with Jesus and threw out the net, so to speak.  Every morning as she made the beds and prepared for the day she asked God to lead her as she went about her day to those who were in season, ready to be caught.  And He did.

One of the things that made mom a great fisher of men was her acceptance of others.  It’s easy to be busy judging and condemning the bad behavior of others rather than being about the business of catching them.  Not mom.  To her there wasn’t a living, breathing soul that did not deserve to hear about the Lord, no throwbacks for her, everyone was a keeper.  “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you.  Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” (6:37)  Mom even shared the love of Jesus with those who had wanted to hurt her at one time or another because all she cared about was their eternal destination.  She’s in heaven now with a boatload of catch.

The stories of her fishing expeditions are endless, but one time mom left the grocery store with a cart full of groceries. She was walking to her car when a woman approached her.  It was one of those moments when Jesus said, “Cast your net.”  Without concern for the melting ice cream or wilting lettuce, she turned her attention to the woman who said, “I really need a cigarette.  Do you have a cigarette you could give me?”  Mom smiled and said, “No, I don’t have one, but I have something that will satisfy you much more than a cigarette.”  She shared with her the wonderful love of Jesus and His power to satisfy.  The tearful woman accepted the Lord as her Savior, and started attending church with her.  Yes, mom was quite the fisherman.

After filling two boats full of fish (be still my heart), Jesus said to Simon, “From now on you’ll be fishing for people!’  And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.” (5:10-11)  If you’re looking for me, I’m with Simon – Gone fishin’! 

Moving Forward: Net in hand…looking for the catch of the day!

Tomorrow @ Galatians 1-3

Jeremiah 42-46 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He measures our success by our obedience to Him

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are about on my last nerve!?”  I think this sentiment would be a fitting assessment of God’s feelings toward Judah at this point in the book of Jeremiah. Approximately 140 years earlier the Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen to the invading Assyrians because of their unrepentant hearts.  God had sent numerous prophets to warn Judah of a similar outcome if they did not repent of their sins and turn to Him.  Even after Judah’s beloved Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, the remaining Jews fled to Egypt in disobedience. Right there, last nerve.

The message of God’s last prophet in Judah, Jeremiah, had not been well received.  He was ridiculed, imprisoned, abandoned and finally dragged off to Egypt against his will by the fleeing Jews because his message convicted them of their willful idolatry.  After his move to Egypt, no other events in Jeremiah’s life are recorded in Scripture.  The remaining chapters in Jeremiah consist of earlier prophecies and events.  Jeremiah traveled a rough road, to say the least.

In Chapter 44, Jeremiah gave his final warning from God to the Judeans living in Egypt, and their response was, “We will not listen to your message from the Lord!  We will do whatever we want.” (44:16-17) Very few scriptures in the Bible so accurately reflect the attitude of people today. Through media’s subtle message, we have been told that we are our own moral compass, and we can do whatever we want.  Those who must follow God are just not very enlightened.

We unenlightened ones have a formidable task in presenting the gospel at times, but so very few of us have ever faced the ridicule and treatment that Jeremiah faced, not that it couldn’t happen one day.  It just seems like, in light of the story of Jeremiah and what he endured, I could take a few moments to share the wonderful love of Jesus with, say, my neighbor…

Many would say Jeremiah was not very successful in his ministry.  He did not turn thousands to the Lord through his eloquent speaking and the multitudes did not clamor for his healing touch.  In fact, nobody really even liked Jeremiah – I mean, who wants to hang out with someone who is negative and cries all the time!  But then, as we know, God doesn’t measure our success by how well we are liked.

God doesn’t even measure our success by the many sacrifices we have made. “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,” (I Samuel 15:22)  No, Jeremiah was successful because he was obedient to God.  Whether we walk a road like Jeremiah or never experience a bump in the road, we are successful when we do what He wants us to do. 

Moving Forward: I’m challenged by the life of Jeremiah to share God’s message of truth with those around me and walk in obedience to whatever He wants. 

Tomorrow @ Luke 5-6

Job 41-42 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: With wisdom and mercy He directs our lives.  He can be trusted. 

The Job Finale!  The final two chapters of the season will have you glued to your…Bible.  Stay tuned as the drama unfolds. 

Previously in Job. In his accusation to God, Satan charged Job with believing in God only because of God’s goodness to him.  He wanted to test Job.  God responded, “All right, you may test him.” (1:12)  Job lost all his wealth, his children and his health.  As Job battles for his life, he is left with four accusers, a wife who wants him to die, his belief in God and the gnawing question of why this has happened to him.  On trial for crimes against his humanity Job defended himself against his accusers, refused to die despite his wife’s wishes and presented the case of his innocence.  Believing he was falsely accused, Job demanded to speak to the Judge, but the Judge had not entered the courtroom.  Job believed the Judge had ruled incorrectly in this case because he was innocent.  The Judge must answer questions as to why he has ruled in this way.  Where is the Judge? 

The following takes place today in Job.  The Judge entered the courtroom…
Forgive the dramatic pretense, but the story does read somewhat like a courtroom drama.  In some mysteries, the viewer is discovering who the culprit is right along with the detectives; in others, the viewer is privy to the crime and watches as the detectives discover the culprit.  In Job, we already know the scenario from Chapter 1, but other than God and Satan, none of the other characters are aware of the set up – ever.

Hitchcockesque in nature, the ending of the story never revealed to Job why all this trouble happened to him, but then that really isn’t the point of the Book of Job.

Job revolves around two major principles:  Our belief in God cannot be based on His goodness to us, but must be founded on Who He is.  This was the premise of Satan’s test, and Job passed the test and did not curse God when troubles came.  After losing everything, Job declared, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.” (19:25)

The second principles is that our trust or confidence in Him cannot be based on our goodness to Him.  This is where Job faltered.  In long soliloquies throughout the story, Job defended his innocence – he was very, very good and his goodness did not deserve this response from God.  He demanded answers, “Look, I will sign my name to my defense.  Let the Almighty answer me.” (31:35)  I get chill bumps every time I read this. Job revealed that he had lost confidence in God when he questioned God’s wisdom, God must have made a mistake.  Not good.

Finally, the Judge entered the courtroom.  God did not answer any of Job’s questions nor did He commend Job’s goodness.  Through a series of questions to Job, He revealed Who He is, and Job was humbled.  “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.  I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (42:5-6)  Job had nothing more to say.  Mission accomplished, case closed, the series ends! 

Epilogue. God rebuked the bumbling detectives/friends who tried to discover the reason for Job’s trial, and Job forgave them.  Then, God restored Job’s fortunes and “blessed him in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.” (42:12)  Everyone loves a happy ending.

The lessons of Job are invaluable.  We learn that God is Sovereign.  He loves and cares for us regardless of how good we are.  His ways are higher and more perfect than we could ever imagine, and in humility, we bow to His wisdom.  In Chapter 1, we learn that our enemy, Satan, is not all that!  He is not sovereign and must ask permission to do anything.  He is not omnipresent and must patrol the earth to find out what is going on.  He cannot read our minds nor foretell the future or he would have already known the outcome.  Someday, when we see him cast into his eternity, we will wonder how this sniveling nothing was able to make us think he was anything more than that.

As Job learned, life is not so much about what happens to us or why as much as it is about Who, Who our God is, and the relationship we have with Him along the way to eternity. 

Moving Forward: Whether or not this day finds the answers I seek, you are the living God!  I bow to your wisdom today, Lord. You know what is best. 

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 42-46

Psalms 60-62 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He hears our silent confidence as we wait for His help

There are several ways to say something without speaking.  A picture is worth a thousand words. A smile speaks volume.  Body language says it all.  The silent treatment can be deafening.  I knew a little girl who, in response to her mother’s look of disapproval, would cry, “You’re yelling at me,” yet not a word had been spoken.  And yes, as the old saying goes, silence can also be golden. 

@ Psalm 62
“Truly my soul silently waits for God…” (1,NKJV)  God hears our silent confidence with a volume that reverberates throughout heaven.  It says, “My hope is in Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My victory and honor come from God alone.” (5-7)  He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him (8) because it shows Him that we consider Him our refuge, our salvation, but even louder than our supplication, is our silent confidence that He is our hope.  It says the trial is over before there is evidence of it.  It says the victory is at hand regardless of the circumstance.

If a child still cries when in a parent’s arms, it’s saying its needs have not been met.  If I’m resting in the arms of the Lord, but I still make much noise, I’m saying my needs have not been met and perhaps I lack the confidence that they will be met. Yes, we are to “come boldly before the throne of God and make our petitions known,” and ask until we receive.  Absolutely!  However, there is a point in our asking, when the resolve comes to our souls, and we wait in confidence regarding our need.

The silent trust deep within our hearts becomes even louder than our words and says, “I will not be shaken.”  We should not fear that in our silence our needs will be forgotten.  He is the One holding us – how could He forget?  And He faithfully places our needs on the hearts and minds of others when they pray.

David’s psalms touch our hearts because they are expressions straight from his heart.  We see him as very human, walking through the struggles we face.  The giants we slay may not be tangible giants like Goliath, but they are giants nonetheless.  We have known betrayal from those we have trusted, and we understand struggles with temptation.

David set a pattern for us in most of his psalms:  He states the obvious – the problem or the enemy he is facing – but then he turns his attention to the One he knows will help him. David came through unbelievable trials in his life by his hope and confident trust in God.  “Let all that I am wait quietly before God…” (5). All, not just the part that God sees, not just what others see and not just in the mind, but also with our mouths.  Sometimes we just need to let our silence do the talking. Shh.. 

Moving Forward:  I will definitely turn up the volume today on my silence.  May my silent confidence be deafening throughout heaven to where the angels must cover their ears.

Tomorrow @ Job 41-42 (The Finale!)

2 Samuel 20-24 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His nature is forgiving and endlessly good

David may have been the original Renaissance Man – multitalented to say the least.  I’m hard pressed to think of another man who has carried the titles of shepherd, king, giant slayer, harp player, warrior, song writer and God lover.  Really. Who does all that? 

@ 2 Samuel 22
In the later years of his life, David fought a few more battles, killed a few more giants and wrote a beautiful song of praise and thanksgiving to God, almost identical to Psalm 18.  In this chapter, he listed many of the characteristics of God he had observed throughout his lifetime of intimacy with Him. “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior.” (2-3)

In His writing, David described a God who forgives, listens, defends, rescues, rewards, sees, shows faithfulness, reveals, enables, trains, helps, strengthens, preserves, avenges and loves.  Is this the God that I know?  Yes, yes and yes!  Because He lives with us, as we read in Exodus yesterday, we have the opportunity to observe all sides of His nature, and this is Who He is!

After reviewing David’s life for the past few weeks in our reading, including the Bathsheba incident, we may question David’s declaration of innocence in verses 21-25, “The Lord rewarded me for doing right.  He has seen my innocence.”  But this is the one characteristic of God that is the most amazing.  When we repent, and David was one who repented, He forgives and forgets.  He really does!

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Ps103:12) God doesn’t throw our repented sins in our faces to prove a point or rehearse them to make us feel badly. We live with the consequences of sin and often have trouble forgiving and forgetting ourselves, but He moves on. He wants our relationship with Him to continue, unfettered and unblemished. David said with confidence, “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”(Ps51:7)

When I’m facing a difficult challenge or when life has thrown a few blows my way, I read the Psalms of David because of this expressive man’s ability to communicate the characteristics of God – He is the One who forgives, listens, defends, rescues, and the list goes on and on… 

Moving Forward: Because of God’s character, I move on with Him today as one of His forgiven, unfettered and unblemished, ever encouraged by the amazing nature of my God. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 60-62

Exodus 29-32 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He longs for us to know Him as our God. He desires to live with us.

@Exodus 29
“Then I will live among the people of Israel and be their God, and they will know that I am the Lord their God.  I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them.  I am the Lord their God.” (45-46)  God wants relationship, plain and simple.  He wants to live with me, not just visit occasionally, or send cards and emails.  He wants to live with me – laugh at my bed head in the morning, hover over my devotional time, go to work with me, be the center of my other relationships and watch me drool in my sleep. Whether or not anyone else in the world wants to be with me or with you, we need to understand that He does!

Before Jesus came to die for our sins, there was a lengthy detailed process to follow in order for sinful man to fellowship with our magnificently Holy God.  These chapters in Exodus detail the purification, sanctification, ritual sacrifice, fragrant incense, anointing and much more that were required to secure relationship with Him.  Why all these instructions and details to follow? I’m sure there are many reasons that my mind doesn’t understand, but if God could not even look at Jesus on the cross as He bore our sin, how could He ever live with the Israelites in their sin?  Atonement for sins had to be made.  From verse 45, we understand that he wanted His people to know that He was their God.  He wasn’t just someone they happened upon, stumbled over by accident or met along the way.  He wanted them to know Him through an intentional connect.

The death and resurrection of Jesus changed the process that God requires, but not the outcome He desires. Our Holy God is now able to live with us through our acceptance of the ultimate sacrifice of His Son.  However, I believe He still desires that we know He is our God, not just someone we happened upon, stumbled over by accident or met along the way.  With our busy lives and commitments, it is easy to treat Him like a casual acquaintance rather than the One who lives with us, sleeps and wakes with us, the One with whom we are intimate.

What a heartbreaking moment for God – while sharing with Moses the very details of this intimacy, those He longed to live with were dancing around and worshiping a golden calf.  What was Aaron thinking? Every time I read this account, I am amazed that Aaron, a priest of the Most High God, wasn’t immediately toast.  Moses interceded to God for Aaron and the people, and God allowed His mercy to supersede His punishment.  “So the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.” (32:14)

Fortunately for us, we have Someone interceding for us, “Because Jesus lives forever, His priesthood lasts forever. Therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” (Hebrews 7:25)  Hallelujah!  Mercy allows Him to live with us and allows the intimacy with us He so desires.  When Someone wants us this much, how could we ever choose a substitute. 

Moving Forward:  My heart is full of His love for me today – His patient, merciful love.  I approach this day knowing that He is God and so thankful that I can spend the day with Him. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Samuel 20-24