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!

Psalms 63-65 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He fills us with songs in the night

The prescription for a good night’s sleep according to experts is: No coffee after 3:00 p.m., no eating after 6:00 p.m. and no exercise after 8:00 p.m.  If these were truly the prerequisites to sleeping at night then Europeans, South Americans and sport figures would never get any rest.  However, I must agree that when I am troubled about something or going through a challenging situation, these stimulants certainly aren’t helpful.

Some moments in life require more than a healthy dose of chamomile tea to bring rest to the body and peace to the soul.  It was David who gave the prescription for a peaceful night, with or without sleep. 

@ Psalm 63
Most believe David wrote this Psalm during a most difficult time in his life and while hiding from those involved in Absalom’s rebellion who were seeking to kill him.  Away from home, lonely and vulnerable, David could think of only one comfort and that was his God. We just may find ourselves in this position at some point in life, when God is the only comfort and solution to our illness, abandonment, threat or pain, when there is no help, but God.

David did not have an immediate answer to his dilemma so he focused on what he did have.  He had his God, “I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.” (2)  He had his song, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands…with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (4-5). And he had his joy, “Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.” (7)  Our situation may not be anything to sing a joyful song about, but we have our God, and He alone is something to sing about!

“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.  Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.  I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.”(6-8) Oh, those nights of tossing and turning can be endless and lonely.  Our sleepless nights may be caused by too much coffee or a very poor mattress as those cute little sheep in the commercials suggest, but so often these restless nights are caused by difficult moments like David was experiencing.

Counting sheep may be helpful, but I’d rather count on the Shepherd.  “I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night,” the One who has helped me in times past, the One who knows the future, the One who loves me, the One who fills me with songs in the night. 

Moving Forward:  Regardless of what I may face today, God is my helper and nothing compares to Him!  And because of Him, I have a song and I have joy!  “I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.”

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 1

I Kings 1-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  Even when others fail, He is our example of a loving father

The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles give the history of Israel’s kings from three different perspectives, and the many books of the prophets give additional insights to this history.  We may wonder why so much of the Bible is focused on the exploits of these kings, yet as we study them, we find their life lessons to be invaluable. 

@ I Kings 1
Chapter 1 begins with David, the mighty warrior and king of valor, near death at the age of 70.  When compared to Methuselah and others like him, this may seem fairly young to die, but we learn that the role of king did not lend itself to long life in general.  David’s challenging early years of survival and his reign as a warrior king took their toll on his life to be sure, and the disconnect he had with his family must have added to his burden.

What little we know about David’s parenting skills doesn’t speak well of him. In light of what we are able to read about them, most of the fathers in the Old Testament seemed almost clueless about raising children.  The patriarchs, kings, prophets and priests often had difficulty passing the family torch on to their sons because their devotion to God had not been accepted by their children.  Willful disobedience and rebellion seemed to be the lifestyle of the sons of many of Israel’s leaders.  What lesson can we learn from this?

Adonijah was David’s son with Haggith who was one of David’s many, many, many wives.  Because of his birth order, Adonijah “began boasting, ‘I will make myself king,’” (5) yet he and everyone else knew that David had chosen Solomon.  David was living the Absalom experience all over again with this willful, headstrong young son.  One short sentence in this chapter gives explanation as to how this son could disrespect his father by making himself the king, “Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, ‘Why are you doing that?’”  Help.

I’ve never met a child that didn’t require discipline on occasion, and obviously Adonijah was not the exception.  No doubt Haggith’s threats of “Wait until your father gets home!” carried little weight.  King David had many wives and many children, and with his leadership demands, he probably had difficulty remembering all their names much less worrying about discipline.  However, it’s hard to understand how great leaders can ignore the welfare of their future seed.  Solomon was on the right track for much of his life and wrote most of the book of Proverbs including helpful instructions to young men, but his own son, Rehoboam, was a mess.

We may not be ruling a country, but with all our breadwinning, deal making, car pooling and errand running, the last thing we feel like doing when we finally arrive home is disciplining our children.  It’s easier to ignore the situation and hope for a better day tomorrow; but as parents, our primary role is to parent – transitive verb meaning to nurture, raise and develop.  Somebody’s got to do it, and we’re it!

So, what do we learn from this?  Ultimately, our children are responsible for their own decisions and for the course they choose for life regardless of how we have parented.  David’s lack of parenting was not helpful for some of his children, yet neither was Solomon’s advice helpful for his own offspring.

We can’t make decisions for our children when they are grown, but when they are young, we can do all that is possible through our nurturing and training to put them in a position to make good choices.  If they make poor choices, they will be without excuse with no one else to blame, and that in itself is worth all our efforts. But after spending an evening of pure joy with my children and grandchildren, I can testify that greater still is the reward that comes from our hard work as we watch our seed grow and flourish in the Lord for generations to come. 

Moving Forward:  I will do my part to establish my children and my children’s children in the Lord, doing the hard work when necessary in order to reap great rewards. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 63-65

Exodus 33-36 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He reveals Himself to us through His goodness

I have a friend who works for the FBI.  I’ve come to understand that most individuals who work for this part of our government are not involved in high-level espionage and intrigue like we see in the movies.  However, when I ask him a government-sensitive question, the standing joke is, “I can tell you, but then I’ll have to kill you.”  Some things are just better off left alone.  This exchange is not so unlike a conversation that Moses shared with God in our reading today.  Fortunately, Moses made it out alive.

@ Exodus 33
“Go up to [Canaan] this land that flows with milk and honey.  But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people.  If I did, I would surely destroy you along the way.”(3)  Of all the names that God could have called the Israelites at this point, stubborn and rebellious or stiff-necked seem rather tame after discovering their idolatrous dancing frenzy of worship to a golden calf.  Many other names come to mind for me, but then I remember how God viewed rebellion in I Samuel 15:23, “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.”  Very apropos, indeed!

Because of their sin, God would not travel to Canaan with them. “When the people heard these stern words, they went into mourning and stopped wearing their jewelry and fine clothes…As [Moses] went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and hover…When the people saw the cloud…they would stand and bow down in front of their own tents.” (4,8,10)  Their repentance, humility and reverence captured God’s attention, and the appeal for mercy by Moses on their behalf captured His heart.  He forgave them and promised to go with them to Canaan.  He loved them!  He just couldn’t help Himself.

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (11)  Instead of the visions and dreams through which God had spoken to others in the past, God’s conversations with His friend Moses were more personal, more directed.   But Moses revealed that he wanted even more when he asked God to show him His glorious presence (18).  According to the original Hebrew, he wanted to see God’s significance or weight – His Glory, His Power, His Character – the whole deal!  Apparently, Moses had momentarily lost his mind!  What was he thinking?  He was thinking he wanted more!

God was so very kind to Moses in His response, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh…But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” (19-20)  But this warning was different than the bantering with my FBI friend.  Moses was not going to see the face of God because he just couldn’t handle it.  He would see the after, the weight, the more of God’s glory through His mighty acts to come.  Amazingly, Moses did see God many centuries later on the Mount of Transfiguration through his visit with the visible Christ, the glory of God.  More of God’s goodness!

@ Exodus 34
“The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out ‘Yahweh! The Lord!  The God of compassion and mercy!  I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.  I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.  I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.’  Moses immediately threw himself on the ground and worshiped.” (6-8)  Like Moses, we can’t help but fall on our knees in worship when His Presence overwhelms our space. He reveals His very nature to us through His compassion > His mercy > His unfailing love > His faithfulness > His forgiveness > His justice.  In these moments, these glorious moments, we see the more of Him! 

Moving Forward:  Show me your glorious Presence, Lord.  I don’t deserve it, and I’m not certain I can bear it, but I join with Moses – Show me more! 

Tomorrow @ I Kings 1-4

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

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