Monthly Archives: April 2013

April 30

Psalms 24, 65, 68, 110, 19, 2 Samuel 8:1, 21:15-18, I Chronicles 18:1, 20:4

I remember memorizing Psalm 19 when I was a kid. I’d have to study it some to get through it without looking. But often these words come back to me even today.

Nature declares the glory of God and the work of his hand. It’s foolishness to look at our world and deny it’s Creator.

David also writes about what Scripture means to him. Scripture is sure, lovely, precious and sweeter than honey. I so agree with David about that.

Then in verse 12 he confesses sin and asks God to keep him from willfully sinning.

Verse 14 has become my life verse recently. Has a verse ever stuck with you and seem to direct your life for a time? I Corinthians 10:13, Proverbs 3:5, Job 23:10 have been some of mine over the years. I find as I grow and change, God seems to bring the perfect Scripture to mind and use it to mold me into the woman he intends for me to be.

Lately God seems to be focusing on my heart’s attitude and my witness… the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart.

So I will keep this verse before me until he nudges me toward another. Until then, my prayer will be that those things in my life will be pleasing to my Rock, my Redeemer.

Father God, thank you for your Word. With David I praise you for the sure, lovely, precious and sweet Scripture that you so lovingly breathed into the ears of your servants so many years ago. Thank you that, even though those words have been around for centuries, they are alive and active  today. May we be sensitive to what you would have us learn as we open these precious pages each day.

April 29

2 Samuel 6:12-23, Psalm 15, I Chronicles 15:1-16:43

Did you catch what David said about the first time they tried to move the ark? He said they had done it without going to God first. The second time went well because they looked to God for instruction and carried the ark exactly the way Moses told them to years ago.

David had wanted to do the right thing but God made it plain that David needed to do the right thing God’s way.
It’s the same lesson we saw yesterday. Not every good deed can be blessed of God. Not everything done in Jesus’ name is from him.

If what we do isn’t bathed in prayer first, what we do can be sin in God’s eyes. Before we go about our day, before we make some grand gesture we think will please the Lord, let’s spend time in his Word so we can know his heart. Let’s go before the throne and commit our day and desires to him.

Let’s not put the ark on the cart when he warns us to carry it with poles.

Father, I thank you that you are a God who leads his children. Make plain your will for us today. And may you find us faithful.

April 28

Psalms 16, 101, 2 Samuel 5:6-12, 17-25, 23:13-17, 6:1-11, I Chronicles 11:4-9, 14:8-17, I Chronicles 11:15-19, 13:1-14

It seemed harmless enough. In fact, it seemed like the right thing to do. Loving, even. The ark of the Lord looked like it was going to fall when the oxcart lurched so Uzzah simply reached out to steady it. What’s so bad about that?

Well, if we look back at God’s instructions concerning the ark we see that he established it as the place he would reside and that no one was to touch it. Ever. There were elaborate instructions using long poles so that those who carried the ark wouldn’t even come close. 

It wasn’t that Uzzah didn’t know that. But why couldn’t God overlook this one little act when it seemed so innocent? 

Uzzah disobeyed. Disobedience is sin. What happened to Uzzah was a direct result of his disobedience.

The lesson here is that God’s standards are black and white. I’m glad for that, actually. He doesn’t make life a guessing game. He spells it all out and we can trust him to stick with it.

Good intentions are meaningless if they result in sin. A loving act can be sinful if there is disobedience involved.

Dear friend, God cannot overlook sin no matter how we dress it up.

Holy God, I thank you that your word to us spells things out so clearly. Thank you that you are consistent, never changing. May we honor you today with obedience according to your word.

April 27

I Chronicles 12:23-40, Psalms 2, 78

I thought it was interesting to see how some of the warriors were described. ‘Zadok, a brave young warrior’. ‘Issacher understood the times’. ‘The men of Zebulun were experienced soldiers’. ‘Men of Daniel ready for battle’. ‘Men of Ephraim were famous in their own clan’. (that one makes me smile)

So God is asking me how I think I would be described. How would I want to be described?

‘Connie the lazy one.’ No, I don’t like that. ‘Connie the gossip’. Doesn’t work for me, either. ‘Connie the teacher, the school counselor’. I loved my career in public education. But I don’t think that defines me, either.

I think I’d like to be described as ‘ Connie, the woman who loves the Lord’. Or ‘Connie, God’s servant’. Or ‘Connie the caring one.’ How about ‘Connie, one who looks like Jesus’.

What is it I want people to see in me? What defines me?

I know when I stand before the Lord he will describe me as ‘Connie, the one who is righteous and holy because she accepted mine.’

But until then I have some thinking to do. Maybe I have some changing to do. Because the reality is people are describing me whether I want them to or not. I need to consider carefully what they are saying.

God, thank you for your word to us today. Help us to consider how we are representing ourselves… how we are representing you. May we be rightly described as Godly people. It will glorify you if we are.

April 26

I Samuel 2:1-5:5, I Chronicles 3:1-4, 11:1-3

There is so much killing in the Old Testament. Abner and Joab were sitting around a pool and decided to each pick twelve men to fight one other. All twenty-four men died. Abner killed Asahel because Asahel wouldn’t quit following him. So Asahel’s brother Joab killed Abner for killing Asahel. Recab and Baanah killed Ish-Bosheth so David had Recab and Baanah killed for killing Saul’s son.

Yet again I am glad I live this side of the cross.

But how does this apply to me today? Jesus reminds me that one of the commandments is… thou shalt not kill. Then he adds… if you hate someone you’ve murdered them in your heart. ‘An eye for an eye’ may have been the way of life before, but Jesus taught us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. 

In a sense it’s harder to live a holy life in Jesus’ spiritual kingdom. In the Old Testament it was fairly easy to identify sin. You killed someone you died. You committed a sexual sin you died. You worshiped an idol you died.

But Jesus’ kingdom is no longer flesh and blood. God looks deeper than the surface and demands we not only act holy, but that holiness define our hearts, our attitudes, our thought-life.

Dear Jesus, may I live up to your standards today. Guard my heart and my mind and help me to obey you from the inside out.

April 25

I Samuel 30:10-31:13, I Chronicles 10:1-14, 2 Samuel 1:1-27

When I read the Bible chronologically I sometimes am confused by seemingly different reports. I Samuel 30 and I Chronicles 10 are almost word for word. But then comes this person in 2 Samuel who tells a different version. Does this mean the Bible can’t be trusted? Is the Bible God’s infallible Word or not?

Here’s what I think. Saul died the way I Samuel and I Chronicles records it. Saul was wounded and afraid of being captured so he killed himself. His armor-bearer did the same. The news traveled fast. Who didn’t know Saul made David’s life miserable? To the world the men were enemies.

So one man figured he’d cash in on Saul’s death and claim responsibility. He’d run to David, tell him he had killed David’s enemy, and receive a generous reward. I imagine he pictured a parade, a crown, wine, women, and song in his honor. Boy was he wrong.

Not only did those things not happen, but David was mad. He ordered the man be killed for lifting a hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed.

Did you read David’s lament? David still loved and respected Saul. How the mighty have fallen.

The Bible is God’s Word and can be trusted. Every word is true. I just love to get in there and see what God has to say.

Father, I thank you for inspiring men to write your words so that we in 2013 can know you. Help us to read and understand what you would say to us each day. Then help us go and live out your Truth so others can know you, too.

April 24

Psalms 69, 86, 131, I Samuel 28:3-25

We can learn so much from reading David’s psalms about how to face difficult times. He could pour out his heart to God with such detail I can almost feel his pain. Sometimes when I read him I wonder how he could know me so well and put into words what I am feeling myself.

But in each of these psalms David doesn’t dwell on his problems. After he lays it all out there he changes his focus from looking inward to looking upward. I imagine David writing these verses of praise and not really feeling all that positive. But he chose praise over self-pity. He forced himself to look away from the problems and into the face of the problem-solver.

Once again I am reminded that God inhabits praise. If I am feeling he’s not near I need to sing his praises. He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. He is great and does marvelous deeds. He loves me with a great love.

Years ago the Imperials, a Christian quartet sang a song that has just come to mind. I hope they will forgive me for using this without their permission but if I remember correctly the words go:

Praise the Lord.

He can work through those who praise him.

Praise the Lord

For our God inhabits praise.

Praise the Lord

For the chains that seem to bind us

Serve only to remind us

That they drop powerless behind us

When we praise the Lord.

Father in Heaven, I praise you today. I give you my heart aches and troubles and know you are all I need. May my focus be on you today and may I have a thankful heart for all the blessings you have showered on me.

April 23

Psalms 31,56,40, I Samuel 27:1-12,28:1-2,29:1-11, I Chronicles12:1-7

David lied. While given safety in the land of the Philistines he attacked their towns, then lied to Achish – the very one who had granted him safety. I’m troubled by that so I went to Matthew Henry whose commentary I trust.

Henry points out that at the beginning of I Samuel 27 David is in a bad mood. Mr. Henry calls it melancholy. And from this dark place David allows himself to drown in self-pity.

Saul’s gonna kill me, he says. I might as well go live with the enemy.

David lives with the Philistines for more than a year. During that time he lies to Achish, then volunteers to fight against Israel as part of Achish’s force. Just one bad choice after another.

We all get in bad moods once in a while. We all experience times of depression. It’s at those low moments when Satan jumps in with both feet. And it’s at those times when we are the most vulnerable. 

I am reminded that even as Christians we are not promised smooth sailing. Bad things happen. Emotions are a roller coaster at best. There are times when it’s hard to find the joy.

But God is telling me today to hold on. Not to myself. Not even to a doctrine. But hold on to him. Trust him when I don’t see any way out. Praise him when my heart is breaking. Recognize that he is able to see me through and underneath are the everlasting arms. 

And I am reminded that I probably shouldn’t make major decisions when I am feeling low. David made some pretty bad choices when he was depressed. What’s to say I won’t do the same.

Getting through those low moments may be a matter of saying God, I’m hurting. I don’t know what to do and don’t have the energy to try. Lift me up because I am drowning. Thank you for loving me, staying with me, and wanting what is best for me. 

If we don’t give our down times to him, don’t be surprised if we sink deeper. That’s where Satan wants us to live. My prayer is that we won’t let our enemy get what he wants.

Lord, I pray for hurting people. I pray that each one will look to you and trust you with today. I pray for victory over Satan’s attempt to destroy what we have with you. I pray for a measure of joy for all of us no matter what we are facing. Thank you for your promise to never leave or forsake us. Make yourself known to us. We are counting on you today.

April 22

2 Samuel 22, Psalms 14, 53, 1 Samuel 26

The fool says in his heart that there is no God. I don’t get how anyone can deny God when there is so much evidence surrounding us. Evidence that points to God as Creator, Powerful, Merciful. 

I would think that those of us who read today’s Scripture and this blog know that God is who he says he is. We believe.

But wait. How does my belief in God translate to my day-to-day? What is it I believe about God?

Scripture tells us God is the one true God. It tells us he is holy, the Creator of this world. It tells us that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one can get to God except through him. Scripture tells me that Jesus died on a cross so that my sins can be forgiven. And it tells me one day every knee will bow before him and even the fool who said there is no God will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and God is real.

Scripture tells me that God demands holiness of us. He put down a set of rules we must live by. Breaking those rules… sin… has only one outcome. Death. It also tells me he provided a way for us to be forgiven of all our sin.

Scripture warns us that those who accepted Jesus in this life time will go to heaven. All others will spend eternity in hell. Period.

So if I truly believe that God is God and his Word is true, if I understand people will go to hell without him, that there is just no other way… why aren’t I doing more to share him with my friends, neighbors, and family? 

It’s not just the ones who deny God who are fools. We who know God and don’t share him just might be the biggest fools of all.

Father, I believe. Yet I have foolishly ignored opportunities to share your truth with friends and loved ones. Forgive me and help me to recognize your leading, to be faithful to you, and to introduce someone to the one true God who loves them and gave himself for them.

April 21

I Samuel 25: 1-44, Psalm 18

I know that when we read accounts like this of David and Nabal we see God destroying men because they were evil. We read Psalms like 18 and hear David praising God for destroying men who were his enemies. And we may be tempted to think that’s how God operates yet today.

I knew a woman who always said… what goes around comes around. She believed with all her heart that anyone who mistreated her would get a pay-back sometime in his or her life. (never heard her say what would happen to her when she gossiped or bullied someone else. But I digress)

Some people believe in karma. I don’t.

I know I often say that God today is the same God of the Old Testament. He absolutely is. He is holy and demands holiness of us. His rules for living have not changed.

But I have also said repeatedly how glad I am that, after the cross, we are not called to kill people like the Old Testament people were. Our enemy is not flesh and blood in God’s spiritual kingdom which he ushered in when Jesus rose from the dead. That’s why a pastor once told me to read the Psalms picturing the enemy written about as Satan. Makes those Psalms relevant in my life.

Here is what God says about people who we might consider enemies. Love them. Pray for those who spitefully use you.

Look at Jesus’ example of how to treat people who wrong you.

If something bad happens to someone who has treated you unfairly, don’t rejoice. Pray for them. What happens to them is not about you. It’s about God trying to win them to himself. God, who is not willing that any should perish, loves that person whether we do or not. He died for him or her the same way he died for us.

Someone said the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him your friend. I’d go one step further. Introduce him to your Savior!

I don’t know who has mistreated you. If you are in an abusive situation I certainly don’t recommend you stay there. If there are bosses you need to tell or parents who need to know or police who need to deal with it I pray you will have the courage to stand up for yourself and tell someone.

But my prayer is that we all will be faithful to God’s Word and pray for those who mistreat us. That’s what God says to do so it must work.