Monthly Archives: September 2013

September 20

Psalms 111, 112, 117, 119:1-72

The psalmists knew how important it is for us to be in the Word, to know what is there and to live by it. These authors loved God’s Word and trusted it completely. Do I? Really?

I have to say I am a woman who looks forward to reading God’s Word each day and finding out what he would reveal to me through it’s pages. But I also have to admit it is much easier to be faithful to that since I retired from teaching. If I look back at the journals I kept during my working years I would see an irregular pattern. And sometimes days and weeks would go by when I wouldn’t even open the Bible.

I think back then I thought of my daily Bible reading as just one more thing on my already busy “to-do” list. It has turned into thinking about it as a privilege these days, though.

I encourage you to read these psalms today and catch the love of Scripture these men had. Do you realize the words recorded here are God’s words to you, personally? Every time I open these precious pages I can envision a letter addressed, “Dear Connie” and signed, “Love, God”. It’s that personal.

What would God say to you today? Open his Word and find out. Catch the excitement of a child opening gifts on Christmas morning. In these pages is something amazing just for you. I pray you won’t miss it.

September 19

Nehemiah 5:1-7:3; Psalms 1, 107

They finished the wall in fifty-two days. It took nearly that long for my kitchen to be remodeled. The surrounding nations, even Nehemiah’s enemies had to recognize God’s hand in it.

I find it interesting how personal Satan’s attacks became on Nehemiah. Tobiah threatened Nehemiah’s reputation. He hounded him over and over, hoping to break him down. Tobiah intimidated some of the Jews to spy on Nehemiah and report back to him what Nehemiah was saying.

But Nehemiah stayed strong. He knew the truth and stood by it. And he continued the work God had given him to do.

That leads us right into the psalms we read today. We are blessed when we don’t listen to ungodly people. When we delight in God’s law, God uses us to win souls like a tree by the stream that bears fruit and doesn’t wither. God watches over the path of the righteous!

Psalm 107 reminds us how wonderful God’s deeds are toward us. Let’s give thanks for his unfailing love. Let’s be those trees that bear fruit no matter how often or how personal Satan’s attacks become.

Father, I pray that you will continue to strengthen your children. May we delight in your word. May we stay close to the stream of Living Water. May we bear fruit for your kingdom. Bless us, Lord with your presence, your protection, and the confidence to stand against Satan in Jesus’ name.

September 18

Nehemiah 1-4

I love the book of Nehemiah. I love it that the names of the Jews and the section of the wall they repaired are recorded. I love it that Shallum’s daughters helped him rebuild his appointed section. I love that the Jews worked hard to complete the task at the same time they were aware of the enemy and were ready to defend the city. One hand pounded nails while the other held a sword. They were workmen by day and watchmen by night.

No one person was responsible for repairing the entire wall. Everyone did his part. I can’t imagine what that wall looked like. Different people with different levels of ability worked on different sections, often right in front of their own homes. 

Did they each put their personal touch on their section? Did Shallum’s daughters decorate their portion with flowers and rainbows? Uzziel was a goldsmith. Did he put a little sparkle in his section? And did the perfume-maker Hananiah douse his stones in fragrance? Were there little handprints pressed into the mortar or initials dug into the stone?

I love reading Nehemiah because it reminds me of what the Church should look like today. Each of us doing our part, planting seed as we take soup to a sick neighbor, teach Sunday School or sing in the choir, putting our personal touches on God’s work as part of a worshiping fellowship. All of us working individually toward one common goal.

It reminds me that there is an enemy we need to be aware of and we need to be ready to go to battle at any time. It also reminds me that, when God is in our efforts, when he is on our side because we are obedient, our enemy doesn’t stand a chance against us.

I hope you are involved in a Bible believing fellowship of believers. And I hope you are putting your own personal touch in the work there. May God be pleased with our efforts as we work together to further his kingdom, the winning of lost souls. One brick, one soul at a time.

September 17

Ezra 8:15-10:44; I Chronicles 3:17-24

Many Israelites had married foreign wives. It was an act of blatant disobedience toward God. The marriages themselves weren’t the only problem. The Israelite men allowed their foreign wives to bring their false religions into their homes.

The New Testament warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Why is that? What’s the big deal?

We are commanded to be holy as God is holy. He does not tolerate sin, he does not condone sin, he is not in the presence of sin. And he demands the same of us. We are to guard our hearts. We are to flee temptation. We are to live lives set apart so God can be revealed in our lives. There is a thin line between being involved in the lives of unsaved friends in order to win them to the Lord and being legally, financially, emotionally identified with them.

The Israelites we read about in Ezra had to send their wives and any children they had by them back to their foreign countries. Their association with those idol worshipers had to stop no matter how deeply “in love” they were.

I don’t know what relationships you are in. But if you are dating a non-Christian I can tell you without hesitation you have to end it. The Bible is so clear about that. Trust God to honor your obedience. Don’t expect him to bless you if you are disobeying him.

If you are already married to a non-believer I’m not going to pretend to know how to counsel you. Maybe you went into the relationship unequally yoked or maybe you have become a believer since your wedding day. All I know is that you are going to have to work hard to stay true to God. 

What do you do if your spouse begs you to sleep in Sunday morning because that’s the only time you have together this week? What do you do if your spouse wants you to run errands together during the time you have set aside to read your Bible? What happens when your spouse wants to take the kids shopping or fishing instead of them going to church with you? The choices are endless and difficult. You will spend your life balancing being a godly man or woman, a loving and supportive spouse, a parent raising children to honor God, and a person caught in the middle.

God’s demand that we not be unequally yoked with unbelievers wasn’t given because God is a buzz-kill. It was given so that our lives would be better, happier, our homes more loving and united. I’m not advocating divorce on the basis that a spouse isn’t a Christian, don’t get me wrong. God hates divorce. I am advocating Christians date only Christians, however. And I am certainly telling you God demands Christians marry only Christians.

If you are in a dating relationship with a non-believer I am praying that you will have the courage to walk away before it’s too late. If that relationship is more important than God’s will for your life you have already brought an idol into your home.

If you are in an unequally yoked marriage I am praying for you today. May God give you strength and resolve to follow him without compromise. I pray for your spouse that he or she will see in you something that is better than what they have without God. I pray for wisdom, for love, for patience, for confidence, and direction.

May God be glorified in all our relationships.

September 16

Psalm 106; Ezra 7:1-8:14

Just when it seemed the rebuilding of Jerusalem would never happen, that Satan had won, King Artaxerxes wrote Ezra a letter and sent him and the other Jews on their way to continue the work. In fact, he sent them away with silver and gold, livestock for sacrifices, and gave them permission to gather more if they needed. Do what the God of heaven tells you, he said.

The theme of obedience is such an important one in Scripture. Our holy God demands holiness of his people. He has lovingly put to pen and paper the rules he demands we live by so there would be no mistake. He even went to the cross himself to provide forgiveness, knowing we humans are incapable of holiness on our own. 

He demands obedience. The Bible says we should fear him, we should be very afraid to disobey him because the consequences for sin are severe.

Ezra was faithful to God and God used Ezra to complete his work. God is looking for faithful followers today because there is work to be done on a spiritual Jerusalem built in souls redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Satan has no power over God. Let’s determine to be obedient servants to the One who is all powerful. Let’s stay in his Word, praying and working to expand his kingdom by the winning of lost souls. 

Dear God of heaven, may you find us faithful today. May we obey you, may we share you with someone, may we do our part to continue your work. And may you get the glory!

September 15

Esther 9:18-10:3; Ezra 4:6-23; Psalm 105

Those little troublemakers finally got their way. The Jews working to rebuild Jerusalem were forced to stop because a few foreigners got to the king. They had tried before with Xerxes but that king liked the Jews. So they waited for Artaxerxes and he listened to their complaints and stopped the work.

Has that been your experience with Satan? We win one victory over temptation only to be faced with another. We get through one difficult situation only to be hit with another, more difficult one. If we are God’s children there is a target on our backs and Satan is taking aim to prevent us from serving the Lord.

Take heart, dear one. Hold on. Keep trusting God no matter what circumstance you face.

The psalm we read today reminds us of how God worked through the nation of Israel. They faced hard times. They were slaves in Egypt but God brought them out with rejoicing and shouts of joy, laden with silver and gold. Why did God deliver them and settle them in Canaan? Verse 45 says:

that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws.

Obey God in good times and in bad. Face our enemy with God at your side. Our Lord can bring you out of whatever it is Satan is throwing at you with rejoicing and shouts of joy.

Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for your word to us again today. Some of us are feeling the stings of Satan’s arrows. Our lives are difficult and we hurt. So thank you for reminding us that you are here and you are able to defeat our enemy, to bring good out of our trouble. May we be obedient children regardless of our situations. Keep us strong. Keep us focused. And may others see your hand in our lives. We want to keep your work going, Lord, so that lost souls can find you.

September 14

Esther 5:1-9:19

Haman was pretty sure of himself. The King asked for his advice. The Queen invited him to lunch. His wife and his friends told him how great he was. And Haman made plans. He would destroy his enemy and life would be perfect.

Those were Haman’s plans. They weren’t God’s. Haman set in motion the very thing that would destroy him. The gallows he built to hang Mordecai were the gallows that ended his own life.

The lesson here today just might be a warning. The plans we have for ourselves, the future we envision just might result in the destruction of our souls if carried out.

Have you had doors close in your face only to try to crawl through a window to get what you want? Does it seem like for every step you take to get closer to your goal you wind up taking two steps back? Maybe you should rethink your goal.

I have shared that my dad died last year. One year ago today, to be exact. My sisters and I have the job of selling our childhood home. It looked like it had sold last spring but after three months of one roadblock after another, we decided to put it back on the market. Our prayer has always been that God would bring a Christian family to that home, to love it and make memories like the ones we have of living there. God did bring that family and we are scheduled to close next week. Parents with two daughters (we love the idea of another family of girls living there after we five) will live and grow inside those precious walls. We weren’t necessarily thankful for the roadblocks last spring but we can see God’s hand at work for this young family today.

How do we respond to roadblocks? We need to ask ourselves if the roadblocks are put there by Satan to try and stop God’s work, or are they put there by the loving hand of God to prevent us from disaster.

Pray. Stay in the Word because it is God’s roadmap. In these precious pages are all you need to know about finding God’s plan for your life. Let him guide you so that people can recognize him and want him in their lives, too.  That’s God’s ultimate plan for each of us.

Remember… God certainly does not want you to be hanging from gallows built by your choices.

September 13

Esther 1-4

Why is the book of Esther included in Scripture? God isn’t even mentioned in its chapters. Yet Esther’s life paints a beautiful picture of some important spiritual truths.

For instance, Vashti refused to obey the King so her position as  queen was snatched from her and given to someone else. Could this be a picture of the nation of Israel who refused to obey God or accept Jesus only to see their position given over to the New Testament Church?

Is Hamar a picture of Satan who would try to trick us into honoring him? And in the next few chapters will we be encouraged by his defeat?

Are we to learn to depend on God, to go to him boldly after spending time fasting and praying? At the end of chapter 4 Esther is ready to do whatever it takes, even if it results in her death. Can we learn the same determination to obey God?

Esther’s story is a good one and it has even inspired several movies, including one of my favorite movies. But while we read this story of love and bravery, let’s ask God what he wants each of us to learn. There are lessons here for us in 2013.

Dear God, I thank you for including Esther’s story among those you’ve preserved as Scripture. As we read this book I pray that you would speak to each of us and teach us what you would have us learn. May we love you, trust you, stand up against Satan, and be the Queen… the people… who make a difference in our world. And may you get the glory!

September 12

Zechariah 10:1-14:21

So Zechariah shepherded a flock of sheep that had been marked for slaughter. He must have been kinda tough on the sheep because Scripture says the flock detested him. You can read the account for yourself but in the end, Zechariah quits his job.

He tells the flock (which tells me we’re not talking about wooly sheep here) they could pay him if they think it best. If not, he said, then keep it. 

So… they gave Zechariah thirty pieces of silver. You heard me right. Thirty pieces of silver. Hmmm.

Now here’s where I think it gets interesting. God told Zechariah to throw the silver to the potter. God called it “the handsome price at which they priced me.” Past tense.

Zechariah takes the thirty pieces of silver and throws it into the house of the Lord. Did Judas and the priests read this portion of Scripture hundreds of years after it was written and follow it like a script? Or does God see the end from the beginning?

Is God ever surprised at the events of our lives? The answer, of course, is no. But that doesn’t mean he stops wooing us, calling us, trying to get our attention until the last second. Some of us can get pretty fearful of the future. But rest assured God knows. And in the end, he is going to win and those of us who know him will be on the winning side. 

Father, I pray that your children will trust you with today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that as long as you give us life. Thank you for reminding us that you know the number of our days and that you promise to never leave or forsake us. May we find comfort and confidence in knowing you. Thank you, too, for demonstrating that your written Word is true and that we can put our trust in you because you are who you say you are. And thank you that, as one sheep who was marked for slaughter, you sent Jesus to die in my place so that I can fellowship with you here in this life, and spend eternity with you in heaven.

September 11

Psalms 118, 129, 148, 149, 150; Ezra 6:19-22; Zechariah 9:1-10

I was standing in front of my sixth grade class when our secretary came to the door and asked me to step into the hall. I knew something was wrong by the look on her face. As head of the AV department I knew how to operate the school’s classroom TV’s from our hub in the main office. She wanted to know how to turn on the office TV without turning on all the TV’s in the school. A plane had hit one of the Twin Towers and it was all over the news.

Do you remember where you were the moment you heard about the terrorist attack on our country? Thousands of people spent the last minutes of life in unspeakable panic while the rest of us watched helplessly.

I couldn’t help but think of that day when I read Psalm 118 this morning.

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.”

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

“The Lord is with me, he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.”

I wish I could say that our country heard the wake-up call and turned back to God after that awful day. I wish Satan had been defeated. But I look around and see even more godlessness, more lies, more depravity than I saw before 9/11.

What’s wrong with us? How could we let those dear people die in vain?

Dear Christian, let’s continue to pray for our nation. We have seen what can happen when God removes his protection and I don’t want us to ever forget. Let’s pray for our President, for his relationship with the Savior, for wisdom, for honesty and truthfulness. Let’s pray for our Legislators. Pray that those who know God will stand for the truth of Scripture. Pray that the decisions they make won’t be based on a party policy, but on what God says. Pray for our military that God would strengthen those brave men and women who know him and are serving our country to protect our freedoms. Pray for their families whose sacrifice is equally as important. Pray that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit will change lives in government, in the military, in the media, in our towns, in our churches, and in our homes. Pray that Satan would be defeated in the hearts of Americans and, in turn, our great country. Pray that God will bless America with himself because he has found us faithful. 

And pray for the families and loved ones of those whose lives were lost or whose bodies were broken on 9/11 and in the war in the Middle East since that day. May they allow God to be their comfort and strength and may each of them… each of us who call America our home… bow before our Holy God and realize our need of him. Only then can we truly be that nation under God.

I will give thanks to the Lord for he is good. He may have removed his protection that day but he did not remove his love. Men can do unspeakable crimes against each other as we saw on 9/11 but they can’t kill my soul or take away God’s grace from my life. And, although Satan may have won that particular battle through those terrorists, he cannot win the war he’s declared on our God.

It’s a spiritual war we are in, but it often shows itself in bombs and chemicals and crashing airplanes. America, let’s be counted as followers of the God of Creation. Let’s side with the victors, those who follow Christ. Then we can say with the Psalmist: 

The Lord is with me, he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.