Category Archives: Daily devotions

Your Faith

Isaiah 7

Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm. (7:9b, NLT)

What are your thoughts? God said this to King Ahaz when the kingdom of Judah was in serious trouble from Syria and Israel. Those two nations were primed and ready to attack the Jews in Judah, and they had the manpower to do some damage.

Ahaz was understandably nervous about the situation. Maybe nervous isn’t a strong enough word. Terrified might be more accurate. The king and the people “trembled with fear like trees shaking in a storm.” (vs2b)

God saw the fear, but He also had a plan that was much bigger than the fear the people were experiencing. So He sent Isaiah to Ahaz to encourage him.

Don’t worry, Ahaz. God’s got this. You don’t need to “fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers.” Sure, they are plotting an attack, but it will never happen.”

Now you’d think those words from God Himself would alleviate any uncertainty Ahaz was having. He had been looking at his enemies as formidable foes, but God saw them as has-been, ineffective weaklings. Ahaz had been looking at his enemies, thinking he needed to face them in his own power. God told him they had no power!

God said this about the threatening kings:

Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. (vs 8)

Israel is not stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. (vs 9)

But then he said the words I quoted at the beginning of this post. The King James version says it like this:

If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Ahaz had a choice. He could trust God to come through like He’d promised. Or he could face his enemy in his own strength, and take his chances. On the surface it seems like a no-brainer. But I’m not so sure it was.

In our present culture we celebrate self-reliance, don’t we? We admire people who have worked hard, who’ve overcome obstacles by sheer will, and who are self-made men. Yet I think that’s been true since the garden when Adam thought he didn’t need God, that he could make up his own set of rules and do just fine.

I read a post from a fellow-blogger, Darryl Dash (DashHouse.com), entitled “In Whom Do You Trust?). He said something that has me thinking:

“Whatever we trust in place of God will eventually turn on us and destroy us.”

Money? Popularity? Relationships? Power? Self? What is it you trust for your happiness and well-being? What is it you trust for your eternity?

Pastor Dash says, “Self-reliance is deadly.” I think Adam would agree.

If you read on in this chapter of Isaiah you’ll hear God say, instead of looking toward armies to protect you, look toward a child. A virgin will be with child…

There’s the crux of the matter. If you are trusting anyone or anything other than Jesus, you’re putting your faith in burnt embers and has-been kings. If you are trusting anyone or anything other than Jesus, God cannot and will not make you strong.

But, my friend. If you let go of self and shut out all the other voices out there, if you put your faith in God alone, there is no battle you need to face alone. There is no enemy too strong for God to defeat. There need be no fear, because God’s got this.

I hope you’ll take a serious look at your faith today. You might say you have faith in God. In fact, I hope you do. But do you really have faith in God? Or do you have faith in God, plus something else. You know, just in case God doesn’t come through.

Can you have equal parts of faith in God and in yourself? What could be wrong with that?

Simply put, that’s not faith in God.

And unless your faith is firm, God cannot make you stand firm.

Perspective

2 Kings 3

It was just water.

The Jews were heading toward battle and had run out of water for themselves and their horses. Of course, their first reaction was to blame God for “calling” them to war just to kill them.

God delivered them anyway. And without any rain, God filled the valley with water enough to satisfy their need.

Here’s what struck me this morning. The Moabites were positioned on the other side of the valley. When the rising sun reflected off the water, it looked red and the enemy thought – blood!! “Those stupid Jews just killed each other. Let’s go collect the plunder!”

But the Jewish armies weren’t dead. They were armed and ready for battle and soundly defeated the unsuspecting Moabites who’d mistakenly thought they had won.

Christians and non-Christians are on opposite sides of the valley. We look at the events of life, the state of our nation, our health, our struggles, and the world from different perspectives. Non-Christians can see something as a victory, not realizing it will end in defeat. Non-Christians can fight the battle by their own logic and strength, but they will end up looking foolish when they do not win.

We Christians know that a battle is not the war. Things might be hard, we might lose a battle with evil here and there. But the war is already won. Jesus wins. And as His followers, we are on the winning side.

So, on which side of the valley do you stand? What is your perspective on the events of life? I pray your feet are firmly planted on the side of God, according to His Word the Bible, and through the blood of Jesus. Because, my friend, that is the only winning side. I don’t care if you’re seeing something else from a different perspective.

Follow My Example?

I Chronicles 29

King David gave generously from his own treasures toward the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then he went to the people and challenged them to follow his example.

That spoke to me today. God has give me so much, blessed me way beyond what I deserve. Not financially, necessarily. Although I have enough to be comfortable. But I certainly don’t have the equivalent of tons of gold and silver to throw around.

Yet God is reminding me how truly rich I am.

I have my health, a working brain. I have hands and feet and a voice. I have Jesus! I have the forgiveness of my sin, and the gifts of having the Spirit of God in me: love, joy, peace…

I have God’s own words at my fingertips!

The questions then, are these: Am I using these things generously toward the building of God’s Church? Am I investing in people, introducing unsaved people to their Savior?

And, would I ever in a million years suggest you follow my example?

I’m wondering if I’d want you to put in the same amount of time I put into serving God; if I’d want you to use your talents in the same way I use mine for the glory of God. I wonder if I exercise my faith in a way I’d want you to exercise yours, or am I serving half-heartedly, giving only what I think I can afford, hoping you’ll not notice?

David said, “follow my example.” Can I say that to you?

If not, why not?

David’s prayer in verses 10-19 reminds me that everything I have belongs to God. It all came from God in the first place. I own nothing. I am nothing. But I am a steward of everything He’s given me.

May God, when He examines my heart rejoice when He finds integrity, when He finds me giving away with both hands what He’s given me, so that someone will come to His saving grace.

I pray the same for you.

Look Up

Psalm 57

David didn’t have Google. He couldn’t pull a MacArthur, Henry, or Moody Commentary off the shelf, turn on the TV to a Charles Stanley sermon, or listen to a podcast by a popular preacher. David didn’t look to Kay Arthur or Joel Osteen for answers.

In 1 Samuel 23 we see David go directly to the Lord for answers. And in Psalm 57 David shares what that entails.

  1. I look to you for protection
  2. I hide beneath the shadow of your wings
  3. I cry out to God most high
  4. I cry out to God who will fulfill his purpose in me
  5. I place my confidence in God
  6. I thank and praise God
  7. I praise God for his unfailing love and faithfulness

If you read 1 Samuel 23 you’ll see God did answer all of David’s questions.

Now, if you’ve been with me for awhile you know I don’t discount the wisdom of people shared in sermons, blogs, and commentaries. In fact, Matthew Henry said something that got me thinking along these lines this morning, and prompted me to take a closer look at Scripture.

In regard to Psalm 57:3 Henry points out “that all (David’s) expectation is from God… Those that make God their only refuge, and fly to Him by faith and prayer, may be sure of salvation, in His way and time.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume; Marshall, Morgan & Scott; 1960; p 636)

Did you catch the word “only” in that? Henry goes on to say that we can look for answers on earth, but if we do “refuge fails, no help appears.” Have you found that true in your life? I don’t care if it’s my blog rantings or the careful study of men like Matthew Henry. We can’t be your refuge! Only God can be that, and really, you shouldn’t want or need another!

Henry also says on page 636 that “those who lift up their hearts to things above may expect all good.” If we look at the Bible, in the accounts of people like Moses, Joel, David, Paul, James, etc. we will hear the exact same thing. God is the giver of good things, including insight into His Word and the rules and ability to follow them.

Oh that the Church – you and I – would put aside the books and blogs and TV shows and open our Bibles. Oh that we would not depend on the teaching of man, but would allow God to teach us by His own Words. Oh that we would stop fashioning our religion, our worship, our churches according to what makes people comfortable, and look to heaven above.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.

Can You Imagine?

Judges 17-18

In those days Israel had no king. People did as they wanted. It resulted in idolatry, war, murder, dishonesty, lawlessness. Each person could make up his own truth.

Wait.

What?

You can’t make up truth. Truth, by definition, is true. Right?

It would be utter chaos if people could make up their own truths. Can you imagine?

Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1

One of my goals in writing this blog is to encourage people to fall in love with God’s Word. I hope you are all reading it every day and allowing God to speak His Words directly to you.

Today, I just want to share what God said to Joshua as he was to begin leading Israel after the death of Moses. In the times in which we live, it just might be exactly what God wants to say to us, too. May it challenge and bless you as it has me this morning.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. This is my command – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:8-9)

Are You Taking Notes?

Deuteronomy 17

In Good News Club yesterday, one of the third graders got out his notebook and began to take notes. One of the volunteers, not knowing what he was doing, asked him to put it away. He obeyed.

Later, he let me look at what he’d written. He’d copied the memory verse, our five rules, our “Word Up” which was: God Can Change Me. He jotted down things from the lesson like, “All have sinned,” “Not everyone goes to heaven,” “Jesus died for our sins,” and John 3:16. He did such a good job!

One of the commands God gave the kings of Israel was to copy His law in their own hand. Then they were to keep their copy and read it every day.

This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way…” (17:20)

Moses also said that in writing and reading the Law, the king would learn to fear God and learn to obey the instructions.

Here’s a thought: if you are one who says you have trouble understanding Scripture, or have trouble concentrating on what you’re reading, get a notebook and a pen and begin to copy a portion of Scripture in your own hand.

Maybe copy the book of John. Or some psalms. Or copy James or one of Paul’s letters. You might be surprised at how that simple act can help your understanding, and retention of God’s Word.

It was commanded of Old Testament kings. It might be useful for God’s servants in 2022.

But even if it doesn’t help – it certainly can’t hurt!

A Diary

Numbers 33

Matthew Henry suggests Moses may have kept a diary of his forty years as Israel’s leader. In chapter 33 of Numbers, we may be seeing an expert from that diary or a summary of one. We see the route the Jews took from Egypt to the Promised Land, and it’s more like a maze than a straight line. The names of the places where they stayed reminds us of some their experiences along the way – experiences meant to teach us today.

So, would keeping a diary be important for a Christian?

I had never watched “The Amazing Race” on TV until this past season. A married couple whose You Tube channel I enjoy were contestants, so I thought I’d watch to see how far they got in the competition – and they won! I actually enjoyed watching what amounts to a race around the world, with some “roadblocks” along the way. (the maggot infested cheese was a roadblock that would have sent me home!)

Here is what this winning couple attributed to their success: Kim’s diary. Every night she would get out her notebook and write what they had done. She would draw pictures of what they had seen. Then she and her husband would study the diary in case there was a memory test at the end of the race. There was. And they won pretty easily.

So what does that have to do with anything? I don’t know about your memory, but mine isn’t what it used to be. I kind of regret not having a diary, from let’s say 2002 or 1992, so I could look back and see how God was working in my life. I’m sure the things I thought were challenging – or impossible- at the time were worked out by God, and I’d like to see how. I think that would be encouraging in my walk today.

If you are one who has been keeping a diary, let me encourage you to go back and read it. Let God show you how He’s brought you to today.

If you aren’t in the habit of keeping a diary, you might want to begin. I’m one that isn’t comfortable writing down my “feelings,” but a diary can be just the facts. You might say, well nothing happened today that would be important to journal. Maybe not at the moment. But God IS working in your life one day at a time. Maybe this “unimportant” day will play an important roll down the road.

I know keeping a diary isn’t for everyone. I guess you won’t know until you try. But there is something valuable about remembering, about looking back and appreciating the road God has walked with you. And trust me, you young folk, remembering gets harder the older you get!

You May Not… But If You Do…

Leviticus 27

I had to do some digging to understand what appeared to be a contradiction. Do you need to offer an acceptable animal to God, or is there a loophole?

What I came to realize is that this chapter is not about offering sacrifices for sin. Those animals had to be perfect, without defect or God would not forgive sin. Leviticus 27 is talking about something else all together.

What we see here are offerings to God that accompany a vow to serve Him. Matthew Henry gave the example of people wanting to sweep the tabernacle or run errands for the priests. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume; Zondervan Publishing House; 1961; page 141) These willing servants would pay for the privilege of serving, rather than expecting payment for their services.

So God gave them guidelines. The offerings were not sin sacrifices, yet the offerings still needed to be worthy of God. “Good animals” rather than “bad animals;” a fair price for a man willing to serve or the price of a house or land of the person willing to serve.

It costs to serve God. Don’t think it doesn’t.

Now, if a willing servant had only a “bad animal” it did not mean he couldn’t serve. But that “bad animal” would not be acceptable to God. In that case, the servant could bring what they had and exchange the inferior animal for a “good animal,” and offer that to God.

But that didn’t mean he could take his “bad animal” home. Both animals were accepted as the offering, and neither could be bought back.

God didn’t lower the standard because all the guy had was a “bad animal.” God didn’t say, “Well, your heart is in the right place. You had good intentions. That’s good enough.”

It wasn’t good enough. God’s requirement for this offering was a “good animal.” Period.

If the willing servant could have exchanged his inferior animal for the proper one, then taken his inferior animal home, it would have cost him nothing to serve God. And it always costs to serve God.

In fact, in this case the cost of serving God was now TWO animals instead of one. The cost went up. Warren Wiersbe talks about the cost of making rash promises to God. Those can be very costly. (With The Word; Oliver Nelson Publishing; 1991; page 84).

Do you remember the young man who told Jesus he wanted to follow Him? (see Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18). I believe he meant it, until he heard Jesus tell him the cost of following Him:

EVERYTHING!

The young man, though willing, could not bring himself to pay the price when it came right down to it.

I hope you’ve determined to follow Jesus. But don’t get caught up in emotion and make a promise you can’t keep. Count the cost. Because, just as God keeps His promises to us, He expects us to keep our promises to Him.

It’s Not Forever

Job 42

I wonder how long Job suffered. From the moment he received the terrible news of his losses, to the moment he repented after hearing God speak, was it weeks? Months? Years? I don’t know. And I don’t pretend to know the degree of pain he endured during that time, however long.

But God pointed out something to me today I think some of us need to hear:

Job’s trial didn’t last forever.

Scripture tells us he lived 140 years after the events we read about in the book of Job. The reality is, as awful as it was, Job’s problems were a blip in the span of his lifetime. After God brought him through that period, he enjoyed life for another 140 years.

Are you going through something you feel might break you? You see no way out? No silver lining? If you know Jesus as your Savior, let God assure you this is a “light and momentary affliction.” Do you know who said that? It was the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:17. If you know anything about Paul, I don’t think you’d define what he went through as light, or even momentary. The man suffered for the name of Jesus, nearly all of his adult life.

Whatever it is you are facing, God is able to see you through, even if you can’t see how. I’m not minimizing the pain you are feeling. Some of you are going through hard, hard situations right now. And some of you who went through hard times in the past, still carry the burden of loss. I know.

But I think God would have you know there is hope. Do you believe that? Do you trust Him?

Yesterday in Sunday School we talked about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I’m not going to tell you their story, but if you don’t know let me encourage you to read Daniel 3. It’s worth your time!

As the boys faced the fiery furnace, they declared their total trust in God by telling the king three things:

  1. God can rescue us
  2. We believe He will rescue us
  3. We trust Him alone with however He chooses to do that.

God doesn’t promise to keep us out of difficult situations. In fact, He tells us to expect them. What He does promise to His children is His Presence every step of the way. The king could see God’s Presence with the boys IN the fire!

And what I learn from these boys and Job is that if God brings us through our trial and gives us 140 more years to enjoy life on planet Earth, we win. If He chooses us to take us home to be with Him, we win.

Your difficulty right now will not last forever. I don’t know how God will end it, or when, but if you are His through the blood of Jesus, if you trust Him, He’s got this. Do you believe that?

I am praying that you will rest in the confidence that no matter how difficult life is right now, God is with you, God loves you, and there is a blessed solution to the problem.

It’s not going to last forever.