Category Archives: Daily devotions

(2 Chronicles 7-9) Come to Jesus

We all know that Solomon was wise and rich. In fact, he was arguably the wisest and richest man who ever lived. But it occurred to me today that it was the people who flocked to him – ordinary people as well as kings – that is the message here.

And it was the man, Solomon, they came to see. It speaks to me about how the Gospel is presented these days. Do we invite people to come to God for the benefits of knowing Him? Things like health, wealth, peace, heaven?

Or do they hear an invitation to come to the Man, the person of Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world? Lay aside the material blessings associated with knowing Him. Lay aside the feelings, even lay aside eternity. Don’t we want people – don’t I want you – to meet Jesus Himself?

I guess I want people drawn to Jesus when they observe my relationship with Him. Not necessarily my lifestyle, or my attitude, or my faith. I want them to see that I have a real relationship with the King, and then want a relationship with Him, too.

The Queen of Sheba remarked how blessed Solomon’s people must be just being in his presence. I’d like people to be able to recognize how blessed I must be as I live in the Presence of God.

And ultimately, I want them to want to live there, too.

(I Kings 8) Be Specific

When King Solomon prayed, he covered all the bases, everything he could think of that would cause God to remove Himself from the people:

When a man takes an oath, when our enemies defeat us, when there is drought, or famine, when foreigners come, when we sin, when there is pestilence, blight, mildew, locusts, plague, illness… may your people return to You. Then God, hear our prayers and forgive.

I’m sitting here realizing that God would have me be more specific in my prayers, too. Not because He needs direction. But because it is a way of searching my heart, of putting my needs into words. It is identifying what I’m asking God to do, so that I will recognize His hand when answers to prayer come.

The Bible teaches that God hears… and answers… the prayers of His people. Let’s be specific.

(I Kings 3-7) Living In Splendor

The Temple is built. I can only imagine the splendor. It was a house built for the King of Kings! It must have been breathtaking with all the gold, silver, cedar, carvings and sculptures. I’m glad God included those details in the passages I read today.

But as I read, I kept thinking about how, even after seven years of careful construction and at great expense, this temple will not survive. In a few short years, things will drastically change because of the disobedience of God’s people.

What does this tell us about God? After all, the Bible is given to us so that we can know Him. What does He want us to know?

As I sat here and thought about this, I recognized how this picture of the Temple, like all Scripture, paints a picture of how God blesses obedience; but He removes Himself and His protection when His people disobey. That was true in Solomon’s day. It’s still true today.

It’s true in our personal lives, and it’s true in a nation.

I want my walk with God to be in the splendor of His glorious Presence. Like the brick and mortar temple Solomon built with all it’s glory, every minute detail designed and blessed by God as I obey Him. I am able to do that because of His grace and mercy, as I continually submit to Him.

Sadly, I sometimes find myself walking in the rubble of a temple leveled by disobedience.

We will see in the chapters and books ahead how the Israelites will try time after time to rebuild or redecorate the temple. It will never be brought back to the glory we read about in these chapters in I Kings. However, unlike the temple Solomon built, I am able to return to that splendor when I confess and repent of sin. God’s Presence is renewed, my walk blessed by Him as I follow His blueprint for my life.

May my walk today be a life marked by the glorious Presence of God. May my heart be clean according to His plan. May I stand out as someone who is walking in the splendor which is God Himself. And may I be blessed, and a blessing, as I obey Him with all my heart.

(I Samuel 20-24) My Enemy, and Your’s

The whole Saul and David thing reminds me that I have an enemy, too. My enemy pursues me with the same determination Saul pursued David. My enemy wants to see me dead every bit as much as Saul wanted to see David dead.

My enemy is God’s enemy. My enemy hates me, simply for the fact I choose God. My enemy hates me because I love God, whom my enemy hates with a hate far greater than I know. My enemy’s hate for God is played out in my life with temptations, attacks, hardships, doubts, disease. My enemy is relentless, like Saul was relentless in his pursuit of David.

Whenever I read what David said to Abiathar, I hear God say to me:

“Stay with me. Don’t be afraid, for the one who wants to take my life wants to take your life. YOU WILL BE SAFE WITH ME.” ( 22:23, emphasis mine)

My enemy, and your’s, has no power over God. My enemy, and your’s, cannot touch us when we stay with God, when we become His children through the blood of Jesus, and choose to obey Him each and every day.

Stay with God, my friend. You will be safe with Him!

(I Samuel 19:9-18) Choosing Between Pure Good and Pure Evil

The question posed in my Apologetics Bible is this: “Was Michal right to deceive and lie?” Read these verses in I Samuel, then think about it for a minute. What is your answer to that question? Was she right to lie?

The apologist said that, although God expects His people to be truthful, Michal “was not obliged to give (Saul) information that would help him carry out his wicked act,” that of killing David. He argues that if Michal had not lied, she and David would probably have died.

The writer goes on to say, “…within an environment where human sin abounds, it is not always possible to choose between pure good and pure evil.”

Thoughts?

Personally, I am appalled! God’s demand that His people be holy is NOT situational. Show me a verse where God declares that He only expects holiness of us when it’s convenient. Friend, we cannot decide to be holy when it’s easy, and allow ourselves to be unholy when things get tough.

Here’s what I believe to be true concerning Michal’s lie: She prevented God from revealing Himself to Saul (and us) in that situation. We will never know the miracle God would have performed had Michal trusted Him and told her Dad the truth. I don’t agree with the writer of the commentary that she and David would provably have died. We just don’t know how God would have saved them, because Michal lied.

Like Moses, who threw a veil over God’s power when he tapped the rock in the dessert, Michal threw the same veil over God’s power here. The reality is, both Moses and Michal sinned, and God couldn’t do great things because of their unbelief.

I believe Scripture teaches that any lie – no matter how “small” or how difficult the situation – is sin that comes with a death penalty. Lying, no matter what spin we put on it, is a slap in the face of God.

I have said it before, and I will continue to say it again and again, you and I have got to be reading God’s Word, commentaries, blogs, listening to preachers and teachers with discernment. Do not accept everything everyone says is truth. If I accepted what this apologist said, I might give myself a pass for a sin because my situation is uncomfortable, and sinning is my solution. That, dear one, would be inviting sin into my life and expecting God to be ok with it.

God will never be ok with it.

Choosing between pure good and pure evil is not only possible, it’s expected of us who know Jesus as our Savior. If we think we have to lie to get out of a difficult situation, we are preventing God from revealing Himself, perhaps preventing someone who needs Him from finding Him.

I pray you will consider this issue today. What do you believe about Michal? What do you believe about situational sin? Are all sins equal in God’s sight? Do all sins demand a death sentence? Is it your responsibility and mine to allow God to reveal Himself through us today, no matter what the situation? Do you trust Him?

I pray you and I will choose pure good today. It won’t be easy. But God will be faithful to honor our choice. I believe that with all my heart.

(I Samuel 13-15) God Regrets

God’s Sovereignty is such a mystery. Some people believe life on earth is predestined to play out exactly how God causes it to be. Others think God set the world in motion, then stepped back to see how it would progress without His intervention. Some people place themselves somewhere in the middle, and believe God’s will will always be done no matter the choices we make, because if we make one decision, He will orchestrate situations which lead to His will, if we make another decision, God will manipulate circumstances in another direction to bring about His will. Still others believe something in between all of those.

(Let me say here that I know there is one indisputable aspect of God’s will that will ALWAYS be true. That is that anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved. It’s the “whosoever” of John 3:16. Anyone who comes to God on His terms, He will in no wise cast out. Take that to the bank!)

The question of God’s Sovereignty comes up when Scripture tells us God “regretted” making Saul king. Does that mean He wished He’d appointed someone else in light of what Saul did? Is God really saying hindsight is 20/20? Are we to assume this is the same as an unhappy husband regretting he’s married his nagging wife?

The definition of regret is: “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.”

I think what we see here in I Samuel is God’s expression of sadness and disappointment. God has nothing to repent for! Remember His will for Israel was that HE would be their king. They chose a human king instead. I think God mourned the inevitable pain their rejection of Him is going to cause. What Saul did was the tip of the iceberg as we will see as we read on in the Scriptures. And that made God sad.

When you watch your child make a decision that you know is going to end up hurting them, isn’t there a bit of regret, or sadness, or disappointment? It’s the same with God. He loved the people. He loved Saul. And it grieved Him to know how their choices were going to hurt them.

God was disappointed. But He was not surprised. After all He, in His Sovereignty, had already watched the scene played out before it happened. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t break His heart.

My Apologetics Bible said this about this passage: “(God’s) relationships with people are authentic and personal, not pre-programmed.” I tend to agree.

As I think about this passage this morning, I am determined not to cause God any disappointment or sadness. I pray that I – that we all – will decide to obey Him today and bring Him only joy. No regrets.

(I Samuel 8-12) Gotta Let It Go

God had made Saul King of Israel. Yet when we next see Saul he’s out plowing his field like any other day. Wouldn’t you think God would want him doing king-stuff? It seems Saul was caught between his old comfortable life, and the unknown life for which God had anointed him.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of our past. Most of us liked it there. It was familiar, predictable, perhaps exciting. It was “us.” But when we meet God and accept His will for our lives, He asks us to turn, to leave behind the old and put on the new.

It can be uncomfortable and scary. But if we are to be the people God wants us to be, we’ve got to let go of the people we were. Sometimes it means leaving home in a physical way, leaving former friendships, overcoming old habits.

Saul could not be king hanging onto a plow. We can’t be the people God wants us to be hanging onto our pasts, either. We’ve got to let it go, leave it behind, and step toward the blessings of life according to God.

(Ruth) It’s Not Just About Love

I usually look at the book of Ruth as a lesson in love, and it truly is that. But today, I see it mostly as a picture of redemption. I think this book could easily have been named, “Boaz.” Because without Boaz’s act of redemption on behalf of Naomi and Ruth, they would have had no hope. The would have continued in their poverty for the rest of their lives.

It wouldn’t have mattered how much they’d loved each other. Their love could not have saved them. Only the work of the redeemer would take them from curse to blessing, from bitterness to joy, from death to life.

Get the picture?

We can talk about love all day, but without the redemptive work of Jesus, we are without hope. Love cannot save until it is nailed to the cross.

Do you love God? Great! Do you know He loves you? He does! But His love without His redemption will not save you.

The book of Ruth isn’t just about love. It’s about redemption.

The Gospel isn’t just about love, either. It’s about redemption.

Ruth laid everything at the feet of her redeemer, Boaz. In that act she became totally dependent on him to save her. That’s the Gospel: Putting everything we have, are, and hope to be at the feet of Jesus, becoming totally dependent on Him, confessing our sin and turning from it is our only hope of salvation. Otherwise there is no saving.

Only the work of Jesus, our Redeemer, can take us from curse to blessing, bitterness to joy, death to life. Only Jesus.

Only our Redeemer.

(Judges 14-16) Struggles With Sin

Samson led a violent, self-centered life. Even though he had been a Nazarite from birth, his actions were far from godly. Yet God blessed this man with superhuman strength. God used Samson to punish the Philistines for their rejection of Him. Samson ended up dying with the enemy.

So, where is he today? Heaven or hell? I wonder the same thing about Ravi. Can a person who does great things in the name of God, yet live an overtly sinful life, hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when they face a Holy God? Or do they hear God say, “I never knew you?”

I ask myself the same question about all of us who profess Jesus as our Savior, yet struggle with sin. Does one unconfessed sin get a free pass when we face our Judge? What about two sins not confessed? Ten? What is the limit if we die before confessing every evil thought, every vulgar word, every act of disobedience?

I think of Paul, who admittedly struggled with sin (Romans 7), yet was mightily used by God and continues to be used by God 2,000 years later. Paul called himself the worst of sinners, a wretched man, and confessed that he had to “die daily” to self. Paul was not one and done in his walk with the Lord. He committed himself to the Lord every day.

We can’t NOT be human. Humans have a sin nature. So there will always be a struggle between the spirit and the flesh. Scripture goes so far as to tell us if we think we don’t sin, we make God out to be a liar. (I John 1:10).

The struggle is real. But so is the victory over sin. Paul talks a lot about our focus, our goal. If we fix our eyes on Jesus, if we draw near to God, if we flee temptation, “God has delivered us and will continue to deliver us.” (2 Corinthians 1:10) The closer I am to God, the faster I am convicted about sin, and the quicker I am to repent of it. It is a daily struggle, sometimes a minute to minute struggle. But, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:25).

I guess I’m understanding that if a person can live in sin, can hold on to a sin and refuse to repent of it, I have to question their relationship with God. A Holy God cannot have communion with unholiness. A person comfortable with sin cannot have a real relationship with God, neither in this life nor the next.

So, the answer to my question about how many sins get a free pass, the answer is zero. But because I in myself am incapable of living a sin-free life, I need to look to Jesus. I need to check my relationship with Him every day, confess any sin immediately, and put on His righteousness since I have none of my own. I cannot be comfortable entertaining sin in my life and expect to have a right relationship with my Holy God. It can’t happen.

I don’t know what Samson, or Ravi, or anyone else said to God before they died. I believe if they confessed their sin, God was faithful and just to forgive them, to cleanse them, and to ultimately welcome them into His Presence forever. If they died holding onto their sin, I believe they will have taken those sins with them into hell.

I pray that as you and I struggle with sin today, we will look to Jesus for the victory, that we will confess quickly and sincerely repent so that sin is not repeated. I pray that none of us will become comfortable in any sin, whether in thought or word or deed. And I pray that those around us will recognize the righteousness of Jesus we wear, humbly, thankfully, boldly.

(Joshua 24) Dads

Joshua, as the spiritual head of his family, declared: “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” In other words, no matter what the decisions the other Jews made concerning obedience to God, Joshua said emphatically that his family would choose obedience.

How could he make such a statement? Didn’t his kids and grandkids have minds of their own? Couldn’t they choose to worship idols, no matter what Dad said?

Of course they could. But here’s what I hear Joshua saying:

“My family will know the truth about God because I’m going to tell them. I’m going to raise them to fear God, to love God, to serve Him according to His Word – which I will teach them. If they choose to disobey God, they are going to know what that choice entails because I will tell them exactly what the consequences of sin are. And I will do everything in my power to help them choose obedience.”

I don’t see Joshua’s declaration so much a commitment for his family, as a commit for himself to be the spiritual head of his family.

So who is the spiritual head of your family? Many households depend on the mothers to read the Bible stories, say the blessing at mealtime, be sure the kids are in Sunday School. I’m thankful for women who take on this role in their families, especially if the husband doesn’t step up. I know there are lots of moms who have had the privilege of praying with their young children to receive Jesus as their Savior. What a precious moment that must be.

But there is something about a Dad gathering up the children around him to read and explain Scripture, to pray aloud with them, then boldly living his faith in front of them. The picture of family according to God places the husband as the spiritual head, like God is the head of His spiritual family.

I am not about to get into a gender role debate. I’m a woman. I know I am capable of guiding children in the truth of Scripture. I know mothers are an essential part of their families’ existence. I’m not discounting their importance. But if I believe the Bible, I must believe we women need to allow our husbands to lead. It’s God’s design.

So men, is it time you stepped up and became the spiritual head of your family? Your children are watching and learning, watching and learning. They see through you much more clearly than you think. What do they see?

Can you, with Joshua, commit yourself to raising your children to worship God, to choose obedience rather than sin? That is your calling, your responsibility, your privilege. Your child’s eternal soul may live in your home today. But one day, that little one will go out on his or her own. Are you preparing them? Or are you hoping someone else will do that for you?

Don’t drop the ball, Dads.