Tag Archives: daily devotions

(Proverbs 28-31) Read It For The Change

These proverbs – any proverb, really – aren’t meant to be taken materially as much as figuratively and, more importantly, spiritually. You don’t read verses like 29:15, then go out and buy a metal rod or a wood dowel to beat your child with. 28:27 isn’t promising financial wealth for people who give to charity.

If a proverb speaks of a man, and another speaks of a woman, neither verse is gender specific. The lesson can and should be applied to all of us. But… if you read a proverb like 29:3, and are offended at the example of a man, a father, and a female prostitute because of the wording of the proverb, Satan has successfully thrown a barrier between you and the truth God wants you too see.

If you read Proverbs 31:10-21, and limit yourself to thinking these verses are intended to teach young women how to be good wives, Satan has placed a barrier between you and the truth God wants you to learn as you consider your own walk with Him.

You, men. You, women. You, Church.

Because those verses are not just about being a good wife, although that is absolutely what it is teaching. It is also a beautiful picture of what I as a follower of Jesus should look like to my neighbors. It’s a beautiful picture of what the Bride of Christ, the Church – your church fellowship – needs to look like to the world.

A while back I was in a class where the teacher was using these verses, speaking quite literally about how wives need to treat their husbands. It was a good and challenging lesson to the married women there. But the teacher had no application for those of us who were unmarried.

At the end of the lesson, she asked for comments or questions. I complimented her on her lesson, then shared that I had heard a sermon years ago on these same verses in regard to the Church as the Bride of Christ. I said it had challenged me in my own walk with the Lord, and my role in my church fellowship.

She was silent. Then she said, “We need to be careful not to make Scripture say what it doesn’t say.”

Now, I agree with that 100%. But I also think we need to be careful not to ignore the lessons the Scripture teaches by limiting ourselves to a material interpretation only.

I share that to challenge you to read God’s Word and how it applies to you. I don’t want you to read verses like these in Proverbs and think God doesn’t have something He wants you to consider for yourself. All Scripture is God breathed and profitable to instruct, correct, and equip you for serving Him.

There is something in every verse that can encourage or convict you, cause you to rejoice or mourn. Don’t just read it for the knowledge. Read it for the change God wants to see in you.

Let Him speak to you, discipline you, equip you to be the servant you are. If you read it, and it doesn’t speak directly to your heart, read it again. That just means you weren’t paying attention the first time, because there IS a lesson for you in the pages of God’s Word every time you read it.

Read it. Read it again. Let it change you.

(Proverbs 14-17) Do You Compromise?

If you don’t have a copy of Warren Wiersbe’s “With the Word, Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook,” I highly recommend you get one. Not to be used in place of reading Scripture for yourself, of course. I often will read a chapter (or several) in my Bible during my morning devotional time, then look to see how Wiersbe summarized them. Many times reading what Wiersbe said prompts me to go back to my Bible and re-read all or parts of those passages again, and let God be the final authority.

This handbook has been especially useful for me as I’ve been reading Solomon’s proverbs. Today, Wiersbe pointed out Proverbs 14 challenges the words I say, Chapter 15 challenges me about my heart’s condition.

It’s a question Wiersbe asked in his comments on page 423 concerning Chapter 17 that has me thinking. Actually, a series of questions:

What do you listen to?
What do you rejoice in?
What do you talk about?
What do you get angry at?
What do you give in to?

He points us to the verses in Chapter 17 that speak to each of those questions. It’s been a good study for me this morning.

But it’s his last question I find myself considering as I examine my heart today. It has me asking myself if I compromise on what I know to be true according to God’s Word. Wiersbe asks:

“Is your conscience for sale?”

Is yours?

(Word by Word; Warren Wiersbe; Thomas Nelson Press; Nashville; 1991; pages 421-423)

(Psalm 119:97-104) The Master Teacher

I know there are Christians who depend heavily on Bible study curriculum to help them understand as they read God’s Word. I myself appreciate reading the opinions of Bible scholars like Matthew Henry, Warren Wiersbe, John MacArthur, and others. I actually teach a Bible Study using one such curriculum. But I stand behind my conviction that the best use of our time in God’s Word is reading God’s Word.

Referring to Bible helps occasionally and as a supplement is one thing. But substituting a Bible study guide for Scripture is another thing. The book of Job tells us we won’t find God’s wisdom from each other. Finding God’s wisdom requires searching Scripture for ourselves, digging into God’s Word one verse at a time. It requires you and I to get in there and do the work ourselves.

If you read this part of Psalm 119, you’ll hear what God inspired the psalmist to write. Verse 97 sets the stage. He expresses his love for God’s instruction. In fact, he says he meditates on it all day long.

The psalmist tells God he realizes he has more insight into and understanding of the things of the Lord than do the teachers and elders, and has learned to obey God because “you yourself have instructed me.” That is awesome! Can you have better insight into God’s Word than your pastor? Can you understand God’s Word better than your Sunday School teacher or favorite author? The psalmist seems to be indicating it’s possible if God Himself is your instructor.

So who is instructing you? I hope it’s not just me. I hope it isn’t only your pastor or the Daily Bread. I hope and pray that you spend some quiet time with your Bible open in front of you and ask God to be your teacher. I hope you’ll read the Old Testament and the New, slowly, prayerfully, expecting God to give you understanding.

You may think you “can’t” understand Scripture. Let God prove you wrong. He is the Master Teacher!

(Psalm 119:1-40) Digging for Treasure

Our Sunday School lesson yesterday was from Job 28 where Job talks about mining for treasure, and how God’s wisdom is so much more valuable than any gem or mineral men work so hard to get. Our challenge was to “mine” the treasures in God’s Word with the same intentional effort as a miner of gold.

Then today, as I continue with reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in 2021, I found myself in Psalm 119. Yes, the psalm that talks about God’s Word in every verse, the psalm that celebrates the treasures in Scripture.

I love God!

I had intended to read through the entire chapter, all 176 verses. But there is so much treasure here to gather, I couldn’t just skip over the surface. I had to dig. I had to pull out everything I could, one gem at a time.

But here’s the thing: If I read God’s Word, and if I do it slowly, thinking about what I read, if I stop and look at what others have said about these verses, and go back and read the verses again, if I gain all the knowledge about what Scripture says, but don’t write in on my heart and allow it to change me, I miss out on the chance to glorify God and be blessed by Him. If I don’t actually use what treasures I’ve mined, why bother?

It would be like digging for diamonds, and just putting the lump of rock on a shelf and forgetting it. What makes the diamond valuable is the cutting and polishing and use of it.

Same thing with God’s Word. The psalmist knows the value of actually loving God’s law AND obeying it; things like happiness, a life lived without fear of being “found out” with some hidden sin, a life lived unashamed. Things like knowing God hears – really hears – when I pray. The fact that He gives me understanding of His Word when I ask Him. And the amazing blessing of life lived through God’s own righteousness.

James 1:22-25 tells us there is blessing not just from hearing God’s Word, but in obeying it.

As Christians we are God’s servants. Not the forced and oppressed kind of slaves that might come to mind. But people who are privileged to serve, people who love to please our loving Father kind-of-servants. And our loving Father has written down exactly how we can please Him, gave us our “honey-do” lists, our instruction book and lesson plan, step by step instructions that spell it all out. He makes His will known through the pages of Scripture so we CAN serve Him.

The beauty of Scripture is the fact that the more time we spend reading and taking it in, the better we get to know God. The more we know God, the more we want to know Him. The more we know Him, the more we love Him. The more we love Him the more we want to please Him, to spend time with Him reading what He wrote, which helps us to know Him better, love Him more, serve Him in a way that pleases Him, and so on and so on and so on.

It’s a glorious cycle! And in this cycle of knowing God, loving His Word, and obeying Him there is such joy!

Matthew Henry said that the joy that comes from knowing God like that should be the “wheels” to our obedience. It comes back to the Bible. Because if we want to obey God, we find out how to obey Him in His Word.

And if we read His Word, we want to obey Him.

Is your head spinning? It’s cool to think of this cycle like a spiral, or the ripples in the water when you toss a pebble into it. The rings get bigger and bigger as it reaches further and further out. God blesses us who love His word, and as we love His Word more, the blessing grow, reach out, multiply.

Now let me say I’m glad you are reading this post. I am thankful for people like Henry, Wiersbe, MacArthur and others who have studied God’s Word and shared their insight through hundreds of books and commentaries.

But A.W Tozer warns us about the difference between being “man taught” and “God taught.” I think that’s something we need to take seriously. The psalmist is celebrating the beauty of God’s Word, and the blessing of reading it, meditating on it, loving it, desiring it, longing for it, writing it on our hearts. Nothing – NOTHING – compares to spending time in the pages of the Bible for yourself and allowing God to open your minds and hearts to what He wants to say to you.

I pray that you will dig for treasure today as you open your Bible and begin to read. The treasure you will find is priceless.

(Psalm 1) Blessed To Bless

I’ve never really studied the psalms. I’ve read them often and have been blessed and challenged by certain phrases that stand out to me as I quickly read over them. But I’ve never dug deeper into them as I have other places in God’s Word. I think it’s time.

So using the opinions written by Bible scholars like those who contribute to my Apologetics Study Bible, Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Worshipful,” Matthew Henry, Josh Hunt, and others, I’m going to take one psalm at a time, word by word, and prayerfully consider this portion of Scripture like I’ve never done before. This could take a while.

I memorized Psalm 1 in the KJV when I was a youth. It’s taken decades to really look at what God would have me know through these familiar verses. In fact, as I’ve looked at this psalm for the past 2 1/2 hours, I am challenged to do what it says!

The first word in this psalm is “blessed,” or “happy,” and isn’t that something we all aspire to? I don’t know that anyone would say they just want to be miserable and to go through hard times. So, here is the key to happiness according to God’s Word:

First what not to do. Don’t go the way of the world. Don’t go along with the crowd. Don’t take what your professors or politicians or rockstars or pro-athletes or peers or news anchors say as gospel. The loudest voices aren’t always the right voices, aren’t always the truthful voices.

Some of those voices mock Christianity, reject Truth, deny God. Do you want to be happy and blessed? Don’t walk with them. God would have us know that the blessed, the happiest people are those who don’t listen to the ungodly, are those who don’t align themselves with unbelievers.

Here’s the other aspect of the key to happiness: Love God’s Word. Yes, love the Bible. Read it, but don’t stop there. Pray about it. Think about it day and night. Let it become a part of you.

Commentaries and study guides help. I’m going to be looking at several while I study the psalms in the next few weeks (or months at the rate I’m going). But there isn’t a Bible teacher or Bible scholar who can replace the treasure that is God’s own Words.

In fact, if you need counsel, direction, advice for life, there is no better place to go than to the Giver of life! Happy, blessed, are those who make Scripture a priority.

The psalmist compares people who are grounded in God’s Word to a healthy tree, planted by water, and bearing fruit. It is a picture which demonstrates that our nourishment comes from spending time in God’s Word. Reading the Bible and allowing it to feed us produces fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Now here is something Warren Wiersbe said, “We must remember that the tree doesn’t eat the fruit; others eat it.” (Be Worshipful; by Warren Wiersbe; David C Cook publisher; 2009; p 22))

When we delight in God’s Word, we bear fruit that will bless others. That in itself is WHY we are blessed. If we want to be blessed so we feel blessed, if the blessing stays with us and becomes more important than the Giver of the blessing, that is idolatry. And idolatry is sin. (from page 21 of “Be Worshipful)

The prosperity the psalmist speaks of is the number of eternal souls saved by the fruit we bear.

The psalmist gives a warning to those he calls, “wicked,” those who follow the way of sinners and sit with the ungodly. Their judgment is sure. In the end, they will be separated from the righteous (not the sinless because none of us are without sin. But righteousness comes to those who delight in God’s Word and bear fruit for the kingdom as a result of an encounter with Jesus).

That separation is ruin. Loss. Pain. The antithesis of anything right. And it will never end.

I am challenged today. I do love spending time in God’s Word. I want to love it more. I am blessed by the Spirit’s gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But I don’t want to just sit here and get fat on my blessings. I want to bless others with the blessings I’ve received.

Well, this was a long post. If you are still with me, thanks! Not sure I would have done the same if I were you. I pray that you and I will delight in God’s Word every day, think about it throughout the day, let it nourish us and strengthen us so that we bear fruit today, and that someone will be drawn to our precious Savior because we are doing what Psalm 1 instructs us to do.

To we who are blessed, let’s be a blessing.

Just Can’t Get Enough (Luke 19)

because all the people hung on his words. (verse 48b)

Have you ever been in love? Did you think that person was the smartest, cleverest, most interesting person you had ever known? Did you hang on every word he or she said? You just couldn’t get enough, could you?

That’s how the people responded to Jesus when he was teaching in the temple. And that’s how I want to respond every time I read God’s Word.

I don’t want my quiet time to be just another thing on my daily to-do list. I don’t want to read with my mind on something else. Every time I open these precious pages I want to sit at Jesus’ feet and hang on every word.

I love Him! And I just can’t get enough!

October 17; Do You Wonder?

Mark 9:2-37; Matthew 17:1-23, 18:1-5; Luke 9:28-48

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year, I have the privilege of volunteering at Good News Clubs in two of our local elementary schools. Between the two schools, we are sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with almost 100 children.

I wish you could see their faces and hear their comments and questions as God begins to reveal Himself to them, and draw them to Himself. Some children have never heard the Biblical accounts of real people with whom God walked and talked so many years ago. And some who have already heard the stories, begin to understand the meaning behind them. I’m telling you, it’s a blessing every week. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm is contagious.

Jesus told His disciples that all of us must approach Him through the eyes of a child. Oh, to have that wonder, that excitement in hearing God’s Word, to have open hearts and uncluttered minds eager to learn.

I think sometimes we might open our Bibles after years of walking with the Lord and think, “I’ve heard it all before.” But friend, if we go to God with the understanding that we are as ignorant as children concerning spiritual things, God will continue to teach us. If we close ourselves off to more, we’ll stay right where we are.

Now, please, I am not talking about a new revelation that is extra-Biblical. I’m not talking about twisting what God says in His Word to come up with a new enlightenment, or new religion. But there are things we can learn from God’s Word that are backed up and true according to Scripture.

Let’s not miss what God wants us to know at this time in our lives, thinking we are already mature in the Lord. Oh, maturity is a good thing. We are told to grow in grace and knowledge, to study to show ourselves approved.

But let’s not lose the wonder, and the blessing that is God’s Word.

 

September 21; A Layer At A Time

Psalm 119:73-176

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (verse 130)

I like the word the NIV uses as the “unfolding” of the understanding of God’s Word. The truth is, no one completely ¬†understood Scripture the first time they read it. No one. Not even Billy Graham or Ravi Zacharias. God unfolds understanding through His Word one layer at a time.

For years I would begin with Genesis 1:1 on January 1, determined to read it all by New Year’s Eve, only to find myself still in Exodus in May. Life, my job, stuff took priority over my time in God’s Word.

I began earnestly reading through the Bible every year when I retired in 2011. Before that I may have made it from Genesis to Revelation maybe four times total. But this year, before we welcome 2020 in January, I will have read the Bible cover to cover for the seventh time in eight years, God willing. (I slowed down in 2017-18 and read it through in two years. You can read that journey in the archive of this blog)

I have sat here and considered how God has unfolded understanding of His Word to me over the years. For many years I would read a passage and my thoughts would go to a sermon I had heard about those verses, or a lesson my Sunday School teacher had taught on the subject. I’d remember some author I’d read, and be assured that what I’d always heard was true, that my denomination had a lock on Scripture.

Even when I’d come across a verse that seemed to contradict what I’d always been taught, I’d get out a commentary from a like-minded theologian and rest in his or her take on it. I read the Bible through other people’s eyes.

But today as I consider what the psalmist said, I realize that isn’t the case so often any more. In fact, now when I am reading the Bible, instead of recalling a sermon I’ve heard, my thoughts often go to a parallel Bible verse I’ve read in the past. I recall a Bible story that illustrates the truth I’m reading. I realize God is unfolding understanding of His Word by His Word.

Verse 169 says:

May my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word.

According to your word.

Folks, I am not an intellectual. I was never in gifted classes in school. I graduated from college right in the middle of the academic standings. I am a simple woman.

But God is unfolding the understanding of His Word one layer at a time, because I’m reading it. I’m thinking about it, praying about it. I write about it, but even that is just my personal way of recording what I am learning. The point is God is helping me understand Scripture because I am reading Scripture.

I promise you, if you read the Bible asking God to unfold understanding – HE WILL! He wrote it with you in mind. Of course He wants to help you understand it.

Read it. Then read it again.

September 20; A Real Life Author

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

When I worked in the middle school, we invited one of our students’ favorite authors to come and spend a day with us. This woman had written a series of books about children which had captured the imagination of pre-teens all over the country. And she was coming to visit us!

The kids were in awe when that woman entered a classroom. I have to admit I was a bit awe-struck myself.

Here’s what I remember about that day. The students who had read the books were attentive, and asked great questions. It was almost like they already knew and loved her. They couldn’t get enough of this woman’s story. The students who hadn’t read the books looked bored, either didn’t participate or they asked silly, meaningless questions. And those who hadn’t read the books were the students who were first out of the door when class was over. The others had to be pried away from the author.

The author of Psalm 119 spends 176 verses writing about his love for God’s Word. He believes it, studies it, cherishes it, lives by it, considers it precious. The psalmist knows and loves the Author because he’s spent time reading and learning what the Author has written.

Sometimes I think we put so much emphasis on worshiping and serving God we forget to get to know Him. And the only way we can know Him is by reading what He wrote. I find that the more I read God’s Word, the more I love reading God’s Word. The more I get to know God through His Word, the more I love Him. The more time I spend in God’s Word, the more I want to worship Him in Truth, serve Him out of gratitude for the privilege of knowing Him through His Word.

As I look back on the day that real life author came to town, I realize some of the kids got to hear about her books, the plots and characters, through what other people said about them. But the kids who had spent time actually reading the books got to know the author, could understand the plots and characters because they had experienced them first hand on the pages of the books. It seemed they shared an inside secret with the author the others could not understand.

One day we will all meet the real life Author. Will I know Him as a result of having had the first hand experience of getting to know Him through His Word? Or will I look into His eyes and only know what others have told me about Him?

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hit “publish,” and re-read these psalms today. I’m going to spend some more time with the real life Author.

 

April 13; How Much Better Would It Be?

I Samuel 13:24-14-52; I Chronicles 8:1-9

The Israelites were at war, and God gave them one victory after another. Saul had tunnel vision, which probably isn’t really a bad thing for a leader. But what I see here is that Saul’s tunnel vision had him wanting to defeat the enemy, without caring for the fighting men who were putting their lives on the line. The Bible tells us Saul was so intent on winning, he threw out an oath and cursed anyone who ate anything until he had “avenged himself on (his) enemies.”

“Fight!” he seems to say. “Attack and kill! And don’t you dare stop even long enough to eat anything until I have the victory.”

The Bible says the men were in distress because of it. I love what Jonathan said when he heard what his dad had demanded of them. In effect, Johnathan replied,

“That’s just stupid.”

Just a taste of honey made a noticeable difference in Johnathan’s appearance and strength. How much better would an entire meal be?

We are at war with our enemy Satan. And I wonder if some of us aren’t fighting one battle after another without stopping to feed our souls. We neglect our private time with the Bread of Life. We don’t drink from the Living Water when we don’t pray, when we don’t meditate on His Word.

Yet we’re out there fighting Satan, weak as we are. Johnathan asked, “How much better would it have been if the fighting men had stopped to eat…?” I’m asking the same thing of us.

How much better would our day be, how much more decisive would our victory be, if we’d take on every day, every battle, not in our own strength – but in the strength of the Lord? Thinking we can fight Satan without a nourished soul is, in effect just… well…

stupid.