1 Kings 8, 9:1-9

Read 1 Kings 8, 9:1-9

In these chapters we get a glimpse of what we might call a “ribbon cutting ceremony,” or a “grand opening.” The temple, God’s house, is finished and the ark is being placed in it. And from the descriptions provided in the text, clearly, God’s temple was a big deal. 

Afterall, this was a place for God to dwell. It was a place to meet with Him, and offer sacrifices. The text explains the importance of the temple, its purpose, and even its holiness. We also know the temple was incredibly beautiful. But there’s more to this temple than what the text says. There’s a twist no one, at the time, could ever imagine.

In chapter 9, the Lord tells Solomon, “One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.” 

That descendant is Jesus. 

So, what’s the twist? Those knowing this promise were expecting an earthly King to sit on the throne of David. 

But, when Jesus came, He didn’t come as an earthly king. He came as king over everything and changed the way we communed with God. The people knowing God’s Word at the time would not have foreseen this turn of events.

Because of Jesus, we no longer must go to the temple and make sacrifices to be with God. For those that choose to follow Jesus, He has made His temple in us.  Let that sink in.

The glamourous, holy temple Solomon built for God as a place for us to meet with God—Jesus does away with the building and makes His home or temple in His believers.  

The Holy place and the very presence of God, dwells in us. Incredible.

Blessings

Psalm 119:49-128

Read Psalm 119:49-128

Often, when we pray, we come to the Lord with our list of requests. We seek Him to heal a sickness, or to open a door for a promotion. “Lord, please do…” and we can fill in the blank with endless possibilities. 

But, when I read through the book of Psalm, I’m encouraged to think a little different about the way I pray. 

In fact, everything about the way I’ve thought about prayer changes. 

It moves me from a place of only needing or making my requests known, to a place of gratitude. A place where I’m intentionally being thankful for God and who He is. 

Reading through Psalm 119, verses 49 – 128 in particular, the Psalmist reminds of the confidence we can have in our Lord. It’s His word that sustains us. We can thank Him for that.

We’re reminded of how God’s Word revives us even in our suffering. And we’re reminded to seek God’s Word and go to Him with all that we are. 

We have a God who is for us, who wants to be with us, who wants us to seek after Him. He’s just so good.

No matter our situation or circumstance, we can thank God for who He is and all that He’s done, doing, and will do in our lives. 

Blessings

2 Samuel 11 & 12

Read 2 Samuel 11 & 12

From shepherd boy, to giant slayer, to King, the account of David’s life as told in the Bible is world renown. He was a poet, musician, and warrior. David was even called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). And if David wasn’t grand enough, Jesus, the savior of the world, is his descendant.

However, in today’s reading we’re not encountering another great moment from King David. These chapters reveal quite the opposite. They’re chapters David probably would rather not have been published. And don’t we all have those chapters in our life? Chapters we pray never get read by our friends and family. Yet, David’s life, the good and very bad, are on public display. 

This man “after God’s own heart”, spirals down the wrong path in the worst way. First, he wasn’t where he should have been. His men were at war, and as a King, he should have been there instead of on his rooftop. Second, he coveted and wanted what he shouldn’t have–Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his finest warriors. 

In only a few sentences, David becomes an adulterer, and a man who uses his power and position against Bathsheba, which in today’s society constitutes rape or sexual assault. To cover up his actions David plots to deceive Bathsheba’s husband, but once his plan fails, he plots Uriah’s death. King David has committed premeditated murder.

The story is scandalous, yet we can pull valuable lessons from it. One, sin does not go unpunished. There are consequences. Because of David’s sin, the “sword” or fighting would never leave the house of David. David’s son also died. Later, you’ll see his family begin to fall apart, warring with one another. 

Two, sin affects others, sometimes even years and generations later. Our sin may be personal, but it’s rarely private. In David’s case, Uriah, other soldiers, Bathsheba, David’s baby, and David’s descendents were all impacted in some way because of his personal sin. 

Third, God is gracious, merciful, forgiving, and redeeming even though we are sinful. The story of David’s moral failure isn’t really about him at all, but about our God who is so very good. David repents from what he’s done and asks God to forgive him. God does. And he will forgive us too, no matter what we’ve done or will do. 

We too can be known as people after God’s own heart, no matter how far we’ve fallen. We only need to turn back to God.

Blessings

1 Samuel 28 & 31

Read 1 Samuel 28 , Read 1 Samuel 31

Through our daily readings, we’re aware Saul has disobeyed God. As a result, the Lord rejected him as King of Israel. In fact, in chapter 16, we read the spirit of the Lord left Saul and was replaced by an evil spirit that terrified him. 

Now in chapter 28, things are only getting worse for Saul. The Philistines are going to war against him. Saul knows God is no longer talking to him, so he seeks help from a medium to talk to Samuel (who has since passed away). Quick sidenote: God has also asked His followers not to consult with sorcerers or mediums (Leviticus 19:31 & Isaiah 8:19). Ironic, isn’t it, how Saul disobeyed God again in hopes of gaining God’s favor through Samuel?

Samuel tells Saul that because of his disobedience, the Lord is going to hand he and Israel over into the hands of the Philistines. He also tells Saul that he, along with his sons, would be with him tomorrow. Meaning, they too would be dead. 

The next day, as Saul sees Samuel’s predications coming to fruition, he takes his own life. It’s a tragic story, and one that could have been avoided.

The story of Saul hits close to home for many people. Maybe not because of the battles, or being plagued by an evil spirit, or talk of mediums consulting with the dead. Perhaps Saul’s story hits home because of the issue of obedience—or disobedience. 

If we’re being real, we can probably think of a time (or ten) when we’ve disobeyed God. Often, our disobedience causes us to walk through miserable paths. 

I was called to be a pastor in the Fall of 2009. I ran from it for a while, 10 years in fact. I was miserable and suffered because of my disobedience. Peace came when I finally surrendered and started to pursue God’s calling on my life. 

Jesus says if we love Him, we will keep His commands (John 14:15)—we will obey Him. He also is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Love, obedience, and peace. The three are not independent of one another. 

If Saul loved God, he would have kept God’s commands and he would have had peace, internal peace and possibly peace with his enemies. 

Let us be a people who love God, keep His commands, and know His peace. 

Blessings

1 Samuel 15-16

Read 1 Samuel 15-16

Most of us are familiar with the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” 

In other words, what we see may not accurately represent the content inside. The same could be said for 1 Samuel 15 & 16.

The time has come for Samuel to go to the house of Jesse, as the Lord told him, and anoint Israel’s next king. Samuel see’s Eliab, and based on what Samuel sees, he thinks, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord” (1 Samuel 16:6).

Look at verse 7. The Lord says to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.” 

Wow. But why? Eliab looked kingly enough. 

God continues talking. He says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).” 

Samuel goes on to anoint Jesse’s youngest son, David. David was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” (See 1 Samuel 13 & Acts 13). 

For most of us, judging character based on outward appearance comes naturally. We tend to create a list of qualities we admire in our own lives which then dictates what we perceive to be true about a person. 

At times, our inability to see one’s heart can impede our ability to extend grace. Thankfully, God is not like that. He sees our value because of who we are in Him, all imperfections aside. 

Blessings!

Ruth 3 & 4

Read Ruth 3 & 4

There are times when God’s Word jumps off the page and reminds me of a song. Some of you may be able to relate.

The bridge in the song “Waymaker” says, “Even when I don’t see it you’re working. Even when I don’t feel it you’re working. You never stop, you never stop working.” After reading Ruth chapters 3 and 4, I can’t stop seeing the connection between their story and the lyrics to this song.

In chapters 1 and 2 we learn Naomi has lost her husband and two sons. One of her son’s was married to Ruth. Because of harsh laws regarding the rights of women, Widows were among some of the most helpless people in society. Left without any way to support themselves, Naomi and Ruth were left desolate.

Naomi had traveled to Bethlehem, where she was hopeful to find Ruth a home where she would be well provided for.

Fast forwarding a bit, Ruth does as Naomi says and Boaz ends up being the guardian-redeemer for Ruth. They are no longer left desolate but have been redeemed and now taken care of. Take some time to read through chapters 3 and 4 if to get all the details.

After reading these chapters, I’m reminded that God is always working. Even when we don’t see it (just like the song says too).

It must have been difficult for Naomi and Ruth to see how God could or was working in their desperate situation. But He was. And He did.

He already knew both would be restored, redeemed, and taken care of far beyond their imagination. God restored them and God restores us. Even in our darkest of days, God is working to make all things new. 

God made a way for Naomi and Ruth and He’s making a way for us too.

Blessings

Judges 4

Read Judges 4

Though we are in Judges chapter four, it’s the last chapter and last verse of Judges that helps us understand all that’s unfolding.

Judges 21:25 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The sinful actions of the people and the cycle of captivity Judges describe are a direct result of everyone doing what was right in their own eyes. It’s what happens even today when we want to go our own way. When we refuse to live by God’s plans for our lives.

Dr. Tony Evans, in a brief overview of the book of Judges, points out the cycles in Judges. He notes, “Disobedience brings discipline, and repentance brings deliverance.”

And God does deliver. Each time the Israelites sin, they are overrun by their enemies and become captives. Once they repent and return to God, God raises up a Judge to rescue and deliver the people. 

This time, in Judges 4, God raises up a female Judge, Deborah. She’s victorious in battle and another woman, Jael, kills the enemy king. Israel is free once more, and God has rescued His people through the hands of women. 

During this time in history, there’s nothing culturally normal about this story. The fact that God chose women to deliver His people must have been shocking. But God often works in ways we cannot fathom.

He will once again use a woman to help fulfill His ultimate rescue plan–a plan that will end the cycle of sin forever. Mary will give birth to the ultimate Judge–Jesus. 

Unlike the Judges of Israel, who were flawed, Jesus was and is perfect. And today, He offers deliverance of self and sin and the gift of eternal life for anyone willing to repent and call on His name.

Blessings

Joshua 3 & 4

Read Joshua 3-4

I have often heard that faith, in relation to religion, is to believe in something that we cannot see. After all, faith is the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). 

Billy Graham gave us an analogy this way:

“Can You See God? You Haven’t Seen Him? I’ve Never Seen The Wind. I See The Effects Of The Wind, But I’ve Never Seen The Wind. There’s A Mystery To It.” 

And while I agree, I’d also like to submit that faith is not only a noun, but rather, it is a verb.

If you have been keeping up with the daily readings, you’ve been on this journey with us through the Old Testament. All along the way, God has provided instruction, and then someone helps fulfill God’s plan through action (a verb). 

Joshua 3 & 4 are going to be no different. Joshua and the Israelites have traveled to the Jordan River. They were told to follow the Ark of the Covenant and the priests carrying it and they would be provided safe passage across the Jordan. 

So, they do as they are instructed. Faith is put into action.

Notice how faithful God. He makes the flowing Jordan river stand up in a heap and the priests carrying the ark along with the people of Israel crossed over on dry ground. Once everyone finished crossing, the Lord instructed Joshua to have 12 men, one from each tribe, select stones.

The stones were carried over to their camp and Joshua placed them in the spot where the priests who carried the ark had stood. He tells the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[c] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God” (vv.21-24). 

Notice all of the action works throughout these chapters. Faith is a belief, but our faith is something we do.

These two chapters encourage us to turn our faith into action and then to tell others of God’s faithfulness

Blessings.

Deuteronomy 6 & 7

Instruction manuals. Sigh. 

They can be confusing or unclear. Often, the print is so small a magnifying glass is needed. Sometimes, the user completely tosses the manual aside and does their own thing (no need to confess—we’ve all done it. Ha.).

God cares enough about His people that He gives an instruction manual, so to speak, for following Him—the Bible, God’s Word.

Admittedly, parts of the Bible can be confusing. However, God’s instructions on how we should live in relationship with our families and community are quite clear. And He explains why these instructions are put in place—because He loves us and wants all to go well with us.

Deuteronomy 6 & 7 put a large emphasis on God’s Word.

Read Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 (ESV).

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

God’s Word is important. It’s vital.

Jesus reiterates the importance of God’s Word when He says, “[…] Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God ’” (Matthew 4:4 ESV).

Our instruction manual is more than ink on paper. It’s life. It’s living. It’s active. It’s a gift from God given to us because He loves us.

Let’s read His Word. Let’s teach it to our children. Let’s do what the Word says.

Blessings

Numbers 16-17

Read Numbers 16-17

When I was in 6th grade, I tried out for the middle school basketball team. I worked hard the weeks leading up to tryouts and pushed myself even harder when the day came to impress the coaches. 

When the team roster was published, my name wasn’t there. I was devastated and became bitter about it. I remember one young man I just couldn’t believe made that team over me. 

I was faster. I made more baskets. I was the entire package—at least, in my mind. Soon, I voiced my thoughts to those around me and others started to share my way of thinking, because why? I swayed their way of thinking about him so I wouldn’t be alone in my jealousy-stricken mindset. 

Reading through Numbers 16 and 17, “jealousy” is the word that keeps coming to mind. There’s grumbling again amongst the people. This time, Korah has started a rebellion. In fact, he, along with Dathan and Abiram have swayed the thinking of 250 other leaders accusing Moses of pride and deceit. They even reject his authority overall. 

He’s jealous, upset, and angry just like I was at the coach who didn’t put me on the team instead of the boy I thought I was better than.

Take a moment to read through Numbers 16 and 17. Notice how Moses handles himself. Notice the way God carries out judgement. 

We can read the text several times over and see different lessons within it, but for today, I want to ask this: 

Are we like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram?

Do we struggle with jealousy, or are we so unhappy with our current situation that we undermine the authority or rally the troops against the leaders God has placed in specific roles to fulfill His plan? 

Jealousy comes when we take our eyes off the Lord. We forget who He is and who we are in Him. 

He’s in control—even if we don’t make the team or like Korah we don’t always agree with our leaders, we can trust God. 

He’s for us. 

I want to challenge you today to let God search you and to keep your focus on Him. 

Blessings.