Day 264- September 21

1 Kings 10

What does it say?

The Queen of Sheba visited and saw Solomon’s vast wealth.

What does it mean?

Rumors of Solomon’s vast riches brought many rulers to Israel to see his kingdom for themselves. There was no doubt God had fulfilled His promise to bless Solomon with wealth and wisdom. Even the Queen of Sheba gave credit to the God of Israel for all that Solomon had been given. But Solomon multiplied his fortune far greater than God intended. His accumulation of chariots and horses was actually prohibited by Mosaic Law, because it suggested a sense of security in military might rather than in the Lord. Solomon began building his assets without regard for obedience to God. His wealth began to turn his heart from the Lord, the Giver, to the things that had been given.

How should I respond?

We’re bombarded every day with commercials designed to make us run out and buy the latest gadget, car, or article of clothing. Obviously, certain things are necessities. God also gives some things for us to enjoy. It’s only when those things get in the way of your obedience to God that it becomes a problem. Building material wealth without regard for God causes your security and affection to be misplaced. Materialism will always have a negative effect on your relationship with God. Look around you. What occupies your mind and heart most: building stockpiles of stuff or building your relationship with God?

Day 263- September 20

1 Kings 9:1-9

What does it say?

God appeared a second time to Solomon and made a covenant with him.

What does it mean?

God, in His faithfulness, assured Solomon that He heard his prayer at the temple dedication. God would grant all that Solomon had asked. God’s heart and presence then consecrated the temple. Solomon and his descendants, however, had additional responsibility placed on them. Disobedience or unfaithfulness by Solomon and his family in any form would not be tolerated. Violation of God’s commands would result in Israel’s removal from their land and destruction of the temple. Forsaking the Lord would ultimately make Israel the object of ridicule.

How should I respond?

God holds leaders to a higher standard because they are in a position of guiding, teaching, and directing others. What position of leadership are you in today? Whether it’s parenting, serving at church, or supervising at work, it is imperative to be the best example possible for people to follow. In what ways do you need to improve as a leader? How can you be a godly influence this week? Your obedience or disobedience to the Lord will cause a ripple effect to those under your authority. The responsibilities of leadership may carry a burden, but the opportunity to impact others is unparalleled.

Further Reading: 1 Kings 9:10-28

Day 262- September 19

1 Kings 8:22-66

What does it say?

Solomon offered a prayer of dedication at the temple.

What does it mean?

As king, Solomon had the responsibility of leading the people of Israel. After completing the task of building a place of worship for the Lord, it was time to remind Israel of their covenant relationship with God. Solomon turned his attention away from the people, knelt before God, and prayed. His prayer of dedication set an example of humility, thanksgiving, praise, and petition for forgiveness of sin. The people needed not only to see Solomon’s example, but also to follow it.

How should I respond?

As a baby, how did you learn to feed yourself? Your parents showed you what to do, and you followed. We often learn to follow God in the same way. Whether you are at the beginning of your relationship with Jesus, or you have been walking with Him many years, there is always something you can share with others by example. This doesn’t mean that you have to be “perfect.” That isn’t possible or practical. Genuine faith lived out daily is powerful even when you make mistakes. Who is watching you? How can you set an example by showing humility and thankfulness or by admitting wrong that you’ve done? Determine now to be a person of genuine faith.

Day 261- September 18

1 Kings 8:1-21

What does it say?

God’s glory filled the temple after the Ark of the Covenant was brought in and put into place.

What does it mean?

The completion of the temple was a major milestone for the people of Israel. Having a permanent place for the Ark of the Covenant and for their worship was confirmation that they were no longer wandering. After all of his hard work, Solomon desired more than anything for God’s presence to dwell in the temple. The peopled cheered in a fitting celebration as the cloud descended. Although the cloud was a visible reminder of God’s presence with His people, He is not limited by time and space.

How should I respond?

It’s easy to feel the presence of God on Sunday morning when we’re in church, but what about after you walk out the door? The Bible says God is omnipresent, meaning that He is everywhere all the time. We sometimes think of His presence in our life as limited to a specific location or act. But when Jesus says that He is with us always, He means it with a certainty that can be difficult for us to fathom. Think of it this way: when you leave church, picture God putting his arm around you and saying “Where are we going for lunch?” How would continuing that same mental image affect the rest of your week? You have access to Christ 24/7. How will you take advantage of that today?

Day 260- September 17

1 Kings 7:13-14; 40-51

What does it say?

Solomon finished the temple with the help of Huram.

What does it mean?

In his wisdom, Solomon knew that people of various skills and abilities were needed to build the temple. This passage specifically mentions Huram, who was very skilled in working with bronze. He was able to make pillars, basins, wheels, altars and much more – all on a very large scale. It was a monumental task, but thanks to Solomon’s wisdom and Huram’s willingness to use his talent, the Lord’s temple was completed beautifully.

How should I respond?

Each of us has been given unique skills and abilities that that can be used for God in some way. It takes all types of people and all types of abilities to keep a church functioning properly. Maybe, like Huram, you know exactly what you do well. Good! How are you using that ability for Christ? Talk to family and friends if you’re not sure about your strengths; they can probably point out the areas in which you excel. Ask God to help you see your gifting, and then connect with your church office. Your pastor or ministry director would love to brainstorm ways to honor God and further His kingdom through your skills.

Further Reading: 1 Kings 7:15-39

Day 259- September 16

1 Kings 6

What does it say?

As Solomon built the temple, God reminded him of the conditional promise that was based on obedience to His commands.

What does it mean?

Solomon worked diligently, building the temple for the Lord. The cherubim were carved from olive wood and overlaid with gold. He followed God’s specifications precisely, sparing no expense. It took seven years of continuous hard work. Yet in the midst of his obedience, God reminded Solomon to follow His commands. God was just as concerned about Solomon’s inner obedience as He was about the outward. It was important for Solomon to remember for Whom he was working and for what purpose. The word from the Lord must have encouraged Solomon to stay focused and finish well.

How should I respond?

We often get so caught up in doing things for God that we need to be reminded to follow Him. Are you serving the Lord by volunteering in your local church? God has something for each of us to do. Nonetheless, outer obedience becomes empty if not motivated by an obedient heart. Think about your current service for the Lord. Have you placed a higher priority on doing than following? Make a change by remembering the purpose behind what you are doing and for Whom you are doing it. The renewed focus will bring greater motivation to stay on track and finish your task with excellence.

Further Reading: 1 Kings 7:1-12

Day 258- September 15

1 Kings 5

What does it say?

Solomon prepared to build the temple.

What does it mean?

After his encounter with God, Solomon focused on the great task he had been given – building the temple. The Lord honored Solomon’s request for wisdom, guiding him as he prepared to move forward. He knew what needed to be done to complete the task properly and in a timely manner. Solomon also had the wisdom to ask for help. The peaceful and profitable deal with Hiram of Tyre ensured the building of the temple. The agreement not only provided the very best wood, but also freed Solomon to focus on his task by eliminating the possibility of war.

How should I respond?

What job has God given you to do? What needs to be put into place to complete your task successfully? Before supplies are gathered, schedules written, or workers employed, the first step is to allow God to guide and direct you as you go forward. He will show you what needs to be done and who to ask for help. We all have limits. Asking for help is not weakness but wisdom at work. Every day presents an opportunity to serve the Lord, and He deserves our best. But our best can only be given when we’re wisely prepared for the task. Today, stop and ask for God’s guidance before you act.

Day 257- September 14

1 Kings 3

What does it say?

Solomon prayed for wisdom to lead the people.

What does it mean?

Even though Solomon was a young, inexperienced king, God recognized that his heart was faithful. So when Solomon fell victim to the Canaanite influence, offering sacrifices to the Lord at pagan altars, there is no indication of a rebuke from God. Instead, God gave him an opportunity to make a request. Knowing he lacked maturity to lead, Solomon placed the people of Israel above himself and asked God to give him wisdom and a discerning heart. God was pleased and not only granted his request, but also promised him additional blessings of wealth and honor.

How should I respond?

If you could ask God for anything, what would it be? A better home, job, health, or financial security? It isn’t wrong to ask for what we need, but today’s passage shows what is more important than any “thing.” How often do you ask God for the ability to see people and circumstances as He does (discernment) and for an understanding of what to do (wisdom)? We cannot successfully manage our homes, families, and finances or make life-altering decisions without wisdom and discernment. What are you facing today? Rather than trying to figure it out alone, stop now and pray as Solomon did.

Further Reading: 1 Kings 4

Day 256- September 13

1 Kings 2

What does it say?

Before David’s death, he charged Solomon to keep the Lord’s commands and reminded him which men had been faithful or disloyal. Solomon then dealt with his enemies.

What does it mean?

David spent the last days of his life preparing Solomon to rule Israel. On his deathbed, David addressed two issues: Solomon’s relationship with God and his relationships with others. The priority was Solomon’s personal walk with the Lord. By obeying God’s commands, Solomon would secure the throne for his descendants and set an example of obedience for all of Israel. David reminded Solomon that being a strong man required taking a stand for God’s Word. Physical might was no substitute for God’s strength. Solomon established peace for his throne by dealing justly with enemies still lurking in Israel, including his brother, Adonijah, who was still scheming to become king.

How should I respond?

For decades, Hollywood has dictated the American view of manhood. Whether it’s a cowboy galloping into town with guns blazing or a renegade agent bent on justice at any cost, we can’t seem to get enough. But how do those images line up with David’s description of manhood in today’s passage? There’s never been a more challenging time to take a stand for God’s Word than in our present culture. However, “walking in the ways” of the Lord allows you to trade your weakness and insecurities for His strength. Will you take the challenge? It’s time to man up!

Day 255- September 12

1 Kings 1

What does it say?

Adonijah attempted to steal his father David’s throne. His plans were averted, and Solomon was anointed as the rightful king.

What does it mean?

David’s failing health meant transitioning his throne to one of his sons. In an unprecedented move, Adonijah attempted to make himself king by orchestrating an elaborate coronation. His creation of an entourage, sacrifice of animals, and invitation of many influential people gave the illusion that he was the true recipient of the throne. Arrogance and ambition drove Adonijah to steal what rightfully belonged to someone else. He purposely did not involve anyone who would have called him on his sin. Adonijah could not take what was not his and was shamed as a result.

How should I respond?

Manipulation and scheming have no place in the life of a follower of Christ. While few of us act on the scale that Adonijah did, we may still try to justify our actions by creating circumstances that support our desires. How might arrogance be reflected in your thinking? How does personal ambition affect the counsel you take into account? Do you choose people who give the answers you want or those who keep you grounded in reality? Consider your choice of advisors carefully. Though their admonition may hurt, it may be just what you need to hear (Proverbs 27:6).

Day 254- September 11

2 Samuel 24

What does it say?

David ordered a census so that the fighting men of Israel could be counted. God looked on this as sin, and the nation paid a terrible price for David’s decision.

What does it mean?

David’s command to complete the census brought specific and severe punishment from God. But why was this act so offensive? The ordering of the census was a blatant act of pride. The king had previously relied on God to bring victory in battle, but David’s numbering of only the soldiers showed that he was focused on the nation’s military might instead. In hindsight, David recognized his sin and chose the one punishment that would affect not just the people but him as well.

How should I respond?

Pride can motivate us to do things we normally would not do. At its foundation is the attitude that we do not need God. When we embrace this idea, we choose to rely on ourselves rather than on Him. God desires that we spend each day in a trusting relationship with Him. In what areas of your life are you choosing to rely on yourself rather than on God? Ask God to give you a humble heart and show you where pride has become your motivator. Then, with His help, replace the sin of pride with reliance on the One who is focused on your every need. Trust in Him removes the need to count on your own strengths.

Day 253- September 10

2 Samuel 23:1-7

What does it say?

David gave his last words as king of Israel.

What does it mean?

As one of Israel’s most well known and successful kings, David’s perspective was invaluable to the future leaders of God’s people. His brief admonition is a guideline and a warning for all who lead. In his life he witnessed God’s miraculous blessing, suffered agonizing defeat, and walked a path few could ever imagine. And, with all this experience, David could have written volumes on how to succeed as king. Instead, he expressed the formula for success in leadership with one simple principle: rule justly in the fear of God. The powerful words of this great king form a timeless standard that is the basis of leadership at any level.

How should I respond?

Scripture teaches us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Awe of God compels us to consider Him in all that we do. This wisdom and perspective become the foundation of understanding justice. Successful leadership is formed in these foundational principles. What position of leadership have you been given? How would you evaluate your leadership? Is the reverential awe of God the guiding principle in your decisions? Consider today how living by David’s words might change how you lead. You might find the path to improvement simpler than you think!

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 23:8-39

Day 252- September 9

2 Samuel 22

What does it say?

David’s song of praise shows the heart of God, Who is actively involved in the lives of His people.

What does it mean?

As David came to the end of his amazing life, he reflected on all he had seen God do. Though it’s possible he wrote this song of praise when he was young, its themes and application show that it is timeless. Through trial and tribulation, war and peace, mountains and valleys, David had witnessed God’s faithfulness in every situation. David recognized God for who He is: the powerful, loving God who is always active and purposefully taking care of His people, deserving of praise.

How should I respond?

Just like David, we don’t always see or understand what God is doing. Discouraging events and trying circumstances cause us to ask questions such as, “Why is God allowing this to happen?” or “Why isn’t God doing anything?” David’s life and perspective show us that God is always at work in the lives of His people, regardless of what we may or may not see happening. He is our Protector, Healer, and Deliverer. What current situation is causing you discouragement? Meditate today on David’s words and trust that God is working. One day, you’ll reflect on your life and give praise to the One who is always faithful!

Day 251- September 8

2 Samuel 21

What does it say?

David cleaned up the mess the previous king made when he violated a peace treaty and continued to clear the Promised Land of God’s enemies as God had commanded.

What does it mean?

Back in 1 Samuel, we read about King Saul’s violation of a peace treaty that Joshua had previously made with the Gibeonites. As God’s appointed leader of Israel, Joshua had promised the Gibeonites that they could live peacefully among the Israelites, assimilating into the life and rules of the people of Israel. When David became king, he bore the disgrace of Saul’s actions and wanted to make things right with the Gibeonites. The two sides negotiated the terms of an acceptable solution and agreed to live peacefully with one another again. Justice paved the way for peace.

How should I respond?

We sometimes inherit the problems of others. It may be paying off financial debt or leading people who have been poorly led by others in a previous school, job, or even family. God may give you the responsibility of cleaning up someone else’s mess. While this might not seem fair, if God puts the responsibility in your lap, then He will help you take care of those things and make the most of them. What mess, originally belonging to someone else, has God given you to manage? With what attitude and determination are you approaching the task? Ask God how you can make the most of what He has given you.

Day 250- September 7

2 Samuel 20

What does it say?

Sheba paid dearly for leading a rebellion against King David, but a wise woman saved her city by sacrificing Sheba for peace in Israel.

What does it mean?

God’s plan for Israel included peace and unity as they followed David. Sheba’s rebellion was like a disease that threatened the political, economic, and spiritual health of Israel. Sheba threatened not only the safety of the city, but the unity of the whole nation. More than a political rebellion, it was a rebellion against God, Who had chosen David to be the King of Israel. When David’s army pursued Sheba, he hid in a city called Abel of Beth-maacah. A spokeswoman for the city wisely recognized the terrible danger the city was in and negotiated peace in exchange for Sheba’s head.

How should I respond?

No one is immune from an attitude of rebellion against the Lord. Just as in today’s passage, any form of rebellion against God acts as cancer in our spiritual life and our church family. Take a few minutes to think about the way things are in your life right now. What area or habit in your life is threatening your growth in the Lord and needs to be cut out of your life? Ask God for wisdom to see what might be hindering your growth. Take time to look at how that attitude or behavior could be negatively affecting your church and act immediately to get rid of it.

Day 249- September 6

2 Samuel 19:9-43

What does it say?

David won the hearts of the people of Judah and returned to Jerusalem. However, the kingdom still struggled with a lack of unity.

What does it mean?

The controversy created by David and Absalom had caused great division in the kingdom. Even though David was returning to Jerusalem as king, the people throughout Israel argued about the kingship among themselves. David worked to restore relationships with individual people to promote healing and unity. But the men of Judah and Israel increased tension between the tribes by arguing about who had a greater claim to David as king. If they truly wanted to serve their king, both sides should have followed his example to seek peace for the nation rather than focus on tribal rights.

How should I respond?

Staying calm can be challenging when tensions are high. You might be tempted to choose sides and influence others to agree with you. In those situations, are you someone who causes division or one who helps build unity? Working toward a solution that serves God’s purposes will minimize stress and restore peace. What tense situation are you facing in your family or place of work? Regardless of how others respond, decide to follow David’s example: stay focused on relationships with people and God’s plan. Today, will you determine to cultivate unity rather than division?

Day 248- September 5

2 Samuel 18:19–19:8

What does it say?

David heard about Absalom’s death and mourned the loss of his son.

What does it mean?

David was consumed with grief over the loss of his son, and rightly so. His strained relationship and bitter conflict with Absalom ended without reconciliation. The impact of his grief overshadowed the victory of his troops. Overwhelmed with sorrow, David failed to acknowledge the men who risked their lives to save him. The bittersweet victory came at a huge price to the king. The troops deserved a celebration, but instead returned home as if the enemy had defeated them. Joab recognized the impact of David’s actions and rebuked him for ignoring his army’s loyalty.

How should I respond?

Grief and loss are powerful emotions. When the chance for reconciliation no longer exists, the pain can become paralyzing. Rehearsing your regrets delays closure and impacts your ability to function. What situation overwhelms you with grief? Seek help before your emotions start impacting your responsibilities. Then, release your emotions to the Lord. You can trust God to help you handle them appropriately. Ask God to help you control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you.

Day 247 – September 4

2 Samuel 18:1-18

What does it say?

David’s troops marched out against Absalom. Ignoring the king’s instructions, Joab and his armor-bearers killed Absalom after his head was caught in a tree.

What does it mean?

Absalom’s reaction to tragic events turned him against his father. His bitterness and anger motivated his failed attempt to seize the throne, resulted in great bloodshed, and ultimately ended his life. Despite Absalom’s rebellious spirit and determination to end his father’s reign, David loved his son. While Absalom’s actions were heartbreaking, David valued his son’s life and instructed his commanders not to harm him. As king, David needed to be victorious in battle, but not at the expense of losing another son.

How should I respond?

Anger and jealousy are emotions that destroy relationships. What challenges from your past stir up strong feelings? What steps have you taken to heal and restore healthy boundaries with the people involved? Forgiving them is a gift you can give to yourself. Harboring resentment breaks relationships, causes others to take sides, and can even negatively affect your health. Who is God is asking you to forgive today? Choosing to love someone who has hurt you is an act of obedience that pleases God. Ask the Lord to give you courage to relate to others in a way that honors Him.

Day 246 – September 3

2 Samuel 16:15-17:29

What does it say?

Absalom received advice from Hushai and Ahithopel regarding facing his father, David, in battle. He rejected the advice of Ahithopel and accepted Hushai’s course of action.

What does it mean?

Both David and Absalom were in need of wise counsel. David’s former advisors, Ahithophel and Hushai, remained in Jerusalem with Absalom, but Hushai was loyal to David. Ahithophel, on the other hand, was willing to side with whoever seemed to have the most power. David and Absalom had to decide who could be trusted and whose advice would best serve their interests. A single decision could decide who ruled Israel. Hushai’s battle strategy appealed to Absalom’s pride, making it possible for David and his men to find safety. David had both a godly counselor and a godly cause.

How should I respond?

The impact of one choice has the power to alter your life either positively or negatively. Where do you turn for advice when faced with tough decisions? What character qualities do those who guide you possess? God’s Word reminds us in Proverbs 11:14 that there is safety in a multitude of counselors. Seeking godly counsel can provide valuable insight. What decision is before you today? Ask God to direct you through His Word and sound advice. Bring all of your options before the Lord and patiently wait for His direction. Then, you’ll be positioned to make the best choice.

Day 245- September 2

2 Samuel 15

What does it say?

Absalom rebelled and conspired to be king. David took his family and fled Jerusalem.

What does it mean?

Restoration with his father didn’t appease Absalom, and another family tragedy began to develop as he became increasingly resentful. Deception, rebellion, and pride surfaced as Absalom conspired to become king. He strategically devised a plan to earn the approval of the people while misrepresenting King David. Using his royal position and personal charm, he stole the hearts of the Israelites. Absalom’s motives appeared noble and good, but his actions revealed a hidden agenda. Avoiding a confrontation with Absalom, David fled Jerusalem. Despite the heartbreaking division in his family, David submitted to God’s authority and trusted Him with his future.

How should I respond?

Your home and family are intended to be a safe haven – a place of acceptance, love, forgiveness, and grace. When family members turn against each other, however, they divide and destroy the unity God intended. What events surrounding your family have created division? Have relationships been harmed by pushing your own agenda? It is easy to focus on what you want and overlook what is best for everyone involved. What steps do you need to take to strengthen the relationships in your life? Don’t put off making that phone call or sending that message; it may be the beginning of restoration.

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 16:1-14

Day 244- September 1

2 Samuel 14

What does it say?

Joab encouraged David to reconcile with Absalom. Father and son were finally reunited.

What does it mean?

Absalom’s role in Amnon’s murder caused him to run, leaving David overwhelmed by his losses. Despite Joab’s efforts to reconcile the two, David refused to restore his son completely. God’s mercy and forgiveness that had been extended to David should have prompted a quicker reunion; however, David struggled with being reunited with Absalom. Allowing his son to return to Jerusalem, David kept Absalom at a safe distance and determined that partial restoration was good enough. Absalom’s persistent demands to have an audience with the king finally resulted in his reunion with his father.

How should I respond?

Broken relationships and unresolved conflict will leave you distracted and wounded. The temptation to play those events over and over in your mind sets the perfect stage for bitterness and revenge. How do you avoid the negative effects of conflict? When you separate the sin from the person, you can move past hurts and offer the same forgiveness that God has extended to you. By releasing the events and trusting God to restore the relationship, you are free to move on. Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? What steps can you take to honor God with that relationship?

Day 243 – August 31

2 Samuel 13

What does it say?

Amnon’s infatuation with his sister, Tamar, turned to sexual abuse. Absalom avenged his sister by killing Amnon.

What does it mean?

Consumed with gratifying his own desires, Amnon’s lack of respect for his sister resulted in heartache instead of pleasure. Deception and trickery placed Tamar in a compromising situation in which she couldn’t escape the desires of Amnon. What he thought he couldn’t live without didn’t bring fulfillment and quickly became detestable. Amnon pushed the consequences of his sin out of sight and received no confrontation from King David. The consequences of sin had trickled down, creating shame, mourning, and separation throughout David’s family – event costing Amnon his life.

How should I respond?

You can have everything you need, yet become obsessed with what you don’t have. Turning your focus from the good God has brought into your life will shortchange your gratitude, leaving you desiring more. How have you allowed your desires to get out of control? What negative influences are those desires having on someone else? True contentment is only found by aligning your desires with God’s Word. What area of discontentment do you need to surrender to God today?

Day 242 – August 30

2 Samuel 12:15-31

What does it say?

David and Bathsheba’s baby became ill, and David pleaded with God for the life of the child. The baby died, but God extended His mercy to them with another son, Solomon.

What does it mean?

When David chose to go against God’s commands, the full consequences of his actions weren’t visible. Many innocent people were impacted, including his newborn son. Even though David pleaded with God to spare his son from death, he accepted God’s final decision. While the effects of sin resulted in pain and loss, David knew he would be reunited with his son in Heaven. God’s mercy offered restoration and renewed blessings. With the birth of Solomon, David was reminded that God’s love far exceeded the distance sin had created.

How should I respond?

Who has been impacted by your sin? How have the consequences affected your future actions? The price tag for sin always surpasses what you imagine and ends up spilling over into the lives of those you love the most. While the holiness of God cannot tolerate or excuse sin, His love invites confession that leads to restoration and blessings. Regardless of your past sin failures, God has not labeled your life as defeated but rather redeemed and forgiven. Your consequences may stare you in the face, but God has not forsaken you.

Day 241 – August 29

2 Samuel 12:1-14

What does it say?

The Lord sent Nathan to confront David about his sin. David confessed his sin, but he couldn’t escape the consequences of his actions.

What does it mean?

As a king, David judged and settled many cases of injustice, but the tables were flipped when Nathan boldly confronted him about his sin. Nathan’s wise approach allowed David to see and judge the situation impartially. The stark reality was inescapable. The words, “You are the man,” brought David to a point of confession. Despite his royal status, David was not exempt from God’s correction. While God mercifully forgave David’s sin, the consequences required the life of his son born to Bathsheba. What was conceived in secret was fully exposed and became public disaster.

How should I respond?

Confronting others about wrong actions can be intimidating. You might be tempted to rationalize or excuse their behavior. How do you respond when God leads you to confront someone? Like Nathan, allow God to guide the timing and approach of the conversation. If God has a role for you to play, He will direct your steps. How would you respond if a friend confronted you about sin in your life? Whether you’re faced with conflict or confrontation, it’s important to pray for everyone involved and for your attitude and tone. How can you make sure that your responses line up with God’s plan?

Day 240 – August 28

2 Samuel 11

What does it say?

David slept with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. When she became pregnant, David attempted to cover up his sin by arranging for Uriah to be killed in battle.

What does it mean?

David set the stage for compromise and sin by neglecting his responsibilities to lead his army. As a powerful king, David lacked nothing – yet he chose to take what belonged to one of his devoted soldiers. David attempted to cover up the devastating consequences of sleeping with Bathsheba. Unfortunately, his position, wealth, fame, and influence couldn’t manipulate the circumstances or hide the truth of Bathsheba’s pregnancy. As David’s sin spiraled, he devised a plan for Uriah to be murdered and seized the opportunity to marry Bathsheba. But God was not pleased with his actions.

How should I respond?

Covering up the things you do wrong may release you temporarily from accountability to others, but eventually you will have to deal with the consequences. In what ways have you attempted to hide your sin? What effect does unconfessed sin have on your life? An honest examination of your actions, motives, and desires requires viewing your life through God’s lens of holiness. He desires that your life bring honor and glory to Him. What steps do you need to take to avoid current temptations in your life? God has already provided a way of escape. Will you choose His plan or temporary pleasure?

Day 239 – August 27

2 Samuel 9

What does it say?

David, because of his past friendship with Jonathan, reached out to find any relative that he could bless in honor of Jonathan. Mephibosheth was found and brought to David.

What does it mean?

Mephibosheth had every reason to be afraid of David. As the son of the previous heir to Israel’s throne, he could have been a threat to David’s reign. It was not unusual for a new king to kill all remaining members of a former ruler’s family. But David’s love for his dear friend Jonathan outweighed all of that, and he wanted to show kindness to any remaining relative. Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s physically handicapped son, was deeply moved and totally humbled by David’s lavish acceptance of him. In a single moment his life changed. From that day forward, Mephibosheth would be an honored guest, eating at David’s table as one of the king’s sons.

How should I respond?

Today’s passage is a beautiful picture of God’s love and acceptance of us. Sin has left us spiritually crippled. Left in our sin, we are enemies of God and have every reason to fear His judgment. Yet, Jesus left Heaven’s splendor to suffer and die so we could become children of the King. He gave all He had to make it possible for you to be part of His family. How have you responded to Christ’s invitation to become part of His family? If you haven’t already, embrace what the Savior has done for you. The price has been paid. Will you, by faith, accept the gift?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 10

Day 238 – August 26

2 Samuel 7

What does it say?

The Lord revealed to Nathan that David’s son would build a house for the ark, and the throne of his kingdom would last forever. David responded with a prayer of praise.

What does it mean?

David had great intentions, but God had other plans. While the Lord may have said, “No” to David’s initial request, what He promised to David’s descendents was far greater. God’s covenant with David promised that his house and kingdom would endure before God forever. The Davidic covenant established that the Messiah would come from David’s line and that his son would accomplish the desire of David’s heart – to build a house for the ark of God. In awe of the magnitude of God’s promise, David humbly praised the Lord for His goodness and fully trusted that God would do just as He said.

How should I respond?

Adults don’t like to hear the word “No” any more than kids do. But God sometimes says, “No” in spite of our good intentions and sincere hearts. When we don’t understand why, we have to trust that our Sovereign Lord has our very best interests at heart. How do you respond when God’s plans are different from yours? How willing are you to embrace whatever role He has for you? Trust the Lord to open doors of opportunity in His timing. Will you humble yourself before Almighty God today? Will you ask with David, “Who am I?” at the very thought that He desires to work His plan in your life?

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 8

Day 237 – August 25

2 Samuel 6

What does it say?

The Ark of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem in a joyous parade led by King David. But when Uzzah’s hand touched the Ark, God struck him down.

What does it mean?

Because of the holy nature of the Ark, God had special rules for how it was to be transported. For example, no one was allowed to touch the Ark, and Kohathite-Levites were designated to carry it on poles that were slipped through rings on the sides. Both of these laws were violated during the Ark’s trip back to Jerusalem. David and Uzzah had good intentions but disobeyed God’s clear instructions from the start. Putting the Ark on a cart disregarded its holy nature. So when Uzzah touched the Ark, even though he intended to steady it because it might fall off the cart, he acted irreverently.

How should I respond?

It is not unusual for teenagers to think they are wiser than their parents. They often understand instructions but simply think they have a better idea. People in general struggle with authority for similar reasons. We think we know better than those who are in charge. Sometimes we do the same to God, supposing our way is better. Make a list entitled: “Things I Need to Do God’s Way,” and keep it in your Bible. As you read through the Bible and find something you struggle with doing God’s way, pray about it, and add it to your list. Pray over your list on a regular basis, handing those items over to the Lord. Remember, when He gives instructions, it’s for His glory and for your good.

Day 236 – August 24

2 Samuel 5

What does it say?

Israel came to David, declared they wanted him as their king, and anointed him. The Lord was with David and made him great for the sake of Israel.

What does it mean?

David was no longer running from Saul, but once he became king, the Philistines sought to destroy him. David immediately went to the stronghold in Jerusalem to ask direction from the Lord. He had become accustomed to turning to God with every concern of life. He learned at a young age to talk to God about whatever situation was before him. Twice in this passage David “inquired of the Lord,” and twice the Lord answered him, giving him both instructions and victory. What was the secret of David’s answered prayer? Rather than seeking his own way, David yielded to God as the true Sovereign over Israel and sought His way with all his heart.

How should I respond?

Life can sometimes take you from one crisis to another. Even long-awaited answers to prayer can bring new challenges. What is your first instinct? Like David, have you become accustomed to asking God’s direction before you act? Truly seeking God’s heart involves desiring His will more than your own. What do you need to take to God today – a job change, a health crisis, or a difficult relationship? Go to your “stronghold,” a solitary place to pray. Ask Jesus, your Rock and Redeemer, to come to your defense. Rather than seek your own way, determine to submit to God’s plan – it’s always best.

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 4

Day 235 – August 23

2 Samuel 2

What does it say?

David was anointed king over Judah while Ish-bosheth, Saul’s only surviving son, was made king over Israel. This caused civil war among the tribes of Israel.

What does it mean?

David was anointed king as a teenager by Samuel and again years later by the men of Judah. David was the Lord’s clear choice to replace Saul and to lead His people. God’s purpose always supersedes any action or choice of men. Abner, who was loyal to Saul, did not recognize God’s leading and chose Ish-bosheth as Israel’s king, leading to discord, civil war, and death.

How should I respond?

Parents get upset when their children do not get along and disrupt the entire household. Likewise, it grieves the Holy Spirit when God’s children fight with one another. Believers in Christ often bicker or belittle their brothers and sisters in Christ over differences in biblical interpretation or church methodology. The Lord wants us to love each another (Eph.4:1-3). How do you treat or label believers with whom you have differences of opinion? You can agree to disagree without causing open conflict. Before you take a stand, search the Scriptures for God’s clear direction on the subject. If not directly addressed, ask God for wisdom to peacefully handle the situation and to communicate your thoughts clearly and calmly. The world will know we are Christians by our love.

Further Reading: 2 Samuel 3

Day 234 – August 22

2 Samuel 1

What does it say?

David learned of the death of Saul and Jonathan after his return to Ziklag. Deeply grieved, he and his men mourned the loss of their king and David’s friend.

What does it mean?

An Amalekite brought David word of Israel’s defeat along with the report of the deaths of King Saul and Jonathan. In his grief and mourning, David wrote a beautiful eulogy to his king and his best friend. Despite the turmoil and despair Saul had caused him, David had nothing but praise and genuine sorrow to express at the tragic news. Even though Saul had tried to kill him on numerous occasions, David conveyed respect and honor for him as “the Lord’s anointed” leader of Israel.

How should I respond?

It is human nature to dwell on how we’ve been wronged, but at what cost? It is almost impossible to remember the good things about someone while hanging on to bitterness. So how can you let go of a wrong done to you? Grace! Remember that Christ made ultimate forgiveness possible by dying for you while you were still a sinner. We need to put to death the lies of Satan that “vengeance is ours,” or “I will never forget what that person did to me.” If you are experiencing a deep hurt, forgiveness and grace will set you free. In Christ’s strength, you too can rise above bitterness.

Day 233 – August 21

1 Samuel 31

What does it say?

Saul, three of his sons, and many Israelites died as Samuel had prophesied. The Philistines captured Saul’s body, but it was retrieved by brave men from Jabesh Gilead.

What does it mean?

Saul’s rebellion against God cost him not only his own life, but also the lives of his sons and many Israelites. It started with one willful act of disobedience followed by no remorse. Saul’s promising future as king went downhill in a hurry. Even at the end of his life, he did not repent. Being mortally wounded, he fell on his sword to quicken his death. Valiant men from Jabesh Gilead walked all night to retrieve the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them back to be buried properly. At the end of a dismal chapter, it’s inspiring to see the courage of men determined to do the right thing.

How do I respond?

We often want to give up when everything seems to be going wrong. But our determination to do the right thing anyway might be just the encouragement someone else needs. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Helper. As you rely on His strength, you too can be an encourager. Do you have friends or relatives who are depressed or despondent? What will you do today to show them the love of God? No matter how bleak life may seem right now, ask God to shift your focus from yourself and give you the courage and determination to carry on. Don’t quit…be valiant!

Day 232 – August 20

1 Samuel 30

What does it say?

David and his men arrived in Ziklag to find the city burned and their families kidnapped. With God before them, they attacked the Amalekites and rescued their loved ones.

What does it mean?

After traveling 75 miles to get back to Ziklag, the hungry, tired men discovered their families gone and their city destroyed by fire. David was as low as he could get, “but David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” After at least 16 months of not seeking or hearing from the Lord and having everything taken from him, David turned back to God. Although it took reaching rock bottom, David finally asked God what his next move should be. The faith-filled David was back, trusting and seeking His almighty, loving God!

How do I respond?

It often takes reaching rock bottom for God to get our attention. Humans are willful and stubborn, but God loves us and is full of mercy and grace. We can’t get so far away from God that He can’t reach us, but He will never force us to obey. When have you been far from the Lord? What did God allow in your life to get your attention and get you to turn back to Him? Are you currently seeking God’s direction or following your own reasoning? Don’t wait for God to get your attention; change direction today. David turned back to the Lord. Saul didn’t. What about you?

Day 231 – August 19

1 Samuel 29

What does it say?

David volunteered to join the Philistines as they marched to fight with Israel. However, he was not fully trusted by the Philistine leaders, and his offer was refused.

What does it mean?

Ninety years earlier, the Philistines defeated Israel at Aphek and captured the Ark of the Covenant. The Philistines were there again, poised to attack Israel’s camp forty miles away. David and his men were ready to do battle against their own countrymen. The commanders understandably refused to give David the opportunity to turn on them and live up to his notoriety. David didn’t seek the Lord before he hid out in Philistine territory; he “leaned on his own understanding.” It was never God’s intent for David to fight against his own people – God’s people. He graciously provided a way out for David.

How do I respond?

We all find ourselves in awkward situations at times, desperately hoping for a way out. Those moments are sometimes the result of our own poor judgment, fear, or foolish ambition. During those times, have you recklessly aligned yourself with those who fight against God’s purposes? Remember, it is never too late to call on the Lord. Ask God to open your eyes to see if you are marching into the wrong battle. He promises to give wisdom to those who sincerely ask Him. It probably won’t be easy, but He will graciously be by your side to get you through. Look for His way out and take it!

Day 230 – August 18

1 Samuel 28

What does it say?

David found favor with King Achish. Saul, desperate to know the future, asked a medium to call Samuel from the dead. Samuel appeared and gave Saul very bad news.

What does it mean?

Saul’s pursuit of David was over. Samuel, Saul’s link to God, had died. The Philistine army was ready to attack Israel. God’s silence was deafening. Saul found himself in a terrifying situation. He was alone. Rather than repent and turn to God, Saul sought out a medium to help him speak with Samuel. The means by which Saul looked for guidance demonstrated his unrepentant heart. God allowed Samuel’s spirit to deliver the terrifying message – the Philistines would kill Saul and his sons the next day. His time was up; there was nothing he could do.

How do I respond?

It is wonderful to be in fellowship with the Lord. Reading His Word and knowing that it is speaking to you at that moment will provide love, peace, and assurance! On the other hand, when sin comes between you and God, it seems as if He’s not there; and that is a scary, lonely place to be. How is your relationship with God? What sin might be deafening your ears to His voice? Sin breaks our fellowship with the Father, but He is ready and eager to forgive when we confess and repent. He never tires of hearing us say to Him, “I blew it. Please forgive me.” He already has… at Calvary. The next move is yours.

Day 229 – August 17

1 Samuel 27

What does it say?

David and his men went to Philistine territory to escape Saul’s pursuit. David lied to the king to get on his good side. The king thought David was a traitor to the Israelites.

What does it mean?

David was discouraged and tired of running from Saul. In that state of mind, he did not turn to the Lord but listened to his own thoughts. Being in the pit of despair led David to seek protection from his enemy rather than from God. David’s despair also affected his 600 men, their families, and his two wives. God didn’t tell him to abandon the land of promise and hide in the land of the enemy. David was in a dangerous place. He found favor with Achish and was given his own city, but at what cost?

How do I respond?

What situation has caused you to despair, to feel hopeless? God doesn’t give up on us, but for a season we may give up on God. Tragic. When life is good, we may say, “Oh, I would never turn my back on God.” Be careful – you may be tested. In those situations, push aside any self-talk that encourages you to rely on your own reasoning or efforts. Instead, turn to God quickly! He is our only comfort and hope when days are miserable and hopeless. Any other course of action will affect not only you, but also those closest to you. Pray right now about whatever is causing you discouragement. Determine not to take matters into your own hands while you are waiting on God to act. Trust His timing.

Day 228 – August 16

1 Samuel 26

What does it say?

David had another opportunity to kill Saul but spared his life. He asked Saul to believe that he wished him no harm. Saul then blessed David and returned home.

What does it mean?

Saul believed that David planned to take the throne of Israel by force. But David’s actions and reasoning proved otherwise. If David had wanted to kill Saul, he could have done so – twice. David not only voiced his trust and confidence in the Lord, he also proved by his actions that he was allowing God to work on his behalf. Moved by the fact that David didn’t seize the opportunity to harm him, Saul finally saw the situation as it truly was rather than through fear and paranoia.

How should I respond?

The situations we face seldom deal with life and death. Still, you may consider someone an enemy if he constantly opposes you at work or school. David’s example in today’s passage is consistent with the instructions Christ gives to us. Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Have you faced opposition from others? How can you show them love and patience rather than retaliation? Stop right now and pray, genuinely asking God to bless them. Continue to do so and you’ll soon discover that it’s impossible to hate someone you’re praying for daily.

Day 227 – August 15

1 Samuel 25

What does it say?

David accepted Abigail’s advice and married her after the death of her husband, Nabal.

What does it mean?

David reacted strongly to both Nabal’s foolishness and Abigail’s wisdom. He was naturally angered at Nabal’s unwillingness to help him and his men, even though David had protected Nabal’s property. Abigail wisely approached the future king by encouraging him to keep his conscience clear in his response to Nabal’s arrogance. Abigail acted to protect her husband and her household, even though his actions were reckless. Her wisdom saved the lives of Nabal and every man in their employ. Abigail continued to respond with great humility when she accepted David’s offer of marriage.

How should I respond?

Standing up for those who make good decisions is always easier than stepping in to help someone who has acted foolishly. When family members have been reckless, it may seem best to let them deal with the repercussions of their actions. However, the consequences seldom fall on the foolish person alone. Who in your life has put themselves and others at risk by foolishness? Ask the Lord if He’s guiding you to intervene on their behalf; then humbly seek God’s wisdom before you act. Will your actions this week reflect wisdom or foolishness?

Day 226 – August 14

1 Samuel 24

What does it say?

David did not kill Saul when given the opportunity. He refused to take the life of the one God had placed on the throne.

What does it mean?

God had anointed David to be Israel’s future king. But that did not mean he could engage in behavior that endangered the man God had placed on the throne before him. Rather than take the kingdom by force, David needed to be patient. He seemed to understand that God would move him into that role in His own timing, just as the Lord had placed Saul there. David did not need to take matters into his own hands to accomplish God’s will.

How should I respond?

When you sense a strong calling on your life to move in a particular direction, you may also be tempted to justify any actions that will accomplish that calling. But of this you can be certain: God will never ask you to break His commands in order to accomplish His purpose. God’s will doesn’t have to be forced. Can you look back and see when a lack of patience produced a negative result in your life? In what area of life do you need to exercise patience today? Ask God to show you where you’ve started to take matters into your own hands. This week, remember that God will work out His will in His time.

Day 225 – August 13

1 Samuel 23

What does it say?

David helped free the people of Keilah from the Philistines. After fleeing from Saul, David met with Jonathan and was encouraged.

What does it mean?

During his ten years on the run, it would have been easy for David to focus solely on himself and his own troubles. But David continued to see the needs of others, even as he was fleeing for his life from Saul. As David sought God’s direction, he was guided to fight the Philistines on behalf of the people of Keilah, briefly taking the focus off his own challenges. In turn, God provided strength and encouragement through his friend, Jonathan.

How should I respond?

It can be difficult to see what someone else is dealing with when faced with your own troubles. Our minds naturally gravitate to self-interests and concerns. Christ, however, calls us to actively attend to the needs of others. This shift in focus has the benefit of building up someone else, while helping us avoid becoming self-centered. How is God developing your character and faith in life’s current challenges? Who can benefit from those emerging strengths? Be mindful of those God brings across your path today; the encounter may encourage them and jolt you out of self-pity.

Day 224 – August 12

1 Samuel 22

What does it say?

Saul accused Ahimelech and the priests of conspiring to help David take over the throne.

What does it mean?

Filled with rage and jealousy, Saul ordered the execution of Ahimelech and all the priests that were with him. Saul had become so jealous of David that he was able to justify in his own mind the killing of innocent people. Blinding hatred for David resulted in a callous disregard for justice. This chapter is a stark reminder of the potentially disastrous effects of long-term, unaddressed sin.

How should I respond?

Sin, in any form, has negative effects. As with the original fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, sin causes death. Without the blood of Christ as atonement, sin means eternal spiritual death. But sin has deadly results, even in the life of a believer. It may be the death of a relationship, peace, or joy. Where sin exists, death follows. That’s why God instructs us to deal with sin swiftly and not allow it to fester. Otherwise, the lasting outcomes could prove devastating. What sin have you allowed to have sanctuary in your life? What is its root cause – jealousy, pride, greed? Confess it, and then move forward in the grace and mercy given to you by God through Christ.

Day 223 – August 11

1 Samuel 21

What does it say?

David stayed with Ahimelech, the priest, under false pretenses while fleeing from Saul. He then pretended to be insane to avoid Philistine wrath.

What does it mean?

David deceived Ahimelech and the Philistines because he was afraid of what would happen if others knew that he was on the run from Saul. After trusting the Lord so diligently, David began making decisions from a position of fear instead of faith. He thought he was protecting himself in both instances. The deeper issue, however, was David’s apparent lack of trust in God to deliver him from the wrath of Saul. David seemed to forget that God would make him king, and Saul’s threats could not prevent that.

How should I respond?

Fear is a natural response to a feeling of danger. But like other parts of our nature, we need to take steps to overcome the negative effects of being afraid. Fear can paralyze us and prevent us from making choices that are led by the Spirit of God. Overcoming fear requires an act of the will. It is a conscious decision to redirect your mind from focusing on possible negative outcomes to trusting in the plan God has for you. Take some time today to examine your motives and emotions. Are you operating out of fear or faith?

Day 222 – August 10

1 Samuel 20

What does it say?

Jonathan confirmed that his father, Saul, intended to kill David. David and Jonathan took an oath to show kindness to each other’s families. David fled Israel.

What does it mean?

Jonathan was in line for the throne, yet he blessed David and humbly asked him to be kind to his family when David became king. He had every reason to be jealous. Instead, Jonathan submitted to God’s will for David to be king. Initially, all of this may seem unfair. It wasn’t Jonathan’s fault that his father turned from God and that his line would be removed from the throne. Still, Jonathan trusted God and gave up his own expectations. He embraced the plans God had for him, standing strong in what he believed to be God’s will for David and for Israel.

What does it say?

We all get jealous sometimes and feel that life is unfair. We often get upset with God when things don’t go the way we expect, or we don’t get what we think we deserve. It’s important to remember that everything we have is a gift from God – not something we’ve earned. What expectation are you holding on to? What is God asking you to give up? It may seem unfair on the surface. But God’s plan will always be infinitely better than anything you could dream up. Will you trust God and embrace the changes He may be bringing about in your life? Let your expectations go, and you’ll see that God has something even better in store.

Day 221 – August 9

1 Samuel 19

What does it say?

Saul continued his pursuit to kill David. But with the help of Jonathan and Michal, David escaped and ran to Samuel in the city of Naioth.

What does it mean?

David had been driven from his home and the people he loved. Still, he remained faithful to God’s plan. By running to Samuel, the one who had anointed him king, David was seeking protection and guidance from the man of God. As king, Saul should have sought Samuel’s guidance as well. Instead, he was humbly brought to his knees and made to glorify God after pursuing David yet again. Saul should have heeded this as a warning that he did not have the ability to resist God’s will. It was becoming evident to all that God would protect His anointed king.

How should I respond?

Extended periods of suffering can cause us to doubt that God cares. Where do you run when things get difficult? Who helps you focus on God’s perspective? You can either seek godly wisdom or insist on handling the situation on your own. Will you heed the warning given to Saul? The result of putting yourself in opposition to God’s expressed will is usually humbling. It’s never too late to turn around and run to God. Remain faithful and read God’s Word for guidance. He sees your situation and cares immensely.

Day 220 – August 8

1 Samuel 18

What does it say?

As David grew in popularity among the people, Saul became jealous. He attempted to take David’s life several times, but God was with David and protected him.

What does it mean?

This chapter depicts a stark contrast between the character and faith of two men. Saul was controlled by his emotions: jealousy and fear. David, on the other hand, displayed humble obedience to the Lord. What made the difference? God was with David but had left Saul. In the Old Testament God’s Spirit did not indwell the hearts of believers as He does today. The Spirit of God would come upon men for periods of time and then leave. God’s Spirit stayed with David, protecting and guiding him, as he remained faithful to the Lord’s plan.

How should I respond?

Becoming a follower of Christ does not mean you will not go through difficult times, but it does mean you will never go through them alone. As a follower of Christ, take hope in the fact that God is with you right now. He wants to enable and empower you if you will yield control to the Holy Spirit. What struggle are you in right now? Are you facing it in the power of the Holy Spirit or at the whim of your emotions? Will you, like David, humble yourself before the Lord? That decision will determine the quality of your character that emerges from the trial.

Day 219 – August 7

1 Samuel 17

What does it say?

After hearing Goliath’s blasphemous statements against the God of Israel, David volunteered to fight him one-on-one. Wearing no armor, David killed him on the battlefield.

What does it mean?

Saul’s army trembled in fear before the Philistine army and its champion, Goliath. From a human standpoint, this giant of a man seemed too big and powerful to defeat. David, however, saw Goliath from God’s point of view. He was angry that Goliath was getting away with blasphemy against the God of Israel – someone had to do something about it. So David responded in faith, believing His God was greater than any false god. He knew that the Lord would bring him victory.

How should I respond?

We all have things in our lives that seem like giants. The enormity of the problem can even cause us to doubt that there is a solution. When we look at our challenges from our point of view, it’s easy to give in to fear. The key is to remember the size of our God in comparison to the size of the struggle. Looking at the situation from God’s viewpoint will give you courage to act in God’s power and strength. What is currently causing you fear? By giving those fears to the Lord, you can march forward in confidence – not in your own abilities, but in His.

Day 218 – August 6

1 Samuel 16:14-23

What does it say?

After God’s Spirit left Saul, an evil spirit tormented him. When David played the harp, the music soothed Saul and the evil spirit left. David also served as Saul’s armor bearer.

What does it mean?

God often sets a plan in motion that does not come to fruition right away. David had been anointed king in Saul’s place, yet God sent him to serve Saul. Not only did David protect Saul in a physical sense as his armor bearer, he also protected him in a spiritual sense by playing his harp to ward off evil spirits. It would be years before David sat on the throne, and he would go through many hardships before he did so. But David remained humble and obedient to all God instructed him to do. He waited patiently on the Lord. Each step was part of his preparation to be Israel’s greatest king.

How should I respond?

We live in a fast-paced, “I want it now” culture. We expect everything to be done quickly and exactly how we want it. Sometimes, we even expect the same from God – wanting immediate answers to our prayers. What plan has God put in motion? Are you still waiting for Him to make it a reality? God has not forgotten. He will do all that He has promised. Like David, you may not understand how today fits into the big picture; but if you humbly obey what He’s given you to do – He will take care of the details. Take a moment to praise Him for what He is going to do as if He has already done it.

Day 217 – August 5

1 Samuel 16:1-13

What does it say?

The Lord directed Samuel to anoint Jesse’s son, David, as the new king of Israel.

What does it mean?

Israel had demanded a king, and God gave them what they wanted. Saul was tall and “kingly” in appearance. However, he no longer desired to please God in his heart. Israel needed a new king now that Saul had become unfit to lead – though Samuel was still using Saul as a standard. He took one look at Eliab and thought he’d found the new king. But God looks beyond appearance and sees the motives of the heart. David was an unlikely choice for king; Jesse had not even called him in from the field to be considered. Nevertheless, God saw a humble heart with a sincere desire to follow Him.

How should I respond?

Remember the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover”? That holds true, even when looking at yourself. By comparing ourselves with others, we sometimes think that God can’t use us. You’ll always find someone who appears to be more talented and gifted to serve the Lord than you. God, however, looks straight through what everyone else sees and takes inventory of your heart. What’s holding you back from serving the Lord? Is your heart filled with self-serving pride or with a humble desire to serve Christ? Ask God to show you what He sees and where He wants you to serve Him. You may think that you’re an unlikely choice to do great things for God, but so was King David.

Day 216 – August 4

1 Samuel 15

What does it say?

God instructed Saul to destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, but Saul saved some of the animals. Because of Saul’s disobedience, God rejected him as king.

What does it mean?

When God told Joshua to wipe out all the people in the land of Canaan, it was because of the Canaanites’ great sin. Similarly, the Amalekites, who lived to the south of Israel, had sinned greatly in the eyes of the Lord. They treated the Israelites harshly when they were on their way out of Egypt and heading to the Promised Land in the days of Moses. In God’s time, He sent Saul to destroy everything and everyone in Amalek to purge the land of their sin. However, Saul obeyed most of what God commanded but not all. He kept some of their animals for a sacrifice. Saul learned a valuable lesson: to obey God is better than to sacrifice.

How should I respond?

God wants nothing less than our full loyalty and obedience. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). We obey God because we love Him. He requires full obedience from His children because it’s what’s best for us, and it fulfills His purposes. As you read through the Bible, keep a list of the things that God instructs you to do. Remember, not every command in the Bible is for you directly—like destroying the Amalekites! In what area are you giving only partial obedience? What attitude or behavior needs to change? Determine to strive for full obedience—not just 90%.

Day 215 – August 3

1 Samuel 14:24-52

What does it say?

Although Jonathan didn’t hear Saul’s command for his men not to eat until evening, he didn’t defend his actions when he was confronted. However, the people spared his life.

What does it mean?

Saul was hasty in his decree that the troops should abstain from eating until evening. Jonathan was unaware of Saul’s decision and ate wild honey in the forest. Later, Saul built his first altar to the Lord, but God was silent. After further investigation, Jonathan’s violation of Saul’s command was revealed. The penalty was death. Jonathan accepted it without argument; he did not defend himself nor did he criticize Saul’s decision. However, Israel did defend Jonathan. His reputation spoke for itself, and the people overwhelmingly supported him. Jonathan trusted his life to God and it was spared.

How should I respond?

Have you ever found yourself at odds with someone in a position of authority over you? It might have been the result of a misunderstanding, a false accusation, or a disagreement over a performance standard. Whatever the cause, you may feel a need to defend yourself by criticizing your authority or the standard you failed to meet. However, God desires for us to respect our authorities, even when we disagree (Romans 13:1-4). How might you be dishonoring an authority in order to redeem your reputation? If something has caused a rift, talk it out calmly and privately. If you end each day with a clear conscience, you can entrust your reputation to the Lord.

Day 214 – August 2

1 Samuel 14:1-23

What does it say?

Jonathan and his armor bearer went secretly to the Philistine camp and struck down 20 men. The ensuing chaos strengthened the faith of Israel’s army as God did the impossible.

What does it mean?

Instead of retreating, Jonathan believed that if God wanted to defeat a large army with only a few, He could do it. Jonathan’s faith inspired his armor bearer who went with him. God did the impossible by enabling Jonathan to defeat 20 Philistines immediately. When news reached home, God’s people came out of hiding and headed into battle. The victory began with the faith of one man. Jonathan not only believed what God could do, he also demonstrated faith by taking action. And that action was contagious, leading fewer than 3,000 men to defeat an army too large to number.

How should I respond?

God still does the impossible. Whatever your battle or whoever your enemy, God can enable you. But it takes faith, not in your own ability or strength, but faith in the One with infinite strength and resources. The truth is worth repeating: God can do the impossible. Maybe you feel alone in your family, at work, or in your neighborhood. Would you be so bold as to face difficult or impossible circumstances, believing God for the victory? Perhaps you are the one that God wants to use to inspire faith in His people again. In what situation do you need to come out of hiding? Dream big. Trust big.

Day 213 – August 1

1 Samuel 13

What does it say?

Saul tried to seek God’s favor with an unauthorized burnt offering when Israel’s army was outnumbered, weaponless, and afraid. Samuel said Saul would lose the throne.

What does it mean?

The scene was one of panic. The Philistines had gathered more men to battle than the Israelites could count. Weaponless and greatly outnumbered, God’s people literally ran for the hills and hid in caves. Saul didn’t know what to do, and Samuel was nowhere to be found. Instead of trusting God’s faithfulness, Saul took matters into his own hands and disobeyed God by offering sacrifices without Samuel. It may seem like an insignificant mistake, but Saul’s decision revealed the truth about his heart. God’s people would soon be led by another – “a man after God’s own heart.”

How should I respond?

There are tragic moments in our lives when shock grips our hearts and minds. When panic starts to set in, we have to choose whether to react in fear or to respond with trust in what we know to be true: God is faithful. Think about such a moment in your own life. What did it reveal about you? We can learn a valuable lesson from Samuel’s words, “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart.” Evaluate your heart for a moment. Ask the Lord to strengthen your trust in Him regarding areas of fear. God already has the circumstances under control.

Day 212 – July 31

1 Samuel 12

What does it say?

Samuel reminded God’s people of His faithfulness. When Samuel warned the people of the consequences of disobedience, they repented and asked him to intercede for them.

What does it mean?

God is faithful. His commitment to Israel was unwavering, even in their rebellion. Samuel took a moment to have a candid conversation with Israel, reminding them of a few things God had done for them in the past. God’s people reacted with fear and humility. In that moment, Samuel knew the people could either turn away, or they could turn to God in repentance. He gently reminded them that God had chosen them as His people and would be faithful to that commitment. Samuel also reminded them that God’s faithfulness should compel them to fear and serve the Lord with their whole heart.

How should I respond?

God knew your doubts, your fears, and your rebellion before you were born. Yet He remains faithful to His commitment and promises to you. Even when we look to relationships, money, success, or a myriad of other distractions for our security, God is faithful. Look back – what has God done for you in the past? What is He doing right now? Like Israel, God’s record of faithfulness should compel you to serve Him with your whole heart. Ask Him to help you reflect His faithfulness. The choice to live solely for Him won’t necessarily make your life easier, but it will definitely be worth it.

Day 211 – July 30

1 Samuel 11

What does it say?

The Spirit of God came upon Saul, and he rallied the people to defeat the Ammonites. Saul and the people celebrated the Lord at Gilgal.

What does it mean?

Despite the fact that God had always looked after His people, Israel wanted a king to look after them. Saul was timid, unskilled in battle, and lacked confidence. Regardless of his new title as King, Saul was still the same man that was found hiding in the baggage, timid and insecure. However, the difference in his life was the Spirit of God at work through him. Although it may have appeared that Saul led the people to defeat the Ammonites that day, it was the Lord who gave him the wisdom needed to assemble an army and win the battle. Saul knew it and gave God the credit for the victory.

How should I respond?

God is powerful and quick to empower his servants to do His work. When you enter into a relationship with Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit is available to help you. You are inwardly “being renewed day by day” because you now have the power of God working in and through you (2 Cor. 4:16). What battle is before you right now? God can use you, regardless of what you feel you are lacking. Confess your insecurities and doubts to the Lord. Ask Him to enable you; then give Him the credit for the victory.

Day 210 – July 29

1 Samuel 10:9-27

What does it say?

All that Samuel prophesied about Saul came true. God selected Saul as king of Israel. At his public appointment, Saul was found hiding in the baggage.

What does it mean?

Saul was changed, and others could see the difference. All the signs Samuel gave Saul came true, yet he was still unsure. God, on the other hand, was at work saving Israel. God did not need Saul, but God chose to invite Saul to join Him in His work. Saul was reluctant. In fact, while his name was being called as the man who would be king, Saul was hiding in the baggage. God knew exactly where he was and why he was there, but He still chose to declare him king. God had a purpose for Saul, and no matter how hesitant he was, it was time for Saul to join God in His work.

How do I respond?

God is always at work. He does not need us, but chooses to involve us in what He is doing. He wants us to join Him even though it often can be challenging and unfamiliar, demanding our reliance on His strength. We have a choice – to trust Him and join in or to hide in the “baggage.” Are you trying to hide from God’s plan? What do you believe about yourself that causes you to decline God’s invitation to join Him in His work? Ask God to help you get out of the baggage and get on board.

Day 209 – July 28

1 Samuel 10:1-8

What does it say?

Samuel anointed Saul as king. Samuel gave him signs to look for and the promise of God’s presence with him. Saul was then sent to Gilgal to wait for Samuel.

What does it mean?

Because God knew Saul’s reluctant, unassuming disposition, He offered him two gifts: confirmation and confidence. The signs Samuel told Saul to look for would offer validity to Samuel’s statements, confirm the promise of kingship, and answer any doubts Saul might have about his calling. Saul lacked confidence, feeling unworthy to be king. God then gave Saul the promise of His presence to instill confidence. God’s promise to be with him should have been a comfort to him as it had been with Moses and Joshua, leaders before him. Saul would not have to doubt that he was the one God had chosen.

How do I respond?

God loves to call the ill equipped, the lowly, and the weak to do the impossible because that is when He gets the most credit. Rest assured that if God calls you to do something, He did not make a mistake in choosing you or the task He has for you. The extraordinary thing is that He cares enough about us to provide the assurance we need when doubt comes. What is God calling you to do in ministry, life, or family? What are your doubts? Has He already addressed them? Take a moment to talk with God about your doubts and the calling. Choose to move forward, trusting God’s wisdom.

Day 208 – July 27

1 Samuel 9

What does it say?

God heard Israel’s cries for help from the Philistines and revealed to Samuel that Saul would be their first king.

What does it mean?

Israel was in distress, and God had a plan to rescue the nation from the Philistines. Saul had no idea he was part of this plan or that he would be the first king. Saul was not looking for a crown – he was only looking for lost donkeys. The journey to reclaim these donkeys turned into a meeting with God’s prophet, an appointment to kingship, and the responsibility to rescue Israel from her enemies. Israel had rebelled against God by desiring a king. Even so, He was faithful. God was going to use Saul to save Israel and bring her back to Himself.

How should I respond?

Regardless of how inconsistent we may be in our commitment to God, He is steady, persistent, and compassionate. He cares about you all of the time – when you are seeking Him and when you are not. In your darkest moments and in your greatest achievements, He is committed to you. Because of His great love, you can have confidence in the fact that God hears you. He is both willing and able to help you. Take a moment to reflect on these attributes of God. How has God revealed His commitment to you recently?

Day 207 – July 26

1 Samuel 8

What does it say?

The nation of Israel rejected God’s leadership and asked for a king like other nations. Samuel warned the people of what a king would likely do.

What does it mean?

Samuel’s sons were given authority, and they took advantage of their position. This prompted the elders of Israel to ask for a king like other nations instead of trusting God to handle the situation. By doing so, they were rejecting their identity, their history, and God’s leadership. They didn’t trust God and wanted control to do what they believed was best. God warned the people that the cost of having a king would be great. Still, they chose to trust their own knowledge and understanding over God’s perfect wisdom.

How should I respond?

We all experience difficult circumstances – sometimes as a result of the poor actions of others. In those moments, we must remember who we are – children of God. Our identity begins with our Creator. Take a moment to reflect on the character of our God: His faithfulness, consistency, wisdom, and trustworthiness. What situation are you trying to take control of? Will you trust God’s wisdom and knowledge to work things out on your behalf? Determine right now that you will trust God’s wisdom over your own. The cost of going your own way is too great.

Day 206 – July 25

1 Samuel 7

What does it say?

After Israel fully committed their hearts to the Lord, He gave them victory over the Philistines. Samuel set up a stone near Mizpah as a remembrance of the Lord’s help.

What does it mean?

Everything was going well. The ark had returned to Israel, and Samuel led the people to clean out their idols and commit to worship only the Lord. But fear gripped their hearts when the Philistines gathered to attack. The children of Israel responded by looking to the Lord for help, fully convinced that He was able to rescue them. Asking Samuel to “cry out” to the Lord was more than a prayer request; it was a desperate plea in recognition that God was their only hope. The Ebenezer stone was a monument of the victory and a reminder of God’s intervention in their lives.

How should I respond?

Staying spiritually on track isn’t insurance against life’s troubles. However, having a heart that is fully committed to the Lord is the key to responding to sudden difficulty. Where do you turn when desperation pours over you like a tidal wave? The same God who rescued Israel from the Philistines still intervenes in the lives of His children. No situation is too overwhelming for Him. What is causing you fear today? The Lord is waiting for you to “cry out” to him, believing that He is able to handle it. His answer may not be immediate, but it will come. He is always at work behind the scenes of your life.

Day 205 – July 24

1 Samuel 6

What does it say?

The Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant to Israel with a guilt offering to pacify the wrath of God. The Israelites rejoiced and offered sacrifices to God.

What does it mean?

It is common in many cultures to give a gift when someone has been offended. God’s people had instructions about different types of guilt offerings in the writings of Moses, but in this situation the Philistines were offering a gift to pacify the wrath of God against them. It was as if God had moved the Philistines to do what was right after they had done what was wrong with His ark. God’s wrath against the Philistines was pacified when the Israelites in Beth-Shemesh offered up sacrifices to rejoice in the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel.

How should I respond?

When we’ve done something wrong, pride often stands in the way of admitting our guilt and asking God for forgiveness. One of the hardest things to do is simply saying the words, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, will you forgive me?” However, admitting when we’re wrong and asking for forgiveness not only heals those we’ve harmed, but it frees us. Is there a sin that you need to admit and ask forgiveness from God or another person? Keeping that sin to yourself because of pride will bind you, but asking for forgiveness will free you to have an unhindered relationship with the Lord.

Day 204 – July 23

1 Samuel 5

What does it say?

When the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant back to their land, God was furious. He smashed their idol of Dagon and gave people tumors wherever the ark was taken.

What does it mean?

The Ark of the Covenant was a special place for God’s presence to live among His people. It belonged in the Holy of Holies—a room in the inner part of the tabernacle. When the Philistines took the ark among the spoils of battle, they thought of it as just another religious artifact. God became angry that His ark was dishonored among the Philistines when they put it beside an idol in the temple of Dagon, their god. God doesn’t want to be treated like just another god because He is the one true living God, Who was not made by human hands but is Himself the Creator of all things everywhere.

How should I respond?

There are certain words we use to refer to God like “Lord,” “God,” “Christ,” and “Jesus.” Have you heard someone use those words as profanity rather than respectfully talking about the Creator and Savior of the world? Words like these are special because they refer to the one true living God, and God doesn’t want His name to be used flippantly but in an honorable way. Try this. The next time you hear someone use one of those words as profanity, say under your breath, “May God’s name be praised.” They may dishonor the Lord, but your love for His name will give recognition of the glory He is due.

Day 203 – July 22

1 Samuel 4

What does it say?

The Philistines defeated the Israelites at the Battle of Ebenezer and captured the Ark of the Covenant. Eli and his sons died as God had foretold.

What does it mean?

There was no king in these days, but God led His people through prophets, priests, and elders. The center of Israel during that time was in a town called Shiloh. This was the place where the tabernacle stood and where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Although God is everywhere, His presence was seen in a special way just above the ark. When the Philistines seemed to be winning the Battle of Ebenezer, the elders of Israel hatched a plan to bring the ark to the battlefield; but this was not the Lord’s plan, so He didn’t bless it. God allowed Israel to lose the battle and the ark.

How should I respond?

Everyone makes plans. This passage teaches us to call upon the Lord in prayer before and during the making of our own plans. What is the next big thing you’re planning? Have you prayed about it? There are three ways you can hear God’s answer. First, make sure your plans are in line with what the Bible teaches. Second, ask Him to give you a sense of peace about the plans. Third, share your plans with godly Christian friends and ask them for guidance. Get into the habit of asking God what His plan is rather than simply asking Him to bless yours.

Day 202 – July 21

1 Samuel 3

What does it say?

Eli helped Samuel recognize that it was God calling his name. The Lord told Samuel His plans for Israel and Eli. God remained with Samuel as he became a prophet of Israel.

What does it mean?

God was about to do something new in Israel, and He chose to reveal it to the boy who would proclaim God’s message to His people for years to come. But before Samuel could hear God’s message, he had to get still before the Lord and listen intentionally. The message of judgment against his mentor, Eli, must have been difficult to hear and even harder to repeat. Through this event, Samuel learned to recognize God’s voice, listen to His plan, and speak His message. As Samuel grew up, God’s presence with him was so evident that it caught people’s attention. God continued to speak and Samuel faithfully communicated His Word to the people.

How should I respond?

We live in a busy world. Being still before the Lord doesn’t just happen; you have to be intentional about spending time with Him. While God may not audibly speak today, He has revealed His plans and instructions through His Word, the Bible. God also speaks through the guidance and conviction of the Holy Spirit, Who lives inside every follower of Christ. How much of your prayer time is spent listening to God versus telling Him what you want? How will you be faithful to carry out what He reveals to you? As you act to carry out God’s plans, His grace on your life will be obvious to the people around you.

Day 201 – July 20

1 Samuel 2:12-36

What does it say?

Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, treated the people of Israel wickedly and despised God through their sin. Therefore, God cut off Eli’s family from serving as priests.

What does it mean?

God gave Moses many specific instructions about how the priests were to handle the sacrifices brought to the tabernacle. There were two main purposes behind these instructions. The first was to maximize the worship experience of the person offering the sacrifice. This wasn’t just a ritual, but worship that brought the one offering the sacrifice into a right relationship with God. The second purpose was to provide an equitable division of the edible part of the sacrifice between the worshipper and the priest. Eli’s sons treated the instructions and purposes with contempt.

How should I respond?

How do you approach worship when you come to church on Sundays? Are you excited to sing, pray, and read God’s Word with other believers? Or do you come out of a sense of duty, just to check church attendance off your “to do” list? Church is all about loving God and loving people. Believers come together because we thirst for God Himself and want to worship and love Him with everything we have. We can also develop relationships with people who become like a family. This week, try singing the worship songs to God directly, thinking about the words. Then, get involved in a Life Group and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. How will you approach God this week?

Day 200 – July 19

1 Samuel 2:1-11

What does it say?

Hannah praised God and returned home. Samuel stayed with Eli to minister to the Lord.

What does it mean?

Hannah did not forget the commitment she made to God. She not only gave Samuel to the service of the Lord, but she also praised God and celebrated His character before returning home. Hannah worshipped God from a heart overflowing with gratitude for His goodness. In a moment that must have been incredibly difficult for a mother, Hannah chose to remember God’s faithfulness. She chose to celebrate her amazing God. Leaving Samuel at the temple was, at its very core, an act of worship. Hannah gave up that which was most precious to her in service to the Lord.

How do I respond?

It’s easy to become stingy with God’s blessings. Sometimes, the path He puts in front of us means letting go of good things. It can be very difficult to give them up – even to the Lord. We may refuse to hand them over, or grudgingly do so, becoming resentful and complaining about our circumstances. In those moments you can choose to trust God and remember His faithfulness. Giving your greatest treasures to God in an act of worship provides an opportunity to know Him better. Are your most prized possessions available to God? How could you, like Hannah, shift your mindset from the blessings to the One who provided them? How will you choose to worship the Lord today?

Day 199 – July 18

1 Samuel 1

What does it say?

Hannah pleaded with God to end her infertility and give her a son, promising to give him into God’s service. God granted her request, and Hannah gave birth to Samuel.

What does it mean?

This chapter sets the stage for Samuel’s life and God’s purpose for him from the beginning. Samuel was to lead Israel back to God and into victory over their national enemy, the Philistines. But first, Hannah had to be willing to cooperate with God’s plan. It may appear that she was waiting on God to give her a son, and in simple terms, she was. But God was also waiting on Hannah. He had a purpose for Samuel, and Hannah had to be willing to let go of the very thing she was asking for. When, in desperation, Hannah made her vow, it was clear she was ready. Eli was there to reassure her that God would answer her prayer.

How should I respond?

Life is full of surprises, those moments that are unexpected, not part of our plan, just as Hannah did not plan for infertility. God often uses those times to prepare us for something greater. Take a moment to consider what blessings you are asking from the Lord. What struggles have you brought to Him on your knees, in tears, in desperation? Is it possible that God is waiting for you to have a different perspective? Ask God to turn your desperation into an open heart, ready for His purposes.

Day 198 – July 17

Ruth 4

What does it say?

Boaz met with the other kinsman-redeemer who declined to redeem the land.

What does it mean?

The events in the lives of Boaz and Ruth reassure believers that God is at work to fulfill His purposes – even in the spiritual darkness of the times. God works in the lives of those who are willing to trust Him. Boaz didn’t depend on man’s opinions or on his own ideas of how to handle the situation – he looked to what God had revealed in His Word. Without hesitation, Boaz acted in accordance with God’s instructions and settled the legal matter quickly. From Boaz, the Jewish kinsman-redeemer, and his Gentile bride would come the Lord Jesus Christ – the Kinsman-Redeemer of every believer.

How should I respond?

The book of Ruth is often referred to as the fascinating love story of Ruth and Boaz. Even Hollywood has made movies based loosely on the biblical account. However, the movies completely miss the true love story that goes much deeper than the couple could ever imagine. Behind the scenes is the providential movement forward of God’s plan – His love story – to provide a Savior for mankind. Are you included in that love story? Have you received the only One who can redeem you from your sin and provide you with an eternal home in Heaven with Him? If so, how can your life become a part of His love story to those in your life who need to be redeemed?

Day 197 – July 16

Ruth 3

What does it say?

Naomi gave Ruth instructions on requesting Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer.

What does it mean?

God gave a specific provision for childless widows in Hebrew society (Deut. 25:5-10). That provision brought together two individuals from vastly different cultural and economic backgrounds who shared a common faith in the God of Israel. Boaz responded graciously to Ruth’s request to be her kinsman-redeemer. Though nothing is said about Ruth’s physical appearance, Boaz praises her inner qualities. Once again, his godly character is seen in his submission to God’s law relating to the role of a kinsman-redeemer. He vowed to pursue the matter immediately. Boaz wished to marry Ruth, “a woman of noble character,” but more than that, he desired to obey God’s Word.

How should I respond?

Whether you are choosing a life partner or building close friendships, it’s important to identify people of faith with a passion to please the Lord. What would others say about your character qualities? How is your desire to please and obey God shaping who you are? God promises that if you delight in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). What are you doing to delight in Him and fulfill His plans for you? When you do what pleases Him, you can count on Him to do what He has promised.

Day 196 – July 15

Ruth 2

What does it say?

Ruth offered to glean the leftover grain from the fields. She happened to select a field belonging to Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.

What does it mean?

In His providence, God arranged a divine appointment between two people who lived by faith in the God of Israel — a Jewish man of wealth and integrity and a poor Moabite widow. Boaz commended Ruth for her commitment to care for Naomi. In turn, God used Boaz to provide protection and food for Ruth, the Moabitess. Later, she learned that Boaz happened to be a close relative, a kinsman-redeemer. God was at work behind the scenes, both in their lives and preparing the way for our future Kinsman-Redeemer to enter Bethlehem!

How should I respond?

Have you ever thought, “It was just a coincidence—I just happened to be at the right place at the right time”? How have you seen God’s hand at work in events in your life that seemed to just happen? God’s guidance and provision can come in ways you do not expect. Often those happenings occur during a challenging time, a time when you wonder what is going on. At those times when nothing seems to be going as planned, continue to trust and obey. God uses the tough times to strengthen your faith so that you learn to trust Him to provide exactly what you need at exactly the right time.

Day 195 – July 14

Ruth 1

What does it say?

To escape a famine, Naomi’s family left Bethlehem and moved to Moab. After the death of her husband and sons, Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth returned to Bethlehem.

What does it mean?

The events in Chapter 1 occurred during the period of the judges, a time of depravity in Israel. When Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, she urged her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab. However, Ruth’s words reveal her desire to be identified with God’s people and God’s land. Her decision to leave her home, her family, and the false gods of Moab shows the profound difference that the knowledge of the one true God can make in a person’s life. Although many in Israel were doing what they thought was right, Ruth, a Gentile, chose to walk by faith and do what was right in God’s eyes.

How should I respond?

Do you sometimes find yourself falling into society’s way of thinking and lifestyle? There are strong influences in our culture that can draw us away from God’s best. Living in accordance with God’s will is a lifetime commitment that involves leaving our old way of life. As you trust and obey His Word, He will gradually unveil the unique plan that He has for you. Which of your old ways do you need to leave behind in order to embrace His purposes for you? The Lord comes “to the aid of His people” when they determine to follow Him. When you do, you will see God’s grace even in the midst of grief.

Day 194 – July 13

Judges 21

What does it say?

Four hundred virgins from Jabesh Gilead were given to the surviving Benjamites as wives. Those without wives carried off girls from Shiloh to the land of their inheritance.

What does it mean?

In order to understand the events of this chapter, one must read the end first (v25). The men of Israel used their own logic and reasoning to solve the challenge with the Benjamites. Even their sacrifices and offerings were more ritualistic than truly seeking guidance from the Lord. A Canaanite version of Israel has been developing. By the end of Judges, the men of Israel repeatedly exert power rather than responsibility. Their treatment of women in this passage was no better than the actions against the concubine that started the war in the first place. The inhabitants of Canaan were no longer the biggest threat to God’s people – Israel was rotting from within.

How should I respond?

As Christians, we are often our own worst enemy. We can become so comfortable going through the motions of religion while dabbling in worldly temptations that we don’t realize how far we’ve moved from God Himself. Think back through the challenges you faced this week. How have your thoughts about those issues been affected by unbiblical views in the world? How might you have used your own reasoning to find a solution? Following Christ in a spiritually dark world requires constant communication with God –through both prayer and Scripture. Which version of yourself is being developed?

Day 193 – July 12

Judges 20

What does it say?

The death of the Levite’s concubine led to a three-day war between Israel and the Benjamites. God eventually gave victory to Israel, completely destroying Gibeah.

What does it mean?

The enraged men of Israel marched off to take out their vengeance on the Benjamites, but didn’t ask for the Lord’s guidance until armies were mobilized for civil war. By this point in Israel’s history, people did whatever seemed right without consulting God. They had neglected to offer sacrifices that prompted daily repentance and worship of the Lord. At the root of the problem were willful, rebellious hearts that refused to bow to His authority. They didn’t think to pray, fast or sacrifice to the Lord until they were in dire need.

How should I respond?

Living by our own wits will always result in a loss of some kind – either physical or spiritual. Still, how often do we fail to seek God’s direction until we’re backed into a corner? In a time of desperation, you may quickly attempt to catch up on asking the Lord’s forgiveness or upping your church attendance. While those things are good, examine the condition of your heart that put you in such a precarious position to start with. How would God describe your attitude toward Him today? Rebellious or obedient? Willful or submissive? The Lord is ready to offer daily comfort and guidance, but we must first recognize His sovereign right to be worshipped and obeyed.

Day 192 – July 11

Judges 19

What does it say?

After the wicked men of Gibeah abused and killed a runaway concubine, her husband sent pieces of her body to every area of Israel.

What does it mean?

The shocking events throughout this account show the degradation that takes place when there is no moral standard or central authority to hold people accountable. God seems completely absent from the entire scenario. No one calls on Him, neither does He speak or act. Without actively seeking God, His chosen people were at the whim of their lusts, demonstrating human depravity at its worst. Normal behavior for the children of God had become as vile and corrupt as Sodom within a generation or two of Joshua. The Levite’s actions upon returning home started a chain of events that continue to unfold in the remaining chapters of Judges.

How should I respond?

Reading this passage would make most feel sick to their stomachs. Yet, our society embraces the same rejection of God that led to such depravity and devaluing of human life. Without recognition of God’s laws to guide thoughts and mold the conscience, priorities become twisted. What have you allowed to mold your conscience? Do you recognize God’s Word as the final authority for your life? The moral and ethical values in Scripture are the keys to maintaining standards of decency, both in society and the human heart. Will you determine to actively seek God each and every day?

Day 191 – July 10

Judges 18

What does it say?

The Danites pushed their way north, taking Micah’s priest, ephod, and household idols.

What does it mean?

Throughout the book of Judges we see God’s people acting on the basis of their own logic and reasoning; this passage is no exception. The Danites grew impatient to inherit the land allotted to their tribe and decided to look elsewhere. The spies sent from the tribe sought God’s blessing on their mission after it was well under way rather than at the outset. The young priest who confirmed their plan was isolated from God’s people and serving in a house of idolatry. Though it seemed successful, their mission contradicted the Lord’s plan and resulted in establishing a center of idolatry for generations to come.

How should I respond?

God always has a plan. But disaster results any time we act on our own rather than wait for Him to clear the path. Isolation from God’s Word and God’s people can cause you to think that your plan is reasonable. Friends and family may even confirm the direction you are heading. So, how do you know whether you are moving in the direction the Lord desires for you? First, stay connected with Him through daily prayer and Bible reading. Follow God’s clear instructions in Scripture. Then, seek advice from others who are doing the same. Finally, be patient. God will open the right doors at the right time. With what situation do you need to trust the Lord today? His plan will result in His blessing.

Day 190 – July 9

Judges 17

What does it say?

Micah admitted he stole his mother’s silver. She blessed him and gave some of it to him to make an idol. Micah then hired a nomadic Levite to be his personal priest.

What does it mean?

This is a strange story in the middle of several stories of great heroism. Micah was not much of a hero, but he did have his moments of making the right choices. “Polytheism” is the belief that there are many gods –often including the God of the Bible as just one. Despite the fact that Micah chose to make an idol and to worship false gods, he also wished to have the blessings of the God of the Bible, so he hired a personal priest from the tribe of Levi. In the end, this was unacceptable to the one true God of the Bible, so Micah’s idols and his personal priest were stolen by raiders from the tribe next door.

How should I respond?

Some people see their pursuit of God much like a buffet restaurant. They pick and choose beliefs and practices from multiple religions, filling up on whatever looks good at the moment. However, the God of the Bible is the only true God, and He designed us to worship Him alone. As you read through the Bible and these My Time devotionals, set your primary focus on getting to know the one true God better. Jesus taught us to seek God and His righteousness first and to worship Him alone (Matt 6:33). Where do you look for spiritual fulfillment? True satisfaction is found only by filling your heart and mind with God’s Word.

Day 189 – July 8

Judges 16

What Does It Say?

Samson told Delilah that his long hair was the secret of his strength. She betrayed him to the Philistines, but God answered Samson’s prayer for one final act of strength.

What Does It Mean?

Samson made a series of poor decisions because he was focused on pleasing himself rather than God. He was unfaithful to his Nazarite vow and disregarded the unique plan the Lord had for his life. After hitting bottom, Samson finally came to his senses and realized that God really did know best. The sincerity of Samson’s prayer caused the Spirit of the Lord to return to him. When the building caved in, thousands of Philistines were killed, as was Samson. Sadly, Samson missed out on many opportunities to serve the Lord, but God used his final act of faith for a great victory (Hebrews 11:32).

How Should I Respond?

You’ve probably witnessed a toddler throw a tantrum when he didn’t get what he wanted. Most of us still struggle with a yearning to please ourselves. Problems arise, however, if we don’t learn how to reign in desires that go against God’s will. Any longing that is stronger than your desire to follow God has the power to devastate your life. What are you pursuing more than God right now? Some desires may reveal a moral weakness or a willingness to toy with sin. What would your life look like a year from now if you chose to pursue God over everything else? What do you have to lose?

Day 188 – July 7

Judges 15

What does it say?

The Philistines sought revenge after Samson burned their crops. In return, Samson killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.

What does it mean?

Samson’s actions can seem retaliatory and reckless, but he was God’s agent to confront the Philistines. Samson didn’t fear them the way his countrymen did. He allowed himself to be handed over to the Philistines and single handedly killed one thousand of them in battle. A thousand men may sound like poetic exaggeration, but don’t forget who accomplished the feat. Verse 14 says that the Spirit of the Lord “rushed upon him” enabling him to put a significant dent in the Philistine army. Again and again in Judges, the Spirit of the Lord caused people to do things beyond normal human capacity.

How should I respond?

Believers often feel pressure to be a super-Christian – handling home, work, and church life with spiritual perfection. But remember, God’s grace is our resource – He is patient with us and will work in us as we follow Him. As a believer, it is the Holy Spirit who works in you, enabling you to accomplish marvelous things as you submit to Him. If you find yourself feeling pressure to take on too much, ask God to guide, equip, and give you the courage to obey.

Day 187 – July 6

Judges 14

What does it say?

Samson found a wife from among the Philistines. Although he trusted her, she betrayed him; in his anger he slaughtered thirty Philistines and lost his wife.

What does it mean?

Samson’s parents were told by God to raise Samson in the strictest type of Judaism—according to the rules of the Nazirite vow. Samson was to remain pure and be used by God to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines. Instead, in this chapter we see Samson marrying a Philistine, eating honey out of a dead lion’s carcass, and gambling with thirty Philistines over a riddle. Samson’s parents must have felt like failures, and Samson must have seemed like the most unlikely of men to lead Israel out of their captivity to the Philistines. However, God used Samson. Nothing stopped God’s plan.

How should I respond?

Have you ever looked at your life, the life of a child, or the life of a friend and thought, “I (or that person) blew it”? Samson’s story reminds us that no matter how much we stray from God’s plan for our lives, no matter how dark things might seem to be, He can always use us. The Lord loves us and wants to fit us into His plan for our lives and the lives of those around us. There is no such thing as a lost cause. Talk to God honestly about your shortcomings. Ask Him to forgive you and show you how you can be used in His plan. Then, move forward and leave the mistakes of the past there, in the past.

Day 186 – July 5

Judges 13

What does it say?

An angel of the Lord told Manoah’s wife she would have a son who would be a Nazarite. Samson’s parents were given special instructions about his upbringing.

What does it mean?

Samson was separated to the Lord as a Nazarite from the time of his conception. Manoah believed his wife’s report about the angel’s message but wanted to know more. He wasn’t asking God for an easier task or trying to make excuses. Manoah was already determined to obey even though the task ahead was daunting. He asked to hear from the angel of the Lord personally because he was excited to obey and wanted to do it right.

How should I respond?

There is one basic decision in life that makes every other decision easier – “I will gladly obey whatever God asks me to do.” It’s just a matter of working out the details once you’ve made that determination. What is your first response when the Lord prompts you to do something you’ve never done before? Do you ask for an easier task? Some responsibilities can be intimidating if approached from a human standpoint. But God will never leave you without everything you need to complete the job. Begin by expressing your desire to obey; then ask Him to tell you more!

Day 185 – July 4

Judges 11:29-12:15

What does it say?

Jephthah made a vow to God: if God gave him victory over the Ammonites, he would sacrifice whatever greeted him first when he returned home from the battle.

What does it mean?

Faced with the possibility of war with Ammon, Israel begged God for a leader. Jephthah agreed after making certain that God was in the plan. Jephthah, listed in the Hebrews 11 “hall of faith,” evidenced true faith in the living God as one of Israel’s judges. But his human nature caused him to make a rash vow. Theologians differ in their interpretations of how he fulfilled his vow: Did he sacrifice his daughter to God’s service, or did he sacrifice her as a burnt offering on the altar? One thing is certain – Jephthah carried out his vow in some way. Whatever the outcome, this account addresses the serious nature of making a vow.

How should I respond?

In moments of extreme stress we have a tendency to “bargain” with God. When was the last time you told God that if He would answer a prayer in a certain way, you would offer something in return? This type of “foxhole negotiation” usually happens when we’re threatened with a dire situation. Perhaps you’re facing a life-threatening illness, a financial crisis, or a great personal loss. You may be willing to promise God anything to solve the issue. Ask yourself, “If God chooses not do this, will I still love and follow Him?” Rather than rashly bargaining with God, determine to submit your will to His.

Day 184 – July 3

Judges Judges 10:1-11:28

What does it say?

After 45 years of godly judges and peace, Israel once again turned to the worship of idols. They were taken into slavery as the result of turning away from God.

What does it mean?

Israel’s obedience to God’s laws was inconsistent. Gradually the pagan idol worship of neighboring nations crept into their lifestyle. God judged their sin by allowing oppression and bondage at the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites. Unlike other times, their cries for deliverance reflected genuine repentance, which touched God’s heart. He used an outcast, Jephthah, and his notorious band of men to free them. Amazingly, the elders of Israel sought out this man of low social status to lead them.

How should I respond?

Do you go through cycles of faithfully serving God followed by periods of inconsistency? The Lord will always discipline His children for disobedience. Take a quick inventory of your attitudes and actions. How are you allowing yourself to be influenced by the world? In what area are you inconsistent in your obedience to God? Choose to confess those things to Him right now with genuine repentance. What lifestyle changes would help you stay on course spiritually? God says He has no use for a “lukewarm” Christian (Revelation 3:16). Does that describe you? He loves you passionately. Will your life reflect the same commitment for Him at the end of each day?

Day 183 – July 2

Judges Judges 9:22-57

What does it say?

After three years, the men of Shechem had grown to hate Abimelech, and a battle resulted in his death.

What does it mean?

The men of Shechem eventually saw Abimelech for the abominable man he was but his power made getting rid of him difficult. However, God had not forgotten the atrocities he had brought on his brothers. The Lord had warned the city of Shechem through Jotham and had given them three years of grace. Now it was time for God to intervene, bringing judgment upon the sinful leader and the sinful city. Abimelech and the people of Shechem were held accountable for their actions. Abimelech was killed in battle but not before causing the death of many of his own subjects.

How should I respond?

Many countries today are ruled by harsh men who neglect the well-being of their citizens and, in some cases, even harm them. What accounts from the news immediately come to your thoughts? How should followers of Christ respond to that kind of evil in the world? First, pray for people whose leaders are cruel and uncaring. Put visual reminders on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Then, look for opportunities to support mission trips and relief efforts to those countries. Your actions might be the answer to their prayers.

Day 182 – July 1

Judges Judges 9:1-21

What does it say?

After the death of Jerubbaal (Gideon), Abimelech persuaded the people of Shechem to anoint him as king. He then killed his 70 brothers; only Jotham survived.

What does it mean?

Greed, pride and a craving for control led Abimelech to manipulate the idol-worshipping men of Shechem to anoint him king. Abimelech’s lust for power jaded his thinking to the point that the lives of his own family meant nothing to him. Jotham, the only brother to escape, spoke to Shechem through a parable that rebuked the decision the leaders had made. If they had acted with integrity in appointing Abimelech and with fairness toward his brothers, then they should rejoice. However, if their actions were not based on God’s will, Abimelech’s reign would be a curse that would bring destruction on them all.

How do I respond?

It’s easy to be persuaded to turn from God’s will when we’re not connecting with Him daily. Without God’s wisdom, discernment and judgment can become clouded with the world’s thinking. In what area of your life are you initiating action without first going to the Lord? No detail is too small to bring to God for His guidance. Scripture and prayer are the keys that open the door to wisdom in all our actions. Determine to worship God alone. Then, ask Him to help you recognize influences that pull you off course. Examine today’s decisions in light of this passage. Will your choices bring rejoicing or regret?

Day 181 – June 30

Judges 8:22-35

What does it say?

After refusing to be king, Gideon made a golden ephod from the Midianite plunder and set it up in his hometown. The Israelites there worshipped it as an idol.

What does it mean?

Even though Gideon refused the request to rule over Israel, he proceeded to live as if he were a king. We can’t be sure why Gideon decided to make the ephod from the Midianite gold and display it in his hometown. Whether it was to remember God’s deliverance or to exalt his own victory, the end result was the same. The ephod became a spiritual pitfall for Gideon, his family, and the children of Israel. God had allowed the Midianite oppression because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him. But after He delivered them, the Israelites quickly fell into the same sin and started worshiping idols again.

How should I respond?

Any success we have ultimately comes from the Lord. But when we don’t give God all of the credit for what He allows us to accomplish, we create an obstacle, not only for ourselves but for others as well. Ask yourself, “How might I be taking the glory for things God has done in my life?” How can you encourage others to praise and acknowledge God for what He has helped you to accomplish? Determine today to humble yourself before the Lord and look for an opportunity to give Him the glory He so rightly deserves.

Day 180 – June 29

Judges 8:1-21

What does it say?

Gideon pursued the last of the Midianite kings, inflicting vengeance on the leaders of Succoth and Peniel.

What does it mean?

Gideon was transformed from a fearful wheat farmer to a fearless, diplomatic judge. Yet the events of this passage reveal a proud and vengeful side to Gideon’s character. God had mightily used Gideon and his band of 300 men, but pride and personal vengeance crept into his life. The leaders of Succoth and Peniel were, in a sense, allying themselves with the enemy when they refused to give aid. However, God didn’t instruct Gideon as He had previously. Gideon chose to be ruthless against his own countrymen rather than respond with diplomacy. Under God’s direction, Gideon was a mighty warrior. Without it, he resorted to pride and brutality.

How should I respond?

Even God-given success can become a root of pride. It’s very easy for pride to sneak into our lives; if left unchecked, it can have disastrous effects. Have you ever let success go to your head? If God is using you, be quick to give Him all the credit and glory. Take a moment and give yourself a spiritual checkup. What changes in your attitudes or recent actions might indicate a character flaw? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any pride that might be hiding in your heart. Commit now to seek God’s leading rather than resorting to your own judgment.

Day 179 – June 28

Judges 7

What does it say?

God instructed Gideon to select an army of only 300 Israelites to fight against the Midianites. Gideon and his army ambushed the Midianites in a nighttime battle.

What does it mean?

When Gideon’s troops were first gathered together, there were about 32,000 men. However, God whittled down the number to 300 because He did not want Israel to brag that they won this battle by their sheer size. God could have simply spoken a word, and the Midianites would have been defeated on the spot. But God chose to accomplish His plan through a small group of soldiers and sent over 99% of the army home before the battle began. It took tremendous faith to go into battle with only trumpets and pitchers. The result was one of the most amazing victories in all military history.

How should I respond?

How have you prepared yourself to do the work God has currently put in front of you? Our idea of preparation and God’s can be drastically different. At times it seems God has allowed the very things we need to accomplish the task to be dismantled. But God’s plans are accomplished in God’s way. What is your level of faith in God right now? Are you willing to trust Him with your current situation? Take a few minutes to talk to God about how He wants you to proceed. If your faith needs strengthening, ask Him to help you believe as the 300 did.

Day 178 – June 27

Judges 6

What does it say?

God spoke to Gideon through an angel. Gideon had been chosen to lead an army against the Midianites, who had been oppressing Israel for seven years.

What does it mean?

Gideon was the youngest child in his family, and his family was the least important in their tribe. It made no sense to Gideon that he, of all people, would be chosen by God to deliver Israel from the Midianites. However, God sometimes chooses the underdog to prove a point: it is God’s power, not the person’s, that defeats enemies. Gideon wanted to make absolutely sure that this message was actually coming from God, so he asked for a few signs, which God provided. So Gideon prepared for battle by first destroying an idol’s altar among his people.

How should I respond?

It’s intimidating to approach a task for which you feel under qualified. Whether it’s at work, home or in ministry, it’s important to know that our direction is coming from the Lord. So, how can you be certain God is calling you to accomplish something big for Him? Here are three answers. First, pray. Go straight to the Source, and ask God to help you learn to hear His calling. Second, keep reading the Bible. You will see patterns develop through which God often calls people to action. Third, ask people who know you and know God what they think about God’s calling in your life. They may see strengths where you have insecurities. Take the first step – God will take it with you!

Day 177 – June 26

Judges 5

What does it say?

Following their defeat of the armies of Sisera, Deborah and Barak sang a song to commemorate their victory, give glory to God, and call out those who did not fight.

What does it mean?

Amidst the several cycles of disobedience, slavery, cries of repentance, deliverance, and peace, Deborah and Barak suddenly break into song. This military anthem contains further details of Israel’s bravery and apathy, God’s provision, and Israel’s ultimate victory through the bravery of Jael, a lady living in a tent. This part of the book of Judges might remind us of a musical—the kind in which an event is punctuated with a song. The song does tell a story, but it also tells us how the story made Deborah and Barak feel. Israel commonly put their history, their worries, and their praise to music.

How should I respond?

It’s been said that music is the universal language. It has the power to move us emotionally, especially when we identify with the message of the lyrics. God gave us a mind to comprehend the big events in life and a heart and voice to express our feelings about them in song. What songs about the Lord speak to your heart? Which worship song is particularly encouraging to you in your current circumstances? Follow Deborah’s example and sing your praise to God both in private and corporate worship. Whether recent events in your life have been happy or sad, expressing your dependence on the Lord through song can be both uplifting and healing.

Day 176 – June 25

Judges 4

What does it say?

Deborah, a prophetess and the judge of Israel, called Barak to lead an army of 10,000 foot soldiers against Sisera, the Canaanite, with his massive army and 900 chariots.

What does it mean?

After Moses and Joshua – but before there were kings in Israel – judges heard and made decisions on disputes between Israelites. They also called up troops to overthrow the Canaanite rulers who were oppressing Israel. Deborah was specially equipped as a judge because she was also a prophetess, receiving messages straight from the Lord about His people. Her influence was so great that when she called Barak to raise an army and fight against the superior Canaanite army, he refused to go unless she went with him. Was Barak frightened? Sure he was! However, he did something wise in that moment. He asked for Deborah’s help.

How should I respond?

God sometimes calls us to serve Him in difficult circumstances. Will we experience fear? We sure will, but take comfort that the same God who granted Barak victory will also be your strength. Has God asked you to do something that seems overwhelming? In what area of your life do you need help? Start praying about who God may want to come alongside of you. Then, trust God and approach that person. Asking for help from others isn’t a sign of weakness. Knowing when and whom to ask is evidence of wisdom.

Day 175 – June 24

Judges 2:16-3:31

What does it say?

Israel went through cycles of disobedience, slavery, cries of repentance, deliverance, and peace. God’s deliverance came in the form of a judge who delivered Israel.

What does it mean?

Israel seemed to live out the now-commonly-quoted warning that “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” The same cycle of sin showed up time after time. When things were calm and peaceful in the land, Israel would drift away from their commitment to God and worship other gods instead. Rather than thanking and worshiping the God Who blessed them, they grew ungrateful and bored, seeking fulfillment in the false gods of their neighbors. God demonstrated His frustration with the Israelites, but also His mercy and patience.

How should I respond?

God is genuinely saddened and angry when His people sin. However, today’s passage teaches us that no matter how badly we mess up or how far we stray, our Father is waiting for us to return (Luke 15:11-24). What sin do you seem to repeat in a cycle? Are you trying to find fulfillment in something or someone other than the Lord? The first step to breaking the cycle is to get things right with God in prayer, accept His forgiveness, and forgive yourself. What guardrails do you need to establish to avoid falling back into the cycle? Learning from your own history will keep you from repeating it.

Day 174 – June 23

Judges 2:1-15

What does it say?

In the generations of Israel that followed Joshua, there was a gradual deterioration of loyalty to God. God therefore used the remaining Canaanites to punish the Israelites.

What does it mean?

Fifty times in the Old Testament, God reminds Israel that He delivered them from slavery in Egypt and therefore expected them to be loyal and worship only Him. Yet in today’s passage we see a gradual turning away from the Lord. He made a promise to the earlier generations to be their God. However, now that the later generations had received the blessings of this promise, they began to turn their backs on the Lord and worship the gods of the Canaanites. Ironically, God then allowed the Canaanites to overthrow the Israelites and send them back into slavery.

How should I respond?

When we are faithful to God, He blesses us in many ways—not just as individuals but as His people in general. But what about the next generation? How can we help them continue to understand God’s ways and respond correctly in their lives? Here are three suggestions. First, read the Bible together. It is the very Word of God and will always bring results in our lives (Isaiah 55:10-11). Second, pray together. Talking to God with others puts your hearts and minds on the same page. Third, go to church together. Worshiping God together and connecting with others in a local church will help build a lasting legacy of faith.

Day 173 – June 22

Judges 1

What does it say?

Following the battles led by Joshua, the tribes of Israel conquered the Promised Land, but they failed to drive out all the previous residents completely and lived among them.

What does it mean?

God had two purposes in sending Israel to conquer the land of Canaan. First, God promised this land to Israel as a place in which He would bless them and use them to bless others (Gen. 12:1-3). Second, God was punishing the Canaanites for their wicked behavior (Gen. 15:16). All Israel had to do was trust and obey God. By doing so, they would become the instrument of judgment on the Canaanites and heirs of God’s promise to Abraham. However, Israel’s failure to drive them out would be a problem throughout the era of the Judges. Since the remaining Canaanites continued in their wicked ways, they influenced the Israelites to follow them and serve other gods.

How should I respond?

At some point you’ve probably learned the importance of instructions by purchasing something that said, “Some assembly required.” Every step of instruction has to be followed for the object to perform as designed. Likewise, God gives us purposeful instructions and the ability to follow His commands, just as He did with Israel. Is there anything in your life that God classifies as “wicked”? He will enable you to eradicate it through prayer, Scripture and the encouragement of other believers. No sin in your life is too hard for the Lord to conquer. Allowing sin to linger will only cause trouble.

Day 172 – June 21

Joshua 24

What does it say?

Joshua led the people in a renewal of their covenant with God. Following Joshua’s example, all Israel promised to follow and obey God alone.

What does it mean?

At 110 years of age, Joshua had an impressive résumé. First, his leadership skills were developed under Moses – perhaps the greatest leader the world has ever known. Then, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, conquering nation after nation by God’s power. But Joshua is mainly remembered for one sentence at the end of his life, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The fact that Israel served the Lord under Joshua’s guidance is a testament to his personal commitment to God as well as his leadership. Not satisfied with personal obedience alone, Joshua challenged others to serve and obey the Lord he loved.

How should I respond?

God’s unfailing faithfulness can be seen in the lives of those who trust Him. How has God been faithful to you? Along life’s journey, He uses people to lead you toward spiritual maturity and meaningful service. Who has God used as a spiritual example in your life? Have you made the same commitment to love and serve God? How do your daily choices illustrate the reality of your commitment? Joshua’s life demonstrates how to spend a lifetime honoring the Lord. Each day he chose to love and serve the Lord. Before your feet hit the floor each morning, will you commit to love and serve the Lord? If so, your life will be a testimony to God’s faithfulness.

Day 171 – June 20

Joshua 23

What does it say?

Joshua gave the leaders of Israel final instructions. They were to continue driving out the inhabitants of the land and obey the laws given to them by Moses.

What does it mean?

Like Moses before him, Joshua wanted to make sure the people of Israel continued to follow God after his death. Once again, the Israelites were reminded of God’s past faithfulness and were urged to follow all of His commands. Their obedience and God’s blessing went hand in hand. Joshua laid out a compelling argument: if God had been faithful to keep His “good promises,” then He would also keep His promise to discipline His children for disobedience. God always keeps His word. Joshua linked courage and obedience to watchful, diligent love for the Lord.

How should I respond?

With God’s blessing comes responsibility. God expects those who belong to Him to be different from the unbelieving world around them. Human tendency is to love the things of the world and to be like the world. What motivates you to intentionally obey God? As you experience God’s faithfulness, learn about God in the Bible, and spend time with Him in prayer, your love for Him grows. When you love someone, you want to please that person. The Spirit of God shows you what pleases Him and enables you to obey. In what area do you need courageous obedience to live in a way that acknowledges and honors God? God faithfully keeps His word. He honors those who live to honor Him.

Day 170 – June 19

Joshua 21;43-22:34

What does it say?

God kept His promises, and the Israelites had rest from their enemies. But when the eastern tribes returned home, conflict arose over an altar they built next to the Jordan.

What does it mean?

As soon as the Israelites were no longer at war with the nations of Canaan, an internal conflict arose. The tribes west of the Jordan feared that the eastern tribes had turned their backs on God by building a pagan altar. Knowing the wrath of God would fall on all, the western tribes were determined to stop the other tribes and prepared for war. But rather than attack their brothers with only circumstantial evidence, a delegation went to talk to the eastern tribes. Discussing their individual fears and concerns averted greater conflict. God gave wisdom and gentleness of spirit to preserve unity within the tribes.

How should I respond?

Good intentions can be misunderstood. Even when we as believers are trying to please God, we can have serious differences with one another. How do you respond when you find yourself in conflict with another Christian? Do you judge harshly or go to that person to discuss the issue? Could misunderstanding be part of the problem? Open discussion can lead to reconciliation. Ask God for wisdom about the way to begin the conversation. You may not agree with others on every point, but you can commit to work toward greater understanding. Your conflict can be a place where God reveals His faithfulness.

Day 169 – June 18

Joshua 14

What does it say?

Caleb claimed the land promised to him by God through Moses, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.

What does it mean?

The men of Judah came to receive their portion of land from Joshua. Caleb took the opportunity to remind Joshua of Moses’ promise to him. Forty-five years earlier Caleb came back from spying out the land and reported back to Moses, “We should go up and take possession of the land.” He had no doubt God would give it to them. But because of the disobedience of others, Caleb had to wait 45 years to receive the land of Hebron. Yet he didn’t allow himself to become bitter. How? It is noted three times in this passage that Caleb “followed the Lord … wholeheartedly.” And, at 85 years of age, Caleb was still strong enough to drive out the inhabitants and claim his inheritance.

How should I respond?

Sometimes we suffer consequences when others fail to follow God’s instructions. How have you been the victim of another person’s bad decision? How are you responding? Your attitude will largely depend on where your focus is. Determine right now to “follow the Lord wholeheartedly” while you wait for Him to make the next move. Scripture promises that even in the worst situations, God is still in control and has your best interest at heart (Romans 8:28). But greatest of all is the knowledge that God can be glorified, even through human error!

For further reading: Joshua 15-21:42, Cities allotted to each tribe

Day 168 – June 17

Joshua 13

What does it say?

The Lord told Joshua that there was still land He would deliver into their hands. Joshua was to divide the land up among the nine and a half tribes west of the Jordan River.

What does it mean?

Joshua was about 100 years old by the time the nine and a half tribes finally got their allotted inheritance. God confirmed what Moses had done with the two and a half tribes who didn’t want to cross the Jordan (Numbers 32). Although the Levites received no tract of land as an inheritance, there would be cities set aside for them throughout Israel. The Levites served in the Tabernacle and were allowed to eat portions of sacred offerings. Their position required trusting God to meet their every need. The Lord, Himself, was their portion and inheritance.

How should I respond?

It’s much easier to put our security in things we can see and touch rather than in the unseen. However, not many things in this life stand the test of time. To what are you looking to satisfy your needs: physical things that will pass away or the Lord Himself? Romans 8:17 says that if we are children of God, then we are also “joint heirs with Christ” – giving us the greatest inheritance possible, the Lord Himself. Every earthly inheritance and retirement account will eventually be gone. But we can say with the Psalmist, “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

Day 167 – June 16

Joshua 10:1-15

What does it say?

Joshua and the Israelites came to the aid of Gibeon when five area cities joined forces against them. Joshua called on God for help, and He responded miraculously.

What does it mean?

God encouraged Joshua and promised victory over the five cities that joined forces against Gibeon. God caused confusion among the opposing armies, sent hailstones against the enemy soldiers, and responded to Joshua’s request for the sun and moon to stand still, giving them more daylight to finish the task. Although Israel was outnumbered, they fought hard, trusting God to intervene on their behalf. Joshua moved forward in unswerving faith, believing God and depending on Him for victory. He knew that God could do anything to make it happen – and He did.

How do I respond?

How often do you think, “I can’t ask God to do that for me”? You may not need the sun to stop in the sky, but the same omnipotent God can still intervene on your behalf. What impossible situation are you facing? Is your faith as big as your God? Boldly ask Him for what you need, and expect God to intervene on His timetable and in the way He deems best. Keep praying, placing your faith in the character of God rather than the outcome you desire. God can do anything when His followers display unswerving faith.

For further reading: Joshua 10:16-12:24, Defeat of Canaanite tribes

Day 166 – June 15

Joshua 9

What does it say?

The Gibeonites deceived Joshua into making a peace treaty so they wouldn’t suffer the same fate as cities already conquered by Israel.

What does it mean?

To save their city, the people of Gibeon used an elaborate ruse to trick Joshua. God’s instructions permitted Israel to make an offer of peace with distant cities, but demanded annihilation of the seven neighboring Canaanite nations. Joshua tried to discern the truth but neglected to ask the Lord’s instructions. Without prayer, he lacked the wisdom to spot the enemy standing right in front of him. When the truth came out, Joshua had no choice but to honor the treaty. The Gibeonites were allowed to live as servants “for the house of God,” where they learned firsthand about the powerful God of Israel. God graciously turned their judgment into a chance to have a relationship with Him.

How should I respond?

“The men of Israel…did not seek the Lord’s counsel” (vs. 14). How often has that been true in your circumstances? You likely regret the outcome of a decision made without prayer. We usually recognize the obvious enemies of our faith. But without prayer we lack the wisdom to detect the more subtle lies Satan uses to interfere with our spiritual progress. Praise God for His grace! He is able to turn our failures around for His glory – even though He may allow us to live with the consequences of moving ahead without Him. Seek the Lord’s counsel; ask for wisdom about each decision you face throughout the day.

Day 165 – June 14

Joshua 8

What does it say?

God’s favor towards Israel was restored, and a plan to conquer Ai was pursued. Victory was given, and Joshua encouraged them to renew their covenant vows to the Lord.

What does it mean?

God reminded Joshua that He had not given up on him or the people. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Joshua had heard those words at least three other times. What better way to go into battle than with God’s reassurance echoing in his mind and heart? God gave them the battle plan, promised a victory, and rewarded them with the spoils. Joshua built an altar and made sacrifices to the Lord. He then copied the law onto stones and read the whole law to the entire assembly as the Lord had commanded (Deuteronomy 11:29). Since the Israelites didn’t have the written Word, corporate reading was the only way to hear it.

How should I respond?

How many times do we have to hear or read something before it affects the way we live? Like Joshua, we sometimes need to be reassured before a major undertaking. At other times we need to be reminded of God’s instructions or commands. James 1:22-25 tells us to be doers of the word and not hearers only. In order for head knowledge to cause a change in lifestyle, you have to put into practice what you hear on Sunday morning and what you read in your daily devotions. What has God said to you this week as you’ve read His Word? How can you act on it today?