Day 292- October 19

2 Kings 18

What does it say?

Hezekiah became king and maintained faith in the Lord even when the Assyrians attempted an invasion.

What does it mean?

Hezekiah is one of only three kings mentioned who “did right as David had done.” He destroyed idols and removed the altars at the high places. He was also a wise king with no desire to engage in battle with the Assyrians, who had successfully conquered other nations. The Assyrian messengers not only demanded that Hezekiah surrender, but they also tried to discredit the Lord by comparing Him to the gods of other nations that they had conquered. The messengers’ strategy was to cause Israel to doubt their God and their king, allowing the Assyrians to conquer a panicked city. But Hezekiah stood firm, commanding the people not to respond to anything the messengers said.

How should I respond?

Satan has always sought to cause doubt about who God is. Unfortunately, this strategy is still effective today, even among believers. He utilizes blasphemous and deceitful words in an attempt to weaken our faith. Staying connected to God’s Word is essential to discern truth from error. As tempting as it is to set a naysayer straight, the best approach might be to say nothing at all. Heated debates over religion are seldom productive. Ask God to show you when to speak up and when to show restraint. How will you prepare yourself to stand firm and not be swayed by deceitful words?

Day 291- October 18

2 Kings 17

What does it say?

Assyria took the people of Israel into captivity after Hoshea refused to pay the tribute to Shalmaneser and sought to engage in a treaty with Egypt against Syria.

What does it mean?

The Israelites continued to worship the gods of other nations, a sin that ultimately brought about captivity at the hands of the Assyrians. The people of Israel did not uphold their oath to serve God alone. He had clearly laid out His expectations for His people and the consequences for disobeying those commands. The Lord will not share worship of Him with anything or anyone else. Their history proved that when they obeyed and served the Lord, they were a mighty nation, reflecting the awesome power of their God. But because the idols they embraced were worthless – their worship became worthless.

How should I respond?

God takes sin seriously – not just because it pulls us away from serving and worshiping Him but because of the effect it has on our worth as His creation. Your life and character will reflect whatever you value the most. What other things have you set up as a “god” in your life? Perhaps you value and serve money, fame, or the admiration of peers. Excessive devotion to anything that is temporal will ultimately lead to some form of captivity. Greed, bitterness, frustration, and other negative attitudes rob us of the freedom we have in Christ. God alone is worthy of our devotion, service, and worship.

Day 290- October 17

2 Kings 16

What does it say?

King Ahaz drew the people of Judah farther away from God. He ultimately desecrated the temple of God in order to appease the king of Assyria.

What does it mean?

King Ahaz had an opportunity to engage in battle against the Assyrians. Instead he chose to subjugate himself and the people of Judah to the Assyrians in exchange for peace. Ahaz went so far as to replace the altar of the Lord with one similar to those used by the Assyrians for the worship of their gods. Rather than leading the people to be on their guard against pagan practices, Ahaz opened the temple doors to idol worship. Peace came at the cost of great compromise – altering their worship of the Lord in order to look more like the people around them.

How should I respond?

Have you tried to make peace with a sinful practice in your life? How might you have compromised God’s standards in order to fit in more with people at work, at school, or in your community? You may have justified your wrong behavior, feeling safe from its detrimental effects. However, sin is our enemy and must be fought through God’s Word in the power of His Spirit. Just as with Ahaz, the very sin you are nurturing will become the weight that pulls you away from God. God’s principles are not optional – success or failure is directly connected with how you follow them. Resolve today to yield to God’s Spirit and do battle with each sinful thought, attitude, and behavior.

Day 289- October 16

2 Kings 14:1-20

What does it say?

King Amaziah came to the throne of Judah. He obeyed the Lord in some things, while rejecting God’s commands in others. He also engaged in war with Edom and Israel.

What does it mean?

Although Amaziah obeyed God in certain areas, he did not fully commit himself or the nation to the pursuit of faithfulness to God. As king of Judah, Amaziah had an opportunity to call the people back to obedience. Instead, Amaziah let pride move him into an unwise war with Israel. His loss in battle led to the loss of his throne and robbed him of the opportunity to bring Judah back to a right relationship with God. Amaziah’s personal failure to whole-heartedly obey the Lord affected every aspect of his rule.

How should I respond?

Partial obedience is usually the result of pride – we think we have a better way than God. We may be tempted to let victories over smaller things puff us up with pride. In essence, our actions say to God, “I’ve got this; I don’t need help.” Are there areas of your life you have taken control of? How might that control be connected to pride or partial obedience? Humbly seeking God’s wisdom and allowing Him to reshape your thinking through His Word will open the door for His blessing. Will you fully commit yourself to the Lord and allow Him to guide your decisions?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 14:21-15:38

Day 288- October 15

2 Kings 13

What does it say?

As kings of Israel, both Jehoahaz and his son Jehoash disobeyed God. During the reign of Jehoash, the Lord was gracious and gave victory over the Syrians.

What does it mean?

King Jehoash was another king who failed to lead God’s people to trust and obey Him. He did not take God’s Word seriously, but embraced false gods and a false spirituality. Through Elisha, God revealed future victory over the Syrian oppression. The amazing “life-giving” miracle after Elisha’s death should have been a confirming sign of Israel’s all-powerful, living God who loved His people and wanted the best for them. God’s Word was fulfilled as promised – King Jehoash defeated Syria three times. Though Jehoash remained unfaithful to God, God remained faithful to His covenant and His people.

How should I respond?

Like Jehoash, many in our society have a pseudo-spirituality – a “cover-your-bases-just-in-case” or a “hope-so” faith. But genuine faith comes through hearing and believing God’s life-giving truth, trusting Jesus Christ, and receiving the gift of eternal life through Him. There is no other way. Have you trusted in His sacrifice for you and received Him as your Savior? If so, your priority should be getting to know Him better through the Scriptures and encouraging others to come to Him. How will you boldly share God’s life-giving words to friends or family members who are spiritually dead and have no hope?

Day 287- October 14

2 Kings 12

What does it say?

Joash followed God’s Law while Jehoiada was alive and instituted a plan for the repair of the temple. Fearful of attack, he sent sacred temple items to bribe the Syrian king.

What does it mean?

Joash was faithful to God and prospered during the years that he was influenced and guided by Jehoida the High Priest. He successfully accomplished the repair of the temple and the restoration of the worship of God. However, after Jehoiada’s death, ungodly leaders induced Joash to abandon God and worship idols (2 Chron. 24). Instead of turning to God for deliverance when threatened by the Syrian king, Joash panicked and sent sacred objects from the temple as a bribe. God’s Word and His purposes for Joash had never become a vital part of the fiber of his life.

How should I respond?

God’s Word needs to be deeply rooted in the believer’s heart and life in order to avoid corrupt influences. Like Joash, many young people walk the line set out for them by their parents or godly leaders while they are under their influence. But at some point in life, believers must take ownership of how they’re going to live their lives. How are you taking responsibility for your personal relationship with Christ? Do you follow God’s Word because your minister or parents say it’s right? Or have you come to the point that you can say with conviction: “I am doing this because God says it is right and good … His Word is my standard for living.”

Day 286- October 13

2 Kings 11

What does it say?

After King Ahaziah’s death, Athaliah, his mother, took over the throne of Judah, eliminating all the royal family except for Joash who was hidden for six years.

What does it mean?

All hope for God’s covenant promise to David seemed to be lost. Athaliah had seized control of Judah by attempting to execute all the heirs to the throne. However, God spared King Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, the legitimate heir. Through Jehosheba and her husband, the High Priest Jehoiada, God provided Joash protection and godly counsel. On the day that Joash was anointed and crowned king, Jehoiada gave him a copy of the Mosaic Covenant. Because of his faithfulness to God, Jehoiada was able to influence a king and inspire a revival in the nation. Hope was restored, the people rejoiced, and “the city was quiet” and at peace because the nation had returned to God.

How should I respond?

When a nation returns to God, He returns to them. How are you, like Jehoiada, influencing and training the next generation to honor and obey the Lord? God has given believers a New Covenant, based on trust in what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. How well do you know His promises as well as your responsibilities as a follower of Christ? Busy lives often cause us to drift away from our “first love” (Rev. 2:4). The Lord promises that if you return to Him, He will return to you. What part of your day will you set aside to study His Word and renew your commitment to Him?

Day 285- October 12

2 Kings 10

What does it say?

Jehu fulfilled Elijah’s prophecy regarding the destruction of Ahab’s descendants. He then destroyed Baal worship in Israel but didn’t follow the Lord with all of his heart.

What does it mean?

God used Jehu to judge the prophets of Baal, but his actions viciously exceeded His orders. Rather than stop at what the prophet of the Lord had commanded him to do, Jehu slaughtered anyone from the house of Ahab or Ahaziah who could possibly threaten his reign (Hosea 1:4). His zeal for the Lord became personal ambition. He also failed to remove the final obstacles between Israel and proper worship of the Lord – the golden calves in Dan and Bethel. Jehu was rewarded for his obedience but failed to receive God’s full blessing because he offered only part of himself to the Lord.

How should I respond?

We sometimes get our own ideas regarding how to serve the Lord. Like Jehu, we may start out doing as God has told us to do, but somehow we get caught up in a desire for recognition. Seeking to gain status in ministry leads us off the path God intended. The key to staying on track is to commit your whole heart to obeying God’s commands. Start by eliminating known sin from your life. In what areas are you stopping short of complete obedience? How are you exceeding His directions, based on your own desires? Partial obedience is still disobedience and will not result in God’s full blessing.

Day 284- October 11

2 Kings 9

What does it say?

Jehu was anointed king of Israel and told by the prophet to destroy the house of Ahab, including Jezebel. Prophecies were fulfilled regarding justice for the murder of Naboth.

What does it mean?

God had mercifully delayed judgment on Ahab’s family when he humbled himself before the Lord regarding compliance to Naboth’s murder at the hands of Jezebel. Instead, the disaster Elijah prophesied would fall on Ahab’s son, Joram (1 Kings 21). This may seem unfair on the surface. However, woven into the account of their lives was the opportunity for Joram and Jezebel to make the same choice Ahab did – humble contrition. As king, Joram chose to follow his mother’s evil practices. God’s 20-year delay of justice was also an opportunity for repentance. God’s justice and mercy are perfectly balanced.

How should I respond?

As human beings, we are extremely shortsighted when it comes to the big picture. We are so close to the immediate events of our lives and culture that we can’t fathom what God is doing. We’re usually grateful for His mercy on our own lives but question why the Lord would delay justice on someone else’s sin. What we fail to comprehend is that God extends opportunities for repentance to even the worst of humanity. His justice and mercy are two sides of the same coin. How has God shown you mercy? For whom do you need to pray humble repentance rather than wish God’s swift judgment?

Day 283- October 10

2 Kings 8:1-15

What does it say?

The Shunammite woman’s land was returned to her after a seven-year famine. Hazael murdered Ben-hadad and became king.

What does it mean?

Interaction with Elisha affected the lives of two people. The Shunammite woman had displayed trust in God by showing kindness and hospitality to Elisha. Later, Elisha protected her household by sending them away during the famine. Ordinarily, she would have lost her land and livelihood. However, her appeal to the king resulted in the restoration of all she had lost. Hazael, on the other hand, chose murder after Elisha prophesied his evil rule over Israel. Even though Hazael swore he could not do the monstrous things prophesied, his immediate actions proved otherwise.

How should I respond?

The choices you make will determine your life’s path. Just as Elisha was like a high-intensity light shining on the paths of people he came across, the Word of God is a light that reveals whether your path is pleasing to God. Take an honest look at the decisions you’ve made this week. What do they reveal about your motives or your faith? Allow Scripture to illuminate the remote crevices of your heart. Then confess any sin God’s Word reveals. What choices will you make this week to stay on course by trusting and obeying His Word?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 8:16-29

Day 282- October 9

2 Kings 7:3-20

What does it say?

Samaria suffered a severe famine while under siege by the Aramean army. The army fled when the Lord caused them to hear the sound of horses and chariots.

What does it mean?

The lack of basic human needs caused the people in Samaria to react differently to feelings of despair. Abandoning all logical thinking, two mothers conspired in desperation. Four lepers gave up hope and chose the only course of action left for their survival. Blaming God, King Joram sought to take control rather than wait for God’s promised deliverance. The king’s officer refused to believe that God was able to turn economic famine into an economic feast as Elisha prophesied. God was more than able to do as He had promised.

How should I respond?

Trusting God is much easier when times are good than when we’re faced with overwhelming difficulty. Our lack of faith is often revealed when life is full of questions, and God is not giving immediate answers. What has been your response to God in moments of despair? Did you persevere in faith, or did you simply give up hope? Take a moment to reflect on God’s promises and character revealed in Scripture. As you grasp the reality of who He is, you will learn to persevere, trusting Him to provide exactly what you need … at just the right time.

Day 281- October 8

2 Kings 6:1-23

What does it say?

Elisha caused an ax head to float. To reassure his servant, Elisha prayed that God would reveal the protecting presence of His spiritual army.

What does it mean?

Aram’s army was powerful, but their king didn’t understand that from God’s point of view, they were already defeated. Elisha knew he was not alone; yet for the benefit of his servant, God openly displayed the armies of the Lord. God’s overwhelming presence on the scene didn’t increase; it was simply revealed for the servant’s peace of mind. Through the miraculous events of this passage, it became obvious to the king of Aram that he was no match for Israel’s God.

How should I respond?

Trusting Jesus by faith places you into a unique relationship. You are never alone. You are continually protected by the power and victorious providence of God. This does not mean that bad things will never happen to you. But it does mean that God is with you in every situation, supplying the grace you need. Take a moment to reflect on your current circumstances. How has God already revealed His presence by working on your behalf? How does knowing that you’re not alone give you peace of mind to face this challenge?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 6:24-7:2

Day 280- October 7

2 Kings 5

What does it say?

Naaman heard that Elisha could heal him from leprosy. When Naaman listened to his servants and followed Elisha’s instructions to wash in the Jordan River, he was healed.

What does it mean?

Naaman was a proud man. But none of his accomplishments as the commander of Syria’s army could heal leprosy. It was providential that a servant girl told Naaman about a prophet in Israel who could heal him. Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house to be healed – on his own terms. Again, it was servants who convinced him to follow Elisha’s godly counsel. Naaman came to Israel with his entourage expecting a great work of healing worthy of a triumphant return to Syria. Instead, the road to healing required servant-like humility.

How should I respond?

Like Naaman, pride in our position and accomplishments can cause us to think that we should get special treatment. That type of attitude starts when we begin to view ourselves based solely on our accomplishments rather than through God’s eyes. When pride takes root in your heart, questioning God’s instructions is usually not far behind. How often are you ready to attempt some great feat for God but react to a menial request as if it’s beneath you? God’s road to success seldom takes us through ticker tape parades. What simple action has He placed before you today?

Day 279- October 6

2 Kings 4:1-37

What does it say?

Two mothers appealed to Elisha for help. One mother received daily provision, and the other received her son back from the dead.

What does it mean?

God used Elisha to meet the needs of two women when despair threatened to overwhelm them. The widow, in fear of losing her sons to slavery, sought Elisha’s wisdom and faithfully followed his instructions. God provided for her needs as she acted in faith by gathering the jars that were miraculously filled. The Shunammite woman, on the other hand, was financially well-off. But like the widow, she was faithful to God. Even while grieving for her son, she believed God could help through Elisha. God chose to reward her faith by raising her son from the dead. God helped both mothers with their immediate needs, and their children saw the power and goodness of God.

How should I respond?

When crisis comes, where do you turn? God does not fulfill our every request, but we can always trust His heart. He sees clearer, further, and more purely than you ever can. As you trust Him, the Lord may miraculously heal and provide, or He may simply give perfect peace throughout the ordeal. Either way, you can trust Him to listen and help when darkness seems to envelop you. Through each circumstance – the small and the great – the Lord is working in you to make you more like His Son, the Lord Jesus.

Further Reading: 2 Kings 4:38-44

Day 278- October 5

2 Kings 3

What does it say?

Joram formed an alliance with two other kings to squelch the Moabite rebellion. When the armies ran out of water, Jehoshaphat asked for a prophet of the Lord.

What does it mean?

Joram, king of Israel, neglected the wise practice of seeking counsel from a godly prophet before he entered into conflict. As a result, the coalition almost failed until the kings sought out the prophet Elisha. Only the presence of the godly Judean King Jehoshaphat allowed Elisha to reveal a miraculous plan to destroy the rebellious Moabites and save them from Joram’s failure as a spiritual leader. Outwardly, he had made a show of godliness by putting away the pillar of Baal. But Elisha was aware of Joram’s evil character and pagan religious practices.

How should I respond?

Every day some new decision is placed before you. Do you seek God’s guidance from the start, or do you act first and wait until there’s trouble before calling on the Lord? Understanding how to make choices in light of God’s will can be a struggle, but it’s less of a mystery than many believe. Start with prayer. Ask God to help you recognize the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then, choose to be thankful in all things because a negative attitude will skew your thinking. The final thing – and the hardest for most – is to submit humbly to the authorities God has placed over you. God’s will isn’t a mystery to be solved, but the result of prayerful obedience.

Day 277- October 4

2 Kings 2

What does it say?

Elijah’s ministry as the Lord’s prophet was coming to an end. Elisha, his protégé, was preparing to take his place. Elijah was taken to Heaven, and Elisha began his ministry.

What does it mean?

The revelation that Elijah was leaving gave Elisha the determination to stay by his side. Elisha’s responses to being left behind show the relationship that he had with his spiritual mentor as well as his understanding of what God was calling him to do. By requesting a double portion, Elisha was asking to be treated as a first-born son, heir to Elijah’s ministry as the prophet of the Lord. He wanted to make sure that he was fully equipped to do all that God had called him to do.

How should I respond?

How passionate are you about the things of God? Do you strive to be prepared to serve? Being prepared means understanding what it is that God has called you to do. If you haven’t already done so, take a spiritual gift test to determine exactly how the Holy Spirit has equipped you to operate within your local church. Also, examine your talents, abilities, and present circumstances. How do they factor into your service for the Lord? Consider contacting your church office regarding ministry training that will better prepare you to serve. Allow your passion for the Lord to drive you to action.

Day 276- October 3

2 Kings 1

What does it say?

When King Ahaziah was severely injured, he sent his servants to ask the Philistine god if he would recover. Elijah pronounced God’s judgment: Ahaziah would die.

What does it mean?

The account of King Ahaziah demonstrates the foolishness of defying God. He insulted the true God of Israel by inquiring of a false god. When Elijah pronounced judgment on the king, it should have caused him to repent. Instead, Ahaziah sent soldiers to arrest Elijah. The first two captains and their men approached the man of God with arrogance and disrespect. Their choice to obey the king rather than the Lord ended in their deaths. However, the last captain humbly acknowledged the Lord’s power and was spared. Ahaziah’s arrogant defiance cost him his life.

How should I respond?

Defying God will never put us in a winning position. Our mindset and behavior should be corrected anytime we find ourselves in opposition to God’s commands. Pride is the root cause of defiance; it can creep in when we least expect it. What is your present attitude toward God’s will in your life? When was the last time you humbly approached God and simply praised Him for who He is? God shows favor to those who are humble, but He resists the proud. Check your heart: are you giving God the respect and obedience He deserves?

Day 275- October 2

1 Kings 22:1-40

What does it say?

Ahab and Jehoshaphat sent for the prophet Micaiah after 400 prophets claimed victory in an attack against Ramoth Gilead. Micaiah then prophesied Ahab’s death in battle.

What does it mean?

Ahab, Jehoshaphat, and Micaiah had different approaches to the situation before them.
Ahab’s previous humility was replaced with arrogant avoidance of God’s prophet and His Word. The environment he created was designed solely to please himself, regardless of reality. Jehoshaphat, Judah’s godly king, entered a political alliance that resulted in peace but at the cost of spiritual compromise (2 Chronicles 21:1-6). He was discerning enough to realize the 400 prophets weren’t speaking the truth, but he stopped short of going home when impending disaster was prophesied against his alliance. Micaiah, however, was determined to speak the truth and do the right thing, even though he was the only one.

How should I respond?

Crisis situations and major life decisions tend to unveil our character. They act as a mirror, reflecting the good while simultaneously showing us what needs correction. This passage reveals three different crisis responses: rejecting truth, spiritual compromise, and unwavering conviction. Which example best describes how you handled the last major event in your life? Hiding from reality and compromising our beliefs breed disaster eventually, if not immediately. Are you prepared to take a stand for truth, even if it means standing alone? What part of your character reflection needs correction?

Further Reading: 1 Kings 22:41-53

Day 274- October 1

1 Kings 21

What does it say?

Naboth was murdered for refusing to sell his vineyard to Ahab. But God spared Ahab’s life when he responded with mourning and fasting to Elijah’s prophecy of judgment.

What does it mean?

Although Ahab’s childish response to Naboth’s refusal wasn’t fitting for a king, Jezebel’s solution was inconceivable. She manipulated Israel’s law to commit murder and forcibly take what Ahab wanted. Both the king and queen were totally without conscience. Ahab made himself an enemy of God by continually following his wife’s wicked advice rather than listening to the prophet of the Lord. There had never been anyone as evil and vile as Ahab. But Elijah’s prophecy jolted Ahab to the core and triggered sincere repentance. God saw the change in Ahab’s heart and responded with mercy.

How should I respond?

Violence and deceit have escalated to unimaginable heights. People steal what they want and often kill without remorse. Are those people more deserving of hell than others? Two thoughts emerge from today’s passage: no one is beyond hope with the Lord, and God’s mercy and grace extend to even the most vile. How do you react when a violent criminal claims to have found God in prison? Do you marvel at God’s grace, or are you agitated by the seeming injustice? Remember – if Christ’s death couldn’t pay for the most reprehensible act, then neither could it cover our sins. The next time you see a notorious criminal on the news, stop and pray. Reality may jolt them into repentance.

Day 273- September 30

1 Kings 19

What does it say?

Afraid for his life, Elijah ran into the desert to die but was cared for by an angel of the Lord. God reassured Elijah that he was not alone and called Elisha as his successor.

What does it mean?

Elijah went from boldly victorious atop Mt. Carmel to fearful and discouraged on Mt. Horeb. Years of physical and spiritual battles had taken a toll on his energy and emotions. Fear overshadowed what he knew to be true about the Lord. Elijah was so discouraged that he couldn’t see the reality of what God had accomplished through his faithful service. After meeting his physical needs and allowing him to rest, God gently reminded Elijah that he was not alone. Every response to Elijah’s discouragement reminded him that the Lord was still the same Almighty God he had always served.

How should I respond?

Discouragement can be overwhelming, causing us to focus on the darker side of circumstances rather than appreciating what the Lord has already done. It’s not even unusual to face an emotional letdown after a significant spiritual victory or occupational success. So how can you guard against becoming discouraged? First, learn to recognize when you’re vulnerable, needing physical and mental rest. Then allow what you learn about God’s character through Scripture to squelch any fear you feel. Finally, ask God who might be able to help in your current situation. Remember, even though you may feel isolated, you are never alone as a follower of Christ.

Further Reading: 1 Kings 20

Day 272- September 29

1 Kings 18

What does it say?

When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal, the Lord sent fire to consume the entire altar. All of Israel worshipped the Lord, and heavy rain ended the drought.

What does it mean?

The showdown atop Mount Carmel was intended to force the people of Israel to choose between following Baal and worshipping the Lord. His challenge was initially met with silence. As the lone prophet of the Lord, Elijah faced 450 prophets of Baal with unwavering confidence; false gods were just that – false. The Lord answered Elijah’s prayer with such finality that there was no doubt regarding His identity, “the Lord is God!” The people of Israel could be silent no longer. Appropriately, they fell to the ground and worshipped Him as Lord.

How should I respond?

By definition, a follower of Christ can’t sit on the fence regarding daily obedience to the Lord. But many Christians have become so accustomed to enjoying all the world has to offer that they are no longer following Jesus. As you think back on this week, what pulled your attention or affection away from the Lord? What activity or television show took you in a direction away from following Christ? We are guilty of sitting on the fence if we claim Jesus as our Savior, yet follow things that oppose His teachings and offer false hope. How will you respond to Elijah’s challenge? “If the Lord is God, follow Him!” Will you sit on the fence, or worship the Lord with your words and life?

Day 271- September 28

1 Kings 17

What does it say?

During a regional famine, God provided for Elijah by a brook in Eastern Israel and later through a widow in Northern Israel, for whom miracles were performed.

What does it mean?

When the kings and people of Israel rejected their God, He withheld rain and even dew from their land. Not only would their crops fail to grow, but their livestock would starve to death, and the predatory animals from the desert would seek food among the populated cities. Elijah made it clear that the famine was not because God was weak or unable to provide for His people. It was because God’s people rejected Him. To demonstrate His power, however, God performed miracles that enabled a widow who was providing for Elijah to have a constant source of food and even raised her son from the dead!

How should I respond?

When circumstances change for the worse, it’s normal to wonder why God is allowing it to happen. We ask questions such as, “What did I do to deserve this?” or “Why won’t God stop this?” The trials we face can be the result of our own actions, the actions of others, or just random circumstances. Whatever the cause, our all-powerful God is not weak or unaware of our suffering. Occasional seasons of suffering can be reminders of what is most important. Take a few minutes now to pray. Ask God to reveal and forgive you of personal sins. Then, talk to Him about the sins of your country. What opportunity will you have today to point those in your community to the Lord and what He is doing?

Day 270- September 27

1 Kings 15-16

What does it say?

The reigns of several kings of both Israel and Judah are summed up according to the good or bad they did in the Lord’s eyes.

What does it mean?

The passage we read today reports that God Himself chose each of these kings. When they honored God (as in the case of King Asa), God honored them and blessed them with long and fruitful reigns. God was displeased when they dishonored Him, especially when they fought with each other and promoted the worship of false gods. Accordingly, their historical record depicts them as useless and unsuccessful during those times. God intended Israel to be a peaceful nation, fully loving Him and one another. However, their actions often turned into sibling rivalry with God’s people turning away from their God.

How should I respond?

Everything rises or falls with leadership. Nations, communities, businesses, and families either thrive under a strong leader or suffer when an ineffectual leader is in charge. Followers of Christ in positions of leadership have a responsibility to honor the Lord with their decisions as well as the example they set. In what places do your actions influence others? How can you promote unity or encourage people around you to look to the Lord for strength and direction? The decisions you make this week may have a profound spiritual effect on your circle of influence. How do you want to be remembered?

Day 269- September 26

1 Kings 14

What does it say?

As Israel split into Northern and Southern Kingdoms, the kings and the people behaved wickedly, making idols and false gods in their own special places of worship.

What does it mean?

The religious climate had changed dramatically since the days of David! While David had devoted his heart and actions to worshiping God fully, King Jeroboam of the northern tribes and King Rehoboam of the southern tribes substituted idols and a false goddess for the one true, living God. This chapter reports that Israelites were making Asherah poles as objects of false worship. Asherah was said to be the mother goddess over Baal and a fertility goddess of the Canaanites. Some even said she was mother to Israel’s God! It was detestable to the one true, living God that His own people would worship idols and false goddesses.

How should I respond?

We live in a world in which polytheism (worshiping multiple gods) and pluralism (adopting multiple religions) is popular. However, the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God (Deut 6:4-5) and one true religion that is pleasing to God (Eph 4:4-6). As you work your way through 1 and 2 Kings, make a list of the good and bad kings of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. What did they do that caused God to see them as worthy or unworthy to be kings? Ask yourself: “Is there anything in my life that has a higher priority than my relationship with God?” What action will you take to put and keep God first in your life?

Day 268- September 25

1 Kings 13

What does it say?

God’s prophet warned Jeroboam of coming judgment. On his route home, the prophet heeded the words of a deceitful prophet and disobeyed God’s instructions.

What does it mean?

As the decline of Israel continued, flagrant disregard for God’s laws seemed to accelerate. As He so often did, God raised up a voice to communicate His Words to His people. The man of God prophesied future destruction and reminded the people of a timeless principle: God does not tolerate disobedience from anyone, even kings and prophets. The death of the unnamed man of God demonstrates the serious nature of God’s expectation for His children: complete obedience. Even though he was deceived by the old prophet who claimed to have heard from an angel, the younger prophet was without excuse because he had received a direct word from the Lord.

How should I respond?

God’s expectation of complete obedience from His children remains the same today. Like the younger prophet, we also are without excuse because we have the unchanging, written Word of God. The path to obedience begins with the responsibility to read and understand God’s Word. How much time do you dedicate to studying Scripture in order to know the Lord’s commands? Is it a focused, daily exercise or something you do only as time allows? God has graciously communicated His Word to you. Take time to discover what it says and obediently put His instructions into practice.

Day 267- September 24

1 Kings 12

What does it say?

Israel’s new rulers followed their own selfish motives. The kingdom was divided and fell further away from God.

What does it mean?

Its new leaders ravaged the nation of Israel soon after the death of Solomon. Rehoboam’s pride and arrogance lead to the dividing of the kingdom. Jeroboam’s fear and need for acceptance forced him to embrace and promote idolatry. The once great nation, a symbol of God’s blessing, was now being lead astray by rulers who had no thought of Him. And, as sin became more prevalent, the divided nation began to learn a very hard lesson: leadership motivated by selfishness leads only to destruction.

How should I respond?

Leadership at any level can be difficult. Even so, success is possible when we make God our focus rather than ourselves. Just like Rehoboam and Jeroboam, we often fail to realize that we’re incapable of leading the way God wants us to when we replace following Him with pursuing selfish desires and motives. How much time do you spend asking God for His wisdom and guidance in your leadership? Make a list of the places God has called you to lead. Then ask Him to help you see your true motivations. Leadership motivated by following God will always honor Him.

Day 266- September 23

1 Kings 11:13-43

What does it say?

With the heart of the king and the nation turned away from God, judgment on Israel began to fall.

What does it mean?

God’s pronouncement of judgment on Solomon meant not only the end of his reign, but also the end of Israel’s golden age of financial prosperity. The interesting aspect of Israel’s demise was God’s part in raising up the adversaries. Why did He do this? Because Solomon and the people had forsaken Him. God was not concerned with the wealth or prestige of the nation; He wanted the hearts of His people to be devoted to Him. Consequently, the destruction of the nation began, and even their “wise” king was powerless to stop it.

How should I respond?

Many of us have asked the question, “What does God want from me?” Though the details of the answer are specific for each person, much of its foundation is found in one simple principle: God wants the hearts of His people to be totally devoted to Him. That can be accomplished only through learning and obeying His commands. Are you following God based on the dedicated study of Scripture? Or, are you living according to what seems to make sense in your own eyes? Determine to start each day in God’s Word and develop the kind of heart your Lord desires – one that’s totally and completely devoted to Him.

Day 265- September 22

1 Kings 11:1-13

What does it say?

Solomon ignored God’s commands regarding marriage and idolatry. When God pronounced judgment, Solomon learned his kingdom would be taken away.

What does it mean?

Solomon was known throughout the ancient world for his unparalleled wisdom. Yet, with all of his wisdom, Solomon foolishly chose to ignore God’s simple, clear commands. Whether from self-indulgence or the belief that he was above the law, Solomon followed the lure of idolatry and gave his heart to something other than God. It started with one act of disobedience – marrying women who served other gods. As the Lord’s wrath was kindled and judgment rendered, it was clear that Solomon, God’s appointed leader, had drifted away and no longer had an obedient, fully committed heart to the one true God.

How should I respond?

A feeling of distance in our relationship with Christ usually starts with one act of disobedience. Something that seems to be only a small compromise can eventually lead to actions and behaviors that take your focus far from God. Take a moment to ask yourself, “What is trying to turn my heart away from the Lord? Where am I acting in direct disobedience to God’s clear instructions?” Ask God to reveal which habit, activity, or relationship is negatively affecting your walk with Christ. God desires the same thing from you that He did from Solomon: a heart that is fully and totally committed to Him.

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.