September 30, 2020

,

Read – 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 experience 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.|For further reading, 1 Kings 20

October 1, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 106

What does it say?
The people of Israel forgot God’s works, worshipped idols, despised the Promised Land, murmured in their tents, and sacrificed their children, but God was faithful.

What does it mean?
The unfaithfulness of Israel described in Psalm 106 stands in sharp contrast to the faithfulness of God illustrated in Psalm 105. They forgot, but God remembered! The Scottish preacher George Morrison wrote, “The Lord took Israel out of Egypt in one night, but it took Him forty years to take Egypt out of Israel.” God’s people fell prey to the godless culture around them rather than leading godly lives that honor their holy Lord. Phinehas is the only ray of light in this dark account – he believed God, intervened, and was counted as righteous. Although Israel did not trust and obey God, He remained faithful to His eternal covenant and delivered them when they cried out to Him.

How should I respond?
What actions and attitudes depicted in this psalm describe your life – envy, grumbling, disobedience, rebellion? We can learn from the mistakes of the Israelites so that we won’t fall prey to the godless culture around us. As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul lists the sins of his forefathers as a warning not to fall into the same pattern of sin (1 Cor. 10:1-13). How has God been good to you this week, despite your sinful thoughts or attitudes? His faithfulness should inspire gratitude and humble submission to His will. How can your life be an example so that others are encouraged to trust and obey God?

September 29, 2020

,

Read – 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 worshiped 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 worshiping the Lord. Elijah’s 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 worshiped 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?

September 30, 2022

,

Read – 1 Timothy 6

What does it say?
Paul reminded Timothy that the goals and expectations of a believer should be spiritual, not material.

What does it mean?
This passage is rich with insight on the subject of contentment. Contentment comes from God, not money or things. God is eternal, and material things are only temporary. Paul warned that a strong desire to get rich is a trap that can ruin a life rather than improve it. Loving money is not only foolish; it leads to sin and destruction. Paul urged Timothy to guard himself from these desires, pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness instead. God provides everything a believer has or needs.

How should I respond?
Discontentment begins when you confuse your needs with your wants. Are you content with what God has provided for you and your family? Contentment is simply being satisfied with who you are and what you have. It’s characterized by inner peace, regardless of outward circumstances. Which warnings from this passage is God using to get your attention? What financial goals and expectations do you need to change in order to pursue the things of God more than wealth? Lasting satisfaction can only come from a relationship with Christ; money will never love you back!

September 28, 2020

,

Read – 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?

September 29, 2022

,

Read – 1 Timothy 5

What does it say?
Paul gave advice concerning older and younger men, older and younger women, widows, and church elders.

What does it mean?
Becoming a follower of Christ increases family and social responsibility. Believers have a God-given responsibility to provide for their children’s needs while also making sure that elderly members of a family are properly cared for as they face the challenges of aging. Likewise, a local church body is a family that respects and cares for one another. Older members are to be respected like mothers and fathers, while younger members are to be loved like brothers and sisters. Churches are to be especially mindful of widows. In Paul’s day, many of the widows were without provision and protection.

How should I respond?
There was a time when respect for older members of society was not only taught but also expected. While it isn’t obsolete, it has become a rarity. What is your attitude toward older members of your family? How can you help meet the physical needs of a widow in your church? If you’re part of an older generation, look for younger men and women with teachable attitudes who can benefit from your experience and wisdom. Generation gaps will always exist. Nevertheless, each generation has a responsibility to care for the one before and after it. That’s how you put your “religion into practice.”

September 27, 2020

,

Read – 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?

September 28, 2022

,

Read – 1 Timothy 4

What does it say?
Paul wrote about spiritual discipline and warned against misleading practices.

What does it mean?
Every person has a conscience that is guiding his or her moral decisions and standards of behavior. Paul warned Timothy that teachers with a seared conscience would emerge within the church, leading others to think they could find favor with God by following a set of rules. Because their conscience wasn’t guided by God, their words couldn’t be trusted. These teachers were liars who were influenced by demonic power to distract believers from true faith. God, not fables, myths, or old wives’ tales, should guide the conscience. Paul urged Timothy, as a young minister, to exercise and teach this kind of spiritual discipline and doctrine.

How should I respond?
It’s good to let your conscience be your guide. However, your conscience is only as reliable as the source that influences it. Who or what has been allowed to speak into your conscience? Some spiritual influences are actually a mixture of mystic belief and wrong doctrine. Even within Christian circles, there are those who associate outward behavior and rule following with being spiritual. What do you need to cut out in order to guard your thoughts and beliefs? You will either adjust your behavior to match your beliefs, or you will change your beliefs to match your behavior.

September 26, 2020

,

Read – 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) are 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?

September 27, 2022

,

Read – 1 Timothy 3

What does it say?
Paul gave qualifications for pastors and deacons in the church.

What does it mean?
Christianity was new and being watched closely by those inside and outside of the church when Paul outlined the importance of believers’ lives being above accusation, blame, or criticism. If the lives of church leaders weren’t aboveboard, they would have brought disgrace to the entire church and the name of Christ. God holds Christian leaders to a high ethical and moral standard because they represent “the church of the living God.”

How should I respond?
It’s heartbreaking when church leaders disqualify themselves from public service because of immoral or unethical behavior. The negative effect on the cause of Christ is no different today than in Paul’s day. Even those who aren’t followers of Christ expect Christian leaders to have impeccable character. Do you pray for your pastor and his family? What about your worship leader, church administrator, and deacons? Stop and pray for your church leaders right now. Ask God to protect their homes and give them wisdom. Then, find a way to let them know you are praying. It will be a huge encouragement!

September 25, 2020

,

Read – 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.

September 26, 2022

,

Read – 1 Timothy 2

What does it say?
Paul provided instructions concerning the importance of praying for authorities and the role of men and women in corporate worship.

What does it mean?
Four different words for prayer show up in the first verse of this chapter. A mature prayer life is multi-faceted, not focusing on personal requests alone. Praying for others is not only a privilege, but it is also the responsibility of every Christian. Paul stressed the importance of giving thanks to God for ruling authorities and making intercession on their behalf. The attitude of the person praying is as important as what is said; anger and disputes have no place in a praying heart. True worship takes place in the hearts of believers whose lives are correctly aligned with God’s Word.

How should I respond?
Most of us are quick to pray for someone when there’s a crisis or urgent need, but we get so caught up in our own lives that praying for leaders and people in authority can be easily overlooked. How have you prayed this week for someone who has a place of authority over you? Write down the names of people who make decisions affecting you and your family. Begin to faithfully pray for them by name. It’s difficult to have hard feelings toward someone you’re praying for, even when you disagree with that person’s opinions or politics.

September 24, 2020

,

Read – 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?
The 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.

September 25, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 105

What does it say?
The psalmist praised God for His faithfulness to the everlasting covenant He made with Abraham and his descendants.

What does it mean?
This psalm provides an overview of Israel’s history, showing God’s sovereignty and grace in His dealings with Israel. The psalmist encourages Israel to remember what God had done for them and to tell others. The nation of Israel had experienced firsthand the protection, provision, and promises of the Lord. During King David’s reign, the Levites read portions of Psalm 105 at the return of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chron. 16). Remembering God’s past faithfulness produces present gratitude and obedience.

How should I respond?
Remember when….? That question almost always sparks memories of joy and laughter as you think back on special times. The record of God’s faithfulness in today’s passage reminds us of His love and greatness. How often do you take time to share your memories of how God has been faithful in your life? God always remembers and keeps His promises to His children. How often do you remember to trust and thank Him? God’s faithfulness in the past is a reason to be grateful in the present.

September 23, 2020

,

Read – 1 Kings 11:14-43

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.

September 24, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 104

What does it say?
The writer praised God for creating the earth in wisdom; he then promised to sing praises to God as long as he lived.

What does it mean?
Psalm 104 is another hymn of praise to God for His remarkable creation and for His sovereignty over all the earth. Only the Lord God is powerful and wise enough to lay out the world in perfect order. The God who created the universe has chosen to reveal some of His secrets to His special creation – man – with whom He wants to have a personal relationship. He provides everything people need to live within His creation – water, food, and materials for clothing and shelter. Mankind’s response should be no less than to worship the Creator and Sovereign of the earth.

How should I respond?
The beauty of the natural world can bring an instant sense of awe – seeing a rainbow, a sunset, or a waterfall, for instance. There is no better time to offer the Lord praise than in those moments. Reverence for God and submission to His authority are evident in the life of a person who truly believes that God is the Creator of all things and is the Sovereign over all things. Do you give God honor as your Creator? How does your life demonstrate that He is your Lord and King? Your life will be an act of worship if you start each day in recognition of who God is.

September 22, 2020

,

Read – 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 a woman 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.

September 23, 2022

,

Read – 1 Timothy 1

What does it say?
Paul instructed Timothy to correct those who were teaching false doctrine. Describing himself as the worst of sinners, Paul thanked God for his salvation.

What does it mean?
Paul was Timothy’s mentor in addition to being like a father to him. He opened his first letter to Timothy by making it clear that no one has been excluded from God’s offer of salvation. The reason Jesus came to Earth and lived among men was to have a relationship with those who had previously rejected Him. Specifically listing murderers, adulterers, perverts, slave traders, and liars, Paul illustrated just how far the mercy of God reaches by talking about his own desperate need for mercy. In Christ, he found abundant grace, faith, and love. Paul is an example of a radically transformed life.

How should I respond?
Does past sin haunt you? As you begin to understand who God truly is, you become more aware of your own sinfulness. God’s mercy, grace, and love extend to wherever you are or have been. Family, friends, and co-workers should see evidence of your transformed life once you accept God’s offer to have a personal relationship with Him. Past sin isn’t a reason to live in shame. Allow God to use you as evidence of His love and grace. Who needs to hear from you about God’s mercy and grace today?

September 21, 2020

,

Read – 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?

September 22, 2022

,

Read – 2 Thessalonians 3

What does it say?
Paul listed prayer requests and warned against idleness.

What does it mean?
False doctrine about Christ’s return had some of the Thessalonian believers so worked up that they had quit working. Instead of being busy earning a living and serving the Lord, they used their idle time to gossip and meddle. The church generously supported those who could not work, but these members simply would not work. Paul’s solution was simple: anyone who refused to work shouldn’t expect to eat. He and the other missionaries had set an example of occupational integrity while maintaining faithful service to the Lord, which should not be wearisome for a follower of Christ.

How should I respond?
Most of us stay so busy that we’re in a state of being perpetually tired. The question isn’t whether or not we’re busy – it’s a question of what we’re busy doing. God has given each of us work to do in our home, school, church, and community. Are you busy serving Him in those areas, or are you wasting time with meaningless pursuits? Staying busy within your God-given responsibilities reduces idle time that can easily lead to sin. What has taken up your time this week? If your life is too busy to serve God according to His standards, then you are too busy! What is God prompting you to change today?

September 20, 2020

,

Read – 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.|For further reading, 1 Kings 9:10-28

September 21, 2022

,

Read – 2 Thessalonians 2

What does it say?
The Lord Jesus will gather believers to Himself, but not before the rebellion of the lawless one occurs. Paul gave thanks to God for the faithful believers at Thessalonica.

What does it mean?
The church at Thessalonica had concerns regarding end time prophecies. Paul gave them more details about the coming Great Tribulation, describing the contrast between two groups of people – those who refuse to believe the truth and those who believe the truth. Believers are saved as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit through “belief in the truth.” Standing firm is a result of continuing to hold to truth. God’s grace provides the hope and confidence needed to stabilize believers’ faith and to provide strength to live out His truth. In the end, all who refuse to believe truth will be condemned.

How should I respond?
Busy lives and hectic schedules leave little time for personal and family devotions to learn and discuss biblical truth. With the bombardment of conflicting information from entertainment and social media, Christians need to be alert and prayerful as never before. You can avoid being deceived by worldly ideas that contradict truth by availing yourself to biblical teaching, preaching, writing, and music. Do you consistently set time aside for studying God’s Word so that you can hold to the truths found there? God’s truth never changes. How will you stand firm today on what God says is right?

September 19, 2020

,

Read – 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.

September 20, 2022

,

Read – 2 Thessalonians 1

What does it say?
Paul praised the Thessalonians for their faith in Christ and love for others. The persecution they were enduring would strengthen their faith.

What does it mean?
The believers in Thessalonica endured intense persecution because they had taken a firm stand for Christ. They were not secret disciples who valued the praise of men more than the praise of God. As they increasingly trusted God and His promises, their faith and love for God and others increased. They looked forward to the revealing of Christ in all His glory. However, those who persist in their refusal to believe and receive Christ will face an eternity “shut out from the presence of the Lord.”

How should I respond?
In many countries today, Christians still face intense persecution for their faith, costing some their lives. Even subtle persecutions, such as being ostracized or being the target of sarcastic remarks and condescending attitudes can cause emotional suffering and discouragement. Have you taken a public stand as a Christian in your family, at work, and in your community? How will you respond to the pressures you face this week as a result of living for Jesus? Whether your trials are severe or subtle, God is at work and will provide the strength you need to endure. Relying on God’s strength instead of your own efforts enables you to achieve God’s purpose in and through your life.

September 19, 2022

,

Read – 1 Thessalonians 5

What does it say?
Believers should be alert as they live in light of Christ’s return, which will happen suddenly like a thief in the night.

What does it mean?
Paul had already taught the Thessalonian believers that the “day of the Lord” refers to the time when God will bring judgment on the world. In this passage he gave practical instructions on how to live victoriously in view of Christ’s imminent return. Since no one knows the times and dates of Christ’s return, Paul encouraged them to focus on how to use their remaining time to fulfill God’s purposes. The Christian’s standard for living is high, but when the believer chooses to obey, God Himself provides the resources.

How should I respond?
How does the hope of Christ’s return affect your day-to-day thoughts, attitudes, and actions? We are to live every moment expecting Christ’s return. That means being intentional rather than simply reacting to circumstances and situations. Go back over this chapter and highlight the areas of your life that are inconsistent. Ask for God’s help as you strive for authenticity in your Christian life. What can you do this week to help fulfill God’s purpose and plan while you wait for Christ’s return?

September 18, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 103

What does it say?
David praised God for removing his transgressions as far as the east is from the west.

What does it mean?
This psalm is a hymn of praise written by David and expresses the reason he has been described as “a man after God’s own heart.” It is possibly the grandest and most glorious poem of praise to God that has ever been composed. Without making a single request of the Lord, David called on the worshippers singing this hymn to remember the benefits of serving God: forgiveness, healing, redemption, and satisfaction. David’s zeal for his Lord reached a new height in the realization of who God is and what He’s done.

How should I respond?
When was the last time you prayed without asking anything of God? While we may begin our prayers thanking the Lord for His goodness to us, we usually move on quickly to the pressing matter of the moment. Make a praise and thanksgiving list this week, and then as you pray, use those thoughts to turn your heart and mind toward who God is and what He has done in your life. Ask for specific things and thank Him for specific answers to prayer. You might even try to pray for 3-5 minutes without making a request at all. You can start right now by listing items from Psalm 103, and then pray them back to the Lord.

September 17, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 102

What does it say?
The psalmist groaned in distress, asking the Lord to hear his prayer and cries for help.

What does it mean?
The writer of Psalm 102 was consumed with sorrow so great that he felt he could not go on; he thought that God might have deserted him. But in his distress, he began to focus on God: His character, His sovereignty, and the hope that God would release him from his troubles. He then reminded himself that others are watching his response. He looked down the centuries to the generations who would know that God has been faithful in the past, in the present, and will continue to be in the future. He slowly moved into the realm of praise to God and ended by declaring to future generations that God is good!

How should I respond?
Do you – like the writer of Psalm 102 – find yourself in the darkest of hours, dwelling on trials that drain your strength? The very last thing you may feel like doing is praising God for His goodness and faithfulness. Yet as you consider His attributes, the glory of God begins to fill your being, and the focus on yourself slowly turns to an outward worship of Him. Praise is a choice. As you live in front of your family, friends, and co-workers, remember they are seeing you worry or worship, pity or praise, sing or sob. Make the choice today to praise God for what He is doing and will do in your life.

September 16, 2022

,

Read – 1 Thessalonians 4|What does it say?
Paul discussed the glorious rapture of the church to encourage the Thessalonians to live their lives to please God as they awaited His return.

What does it mean?
The Thessalonian believers lived in the midst of a pagan society that did not have high moral standards. For the Christian, God’s will is clear – be holy. To be holy requires a clean cut with sexual immorality. Living a holy life involves a change in thinking and behavior – it’s walking by faith – believing and doing what God says in Scripture. God has given every Christian His Holy Spirit who gives the power to live a pure life that pleases Him. Paul’s fervency urged them to take already holy, loving, and respectful lives to a new level – desiring those qualities more and more.

How should I respond?
We, too, live in a society with low moral standards. Sexual immorality permeates our culture through movies, television, and social media. The way for believers to live a holy life separated from sin and separated to God is found in the Word of God. As you read and meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit renews your thinking. Do your entertainment choices reflect God’s standards? In what area do you need to act in faith and obey God? As you anticipate Christ’s return, don’t be satisfied with your current spiritual level of maturity. Instead, desire to please the Lord more and more each day until He returns.

September 15, 2022

,

Read – 1 Thessalonians 3|What does it say?
Paul talked more about his visit to the Thessalonians and rejoiced over their faith and love as reported by Timothy.

What does it mean?
Paul’s prayer in this chapter provides an excellent model for believers as they pray for themselves and for others. He thanked God for what He was doing in the lives of the new believers and prayed that the Lord would make their love increase and overflow. As he thought about the specific needs of the Thessalonians, he prayed that their hearts (mind, emotions, and will) would be strengthened spiritually so that they could live righteous lives until Christ returns. Their faithfulness was a source of personal joy to Paul and his companions.

How should I respond?
Do you struggle with how you should pray for yourself or others? Even Jesus’ disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Try using Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians to pray more effectively this week. Write down the names of close friends and family members and list ways you see God working in their lives, and then thank Him for those specific things. Pray for their spiritual fortitude as they face daily challenges. Throughout the day, follow Paul’s example and pray for situations that trouble you. The spiritual growth of those you pray for will be an endless source of personal joy.

September 14, 2022

,

Read – 1 Thessalonians 2|What does it say?
Paul talked about the trip he took to visit Thessalonica and about his desire to go again.

What does it mean?
The opposition against Paul was so intense that he had to leave Thessalonica. From a human standpoint, Paul’s leaving might be considered a failure. But what was God’s plan? God used this very opposition to motivate Paul to write a letter. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul painted in straightforward words a portrait of the faithful Christian worker. This picture of unconditional love, determined effort, and unsullied character speaks powerfully to every worker who is called to care for the family of God.

How should I respond?
In the church today, there is a tremendous need for faithful workers who are not looking for the approval of men, but for the approval of God. Where do you serve as a volunteer in your church? How do you display the characteristics described by Paul in this chapter? Ask God to show you where change is needed in order to better encourage and comfort those He has called you to serve. God has called every believer to serve in some capacity. How will you be a faithful worker this week?

September 13, 2022

,

Read – 1 Thessalonians 1|What does it say?
Despite severe suffering, the church at Thessalonica received God’s message with joy and became a model for other believers.

What does it mean?
No other words have the power to change lives as does the message of Jesus Christ. The Thessalonians experienced that change when they heard the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. As they responded to God’s gift of faith, their lives began to reflect new purpose, new motivations, and new priorities. In fact, there was such a transformation in their lifestyle that they set an example for other believers. No longer bowing down to worthless idols, they now devoted themselves to serving the true God and waiting expectantly for Christ’s return.

How should I respond?
How often do you hear, “Well, everybody else is doing it, so it must be okay”? Most Americans would think it absurd to bow down to an idol of wood or stone. But have you bowed down to the false beliefs of popular culture? How willing are you to stand alone for what you know is right? God gives His children the power to change – to show to the world a faith that works, a love that labors, and a hope that endures. What attitudes or actions do you need to turn from this week so that your life can be an example to follow? Choose to live as if Christ were returning today.

September 12, 2022

,

Read – Colossians 4|What does it say?
Paul closed his letter by challenging the Colossians to pray and be wise. He sent greetings from eight fellow believers along with his personal encouragements.

What does it mean?
Paul wanted the Colossian believers to be alert to false philosophies that undermine godly values and truths. As he brought the letter to a close, he added the key to living the Christian life in a secular society: prayer. Prayer is the personal connection between the believer and the Creator God. Believers should be committed to watchful praying – for wisdom, for open doors for the gospel, and for open hearts to those who have not received Christ. However, he didn’t just tell them what to do and leave them alone to do it. Paul sent strong believers specifically to encourage the Colossians to carry out his instructions.

How should I respond?
Busy schedules often cause Christians to neglect daily, watchful prayer that enables them to resist the subtle pull of their culture. Have you made prayer a priority in your life? What can you do this week to strengthen your relationship with God through consistent prayer? Consider committing to memory Paul’s powerful prayer from Colossians 1:9-12. Then use that Scripture to talk with the Lord. When you pray using Scripture, you know you’re praying for what God wants. No matter how busy your day is, take time to talk with your Savior.

September 11, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 100-101

What does it say?
Those who know God as Creator can praise His goodness, love, and faithfulness. David sang of God’s love and justice and then vowed to conduct his business blamelessly.

What does it mean?
The Lord’s people should have a heart filled with joy when they worship Him. He is the Sovereign God and Creator who provides everything His people need. Overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s goodness, enduring love, and continuing faithfulness, David declared his intention to honor God by cleansing his home, his life, and his position of authority from any wickedness that might hinder further praise to God. As the psalmist lists God’s unchangeable attributes, his understanding of God becomes greater and greater; in turn, his desire to please God with his life becomes the cry of his heart.

How should I respond?
Believers today can enter the Lord’s presence at any time and at any place. As you draw near to the Lord today, express your praise by naming specific attributes (such as His goodness, love, holiness, and faithfulness) that declare who He is. Praising God with your whole heart creates the desire to please Him with every aspect of your life. As you consider His holiness, do you find a growing desire to live a holy life (I Peter 1:15-16)? What is pulling you away from having a heart completely centered on God? Things like ungodly choices in entertainment or a tendency to gossip hinder your ability to praise and honor the Lord. Stop right now for a time of self-examination to see if there are areas in your life that God needs to cleanse.

September 10, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 97-99|What does it say?
God’s people praise the King of Zion for His holiness, justice, and righteousness. He is a forgiving God who answers the prayers of His repentant people.

What does it mean?
These psalms continue the celebration of the Lord as King that began in Psalm 95. Even though these coronation psalms include the millennial reign of Christ, they also declare that He currently reigns over all. The imagery describes both trembling and rejoicing before His throne. People who live in a vital relationship with Him will exalt and worship Him by knowing and keeping His Word. As the holy, righteous God He disciplines justly, yet extends mercy to those who call on His Name. The emphasis on the holiness of the Lord conveys the expectation that His people should also be holy.

How should I respond?
How can a holy God tolerate sinful people? Even believers have difficulty in fathoming the absolute holiness of God. As you read and study His Word, take note of His standards for your attitudes and behavior as His follower. What lifestyle changes do you need to make so that you can honor and exalt your holy Lord? As you pray today, celebrate Jesus as the King of all the earth by praising Him for His holiness, justice, and mercy. Thank Him for forgiving your sins and for answering your prayers.

September 9, 2022

,

Read – Colossians 3

What does it say?
Paul wrote about the principles of holy living and addressed six types of individuals concerning these matters.

What does it mean?
Paul gives believers life principles regarding their affections, their attitudes, and their relationships with the people close to them. Now that believers have new life in Christ, they are to set their hearts and minds on things that matter for eternity. Believers need to get rid of the old nature’s attitudes and actions and put on qualities and responses that belong to the new nature. The words “take off” and “put on” reflect the process of getting dressed for the day. Believers should serve Christ in everything they do, including their interactions with family members, co-workers, and those in authority.

How should I respond?
For the believer who truly desires to walk by faith in Christ, the high standards presented in this chapter could seem overwhelming. Ask God where to begin – He knows the area in your life that needs immediate attention. What old attitude or habit do you need to “take off” today so that you can “put on” the new? Find a verse of Scripture that is directly related to your need, memorize it, and envision putting it on every day as you go through the physical process of getting dressed. Remember that you live continually in the presence of the King. Dress appropriately!

September 7, 2020

,

Read – 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.

September 8, 2022

,

Read – Colossians 2

What does it say?
Paul gave warnings to two churches, one in Colosse and one in Laodicea.

What does it mean?
Everything that a person needs for salvation and growth in the Christian faith has been provided in Christ. The Colossian believers had received Christ by faith, and Paul urged them to continue to live by faith in Him alone. As the believer continues to follow and serve Christ, he increasingly learns how to handle life’s pressures and difficulties with the wisdom of Christ. Paul warned the Colossians about false teachers who would try to mislead them by erroneous teaching, which would lead them away from God’s truth.

How should I respond?
Ignoring danger signs can result in great physical harm. Likewise, ignoring spiritual danger signs can be harmful to the freedom you have in Christ. Where are you in danger of being misled in your spiritual life? If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have everything you need in Him. Getting to know Him through consistent study of God’s Word is the best protection against false teaching and wrong thinking. What percentage of free time do you spend in Scripture compared to time spent with television, social media, or sports? How much time will you set aside each day to know Christ better? His wisdom brings freedom and safety.

September 6, 2020

,

Read – 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?

September 7, 2022

,

Read – Colossians 1

What does it say?
Paul opened his letter to the Colossian church with thanksgiving, prayer, and a discussion about Christ as the visible image of the invisible God.

What does it mean?
The central truth of the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ is God. In this first chapter of Colossians, Paul seems to answer the question he asked on the road to Damascus: “Who are You, Lord?” In dramatic point-by-point declarations, Paul explained the supremacy of Christ. Jesus Christ is the image of God, the Creator of all things in Heaven and on Earth, the One who holds all things together, and the head of the church. As both God and man, Jesus made possible the reconciliation between a holy God and sinful man through His death on the Cross.

How should I respond?
Many people view Jesus as just one of a number of great moral teachers. Some even say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” Actually, what you believe does matter. Will you take a few moments today to write down what God says concerning the Lord Jesus Christ from Colossians 1? Pray that the Holy Spirit will deepen your understanding of the supremacy of Christ. How does your life show that you personally know the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of all that exists? How will the knowledge of who He is make a difference in the way you think, talk, and act today?

September 5, 2020

,

Read – 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 despair 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.

September 6, 2022

,

Read – Philippians 4

What does it say?
Paul exhorted the Philippians to rejoice always, present their requests to God, think about praiseworthy things, and look to God to meet their needs.

What does it mean?
Paul concluded his letter with a presentation of Christ as the believer’s life power. This final chapter is packed full of promises with key conditions that Paul had seen to be true in his own life. The peace of God replaces worry when His children pray, and the God of peace goes with believers who submit their thoughts to Him. Paul had experienced both God’s power and provision for daily living and in his service to the Lord. God would meet the needs of the Philippian believers and guard their hearts and minds if they followed Paul’s sound advice.

How should I respond?
The promises of the Lord are true and trustworthy. However, not all of God’s promises are realized in our daily lives because we often miss the conditions under which they become reality. For instance, if you are filled with anxiety, then pray – but do so with thankful and joyful recognition of what God is already doing. Look back over the promises in today’s passage in an attitude of prayer. Ask God to convict you regarding any area where your heart and mind are not in full submission to Him. Follow Paul’s advice and experience God’s peace, power, and provision today.

September 4, 2020

,

Read – 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 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.

September 5, 2022

,

Read – Philippians 3

What does it say?
Anything Paul previously considered gain, he now counted as loss compared to knowing Christ. He left everything behind and reached for the prize of the call of God.

What does it mean?
There was nothing about Paul’s old life that he missed. Everything that used to seem important or valuable seemed like rubbish compared to what he had gained by meeting Jesus Christ. He didn’t even think about those things anymore. His priorities were so rearranged that he only saw the call of God on his life, like a runner whose eyes were fixed on the finish line. Fulfilling the call of Christ on his life was the prize awaiting him. Jesus was the motivating factor of all Paul thought, said, and did.

How should I respond?
Your spiritual growth involves your past, present, and future. Think about your life before following Jesus – how has your thinking and integrity changed? Now think about the early days of being a Christian – how different are your priorities today? Continued spiritual growth means you will continue to give up certain attitudes and behaviors in order to follow the pattern Jesus sets for us (Phil. 2). What sacrifices has the Lord asked you to make? The call of God causes you to lose nothing of lasting value but gives you what’s most important – new life in Christ.

September 3, 2020

,

Read – 2 Samuel 16:15-17:29

What does it say?
Absalom received advice 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.

September 4, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 95-96

What does it say?
Sing for joy and bow down before the Lord with thanksgiving. Praise His name, proclaim His salvation, declare His marvelous deeds, and worship in the splendor of His holiness.

What does it mean?
Today’s psalms describe what true worship looks like. If a nation ever had reason to sing for joy or to declare their God as worthy of praise, it was Israel. Yet time after time, they repeated the sins of their fathers by turning to false gods and hardening their hearts to their Creator and Shepherd. Although they sang the words of these psalms regularly in the temple, they failed to do what the songs said – truly worship the Lord. A tender heart toward God is the result of recognizing His greatness, thanking Him regularly, submitting to His will, and looking for His imminent return.

How should I respond?
Participation in weekly worship services is great, but it doesn’t mean you’ve truly worshipped the Lord. Worship is a lifestyle that goes beyond singing on Sunday. It involves seeing exactly who God is, regardless of the circumstances He has allowed in your life. Like Israel, we live in God’s blessings, but we often stop short of complete submission to His Word. When you sense that happening, find a reason to thank and praise God immediately. As you turn your thoughts to Jesus in those moments, you’ll be reminded that worshipping Him is the reason we exist, and it is the one thing we will do for all eternity. Will you accept the psalmist’s invitation to worship the Lord today?

September 2, 2020

,

Read – 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.|For further reading, 2 Samuel 16:1-14

September 3, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 94

What does it say?
The wicked didn’t think God saw them, but the Creator knew their thoughts. The Law of the Lord helped the righteous to take a stand, but the wicked will be judged by it.

What does it mean?
Amidst psalms that praise God’s love and declare His glory, this passage calls for His vengeance. The writer pointed out the foolishness of those who perpetrate evil on God’s people. They acted as if the Creator were a lifeless man-made idol who couldn’t see their violent actions or hear their arrogant rants. In truth, every thought they had was laid bare before the Judge of the earth. God alone can punish the wicked, yet He looked for those who would take a stand against evil and proclaim righteousness and truth. Every wicked person will be cut off, and every evil act will be judged when Jesus returns.

How should I respond?
It can be frustrating to live in a world that acts as if God doesn’t exist, doesn’t see, or doesn’t care about what people do. Our society not only overlooks grievous sin, but also legalizes and rewards it. You may have become so discouraged that you’re ready to isolate yourself with other believers while waiting for Jesus to come back and right every wrong. But God is looking for believers willing to boldly and lovingly speak the truth while there’s still time for people to turn to Him. What evil in the world grieves your heart? How can you take a stand against it today and proclaim the truth of Scripture?

September 1, 2020

,

Read – 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?

September 2, 2022

,

Read – Philippians 2

What does it say?
Believers should have the mind of Christ, doing all things humbly and without complaining.

What does it mean?
Paul presented Christ as the believer’s life pattern. Since the Philippian believers had chosen to follow Jesus, they were also called to have the same mindset as Christ. Even though He was Lord, Jesus lived with the attitude of a servant, looking out for the needs of other people. For these early believers, having that mindset meant living in faithful, humble obedience to God’s will. Paul demonstrated what that looked like by joyfully pouring out his life for the sake of the gospel and for the church of Jesus Christ.

How should I respond?
The mindset of our society is about as far from the mindset of Jesus as it can get. In general, people argue, complain, demand their own way, and put their own desires above everything else. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, then it makes sense to follow the pattern He set. Do you have a habit of helping and serving others, or do you tend to be oblivious to the needs of your neighbors and coworkers? How often throughout a day do you complain rather than pitch in to solve the issue? How will you model the mind of Christ today?

August 31, 2020

,

Read – 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 – even 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 that 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 found only by aligning your desires with God’s Word. What area of discontentment do you need to surrender to God today?

September 1, 2022

,

Read – Philippians 1

What does it say?
Paul said, ‘To live is Christ and to die is gain.’

What does it mean?
Paul opened his letter to the church in Philippi with a presentation of Christ as the believer’s life purpose. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important message anyone could hear or give. In Paul’s view, advancing the cause of Christ was his only reason for living. He urged the Philippians to follow his example, to stand firm and strive together for the faith of the gospel – even in the face of opposition and persecution. That mindset had led Paul to the conclusion that it was a privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake, if that’s what it would take for others to hear.

How should I respond?
The world is full of worthy causes that give people a sense of purpose, but nothing offers fulfillment like a life of faith and hope in Jesus Christ. He is the only purpose in life that continues beyond your life in this world. What is your purpose for living? Have you made telling the message of Christ the overarching priority of each day? Reflect on one or two things you could do for the sake of the gospel that you’re not currently doing. Strive today to be engaged with people as Paul was – let your life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.

August 30, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 31, 2022

,

Read – Ephesians 6

What does it say?
God’s people can be strong in the Lord and stand against forces of spiritual darkness when they put on the full armor of God.

What does it mean?
Paul warned the Ephesians to be prepared because Satan and his forces actively seek to oppose God’s people and hinder their mission. Sometimes persecution is overt and external, but sometimes it is covert and internal. The soldier described in verses 14-17 illustrates what a prepared Christian looks like. He is fully clad in God’s spiritual armor. Completely aware that the enemy might attack at any moment, he utilizes God’s divine weapons: the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and prayer in the Spirit. The prepared Christian puts on the armor of God each day by faith, through prayer.

How should I respond?
Most of our spiritual failures come from failing to take Satan’s strategies seriously. We need to anticipate his attacks and be prepared by trusting in God’s promises, seeking truth in the Bible, behaving rightly, and praying regularly. Being prepared doesn’t mean that you won’t face persecution, but it does mean that when it comes, you’ll be ready to stand firm in your faith. Take a minute to think about what areas of your life are most vulnerable to spiritual attack. Will you bring those things to the Lord in prayer every day this week? He‘ll give you strength for the battle if you commit to putting on His armor.

August 29, 2020

,

Read – 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, he would lose the 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 even rationalize 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?

August 30, 2022

,

Read – Ephesians 5

What does it say?
God’s holy people ought to imitate God, living as wise children of light.

What does it mean?
Throughout this chapter Paul emphasized that believers should have the mark of God on every aspect of their lives. Living consistently in the light of Christ will lead His followers to naturally imitate Him as they submit to the Holy Spirit. The pattern of a believer’s thoughts and reactions should be the opposite of what comes naturally to an unbeliever, who still makes decisions in spiritual darkness. Paul compared living in obedience to God with wisdom, and living outside of His will with foolishness. God’s people have the ability and responsibility to live in ways that please their Creator.

How should I respond?
Living to please other people can be exhausting. What pleases them one day can suddenly change, leaving you guessing as to how to make them happy. Living to please the Lord, however, is liberating and productive. His expectations are clearly laid out and they never change. Not only that – He supplies the example and power to live a God-pleasing life that produces spiritual fruit. Which dark or foolish things from your former way of life have crept into your way of thinking, talking, or behaving? Ask God right now to flood your mind with light and expose every dark corner. The Holy Spirit can empower you to live as God’s child of light. Will you submit to Him today?

August 28, 2020

,

Read – 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?

August 29, 2022

,

Read – Ephesians 4

What does it say?
Paul urged the Ephesians to live in a manner worthy of the name of Jesus Christ.

What does it mean?
Paul had just reminded the Ephesian believers that no one deserves God’s love (Eph. 2:3-4), but now that they had received His grace and forgiveness, their lives should be commendable as followers of Jesus Christ. He described exactly what that looked like in everyday life. Since all believers share the same Father, Savior, and Spirit, they ought to do whatever is needed to live lovingly, peacefully, humbly, and patiently with one another – just as God, for the sake of Christ, is loving, forgiving, and patient with His children. Mature Christians learn to discard any attitude or behavior that reflects their old way of life and truly desire to respond to one another with compassion.

How should I respond?
We talk a lot about the grace of God, and rightly so. Sometimes though, we refuse to give to others what we have so freely received from the Lord. That kind of Christianity is not worthy of the name of Christ. God’s love, forgiveness, and patience with us are never-ending and fill us with peace beyond understanding. He wants us to extend the same compassion to others that He has extended to us – no matter who they are. Think of the people who have really hurt you or who are difficult to be around and pray for them every day this week. Ask God to work in your heart so that you will respond to them in the same way He has responded to you – with grace, forgiveness, and love.

August 27, 2020

,

Read – 2 Samuel 9

What does it say?
David 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?|For further reading, 2 Samuel 10

August 28, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 92

What does it say?
Fools cannot comprehend the thoughts of the Lord Most High, but the righteous person praises His love and faithfulness. He reigns eternally in majesty, strength, and holiness.

What does it mean?
As the burnt offering was prepared on the Sabbath, God’s people were reminded of His majesty and holiness, which appropriately caused them to sing His praises, proclaim His greatness, and consider the things He had done on their behalf. Some of His works were more difficult to understand; but if they could have fully comprehended God, He would not have been the infinite, eternal, all-powerful God they worshiped. Because His thoughts were more profound than theirs, God’s people could place their lives in his loving hands at the start of each day and look back on His faithfulness as the day ended.

How should I respond?
Sometimes God’s ways and purposes are clear, and at other times we struggle to understand. Why would we worship a god we could fully comprehend? We can trust the Lord precisely because His thoughts are deeper and His ways are higher than ours. When you consider how much God loves you (John 3:16), it becomes second nature to surrender your day into His hands each morning. Watch for God’s hand in your life today so you can thank Him at the close of the day. Praising the Lord’s faithfulness and love acknowledges who He is, even when you can’t fully understand His actions.

August 26, 2020

,

Read – 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 descendants 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?|For further reading, 2 Samuel 8

August 27, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 91

What does it say?
The psalmist lived in the shelter of the Most High and rested in the shadow of Almighty God. He acknowledged and called upon God, who promised to be with him in trouble.

What does it mean?
God made unique promises to the nation of Israel; some of those are evidenced in today’s passage. Imagine having such divine protection that there was no need to fear plagues, pestilence, or enemy attacks – as long as they lived in obedience to the Lord Almighty. His promises covered them like the wings of a mother hen over her chicks. The anonymous author of this psalm lived securely in those promises. He didn’t have to run to the Lord when trouble came; he was already abiding in Him when difficulty arose. God didn’t keep him away from all trouble but promised to be with him in the midst of it.

How should I respond?
Jesus never promised His followers lives of ease in exchange for living to please Him; He said quite the opposite actually. Christians through the ages have been persecuted for their faith in Christ. Even today you probably know a godly, faithful believer who has suffered from severe illness or some other tragedy. We do, however, have the promise that the Lord hears us when we pray (1 John 5:14-15) and is with us through every difficulty we face (Matt. 28:20). It’s possible to rest unafraid in His peace, knowing that nothing can touch your life unless your loving Lord permits it. Are you abiding in Him today?

August 25, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 26, 2022

,

Read – Ephesians 3

What does it say?
Paul was given the mission of delivering and explaining the good news of salvation to all people – even the Gentiles – so they might know the extent of God’s power and love.

What does it mean?
Back in the days when Paul’s letter was written to the Ephesians, God revealed that His grace and power were open to all people who put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. The same resources that were available through the Holy Spirit to strengthen the hearts of Jewish believers were also given to Gentile believers. Although it is not deserved by anyone, including Paul, God’s grace is given freely. The depth of God’s love for the world is beyond human comprehension. Paul was blessed to share this good news with all people everywhere as God sent him.

How should I respond?
Our concept of love, no matter how well developed, is rather small in contrast to the great and powerful love of God. Would it bother you to know that God loves the person you like the least and even wants to forgive the person who has hurt you the most? We are no more deserving of God’s love and grace than the people who we think are guilty of the worst sins. Are you willing to tell them about God’s love and forgiveness and even invite them to church? Christ has given His followers the inner resources through His Spirit to love as He loves. Look for ways to share the good news of God’s love today.

August 24, 2020

,

Read – 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.|For further reading, 2 Samuel 4.

August 25, 2022

,

Read – Ephesians 2

What does it say?
God built His church with Jesus as the cornerstone.

What does it mean?
God took His people from the Jews and Gentiles and made both groups one in order to build His church, just as a bricklayer would build a house on a firm foundation with each brick laid carefully in alignment with the cornerstone. Jesus is the true and trustworthy cornerstone, so believers can line up according to His example. The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with God’s people carefully placed to form one strong and sturdy building. When Paul wrote this letter, it was common for Jews not to associate with Gentiles, but Paul reminded both groups that they are one in Jesus’ church.

How should I respond?
Have you ever thought about how diverse God’s family is? He has children of different ages living on every continent and coming from different backgrounds. God wants us to break down barriers and to work together as a unified group to carry out the work and life of His church. How willing are you to work side by side with people who are different from you to accomplish the work of God? Will you reach across the wall of separation that could divide you socially and show the love of God to your neighborhood and community? As you do, Christ’s church will be strong and sturdy.

August 23, 2020

,

Read – 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.|For further reading, 2 Samuel 3.

August 24, 2022

,

Read – Ephesians 1

What does it say?
Paul told the Ephesian Christians of God’s past, present, and future blessings accomplished through the loving power of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

What does it mean?
It is astounding to think of how much God has loved and provided for His children throughout history. Before He created the world, the sovereign God purposed to provide redemption through the death of His Son and adoption into His family for those who believe. He paid the adoption fees, so to speak, so believers could have an eternal family and home. His followers are blessed, both now and in the future, by God’s power – first given to Jesus upon His successful mission and then shared with Christians throughout all eternity. Never has a family’s inheritance been so extensive.

How should I respond?
If you are a follower of Christ, then you are adopted into His family. God has become your heavenly Father. What are the quality traits of a good father? Think about that for a few minutes, and write down some of them. Now use this list as an outline to talk to God about those particular things today. As you continue to talk to Him about these things each day, you’ll begin to understand them more deeply on a spiritual level. This, in turn, will help you to hold your heavenly Daddy’s hand as you walk through your life together with Him. What aspect of God as your Father do you need most today? Tell Him.

August 22, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 23, 2022

,

Read – Galatians 6

What does it say?
Some Jewish Galatians were trying to convince Gentile Christians to be circumcised.

What does it mean?
Even in the early church, there were divisions among Christians. One group was referred to as the “Circumcision Party.” They seem to have been intimidating new Gentile Christians by compelling them to undergo circumcision. Paul exposed their efforts as a shallow attempt to gain converts to their party. Paul made clear throughout this letter, and especially in v. 15 of this chapter, that circumcision is a matter of the flesh and was no longer a requirement as a follower of God. After Christ’s death on the Cross, what mattered was that they live differently than before.

How should I respond?
It’s sad when there are divisions in a church or between groups who claim to follow Christ. We come to church, in part, to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thess. 5:11). All too often, though, divisions arise and cause harm within a body of believers and within the church of Jesus Christ. What differences might have caused a division between you and another follower of Jesus? What caused the division – theology, methodology, personality, Christian liberty, etc.? This week, be open to discussion; ask questions and be willing to listen. Study Scripture so you know why you believe what you believe. Differences between believers don’t have to cause division.

August 21, 2020

,

Read – 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 should 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!

August 22, 2022

,

Read – Galatians 5

What does it say?
God’s children should no longer live according to the desires of the flesh, but according to the things of the Spirit.

What does it mean?
The Galatians that felt compelled to follow God by trying to keep every part of the law were actually thinking and living according to the flesh – on a lower plane, so to speak. Believers are called to think and live on a higher, a God-centered plane. While living according to the flesh and its natural desires leads toward sinful thoughts and actions, living by the Spirit supernaturally produces the character of Christ within His followers. That fruit is evidenced by a proper attitude toward God and the proper treatment of others. God’s children should think and live according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

How should I respond?
Consider the nine words that describe the fruit of the Spirit in today’s passage: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which ones come easy to you? Now identify one or more that you find more difficult to live out. Think about how God exhibits those qualities to you personally. Ask Him to help you improve in the areas where you are weak so His character is reproduced in and through you. Which of these words will describe you as you follow the leading of His Holy Spirit today?

August 20, 2020

,

Read – 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 were 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 should 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.

August 21, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 90

What does it say?
Because God is eternal, a thousand years is like a day to Him. Moses wanted to live his days wisely and to experience God’s love for as many days as he remained.

What does it mean?
Psalm 90 opens the Fourth Book of Psalms, which begins the songs of Israel’s days spent wandering in the wilderness. Because of their rebellion, God refused to allow anyone over the age of twenty to enter the Promised Land (Num. 13-14). All of their sins were laid bare before the Lord. For forty years they moved from place to place watching each adult eventually succumb to death. Moses wanted God’s eternal perspective on how to live out his remaining time on Earth. Even wandering in the wilderness could bring satisfying and joyful days if they were marked by God’s love and compassion.

How should I respond?
Life is short, and many of its days are filled with challenges, difficulty, and heartache. Despite that, you can live a fulfilling life if you live each day with God’s eternal perspective in mind. He sees your life from beginning to end and knows how the puzzle pieces of your life fit together for His purposes. Nothing that you say or do is hidden from Him. Reading His Word teaches you how to live wisely and how to live well so you can also live each day to please Him. As you learn to trust God, you’ll finding lasting satisfaction in His love, despite what the day may bring. No matter how many years you live, they are marked one day at time. Will you live wisely and well today?

August 19, 2020

,

Read – 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 should 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!

August 20, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 89

What does it say?
The psalmist sang of the Lord’s love and faithfulness because of the covenant He established through the line of David. Who can compare with the Lord?

What does it mean?
The backdrop of this psalm is the Babylonian exile. Jerusalem lay in ruins as her wicked king was taken captive. Yet the psalmist starts by declaring God’s love and faithfulness. God’s covenant with David’s descendants was not dependent on their faithfulness to Him, but on His divine nature. In the same way, the psalmist’s faith was not dependent upon his circumstances, but was anchored in God’s character. Israel’s immediate future was bleak, but they were under the care of their awesome, strong, powerful, righteous, just, and loving God. Although it felt as if God had revoked His covenant, He had not. Its ultimate fulfillment will be the reign of Jesus as King Eternal.

How should I respond?
Emotions are tricky; they can take us from delight to despair in a matter of minutes, but what’s happening to you or around you doesn’t affect God’s unchanging character. Look back over Psalm 89; highlight the names and qualities of God in this passage. Which aspect of His character is particularly meaningful to you today? Which name for Him do you need to call on in light of your current situation? Remember, your circumstances and feelings may fluctuate, but God’s faithfulness does not.

August 18, 2020

,

Read – 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 should 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.

August 19, 2022

,

Read – Galatians 4

What does it say?
The Galatians were like slaves to the law before God adopted them into His family.

What does it mean?
Paul used metaphors to explain two different types of relationships – father and child versus master and slave. Before following Christ, the Galatians lived like slaves to the Mosaic Law and its many detailed requirements. As slaves they had no freedom, and their lives were measured by their adherence to the law. After they put their faith in Jesus, God adopted them into His own family and treated them like sons. A good father loves his children for who they are in relation to him and does not treat them like slaves. Oddly, the Galatians seemed to want to return to their slavery and lack of freedom.

How should I respond?
We tend to misunderstand the true meaning of spiritual freedom. Freedom in the Lord is not permission to act and live any way you choose. Instead, it is living by faith in Christ. Outside of Christ, you didn’t have any way to consistently combat sinful desires, but once you became a child of God, you gained the freedom to choose what is right through the power of the Holy Spirit. Why, then, would you ever choose to subject yourself to sin’s restraints on your life? God the Father has set you free from sin’s power. How will your life reflect your relationship to Him as your heavenly Father today?

August 17, 2020

,

Read – 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 should 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.

August 18, 2022

,

Read – Galatians 3

What does it say?
People who lived under the Law of Moses were cursed; then Jesus took away that curse on the cross. People no longer live under the Law, but by faith.

What does it mean?
No one has ever been able to perfectly adhere to the Law (Rom. 3:10-11). To stumble in even one point of the Law means to be guilty of breaking it all (James 2:10), and those who break the Law are under a curse (Deut. 27:26). However, Jesus took away the curse associated with sin by His sacrifice on the cross. Those who trust in Jesus and receive Him have changed lives – lives that demonstrate faith in Him and thankfulness for what He has done. Believers do not do good things in order to be morally perfect, but to show love and gratitude to God.

How should I respond?
You don’t have to do good deeds to offset the bad; Jesus took away the guilt of your sin on the Cross. That thought should flood your heart with gratitude. How can you express that gratitude to the Lord by doing something nice for someone today? Jesus even instructed His followers to do their good deeds privately (Matt. 6:3-4), which guards against actions motivated by pride instead of obedience. What word best describes the condition of your heart right now – grateful or prideful? When you do good things simply out of love for God and gratitude for your salvation, you become more like His Son.

August 16, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 17, 2022

,

Read – Galatians 2

What does it say?
Paul opposed Peter, who had separated himself from Gentile Christians out of fear.

What does it mean?
Many rules in the Law of Moses addressed ritualistic cleanliness, including instructions for Jews to be separated from Gentiles because they followed pagan beliefs. But even though Jesus had come to show grace to both Jews and Gentiles, a few Jewish Christians still had a mental block against associating too closely with the Gentile Christians. Peter and some of the Jewish believers in Antioch were afraid of what believers from Jerusalem would think if they saw them eating with Gentile brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul confronted Peter about the hypocrisy of his actions.

How should I respond?
Is there someone in your church you hesitate to be seen with – someone with an immoral past, someone who dresses differently, or someone who worships differently? Our Sunday mornings often become rituals, in which we talk to the same people, sit with the same people, and leave with the same people. Why not break a social barrier or two? Introduce yourself to others who are outside of your comfort zone. Ask them how they are doing; then listen – really listen – and really care. God loves all believers just as much as He loves you. Will you love them that way too?

August 15, 2020

,

Read – 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?

August 16, 2022

,

Read – Galatians 1

What does it say?
Paul assured the Galatian Christians that they had been saved by God’s grace, not by how carefully they held to the Law of Moses. Jesus Himself revealed the gospel to Paul.

What does it mean?
For about 1500 years, God’s people measured their morality in terms of how well they adhered to the Law of Moses. However, no one was able to obey every detail of the law fully. The intent of the law was to teach God’s people about Him and His holiness so they could reflect Him and His holiness in all areas of their lives. Paul tried to help them understand that God’s forgiveness wasn’t based on their performance; it came through His Son, Jesus, who took the punishment for their sins. Many of the Christians with a Jewish background, however, kept looking for ways to be justified by obeying the law.

How should I respond?
Even today we might think we can please God if we’re just good enough. The Bible tells us, however, that we all fall short of God’s standard (Jer. 17:9; Rom 3:23). If you are a follower of Christ, spend a few minutes thanking God for the love and forgiveness that Jesus showed on the cross when He took away God’s anger toward your sin. Learning to abound in thankfulness rather than drown in guilt will help you to have the right perspective on your relationship with God. Think of the good things you do as acts of gratitude to the God who already accepts you because you received His Son.

August 14, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 15, 2022

,

Read – 2 Corinthians 13

What does it say?
Paul encouraged the church at Corinth to examine whether or not they had true faith.

What does it mean?
Paul wasn’t trying to give the Corinthians doubts regarding their salvation. He was, however, warning those in Corinth who had put their faith in the false doctrine being taught. He encouraged a period of self-examination and testing regarding the sincerity of their faith. The standard by which they were to measure themselves was truth, which is found in God’s Word and was observable in the life of Christ. For believers, such an examination should show evidence of Christ-like character and a desire to grow in their faith.

How should I respond?
We’re prone to taking long looks in the mirror to determine what about our physical appearance needs attention. But when was the last time you examined yourself spiritually? Like the Corinthians, you need to be sure you have a true relationship with Christ, not just head knowledge about Him. What evidence of Jesus do you see in your life? Is your lifestyle consistent with the teachings of Scripture? Take a moment right now to look in a spiritual mirror. Do you see yourself as you truly are? Godly character will continue to develop as you read and apply the truth of God’s Word to your life.

August 13, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 14, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 87

What does it say?
Psalm 87 praises Jerusalem as the city God loves. The writer of Psalm 88 cried to God for deliverance from a life-threatening affliction.

What does it mean?
These psalms stand in stark contrast to each other. The first joyously celebrates Jerusalem as the center of the world and the pride of the people born there, while some have called Psalm 88 the saddest of all the psalms. The last verse of each chapter best illustrates the contrast. Psalm 87 ends with God as the source of the psalmist’s joy, and Psalm 88 ends with darkness as the writer’s only friend. It seems he had suffered a life-threatening illness for most of his life, probably leprosy. Yet, the underlying foundation of his prayer is faith in the Most High, who established Jerusalem.

How should I respond?
Followers of Christ are not immune to unimaginable heartache. Life-threatening illness, the death of a child, and prolonged unemployment happen to believers and non-believers alike. But just like the contrast in today’s psalms, there should be a marked difference in how a Christian handles suffering. Do you have a foundation of faith that drives you to your knees before the Lord? Stop now and talk honestly with God about whatever situation may be overwhelming you. Even when all you can see is darkness, the Lord can be your hope and source of joy.

August 12, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 13, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 86

What does it say?
Because of God’s comfort and abounding love, David trusted God to hear, answer, strengthen, and guard him. He asked for an undivided heart full of praise.

What does it mean?
It’s uncertain which enemy David was facing when he wrote this psalm, but it’s clear that the personal attack he was under drove him to God. His psalm reveals deliberate focus on the One he was praying to rather than the people and circumstances he was praying about. He found strength and comfort in the Word of God, quoting more than 20 passages from other psalms. He desired more than relief from the trial; David wanted to be closer to the Lord when the ordeal was over than when it began.

How should I respond?
What unexpected setback or unrelenting adversity are you facing right now? The very thing causing you frustrating days and sleepless nights might be a means to greater intimacy with the Lord. The trials of life tend to bring our flaws to the surface because they are harder to control or keep hidden under intense pressure. Will you allow God to show you those things so you can emerge from this difficult time stronger spiritually? Rather than turn away from God in anger, turn to His Word for strength. Mark the passages that He uses so that you, like David, can look back and say, “Lord, you have helped and comforted me.”

August 11, 2020

,

Read – 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?

August 12, 2022

,

Read – 2 Corinthians 12

What does it say?
God allowed Paul’s thorn in the flesh to keep him humble.

What does it mean?
No one really knows what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was; we just know that he pleaded with God three times to take it away. No doubt, Paul felt he could serve the Lord more fully without this hindrance. It’s important to note that God did answer Paul’s prayer – the answer was, “No.” Two life-transforming truths appear in verses 7-10. First, God’s grace and comfort are sufficient in suffering. Next, God’s strength is complete in human weakness. Paul would experience God’s supernatural strength and comfort, keeping him completely dependent on Christ.

How should I respond?
We can each identify with Paul because his “thorn” isn’t named. What has God allowed in your life that keeps you humble? God doesn’t expect you to be great, He expects you to depend on him greatly. In what area are you relying on your own strength? When you admit weakness, you can be strong and rest completely in Christ’s strength. Aspects of God’s character revealed during difficulty and suffering can be learned no other way. You might not be up to the task before you, but Jesus is!

August 10, 2020

,

Read – 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.

How should I respond?
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.

August 11, 2022

,

Read – 2 Corinthians 11

What does it say?
Paul warned the Corinthian church about false apostles and teachers who were pulling them away from the truth of Christ.

What does it mean?
Paul painted a picture of himself as a father and the Corinthian church as a daughter he’s nurtured for her groom, Christ. The false teachers were deceptively wooing the church with a false gospel while pretending to represent Christ. They started by maligning Paul, attempting to drive a wedge between him and the church. These men were following the tactics of Satan, who masquerades as an angel of light, to make what’s wrong seem right. The Corinthians were gullible enough to believe anything if someone claimed to preach in the name of Jesus.

How should I respond?
Satan is the master deceiver. He can’t claim followers of Christ for himself, but he can affect your thinking and keep you busy through distraction. He mixes lies with truth in order to lure you away. That’s why it’s important to study Scripture and know truth so you can recognize error when you hear it. What false teachers do you recognize today? What half-truth, compromise, or rationalization are you being tempted to believe? Determine to be a student of God’s Word, because a gullible Christian will be an ineffective Christian.

August 9, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 10, 2022

,

Read – 2 Corinthians 10

What does it say?
Paul defended his apostleship against the lies of Judaizers by depending on spiritual weapons, not worldly tactics.

What does it mean?
False apostles had cleverly poisoned the thinking of some Corinthians. Paul recognized that the effort to discredit him as an apostle was actually a spiritual battle opposing the message of Christ. He defended his apostleship against the lies of Judaizers, but he did not use worldly tactics. Paul urged the Corinthians to depend on spiritual weapons, such as prayer and God’s Word, and to remove anything that elevated itself against God. Every thought must be brought into submission to Christ.

How should I respond?
Spiritual strongholds in your life start as a thought, then build. The only way to make every thought obedient to Christ is by saturating your mind with Scripture and staying close to God through prayer. In what area do you have faulty thinking? What mental temptation are you currently facing? Ask God to protect your mind and guide your thoughts to truth. Place 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Romans 12:2 on index cards where you’ll see them every day. You can’t reach your spiritual potential until the battle for your mind is won.

August 8, 2020

,

Read – 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.

August 9, 2022

,

Read – 2 Corinthians 9

What does it say?
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

What does it mean?
The Corinthians could easily relate to Paul’s farming illustration because it was common sense – you reap whatever you sow. Instead of talking about how much they should give, Paul discusses their attitude and motivation. Cheerful, gracious giving is a response to experiencing God’s grace. True generosity stems from grace, not obligation or a desire for praise. Recognizing that God is the supplier of all that’s needed to sow and reap generously results in His receiving thanks and praise from both the giver and the receiver.

How should I respond?
Generosity doesn’t look the same from person to person because your situation is different from the person next to you. It’s the motivation for your gift, not the amount, which determines whether or not it’s gracious. Do you think about how you will look or benefit from giving? How have you been generous with your time, resources, and knowledge of God this week? Ask God for the grace to trust Him to meet all of your needs and the grace to exercise your faith by scattering what He’s given you. Who will praise God this week because of your gracious giving?

August 7, 2020

,

Read – 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 the 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.

August 8, 2022

,

Read – 2 Corinthians 8

What does it say?
The Macedonian believers and the Lord Jesus Himself modeled sacrificial giving. Paul said that financial giving is related to the grace of God.

What does it mean?
Several principles about giving can be taken from this passage. First, generosity isn’t connected to outer circumstances; the Macedonians gave out of their poverty because they first gave themselves to God. Secondly, giving is an act of grace. The grace shown to the believer by the death of Christ is the motivation for gracious giving. In love, He gave all He had. Next, the amount given is not as important as the desire to give and the willingness to follow through. As always, God is concerned with the heart. Finally, the manner in which money is handled should honor God and be above reproach.

How should I respond?
It’s difficult to feel generous while juggling to take care of your own finances. But giving financially to the local church and believers in need is the responsibility of every Christian. How has God been gracious to you this year? This week? Today? Have you, in turn, given yourself completely to Him? You can’t rightly surrender what’s in your hands until you’ve surrendered your heart. How can you be generous to someone in need today? Developing the grace of giving will benefit you as much as it does the receiver of the gift.

August 6, 2020

,

Read – 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.