Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wed. Devo - Send us to the Plain of Tabor

Read 1 Sam 10:3-16
Saul has just been anointed king, been given a word of knowlege about his donkeys, and then sent to the plain of Tabor (brokeness). Isn' t that the way it goes; we get a commission from God and immediately God breaks us. He even sends 3 men to him carrying bread, lambs, and wine and what do they give him? Bread that must be "broken" to eat. After "breaking" he is sent to the place where the enemy is, to receive the spirit of prophesy and the birthing of a new man. Then he is to go to Gilgal and wait 7 days for Samuel to come and offer burnt offerings and peace offerings. (Did Saul's poor dad ever know that he was OK?) Ever notice how God doesn't seem to worry about the practical things we worry about?
I love vs. 9: As soon as Saul turned to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart and all those signs came to pass that day.
When Saul started prophesying everyone wants to give Saul a title and a ministry. Good intentions - wrong calling. Even his uncle tries to get the scoop but Saul is holding out for the right timing.
2009 is going to be a time of great harvest. God is calling us to a new "thing" and we will need "another heart" for it. We need to be broken so we can hear and discern the voice of God. The temptation will be to take the title and the ministry that is not the right one. Satan is always in a hurry because his time is short. God is always patient because He has eternity. When in doubt; wait on God. He will make it obvious. He will put road signs in the road like he did for Saul.
Lord , break us for the work you have ahead.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tues. Devo -Hidden in Clear Sight

Read 1 Sam 10:1-2
At the end of chapter 9 Samuel has taken Saul aside, even away from his servant, and given him the Word from God. He takes a flask of oil and pours it on his head, kisses him and tells him he will be the captain over his inheritance, and when Saul leaves he will find 2 men by Rachel's grave. They will tell Saul that his donkeys have been found and his father is now concerned about him. Are these the same 2 men at Jesus' tomb who the women saw when they came to anoint his body with oil in Luke 14:4? Is their job to guard holy bodies? And why Racheal's grave?
Rachel is a type of the New Testament and Leah the Old. Leah was Jacob's wife by law. He had to marry her first. But Rachel was chosen to be his wife because he loved her. He gave his life for Rachel. Rachel died to bring forth Benjamin which was a type of the church. Benjamin was the only brother that was related to Joseph by blood. We are related to Jesus because of his blood, not because we are Jews. When Jesus died, his death brought about the birth of the Church to fulfill Benjamin's type. So Saul is brought to this very place: Zelzah. "Zelzah" is an oximoron which means "clear shadow". The obvious and the hidden; a great way to describe this place. It is a clear shadow of what God is going to do many years later which was a mystery to them then.
For Saul, this was where he was going to be told that his natual mission and his duty for his natural father was accomplished. It was now time to focus on what God had in store for his future. Rachel's natural duty was done and so was Jesus's when they were put in their tombs. These 2 angles were there just to let us know, "It is finished". Lord, help us to die to the worries of this life and get on with the reason you put us here for this season.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday's Devo - Dust Yourself Off and Get Ready

Read 1 Sam 9
Saul is the 6th in his family line. Saul's name means "asked" which was why he became king. The people "asked" for a king. Six is the number of man. Man was created on the 6th day. So Saul was soulish. He was even taller than the other men. He was "goodly" but not "godly".
His father, Kish (which means "to set a trap") had lost his donkeys and sent Saul to find them. After traveling a good way away from home, he still hadn't found them and decided to go back home. His servant told him about a prophet that lived in the city they were in and maybe he could show them which way to go. Saul was hesitant because he didn't have a gift to give the prophet but, the servant had a 4-sided shekel he would give him. They asked some towns people where to find this prophet and, it was their lucky day; the prophet was coming to town for a special sacrifice. So they headed for the high place.
Meanwhile, Samuel had been told by God the day before that a man from the house of Benjamin would be at the sacrifice and he was to annoint this man to be the next king. On Saul's way to the sacrifice he passed Samuel and asked Samuel where the seer lived. Samuel told him he was the seer and to go up to the high place because today Saul was going to eat with him. He then told him that his donkeys he lost 3 days ago had been found. And if that didn't blow Saul's mind enough, he told him that he, Saul, was the answer to Israel's hopes. Saul argued about how he was the least, from the smallest family but since no one is insignificant to God, who cares! Saul is brought in and placed in the highest place of honor, given the best piece of meat, and he ate with the prophet. After lunch they went to Samuel's house where Samuel gave him one-on-one advice.
I love how God takes the smallest most insignificant people and overnight makes them a hero. It is sort of like American Idol. Nobody becomes Somebody. God knows just where we are and what he has prepared us for and when it is time to take us out and place us on the shelf he does it SUDDENLY! I know I have blogged about this before, but God just keeps reminding us of the same stuff. Probably, because He is fixing to do that soon.
Lord, prepare our hearts to be ready to be exposed and poured out for Your purposes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday's Devo - Watch What You Ask For

Read: 1 Sam 8:4-22
Samuel is old, his sons are not godly priests, and there is no one to lead the people spiritually, so they ask for a king. Samuel is saddened by this and takes it to God. God tells Samuel to give them what they ask for. So Samuel goes back to the people and tells them he will give them a king, but... this king will draft their sons, make them drive his chariots, plow his fields, harvest his crops, make his weapons, take their daughters for cooks and perfumers, take their fields and vineyards for himself, take a tithe of all they have, take their slaves and their best cattle, and they will be his slaves. When they decide this was a bad decision and want out, the Lord won't help them. What a choice. It seems to me that there would be no hesitating and the answer would be a NO!!! But, it wasn't. The people refused to take Samuel's warning and said they wanted a king anyway.
When I was in college, I wanted a car real bad. A friend of mine was selling his car and everyone thought I should buy it. It was an orange Vega that drank oil like it was gasoline, backfired and was a standard (of which I had never driven before). I was determined this was the car for me. I didn't even look anywhere else. My parents tried to talk me out of it, especially the "standard" part, to no avail. I promised to pay the payments and keep the car full of gas and oil. They let me get the car. Learning to drive it in a hilly town was a nightmare. I had to map out my destination to avoid all intersections at the top of hills, which in Ruston, was quite a feat. I had to go through the humiliation of backfiring black smoke, running out of oil, grinding the gears, etc. Then there were the monthly payments that got old real fast. Believe me, next time I needed to make a purchase of that magnitude I remembered all my parents had tried to warn me. God sometimes gives us what we ask for even if it isn't His best. But he always warns us first.
Lord, help us to heed your warnings and cherish your protection even if we don't understand it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday's Devo - "Mirror, Mirror, on My Heart...."

Dave and I lived in a small shack-like house. I left for a walk and decided to go back home. I passed the house we had lived in for a while and it looked worse that I had remembered. But, we had good memories there. I saw a cute guy walking by who smiled at me. I walked around to avoid him. This led me to a beautiful neighborhood of hills and enormous houses. I heard voices and saw a young man and woman talking in the backyard. It looked like they liked each other and were neighbors. He had blonde hair and blue eyes. As I passed by this house a soccer ball rolled out of the gate. I kicked it back in. Nothing happened so I climbed up the old concrete wall around the yard. The wall was wide at the top and I saw the boys father standing by the wall. He smiled at me and I continued to climb on top of the wall. The young man and woman walked over to help me. The young man squatted on his knees and wanted me to jump on his legs. I did and he looked into my eyes with the most gentle look. I was very shy and tentative. He could tell I was and was assuring and kind. He led me around to the other side of the house. There was a young girl there with 2 old hand mirrors. She handed me one. I never looked at the reflection of myself but tried to read the small words that were engraved on the back of the mirror. I woke up.
Interpretation: No matter how lovely our house is down here it is a shack from heaven's perspective. I was being led to heavenly places where the houses were extraordinary and beautiful. The first cute guy was the counterfeit. Satan always sends the counterfeit to draw us off the right path. This guy was headed over a hill that I couldn't see over. Satan is deceptive and never shows you where you are going till it is too late to turn back. The young man in the back yard was Jesus. I was drawn to him so he gave me the invitation to come in (the soccer ball). I climbed over the wall. I could have gone through the gate. We have access to the things of God, but I didn't feel comfortable in doing that, but I was curious enough to scale the wall. His dad wasn't mad at all. That was God. He seemed pleased that I would be interested in his son. Jesus came down and humbled himself before me (squatted on his knees). He never asked me what I was doing on his property. He seemed so welcoming and aware of my frailty. He led me around and the Holy Spirit gave me a present. A mirror. A mirror is one's heart. I didn't look at my own reflection because in heaven every reflection is of Jesus. We look at everything through the Words he gives us. He gave me his words (he has written His Word on our hearts). I wish I could have read them. I tried. I guess they were written in heaven's language. Lord, I ask you to show me what they were.
I don't know why God gave me this dream now but for some reason I am going to need those words that God has engraved on my heart for something ahead. God, thank you for that dream. Give your body dreams and visions to prepare us for what you are up to.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday's Devo - What happened to the children?

Read 1 Sam 8: 1-3
Samuel has 2 sons just like Eli, his mentor. And just like his mentor's sons Hophni and Phineas, Samuel's sons do not follow the Lord. Why is this? Samuel named his son's Joel which means "Jehovah is his God", and Abiah which means "worshipper of Jehovah". Great names with great meanings only naming them great names was not enough. He had to train them. In all his knowledge of God's word and his ability to hear God's voice; how was he so deficient in fatherhood? I guess we will never know. After all, his mentor didn't teach him well.
I was reading Ps 144 the other day and ran across this verse: "May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace." Every time I come across a scripture I want to claim over my life I say it out loud. Believe me, this was an "out-loud" one. Having 3 sons and one daughter-in-law and one to be, I am always looking for promises for them. See, I know I made mistakes in raising my kids. I was not a perfect mom nor Dave a perfect dad; but God is, and He is able to perfect in our children in the things that need perfecting.
Yesterday was Christmas and Dave and I went to the shelter and prepared Christmas dinner for the battered women. Our ministry was more in the kitchen with the ones helping. It was a real honor and privilege to work with the ones God placed there. My son Caleb, and his girl friend Katy, in Louisiana did the same thing. I was more excited about them serving than us. They actually got interviewed and on the news!
Lord may this next generation of warriors be plants and pillars not perverted and pitiful.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thurs. Devo - Let it Thunder

Merry Christmas!!!
Read 1 Sam 7
The men of Kirjath-jearim took the ark to Abinadab's house. Abinadab means "a willing soldier". His son Eleazar was given the responsibility of keeping it safe. So, of course, his name means "protector, helper". The ark remained there for 20 years. God loves numbers; so much so that he named a whole book Numbers. Numbers are important because God has a purpose in them. So I looked up all the things that had to do with 20.

Jacob served in Laban's house 20 years then left
Joseph was sold to Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver and brought to Egypt
At 20 years of age you could start offering to God, go to war, and be counted in your family
There were 20 boards, 20 pillars, and 20 sockets on south side of the Tabernacle
22,000 Levites were counted
On the 20th day of 2nd month in 2nd year the cloud moved from Mt Sinai and they started their journey through the wilderness.
All the kings I could find came to power in their 20's

So what does that mean? I think if is a turning point, a number of accountability. In our story the ark stayed in Abinadab's house till the people decided they would give up their idols and follow God wholeheartedly. When they did God delivered them from the Philistines. He did it with thunder. Thunder is God making an announcement of change that can not be understood by the world. It confused the Philistines so bad they couldn't fight. But the Israelites could because they knew this thunder was from God and that He was bringing about a change of rulership. They were returning back to his rule. That is was is so encouraging about God, no matter how far we have gone from Him, if we return with our whole heart, He will deliver us SUDDENLY!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wed. Devo - Do I Hear What You Hear?

This is Christmas Eve. Outside, the weather is gray and cold and I'm sitting at my kitchen table with my Diet Coke and my fire place going and the tree lights lit. Although we have done Christmas, I am filled with such excitement and expectancy. Tomorrow, Dave and I will go to the battered women's shelter and fix their Christmas meal. What started out as a little "feed the homeless" is ending up being a bigger production. We picked the menu, will cook, serve, and clean up after. A friend who didn't have anything to do is coming to help and now I talked to another friend who might bring her boy friend and help too. God always has bigger plans than ours. He certainly had bigger plans 2,000 years ago when he sent a baby to us. How strange for an all-powerful God to send himself down as our equal. He is desperate to let us know Him. Yet, it seems we still can't seem to bring him down to our level. He really is concerned about curtains, hang nails, hurt feelings, and what we are thinking about right now. He really wants to play with us, laugh with us, and cry with us. He MADE us! He made us with purpose and precision. I think the greatest Christmas present we can give God is to bring him down to our lives and enjoy his company. He would love to really spend the day with us.
Lord, I invite you to my life. I want to experience life through you. Open my eyes to see what you see and hear what you hear. Let my life bring you joy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tues. Devo - Five Golden Rings

Read 1 Sam 6: 16
I wonder about the 5 major cities that the ark visited and as a result were plagued with bubonic. Why 5? David took up 5 stones to kill Goliath. Joshua killed 5 kings and hung them on 5 trees. Five Philistine rulers, 5 amorite kings, 5 . In Revelation 9 the 5th angel blew his trumpet and locusts appeared to torture the ungodly for 5 months. The number 5 is everywhere in the tabernacle: 5 curtains, 5 pillars, 5 bars of wood, the court was 5 cubit high, the altar is made 5 cubits long and 5 cubits broad, Joseph gave Benjamin 5 changes of raiment instead of the one he gave to the other brothers. The sacrifice for the peace offerings were 5 rams, 5 he goats, 5 lambs. Five seems to be a hinge number; half-way between 1 and 10. In the tabernacle 10 candlesticks were placed: 5 on the left and 5 on the right. Ten tables were also placed, 5 on the right and 5 on the left. Sounds like end-time judgement to me. Judgment and curses to the ungodly and protection and boundaries to the godly. I guess it depends on how you swing the door. I was wondering how God felt about them opening the ark and putting their sacrifice in it. Well now we know: He didn't like it. He killed the men of Beth-shemesh because they looked into the ark: 50,300 of them died. They had to send men from another town to tell the Israelites that they had brought their ark back. They wanted to make sure the ark got back to the right owners. This reminds me of the verse that says the Christian is an aroma of life to those being saved and the fragrance of death to those who are perishing. How true in this story. This ark was such a curse in the wrong hands but such a blessing in the right hands. Lord, may we be life-giving perfume to the saved and the dreadful smell of death and doom to the perishing so that they may choose salvation.

Monday's Devo - You can't put the Cart before the Cow

Read 1 Sam 6:14-15
The cart brings the ark of God's presence right to the field of Joshua, which is another name for Jesus, who is a Beth-shemite (which means "house of the sun"). And it stopped in front of a great stone. I love how easy God makes it for us to know what to do. The men know exactly what God wanted them to do. They take the cart, dismantle it and use it for a sacrificial fire. They sacrifice the cows! How convenient!
And that is the whole story: God sent his presence in Jesus, down to the world (Jesus' field). Jesus is from the House of God. The whole plan is placed upon the Rock (the Word of God). This plan is the sacrificial death of Jesus which will take away the curse of sin.
Just as Jesus was the cow, the heafer, the lamb, the burnt offering, that carried the presence of God down to earth, we are the cart today that carries the presence of God wherever we go. But in order to have any power we have to be broken and put in the fire and completely burned up for God. Half-death won't do it, it has to be a total death to ourselves. A little painful, but worth the smoke.
Make our lives a sacrifice to you Lord Jesus.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thurs. Devo - Come on Down!

Read 1 Sam 6:1-13
My friend, Anna, says that the economy of the Kingdom of God is this: We give him our junk and He gives us his best. Beauty for ashes, life for death, truth for lies, blessings for curses, healing for emerods. The Philistines cashed in on this. They had the curse, so they made five golden emerods and threw in five golden mice because they were plagued with both. Their fear of God goes back to the stories about Egypt. They sure don't want that God on their back! So they came up with a plan. Make a new cart and put the ark in it and attach 2 milking cows to them. Separate their calves from them and leave the calves at home. Milking cows cannot be separated from their calves. The mother instinct in them is ferocious. But God was going to display His glory over his creation. Instead of the cows turning back to their calfs, they never looked back. They were driven by a supernatural force which defied motherly instincts. The Philistines did this as a test to tell them whether this was the hand of God or not. If the cows went to Bethshemsh (which means house of the sun) it was God's hand. They did.
The cows showed up in the field of Joshua and stopped in front of a great stone. This "rock" has followed them all through the wilderness (1Co 10:4) and continues to show up from time to time. Sometimes as one rock like the one Jacob put his head on and dreamed of the portal to heaven, or many like the ones they pile up for memorials. We know that rock was Jesus. The farmers were reaping the wheat, so that tells us it is the season of Pentecost. Interestingly they are bringing back the presence of the Lord. On a certain Pentecost in Acts God sent down his Holy Spirit to all men and the "church" was born. God with us. Emanuel. In a week it will be Christmas. These farmers rejoiced to see the ark coming. The disciples in Acts rejoiced in receiving the Holy Spirit. The angels rejoiced to see the Son coming. God just loves to come down to us. We have reason to rejoice. He is with us all the time! Thank you Lord for your enormous incredible plan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tues Devo - God's gift to us

Read 1 Sam 4:12-22
A soldier from the battle with his clothes torn and earth upon his head. This was a sign of great mourning. He didn't even have the strength to stay and fight. He told the whole town what that the Philistines had won, they had taken the ark and the priests Hophne and Phinihas were killed. When Eli heard the news about the ark his failing heart gave up, he fell over backwards and broke his neck and died.
His daughter-in-law was very pregnant and when she found out she went into labor. As the child was being born, she was slowly dieing. When the midwife told her it was a boy she was unmoved. She named the child Ichabod which means "no glory" because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, "The glory is departed from Israel; for the ark of God is taken.
It is hard for me to understand such sorrow over a piece of furniture. But then I have to realize that that piece of furniture was God's presence. I take for granted that God's spirit is always with me. I don't have to worry about it being taken away and I don't have to travel for miles every year to go see it. It is in me. That helps me understand a little better what a gift the Holy Spirit was. When Jesus told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait because He was going to give them a gift. What a gift!!! Thank you Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday's Devo - From Judgment to Promises

Read 1Sam 3:20-4:11
Samuel was known as a prophet of God from "Dan to Beersheba". From "Dan to Beersheba"... I remember reading that many times in the Bible so I looked it up. It is a saying that is used 8 times in the Bible. Dan was the most northern Israelite city and Beersheba was the most southern place in the land. I looked them up on a map and it was hard for me to believe they meant south and north since they were not that far apart. So I dug deeper. I found that "Beersheba" means "well of an oath" and these wells were dug about 5 meters deep. "Dan" on the other hand means "judge" and is in the hill country. It makes me wonder if the difference was vertical instead of horizontally. The judges like Samson came from Dan. The Anti-Christ is believed to come from Dan. So could Dan mean "high; pride; self-exaltation?" Beersheba seemed to be a place where God had given His promises and these wells were physical memorials to God's promise. Abraham dug them and Isaac had to contend for the land they were on, then redig them. So Dan and Beersheba seem like opposites: judgment and promises kind of like the Old covenant (judgment) and the New covenant (promises).
On with the story... "The Lord appeared again in Shiloh". "Shiloh" means "tranquility; prosperity; safety."
Into chapter 4: You would think that now a godly man is their prophet that everything would go well, but no. They have to reap the years of rebellion they sowed. The Philistines come against them and slaughter 4,00 of them. So they decide to call on God and go get the Ark of the Covenant. It has become an idol to them, not a way of life. Hophni and Phinehas bring it into the camp with enough shouting and fanfare to scare the Philistines into fighting even harder so they won't become their slaves. The next day the Israelites lose 30,000 men, the ark gets confiscated, and Eli's 2 sons were killed. All of this is fulfillment of God's judgments.
I'm glad God put it "from judgment to promises." We are suppose to love his judgments because they are true and righteous. They lead us to His promises which are yea and amen! Lord, lead us through your judgments to your promises!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Psalms 133:1 - "Behold, How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
When I typed this scripture I left out the first word "behold". I realized I liked it and put it back in. Then I started thinking about the word "behold" and looked it up. It is used 1,275 times in the Bible. It means look and see the surprise! The reason I was reminded of this scripture is that today our church hosts TOYS FOR TOTS. We will have thousands of less-privaledged families come to our church to get toys for their kids for Christmas. We will shop with them, play with them, entertain them, serve them, and present them with Jesus' love. It is one of the greatest days for our church. Everyone gets involved doing their different tasks. We all come away with such a fulfilled feeling and such an empty feeling. Fulfilled because we have helped so many families and have been able to give them the love of Jesus. Empty, because there are millions others out there that need this and so much more. This is just a drop in the bucket; but at least it's a drop and that is our part today.
So today, I want to "behold" the unity of God's children as they work together for Jesus. I pray we will show forth the goodness and pleasantness of our God.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Planning the Meal"

It's Christmas time and a great time to reflect on things. Christmas fills me with such opposing and diverse emotions. I love it because Jesus is brought out of the closet, dusted off and put on a shelf for all to see. I was walking through Wal-Mart the other morning and the song "O Holy Night" was playing through the speakers. I have to admit I was almost embarassed because using his name in public places has become a federal offense in our nation. Then, I relaxed and relished in hearing my Savior's name sung so all could hear. People seem to be friendlier and more out-going. Total strangers start conversations while standing in shopping lines. Salvation Army bells ring everywhere. Everyone wants your money from the mall to the non-profit organizations. Churches everywhere have programs to express the real meaning of the season. Kids are making their lists and visiting Santa Clause in the mall. It is such a busy time.
But for me, this Christmas is so different. For one thing, it will be the first Christmas we don't spend with our kids. We will to to La. to see them the week-end before Christmas then come back to OK. Dave has to work Christmas Eve till 7 and also the day after Christmas. We have had invitations for Christmas Day so we don't feel sad about it; actually we feel a little excited. We decided to do something manevolent so I called all the shelters, and organizations I could think of that might be feeding the less fortunate. I had no idea that my idea was such a popular thing to do. They all had enough volunteers. I finally called Day Spring Villa, a shelter for battered women and their children. They had one other couple who had offered to serve on Christmas day. When I asked her what I could do, she replied, "You could plan the meal". Well, that was not exactly what I had in mind. I am not the administrative type and would rather help someone else's plan, not BE the plan. She kept repeating that I could "plan the meal" so I told her I would get back with her. I had to talk to Dave and pray about this one. I finally decided to call back and find out exactly what "planning the meal" meant. Well, it means you decide what 45 people are going to eat, and make out the grocery list. They buy the food and have it there waiting for you Christmas day. You prepare it, serve it, and I imagine, clean up. Well there you have it: "plan the meal".
Come to think of it, that is exactly what God did on Christmas two thousand years ago. He planned the meal. He sent the bread of Heaven down for us to eat. He invited everyone from the peasant to the king to come to his table and eat his meat. He even watched his meal be prepared, killed, and offered up for all men forever to partake of. Many turned up their noses at the sacrificial meal that God gave. I wonder how that makes God feel? I wonder if I will feel a teeny bit of what He feels if they don't like what I plan?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday's Devo - "Pick up Your Words and Follow Me."

Read 1 Sam. 3:1-19
I love the way God gives us tangible signs of spiritual things like: "the word of God was precious", "no open vision", "Eli had laid down", "his eyes were waxing dim and he could not see." In other words, the seer anointing that had been on Eli was being passed down to Samuel.
It even goes on to say that "before the lamp of God went out in the temple". God was doing a shifting of temples from Eli's line to Samuel's. In verses 4-14 Samuel is getting his first lesson in seership. I find it very encouraging that Samuel didn't even realize it was God's voice. How many times has God been speaking to me and I didn't perceive it till much later. I think God had it planned that way because now Eli knew there was a word from God and Samuel couldn't hold it back. Of all things, the first thing Samuel has to do is to rebuke his mentor and spiritual father. I think this was a precursor to what Samuel's ministry was going to be like.
God is about to make everyone afraid by the judgement that comes down on Eli and his house. Judgment begins in the house of the Lord with the leaders going first.
Apparently Samuel didn't have a very good night's sleep and in the morning he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. His ministry was just that: to open the doors of the house of the Lord. He brought back the presence and holiness of the Lord to the Temple.
Even though Samuel didn't want to tell Eli what God had said, because he honored him, he did. So Samuel grew and the Lord was with him, "and he let none of his words fall to the ground." That phrase is spoken of a lot in our house. How incredible to have that prophetic track record that every word you gave someone was exactly right and accomplished its purpose.
Lord, anoint our lips to speak only things that bring life, not empty words that would fall to the ground.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday's Devo - My vote - LIFE!!!

Read 1 Sam. 2:12-37
Eli had 2 sons: Hophni which means fists (which I guess means he was a handful) and Phinehas which means mouth of a serpent. They were wicked priests who used the office of God to further their own agenda. They ate the sacrifice that was suppose to be burned, cheated the people, had sex with the women who followed them, and basically treated God with contempt. Needless to say, God was not pleased with them and planned to kill them. God is very merciful until you start leading others astray and profaning what He calls holy. They were doing all this.
But then there was Samuel... the mirror opposite of them. As a child, he wore a linen robe and ministered to the Lord in a very wicked time. Every year his mother, Hannah, would make him a mantle or robe and bring it to him. Eli blessed her with the promise of many children and she had 3 sons and 2 daughters.
Eli had heard of all the wicked things his 2 sons were doing and rebuked them. He warned them that God would take their life if they didn't repent, but they refused to listen. They had no fear of God.
But then there was Samuel... the mirror opposite of them. He had God and man's favor. God sent a prophet to Eli to rebuke him for giving his son's more honor than he was giving the Lord. Because Eli allowed his sons to do this, the priesthood would be stripped from his family and all of his offspring would die young. The life that they would live would be full of sadness and grief and their children would die a violent death. What a curse! To prove this prophecy was true, both Hopni and Phinehas would die on the same day.
But then there was Samuel...the mirror opposite of them. He would be raised up a faithful priest who would serve God and do His will. His family would be established and they would be God's priests forever. They would serve annointed kings. What a blessing!!!
God puts before us life and death, curses or blessing, everyday. We make the choice. Lord, we choose You. Turn our hearts to desire the blessing, no matter how hard the sacrifice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday's Devo - God Heard

Read 1 Sam. 1-2:11
Elkanah was a man from Bethlehem who had 2 wives: Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was barren. Every year they took a pilgrimmage to Shiloh to sacrifice at the tabernacle. Elkanah gave each child and his wives meat from the sacrifice. Penninah would taunt Hannah to tears because she didn't have any children. Hannah cried out to the Lord and told him that if He would give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord. Eli was the priest and saw Hannah crying and praying in the temple. He thought she was drunk and rebuked her. She told him she was not drunk but pouring out her heart to the Lord. He told her God would give her what she prayed for. She believed him and was filled with joy.
They went home, Hannah became pregnant and had Samuel which means "God heard". She stayed home till Samuel was weaned (about 3 years old) then took him to the temple and gave him to Eli. She then breaks into this beautiful prayer about how God raises up the humble and lowly and puts down the proud and exalted. She proclaims God's power and strength. Then she and her husband go home without Samuel and he stays to serve Eli.
As a mother I can't imagine doing this. After not being able to have children and finally having your dream come true, you give it up. It would seem like this would be excruciating, but not to Hannah. She lived for this moment. She rejoiced because God gave her strength. She made a vow to the Lord and kept it. In 2:21 God gave Hannah 3 sons and 2 daughters to take the place of what she had given up. God is like that. When we give up something, He blesses us in proportion to what we give him only His return is so much bigger and better.
It's Christmas time and there are more needs this year than ever because of the economy. That means, we have more opportunities to give. I love it because like my pastor always says, "We never look more like Jesus than when we are giving." Lord, help us to open our hearts and give you everything.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday's Devo - Line Upon Line

Read Ruth 3:13-4:
Last night I started studying about winnowing wheat. This is a symbol of last day judgement. In the end God will winnow his wheat and cast the chaff into everlasting death and the wheat into everlasting life. In Jer. 15:7 winnowing is used to describe God's testing of the people"with a winnowing fork in the gates of the land." Two places associated with justice are used here: the threshing floor where the winnowing was done and the gate, which was the center of business and legal activity. Since Boaz was doing this at midnight, and midnight was also the time Samson took the gates of the Philistines and carried them on his shoulders and put them on top of the hill Hebron (which was the seat of witchcraft), then is that not a picture of what God will do to the spiritual doors and entrances of evil in the Judgment?
Back to the story: Ruth lay at his feet through the night and in the morning she rose up to go home. Not before Boaz gives her 6 measures of barley in her veil. Ruth takes home the good grain to Naomi. Naomi knew Boaz meant business and would tend to it right away. Boaz goes to the gate of the city to talk to the closer of kin. He offers him to buy Naomi's land which the man quickly agrees to do, until he is told that Ruth comes with it. He then changes his mind. It wasn't Ruth he was rejecting, it was the fact that he had to build up the name of Ebimelech, it would mar his own inheritance. Thank God, Boaz didn't care about his own inheritance. He redeemed Ruth just like God redeemed the Gentile to raise up an inheritance among us just like he did in the Jews. Boaz bought all that was Chilion's and Mahlons, to "raise up the name of the dead". I call that resurrection! Then the witnesses blessed Ruth. They prayed that her house be compared to Jacob's which brought forth the 12 tribes of Israel; and may she be famous in Bethlehem. (Interestingly she brought forth Jesus's line which made Bethlehem famous.) Then they prayed that she be like Pharez who was Judah's son, whose mother was Tamar. Another woman who went to great lengths to carry on her family line. All this line led to Jesus (read Matt. 1). This child brought Naomi life and joy. His name was Obed which means "servant". He served Naomi well and the rest of us.
Thank you Jesus for being our Kinsman Redeemer!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday's devo - Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh

Read Ruth 3: 1-12
I don't think I have ever realized that Boaz took 1 whole year to Ruth to marry him, or for Ruth to throw herself in his arms. Another interesting thing to note is that Boaz was the grandson of Rahab, the harlot in the Jericho story. So both of them were "outcasts" of society that had found favor with God and their fellow men. This makes it an even better picture of the Gentile being grafted into Jesus' line.

Naomi thinks it is time to find Ruth a home and she knows that Boaz will be winnowing barley tonight so she sends Ruth to get her man. It was the custom for the owner of the land or a trusted manager to sleep by the grain since the threshing floor was open to the air and easy to be stolen. They threshed at night because the wind was greater and the grain could more easily be separated from the chaff. This speaks to me of the day when God will reap the earth and separated the evil from the good. On this day Jesus will claim his bride. Notice that she comes to him, annointed with the oil of gladness. Oil was a sign of joy and the only time they did not annoint themselves was when they were in mourning. This is no time to mourn.

Naomi is a picture of the "law" thus she is the "mother-in-law". But, unlike what we think of normally of the law, she is pleasant, good, and helps Naomi. God's laws are good, pleasant, and a help to us when we obey them. Ps. 105 is full of all the wonderful benefits of following God's laws. In vs. 5, Ruth says she will do all Naomi tells her to do. The Bride of Christ in the end will be totally obedient to all God's laws.

Boaz awakes at midnight. Mat. 25:6 says, "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go meet him." At midnight the "Death Angel" came to the evil people in Egypt.

Ruth asks Boaz to "spread his skirt" over her because he is a near kinsman. In a Jewish wedding the groom will take his taliph (his robe) and put it over his bride's head to signify he will take care of her from now on. Only a brother-in-law is legally obligated to take his brother's wife. So Boaz was not obligated. He chose to redeem Ruth. But first there was this piece of land that needed to be settled......tomorrow.

Father, thank you that we have the Bridegroom to look forward to meeting, not the Death Angel. Sober us up to reach out to a dying world. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Just me "Shooting Off"

Yesterday, Dave and I took a concealed weapon's class at the gun club. Dave had been looking so forward to this day. He couldn't wait to shoot a pistol. I couldn't wait till it was going to be over. It was conducted in a small tin shack out in the middle of who-knows-where. There were 16 men, mostly Harley-Davidson lifers who owned an arsenal of guns and ammo and 3 women. We spent the first 4 hours listening to the 2 instructors rattle off the whole gun safety book by heart in the style of Saturday Night Live. They had it down to a fine art. Then they took us out to the rifle range. The women went first and I was by the Harley-Davidson/pool hall/red-neck/instuctor. Being A.D.D., I couldn't remember the safety from the release which was totally absurd in his eyes since he had showed me ONCE. His patience was about as long as a piece of hair turned sideways. He finally turned me over to a young volunteer (so that I wouldn't slow down his class) who was very patient and kind, but the damage was already done. I had started crying and couldn't stop. I somehow managed to shoot off the rest of my rounds and actually hit the huge green mountain in front of me. (They had taken away my target). I went back to the bleachers where Dave was and was so relieved when Dave said that was it and I wouldn't have to do that again. Well.....when they called the last group up there was room for one more so they made me come back up and shoot again. I would have rather been the target! I went up there only because I had no voice to say no because I still couldn't stop crying. So here we go again. This time I was at the other end by the other instructor. He was so kind and I hit the bullseye and the rest of the targets (there were 5). He gave me twice the bullets everyone else was given. I got home and still cried for 2 more hours. I couldn't understand why I couldn't get over this and I still can't. I know that I "stuff" everything until some insignificant thing busts a hole in my dam and the water comes spewing forth. Well, it is better when you are not in public when this happens but, since it was I hope God can use it. Maybe, just to soften that instructor's heart so he can be saved. I don't know, but I'll have to trust God on this one. Although, secretly, I hope I never have to see any of these people again.
The Psalms I read today says, "From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me, but they have never defeated me. But the Lord is good; he has set me free from the ungodly."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

From Pressure to Pleasure

I decided to let the week-end just be my reflections so ......
This week has been a week of falling down and God picking me back up. About 2 months ago, a friend of mine gave me a project to do that was "out of my box". He does woodwork and makes these beautiful bowls, pots, vases, etc. He wanted me to paint on them. I was reluctant, but finally agreed to try when he told me he would bring me 2 pots, one for me and one for him. Well, when he brought them to me there was only one and he wanted it back. He told me later he was going to give it to a lady friend of his. So I put this pot on my bar in my kitchen so I could study it, I went to the library and looked in books of other wood pots and I couldn't think of anything that could make the pot look better than it already was. But, out of desperation and the desire to "finish" it I started painting on it. After doing 3 sides of it I stopped. I hated it, but more than anything, I just wanted to be finished with it. It had become an albatross to me. I finally took it out of town for my friend, Anna to see it. She took one look and said, "I bet we could get that paint off." I was so discouraged, but she was relentless and drove me to Wal-Mart and bought fine sand paper and started taking off my hard work. She was right. Then she took me to a book store and we poured over books of pictures of woodwork. I was more discouraged than before. Finally I decided to give the pot back. All the paint, and some of the finish was off. I was going to tell him I just couldn't do it. I felt like a little child who had been sat on the piano bench to play Beethoven's 5th after one lesson. I could have done it if I had been given a pot to experiment on and make mistakes on.

Yesterday, I took the pot back to Mike and told him I was sorry, I just couldn't relax and do this knowing that I had to not only please him, but some person I didn't know also. I was afraid it would hurt our friendship, so I did a lot of praying about it. All the songs on my IPOD that day had been about not giving up. When I gave it back he was so kind. He refused to take it back. He said I could keep it and mess it up anyway I wanted it. He would make something else for that lady and I could take as long as I wanted. I felt totally set free. On the way home I got great ideas of what to do on that pot. I was amazed at the transformation in me. I quess that is how we feel when we put so much pressure on ourselves to perform for other people. I felt totally unable to do this for a grade. Now I can do it for fun.

Lord, set us free from trying to please other people and give us second chances to do things for You and use the gifts you have given us without the pressure.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday's Devotion - Reaping in the Right Field

Read Ruth 2:15-23
Boaz is such a gentle man. He tells his young men to let Ruth glean in the open field and to drop some for her on purpose. In Lev.23:22 it gives the law concerning reaping your harvest. You were not suppose to reap the corners or go back over your field to get any remaining produce. The corners and the excess was to go to the poor. Boaz was extending mercy to Ruth past the law. Isn't that what Jesus does for us when we are new to the things of God? He goes past the law and extends abundant mercy. Ruth gathered an ephath of grain which is 5 gallons worth. I would quess that a poor person might be able to glean that in a week! No wonder Naomi was surprised. When Ruth told her that it was Boaz's field, she was elated because he was a near relative. Boaz had instructed her not to glean in any other field but his. Naomi warned her to stay with his field also. She did; through the barley harvest and the wheat harvest.
This says to me that when we stay obedient to Jesus and stay on his path that he has made for us, we will have abundance. The grass always looks greener on the other side till we get there. Someone else's gift looks better that ours till we try to be them. We were all given a field to reap and glean in and it is safer, more fruitful, and definitely more rewarding to stay there. One of Christian's greatest temptations is to get out of their "field" into someone else's because they feel too quilty to say "no". A sign of maturity is when you know your calling and are confident in Jesus enough to know He will give you grace for what He has called you to, otherwise you are on your own. And doing things in your own strength is exausting and unproductive. It will rob you of your confidence and your passion.
Lord, show us our field and give us the wisdom to stay there till you move us on to new fields.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday's Devotion - Food from the Fields

I went out-of-town yesterday to meet my dear friend, Anna, in the booming metropolis of Antlers, Texas. Population: one Mc Donald's. I had a great time and am now back to study Ruth!
Read Ruth 2:1-14
Naomi's late husband, Elimelech had a relative named Boaz who was very rich. "Boaz" means "in him is strength". Later when they built the temple they named one of the two pillars "Boaz" and the other one "Jachin". Boaz was from the kingly line which Jesus would come from. Jachin was from a priestly tribe. Jesus is both king and priest and his kingdom will be built upon that concept.
Ruth goes out to glean the fields for food. She 'just happened' to go to Boaz's field. Boaz came out to see his workers and the first thing he does is speak a blessing over them. Then he notices Ruth and asked about her. They tell him what a hard worker she is and who she is staying with. Boaz tells Ruth to continue reaping with his maidens and when she gets thirsty to drink the water that he has provided for his workers. He also tells her she is protected there. She is humbled and grateful and wonders why he has singled her out to show such kindness. He tells her he has heard of her story and is impressed. He then gives her a most profound promise. He says in paraphrase: 'May God reward you completely for all you have given up to find refuge in God.' Then he extends an invitation for her to come and eat lunch with him. He says, "come and eat of the bread, and dip your morsel in the vinegar." Is that not the cross he was inviting her to?
This is a perfect picture of what salvation looks like. She is a foreigner who has chosen the God of the Hebrews. Boaz, as Jesus, presents himself to her and gives her the invitation to walk with him (reap in his fields). She agrees to do that. He gives her water (the Spirit) and food (the Word) dipped in vinegar (persecution; trouble). But he has promised her protection from her enemies. We are born sinners and foreigners. When we decide to choose God to be our god He introduces us to his Son, Jesus. Jesus offers us the invitation and we accept. He provides us with his Spirit, his Word, protection, and death to this life. It all comes dipped in trouble, persecution, and tribulation. Romans says that we glory in tribulation because it produces patience in our lives. God knows just what we need to make us perfect and complete. Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation, but fear not, for I have overcome the world."
At the end of verse 14 it says Ruth ate, was full, and left. Lord, we come to your Word to eat of you because you totally satisfy us. May we be made strong to do the task you have for us to do today. We will be back for more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday's Devotion - From Bitter to Barley

Read Ruth 1:15-22
I think it is noteworthy that Naomi said that Orphah had gone back to her people and her gods. Ruth made it clear to Naomi that she knew that choosing to go to Naomi's people was also choosing Naomi's peoples' god. That proclamation was Ruth's salvation confession. They traveled till they came to the "House of Bread" - Bethlehem. (That is exactly where we need to live when we come into salvation - God's Word.)
In verse 19 it says that "all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?" "Moved about them" in the Hebrew means "greatly agitated; made an uproar". I don't know why they were so upset; maybe it was because she brought a Moabite with her or maybe because she and her sons chose to leave when things got rough. Anyway, Naomi was very humbled and told them to call her "Mara" which means "bitter; heavy". She had left with her sons - her hope for an inheritance - and had come back with a Moabite woman who would not carry on her name. What I love about God is that no matter how hopeless the situation seems, He is not confined to our imagination. He supercedes our hopes and gives us something beyond our dreams. He did that for Naomi.
Notice that they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. Barley harvest has to do with great growth. Pentecost is the beginning of barley harvest and it signifies the beginning of a new spiritual harvest. For the children of Israel, the first Pentecost was at Mt. Sinai where God gave them his laws and betrothed Israel to himself. In the New Testament it signified God's gift of the Holy Spirit when God betrothed himself to the Church. In Ruth, it was the grafting in of the Gentile into the Holy line of Kings. Jesus came from Ruth's line. Ruth stands for the Church at large: Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, the whosoevers. Thank you God, that you came to save the whole earth!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday's Devo - Choose Life

Read Ruth 1:1-14
Yey, I'm back from Thanksgiving. I love to be with my family. I love the way it's growing (Caleb has a girl friend, Josh has a wife). But, it is good to be home. I wonder if it was hard for Ruth to leave everything she knew to follow Naomi. Where were Ruth's parents? Did they object to her leaving? What about her friends? Naomi must have been a wonderful mother-in-law. Oh yea, Naomi knew God! I sometimes forget what a difference we are to the world. We stand out like lights and either people are drawn to the light or they are repelled by it. The stronger our light the more the attraction or the rejection.
We learn a lot in the first verse: judges are ruling and the land is under God's judgement because of sin. So much so, that people were having to go live in lands of their enemy to just exist. Elimelech moved his family to Moab. Moab was one of the children born of an incestrial relationship between Lot and his daughter. "Elimelech" means "strong and mighty king" and "Naomi" means "pleasantness". They have 2 sons, Mahlon and Chilion whose names mean "sickly" and "destruction". Sounds a little like our heavenly Father, strong and mighty, who had children bent on sin and destruction. Anyway, Elimalech moves his family to Moab then dies there. Mahlon and Chilion find wives in Moab and live there for 10 years. I have always wondered why neither of them had children. I guess because sickness and destruction cannot produce life. Then the husbands both die. Ruth decides to go back to Bethlehem because she heard that God had visited his people again and given them bread. Funny how Bethlehem means "house of bread". The bread has returned. Her daughter-in-laws start out with her, but Naomi knows that she has no inheritance to offer them. She can't produce another husband for them so they might as well go back to what is familiar to them. They both cry and hug her, but only Ruth refuses to leave. Orpah leaves and Ruth remains. "Ruth" means "friend". (Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a brother.)
Ruth sees something in Naomi that is worth leaving everything for. She sees an inheritance that is better than the natural. She has "eyes to see". She chooses God. Orpah which means "stiff-necked" chooses what she knows; what is comfortable. Apparently, it wasn't great, but it was livable. What a shame. She could have had so much better. We have the same decision every day: choose life or choose death. "Life" is new and a little more risky sometimes because it requires faith, but the benefits are so much more weighty in eternal blessings.
Lord, open our eyes to see the difference between "life" and "death" in every decision we make today.