Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Read: Judges 11:1-12:5, John 1:1-28, Ps. 101:1-8, Pr 14:13-14 A general theme of the Judges is that the people did what was right in their own eyes. Today’s reading is an example of that. Jephthah is the son of a prostitute driven out of his house by his brothers who are the sons of the “real” wife. They don’t want to share their inheritance with Jephthah. But, when they are being attacked by the Ammonites they run ask Jephthah to help them. He agrees only if he can be their ruler which they consent to. Then he makes a rash promise to God. If God gives him the victory, he will sacrifice their first thing that comes out of his door. Apparently he had all kinds of animals in his house. God does give him the victory and instead of a lamb or ox coming out of his house, it is his only child, a daughter. The crazy thing to me is that she agrees to it and just asks for two months to go and lament the fact that she will never experience love or motherhood. I’m afraid if that would have been me, I would have gotten lost in those woods and never come home. She did and was killed. This goes right along with our Proverb: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” We are now in John and this is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. How could they comprehend these verses? How can we fully comprehend these verses? Jesus and this Word are the same. John was sent to usher this eternal Word which would dress in an earthly form. This Word was going to be so holy that John was to cleanse the people’s hearts so they could receive it. He did that in the act of baptism. His message was “Repent, for the Messiah is coming”. Lord, you are going to come back again and your message is still, “Repent, for the Messiah is coming”.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Read Judges 8:18-9:21, Luke 23:44-24:12, Ps. 99:1-9, Pr. 14:9-10 Gideon killed the two leaders of the Midian army because they had killed his brothers. Gideon started out as a great leader, but let the fame go to his head. He acknowledged God as their ruler which was a good thing, but then he made a gold ephod which snared the people into idolatry. An ephod was a decorative vest worn only by the priest. Gideon went back home where his many wives and concubines bore him 70 sons. One of his concubines bore a son named Abimelech. The land had 40 years of peace. Gideon died and the people fell back into sin. Abimelech went to his mother’s people in Shechem and roused them to make them their king since he was one of them. They agreed and gave him 70 pieces of silver to hire assassins to help him kill his 70 brothers. The youngest brother, Jotham, managed to escape. The people of Shechem had a ceremony to make Abimelech their king and Jotham slipped in and made an announcement. He reminded the people that his father, Gideon had saved them from the Midianites. Was this how they were showing their gratitude? He spoke down a curse upon Abimelech and them for their evil deed then ran. In Luke, the sky goes dark for three hours, Joseph of Arimathaea begs Pilate for Jesus body. He wraps it in linen and lays Jesus in his own tomb. He doesn’t stay there for long. The next day, his body is gone and discovered by the women who came to anoint his body with spices. What they found instead were two angels who told them Jesus was risen. When they told the disciples, no one would believe them except Peter. When we try to take things in our own hands like Abimelech did we leave ourselves open for attack and disaster. When we leave it all to God we get resurrection and life. It may look bad at the time, but left in God’s hands is always going to turn out good. He can take death and breathe life into it. God can do what we can’t. Lord, You are the resurrection and the life! We give you our future that You may breathe on us Your life.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Read: Judges 7:1-8:17, Luke:23:13-43, Ps. 97:1-98:9, Pr. 14:7-8 wolf and raven Gideon’s name means “a warrior” but today he gets a new name: Jerubbaal which means “Baal will contend”. The Midianites were big worshippers of Baal and were instrumental in teaching the Israelites to worship Baal with all its perverse sexual practices. Gideon had come up against them to fight but first God made him whittle down his men from 3200 to 300 so God would get the glory instead of Gideon. When Gideon needed encouragement, God sent him down to his enemies’ camp. When Gideon heard the dream and interpretation of the Midianite, he knew God was going to give him the victory. I love how God uses our enemies to encourage us. God told Gideon to place trumpets and empty jars with torches inside, in the hands of all of his men. Then he sent them out at night right when the guards were changing. They blew the trumpets, smashed the jars and lit up the sky with their torches. It was definitely the shock treatment. It sent out a fear and confusion into their camp that made them fight each other. They chased them through Ephraim and Manasseh’s land where they helped them. They captured Oreb and Zeeb which mean a raven and a wolf. We are these earthen jars with the Holy Spirit inside. The trumpets are our mouths proclaiming God’s Word. When we do this, we are broken and the Holy Spirit can come out and accomplish a victory. One of Jesus’ most profound statements was “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” If this could be our prayer every time we are offended we would walk in agape love. Another of Jesus’ statements on the cross that is the most misunderstood is “to day you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus wasn’t talking about heaven. He didn’t even go to heaven till his resurrection and he was the first to rise from the grave. So what is paradise? Paradise is a type of Eden. It is a place of future happiness. “To day” is not like an immediate time as we think of today. It could mean over time of God’s day which is 1,000 years. Time in Jesus terms is not time in ours. I think Jesus was talking about a state of rest that this man would go to wait for the resurrection of his body. The Lord reigns! Let the earth rejoice and may all the people see His glory!
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Read: Judges 6:1-40, Luke 22:54-23:12. Once again Israel has fallen into sin and once again they cried out to God. Even though they cried out to God, they worshipped Baal also and got mad when Gideon tore down the altar and the pole. God was very patient with them and with us. He was also patient with Gideon when he questioned if the angel was from God. We can all identify with Gideon who felt unqualified to do anything for the Lord and his desire for a sign. Gideon was always needing a sign and God always gave him one. He will do the same for us, too. God is the god of signs and wonder. He is always giving me signs that make me wonder! God even honored Gideon’s fear of tearing down the altar during the day. God was slowly building confidence in Gideon. God was getting Gideon ready for the victory. First he had to face persecution from his own people, misunderstanding, fear, and insecurity. Jesus faced all this before His final victory. I love how when Jesus was questioned that he would just agree to what they said. When they asked him if he was the son of God he answered, “You are right in saying I am.” Then when Pilate asked him if He were the king of the Jews, he answered, “Yes, it is as you say.” He did what they had tried to do to him for the last ten days…Jesus tricked them with their own words and made them testify the truth. Jesus was actually addressing the spirit of Satan that was inside them. Lord, thank you that you are Truth and Righteousness and you never deceive. Call us out as you did Gideon to do your will.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Read: Judges 4:1-5:31, Luke 22:35-53, Ps. 94:1-23, Pr. 14:3-4 Once Ehud died, the people went back into sin. God raised up Jabin to discipline them for twenty years. The commander of Jabin’s army was Sisera. When they cried out to God to deliver them, God gave them Deborah. Deborah was also a prophetess so she heard from God, then executed what see heard. She called out Barak to lead an army of 10,000 men to go up against Sisera’s 900 iron chariots. Barak refused to go without Deborah. She told him she would go but a woman would end up getting credit for the victory. I wonder if that wasn’t Jabin’s judgment for not trusting God alone to be with him. It turned out just as Deborah said. Sisera stopped to rest at an old friend’s tent and his wife, Jael took the tent peg and nailed it through his temple as he lay asleep. Israel got the victory and Jael the credit. Jesus is about to leave his disciples. He reminds them that when He was with them, they lacked nothing. Now they are going to need to be more careful and safe. Instead, they fall asleep in the garden when they were suppose to be praying and they watch as Jesus is taken from them by force to the high priest’s house. I can relate to both Barak and the disciples. All of them felt inadequate within themselves and lacked the discipline it took to be brave and fight when they needed to fight and pray when they needed to pray. Lord, help us in both areas. Make us strong warriors who know our God, and intercessors that can tap into Your power. You have become our fortress. and our God the rock in whom we take refuge.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Read: Judges 2:10-3:31, Luke 22:14-34, Ps. 92:1-93:5, Pr. 14:1-2 After Joshua was gone, Israel fell into sin. They went after foreign gods and intermarried with the very people God told them not to. Because of their rebellion, God sent their enemies to attack them. God used their enemies to tempt and try them. They oppressed them until they eventually cried out to the Lord, Then, God would raise up a judge to help the people defeat their enemies and turn back to Him. They would stay true to the Lord as long as the judge lived, but as soon as they died they would got right back into ways more corrupt than before. That is true in our own lives. When God rescues us, if our hearts don’t change, our deliverance will be very short-lived. Temporary peace or freedom will only be temporary if it doesn’t come from a deep relationship with Jesus. God will deliver us, but we have to stay close and not return to our same life style we had that got us into our pit. How easy is it for us to slip away? For Peter, it was just a few hours. He sits with Jesus and has the most important meal of his life then goes out and denies knowing Jesus three times. We have something they didn’t have in the Old Testament and that is the Holy Spirit. He is our power to stay a witness. He can keep us in the Lord and guide us in truth. We should not be living our Christian life on a roller-coaster but it should be going from glory to glory. The Holy Spirit makes that possible! Lord, thank you for the Holy Spirit - your gift to us. It is a very good gift!
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Read Josh. 24:1-33, Luke 21:1-28, Ps. 89:38-52, Pr. 13:20-23 Today’s reading is pregnant with nuggets. Joshua met with all the tribal leaders and officials of Israel. He did a recap of their history and how God had led them to this very place and given them the land. Then he gives them a choice to serve the living God or the gods of the Amorites. He has chosen for his family to serve God. The people all agree that they choose to serve God also. Joshua reminded the people of God’s judgment if they rebelled. Then he took a large stone to be a memorial to their decision to serve God. It would be a witness against them if they chose to rebel and a reminder of their promise if they obeyed. That rock was Jesus (1 Co. 10:4). He is the witness of our righteousness. Joshua’s bones were buried in the city of refuge called Shechem. It is the same piece of land that all the patriarchs were buried. Eleazar is buried in Gibeah which is 5 miles away. In Luke, Jesus talked about the stones of Jerusalem and how one day they would come down. He proceeded to tell them the signs of the end of time. There will be persecution, wars, false prophets, signs in the sky, storms and shakings. Then Jesus will come back in a cloud with power and great glory! Lord, we choose today to serve the Rock of Ages, the stone that the builders rejected. We choose to follow You!
Monday, April 21, 2014
Read Josh 22:21-23:16, Luke 20:27-47, Ps. 89:14-37 The three tribes on the other side of the Jordan were being reprimanded for building an altar to sacrifice on. The other tribes were ready to come and wage war on them. They explained that they were never going to sacrifice on their altar or worship it but that it was to remind them who their god was. They wanted their children to have a visible reminder of God. Phinehas, the priest heard their explanation and was pleased that they were not sinning against God so he went back and shared with the other leaders on the other side of the Jordan. Once again there was peace in the camps. Joshua was old and about to die so he delivered his parting words. He reminded them to cleave to the Lord and love him with all their hearts. He also warned them against marrying women from the nations they had driven out. The Sadducees try to trick Jesus into taking sides about the issue of the resurrection since they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. Jesus not only set them straight about the resurrection, but He told them not all people will make it. At the end of His speech He condemned them. They stopped asking Him questions after that. This makes me wonder how close I am willing to get to breaking God’s laws. The Gadites, Reubenites, and Manassites built an altar which was wrong, but their reasoning was right. The Sadducees were great reasoners of the law but missed the heart of God in it. God would rather have our total abandonment to our ways and acceptance of His rather than our good intentions. Lord, help us to be totally surrendered to Your will today.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Read: Josh. 21:1-22:20, Luke 20:1-26, Ps. 89:1-13, Pr. 13:15-16 The Levites were the last to get their inheritance. They were given cities within every other tribe. They were also given the cities of refuge so they were the ones to decide if a person was innocent of murder and should be allowed to take refuge in their city against the avenger of blood. Finally, everyone was in their place and they had successfully taken all the land God gave them. They had fulfilled everything God told them to do, they had peace from all their enemies and went home to enjoy the spoils of their conquests. Their peace was cut short when they found the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar which was a direct offense to God’s laws. The other tribes were appalled till they learned the truth, which we won’t read about till tomorrow. Jesus is teaching in Jerusalem these last ten days. He, as the Passover Lamb is being examined just as the temple lamb was being examined to see if it was spotless. The Pharisees and temple leaders are closely examining Jesus and his teaching to find some flaw that they can nail him with. They couldn’t; Jesus was the spotless lamb. They even send spies who pretended to be his followers to trick him with questions, but it was no avail. When he accused them of killing the prophets of God and now killing the chief messenger, they were determined to kill him lest the crowds turn against them. Offense always leads to murder. I see that happening all around me. People get offended because someone doesn’t believe just like they do so they set out to murder their reputation or their ministry. Woe to that person. How sad and how that hurts the reputation of Christ to the world. When we can’t look over an offense and forgive how can the world see Jesus in us? Lord, help us to forgive the offenses that come our way. Thank you for Your great forgiveness of our sins and offenses toward You.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Read Josh. 19:1-20:9, Luke 19:28-48, Ps. 88:1-18, Pr. 13:12-14 The last tribes received their land and Joshua got Timnath-serah which means “God will withhold a portion.” God always makes a place for us just as He did for Joshua and his family. In Luke, Jesus is about to come into his eternal inheritance. He sends his disciples to get a donkey and rides into Jerusalem on the path of the Temple lamb with would die for the nation on Passover. The crowd that was gathered for the celebration of this lamb couldn’t help but give their praises to the real Lamb of God as he came down the same path. When the people praise Jesus as the King, his disciples ask to stop them. Jesus answers them by saying if they don’t praise Him, then the rocks will. Scientists have proven that rocks hold the sound of everything they have “heard”. These rocks would have heard, “Let there by light”. How sad for Jesus to recognize that nature knew who he was, but the very ones he came to save didn’t. He wept over Jerusalem as he foresaw its future. He might have even quoted our Psalms for today. Then he cleansed the temple by throwing out the dishonest money changers. What we do on earth has great power in heaven. I wonder if he wasn’t cleansing heaven at the same time. Jesus went into the temple and started teaching. He was openly presenting himself to the ones that would kill him. Jesus knew that he went there to die so he was walking out his last days in His father’s will - the same place where he told his parents when he was 12 that He needed to be. Lord, may we do Your will and be about Your business.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Read: Josh. 16:1-18:28, Luke 19:1-27, Ps. 87:1-7, Pr. 13:11 Joseph got his lot but both the Ephramites and the children of Manasseh couldn’t drive out all the Canaanites so they dwelt among them and were their slaves. Since Ephraim and Manasseh were so large they needed more land than was allotted them. Joshua told them to go drive out the Canaanites from the mountains even though they were giants with iron chariots. The tribes of Joseph are types of the Gentiles which is an encouragement to us of how large they are how they were. They were told not to be afraid of the giants or their weapons. God is stronger. The tabernacle was set up at Shiloh which means “peace and prosperity”. Seven of the twelve had not yet gotten their inheritance and Joshua rebuked them for not taking their land. He told them to send three men from each of the seven tribes to go and divide the rest of the land into parts and tell him so he could cast the lot to see which part would be for each tribe left. They were to go walk the land, describe it, and write it in a book. So what was the significance of walking the land and describing it and writing the description in a book? When God gives us a promise we should do the same. We walk our land by praying about it and maybe actually walking around it while we pray if possible. Then we proclaim the victory and write down what we want to see. It takes faith to do all of these things, but now we have a tangible reminder of what we are expecting God to do. We put our trust in God and He will do His part. In Luke, Jesus was nearing Jerusalem. He knew that the people thought the kingdom of God would come quickly so he gave them a parable about a nobleman who went far away with the promise to return. He gave different servants different responsibilities if which they would be over. When he came back he judged them by how fruitful they had been with what he had gave them. To the one who sat on his responsibility he took it away and gave it to the one who had the most. God is coming back to find fruit on the earth. He is coming back for a harvest. Lord, help us to be busy doing the right thing. Let us not waste it doing what we think You want, but find out what You really want and do that.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Read Josh. 15:1-63, Luke 18:18-43, Ps. 86:1-17, Pr. 13:9-10 Judah gets her portion today. They were able to drive out all the inhabitants of their land except for the Jebusites in Jerusalem. “Jebusites” means “they will be trodden under foot”. Interesting that it would be Jerusalem where the enemy would stay. Jerusalem was the city where all the prophets were killed including Jesus and Paul. The New Testament says that death will be the last enemy that Jesus will put under his feet (I Co. 15:26). In Luke a rich ruler came and asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus first gave him something he could do, then He gave him something he couldn’t do…without God. Jesus perceived that his pious living was done in his own strength, to give up everything would take much faith which was what the ruler was missing. Without faith it is impossible to please God. He wasn’t saying it was impossible to be rich and be saved - it was impossible to be saved without willing to put everything in God’s trust. Then Jesus taught them that everything we give to God reaps great benefits in this life and the life to come. Lord, give us an undivided heart to love and serve You!
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Read Josh. 13:1-14:15, Luke18: 1-17, Ps. 85:1-13, Pr. 13:7-8 The tribes receive their inheritance…all except for the Levites. Their inheritance was the Lord and He owns all the land! Caleb has a request for Joshua. He is now 85 years old and still as strong as he was when he was a youth. He asks for the city of Hebron. Hebron is one of the most ancient cities. It became a Levitical city and a city of refuge. When David became king of Judah this was his royal residence, and he resided here for seven and a half years; and here he was anointed as king over all Israel (2 Sam 2: 1 4, 11; 1 Kings 2 2: 11). This was also the burying ground for all the patriarchs. Joshua gave it to Caleb because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly. I love that! In Luke, Jesus gives us parables to teach us not to ever give up praying. If we keep praying He will hear and avenge us of our enemy, the devil. Then He gave us a parable for those who trusted in their own righteousness and thought they were better than others. His answer to this man was to humble himself. If you exalt yourself, you will be brought low. If you humble yourself, God will exalt you. It goes right along with our Proverbs for the day: “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing; there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches. The ransom of a man’s life are his riches; but the poor heareth not rebuke.” There is nothing wrong with being rich, it is all the condition of your heart. The true riches are found in Jesus. Lord, thank you for being the most wonderful Father of all. Truly knowing You is better than anything the world has to give.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Read: Josh. 9:3-10:43, Luke 16:19-17:10, Ps. 83:1-18, Pr. 13:4 I wonder how differently this story would have gone if everyone would have done what was right? What if the men of Gibeon had humbled themselves to tell them the truth and begged for their lives and asked to be one of them? And I wonder what God would have said if Joshua had asked Him? I can only guess that God would have spared the Philistines like He did Rahab and they would have been able to live under God’s laws and not been subjected to being slaves. But, instead the Gibeon’s used manipulation and lies to save themselves, and the leaders of Israel took matters into their own hands. What a lesson to us. Truth is always the best option even if it means suffering for it. God is on the side of truth and He is a great defender of His truth. His wisdom is better than man’s greatest devises. Now the Israelites were bound by a covenant to defend Gibeon against the five nations that came to fight it. God delivered them with huge hailstones and extra light. The five kings were bound in a cave until they could spoil their cities. Jesus said in Mark 3:27 “No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” This is a picture of what Jesus was teaching. Once they bound the kings, they could spoil their cities. Once we bind the strong man in our lives then the little demons are easy. Strong men are principalites. There are seven of them: lying, haughtiness, envy, witchcraft, error, slumber, fear, and perversity. All other demons branch off of these. (Pr. 21) Notice that before Joshua killed the kings, he put them under his feet then they were hung on trees. Jesus came to put the enemy under His feet and he did on the cross. We are to do that to the enemies in our own lives. Lord, show us the principalities that war against us that we may remember that they are already under Your feet - defeated!
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Read: Josh. 7:16-9:2, Luke 16:1-18, Ps. 82:1-8, Pr. 13:2-3 The first city the children of Israel came to was Jericho. They were to take nothing from it. All the spoils were the Lord’s. This was to be their tithe or first fruit that went to God, but Achan wanted an ornate robe and some silver and gold so he took it and hid it. This brought a curse on Israel so that when they went to defeat Ai which was just a little town, they were defeated. Thirty-six men were killed. They couldn’t figure out why they lost so they asked God and God told them. Achan was killed by stoning. Now the Israelites could go back and defeat Ai. This time they could have the plunder themselves. After the battle Joshua gathered all the people and took a stone and copied all the laws again on stones and read them out for all the people to hear. The inhabitants of the promise land got together and decided to go as one against Israel. We’ll see how that went later. In Luke we have another shrewd man like Achan. When he found out he was going to lose his job he went around bribing all his bosses clients so he would have some leverage with them when he was out of a job. Jesus said about them about honest dealings in this world. If we are honest with our own money and dealings, then we will be honest with God’s money. A theme for today’s reading is “be sure your sins will find you out.” Lord, help us to deal righteously and fairly in our daily lives and be generous towards people and You.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Read Josh. 5:1-7:15, Luke 15:1-32, Ps. 81:1-16, Pr. 13:1 When God does something supernatural for us, we feel so strengthen in the Lord and the devil’s camp is scared of us. Faith is the strongest weapon against fear. Their enemies heard of what God did at the Jordan river and they were too scared to face the Israelites. I love that we can make the devil afraid to face us! Right after that miracle, God told them to circumcise the people. This brought pain and caused them to have to wait till they were healed. So, God moves in a big way, then we are put through a purification process that is painful and causes us to have to wait. We need to be emptied out of ourselves and the past so we can carry the new victory into our future. That process is both painful and slow. This is where we tend to get discouraged but if we realize it is part of the process we can rejoice! This is where God rolls away the shame of our past. God renamed the place Gilgal which means “roll away”. God was taking away the shame of being slaves in Egypt and all the humiliation and pain. They got to eat bread made from the wheat of the promised land and the day they ate from their new provision, the manna stopped. The manna had been God’s promise of a land flowing with milk and honey. Now they could eat these fruits themselves. Before they got to Jericho, Joshua met a man with a drawn sword. When Joshua asked if he was on their side or the enemies, he said neither - he was a commander in the Lord’s army. It is a revelation that God is not against anyone. He is for his plan for His creation and against His enemy - the devil. This man came with a message for Joshua. It was God’s strategy to fight the nation of Jericho. Joshua followed it to a tee and they won. Lord, you tell us in today’s Psalms that if we would just listen to You and do Your ways, then You would quickly subdue our enemies. May we be wise sons who heed our father’s instructions.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Read: Deut. 3:1-4:24, Luke 14:7-35, Ps. 80:1-19, Pr. 12:27-28 God told Joshua that He was going to magnify him in the sight of the people but it doesn’t let us know if God told him how. The next thing we know is Joshua is telling the people to let the ark go first and when the priest’s feet touch the Jordan then the water will stop flowing and they will be able to walk over. How did Joshua know this would happen? I guess God told him it would. Anyway, it happened just as he said and just like it had when they crossed the Red Sea. The crossing of the Read Sea was their salvation. The crossing of the Jordan was their victory. Jesus told a parable about humility. It was directed toward the Pharisees. They were always lording their laws over the people and Jesus. They loved the recognition of man and were full of pride. Jesus was trying to get them to humble themselves now so God could exalt them later. What a great lesson. How many times does God have to remind me that I can do nothing without Him? I can relate to the children of Israel and how they rode this roller coaster of faith. Lord, help make our ways straight. We humbly tell You that we need You.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Read: Deut. 33:1-29, Luke 13:1-21, Ps. 78:65-72, Pr. 12:25 Moses gave each tribe their blessing from God. I love what it says about Benjamin who is a type of the church. “…The Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.” It makes me thing of how Jesus described John when it said he was the beloved who in John 13:23 rest his head against Jesus chest. At the end of the blessings God said, “Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord?” What a good reminder! In Luke, we see the great mercy of Jesus. He gives a parable about the fig tree which is Israel and how he has looked for fruit for three years and not found it. God wants to destroy it, but Jesus, our merciful High Priest want to work the soil one more year and fertilize it, then cut it down. He is hoping that by then it will be a good tree worth saving. Jesus meets a woman who has been sick for 18 years. He heals her and it just happens to be the Sabbath. The religious leaders are indignant that he would do this on the Sabbath. Jesus rebukes them comparing her to their donkeys. He humiliates them, but the general people love it. Then Jesus talks about the kingdom. It will start really small, but will grow out of control and no one will be able to stop it… not even the religious leaders of the day. Lord, may Your kingdom come today in our lives.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Read: Deut. 32:28-52, Luke 12:35-59, Ps. 78:56-64, Pr. 12:24 Moses finishes his last words to the children of Israel. It is not the best word because they are a rebellious people who were prone to wander from God. They will enter into the promised land and Moses will enter into death. It seems like a stiff punishment for Moses who faithfully led God’s people through the wilderness and makes this one mistake. This mistake was an important one. When Moses first left Egypt and his people had no water, God told him to strike the rock and Moses did. Water came out and the people were saved. We learned in 1 Co. 10:4 that that Rock was Christ. Jesus was struck once for our sins - he died once. To strike the rock again was to say that Jesus death was not enough. He was to speak to the rock, not strike it. Moses struck it twice out of anger. His act of anger messed up God’s picture for eternity so Moses sentence was death. Also, Moses stood for the law and the law has to die so that grace can prevail. Moses had to die and Joshua who stands for Christ had to prevail. Luke tells us that to whom much is given, of him much will be required. We could say that about Moses also. He was given a great responsibility, but with that came great experiences and grace. Jesus talks to us about what He came to do - start a fire. If we want to follow Him, we must also be baptized into that fire. It is a death to ourselves and a life to Him. One day He is coming back and we are to be ready. Thank you for being our eternal Rock.
Monday, April 7, 2014
Read Deut. 31:1-32:27, Luke 12:8-34, Ps. 78:32-55, Pr. 12:21-23 Moses is about to die and God gives him His last words. God admonishes them three times to be strong and courageous because He will give them the land. He also tells them that they will forget God and fall into sin, but when they repent, God will be there to pick them up. God gave Moses a song that was to be memorized to remind them of God’s plans and man’s ways. It was to be a road map back to Him when they strayed away. Every seven years they were to read the whole law at the Feast of Tabernacles. In Luke, we are in the middle of one of Jesus’ sermon. He gives us some key nails to hang our lives on. One of them is that confessing God is vital to our future. Another is that we don’t ever have to worry about what to say, because we have the Holy Spirit who will tell us what needs to be said. A third great nail is that life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things we possess. Our abundance lies in our relationship with Him. But if we seek Him first, then all those things will be added. But, my favorite is found in verse 32: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Lord, help us to seek Your kingdom first today.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Read Deut. 29:1-30:20, Luke 11:37-12:7, Ps. 78:1-31, Pr. 12:19-20 God is so merciful and forgiving. He is always giving us chances to repent and be restored. He told the children of Israel that if they stopped following Him and fell into the curses of worshipping other gods, they could repent and He would restore them and bless them. He told them that what He was commanding them to do was not too hard or beyond their reach. This covenant would be near them; in their mouth and their heart. The choice was life or death. Sadly, they chose death. In Luke, Jesus is invited to eat with a Pharisee. He spent the whole time rebuking them and pointing out their wrong doctrine. He said ‘woe to you’ five times. I bet he wasn’t invited back. In fact, it said that they were insulted and fiercely opposed him after that. Jesus left and warned the crowd of the teachings of the Pharisees. He told the people not to be afraid of those who kill the body because they can’t affect what happens after death. Our Psalms for today gives us the condensed version of the wilderness travel. They forgot God so many times, yet God wooed them with grace. When they refused to obey, God killed them. Lord, we choose to obey. Give us eyes to see and a heart to follow You.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Read: Deut. 28:1-68, Luke 11:14-36, Ps. 77:1-20, Pr. 12:18 I love to read the blessings but it would take an idiot to want the curses. To say they are extremely opposite would be a fair assumption. It makes you wonder how they could hear the blessings and not want them. But, they did hear them and they didn’t do what it took to keep them. How like them we are. We know these are our blessings, yet we choose to live in some of the curses because of fear, our past, unbelief, etc. By the time Jesus came to earth, the nation of Israel had so fallen into the curses side that He called them an evil generation. He told us how to stay full of light - keep our vision full of light. That means to watch what you let into your understanding. When you meditate on the Word of God and on His ways, then everything you see is from God’s perspective. What is going on in the world doesn’t affect you because You know who holds the universe and orchestrates the affairs of man. God’s ways are holy and right. We can trust in God. Lord, we choose to walk in your blessings even in the midst of a perverse generation just as You did. We depend totally on Your grace and mercy.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Read: Deut. 26:1-27:26, Luke 10:38-11:13, God was always wanting them to remember where they came from and how He had delivered them and made them to be His peculiar people. When they came into the promised land, God didn’t want them to forget His commandments. When they passed over the Jordan into their land they were to set up stones as an altar and sacrifice on them to remind them of what God had done for them. Then he divided the tribes and put half of them on Mt. Gerizim to proclaim the curses and the other half on Mr. Ebal to pronounce the blessings. Today we read the curses. The first curse and the first of the ten commandments is that they were to make no graven image. This was so important to God that they have no preconceived ideas about what God looked like because when He did send the image of himself in Jesus. He wanted them to be able to accept it. Anything else would have been so less than the perfect Christ. In Luke we start with the story of Martha and Mary. I’ve heard sermons praising Mary and others that defend Martha, but Jesus was trying to point out that worrying and serving paled in comparison to sitting at Jesus’ feet. That is beneficial and eternal. Then we find the disciples asking Jesus how to pray. The NIV is my least favorite translation and today is a great example why. In Jesus prayer he prayed for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. The NIV leaves out that part which is so vital to the picture Jesus was giving. We are to pray heaven down to earth. In Jesus simple prayer he dealt with seven things: admiration to God, the kingdom, God’s will, our needs, forgiveness, temptation, and our power over evil. Then He gives us a parable of how prayer plays out on earth. We have to ask in order to see God move. We have to seek to find the hidden treasures of God and we have to knock on doors before they will be opened. When we do, God promises that He will never disappoint us. Lord, thank you for the wonderful privilege we have in prayer. Remind us to seek You minute by minute.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Read: Deut. 23:1-25:29, Luke 10:13-37, Ps. 75:1-10, Pr. 12:12-14 Laws, laws, laws! Romans 7:14 says that the law is spiritual so all these laws have spiritual meanings to us. There were three groups of people who would not be permitted into the congregation of God. The ones who had had their reproduction parts cut off or crushed, which just meant that they would never be able to produce life. These are people that are predestined to evil. (Ro. 8:29 and Eph. 1) The second group were those whose parents were married. They had no legal father. These are those who never let God be their father. The last group was the Ammonites and the Moabites because they wouldn’t give the Israelites food and water and they hired a sorcerer to curse God’s children. These represent those who are Satan’s followers who delve into the occult and worship the devil. God was specific in how His children treated one another. They were not to take interest from one another if they loaned anything. They were to keep their word to each other and to God. The Word of God does not conflict itself. In the verses about divorce it says that you may divorce and remarry but in the New Testament it says that you will be committing adultery if you do. Which is right? Both, but you need to understand the context of the New. In the New Testament, men were sending their wives away without a bill of divorcement so they were not legally divorced. If they married another man then they would be committing adultery because they were still married to the first. The Old tells you to give your wife a bill of divorcement then she will be free to remarry. God’s way it seek Him about who to marry and when to divorce. He will guide you. God also had laws to take care of the poor and the hired servants. We should do what Jesus said and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Lord, we rejoice that our names are written in the book of life. Help us to be a good Samaritan today.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Read Deut. 21:1-22:30, Luke 9:51-10:12, Ps. 74:1-23, Pr. 12:11 God made sure that every life had an atonement for it even for a stranger whose dead body was found in a field. God made provision for a strange wife, and the first born of the hated wife. I wonder how different out world would be if we stoned rebellious teenagers and people that had sex outside of marriage. God was teaching them holiness and respect for one another. He was also teaching them to be responsible for one another. If they saw their neighbor’s ox had gotten out of the pen, they were to rope it down and keep it for their neighbor and restore it back. God hates mixture and loves purity and honesty, so He told them not to sow their vineyard with different seeds, or to plow their ox with their ass. Women were not to wear men’s clothing and visa versa. We are not to mix God’s things with the world. In other words, we are not to compromise and defile our conscience. It’s not about the law, it’s about our heart and relationship with God. In Luke, Jesus encountered people who were not willing to sell out. They gave him good excuses why they could’t follow Him. Jesus warned them of starting their walk with the Lord then looking back and missing their past life-style. These people are not fit for service in the kingdom. Lord, may we be fit for service in Your kingdom. Show us any compromise we have and cleanse us.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Read Deut. 18:1-20:20, Luke 9:28-50, Ps. 73:1-28, Pr. 12:10 God made sure the priests were provided for so He set up laws about what part of the meat to be sacrificed would go to them. God also heard their request for Him not to speak to them again in the fire like He did on Mr. Horeb so God promised to raise up prophets that would hear from God and speak what they heard to the people. He warned them against following false prophets who got their messages from Satan through occultist means. God expanded the number of cities of refuge because he didn’t want any innocent people to die. God cares about justice. When they were up against nations that were more equipped and more powerful than they, the priests were to tell the people not to be afraid. For God was going with them and He was the one who was going to fight the battle, not them. There were three situations that should keep a person from fighting in the battles: if they had built a new house and not dedicated it, if they had planted a new vineyard and hadn’t been able to eat anything from it., and if he had betrothed a wife and had not been able to take her legally. Dedicating a new vineyard or a new house, or marrying a new wife have to do with salvation. It would not be a good idea to risk a man’s physical life if he didn’t have eternal salvation. First, get them saved, then send them off to war and maybe off to die. I think we should make salvation be the litmus test of whether we let anyone enlist in the armed services. Wouldn’t that change things? When they fought these heathen nations, they were not to let one of them escape. God wanted them obliterated from the earth so that their sin would not pollute Israel. In Luke, Jesus is getting closer to his death. He reminds his disciples more often that he is about to die. When they can’t deliver the boy from the demon, Jesus is upset because they are not able to do these things while He is with them, so how are they going to do them when He leaves? When they report someone else casting out demons, Jesus tells them no t worry because those that are for them are not their enemies. We could stand to learn this lesson. Just because someone is not from our church or our ‘religion’ doesn’t disqualify their gifts or position in the body. Lord, help us to love the whole body and work together to fight against our real enemy, the devil.