May 13, 2021

1 Samuel 14:1-52

The more we read about Jonathan, the more we fall in love with this young man. He wasn’t one of those guys who sat around and played it safe, he had a heart to take steps of faith, he was confident in God’s victory over Israel’s enemies.

We’re blessed and impressed by his armor bearer as well.

1 Samuel 14:7 (NKJV) “So his armorbearer said to him, ‘Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.’”

One day they mosey on out, Jonathan doesn’t tell dad, the king, because there’s too much red tape involved. They just go out to see what the Lord will do, I love Jonathan’s reasoning:

1 Samuel 14:6 (NKJV) “Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few.’”

He wasn’t sure, but he knew it was possible. Jonathan knew that the God of the universe didn’t need the help of man, he knew that it wasn’t a matter of numbers, God could win with many or with few. So Jonathan sets a “fleece.” Everyone knows that the one on higher ground has an advantage. Jonathan said, if they call us up (from man’s perspective a disadvantage on our part), it’s the Lord and He will give us the victory. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened…and things began to stir, even the earth began to shake (1 Samuel 14:15). God honors obedient steps of faith.

Saul finally begins to move; the Philistines were fighting among themselves, and the Israelites who had previously defected, returned.

1 Samuel 14:23 (NKJV) “So the LORD saved Israel that day, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven.”

Earlier in the day King Saul had forbidden the soldiers to eat anything, placing a curse on any of them who did. Jonathan was unaware of that and helped himself to honey. Afterwards one of the guys informed him of the king’s orders, and Jonathan thought the king’s command was foolish (he was right). Later when the Lord wasn’t speaking to Saul, the lot selected Jonathan as the reason for God’s silence. I have a hunch either (A) God wasn’t in the lot selection, or (B) God chose Jonathan only to have the men protect him from his foolish father. Maybe then Saul would learn from his son.

Can you believe Saul was willing to kill his son Jonathan for eating honey…after all he’d done? Something was seriously wrong.

1 Samuel 14:45 (NKJV) “But the people said to Saul, ‘Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the LORD lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.’ So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.”

God gave Israel the victory, and he used Jonathan in a great and mighty way.

I agree wholeheartedly with the words of Warren Wiersbe, “Jonathan was the true leader in Israel, not Saul. The contrast between the two is striking. Saul was sitting while Jonathan was attacking the enemy. Saul trusted his growing army, but Jonathan trusted God and did not depend on numbers (1 Samuel 14:6). Saul watched things happen, but Jonathan made things happen. Saul tried to impress people with an oath, but Jonathan did what was necessary to fight the battle. Saul weakened the army; Jonathan strengthened the army and challenged it to new victories.”

John 7:31-53

There was a lot of talk amongst the people, as to who Jesus was. Some said He was the Prophet (John 7:40; Deuteronomy 18:15, 18), others said He was the Christ (John 7:41), He was actually both. In the end, the crowd was swayed away by the selfish and envious leaders. They should have listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit and taken the evidence to heart – the miracles Jesus did, the words He spoke, the love He had. If only they had investigated just a little, they would have discovered that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, just as the Scriptures had prophesied. We all have that personal choice to make, let’s not be swayed in the wrong direction by the tidal waves of the world.

The religious leaders sent officers to get Him. Jesus addressed the non-believers:

John 7:34 (NKJV) “You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.”

Contrast that statement with these:

Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

John 14:3 (NKJV) “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

They couldn’t understand Jesus’ words, for they were deaf and disobedient; they knew He spoke powerfully, but were not willing to humble themselves before Him and believe.

It was the Feast of Tabernacles, the time when the Jews celebrated God’s sustenance in the wilderness. On the last day of the feast when they poured out the water, symbolizing the way God had given them water in the wilderness (Exodus 17:1-6) Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink…he who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 

It was an invitation to salvation and satisfaction. Only Jesus can save and satisfy our thirst, not religion, riches, or other relationships, just Jesus. When we finally get this truth, by faith, we’ll find the “flow,” by the Person of the Holy Spirit, life will just “flow,” with power and life and love for others. After Jesus was crucified, died, and glorified, the Holy Spirit arrived to empower us. To walk in the Spirit is our only hope to live that victorious Christian life (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18).

When the officers returned to the chief priests they asked, “Why have you not brought Him?” Their answer is epic:

John 7:46 (NKJV) “The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!’”

Can you imagine what it must have been like to “be there?” To hear Jesus teach? His love, sincerity, truth, and anointing? The Pharisees never game Him a chance, but there’s almost always an exception. Nicodemus was different he was just and objective…God was working in his heart. 

We know where Jesus is from for we’ve searched the Scriptures. One day everyone will know where Jesus was from, that Jesus wasn’t from Galilee, He was born in Bethlehem, He came down from heaven, and He fills all eternity.

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 109:1-31

This Psalm of David is one of the most detailed imprecatory Psalms that we have.

David’s heart is wounded within him (Psalm 109:22), the mouth of the wicked has spoken against him, and others are believing those lies. I’ve always loved David’s words in:

Psalm 109:4 (NKJV) “In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer.”

Warren Wiersbe said, “When people have lied about you, spoken hatefully to you, and rewarded you evil for good, you would benefit from reading this psalm. When your heart is wounded within (v. 22) and there is no way to set the record straight, take it to the Lord and tell Him how you feel.”

David prayed for justice. He prayed that God would deal harshly with his accuser, and his accuser’s children, that God would remember their sins, that they’d reap what they’d sown.

It’s okay to tell God your heart, and even share with Him how you feel, but Jesus has also commanded us to do something very different:

Bless those who curse you.

Do good to those who hate you.

Pray for those who treat you miserably.

Love your enemies.

Matthew 5:43–44 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

David gave himself to prayer, but not for his enemies, against them. Let God deal with them, pray for them. Maybe they’ll get saved. If not, vengeance is His, He will repay.

As God’s children we can echo David’s closing words with confidence:

Psalm 109:30–31 (NKJV) “I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yes, I will praise Him among the multitude. 31 For He shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those who condemn him.

Amen. Thank You Jesus!

Proverbs 15:5-7

V 5 – This is another VERY common principle in the Proverbs…as God tries so hard to hammer this home. How we need to be wide open to our Father’s instruction, to be receptive of Godly correction.

The fool thinks little of it, he despises it, while the prudent values it and takes it to heart!

It often starts with our earthly father, depending on the type of dad you had, and then it flourishes with the instruction and correction of our heavenly Father.

Ray Comfort said, “A Father has an intuitive love for his children. He wants what’s best for his own flesh and blood. He teaches them that fire burns, that water drowns, and that speed kills. Only a fool doesn’t listen to advice provoked by love and given for our own good.”

V. 6 – Here’s a question for you, “What would you rather have, trouble or treasure?”

I’m sure all of you would vote for treasure, right? Especially the treasure beyond measure, the Spiritual treasure that can never be taken away in all of time and eternity.

This passage speaks not just of some treasure, but in the house of the righteous there is MUCH treasure. This is the mom and dad who are saved and serving the Lord (the Joshua 24:15 family) – may this be what we’re laying up…not mere “revenue.”

This is why Jesus said in: 

Matthew 6:19–20 (NKJV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

V. 7 – Definitely related to:

Proverbs 15:2 (NKJV) “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”

Proverbs 15:7 (NLT) “The lips of the wise give good advice; the heart of a fool has none to give.”

The sin of the wicked is not always that they pour out foolishness (v. 2); sometimes it’s that they have nothing to say (v. 7).

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 12, 2021

1 Samuel 12:1-13:23

Samuel makes it clear to Israel (and to us) that the transfer of power from the LORD as king, to Saul as king was not His perfect will. God allowed it, and would use it, but if only the people had simply yielded to the LORD as King, with His Word, His judges, and His priesthood, what a blessing it would have been.

Samuel has been a solid prophet, never in it for the profit, he even challenges the people to witness against him if he’d ever cheated or oppressed them (he never had) (1 Samuel 12:3-4).

Samuel points out the fact that God had been faithful to them, throughout their history – in His redemption from Egypt, during their wandering in the wilderness, and all throughout the time of the Judges – but they were worn down, and caved in to the ways of the world. We read in:

1 Samuel 12:12 (NKJV) ”And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king.”

So God gave them the human king they desired, as a matter of fact, that’s the meaning of Saul’s name “desired,” but God clearly warned them through Samuel. C. S. Lewis said, “There are two types of people in this world, those who say to God, ‘Your will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Ok, have it your way if you insists.’” Israel was now the latter, in respect to government.

We usually think of Elijah when it comes to changing the weather, but Samuel was able to do so as well. When he prayed there was thunder and rain. So the people feared the LORD who sent the storm as a sign. Samuel’s heart was that the people would trust the LORD. The storm sign worked a little bit, the people fearfully asked Samuel to pray for them, something he was more than willing to do.

1 Samuel 12:23 (NKJV) “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.

Did you catch that? Samuel saw it as sin if he didn’t pray for the people and teach them God’s Word. What a heavy responsibility God’s servant leaders have!

Samuel’s warning is clear and concise – if the people did not serve the LORD, God would sweep them away…including their king (1 Samuel 12:24-25). Most of us know what it means for a sports team to be swept. Here we see it also happens to nations and their leaders.

It didn’t take long for things to begin to stir in the land, just a few years and the Philistines were in Israelite territory (see map below; notice the location of Geba). Jonathan was the brave one, he attacked the Philistines, who mustered up a huge army in retaliation. Saul is sweating bullets because he’s completely lost sight of the fact that when God is on our side, the enemy is always outnumbered. He was getting nervous, anxious, and impatient; he even broke God’s law by offering a sacrifice (something only the priests were allowed to do).

The LORD then showed Samuel the future. One day the kingdom would be stripped from Saul and given to a man whose heart was right. Samuel the prophet spoke:

1 Samuel 13:14 (NKJV) “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

If only Saul would have obeyed God’s Word – it’s as simple as that. He had an amazing son waiting in the wings, and it didn’t matter that the soldiers of Israel didn’t have the best weapons man could make, they had the maker of man as their weapon. God help us, help me to simply obey God and His Word.

Setting of 1 Samuel; ESV Study Bible

John 7:1-30

One of the things that stands out to me as I read the Gospel of John is simply the way Jesus never did anything OR said anything contrary to His Father’s will. At this point in His life, (it’s about 6 months before He is crucified) Jesus is in the area of Galilee. The Jewish leaders had Him on their hit-list, so Jesus was laying low…His time had not yet come.

I wonder if His brothers wanted Him dead because they were trying to push Jesus to go to Judea. At this point they didn’t believe in Him; after His death and resurrection we know that James and Jude will come to faith, and be used in a mighty way, but now they were the epitome of Mark 6:4.

When Jesus came, He told truth; the world hated Him for it. Make no mistake about it, even though we’re only motivated by love and long for people to be saved and blessed, they hated Him, so they’ll hate us too…if we speak truth (John 15:18).

Eventually Jesus goes up to Jerusalem, and about the middle of the feast He enters the temple precincts and openly teaches the people. There was a lot of debate and heated discussion over Him (just as there is today). The religious leaders marveled at His knowledge, considering the fact that He had never attended their universities. Jesus explained to them that He had been given His truth from the Top – that His Father gave Him His words and doctrine. Jesus also explained to them that if they were open to doing the will of God, they would know that for themselves that Jesus spoke authoritative truth. 

That’s the key isn’t it? If we come to God without an agenda, without preconceived ideas, if we come to God completely open to Him, we will know, His Word is truth, that Jesus is indeed the Christ, and this is how I am to live my life. Not according to my own inclinations or according to the influences of the world…but according to His flawless Word.

Jesus truthfully exposed the way they were disobedient to God in that they wanted to kill Him for healing on the Sabbath. Their only response was to demonize Jesus (John 7:20).

The people noticed that Jesus was speaking openly and was not arrested – had the religious leaders changed their minds about Him. Was He the Messiah? Tragically it came down to familiarity. Have you ever heard that saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”? Because they knew a bit about His upbringing they rejected Him…but they couldn’t kill Him yet – His hour had not yet come.

It was true for Him and it’s true for us – we’re invincible, until God says, “It’s time.”

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 108:1-13

A large part of David’s battle plan had to do with prayer and praise.

Apparently this Psalm was written after a momentary setback or struggle with Edom. We read in:

Psalm 108:10–11 (NKJV) “Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?”

David’s wondering, Lord, if You don’t help us, who can? 

So he prays. He praises. He’s not anxious or afraid, his heart is steadfast (Psalm 108:1). He’s not sweating he’s singing. He acknowledges the greatness of God’s mercy and truth – this is not something we earn, we are promised victory because of the covenant we have with gracious and loving God.

David longs for God to be exalted in their victory.

David knows God loves Israel (he call them His “beloved”)

David knows that without God they can do nothing, but with God there’s nothing they can’t do. Psalm 108:13 is the Old Testament version of Philippians 4:13.

Psalm 108:12–13 (NKJV) “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. 13 Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”


Proverbs 15:4

Wow – how different we can be – a “Tree of Life” for someone, or the one responsible for breaking their spirit…crushing their heart, where they lose all confidence, enthusiasm, or even at times that motivation to live!

The difference is found in that tongue, among us, the words that we speak.

Will we be wholesome, or will we be perverse? True or false? From above or below? Building up or tearing down?

Ephesians 4:29 (NLT) “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

The wholesome tongue is literally a “healing” tongue – where your words are a source of healing, strength, and growth to those you speak to.

This can only happen when you get a good grip on grace and point people to Jesus, which is why Charles Bridges said, “…when there is grace in the heart, there will be healing in the tongue.”

Hurt people hurt people, healed people heal people.

The Tree of Life is mentioned 10 times in the Bible (Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24; Proverbs 3:18;11:30; 13:12; 15:4; Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14). We lost it in the Garden of Eden, a form of it is made available after the Garden of Gethsemane, it will be enjoyed in Heaven’s Garden, but in the meantime this Tree of Life is planted in someone’s heart whenever they receive the Gospel – those words of life.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 11, 2021

1 Samuel 10:1-11:15

Samuel anointed Saul as king, pouring oil upon his head (symbolic of the Holy Spirit). Samuel also kissed Saul as a beautiful expression of love and favor. There’s no doubt that Saul had an opportunity to be a great king.

Samuel told Saul in advance what would happen in his future journey in order to prove to Saul that God was with him. Warren Wiersbe comments, “Saul could not understand how a man like him could lead the nation of Israel, so God gave him a series of “signs” to assure him for his new responsibilities.”

In the process Saul was anointed by the Holy Spirit, he was turned into another man, and even given another heart (1 Samuel 10:6, 9).

At Mizpah Samuel makes it official. Israel had rejected their theocracy and was transitioning into a monarchy; Saul was selected from the twelve tribes of Israel. It’s interesting that Saul was hiding from his call. It was a red-flag, for deep down inside, it was fear that would eventually get the best of him.

But Saul started well. So did his soldiers. I always get blessed when I read of the valiant men who went with him, “…whose hearts God had touched.” (1 Samuel 10:26)

Then the day arrived, the Ammonites came against the people of Jabesh-Gilead with a proposition of peace between them at the expense of one of their eyes. His mission statement was clear, he wanted to “bring reproach upon Israel” (1 Samuel 11:2).

When Saul heard of the matter, he was rightfully angry and mustered up the soldiers of Israel in dramatic fashion. God gave them a great victory over the Ammonites and Saul gave the glory to God. When the men wanted to put to death those who had not initially yielded to King Saul notice his response:

1 Samuel 11:13 (NKJV) “But Saul said, ‘Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel.’”

God uses Saul to rescue Jabesh-Gilead (ESV Study Bible)
Saul’s journey to Kinship (

It was a good start. So they headed to Gilgal. This is the city where it all began in the Promised Land – back in the days of Joshua. They named the city Gilgal because it means, “wheel,” or “roll,” for it was then that they rolled away the reproach from Israel (1 Samuel 11:2; Joshua 5:9). It’s time to do it again…to renew the kingdom there at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:15).

John 6:43-7:1

As Jesus continues His dialogue with the Jews who were only seeking Him for food, He gives us insight into how a person is truly saved. No one can be saved of their own doing or volition, or in their own timing, a person can only be saved when he or she is “drawn” by the Father. Our job is to share the Word, the rest is in the hands of God and that individual during the time of “drawing.”

Jesus continued to share:

John 6:47 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”

Jesus brings their reference to the manna to its true meaning. The manna pointed to the Messiah – He is the Bread of Life that saves, satisfies, and sustains. Jesus pointed to His body and blood in symbolic fashion (He wasn’t speaking about cannibalism) He was simply pointing to the fact that He would lay down His life, His body…and by that death (His blood) He would provide that opportunity for us to be forgiven. To eat was to believe. Jesus wasn’t speaking literally, He wasn’t speaking, fleshly, or physically, He clearly stated that He was speaking spiritually in:

John 6:63 (NKJV) “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

This is not transubstantiation, this is simply a revelation of what Jesus would do on that cross…and if we believe we will be saved.

We’re disappointed with those who didn’t understand and chose to walk away.

John 6:66 (NKJV) “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

When Jesus asked the twelve if they would do the same, we’re blessed by Peter’s response:

John 6:68–69 (NKJV) “But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”

It’s so true, where else can we go?

At that time Judas chose to stick around, but in his heart he had already left, some say, he was never even really “there.” Only God knows (2 Timothy 2:19-20).

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 107:1-43

This is another thanksgiving Psalm in which we read repeatedly:

Psalm 107:8 (NKJV) “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

(see also Psalm 107:1, 15, 31)

Have I given Him appropriate thanks for the many ways He’s delivered me throughout my life? For the way He’s been so good to me?

The Psalmist writes of how the Lord led them, fed them, and “spread” them out when they sinned. But God also protected them and directed them back home throughout the ages – whenever they cried out, He delivered them.

When we speak of the goodness of God we always return to such passages as Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28. The goodness of God does NOT mean that everything that happens to us is good, it simply means that God works it all together for good.

For example, we read in this Psalm about a tough time in the sea, in verses 23-30. If you go out and down to the sea you will see the works of the Lord, and the wonders in the deep. 

What does he mean by that? In part, the beauty of the ocean and all that is in it. But also in part, the Psalmist speaks of the troubles on the ocean and those times when it appears we’re about to sink. We reach our “wits end” (Psalm 107:27) we’ve tried everything on our own strength and wisdom to get our own way, but we pray. And God shows up, He makes the storm still, and accomplishes His will. We would have never seen it, unless we went down to the sea…it’s there that we see.

So yes, we can (and should) thank God for the times of trouble. It’s there we learn about the one who will take us safely to our desired haven. (heaven)

The Psalmist closes in an appropriate way:

Psalm 107:43 (NKJV) “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.”

Proverbs 15:1-3

V. 1 – And once again, we’re reminded of the significance of our speech. As a matter of fact, seven verses in Proverbs 15 talk and teach about taming the tongue.

We read here about “…a harsh WORD…” – singular – it can just be 1 word…or maybe it’s the way we insist on getting the last word; it’s not exaggeration to consider the possibility, but that that harsh word can ruin a relationship for the rest of your life!

Whenever someone gets upset or angry with us, we all have a choice, we can stir it up, or tone it down…the latter requires a tremendous amount of self-control…but oh the wisdom of diffusing, or de-escalation.

If we give wrath for wrath, we’ll make it worse; but – if – by the Spirit we respond softly, we can often-times deflect what the devil’s trying to do (and that is divide and conquer).

There’s actually power in a soft answer, no matter who you may be facing.

Proverbs 25:15 (NLT) “Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones.”

Charles Bridges said, “Gentle and healing words gain a double victory—over ourselves and our brother.”

We often times want to make a point, or worse, just score a point, only because we want to win an argument, and maybe you will – and lose your loved one…and favor with God.

V. 2 – It’s good to have knowledge, information, and education, but it’s not enough to just have it, it’s what we do with that knowledge that determines if we’re wise or not.

We must use knowledge rightly. It’s sad and simple to see and identify a fool, they have a tendency to vomit, to pour forth foolishness.

V. 3 – This is an anthropomorphic statement – when human body parts/characteristics are attributed to God – not that He literally has eyes, but He does see everything and everyone.

God’s “eyes” are everywhere, and He’s not just seeing, or recording, He’s watching. One day I called my wife Shelly and she answered and said, “Hey man, I’m talking to you on my watch…” So I asked her, “Are you watching me?” 🙂

We would if we could, and God does, watch, always! We read back in:

Proverbs 5:21 (NKJV) “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.”

The purpose of this Proverb is to lessen the evil and elevate the good. We usually act VERY differently if we know certain people are watching us…and yet we need to realize and be reminded, that God is ALWAYS watching us.

Tragically there are many reckless people, and sometimes even decent people who believe they can hide from God…that God doesn’t see – that’s why they do what they do.

Even Moses did that early on back in:

Exodus 2:11-12 (NKJV) “Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So, he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”

Moses looked east and west, but he didn’t look north/up…and what a difference it would have made – it would have saved a life!

Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 10, 2021

1 Samuel 8:1-9:27

Samuel was definitely a man of God, he was called so personally, he served so faithfully, but Samuel’s sons did not walk in his ways. We naturally wonder why, and we’re not sure, the Bible doesn’t reveal that information. We DO know that the man who raised Samuel (Eli) was not a good disciplinarian, and we can be sure that Samuel was busy in the ministry, he WAS gone a lot, but ultimately, each child is personally responsible to make that choice. Tragically Samuel’s sons were dishonest, took bribes, and perverted justice. Samuel made a huge mistake in making his sons judges over Israel. This led to the people’s demand for a king.

It displeased Samuel, and it displeased the LORD – after all, they were essentially rejecting the LORD as King, but God allowed it, and consequentially Israel went from the perfect, to the permissive will of God in government.

God commanded Samuel to clearly warn the people:

Six times in his warning, we read those words regarding the king, “…he will take…” He would take and take and tax, their sons and daughters, the finest of their folks, the best of their fields, and so much more. The day would come when they would cry out to God, but He warned them in advance, He would not hear (1 Samuel 8:18). It didn’t matter to that generation, the people insisted, they wanted to be like all the other nations (1 Samuel 8:5, 20). It’s always a sad state when we make our decisions on that base basis – “…everyone else is doing it.”

God gave them their request, and gave Saul a chance. Saul had the “look” of a king, he was the most handsome man in all of Israel; he was also the tallest in the land. We will later learn that these factors are insignificant, what matters most is the heart (1 Samuel 16:1-7). Tragically some people have to learn the hard way.

Clearly it was the LORD bringing Saul and Samuel together. Saul was humble in the beginning, acknowledging the fact that his tribe was the smallest, that his family was the weakest. We read back in Judges 20-21 how the tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out!

He started well, if only Saul had stayed small in his own eyes. He was about to be anointed the King of Israel by God and His prophet, but it wouldn’t take long before his prideful insecurities would make him a madman, tormented by demons.

John 6:22-42

The next day the Jewish crowds were looking desperately for Jesus, but not for the right reason. It wasn’t even for the signs Jesus showed, no, they were looking for Him because of the food He provided. Jesus offers Godly guidance:

John 6:27 (NKJV) “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

I’ll be the first to admit, I think of food a lot (my flesh does). But we need to make sure we’re not led by our fleshly appetites. Our priorities must be spiritual – may we be desperately seeking after God – Spiritually; let’s be sure to labor in that field…for Him.

The Jews asked Jesus what “works” they needed to do, but salvation is not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9), note Jesus’ response:

John 6:29 (NKJV) “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’”

Simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).

Unfortunately the people missed the point completely and allowed their food frenzy to dominate their thoughts and conversation, bringing up the fact that Moses gave them manna in the wilderness, bread from heaven.

Jesus takes them to a higher heaven and reveals the fact that the manna wasn’t heavenly bread after all – the people died after eating it. Jesus is the true Bread from heaven, the Bread of Life, and not just for the Jews, but for the whole wide world (John 6:33). Wiersbe comments, “The manna (Exodus 16) came only to the Jews and sustained physical life, but Jesus came for the whole world and gives eternal life. Just as you take food into your body, so you take Christ into your life; and He becomes one with you.”

As the people began to reject Christ for multiple reasons (they wanted physical food, they knew His parents – how could He have come from heaven?) Jesus reveals another reason. Salvation is of God, and in God’s timing. If anyone is ever to be saved and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that person must be drawn by the Father. Salvation is not only up to us (our response, our responsibility) salvation is also an act of God’s intervention, it’s an act of divine sovereignty (see John 1:12-13).

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 106:32-48

In looking back over the history of Israel, there were many, many failures. Like us, Israel struggled with the fallen flesh, the influences of the swayed world, and even the forces of darkness (demons).

The congregation of Israel constantly complained against Moses, which led him to losing his temper, misrepresenting God, and closed those doors for him to enter the Promised-Land.

Once in the land, Israel refused to rid themselves of the sin and sinful influences – they mingled with non-believers (it seemed harmless, perhaps they thought they were strong enough) until the day came when they were doing the unthinkable.

Psalm 106:37 (NKJV) “They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.”

As Solomon said, in all reality there is nothing new under the son, they were killing babies even back then; the equivalent to modern-day abortion (125,000 every day).

Apparently at the time of the writing of this Psalm, the people of Israel were in bondage, scattered throughout the world, it was God’s discipline upon the nation, but even there, God was merciful, preserving them, even favoring them at times.

The Psalmist records his confession of sin, and asks God to gather the people back into the land. God has done this numerous times with Israel, most recently on May 14, 1948 when they became a nation again in fulfillment of Ezekiel 36 and 37. (reborn in one day – Isaiah 66:8)

Never underestimate the power of repentance, prayer, and praise. Never underestimate the power of God.

Proverbs 14:34-35

V. 34 – God’s Word to Israel (Deuteronomy 26:26-29; 28:13) is applicable to any nation, especially ours.

Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV) “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

This Godly nation has gone rogue, ruined by our sin, so much so that what Isaiah says in Isaiah 59:15 (NLT) is now applicable to us, “Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.” Sounds so much like our society today!

Not just applicable to nations, but cities too!

Proverbs 11:11 (NKJV) By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Our nation is right-smack-dab in the middle of this Proverb – which way will we go? Will the remnant be able to sway the rest back? I hope so, but if I had to guess I would say that the rapture is the only answer…followed by the just judgment of God.

V. 35 – Of course this is the case for any citizen in front of his king, let’s be wise servants and citizens in our country, but how much morse so, us, before the King of kings?

Matthew 24:45–47 (NKJV) “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 9, 2021

1 Samuel 5:1-7:17

The Ark of the Covenant was symbolic of the presence of God. 

The Ark was found in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle behind the veil. Only the High Priest was allowed into this room and only once a year on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. The Ark was made of acacia wood, and overlaid with pure gold. The two cherubim were facing the lid of the Ark called the Mercy Seat, and there the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled each year by the High Priest. Ironically, that was also the place referred to as the throne of God. Within the Ark of the Covenant were the two tablets, upon which were written the ten commandments, the jar of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.

The Ark should have never been on the battlefield in the hands of Hophni and Phinehas, but it was, and it was captured by the Philistines. They initially thought that their god, Dagon, was greater than the God of the Israelites because they won the battle and captured the Ark, but they would soon find out that they were dead wrong.

The Philistines placed the Ark in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod, but the next day they found Dagon prostrate before the Ark. They propped Dagon back up, only to find him prostrate once again before the LORD, this time with his head and the palms of his hands broken off.

Got Questions said this about Dagon, “Dagon was the chief deity of the Philistines, and the worship of this pagan god dates back to the third millennium BC. According to ancient mythology, Dagon was the father of Baal. He was the fish god (dag in Hebrew means “fish”), and he was represented as a half-man, half-fish creature. This image furthered an evolutionary belief that both men and fish had evolved together from the primal waters. Dagon may also have been the provider of grain. So Dagon was similar to many other idols in that he personified natural forces that had supposedly produced all things.” ( see full article)

God allowed the Ark to be captured, in part, because of the sins of Israel, but also in part to prove Himself to the Philistines. Dagon lost his head and hands – for the LORD is the only head, and was about move His hands against Israel’s enemies (the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines – 1 Samuel 5:9).

God struck the men of Ashdod with tumors; He also struck the men of Gath, both small and great – (1 Samuel 5:6, 9), there was heavy judgment in Ekron as well. The Philistines were afraid, they knew they had to send the Ark back to Israel and did the best they could to do it right, with trespass offerings to give glory to the God of Israel. That was right on their part, but what if…? Wouldn’t it have been better to have turned from their fish god, from their false god, to the true God? It’s sad to see so many people hold on to the things that are dead and bring only death, and not turn to the true and living God, who brings life!

When the Ark was returned to Israel, the men of Beth Shemesh rejoiced, but they were then struck for looking into the Ark of the Covenant. As Jews they should have known better (some manuscripts say seventy men and fifty ox died, not fifty thousand seventy men).

Eventually the Ark settled down in Kirjath Jearim, where it remained for twenty years.

The people of Israel also settled down, and under the leadership of Samuel, God began to give them victory over the Philistines. Samuel called the people back to God.

1 Samuel 7:3-4 (NKJV) “Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.”

As we look back on our lives, although it hasn’t been easy we can all say, especially as the redeemed, the same thing Samuel said, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” (Ebenezer – 1 Samuel 7:12)

Under the leadership of Samuel who pointed the people to the LORD, their enemies were subdued.

1 Samuel 7:13 (NKJV) “So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

Samuel judged Israel and taught Israel passionately, sacrificially. He didn’t simply stay in Ramah and make the people come to him, he did what we call circuit teaching and traveled throughout the country to spread the Word (1 Samuel 7:16). Jesus did the same thing.

John 6:1-22

The feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children is something God definitely wants us to be well aware of, for it’s found in all four Gospels! Jesus shows us who He is by feeding what may well have been 15,000 people with only five barley loaves and two small fish. Imagine that, and imagine how the food must have tasted!

After the meal Jesus commanded His disciples to, “gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” I thought about the many leftovers that I throw away, not good.

The people did indeed see it as a sign and identified Jesus as the Prophet who was to come into the world, based on Deuteronomy 18:15-19. They even wanted to make Him king. At first glance it sounds “like a plan,” but the problem was, that the people were more interested in food and their physical needs, than they were in God and their spiritual needs. They didn’t know that before the crown there must be the cross. They weren’t at all ready for the Messiah, so Jesus sends the Apostles away into a storm where it would be safer than the political atmosphere that was quickly developing. He then goes away from everyone in order to spend time alone with the Father and pray (Matthew 14:23).

O Lord, how many times have I made my belly my god? Forgive me for the way I so often seek You as a means to an end, to meet some other “fleshly want” I have, as opposed to just wanting and having You. Truly You…are all I need.

In the middle of the night Jesus sees His guys straining at rowing (Mark 6:48) and He goes to them walking on water (just as He does to us). He sees us and comes to us. He settles the storm and brings us to our destination, safe and sound.

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 106:13-31

What a contrast between Psalm 105 and 106. Psalm 105 is all good. It mentions none of the failures of Israel in chronicling its history. But Psalm 106 is pretty much just that, a list of the failures of Israel in history. The common thread, however, in both Psalms is the grace and faithfulness of God.

Israel had a bad memory; they had a tendency to forget the works of the LORD (Psalm 106:13, 21). There were many examples of this.

Rather then just thanking God for His daily provision of manna, they got picky and lusted for food (meat). As often happens in life, we get what we want, but O what a price! Notice what we read in;

Psalm 106:15 (NKJV) “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.”

They envied and opposed Moses, so God swallowed up the rebellious offenders.

Not long after their redemption from Egypt they made an idol, a golden calf, saying it was the LORD and worshipped it, including sexual indulgences in that worship!

They despised the Promised Land through doubt (complaining in their tents).

They couldn’t be cursed but had no problem cursing themselves through more idolatry and blatant sexual sin. 

Thank God Moses and Aaron interceded, thank God men like Phinehas intervened, and thank God for His mercy in not giving us what we deserve (Psalm 103:10-14).

Can you relate at all to any of this? A few failures along the way? Prayerfully we learn from their mistakes. Let’s learn NOT to forget God and all He’s done for us, let’s learn NOT to do the things they did. But let’s also learn that if we do stumble and fall, there are consequence yes, but there’s also hope. God is willing to work in our lives and wash away our sins if we truly turn from our sins and return to Him.

Let’s also learn to intercede for others as Moses and Aaron did.

Proverbs 14:32-33

V. 32 – This is a clear contrast between the wicked and the righteous, the saved and the unsaved.

The wicked will be banished, the righteous has a refuge.

This is not something to gloss over. Jesus spoke boldly about banishment.

Matthew 7:23 (NKJV) “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Matthew 25:41 (NKJV) “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:’”

But for those willing to receive God’s gift of salvation and righteousness in the Lord Jesus Christ – there’s a refuge to look forward to…a home in heaven, in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

V. 33 – If you were to look into the heart of a man of understanding, you would find wisdom – and you don’t necessarily need to do an x-ray or an angiogram, it’ll show on the outside.

Luke 6:45 (NKJV) “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Just as whatever is within the heart of fools, eventually becomes known.

Acts 8:21 (NKJV) “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.”

The heart of the matter is still the matter of the heart.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 8, 2021

1 Samuel 2:22-4:22

Imagine being the High Priest of Israel and your sons are serving in ministry as priests along side of you – but – they’re stealing from the offering AND engaged in sexual sin with the women who came to the Tabernacle. It’s a horrible thought, but that was the reality of Eli’s world.

Now, let’s delve further into that situation – what would you do about it? There may be many approaches, but one thing’s for sure, as a father of a family and High Priest of the nation, surely you could not allow it to continue! Surely you would not permit such men, even if they were your sons, to continue in ministry! But that’s exactly what Eli did – he spoke words of correction, but did nothing about it. Even when God warned him of a coming family catastrophe, Eli did nothing different, he simply resolved to accept his fate.

God was taking him down, but behind the scenes, God was also raising up a replacement, preparing little Samuel. The Word of the Lord was rare in those days (due to sin), but the Word of the Lord was sent to Samuel. God called him by name, repeatedly. God spoke to him audibly, sharing once again the coming judgment upon the household of Eli for honoring his sons above the Lord (1 Samuel 2:29).

Eli commanded Samuel to tell him everything, which Samuel did. The High Priest’s sins would not be forgiven, the iniquity of Eli’s house would not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever

God began to raise Samuel up as a prophet with prominence from one end of Israel to the other.

1 Samuel 3:19 (NLT) “As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable.”

God spoke through Samuel, so much so, that the Bible says, “…the word of Samuel came to all Israel.” (1 Samuel 4:1)

And then the day came…Israel is engaged in a fierce war with the Philistines. They’ve been defeated so they call for the Ark of the Covenant to accompany them. If it was genuine faith in God it may have been the key to victory. But for Israel it was more of a superstitious religion, and to make matters worse, Hophni and Phinehas accompanied the Ark (these guys were in sin). Israel got loud and emotional, as a matter of fact they made so much noise that the earth shook (1 Samuel 4:5), but emotion, excitement, and noise are not the same as conviction, holiness, and faith – and Israel was soundly defeated. It’s heartbreaking to read that thirty thousand foot soldiers fell in the ensuing battle. Eli’s two sons died, Eli died, and Eli’s daughter-in-law…died but not before she named her son with the tragic news of the day, “The glory has departed.” (Ichabod)

John 5:24-47

As we consider the following section in the Gospel of John it’s helpful to have Jesus’ words in the forefront of our minds:

John 5:34b (NKJV) “…I say these things that you may be saved.”

Saved from the power and penalty of sin (Matthew 1:21).

Make no mistake about it, the motivation behind all Jesus is saying is the salvation of His hearers. If they would only hear His Word and believe, they would not experience judgment, but pass from death to life. All who hear and believe would receive the power of the resurrection, the life that only God can grant – not merely physical life, but spiritual life, eternal life.

Jesus speaks frequently of His Father, because it is the Father who sent Him. We need to know that. Jesus did nothing of His own volition, but only the will of the Father. What beautiful submission the Son demonstrated, if only the religious leaders would have caught this and believed in Him whom the Father sent, but they refused the four-fold witness.

1. The Witness of John the Baptist (John 5:33)

2. The Witness of His wonderful works, miracles, and signs (John 5:36)

3. The Witness of His Father (John 5:37)

4. The Witness of the Word (the Scriptures) (John 5:39)

John 5:39 (NKJV) “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

The Law required only two or three witnesses, but Jesus had these four – and more witnesses. The religious leaders, however, were more interested in the honor of men, than the honor of God (which makes absolutely NO sense).

They had no love (John 5:42) and they did not believe Moses, which is another way of saying they did not believe God’s Word, the Bible (John 5:47). They were not willing to come to Jesus in order to have eternal life (John 5:40).

The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world.

And life can be overwhelming, so much sin, struggles, and heartache.

If we open the Bible we’ll read about Jesus, we’ll see it’s all about Him (Hebrews 10:7).

If we open our hearts, we can receive Jesus, experience Him and have eternal life. Are you willing to come to Him? I pray you would. Jesus gave that very invitation in:

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 106:1-12

This is another one of those historical Psalms in which the writer wants God to move, again, as He had done in the past. He mentions the mighty acts of the LORD, in order to praise Him, thank Him, and plead for divine intervention once again.

Notice his prayer in:

Psalm 106:4–5 (NKJV) “Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, 5 That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance.”

The Psalmist longs for the Lord to move once again, that he would see God’s hand, spiritually, nationally, and even globally, with his believing family (inheritance).

It was written in a time when Israel had committed some sort of iniquity (Psalm 106:6), just as Israel has done throughout the ages. He takes us back to that moment in Exodus 14 after God had redeemed them from Egypt with the ten all-powerful plagues, but the Egyptian army was on the attack. What did the people of Israel do? Did they do good? Did they trust God? No! They attacked Moses. They had absolutely no faith in the LORD. They were convinced they were about to die and that they would have been better off if they had stayed in Egypt (Exodus 14:11-12).

But what did God do? We read of His gracious intervention in:

Psalm 106:8–10 (NKJV) “Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up; so He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. 10 He saved them from the hand of him who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.”

We don’t deserve it, we cannot earn it, but Lord, please intervene, and show us that same power in our lives today. The power You’ve shown countless times in the past.

Proverbs 14:30-31

V. 30 – A good heart that God has changed is rare but rewarding. Ponder those words there in v. 30 “Life to the body!” (when we’re healthy spiritually it benefits us emotionally and even physically)

A sound heart is when we’ve cultivated God’s heart (Acts 13:22). A sound heart is that heart that cheers for others – esteems others better than ourselves. The flip-side is envy; so ugly, how it eats you up on the inside – it’s rottenness to the bones.

The dictionary defines envy as, “A resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another; not just jealous, in wanting what they have, but not wanting them to have anything good at all.” It’s very, very ugly.

James 3:16 (NKJV) “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”

Mark 15:10 (NKJV) “For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.”

1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that love does not envy. God help us to have a healthy heart, that would love and never, ever envy.

V. 31 – All people are created in the image of God and loved by our Creator. If we honor God, we’ll have mercy on those He loves, on those in need. It’s tragic to think that there are some who are so desensitized and calloused, that they not only ignore the poor, they oppress the poor.

We need to take this into consideration – if we oppress the poor, we oppress God Himself! But if we honor God, we’ll have mercy on the needy.

Jesus said, if we are kind to those in need, we are kind to Him (Matthew 25:31-46). I would venture to say that many of you have a heart to be kind to Jesus.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 7, 2021

1 Samuel 1:1-2:21

The book of 1 Samuel transitions the nation of Israel from the judges to the kings. The book is named after Samuel who is the final judge, a prominent prophet, and the man used by God to anoint the first official king of Israel, Saul, and then David. 

We open with a man named Elkanah from the mountains of Ephraim who had two wives. God never endorsed polygamy, but unfortunately the practice of the culture had permeated God’s people; needless to say, it led to big problems. There was a rivalry between Elkanah’s two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah harassed Hannah because she had no children, something seen as a personal curse back then.

Hannah wept, and prayed. Her husband tried to comfort her – to no avail. Year after year they would visit the Tabernacle in Shiloh until one year she wept, prayed, and poured out her soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15) a good way to pray. It was then that her prayer changed:

1 Samuel 1:11 (NKJV) “Then she made a vow and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.’”

Hannah basically prayed, “Lord, if You grant me a son, I will give him back to You, completely consecrated to be a permanent servant in the Tabernacle.” God would grant her that prayer.

Eli was the High Priest at the time. He lacked discernment, thinking that Hannah was drunk. He also lacked discipline in not putting his sons in check. God was about to move, He was about to judge, He was about to raise up a boy, to be a man of God, to be a prophet to the nation, his name would be Samuel, whom Hannah would bear in answer to prayer.

When Samuel was born, Hannah waited until he was weaned, and then brought him to the Tabernacle and left him there, giving him to God – Samuel was an answer to many, many prayers.

1 Samuel 1:27 (NKJV) “For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.”

May this be the case for all of our kids, “For this child I prayed…”

We see the godliness of Hannah, in her prayer recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. She could now smile at her enemies – she had no fear or frown, because of God’s faithfulness. She praised God for His holiness (there is NO ONE) like Him! (1 Samuel 2:2)

Her prayer is a strong expression of confidence in the ultimate defeat of the proud and arrogant. Her prayer is an appropriate acknowledgment of the Almighty, who was about to defeat the mighty, feed the hungry, give life to the barren, kill, protect, make poor and rich, bring low, lift up, even to the point of a throne of glory (1 Samuel 2:8).

At the closing of her prayer there are Messianic tones, how one day the LORD would judge the earth, and the King of kings (Jesus) would be exalted. It’s the ultimate destiny of all the earth, it’s something God has placed in the depths of the hearts of His people, and there it was in heart of Hannah.

Meanwhile, the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were ripping the people off. Stealing from the offerings of the LORD and worse (we’ll read the details next time). The Judge was on His way for judgment, and the judge Samuel was too. He would be the vessel for a new work of God and a new administration altogether.

We sometimes think God is distant or indifferent, but He’s not. He sees everything that’s going on and gives people time to repent (Revelation 2:21). But if they don’t, if they won’t, He will deal with them accordingly – it’s a warning to some, and a promise to others.

John 5:1-23

Can you picture a ton of people there by the pool? Not swimming, not sun bathing – but the sick, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. I’m not sure if it was a legend or not, but the “word” was whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

One of the men there that day had been lame for thirty-eight years! Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”

The man assessed his situation as hopeless. Little did he know that he was talking to the God of all hope – and right there and then, Jesus commanded him to take up his bed and walk. He may have felt strength flowing through his body, or maybe it began with an obedient effort on his part, but somehow he took a step of faith, and God met him there, and made him whole. As Pastor Chuck Smith said, “The man could have argued with Jesus, explaining why it was impossible for him to get up and walk. But instead he somehow found the faith to obey the impossible command from a perfect stranger. If He commands us to do something, He will enable us to do it.”

It’s strange that this man didn’t stop to take time to give thanks to the Lord. When the religious leaders questioned the man about carrying his mat on the Sabbath, he told them he didn’t know the name of the one who had healed him.

When Jesus found the man he issued a heavy warning:

John 5:14 (NKJV) “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.'”

This suggests that this man’s infirmity may have been because of his sin. Not all sickness, suffering, and calamity are the result of sin, but sometimes this is the root reason. When we realize that we have a loving Father who is a perfect disciplinarian, it should cultivate a healthy fear of God. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.

But this man is an interesting guy; when he finds out it was Jesus who healed him and commanded him to carry his mat, he “turns him in” to the religious authorities. So the Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus for violating their man-made Sabbath rules and regulations. Their verbal exchange leads Jesus to reveal the truth of who He was, equal with God.

As we read through the Gospel of John there’s no doubt about Jesus deity – John 5:22-23 is a great proof text:

John 5:22–23 (NKJV) “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

One day, EVERYONE will stand before Jesus – all judgment has been committed to Him. To honor the Son JUST as we honor the Father means that Jesus is equal with God. This is another combination-revelation of the truth of the Trinity – One God in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 105:37-45

This Psalm definitely focuses on God’s gracious wonders and purposely leaves out Israel’s foolish blunders. The writer sees the bright side of history, the goodness of God.

The nation of Israel was redeemed from Egypt mightily, victoriously, they were blessed with quail for meat in the wilderness, manna for daily bread, water from the rock – it ran like streams in the desert. God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and gave them the descendants and the land. What an awesome God He is! And notice what the proper response should be:

Psalm 105:45 (NKJV) “That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws. Praise the LORD!”

Obedience to His Word…and praise to our Lord.

As I look back on my life, I’ve made many mistakes, but God has washed them all away. Although I do my best to learn from my many failures, I don’t focus on them, I try to focus on the Lord.

Look what He’s done! It should lead me – to do as He says. He’s saved me to serve, and observe…His Word.

This Psalm reminds me of the story of Balaam and Israel:

Numbers 23:21 (NKJV) “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.”

Even though Israel failed, fell, and sinned big time, when God looked at Israel, He saw no iniquity, He saw no wickedness, God was with them, and through them David and Jesus would come. 

Psalm 105 doesn’t mention any of Israel’s sins – it’s a very unique Psalm. It shows us (from a positional standpoint) how God sees us believers – without sin. It reminds us how awesome He is. We read it early on in this Psalm:

Psalm 105:1–2 (NKJV) “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works!”

Talk of His work (not ours). God has fulfilled His word to Abraham which consisted of three things.

1. The land

2. The descendants

3. The Messiah/King – Jesus

Proverbs 14:28-29

V.  28 – An obvious observation in the political realm – especially back then when the population provided for the prince and the king, leading to the protection of the kingdom and his personal honor. 

V. 29 – This is probably one of the most important Proverbs and principles in all of life! This is one of the ways you can tell whether a person is wise or wicked…is he easily angered? Does he have a short fuse? Does she fly off the handle? Are they always on the verge of explosion? 

Obviously, a person who’s impulsive – saying or doing things without praying or even thinking it through, is a fool, through and through.

This is why James writes in:

James 1:19-20 (NKJV) “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 6, 2021

Ruth 2:1-4:22

The LORD Himself, personally, and the laws He had mandated, officially, would be used to take care of Ruth and Naomi. 

One of the laws provided for the poor with dignity. Ruth would take advantage of it and go out into the field, day by day, and glean after the reapers; she was willing to work and gather up the leftovers in order to have sufficient food for herself and Naomi.

Leviticus 19:10 (NKJV) “And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God.”

Another law that would be a factor was the law of the Kinsman Redeemer.  Got Questions explains, “The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. The Hebrew term (go el) for kinsman-redeemer designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16; Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–25, 25:47–55). The kinsman who redeems or vindicates a relative is illustrated most clearly in the book of Ruth, where the kinsman-redeemer is Boaz.” (click here for the full article)

We see in the end, how Boaz was willing to redeem the land, and with that land, the virtuous woman Ruth. It didn’t matter that she was Moabite, he was a noble and obedient man, who saw the genuine beauty of Ruth.

Another law was that of levirate marriage. This law was God’s way of providing for widows and carrying on the family name on behalf of the deceased. If a man died and had no children then his brother, or closest kinsman was obligated to marry the widow in order to produce offspring, who would one day take care of (honor) the parent.

Deuteronomy 25:5–6 (NKJV) “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.”

It’s fascinating to see the civil laws of the Lord aptly applied, and the way they wisely took care of the community of people with dignity. It’s also beautiful to see the way Boaz and Ruth are a picture of Jesus (our Kinsman Redeemer) and the church – what a beautiful love story!

I’m blessed with the virtuous woman Ruth became, it was evident to Boaz and to all the rest.

Ruth 2:12 (NKJV) “The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

Ruth 3:11 (NKJV) “And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.”

The prayer of the women of the town for Naomi, and her grandson, include an amazing commendation of her daughter in law – Ruth:

Ruth 4:15 (NKJV) “And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”

The LORD used Ruth to rekindle Naomi’s faith in God (Ruth 2:20) as Naomi caught the vision, and saw the hope in seeking security for her “daughter” – that it might be well with her.

What grace, that God would make Ruth (a Moabite) a part of the lineage of King David and eventually King Jesus (Ruth 4:17).

There’s much to glean from the book of Ruth, one of only two books in the Bible named after a woman (along with Esther).

John 4:43-54

When we consider the healing of the nobleman’s son, it’s a different sort of sign, in that Jesus didn’t have to be there physically to heal him. Jesus simply willed it – He spoke the word from close to twenty miles away and it was done, instantly. Distance is not an issue with the Divine. The nobleman verified the time the fever left him, and sure enough, it was the very moment Jesus spoke the word.

The nobleman believed for healing (John 4:50), which led to him to believe for salvation (John 4:53).

The “nobleman” was some sort of royal or government official…and we’ve seen – time and time again, that all it takes for an individual to be drawn to the Lord, is desperation for our children, after all, he wasn’t primarily a nobleman…he was a father.

When we contemplate Cana, the city at hand, isn’t it interesting that the first sign Jesus gave was at a wedding in Cana? And the second sign (again in Cana), is for the healing of a child? God cares for the family and it makes quite an impact. We read:

John 4:53b (NKJV) “…And he himself believed, and his whole household.”

Being the family-man that I am, this finds a special home in my heart. Thank You Jesus!

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 105:16-36

As the Psalmist continues his chronicle of Israel’s history, we pick it up at a time of world-wide famine, but no need to worry for God had “sent” Joseph ahead, sold as a slave, tested, tried and trained. When the time was right, Joseph would be raised up to rule, sent ultimately to save (a picture of Jesus).

When Joseph died, the nation of Israel became slaves in Egypt, but God sent Moses and Aaron as instruments for the deliverance of His people – signs and wonders were done to defeat all the gods of Egypt. Water to blood, light to darkness, frogs, flies, lice, fire, hail and in the end, the final blow was the death of the firstborn in all the land of Egypt. Imagine that…a bunch of slaves set free from the vise-grip of the most powerful nation on earth!

Israel would look back to these things – and praise the Lord, we do too. We can also look back to the time of Christ, and what He did to redeem us from the power and penalty of sin – and praise the Lord. And what about our personal story. Do you ever look back to see how He set you free? It’s good to do – and praise the Lord.

Proverbs 14:26-27

In almost any discussion about wisdom, the fear of the Lord is to be in the forefront.

The healthy holy fear of hell, the fear of God’s discipline, the fear of a loss of reward, the fear that God won’t answer our prayers – it really should change a person. Christians get consecrated, disciples draw near – and even as we read here – there is a strong confidence that blesses the family (Proverbs 14:26). His children will have a place of refuge, a sanctuary here, and a home in heaven. Ultimately Jesus is our refuge (Hebrews 6:18).

A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that those children raised in households in which both parents were believers, had a great chance of possessing that same faith in adulthood. 84% of those raised by two Protestant parents are still Protestant as adults. Similarly, those raised without that faith in Christ, are less apt to look for it as they grow older — that same Pew study found that 63% of people who grew up with two religiously unaffiliated parents were still nonreligious as adults.

Make no mistake about it, the fear of the LORD impacts the family!

Those who fear the Lord can drink from that fountain of life – turning them away, protecting them from the snares of death.

God help us to drink from this fountain and never stop!

Jeremiah 2:13 (NKJV) “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

John 4:13-14 (NKJV) “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’”

John 7:37-38 (NKJV) “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 5, 2021

Judges 21:1-Ruth 1:22

The book of Judges ends with the men of Israel doing what they can, in an attempt to undo what they’ve already done. The tribe of Benjamin is left with only 600 men after a vicious civil war and no Jewish women to marry. The men of Israel who have fought in the war, have vowed not to give any of their daughters as wives to the Benjamites…so they weep bitterly and lift up their voices:

Judges 21:3 (NKJV) “and said, ‘O LORD God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel, that today there should be one tribe missing in Israel?’”

What happens next are further illustrations of a nation that has turned their back on God. They’re illustrations of that old adage, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Or, “The ends don’t justify they means.” They decide to slaughter their brethren – all the men, and all the women who have known a man, and all the children, in order to provide brides for the men from the people of Jabesh Gilead. After that, they kidnap (“take”) two hundred virgins who are out dancing to the LORD.

When I read these stories I ask myself, “Where would I be without the LORD as the Lord of my life? Where would I be without the Word of God, left to myself to try and figure things out?” I would be in the book of Judges. The truth is, even WITH the Spirit and the Bible, I need to guard my heart from not living life as they did in those days:

Judges 21:25 (NKJV) “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

So much unnecessary heartache.

We will see that the book of Ruth is a beautiful picture of Jesus and the church, but it begins with heartache. First the famine in Israel which led Elimelech and his family to the country of Moab. While they were there, Elimelech died, along with his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.

After ten years in Moab, the widow Naomi decides to return to Israel and she encourages her daughter’s in law to remain in Moab and get married. What follows next is truly touching. One daughter-in-law Orpah resists a a bit, but gives in, kiss Naomi and decides to stay in Moab. But her other daughter-in-law, Ruth, cannot be swayed, she clings to Naomi and resolves to stay with her, willing to stay single (if necessary) in order to serve her mother in law. I wonder if it’s because Ruth had become a believer in the LORD. We read those beautiful words of commitment:

Ruth 1:16–17 (NKJV) “But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.'”

Beautiful words of love and commitment – words that my wife and I exchanged as wedding vows.

We are about to see the way God honors the integrity of this amazing young woman named Ruth, how God is in all the details of our lives, even able to transform tragedies into victories.

Naomi doesn’t see it yet, she’s a bit bitter, but eventually even she will see the wonder in God’s wonderful plan.

John 4:4-42

Jesus wanted to reach out to a Samaritan woman, so He needed to go through Samaria (John 4:4). This was a bold move on Jesus’ part because we read in John 4:9 that Jews have no dealings with Samaritans, and we notice in John 4:27 the shock of Jesus’ disciples that He even spoke with a woman, for Rabbi’s wouldn’t engage in conversation with ladies…they looked down on them. But Jesus didn’t bow down to that, He broke down the political and social barriers.

Usually the Jews would take a different road to avoid Samaria altogether, even though it would mean an extra week of travel time. “One [main road] led…from Jerusalem past Bethany to Jericho, then north up the Jordan Valley and the west side of the Sea of Galilee toward Capernaum. To avoid Samaria, whose inhabitants the Jews despised, Jews often traveled this road in going between Galilee and Judea.”– A Survey of the New Testament. 

But Jesus went through Samaria, He wanted to reach her.

After the journey, Jesus was weary and thirsty. Women normally drew water in the evening (Genesis 24:11), but this woman came at noon, when there would be less people (if anyone) – she undoubtedly was looked down upon. Why? Because she had been married and divorced five times and was now shacking up with the sixth guy. She was looking for love and fulfillment in a human relationship, and as time wore on, her heart had been broken so many times she may have thought she was beyond the love of anyone. She had sort of given up…but then God shows up.

Jesus didn’t judge her. He only wanted to reach her and prove Himself to her. He offered her living water so that she’d never “thirst” again. As we’ve seen frequently in the Gospel of John, she’s thinking physically, but Jesus is speaking spiritually.

Jesus offered her what her heart truly longed for – love and life. The reality is, everyone and everything else, will leave us dissatisfied, it will never be enough. The only One who can quench our thirst is Jesus. The only One who can save us is Jesus.

The woman begins to talk religion, Jacob, history, and geography, but the Lord steers her in a different direction. Jesus tells her (and us) that the Father is seeking those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Her view of Jesus grew from a Jew, to sir, to a prophet, and ultimately to the Christ. Jesus reached her and saved her and she in turn spread the news to the rest of the people in her village; they also believed in Jesus when they were introduced to Him and heard His word.

How important it is that we stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. “Lord, where do I ‘need‘ to go today?” Who can I reach out to? Am I aware that the harvest is ripe and ready? That there are people out there who are hurting, who just need someone to go to them?

O Lord, may I come to a place in my life where this is more important than food for my body, where my sustenance and satisfaction is just to do Your will.

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 105:1-15

This Psalm is primarily an expression of praise for all the good God had done for Israel – their history of overall victory.

Give thanks, call upon His name, make known His deeds, sing to him, talk of all His wondrous works, glory in His name, let hearts rejoice to seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!

There’s the Abrahamic covenant – when he had nothing, God promised him the land flowing with milk and honey, descendants as the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea.

Even when Abraham and Isaac ventured out and failed in foreign lands, we read in:

Psalm 105:14–15 (NKJV) “He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, 15 Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.”

I praise God for the grace He’s given to Israel, to His church, and especially to me. He’s called and He will carry us through life…and all the way home. 

Proverbs 14:25

Back then this spoke of one’s testimony at the city gates – nowadays it speaks of our testimony in court, in front of a judge and jury, we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth – and if we’re honest we might be instruments of justice.

But it’s also applicable to our spiritual witness – we even use that word “witness” when we tell others about Jesus – just being honest – this is what He did in my life – here’s the gospel truth, and we share.

Christians are called “witnesses” seven times in the book of Acts.

What an amazing thought! We can be used by God to deliver souls! Have you shared the Gospel with anyone lately? Pray for God to open those doors, and then go out and start “knocking,” let’s see what He does.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

May 4, 2021

Judges 19:1-20:48

As we read through these stories in the book of Judges, it’s simply heart-breaking. The writer of the book of, who may have been Samuel, once again tells us that there was no king in Israel at that time (Judges 19:1). They didn’t have a human king and neither were they following the King of kings, so chaos abounded.

Warren Wiersbe aptly said, “The sad history of Israel moves now from idolatry to immorality and civil war. If sin is not dealt with, it spreads like a plague and destroys. The basic cause of Israel’s plight was their independence from God and their indifference to His law. Nothing can be right when every man does what is right in his own eyes. It was a time of moral and spiritual darkness (Isaiah 8:20).”

We read of a man who was a Levite, from the remote mountains of Ephraim whose concubine left him to go home to Bethlehem and a life of harlotry. The man traveled to Bethlehem to bring her home.

Judges 19:3 (NKJV) “Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back…”

The Levite was not a good example of a godly leader. He lacked discernment and treated his concubine as mere property. It took a couple of days, and he left a little late, but the man eventually headed home with his concubine and servant. Rather than staying in a city of “non-believers,” he traveled a little further, choosing instead to spend the night in Gibeah, thinking it would be safer.  What transpires next is absolutely tragic. First the men of the city surround the house they were staying in saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally.” Believe you me, they didn’t want to talk – these were perverted men (Judges 19:22), they were aggressive homosexuals. It doesn’t get any better after that – the men in the house offer the women to these perverts, who abuse them all night long. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this take place, it sounds eerily similar to what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:5-10).

The next day the woman dies and the man does something absolutely horrendous. He dismembers the woman and sends different pieces of her body to the twelve tribes of Israel. It shouldn’t take this type of behavior to arouse a nation, but sure enough, he gets everyone’s attention and they gather together from Dan to Beersheeba (the northern and southern extremities of Israel) as one man in Mizpah. 

The civil war that follows between the eleven tribes of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin heaps heartache upon heartache. Initially the eleven tribes are defeated, losing forty thousand men in the first two battles. But after fasting and praying with burnt offerings and peace offering, the eleven tribes are granted such a victory that the tribe of Benjamin was almost eliminated (only six hundred men remained).

As we read these tragic stories, we’re reminded of what can happen to a people who have rejected God as their final authority. The last verse in Judges describes what happened then, and what is rapidly taking place in our own nation:

Judges 21:25 (NKJV) “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

John 3:22-4:3

John the Baptist was the forerunner to Christ, he was the “point-man,” simply sent to point others to Jesus. John’s disciples were having a hard time realizing that their ministry was coming to an end, but they shouldn’t have. John and his guys had finished that part of their work; the friend of the bridegroom should only rejoice when the bride and bridegroom come together.

John brought a couple of things up that all ministers need to keep in mind:

John 3:27b (NKJV) “…A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”

John 3:30 (NKJV) “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

God is the one who determines, when, where, how many, and all the rest. It’s not up to us and it’s not about us…as a matter of fact, the heart we need to have is that the people would only be drawn to Jesus (not us). This can be difficult due to our pride. Sandy Adams said, “Glorifying Christ is easy when you are making a name for yourself at the same time. Are you willing to bow out for others to behold Him?”

We need to keep in mind, the Father’s love for His Son, the inheritance of His Son (John 3:35). and the life through His Son (John 3:36).

Our options are set before us without any ambiguity:

John 3:36 (NKJV) “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

It was time for Jesus to move on (John 4:3). For one, the Pharisees heard that He (it was actually Jesus’ disciples) baptized more people than John the Baptist and it wasn’t time to stir up that kind of trouble. Secondly, and more importantly, we’ll see next time, thatJesus wanted to reach out to a Samaritan woman, so He, “…needed to go through Samaria.” (John 4:4)

I’d like to recommend a visual experience. This movie is WORD-FOR-WORD the entire Gospel. Perhaps you’ve seen movies on the life of Christ, but there aren’t many which are word for word! This movie uses the Good News Bible, which is a solid version, easy to understand. Let me know if you’re able to watch it and what you think.

Psalm 104:24-35

We continue with this Psalm of praise to God for the beauty and variety of His creation, for all the earth “possesses,” and all that’s in the sea. There in the deep, creatures like the Leviathan “play” and are fed by God.

Leviathan is mentioned five times in the Scriptures, and the opinions as to what it is, ranges from a crocodile to a fire-breathing dragon (Job 41:1-34). The primary point the Psalmist is making is how everything, and every living thing is in the hands of the Lord – He is an awesome God!

The Psalmist deals with God’s “relationship” with the earth and then God’s relationship with us (mankind). He ends with a prayer of personal determination, a prayer for holiness on earth, and an honest expression of praise.

Psalm 104:33–35 (NKJV) “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD. 35 May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!”

Proverbs 14:22-24

V. 22 – The word “devise” means, “to formulate in one’s mind,” it speaks of “planning in advance.” Here we see we can devise evil…that’ll make us go astray; or we can devise good, which means we’ll experience mercy and truth.

We all know the difference between slipping into sin – and premeditated, presumptuous sin. We know there’s a clear contrast between manslaughter and murder that is carefully planned.

V. 23 – Hard work pays off, it’s profitable; the Hebrew word translated “labor” speaks of working till it hurts, till it causes pain, to toil. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew word is usually translated “sorrow” – but that’s just for the body. Regarding the person as a whole, or the soul itself, godly labor is profitable. There’s something admirable about a hard day’s work.

But idle chatter (that’s a funny word huh?), leads only to poverty.

When I young and worked at the supermarkets, the Pantry and then Vons – I saw chatterers got demoted – some got fired – and I saw the hard workers, the hustlers, get promoted.

V. 24 – There are times when God blesses a wise man with wealth. In such cases God knows he can handle it. It won’t be a distraction for him, and in this case, it’s like a crown, a reward for good stewardship.

He or she uses that crown for good. As Charles Bridges said, “Wealth is in fact a blessing when honestly acquired and conscientiously used.”

“Wealth is the crown … of the wise, but it cannot hide fools. It only makes their folly more apparent.” And we shake our heads when we see them spend, waste, and eventually lose their money.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…