Category Archives: 1-Year Bible

June 11, 2021

1 Kings 8:1-66

What an amazing day that must have been in Israel when they dedicated the Temple to the LORD! The Temple was glorious, it could definitely be categorized as a wonder in the world amongst the things built by man – but in all reality, without the presence of the LORD, it was nothing, and it would not fulfill its purpose. The same is true of our lives, our homes, and our churches. We thank God that He graciously showed up to fill our “temples.”

The priests and Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy of Holies. Then we read in:

1 Kings 8:10–11 (NKJV) “And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”

Solomon begins with a speech about the way this structure came to pass. It wasn’t something God asked for, He was content with the Tabernacle, but David had it in his heart. God told David it was good that it was in his heart, but that his son would be the one to build the Temple – and now…Solomon said, God’s word had come to pass (1 Kings 8:20).

Solomon then prays (1 Kings 6:12-39). It’s actually a beautiful prayer that glorifies God and acknowledges the fact that God is not in any way limited to the confines of the Temple.

1 Kings 8:27 (NKJV) “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”

Solomon goes on to recognize the Temple as the location where the sacrifices would take place and hence, through which prayer would be possible. He spends much time requesting that God would hear the prayers of the people when they prayed toward the Temple.  When they’d sinned, and been disciplined, but then repented in sincerity – that God would hear them. After famine, or pestilence, blight, mildew, locust, plague, sickness, whatever it might be, but if the people prayed toward the Temple:

1 Kings 8:39 (NKJV) “then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men).”

Solomon even includes the foreigner (1 Kings 8:41) he had a heart to evangelize and spread the Word and the name of the LORD. This brings up an interesting point, because the Temple was to be a place of prayer, for Israel and for all nations (Isaiah 56:7) we even see it here in Solomon’s prayer…but eventually, Israel lost sight of that mission. The House of Prayer for all nations became a den of thieves, where the religious leaders were making big-time money, ripping the people off. That’s when Jesus cleaned house (He actually did it twice in His ministry) (John 2:14-17; Mark 11:15-17)

Solomon was on his knees, pleading with God. He then rose to his feet and blessed the assembly and praised the LORD for the way He had fulfilled His Word in every way.

1 Kings 8:56 (NKJV) “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.

(see also Joshua 21:45; 23:14 – God fulfills His Word!)

The entire chapter is rich with content – but I’ve always loved the principle found in 1 Kings 8:59, how God maintains the cause of His people, “…as each day may require.” I’m so glad that God doesn’t take a day (or even a moment off). Here we are, another day, O Lord, please help us today…whatever the requirements may be.

Solomon ends with an exhortation to the people. If only he would have remembered it for himself!

1 Kings 8:61 (NKJV) “Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.”

It all ended with more sacrifices, supper, and assemblies for seven days. On the eighth day the people headed home, praising God for all He’d done through David and on behalf of the people of Israel. Today we thank God for all He’s done through Jesus – and all He’s done for His people.

Acts 7:51–8:13

Some say that Stephen’s life was cut too short, even wasted – that he had so much potential. But I believe he finished his race, that God would ultimately use his death to draw a young man named Saul to salvation (7:58). We remember the maxim, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

And the first Christian martyr was welcomed home by Jesus, who stood next to His Father to receive Stephen into heaven, as he called on Jesus, died like Jesus, and forgave like Jesus. Isn’t it amazing that Stephen prayed for his murderers not to be charged with this sin?

Saul guarded the clothes of those who stoned Stephen to death. Saul consented (voted) for Stephen’s death. And Saul went on to take the lead in persecuting the church.

Acts 8:3 (NKJV) “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”

As a result of the church being scattered – everywhere they went, they went preaching the Word. Perhaps the church had gotten too comfortable there in Jerusalem. They had forgotten, neglected, or even rejected the Great Commission; how they were commanded to go beyond Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Sandy Adams observed, “Jesus had commanded His disciples to go into all the world. So far they had been content to hang out at home. In Acts chapter 8 Jesus uses persecution to deploy His troops.”

God did a great work through Phillip in Samaria to the point that there was “great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8). That’s my prayer for the city of El Monte and the surrounding areas as well – Joy in Jesus.

Psalm 129:1-8

Another Psalm of Ascents, sung as the people traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. And another one of those Psalms that encourage us to say something, “Let Israel now say,” (and it’s repeated), “Let Israel now say…”

Psalm 129:2 (NKJV) “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me.”

I would even encourage you, dear friend and reader, to say it out loud. “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me.”

The enemy hates God’s people. He hates Israel because they are a sign to the world and he hates the church because we are not of this world. There have been many attacks to destroy us, but God has preserved and protected us – all of our lives.

The Psalmist prays that God would judge those who hate Zion – it’s his way of asking for protection that the haters would not be blessed, for they OPPOSE God – in that they come against the people of God.

Proverbs 17:1

If you had to choose, which would you rather have (be honest) steak with strife…or lettuce with love?

The wise man or woman knows which is better, they would choose the lettuce with love – “let us love one another.”

Better is a dry morsel with quietness. When quietness, peace, and love are  on the menu at home…it’s infinitely better than a feasting life of strife, defined as, “consistent or constant conflict, anger, arguing, and bitter disagreements.”

I hope we know that the rich, with all the food and stuff to stuff themselves – aren’t necessarily all that rich. If I had to choose, I’d much rather have God’s perfect piece of peace (John 14:27).

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.

June 10, 2021

1 Kings 7:1-51

Solomon spent 7 years building the Temple  of the LORD, but he spent 13 years building his own house (1 Kings 6:38; 7:1). I’m not sure if that’s a random statement or if it carries any implications. Does that mean Solomon worked harder on the Temple to make sure it was done in a timely fashion? Or does that mean that Solomon’s home was more important to him based upon the time he spent on it? I’m not sure, but I do know  that although Solomon did a lot of building (other structures are mentioned as well) there was tons of money spent on the Temple and we have many details provided about it and its furnishings.

When the Bible describes the skilled craftsmen named Huram (not to be confused with the king Hiram) we see that he was a man filled with wisdom and understanding and skilled in all kinds of bronze work. Haven’t you been blessed with the diversity of gifts that different men and women contribute to the church? It reminds me of the passage in Ephesians 4:11-12. Huram specialized in Bronze.

Although we have other “metals” mentioned in the construction of the Temple, bronze is the emphasis in this section.

The two pillars were made of bronze, they were 27-feet tall, named Jachin, meaning, “He will establish,” and Boaz, meaning, “In Him is strength.”

We then have the bronze laver (called a Sea because of the water) 15 feet in diameter, 7 1/2 feet high, some estimate it was able to hold up to 12,000 gallons of water (1 Kings 7:26). It stood on 12 bronze oxen, each facing outward. We then read of the 10 bronze carts and lavers with bronze wheels. The word bronze is found twelve times in this chapter! Why the emphasis on the bronze? As a matter of fact, notice what we read in:

1 Kings 7:47 (NKJV) “And Solomon did not weigh all the articles, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined.”


Pastor Chuck Smith offers some insight, “In the Scriptures, gold is always symbolic of heaven (or deity), silver of redemption, and brass (bronze) symbolic of judgment.”

What we see in this section of Scripture is that the judgment we deserve, symbolized by the bronze, cannot be calculated. Yes, the Temple was a place to seek the the LORD, to meet with God, to learn and fellowship together, but that was only possible because of the judgment Jesus bore on our behalf. It’s more than we can ever imagine, something we will never understand or be able to calculate. “I’ll never know how much it cost, to bear my sin upon that cross.” It’s true. And so we read in:

Numbers 21:9 (NKJV) “So Moses made a BRONZE serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

This “bronze” serpent was symbolic of Jesus, who said in;

John 3:14 (NKJV) “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”

It was a picture of Jesus. When we look to Him with eyes of faith we will be saved (Isaiah 45:22).

Here’s a glimpse of the Temple  Solomon built for the LORD from the ESV Study Bible Notes.

Acts 7:30-50

Stephen is giving the Jewish leaders and “judges” a glimpse of the history of Israel and the way they had a tendency to be stubborn and rebellious. They had rejected the deliverers God sent their way.

God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and sent him to Egypt to set Israel free, this was the same one they rejected as deliver 40 years earlier.

The second time around they followed Moses but the people weren’t exactly a compliant congregation. It didn’t take long for them to make themselves gods, to worship idols, and in their hearts, turn back to Egypt (symbolic of the world).

Stephen quotes from Amos 5:25-27 as a testimony of Israel’s idolatry – even as God was leading and sustaining them in the wilderness!

Stephen brings up the Tabernacle, and swiftly travels from Joshua, to David, and eventually to Solomon, because he wants to touch on the Temple. The Jewish leaders had come to a place of trusting in the Temple, or glorying in the Temple rather than God. It’s possible (and actually common) to have a Temple of God, without God, to have a beautiful church building without the Head of the church. I understand that we need to maintain our buildings, and appreciate God’s provision, but we must also be careful to remember the words of Stephen who quoted from Isaiah 66:1-2:

Acts 7:49–50 (NKJV) “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, or what is the place of My rest? 50 has My hand not made all these things?”

Again, the words of Pastor Sandy Adams give insight to Stephen’s speech, “He retraces Jewish history demonstrating how God was always up to something new, yet each fresh initiative was met with Jewish resistance. Call his sermon a panoramic view of a people’s stubbornness.”

Psalm 128:1-6

A frequent and repeated truth we read in the Bible is the blessings and benefits of fearing the LORD. The fear of the LORD speaks of a healthy reverence and awe of who He is, and yes, the fact that He does discipline His children, and judge non-believers.

Life is deeply beautiful for the obedient believer. We’ll work hard and God will provide everything we need; we’ll know, it’s from God.

We’ll prioritize our family, if we fear the LORD, and the general principle is that God will bless us with children, and even grandchildren. When the children are described as olive plants all around our table, it speaks of the fact that our children will be helpers, productive, and even valuable (olives and the oil they produced was valued).

When we fear the LORD we can truly enjoy His blessings each and every day.

Psalm 128:5 (NKJV) “The LORD bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life.”

When a nation fears God, she will experience peace (Psalm 128:6)

Proverbs 16:31-33

V. 31 – There should be a respect for our elders usually identified by their gray hair, which the Bible calls a “crown of glory.”

Our hope is that when a person gets older they will grow wise. IF you’ve learned the Word of God,  IF you’ve learned those lessons, IF you’ve learned from the mistakes of others, IF we’ve learned from our own many, many mistakes. It takes time, and we usually have to go through it, in order to grow through it, but our prayer is that the years brings wisdom.

But not everyone learns those lessons in life…let’s do our best to age well, spiritually, and not just physically.

Psalms 92:12-14 (NKJV) “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;”

V. 32 –  To be “slow to anger”  is also seen in Proverbs 15:18 and 19:11 this is of epic importance – but extremely difficult for most of us.

According to this Proverb, it’s easier to conquer a city than it is to conquer yourself! To be slow to anger is one indication of self conquering/control…and this is how God is with us, slow to anger. 

Psalms 145:8 (NKJV) “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.”

If this is how God is with us, shouldn’t we be that way with each other?

V. 33 – In Old Testament days lots were one of the ways the people determined the will of the Lord, this was a way of God leading, and revealing things. The God of the universe was involved even in the casting of lots, when it was done with the right intention.

Once the Holy Spirit arrived on planet earth, we no longer see God’s people casting lots. We now have the Spirit of God who uses the Word of God to lead the people of God.

We’re not sure on the exact nature of the lots. For more information on this check out the article at Got Questions (

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.

June 9, 2021

1 Kings 5:1–6:38

Where God guides, God provides, and that means everything and everyone we need, to do all, that God calls us to do. Enter Hiram, King of Tyre. This man loved David, so when David passed away, he sent his condolences to Solomon. Solomon wrote back, letting King Hiram know that the dream of his father was to build a Temple to the LORD. Since Tyre was known for it’s trees and the Sidonians were known for their lumber skills, Solomon asked him if the two nations could enter into a treaty – and they did – food for wood.

Pastor Chuck Smith, “They floated these big logs down the Mediterranean Sea to Joppa, which was the only seaport on the coast of Israel then. From Joppa, they carried these huge timbers forty-miles to Jerusalem. Quite a monumental task.”

Solomon was now utilizing that God-given wisdom to build a glorious temple for the name of the LORD.

1 Kings 5:12 (NKJV) “So the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as He had promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty together.”

This was not going to be some rinky dink thing, this would require a labor force of 30,000 men who would travel to Lebanon, 10,000 at a time, one-month-on, two-months-off was the rotation for 7 years. Solomon also had 70,000 who carried burdens (common laborers), 80,000 who quarried stones, and 3,600 who organized those workers and led the way as supervisors.

In the construction of the Temple, Solomon took into consideration the Tabernacle and added to it such amazing beauty. One commentator said the amount of gold used to build the Temple was 75,000 pounds! Of course we know that God doesn’t dwell in houses made with man’s hands, but David’s heart was in a good place, as well as Solomon’s. He wanted it to be a facility where God’s people could come together and congregate in the name of the LORD. While they were there, David and Solomon (who designed it) wanted everyone to be reminded (wherever they looked) of the glory of God. 

It was all symbolic, the gold, the bronze, the silver, the flowers, the cherubim, the palm trees, and the colors, but the challenge over the years is to never lose sight of the pure and original intention. There’s more to this than meets the eye!

1 Kings 6:11–12 (NKJV) “Then the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying: 12 “Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David.”

Warren Wiersbe said, “God gave David the design for the temple (1 Chronciles 28:11–19), and David and the people provided most of the materials (1 Chronciles 29). A gentile king, Hiram, supplied the timber, and a Canaanite work force (1 Kings 9:20–22) assisted the Jewish workers. It was a cooperative effort supervised by King Solomon. God is building His “holy temple” today (Ephesians 2:19–22), and He uses the service of all kinds of people. Are you helping to build His church? They built with gold, silver, and costly stones (1 Chronicles 28:14–29:9), the same materials God wants in His church (1 Corinthians 3:10–23; see also Prov. 2:1–9; 3:13–15; 8:10–11). Every detail was spelled out, and Solomon saw to it that the design was followed perfectly.”

Acts 7:1-29

In Acts chapter 7 we have Stephen addressing the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, it would be their equivalent of our Supreme Court, but he doesn’t defend himself – amazingly it’s not a defense – it’s more of an indictment of Israel. His words are rich with Jewish history, but the main thrust of his message is the fact that the Jewish people had a pattern of rejecting their deliverers, and because of that, they rejected the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Sandy Adams said this about Stephen’s speech, “He retraces Jewish history demonstrating how God was always up to something new, yet each fresh initiative was met with Jewish resistance. Call his sermon a panoramic view of a people’s stubbornness.”

Just as the Jewish leaders were envious of Jesus (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10) they had also been envious of Joseph (Acts 7:9).

“O Lord, please rid us any and all traces of envy, it’s such an ugly and hideous sin – the resentment of benefits and blessings upon others.”

I love those five words we read about Joseph in Acts 7:9, “But God was with him.” We read that repeatedly about Joseph in his “life-story.” It doesn’t mean that Joseph was spared all the suffering, it just meant that God would sustain him through it all, and give great purpose to the pain – that’s what happens when you have the Creator as your constant companion.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve patriarchs, Joseph, Moses – Stephen knew his history in detail, even offering new information that we might not find in the Old Testament as the Holy Spirit inspired him. It’s through Stephen, we confirm the testimony of the Jewish historian, Josephus.

Acts 7:22 (NKJV) “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.

But the Jews rejected Moses (the first time), Joseph (the first time), and they rejected Jesus (the first time).

We discover through Stephen that it came into Moses’ heart to visit the Jews, to help them somehow (Acts 7:23). I wonder what would have happened if they yielded to his intervention? When they asked Moses “who made you a ruler and a judge over us?” Moses could have answered, “God.”

I’m not sure about the details on all of this, maybe it wasn’t God’s timing, maybe Moses stepped out in the flesh, maybe he wasn’t ready, but either way, Stephen is pointing out that the Jews had a history of rejecting their deliverers.

Doesn’t it break your heart to see the way that the vast majority of the world has rejected their deliverer – Jesus Christ?

Psalm 127:1-5

This Psalm of Ascents was written by Solomon. The first verse is one of my favorites, as well as verses 3-5.

Psalm 127:1 (NKJV) “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

I’ve always applied it to the church, but it is applicable to so much more. We can build, we can birth, we can labor with the greatest care and skill, but if God’s not in it, that “house” will fall (Matthew 7:24-27). The same is true with guarding the city or guarding the family, unless the Lord protects us, we’re sitting ducks. Jesus put it this way:

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

This Psalm encourages me to do things God’s way and to trust Him. I’ll build, and I’ll watch, but I will also pray and I will trust the Lord.

Part of that “house” is our families. We see in this Psalm that children are a blessing not a burden. Children are a reward from God. Children are like “arrows” we send out into the world as warriors for the Almighty. “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them…” Did you catch that word “happy?” It expresses the fact that children bring happiness – and although I can’t speak for every family, it’s almost as if Solomon is revealing, the more the merrier. 

I’m not saying you have to have 18 children. I just hope our perspective as God’s people is Biblical, that children are a blessing from God. 

Proverbs 16:28-30

V. 28 – Oh the damage that gossip, slander, and backbiting does. This verse categorizes the wicked “whisperer” as a perverse man (or woman).

V. 29-30 – Can you picture a con-man, winking as he walks and talks a certain way, enticing his neighbor in the wrong direction, with violence in his heart.

That “neighbor” might become an accomplice to a crime or even a victim of a crime. May God give us wisdom and discernment to stay away, to not be enticed.

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.

June 8, 2021

1 Kings 3:3–4:34

Isn’t it wonderful to read those opening words, “And Solomon loved the LORD…”

That’s the simple key to life, it’s the question of life, “Do I love the LORD?” That’s what Jesus asked Peter about, for that’s what it’s all about, do I truly love God? (John 14:21; 21:15-17)

If only Solomon would have stayed put with that tender heart. If only we would measure all of life with that simple common question, asking ourselves in all honesty…from the heart, do I really love the LORD?

As for King Solomon, he started off well, walking in the statutes of his father David; he sacrificed and burned incense in the “high places” but only to the LORD. He went to Gibeon to genuinely seek God, manifested in the fact that he offered up 1,000 sacrifices. I would say that Solomon REALLY wanted to hear God’s voice, His guidance, to get His help – and God did not let him down. The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream. And just as a quick side-note, God’s promise to all of us is that we’ll find Him, IF we seek Him, with ALL of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).

In the dream, God spoke to Solomon, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Solomon already had a bit of wisdom, but he now asks for more, for a double-dose, for all the wisdom possible and necessary to take care of God’s people. When Solomon asked for an “understanding heart,” he literally asked for a “hearing heart.” We read his words in:

1 Kings 3:9 (NKJV) “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

Solomon’s motivation was the nation, the congregation.

God was pleased with Solomon’s request and vowed to grant it, and as a bonus, because Solomon didn’t ask for the fringe benefits of life, God gave it to him anyways. He only asked that Solomon walk in His ways – and IF he did, the Lord would lengthen them.

This wasn’t some distant dialogue that would never amount to making any difference to anyone else. This would affect the lives of all the people. Which is why we have an account of two women claiming the same child. Solomon’s wisdom was demonstrated in determining the true mother. I can’t think of many things more important – than “family matters.” If God grants us wisdom, something He promises to do if we pray in faith (James 1:5-6), it will make a huge difference in many lives.

Solomon’s officials are named, as well as his 12 governors who provided food for him and his household, one governor each month. When we look at a map we see the extent of Solomon’s kingdom, it’s the largest Israel ever was, it was a reign of peace, where every family had his fig tree, vine, and peace all around (1 Kings 4:25).

We read something wonderful about Solomon:

1 Kings 4:29 (NKJV) “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.”

May He do the same for us.

Acts 6:1-15

The church was growing, and with their current infrastructure they weren’t able to meet the practical needs of the people, in this case the Hellenistic widows.

The enemy could easily have used this to weaken the church.

One way the church would have been weakened is if the pastor-teachers neglected the ministry of the Word and prayer in order to serve tables. Another way the church would have been weakened is if the enemy used this to divide the church, because the Hellenists were complaining against the Hebrews.

By God’s grace, they were able to appoint seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. They selected Greek Speaking men (Hellenists) which was a wise move in light of the recent events. The Apostles prayed for them, laid hands on them, and as a result, the Word of God spread, and the number of the disciples “multiplied greatly.”

Pastor Chuck said this, “In ministry, the top priority is teaching the Word of God. The fact that the Apostles delegated the job to ‘serve tables’ to the deacons doesn’t mean it wasn’t important. It simply couldn’t be the top priority of the Apostles. Men who are called to teach the Word of God need time to wait upon Him in prayer and to study His Word.”

What an amazing work God did through Steven! He wasn’t a pastor or high-ranking official in the church, but he was full of faith and power; he did great wonders and spoke with indisputable wisdom – so the enemy came after him.

D. L. Moody said, “They accused Stephen of being unorthodox in his beliefs (Acts 6:13); but yesterday’s orthodoxy had become today’s heresy, and the council was behind the times! The Law had been nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14), and the veil of the temple had been torn in two. Within a few years, both the city and the temple would be gone, and Hosea 3:4 would be fulfilled. Are you following man’s tradition or God’s truth?”

Psalm 126:1-6

Scholars are not sure on the exact background to this Psalm. Some take it at face value and see it as a time when Israel was brought back from captivity, while others say it was when the LORD defeated the Assyrian army which had surrounded Jerusalem.

Whatever the occasion was, it was like a dream come true for the people.  Have you ever experienced anything like this? When God moves and blesses in such a mighty way that it feels like you’re dreaming?

We see it, others see it, and even say it, “The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.”

The Psalmist prays for God to move again. It may have even been a time of tears (Psalm 126:5). Since this was a song of ascents, (they would sing this Psalm on their way to Jerusalem) the songwriter knew, we frequently go through hard times. It’s just a reality of life because we live in a broken world. Has it been hard for you lately? Have you been sowing in tears? Don’t lose heart my friend, cling to this promise:

Psalm 126:5 (NKJV) “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

God is aware of every tear (Psalm 56:8), He has a purpose for every pain, and a harvest for every hurt.

Proverbs 16:26-27

V. 26 – John Knox said, “No better friend drudgery has than appetite; hunger drives a man to his task.”

2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NKJV) “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”

V. 27 – To dig up evil can refer to a person digging up the past, things that God has “forgotten,” in order create trouble today, for a mud-slinging attack. At its core, however, it refers to someone working hard to do an evil work and speak evil words (digging is hard work).

Proverbs 16:27 (NLT) “Scoundrels create trouble; their words are a destructive blaze.”

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.

June 7, 2021

1 Kings 2:1–3:2

The day drew near for David to die. His opening words to his son are worth repeating if we ever find ourselves on our “deathbeds” addressing our sons:

1 Kings 2:2–3 (NKJV) “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. 3 And keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

David tells Solomon, “Everyone on earth is going to die one day, and my day has come, son, so… “man-up.” And wise up, look up, grow up, by making sure you read and heed God’s Word, the Bible. Take it to heart, Solomon, if you do, you’ll be blessed, and so will your sons after you.”

After the spiritual, came the political counsel. In one sense this chapter deals with the further “establishment” of Solomon’s throne. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Before he died, David gave Solomon wise counsel about the men who were a threat to the throne.”

Not only threats to the throne, but justice must be served, and kindness appreciated. Justice – the innocent blood that Joab shed, had to be dealt with. Kindness – the generosity of Barzillai would allow his sons to eat at the king’s table.

David didn’t say anything about Adonijah to Solomon, but in the same spirit, Solomon is watching him closely. Adonijah thinks he can outwit Solomon by talking to his mother, Bathsheba and request Abishag as wife, the last “lady” that King David had. Adonijah is able to fool Bathsheba but not Solomon. Solomon knew that such a request is much too close to a claim to the Kingdom, and the man who was hoping for a wedding and a crown, ends up at a funeral in a coffin.

The banishment of Abiathar the priest who had defected to Adonijah is a fulfillment of 1 Samuel 2:30-35 regarding the descendants of Eli.

David knew that Solomon would know what to do with Shimei, the man who had no problem cursing the king publicly. By allowing Shimei to live in the confines of Jerusalem only, Solomon was giving him some rope, and Solomon knew that it would only be a matter of time before Shimei hung himself.

Certain individuals had to be “dealt” with – they were, and so we read in:

1 Kings 2:46 (NKJV) “…thus the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.”

The treaty and marriage of Pharaoh’s daughter would be more than a political maneuver, it would be part of Solomon’s failure as a king. He would eventually build his wife a house, but first he would build his own palace, the Temple of God, and the walls around Jerusalem. Positions of leadership and politics are not easy places to navigate. If only Solomon would have heeded ALL the words of his father.

Acts 5:1-42

Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit. Apparently, they wanted the accolades of men, pretending to give all the money to the church, when in all reality, they kept some for themselves. God didn’t demand or even ask for all the money, but this couple was interested in all the glory that would come with such a sacrifice.

By His grace, God doesn’t kill everyone in the church who is guilty of this sin today, or we would be dropping like flies. But as He begins this new work, He wants the church to have a healthy fear that would lead to holiness. I hope that the reading of this account does the same to us now, as it did to them then.

Acts 5:11 (NKJV) “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”

Sandy Adams aptly said, “Peter calls them on the carpet, and they never get up.”

“O Lord, please make us the real deal; please have all of me, all the time; may I never, ever lie to the Holy Spirit.”

This resulted in powerful signs and salvation.

Acts 5:14 (NKJV) “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.”

Warren Wiersbe comments, “Dealing with sin in the church often results in new power for the church. Can you imagine a church so spiritual that people were afraid to join them? Even Peter’s shadow had power!”

The religious leaders were “filled with indignation,” and arrested the Apostles, but an angel of the Lord set them free and commanded them to go, stand in the Temple and speak to the people all the words of this life. And they did.

They were arrested again and reprimanded by the religious court. I love the accusation and pray that we at Calvary Chapel El Monte would be guilty of the same, “…you have filled Jerusalem (El Monte) with your doctrine.” (Acts 5:28) 

They “strictly” commanded the Apostles not to teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and the guys knew the Godly principle they were called to abide by:

Acts 5:29b (NKJV) “…we ought to obey God rather than men.”

As Christians we are called to submit to our governing authorities – UNLESS – those laws clearly conflict with the commands of God.

Holiness brought power, which brought signs, salvation, and eventually suffering.

Some believe that Gamaliel gave the group of religious leaders good advice, to leave them alone – if it wasn’t of the Lord, it would fade away, and if it WAS of the Lord, they wouldn’t be able to stop it anyhow. They agreed in word, but never really took his advice. Other’s believe Gamaliel’s advice was off. The teaching of some false prophets continues today. Ultimately, it would have been better if Gamaliel opened his heart, looked at the evidence and made a decision for Christ, it doesn’t do anyone any good, to stay neutral.

They beat the Apostles, but they couldn’t “beat” the Apostles, if you know what I mean. The Apostles would eventually fill the world with this doctrine.

The religious leaders warned them not to speak in the Name of Jesus, and let them go. We highlight their response in:

Acts 5:41-42, (NKJV) “So they departed from the presence of the counsel, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

Sandy Adams writes, “Black and blue, bloodied and bruised, their backs a collage of crisscrossed scars – you would expect the apostles to be nursing their wounds and indulging in a little self-pity. But no, they are rejoicing. The followers of Jesus are honored to have suffered a little for the One who suffered so much for them. Soon they are back in the temple preaching about their Savior.”

Psalm 125:1-5

The Songs of Ascents continue. These would be the songs the pilgrims would sing on their way, as they journeyed and ascended to Jerusalem.

If we trust the LORD, we’re compared to Mount Zion, a mountain that can never be moved. I think of 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Not only Mount Zion, but now think of all the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. This is a picture of the way the LORD surrounds us, His people – and not just now, but forever more.

The Psalmist knew that Jerusalem would not end with the reign of the wicked – but along the way there would be good and there would be bad in the world of men and even in the city of God – so he prays.

Do good to the good, Lord, to those who trust You.

Deal with the disobedient accordingly, Lord, hear me, don’t let them be.

Ultimately, Lord, please, bring peace to Your people.

Proverbs 16:25

In my opinion, this is one of the most important Proverbs and warnings in the entire Bible. The whole wide world is running with this messed up mindset – they think that they are the determiners of what’s right or wrong, simply by what “seems” right to them.

Here we read that God says, there is a way that “seems” right to a man – but its end is the way of death, doom, and destruction.

A wiser way of determining what’s right and wrong is simply to ask God, our Maker and Maintainer; to look to our Ruler to set the rules. Jesus Himself, told us, the answers are in the Bible. If we follow God’s Word, we will find life (John 14:6).

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.

June 6, 2021

1 Kings 1:1-53

King David is now old, cold, and bed-ridden, but (as we’ll see) he still has some spunk left in him. 

Even though Abishag, a beautiful young woman is used as David’s “sweeter-heater,” David seems to see Bathsheba as his most prominent wife, and Solomon as his most significant son, in the sense that he was called to be the next king of Israel.

But, another one of David’s sons named Adonijah exalted himself to be king (1 Kings 1:5). It’s never good when a person exalts himself (see Matthew 23:12) it even sounds ugly, huh? Shouldn’t King David have a say in any of this? What about God? Isn’t He the one who puts people in prominent positions? (Psalm 75:6-7)

When Nathan the prophet found out what Adonijah was doing, it didn’t sit well with him, he spoke with Bathsheba, and together they worked out the best way to approach the king on this matter. Apparently David had given previous word that Solomon would reign after him. Neither Bathsheba or Nathan were demanding, they were simply looking for that clarification and guidance. As Bathsheba said:

1 Kings 1:20 (NKJV) “And as for you, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, that you should tell them who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.”

David confirmed and initiated the coronation of Solomon.

1 Kings 1:29–30 (NKJV) “And the king took an oath and said, ‘As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress, 30 just as I swore to you by the LORD God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so I certainly will do this day.’”

David called Benaiah (his new general) to pave the way for Solomon, to place him on the king’s mule, to have Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet anoint him as king; to blow the trumpet with that official and royal declaration, “Long live King Solomon.” Afterwards, David had him sit on the throne to be ruler over Israel and Judah.

Adonijah had exalted himself, but God had exalted Solomon. I found it interesting that we don’t read of Solomon’s suggestions in any of this. He let the Lord do the work.

All Israel rejoiced. We read in: 

1 Kings 1:40 (NKJV) “And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound.”

Well, almost all Israel. The one’s with Adonijah were suddenly afraid. The party’s over and Adonijah flees to the sanctuary for safety. Solomon will not be a soft ruler. If Adonjah is submissive, he will survive, but if wickedness is found in him, he would die, for he had already manifested a lack of submission to God. Adonijah also manifested that spirit of Satan, who also was guilty of exalting himself.

Acts 4:1-37

The Jewish leaders are much more political than they are spiritual, and again, they arrest God’s ambassadors because the Apostles continue to preach the Name of Jesus and the reality of the resurrection. The enemy doesn’t want us to think of either, and yet we must – yes, there is life after death; the final destination is our choice – with or without God, heaven or hell? We decide. (Joshua 24:15; Matthew 7:13-14; Revelation 20:15).

The enemy might be able to limit our movement, but he can’t stop the way the message moves others, or the move of the Spirit, and after the healing of the lame man the number of believing men comes to a total of 5,000. Did you notice how Peter is a completely different man after Pentecost? He’s bold and blunt, on fire and unafraid!

Acts 4:10-12 (NKJV) “…let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. ‘This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’”

After this, the religious leaders’ eyes were suddenly opened to a particular truth. Even though Peter and John were untrained and uneducated in their Jerusalem schools, they marveled at their brilliance and boldness, and realized (the key to all ministry) “that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) May that be our credential as well – and may it be evident to others.

The religious leaders didn’t know what to do, so they commanded them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John would not concede. On the contrary, when they gathered together to pray, they prayed for more boldness. It’s absolutely amazing to me that they didn’t even pray for protection…even though they were threatened by the authorities.

How beautiful to see, in the close of the chapter, not coerced communism, but Christian love and care for one another. This sharing was not mandated by anyone, it was purely voluntary because they were of one heart and soul, and they experienced great power and grace (Acts 4:32).

“O Lord, please move mightily in Your church once again; grant us boldness, fill us with Your Spirit, help us to be more interested in Your glory and the salvation of souls, than even our own safety. May none of us lack anything, simply because we have You as our Shepherd, Your work through the church of love and generosity.”

Psalm 124:1-8

If you’re a believer you should say it, go ahead and say it (out loud) – “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side…we would have been swallowed alive.”

Sometimes I’m struck with the fact that if it weren’t for God’s constant protection, the enemy would have killed and consumed me from day one. The Bible says that Satan is roaming around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

But God has protected us from our enemies, God has protected us from Tsunamis, God has protected us from their traps and all of their teeth.

It’s good to sing that Psalm, that song regarding the fact that the Lord is on our side, He’s our helper in life, who happens to be the same One who made heaven and earth!

Does that comfort you at all? I hope so!

Proverbs 16:24

Your words are more powerful than you can ever imagine. Your words of truth and encouragement are beneficial to the brethren. As you speak the truth in love, it’s good for the hearers spiritually, emotionally, and even physically!

Derek Kidner, “To say nice things when we can, is a simple benefit we may bring a person, in mind and thence in body.”

Charles Bridges, “Pleasure and health flow from the words of man in the things of God. The eunuch was encouraged by Philip’s exposition of precious Scripture (Acts 8:35–39). The two disciples were refreshed from their conversation with their divine Master on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:32). When God is the subject and his Spirit the teacher, pleasant indeed will be the words spoken by Christians. This will exceed any earthly enjoyment.”

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.

June 5, 2021

2 Samuel 23:24–24:25

The list of the names of David’s “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:8) continues. Out of all the thousands of soldiers, these were the guys that stood out, the elite. I always sigh with sadness when I see that Uriah was a part of this list, and yet David slept with his wife, had him murdered, and then married Bathsheba.

This next series of events can be a bit confusing. The anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, so we read that God moved David against them, to  number the people (2 Samuel 24:1). To make matters even more complicated, when this event is recorded in 1 Chronicles 21:1, the Bible says it was Satan who moved David to number the people.

I found the following explanation to be helpful, “Both statements are true. Although it was Satan who immediately incited David, ultimately it was God who permitted Satan to carry out this provocation. Although it was Satan’s design to destroy David and the people of God, it was God’s purpose to humble David and the people and teach them a valuable spiritual lesson. This situation is quite similar to the first two chapters of Job in which both God and Satan are involved in the suffering of Job. Similarly, both God and Satan are involved in the crucifixion. Satan’s purpose was to destroy the Son of God (John 13:2; 1 Cor 2:8). God’s purpose was to redeem humankind by the death of His Son (Acts 2:14-39).” – Thomas Howe; Norman L. Geisler, Big Book of Bible Difficulties

David should have never numbered the people, and neither should we. May we simply trust God who can save by many or few (1 Samuel 14:6). 

After he received the results from Joab, David was convicted. His confession may have helped, but it was too late to avoid the consequences. God sent the prophet Gad to David with options on how Israel would be disciplined. David chose the shorter sentence, and the one that left them ONLY in the hands of the Lord. A plague hit the land and 70,000 men of the people died (David’s army just shrank)! It is also possible that the total tally did not include women and children. The angel was just about to destroy Jerusalem (imagine that) and the LORD showed mercy.

David was devastated by it all. We read his words:

2 Samuel 24:17 (NKJV) “Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, ‘Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.’”

David should have thought about that BEFORE he numbered the people.  It may sound harsh, but one sinner can affect an entire church or nation (Joshua 7; 1 Corinthians 5:6). Solomon would later write in:

Ecclesiastes 9:18 (NKJV) “Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.”

Again the prophet Gad communicates to David God’s command, to build an altar to God on the threshing floor of Araunah.  Araunah was willing to grant the property to David, but the king insisted on paying full price. Sometimes we do all that we can to give the least possible to God, but David teaches us on this:

2 Samuel 24:24 (NKJV) “Then the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.”

It’s been said that, “Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing.” I need to always search my heart, not regarding salvation, for that’s free, and ministry is truly, all about grace. But have I been giving to God the leftovers, or worse, the “hand- me downs?” Or have I been paying the price to give to God obediently, sacrificially, and honorably?

As we begin to close in on the end of David’s life as recorded in 2 Samuel, Bible teachers note that the two most significant sins in David’s life, were covered with so much grace, that they were transformed into two of the most epic blessings to Israel. The first was Solomon, who was born of Bathsheba. The second is the Temple that would be built on this site – this piece of property David bought from Araunah. Such grace reminds me of what we read in:

Romans 5:20 (NKJV) “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”

Acts 3:1-26

First of all, I’m blessed to see the brothers heading out to the Temple to pray – it was the hour of prayer, 3 PM.

I can relate to Peter in one sense, “Silver and gold, I do not have…” but I can’t relate to him on another level. I wish I had the faith of Peter, to heal the lame man, even to be used as an instrument to heal any man. “O Father, please work this work in our hearts.”

When the healed man started walking, leaping, and praising God, the people saw the miracle and started looking at Peter and John thinking they were something special. Peter corrects them.

Acts 3:12 (NKJV) “So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?’

Acts 3:16 (NKJV) “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

It’s not our power, and it’s not our godliness; it’s pure and simple childlike faith in Jesus that brings healing to people. I’m gripped by the truth that I’ll never be worthy, and I’ll never be able when it comes to ministry, it’s not us, it’s Him…and we’re so grateful to God for that.

Peter goes on to seize the opportunity to preach Jesus to those who were present. Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies – the Christ was called to suffer, He was the Prophet Moses spoke about, hear Him or die! He was the descendant spoken of in the promise to Abraham, that through him the whole world would be blessed (Isaiah 53; Deuteronomy 18; Genesis 12). There are over 300 Old Testament prophecies regarding Jesus’s first coming, how could they not believe?

One of my favorite passages is:

Acts 3:19 (NKJV) “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Wiersbe said something interesting in this section, “Reach out to the individual (Acts 3:7) and God will give you opportunities for a bigger harvest (see also John 4:28 and forward). Peter and John were not so caught up with large crowds that they had no time for individuals. Nor were they so busy in ministry that they could not pray. They had learned their lessons well from the Lord Jesus (Mark 1:35; Luke 8:40).”

Amen! Such important lessons.

Psalm 123:1-4

The Songs of Ascents continue.

We all need mercy…so we look to the Lord (at least we should). We lift our eyes to Him, we lift our voices to Him, we lift our hearts to Him. Whether we find ourselves in the middle of a “trying” trial, in the deepest valley, or on top of the mountain, we look to the Lord and trust Him to do what He does and to have His way.

The Psalmist speaks in v. 4 of being mocked and mistreated; and we do know that Israel has gone through some very hard times throughout the ages. 

If only we’d look to the Lord (and nowhere else) until He has mercy on us. We are to glance at other things, but gaze on God. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus!

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

If we look to Jesus, we will see His love demonstrated on the cross, and we will see the way He finished His “race.” He’s the one who put us in the race and He will help us finish ours.

Proverbs 16:21-23

V. 21, 23 – These two verses remind us of the connection between the heart and the lips (Luke 6:45). If my heart is right, I will hear it in my words. If my heart is bad, it will be exposed in my words. If my heart is right, I will be wise and prudent (caring for the future) and my words will touch and teach lives.

V. 22 – Imagine the benefit of a well, or a wellspring in those days! It would be a close and convenient source for water (an inexpressible benefit in life). This is the person who has Godly wisdom and understanding. But the fool has no such wellspring. As a matter of fact, the fool refuses to learn and turn, even though He is corrected by God, (verbally and circumstantially) he doesn’t take it to 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.

June 4, 2021

2 Samuel 22:1–23:23

This chapter is almost identical to Psalm 18. It’s a look back at David’s life and the way the LORD transformed his troubles into triumphs. Although David made many mistakes, and had his setbacks, his heart was in a good place, as Paul summarized in Acts 13:22 (referring to 1 Samuel 13:14), how David had a heart after God’s own heart. His name means “Beloved,” and God showed and showered him with His gracious love.

David gave God all the glory for the victory over his enemies. This soldier was not ashamed to say that he prayed, and God answered, that it wasn’t him and his skill as a warrior, it was the LORD who gave him favor in his fights. David almost died, many times.

2 Samuel 22:6–7 (NKJV) “The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. 7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears.”

Let’s keep praying! God will move on our behalf – though it may take some time, don’t lose heart (Luke 18:1).

The Lord will come, He will “invade” our world on our behalf, and one day we’ll say the same thing David said:

2 Samuel 22:19b (NKJV) “…but the LORD was my support.”

When David speaks of God rewarding him for his righteousness, we understand two things. First of all, anything good in us is God, His righteousness is imputed and imparted to us. Secondly, David WAS blameless, he wasn’t guilty of what Saul and others accused him of, he was innocent of the specific accusations against him. 

God gave David victory after victory, but God also gave David strength and wisdom to fight victoriously. It was through God that David was able to run, and leap, and have the strength to swing swords, shoot arrows with his arms; God even gave him that courage in his heart.

After all that David went through, I thought it was interesting that David described God as a gentle God, even to the point of saying that it was God’s gentleness that made David great (2 Samuel 22:36).

David didn’t just beat his enemies, he beat them down, and it was done  because God had armed him with strength for the battle (2 Samuel 22:38-43).

God gave David domestic and foreign favor. God was his Rock of salvation, his avenger, his deliverer; David sees it so clearly now as his life takes its final turn and he writes this Psalm as an expression of gratitude.

2 Samuel 22:50 (NKJV) “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name.”

In 2 Samuel 23 we have some of the final words of David – he knew who he was. Just a man (the son of Jesse), but a man God had graciously raised up and anointed to be a king and the sweet Psalmist of Israel. It’s okay to discover who we are in Christ – without Him we are nothing and can do nothing, but in Him and with Him we’re blessed beyond measure and able to do, “all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

God not only spoke through David, He spoke to David, loud and clear:

2 Samuel 23:3b (NKJV) “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”

May all leaders take heed!

God would show grace to David’s house and lineage, but the sons of rebellion would be thrust away.

Finally, I always love reading about David’s soldiers, his mighty men of valor (heroic courage). I love the way Eleazar’s hand stuck to the sword (2 Samuel 23:10) symbolic of the way our hands and heart need to stick to God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). I love the way Abishai killed the lion, in a pit, on a snowy day. This points to a victory over the worst enemy, in the worst place, and under the worst circumstances (2 Samuel 23:20). No doubt the lion is symbolic of Satan. As Christians, we also, are soldiers in Jesus’ army (2 Timothy 2:3-4). May God grant us that grace to fight valiantly.

Acts 2:1-47

The Feast of Pentecost had fully come. Jewish tradition tells us that the law was given on the Day of Pentecost. The Bible tells us that when the law was given, there were accompanying signs that brought fear to the people of Israel and caught their attention. Jewish tradition also tells us that when God marked out the nations in Genesis 10, He marked them out to 70 nations. After the Tower of Babel this led to 70 languages. Here in Acts 2, we have an undoing of the Tower of Babel (so to speak). God got their attention with the noise of the rushing mighty wind, and flames of fire over 120 people, and then tongues spoken in their native languages, to men who had come from all over the world, in all their languages.

It’s no wonder some asked, “Whatever could this mean?” (Acts 2:12)

Peter then stands up and delivers an amazing message.

 He begins by backing up their practice/experience, Biblically. Peter quotes from the book of Joel, how God would pour out His Spirit in the last days, how God’s sons and daughters would prophesy, in the sense that they were speaking miraculously. Of course all this was not simply a sign to itself, the sign was intended to lead others to God…so we read:

Joel 2:32 (NKJV) “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

It’s interesting that Peter goes on to preach the Name of Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ, offering more Scriptural support out of Psalm 16:8-11 and Psalm 110:1, Christ crucified, and risen from the dead.

Sandy Adams said, “Peter, the man who proved chicken when the rooster crowed, now preaches with power. The power of Pentecost turns wimps into witnesses!”

We also need the personal power of the Holy Spirit. Have you been baptized with the Spirit as a believer? Do you seek to be filled daily with the Spirit? Read Luke 11:9-13 and Ephesians 5:18. We can’t only be determined, we must be dependent upon God, we need Him, and we must be under His influence.

By the Word of God anointed by the Spirit of God, the people were cut to the heart (convicted by God). They asked Peter for the next step, and Peter guides them in:

Acts 2:38–39 (NKJV) “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’”

Not that baptism saves us, it’s simply an outward expression of an inward work. To be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ is an expression of faith in Jesus Christ – and this is how we’re saved. It’s a promise to us, and our children, and every generation to come.

On that first altar call 3,000 souls were added to the church born that day. Wow!

And God began to move. The saint became steadfast.

Acts 2:42 (NKJV) “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Acts 2:42 is the key to victory and growth. These are to be the practices for us as Christians, individually and congregationally. Am I (are you) practicing these four fundamentals faithfully?

1. The Word of God (the Bible)

2. Fellowship (talking together about the things of God, the deep things of God)

3. The Breaking of Bread (taking communion together, centered on the cross)

4. Prayer (never give up on your prayer life individually and with others)

Acts 2:47b (NKJV) “…and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

As we do our part, God will do His.

Psalm 122:1-9

Another Psalm of Ascents; the people would sing these songs as they journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate the various feasts.

Warren Wiersbe, “Do you really rejoice when you have opportunity to go to God’s house and worship Him? We today can travel easily to a place of worship, but the ancient Jews had to walk a long distance. Yet the pilgrim was happy to go to God’s house.”

Jerusalem is compact, many people in a relatively small geographical setting, but it’s because Jerusalem was blessed with the temple, it was the place of David’s descendants – therefore the people were joyful in going to Jerusalem and therefore all people are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Today when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we not only think of the Jews, we think of all people, for ultimately peace will not happen, until the Prince of Peace, Jesus, comes and rules the world from the city of Jerusalem.

Proverbs 16:19-20

V. 19 – It’s better to be poor and humbly saved, than to be rich and proudly doomed. Jesus poses that pressing question:

Mark 8:36 (NKJV) “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

V. 20 – In one sense we can see here the formula for success. We don’t just read the Word, we get passionate about obeying God’s Word, we, “…heed it wisely.” And the reason we do so is because we trust God completely. I thoroughly and unreservedly believe that God knows what’s best for me. As I do things His way, I find the “secret” to happiness.

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.

June 3, 2021

2 Samuel 20:14–21:22

General Joab and his soldiers are tracking down the rebel Sheba who has rejected David as king and has highly influenced the men of Israel. They find him hiding in the city of Abel, so they surround the city and begin to batter down its gates. A wise woman addresses Joab, assesses the situation and saves the city and all its citizens by granting Joab what he asked for, the head of Sheba. Joab blows the trumpet, the “battle” is over.

I’m reminded of:

Ecclesiastes 9:15a (NKJV) “Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city.”

In this case, it was a wise woman.

We read in 2 Samuel 20:23-26 about the structure and identity of some of David’s administration. Seeing that Joab is restored as the general of David’s army is an indication that David recognized that it was God’s will for Joab to be general. King David resisted it for a time, but then yielded to the Lord. Godly leaders don’t merely choose people they prefer, they appoint those whom God has ordained.

I always love to read about David “inquiring” of the Lord. Apparently towards the end of David’s reign there was a famine in the land that lasted three years, so David prayed and asked God why? God revealed to him it was because of a time when Saul tried to wipe out the Gibeonites. Joshua had made a covenant with them (Joshua 9) NOT to destroy them, but rather to protect them; but Saul had violated that covenant sometime during his reign (we don’t have a Biblical account of it). David asked the Gibeonites what it would take to make things right, and seven men of Saul’s descendants were hung. After that, David buried the bones of Saul, Jonathan, and the seven men who had been executed, and then we read in:

2 Samuel 21:14 (NKJV) “…and after that God heeded the prayer for the land.”

Sin that is not dealt with will hinder our prayers (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2).

In case you’re wondering, this is not a normal practice of God, that the children would pay for the sins of the fathers (see Ezekiel 18) but we also need to know that our sins do affect our children. There’s also a possibility these descendants who died, had blood on their hands. One thing we can know for certain is that our God is a JUST God.

David went out to battle with his men, but his age is beginning to show, he grew faint and could have died at the hands of Ishbi-Benob, a giant’s descendant. What a tragedy it would have been for David to die at the hands of a giant! God didn’t allow it – He protected David through Abishai, and David was advised NOT to go out to the battlefield any longer. Age does change us and our activities in life, not that we ever retire from serving the Lord, but the nature of service will vary.

David was described as the “lamp” of Israel, for he was their anointed king. Israel found favor under his leadership, for although he made many mistakes, his heart was right in the sight of God (1 Samuel 16:7; Acts 13:22).

David trained his soldiers well. They saw his example throughout the years and now David’s mighty men were protecting Israel and slaying giants. It’s a good testimony on how we should aspire to do our best to pass the baton on to the next generation.

Acts 1:1-26

The book of Acts is part-2, so to speak. Luke tells us that the former account (the Gospel of Luke) is just the beginning of all that Jesus began both to do and teach. Jesus will now build His church through His people who are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells His followers to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Spirit, and then they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth!

Jesus then ascends into heaven and the angels testify to the fact that He would come again one day, the same way He left. The 120 disciples stay and pray in the upper room.

“God’s desire is that our lives reflect Jesus…but we can’t do that by our own power. We cannot forgive. We cannot love. We cannot be kind and considerate like Jesus. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be transformed into His image and be witnesses to Him.” – Pastor Chuck Smith

How beautiful the way the 120 prayed! (Acts 1:14)

Wiersbe wrote this, “God shares His power with us as we pray and ask Him for His help. Throughout Acts, notice Luke’s emphasis on prayer. The first church was a praying church.”

I seriously question whether or not Peter should have chosen an Apostle to replace Judas. I believe the book of Acts makes it clear that Paul was chosen by Jesus to replace Judas. Paul was empowered by the Spirit. Peter did his best to be led by the Scriptures and even though I question his application in this situation, I do believe the Lord will use His Word to guide us!

Wiersbe wrote, “If we are faithful to read God’s Word, study it, meditate on it, and obey it, God will guide us when we have decisions to make. The Holy Spirit teaches us (John 14:26; 16:13–14) and directs us when we pray and seek the Lord’s will. The Holy Spirit uses truth, not ignorance; so the more facts we have, the better. We should use our common sense but not lean on it (Proverbs 3:5–6), for we walk by faith and not by sight. If we sincerely move in the wrong direction, the Lord will show us (Acts 16:6–10; Philippians 3:15), so we need not fear. It is good for believers to read the Word and pray together as they seek the mind of the Lord.”

Psalm 121:1-8

As I read this Psalm, I immediately think of:

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

“In time of need…” For me, that’s daily, that “time” is constant, I always need help from the Lord.

The Psalmist asks the question, “Where does my help come from?” But he knows what to do and where to look; he knows that we need to pray and look “up” to God, because our help comes only from Him (who also happens to be the One who made heaven and earth)!

He will protect us, He will keep us, He will shade us from the heat. He will preserve us from all evil, and even our souls.

Over the years I’ve had the gracious blessing, privilege, and opportunity to travel to far away places, such as Mexico, and places in South America, like Peru, Colombia, and Chile; to the other side of the world…places like Cambodia, Nepal, and even Israel. Whenever I journey, I take to heart a plaque we have hanging in our home that has this passage out of today’s Psalm:

Psalm 121:8 (NKJV) “The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”

Proverbs 16:18

In the Bible, (according to God) pride is NOT good. Pride is the root of all sin. Pride is the reason the Devil rebelled. Pride can be confidence in self, in my own goodness, my own achievements, my own qualities…and can even lead me to thinking… I don’t need God (that’s the worst place to be).

Peter was proud and overconfident. When Jesus warned Peter that he would deny Him, he defied the Lord right there and then. He said the others might deny, but he never would. This led to Peter not praying, following at a distance, and warming himself by the enemies’ fire. It led to his “fall.”

Humility is the antithesis of pride. It’s an honest assessment of self. I know God loves me and I’m valued by Him, but I also know that I am nothing and can do nothing without Him (John 15:5). Humility is grieved by who I am apart from Christ, but it is encouraged by who I am as a part of the body of Christ.

May we have a healthy humility, and flee all forms of pride.

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.

June 2, 2021

2 Samuel 19:11–20:13

David could never have been king without God stretching forth His hand to bring it to pass, but that doesn’t mean David did nothing. Here we read of the elders of Israel once again considering David to be king, so David sends a message to the men of Judah to do the same. David sends Zadok the priest, to the elders of Judah and even to Amasa, vowing to make him commander of Israel’s army.

Just as Absalom had swayed Israel in the wrong direction, David swayed them in the right direction. One of the most important principles in life is that we are called to do the possible, while God does the impossible. We knock on doors and check the locks, but it’s God who opens those doors – and in this case, once again, God opened the door to crown David as king.

Another important maxim in life, is that it’s not just about the destination, it’s also about the journey along the way. On their journey to Jerusalem, the Bible chronicles the different individuals who came to welcome David back, along with his entourage. 

Among the 1,000 Benjamites welcoming David back was: Shimei, Ziba, and Mephibosheth. Shimei was the man who cursed David on his way “out,” who now cowers in fear and admits he has sinned. Justice in those days would say that he deserved to die, but David showed him grace (for now).

Another man who welcomed the king was Ziba with his 15 sons and 20 servants, and then there’s Mephibosheth, which brings up a few questions. Ziba previously told King David that Mephibosheth was against him, but now we find him with his lame feet uncared for, mustache untrimmed, he hadn’t washed since King David had gone, he said he was in mourning at the king’s departure, so David questions him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” Mephibosheth explains how Ziba had deceived him, and slandered him to the king. As a lame man he was virtually helpless to get up and go – but Mephibosheth says, “Whatever you decide, your majesty, I will yield, for you are like an angel to me.” David decides not to investigate, and rules in favor of both men.

David wanted Barzillai the Gileadite to go on to live with him in the palace, but Barzillai chose to spend his final days in his hometown with his family. He asked David to take his servant Chimham in his stead. Chimham no doubt showed potential and would be young enough to serve and enjoy.

It’s interesting to see Israel and Judah now “fighting” over David (2 Samuel 19:41-43). Life is filled with fickle people, isn’t it?

Once David arrives in Jerusalem he gets word that a rebel named Sheba, a Benjamite (keep in mind that King Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin) makes his rebellion known, and the men of Israel followed Sheba, discounting the recommendation of their elders.

This brings out the warrior in David, who returns and asks Amasa (his new general) to gather his men and report for duty. When Amasa delays, David sends Abishai (Joab’s brother) to deal with the uprising (David was trying to replace Joab in the process). On their way to Sheba they run into Amasa, and Joab kills him with a kiss and a sword. As the world often says, “All is fair in love and war,” but Joab would eventually pay the price.

John 21:1-25

We can’t see it as clearly in the English translation, but in the Greek language Peter appears to be going back to permanently fishing for fish, rather than being that fisher of men God had called him to be (Luke 5:10). To make matters worse, Peter was taking six of the disciples with him!

What grace, that Jesus went to them. What grace that they caught nothing that night. What grace that that morning they caught 153 fish, but only at the direction of Jesus. What a difference between doing things my way, and doing things God’s way!

John was the first to recognize it was the Lord, but Peter was the most enthusiastic as he plunges into the sea, to see Jesus. I’ve always found it fascinating the way John gives us the number of fish which were caught – 153 (John 21:11). There is much speculation as to why they counted, and why the number is provided in the Gospel of John – for John is saturated with symbolism. William Barclay offered some insight, “The simplest of the explanations is that given by Jerome. He said that in the sea there are 153 different kinds of fishes; and that the catch is one which includes every kind of fish; and that therefore the number symbolizes the fact that someday men of all nations will be gathered together to Jesus Christ.”

After breakfast, Jesus gets personal with Peter. In His dealings with the denying disciple, and now the deserting disciple, I’m reminded over and over again, of God’s grace in my life. I’m also challenged as someone who longs to serve the Lord obediently. Jesus simply asks Peter if he loves (agapes) him more than these. True ministry should flow from a love for the Lord. But Peter is honest (different Greek words are translated love), and he admits to the Lord that his love is not yet agape, it is phileo (the Greek word speaks of a brotherly love or a fond affection, and not that Divine and unconditional love). There has been much speculation as to the “more than these.” It’s probably best that it’s not specified because ultimately, we must love Jesus supremely, more than any worldly ambitions, possessions, or relations.

Jesus then reinstates Peter to ministry, commanding Him to feed His lambs, to tend His sheep, and feed His sheep. That was Peter’s calling. What would you say is your calling? Whatever it is, it all flows from loving the Lord and knowing that the people we’re called to serve belong to Him and need His love, His guidance, and His Word.

The third time Jesus questions Peter (He did it three times due to the three denials) Jesus comes down to Peter’s level, do you phileo Me? Peter is grieved by this – perhaps it’s because of the repetition. It may also be due to the fact that Jesus came down to his level of “love” only to a certain extent. Peter is right when he says, “Lord, You know all things…” He knows how much we really love Him.

In the end, Peter does what many of us do; he gets his eyes on others, “Lord, what about John?” Jesus said, don’t worry about him, you follow Me. He had always said that hadn’t He? That’s all He asks of all of us, to follow Him. Let’s do our best to do just that…all the way home.

In closing the book John mentions the fact that there were many other things that Jesus did, which were not written in his Gospel – so MANY things, that if it was all written down, the world itself couldn’t contain the books that would be written. From what I’ve heard, the 4 Gospels only chronicle 52 days in the life of Christ, but His public ministry lasted approximately 1, 277 days. Can you imagine all the words and works of Jesus Christ? I wonder if those books will be available in heaven?

Psalm 120:1-7

Expositor’s, “Psalms 120-134 form a collection known as the “Songs of Ascents,” which in turn is a major part of the Great Hallel psalms (120-36; see comment on Psalm 113). The meaning of the designation “song of ascents” is not clear. Likely the songs were sung in the three annual festival processions, as the pilgrims “ascended” to Jerusalem (Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16).”

I found it fascinating that immediately following Psalm 119, which is a Psalm all about the Truth (the Truth of God’s Word) the Psalmist deals directly with lies. I’ve said it over the years, that lies are the language of Lucifer, the dialect of the Devil. As a matter of fact, I was thinking how the whole world is hearing and reading his “lie-brary” every day! 

In this case the Psalmist speaks of personal slander that is being spoken about him that’s just tearing him up. He prays for God to deliver him from those lying lips and deceitful tongue…they were like arrows to his heart. The coals of the broom tree are explained by NET notes, “The wood of the broom plant was used to make charcoal, which in turn was used to fuel the fire used to forge the arrowheads.”

The enemy is an accuser, and sadly there are many who live there daily, in that “nation of accusation.” Our heart aches for this person:

Psalm 120:6–7 (NKJV) “My soul has dwelt too long With one who hates peace. 7 I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”

This Psalm clearly brings to mind another Psalm:

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

Proverbs 16:16-17

V. 16 – Which will you choose? Temporal wealth or eternal wisdom? Sometimes a person is blessed with both (God knows what we can handle) but many times a person must choose. I can spend time trying to make money, or I can spend time, energy and passion doing my best to grow in wisdom (Matthew 6:24).

V. 17 – Part of a new start is examining my life and asking God to show me my sin. Once He does (usually through prayer or failure). I then ask Him for help – for grace to repent and overcome, to “depart from evil.”

There’s an element of safety and keeping in Christianity.

Jude 21a (NKJV) “Keep yourselves in the love 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.