June 1, 2021

2 Samuel 18:1–19:10 

David organized his army under the leadership of Joab, Abiahai, and Ittai. Initially David longed to be on the battlefield, but he wisely listened to counsel – on both sides it seemed to be simply a matter of killing the “king.”

The people of Israel (followers of Absalom) were overthrown in battle because God favored and fought for David. The result? Twenty-thousand enemies of David died that day, including his son, Absalom. It was a strange way to die – what was he doing on a donkey and not on a horse, is it because they were in the woods? How did his hair or head get stuck in a tree? It turns out, he wasn’t much of a warrior, and not much of a king, he was far too easily fooled by Hushai, so he fell, caught in the chords of his own pride. He thought he could take justice into his own hands and bring down the anointed of the Lord.

The man who initially saw Absalom dangling, was wise in not taking his life; David and Joab surely would have killed him for that. The only one who could have killed Absalom and gotten away with it, was Joab, which he did swiftly. The ten men who followed after him only sped the process and spread the blame.

When news reached David of his son’s death, he mourned understandably, but not wisely. Enter Joab, the only one who could knock some sense into him, forcing David to consider the alternative.

Maybe I’m not seeing everything properly, but I think I side with Joab on this one. It’s difficult to admit, but I believe that Absalom deserved to die and David should have swallowed the bitter pill with peace. David should have expressed gratitude to God and to those who fought for him. He eventually did…and God began orchestrating events to restore him to the throne.

John 20:1-31 

The synoptic Gospels mention the other ladies who came to anoint the body of Jesus, while John hones-in on Mary Magdalene. Have you ever noticed how some writers simply summarize the story, while other writers go deeper into the lives of the individuals within the story? John gives us insight into the lives of individuals, such as Nicodemus, the Woman at the well, and others; we have a little more about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and this account of Mary Magdalene is truly touching.

Mark 16:9 reveals that Mary was the first one the risen Lord appeared to, it also tells us that Jesus had cast 7 demons out of her (see also Luke 8:2). Mary never forgot what Jesus did for her. She loved the Lord so much that she was having a hard time leaving the tomb – for not only had Jesus died, but now His body was missing. She was weeping and weeping unable to be comforted, but her tears turned to joy, and the mourner became a missionary when she saw the risen Lord. 

O Lord, may I never forget where I came from, what You’ve done for me; how You’ve delivered me from “7” demons. May I keep in mind where I’d be without You, and always be grateful…as Mary was.

Mary recognized Jesus when He called her by name. Mary didn’t want to let go, but she had to, for Christ would ascend to the Father.

Some people struggle with the fact that Jesus calls the Father His God (John 20:17), but in His humanity, Jesus emptied Himself of His Divine privileges, and that’s exactly who the Father was to Him. This was epitomized on the cross where Jesus said, “My God, My God…why have You forsaken Me?” This doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t God, for John started the book with that emphasis (John 1:1). He showed it throughout his gospel and Thomas proclaims it unashamedly in John 20:28 as He acknowledges Jesus with those wonderful words, “My Lord and My God…” As Christians we believe in the blessed Trinity.

Prior to that, Jesus had appeared to the disciples when Thomas wasn’t there. Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). This is when the Spirit came to dwell in them. Later, in Acts 2, the Spirit would come upon them to empower them to be witnesses (see John 14:17; Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8).

I’ve always been mesmerized by the words Jesus shares with the guys, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Lord, help us to know that You’ve sent us into the world for Your glory, for Your honor, for Your purposes – not ours…even as the Father sent You! (that’s such a monumental mission).

In John 20:23 Jesus is not speaking of men having the power to absolve sins in the sense that the Catholic church teaches (if you confess them to a priest). This is simply in reference to the fact that the church has the power to declare the conditions on which forgiveness is granted – through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We haven’t seen Jesus with our physical eyes, but the historical evidence of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection proves to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is the Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus’ words to Thomas apply to us, that although we’ve never seen Jesus, we believe in Him, and we’re blessed by that (John 20:29). Peter wrote the same thing – that we love Jesus, even though we’ve never seen Him (1 Peter 1:8).

John 20:31 would be a great passage to memorize:

John 20:31 (NKJV) “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

This is the purpose of the Gospel of John – written so we’d believe in Jesus, that He’s the Christ, the Son of God, and have life in His name. If you already believe, I pray you’d be strengthened in your faith, that you’d work out your salvation and reach out to others. If you have not yet placed your faith in Jesus, I pray you would do that today, even now, “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)

Psalm 119:153-176 

We come now to the close of this amazing chapter. The Psalmist has not lost or lessened his love for God and His Word in the slightest.

He wrote in Psalm 119:159, “I love Your precepts.” In Psalm 119:163, “I love Your law.” And in a fascinating passage along the same lines of loving God’s Word, he wrote in:

Psalm 119:165 (NKJV) “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”

Do I love God’s Word? It brings great peace and keeps me from stumbling if I read it to heed it, if I study it in sincerity.

May I never turn from His testimonies, and never forget His law, for God is willing to revive me repeatedly (Psalm 119:154, 156, 159). And I need that!

A popular passage on the Verbal Plenary inspiration of Scripture is:

Psalm 119:160 (NKJV) “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”

The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is truth. Jesus said every little letter and mark of the Bible is inspired (Matthew 5:18) and Paul said the same thing about the scope of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).

This section is too rich and deep to touch on everything, but here are few more things that stood out to me:

Psalm 119:162 (NKJV) “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.”

Seriously? Do I?

Psalm 119:164 (NKJV) “Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments.”

This Psalm speaks frequently of praising God; it seems that worship and the Word go together. Imagine if we actually did praise Him…seven times a day! All day long!

Psalm 119:176 (NKJV) “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”

And then there’s that tendency we all have to stray (Isaiah 53:6). It happens to all of us, let’s be honest. We veer a little off the path from time to time. But if we stay in the Word and pray “on our knees,” God will seek us, often THROUGH His Word, and bring us back, right where we belong!

Proverbs 16:14-15

How foolish it would be to oppose the king of a country in those days. Keep in mind that the context of this Proverb is not a democratic environment but a full-fledged monarchy. We would be wise to always appease our king, to function in his favor.

If this is true of human kings, how much more the King of kings? Only by placing our faith in Christ will we find favor (grace) in His sight! (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

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 31, 2021

2 Samuel 17:1-29 

If Abasalom would have followed Ahithophel’s advice, David would have been defeated. But David not only had Hushai on his side, David had God on his side! Hushai was wise in alluring Absalom through pride, to lead this mighty army in a grand victory over the great David – no doubt Absalom relished in the glory of it all. 

Husahi warns David to flee, sending the message through the two sons of Zadok, Jonathan and Ahimaaz as God protects them every step of the way, all would go “well.” You can already tell who’s going to win this war – the Bible is true, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Ahithophel sees the writing on the wall – he’s fully aware of the fall of Abasalom, and the enemy gets a hold of this man, completely, by tragically influencing him to take his own life. 

2 Samuel 17:23 (NKJV) “Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb.”

My heart aches whenever I hear of someone committing suicide – this is the agenda of the adversary, to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

David takes his position. Absalom organizes his army. It’s sad to see and say that all Israel was encamped against David in Gilead. How did it come to this? Three letters s-i-n.

O Lord, please help me to learn from the mistakes of these men. Help me to ALWAYS remember that God is not mocked, whatever a man sows, that he will also reap, and we won’t reap it alone, others will feel the pain, even experience death. 

John 19:23-42 

It’s hard to fathom the thought that the soldiers were playing games at the foot of the cross, but while the God of the universe was in the process of redeeming us from our sins, they were casting lots for Jesus’ Tunic. It was a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. Keep in mind that Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies at His first coming.

While Jesus was on the cross He thought ONLY of others, and of course this was His opportunity to make sure that His mother was among believers. Jesus entrusted her into the care of John the Beloved.

After Jesus had finished the work, He said, “I thirst.” Considering His others-oriented heart, and lack of thought for self, it almost surprises me, that He would say, “I thirst.” It’s natural that His tongue and lips would be parched, but why would He say this at this point? I’m a firm believer the reason for the request for a drink, something to loosen His lips was because He had something to say. And that’s exactly what follows.

John 19:30 (NKJV) “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

The other Gospels tell us that Jesus said this loudly, crying out for all to hear, “IT IS FINISHED!” The Greek word means to accomplish, to finish, to pay in full. That’s what Jesus did on that cross, He finished the work of salvation for us. He paid our sin-debt in full.

The fact that they didn’t have to break His bones, and that they pierced His side are other detailed prophecies concerning Christ from Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10.

The water and blood not only testified of the fact that Jesus died, but it also tells us how He died – of a broken heart. His heart had ruptured, and the sac surrounding his heart was filled with fluid. 

O Lord, I’m so sorry that I not only killed and crucified You, but I broke Your heart. Please help me not to break Your heart with my sin, any more.

Joseph of Arimathea laid his life on the line, by asking for the body of Jesus, otherwise our Lord’s corpse may have been devoured by beasts. We’re grateful to him for rising up, as well as Nicodemus, and the ladies (unlikely heroes). They prepared Jesus’ body and laid it in a rich man’s tomb…but it would only be for the weekend.

Psalm 119:129-152 

This time the Psalmist covers three Hebrew letters of the alphabet. Keep in mind that each stanza would begin with the same letter – this would help in the memorization of the text…all about the Bible.

The Psalmist saw God’s Word as wonderful light that he loved to keep. I’ve always appreciated the heart behind v. 136.

Psalm 119:136 (NKJV) “Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law.”

Does it break my heart that people don’t keep God’s Word?

The Psalmist sees God’s character in His Word as righteous and upright. And again, he expresses his love for the Word.

Psalm 119:140 (NKJV) “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it.”

Where do we go when trouble and anguish attack? We run to God through His Word!

Psalm 119:143 (NKJV) “Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights.”

I love the way the Psalmist rose before the dawn, and stayed up late at night, hoping in and meditating upon God’s Word (Psalm 119:147-148)

Proverbs 16:12-13

Human kings are given authority in order to serve the people with righteousness. It is then their throne will be secure, and it is then when leaders are loved.

If only our government officials and all leaders would rule with the fear of God and in the best interest of the people.

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 30, 2021

2 Samuel 15:23–16:23 

David could have probably stayed in Jerusalem and defeated Absalom, but it seems as if David is not so sure he doesn’t deserve all this upheaval. Some say he was trying to avoid a war in the middle of the city of Jerusalem, and the shedding of blood of innocent lives, but as we see David meekly flee the city, it’s definitely not the same David who led his men in the great military victories of the past.

That’s one thing to consider. Another is they say you find out who your true friends really are…in the tough times.

Zadok the Priest, tries to stay with David, but he returns of the Ark of God back to Jerusalem where it belongs, along with Zadok himself. We read David’s words and his mixed emotions:

2 Samuel 15:25–26 (NKJV) “Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. 26 But if He says thus: ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.’”

David departs from Jerusalem by the ascent of the Mount of Olives, he and other weeping as they leave. He sends his friend Hushai back as a “counselor” to Absalom, as well as a spy, and part of a team of informants with the sons of Zadok.

Ziba greets the king with supplies, but also brings indicting words about Mephibosheth. God only knows…if he was telling the truth.

The next scene of David being cursed by Shimei, is the most telling of all. David’s actually open to the possibility he deserves this curse, which explains his exit as king in the fashion he’s chosen. David’s men understandably want to put Shimei to death:

2 Samuel 16:9 (NKJV) “Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, ‘Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!’”

But David doesn’t allow Abishai to defend him. David wonders if these words coming from God, and he leaves everything in the hands of the LORD. David wisely considers that his passivity, will make room for God’s mercy upon Him (2 Samuel 16:11-12).

When Absalom arrives in Jerusalem, Husahi is able to convince him that he will serve him loyally, as he had his father, as he would whomever the Lord, the nation, and the men of Israel would choose to be king.

And then poetic justice is finally served. At the advice of Ahithophel, Absalom ascends to the same place his father David was when he first set his eyes on Bathsheba, on the roof of the king’s house (2 Samuel 11:3) and Absalom had sex with his father’s concubines…in the sight of all Israel. God had informed David through Nathan that this would happen (2 Samuel 12:11-12). To add one more twist to the story, Ahithophel, Absalom’s anointed advisor, was the grandfather of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:3; 23:34). He was well aware  of all the damage David had done to this family.

John 18:25–19:22 

While Jesus was standing, Peter was falling, denying he even knew the Lord. It’s heartbreaking the things we end up doing when we refuse to heed the warnings of God. Peter had become self-confident, which led to a lazy prayer life, which led to following at a distance, which led to warming himself at the enemies’ fire, which finally led to him denying the Lord. You can bet your bottom buck that Satan would meet Peter there with a world of condemnation. Thank God, that unlike Judas, Peter turned back to the Lord, and rather than perishing in condemnation, he prevailed in conviction.

As Jesus conversed with Pilate He acknowledged the fact that He was indeed a King, but His Kingdom was not of this world. Pilate thought he was among the elite, the educated, in questioning the very existence of truth – what a fool he was! Here was Truth incarnate, right in front of him (John 14:6), Love incarnate, Life incarnate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. Pilate tried to suppress it, but he knew deep down inside that Jesus was innocent, righteous, special, maybe even not of this world.

Pilate did everything he could to squirm out of this situation, but his political career was in jeopardy. The last thing he needed was more problems in Jerusalem, Rome wouldn’t tolerate it. 

In the end both Pilate and the people chose to free a robber and murderer by the name of Barabbas, instead of Jesus. Barabbas is symbolic of us, we deserved to die, but Jesus took our place. 

“Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him…” and then we’re supposed to simply keep reading? Many men died from scourging; the Roman soldiers used the cat of nine tails, leather strips with bones, sharp rocks, and glass embedded into the strands, that would tear away the flesh and expose vital organs. I can’t imagine the pain.

“The soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head…” They beat it into Him, mocked Him as the King of the Jews. They had no inkling He was the King of kings, the Lord of lords, that He was God in the flesh. Thorns came into the world as a result of our sin, its cause, the curse (Gen. 3:17-18) and here He is wearing our curse upon His sacred head. Jesus became the curse for us in crowning fashion and not only with a crown of thorns, but ultimately with a Roman cross (Genesis 3:17-18; Galatians  3:13).

Pilate presented Jesus to the people as a bloody mess. I have a hunch that he wanted to invoke some sympathy from them – hadn’t He suffered enough? Tragically this only fueled the fire of their hatred, they were thirsty for blood – and yet, ironically this blood would be shed to wash away their sins.

Pilate struggled with the decision, here he was so close to Christ, he knew He was innocent, he knew the religious leaders were envious (Mark 15:10), his wife had had dreams to warn him (Matthew 27:19). As the people inform him that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, Pilate is afraid (John 19:8). I think maybe even deep deep down inside, he was starting to believe. He straight-out asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Pilate gave in, thinking he could do so innocently, but he couldn’t. His name is forever attached to this event, going down in history as the man responsible for Jesus’ death in the Apostle’s Creed. He’s a lesson for us and all of mankind, we can’t escape the personal decision that must be made about Jesus – who is He? Do you confess or deny Him as Lord? There is no middle ground (Matthew 10:32-33).

He bore His cross, and there on Golgatha, which in Aramaic means “skull” (the Latin translation gives us our word Calvary) they crucified Him. It was the most horrible of deaths, invented by the Phoenicians for maximum pain over maximum time, and there God hung virtually naked, executed, humiliated as only the worst criminals were.

His crime was only the truth, He was Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Psalm 119:113-128 

We’re not sure who wrote this chapter, but whoever it is, they loved the Word of God, and of course its ultimate Author.

He found hope in the Word, with a heart to keep and obey it. It was though this Word he’d be upheld and protected from the wicked. The Psalmist had a healthy fear of God and His Word and (as we’ve read before) his eyes failed, from seeking the Word (Psalm 119:123). 

The Psalmist prayed for God to teach him, for God to give him understanding, to know God’s testimonies.

When I read Psalm 119:126 I think of the times we now live in!

Psalm 119:126 (NKJV) “It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void.”

I’m sure there are many out there who feel the same way, don’t you feel the same way? Things are getting so bad – unbiblical, antibiblical, even in the church! O LORD, it seems to me that it’s time for You to act.

But we trust You Lord!

Proverbs 16:10-11

V. 10 – Obviously, the king of a country has been given a great responsibility to administer justice for all – and the “divination” or divine aspect is because God put him there, or allowed him to be there (Psalm 75:6-7; Romans 13:1).

I like the way the NLT puts it: 

Proverbs 16:10 (NLT) “The king speaks with divine wisdom; he must never judge unfairly.”

After all, the authority God delegates to leaders, is for us to serve others.

V. 11 – Another warning for us to make sure we’re squeaky clean in all our business dealings.

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 29, 2021

2 Samuel 14:1–15:22 

Rather than having a straightforward conversation on the wisdom of bringing Absalom back, Joab reverts to trickery. He has an old wise woman pose with a pressing “son” situation and ebbs away at the emotions of David. Through her manipulative words and relentless flattery Joab gets his way, and Absalom is allowed to return from Geshur of Syria.

David made many grave mistakes along the way. The dominos began to fall with his fall with Bathsheba, which led to his murder of Uriah, which led to his inability to bring justice to his son Amnon, or comfort to his daughter Tamar, which led to Amnon begin murdered by Absalom, and Absalmon flees.

Was it okay for David to allow Absalmon to return? Maybe, but definitely not the way he did. When Absalmon first returned he was not allowed to see his father’s face for 2 full years (2 Samuel 14:28). Then, when Absalmon eventually was allowed to see King David, his dad forgave him and restored him, but there never seemed to be any type of communication or guidelines. Don’t you think that may have made a difference? Instead, the moment King David kissed his son, it’s as if he gave him the right to usurp the crown. David didn’t restrain him in the least and Absalom’s rebellion was too easy.

He rode a chariot with 50 men running before him. He would rise early (this man was on it) and stood at the city gates meeting and greeting the people, kissing babies, telling them the king is too busy…if he were king (Absalmon said about himself) they would receive justice. In so doing, Absalmon stole the hearts of the people (2 Samuel 15:6).

David had been the anointed king of Israel, who in one sense earned that crown, but the mantra mentality of the masses is always, “What have you done for me lately?” Here was Absalom, with this caring and charismatic combination none could deny. And then, on top of all that, we read in:

2 Samuel 14:25 (NKJV) “Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.”

If we’re smart, we know that good looks don’t (in any way) make a good leader, but crowds usually don’t see it that way. Absalom “looked” like a king, and yet the only substance to him, was his hair.

But the rebellion was in full swing, King David was on the run.

In hindsight we see the many mistakes along the way that may have averted such a tragedy – may we learn from them. You might think that David deserved, but keep in mind, many innocent people were hurt and even died along the way.

We must make sure that a person is truly repentant before they’re restored, especially to a position of leadership. There is a distinction between forgiveness and restoration. We can and should forgive those who have “trespassed against us,” but it doesn’t always mean they should be restored to any type of position automatically. I wonder what would have happened if David had taken the time to meet with his son Absalom, to teach him, train him, and restrain him? Isn’t restoration a lengthy process and and not just a whim of a decision one day? (Galatians 6:1-2)

John 18:1-24 

The Synoptic Gospels give us the other side of Jesus’ prayer, how He prayed three times for the “cup” to pass – if possible. There in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed so hard He sweat drops of blood. While Jesus was praying, His disciples were sleeping. Three times He warned them to watch and pray, for the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak, but they just couldn’t wake up.

Into that glorious garden enters His betrayer, Judas, followed by his detachment of armed troops. They thought they would come in and overpower Jesus, but all it took was his identity uttered from His lips, “I AM,” and they all fell to the ground! Jesus made it very clear, they weren’t taking His life, He was laying it down (John 10:17-18).

Warren Wiersbe said this, “Judas depended on the strength of numbers, Peter on the strength of his arm, Annas and Caiaphas on the strength of their position, but Jesus on the strength of His love and devotion to the Father. Jesus had a cup in His hand, not a sword, but that cup was His scepter. He was in complete control.”

In Jewish eyes Annas was the High Priest of Israel, but the Romans had appointed Caiphas. Jesus will bounce between the presence (and judgment) of the two. In the meantime Peter and John, after an initial running away, find themselves doing their best to be there for Jesus. John was known by the High Priest so he was able to enter the courtyard. Peter’s having a hard time determining exactly where he stands in all this – and the interrogations begin for both Peter and Jesus.

The High Priest asked Jesus about His doctrine, but everyone knew what He taught, for Jesus did so openly. He had nothing to hide so He  suggests that they ask those who’ve heard Him. And then the beatings begin. I’m sure the Devil was behind every blow – imagine the opportunity and freedom to now hurt God in every way! Jesus would be up all night walking from house to house, from court to court on His way to Calvary, where He would die for our sins.

Finally, tragically, joyfully…His hour had come.

Psalm 119:97-112 

So many beautiful verses about the Word of God!

Psalm 119:97 (NKJV) “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

Do I LOVE God’s Word? Do I meditate on it all day? I should!

We have many enemies in life – the world, the flesh, the devil and his demons. They often influence people who oppose us and oppose God’s work through us (think of giants like Goliath, or fellows like the Pharisees). The only way we can be wiser and outsmart our enemies is through the Bible, the Word of God.

As we read, study, memorize, hear it taught, and meditate on God’s word personally, the Holy Spirit can make us wiser than our human teachers. Not that it’s a competition in any way, but that’s the reality of the reward of personally studying God’s Word in sincerity.

Part of the way we don’t stray from God, is by not straying from His Word. It should be sweeter than our favorite desert and make us hate the things God hates. 

God’s Word guides us – for the days are dark:

Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” 

When I read the words “afflicted” and “revive” in Psalm 119:107 I realize that these are words are used repeatedly in this chapter – these are words that are closely connected to the Bible. And while affliction can refer to any type of difficulty or discipline, it may also refer to the conviction we experience as we truly “hear” God’s Word. It afflicts us and has the power to revive us (both are miracles). Wake up Manny. Wake up to life and that more abundantly.

We ask God to teach us His Word; that we’d never stray away – that we’d stay safe in His hands, undaunted by the wicked plans of the enemy – that we’d rejoice over God’s Word in our hearts and that we’d echo the sentiment of the Psalmist:

Psalm 119:112 (NKJV) “I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end.”

Have I?

Proverbs 16:8-9

V. 8 – The drug dealer, the pimp, the crook – they can make and take a lot of money, but in God’s eyes (and in the depths of our hearts), it’s infinitely better to simply make an honest living. 

V. 9 – This is one of my life-verses. There is that aspect of human responsibility – we make our plans, but it’s all eclipsed by God’s sovereignty. If you were to ask me before I was a Christian, or even in the early years of my Christian walk, how my life would have panned out, I would have never guessed the direction God has taken me. I remember when we were interviewed after our wedding, they asked me what I though would be ahed in life, I simply said, “Whatever and wherever the Lord wants us to be.” It’s been a Great and Gracious Adventure – we’re so grateful to God, He has directed our steps.

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 28, 2021

2 Samuel 13:1-39 

What a tragic story this is. Not only do rape and murder take place, but it all takes place within the same family.

Amnon is obsessed with his half-sister Tamar, who is the full sister of Absalom – she’s extremely beautiful. Amnon is so obsessed over Tamar that he’s losing weight over it. His “friend” Jonadab notices and asks, “What’s going on? Why are you losing weight?”

2 Samuel 13:4b (NKJV) “Amnon said to him, ‘I love my sister Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.’”

It doesn’t take long for us to clearly see that Amnon didn’t love her. This young man didn’t have a clue what true love is, to put another person BEFORE yourself, to seek their highest good. Amnon merely lusted after Tamar, but love is self-less not selfish.

Jonadab (who the Bible says was a very crafty man) had an attitude that said the king’s son had the right to get whatever he wanted. That combination of entitlement and craftiness becomes a dark and dangerous mixture. Jonadab basically gives Amnon step-by-step instructions on how to rape his sister…which he does, and then immediately afterwards, he sends her away. How could this possibly happen? It’s complicated, but one thing’s for sure, you can’t trust lust. We read those horrible words in:

2 Samuel 13:15 (NKJV) “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, ‘Arise, be gone!’”

Tamar tore her beautiful robe, put ashes on her head, and mourned the way she had been shamed and abused. Her father, King David was angry (2 Samuel 13:21), but that was about it. Like Eli, he may have yelled, ranted, and raved, but he didn’t appear to do anything about it (1 Samuel 2:22-25). His daughter had been raped by his son, and justice was not served in the least. More than likely David felt he couldn’t do anything about it due to his own moral failures (another consequence of his sins).

Two years pass, you might think that everyone has forgotten all about it by now, but all along things have been brewing in the heart of Tamar’s brother, Absalom. He has a feast invites, his brother who has now let his guard down, no doubt Abasalam has put on a good show – that he understood, that he was good with it, you know how guys can be. But Absalom then murders his brother Amnon for raping his sister (isn’t that what the Bible says was supposed to take place?). Of course we know that vengeance is God’s and we can’t justify the behavior of Absalom, but from a human perspective you almost can’t blame him. If only David would have done the right thing as king, and father…all this could very well have possibly been avoided.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

After the murder, Absalaom flees to Geshur for 3 years…but David’s problems with Absalom are not over, they’re only just beginning.

John 17:1-26 

John 17 is what I would refer to as the “Lord’s Prayer.” What traditionally has been called the “Our Father” found in Luke 11:2-4, I would describe as the “Model Prayer.” John 17 is Jesus pouring out His heart to His Father, and what a blessing it is for us to get a glimpse into this glorious and intimate prayer of Christ.

I’ve always thought it was interesting that Jesus prayed first for Himself. Now, that doesn’t mean He put Himself before others, because His whole life of love and death says otherwise, but He shows us it’s okay to pray for ourselves. Sometimes people feel guilty when they pray for themselves at all, much less first, but since we know our own struggles and turmoil, it’s good that we are to take it to our Father.

If Jesus were not God, He could never pray for the Father to glorify Him, but He does so numerous times. With this glory and fame, as the Father lifts up the Name of Jesus, many would be given eternal life, which according to John 17:3, is not about space or time, but about a personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14 mentions all three members of the Godhead).

Warren Wiersbe summarizes the prayer well, “The prayer reveals our Lord’s spiritual priorities: glorifying the Father (v. 1), the unity of the church (vv. 21–23), the sanctity of the church (v. 17), and the winning of a lost world (vv. 18–19). Are these priorities in your life?”

After praying for Himself, Jesus prays for His Disciples. They had been given to Jesus, they had kept God’s Word, they knew that Jesus was sent by the Father, so He asks His Father to “keep” them. The Greek word translated “keep” means to, “attend to carefully.” It was a prayer for protection. Jesus also prays for His disciples to be held together in unity, that they may be one, even as the Father and the Son were one. While Jesus was in the world He had kept them and the only one lost was Judas, which brings up an interesting point, that although God guides and guards us, He’s not a Father who forces. We are free, to choose whether or not we will follow Jesus, we are not robots or any form of preprogrammed people.

We learn much from the prayer of our Lord. His prayer for the disciples undoubtedly expresses His heart for all His people, for joy (John 17:13). His prayer for us to be IN the world, but not OF the world. His prayer that we’d be delivered from the devil (John 17:15). His prayer that we’d be sanctified – something that happens though the power of His Word (John 17:17). It’s fascinating to see that they had been sent, and how we have been sent, just as Jesus was sent (see also John 20:21).

The Lord went on to pray similar things for all future believers, which would include you and me (John 17:20-26). He places an emphasis on unity. When stay together and maintain that unity, when we refuse all drops of division in spite of our flaws and differences – in one sense it’s our opportunity to answer Jesus’ prayer request. 

Jesus also prayed for the day to come when we’d all be with Him…together in that everlasting land of love (John 17:26). What a beautiful prayer Jesus prayed and how privileged we are to be able to get a glimpse of it.

In his final days, the Scottish Reformer John Knox had this prayer read to him daily. We would be blessed to ponder it often. I’ve noticed over the years that usually the best way to get to know a person, is to listen to their prayers.

Psalm 119:81-96 

The Word of God is a living Word (Hebrews 4:12) and it is a working Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13). It is by God’s Word we are saved and sanctified, and hence, Psalm 119 is no exaggeration whatsoever. Notice the many blessings and benefits of the Word.

The Word brings hope, the Word brings comfort, the Word is faithful, the Word bring revival, the Word of God is forever – settled in heaven. As a matter of fact, Jesus said:

Matthew 24:35 (NKJV) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

The Word brings life, the Word is perfect, the Word is even exceedingly broad (it covers all we need to know).

The Word should therefore be searched to the point of making my eyes fail, it should be remembered, it should not be forsaken, it should be our delight, it should be sought and considered every day of our lives (Psalm 1; Matthew 6:11).

Proverbs 16:6-7

V. 6 – Mercy and truth are both beautiful words. We read in: 

Psalm 85:10 (NKJV) “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.” (crossed paths)

How can we honestly, righteously, truthfully be forgiven? Placing our faith in Christ! It is through Jesus we have atonement.

This should lead us to a healthy reverence, awe, and fear of the Lord. If we’re cleansed from evil, and able to be kept from evil, doesn’t it make sense that we should depart from evil?

V. 7 – This is a general principle – not an absolute precept.

Sometimes God will give us favor – with even our foes.

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 27, 2021

2 Samuel 12:1-31 

The last we read in 2 Samuel 11:27 was that the thing David had done, displeased the LORD (we could probably categorize that as an understatement). David committed adultery with a loyal soldier’s wife. She came back pregnant, so David tried to cover up his sin in various ways, even to the point of having Uriah killed on the battlefield. God saw everything David did and now sends Nathan the prophet to him.

David hasn’t a clue that Nathan knows. Nathan presents a scenario, wherein a rich man with multiple flocks, has a visitor swing by, and rather than taking a sheep from his own ample supply, he has the audacity (and cruelty) to take away his neighbor’s only sheep, a sheep that was more like a pet to him and his children who grew up with it. What do you think King David? What should be done? David’s words are swift and severe, just without jest:

2 Samuel 12:5–6 (NKJV) “So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.’”

Nathan’s response to David is swift as well, “YOU ARE THE MAN!”

After all that God had done for David over the past 30+ years since Goliath – protecting, providing, anointing, appointing, the shepherd, the king, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, this is how he shows his gratitude to God? I’m especially heartbroken by the way this sin forfeited David’s future for both him and his family.

Notice again, the words of Nathan:

2 Samuel 12:8 (NKJV) “I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!”

So heartbreaking, God WOULD HAVE GIVEN him so much more…but he lost it due to sin. David would be forgiven and his life would be spared, but his sons would die, his daughter would be raped, and the sword would not depart from his house. What David did was done in private, but part of the consequences of his disobedience would be his wives ravished in public.

My heart aches as I contemplate all this, and my heart aches when I think of the myriads of men and women who have fallen into sexual sin. Yes God forgives, and yes He’s merciful, but to those who know better, O the reaping results beyond my ability to articulate. If David knew in advance what the fruit of his “fling” would be, I’m willing to bet anything, he would have looked the other way.

Please friend, learn from David’s mistake, keep yourself in the battle as you serve the Lord, stay close to Him, and please, I beg you, run fast and far from sexual sin. God is indeed gracious, and willing, and able to forgive, but I’ve seen the devastation it does to so many lives!

David is fasting and praying all night for the life of his son to be spared, but God had other plans. His servants are afraid to tell him the tragic news. David discerns…his son has died and asks them point-blank, something his servants affirm. So David rises, washes, anoints himself, changes his clothing and heads to the tabernacle and worships. His servants are puzzled at David’s behavior, they were convinced that the news of the child’s death would have completely devastated him, but notice David’s response:

2 Samuel 12:22–23 (NKJV) “And he said, ‘While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.’”

Of course, everyone’s different. We fight for the lives our loved one’s, through prayer, and often through fasting, but death is not a respecter of age or person. David knew he couldn’t bring his child back, but he also knew that one day he would “go to him,” that he would see his child in heaven. This is a great comfort to us in days of death and the pain it causes. It also teaches us that babies go to heaven if they pass away. Even though we’re all born in sin, God shows grace to children until they reach the age of accountability. We don’t know the precise age, some say around 12-years old. I would say it’s when a person is clearly old enough to understand the gospel and accept or reject it. Only God knows when that age is for each child (Psalm 51:5; Jonah 4:11).

John 16:1-33 

Jesus warned His disciples about the coming persecution, how the government and religious leaders would put them to death, thinking they were doing God a service. It does help to know in advance that our lives as Christians will be vigorously opposed by the world, the flesh, the devil and his demons. Whenever I experience oppression or opposition it shouldn’t take me by surprise, our Lord warned us about this.

Jesus’ men were not just down, they were devastated that He was leaving them, but the Lord did His best to encourage the guys and us, with the Person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said it is to our advantage that He went away, because that opened the doors for the coming of the Holy Spirit to live within the hearts of every single believer all around the world! Pastor Chuck Smith put it this way, “As long as Jesus was with them, He was limited by space and time in His material body. But when the Holy Spirit came, He could be inside us (Christians) all the time.” (see also 2 Corinthians 6:16)

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, that He might convince us of our need for Salvation. The Holy Spirit is the one who imputes to us the righteousness of Christ, and then, the more we yield to Him, He imparts that same righteousness to make us more like Jesus in practical ways. The Holy Spirit speaks to the heart of mankind warning the world of the judgment to come. What an awesome work of the Holy Spirit who is gathering a bride for Christ as He reaches out and speaks to the whole wide world.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth and even tell them things to come. This is the promise of the complete cannon of Scripture, the writing and inspiration of the New Testament. Up to that point they only had the 39 books of the Old Testament, but the Holy Spirit would guide them into “all truth” and even reveal the prophetic aspects of Scripture (things to come). The church realized early on that these 27 books (letters) of the New Testament were authoritative and they just naturally rose to that place of prominence in the church. Similar to the way Peter elevated Paul’s writings to the rest of Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16).

As I was reading this chapter this time around, it hit my heart, how comforting of a passage it is to those of us whose loved ones have passed on in Christ. Jesus said you’re not going to see me for a while, I’m going to My Father, but then in a little while you will see Me again. He said, your weeping will turn to a joy that no one will ever be able to take away. It will be the fullness of joy. May all our hurting hearts be encouraged by this truth.

What a wonderful life we have as Christians, revealed to us so clearly in this chapter which is filled with the beauty and love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t mean we won’t experience those tough times of tribulation, it simply means that even in those types of trials we are triumphant – we are more than conquerors “in all these things” (Romans 8:37). Jesus never hid the hard times from us, He promised them, but also promised to be there with us through it all, and grant us victory in every valley.

It’s even more than a promise. I like the way Warren Wiersbe put it, “In the next few hours, the disciples would watch their world fall apart; and yet Jesus assured them that He was the winner. ‘I have overcome the world’ is a fact, not a promise, and it applies to us today. We are overcomers through Him (1 John 5:1–5).”

Psalm 119:65-80 

Almost every verse is a prayer to God, and includes a reference to the Word of God. I cannot overstate the importance of prayer and the Word. This communion, this heart-to-heart conversation with our Creator is the key for us as Christians, prayer and the Word.

Teach me, the Psalmists prays (Psalm 119:66, 68) for I believe Your commandments.

Three times in our section for today the Psalmist speaks of being afflicted (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75). God allows things to happen, and sometimes even brings it on us Himself, because He loves us. We must respond accordingly! The Psalmist was wise in allowing the affliction to get his attention and to bring him back when he strayed (Psalm 119:67). He knew it was good for him (Psalm 119:71). He knew that the hard times of affliction came from a faithful God who loved him (Psalm 119:75). If only we would pay attention to those times of discipline from our Father. What’s God trying to do in my life? Change my circumstances or change me? Change my spouse – or that “person?” Or change me?

We’re reminded in Psalm 119:73 that we’re “hand-made” by God – we’re all unique in order to fulfill unique purposes; may God give us understanding in His Word and His plans for our lives.

The Psalmist wisely prayed for mercy (Psalm 119:76-77). Reminds me of Jesus’ words about the man who was heard by God in:

Luke 18:13 (NKJV) “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’”

Three times in this section we’re reminded that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart (Psalm 119:69, 70, 80). We are to keep God’s Word with our whole heart. When the Psalmist describes the heart of some being as “fat as grease,” he’s not talking about cholesterol build up, he’s speaking of hearts that are insensitive, calloused, dull, and without feeling or substance…may that not describe any of our hearts. Imagine having a heart that’s “blameless?” That’s to be our goal.

Proverbs 16:4-5

V. 4 – All creation, all His kids made for Himself.

Romans 11:36 (NKJV) “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

It’s all for Him, we’re all for Him – even the wicked on that dreadful day of doom. This doesn’t mean the wicked had no choice, that before time began their fate was sealed (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). But what we discover is that when the wicked go the way they’ve chosen, eternity without God, it will glorify God – they will experience justice, and we as His children made for Him, will be eternally overwhelmed by His grace.

V. 5 – God hates pride; and He will punish pride; even if all the prideful people get together, it’ll be like a billion ants without a chance. Consider the Battle of Armageddon when King Jesus smites the world with His Word (the sword in His mouth) or at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, when the world musters up its final rebellion…Father God simply calls down fire from heaven. We read in:

Revelation 20:9 (NKJV) “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.”

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 26, 2021

2 Samuel 9:1–11:27 

In chapters 9 and 10 David aspires to show kindness; in chapter 11 he turns into a different “kind” of man.

Typically kings of new dynasties would annihilate any traces of the previous royal lineage, lest they rise up in rebellion against them. But David was definitely different, he wanted to show kindness to the house of Saul, for Jonathan’s sake (2 Samuel 9:1).

Through a servant named Ziba, they were able to trace down a son of Jonathan’s named Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was lame in his feet. We read about him back in:

2 Samuel 4:4 (NKJV) “Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.”

David called for Mephibosheth, who no doubt feared for his life. Little did he know that David wanted to bless him, to grant him the land of King Saul, and most significantly, to have him eat at the king’s table – continually! Mephibosheth beceomes a picture of us. Lame and unworthy and yet found and favored, blessed beyond measure with the privilege of eating at the King’s table, every day of our lives! This is the Kind of King Jesus is to us!

After Mephibosheth, David wants to show kindness to the country of Ammon, as their king had passed. David genuinely offered his condolences. We read in:

2 Samuel 10:2 (NKJV) “Then David said, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me.’ So David sent by the hand of his servants to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the people of Ammon.”

But the princes of the people had a twisted heart (often times we are a suspicious people and perceive others to be the way we are). The princes convinced their new king that these messengers of David were only sent to spy out the land in order to overthrow it…so they sent the men back in absolute shame.

Word is sent to David, who instructs the men to wait until their beards grow back to return home, but David wastes no time in sending Joab out to fight the Ammonites (he would later join them). I’ve always loved Joab’s philosophy for fighting in:

2 Samuel 10:11–12 (NKJV) “Then he said, ‘If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. 12 Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.’”

The Ammonites had hired the Syrians and it was looking to be a tough battle. Joab’s words are good words for us in the battle. If what I’m going through is too tough for me, would you help me? And if what you’re facing seems to be too tough for you, I want you to know that I’ll do anything I can to help you. Let’s be strong with God’s strength, let’s fight for our families, our flock, and the future of our nation. The results are ultimately in God’s hands.

Thankfully the Lord gave Israel a great victory. He will do the same for us.

I sigh as I now write. We come to 2 Samuel 11, the chapter that chronicles the fall of King David. He not only fell into adultery with another man’s wife, it was the wife of one his faithful soldiers, Uriah is described as being a part of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8, 39). 

It was the time of year that king’s went out to war, but King David stayed home at the palace. The old adage is so true, “Idleness is the Devil’s workshop.” He sees her and finds out she’s married to Uriah – that should end it, right? Not in the condition that David is in. He’s on top of the world, close to 50 years old, he has everything the world has to offer, he has indulged the appetites of the flesh and probably feels entitled. Sometimes the most dangerous place to be is that place of success, “on top of the world.”

David ploughs through all the red flags God set before him. He sees her, calls for her, lays with her, sends her home and is no doubt ready to move on. But he finds out she’s pregnant. No problem, he thinks, I’ll cover it up by calling Uriah home from the battle and he’ll think the child is his. The only problem with that is that Uriah is a much better man than David. He comes home for two nights (David even gets him drunk one night) but Uriah can’t see himself enjoying his wife while the soldiers are out there on the field fighting for the nation without such indulgences. Wow!

But David’s wheels keep turning. He thinks he can cover his sin another way, just get rid of Uriah and marry his wife. Which David does by sending Uriah with his own death letter to deliver to Joab; who abandons him to die in the heat of the battle. David calls for Bathsheba, marries this poor widow, some may have thought it was a noble thing David was doing but God knew. God knows everything, and we read in:

2 Samuel 11:27 (NKJV) “…but the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.”

The sweet Psalmist of Israel, the man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), anointed and appointed by God, preserved, protected, blessed beyond measure, how could he do such a thing? Tragically many “mighty” men have fallen, it doesn’t HAVE to happen, but it often happens, and we must guard ourselves perpetually from this sin. It is forgivable when there’s genuine repentance, but O the consequences – especially in the lives of those, like David who know better. 

John 15:1-27 

I can visualize Jesus as the Vine, the Father as the Vinedresser, and myself as a branch attached to the True Vine (Jesus). The first situation mentioned in John 15:2 speaks of a branch that doesn’t bear fruit, it is taken away. It may mean just that (see Matthew 3:10). Or, it also may speak of a branch that needs to be lifted up (the Greek word suggests that). Vinedressers would often have to do this, to lift up branches that we too low to bear fruit. Our Father often does this. When I fall to the ground, the Father lifts me up, to bear fruit. 

Warren Wiersbe comments, “A branch is good for only one thing—bearing fruit. It may be weak in itself, but it has a living relationship with the vine and can be productive.”

Bearing fruit is the root reason Jesus chose and appointed us (John 15:16).

As I begin to bear fruit, the Father prunes me so that I may bear more fruit. I would imagine those are the painful times in my life when certain things and sometimes even certain people, are stripped away. Again, Warren Wiersbe said, “We know that we are abiding when the Father prunes us, cutting away the good so that we can produce the best.”

My responsibility as a Christian is to abide in Christ, to rest and remain in Him. This word is found 7 times in 4 verses. The Greek Scholar, Kenneth Wuest helps us understand abiding, he put Jesus’ words in John 15:4 this way, “Maintain a living communion with Me, and I with you.”

Rest in Him, remain in Him, maintain a living constant communion with Christ. If we do, we will see the progression of production – fruit, more fruit, and much fruit.

Some people will read John 15:7 (Jesus’ promise in prayer) and either doubt and disregard it, or go to the other extreme of name it and claim it, but we need to maintain a Biblical balance. “Jesus never promises to gratify every chance whim believers may have. But as long as they are seeking the Lord’s will for their lives, Jesus promises to grant every request that will help accomplish this end.” – Expositor’s

So many times I’m asking, I’m praying, I’m hoping for God to be glorified, and yet it’s interesting to note the truth of John 15:8, that the Father is glorified when I bear much fruit. I believe the context speaks of ministry fruit, but I can’t exclude the “moral” fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23. Maybe I should add to my prayers, “Lord help me to bear much fruit – for I want You to be glorified.”

Love is one of the greatest fruits of all, some say it’s Fruit of fruits. As the Father has loved His Son, so the Son has loved us, and so we are to love one another (John 13:34). When I abide and draw from Christ, who is the Vine, I’m “attached” to the source of love, and this life brings joy, even when that life includes a cross – because we have the eternal perspective. The greatest love of all is when we lay down our lives for others. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will be martyred for my faith (although we’re open to that). God will show us how to lay down our lives for our friends.

It’s interesting how Jesus mentions this great love from God – side by side with this awful hatred the world will have for us because it hates Him.

It’s hard to imagine and understand, but the world hated Jesus because of who He was and what He taught. If I’m representing Him accurately the same hatred will be directed towards me, because of who I am and what I stand for. This means that there will be various forms of persecution coming my way. It’s important that I don’t back down, or water down the truth in order to avoid this type of hatred or persecution. I believe this is why Jesus is teaching on this, to prepare us – we should expect it, embrace it, see it as a good sign of doing something right, and never ever back down.

One last thing before we leave this section. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit coming and testifying of Him (John 15:26). It’s good for us to know what the Bible teaches about all 3 Persons of the Godhead – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But some churches or people OVER emphasize the Person of the Holy Spirit. Here we read that the Holy Spirit points people to Jesus (not Himself). The reason the Father and the Spirit point to Jesus is because He is the Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and He is the expression of God’s love and grace (John 1:1, 14; Titus 3:4)

Psalm 119:49-64 

When we’re going through hard times, those times of affliction, we have God’s Word to comfort us (Psalm 119:50). As a matter of fact, when we pop open our Bibles during those difficult and “dark” times (Psalm 119:55) (by faith) we comfort ourselves (Psalm 119:52). Of course we know it’s only God and His truth that bring any amount of peace, but we have a part to play in seeking Him by faith. This Bible, God’s Word is the key, let’s open it frequently.

We are to obey God’s Word (Psalm 119:57), wholeheartedly (Psalm 119:58), we are to turn away from sin (Psalm 119:59), and do it immediately (Psalm 119:60). As we battle evil spirits and their lies, we are to remember God’s Word (Psalm 119:61) and even in the middle of the night, when we can’t sleep, we will give God thanks (Psalm 119:62) all because of His Word, the Bible.

How others value the Bible is even good litmus test for the friends we choose, notice what we read in:

Psalms 119:63 (NKJV) “I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts.”

May the Lord surround you with friends, companions, and co-laborers in Christ, who fear the Lord, and obey His Word.

Proverbs 16:1-3

V. 1 – This promise is for any of us who want God to speak through us. We get our hearts right, prepare, pray, maybe even study…but let it be His words that flow from our lips.

Matthew 10:19 (NKJV) “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak.”

Not necessarily saying that we don’t study; we just don’t worry. Sometimes we say things that mights surprise us, when God speaks through us (Peter – Matthew 16:17).

Jeremiah 1:9 (NKJV) “Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.’”

V. 2 – Most of the time we show ourselves a ton of grace, we think we’re pure, we’re good, we’re A-ok; but Paul the Apostle teaches us in 1 Corinthians 4:3-4…that the final judgment is still to come.

I should get on the Spiritual scale and ask God to weigh me; what does He see?

Daniel 5:25, 27 (NKJV) “And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” “TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting;”

V. 3 – There are a couple of ways of looking at this passage:

Proverbs 16:3 (NLT) “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”

If you’re committed to work, and act for the Lord, you will be successful. (simple/powerful)

Another way, however, to see this passage – is rooted more in the original language.

The Hebrew word translated “commit” is the Hebrew word (01556 galal gaw-lal’) and it means to roll.

The Hebrew word translated thoughts is usually translated “thoughts” (not plans). So, what we find is that this passage is connected to and enlightened by:

1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV) “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

When we do that, roll (cast) our cares and concerns upon the Lord, we find peace of mind…our thoughts are solid…they settle down. Let’s give it to God. He can handle it and He loves us.

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 25, 2021

2 Samuel 7:1-8:18

David had a great idea, a noble thought, to build a Temple for the glory of God. Rather than this relatively tiny Tabernacle tent, wouldn’t it be great to construct something beautiful for the LORD? David shared his idea with Nathan who immediately gives him the thumbs up. But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and revealed that it wasn’t His will for David to build the Temple. 

Our “ideas” may seem to make sense and may even come from a heart of proper motives, but it’s important to pray about everything and check-in with the LORD. Later David would reveal the reason God didn’t allow him to build the Temple:

1 Chronicles 28:3 (NKJV) “But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.’”

Because David was a man of war, God chose to have his son, Solomon build the Temple (Solomon’s name is rooted in peace). David was allowed to gather the materials, and give the vision, but it would be Solomon who would have the privilege of building the “House of the LORD.”

God didn’t allow David to build him a house, but God promised to build David a “house.” David’s descendants would sit on the throne of the kingdom and through His lineage would come one day come the Christ who would rule forever! Wow! What a promise!

I love David’s response, he never takes a sliver of the glory for all the gracious good God had granted him.

2 Samuel 7:18 (NKJV) “Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: ‘Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?’”

Do you ever feel that way? I know I do. God has been so gracious in saving us, in blessing us, and in using our lives. Who am I? Who are we?

David goes on to share that it’s not about who we are…it’s all about who He is. Isn’t that a better “thought?”

2 Samuel 7:22 (NKJV) “Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”

And it’s for that reason we read of David’s armies leading Israel to victory over all the surrounding nations in 2 Samuel 8. David was able to accumulate the treasures that would be needed to make the Temple. I’m so blessed that David took these spoils of gold and silver and dedicated them to God (2 Samuel 7:11). He didn’t hoard it, spend it on himself.

The key to his victory is stated twice:

2 Samuel 8:6b (NKJV) “…So the LORD preserved David wherever he went.”

2 Samuel 8:14 (NKJV) “…And the LORD preserved David wherever he went.”

He will do the same for us, the LORD will preserve us as we fight the LORD’s battles (1 Samuel 25:28). Not only that, David is a picture of Christ. When we placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we were drafted into Jesus’ army. Stick with Him and you’re guaranteed to get the victory – every time!

John 14:15-31

One of the most important truths – intended to comfort the hearts of the Apostles is the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Jesus was “leaving,” but He would not leave them orphans. He would come to them. As we read this section of John, we realize that somehow in a divinely mysterious way, all three members of the Godhead would be with them, and us, as Christians…God would live in us (14:17, 23).

It’s important to notice the prepositions in John 14:17. 

John 14:17 (NKJV) “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells WITH you and will be IN you.”

Jesus told His followers that the Holy Spirit was “with” them. But the day would come when the Holy Spirit would dwell “in” them. This happens when a person is saved (born-again) our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

Jesus told His followers that this was going to happen, that the Holy Spirit would be IN them; something which took place in John 20:22, when He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

But there’s one more preposition which is critical to understand. We read it in the following passages:

Luke 24:49 (NKJV) “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father UPON you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Acts 1:8 (NKJV) “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come UPON you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Three prepositions explaining the different “positions” of the Holy Spirit

With (prior to Salvation as Christians)

In (at the moment of Salvation)

Upon (more than Salvation) when the Spirit comes upon us, baptizing us and filling us with His power over sin, and His power to serve (Matthew 3:11;  Acts 2:1-4; 4:8; Ephesians 5:18). Pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon you (Luke 11:13).

The Holy Spirit helps us, He teaches us, and He would be the One to bring to remembrance the things Jesus said, so the Apostles could write the Bible and lead them into “all” truth (John 16:13). 

As we read through this section we read repeatedly about this love relationship between us and God (ponder that for a moment). If I love Him, I’ll obey Him (John 14:15, 21) and God, in His love will reveal more and more of Himself to me. That’s what happens when we deepen our love-relationship with God.

Jesus was trying to tell His followers (including us) that He would never leave them alone (as orphans). They had the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to be with them/us, always. This truth should bring peace to our lives, a perfect peace (not just a piece of peace) that the peace that Jesus gives us.

John 14:27 (NKJV) “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Isn’t that  a beautiful passage? I pray that no matter what you’re going through, you would fix your eyes on Jesus, and sense His perpetual presence with you through the trials, the struggles, and the pain. Don’t be afraid my friend, He’s working out a good, good plan.

Psalm 119:33-48

I’m a firm believer in the power of God through His Word (the Bible). I’ve heard stories, and have actually met people who were healed of mental illness, by simply saturating themselves in the Scriptures. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, and isn’t it interesting that it’s ALL about the Bible? All but 5 of the 176 verses mention the Scriptures in one way or another.

The Psalmist asks God to teach Him the word, and he would keep it “to the end.” (Psalm 119:13). He asked for understanding to observe it with His “whole heart” (Psalm 119:14).

Other verses that stood out to me in this section:

Psalm 119:36 (NKJV) ”Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness.”

This is a great prayer to pray! That God would “incline” our hearts towards His Word. There are many who don’t have a hunger for the Bible, we can pray this passage for them and we can also pray this for ourselves, that God would give us even MORE of a hunger for His Word!

The second part of the prayer is that God would turn our hearts away from covetousness. Covetousness has a way of occupying our minds, our hearts, and our lives, distracting us and filling us with the junk food of the world, usually, to the point that we’re not hungry for God’s soul food (the Bible).

Psalm 119:37 (NKJV) ”Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.”

The above passage should be near every television, every mobile phone, every iPad and computer, it should be stamped on every heart. Be careful little eyes, what you see, what you behold. The enemy can ruin us with lies to our eyes, while God will use His Word to revive our lives.

Psalm 119:45 (NKJV) “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.”

When a person stands on and understands the Scriptures, they will be free. Free from the power and penalty of sin, free from religion, free to obey, free from any man-made mandates that can potentially weigh us down or even bring us into bondage. Jesus said:

John 8:32 (NKJV) “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Proverbs 15:33

The NIV translates it this way, “Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.”

In this translation we hear a wise word from wise people, it’s fairly simple – fear the Lord and stay humble.

The phrase, the “Fear of the Lord” is found 14 times in the Proverbs; it’s critical for wisdom! For those of us who have read the Bible over the years, who have been walking with Christ as Christians for an extended period of time, we can attest to the power of this combination, can’t we? To fear God…and to stay humble. Amen!

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 24, 2021

2 Samuel 4:1-6:23

Ishbosheth the son of Saul, was not a king at all. He had been given the position by man (Abner) but not by God. Ishbosheth, lost heart and was struck with fear when his general died, but he did nothing about it. He doesn’t seek the LORD, or rally his troops, we only find him taking a nap in the middle of the day. It’s no wonder two wicked men were able to enter his quarters and decapitate him, bringing his head to David.

These men thought they’d score some big time points with David for what they’ve done, but David’s not that kind of man; he immediately has them executed for shedding innocent blood. 

David was a king to the core. He wasn’t a perfect man by any means, but he had been prepared – his entire life, for this calling – it was all moving towards this moment. All the elders of Israel finally recognized what God was doing and came to Hebron to crown David king. Our job and responsibility in life (especially in the ministry) is not to choose or appoint to positions of leadership those whom we want to be there, but those whom God wants there. God shows us in time, through prayer, circumstances lining up, and His hand upon their lives.

God begins to establish David as king and put things in place. Israel is finally able to conquer Jerusalem. Joab earns and reaffirms his position as general. They begin to build up the city and even the king of Tyre sends resources to encourage and assist David in this. We read two important passages:

2 Samuel 5:10 (NKJV) “So David went on and became great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.”

That’s the key isn’t it? And the LORD God of hosts was with him. (Matthew 28:20; Acts 18:10;  Hebrews 13:5)

2 Samuel 5:12 (NKJV) “So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.”

God does such a good work, not for David, but for the sake of His people.

God goes on to give David victory over Israel’s archenemy, the Philistines. God will do the same for us if we inquire of Him as David did, and seek Him earnestly.

David has it in his heart to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, which is a great desire, but unfortunately he does it the wrong way. The Law of the LORD clearly communicated how the Ark was to be transported but David didn’t do it Scripturally and paid the price. When the oxen stumbled, Uzzah thought he was doing right by keeping the Ark from falling, but God struck him for that. He was not to touch the Ark. It was only to be carried by the priests through the designated rings with the designated poles; it was only to be handled by those whom God appointed. How important it is that we do things Biblically!

By God’s grace David is eventually able to bring the Ark to Jerusalem – when he does it God’s way and David dances in worship with all his might. His wife Michal saw the dance and despised her husband, most likely influenced by the enemy who hates it when we worship wholeheartedly. This bitter woman who could not see God’s hand in all that had taken place, then lost the many blessings in life of bearing children.

John 13:31-14:14

Since Jesus was leaving physically, His final words would be critical. Here He issues a new commandment, not just that they love one another, but that they love one another AS HE HAS LOVED THEM. By this all we will know that we’re Christians, not merely by our church attendance, bumper stickers, t-shirts, Bibles, morals…no – by our love.

Do I truly love others the way Jesus has loved me? Sandy Adams said, “Sometimes it is easier to love a sinner than it is a saint. We expect more from those within the family…the world will know who my Father is, by the way I treat my brother.” (or sister) The bottom line is if we don’t love (agape style), we’re not saved…it really makes me check my heart (1 John 4:7-8).

Jesus had taken care of these guys for the last 3 ½ years; He was everything to them, they had come to believe that He was the Messiah, the Prophet, the One – and now He’s telling them that it’s time for Him to leave?

This would be very, very tough and trying time for them – but the truth would bring them comfort (it always does – we just need to listen and look for it). Jesus was indeed going away, but one of the things He would be doing up yonder is “preparing” a place for them. Some believe it’s in reference to our new bodies, others see it as our custom-built home in heaven, the main thing is, that where He is, there we will be.

They should have known about this place called heaven and the Person who would take them there, but they (like us) were a little dense, so Thomas speaks up, with the question of the ages, “Lord, we don’t know where You’re going so how can we possibly know the way?” Jesus, responds with some of the most important words we’ll ever hear:

John 14:6(NKJV), “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Some people despise the fact that Christian’s say the way to heaven is narrow; they’re offended because they believe that there are many roads to heaven’s entrance. But I’m just glad that God made a way, and that one way is so simple and beautiful, all I need to do is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And by the way, these aren’t the words of Christians, these are the words of Christ.

Jesus answers another question, this time from Philip, who wanted Him to show them the Father – this would be all they needed to see. But Jesus reveals the fact that if they’ve seen Him, they’d seen the Father. Not that Jesus is the Father, but their nature and nurture, their love, their lives, were the same – like Father, like Son.

Jesus goes on to teach them, and us, more of the most important things we need to know, since He was leaving them physically – next in the realm of prayer. This would be new for them, that when they prayed, they were to ask in His name. A powerful prayer life is essential in order to see God truly move mightily. When we ask in Jesus’ name it has to do with His heart, would it be something He would approve and is it for His glory? I like to use the words, “In Jesus’ name,” as a reminder to myself and others of this wonderful promise – “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” But it’s not a mantra, a tag, or a verbal formula to get my way, it’s a Person we consider when we pray, that He may have His way.

Psalm 119:17-32

As we cover the 3rd and 4th letters of the Hebrew Alphabet (each stanza started with that letter respectively) it’s all about the Word of God.

I’ve always loved the prayer of:

Psalm 119:18 (NKJV) “Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.”

This is a perfect prayer to pray as we’re about to read, study, or hear God’s word, that the Lord would open our eyes – to see wondrous things from His law. I found it fascinating that the same root word in the Hebrew – translated “wondrous” here, is translated wonderful in Isaiah 9:6 in reference to Jesus. Another good prayer to pray is, “Lord open my eyes that I may see Jesus in Your Word.” (He’s everywhere – Hebrews 10:7)

Other verses that stood out to me in this section are:

Psalm 119:24 (NKJV) “Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.”

Many times we look to men for counsel (and that has its place), but the best counselor is the God as He speaks to us through His Word.

Psalm 119:28 (NKJV) “My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word.”

When I read the above passage I think of the many, many people how are hurting, depressed, distressed, and struggling with anxiety. Their hearts are heavy, they’re melting. Some don’t even want to live any longer. May they pray this prayer – may God strengthen them with His word.

Psalm 119:32 (NKJV) “I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.”

I like this verse because it speaks of God working on my heart, making it larger, stronger. This is the only way we can run the race, finish, and win. O Lord, make our hearts strong.

Which verse stood out to you? Why?

Proverbs 15:31-32

V. 31 – This precept is everywhere in the Proverbs isn’t it?

Who wants to be rebuked? We all should welcome it when necessary.

Imagine if you’re only surrounded by people who are afraid to tell you the truth and you never get any constructive criticism – no correction whatsoever, even though you need it desperately because you’re living dangerously. To some it may sound appealing, to never ever be rebuked, but it’s not a good atmosphere any for us.

We should want to hear the truth, even if it hurts, even if it cuts.

C. H. Spurgeon said, “Get a friend to tell you your faults, or better still, welcome an enemy who will watch you keenly and sting you savagely. What a blessing such an irritating critic will be to a wise man, what an intolerable nuisance to a fool.”

V. 32 – Similar to v. 31, the primary distinction is instruction as opposed to correction.

In one sense, rebuke is telling me what’s wrong; instruction is teaching me what’s right.

He who disdains instruction despises his own soul; the word disdains refers to the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect. “Ah, I don’t need to listen to any of those lessons.”

But we do:

2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV) “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”

Doctrine tells us what is right, reproof tells us what is not right, correction tells us how to get right, and instruction tells us how to stay right.

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 23, 2021

2 Samuel 2:12-3:39

It seems like games in the beginning, but scuffles between Israel and Judah escalate into a battle between them, led by the respective generals, Abner and Joab.

I believe it was due to the anointing on David, that Judah defeats Israel; after it was all said and done we read in:

2 Samuel 2:30–31 (NKJV) “So Joab returned from pursuing Abner. And when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel. 31 But the servants of David had struck down, of Benjamin and Abner’s men, three hundred and sixty men who died.”

Judah won the battle, but lost a dear brother in Asahel (Joab and Abishai’s brother, sons of Zeruiah).

In Israel, General Abner who controlled the army, essentially had control of the country, and when he and King Ishbosheth had a falling out due to a concubine chaos, that was all Abner need to tip the scale in David’s favor. Everyone knew the prophecy of David eventually being king. Abner’s defeat at the hands of Joab no doubt, played a part in his decision as well…he saw God’s anointing.

After Abner meets with David and sets everything up for the transition of power, Joab shows up, chases Abner down, and rather than facing him like a man, in a fair fight, he tricks him, and Joab calls him aside, only to kill him. 

David doesn’t approve of Joab’s bloody behavior, and makes it widely known. When the nation sees it wasn’t David’s intention for Abner to be murdered. We read in:

2 Samuel 3:36–37 (NKJV) “Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, since whatever the king did pleased all the people. 37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king’s intent to kill Abner the son of Ner.”

David is on his way, to becoming the King of all Israel.

John 13:1-30

What a perfect picture of love! For Jesus it wasn’t just a job to do (it could have been) no, it was infinitely more, it was a life of love. How would He finish His mission on earth? He was about to die a horrible and humiliating death, the death of the cross, but before that, He stops and drops low to wash the disciple’s feet, even of Judas, the one who He knew would betray Him.

He loved them to the end.

In those days the people wore sandals and the streets were extremely unsanitary – there would be dust, dirt, maybe even dung, toe jam, you name it. It was the job of the lowest slave in the house to wash a person’s feet upon entrance, but at this dinner…no one offered to do the job, so Jesus did. In the process, Jesus teaches all of us, especially “leaders” that godly leaders are to be servant-leaders; not shoving leaders, but loving leaders. We’re not raised up to BE served, we are bought low TO serve. Sandy Adams said, “If washing feet is not our primary business, we are not following in His footsteps.”

It’s not enough to know these things, Jesus said the blessing comes IF I do these things (John 13:17).

In washing feet, Jesus was also communicating a message of practical forgiveness. When Jesus came to Peter he told the Lord “No, You will never wash my feet!” Jesus informed Peter that He needed to do this, for there was a valuable visual also taking place. When we become Christians, we are clean positionally (Jesus told the guys that they were all clean with the exception of Judas). But as we walk through this world our feet get dirty (so to speak), so we need Jesus to cleanse us in a practical sense. As we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:9). What a wonderful Servant-Savior!

During this dinner I see Jesus reaching out to Judas, but Judas won’t budge. Jesus lets the disciples know that one of them will betray Him – this should have triggered a certain fear of God in the heart of Judas – He knows my sin. Have you ever sat in a study and it seems like the teacher is speaking directly to you, he knows your secrets? I have. That’s God talking to us and it’s up to us to listen, and change course. What a tragedy, what hypocrisy to see Judas just eat the bread that Jesus gave him. Judas said no to Jesus’ love, and it was at that point that Satan entered him – Judas went out – and it was night.

Jesus wanted His disciples to know that He was fully aware that all this was going to happen, that it was all within His plan, so that when it happened, eventually (and it would take time) it would strengthen their faith (Isaiah 46:10).

Psalm 119:1-16

The focus of Psalm 119 (the longest chapter in the Bible) is the Word of God.

“Every verse except 5 (84, 90, 121, 122, 132) refer to the Word, what it is and what it can do in your life if you let it.” – Warren Wiersbe

(It’s an Acrostic of sorts) “The arrangement is also unique. There are 22 sections of 8 lines each, and the lines in each individual section begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The first 8 lines begin with Aleph, the next 8 with Beth, and so on through all 22 letters. This may have been a device to help people memorize the Psalm. The writer had a great love for the Word of God and was persecuted because he obeyed God and opposed sin. Most of the verses are either prayers for God’s help or affirmation of the writer’s faith in God’s truth despite his difficulties. Meditating on this Psalm ought to make you love and treasure the Word of God more and obey it more willingly.” – Warren Wiersbe

In Psalm 119 the Bible is called:

1. Word (s) (43 times) (communication from our Creator)

2. Law (25 times) (legal)

3. Statutes (22 times) (solid truth)

4. Way (s) (17 times) (when I’m lost or preventative paths)

5. Commandment (s) (22 times) (to do and not to do)

6. Testimonies (y) (23 times) (done; what God has done)

7. Precepts (21 times) (detailed; beyond principles)

8. Judgment(s) (19 times) (condemnation; commendation)

As we go through the Psalm you’ll notice with the exception of the first three verses – it’s all primarily a prayer. May God use His Word in our lives.

A few verses that stood out to me in this section:

Psalm 119:9 (NKJV) “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.”

Notice the capacity of the word to tame even the toughest of people, young men who are usually rambunctious.

Psalm 119:10 (NKJV) “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!”

May we seek God wholeheartedly and never stop reading and heeding HIs Word! It breaks my heart as a pastor, to see so many wander from God’s Word (Proverbs 21:16; Proverbs 27:8; James 5:19).

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

This is a passage encouraging us to memorize the word of God, not just that we’d have something to boast about, but something to be about – that I would not sin. Jesus memorized and quoted Scriptures when He was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11).

Proverbs 15:29-30

V. 29 – We are righteous as we place our faith in Jesus Christ. He therefore “hears” our prayers (what an awesome thought!)

We read something similar in:

Psalm 145:18 (NKJV) “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

James 5:16b (NKJV) “..the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

It’s critical to know that it’s by the grace of God that He hears our prayers; but I would also warn you (and myself) not to abuse that grace. If we walk in wickedness, if hold on to sin, it will greatly hinder our fellowship with God and even our prayer life (Psalm 66:18; 1 Peter 3:7).

V. 30 – Sometimes you can see the love in their eyes and it just blesses your heart.

When the words follow (the good report) it encourages us to the core. I think of Pastor Chuck Smith – his look, his smile, his word – what a vessel of God’s blessing he was.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “A positive person’s encouragement, whether nonverbal (by a cheerful look, lit., “bright eyes”) or verbal (good news; cf. 25:25), is helpful and uplifting. Brings joy translates śāmaḥ, also in Proverbs 15:20–21, 23, 31. As in Proverbs 15:13, emotional health contributes to physical well-being (health to the bones; see Proverbs 3:8).”

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…