Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 17:25-31

Today's reading tells the legendary story of David and Goliath. David, the small shepherd boy, and Goliath, the nine-foot-tall giant, meet on the field of battle. They were not well matched. David had his sling and five smooth stones. Goliath wore heavy armor, had a shield bearer going before him and wielded a bronze javelin.

David's stone, however, killed the giant before he could hurl the javelin. He died. David slew Goliath with five smooth stones.

There is more here than meets the eye. There was no magic in David's smooth stones. David's motives and attitude made the difference. He is incensed that this Philistine should defy the army of the Living God.

He speaks forth boldly that the battle is the Lord's. He gives the Lord credit for the victory before the battle begins. And the Lord gives him the victory.

When we come up against our own giants, we need to remember just who is really in charge. Nothing happens without God's permission. That's not to say that every thing man does is God's will, but God allows man free choice. And God has made provision for the consequences of those choices.

There is no action so vile, so heinous, that God cannot redeem the circumstance to the benefit of the body of Christ. We need to remember God is the victor in all our battles, especially if we do His will, not ours.

Father, God,

Help us to face the battles of this life with a strength of purpose that shows our confidence in You. Keep us from presumption upon your blessings and favor. Give us the grace to recognize the battle in terms of eternity. Grant us the power to follow through with Your plans.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Sacrifice of Obedience

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 15:10-23

We get a fearful lesson in today's reading. Saul was chosen by the Lord to be king of Israel. But Saul got carried away by his successes and decided that he knew better than God what he should do.

Saul's disobedience grieved the Lord, and the consequence for that disobedience was the Lord's rejection of Saul as king. When we reject the Lord, He withdraws His favor and leaves us to our own devices.

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. No good parent stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions. Our God is a good and loving Father. He allows us to learn from our mistakes. But experience is an expensive teacher.

Saul could have avoided the negative consequences had he simply been obedient to the Lord.

"To obey is better than sacrifice." Mark it well in 1 Samuel 15:22.

When we know what to do and refuse to do it, we sin. Sin separates us from God. Not a good place to be.

Father, God,

Give us ears tuned to hear You. Make our hearts ready to obey. Keep us from the sins of arrogance and disobedience.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wait Upon The Lord

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 13:2-15

God's timing is perfect. Our is flawed. Saul was preparing to fight the Philistines, but before he did, there was to be an offering. He waited for seven days, expecting Samuel to arrive to offer the burnt offering to the Lord. But the men were excitable and tremulous, so Saul took matters into his own hands and made the offering himself.

However, this was a huge mistake. He was not a priest. Samuel was appalled by this arrogance of Saul. With this arrogance, Saul forfeited his family's claim to an everlasting throne in Israel. God was seeking a man after His own heart.

We often find ourselves running ahead of God. We get impatient and do not trust Him to know what and when is best.

This impatience has consequences. For Saul, his family was cut off from the throne of Israel. For us, the consequence is that we miss God's best for us in favor of immediate gratification. How foolish!

Father, God,

Help us to wait upon You. Give us the grace to wait patiently as we seek Your face. Grant us the wisdom to be still until we have heard Your voice and the strength to do Your will when we have heard.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kingdom Come

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 9:15-17

The age of the judges was a mixed bag. There were good judges and there were those who were not so good. The people of Israel wanted a king. All the other nations around them had a king.

So God gave them Saul. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. Remember, those were the people who had been nearly annihilated some years earlier because of their infidelity to God.

Saul looked the part, handsome and a head taller than the rest. Boy, this is going to be good. Or is it?

As grandmother used to say, when God wants to let you know how small you are, He gives you your own way.

Now, instead of following an infallible God, the people are following a fallible man. In the future, they will have occasion to rue the day God set a king over them. But for now, they are pleased. With themselves, with Saul, with the kinddom.

Father, God,
Help us to understand that Your plans for our lives are infallible, just like You. Teach us to wait upon Your timing, to follow you whole-heartedley. And grant us faithful hearts to remain faithful to you.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Passion and Apathy

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 3:1-18

Samuel had been serving the Lord under Eli's tutelage for some time. But the Lord called Samuel and told him what was in store for Eli and his family. And Eli's response is "okay, whatever."

Had I received the news that my family would be cut down young, I would have moved heaven and earth to see if we couldn't change this edict. But Eli just says, Okay.

The Lord does not honor apathy. In fact, later in the book, He says he will spew you out of His mouth because of lukewarm attitude.

How often are we guilty of this ho-hum mentality? We get stuck in our little patterns. We do all the right things, but we're just going through the motions.

God wants us to be passionate about Him, about our lives and livelihoods. He wants us to exhibit His Holy Fire.

Only with passion and dedication can we fulfill His great commission to us. Remember, the one where He says to go into all the world and make disciples of all.

Father, God,

Stoke the fires of passion within us. Stir up the embers of our love for You and light the flame of concern for all Your world. Grant that we may never become lukewarm or apathetic.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Desires of Your Heart

Focus verses: 1 Samuel:6-18

Hannah was a woman who wanted to be a mother. So she took her desires to the Lord. She recognized that he was the one in charge of lives. But she was so fervent in her silent prayers that she was accused of being drunk.

When she explained her desires to Eli, the priest, he verified her request saying "may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked Him for." (Where ever two or three are gathered, there He is in the midst of them.)

Now Hannah had made a deal with the Lord, that if He would give her a son, she would give that son back to God. So when Samuel was weaned she took him back to Eli.

The Lord did as Hannah asked. Hannah did as she had promised. And the Lord rewarded her with five more children.

It doesn't always work that same straight forward fashion, but God rewards the faithful.

Psalm:37:4: Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (KJV)

Father, God,

Help us to realize that You should be the desires of our hearts. Teach us that Your plan for our lives is better even than we could know to ask for. Give us the grace to live within the parameters of the life You have planned for us. And grant us the ability to live it to the fullest.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Focus verses: Judges 21:25

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

We have just read about the civil war in which the tribe of Benjamin was nearly wiped out due to moral depravity. Depravity happens when people do what they please rather than what it right.

Our society today is full of people who do what is right in their own eyes. But it isn't right in God's sight. We have failed to educate our children; and we have failed to keep the faith ourselves.

We allow all of the vices of this world to usurp the place God should have in our lives. And we wonder why things seem to be going so wrong.

Greed and avarice run rampant. Self-esteem building and instant gratification have become our watchwords. Immoral behavior is condoned as alternate lifestyle. We murder in the name of expediency. But everyone is doing what is right in their own sight.

There is a better way. Seek first the kingdom of God.

Father, God,

In this age of unbelief and infidelity, turn our hearts back towards You. Keep us from losing focus on what is right in Your eyes. Teach us the absolutes of right and wrong.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Micah's Mother

Focus verses: Judges 17:1-6

We don't know her name, but this lady causes a lot of trouble. She had lost some money, which her son, Micah, retrieved for her. She invokes the blessing of the Lord upon Micah, and she give him the silver to make a carved image and a cast idol. All in the name of the Lord.

Whoa, here! A carved image and a cast idol. Doesn't she remember the laws that Moses brought down from the mountain? In Deuteronomy chapter 4 idolatry is called the greatest evil. "Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves and idol, an image of any shape..."

So often, we invoke the name of the Lord and then do as we please, not as He has said we ought. We get off course, and we lead our children off course as well. When Micah hires the Levite,he does so in the name of the Lord. But this not the Lord's doing.

We must be very careful to keep to the straight and narrow track when following the Lord. A tiny deviation doesn't look bad the first step or two, but carried far enough it will get you far off the path of the Lord.

Father, God,

Help us to keep to Your straight and narrow path. Let us not be lured into calling things by other than the name You gave them. Keep us from deviating from Your path in the slightest area.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Called Forth

Focus verses: Judges 13:2-5

The story of Samson is another familiar tale. Here we are told of God's plan for this child before his birth. He will begin the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines.

But Samson was not the ideal man of God. He did not hold fast to the Lord's commands. He womanized among the Philistines. He seems to have had a volatile temper. A woman's soft voiced pleading led to his downfall.

All of this, however, is beside the point.

God announced, before Samson was conceived, that this child would be born and what his role in Israel was to be. This is not an isolated incident. God announced that Abraham and Sarah would have a son who would people the nation of Israel. The angel of the Lord announced to Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah.

These are not the only examples, but they are enough to establish that God has a plan for the infant before he is conceived.

We, however, live in a society that doesn't value the life that God gives. We decide to choose whether to let the infant live or die according to what is expedient or convenient for us. How long will God withhold His righteous anger before allowing us to reap the consequences of usurping His authority?

Father, God,

Forgive us our hardened hearts. Soften us and make us receptive to Your plans. Convict us of our indifference, and lead us to remedy the situation that devalues human life.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Focus verses: Ruth 3:6-13

The story of Ruth and Naomi is well known.

Coming back from Moab, Naomi asked the people to call her Mara, bitter, because all hope seemed to be gone. She had lost her husband and both sons. All she had was her widowed daughter-in-law. Two women alone in a society which didn't really value lone women very highly.

But Boaz is a kinsman who can "redeem" their situation. If he marries Ruth and they have children, the line is preserved because the kinsman and the first husband came from the same clan. This was the law in Israel at that time.

The genealogy at the end of chapter four leads us from Perez to David. Another genealogy will lead us from David to Jesus Christ. Boaz didn't just redeem Ruth, he is in the lineage that redeemed us all.

Without that redemption, we have nothing. With that redemption, we have everything.

Father, God,

Words fail us in our gratitude for Your provision for our redemption. Our grateful hearts seek after you, only. To be close, to be channels of Your love to this world. Keep us faithful to that purpose.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Other Gods

Focus verses: Judges 10:6-16

Again, Israel turned aside and served other gods. Where have we heard this before?

They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths and the gods of Aram and Sidon and Moab and the gods of the Ammonites and Philistines. What an array of gods to pick from. We don't have those kinds of gods now.

Or do we? We have aspirations and ambitions. We have wants and desires. We have greed and envy. We have jobs and hobbies. We have friends and family. Every time we put these interests ahead of God, we have served a Baal or an Ashtoreth.

Family and friends are good, but they cannot come before God. Aspirations and ambitions are not bad in themselves, but when we let them take over our lives they become idols. We get caught up in the busy-ness of the mundane everyday and forget to put God first. That's when our lives get all out of kilter.

Father, God,

Help us to know that our lives depend on You alone. Give us the wisdom to seek You first and let all these other things fall into place in Your good time.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Creating Snares

Focus verses: Judges 8:24-27

Gideon has lived up to the "mighty man of valor" name ascribed to him in our last reading. Today's reading chronicles his victories, and says Israel lived in peace for thirty years.

At the end of his conquest, Gideon asked the Israelites each to give him one earring from their plunder. With this, he made a golden ephod. The word "ephod" generally refers the to the vestment worn by the priest, but the word can also mean "image."

Whether Gideon created the vestment or another image, the golden object became the focus of worship, not the God who had delivered their enemies into the Israelites' hands.

Perhaps Gideon meant the golden object to be a memorial, a remembrance of God's deliverance. But the people began worshiping the thing, not the God it was to represent.

We do this. We have wonderful, charismatic preachers who teach us about the Lord. But somehow the focus begins to shift, and we start following the preacher, not the Lord.

Then the preacher begins believing his own press and sets himself above God. The first thing you know, there's a scandal, and the name of the Lord is disgraced again. The church (the body of Christ - not the denomination) is divided between judgment and leniency. The argument escalates, and there's another church schism.

And it all started with something, originally intended for good, that got just a little off track.

Father, God,

Keep our eyes and hearts riveted on You. Help us not to be distracted by circumstances, and deliver us from getting puffed up and believing our own press.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Focus verses: Judges 6:11-18

The Israelites were being oppressed again due to their recurring infidelity to the Lord. The Midianites had driven them off the land and into caves. When they again returned to the Lord with their cries for deliverance, God chose the weakest clan of Manasseh and the least those brothers, Gideon.

Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress to keep the Midianites from knowing about the harvest when the angel of the Lord greeted him as a "mighty man of valor." Gideon didn't think of himself as courageous. He was threshing in secret.

But the Lord had decided to deliver Israel in a manner that could not be mistaken for anything but a miracle from the Lord. So when Gideon gathered his army, the Lord thinned it's ranks, not once, but twice. Gideon's final army consisted of only three hundred men.

The Lord routed the Midianites through Gideon and his men, not by their numbers and strength, but by their obedience to His commands. They went into battle in the middle of the night with trumpet in one hand and lamp in the other. They didn't have a third hand with which to draw swords.

We should always be aware that the Lord is the victor in any of our battles. If we try to do things in our own strength, we can be defeated. It's only the Lord who is never bested on the field of battle. Our courage comes from His strength when we obey Him. It is the only sure source of victory.

Father, God,

Keep us from the sin of arrogance in our own strength. Remind us of our dependence upon You and Your plans for our lives. Shine the light of Your truth in all our circumstances, so that we may see them from Your perspective.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women Of The Lord

Focus verses: Judges 4:4-10

We are introduced here to the judge of Israel, Deborah. She heard from the Lord and spoke to Barak, telling him of God's plans to deliver Sisera and Jabin's army into their hands.

But Barak was reluctant. He insisted that Deborah go with him, or he would not go. That wasn't what God had in mind at all. So Deborah told him that another woman would steal his thunder because God would deliver Sisera into this other woman's hands. And she, not Barak, would get the glory for destroying Sisera.

And that's exactly what happened. Sisera sought refuge in the tent of Jael, and when she had encouraged him to rest, she killed him. So Jael is credited with destroying Sisera. And Barak lost out.

When God gives instructions, He intends that they should be carried out to the letter. That's not to say that He will not let us put conditions upon His instructions, but there is a consequence for not believing God. In this case, Jael, not Barak, gets the glory of the victory.

We need to be aware that when we do things our own way, not God's way, that the outcome will not be what God originally purposed for us. God wants us to succeed in the things He would have us do. But we must learn to do things His way and in His time.

That is the only way we can achieve victory.

Father, God,

Keep us true to Your instructions. Help us to believe all You tell us and to act upon it exactly as You would have us do. Deliver us from doubt, fear, and the arrogance that things we know better than You how to accomplish Your will in our world.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Checkered Relationship

Focus verses: Judges 3:5-11

Today's reading is an abysmal picture of the faithlessness of the nation of Israel. It seems that they cannot be faithful to God at all. And the don't seek Him, just His redeeming hand.

Time and again we read that they are turned aside to the worship of other gods, and they don't turn back to the Lord until they have been oppressed to desperation. Then they seek Him for deliverance. But they go right back to their faithless ways. Somehow the older generation seems unable to impress upon the younger generation the importance of seeking the Lord at all times and in all circumstances. Shame on them!

Shame on us! We have failed to teach our younger generations what they need to know of the Lord. We have watered down the word of God til it's just a "feel good" religion. We haven't taught them about the majesty, might and righteousness of God. We seem to have forgotten that He requires being first in our hearts at all times.

So we see generations that have no grounding in the absolutes of God. We hear the cop-out, "well, it might be right for you, but it's not right for me." Balderdash!!

Right is right and wrong is wrong. There can no more be two different kinds of right action in a given circumstance than there are two kinds of straight line. Either a line is straight or it isn't. Either an action is right or it isn't. Circumstances make no difference.

But the only way we know this is to seek God's face and heart, not His mighty hand for when we have an emergency.

Father, God,

Keep us on track to seek Your face and Your will in all things. Help us not to be distracted by the cacophony of voices around us crying for tolerance or understanding or leniency. Create in us a hunger for You and You alone.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finish The Job

Focus verses: Judges 2:1-5

Even though the land was given to the Israelites, they failed to fulfill their part of the bargain. The Lord promised that He would go before them and drive the inhabitants out of the land, but the various Israelite clans failed to dislodge all the people living in the land they were to occupy.

Reading between the lines, it looks to me like they tried to do God's will in their own strength, without invoking the presence and power of the Lord. There is no mention that they asked the Lord to go before them in their campaigns.

When God gives us a job, we need to complete it. But we need to do it exactly as He said to do it. When we try to do God's will in our own strength, we always fail.

God told the Israelites that because they failed to complete their mission, the inhabitants of the land would be a thorn in their sides and their gods would be a snare to them.

We need to be careful to rid ourselves of those things that can be a stumbling block for us. God has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. But we need to do our part in driving out those things which distract us from Him and His will for our lives. Otherwise we, too, will have thorns in our side and snares waiting to trap us.

Father, God,

Help us to clean house in our lives. Shine the light of Your Holy Spirit on those things which would distract us from Your will, and go before us as we drive out everything but You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

As For Me And My House

Joshua 24:14-18

God is gracious. He gives us multiple opportunities to be faithful to Him.

Joshua speaks to the people to remind them of all the Lord has done for them. Then he challenges them. Choose you this day whom you will serve. But for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Choose! Daily we make choices. They bring us closer to God, or they take us further from God. But we make these choices with the free will God has given us.

God has not created us as automatons or robots. He gave us the ability to make choices. It is up to us to see that those choices take us closer to Him.

In his notes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, wrote "every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment." And that is true. In scripture it says if you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. That's just a way of saying you reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow.

If you sow obedience to God, you reap the rewards of your fidelity to Him. If you are disobedient, you reap the rewards of rebellion.

In my estimation, fidelity is better, serving the Lord is better.

Father, God,

Help us to be faithful to You, to Your commandments, to Your will. Keep our hearts steadfast with on You and obedience to your decrees.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Keeping The Kept Promises

Focus verses: Joshua 21:43-45

Today's verses chronicle the mapping of the new territory of the Israelite clans and the division of that territory to the individual families. The meets and bounds descriptions of each parcel delineate each family's land specifically. Cities within those territories are enumerated.

And the ownership of those territories was decided by casting lots in the presence of the Lord.

Even after God gave them the territory, there was much to do. The land had to be tended by the new owners.

Do we forget that even though God provides something for us, the upkeep is left to us? God has given us salvation, but we are to work it out in fear and trembling. God has given us His son as our redeemer, but we must come to Him. He will not invade us.

God has given us a vision for our lives, but we don't get it on a silver platter. We must roll up our sleeves and do the next thing. Most of all, we need to spend a portion of each day with the Lord.

Our faith is unable to support us if we fail to feed it regularly with substantive portions of the word. We need to map our territory, and then we need to hold it.

Father, God,

Help us to be faithful stewards of the faith You have given us. Teach us to set our boundaries and defend our territory. And give us the wisdom to do all that You would have us do.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Promises Kept

Focus verses: Joshua 14: 6-15

Back in the days when Israel was wondering in the desert, Moses sent spies to look at the land that God was giving the Israelites. They all came back trembling in their boots. All, that is, except for Joshua and Caleb. And Caleb was promised the land where his feet had trod to spy out the land.

Forty-five years later, Caleb was still a vigorous man, and he claimed the promise from the days of old. Joshua saw to it that the hill country around Hebron was given to Caleb.

Caleb received his reward -- forty-five years later. God's clock is not set to our time table. He will honor His promises in due time. But He gets to decide the time; we don't.

Are you looking for God's promise today? Is there something you know that you have been promised in God's word that you don't see in physical manifestation yet? Be assured that God will make good on that promise. But sometimes, His timing seems off to us.

We wait, seemingly in vain, for the promise to appear. But God is strengthening our patience muscle, and He tarries. When the promise is fulfilled, we may learn that something else had to happen before we could realize the promise. God is concerned not only about us, but also about those whose lives we touch.

Father, God,

Help us wait patiently upon your timing. Show us the circumstances from Your point of view, and keep us from violating Your promise with our impatience.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do Not Neglect Counsel

Focus verses: Joshua 9:3-15

In taking the land, God had gone before the Israelites and given them the victory both at Jericho and Ai. So when these strangers came from "a far land," Joshua made treaty with them.

Joshua made this treaty in his own power and his own judgment. He didn't inquire of the Lord. Had he inquired of the Lord, he most likely would have been told not to make the treaty. But once the treaty was made, he had to honor it. Never mind that the Gibeonites sued for the treaty with lies and deception.

Once you have made a vow before the Lord, you are to honor it, whether it is detrimental to your own interests or not. If you do not honor it, you have insulted God because you called Him to witness your oath.

Before making a commitment, we need to inquire of God. He has a vision for our lives, and if we ask, He will share some of that vision with us at the appropriate times. Finding God's vision for our lives should be a priority. His people perish for want of a vision. Let that vision be God's.

Father, God,

Help us to remember to consult You at all times. Keep us ever mindful of our need of Your counsel above all others. And grant us the ears to hear and the wisdom to obey.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Joshua Fought The Battle -- Or Did He?

Focus verses: Joshua 6:1-5

We've all heard the song "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho..."

But today's reading says otherwise. The battle was not Joshua's, but the Lord's. God gave specific instructions which had to be obeyed. Had Joshua not obeyed the Lord, the walls would not have collapsed.

So exactly what did they do? Well the army marched around the city once a day for seven days -- without saying a word. The Ark of the Covenant went before them. And seven priests with trumpets (or shofar) led the Ark.

We have, in effect, the heralding trumpets (seven, the perfect number) leading the presence of the Lord as symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant, followed by the silent army. Imagine the wonder of the besieged citizens of Jericho.

This is not the kind of battle Jericho had prepared for. And this strange parade happens every day for six days. Then on the seventh, the parade circles the city seven times. The shofar sound a long, loud blast, and the army gives a great shout. The walls of the city tremble and collapse.

The army of Israel is, at that moment, the army of God. The city is theirs. But the battle was not Joshua's, nor even the army's. The battle was God's and was won before it began through the obedience of Joshua and the children of Israel.

We need to remember that the battle belongs to God. Our part in this war is to heed the counsel of the Lord and obey.

Father, God,

Help us to listen to Your voice and heed Your words about our lives. Stiffen our wills to be obedient to Your prompting. Help us to keep silent when You would have us to keep silent, and to shout when You would have us shout.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Parting the Waters - Part Two

Focus verses: Joshua 4:19-24

God seems to be in the business of parting the waters for Israel. This time, it's the Jordan. In obedience to God's command, the Ark of the Covenant went before Israel and the priests who carried it stood in the middle of the dry river till all of Israel had passed over. But twelve men were commanded to pick up stones from the place where the priests stood and carry them over as well.

Then Joshua erected a memorial of the stones at Gilgal.

God's in the business of making a way for His people. And His people respond to God's gracious provision -- by forgetting. How often do we forget the provision of the Lord?

God parted the waters of the sea before the Israelites and closed them over the pursuing Egyptians. And the children of Israel built a golden calf. This time God tells them to erect the memorial so they remember and tell their children.

The moment another need comes along we seem to forget God's past provision and wallow in the fear of "what if". We need to set up memorial stones in our lives to recall God's grace and mercy toward us. Reciting these past events will help us get through the current crisis.

Remember the Lord, to make Him first in your life.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful of Your presence in our world. Nudge us when we forget your past mercies and sink into despair over circumstances. Help us to set up memorials in our lives.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, March 9, 2009

In Memoriam

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 24:10-12

The death of Moses is the end of an era for the children of Israel. Joshua has been installed as leader by the laying on of hands. But the verses we focus on today are Moses' epitaph.

Imagine speaking face to face with God. At some point we will see Him face to face, and speak with Him one on one. But Moses did it while he was here. He was used mightily of God and showed God's awesome and awful power to the Egyptians and Israelites alike.

We can come close to this kind of relationship with God. But it requires that we seek Him above all else, that all our desires and aspirations be laid on the altar of God's will, that all our relationships be subject to His scrutiny, that all our actions align with His commandments.

Whew! That's a tall order. And we are incapable of fulfilling it by ourselves. We need Him. We need His Holy Spirit to shine God's light on our circumstances, so that we can see the world around us as He sees it.

So think about your own epitaph. Will they say of you that you knew God?

Father, God,

Help us to clear our minds and hearts of all the extraneous things that would pull our attention away from You. Grant us the singleness of mind and heart to seek You above all else.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Passing the Torch

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 31:7,8

Moses is now a hundred and twenty years old. The Israelites have reached the Jordan and are about to cross over into the promised land. But God has told Moses he will not enter there. It is time to pass the torch to Joshua.

Can you imagine Joshua sitting at the edge of the river and knowing that his leader is leaving the command up to him? Perhaps there is a little trepidation. These are big shoes he is to fill.

But the Lord tells him to be strong a courageous, that the Lord will go before him and be with him. The Lord says "I will never leave you or forsake you."

I don't believe these words were for Joshua alone. When we give our lives to the Lord, He reiterates the same words to us. "I will never leave you or forsake you."

In the best of times, we see the presence of the Lord. In the worst of time, we feel the support and presence of the Lord. In triumph or tribulation, He is -- or should be -- our nearest, dearest companion.

What should we fear if the Lord goes before us? We serve an omnipotent God. Whatever is in store for us, He has prior knowledge and has made provision for us to get through it. Nothing is too hard for Him. When we are in Him, nothing is too much for us to bear, either.

Father, God,

Remind us of your constant presence in our lives. Help us to see that whatever the challenge, You are going before us to grant us favor and prepare the way. Grant us the wisdom to hear Your commands and follow them implicitly.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Treasured Possession

Focus verses: Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Today's reading is a renewal of God's covenant with the people. In it He sets out the results of fidelity to God - blessings - and of infidelity to God - curses.

But the most astonishing part of this passage is that the Lord calls us not only His people, but also His treasured possession, a holy people consecrated to Him.

From our earlier readings we know that the word consecrated means set aside for exclusive use. We have been set aside as the exclusive possession of the Most High God. What in the world can He want with us?

God wants our voluntary and exclusive fellowship with Him. Because He is sovereign and all-powerful, He could coerce this fellowship. But He prefers that we come to Him of our own volition. He wants our willing hearts brought to Him openly.

He asks for our complete trust in Him, telling Him all that is in our hearts and listening for his response, His vision for our lives, His will.

Can we set aside everything else and focus only on Him?

Father, God,

Imbue us with Your Holy Spirit. Remind us constantly that we are Yours and are to keep our eyes and hearts focused on You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Focus verses: Leviticus 26:3-45

In today's reading, God sets forth the consequences for obedience and disobedience. Consequences are built in ramifications of a course of action.

Look at the natural laws. If you drop a ball, it falls down, not up. If you throw a rock in a pond, there are ripples. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Every action carries within itself the seeds of its own reward or punishment. There are a hundred other platitudes that carry this same thought.

Verses 14 and following are frightening, considering the world in which we live. "But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life."

"I will bring upon you sudden terror..." Ouch! Could the Lord be withdrawing His protective hand from the United States? Lets see, we are condoning activities which He declared unlawful, we are murdering the innocent, and we oppress the less fortunate. How patient will He be with us? Perhaps we ought to take stock.

Father, God,

Unseal our collective consciences. Touch the citizens of this land with your love so that it overflows to make us generous to the less fortunate, protective of the innocent, and bold to speak out against the unlawful.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Focus verses: Leviticus 25:35-38

Today's reading sets out general welfare laws for the orderly running of a society.

In an age when greed seems to rule the day, we are told that we are responsible for those less fortunate. We are to be open-handed and sharing, rather than closed and hoarding.

It would appear also that this is a personal responsibility, not a governmental one.

How often do we see something amiss and fail to respond to it because "it's none of my business"? If there is a need, it is our business.

I believe that this applies not just to physical needs, although that is the focus here, but also to spiritual and emotional needs as well.

When someone is starving for attention, what does it cost to pay a little attention? When someone is feeling worthless, how expensive is it to remind him that he's important to God -- and to you?

And if there is a physical need which you can help, what are you sacrificing if you address that need?

We are a busy, self-absorbed society. That isn't the picture God paints for societal welfare in this passage.

Father, God,

Open our eyes to see the needs around us as You see them. Make us sensitive to others, so that we can be used of You to supply those needs.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Set Apart

Focus verses: Leviticus 20:25,26

Today's reading is full of dietary and sanitary regulations. You might ask what that has to do with us today. I find a corollary in these regulations and the spiritual food and health of the modern church.

There is an old saying - you are what you eat. That's true not only of our stomachs but of our minds.

We are bombarded day in and day out by all kinds messages. Some of them want to sell us things to make our lives easier, or more prosperous looking. Some of them tout medications to take care of illnesses we would not have if we followed God's rules. Others give us pictures that are unclean for our minds. Still more urge us to condone activities that God has clearly forbidden.

God tells us to stay clear of those things which draw us away from Him. He clearly states that we are to be set apart as His people. Yes, this makes us different. Sometimes it makes us the target of ridicule or aspersions.

We could be more comfortable if we were more like the rest of the world. Perhaps we should not seek to assimilate into society quite so completely.

We just need a small space of common ground from which we can tell the rest of the world why we're different. To spread the good news of our God.

Father, God,

Help us to remain Your people set apart. Help us to guard our hearts and eyes and ears that no unclean thing enters our spirits. May we always focus on You and who You have called us to be.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Focus verses: Leviticus 14:33-42

God's regulations about health are amazing! But I don't know why I should be surprised. He created us and knows all that we need, all that we might come up against, and all that might harm us.

Mildew is a creeping thing. It starts with a little bit of moisture and spreads until it can literally ruin a whole building, contaminating everyone who enters.

Sin is much like that. It can start with the smallest infraction and move until it consumes the whole of our lives.

A much wiser man than I once wrote:

"Who is that knocking at the door of my soul?"
(in a beseeching whisper) "A lonely little sin."
"Slip in" we answer in an undertone.
And all Hell is in!

Father, God,

Help us to recognize the beseeching whisper of that lonely little sin. Give us the wisdom to deny him entrance to our hearts. And grant us the strength to stand against the wiles of evil.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Opposites

Focus verses: Leviticus 18:24-30

Today's reading covers some unpopular topics. All related to sexual purity. It spells out God's thoughts on marriage, adultery, incest, homosexuality, and bestiality. He's for marriage and against all the rest.

This is not a popular stance in today's world. We are bombarded with demands for gay rights in the name of tolerance. We see people hopping in and out of bed with various partners time and time again as if it were the most normal thing in the world. We give our teenage daughters birth control pills and tell them to have a good time. And we let them date younger and younger each year.

What can we be thinking?

God's message is clear. Promiscuity is forbidden. Adultery is forbidden. Homosexuality is forbidden. Incest is forbidden. Purity in marriage is to be the rule, not the exception.

God seems to hold marriage in high esteem. He started the whole thing in the garden when he gave Eve to Adam. And he communed with the two of them in the cool of the evening. Husband and wife spending quality time with God, what a picture.

It would seem that this should be the ideal we strive for. Marriage is a partnership of two people twining themselves around as much of God as they can understand.

If we truly understood God, none of the atrocities against marriage that we currently tolerate, and sometimes even promote would be so prevalent in our land. We would have less divorce, less infidelity.

Father, God,

Help us to understand that Your thoughts on purity and marriage are designed for our well-being. Keep us from becoming insensitive to the violations of your laws and give us the courage to speak out when we see tolerance becoming license.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Swear

Focus verse: Leviticus 19:12

Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

This short, but somber, word can help direct the course of our lives. We do well to realize that when we claim the name of Christian, we become God's ambassadors to a chaotic and hurting world.

The children of Israel did not ever say the name of the Lord. It was too holy to be pronounced by profane lips. It was as if the name carried the essence of God himself. What is said in the name of the Lord needs to be just that holy.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The Gospel of John opens with these words. "Word" is a reference to Christ Himself. Jesus Christ was the sacrifice for our sins and the means of reconciling man to God. And scripture calls Him the Word.

If scripture places such importance on Word, can we do any less?

Do not give your word and fail to keep it. Failure to honor your pledge brings disgrace to the name of the Lord. Consequences follow disgracing the Lord's name.

One of those consequences is that a poor witness can keep the unsaved from hearing the good news of the Gospel. To be a stumbling block to another person's salvation or faith has eternal ramifications.

Father, God,

Help us to keep our words and our actions upright, to reflect well upon Your name. Guard our lips that no thoughtless words fall therefrom.
In Jesus' most precious name.