Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Catching Up

My apologies for this abbreviated version of Monday's devotion.

Something glitched in my scheduled posts, and they didn't post when they should have. I manually posted Sunday's on Monday evening after a friend asked if I was okay, so we get Monday and Tuesday today.

Thank you for your patience with my ineptness at these technologies.

For Monday, June 29, 2009

The Kingdom Is Coming

Focus verses: Isaiah 9:1-7

"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given." This is the heart of the Christian message. God so loved the world that He gave us his son. In Him all burdens are bearable, all things are possible, eternal fellowship with God is ours. In Him, that is, and only in Him. We can have the real Christmas every day of our lives. In Him.

Father, God,

Thank You for sending Your Son.

For Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Promise Continues

Focus verses: Isaiah 11:10-16

Not only is the Saviour foreshadowed in Isaiah's prophecies, the return of Israel to a position of prominence is promised as well. These verses show the children of Israel being returned from diaspora and reunited as a single nation.

The promise is valid for all Christians. We are to be a united people, a union which can occur only under God.

The deliverance of the people of God is to be a physical deliverance as well, but it is first and foremost a spiritual deliverance. Deliverance from a world which would ensnare us into idolatries of every kind. Deliverance from bondage to our physical bodies as the be-all and end-all of our existence. Deliverance from the hands of the enemy of our souls.

When we lay hold of this promise and put our eyes on God, everything else seems to shrink in importance. There is a chorus: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

Father, God,

Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. Draw us ever closer to your heart. Grant us the selective hearing to tune out the cacophony of this world and listen only to You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Beginnings Of Diaspora

My apologies. This scheduled post didn't post at the appropriate time for yesterday.

Focus verses: I Chronicles 5:23-26

The infidelities of the children of Israel have exceeded the Lord's forbearance. So the Assyrians swept down and carried off the descendants of Reuben, the first born of Jacob and Leah; the descendants of Gad, the first born of Jacob and Zilpah; and the descendants of Manasseh, the first born of Joseph and Asenath.

It is interesting that these are all the "first born" of their mother. Even more interesting is a look at the meaning of their names. Reuben means "look, a son." Gad can mean either "a troop" (like an army) or "good fortune." Manasseh means "to forget."

I find it fascinating that the Assyrians carried off the first born and good fortune because the children of Israel had forgotten the Lord.

You would think that the remaining tribes would fall on their knees, pleading with God for restoration. But the king of Israel allied with the king of Syria (Aram) and marched against the king of Judah instead.

Why do we not turn to God when the world goes against us? We seem to want to take on the world on its terms - on its turf - without the benefit of our Father's knowledge and power. We seem to think our battles are on a physical plane, when they are most often spiritual in nature.

Father, God,

Help us to see Your permissive hand in our adversities. Use them to draw us closer, more dependent upon You in every way. Grant us victory in Your Holy Spirit.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Who Is Like You

Focus verses: Micah 7:14-20

Despite the sins of the people. God is eager to forgive as soon as they return to Him. His anger does not burn forever. He is a merciful God.

That does not mean that we can presume upon His mercy. We cannot assume that He will forgive the unrepentant. We have seen the destruction of the wicked.

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. The reward of fidelity and obedience to God is His favor. The reward of disobedience and faithlessness is separation from God.

"Who is knocking at the door of my heart?"
Pleading, "A lonely little sin."
"Slip in" we whisper.
And all of hell is in!

Disobedience and faithlessness is sin. And it doesn't matter if the sin is a big one or a little one. Sin is sin, and it's always bad.

But repentance -- a real change of heart and action -- appeal to God's mercy and forgiveness.

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 - paraphrased by me)

No one is like God. We have a hard time forgiving even the repentant. But God is eager to forgive at the first sign of repentance.

Father, God,

Show us Your mercy. Help us to realize the all-or-nothing-ness of obedience and faithfulness. Keep us faithful to you. And grant us the heart to forgive others as You have forgiven us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Promised One

Focus verses: Micah 5:1-5

These verses tell us of the coming Messiah. It is one of a number of foreshadowings of Christ in the Old Testament.

In this prophesy, Israel has been abandoned until such time as the birth of this Ruler. Israel was under the thumb of Rome at the time of Christ's birth. Roman troops occupied the land. The priestly authorities had to go to the Roman ruler of the land to verify whether they could function or not. Israel was merely a geographical designation for a portion of the Roman Empire.

"He will stand and shepherd his flock." A shepherd was a nomad. He traveled the area with his flock, moving from one pasture to the next. Sheep have a split lip and can get their teeth even with the ground, cutting the blades of grass next to the roots. When sheep have grazed in a pasture, it needs time to regrow before it can be used again.

The Lord moved with His disciples, from one city to another in the land. At each location He taught or did something different from the last time. Then He moved on, leaving the people to assimilate what He had done or said. Or the people followed Him to the next place where He taught something more.

"He will be their peace." Sheep follow their shepherd in confidence because they know he will never lead them in dangerous places.

He is our peace in all circumstances, if we have put Him at the center of our lives. He will never lead us astray. We can rest securely in Him.

Father, God,

Reinforce in us the desire to follow the Good Shepherd. Help us to keep our eyes on Him and the narrow path He leads us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Liars and Deceivers

Focus verses: Micah 2:6-11

Today's reading shows us the third prophet in this time frame. Micah is prophesying the same message that Amos and Isaiah have been prophesying. God wants obedience and righteousness from the people, not empty forms of worship.

But today's reading also talks about preachers and prophets. Micah has just told the people that their sins of covetousness and greed will bring heavy judgment upon them. Then he says:

"If a liar and deceiver comes and says, 'I will prophesy for you plenty...' he would be just the prophet for this people!"

Suddenly I see a number of people who preach a gospel of wealth and prosperity, a name it and claim it gospel. Micah has just said they are false prophets.

We live in a time when communication is universal and immediate. Television and radio bring words from one side of the world to the other in moments, not months. People seem pressed for time because they occupy themselves with recreation and entertainment, not the study of God and His word. Therefore, people are deluded by the ear-tickling messages of these false prophets.

In Second Timothy we are enjoined to study the word of truth, to explain it correctly, to live it rightly. (Paraphrased by me.)

Unless we study the word of God diligently, we will be led astray by those who tickle our ears with half-truths for their own gain.

Father, God,

Help us to study Your word diligently so that we know Your voice and are not led astray by those who would tell us pleasant lies to our destruction.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Holy, Holy, Holy

Focus verses: Isaiah 6:1-13

Today we see Isaiah's vision of God upon His throne. His glory fills the space. The seraphs herald the presence of the Lord with the words "holy, holy, holy." The earth trembles at this magnificence.

Isaiah is humbled. In the presence of this holiness, he sees only his unworthiness. But he is cleansed by a live coal from the altar and given his commission to speak to the nation. He is also informed that his words will fall upon deaf ears, but he is told to go and preach anyway.

When we enter into the presence of the Lord, are we sensitive to His holiness and magnificence? Do we see his glory reflected in all creation, His handiwork? Do we listen for our commission to do His work? Do we faithfully work at our God given task despite what the world says about it or us?

For that matter, are we sensitive at all times that we are in the presence of the Lord? There is a small book, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, which teaches about being sensible of God's presence whether in the kitchen or in the sanctuary. It is an old book - ever new. We need to master this practice.

Father, God,

Help us to keep Your presence ever uppermost in our hearts. Show us Your glory in the world around us. Give us ears to hear Your commission on our lives and faithful hearts and hands to complete the work You have given us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sin Paraded

Focus verses: Isaiah 3:8-15

Unacknowledged and unrepented sin is fatal. When a people will not acknowledge its sins as sin and will not repent of it, they have marked themselves for destruction.

I read this verse and shuddered: "They parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves."

As a nation, we, too, parade our sins like Sodom. We parade the sin of sodomy and give it place in our world by trying to legitimize it.

We make laws that put innocence in danger and justify expediency over righteousness.

We reward those who manipulate and scheme and commit fraud.

Our legal system has been skewed to favor the powerful over the just; it has overstepped its boundaries at the behest of the powerful.

As a nation, we are in terrible shape. We have committed every sin in the book. We have earned all the reprisals listed in the book.

God is just and merciful to those who acknowledge their sin and repent. But God is also righteous, and those who flout their sin proudly will not receive mercy.

As individuals, let us examine our hearts to root out and repent of our personal sins. As a nation, let us work to return our country to the righteousness of the Lord.

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your love into our hearts to show us our sins that we may repent of them. Give us the discernment to see those who would lead us astray, and let us have the courage not to elect leaders who will pull us down that path.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Focus verses: II Chronicles 26:16-21

King Uzziah (also known as King Azariah just to help confuse us) was a successful King. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord -- except, he did not tear down the high places where the people sacrified to idols.

He became powereful and prideful -- a dangerous combination. He went into the temple to burn incense to the Lord. But only the priests were assigned and allowed to burn the incense. Uzziah had overstepped the bounds.

Worse than that, when the priests rebuked him for this transgression, he ranted and raved at them. But the Lord had the last word. Even as he was speaking leprosy broke out on his forehead.

Leprosy excluded one from all society in those days. Lepers lived in segregated valleys. If they were on the road they were required to call "Unclean, unclean" so that people would not come near them.

Uzziah was striken with leprosy as a punishment. I don't believe it was as much because of his attempt to burn the incense as it was because of his raging at the priests who tried to correct him.

Presumption is a terrible quality. It oversteps its bounds and refuses correction. It stiffens an unteachable and recalcitrant spirit.

Father, God,

Keep us open and malleable and teachable. Let us not fall into belief that our deeds, however good, entitle us to be more than You created us to be. Help us to be the best we can be at what You created us for.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Focus verses: Amos 9:11-15

The prophecies of Amos are dire predictions against Israel because of their infidelity to the Lord and their empty religious practices and their injustices and oppression of the poor.

He spoke of days of destruction and the exile of Israel into a distant land.

But verses eleven through fifteen promise a restoration. "I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them." The promise is restoration.

We, too, have committed the entire litany of sins that Amos charges against Israel. We have been unfaithful, unjust, complacent and proud. We have turned away from the Lord because other things seem more expedient at the moment.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you, Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

The key to restoration is seeking the Lord and His righteousness.

Father, God,

Give us an insatiable hunger for You and your word. Draw us to Your righteousness.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Prepare To Meet Your God

Focus verses: Amos 4:12, 13

Amos was a shepherd, not a scholar. He speaks in plain language, but his speech is a warning and judgment upon Israel.

The most frightening words of today's reading, however, are these: "Prepare to meet your God, O Israel."

People who do not ordinarily give God a second thought frequently turn to Him when things go desperately wrong in their lives. The old saying "there are no atheists in foxholes" was coined during a war. When one's life is on the line, it is comforting to think that someone in authority cares about it.

But Amos lists a series of calamities that befell Israel, and the people hardened their hearts and did not return to the Lord. He implies that the Lord brought these calamities on the people for the purpose of turning their hearts toward Him, but this stubborn and stiff-necked people thought they knew best.

Meeting the Lord, face to face, when one has not served Him, when one has given lip service only, when one has left Him out of one's life, can be a scary thought. Imagine meeting this all-powerful stranger!

We should spend our entire lives preparing to meet our God. Reading His word, praying, serving, praising, relying on Him for our every breath. Those are the preparations to meet our God. If we do this, when the time comes to meet Him face to face, we will be greeting a loving, doting, benevolent Father, not some impersonal stranger.

Father, God,

Help us to spend more time with You in our busy days. Teach us what You would have us know about Yourself. Grant us an awareness of our total dependence upon You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Promised Forgiv eness

Focus verses: Hosea 14:1-9

Despite the number of times Israel has strayed from the Lord, He promises forgiveness if Israel will simply return to Him.

That means to seek the Lord, to turn away from the idols they have chased, to truly repent of their unfaithfulness, to observe His commandments -- essentially to love Him above all else.

We have a problem with this. Loving a God whom you cannot see or hear or feel or touch is not as easy as loving something that has physical substance that you can see and feel. God is a spirit. But we live in a physical world. It's all too easy to get wrapped up in the things we can see and to forget that the real battle is in the spiritual plane.

The physical world makes demands on us. Things need tending; people require our attention; jobs must be fulfilled. All these things are important, but none so important as our spiritual well-being.

We can serve this portion of our lives only by our fidelity to God and to His edicts. Nothing less will do. Our return to Him will be rewarded by His forgiveness of our infidelities. He has said it.

Father, God,

Thank you for never changing. Thank you that You forgive those who repent and turn to You to heal their spirits. Grant that we may see the wisdom in loving and serving You alone.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kings Without Consent

Focus verses: Hosea 8:1-14

God has spelled out the sins of His children. You see, He created man with a free will, and He will not override that freedom. That is the only place where we can limit God. Our free will is a double-edged sword.

If we choose wisely, we can live in God's approval. If we choose wrongly, we reap His disapproval. It's a frightening thought.

They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval. With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction.

This passage looks like it was written for the United States in these days. We leave God out of our politics and business dealings. We have done so for many years. We set up goals - all based on money in some fashion. Our politicians are not public servants as the early presidents were, but many are seeking self-aggrandizing power. Our businesses are built on greed. The consequences for this behavior are dire.

They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour.

In Kansas, we know the whirlwind. It's power is terrible, and it's path seems capricious. It is unpredictable. If one comes your way, you can only take shelter and pray. If it hits, you can expect enormous destruction. The hail that frequently accompanies those storms can thresh a field of wheat as it stands so that there is no harvest for the sower.

Do we not see the parallel? When we neglect God, when we put other things ahead of Him, we can only expect negative consequences.

Father, God,

Show us the right paths. Keep us seeking You and Your instructions at all times. We would be faithful, not faithless.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Focus verses: Hosea 2:14,15

The book of Hosea is the picture of an unfaithful wife. We would call her a harlot or prostitute. But is is a picture of the infidelity of the children of Israel -- and by extension all of us who claim the name of Christ.

Despite our best intentions we are drawn away by many things, money, fame, power, sensuality, good causes, family concerns. Anything that takes first place in our hearts before God becomes an idol - an infidelity to God.

But God is faithful to us, no matter how unfaithful we are to Him.

There is a promise in these verses:

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor (Valley of trouble) a door of hope.

We have all had times of darkness and desolation, times when things went very wrong. We have lost a business, a friend, a family member, our self-esteem, something important. In these periods of desolation, God can speak to us.

Our times of trouble are times God can draw us closer to Him. He whispers His love to us. He makes us fruitful again. He restores our salvation. He is patient and faithful. His desire is our reunion with Him, and He will work to bring that about.

Father, God,

Thank you for Your faithfulness to us even when we are unfaithful to You. Grant us the softened hearts of the desolate that we may hear Your whispers of love to us and hasten to return to fidelity to You.
In Jesus' most precious name.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reordering Priorities

Focus verses: Jonah 3:10-4:11

Virtually all of us are familiar with the story of Jonah and the great fish or whale. But we seem to overlook the lesson of these verses.

Jonah was waiting to see what will happen to the city of Nineveh after his preaching the destruction of the Lord. But the king and inhabitants of the city had taken Jonah at his word and repented. They fasted and prayed in sackcloth and ashes. The Lord saw their hearts and had compassion on them. He withheld His destructive hand.

And Jonah was angry. I've never understood this part. The man was sent on a mission. The mission was successful, and the man sat on a hillside and pouted because his mission had accomplished exactly what God intended it should accomplish.

Then the vine grew and provided shade for Jonah, but the next day it was gone because of a worm that ate at it. Jonah was angry that the vine had been destroyed.

Lets see. He was angry that the city of Nineveh had been spared and angry that the vine was destroyed. God rebuked him for his misordered priorities. The vine was a thing which Jonah enjoyed, but had no part in. He didn't plant it or cultivate it. And he couldn't protect it from the destroying worm.

The city of Nineveh, however, wass a city filled with people - more than one hundred and twenty thousand people - whom he saved from destruction with his preaching. God was concerned with the people. The vine was of little consequence.

Jonah was out of line because his priorities were not the same as God's priorities.

Where are our priorities? Do they line up with God's priorities?

Father, God,

Grant us the ability to see this hurting world with Your eyes of compassion. Keep us in line with Your priorities, concerned about the lost and eager to share the good news.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nation Under God

Focus verses: II Chronicles 25:5-24

Time and again we see in scripture where the king followed God for a while and then turned to the idols of the country he just vanquished.

When that happens, the Lord sends a conquering invader to rebuke the wandering children of Israel. Then in captivity or distress, they begin to return to the Lord and ask Him to get them out of the straits they brought upon themselves.

Our country is in distress. We just heard our president say to an international audience that the United States does not consider itself a Christian nation. Anyone with a smattering of historical knowledge knows that the nation was founded by men who were primarily Christian. Some have argued that certain of the founding fathers were deists, not Christians, but that is sort of begging the question.

In fact, the favor of the Lord on the United States will be withdrawn if those of us who bear His name do not fall on our knees and follow the injunctions of II Chronicles 7:14.

If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

This is our challenge, to fall to our knees and seek God.

Father, God,

Grant us the special favor of hearts hungry for You. Keep us on our knees, seeking Your face for the sake of our country.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Internal and External Influence

Focus Verses: II Chronicles 24:6-22

We've been back and forth between Judah and Israel during today's reading, but I want to focus on Judah for the moment.

Joash was the child-king. Jehoiada acted as guardian and regent for him when he was underage and wielded a large influence as he grew. Joash had decreed the repair of the temple of the Lord, but by the time he was thirty, the priests had not yet begun those repairs. So Joash told them to collect money from the people only for the repair of the temple. The priests were to hand over the collected monies which were to be used to hire workmen to repair the temple.

So the temple was repaired. As long as Jehoiada lived, the offerings were presented continually in the temple of the Lord. But Jehoiada was old, and he died. Immediately thereafter, the officials of Judah came to the king and paid homage. So he listened to them and the worship in the temple of the Lord was abandoned.

Joash was influenced from the outside. While he had Jehoiada, he was faithful to the Lord. But when Jehoiada was no longer with him, the pagan influences came back, and Joash fell right into line with "political correctness" -- expediency. Joash was not strong enough in the Lord to withstand the pressures of paganism. His fidelity to the Lord was dependent on the influence of Jehoiada.

Who influences you? Why are you faithful to the Lord? Is it because of your hunger for Him? Or is it because of family or community influences? Only an internal influence can keep you faithful to Him.

Father, God,

Imbue us with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to make Him the most important influence in our lives, that we may never be led astray.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Surface or Substance

Focus verses: Joel 2:12-17

The book of Joel is a warning and a promise with a contingency. That contingency is here.

"Rend your heart and not your garment."

We all know people whose faith is all show and no substance. And we all know people whose quiet faith is all substance and not show.

I remember a lady, a quiet lady, who was faithful at church - the quiet one in the corner. If there was work to be done in the kitchen, Ida was working. If something needed cleaning, Ida was cleaning. If someone needed prayer, Ida was praying. She filled every need she could see. She was the living example of "bloom where you are planted."

Her motivation was simple fidelity to God. His church had a need; she had a willing spirit.

Our country is in terrible shape, morally, ethically, spiritually. We hear people lamenting and decrying all over the place. But what are we doing to correct this sad state of affairs?

All the high-faluting campaigns will be found virtually useless. The people of God must return to Him in prayer and obedience. Nothing man can think of on a philosophical or psychological or sociological basis will be the cure for our sick nation. The cure can only come from God, and it will only come as the people of God turn to Him and follow His edicts. All of them, without diluting the word of God to acquiesce to political correctness.

We must rend our hearts to return to fidelity to God.

Father, God,

Help us to see our hearts as You see them. Keep us soft and responsive to Your promptings. Show us the way to lead our world to Your salvation.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, June 12, 2009

All or Nothing

Focus verses: II Kings 11:21-12:3

Today's reading is filled with political intrigue, murder, and paganism. The salvation of the people of Judah is tied to the coronation of Joash, the child king, and the influence of Jehoiada, the priest, who acted as regent while Joash was underage.

There was a resurrection of the worship of the Lord and all the people were feeling a sense of spiritual renewal. But -- and this was a big one -- but the high places were not removed and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. Those were pagan places where the worship of other gods was conducted.

It doesn't work. We cannot worship God for most of life and keep a small corner of our lives where we continue to pay homage to other than God. What high places do we have in our lives?

What is important to you? Is family more important than God? Then you have an idol. What about your job? Your possessions? Your hobbies? Your secret sins?

If we are to have true spiritual renewal, we must sweep all these things off the high places in our hearts. Don't misunderstand here. Jobs and families and hobbies and possessions are important, but they are not to usurp first place in our hearts.

There is an order of priorities we need to maintain. It begins with God first. He must be most important in our lives. We need to think about Him day and night. We need to take all decisions and actions to Him for permission and approval before engaging in them.

Second in this lineup is family, and there is a proper order here. If we are single, our first loyalty should be with our parents. If we are married, our spouse takes first place in the family.

The other things in our lives need to fall into place in a descending order. Job, interests, possessions -- all need to be prioritized under the directions of our Lord.

But in worship, we must worship God entirely. Nothing else can command a high place in our lives. With God, it's all or nothing. He doesn't want your divided heart. He wants your whole heart.

Set your heart on God alone, and He will order the priorities of your life.

Father, God,

Grant us the favor of an undivided heart. Keep us from diluting our worship of You with inordinate concern for things and people. Help us to prioritize our lives with Your order.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Focus verses: II Kings 9:30-37

When Jezebel had Naboth killed so that Ahab could have Naboth's land at Jezreel, the word of the Lord came to say that the dogs would lick up Ahab's blood on that very land. But it also said that the dogs would devour Jezebel's flesh also on that very spot.

What could Jezebel have done to deserve such an ignominous end?

She fed Ahab's covetousness by telling him that as king, he should have the piece of ground he wanted. Never mind that God Himself had parceled that land to another family.

She took the seal of the king and wrote letters to elders and nobles in Naboth's city. In those letters, she laid out a scheme that used others to conspire against Naboth, to lie about Naboth, to have Naboth stoned to death.

The charge against Naboth was that he had cursed both God and the king. It was a lie. Naboth had not cursed God or the king. He had, in fact, simply honored God's legacy to his family by holding onto the land that had been parceled out as his family heritage from God.

Jezebel took God's name in vain in the most heinous manner, using it to condemn an innocent man.

Today's reading sees the dogs devour her flesh on the very land Ahab coveted. The word of the Lord never fails. Ahab was the most wicked king in Israel and Jezebel was his equal in treachery and wickedness. The Lord excised that particular wickedness by orchestrating the deaths of the couple and cutting off all their heritage in the land.

Father, God,

Help us to be discerning in our words and deeds. Grant us the favor of knowing Your voice among all the others that whisper in our ears. Keep us faithful to Your words, careful to do in Your name only those things which You have decreed.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Focus verses: II Kings 5:1-14

The name Naaman comes from a root that means pleasant or delightful. But Naaman was highly thought of because he was the commander of the army for the king of Aram when God gave the victory to Aram.

He is not an Israelite, but he does have leprosy. This term was used for all kinds of skin diseases, not just the actual disease of leprosy. In the battle, there was a captive Israelite girl who served Naaman's wife. She told him about Elisha.

But Elisha was not impressed. He didn't even see Naaman when he came to him for healing. He simply sent his servant to tell him to "dip in the Jordan seven times." What an odd thing!

Naaman was incensed. He expected that the prophet would come out and make a show and heal him on the spot. But go wash in the Jordan! He had rivers at home. Why wouldn't they do as well?

God has criteria for blessing. One of those criteria is obedience. Whether it seems to make sense to us or not. We are to obey God. It may be something silly. Or it may sound unwise -- even dangerous. But God expects obedience. Once you have ascertained that it is God telling you to do something, not obeying is a sure recipe for disaster.

And don't be deceived. Delayed obedience is disobedience. When God speaks, we are to move immediately. Naaman's obedience was rewarded with healing.

Father, God,

Keep us ever close to You so that we recognize Your voice instantaneously. Grant us the willing hearts for instantaneous and unquestioning obedience.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Focus verse: Obadiah: 15

Obadiah is one of the "lesser prophets." The book of Obadiah is a single chapter with only 21 verses. But just because it's small, it isn't unimportant.

His name means "serving Yah." And his words carry a message from the Lord.

Verse 15 speaks directly to the Edomites, the sons of Esau. Esau was the twin of Jacob, later named Israel. There has been bad blood between the Israelites and the Edomites for generations, just as there was dissension between Jacob and Esau. Family feuds seem to be carried on and on and on.

But in this verse, God says "The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head."

Gee, that sounds a lot like "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Our God is consistent about our conduct and the consequences of our actions.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change. His requirements do not change. Obedience brings favor. Disobedience brings rebuke. It's a simple choice.

Father, God,

Help us to remember who You are and what You require of Your children. Keep us faithful to Your words and Your precepts. May we be all You would have us to be.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Music, Music, Music

Focus verses: II Kings 3:6-20

Time of crisis. Three kings, the king of Israel, the king of Edom, and the king of Judah, set out to fight the king of Moab. But they went through the desert and ran out of water.

Jehoshaphat called for a prophet of the Lord, and Elisha was the prophet they found. Elisha, however, called for a harpist.

A harpist! Why would he want a harpist? Music. Music is the vehicle for praising the Lord. And we are told in the Psalms that God inhabits the praises of His people. When we need the Lord, music will draw us closer into His presence.

As the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha. Then the prophecy came. They were instructed to dig channels for the water they needed. They were told that they would not see any rain, but that the channels would be filled. They obeyed, and things happened as they had been told.

You see, God honors our obedience. They prepared for the water, even though there was no rain. What they could see indicated there was no need for the water channels. But God said, so they did.

While God is pleased by our praise music, He is more pleased by the music of our obedience. Instantaneous, unquestioning obedience. It's a rare thing. We need to do more of it.

Father, God,

Help us to hear the music of Your words, Your commands. Grant that we may sing in harmony with our obedience. Let us hear the music of the heavens.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Selfish Prayer

Focus verses: II Kings 2:1-15

Elisha knew how to pray. He asked for something for himself. He asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Essentially he was asking for a double portion of the spirit of God.

He had walked with Elijah as his servant, assistant, protege. He had seen the miracles Elijah had done. He had witnessed the power of God close up and personal.

Being near the power of God is a heady experience. There is a realization of the awesomeness of our God, a sense of the puniness of the self, a wonder at the privilege of simply being an observer.

Have you ever been on a plane? There is a little ritual about the emergency procedures that every flight attendant recites. If the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the compartments above each seat. Adults with children are cautioned to apply their masks to themselves first, before applying the masks to the children.

There is a reason. If the parent has no oxygen and passes out, there will be no one to help the child. It's the same in the service of the Lord.

We've known godly men and women who burnt themselves out because they focused on what they could do for others and neglected their relationship with God. When Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, he was not being selfish. He knew that only with a double portion of that spirit could he do those things which God had in mind.

What does God have in mind for you? And do you have a sufficient portion of His spirit living within you to accomplish His purposes?

Father, God,

Help us to prioritize our requests. Show us what we need to have to accomplish Your plans in our lives. Keep us ever faithful to Your vision.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Focus verses: I Kings 21:1-24

Today's reading tells us about the two most infamous people in the Old Testament and one faithful steward.

Ahab is the most wicked king to rule Israel, and Jezebel, his wife, has turned into a byword in our language as a descriptor of a treacherous woman.

The story of Naboth's vineyard seems rather innocuous in our day and age. Why would Naboth keep something that he could sell at a profit? After all, the king offered to trade him a different piece of property or to purchase the vineyard outright for cash.

But remember when the children of Israel took possession of the land, each tribe was given a specific portion of the land. The land is their heritage.

Back in the book of Joshua, chapter 13, we have the land being divided according to the word of the Lord spoken directly to Joshua. "Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you, and divide it as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half of the tribe of Manasseh." (v. 13)

Naboth looked upon his land as an inheritance from the Lord. A gift from God is not to be taken lightly, nor traded off like one would barter a donkey or a bushel of grain. Look at his answer to Ahab: "The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers."

Naboth valued his heritage from the Lord and took his stewardship quite seriously.

What has the Lord given us that we value so highly? And how are we using it? What spiritual gifts do we have that we can use to benefit the body of Christ? And when was the last time we took these questions into consideration?

Father, God,

Teach us to use our inheritace from You wisely. Show us our gifts and how You would have us use them for Your glory.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Focus verses: I Kings 17:1-17

When you are a servant of God, He provides for your needs. That doesn't mean that you can sit on your duff and be waited upon like royalty, but it does mean that God will provide.

Sometimes He does it supernaturally like He did for Elijah with the ravens at the brook of Kerith. Sometimes he does it through the hands of other people, like the widow of Zarephath. But the widow had no means to supply Elijah with food. She offered from her lack and the Lord provided with plenty.

Sometimes we forget that God is our source of all supply. We take it upon ourselves to think that we can be our own be all and end all. That is an arrogance Christians can ill afford.

We worry about all kinds of things, when things are not the place where our hearts should be. We need to test our trust in the Lord.

That doesn't mean that we can be cavalier about providing for ourselves. We need to have gainful employment of some nature. We need to be seeking to provide for ourselves. But we can't be obsessed about it. We need to rely on God to provide our opportunities for service.

Father, God,

Help us to remember, moment by moment, that You are our source of all things. Life, breath, salvation, joy, sustenance -- all of it come from You alone. Keep us ever grateful for Your generosity.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Restoration of the Law

Focus verses: II Chronicles 17:1-19

Jehoshaphat became king in Judah after his father Asa, the son of Abijah, the son of Rehoboam.

Judah prospered under the reign of Jehoshaphat because he walked in the ways of his ancestor, David. He sought the Lord and walked in his ways. The people had not yet followed. But Jehoshaphat remedied that as well.

He sent teachers throughout the land to teach the law of the Lord. Imagine, the king sent teachers of the law to the people.

How I wish we taught the law of the Lord in our land at this time. We have a legal system that seems bent on removing the laws of God from the laws of the land.

How shocked and disappointed our founding fathers would be to see this turn of events. Our country was founded as a Christian nation. The separation of church and state that people keep referring to is a misinterpretation of their intent. They intended to keep the state out of the church, not the church out of the state.

I'm afraid we don't know our own history well enough, but we've seen how God deals with the nation of Israel when they forsake him for other deities. We've allowed our country to follow the deities of materialism, hedonism, greed and perversion. Can we expect the favor of God on our nation?

Father, God,

Open the eyes of our nation to the truth of your sovereignty. Turn our hearts toward you and away from the worldly distractions that would hold our attention and keep us from you.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Completed Word

Focus verses: I Kings 22:28-36

When Ahab killed Naboth for his vineyard, the Lord told Ahab that the dogs would lick up his blood exactly where they licked up the blood of Naboth.

Can't you imagine that Ahab was very careful for his life from that day forward? Look at today's reading. The Israelites, both Israel and Judah, are about to go into battle against Aram. The king of Judah goes in his normal garb, but the king of Israel, Ahab, goes disguised as a nobody.

The king of Aram told his warriors to target the king of Israel, but with Ahab in disguise, they didn't know where he was. To all intents and purposes, Ahab was killed by a stray arrow. What a coincidence.

It is a coincidence only if you will accept my definition of the word: a small miracle where God chooses to remain anonymous, so if you don't want to see Him, you don't have to. But if you are looking, there He is.

The word of God never comes back void, but it always completes what it says. That is as true of the uncomfortable consequences as it is of the beneficial ones.

Father, God,

Help us to take all Your words as You meant them. Remind us that the uncomfortable truths in the Bible are just as valid as the reassuring ones. Keep us faithful to all Your truth.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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A Divided Heart

Focus verses: II Chronicles 13:1-21, and I Kings 15:3-5

The story of Abijah is a sad tale. But it is our tale as well. When he is in the throes of battle, he invokes the name of the Lord. He serves God when it suits his purposes.

When he had grown in strength -- that is after God had bailed him out of his troubles -- he committed all the sins of his father. Get this: "because his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God."

You see, with God it's all or nothing! You cannot be partially devoted to the Lord and partially devoted to the things of this world.

We have a lot of Christians like Abijah. There are a lot of us who sit in church and say the proper words and do the expected things and call upon God when times are tough. But when times are better, we seem to forget our total dependence upon God.

We fall for the lie that we can do it ourselves. Hogwash! Without God we can do nothing!

There is a world of difference between the nominal Christian who thinks he loves God but doesn't rely on Him and the committed Christian who knows he is totally dependent upon God for every breath.

So which are you? Are you totally aware of your complete dependence upon God? Do you consult with Him many times a day? Are you satisfied with fifteen minutes of Bible reading each morning and grace before meals? How closely can you walk with God?

Father, God,

Help us to see that You are our all in all. Keep us close under Your guiding hand and draw us ever closer in our walk with You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

A Time to Flee

Focus verses: II Chronicles 11:13-17

After Solomon, we have two kings, Jeroboam and Rehoboam. And we have two kingdoms, Israel and Judah.

Jeroboam ruled over the northern kingdom of Israel, and Rehoboam ruled over Judah in the south. Rehoboam levied high taxes and made the burdens of the people harsher than had Solomon. But Jeroboam set up golden calves and false altars in the north to dissuade the people from coming to Jerusalem in the south to worship.

The Levites and all the faithful fled from Jeroboam and his false idols. They ran to Rehoboam even though he had levied harsh taxes and made the burdens of the people heavier than they had ever been.

The ability to worship God was more important than an easier life to them. Is the ability to worship God important to us? What have we sacrificed or done without to worship the Lord?

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.

Father, God,
Help us to remember You are first, always, in our lives. Grant us the wisdom to put everything into perspective in light of our commitment to You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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