“4 Questions to Ask When Faced with Decisions” July 2

 

4 Questions to Ask When Faced with Decisions -

When you are faced with decisions, try asking yourself these four questions to help gain insight?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 28 & 29
Psalm 78.67-72
Proverbs 20.6-7
Acts 10.24-48

 

4 Questions to Ask When Faced with Decisions

 

1 Chronicles 28 & 29:

Decisions, Decisions … 

 

Chapter 28.19, “‘All this,’ said David, ‘the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.'”

Did you notice what David said, “He made me understand in writing …” I’m an on-again off-again journaler, but I see tremendous value in keeping a spiritual journal. I’m not referring to a diary like we usually think of them and I’m not talking about a place to vent and, in effect, sin on paper. I’m talking about a place where we write out prayers, key verses or devotional thoughts and keep a record of our walk with God.

Another way to use a journal in conjunction with our devotional time is when seeking wisdom for a decision. Try writing out your questions and concerns and asking yourself four questions (these are adapted from The Heart of a Woman Who Prays: Drawing Near to the God Who Loves You by Elizabeth George):

Why would I do it?
Why would I not do it?
Why should I do it?
Why should I not do it?

The first two reveal our motives. For example, would I do it because someone else expects it or because of what people may think of me (fear of man, Prov. 29.25)? Would I not do it because of a fear of failure or a lack of trust in God?

The last two get to why God would have us do or not do something. For example, is there a commandment involved? Is God’s glory or my testimony at stake?

This can sometimes be a very helpful process, but we need to remember that something we write out, even in our quiet time, is not the same as God’s inspired Word in Scripture. It is, however, one way God can speak to our hearts and reveal His wisdom to us.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 78.67-72:

From Sheepfolds and Fishing Boats

 

Verses 70-71:

70 He also chose David His servant,
And took him from the sheepfolds;
71 From following the ewes that had young He brought him,
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.

This reminded me of what Jesus told two fishermen, Peter and Andrew, in Matthew 4.19, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” God takes who we are and uses it for His glory!  Continue reading

“Is Prayer Your Last Resort?” June 16

 

Is Prayer Your Last Resort? - Are you a person of prayer? Do you pray at the first sign of a problem? Or do you first exhaust all your other options? Is prayer only a last resort?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 19, 20 & 21
Psalm 74.9-17
Proverbs 19.1-2
Acts 2.1-21

 

Is Prayer Your Last Resort?

 

2 Kings 19, 20 & 21:

 

What a great example Hezekiah was of how to respond when the odds seem stacked against us. Chapter 19, verses 14-19:

14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said. “O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.

As I’ve mentioned before, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still rises up on behalf of His people. But too often instead of going first to the Lord in prayer, we exhaust all our own solutions and go to Him as a last resort! I know I’m guilty.

Notice, too, Hezekiah’s prayer wasn’t focused primarily on himself, or even the people. Instead, he prayed that God would answer, “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.”

When you pray is it all about you or is God’s glory the ultimate goal? I know I fall far short in this area.

While it’s not wrong to pray for relief from difficult circumstances, to be healed when we or our loved ones are sick, or for God to make it right when we’ve been wronged, we shouldn’t neglect to ask God to help us bring Him glory no matter what the outcome.

 

While it’s not wrong to pray for relief from difficult circumstances, to be healed when we or our loved ones are sick, or for God to make it right when we’ve been wronged, we shouldn’t neglect to ask God to help us bring Him glory no matter what the outcome. 

 

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

While Waiting on God

Psalm 74.9-17:

 

Waiting, Clock, Woman

Here the psalmist wonders aloud where God is and why He hasn’t answered. But he reminds himself of God’s mighty works in the past, as he continues to wait on Him.

Another great example for us of how to respond when God’s answer seems slow in coming. Instead of doubting His love and goodness, we should meditate on His attributes and allow the Word of God to strengthen our faith and trust in Him.


Avoiding Hasty Decisions

Proverbs 19.1-2:

 

Verse 2, “Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet.”

Fools make hasty decisions, while the wise man seeks information and understanding.  Continue reading

“5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ” May 23

 

5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ - During Jesus' earthly ministry there were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today. Where are you and what is your attitude toward Christ? Do you say you believe without putting "feet" to your faith? Do you believe He exists without trusting Him personally? Are you convinced He is who He said He was and live your live accordingly? Do questions about other religions or science confuse you? Or do you believe something else? Even as professing believers we can fall into some of these attitudes. We can trust God for our salvation, but be contrary about obedience in certain areas or refuse to trust the Bible wholeheartedly. Or we can be confused because He isn't working in our lives the way we want. We can believe He isn't answering our prayers. Could it be that we have a wrong understanding about God and how He works in our lives? I hope you'll read today's post and evaluate where you are.During Jesus’ earthly ministry there were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today.

Where are you and what is your attitude toward Christ? Do you say you believe without putting “feet” to your faith? Do you believe He exists without trusting Him personally? Are you convinced He is who He said He was and live your live accordingly? Do questions about other religions or science confuse you? Or do you believe something else?

Even as professing believers we can fall into some of these attitudes. We can trust God for our salvation, but be contrary about obedience in certain areas or refuse to trust the Bible wholeheartedly. Or we can be confused because He isn’t working in our lives the way we want. We can believe He isn’t answering our prayers. Could it be that we have a wrong understanding about God and how He works in our lives? I hope you’ll read today’s post and evaluate where you are.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 17 & 18
Psalm 66.16-20
Proverbs 16.31-32
John 7.28-53

 

5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ

 

John 7.28-53:

Where are you?

 

John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible that this passage “catalogues the different reactions of people to Jesus’ claims.” We still see the same categories today.

First, those who are “convinced” of the truthfulness of His claims—faithful believers.

Verses 40-41a, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.'”

Part of the meaning of the words “faith” and “faithful” includes the idea of “unquestioning belief or loyalty.” The convinced are loyal to Christ.

doubt questioningSecond, the “contrary,” those who find something wrong with everything.

Verses 41b-42, “But some said, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?'”

“Contrary” people are still around. “All the pastor wants is your money.” “Churches are full of hypocrites.” “The Bible was just written by a bunch of men.” And the list goes on.

Third, the “hostile,” we’ve all met them. They don’t just not believe or not agree with you, they are prepared to go on the attack where the things of God are concerned.

Verse 44, “Now some of them wanted to take Him …”

There is a move today in our country, and it’s growing stronger, to make speaking biblical truth a crime. There are those, for instance, who would love to see anyone who speaks out against homosexuality or abortion arrested for what they call hate crimes.

Fourth, are the “confused.”

Verses 45-46, “Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!'”

These men had been sent to arrest him, but when they went they didn’t know what to do because they saw something about him they didn’t understand. The Pharisees challenged them by saying, “Are you also deceived?”

Many people are confused today. They’ve seen just enough truth to think there might be something to it, but have not made the choice to believe. Often these people fear man more than God. They may be afraid to speak up or seek out the truth because of what people will think.

Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Or they’ve heard questions about other religions:

“Don’t all roads lead to God?”
“How could all those Muslims be wrong?”

Or tried to use human reasoning:

“How is it fair that an evil person could get saved on his deathbed?”
“How can the miracles in the Bible be true?”
“But science says …”
“Why would the Bible condemn someone who’s gay when they say they’re born that way?”

There is a fifth group, too, the “religious authorities,” we might call them the “religious establishment.” These people are often more concerned about maintaining their position and authority than in being a true follower of Christ or in seeking biblical truth. These people respond in the complete opposite way from John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3.30).

Many in the religious establishment today are busy trying to stay “relevant.” For years some have ignored the first few chapters of Genesis in favor of a more “enlightened, scientific” view of creation. Others have “evolved” in their views about homosexuality and other politically incorrect issues. Still others refuse to discuss these subjects at all, preferring to teach more palatable things, some lifted out of context like false advertising claims.

Sadly, they can have a profound effect on others. They may put pressure on friends and family members not to leave their religious “tradition,” even though their church has actually left them and biblical truth.  Continue reading

“Why do you follow Jesus?” May 19

 

Why Do You Follow Jesus? - Recently I heard of someone who said he was willing to come to church to "see what God has to offer him." That's understandable for an unbeliever who is just beginning to explore the claims of Christ. But sadly, many professing believers seem to follow Him for much the same reason.Recently I heard of someone who said he was willing to come to church to “see what God has to offer him.” That’s understandable for an unbeliever who is just beginning to explore the claims of Christ. But sadly, many professing believers seem to follow Him for much the same reason.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 9 & 10
Psalm 65.1-8
Proverbs 16.20-21
John 6.1-21

 

Why do you follow Jesus?

 

John 6.1-21:

What’s in it for Me?

 

Verse 2, “Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.”

They didn’t follow Him because they saw their need for spiritual change, but for what He could do for them. Sadly, that hasn’t changed for many people.

God does bless those who love Him, but that should never be our primary motive for serving Him. We are to live our lives to please God out of our desire to bring glory and honor to His name, not with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Samuel 9 & 10:

Don’t Be Unequally Yoked

 

Chapters 9 & 10 give us a glimpse of David’s heart—first as he showed kindness to Mephibosheth as a way of honoring his covenant with Jonathan and in chapter 10 as he sent representatives to comfort Hanun at the time of his father’s death.

Sadly, David’s gesture toward Hanun was not only rejected, but met with ridicule by Hanun when he shamed and humiliated David’s ambassadors. Should we be surprised when our gestures of peace and kindness are met with rejection? Those in the world often find it hard to believe we don’t have ulterior motives, because of what’s in their own hearts.  Continue reading

Journal Prompts for your Prayer or Scripture Journaling

 

Journal Prompts for your Prayer or Scripture JournalingIn his book How to Keep a Spiritual Journal, Ron Klug said:

“I consider the time spent writing in my journal as Sabbath time – a time of rest and solitude, a time to come apart to be with God and to reflect on his Word, to search for his will, and to record the insights I receive. My journal has been the channel of many blessings” (p.17).

 

Journal Prompts for your Prayer or Scripture Journaling

 

Throughout the centuries, some of the greatest men and women of God have kept journals. But journaling isn’t just for spiritual giants. It’s for you and me.

If you find it hard to concentrate in your quiet time, a journal can help you focus on God and His Word.

Recording Scripture in a journal can help you remember and meditate on God’s promises.

If you have a desire to leave a record of your spiritual journey for your children or others, a journal is a great place to do so.

A journal can be a great place to capture ideas and pray for God’s timing and will.

It’s, also, a good place to record prayer lists, concerns and answers.

 

So What About You …

 

Do you keep a spiritual journal? Maybe you call it something else: a prayer journal, a Bible study notebook, or a Scripture journal.

Maybe you’ve thought about keeping a journal. You hear other people talk about it, but you think it would take too much time.

Maybe you hated writing in school and you can’t believe you’re even thinking about writing in a journal.

But a journal can be anything you want it to be. It can be handwritten or in an electronic format. Computers and tablets have dozens of apps and programs to fit every personality.

You can write a paragraph or a page, record a verse or a passage of Scripture, a prayer need or a prayer list. You can write everyday or only occasionally.

 

Here are Some Prompts to Try Out as You Journal or Experiment with Journal Keeping:

 

Start with the simple word “Yesterday …” then record the events of the day. At times this may lead into prayer for people or situations.

Continue reading

“The Christian Two-Step” May 12

 

Christian Two-Step - The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 26 & 27
Psalm 60.6-12
Proverbs 16.4-5
John 2.1-25

 

The Christian Two-Step

 

1 Samuel 26 & 27:

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

 

In yesterday’s reading, Saul was repentant and had given up trying to kill David. But now in chapter 26 he’s at it again. David, on the other hand, in spite of God’s continuing faithfulness, started to believe the worse. Instead of being encouraged, he decided that sooner or later Saul will probably kill him. So he resorts to his own foolish solution, going into enemy territory where he knows Saul won’t go. But as the story unfolds we’ll see that this only leads to more problems. One step forward, two steps back.

Have you ever felt like that’s the story of your life? I know I have. We may know intellectually that God’s way is the right way, but when it goes against our feelings, feelings often win out. We could call it the Christian two-step!

We know Matthew 5.23-24 says we aren’t to hypocritically worship God, while we ignore unresolved issues with family and our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. But instead of seeking reconciliation, we avoid people, move to a different church, gossip, or pretend things are fine.

We know we’re playing with fire when we flirt with a co-worker or scan the internet for that old “friend,” but we’re so tired of feeling unappreciated and it seems so harmless, and besides, we think, “I can handle it!”

We’re heard our share of teaching about confronting a sinning brother or sister, but it’s just too hard! And besides, “Who am I to judge?”

We hear a good sermon on discipleship or prayer or growing in the Word and we decide, “I’m going to read my Bible more,” or “I’m going to spend more time praying,” or “I’m going to finish that Bible study I started.” Then the alarm goes off and another 30 minutes of sleep wins out.

One-step forward, two steps back.

 

Dancing to a New Beat

 

Like David, when the struggles keep coming or when we think we’ve failed God again, we’re often tempted to give up and think things will never change or we’re never going to get it.

But it doesn’t matter how many times we have fallen or how difficult the circumstances, Continue reading

“When You Let God Down” May 4

 

When You Let God Down - The Disciples still didn't get it! While Jesus was preparing Himself for the reality of the cross they were squabbling about their future positions in the kingdom, bragging about how they would never let Him down, and sleeping when He asked them to pray. Do you ever feel like you have let God down? You promised to never again fall into some old habit. You promised you'd be faithful to the end. Instead, you found yourself arguing with your husband, yelling at your kids, missing your quiet time, and giving up in discouragement.The Disciples still didn’t get it! While Jesus was preparing Himself for the reality of the cross they were squabbling about their future positions in the kingdom, bragging about how they would never let Him down, and sleeping when He asked them to pray.

Do you ever feel like you have let God down? You promised to never again fall into some old habit. You promised you’d be faithful to the end. Instead, you found yourself arguing with your husband, yelling at your kids, missing your quiet time, and giving up in discouragement.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 10 & 11
Psalm 55.16-23
Proverbs 15.18-20
Luke 22.24-46

 

When You Let God Down

 

Luke 22.24-46:

Squabbling, Bragging, & Sleeping

 

Do you ever feel you’ve messed up too badly for God to use you? Maybe it’s your “before Christ” past that haunts you. Maybe it’s something you did as a Christian. Sometimes it’s easier to accept God’s grace for those B.C. (before Christ) sins than those we commit as believers.

Here in Luke 22 as the events leading up to the crucifixion unfold, Jesus spends His last hours with His disciples. He has spent three years teaching and preparing them.

Yet now, with the reality of the cross looming, they were squabbling over their future positions in the kingdom (v. 24), bragging about how they would never let Him down (v. 33) and falling asleep when He asked them to pray (vv. 45-46). But just as He does with us when we fail, He lovingly corrected them, warned them of the dangers to come, and prayed for them that ultimately they would come out the other side.

 

Do you feel like you have let Him down? Run to Him not away from Him. Pray and ask for His forgiveness. Remember that He is praying for you and receive His forgiveness and help to change. It is for this that Christ died!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

1 Samuel 10 & 11:

By the Way … Bless Me!

 

prayer womanNow Israel has her king and God has confirmed His choice through military victory, but that doesn’t mean it was God’s best for the nation. I believe there are times when God allows political events to bring about His holy, just and righteous purposes. Often, if not always, those purposes include revealing the hearts of the people involved. The Israelites wanted to be like all the other nations. They didn’t want God to be their King. Instead, they wanted Him to bless their choice to live like everyone else.

How like us they were! Too often, instead of seeking God’s will in a given situation through prayer and wise counsel, we make our own choices and then, almost as an afterthought, we ask Him to bless our decision. I wonder how different things would be if we got on His agenda, instead of always expecting Him to come bless ours! Continue reading

“Responding to Persecution, Criticism & Rejection” May 1

 

How to Respond to PersecutionPersecution, mistreatment, and rejection will come.

Sometimes it comes, not in ways that threaten our lives, but from our own family members and friends. It hurts to be left out of family events or called self-righteous.

Yes … persecution and mistreatment will come. How can we be sure that God will give us the grace, ability and right words to say when we’re faced with it?

First, we shouldn’t be surprised by it! Instead, let’s see it as an occasion for sharing our testimonies and the truth about God. Let’s see it as an opportunity to walk in love and leave justice in the hands of God.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 4 & 5
Psalm 54.1-7
Proverbs 15.12-13
Luke 21.1-19

 

Responding to Persecution, Criticism & Mistreatment

 

1 Samuel 4 & 5:

God is Always at Work

 

Here we have another sad time in Israel’s history where God withdrew His immediate presence and protection from them because of their willful disobedience and idolatry. But this narrative leaves no doubt that even when people may not make the connection, God is always at work in the affairs of men.

That is true today, as well as, in Old Testament times. I once read that the word “history” actually means “His-story” and I certainly believe that’s true. So the question is, “What is God doing today?” How does everything that’s happening in our world—whether politics, wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other world events, play into His plan and purpose?

He is there in the blessing and protection, but also in the withdrawing of blessing and protection.

That leads right into our Luke passage, so we’ll go there next.

 

Luke 21.1-19:

He Is Coming

 

pointing to heaven

 

This portion of Scripture, like Matthew 24, Mark 13 and other passages, talks about many of the events that point to Christ’s eminent return. Many of these things appear to be happening today, pointing to the possibility that He’ll be coming back soon. So,  what can we expect and what did Jesus say we should be doing if that’s true?

 

 

A Time of Testing & Persecution

 

Verses 12-13, “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, … But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.”

We should expect to be persecuted, do not be surprised by it! Instead of being upset or complaining, we should see it as an occasion for sharing our testimony and the truth about God.

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1 Pet. 3.13-16).

If that sounds scary and you think, “I don’t know enough” or “I might mess it up,” remember verses 14 and 15:

“Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.”

That should be comforting and extremely encouraging.

Expect opposition even from your own family:  Continue reading

“How God Uses Imperfect People” April 25

 

How God Uses Imperfect People - Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? Sampson with his pride and womanizing? Do you ever wonder if He could possibly use you?Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? Sampson with his pride and womanizing? Do you ever wonder if He could possibly use you?

Also:

How do you respond when you’re confronted with sin in your life? Are you defensive or do you humbly admit and confess as David did in Psalm 51?

What are you doing to be prepared to help the poor? Are you a wise steward or do you spend every penny you get, making it impossible for you to meet a need when you see one? Are you prepared to share the gospel with unbelievers or do you avoid it because of indifference or a lack of preparation?

Are you persistent in prayer? Do you trust God and wait on His timing? Or do you quickly give up?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 15 & 16
Psalm 51.1-6
Proverbs 14.31-32
Luke 18.1-23

 

How Uses Imperfect People

 

Judges 15 & 16:

Sampson, Judge of Israel & Womanizer

 

Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? The list is much longer than the who’s who in Hebrews 11.

Here in Judges 13-16 we have Sampson’s story. Talk about using imperfect people! That He could use Sampson with his pride and womanizing!

As we come to the end of his story, Sampson has been judging Israel for 20 years. And nothing much has changed. When he goes to visit a harlot in Gaza (v. 1), the Gazites lay a trap for him, but God delivers him, in spite of his sin and rebellion.

Next the text says, “he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” You have to wonder if this had anything to do with love, more likely, lust.

And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.”

You might think Sampson would see that request as a red flag concerning her character, but she probably wasn’t much different from many others who had attracted his attention. Instead, he made up an answer to appease her.

And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them. Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with.”

Another red flag. And another lie. And another.

15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.16 And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, 17 that he told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

Not only did he take her questions lightly, but now he presumed on God’s grace.

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.” So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. 19 Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

21 Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.

Later, during a religious festival honoring their god, “when their hearts were merry, that they said, ‘Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.'”

Through the years Sampson had used the strength God had given him for his own selfish purposes, lived immorally, and taken lightly the things of God. Now it had cost him his eyes, his freedom and turned him into a cheap carnival act. Such is the deceitfulness of sin. It never delivers what it promises!

But God was at work, in spite of him, and his hair, the symbol of his strength, had been growing.

26 Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.” 27 Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there—about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed.

28 Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. 30 Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.

Remember God’s purpose in all of this was that Sampson would “begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13.5). And even in his death, God accomplished that purpose.

In the process, God blessed Manoah and his wife with the child they desired and other children, as well (v. 16.31). Although, it must have been a great grief to them to see this son with so much potential waste his gifts and talents as he did. Could it have been a consequence of coddling and catering to him in his youth (see yesterday’s reading)?

Even so, Sampson, like all of us, was responsible for his own personal choices. It seems to me that he was the one who found the least satisfaction in all of this. In the area of his personal relationships, he continually ran after whatever appealed to him. His motives were selfish and he sought to fulfill them in ungodly ways. Consequently, they never brought him any lasting joy, peace or satisfaction.

Talk about using imperfect people!

 

But What About Us?

 

Romans 15.4 tells us that:

“… whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

What in Sampson’s story can we apply to our lives? Certainly, it should give us hope that God can and will use us. But could we be wasting God’s good gifts, getting involved in relationships God can’t bless, or seeking satisfaction in things other than God Himself? Let’s pray that we learn from his example and repent of those tendencies.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 51.1-6:

David’s Psalm of Repentance

 

prayer repentance

What a great psalm to go to when we realize we have sinned and fallen short of God’s best in our lives! If that is you, you might want to pray this psalm as a prayer. It begins:

¹ Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

 

Proverbs 14.31-32:

The Poor and the Poor in Spirit

 

Verse 31, “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.”

As believers we should have mercy on the poor, but not just the poor physically, also those who are poor spiritually. By learning to share the gospel we can offer that which is the most valuable of all—that is, spiritual riches.

 

Luke 18.1-23:

Persistence in Prayer

 

prayer

Verse 1 is one of my favorites:

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

The parable that follows can be a great encouragement to stay faithful in prayer. God is not saying He is like the unjust judge, but contrasting the two by saying, if even an unjust judge will finally give in and respond to constant requests, how much more will God who is perfect respond to us when we are faithful to pray and wait on Him.

 

What about you?

How do you respond when you are confronted with sin in your life? Are you defensive or do you humbly admit and confess as David did in Psalm 51?

What are you doing to be prepared to help the poor? Are you a wise steward or do you spend every penny you get, making it impossible for you to meet a need when you see one? Are you prepared to share the gospel with unbelievers or do you avoid it because of indifference or a lack of preparation?

Are you persistent in prayer? Do you trust God and wait on His timing? Or do you quickly give up? Are you tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness?

What did you take away from Sampson’s story?

Have a blessed day,
Donna

 


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“Are you bored with God’s Word?” April 20

 

bored Are you bored with God’s Word? Do you allow God’s Word and God’s wisdom to affect your heart intensely or is it too often “Ho, Hum, I’ve heard that before”? Sometimes our familiarity with the Word or with certain passages can keep us from benefiting from our Bible reading. Are there some simple steps to assure we “listen” to God’s voice more attentively?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 5 & 6
Psalm 49.1
Proverbs 14.20-21
Luke 15.1-10

 

Are you bored with God’s Word?

 

Judges 5 & 6:

A Familiar Story

 

Probably one of the most familiar stories in Judges is the story of Gideon. Those of you who were brought up in Sunday school have probably heard the story many times.

But God doesn’t want us to come to His Word, going “ho-hum, heard that one before.” His Word is “quick” as the old King James Version says. That means it’s “alive.” Think of the “quick” under your fingernails—very much “alive,” as you know, if you’ve ever gotten a splinter under there!

We should come to our Bible reading expecting God to speak to us in a fresh way. It’s not that we’re free to put our own spin on God’s Word, but there is so much in every passage that we couldn’t mine it all in a lifetime.

Remember our questions from yesterday and how we can use them to dialog with the Lord. What are You trying to tell me through this passage? Is there a promise here I can claim? Is there a command I should obey? Is there a principle I need to put to work in my life? Is there an example I should follow? And I would add, has my familiarity with this passage caused me to miss something you want me to see?

So what can we learn from this familiar story?  Continue reading