July 22-28 The Lord Protects His People

July 22 – (Neh. 1-3)  The theme of Nehemiah is the Lord’s protection of His people and their need to be faithful in worship and in keeping the Mosaic law. During this week you will see six more specific themes in capital letters. These themes have not changed to this day! 1.THE LORD HEARS PRAYER (1:4-6). 2.THE LORD WORKS PROVIDENTIALLY, ESPECIALLY THROUGH POWERFUL RULERS, TO BRING ABOUT HIS GREATER PURPOSES (ex. 2:8)

            Name the two men who were not happy about the walls being rebuilt (2:10).  Can that relate to the rebuilding (renewing) of our mind, will, and emotions?

            It’s very interesting to me that not only did they rebuild the walls but had to protect and defend what they were rebuilding even as they were rebuilding it (chapters 3-4).  As you allow the Lord to renew your mind to line up with His Truth, are there folks around you who do not want you to change?  Does it make them uncomfortable? I recently reread a book called “Boundaries” by Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud.  It is helping me to “guard” the wall while it is being “rebuilt” by the Holy Spirit. 


July 23 – (Neh. 4—6) 3.THE LORD PROTECTS HIS PEOPLE. BECAUSE OF THIS, THEY NEED NOT BE AFRAID (4:14). How many times did Tobiah and Sanballat try to pull Nehemiah away from his work?  The worst way, I thought, was by paying Nehemiah’s prophets to prophesy fear.  Thank God Nehemiah saw it for what it was.  It reminds me to continually ask God to see all situations with God’s eyes and not just take things at face value.  


July 24 – (Neh. 7) “Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy (v.5).  What has God put in your heart to do… to be…to say?  Several weeks ago (6/30), Pastor Jeremy spoke on worship in the world. You can listen to the podcast on our website.  He encouraged us to begin each day with this prayer, expecting Jesus to answer:

            “Good morning Jesus, Thank you for creating this day.  Thank you for filling it with ways I can express your goodness in what I am about to do. I choose right now to make your glory the reason for everything I do today.  Grant me the grace to see how you can be revealed in all my activity today. Thank you for choosing to love me. Empower me to spread that love to anyone you put in my path today. Here we go!  Amen” 


July 25 – (Neh. 8-9) 4.THE LORD IS MERCIFUL AND FAITHFUL TO HIS PROMISES DESPITE HIS PEOPLE’S ONGOING SIN (9:32-35).

            What was that first service like after the Israelites completed the walls (8:1-11)?  How was it different from Christian Assembly worship?  Is there only one perfect format of worship?  Sometimes we think a specific format of worship is “God’s chosen plan” for everyone when it really is just the format where we as individuals feel most connected to God.  God is so creative.  Let’s give room for all His ways, knowing that others enter into worship in their way.  

            Nehemiah and Ezra assembled the people in Jerusalem to hear the Laws of Moses.  Many of them wept when they heard the Laws of Moses.  What were the specific Laws of Moses?  Were they just the 10 Commandments?  As they were explained, the people wept.  The 10 Commandments show us sin.  Sin brings death.  The people realized once again what their disobedience caused.  They wept. 

What did Nehemiah and Ezra tell the mourners to do (8:9-12)?  Doesn’t 8:10-11 remind you of Thanksgiving and Christmas?   What does the Feast of Tabernacles represent (8:13-18)?

            What a range of emotions.  We see the Israelites hearing the Law and weeping. They are then instructed to celebrate (for that day was holy).  Then they were to build tents from tree branches (booths) and live in those and hear the Book of the Law of God and rejoice.  Next, we see them in sack cloth and ashes as they separate themselves from all foreigners and confess their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.  We will need to leave it there until tomorrow!  I picture in my mind a “season finale” on T.V.  It’s a bit of a cliff hanger as you see the people in sack cloth on one side and their foreign wives and children on another side being separated from them.  I can see and feel what their disobedience has led them to.  We do the same thing with worldly/fleshly sins.  Selah 


July 26 – (Neh. 10-11) 5. WORSHIP IS AT THE CENTER OF THE LIFE OF GOD’S PEOPLE. IT INCLUDES THE WILLING, JOYFUL GIVING OF RESOURCES (10:32-39).

            People agreed to move to Jerusalem just to inhabit the place where God’s presence would reside.  What do we do so His presence resides in us?  Selah 


July 27 – (Neh. 12-13) 6.GOD’S PEOPLE NEED TO BE ON THEIR GUARD AGAINST THEIR OWN MORAL WEAKNESS (Ch. 13).

            Two large thanksgiving choirs were placed on the walls of Jerusalem.  Can you picture that?  What a glorious celebration of God’s mighty love and power must have risen from those mouths!  I wonder if it was just a “drop in the bucket” but exemplary of the worship around the throne in heaven!   Selah!

            Why was it written in the law that the Ammonites and Moabites could not go into the Assembly of God (Ne. 13:1-3; Jdg. 11:17; Deut. 23:3-6; Nu. 22-24; Josh. 24:9)?  Do you remember reading about that during the Israelites journey to Canaan?  It reminds me that I should always be kind to strangers. You never know when you are “entertaining angels” (or God’s chosen)!

            Now that the walls are up and consecrated, is Sanballat and Tobiah done making trouble (13:4-13)?  Reminder: Always watch and pray for attacks by self, by others, and by oppression.  The enemy can still sneak in just following a major victory when we have relaxed our focus on God when the pressure has been reduced. 

            Nehemiah needed to report back to Babylon.  While he was gone, did the people live so that they were not cursed (13:14-31)? 


July 28 – (Est. 1-4) What was Esther’s father’s name (2:15)?  What was her original name (2:7)?  How did these Benjamites come to be in Shushan (or Susa) (2:2:5-6)?  Do you remember that the tribe of Benjamin was a bunch of fighters?  When Israel was conquering Canaan, they would get offended if some other tribe went to war without them.  This does not seem to be Mordecai’s temperament however. He seemed to be more diplomatic in a good way.  Even though his great grandfather had been taken captive to this foreign place, he had developed a respect (?) for those over him.  We spend a lot of time studying Esther and what God would teach us about her but let’s spend a little time considering what Mordecai’s life can teach us about God. 

            Mordecai did not divulge his “God” until he was challenged to bow to another god (Haman).  I think it’s interesting that Haman didn’t want just Mordecai destroyed but – “the people of Mordecai” (3:6).  It sounds like Haman was thinking Mordecai had power over the Jews.

            What was a “lot” cast for (3:7)? Was that just to obtain access to the king?  Mordecai, upon hearing the decree tore his clothes and put on sack cloth and ashes.  He couldn’t go any farther than the king’s gate in that attire and refused Esther’s clothes.  That meant he didn’t run to the queen … yet.  When Esther found out from her maids, she sent Hathach (a eunuch assigned to her) to talk to Mordecai.  Then a course is set under God’s direction by both of them. How did Mordecai show his faith in God with his reply to Esther (2:10, 20; 4:12-16)? 4:14 is one of my favorite encouraging verses.  I tend to look for God to put us all in places that will show His Glory.  I believe God created each of us and allows specific times and places for “such a time as this”.  It can become a big adventure to see and realize all those little and mighty moments when we are used to show His glory.   

July 15-21 Do You Feel Convicted Or Condemned?

July 15 – (2 Chron. 26-28) God promised Jehu that four generations would sit on the throne (I Ki. 10:29-31).  Why did He make that promise?  Did God keep His promise?  What were the four descendant’s’ names?

            It seems since Judah split from Israel (way back after King Solomon’s reign) that Israel seemed to be more idolatrous than Judah.  It was mostly because each king would do evil in God’s sight. Ahab and Jezebel influenced most of the kings of Israel to follow other gods.  Now though, Syria and Israel have overcome Judah.  Again, it’s because the king has chosen to lead his people in worshiping other gods. What was the name of this king of Judah (28:1-5)? What did he do wrong?

            Did you realize that Azariah (2 Kgs. 15) is called Uzziah in 2 Ch.?  We see here in 2 Chron. why Azariah (Uzziah) became leprous.  We need to be careful in God’s presence!

 


July 16 – (2 Chron. 29-30) As disobedient as Ahaz was, his son, Hezekiah was very obedient to the Lord. King Hezekiah prospered.  What were some reasons for that?  Whenever I know a new king is coming on the scene, I look at how long he reigns and can make a good guess whether or not “he did what was right in the sight of the Lord.”  King Hezekiah did “good” and reigned long (29:1-2).

King Hezekiah called the people back to follow the God of Israel (chapter 30).  He sent messengers throughout all the land to come and observe the Passover to the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem.  Some from Israel laughed at him but some came. Judah was united in one purpose to worship God.  It was an extended time of fellowship and worship to God unlike anything since Solomon’s reign. In 2013, I remember a service similar to this description. We came together in unity with one another and for the Lord. People with needs were at the altar.  Pastor Torry asked others to come and partner with them and promise to pray for them for at least two weeks.  We still need each other in very real ways!  We have a choice whether to obey God and come together in unity at least once a week or be diminished if we choose not to.  Selah      


July 17 (2 Chron. 31-33) 2 Chronicles 32 really is an enjoyable chapter to read. It is overflowing with things to ponder and glory in God’s power, love, protection, and discipline!  How did the king of Assyria try to defeat the people of Jerusalem?  Do “words spoken” defeat us or lift us up?  How did Hezekiah find victory?  It reminds me of another passage… “Life and death is in the tongue (Pro. 18:21).” Selah 


July 18 – (2 Chron. 34-36) After King Josiah heard the book of the law found in the temple; he tore his clothes and sought the Lord.  To whom did he send the scribes to hear from the Lord (34: 14-22)?  What was the profession of her family?  How interesting.  God spoke through all kinds of people in every station of life, just like He does in EACH of us today.  Are we telling others what we hear from the Lord?  Selah

Josiah kept the Passover. It says, “There was no Passover kept like that since the days of Samuel the prophet.”  If you dare, go back over all the kings and imagine what the people under those kings missed out on.  What are we missing out on today because we aren’t “remembering” what God has done for us? Hmm

            Though the Jeremiah, spoken of here (35:25), most likely was the prophet (Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah), we recognize during this period, there was another Jeremiah that was close to Josiah.  The father-in-law of Josiah was also named Jeremiah.  This Jeremiah had a daughter (Hamutal) who married Josiah and then had Jehoahaz who became king after Josiah died.   


July 19 – (Ezra 1-3) Let’s get an over view of Ezra. First of all, this book never declares its author, but many scholars believe the same author wrote Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1-2 Chronicles. The events narrated in Ezra-Nehemiah occur over a century leading almost to the 400 years’ silence before Jesus came to earth. Remember that the books of the Bible are not in chronological order. While we have read the Bible in the past, as the events happened, this year we are working through cover to cover. 😊

            As the people return from exile in Babylon to the Promised Land, they are under threat from the non-Jews living there.  Having been driven from the land previously because of their sin, they also need to learn once again how to live in a covenant with God.  The land must be restored through the physical presence of God’s people, and the people must revive a spiritual commitment to serve God alone.  As the temple is rebuilt, and more exiles come back to the land, the people start to reestablish the nation that God had promised Abraham. As the priests return and begin to teach the people how to love God and live according to His ways, the people recommit themselves to the Lord.

The book of Ezra encourages this returning community toward pure worship and holy behavior. This book also rejoices in God’s provision in returning them to the land, rebuilding the temple, and calling His people back to Himself.  It also warns against falling away again through sin and against serving other gods. The remnant of Israel should persevere in hope, repent in humility, and live in obedience. It sounds like this book is again a reminder to us today how we should live.  Let’s read it as such. 😊 


July 20 – (Ezra 4-7) The temple is being rebuilt!  What did the priests and Levites do during this time (6:10)?   6:12-13 shows us the difference between the older folks who enjoyed worshiping in the original temple and then seeing it destroyed and the younger ones who are experiencing (probably for the first time) a place to worship where the presence of God dwells.  Think about the “church” today.  Do we see these attitudes as well?  This is a big “ponderable”!  


July 21 – (Ezra 8-10) God, in His grace has returned a remnant to Jerusalem… to be home. 70 years of being away in captivity because of their disobedience.  Now they are back and have offered burnt offerings and are ready to settle in.  Ezra is told something about the people that caused him to tear his robe and pull his hair out.  What did they do now?  What did God require of the people, especially the leaders?  What did He require of Ezra to lead them in? 

            In our world culture this is totally unheard of. Doesn’t the Bible say, “Do not be unequally yoked”?  I know everyone’s case is different.  I did not quote that to cause condemnation (which is not from God so just reject that feeling!).  Does that prevent you as a Christian to enter heaven?  Of course not!  Will you struggle more in living in the freedom of Christ? Probably….  Remember: “There is therefore NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Rom.8:1, 2). In fact if you are struggling with feeling condemned about anything, you may want to spend some time studying and memorizing all of Romans 8.  I know I am. J  I am learning to recognize the difference between conviction (the Holy Spirit showing you areas He wants to heal and restore to “the image of Christ”.  The action was wrong and needs repentance, but it does not touch who you are in Christ) and condemnation (the enemy causes you to feel you are a bad person because of a thought, word or action.  He attacks your self-worth in Christ).  Let me repeat this in a little different way (I am still working on renewing my mind in this area.).

Who I am – condemnation attacks who God made us to be (I am the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus! No one can change that from God’s perspective. Condemnation makes me feel God’s view has changed.)

What I did – guilt-conviction shows us what actions were wrong. (Our position as righteous before God has not lessened!  He wants to renew our mind (cast down / repent of wrong thinking and begin thinking His Truth in that area!) 

July 8-14 Our Body - For God's Glory And Residence

July 8 – (2 Chron. 1-4) God gave Solomon wisdom and knowledge and riches and wealth and honor because Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge.  Then I read 2 Ch.2:11. Do you think this was why God gave him so much?  Love is the greatest thing we can have in all of our relationships.  If all we do, think, and act on is out of His love, we will have the greatest success in glorifying God. 


July 9 – (2 Chron. 5-7) As I’m reading this passage, I see Pastor Torry’s notes in the margin of my Bible and I pause to consider what is he noted.  There seemed to be three prerequisites to the Lord’s glory filling the temple: 1.  All the people had to prepare for it.  2.  There had to be unity of purpose.  3. Worship needed to precede the filling.  See if you can see that, in these specific verses.  How can “we” create an atmosphere for further God’s glory to come to our assembly?  Selah!

Did you notice several times in Solomon’s prayer that he gave himself credit for building the temple?  Was that out of pride or humility?  Are we to judge the motivations of a man’s heart?  Who can really know a man’s motivations?  Only God can truly judge our motivations.  It is not ours to judge.  Let me know what you think! 


July 10 – (2 Chron. 8-11) Solomon did some wonderful things.  9:22 says “King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.”  Yet God took away ten tribes because King Solomon went after other gods.  We have to be very careful to give God glory for all the blessings He bestows on us and not get lax and worship other gods or idols for any reason whether in need or abundance. 


July 11 – (2 Chron. 12-15) King Rehoboam showed wisdom after Israel and Judah split.  He sought to honor God as his father and grandfather had done.  But after becoming well established, Rehoboam stopped depending on God.  God used the ambitious king of Egypt to cause Rehoboam to look to God again.  But the consequences of Rehoboam’s decisions still followed him and affected the whole nation.  How does that speak to your life today?  


July 12 – (2 Chron. 16-19) In the 20th year of Jeroboam’s reign of Israel, Asa became king over Judah.  As you read about king Asa, did you rejoice in the fact that finally there was a king who followed God?  God rewarded him with wealth, advice, and a peaceful kingdom as long as he relied on the Lord.  But alas, Asa started looking to man for answers.  We need to look to God first in the hard times.  More important still, is to look to God in the easy times (and not begin to think it’s “us” making it easy. How foolish we are when we think the good times are of our own making! 


July 13 – (2 Chron. 20-22) Now the women are getting involved in destroying the family, so they can rule.  Athaliah (mother of Ahaziah, king of Judah) destroyed all the royal heirs when she saw that her son was dead.  She ruled for 6 years.  She missed one heir (Joash) which the Lord protected.  Jehoiada, the priest, had guards protect Joash until he could be proclaimed king.  It reminds me yet again that God’s plan will always work. It is in His timing and in His way. Selah 


July 14 – (2 Chron. 23-25) You remember that Johoiada was the priest who helped young Joash be a good king.  Then as Joash got older in his reign, he forsook Jehoiada’s advice.  Jehoiada’s son (Zechariah) then prophesied against him and Joash had Zechariah killed.  So sad!   The book of Joel will now be a lamentation of what the evil in Israel and Judah has brought on its inhabitants. 

July 1-7 Are You Singing YOUR Song To The Lord?

July 1 – (1 Chron. 11-12) Of what tribe were the ambidextrous mighty men (12:1-2)?  What tribe were the mighty men of valor who were trained for battle with a shield and spear (12.8-15)?  When you add up all those who came to be in David’s army, how many do you get?    How did they get food? 


July 2 – (1 Chron. 13-15) David is trying to bring the ark back but someone dies.  What was done wrong? If you look at Num. 4:15, you’ll see that God already told the Israelites what would happen if someone touched the ark!

            What happened to the family of Obed-Edom who housed the ark for 3 months while David figured out what to do?  I’m thinking they did NOT touch the ark while it was there!!!           


July 3 - (1 Chron. 16-17) You will see that David is setting people in place for worship that God had chosen.  Several of these names will show up as singers and authors of some of the Psalms! Can you find them?  As you read David’s Psalm of thanksgiving, read it aloud to Him for your own life!

After the ark came back to rest in Jerusalem, they worshiped God.  What three things did David give each person (16:3)?  We know that Obed-Edom housed the ark for three months and was blessed by God, but he and his relatives got a new job after that, what was it (16:38)?

David wanted to build a temple for God.  What prophet did he speak with to decide whether or not the Lord wanted it?  Can you imagine having to seek a person every time you wanted to communicate with God?  Aren’t you glad you’re on this side of Calvary? I think it’s interesting that Nathan the prophet told David to go ahead with his plans to build a tabernacle for God.  Then God spoke to Nathan and told him David would not build it but one of his sons would.  This reminds me that sometimes what we think is God’s direction for something may need to be adjusted as we listen to Him.  It takes a humble heart to redirect our thinking.  


July 4 – (1 Chron. 18-21) David goes on to defeat the Ammonite and Syrians.  As I read the accounts, it amazes me how it is done differently each time.  It reminds me that God is so creative in solving problems.  We should not get stuck expecting Him to work the same way He did the last time we cried out to Him to save us from something we got ourselves into! 


July 5 – (1 Chron. 22-24) As I’m reading about the genealogy of the Levites and what each assigned task was, I think about the body of Christ today.  Could we write down a genealogy of what each of our family’s duties (or gifts) are to the Lord?  We all now have access into the Holy of Holies (the presence of the Lord) because Jesus’ victory over sin.  Therefore, we each have a duty (or gift) to offer Him.   What is your gift or gifts?  Are you consistently offering it to Him for His glory?  Selah

            David divided the priests by the sons of Levi (Gershon, Kohath, and Merari).  Which family was Moses and Aaron from (23:12-15)? 


July 6 – (1 Chron. 25-26) In chapter 25, we see David organizing the musicians.  David and the Levite leaders divided the musicians into the three family groups (see 6:31-47).  It says these musicians prophesied with musical instruments.  That is, they wrote songs, as guided by the Spirit of God.  In some cases, their songs seem to have become part of OT scripture.  Asaph is named in the titles of Ps. 50, and 73-83, and Jeduthun in the titles of Ps. 39, 62, and 77.  Heman here may be the same person as Heman the Ezrahite named in the title of Ps. 88 (also see 1 Chron. 6:33). Musicians are so very “instrumental” in leading worship. It is still true today. Selah 


July 7 – (1 Chron. 27-29) David gave his son Solomon some serious advice (28:9-10). We would do well to heed it as well.  He then follows with equally serious encouragement (28:20). Let me encourage you with David’s words: “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.”  Make these verses your “meditation” throughout the day. I really needed to hear these words today.  It’s amazing to me that this was written thousands of years ago and yet God speaks to me and encourages me today.  He is so awesome! 

June 24-30 All Victories Come From Him

 June 24 – (2 Kgs. 20-22) King Hezekiah was a pretty good king.  He produced an environment to worship only God. However, near the end of his reign, he let pride get in the way. We get in a tough spot and then rely on the Lord to get us through (this is good). The problem comes when He brings us victoriously through the tough spot, and we begin to think we did it on our own strength. “Lord, help us to know all victories are because of your mercy, grace, comfort, provision…!”  I think you get my point!

Now his son, Manasseh reigns.  Did he follow in his father’s footsteps?  How did God get his attention?  Did Manasseh change his ways?  What does God do to get our attention today?

As I was reading these chapters, I came upon a description of Josiah. It said Josiah was more faithful to the Lord than even David and Hezekiah.  Why, then, is he not talked about as much as David? Could it be we want sensational stories to keep our attention? Just ponder that today.  😊           


June 25 – (2 Kgs. 23-25) Compare the account of Josiah’s death in two passages (2 Kgs. 23:29-30; 2 Ch.35:20-24).  It shows the same story but with different aspects emphasized.  Is that how we tell His Story?  Do I tell it with a different emphasis than you because it’s that aspect that is more real to me and my view might just be what the Holy Spirit will use for the person I’m sharing with!  We thank God we are all different! 


June 26 – (1 Chron. 1-2) Let’s get an overview before we start First and Second Chronicles. Judah and Benjamin, the only surviving tribes of Israel, had returned to the land after the Babylonian exile. They had rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. But in many ways, it seemed like they were still in exile (see Ezra 9:6-15; Neh. 9:32-36). There were questions about Israel’s place in God’s purposes and the meaning of His ancient promises to David.  With such questions in mind, the Chronicler wrote his books to promote spiritual and social renewal. He presented an interpretation of Israel’s past, drawing mainly on the books of Samuel and Kings. He showed how the nation’s unfaithfulness to God had led to disaster but also how its faithful kings and people had experienced God’s blessing.

            Sometimes we need to review where God has taken us…where He has shown Himself as our Redeemer, Comforter, Peace, Healer, Provider… to remember God is always with us, always for us, to bring us to Him. Selah 


June 27 – (1 Chron. 3-4) Chapter 4 contains the prayer of Jabez.  “Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” God granted what he asked.  I am guessing that Jabez had to hear how God directed him and obey His commands for that to happen. It was not a magic wand. It also included choices. Selah 


June 28 – (1 Chron. 5-6) It’s important to take note of the switch here from the first born losing his birthright.  Who was the first born?  Who received the birthright and why?  Who prevailed over all the brothers and from him came a ruler?

As you read about these three tribes (5:23-26), remember that they were the three that wanted to stay on the east side of the Jordan and did not want to “enter” Canaan to live.  God allowed it, but it looks like they were the first to go into captivity because of their sin of worshiping the idols found in their land.  Lesson:  God will never “make us” obey Him.  It is our choice.  The choices we make lead us closer to Him or farther away.   Who we “sit, stand, and walk” with usually hastens the direction whether toward God or away from Him (Ps. 1:1).  Who is influencing you?

We see the worship team of the temple in 6:31-48.  Which tribe were they from (I Ch. 6:1)?  As you know, this tribe was chosen as permanent ministers of the Lord.  God gave them no land in Canaan to own.  Three sons (and their families) made up the worship team: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.  Who led singing?  We’ll find out later that Gerson’s family (Asaph) were at least part of the band, specifically cymbal playing.  You’ll find his name in many of the Psalms.  I’m still not sure about the duties of Merari but they may have been the sound tech people, plus set up and cleanup.  This is all so interesting to me.  Anyone want to do more research? 


June 29 - (1 Chron. 7-8) Chapter 7 contains briefer details of those tribes, including part of Benjamin that belonged to the old northern kingdom of Israel.  Their lands were no longer under Israelite control at the time of the person who wrote this book, and many were in exile. Thus, it was hard to find genealogies of the tribes.

            In speaking of King Saul’s descendants, they named a skill in which they were very good.  It was also a skill that Saul’s first descendant practiced and used to give a warning to David.  What was it (8:40; I Sam. 20:35-42)?  Isn’t it amazing that after at least eight generations that this would still be what they were good at?  Could this be a generational skill God put in that family?  I wonder what God has put in our family that would be recognized down through the generations.  Hmmm 


June 30 – (1 Chron. 9-10) Who was the head baker (9:31)?  Who were Saul’s sons (9:39)? We all know Jonathan. What was the name of Jonathan’s son (9:40)?  This is very interesting.  Merib-Baal sounds like he was named after the Baal god.  It is translated Mephibosheth! 

            Name two reasons why Saul died (10:13-14).  How does this apply to us?  The first reason reminds us that God’ Word is not a suggestion on how to live.  It is the ONLY Way!  The second reason seems so easy to understand and simple to obey.  Yet when we have a big problem and need to hear God’s voice, we only listen to people’s advice. We need to look to Him in prayer and God’s Word. If we don’t, we are doing the same thing as Saul.  “God help us to run to You…. always! 

June 17-23 Go! In God's Power!

June 17 - (2 Kgs. 4-5) Elisha does many miracles in this passage. From multiplying oil, raising the dead, healing leprosy, then causing ramifications for his servant’s disobedience.  It reminds me that many of these miracles Jesus performs while He is on earth.  Ponder what happened to Gehazi. He was working for a great prophet. I’m sure he heard and saw many miracles and wisdom from Elisha. But it wasn’t enough.  Renewing our minds are so important no matter who we have influencing our lives.  


June 18 – (2 Kgs. 6-8) I think my favorite passage here is 6:8-23. It reminds me again that there are forces working for us that we cannot see!  I’m not going to comment any more… I just want to ponder God’s mighty power working for us… always! Go, in God’s power!  


June 19 – (2 Kgs. 9-10) This is an account of wiping out Ahab’s family as the Lord had foretold.  It’s hard to imagine the Lord commanding this gruesome killing but it shows us just how much He hates idolatry in our lives.  Yes, God wants to be the only One glorified, but He knows how idolatry reduces and diminishes what He has created us to be.   “Lord show me what I have placed above You and show me how to tear it down today!” 


June 20 – (2 Kgs. 11-13) Now the women are getting involved in destroying the family, so they can rule.  Athaliah (mother of Ahaziah, king of Judah) destroyed all the royal heirs when she saw that her son was dead.  She ruled for 6 years.  She missed one heir (Joash) which the Lord protected.  Jehoiada, the priest, had guards protect Joash until he could be proclaimed king.  Are there times in your life that you are waiting for God to move in a certain area and don’t understand why it is taking so long?  Here is an example of that.  Joash was just too young when Ahaziah died so he needed some time to grow up just a little.  It reminds me of when we felt we were supposed to move out of our “too big” house once the kids were no longer living there.  We put it for sale and began looking for something to downsize into.  Well….2 years later we get our 1st and only offer and needed to be out in one month.  Needless to say, we were scrambling because we had long since stopped even looking for a new place.  It was amazing how we saw God move in that time frame of one month.  We found a house that had the floor plan we felt we needed with some of the “extras” we were hoping for.  It was a house that was just being built and would be done just in time for us to move in!  It was in an area that building was very slow, so they reduced the price to fit our budget!  In other words, had we sold our house 2 years prior, this would never have happened.   God’s timing is perfect whether we see it or not.  We need to trust Him that He knows the plans for us, for a future and a hope!

            When we felt it was time to downsize even more and be mortgage free, we began the process of looking. Because of the market and the current house God had given us, we felt we could find a house before we sold our current house.  This process took almost 2 years again, but this time we learned from the past and were trusting God way more than the last time. In the end we are currently in our mortgage-free home and God worked many wonders and might I even say miracles during the whole process.  Let’s go one more step. This year we moved Pastor Torry’s parents here from Penna. to help care for them. Finding a place for them and dealing with some health issues has been a challenge but again God provided for them in a miraculous way. 

            These journeys have been very challenging but with each step, my trust and faith in God has increased immensely.  Without them, I would not trust Him as much.  Though the wait and some circumstances were not evidence that God had only good in mind for me, I now see they have produced a trust and closeness with Him I never had before.  Thank you, Jesus, that: “All things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Rom. 8:28-29)

            Joash (also Jehoash) did what was right in God’s sight as the priest Jehoiada instructed him.  He did not tear down high places (not good). He did work on repairing the temple (good). 


June 21 – (2 Kgs. 14-15) Amaziah reigns in Judah and did what was right in God’s sight.  Okay he only did right for a short time.  Does this sound familiar? What was his downfall?  Can you relate to this in your life?  The new twist is that God allowed Israel to take down Judah.  How sad.  Does this sound like in-fighting?

            In the 15th year reign of Amaziah (king of Judah), Jeroboam II (son of Joash) became king of Israel (Samaria) and reigned 41 years. In the 27th year of Jeroboam II, Azariah the son of Amaziah became king of Judah and reigned 52 years. As we finish chapter 15, Many kings are replaced both in Israel and in Judah. (Look at the chart in the attachments to get a visual.)  It reminds me that life goes on. Though our life eventually ends, our deeds will affect those who are left behind. 


June 22 – (2 Kgs. 16-17) Because of its long history of sin and rebellion, the Northern Kingdom was invaded, beaten, and exiled.  Foreigners settled the vacant land and practiced idolatry. Yet even in this time of “discipline” God is being very creative to get these non-believers to learn to “fear the Lord”.  Do you see how in Israel’s backsliding, that other nations came to be exposed to Jehovah God (17:24-28)?  Only God could think it up and only God could make it work!  


June 23 – (2 Kgs. 18-19) These chapters remind me yet again, that God is with us, through it all.  All that he has planned is for our good and His Glory.  Sometimes “our good” means discipline to show us where we need to repent and change our thinking in some areas (renew our mind).  Let’s not reject anything God has allowed, knowing it is for our good and His glory!  

June 10-16 God Always Answers Prayer... His Time-His Way!

June 10 – (I Kgs. 8-9) During the dedication of the temple, Solomon reminded the people of what they needed to do to keep God’s presence and favor (9:1-9).  Now God is reminding Solomon again what he needs to do for his family to continue to reign.  You’ll notice that before today’s reading is done, Solomon has not remembered God’s commands and his sons will be reaping what he has chosen to sow in disobedience.  How sad…but I ask myself: “What am I reaping today?”  Selah 


June 11 – (I Kgs. 10-11) Why were 10 tribes taken from Solomon? Specifically, what gods were allowed to be worshiped (11:5-8)? Not only were they worshiped but Solomon built high places for these gods. Can you relate these gods to any cults or things the world worships today?

            DID YOU KNOW?  Ashtoreth is the biblical name for Astarte.  At ancient Ugarit in Syria, the planet Venus was worshiped as Astarte.  Milcom was a god of the underworld. Chemosh was the chief god of the Moabites. Molech may be the same as Milcom in 11:5. The Bible associates Molech with child sacrifice.

 


June 12 – (I Kgs. 12 -14) Let’s recap: Solomon has built the temple for the Lord and dedicated it.  God’s second appearance to Solomon states again that God will bless Solomon if he follows God’s commands but if he follows after other gods, destruction will follow. A chapter later we read the sad news that Solomon did turn his heart from the Lord and now we jump in to adversaries against Solomon.  In other words, what God says He will do HE WILL DO!  Our choices do affect us whether we obey Him or disobey Him.  Selah!

            The prophet Ahijah spoke to Jeroboam and told him that God would give him 10 tribes of Israel because of Solomon’s unfaithfulness.  Therefore, Jeroboam rebelled against the king. King Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, so he fled to Egypt until the death of Solomon.  (A lot of people fled to Egypt throughout Israel’s history, didn’t they?)  Hmm

            Jeroboam tried to lead Israel, but we see quite quickly he went off course.  It’s interesting that he built 2 golden calves.  You would have thought he would have remembered what happened when Aaron tried that!  It reminds me that when God chooses us for something, we need to be very careful to be listening to Him in how He wants us to do it.  Hearing His assignment is first and foremost. Carrying it out in HIS way is just as important!  Selah

            Chapter 13 is very intimidating to me. Here is a prophet who obeyed God and did what God said to do and yet died because he believed another prophet.  Hmmm, I guess it tells me it is very important to listen only to God and obey Him only! 

            We also have Rehoboam’s reign in Judah.  He did not worship God either. King Shishak, King of Egypt came and took the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house.  Rehoboam and Jeroboam were at war all of their days.

 


June 13 – (I Kgs. 15-17) In the 20th year of Jeroboam’s reign of Israel, Asa became king over Judah.  Asa did what was right in God’s sight.  He undoubtedly faced opposition as he tore down the nations’ idols.  He made unpopular decisions but remained faithful to God all his life.

            We then see many kings over Israel while Asa remains over Judah.  Elijah prophesied to Ahab about the coming drought.  He then went and hid while ravens fed him.  There are so many things to get out of this. Anyone want to share?  


June 14 – (I Kgs. 18-20) After Elijah’s big victory where God proved He was above the Baal and Asherah gods, how did Elijah react?  How did the Lord encourage Elijah during this depression?  Does this ever happen to you after a big spiritual victory?  Know that you are not alone and go to the Lord’s Word for encouragement! Also remember that we don’t realize a “big spiritual victory” without first having a “big spiritual battle”! 


June 15 – (I Kgs. 21-22) Ahab made many evil choices but what popped out at me was 21:28 – 29.  What does it say to me? When we sin and then repent, God is right there.  We may still reap a harvest of that sin we have sowed but God is right there at repentance to walk us through it and even in His wisdom may reduce what should have been reaped.  “Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy and grace!”           


June 16 – (2 Kgs. 1-3) Jehoshaphat (son of Asa) became king over Judah in the 4th year of Ahab as king of Israel. He followed his father’s ways in doing what was right in God’s eyes.  He also made friends with Israel. Ahaziah (son of Ahab) became king of Israel in the 17th year of Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah.

            It’s rather hard to follow who joined with whom to battle against someone else but bottom line is that God will do what He has said. The circumstances are different, but the result is the same. God does what He says He will do but it is in His time and in His way.  Trust Him in all things, that He is working things for our good and His glory 

June 3-9 Solomon...His Wisdom, His Stupidity

June 3 – (2 Sam. 19-20) Let’s go back to Shimei (the guy who cursed David as he fled from Absalom). What happens to him?  I think David was feeling benevolent at the time… or was that just David’s character?

We also notice here in these chapters that Sheba, a Benjamite, called upon the Israelites to follow him and rebel against king David. The house of Benjamin had been a rival of David’s since he became king.  David had just defeated Absalom’s rebellion.  He now has to put down Sheba’s rebellion.  I believe this is all because of David’s sin with Bathsheba and her husband.  Didn’t God tell him that there would always be fighting?  Again, the choices we make are always forgiven but we may have to bear the consequences.  I thank God He gives us the grace to do so! 


June 4 – (2 Sam. 21-22) There is so much in this chapter. I could spend a week here (at least). It speaks to me of waiting for God to answer and of sowing and reaping (there was a three-year famine in David’s reign because Saul sinned concerning the Gibeonites).  Then David took five sons from Michal (a wife) to be hanged with two others for this sin, so that God would bless the land again.  These five sons were not from David but a former husband that Saul chose during the time of David’s fleeing from Saul.  Michal was also the wife that despised David in her heart for dancing before the ark as it was brought into the city.  God said she would be barren the rest of her life.  Many, many lessons for us but so little time!   


June 5 – (2 Sam. 23-24) What were three qualities a ruler must have?  Let’s pray that our president (and the presidents to come) develop more and more of these qualities.

                Why was it so wrong to number the people?  I kept asking myself this question…for years.  When I get to a conundrum or ponderable, I have to “put it on the shelf” that is marked “to be understood at a later time”.  When I do that it helps me to let go of it and trust God that He will give me understanding when I am ready or needing it.  Now let’s get back to the passage.  In that time when you numbered or took a census, it was done by the person or king who owned whatever was numbered.  David was saying in essence that he owned all of Israel and Judah and we all know that this was God’s people.  Joab, his commander, even knew this and tried to dissuade King David.  There was some pride in David that God needed to address.  My mind then goes to how the Angel picked who would die because of David’s sin. Immediately I look within myself and wander how my sin (of not telling someone about Jesus’ saving grace) has allowed someone else to die spiritually.  “Oh God, forgive our sins and give us courage to speak your name when You tell us to!” 


June 6 – (1 Kgs. 1-2) In general overview, 1st & 2nd Kings describes the period of the monarchy in ancient Israel (970-586 B.C.) concentrating on the kings who ruled after David.  1st Kings shows that Israel suffers again and again because of its great sinfulness.  Yet there is still hope for the nation, because God’s chosen family of kings has not come to an end. God remains ready to forgive those who repent.  Aren’t you so thankful, He continues that to this day?  “Thank you, God, for your steadfast forgiveness and love!”

                David spoke to Solomon words of wisdom and warning as he was about to die (2:1-4).  What were five things he encouraged Solomon in doing?  It really is a great example of what we all need to hand down to our family!  I would suggest even writing them to hand down. 


June 7 – (1 Kgs. 3-4) Do you remember when Samuel warned the Israelites what it would be like to have a king (just like their neighbors) but they wanted a king anyway (I Sam.8:10-20)?  Here we see God’s warning coming true even with Solomon as their wise and God-fearing king (I Ki. 4:11, 15)!  Be careful what you demand (or ask for) …. especially when God says it’s not for your best!

                How many governors did Solomon have just to provide for him and his household (4:7, 22)?  Take notice how much food was needed EVERY DAY…. but they wanted a king!

Wouldn’t you have liked to have been Solomon to receive wisdom and exceedingly great understanding and largeness of heart (4:29)?  I know we all say YES!!! Then I think about the responsibility that Solomon had in leading God’s people.  Could we get the wisdom and exceeding great understanding and largeness of heart without all that responsibility?  I know God wants us to receive just that for whatever great responsibility He gives specifically to each one of us! Let’s ask Him! 


June 8 – (1 Kgs. 5-6) Solomon has built a temple for God to dwell.  Remember the commands God made in order for His presence to dwell there?  Ponderable:  Do these commands apply to His holy temple that dwells inside us?  I’m asking myself, to what extent am I obeying those same commands?  Another way to ask that:  How richly does God’s presence dwell in me today?

                DID YOU KNOW?  Keep in mind the measurements: 1 cubit = almost 18 in. (17.72 in.) = 6 hand breaths or palms (a royal palm was 7 palms = 20.67 in.) Here’s the breakdown: Measure of 4 fingers=1 hand breath or palm; 3 hand breaths = 1 span; 2 spans = 1 cubits = 17.72 in. or a royal or long cubit = 20.67 in. (This is a little hard to convert isn’t it?) 


June 9 – (1 Kgs. 7). Did you notice that Solomon took seven years to build the Lord’s Temple and thirteen years to build his own house?  Hmm.

                The House of the Forest of Lebanon, just the first of several buildings in the palace complex, was much bigger than the temple (6:2). This building had so much cedar that it was named after the forest from which the cedar came.  It was apparently designed as a treasury or armory (10:17,21; Isa. 22:8).  This shows that Solomon was much more concerned about his palace than about the temple. The Hall of Pillars was almost as large as the temple.  There was a throne hall, also called the Hall of judgment. Two palaces were built, one for Solomon and one for his Egyptian wife. We can be very wise in some things but so… not wise in others!  “Lord, help us have your mind and heart in all things!”

May 27-June 2 Pray...Then Plunge!

May 27 – (2 Sam. 1-3) This book describes many of David’s successes and failures. The first ten chapters tell us David made good choices and thus he could do no wrong.  After that “big bad” choice, he was always in the midst of shedding blood. God had already told David not to build the tabernacle because he had shed too much blood.  Isn’t this an example of God’s omniscience?  He already knew what David would choose to do…. And yet He still picked David for this job!  It gives me hope that He knows all my foul-ups and still chose me (and you) to display His Glory (when I make good choices)!

            Have you noticed in David’s lament of Saul and Jonathan that he doesn’t want the aliens to gloat over their demise?   When we hear of the fall of “public Christian leaders” don’t we feel the same way?  Yet we all make wrong choices in life. Don’t be afraid to show God’s glory just because you are afraid you won’t quite get it right! Always, always seek God’s way of doing things before you plunge in! 

            David is anointed king of Judah but Abner (King Saul’s army commander) brought up Ishbosheth (son of Saul) and made him king over Israel.  Ishbosheth reigned 2 years.  David reigned over Judah 7 1/2 years.  We already have Israel and Judah fighting against each other.  How sad that they couldn’t agree on one king…the king God had chosen!  Lives ended in the process.  Family members (God’s family) were killing each other.  A civil war had broken out …all because they wanted a king… of their choosing!  Selah 


May 28 – (2 Sam. 4-6) How do we “handle” God’s presence? There were rules for how to “handle” the ark. You can see what caused God to bless those who responded/acted correctly and what happened to those who did not. I ask again: How do we respond/act in God’s presence? Selah 


May 29 – (2 Sam. 7-9) I think it’s interesting that Nathan the prophet told David to go ahead with his plans to build a tabernacle for God.  Then God spoke to Nathan and told him David would not build it. One of his sons would build it.  This reminds me that sometimes what we think is God’s direction for something may need to be adjusted as we listen to Him.  It takes a humble heart to redirect our thinking.

            2 Sam. 7:18-29 is David’s thanksgiving to God.  Write your own thanksgiving to God about your life right now.  I dare you!  


May 30 – (2 Sam. 10-12) David defeats the Ammonite and Syrians when they don’t receive David’s good-will gesture.  Have you ever tried to do something nice for someone, but they did not receive it as you intended it?  No, we don’t go to war with them, but we do have a right to seek God for how to proceed.  As I read David’s accounts, it amazes me how it was done differently each time.  It reminds me that God is so creative in solving problems.  We should not get stuck expecting Him to work the same way He did the last time we cried out to Him to save us! But we should always expect that He will work it out for our good and His glory!!!

            In the account of David and Bathsheba, God, through Nathan the prophet reminds David of his sins.  How does God show him he is wrong?  It reminds me again that the Lord sees everything whether we try to hide it or not, whether we try to convince ourselves it’s ok or not.  One of my son’s basketball coaches told them, “What you practice in private, you perform in public.”  This is true whether for righteousness or sin.  Whether physical or mental or spiritual! 


May 31 – (2 Sam. 13-14) Why was Absalom banished from David’s sight? If you look at Absalom’s life, what kind of character do you think he had?   Describe his looks. I’ve come to the conclusion (in my short life) that good looking people normally depend on their looks while those of us who are a “little less than perfect in our features” have to work on our character a little more. What do you think? 


June 1 – (2 Sam. 15-16) Can you imagine being the king of Israel and Judah for 33 years after running from Saul?  Now he is running from his own son in the same way.  All because of a wrong choice he made after becoming king.  We have to be careful that we don’t walk in God’s glory with our own fleshly desires.  God will only bless glory given to Him alone!

            Has Mephibosheth just turned against David after David showed such kindness to him (16:1-4)?

I never saw this before.  Isn’t it amazing that we find something new as we read and re-read His Word!  It is a living Word!

 Saul’s house is back with a vengeance.  What is David’s humble response? 


June 2 – (2 Sam. 17-18) WOW!! This could make a very intriguing suspense movie!  I had to keep thinking about which ones were the “bad guys” and which were the “good guys”.  The truth is, only Satan is the bad guy. We need to focus on the sin and not the sinner!  This was only one “ponderable” I had here.  Please send me something you pondered in this passage.

            What did Absalom do to keep a remembrance of himself (18:18)? Isn’t this in keeping with his character we talked about earlier?

May 20-26 Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice!

May 20 – (1 Sam. 15-16) As you read this account of the fall of King Saul, remember a very important lesson here found in 15:22. Obedience is better than sacrifice.  Another way to say it… It is better to obey what the Holy Spirit is telling you than to keep thinking, saying, doing, what you have always habitually thought, said, or done.                   

As Samuel was picking a new king to replace Saul, The Lord guided him to pick David.  In that process, the Lord made a profound statement that encourages us “not so perfect-looking people”.  It also encourages us to continue to renew that “inner man”! 


May 21 – (1 Sam. 17-18) David slew the giant.  We all know the story.  Can you apply it to your life?  What “giants” do you face?  Do you ever try to kill them with someone else’s weapons?  David picked five stones.  List five ways you attack those “giants” in your life.  Name one stone that has hit “The mark” one time.  May I give you an example?  At one point I needed a “heart change” and I needed it quick.  It was one of those “Lord change how I feel (or I may do something stupid) or change the situation (you know we always just want the situation to go away).  My stone was fasting.  It took several days but God did a 180 degree in my thoughts and feelings and He revealed something I never saw before in the situation. (I was able to act with genuine “God’s love” whether I agreed with the actions or not).  It was a wonderful victory, but it didn’t stop there. There were times since then that I struggled with the same emotions. I would need to go back to the Lord for a refresher in seeing things as He saw them.  The renewing of the mind was still not complete in that area.  Did you know that even though David kill Goliath and many Philistines were killed, that Israel continued to struggle with them?  The Philistines defeated the Israelites on Mount Gilboa, killing King Saul and his three sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malkishua (1 Samuel 31). Hezekiah defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory (2 Kings 18:5–8).  Let’s be encouraged that God meets us in those battles we wage while we remember He has already won the war!!  Thank you, Jesus!! 


May 22 – (1 Sam. 19-20) As Saul becomes more aggressive in his attempt to kill David, David runs to the prophet (and judge) who anointed him to be the next king.  I can just imagine David’s conversation with him.  “Samuel, you said God has chosen me as the next king.  Why is Saul attacking me?  Should he not be helping me make this transition into what God has clearly ordained?  Why is God allowing this struggle?  How can this be good for the Israelites to see?”  As I did some research on Naioth, I realized this was a place where a school of prophets were dwelling.  It was so anointed that even those who came there would begin to prophesy!  What a wonderful picture!  It tells me that only seeking God and listening to the Holy Spirit will give us victory as we are listening and patient for God to move…. or move us!   


May 23 – (1 Sam. 21-23) When David fled from Saul (for the last time), to whom did he first go?  What were the two things he asked for?  When we get into difficulties where should we first head?  This part of David’s life is such an enigma to me.  David knew he was chosen by God to be king and yet he was sought after to be killed.  Do you ever feel like you know what God has called you to do but there is someone or something preventing you from walking in that calling?  Let’s watch David’s life and see if we can learn more about what to do (or maybe what not to do). 


May 24 – (1 Sam. 24-25) David had a choice to get rid of the person who was trying to get rid of him.  Why did David choose not to take that opportunity?  It’s interesting that when Saul finds out what David has done (or not done) that Saul weeps and realizes that David will be the next king.  What is the one thing Saul asks of David when he becomes king (24:16-21)? How does this line-up with what God told Saul would happen to his descendants when Samuel told him his disobedience caused him to lose the crown (I Sam. 13)?  I think Saul was still trying to hold onto something God had taken away! 


May 25 – (1 Sam. 26-28) When David fled from Saul, where did he settle?  Isn’t this interesting that this is the very city Goliath was from?  Why do you think the Philistine king allowed him to settle there?  It wasn’t just David and a few men either.  It was 600 men and their families plus David’s two wives.  This just amazes me! 


May 26 – (1 Sam. 29-31) Does it surprise you that David and his men are now going with Achish (king of Gath) to help attack Israel?  The other rulers of the Philistines make David go back and not fight with them.  Do you think David would have killed fellow Israelites, had he gone along?  I think God was protecting him from something in the battle.  Can you figure it out?  (I Sam. 26:9-11; 28:19) Have you ever recognized God protecting you from some life-changing devastation when you weren’t even aware of the danger?  Jehovah Nissi!

                In light of the last question and discussion, look at this!  What city did Achish (king of Gath) attack right after he sent David back to Ziklag?  Which of David’s wives were from that very city (1 Sam. 14)?  Can you imagine the “conflict of interest” there would have been? So many times, I don’t understand why God does (or doesn’t) do things, to find out later that what I thought should happen would have ended in disaster.  More and more, it has caused me to trust in His timing and circumstances!