Sept. 23-29 Wisdom, Blessing, Worship

Sept. 23 – (Pro. 7-8) Do you want to be blessed?  Here are some ways (8:32-35). In fact, this whole chapter gives us many pointers. Let’s reread it and write down all that is good for us to practice.  

Sept.24 – (Pro. 9-10)   What is the beginning of wisdom (9:10)?  How do we get understanding? My favorite verse today: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (9:10).

Proverbs 10 begins a collection of proverbs attributed to Solomon.  In it he says the actions of wise and good people are contrasted to the deeds of foolish and evil people. Solomon emphasizes the need for honesty and the wise choice of words.  

Sept. 25 – (Pro. 11-12) Proverbs 11 comes again from Solomon.  He gave practical words of wisdom that would ensure long life to those who heed them.  Solomon contrasted righteous and wicked behavior, paying special attention to the best use of money.

            In Proverbs 12, Solomon gave instruction about life.  He contrasted good with evil, wisdom with foolishness, and labor with laziness.  Foolishness leads to ruin.  It is amazing what Solomon considers foolishness.  Not just in this chapter but in the book of Proverbs.  I would love to see a compilation of all the verses on “being a fool”.  Anyone want to do research? 

Sept. 26 – (Pro. 13-14) Here is a riddle:  Who can make himself rich yet have nothing and who can make himself poor, yet have great riches (13:7)?

Chapter 14 is written to capture interest through contrast. It highlights the life of the wise and righteous person in contrast to the life of the foolish and wicked.  Re-read this chapter substituting “I” for the subject in sentences that deal with righteousness (“I build up those in my house…”). Then ask yourself if it’s true. When you truthfully answer no, ask the Holy Spirit to help turn it into a true statement.   (I dare you!!!) 

Sept. 27 – (Pro. 15-16) Chapter 15:1-17 is a series of proverbs dealing primarily with speech, submission to instruction, and God’s providence.  In verses 25-33, the proverbs begin and end with a contrast: “The Lord opposes the proud (v.25) but is near those who act in humility that comes from the fear of the Lord (v.33).” Verse 24-32 expand on this by illustrating the pride of the wicked and the humility of the righteous. At the center of this section is the reminder that the Lord is far from the wicked but hears the prayer of the righteous (v.29).

            Riddle: How can a man be pure and impure at the same time (16:2)? 

Sept. 28 – (Pro. 17-18) What is good medicine (17:22)?  Why should we not break a child’s spirit?  Better yet, how do we discipline a child without breaking their spirit? Favorite verse today: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (18:10). As I was reading this verse, I began singing a song we used to sing. Do you remember it? I expected the next verse to be: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but I remember the name of the Lord (Was that the next line?).  This all reminds me of how powerful music is to us. I loved that season of God’s music because there were so many songs, we sang that were snippets of His Word and in singing them over and over was putting His Word in my heart.  That is what we needed then.  Then we had a season or wave of music and pageantry that showed God’s glory and majesty and power.  It was beautiful to watch and participate… like being in His throne room.  I think we are now coming out of a season or wave where the words were establishing a more personal relationship with Father God. Some of the words almost seemed sacrilegious but I realized it was for upcoming generations reaching to relate to their Father God from most experiences of having no father or at best a very distorted experience of what a father was. These are just my thoughts and may not be very accurate.  Pastor Torry spoke on 9/8 concerning “Blessed are the Pure in heart…”  One of the things that hinder our heart from being pure is thinking certain traditions (done as a tradition only) can keep us from seeing our creative God as He currently wants to show Himself.  In the past many people (can I say most of us?) can get stuck on one style of worship. We have a creative God who knows just how to reach every generation, every nation in a way that will bring all of us into a closer relationship with Him.  Okay, my ramblings are done…for today. 😊 

Sept. 29 – (Pro. 19-20) Here is a new translation of 19:18. “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart “on his crying”.  This is a Jewish tradition version.  That puts a whole new slant on how much to keep a child from crying, doesn’t it?

            In chapter 20, Solomon wrote more proverbs.  If readers followed these words of wisdom, Solomon promised that God would approve of their life.  Sin takes many forms: gossip, laziness, drunkenness, and dishonesty.  Some of these we recognize as sin and maybe avoid.  Others are a “Christian’s vises”.  Let’s deal with them as sin alone.  Selah 

Sept 16-22 God's Word Is The True Source!

Sept. 16 – (Ps. 128-135) Psalms 128-131 are possibly written by Hezekiah.  Some of the lyrics in here were often sung at Israelite weddings.  As you read these, look for phrases or verses that might have applied to a wedding. In Psalm 135, God’s people are called to praise Him for His majestic power, displayed in his deeds on their behalf.  

Sept. 17 – (Ps. 136-139) Psalm 136 is so comforting. No matter what specific situation I am in, His Love endures… not just for that situation, but forever! We can get bored with reading that phrase after every situation written here but it drives home a Truth as it is repeated. His love (some versions say mercy) endures forever!  It endures all times and places and situations…His Love Endures Forever!  I rest easy when I remember this!    

Sept. 18 – (Ps. 140-144) In Psalms 140-142, David prayed for God’s strength when he felt overwhelmed.  God gives us the endurance we need to face whatever situation life brings us.  Here is an excerpt from Mourning Into Dancing by Walt Wangerin, Jr. that helps me understand these verses much better.

         When I was a boy… I told people that my father was stronger than anyone else in the world…. So, I would go out on the front porch and roar to the neighborhood: “My daddy’s arm is as strong as trucks! The strongest man in the world…”

     In those days a cherry tree grew in our backyard.  This was my hiding place.  Ten feet above the ground was a stout limb made a horizontal fork, a cradle on which I could lay face down, reading, thinking, and being alone.  Nobody bothered me here. Even my parents didn’t know where I went to hide.  Sometimes Daddy would come out and call, “Wally? Wally? But he didn’t see me in the leaves.  I felt very tricky.

   Then came the thunderstorm…. One day suddenly, a wind tore through the backyard and struck my cherry tree with such force that it ripped the book from my hands and nearly threw me from the limb.  I locked my arms around the forking branches and hung on.  My head hung down between them.  I tried to wind my legs around the limb, but the whole tree was wallowing in the wind…. “Daddeeeeee!  

     There he was…. The branches swept up and down, like huge waves on an ocean---and Daddy saw me, and right away he came out into the wind and the weather, and I felt so relieved because I just took it for granted that he would climb right up the tree to get me. 

    But that wasn’t his plan at all.  He came to a spot right below me and lifted his arms and shouted, “Jump.”  “What?” “Jump, I’ll catch you!”  Jump?  I had a crazy man for a father.  He was standing six or seven miles beneath me, holding up two skinny arms and telling me to jump.  If I jumped, he’d miss.  I’d hit the ground and die….

   But the wind and the rain slapped that cherry tree, bent it back, and cracked my limb at the trunk.  I dropped a foot. My eyes flew open.  Then the wood whined and splintered and sank, and so did I, in bloody terror.

   No, I did not jump. I let go. I surrendered.  I fell.   In a fast-eternal moment, I despaired and plummeted.  This, I thought, is what it’s like to die---But my father caught me….

     Now, in such a storm the tree which was our stable world is shaken, and instinct makes us grab it tighter: by our own strength we grip the habits that have helped us in the past repeating them, believing them.  We’d rather trust what is than what might be: that is, our power, our reason and feeling and endurance…. We spend a long time screaming No!

    But always, God is present.  God has always been present.  And it is God who says, “Jump”. 

Sept. 19- (Ps. 145-150) Do you ever go through a season where a certain phrase or chapter is your testimony you share with those who will listen? Ps. 146 was that for me. The title was “The happiness of those whose help is the Lord!!!”  God’s Word is relevant and gives us guidance through ALL situations in life.  Sometimes they are word for word in that current situation, sometimes they are received by more digging and are used at a later time, but they are ALWAYS there!!! Praise His Name Forever!!!!

The last four Psalms were worship directed to God.  They begin and end with hallelujah, the Hebrew word for “Praise the Lord.”  Worship is the “thank you” that refuses to be silenced.  We have tried to make a science out of worship.  We can’t do that. We can’t do that anymore than we can “sell love” or “negotiate peace.”  Worship is a voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, and by the delivered to the Deliverer.  (Excerpt from In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado)  

Sept. 20 – (Pro. 1-2) The theme and goal of this book is stated right at the beginning (1:1-7): to describe what wisdom is and to help God’s people become wise.  Wisdom is founded in the “fear of the Lord,” and it enables believers to express their faith in the practical details of everyday Life. What is the beginning of knowledge?  Who despises wisdom and instruction (1:7)? 

Sept. 21 – (Pro. 3-4) What will add length of days and peace to our life (3:1-2)?  Prov. 3:5 is a foundational memory verse to practice every moment of every day!  

Sept. 22 – (Pro. 5-6) What are seven things the Lord hates (6:16-19)?  Notice that in today’s culture, many of these are “okay” if you can get away with it. In fact, the culture today says you are “successful” if you come out ahead by doing some of these! Remind yourself that God’s Word is the true source! 

Sept. 9-15 Gives Thanks For All Things!

Sept. 9 – (Ps. 107-108) Take the first and last verse of Ps. 107.  It is a wonderful statement of God! “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.  Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.”  Selah

            Did you notice that Psalm 57:7-11 and Psalm 60:5-12 were combined to form Psalm 108?  In this Psalm, David is celebrating his victory. He knew that without God, he would have been defeated.  We can say a big AMEN to that as well!  It is much easier to praise Him with a victory, but do we praise Him just as much with a defeat (perceived as a defeat)?  God is always constant.  His attributes are constant as well and always worthy of praise no matter what is going on in our lives!  

Sept. 10 – (Ps. 109-113) In Psalms 110-112 God is reminding Israel to worship Him and not get caught up in the worship of idols that their neighbor nations worshiped.  Who is God?  Answer the question by making a list of God’s attributes from these psalms.  Pick out several and reflect on one attribute each day.  At the end of the day reflect how this attribute of God affected you and thank Him for it.

            How do you react when you get bad news? Do you get angry at the situation or person you think is causing it? Do you despair and want to give up? Here is something the Lord is showing me. Read 112:7 and then look at 112:10. God is showing me how to respond more like verse 7 and less like verse 10.  “Thank you, Jesus, for Your Word!” 

Sept. 11 - (Ps. 114-118) Psalms 113-118 were used during the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and other traditional Jewish festivals. The titles for today’s chapters are: The Power of God in His Deliverance of Israel, The Futility of Idols and the Trustworthiness of God, Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Death, Let all the Peoples Praise the Lord, and Praise to God for His Everlasting Mercy.  We are to live a lifestyle of thankfulness and praise to God every part of every day.

            In Psalm 118 the psalmist understood that in the midst of calamity, God was with him.  We can live in assurance and calm. Despite troubles around us, if we love and trust God, he will be with us. We have nothing to fear if we put our trust in our Guardian. 

Sept. 12 – (Ps. 119:1-88) “How can a man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!  Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”  How do we do all that on a constant basis?  “I will meditate on Your precepts and contemplate Your ways.  I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”  It takes time… little by little as we read His word and follow what He is telling us. (Just like doing a daily Bible Study!) 

Sept. 13 – (Ps. 119:89-176) I love verses 89-94 because they give me hope to trust in Him as I take His Word…. lean on it, trust in it, and do it!  His Word never fails! 

Sept. 14 – (Ps. 120-127) Psalm 127 was exactly for me today… well all of the reading for today, really.  I was so exhausted yesterday I could hardly function and turned the lights out at 10 pm (is this a “getting older” syndrome?).  By 2 AM I was awake and “thinking” and had to get up and start doing something.  Why couldn’t I shut my mind off?  Psalm 127 told me why.  My life is orchestrated by God.  My only “job” is to listen to Him and do what He is telling me to do.  I can’t worry my way into anything I know He is calling me to do or be.  I have to seek Him and then obey what He is saying and let Him “make” it happen.  Somehow that is very freeing…if I can do that on a moment by moment experience!  “God help us all!”

Sept. 2-8 Thankfulness Brings Joy

Sept. 2 – (Ps. 83-86) Psalms 84 and 85 were written by the sons of Korah.  They celebrate God’s strength, grace, and glory.  I think Psalm 84 is my favorite this day. Verses 5-7 have new meaning to me.  I knew the “Valley of Baca” means Valley of Tears.  “They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion (v.7).” This is interpreted, “The God of all gods shall be seen.”   If you reread these verses with the meaning, it puts a whole new light on the purpose of tear-forming situations in our lives as we go through them in His strength!   

Sept. 3 – (Ps. 87-89) Psalm 87 speaks of God’s devotion to Zion.  It is a Psalm of celebration which contrasts with the previous Psalm, which spoke of death and despair.

            Psalm 89 is a remembrance of the covenant with David, and sorrow for lost blessings.  The very first verse was made into a song we sang a long time ago.  What mercies of the Lord can you recount today?  Let’s thank Him for those mercies! 

Sept. 4 – (Ps. 90-93) Psalms 90 opens the fourth book of the psalms (Psalms 90-106). It may be seen as the first response to the problems raised by book 3.  Psalm 90, attributed to Moses, reminds the worshiper that God was active on Israel’s behalf long before David. This theme is taken up in Psalms 103-106, which summarized God’s dealings with His people before any kings reigned. In between there is a group of psalms (93-100) characterized by the refrain “The Lord reigns.” This truth refutes the doubts of Ps. 89.  The Lord still reigns!

Psalm 92 says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night…”

Let’s make that our homework for the week (If you don’t already have that habit).  When you wake up every morning, thank Him for another day He has made just for you to see His glory (v. 2 a).  Every night before you go to sleep let’s thank Him for His faithfulness you experienced during that day.   

Sept. 5 – (Ps. 94-97) In Psalm 94, the writer felt surrounded by people who did not seek after God.  Does that sound like our lives in the good ole USA today?  He does rejoice that God would protect and care for the righteous. In Psalms 95 and 96, the writer is encouraging the people to bring an offering of worship to God.  After all, everything that has been created is to give glory to God. 

Sept. 6 – (Ps. 98-102) In Psalms 101, David records the standards of conduct he wanted to follow.  Did he follow them perfectly?  No, he did not. But he did learn that nothing is hidden from God and he accepted God’s mercy and discipline without giving up on Him.

            In Psalm 102 the psalmist’s distress is not hopeless.  Through faith he saw a glorious future for unborn generations.  God will protect and restore his people today as in the past. Like David, we need to trust Him as He wills and does of His good pleasure in our lives as we surrender all to Him. 

Sept. 7 – (Ps. 103-104) There are so many things to thank the Lord for.  These verses give you all kinds of ways and yet there are so many more!  As you read these verses think of other related things that aren’t specifically written here and thank Him for it. (Ex. “forget not all His benefits….”  Name specific benefits you see in your own life.)  I promise you, the more you do this, and the brighter your day will be! 

Sept. 8 – (Ps. 105-106) As I read Psalm 105, I am amazed all over again that God has complete control over EVERYTHING in the world. Why? Because He made it all!  It reminds me that there are moments every day that I forget this and wonder where things got out of control. In heaven’s reality, nothing is out of control. It is only in my thinking that things don’t seem right.  Then I realize that I have forgotten that God is in control, that He is good, and that He only does good for us!  As I repent of unbelief, I am restored once again to a place of peace and contentment that my creator Father and Lord is in control of EVERYTHING!

            Every time I read Psalm 106:19-20, I have to pause and really think about it.  The Israelites exchange God’s glory on them for the image of a golden ox.  They did that by bowing down and worshiping it.  I then ask myself, what do I bow down to? Am I bowing down to the person I fear more than God (what they think about me more than what God thinks about me)? Do I bow down to the job that I depend on for living more than I depend on God for my provision?  Oh God, help us to put away any idols we bow down to, so that we can look more and more like You! 

Aug. 26-Sept. 1 Let God Arise!

Aug. 26 – (Ps. 62-66) Psalm 63 is a Psalm of David while he was in the wilderness of Judah.  He words here show His dependence is totally on God and David is praising Him for it. If only we would constantly remember God’s nearness and saving power every moment of every day (and night)!

            (Ps. 66) “Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!  Sing out the honor of His name!”  This psalm continues to encourage us to tell of God’s goodness in our lives.  Think of even one thing the Lord has done in your life…. and share it!  I want to say I have felt God’s grace in a very powerful way.  It’s seems when I am lacking, I feel Him strengthening me in a specific area I need for that time.  It’s just amazing to me that when I am weak, then He is strong!  Bless His name forever!!! 

Aug. 27 – (Ps. 67-68) Do you remember the song we used to sing every week at the end of service?  Every time I read Psalm 68, I start singing the song!  That’s what a song should do!  Songs are supposed to bolster our faith and trust in God.  That’s why I think it’s so important to listen to Christian music as our steady diet of what we take in (especially when we just going about our daily routine).  His Words and teachings then float to the surface as some word or action can trigger the Truth in love!  Let God Arise!!!! 

Aug. 28 – (Ps. 69-72) Psalm 69 is David’s cry to God for trust and hope despite over whelming misfortunes.  David knew that only God can give eternal gladness and joy.   This Psalm has also been called a Messianic Psalm because it portrays the humiliation and rejection of Jesus.  Can you see it in this chapter?

Psalm 72 is written by Solomon.  He asked God for wisdom for himself and righteousness for his son.  In this prayer he looked forward to the eternal, perfect reign of Christ.  My favorite verses here are verses 18-19. “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things!  And blessed be His glorious name forever!  And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.  Amen and Amen.”  Our God and our Father only does wondrous things!!! 

Aug. 29 – (Ps. 73-75) Psalms 73-89 is considered the third book of Psalms. The tone darkens further in this book. The opening Psalm 73 starkly questions the justice of God before seeing light in God’s presence.  That light has almost escaped the psalmist in Psalm 88, the bleakest of all psalms.  Book 2 ended with the high point of royal aspirations; Book 3 concludes in Psalm 89 with these expectations badly threatened.  There are a few of the psalms that cut through the darkness. The brief third book contains most of the psalms of Asaph (73-83).  As well as another set of Korah psalms (84,85;87,88).

In Psalm 73 we see the author questioning God’s wisdom because he felt the wicked were prospering and the righteous suffering.  We need to always pray for Gods perspective when we don’t understand a perspective or person.  There is always one more view we aren’t aware of that would change how we see it.

Psalm 74 seems like Asaph is tired of being stepped on.  He seems rejected, defeated, and forgotten. He prays for God to restore Israel and grant revenge.  Isn’t it interesting that we want God to “get” our enemies but give us mercy?  That’s all I’m going to say.... 😊        

Aug. 30 – (Ps. 76-77)   In Psalm 75 and 76, Asaph grew in confidence that God would bring the wicked to judgment.  God would not let anyone deserving of judgment slip free unnoticed.  I am reminded again that God’s holiness contrasts with our sinfulness.  Without mercy from God, we all would be judged.  Let’s humble ourselves before God and thank Him for His redeeming love and mercy!  In Psalms 77, Asaph is reviewing God’s past miracles and mighty works on behalf of the Israelites when they went to the Promised Land.  I think Asaph needed encouragement during a time of personal distress.  When we remember and meditate upon God’s previous works in our lives, it gives us courage to continue to walk through a current difficulty or struggle. 

Aug. 31 – (Ps. 78) In Psalm 78, Asaph is recounting Israel’s history from slavery in Egypt until the reign of King David. Asaph retold the story in order that the Jewish people would remember their past and be reminded of the mercy that God had shown them.  This reminds me to remember what God has done for me during a time of His silence or seeming inactivity of His Hand when I get impatient for Him to “arise” in a situation.  Many times, it brings me back to the prayer, “God please move in this current situation or move me.” God wants to change me or my attitude rather than a situation.  He is just waiting for me to realize it and change how I think about it.  Peace is not being in a storm, it’s being able to joyfully sing in that storm.  It’s around 6:00 AM and I’ve been reading and typing with my windows open.  The birds since about 5:00 AM have been so wonderfully singing!  When I first opened the window, it was dark out and the birds seemed even louder than now when the light shows forms and grass and trees (with a pesky rabbit running through the yard).  Is that part of showing God’s glory?  Singing when it is “dark” because your “singing” is so much louder than when the “light” comes?  Selah!!! 

Sept. 1 – (Ps. 79-82) As you read Psalm 81, think about the last time you heard from God.  What word of encouragement did He impress upon you or what caution did the Holy Spirit bring to your mind?  Are you hearing daily? Terry Law spoke on this one time.  One of his points was that God, through the Holy Spirit speaks to us every day.  We just need to have a continually listening ear.  Are you taking action on what you hear?  Our response should be that of a child who loves and trusts their parent.  Maybe even more like Samuel as a child; “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.”  Something for us to ponder…something for us to work on!          


Aug. 19-25 When is a Spider's Web Like a Wall?

Aug. 19 – (Ps. 30-33) “The Lord will give strength to His people. The Lord will bless His people with peace (29:11).” “I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me.  O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me.  O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.  Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name (30:1-4).”  These words are underlined in my Bible as a remembrance of what He has done for me at a time in my life.  What I’m asking God now is to constantly help me to remember this and be grateful for the mighty things He has done! 

Aug. 20 – (Ps. 34-36) What do you think is the connection between humility and the ability to praise the Lord at all times (34:2-6)?

            David used four different Hebrew words for deliverance.  What were the different variations in the concept of deliverance that occur here (34:4, 6, 7, and 22)?

            Ps. 36:7-10 is underlined in my Bible. It was the day we moved into our current home. One that we had prayed about for at least 2 years. It fits us, it provides for us a home that is mortgage free and allows us more freedom to do His work during this season of our life. I was so amazed at how He provided it all and how it came together. Now I read that note and realize my need to feel that way every day no matter what the day would bring.  Selah 

Aug. 21 – (Ps. 37-39) Here is a good “Life Lesson” about these Psalms. It is taken from “Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning. 

When we wallow in guilt, remorse, and shame over real or imagined sins of the past we are disdaining God’s gift of grace. Preoccupation with self is always a major component of unhealthy guilt and recrimination.  It stirs our emotions, churning in self-destructive ways, closes us in upon the mighty citadel of self, leads to depression and despair and preempts the presence of a compassionate God.  The language of unhealthy guilt is harsh.  It is demanding, abusing, criticizing, rejecting, accusing, blaming, condemning, reproaching and scolding.  It is one of impatience and chastisement.  Christians are shocked and horrified because they have failed.  Unhealthy guilt becomes bigger than life.  The image of the childhood story “Chicken Little” comes to mind.  Guilt becomes the experience in which people feel the sky is falling. Yes, we feel guilt over sins, but healthy guilt is one which acknowledges the wrong done and feels remorse, but then is free to embrace the forgiveness that has been offered.  Healthy guilt focuses on the realization that all has been forgiven, the wrong has been redeemed.

            When you sin, do you casually say “Oops, I’m sorry” or keep beating yourself over the head even after you have repented?  We need to humbly repent of our sins and then go in confidence knowing we are forgiven!

            “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am” (39:4).  Oh, that we could know what our life looks like to God.  But then we would be like God, wouldn’t we?  I think David wanted an honest assessment of his life.  I do pray that God would help me to see me as He sees me and not what I think others see in me or I think of myself.

Aug. 22 – (Ps. 40-44)   Psalms 42-72 is considered the second book of Psalms. It introduces the first group of psalms by the “sons of Korah” (42,44-49,50). There are also more psalms of David. Once again, lament and distress dominate these prayers, which now also include a communal (voice e.g. 44). The lone psalm attributed to Solomon concludes Book 2 with a look at God’s ideal for Israel’s kings-ultimately pointing to Christ as the final great King of God‘s people.

Here is another “Life Lesson” pertaining to chapters 40 and 41. It is taken from “The Eye of the Storm” by Max Lucado. “An old man walks down a Florida beach.  The sun sets like an orange ball on the horizon.  The waves slap the sand.  The smell of salt water stings the air.  The beach is vacant.  No sun to entice the sunbathers.  Not enough light for the fishermen.  So, aside from a few joggers and strollers, the gentleman is alone.

            He carries a bucket in his bony hand.  A bucket of shrimp.  It’s not for him.  It’s not for the fish.  It’s for the sea gulls. He walks to an isolated pier cast in gold by the setting sun.  He steps out to the end of the pier.  The time has come for the weekly ritual.  He stands and waits. Soon the sky becomes a mass of dancing dots.  The evening silence gives way to the screeching of birds.  They fill the sky and then cover the moorings.  They are on a pilgrimage to meet the old man.

            For a half hour or so, the bushy-browed, shoulder-bent gentleman will stand on the pier, surrounded by the birds of the sea, until his bucket is empty.  But even after the food is gone, his feathered friends still linger.  They linger as if they’re attracted to more than just food.  They perch on his hat.  They walk on the pier.  And they all share a moment together….

            The old man on the pier couldn’t go a week without saying “thank you.”  His name was Eddie Rickenbacker.  If you were alive in October 1943, you probably remember the day that he was reported missing at sea.  He had been sent on a mission to deliver a message to Gen. Douglas MacArthur.  With a handpicked crew in a B-17 known as the “Flying Fortress,” he set off across the South Pacific.  Somewhere the crew became lost, the fuel ran out, and the plane went down.  All eight crew members escaped into the life rafts.  They battled the weather, the water, the sharks, and the sun.  But most of all, they battled the hunger.  After eight days, their rations were gone.  They ran out of options.  It would take a miracle for them to survive.

            And a miracle occurred.  After an afternoon devotional service, the men said a prayer and tried to rest.  As Rickenbacker was dozing with his hat over his eyes, something landed on his head.  He would later say that he knew it was a sea gull.  He didn’t know how he knew; he just knew.  That gull meant food…if he could catch it.  And he did. The flesh was eaten. The Intestines were used as fish bait.  And the crew survived.  What was a sea gull doing hundreds of miles away from land?  Only God knows. But whatever the reason, Rickenbacker was thankful.  As a result, every Friday evening this old captain walked to the pier, his bucket full of shrimp and his heart full of thanks.

            We’d be wise to do the same.  We’ve much in common with Rickenbacker.  We, too, were saved by a Sacrificial Visitor.  We, too, were rescued by One who journeyed far from only God knows where.  And we, like the captain, have every reason to look in the sky… and worship!”

Psalm 42 is one of my favorite chapters but as I am reading it today, I get a whole new picture.  It started when I looked at the meaning of some of the phrases.  I now see it as the psalmist seeking the face of God (Who He is) and not the hand of God (what He can do for you).  He is battling the fleshly thoughts but then coming back in the Spirit to over shadow what the flesh wants to say.  We all know we are supposed to walk by the Holy Spirit and not by our carnal nature.  That carnal nature is dead in Jesus Christ!  We need to keep it buried and continue to give life to what the Spirit is telling us and showing us!  Praise God who always causes us to triumph in Him! 

Aug. 23 – (Ps. 45-49) There are certain chapters in the Bible that mean so much to an individual.  Chapter 46 is one of them for me.  It begins with confidence that when we’re in trouble, God will always be our refuge.  It then goes on to remind us that in all situations, God IS with us!  Finally, it reminds us that if we quit running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and be still, we will know that God is God, God is good, and God will always work for our good and His glory (Notes from Pastor Torry’s sermon a while back.  

Aug. 24 – (Ps. 50-55) Ps. 50:23 gives us two directives. It shows us how to glorify God and instructs us how to show the salvation of God!

            How does God create a pure heart (Ps. 51)? As you read through this Psalm, write down some specific ways.  Let’s pick one way and ask God to show us where we need to repent.  Repentance means turning away from. “Help us Lord, to have a pure heart.” 

Aug. 25 – (Ps. 56-61) I have another “Life Lesson” from “A Dad’s Blessing” by Gary Smalley and John Trent.  I have sent this before but every time I read it, it gives me renewed courage. 

            Many years ago, Frederick Nolan was fleeing from his enemies during the North African persecution.  Hounded by his pursuers over hill and valley with no place to hide, he fell exhausted into a way side cave where he fully expected to be found.  Awaiting his death, he saw a spider weaving a web.  Within minutes, the little bug had woven a beautiful web across the mouth of the cave.  The pursuers arrived and wondered if Nolan was hiding in there; but they thought it impossible for him to have entered the cave without dismantling the web.   And so, they went on.  Having escaped, Nolan emerged from his hiding place and proclaimed, “Where God is, a spider’s web is like a wall.  Where God is not, a wall is like a spider’s web.   God is our wall of defense.  He is the one who delivers us from those who want to hurt us.  He is the one who gives us the comfort and strength we need to be courageous and to endure the trials and trouble that enter our lives.

Aug. 12-18 Where Are You Walking, Standing, and Sitting?

Aug. 12 – (Job 40-42) We have waded through a rather difficult book of the Bible to understand but now we’re at the happy ending.  Which do you think meant more to Job: seeing God and understanding Him better, or having worldly possessions and health restored to him?  Have you ever had a “type” of experience like this where it was very, very difficult to walk through but the closeness and strength of the Lord was so near and dear, you would experience it again just to get that communion with the Lord? I would say that about several times in my life. This book has reminded me of that time.  

            Did you notice that God’s wrath was aroused at only 3 of Job’s friends?  Why do you think he did not include Elihu?  Hmmm 

Aug. 13 – (Ps. 1-6) An over look of the Book of Psalms: Individual Psalms come from diverse periods of Israel’s history, but at every stage they served as the songbook of God’s people.  David wrote about half of the Psalms. The historical occasions mentioned in the psalm titles help the reader see how faith applies to real-life situations.

            When I read Psalm 1, I am always reminded of a message Pastor Torry gave to the youth when he was the youth pastor.  He focused on verse one.  It has always stuck with me.  He was explaining how teens (and this applies to adults as well) get into areas of lifestyle or choices that draw them away from God. It is a gradual process.  First you walk (you can’t “catch” a lot as you are walking by).  Next you stand (now you can “catch” more as you stay in one place, but you can’t stand forever).  Last you sit (Now you are a captive audience that can “catch” as much as possible.  You can sit for hours and hours).  If we apply that to being with His people and His Word, we get the same results Psalm 1:2 tells us just that!

            Okay let me “fess up”.  I was looking in Google for the reference that came to my mind about meditating on the Word day and night and I saw Joshua 1:8. Then I saw the reference of Ps. 1:2 that says the same thing!  I just hadn’t read far enough.  I hadn’t “walked” far enough into the scripture and sat there!

            This brings me to another whole realm of where we are “sitting” in this day.   How much of our time is actually sitting in a 24-hour period (not counting your job)?  I know TV and video games are a major part of our “sitting” time. What is it we are taking in during all those hours?  I also know that most families don’t sit together to eat meals. This is a great time to speak God’s truths into their lives as you talk about the events of the day!  “God help us to make better choices where we walk, stand, and sit.”

            *2:12 – Kiss the Son = embrace discipline or receive instruction

            *2:12 – lest He be angry = the Lord (“Lord” always speaks of our behavior) (“Christ” speaks of our redemption, “Jesus” speaks of God becoming man) 

Aug. 14 – (Ps. 7-10) What do you think about the Psalms?  Are they just ramblings of an emotional lonely guy or are they someone’s journaling?  How we look at specific scripture will alter what we get out of it. This is true about how we look at life as well.  David had a heart after God. To me, this means David didn’t always “feel” the right emotions, but he communicated them to God and depended on God to set him straight.  Of course, sometimes it took a while (and a prophet or judge) but in the end he submitted his ways to God. 

            I seem to run to the Psalms when I don’t know what to do or think in a certain situation that is looming in my face.  If you looked at my Bible you would see it riddled with short phrases and dates to remind me that God has spoken to me when I needed answers, encouragement, or strength.  I would encourage you (if you don’t already do this) when you recognize Him speaking to you, mark those specific verses as a “remembrance” of His faithfulness! 

            Example (Ps. 10:14 b-18) I have this marked with a time I was praying for a pregnant single young lady (by an emotionally abusive man) who didn’t know where to turn or what to do.  His Word is a living Word for all times! 

Aug. 15 – (Ps. 11-17) Before you read these Psalms, look at the descriptive titles for each.  It helps me to have an idea of what it is about, before I read it.  These Psalms run the gamut of thinking God has just written down your thoughts, to praying for specific people because God has put their names on your heart even as you read that specific description.  I’d love to hear which one meant the most to you.

 Ps. 11-Faith in the Lord’s Righteousness; Ps. 12 – Man’s Treachery and God’s Constancy;

 Ps. 13 – Trust in the Salvation of the Lord; Ps. 14 – Folly of the Godless, and God’s final Triumph; Ps. 15 – The Character of those who may dwell with the Lord; Ps. 16 – The hope of the faithful, and the Messiah’s victory; Ps. 17 – Prayer with confidence in final salvation. 

Aug. 16 – (Ps. 18 – 19) Ps. 18:1-19:14 ~ When we get a better understanding of the actual words printed in the Bible, it really helps us to know God better.  This passage speaks several times about a shield (18:1-3, 30-36).  In some verses, it means God is the shield we hold to protect us from onslaughts of the enemy.  In other verses, it portrays that when we are too weak to hold up God’s shield, HE holds that shield for us.  Doesn’t this just cause you to feel so protected and to praise Him? 

Aug. 17 – (Ps. 20-24) What is a rod?  What was the purpose of a staff? When you know the answers to these questions, you will understand more of the phrase from Psalm 23.  Today I will give you some help.  The rod was used by a shepherd to discipline the sheep.  A staff was used more to guide or to pull them in a different direction.  When God disciplines me or guides me it is for my comfort…. At least eventually!

 Psalm 24:3-5 talks about idols.  What is an idol?  Is it only material?  What truly defines an idol in our life is the place it occupies there.  Any person, thing, or desire that stands in the way of an immediate “YES LORD” to anything He asks, is an idol and must be “cast down”.

            The Solution: Examine yourself.  Ask the question: Is there anything in my life that hinders my obedience to God? Take down that idol in your life by humbling yourself before God and by refusing other interests to rule your heart.  Obviously, this isn’t always an instant fix, but it is a place to begin and begin again, again, again…. however long it takes (Yvonne Peters). The Key to Overcoming: Find a way to win, do not be defeated, and advance into the fullness of your God-given destiny (Chuck Pierce)! 

 Aug. 18 – (Ps. 25-29) Psalm 26 is repeating part of Psalm 1 about walking, standing, and sitting.  This time David is proclaiming that he has taken God’s advice to heart and obeyed (at least at this time). It’s a process isn’t it? We are saved and being saved as we renew our minds.

Aug. 5-11 How Do Rocks Pour Out Oil? (Job 29:6)

Aug. 5 – (Job 20-21) Now another friend, Zophar chimes in.  He joins Bildad in telling about the fate of the wicked.  He assumes that Job is a hypocrite.  Zophar and Bildad mistakenly equated all prosperity with God’s blessings and all suffering with judgment.  They believed a partial truth. Does this sound like the partial truth the serpent spoke to Eve as well?  Write your plan for success in walking with the Lord.  What would you include?  Now substantiate it with scripture.

Aug. 6 – (Job 22-26) Eliphaz exhorted Job to admit that these sufferings resulted from sin, but Job disagreed. He began to question whether or not God had treated him fairly.  Job knew he was righteous before God.  He did wonder why he had been afflicted and if God cared for him.

                Most of us tend to have this idea that since God is sovereign; He’s supposed to make everything work out perfectly.  Nothing is supposed to touch us as long as we’re walking with Him.  I am reminded again of Romans 8:28-29.  God allows suffering to bring us into a closer image of Christ in us. It comforts me to know that He knows all and has his best plan for me.  What I need to do is continually grow in Him and allow that change to take place.  This is a big SELAH! 

 I would love for this to be said of me when I go home to be with Lord (23:10-12). “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  My foot has held fast to His steps.  I have kept His way and not turned aside.  I have not departed from the commandments of His lips.  I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” 

Aug. 7 – (Job 27-29) Up until now, the dialogue between Job and his three friends has followed a pattern in which each speech by Job is followed by responses from the friends in a particular order: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. After two full cycles of the dialogue, it appears that Job is tired of the repetitive nature of his friends’ responses.  He signals the end of the dialogue by cutting Bildad’s third response short and refusing to allow any third speech from Zophar.  Job concludes with a lengthy monologue in which he takes up several themes.  The friends’ presumed knowledge does not necessarily promote justice nor take into consideration the mystery of God’s ways (26:1-14). 

Did you know?  Rocks pouring out streams of oil (29:6) is a reference to olive trees.  They are one of the few trees that thrive in rocky soil.  It can be 10 years or more before an olive tree yields fruit, but then it can produce olives for hundreds of years.  Some olive trees are more than a thousand years old! 

Aug. 8 - (Job 30-31) In chapter 30, Job laments his present life. Who wouldn’t? But is that what God asks of us?  Does this trust God when the worst of the worst happens?

                In chapter 31, Job finishes his speech with a plea that the true character of his life would be revealed and would be properly judged.   

Aug. 9 – (Job 32-34) We now introduce a new speaker, Elihu (He is the only character in Job with a Hebrew name).  He has not spoken until now because he was younger than the others (32:6-22) but when they had no more to say, he felt he needed to impart what he knew.  This is an uninterrupted record of his speeches for the next 6 chapters. Chapters 32-33 involve his intention to speak and an initial challenge to Job.  You will see that Elihu discredits everyone in some way. How does he disagree with what Job has said?  My favorite verse In chapter 34 Elihu calls on “wise men” to hear Job’s contention that he is in the right (vv. 2-9) and “men of understanding” to hear Elihu’s argument against this claim (vv. 10-34).  He presents both groups as those who will agree with Elihu against Job (vv. 35-37). 

My favorite verses here are 33:12-14. “God always answers us one way or another!”  Sometimes we don’t like the answer, or we don’t recognize it, but it is answered none the less!

Aug. 10 – (Job 35-37) In chapter 35, Elihu thinks Job believes that his righteousness entitles him to God’s blessing but Elihu believes that neither faithfulness nor wickedness influences God (vv. 1-8).  In chapters 36-37, we have Elihu saying some really true things about God’s righteousness and majesty, but there are parts in relating that knowledge to a relationship that are still incorrect. He gave a decent answer but only God knows all the facts.  We need to remember this when we are trying to figure out our own lives or trying to “help” a friend with theirs! Selah!   

Aug. 11 – (Job 38-39) In these two chapters the Lord answers Job.  The Lord asks Job whether he knows how creation was established (38:4-11) and if he has the knowledge or ability to govern it (38:12-38) or to shape the lives of its wonderful variety of creatures (38:39-40:2). I love His response to Job in verse 4.  It reminds me of a father answering with love, the whining of his child. It puts all of life back into His perspective and not my own.

                When God speaks, does he reprimand Job and His friends?  How does He show His all-power, all presence, and all-knowledge?  Do you think in this year we can answer His questions better than Job and his friends could?  In the advancement of knowledge, does it bring us to our knees in wonder of the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of God or make us feel more like we are a god?  Selah

July 29-Aug. 4 How Good Is Your Advice?

July 29 - (Est. 5-10) Did you notice that Esther is now acting according to what she received while praying and fasting?  Mordecai is “actively waiting on God”.  There is a time to move and a time to wait.  But waiting on the Lord is not being inactive.  It is doing what is in front of you while waiting and listening for further instructions.  How are you “waiting on the Lord”?

                (8:3-8) Why were the Jewish people still in danger after Haman’s death?  Did you notice that while they killed their enemy, the Israelites did not take any plunder?  There was a purpose even in that.

                A Jewish holiday was born!  The feast of Purim would be held on the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar.  Anyone want to find out how that translates into our calendar?  I don’t think it would be too hard.  What does Pur mean (Est. 9:24)? 

                This passage reminds me that God is always at work in our lives both in times of trials and tribulation and in celebrations of God’s victories in our lives.  It is up to us to choose how much we involve Him in both.  Selah

July 30 – (Job 1-4) The book of Job concerns itself with the question of faith in a sovereign God.  Can God be trusted? Is He good and just in His rule of the world?  The book shows that the reasons for human suffering often remain a secret to human beings.  As we experience our own life with its experiences, we will either lean in and trust God that He is in control or working things for our good and His glory or we give up (in some measure) trusting Him and begin trusting ourselves or something else.  This will become our idol we worship and trust in. 

July 31 – (Job 5-7) How would you have handled the “help” of your friends?  It is obvious that Job was not a “people pleaser”.  Yay for him! He had a strong faith in God and trusted Him beyond measure.  Maybe it’s my personality but I probably would have second guessed myself.  I guess he has by the end of this passage but what conclusion does he come to? 

            Chapter 7 verse 17 “What is man, that you make so much of him…” reminds me of Ps. 8:4 (What is man that you are mindful of him…”).  However, where Psalm 8 marvels at how humanity has been crowned with glory by God., Job is seeing God as the “great policeman” waiting to punish him when he sins.  When you are in a very hard situation how do you see God’s involvement in your life? Let’s see what tomorrow’s reading brings. 

Aug. 1 – (Job. 8-10) Bildad told Job that his children had died because they sinned against God. He believed if Job repented God would restore his wealth.  Not all friends’ advice is worth heeding.  Be careful to choose counselors that who can listen as well as advice. 

            Have you ever disobeyed your father and expected that he would love you less only to realize his love remained the same?  That is God’s love.  What we do or don’t do, never changes His love for us! It’s not normal to love a murderer and adulterer but God did when he loved David.  It isn’t normal to love a man whose wealth and power caused Solomon to take his eyes off God, but God did. It isn’t normal to love people who love stone idols more than they love you, but God did when He refused to give up on Israel.  God will not stop loving you no matter what you choose to do.

            I heard a teaching about God’s love.  They cited “And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:27-29).  The thought conveyed here was Esau was loved because of what he had done while Jacob was loved because of who he was.  It has caused me to ponder this from many perspectives.  Selah 

Aug. 2 – (Job. 11-13) Now another friend speaks.  Zophar tries to convince Job that his trouble stems from a hidden sin and that God is punishing him for that sin.  As I was reading, it reminds me of the Pharisee, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortion, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector” (Luke 18:10-12).  Let’s be careful in helping our “friends” that we don’t fall into this pit as well.   

Aug. 3 – (Job. 14-16) Eliphaz now gives his two cents. (Is it even worth that?)  He argues that suffering resulted from Job’s sin. Job responds with hurt and grief at his friends’ harsh words.  Suffering is never easy to understand, but because Eliphaz thought suffering resulted in sin he could not comfort his friend.  As I think about that I wonder how my distorted beliefs have sabotaged comfort I was trying to give friends who were suffering. I remember one person who got very angry at my “comfort”.  I realize now that I would have wanted to hear what I said if I were in that circumstance, but they had a totally different view.  Do I give up in trying to comfort my friends? No, but I will try harder to adjust my beliefs to more accurately show God’s love, grace and mercy the next time I open my mouth!  Selah 

Aug. 4 – (Job 17-19) Because Job rejected Bildad’s advice, Bildad grew frustrated.  He told Job of a horrible fate of sinners.  Job firmly believed that in the end God would vindicate him because of his innocence.    Job listened to his friend even though he knew Bildad was incorrect. Only when Bildad was finished speaking did Job answer.

             What is your first response to criticism?  Are you one who jumps in and “corrects” them, or do you immediately get hurt and retreat or shut down?  Ask God to help you listen with interest.  It is important to take criticism, evaluate it, and apply what God may be convicting you about and helpful.  Then discard what feels like condemnation as that is not from God and not helpful. Depend on the Holy Spirit to help you discern what is from Him and what is not!  SELAH!

            I love the title for chapter 19 in my Bible: Job Replies: My Redeemer Lives!  If we can just preface all of life’s messes with this statement!  SELAH!!

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” 


            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 


            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 


            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.