Scripture reading for May 22nd: 2nd Samuel 15-16, Psalms 3, 63, Romans 1
Key Scriptures: Romans 1:28-32 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strive, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
Paul’s opening to his letter to the Roman church began with an explanation of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save those who by faith would believe. He explained that the Gospel was for Jews first and then for Gentiles. However, for those who refused to believe, consequences would inevitably come upon their lives as they turned toward darkness instead of the Gospel light. Choices have consequences and rejecting God’s Word leads to all forms of evil and death.
Psalm 3:3 “But You, O Lord, are a Shield about me, my Glory and the Lifter of my head.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I know the power of the Gospel personally in that I have been born again and believe on Jesus Christ. Give me grace to boldly declare the powerful Gospel in clarity and the anointing that comes from the Holy Spirit so that none would be turned over by God!
2nd Samuel 16:13 “So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust.”
Scripture reading for January 27th: Exodus 21-24
We sometimes laugh when our young children defiantly disobey. When our adopted daughters were first released from the orphanage to come with us, they were so cute! But on one of our first outings, we were waiting to cross the street and cars were speeding by. After warning them, one of them (name withheld to protect the innocent!) stuck her foot out towards the street and looked up mischievously to see what we might do! Mary and I had a good laugh but realized that we had a job ahead of us!
Sin entered mankind through Eve’s deception by the serpent and through the disobedience of Adam. God had warned them not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told them they would die if they did. Sin broke connection with God and brought heartache and death!
Some of the laws and the penalty for breaking them remind us of the “deadliness” of sin! The penalty for attacking father or mother or cursing them was death. (Exodus 21:15,17) If a man owned a bull that was known to gore others and he did not restrain this animal and a person was killed, the bull and the owner would die! (Exodus 21:28-29) A sorceress must be put to death! (Exodus 22:18) Anyone having sexual relations with an animal must die! (Exodus 22:19) Anyone who took advantage of an orphan or a widow would die if that orphan or widow cried out to the Lord! (Exodus 22:22-24) Our God is compassionate and protective! (Exodus 22:26-27)
God is compassionate but loves us enough to confront sin. He knows it’s deadly: it cost Him the life of His Son! As parents, we must love our children enough to discipline them and teach them that sin is no laughing matter. We should give them clear instructions about sin and it’s consequences and discipline them to fear a holy God and obey in love.
“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good that we might share in His holiness.” Hebrews 12:10
Scripture reading for August 14th: Jeremiah 40-45
“Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest approached Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.” Jeremiah 42:1-3
These Jews were scared and feared the wrath of Babylon because their Babylonian appointed leader, Gedaliah, had been assassinated. They were thinking about fleeing to Egypt but decided to seek a word from the Lord. They approached Jeremiah and asked him to pray for them to “your God”. People often ask spiritual leaders for a word, but not necessarily so they can obey!
After this group promised Jeremiah to abide faithfully by God’s word, he agreed to seek Him. They said the right words and seemed so sincere. (Jeremiah 42:5-6) As Jeremiah prayed over their request, ten days passed before the answer came. He called the Jews together to hear the Lord’s directions. If they would stay in the land, God would plant them and build them up. He would protect them from the King of Babylon and show them great compassion. (Jeremiah 42:10-12) However, if they did not obey and chose to go down to Egypt, what they feared would overtake them and they would surely die by the sword, famine and plague! (Jeremiah 42:13-18) Just to help them out, Jeremiah emphasized the right choice, “Do not go to Egypt.” (Jeremiah 42:19)
However, their words and actions were not really sincere because their hearts were not right with the Lord. They had no fear of the Lord or His holy word. They accused the prophet of lying and chose to do their own thing! (Jeremiah 43:2-7) They gathered everyone and headed for Egypt! Why would a people who knew God’s word and the penalty for disobedience choose to disobey and die?
As you think about this story today, examine your own life and check out your heart. Are you seeking the Lord to hear His word and obey? Or are you just curious about how He thinks? Knowing truth means responsibility to act!
Scripture reading for August 9th: Jeremiah 26-29
It takes discernment to hear the voice of God. What sounds good is not always truth and only truth will make us free! In Jeremiah 28 we have a story that always makes me stop and consider what I might have done as I listened to these two prophets share. One had a message of victory and hope, and the other a message of judgment and captivity. One message was true and the other was false. God allowed the contest to take place in the temple of the Lord in front of the priests and all the people. After the messages were given, the people had to decide which one to believe. Were they to prepare for captivity or deliverance?
In the fifth month of the fourth year of King Zedekiah, all the people were gathered with the priests in the temple. Hananiah, a prophet from Gibeon spoke to Jeremiah in front of all the people. Jeremiah had been wearing a wooden yoke around his neck for a long time telling the people of their coming captivity. Hananiah spoke that within two years, God would remove the yoke of the Babylonians and Judah would be free. To illustrate that message, he took the yoke off Jeremiah and broke it in front of the people. (Jeremiah 28:1-4,10-11)
Jeremiah responded initially with an ‘amen’ to the message. But he added some prophetic insight. Most prophets are sent to warn of coming disaster and turn the people back to God. This prophecy of peace will only be from the Lord if it actually happened. (Jeremiah 28:6-9)
Jeremiah went his way and then the Lord spoke to him to go back with a word for Hananiah. He was to tell Hananiah that he was not sent by the Lord and that his prophecy was not true. God was going to remove the wooden yoke and place an iron yoke on his rebellious people. Hananiah would die because he preached rebellion against the Lord!
How would you decide which was true? In time, the truth became apparent. In the seventh month, three months later, Hananiah died! Please take time today to thank God for His word and the blessing of knowing the truth. Ask Him for discernment in these last days that you will not be deceived by messages that simply make you feel good but are not of God!
Scripture reading for April 7th: 1st Kings 13-16
“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32
Old people are often marginalized in today’s world. This is not something new, for apparently Solomon’s son Rehoboam also discounted the advice of the elders of his day. When we disregard or disrespect those who have life experience and wisdom, we do so to our own peril!
Rehoboam became king. His mother was an Ammonite, one of Solomon’s many wives. Solomon had accumulated great wealth through forced labor and excessive taxation. The people appealed to Rehoboam to lighten the burden and harsh yoke of his father and they would serve him. He had decisions to make and wisely consulted the elders. (1st Kings 12:4-7) They advised him to serve the people and lighten the yoke on them. But Rehoboam rejected this good advice.
He next consulted his peers, young men he grew up with and who served him. These peers advised him to answer the people with harshness and more taxes. The new king refused to listen to the people or the elders and instead took the advice of his peers. This divided the people and fulfilled the Word of the Lord to Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah. (1st Kings 12:13-16)
In the mean time, Jeroboam returned from Egypt and was made king over Israel. Only the tribe of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to David’s house. Rehoboam mustered an army, but was warned by a prophetic word from Shemaiah to not fight against his brothers. Rehoboam wisely obeyed this time but Israel became a divided kingdom.
This passage of Scripture reminds us of the importance of having ears to hear the voice of the Lord. God is always ready to speak to us, if we are willing to listen. Our hearts can easily be led astray by sin and selfish ways. We often find that those most easy to receive from are those we agree with. The younger generation often does not value the advice of the older.
Ask the Lord to help you with discerning His voice today. Identify an “elder” God has placed in your life who has been a source of wisdom for you. Thank the Lord for that person today. Call that person and thank them for their wisdom.