Monday, November 7, 2016

JESUS' BAPTISM

THIS IS MY SON


"...'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." John 1:33-34 NIV
* * *
     John had not met Jesus as an adult before the day of His baptism. He said of Him, "I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." (John 1:33-34) When the Spirit came down in the form of a dove, a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:16-17 NIV

     John was not in the center of Jesus' earthly ministry, or even His early life. He was given the special task of calling people to repent before Jesus came. His ministry was brief in years and yet so important it was prophesied hundreds of years before he lived.
* * *
     Lord, we have a limited time, perhaps 18 years to influence our children. But we have all the time we need to do Your perfect will. Help us to make the most of the opportunity and remember the priority of loving them and leading them to You.
* * *
    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 NIV

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

JOHN THE BAPTIST PREPARES THE WAY

THE LAST OLD TESTAMENT PROPHET

Read: Luke 3:1–20

     Finally they said, "Who are you? . . . "John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord."  John 1:22–23 NIV (Isaiah 40:3)

* * *
    John the Baptist was the last prophet preceding the coming of Messiah. He knew from the time he was a child that God had special plans for his life. No doubt, his parents prepared him as they told him of Gabriel's message to Zechariah, "And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17)
* * *
     We, like John, have a special purpose for living. As believers, our primary purpose is to glorify God with our lives. John was a special called-out prophet, but we believers are also called to be conformed to the image of Christ. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son… (Romans 8:29 NKJV)
* * *
     Lord, may our lives be more and more like Yours as we look into the mirror of Your Word.
* * *
     John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." Luke 3:16 NKJV

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

THE BOY JESUS

A MOTHER'S HEART

Read Luke 2:39–52


     After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. Luke 2:46-47 NIV
* * *
    Mary and Joseph were busily talking with their friends on the way to Nazareth, knowing that they didn't have to check on their son, Jesus. But when they could not find him a day's journey out, they were understandably concerned.
     When they finally found him, Mary was distraught and she said to him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously." And He said to them,
     "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. (Luke 2:48–50 NKJV)
     This exchange between mother and Son was, at least in part, a fulfillment of Simeon's words to Mary, "And a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2:35) Mary spoke of "your father and I", and Jesus spoke of "My Father," and they didn't understand.
* * *
     Lord, help me to see the eternal significance of Your plan for my family, even when I don't understand. Give us a sensitivity to Your leading in our lives and the lives of our children.
* * *
    Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51 NIV

Saturday, July 9, 2016

SUMMER, 2016

      As we observe this season of patriotic holidays, Memorial Day and Independence Day, I am reminded of the words the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
     “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)
     In these days of threatening events from without and within our country, God calls us to pray for our leaders. No matter if we agree or strongly disagree with the direction they are taking us, we must above all pray so that we can lead quiet, peaceable, godly lives, sharing the truth of the Gospel whenever we can.
* * *
     I want to remember to thank the Lord every time I exercise my freedom to worship openly with other believers. I do thank Him for the opportunity through the internet to post devotional blogs that reach individuals all over the world. In the eight years that I have been posting through-the-Bible devotions on several networks, I have had the opportunity to dialogue one on one with believers and unbelievers, sharing my own personal response on Scripture passages - what a blessing this has been.

* * *
     If you have been following these devotional readings, you know that we have covered selected passages in each of the Old Testament books from Genesis through Malachi. I hope this simple focus on the lives of real people who lived in Bible times has encouraged you to read further and go deeper in your own study of Scripture, for I have only scratched the surface of the deep riches in His Word. 
     I will be taking a break during the early summer months to read, write and focus on the Lord’s leading for this particular season of our lives. I will begin posting New Testament devotions later this summer. I know you too are looking forward to having kids home from school, vacations and time with extended family. Have a wonderful, safe and enjoyable summer season.


In Christ,
Charlotte

Monday, May 9, 2016

UNITY IN THE LORD

MALACHI

Read Malachi 1–4

      Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.    Malachi 2:15 NIV
* * *
      Malachi prophesied about 85 years after the temple was rebuilt. The kingdom of Judah had fallen into serious sin. The priests offered unacceptable sacrifices and kept back their tithes from the Lord and the people had turned from the Lord to idols and divorced their Hebrew wives for pagan women.
     In spite of this travesty, there were still the faithful few who followed God, of whom he said, "Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name." (3:16)
* * *
     Lord, is there a scroll of remembrance with our names written on it? How comforting it is to know that as we gather together with other believers in our homes and churches–You listen and hear. I pray that each member of our family will remain faithful and continue to fellowship with other believers throughout their lives, bringing honor to Your name.
* * *
      "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5–6 NIV

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

MALACHI TO MATTHEW

THE SILENT YEARS

As we come to the book of Malachi I have been thinking about the 400 years between this last book of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, called by some the “Silent Years.” During these years nations were toppled and replaced, and by the time Jesus was born, Rome was in control.

Great upheaval in political and economic events of the times probably left the Jews feeling forgotten by God. But God surely did not forget and one day in His perfect time a virgin brought forth her firstborn Son and laid Him in a manger, just as the prophet Isaiah had foretold: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 KJV

Today our nation is changing in ways we never expected. Threatened from without and within, some may wonder if God has forgotten us. Books on prophesy are suddenly in great demand as believers see signs on the horizon that Jesus may soon return. Many scoff as Peter foretold saying "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

But just as in those 400 “silent years” God is at work today preparing to fulfill His promise: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

So as we come to the book of Malachi, I find myself identifying with the believers who were living in those difficult times. Malachi writes: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them...” (Malachi 3:16a) Through these devotional readings and your comments, those of us who fear the Lord will speak to one another and believe that God listens and hears.
* * *
Lord, today I claim the promise: "So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels.’ " (Malachi 3:16-17)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A PURSE WITH HOLES IN IT


HAGGAI

Read
Haggai 1

     Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." Haggai 1:5–6 NIV

* * *
     It had been 15 years since the people of Judah had begun to rebuild the temple, but the work had ceased because they were too busy with their own affairs. The Lord, through the prophet Haggai said, "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" (1:4)
     The people, no doubt, were struggling in a broken down economy trying to build up the infrastructure of their city. In the busyness of it all, their priorities had slipped.
     So the Lord said, "Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified…You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the LORD of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house." (1:7-9 NKJV)
* * *
     Forgive us Lord when we become overly concerned with earning wages to furnish and maintain our houses. As necessary as those activities are, they are not as important as ministering in our families and churches. Give us a balance that brings glory to You and encouragement to other believers.
* * *
     And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV

Friday, April 1, 2016

AN UNWILLING MESSENGER

JONAH

Read Jonah 1–4

      But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17 NIV
* * *
      In this story, God commanded Jonah to do something no other Jewish prophet had been asked to do–to go to a pagan city to pronounce judgment. The city of Nineveh, Assyria, was founded by the infamous Nimrod who built the tower of Babel. Earlier prophets, Amos and Hosea, had prophesied that Assyria would carry Israel off into captivity, so it is understandable that Jonah would balk at being asked to preach to Israel's sworn enemy.

      But it seems that Jonah had no choice. God decided to offer mercy to a Gentile city and Jonah would be the messenger–willing or not. Thousands of years later, both Jews and Gentiles (non–Jews) are recipients of this same mercy and grace. God truly cares about people of every nation and tongue who will repent and believe on Him.
* * *
      Lord, thank you that You loved me before I even knew about You. Give me a love for other people and forgive me for any hesitancy in sharing my faith. I am so glad that someone took the time to share the gospel message with me.
* * *
      "Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left… Should I not be concerned about that great city?" Jonah 4:11 NIV

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A FAITHFUL MAN

DANIEL IN THE LIONS' DEN

Read Daniel 6


     "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" Daniel 6:20 NIV


* * *
     This is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible, along with stories like Noah's Ark and David and Goliath–but it is far more than a children's bedtime story. It’s the story of a man who served God continually from the time he was a teenager–taken into Babylonian captivity–until he was a very old man serving Darius, the king of the Medes and Persians.

     No matter what the circumstance, Daniel was faithful to his God. His crime in this story was that he prayed and gave thanks before his God three times a day, as was his custom since early days. (6:10b NKJV) Daniel–a man who seldom had control of his circumstances– served a God who was always in control of his circumstances. This is an amazing truth that most of us find hard to absorb.

* * *
     Lord, I am not likely to face a fiery furnace or hungry lions, but I still struggle to remember who controls my life and the lives of those I love. May it be said of us, like Daniel, “they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful;” (Daniel 6:4b NKJV) 
* * *
     Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king." Daniel 6:21–22 NIV

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

ARROGANCE AND GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY

FATHER AND SON

Read Daniel 4–5

      Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Daniel 4:37 NIV
* * *
      This passage in Daniel tells the story of two kings– Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar. They were both guilty of pride and arrogance, but Nebuchadnezzar repented of his pride and glorified the ‘King of heaven.’ 

     Even though Belshazzar knew about his father's experience, he chose to blaspheme God. Daniel said to him, "You his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven…You did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways." (5:22–23) 
* * *
      If there is a major theme in the book of Daniel it is that we have a sovereign God who is in charge of the events of history and the lives of men. What He says will surely come to pass. Lord, how privileged I am that the sovereign God of the Bible is also my personal Savior. I praise You for all You have done in my life already and all you have planned for the future. May I never fail to give praise and honor to you.
* * *
      Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two. Daniel 5:29–31 NIV

Saturday, November 28, 2015

SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO

THE FIERY FURNACE

Read Daniel 3


    “there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon–Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego–who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:12 NIV
* * *
    Daniel's three friends refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold, even though the penalty was death in a fiery furnace. But before this ultimate test of their loyalty to God, they had already passed smaller tests.      Their refusal to eat the king's food during their training period had resulted in God's blessing and protection. 
     Now in this greater test they remained faithful saying, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."  (3:17–18)
* * *
     Dear Lord, You have said that “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10 NKJV) Help us to teach our children that little matters of obedience are very important. Then when the bigger tests of faithfulness and loyalty come along, they will be prepared. Lord, help us to be examples of faithfulness in the little things, as well.
* * *
     "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God." 
Daniel 3:28 NIV

Saturday, November 14, 2015

KING OF KINGS

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM

Read Daniel 2


    “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.   Daniel 2:19b–21 NIV
* * *
     When Daniel was still young, God gave him the ability to interpret dreams. No one could tell King Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was, or what it meant, until Daniel asked his three friends “to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” God answered by revealing the mystery to Daniel in a night vision. (2:18-19)
    God’s revelation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a giant statue contained a message with far reaching significance…even to our day and beyond. Before Daniel even attempted to give the interpretation, he praised the name of God who is in control of all things. He told the king, “The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory…You are that head of gold.” (2:37-38)
     When we look at what is happening in our world today, particularly in the Middle East, it is easy to despair of ever seeing a peaceful resolution. But this prophesy to the King of Babylon, speaks of a future kingdom ruled by the King of Kings–Jesus the Messiah–where nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4b)
* * *
     I praise You Lord, that You are the God who sets up kings and presidents–We can trust You in the days and years ahead.
* * *
     "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.  Daniel 2:44 NIV

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

DANIEL AND FRIENDS

COURAGE TO DO RIGHT

Daniel 1

     Then the king ordered the chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility- Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. Daniel 1:3, 6-7 NIV
* * *
     King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon chose some of the best and brightest young men of Judah to serve in his palace. Although they were treated well in comparison to other captives, they were not free to do as they pleased. In spite of this, these four young men refused to eat food that their Jewish law prohibited. They could have been killed for this, but God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel. (1:9)
     The guard the official appointed over them allowed the four to refrain from eating the king’s food for ten days. Daniel and his friends obeyed God at great risk, and God honored their obedience. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. (Daniel 1:15)
* * *
     Lord, help us to raise sons and daughters who, like Daniel and his friends, will stand up for what they believe. Help our children to have courage and do right even when it would be easier to do wrong. May our lives set an example that they can follow.
* * *
     In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. Daniel 1:20 NIV

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

HUNGER AND THIRST


HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

Read Isaiah 55; John 4:10-42, 7:37-39

     "Surely you will summon nations you know not and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy one of Israel…" Isaiah 55:5 NIV

* * *
     Here, Isaiah is speaking of Israel's future; prophesying that other nations will join them in worshiping Messiah. God has a future plan and a hope for all who will trust in Him. He says, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)
     Through Isaiah, God told them, "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:2)
     Hundreds of years later Jesus would say, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
* * *
     Lord, this morning I come to You, hungry for the Bread of Life, and thirsty for Living Water. Bless this reading of Your Word for You have said, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (55:9) As I prepare meals for my family help me to serve with a thankful heart that because of You, we "delight in the richest of fare."
* * *
     "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!"   Isaiah 55:1 NIV

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

MESSIAH PROMISED

TAUGHT BY THE LORD

Read Isaiah 52–54


     "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” Isaiah 53:6

    “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities. " Isaiah 53:11 NIV

* * *
    Isaiah 53 contains the most detailed prophesies in the Old Testament describing the Messiah's suffering, death and resurrection. Written hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth; its accuracy should reassure us of the trustworthiness of God’s Word. At this time, the prophesied 70 years of captivity had been fulfilled and Isaiah prepared the people to go back to their land. God promised them,      
    “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (54:10)
     Isaiah prophesied of a future day when Messiah would set up His kingdom in Jerusalem and all would be made right. In that day, he told them, "All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace." (54:13)
* * *
     Dear Father, I look forward to that coming day when everyone will be taught by the Lord in Your kingdom, but for now Lord, help us to be faithful in teaching our sons and daughters Your Word, and modeling obedience in our own lives.
* * *
    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…" Deuteronomy 11:18a,19 NIV

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

PEACE LIKE A RIVER

I WILL NOT FORGET YOU

Read Isaiah 48–49


     "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go." Isaiah 48:17 NIV
* * *
     God, through Isaiah's prophesy of deliverance from Babylon, reminds the captives of His absolute sovereignty in their lives. He would soon raise up Cyrus, king of Persia to overthrow Babylon and help the Israelites return to their land. Of Cyrus He says, “I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission.” (48:15)

     The Lord reminds them that if they had been obedient, they would not have been carried off to Babylon in the first place. He says, "If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. (48:18)
* * *
     Most Holy Father, You are the One in control of our lives. Above all, I want my children to know and obey God; for I know that You love them even more than I do. You have promised through Isaiah, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (49:15)
* * *
     "See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Isaiah 49:22 NIV
     I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Isaiah 49:6b NIV

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

HEWILL NOT GROW WEARY


HOPE AND STRENGTH

Read Isaiah 40

     The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:28b–29 NIV

* * *
    This highly prophetic chapter was a message of comfort for God's people held captive in Babylon. Isaiah prophesied the return of the Jews to Jerusalem - but far beyond that day - he tells of the coming Messiah:
     "Here is your God! See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power…See, his reward is with him…He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (40:9b–11)
     How amazing that this loving Shepherd is also the everlasting God, the powerful Creator of the earth.

* * *
    Oh Lord, how grateful I am that you stop to gather the lambs in Your arms. I claim the promise that You gently lead those who have young, and carry us close to your heart. I look to You for direction and renewed strength. My prayer is that our children will hope in the Lord and soar on wings like eagles, even as they leave the nest.
* * *
     Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:30–31 NIV

Friday, June 19, 2015

MEANINGLESS RULES

Read Isaiah 28:1–16

     "Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there–so that they will go and fall backward… "Isaiah 28:13 NIV
* * *
     Isaiah is reprimanding the priests and prophets of his day for teaching rules, while living a sinful life. They were not representing the rest, trust and personal relationship that God wanted from His people. He says of these leaders, "Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast?" (28:9) 

     The apostle Paul echoes this in Hebrews; "You have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. " (Hebrews 5:12b-13 NKJV) God was looking for righteous lives, not a legalistic memorizing of rules they never kept.
* * *
     Lord, I pray that my life will be an example of following You, not just adhering to the rules that men have made. As we must establish the rules of living in our home, help us to do it in a way that will communicate our love for You and for our children. When we must discipline them, give us the wisdom to be consistent and do it right.
* * *
      All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work2 Timothy 3:16–17 NKJV

Friday, June 12, 2015

PERFECT PEACE

Read Isaiah 26:1–12

      You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 NIV

* * *
     Throughout history men have searched for peace which always seems to elude them. Isaiah speaks of a future day of peace when Jesus will rule and reign on earth: He says, “Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith.” (26:2)
     We are still waiting for a nation that keeps faith, but we do not have to wait to experience His peace – it is a gift given to us when we trust in the Lord. The confidence that God is our Rock, the ultimate in stability, brings peace to the soul.
     Isaiah writes, “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” (26:4) If we are going to accomplish anything of eternal value in our lives, it will be by trusting Him. 
* * *
     Lord, help us to rest patiently in faith as we wait for Your perfect plan for our lives. You have been faithful to us in the past and like Isaiah we can say, "LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." (26:12)
* * *
      Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.   Isaiah 26:8 NIV

Friday, May 15, 2015

ISAIAH THE PROPHET

GOD WITH US

Read Isaiah 7:10-14, 9:1-7; Matthew 1:18-2:6


     All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:22–23 NIV
* * *
     The book of Isaiah was written about 700 years before Christ was born and is filled with prophesies about the coming Messiah. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Joseph, he quoted Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Jesus would be called, "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6b)
* * *
     Isaiah prophesied that this Holy Child would live "In Galilee of the Gentiles.” saying, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined." (Isaiah 9:1b-2 NKJV)
* * *
     Dear Lord, You truly are my Wonderful Counselor and I am so thankful that the light of the gospel has shined on me. Just as Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus, help me to tell the good news wherever I go, especially to members of my family. Keep me faithful in reading Your Word so that I will have something fresh to share with my family and friends.
* * *
     For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NIV

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"THIS IS THE GIFT OF GOD"


SATISFACTION IN WORK

Read Ecclesiastes 11–12

     Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV
* * *
     When Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, he was old and looking back on his selfish life. With his God-given wisdom still intact, he looks at all of his achievements and comes to an interesting conclusion: "I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God." (3:12-13)
     He encourages young men to seek God early in life, saying, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come–“(12:1 NKJV) Solomon discovered that wisdom without God's blessing is meaningless. He said, "All things are wearisome, more than one can say… What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again." (1:8-10)
* * *
     Lord, help me to resist this attitude toward my daily responsibilities. Perhaps if I pray for each family member as I fold clothes, the task of laundry won't seem so endless. Thank you for the gift of children and a husband who sits at our table each evening. Help me to serve them with a joyful spirit, remembering that “this is the gift of God.”
* * *
     Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God.   Ecclesiastes 5:19 NIV

Monday, April 6, 2015

THE BEAUTIFUL HOME

BEAUTIFUL TREASURES

Read
Proverbs 24

     By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3–4 NIV
* * *
     Throughout the Proverbs of Solomon, he refers to wisdom as treasure to be eagerly sought out and cultivated. He said, “Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you…” (24:14)
* * *
     There is no better place for wisdom to grow than in our Christian homes. The beautiful home will be furnished with more than lovely possessions. True riches, if nurtured, will dwell in the hearts of our children. First, we must seek wisdom for ourselves as parents, cultivating our love for each other and the Lord; then we will have an abundance of treasure to share with our children. This is a lifelong process, but the time we have to invest in our children is all too short.
* * *
     Lord, help us to cultivate the fields of our own hearts so that we will have a harvest of treasures to bring into our home. Help us to remember that "By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4 NKJV) Give us love for each other and the wisdom we need to lead our children in the ways of the Lord.
* * *
     Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Proverbs 24:27 NIV

Thursday, March 19, 2015

LESSONS FROM BATHSHEBA

THE NOBLE WOMAN

Read Proverbs 31


      A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her… Proverbs 31:10–11a NIV
* * *
      This chapter contains words of wisdom, probably from Solomon's mother, though she calls him Lemuel, meaning, "Devoted to God." Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba, and she would have instructed him, knowing the painful consequences of promiscuity. She used this Hebrew acrostic poem as a tool to teach him how to choose a godly wife. As a king, he could seek out the most beautiful woman in the land, but Solomon's mother reminds him that "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." (31:30)
* * *
      Lord, help us to be examples of the kind of woman You want our sons to choose. Bathsheba said, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies . . . She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”(31:10, 26)
     Give us the right words in instructing our daughters to be loving, faithful wives. Protect our children from the temptations of this sexually charged culture, and may they become godly men and women, honoring to You.
* * *
      Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Proverbs 31:28-29 NIV

Monday, February 9, 2015

SUBSTANCE ABUSE


WARNINGS TO A SON

Read Proverbs 23
     Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. Proverbs 23:22–23 NIV
* * *
     Proverbs 23 has a lengthy section warning of the consequences of substance abuse. Solomon counsels, “Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,” (Proverbs 23:19–20) We live in a day when churches are no longer talking about the dangers of alcohol. As a result, even Christian homes are dealing with this problem. Drugs are illegal, yet easily accessible for many young people. Children are developing alcohol problems at an early age, as there is less and less supervision at home.
* * *
     Oh Father, this is a problem I wish we didn't have to be concerned about, but even as Christians, we do. Help us to be an example of self control in these matters, realizing that “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” (Romans 14:21) Help us to communicate our own convictions with clarity, so that our sons and daughters will want to live a pure and holy life.
* * *
     The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!   Proverbs 23:24–25 NIV

Friday, January 23, 2015

TRAIN UP A CHILD

Read Proverbs 22      Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.   Proverbs 22:6 NKJV
* * *
      Many Christians today want to explain away this proverb because all too often the children of believers do turn away from what they have been taught. But then, perhaps all or most of the training today comes from unbelieving teachers, television, internet or peers. How many parents actually sit down with their children for extended instruction like Solomon is giving his son in this book?  
       Solomon tells his son that this practical teaching is so that he will learn to trust the Lord. He says, “Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you.” (22:17-19)
* * *
      Lord, help us to set aside the time to speak eye to eye with our children about all of the issues of life; and may this teaching be in accord with your perfect Holy Word. Help us to wisely discipline our children as you have said,    "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." (22:15) But most of all give us the wisdom to faithfully teach our children “in the way they should go.”
* * *
     "Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge; that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you? "    Proverbs 22:20–21 NKJV

Saturday, January 10, 2015

LISTENING CAREFULLY

DEEP WATERS

Read Proverbs 20
    The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. Proverbs 20:5 NIV
* * *
    In a warning about the dangers of gossip, Solomon tells his son to "avoid a man who talks too much." (20:19) But he also stresses the value of drawing a quiet man out, because that person may have valuable observations to make. Solomon observes, "Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel." (20:15)
     Sometimes that rare jewel may be on the lips of a child, for God says that even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. (20:11) The Psalmist prophesied, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise” (Psalm 8:2)
* * *
     Lord, help me to stop long enough to draw out a quiet friend or child. Help me to listen closely and then encourage that person to share her heart. God cares about my innermost thoughts, for “the lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.” (20:27) and I should care enough to listen carefully to what someone has to say.
* * *
“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”   Matthew 18:4–5 NKJV

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ANSWERING BEFORE LISTENING

LISTENING EARS

Read
Proverbs 18–19

     Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. Proverbs 19:27 NIV
* * *
     Solomon continues to speak to his son about guarding his tongue and using his ears: "A fool," he says, “finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (18:2)
     He goes on to say, “He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame.” (18:13) “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” (18:17)
* * *
     To make a wise judgment, both parents and children need to listen carefully, because “the heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” (18:15)
* * *
     Dear Lord, I know that I am guilty of answering before listening. As a busy mother/grandmother it is easy to jump into a matter between my children and make a judgment based on what seems obvious. Help me to listen for the underlying hurt, anger or frustration in my grandchildren. Give me an understanding heart, and the patience to teach them to “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” (19:20)
* * *
     Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.   Proverbs 23:12

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A PLACE OF REFUGE

THE SECURE HOUSE
 Proverbs Chapters 13–14

     In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. Proverbs 14:26 NKJV
* * *
     Solomon started out well because of the instruction he received from his parents and the wisdom he received from God. As we will see, he did not finish well because he gave in to the culture of the nations surrounding him. His desire to ‘have it all’ corrupted his worship of God.
      Late in life, King Solomon expressed the futility of a self‑indulgent lifestyle. He said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” (14:12-13)
* * *
     Like Solomon, we face pressures in our homes because of the wickedness of our culture. The overt idolatry that brought Solomon down is not exactly the same; but there are many influences that are deadly to the purity and sanctity of our homes.
     Lord, help us to build up, encourage and invest ourselves in our families. Solomon said that "those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." (14:22b) The influences we allow in our homes, and the people we associate with, all have an impact on our children. Give us kind words, uplifting activities, and faithfulness–the building blocks of a secure home and a godly life.
* * *
     The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 NIV
     The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27 NIV

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WORDS MATTER

RECKLESS OR HEALING WORDS

Read
Proverbs Chapters 12–13

       From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.     Proverbs 12:14 NIV
* * *
      Whether they are uplifting or demeaning, words affect the quality of our lives. Solomon wrote, "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult." (12:16) An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (12:25)
     Words matter because they reflect the condition of our hearts– Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”(Matthew 12:34b-35 NKJV)
* * *
      Lord, I pray that You will help me to guard my lips for You have said, "He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." (Proverbs 13:3) I know that the example I set before my children will profoundly affect their attitudes. Help me to be diligent in teaching them that words matter, and that there is great satisfaction in being a kind, encouraging person.
* * *
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 NIV

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A WISE CHILD

      Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. Proverbs 9:9 NIV
* **
     In these selected proverbs, Solomon is teaching his son the importance of diligence and obedience. He says “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.” (10:1)
     Solomon contrasts diligence with laziness in the example of the farmer's son; "He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son." (10:5)
     He teaches his son that listening is an important part of learning. As Solomon aptly puts it, "The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin."(10:8) He warns, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (10:19)
* * *
     Lord, help us to follow your guidelines in training and disciplining our children. Give us the proper balance of love and discipline, as we teach our children to be respectful and willing to learn. Help us also to encourage their efforts by not being overly critical. Grant us patience as they grow in knowledge–as You have been patient with us.
* * *
     "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy one is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life."  Proverbs 9:10–11 NIV

Thursday, July 31, 2014

INFLUENCE OF A PARENT

GUIDANCE
Read Proverbs 3–4

      Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5–6 NKJV
* * *
      The wisest thing that Solomon ever did was to acknowledge his own limitations and ask God for wisdom. There is a reason why Solomon knew he needed to do this: He says, When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:3–4a, 7 NIV) Solomon heeded his father David's sound advice, and asked God for a wise and discerning heart, which God was more than happy to give.
* * *
      We cannot overestimate the importance of our influence on our children. Both good and bad kings in the Bible were influenced by their parents. David started teaching a very young Solomon that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, and as a result, Solomon started out in the right direction.
* * *
      Lord, I pray for the salvation of each one of our children and grandchildren. Help us to be faithful in teaching them to seek after You, asking for Your guidance in both small and large decisions.
* * *
      Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.  Proverbs 4:10–11 NIV

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

THE SEARCH FOR WISDOM

HIDDEN TREASURE
Read Proverbs 2; James 1

     –and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure– then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:4–6 NIV
* * *
     Throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon presents a very important principle echoed in the New Testament: We must seek and ask for wisdom from God, and when He gives it, we must act upon it. 
      James wrote, "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." (James 1:23–24)
     The beginning of wisdom is belief that God’s Word is true–but believing is not enough if we don’t carry through and apply it to our lives.
* * *
     Lord, as I open my Bible this morning, I am seeking for hidden treasure. Show me what I need to learn and then empower me to make any changes You require. I lift up my family, my husband and my children. Give me the ability to understand their needs and be ready with a wise and discerning answer. May my thoughts and actions reflect the wisdom mirrored in Your precious Word.
* * *
      If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.    James 1:5 NIV

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

WORDS OF WISDOM

THE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON
Read Proverbs 1
      The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair– Proverbs 1:1-3 NIV
* * *
      When young King Solomon began to reign, God appeared to him in a dream saying, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5) Solomon, citing his youth and lack of experience requested, “give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.”(1 Kings 3:9)
      This humble request pleased God because Solomon placed wisdom above wealth and honor. God granted his request and told him, “I will give you what you have not asked for–both riches and honor–so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.” (1 Kings 3:13) Solomon’s wise sayings have been recorded in the book of Proverbs, benefiting generations of believers.
* * *
      Lord, I too acknowledge my need for wisdom. Sometimes the choices are large ones, needing extended prayer and insight, but most are the daily little choices that will add up to a significant direction for our family. I come to You this morning for fresh insight from Your Word.
* * *
      Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance…The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge… Proverbs 1:5,7a NIV

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

TELL THE CHILDREN

A JOYFUL HEART
Read Psalms 144–145
      Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. Psalms 145:3–4 NIV
* * *
      Most of his adult life, David was surrounded by enemies, first by Saul who was personally jealous of him, and then by armies who threatened Israel. David recognized that victory comes from the Lord, and he cried out to God for protection.
     Then in his prayers, he acknowledged God's greater plan in it all, “… that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”(145:12-13)
      David concluded that his mission was to praise the works of the Lord to all who would listen: “One generation,” he declared, “will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.” In the midst of all that was happening he said, "I will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." (145:4, 7)
* * *
      Lord, give me a joyful heart that sings like David, in every circumstance, “The LORD watches over all who love him, My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.” (145:20-21) Help us to remember to tell our children and grandchildren everything You have done for us.
* * *
      Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.   Psalm 144:12 NIV