Wednesday, March 22, 2017

EASTER DEVOTIONS - JESUS PRAYS FOR US.


THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW



     "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." John 17:4-5 NIV 
* * * 
     Jesus spoke to His Father intentionally in the presence of His disciples. He was going to be entering Heaven very soon - restored to the glory He left behind when He became a man. The disciples must have been encouraged when they heard Him tell His Father, 
     "I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me." (17:8) "... My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." (17:15)
* * * 
     Lord, I am so thankful that in this prayer You said, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." (17:20) As I meditate on this chapter and all the words You said for them and for us - I claim these words for my family:
      "I in them and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."(17:23) 
* * *
     "I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."   John 17:26 NKJV

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

EASTER DEVOTIONS - Abide In Me

I AM THE VINE
Read John 15:1–17
     "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 NKJV
* * *
     These final words of Jesus to His beloved apostles are of utmost importance, both to them and to us. He was going away and they would carry on the work of spreading the gospel to the world. They did not yet have the indwelling Holy Spirit – but soon they would.
* * *
     Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…" (15:16) How were they going to be able to accomplish this? Jesus said, "…The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine…If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (15:4, 7)
* * *
     Dear Lord, I know that apart from You we will not see lasting fruit in our lives. I come to You this morning as an act of abiding in You. Speak to me from Your Word and plant Your will deep within my heart. I am asking and You have promised that it shall be done. I claim that promise today.
* * *
     "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:11 NKJV

Friday, March 17, 2017

EASTER DEVOTIONS - Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

HE WHO HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER
Read John 14:1–31

     "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." John 14:1 NKJV
* * *
     The disciples still did not quite understand the clues Jesus had given of His coming death and resurrection. Thomas questioned Him about where He was going, and would not fully comprehend until after it all took place and he saw the nail prints in His hands.
     Philip said to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father…" (14:8–9)
     Then He promised, "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." (14:16-17)
* * *
     God the Father would send His Holy Spirit not only to dwell with them, but in them. The Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all working together to abide in us forever. Thank You Lord for this incomparable truth –"Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27 NKJV)
* * *
     "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  John 14:27 NKJV

Saturday, March 11, 2017

EASTER DEVOTIONS

AS I HAVE DONE TO YOU...

Read John 13:1–17

     Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and--poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet… John 13:3-5 NKJV

* * *
     Jesus knew exactly who He was, where He had come from, and where He was going. In view of His coming crucifixion, how amazing that He does such a loving, comforting act in washing his disciple's feet.
     Peter, also knowing who Christ was said, "Lord, are You washing my feet? You shall never wash my feet!" (13:8a) But Jesus told him that if he did not allow his feet to be washed he would have no part with Him. Peter said, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" (13:9) With a poignant symbolism, Jesus told him he only needed his feet washed, because the rest of him was already clean, forgiven and eternally secure. Only Judas did not qualify as being so cleansed.

* * *
     Lord, I am so thankful for the daily cleansing You offer as I confess my sins and You are faithful to forgive. Help me to follow this example of humility toward others, especially my own family.
* * *
     If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. John 13:14-15 NKJV

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

EASTER DEVOTIONS

SCATTERED BUT NOT ALONE

Read John 16:5–33

     "It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you."   John 16:7 NKJV
* * *
      The disciples were still trying to grasp what Jesus was telling them. He was preparing them for the frightening, sorrowful days ahead. He said, "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you." (16:22)
* * *
      At one point, the men thought they understood; they said, "See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God." (16:29–30)
      Jesus replied, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone…”(16:30-32 NKJV) 
          The disciples would indeed be scattered, but they would be gathered again, empowered by the Holy Spirit and made into the foundation of a church that would turn the world upside down.
* * *
      Lord, I see from the lives of these men that I don't have to understand all that You are doing in the world. I just have to trust that You are the Son of God who has taken away my sin, and promised a fruitful, abundant life, by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

* * *
     "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NKJV

Monday, February 27, 2017

HE KNOWS OUR THOUGHTS

WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS?

Read Luke 5:17–26

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." Luke 5:20 NIV
* * *
     In this story, some determined men brought their friend to Jesus to be healed. They removed some tiles from the roof of the house and lowered him right in front of the Lord. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." (5:20) 

     The Pharisees thought to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (5:21) and because Jesus was God, he knew what they were thinking. So He said, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?"(5:22)
* * *
     There is nothing that we can say or think in our hearts of which Jesus is not aware–He knows our every thought. Lord, I want to pray, as David did, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14 NKJV)
* * *
     Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 
Luke 5:22–23 NIV

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A CONVINCING MIRACLE

FISHERS OF MEN


     When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"… Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." Luke 5:8–10 NIV

* * *
     Simon Peter had seen Jesus heal his wife's mother. He had watched as demons came out of people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" (Luke 4:41) Then one day, Jesus went fishing and they caught so many fish that the two boats began to sink from the weight. This was the miracle which convinced Peter that Jesus was no ordinary man – He was the Son of God. From then on, Peter, James and John left their fishing business and followed Jesus.
* * *
     Dear Father, You said, "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8-9) You knew what Peter needed to bring him to faith, and You knew what I needed. Lord, give me the words to share with others in a way that is meaningful to them. Speak to the hearts of our children to inspire them in a walk of faith throughout their lives. Make us "fishers of men."
* * *
     He and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners… So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:9–11 NIV

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SATAN TEMPTS JESUS

THE ACCUSER OF MAN


     Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 NIV
* * *
     Satan, the enemy of God, is ever the accuser of man. In the book of Job, Satan tried to humiliate God by testing his servant, Job. Now, the Son of God Himself has become a man, and Satan continues His war against God and man.
     As Satan tempts Jesus he repeatedly says, "If you are the Son of God," (4:3, 6) mocking His deity. Then as if Satan were God himself, he boasts, "All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me." (4:9) 
   At this point, Jesus responds, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only." (4:10)
* * *
     Lord, You said that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with the powers of darkness. You are the one who is able to put a wall of protection around our immediate family and our church family. We are no match for Satan who is adept at quoting Scripture for his own purpose ─ we must pray as You have instructed, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (6:13)
* * *
     Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:11 NIV

Monday, January 30, 2017

JOHN THE BAPTIST

HE MUST BECOME GREATER

Read Matthew 4:12–17John 3:22–36
     The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less" John 3:29-30 NIV
* * *
     John's ministry was about to come to an end. His message was: "Repent! The kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"The Messiah is here – prepare your hearts! As John was thrown into prison, Jesus' three year ministry began.
     When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:2–3) Jesus sent word that he was indeed the Messiah, proven by the signs of His miracles.
     Of John the Baptist Jesus said, I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)
* * *
     Lord, because of the ministry of faithful men and women, we heard the gospel. I pray that our home will be a lighthouse shining in the darkness, helping others find the Way. Like John said, "He must become greater and I must become less." May we do all things for Your glory.
* * *
     When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee… From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matthew 4: 12, 17 NIV

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