I arrived in Jerusalem and learned of the wrong that Eliashib had done in
turning over to him a room in the courts of The Temple of God. I was angry, really angry, and threw
everything in the room out into the street, all of Tobiah's stuff. Then I ordered that they ceremonially cleanse
the room. Only then did I put back the
worship vessels of The Temple of God, along with the Grain-Offerings and the
And then I learned that the Levites hadn't been given their regular food
allotments. So the Levites and singers
who led the services of worship had all left and gone back to their farms. I called the officials on the carpet,
"Why has The Temple of God been abandoned?" I got everyone back again and put them back
on their jobs so that all Judah was again bringing in the tithe of grain, wine,
and oil to the storerooms. I put
Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of
the storerooms. I made Hanan son of
Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, their right-hand man. These men had a reputation for honesty and
hardwork. They were responsible for
distributing the rations to their brothers.
THINK: In these earlier days, what do you notice
about the way of life God required his people to abide by? Why do you think this was important to him? What do you think their relationship with God
was like? How might it be different from
your relationship with him?
Strict. Oppressive. Distinct.
Sanctified. Disciplined. Conspicuous.
Maybe a bit peculiar. Do any of
these describe the way you feel when you think about how God has asked His
people to conduct themselves? It's not
any wonder that so many people have a view of God as rule-driven and a
relationship with Him as being no fun. I
know, in my own life, having had a hard time trusting the truth from the Bible
about how God thinks about me, these words just amplified the thoughts and
feelings that I would never measure up, that I would never be able to be good
enough, or to do enough good to deserve what His Son did to save Creation from
an eternity in Hell.
I know the depths of the truth of those thoughts and feelings, but I also know
that they are exactly the reason Christ had to come and die on the cross. The truth is:
if any one person could ever be good enough to live this life and not
need Jesus as a sacrifice, then God would not have had to send Him. Because if one person could do it, then
everyone would have to have within themselves the ability to save
themselves. And we simply do not. We are not able to save ourselves. Period.
what does that have to do with the question asked above, about why God requires
His people to abide by so many rules? If
we are going to call ourselves His people, should there not be something
markedly different about our lives, so that others living around us can see
that we are different. Even if that
difference just looks odd or peculiar or conspicuous, at first. And wouldn't the fact that we do look odd,
different, peculiar or conspicuous give us that many more opportunities to
share the reason for our faith, to share the reason why we have chosen - on
faith - to walk this absurd-looking path, that shouldn't logically work, but seems
are called to be in the world, but not of the world. What that means to me is that while we are
here our lives should look different enough to make people wonder what in the
world it is that makes us have so much peace and joy when the world is in a
tailspin of chaos and agony and fear. IN
the world, but not OF the world.
beyond that, God is holy. If we are
going to call ourselves His children, if we hope for Him to call us His
children, we have to live our lives by the rules that He has set. Who are we to question God's "because I
said so"? If we know anything about
God, it is that nothing happens without a reason. Our inability to see the reason or to
understand His motives shouldn't matter.
Just like with our own children, who do not always get to know the why,
for a myriad of reasons, neither do we.
And just like with our own children, who sometimes eventually reach an
age where they are mature enough to handle hearing the reasoning behind the
instruction, we also SOMETIMES reach a maturity level where God will reveal to
us His behind-the-scenes work. Then,
what was so confusing or frustrating, becomes so perfectly clear that we wonder
at why we ever questioned Him in the first place.
PRAY: Become aware of God's presence with you
now. Share your thoughts with him,
including what you noticed about your own relationship with him. Let this lead you into silent prayer,
pondering what's happened in your life since you last talked with him and
whether there is anything you need to clear up.
Listen for what he might be saying in response to you. If you don't sense him saying anything
directly, be open to other ways he might try to communicate with you (such as
through other people or recent experiences).
Lord, You are omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. You alone can claim this. You alone know the beginning from the end,
and You Alone will decide what and when I get to know the ins and outs of even
my own life. Forgive me when I have
failed to trust your sovereignty.
Forgive me when I have smirked at your holiness. Forgive me when I have abused your grace by
sinning and then just asking for your forgiveness with no real desire to repent
and turn away from the actions you consider abhorrent. I thank you that you remember that I am just
dust. I thank you that you saw me in all
my sinfulness, knowing that I would let you down over and over and over again,
and still decided that there was something in me worth saving. Thank you that you love your creation so very
much and that you are not willing that any should perish.
Father, I do not know why you have led
my family to this fight we find ourselves in right now, but what I do know is
you are leading us through it. I know
that every hard thing I have ever gone through has strengthened me for where I
am right now. And I know that all the
hard things I am going through now are strengthening me for fights still to
when I think of our situation now, I envision an arrow that has been shot at a
target. An arrow does not have to try to
find the target on its own. Never once
have I seen an arrow, in the air, wondering where it was supposed to go. Help me to remember that you are the perfect
archer, and you hit all the targets you aim at, and you nail the target every
time. It is humbling that you would pick
me to be an arrow. I desperately want to
hit the target at which you have aimed me.
targets are closer and the path has been a straighter, faster shot. Some targets are farther away, and you have
had to aim higher to get a good trajectory and account for the wind, so the
path takes longer than I want. I can see
the target. I know where I am supposed
to go. I desperately want to get there,
but I have to take the path that has been set for me. Forgive me for doubting you in my
frustration at how long the path is taking.
Help me to remember that I have hit every target you have selected for
me, and for which I have allowed you to use me.
Your purposes will always be satisfied.
Some people will choose to be used by you. Others will not. Help me to remember, that when I am brave
enough to allow myself to be used by you, Your Will is going to be
accomplished. Remind me of that when I
start to feel like the path is taking too long.
I will arrive precisely on time for Your Agenda to be satisfied. Never too soon. Never too late.
Dear Lord, help me to remember, when I cannot see the target, that you do not
shoot an arrow just to shoot an arrow. Your Word does not return to you
void. Therefore, if you have sent it out
into the world, it will happen. By the
same token, if you have fired me as an arrow, you will hit your mark.
this I pray in Your Son's Precious and Holy Name, Amen.
LIVE: Think about the passion Nehemiah demonstrates
for honoring God. What would your life
look like with more passion? How might
you honor God with your lifestyle the way Nehemiah desires to honor God? Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with
all your passion and prayer and intelligence. …Love others as well as you love
yourself" (Matthew 22:37, 29). With this command in mind, think of one small
new habit you could cultivate that would honor God in a particular area of your
LIVE: In preparation for this lesson, fast from one
meal. (Use discernment regarding
fasting; check with your doctor before doing it. If you can't do it for whatever reason,
that's okay.) When you feel the pangs of
hunger, use that discomfort as a catalyst for this devotion.
READ: Nehemiah 5:6-11 - Read
I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. After thinking it over, I called the nobles
and officials on the carpet. I said,
"Each one of you is gouging his brother."
Then I called a big meeting to deal with them.
I told them, "We did everything we could to buy back our Jewish
brothers who had to sell themselves as slaves to foreigners. And now you're selling these same brothers
back into debt slavery! Does that mean
that we have to buy them back again?"
They said nothing. What could they say?
"What you're doing is wrong. Is
there no fear of God left in you? Don't
you care what the nations around here, our enemies, think of you?
"I and my brothers and the people working for me have also loaned them
money. But this gouging them with
interest has to stop. Give them back
their foreclosed fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes right now. And forgive your claims on their money,
grain, new wine, and olive oil."
THINK: While in Babylonian exile as a cupbearer to a
foreign king, Nehemiah has a God-given burden:
to rebuild the ransacked walls of the forgotten city of Jerusalem and,
in the process, to restore the hope of his people. But in the midst of this massive
architectural restoration project, the people are being abused by their own
Nehemiah's burden grows larger. His burden now includes poverty and
injustice. Imagine yourself in
Nehemiah's shoes today. What does this
burden feel like? Consider your empty
stomach and write down how you feel.
PRAY: Begin praying by listening for God's heart
regarding justice. Ask him to show you
people who need your prayers. Then ask
him to point out when you need to speak up on their behalf, and ask for the
courage to actually follow through with it.
thing I've discovered about justice over the course of our situation is that it
is seldom swift. Maybe as swift as
possible, but never as swift as we'd like.
Think about it. Whenever someone
has done you wrong, is it ever remedied fast enough? When the courts get involved, things slow
down to a snail's pace. Then, evidence
or no, the case goes the way the people trying it think it ought to go, or
whichever way is going to make the appropriate people look as good as possible,
or prevent them from looking horrible. I
don't mean to sound cynical, but the truth of the matter is: the truth rarely counts for much. Except with God.
commands us to seek justice, to love mercy, to take care of the widows and
orphans. Seems like those commands match
up with the burdens of poverty and injustice Nehemiah was feeling. Sad to think so little has changed over the
years. Jesus talks about how, when we
visit the people in prison, or feed people without food, or clothe the naked,
we are doing the same to him. The book
of James warns against seeing someone cold and telling them to "Go, in
peace, and be filled" without offering them what they need to actually be
filled because judgment is without mercy to those who've shown no mercy.
I sit in my hotel room, waiting to leave to go visit my husband who sits in
jail, this verse hits home. I am getting
to visit my husband because of the people around me who've fed and clothed a
widow and her orphaned children. This is
a bit of a stretch, I realize. My
husband is not dead. My children still
have both of their parents. But
considering our source of support has been taken away from us, we resemble a
widow and orphans. I do not wish this
position on anyone, really; but the lessons it is teaching are invaluable. And humbling.
I don't really need to pray for God to show me who needs my prayers. I'm about to go to a place full of people I
may never know that need prayers, who have families that need prayers. Though I am not personally in a position to
be able to physically or financially help these people, my husband has been
doing all he can to help those around him who've not received justice from one
of the only systems in the world that - supposedly - prides itself on
preferring that 100 guilty men would go free than one innocent man would go to
so…Dear Heavenly Father, You alone know for what purposes you have placed each
one of us here. If there are people
around us that need what we have to offer, please show us. If "all we can do" is pray for
them, let their names be on our lips in prayer as often as we pray. If you have given us the financial
wherewithal to help those folks, give us an urge to do so that we cannot
ignore. If they merely need a listening
ear, may we be willing to be inconvenienced enough to give them the time they
need. Relationships are messy and dirty,
Lord. Help us to be willing to get dirty
and messy with the people who need it the most, and let us do so without
reservation when that's what you require.
In Jesus Name, I pray, AMEN.
I am in Kansas (and
sometimes Missouri) visiting my husband.
As I was driving to my hotel yesterday, I was looking at all the
perfectly manicured fields of crops. I
was thinking that we've come a long way since the days of Little House on the
Prayer when one man and a horse would plow a field. Now we have tractors with GPS designed to
make sure that farmers can get the maximum amount of usage out of their fields
as possible. The GPS directs the tractor
and the farmer gets to sit in the sometimes-air conditioned cab checking
Facebook or Pinterest (that'd be me), while the tractor practically drives itself. It is a model of efficiency. Albeit an expensive model. Any farmer will tell you that the equipment
that comes with being a "for-profit" farmer (and I use that term
fairly loosely) is quite expensive. That
got me to thinking: what would I be
willing to pay for someone to sit on high and direct my life so that I got the
maximum amount of use out of it and precious little wasted space, all my rows
would be plowed straight, and all I had to do is sit back and take
direction. It seems it'd be priceless. Then, it occurred to me: I already have it. I just forget to turn it on.
How many times, as
Christians, do we - as adopted sons and daughters, having access to all the
power given to Christ - forget to appropriate that power as we go about our
daily lives. All we have to do is go to
God in prayer. And yet…we choose to see
if we can do it on our own, and wonder why we live so much of our lives
Today, as I was on
my way to visit my husband, a song came on the radio I've never heard
before. It's called "Say Amen"
by a group called Finding Favour (go check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRcvcF_0_9M). There's a line in the song: Anybody here who's walked through the fire -
say Amen. It's referencing the story of
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace in the book
I remember when the
ladies in our church did the Precepts Bible Study by Kay Arthur on the book of
Daniel. When we did the chapter that
covered this story, my family was still in the early stages of our current ordeal
(we had not even been to trial yet).
Anyway…I remember thinking, at that time, that we were sitting in the
fire, and I was starting to feel scorched. HA! We were getting
closer to the furnace, and it was hot. That's for certain! We had
not been thrown in yet.
Then, for the first
year Rabbit was gone, I thought, for sure, that I was going to be consumed in
the flames. Surely, it was just a matter of time. But, day after
day, I got a little stronger, a little more determined, and started looking around,
noticing that I was not burning up. I was no less mad about being in the
fire, or at the insane miscarriage of justice that landed us there, but I was
not burning up. Yeah...it's hot. I've sweated plenty. But I've not
been consumed. My family has not been consumed. My husband has not
been consumed. Our spirits have not been quenched. Instead, we have
been made to see that hat Satan really wants is to destroy the family.
Our family. He hates the family. And he knows that if he can
destroy the family then he will have effectively destroyed the
This whole time I've
been thinking that we've been making it because we are just too stubborn to
quit. And while I think that's partially true, it's not the whole
truth. As my mom once told me, you can break a stubborn horse. But
a strong-spirited horse will never be broken. It may appear broken for a
bit, but it is merely waiting for the chance to break free!
I've been using the
word surreal to describe how it feels to be walking through this and not feel
like I'm falling apart. That's not the right word. Supernatural is
a better word.
There are marriages
and families falling apart every day, and even more than normal amounts for
inmates. Why should it be that our family has not only NOT fallen apart,
but is easily as strong as before in most ways, and EVEN STRONGER in others if not
for divine intervention, if not for the Grace and mercy of a Heavenly Father,
and His Son standing in the fiery furnace with us?! It just doesn't
happen?! It's just not logical.
Those are just a
couple of the things that occurred to me over this last week that I thought I
would share with you.
I don't have all the
answers to my own stuff, so I could not dream of giving you answers. But what I can tell you is who does. Turn on your GPS, folks. Let God's Position System direct you in the
path you should go. Even if it means you
end up walking toward and into a fiery furnace.
As the saying goes, "If He leads you to it, He'll lead you through
it." But the best thing about God
is that He goes before you, preparing the way.
If you are in the furnace, trust that God was there before you,
beckoning to you, asking you to endure the refiner's fire, so that you can come
even closer to bearing the image of your Creator. He wants to burn off all the impurities in
you so that He can see His reflection in you!
For that kind of work, He has to be right up there, at the furnace,
turning you over and over in his hands, pulling you out, checking on you,
looking to see if all the dross has burned off yet. If not, he'll put you back. But not forever. But…hot or not, He's still there.
I've got for today. I hope you had a
good weekend. Talk to you tomorrow!
READ: Ezra 9:10-15 (or see the EXTENDED
PASSAGE: Ezra 7, 9:1-10:19)
"And now, our God, after all this what can we say for ourselves? For we have thrown your commands to the wind,
the commands you gave us through your servants the prophets. They told us, 'The land you're taking over is
a polluted land, polluted with the obscene vulgarities of the people who live
there; they've filled it with their moral rot from one end to the other. Whatever you do, don't give your daughters in
marriage to their sons nor marry your sons to their daughters. Don't cultivate their good opinion; don't
make over them and get them to like you so you can make a lot of money and
build up a tidy estate to hand down to your children.'
"And now this, on top of all we've already suffered because of our evil
ways and accumulated guilt, even though you, dear God, punished us far less
that we deserved and even went ahead and gave us this present escape. Yet here we are, at it again, breaking your
commandments by intermarrying with the people who practice all these
obscenities! Are you angry to the point
of wiping us out completely, without even a few stragglers, with no way out at
all? You are the righteous God of
Israel. We are, right now, a small band
of escapees. Look at us, openly standing
here, guilty before you. No one can last
long like this."
THINK: Think about how you relate to this
prayer. Have you ever felt similar
remorse to what Ezra expresses here?
Maybe you feel frustration with the injustices of your community or
nation, or maybe you experience guilt on a deep level--not for anything in
particular, but just a general sense of not getting it right, ever. What have you done with that feeling? Stuffed it?
Allowed it to constantly criticize what you do and say? Have you ever thought of sharing it with God?
PRAY: Ezra's raw confession of messing up before
God indicates that he feels very secure in God's merciful love; otherwise,
being this defenseless before anyone is hard.
Read Ezra's prayer again, looking for
a word, a phrase, or even something about his tone that resonates with
you. Take several minutes to mull this
over, and listen for what it gives voice to in your heart. Allow yourself to make Ezra's prayer your
own, repeating it and following him in prayer to God. Or perhaps you don't identify with what he
says, yet beyond your words is a pain you want to share with God. Sit with him in this.
LIVE: When you mess up today, remember Ezra, and
remember God's merciful love.
of the many things I've dealt with over the course of the time my husband has
been gone is my tendency to catastrophize things. I have a tendency to fall into a pattern of
all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking that can keep me from being creative
enough to think outside the box, and come up with alternate solutions to my
problems. This all-or-nothing thinking
tends to spill over into my daily walk with the Lord as well and, many times,
I've allowed myself to be driven to a point where I think I can't do anything
right, or that nothing is ever going to go my way. When I get like this, especially right after
I've sinned, I begin to feel like there's nothing I can do right and that I'm
always going to mess up. That, my
friends, is condemnation.
does not come from God. Conviction, on
the other hand, that feeling - like your conscience - that tells you "You
really need to do….." or "Maybe you should call…." Conviction is that feeling nudging you into
obedience because you can't not do what he's asking you to do.
don't know about you, but one thing I've noticed about condemnation: it tends to rear its ugly head right around
the time that I am struggling the most.
So, right about the time we need God the most, and the grace he wants to
give us for the steps we are on at the moment, up pops this little imp of a
voice to tell us: "Surely, this
time, you've gone too far. Surely, NOW,
he's going to write you off. " Let
me share something with you. The plain
and simple fact that you feel like you must go to God to ask forgiveness is
your proof that Satan is lying. If God
was going to write you off this time, why would he bother to let you know that
you need to make amends. If he was truly
done with you, why wouldn't he just leave you to your own devices?
Heavenly Father, you know us inside and out, coming and going. You know our rising up and lying down and
every hair on our heads. We know that we
can never be good enough to merit anything you deign to give us and, far too
often, we have snub what kindnesses you have given us because they don't look
the way we'd like them to or expected or hoped they would. Forgive us, Lord, for those times when we've
bought the lie that we can do anything good for you on our own strength.
5) Then Hezekiah invited all of Israel and Judah, with personal letters to
Ephraim and Manasseh, to come to The Temple of God in Jerusalem to celebrate
the Passover to Israel's God…. And they sent out the invitation from one end of
the country to the other, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north: "Come and celebrate the Passover to
Israel's God in Jerusalem," No one
living had ever celebrated it properly.
The king gave the orders, and the couriers delivered the invitation from the
king and his leaders throughout Israel and Judah. The invitation read: "O Israelites! Come back to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac,
and Israel, so that he can return to you who have survived the predations of
the kings of Assyria. Don't repeat the
sins of your ancestors who turned their backs on God, the God of their
ancestors who then brought them to ruin--you can see the ruins all around
you. Don't be pigheaded as your
ancestors were. Clasp God's outstretched
hand. Come to his Temple of holy
worship, consecrated for all time. Serve
God, your God. You'll no longer be in
danger of his hot anger. If you come
back to God, your captive relatives and children will be treated
compassionately and allowed to come home.
Your God is gracious and kind and won't snub you--come back and he'll
welcome you with open arms.
THINK: As you read, listen for a new perspective on
the way life is, or the way God is, that stands out to you today. Perhaps you will notice that God can have
dangerously "hot anger," yet under other circumstances he is tender
and open to a people who have walked far away from intimacy with him. Maybe you'll be struck by the pigheadedness
that kept some Israelites from taking "God's outstretched hand."
PRAY: Study the perspective you've absorbed,
looking at it from different angles and holding it up against different
experiences you've hand. Do you ever
fear approaching God because you worry he might snub you? Have you ever refused grace? Consider a specific situation. Then become aware of God's presence with you. Tell him what was going on during that
time. How does the God of this passage
(offering his "outstretched hand" to the Israelites) compare to your
image of God in that situation?
have frequently worried that God might snub me and, many times, that fear has
kept me from approaching him boldly. It
has kept me from feeling like I could hold Him to His word. The Bible is full of promises. I know this.
But it's so much easier to believe that those promises will hold true
for others than for me, especially when I'm in the throes of a pity party. I constantly have to remind myself of the
verse that says that God is no respecter of persons. I know that verse was referring to judgment,
but wouldn't it also extend to his promises.
If His grace is sufficient for you, then it must be sufficient for me
too. If his provision, his timing, his
love are always perfect for you, then, they must always be perfect for me, as
well. So then…that means the problem is
not God, but me. Refusing to reach out
and grab hold of God's hand because I fear He will snub me says more about me
than it does about him. It says I have a
friend of mine once gave me an analogy that, I think, fits this situation
there's a chair in front of you. Do you
ever wonder if the chair is going to hold you up before you sit in it? If it looks rickety, maybe. But if it looks new, if it looks sound, you
just sit. You don't stop and
wonder. That's faith. It isn't faith until you place your bottom on
the seat and let it have your full weight.
It's not faith to think the chair can hold you. It's not even faith to know that the manufacturer
says it can hold up to 200 pounds. Faith
comes with the sitting and resting on the chair, trusting that it won't crumble
under you and let you fall hard on your backside.
have to admit: for a huge chunk of my
life, I have not had that kind of faith.
I've had the dip-my-toes-in-the-water kind of faith. Yes, I can swim. But, yes, I could also drown. I've let fear of drowning keep me from
plunging into the depths of this walk of Christianity. This time 18+ months ago, I was operating on
faith. I took a plunge. A scary one.
And for the better part of the last 18 months, it has felt like a sat on
a chair that gave way underneath my weight.
But I think what I'm finally starting to see is that I had constructed
the chair that I tried to sit on. Jesus
was not my foundation. No…my foundation
had been the carefully constructed plan I had made for my life, and that had
pretty much worked out the way I thought it would. Sure, there had been times when all I had to
go on was actual faith. Many times. What I have discovered over this last
year-and-a-half is that those time when I was operating purely on faith in the
Lord were times when I was struggling, times when I knew there was no way I
could help myself out of the situation I was in. All I could do was obey God, every day, and
pray that He knew what was best for me and that His plan would work itself
out. And it did. Every.
Single. Time. That simple fact is the one thing that has
kept me afloat since this whole thing started.
Everything hard I've ever had to go through, for which I've had nothing
to rely on other than God, has worked out just exactly the way it needed
to. And, it was not over one second
sooner than it needed to be, and it didn't last one second longer than He
needed it to.
I snubbed God's grace? Sure. Who hasn't?
But the one area where I have not, the one area that I never really
realized that grace was active and abundant in my life: perseverance.
It takes grace to persevere.
There have been many days where, by the end of the day, I was "SO
DONE." But the grace of God is that
tomorrow does not have to be like today.
And I can get up and do what I need to do tomorrow because I need to get
up and do it. I have children at home,
watching me. If I give up, what kind of
example will I be setting? Do they see
me low? Of course. There have been days when I have told them
that I just need a "mental health day" and they have to go to their
rooms and I go to mine, and "we" let me recover. My youngest is not fond of having to spend
too much time alone, so this is practically punishment for him. This means that I have to use a lot of
finesse when I am breaking this news to him.
Lots of reassurance that he is NOT in trouble is often needed. So, I cannot take these days often. Besides, it feels indulgent. And not in a good way. I know, deep down, what I really NEED most on
those days is to get up and do something for someone else. But sometimes, it takes me a little bit to
remember that. So, once I do, I get up,
get over myself, and get on with life. I
think that is a measure of grace as well.
dear readers, I don't know where you are in life, right now. Maybe you are going through a hard time and
feel like nothing is making sense and like you are struggling just to make it
through the day. Maybe you are a mom,
living for naptime and bedtime because you feel like you are going to go
crazy. Maybe you are a dad just hoping
you don't screw up your kids because you are the man of the house and there is
more pressure associated with this job than you ever dreamed. I have just one prayer for you, just one word
going. Don't stop. God will meet you every single step of the
way. When you find that He isn't meeting
you, or you feel like you haven't heard from Him in a while, pull back from
your "schedule" and see if maybe you haven't run ahead of God. He has plenty of grace for the step you are
on, but you have to stay on the step He wants you on. Otherwise, you are just running on your own
steam. And, eventually, you are going to
run out of steam altogether.
LIVE: Close your time today by saying the Lord's
Prayer. Speak the words aloud very
slowly. Picture the righteous but
compassionate God described in this passage, the One who is hearing your prayer
now: "Our Father in heaven, reveal
who you are. Set the world right, do
what's best--as above, so below. Keep us
alive with three square meals. Keep us
forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep up safe from ourselves and the Devil. You're in charge! You can do anything you want! You're ablaze with beauty! Yes.
Yes. Yes. (Matthew 6:9-13)
pray you all have a blessed day! Take
care of yourselves. And remember, God
gives us EACH DAY our DAILY BREAD. We
don't get to keep yesterday's bread. And
he won't lend us the bread for tomorrow.
Trust that he has rationed you just enough bread for today because He
loves you fully. Today. And because He wants you to trust Him for
tomorrow's ration tomorrow, He has set aside for you a ration for tomorrow as
well. He is already there. He has a place prepared for you. So, walk today, trusting that today He's got
you covered; and tomorrow, He will too.
after that, Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said, "Because
you went for help to the king of Aram and didn't ask God for help, you've lost
a victory over the army of the king of Aram.
Didn't the Ethiopians and Libyans come against you with superior forces,
completely outclassing you with their chariots and cavalry? But you asked God for help and he gave you
victory. God is always on the alert,
constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him. You were foolish to go for human help when
you could have had God's help. Now
you're in trouble--one round of war after another."
THINK: Read the passage again slowly. Previously Asa had been a good king. After hearing convicting prophecy, he
"took a deep breath, then rolled up his sleeves, and went to work"
cleaning out the temples (15:8).
Which phrase or idea sticks with you?
Asa "went for help to the king of Aram and didn't ask God for help"
"God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are
totally committed to him"
not relying on God results in "one round of war after another"
Why does that idea stick with you?
The theme of this passage could be summed up in the acronym FROG, standing for
Fully Rely On God. Consider your life -
for what large or small issues might you FROG that you have not thought of
before? (Don't use this passage to beat
yourself up; that's not profitable. Use
it instead as a springboard to ask God for guidance.)
thing that sticks with me in this passage, because I've been so guilty of it
over the years, it "You were foolish to go for human help when you could
have had God's help." There are
times when God puts you in the position that you have to go to others for
help. But there are also times when God
just wants you to turn to Him.
instance, there have been times in my marriage when my husband and I have had a
plan. We've worked the plan. Things have gone well. Then, all of a sudden, someone will come
along with an idea that stirs up some of my old insecurities, and I immediately
go off-script in an effort to make what we are doing seem less weird to the
person I'm talking to. Once I go off
that direction, it can be hard to get me back.
Eventually, I reached a point in my walk with the Lord, that He started
letting suggestions and advice from others take their toll on my marriage. That, in turn, fed into my old insecurities,
seeming to justify the fact that I felt that way already. Things would start going poorly, the
insecurity would grow, the plan would go awry, and then, I would have to go to
my husband and apologize for not trusting the plan, and then I would have to
ask forgiveness from God for not trusting Him.
All of this from trying to please someone other than God.
PRAY: Thank God that you can fully rely on
him. Admire God for his divine alertness
and for how relying on him keeps you out of "trouble - one round of war
after another." Take your time so
that you fully explore your gratitude and admiration.
Father, it is a little embarrassing to admit that what I know of the peace that
comes from relying on you far too often has come from having to live through
the lack of peace I've had from not trusting you. But, I am thankful that I have that
experience to draw off of. Now,
especially. In a time when I have no
idea what in the world to do, and it seems like I'm trying to plan for the
future and live day-by-day, both at the same time, and not knowing how in the
world that is supposed to look, all I can do is take the next step I feel is
being directed by you. Most days, it
makes no sense, though I desperately want it to. And sometimes, even more than wanting it
myself, I wish that I could explain it to others. If I could make some sense out of things, I
could relax a little bit. But, yes, I
hear you tell me: where would be the
need for faith!?
Heavenly Father, for everyone reading who is going through something tonight
they really wish they understood, or wish was over, I pray for peace. I pray for the faith to keep walking. I pray that they would not pluck up in doubt
what they planted in faith. Give them
the strength and grace to keep walking toward you, and toward your plan for
their lives, even when they are surrounded by nay-sayers. Put people in their way who will encourage
them to keep searching for your will for their lives, and who will encourage
them to pursue that will regardless of whether or not they themselves
Lord, you exist outside of time and space.
All that is happening to us, has already happened in your timeline. You know all, you see all, and you have
orchestrated all this for our own benefit and your own glory. Help us to trust that nothing is taking you
by surprise. Help us to remember that,
in your timeline, all that is happening to us now has already happened. Therefore, you already know the beginning
from the end, and have our steps ordered in such a way that we will come to the
end you want us to come to IF we trust you enough to seek your help and walk in
the way you lay out for us!
Lord, we believe, but help our unbelief.
Help us to seek you for each step of the way, every day. And help us to remember, each day, to
F.R.O.G. - FULLY RELY ON GOD!
LIVE: Take some deep breaths and ponder what it
would feel like in your gut to rely on God all the time, every day. Taste the sweetness of reliance so it's not a
chore but the absolute best way to live.
Before the entire congregation of Israel, Solomon took his position at the
Altar of God and stretched out his hands. Solomon had made a bronze dais seven
and a half feet square and four and a half feet high and placed it inside the
court; that’s where he now stood. Then
he knelt in full view of the whole congregation, stretched his hands to heaven,
God, O God of Israel, there is no God like
you in the skies above or on the earth below, who unswervingly keeps covenant
with his servants and unfailingly loves them while they sincerely live in
obedience to your way. You kept your
word to David my father, your promise.
You did exactly what you promised--every detail. The proof is before us today!
Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to
David my father when you said, "You'll always have a descendant to
represent my rule on Israel's throne, on the one condition that your sons are
as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have."
O God, God of Israel, let this all happen --
and establish it!
Can it be that God will actually move in our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn't large enough to
give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built.'
THINK: King Solomon, son of King David, built the
famous temple to the Lord on Mount Zion in Jerusalem as a gathering place for
the Jews to worship Yahweh. It took him
years to build this temple, and at its completion he assembled all the people
for a public dedication. To dedicate
something is to set it aside for a special purpose. As you read the dedication prayer of Solomon,
notice the gratitude and the humility of the king as he prays.
What precious aspects of your life
(for example, people, positions, locations, important events, yourself) do you
need to set solely aside for the Lord as a public reminder that all you have
belongs to God? What would it take for
you to do that…and with the attitude of Solomon?
thing that has been difficult for me over the course of this past year is
remembering the words of a picture I saw once that says: "Don't pluck up in doubt what you
planted in faith." This has applied
to my life in so many ways this past year, but in the pursuit of my education,
I have really had to cling tight to those words. When all this mess started, my plan was to
continue with my education until it was done, and then, use it. I had no idea what else to do. I still don't, most of the time. What I do know is that every time I've set
out to get a job, something has happened to get in the way. I'm not talking about part-time work, that'll
allow me to make a little extra cash.
I’m talking about full-time employment so that I can fully support the
family. Surely, that's what an
able-bodied person ought to do. Yet,
every time I've put in an application, I've been passed over. I've been close on two or three jobs, and
something has happened - at the last minute - that stopped me from getting the
job. I still have applications
out. I'm still looking. But…my practicum starts in the spring, and my
internship in the summer. And both of
those are going to need to be paid, or else God is going to have to open other
doors that I'm not able to see right now.
PRAY: Write out a prayer of dedication to God for
an individual, situation, event, or position.
Heavenly Father, only You know the plans you have for me right now. I wish I did, but something tells me that I'd
most likely jump the gun and run ahead of your will because I just so
desperately want something resembling normal in my life right now. The thing is:
I've never wanted normal. Not for
my Christian walk. So, please, help me
to trust you with these plans. Keep my
eyes open for the opportunities you are making available to me, and help me to
know when you are shutting doors that I am tempted to try to push through. Though there are so many things I should
dedicate to you and leave them in your ever-capable hands, right now, I am
entrusting my education and my future plans to you. Help me to leave them there, rather than
always trying to snatch them back out of your hands.
Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.
LIVE: Keep your dedication prayer so you can
occasionally refer to it. In fact, if
you wish, make a note on your calendar a few weeks from today to reread your
prayer. At that time, think about what's
different in your life due to your dedication.
READ: David is blessing God in this passage. To see his entire prayer, read the expanded
passage, seeing how he dedicates to God the money and materials generously
given by him and all the Israelites for building the temple.
Riches and glory come from you,
you're ruler over all;
You hold strength and power in
the palm of your hand
to build up and strengthen all.
And here we are, O God, our God,
giving thanks to you,
praising your splendid Name.
"But me -- who am I, and who are these my people, that we should presume
to be giving something to you?
Everything comes from you; all we're doing is giving back what we've
been given from your generous hand. As
far as you're concerned, we're homeless, shiftless wanderers, like our
ancestors, our lives are mere shadows, hardly anything to us. God, our God, all these materials--these
piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you, honoring your Holy
Name--it all came from you! I know, dear
God, that you care nothing for the surface - you want us, our true selves - and
so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily. And now see all these people doing the same,
giving freely, willingly - what a joy! O
God, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this generous spirit
alive forever in these people always, keep their hearts set firmly in you. And give my son Solomon an uncluttered and
focused heart so that he can obey what you command, live by your directions and
counsel, and carry through with building The Temple for which I have provided.
THINK: When David talks about our lives as
"mere shadows"--that everything we have is actually only being
borrowed from God--how does that strike you?
What item do you own, or what relationship do you have, that you hold
more tightly that you would a shadow? Be
honest, huh?! Well, the one thing that I
held the dearest - more dear to my heart than God (remember, I am being honest)
- was my relationship with my husband.
Then, my control over my life.
Actually, I guess those two were probably interchangeable. I've realized that in the last
year-and-a-half. I've always had a
pretty tight grip on most things I love.
It's hard to learn to let go, or to hold things with an open hand, as
some of my friends put it. The scripture
from Job: the Lord giveth and the Lord
taketh away comes to mind. I don't know,
but I'm curious if this last year we've been through would've been so hard had
I not been so determined not to let go of what God was asking of me.
PRAY: As you approach God in prayer, picture
yourself bringing with you the item that is hard to hold loosely. Talk to God about what keeps you attached to
it. Don't try to navigate the prayer so
that by the end you are letting go of your treasured thing. Don't try to force yourself to be less
attached to it than you actually are.
Simply talk to God while you imaginatively hold it tightly in your
hands, and tell him about why it's so important to you. Keep in mind that if you are still in the
same position internally at the end of your prayer time, that's okay.
find it interesting, and a bit convicting, that this part of the day's
devotional says not to try to manipulate the prayer so that, by the end of it,
I am letting go of my treasured thing.
Usually, that is precisely what I end up trying to do because I would
rather be "right" than be honest.
Sometimes, honest is not pleasing.
Sometimes, my honest feels down-right nasty. And I find myself questioning, why on earth,
would God listen to a prayer that is not nice, let alone answer one. A part of me knows that God is more
interested in my being able to be honest with him, since honesty is a sign of
intimacy in a relationship. However, the
part of me that does not want to be a disappointment, just wants him to be
pleased with me. So…I try to tell Him
what I think He would rather hear. It
seems, we are always children in some respects.
this part goes on to encourage me not to try to force myself to be less
attached to "it" than I actually am.
Good thing! I would have a hard
time not being attached to my husband and marriage. Especially since I took vows (twice - once in
a marriage, and once in a renewal) stating that I would stick with the guy
until death we do part. How can I offer
that up to God and pretend that I am not attached to it? I know, essentially, what I have to do is to
not place that marriage in a position above where I place God. I know that my prayer needs to be that our
marriage would honor and glorify God.
But, HONESTLY, most of the time, I just want to live with and grow old
with this man. I know that God has not
taken that away from me for good, just for now.
But the just for now has also taken a father away from his
children. The Navy did that for
years. But, he was ready to be
home. He was about to retire. We were about to have him all to ourselves. And now, THIS!
LIVE: Take a few more minutes to reflect
on what talking to God was like as you held on to the item you're unwilling to
give up - at least not easily. Did you
feel guilty or uncomfortable, or do you have trouble being honest with
him? Why might that be?
haven't had trouble being honest with God.
This time. I don't feel guilty
not wanting to let go of my marriage or relationship in order to fully entrust
it to God. I've come to realize that
it's a process. I want to want what God
wants for me. But, the truth is, quite
often it's a scary prospect. I know that
He has plans to prosper me, to give me a hope and a future. And I know that future will include my
husband. It has to because we are not
divorced, and he did not die. He has
just been removed from us temporarily.
We often joke that, instead of being on deployment for the Navy, now he
is on a deployment for the Lord. The
reasons he is gone ABSOLUTELY BITE! We
did nothing to "deserve" this.
Standing accused and being convicted of something you didn't do is
AWFUL! But my man is not the first, and
he certainly will not be the last.
Especially in a society where the victim must always be right and the
repercussions for lying are non-existent.
But…that is not my responsibility.
My responsibility is to live my life in a way that honors and glorifies
God, and train up my children to do the same, regardless of what life throws at
us. I wish I could say that I'm getting
it right. Maybe more than that, I wish I
could say that I felt like I was getting it right. Or at least, I wish I felt like I was
striking out less than I am. I also wish
I felt like I was standing on ground that was a little sturdier than I feel
like it is. Most days, all I've got is
the will not to quit. And, I'm convinced
that is what's going to propel me through to the end. Proverbs 24:16 says that a righteous man
falls seven times but gets up again; so, I’m going to keep getting back up.
(or the extended
passage of 1 Chronicles 16:7-36, also known as "David's Psalm of
Read the passage slowly, keeping in
mind that "Shout Bravo!" here means something like "give credit
(23-27) Sing to God,
everyone and everything!
Get out his salvation news every day!
Publish his glory
among the godless nations,
his wonders to all races and religions.
And why? Because God is great--well worth praising!
No god or goddess comes close in honor.
All the popular gods
are stuff and nonsense,
but God made the cosmos!
Splendor and majesty
flow out of him,
strength and joy fill his place.
Bravo! To God, families of the peoples,
in awe of the Glory, in awe of the
Shout Bravo! To his
lift high an offering and enter his
Stand resplendent in
his robes of holiness!
Read the passage aloud again, but do
it this time as if you are speaking convincingly, first to "everyone and
everything" (verse 23 addresses the entire planet, including the
vegetation and animals of the earth), then to all the "families of the
peoples" (verse 28, all nations, all tribes, all classes of people).
THINK: Read the passage again silently and ponder
1. Consider the words you most
relish. What phrase did you particularly
enjoy saying as you read the passage dramatically?
part of this psalm that I most enjoy saying is:
"…God made the cosmos.
Splendor and majesty flow out of him, strength and joy fill his
2. What would you most want the earth to
know or understand about God?
I most want the earth to know or understand about God is that the salvation
that Christ will bring when He comes again will be for the entire earth, not
just for mankind, but for the rest of creation as well.
3. What would you most want the families
of the earth to know or understand about God?
I most want the people of the earth to know is that there is no god or goddess
that could come close in honor, to include ourselves.
PRAY: Being by asking God to lead you in your
prayer. Wait for him. Once you get started, you may wish to say
something like, "O God, I’m so glad you are…" and finish with ideas
from this psalm.
God, I'm so glad you are merciful to us when we fall. I am glad that you hear our prayers even when
we do not deserve your kindness. Your
kindness do not just extend to us, they extend to the whole earth. Everywhere we turn, there is something
remarkable and beautiful and terrific to look at and appreciate. May we give your creation the respect it deserves,
but never more than the Creator.
LIVE: If you could shout this psalm from anywhere
in the world, where would that be? (It
might be on a specific mountaintop or by a certain waterfall or even before an
international group, such as the United Nations.) Picture yourself saying these verses from
your heart in that setting, without embarrassment or any other
reservation. Rest in your boldness.
The weather has been
so nice today, that we opened the windows and doors to let the fresh air
in. It's dark now, and I still have my
windows open, and I can hear crickets and tree frogs outside. It's such a soothing sound that my son has
even made a "playlist" of crickets and rain on a nature sounds app I
have on my iPad. The thing is: the window has been open for so long and I've
gotten busy doing other things so that I had practically forgotten about having
my windows open or being able to hear the crickets. Perhaps that's why God says to "Be still
and know that He is God." He's
there. He's talking. But with our busy-ness of life, we get so
used to the noise around us that we forget to pay attention to His voice. How about we all slow down a notch or two,
throttle down, and see if we can't hear God whispering to us in the stillness
There are a lot of
things going through my mind as I start this not the least of which is that
there is no way I am ever going to be able to pay back everyone for the
kindnesses my family and I have received over the last 3 years. There are two main reasons for this. ONE:
even if I had been keeping track of all the monetary kindness I have
been shown, there is plenty that I haven't known of, and even more that nobody
would ever cop to because of the desire to remain anonymous. TWO:
many of the gifts and kindnesses I have received are priceless and, as
such, I couldn't even begin to assign a dollar value, or even hope to repay the
favor exactly. For how does one place a
price-tag on a well-timed sermon that is just what you need right when you need
it? How does one place a dollar value on
a hug from a friend?
Nobody is asking me
to pay them back. That's not where I'm
going with this at all. No, what I'm
thinking about has more to do with the my inability to ever fully repay a debt
when I cannot even comprehend its breadth.
Sounds a little like having one's sins paid for by someone who never
knew sin, who was perfect.
The friends and
church family who have helped me out so much, who have been there for me in
ways I will likely never be able to comprehend, in many ways, I feel I owe my
life to them. Maybe not literally, but
figuratively for sure. There was nothing
I could've done to deserve their kindness.
They just felt compelled to bless me and my family out of their own
blessings. As a friend of mine said
today, "What? It's not ours
anyway. We're just giving it back to
God." Knowing that is the truth,
but really experiencing the truth of it are two TOTALLY different things. And if I feel like I could never repay these
people for their kindness, and like I owe them a debt of gratitude for just
making my life possible for the time being, how much more do I owe Christ who
has, most assuredly, given His very life for me and, with his sacrifice, has
paid my way into Heaven by paying off debts I didn't even know I owed. Is my obedience enough? Is my praise enough? My worship?
I could be cliché and say that I would pledge my undying devotion to
Him, but I'm human, and that'd be a lie.
The truth is that my devotion will wane.
It has many times in the past, and likely it will in the future because
I forget just how much I've been given and forgiven. Then, something will happen that will remind
me, and once again, I will be "on fire" for Jesus again. Until the next time.
Why is it always
like this? Because, far too often, I
forget to remind myself of what all God has done for me. I get bogged down in the busy-ness and
daily-ness of life, and I forget to remind myself of the gospel of Jesus Christ
that says I was a sinner and I needed a Savior.
I can even take it
one step farther. Given all that I have
received so freely from a God that I could never repay, how could I hold onto
that gift so selfishly? I did nothing to
deserve it. I could never earn it. And yet, I benefit from the blessing of that
gift everyday. Yet, when it comes time
to share with others, I balk. I let fear
stand in the way. Where's the undying
devotion then? Where is my
obedience? My praise? My worship of the God that made my very life
what?! This week the county fair
starts. Our church has an evangelism
booth at said fair. I've worked the fear
a couple of times, and have always let fear stand in the way of my saying
anything substantial to passers-by, or even to those who stop. Perhaps there is a reason I am having these
thoughts and feelings on the eve of the week that I am scheduled for two shifts
at that booth………..
READ: 1 Chronicles 11:10-11 (or see the extended
passage of 1 Chronicles 11:10-12:15)
10-11 These are the chiefs of David's Mighty Men,
the ones who linked arms with him as he took up his kingship, with all Israel
joining in, helping him become king in just the way God had spoken regarding
Israel. The list of David's Mighty Men:
Jashobeam son of Hacmoni was chief of
the Thirty. Singlehandedly he killed
three hundred men, killed them all in one skirmish.
THINK: David's Mighty Men were willing to risk their
lives by crossing the Philistine military camp in order to bring David water
from the Bethlehem well. What incredible
Discuss this passage with a friend or
spiritual mentor. What do you think
about the idea of linking arms with others?
Is it awkward? Is it worth the
PRAY: Tell God about any worries or insecurities
you have about linking up with others.
Pray for the discernment to choose a few mature, like-minded people to
link arms with you and the boldness to ask them for help.
LIVE: Approach these individuals and ask them to
link arms with you.
Dear Readers. If I've had one discussion
about linking arms with people over the course of the past 18 months, I've had
dozens. It seems that God has me right
smack-dab in the middle of having to link arms with people when all I really
want is to not have to. Funny thing
is: I never really considered myself to
be a person who had a hard time asking for help. I guess I just never really ran across
anything I thought of as insurmountable.
And if I did, I guess I just deemed it outside of God's will, so I didn't
So, let's see. What could possibly worry someone about
having to link up with others? What
worried me? Well….what if what I think
is important isn't? What if I need help
and nobody is there? I was asking God to
deliver me from this situation - that would've been help that I couldn't do for
myself - and he wouldn't do that. So why
should I believe that he's going to put it on the hearts of others to help me
in my hour of need? Why would he do that
when he could've just delivered me and wouldn't?
The conclusion I've
come to - the only one I've been able to draw that seems to make any sense for
where I am in my life right now - is that I needed to see how the body of
Christ can work when they are led by the Lord.
In all my desire not to have to link up with people, I've had no other
choice. And what I have witnessed, and
what my children and parents and husband have witnessed, is God working through
people - is Jesus with skin on, working to support one of his own. When I felt like God had dropped me on my
head, and had no reason to believe that others wouldn't do the same, what He
has shown me is that we do all need each other.
There are some gifts that I have that the body needs. That's why God gave them to me. Likewise, there are gifts that people around
me need to share, and they needed to be shared with me (for now), and I needed
to see them being shared. And my kids
and my husband and my parents and countless other people around me who I’m sure
I will never realize needed to see this, have needed to see these gifts being
shared. I have no idea why God chose my
family for this time or this time for my family, but I believe that someone
needs to see our church family being the church family RIGHT NOW for this
season. And maybe, just maybe, someone
in our own congregation needed a chance to take a step up and BE the church, to
be the participant in the body of Christ that He called them to be. I don't know.
I am sure that there are wonderful and glorious things happening through
our situation that I will not get to know this side of Heaven, but they are
happening for sure.
I do have to say
that there is one thing I am grateful for, that I knew even before I got the
point where I am now that I would be grateful for. Under PRAY, it says to ask God for
discernment to choose a few mature, like-minded people to link arms with. I knew, when all this first started that, if
things didn't go my way, I wouldn't even have the luxury of turning my back on
God because of the people I had surrounded myself with. My closest friends through this whole ordeal
have let me whine and cry and mope, but they have not let me live in a pit of
despair. These friends have known me
long enough to see things in me that I have doubted or lost sight of or
questioned if those things were ever there, and they have repeated back to me
things I've said in the past that I'd forgotten I believed when I was at my
lowest. They have helped me to stand
back up and brush myself off. But, they
have also challenged me through my doubt.
They have made me ask myself if I ever really believed those things I
said. They have not shied away from
asking me hard questions and telling me hard truths even when they've tried to
make me laugh and told me to take it easy on myself. They have been gracious and merciful, but
they've worn their steel-toed boots in the process, because sometimes I just
need a good, swift kick in the pants.
They have laughed with me (and sometimes at me). They have cried with me and they have cried
for me. They have prayed with me and
they have prayed for me. They have
rejoiced with me and mourned with me, and they have all comforted me with the
comfort they themselves have received (at one time or another) from Christ
Jesus himself. In short, they have been
to me - and my whole family - the very representation of the God and Christ
that I thought had deemed me unworthy of helping by not delivering me in the
Dear Friends, if you
find yourself floundering tonight, wondering where God is, why He seems to have
left you out in the world, all alone, with no intention of saving you, might I
suggest you look around you. Is there
someone in your life who just won't go away?
Is there someone in your life who insists on being nice to you and you
find yourself wondering why, or what it is this person could possibly want from
you, because you know you have nothing to offer? Maybe that is your lifeline and you don't
Or maybe you find
that there is someone in your life that you're drawn to and don't know
why. Have you made an effort to talk to
that person? Might I suggest that by
refusing to talk to that person, you may be missing a divine appointment. It takes a little bit of effort. You might even be really uncomfortable at
first. Please, please, please…make the
effort. You never know if your next best
friend is just a conversation away. You
never know if someday that person will be your lifeline when you need a
friend. Without a doubt, God has put you
right where you are for some reason.
Without a doubt, he has put in your way the people who are in your life
right now. Aren't you the least bit
curious to find out why?
READ: 2 Kings 22:11-17 (or the extended passage at
2 Kings 22 & 23)
(11-13) When the
king heard what was written in the book, God's Revelation, he ripped his robes
in dismay. And then he called for
Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the
royal secretary, and Asaiah the king's personal aide. He ordered them all: "Go and pray to God for me and for this
people--for all Judah! Find out what we
must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been
found! God's anger must be burning
furiously against us--our ancestors haven't obeyed a thing written in this
book, followed none of the instructions directed to us."
(14-17) Hilkiah the
priest , Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went straight to Huldah the
prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum
son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, who was in charge of the palace wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the Second
Quarter. The five men consulted with
her. In response to them she said,
"God's word, the God of Israel:
Tell the man who sent you here that I'm on my way to bring the doom of
judgment on this place and this people.
Every word written in the book read by the king of Judah will
happen. And why? Because they've deserted me and taken up with
other gods, made me thoroughly angry by setting up their god-making businesses. My anger is raging white-hot against this
place and nobody is going to put it out."
THINK: Read the passage again. As you do, listen for words or images that
especially impact you, such as raging anger that "nobody is going to
put…out," or the king ripping his robes "in dismay."
PRAY: Take time to silently repeat this word or
phrase from the passage or to let the image play itself out in your mind. See how it matches with your thoughts,
feelings, and memories. Eventually let
your contemplation lead you to consider whether there are any questionable or
sinful areas of your life that you have been ignoring lately. Can you tell why you've been ignoring
them? Bring them before God. What is your posture?
LIVE: Picture this God whose "anger is raging
white-hot." What's it like to be
before him? Now see Jesus, the mediator
between the holy God pictured in this passage and the sinful people God
loves. Turn to Jesus and together
examine your heart. Watch his response
to the sinful areas you noticed. What is
he inviting you to do in response to what you see? Respond to his invitation. Watch God the Father accept Jesus' redemption
of your sin--see God's white-hot anger cool--and experience being welcomed back
into full fellowship with him once more.
dear readers, I am happy for the chance to deliver each of these devotional
days to you. I think this one, however,
does not need anything more from me. You
know what God is speaking to you. I know
what God is speaking to me. I pray that
each of us has the courage to take a good, honest look at ourselves and find
those areas God would have us see, those areas that need to be addressed, that
we've been withholding from God, and find out why. I pray for the strength to get brutally
honest, knowing that God cares more about our character than our comfort, and that
we would allow him to do the work necessary to pry those sinful areas out of
our heart, regardless of how deeply lodged they are. Then, I pray that we would allow Him to fill
those areas of our hearts with what ought to be there: more of Him and more of His Word.