Bible Devotions

A man of God came to Eli with a message from God

Read 1 Samuel 2:27-36

In this portion of scripture we see how God used others to speak to Eli.  Although Eli, was a man of God, he  had become complacent in his faith.

The message brought to Eli contained the following:  a reminder of who’s really in charge, there are things that offend God, sin has its consequences,  punishment is required for wrong done, there is a sign of these  things and God has a plan.  Let’s look at each.

Remember who’s in charge
God revealed Himself when they were in Egypt.  God choose the priest.  God provided for the priest and his family.

Offense of God
You kick at my sacrifice and my offerings. You honor your own sons more than Me. You make yourself fat with the best offerings from my people.

Sin has consequences
I said your house will walk before Me forever, but now, I will honor who honors Me.  Those who despises Me shall be  lightly esteemed.

Punishment required
I will will cut off your arm of your father’s house. There  will not be an old man in your house. You will see an enemy  in My dwelling place – despite all the good God does for Israel.    Any men I don’t cut off will consume your eyes and grieve your  heart. All your descendents will die in their youth.

The Sign
Both your sons will die on the same day.

God’s Plan
I will raise up a faithful priest who does what is in My heart and My mind.  I will build him a sure house. He will walk before My annointed forever.  All left in your house  will come bow down and ask for silver and bread and priestly
position.

Eli’s sons had despised God and His ways.  God sent a messenger to Eli to inform him God would now deal with the problem.

When we look at the repeated words and phrases in this section we see God speaking “did I not reveal”, “did I not choose”,  “did I not choose”, “I will honor”, “I will cut off”, “I will raise up”, “I will build”.  This points to the fact, God is  the One in control and we best not forget it.

Sadly, Eli honored his sons more than God. As a result, he  allowed his sons behavior to continue without dealing with it. God had to step in to take care of it.  It’s the same with us. We don’t dealing with our sin, but God so loved the world He  sent is His Jesus to die on the cross to pay for our sins.  God deals with our sin, so we wouldn’t have to.

We learn God uses people to share his message with others.  He reminds us who He is, what we did, what will happen next if we listen.  God will guide His people.

We need to remember will are held accountable for our decisions. We can choose to look the other way, not deal with the issue, but in the end consequences still play out.  God is faithful. He will be with us enabling us to get through it, if we are willing.

Lord, thank you for not turning away from us.  Thank you for handling the sin issue for us.  Thank you for drawing us near you by your loving  kindness.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Samuel Ministered Before the Lord

Read 1 Samuel 2:12-26

Eli’s sons were corrupt and did not know the Lord. They took more than their appointed portions of the sacrificed meat.  They even threatened those who brought offerings to the Lord.  They trampled on God’s ways.  Their sin was great before the Lord.

But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child. His mother made him a robe and brought it each year when they came to sacrifice.  Eli would bless Elkanah and Hannah, Samuel’s parents.

The Lord visited Hannah and she had three more sons and two  daughters.  Meanwhile, Samuel grew before the Lord.

Eli was growing old.  He heard all his sons did to the Israelites. He knew about how they lay with women assembled at the door of the tabernacle.  Eli asked his sons why they made the Lord’s people transgress.  If one man sins against another, God will judge. If a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him? But his sons did not heed their father, because the desired to kill them.

And Samuel grew in stature and favor both with the Lord and men.   There are  many things in this section of scripture that remind us to avoid.  For example, treating God’s way as unimportant or non-existent will lead to ungodly behavior.  Not listening  to your father’s warnings will lead to unruly behavior as well. Seeking what’s best for yourself, without regard to others is just plain wrong.  Taking advantage of others who are seeking the Lord is evil.  Lastly, not dealing the problem early on, is also something we should avoid.

We also learn how God bless obedience through the lives of Elkanah, Hannah, and Samuel.  Hannah was faithful to keep her promise to God.  God gave her Samuel, she gave him back to God.  God blesses Hannah abundantly with five more children.  Elkanah is blessed seeing his wife happy with finally having children of her own.  Samuel is blessed by his mother’s care for him.  He is also blessed by God through his own obedience. Notice how it said Samuel grew in stature and favor both with the Lord and men?  Samuel’s life was pleasing to God and thus favor followed.

By watching Samuel’s example we learn it is possible to live a godly life, even when we live with ungodly people.  God will guide and bless our obedience.
What truths stand out to you?  How does Samuel’s example provide a godly role model for you?

Lord, thank you for your gracious care and guidance.  Thank you for your word so full of truth to teach us what is pleasing to  you, to show us what to avoid and teach us about righteousness.  In Jesus’name we ask you to lead us on the path of right living.  Amen.

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She Praised God

Read 1 Samuel 2:1-11

Hannah if you remember had no children and suffering much torment from her husband’s other wife.  Hannah also persevered in prayer.  She made a vow to God and followed through on it.  She rejoiced in the Lord and His salvation.  Her strength was renewed.  She praised God.

In this section of scripture we see Hannah’s prayer.  It is a wonderful reminder of who is really in control, with His  foundation laid nothing can come over through us, and He will will take care of judging the wicked.

In this prayer there are plenty of things mentioned we can and should try to avoid, such as, forgetting God is in complete control of all things.  We also should loose the  pride, arrogance, and self-sufficiency.  Being cruel or wicked to others is not how we should behave.  When others are that way with us, we need to avoid becoming bitter or resentful knowing God will judge them and me.

There are also examples to follow.  Hannah praised God and we should too.  Hannah remembered her place.  We are but dust  without God in our life.  Hannah thanked God for all He did  and we should consider all He did for us and is willing to do for us. Hannah gives us a prime example of following through on her commitments.  She committed to give her son to the Lord and she did.  We should keep our promises to God too.

What did you learn about God through this passage?  I found He is our salvation, our strength, our foundation, our protection, our judge and our provider. He is also merciful  and full of grace.

What truth stood out to you which you will start to live by?  For me it is all about God. Our safety and satisfaction is in  Him alone.

Lord, you are good and kind.  You are worthy of all praise.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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It’s Not What You Think

Read 1 Samuel 1

There is this man who had two wives.  One wife, Peninnah,  gave him many children. But the other wife, Hannah, had no children.  Peninnah was very cruel. She provoked and  taunted Hannah, to the point Hannah was filled with
bitterness.

Every year they made a journey to the temple to worship God.  Every year Hannah would pray for a child.  One  particular year Hannah was so distraught and caught up  with anguish in her prayers the priest, Eli, thought she was drunk!

Hannah told Eli her story and of her pleading with God to  give her a child.  Eli said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you asked of Him.”  After that Hannah, went away, ate, and was no longer sad.

Have you ever noticed sometimes things are misinterpretted? Hannah was praying in the temple. Yet the priest, who should  have recognized someone yearning for God, thought she was  drunk.

Many people misunderstand what God does within a person’s heart.  People are tempted to misjudge someone based on  outward appearance.  But God looks at the heart.  Eli,  couldn’t tell Hannah was praying and worshipping God. To  him it looks like drunken foolishness.

Have you ever misinterpretted an answered or unanswered  prayer?  Hannah prayed year after year and nothing changed.   Yet year after year, they intentionally went to the temple.  She persisted in prayer anyway.  She worshipped God regardless of whether her prayer would be answered or not. Some people might give up when their prayer is not answered the way they expect it.  Hannah didn’t. She had perseverance and  faith, which ultimately lead to her heart’s desire.

Do you ever worry about how other people might perceive  things?  Did Hannah worry about how her prayer might look to someone else?  No. She didn’t.  She simply poured out her heart to God at all costs.  She was real with God about her complaint.  What if Hannah, had not given her whole  self in prayer that day? Would her petition have been  granted?  We do know that Matthew 7:7-8 says “Ask, and  it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock,  and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks  receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks  it will be opened.”

Through this story of Hannah, we learned several things about God.  First, He definitely hears our prayers, as  He did Hannah’s prayer. Second, God’s work is sometimes  misunderstood by others. Third, His timing is always  different than our timing. Fourth, God honors perseverence,  prayer and fasting.  Fifth, God wants all of us, not just  what we want to give Him.  He wants our heart.  He wants  us to depend on Him just like Hannah did.

Are you depending on God like Hannah?

Lord, thank you for hearing our earnest prayers.  Thank you for rewarding our faith.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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The Tribe of Benjamin

Read Judges 21

The children of Israel were grieved over the tribe of Benjamin being cut off.  Yet 600 men remained.  The rest  of the tribes made an oath not to give their daughters to the tribe of Benjamin.  The also said anyone who doesn’t go with them to the Lord shall die.  Jabesh Gilead  inhabitants didn’t go.  So they killed men, women, children and took the virgin women to be wives for the 600 men left in tribe of Benjamin.  There was not enough women for all the men, so they told the tribe of Benjamin to go to Shiloh, when the women come out to dance at the yearly feast and catch them for a wife.  So they did.  This is how Benjamin tribe remained.

The tribe of Benjamin was not 100% Israel because they took wives from the people of Shiloh.  The children of Israel did not consult the Lord regarding their oath/curse of not giving their daughters to tribe of Benjamin.  Nor did they ask the Lord where they should get wives for them.  They just plowed ahead with their own plan.

Why did they swear not to give their daughters in the first place?  Judgment was on the tribe of Benjamin already because of the loss of so many of them in war.  Did the other tribes hold a grudge or want their own vengeance? It seems excessive and it leads to more bad decisions.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul spoke of being from the smallest tribe of Israel.  So how does this knowledge  impact his confession of being 100% stock of Israel?  It  makes a difference.  If Paul came from a woman of Jabesh
Gilead, he would be 100% Israel stock.  If his mother was  one of the women “caught” at Shiloh, that makes Paul a “mixed” breed.

However, because of the grace and mercy of God, either  scenario works.

Let’s ponder:
(1) The grace of God is displayed in how God propagated the true line of Israel all the way down to Paul. This shows how God always left a remenant throughout the generations.
(2) The mercy of God is display through His including those  outside the line of Israel, thus proving God’s plan is really for all people.

God has ways of working out His plan regardless of our decisions. Even though the children of Israel did not ask God about their decision not to give wives, He permitted them to carry out their plan, and accepted the women choosen to become part of the  tribe of Benjamin.

What is our part?  What do we do counter to God’s plan?
Let’s try to remember:

  • Consult the Lord for all things
  • Be confident in God, when we forget to ask Him first
  • Seek forgiveness and ask God first next time

Lord, thank you for your grace and mercy to work out your plan in us, even when our decisions may not be completely aligned  with yours.  You are awesome to work it all out in any case. We love you. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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Thirst for Power

Read Judges 9:1-21

Abimelech, son of Gideon from a concubine goes to his uncle’s house on his mother’s side.  Which is better?  Gideon’s 70 sons reigning over you or one man – namely me as I am your own flesh and blood?  The men of Shechem were inclined to follow Abimelech.

The men of Shechem gave Abimelech money from their false god temple to hire worthless and reckless men to slaughter Abimelech’s 70 brothers.  All died, except for the youngest Jotham, who hid himself.

Back in Judges 8:22-23 The children of Israel were grateful to Gideon for delivering them from Midians, so they asked Gideon to reign over them. But Gideon said, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you, the Lord should rule over you.”

What happened? Forty years of quiet went by. Gideon died. The people forgot what God did through Gideon.  The people forgot God all together. The men of  Shechem made Abimelech their king.

Enter Jotham. He calls to the men of Shechem and tells them a parable of the trees.  He says if you dealt with Gideon and his house as he deserves lets rejoice, but if not let fire come from Abimelech and devour you and devour Abimelech.
Jotham ran away in fear of his brother.

It seems to me Jotham knew all about how his dad, Gideon fought the Midians.  In verse 17 he says, “my father fought for you, risked his life and delivery you from the hand of the Midians.” This tells me Gideon must have taught his children what went on before they were born.  This means Abimelech must have known also.

Greed and lust for power can warp a persons thoughts.  So it was with Abimelech.  He choose his own path, rather than follow the Lord.  Despite knowing what was right, Abimelech wanted to be king.

How many times do we want something we know is not what God wants for us?

Lord teach us to love your ways and depart from our own ways.  Guide us in your love and give us desire for you only. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Thinking Your Standing Tall? Watch Out

Read Judges 8:23-25

Gideon had killed the kings of Midian.  All the people wanted Gideon to rule over them.  Gideon rightly responds not I but the Lord will rule over you.  Things were looking good or so you might think.

Although Gideon turned down the offer to rule, he did ask for gold earrings from everyone as payment for taking care of the enemy.

Let me ask you this, if God did the work to deliver the enemy into Gideon’s hand, why is Gideon asking for the plunder?  Sounds like Gideon might have wanted a reward.  Maybe he became greedy, seeing all the wealth he could get from this opportunity.  It’s almost like Gideon was taking the credit for the victory, don’t you think?

He received 1700 shekels of gold besides all the crescent ornaments, pendants and purple robes of the kings and chains around the camels’ necks. That sounds like a lot of wealth.  Maybe too much to handle for Gideon.

For the word says it became a snare to Gideon and his house.  How tragic to be used by God and then slip back down into man’s way.

If only Gideon had prayed about it.  As Proverbs 30:9 says “Lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.”

Not only did it become a snare for Gideon, but all of Israel played harlot to the golden ephod he set up in Ophrah.  Gideon’s decision to ask for the booty, caused much trouble in his own house and all of Israel. Much like our decisions that affect those around us and all who know us.  We are never “free” from influencing others.

The grace of God is displayed once more in verse 28 “the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon.” Even though greed and harlotry crept into the children of Israel, God gave them a temporary peace while Gideon lived.  What grace He bestowed on the unworthy!

Then we see a little more of Gideon’s life after the conquest.  he dwelt in his own house. He had 70 sons from many wives.  He also had concubines and one gave him a son called Abimelech.  We’ll see more of him later in the Bible.

So it would seem Gideon’s love of gold brought about more sin.  The word doesn’t say Gideon had all these wives  and concubines before he was called by God.  Yet after the plunder, the victory, the fame, he now has more women and children than he knew what to do with.
Not only that, but after Gideon dies his legacy of idol worship continues to spread throughout Israel again.  The children of Israel did not remember the Lord their God who delivered them from the hands of their enemies on every side, nor did they show kindness to Gideon’s family for the good Gideon had done.

Does a little victory go to your head?  Do you ask for reward when doing what God calls you to? Once you  overcome the hurdles in your life, do you easily fall back into self-sufficiency rather than rely on God?

Father Lord my God, teach us to remain dependent on you in all circumstances of life.  Enable us to escape the temptations to rule our self, become greed, and forget you are the One True God and only Way to eternal life.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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Thoughts on Ruth

Read the book of Ruth.

In Sin
She was a Moabite. She lived her own way apart from God and oblivious to Him.  She thought life was fine.

A Different Life
She meets this guy from Judah, a man of God. Something is different about him and his family. She marries him.

Conflict and Decision
Her father-in-law dies. Then her husband dies too. Now her mother-in-law is trying to making her go back to her own family and her old way of life. She decides to go where ever Naomi goes.

Servanthood Begins
She accepts Naomi’s God as her own.  She serves Naomi. She is a companion, friend, daughter and servant to Naomi.

God’s Providence
The two travel back to Jerusalem, where Naomi is well known. It’s harvest time, so Ruth goes to glean grain for food.  She happens across Boaz’ field. He is a close relative of Naomi.

Redemption
Naomi is excited to hear about Boaz.  He can be their redeemer to buy back their land and provide for them.  But there is another relative even closer than Boaz.

Inheritance
The closer relative declines the offer to be the redeemer for fear of losing his own inheritance.

Saved
Boaz steps up, redeems the land and marries Ruth. Ruth and Naomi are cared for again.

Father, thank you for calling us out of sin, showing us a different life, giving us opportunity to turn, and allowing us to serve others.  Thank you for your provision, redemption in Jesus, our inheritance in you. Thank you for saving us from a life apart from you. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.

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Faithful Obedience

Read Ruth 3

And she said to her “All that you say to me I will do.”

If ever there was a statement of faith and obedience this is it.  Ruth, a Moabite, had left her land, and her relatives to go with Naomi, her mother-in-law, to the land of Judah.  She puts complete trust in her mother-in-law and her mother-in-law’s God.

What does it take for you to follow through with anything? Some need to know everything will work out as planned. Others may do a certain thing, if they know they will receive something in the end.  Precious few do follow through because it is what God wants.

Can you say to God, “All that you say to me I will do?” For God has told us His desire, that we love Him, walk humbly before Him and follow His ways.  As the story of Ruth shows, blessings follow obedience.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  With faith, obedience will follow.  With obedience blessings follow.

Whether you ar seeking love, forgiveness, protection, or provision it is found through faith in God.  When we are obedient to His ways, He blesses us with what we need.

Father the One of infinite abundance, you love us. Thank you for wanting to bless us.  Help us trust you more with each passing day.  May obedience to your ways become nature to us.  Give us desire for you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Blessings Follow Obedience

Read Ruth 2

It’s barley harvest time when Naomi and Ruth arrived in Judah.  Ruth asks to go glean in the fields.  Naomi allows her to go.

While gleaning, Boaz takes notices of Ruth and asks who she is.  He finds out how she  cares for Naomi.  Boaz tells Ruth not to go into any other field, but to stay in his field.

Boaz and Ruth share a meal together. Boaz instructs his men to let Ruth glean and to purposefully drop grain for her.

Ruth returns to Naomi, who asks where did you glean today?  Ruth answers in Boaz’ field. Naomi praises God for His kindness.

Did you notice how obedient Ruth was to Naomi and Boaz?

Can you see God’s care, protection, and provision to Ruth through Boaz?

Do you see Naomi’s guidance, instructions towards Ruth?

Notice how blessings seem to follow obedience?

Ruth had love, mercy, grace, compassion for Naomi.  Ruth leaves her own relatives to stay with Naomi, her mother-in-law. Ruth moves to a new country with Naomi. Ruth provides for Naomi. Ruth’s life is not her own by choice.  She purposefully sacrificed her life for Naomi’s sake.

Is that not a beautiful picture of what Jesus has done for us? Jesus had mercy on us. He left heaven to live on earth. He chose to live with humans rather than with God.  He sacrificed His life for our sake.

Father you are so wonderful.  There are no accurate words to describe your worth.  You are amazing in your love, mercy, and grace.  Thank you for filling us with your spirit that we may extend your love, mercy, and grace to others as you have given to us. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen.

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