Bible Devotions

God Promised

Read Joshua 17:6-13

The children of Manasseh recieved their inheritance of the promised land. The only problem was the Canaanites lived there.

God had told the children of Israel he was giving them the promised land, ,but he would no longer dive out the enemies before them. At one time God did just that. Now, the children of Israel are expected to drive them out and claim their land.

God repeatedly assured the children of Israel he is with them and not to be afraid. v12 yet the children of Manasseh could not drove out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land.

As the children of Israel grew strong they put the Canaanites into forced labor but never completely drove them out.

God knows our capabilites. He has set before us certain boundaries, saying all this is yours. Now, go acquire it. But some of us have dificulties obtaining it, just as the children of Manasseh had trouble driving out the Canaanites.

What has God promised you haven’t taken hold of it?

O’ Father God, what your promise always comes to pass.  Help us trust in you this day.  What have you already given us we have not received yet?  Help us to be willing to receive it.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Trustworthy and True

Read Joshua 17:1-6

The promised land was distributed by lot. Each tribe received their lot. No one was left out, all received a portion.

Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, only daughters. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Jirsah. They came to the elders and reminded them the lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.

Joshua, gave them an inheritance, according to the commandment of the Lord.

Three things stand out to me as I read this seciton of the scripture:

  1. What God promised, will happen. So we can rely on God. He is trustworthy and true.
  2. God cares for the lovely people. Women in that day were not equal to men. Yet God raises the value of women by recording these women’s names in the Bible for all to see his kindness.
  3. Boldness for the Lord’s commands is rewarded. The women reminded Joshua it was the Lord’s command to give land to the daughters. The women were bold enough to speak up for what was true and right and just. The result was an inheritance of land was passed on to them.

Which of these three points do you need to consider in your own life?

  1. Do you need to trust God more?
  2. Are there lovely people, you may be overlooking in your life who need your kindness?
  3. Where do you need to be more bold about God’s truth.

Lord, thank you for caring for woman. Thank you for revealing your truth. In the strength of your spirit, may we be more bold for you. In Jesus’ name we pray amen.

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Not Zealous to Do All God Commands

Read Joshua 16

Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim took their inheritance. But they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt there. Instead the Canaanites became forced laborers.

The children of Israel were eager to take their land, but not zealous to do all that God commanded. Instead they let the Canaanites live among them.

v10 And they did not drive out Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer, but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.

We don’t know why God wanted the Canaanites destroyed. But we do know God is just, right, and true. He has his reasons, though we can’t understand it.

How are you doing at driving out what God wants removed from your life?

Lord thank you for your generosity to us. Help us to do all that you require, even when it doesn;t make sense. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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Unexpected Deliverer – From the least likely

Read Joshua 2

God uses the least likely people to carry out his plans. Rehab was a harlot in city of Jericho. She was probably tired of her lifestyle and feeling trapped with no hope. Until two men show up who are different from all of the other men who visited her.

The whole city had been terrified of the children of Israel. They had heard how they wiped out other kings & cities on other side of the Jordan. She knew, if caught, these men would be killed. Some how she knew these men were chosen by God. Knowing they were God’s people compelled her to hide them.

Perhaps this was Rehab’s chance at a new life. These men brought hope to the hopeless Rehab. God had been preparing her heart for this day. She had to protect these men. Perhaps they would spare her and her family.

So she hid the spies, helped them sneak out of the city undetected and instructed them where to hide until the search party had returned. As they prepared to go, Rehab boldly asked the men of Israel to swear to save her & her household when they return. They agreed, if a scarlet cord is hung in the window then all who stayed in the house would be saved. Anyone found outside the house would be killed.

Desparation and certain destruction compelled rehab to act in faith. She laid her own life on the line to save the spies. Now, she waited to see if she would be delivered.

God honored Rehab, for her heart was right. The spies returned, captured the city and wiped everyone out, except for Rehab and her family.

Are you inside God’s house? If not, would you like to be saved from certain destruction? Ask Jesus to save you and he will as he saved Rehab.

Father, thank you for always making a way to salvation.  Thank you for saving those least likely to be saved.  Open our hearts to receive you this day. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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According to your faith let it be to you.

Read Matthew 9:28-29
Do you believe that I (Jesus) am able to do this?

If God spoke the world into existence, can he not do all things? If he raised Jesus from the dead, is he not ruler over both the living and the dead? If he is able to cause change with a single spoken word, he is able to handle our most pressing concerns and troubles.

Believing in what we do not see and trusting in his words because of who he is. Yes, faith is an amazing gift.

Faith can move mountains. Faith can soften the hard hearts. Faith heals the incurable. Faith can do these things and more, when its placed in the One True God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

He came to show us the extent of his love. He lived among people to show them a better way to live. He taught the people what was going on in their heart, so they would recognize their need. He showed the people his power to heal, to feed, to care, to cleanse, to rebuild, to renew and to raise people from the dead. He came to lead us into an abundant life.

Father, thank you for Jesus.  Help us with our belief. May we stand firm in our faith knowing you are Author and Finisher of it.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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God is so Good

Read Psalm 107

There is a definite pattern displayed in this psalm. I have experienced first hand, and you probably have too if you were to stop long enough to consider it.

The first pattern is regarding men. By men I don’t mean the male variety. Rather I mean all people, male, and female, young and old alike. People are thankless. They are determined to go their own way, no matter the consequence. When they finally had enough pain, suffering, disappointment, their time has already been long gone.

It is quite sad really. Never recognizing how good we have it until terrible events threaten our well being. Why must it come to this? Why must we learn the hard way? It is because of our sinful nature. The Bible tells we were born in sin, all have gone astray, not one is good and no one really seeks God.

So we see this repeated pattern of man- denying his Maker, deliberately living apart from God’s ways and reaping the negative consequences.

There is another pattern at work in this psalm. This too I have seen over and over again in my life, as you no doubt have. This second pattern shows off God’s character- The Lord of Mercy. As man falls into depravity and cries out, who is there to rescue him? None other than the Lord Most High. The Redeemer. God Himself.

If you were to read this psalm again keeping a watchful eye on all the God does, you would find God rescues every time. Not some of the time, but every time. No matter how many times he has saved before, he still comes to our aid. Over and over again, his mercy endures forever.

Look at his good deeds. He redeems us from our enemy. He delievers us out of our distresses. He leads us by the right way. He satisfies our longings. He saves us from trouble. He brakes the chains that bind us. With his word he heals us. He guides us. He turns the wilderness into pools of water. He blesses us greatly.

Why does he do it? Because God is love. Love acts. He is true, right and pure. He made us. He knows what is best for us. He knows our nature. He knows we can not save our self, no he does it for us. He sent his Son, Jesus to die in our place that we might live in Him. He sealed us in his grace.

He grants us enternal life and power to live our life here and now. He is with us and will never leave us. He is awesomely good.

Have you ever chronicled your life as this psalm did? If you did, I’m sure you would come to the same conclusion – we are mere dust, but God is mighty to save.

O glorious God, you are might to save. Thank you for loving us so tenderly. Thank you for saving us when we did not deserve it. Thank you for making it possible to live a godly life until you return for us.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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What did Jesus Command us to do?

Definition of Command from Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary:

1. To direct authoritatively 2. To exercise domination influence over – to have at ones immediate disposal – to demand or receive as ones due – to overlook or dominate from strategic postions – to have millitary command of senio officer 3. To order or request ot be given – to exercise direct authority over – to give orders – to be commander – to dominate as if from elevated place. Synonyms: Order, bid, enjoin, direct, instruct, charge, instructor

What did Jesus teach his disciples?

Matthew 5:3-12 Beatitudes poor in spirit – know our weakness or need mourn over sin, evil, hunger for thirst for righteousness, be merciful pure in heart, peacemakers even when persecuted for righteousness sake and persecuted falsely.

v13-14 Salt and Light our lives must be different from the way the rest of the world lives, only by our being different while Christs influence in us be seen by others.

v17-20 Jesus came to fulfull scripture. A messiah would come and save the people from their sin. Jesus is the messiah. He says if someone breaks the commandments and teaches others to do the same, he is called least in the kingdom of heaven. But he will still go to heaven. Those who do the commandments are called great in the kingdom of heaven. To reiterate, no one can get to heaven on their own merit, they must come through Jesus.

v21-26 God made us for relationships. We need other people in our lives to point what is good as well as what needs work. Only in relationships with others can the environment be arranged for our growth. In these relationships we learn to control our self-centeredness by considering the other person. We live to love, to forgive, and to rejoice. God uses relationships to highlight flaws in us he wants us to heal, if we are willing. Remember, we are being conformed into the image of Christ. Our relationship are the golden opportunities for us to learn to be more Christ-Like.

v27-30 Jesus said whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery. Again here we see how thoughts are as important as action. It also shows how easy it is to sin, thereby reminding us on our own we can no be sin-free. Jesus teaches us about sin by sharing two extreme examples – if your right eye catches sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. He says it is better to let one member perish, then the whole body cast into hell. Same for right hand. This extreme picture wells us understand how it is not possible for us to deal with out sin. We can no remove sin on our own. It reveals our dependence on Jesus, our Savior.

v31-32 Only one permissible reason for divorce and that’s adultery. Other than that any one who divorces causes spouse to commit adultery. This again points to how people can not keep God’s laws for our culture has much divorce and adultery occuring.

v33-37 Do not swear by anything, just let your yes mean yes and no mean no. Anything more added is from the evil one. This one reminds me of childhood. When telling a friend a story, the friend says “you swear its true?” Or how about in the teen age or adult years when you were angry or frustrated and swearing came so naturally? We all have forsaken this command at one time or another. What’s done is done and can’t be taken back. There is no magical ‘do over’ button.

v38-42 An eye for an eye has been used over and over as a way to make revenge seem fair. But Jesus taught us something entirely different. If someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let them slap the right. If someone wants to sue for your tunic, let them have your cloak too! If someone compels you to go a mile, go an extra mile. The moral of the story is; “Kill evil with a good.” We overcome evil by doing good. How can the evil person stay evil when their attempts to “rattle your cage” fail? At every evil turn, meet it with unexpected kindness rather than anger and retaliation. This is so different from how we naturally think. It is a picture of high standard, we can not attain on our own.

v43-48 Love your enemies. What an oxymoron! An enemy is somone we want to curse, hate and wish bad things for. But Jesus teaches us to love them instead. We are to bless them and pray for them instead. Again the impossibility of doing this in our own power is evident.

Father God, thank you for sending Jesus to lead the way into your righteousness.  By your grace we are saved by faith in Jesus.  By the Holy Spirit you gave us we are able to walk in your ways.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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Discipline Required

As followers of Christ, we are called to continue in our faith no matter what circumstances may arise.    To do so requires discipline because it is so easy to let ourselves react from our old nature instead of by the new spirit within us.

 

 

Acts 2:42 NKJV says “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  The first church is an example to us.  In Acts we see them continuing steadfastly, which is another way of saying they were committed to a certain way of life or they conducted themselves with a certain discipline.  Our faith must be handled with equal discipline if it is to flourish and bloom as God intended.   

 

The four things the first church continued in are the same four things we should have in our lives too.  Most important was the apostles’ doctrine.  In today’s language, that’s God’s Word or the Holy Bible, both old and new testaments.  This is first in the list because it is the very foundation or anchor for our new life in Christ.  I need to have the Bible with me pretty much everywhere I go.  If you work with me, you’d know that because I’ve got verses on little sticky notes stuck everywhere in my cubical.  If you’ve been in my car, you would also see a scripture reference.  In my house you’d find scripture in just about every room. Why is that? Well to me, the Bible is like oxygen, I can only go so long without taking more in.   How often do you read your Bible?   

 

Keeping God’s Word first takes discipline.  Here’s a few ideas to get more of God’s Word into your every day life:

  • Write down scripture references that really affect you, on sticky notes or 3×5 index cards.  Put them in places you’re sure to see them – the bathroom, the car, the desk, the refrigerator, etc.
  • Listen to Christian music at home or in your car – most times the lyrics are direct quotes from the Bible.
  • Sign up for email devotions.  Every day a new devotion is emailed to you without you even thinking about it.  You’ll always have God’s Word coming to you.
  • Bookmark a few devotional websites, like www.intouch.org, www.insight.org, www.rbc.org.  When you’re on the internet, make it a habit to read at least one of those site’s devotions.

 

 

The next thing the church continued in was fellowship.  A Christian can not be a lone ranger.  A Christian was meant to be connected to the body of Christ.  We are all one in Christ and are called to encourage one another through fellowship.  There are plenty of ways to fellowship with other believers.  Here’s just a few:

  • Join a small group Bible Study through your local church.  That way you’re getting fellowship and God’s Word at the same time!
  • Join an internet-based Christian forum, like www.christianforums.com, www.christianforumsite.com, www.crosswalk.com, www.christianboards.com. There are literally thousands to choose from.  These forums usually have various topics to join discussion on.  I do not advise you to rely on only this form of fellowship.  However, this is a nice compliment to other forms of fellowship.
  • Start a lunch time Bible Study at your work with your co-workers. 
  • Start a Christian Book Club, where all the members select a good Christian book to read and discuss once a month.

 

 

The third thing the church continued in was the tradition of breaking bread together.  Jesus taught us whenever we were eating bread or drinking we should be mindful of His sacrifice for us.  Every time food enters our mouth, it should be a reminder that Christ is the Bread of Life.  He is the all sustaining power that gives us life, and life eternal through His death and resurrection.   While you may celebrate what we call communion at church, I don’t think Jesus meant for it to only take place at church in the congregation.  We should consider communion something we do on regularly with our family at home, too.

 

 

Lastly, the first church continued in prayer.  Prayer is the communication vehicle that opens our hearts to God.  It’s the mechanism for praising God for all He’s done for us, conveying our thoughts or concerns and asking for God’s help.  This is definitely something we need to be doing without ceasing.  What’s so wonderful about prayer?  You can pray anytime, anywhere without constraints.  You don’t need to be in church to pray.  You don’t need a pastor to direct your prayers.  You simply pour out your heart to God and He is faithful to hear you.  Prayer is essential for Christian growth and for developing a deep, rich and intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. 

 

 

It’s easy to forget to apply these things in our lives.  But if you will discipline yourself, you will be blessed beyond what you can imagine.  Dive in to God’s Word, join others who praise His Holy name, remember Christ’s sacrifice of love and never stop praying.  These are keys to a rich, fulfilling and abundant life in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice and your Word to teach us all we need to live godly lives until you return.  Enable us to be disciplined in our faith, to be ever growing in your character by allowing your Word to renew our minds.  Continue your good work in us that one day we will stand before God holy and perfect because of you.  Thank you for your love. In Jesus name Amen.

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Priorities Change With This New Life

2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  While we have become new creations the moment we trusted Jesus Christ to save us, everything in our life doesn’t change that quickly.   

 

Depending on when you came to Christ, you may have some bad habits to break before the new godly habits can form.  I came to Christ at the age of 32, so I knew how to live my life under my own control.  Learning how to live under the Holy Spirit’s control may take some time to get used to.   

 

I lived my life for me and what was best for me, as I’m sure most people do before they learn a different way.  I was in control over everything I did.  I decided what I would and wouldn’t do.  Does this sound familiar?  I believe this is how we are by nature, caring only for our self.   

 

When Christ comes into our heart, things change.  Where we once thought only of our self, now we consider how our actions affect others around us.  Let me give you an example from my life.  I used to do things for me such as crafts, scrap-booking and other hobbies.  While these weren’t bad themselves, they did take me away from my family.  Essentially they became more important and a higher priority than my own family.  There was the problem.  So those things lost their interest and family was restored to the proper perspective when Christ came into my life.  I still do those activities, but now I do them with a set amount time that doesn’t interfere with family time.   

 

Luke 9:23 NKJV records Jesus saying “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”  For me one way of denying myself was to say no to activities that took me away from my family.   I love how Luke has the word “daily” in his account of what Jesus said.  It’s a reminder we need to die to self daily.  It’s not a once in life deal like salvation, but rather it’s a daily choice we need make.   

 

Thanks to God for giving us the Holy Spirit who helps provide the boundaries we need in learning to deny self.  Boundaries are like guardrails that keep you on the road, rather than driving off a cliff.  Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting means we’ll be right where God wants us to be.  That’s a great place to be.    

 

Next time you’re eager to start an activity, ask yourself a couple questions.  Will with build up my relationships with others or take me away from them? Will completing this activity help others or me?  Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in your decision.  You can’t go wrong when you listen to Him.  Rest assured your decision will be honoring to God and helpful to others around you.   

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for sending your spirit to live in us.  Thank you for your prompting to teach us how to live for you and to be a help to others.  Help us choose our activities with your discernment, denying self and following you.  Thank you for making us new creations in you.  In your name we pray. Amen.

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Complaining Leads to Trouble

This weekend was especially trying for me.  While it’s that time of month for me right now, that means I’m very low on energy and prone to grumpiness.  This is an area I need to continue to turn over to God and ask His help to be patient and kind when I’m not feeling 100%.   There’s just something difficult about focusing on others when I, myself, feel so terrible.  But that’s what He calls us to do. 

 

 

On top of that, my 2 year old son’s cough got worse over the weekend.  I struggle spirituality when my child is ill.  Oh how I pray (or beg) for his healing and speedy recovery.  But the worry and concern still overwhelm me.  I feel so out of control (of course I know I am) but God is in control and He will care for my son.  This I know by faith, but it’s still hard.

 

 

When my son was down for a nap, a snuck out for a quick haircut, knowing this was the best time to try.  What a mistake!  It turned out my normal hairdresser (who knows how to do my hair just right) is on a 6 week long vacation to
Vietnam!  I really needed a hair cut, so I let someone else cut it.  The bad news is I now have really short hair!  The good news is I probably won’t need another haircut until Richard, my hairdresser, returns from his trip! 

 

 

Later I decided to make grill cheese sandwiches for lunch.  One of the burners on my stove got stuck in the High position and burned one of the sandwiches to a crisp!  Oh how that sent my mind my on the grumbling path.  In my mind, I began complaining big time.  Look at everything I was going through already.  I just wanted to make my kids some lunch and even that is ruined.  Thankfully, I was able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to stop myself.  I asked for God’s forgiveness and thanked Him for His faithfulness. 

 

 

Have you ever had a day, where everything just seemed to going terribly?  This was my weekend.  You know what?  God was with me, even in the midst of my immature grumbling. 

 

 

For example, after I plugged in a Vegitable Tales tape for my son and started folding some laundry, I couldn’t help notice the topic of the video what about becoming a “seed of discontent”.  The whole episode was about how complaining spreads to everyone around us and how God calls us to do everything as if we’re doing it for Him, so we shine brightly as stars in this dark world.  Boy, did that hit home!  I was just complaining over the burned sandwich and bad haircut.  Chuckle, chuckle.  It’s just like God to use a child’s video to show the right way and remind me to choose the better path. 

 

 

Later while reading from Sacred Marriage book by Gary Thomas, the reoccurring theme was to “die to self” by putting aside your desires, wishes, wants and focus on meeting the need of your spouse.  The message resonated with me.  Was I “dying to self” this weekend?  No I wasn’t.  I was too busy stewing in my own misery.  How easily it is to get stuck there.  But here we have warning number two, just the same. 

 

 

Sunday rolls around and I was really looking forward to going to church.  After all it’s been a rough weekend.  However, my husband had other plans that I had to yield to.  My car needed service, so we had to be at the mechanics the same time I would have normally gone to church. Argh!  Watch out, here comes the grumbling and complaining again! 

 

 

When we got home, I decided to login to watch church on-line.  Guess what the message was on?  How God tests our faith.  That’s right, a topic totally appropriate for me at the moment.  The first way He tests our faith is through difficulties.  Really? The lesson: To live by faith, I must learn to trust God’s in control.  The second way He tests our faith is through demands.  The lesson:  To live by faith, I must learn to obey immediately.  Another way He tests our faith is through delays.  The lesson:  To live by faith, I must learn to wait patiently. 

 

 

Can you believe it?  It’s like He tailored the message to speak directly to me!  The question is “What am I going to do about it?” Will I listen and learn to apply these things?  Or will I continue down the complaining path? 

 

 

All things occur for a reason and usually to help us grow in Christ-like character.  We have a choice to make in every situation.  Do we allow the situation to make us bitter?  Or do we choose to become better and walk God’s way through the situation? 

 

 

The first step is acknowledging these “trials” of life have a purpose.  The next step is turning to God and asking for His wisdom on how to handle them.  The final step is continuing to be obedient to what God’s tells us to do. 

 

 

Where are you today?  How do you handle the trials of life?  It’s never too late to learn how to respond differently.  Ask God and He’ll gladly show you the way.

 

Lord, thank you for always being with us.  Thank you for showing us the right way to respond to life’s trials.  Help us to keep you in focus at all times.  Enable us to “die to self” and focus on meeting the needs of those around us.  Help us realize our need for you, trust you are in control, learn to obey immediately and to wait patiently for your answers.  Thank you, Lord, you are not done with us yet.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

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