Saturday, April 29: 1Samuel 16- God's plan unfolds.

Life is becoming faster and faster. Cellphones allow instant access around the world. Email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are all increasing the speed of life.  Microwaves cook many things in a fraction of the time of a stove or oven, add to that all the ‘quick cook’ items, like rice in a pouch cooks in 90 seconds. At any moment I can look at my bank accounts and transfer funds with my smartphone, no lines, no hassles… push a few buttons and it’s done. Rocket Mortgage advertises that you can get your mortgage in minutes with the push of a button. I can order something from Amazon and have it in 2 days, guaranteed with Amazon Prime.

The skill of waiting is disappearing.

People are growing impatient for life to unfold. For example, relationships take time to develop, often God’s plan takes time to develop, too.

Although there are few time markers in Saul’s story, it seems his kingship is still in its infancy.

Today we read that David has been anointed by Samuel as the next king. Sounds great, but Saul reigns 40+ years, meaning David will have to wait many years before God’s anointing becomes reality! Now David didn’t know how long it would take, all he knew was that he was anointed and someday God would bring his kingship into being.

God’s plans often take time to unfold.

Will I have the patience to wait and allow God to hone me and prepare me for the tasks He will have me do?

Abraham and Sarah created some problems when they attempted to speed up God’s promise by bringing Hagar into the mix. Not only does God’s plan take time to unfold, I must be patient and allow God to do His unfolding. To race ahead means problems.

This morning as I sit, I am realizing that all of my time sitting with the Lord and serving the Lord is ‘unfolding’ time. I don’t have the experience of an anointing like David had, but God is using every day of faithfulness to hone me to be a man He can and will use in His time when He needs and I am ready…

Oh, Lord, may I be diligent in my service of You, in my study of You and in my devotion and relationship with You so that I am prepared to serve when You call. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, April 28: 1Samuel 15- Obedience is just that.

Reading this chapter and this account of Saul’s life a very simple thought came to me. Obedience is just that… obedience. There is no equivocation. There is no changing or altering for any reason. Obedience means that I obey what God says and I don’t get to alter or change what God has directed.

I know I will sin, I am not perfect and cannot be perfect, which is why I need Jesus as my Savior.  However, what I must not do is to pretend that I am being obedient when I am not. To dupe myself is to block myself from God’s great gift of forgiveness because I alter the facts to make it sound like I am obeying when I am not.

Possibly the saddest lines of the chapter was Saul’s response to Samuel, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest” (13-15).

It sounds like Saul really believed he had obeyed. But he had not. Samuel’s instructions were quite clear…destroy everything.

The Lord’s Word to me today is a warning for me to be honest with myself before the Lord. So my heart is crying out to the Lord to give me strength to be honest, really and truly honest, with myself and with the Lord.

Lord, I would rather seek Your forgiveness for having sinned that to dupe myself into believing I am obedient when I am not. Saul had many issues, but at the root may have been his lack of a relationship with You coupled with his ability to fool himself. Oh, God, save me from those sins… I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, April 27: 1Samuel 14- Impulsiveness.


Our word is important. Do we keep our word to others and to the Lord?

Saul impulsively blurted out pronouncements.  When your heart is not following after the Lord, blurts of the heart can be particularly damaging and thus revealing.

As the Philistines fell into chaos at Jonathan’s victories, Saul rallies his men and decrees, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” (24).

Certainly this is foolish, who knows how long the battle will rage; no allowing men to eat is ridiculous. Even more, the statement is full of ego… I have avenged myself on my enemies! Saul’s self-aggrandizement is evident. He is not fighting for the Lord or Israel, Saul is fighting for self.

After the initial rout by Israel Saul inquires of the Lord concerning whether they should continue the chase into the night. But the Lord does not answer. Saul assumes sin and has the priests being out the Urim and Thummim. Then another blurt comes across his lips. “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today. As surely as the LORD who rescues Israel lives, even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” (38-39).

It sounds so noble and righteous, but when the lot falls to Jonathan, Saul allows the men’s wishes to spare Jonathan and to keep Saul from his foolish vow.

The vow itself was superbly foolish, but this was made doubly bad when Saul broke the vow he made to the Lord (remember Jephthah in Judges 11, he kept his rash vow).

All of this thought about ‘the blurts’ of the heart caused me to look inward…

·         What do ‘my blurts’ reveal about my heart? Am I motivated by self or service to the Lord?

·         Do I keep my word to others and most especially to the Lord?

I am reminded of a Jesus-saying: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45).

As I consider ‘my blurts’… my heart is revealed…

Lord, my heart is a mixed bag… some refined by Your Spirit and some still scared by sin. Continue refining me. Show me places I still need to surrender to You and give me the strength of will to do all the surrendering You require of me.

My heart needs much repair.  Please, Dr. Jesus, perform the surgery I require to be pure and holy before You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Wednesday, April 26: 1Samuel 13- Choices.

We face choices every day and all day long. Choices move and determine life. Some of our choices are wise, some not so much. Some choices are big and others little.

Saul made a HUGE foolish choice.

Saul was losing the heart of his men who were growing impatient, so he acted. While decisive action is the mark of a leader; the choice a leader makes also reveals her or his character. Saul chose to cross a faith line. He disregarded the Lord’s command and offered unauthorized sacrifice. In his day this was a significant breach of faith. Saul sought to appease God rather than listen to the Lord.

One lesson of the Old Testament is “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1Sam 15:22)

As I ponder this episode from Saul’s life I am wondering about my own living. Is it my instinct to obey the Lord or attempt to appease Him by acts of sacrifice… giving money, serving others, etc., that drives my actions? I realize that giving money and serving others are good things, so was animal sacrifice in the OT, but why am I doing these things? Am I trying to buy God’s love and care or am I doing them because I know they reflect the heart of a Christ-follower?

I realize there is a fine line of motivation that differentiates these two similar actions. As I ponder my inner world of motivation, I am realizing it is not always apparent what my motivation truly is and, yet, this quest is spiritually healthy. It is part of a life lived openly and honestly before the Lord.

Lord, I lay before You my inner self; my hurts and wounds, my inner motivations, my mixed-bag of faithfulness and faithlessness. Help me parse my inner life so that I can discard sin in its various forms. Use Your Word and my time in it to divide joints and marrow, to help me grow in You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.




Tuesday, April 25: 1Samuel 12- Integrity.


Samuel’s final testimony grabbed me. He has led Israel for years and as he prepares to step aside so that Israel’s first king can take over, he calls people to evaluate his integrity.

“I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right” (1-3).

Samuel’s comments launched me into self-reflection. When life is ebbing and the sunset of my life is cresting will I have lived my life in such a manner that I could stand before family, friends, coworkers, bosses, subordinates, and neighbors and say, “Testify today have I cheated, wronged, hurt or taken advantage of you in any way. If so say so, that I may make it right with you right now.”

The deeper question I am wrestling with today is how must I live to be able to make that kind of a statement in the future? Are there things I need to change and correct in the way I am living today so that I am in a better position to be able to say those things in the future?

Lord, I have much to learn and many areas of growth needed. Guide me into deeper and more faith-filled following. I pray in Jesus, my Lord’s name. Amen.


Monday, April 24: 1Samuel 11- Who is your leader, who is your Savior?.

A subtle shift has occurred in Israel since the days of conquest. As they moved from Egypt to the Promised Land, God’s anointed led the people. Moses and Joshua were very careful not to take credit as leader themselves but to constantly point to the Lord. In fact Moses didn’t enter the Promised Land because in a moment of frustration he said, “Must I bring water from this rock for you?” The Lord did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land because of the transgression.

Then come the judges, men and a woman, who led for a time, sometimes a significant length of time, but there was no family lineage. And many judges rose up in a time of need and then disappeared after God used the judge to deliver Israel.

Next came Eli and Samuel; more like Moses they were prophets who heard from God and reported the things of God to the people. They didn’t lead battles or ‘reign’ in any way.

Now comes Saul… as king. Today’s reading is on the threshold of Saul being confirmed king for the second time.

The subtle shift is that he will lead. Ideally God will lead Saul. With Moses and Joshua the Lord directed them and then they directed the people. The king, however, assumes leadership and hopefully he is listening to the Lord.

The shift is subtle but real.

And the shift challenged me to probe my own life… am I living my life in the model of:

·         Moses… listen for the Lord’s leading and then act accordingly, or

·         Saul… act on your own leading, ‘assuming’ you are in tune with the Lord?

This is a difficult question because it probes dark recesses of my life. It causes me to ask penetrating and difficult questions of myself…

Am I my own leader and savior, or am I following after the Lord?

Lord God, keep probing me and don’t let me off the hook easily giving trite or stock answers. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, April 22: 1Samuel 10- Sad day in Israel.

One would think that the anointing of a king would be a great and wonderful day. But not so for Israel. The anointing of Saul as king was a dark day. The people may not have realized it, but God made it clear to them. Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the LORD at Mizpah and said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.” (17-19).

The Lord gave them what they wanted, but sadly what they wanted was not God’s best.

This got me thinking about my prayers.  Do I ever beg God for what I want, without asking the deeper question, ‘Is this what the Lord wants?’ Oh, the heartaches that come when we beg God for things that are not His best for us.

I have heard some people talk about God’s permissive will verses His perfect will. This is certainly an example of permissive vs best will. Hezekiah's extra 15 years may be another example. After all, Manasseh was 12 when Hezekiah died and he became king. This means Manasseh, one of the worst kings in Israel’s history, would never have been born if Hezekiah’s life wasn’t extended by the Lord. 

As much as I may want something at a particular moment, I do not want my will or desire to ever take precedence over the Lord’s good and perfect will for my life. For this to be true I must continually surrender my will to the Lord’s will, something Israel was never truly able to do.

Oh, God, I pray for the strong presence of Your Holy Spirit in me. Teach me, Lord, to listen and OBEY the Spirit’s leading always. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Friday, April 21: 1Samuel 9- In the midst of life.

This historical sliver of Israel’s history didn’t carry any big God-moment as I was reading. No verse leapt off the page to my heart. It seemed like any historical narrative I could read in any number of books.

But then almost as soon as I finished the chapter a spark hit me… in the midst of life, God shows up!

I found myself quietly saying, “Yes.” Yes, that is how the Lord often works. In the midst of life, a nudge, a thought, a Scripture, a song, a conversation happens and God uses it to direct me.

The Lord doesn’t need extraordinary moments to lead and guide. God doesn’t wait only for special days or moments, God is around me.  He is with me all the time and in everyday moments He is speaking and guiding.

Am I listening?

Saul could have begged off his servant’s suggestion but something told him to listen and his life was forever changed because he stopped to see Samuel. It is apparent that Saul doesn’t even know who Samuel is!

Here’s my challenge growing from my time with the Lord in Samuel 9. Will I keep my eyes and ears open to the Lord’s direction today? In all likelihood it won’t be as life altering as Saul’s but then again it could be. Will I be listening for the Lord’s voice, His nudge, His direction today and will I do this every day?

It doesn’t seem like Saul was necessarily listening for God, so God broke in. As a Christ-follower I have God, the Holy Spirit, in me and with me.  I can do better than Saul. I can be attentive to the Spirit directing me in the midst of life.

Oh, God, I am so blessed that You are a God who speaks, a God who directs and leads and cares and loves. I praise You, Lord, and I ask You to train me in understanding and discerning Your voice when You call… in every way You choose to communicate with me. I love You, Lord. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, April 20: 1Samuel 8- to be like everyone else.

Samuel was a great leader. He listened to the Lord and did as the Lord bid. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice (3). So the people begged Samuel to anoint a king. Samuel went to the Lord and the Lord told Samuel it was not Samuel they rejected but the Lord as Israel begged for an earthly king (7).

God did not seem phased that Samuel’s sons weren’t following Him. I wonder if the Lord had a plan for future leadership about which we will never know.

Whatever God would have done, the people wanted a king to be like all the other nations (see 5 and 20). This truly was a rejection of the Lord and a desire to be like everyone else.

Isn’t that what we still want to this day… to be like everyone else?

I want a house like everyone else and a car like everyone else and a computer like everyone else and a… fill in the blank.

It is not that these things are bad, but is it wants the Lord wants for me, that is the question.

Maybe I should probe our (my) desires from the opposite direction. Does the Lord want me to have a house, car, computer, etc.?

God’s desires for us and not what others will think, should be my (your) motivation.

This thought bites… I suspect that I am motivated by what others think more than I want to admit!

Oh, Lord, I don’t even know how to speak right now. I feel conviction settling upon me.

Forgive me where I have erred and show me the correct way. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, April 19: 1Samuel 7- Sheep need a shepherd.

Like sheep, Israel was prone to wander from the Lord. A neighbor’s god seems to bless them and so Israel turns to the neighbor’s god. A neighboring people finds success so Israel tries out the country’s god. Over time Israel is worshipping this god and that god and maybe the Lord alongside of those other gods.

When the Lord returns the Ark, Israel turned back to the Lord. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only (2b-4).

Samuel understood that fidelity to the Lord was the foundation for the nation. The Lord was their strength, their protection, their wisdom, their everything. When Israel trusted the Lord they prospered. When they followed the Lord’s direction they prospered. When they went their own way and adopted other gods they faulted.

Over and over again God welcomes them back when they repent.

As I considered this chapter I realized Israel’s story is my story. I, too, drift from the Lord. It is not so much that I out and out turn my back on the Lord, but I drift. I start to trust my intuition rather than rely of the Lord and His wisdom. Then God gets my attention and as soon as I turn back to Him He welcomes me and calls me to deeper fidelity.

Samuel knows that fidelity to the Lord is the KEY ingredient for a faithful Israel so at the first sign of returning to the Lord he declares what they all need to do.

Samuel’s role causes me to ask, “Who speaks truth into my life… into your life?”

Sheep need a shepherd. We all need someone who can speak truth into our lives, like Samuel did for Israel.

Oh, Lord, continue to provide voices who can speak Your truth into my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, April 18: 1Samuel 6- One God.

There is no confusion, no possibility of happenstance or mere ‘chance’ that the Ark made it back to Israel on its ‘own.’ The text is absolutely clear God brought the Ark home. All Philistia knew that and still they refused to believe.

I was surprised to read that Philistia knew the exploits of the Lord that brought Israel out of Egypt. The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way? (4-6 bold mine).

The Philistines hold no reverence for the Lord as their God or the true God, but they did know the miraculous story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt by the Lord. I wondered how this could be, then I realized only a people with monotheistic beliefs would be concerned about a true God or one true God. Others in the world, like Philistines, had many gods and what mattered was ‘if my god was stronger than your god’.

I accept the Israelite notion that there is only one God who created heaven and earth… all that is and will be. I believe this God existed before time and matter. I believe in the God presented in the Scriptures. I believe in the Father, Jesus, the only Son and the Holy Spirit –the Trinity –one God in 3 persons.

I believe… do you?

I believe and so I bow before God. I worship and surrender my life to serve the living and true God for all of my days.

Praise be to You, Lord God Almighty, the one God I will worship, adore and follow. To You be honor and glory. To You be all praise. To You alone… May my life bring You honor and glory. Amen and amen.



Monday, April 17: 1Samuel 5- The Lord is real and he is alive.

The Ark was not magical, but it was filled with the presence of the Lord.   When the Lord wants to manifest His presence, He can and will.

God was not going to be manipulated by Israel, especially since sin was the root cause of Israel’s defeat (yesterday’s chapter) but the Lord chose to prove Himself before a pagan god.

The Lord’s desire is that His name is revered by all people. The Philistines may not have worshipped the Lord but they certainly revered His presence and power!

After chewing on all this I switched from then to now.

Do I revere the Lord? How have I seen the Lord show Himself in presence and power?

I have not seen grand miracles on the scale of what I read in the Bible… but I believe them. The greatest miracle of all is the resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrated yesterday. Jesus has touched my life in too many ways for me to include here but as I sit, acts and blessings of God flash through my memory.

The Lord is real and I would stake my life on that!

His presence at times is palpable.  I have felt His presence during worship and at countless other times. This morning I woke up singing His praises. The Lord God had been with me all night.

The Lord is real and I would stake my life on that! Halleluiah!

Jesus Christ is risen today (and tomorrow and the next day...) Alleluia! Amen.


Saturday, April 15: 1Samuel 4- .

Israel loses a battle so they grab the Ark of the Covenant (God’s footstool on earth) and bring the Ark with them the next day in battle and they lose even more decisively.

The account sparked thoughts about how we sometimes treat God as a ‘magic wand’ or a ‘sugar-daddy’.

Missing from the account is any checking in with the Lord. They don’t pause after the first defeat to see if any sin has happened, as Joshua did after the first loss to Ai. They don’t go to the Lord to see if He has a plan for them, instead they just grab the Ark as if it is a magic shield and charge into battle.

I’m reminded of the Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Germans are looking for the Ark, believing that the Ark makes an army invincible.

That’s what Israel did. They treated God as a force or a security shield, something to be used for their benefit. In these instances, God or God’s earthy representation –i.e. the Ark –becomes a tool we use to get what we want.

It didn’t work for Israel and it won’t work for us today.

While I don’t have the ark or a relic of some kind I (and we) can subtly fall into a similar behavior. If I pray a certain prayer, God must answer as I wish. If I give xx amount of money to the church or some ministry, God will repay be 10-fold. If someone tells me that they did this or that spiritual thing and God blessed them. If I do that same practice, expecting God to bless me, I am treating God like Israel treated the Ark… a tool to be used for my benefit.

The Lord calls us into relationship. Now, a relationship suggests two-way communication and in this case, since the Lord is God, I submit to Him.  I must never treat the Lord as if He submits to me!

Lord, You are my treasure and my delight. I am sorry for any times I have fallen into the trap of thinking I can control You. Forgive me for any arrogance I ever express toward You. I am sorry and humbly repent. Open my eyes to any behaviors, attitudes or tendencies I have to trivialize You. I love You, Lord, and I desire to serve and honor You all the days of my life. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Good Friday, April 14: 1Samuel 3- Learning to know God's voice.

For Samuel to fulfill God’s destiny for his life, Samuel had to grow in knowing the Lord and discerning God’s voice. So the Lord began training Samuel to recognize His voice.

Samuel’s story raises the question for me… Have I learned to recognize God’s voice?

The Lord still speaks to His people. Preeminently the Lord has spoken through Jesus, the Word and through the Bible as the written Word of God. Knowing the Word and studying Jesus are core behaviors if I want to discern the voice of the Lord. These are the baseline for every Christ-follower.

The Lord also continues to speak to individuals through the Holy Spirit. Discerning the nudges, whispers, dreams, visions and promptings of God, the Holy Spirit, is part of a faith-filled life.

Jesus said, ‘My sheep know my voice (John 10:27)… And Samuel’s story reminds me to pay attention to the voice of the Lord and to commit myself to learning to discern God’s voice from all the other voices –the world, the flesh and the devil –that seek to influence me during the course of everyday life.

Oh, Lord, to be faithful to You I must know Your voice, understand Your promptings and to obey as You lead. Teach me and train me. Open my ears to Your voice that I may follow You more faithfully every day of my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, April 13: 1Samuel 2- Sin under our noses.

Eli’s story is a sad tale of a respected person who does not deal with sin under his nose. By all accounts Eli himself was a good man. But he allowed his sons to run amuck. They openly and brazenly sinned. Everyone knew their sin. Eli confronted his sons about their sin, but he was not willing to deal with them when they refused to repent and change. He turned a blind eye to the behavior of his sons, but God did not turn a blind eye. The governance and faithfulness of the people of Israel were being harmed.

The Lord may not deal with every person who turns a blind eye to sin within his or her sphere of influence like he did with Eli… but He may. It is within God’s prerogative to handle each case as He sees fit. Whether God deals with our sin in this lifetime or in the moment of our final judgment, we can be certain that God will deal with our sin.

As I sit with the Lord this morning His voice is clear. I am responsible for my life and those under my influence.

First for myself.  Am I examining my life and bringing to the Lord those areas of known sin? Am I sitting with the Lord and listening for His voice warning me about areas of sin that are not obvious to me?

With others in my sphere of authority and influence, am I willing to do the same for them… gently, fairly and redemptively?

Sin, and in particular obvious and open sin, is a big deal to the Lord and should be to us.

Lord, give me true moments of reflection where I can face my life, surrendering myself to You and confessing my sin and failures to You alone who can redeem, forgive and restore. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, April 12: 1Samuel 1- God breaks into 'our' world.

I found myself wondering this morning why a number of very important accounts of the Bible begin with barren parents? Zechariah and Elizabeth, Abraham and Sarah, and now Hannah & Elkanah.

I noticed that each of the sons played pivotal role in salvation history –John the Baptist, the Patriarch Isaac and Samuel the prophet. Also, each account highlights the providential work of God ending barrenness and providing the Son. God, in essence, brings something out of nothing and blesses His people through His miraculous action.

As I pondered these events, it occurred to me that each shows how God can and does break into our world.

Looking at what I just wrote I was stopped in my tracks. I called it our world?! Isn’t that how we think of life and the earth… as ‘our world.’ As I roll that thought around in my head, we do kind of think of the world as ours… as if we own it. We treat it as a ‘thing’ we possess. Sometimes we take good care of it, but often times not.

·         All the pollution that is destroying our air and water; clear cutting timber which ruins soil, allowing for extreme erosion, etc.

Sometimes we think we are helping our earth but it turns out we are not helping at all:

·         For years the National Park Service put out all naturally occurring fires. This was their best wisdom, but it turned out to create more problems than it prevented.

We live as if we ‘own our world’ but in truth it is God’s world not ours. We are stewards and God is the ‘owner.’ Although God has set up this world to run by certain natural laws, God can override those rules when He chooses, like opening barren wombs.  Consider Abraham and Sarah who were well past the time when human reproductive cycles have ended. We don’t know the particulars of Elkanah and Hannah but it is clear that she was barren for quite a while and in response to prayer God opened her womb. Her son would become a major personality in the life of Israel.

As I wind down this morning, the Lord is reminding me I live in His world. It is not mine. I am His steward, managing things for Him. So I need to ask myself, ‘Am I living in ways that please Him? Am I watching over His world with diligence that honors Him?’

Lord, may I honor Your world today… and always. Enjoying it. Marveling in it.  Caring for it as You would care for Your creation. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


This morning was an interesting journey sparked by the story of Hannah! Oh, the joys of walking with the Lord…



Tuesday, April 11: Galatians 6- Be a good-doer.


Paul continues his challenge for us, as Christ followers, to live our faith, to act differently,  act more kindly and lovingly than people who do not follow Jesus and who are not filled by God’s Spirit.

My heart latched onto Paul’s one-sentence call of duty. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (10).

Doing good to all people… that’s what God asks of us. I pondered the elements of that sentence.

Doing Good: being kind, loving, holding my tongue, helping people, putting self aside to care for others. Yesterday’s description of the fruit of a converted life … love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (5:22-23) filled my thoughts as I tried to picture doing good. It is a tall order but one God has graced us to fulfill.

To All people: this is staggering. I am to do good to people I like and people I don’t like. I am to do good to people I know and strangers who cross my path. I am to do good to people who look like me and people who are very different from me.

This is an incredible call to Christ followers…

And it is all the more challenging in our present world of discord, derision and division. We, the Church of Jesus, should be leading the way to smoothing the present discord by loving others, all others.

It is easiest for me to consider other people, but the nudge of my heart is to take a hard look at my own life.  Am I a ‘good doer’? Do I rank and order those I care for and those I do not? When I see a need do I try to fill it, or simply pass by?

These are tough questions because I am such a mixed bag…

Oh, God, help me to be a good doer! Help me to do so, so that Your light within me will shine brightly and point people to You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, April 10: Galatians 5- Free to love and free to serve.

Paul has been strongly coming after the Galatians that they should not seek circumcision… Why? Because when a person is circumcised they are binding themselves to follow the whole Law and if we are seeking God through the Law then we are not seeking Him through faith!

If we are operating through faith then we are free… Freedom in Christ is a beautiful and wonderful gift from God. Sometimes, however, people misunderstand our freedom, thinking we are free to sin and God will just forgive us. While He will always forgive confessed sin, our freedom is freedom to love and freedom to serve. We are no longer bound by the enemy and we are no longer bound to sin. We have been set free to love and serve. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (13).

The chapter closes with a beautiful expression of our freedom… living into the fruit of the Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (22-23). We are free to live this way… Oh that I would live into my freedom.

How different our world would be if all Christ-followers lived this way…

Oh, Lord, help me to indulge true freedom… to lavish love on others, to live with joy overflowing through me, to live at peace with You and others no matter the circumstances. It is for freedom that I have been set free.  May I live fully free. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, April 8: Galatians 4- Children of promise.

Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise (28).

What a rich image. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are children of promise. Paul uses the analogy of Esau and Isaac, with Isaac being the child of promise. Esau was a ‘natural child’ born of Abraham and Hagar. However, Isaac was a miracle baby, born of Abraham and Sarah both of whom were old (100 and 90 respectively).  Sarah, as you can understand, was well past child bearing age and yet God allowed them to conceive.  Isaac was the fruit of their union.

Isaac was also the son promised to Abraham through whom God would make a great people, which God did! Isaac was the son through whom God’s promise was realized; hence he is the ‘son of promise.’

The wonder of this passage is that Paul equates us –Gentiles believers –as children of promise. God will use us to fulfill His promise to make disciples in every tribe and language and nation and people. We, as ‘children of promise’, are heirs to God’s kingdom and kingdom blessings.

As children of the King we have a responsibility, too, to live as children of the King and ‘keepers and spreaders’ of the blessings of God to the world. We are not ‘children of promise’ for our own sake… we are ‘children of promise’ to bless the world by our presence, witness and manner of living!

God’s still small voice whispers… “Rise up and live into your promise. Seek Me, the promise keeper, and be about my bidding…”

Hmmm… a challenge for today and all the remaining todays the Lord gives me this side of eternity.

Lord God, giver of promise and blessing, I pray for strength and wisdom to live for You today. And in so doing honoring Your promises which You lavishly and graciously gave to me. Thank You and bless You. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Friday, April 7: Galatians 3- Importance and power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul poses two questions that he aims at people who are returning to dependence on the law rather than faith in Christ. These questions, it seems to me, also challenge rule driven, ritualistic lifeless Christianity. Paul writes:

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? (2)

So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? (5)

I wonder how many Christians can even make sense of these questions.

Is the ‘receiving of the Holy Spirit’ a part of your Christian faith?

Clearly Paul is speaking about some ‘happening’ in the person’s life to which they can point.  This receiving of the Spirit seems to be more than a momentary happening –whatever that maybe. The second sentence liken the ‘giving of the spirit’ to ‘miracles among you.’

Paul’s understanding of Christianity is far more robust and life changing than many (most) of us experience.

I am wondering this morning… what gives? Why does much of Christianity today seem devoid of the touch by the finger and works of God than it was in Paul’s day?

The difference has to be more than mere theology. Are we so comfortable today in life and in our cultures that we don’t need God’s touch or miracles to live?

Are we so unimpressive in our witness for Jesus that He doesn’t need to show Himself through miracles?

So God has me wondering about powerless Christianity and our lack of need for God’s miraculous workings…

Oh, Lord, I pray for a desire to know You in Your fullness. Increase my need for You. Increase my witness for You.  Increase my desire to see You work in and through me in ways that defy mere human wisdom or skill.  Increase my desire to depend on Your touch, Your works, Your miracles. I love You, Lord God, and I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, April 6: Galatians 2- Only one way.

We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified (15-16).

There is only one path to freedom, one way of salvation, our faith in Jesus Christ.

There is no way a human being can merit her or his way into God’s good graces. There is nothing we can do, no human pietism that will cause us to be justified before God except faith in Jesus Christ.

It does not matter what our beginnings Jew or Gentile, male or female, northern hemisphere or southern hemisphere, Asian, African, European, American, or Australian, Caucasian, Black, Latino, Asian or mixed, only simple faith in Jesus –no extras needed –brings justification before the righteous and pure God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.

There are times when every person must ask her or himself… is your faith in Jesus, the one thing that gives you hope of right standing before God?

Think about it.

I know I am…

Lord, let me not corrupt perfect faith in Jesus with any sense that something I have done, am doing or will do enhances my ‘chances’ before You. Instead give me strength to cling to Jesus and faith in Jesus alone for my justification and salvation. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, April 5: Galatians 1- What's your journey in Christ been like?.

Paul provides a brief picture of his early years in Christ… time in Arabia, then Damascus. Then he took a two-week trip to Jerusalem to check in with Peter and James. His early years were spent with the Lord.  I wonder what that time was like?  From the book of Acts I know about his time on the Damascus Road and Ananias praying for him (Acts 9).  Then his later travels planting churches.

Reading Paul’s story caused me to ponder mine. We all have a story. And for believers in Jesus our story includes how God brought us to faith in Jesus.

As part of an elder leadership process my church elders and I are completing each of us had to write a spiritual autobiography. Writing my spiritual autobiography took some pondering thought, walking through my life from earliest remembrances to the present day. It included my coming to faith in Jesus but so much more. When I put mine together I chose to write about my early years, my time of conversion and my journey following God’s leading as I grew in my faith in Jesus.

It was a wonderful exercise, I heartily recommend everyone take the time to think through and write out their spiritual autobiography. There were so many places and times that God spoke into my life leading me to my moment of conversion. Then there were many more times after my conversion leading me to where I am today. It is so easy to forget all that God has done; and if not forgotten I easily push them to the side. By taking the time to recall my life and to see the many God-sightings throughout my life was wonderful, encouraging and life giving.

As part of our elder process we each told our spiritual autobiography to the elders at a meeting taking between 20 and 30 minutes each. The months that we told our stories I was touched by every story. God worked with each of us in different yet profound ways through ups and downs, in times of faithfulness and sin.

It was wonderful to hear God’s story in ours. Hearing Paul this morning brought back many of my own encounters with the Lord.

If you haven’t ever taken the time to pondered how you came to faith, then I encourage you to take some time over the next few days to do so…

Thank You, Lord, for my story. For the ways you worked in my life from the moment of my conception till you brought me to faith in Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for the ways You continually work in my life to bring about Your will. I rest in You. Halleluiah. Amen.


Tuesday, April 4: Luke 24- God keeps his promise.

Jesus not only predicted His death; astonishingly He predicted His resurrection and the two events are intrinsically linked. If there was no resurrection then His death would have been in vain. He would have become just another big mouth who was silenced by death.

When the women came to the tomb, they met two men who told them, He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’ ” (6-7).

At this they remembered what Jesus had taught them. On two separate occasions Luke 9:22-27 and 18:31-33 Jesus told His people that He would rise again. His resurrection is His vindication. It is the truth indicator of what He taught. If this is real than all He taught is real. If this is not real then could anything He taught be trusted?

And His resurrection prediction was not a secret only His disciples knew. Matthew records that the Jewish leaders all knew what Jesus was teaching about His rising from the dead. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard (Matthew 27:62-66).

With His death and resurrection, God has bridged the gap between human sin and invited people to believe in Jesus.

Do you believe?

I do and this chapter brings life into my heart, mind and soul.

Oh, Lord Jesus, I praise and thank You. You walked that lonely road to Calvary and the grave to prove the point that You are Messiah, God’s redeeming Son. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You.

In Your name I pray. Halleluiah. Amen.



Monday, April 3: Luke 23- To save me and you and all who believe.

Jesus died so that I could be forgiven and redeemed.

Jesus paid my penalty and the penalty for everyone who believes.

To say that Jesus is merely a wonderful teacher is to miss the significance of the end of the Gospels. Jesus came to pay the price we humans could never pay.

To say Jesus is merely a great teacher is to miss the end of the Gospels… His death and eventually His resurrection.

Today I made it a point not to miss the climax of Jesus’ story… His death on the cross. Something He predicted. Jesus is not a victim; He is God’s agent of atonement and salvation…

Thank You, Jesus… thank You. Amen.


Saturday, April 1: Luke 22- How quickly things can turn.

Jesus was teaching, crowds were listening, then turn the page and the Passover is celebrated and Jesus is arrested and tried. Just like that things can change.

And things can change within us just like that as well…

During the Passover meal Jesus’ explanation about the cup being poured out for them is barely off His lips when He announces that someone at the table will betray Him. At that the disciples began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this (23). You can almost hear the conversation switch as a chorus of “not me” breaks out among the twelve. How quickly the situation can turn…

But the disciples aren’t done. Their chorus of “not me’s” flips on its head into a braggadocios display of who is the best among them. So heated became the bragging that Luke calls it a dispute. A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest (24).

These soon-to-be pillars of the faith dissolve into a petty argument about who is the greatest. What a disappointing moment.

How quickly we can turn from the important to the inane.

How quickly we can go from the sacred to the secular.

How quickly we can dissolve into selfishness to protect self or honor or …

Sadly, in the disciples I see myself and how quickly I can devolve into pettiness!

Oh, God, teach me how to control my sin-filled nature. Give me victory over selfishness and pride, over needing to be best and destroying others –in thought, word or deed –in order to ‘maintain’ my reputation.

Oh, God, make me to be more like the disciples post-Pentecost rather than pre-Crucifixion. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.