1Chron 3 to 5 We love reading about the positive, strong role models in scripture such as Joshua, but we are to remember that Christ died for all, the noble and the ignoble.
Don’t get bogged down in these genealogical records, but as you read, sort out the character qualities of the families. Make a list of those that are pleasing to the Lord and choose to emulate them. For instance, how about Jabez? His life began in the birth canal, where he struggled to come forth. It seems that his Mother recorded that fact or reminded him of it throughout his life. He boldly went to God and poured out his heart to Him, who knows all things in eternity past, today and tomorrow.
The Chronicler tells us that Jabez was more honorable than all of his brothers. Yet, it appears he did not Lord it over them; he was instead a humble man who earnestly desired God’s best for himself. While his brothers may have been out building altars and worshiping idols, Jabez was worshiping God.
Jabez began his prayer humbly: “if you…” Jabez left no stone unturned; I want the full scope of the blessing! He even noted what that blessing would entail and included, protect me. He wanted or sensed he needed a hedge of protection and that he might not endure pain. That closes the circle from Mother’s words; I brought you forth in pain.
What are the marks of a humble person? They are willing to wait on God’s plan and timing. Joshua is such a man; a picture of true humility. He had waited over 47+/- years to achieve a place of rest since leaving Egypt’s slavery. He had seen the wonders of God at work in Egypt; he had been a faithful spy at Kadesh Barnea and had been a faithful servant of the Lord under Moses. He then led the children of Israel over seven years as they conquered the land and until every one of the Lord’s faithful promises to the family of Israel was completed. He waited patiently for his inheritance. He didn’t ask for land but only a city. Humble people are satisfied with the least and are willing to wait until others have their share. Humble people are those who do not seek glory or honor but only that which pleases the Lord. Joshua only wanted what the Lord wanted. God has placed this man for us to study and to learn exactly what God requires and desires.God “has told you…to carry out justice, to love faithfulness, and to live obediently before your God.” [Mic 6:8]
Today may we take our lesson from this man and learn from him how to please God.
Genesis 38-40 We have seen the shame of Jacob’s sons. They are jealous, envious, and hateful to their younger brother Joseph. They scheme and finalize a sale of him to the Midianites. Ever willing to go the extra mile to cover his guilt, Judah leaves home, so he doesn’t have to see his father in his continual mourning state. You can run away, but at some point, you can be sure “your sin will find you out.” [Num. 32:23] Judah “went down” to his BFF’s home. Whenever we see that phrase, we can know Satan is at work behind the scenes. What better participant than Judah, who despised his inheritance much like Esau. As Satan seeks to undermine God’s plan by escalating the price, God will have the last word in His providential care of His own. Tamar is God’s tool to reveal to Judah that another is more righteous than he. That must have been a blow to his ego! Years later, we will see how God will use that truth to break his spirit, so stay tuned for the rest of the story.
In between this ego-driven story of unrighteousness, we are given the picture of God’s righteous servant Joseph. Although imprisoned falsely, he states what every believer should say when Satan tempts. “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” [Gen 39:9]
What is God teaching us through these two men? [Job 23:10] But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. and “Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked” [Prov 13:6]
Ezekiel 1 to 3 Imagine being in captivity on your birthday. You have traveled over 900 miles with this group of captives. He knew their behavior, their attitude, and their grumbling. As he stood by the river in this strange land, he wondered what life would be like in this strange barren land. Behind him stands the city of Babylon with impenetrable walls. Jerusalem and God’s Temple is now thousands of miles away. This year would be like no other and Ezekiel would not celebrate with cake and presents. Instead, his gift is a dramatic encounter or vision of God Himself. It was so majestic that he fell on his face in adoration.
Was it a mirage or was it real? Twice God opened heaven and shared his throne room with Ezekiel. He saw something extraordinary and its beauty was beyond that of the Temple he remembers. As he stood by the riverbank, Ezekiel remembers it as the day God called him to be a watchman for these captives who are rebellious, hardheaded and hardhearted whether they listened or not. He knows these people and he knows their language. He would be God’s prophet so that they would be without excuse.
You may be like the captives away from familiar sights and sounds but God wants you to know that He remembers you wherever you are.
2Kings 4-6 Today many wish they had a double portion of Elijah’s power to eradicate this dratted virus that has us quarantined. Instead, God has given us not a double portion of miraculous powers but the power of the Word so we might bear fruit in every good deed growing in the knowledge of God. [Col1]
Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s power, and
Elijah granted it should Elisha see him depart to heaven. Elisha then used that power to give hope to
the widow whose husband had been a loyal follower of the Lord but now was near
destitution because her bank account was empty. The next was the raising of the
dead child of the Shunammite woman. And then he healed the poisoned stew. Elisha used his power to alleviate suffering,
provide healing, and even locate a lost ax head. Elisha sought to be of help to all of these
and, most likely, many more. Elisha is an example to us of how we may use our
talents and gifts to bless God’s people.
What have you been given that you can share with others? Are
you actively looking to share”
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” [Acts 20]
1Kings 17-19 Today people are beginning to grumble because their comfort zone has been disrupted. They have lost their trust in government officials, others, and even the God of the Bible. They just want the problem fixed which is precisely what the wicked King Ahab wanted too. Yet God is God, and He will not share his glory with another. To teach the evil king and queen, God will use his faithful prophet Elijah to remind us that nothing is too hard for God. He is Jehovah Jireh, our provider.
First, Elijah needs a place of refuge from the wicked king
and queen. When the brook dries up, and the food is no more, God sends him to a
widow outside the land. Here God tests Elijah with the death of the child. Will
he trust God to raise a little boy from the dead? Will the widow learn that
Elijah is God’s prophet? In the
meantime, God provides a simple man named Obadiah to show weary Elijah the
truth that no problem is too hard for God. Obadiah protected and provided a
place of refuge for God’s prophets. Step by step, God provided for every need.
And when Elijah was weary, He provided a replacement in Elisha to accompany
If He could use the unclean ravens or an unnamed widow or an Obadiah, will He not provide for our every need? Yet if God provided for Elijah, will He not do the same for us? Do you trust Him to take care of your essentials this day? “in God I trust, I am not afraid. What can mere men do to me?” [Ps 56]
After Paul left Galatia, grievous wolves had entered and
taken captive their hearts. Paul said to them, “I am astonished that you are so
quickly deserting…” The author of 1Kings has recorded the story of the
disobedient unnamed prophet sent to the wicked king Jeroboam. Before we judge
this prophet harshly, we need to stop and see ourselves in this tale.
The prophet had stood tall and strong in the face of
Jeroboam to warn him! God had sent a sign by Jeroboam’s shriveled hand and the
broken altar. He had refused Jeroboam’s gracious gift of a meal and rest. YET—on
his way home, he stopped to rest. God had said not to eat or drink or return
the same way, but not about resting. An old man approached him, saying he too
was a prophet with an angelic message. Was the old man a true prophet? This is
when we let our guard down! We wonder why the prophet did not ask God for confirmation.
But…why do we not ask God when we hear someone say, God has told me to tell you
this or that? Beware of contradicting messages; if it sounds too good to be
true, it probably isn’t. God is not a man that changes his mind. If we want to
know, pray and ask for discernment. Be forewarned; the adversary can use even
what seems like righteous words.
Stay alert! Be on your guard. Check the source; be like the Bereans in Acts 17. Check to see if it is true.
One year when I was teaching, I had six sets of identical twins
and one set of identical triplets! The children who attended all wore uniforms,
so it was a challenge to differentiate between them! The Prophet Samuel’s two
sons who were so similar they could have been twins but they walked in the ways
of the world, not Samuel’s. It was not just one of the sons, but both walked
contrary to the ways of Samuel, and they did so publicly. Every godly parent,
just like Samuel, wants their children to follow the path of godliness, but
sometimes children do not. We say they “march to their own drummer.” The
leaders of the nation came to Samuel to give them a replacement in a king. They
wanted to look like twins. They wanted to look like the nations around them
with a king to rule and fight for them.
Samuel’s heart was broken to hear the leaders say: “we reject your
sons.” But God told Samuel: “Listen
to the voice of the people regarding all that they say to you, for they have
not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them;” and
remind them of the consequences of their decision.
Proverbs tells us to raise up a child in the way he should go, and
he will not depart from it. [Prov 22:6] But sometimes no matter how diligent we
are, some children will seek the world, not God.
If this resonates with you, know that we are here to pray for you
if you have children who march to their own drummer, not God’s.
God loves all people, but not all people love God, unfortunately. When you read the book of Judges, you need to keep that information front and center; otherwise, you will miss the blessings that He has for you.
In Judges 13, we meet a barren woman and her husband. Both are godly people, but it seems that God, in particular, loves infertile women, and in this story, this woman, we will call her “Mrs. Manoah.” She, like Elizabeth in Luke 1 and Hannah in the book of 1Samuel, is barren. To be infertile is a stigma, and God hears her heart. For four chapters, we read about this dear woman who will soon have her heart’s desire in a son named Samson. It is the “Mrs.” who is busy in the field and meets the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like Zechariah, when Manoah heard that his wife would bear a child, he needed more confirmation. And, both sons, John the Baptist and Samson would be a Nazarite.
Mr. Manoah may not have understood all the details about Samson’s birth, but he is commended for his obedience and faith as he entreated the Lord. And like Jacob, wants to know the name of the “man of God.” He needs confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then has a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.” Not so, Mrs. Manoah! She was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear things like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.
When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?