Coming Soon: December 22-31, 2019 (Sun-Tues): Read through Job and Revelation

Coming soon to a theater near you. Do you remember the big hoopla surrounding Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame movie as it completed the story set in motion by the previous movie Avengers: Infinity War? It was highly anticipated since fans just had to see what would happen after many of their screen heroes [spoiler alert] had dissolved into the wind in Infinity War. There was much speculation about how the writers would deal with all of the superhero deaths from Infinity War. Anticipation mounted and eventually came to a head at the release of Endgame, and over $350 million dollars later after the close of opening weekend, apparently many fans saw the outcome. Many people can’t care less about superhero movies, so they go about their lives in ignorance to Thanos and Iron Man and Captain America. They don’t care about infinity stones and the life-vanishing snap, and, in reality, they’re right. The Marvel movies are just far-fetched make-believe.

What I want you to see through this is the anticipation and build-up for a grand finish. In a much more superior way, Jesus has left the earth to prepare a place for believers, for His people. The anticipation is not waiting a mere one year for the concluding movie. It’s waiting generation after generation for the unknown return of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Ruler of the universe who has the actual power to snuff out life with a snap. At the end of the book of Revelation, Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Then John the apostle follows up with “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

Are you prepared to meet Him? How’s your anticipation?

This week you’ll read…

Job 33-42: The Lord said to Job, “Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Do they report to you: ‘Here we are’?” (Job 38 CSB)

Revelation 13-22: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22 CSB).

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Looking: December 15-21, 2019 (Sun-Sat): Reading through Job and Revelation

Have you ever looked and looked for something and couldn’t find it? You misplaced your cell phone. Did you set it down somewhere? Did it fall out of your pocket? At times, our lost objects end up staying lost. Maybe most of the time, we find our lost things. At other times, we may know where it is, but it’s lost to us like when a teenager dropped an iPhone down an outhouse-type toilet on top of a mountain in the Colorado Rockies. The teen knew where it was—20 or more feet down, but it was gone for good.

Speaking of looking, a middle-aged wife was looking for something and couldn’t find it anywhere. The husband was encouraged to look as well, and, upon his finding it, he let his wife know that he had found it. Then he turned to her and said, “Honey, you just don’t look as good as you used to.”

The Old Testament man Job was in a looking moment, too. God allowed the devil to afflict him, and he was also being verbally pummeled by his know-it-all so-called friends. Job felt that he couldn’t find God. In the midst of his affliction, he was looking, but he was turning up empty-handed. “Then Job answered: …His hand is heavy despite my groaning. If only I knew how to find Him, so that I could go to His throne. …If I go east, He is not there, and if I go west, I cannot perceive Him. When He is at work to the north, I cannot see Him; when He turns south, I cannot find Him. Yet He knows the way I have taken…” (Job 23).

Isn’t that how we feel at times, too? We journey through some dark valley, and it seems that God doesn’t hear our cries or has abandoned us. We feel that our prayers are not reaching Him for some reason. God’s silence can be an awful noise to us when we’re in a bad way. Now the truth is that we could have unconfessed sin or an unrepentant lifestyle to blame for the silence, but sometimes there is not really any human reason why the silence exists. It could be as in Job’s case: we’re just getting our fill of affliction from the enemy. However, we need to do some soul-searching anyway. Our affliction should be a reminder to return to God whether we’ve strayed or not, and if we still can’t find God, trust that He’s there even when we can’t feel Him—even when our feelings are betraying us.

This week you’ll read…

Job 22-32: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman” (Job 31 NLT)

Revelation 6-12: “Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels also fought, but he could not prevail, and there was no place for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was thrown out—the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him” (Revelation 12 CSB).

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Reveal: December 8-14, 2019 (Sun-Sat): Read through Job, Ecclesiastes, and Revelation

One of the greatest parts of Christmas is the revealing of a gift to a child. Anticipation builds throughout the season as a young boy sees his gifts under the tree just waiting for him to tear into the wrapping paper and find out what’s inside. A young girl’s eyes widen as she sees her long-awaited toy. At times, one of my daughters will open a present with joy, and her tender heart will begin leaking from her eyes. My wife and kids think that I don’t like my presents because I’m reserved in my expression and more even keeled, but I enjoy the big reveal as much as them, well, maybe not as much as my youngest. Now let your thoughts travel across the world. Imagine the anticipation which a child has in a third world country as she is waiting to receive her Operation Christmas Child shoebox filled with toys and essentials. At Christmas, we relish the revelations, but truly the greatest part of Christmas is the meaning of it—the revelation of God to the world in the person of Jesus. However, let’s not merely focus on God as the Babe in Bethlehem. We must reinforce to our children and ourselves that He is also the Humble Healer from Nazareth, the Sinless Savior on Calvary, the Death Destroyer in the Garden, and the Returning Redeemer from Heaven.

In John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ, we get a glimpse of the Conquering King. God began the big reveal to mankind when Jesus came to the earth to live within Mary’s womb and be birthed on that bright-starred night. However, Jesus’ second coming will be completely unveiled and revealed to the world. “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen” (Revelation 1:7 CSB). Are you longing for His return—His revelation? Are you prepared to meet Him?

This week you’ll read…

Job 13-21: “If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom!” (Job 13 CSB)

Ecclesiastes 9-12: “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12 CSB).

Revelation 1-5: “And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You purchased people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language
and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5 CSB).

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Devil: December 1-7, 2019 (Sun-Sat): Read through Job and Ecclesiastes

Devil. Accuser. Slanderer. Satan. Adversary. That’s what he is to us. He opposes God and the pinnacle of God’s creation. He’s our adversary, the prowling lion looking for someone to devour. He’s our accuser, speaking lies into our minds, belittling our importance to God, sowing doubt in the believer, slandering God and His word. He’s a master. He’s good at what he does—being bad and conniving. You’ve listened to him and believed him. You’ve stepped into his trap, sat mesmerized by his deception. He’s a master manipulator, pitting Christian against Christian, husband against wife, child against parent.

Some people view the devil as God’s opposite, but that would exalt our enemy and degrade our God. God has no opposite. Sure, the devil is the mightiest opponent of God and man, but he’s only a fallen angel. He’s limited. He’s a rebellious, finite part of God’s creation. In Job 1 and 2, the angels went to God to report what was going on. Satan, an angel himself though fallen, appears as well to report to God. So, no matter how strong and devious he is, that ancient serpent answers to God. He’s not slithering around unchecked. I love how Martin Luther, one of the Reformers in the Middle Ages, described Satan. He said, “Even the devil is God’s devil.”

As you go through your week, be wary of your cunning adversary, but take heart that he’s governed by God and subject to the Savior. In Christ, you have all the power necessary to stand against him in the evil day and having done all to keep standing.

This week you’ll read…

Job 1-12: “One day the sons of God came again to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before the Lord” (Job 2 CSB).

Ecclesiastes 1-8: “What was will be again, what happened will happen again. There’s nothing new on this earth. Year after year it’s the same old thing” (Ecclesiastes 1 MSG)

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Do-Nothing Sin: November 22-30, 2019 (Fri-Sat): Read through Proverbs, Ezekiel, and John

Have you ever sinned? Of course, you have. That’s our problem. We sin by doing wrong things. A needlessly harsh word is spoken to a loved one, employee, or co-worker. Unethical business practices lead us down a dead-end street. Sexual temptation gets the best of us. Uncontrolled anger spills out. But we sin in our minds as well. We dwell on thoughts that tear us down. Bitterness takes root as we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts. An affair begins in the mind with a co-worker. Self-hate robs our joy because we’re preoccupied with ourselves and not the Lord. Sin is an act, or it can be locked away in our heads. Either way, it brings destruction into our lives and into the lives of others.

However, there is do-nothing sin as well. Sometimes we fail to act. We don’t want to get involved, so we pass up people in need. We don’t have time to serve, so we miss out on ministry and turn a blind eye to servants who are in desperate need of ministry partners. We get preoccupied with our own abilities and neglect prayer or Bible study. We hold on to the gospel as our personal treasure unwilling to see it as a ransom to be shared with the world. God spoke through Ezekiel telling us of the watchman who could see a threat coming but did nothing to warn the people. Whether warned or not, the people were culpable for their own sin, but the watchman heaped sin upon himself by not warning the people. Their blood would be on his hands. It was a do-nothing sin.

As you go about your life this week, avoid committing sin. Think about what’s right and good, but also do the good which you know that you should be doing because if you don’t do it, your doing nothing is contributing to the sin in our land and helping unrighteousness to flourish.

This week you’ll read…

Proverbs 23-31: “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised” (Proverbs 31 CSB).

Ezekiel 32-48: “‘However, suppose the watchman sees the sword coming but doesn’t blow the trumpet, so that the people aren’t warned, and the sword comes and takes away their lives. Then they have been taken away because of their iniquity, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood’” (Ezekiel 33 CSB).

John 15-21: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20 CSB).

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Shepherd: November 15-21, 2019 (Fri-Thurs): Read through Proverbs, Ezekiel, and John

When I was younger, I would have described a shepherd as a dude wearing a robe and having a towel tied around his head. He also would be wearing sandals and carrying a crooked walking stick. While that does describe the attire of shepherds in Jesus’ day (and some in this day, too), a shepherd is much more that what he wears. In fact, Jesus is the greatest example of a good shepherd. Let’s explore Psalm 23 and John 10 which both talk about the Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd cares and provides for His sheep. “The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake…You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:1-3,5).[1] Jesus said, “When He [the Good Shepherd] has brought all His own outside, He goes ahead of them” (John 10:4). The Good Shepherd leads out the sheep each day so that they can graze and find water.

The Good Shepherd leads His sheep. “He leads me beside quiet waters…He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:2-3). Jesus said, “He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought all His own outside, He goes ahead of them. The sheep follow Him because they know His voice” (John 10:3-4). The Good Shepherd knows His sheep intimately, and they know Him such that they recognize His voice and follow Him.

The Good Shepherd protects His sheep. “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4-5). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). The Good Shepherd is alert for danger because He cares for His sheep, and He is willing to give it all for the sheep because He loves them.

The Good Shepherd loves His sheep and is good to them. “Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live” (Psalm 23:6). “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). The Good Shepherd didn’t begin loving the sheep because they loved Him first. The Good Shepherd initiated love for the sheep, so His love is not contingent on the sheep’s love.

The Good Shepherd doesn’t abandon His sheep. “for you are with me…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live” (Psalm 23:4,6). “The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. This happens because he is a hired hand and doesn’t care about the sheep” (John 10:11-13). Because the Good Shepherd’s love is not based on the sheep’s love for Him, He doesn’t abandon them when times are tough or when their love for Him wanes.

I love the Good Shepherd.

This week you’ll read…

Proverbs 16-22: “All a person’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs motives” (Proverbs 16).

Ezekiel 21-31: “‘Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground; I made you a spectacle before kings” (Ezekiel 28).

John 10-14: “Jesus wept” (John 11).

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[1] All Scripture from CSB (Christian Standard Bible).

Signs Part 2: November 8-14, 2019 (Fri-Thurs): Read through Proverbs, Ezekiel, and John

We can be tricked by out-of-towners. People have been deceived by snake oil salesmen in earlier days. Shysters abound in our world including in religious circles. A miracle worker can have plants in his/her healing service and “heal” them at the appointed time. A stranger can be “healed” in your presence, but what do you have to go on? All you have is the stranger’s word and the miracle worker’s claim. They don’t have any history there. Now, don’t jump to conclusions. People are healed in the world today, but beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Once, Jesus encountered a man that was lame. He’d become pretty hopeless about being healed, so when Jesus asked if he wanted to be healed, he just started whining. This lame man was not a stranger. He’d been lame for 38 years, and lame people in Jesus’ day didn’t do much traveling. The guy was known. People knew his story. Was it an accident that left his legs twisted? Did he fall off a roof and break his spinal cord? Did he suffer from an illness that left him lame or paralyzed? Whatever it was, he was the guy with a story which his neighbors knew. That’s why when they saw him one day walking, or maybe running, jumping, or dancing, they knew something miraculous had happened. Come to find out Jesus did it. This guy was not a plant. He was a real guy with a real story who experienced a real healing by the real Son of God. Just another sign that Jesus is who He claimed to be.

A.W. Tozer once said, “The average person in the world today, without faith and without God and without hope, is engaged in a desperate personal search throughout his lifetime. He does not really know where he has been. He does not really know what he is doing here and now. He does not know where he is going. The sad commentary is that he is doing it all on borrowed time and borrowed money and borrowed strength—and he already knows that in the end he will surely die.”[1] Are you seeing the signs that He’s left along the way? I pray that you’ll fall on your knees and cry, “Jesus, You are Lord. I place my trust in You.” That could be for the first time like the lame man, or it could be a renewed trust in Christ as you’ve been bombarded with doubt and discouragement. Say it out loud: Jesus, I place my trust in You.

This week you’ll read…

Proverbs 8-15: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14 CSB).

Ezekiel 12-20: “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, you are living among a rebellious house. They have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house’” (Ezekiel 12 CSB).

John 5-9: “Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, the Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son likewise does these things” (John 5 CSB).

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on

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[1] Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes (electronic ed.) (213). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Signs: November 1-7, 2019 (Fri-Thurs): Read through Proverbs, Ezekiel, and John

I saw a sign today. Speed Limit 55 mph. Only fifteen characters, but it gives me direction on the road. We see a plethora of signs every day. They point us in a particular direction. Jesus performed many miracles during His time on earth, but John, in his gospel, calls these signs. Jesus’ miracles are signposts declaring Himself to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Just as some people heed signs while others ignore them, so the people of Jesus’ day and throughout time since then have heeded His signs or ignored them. John gives us seven signs of Jesus plus the resurrection. John could have shared a multitude of miracles which Jesus performed on this earth, yet, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, he only saw fit to include eight. Thus, we can see these miracles as strategic signs of Jesus’ divinity.

This week, we’ll read about the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. We’ll also read about a healing. Jesus touched many afflicted people, and they were healed. However, in the account of the healing of the royal official’s son in John 4, the son is near death about 17 miles away from Jesus. The Son of God assures the official that his son will live, and the father finds out when he meets his servants that it was at that hour that his son recovered. Jesus is not bound geographically regarding healing. He can pronounce something here that will be done there. Now, the account also notes that the father believed Jesus and left to go home. This surely is a key to the story, but it doesn’t diminish Jesus’ authority for He often works in conjunction with our faith. However, our faith doesn’t force God’s hand. We are merely choosing to respond in the way that He already wants us to respond to Him. The signs are all around to prompt faith to sprout and grow. Are you reading the signs? Is faith in Jesus flourishing in your heart?

This week you’ll read…

Proverbs 1-7: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3 CSB).

Ezekiel 1-11: “I looked, and there was a whirlwind coming from the north, a huge cloud with fire flashing back and forth and brilliant light all around it. In the center of the fire, there was a gleam like amber” (Ezekiel 1 CSB).

John 1-4: “Jesus did this, the first of His signs, in Cana of Galilee. He revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2 CSB).

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Scatterers: October 22-31, 2019 (Tues-Thurs): Read through Song of Songs, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum, and 1-2 Timothy

Scattering is a good thing and a bad thing. When we plant, we don’t place all our seed in a pile and cover it with dirt. We scatter seed so that each plant has room to grow and flourish. The early church was scattered as persecution increased, and what the devil meant for evil actually caused the gospel to spread farther into the world. Scattering can definitely be a good thing.

However, scattering can be a bad thing, too, especially when God is the One who is scattering. I don’t mean that God is bad or what he does is bad. On the contrary, He’s always right and good. He’s actually the standard for determining what’s right. What I mean is that when God comes up against you to scatter, you’re up against the ultimate opponent who never loses. That’s bad—for you if you’re His opponent. Nineveh and Assyria’s wickedness had reached its limit with God, and He was about to deal a blow to them, so Nahum gives them a warning which was useless for them unless they became repentant. He said, One who scatters is coming up against you. Man the fortifications! Watch the road! Brace yourself! Summon all your strength! (Nahum 2:1 CSB). The advice is good, but when God is your opponent, you’ve got to realize who you’re up against and just repent in dust and ashes. Let’s stay on God’s side.

In addition to these, people can be scatterers by creating dissension in the church—murmuring here and complaining there. They can do it to one person on the right and one on the left. Scatterers can drop tasty morsels before undisciplined listeners and generate division. We must be wary about words said in secret. After all, followers are not flawless. Pastors are not perfect. Members are not immaculate. There is much fodder for the fault-finder, but we shouldn’t want to take part in ungodly disunity that merely seeks to divide and destroy. We must build up and not scatter.

The Greek word ekklesia is often translated as church, or gathering. Although the church is much more than just a gathering, that is a basic part of the local church—gathering together, yet some in her midst are bent on dividing, separating, and scattering. In preparation for the scatterers who would come to destroy the unity in the local gathering of the church, let’s remember Nahum’s words: Man the fortifications! Watch the road! Brace yourself! Summon all your strength!” Next, let’s remember Jesus’ words to the hypocritical Pharisees, Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters (Matthew 12:30 CSB). Let’s be careful that the very God that we say that we follow is not our opponent. Let us not be caught scattering what He has gathered.


This week you’ll read…

Song of Songs 1-8: “​Oh, that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your caresses are more delightful than wine” (Song of Songs 1 CSB).

Jeremiah 43-52: “‘This is what you are to say to him: “This is what the Lord says: ‘What I have built I am about to demolish, and what I have planted I am about to uproot—the whole land!’”’” (Jeremiah 45 CSB)

Obadiah 1: “Your arrogant heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, even from there I will bring you down. This is the Lord’s declaration” (Obadiah 1 CSB).

Nahum 2-3: “One who scatters is coming up against you. Man the fortifications! Watch the road! Brace yourself! Summon all your strength!” (Nahum 2 CSB)

1 Timothy 1-6: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6 CSB).

2 Timothy 1-4: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4 CSB).



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Death Is Not the End: October 15-21, 2019 (Tues-Mon): Read through Jeremiah, Lamentations, Nahum, and 1-2 Thessalonians

“In the 2007 film The Bucket List, two terminally ill men—played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman—take a road trip to do the things they always said they would do before they ‘kicked the bucket.’ Before the film’s release, Nicholson was interviewed by Parade magazine. Reflecting on his personal life, Nicholson said, ‘I used to live so freely. The mantra for my generation was “Be your own man!” I always said, “Hey, you can have whatever rules you want—I’m going to have mine. I’ll accept the guilt. I’ll pay the check. I’ll do the time.” I chose my own way. That was my philosophical position well into my fifties. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to adjust.’

“But reality has a way of getting the attention of even Jack Nicholson. Later in the interview, he adds, ‘We all want to go on forever, don’t we? We fear the unknown. Everybody goes to that wall, yet nobody knows what’s on the other side. That’s why we fear death.’”[1]

One of the greatest fears which humans have is the fear of death. Coupled with that fear is the fear of the unknown. What’s on the other side? Thankfully, we have the Bible to guide our thinking and belief about the other side, but we’ve still never been there. All we know is living and breathing. The idea of stopping breathing is hard to think about. However, we believers can have hope now as we contemplate our “end.” Our end although is just a beginning. The Apostle Paul wrote, We don’t want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you won’t grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 CSB).

Believers have a wonderful future even if it includes death. Non-believers, however, have a horrible future even if they have all the money, power, and prestige that the world can offer because death begins a tremendous and timeless torment. Believers, can endure suffering because it’s momentary (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) compared to the forever celebration on the other side with Jesus, so as you contemplate your life, remember that death is not the end.

This week you’ll read…

Jeremiah 29-42: “You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29 CSB).

Lamentations 5: “Bring us back to you, God—we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start” (Lamentations 5 MSG).

Nahum 1: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1 CSB).

1 Thessalonians 2-5: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4 CSB).

2 Thessalonians 1-3: “For we hear that there are some among you who are idle. They are not busy but busybodies. Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and provide for themselves” (2 Thessalonians 3 CSB).


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[1] Dotson Rader, “I Want to Go on Forever,” Parade (December 9, 2007)

Faith, Hope, and Love: October 8-14, 2019 (Tues-Mon): Read through Psalms, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and First Thessalonians

Do you have a thankful heart? Do people know you as a thankful person? Paul was just such a person. He was thankful for how God was working in believers’ lives, and oftentimes he expressed that thanks to them in his letters. In First Thessalonians 1, Paul mentions three reasons for giving thanks to God for the believers in Thessalonica: faith, hope, and love. “We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers. We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1 CSB).

He was thankful for their work produced by faith. Doesn’t this sound like James that faith without works is dead. Paul was thankful that their faith was producing. They didn’t have a dead faith or just a said faith. They had a faith that acted. They had a real, living faith that worked.

Paul was also thankful for their labor motivated by love. People have all kinds of motivations for their labor. Some labor from the motivation of money or fear or guilt, but the Thessalonians’ labor was motivated by the supreme motive—love. They weren’t laboring to avoid conflict or negative emotions. They weren’t laboring selfishly for what they could get out of it. They labored because of love.

Lastly, he was thankful for their endurance inspired by hope. Hope will keep you hanging on when your strength is stripped away and your will has withered. Hope endures.

These three—faith, hope, and love—were not conjured characteristics. These people were changed characters. Jesus had radically saved them, and faith hope, and love were the results of the change. How prominent are these three in your life?

This week you’ll read…

Psalm 145-150: “​Hallelujah! Praise God in His sanctuary. Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His powerful acts; praise Him for His abundant greatness. Praise Him with trumpet blast; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with strings and flute. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 150 CSB)

Jeremiah 15-28: “‘The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it? I, the Lord, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve” (Jeremiah 17 CSB).

Lamentations 3-4: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3 NIV).

1 Thessalonians 1: “We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers. We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1 CSB).


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Conqueror: October 1-7, 2019 (Tues-Mon): Read through Psalms, Jeremiah, and Lamentations

While visiting Grand Coulee Dam, a man and his family were surprised to see that the visitors’ center was dark. It was a sunny day, so they thought the center might have tinted windows, but as they got closer, they realized there were no lights on. They went in and saw that none of the displays were working. Suddenly it became clear: there was no power to the center. Due to some technical difficulty, the visitors’ center that sat only hundreds of feet from a hydroelectric dam had no power. How could something be so close to the power source, yet not be “plugged in”?[1]

Paul wrote Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7 CSB). Clearly, God didn’t give believers fear, but He did give us power! God didn’t give you a spirit which makes you afraid, but one which makes you strong and powerful, a spirit which makes you confident and brave, but we must “plug in” to the power.

In Romans 8:37-39, Paul calls us hypernikes, or more than conquerors, and you’re much more powerful than a pair of athletic shoes. He says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (CSB). “Nike” is a Greek word which means victory. Paul says that we’re hypernikes, or more than conquerors. We’re more than victorious. What’s that mean? Your school football team comes up against a team, and it’s a grudge match for all four quarters. It’s back and forth the whole time, but 15 seconds before the clock runs out, your team manages a field goal which puts you ahead at the end. They’re victorious (nike). Now suppose your football team goes up against another team, and at the end of the 1st quarter it’s 21-0 your way. By halftime, it’s 35-0, and by the end of the game it’s 72-0. Your team is not just a conqueror. They’re more than conquerors. They’re hypernikes. They’ve utterly defeated their opponent.

Being more than a conqueror doesn’t rest in our ability. Paul said, “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31 CSB) We have power that works in us, but it’s not us. Paul also proclaimed, “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 CSB). We have spiritual Under Armour. Kevin Plank started Under Armour in his grandma’s basement in 1996. He operated by selling undershirts from the trunk of his car. He did that for three years until he could finally start paying himself. The founder of Under Armour eventually became a hypernike in the world of sports clothing. In a spiritual way, we have some Under Armour in the form of the Holy Spirit. Luke wrote, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 CSB). “I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit…Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:16,20 CSB). As believers, we have the greatest power within us.

A little boy was spending his Saturday morning playing in his sandbox. He had with him his box of cars and trucks, his plastic pail, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels in the soft sand, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox. The boy dug around the rock, managing to dislodge it from the dirt. He pushed and nudged the rock across the sandbox by using his feet. When the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, however, he found that he couldn’t roll it up and over the little wall. Determined, the little boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox. The little boy grunted, struggled, pushed, shoved—but his only reward was to have the rock roll back, smashing his chubby fingers. Finally, he burst into tears of frustration. All this time the boy’s father watched from the living room window as the drama unfolded. At the moment the tears fell, a large shadow fell across the boy and the sandbox. It was the boy’s father. Gently but firmly he said, “Son, why didn’t you use all the strength that you had available?” Defeated, the boy sobbed back, “But I did, Daddy. I did! I used all the strength that I had!” The father kindly corrected, “No, son, you didn’t use all the strength you had. You didn’t ask me.” With that the father reached down, picked up the rock, and removed it from the sandbox.[2]

If you’re a believer in Jesus, you’ve got the unlimited power of God in your life. Ask for help in everything!

This week you’ll read…

Psalm 138-144: “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well” (Psalm 139 CSB).

Jeremiah 1-14: “The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1 CSB).

Lamentations 1-2: “The Lord has done what He planned; He has accomplished His decree, which He ordained in days of old” (Lamentations 2 CSB).


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[1] (2003). More Perfect Illustrations: For Every Topic and Occasion (p. 212). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

[2] Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks

Suffering (Days 22-30): Read through Isaiah, James, 1-3 John, and Jude

Just desserts. Suffering for something done which was stupid or sinful. We’ve all been there because we’re all stupid or sinful at times. We suffer because of our own shortcomings, but we also suffer because of other people’s failings. At other times, we suffer just as a common condition of mankind. A relative’s death brings crushing suffering. A diagnosis of cancer places a heavy weight on you and your family. A friend suffers with Alzheimer’s while you visit your 30-year friend as a stranger. Your business goes belly-up as a result of a downturn in the economy. Your employer transfers you to another state. An injury due to a texting driver nags you daily. There wasn’t anything that you did that directly led to the suffering, but you have to endure it nonetheless. God wants us to look to Him in our suffering, whether we’ve done it to ourselves or not. However, there’s a special kind of suffering of which God takes notice—suffering because we’ve done something right.

Suffering for doing what’s right is biblical. Let’s focus on suffering which you may endure because you did something to lead to it. You did something right. This is commendable. Peter says, For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you (1 Peter 2 NLT). The Old Testament prophets suffered for doing what’s right. James says, Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. See, we count as blessed those who have endured (James 5 CSB). The apostles suffered for preaching the gospel. Stephen was stoned for speaking the truth. Peter and John were imprisoned for healing a man and giving glory to Jesus. Eventually, Paul was executed as well as ten of the original twelve. Peter went on to explain, For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2 CSB). Peter then recalls a passage in Isaiah 53 about the Suffering Servant Jesus. You’ll read this this week. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds (Isaiah 53 CSB).

If you’re suffering, endure patiently. If you’re suffering for doing something good, then endure patiently, and take comfort that you’re walking in Jesus’ steps. You’re walking in Jesus’ sandals. He’s been there. However, the difference is that Jesus suffered for doing what was right, and He’d done no wrong–ever.

This week you’ll read…

Isaiah 49-66: “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53 in The Christian Standard Bible).

James 5: “Elijah was a human being as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit” (James 5 in The Christian Standard Bible).

1-3 John: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Jude 1: “Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, without blemish and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1 in The Christian Standard Bible).

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Living Faith Works (Days 15-21): Read through Psalms, Isaiah, and James

Jesus’ brother James wrote one of most beloved books of the Bible—James. It’s beloved because it’s so practical. He preached about doing. He preached that a real, saving faith will produce righteous works. A belief that doesn’t move you to action is a false faith in the same vein as a demon’s faith. James wrote that we must not merely be hearers but doers. This is the main idea of the big little book of James. True faith will result in action. It’s not merely an alleged faith but an applied faith. If you look throughout the book, you’ll see how James basically says that if you claim to have faith, you should be living it out here and here and here.

You say that you have faith, but…

  • Are you looking after the needy (James 1)?
  • Are you treating people equally (James 2)?
  • Are you treating some people better because it benefits you more (James 2)?
  • Do you pass by truly needy brothers or sisters in Christ without lending a hand when you have the means (James 2)?
  • Does your faith affect what and how you speak to others (James 3)?
  • Whose wisdom do you seek and use—God’s or the world’s (James 3)?
  • Are you just trying to get your own way by fighting with others (James 4)?
  • Are you making your own plans or seeking God’s will (James 4)?
  • Are you treating your employees harshly or with a heavy hand (James 5)?
  • Are you patiently enduring suffering (James 5)?
  • Are you being truthful? Are you keeping your word (James 5)?
  • Are you confessing your sin (James 5)?
  • Are you praying (James 5)?
  • Are you helping other believers turn back to Christ (James 5)?

Remember that you are not saved by your works. However, a truly living faith works.

This week you’ll read…

Psalms 135-137: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His faithful love endures forever” (Psalms 136 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Isaiah 34-48: “Youths may become faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40 in The Christian Standard Bible).

James 1-4: “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1 in The Christian Standard Bible).

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No Escape (Days 8-14): Read through Psalms and Isaiah

The story is told of a merchant who sent his servant to the marketplace to purchase supplies. In just a little while, the servant returned but was pale and terribly frightened and exclaimed, “Master, just a moment ago as I was in the bazaar, I was jostled by a woman in the crowd. When I turned around, I saw that it was Death that had jostled me. She saw me and made a menacing motion. Now, please let me borrow your horse, and I shall ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra, and Death will not find me there. The master loaned him his horse, and the servant hopped on and spurred the horse hard, riding as fast as the horse could take him to Samarra. Then the master went down to the market and saw Death standing in the crowd. The master went over to Death and asked, “Why did you make a menacing motion to my servant when you saw him this morning?” Death responded, “That was not a menacing motion. It was a jolt of surprise. I was amazed to see him in town, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”[1]

This story may imply that no one can outrun his fate, but life is not fatalistic. It’s not “whatever will be will be.” Life is given and taken by the Life-giver. God is not an impersonal Fate to whom we must submit. He is a personal God who is in control of galaxies and guppies and yet has chosen to lavish love on lowlifes like us. God is the grand orchestrator. He is the God “who opens and no one will close, and who closes and no one opens” (Revelation 3:7 in The Christian Standard Bible). He is the One whose judgment no one can thwart as Isaiah the prophet states, “Whoever flees at the sound of panic will fall into a pit, and whoever escapes from the pit will be caught in a trap…” (Isaiah 24:18 in The Christian Standard Bible). As the man in the Death story was unable to undo Death’s plan, so no one will undo God’s doings. As the man attempted to thwart Death’s plan, he actually carried it out. So, too, our actions will not subvert God’s plan. I can’t explain exactly how God’s control and our freedom paradoxically work together, but they do. I also know that God’s rule over the affairs of man and the universe far surpass our control and freedom which are only gifts from God anyway. He’s in ultimate control, and, whether you like it or not, there’s no escape from Him.

This week you’ll read…

Psalms 128-134: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” (Psalms 133 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Isaiah 19-33: “Lord, be gracious to us! We wait for You. Be our strength every morning and our salvation in time of trouble” (Isaiah 33 in The Christian Standard Bible).

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STOP IT (Days 1-7): Read through Psalms and Isaiah

Stop it! Have you ever said that to your kids? Stop smacking! Stop running in the house! Stop hitting your brother! Stop it! Stop! Stop! Stop! Some people would say to stop using that stop-language. It’s too negative. Lol. They say to be positive in your language. Keep your lips together when eating, dear. Running is for outside, honey. Keep your hands to yourself, sweetheart. That does sound nice, but do I have to refer to my kids as dear, honey, and sweetheart? Can’t I say ungrateful whiner and money-grabber. There’s that negative thinking again. I jest, of course.

The truth of the matter is that negative and positive language are both appropriate at times and inappropriate at times. I’m all for looking for ways to say things better, but when your child is about to walk in front of a moving car in the parking lot, “Honey, look both ways before crossing the lane” is not going to keep your child free of harm. That negative, psyche-damaging language is the only way to go. STOP! DON’T MOVE! Wisdom and love teach us when and how to use both types of words.

Notice God’s words through the prophet, “…Stop doing evil. Learn to do what is good…” (Isaiah 1:16-17 The Christian Standard Bible). Both kinds of language are present in these two sentences. They’re like opposite sides of the same coin. We need to be directed away from the bad and directed toward the good. You needed it when you were young, and you need it today as well. Look at that sin in your life. Stop it! Now look at God’s word. See. This is what you’re to do—the good. Keep on doing this. This is a lifelong process to grow in practical righteousness and distance our behavior from the filthiness of the world. If you still don’t like negative language in your life, I’ve got two words for you. Stop it!

This week you’ll read…

Psalms 121-127: “Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain” (Psalms 127 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Isaiah 1-18: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6 in The Christian Standard Bible).

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30 Days of Nehemiah, Esther, Psalms, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Haggai

DAYS 1-7: Two-Track Mind

If you shaved the back-right corner of many people’s heads, you’d find a small tattooed label that reads “One-Track Mind Inside.” Now if you actually go shave your head to find that label, you’ll probably find a different label there. Seriously, it seems natural to focus on one thing, yet in today’s world we’re lauded for being multitaskers. Many people have 50 irons in the fire, and their attention is spread so thin that they struggle to get anything done with the detail and passion which they want. The more that we can zero in our focus, the better it will be. Maybe you simply need to drop a few or a lot of things. When it comes to your projects, relationships, ministries, and personal devotion to Christ, robbing Peter to pay Paul just doesn’t work so well. You just need to determine prayerfully what are the non-negotiable must-haves in your life. Then do those. Spend time there. Invest in that.

After the kingdom of Judah was defeated by the Babylonians, many of the people were sent into exile to be a part of the Babylonian kingdom. Among them were Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known by their Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Eventually, Babylon was conquered by the Persians. Then another Jewish man rose to some prominence under Cyrus the Persian. His name was Nehemiah, Cyrus’ cupbearer. Nehemiah eventually landed in Jerusalem, overseeing the construction of the wall of Jerusalem. Of course, not everyone was pleased with a new wall going up around the city, so they did a little threatening to Nehemiah and his crew. In a sense, the building crew could no longer be focused on one thing. “When our enemies heard that we knew their scheme and that God had frustrated it, every one of us returned to his own work on the wall. From that day on, half of my men did the work while the other half held spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers supported all the people of Judah, who were rebuilding the wall. The laborers who carried the loads worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other. Each of the builders had his sword strapped around his waist while he was building, and the trumpeter was beside me” (Nehemiah 4).

It is the same with us today. There is the work which must be done. We are called to minister in the name of Christ, but there is a battle to be fought against our spiritual enemy who doesn’t relent. We must be focused yet be multitasking using a two-track mind. We must be working and warring, serving and sparring, worshipping and walloping. Don’t be caught unaware.

This week you’ll read…

2 Samuel 1-12: Remember that no one is exempt from temptation. Let’s stay on guard. “In the spring when kings march out to war, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel. …but David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing—a very beautiful woman. So David sent someone to inquire about her, and he said, ‘Isn’t this Bathsheba…wife of Uriah the Hethite?’ David sent messengers to get her, and when she came to him, he slept with her” (2 Samuel 11). Earlier, David declared when hearing of his friend Jonathan’s death, “How the mighty have fallen in the thick of battle!” (2 Samuel 1) Little did David know that those words would ring true about his own moral and spiritual fall with Bathsheba.

Nehemiah 1-5: Nehemiah prayed, “I confess the sins we have committed against You. Both I and my father’s family have sinned. We have acted corruptly toward You and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances You gave Your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1).

Haggai 1-2: “Now, the Lord of Armies says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways: You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to be happy. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner puts his wages into a bag with a hole in it.’” (Haggai 1).

2 Corinthians 1-7: “So we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. In fact, we are confident, and we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.” (1 Corinthians 5).

DAYS 8-14: Sufficient

Sufficient. Enough. Adequate. Plenty. God’s grace is. No matter your circumstance, believer, God’s grace will be enough for you. You don’t have to worry about running out or not having what you need.

In the middle of family turmoil—separation, divorce, infidelity, teenage rebellion—God’s grace is adequate. He will supply all that you need to deal with the situation—to heal, to forgive, to move on, to hang on, to love.

No matter what your financial worries, health concerns, and employment issues are, His grace is plenty. All that you need will be there. Trust in Him. His storehouse won’t run dry to supply all that you need at the right time. Sometimes you think that you can’t go on one more day or minute, but He gives what you need at that moment to make it through.

Even if your situation brings you to death’s door, God’s grace will be sufficient to carry you over the threshold and keep you beyond.

Rest in the all-sufficiency of Jesus.

This week you’ll read…

2 Samuel 13-24: Rape, incest, revenge, insurrection, deception, murder. The fruit of King David’s adultery with Bathsheba play out in this reading. In confronting David about his sin, God said to David through Nathan the prophet, “Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hethite to be your own wife” (2 Samuel 12:10 in The Christian Standard Bible). The consequences of sin can linger, yet even in that God’s grace is sufficient.

Nehemiah 6-12: “Remember me, my God, with favor” (Nehemiah 13).

Psalm 76: “And You—You are to be feared. When You are angry, who can stand before You?” (Psalm 76)

2 Corinthians 8-13: “For if I want to boast, I wouldn’t be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me” (2 Corinthians 12 in The New Living Translation).

DAYS 15-21: Love Is an Excuse

Love is often an excuse. People can do some pretty stupid things in the name of love. Don’t get me wrong. I like love, and I love my family and try to practice love wherever I go. However, love gets blamed for a lot of foolishness in the world.

He says, “But we’ve been dating for two years. We have so much in common. I know that she’s not a believer, but we love each other.”

She says, “I know he abuses me and the kids sometimes, but I don’t want to leave him. I love him.”

He says, “I moved in with her because we love each other.”

She says, “I don’t want a man. I want to be with her because we love each other.”

He says, “My wife is not meeting my needs. This lady at work is so understanding, and we love each other.”

She says, “Yes, we had sex because I love him. I mean, we’ve been dating for six months.”

Remember that God is love (1 John 4:8,16), so love—God’s kind of love—is submissive to God’s rule. Love gets blamed for many unwise things which are really rooted in infatuation, lust, and selfishness. God’s kind of love is interested in the best for the other person, not what’s in it for me. I definitely see my love falling way short of the ideal, but I try to let God’s Spirit lead me in the right way. I just take the reins oftentimes.

Dating non-believers, excusing physical abuse, cohabitation, homosexual relationships, and having sex outside marriage are all foolishness because they all disregard God’s express commands or wise principles.

Solomon was the wisest man in the world in his time, but He disregarded the Lord’s express commands. Solomon ignored the wise principles which God had given him. He allowed his heart to be ensnared by foreign women who worshipped other gods. He started well but ended weak, miserably weak. “King Solomon loved many foreign women…from the nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, and they must not intermarry with you, because they will turn your heart away to follow their gods.’ To these women Solomon was deeply attached in love….and they turned his heart away. When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been….Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to the Lord….The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. He had commanded him about this, so that he would not follow other gods, but Solomon did not do what the Lord had commanded” (1 Kings 11).

Let’s not blame our lust, infatuation, and selfishness on love. So grade your love. Is it following God’s ways? Is it seeking the best for others?

This week you’ll read…

1 Kings 1-11: Solomon was a blessed king, and he had wisdom beyond compare. Sadly, however, he allowed himself to be led astray by his many foreign wives who worshipped other gods, and, as a result, the kingdom was split after his death.

Nehemiah 13: “Didn’t King Solomon of Israel sin in matters like this? There was not a king like him among many nations. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, yet foreign women drew him into sin” (Nehemiah 13).

Esther 1-6: “Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, ‘Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this’” (Esther 4).

Psalm 77-83: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But My people did not listen to My voice; Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own plans. If only My people would listen to Me and Israel would follow My ways, I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes” (Psalm 81).

DAYS 22-30: Freedom

Freedom. Liberty. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians is all about freedom. Liberty in Christ is real yet unrealized in many believers’ lives. They’re living with a mentality that they must achieve in order to receive. They’re living in a legalism—trying to gain acceptance from God by their works. The truth is that Christ Jesus has paid the price for our freedom. It’s by grace through faith that we receive full acceptance from God. All of our righteousness, Isaiah said, is like filthy rags. Faith in God is what God credits as righteousness in our account. Whatever is not done in faith is sin.

The Galatians were tempted to leave the simplicity of the gospel to follow a bound-up life of following religious rules and keeping customs. He said, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (Galatians 5 The New Living Translation). Paul asked them who had bewitched them because Christ had come to set them free from sin but also from religiosity.

However, Paul said to them that they shouldn’t let their freedom become a license to indulge the flesh. They shouldn’t think that Christ gave them freedom to live as they please, catering to their sinful desires. They were no longer bound by sin and the law and were free to live for Christ. He encouraged them and us to submit to the Spirit and let Him guide their lives daily and not let their sinful nature be their master. “I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5 in The Christian Standard Bible).

We must stop feeding our flesh if we’re really children of God. In this life, we’ll always struggle with our sinful nature, so we must recognize the struggle for what it is. Then we must do something about it, making some adjustments to curb the desires of the flesh and making conscious choices daily and moment-by-moment to rely on the Spirit. The following song called “Liberty” by Shane & Shane describes the truth well.

The Lord is the Spirit / Where the Spirit of the Lord is now / There is liberty / And the Spirit lives inside of me / And where the Spirit of the Lord is now / There is liberty

When the spirit of the world comes / To kill me and enslave me I will say / There is liberty / For the chains of sin that once entangled me / Have been broken now I’m singing cause I’m free / There is liberty

For freedom You’ve set me free / And, yes, I am free indeed / You rewrote my name / Unshackled my shame / You opened my eyes to see / That I am free

The storm rolled in / It was dark in the land / As the Son of Man was crucified / You don’t take His life / He laid it down / And He paid the price / And shed His blood / It is done / The veil is torn / He has won / And I am free

For freedom You’ve set me free / And, yes, I am free indeed / You rewrote my name / Unshackled my shame / You opened my eyes to see / That I am free

This week you’ll read…

1 Kings 12-22: “Elijah challenged the people: ‘How long are you going to sit on the fence? If God is the real God, follow Him; if it’s Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!’ Nobody said a word; nobody made a move” (1 Kings 18 in The Message Bible).

Esther 7-10: “…‘There is a gallows 75 feet tall at Haman’s house that he made for Mordecai, who gave the report that saved the king.’ The king said, ‘Hang him on it.’ They hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s anger subsided” (Esther 7).

Psalm 84-90: “Better a day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else” (Psalm 84).

Galatians 1-6: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2).

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the CSB: The Christian Standard Bible.

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