Thursday, September 29, 2011

Devotion Thoughts - 28/05/2011

2 Samuel 13:1-39
Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab... a very subtle man (v.3).
In many situations where an answer is sought, there are those who can think up what are thought of as good solutions. Jonadab was such a man; he suggested a plan for Amnon. However, his plan was not from God and had an unhappy outcome.
We must always look to God for guidance when the way forward seems unclear.
John 17:1-26
As Jesus prayed He lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You in return (v.1) I don't pray that You should take [My disciples] out of the world, but that You should keep them from evil (v.15). Nor do I pray for [My disciples] only, but also for those who will believe in me through their witness (v.20).
Jesus was serious in His praying for His disciples, and for the spiritual descendants who came to Christ through them, right down to today's Believers. There are many powerful thoughts in this chapter, of which I have selected three:
1. The glory that Jesus was looking forward to was not just what He would have once back in heaven, but included the opportunity to go to the cross in obedience to His Father's desire to make a way of salvation for mankind (v.1). (Wow, Lord!)
2. In the world evil abounds, but Believers will only grow spiritually by staying in the world and overcoming evil with the Father's help, just as Jesus did (v.15).
3. We Believers must be eternally thankful that Jesus thought about us, too, when He prayed (v.20).
Psalm 119:81-96
O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven for ever (v.89). I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have made me alive (v.93).
Jesus said heaven and earth would pass away but not His word (Luke 21:33). The psalmist was inspired to have realised that God's spoken words are far more permanent than the somewhat solid-looking universe we inhabit! Let us heed the word of Jesus as we have them in the New Testament.
Proverbs 16:6,7
(v.6) By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. (v.7) When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Just for a change I am using the Good News Bible for their rendering of these two verses. I have often made good use of this translation. Anyone who wants to really get to grips with what the Bible is about will find this translation easy reading, much like a novel. If you have the time, reading through in a week will jumpstart your Bible knowledge!
v. 6. Be loyal and faithful, and God will forgive your sin. Obey the LORD and nothing evil will happen to you.
v.7. When you please the LORD, you can make your enemies into friends.

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Devotion Thoughts - 27/05/2011

2 Samuel 12:1-31

Nathan said to David, You are the one! 2Sa 12:7 Why did you despise the Lord's commandment by doing evil [committing murder]? (v.9)You did it secretly, but I will expose it to the whole world (v.12). David confessed to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD" (v.13).

David did not see the trap until Nathan pointed out that he was the guilty one. Those who believe that they have successfully covered up their sin are mistaken; God always sees what we do. When he realised he had been found out, David acknowledged his sin and was forgiven.
Either our sin is revealed when we ask forgiveness of Jesus and see all our sins washed away, or (for unbelievers), make no confession and have every sin revealed at the Judgment. Thankfully, for Believers, our confessed sins have been forgiven, wiped away, and forgotten by God forever.

John 16:1-33

The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and believed that I came out from God (v.27). {My paraphrase}.

It must have been a mind-boggling experience for the disciples to realise - and believe - that Jesus had come from God to them. But that is just the start. One day we will know and enjoy all the blessings that God has prepared for us. And because He loves us we can expect to be richly blessed by the Father!

In the meantime, Believer, enjoy His indwelling presence in your heart!

Proverbs 16:4-5

v.4. The LORD made all things for himself, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Although Believers go through trials, they will never ever face the punishment that will be the lot of the unsaved in eternity. Part of that punishment will be everlasting separation from loving God. He made everything for Himself, so is not pleased with Satan and His followers and all unsaved people who have chosen to ignore God's right to their worship of Him. They will get their hearts' desire in that they will not be living with Him in heaven!

v.5. Every one who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD ... he shall not be unpunished.

God is love and wants to love us at all times. But the proud are so because they think they are superior, and so will not be the recipients of His love. This verse does not say that all proud people will be cast away; if they realise they have angered God, they have the opportunity to humble themselves before Him, and be eligible for a place in His Kingdom.

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Devotion Thoughts - 26/05/2011

2 Samuel 9:1-13

David asked if there were any of Saul's family left so that he could show kindness to them for Jonathan's sake (v.1). {My paraphrase}.

Having promised Jonathan that he would show kindness to his descendants (1 Samuel 20:14,42), David did so once he was established in his kingdom. He was a man who kept his promises, which is according to God's description of him as 'a man after my own heart'. God expects us to keep the promises we make in life.

2 Samuel 10:1-19

David went to meet [his envoys] for they felt greatly ashamed of their treatment, and he told them to remain in Jericho until their beards had grown and they felt comfortable about returning home (v.5).

This is another incident that confirms that David was a thoughtful man. Having been embarrassed by their treatment at the hands of the Ammonites, David went personally to comfort them, and told them to stay in Jericho until they were ready to return home. It was this sort of conduct that made David popular with his people.

2 Samuel 11:1-27

When the mourning period was over, David sent for [Bathsheba]. She became his wife, and bare him a son. But what he had done displeased the LORD (v.27).

What a blemish on David's character! We have been reading about David being a man of his word and very thoughtful of others. Now, however, we find him concealing his adultery by arranging for the murder of the husband! Of course God was displeased, and was not going to allow David to get away with it.

We all commit sin! Fortunately our wonderful God does not write us off or stop using us for His service. However, sin always has consequences. The son born to David and Bathsheba from the adulterous relationship died, as God had said he would. But we can be encouraged in that God did not hold their sin against them forever. After losing the son born of their adultery, their next son, Solomon, became king, even though he was not the oldest of David's sons.

Psalm 119:49-64

Remember Your word to me, Your servant, by which You caused me to hope. It comforts me in my affliction, for that word from You inspired me (vv.49,50).

When God called me into full-time ministry He did so by using certain verses of Scripture. Through the years those verses have kept me on track, helping me to remember that I am a servant of the Lord. At times when I have not seen the purpose in some of the things that happened in my life, those verses assured me that God would work things out in my life; all I had to do was be a faithful servant.
If God has given you messages of hope, trust them. Like a spiritual life belt, they will keep you afloat until the Lord lifts you out of the stormy waves of doubt and confusion.

Proverbs 16:1-3

Commit your works to the LORD, then what you have envisioned will happen (v.3). {My paraphrase}.

First, the Lord lays on our hearts certain things He wants us to do. We spend time praying over them, and getting some clarity about how they can become reality. The next stage is to let the Lord know that you are ready to proceed, and how you plan to proceed, and pray for Him for the means to complete the thing planned. God then makes it become a reality.
It really is that simple, but sometimes our faith is tested while we wait for God to act!

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Devotion Thoughts - 25/05/2011

2 Samuel 7:1-29

Nathan said to the king, Go, do everything that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you (v.3). [But] that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying (v.4), "Tell David, when you die I will set up one of your sons (v.12), who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his throne for your descendants forever" (v.13). David's response was ..."O Lord God, please do as You say and establish my descendants on the throne of Israel forever" (v.25). {My paraphrase}.

The fulfilment of the prophecies is one of the reasons I believe the Bible to be the Word of God. In this chapter, relating to events some 1000 years before the birth of Jesus, Nathan the prophet has a knee-jerk reaction, much like Believers, most of the time! Without first asking God for guidance, he assumes that God is happy with David and will bless everything he does, and tells David to go ahead and build the house for God. But God has other plans which He reveals to Nathan. He tells David that his descendants will sit on Israel's throne forever.

Until taken away into captivity in Babylon, the kings of Judah were descendants of David, the shepherd boy from Bethlehem. And because the genealogical records of the Jews were destroyed in 70 AD when Titus sacked Jerusalem, Jesus is the last known descendant of king David! His genealogical records are written in the New Testament. Yes, there is a break in that Israel do not presently have a visible king, but Jesus has been alive all along (except for three days after Calvary), and He is going to sit on David's throne ...forever! When He, the One appointed to be King of kings and Lord of lords, returns He will not only rule Israel but all mankind ... forever!

2 Samuel 8:1-18

The LORD protected David, and gave him victory everywhere (v.14).

Strengthened and supported by God, David was unstoppable, gaining victories over all enemies along his borders. God did this so that when Solomon came to the throne there would be peace in the land, allowing him the opportunity to build the Temple.

Know this: When God has work for us to do He always prepares the way for us. So if we are facing difficulties it is because it is part of God's preparations for whatever He would have us do.

John 14:15-31

If you love me, keep my commandments (v.15).

Many claim to be in fellowship with Jesus but do not love their neighbour (Matthew 19:19), that is, they do not keep this particular command. According to Jesus, it means that they do not love Him. There are other commandments that Believers (yes, Believers) struggle to obey. Fortunately, because of His great love for us, Jesus is not going to summarily stop having fellowship with us. He will, thankfully, continue to help us to grow spiritually. But if we are to keep His commandments we must be prepared for a daily surrender of our will to Him and a commitment to ongoing spiritual growth. If we do, holiness is bound to grow in us.

Psalm 119:33-48

LORD, teach me Your statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end (v.33).

There is no way of knowing what God wants of us if we don't spend time every day reading our Bibles to find that out!

Proverbs 15:33

Through fearing the LORD we will want instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility (v.33).

Through (a healthy) fear and respect for God we seek to learn about Him so that we can please Him. Once we learn to obey God's word we will be able to instruct others.

We must be humble enough to be led by others before we can lead others well.

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Devotion Thoughts - 24/05/2011

2 Samuel 4:1-12, 2Samuel 5:1-25

David ... became powerful, for the LORD God of hosts was with him (v.10) ... and realised that the LORD had established him king over Israel and exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake (v.12). David asked the LORD, "Shall I go up to the Philistines? will You deliver them into my hand? And the LORD said to David, Go up: for I will certainly deliver the Philistines into your hand" (v.19). David did as the LORD had commanded him; and defeated the Philistines (v.25). (My paraphrase).

Here's a clear outline of what spiritual progression should be in the life of a Believer.
v.10: On becoming a born again Believer you are aware that you are in God's powerful hands.
v.12: You realise that your life now has purpose: to bring blessing to others through service for God .
v.19: No reliance on self; only total reliance on God for direction in life. (Remember Peter? He was self-confident until he denied Jesus. We all have to learn this. John 13:37,38).
v.25: Obedience to God's will for your life as revealed in His Word and through wise guidance will bring about victorious living.

2 Samuel 6:1-23

David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of musical instruments made of fir wood, on harps, psalteries, timbrels, cornets, and cymbals (v.5)

David danced before the LORD with all his might (v.14)

Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death (v.23).

If we keep in mind that one day all the trials of life will be over and we will be rejoicing in the presence of God forever, we will find it easier to rejoice right now. Praise Him in every way that you can, particularly with music. Follow the advice given in Psalm 150 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice evermore; v.17 Pray without ceasing; v.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

John 13:31-38

A new commandment I give you, Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another (v.34), for if you have love one for another all men shall know that you are my disciples (v.35). {My paraphrase}.

The command is simple enough to understand, but a huge ask when it comes to putting into practice. (Surely it is not only me that has discovered this?) If we get it right, people will take notice and will be born again without a word said! Actions do speak louder than words; let us not just talk the talk, but walk the walk! If you are struggling with this one don't give up wanting to get it right; keep going, while letting the Holy Spirit guide you into complete submission to God's will in every aspect of your life. There is no other way to get this right, and you will probably still be busy with it when Christ returns!

John 14:1-14

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father except by me" (v.6).

Again, the statement is simple enough for a child to understand, but those who want to find 'easier' ways to God have problems with it. Jesus preached very simply and in words easily understood, yet professors have problems with what He has said. Don't violate the clear meaning which is that you will never live in the presence of God if you try to get there by any way other than Jesus. Hoping to reach God via ancestors, good works, religious practices, singing spiritual songs, and even doing miracles, will not work.

Psalm 119:17-32

Open my eyes [understanding] that I may discover wondrous things in Your law (v.18).

We must approach God in an attitude of adoration and worship before we make any requests. In the words of Psa 19:14 - "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer". Once we have God's attention expect Him to hear us!

Proverbs 15:31-32

The ear that hears the reproof of life abides among the wise (v. 31).

He that refuses instruction despises his own soul: but he that hears reproof gets understanding (v. 32).

One day there will be the Judgment, and judgment on us will depend upon if we have wanted to enjoy God's favour or not. That, in turn, hinges on the degree to which we take care of our spiritual life. It is true that we need God's guidance in life, but there is one matter that is in our hands and not God's, and that is what we do with our lives. If we want total blessing from God we must be totally yielded to Him, a decision only we can make.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bible Poetry: Proverbs 15:29-30

v.29. The LORD is far from the wicked: but He hears the prayer of the righteous.
The sins of the wicked keep them far from the Lord;
He won't hear their prayers; that's what we read in His Word.
For those who live for Him, lifting up His name on high,
will know their prayers are heard be it now or by and bye.

v.30. The light of the eyes rejoices the heart: and a good report makes the bones fat.
When someone smiles at you in love
it seems like sunshine from above;
and when there is good news to tell
it makes you feel that 'all is well'.

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Devotion Thoughts - 23/05/2011

2 Samuel 2:12-32. 2 Samuel 3:1-39

When Joab came from David, he sent messengers after Abner ... but David did not know it (v. 3:26).

When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab ... stabbed him to death (v.3:27).

The king lamented over Abner, and said, "Why did Abner have to die like a fool?" (v.3:33).

Joab played up a lot on the fact that he and David were cousins. The death of Abner was uncalled for, hence David's lament over him. After Joab killed Abner, David, not knowing what to do about him, gave his son and successor, Solomon, instructions to deal with Joab, which he did by having him killed (1 Kings 2:5,6,32-34).

It is helpful to have a 'friend in court', but we should never take advantage of the relationship in order to settle scores against others. Joab was underhanded; Abner not.

In spite of his senior status, Joab died ignominiously, while Abner was given a 'state' funeral with the king lamenting his death. When believers die, the King of kings Himself notices and is moved (Psalm 116:15)! Hallelujah!

John 13:1-30

After [Judas] received the sop [from Jesus], Satan entered into him (v.27).

Amongst the things I cannot understand is why anyone worships Satan. He can't - and won't - do them any good. His track record is poor for he has no real power. God, and God alone, is Omnipotent. What's more, He is omnipresent, being everywhere in the universe simultaneously. Satan, like humans, can only be in one place at any time. Accepting the sop was an act of treachery by Judas against Jesus personally, which is why Satan was allowed to enter him.

Believers must always remember that all power belongs to Jesus (Matthew 28:18), so if we feel under pressure from any of Satan's demons (for Satan is busy attacking someone else somewhere in the world!) we can ask God for His all-powerful help.

Psalm 119:1-16

Your Word is stored in my heart, so that I won't not sin against [God] (v.11).

It is not just once that we memorise or learn God's word; it is an ongoing process until we die or the Lord comes for us (v.17). That is because God's word sanctifies us as we 'chew on it', effectively causing us to grow in holiness day by day as we study and absorb it.

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Devotion Thoughts - 22/05/2011

2 Samuel 1:1-27

David said to [the Amalekite], 'Your blood be upon your own head, for with your mouth you have spoken against yourself, saying, "I have slain the LORD'S anointed."' (v.16).

Saul actually killed himself, so the young Amalekite lied when he said he had killed Saul. Trying to create a good impression by telling lies can be counterproductive. The Amalekite did not realise how important God's anointing was to David. By claiming that he killed Saul, God's anointed, he signed his own death warrant. God will never bless anything that has its foundation in lies.

2 Samuel 2:1-11

David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead, saying, "The Lord bless you for the kindness you showed in burying Saul" (v.5).

David exhibited good leadership qualities by seeking guidance from the Lord, and by showing appreciation to the men of Jabesh Gilead. At great risk, they had removed the bodies of Saul and his sons from off the walls of Bethshan and buried them in Jabesh. No doubt David also had in mind the respect with which they treated the body of one of God's anointed people.

We should never be too busy to show appreciation to those whom we have seen rendering a good service, whether to us or to others. Seek guidance from God and He will not only teach us how to show appreciation: He will also create opportunities for us to do so.

John 12:20-50

"Sir, we would see Jesus" (v.21). "I tell you the truth: Unless a corn of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it survives alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit" (v.24).

How do they see Jesus now? In us!

How do we bear fruit? By dying to self!

What is 'fruit'? Generally speaking: for evangelists it is the response of those seeking salvation; for pastors it is the numerical and spiritual growth evident in his congregation; for all believers, it is to grow closer to the Lord in their walk with Him.

Psalm 118:19-29

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (v.24).

What have you done with today? Well, you have either made the most of it and sought His presence, worshipped Him, drawn closer to Him, and rejoiced; or you have not. Believe it or not, the day has turned out the way you planned it! When you woke up this morning you were either going to 'seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness' or your thoughts were on how to handle the problems that the day would bring. If you were focused on the problems then you would have had little time and thought for God, and missed out on some great fellowship. But if you sought Him out as soon as you woke up you would not only have had great fellowship with Him, but He would also have put your problems into perspective and helped you to sort them out!

Take your pick!

Proverbs 15:27-28

v.27 He that is greedy for corrupt gain brings problems to his family; but those who reject bribes shall live (v.27). (My paraphrase).

Accepting bribes is not a good idea. If discovered the results can be disastrous for the family and cause stress and resultant health problems for all concerned. Rather choose to be honest, then health will not be affected.

God's word says, "Don't steal" if you would live well,
and not tread a roadway that leads down to Hell!

v. 28 The righteous give careful, thoughtful answers, but the wicked choose to speak evil. (My paraphrase).

Have you noticed that people who use profanity (vituperation) are so used to conversational filth that they think it is normal and mature? Sadly, both men and women are guilty. Believers should always "be holy in all manner of conversation" (1Peter 1:15) and think carefully before speaking, choosing words that build their hearers up.

The thoughts of the wicked are loathed by the Lord,
for they do not honour His Word;
but words that are spoken by those who are pure
are words that forever endure.

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Devotion Thoughts - 21/05/2011

1 Samuel 29:1-11

Achish called David, and said to him, " You have been honest and upright ... in my sight, for I have found no wrong in you since the day you came to me up to today; however, the Philistine princes don't want you around" (v.29:6).

By wiping out the entire population in the Philistine towns he had attacked, David had successfully hidden his subterfuge from Achish. Nevertheless, while it is possible to hide some of our wrongdoing from some people, at least for some time, no one can hide their smallest action from an all-seeing God. It is far better to see God as a partner in life and to invite Him to help us live holy lives.

1 Samuel 30:1-31

David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and his two wives. Nothing was lost: wives, children, servants, goods... David recovered everything that the Amalekites had taken (vv.30:18,19). (My paraphrase).

David is given a taste of his own deeds. When he and his men returned to their home, Ziklag, they found it had been attacked, and their wives, children and property taken away. They could imagine the worst: that their families would either be sold as slaves or be killed. But David knew his God was mighty, and so he asked for guidance. On the strength of the encouraging words from God, David chased after his lost people and property. Because God was in control, all the wives, children, servants and goods were recovered. This, again, demonstrates God's mighty ability to take care of His saints! What a mighty God we serve! Hallelujah!

1 Samuel 31:1-13

The Philistines fought hard against Saul and his sons, and slew Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons. Saul and his three sons, his armour bearer and all his men, died that same day (v.31:2,6) (My paraphrase).

How different things were for Saul now that he did not have God's support! Instead of God giving them the victory, Saul and his sons were killed. But God was still looking after David and his men.
Just because one part of the Christian Church is losing the spiritual battles does not mean that the whole church was losing. But we need to continue to seek God's will and obey Him wholeheartedly, then He will give us victory.

John 11:54-57. John 12:1-19

Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went away to a city called Ephraim close by a wilderness, and remained there with his disciples (v.11:54).

There was not an ounce of fear in Jesus; He was ready to face the worst challenge any man can be called on to bear: accepting death on the cross. But God has a time and place for everything. The appointed time for Jesus to be crucified was significant in that when He was to die on the cross, simultaneously the Paschal lamb would be slain in Jewish households. The crucifixion would lose something of the impact of its message if the crucifixion were to take place earlier, or even later. But God is always in control, and Jesus was crucified when the time was right.

Just so for Believers. God is in control of our lives, and everything that must happen in our lives will happen when God wants it to happen, whether our release from a trial, or the receiving of some good thing. In order to create the greatest impact, God is never too late or too early.

Psalm 118:1-18

The LORD is my strength, my song, and my salvation (v.14). (My paraphrase).

I enjoy that alliteration: strength, song, salvation!

Strong men can rejoice in that they do not have to rely on their own strength to face the challenges of life but can lean on Jesus for support; during those times when we are struggling to sing songs of praise Jesus will sing them for us; and for those who know they are sinners unworthy of living in God's kingdom it is wonderful to know that Jesus has prepared Himself to carry our every sin away, cleanse us, and make us worthy of the salvation He bought for us on the cross at such great cost to Himself, a salvation we can have for free!

Believers can confidently say: He is mine!

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The Lord is my strength, my song and my salvation!

The strongest man has not the strength
to withstand Satan's harsh attacks,
but Satan will give up at length
for Jesus has the power he lacks!

When songs no longer fill our hearts,
and praising something hard to do,
then that's when Jesus power imparts
to fill our hearts with songs anew.

But best of all, for those who sought
to free themselves from sin and shame
our Jesus on the cross has bought
salvation in His holy Name!

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Bible Poetry: Proverbs 15:24-26

v.24 The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
The way to good life is the heavenly road;
the wise on that highway would tread
that they might escape from that dreaded abode
called hell, which is home to the dead.

v.25. The LORD will destroy the house of the proud but establish the home of the widow.
The Lord will destroy the house of the proud
for they do not honour His Name;
but He has a home for those in the crowd
who serve Him with no thought of fame.

v.26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
The thoughts of the wicked are loathed by the Lord,
for they do not honour His Word;
but words that are spoken by those who are pure
are words that forever endure.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Devotion Thoughts - 20/05/2011

1 Samuel 26:1-25

David said to Abishai, "Don't harm him. No one can touch the Lord's anointed and be guiltless" (v.9). "The LORD forbid that I should harm His anointed, but take his spear and flask of water, and let us go" (v.11). (My paraphrase).

I believe that every saint of God, that is, every one who has received cleansing from sin by having them washed away in the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, has been anointed by having the presence of Almighty God in his heart. It is true that many believers do not experience an outpouring of His power through their lives, limiting God's use of them by a lack of expectation. Nevertheless, they are anointed, and those who dare to harm any believer will, sooner or later, be dealt with by God. Hopefully they become believers themselves, but if not, they will know the severity of God's displeasure.

1 Samuel 27:1-12

"David said in his heart, I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul; : there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines" (v.1).

There are times when even the most fervent of believers tires of daily battles for survival, and looks for an escape. Weary of being chased by Saul, David goes to live amongst his enemies, the Philistines. With a 'friend' like Saul, he saw no problem with this arrangement.

Usually David asked God for guidance before making any moves, but on this occasion there is no mention of such a request. He seems to have made the decision to move 'in his heart', that is, on his own. This does happen to believers; it's as if they don't ask for guidance because they think that either God is not going to help, or will expect them to continue struggling. They think they have found a solution themselves. Fortunately, God is aware when we do not mean to rebel. Knowing what the future holds, He will use our deviations to teach us lessons that bring about a return to His will.

Thank You, Father, for Your understanding!

1 Samuel 28:1-25

Then said Samuel, "... the LORD has left you and become your enemy" (v.16).

For our faith in God to be effective for our guidance it needs to be consistent. We can see that this was not the case with Saul. He starts off well enough, then disobeys some of God's commands given through Samuel. Then, after the slaying of Goliath, comes his blessings upon David. But when the people began to praise David more than they did Saul, he became jealous, and his vendetta against David took off. After the Spirit of the Lord departed from him, Saul became unpredictable. He killed off the priests of God, yet prayed for blessings on those who served him well; he rid the land of sorcerers and mediums, yet sought one when his prayers to God were not being answered. He was like a yo-yo!

When believers are in trouble their ways can be like those of Saul. Then it is time to turn humbly to God again, confess their sins and start from square one with the buildup of their faith. It is important to approach God humbly, placing no reliance on previous service for God or knowledge of the Bible. We must see ourslves as 'new' believers, just beginning to learn how to walk with God. When we approach Him in sincerity and with purposeful intent to serve Him, He will give us guidance. Believe me; I have been there!

It's like someone who has had an accident, broken legs and bones, and has to learn to walk and function normally again.

John 11:1-53

Jesus said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (v.4).
Jesus said, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he dies, is still alive, for whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (vv.25,26). (My paraphrase).
Jesus wept (v.35).

Normally I select one thought from a passage to chew on (we are to feast on the Bread of Life!), but I just had to dwell on these three thoughts:

  • 1. Our lives - through sickness or trials, as well as when things go well - are intended to glorify God, in this way glorifying Jesus. I cannot express it better than in these beautiful words from Annie Johnson Flint, who suffered with an incurable illness:
    He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
    He sendeth more strength as our labours increase.
    To added afflictions He addeth His mercy.
    To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
  • 2. It is not enough to know that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. If we believe this, then we must show the proof by living these words out in our lives.
  • 3. 'Jesus wept'? Does it not surprise you that Jesus, Almighty God, Who had the power to raise the dead, should weep? After all, He knew He was going to raise Lazarus to life!
    Well, Jesus was not weeping over the death of Lazarus; He wept for He empathised with the pain and hurt that was felt by Lazarus' family and friends. Know this: when we have lost someone we love, Jesus weeps for our pain and sorrow, and prays for strength for us from His privileged position at the right hand of God (Hebrews 4:15; 8:1).

All of this adds up to believers having a wonderful Saviour and Friend.

Psalm 117:1-2

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.

These verses are at the midpoint of the Bible. I see this as a reminder that whatever in life has gone before, and whatever lies ahead, we must make it our business to praise the Lord!

Proverbs 15:22-23

22. Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

Those who go through life trusting only in their own reasoning might do well enough, but will not achieve the greater success that will come from having access to the wisdom of many other counsellors.

23. A man feels satisfaction from his own good counsel, and a timeous word of wisdom gives much pleasure. (My paraphrase).

As a counsellor for others, it feels wonderful when God inspires us to give sound advice that we know will greatly benefit those we are counselling.

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Bible poetry: Proverbs 15:20-21

v.20. A wise son makes his father glad: but a foolish man despises his mother.
v.21. A man without wisdom enjoys stupidity; but a man of understanding will do what is right. (My paraphrase).

The good a wise son does
is sure to make his father glad;
a foolish son who does not care
will make his mother sad.

There are those men, though quite unwise,
who think they're smart in their own eyes;
but men who understand God's way
will pray for guidance every day.

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Devotion Thoughts - 19/05/2011

1 Samuel 24:1-22

Afterward David felt bad about cutting off Saul's skirt (v.5). David said to his men, The LORD forbid that I should wrong my master, the LORD'S anointed, by reaching out against him, seeing as he is the Lord's anointed (v.6).

David had great respect for the Lord, which is why his conscience made him feel bad about what he afterwards saw as an attack on Saul. David acknowledged that Saul was one of God's anointed, even if he was trying to kill David. Because he respected Saul's anointing, God made sure that David was blessed as the anointed king of Israel. Believers should show the same kind of respect to one another, even those they disagree with, for believers are the anointed of God! The respect we show to others will be shown to us in turn.

1 Samuel 25:1-44

'The name of the man was Nabal ... churlish, and evil in what he did' (v.3).

When someone is wealthy, the world regards he or she as someone who has a worthwhile message to listen to, even though possession of wealth does not always go hand in hand with intelligence, common sense and good character. Although wealthy, Nabal (whose name means 'fool') had no common sense and this showed in his response to David's men. Maybe it was the idea of parting with some of his wealth that caused him to make a wrong decision.

Believers, guided by the Bible, know that the only worthwhile message for the world to hear is the gospel of salvation for all who will believe in Jesus. Jesus' words will not pass away, but heaven and earth will pass away, along with the worthless words of mankind.

John 10:22-42

I give to them eternal life; they shall never perish, nor shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, Who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one (vv.28-30).

When we place our trust in Jesus we are placing our trust in Almighty God, for Jesus and our Father are one. There is a lot going for us, believers!

I do not believe in the doctrine of 'Once saved, always saved', which some think Jesus is saying when He declares, 'They shall never perish'. Know that, although no man can pluck us out of God's hands, we can personally choose to walk away from God, or become apostate, or, as Paul put it, 'be shipwrecked' in our faith. Praise God that as long as we place our trust in Him to take care of us there is no danger of shipwreck.

Psalm 116:1-19

'Because God has listened to my prayer I will worship Him as long as I live' (v.2).

The psalmist has not had it easy to judge from his words, but that has not stopped him from praising the Lord and serving him with all his heart.

The writer has in mind service while still alive on earth; believers know that serving the Lord will never end. Our born again state is about 'everlasting life', which means that just as soon as our earthly days for worshiping the Lord are over we continue praising Him along with the multitude that have gone before. Hallelujah! Believers are indeed blessed!

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Bible Poetry: Proverbs 15:18-19

v.18. A man easily angered is sure to cause strife; but one who is cautious will lead a calm life.

v.19. The man who is idle much trouble will see; while paths for the righteous will far smoother be.

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Devotion Thoughts - 18/05/2011

1 Samuel 22:1-23

David went to Mizpeh of Moab and asked the king of Moab, "Please allow my father and mother to live with you until I know what God will do for me..." (v.22:3)

Here is the secret of David's success: whatever he had to do he first asked God for guidance. This is apparent throughout the record of his life. God appreciates it when we defer to Him, and willingly responds to our humble requests for His help.

1 Sam 23:1-29

Saul was on this side of the mountain, David and his men on the other side. David made haste to get away, for Saul and his men surrounded David and his men and were about to capture them (v.23:26). But a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Come quickly! The Philistines have invaded the land!" (v.23:27). (My paraphrase).

We don't always notice when God is busy in our lives, but He is - all the time! Saul was about to capture David, but God had already set in motion the Philistine invasion which prompted the message that caused Saul to return home. It might appear that the messenger arrived 'at the last minute', but God has everything well timed.

When it seems that God is not going to rescue us we must not fall into despair, for God says: 'It will happen that before they [His people] finish praying I will respond' (Isaiah 65:24).

If you are busy doing what you know God wants you to do, then believe that His answer is on the way. He never neglects obedient servants!

John 10:1-21

'I came that they might have life, abundant life!' (v.10). (My paraphrase).

If we focus only on the financial or the physical, we might not agree that we have 'abundant' life. There is not doubt that, compared with many wealthy non-believers, believers generally do not have much by way of material good. But that is not the reason we became believers. We are believers because we accept that Jesus died to take away our sins, cleansing us so that we are eligible to live in God's heaven.

I believe that the 'abundant life' applies to life on earth and then in heaven. The cause of problems on earth is about our perceptions of what life should be made up of. If we believe that 'abundance' is about material wealth and we are poor, then we will believe that we do not have 'abundance'.

But if we think of wealth in terms of the spiritual, then having God in our lives will be more important to us than anything else in the world; we will believe we have abundant life when Almighty God lives in our hearts. Then the closer we walk with God the more we see ourselves as enjoying abundant life.


They that make [idols] are like them; so is every one that trusts in them (v.8).
You who fear the LORD, trust the LORD: he is their help and shield (v.11).

The psalmist gives a description of the man-made idols: they don't speak, see, hear, smell, or feel, nor are they mobile. In short, they are totally useless, unable to help in any situation. That is in stark contrast to the Lord, Who helps and protects those who trust in Him.

Who makes idols these days? Other than Islam, most non-Christian religions make what God described as 'graven images' and bow down to them (Exodus 20:4,5). However, not all idols are visible images. Some idols take the form of wrongful desires (Colossians 3:5), or attitudes such as rebellion against God, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge His right to be honoured as the Creator. Because they have rejected God and His word, He is going to reject them at the Judgment (1Samuel 15:23).

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Poetry Bible: Proverbs 15:15-17

v.15. When Believers are quite ill it's about the physical; those we call 'afflicted' will suffer in the spiritual.

v.16. Rather own but little yet be walking with the Lord than to have great troubles, even though you have a hoard.

v.17. Better to have little, with a family full of love, than to live in hatred, 'though you own a treasure trove!

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Devotion Thoughts - 17/05/2011

1 Samuel 20:1-42. 1 Samuel 21:1-15

'... David said to Ahimelech the priest, "The king has sent me on a secret mission and told me to not tell anyone else about it ..."' 1Sa 21:2.

David's deceitful actions were to cost the life of innocent Ahimelech. In our readings, others who were involved in deceit included: Saul, towards David; Jonathan, towards Saul; and David, towards Achish, king of Gath.

Is there ever any justification for deceitfulness? If dishonesty for self-gain is involved there is no justification. But if I should know someone is guilty of an as yet undisclosed sin, I can either speak (or gossip!) about it and cause further hurt that will also harm others, or I can keep quiet about it in order to protect any who would be harmed by disclosures (technically deceitful, but also caring, which carries God's approval).

Here's something else: David's deceit was for personal benefit, but the ripples spread wide and, because of Doeg, cost the lives of the priest and most of his family. But David did not learn from this. Later, he again used deceit for personal benefit in the murder of Uriah the Hittite, trying to cover his adultery with Bathsheba. This time God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David about his ongoing deceitfulness.

If we repeat certain sins God brings us to book so that, like David, we have the opportunity to confess and say, 'I have sinned!' (2 Samuel 12:13). For Believers confession is spiritually therapeutic!

John 9:1-41

'I do the work God sent me to do while there is opportunity, for the end is coming after which it will no longer be possible to work' (v.4, my paraphrase).

There is no guarantee that we will see another sunrise. We might die today, but it could also be that the Lord returns, signifying the end of this age. Either way is OK for Believers!

However, if God chooses to allow us to continue with earthly life for a while longer then we should follow the example set by Jesus. Let us get on with the business of witnessing to the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour, Who died for the sins of the world, so that whosoever believes in him shall have everlasting life and live with God forever in His Kingdom.

Maranatha (even so, come Lord Jesus).

Psalm 113:1-9

Praise the LORD. You servants of the LORD, praise the Lord; praise the name of the LORD. (v.1).

There is no greater ministry for Believers than to worship Almighty God!

Psalm 114:1-8

Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, ... the God of Jacob, Who turned rock into water, and flint into a fountain of waters (vv.7,8). (My paraphrase).

Believers, rejoice in God, for He can turn the hardest of situations into fountains of blessing!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Devotion Thoughts - 16/05/2011

1 Samuel 18:5-30.  1 Samuel 19:1-24
'It happened ... that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul ...' (18.10).
Confusing, isn't it? God sending a demon to upset Saul! What's going on?
Well, it's a manner of speaking. We find an answer in two parallel passages that describe an incident in the life of David. They are 2 Samuel 24:1 (God makes David take a census) and 1 Chronicles 21:1 (Satan makes David take a census). The verses following each of these references make it clear that they relate to the same incident.
For me the explanation is simple: taking a census was an unnecessary vanity on David's part; why bother to find out how strong his army was when he was supposed to trust God for protection and victory? Surely he had learned that much already?
Father God wants to teach His beloved child, David, a lesson; temporarily removing His protection from around David allows the ever-present Satan an opportunity to attack! So, however we describe the incident, the end result is the same: David is punished.
I also see this as proof of God's protecting power around Believers. Our Father God allows trials for our good (1 Corinthians 10:13). By trusting Him throughout them, we will become stronger Believers through seeing how God rescues us from every evil.
John 8:31-59
Jesus said to those who believed him, If you obey my teachings then you are truly my disciples; and you shall know the truth, and it shall make you free. (vv.31,32).
In John 14:6 John writes that Jesus called Himself 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life'. It is a way of saying that there is no other way to God the Father, a message drummed into His disciples by the Father Himself Who said,'This is my beloved Son; listen to Him!' (Matthew 17:5).  Now we have Jesus confirming that we need to believe on Him, obey His teachings and then only are we His disciples. Those Christians who do not obey all His teachings are not, by those criteria, His disciples.
Psalm 112:1-10
'Surely... the righteous shall be remembered forever' (v.6).
We know that at the Judgment the books in which details of our earthly lives have been recorded will be scrutinized. Fortunately for Believers, the sins they committed on earth will have been expunged from the record by God. Great! But that's not all! The verse says that Believers (I'm using writers' liberty here, but it is still correct!) will be remembered forever. For what? Well, if only our bad deeds are forgotten, then we can only be remembered.
Thank You for Your kindness, Lord!


Bless God, O my soul, for my God has blessed me!
Christ died on the cross so that I can be free
from all of my sins, cast far in the sea
of God's great forgiveness! How God has blessed me!


Bible Poetry: Proverbs 15:12-14

Proverbs 15:12-14

v. 12. Those who scorn to hear the truth from sense are far removed,
nor will they seek wiser help in case they be reproved.

v. 13. Laughter is the way to go if smiles we want to share;
spirits break in hearts that sorrow more than they can bear.

v.14. For the bright, to have more knowledge is what they would gain;
but for fools, from foolishness they simply can't refrain.