Thursday, October 30, 2008

1 Kings 19 - Elijah Continued!

LINK: 1 Kings 19
It is yet another "catch up on your reading day" because my kids just completed preparation for a presentation on local government in their government class, and I have a FLAMING sore throat! So sorry. I am going to bed, and I will summarize the exciting story of Elijah tomorrow (hopefully).

We have good news about Jerry (Becky's husband who had the terrible motorcycle accident):

Hi, ladies!
I just talked to Becky. Jerry will be coming to Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake Rehab, tomorrow. He will come by ambulance and Becky & Paula will follow in the car. Becky said Jerry is improving daily, and he is stronger. He even "likes" rehab, because it gives him something to do & it's helping him to improve.Great news! Joan

Let's give praise to God!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1 Kings 16-17 Evil Kings & Elijah

LINK: 1 Kings 16-17

Chapter 16 is focused on the next few kings of Israel.

Baasha reigned 24 years (909-886 B.C.) and "did evil in the sight of the Lord." God promised to wipe out the family of Baasha because of his great sin.

Elah (son of Baasha) succeeded him to the throne and reigned two years (886-885 B.C.). One of his major military commanders, Zimri, conspired against him and killed him as well as all other members of Baasha's family, fulfilling God's promise to destroy Baasha's household.

Zimri reigned only seven days in the year 885 B.C. before the people of Israel rose up against him. When Zimri saw that he would lose the throne, he burned his house down overtop of himself.

There was a dispute over who should be king -- Omri or Tibni -- but the supporters of Omri prevailed and Tibni died (probably murdered).

Omri reigned twelve years (885-874 B.C.) and established Samaria as the capital of Israel.

Ahab, son of Omri, reigned next for 22 years (874-853 B.C.) and was the worst of all kings so far. He married Jazebel and together they led Israel deep into pagan worship. Ahab built an altar for Baal and made an Asherah pole.

Baal was the storm god, the "rider of the clouds" who exercised control over rain, wind, and clouds. As the fertility god, he became the most significant deity, since life depended on rain and harvest. The stories of the gods were full of violence, cruelty, rape, and seduction. Baal worship was characterized by idolatry and immorality that went along with cult prostitution. The mother goddess Asherah was sometimes depicted as Baal's enemy -- but more often as his consort. Often depicted as the naked goddess, the goddess of fertility, she was honored by a wooden pole or a stone pillar, which probably had sexual implications. (from Gary Inrig's commentary on 1&2 Kings)

Chapter 17 introduces Elijah. He showed up on the scene and declared that it will not rain for three years until Elijah himself tells it to rain again. This directly defied the false god Baal. Through the drought, God provided for Elijah. The Lord sent Elijah to a Gentile widow and provided for her as well. When the widow's only son died, God brought him back to life, demonstrating his power over life and death, further convincing the widow that Elijah truly was a man sent by God and that he spoke the true word of God.

That's enough comments for today. Keep reading; Elijah (and God) will do some exciting things in the next few chapters!

Lord, help us not to get distracted with our own desires and the things of this world that lead us into idolatry. Keep our hearts pure and fully devoted to you, because you are the only true God and the salvation of our souls. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

1 Kings 9-10 -- Warning & Wealth

LINK: 1 Kings 9-10

God reminded Solomon that he would be blessed as long as he walked "in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you." But if Solomon or his sons turn away from following God and don't keep his commandments but serve and worship other gods, then the temple will be destroyed and Israel will be removed from the land.

Solomon was building great wealth. He had forced laborers (the Canaanites who were still living in the land they had conquered), started building a navy, and traded extensively with other nations. Besides other goods, he had an annual income of 2.5 TONS of gold! On top of that, officials from all over the world came to see him every year, bringing many gifts of gold, silver, garments, spices, horses, and mules. And Solomon traded with Egypt in order to purchase horses and chariots.

Deuteronomy 17:16-17 (emphasis added)
Moreover, he (the king of Israel) shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, "You shall never again return that way." Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.
Solomon was not walking in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing all that God had commanded.


It is very easy to get distracted from our obedience to God and to get carried away with things of this world. It's something we have to be on guard for. It is very wise to set aside time regularly to seek God's face and search our hearts to make sure we are staying on track.

Lord, you know how the things of this world tempt us, for you were tempted also. Please help us to keep our focus on you and not get distracted by all the glittery things of this world. Amen.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Psalm 50 - God Gives a Warning!

LINK: Psalms 50


This is the first of twelve Psalms titled, “ A Psalm of Asaph.” It’s unclear whether Asaph is the author of the psalms or whether the psalms were dedicated to him.

This psalm opens with three names for God. In English we read “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken and summoned the whole earth.” I don’t think we get quite the emphasis that is there in the Hebrew, which uses the words “El,” “Elohim,” and consonants that mean Jehovah, which in English is translated LORD. We could make a study of those three names for God, but my only point today is that God wanted to leave no doubt as to who is speaking and summoning here.


God has something to say and He wants us to hear. He is going to judge everyone. Surprisingly, his judgment will begin with those who identify themselves as His, those who say they are His people. He has something against some of them and charges two groups found within His people.

The LORD first charges those Jews who have totally missed the real purpose for sacrifices. God says He has no complaint about the fact that they are sacrificing. What He is complaining about is those who have forgotten that the sacrifice is one of thanksgiving for the love and mercy of God – the God who owns all and doesn’t need the sacrifices. He reminds them here that He’s not one of the gods like the people around them worship – He doesn’t rely on the sacrifices for food – the sacrifices aren’t something they do to appease Him, but rather speak to their realization of what He has done for them. They should be offering sacrifices from thankful and trusting hearts.

The second group of people that God levels charges at are those who claim to belong to Him, who know His word, yet who are characterized by evil and deceit. They are hypocrites. They aren’t living what they’re learning. God tells these people to repent before it’s too late. These people accuse God of not being interested and feel free to live life the way they want to. They have interpreted His silence as meaning that He doesn’t care how they live. He tells us here that He does. He may be silent at the moment, but it’s not because He doesn’t care. A time of reckoning will come.

So what does this psalm have to do with us today? It warns us, just as it warned the Israelites.

We are not to take God lightly.

God wants our true thanks and worship, not because He needs them, but because we need Him.

He wants our trust.

He want us to give Him glory.

He wants us to reflect Him - to be doers of what we read, not just hearers. We should be living out our thanks to the LORD by living His principles.

We should not think that if God is silent it’s because He doesn’t care how we live. He does.


Do you find yourself treating God lightly by habitually coming to Him without a heart that is thankful for His love and mercy and provision? Do you reverse His role and yours and somehow think that what you do for God is because He needs it and you are helping Him?

Do you pretend to obey God? Do you act one way at church and another way at work or when you’re alone? Do you claim His promises, but not live the way He says?

This psalm is a warning to those who say they are God’s people. Maybe we’d better heed it long enough to examine ourselves. If you find that you fit either of these categories of people, repent and turn to God with renewed thanks and obedience and trust.


Mighty God and LORD – you have no need for anything from us. Give us thankful hearts to YOU – the owner and giver of all things. Thank you that it is in Jesus’ sacrifice that we have forgiveness and can be your covenant people. Help us to live with integrity so that our actions reflect what we learn from Your Word and demonstrate our thanks to You.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Proverbs 12 - Wise Words

LINK: Proverbs 12


One great way to learn from Proverbs is to group verses topically. Today I’d like to look at what Proverbs 11 – 12 have to say about our words, our speech. Yesterday we looked at the broader meaning – how to delight the Lord – and you can continue looking for ways in this chapter as well. But Proverbs is full of advice on all sorts of specific topics, and several hit me as I read. I picked the topic “words” to write about here, but I also digested the advice on using money and material goods, on attitudes about work, and on women.


With {his} mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. (11:9)

He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. (11: 12-13)

The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright will deliver them. (12:6)

A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man's hands will return to him. (12:14)

There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (12: 18)

Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment. (12: 19)

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy. (12:20)

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight. (12: 22)

A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly. (12: 23)

So what characterizes the wise person’s use of words – her speech?

She doesn’t use them lightly or speak of what she doesn’t know (11:9) and in the end her honesty and sincere speech will deliver her from the harm others may try to do to her (11:9 and 12:6). She doesn’t spread stories about other people. She’s not a gossip. She is trustworthy with what has been told her and can keep a secret (11:12-13; 12: 23). She seeks to heal and not wound with her words (12: 18, 20) . She is honest and truthful (12: 19, 20, 22). I love how 12:22 equates truthful words with dealing faithfully. Think about that! A wise woman tries to make peace through her honest advice, not stir up wrong by shading the truth in order to manipulate and deceive others (12:20). When she speaks wise words (true and healing and kind and peaceful words) she will be satisfied with the good results of those words (12:14) – her words can bear good fruit! The wise woman thinks before she speaks – doesn’t speak rashly (12:18, 23).

If a woman speaks wisely she will have joy and peace and be satisfied! Her truthful speech (integrity) will stand her in good stead in times of persecution or trouble.

I noticed, too, that often the heart is mentioned with our words. What is in our hearts will be reflected in our speech. It says in James that the tongue is the hardest member to tame. Perhaps that’s because there’s a direct relationship between the heart and the mouth. That’s why we need to seek the LORD Jesus and yield to Him.

There may be other verses that can apply to our use of words, but those are the ones I saw and recorded. It hit me (tying this in with yesterday’s post) that my words can give delight to my God or they can disgust Him (12:22). I do want to delight God!

There are other topics covered in these two chapters, as I have already mentioned. Why don’t you write down verses that deal with the same topic (like money or women or work or discipline) and paraphrase what those verses’ advice is?


Truly, Lord, it is hard to tame the tongue. I know that from experience. Thank you for Your death and resurrection, for your forgiveness and grace and mercy. I so often fail to reflect You in my words. Please be in charge in my heart and show me where I am not whole in yielding to You, where I lack integrity. I want my words to heal others, not hurt them. And I want to delight You! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Proverbs 11 - Giving God Delight!

LINK: Proverbs 11


Proverbs uses contrasts to teach us. The contrasts help us understand what the alternatives are and make clear our choices. The first nine chapters of the book express the contrasts in longer sections: contrasting wisdom with folly and making it clear that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of widsom.. We have learned that as we follow the Lord with trust, committed to the path of wisdom, we are made wiser. In the last twenty-one chapters of the book we’ll discover how we can “fear the Lord” in everyday life, in small details. Chapters 10 – 15 express contrasts in short units, usually of one verse. Frequently the verse has “but” in the middle between the two contrasting statements.


As I read this chapter I was struck by all the contrasts between the godly and ungodly. The godly person is characterized by humility, integrity, right living, peace, kind words, generosity, and wisdom. Quite a bit is wrapped up in those words. The ungodly person is characterized by foolishness, dishonesty, treachery, pride, greed, and hypocrisy.

The righteous or godly are compared to green leaves and trees that bear lifegiving fruit in vv.28 and 30. “He who trusts in his riches will fall,/ But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. “ “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,/ And he who is wise wins souls.” I love those images more and more as I grow older! As we’ve seen over and over again in the passages we’ve read this year, it’s important where our trust is placed. Is our trust centered on ourselves or some other person, on our family or things? Or are we clinging to the Lord in humble trust, realizing that He is the only sure foundation. Being godly doesn’t mean we’re exempt from suffering. It does mean we have someone to turn to when we do suffer. As we trust in the Lord and live in obedience to Him, He will nourish our souls and give us life, which in turn can bless others.


“The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD,/ But the blameless in their walk are His delight.” (20) That verse contains a strong contrast! God is disgusted by hypocrisy, by those who claim to follow God but really serve themselves. God delights in those who are wholehearted in seeking righteousness – in seeking Him - those who have integrity. The Hebrew word for “blameless” means complete, whole, entire, sound. The word “walk” means habits or manner of life.

What are your habits? Do you want to delight the Lord? Read through Chapter 11 and notice what actions bring delight to the Lord. Are there any that you find yourself struggling with? Ask God to help you in those areas.


Dear Lord, Thank you that the way to wisdom lies simply in realizing we’re not wise and that we need You! You are our righteousness and our strength. Keep us from putting our trust in what has no power to help us. May your Spirit use this chapter to show each of us specific ways we can give You more delight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

1 Kings 3-4 - Setting up Solomon's Kingdom

LINK: 1 Kings 3-4

Chapter 3 tells of Solomon's request for wisdom from God and the display of that wisdom when he judged between two women claiming one baby.

Chapter 4 tells how Solomon set up his administration and of his great fame. Solomon reigned 40 years, approximately 971-931 B.C. Here is a map demonstrating the extent of Solomon's rule.


In 1 Kings 3:3 we read:

Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

Solomon loved God and worshiped him and obeyed him . . . EXCEPT for one thing. He used the high places for sacrifices instead of obeying God's command to sacrifice only at the tabernacle. These "high places" will lead him away from God and will take the nation of Israel away from God as well.

Do I worship and obey God in all of my life . . . EXCEPT one thing? Is there something that I hold onto? Is there just one thing that I want to do my way instead of God's? Those exceptions, those "one thing" items in my life can lead to a lot of trouble. They are opportunities for Satan to gain entry into my life and lead me astray.


God gave Solomon the opportunity to make one request of him, and Solomon asked God for wisdom. He asked for an "understanding heart." He didn't ask for head knowledge; he wanted a heart that would discern well by God's standards.

Do you know that you can ask God for wisdom as well? In James 1:5 we are told that if we lack wisdom we should ask God for it. And God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, will give it to us. One word of caution, though, you have to have faith, not doubting that God will answer your request (v 6-8). So, go ahead, ask God for wisdom to discern what's right in your life.

Lord, I want my life to be entirely yours with no "EXCEPT one thing" that I hold back. Search my heart and show me anything that is keeping me from wholeheartedly obeying and serving you. Give me wisdom to meet the trials in this life in a way that is pleasing to you, so I will grow to maturity in you. I love you, Lord. I want to serve you with my life and obey you from my heart. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Psalm 72 - The Just and Righteous King

LINK: Psalm 72


Psalm 72 ends Book II of Psalms.

The title at the beginning of the psalm reads, “A Psalm of Solomon.” The consensus of opinion seems to be that Solomon is the author of this psalm and that in some early version of Psalms all of David’s psalms were grouped in the first two books of Psalms, which is why verse 20 says, “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” Some commentators, however, especially older ones, believe that this is a prayer of David and that perhaps Solomon is named in the title because he’s the one who wrote it down. I’m not sure it matters – it doesn’t to me – but I thought I should mention it. There’s certainly no doubt that the psalm is about Solomon, at least on the surface.

This psalm is a prayer asking for God’s blessing on the king of Israel, Solomon, who was to reflect God’s character to His people. God, the true ruler, is the source of justice and righteousness and the kings of Israel were supposed reflect those traits to their people. As we read further in 1 and 2 Kings, we’ll have a chance to evaluate just how well the kings did!

If you look at the language of this psalm there are parts that point to the Messiah - to Jesus Christ, and there are parts that point to Solomon. This is one of those psalms with a clear double meaning. It is a prayer for Solomon, but it also clearly points to the Messiah – the ultimate and final Ruler, the one from whom Solomon’s power derived. So “this is a prophetic psalm, in which Christ is typified by Solomon, whose name means ‘peace’.” (Search the Scriptures, 243)


“Take me there!” That was my first thought after reading this psalm. We are in the midst of an economic crisis where people’s greed is being exposed and economic security is threatened. Here in the U.S. we are in the last throes of presidential election campaigns, with each candidate trying to convince us that his policies are the ones that will work and give peace and prosperity to our country. I doubt that any candidate will usher in a new era of peace and justice. I’m ready for the kingdom of Psalm 72!

The only Ruler who can truly promise peace and righteousness and justice (as well as mercy and abundance) is Jesus. We can taste those now, even in the midst of the conflicts and needs of this life. Someday we will know them completely. Someday everyone will know that Jesus is King and Lord.

Are you poor and needy? This psalm reminds me of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” God longs for us to be poor and needy so that He can deliver us and fill us with His abundance.

“His name shall endure forever;/… Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,/ Who only does wondrous things!/ And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory./ Amen and Amen.” (18-19)

Who is your Ruler? Where do you turn when you are needy? There is only one kingdom that will last forever. There is only one Ruler who fulfills all His promises. His name is Jesus.

Can you take the time to read this psalm again?


“Blessed be the Lord God …who only does wondrous things!” Help us to put our trust in You. We thank you for being a King who cares for us. We pray for this country that we live in for awhile. We are needy, though we often don’t realize it. Help us to pursue goodness and mercy and truth. Raise up humble leaders who reflect Your righteousness and justice. Most of all, Lord, we pray that You will do what is best for Your kingdom, for Your Name.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2 Samuel 20-21

LINK: 2 Samuel 20-21


Chapter 20
The schism between Israel and Judah shows up again here when Sheba, a Benjamite (Saul's tribe) of Israel, led a rebellion against David. The tribes of Israel followed Sheba while Judah remained loyal to David. David told Amasa to gather his men for battle, but he took too long to do it, so David sent Abishai after Sheba. Joab joined Abishai in the venture, and the two leaders (and brothers) pursued Sheba. When Joab encountered Amasa, he killed him, thus regaining his position as head of the army, then he continued his pursuit of Sheba.

Sheba was hiding in the city of Abel Beth-maacah (Abel, for short), so the army besieged the city. A wise woman of Abel called for Joab to find out what he wanted. In order to save the city, the woman convinced the people of the city to kill Sheba and so end the siege.

Chapter 21
There was a famine for three years. David recognized the famine as chastening from God, so he asked God the reason. God revealed to him that Israel was guilty of killing some of the Gibeonites under the leadership of Saul. (Remember, they had made a treaty with the Gibeonites not to kill any of them.) So David talked to the leaders of the Gibeonites and asked how he could make restitution. They took the lives of seven of Saul's descendents.

This section of narrative ends with more exploits of David and his men against the Philistines -- giants, even.


Many difficulties arise in our lives as believers, often just because life is difficult. But there are also times when God chastises his own children. You can read about it in Hebrews 12:5-11. Many Christians go through life's difficulties always wondering if God is punishing them for some unknown deed, and they live in a state of defeatedness because of it. I am of the opinion that God does not leave his children wondering. If he is disciplining you, you will know it, and he will also make known to you what your offense is. Otherwise, his discipline would be pointless. So, when life is difficult, seek the Lord. He will sustain you through the rough times, and you will grow from them. (See Romans 5:3-5.)

Father, thank you for loving us when we were your enemies and making us your children. We rejoice in our reconciliation to you! Lead us in serving you with our lives. Bring us comfort in sadness, strength in difficulties, and confidence in who we are as your children. Amen.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Psalms 48 - 49 - God, Our Protection and True Wealth

LINK: Psalm 48 and Psalm 49


Everytime I read Psalm 48 I want to break into song! The first year we were married my husband and I were part of a wonderful Bible study group. We learned so many great Scripture songs and we sang this psalm frequently. So now when I read it I want to sing it. And truly, its message is something worth singing about! It (and the two previous psalms) were written in praise of the memory of a great deliverance, probably that of Jerusalem from Assyrians. (You can read the story in 2 Kings 18-19.) God does deliver and protect His people. Look at the words of this psalm and note what is said about Him: His character and His relation to His people.

How timely Psalm 49 is for us, with all that is going on in our country with the financial crisis and the economic bailout to bring home its truth. It is foolish to trust in riches.

Riches cannot redeem a soul. I love vv. 7 – 9 and 15 for their foreshadowing of Jesus. The psalmist points out that there is no way to redeem or give a ransom for someone’s soul – no person can do that. We don’t have enough. Then the psalmist says in verse 15 “God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol,/ For He will receive me.” It is so cool to me that long before Jesus, this psalmist knew that God is the one who redeems even as He judges. God has provided a ransom, a redeemer for us in Jesus. He rescues our soul. Jesus, our Redeemer, is true wealth.


I’ve already mentioned one way to apply Psalm 48. Read the psalm and as you do, list what is said about God’s character and His relation with His people. Then praise Him!

Read Psalm 49. What does it say about how people generally view wealth (6, 13,18)? Is that true of you? Do you define yourself by what you have or don’t have? Do you admire those who have acquired position and wealth?

What does this psalm say is true about wealth? What’s wealth unable to do ? What happens to the person who trusts in what he has? What perspective are we counseled to have?


Father God, thank you that You are our stronghold and our safety. Thank you that You have lovingkindness and are righteous. We are so grateful that You guide us. Help us to put our trust in You and You alone. Help us to desire You more than anything – more than money and things and position. Thank you that You came and paid our ransom – something we are unable to do ourselves.