Day 105: David’s Heart

1 Samuel 15-17; Luke 14:25-35

Key Verses

1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Luke 14:27
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

Saul… He had the audacity to use religious duty as an excuse to disobey God’s word – and we learn from vs. 15:30 that Saul’s first priority was to have honor in the people’s eyes. So, God sent Samuel to anoint a new king, and we read from today’s key verse the qualification most important to God – the condition of the heart.

We see the valor of David’s heart as he faces Goliath in Chapter 17, but more importantly, we see his trust in God! David was also equipped with the Spirit. We read in Chapter 16 (vs. 13-14) that after David was anointed by Samuel, God’s Spirit departed from Saul and rushed upon David. This Spirit was not associated with salvation (as in the New Testament) but rather the Spirit was an Equipper – helping God’s chosen leader to accomplish his kingly purpose.

We too have been given a royal purpose…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2.9).

Jesus reminds us in today’s reading that discipleship requires whole-hearted commitment. But we have also been given the Equipper – the Holy Spirit – to help us accomplish this high calling.

So I ask… Are our hearts more like the self-serving Saul? Or more like the valiant David? I hope neither!!! I hope for my heart to be like Jesus! I think David would agree ;)

Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness (Psalm 26:2-3; of David).

Advertisements

Day 94: Perplexed and Amazed

Judges 10:6-12:15; Luke 9:10-36

Key Verses

Luke 9:23-25
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

In Judges, we read of Jephthah. He is a double-sided puzzle to me…

On one hand, Jephthah showed extensive knowledge of Israel’s history and seemed to have faith in the God of Israel. But on the other hand, he made a rash vow which resulted in the sacrifice of his own daughter. The law provided an “out” for rash vows (Lev. 5:4-6), so it is unclear why Jephthah would do something so horrible as child sacrifice.

I think Jephthah’s story illustrates the consequences of idolatry and apostasy on the human heart. The heart becomes duplicitous – double minded.

I wonder what Jephthah and Israel would have thought of Jesus’ words in today’s Key Verse? These verses convict me… Because just like Israel, I make compromises and look to modern-day idols to fill my longings. It always amazes me to read of God working on behalf of his adulterous people. Even though God did not “raise up” Jephthah, He still used him to defeat Israel’s oppressors. But Jephthah’s half-heartedness led to horrible personal consequences. The nation also suffered for their idolatrous hearts… as Judges 12 describes civil war in Israel.

What do we do with a passage like this? I know what I do… I’m more thankful for Jesus! I’m thankful that my sin has been forgiven. I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit convicts and equips me. I’m thankful for Jesus’ life of compassion and grace. And I’m thankful to be swept up in a relationship with the living God.

Oh God, help me live a life worthy of the calling I have received. Help me to love and obey you with a whole heart!

**For commentary on other significant parts of Luke 9, such as Jesus’ first prediction of his death and/or the Transfiguration, see “Day 24: Setting the Stage”.

Day 87: We have to follow to lead

Joshua 18-19; Luke 5:17-39

Key Verses

Joshua 19:49
When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun.

Luke 5:32
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Joshua exemplifies leadership. I’m sure someone has written an entire leadership training course based on Joshua’s life! I think he is such a good leader because he is an even better follower. Joshua followed Moses as his assistant for most of his life. And after Moses died, Joshua followed God.

In this section of Scripture, we read as Joshua allots land to the remaining tribes and their clans – and at the very end, Joshua receives his allotment. It’s a conservative plot – located away from the major cities. You can tell his job is almost complete and he plans to enjoy the rest of his time in peace.

Joshua, like many of the Old Testament figures, points forward to Jesus. Jesus exemplifies leadership in today’s passage from Luke. We see him teaching, healing, forgiving and serving. We see him spending time with “sinners” and endure criticism from the religious leaders. Jesus followed the will of his Father. He was the perfect leader because he followed perfectly.

We, like Joshua, are called to follow. We are called to follow in the steps and ways of Jesus. In order to follow, we must humble ourselves and lay aside our own agendas. In order to be an effective leader, we must first be a humble follower.

Day 86: For Our Own Good!

Joshua 15-17; Luke 5:1-16

Key Verses

Luke 5:11
And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Joshua 15:63
But the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.

Today’s key verses illustrate the difference between the wholehearted devotion of Jesus’ disciples and the half-hearted obedience of the Israelites.

Joshua 15:63 is tucked in the middle of lists of newly occupied cities and almost seems like an aside. But it spells trouble. The people were to drive out ALL the inhabitants of the land. This lack of obedience is evidence that the people were not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord. This small misstep will fester and multiply so that after only two generations, the people will have turned away to worship other gods. God’s command to drive out all of the inhabitants was to protect the people from idolatry. God calls us to obey for our own good!

Meanwhile, in Luke’s gospel, we read of Jesus calling his first disciples by the Sea of Galilee (or Lake of Gennesaret). This is the third time this event is recorded in the gospels; it is also found in Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20.

In each of the three Gospels, it seems as if these men barely know Jesus – and they just suddenly decide to leave their professions and livelihood to follow a virtual stranger (albeit a famous stranger!) But in reality, they had spent almost a year with Jesus prior to this scene. The first four chapters of John occur chronologically before this event. So these men had plenty of opportunities to witness Jesus’ ways and work. It is only after they have spent considerable time with Jesus that He asks them to make such a drastic commitment.

In the same way, Jesus gives us time to learn his ways and work. Be warned… eventually, he will ask for your whole heart. As we struggle to surrender, we must remember that all He asks of us is for our own good!

Day 64: A Picture Lesson in Discipleship

Numbers 32-33; Mark 10:1-31

Key Verses

Mark 10:29-31
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Have you noticed that Jesus’ discipleship lessons center around one topic… Sacrifice.  Today’s reading illustrates the importance of sacrifice in the story of the rich young ruler. I’m borrowing today’s post from my personal blog (which details my journey as a mom to a disabled child). I hope you enjoy it :)

An Unfair Exchange May 18, 2012

Remember the rich, young ruler? He wants to follow Jesus, but Jesus asks him to sacrifice the one thing he loves most – his possessions. The man can’t and leaves broken-hearted. His disciples are incredulous. “Who can be saved?” they ask. Jesus gives the good news. “With man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

I cannot muster the ability to sacrifice from within myself.

I have dreams you know… And they aren’t selfish desires. They are good desires, but for now, I can’t pursue them because of the time it requires to care for my disabled daughter. I have it easy actually. God has given me a clear choice.

  1. Pursue your own desires and let someone else care for my daughter. OR
  2. Sacrifice and care for her myself.

Like I’m going to choose not to care for my own daughter.

But here’s where the mystery is revealed. Here is the paradox that I could have never uncovered on my own. You know what you find when you sacrifice your own desires and wants and dreams? And I don’t mean the “sacrifices” that make us feel better about ourselves. No, I mean the gut-wrenching, I HATE THIS kind of sacrifice. Because that’s how I feel most of the time. I HATE THIS.

You know what I’ve found. Do you know what’s at the bottom of the deep well of sacrifice? What’s waiting when you really let Jesus be the King and surrender to that horrible thing he’s asked you to do – the thing you could never do by yourself? Do you know what’s waiting for you? Satisfaction.

As gut-wrenching as the sacrifice is, the satisfaction on the other side is… well, it’s other-worldly. Jesus doesn’t ask us to sacrifice because He wants to make our lives miserable. He does it because He knows that it is the only way to find true, soul-filling satisfaction in this world. He asks us to sacrifice because He loves us.

And Jesus, looking at [the rich young ruler], loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The rich, young ruler couldn’t. And neither can I. Yet, somehow in the letting go and asking for help, Jesus does the impossible and sacrifices through me – and I get to experience that joy that surpasses all understanding. It’s not fair actually. I definitely don’t deserve it. But I’ll take it :)

Day 63: The 2nd discipleship lesson

Numbers 30-31; Mark 9

Key Verses

Mark 9:35-37
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Mark 9 is very similar to Matthew 17… They both begin with an account of the Transfiguration, and then as Jesus comes down the mountain he is confronted with the boy with an unclean spirit.

Jesus then predicts his death for the 2nd time. And he follows it with his 2nd lesson on discipleship found in today’s Key Verse.

The disciples were seeking glory and power. They were arguing over who would be the greatest in the new Kingdom… except that they thought that the new kingdom included Jesus overthrowing the government and becoming King over a new, powerful Israel.

But instead, Jesus suffered and died – and ushered in a Kingdom whose currency was humility and servanthood.

I know a lady. She would never be considered young. She has two daughters in college. She supports her family by working in my daughter’s school as a teacher’s aid. She also volunteers at her church to work with special needs kids. This woman takes care of my disabled daughter at school. Her job is to help her… with everything. She helps her write. She makes sure she eats her school lunch. She wheels her through the school halls. She hugs her and teaches her to read.

This woman is more valuable in God’s Kingdom than ten presidents. Our world doesn’t place much value on weakness… But Jesus does. Jesus essentially says, if you want to be great in my Kingdom… take on lowly tasks that don’t get much fanfare – like caring for people with little status in this world… care for the homeless, the incarcerated, the elderly, the widow, the single mother, the victim of sex trafficking – or the disabled child.

Jesus doesn’t want your status. He doesn’t care about your title. He wants humility. He wants your sacrificial service.

Day 61: Setting the Stage

Numbers 25-27; Mark 8:22-30

Key Verses

Numbers 27:15-17
Moses spoke to the Lord, saying, “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.”

Mark 8:29
And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

The people are at Shittim – the last stop before they cross the Jordan into Jericho. Except for a major hiccup in Chapter 25 where Israel was “whoring with the daughters of Moab,” the rest of the book of Numbers outlines how God prepares the people to enter the land…

  • First, another census was taken to count how many men could go to war… but also to determine the size of the land inheritance. The larger the tribe, the larger the land allotment (Num. 26).
  • Second, Moses asked for a successor to lead the people, since he was not allowed to cross the Jordan into Canaan. Joshua was named Moses’ successor (Num. 27).
  • And finally, in the remainder of the book of Numbers, Moses summarized the law (Num. 28-30), defined the borders of Canaan (Num. 34) and introduced cities of refuge (Num. 35).

For the next few days, I want to turn our focus to Mark, mainly because the upcoming chapters in Mark are my absolute favorite :)

This section of Mark (8:22 – end of chapter 10) begin and end with Jesus healing a blind man. This is significant! Because within these few chapters, we see a pattern emerge that vividly illustrates the disciples’ blindness.

This pattern begins in the last verses of Chapter 8.

  • First, Jesus predicts his death (vs 31-32).
  • Secondly, the disciples show (in some way) that they do not accept or believe that Jesus will die (vs. 32-33), and
  • Third, Jesus gives a profound lesson in discipleship (vs. 34-38).

We see this same sequence of events occur three times (in different contexts) over the next 2 1/2 chapters. Repetition in Scripture is usually a sign of importance so we will concentrate on Jesus’ messages of discipleship over the next few days.

I apologize for today’s textbook-ish post, but we’ll dig deeper into this section of Mark tomorrow! Happy reading :)

Day 304: The gift of God’s presence

Psalms 23-242 Timothy 2

The Presence of God…think about what a profound gift this is. Both of today’s Psalms celebrate his Presence… Psalm 23 is the familiar Psalm of comfort – promising God’s presence to the individual. While Psalm 24 celebrates God’s presence among the people. It was probably sung as David led the people in worship when he brought the ark (the symbol of God’s presence) back to Jerusalem.

Experiencing God’s presence both individually and corporately is one of the greatest gifts given to the Christian on this earth. Paul must have rested in the sure presence of his God as he waited to be executed…chained as a prisoner in Rome.

Paul’s circumstances elevate the urgency of his words to his beloved Timothy. We are given the privilege of listening to this intimate exchange, and Paul’s final instructions to TImothy are powerful.

Paul gives Timothy the strategy for world evangelization:

what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).

This was Jesus’ strategy…focused discipleship resulting in spiritual multiplication. This is how Christianity spread over the whole earth – by entrusting the truth to faithful men (and women :)!

Paul had more to say to Timothy… He called Timothy to “share in the suffering of Christ” (2:3), to “Remember Jesus Christ” (2:8), and finally to handle the word of truth cautiously, increasing in kindness and not inciting quarrels (2:14-26).

These are profound instructions! …but impossible to accomplish without the constant presence of God in our lives.

It is the experience of His presence that affirms our salvation – that we are His. And encouraged by His preserving presence, we are given the strength to persevere… as good soldiers of Christ Jesus” (2 TImothy 2:3).

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).

Day 201: The Lord is Here

Ezekiel 47-48; Acts 18

Today, we come to the end of Ezekiel’s vision of a rebuilt and restored temple – and also to the end of the book!

We read of waters that trickle from the inner sanctuary and flow out of the temple forming a river with extraordinary life-giving properties. The vision continues with an idealized allotting of land to the 12 tribes – including land for the Prince, Levites and common ground for food to be harvested for the workers of the city.

The vision ends with the gates of the city described… One gate for each son of Jacob. It points forward to the imagery used to describe the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21:12-14.

In a most striking ending, Ezekiel reveals the name of this city – located just south of the rebuilt temple… Its name is “The Lord is There.” This name summarizes the entire emphasis of Ezekiel… The first half of the book described Judah’s gross sin which led to God leaving the temple and his people. The second half is filled with promises of restoration culminating in this final temple vision describing how God’s glory will return to the rebuilt temple.

This is all wonderful, but it hasn’t happened yet! We know and trust that God will dwell with His people forever in the new Jerusalem. But what about now? Where is God now?

Well… we see evidence of His sovereignty and Presence in today’s reading from Acts…

From leading Paul to stay in Corinth – to multiplying Paul’s ministry into Priscilla and Aquila – who then teach and train the effective minister, Apollos… God’s Spirit is at work. God is at work leading and building, equipping and empowering. The Corinthian and Ephesian churches experienced the power of His presence. His Spirit lived in them, and His Spirit lives in us.

Where is He now? The Lord is here!

Day 105: David’s heart

1 Samuel 15-17; Luke 14:25-35

Saul… He had the audacity to use religious duty as an excuse to disobey God’s word – and we learn from vs. 15:30 that Saul’s first priority was to have honor in the people’s eyes.

So… God sends Samuel to anoint a new king – and this time, we gain insight into how God chooses.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

We see the valor of David’s heart as he faces Goliath in Chapter 17, but more importantly we see his trust in God! David was also equipped with the Spirit. We read in Chapter 16 (vs. 13-14) that after David was anointed by Samuel, God’s Spirit departed from Saul and rushed upon David. This Spirit was not associated with salvation (as in the New Testament) but rather the Spirit was an Equip-per – helping God’s chosen leader to accomplish his kingly purpose.

We too, have been given a royal purpose…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2.9).

Jesus reminds us in today’s reading that discipleship requires whole-hearted commitment. But we have also been given the Equip-per – the Holy Spirit – to help us accomplish this high calling.

So I ask… Are our hearts more like the self-serving Saul? Or more like the valiant David? I hope neither!!! I hope for my heart to be like Jesus! I think David would agree ;)

Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness (Psalm 26:2-3; of David).