Friday, June 22, 2018

Day 173 - Before Him, in Love!

Today's Reading: 2 Chron. 10-12 and Eph. 1

Today we start the book of Ephesians which has some of my favorite verses... I love this passage from today's reading:

"According as He hath chosen us in Him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame, before Him in love." (Eph. 1:4)

To think that He chose us before the foundation of the world. Before the foundation of the world He knew we would fall, and yet He still chose us and loved us, and pledged to give His life for us. As a result, we are to be holy and without blame, before Him in love...

What does it mean when you are IN LOVE? I know what it means for me... (at least in a small way!). It means I want to be around that person as much as possible. We don't have to always talk, but just to be together, in the same room, in each other's presence is so comforting. It means I love the sound of their voice. It means that I love talking and learning what means the most in the depth of their hearts. It means I share my heart with them as well. When I am "in love," it means someone has captured my heart and my thoughts. As a result, I'm often thinking about that person as soon as I wake up and often my last thoughts are of them before I go to sleep. I want to know as much about that person as I possibly can. I study how to make that person happy. I want to serve that person and bring joy to their lives. And they in turn bring such joy to my heart...

Love is not just a feeling of course ... it's so much more. It's a sanctified choice of the will, as Inspiration tells us. I love the following passage!
"True love is not a strong, fiery, impetuous passion. On the contrary, it is calm and deep in its nature. It looks beyond mere externals, and is attracted by qualities alone. It is wise and discriminating, and its devotion is real and abiding. 
Love, lifted out of the realm of passion and impulse, becomes spiritualized, and is revealed in words and acts. A Christian must have a sanctified tenderness and love in which there is no impatience or fretfulness; the rude, harsh manners must be softened by the grace of Christ." (Adventist Home, p. 51)
As I think about what it means to love someone here on earth, I think many of the same principles apply in our relationship with God... and that is my prayer today. That I will not be distracted by the many voices around me, but that I will stand before my God, in Love! That it will be HIS face I most desire to see, His voice I most desire to hear. That I will long to always be in His presence and make it my life study how to make Him happy and bring joy to His heart...

Oh Lord, teach me what it means to BE in LOVE before Your throne!

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Chron. 13-15 and Eph. 2 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Day 172 - Precious Shall be Their Blood

Today's Reading: 2 Chron. 8-9 and Ps. 72

In 2 Chronicles we are again reviewing Solomon's growing kingdom, his increasing wealth and influence (ships coming with gifts from the kings of Tarshish), and how all the king's of the earth sought his presence. I think it's interesting how today's reading in Psalms 72 parallels, for it is a prayer for Solomon. It even shares the very prophecy of how the king's of Tarshish will him gifts, and all the kings of the earth will fall down before Solomon. (Wow! I'm not sure how these correlating readings aligned up so perfectly, except by the power of the Holy Spirit!)

However, in Psalm 72, I also see pictures of Christ: "For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and the needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. (Sound familiar?) He shall redeem their soul from edit and violence: and precious shall be their blood in his sight."

This last passage really struck home with me today as I'm currently finishing a few days in Rome, and we've been looking at the Roman Coliseum where thousands of Christians have been martyred, the prison where Peter and Paul spent their final days before their execution, and other very sobering historical sites for early martyrs and Christianity. A lot of tragic things happened here in Rome, and yet we know that "precious is their blood in HIS sight." Someday, He will reverse the wrong and reward those who spilled their blood for His Kingdom. (Photo to left, dungeon where Paul and Peter spent final days. Paul wrote 2nd Timothy from here!)

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Chron. 10-12 and Ephesians 1

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Day 171 - Our only Glory is in the Cross!

Today's Reading: 2 Chron. 6-7 and Galatians 6

There are some very significant things in today's reading, both in 2 Chronicles and in Galatians. In 2 Chronicles 6-7, we see King Solomon's beautiful prayer of dedication for the temple and God's response by fire. We also see God's promise of 2 Chron. 7:14 that says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." What a powerful promise, and one we desperately need to be praying and seeking today.

However, this morning I'm going to comment on Galatians 6:14. Here Paul says, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

What have we to glory in EXCEPT the cross?! Nothing! This is where everything centers, on Christ and what He has done....

I love the following thought from Acts of the Apostles:
"Christ’s death proves God’s great love for man. It is our pledge of salvation. To remove the cross from the Christian would be like blotting the sun from the sky. The cross brings us near to God, reconciling us to Him. With the relenting compassion of a father’s love, Jehovah looks upon the suffering that His Son endured in order to save the race from eternal death, and accepts us in the Beloved.  
Without the cross, man could have no union with the Father. On it depends our every hope. From it shines the light of the Saviour’s love, and when at the foot of the cross the sinner looks up to the One who died to save him, he may rejoice with fullness of joy, for his sins are pardoned. Kneeling in faith at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain.  
Through the cross we learn that the heavenly Father loves us with a love that is infinite. Can we wonder that Paul exclaimed, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”? Galatians 6:14. It is our privilege also to glory in the cross, our privilege to give ourselves wholly to Him who gave Himself for us. Then, with the light that streams from Calvary shining in our faces, we may go forth to reveal this light to those in darkness." (Acts of the Apostles, p. 209-210).
I love this passage. Kneeling in faith at the cross, we reach the highest place which we can attain! Wow!

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Chron. 8-9 and Psalm 72

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Day 170 - Let's Tame that Tongue!

Today's Reading: 2 Chron. 3-5 and Galatians 5

In today's reading, I enjoyed looking again at the story of 2 Chronicles 5 as Solomon dedicates the temple to God and how God's glory fills the temple as they praise His name...

However, for today's take-away thought, I'm going to focus specifically on a thought from Galatians 5. Galatians 5:22 is a very well known passage as it talks about the fruit of the Spirit:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

However, it's what comes before Galatians 5:22 that really jumped out at me today... it's Gal. 5:15, "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."

Obviously those in Galatia had a problem with biting one another... probably not with their actual teeth, but with their bitter and hurtful words! Ouch!

Here's the background on why Paul thought it necessary to give these surprising words, followed by the appeal to have the fruit of the spirit:
False teachers had brought to the Galatians doctrines that were opposed to the gospel of Christ. Paul sought to expose and correct these errors. He greatly desired that the false teachers might be separated from the church, but their influence had affected so many of the believers that it seemed hazardous to take action against them. There was danger of causing strife and division which would be ruinous to the spiritual interests of the church. He therefore sought to impress upon his brethren the importance of trying to help one another in love. He declared that all the requirements of the law setting forth our duty to our fellow men are fulfilled in love to one another. He warned them that if they indulged hatred and strife, dividing into parties, and like the brutes biting and devouring one another, they would bring upon themselves present unhappiness and future ruin. There was but one way to prevent these terrible evils and that was, as the apostle enjoined upon them, to “walk in the Spirit.” They must by constant prayer seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which would lead them to love and unity.  
A house divided against itself cannot stand. When Christians contend, Satan comes in to take control. How often has he succeeded in destroying the peace and harmony of churches. What fierce controversies, what bitterness, what hatred, has a very little matter started! What hopes have been blasted, how many families have been rent asunder by discord and contention! (5th Testimonies, p.  243-244)
I don't think we as Christians really recognize the power of our words and actions, and the fires and destruction that often results by the unChristlike ways we live and act, WHILE PROFESSING TO BE CHRISTIANS! The problem the Church of Galatia had happening was not unique to their day. It's a very real issue today as well. It's an issue that is causing many people to leave the church...

I'm reminded of James 3:5-8: "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."

No man can tame the tongue the Bible says... but... let me remind us all, God can! That's why we need to pray for Him to give us victory in this area of our lives...

Oh Lord, help us to speak in love and act in humility. Even if we disagree with others, we don't have to be disagreeable. We don't have to bite and devour one another... Dear heavenly Father, change our hearts. Give us a new heart from which good things will flow. This spirit is of pride and contention that is so often seen even in our church today is NOT from God but from the enemy. Teach us what it means to guard our tongue. Teach us what it means to be vegetarians in our speech and love!  

[Greetings from Rome Italy! Just arrived last night. So excited to be here in Rome to begin the Reformation tour with Weimar College group! We will be here in Rome three days I think, and then begin our journey on thru Italy, France, Switzerland, and end with Germany. It's a two week tour. I've wanted to do this tour for years, so I'm so thrilled that God worked it out for me to join this year.]

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Chron. 6-7 and Galatians 6

Monday, June 18, 2018

Day 169 - The Difference btw a Calling and a Job!

Todays Reading: 2 Chron. 1-2 and Galatians 4

In today's reading, we look back again at the early part of Solomon's reign, as he was preparing to build the temple for the Lord. 

He was humble and he recognized that his work was really not adequate for the King of the universe. I love the following passage:

“The house I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? Who am I then, that I should build him a house, save only to burn sacrifices before him?” 2 Chron. 2:5-6

However as Solomon set out to do the work, we see that his faith faltered, and instead of seeking God for wisdom in finding consecrated workers, he sent to the king of Tyre (a king of the world) for a man skillful in working with brass and gold.... He sought worldly talent rather than consecrated talent. The king of Tyre responded by sending a man named Huram.

Ellen White writes about the sobering result of this choice in a section titled, "The difference btw a calling and a job." What powerful lessons this story has for our lives today:
Thus at the head of Solomon’s company of workmen there was placed a man whose efforts were not prompted by an unselfish desire to render service to God. He served the god of this world, mammon. The very fibers of his being were inwrought with the principles of selfishness. 
Because of his unusual skill, Huram demanded large wages. Gradually the wrong principles that he cherished came to be accepted by his associates. As they labored with him day after day, they yielded to the inclination to compare his wages with their own, and they began to lose sight of the holy character of their work. The spirit of self-denial left them, and in its place came the spirit of covetousness. The result was a demand for higher wages, which was granted.  
The baleful influences thus set in operation permeated all branches of the Lord’s service, and extended throughout the kingdom. The high wages demanded and received gave to many an opportunity to indulge in luxury and extravagance. The poor were oppressed by the rich; the spirit of self-sacrifice was well-nigh lost. In the far-reaching effects of these influences may be traced one of the principal causes of the terrible apostasy of him who once was numbered among the wisest of mortals.  
The sharp contrast between the spirit and motives of the people building the wilderness tabernacle, and of those engaged in erecting Solomon’s temple, has a lesson of deep significance. The self-seeking that characterized the workers on the temple finds its counterpart today in the selfishness that rules in the world. The spirit of covetousness, of seeking for the highest position and the highest wage, is rife. The willing service and joyous self-denial of the tabernacle workers is seldom met with. But this is the only spirit that should actuate the followers of Jesus. Our divine Master has given an example of how His disciples are to work. To those whom He bade, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), He offered no stated sum as a reward for their services. They were to share with Him in self-denial and sacrifice. 
Not for the wages we receive are we to labor. The motive that prompts us to work for God should have in it nothing akin to self-serving. Unselfish devotion and a spirit of sacrifice have always been and always will be the first requisite of acceptable service. Our Lord and Master designs that not one thread of selfishness shall be woven into His work. Into our efforts we are to bring the tact and skill, the exactitude and wisdom, that the God of perfection required of the builders of the earthly tabernacle; yet in all our labors we are to remember that the greatest talents or the most splendid services are acceptable only when self is laid upon the altar, a living, consuming sacrifice. (Prophets and Kings, p. 63-65)
Wow! Like I said, such lessons for us today! Of course, we all need money to pay our bills and live (so I'm not suggesting we all work for no pay), but I think it's important to ask ourselves (if working in ministry), "Is this work I'm doing truly God's calling in my life? Would I want to do this in my spare time even if I received no paycheck? Or am what I doing in the church or ministry just a job? Just a way to pay the bills?" The answer to these questions might reveal where our true motives lie and where our heart is? Personally, I know that there's no greater joy than knowing you are actually living out God's calling for your life! And I believe this is what God is looking for among His workers... consecrated workers who give their all for His cause. Reading this chapter and corresponding thoughts has really reinforced this in my mind this morning. Are we following a calling or just doing a job?

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Chron. 3-5 and Galatians 5

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Day 168 - I am Poor and Needy!

Today's Reading: 1 Chron. 28-29 and Psalm 70-71

Today's reading in 1 Chronicles talked about David's preparations for the temple and his appeal to Israel (and to Solomon) to dedicate resources to the temple and to serve God with all their hearts. As a result, the people gave willingly. It's a beautiful testimony followed by a beautiful prayer of praise to God.

On the other hand, the reading in Psalms goes back in history and bit and shares David's appeal to God in his great need as he was running from Saul. And this is what jumped out at me most today... HIS GREAT NEED!

Perhaps I sound like a broken record as I've probably talked about this before in my daily blogging, and I talk about it all the time when I present and speak. But David's cry to God was really the secret to his success. His prayer was, "I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and deliverer..." (Ps. 70:5)

It is always at our point of GREAT NEED that God meets us! He can meet us no other place. When we think we are doing okay, when we think we are strong, He cannot help us... but when we cry to Him in our great need, that is when He reaches down from heaven to strengthen us and to meet our need. It is always with the broken and contrite hearts that He will dwell... (Ps. 57:15)

I love the following thoughts from Ellen White. They give me such courage, and I'm in need of this courage even today as I struggle to encompass all that is before me as I prepare for yet another trip...
"Grace is an attribute of God exercised toward undeserving human beings. We did not seek for it, but it was sent in search of us. God rejoices to bestow His grace upon us, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Our only claim to His mercy is our great need." (Ministry of Healing, p. 161) 
"From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells." (Desire of Ages, p. 300)
Are we poor and needy today? If so... God is here, ready to assist us! I love the quote from Oswald Chambers. "When we choose deliberately to obey God, then, He will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us with all His almighty power.”

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Chron. 1-2 and Galatians 4

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Day 167 - Looking in the Mirror!

Today's Reading: 1 Chron. 24-27 and Galatians 3

In today's reading of Galatians we are reminded that the law is not what saves us, but it is actually our "school-master" which shows us our great need. Ellen White compares the law to a looking glass in which we see our true selves!

"If you were temperate in all things, you would see in the requirements of God a moral looking glass. When you looked into it, you would see your defects, and you would not go away, as you have repeatedly done, to forget what manner of man was there revealed. It would act as a school master to bring you to Christ, the sin-pardoning Savior." (Letter 17, 1895)

In another place she writes:

"The law of which the Israelites boasted so proudly must be carried out in the practical life. Then it can demonstrate its perfection by converting the soul. It proves to be the school master which leads souls to acknowledge Christ as the only remedy for sin. But when in self-righteousness a man is satisfied with his own standard of righteousness, he seeks to escape and evade the yoke of Christ. He does not desire by willing obedience to learn the Saviour’s meekness and lowliness. Cold, proud, loveless, the heart feels need of nothing." (Manuscript 138-1899.10)

It's actually quite discouraging (at least for myself) when I look at God's law and standard and see how far away I still am... but I take comfort in the following thoughts, also from the pen of Inspiration:

"The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer, and your imperfections will be seen in distinct contrast with his perfect character. Be not discouraged; this is an evidence that Satan’s delusions are losing their power, that the vivifying influence of the Spirit of God is arousing you, and that your indifference and ignorance are passing away. Whatever may have been your past experience, however discouraging may be your present circumstances, if you will come to Jesus just as you are, weak, helpless, and despairing, our compassionate Savior will meet you a great way off, and will throw about you his arms of love and his robe of righteousness." (Bible Echo December 1, 1892, par. 5)

As I've heard one preacher say, "For every look at yourself, gaze even longer at Christ!" 

Praise God for the HOPE we have in Him!

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron. 28-29 and Ps. 70-71

Friday, June 15, 2018

Day 166 - Sometimes our plans fail that God's plans will Succeed!

Today's Reading: 1 Chron. 22-23 and Galatians 2

In today's reading, we find David giving instruction to his son Solomon about building the temple. David even begins to make preparations for the building of the temple, but tells Solomon, "It's not God's purpose for me to build the temple... you must perform this task."

In the margin of my Bible, I find this beautiful thought from Inspiration in reference to this story:
Our plans are not always God’s plans. He may see that it is best for us and for His cause to refuse our very best intentions, as He did in the case of David. But of one thing we may be assured, He will bless and use in the advancement of His cause those who sincerely devote themselves and all they have to His glory. If He sees it best not to grant their desires He will counterbalance the refusal by giving them tokens of His love and entrusting to them another service.  
In His loving care and interest for us, often He who understands us better than we understand ourselves refuses to permit us selfishly to seek the gratification of our own ambition. He does not permit us to pass by the homely but sacred duties that lie next us. Often these duties afford the very training essential to prepare us for a higher work. Often our plans fail that God’s plans for us may succeed. 
We are never called upon to make a real sacrifice for God. Many things He asks us to yield to Him, but in doing this we are but giving up that which hinders us in the heavenward way. Even when called upon to surrender those things which in themselves are good, we may be sure that God is thus working out for us some higher good. 
In the future life the mysteries that here have annoyed and disappointed us will be made plain. We shall see that our seemingly unanswered prayers and disappointed hopes have been among our greatest blessings. (Ministry of Healing, p. 473, 474)
Yes, often our plans fail that God's plans may succeed. This is hard to take, but if we could only understand that God knows what He's doing, and His plans truly are best! In the future life it will all make sense.

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron. 24-27 and Galatians 3

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Day 165 - David's Sin in Numbering Israel

Today's Reading 1 Chron. 19-21 and Ps. 69

Today we read how David, tempted by Satan, decides to take a census of Israel. In other words, he wants to know JUST HOW STRONG his nation of rule is. But this was a sin. Even Joab, captain of his host, knew this was a sin and he told David so.

"And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?" (1 Chron 21:3)

But David persisted. Patriarchs and Prophets states: "It was pride and ambition that prompted this action of the king... This would tend still further to foster the already too great self-confidence of both king and people... the prosperity of Israel under David had been due to the blessing of God rather than the ability of her king or the strength of her armies." (p. 747)

As a result of David's sin... God sent a great pestilence against Israel, killing over 70,000 men. Wow! This was a serious offense to God...

I think we often make the same mistake today. We feel God is calling us to some task, and instead of recognizing the unlimited resources and strength that God offers us in Himself, we think: "Well, let me do some calculation. Is my army strong enough for the task? Do I have enough resources to expend for this endeavor? Am I big enough to take on this operation?" We forget that it is God that supplies unlimited strength and it is He alone that will give us victory and success. 

I'm thinking this morning of one of my favorite quotes:
All who consecrate soul, body, and spirit to God will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical and mental power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through co-operation with Christ they are complete in Him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence. (Desire of Ages, p. 827)
Instead of looking at our limited strength or resources, let's keep our eyes on our King who offers us the inexhaustible supplies of heaven.

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron. 22-23 and Gal. 2

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Day 164 - Letting God Choose Our Work

Today's Reading: 1 Chron. 17-18 and Galatians 1

In today's reading of Chronicles, we find David eager to build God a temple. Afterall, David says, "I live in a house of cedars, but the Ark of the Covenant remains under curtains. This is not right."

David's desire was a noble desire.... However, it was not in God's purpose that David build a temple. His hands had been employed in too much blood shed. So God ordained that Solomon, David's son, should be the one to build the temple. While this refusal of the Lord was disappointing to David, he received it with humility.

Here's what Inspiration says about this incident. It sums things up very nicely!
Though the cherished purpose of his heart had been denied, David received the message with gratitude. “Who am I, O Lord God?” he exclaimed, “and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in Thy sight, O Lord God; but Thou hast spoken also of Thy servant’s house for a great while to come;” and he then renewed his covenant with God.  
David knew that it would be an honor to his name and would bring glory to his government to perform the work that he had purposed in his heart to do, but he was ready to submit his will to the will of God. The grateful resignation thus manifested is rarely seen, even among Christians. How often do those who have passed the strength of manhood cling to the hope of accomplishing some great work upon which their hearts are set, but which they are unfitted to perform! God’s providence may speak to them, as did His prophet to David, declaring that the work which they so much desire is not committed to them. It is theirs to prepare the way for another to accomplish it. But instead of gratefully submitting to the divine direction, many fall back as if slighted and rejected, feeling that if they cannot do the one thing which they desire to do, they will do nothing. Many cling with desperate energy to responsibilities which they are incapable of bearing, and vainly endeavor to accomplish a work for which they are insufficient, while that which they might do, lies neglected. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 712)
What a lesson for all of us today, when God says no to some cherished desire or plan of our heart. Like David, we need to allow God to choose our work, and accept His will in humility.

[Personal note: Safely home with family in Arkansas... at least for a few days! So good to be home. Mom is doing well for the most part, and we praise the Lord for His loving watchcare in our lives!]

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron. 19-21 and Ps. 69

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Day 163 - Great is the Lord, and Greatly to be Praised! I'm going Home!

Today's Reading:  1 Chron. 15-16 and 2 Cor. 13

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, because this morning I am on my way home! Praise the Lord. After 6 weeks of travel, I'm on my way to Arkansas to be with my family for a few days... God is good! So many reasons to praise His name.

I'm at the airport currently, just now reading my Bible as we had an early morning departure. I love 1 Chronicles 16 as it details the joy of King David bringing the ark back to Jerusalem. I love how he and his household sanctified themselves (cleansed themselves) before attempting this sacred task. They recognized the reverence and awe with which they needed to perform this sacred task.

Then I love how he clothed himself in a linen ephod... like the priest wore. Not because he assumed to take the position of a priest, but because he was humbling himself... Inspiration says the following:
"The king had laid aside his royal robes and had attired himself in a plain linen ephod, such as was worn by the priests. He did not by this act signify that he assumed priestly functions, for the ephod was sometimes worn by others besides the priests. But in this holy service he would take his place as, before God, on an equality with his subjects. Upon that day Jehovah was to be adored. He was to be the sole object of reverence." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 706)
I also love being reminded of the joy of praises that came from his lips!

"Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; she forth from day to day his salvation. Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvelous works among all nations. For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." (1 Chron. 16:23-29)

And the praises just go on! Oh if we all would embrace such praise... Again EGW writes, " If more praising of God were engaged in now, hope and courage and faith would steadily increase. And would not this strengthen the hands of the valiant soldiers who today are standing in defense of the truth." (Prophets and Kings, p. 202)

I'm just now preparing to board my plane and will enjoy continuing to meditate on these verses as I begin my flight home...

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron. 17-18 and Galatians 1

Monday, June 11, 2018

Day 162 - Are we Balanced Christians?

Today's Reading: 1 Chron. 11-14 and 2 Cor. 12

In these chapters we are reading again about how David became king, and also about his mighty men.

I thought it was interesting in 1 Chron. 12:2 where, describing some of the men who helped David become king, it says that they could efficiently use BOTH their right hand and their left hand.

The Bible says, "They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin." In other words, they were fighting quite effectively with BOTH hands.

This may seem a bit inconsequential, but since the Bible emphasizes it, I think it's significant. And obviously, by the emphasis on this talent, it was NOT something that everyone could do. And it's not something that everyone can do today. In general, people are either right handed or left handed....they aren't equally good with both hands. 

However, I've heard it said that those that are stronger in the right hand tend to be stronger with "left-brain" characteristics, and I've also heard it said that only "left-hand" people are in their right mind. (Of course that's a joke!)

Anyway....For example, a person who is "left-brained" (or right handed) is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective. While a person who is "right-brained" (left handed) is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. Whether this is myth or reality (I'm not sure), but as I was reading the verse above in today's Bible passage, it made me think about how much more effective we would be as God's people if we would be balanced Christians using all that God has given us efficiently. In other words, we need to fight our spiritual warfare not just with our right hands or our logic... but we need to also fight this spiritual warfare with our left hand and with our thoughtful, initiative love and compassion which can only come from God ... In other words... I believe God is calling us (as these men who fought for David so long ago) to be balanced Christians. Balanced in our thinking, our working, our living, and even in fighting the spiritual battles. So often, we are a people of extremes... only strong in one area, but sadly weak in others. But what might God do, if we threw our whole might into the work for His glory, using a balanced set of strengths to reach the world.... serving the Lord with both our hands and ALL our heart! :-)

[Personal note: After an extremely busy month+ of traveling and ministry, and a very exhausting week here in California, I'm extremely tired... and right now my mind is a bit fuzzy, so hopefully the above makes sense. I'm probably not using both hands right now as efficiently as I should. But I hope my intended meaning in sharing comes across for those that read....]

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron. 15-16 and 2 Cor. 13

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Day 161 - God sets the Solitary in Families!

Today's Reading: 1 Chron. 7-10 and Ps. 68

For my brief comments today, I'm just going to say I appreciated the reminders of God's tender compassionate love for the lonely and apparently forsaken.

I love these passages in Psalms 68: "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains." (Ps. 68:5-6)

I've heard many reference this passage as saying that God creates physical families... in other words, if you are an orphan He gives you parents, if you are widow or single, He brings you companionship.  That may be the case, but beyond this, I see these passages saying that the fatherless, the widows, the solitary (or those alone), find God to be all-sufficient for them. He provides their home. HE IS THEIR HOME!

The following comments I read in the Bible commentary. I find these thoughts of great encouragement to those of us that live alone.
The word rendered solitary means properly one alone, as an only child; Gen 22:2, Gen 22:12, Gen 22:16; and then it means alone, solitary, wretched, forsaken. See the notes at Psa 22:20. The word rendered “families” would be more literally and better translated as in the margin, houses. The idea then is, not that he constitutes families of those who were solitary and alone, but that to those who are alone in the world - who seem to have no friends - who are destitute, wretched, forsaken, he gives comfortable dwellings. Thus the idea is carried out which is expressed in the previous verse. God is the friend of the orphan and the widow; and, in like manner, he is the friend of the cast out - the wandering - the homeless; - he provides for them a home. The meaning is, that he is benevolent and kind, and that they who have no other friend may find a friend in God. 
What an encouragement. We have a friend in God! He looks after those who are alone, who seem forsaken or perhaps homeless in the worlds eyes! He is our home!

[I just realized that I accidentally missed a days worth of blogging -- June 8th. I have notes in my journal, but I did not blog online and thus, so this should be my Bible notes for June 10. Sorry about the mixup! So go back and catch up on June 8th, which I never blogged!]

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Cor. 11-12, and 2 Cor. 12

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Day 160 - New Lessons from the Story of Jabez!

Today's Reading: 1 Chron. 4-6 and 2 Cor. 11

Tucked neatly in between the genealogy of Judah's descendants, I find the story of Jabez. Now plenty has already been said (entire books written) regarding the unique prayer of Jabez, so there's really not any need for any additional comments about his prayer. But as I reflect on this story in today's readings, I see some new lessons we can learn from the sorrow surrounding his birth.

Obviously, we don't know anything of Jabez history besides what is communicated in two short verses of Scripture. We know that he was birthed in sorrow, and that's why he was given the name Jabez. And we know that he was more honorable than his brothers. We don't know why they were less honorable. Nothing is mentioned of them. We only know he was MORE honorable, probably because of his great faith and pursuit of God.

But why was Jabez birthed in sorrow... and how did he succeed in becoming a man who could pray a prayer that would challenge us even to this day?

Of course, we do not know the reasons why Jabez mother was sorrowful...  But it's obvious that she did not see in his birth a reason to hope or to celebrate the future. And her wavering faith (in whatever her present circumstances) caused her to plant "sorrow" for his future. Tears were the only welcome gift given to her son as he came into the world. And yet, isn't it amazing how that which has been birthed in sorrow and baptized in tears God can turn to joy? But how often are we just like Jabez mother... how often are we ready to give the name of "Jabez" to difficult circumstances in our life, if we could but see that God is using those very circumstances for some greater purpose or some greater joy...

Unfortunately, we are all too often like Jabez' mother, allowing our fears and feelings rather than our faith to dictate our course and our future.

Sickness, we call it Jabez, though it may be sent to minister to our spiritual health.
Poverty, we call it Jabez, though coming to help us to the possession of heavenly riches.
Heartbreak, we call it Jabez, though designed to graft us more closely into the heart of God.
Discouragement, we call it Jabez, though intended to purge out the dross that we might experience greater heavenly joy.
Disappointment, we call it Jabez, though intended to release us of earthly desires that we might come to live God's dreams and His desires....

H. Melvill, B. D. writes: "Oh for a better judgment! or rather, oh for a simpler faith! We cannot, indeed, see the end from the beginning, and therefore cannot be sure that what rises in cloud will set in vermilion and gold; but we need not take upon ourselves to give the dark name, as though we could not be deceived in regard of the nature. Let us derive this lesson from the concise but striking narrative. Let us neither look confidently on what promises best, nor despairingly on what wears the most threatening appearance. God often wraps up the withered leaf of disappointment in the bright purple bud, and as often unfolds the golden flower of enjoyment in the nipped and blighted shoot. Experience is full of evidence that there is no depending on appearances. If, in a spirit of repining or unbelief, you brand as Jabez what may be but a blessing in disguise, no marvel if sometimes, in just anger and judgment, He allow the title to prove correct, and suffer not this Jabez, this child born in sorrow, to become to you as otherwise it might, more honorable more profitable than any of its brethren."

Thankfully, Jabez did not allow the forecast of sorrow to dictate his future, but he rose above the curse to test and prove the faithfulness of his God. What deep and profound lessons we can learn from this story. I pray these lessons speak to your heart today, just as they've spoken to mine. 

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron. 7-10 and Psalm 68

Friday, June 08, 2018

Day 159 - Willing to be Made Willing!

Today's Reading: 1 Chron. 1-3 and 2 Cor. 10

[This is a belated post that I journaled, but failed to post for June 8th! Somehow I got ahead of myself, and never posted my notes on this blog.]

I really loved the thoughts in 2 Cor. 10 that talk about taking our thoughts captive for Christ.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

In Acts of the Apostles, I read the following corresponding notes:
"God wishes us to have the mastery over ourselves. But He cannot help us without our consent and co-operation. The divine Spirit works through the powers and faculties given to man. Of ourselves, we are not able to bring the purposes and desires and inclinations into harmony with the will of God; but if we are “willing to be made willing,” the Saviour will accomplish this for us, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. (Acts of the Apostles, p. 482)
This is what I loved about this chapter... because this has been my experience so many times. "Lord, I  don't have the nature desire to do or think what you desire.....but I'm willing to be made willing!" To be honest, sometimes I have to tell God, "I don't want to do what you are asking, but I'm willing to be willing to be willing to be willing to be made willing..." (No joking!) And this is what I think is so beautiful. Because all God needs is our choice to be willing... And He will do in and through us what we cannot do. He will give us His thoughts, He will create in us that new mind and that new heart!

Promises I often claim are Jer. 24:7, Ezek. 36:26.

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron 4-6 and 2 Cor. 11

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Day 158 - Melody in our Hearts!

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 23-25 and Ps. 66-67

I love what the Bible says about King Josiah, another one of the few good kings that lived in the time of Israel:

"And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him." (2 Kings 23:25)

I was also impressed by a quote from Inspiration in the margin of my Bible in reference to Psalm 67:5-6. "Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our OWN GOD, shall bless us."

Referencing these verses, Ellen White writes:
"Those who dwell upon God’s great mercies, and are not unmindful of His lesser gifts, will put on the girdle of gladness and make melody in their hearts to the Lord. The daily blessings that we receive from the hand of God, and above all else the death of Jesus to bring happiness and heaven within our reach, should be a theme for constant gratitude. What compassion, what matchless love, has God shown to us, lost sinners, in connecting us with Himself, to be to Him a peculiar treasure! What a sacrifice has been made by our Redeemer, that we may be called children of God! We should praise God for the blessed hope held out before us in the great plan of redemption, we should praise Him for the heavenly inheritance and for His rich promises; praise Him that Jesus lives to intercede for us." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 289)
Beautiful inspiration for today! Are we cultivating a heart of constant gratitude?

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Chron. 1-3 and 2 Cor. 10

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Day 157 - God Loves a Cheerful Giver!

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 21, 22 and 2 Cor. 9 

Today I will mention briefly some thoughts from 2 Cor. 9 which focuses a lot on giving, and the motives behind giving.  I love verses 6-7:

"He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God liveth a cheerful giver."

In Christ Object Lessons we are told:
"Unselfish liberality threw the early church into a transport of joy; for the believers knew that their efforts were helping to send the gospel message to those in darkness. Their benevolence testified that they had not received the grace of God in vain. What could produce such liberality but the sanctification of the Spirit? In the eyes of believers and unbelievers it was a miracle of grace. 
Spiritual prosperity is closely bound up with Christian liberality. The followers of Christ should rejoice in the privilege of revealing in their lives the beneficence of their Redeemer. As they give to the Lord they have the assurance that their treasure is going before them to the heavenly courts. Would men make their property secure? Let them place it in the hands that bear the marks of the crucifixion. Would they enjoy their substance? Let them use it to bless the needy and suffering. Would they increase their possessions? Let them heed the divine injunction, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9, 10. Let them seek to retain their possessions for selfish purposes, and it will be to their eternal loss. But let their treasure be given to God, and from that moment it bears His inscription. It is sealed with His immutability." (Acts of the Apostles, p. 344)
Great lessons for us today!

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 23-25 and Ps. 66-67

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Day 156 - Spreading our Trials before the Lord!

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 19-20 and 2 Cor. 8

2 Kings 19 is literally another one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. I love the story, and how God defends His people.

Here in this story we see a pagan king and commanders scoffing against the power of God. In fact, Sennacherib sends messengers to King Hezekiah telling him, "Let not thy God in whom thou trusteth deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?" He goes on to mock the God of Israel, putting him in the realm of the other pagan gods. "Have the gods of the other nations delivered them? No! Don't expect your God to deliver you either!"

Well, we are told that when Hezekiah received this letter, he went up to the house of the Lord and spread the letter before the Lord. And this was his prayer:

"O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubim, thou art THE GOD, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only." (From 2 Kings 19:15-19)

And you know what, God heard Hezekiah's prayer! Hezekiah had been earnestly seeking the Lord by putting away sin in the camp, and when in distress, God answered... Fast forwarding the story we find that in one night the angel of the Lord came and killed 185,000 soldiers of the Assyria army when they came up against Jerusalem. So the scoffing king returned home with his tail between his legs, and a few days later, while worshiping his pagan god, he himself was murdered by his own sons.

Nothing is too big for our God! And while this story shares about a major victory for Israel, I think it can have very practical implications for our life now. When confronting with my own mountains, my own impossible situations, my own letters of fear, discouragement or difficulty, I have followed Hezekiah's example and spread those letters before the Lord. I too have seen God deliver and answer my cries time and time again! The same God that fought for Israel in King Hezekiah's day is still alive today! Praise the Lord!

[Personal note: In the final days of King Hezekiah, we see that he had visitors from Babylon. Hezekiah instead of talking of God's greatness showed them all his treasures. A few months ago, the Adventist Missions published an article about this story, putting it in the context of modesty for Christian women of today. I had never thought of this aspect before when looking at this story, but it fits really well. I talked about modesty this past week in my seminar at PYC, so for those PYC friends that are following this blog, here is the link to this very eye-opening article. 

By the way....when this blog post is posted on Tuesday morning Maryland time, I will already be partway across the ocean on my return back to the United States. In fact, while I leave the Philippines on June 5th, I'm also arriving in California on June 5th. I have the feeling this will be a very LOOOOOONG day, as we cross the International date line once again! The joys of international travel.... :-)]

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 21-22 and 2 Cor. 9

Monday, June 04, 2018

Day 155 - Good King Hezekiah Begins His Reign

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 17-18, and 2 Cor. 7

Today we find a breath of fresh air with the rise to power of the good king Hezekiah. I love the story of king Hezekiah and how he deals with the threatenings of Sennacherib and the armies of Assyria. But for this morning's reading, I'm just going to mention briefly why he was considered a "good king" set apart from those that had come before...

1 Kings 18:4 says clearly: "He removed the high places, and break in the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it."

Here's some comments from Inspiration on the changes that King Hezekiah sought to bring to the Kingdom. This is why he stands out in such contrast to many that came before him.
In sharp contrast with the reckless rule of Ahaz was the reformation wrought during the prosperous reign of his son. Hezekiah came to the throne determined to do all in his power to save Judah from the fate that was overtaking the northern kingdom. The messages of the prophets offered no encouragement to halfway measures. Only by most decided reformation could the threatened judgments be averted. 
In the crisis, Hezekiah proved to be a man of opportunity. No sooner had he ascended the throne than he began to plan and to execute. He first turned his attention to the restoration of the temple services, so long neglected; and in this work he earnestly solicited the co-operation of a band of priests and Levites who had remained true to their sacred calling. Confident of their loyal support, he spoke with them freely concerning his desire to institute immediate and far-reaching reforms. “Our fathers have trespassed,” he confessed, “and done that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken Him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord.” “Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.” 2 Chronicles 29:6, 10. (Prophets and Kings, p. 331)
Praise God for kings like Hezekiah who are willing to go against the norm and stand for God, who are willing to stand strong for God. Let's pray for more men and woman like Hezekiah today. Let's be this person who will call people back to the One true God!

[Personal notes: Philippines Youth for Christ has come to an end (sadly -- what a great conference PYC was), and I am now back in Manila. Early tomorrow I will be getting on my flight back to the states. But I'm not flying back to Maryland. Instead I'm flying to Ontario California where I'm going for our upcoming ARME Bible Camp that's taking place this week at Camp Cedar Falls, up in the mountains above Loma Linda. So, I'm looking forward to many more blessings in the week ahead. However, I'm quite exhausted and my big prayer is that God will give me strength to withstand the "jet lag whip-lash" that I will most likely experience because I have no down time to recover. ARME starts the next day after I arrive. Thankfully, I know that the Lord, who has sustained me these past weeks, will continue to give me just what I need as I go forward, so I cling to Him!]

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 19,20 and 2 Cor. 8

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Day 154 - The Danger of Idle Words!

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 15,16 and Ps. 64-65

As we continue reading through the Old Testament it seems like a broken record... good king, evil king, evil king and more evil king. So sad. And yet once in awhile we again find a king that seeks to serve God. Of course, God could have forced circumstances in Israel and Judah, but everyone has a choice who they will see and how they will live. Unfortunately, as we see in these chapters in Kings, most chose to live apart from God.

Today I'd like to comment on thoughts from Psalm 64 and 64. I was really convicted afresh about the importance of words and how we use them. The Bible talks about the fact that our words can be like arrows, used to destroy. Many words are like bitter arrows. But the Bible says God will make the bitter words turn upon themselves and wound themselves..

In Matthew we are told, "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matt. 12:36,37)

I also found it interesting in Psalm 65, we find how all creation lives and acts according to God's will. All nature sings God's praises. It's only man that says "No." It's only man that does his own thing...

In Christ Object Lessons, I read: "The material world is under God's control. The laws of nature are obeyed by nature. Everything speaks and acts the will of the Creator. Cloud and sunshine, dew and rain, wind and storm, all are under the supervision of God, and yield implicit obedience to His command. It is in obedience to the law of God the spirit of the grain bursts through the ground, "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn of the ear" (Mark 4:28). These the Lord develops in their proper season because they do not resist His working. And can it be that man, made in the image of God, endowed with reason and speech, shall alone be unappreciated of His gifts and disobedient to His will? Shall rational beings alone cause confusion in our world?" (Christ Object Lessons, p. 8,82)

Wow! May our tongue, but most importantly, our hearts, be surrendered to God's control! May we not waste idle words, but use our words for the building up of His kingdom! May we use our words to honor Him who gave us all that we need for salvation!

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 17-18 and 2 Cor. 7

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Day 153 - We Must Do Our Part!

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 13, 14 and 2 Cor. 6

In today's reading we find the incredible testimony of the dead man who was brought back to life when he was laid on Elisha's body. What a testimony for a man of God.

However, before Elisha died, while he was yet on his sick bed, King Joash (of Israel -- I think this is a different king then the child king)  comes to Elisha and weeps as recognizes his inability to fight against Syria. So the prophet does something interesting. He has the king shoot an arrow out a window eastward. Then he says, "The arrow of the Lord's deliverance." Then he told the king, "Take the arrows and smite upon the ground." The king took the arrows and hit the ground three times... but Elisha was upset. "You should have hit five times or six times, then you would have defeated Syria," he tells him.

This is what Inspiration has to say about this story, and about the final days before Elisha's death:
So effectual had been [Elisha's] ministry and so widespread his influence that, as he lay upon his deathbed, even the youthful King Josh, an idolater with but little respect for God, recognized in the prophet a father in Israel, and acknowledged that his presence among them was of more value in time of trouble than the possession of an army of horses and chariots. The record reads: “Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” 2 Kings 13:14.  
To many a troubled soul in need of help the prophet had acted the part of a wise, sympathetic father. And in this instance he turned not from the godless youth before him, so unworthy of the position of trust he was occupying, and yet so greatly in need of counsel. God in His providence was bringing to the king an opportunity to redeem the failures of the past and to place his kingdom on vantage ground. The Syrian foe, now occupying the territory east of the Jordan, was to be repulsed. Once more the power of God was to be manifested in behalf of erring Israel.  
The dying prophet bade the king, “Take bow and arrows.” Joash obeyed. Then the prophet said, “Put thine hand upon the bow.” Joash “put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands. And he said, Open the window eastward”—toward the cities beyond the Jordan in possession of the Syrians. The king having opened the latticed window, Elisha bade him shoot. As the arrow sped on its way, the prophet was inspired to say, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.” 
And now the prophet tested the faith of the king. Bidding Joash take up the arrows, he said, “Smite upon the ground.” Thrice the king smote the ground, and then he stayed his hand. “Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times,” Elisha exclaimed in dismay; “then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.” 2 Kings 13:15-19. 
The lesson is for all in positions of trust. When God opens the way for the accomplishment of a certain work and gives assurance of success, the chosen instrumentality must do all in his power to bring about the promised result. In proportion to the enthusiasm and perseverance with which the work is carried forward will be the success given. God can work miracles for His people only as they act their part with untiring energy. He calls for men of devotion to His work, men of moral courage, with ardent love for souls, and with a zeal that never flags. Such workers will find no task too arduous, no prospect too hopeless; they will labor on, undaunted, until apparent defeat is turned into glorious victory. Not even prison walls nor the martyr’s stake beyond, will cause them to swerve from their purpose of laboring together with God for the upbuilding of His kingdom.  
With the counsel and encouragement given Joash, the work of Elisha closed. He upon whom had fallen in full measure the spirit resting upon Elijah, had proved faithful to the end. Never had he wavered. Never had he lost his trust in the power of Omnipotence. Always, when the way before him seemed utterly closed, he had still advanced by faith, and God had honored his confidence and opened the way before him.  
It was not given Elisha to follow his master in a fiery chariot. Upon him the Lord permitted to come a lingering illness. During the long hours of human weakness and suffering his faith laid fast hold on the promises of God, and he beheld ever about him heavenly messengers of comfort and peace. As on the heights of Dothan he had seen the encircling hosts of heaven, the fiery chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof, so now he was conscious of the presence of sympathizing angels, and he was sustained. Throughout his life he had exercised strong faith, and as he had advanced in a knowledge of God’s providences and of His merciful kindness, faith had ripened into an abiding trust in his God, and when death called him he was ready to rest from his labors. (Prophets and Kings, p. 262, 263)
What an inspiring life Elisha lived, faithful to the end! We can learn so many lessons for our life today from his steadfast walk.

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 15,16 and Ps. 64,65

Friday, June 01, 2018

Day 152 - The Youngest King in Judah!

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 10-12 & 2 Cor. 5

I always loved the story of the child King Joash. I remember when I was young wanting my parents to read the story again and again. Thankfully, although only seven years old when he was made king, Joash had a god fearing  mentor, the man Jehoiada. And as a result he helped turn Judah back to the worship of the true God.

One of Joash's noble feats including restoring the breaches in the temple, in God's house. He put a collection basket outside the temple for people to put offerings in for rebuilding the breaches in the walls. As I read this "well loved story" again, I'm reminded about our need today. Today we also have breaches in God's church. Spiritual breaches, breaches of compromise and even breaches of sin. What if we as a people got on our knees, humbled our hearts and said, "Lord, we are ready to work together to rebuild Your house, and to restore the spiritual breaches." What might be accomplished in our church today? If a child king could make such a difference for the kingdom, what about us today?

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 13,14 and 2 Cor. 6

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Day 151 - In God's Divine Providence

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 8,9 and Ps. 62,63

I love seeing how God orchestrates things for His children, even the least of His children, through divine providences.

In 2 Kings 8 we read how there was a famine and the prophet Elisha tells the Shunammite woman (whose son that he had brought to life) that there was going to be a famine. So they left their home and went to the land of the Philistines during the seven years of famine. But then the famine was over and she returned home. But the problem was, the king had taken the land that people like herself had left behind. So she went to beg of the king that he would restore her land. But who was she to the king? Just a nobody, and he most likely would not listen. However, here is where the amazing divine providence of God came into the story. Before she arrives with her request, the king asks Gehazi, Elisha's servant to talk with him about the miracles of Elisha. So Gehazi complies. And he's telling the king about how Elisha raised a dead boy to life right when the Shunammite woman arrives to ask for her land back. "Oh king! Here is the woman whose dead son was raised back to life!" So the king questioned her. What perfect timing God has! ;-) Who could have orchestrated such an event?

As a result the king restored to her not only her land, but all the fruits of the field that had been reaped since she'd left the land... imagine getting not just your home back but like seven years of back pay as well! What generosity! But would this have happened if the king had not just heard about the miracle story of how Elisha had been used of God to restore her boy to life? Not likely!

God is good!

I loved the thoughts throughout Psalm 62 and 63 as well. We are encouraged to "pour out our heart" before God. Because He is our defense, our heart will not be moved. Our souls should follow HARD after God! Our expectation is from Him... what beautiful pictures of what a consecrated and yet ever thirsty Christian life should be... constantly seeking hard after God, constantly seeking for MORE of His filling!

What a blessing today's reading has been! (But I'm getting itching feet to come back and study some of these chapters in more detail. So many rich spiritual lessons here that I feel like I'm racing by on this reading marathon!)

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 10-12 and 2 Cor. 5

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Day 150 - The Wall of Fire!

Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 6,7 and 2 Cor. 4

I love the miracle stories of Elisha… but today I was reminded afresh of the “wall of fire” that God puts around His people.

The Syrian army has come to Dothan with the purpose of seizing Elisha. So they surround the city one night. The next morning, Elisha’s servant discovers they are surrounded. “Oh master, what are we going to do he cries.”

But Elisha is not worried. “Don’t be afraid! There are more with us than with them.”

Then the Lord opened the eyes of his servant and he  saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire. 

Ellen White writes: “God’s faithful praying ones are, as it were, shut in with Him. They themselves know not how securely they are shielded. Urged on by Satan, the rulers of this world are seeking to destroy them; but could the eyes of God’s people be opened, as were the eyes of Elisha’s servants at Dothan, they would see angels of God encamped about them, holding in check the hosts of darkness.” (Prophets and Kings, p. 590,591)

Elisha went on to command blindness upon the troops. Then he led them away! (What an amusing scene that must have been!) I loved the correlations that I saw in 2 Cor. 4.

We are told, “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Those that do not believe are blinded… just like that host of soldiers. They did not believe in God and their eyes were darkened.

But God wants to bring light… I love the promise that follows, for those that are seeking: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)

[Personal note: Having wonderful time at PYC! But it's a marathon... no down time... going constantly between talking and counseling young people and preparing for the next presentations to come (Doing four sessions in the first 2 days! Then last session Friday!) I've haven't been feeling the best and am coming down with a head cold it seems.... Running quite tired. Doesn't help that God has been waking me up at unearthly hours in the morning (like 2:30-3:00am every day). But I really needed the extra time to pray, and He's giving me strength and His blessing on the presentations. So I just praise His name. So many blessings! Over and over He keeps showing me, "It's about my strength, not yours, my wisdom, not yours, my power, not yours..." Internet is slow as molasses now ... It's become virtually impossible to post anything... So... that's why this blog post never went up this morning as planned! Upcoming blog posts may be posted late, as well, if I can't get them posted daily while here. So much for not missing a day... But that's the reality of life sometimes when you are in the mission field. If that were only the worst of my worries... ;-)]

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 8-9 and Ps. 62-63

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Day 149 - Oil is Given ~ According to our Capacity to Receive!

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 4,5 and 2 Cor. 3

Yesterday we were just reading about Elisha asking for a double portion of the Spirit! I love the stories and miracles in today's reading... I especially love the story of the widow who was about to lose her sons and came to Elisha for help.

His first question, "What do you have?" Well, she only had a pot of oil, but he told her, "Go borrow all the empty vessels you can, then close your door. Poor the oil until all the vessels are full.

She kept pouring and the oil never ran out...that is, until she ran out of empty vessels! And isn't it the same with us?

In Desire of Ages we are told: "Through the Spirit God works in His people “to will and to do of His good pleasure.” But many will not submit to this. They want to manage themselves. This is why they do not receive the heavenly gift. Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train. It is given according to the riches of the grace of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive. (p. 672)

In yesterday's reading, we saw how God sent water to fill the ditches of a land that was in drought. But what if those men hadn't believed that God was really going to do something. What if they dug only small ditches just to appease the crazy requests of a prophet. Then they would have had little water. The same with the oil pots.... She wished she had gathered MORE oil pots! So how is it with us today? What is our capacity! According to our capacity is what we will receive.

I'm praying that God will increase my capacity today!

[Personal note: Philippines Youth for Christ is off to a wonderful start! It's so inspiring to see so many hungry and eager young people, desperate for more of Him. This morning I will be giving the morning devotional/plenary and I'm going to be talking about the Beauty of Brokenness and recognizing our need... because only as we recognize our need can He fill us! Prayers appreciated. This is going to be a crazy week... and I still don't have all my seminar material together as there's been a lot of distractions, and so much has been going on and not as much time to prepare as I hoped.]

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 6-7 and 2 Cor. 4

Monday, May 28, 2018

Day 148 - A Double Portion Please!

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 1-3 and 2 Cor. 2

Today we see Elijah's final days before he was swept up in the chariot of fire.

I love how Elijah tries to shake his companion, Elisha off his trail, knowing that God is about to take him to heaven. But Elisha was not to be deterred. He was going to stay with Elijah until the very end.

Inspiration tells us:

"In his early labor of guiding the plow, Elisha had learned not to fail or to become discouraged, and now that he had set his hand to the plow in another line of duty he would not be diverted from his purpose. He would not be parted from his master, so long as opportunity remained for gaining a further fitting up for service. Unknown to Elijah, the revelation that he was to be translated had been made known to his disciples in the schools of the prophets, and in particular to Elisha. And now the tried servant of the man of God kept close beside him. As often as the invitation to turn back was given, his answer was, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” (Prophets and Kings, p. 225)

Finally Elijah asks, "What would you like me to do or you before I am taken away?"

Elisha wasted no time pondering this important question: "A double portion of your spirit! This is what I need!"

Wow! I love it! And what a request... like Solomon asking not for riches or wealth, but for wisdom! Elijah then tells him, "You've asked a hard thing. However, if you see me go, then that means God has answered your prayer."

Well, Elisha did see his master go, and if we read through the rest of the stories of Elisha's life, we find that God worked exactly TWICE the number of miracles in Elisha's life as He had in Elijah's (complete with what happened when the dead man was put on Elisha's bones and came back to life). So God answered this bold but humble prayer!

I believe this is what we need to be asking for today too... for MORE of the Holy Spirit. For when we have the Holy Spirit, we have all we need! 

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 4-5 and 2 Cor. 3

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Day 147 - The Rock that is Higher than I

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 22 and Ps. 60,61

In the final saga of King Ahab's story, we find him asking King Jehoshaphat (of Judah) to go to battle with him against Ramoth-gilead. So Jehoshaphat inquires of the prophets. But these prophets have been given a "lying spirit" and Jehoshaphat recognizes that. "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides these?" he asks...

"Well, yes there one... but I don't like him because he doesn't say good things about me!" Ahab reluctantly admits. Isn't this interesting. I think many people turn away from God and His Word because like Ahab, they don't want to be convicted of their sins, and they for sure don't want to repent. So since the Bible speaks the piercing truth (it's the two-edged sword that divides light from the darkness), they turn away and close their ears.

However, Jehoshaphat wants the true prophet. So they call this man, named Micaiah. As Micaiah is being brought, the messenger encourages him, "This is what the other prophets are saying. Let your word be like theirs, a good word." I love the prophets response, "As the Lord liveth, what the Lord says to me, that will I speak." Didn't Micaiah understand that his life was on the line and if he spoke the truth, Ahab might say, "Away with you?" Micaiah was willing to take that risk, and he suffered the consequences as a result. He prophesied that Israel would be scattered... and they were. And the wicked king Ahab died in the battle, and the dogs licked up his blood, just as God had said would happen.

In Psalms 60 and 61, we see the cry of David for Israel. "O God, thou has cast us off, thou has scattered us, O turn thyself to us again." Although coming from different time periods of the Kingdom, what an interesting parallel to what happened to Israel in the final days of King Ahab.

David continues his plea to the Lord, "Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man." (Ps. 60:12). But I can't stop here, for one of my favorite promises comes in the very next chapter, Ps. 61:2, "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

We may be overwhelmed with the day to day spiritual battle that we face, we may be overwhelmed by circumstances that seem to be going against us. It may seem that we live in a generation that has been scattered. But He is still our Rock. And if we turn to Him, continue to humble ourselves before His throne, He will not fail His people in their day of adversity. He will yet save His people and answer the prayers that David cried.

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Kings 1-3 and 2 Cor. 2

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Day 146 - God of the Mountains and the Valleys

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 20,21 and 2 Cor. 1

In today's Bible reading, this verse really struck me:

"And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD." (1 Kings 20:28)

So here we have Ahab who is king of Israel, one of the most provoking kings yet to stand in this office (the Bible says, "There was none like Ahab which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up"), and yet God had already allowed him to defeat the Syrian's once. And now He gives Ahab promises of blessings in battle again.

What is going on with the hills and the valleys... This was a little confusing to me, but at such time, commentaries can help bring some clarity. Here's some comments that I found enlightening:
"Ben-hadad is advised by those about him concerning the operations of the next campaign. They advised him to change his ground, 1Ki 20:23. They took it for granted that it was not Israel, but Israel's gods, that beat them, but they speak very ignorantly of Jehovah.... supposing him altogether such a one as their imaginary deities, they fancied he was confined to his hills, and could not or would not come down from them, and therefore an army in the valley would be below his cognizance and from under his protection. Thus vain were the Gentiles in their imaginations concerning God, so wretchedly were their foolish hearts darkened, and, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Matthew Henry Commentary)
The Syrians very quickly discovered Israel's God is not confined to the hills... He's equally capable on the valleys. Although Israel's army was like two little flocks of goats compared to the Syrians who filled the whole country (1 Kings 20:27), God blessed Israel and they again defeated the Syrians. In the battle, Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers. The Syrians who escaped tried to take up positions on the walls of the city of Aphek, but the walls collapsed, killing twenty-seven thousand of them. God indeed showed who was God!

However, as I was reading this story, I was also thinking of the personal application!

What is God to us? Is He only the God of the hills? There are times of heavenly bliss when we seem naturally to stand with God on the holy mountains. We have our Moriah, our Pisgah, our Tabor, our Hermon experiences. But is that all? No! God is with us in the valleys. When we descend into the valley of weeping (Psa 84:6), the valley of the shadow of death, the valley of obscurity and loneliness, the valley of conflict, we can say with the psalmist, “Thou art with me” (Psa 23:4). Most of us, perhaps, spend the larger part of life in the valleys, walking among commonplace duties, facing common place every day life, temptations and struggles. Let us see to it that in these shadowed days we walk in close companionship with our heavenly Friend, and that even in the valleys we can stand strong, knowing that God is standing with us. Then we can also say, as did Paul in 2 Cor 1:4, "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." (Some of these thoughts originated from the Believer's Bible, but I have edited and modified them to suit my thinking!)

I'm thankful that we serve the God of the mountains AND the valleys!

Tomorrow's Reading: 1 Kings 22, Ps. 60,61