This is a collection of devotions and thoughts prepared by various members of the family.

Partake in God's Wisdom

What a wonderful God we serve! Other so-called gods thrive on mystery and mystic powers, but the Lord desires for us to know Him and partake of His wisdom.

Reading in Proverbs 8 today, I found the discussion of wisdom. In verse 12, it says, "I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions."

Later, in verse 22, it begins to declare God's wisdom in Creation and beyond, "The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old."

Then, the chapter closes out by inviting us to partake in God's wisdom: "For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD."

God encourages us to be a part of His wisdom and plan! What an encouragement!

The Tragedy of Strength Without Humility

In II Chronicles 26, we find the story of the good King Uzziah, who began to reign when he was sixteen. He sought to honor the Lord, and did right and prospered with strong, Godly leadership.

With that strength, however, came pride. He thought that he had no limits. In his pride, he usurped the authority of the priest and burned incense in the Temple.

First, we see the mercy of God. The priests came and kindly corrected the King, explaining why he was wrong. They offered him a humble way out of the bad situation.

Next, we see the pride of the King. When corrected, he became very angry. Instead of repenting, he became hardened in his sin, and proceeded to knowingly do wrong.

Finally, we see the judgment of God. In the midst of his anger, God struck the King with leprosy.

Here is the saddest part: the great King who knew the great strength of the hand of God on his life became satisfied with leprosy. Instead of humbling himself, he let his son do his job as King, and died defeated. How sad to see such a strong king go to his grave in defeat!

How about you? Have you made some prideful mistakes? Take part in God's mercy, before the problem gets worse. Whatever you do, don't become satisfied with defeat. God's mercy is new every morning, and the same God who brings judgment delights to bring restoration through our repentance.

2 Chronicles 26:16-21, "But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. (17) And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: (18) And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. (19) Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. (20) And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. (21) And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land."

Three Signs that You Serve in the Flesh

I really believe that every Christian should have a ministry. Not everyone needs a “stand up in front of others and speak” ministry, or a ministry that requires full-time support. The reality is, however, that no man is an island, and since one is always touching other people’s lives, he should use his life as an opportunity to serve others and glorify God.

Put another way, every Christian *HAS* a ministry; the question is: are you going to embrace it and be led by the Spirit of God, or are you going to serve in the weakness of the flesh. In the book of Judges, we find the story of an unlikely minister – Samson. His life was such a tragedy that we may wonder, “Could God even use him?!”

Samson’s ministry was thrust upon him from before birth, but he was never really thrilled about it. Even his parents thought that his life choices prevented him from being used by God, but that was not so. Judges 14:4 says this, “But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.”

In our pride and in our critical spirits, we think that God uses us because we are pretty awesome and make great Christ-honoring choices. However, if God could use a donkey to speak the truth to Balaam (in Numbers 22) or the heathen king, Cyrus, to enable God’s people to rebuild the temple, he can certainly whoever he will.

Samson was useful to the Lord – but imagine how much better it would have been if he had not served in the flesh. Imagine how different his life would have been had He willingly lived to glorify God! Let’s take a look now at three signs that you, like Samson, might be serving in the flesh.

First of all, Samson was Motivated by Anger.

Judges 14:19 says, “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.”

The first part of this verse shows how that Samson was used by God to get at the Philistines. However, the verse ends by noting his anger. It was as if his ministry allowed him access to the Spirit of God, to do a good thing, but he did so with an angry, selfish motivation.

We should not be fooled into thinking that our anger is a good thing, because it seems to produce desired results from time to time. The Bible clearly tells us in Ephesians 4 to put away *ALL* wrath and anger. Surely things are going to come in life to make us angry; in the case of Samson, these things came about as a result of his own choices. However, we are supposed to put that anger away from us, and allow the Spirit of God to work instead.

Truly the Spirit of God was at work with Samson, but imagine how much better it would have been if his anger had not been present. With his fleshly anger out of the way, the Spirit of God would have had more freedom to show that this was the work of God, not the vengeance of an angry man.

Secondly, Samson’s Heart Was in the Wrong Place.

When Samson got in trouble with Delilah, the Bible says this in Judges 16:17-18, “That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. (18) And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.”

Samson’s heart should have been dedicated to God, motivated and controlled by the Spirit of God. Instead, he gave his heart to Delilah, and that ultimately cost him his eyes and then his life.

How often do we see men and women of God who are grudgingly serving God. It is like it has been thrust upon them, but their hearts are elsewhere! Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord with “all thine heart” and the result will be the step-by-step direction of God in our lives.

If you are trusting the Lord with *all* your heart, then any other relationships and pursuits will be motivated and in alignment with the heart of God. Oh what a different story Samson’s life could have been had he submitted to the Lord with all his heart!

Finally, Samson’s Service to the Lord Required Personal Vindication.

Judges 16:28 says, “And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson would go on to kill himself and more Philistines than he had previously in all events put together.

His life ended here, with Samson looking to be avenged – vindicated – justified, in his very last breath. He was okay with God’s work being accomplished, but this was personal. This was for him – not for God.

When I think of many other servants of God whom He used to bring deliverance to God’s people, I see men like Gideon, and women like Deborah, who completely surrendered their hearts and lives to be used by God. When God brought deliverance, they glorified Him for his might acts, and lived to see the goodness of God and the peaceful liberty of His people. Not so with Samson. He lived in the flesh and died, still seeking validation. He never got to see the results of God’s deliverance.

I wonder how much time and deliverance is lost when we live our lives like Samson! What does it cost when we must be justified in the eyes of others? What effectiveness is lost when we will glorify God, but only if we get something out of it, too?

Remember, Christian, you have a ministry! Are you going to embrace it by allowing the Spirit of God to guide you step by step, or are you going to live life in the flesh like Samson? Either way, God will be glorified, but it is much sweeter to be part of glorifying God instead of serving as a bad example.

How To Lose a Generation in Three Easy Steps

The Book of Judges is a book that tells us about the tragedies that came upon Israel after the death of Joshua. During Joshua’s life and leadership, there was victory and triumph as God’s blessing was poured out in their obedience. When the next generation came along, however, all of that evaporated! How did this happen?

First, the parent’s generation went soft on sin. They had been commanded to drive out all the wicked inhabitants of Canaan, but notice what Judges 1:28, 32 says: “And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out…. (32) But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.”

Notice that it says, “when Israel was strong.” We have to watch ourselves when we feel strong. Many great tragedies occur directly after a time of great victory. Sometimes, this is because we get prideful when God brings victory, and we connive better, more efficient ways to “serve God” instead of doing it His way. In the case of the Israelites here, they thought that having the Canaanites as slaves was a ‘way better idea’ than following God’s plan.

The second mistake that the parent’s generation made was that they didn’t pass on to their children the goodness of God. Judges 2:10 says, “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”

Here’s the thing about telling about the miracles of God in your life: it makes you vulnerable, and God is always the hero. It takes humility to admit that you messed up, and God delivered you. It is perhaps natural to try and appear strong and heroic to your children, and act as if you have always ‘had it all together,’ but this puts your children in a vulnerable position. If you instead talk about the bad habits and family curses of the past, and glorify God by recounting His deliverance, you put your children in a position to realize that no matter how they fail, turning to God is always the answer!

The final mistake that the parent’s generation made is to emphasize religious acts instead of a walk with God. We see this come out in the lives of the next generation in Judges 2:11, where it says, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:”

Notice here, that the children’s generation was religious. They *SERVED* Baalim. What was missing in their religion was a genuine walk with God. Since they didn’t know God and didn’t know of God’s deliverance, their religious acts pulled them away from God, and into heathen idolatry.

It is tempting to train our children in mindless obedience – to obey their parents no matter what without question. This produces beautiful replicas of ourselves that are all dressed up in cute church clothes and hair-sprayed curls, but are empty inside, void of any true walk with God. Some day that veneer cracks, and the children are left to figure out life without the presence of the Author of life. Though obedience and honor should certainly be trained into our children, it cannot be done with lasting effects unless there is the foundation of a personal walk with God. We cannot eliminate our children’s free will in hopes of making them super Christians; all we will do is make them super religious and empty of the Spirit of God.

It has been said that we are always only one generation away from extinction. This is certainly true if we make these mistakes that Israel did after the death of Joshua. Instead, we should walk step by step in obedience and fellowship with the Lord, and bring our kids up along side us so that they know first-hand the goodness, deliverance, and miracles of God!

Strange Fire

In Leviticus 9:23-24, we read, "And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. (24) And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces."
What a wonderful thing to behold - God's fire coming down and consuming the sacrifice! The people who saw it were affected by it - they shouted and fell on their faces.
In the very next verses (10:1-2), we see the sons of Aaron (Nadab and Abihu) getting into the act and taking advantage of the emotions of the people. They offered incense, but this time, they manufactured the splendor for their own glory; God's fire didn't come down, but that was okay - they had their own fire. When God fire showed up, it was to consume Nadab and Abihu!
We often see such things happen today - a show of our own trying to evoke the reaction of God's people but not in God's way!
Sometimes it is fog machines, skinny jeans, and devilish music that is trying to get an emotional response from people. Maybe it is opportunists who take advantage of the tender hearts of God's people and try to replace prayer meetings with multi-level marketing scams. Maybe it is simply allowing routine and schedules to take the place of the living presence of God in our midst!
It is time that we get back to doing God's work God's way. God is just as passionate and jealous as He ever was. Learn from the example of Nadab and Abihu, and seek the mercy and grace of God while there is still a window of time available to make a difference in a Godless world!

Forgiveness in the Midst of Ignorance

Thomas Jefferson once said that "...ignorance of the law is no excuse." This concept is a Biblical one, as found in the Old Testament law in passages like Leviticus 5:17-19. Just because "you didn't know" doesn't mean that you are not guilty.
This idea is foundational to understanding our sin nature as well as the mercy and grace of God. I am struck in reading these passages in Leviticus, because God mercifully made a way for forgiveness, even in the midst of our ignorance. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). Even before we recognized our need for a Saviour, Christ had it covered - with His blood.
As our society loses its sense of personal responsibility, it seems that people get offended more and more at the suggestion that they are sinners in need of a Saviour. If a bridge were out on a road on which a person was speedily driving, they will be just as dead if they go over the edge of that cliff in ignorance as they would if they saw a sign that said, "Bridge Out Ahead," and proceeded anyway. The fact is, there are consequences for sin, whether or not we want to hear about it; and there is mercy and forgiveness waiting.
As born-again believers, we have a responsibility to warn the lost of their ignorance. It may be a thankless job at times, but one that is eternally important. May we purpose to be ever faithful to our efforts in winning souls and delivering sinners from the ignorance of entering eternity without the mercy and grace of God applied to their account. Psalm 126:6 says, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Leviticus 5:17-19 "And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. (18) And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. (19) It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD."

Pretending Will Not End Well

What is worse than sin? Pretending it does not exist. Proverbs 26:26 says, "Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation. "
Perhaps we have all known someone who greets you with a smiling face and kind words, but one can tell that underneath that smile is a bubbling cauldron of anger and bitterness. That person acts like you are wonderful, but in reality, he hates your guts!
If you struggle with bitterness or hatred toward another person, the solution is not to pretend, but to replace. Ephesians 4 deals a lot with replacing the wrong of the sin nature with the right of Christ's nature (ie, "putting away lying, speak every man truth" or "let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour").
What must come first, before you can replace evil with good in your life - the thing that makes the real difference and ensures that you are not just pretending - is found in Ephesians 4:22-24. It says, "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
In order to have real, genuine change that is not simply pretending and covering the wickedness that is still there, you have to be changed spiritually. This comes from having a relationship with God, and daily, step-by-step fellowship with Him. In this way, the inward change shows itself in the outward actions.
Pretenders get exposed. Genuine Christians who walk with God, grow from their mistakes, and replace the evil of the sin nature with the character of Christ.
Do you know Christ as your Saviour? If not, trust Him and His death, burial, and resurrection to save your soul, and begin to walk with Him every moment of the day.
Romans 10:9-10, 13 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.... (13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

"Ye That Are Men" VS Everybody

I've heard sermons preached and sung hymns based on the text from Exodus 10:11, "Go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD...." The problem is that it was Pharoah who said it, in opposition to God. It was a compromise offered to Moses.
Moses, on the other hand, had said in obedience to God, "We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD."
Serving God has something for everyone. God desires *EVERYONE* to have a walk with God and to learn to hear His voice. Serving God is not just for the men, who then drag their wives and children along in submission!
It takes more work to bring the whole family along in a walk with God. It is much easier to say, "This is what God wants; just submit." Instead, as fathers, we should be carefully teaching and training and bringing along EVERYONE. No one should be left behind in this wonderful journey of obedience to God.
Real men don't leave their wives and kids behind for the sake of the ministry.
Exodus 10:9 , "And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD. (10) And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. (11) Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence."

Serving in the Midst of Trouble

First Joseph was hated for his God-given dream. Then he was sold into slavery by his own brethren. If that wasn't bad enough, he was falsely accused of a horrible crime, and ended up in prison.
It would seem that Joseph would be justified in getting bitter and angry. Not Joseph! In the midst of these terrible circumstances, we find him serving God and others! Joseph found a great ministry in the midst of his problems.
I believe that every born again Christian should have a ministry. Perhaps their circumstances or past sin might disqualify some from specific types of ministry, but they should have a ministry nonetheless.
If you are right with God, don't worry about what others think. Serve selflessly. Overcome the persecution complex. Your ministry may be simple or seemingly invisible, but it is imperative that you serve the Lord wherever you are! Don't let bitterness rob you of the blessing of serving God!
Genesis 40:5-15, "And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. (6) And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. (7) And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day? ( 8 ) And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you. (9) And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; (10) And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: (11) And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. (12) And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: (13) Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. (14) But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: (15) For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon."

Trials Are the Path to God's Glory

 Joseph's trouble started when he shared a dream that God gave him. His brothers were already on edge with him, because of their jealousy for their father's affection. When Joseph heard from God, however, it seemed to 'throw fuel on the fire.' This started a chain of events that ultimately lead to Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery.
It was this slavery that became the path to fulfilling the dream that God gave Joseph. While it seemed that Joseph's dream caused all these trials and troubles in his life, those trials were actually causing Joseph's dream to become reality. Had Joseph kept quiet, made peace with his brothers at any cost, and avoided these terrible trials in his life, the dream that God gave Joseph would have had no path on which to travel.
Often, God's calling and direction in our lives lead through terrible tragedy or difficult circumstances. This is not an accident. These are not obstacles to overcome in order to fulfil God's plan for our lives, but rather the very path by which God's glory will be manifest.
The question is, will you be like Joseph, and say in the midst of your trials, "...Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (Genesis 50:19b-20)
Genesis 37:5, "And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more."
Genesis 39:2-3, "And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand."

Faith or Common Sense

Hard times came upon Isaac, and he made what could be considered a wise, common sense decision: he would head to where things were better. So, he started to head down toward Egypt, and God stopped him before he got there. While in Gerar, the Philistine part of Canaan, God told him not to continue to Egypt. Why? Because God's call on his life was in Canaan - the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the future generations of Israel.
With God's will came God's blessing, even when it didn't seem to make sense. I wonder how many times we give up God's blessing because we want to do what seems to make sense - for our family, our future, or our goals. God will never go contrary to the principles of His Word, but sometimes His Word asks us to do difficult things --- by faith.
Faith and trust in God's word must always supersede our common sense logic. When we rely instead on our own understanding (instead of God's), we come up with heretical doctrines such as theistic evolution, modern perverted Bible versions, and sinful situational ethics.
In a practical sense, we may make ungodly moves, such as leaving the church into which God has fitly joined us (Ephesians 4:16) to pursue a safer economy or better politics. Instead of being a lighthouse in the darkness to which God has called us to make a difference, we make excuses from a "wise, common sense" perspective. Pretty soon the light is extinguished, and, living in sin apart from God's calling, we no longer see the promises of God fulfilled in our lives and future generations.
In every moment of every decision, we should seek the Lord's calling and the Lord's best. He is greater than any famine. He knows how to guide and protect.
Genesis 26:1-6, "And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. (2) And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: (3) Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; (4) And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; (5) Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (6) And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:"

The Perfect Wife?

In Genesis 25 and 26, there is recorded for our benefit a terrible example in parenting and family life: the story of Isaac and Rebekah. They played favorites with their children, pitted their favorite children against the other spouse, and brought division and bitterness in the midst of their family that lasted for the rest of their lives.
Perhaps Isaac could have asked himself, "Was Rebekah really the right choice?" And Rebekah might have asked the same about Isaac. Here's the truth, however: nowhere else in Scripture, except perhaps with Adam and Eve, do we have a clearer record of God choosing a mate. Remember the process that Abraham and Eliezer went through in Genesis 24 to secure God's choice of a wife for Isaac? Clearly, Rebekah WAS the perfect wife for Isaac.
Here is the point: don't let current difficult circumstances 'rewrite' history until you can manipulate yourself out of working things out with the wife that God has given you - 'until death do us part." Take the place that you are now, and refine it with God's help until it becomes perfect again - the way God intended it to be.
Genesis 24:48-52, "And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter unto his son. (49) And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left. (50) Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. (51) Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken. (52) And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth."