Daily Devotional Week 28 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (1 Samuel 17)

Daily Devotional

Week 28 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (1 Samuel 17)

David Kills Goliath

Deshi attended a retreat, sponsored by Intown, but attended by members and guests of several fellowships. While there he overheard a man bad-mouthing Christians and blaspheming God.

In addition to being loud and aggressive, the man was handicapped and a racial-minority, so everyone was afraid to challenge him, let alone daring to ask him to leave.

Deshi was new to Intown, a young man without many allies or social standing in the community, so he challenged the leaders of the retreat to act – but they refused – afraid of criticism if they did.

Deshi called pastor Scott, back at the church, and he said they should ignore the man and maybe he’d go away – but in any case he didn’t want to get involved for fear of bad publicity.

Deshi could no longer stand silent, so he challenged the man to a debate before everyone, that evening. The man arrogantly agreed and went off bragging to everyone “I’ll wipe the floor with that kid.”

The retreat leaders, and many others, tried to talk Deshi out of the debate – but relented when he declared that it would be a teachable-moment for the attendees – and perhaps an evangelical moment for the disrespectful blasphemer.

Deshi prayed, as did many others, and that evening he gently managed the man, restating his challenges and using sources the man trusted, to show him his error. Then he asked him “Why are you really so angry with God?”

The man broke down and sobbed as he told his story, Deshi quietly and firmly commanded the demons to leave, then led the man through his prayer of repentance and surrender, the affirmed his gift of salvation.

Do we have the same righteous indignation when we hear the Lord God and/or His “Church” (the body of Believers) cursed and disrespected by apostates, cultists, pagans and so-called Atheists?

Dear Lord, You are a holy and righteous God and You are not pleased when anyone attacks or demeans Your children. May I be sensitive to Your righteous indignation when anyone, including me, is disrespectful to You, Your Word, or Your family. May I speak boldly for Your truth, in loving-kindness, but still unyielding. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 28 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (1 Samuel 16)

Daily Devotional

Week 28 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (1 Samuel 16)

Samuel Anoints David as King, David Appears before Saul

Selon planned to attend a Christian leadership conference in the city and had shared with his fellow elders at Intown a dream in which the Lord told him he would find the replacement pastor there.

Selon feared rebellion at Intown if he were the one recruiting the pastor – but the Lord said “Go.”

One of those elders shared Selon’s news with a friend, who was also attending the conference, and Selon found himself the recipient of resumes and references from well-meaning parents and associates of young pastors whom they believed might serve at Intown.

One by one Selon found himself impressed by the young men, only to have the Lord point out a flaw or simply convict him that they were not the one, until he spotted Deshi – gently comforting and praying with a young family in a park near the conference center.

Selon greeted him after he prayed and invited him to his home to meet the elders, following the conference. Once together with the elders Selon anointed Deshi but asked all to say nothing to anyone until the time was right.

Meanwhile, Deshi counseled, encouraged, and prayed with young families at Intown.

Scott – tortured by his failures, and hearing good reports about Deshi’s gift of comfort, invited him to meet with him weekly for study and prayer.

When have you observed a transition of leadership where the current leader was largely unaware of – or resistant to – the selection of his replacement? Was that awkward or handled well?

Dear Lord, When You anoint a person in a special way for a special purpose Your presence is obvious, to those with eyes to see. May I be sensitive to those whom You have specially anointed so that I might encourage them, direct others to them, and walk alongside of them – as You work out Your great plan. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 27 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (1 Samuel 15)

Daily Devotional

Week 27 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (1 Samuel 15)

Saul Is Rejected as King

The Intown elders discovered a group of people in the fellowship who were promoting the acceptability of “white” witchcraft as “harmless”. When they confronted them they were unrepentant. The elders notified Scott that he needed to take action.

Scott dismissed all but one from participating in fellowship activiries – he was wealthy and had given significant donations to several church projects in the past.

Selon confronted Scott for his improper preference for the wealthy man, a choice that placed the well-being of the fellowship at risk, and advised him that – because of this final act of rebellion – the Lord had revealed in a dream that his leadership would end earlier than expected, and that his (Scott’s) son would not succeed him.

Selon then summoned the wealthy man to a meeting where he explained Scott’s wrong decision. He also explained the elder’s decision, with which a now-discouraged Scott agreed, and – due to his unrepentant syncretism – he was no longer welcome to fellowship at Intown.

Scott pleaded with Selon to intervene with God for a lengthy pastorate. He also asked Selon to appeal to the Lord to reconsider his son’s succession of him. Selon remained firm as his dream had indicated an unchangeable decision by the Lord.

Scott – defeated – asked him to join him, together with the elders, to pray for his remaining time at Intown and Selon did so – after which they never met together again.

Selon then left on a foreign missions project – very sad that Scott had not gained wisdom.

Saul was Israel’s first human king. The judges and prophets, who led them prior to him, had exercised considerable discipline during military conflicts. Why was Saul so weak as a leader in comparison to Moses and Joshua?

When have you observed a religious leader behaving in an impetuous and Biblically-improper manner? How did that impact his witness in the community?

Dear Lord, When You give an instruction You expect it to be obeyed to the letter, no modifications, no excuses, no double-talk. Please reveal to me a place in my life where I may be making my own small “adjustments” to the Word of God in order to suit my purposes, out of fear of others, a desire to benefit certain others, and/or for direct personal gain. May I never alter Your Word, not in the smallest way, and not for any reason. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 27 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (1 Samuel 13 – 14)

Daily Devotional

Week 27 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (1 Samuel 13 – 14)

Saul Fails the Lord, Jonathan Ignites a Battle, Jonathan Violates Saul’s Oath

Scott had led Intown for several years when his son began insulting government leaders and endorsing political candidates using church resources – which risked violating their tax-free standing as a religious organization.

Scott took it upon himself to go to court against the government tax officials and, due to arrogance and carelessness on his part, misrepresented some factual information – placing him at risk of perjury.

Government lawyers had used their powers to freeze the finances of the church – claiming that there might be evidence of misappropriation for political versus religious purposes.

Just as the government lawyers had momentum the judge hearing the case suddenly had health problems which caused him to take a medical leave – causing the case to be set back until a new judge was found and all of the evidence reviewed.

Scott seized the opportunity to raise awareness in the Christian community and to gain the support of a multi-church legal organization to defend his case in court.

Despite their many errors, and public exposure to those errors, the unified churches and much prayer enabled them to win argument after argument against the over-zealous government organizations.

When have you acted impetuously, intending good, only to make things worse? When have you observed someone in authority carelessly making declarations which turned out to be unwise?

Dear Lord, You set the boundaries and define the rules, we do not get to invent our own definitions of good and evil or right and wrong. May I not drift into the situational ethics and personal-religion practices of the world around me – Your Word is truth. Sometimes human leaders behave foolishly, but Your will is done despite them. May I be ever watchful for opportunities to serve You even when those about me appear immobilized. Today I will slow down and pray, study the Word, reflect upon my circumstances, and pray some more … and then I will be quiet and listen to God. I will trust Him to be in control, I will trust Him to make a way for me, and I will resist the temptation to get out ahead of Him. I will step out in faith and seize the opportunities given to me by the Lord. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 27 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (1 Samuel 10 – 12)

Daily Devotional

Week 27 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (1 Samuel 10 – 12)

Saul Becomes King, Saul Comes to the Aid of Jabesh, Saul Is Established as King

When Scott was announced, as the next pastor of Intown, many of the people cheered.

Selon delivered a strong sermon that day, reminding them of the Biblical story of the selection of Saul, and of the Lord’s many warnings – that any drift from the Word would be destructive.

Selon reminded them of the history of their fellowship, what the Lord had blessed, and what had happened when internal and external groups tried to block God’s work.

He reminded them of Paul’s charge that every member of every Biblical-Christian fellowship anywhere be ‘good Bereans’ – testing all teaching against the Word.

He challenged Scott to be teachable, both directly by the Holy Spirit, and indirectly – as the Holy Spirit might move the people to challenge him from the Word.

Selon cited Biblical and modern historic examples of fellowships that had prospered in obedience, contrasted with those who suffered from disobedience, and the importance of faithful leaders.

And finally, though most of the congregation knew that he had serious reservations about Scott – and the priorities of a majority of the activists in the congregation – he assured them that he would keep them all in prayer.

Dear Lord, When we are stubborn and demanding You meet us where we are and sometimes You give us what we demand, even though it may prove a difficulty for us. May I not be so demanding and stubborn that You have to discipline me by granting my wrong-headed demands of You. We often create impediments to our relationship with You, often in the form of religious persons, rituals, and man-made traditions. I will take an inventory of the responsibilities the Lord says are mine and repent of any that I have improperly left to someone in a position of religious authority. It may be expecting a pastor or teacher to spoon-feed me all of my Bible study, expecting the corporate gatherings of a fellowship to be my only time in prayer and worship, expecting a counselor or minister to intervene every time there is confusion or conflict – without first trying to follow the Biblical-resolution process myself, or some other displacement of God from the center of my life and relationships. May I be found faithful and resistant to anything that might interfere in the intimate relationship You desire to have with me. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 27 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (1 Samuel 8 – 10:7)

Daily Devotional

Week 27 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (1 Samuel 8 – 10:7)

Israel Seeks a King, Samuel Meets with Saul, Samuel Anoints Saul

Over the years Selon’s faithful leadership had grown Intown into one of the largest fellowships in town.

Selon’s sons were unlike their father, after appearing to be faithful through their teens they went to college and chose the path of unrepentant prodigals, so neither could follow him into leadership.

Meanwhile, too many others in the fellowship had also drifted into wrong priorities.

The people demanded a charismatic and growth-obsessed pastor, like the mega-churches around them, which made Selon sad.

Selon sensed the Lord leading him to warn the people of the bad consequences of a growth-obsessed charismatic pastor – he would abandon discipleship-first, abuse shallow outreach for numbers rather than responsible evangelism – and he would seek more and more money and resources for himself.

Because there was no one in the fellowship who met their demands they advertised and interviewed and found someone whom they believed met their requirements

Selon, despite strong reservations, anointed Scott as the next pastor.

Selon remained as leader of the elders and as a spiritual adviser to Scott, in an effort to prevent a church split, and in hopes of guiding Scott toward a more responsible path.

A humble, obedient, and wise parent is not always assured of adult children who will choose to live likewise. The Biblical text is silent as to the details of Samuel’s children so it’s unclear what were their primary influences. It may be that Samuel was so occupied with his responsibilities as judge, priest, and prophet that he failed to seek the Lord’s protection of his sons. The Lord God chose Saul and, through Samuel, tried to guide him (although Saul was a poor student) along the way.

When have you ignored warnings and pursued something despite them?

Dear Lord, The demandingness of humans to go their own way was the cause of the Fall, and has been an unending rotten-fruit of the Fall. Please reveal to me a place in my life where I am ignoring wise counsel and a journey of maturity upon which you wish to send me – it may be related to education or training, beginning or ending a relationship or relationships, it may be separating from some unhealthy worldly influences or joining with others to reach into the world with the Word in order to change a small part of it, it may be freedom from emotional, intellectual, physical, and/or spiritual bondage of some sort. Whatever it is I will agree to see it through with confidence and will seek accountability and prayer support from fellow Believers. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 27 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (1 Samuel 5 – 7)

Daily Devotional

Week 27 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (1 Samuel 5 – 7)

The Ark Causes Trouble for the Philistines, The Philistines Return the Ark, Further Conflict with the Philistines

The Powertown Gang had a superstitious view of the wood and brass wall hanging panel, of God’s 10 Commandments, at the Intown Fellowship – the members were fond of it as it had been created when their Fellowship was founded.

The fellowship rented a building for gatherings and otherwise kept their resources in secure storage.

Over the years the gang had heard of miracles, at Intown, and believed that if they stole the panel Intown would stop trying to evangelize their neighborhood and their keeper of superstitious artifacts could use it to help them.

So the gang broke into the fellowship’s storage and stole the panel.

The members of the Intown Fellowship were shocked that the storage company had not protected their resources and saddened at the loss of the wall hanging panel.

It wasn’t long before the Powertown Gang started to worry that they may have made a bad decision.

First, a young new member read the 10 Commandments, then secretly searched for more information on the Internet – with the result that he secretly visited Intown and eventually left the gang and gave his life to Christ.

Then a government worker, conducting a routine safety inspection, saw the panel and remembered reading about it in the past. She reported it to the police but a gang informant warned them and they moved it to a different location.

A small group of elderly former gang members received it, but they also had problems and so the gang gave up and had them donate it to a very different church than Intown – hoping to create conflict.

Selon heard of its presence there and visited to pray that they would be blessed.

The gang saw good things happening at the other church and broke in to steal it back – but they were caught and many of them jailed.

Dear Lord, Your blessings come only where You decide they should be. Please reveal to me a place where I may be carelessly treating You more like a wood and brass idol rather than the living Holy One You are. It may be laziness or selfishness, greed or lust, a person, a non-Biblical philosophy or organization; anyone or any thing that displaces You from Your rightful place as first in all things, at all times, and in all places. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 27 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (1 Samuel 3 – 4)

Daily Devotional

Week 27 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (1 Samuel 3 – 4)

The Call of Samuel, The Ark of the Covenant is Lost to the Philistines

Selon had experienced dreams of encouragement and warning but not of calling – when the first one came he was somewhat confused – so he consulted his parents and his other mentors.

His parents and elders prayed and then instructed Selon to pay closer attention to the next dream.

When Selon shared his next dream they all prayed, consulted the Word, and agreed that he was being called to leadership of the fellowship.

One large group of members in the fellowship had come due to Enot’s celebrity. Already there for the wrong reason their situational-ethics allowed them to believe that his son’s prodigal behavior gave them excuse for their own rationalization of sin. They were not happy to hear about the change as they knew of Selon’s felicity to the Word.

Those opposed to the change made the first church business meeting very unpleasant – they were rebuked by the elders – and even Enot expressed displeasure.

At the second meeting they brought several of the largest donors to the church and declared that they were splitting the fellowship and had the right to keep the property.

Enot was so dismayed that his failures had led to this crisis he fell to the floor, clutched at his failing heart, and he died. His wife cried out “The Lord has spoken.”

The fellowship did not immediately split but the relationship between Selon and many of the members was awkward.

Dear Lord, You choose those who serve You and You hold them accountable to Your standard. May I always be ready to serve You and careful to avoid sin. Rebellion has consequences, Your children cannot expect blessings from You when they refuse to obey You. May I be more faithful – please clean me up, teach me up, and lift me up for a new work. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 27 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (1 Samuel 1 – 2)

Daily Devotional

Week 27 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (1 Samuel 1 – 2)

Hannah, Samuel’s birth, and Eli

Helen had dedicated her life to the Lord’s service. As a young woman she helped at the soup kitchen, cooked, walked, and worked to help raise money for domestic and foreign missions, participated in short-term missions herself, then later joined a long-term missions team.

She was now in her late thirties, had married, but they seemed unable to have children. She had helped so many children, and their families, she felt a need to be a parent herself. The doctors could not find an obvious cause – so she continued to pray – asking God to intervene.

Helen eventually had several sons and daughters – each a miracle story – more than half of them adopted. Her first child was God’s first answer to her prayers – so she dedicated him to the Lord in a very special way. His name was Selon.

Selon was raised in partnership with the leaders of the fellowship, while his father was involved, all of the others had committed to prepare him to be a spiritual leader – though they did not know what his call would be.

Selon sensed the calling of God on his life and so he cooperated in his discipleship, education, and preparation.

The leader of the fellowship was Enot, but he had neglected his sons growing up and they rebelled, so when it was time to promote someone to fill his place – he learned in a dream it would not be one of them.

Dear Lord, Sometimes the sacrifices You ask of us are greater than other times, but at all times Your will for our lives is perfect. May I never doubt Your goodness. Your gifts are given to later be surrendered for Your purposes; Biblical-Christian discipleship, education and experience, restored health, long-sought employment and income, etc. You bless those who honor You, and You punish those who misuse the authority that You have delegated to them. May I remember to give You all of the praise and walk in Your ways. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 26 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Ruth 4:13-22)

Daily Devotional

Week 26 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Ruth 4:13-22)

A Grandson is Born to Naomi

Ben and Renea were married and a year later they had a son.

Otan would grow to become a powerful teacher and effective spiritual warrior who multiplied himself through the discipleship of others and through outreach to gather new Believers.

The entire local Hopetown community witnessed and celebrated the Lord’s blessing of Ben, Renea, and Nancy.

The Lord God transformed Nancy’s sorrow to gladness.

When have you experienced or observed the Lord God blessing one person through others because they were faithful and therefore available to be used by Him?

Dear Lord, You pour out Your favor upon the faithful and through the faithful into others. Please show me a place where I may be used to bless someone else. May I also make myself available to Your favor by choosing to be faithful to You. Amen. dmc2et

Daily Devotional Week 26 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Ruth 4:1-12)

Daily Devotional

Week 26 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Ruth 4:1-12)

Boaz Settles the Matter

After a year had passed Ben sensed that the Lord had brought Renea into his life for a more permanent reason and the older couple agreed. She felt the same way.

Ben and Renea attended a challenging pre-engagement workshop where the leadership team challenged all of the participants across a wide-ranging series of faith and marriage-related topics.

The workshop spanned three months and included information gathering and stress-testing homework assignments.

Once the workshop had been successfully completed, Ben asked Renea to marry him and she agreed, and as the word spread everyone was delighted.

Nancy was delighted at the way they handled things, giving each other time to learn about the other, giving the Lord time to reveal His will, entrusting elders to validate their sense of compatibility, submitting to the workshop – so that they didn’t miss important matters, and resisting the typical rushed decision that infatuation often produces.

Dear Lord, Marriage is very important to You. It is supposed to be a life-long commitment, it supposed to be the only context for male and female physical-intimacy, it is supposed to be the only context for human reproduction, and it is supposed to be the best context for raising children; therefore it is not to be entered-into lightly. Help me to honor what You honor and to encourage and equip others to do the same. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 26 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Ruth 3:6-18)

Daily Devotional

Week 26 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Ruth 3:6-18)

Ruth Visits Boaz, Ruth Returns to Naomi

Renea did as instructed and earned the respect of many of the Christian Believers in Hopetown.

Ben heard from several people in Hopetown of Renea’s good works and encouraging spirit and arranged for her to share her testimony at the church where he was a volunteer leader. Nancy came to encourage and pray for a nervous Renea.

Ben’s family insisted that the two women sit with them and when Renea spoke they all observed Ben’s unusual attentiveness – and the peaceful look they had not seen on his face since his wife was still alive many years prior.

Ben was several years older than Renea and was a man of integrity who would never make any effort to use his position or wealth to pressure her to take an interest in him – but that would have been unnecessary as she had already taken fond notice.

Nancy, together with Ben’s other family members, encouraged them to work together on the Hopetown Fair under the watchful eyes of an older church couple – and to see what God would tell them, along the way, about a possible future together.

Dear Lord, Boaz was a man of honor and integrity, a role model for all men (as is Ben in our story). He was the sort of man every father of a daughter prays that the Lord will bring to her – and for her to recognize. If I (reading this) am a young man – may I strive to mature to his fine example, if a parent of a son – teach him this example, and if a parent of a daughter – teach them to require such a standard of men in relationship. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 26 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Ruth 2:18 – 3:5)

Daily Devotional

Week 26 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Ruth 2:18 – 3:5)

Ruth Returns to Naomi, Naomi Instructs Ruth

Renea returned to Nancy who celebrated with her the fruits of her labors in the pecan groves.

Nancy questioned Renea as to whose pecan groves she culled and celebrated all the more that it was of her relative Ben and that Renea was blessed with both bounty and safety.

Nancy then instructed Renea how to make known her faithfulness to Jesus in Hopetown, where she was a stranger, and until now only accepted because of Nancy’s roots there:

1. Serve others on days when the weather didn’t allow for culling, volunteering at various places.

2. Faithfully attend gatherings of Christian Believers for praise, worship, fellowship, and study.

3. Visit other Christian-centered locations such as thrift stores, other fellowships, and special activities.

4. Become informed about the wide variety of activities and philosophies in the community.

5. Find a peer-age group of Christian women for accountability, caring, fellowship, and study.

If we want to become part of what the Lord is doing, or we want to discover where He can use us in a new work, we must engage our community.

Dear Lord, You bless those who give You the proper honor of Lordship, and You bless and provide beyond our expectations. Help me to become known as Your faithful servant wherever I find myself. May I trust You with my needs and my eternity and declare Your name to the world. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 26 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Ruth 2:1-17)

Daily Devotional

Week 26 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Ruth 2:1-17)

Ruth Works in the Field of Boaz, Boaz and Ruth Meet

Nancy got permission for Renea to cull pecans left behind after the harvest. Hopetown’s tree-shakers were old and their ground sweeps inefficient, so lots were left behind.

The local tradition was to allow the poor to pick up and keep or sell the rest.

Renea worked very hard all day, only resting once, and then briefly. When Ben, the owner of the pecan grove where she was culling, asked who she was he was informed of her relationship to Nancy.

Ben kindly encouraged her to return each day and assured her that he would guarantee her safety while she was there.

Renea asked him for the reason for his kindness and he explained that he knew of her loyalty to Nancy, and of her hard work in the fields to provide for them both. He also noted that she had trusted Jesus – so she was a sister in the Lord.

Ben later invited Renea to eat with his family and some workers, then he later instructed them to keep an eye on her, since she was a trusting stranger.

The tradition of God-honoring people from the ancient days of the Israelites had continued all the way to the days of Hopetown. The poor still had to work yet there was opportunity to successfully gather enough to help feed themselves and their families.

Lord, You provide loving-care for those who honor Your name. May I always remember to honor You. Please reveal to me a place where I can encourage, and perhaps provide opportunity for someone, or where I – if in need of some sort – may be blessed by someone else. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 26 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (Ruth 1:14-22)

Daily Devotional

Week 26 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (Ruth 1:14-22)

Nancy questioned Renea as to her faith; was she bringing the faith of her fathers, in a false God, with her?

Renea assured Nancy that her faith had changed to hers, the one true God of the Bible. She called Him her Lord and told Nancy that it was her rock-solid faith in Him, a faith she had observed in her through all of the difficulties, that caused her to see His truth.

According to the customs of her people Renea had married young, 16 years old, and after many years had passed (including her marriage, the death of her husband, and the decision to travel to Hopetown) she was 24 years old – having bonded with Nancy through eight years of struggle and tragedy.

Nancy finally accepted that Renea was not to be dissuaded – so they headed off to Hopetown.

Nancy arrived home in Hopetown, where she was warmly welcomed, but she was sorrowful for the loss of her husband and sons and for no grandchildren to carry the family line.

It was harvest time in Hopetown – which was God’s provision.

When have you experienced, or observed, someone coming to faith as a result of them seeing Jesus in the life of another person?

Dear Lord, You choose to use us in Your great plan to draw others to Yourself. May I be surrendered to You so that You may show Yourself through me to those whom I meet. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 26 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (Ruth 1:1-14)

Daily Devotional

Week 26 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (Ruth 1:1-14)

A Family Tragedy: Famine and Death, Ruth Returns with Naomi

A man from Hopetown, his wife Nancy, and their two children, traveled to another country to serve as missionaries.

After several years there he contacted a local disease, to which the natives had developed an immunity, and before he could be brought to a hospital – he died.

Their two sons, now 19 and 21, had continued his work and had married local women but before either had children – they also died.

Nancy decided that she should return to Hopetown, as it wasn’t safe for a single woman there, and their patriarchal culture would block her influence if she remained. She initially thought it would be good to bring her now-widowed daughters-in-law with her.

She prayed and concluded that since they both wanted to have husbands and children they would be much more likely to find new husbands among their own people. They both resisted remaining without her, but Olive eventually chose to stay, while Renea insisted on traveling to Hopetown with Nancy.

When have you felt such a strong sense of loyalty to a person that it over-rode your natural sense of apparent self-interest?

Dear Lord, Tragedy comes in this fallen world and You have instructed us to gather together so that we may assist and encourage one-another. May I be found faithful in the gathering-together with fellow Christians and in the assisting of and the encouraging of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 25 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Judges 20-21)

Daily Devotional

Week 25 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Judges 20-21)

Civil War Breaks Out, 600 Brides for 600 Brothers

The righteously-indignant, and equally hypocritical, majority in Hopetown were shocked at what had happened and cried out for action. They all felt suddenly vulnerable.

A huge mob gathered chanting vengeance and some began setting fires and vandalizing buildings – none of which had anything to do with the crime they claimed to care about.

The angry mob slowly moved toward the section of Hopetown where the crime had occurred, they had no clear leadership, and they had not bothered to consult God or wise Hopetown elders.

When they tried to cross an old wooden bridge too many crossed at once and the bridge collapsed. Many were injured and they busied themselves getting them medical care.

Their anger, rather than abating, now increased as others joined them – so they pressed ahead, knocking down a fence in their path, thinking it was a shorter route. They were right about the distance but wrong to presume that the fence had no serious purpose.

Suddenly they found themselves surrounded by hundreds of angry geese who attacked the trespassers. By the time they had fled back out of the property, and pushed the fence back up into place, many were bleeding from their faces, hands, and legs. Again they had to seek medical care. They were exhausted.

Finally, someone persuaded them to try a different way; help the police to track the criminals, boycott anyone made excuses for criminals, and find ways to stop their activities on the Internet. They were so successful that they drove a whole sub-division in Hopetown into bankruptcy. To keep from losing those homes to outsiders they allowed an elder in the subdivision to win a Hopetown lottery and use the funds to save the homes.

Dear Lord, It is horrifying to a modern Christian to read the things that happened in the past, yet we have excused or tolerated equally terrible things (abortion, Crusades, religious persecutions, and even slavery) in our so-called modern and civilized societies. May I not be blinded in my criticism of the sins of the past and miss the sins of today – displayed in the mirror of the Holy Spirit. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 25 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Judges 19)

Daily Devotional

Week 25 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Judges 19)

Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited

Hopetown continued to drift into situational ethics and superstition, fewer and fewer gathered in fellowships to discuss the Bible’s relevance to their lives, or to worship God together. Everyone pretty much did as they wanted and lived according to fads and self-centered values.

A cult-like televangelist, who had previously been pastor of a protestant church, had made himself very wealthy promoting get-rich-quick schemes, making excuses for much of the selfish and sinful behavior in Hopetown, and constantly criticized anyone who questioned his activities.

He traveled to a section of Hopetown, which still hosted some pockets of wealthy citizens, but was now surrounded by some of the most extreme misbehavior. He was visiting a man who had sent him large sums of money when they heard people shouting outside the house.

They were demanding that he give them his new sports car, his $1,000. suit and shoes, and his expensive new cellphone – he instead sent his young assistant out to talk to them.

They beat him up, stripped him of his suit and shoes, took his cellphone and wallet, stole his identity and ruined his credit – all in one night.

The televangelist publicly demanded that the leaders of Hopetown fix the mess but accepted no responsibility for any of it himself.

The Lord God was not pleased with Hopetown and this event was to be a teachable-moment to gain their attention.

Dear Lord, You have demonstrated over and over how much You hate sin, yet we persist in returning to our flesh-dominated and demon-manipulated ways over and over. It may be alcohol, food, or drug abuse. It may be debt or dishonesty, a lust for power or the lure of promiscuity, it may be laziness or the idolatry of perfectionism, it may be disrespecting God, parents, or fellow Christians – who have Biblically-earned the right to be honored, respected, and trusted. May I intentionally prioritize accountability, discipleship, prayer-without-ceasing, and the time in Your Word that is necessary to keep me from drifting into such terrible sin. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 25 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Judges 18)

Daily Devotional

Week 25 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Judges 18)

The Tribe of Dan Finds an Inheritance,

A small group of Townies, who followed a get-rich, situational ethics, superstitious sect in Hopetown, traveled to the city in search of adventure. They had listened to Manny’s invented-religion talks on the Internet and sought him out.

Once there they decided that Manny had some things that they wanted so two of them took him to lunch, feeding his ego by listening to him talk, while the others stole all of this studio equipment and religious items. The two with Manny – at the restaurant, ran out and jumped into one of their cars, and they raced out of the city.

Manny tried to catch them, but his tiny urban electric car was no match for their more powerful vehicles, so he turned back.

The thieves fled to the mountains where they set up in an abandoned group of cabins and started their own cult – using a modified version of the false religion of Manny.

Their future was filled with conflict, confusion, and trouble as they were believing and serving a lie.

When have you thought that you had acquired something valuable, in the eyes of the world, only to discover that you had paid too high of a price in your relationship with God and/or with fellow Believers?

Dear Lord, You show us the good and right way to believe and to live in Your Bible – but we all-too-often choose to go our own destructive and rebellious way. Show me where I may be pursuing worldly values, am selling-out Your values, and am rationalizing sin along the way. May I recognize Your provision and Your path and follow You more-closely every single day. Amen. dmc2016

Daily Devotional Week 25 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Judges 17)

Daily Devotional

Week 25 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Judges 17)

Micah Makes His Own Religion, Micah Hires a Professional

Manny was raised in the city in the situational ethics and superstitious ways of the local culture. His mother was a single parent who took advantage of every free resource and hid the money she made from various activities. Sometimes she worked and was paid in unreported cash and other times she was involved in a variety of criminal activities.

Manny knew where his mother kept the cash hidden and one day he stole it. He had no specific plan to use the money, he just wanted it, and he thought he could take anything he wanted. His mother discovered the missing money and told everyone she’d hurt whoever took it.

Manny heard about her threat and announced that he had the cash but had done nothing with it and would return it. She complimented him as if he were a hero – and since he hadn’t spent it she considered it unworthy of punishment.

Manny’s mother bought him an online ordination as a bishop of a fake online church, which unwittingly set him up on the wrong side of God, and unintentionally hurt him – spiritually.

His mother gave him some of the money and Manny created some religious items to sell as magical blessings, some special clothes made to appear religious, and he created a small studio at home for his online services. He hired his son to take care of all of the details. He also hired a defrocked priest to help him to recruit followers.

When have you experienced or observed a religious leader who was entrusted with responsibility but who was clearly functioning in opposition to God’s Word?

Dear Lord, You warn us that everything we worship – directly or indirectly (when we divert our attention from You) will bring harm to us. I will prayerfully review those whom I am trusting for accountability, discipleship, Christian fellowship and/or teaching to discern if the Holy Spirit approves or disapproves. May I be careful every day to be certain that You are first in all things. Amen. dmc2016