I am very particular about things. Some say I have OCD, but the doctor said it is only OCD tendencies. When it comes to scents, I like to stick with vanilla and honey or like ocean mists. Typically, the flowery scents attack my nose. Today I asked my daughter to pick out two hand soaps. I did not realize what I was getting myself into by giving her control of the hand soap selection. When I saw what she picked, after we were already home, I cringed at the one bottle. It was a flowery scent.
When I asked her why she selected the flowery hand soap, she said she didn’t look at the scents for the hand soaps. She did not consider scent at all. She selected the hand soap by picking up what was “pretty.” She thought the soap she selected—which she also noted was “special edition” – looked nice. Sadly, the smell leaves more to be desired.
In life, we often make decisions by the looks of things, including our decisions on the people with which we engage. We pass judgment. We turn our noses. We engage with people who look like us. We sometimes avoid people who look a certain way, whether it be due to lack of knowledge, a fear issue, or something else. We read what happened when God’s people wanted a king. They were given a king—King Saul. This man was the one who looked like a king. We later find out that though Saul looked like a king, he certainly was not someone who would lead his people in the right way. But then comes along David. He was a man after God’s own heart. He did not look like a king, but he sure had a heart for God. King David allowed God to do awesome things through him. He continued to keep His eyes fixed on the Lord. Today, be open to how God wants to use you. Be ready to receive anyone God sends your way!
“And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’” – Acts 13:22 [ESV]
There are moments in life when I need to be given a swift kick to get going. Remember Moses making excuses again and again when God called him to lead the people out of Egypt? Well Moses isn’t the only one who knows how to drag feet. I’m sure we all have been there; my toes have scars.
When Israel wanted a king and chose a human over God, Samuel was upset. Then Saul was anointed king and he did not follow in God’s ways. God then told Samuel that Saul would no longer be king, that He would select a man after his own heart to rule His people. We can sit back and see why God wanted a new king anointed and not feel the sadness, the fear, the frustration of Samuel. This was something Samuel never wanted to do the first time, and now he was going to have to do it again. What would Saul do? Why again? And he moped.
God told Samuel to get going. Get going. Get going. Is there something that is keeping you from moving forward? Perhaps God has something waiting for you to start or to finish, but you are dragging your feet. You are making excuses. You are moping. Repeat these words—get going. Get going. God has a great plan. Trust Him and get going.
“GOD addressed Samuel: ‘So, how long are you going to mope over Saul? You know I’ve rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your flask with anointing oil and get going. I’m sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I’ve spotted the very king I want among his sons.’”
-1 Samuel 16:1 [MSG]
I think Ebed-melech was someone I would love to have for a neighbor. The Lord rewarded him for trusting him. In Jeremiah 38, we read about how Jeremiah was tossed into a cistern. A lot of the time when we don’t like what we hear, we ignore or turn away. These people tossed Jeremiah into this cistern full of mud. But Ebed-melech spoke up.
Ebed-melech, who was a Cushite and also happened to be an official at the royal palace, approached the king and told him what they had done to the prophet. The king then told him to gather thirty men to lift Jeremiah out from the cistern. He didn’t simply gather the men and pull Jeremiah out from the cistern. He went and hunted for some old rags and old clothing to protect Jeremiah’s arms as he got hoisted up.
It took trust to approach the king about Jeremiah, especially since it was King Zedekiah who allowed the men to toss Jeremiah down in the first place (see Jeremiah 38:5). Just as Ebed-melech was rewarded with his life for trusting God, so you too can receive life, true eternal life, by trusting in Him.
“Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe. I, the LORD, have spoken!’” – Jeremiah 39:18 [NLT]
After Samuel poured the oil over Saul’s head to anoint him as the Lord had instructed, something happened to Saul—he went missing. When they asked the Lord where he was, the Lord pointed out that he was “hiding among the baggage.” He was hiding. Other versions say he had “hidden himself among the supplies.” Either way you read it, this man who was head taller than everyone was found hiding.
We each have a calling upon our lives and there are moments when we want to hide. Perhaps you are hiding right now. Some people do not want to obey because it would require sacrifice. Some people do not feel qualified to do what God has called them to do in life. Some people are hiding because they believe they have a better plan. There are so many reasons people hide. Fear. Pride. The list is extensive.
Today is a great day to ask yourself if you are hiding, and if you are hiding, from what are you hiding? If God has called you to do something, He will give you everything you need to get it done. Today, get out of the baggage and rise to greater heights through Christ Jesus.
“So they asked the LORD, ‘Where is he?’ And the LORD replied, ‘He is hiding among the baggage.’ “– 1 Samuel 10:22 [NLT]
There is one word in this verse that sticks out to me. Paul wrote, “Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know WHOM I have believed.” Whom I have believed. Whom. Jesus Christ.
I have a degree in Christian Ministry. I have quite a collection of commentaries, dictionaries, and other books for biblical studies. But there is a difference between reading and collecting information than knowing Christ. There are books and then there is a personal relationship with Christ. There are books on hermeneutics and Psalms and then there is the Book – the Word of God.
It is not wrong to read commentaries and to dig deeper to better understand. The problem is when we aim to know about Jesus and about the Bible from a historical perspective and we fail to know Him—to truly know Him. Paul said, “I know whom I have believed” and it was this faith that caused him to sing praises while in jail and to continue to endure suffering. Today evaluate where you are at in life—do you know this whom—Lord Jesus Christ..
“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” – 2 Timothy 1:12 [NIV]
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant can teach us all a great lesson about forgiveness. This lesson is geared toward elementary school children. The goal is to teach the children more about the topics of mercy and forgiveness and to encourage children to forgive and show mercy to others. The front page of this lesson provides a definition of mercy, a key verse, and breaks down God’s forgiveness. The second page is a fill-in sheet to be used with a discussion after reading Matthew 18:21-35 with the group. The activity/craft period of this lesson will be used to brainstorm how we can be better at forgiving. We will then make an art project or card for someone who we want to bless, someone who we may need to forgive for something or someone who we have forgiven in the past.
Please feel free to download and/or print the lesson and the accompanying resource(s) and use for ministry purposes. If you have any comments or questions, do not hesitate to contact. Not for resale.
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“He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!” – Deuteronomy 32:4 [NLT]
When I was getting myself ready, my dog Max was awaiting outside the door for me. I find it interesting that he will deprive himself of the air conditioning to wait in the hot hallway for me to finish. This loyalty shown by Max is the same loyalty we see when we look at Ruth or David. Consider how Ruth was not only loyal to Naomi, but how she also accepted God as her God, and she walked in faith despite the situation. Consider how David was anointed to be king, and yet he spent so much time running from King Saul, hiding and away from his homeland before he even became king as he was promised.
We are called to be loyal and obedient to God. This is a command that we are to follow when times are good or bad. Even when we are in the middle of a storm in life and everything is looking dim, we are to walk forward in faith, with obedience, with loyalty. The first part of the Book of Ruth notes Ruth’s faithfulness to God; the second part shows us how God is faithful to Ruth as well.
God is faithful. God is still moving in our lives today. Today may be the toughest day of your life, but remember you are not alone and God is not finished yet.
“As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” – Daniel 3:5-6 [NIV]
King Nebuchadnezzar made this foolish command, a command that basically says “do this or else.” Do this (bow down and worship this image) or else (you are going into the blazing furnace). We all have people who try to tell us that we will do one thing or else we will face the consequences. As a child, we hear this from our parents; however, this continues all through life.
People will try to get you to sway in your faith. People will attempt to pull you away from God. It might not be intentional. It might not seem to be such a bad thing at first. You may not even realize when it is happening. Again and again the Bible tells us to stand firm. There is a reason—there are so many “or elses” given and we find ourselves caving, we find ourselves accepting something we shouldn’t or doing something we shouldn’t because it’s easy, it’s what the crowd is doing, and we don’t want to cause any waves.
Stand firm. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego stood firm and they weren’t alone in that furnace. You aren’t alone either. Today, if you find yourself being told to bow down to something, remember that you are not alone, even through the “or else.”