Early in this section of the book of Judges is a statement that gets repeated at the end of the book. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6,21:25) In between these two verses we read of a lot of evil that was done and what could happen when a nation has no rulers. We do not always agree with our government and the laws of the land, but we are commanded to obey them as long as they are not contrary to God’s word. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Rom 13:1) He does not control them like puppets, but His providence works no matter what men do.
Today’s reading: Judges 17-21
In Genesis 32 we read of Jacob’s fear of his brother Esau. “And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps,” (Gen 32:6-7) Their meeting was not how Jacob envisioned it, “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” (Gen 33:4) Jacob had worried about nothing. He did one thing that we all should do, he prayed to God and trusted in Him.
Today’s reading: Genesis 32-35
We all have opportunity to give the Lord food and clothes and visit Him in time of need. Jesus explains how when He is describing the final judgement: “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Mat 25:37-40) We should remember this explanation daily and look for opportunities to serve Him.
Today’s reading: Matthew 23-25
Jesus was the ultimate example for us to strive to live like. We can never be perfect like He was, but we can do our best to follow what we know about how He lived. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’” (Romans 15:1-3)
Today’s reading: Romans 15-16
Chapter 40 of the book of Isaiah begins a section of prophecy. The prophecy is full of words of comfort to God’s people. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1) At this time they were in Babylonian captivity and were being told to stay strong and trust that God was in total control. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31) It is easy for us to get tired and discouraged, but these words fit in our lives today just as they did then. The Lord and His word is an everlasting strength for us. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
Today’s reading: Isaiah 40-44
Job again hears from his friend Eliphaz. From the way these “friends” talk to Job, you would never know they were his friends at all. Job gives his honest opinion about them: “I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all.” (Job 16:2) We cannot always understand other people’s situation, but we can be comforters to them just as God is a comforter to us. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2Corinthians 1:3-4)
Today’s reading: Job 15-16
The Lord is my Shepherd! Psalm 23 is another psalm credited to David. It is not known when it was written. It would be fitting during times of prosperity or times of adversity. It would be fitting for any of us to repeat at any time in our own lives.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Today’s reading: Psalms 21-23
Monoah is probably not a name you easily recognize, but what about his son, Samson? We know the story of how strong Samson was and that he lost his strength when his hair was cut off. Did any of you other guys ever want to let your hair grow long to see if it made you stronger? Well before Samson became this strong man, his mother was approached by an angel who said “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.” (Judges 13:3) When she told her husband Monoah what had happened, he did what we all should do: “Then Manoah prayed to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.’” (Judges 13:8) We cannot expect God to send us an angel, but He will answer our prayers for guidance. That guidance will come with study of His word and living a life in service to Him.
Today’s reading: Judges 12-16
In Genesis chapter 28 we read of Jacob’s dream of the ladder going into Heaven and God’s promise to him. Just one chapter prior to this, Jacob, with the help of his mother had deceived his father Isaac. What has changed? What was the purpose of God giving Jacob this dream? In the dream He promises Jacob that thru him, “all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen 28:14) The dream had to be humbling to Jacob. It was more than a dream like we would have today. Jacob knew this was truly God speaking to him. “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.’” (Genesis 28:16) This is another instance of God working thru imperfect men. Like Jacob, none of us will ever be perfect, but if we stay close to Him and His word we can glorify His name in the way that we live.
Today’s reading: Genesis 28-31
The Pharisees wanted to test Jesus and asked Him what was the greatest commandment. His answer included the first and second: …“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) If we do have love for God and man, our actions will follow.
Today’s reading: Matthew 20-22