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Daily Devotions - January 11 to January 17

Daily devotions to encourage your faith.

January 11

2 Samuel 13:26 Then Absalom said, "If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us." The king asked him, "Why should he go with you?

Tamar was desolate. She has been wickedly violated and cast off by her brother Amnon. She does not hide her grief, but, instead, cries out. Tamar’s cry is a call to God for justice and restoration.

King David, still sulking over the death of his son and the response to the visit from the prophet Nathan, gets angry but fails to act. As the king, he is responsible to uphold justice.

So, why doesn’t David do anything about his wayward son Amnon? The Bible is clear that he should have done something (Romans 13:4).

Absalom, David’s other son, begins to assume David’s role. He comforts his sister Tamar and welcomes her into his home. Absalom bides his time as he waits for the chance to avenge his sister’s honor.

Funny enough, the story of how Absalom plots to kill Amnon is very similar to the way Amnon plotted to violate Tamar. He gains access to Amnon through a clever and deceitful plan that takes advantage of the trust of his brothers and sisters. David, it appears, still has no clue as he puts another child in danger. Yet, Absalom follows his passion that will finally lead to his doom, just as Amnon gave in to his passions and died as a result.

Absalom has his half-brother Amnon killed. Too cowardly to do it himself, he has his servants do his dirty work. Again, this is very similar to how David, Absalom’s father, killed Uriah. Both tricked their victim and took advantage of their trust. Both used their servants to carry out the evil deed. And both sent a messenger back to David when the deed was done.

Sin is so disgraceful that we have the temptation to hide it, cover it up, or not deal with it like a child that says, “La-la-la, I can’t hear you!” If we want to root out sin out of our lives, we must confess it and turn from it.

When a person is overcome by lust or any sin as with Amnon and Absalom, often a person wants to hide the consequences.

If we don’t deal with sin now, it will always have to be dealt with later. It will destroy our lives and our families if we harbor it or cover it up for someone else. David overlooked his son’s sin. He did not punish him. If the king won't enforce the law, where can you go? Absalom would later use this against his father to promote a rebellion (2 Samuel 15:4).

When we bring sin out and deal with it, God’s Holy Spirit is well-pleased (Eph. 4:30). He will fall on us.

If there is a temptation for sin in your life, cut it off at the root before it destroys you. Get rid of the idols in your heart! If you do not destroy them, they will destroy you.

Father, as the old Puritans used to prayed, "be killing sin or sin will be killing you." Father, we are sinners by nature redeemed in Christ. We do the things we know we shouldn't--and don't do the things we know we should. Forgive us, Lord. Thank you for your everlasting mercy that knows no end. Help us to extend that same grace to others. In Jesus' name. Amen.

January 12

Acts 17:11 "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. "

Imagine you just purchased an item that requires hours of labor before it is fully assembled. You are so excited about your new toy that you completely disregard the instruction manual. You say, “Well, I can figure this out on my own. Come on, how hard can it really be?” Several hours later, to no one’s surprise, you are frustrated and stressed over how to assemble your prized possession. So you decide to deny your pride and read the manual.

It pays to read the instruction manual!

Think of how many times we ignore the warnings and assembly instructions with our products. For most of us, this is a routine task. But the question then becomes whether or not this is our attitude toward the ultimate instruction Book, the Bible. While the Bible makes a wonderful centerpiece and bookshelf ornament, these decoration ideas have no place in the life of a kingdom-minded Christian. For such a person to truly live for God daily, the Bible must become his final authority on all matters and stand as a hidden treasure that is gleaned daily for new gems of truth. Anything else is settling for second best.

Do you have the same passion for the Scriptures as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11)? Do you have the same knowledge of God’s Word as Apollos (Acts 18:24)? If you not, on both accounts, you should! Knowledge does not bring us closer to God, for it can result in pride. But truly studying the Bible and asking the LORD for wisdom and knowledge is the first step to seeing it transform your life. The LORD delights in showing Himself strong through those who will trust Him and who show obedience to learning and applying His Word.

There is no reason to waste your time listening to those who have the wrong foundation. The Bereans at the synagogue would not have listened to Paul long if he had come contradicting the scriptures that they knew to be God’s Word. They would have rejected him and told him that he was liar. If he had not even claimed to believe the scriptures, they would have had no use for his doctrine.

Now why do I need to tell you this? I need to tell you this to save you time! Have you come to see God’s eternal power and divine nature through the things that He has made? Then if you are going seek truth, you have no business listening to those who are devoid of the fear of God. Find those who have the same foundation and start there.

The Bible is useless unless we seek to study, understand, meditate, and ask God to practically apply it to our lives each day. How are you doing with this each day?

Father, one the greatest needs of our lives is a daily intake of Scripture. As we pray this, Lord, many of us have already gotten off of our yearly Bible readings. Thank you that there is grace. Draw us to know you better in the Scripture - whether that is reading, listening, or talking about it. Help us to do it all! There is no book like the Bible--sufficient, inspired, innerant, and infallible. In Your name. Amen.

January 13

Psalm 3:7 "Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked."

Lorrie Anderson, missionary to the head-shrinking Candoshi Shapra Indians of Peru, was looking for a quiet place for her daily time of Bible reading and prayer, so she went down by the edge of the river. After reading the Bible, she took up her prayer list. Eyes closed, she did not see the deadly anaconda weaving through the water until it struck, burying its fangs into her flesh. It withdrew to strike, hitting her arm again and again as it held her, screaming, in its coils. It reared up for the death blows. Then suddenly the giant snake, never known to release its prey, relaxed its grip and slithered off through the water.

While Lorrie was being treated, a witch doctor from a nearby village burst into the hut and stared at her. She couldn't believe Lorrie had survived. She said her son-in-law, also a witch doctor, had chanted to the spirit of the anaconda that morning and sent it to kill the young missionary. ""I'm certain,"" Lorrie said, ""that except for the protection of God, it would have worked.

What a scene it must have been that day to see the anger and hatred of one individual foiled by the protective hand of God! This missionary was protected from a physical attack on her life because God used that situation to show His power to the Shapra Indians.

King David also faced attacks on his life. In the third psalm, David wrote about being chased by his son, Absalom. Absalom was seeking to overthrow his father and take over the kingdom that David had built. The rebellion grew so strong that David was forced to flee Jerusalem and hide in caves with his loyal followers. David was being hunted like an animal, but he learned that God was there for him, no matter what, and that God was his total protection in the midst of life’s storms (Psalm 3:6-8).

It amazes me that the hardest times in life that should drive us to the LORD fail to do so. What is wrong with us? David faced expulsion from his throne and kingdom by his wicked son Absalom and he knew he had to go to the LORD. He listened to God in the morning for reassurance with trustful dependence. David declared his allegiance and trust in God alone. After pouring his heart out to God, David was fully confident God would lead him by the Spirit to level ground, either physically or spiritually (Ps. 143:8-10). In due time, God answered this prayer and blessed David

What are you going through today? As you turn your heart to serve the LORD, you too will find that there will people that rise up against your acts of kindness and Gospel message you share. In these times, God will shield you with His protection and strength as you do His work. He will also give you joy when no one else can bring it.

You must learn to rely on Him, not people, and then you will be able to adopt the attitude of David.

Father, who can we run to but you? When life brings us hard times and trial for our faith, we trust and know that those events had to first pass through your hands first. What comfort your sovereign, omnipotent hand is to us! We praise you that nothing can stay your hand. You are forever the same. Yet, we know that we need you every hour. Help us today. In Jesus' name. Amen.

January 14

Acts 19:15 One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?"

Are you a blogger? As a recent addition to the standard English dictionary, a blogger is one who owns and maintains a weblog. Many of these sites list the number of friends the owner has made contact with. Most people are not really “friends,” but rather are simply people that heard the name of the person and asked permission to be friends.

I have a feeling that Satan and his minions are similar in how well they know the name of Christians around the world. Many believers have unknowingly befriended the kingdom of darkness. No, they are not demon- possessed. Instead, they lack the effectiveness of a Spirit-lead life and are lukewarm in their dealings in Kingdom responsibility. In other words, they pose no threat to Satan by living radically for Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a positive for the enemy of our souls.

The name of Jesus meant something to Paul. So much, in fact, that God was using Paul to do great miracles in the name of Jesus (19:10-12). But the name of Jesus meant little to the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest. If Jesus name meant something to these seven men, they could and would have cast out demons like Paul did. I find it funny that demons knew Jesus and knew Paul, but did not know the Jews. Don’t think for a moment that the devil doesn’t know who is hot and cold for Jesus. The same is most certainly true today.

Paul saw really big changes in Ephesus, which is displayed in Acts 19. When sorcerers turned to Christ, they burned their occultic books valued at 50,000 days' wages (Acts 19:19).

And the silversmiths who made shrines of Diana were almost put out of business (Acts 19:23-27). It is not our responsibility to change our culture. Instead, it is the trusting of God through the Gospel that will enrich our nation to change for the better.

Does the devil know your name? Trust me, the moment you repent of your sin and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, the devil knows your name. For most of us, that is as far as we get. I pray that, through the power of Christ in you, Satan will have to think twice about ignoring what God is doing in your life. Nothing is greater than shaming the devil by living your life for the glory of God (cf. 1 Peter 2:15).

There is no greater compliment and praise to God than to be a threat to the kingdom of hell because of your obedience to the Gospel of Christ.

Father, your name is above all names--the name at which every knee will bow on the earth and under the earth. We don't want to be like the people of Babel who tried to make a name for ourselves. It is your name that is powerful and highly exalted! You are worthy of all praise. Thank you that you can love us no less--we are secure in Christ. You the king over all. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

January 15

2 Samuel 18:33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you--O Absalom, my son, my son!"

There is now civil war in Israel between Absalom and David. So, David prepares his men for battle. He divides the troops among his three generals, including Ittai. It is good to note that, while the LORD gives the victory, well-planned strategy and effort are involved.

The people won’t let David put himself at risk. David charges his generals to deal gently with Absalom for his sake. By God’s grace, David’s armies prevail, for even the trees fight for the LORD (Joshua 10:11; 2 Samuel 18:8).

As Absalom’s armies scatter in defeat, he rides his animal deep into the woods. It is there that proud Absalom is caught up in the branch of a tree. An unnamed soldier of David’s army refuses to strike him down. Joab, who promised not to harm Absalom, finishes him off himself. With Absalom’s death, the battle ends and he meets an accursed end. While he promised to solve people’s problems, his death only brought division and death in the end.

Joab sends the news of Absalom’s death back to David. David mourns over his dead son. However, his excessive mourning puts the kingdom at risk.

What a true story of such sadness and sin! This is a strong warning to passive parents everywhere. David follows in the sad footsteps of Eli and Samuel as he fails to address the sins of his very own sons. A person can love his family very much but still raise them poorly. Parents are still responsible to discipline their children, including grown ones under their roof (Proverbs 26:3).

Yet, parents, like David, must still grieve over their wayward children. Why? Because parents are to raise their children in a godly way (Ephesians 6:4).

As a young person, you are still responsible before the LORD for the sinful choices you make. However, your parents, especially if they are true Christian believers, know you need God’s grace every day.

Absalom is an example of what happens to children who dishonor their parents. Remember, though you may joke about it, you are to honor your mother and father and all others in authority (teacher, coach, boss, pastor, etc. – see Matthew 15:3-9). Our Savior, Jesus Christ, honored and obeyed His earthly parents, even though they were not perfect (Luke 2:51).

Notice also the picture of our Savior in this story. As David was willing to die that Absalom might live, Jesus also died that we may live eternally with Him (Romans 9:1). Just as David sought to do good for a son who hated him, so Jesus did good for His enemies (Romans 5:10). Just as David mourned over the fate of his wayward son, Jesus was sorrowful over the unbelief of those He came to save (Romans 9:3). And, finally, just as the enemies of David perished, so all Jesus’ enemies will one day be crushed (Hebrews 1:13).

The wicked and the proud like Absalom may appear to win for a short time, but God will ultimately be the judge. Do you know Him?

Father, there is so much to learn here about our faith from the failures of David and Absalom. Father, above all, though, may we be reminded today that there is only one heart-thief we desire in our lives. And, that, of course, Lord, is you. Captivate with your grace and by your Spirit and enrapture us to see nothing as more important than your glory. We know that you are the only one worthy of praise. Help us to really know it! In our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

January 16

Acts 19:20 "So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily."

The Gospel changes everything, including societies.

In today’s story, Paul is in Ephesus and has moved from the synagogue to the Hall of Tyrannus because of opposition to his message. Satan has made an aborted attempt to destroy the Gospel. Paul plans to go to Macedonia and Achaia to bring relief to the famine victims in Jerusalem. Paul has sent off Timothy and Erastus to prepare for his visit, but he stayed in Asia for a while. So, he is still ministering in Ephesus.

Back to our opening statement: When the Gospel is received into a community, it affects the whole culture! This includes economic, social, political values, and ideals. Just as you and I are changed supernaturally when we truly come to be born again (see John 3), so does a community. Here in Ephesus we have the results of what happens when a community accepts the Gospel there will be fundamental changes economically, socially, and politically!

As in Ephesus, there will be job losses in some industries. Those industries that are based on what Christians no longer want. Products that have an immoral or non-Christian content will have little demand. People will be ashamed to purchase them. TV programs will alter, as will the sale of DVDs, lyrics in music, film producers and publishers will generate different material, drink industries, casinos, and gambling dens will dwindle. Socially, marriages will be secured. The Gospel will have an effect on the whole community (or nation), just as it does, to some degree at least, in true believers—all because of God’s power (Romans 1:16).

As we draw closer to God through His Son Jesus Christ, we are blessed with joy, peace, and a purpose for life. The psalmist was right when he wrote, “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). When seeking God is our number one priority, the hunger in our lives to please Him intensifies. The aftertaste of time with God never completely satisfies us—we always long for more of Him.

But sometimes we have to deal with the nastiness of Satan. The devil loves to promote his favorite dishes of anger, resentment, doubt, fear, and trouble. One bite of his food might taste good at first, but like our least favorite foods, it has a nasty aftertaste. This is because Satan wants our focus to be on the temporal and not the eternal. If he can get us to bite into one his lies, then he has already poisoned our mind.

Perhaps Satan’s biggest lie is that we ought to be ashamed of Jesus Christ. He would have us do nothing else than deny Jesus by our lifestyle. So don’t be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the best news that the world has ever known! And be confident in the power of the Gospel, for it’s the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith because it brings with it a righteousness that only God can give. Standing by the power of the Gospel is the most tasteful decision you can ever make.

Father, let your Word grow, grow, and grow again in our hearts, our churches, our neighborhoods, our country, and anywhere it is not spoken or spread. We pray for pastors to speak forth your Word boldly, as well as anyone who sits in the pew that knows you. Only your Word can save those lost in their sin. Father, thank you that your Word cuts down deep to show us all we need to know Christ. In Jesus' name. Amen.

January 17

Acts 20:7 "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight."

At the beginning of time, God both blessed and made holy one day out of seven. Man was created to work six days and then cease from his usual work one day in order to worship the LORD and rest his body. At that time, the day of rest was placed by the LORD God on the seventh day of the week.

Sometime later, in making covenant with Israel, God inscribed this commandment in stone, making clear His commandment that mankind observe one day in seven as holy unto Him by resting from his usual work. But when the LORD Jesus Christ—who died for our sins, was buried, rose from the dead, appeared to His disciples, and sent His Holy Spirit upon the— He did so not on the last day of the week, but on the first day of the week.

What does it all mean? It means that in rising from the dead on the first day of the week, the LORD Jesus Christ, who is LORD of the Sabbath, transferred the ancient observance of God’s holy day from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. Now, the first day of the week, the LORD’s Day, is the proper time to observe the weekly and holy rest unto the LORD.

The text today tells us that the church met on the first day of the week. But we do not need the story of Eutychus to understand that it was hard to stay awake in the meeting of the church that night, do we? And, you know, at least for me, it’s not about church. I find that I can get sleepy driving, watching a movie, reading a book, whether the Bible or some other, praying, sitting and listening to someone talk in private conversation, even doing some kind of hand work. It is a famous problem that soldiers on guard duty in a war zone to have trouble staying awake!

What, then, does this have to do with us today?

We are engaged in a great spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-20), really a life­-and-­death struggle. Although the body is sitting still, the attitude of the mind must be that we are at full alert, for the enemy is near, and we must defend against his scheming Also, this story shows us our priorities There are so many interesting things to read, and access to them by the computer is so easy, that I am sorely tempted to stay up late reading. What is needed in my life is for me to set my performance as to staying awake during prayer and Bible study as the priority, so that I will get plenty of sleep instead of staying up late reading whatever interests my curiosity

Have you disciplined yourself to take care of your body so you are engaged and ready to receive and share God’s Word each Sunday?

Father, your Lord's Day Sunday is meant to slow us down enough so we can taste the your delight and hear you singing to us in the gospel. The purpose of a Sabbath is to change the narrative in our head from, "You're getting behind!" to "It is finished!" Let us rest well this week to your glory, especially on your Sunday. In Jesus' name. Amen.