Tag Archives: Bible Devotion

Prayer Note: December

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually” (1 Chronicles 16:11, NASB).

Finding Meaning in the Mess

Anyone who has watched a young child open Christmas gifts knows the aftermath of messiness. As they rip the paper, bows, and boxes with their tiny hands, strips of paper and shreds of cardboard go flying through the air. Despite the joy and excitement of the frequent squeals of delight, the fact remains that Christmas is rather messy. But when you stop and think about it, the very first Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ) was similarly very messy. There was nothing glamorous, pretty, or restful about His arrival in Bethlehem. From a smelly barn to a damp and musty bed of hay, Jesus entered this world already despised and rejected. Plus, there was the additional messiness of the difficult journey that Mary endured while nine months pregnant: “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child” (Luke 2:4-5, NIV).

Making the 80-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for census registration was no easy feat, especially since it had to be done by foot or by donkey. Everything about the journey preceding the time of Jesus’ birth was just downright difficult.

Praises in the Pain

But in the midst of this mess came the Christ child and a band of angels singing and shouting praises to God for His goodness, kindness, and mercy. In other words, amidst the less than ideal conditions, God’s people found a moment of pure delight. And isn’t that image of praise amidst the problems a powerful reminder and model of our approach to times of intimacy and prayer with the Savior?

Let’s just face facts. Our lives are often very messy. We face the fear and worry of illness, separation, pain, and loneliness. We confront seasons in which our natural inclination is to run far away from the messiness of divorce, death, depression, unemployment, rebellion, and addiction, because facing the pain is too much to bear. In these difficult days, it rarely feels like Christmas or a time of praise. But it is in these seasons of deepest doubt, fear, and worry that God reminds us that He hears our weeping. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV).

Consider the following promises of God’s compassion: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NIV). “I cried out to Him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me” (Psalm 66:17-20, NIV). “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).

Continuous Praises

If you stop and think about it, the one thing missing from the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is a string of complaints. Instead of bemoaning the ugliness and harshness of travel, homelessness, and a make-shift delivery room in an animal’s trough, Mary and Joseph and the Magi found sweet praise in the pain of this messy first Christmas celebration. From the earliest days of her pregnancy, Mary took the time to sing praises before her King, elevating the majesty of God during moments of prayer and reflection (see Luke 1 – the Magnificat).

A Christmas Challenge

Perhaps this Christmas finds you in a mess. Perhaps everything about life is currently very ugly, painful, and dreadful, and the last thing you want to do is praise the One who made you. It’s difficult in seasons of hurt to find a voice of praise and contentment. It’s hard to pray when we are pained. But never forget that our God does His best work in our messes. Jesus’ life was surrounded by a lot of mess, but the messiness of this world’s rejection gave us eternal salvation. Even when the last thing you feel like doing this Christmas is praying, look up to the heavens and begin to sing praise. Call out the name of Jesus over and over until you find rest in His arms. Never forget that our Messiah holds us most tightly in our messes, because He loves us too much to ever let us go.

Written by: Lori Brown, staff at The Cove

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Kendra’s Bible Study…Judges 3: 15-26

Welcome to Kendra Graham’s online Bible study.  This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity.  We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!

Kendra Graham NOTES from Judges 3:15-26

In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage.  DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts.  Do not paraphrase.  Use the actual words of the passage.  This is God’s Word, a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts.  If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it.

15:  When Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised a deliverer.

16:  Ehud made a 1 cubit (18 inches) two edged sword and bound it on his right thigh under his cloak.

17:  Ehud presented the tribute to the king, a very fat man.

18: When Ehud finished, he sent away the people who carried the tribute.

19: Ehud turned back from the idols at Gilgal, Ehud said “I have a secret message for you, O King, keep silent.”  All who attended the king left.

20: Ehud came while he was alone on his roof chamber and said “I have a message from God for you.”

21: Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword and thrust it into his belly.

22: The handle went in after the blade and fat closed over the blade, he did not draw the sword out, refuse came out.

23: Ehud went into the vestibule, shut and locked the doors to the roof chamber.

24:  When he had gone, the servants came, looked, and behold the doors were locked and said, “He is only relieving himself in the cool chamber.”

25: They waited, became anxious, took the key, opened them and their master had fallen to the floor dead.

26:  Ehud escaped while they were delaying and he passed by the idols and escaped to the Seirah.

Look for a lesson to learn from each fact.  What are the people doing that they should be doing?  What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?

Is there a command to follow?  A promise to claim?  A warning to heed? An example to follow?

15:  God loves us, never leaves us, and is waiting for us to humble ourselves, come to Him where we will find an abundance of grace and mercy. 

16:  God uses ordinary people for extraordinary purposes.  God uses the fact Ehud is left handed to hide a sword to deliver His people. The sword being on the right thigh would have a better chance at getting through security.  God is specific in what He calls us to do.  Noah built an ark, Ehud built a dagger.

17-18:  Israel was enslaved to this King and had to pay unjust high taxes to him. Ehud was the courier of these taxes. (probably gold, silver, animals) God makes possible those things he calls us to do, Ehud gets an audience with the King!

19a: They were all dismissed.  I am wondering, if Ehud left the presence of the King…. maybe scared to do that which God had laid on HIs heart to do?  He gets to Gilgal, the idols here can mean graven images or sculptured stones…. I am wondering of here in Gilgal, Ehud saw the memorial of the 12 stones that Joshua had built when crossing the Jordan, and he remembered the God he served, and what that God had commanded the people of Israel concerning the promised land.  No compromise.  Maybe here, Ehud remembered that the LORD his God was with him wherever he went, and to be careful to do ALL He commanded him, and he will have success…. (Joshua chapters 1-3).  Remember who you serve. Be careful to do all. So Ehud turned around, and went back.  It is never too late to turn around and obey God and get another audience with the King.

19b-26:  God blessed Ehud.  God made a way for him to have audience with the King, alone, he got through security (again) with a sword strapped to his thigh.  Ehud faithfully gives the message God had for the King which is summed up in these words: God judges those who touch the apple of His eye.  Ehud courageously and cunningly follows through with all God had commanded him.  God gave him success.  Through this act of courageousness by ONE man, Israel, a nation, gets the courage to stand.  God will make a way when there is no way.  To do that which God has called you to do will always take courage and faith.  There is always gap between what I can do, and what God must do.  Never downplay the impact that one, regular, normal everyday person obeying God can have on a nation.  Be the one. Speak the Truth of God’s Word.

Take the lessons you learned and put them into the form of a personal question that you would ask your spouse, or a friend or your son or daughter.

As you write the questions, listen for God to communicate to you through His Word.

*Do not rush.  Do not write things down just to have something on paper, this step takes more time that you may think.   This is where Scripture meditation becomes real, this is where you begin to hear that still small voice speak to you, and place His finger in your life and begin to direct your paths…. this day, and the next, and the next.  Do you trust Him enough to put into place that which He is moving you to?

15:  Do I shake my fists at God accusing Him of leaving me, when really, it is I who is the one who has left Him and His commands?  AM I in need of God’s mercy? Will humble myself and cry out?  Pride often is the biggest factor keeping us from coming to God.

16:  Do I believe God has an extraordinary purpose for my life?  Do I know what God has called me to do?  Have I ever asked?  Will I ask and allow Him to use me where I am today for His purpose instead of the purpose I want Him to bless me in?

17-18:  When has God nudged my heart to do something and then made an impossibility a possibility?  (Gotten into a school, money for a mission trip I felt called to do, something I needed to do what God had called me to do suddenly comes in the mail, or is given? Circumstances throughout the day encourage me to step up and out?….)

19a:  Has fear overridden my obedience so I have missed out on the extraordinary hand of God in my life?  Will I have the courage to turn around and obey when all my senses say no, but my spirit within me says, “Trust God!”?  Today will I choose to obey God where I am or will I continue to run as hard as I can to the middle of nowhere?  Is the idea that God has a plan and a purpose for my life, actually the thing I would rather not know?

19b-26:  Will I be the one in my  family, church, apartment complex, job, school, to obey God in this evil and perverse generation, surrounded by idols? (idols: that which takes our focus off of God and puts our focus everywhere and anywhere else.)

Will I be the one to stand when those around me fall?  Will I allow God to show Himself faithful to me, thus impacting those around me?  Do I have the courage to allow God to use me or will I succumb to fear, like so many others?

Be careful to do all God has commanded me to do.  Obedience is a BIG deal to God.

Homework: Ezra 1: 1-5

Our annual Women’s Bible Study at The Cove begins on January 7th.  Click here to register. 

Get stuck?  www.annegrahamlotz.com  and Anne will walk through the Three Questions with you and help you along!

Devotion from Billy Graham: The Rainbow of Hope

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

By Billy Graham

The Rainbow of Hope

Let me put a rainbow of hope in your heart.  It has been proved millions of times over that Jesus Christ can meet and solve the basic problems of your life. 

This is the promise of Hebrews 13:8.

The word yesterday in that verse means the past—when He was on earth.

The word today means now, the present—when He is in Heaven. 

And the word forever looks into the future—when He shall return to earth to rule and reign.

Yesterday, the past, when He was on earth—He made atonement; He forgave and covered your sin, your past. 

Today, now, in Heaven—He is an advocate, representing before God those who place their trust in Him.  He is right now willing to solve your problems, lift your burdens, wipe the tears away, and bring joy, peace, and satisfaction such as you have never known. 

Tomorrow, in the future—He will return to be King of kings and Lord of lords.

Other things may change, but Christ will never change. 

We are living in an age of grace in which God promises that whosoever will may come and receive His Son.

When this age of grace ends, the judgment of God will strike and the world will suffer from the judgment hand of God.

But today I can offer you an unchanging Christ who can forgive your past sin, lift your present burdens, and give you hope for the future.  He will take your sins and bury them in the depths of the sea. 

Prayer for the Day: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for providing forgiveness for my past, respite from today’s burdens, and hope for all of my tomorrows, Help me to share Your hope with those around me. 

Daily meditation from Billy Graham’s book, “Alone with the Savior”.