Tag Archives: Devotion

A LOOK BACK: Reversing Evil

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

A LOOK BACK: I Am You

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

A LOOK BACK: Stepping Up to the Plate

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

A LOOK BACK: The God of Jean Valjean

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

A LOOK BACK: Haunted

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

God’s People, part 33: Abimelech

Read Judges 9

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“‘Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.'” (2 Samuel 11:21 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people

AbimelechPart 33: Abimelech. One would think that the son of a faithful follower of God would, him or herself, rise up to be a faithful follower of God. That would seem to be the natural progression, right? We tend to learn our behaviors, our beliefs, and our very identity from the ones who raised us up, right? Isn’t that the conventional wisdom. Even if we stray a little, and we all do, we are still products of our parents, right?

While there is truth to the above, the fact remains that not everyone turns out like their parents. In fact, if God is our parent, none of us have turned out like God. We are sinners, we are broken and we tend to let our brokenness get in the way of the love of our Creator. If that is true on the macro-level, then it is also true on the micro-level. As much as our parents would love nothing more than for us to become like them, at least the positive and good aspects of them, and they would want nothing more than for us to show others the love they had for us.

Abimelech was the son of the very faithful judge, Gideon. He was brought up by the man who saved Israel from the Midianites (the very people of Moses’ wife) and others who were trying to come in and conquer them. What’s more, Gideon set the people of Israel back on a course of honoring and loving God their Creator. So, one would think, that Abimelech would certainly follow in his father’s footsteps.

Not so, instead of being a humble yet bold and just warrior like his dad, Abimelech was power hungry, cruel and greedy. Instead of being the sheepdog herding the sheep for the Good Shepherd, so to speak, Abimelech was murderous, unjust, and a snake that sought to divide and conquer. Following his father Gideon’s death, he conspired with his mother and her family and he murdered his half-brothers who were his father’s heirs. He didn’t stop there either; rather, not being satisfied to be a judge, he proclaimed himself king and ruled over Israel for three years. Understand this, up until this point only God was the king of Israel. Thus, Abimelech put himself above God and stole the throne.

This is a challenging and most uncomfortable devotion because it causes us to look at ourselves and ask some pretty uncomfortable questions. How many of us are like Abimelech? How many of us have take what is not rightfully ours? How many of us have schemed against others, and even murdered them in our hearts with our anger and bitterness toward them? How many of us have put ourselves and our own selfish desires above God, dethroning our Creator of much due glory, allegiance and/or loyalty?

The challenge for us is to be honest in answering those questions. Do we want to end up like Abimelech, sealing the fate of our own destruction because we are too ambitious, too greedy, too power hungry, and too clueless to see the sinful harm and the evil we are doing? Or will we, like Gideon and others, rise above our shortcomings in humility as well as humble service to the one, true Ruler of our lives. This is only an answer we can individually come to, and I pray you do.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Nearly all [people] can stand adversity, but if you want to test a [person’s] character, give him [or her] power.” – Abraham Lincoln

PRAYER
Lord, put me in a place of humility so that I may see you are the one with the power and I am the one who submits to it. Let me fully put my trust in you and you alone. Amen.

God’s People, part 27: Rahab

Read Joshua 6:20-27

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).”  (Matthew 1:5-6 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

rahabPart 27: Rahab. Most people familiar with the story of Joshua are familiar with the name Rahab. She was the “prostitute” who helped Joshua’s spies escape Jericho without getting captured. She was the unseemly woman who read the “tea leaves”, as it were, and did the seemly thing in order to save herself and her family.

At best we look at Rahab in the same light that Vivian Ward is viewed in the 1990 hit film, Pretty Woman. If you recall that film, you will remember it centers on the main character, Vivian, who is a “hooker” who is down on her luck. She can barely turn enough “tricks” to make end’s meet and pay her rent. She’s ultimately looking for “Mr.Right” to come in like a knight in shining armor; however, what man of that caliber consorts with prostitutes?

Of course, such a man does come to the rescue and saves the day. Well, sort of. He was actually a rather cold, calculating, arrogant, and driven business man who was ultimately looking to “let loose” with a call girl. It was only through getting to know her situation, and through getting to appreciate the quirky aspects of her personality that he saw the human behind the label. It is only in that moment that he began to fall in love with who she was as opposed to what she could do for him.

At best, Rahab is seen in that kind of light. She’s the “hooker” who was lucky enough to have a couple of men (no stereotypical thinking there, right?) come in and save the day. At worst, she is seen as the kind of “low life scum” that God is willing to save if they would only do the right thing for a change. Sadly, both the best and the worst case ways that Rahab is often thought of in only goes to betray how judgmental we are, and how much this story was MEANT FOR US as a reminder that our judgment is  way, way off.

Yes, Rahab was a prostitute. Yes, more than likely, the house that she “lived in”  was an inn and a brothel one of the major city-states in Canaan. Yes, it is more than likely that she and/or other prostitutes that worked under her “serviced” the two spies of Israel. Yes, that her line of work was shady and not what God would want for any human being to do for a living. And, yes, it is true that she did strike a deal with the spies, because she had a hunch that their God was going to deliver the victory to them over her own people. Smart move on her part.

There is no doubt that Rahab was a sinner and that her line of work is sinful. Prostitution is a degrading of one’s own body, one’s own sacred sexuality, for the purpose of making money. No one…well, mostly no one would argue against that. But the real sin here was not Rahab’s,  but that of the society. The real sin was the society’s for creating a culture where women were left destitute and forced to exploit their own bodies in order to survive.

The sin was that of the men, and men were ruling Rahab’s world, who saw women as nothing more than property and/or objects to use and abuse. And let’s not be fooled, women weren’t the only one’s being exploited. Men and women alike, in the ancient world as in our time, have been exploited and prostituted out for profit. Men and women alike have been bought and sold as property and seen as nothing more than a means to an end. The word shameful doesn’t even do it justice. The world EVIL, on the other hand, does.

The thing is that God is always on the side of the oppressed, not on the side of the oppressors. God was on Rahab’s side that fateful night she brought two spies into her brothel. God was on Rahab’s side the fateful night the spies returned with their army and spared her life. God was on Rahabs side, and chose her to be the mother of royalty, and one of the pillars in a long lineage that led right to the Messiah, the Son of God, himself.

That’s right, Jesus descended from a prostitute. But God saw more in her than the labels other human being threw on her. God saw more in her than she saw in herself. God saw a woman of character, a woman of integrity, and a woman whose gracious hospitality would lead to the ultimate embodiment of grace. The challenge for us is to see other human beings through God’s eyes and not our own. After all, who are we to deem the worthy from the unworthy. Only God can be that judge. Rather than placing ourselves in God’s place, let us put ourselves to the work of God…the work of liberating all human beings from exploitation and oppression.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” – The Holy Spirit (Acts 10:15)

PRAYER

God, it is not what is on the outside that defiles us, but what comes from within. Purify me, and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.

God’s People, part 24: Zipporah

Read Exodus 4:18-28

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman.” (Numbers 12:1 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

ZipporahPart 24: Zipporah. There are some truly strange and unique stories found in the Bible. Usually, these stories make little sense and often draw God’s character into question. For instance, you might be puzzled at the main Scripture reading today, provided you read it. If you didn’t, I highly recommend to you that you pause here, and read it. I bet you didn’t know that God almost killed Moses prior to him even being able to pull off what God asked him to do.

Why would God do that? Seriously, I am asking that question. Why would God send Moses on a task to liberate the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and decide along the way to slay him? What’s even more dubious is that it seems to be over a technicality, over the fact that seemingly neither Moses or his son was circumcised. Surely, God would have known that was the case from the outset, and nowhere do we see God so much as asking him to get that done! It is hard to make sense of God’s character in stories like these.

So, rather than try and explain what sort of theology of God is going on here in this story, we can look toward the heroine in the story. Zipporah, the wife of Moses, intercedes on her husband’s behalf and her heroic actions save the day. Literally. There are all sorts of possible reasons for the author writing the story the way they did; however, it is in this Cushite (aka non-Jewish) woman that we see what true love and faithfulness is all about. What’s more, it is kind of comical, and certainly poignant, that the wife is the one who pays attention to the details and saves her husband from running into quite a bit of trouble. Married men of the world, take note!

So, who is this Zipporah? She was one of Jethro’s seven daughters who Moses received as his wife after he saved all seven sisters and their flock of sheep from other competing shepherds. Moses, of course, was an Egyptian fugitive, having just fled Egypt for his life after killing an Egyptian slave master.  So, there with his wife Moses stayed, raised children and tended to Jethro’s sheep.

Zipporah bore Moses two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. For most women, that would be pretty much where the story began and ended in the ancient world. One was to get married, have children, raise children, become a grandparent and die; however, Zipporah’s life did not to go as planned. Her husband, following having children with her, went up onto a mountain deemed holy by her people, and quite literally “found God.” When he came back down, he was not the same man he had been when he went up.

Once he came down from that mountain, Moses was resolute about going back to Egypt. Most of the stories have him doing so alone, with him eventually meeting up with his brother Aaron; however, the Bible makes it clear that his wife Zipporah, and their children, went with him. I would like you to pause and think about that scenario for a moment. It is one thing for Moses to travel across desert and wilderness to head back into the country he fled for his life from. Sure, that would probably result in his death one way or the other, but at least his family would be safe. As can be seen, his family did come with him and that meant that their lives were in jeopardy as well.

Who knows if Zipporah resisted the move or not, what we do know is that she did go with Moses and it was her who saved him when God was about to kill him. How did she do that, you might ask? By circumcising her children and laying the foreskin at the feet of Moses. She then pleaded with God to spare Moses, and God did so.

We need not believe that God was literally trying to kill Moses to understand the overarching point. Sometimes as “insiders” think we know God so much that we fail to listen to God’s direction, all the while “outsiders” clearly see God, and choose to follow. Praise God for “outsiders” for they give us a fresh look at who we actually are, versus who we think we are. Amen? Let us be open to the faith of other people, for one never knows when he or she might encounter a Zepporah in their own lives and be blessed for it.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“You cannot open a book without learning something.” – Confucius

PRAYER
Lord, keep my heart open to learning your ways, especially if it is through the hearts of others. Amen.

God’s People, part 22: Aaron

Read Exodus 32:1-10

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“The LORD gave these further instructions to Aaron: ‘I Myself have put you in charge of all the holy offerings that are brought to Me by the people of Israel. I have given all these consecrated offerings to you and your sons as your permanent share.’” (Numbers 18:8 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

c4f74cd6ff4bcada231666d81c4d7b5cPart 22: Aaron. Most people, when they think of Exodus, they think of Moses going to Pharaoh and telling him to let God’s people go. They think of Moses conjuring the ten plagues that fell upon Egypt and they think of a strong, Charlton Heston-like man who lifted his staff to part the red sea. However, most probably do not think of Aaron or, if they do, they probably do not think much of him. He was just that supporting actor with a fake beard who was paid to basically silently stand by the side of Moses and watch him have all the fun. In fact, the most fun Aaron is ever seen having in the film, The Ten Commandments, is while he is caving into the pressures of the licentious Hebrews demanding orgies and the building of a golden calf.

Let’s just say that it’s not easy to be the brother of a hero. While we will get to Moses in the next installment of this series, I want to take the time for us to get to know is brother Aaron. While he is Moses’ brother, we barely know anything about him prior to Moses’ burning bush experience. The Hebrew Scriptures do not mention him in Moses’ birth/baby narrative. We only know, at that point, that Moses had a sister who saw him to safety to the Egyptian Pharaoh’s court and who ensured that Moses would be cared for and that her mother would be the one to nurse him. A bold move, no doubt, for a slave girl in ancient Egypt.

Aaron, on the other hand, comes on the scene when Moses pleads with God to not send him back to Egypt to speak to Pharaoh because he claimed he did not speak well. God, in order to appease Moses and ensure he would go, tells him that he will appoint his brother to him as his assistant and that his brother can do the talking. Thus, Aaron shows up on the scene and, indeed, assists Moses in negotiating (if we can call it that) God’s terms with the Egyptian ruler. What’s more, Aaron is the one who Moses hands the staff to do God’s bidding.

Yet, what Aaron is perhaps most known for is his epic failures. He is the one who caved into pressure to build the Hebrews a golden calf to worship instead of the true and living God (Exodus 32:1-6). His sons grew up to be rebellious (Leviticus 10:1-3). He was jealous of Moses’ relationship with God and complained to God against his brother (Numbers 12). Over his leadership as the high priest, arose c among other priests that resulted in the death of those who opposed Aaron (Numbers 16:25-35). His sons took possession of the censers of the dead priests.

As can be seen Aaron was far from perfect. He was sometimes weak and cowardly, and other times he was over-zealous and cantankerous. Yet, within him he also had a fiery passion for his God and he never ceased to serve, even when finding himself in the wrong. Like all human beings, he was broken and sinful; however, he was redeemed by the One he devoted his life to and, in the end, his legacy was the establishment of the Aaronites, who along with the Levites, went on to shape the worship life of the Israelites.

As can be seen, it does not take perfection to be redeemed, it takes a humble willingness to be perfected by the love and grace of God. Aaron was not loved by God because he always got it right. He wasn’t redeemed because he was an icon of perfection; rather, Aaron was loved by God for who he was (flaws and all), and he was redeemed because God LOVED him and because Aaron was willing to be loved (and perfected) by God. This is true for all of us. Let us, despite our flaws, humble ourselves and devote ourselves to the love of God our Creator, God our Redeemer, and God our Sustainer.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.” – Morihei Ueshiba

PRAYER
Lord, humble me and fill me with a fiery passion to serve you and devote my life in your service. Produce in me, Lord, a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.

A LOOK BACK: Out of the Chaos

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.