Saul, David, Life of Christ, and the Holy Land

I have paused my blog writing for the month of February so I wanted to give you a quick update. I am simply taking some time to study and spend time in Scripture to learn what God is speaking to me.  I have been studying 1 Samuel, one of my favorite books of the Bible whose primary characters are the prophet Samuel, the Israelites’ first king, Saul, and David, and have learned so much in just the first 20 chapters.  Here are a few things I’ve learned or about which I’ve been reminded:

  • Sometimes God will give us what we cry out for even if it’s not in our best interest in order to demonstrate his glory and sovereignty.

  • Do not be wise in your own eyes.

  • Serve God faithfully and always consider the great things he has done for you.

  • Seek first the Lord.

  • Sin is a barrier between us and God.

  • Obedience is better than sacrifice.

  • The Lord looks not at the outside, but at the heart of a person.

The other thing I’ve been doing of late is studying the four gospels as part of a seminary course called The Gospels: Life of Christ.  To list out every detail of what has happened in my soul and mind as I’ve studied the gospels would take too long, but I can say for sure I love Jesus more and more each day.

Today I leave for a one-week trip to the Middle East and will walk in many of the places Jesus walked and touch the earth that Jesus’ body touched.  My heart is open and my mind is ready to engage in a week of learning what it means to be one who seeks peace.  I would love your prayers!

“Seek peace and pursue it.”  Psalm 34:14

Daily December Devotional — Day 21

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 2:1-5:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

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.

Caesar Augustus was the first emperor of Rome and ruled from 27 B.C. until 14 A.D. A census was taken in order to effectively tax all those living in the Roman Empire. Scholars believe Quirinius was in office for two terms – 6-4 B.C. and 6-9 A.D – and a census was taken during each. The prophet Micah prophesied that the Messiah would come out of Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) The prophet Jeremiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from the line of David. (Jeremiah 23:5) Bethlehem was about 80 miles south of Nazareth.

Today’s Questions:

Does the historical context that Luke gives hold any importance to you as you read this passage?

Consider what it would have been like for Mary and Joseph to travel 80 miles by foot and/or donkey in order to take part in the census. What would your response to such a directive have been? How would you have felt as you walked 80 miles?

Where would your thoughts take you as you walked mile upon mile, knowing that the child you were expecting was the long-awaited Messiah? What kinds of fears? Doubts?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for the reminder that this is not a fairy tale, but that it happened in a real place, during a real time. Help me to remember, God, that Jesus was born into this very world that I live in, the same earth, the same sun and moon and stars. Help me to remember that Jesus is not a concept, a set of rules, a made-up character. Jesus happened in history and you used two human beings with hands and feet and fear like mine to carry out your purposes. I pray, Lord, that you would strengthen me for the assignment you have for me, that I can exercise strong faith and unbending trust to do everything you ask of me. Use my hands, my feet. Allay my fears. Settle my doubts. Rid me of my selfishness. Oh, Father, use me for your purposes in this world.

Daily December Devotional — Day 12

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Today’s Verses:

Jeremiah 23:5-6

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.

In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The LORD Our Righteous Savior.”

Today’s Questions:

What must it have been like for Joseph and Mary, who had spent their lives hearing these words of Jeremiah recited over and over from the time they were small children, to learn that they were going to have a son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, who would save his people from their sins?

What do you think the Israelites believed their promised king would save them from?

In a typical day, do you give more thought to your need to be saved from your external circumstances or your need to be saved from the darkness, lust, greed, judgment, or self-centeredness in your own heart?

Today’s Prayer:

Lord God, thank you for your righteousness. Thank you that you came to save me and make me clean. Thank you that you came down low, and were then raised up as King. What amazing love you have for me that you would intervene in this way! Help me to remember that what you seek to transform is my heart. My circumstances will come and go, but the person you are making me through my circumstances will live with you forever. Please don’t stop conforming me into the image of Christ.