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Aug 1 – Have you ever tended a greenhouse or outside garden? If it was outside, I am sure that you have dealt with mice, rabbits and other outside creatures who want to make a meal of your beautiful flowers. Think about these quotes from Psalm 92 – “The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree,” ”they shall flourish in the courts of our God,” “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.” We will grow and flourish with God.

Aug 2 – Did you know that the Bible addresses atheism? Well, not directly, but verse 14:9 certainly seems to fit quite well. “Fools make a mock of sin and sin mocks the fools.” We who know God would call those who refuse His existence fools, while they would call us foolish and naïve for believing in what we can’t feel and touch. I will agree that I have done some foolish things in my life, but accepting Jesus was not one of them.

Aug 3 – Now is a good time to ponder on the concept of exclusion. Who was verse 44:5 speaking of when it refers to “those who are excluded from the sanctuary?” Add to that the question “Are any excluded from God’s House?” We can search the scriptures and name the people completely excluded from the temple and those not allowed to enter specific areas. To find the answer to the second question we should turn to I Timothy 2:4.

Aug 4 – Have you ever wondered why John sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One to come? John confessed that he was unworthy to even unlace the sandals of Jesus. John 1:8 says “he was not the light himself” (speaking of John). So why did John’s disciples come to Jesus to ask such a question? Could it be because of the human tendency to doubt? Could it be due to the ease of which people can forget things? Interesting ponderings …

Aug 5 – How many times in life have you felt that there was no hope? Nobody cares about poor little old me? I can easily understand someone who is without God feeling such distress, but we have a God of Hope. He is watching over us wherever we go, even to the depths of Sheol (Hell, Psalm 139:8) As verse 5:16 says, “Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually.”

Aug 6 – Starting with verse 26:14, we have a “but if” statement. If you will not worship God, if you spurn and despise His statutes, God will set His face against you and the experience will be sudden terror, consumption and fever to make your life pine away. Yes, this is a statement from God of the Old Testament. Does this condemnation apply to those who refuse to accept Jesus in today’s society?

Aug 7 – Discuss the sins of David. Also discuss the consequences of those sins. Do you know people who have committed their lives to God and lived many years in His service? Some of these same people may have dies of cancer, cirrhosis of the liver or some other disease which was caused by previous sin. God heals the heart, soul and mind, but we have to deal with the consequences of our sins, just as David had to do.

Aug 8 – God sent His Son to die on the cross for everyone because He is a loving God. Those who choose to accept the gift of salvation have chosen eternal life with God. Why do some seem so set on depriving Christians of the ability to worship God and spread His Word? Maybe it is because they can’t stand seeing someone who is able to be happy and content with something beyond money, physical presence and even beyond human explanation.

Aug 9 – Have you heard the advice that you should kill your enemies with kindness? Did you ever wonder where some of the old adages came from? In reading verse 16:7, I thought of that phrase. The verse says “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He (notice the capital H, Amplified version) makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” When you have peace that passes all understanding, it is hard to be mad at anyone or generate dislikes from others.

Aug 10 – With all of the focus of today’s society on healthy eating, do you find it surprising that none was found like these four men? There was a major difference between the diet that they were on and the diets of today. What is that difference? They were eating according to Jewish law. They were eating according to God’s commandment. When God is in something, it cannot go wrong.

Aug 11 – Did verse 3:25 leave you wondering how it is connected to the set of events that follow it? Why would a controversy between John’s disciples and “a Jew” about purification lead to a discussion with John about Jesus baptizing? We can be sure that there is a connection between these two things. Discovery of the meaning of that connection can probably unfold great spiritual wisdom. Discuss this and search for great wisdom in God’s Word.

Aug 12 – How many ministers do you know who have been in ministry for many decades? Have you ever known of a weariness in their lives as they were serving in God’s plan? Here is a great revelation of knowledge – we are human. In our humanity, we still fall short of the perfection in Christ that we are striving for. God provides support throughout all of life with words such as those of verse 3:13, “do not become weary or lose heart in doing right.”

Aug 13 – Have you ever considered the requirement that every firstborn male be consecrated to God (Exodus 13:2)? What, exactly, could that mean? Maybe prior to 1445BC (approximate date of today’s scripture), it meant providing for the needs of the priests and attending to the tabernacle. In place of the Israelites’ first born sons, God takes the sons of Aaron (Levites) as His own. Was this the first record of being born into the family business?

Aug 14 – Imagine if you were able to trace your heritage back to the Mayflower or beyond. You could say “this was my (number of greats) grandfather and he fought in the civil war” or “this was my (great…) grandmother who helped Betsy Ross create our first flag.” It is likely that we all have greatness somewhere along our heritage. Does that mean anything to our own salvation? Not at all. I am responsible for myself and my decisions, as you are also. We can’t lean on our forefathers for deliverance from sin.

Aug 15 – How often do you read different versions of scripture? Do you consider one translation to be as accurate as another? There are some who believe that KJV is the only “real” Bible and all others are blasphemous. The fact is that all are translations and may lose true accuracy in the interpretation of specific words. The main thing that counts in choosing a specific translation is how well you can understand God’s Word as it was intended for you.

Aug 16 – We know that the repetition of words and phrases indicates their importance. In the first seven verses of chapter 18, we read guidance against becoming a “[self-confident] fool.” Have you met people who live up to the description in verse 2? I would consider this person to have a “topper” mentality. The other two verses relate the words of a self-confident fool to contention and a “snare to himself.” If we are honest in our ponderings, we can probably relate this description to our own lives at some point in time.

Aug 17 – Would you like to uncover some geographical relationships between the scriptures and modern-day happenings? Look at the news and the events in the world today! In the year 2016, and for many years prior, there have been wars in Syria, news about things happening in Egypt, and continual details about the Palestinians and Israelis in conflict. Have the sins and the people of the world really changed greatly since scriptural times?

Aug 18 – Have you ever wondered how a Christian can be so calm in the face of terminal illness and impending death? We have an answer to that question directly from Jesus in verse 5:24 – “he has already passed over out of death and into life.” We, as Christians understand and believe this about other Christians. It is often from the unbeliever that you will hear questions such as the one posed above. We possess the “peace that passeth all understanding.”

Aug 19 – Let’s consider a question you may consider patriotic or a personal infraction – in chapter 1:7, did those words sound somewhat applicable in your government? They are ambitious to be teachers of the law, but have no understanding. This could certainly be applied to many of the lawmakers in U.S. government. We need to remember that God knew the Israelites and our leaders before they were born. Prayer to God is the only solution for many problems.

Aug 20 – Did you know that it is easy to misunderstand scripture? For instance, I used to wonder why they sacrificed so many animals and what happened to the afterward. The answer to that question was in Numbers 5, I just wasn’t experienced enough to find it at that time – the sacrifices offered to the priest are his. What happened to the animals sacrificed? The priests ate them. God doesn’t waste a single morsel. For proof of this look at the feeding of the 5,000.

Aug 21 – Have you served in the military? If so, you should very well know loyalty and discipline. If your commanding officer said that he was thirsty and would like a drink from the spring on the other side of enemy territory, would you have broken through and brought back a full canteen for him? That would be an extremely dangerous thing to do, but three of David’s men did just that – they broke through the Philistine camp to bring David water from the well.

Aug 22 – Paul was one of the greatest witnesses in scriptural times, so how can we expect to succeed in an area where he failed? There is no answer other than “by God’s Will.” When we follow God’s Will for our lives, anything can happen regardless of how great it may seem. During your next (or current) trial, remind yourself in prayer every day of the greatness and power of God.

Aug 23 – Let’s play with some word groups and talk about what image they bring to mind – pride and self-confidence. Now think about slothfulness and sluggard. Did the first set of words bring out positive thoughts while the last two made you think of a “lazy bum?” All four of these words are negative words when they function to distract our focus from God. A prideful and/or self-confident person could be quite content to proceed in life without God. Thoughts?

Aug 24 – Do you know people who believe that they can hide from God? That is what Adam and Eve tried to do when they realized they were naked, so this idea is as old as mankind. In verse 5:3, God says “I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me.” God is omniscient, so why do we try to hide from Him? Why do we thing that we can think or feel a certain way and God will not know or care. God cares for all of His flock and even those “other sheep.” (John 10:16)

Aug 25 – Have you been flabbergasted at how fickle the human nature can be? During the short time span of five verses (15 – 20), the people have gone from astonished that Jesus had such knowledge to accusation of being possessed by a demon. Need another volatility example? The Jews praised Jesus and placed palm branches along His donkey ride into Jerusalem and then cried “give us Barabbas” in calling for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Aug 26 – In today’s scripture reading we have a charge, or commission – we should be “without reproach and blameless.” Can you honestly claim to be living up to this challenge? I can claim to try every day, but I also have to admit failure at some point most days. Does that failure mean that I am any less loved by God? Definitely not. He knew that nobody on earth can be perfect besides Jesus, and He loves us anyway.

Aug 27 – How many parts (holy things) of the sanctuary were required to be carried on the shoulders by the sons of Kohath? You probably recall the commands regarding the transportation of the ark of God. You may even recall the details given for taking down the sanctuary. Can the question be answered with a solid number? Maybe the number can be uncovered by those well studied in scripture by counting the articles with “rings for carrying.”

Aug 28 – The final verse in chapter 15 of today’s scripture reading has always bothered me. Why did Michal, Saul’s wife, despise him just because he was leaping in joy over the ark of the covenant being delivered to Israel? Okay, she was human. Maybe she was just having a bad day. Maybe David’s kingly duties had caused him to neglect her. It should not be a jealousy over God, she was the daughter of Ahimaaz (she was Jewish herself). Ideas?

Aug 29 – How often do you stop to consider all of God’s blessings in your life and thank Him for them? Can you name every one? I know that I couldn’t accomplish that feat. One reason is that I am certain that I don’t even realize many of the blessings that God sends my way. Think about it. We recognize miracles such as the sunrise and a new baby being born. Do we notice and thank God for miracles as small as food on the table or transportation to get to work?

Aug 30 – Can you say “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” No, I am not asking this question, Solomon asks it in verse 20:9. I would hope that your immediate answer would be a solid NO. If you read the question as it is stated, it sounds like you are able to take credit for a clean, pure heart. You can take the credit for the final decision to trust in God, but the cleansing is only by God’s grace and mercy.

Aug 31 – How many time have you read about Beth-Aven in scripture? Did you ever consider the meaning of this name? If you read verse 10:8 in the Amplified version, you will realize that Beth-Aven was originally named Bethel, which means House of God. After so many sins of Israel, the city named “House of God” was renamed to “house of idolatry” (Beth-Aven).