July 1 – Have you experienced controversy in your church centered around the pastor? It may be something that a majority is in agreement with and there is just something there that you disagree with. We are called to follow God’s leading – if you truly believe that the events are against God, seek out a church that is more aligned with His Will. Of course, if this is God’s Will, you should pray for the ability to change your own feelings in order to follow Him.
July 2 – What are your responsibilities in church? Maybe you are treasurer, secretary, or maybe you “only” cut the grass. There is no minor job in God’s service. The most important job is given in verse 10:11 – “You are to teach the Israelites all of the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.” Now that we are in New Testament times, we would phrase this important job description as “teach God’s children of the love and grace of God.”
July 3 – Let’s consider a phenomenon presented in chapter 3 and many other scriptures – the good king, bad king cycle. Israel demanded a king over them instead of a theocracy. God respected their free will and granted this request. Maybe they should have thought a little more before being so demanding! Do we have the good ruler, bad ruler dilemma in our country? We certainly seem to in the United States. Of course, the ultimate solution for any leader is prayer – by the leader and by the people for the leader. That belief certainly seems to be held my a shrinking minority.
July 4 – Here is a statement that you have hopefully heard and believe in wholeheartedly – God will never leave nor forsake His people. We who know Him will believe this statement and rely on Him for guidance and provision. We can no longer pray in schools? That is okay, we can still pray at school events. We can’t pray there any longer, regardless of who leads it? That is okay, we can still open government meetings in prayer. Can’t do that anymore? Government can legislate things as long as they do not violate God’s law. Where are His people while these things happen?
July 5 – As you have read, these two chapters are about wisdom. We read such statements as “By me [wisdom] princes rule and nobles, even all of the judges and governors of the earth.” Does this statement apply in today’s society? Do you believe that all of our rulers, worldwide, rule with wisdom? Did Saddam Hussein or Mussolini rule with wisdom? Do your local and federal officials rule with wisdom? Do they inquire of God before making decisions?
July 6 – What version of scripture are you reading this year? If you are reading Amplified Classic (AMPC), you will notice that Ezekiel 19 assigns names to the prophecies that it is making. We begin with Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13-14), move on to Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24-25) and finish with prophecies about Zedekiah (2 Kings 24-25), the last king of Israel. Discuss the lives of these kings and how the prophecy descriptions fit with their actions.
July 7 – How often have you heard Jesus speak of the end times and His return? If you read Luke 17 today, you can answer with “at least twice.” At the end of this chapter, Jesus is describing the rapture and the disciples ask “where, Lord?” It certainly sounds like His answer is a much shortened version of “you can know the season, or when the time is nearing, but nobody knows the day or the hour.” Do you agree with that interpretation of 37b?
July 8 – Jesus’ return is happening soon! Do you believe this? We are called to live as if He is returning in the next minute, day or year. The fact is that nobody knows when the return of Jesus will happen. We know that it will happen, because scripture says it will. We can also be sure that each day brings us closer to the day of His return. If you have not accepted His sacrifice or know someone who says “I will do it tomorrow,” be sure to realize the sense of urgency since there may not be a tomorrow.
July 9 – Even during scriptural times, the spread of disease was a concern and the approach to prevent the spread was well defined and effective. Face it, if nobody can come into contact with someone who is physically sick, there is no way that it can spread. If the clothes that have come into contact with a sick person have to be washed, set apart and examined, the disease will not spread. God already knew, of course, what medical science had to discover through trial and error.
July 10 – Have you heard a speaker or pastor take a few verses completely out of the intended context? It seems that could be an easy thing with chapter 8 of today’s scripture reading. Chapter 10 seems to inject a contradiction by God’s prophet. He tells the servant to inform the Syrian king that he will recover, although the Lord has revealed that he will die. Contradiction? Not at all, if you continue reading through verse 15. The king recovered from the disease, yet the servant killed him. The Holy Scriptures are Truth and can therefore have no contradiction.
July 11 – Here is something which you may want to deeply consider – do you believe that God has given up on us? According to Psalm 81:11, it certainly sounds like He had given up on His Israelite people. Temporarily, at least. That was during Old Testament times where they had specific sacrifices and rituals to follow. Has God given up on us? He sent His Son as a testament that He would never forsake His people. Once Jesus returns to take His people from this earth, then God has given up on those who remain. Until then, His people can rest assured in their faith.
July 12 – Did you see yourself included in many of these verses? Hopefully so, there were many mentions of the “[uncompromisingly] righteous” and “[consistently] righteous.” These scriptures seem to be dominated with the condemnation of those who are wicked, foolish and in need of correction. Maybe Proverbs 10 is an accurate fit with the majority in society today who seem to condemn anything relating to Christianity.
July 13 – Think about the leaders around the world who have declared themselves equivalent to God. We have mentioned Egypt and their Pharaohs today. Japanese, Chinese and Roman Emperors also come to mind. What happened to these men who would dare to declare themselves gods? They were human, so they died of course. There is only one who is equivalent to God and He still reigns on the throne today – Jesus Christ.
July 14 – Why was there a problem with Jesus eating at the home of a tax collector? Why was there a problem because a “woman of ill repute” washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair and rubbing them with perfume? In Matthew 9:12 Jesus says that only the sick need a doctor (paraphrased). He practiced this all of his life by providing for those who were sick in sin. Doctor Jesus has the solution to all of our problems if only we would bring them to Him.
July 15 – Have you ever been in debt? It is likely if you have ever purchased a house, or maybe even a vehicle. Colossians 2:14 says that God has “cancelled and blotted out and wiped away” the note with its legal decrees. If we take this out of context, we may be able to support the prosperity theology that some insist upon. Notice, though, that the bonds of sin, world principalities and powers have been eradicated. We are God’s, but He never promised us a rose garden until we get to Heaven.
July 16 – Today we have read that the High Priest, and only he, could enter the Holy of Holies. You may have made discoveries which indicated that he had a rope tied around his ankle or a sash with bells on it so that he could be dragged out if he died. There is no scriptural proof for this idea. Think about it, since God has control over life, death and nature, the High Priest could be taken up in a whirlwind just like Elijah.
July 17 – Let’s go into the land of imagination for a brief moment. A new President is elected. Among all of the fanfare of the reign being handed over, we see that he or she is given a well-worn book. This single book contains the law of the land which the President is sworn to uphold and the people are committed to following. That is basically what happened in verse 11:12 of today’s scripture reading – the king was crowned and she gave him the Mosaic Law.
July 18 – Transgressions. How many have occurred in your life in the past year? Only two or three? Well, you must be living a life that is extremely close to God. Most of us know God’s Word, yet we still sin. We also know when we have sinned and ask God for forgiveness. Regardless of how many times or what type of sin, it is forgiven and we are still in God’s family. A God who can forgive David and still call him “a man after God’s own heart” loves and cares for His people.
July 19 – Were you raised in a farming family? That was a tough life – up at dawn to feed the animals, eat a hearty breakfast and head out into the fields. Four or five hours later you would sit in the shade and eat a quick lunch before heading back to the assigned task of the day – picking beans or tobacco, maybe pulling up sweet potatoes. At the end of the day, you are extremely tired but know that you have had a solid day’s work. That is an extended version of verse 12:14, which says “the work of a man’s hands shall come back to him [as a harvest].”
July 20 – Think of all of the ethnic cleansing that is going on in the world today. Those who are pushing for it are rejoicing over the killing of many thousands just because they were born into a certain race or family. Is that practice entirely different from what we read in Ezekiel 35 today? Verse 35:15 says “As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel because it was desolate, so will I deal with you.” God is still watching and caring for His people. We can be certain that, in the end, God wins.
July 21 – Let’s ponder on something for a minute or two – are you afraid of witnessing to the lost? If so, why? I will admit that, as an introvert, I had rather have a computer between myself and others. I shouldn’t be afraid that I will freeze at the exact moment that someone is ready for a life-changing scripture quote. Luke 21:15 says “I [myself] will give you a mouth and such utterance and wisdom.” God provides when we ask in prayer.
July 22 – Do you have a specific task in passing along God’s Word? Do you have a unique approach or view that may help others to understand its meaning? Notice that at the closing of this book, it is mentioned that the people should pass this letter to the Loadicean church and read the letter written to that church. God’s Word is meant to be spread into other communities, countries and languages. It could be your unique understanding that enables others to understand and accept.
July 23 – Have you experienced a death in your family? Was it a mother, brother or sister? Was it the death of a spouse? According to Old Testament law, a priest could only defile himself by touching a dead body if it was a blood relation. His wife of 600 years may have died, yet the priest is unable to touch her from the moment of her final breath being taken. This is an example of the strict laws adhered to by the Old Testament saints. A bit strict?
July 24 – Here is a test – what does it mean when verse 17:5 says that Samaria was besieged for three years? Did they throw a three-year long party? Imagine this situation, you are in your small town and nothing can come in or go out from the town. Once all of the food is consumed and the livestock has been killed and eaten, what do you do next. The horrible things that people will do to each other would be unthinkable to most normal humans in normal circumstances. Yes, this would be a feeble attempt at illustrating what the citizens of Samaria went through.
July 25 – Have you ever experienced God’s fierce wrath and His terrors? Have you experienced trials similar to those that Heman has described in today’s scripture reading? We can be quite certain that answer would be a solid NO. We are living in the New Testament era of grace. God’s wrath and terror was cast upon His Son on the cross.
July 26 – Look at the world around you. Does it seem like the bad guys always win? We can go back to the cross to illustrate this situation. The priests were not supposed to be “the bad guys,” yet they played a crucial part in the crucifixion of Jesus. They certainly played the bad guy part quite well, or did they? Isaiah prophesied the death of Jesus. God had a plan for His son from the time of Genesis. If the chief priests had not played this part in history, someone else would.
July 27 – Because of His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus sits at the right hand of God as our intercessor … accept and believe this with all of your heart, mind, and soul. Do you wholeheartedly believe this? Do you spread the joy of God to everyone you meet? Depending on your individual personality, that may be a hard thing to do. Of course, if you truly love the lost person that you may be thinking of right now, you can step outside of your comfort zone.
July 28 – Let’s discuss the human ability to misunderstand things. Do you recall hearing the advertising mantra that it takes three times of hearing about something in order to gain your attention? I am sure that the women and the disciples had heard that Jesus would rise from the dead more than three times, yet they still didn’t understand. Paul had an awakening “2×4 experience” and the disciples had Pentecost. What spiritual situation caused your awakening?
July 29 – Chapter 3:8 truly says it all – “Because now we [really] live, if you stand [firm] in the Lord.” It seems that a belief in God is the only way to make it through this life. We have trials that carry us to a depth that can only be conquered by God Himself. Think of it this way – if you stack a few books together (your trials), they are likely to fall over. God is big and powerful enough to provide the bookends to sturdy and straighten anybody and anything that is given over to Him.
July 30 – It is not a coincidence that the situation following the rules surrounding the showbread regards someone who had cursed God. Could there be anything worse than cursing God by abusing His Holy sacraments? This says a lot about David and his men eating the holy showbread and connects well to Jesus’ statement (Mark 2) that “The Sabbath was made on account and for the sake of man, not man for the Sabbath.”
July 31 – Free will has been tossed out quite a bit here and there are quite liberal definitions of free will. Some will consider free will only in the context of spiritual choice, while others will apply “free will” to the ability to make any decisions in your life. As you can tell, I believe in the latter application of this phrase. Do you believe in free will? If so, where does your application of that phrase fit into life?