May 1 – Contrast chapter 5 of today’s scripture reading to the results (chapter 6) of the chosen method of transporting the ark. In chapter 5, David is in full communication with God. Verse 5:25 says “David did as the Lord had commanded him” and he had victory over the Philistines. What happened between chapters 5 and 6? Referring to your favorite scriptural timeline, you discover that the time span was a mere three years. During this time of ruling over Israel, David had apparently lost his close connection to the God who put him in that position.
May 2 – Did you notice that these scriptures have an extremely negative tone? Face it, our society seems to thrive on negativity and making ourselves feel better at the expense of others. Take a look at whatever reality show is popular on television. David created his own media-quality soap opera with Bethsheba, and God called him on it. David asked forgiveness and God gave it (verse 51:12). David was forgiven, but was that the end of the story? Certainly not. Sin has consequences and David’s sins and parenting approach led to the many consequences seen over the next years of David’s life.
May 3 – There is a statement made in verse 35:16 which seems to be totally opposite of the truths contained in the book of Job – “Job uselessly opens his mouth and multiplies words without knowledge.” Those who have knowledge of the scriptures will understand the absurdity of this statement. Job knows the absolute lack of truth, yet he lets the “friends” continue until it is his turn to talk. There is a book named “Gung Ho!” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles in which one of the characters “waits for the silence to end” before speaking. Think about it, this gives you time to listen, process what has been said, and consider an appropriate reply. I like to think this was also Job’s approach.
May 4 – In chapter 28 we have heard from a false prophet who says that within two years the Israelites will be free from the king of Babylon. We also see that this is a false prophesy that is not from God. Verse 31, however, is the Word of the Lord through Jeremiah. The Israelites who “survived the sword” are told “Again I will build you and you will be built.” Discuss the difference between the false prophecy and that of Jeremiah.
May 5 – Do you recall hearing the phrase “I plead the fifth?” This is a reference to the fifth amendment and the right that it gives to avoid self-incrimination. In the beginning of Mark 15 Jesus is being questioned. The only question that he answers is in regards to His being the King of the Jews. He remained quiet as the chief priests kept heaping additional charges on Him. How would you respond in this situation? Those who have been ordered to deny God or die would seem to have decided, as Jesus did, to leave the situation in the hands of God whom they know can overcome any situation.
May 6 – What does the phrase “while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord” (verse 5:6) mean to you? One way that it could be taken is that presence on earth is absence from God. We who have accepted Christ know that is not the case. By taking the scripture out of context, it could certainly be understood this way. The next verse says that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” This verse and those that follow bring the true meaning to light.
May 7 – Old Testament Justice. Some may compare these words to the practices of Sharia Law. Imagine if Sharia law as applied in the life of Abraham. Remember that Abraham bargained with God in Genesis 18, he would have been slaughtered under Sharia Law. How about Jonah and his attempt to run from God? How do you think the purveyors of Sharia Law would have received such an act? Fortunately, we serve a loving God who forgives us in our humanity.
May 8 – Here is an interesting question for you – have you ever played team sports? You know, a game where five, seven or more people will work together for the common goal of winning a game. That is basically what we are seeing in chapter 10. Although there were two groups of warriors led by Joab and Abishai, they were committed to using all of their resources for the best winning advantage. Verses 9-12 lay out the plan of ensuring a team victory against the Syrians and Ammonites.
May 9 – How many times have you heard the saying “If you have God, you are never alone?” David, of all people, seems to understand that. He has been in a position many times in his life where someone is taunting or hunting him. David had a reason to feel all alone, yet he says “On God I will lean, rely, and confidently put my trust.” We can know that David is definitely not delusional. He knows that he has sinned and will have to accept the consequences of that sin. He also knows that he has received God’s forgiveness, love, and forever presence.
May 10 – Have you ever wondered about the source of Job’s patience and ability to “bite his tongue?” We get to specific points in Job’s trial that we want to speak up for him at that moment, yet he remains silent and allows his friends to continue. One of those points comes at verse 37:14 where Elihu says “stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” At this point, I want to jump up and down while screaming back at the guy that Job has been doing that the whole time. Job is able to avoid that reaction due to God’s Holy presence in his life.
May 11 – Think hard about a single word that could best describe these chapters in Jeremiah. You may come up with words such as finicky, war or even confused. The best adjective for these chapters, in my opinion, is faith. Jeremiah has the faith to follow God’s leading and purchase a field that will be overtaken by the Chaldeans. Jeremiah has enough faith to know that God’s Will is going to happen and he is glad to be able to play such an important part.
May 12 – What do you think of the practice of casting lots to determine the will of God? Is this a gamble, game of chance or a truly joyous opportunity to discern the will of God? If you look at John 19:23, the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothes. Was this the will of God? Are you sure that you are ready for that answer? Certainly. Casting lots for the clothes of Jesus was prophesied by David in Psalm 22:18. No, casting lots was not always used to determine God’s Will, but that is the method used by the priests.
May 13 – Two phrases from chapter 6 should stand out to you – “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” and “What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial?” Think about these and discuss their meaning. Are they specifically referring to marriage? Many may think so, but if you look at the purpose of a yoke, you may decide that Christians should not work with unbelievers. An even better explanation, to me, would refer to unbelievers and Christians working toward the same faith goal. That can never happen!
May 14 – What sacred items and sacraments are used in your church rituals? Do you disagree with calling the sacraments of the church rituals? That’s fine, but Hebrews 9 called the duties of the priests ritual duties. It seems that traditions, ceremonies and sacraments all refer to religious rituals in scripture. Pentecostals and Catholics have their own set of traditions, as do Baptists. We consider these rituals to be as sacred as the temple and its adornments mentioned in today’s reading.
May 15 – Let’s consider a question – after all that David had done throughout his life, after all of the people that he had hurt or killed, was God still with him at this time? Before answering that, read verse 18:7 again – “Absalom’s men of Israel were defeated by the servants of David, and there was a great slaughter … of 20,000 men.” It certainly sounds like God was still there for David, just as He is there for us regardless of what we may have done in this life.
May 16 – How much thought have you given to the poison that the world seems quite content to spread and inject into everyone’s lives? “Their poison is like the venom of a serpent.” Think about some of the things that are popular in society. What is the focus of these things? You can take comfort in the fact that these fad items will be “as a snail dissolving slime as it passes on.” The one thing that we can feel and believe in, always and forever, is God’s presence and comfort.
May 17 – Let’s take the “power of science” focus into reality. It is true that scientists can take a sperm and egg, created by one of God’s creatures, and unite them in a petri dish to initiate life. Next, they will have to implant the fertilized egg back into the female so that it can grow. Scientists can even build bacteria from scratch and call that “synthetic life.” What they cannot do is create the initial sperm and egg. What scientific discoveries have improved your life?
May 18 – Let’s discuss a question that is truly applicable in today’s society – “Can God turn this world around?” Did this question come to your mind as you read chapter 40? Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian captain of the guard, said to Jeremiah “The Lord your God pronounced evil upon this place.” If God can have this effect on a Babylonian, we know that all things are possible. God’s people are never without hope.
May 19 – Why so many references in scripture to stones? Luke 3:8 says that God can raise up descendants from Abraham through the stones. Later Jesus says that if the people don’t praise Him, the stones will cry out. Consider this – if you are from a farming family, you will understand agricultural examples. If your family has generally been mechanics, you “get” engine and mechanical references. Luke was talking to people of the desert who made a living off the land. He used things they knew to get the point across.
May 20 – What do you believe is the meaning of the word “abundance” in verse 9:8? Is it referring to a wealth of earthly things? Unending grace? Keep in mind that the writings to the Corinthians are in New Testament Times, Jesus has died on the cross and risen again, the Holy Spirit is present with God’s people as the Comforter. We know and understand this, but the people back then had trouble sticking to God’s leading. Wait a minute, maybe we are not so different from the Corinthians!
May 21 – How important is it to follow God’s guidance exactly as it is given? Have you every truly felt God’s calling but moved forward in the way that you wanted to go? Verse 30:4 tells the priests exactly how they should transport the ark (carried between two poles). In a previous reading (May 1) you read of the method that David chose to use for moving the ark and the result when Uzzah lost his life. Yes, it is truly important to follow God’s leading exactly!
May 22 – Think back into your past, probably not too far. Have you done things that you thought were Spirit-led at the time, but later realized your error and asked for God’s forgiveness? You are not too different from David in this respect. In chapter 24 we see that he took a census in order that he would know how many Israelites there were. Even though Joab advised against it, David still ordered that it be done. Afterwards, “David’s heart smote him” and he was forgiven, although he had to accept the consequences of his sin.
May 23 – Overwhelmed with the troubles of this world? David often had this feeling. It sounds like today’s scripture in Psalms may be related to yesterday’s in 2 Samuel. In yesterday’s scriptures, it was not the troubles of the world, but the troubles that David had created that were overwhelming. He had a choice between seven years of famine, three years of fleeing from his enemies or three days of pestilence. David chose the pestilence. The consequence of this sin was the loss of 70,000 lives.
May 24 – We have now finished Job. We are at the other end of the spectrum of responsibilities compared to the previous two days of scripture. Job had lived a righteous life, yet Satan was allowed to take everything from him other than his life. David’s sins had consequences, while Job’s continuous righteousness and ability to weather the storms of life had benefits. You have learned of those benefits in today’s reading. What benefits have been cast upon you because of following God in prayer?
May 25 – In chapter 46, God is against Egypt and says “Fear not … for I am with you.” For an interesting adventure in scripture study, you may want to find out how many times in the Bible that God has been against Israel versus the number of times that He has defeated their enemies. Here are a couple of questions to keep in mind while searching for the answers. Will the references exist mainly in the Old Testament? What theme do you find in the book of Revelation that trumps all other trials and tribulations?
May 26 – Imagine this scenario, you witness the leader of your country blatantly breaking a law that is known to everyone in the land. You muster up the courage to ask why he or she is doing what is not permitted. The reply is “As your leader, I am exempt from this feeble law.” That is somewhat similar to the response of Jesus, yet His words have a much stronger meaning. Man had imposed laws on the Sabbath which even prohibited saving lives, while God’s Will should be followed regardless of laws that man has put in place.
May 27 – Since we have discussed the “topper” personality, have you ever known someone who would rarely, if ever, listen to the advice of professionals? This is the type of person who will argue and disagree with anything, even after proof is shown. This type of person will say that the doctor is being overly cautious when he is told not to drive because clogged arteries are causing strokes, and then endanger the lives of others with that driving. Verse 11:19, “For you readily and gladly bear with the foolish, since you are so smart and wise yourselves!,” seems to read as a sarcastic statement that Paul is making toward his Corinthian readers. He is saying, basically, “you are too smart for your britches.”
May 28 – Here is a quiz, as quickly and accurately as possible name off the ten commandments. There are only ten, go for it. How did you do? Turn to Exodus 20 and verify your feeling of accomplishment. Did you notice something quite similar between the fourth commandment and your scripture reading today? Exodus 35 expands well on the day of rest and all that is to be accomplished throughout the day. It gives details of the offerings to be given to God. Is the Sabbath a day of rest for the priests? Is it for our pastors?
May 29 – In today’s scripture, you have read about Solomon. How much do you know about him? We know that he asked God for wisdom. Verse 4:32 says that he wrote 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs (Psalms). He was “wiser than all other men.” It is obvious that he followed and worshipped God, so why did he forsake the command that “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you?” That question has a simple answer – sin and lust. The simple solution is repentance. Why do we humans have to make things so hard?
May 30 – Do you know someone who seems to have two different personalities? This person may behave a certain way around parents and other adults while behaving with an approach and belief system at the opposite end of the spectrum when around friends. This person would be the type to think, and even possibly say “Who will ever find out?” We know that God is always watching. Those who have been raised in a Christian home know this also, although they may deny it for many years or decades.
May 31 – As parents, we long for our children to finally mature into the Christians that we know God has destined them to be. Some struggle against God and eventually accept Him while others continue to run in the opposite direction and cling to any alternate belief systems that they can find. All of this happens while “wisdom cries aloud in the streets.” The wisdom is available from God’s people and so are the prayers, yet human free will reigns and refuses to accept God’s call. Free will has led to the down fall of man since the time of Adam and Eve.