1 Out of 10


Poetry: Psalm 117

Old Testament: Ruth Intro below

(and I forgot to include Judges 21 yesterday, so you can finish that up today)

The story of the ten lepers is familiar to many of us. Luke 17:11-21 is often included in youth Sunday School lessons as a powerful tale of healing and to give thanksgiving. In the parable, we read about the ten men who were cleansed but learn that only one returned to give thanks to Jesus. Often, we use this parable to teach young children about the importance of giving thanks.

Though like many, I learned this tale in my youth, it wasn’t until my adulthood that I more fully understood the need for thanksgiving. Verses 15-16 of this parable are what jump out at me as an adult. “Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.”

It’s interesting to me that it’s specifically pointed out that the man who returned to give thanks was a Samaritan. This man had a double whammy in society! First, he had leprosy and would have been kept apart from others. Secondly, he was a Samaritan, considered less than desirable among people of Jesus’ time. In that simple phrase at the end of verse 16, we see yet again that Jesus’ ministry sought out and served the marginalized people. Healing and grace was for all people, not just an elite few.

That phrase jumps out to me, because at heart, I am a Samaritan. I’m one of the less desirable that Jesus came to save. As a youth, I didn’t have life experience to fully appreciate and understand the gift of God’s grace or the need for thanksgiving. As an adult, I have both the education of life and Bible study to have a full awareness of God’s grace and mercy. Just like the marginalized people that Jesus served in His day, I am in great need of healing and grace due to my sin. 

Verses 15-16 also strike a chord in me because of the manner in which the leper gave thanks. Look at the way he praised Jesus! He used a loud voice and he fell on his face before Christ. He did not shrink in giving praise and thanksgiving because he understood the power of the healing bestowed upon him. He had a true gratitude to Jesus. Do we have a true gratitude for the way in which we have also been saved?

Oh, how I want to praise Jesus just like the leper who fell at his feet! He has given me much, so let me praise him much! In our lives, can we live out Psalm 117? “Praise the Lord, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! For his lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!”

Today, can you offer true gratitude for the mercy and loving kindness that God has offered to us through the gift of Jesus’ life on the cross? Can you share that mercy with others? As a church, can we seek out the marginalized people of our society and offer them the same love that Jesus lived in His ministry?

~Jen Siderius

Reflection Questions

  1. How can you (will you) offer true gratitude for the mercy and loving kindness that God has offered to us through the gift of Jesus’ life on the cross?
  2. How can you (will you) share that mercy with others?
  3. As a church, how can we (will we) seek out the marginalized people of our society and offer them the same love that Jesus lived in His ministry?
  4. In our Bible reading today what do we learn about God? What do we learn about Jesus? Why do you think it says that as the cleansed leper was throwing himself at Jesus’ feet he was praising God?

Ruth Introduction

The Book of Ruth is one of only two books of the Bible named after a woman.  It takes place during the time of the Judges in Israel.  It is named after the main character in the story, a Moabite woman by the name of Ruth, who became a believer in God, and followed her mother-in-law back to Israel.  Because it mentions Ruth’s great-grandson, King David, the book of Ruth must have been written after David became King.

One of the most familiar passages is Ruth 1:16-17, which says, “…Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.  May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”

The Book tells about a woman, Ruth, a foreigner, born to a people with no relationship to God, who became a believer, and was richly blessed by God.  Ultimately, she was listed in Matthew 1:5 in the ancestry of Jesus.

The Book of Ruth shows the incredible loyalty of Ruth to Naomi.  It also shows the kindness of Ruth to her mother-in-law, Naomi, as well as the kindness of Boaz to Ruth.  These remind us of God’s kindness toward us.  We are also introduced to the concept of a “kinsman redeemer” – a relative who will redeem someone when they can’t pay their own way.  This reminds us of Jesus, our relative, who paid for our sins, because we couldn’t pay for them ourselves.

As you read the Book of Ruth, consider how God watches over and blesses those who follow Him.

-Steve Mattison

I Love the LORD Because…

Old Testament: Judges 19 & 20

Poetry: Psalm 116

New Testament: Luke 16

As was discussed in two previous days’ devotions, Psalm 116 is another of the Hallel (literally, “Praise”) Psalms that are particularly associated with joyous events for Jews. They are prominent in the liturgies of the primary seasonal festivals such as Passover, and Psalm 116 is additionally part of the “Egyptian Hallel” subset of Hallel psalms. Psalm 116 does not make specific reference to Egypt, Passover, or the Exodus of Israel, but it is very straightforward to adapt its structure into a prayer of praise for the salvation of the nation of Israel. By connecting the psalm to that event, it is easily transformed into a pedagogical device that teaches the listener to acknowledge God for His grace toward Israel.

The Psalm is most naturally structured into three parts, but let us draw out the first two verses as an introductory dialogue (ellipsis of psalm text in bold):

I love the LORD. Why? Because He hears my voice, my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me. How should I respond? …. I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

The psalmist has provided a simple justification for the reader, all of us, to reverence and petition God: Because He hears me; the implication is that God answers those petitions. And because He hears me I should not fail to call on Him again and again.

Beginning in verse three, the psalmist builds upon the introductory dialogue to stretch and flesh out what could be the reason for calling on God and a more specific supplication: Cords of death wrap around me; the terror of the grave has come upon me; I found distress and sorrow. It is easy to see how this text was associated with Passover and the exodus: these words could be those of enslaved Israel, looking for deliverance from Egypt. Now look at verse four: Then I called upon the name of the LORD… “Save my life!” Taken in association with the enslavement in Egypt, these are the collective words of Israel, longing for deliverance, longing for God to “Hear my voice and incline His ear to me” (v 1). Verse four ends the first part of the psalm. 

The second part of the psalm does not begin with a description of the salvation desired by the writer (later usage: the nation of Israel), but instead utilizes another introductory statement: Gracious is the LORD .. our God is compassionate … the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. (vv 5-7). Only in verses 8-11 is the desired salvation described. The psalmist acknowledges God for who He is before getting to specifics about what He has done. Cast as part of the Hallel, we have Israel 1) acknowledging God as LORD and 2) thanking God for salvation from Egypt. To see a record of a similar acknowledgment, take a look at Exodus 15, a poem or song of adoration sung by Moses and the Israelites after passing through the sea.

Finally, beginning in verse 12, the psalmist builds out eight verses to answer the question What shall I render to the Lord? It is the question that must be asked after reflecting and acknowledging what He has done. And the answer, given in the text, is a catalog of options for worship and reverence toward God.

When the psalm is sectioned as outlined here, one can see how it was adapted for the celebration of Passover. It provides context (terrible circumstances, like Egypt) and a call for salvation, it identifies the LORD God as the agent of deliverance, and then provides options for adoration of God. Imagine sitting around a table, each member of a family saying or offering (perhaps competitively?) an option for active reverence: “I shall lift up the cup of salvation” (the mealtime allusion is especially apt in relation to Passover), “I shall pay my vows to the LORD” and “I’ll pay my vows in the presence of all His people.” The point is that the reverence, acknowledgment, and worship derive directly from the active role that God takes (took!) in deliverance from the circumstances of verse three.

Psalm 116 is a wonderful outline of one context for the why and what of thankfulness toward God: I may be in terrible circumstances, but the God that is gracious and compassionate can and will rescue me. In response, I bow to Him in reverence and worship, declaring my thankfulness to Him in the presence of others.

-Dan Siderius


The Psalms, as poetry, always carry some underlying structure, though perhaps lost in the translation from Hebrew to English. One of the features of many psalms that I appreciate is doublet structure, in the form of question-and-answer. For example, Psalm 116:1:

Question: I love the LORD

Answer: Because He hears my voice

These doublets can be used to impart rhythm to the reading of certain psalms. One way to take advantage of the inherent rhythm is to speak the psalms antiphonally, where one person reads the first part of the doublet and a second person reads the response. Another option is to incorporate movement, by walking through the first half of the doublet, pausing, and then resuming with the second half. It can greatly liven the Psalms!
If you are interested in reading the Psalms whose translation purposefully retained rhythmic and melodic elements, I encourage you to use the Coverdale Psalter (e.g., Psalm 116: https://psalter.liturgical-calendar.com/en-emodeng/Coverdale/116) or its newer revision, the New Coverdale Psalter (available for viewing online: https://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/index.php/downloads-pdf/).

Reflection Questions

  1. How would you finish the sentence/poem/song which begins, “I love the LORD because…”? Think on it, write it down, share it with the LORD. Who else could benefit from hearing your testimony of why you love the LORD?
  2. What are some options for how you can respond to the LORD? Write them down as well. Some responses, perhaps some we do most often, are not very good responses – if your list includes any poor responses you can cross them out now. Put a star next to a response you will work on today.


Old Testament: Judges 13 & 14

Poetry: Psalm 113

New Testament: Luke 13

Psalms 113-118 are known as “Hallel,” which means praise. These Psalms are recited, either in unison or responsively, in Jewish observances such as Passover and Hanukkah. This specific passage of Psalms is a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God for the blessings He poured out on Israel during the Exodus from Egypt. Though “Hallel” typically refers to Psalms 113-118, two other sections of Psalms are also referred to as “Hallel.” Thus, Psalms 113-118 are also specifically referred to as the “Egyptian Hallel” due to recounting of the Exodus story in Psalm 114.

In Passover remembrances, the Hallel is used within both the temple and homes. Before the Passover meal, Psalm 113-114 would be sung together. Most scholars believe that Jesus and his disciples would have sung these verses together while gathered for the Last Supper. When you read the verses of Psalm 113 closely, they seem a fitting hallmark to Jesus’ ministry.

In verses 7-9, we read, “He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.” Throughout Jesus’ ministry, his work angered many because he focused on the ones that others forgot or ignored. Just like the words of the Psalm, he shook social norms. How many instances can we recount of him healing the less desirable, such as the woman at the well, or socializing with sinners, such as Zaccheus? Jesus acknowledged in words and actions that all will be made equals in God’s kingdom? 

In today’s New Testament text, we read another example of Jesus lifting the needy, while others found fault. In Luke 13: 10-13, we read, “Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God.” Later in the text, we read how the Synagogue leaders were indignant that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, causing Jesus to rebuke them. He had once again turned expectations upside down.

While reciting this Psalm during their Passover meal, did any of Jesus’ disciples connect his ministry to the words they were singing? It’s also poignant to think that despite his imminent betrayal and death, Jesus could recite this prayer of praise and thanksgiving from the Psalm. “Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised! The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!” 

When we are faced with trials, can we do the same as Jesus? These verses remind us that in all things, the Lord is worthy of continual praise. It does not instruct us to be thankful once. Rather, it is imploring us to offer thanks “forevermore.” God is unchanging and there will never be a time in which we cannot offer homage to Him. 

My daughter’s teacher has her students complete a daily task in their agendas. At the end of each school day, the students are tasked with reflecting on the day and writing down two positives that happened to them. The teacher is striving to enable a mindset of gratitude and positivity within her class.

Could we take on the same task in order to offer continual praise to God? At the end of each day, let’s take time to reflect on that day. What can we praise God for? Perhaps your day at work was rough. But could you thank God that you had a job to go to that will provide for your needs such as food and shelter? This week, I challenge you to find at least two things in your day for which you can offer God praise and thanksgiving.

~Jen Siderius

Jen Siderius is a member of the Fair Oaks Community Church of God in Virginia. She and her husband Dan live in Maryland, where she works as an elementary school media specialist. When she’s not busy being entertained by the antics of their 9-year-old daughter, she loves to read, run, knit, quilt and try new crafts.

Reflection Questions

  1. Where do you see Jesus upsetting social norms? What was his purpose in doing so? Where have you – and can you – follow Jesus’ example?
  2. How would you rank yourself in the thankfulness category? Do you daily praise God for what He has done and who He is? How can you work at increasing your spirit of thankfulness?
  3. What did you see about God in today’s reading that you will praise Him for? What is Jesus revealing about His Father and God that we can praise God for?

Pushy, Pushy

Luke 18

Sunday, December 25, 2022

            Pushy people can be annoying.  They’re relentless until they get what they want.  But you must admit, they usually get what they want.  Luke 18 is loaded with chunks of wisdom, but one of the teachings throughout the chapter is that pushy people get what they desire, and Jesus says we should be just like them.

            Jesus started with a parable about prayer.  He talked about a widow that kept coming to a judge asking for legal protection.  For a while the judge was unwilling to give her what she wanted, but the woman kept pushing and he finally gave in.  He said that the reason he gave her what she wanted was because the widow kept bothering him and he was concerned if he didn’t help her, she would continually come to him and wear him out.  It may be surprising to you that we are told to be like the pushy widow when it comes to prayer.  Don’t just pray for something one time and forget about it.  God wants to see how bad you really want it.  It’s Christmas today and I am reminded of when my kids were young and would ask for a particular gift for Christmas.  If they were relentless and asked for it over and over, there was a pretty good chance they were going to get it.  Furthermore, it was more exciting as a parent to watch their reaction when they opened that gift that they really really wanted because they were extra appreciative when they saw what it was.  God is the same way.  He likes to give us what we want and need, and I am sure he enjoys our reaction when we show Him how appreciative we are.

            A little later in the chapter, parents were bringing their babies to Jesus so that he would touch them.  Apparently, they were being a bit pushy, so the disciples started to rebuke them.  Jesus saw what was happening and told the disciples to back down and let the children come to him because “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”.  The aggressive parents got what they wanted, and Jesus was happy to give it to them.

            Lastly, Bartimaeus was a blind man who was sitting by the road begging.  He heard a crowd go by and asked what was going on.  They told him that Jesus was passing by, so he called out to Jesus asking for Jesus to have mercy on him.  Those who led the way sternly told him to be quiet…so he gave up and sat quietly as to not bother anyone.  Not!  He kept crying out even more!  Jesus heard him and asked that he be brought to him.  Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted Jesus to do for him.  He said he wanted to regain his sight.  Jesus said, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”  Immediately, he regained his sight and began following him and praising God.  What do you suppose would have happened if he kept his mouth shut after he was told to be quiet?  I think we know the answer to that, and it doesn’t have anything to do with regaining sight.  It was because he was pushy, and dare we say a bit obnoxious, that he received his sight.

            I don’t think the lesson here is that it is a good idea to be rude and bad-mannered to others; rather, when you really want something from God, be persistent in your prayers and tell God how badly you really want it.  And then ask Him again and again.  It pleases Him to see that we are reaching out to Him and depending on Him instead of relying on ourselves.

-Rick McClain

Time to ponder:

What messages are we giving to God when we continually ask Him for something?  Conversely, what messages are we giving to God when we don’t continually ask Him for something?

Is there something you really want from God, but you haven’t spent much time letting Him know that?  What are you waiting for?

How can you bring children to Jesus, rather than being like the disciples who tried to keep them from Jesus?

How are you doing at showing appreciation for God’s greatest gifts? Specifically this holiday season, how will you show thanks for the gift God gave – his Son born to die (and welcome children, and show the Pharisees a better way, and heal the blind, and open the way to eternal life …) – and rise again (Luke 18:31-34) – and come again!

Celebrate and Remember

Deuteronomy 16

February 21

Chapter 16 begins with the reminder to celebrate the Passover. It was a time that was set aside to remember how their God saved them from Egyptian slavery. More specifically from the angel of death that passed over those Jewish people who placed the blood of a lamb on their door posts.

We also see the reminder of the Festival of Weeks (celebrating the harvest/first fruits) and the Festival of Tabernacles (remembering the years of wandering). Each were given specifications as to how and when to celebrate. 

Each of these celebrations was to be a reminder of where they came from and to celebrate God’s provision. God provided a way out, he provided the harvest and he provided for the Jewish people in their 40 year wilderness wandering. 

Knowing that God will provide in all life circumstances should give us joy and help encourage us in difficult times. God has been there before and he will be there again. He provides, always!

We all should set up reminders to celebrate the way God has worked in our lives. The reminders can help us remain thankful and never take for granted what God has done, is doing or what he will do in the future. 

-John Wincapaw

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Make a list of how God has provided for you. How will you express your thankfulness to the Lord? What reminders do you already have in place, and what reminders can you add to your home, your routine, and your calendar to ensure that you remember and thank God for the way He has provided?
  2. What is the danger in not being intentional in remembering what God has done and provided?
  3. What is your favorite holiday? Why? How do you celebrate it? What might God want you to remember as you celebrate? How could you do that better?
  4. Each of the three festivals decreed in Deuteronomy 16 included bringing a sacrifice, gift or offering to the Lord. “No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” (verses 16b & 17) What can you give to the Lord so you do not come before Him empty-handed?

See a Victory

Psalm 137-138

As we close our week of devotions together, it’s fitting to end with the words of David himself. Known for his incredible Psalms (though he surprisingly didn’t write them all), David is a perfect example of what it means to be a worshipper of God. 

In the first verses of Psalm 138, we see David connect to Psalm 136. “Give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness”. David follows the pattern of thanking God for who he is before thanking God for what he had done in his life. 

This is key. God didn’t have to do anything for you for him to be worthy of praise. He gave you life and breath. He gave his Son. He gave you the hope of eternal life. Our creator did it all. Regardless of the blessings he has brought to you in your life (which are awesome, please don’t misunderstand me), God has earned gratitude and praise from you. He deserves it. Don’t forget to show gratitude and recognize that he is God when you come before him in prayer. 

David follows in verse three showing how God answered prayer in his life. This wasn’t the first, nor the last time David called and God answered, but I love how simple this prayer is. 

“On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” (v 4 Ps. 138)

How beautiful is that? I called and you answered. That is such a rich picture. David is wanting everyone to understand the power of prayer. More importantly, he wants God to know that David heard God answer his call. God wants to know when we recognize how he works and moves in our life. It brings him joy when we get it. It’s like a father seeing his kids opening up a gift he gave them. Our father loves it when we love the gifts he brings us.

Reading down, David proclaims that all of the kings that have heard God’s word shall praise you. I believe this is a calling to us as well All of us that have tasted and seen the works of God are called to sing his ways–because his glory is great. 

But for us, we know more of the story than David did. Which gives us an even greater calling. We have the Son of Man who died on a cross, was raised from the dead, and sits at the right hand of God. Jesus gives us access to the throne room. He is our victor. Our forerunner. Our king. 

Though David never met Jesus, he still understands the power that the anointed one holds…

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,

    you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;

you stretch out your hand,

    and your right hand delivers me.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

    Do not forsake the work of your hands.    -Psalm 138:7-8

I can’t help but think that David is seeing a picture of the Christ at the right hand of God in this. As Jesus is a descendant of David, it is incredible to see the connection between these two men. 

The right hand of God delivers us as well. How gracious and miraculous is that? 

I have loved going through these scriptures with you this week. I hope your devotions continue to draw you closer to the LORD and his Son. I hope you feel inspired to praise and sing to our God. He hears each moment. And, he will answer your call.

Our final song is: See a Victory by Elevation Worship. Because, I think David would bring his drum and sing this one with us. 

-Leslie Jones

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 137-138 and Daniel 1-2

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Psalm 136

I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving. We are continuing in Psalms today with Psalm 136. Here, we see a proclamation of God’s great works for this people through history. The author expresses how the LORD struck Egypt and brought freedom to Israel (Ps 136: 10-11).  That same God also parted the Red Sea, overthrew Pharaoh and his army, struck down famous kings, and gave the land of those kings to Israel. 

The author is proving that the LORD is righteous and steadfast. The God of Genesis 1:1 who created all things  endures forever. He ALONE is the God of Heaven. He is the one who performed those miracles the author exclaims in this Psalm. And, he is the same God that the apostles honored and praised. He is the same God that our Messiah, Jesus, relies upon, heeds to, and loves. 

This same God will rescue you too. He isn’t finished yet. As long as you have breath in your lungs, God isn’t done with you. He gave each of us a purpose. It’s our job to bow low and follow his lead. 

Start with giving thanks. If you take anything away from these devotions this week, I hope that you recognize that God has earned every ounce of gratitude and praise we can give. 

After thanking him, remember this: “You are the only you God has.” (Sadly, not my quote. I wish I could take credit for this, but alas). This means that you have work to do! You have to walk through the seas God parts for you. You have to be willing to move. Be brave. 

Today’s song doesn’t directly quote this Psalm. However, it encourages you to pray for God to move in your life as he did for the Israelites discussed in Psalm 136. Pray that God will mold you into the man or woman you need to be for him. He knows what’s best for you. 

Listen to “Canvas and Clay” originally written by Pat Barrett. My favorite version is sung by Katie Torwalt (The live version). If you have time, listen to  both! 

“When I doubt it Lord remind me, I’m wonderfully made. You’re an artist and potter. I’m the canvas and the clay…

-Leslie Jones

You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 136 and Ezekiel 47-48

Thank You, LORD!

Psalm 134-135

“Your name, O Lord, endures forever,

    your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.

For the Lord will vindicate his people,

    and have compassion on his servants.” -Psalm 135:13-14

Who better to be thankful for than God? 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Ah yes, the day where Americans all over come together, filled with gratitude as they gather with their families. It helps that amazing food is normally involved…

I hope you are enjoying your thanksgiving morning and that your hearts are full of gladness. There is SO much to be thankful for this year, good health, family, job security, new friendships, the list is endless. 

My encouragement to you today is to not forget to be grateful for the one who brought you all of those blessings and more today. God is worthy of our praise! He deserves it! 

The Psalmist for Psalm 134-135 does an incredible job expressing his love and spirit of thanks for the LORD. 

“Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,

    who stand by night in the house of the Lord!

Lift up your hands to the holy place,

    and bless the Lord.

May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,

    bless you from Zion.” Psalm 134 

Wow, what an exhorter this author is. I wish I could have been there to raise my hands with him when he first proclaimed those words. 

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;

    sing to his name, for he is gracious.

For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,

    Israel as his own possession.   Psalm 135: 3-4 

God is gracious. He freed the Isrealites. He raised his Son from the Dead. He knows you by name! And he has a spot for you at his table to come and dine with him.

So, today, as you likely gather around a table with a feast of your own, praise the LORD and thank Him for the table he has for you in the Kingdom of God. And get excited for how rich it will be. 

Today’s song is a classic. “Thank You, Lord” by Don Moen. It’s a perfect morning energizer.

With a grateful heart, with a song of praise, with an outstretched arm, I will bless your name… Thank you, Lord! 

-Leslie Jones

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 134-135 and Ezekiel 45-46

Give Thanks to the LORD!

Psalm 107

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His mercy is everlasting. The redeemed of the LORD shall say so…” (Psalm 107:1, 2a NASB2020)

We, the redeemed of the LORD, are to give praise to our God! This seems obvious when we think of the good things He has done for us. However, when we think of the struggles of life we tend to forget about the many blessings we have from above. It can be easy to get caught up in the stress of a job, the race of paying off debt, the chaos that is a college campus, the extra-curricular activities of high school, or even the pleasures of pet ownership. Some of these are good, some are not so good, and others depend on the day and context; but we find that anything that takes our eyes away from the LORD is a problem. The Psalmist here tells us that we need to give thanks in all situations. 

We will see that if we turn from the ways of the world and walk in the ways of God we will find peace and reason to give thanks! First, he says we are redeemed from the hands of our enemy and gathered from foreign lands. Although it is not as common now, in ancient culture it was quite common for citizens of defeated nations to be carried off and scattered to prevent the nation from rebuilding. This happened to Israel many times in the Old Testament; time and time again God promised he would gather His people and He did just exactly that. For this His people would give thanks to the LORD!

God also delivers His people from hunger, thirst, unjust imprisonment, foolishness, and even illness. This is not to say that we will always be delivered from these situations but we do find that God takes pleasure in caring for us. When we are in these scenarios we need to call to Him to deliver us and give thanks to Him for His goodness. 

There are certainly times that we can feel like we are tossed here and there as if by the waves of the sea during a storm. Your waves may come from any number of areas of life but what we hold in common in these times is that we can be found at our wits’ end as it says in the 2020 NASB. The Psalmist says that when we find ourselves here we can cry out to Him and He can cause the storm to be still and bring us to the end of our distresses. Once the wind and waves stop we must not be tempted to just think, oh the storm died down. We must acknowledge and give thanks to God for stopping the storm. 

In the last 5 verses of Psalm 107 we read of a concept that Jesus taught his disciples. Jesus said the first shall be last and the last shall be first, while here the proud will be humbled and the humble will be exalted. I find this to be encouraging because even when the world punishes us for doing what God has called us to do, we can have faith that God will raise us beyond the judgment of the world. For that we should alway give thanks to the LORD!

-Bill Dunn

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Ezekiel 15-16 and Psalm 107

Wages and Gifts

Romans 6

When I was a child, I had the chance to make some extra money in the summer. About 8-10 of us would work in the fields around our neighborhood. It was hard work in the hot summer sun and our wage was .50 an hour. Some of the older kids made a dollar an hour. No, we didn’t care about minimum wage laws, because we received a bonus of a free soft drink after a couple of hours of work in the fields. That was exhausting work in the heat, but at the end of the day we received our wages. Our wages were exactly what we earned and deserved. We knew ahead of time what we would be paid for our work.

I was reminded of this by today’s reading. The first part of Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death.” We understand that sin means missing the mark. It is from a Greek archery term meaning to miss the bulls-eye. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all realize that we deserve punishment for our sin, but living in a life of sin can deceive us. When we open ourselves to sin, we start believing the lies. We justify and reason away our wrong behavior.  Remind you of some kings we have been reading about? We read their stories, and say to ourselves, “What are you doing? Just stick with God. He will deliver your nation like He has done before.” God would give the kings victory and peace, but they forsook Him because of sin and pride.

 We know that sin leads to death, so let’s make a commitment to a life that is interwoven with God. When we are close to God, we are going in the right direction and following His commands. We are experiencing His love and blessings every day.

The rest of Romans 6:23 continues “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thank you God for this gift!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 13-14 and Romans 6

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