The Battles Fought and Still Fight

June 26     1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26

David is still fighting battles and confronting the enemies around him.  When things still flare up in Israel today, I often think how LONG it has been happening for about 2,700 years! Battles and hatred from their surrounding enemies has actually been going on for a long time in Israel. It is actually “old news” to hear the continual fighting. In this battle, Joab led David’s army. He could see that the battle was against them this time. He encouraged his best men, “Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” (19:13) What encouraging words from the army captain. He did not encourage them to find strength in themselves or by their own might and power they could win, but to be STRONG for their people and the cities of God, and that God would do what was good in HIS SIGHT. When young Israeli men (like our 2 sons) and women are sworn into the Israeli army today, Joshua chapter 1 is read to them in Hebrew. I found these words to be very touching and encouraging to a young soldier. (By the way, ALL boys are required to serve 3 years after high school in the Israeli military and girls 2 years. So, they are not thinking about what college they are going to attend, but what division of the army they would like to go into. Girls are not required to do combat. Lots of a variety of tests are given to match them up to fitting tasks for them.) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9   What hope and encouraging words for the army of Israel, back then and today.  Like the schools, also their military is not anti-God or Bible.  How awesome that a whole chapter of the Bible is read at every soldier’s swearing into the Israeli army.  May they and we truly find our strength and courage in the God of Israel. 

Another battle was against the Philistines at Gath. Goliath was also from Gath. It is an ancient ruin still visible today as you can see in the drone picture that our son took. David’s brother, Jonathan killed a 24 finger and toed giant from Gath! We do not see any giants there today!

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It is interesting to note the allusion to David, one of many sling throwers, in Proverbs 26:8. “Like one who binds a stone in a sling is he who gives honor to a fool.”  I understand this to mean that it is not fitting to praise a fool, like putting ammo in a gun except in this case it is a stone in a sling.  In conclusion, of todays and this week’s devotionals I hope you have a greater LOVE for the God of Israel, His Messiah Jesus, and beautiful Land of the Bible. 😊

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26.

Longing for the Kingdom

June 25     1 Chronicles 17-18 and Proverbs 25

It is important to see the connection between David and Jesus, both are messiahs! Many Christians today misunderstand who Jesus is because they never understood about the messiah David. In fact, “Christian” has messiah in it. In Israel, they are called Messianics (which has also been twisted).  God chose David to shepherd the people Israel and be ruler over them. (17:7) God told him through the prophet Nathan, “When your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.” (17:11-14) What promises God made to David that through his seed would be an everlasting kingdom, AND that he would call God his FATHER and he would be God’s son. David was also a son of God, and we know that ultimately, Jesus is the Son of God. Even though sometimes the Old Testament books may seem “drier” or have lots of lists of names and cities, they’re so valuable for understanding as we’ve been seeing this week. Sometimes I tell my kids reading the Bible is as important as eating food.  One often can’t remember what they read or ate several days ago, but we needed them for our survival!!

David’s response is exalting, “O LORD, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, … and who is like Your people Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people—to make for Yourself a name by great and awesome deeds, by driving out nations from before Your people whom You redeemed from Egypt? For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, LORD have become their God.” (17:20-22) Little Israel, the size of New Jersey, yet God chose them as a people to make His name known. 

The first six verses of Proverbs 25 deal with the king, so it’s very fitting with our chapters from Chronicles. If you read Proverbs 25 today take note of that timely match up. 😊 Here’s one of them. “Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.” (25:5) That makes me think of the future kingdom of God.  Once the wicked are removed before King Jesus; his throne will be forever est. Oh, how we long for that day when righteousness will be established on this earth, and the wicked will be taken away. 

Today’s picture is when we left Israel 3 years ago. Our 9-year-old daughter is looking longingly out the window of the airplane as we left. She didn’t want to leave it as it was home to her where she was born and raised. She looked at Israel the whole time, until she couldn’t see it anymore. So far, we have not been back, because of covid restrictions, but others in our family long to go back. And 1 of our 2 sons there plans on coming this week, God willing, after almost not seeing him for 2 years. “The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, is Israel’s God.” (1 Chronicles 17:24)

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26.

Fear God and the King

June 24    1 Chronicles 15-16 and Proverbs 24

Once again David planned to bring up the ark to Jerusalem. However, this time he found out how to do it properly.  The last time he had good intentions, but did not do it the way God intended it to be done. “Then David said, ‘No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the LORD has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” (15:2) Previously, he had it put on a new cart, and it was always ONLY to be carried by the Levites. “The LORD broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” (15:13) After waiting and seeking the proper way GOD WANTED it done, THEN there was much celebration and joy this time since it was done according to God’s way. It even says, “God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant.” (15:26) The proper way was written down years ago in Exodus 25:13, but His ways can be forgotten if we don’t read and study them.  For us too, it’s always good to consult God and do it His way. There are so many things that we think and seem are right, but it’s not actually the way God planned it. Let’s be open to read the Scriptures and seek Him in prayer in the way we should go. 

After the ark arrived in Jerusalem there was much rejoicing.  I do not have a picture today of a site because I want you to image what it was like seeing and hearing the people praising the LORD.  It was not only sites and sounds, but smells too! There were numerous burnt offerings before God.  We often do not think of what it would have smelled like with all the burnt offerings.  Then David blessed the LORD God of Israel with song.  In fact, it is a combination of 3 different Psalms; 105:1-15, 96:1-13 (all), and 106:1, 47. “Do not touch My anointed ones (messiahs), and do My prophets no harm.” (16:22) “For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared about all god. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” (16:25,26) “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!” (16:36)

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.” (Proverbs 24:17) That’s just what David experienced when King Saul died. He mourned for Saul and asked others to do so also.  He wrote a lament and said to teach it to the children. In fact, all 6th grade Israeli school children, secular and religious are required to memorize David’s lament in 2 Samuel 1:19-27 to this day.  Our children memorized it also along with the other Israeli school children.  The picture is taken at one of our children’s school programs often celebrating biblical holidays. (As you can see there is limited seating and many children sat on the floor for the program.) It is neat in Israel by being a Jewish nation the Old Testament is studied as a subject in all the schools starting in 2nd grade until graduation. The public schools there are not anti-God or Bible, which is a good thing. “My son, fear the LORD and the king.” (24:21) We pray more will come to understand Jesus as their king along with the LORD God of Israel.

 

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26.

Good Intentions… yet Not What God Intended

June 23     1 Chronicles 13-14 and Proverbs 23

Now” that David’s living in Jerusalem. He wanted to return the ark of the covenant there. He said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the LORD our God, … let us bring back the ark of our God back to us.” (13:2,3) David had good intentions of bringing the ark back, but he did not actually inquire of God or do it according to His instructions. He gathered all Israel together to bring the ark of God up from Kirjath Jearim. He had it put on a new cart. “All Israel played music before God with all their might with singing, on harps, stringed instruments, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets.” (13:8) He had such good intentions, but once Uzza held the ark when the oxen stumbled and he died, David became angry and was afraid. He took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom and left it. 

We lived in the village right behind Kirjath Jearim. In fact, for 20 years we could look out our living room/kitchen windows and see it! Also, one can see in the picture modern houses built around the ancient site.  There is a Catholic church over the ruins, which is the case for other sites in Israel. And one can see the main road, which is still the modern-day ridge route they would have traveled on to avoid the deep cutting valleys. 

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Even though David had good intentions, afterwards he sought God for instruction, which encourages us to do the same. Not long after the Philistines attacked near Jerusalem, it says, “David inquired of God” if he should go against them. (14:10) Again, he inquired of God if to attack them, and God told him to send an ambush around them and succeeded. (14:16) “So David did as God commanded him, and they drove back the army of the Philistines from Gibeon as far as Gezer (could include pictures of them too😉). Then the fame of David went out into all lands, and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all the nations.” (14:16,17) This account of David is so encouraging though he had good intentions and yet failed to seek God, he corrected himself immediately and sought God’s counsel if he should attack the Philistines.  We can learn from David and do likewise! “Be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day.” (Proverbs 23:17) In wrap up, it is interesting to note once again another Proverbs that talks about a child, which has a Hebrew word meaning more “youth.” “Do not withhold corrections from a child (YOUTH), for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13) Children and youth both need lots of training and correction, but the end results are so rewarding. Reach out to children nearby you or related to you and encourage and lovingly correct them. Many may be going back to camp this summer, which is a special time for them. Many times, they have good intentions and yet need directed in God’s ways. 😊

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26.

The Humble Shall be Exalted

June 22     1 Chronicles 11-12 and Proverbs 22

After the death of King Saul, Israel came together at Hebron to anoint David king. God took him from being a shepherd of sheep to shepherd people.  “You shall shepherd My people Israel and be ruler over My people Israel.” (11:2) Think about that, now adays it is a matter of degrees one has from LOTS of inside study. With David it was after LOTS of outside hours of watching the sheep (and years on the run from King Saul). For the first 7 years he reigned as king from Hebron. Then he wanted to move to Jerusalem, but the people rejected him there, so he fought against them. After David built the city up, and still to this day it is called, “The City of David” in that area by the temple. “So David went on and became great, and the LORD of hosts was with him.” (11:9) Below is a picture our son took with a drone of the City of David. (My husband knew what shots he wanted, but our son knew how to get them as a teenage tech). 😊 They made a great team, while it was still possible to fly in Jerusalem. 

My biblical geography teacher of a husband likes to point out the parallels with David, anointed as messiah and king of Israel with Jesus, also anointed as messiah by God and king of Israel. Both lived lowly lives in the beginning though they were kings! Some of David’s mighty men even hid themselves in the cave of Adullam. And guess what?! Those caves are still there today and called by the same name! The students that came for our semester program would sometimes camp out there or have a bonfire there depending on our schedule. (Drone shot from our son😉) “The LORD brought about a great victory.” (11:14) God caused David and his men to prosper against their enemies. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.” (Prov. 22:4)

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Further looking into Proverbs, it is interesting to note that the popular verse, “Train up a child (youth) in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” (22:6) means more “youth” in Hebrew, like David was this age when he killed Goliath. Also, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (YOUTH); the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” (22:15) So, to end on a happy note this “youth” son that took many of our drone pictures in Israel was granted permission today from the Israeli army to come and visit us for a month!! So exciting! 😊

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26.

Turn of Events

June 21 1 Chronicles 9, 10 and Proverbs 21

The Philistines fought against Israel on Mount Gilboa. King Saul and his sons were also fighting against them. They fell slain in battle there.  It says that “Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he didn’t keep the word of the LORD.” (10:13) He consulted a medium for guidance, “but he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore, He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David.” (10:14) It is so important to ask God for guidance, first and foremost. We so often ask others or search online for answers, which can be okay, but mainly we need to seek and ask God.  It had been almost 9 years since Saul’s disobedience and rejection by God as king, yet he was still ruling for years, until it says that God killed him through the Philistines, and FINALLY the kingdom was turned over to David… as they mourn for King Saul.  

Here is a modern aerial (drone) view of Mount Gilboa taken by our homeschooled high school son that was with my husband on a field trip. It is a mountain range, not one individual mountain. And guess what? It still has the same name today! In fact, by it you can see a manmade “snow” slope to go sledding on throughout the year.  😊

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Proverbs 21:1 follows the two chapters in Chronicles perfectly! “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.” And not just his heart but his whole life, as we just read that He can even kill the king. “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (21:3) “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD.” (21:30)

Another Proverbs I wrote “sp” for speech by it helped me a lot during a rough time in my life. “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” (21:23) There were troubles brewing in my life, but it really helped to GUARD my mouth and tongue like a security guard standing by the opening of my mouth watching what I was going to say.  In Israel, there are security guards everywhere. Most malls have a grocery store in them, but before buying milk in the mall’s grocery store, I would need to pass by three security guards!  Thus, it is good for our words to be guarded at the exit of our mouth to make sure they are fitting! It is a good exercise today to picture a security guard by our mouths and tongues to make sure what we say is appropriate and pleasing to God. 

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26.

Real Places and People and Real God

June 20    1 Chronicles 7,8 and Proverbs 20

Shalom y’all. 😊 I was born and raised in small town Indiana, then lived in Israel for 25 years, now I am back in the States in the South. So, I will add some pictures and thoughts about Israel in each devotional this week to help give you a taste of it over there.  This year I have been reading through the Chronological Bible for my personal Bible reading and really enjoying it. In various ways, reading through the Bible is a great experience even though some parts are slower. 😊 It is interesting to note that the Hebrew Old Testament is arranged in a slightly different order than in English. In my Hebrew/English Bible the Old Testament ends with 1 and 2 Chronicles as a final summary of the Old Testament.

Although 1 Chronicles 7 & 8 are FILLED with Hebrew names and cities, it is amazing how familiar those names are to native Israelis.  Many people are still called those names today, especially religious Jews. AND many of those cities are STILL called that TODAY. At some places, the ancient ruins of the city are beside the modern one, sharing the SAME NAME! Also, amazing that we still have this record of people and places from about 2,800 years ago.  God’s Word has been preserved through all these years and one can still see the numerous same locations in Israel today.  Israel is a wonderful country and testifies of real places and a real God and Messiah Jesus. See the green patch towards the bottom of our picture, that’s ancient Shechem with the modern city built around it. It is listed among the many cities in 1 Chronicles 7 and 8 and is STILL an actual city in Israel today! Some ancient cities are only in ruins, but the name remains the same.

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Over the years, it has been a great benefit to read the book of Proverbs and focus on a certain topic while reading it and marking that topic with a few letters, like shown in picture. So many good nuggets of wisdom to meditate on! Something interesting is that many times a “child” is mentioned it’s often referring to a “youth” in Hebrew. “Even a youth is known by his actions” (Proverbs 20:11) is how it translates into English, same word used for David when he killed Goliath. I encourage you the next time when you read the book of Proverbs to pick a topic that interests you or that you would like more wisdom in and initial each verse that applies.  Sometimes I have even made a list in a notebook of those verses and then meditated on them, and it has really helped me in that area that I needed more wisdom about.  “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both.” (Proverbs 20:12)

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~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26.

Believing God in Tough Times

Acts 27

Paul’s journey to Rome in this passage is anything but simple. When those with Paul on the ship to Rome went days without seeing the guiding light of stars or the sun, they gave up hope of ever being saved. But then Paul spoke. He shared with them what the angel of God had told him. He assured them that although their situation seemed dire, they would be delivered. It was God’s plan for Paul to appear before Caesar and Paul, neither Paul nor those with him, were to be lost at sea before that could happen.

Although this situation and the knowledge that he was to be tried by Caesar when he reached Rome must have been difficult, Paul kept trusting God. When God sent word to him, Paul did not look at the situation and doubt what God was saying. He believed God’s word, and so much so that he shared what God had planned. From the passage we can see that Paul did not even question the way in which they were to be saved- a shipwreck! Here Paul is lost at sea, facing trial by the ruler of the Roman empire and now finds out he is to be preserved for that by being saved through a shipwreck. That is a lot to take in and yet, Paul remained faithful.

This made me think of a time in my own life when I was being driven to an airport on a major highway. A car sideswiped us, and we went across several lanes of traffic, nearly hit a concrete barrier and then swerved back over a few lanes. In that moment, it seemed the vehicle I was in was going to be hit again. The situation seemed taut and like there could be no good outcome. However, miraculously the vehicle I was in and the vehicle that had hit us suffered no injuries and were not hit a second time in the busy traffic. Even in a situation that seemed hopeless, God preserved us, and we even got to the airport on time.

Sometimes, though, in these moments it is easier to think of what could happen, like getting hit a second time or being lost at sea and not on what we should be thinking about- God. But we must look to Paul as an example and trust God in tough circumstances as he did.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 11-12 and Acts 27

Friend or Foe?

Don’t be Deceived!

Joshua 9-10

The lessons for us today just keep coming in the book of Joshua! In the last few days we’ve learned from Joshua: arm yourself daily with God’s word for strength and courage and success; God’s will, way and day leads to victory; and stop blaming God when we ought to be dealing with the sin amongst us which will then help us to overcome defeat.

Today we learn valuable intel on how to distinguish friend from foe, how to guard oneself from being deceived, and the all important how to get more hours added to your day. The answer to all three – Ask God. Don’t try to do it on your own. Trust His way and His understanding and His power, not your own.

The Canaanite neighbors have heard how Joshua and the Israelites have destroyed Jericho and Ai (on the second attempt). Some are ready to fight. Others find it easier to deceive. The sly Gibeonites, who live just over the next hill, came to Joshua. Pretending to have just made a long journey from a far off country, with worn-out clothes and old food, they convince the Israelite leaders to make a peace treaty with them. Three days later the Israelites learn they have been tricked. They have just signed a treaty protecting the lives of those who should have been their next targets.

What went wrong? They had been so careful. They had even tasted the Gibeonites’ stale bread! All their senses and intuition and prior knowledge told them this was safe and trustworthy and reliable and in their best interest. Scripture tells us, “The men of Israel sampled their provisions, but did not inquire of the Lord.” (Joshua 9:14 NIV).

I believe it is even harder today to distinguish friend from foe. Satan would love to have the world believe that what and who is actually an enemy of God is harmless, trustworthy or far-off. When actually this danger is at our doorstep, dressed in a disguise. And, since it looks good and convincing and seems to make sense Christians take the bait and sign the peace treaty and align themselves with the enemy. Because they did not inquire of the Lord.

Deception abounds on so many fronts. Who is God? Who is Jesus? What happens when you die? What is the value of a life? Who really has your best interest in mind? Who can be trusted? Who is on God’s side? And who is not?

God knows. And He wants to reveal the answers to you. Ask Him – not your own heart. Seek His wisdom – not man’s. Read His word. Spend time in prayer. Listen – to the Lord. Don’t sign the treaty without His okay.

Our reading in Psalms includes many great verses that would have been great refrigerator verses for the Israelites at that time – if only they had refrigerators.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock, and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:7-8

Don’t be deceived. Trust God alone.

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Joshua 9-10 and Psalm 62-64

Numbers 21-22, Luke 1

The Israelites’ wilderness wanderings continue in Numbers 21-22. Even though they had chosen not to enter the Promised Land because of their perceived battles, the battles came to them in the wilderness. They faced the kingdoms of Edom, Arad, Amorites, and Ammonites. In all of these battles, the outcome of the standoff was based not in the strength of the Israelite people, but in the amount of trust they had in God. 

The Israelites were a stubborn people though. They had a tendency to forget the lessons they had just learned. In Numbers 21, they had just shown their trust in God when they defeated the king of Arad. But, in verse 4, they began to grumble and complain against God, asking why they had come out of Egypt to the wilderness. This is a recurring pattern with the Israelites. When they face difficult circumstances, they begin to complain. God always responds strongly to their complaints – sometimes strikingly so. It makes him incredibly angry each and every time they begin to act in this way. In this instance, he sent poisonous snakes among the people. At other times, he sent plagues, fire, or disease – anything to show his displeasure. 

We know that this action – the complaining and grumbling against God’s ordained path – causes God anger. But, as I am reading through the book of Numbers, it’s hard for me to really rectify the description of this wrathful, vengeful God and the God of the New Testament who sent his son to wipe away all sins. Why did it make God this angry? Is it really that bad to complain? 

To answer this question, we can turn to the other passage that we were looking at today: Luke 1. This is the story of the pregnancy announcements of both John the Baptist and Jesus – both of which happened before they got pregnant! John the Baptist parents were Zechariah and Elizabeth, another Levite from the line of Aaron. Zechariah was chosen to serve in the temple, a once in a lifetime opportunity for him, when an angel of the Lord appeared and told him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. There will be joy and delight for you” (Luke 1:13-14). After this, I would imagine that Zechariah would be jumping for joy – the desires of his heart, his deepest prayer, had been answered! But, that’s not the picture that we get. Zechariah responds, “How can I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18). Zechariah’s prayers were answered, but he wanted proof. He wanted God to prove himself to Zechariah. It seemed like an angel of the Lord appearing to Zechariah just wasn’t enough for him. 

In both the Israelites’ and Zechariah’s situation (as well as the situation with Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22), they wanted God to prove himself to be God. The previous faithfulness God had shown them wasn’t enough; they wanted God to prove himself to be big enough and powerful enough in that moment for them to trust him. But – I don’t think, for any of these people, anything that God could have done in that moment would truly have caused them to trust him more. It wasn’t on God to prove himself to them. For the Israelites, he caused the plagues in Egypt, split the Red Sea, routed whole armies. For Zechariah, he sent a messenger to talk to him face to face and tell him that his greatest desire was answered. They had already received their signs. It was the people’s responsibility to soften their hearts enough to trust in God. They needed to believe that God was who he said he was and would do what he said he would do. 

We are required to trust in the same way. God has done tremendously more than we have ever deserved. He is currently doing more in our lives than we could ever hope for. It is our responsibility to trust him to be God. We just have to follow in obedience to him.

~ Stephanie Schlegel

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Chronicles 19-20 and Proverbs 26.