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!

A picture containing sky, grass, outdoor, sheep

Description automatically generated

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. 😊

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

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)

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

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.

 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

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. 

Aerial view of a city

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

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. 😊

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

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)

A picture containing outdoor, sky, nature

Description automatically generated

A picture containing grass, tree, outdoor, plant

Description automatically generated

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! 😊

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

Our High Calling

Thursday – May 27, 2021

1 Kings 5-6, Acts 24

As Solomon’s reign continues, he begins to build the temple: the job promised to him by God through David. Solomon knows that this is his calling – and he wants to do it well. After David was told that he could not build the temple because of the blood shed on his hands, David amassed a treasure trove of building supplies for years. Even though temple building was not David’s calling, he still worked hard to make sure that he made Solomon’s task easier through his actions. 

One of the first actions that Solomon takes is to get the best lumber he could find. He goes to the king of Lebanon and asks for the cedars of Lebanon. Then, he began to build the temple – a process that lasted 7 years! 

Solomon knew that when God has called you to do something you make sure to do two things: (1) you give him the best of you first and (2) you complete the task assigned to you no matter how long it takes. Solomon didn’t let the difficulty of getting the cedars of Lebanon stop him from being sure to get the finest lumber. He also didn’t give up in the process of finishing the temple. He was committed to finishing the task he was assigned to well. 

In our lives, are you as committed as Solomon to completing the calling God has assigned to you well? We are God’s hands and feet in the world. Part of our testimony to the world is how well we complete our callings. “Let’s not grow weary of doing good” (Gal. 6:9). “Let’s finish the race we are running with endurance” (Heb. 12:1-2). 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

The Path to Life

Tuesday – May 25, 2021

1 Kings 1-2, Acts 22

1 Kings opens up with David’s final moments. His health begins to decline as turmoil grows in his kingdom. David’s sons had a history of defiance and wrongdoing, culminating in the story of Absalom’s revolt described in 2 Samuel 15. Absalom dies, and David mourns for him. In 1 Kings, we meet another of David’s sons, the next in line after Absalom – Adonijah. Adonijah is the heir apparent, the oldest surviving son. He begins to exalt himself in 1 Kings 1:5, saying “I will be king!” This Lion King-esque refrain has a darker tone to it. Adonijah was never truly promised the throne, and at the time he was saying this, his father was still alive. Instead of waiting for a peaceful transition of power, Adonijah seizes the moment of David’s weak health and begins amassing forces to take the kingdom by force. Adonijah’s greed for power leads to sin and death, as the revolt eventually spirals into his own demise. 

Adonijah walked down the path of foolishness. His rash actions were compounded by sinfulness and a total disregard for the law. He had to pay for all of his actions. But, in verse 6, there is an interesting statement: “But his father had never once reprimanded him by saying “Why do you act this way?” Adonijah did not commit these actions in a vacuum; he had a family, court, and religious leaders surrounding him. Who was speaking wisdom into Adonijah’s life? Encouraging him to make wise choices and reminding him of Absalom’s life – and what might happen if he doesn’t show patience in his potential ascension to the throne? David ‘never once reprimanded’ Adonijah, calling into question his wrong behavior. Instead, he allowed Adonijah to do what was right in his eyes. In doing so, Adonijah eventually walked towards his own death. David needed to provide guidance and discipline for Adonijah, and because of his refusal to do so, Adonijah caused turmoil and pain to himself and others. 

Discipline can seem like a scary thing. It’s definitely one of my least favorite parts of being a teacher. It’s complicated and sometimes painful to discipline others and be disciplined ourselves. But, discipline is a crucial part of being a disciple of Jesus. Hebrews 12:10-11 says, “10 [Our parents] disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Discipline is such an important part of our sanctification. Essentially, discipline is the way that we call each other back to the way of righteousness and holiness. And, it’s the way that God calls us back to him. 

How have you experienced God’s discipline in your life – through his hand or those of your parents or church leaders? Remember, discipline can keep us from becoming an Adonijah, someone with no guardrails or guidelines for the right, wise way to live. Let’s pursue a righteous life together. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

Victorious

May 24, 2021 – 2 Samuel 23-24, Acts 21

When David came to power, he had his work cut out for him. Part of his legacy was fulfilling the calling that God gave to the Israelites when they first came to the Promised Land. He was charged with taking the land. He was supposed to be strong and courageous, and over his lifetime, he proved to be a man of strong military prowess who doubled the size of the kingdom of Israel. 2 Samuel 23 describes the men who helped David make that happen. These are his mighty men, the elite warriors who single handedly won battles against the Philistines with God’s help. One warrior killed 800 men at one time with a spear. Another group broke into an enemy stronghold just to get a cup of water for David. Repeatedly, these men are described as strong, fearless. They ‘stood their ground’ against their enemies. When they faced them this way, ‘the Lord brought about a great victory’ against their enemies. 

In Acts 21, Paul is facing strong and terrifying enemies. In fact, he is told what would happen to him by a prophet in verses 11-12 when the prophet describes how he would be tied up and delivered to the Romans in Jerusalem. The people are begging him not to go to Jerusalem, weeping for the bitter end that they knew would come to Paul if he decided to go to the city. Paul shows his determination and willingness to follow Jesus no matter what when he replies: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” What a mighty and fearless response! Paul may have not been marching into a war with spears and swords, but he knew the spiritual battle he was facing that would have real – and very dire – implications for his health and well-being. But, it didn’t matter – he would do anything for the name of Jesus. 

We need to face our everyday battles with the same determination and strength, resting in the knowledge that God will bring about the victory if we stand our ground. We need to be strong and courageous, because God is right there with us in our battles. We will emerge victorious!

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

Sunday – May 23, 2021

2 Samuel 21-22, Acts 20

In today’s Old Testament reading, 2 Samuel 21-22, we see David, a victorious king and man broken by sin, dealing with the legacies of previous leaders of Israel and the political unrest they left behind. In addition to this, we see fall out with the Canaanite peoples, who had remained in the promised land for a thousand years after Joshua and the Israelites were told to conquer it. The last few chapters of 2 Samuel function as an appendix; they list stories that occurred during David’s reign, in non-chronological order. 

In 2 Samuel 21, we find a brutal story that involves betrayal, sacrifice, and tragedy.  Earlier in David’s reign, there was a famine that lasted 3 years. David responds to this famine, recognizing it as discipline from God, by going to God in prayer. The reason God gave for the famine is because of Saul’s, the previous king, slaying of the Gibeonites – a people the Israelites had made a treaty with (Josh. 9:15-20). David goes to rectify the situation, and so the Gibeonites ask for seven of Saul’s male descendents to punish for Saul’s decisions. 

The seven descendents were handed over and killed. Heartbreakingly, Rizpah, the mother of two of the sons, goes to the place where her sons were killed and protected their bodies from the elements and birds from April to October. four months of a day-in-day-out vigil, through heat, cold, rain, and sun. Finally, David heard about what Rizpah had done, her love and dedication to her sons, and because of her actions, he decided to honor the memories of Saul and Jonathan – and Rizpah’s sons – by burying them in their family’s tomb. After all of this, the famine stops in the land. 

This story is hard to read, but it shows an important truth: Our legacy is determined by the small, everyday actions of our lives. Those small everyday actions build up into something that can make a profound impact on the lives of those that come after us. 

Because of Saul’s actions and his failure to consistently follow the law, he devastated the lives of both the Gibeonites and his own family. His legacy left a ripple effect of destruction that led to a famine in the entire land of Israel. That legacy of destruction was only stopped when another woman consistently showed love instead of violence, for both her sons and for God. Because of her actions, God answered the prayer for the land. 

What type of legacy are you building? How are you daily and consistently building up a legacy that honors God and provides hope and help to those around you?

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

Positive Reactions to Negative Events

1 Samuel 29-31

Today’s Old Testament passage continues the story of David and his men while they were living with the Philistines away from Saul. In 1 Samuel 29, David is about to go fight with the Philistines, but several of the Philistine leaders are worried that David is still loyal to Saul and will turn against the Philistines in battle. So David and his men are sent back to their home, Ziklag. Unfortunately, “When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive” (NIV, 1 Samuel 30:3). This event alone would be quite devastating to David, but in addition, some of David’s men were then considering turning on him and stoning him based upon the recent misfortune. 

This rough series of events would be hard to get through alone, but verse six states that “David found strength in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). His positive reaction to these negative events can be used as an example. Instead of immediately taking revenge on the Amalekites for destroying his home and taking his family and friends, he decides to ask God first. David’s initial response can be used in many situations to choose the wisest action instead of simply reacting in the first imaginable way that is likely unwise. 

After God responds, David and some of his men successfully chase down the Amalekites and get everything back that was stolen. Although they retrieved all their possessions again, some of the men weren’t willing to give back part of the goods to those that didn’t participate in the raid. However, David’s response to this situation is again a positive example that can be applied to many other situations, even today. David disagreed with those men and instead insisted that even those that didn’t participate should receive part of the plunder. He argued that what they had received had actually come from the LORD, not from those that had actually participated in the fight. Further, David didn’t just divide up the plunder between him and his men, he also then gave gifts to others that had been kind to them in the past. As one people united with a common goal to serve and follow God, it is important to remember to share the possessions that have graciously been given by God.

-1st time Devotion Writer who Preferred being Anonymous

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1st Samuel 29-31 and Acts 9