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. 

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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. 😊

~ 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)

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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! 😊

~ Cayce Fletcher

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

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. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

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

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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~ Cayce Fletcher

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

Counterintuitive Wisdom

Proverbs 27-29

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The Proverbs are, in many cases, fairly self explanatory. Don’t be lazy, don’t be a wicked ruler, don’t be foolish but be wise, be a righteous ruler, be diligent in your work. Each Proverb has it’s own meaning but they go along those lines. But some are not so self explanatory. They are counterintuitive.
A short example is found in 28:27. If you want to be prosperous and blessed, to never be in want, then we give our money to the poor. The world, our own sinful heads, and many economists believe that the way to grow our wealth and not be in want is to hoard our money. But that’s not the way God works. It is only in generosity and giving that we will be blessed. This comes from the fact that God will bless and many times he blesses us through the care of others in our time of struggle and hardship.
Also, 27:5-6 doesn’t seem to be true in the moment. I don’t like to be rebuked. I don’t like it when a friend calls me out on the garbage way I am acting. But the Proverb teaches us that we should delight when a friend rebukes us because their correction comes form a place of love and they want our life to be one of wisdom and righteousness. This is especially true for  our brothers and sisters in our local church. Many times, we may feel judged by the people of our church, but more often than not, they are wanting the BEST for us. The “wounds” they give are better than any kisses of those who tell us we have nothing wrong with us. There could be people who act like a friend and hurt you in terrible ways, but here we mean TRUE friendship, TRUE companionship, TRUE love from a brother or sister in Christ. That true love is shown in forgiveness and compassion, especially in our moments of weakness and humility. Many times, when we are sinning and are fearing the rebuke of those people, we hide our sin away, like 28:13 says. But counterintuitively, by hiding our sins, we only hurt ourselves more when they are brought to light in some other way. We need to confess our sins and turn away from them. When we do, compassion and forgiveness are waiting for us from the people of God and from God himself.
Jake Ballard
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=proverbs+27-29&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Ecclesiastes 1-6 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Strong-Willed for God

Proverbs 22-24

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If you are just jumping in now, I have been pulling out a few lines in Proverbs that stand out to me, but I encourage you to do the same – you will likely find different ones!

22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

My mom always tells these horror stories from when I was a young child about how I was a nightmare to deal with (I’m sure she exaggerates…), but that didn’t mean that she just accepted it.  She tells me she prayed and asked that God would turn my stubborn, strong-willed self to be stubborn and strong-willed for God.  I can’t say that I have done a perfect job, but I know I am thankful for the prayers my mom said.  I don’t hit people in anger anymore (or throw whatever is in my hand across the room when I get mad).  Though I sometimes struggle to stay on fire for God, I am trying to do what I can to stay faithful through it.  The attribute of being strong-willed has been put to use in staying steadfast even when I go through times of struggle.   If you are the child who was raised in the faith and is still in it, thank your parents!  If you are someone who has children or plans to someday, keep this in mind.  It starts young.

23:4-5 Saying 8

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Finding a balance between providing for life and accumulating wealth can be difficult.  Most of us want to have nice things in life, but it can consume us.  That first line stands out to me – “Do not wear yourself out to get rich;” If I am so focused on work that I am worn out everyday, or don’t have time to spend with my family, I don’t think that is right.  Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of other places in the Bible that tell us we should be hard workers and not to be lazy (see next section), but overworking yourself just to gain wealth doesn’t feel right.  You might not be able to get everything you want, but learning to be content with what you have is for the better.  Contentedness is something I have been working on the last few months. What I have is enough.

24:30-34

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.

Being lazy leads to an inability to thrive.  We have to find that balance of hard work, but not letting it consume us to where gaining possessions becomes our sole focus.  How are your priorities?  Where is God on that list?

We are moving out of Proverbs tomorrow, so enjoy these little bits of wisdom!

 

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+22-24&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow we jump from Proverbs (many of Solomon’s writings) to 1 Kings 5-6 and 2 Chronicles 2-3 to read some of the events of King Solomon’s life and reign.  We return to the rest of Proverbs next week on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

God’s Way Wins

Proverbs 19-21

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I encourage you to read these chapters focusing again on what stands out to you.  Depending on where you are at in life right now, different words of wisdom might stick.  Here are some that stuck out to me:

19:11 – A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

I’m someone who tends to hold grudges.  Especially if I wasn’t asked for forgiveness.  When someone asks, I am usually willing to offer it, but the thing is, people don’t always ask.  And sometimes I perceived I was wronged when the other person doesn’t see it that way.  This proverb reminds me that it is better to forgive and move past an offense than to let it sit and weigh me down.

19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Accepting correction isn’t easy.  I tend to bristle at it (especially when I know it is something I did wrong, or need to change).  It puts my defenses up, and I imagine many others feel the same.  But when we accept proper discipline, we come out better.  We learn and grow, and don’t continue to make the same mistakes.  It is an important part of life to heed Godly advice and discipline, even when we don’t like it.

21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.

This one is an encouraging one to end today’s thoughts.  Sometimes it can feel like in this world, evil is winning.  That people have made their plans, and they are succeeding despite it being contrary to God’s ways.  So here is your reminder: they won’t win out in the end.  Nothing can succeed if it is against the LORD.  We might feel weighed down and defeated when we see evil prevail, but we know how it ends.  We know who wins.  And it isn’t evil.

I’m writing this while life is weird.  We are stuck at home, not going to church (I don’t think I have ever not been to church on Easter Sunday), many people not going to jobs, not having dinner with families, not enjoying a dinner out.  But we can have peace when we remember that no matter what is happening now, God has a plan, it will come to be, and we can look forward to eternal life.

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+19-21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 22-24 as we continue seeking and growing in God’s way during our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Follow Your Heart – or Not?

Proverbs 16-18

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For those of you that don’t know, I love Disney.  Like, a lot.  But one thing that often bothers me about many of the movies is the message to follow your heart.  It sounds nice, but I know if I always followed my heart, I would not be in a good place.  The beginning of Proverbs 16 reminds me of this.

If we just follow our hearts, we are likely to go the wrong way.  We need to seek the LORD, and He will establish our steps (16:9).  When we set our hearts on the LORD, then we become the wise.  When we are the wise, then we become the discerning (16:21), the ones who say what is right (16:23).  There are examples of many kinds of people in these chapters, but one thing is clear – all of the good things come from God.

A couple other of the lines of these proverbs stood out to me:

17:6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

I have a daughter, and I know how much she is loved by her grandparents.  I may have even heard them say something like grandkids are better than kids.  What really struck me in this one is that parents are the pride of their children.  Am I living a life that my child would be proud of?  I mean, she is almost 2 right now – she loves everything I do.  But give it a few years – are my actions worthy of her pride?  Maybe some of you reading are parents and can ask yourselves this.  Maybe some of you are younger – direct yourselves to that first part – are you living a life that makes you a crown to your grandparents?

18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

When we talk, do we think about this big of an impact in what we say?  The power of life and death.  Sometimes we (or at least I) say the first thing that comes to my mind, and it is not always the best thing.  If I could remember this proverb, would it make me take the time to think about what I am going to say before I say it?  I hope so.

As you read through these chapters, spend some time focusing on the lines that stand out to you.  Take time to examine the parts of your life that might be calling out as you read these Proverbs.

 

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+16-18&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 19-21 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

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