A Great Gift from God

Old Testament: Judges 9-10

Poetry: Psalm 111

* New Testament: Luke 11

I have someone in my family with the love language of giving gifts. She loves to give her friends and family gifts. She has surprised me with birthday presents when my real birth date is months away. We definitely feel the love she is showing us.

In Luke 11, Jesus asks the fathers in the group this question, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

What an amazing promise for us! Our loving, heavenly Father wants to give us the Holy Spirit. We know that the results or fruit of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-26)

Throughout the scriptures, there are so many examples of the LORD filling His children with the spirit and enabling them to do His will and work. We should completely receive God’s spirit as a gift of love to guide us in our spiritual lives. We also find a warning from Jesus about allowing evil to make its home within us. It is important to rid ourselves of all evil and we must also fill ourselves with the things of God.(v.24-26) When we allow the LORD to dwell in us through prayer, reading and obeying the scriptures, it doesn’t leave room in us for evil. This close fellowship we have with God and Jesus should be so strong that it is seen by others. We are to be the light of the world, full of the light given to us from Jesus Christ. That light shows us our true selves, the good and the bad. (v.33-36) He can correct our faults if we allow him to. Notice that Jesus warns the Pharisees and experts in the law about their sin, but rather than changing, they began to oppose him fiercely. (v.37-54) Rather than letting our pride oppose Christ, let us receive his correction. We can live in fellowship with him and feel blessed as we remember his words, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (v.28)

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. Have you asked your Father in heaven for the gift of the Holy Spirit? Are you using it well? Does your life show the results (fruits) of the Spirit in you?
  2. Looking carefully at yourself – what evil needs to be removed so you can fill yourself with what things of God?
  3. Is there a part of the word of God that you have heard but are struggling to obey? What will it take to obey fully?
  4. How do we see God in our reading today? How do we see His Son in our reading today?

At the Feet of Jesus

Old Testament: Judges 7 & 8

Poetry: Psalm 110

*New Testament: Luke 10

Raspberry pie filling had poured on my shoes as I finally wrestled the large, heavy aluminum pan filled with pie onto the countertop. It was then that I noticed that this extra-large catered size pan had spilled raspberry filling from the car into the house and through the kitchen. I caught myself wondering if the restaurant staff had booby-trapped this massive dessert and I still had another to bring in. My friends were empathetic, but they were frantically searing ribs on the grill. This last minute pickup for a large rehearsal dinner had turned into chaos. Yes, it is hilarious now, but at the time, it was a little overwhelming. So I can completely identify with Martha in Luke 10.

Jesus was accompanied by his disciples and often with large crowds. Imagine the bustle in the village of Bethany as Jesus enters the home of Martha. Jesus loved Martha, her sister Mary and their brother Lazarus. Jesus had been revealing some amazing spiritual truths. He confirmed that eternal life could be inherited by loving the Lord God with all our hearts, souls, strength and minds while loving our neighbors as ourselves.(v.25-28) He explained that love is expressed by mercy in action through the parable of the good Samaritan.(v.30-37) His teaching was amazing and we can understand why Mary did not want to miss a minute of it. I imagine Mary had helped Martha with preparing for Jesus’ visit, but he was there now and he was teaching so Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

We can all learn from Jesus’ words. There are so many things to do – good things to do – but these good things should never take the place of just being with and listening to Jesus. We all need to choose to be in Christ’s presence “which is better” and it will not be taken away from us.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. What is the one thing that is needed?
  2. What most often distracts you from what is most important? What does this reveal about your priorities? How can you work towards fixing this?
  3. What does it look like to sit at the feet of Jesus today? How can you do it more consistently?
  4. What do you find most amazing about the teachings of Jesus? What does this tell you about Jesus and even about His God and Father?

What does following Jesus look like?

Old Testament: Judges 5 & 6

Poetry: Psalm 109

* New Testament: Luke 9

In Luke 9, Jesus sends out the twelve disciples. He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and they were to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. They went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. That sounds amazing, but later Jesus explains that there is a lot more to being his disciple. There is sacrifice. We must be willing to offer up our own lives-our desires, our agenda- in the service for God. Jesus told them all that whoever wants to be his disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow him. Notice that we do it daily. Our sacrifice is about gaining life, a better life, an eternal life. As Paul would write, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)  Jesus told them that “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:24 & 25)

Jesus assures us that what we are giving up and what the world offers us is nothing compared to what he has in store for us. Even though we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22), Christ wants us to fully rely on him every day. May he give us the strength and encouragement to always Follow Him.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. How can you proclaim the Kingdom of God and help heal the sick?
  2. What have you given up in order to follow Jesus? What are you still hanging on to too tightly? What might taking up your cross daily look like today? And tomorrow? And Saturday? Etc…
  3. What do we learn about who Jesus is in Luke 9? What did Peter not say? Why is what he did say important?

Good News Today

Old Testament: Judges 3 & 4

Poetry: Psalm 108

New Testament: Luke 8

I was having a phone conversation with someone who had been serving in their local church. The topic of the Kingdom of God came up and she asked me what is the Kingdom of God?  She said she really didn’t know about that.

I was thrilled to answer her question with scriptures about the Kingdom and I sent her lessons and lists of verses. Of course, I had to be selective because there is so much about the Kingdom in the scriptures.

In Luke 8, we discover that Jesus is traveling from “one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God”. It was good news in the time of Jesus and it is good news today. The Kingdom message offers hope and eternal perspective.  Jesus and his followers lived in the real world, too. They faced difficulties as we can see from this brief description of the women who followed him and also financially supported Jesus’ ministry. The women “had been cured of evil spirits and diseases”. They had experienced first-hand the blessings of being spiritually and physically healed by Jesus. Now they could also support the Lord Jesus as he shared the good news of the Kingdom of God with others.

Jesus used multiple parables or short stories to illustrate the importance and astounding value of the Kingdom (see Matthew 13 for more).  The parable of the Sower is presented to show that a person should receive the word of God and produce good fruit. We are so blessed that Jesus also shares the explanation of the parable in the following verses. As Jesus told his disciples the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to you.  We see that the word of God is offered freely, but some allow it to be snatched away and others fall away when the going gets tough. Some let life’s worries, riches and pleasures take over and there is simply no room for it in their lives. Now of course our hope is to be those with noble and good hearts, that hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. From season to season, I have been amazed by some plants that produce like crazy. When you have a harvest of “get me another basket”, the garden work is worth it.  So keep planting and watering and sowing those good news seeds so God can produce His kingdom fruit through you.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. What do you know about the Kingdom of God? What does Jesus want people (then and now) to know about God’s Kingdom? Why do you think it was what he spoke about? Is it what your church talks about?
  2. Look again at Luke 8 at the types of soil the seed – word of God – landed on. Can you think of an example of each – what causes the seed/plant to NOT grow healthily? What is needed for it to be healthy and growing/producing? How healthy is the word of God in your life? What is interfering with its health?

Changed by Jesus

Old Testament: Judges 1 & 2

Poetry: Psalm 107

* New Testament: Luke 7

God had given Jesus the ability to perform miracles and the capability to be the “one Teacher” (Matt.23:8) who revealed important messages from Him. In his teachings, we learn the Great Commandment of loving God with all that we are, among other truths of loving our neighbor as ourselves, going into the world to preach the gospel, and so much more. And he didn’t just want us to be aware of these commands, he wanted us to put them into practice. His teachings were to be the foundation on which we build our lives.

The miracles and teaching were attracting a crowd. In Luke 7, we see that people were seeking out Jesus. Each person was very different from the other, but they shared a common need that Jesus could fill. A centurion is seeking healing for his servant, a widow needs resurrection power for her son, a prophet needs reassurance that Jesus is the one, and a sinful woman needs to be assured that her sins are forgiven. But even beyond the glaring needs presented to Jesus, we can see how those in Christ’s presence are being changed.  Just think about all the lives that are influenced and thus transformed because of interactions with those who have interacted with Jesus.

 I imagine that the elders of the Jews were praising God when their plea for healing was granted along with the centurion’s friends and the crowd that followed Jesus. The crowd along with a large funeral procession are awestruck and praised God for resurrecting the widow’s son. What a scene that was! Going from mourning to praise. And of course, I imagine the disciples of John would never forget the message they were given. “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” We can only guess at the large amount of people that were strengthened in the faith because of the imprisonment and execution of John. This event still impacts followers today. Encouraging us to show others our love for Christ even in the middle of some of life’s dismal circumstances.  

And last, we look at Simon the Pharisee. I would imagine that he was forever changed by having dinner with Jesus and by the interruption of the sinful woman. He learned that those who are aware of their great need for forgiveness have a great appreciation for the forgiveness they have received. Being truly forgiven, makes us want to express our thankfulness and love.

When these people entered into his presence, their minds, hearts, and lives are ultimately changed to reflect him more fully. When we enter into the presence of Jesus, we can expect that our lives will be changed, too. Sometimes our desires may be fulfilled, but even more than that, we will have our hearts changed to desire what God has for us.

Enter into his presence today and experience the change that comes from spending time with Jesus. May this change create a ripple effect that will transform your family, friends, coworkers, and community. 

-Rebecca Dauksas and Cayce Fletcher

Reflection Questions

  1. Has your life been changed by Jesus? If so, how? If not, why?
  2. Of the people Jesus interacted with in Luke 7, which one are you most like? What do you share in common? What do you think this person would have told their friends, family, coworkers, community about Jesus following the events of Luke 7? What do you have to tell about Jesus?
  3. What does God reveal about Himself and about His Son in our Bible reading today?

Did as They Saw Fit

Old Testament: Judges IntrO Below

Poetry: Psalm 106

New Testament: Luke 6

— Introduction to the Book of Judges —

We don’t know who wrote the Book of Judges, but we do know it records the events immediately after those recorded in the Book of Joshua.  The book of Judges is named after the judges that ruled the land of Israel after Joshua’s death.

Although there are several exciting stories of God’s deliverance recorded in the book, reading the book of Judges can be depressing.  This is because it records the downward spiral of Israel and its relationship with God.  The loop looked sort of like this:

  • Israel would follow God for a while.  
  • Then they would turn away from God and worship idols.  
  • God would punish them by sending invaders to torment Israel.  
  • The Israelites would cry out to God for deliverance.  
  • God would raise up a Judge to deliver them.  
  • Israel would then follow God for a while.  (loop)

One thing that makes reading Judges so frustrating is that with each iteration of the cycle, the Israelites fell further from God.  And their punishments got worse.

Judges 21:25 tells us the root cause of all of these problems, where it says, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”

People did whatever they wanted, instead of following God’s commands.

As you read the book of Judges, I challenge you to compare and contrast your own life with the experiences of the Israelites and see what practical lessons you can apply to your own life.

-Steve Mattison

– – Devotion – –

Imagine waking up one morning in a world where there are no laws. No local police, no elected officials and no military force defending civilians’ rights. Instead, everyone just does what is right in their own eyes. Ok, that is a little terrifying. Yet, the book of Judges tells us twice, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 17:6 and 21:25) As we will discover, the Israelites are soon allowing disobedience and selfishness to rule. The covenant with God was broken and they begin to rule themselves. It can be difficult to read the accounts of the people and their judges because they do not seem to have a moral compass. We must remember this is a narrative telling us what they did, not approving of their actions. Human beings NEED the LORD to teach us what we should and should not do. People are excellent at justifying and rationalizing our wrong doing, but thankfully God is there to help us. As Proverbs 21:2 states “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart”.

How far did Israel fall during this time period? Psalm 106 states that they shed the innocent blood of their sons and daughters for idol sacrifice to false gods. “They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves.” (v.39) This Psalm contrasts how good, loving, and mighty the LORD is against the people that reject Him. If we want to be blessed, we must act justly, and do what is right (v.3).

The LORD loves us as a perfect Father. He wants us to be in a close, loving relationship with Him so He has given us the scriptures. Through them we have explanations of good actions and forbidden, sinful actions. Through the scriptures, we have scores of examples of those that chose to follow the LORD. Most of all the scriptures explain who the LORD is. His amazing plan for His creation and an incredible future for His children. It is so important for us to understand and do what the LORD commands us to do.

Thankfully the scriptures also include the instructions of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. His teaching shows us that we can do what is right by putting his words into practice. We can be like the faithful builder that dug down deep and put the foundation on rock. The storms of life can’t tear our faith down because it is well built. (Luke 6:46-49)

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. How important is it to you to do what is right? How do you most often decide what is right and what is wrong?
  2. How important is it to God for you to do what is right? How does He tell us what is right and what is wrong?
  3. What is the result when everyone does as they see fit?
  4. What do we learn about God in today’s Bible reading? What do we learn about His Son in Luke?


Old Testament: Joshua 23 & 24

Poetry: Psalm 105

New Testament: Luke 5

Joshua had walked with the LORD for many years. The scripture described him as a very old man when he summoned the Israelites to share some important messages. This was his opportunity to let them know what was really essential, what really mattered. How did he have faith when others faltered? Some of his significant instructions are to “hold fast to the LORD your God” and “be very careful to love the LORD your God”. That is exactly what he did and that is what gave him such a close relationship with God.

He had lived a lifetime of experiences with the LORD. Just imagine him watching Moses enter the tent of Meeting where the pillar of cloud was. Even when Moses returned to the camp, Joshua remained at the tent.

He stood with Caleb and tried to persuade the people that if they would only follow God that the LORD would give them the land. But the camp chose to rebel against the LORD and succumb to the fear and disbelief of the other spies. (The LORD intervened when the people were ready to stone them for their faith.)

Joshua experienced miracle after miracle including the sun stopping in the middle of the sky. Joshua was chosen and commissioned to lead Israel because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly. That is what he wanted from the Israelites.  That should be our purpose, too.

He encouraged them to wholeheartedly obey the scriptures. As Joshua 23:6 states, “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left”.

As modern-day Christians, we can follow Joshua’s example. He did what was right, even when he was in the minority. The LORD approved of his decision and in turn, the Lord loved him. Just like Joshua, there are so many examples of others who wholeheartedly lived life with God. We know that the next experiences for them will be the resurrection, all the rewards that come with entering the kingdom of God and eternal life.

Because we know that this awaits the followers of God, we should also give our whole hearts to God. Let us stand with the Lord and say,  “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. Consider the life of Joshua – when and how was he faithful to God? When and how was God faithful to him? Now consider your own life – when and how have you been faithful to God? When and how has God been faithful to you?
  2. Does it work to follow, love, serve, obey the Lord half-heartedly? Why or why not? With how much of your heart do you follow, love, serve, obey the Lord?
  3. What do we learn about the Lord our God in our Bible reading today? Does that make it easier or harder to serve him wholeheartedly?

Sound the Warning

Joel 2

Saturday, November 5, 2022

This week I saw some internet footage taken of a tornado. At first, an individual was videoing a stormy sky, perhaps anticipating what was to come. In a horrifying moment the distinctive funnel cloud appeared in the storm. Then you could hear the siren go off, blasting out a warning. Everyone in the screen view began heading inside or getting in cars to speed away. For some reason, the person making the video, just kept it rolling.  Obviously, he was in danger, so I was surprised that the person kept filming.

This reminds me of our passage today. Joel 2 announces that the day of the LORD is coming. “Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble.” This is a horrifying warning of a powerful force of desolation. No one could stand against it. So what is the answer?
Return to the LORD with all your heart.

Realize how far we may have wandered. Show your repentance by fasting, weeping and mourning. Let your heart be broken because we have sinned against Him.  We are reminded that He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and He often shows us mercy. Instead of getting what we deserve, He may forgive and leave a blessing behind.

We see our LORD here as wanting to bless His people, wanting to protect, wanting to remove fear and replace it with love. Wanting to dwell among his people. Let’s call on the name of the LORD and open our hearts wide to receive Him so we will be delivered.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. Read Joel’s description of the Day of the Lord. How do you envision the Day of the Lord (what other Scriptures might be helpful) and how would you describe it to someone who has never heard of it before?
  2. How does Joel describe God?
  3. What does God desire for you today? What does God desire from you today? What does God desire for you for eternity?

A Father and His Child

Hosea 11

Friday, November 4, 2022

I was touched by the beautiful imagery of the LORD calling to Israel as a child. Teaching him to walk and taking him into His arms. Here the LORD is also leading with kindness and bonded to His people in love. And I can just imagine a compassionate care taker releasing an animal from its burden-taking off the bridle and bit to allow the animal to freely eat and drink. The love and compassion of God are so evident in these passages. But Israel’s obstinance is also evident. These collections of poetry are calling out again to the people. Turn to God, do what is right and be saved. God desires for people to come to Him to be healed, forgiven and saved, but as we have seen over and over, the people continued to reject Him.

We are told what the result is, “Because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore, the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes (4:1-3a)”. It is disturbing that this scripture could be describing parts of our own country today. But the poetic words of the prophet Hosea still speak through this book. Telling us about the LORD’S perfect character and His justice. We still hear a main theme of not rejecting, but accepting and remaining faithful to our God. How horrible to become stubborn and self-willed against the Only True Living God. That is a place that we never want to occupy. Unfortunately, I know that we could name some individuals who have turned away and have chosen lives that are in complete opposition to God. But we want to be those that faithfully hold to God. Hosea 14 describes it this way, “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them (v.9)”. Hosea explains that someday the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God; they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness. It is incredible that we can know, walk with, and most of all be in a loving relationship with Him right now.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. How is your nation like Israel? How are they different from Israel? How are you like Israel? How are you different from Israel?
  2. How would you describe God as a parent?
  3. How will you respond as His child? When have you been rebelled against Him? What is His desire for You?

Time to Wake Up

Daniel 12

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Daniel played many roles in his life including a great prophet of God. We continue to be blessed, inspired and perhaps warned by the writings of Daniel. Not only did he share God’s insights with the kings and people of his time, but today we also see God’s plan unfold in Daniel’s writings. We see the future for those who faithfully follow God. It states, “many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever”.

We read about deliverance for everyone whose name is found written in the book. King David had written of this book of life in Psalm 69:28 and many years later we see the book mentioned again in Revelation 3:5. It states, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

These amazing truths were passed down from one group to the next, sometimes one generation to the next. Daniel faithfully served the LORD at the time and in the place that the LORD set for him. We have that same privilege today. Don’t feel that you are unable or are unqualified to share. You have the message from the LORD through the scriptures and when you walk closely with Our LORD, that is all you need. Share the Good News with those around us. We want to share in the assurance that Daniel had. It states, “then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”

-Rebecca Dauksas

Reflection Questions

  1. When you think of the future do you usually think about tomorrow, 5 years down the road, 25 or 50 years from now, or eternity? What part of the future excites you? What part scares you?
  2. How often do you consider the book of life? What are your thoughts and feelings when you do? How many familiar names do you expect will be found there?
  3. How can you lead many to righteousness by sharing the good news? What has God given you to do so?
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