David Danced (May 24)

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May 24

David Danced

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 72:8-14  | 2 Samuel 4:1-6:23 | John 13:31-14:14 | Proverbs 15:31-32

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Samuel 4:1-6:23

David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. [14] David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6:5, 14 NIV). 

Worship is a time for celebration.  It is a time for us to break out the instruments and sing with all our might. It is not a time for half-hearted singing or mumbling words.  It is a time for us to enter in with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

David sets a great example in leading the people of Israel to celebrate the greatness of their God: “David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals” (6:5).  They worshiped with all their might–they didn’t hold anything back. That’s the kind of celebration God deserves each week as we gather together.

The story of Uzzah reminds us that worship also calls for an attitude of reverence. He treated the “holy” as common and suffered the punishment. Reverence need not dampen our enthusiasm or our celebration—but it does sharpen our focus in the midst of the celebration.  We are not celebrating to entertain ourselves. We are celebrating to declare the worth of our God.  He is the focus, and we dare not lose sight of that.  Worship calls for celebration, but always keeps us focused on him and should lead us to a sense of wonder and awe.

Worship is a time to focus on God, not to judge others for the way they express themselves.  Michal learned that lesson the hard way.  She saw David dancing and celebrating before the Lord with all his might, and she was embarrassed by it.  There is often a temptation to judge others during worship—their attitudes, their behaviors.  This is a dangerous distraction that keeps us from worshiping God as we ought.  Don’t worry about other people. Focus on God and worship him with all your might.

God, give me a heart to worship you with an abandon. Keep my eyes off of myself, and help me not to be distracted by the opinions of others. Instead, let me focus intensely, intentionally on you. Amen.

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The Humble King (May 23)

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May 23

The Humble King

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 72:1-7 | 2 Samuel 2:12-3:39 | John 13:1-30 | Proverbs 15:29-30

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 13:1-30

When Jesus had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:12-15 NIV).

He was clear about his position. “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” But that didn’t keep the King of Kings and Lord of Lords from taking the place of a servant.

In a day of sandals and dirt roads made for walking, foot washing was a common practice. The servant of the house would be expected to be the “foot washer.” It was a job for servants, a rather unpleasant and undoubtedly smelly job requiring a great deal of humility.  

Jesus knew all that, of course. So did the disciples. It made for a powerful teachable moment. He would demonstrate his love for them and give them an unforgettable lesson in humility. The King, the Lord, the Teacher would wash the feet of his subjects, his servants, his students.

It was a lesson that Jesus repeatedly taught the disciples. It’s not an easy one to learn. But he demonstrated it repeatedly. It was humility that brought him to earth in the first place; humility that caused him to be born a baby; humility that caused him to take on human flesh; humility that would soon be most fully demonstrated by his death on the cross.

The way of greatness in the kingdom is found in the towel. It is the way of the King who humbles himself to meet the needs of the servant. It is an example he intended for us to follow.

Heavenly Father, I long to be like Jesus. Give me a humble heart as I follow his teaching and example. Amen.

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Out of the Shadows (May 22)

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May 22

Out of the Shadows

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 71:19-24 | 2 Samuel1:1-2:11 | John 12:20-50 | Proverbs 15:27-28

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 12:20-50

Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Those who walk in the dark do not know where they are going. Put your trust in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of the light”(John 12:35-36 TNIV).

Jesus came as the Light of the world to bring us out of the darkness and into the light.  His signs showed forth the glorious light that we might believe. Yet people reacted in different ways to the light.

Some were hardhearted (37-40). They saw the miracles, but didn’t get it. Their hearts were hard and they were unable to see or hear. They were unable to believe. A heart darkened by sin, a heart that has lingered in the shadows for too long finds it hard to believe. Jesus calls the hardhearted to come out of the dark and into the light.

Some were half-hearted. “Many even of the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue for they loved human glory more than the glory of God” (42-43). They believed but were not willing to come out of the shadows and into the light. They didn’t want to be too upfront about their faith because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Jesus calls the half-hearted to come fully into the light and follow him completely.

Others were whole-hearted. They were the ones who trusted Jesus completely and followed him whatever the cost. These were the children of the light who took Jesus at his word. Like kernels of wheat they were wiling to die to themselves to enter into the life that is really life. They lived the reality of Jesus words: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it will produce many seeds. Those who love their life will lose it, while those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

God will honor the children of the light—those who come out of the shadows and live wholeheartedly for Christ. Those servants who follow Christ whatever the cost may not receive the praise of men in this life, but they can be sure to be honored by God in the next.

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to live whole-heartedly for you. Let me walk in the light and shine the light wherever I go. Amen.

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Extravagant Worship (May 21)

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May 21

Extravagant Worship

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 71:15-18 | 1 Samuel 29:1-31:13 | John 11:54-12:19 | Proverbs 15:24-26

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 11:54-12:19

“Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house” (John 12:2-3 The Message).

Worship takes many forms. Martha worshipped by serving. Service is a valid form of worship–and someone needed to do it. We can work without worshipping of course—at times our work keeps us from enjoying the presence of Jesus (Martha in another text is gently rebuked for that).  But serving in love as unto Jesus is an act of worship. Service done with the right attitude and focus is a sweet smelling fragrance to the Lord.

Lazarus just enjoyed the presence of Jesus—reclining at the table and talking to him friend to friend. This is another form of worship. Imagine the joy Lazarus felt in being reunited with the one who had raised him from the dead. Often worship brings times of the joy of God’s presence as we converse with him and enjoy our fellowship with one another.

Mary, one who was already given to enjoying Jesus presence, in this case goes a step further.  She enters into extravagant worship. She anoints Jesus feet with an expensive perfume—even wiping his feet with her hair.  In this beautiful, expensive and extravagant act she expresses her love and devotion to Jesus. She went the extra mile—her worship was costly. You can be sure that the beautiful aroma of the act of worship went beyond the room and into the presence of the Father. Extravagant worship always does.

Judas missed out on the worship. He was the practical one—the selfish one. Why waste so much good money on such an extravagant and expensive act? His selfish motives kept him from entering into the beautiful acts of worship that were taking place.

Don’t miss the opportunity to worship Jesus: practically, joyfully and extravagantly. Focus on Jesus, not yourself, and find joy in his presence. He is worthy of our worship in its many forms and expressions.

Lord Jesus, I long to enjoy your presence and worship you today. I long to enter into extravagant worship—let my worship rise to you as a beautiful aroma. Amen.

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Sometimes God Waits (May 20)

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May 20

Sometimes God Waits

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 71:9-14 | 1 Samuel 26:1-28:25 | John 11:1-53 | Proverbs 15:22-23

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 11:1-53

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again” (John 11:5-7a ESV).

Often God waits. Why? Perhaps Jesus gives us some clues as he waits to raise Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus waited because he wanted to bring God greater glory.  A healing would certainly have brought glory to God. But Jesus waited in this instance to perform a greater miracle. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Often God waits so that he may bring greater glory. “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (4).

Jesus waited because he wanted to give a greater opportunity to believe. He waited to stretch faith and help it to grow. “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (14-15). The testing of our faith as we wait on God causes our faith to be stretched and helps it to grow. Often he waits so that we will learn to trust Him in greater measure.

Jesus waited because he loved them. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again'” (5-7).  The implication of the word “so” in the passage is that Jesus waited because he loved them. He loved them so he stayed two days longer. Sometimes God waits because he loves us. When the time is right he will answer us, but in “tough love” he sometimes waits because he is accomplishing something through the waiting that he could accomplish no other way.

Had Jesus not waited, there would have been no opportunity to raise Lazarus from the dead. No opportunity to bring the greater glory that would show his love and teach them to believe.

Sometimes God waits. Sometimes this is because he wants to bring greater glory. Sometimes it is because he wants to stretch our faith and teach us to trust him more deeply. Sometimes it is because he loves us and has something he wants to accomplish in our lives that he requires us to wait.

Heavenly Father, I don’t like to wait. Thank you for reminding me that you have purposes in waiting. Build my faith, show your love, bring greater glory to yourself and let your working be a testimony that draws others to see your greatness. I now wait in hope. Amen.

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Mercy Triumphs (May 19)

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Quote from Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

May 19

Mercy Triumphs

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 71:1-8 | 1 Samuel 24:1-25:44 | John 10:22-42 | Proverbs 15:20-21

Today’s Scripture Focus:  1 Samuel 24-25

“You are more righteous than I . . . you treated me well, but I have treated you badly. You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today” (1 Samuel 24:17-19 TNIV).

David had his chance. He had been chased by Saul and his armies for a long time now. And now Saul entered the same cave that David and his men had made their place of refuge. David was encouraged by his men to take the opportunity to kill Saul while he had the chance.

David approached Saul but was unable to kill him. Instead, he cut off a piece of his clothing.

Even this caused David’s conscience to haunt him: “Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.”

Rebuking his men and insisting that they not attack Saul, he followed Saul out of the cave and called out to him and showed respect by bowing down and prostrating himself with his face to the ground.  He tells Saul how he has had opportunity to kill him, but chose rather to show mercy.

Instead of taking things into his own hands, David leaves judgment to the Lord.

Saul recognizes the act of mercy.  He admits to David that he has treated him badly and is astonished that David would treat him well.  Saul asks for continued mercy for his family and leaves David with a blessing: “May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. I know that you will surely be king and that kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.”

How often we would take things into our own hands instead of leaving them to the LORD.  David exemplifies the biblical attitude: “mercy triumphs over judgment!”

Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! James 2:13 (NIV)

There will come a day when you too will need mercy.  David will find that out all too soon.  Those who are merciful are the ones who receive the blessing of God’s mercy when it is needed.

Merciful God, I bow before you in gratitude for your steadfast love, your mercies which are new every morning. I come to you again today for the mercy and grace that I need. Allow your mercy to wash over me and overflow to others. Amen.

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The Good Shepherd (May 18)

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May 18

The Good Shepherd

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 70:1-5 | 1 Samuel 22:1-23:29 | John 10:1-21 | Proverbs 15:18-19

Today’s Scripture Focus: John 10:1-21

“The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:3b-4 TNIV).

Welcome to the sheep pen. You have heard the voice of the Shepherd and have entered through the gate to life lived to the full.

The good shepherd, Jesus, knows your name. He knows you intimately and fully. He loves you completely—so much so that he laid down his life so that you can live. He calls you by name to follow him into life as it was meant to be: life in green pastures; life lived to the full.

Get to know the shepherd. Learn to know his voice. You don’t want to follow the thief. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. You don’t want to follow a careless hired hand. Listen for the voice of the good shepherd. You can trust him. He leads you in and out to the best pastures. He gently cares for you, always knowing exactly what you need.

He knows your name. He cares for you lovingly. He guides you into the best that life has to offer. Don’t go back to wandering aimlessly—going your own way. Learn to hear and trust the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Good Shepherd, thank you for guiding me, caring for me, protecting me, and watching over my way. You are always loving, gentle, and kind. Speak now, I long to hear your voice and follow your direction. I wait upon you now. . . Amen.

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