Category Archives: Daily Devotional

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 76/260: Samuel

Read 1 Samuel 3:11-21

Don’t Be Afraid to Tell the Truth

The word of the Lord came to Samuel; God said, “Behold I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11). To use an expression which we might hear today, He was going to do something that was going to send chills up and down the spine of everyone who heard about it.

Because of the sins of Eli’s sons, God was going to “judge his house forever.” Their iniquity was not something they had kept hidden from Eli; he was aware of their shortcomings but failed to correct them or discipline them. “And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever” (1 Samuel 3:14). They were too far gone to come back now.

Can you imagine Samuel’s reaction to this revelation? Remember, according to 1 Samuel 3:1, inspiration tells us that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.” And now Samuel received bad news about his mentor, Eli. It is no surprise then that “Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision” (1 Samuel 3:15). “So Samuel lay down until morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:15). Had he slept a wink? Or did he simply lay there, rehearsing his conversation with Eli, fearing his reaction?

What happened after he got out of bed? He got busy doing his chores, of course! I imagine he busied himself to avoid Eli most of the day. Perhaps he repeated the same tasks over and over just so he wouldn’t have to face Eli and the question that he knew he would ask. Eventually, though, he would have to speak to him

“What is the word that the LORD spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you” (1 Samuel 3:17). Despite his fear, Samuel answered truthfully. “Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him” (1 Samuel 3:18). How difficult that must have been!

Do you face the same difficulty today? When you need to confront a close friend or a family member about the way they are living which may be in opposition to God’s revealed truth? Don’t be afraid! Muster up the courage of Samuel! Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 75/260: Samuel

Read 1 Samuel 3:1-10

Speak, for Your Servant Hears

Hannah vowed to give Samuel to the Lord’s service in the temple, and she kept her vow. When Samuel was still a boy, probably about twelve years old, he received his first prophetic word. He did not realize that it was God calling him at first. The text explains, “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation” (1 Samuel 3:1). Where most modern versions use the word “rare” in this verse, some older translations put “precious” (KJV, ASV).

Do we treat the Word of God as precious? We should! It is the revelation of His will; nothing could be more precious than that! Paul says that the Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). If we are not diligent in our studies, we will fall short in our service to God.

After mistaking God’s call for Eli’s voice three times, the elderly priest realized what was happening. He instructed Samuel to answer the voice when he heard it again, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears,” and the boy Samuel did just that (1 Samuel 3:9, 10).

Has God called you? He has, though not in the same sense that He called Samuel. God does not speak directly to us today. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). He has called us through the recorded words of Jesus and we must trust and obey what He says! “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

When you read the Word, is your attitude like Samuel’s? Do you say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears”? Or do you practice selective hearing (and thus, selective obedience)? It is important that we pay attention to “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), and not just what we want to hear and obey.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 74/260: Hannah

Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10

God Answers Prayer

How do you respond to the gracious blessings of the Almighty God? When He answers your prayer, are you grateful and glad? Hannah declared, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:1). Does your heart rejoice? Do you recognize God’s handiwork in the strength you possess?

If we are on God’s side, we can say, like Hannah, “I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation” (1 Samuel 2:1). Certainly, nothing can defeat us if we are faithfully serving in the Lord’s kingdom. Paul asked, “If God is with us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). The answer, of course, is no one! “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).

In her prayer, Hannah recognizes the magnificence of God’s power. “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2). Do we properly exalt the Lord when He answers our prayers? We should!

Hannah acknowledges God’s prerogative to bring the faithless to their knees while lifting the faithful up. “The bows of the mighty are broken, and those who stumbled are girded with strength” (1 Samuel 2:3). May we ever be careful of boasting, especially of boasting in our own accomplishments or power. God can quickly reverse one’s blessings!

There is also in Hannah’s prayer some Messianic nuances. “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up” (1 Samuel 2:6). Indeed, though “it is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27), we are assured that “the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29).

God answers prayer; let us be thankful as He does and look forward to the fulfillment of the promise of the resurrection!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 73/260: Hannah

Read 1 Samuel 1

A Godly Prayer

Are you ever mistreated by the people around you? Have you prayed to God about it?

Do you find yourself lacking something? Feel inadequate or incomplete? Have you prayed to God about it?

Hannah found herself the target of mockery at the hands of Peninnah, her husband Elkanah’s other wife. Peninnah “provoked her severely” (1 Samuel 1:6) and caused Hannah much grief. The reason for Peninnah’s ridicule was Hannah’s physical inability to bear children. Elkanah attempted to console her. “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8).

It was no use. Women were expected to bear children and one who could not was often seen as cursed by God. Thus Hannah prayed, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head” (1 Samuel 1:11).

Hannah pleaded earnestly with God, and God heard her and answered her prayer in the affirmative. This godly woman not only believed that God could answer her prayer, she was confident that He would answer her prayer! She was so sure, in fact, that she vowed to dedicate the life of her son to the Lord’s service.

What a marvelous example for God’s children today. Like Hannah, we should turn to the Lord when we are faced with difficulties. Too many run from God when they face trials.

Like Hannah, we must believe in the power of prayer. As Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

Like Hannah, let us commit to keep the promises to the Lord. We should not bargain with Him, saying, “If you do this, I will be faithful.” Rather, we should commit to keeping His commands because we love Him and He loves us—in fact, He loved us so much that He died for us!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 72/260: Samson

Read Judges 14-16

Wasted Potential

It is all too common in the sports world to hear of an athlete with great potential, yet his career fails to live up to the hype. I remember one such pitcher drafted by the New York Yankees, whose career was derailed by a physical altercation. There was also a highly touted outfielder for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays who got mixed up in drugs, and while he was able to table those temptations for a time and play well at the big-league level, eventually succumbed again. Neither of these individuals truly lived up to their potential largely because of unwise decisions.

Similarly, Samson had what seemed like unlimited potential. Inspiration says that Samson “grew, and the Lord blessed him” (Judges 13:24). We are told of Samson’s impressive strength. We are told of his confrontation with a young lion, “and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand” (Judges 14:6). He then foolishly challenged the Philistines with a riddle, which was explained to them by his wife. Since they learned the explanation, he owed them “thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing” (Judges 14:12). To pay, “he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle” (Judges 14:19).

Time after time, Samson shows great physical strength but great emotional weakness. He lacked self-control. He gave into carnal lust. He abused the blessings God had given him. Yet, he is listed among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32.

It was in Samson’s final hour that we see his faith. The Philistines, the great enemies of the people of God, had deceived Samson into telling the secret of his strength. They cut his hair, bound him, and used him as a grinder in the prison. They rejoiced and gave praise to their god Dagon for delivering the strong man into their hands.

Samson called out to the Lord one last time for deliverance. Despite all the foolishness and wasted potential of his life, at the end he was counted faithful. May we resolve not to wait until the end of our lives to do what is right. Fulfill your potential in Christ!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 71/260: Manoah

Read Judges 13

Teach Us!

How do you respond to the commands of God when you read them in the inspired record? We do not receive direct communication from Him as Manoah’s wife did in this instance, but the words which were given by inspiration are just as binding on us as were the words given directly to men in the Scriptures.

When his wife related to Manoah the things that she heard from the Angel of the Lord, he went to God in prayer. “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born” (Judges 13:8). What a noble request made with a non-doubting, faithful heart! “Teach us!” Do we have that same attitude as we read the Scriptures?

God has told us to do certain things and to avoid other things. Do we pray that we might be taught how to obey more effectively? Jesus commanded His apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). How? What is the most effective way to evangelize? Shall we knock on doors, write letters, purchase time on the television, livestream on Facebook?

All of these have varying levels of success, partly depending on the community in which one lives. What works in New York may not be effective in rural Kentucky, and vice versa. Thus we, must use the intelligence and common sense with which God blesses us to make some decisions based on our environment.

Maybe you are not to the point that you are ready to evangelize because there are things that would hinder your own personal influence. Are you willing to be taught to be better? Peter told the Jews on Pentecost, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Do you know what the words “repent” and “be baptized” mean? Have you looked them up in the dictionary, read articles about these subjects, investigated the religious beliefs and practices of the congregation where you attend?

Whatever the topic may be—repentance, baptism, or evangelism—have the same attitude as the father of Samson, who prayed to God, “Teach us!”

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 70/260: Jephthah

Read Judges 11:29-40

Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

Jephthah was one of the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11. Without exposition into the reason of his inclusion, the Hebrews writer simply said, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah…” (Hebrews 11:32). Of these judges and other Biblical figures, inspiration says that they had “obtained a good testimony through faith” (Hebrews 11:39). Does this mean they were perfect? An examination of the Biblical record shows just the opposite!

Without thinking through the implications, Jephthah made a rash vow to God. “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely by the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31).

Indeed, God used Jephthah to conquer the people of Ammon. And what came out of Jephthah’s house to meet him upon his return home? “When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter” (Judges 11:34).

What a sad state of affairs! Jephthah had promised to offer her to the Lord, not knowing she would be the one to meet him! Commentators are divided over the issue of whether he actually offered her as a burnt offering or simply dedicated her to the service of the Lord. For an explanation of the latter understanding, read James Burton Coffman’s thoughts on the matter in his commentary on the book of Judges.

The point is this: Jephthah realized he needed to follow through with his vow. “For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it” (Judges 11:35). When one says they will do something, whether a promise or not, they should follow through with it even if it is not to their benefit.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says it best: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—better not to vow than to vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 69/260: Jephthah

Read Judges 11:1-11

God Sees Worth in the World’s “Worthless”

It is often difficult to escape your past, even when you had no real control over it. The writers of the book of Judges says that Jephthah “was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot” (Judges 11:1). Because of this, he was rejected by his father’s legitimate sons. Even though he was cast out by his own family, though, Jephthah found companionship with other “worthless men” (Judges 11:3). The New International Version uses the phrase “a gang of scoundrels” to describe this group.

The New King James Version says that this group “went out raiding with” Jephthah (Judges 11:3), but James Burton Coffman opines, “More than likely, he, like David, protected settlements from marauders.” The ensuing events lends some credence to Coffman’s view.

Faced with war against Ammon, the elders of Gilead begged for Jephthah’s assistance. The man that they once viewed as worthless, they now saw as their deliverer. His response to their plea is understandable, considering their former mistreatment of him. “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the Lord delivers them to me, shall I be your head?” (Judges 11:9). An agreement was struck between Jephthah and the elders of Gilead, and he went to work against Ammon.

Have you ever felt worthless? Felt like an outcast among your friends and family? Maybe you fell into sin, then repented, but it can be difficult to reestablish trust with those who were once close to you. God can still use you.

The apostle Paul lists several types of sinners that will not be saved as long as they continue in their sin. “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). If you are involved in these activities, you cannot be saved—but if you repent, turn your life away from sinful behaviors and toward a godly lifestyle, God will forgive you! Paul continues, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

The world may see you as worthless, but God will count you worthy of His forgiveness if you seek Him and obey Him!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 68/260: Ruth

Read Ruth 3:10-11

Selfless Love

Ruth’s loyalty and commitment to her mother-in-law is a highlight of this woman’s virtue. When she presented herself to Boaz, he noted that her options were not limited. He said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:10-11).

Many commentators believe that Boaz may have been as old as 80 at this time. Ruth, as a Moabitess not bound to Jewish laws and customs, could have decided to marry someone closer to her own age. She could have sought after someone whose personality and interests more closely matched her own.

Yet her devotion to her mother-in-law was unwavering. She truly meant it when she told Naomi, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). Such allegiance is praiseworthy, and the people of Bethlehem took note of Ruth’s virtuous dedication. She wanted nothing but the best for Naomi, even if it meant sacrificing her own wants and desires.

We are faced with difficult choices every day. Will we choose the things that brighten someone else’s life? Will we seek after our own happiness, regardless of how such affects another person?

More importantly, will we choose the things that glorify God? Jesus explained that the heathen peoples concerned themselves with food and drink and clothing, but that such anxiety was unnecessary. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). In the kingdom, we must be more concerned with the wellbeing of our fellowman. Paul wrote, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).

Ruth cared deeply for her mother-in-law and gave more thought to Naomi’s security than her own. Shouldn’t we do the same?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 67/260: Naomi

Read Ruth 1:8-9; 3:1-5

Work While You Pray

There is an old saying: “Pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on you.” We see this adage at work in the life of Naomi.

In the first chapter of Ruth, after the death of Naomi’s husband and two sons, she told Ruth and Orpah, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband” (Ruth 1:8-9). Ruth declines and stays with Naomi. Then in the third chapter, Naomi gave Ruth instructions on how to behave in order that she might become Boaz’s wife.

Naomi prayed, and then she worked! She was not content to simply pray and sit back and let whatever happens happen. She wanted to work with God to bring about the answer to her prayer.

Consider the model prayer our Lord taught to His disciples. He said that they should pray for daily bread; did that mean they should not work to obtain bread? Should they just wait for God to feed them? Does He not feed His children through the blessing of employment?

Paul told the saints in Ephesus to pray for him, “that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20). Paul was going to join his actions to the Ephesians’ prayers.

When we pray for the borders of the Lord’s kingdom to be expanded, for His church to grow, do we sit idly by and just wait for someone to come asking for a Bible study? Or do we actively seek people to teach? The Great Commission is clear: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Should we pray for evangelistic opportunities? Of course! Yet, we cannot wait for people to come to us; we must go to them!

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).