Monthly Archives: March 2013

March 31 Bible Reading: Psalms 34, 56, 57, 63, 142

We’ll return again today to Psalms that are ascribed to the time of David’s life prior to his reign as king (see the March 30 reading introduction here). These Psalms relate to his experiences among the Philistines as well as his hiding in caves and the wilderness as he eluded King Saul.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For March’s supplemental Bible reading introductions CLICK HERE

For March’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

What Comes Out of Your Mouth

The mouth is the bucket that brings up what is in the well of our hearts.  (I can’t take credit for that thought, but I don’t know to whom credit is due.)

A very good indicator of the genuine interest and concern and focus of our lives is what we talk about.

Think about that in terms of your every day speech and your relationship with God.  Are the names of God and Jesus on your lips daily?  Is praise of Him and the telling of His great love for us reserved only for certain places and times and in certain company?

Listen to the opening lines of Psalm 34:
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
(Psalm 34:1-3)

This certainly is behind the otherwise curious statement God made to Joshua when commissioning him as Moses’ successor to lead Israel into Canaan.  He charged him to keep all the Law which Moses had given, not to turn from it to the right or the left, to meditate on it day and night, and that it “shall not depart from your mouth” (Josh.1:7-8).

What we love we think about, and what we think about we talk about.

How does God fit in that formula for you?

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

March 30 Bible Reading: Psalm 18, 52, 54, 59

The inscription at the heading of Psalm 18 reads, “A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this son in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand all his enemies and from the hand of Saul,…”

A number of the Psalms have inscriptions (many do not, and the inscriptions, though old, are not inspired) that ascribe them to incidents in David’s life, especially those times while he fled from Saul.  Today’s readings relate specifically to Saul’s efforts to apprehend David.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For March’s supplemental Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For March’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

With God or Without

The Psalms of today’s reading (18, 52, 54, 59) all have a common theme.

18:4-5–“The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me”
52:1,2–“Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?…your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor you worker of deceit”
54:1,3–“O God, save me by your name,…For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life”
59:1–“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me form those who rise up against me”

David, the ascribed author of each, faced many serious problems, challenges, and threats.  It is obvious there were times he did not believe he would make it through them alive.

There is another corresponding theme as well:

18:1–“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God , my rock, in whom I take refuge”
52:8–“I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever”
54:4–“Behold God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life”
59:9–“O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress”

By the very nature of life we are going to face hardships and trouble as did David.

That’s a given.

What is not a given is how we will meet these hardships.  David met them with God.  God was his strength, rock, fortress, deliverer, refuge, trust, helper, and upholder.

We too may face them with God, or we can try it alone.

I wonder how that would work out?

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Why “No God” is So Popoular

Do you ever wonder why people seem so ready and willing to accept the notion that there is no God?  I do.

I think Psalm 95 provides a good part of the answer.

Besides referencing the Israelites’ experience in the wilderness (the reason for which the Hebrews writer quotes from it in Hebrews 4:7), he first speaks of the creation:

In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
(Psalm 95:4-5)

The creation belongs to God because He made it.  Simple enough.

Now watch what he does: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” (v. 6).

Did you catch that?  He is our maker too.  If He’s our maker, then we belong to Him.  And if we belong to Him, we owe Him something–at the very least, reverence and praise and thanksgiving (see vv. 1, 2, 6).  We are answerable and accountable to Him.

That’s it.  That’s the reason why people don’t want God to be.  That’s the reason why humanity has latched on to explanations of origins (think evolution, big bang, etc.) that require no God.  If He didn’t make us, we are not answerable to Him.

But He did; and we are.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

March 29 Bible Reading: Psalm 95; Hebrews 3:1-4:13

The writer of Hebrews draws upon the distinction between those people of Israel who were allowed to enter the promised land and those who were not (about whom we read in week one of this month).  He observes how those who died in the wilderness had been ones who had received God’s blessings, yet were not permitted to enjoy the ultimate destination.  Like that, Christians are such as ones who have been blessed by God, but they too may fall short of the ultimate destination.  “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11).

In Hebrews 3, the writer relies heavily on the words of Psalm 95.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For March’s supplemental reading introduction (29th-31st) CLICK HERE

For March’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

March Supplemental Bible Reading Introduction

Supplemental Readings
March 29-31

Since this month contains days beyond 28, as did January, we will use these last three days of the month for supplementary readings.  As explained then, these are further readings based on ideas or concepts introduced during the regular reading schedule of the month.  These are intended to provide further insight and illustrate how the Bible is a connected, unified whole–not just a loose collection of spiritual writings.

For March’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

March 28 Bible Reading: Catch Up Day

Today is the scheduled Catch up day (if needed) for the fourth week of March.  No reading is planned but following are some things to think about based on this week’s readings.

1. God’s lesson to Samuel in the house of Jesse is as difficult as it is necessary. People do judge others by superficial criteria: looks, age, achievements, etc.  “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

2. God’s Spirit had come upon Saul at the time of his selection as king (1 Sam. 10:6,9).  The presence of that Spirit was no guarantee that this man would remain true and faithful, which he did not.  Neither is God’s Spirit in us as His children a guarantee of our faithfulness.  God does not allow the presence of His Spirit to overrule our own spirit and our own will.  We make the choice whether or not to honor God’s Spirit in us by remaining obedient to Him.

3. The account of David and Goliath is so well known that it has taken its place in modern culture.  Unfortunately the primary lesson has been lost. Instead of simply showing that sometimes the underdog can overcome despite overwhelming odds and win, it is that success and victory are all about relying on God and not one’s own abilities and strength.  “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts” (1 Sam. 17:45).

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For March week 4 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For March’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

How Do I Know if God is Pleased?

How can I know if God is pleased with me?

The criteria most frequently used for this assessment is how things are going in my life.  If things are smooth, problems seems to be at a minimum, and I’ve got no real issues or challenges ahead of me, that must signal God’s favor, right?

If we don’t look at it that way, we probably do this way: when things seem crummy, problems are everywhere and at every turn is another issue and challenge to face, we wonder why God is upset with us.  What am I doing wrong?

Does that sound familiar?

Think about David’s experience in 1 Samuel.  He’s a talented, courageous, likable, and even a handsome young man.  Everything seems to be going his way, but then it’s not.  His life becomes very hard.  His king (and own father-in-law) wants him dead and seems determined to let no obstacle stand in the way of that goal.

David lives life on the run; in caves and in the wilderness.  His companions are people of less than stellar character, and he must depend on the help of strangers. It gets so bad he resorts to finding refuge among his people’s arch enemies, and then even those who have benefited from his leadership turn on him in anger.

All the while, he has the favor of God.

It just seems to be so easy, and even natural, to equate good times with God’s favor and bad times with His displeasure.

The Bible never gives such a simplistic formula.  What it does tell us is that He disciplines His own children and uses various trials to mature our character (Heb. 12:7-11; James 1:2-3).  Further, Satan and sin and unrighteousness are all part of this world too.  God has allowed it.  The Bible even says “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

Instead, I’m assured of God’s favor through the blood of His Son and faithful obedience to His will (Matt. 25:21; Col. 1:10), difficult days notwithstanding.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

March 27 Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 29-31

As one would expect, David’s relationship with the Philistines–to whom he had fled–was an uneasy one.  An understandable lack of trust prevented them from allowing David to join them in the fight against Israel.

Meanwhile David has his own battle to fight with invading Amalekites.

Saul’s reign finally comes to an end at his own hand when the Philistine threat appears to him to be hopeless.  Sadly, Jonathan and his two brothers are also killed in this battle.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For March week 4 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For March’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE