Old Testament In a Year: April 23 – 1 Samuel 1, 2, 3

1 Samuel 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. – 1 Samuel 1:10

For a long time, Hannah was unable to have children. To make her situation worse, her husband’s second wife – who did have children – made fun of Hannah’s inability to have children. This caused Hannah deep distress. But she did not keep her distress to herself. She turned her pain, her problems, and her tears over to the Lord by praying to Him.

Just as Hannah did not carry her distress alone, you do not have to carry your concerns and troubles by yourself. Cast all your cares upon God, for He cares for you.

When you are being afflicted or find yourself the subject of someone’s jealousy or meanness, the best thing you can do is turn to the Lord. Christ is described as a Man of sorrows and one who was acquainted with grief. More than anyone else, Jesus understands your pain perfectly and He can bring peace and comfort to your anguished heart.

Old Testament In a Year: April 22 – Ruth 1, 2, 3, 4

Ruth 1, 2, 3, 4
Focus Verse: The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge! – Ruth 2:12

When Ruth made the decision to return to the land of Judah with Naomi after the death of her father-in-law, brother-in-law, and husband, she had no way of knowing that things would work out so well for her. She did not take refuge in Naomi because Naomi had lost everything. And she did not take refuge in Boaz because at the time she did not know that he even existed. In other words, Ruth’s faith and dependence was not in human beings. It was in God. Ruth meant it when she said that Naomi’s God would be her God. She fully came to believe in His grace and goodness. She had faith that He would work all things out for her good. She took refuge under His wings, and because she did so, God gave her a multitude of blessings.

When you choose by faith to take refuge under God, you will find eternal protection. He will provide you with all that you need and all that you desire. Amid danger, God’s wings will keep you secure. Amid fearful times, He will keep you from being afraid. Amid raging storms, He will give you peace.

Whatever happens to you, you will know that His will is being done. Your life will progress according to the perfect plan He has for you.

Old Testament In a Year: April 21 – Judges 19, 20, 21

Judges 19, 20, 21
Focus Verse: Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing. – Judges 19:24

The old man who invited the Levite and his concubine to stay the night at his house had a warped sense of what was right. In his mind, it was okay for the worthless men of Gibeah to violate his daughter and the Levite’s concubine. But it was not okay for them to violate the Levite. He somehow reasoned that it was less wrong to prostitute the women than the Levite. He placed more value on the man’s life than he did on the women’s lives. In deciding between two evils, the old man presumed that he was choosing the lesser evil. But in God’s mind, all life – female and male – is equally valuable; and a violation of either is equally evil.

If perhaps you have to make a choice between two evils, know that one is not less evil than the other. So, choose neither.

Old Testament In a Year: April 20 – Judges 16, 17, 18

Judges 16, 17, 18
Focus Verse: Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” – Judges 16:28

Samson’s reckless behavior was probably not appreciated by God. His roller coaster relationships with Philistine women, his lies, his tattling about the source of his strength, his imprisonment at the end of his life – none of this was part of God’s original purpose for Samson. God wanted Samson to “be a Nazirite to God from the womb” and to “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”

Because God is omnipotent, He knew Samson would behave in the way that he did. So, he used Samson’s recklessness and anger issues and mishaps and mistakes and tumultuous relationships to accomplish His purpose in Samson’s life and in the nation of Israel at that time. God didn’t take back the strength that He gave to Samson. He didn’t forget about him because of his faults. When Samson had his sight and was a free, brash, powerful man, God was with him. And when Samson was blind, chained, and humiliated before the Philistines, God was with him. God remembered him. God strengthened him. God used him more mightily in his last day than in his first days.

Human beings have a tendency to take flight when those they know do stupid things. But God is not a human being. When you are disobedient or when you make a mistake or when it seems like you have screwed up your entire life, God does not run away from you. He stands by you. He fights for you to make a comeback. He does not take back the talents, gifts, and abilities He gave to you. He uses everything that you have gone through – the good and the bad, the successes and the failures, the mistakes and the miracles – to make your end greater than your beginning.

Old Testament In a Year: April 19 – Judges 13, 14, 15

Judges 13, 14, 15
Focus Verse: His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel. – Judges 14:4

Because the Philistines were Israel’s enemies and heathens who did not believe in God, Samson’s parents did not understand why their son was so bent on marrying a Philistine woman. They wanted him to marry an Israelite woman; however, they did not know that God was using their son’s behavior to bring about something good. If Samson had not sought an opportunity against the Philistines, he would not have had the opportunity to destroy them.

You may not understand why God allows others to make wrong decisions or even why He allows you to make mistakes. But amid all the failings and wrongdoing of human beings, the purpose and plans of God are being accomplished. In that regard, every situation can be thought of as being from the Lord.

Women of the Word: Young Maidens Drawing Water

Before Saul became corrupted by power and blinded by jealousy as the first king of Israel, he was just a good-hearted guy concerned about finding his father’s lost donkeys. While searching for them, the servant who was with Saul suggested that they go to a town and find a man of God who could tell them where they could find the donkeys. This man of God – also called a seer or prophet in those days – was none other than Samuel, a man who was highly respected and whose words always came true.

As Saul and his servant were going up the hill to the town, they met some young maidens who were coming out of the town to draw water. Drawing water was a common job for women to do in Old Testament and New Testament Bible times. Saul and his servant asked the young maidens, “Is the seer here?”

The chatty young maidens wasted no time in answering. They knew exactly who the seer was and where he was and what he was doing. 1 Samuel 9:12 says that they answered, “He is. He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.”

Whew! For just asking a simple four-word question, Saul and his servant had a boatload of information dropped on them. But the young maidens’ answer certainly helped them find Samuel which then led to Samuel anointing Saul as king and the rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading

Old Testament In a Year: April 18 – Judges 11, 12

Judges 11, 12
Focus Verse: And Gilead’s wife also bore him sons. And when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” – Judges 11:2

Jephthah was shunned by his step brothers because they did not share the same mother. He was regarded as illegitimate and unwanted. He was banned from having an inheritance in his father’s house due to the woman who birthed him.

This is not how it is in God’s family. You are not unwanted or unloved due to the status of your birth. Regardless of who rejects you, God will receive you. He has a plan for your life just like He had a plan for Jephthah’s life. You have an inheritance in His Heavenly kingdom. You are His beloved child.

Old Testament In a Year: April 17 – Judges 9, 10

Judges 9, 10
Focus Verse: Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. – Judges 9:56

Has someone wronged you? Has someone done evil to you or those you know? If so, don’t try to make it right on your own. It may seem like they are getting away with it just as it seemed Abimelech was getting away with murdering his seventy brothers. But God’s eyes go to and fro in all the earth. No wrong goes unnoticed by Him. He takes note of every injustice.

Vengeance is mine, the Lord says, I will repay.

Let God avenge you. Leave it to Him to right your wrongs.