God Tests the Heart

August 29, 2014

God Tests the Heart

1 Chronicles 29:17: I know, my God, that you examine our hearts, and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.

The old song about Santa Claus says that he’s “keeping a list and checking it twice, going to find out who’s naughty and nice.” Imagine if Santa could see the heart, instead of just the outside of the person. What kind of list would he have then?

Santa is a myth, but God isn’t. He sees the heart. He knows what thoughts go through our minds. He knows when we wish we could kill someone. He hears it if we curse and use bad words in our heart, even if we don’t say them with our tongues. He sees when we wish trouble on someone we don’t like.

What does God see in your heart? Does he see kindness and love, goodness and friendship? Or hatred, lies and scorn for others? What does he see?

How can you clean up your heart? There’s a simple way. Just like a garden needs water, and grows beautiful veggies when watered, so your heart needs spiritual water to grow good thoughts and kind attitudes. What is that spiritual water? The water of the word of God. When we douse our hearts in God’s word, memorizing it and keeping it deep inside, God begins to change our thoughts. We soon have pure, friendly thoughts going through our brains, instead of muck.

Prayer: Jesus, help me to see beauty in my heart by learning your word. Amen.
TO BE CONTINUED:

The writing in this blog is available as a book on Amazon.com under Mark Littleton, Through the Bible Devotions, at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Bible-Devotions-Genesis-Revelation/dp/0784714746/ref=sr_1_38?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406490323&sr=1-38&keywords=mark+littleton

Giving Should Cost Something

August 21, 2014

Giving Should Cost Something

1 Chronicles 21:24: But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying what it is worth. I cannot take what is yours and give it to the LORD. I will not offer a burnt offering that has cost me nothing!”

There’s an old story about a twenty dollar bill and a one-dollar bill talking about their adventures. The twenty tells the one, “I’ve been to Paris, France, to New York City, all over the Midwest. I’ve been to carnivals and great plays and I’ve even been used to buy a giant-screen television. You should see what I’ve seen.”

The one responded, “I wish I was like you. For me, it’s always the same: go to church. Go to church. Go to church.”

That’s funny, but it makes an important point. Many Christians find it easy to put a dollar in the offering plate. What’s a dollar? A large candy bar? A hamburger? A box of pens? A Hot Wheels car? We don’t really worry too much about giving a dollar. It’s nothing.

When King David was confronted with a similar situation, he knew what to do. He wanted to make a sacrifice to God. Araunah, a man of faith, offered to give him everything he needed. But David refused to take it for free. He would not sacrifice to God something that cost him nothing.

When you give to the work of God, it should cost you something. It should be a bit of a sacrifice. When we give like that, God is pleased.

Prayer: Lord, help me always to give so that it costs me something. Amen.

TO BE CONTINUED:

The writing in this blog is available as a book on Amazon.com under Mark Littleton, Through the Bible Devotions, at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Bible-Devotions-Genesis-Revelation/dp/0784714746/ref=sr_1_38?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406490323&sr=1-38&keywords=mark+littleton

Three Parts of Prayer

August 12, 2014

Three Important Parts of Prayer

1 Chronicles 16:4: David appointed the following Levites to lead the people in worship before the Ark of the LORD by asking for his blessing and giving thanks and praise the to the LORD, the God of Israel.

How should we pray? What should we pray about?

The verse we look at today offers us some keen insight. In it, King David told the priests to pray in three specific ways in the temple.
1. Petition. That’s bringing requests to the Lord. “Jesus, please do such and such for so and so.” “Lord, help me study well for the test tomorrow.” “God, enable me to play well in the game this afternoon.” You make a request for yourself or others, and God answers.
2. Thanks. A second element of prayer is thanksgiving. You thank God for answering your prayers. You thank him for helping you. You thank him for being your friend. It’s not hard at all. God has done something good in your life. You thank him, just like you would your mom or dad.
3. Praise. An important dimension of prayer, this is where you let God know how great you think he is. “Lord, praise you for your love. I couldn’t live without it.” “Father, praise you for being the great God of the universe. You are the best.” Praise is perhaps the highest form of prayer, because it’s us giving God our love and adoration.

Do you use all three elements in your prayer life? Try it today. After you make a request, thank him. And after you thank him, praise him. It’s a good pattern to follow.

Prayer: Jesus, please make my prayer life blossom. I want to learn to pray well. Amen.

TO BE CONTINUED:

The writing in this blog is available as a book on Amazon.com under Mark Littleton, Through the Bible Devotions, at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Bible-Devotions-Genesis-Revelation/dp/0784714746/ref=sr_1_38?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406490323&sr=1-38&keywords=mark+littleton

The Three Mighty Men

August 6, 2014

The Three Mighty Men

1 Chronicles 11:17-18: David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, that I would love some of the good water from the well in Bethlehem!” So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well and brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out before the LORD.

When a football team wins the Super Bowl, the teammates carry the coach out on their shoulders.

When a smart student gets perfect grades, he wins awards.

When a wise person makes a great speech, we give her applause.

What did David do when three of his men did something incredible?

You find the story in today’s reading. David, before he was king, often fought the Philistines. He gathered around him many fighting men who were loyal and strong. One day, he simply mused by the fire and commented how he’d love some water from the well in Bethlehem, his home town. Three men were listening. They barged right into enemy territory, grabbed a pitcher and took the water from under the Philistines’ noses.

When they returned to camp, David was astounded. He probably congratulated the men on their courage and love. But then he did something that was perfect. He poured out the water as an offering to the Lord.

When someone does something well, what is the right response? Congratulate them, yes. Give them awards – sure. But first, thank God. He made it possible.

Prayer: Lord, may I always remember you are the one to praise. Amen.

TO BE CONTINUED:

The writing in this blog is available as a book on Amazon.com under Mark Littleton, Through the Bible Devotions, at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Bible-Devotions-Genesis-Revelation/dp/0784714746/ref=sr_1_38?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406490323&sr=1-38&keywords=mark+littleton

A Special Prayer

August 2, 2014

A Special Prayer

1 Chronicles 4:10: He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and extend my lands! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain.” And God granted him his request.

This prayer might be a good guide for anyone who seeks God’s blessing. The important thing this prayer reveals is that the author of it wanted the blessing God had for him. What blessing was that? He didn’t know. But he believed God wanted to bless him. He didn’t demand riches, honor, fame, power or anything like that. No, he just wanted God to bless him in whatever way God wanted to.

Think about that. Are you praying for all kinds of things in your life? But what if God has better, greater blessings in mind? What if God really wants to bless you with something incredible, but because you’re always praying about something else, you’ve missed it?

That was the secret of this prayer. The author just asked God to bless him however He wanted. That’s a great way to pray. Why? Because it lets God be God, and you the blessed one.

Prayer: Father, help me to learn to pray with power. Amen.

The writing in this blog is available as a book on Amazon.com under Mark Littleton, Through the Bible Devotions, at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Bible-Devotions-Genesis-Revelation/dp/0784714746/ref=sr_1_38?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406490323&sr=1-38&keywords=mark+littleton

Return to God’s Word

July 27, 2014

Return to God’s Word

2 Kings 22:13: “Go to the Temple and speak to the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah. Ask him about the words written in this scroll that has been found. The LORD’s anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll.”

Can you imagine going to church and having no Bible? No matter where you look, no one has a copy. It has disappeared.

That’s what happened in the nation of Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel). God’s word was forgotten, perhaps for many years. The priests did their duties. The king listened to counsel. But God’s word was gone.

Imagine if you knew nothing about what God’s word says. No promises from God when you’re down. No hope from God when you’re hurting. No power from God when you need strength.

One day a priest found a copy of the Law, the word of God, in the temple. He reported to Josiah, king of Judah at that time, what he’d found. Josiah had the priest read the book to him. When he heard it, he was startled. Amazed. Shocked. His people had ignored God’s law for too many years. He would change that immediately.

Josiah began some great reforms that saved Judah from destruction. The power of God’s word worked. Many people were saved.

God’s word has power. Without it, we cannot survive. But with it, we will live forever.

Prayer: Lord, teach me to live off your word like food. Amen.

The writing in this blog is available as a book on Amazon.com under Mark Littleton, Through the Bible Devotions, at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Bible-Devotions-Genesis-Revelation/dp/0784714746/ref=sr_1_38?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406490323&sr=1-38&keywords=mark+littleton

God’s Protection

July 26, 2014

God’s Protection

2 Kings 19:35: That night the angel of the LORD went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian troops. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere.

King Hezekiah had a serious problem. The Assyrian army, 185,000 strong, surrounded the city of Jerusalem. There was no escape. The Assyrian commanders even shouted out to the soldiers of the king standing on the ramparts that he would conquer them. He wanted them to give up now, and live.

Many people would reel in shock at such a situation. But King Hezekiah was a man of faith. He went into the temple and prayed, and then he talked to Isaiah, God’s prophet. Isaiah assured Hezekiah that if he would only trust, God would save them.

Hezekiah spoke to his people. He assured them they were safe. God was about to do a miracle.

What a miracle it was, too. An angel of the Lord destroyed the army. 185,000 soldiers died that night and the commander of the Assyrians escaped into the night to go back to Assyria where he was later assassinated.

The amazing thing is that this event is not just recorded in the Bible. Herodotus, a Greek historian, referred to it in his writings. He believed a “plague of rats” killed the Assyrian army.

We know the truth. God protects his people. Follow him, and he will be with you.

Prayer: Jesus, help me to trust in your protection always. Amen.

THe Devil ALmost Wins It All

July 19, 2014

The Devil Almost Wins It All

2 Kings 11:1: When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she set out to destroy the rest of the royal family.

Has the devil ever come close to winning his war against God?

He thought so, several times. When Sarah, the wife of Abraham, couldn’t seem to have children, it looked like a lost cause. But God did a miracle, and Isaac was born.

Next, when King Saul pursued David and almost killed him, it appeared that the devil had nearly won. But God preserved David.

When Jesus was crucified, the devil thought he’d won for sure. But Jesus rose from the dead.

In today’s story, Athaliah, a wicked queen, snatched the throne of David away from the rightful son. She had all the household of Ahaziah her son murdered. She wanted all the power.

God did something, though. He saved one member of the family, Joash, just a baby at the time through a faithful princess. Athaliah reigned for six years while Joash was hidden by the priests. At the right time, they brought Joash out and crushed Athaliah once and for all.

Satan thought God’s kingdom hung by a thread – one little baby. But in God’s world, God was in control all along. The devil was once again driven out and God’s kingdom stood firm. You can trust God that he will bring you through, too.

Prayer: Father, I know you will save me to the end because you love me. Amen.

Seeing the Truth

July 12, 2014

Seeing the Truth

2 Kings 6:17: Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see.” The LORD opened his servant’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

An army surrounded the prophet Elisha and his servant Gehazi. It looked like no escape. Every side was taken. Spears glinted in the sunlight. Arrowheads looked bright and sharp. Swords were drawn.

What could they do?

When Gehazi stepped out of the tent that morning, he wanted to run. But there was nowhere to run to. It was then that Elisha came out of the tent and looked around. Elisha could see something that Gehazi didn’t. What was it? The armies of God.

Around the mountain, standing between the foreign army and the prophet, were angels. Bright, shining, powerful angels. Later, just one of those angels would slay 185,000 men (see 2 Kings 19). And here was a whole army of them. Imagine what that army could do.

Gehazi, though, couldn’t see this army. So Elisha prayed for him, and God opened Gehazi’s eyes.

Did you know that angels are here with you, too? You are personally protected by God. No one can touch you unless God allows it!

Prayer: Jesus, help me to feel safe in you, because you are the great protector. Amen.

A Double Portion of God’s Spirit

July 8, 2014

A Double Portion of God’s Spirit

2 Kings 2:9: When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you before I am taken away?” And Elisha replied, “Please let me become your rightful successor.”

What do you want most in life? Riches? Honor? Fame? Glory? Popularity? Pleasure?

These are all nice things, and God does give them to some people. But most of us have to be happy with our lot in life. There’s not much we can do to change that.

There is one thing, though, that you can ask of God. It’s found in the Bible passage we’re looking at today. Elijah was about to leave the earth and go to heaven. His disciple, Elisha, followed him down to the river. There, Elijah asked Elisha what he most wanted. Elisha was about to become a great prophet. Surely he could have anything he wanted, like Solomon did.

But Elisha had his mind on only one thing. He wanted a “double portion” of the Spirit that Elijah had had, as it’s written in other translations. What does that mean? He wanted twice the joy, twice the love, twice the peace and twice the power that Elijah had.

Isn’t that amazing? You know what is more amazing? Elijah gave it to him, in the name of God.

If you want to ask God for something special today, think about asking for a double portion of his Spirit. Your life will never be the same.

Prayer: Lord, grant to me that double portion so I can serve you doubly well. Amen.


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