Friday, October 09, 2015

Do you eat every day?

Sandwiches with pickles and fruit

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Job 23:1-17

"I have treasured the words of His mouth
More than my necessary food." - Job 23:12

Because of this blog's foody title and the way daily Bible reading, meditation, and prayer have always seemed like needed spiritual rations to me, it's no wonder that Job's mention of God's word as food caught my attention.

  • Job pictures God's word as treasured and essential food—more important than physical food.

Here are some other benefits of "eating" God's word:
  • It keeps us spiritually alive.
"… man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" - Deuteronomy 8:3, also Matthew 4:4.

  • It satisfies our desire for what is truly sweet:
"How sweet are Your words to my taste
Also sweeter than honey to my mouth" - Psalm 119:103; Psalm 19:10.

  • It leaves us feeling joyful:
"Your words were found, and I ate them;
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart" - Jeremiah 15:16.

  • It delivers essentials for ministry (a spiritual vitamin pill, if you will):
"Moreover He said to me, 'Son of man, eat what you find, eat this scroll and go, speak to the house of Israel" - Ezekiel 3:1.

  • Drinking and eating it helps us grow:
"As newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby" - 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32; Hebrews 5:13.

  • Through ingesting it we remain doctrinally healthy:
"… nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed" - 1 Timothy 4:6.

  • Biting off and chewing its more complex and difficult portions matures us and sharpens our palette to discern good and evil:
"But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" - Hebrews 5:14.

I don't know what form those "words of His mouth" came to Job. An audible voice? A deep heart conviction? Words written on a clay tablet or scroll? However, for us there is no question about this. For us who have the Bible translated in our language and available in dozens of versions, God's word is as available and handy as the pantry or fridge in our house—a banquet book that never runs out. Let's eat it regularly!

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the Bible. Help me to read it, understand it, and obey it. Amen. 

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Job's comforters

Job is visited by his three friends
"Job Is Visited by His Three Friends" - Artist Unknown


TO CHEW ON: "So they (Job's three friends) sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights and no one spoke a word to him for they saw that his grief was very great." Job 2:13

Life is full of bad news. We're always glad when that bad news isn't ours and we can comfort instead of grieve. How should we respond to someone who has lost a loved one through death, suffered a life-changing accident, or got the worst diagnosis?

We actually have two responses here:
  • Job's wife advised him to give up. "Curse God and die!" she said (Job 2:9). Having just listened in on the conversation between Satan and God, where Satan said, "But now, stretch out Your hand ... and he will surely curse You to Your face" (Job 1:11) the source of Job's wife's idea becomes clear. It was part of Satan's test, inspired by the father of lies and destruction himself. Job's answer was a definite 'no '(Job 2:10) and it was probably therapeutic for Job to hear himself put into words his faith in God in the face of all that had happened.
  • Job's friends also came to commiserate with him. These are the three men whose later attempts to comfort fell so flat people have coined the phrase "Job's comforter" to describe a person whose attempts to comfort hurt more than they help. But I would say that in today's reading, they did at least two things right:
- They came to be with Job.
- For one week they sat in silent empathy with him.
What are some other right things to do to comfort someone who is grieving. Rebecca's husband died of cancer in the prime of his life so she has had experience with grief. In an article called "What to do when someone you know dies," she gives ten suggestions of actions we can take after someone's death:

1. Send a card or letter.
2. Send flowers.
3. Give food.
4. Give to a good cause in the deceased person's name.
5. Visit.
6. Tell them your memories of their loved one.
7. Offer to do something specific for them.
8. Go to the funeral or memorial service.
9. Invite the family over for coffee.
10. Pray for them.
Of course the ways to comfort people going through other tragedies would be slightly different, but some of these items would apply.

Rebecca ends her article with this advice:
"The most important thing to remember is that exactly what you do isn’t as important as that you do something to acknowledge the death. If you’ve procrastinated until you’re afraid it’s too late, take heart; it’s not. A month later or half a year later, your gesture will still be appreciated. Who knows, it might even be more appreciated, because by then the dust has settled and reality has set in." Read entire article...

So before we dump all over Job's friends, let's give credit where it's due. They came and they sat with Job as he grieved the death of his kids and the state of his health. That was a good thing.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have empathy with those who are grieving and to know how to show it in tactful and comforting ways. Amen.

MORE: A passage about comfort

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Drive-Thru

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Satan's to-do list

Daily Activities list - photo

TO CHEW ON: " ' But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has and he will surely curse You to Your face." Job 1:11

What an interesting drama we see playing out in today's reading: Satan intermingling with the good angels as they appear before God (Job 1:6); God singling him out with a question (Job 1:8); and Satan rising to the occasion with a challenge back to God (Job 1:9-11). It appears that one of the tasks he has set for himself is to slander the saints (something he continues to do - Revelation 12:10).

A short stroll through the Bible makes us privy to some of the other nasty things on his to-do list:
  • Tempt people to be disobedient. He was behind Eve's and Adam's sin (Genesis 3:4,5) and he was also behind David's sin of commanding a census when God was not for it (1 Chronicles 21:1).
  • Inflict disease. As we read further on in Job, we see the active role Satan played in Job's case of boils (Job 2:7).
  • Oppose God's ministers—as Zechariah saw in his vision of priest Joshua in the temple (Zechariah 3:1).
  • Tempt Christ (Matthew 4:1,3).
  • Remove truth with falsehood. Jesus, in His parables, shows Satan removing the good seed or truth (Matthew 13:19) and sowing tares or what is false (Matthew 13:38,39).
  • Torture those in his possession. The Bible is full of the mental and physical anguish of the demon-oppressed and possessed (Luke 9:42; 13:16).
  • Lie, lie lie (John 8:44).
  • Instigate sin. This is what he did in the heart of Judas to betray Jesus (John 13:2) and Ananias and Sapphira to lie about their offering (Acts 5:3).
  • Hassle, persecute, and kill Christians. Paul attributed his "thorn in the flesh" as a "messenger of Satan" to "buffet" him (2 Corinthians 12:7). In Revelation, John sees those who have been killed for their faith--who "...overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11).
  • Hinder Christian activity. Paul blames Satan for keeping him from visiting the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
  • Prey on people. Peter and John clearly alert us to this in 1 Peter 5:8 and Revelation 2:10.

Though we will probably never have as clear a behind-the-scenes clip of Satan at work in our lives as we get in Job, when we review the above list of his activities it's not hard to see his fingerprints all over our circumstances as well. Let's follow Peter's advice to:

"Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. 
"Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world." - 1 Peter 5:8,9 AMP.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that Satan is , through Christ, a defeated enemy. Help me to live alert to his methods and schemes in my life and in the world around me. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible,
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Esther 9:20-10:3

"And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor." - Esther 9:20-22

Every time I log onto Facebook I get a little reminder of whom among my friends is celebrating a birthday on this day. Sending people greets and having parties on birthdays is one way we celebrate individuals in our culture.

We also celebrate special days: love on Valentine's Day, all things Irish on St. Patrick's Day, Mothers and Fathers on their respective days, our country on our national holiday...

God is a great believer in celebrations. The Old Testament is full of parties (called "Feasts") that He instituted for the Israelites to celebrate. In some ways they were a lot like our holidays. The Israelites were to take time off work and they often ate special food.

But these feasts were also different. Most of our celebrations are only a day or a weekend long. Some of the Israelites' feasts lasted a whole week or longer. And while our celebrations are often all about us–what gifts we’ll get, what we’ll eat, how much fun we’ll have–the Israelites’ holidays helped them focus on God.

Some of them, like the Passover, helped them remember how God had helped in the past. Others, like the Feast of First fruits, were times they gave God the first things they harvested. The Feast of Purim (instituted by Mordecai here) reminded them of the miraculous turn of events that began when Queen Esther took her life in her hands to approach the king and beg for the life of her people.

In addition to helping the people remember what God had done, celebrations were also one way the Israelites were to fulfill God's command to teach His ways to their children. Moses instructed them on this in Deuteronomy 6. Not only were parents to explain God's laws to their children in the course of everyday life (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) but they were also to explain God's miracle interventions in the context of His testimonies, statutes and judgements (which included observing the special feasts - Deuteronomy 6:20-22).

Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to add some spiritual celebrations to our secular ones—having  parties, for example, commemorating the day we were born again, the day we were baptized, or the day God answered a significant prayer for us or our family. Because we also need to keep these memories strong and pass the stories on to our kids!

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for reasons to celebrate and times of celebration. Help me to take time to recall and retell the stories of how You have worked in my life and the life of my family. Amen.

MORE: Purim

The Jewish people still celebrate the Feast of Purim. Here are some things they do on that day:

1. They read the story of Esther from the Hegillah (the Scroll). They cheer whenever Esther’s name is mentioned, boo at Haman’s name and wave graggers or noisemakers. They also act out the story in plays.

2. They wear costumes, disguises and masks to remind them of how Esther had to hide the fact that she was Jewish.

3. They send gifts to each other and the poor. They also invite people to join them in a special Purim meal.

4. They make special food. One treat is called Hamantaschen (Haman’s Hat). It is a three-cornered pastry filled with poppy seeds or prunes.

(Adapted from the Bible Drive-Thru devotion "From Sadness to Celebration")

The Feast of Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar (Hebrew calendar), which changes from year to year on the secular calendar. 
2015 - March 3 & 4; 
2016 - March 23 & 24; 
2017 - March 9 & 12.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Drive-Thru

Monday, October 05, 2015


The king extends his sceptre to Esther - Artist unknown
The king extends his sceptre to Esther - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Esther 9:1-19

TO CHEW ON: "The Jews gathered together in their cities …. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people." Esther 9:2

Here we read again what we've read before—of God coming to the aid of His helpless and outnumbered people, the Jews, using the psychological weapon of fear in their enemies.

This fear of the Jews is an old theme from when God promised to help the Israelites conquer Canaan. Moses reminded the Israelites of this repeatedly in passages like Numbers 14:9, Deuteronomy 7:24, 11:25; 28:7; 32:30.

When Joshua became their leader, God promised to help him in the same way - Joshua 1:5; 10:8. We read of the results of this fear in places like Joshua 12:1; 21:44; 23:9.

The Old Testament prophets continued to predict fear in the enemies of the Jews. God was intent on preserving the people out of which His Son would be born to bring salvation for the world  - Isaiah 19:17; Jeremiah 15:20; Daniel 11:16; Zechariah 9:13.  This incident in Persia is an example of this fear in action.

When Jesus walked the earth, we recall the many times during his life when the scribes and Pharisees, who were intent on killing him, were mysteriously hindered from harming Him by fear of one kind or another - Matthew 21:26,46; Mark 12:12; Luke 5:26; 20:19.

And the wonderful thing is that the promise of invincibility comes down to us.

Jesus promised about the church that the "... gates of hell shall not prevail against it" - Matthew 16:18.

Paul tells Christians to put on the armor of God, take up the shield of faith and in this way they would be able to "... quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one" - Ephesians 6:16.

No wonder the demons believe and "... tremble" - James 2:19.

When we feel small, insignificant, and badly outnumbered in an unbelieving world, let's not lose sight of the fact that God is still at work in the enemy's ranks. And He still has the weapon of fear in His arsenal.

Dear God, please help me to live with confidence that Your plans and purposes for this world will never be thwarted. Amen.

MORE: Modern fear of the Jews
When former KGB spy Jack Barsky (a Soviet spy in the U.S. during the Cold War years) recently talked to Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes, he said that the Jews were one of three things the Soviets feared most during those years. (The others were AIDS and Ronald Reagan).

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Gentle touch of blessing

"Jesus blesses the Children" from Treasures of the Bible
"Jesus blesses the Children" from Treasures of the Bible

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 10:1-6

TO CHEW ON: "Then they brought little children to Him that He might touch them … And He took them up in HIs arms, laid His hands on them and blessed them." Mark 10:13,16

What a beautiful picture of God incarnate, interacting with children.

He touches them.

[Touch - hapto means to fasten to a thing, kindle, set of fire. It's the same word that's used often in the gospels of Jesus when He heals people, or they reach out and contact some part of Him.]

Here Jesus' touch delivers a blessing.

He takes the children in His arms and lays His hands on them. It is a picture of gentleness.  Other places in the Bible where we see God or His servants handling people with gentleness:
  • David, when praying a psalm of thanksgiving after the danger of Saul is past says "Your gentleness has made me great" - 2 Samuel 22:36 and also Psalm 18:35.
  • Isaiah prophesies that Messiah will be gentle:
"He will feed His flock like a shepherd . … and gently lead those who are with young" - Isaiah 40:11.
"A bruised reed He will not break
And smoking flax He will not quench" - Isaiah 42:3.
Matthew points out that Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah's predictions (Matthew 12:20).
  • Paul speaking to the Christians in Corinth does it with meekness and gentleness - 2 Corinthians 10:1. He reminds the church in Thessalonica that he ministered among them with gentleness: "… just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children" - 1 Thessalonians 2:7.

Let's be challenged today by this beautiful example of Jesus and His servants, to touch things—physically and in ministry and speech—with gentleness, delivering healing and a blessing.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, as I interact with people today, please bring to mind the picture of You gently touching and holding the children to bless and heal.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

One secret of self-denial

Jesus' Sermon on the Mount - Artist unknown
Jesus' Sermon on the Mount - Artist unknown

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 9:38-50

TO CHEW ON: " ' If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off … And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off … And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out…' " Mark 9:43,45,47.

Yikes, it sounds like Jesus is talking about self-mutilation here! But I don't believe He means for us to actually slice ourselves apart—not, at least, if we take to heart the meaning of His message. He's talking about the need for self-denial that's so important, so necessary, it warrants extreme measures.

I'm reminded of a passage I came across in the last few days in a book I'm reading:
"There is but one check that provides the balance to all appetites. It's the word we'd rather not agree to, at least push as far to the side as we can—'self denial.' But without self-denial, every eater is a glutton, every earner a larcenist, every lover is a rapist. So at the outset of our call to follow Jesus is his entreaty—stern yet beautiful—'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me' - Luke 9:23 KJV" - Calvin Miller, Into the Depths of God, Kindle Location (KL) 165.

Miller goes on to elaborate on the challenges of self-denial. One he brings up is the tendency we have to focus on what we have to give up—to quit. It could be a lot of things: that third piece of cake our hand reaches for; that party our feet would take us to; that movie we can't take our eyes away from.

Miller says, "So then, why don't we do it— why don't we deny ourselves? We fail at self-denial for three reasons. First, our focus is usually on the braking system rather than the steering wheel" - KL 169. (And you'll have to get the book to find out what the other two are.)

And here is Miller's solution for that braking vs. steering focus:
"… I needed to quit quitting. Quitting involves a cathexis that is focused on what or what not to quit. Those who focus on Christ rarely have to quit anything because their desire for union with Christ prohibits them from starting anything they might later want to quit" - KL 243.

Now there's a challenge to take up: start to focus on Christ—His excellence, His example, His friendship, the well-being of an intimate relationship with Him … I'm reminded of the words of the old hymn:

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace." - Helen H. Lemmel 1922 (public domain)

Dear Jesus, please help me to take my focus off what I need to quit and keep my eyes on You today. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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