"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58)

Behold The Man!

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, "Behold the man"! (John 19:1-5 KJV)

Krystal Meyers - The Beauty of Grace


Godly Women of Devotion
Mary of Bethany: Unwavering Focus

Luke 10:38-42 (Monday)
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (NIV)
1) Jesus had many followers, and He loved them all the way to the cross! But, as we study the scriptures we find that there were times when Jesus would steal away from the crowds and surround Himself with his closest disciples and dearest friends. Martha, Mary and Lazarus were especially blessed that He often chose their dwelling as a place of sanctuary—a place of peace and rest. Jesus had a special love and concern for this family (John 11:1-3; 32-36) and it is obvious that this family went to great lengths to show their love for the Savior by offering up the gracious gift of hospitality.
2) Well, we know there were no phones during these times, so how much notice do you suppose these ladies had to prepare for Jesus’ arrival?
3) Have you ever had someone drop in on you unexpectedly? How did you respond? A friend of mine told me she always had the “fixings” for cookies, brownies, or “whatnot” with special teas or coffees for just such an occasion! That’s a lady with the gift of hospitality! I wonder if Martha had some sort of contingency plan herself!
4) We see two very different hearts, personalities and spiritual gifts in operation during this brief glimpse of a time spent with Jesus. Share your insights.
5) I think most of us would acknowledge that Mary’s sitting at Jesus’ feet was absolutely a form of worship. How about Martha’s service?
6) If Martha’s service was an act of worship—where did the worship stop and the worrying begin?
7) What might have been some of her thoughts that led up to the worrying?
8) We all want to give our best to the Lord, but when does it become self-serving, or worse, self-glory and not an act that glorifies God?
9) Could pride have been at work here? bitterness? resentment? selfishiness?
10) I have to wonder what would have happened if both Mary and Martha had sat at Jesus’ feet for a while. Shortly before arriving at their home, Jesus had fed 5,000 with just fives loaves of bread and two fish! Worry, indeed!
11) Have you ever tried to serve God before first seeking Him through worship, thanksgiving and praise? without a heartfelt desire for a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with our Creator and Lord? What was the result?
12) When tempted by satan in the wilderness, Jesus told satan that “man does not live by bread alone…” (Matthew 4:1-4 and again, in John 4:30-34, Jesus speaks of another kind of food. How might things have gone differently for Martha if she had let Jesus feed her soul first? Reminds me of the story of the woman at the well needing Jesus to give her Living Water (John 4:4!)
13) Jesus did not fault Martha’s service—He spoke of her worry, her unnecessary anxiousness. Do we sometimes go far beyond what God truly desires of us? Do you think this may have been the cause of Mary’s anxiety? What is truly behind our own self-efforts? Have you ever fallen into this trap?
14) Martha’s servant’s heart was a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1), but like many of us, we put the act of service first and squeeze in the relationship—the very relationship that enables us to perform and fulfill our service—making it meaningful to God, us and others! Martha’s worship became about the “things” she felt had to be done and not about the one “THING” that was most important in her life, her Savior, Jesus Christ! That’s what Jesus meant in saying Mary had chosen best!
15) I have to ask: would Jesus (not could Jesus) have miraculously provided the necessities for this special meal? Explain your response.
16) Okay, now it’s your turn. Create your own scenario: Jesus suddenly appears at the doorstep of Martha, Mary’s and Lazarus’ home. Everyone is listening to dear Jesus tell about one life after another being radically and forever changed—one miracle after another bringing glory to God the Father. Everyone joyously laughing together, perhaps crying and praying together! Each forgetting all about their physical hunger because their souls are so full of the Bread of Life and God’s Living Water! But, because they were flesh, the hunger suddenly hits and it hits hard! The conversation is broken with tired signs and…
John 12:1-3 (Tuesday)” Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (NIV)
1) Many confused this women with that of the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50. That woman washed Jesus feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair in mournful sorrow over her sin. Her precious act of worship revealed to Jesus the depth of her repentance! The woman here in John 12 is none other than Mary, sister to Martha and Lazarus, who so often sat at Jesus’ feet to learn and worship. Her worshipful fellowship revealed to her (when Jesus’ own disciples still did not understand) that Jesus was indeed going to die, not only for her, but for the sins of the world. Her act of worship was to anoint His body for His certain burial! As it turned out, Jesus died just before the Sabbath. His followers barely had time to take His body down from the cross and hurriedly borrow a rich man’s tomb to bury Him. There was no time to properly prepare the body, as was the Jewish custom. Mary anointed Jesus ahead of time! What faith and what worship—all spiritually revealed to her through relationship! Glory!
2) What are the three acts of worship being acted out by each family member?
3) What is Martha doing? What is Martha not doing? What has changed? Why?
4) Which act of worship do you feel is of more value and worth? Which do you think Jesus would judge the best—or would He? Which act of worship does your heart respond most to?
5) Oh, I think there was more than the mere fragrance of perfume filling this house. What does 2 Corinthians 2:15 say we are to God and to the world? (Oh, see this in the KJV!)
John 12:4-8 (Wednesday)
“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages. "He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (NIV)
1) Worship is so individual! Have you ever had anyone misinterpret your motives—your sincerity? What does this do to your heart—your spirit? Does it cause you to draw back—be more reserved, to hesitate, to feel less free before your God?
2) Well, other’s motives are usually suspect when we are attacked in such a way and Judas’ motives certainly were self-serving. Can you think of other reasons others might seek to keep us from being less open with our worship?
3) “It was intended…” How does it feel to know that God has predestined—chosen you for good works that honor and bring glory to Him (Ephesians 2:10?)
Philippians 3:8-11 (Thursday)
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (NIV)
1) The world cannot fathom this concept—gain through loss! Paul had every reason to boast in himself and his accomplishments, but he counted them all as mere rubbish! What are some accomplishments are self-achievements that you need to discard in order to lean entirely and absolutely on the work accomplished by Christ for you on the cross?
2) 2) Does God ever waste what we have learned or acquired through our self-effort? Explain your response.
3) We all know that Paul was a born-again believer—had been highly favored by God in being allowed to see Jesus Christ after His resurrection and ascension into heaven. So, what does Paul mean by, “…I want to know Christ….?” See: John 17:5-26; Romans 11:33-36; 2 Corinthians 3:18
a) Are you still in the process of “knowing Christ?” Did your knowledge stop at “Savior” and never move toward “Lord?”
b) Have you learned there are many names for our God? What names do you know Him by? Share.
4) I have to share these insights from Charles Stanley, in his In Touch Daily Devotional dated June 11, 2006:
5) “To earnestly seek the Lord, to in your innermost being long to know more about Jesus Christ, you must set your mind to do so. It is not an experiential moment in which you are waiting for a feeling or an emotion to affirm that the Lord has spoken to you.
6) Rather, it is an intentional, deliberate daily effort at humbly and sincerely trying to find out more about God. If you’re going to seek the Lord, you simply must purpose to do it and trust Him to answer your heart’s cry.
7) The primary ways to learn more about God are to read His Word and communicate to Him in prayer. Perhaps you sometimes feel inundated with admonitions to read the Bible and pray, read the Bible and pray. There is a reason. These vital pursuits must be accomplished in earnest before your understanding of Christ is deepened.
8) The Holy Bible is a product of the mind and heart of God. It is the principal tool He uses to reveal Himself to us. He communicates to us through His Word and His Holy Spirit, and we communicate to Him through prayer.
9) Yet you also should consciously determine that in your conversations, Scripture study, church attendance, reading, and service you will be tenacious in longing to discover His will and His ways. These are all methods in which we learn more about God. These are also the ways in which we are richly rewarded.”
10) Again, what did Paul mean by, “…becoming like Him in His death…?” (Romans 6:3-11; Romans 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:16)
11) Now, most of us today do not even want to hear about this part of following Christ, much less experience Christ’s sufferings—but, Paul did! Oh, know that Paul wasn’t saying that suffering would help him get into heaven, but rather, that as surely as he would follow Christ in His suffering, He would he would follow Him in glorious resurrection (Romans 5; Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 4:4-18; Hebrews 12:3-12!)
Philippians 4:4-9 (Friday)
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (NIV)
1) Oh, I think Martha finally got it! In John 12:1-3, we find Martha serving, but not anxious—her heart and her mind were well guarded by Christ because:
a) She had grown in her knowledge of Christ
b) She had died to her own self-effort and lost herself in Christ
c) She had gained a spirit of gentleness
d) She had, at last arrived to that hidden and secret place of God’s peace and rest
e) She was rejoicing in God her Savior!
2) You, the beloved of Christ and the apple of God’s eye—rejoice! And, may the God of peace be with you all! Amen and Amen!


Godly Women of Devotion
Lydia: Willing Service

Actss 16:11-15 (Monday)
“From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us." (NIV)
1) 1) Philippi was a Roman colony with a very small Jewish community, but no synagogue (there had to be at least 10 “men” to have a synagogue). Yet, Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke (the writer of Acts and of course, the gospel of Luke) “expected” to find a place of prayer! Imagine! Having an expectation that God would provide! Today’s society isn’t much different from that of ancient Rome! Do you have this same expectation that God will provide and/or move in your behalf? Why or why not?
2) Read Acts 15:35-41. What was the initial purpose of this trip?
3) Read Acts 16:6-10. Who was Paul expecting to help in Macedonia?
4) Okay, the mission was to revisit the churches they had established and strengthen them in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ! Along the way, Paul has a dream of a man asking him to preach the gospel in Macedonia. Before this group can reach Macedonia, they stop in Philippi and happen upon a group of women—not the man in the vision! Paul converts a woman, Lydia—baptizing her and believers in her household! He even is persuaded to tarry when she insists upon opening her home to their group! Was Paul ever once out of the will of God? Why or why not?
5) How like us! We get our plans all mapped out and God keeps giving us these U-turns! Have you ever experienced one of God’s U-turns in your life? Were you confused? Did you doubt yourself? Your original calling? God? Please share!
6) Now I’ll ask you—why do you think these men were looking for a place to pray? Oh, we may have the message or calling from God, but we need details—the when, where and hows!
7) Enter Lydia! Lydia was a Gentile who had heard about, believed and worshiped the God of Abraham, but she had not yet heard of the saving grace of Jesus! Before Paul spoke a word to her, how had the Lord already begun to work in her life?
8) Beloved, we dearly long for and pray that our loved ones will to come to know Christ—but, it is impossible for them to do so unless the Lord “opens” their hearts! That should be our prayer! Live the life, speak gently if given the opportunity, but, oh, pray that God will open their hearts!
9) Lydia was most probably a woman of means since she was a dealer of purple cloth. Purple cloth was very costly. It was one of the cloths used in the Tabernacle. It was worn by kings and the very rich. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus by placing a purple robe around Him—signifying royalty (Diety)!
10) We learned earlier that the Lord must open our hearts, but, it doesn’t end there—that’s His part! Our responsibility is to respond in faith (John 5:24!)
11) What method of conveying the gospel did Paul use that led to Lydia’s acceptance of Christ as Savior? How is this applicable for us today?
12) Lydia was seeking God and she found Him! And, having found Christ, she immediately demonstrated a willingness to share her faith and follow Christ in water baptism! Remember, this was a Roman colony. She was a Roman citizen. Must have been quite the talk! Have you ever dared to be so bold in your faith? If not, what are some of the hindrances that are holding you back?
13) One of the most notable things about Lydia was her insistent hospitality! How willing are you to open your home, your talents, your money, your time, or just yourself—for the comfort and care of another?
Acts 16:40; Philippians 1:-7 (Tuesday)”After Paul and Silas came out of he prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left. Philippians 1:-8 – “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
1) “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!” This is the mark of a true believer—they do not fall away—they move forward with God! Lydia’s home became a frequented place of rest, comfort and fellowship for other believers! What she had, she offered it up to the Lord and His church! You may not think you have much to offer, but if you are selflessly willing—God will use you!
2) Paul speaks of a “partnership in the gospel.” What does he mean by that statement? How dd Lydia fit into that partnership? How do you?
Philippians 1:9-11 (Wednesday)
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.” (NIV)
1) 1) Even if we are blessed with the gift of hospitality or serving, it may not always be convenient or pleasant (Luke 10:38-42!) Serving can mess up “our” plans! Or, worse, it can cause us to feel like we are being taken advantage of. We are not given any indication that Lydia ever felt this way, but there may have been times when that was exactly the case ! After all, she was a business woman—she had other responsibilities! But, Lydia chose what was “best!” How often do you think we, as Christians, choose our “best” for God? How often do you?
2) What does this passage tell us is the benefit(s) of choosing God’s “best?”
Philippians 1:12-19 (Thursday)
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” (NIV)
1) Yes, Paul was an apostle, but Paul was also a servant—a servant to Jesus Christ, fulfilling his calling to spread the gospel to the Gentiles! Obviously, where he now finds himself is anything but convenient or pleasant! Yet, rather than being silenced, Paul writes that this bondage has helped to further the gospel! How so?
2) Has someone else’ unjust suffering ever emboldened you to speak out? Share.
3) Why would an unbeliever preach Jesus Christ?
4) How was Paul delivered?
Philippians 1:20-30 (Friday)
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” (NIV)
1) What are some ways Christ is exalted by the life you live?
2) Why does death not bring shame to a Christian or his/her testimony?
3) What did Paul mean when asking whether to choose life or death for himself? Do we have a choice?
4) What were Paul’s reasons for praying to live, even if it meant continued bondage?
5) We do not fight the good fight of faith alone! How does Paul encourage believers to stand? Why?
6) What does Christian unity show the world?
7) If we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will also suffer for Him! It’s inescapable! Presently, thank God, as Americans, we do not suffer as intensely as Paul and others of his day! For that matter, we do not suffer as intensely as others in many parts of the world today! Still, we do suffer! What are some of the subtle and/or not so subtle ways we suffer for Christ’s sake?
8) What purpose(s) does suffering have in a believer’s life?


Godly Women of Devotion
Hannah: Gracious Surrender

1 Samuel 1:1-8 (Monday)
“There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Elkanah her husband would say to her, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" (NIV)
1) This man, Elkanah, appears to have come from a very fruitful bloodline! Since Hannah is mentioned first, most commentators feel she was indeed the first and beloved wife. Rather than this being a matter of blatant lust, it is believed that Elkanah sought a second wife only in order to raise up children and continue the family bloodline! What does Psalms 123:2 tell us would have been a better choice for Elkanah?
2) What stigma did barrenness hold for a Israelite woman (Deuteronomy 7:11-14; Psalm 127:3?)
3) How do Psalms 113:9 and Isaiah 54:1 encourage those of us who may not yet be natural mothers? Are there other types of “children?”
4) Being the second choice for a wife could not have been very pleasant either! Especially if you knew it was only to bear children and that your husband’s devotion lay elsewhere! As we will learn, bigamy only results in misery for everyone in this family! Abraham, our spiritual father learned that lesson the hard way—with very similar results! (Genesis 16!) It pays to wait upon the Lord—oh, if only we would learn that one lesson!
5) You can see in verse 4-5, that Elkanah especially loved and cared for his wife, Hannah. So much so, that he offers up a double portion sacrifice to the Lord in her behalf! A double portion is only mentioned four times in all of scripture:
a) Here, a double portion of a sacrificial offering
b) 2 Kings 2:9, Elisha the prophet asks for a double portion of God’s Spirit from Elijah the prophet, his mentor
c) Isaiah 61:7, God promises His children a double portion of blessing and joy
d) Revelation 18:6, a double portion of God’s wrath will one day fall upon “Babylon the Great” (which lies approximately 56 miles south of Baghdâd, Iraq!) Babylon also speaks of the world system and beliefs which exists now and during the Great Tribulation.
6) Pretty interesting that the mention of “double portion” falls precisely in line with the word of God and His plan of salvation: The Sacrifice is offered up (Jesus Christ), the Spirit is given, God’s children are blessed both now and for all eternity, and those who reject God’s great salvation through Jesus Christ receive a double portion of God’s wrath! Thought provoking!
7) Her rival (wouldn’t want to be stuck with that title!) provoked Hannah to tears and to the point where Hannah could not eat! All just to irritate her—imagine! Why do you think Peninnah tried to harass her so especially before Hannah went up to the house of the Lord?
8) Doesn’t sound like Elkanah chose wisely in a second wife! Do you think motivate such behavior in Peninnah?
9) 9) Peninnah’s taunting went on year after year after year! Think of all the opportunities Peninnah had to provoke Hannah--everytime Hannah had her period and Peninnah did not; probably prior to the start of Hannah’s period and when Peninnah’s did not have a period, or simply was late; all the months Peninnah was carrying a child and we don’t know how many she had; while Peninnah nursed her babe; while Peninnah watched her own children laughing and playing; every time Elkanah laughed and played with Peninnah’s children, when Elkanah slept with Peninnah—the list could go on and on. What sustained Hannah? What would (does) sustain you under such bitterness of soul and cruel ridicule?
10) How do you think Hannah’s suffering, her soul wrenching longing and the personal attacks of Peninnah effected her relationship with God?
11) Scripture gives no indication that Hannah ever once struck back at Peninah, or thrust blame upon her husband, Elkanah. What a gracious peacemaker! We can learn much by her perseverance, patience and forbearance!
12) Take time to read Genesis 29. In what ways was Leah’s situation similar to that of Hannah? How did the circumstances differ? Do you see any type of spiritual progression taking place in Leah’s life? What were her final words?
13) Do you have your own personal Peninnah? Well, if not in the physical world, certainly in the spiritual realm and his name is satan! Peninnah is acting just like him—taunting, belittling, harassing, accusing, pointing out failures, causing Hannah to doubt God’s goodness, to doubt that He listens and hears! I want you to know you have someone interceding in your behalf—better than Elkanah, though, truly, he did everything he could. You have Jesus Christ! You are His bride! He loves you with an everlasting love and it is His desire that you be fruitful—in every way imaginable! Indeed, He is better than ten sons, ten husbands, ten houses, ten anything!
1 Samuel 9-18 (Tuesday)
“Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD's temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine." "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief." Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." She said, "May your servant find favor in your eyes." Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.” (NIV)
1) A lot of people get into “tight” situations and begin to bargain with God. Truthfully, I’ve been there. Is that what Hannah is doing here? Explain your reasoning.
2) I love what my Bible Reader’s Companion has to say about Hannah’s vow:
“Was this offering God a “pay-off”? While it might be so understood, the biblical vow is better seen as an _expression of thanksgiving, offered to God in the expectation that He intends to bless the worshiper. At the same time, a vital spiritual principle infuses Hannah’s promise. Before we are ready to receive many of God’s blessings, we must commit them to Him. Surrender purifies and prepares us so we are not harmed by God’s good gifts.”
3) Let’s look at some of the aspects of Hannah’s prayer and vow to God:
a) In faith, Hannah humbles herself by acknowledging God as Sovereign and submits herself to Him as His servant (KJV: handmaid, see Luke 1:48)
b) In faith, Hannah asks God to remember her and look upon her suffering (see Luke 23:39-43!)
c) In faith, Hannah makes her very specific request known (she didn’t just ask for a child—she asked for a son!)
d) In faith, Hannah offers her son back to the Lord! Read 2 Samuel 24:24. Oh, this vow bears a hefty price tag! What would be the cost to Hannah? To her husband? To her son?
4) 4) The KJV of James 5:16-17 says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” In what way(s) would you say that Hannah’s prayer was effectual and fervent?
5) What was Hannah telling God when she made the promise that no razor would be used on his head (Numbers 6)?
6) By the way, there is no mentioned that Hannah ever consulted with her husband prior to this plea. According to Numbers 30:3-9, Elkanah could have revoked this vow. We can only suppose, but why do you think he did not assert his authority in this situation?
7) What does it mean to be a Nazarite?
8) These were not the best of times in Shiloh. The priesthood is in shambles—the prophets of God had left the land. Eli, the high priest, had become old and feeble while his sons, also temple priests, are eating the portions of the sacrifices reserved only for God! They are offering up unacceptable, blemished sacrifices and leading the people into further sin by taking part in it themselves! Eli has failed to disciplined his sons—putting them before pleasing his God! All this has led to the spiritual decay of the land. At this point, Eli is no longer hearing from God and he is so spiritually blind that he has no concept of a woman in pain—pouring out her soul to God! He accuses Hannah of drunkenness!
9) Hannah had prayed for a son, year after year—her husband, too. Yet, now we see that her prayer has changed, progressed to vowing her son would be a Nazarite! What has God done in Hannah’s heart? Why this prayer at this time in her people’s history? Do you think that seeing the spiritual decline of her people had anything to do with Hannah dedicating her son to the Lord? What do you think was her hope for her son and God’s people?
10) Finally, the light bulb comes on--Eli gets it! While Eli has greatly displeased the Lord by failing to lead His people into righteousness and has been failed as a parent by allowing sin to continue in their lives and in their office as priests, , Eli remains a priest of the Most High God (Romans 11:29!) It is because of God’s irrevocable calling that Eli is able to fulfill his priestly role and intercede in Hannah’s behalf. Beloved, regardless of how “spiritual” we feel we are, or how spiritual we actually are, we have no excuse not to pray for one another and for those without God!
11) You know, in all the years that Elkanah went up to sacrifice, there is no mention that Eli spoke to him or interceded for this family—nothing! It’s amazing that it was Eli’s misjudging another’s intent and heart that catches his attention, finally causing him to take notice of this family! Isn’t that so human! We always see the sin (or what we think is sin) in others long before we recognize it in ourselves! Self-righteousness keeps us from seeing ourselves as we really are—as God sees us!
12) Not so with our Lord, Jesus Christ! He has every tear you have ever shed recorded and stored away in His bottle (Psalms 56:8 KJV!) No detail of your life goes unnoticed! Unlike Eli, the priest—Jesus, our High Priest never once displeased God, nor was He ever unfaithful to God’s purpose in His life! He alone can be fully trusted because He alone is fully Faithful!
13) Hannah asks for favor—grace! In asking it of God’s high priest, even one who has failed to measure up to his priestly role, Hannah was asking for grace from the Lord! Grace to accept whatever God had in store for her!
14) Hannah has been changed by her encounter with the Lord—she ate and was no longer downcast! Have you had this type of revelation of who God is? How has it changed your countenance, your peace, your hope for a future?
1 Samuel 1:19-23 (Wednesday)
“Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him." When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, "After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always." "Do what seems best to you," Elkanah her husband told her. "Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word." So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.” (NIV)
1) Oh, in my pitiful, sinful, and yes, sometimes rebellious state how I dare to long for the Lord to remember me! Don’t you? Child of God, that is favor—that is grace! That Almighty God would pity my frailness, my humanness, my sin! Hannah may not have been in such a place, but she was needy, too! Desperately and our Lord had compassion! Aren’t you glad that God is love!
2) In the course of time? Samuel’s conception could have been immediate or Hannah may have had to wait upon the Lord yet again! I wonder if her waiting was somehow different this time?
3) Normally, a child was fully weaned by the age of 3. We know that prior to Samuel’s birth, Hannah went up every year with her family to Shiloh to sacrifice and worship. Why do you think Hannah stayed home with her son for those three years?
4) Elkanah said to his wife, “…only may the Lord make good His word.” Why would he say that when Hannah had indeed conceived and birth the son of her heart?
1 Samuel 24-28 (Thursday)
“After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there.” (NIV)
1) Oh, my goodness! Hannah has to remind Eli who she is! Still so spiritually blind! Yet, Hannah is faithful to fulfill the vow she made to the Lord! We see Hannah, finally a mother, turning her precious, much longed for son over to an ungodly priesthood! What enable her to give her baby over to these ungodly men?
2) Just a little sidebar here: God does not require that we all turn our children over to anyone, much less someone who cannot see or hear from the Lord! We must understand that God had His handprints all over this circumstance in Hannah’s life and they had already been predestined by God! Hannah knew this, and it is God that Hannah is trusting her precious Samuel to, not Eli and his sons! God’s purpose for Samuel was being fulfilled so Hannah had the strength of heart, courage and confidence that God would guard His chosen servant!
1 Samuel 2:1-11 (Friday)
“Then Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. "There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. "Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed. "The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry hunger no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. "The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; upon them he has set the world. He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. "It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth. "He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed." Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the LORD under Eli the priest.” (NIV)
1) What? No tears—only a song of praise from her heart? Here we are able to witness the extent of Hannah’s confidence in her God! She walks away from her baby singing praises to her God! Hannah is overflowing with thankfulness! Bible commentator, Warren Wiersbe puts it this way:
2) “God’s people can sing their way into sacrifice and sacrifice their way into singing. “And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also.”
3) Is any prayer complete without thanksgiving and praise? How about those answers we do not yet see, or those that God chooses to answer in a way that is different than what we had hoped or expected? How often do we receive our requests from God and simply walk away, forgetting to thank Him for his loving kindness towards us?
4) Do you see the increase and completeness of Hannah’s faith and joy! How is this possible when she is losing her son?
5) What does Hannah mean in saying, “…my horn is lifted high?”
6) Hannah speaks of her enemies and God’s deliverance—His salvation! How what way had God brought salvation to Hannah?
7) Has God ever delivered you out of the hand of your enemy(s)? Share a seemingly insurmountable circumstance where God delivered you?
8) There are several things Hannah has learned about God from her circumstance:
a) God alone is God
b) God is holy
c) God is a Rock—He cannot be moved! A rock is steadfast, solid!
d) God knows and judges all things
e) God arms us with strength to endure anything that may come our way
f) God satisfies the hungry, so they hunger no more
g) Finally! Hannah comes to the realization that in reality she was anything but barren
h) God brings death and makes life, yea, our God even raises life
i) God brings poverty and wealth
j) God humbles and exalts
k) He is the deliverer of the poor and needy—making them princes seated in thrones of honor
l) The earth is the Lord’s—with this tiny planet earth being His unique treasure
m) He guards His saints
n) He silences the wicked
o) Hannah has learned that our own strength is nothing, but God’s grace always prevails
p) Those who oppose the Lord will be shattered and God Himself will come against them fro heaven
q) Hannah even prophesies at this point in her praise offeing—God will give strength to His king and exalt the horn of His anointed One—Jesus the Christ!
9) I know it is an extremely sad picture of Hannah walking away from her son, but read 1 Samuel 2:19! Oh, our God is so good!


Godly Women of Devotion
Ruth: Gracious Caring

Ruth 1:1-20 (Monday)
“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man's name was Elimelech, his wife's name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah. Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband." Then she kissed them and they wept aloud and said to her, "We will go back with you to your people."” (NIV)
1) Do you feel Naomi and her husband made the right choice in leading their family out of Bethlehem (House of Bread) into the land of Moab, even during a season of such terrible famine? Others appeared to have stuck it out (Ruth 1:6). What do you think might have been the driving force behind their leaving Judah?
2) One Bible commentator stated that, “It is better to starve in the will of God, than to eat the enemy’s bread!” This is so true! Our fear that God cannot satisfy, or that God is not able, or that God will not be faithful is very thing that drives us away from Him and leads us down that deadly path of trying to meet or satisfy our own needs! Fear is only the byproduct of a deeper sin—unbelief! Have you ever experienced those same fears, those same doubts? Please share.
3) While this story primarily focuses on young Ruth, as we study this week’s lesson, let’s not skip over how God graciously moves in the life of Naomi (her name means pleasantness!) If we fail to plunge into her struggles and rejoice at her leaps of faith—her ultimate triumph and blessing, we will certainly miss rich evidences of God’s mercy and grace!
4) The book of Ruth is a love story—a story of God’s love for us! As we read through this week’s lesson, my prayer is that we will be able to “have eyes that see” how God’s foreknowledge, purpose and plan for our lives can never be interpreted as a matter of mere chance! Beloved, please know that no detail of your life is missed by our God! Not one tear, not one moment of your pain escapes our Father’s notice! God is not in any way limited by our fears, our doubts, our mistakes or even our failures! No! God is more than able to take our poor choices, our greatest sorrows and turn them into our greatest victories! He is El Roi—the One Who Sees Us!
5) I don’t believe that this family intended to stay in Moab very long—just until the famine passed. The Moabites were Israel’s enemy! But, we can see how sometimes wrong choices can end up costing us dearly! Naomi and her husband dwelt in Moab long enough for their sons to marry and long enough for all three women to become widows—quite a lengthy and costly sojourn! Naomi does appear to have been at a very carnal (unspiritual) season of her life, but as we read through this week’s lesson we will see that Naomi had to have exhibited strength and faith enough to make a powerful impact and dramtic change in the life of one pagan Moabite woman, Ruth! And, seeing that impact, I believe, went a long way in furthering to build up Naomi’s own faith and hope in God!
6) Was Naomi returning to Bethlehem to seek out her God, or food for her belly?
7) What was Naomi thinking? Sending her daughter-in-laws back among pagans? Yes, not being too spiritually minded there! What does James 2:14-17 say about seeing to the needs of others when it is within our power to do so? What type of need did these Moabite women have?
8) Now, what do we know about this land of Moab? Read Genesis 19, especially verses 27-37. What a way to start a nation! Some other facts about Moab:
a) Moabites, though descendants of righteous Lot (2 Peter 2:4-9), practiced divination and sorcery. At one point, their king sought to have curses brought down upon the people of Israel (Numbers 22-24!) Israel, of course, are the descendants of righteous Abraham—Lot’s uncle!)
b) Israel bedded with Moabite women and were led into even further spiritual prostitution with the pagan god, Baal (Numbers 25!) (Here we go again with that womanly influence we can yield!)
c) God’s law specifically denied fellowship of the Moabites with the Israelites to the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:3!)
d) Moses died and was buried by God Himself in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:5!)
i) True, the Moabites were an ungodly people, yet for the sake of Lot, they were given an inheritance by God. As Israel was being prepared to enter into their promise land, God forbade the Israelites to harass the Moabites (Deuteronomy 2:9.) Oh, yes, God gave this same command for the other ill-conceived son of Lot! See Deuteronomy 2:19. Talk about God’s mercy and grace! What a Savior!
Ruth 1:11-18 (Tuesday)
“But Naomi said, "Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me--even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons-- would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD's hand has gone out against me!" At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her. "Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her." But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.” (NIV)
1) Oh, how we can wrongly interpret God’s intentions! Why did Naomi see her life as bitter and not blessed? What was the truth? (See Friday’s Scripture passage!) Have you ever misjudged God in a particular circumstance in your life? Share.
2) Take careful notice that Naomi offers her daughters no hope of providing another husband for them from her family lineage! Oh, this is key! The law does make special provision for the brother of a woman’s husband to marry the widow and raise up a child in his dead brother’s name and to retain the property for the family. If it was not possible for a brother to redeem the wife and property, the “duty” or “honor” (depending on how one looked at it) fell to the closest kinsman. The purpose behind this law was that no family name would die out in all of Israel and that the land and property would not fall into unscrupulous hands. Again, at this point, Naomi offers no hope to her daughters!
3) Let’s take a deeper look into this law regarding a kinsman redeemer:
a) The laws that provided for the continuation of the family name and property are found Deuteronomy 25:5-10 and Leviticus 25:23-34. The rights to Elimelech’s (Naomi’s husband) property would naturally fall to his sons and down to the daughters-in-law or back to Naomi, but apparently the property carried a hefty mortgage or some type of lien. Neither Naomi or Ruth was able to redeem, or purchase back the property. Therein, lies the delimna--hence the need for a kinsman redeemer! Oh, not just anyone could step in to take on this responsibility. If one wished to redeem both Ruth and her property, he must be the nearest kinsman (Leviticus 25:25), and he must have the means and ability to pay the price in order to redeem back the property in full! But, I think most importantly, he must be willing!
b) Can you think of any reason why this would have to be a totally selfless act on the part of the kinsman redeemer?
c) What are some possible reasons a near kinsman might not want to take on such a responsibility?
4) Orpah loved Naomi and was truly saddened, yet she leaves without much of a struggle. What do you think was her reasoning or motive(s)?
5) Many have quoted these verses (vs. 16-17) to one anther as part of their marriage vows. Yet, these words were actually spoken by the daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law! Wow! What on earth lead to such devotion?
6) Ruth wanted Naomi’s God to be her God and Naomi’s people to be her people. Ruth had many gods and people of her own? What’s going on here?
7) I guess this is where I see that while Naomi may have allowed herself to become spiritually numb, but she was definitely not spiritually dead—her light had to be shining! Who did Ruth call upon to “deal with her” if anything but death separated she and Naomi? Naomi had been light indeed!
a) Mothers-in laws—what steps are you taking to build a meaningful, rewarding and lasting relationship with your daughter(s)-in law? For that matter, your son(s)-in laws?
b) Daughters-in-law—what steps are you taking to build a meaningful, rewarding and lasting relationship with your mother-in-law?
8) Whether you are a mother-in-law or a daughter-in-law, please read Titus 2:3-5. What woman among us wouldn’t benefit from the wisdom and experience of a God-fearing woman! Oh, be that woman!
a) Do you have to be mature in years to fulfill the role of an older woman training up a younger woman? Explain your reasoning!
9) Is there anything or anyone in your life that you would cling to as strongly as Ruth did? This verse reminds me of how Mary Magdalene clung to Jesus after He was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-9 and John 20:17!)
Ruth 2:1-7 (Wednesday)
“Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor." Naomi said to her, "Go ahead, my daughter." So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech. Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, "The LORD be with you!" "The LORD bless you!" they called back. Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, "Whose young woman is that?" The foreman replied, "She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, `Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.' She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter."” (NIV)
1) I know verse 1 tells us that Boaz is Naomi’s kinsman, but remember, at this point, Ruth does not know this! That’s not the reason for Ruth gleaming in his fields! Ruth was hoping to be able to glean enough wheat for her beloved mother-in-law and herself— the most basic essential for life—bread! This was backbreaking work, but it meant survival for these women--they were destitute! Read Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19 which shows us how God makes provision for widows, orphans and the poor!
2) Why this field? Why this man? “As it turned out”—right! Oh, I pray you know that nothing, absolutely nothing happens by chance! God’s predestined plan is already in motion for each of us—just as it was for Naomi, Ruth and Boaz! God is a God of purpose! God worked all things for the good of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz and, as I mentioned, for you and me, too!
3) What type of man does this passage tell us Boaz was?
4) Oh, young Ruth catches Boaz’ eye! Do you think this was just merely a physical attraction?
5) What can we learn about young Ruth from verses 5-7?
6) What does Ruth’s work ethic tell you about her character?
Ruth 2:8-12 (Thursday)
“So Boaz said to Ruth, "My daughter, listen to me. Don't go and glean in another field and don't go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled." At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, "Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me--a foreigner?" Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband--how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (NIV)
1) We see that Boaz is already putting a “covering” or shield of protection and concern around Ruth—no other field, stay with the girls (don’t work alone) and drink whenever you thirst! Do you think this graciousness was a common practice for Boaz?
2) Do you see Ruth’s humility—bowing and referring to herself as a foreigner to Israel? Do you see our relationship with Jesus in any of this? If so, explain.
3) You can just imagine how word of Naomi and Ruth had spread through that community. Naomi bringing home a Moabite! Do you think that type of gossip may have been why Naomi tried to send Ruth away? Remember, Israelites and Moabites were not to mix! What would this have been evidence of in Naomi’s life?
4) Did Boaz seem at all concerned that Ruth was not of Jewish descent? What does he mention that he had heard about Ruth? What impressed Boaz most about what he had heard regarding Ruth?
5) Under whose wings do you take refuge?
Ruth 4:13-17 (Friday)
“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth." Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, "Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (NIV)
1) Well, you really need to read this whole book, because unfortunately, there was an even closer kinsman! Thankfully, for Ruth, Boaz and Naomi, he was unwilling! Here’s what this week’s commentary has to say about that kinsman:
“The other kinsman was willing to buy the land until he learned that Ruth was a part of the transaction, and then he backed out. His explanation was that, in marrying Ruth, he would jeopardize his own inheritance. If he had a son by Ruth, and that son were his only surviving heir, Mahlon’s property and part of his own estate would go to Elimelech’s family. The fact that Ruth was a Moabitess may also have been a problem to him. (Both Mahlon and Chilion had married Moabite women and died!)
Boaz was undoubtedly relieved when his relative stepped aside and opened the way for Ruth to become his wife. It’s worth noting that the nearer kinsman tried to protect his name and inheritance; but we don’t even know what his name was or what happened to his family! Boaz took the risk of love and obedience, and his name is written down in Scripture and held in honor. “He who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17, nkjv).”
2) Naomi had named herself Mara (Ruth 1:20) which means bitter! Now look at her! A daughter, a son and a grandson on her lap! How blessed! So, we too are blessed through this happy family. You see Jesus Christ is a descendant of Obed. This same Jesus, son of David—rightful heir to the throne of earth and heaven! Yes, Jesus descendant of a Moabite and an Israelite! Jew and Gentile! Glory to God! Amen!
3) I love this story because to me it is a beautiful picture of Christ and his bride, the church. As sinners, we are foreigners to our God. We are spiritually poor, with no Bread of Life to sustain us! Our lives are bankrupt and we have no hope on our own of redeeming ourselves, but, because of God’s rich mercy and grace—we too, have a kinsman redeemer! Christ Jesus was and still is willing and more than able to pay the high price to redeem us back and He did so at the cross—shedding His blood for you and me! Oh, accept His gracious offer of “covering” and hide in the shadow of His wings! You are His beloved!


Godly Men of Devotion
Phillip: Faith Leads to Witnessing

Acts 8:1-8 (Monday)
“And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” (NIV)
1) Oh, I know this study is about Phillip, but the life of Saul should give us all great hope! His life story (testimony) proves that no one is beyond Christ’s ability to save! There is no sin that we could ever commit that Jesus’ death and shed blood on the cross is not only sufficient, but more than abundantly able to completely and forever wash clean! Always remember, our God is a God of new beginnings---His mercies are new every morning! Of course, we later learn that Saul has a divine encounter with the risen Lord Jesus (Acts 9:1-20!) The “worse of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), becomes the Christ-chosen apostle to the Gentiles and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul wrote most of the letters to the very churches who were scattered throughout the land because of his relentless persecution of Christians! Imagine, Jesus chooses to call the very pious and self-righteous Saul, who approvingly stood by encouraging the death of the first martyr of our faith, precious Stephen! God can indeed make beauty out of the ashes of our lives!
2) What is it about first blood that drives a crowd mad? No sooner than the last stone was thrown and Stephen was struck down, believers came under “great” persecution—of which the main culprit was Saul! Of course, this ill-directed hatred and desire to crush this “sect” found its root’s in the unjust persecution and death of our Savior! What did Jesus warn his disciples of in John 15:20-21? What reason did He give for our persecution? What promise?
3) According to Acts 9:1-5, who was Saul and others really persecuting? Does that help you in your suffering for Christ? Explain.
4) Let’s go back and look at the commission given to Jesus’ disciples prior to His ascension into heaven (Matthew 28:19-20). Know that God did not send this persecution—it was the dastardly handiwork of satan and godless men opposed to the gospel that brings Peace! However, what did God accomplish in allowing (God’s permissive will) this scattering of his church (Acts 11:19-26?)
5) Wow! The apostles stuck it out in Jerusalem! Why? What could have been some possible motives or reasons?
6) Oh, the sheep had indeed been scattered, but a tightly knit congregation still remained in Jerusalem. Let’s take another look at the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Who were the followers of Christ supposed to reach out to first? Now, let’s read Acts 9:20-30 and Acts 11:2-26. Man, there was a whole lot of shaking going on in Judea. Judaism was being shaken to the core—by the unexplainable, unquenchable zeal and boldness of Saul in preaching Christ dead and risen, and by devoted Jewish believers who were not ready, or perhaps even willing to call Gentiles their brethren! Still, as promised, salvation had come to the Gentiles (Hosea 2:21-23 and Romans 9:25-33), and it was rocking the worlds of a whole lot of Jews—including Peter!
7) The small remnant of believers remaining in Jerusalem experienced great triumphs and unspeakable tragedies! The church at Jerusalem sent out the very first missionaries (Acts 11:22-26), prophets were sent out from Jerusalem to Antioch with warning of famine (Acts 11:27-30), James, the brother of John became the first martyred apostle (Acts 12:1-2), and Peter was also thrown into prison Acts 12:3).
8) While Paul (Saul) was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, his heart cried out for those of his own race who rejected Jesus as Lord. Of course this is an impossible, because each individual has to chose to make Jesus Christ Lord of their life, but what would Paul have been willing to give up in order to see them come to repentance and be saved (Romans 9:1-5?) I personally cannot even imagine such a suggestion, though I suppose for my family’s sake I might be able to find the strength—but to suffer forever—to say it is one thing, to mean it is another! So, not many of us would make that sacrifice, even if it were possible, but what are some things we can do for “the sake of our lost loved ones?”
9) What happened in Acts 9:20-30 and 13:42-52 that finally pushed Paul out into his ministry to the Gentiles? What does scripture tell us remained his usual practice during his many travels (Acts 14:1?) What does that tell you about steadfast perseverance, love and hope?
10) Okay, back to Phillip! Phillip went to the next area that Jesus wanted the gospel to be preached—Samaria! What drew their attention to what Philip had to say about Jesus? God loves His children so much and He desires that they be whole! God’s purpose in sending Jesus Christ was to deliver our souls, restore our lives, heal and mend our wounds and rebuild into His own image! Often, God sometimes chooses to physically heal our wounds—other times, our healing is spiritual in nature. We see evidence of both types of healing in scripture. We must be very careful not to fall into the trap of seeking the gift (our miracle) and not the “Giver” of gifts! This is definitely not the case here. The signs and wonders were evidence that God was with Phillip—they were given to back up the truth of the gospel that Philip preached! How do we know that to be true from this passage?
11) Well, I guess I just have to ask, do you think people are walking around demon-possessed today? How about Christians?
12) Boy, I wonder what would happen today if we all move in the full empowerment of the Holy Spirit just like the disciples! Imagine! People instantly healed, and the very demons that tormented peoples souls and destroy their lives would be gone forever! Why do you think we don’t hear of many genuine healings and deliverance today? Is God still in the miracle making business?
13) You know people often overlook God’s healing and delivering power! Sadly, like Simon, people still seek after sensationalism, rather than the quiet peace of God’s inner healing!
14) Have you ever experienced or witnessed any type of healing? Did it lead you to worship and praise, or did you experience another emotion? Please share!
Acts 8:9-17 (Tuesday)
“Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)
1) Well, don’t think for a moment that satan doesn’t have a counterfeit for the wondrous works of our God! (I said counterfeit, not equal or opposite power—satan is all fake, fake, fake!) Simon practiced sorcery, divination or witchcraft (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10-12, 14, 20-22!) This is a perfect example of how miracles, signs and wonders in and of themselves have no power to change the heart of man and, by themselves, they do not and cannot lead others to God! Miracles amaze and dazzle, but they have no staying power! What did these people do when Philip preached the “Good News?”
2) Simon sought after self-glorification! Who was he emulating (Isaiah 14:12-14?)
3) Simon, the witch, lost his appeal because now the men and women of Samaria had been filled with God’s Holy Spirit—no competition! Simon was out of business because now God dwelt in each of them! They had continual access to the One True Living God! Talk about power—the same Holy Spirit power that was so evident in the life of Philip!
Acts 8:18-25 (Wednesday)
“When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."Then Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me." When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages." (NIV)
1) What was Simon’s motive in asking for the ability to give the Holy Spirit?
2) Verse 13 tells us something very important had taken place prior to his asking for this power that can only come from God—what was it?
3) After seeing the truly awesome power of God, Simon followed Philip everywhere! Watching, always watching! What do you think may have been his thoughts as he saw one miracle after another miracle bring glory to God the Father through the very name of His Son, Jesus Christ?
4) Oh, my goodness! It’s scary that we live in a world where this still goes on! You only have to turn on the television and/or radio to see gross misuse of God’s word by so-called ministers for the sole purpose of misleading the masses in order to obtain ill-gotten gain! What other evidences have you seen or experienced?
5) Peter told Simon he was full of bitterness and captive to sin! What do you think was behind his bitterness? What particular sin was he still captive to?
6) Have you ever been close to bitter person? How was the bitterness manifested in their lives? What does scripture say about allowing bitterness to take up a dwelling place in our hearts, minds and lives (Hebrews 12:15)?
7) We can’t judge if Simon was truly saved. There is some early reference that a man named Simon outwardly opposed Christianity and was himself a heretic! Whether it was this Simon or another, we should be careful that our belief is motivated by faith, reverence and love—not from any sort of personal profit, as was Simon’s. Remember, even the devils in hell believe (James 2:17-24!) Let’s make sure our actions line up with our confession of faith!
8) Why didn’t Simon ask forgiveness from God himself?
9) What motivated his fear—the desire to be right with God, or fear of damnation? Does fear ever change our hearts? Why or why not? What does 1 John 4:18 tell us?
Acts 8:26-33 (Thursday)
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. “How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” (NIV)
1) Philip was already doing a mighty work for God right there in Samaria! Why on earth would God send an angel to Philip telling him to go into the desert to meet just one man (Matthew 18:12-13?
2) Why didn’t God just have the angel explain things to this man? See Galatians 3:8, 16-19; Hebrews 1:14 and 1 Peter 1:10-12!
3) Well, I picture this chariot pulled over, off to the side, because a scroll was a long, bulky hand-written parchment. It would have been very difficult to concentrate on what you were reading otherwise. And, apparently, Philip is just walking along awaiting further direction? Well, he did have to run up to the chariot, but if it was moving at a pretty good clip, Philip would not have been able to catch up! Sound about right? What would you do if you were out in the desert and a man suddenly appeared, peering over your shoulder?
4) This man was obviously not born Jewish, still he had left his homeland to go to Jerusalem to worship. What does this tell you about the state of this man’s heart?
5) Philip saw the man, but what happened to make him approach this particular person? We are surrounded by people everyday? How do you know when an opportunity to share our faith is before us? Have you ever experienced the Spirit’s prompting? Share.
6) What ‘cha reading? Very simple, gentle, yet direct way to open the door wide open for a spiritual conversation! Why do we always think we have to mow someone over with the gospel—no wonder they run as fast as they can!
7) The man had just left the synagogue—what wasn’t he able to understand?
Acts 8: (Friday)
” The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” (NIV)
1) Read 1 Peter 3:15. Was Peter ready, gentle and respectful? Are we?
2) Beloved, the disciples need to know what they believed (of course, they witnessed the events they preached)! Now, more than ever, we have to be prepared! How busy are you about your Father’s business?
3) Where do you think this man heard about baptisim?
4) Does baptism save? What purpose and meaning does it hold in the life of a believer?
5) Wow! I can’t wait until we can all do what Peter did—just disappear one place and suddenly appear in another! There are a couple of other instances mention in scripture that give us a glimpse of what our spiritual futures will be like (John 6:16-21 and John 20:19!) Instantaneous travel and walking through walls! What a blast!


Godly Men of Devotion
Timothy: Faith Keeps God First

2 Timothy 1:1-7 (Monday)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (NIV)
1) How I wish all of us, like Paul, would be able to express the same deep sense of satisfaction in how we have faithfully served the Lord! Imagine—no regrets! Paul was able to speak such words because of a heart felt confidence that can only come from having a conscience that is clear before God (Hebrews 10:22)!
2) Does that mean that Paul never fell short, never stumbled (Romans 7:15-25)?
3) Psalms 40:11-13;?
4) No, Paul was every bit as human as the rest of us and you can be sure he had faults of his own (Acts 12:25;15:36-15:36-41; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:23-24)! The reason Paul was so confident was not in himself or anything that he had accomplished, but in the three words he uses to greet young Timothy—grace, mercy and peace! God gifts bestowed on each and every one of us upon accepting Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, as our Lord and Savior!
a) Grace! Grace is God’s unmerited, unearned favor. What does having God’s favor mean to you personally?
b) Mercy! To be judged by God’s great love, compassion and mercy, and not according to what our transgressions deserve! (Psalms 25:6-11; 40:11-13; 51; 103:8-14
c) Peace! What better blessing than to have peace with God? Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)—you can’t have peace unless you have Christ! (Ephesians 2:10-22; Colossians 1:15-22; 3:15; Hebrews 7; 12:10-11)
5) Back to Timothy! 2 Timothy is believed to be the last of Paul’s writings and it was sent to his beloved son in Christ Jesus, Timothy. Paul was introduced to Timothy during a trip to Lystra. Timothy was a young man of mixed heritage—a Jewish mother and a Greek (non-believer) father. Still, Timothy was blessed with a very sound religious upbringing! Timothy’s Christian brethren at Lystra and Iconium felt so highly of him, they urged Paul to let him accompany him on many of his early missionary travels (Acts 16:1-6). Later, Timothy served as pastor of the very church that Paul had established in Ephesus. The tears mentioned by Paul were probably shed by Timothy at their last meeting. Both men were probably very much aware of how Paul’s plight would end!
6) 2 Timothy is a letter of remembrances! In the verses we are studying this week, the words; recall, remind, remember are used six different times. Paul, who had suffered great persecution and was now facing imminent and certain death, gave no thought to his own situation. Instead, the last desire of his heart was to build up youngTimothy’s faith and confidence in his own calling, faith and talents. Paul did so by admonishing Timothy—Remember, son:
a) you are constantly being lifting up in prayer
b) your genuine love wi a great source of joy
c) you possess a sincere faith—the same faith that had been exhibited in your mother and grandmother
d) you indeed have a divine calling on your life (Paul twice reminds Timothy of his calling—1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14)
7) If someone spoke these same words over you, how would they empower you—or would they?
8) Paul had a fatherly concern that Timothy’s timidity (fear) would get in the way of the work God had for Timothy. What things might have given rise to Timothy’s timidity (fear)?
a) His age (1 Timothy 4:12)
b) His health (1 Timothy 5:23)
c) Discouragement (1 Timothy 1:3)
d) Perhaps, and, oh this could have been a major factor—the fact that Timothy had a first hand knowledge of Paul’s own persecution and suffering for Christ. Timothy knew just how high the cost of following our Lord could sometimes be!
e) Following in someone else’s (Paul’s ) footsteps!
9) Have you ever had to step into someone else’s position? Perhaps that person had performed so well, that you found the task set before you quite daunting. How do you think that may would play into your own timidity?
10) What happens to a fire if it is just left to smolder—if no one tends it? Oh, but what if that same fire, or even mere embers of a fire are stirred and/or fanned? You’re right! You could get a flame going that is big enough to consume an entire forest! How on fire are you? Oh, stir up that flame for Christ Jesus! How would you go about doing so?
11) Do you think it is possible to lose opportunities and gifts of God simply because we are too fearful to step out in faith and actually snatch up the opportunities, or to use the gifts God has give us (Matthew 25:14-29)? Do you think Paul feared this might happen to his beloved Timothy? We would all do well to remember the Hebrew children wandering in the desert for 40 years because they feared entering into God’s promised land! When we are fearful, we would do well to remember Zechariah 4:6! It is always God working in and through us (Philippians 2:13)!
12) Paul’s answer to Timothy’s timidity was God’s Holy Spirit, given to us by God in that we now have within us:
a) A spirit of power (2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 12:9; Ephesians 1:18-23; 3:20; Colossians 1:24-29; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Peter 1:2-3)
b) A spirit of love (1 Corinthians 13)
c) A spirit of self-discipline (Romans 8:6-9; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; 5:6-9; Hebrews 12:7-13; 1 Peter 5:6-9; 2 Peter 1:3-8 and Revelation 3:14-19!)
13) I have to wonder what our last words would be to our friends and loved ones? What things would you want them to remember?
2 Timothy 1:8-14 (Tuesday)
“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (NIV)
1) Wow! Has anyone ever asked you to join in with them in suffering? That’s exactly what Paul wanted for young Timothy? Why? What is Paul speaking of?
2) Paul knew why he was suffering—for the gospel of Christ Jesus! Paul knew if Timothy allowed his timidity (fear) to hinder his work, his testimony, then essentially, he was ashamed of Christ! Not good (Mark 8:38)! So, for heaven’s and your soul’s sake be willing to suffer—rejoice in your sufferings, because we suffer as children—as sons and daughters of the living God (Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 1:5-7; Philippians 1:29; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:12-19; 1 Peter 5:9-10)
3) Was Paul counting on his sufferings, the fact that he had established many Christian Gentile churches, his imminent death for the gospel’s sake—anything he had done or endure to keep his soul? Who or what was he trusting in?
4) Get a visual of Jesus Christ guarding your soul and share it with us in class on Sunday!
5) Paul gives Timothy clear direction in how to remain firmly planted in faith and truth:
a) Sound teaching (Only the words spoken of by the apostles—Paul, in Timothy’s case)
b) Faith and love in Jesus Christ
6) What was it Paul was telling Timothy to guard (2 Timothy 2:14)?
2 Timothy 2:1-7 (Wednesday)
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” (NIV)
1) Now, Timothy—get busy! Be about your Father’s business of spreading the gospel!
a) Make disciples
i) Grow them up in the faith and in sound doctrine so they, in turn, will be able to teach others
b) Willingly endure hardship(s)
i) as a soldier
(1) Let your focus rest solely on pleasing your Commanding Officer—not on yourself, not on what others might think or do, and certainly not on the bent of the world you live in!
ii) as an athlete
(1) Go for the gold medal! Don’t use steroids, or cheat in any other way—play with honor!
iii) as a hardworking farmer
(1) Look forward to the abundant fruit of the rich harvest you have wrought by the sweat of your brow!
2 Timothy 2:8-13 (Thursday)
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (NIV)
1) Jesus, the God Man. God in flesh. Came to this earth and lived a sinless life. Suffered and died for our sins and in our place! Was buried, but after three days, was raised by God from the dead and is now ascended into heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father—all according to the word of God! Deviate from this gospel in anyway, and you are no longer preaching Christ! What is it about this simple message that makes the world want to shut us up and even kill us? What is it about this gospel that makes people stumble and not be able to believe God?
2) Paul was remembering, but, oh, he was looking forward, too! What eyes of faith! Did he know how God’s word would end up being spread—that his very words would one day encompass most of the New Testament? No, but he was confident that the gospel would spread (Matthew 24:14, 35; 28:19-20)!
3) What are you willing to endure for the sake of the elect—possibly someone in your family, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor? “Greater love hath no man than this—that he lay down his life for his friend! Oh, I pray you are a friend indeed!
4) Oh, I love that God remains faithful to His promise—that is what Paul was trusting in! When we can’t trust ourselves, and we can’t—trust God!
2 Timothy 2:14-19 (Friday)
“Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (NIV)
1) Timothy served as pastor in what would closely resemble a modern metropolis, a most decadent city—Ephesus! Home to worshippers of the goddess Diana, the pagan goddess of sexuality! Imagine, trying to reach people as they entered temples dedicated to this “goddess” and practiced immorality with the temple prostitutes! It was everywhere young Timothy looked! It was easy for some to pollute the gospel and lead others away from the faith. Paul wanted to make sure that Timothy’s doctrine remained sound!
2) Already, two had wandered—Hymenaeau and Philetus! Apparently, rather than turning toward God, they turned back toward sin! They were not content with damning themselves, they had also destroyed the faith of others by claiming the resurrection had already happened! What kind of effect would hearing that the resurrection had happened, and they weren’t part of it have on believers who were not soundly founded in truth?
3) Can you think of some current events where people have followed after this person or that person and it cost them dearly, perhaps even their lives and/or their souls?
4) Whoa! Does it comfort or make you squirm to realize that the Lord knows who are His?“…must urn away from wickedness.” I think this is the part that makes us squire! If it does, remember, God isn’t through with us until that final breath. And, who is it that is working in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure! And, who is called Faithful! Trust Him!


Godly Men of Devotion
Daniel: Faith that Refuses to Compromise

Daniel 6:1-5 (Monday)
“It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God."” (NIV)
1) Once again we find the Hebrew children dragged away from their “promised land” and in serving in captivity as the result of their continued disobedience and idolatry. The “kingdom” is Babylonia. Truthfully, many believers still walk in that same cycle of continued disobedience and spiritual idolatry. Share some of the ways we step out of, or refuse to enter our own “promised lands” and some of the ways we are spiritually held captive by our sin(s).
2) Captive, yes, but we do not find evidence of any resentment, bitterness or wasted time talents or opportunities in Daniel’s service to the king! Actually, at this writing, Daniel was 80 years of age and had faithfully and honorably served two other kings, (Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his son, King Belshazzar. Daniel has prospered and been highly favored, not only with his peers, but with those he ruled over—a far more difficult task to accomplish!
3) What was Daniel chief responsibility? As employees, or servants to the Most High God, are we busy about our task of making sure that our King does not suffer loss? How could Jesus suffer loss as the result of our spiritual laziness?
4) Daniel has caught the attention of the king. What brought Daniel to the forefront and what was to be the decision of the king?
5) The decision to set Daniel over the entire kingdom had not yet been settled before those Daniel had faithfully served—not to mention the very ones who had previously favored Daniel—turned on him! Talk about the speed of office gossip! What was motivating these men? Do you believe the king may not have fully trusted their faithful service?
6) Why were they not able to bring charges against Daniel?
7) Daniel’s work ethic was impeccable! What an example for us today! No fault could be found in the way he administered his duties or treated his “satraps”! Do you feel that the world is able to say that about most Christians in the workplace today? Explain your answer.
8) Why do you think Daniel was such a faithful and dedicated servant?
9) Can you think of any situations in our present day and time where people attack our faith, and ultimately, our God, simply because they cannot find fault in the way we conduct our lives? Do you see this as a blessing or a curse?
Daniel 6:6-12 (Tuesday)
“So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: "O King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered--in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." So King Darius put the decree in writing. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?" The king answered, "The decree stands--in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed."” (NIV)
1) Obviously, not everyone was in on this meeting with the king! Especially, faithful and unsuspecting Daniel. No, a group had banded together in order to deceive the king in such a way as to ensnare Daniel! Of course, they led king Darius to believe everyone agreed to this edict and insisted that it should be strictly enforced! What tactic did they use to persuade the king?
2) Something to be said about power in numbers (even if it is only assumed) and more so about the ego of man’s heart! If you read through the book of Daniel, you know that Daniel, an captive exile, was always faithful and quick to give the glory and praise to His God in any and every situation he encountered. The administrators and the satraps knew of his strong faith in God—that why they chose this way to be rid of him. Surely, king Darius knew—previous kings and their subjects would still be in awe of the way God moved in the life of Daniel. What caused king Darius not to take even a moment to consider what this edict would mean for his faithful servant?
3) It was important for this “edict” to be put in writing—why?
4) Darius was declared a god and to be worshipped by his people—for an entire month! What would it mean if the “god” admitted that he had made a mistake and retracted his own decree? How would the people have looked upon this king?
5) Our country is governed by written law. It is very difficult for us to repel an archaic law or even a law that is no longer applicable to the times and situations we live in today. Adding an amendment to the Constitution is even rarer! What are some ways you feel that unbelievers are attacking Christians by way of our court system?
6) Daniel didn’t know about the meeting, but it didn’t take much time at all for the news to reach him. What was his immediate response?
7) When you, your loved ones or those you care about are in need, what is your immediate response?
8) Now, let’s not get legalistic about methods and manners of prayer! Daniel had his own way of approaching God, which just so happened to be that he did so three times a day—a practice imitated by many Jews today! As Spike would put it, the reality is—we have been given open and ready access to Almighty God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior—we should be in continual prayer! Praise God! We don’t have to turn our faces toward Jerusalem, we can just bow our heads wherever we may be! Wherever and what ever manner of daily devotion you choose, do it from your heart and, like Daniel, with thankfulness!
9) Imagine! Daniel knew he was facing the lion’s den and for what—praying to the one true God! Did he try to hide the fact that he did so?
10) Do you think he believed that having the king’s favor would exempt him from this decree?
11) How is that possible to approach God with a truly thankful heart when suffering, pain, tragedy or death loom before us?
12) Eavesdropping! These men not only knew Daniel’s routine—they knew his faithfulness! They knew they would catch him in the act of worship! Are we so faithful—does our light shine so brightly, that others know they can come to us and find us unabashedly ready, willing and able to worship, pray and intercede in their behalf?
Daniel 6:13-16 (Wednesday)
“Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day." When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, "Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed." So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" (NIV)
1) King Darius was distressed because he knew that he had foolishly heeded the flattery of these despicable men and Daniel would pay the price for his folly! Note that these men sensed this hesitation in the king and, fearing a speedy end of their plot against Daniel, they added fuel to the flame. How did they seek to further ostracize Daniel?
2) Be sure—the king had the power (reminds me of Pilate washing his hands and letting Jesus be crucified!) What stopped him from moving in behalf of his favored Daniel?
3) How do the king’s final words speak to you about how Daniel had faithfully lived out his spiritual testimony before the king?
4) Ah, even the king knows the truth! Who was Daniel continually serving while in captivity?
Daniel 6:17-24 (Thursday)
“A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king." The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.” (NIV)
1) So reminiscent of Christ in the tomb! The tomb had the seal of the Rome, as if that could hold the Son of God (Matthew 27:62-66!)
2) Not a very restful night for the king! A Persian king—fasting for a Jew! How this must have impacted the palace! Then, at first light, the king runs to the den and asks for the answer to the question he had been praying all night for—was Daniel’s God able to save Him? Oh, this would have been no small feat! The den was a type of pit, the lions were only minimally fed for the exactly purpose of keeping them angry and always on the edge of hunger! The pit was seal—no hope of escape, only the hope of a quick death!
3) Why does the world doubt that our God is able to save? What may have been some stumbling blocks to the king’s faith in God’s ability?
4) Have you ever experienced God’s “shutting the mouths of the lions” around you? Share.
5) Beloved of God, we suffer for Christ’s sake every day of our lives! The world has not yet physically been handed over to its rightful King, Jesus Christ. Make no mistake, Jesus is a soon coming King and, know this, our enemies—those who have persecuted and tormented us unmercifully will one day be thrown into the eternal lake of fire—along with satan, death and the grave! Glory! Oh, we must, in fact, we are commanded to pray for their souls—that they will come to true repentance, but know, “…vengeance is the Lord’s—He will repay!” Unfortunately for these men, they learned this lesson too late!
6) Why did king also have the wives and children thrown into the den with the trators?
Daniel 6:25-28 (Friday)
” Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: "May you prosper greatly! "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. "For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions." So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (NIV)
1) Finding Daniel miraculously delivered, King Darius publicly acknowledges that Daniel’s God is the only “living God!” What a declaration of faith! What mysteries about God were revealed to King Darius when he realized that Daniel’s God truly was able to save?
2) I wonder how this statement by the king further impacted the palace, his subjects—his entire kingdom! Any thoughts?
3) Does God receive any less glory if He permits His child to suffer unjustly (Hebrews 11?) The world cannot fathom that God’s salvation may be of physical nature, or it may reach all the way into the grave. They just don’t get, “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8!)”
4) Have you ever had your own personal “lion’s den?” To what lengths did God go in saving you? Please share!
5) I have to ask this question: Do you think that king Darius just added Daniel’s God to the many gods of the land, or was his confession one of true salvation?
6) You have to wonder, do you think that all the people followed this decree? Do you think they were ever thrown into the lion’s den?