Confident in Thy Obedience (Saturday, February 22, 2014)

Philemon 21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.

Introductory Thoughts

The epistle of Paul to Philemon was written to address the return of Philemon’s servant Onesimus to his master after he had been unfaithful in the past. Paul and Onesiumus spent time together in prison. While in bonds together, Paul was able to lead Onesimus to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. After Onesimus got saved and learned the truth, he became a profitable servant of the Lord and a tremendous help to Paul and his ministry. Paul thought it wise to send him back to his master Philemon with a personal letter. Paul asked Philemon to receive him back, not merely as a servant, but as a brother in Christ (Philemon 15-16). Paul requested that anything owed by Onesimus to Philemon should be charged to Paul’s account. This was a difficult request, yet Paul knew he could count on Philemon to do right. In fact, Paul trusted Philemon to go well beyond his requests in the letter.

Devotional Thoughts

· (For children): Older children sometimes do not realize how much their actions are carefully watched by the younger children. Can your example be trusted to show the younger children how to behave and follow the rules in church? Are you polite, obedient, and respectful? Do you put things back where they belong and never throw trash on the floor?
· (For everyone): When explaining Philemon’s dependability, Paul chose words like confidence and trust. What kind of words would be used to describe your dependability?
· Paul asked Philemon for some difficult things and trusted him to obey. Can you be trusted in tough situations to do the right thing?

Prayer Thoughts

· Ask the Lord to help you to be strong so that others will know that they can count on you.
· Ask the Lord to show you ways to be supportive of other believers.


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Faithful Philippians (Friday, February 21, 2014)

Philippians 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

Introductory Thoughts

Paul served the Lord in a capacity similar to what missionaries and evangelists do today. He traveled extensively to tell everyone and anyone about Christ’s saving grace. Holding a regular job to earn money would have been impossible due to Paul’s manner of life in addition to his recurring travels. However, the Bible tells us that he worked as a tent- maker when the need presented itself (Acts 18:1-3). Most of the time, however, he did not have personal income to provide for himself and his ministry. How would he live during those times? The Bible says that faithful churches provided for his necessities. The church at Philippi served as one such group of believers. Paul refers to a time when he departed from Macedonia. At that time, no church helped him; yet, the believers at Philippi sacrificially provided for his needs. These same believers faithfully helped Paul again in Thessalonica. Paul knew he could depend upon them because they understood the importance of distributing to those who had surrendered to the ministry.

Devotional Thoughts

· (For children): God expects our church family to help one another. How are ways that you could help if someone was sick, hurt, scared, sad, or in need of food or clothing?
· (For everyone): Are there people who depend upon you? Are they often disappointed or noticeably encouraged by you? How could you improve and grow in this area?
· Do your brothers and sisters in Christ consider you dependable? Does anyone seem surprised if you are not at church or not involved in ministries? What can you do to be more dependable and increasingly involved?

Prayer Thoughts

· Ask God to reveal to you people who need you to be faithful.
· Ask God to make you a dependable Christian willing to help others.

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The Demise of Sodom (Thursday, February 20, 2014)

Genesis 18:22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.
32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.
33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

Introductory Thoughts

Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lived in the wicked city of Sodom. Because of the city’s vile nature, God determined to pour out His wrath. After the Lord told Abraham about the impending judgment, he pleaded for the Lord to spare the city. Abraham’s conversation with the Lord ended with God agreeing to spare the city if He found only ten righteous people within the city of Sodom. Interestingly, Abraham started with the number fifty but stopped when he reached ten. Abraham obviously believed that at ten people he had gone low enough to spare the city? Abraham believed that Lot and his family (his wife, married daughters, sons-in-law and unmarried daughters) would provide the number necessary to escape God’s pronounced judgment. Abraham believed he could depend upon Lot to instruct his family in righteousness which would then prevent the impending doom. Surely God would find ten righteous, even if He looked no further than Lot’s family. In the end, the city of Sodom was destroyed and only Lot and two daughters escaped alive. The inhabitants of the city and the rest of Lot’s family were destroyed. Sin brought God’s attention upon Sodom, but an unreliable Lot sealed their fate.

Devotional Thoughts

· (For children): Have you ever felt uncomfortable when you were around people that you did not know? Imagine that a new family with children your age visits church. Would you smile at them, maybe shake hands and tell them your name? Would you invite them to come with you to your Sunday School and sit by them? Would this friendliness encourage them to feel welcome and maybe come visit again?
· (For everyone): How would the Bible story of Sodom be different if Lot had been dependable with teaching his family about the Lord? How would the fate of others be different if you were more dependable?
· Many people lost their lives in Sodom. How important was it for Lot to be dependable and to be a good witness for the Lord? What did Lot’s unfaithfulness cost him personally?

Prayer Thoughts

· Ask God to help you value the importance of being dependable.
· Pray that the Lord will give you a burden to be able to help those who are counting on you.

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I Know Him (Tuesday, February 18, 2014)

Genesis 18:16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Introductory Thoughts

Every devoted believer treasures the thought that one day God will say to him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant(Matthew 25:21). Abraham was such a man who exhibited faithfulness. In fact, it was God who commended Abraham for his faithful life though living in a very wicked world. The Lord came to visit Abraham in the plains of Mamre while on His way to bring judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah. As the visit was coming to an end, the Lord remained with Abraham as the two angels journeyed toward Sodom. Interestingly, the Bible reveals the mind of the Lord as He contemplated whether or not to tell Abraham about the judgment coming to Sodom. Why would the Lord consider it necessary to tell Abraham? The Bible provides insight when the Lord said, “I know him.” God told Abraham because Abraham showed himself faithful (Amos 3:7).

Devotional Thoughts

· (For children): God sees everything we do and how we act at home, at church and everywhere else. Can He count on you to obey your parents at home? Does He hear you asking for prayer and joining the class while singing in Sunday School? Would He praise you for listening to the Bible story, sharing your toys with others, and keeping your hands to yourself?
· (For everyone): Why do you think the Lord knew He could depend on Abraham to obey Him? Can you think of any reasons why the Lord would think He can count on you?
· God said He knew Abraham, and He knows you too! What does God know about you? Can He count on you to do the right things? Can your family depend upon you?

Prayer Thoughts

· Ask the Lord to reveal the true level of your dependability.
· Ask the Lord to help you to become more dependable today and in the future. Ask God for the right opportunities to be faithful.

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A Broken Tooth and a Foot Out of Joint (Monday, February 17, 2014)

Proverbs 25:19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

Introductory Thoughts

Dependability seems to be a diminishing virtue in each succeeding generation. Sealing a deal with a handshake and the saying “my word is my bond” are no longer dependable means of transacting business. Unfortunately, even God’s people are less dependable today than in previous generations. The Bible describes the painful experience of dealing with unfaithful people by likening them to a broken tooth or a foot out of joint. A broken tooth exposes raw nerves and makes eating excruciatingly painful. A foot out of joint makes movement hopeless without assistance. The Bible warns believers not to place confidence in a broken tooth, a foot out of joint, or an unfaithful man. Believers should stand apart from the world in this regard by becoming more like God.

Devotional Thoughts

· (For children): If dad promised to fix your broken toy but never did, how would this make you feel? When you make a promise to do something for someone, do you keep your promise? How do you think they feel when you don’t keep your promise?
· (For everyone): Have you ever experienced anything like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint? What kind of pain would be involved? What kind of daily activities are hindered by both of these problems? Why do you think that God chose these two problems to describe the pains caused by an unfaithful man?
· Can people depend upon you on a daily basis? Would those to whom you consider yourself closest consider you dependable? Why?

Prayer Thoughts

· Pray and ask the Lord to help you see the importance of being dependable.
· Ask the Lord to show you the pains involved when others cannot count on you to be dependable.


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Week 8 Overview (Sunday, February 16, 2014)

Sunday, Day 50— Church Day (no devotional)
Monday, Day 51— A Broken Tooth and a Foot Out of Joint
Tuesday, Day 52— I Know Him
Wednesday, Day 53— Church Night (no devotional)
Thursday, Day 54— The Demise of Sodom
Friday, Day 55— Faithful Philippians
Saturday, Day 56— Confident in Thy Obedience

Day 50: Church Day

Psalm 12:1
Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

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Wise Decisions Involving Eternal Consequences (Saturday, February 15, 2014)

Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.

8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.

9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.

11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?

12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;

13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

Introductory Thoughts

The book of Ruth tells the story of a family torn apart by death and how God miraculously worked behind the scenes. Ruth, a Moabite, married a Jew who was the son of Elimelech and his wife Naomi. Over time while they resided in Moab, Naomi’s husband and both of her sons died. After their deaths, Naomi determined to return to the land of Judah. She discouraged both Ruth and Orpah (her daughters-in-law) from returning with her since she felt that she had nothing to offer them. Each had to decide whether to go with Naomi or stay with their families in the land of Moab and serve their false gods. Orpah decided to stay, while Ruth chose to go with Naomi. At the time, Ruth’s decision seemed senseless. Yet, all those who read the book of Ruth know the blessings associated with this one wisely crafted decision. Ruth came to Bethlehem at the right time (Ruth 1:22), married a great man named Boaz (Ruth 4:13), and God allowed her to become part of the lineage of King David and the Lord Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:17; Matthew 1:5). Wow! Now, that is where the phrase “happy ending” was truly coined.

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): Every day, missionaries leave their friends and family to travel to faraway lands simply to tell people about the Lord. These are very difficult decisions and not everyone agrees with them. What good can come from such a decision?
  • (For everyone): Do you think that Ruth’s decision to go was easier than Orpah’s decision to stay? Why or why not? Which one made the right choice? What happened to Orpah after she decided to stay? What happened to Ruth?
  • What would Ruth have missed had she decided to stay in Moab? Is it possible that you will miss some blessings if you fail to make wise choices and correct decisions?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to help you see the long-term effects of your present decisions.
  • Pray that He will give you the wisdom to make the right choices, even when they are difficult to make.

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Difficult Decisions (Friday, February 14, 2014)

Numbers 16:1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:

2 And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:

3 And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?

4 And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:

5 And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.

6 This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;

7 And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.

8 And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi:

9 Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?

10 And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?

11 For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?

12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up:

13 Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?

14 Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.

15 And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.

16 And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow:

17 And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer.

18 And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron.

19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation.

20 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

21 Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.

22 And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?

23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

24 Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

25 And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.

26 And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.

27 So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.

28 And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.

29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.

30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.

31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:

32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

Introductory Thoughts

As Moses led Israel out of Egypt and on their journey toward the land of promise, he faced almost constant opposition. Numbers chapter 16 chronicles one such instance in great detail. Korah openly questioned and opposed Moses’ leadership forcing him to bring the matter before Almighty God. The Lord said He would answer this challenge directly and reveal His choice between Moses and Korah. Not only did God choose Moses, but He also indicated that Korah would be judged by the earth opening up and swallowing him alive. Before the arrival of God’s judgment, the people were instructed to choose by separating from Korah. Judgment fell as the earth opened up, swallowing alive those who followed Korah along with all their possessions. The earth simply closed back up. Interestingly, a brief Bible study (for instance, Psalm 88) reveals that the sons of Korah chose to obey God by separating from their father. Several subtitles in the book of Psalms like that found in Psalm 88 indicate these sons followed God and His servant and survived God’s judgment. The Devil presents few choices more difficult than choosing between God and family.


Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children):  Unfortunately, some children have parents that do not love God. These parents ask their children to lie or steal for them. They even may make fun of them for going to church. What should the children do if they love God and truly want to serve Him?
  • (For everyone): Do you think it was easy for the sons of Korah to walk away from their father and stand against what was wrong? What thoughts might have crossed their minds as they made this choice between their father and God?
  • What kind of choices might you one day be forced to make similar to the choice of the sons of Korah? Could you trust God enough to make such a difficult choice?


Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to help you choose right despite the cost or opposition.
  • Pray that God will give you faith to trust Him and especially during difficult times and trials.

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The Foundation for Wise Choices (Thursday, February 13, 2014)

Proverbs 1:20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;

25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:

26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;

27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.

28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Introductory Thoughts

In our passage today, the Bible identifies three gifts from God intended to enable believers to make right decisions. These three gifts are knowledge, wisdom, and reproof. Knowledge involves factual information that enables the believer to possess details before making a decision. The Lord rebukes the simple by pointing out that “they hated knowledge” (Proverbs 1:29). Because they hated knowledge, the people failed to choose the fear of the Lord. Wisdom, on the other hand, involves the proper use of the knowledge provided by God for the individual. Wisdom takes the facts obtained and uses them to make the right choices. The last of the three gifts completes the package. Reproof entails the enlightenment of error. Knowledge, wisdom, and reproof work together to enable believers to choose wisely and properly.

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): Learn everything you can about God and His word. He will help you make the right choices for any decision you face. Learn why mom and dad say “no” to things and be grateful they love you enough to stop you from making some bad decisions.
  • (For everyone): Knowledge turns out to be the most foundational of the three things mentioned in the passage. Where do you think you can obtain true knowledge? What are you doing to obtain that knowledge?
  • How you accept reproof reveals much about your heart. How do you respond when your errors are pointed out to you by those who love you? How do you react? Do you fix the problems or give excuses and continue in them?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Wisdom is a necessity for the believer. According to the Bible, God will give wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5). Ask God to give you the wisdom necessary to make wise choices.
  • Ask God to help you understand the importance of making wise choices and to help in making them more frequently.

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