DAILY DISCIPLINE #18
By Colleen Donahue
"Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;
Things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here:
Scenes by the wayside, Tales of the sea,
Stories of Jesus, Tell them to me."
Everyone loves a good story - children and adults alike. If you're not familiar with reading the Bible then you may not realize that it's filled with true stories of kings and queens, travel and adventure, good and evil, war and peace, stories of everyday life, and people. There are real heroes and heroines for our children to know about -- real lessons about life, no matter what the age or era. I've chosen only 30 stories but they are timeless and have a challenge for our lives today. Indeed you'll find these stories among some of the ...
GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD
Day 1- Read: Genesis 3:1-6 / 22-24 -- The woman who exchanged all she had for an apple.
God had given Adam and Eve everything that they could ever have needed or wanted. His only request was that they not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as a test of their free will. Real love requires free will and that's what God wants from us. Real love for God always results in wanting to obey Him. Eve failed that one test, and when Adam failed with her, it resulted in the fall of man from God's grace. All of us have suffered the consequences ever since. That's because all of us receive an inherited sinful nature from our first parents and therefore why all of us need a Savior to restore us to our right-standing with God.
Day 2- Read: Genesis 6: 11-22 / 7:1-24 -- The Voyage of the Ark
Why did God decide to destroy most of what He had made with a flood? (vs 6:11-12)
If God did this again would you be in the ark or the flood?
Day 3 -Read: Genesis 37:12-36 / 39:20-23 / 41:1-44 -- The story of Joseph
Can anything good come out of evil? We learn throughout the Bible that nothing comes our way except for what God allows to sift through his fingers to us. A man may mean us harm, but if God allows it, then it will turn out for our good and his glory. Joseph saw this clearly as we learn later in this story. (Genesis 45:1-8)
Day 4 - Read: Numbers 20:7-13 -- Moses Strikes the Rock
What happened when Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it? (vs.11)
So, God in His mercy still allowed the rock to gush water so the people could drink but what were the consequences for Moses? (vs. 12)
Day 5 - Read: Numbers 21:4-9 -- The Israelites and Snakes!
What resulted from grumbling against God and their leader Moses? (vs 6)
What did this prompt the people to do? (vs 7)
What finally stopped this judgment from God? (vs 8-9)
Day 6 -Read: Joshua 2:1-24/ 6:22-25 -- Rahab the Harlot
What did Rahab tell the spies about what the people of Jericho and she believed? (vs 8-11)
What did Rahab need to do when the Israelites would come to destroy them? (vs 17-20)
Note: This was a foretaste of what we as sinners need to do to be safe from the wrath of God. The scarlet cord represents having the blood of Jesus over our lives and we stay safe when we stay "in Jesus".
Day 7 -Read: Joshua 7:10-26 -- Achan's Theft
Israel had been on a winning streak in defeating their enemies when suddenly they were soundly defeated by the men of Ai. As a result, they were paralyzed with fear, and their courage melted away. What did God see that they couldn't see? (vs 10-12)
What did Joshua and the people need to do? (vs 13-18)
When Achan was singled out, what did he do? (vs 19-21)
Notice that Achan acknowledged his sin but expressed no sorrow of repentance.
What was God's judgment for his sin? (vs 25-26)
God is merciful with us when we repent from our hearts and stop sinning. But judgment for all sin is death when there is no repentance.
Day 8 - Read: Joshua 6:1-21 -- Joshua and Jericho
Read: Judges 7:7-22 -- Gideon and the Midianites
Both Joshua and Gideon had the Lord's promise given to them about the enemies before them. What was it? (Joshua 6:2 / Judges 7:9)
Already knowing the outcome gave them the faith to do as God instructed them -- but -- we must admit they were unusual warfare tactics. Yet, when God directs, our part is to obey. What was the outcome for Joshua? (Joshua 6:20)
What was the outcome for Gideon? (Judges 7:21-22)
What will be the outcome for us when we obey God? (1 John 3:21-22)
Day 9 -Read: Judges 6:36-40 -- Gideon's Fleece
Note: Signs are not the usual way that God shows us things. Satan can fulfill our request for a sign just as well as God. But God knows where we are in our walk with Him and so for Gideon, He honored his sincere request.
Day 10- Read: Judges 16:1-31 -- Samson and Delilah
The story of Samson is a warning for all of God's leaders and servants. God had chosen Samson before his birth to do a special task. What was that to be?
(Judges 13:5,7) For this purpose, he was dedicated as a Nazarite.
Time and again God's Spirit came upon Samson so he would have the power he needed. (Judges 14:6,19 / 15:20)
What did Samson become for Israel? (Judges 15:20)
So here was a man called by God, leading Israel with the Spirit of God -- but a man given to sin. (Judges 16:1,4)
Compromise and sin weaken us as we see with Samson and Delilah. First, we see Samson affected by Delilah's constant nagging. (Judges 16:16-17)
Then we see his strength leaving when Delilah cut his hair. (Judges 16:19)
With his shaved head in Delilah's lap, what didn't Samson know? (Judges 16:20)
Without the Spirit of God, Samson was now just an ordinary man operating in his own strength. It will be so with us if we live in sin without God's Spirit.
Day 11 -Read: I Samuel 9:1-10:16 -- Saul Becomes King
Here's an example of a man set about his ordinary task when God calls him to a higher place.
Day 12 -I Samuel 15: 1-35 -- The Lord Rejects Saul
Why would God reject a man whom He had originally called to a position? (vs 18-19)
Saul's disobedience was clear to everyone but himself. He stubbornly insisted he had obeyed. (vs 20-21)
But the Lord, through Samuel, had to set his thinking straight. (vs 22-23)
It was only when Saul heard the news that God had now rejected him as king that he repented. But why was his repentance insincere? (vs 24-25)
Samuel could see right through Saul's phony repentance and told him three things. (vs 26-29)
And so a promising man, chosen by God, threw it all away through his pride, rebellion, and stubbornness. (vs 35) When God directs any one of us who serve Him, our response must be obedience.
Day 13 - Read: I Samuel 16:1-13 -- The Anointing of David
One of the most important principles to learn from this story is how man sees things vs. how God sees them. Why the difference? (vs 6-7)
Day 14 - Read: I Samuel 17:1-58 -- David and Goliath
While man glories in stature and strength what does God often use to confound even the wisest men? (I Corinthians 1: 27-28 )
Day 15 - Read: 2 Samuel 11:1-27 -- David's Plot to cover his sin
This true story of King David is the same path that all take to sin. Let's look more closely at the elements.
A. David wasn't where he should have been and therefore opened himself up to what would happen next. (vs 1)
B. With time on his hands, David could just stand at his window and look out. That's when "he saw a woman taking a bath." It's not sin that his eyes happened to see Bathsheba, but it was sin when he didn't look away and then lusted for her. (vs. 2-3)
C. Even knowing she was married, David sent for Bathsheba because he had decided to commit adultery with her. (vs 4-5
D. When she sent word that she was pregnant David tried to arrange a cover-up with her husband Uriah -- not once but twice. But Uriah was an honorable man. (vs 6-13)
E. Then David plotted Uriah's murder and was successful. (vs 14-17)
F. Bathsheba became "one of David's wives". (vs 26-27)
G. James 1:14-15 gives us a summary version of this story.
Day 16 - Read: I Kings 17: 1-6 -- God feeds Elijah
We learn in this example of Elijah that God can provide what we need in extenuating circumstances that is totally out of the ordinary. The real question is do we believe that?
Day 17 - Read: I Kings 17: 10-16 -- The Widow at Zarephath
God can multiply the little we have to meet our needs when we give what we have (however little that may be) for His service.
Day 18 - Read: 2 Kings 4:1-7 -- The Widow's Oil
God can keep filling and giving to us as long as we have "the containers" to receive. His abundance only stops when we can no longer receive.
Day 19 - Read: 2 Kings 5:1-15 -- Naaman healed of leprosy.
Points to ponder from this story:
A. While the King of Israel didn't know the power of the God he served -- Elisha did. (vs. 8)
B. Elisha doesn't come out of his home to greet the respected Naaman -- only sending a message to him as to how to be healed! (vs 9-10)
C. Naaman is angry for 3 reasons: (vs 11-12)
1. He is not treated with great honor and respect by Elisha
2. He expected there to be a big service with Elijah waving his hands and calling on God.
3. He wanted healing on his own terms. The Jordan River was not as clean as the rivers in his own city.
D. Naaman the leper needed to simply obey God's instructions through Elisha. And when he did, he was healed. (vs 14)
E. Elisha's refusal of Naaman's gifts was a slight to Naaman but the honorable Elisha would not take credit for what God had done. In fact, he kept totally out of God's way. (vs. 15-16)
F. And so Naaman was not only healed physically but also spiritually. He now knew the true God that Israel worshipped. (vs 17)
Day 20 - Read: 2 Chronicles 20:20-23 -- Israel encounters war with surrounding nations under King Jehoshaphat
This true story has many personal lessons for us. Let's look at it closely:
A. What was the situation for Israel? (vs 1-2)
B. With such terrifying news, what did King Jehoshaphat and the people do? (vs 3-10)
C. King Jehoshaphat then summed up for God what they needed and wanted (vs 12) because he knew he was powerless against their mighty army.
D. How did God answer and what did he say? (vs 14-15)
E. What did God instruct them to do? (vs. 16-17)
F. What was the response for the Israelites? (vs 18-21)
G. From the very moment they began to praise God what happened? (vs 22-23)
H. By the time Israel got to the lookout point over the battlefield, what did they see? (vs 24)
I. As Israel triumphed over God's victory what was the effect of the warring nations around them? (vs 25-30)
Let's summarize how we can apply this to our own lives.
1. The next time you have an overwhelming, fearful situation -- turn to God in prayer before doing anything else. Tell Him all about what's happening and ask Him for His guidance in the situation. Yes, he already knows the situation but He delights to hear about it from you and me.
2. When you sense what He wants you to do, then obey that direction with praise and thanksgiving.
3. Stand firm in the fact that your battle is God's battle and He will act as you obey.
4. Receive your victory by faith and celebrate in triumph.
Day 21 - Read: Nehemiah 4: 1-23 -- Nehemiah rebuilds the wall of Jerusalem
This is another true story with a lot of lessons for us. Before you read chapter 4 here was the situation: The Israelites had long been captives living in Babylon. The first group of Jews had been allowed to return to Jerusalem to start rebuilding the temple and then the city. But Nehemiah, the King's cupbearer back in Babylon, heard how things were not going well for these first pioneers and gained permission by the Persian king to return for a time to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Here is where Chapter 4 begins.
A. It's important for us to know that anytime we step out to do God's business we'll have opposition. Satan will work through others to oppose us. (vs. 1-3)
B. What did Nehemiah immediately do? (vs 4-5)
C. Just when we start to see some progress the attacks against us might increase. (vs. 6-8)
D. What did all the Jews do? (vs 9)
Notice that they did more than pray. They prayed AND guarded the city.
E. Opposition can come from without and from within. (vs. 10-12)
F. What did Nehemiah do? (vs. 13-19)
G. What was Nehemiah confident of? (vs 20)
H. How did the work get done? (vs 21-23)
If we are part of a work for God, Satan is not going to roll over and let us proceed without a fight. You will need to be on guard -- working with one hand while holding the weapons of our warfare in the other. (See Ephesians 6:10-18)
Day 22 - Read: Daniel 3:1-20 -- Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego and the fiery furnace.
When our lives are truly consecrated to God we are more anxious to please and honor Him than even a man as powerful as King Nebuchadnezzar. Can we answer as these men did? (vs. 17-18)
What can result when we live our lives without compromise? (Daniel 3:28-30)
Day 23 - Read: Daniel 6:1-28 -- Daniel and the Lion's Den
A. How are we to live in a society that doesn't recognize God, or where lip service is given to God while people live as they want? (vs. 10)
B. In a kingdom government, the word of the King becomes the law and can't be revoked. (vs. 12,15)
This is why the Word of God is unchangeable and eternal. He is the Almighty King of the universe whose word is the law and always true. (Psalm 119:89 / Matthew 5:18 / Matthew 24:35)
This means we can count on God doing what He says.
C. When God keeps His Word to us it is the best witness we can have to the society around us. (vs. 25-27)
Day 24 - Read: Jonah 1:1-17 -- Jonah's Disobedience
A. Jonah, a prophet in Israel, was given an assignment by God. What was it? (vs. 1-2)
B. What did Jonah do instead and why? (vs. 3)
C. How did Jonah's disobedience affect the lives of others? (vs. 4-15)
D. Despite Jonah's disobedience how did God get glory from the men on the ship? (vs. 16)
Day 25 - Read: Matthew 25:1-13 -- Parables of the Ten Bridesmaids
A. There is a lot of symbolism in this parable:
- "The coming of Christ to receive His people to himself is often represented under the similitude of a marriage, the church being represented as Christ's spouse or bride." Albert Barnes
-The ten bridesmaids (maidens or virgins) represent the church
- The wise bridesmaids refer to those prepared for the coming of Christ.
- The foolish bridesmaids represent those who profess to love Jesus but are unprepared to meet Him.
- The marriage ceremony took place at the bride's home but now the "marriage-feast" would be at the grooms and represents our entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven prepared for us by Jesus.
B. What will happen when we die if we haven't prepared ourselves now (during the normal course of our lives) for meeting Jesus? (vs 10-12)
Note: the entire point of this parable is in verse 12.
Day 26 - Read: Luke 10:25-37 -- The Good Samaritan
A. The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the best knows of the ones Jesus told. At this time, Judea abounded with robbers along roads and one of the most dangerous roads was from Jericho to the Dead Sea.
B. The priest and Levite who passed by without helping their fellow Jew were guilty of seeing the hurt man clearly and yet not wanting to get involved. Their apathy is almost unthinkable to us.
C. The Samaritans were hated enemies of the Jews and they had no dealings with them. That fact makes this story all the more poignant that he overcame his revulsion to see a hurt human being that needed his help.
D. Who is our neighbor? (vs 36-27)
Jesus is showing us what we must do to friends and foes alike when they are in distress.
Day 27 - Read: Luke 15:11-24 -- The Prodigal Son
A. The story of the Prodigal Son is another well-known parable that Jesus spoke. As with most of his parables, it's full of symbolism:
-the younger son represents the publicans (common people) and sinners. (vs 12-13)
- the older son represents the scribes and the Pharisees -- good upright Jews who followed the rules and worked hard for God. (vs. 25,28-31) They were self-righteous.
B. When did the younger son who went off to experience some adventure and wild living realize he was on the wrong path? (vs 17)
C. Notice how he practiced in his head what he would say and do when he went home. (vs. 18-19)
D. Going home to his father is symbolic of our turning back to God. When we "come to our senses" where else can we go to receive the love and mercy that we crave? This father's response is symbolic of God's waiting for us. Notice the father was watching and then he ran to his son. That's something a dignified landowner would not do. (vs 20)
E. The younger son did deliver his prepared speech but the father would not hear it. What happened instead? (vs. 22-24)
F. If you have gone down the wrong path and are now coming to your senses then RUN don't walk to your Heavenly Father because He is running to you!
Day 28 -Read: Acts 5:1-10 -- Ananias and Sapphira
When we lie to men who are we really lying to? (vs 4)
The issue was not the money but the lying and God makes it clear in this verse that liars will be condemned. (Revelation 21:8)
Day 29 -Read: John 5:1-9 -- The Healing of the paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda
A. Sometimes if we have suffered an illness or some personality behavior for a long time we can see ourselves as powerless and become victims of our circumstances. We get stuck in our daily routine and even get comfortable living in it. That's why Jesus asks this man a pointed question. (vs. 6 )
B. If we have become victims of our circumstances, then all we have for answers are excuses. (vs. 7)
C. But salvation is all about experiencing wholeness in body, soul, and spirit. Jesus did not want to leave this man in his paralysis and excuses. So he gives him three things to do: (vs 8)
1. The first step towards any miracle of health and healing is to "get up". It's to intentionally do what God is directing you to do.
2. The second step is to "pick up". We should pick up the Word of God which is our offensive weapon to cut through the resistance that comes between us and God's miracles. We were meant to have dominion over our lives and circumstances. By picking up the Word of God we replace our wrong thinking with the mind of Christ.
3. The third step is "to walk" -- to put the mind of Christ into action. Hearing the Word without doing it leaves us stuck in sin and sickness. When we walk we develop a pace for the long haul.
D. God's #1 priority for us is the healing of our soul. Our spirit is the deepest part of us that chooses or refuses to be connected with God. Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. If we allow our soul to control us (rather than our spirit) then miracles of the body become impossible. God's Holy Spirit within our human spirit is meant to be the controller over our soul and body. The Holy Spirit is full of resurrection life that is what makes us well. And so when Jesus saw this man walking later in the temple what did He tell him? (vs 14)
Day 30 -Read: John 10:1-16 -- The Shepherd and His Flock
A. In Biblical times, sheep pens were enclosed by natural features such as bushes, rocks, and trees. The shepherd stood in an open place to count and examine the sheep as they came into the natural enclosure. In that way, the shepherd was the "door" of the sheep pens. If we come into God's family through Jesus, what will we have?
B. The "thief" that Jesus refers to is Satan. What does he want to do to us? (vs 10)
C. What makes Jesus uniquely qualified to be the "Good Shepherd"? (vs 11-13)
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