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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Solomon: Folly in Wisdom

September 23

(1 Kings 3:1-5 NIV)  "Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem. {2} The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the Lord. {3} Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. {4} The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. {5} At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you.""

(1 Kings 3:9-10 NIV)  "So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" {10} The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this."

(1 Kings 4:29 NIV)  "God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore."

(1 Kings 11:9-10 NIV)  "The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. {10} Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord's command."

Solomon had it all: wealth, fame, power, wisdom, religious upbringing, the right family line… but in the end, his life went down the tubes because he worshipped and served created things instead of the Creator. When we worship and serve created things, the Creator’s light grows dim in our life. As we systematically yoke ourselves to unbelievers, our ties with God are weakened and we begin the downward slide into futility. The desire for other things leads us away from Jesus. We lose our focus. We forget our priorities, our purpose, and our calling. We lack for nothing, but give our hearts to anything and everything. We become polytheistic polygamists, squandering our lives investing in relationships that have no eternal value. We labor for that which came from dust and will return to dust, until finally, we arrive at our ultimate destination: Meaninglessness. Stop! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, September 22, 2017

David: The God of Second Chances

September 22

(Psalms 51:1-17 NIV)  "For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. {2} Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. {3} For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. {4} Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. {5} Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. {6} Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. {7} Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. {8} Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. {9} Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. {10} Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. {11} Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. {12} Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. {13} Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. {14} Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. {15} O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. {16} You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. {17} The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

David sinned and got caught. But he didn't just blow it off and mumble something about no one being perfect. He didn’t blame anyone else for his actions. He was crushed by the weight of his sin. His heart was broken and he repented. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, God will forgive us, no matter what we have done. His mercies are never ending. So, if God has forgiven you, maybe it's time you forgave yourself. When we have been forgiven by God, but refuse to forgive ourselves, we are acting like we know better than the Lord. We are placing ourselves in a higher position than Jesus and occupying His judgment seat. So, if you’ve been forgiven by the Lord, but will not forgive yourself, you have essentially become an idolater -- and you are the idol. Worship God acceptably. Cease and desist from your self-worship. Begin to forgive. Begin with yourself. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, September 21, 2017

David: Busted

September 21

(2 Samuel 12:1-14 NIV)  "The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. {2} The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, {3} but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. {4} "Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him." {5} David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! {6} He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." {7} Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. {8} I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. {9} Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. {10} Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.' {11} "This is what the Lord says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. {12} You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'" {13} Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. {14} But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.""

Sin always bears fruit here on earth. Eventually, the chickens always come home to roost. As that great proverb says, “Stupid should hurt.” And in the end, it always does. There is no such thing as a harmless sin. Repentance can help, but it does not clean up the debris field left behind by our selfish and thoughtless behaviors. Sin always harms something or someone, somewhere in our lives, and we do not get to choose the what, or the who, or the where. Sin is messy. It always splatters on those around us… those closest to us… those we love. Sin cannot be “contained”. It’s like a toxin released into the air on a warm and breezy day. We cannot control its deadly, drifting fumes. We do not decide who succumbs to its lethal residue. Being saved settles our debt with God, but the bills will continue to come due here on Earth. Expect it. Stop whining about it. Deal with it. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

David: The Agony of Defeat

September 20

(2 Samuel 11:1-27 NIV)  "In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. {2} One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, {3} and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" {4} Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. {5} The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant." {6} So David sent this word to Joab: "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent him to David. {7} When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. {8} Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet." So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. {9} But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master's servants and did not go down to his house. {10} When David was told, "Uriah did not go home," he asked him, "Haven't you just come from a distance? Why didn't you go home?" {11} Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!" {12} Then David said to him, "Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back." So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. {13} At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home. {14} In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. {15} In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die." {16} So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. {17} When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David's army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died. {18} Joab sent David a full account of the battle. {19} He instructed the messenger: "When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, {20} the king's anger may flare up, and he may ask you, 'Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn't you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? {21} Who killed Abimelech son of Jerub-Besheth ? Didn't a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?' If he asks you this, then say to him, 'Also, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.'" {22} The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. {23} The messenger said to David, "The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance to the city gate. {24} Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king's men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead." {25} David told the messenger, "Say this to Joab: 'Don't let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.' Say this to encourage Joab." {26} When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. {27} After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord."

In slaying the great giant, David experienced the thrill of victory. But the agony of defeat was just over the horizon. The enemy that eventually conquered David did not have mighty strength or greater numbers. David’s greatest foes did not stand nine feet tall or wear heavy armor. They were as small as his eyes and heart. As the married woman Bathsheba bathed on a rooftop in David’s line of sight, his eyes became focused on something other than his righteousness. His heart succumbed to the desires of his flesh, and he crumbled to the ground like the giant Goliath had done years before… slain by a single stone called Lust. His greatest defeat did not come from Philistines on the battlefield -- it came from philandering in his backyard. He dishonored himself, disgraced his nation, and disrespected his God. Our greatest enemies almost always live within us. Guard you heart! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

David: The Thrill of Victory

September 19

(1 Samuel 17:40-51 NIV)  "Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. {41} Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. {42} He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. {43} He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. {44} "Come here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" {45} David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. {46} This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. {47} All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands." {48} As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. {49} Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. {50} So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. {51} David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran."

Talk is cheap, but true faith moves us beyond words to action, and sends us out to do battle with giants. In faith, David stepped out of the cowardly crowd to face the giant Goliath alone. One step of faith and one rock changed the history of a nation, because one young man who believed God refused to be intimidated by the enemy’s size. David felt invincible because he believed that his God was invincible. In faith, he believed that his God could turn giants into bird feed. We can definitely learn something learn from David. Our attitude toward life's giants would change dramatically if we really believed in that same God. The fear we experience today is not because our giants are too big… it’s because our gods are too small. Make Jesus the Rock you reach for when the giants in your life are mouthing off, and you can enjoy the same confidence and the joy of victory. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, September 18, 2017

David: Dealing with Giants

September 18 

(1 Samuel 17:1-51 NIV)  "Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. {2} Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. {3} The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. {4} A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. {5} He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels ; {6} on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. {7} His spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. {8} Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, "Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. {9} If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us." {10} Then the Philistine said, "This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other." {11} On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. {12} Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul's time he was old and well advanced in years. {13} Jesse's three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. {14} David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, {15} but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father's sheep at Bethlehem. {16} For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. {17} Now Jesse said to his son David, "Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. {18} Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. {19} They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines." {20} Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. {21} Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. {22} David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers. {23} As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. {24} When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear. {25} Now the Israelites had been saying, "Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his father's family from taxes in Israel." {26} David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" {27} They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, "This is what will be done for the man who kills him." {28} When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle." {29} "Now what have I done?" said David. "Can't I even speak?" {30} He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. {31} What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him. {32} David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." {33} Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." {34} But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, {35} I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. {36} Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. {37} The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you." {38} Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. {39} David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them." So he took them off. {40} Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. {41} Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. {42} He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. {43} He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. {44} "Come here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" {45} David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. {46} This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. {47} All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands." {48} As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. {49} Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. {50} So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. {51} David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran."

When David was just a boy, he faced his first crisis. That crisis was a giant named Goliath. David won his battle and so can we. But a crisis is not like the twenty four hour flu. It doesn’t just sock you in the gut and leave the next day. It hangs around way past its expiration date. It lingers on and causes you pain for way too long. Crisis gets in your face and taunts you. It reminds you of how small and helpless and powerless you are. It doesn’t matter what the crisis consists of, if you don't deal with it, it will deal with you. Procrastination is not a solution that works. It does no good to pretend the crisis is not there. In fact, denial is like steroids to a crisis. A small crisis can grow to monstrous proportions in a short time if it is ignored. It will stalk you and haunt you until you stare it down, and in prayer, drive the sword of faith through its heart. Slay that giant. Don’t put it off. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Samuel: Answer the Call

September 17

(1 Samuel 3:1-10 NIV)  "The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. {2} One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. {3} The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. {4} Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." {5} And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down. {6} Again the Lord called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." {7} Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. {8} The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. {9} So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. {10} The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening.""

(1 Samuel 3:21 NIV)  "The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word."

(1 Samuel 8:6 NIV)  "But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord."

(1 Samuel 8:19 NIV)  "But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us."

Samuel learned to listen to God. Whether it was the written word or God speaking directly to him at Shiloh, Samuel heard the Lord. We must also learn to listen. God’s call is clear, but many never answer it. He calls us to move out of the confines of the church walls and go into all the world. Some respond by putting Jesus on hold. We use call-waiting and take all other calls ahead of God’s. Some let their answering machine pick up and then never listen to the messages. They essentially ignore God. LISTEN! We are all called to go public with our faith in some way… to get out of the pew and into the population. Instead, we often remain in our holy huddle with our hands over our ears. Beware! If we play deaf for too long, God’s call could be missed forever. When the Lord asks, “Can you hear me now?”… our answer should always be, “Yes, and I’m on the way.” -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Samuel: Can You Hear Me Now?

September 16

(1 Samuel 2:18 NIV)  "But Samuel was ministering before the Lord -- a boy wearing a linen ephod."

(1 Samuel 2:21 NIV)  "And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord."

(1 Samuel 2:26 NIV)  "And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men."

(1 Samuel 3:4-8 NIV)  "Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." {5} And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down. {6} Again the Lord called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." {7} Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. {8} The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy."

(1 Samuel 3:19-21 NIV)  "The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. {20} And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. {21} The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word."

The prophet Samuel was called by God when he was just a boy. Calling is what separates authentic prophets from imposters. It’s what distinguishes real disciples from pretenders. Our call can come in an instant, but because we so regularly exceed the noise limits and speed limits of life, hearing it can often take years. It may start as a gentle whisper, but if ignored it can develop into a roar. After we finally hear God’s call, living for self can never satisfy again. Calling brings purpose to life, and compels us to do what we were created to do… sometimes at great loss to ourselves. When we hear God and obey, we become His disciples and witnesses. God then lifts us to positions of visibility where we can bring Him glory, which is our ultimate calling. The foolish will move away from God’s call -- the wise will move toward it. Which way are you moving? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hannah: The Sacrifice of Praise

September 15

(1 Samuel 2:1-10 NIV)  "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. {2} "There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. {3} "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. {4} "The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. {5} 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. {6} "The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. {7} The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. {8} 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. {9} He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. "It is not by strength that one prevails; {10} 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.""

(Hebrews 13:15 NIV)  "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name."

Hannah let go of Samuel, and then she let go with an anthem of praise that rivals any in Scripture. Her sacrifice brought tears, but it also brought praise and worship in her life. Her words are still potent today. Faith should be deeply personal, but it should also manifest itself in our public life. We have a relationship with Christ in our heart of hearts, but we are also to be faithful and worshipful in the public arena. It’s not an “either/or” situation -- it’s a “both/and”. This will take more than the casual brushing up against the things of God that is so prevalent today. It will take an immersion in Christ that influences the way we live everywhere, every single day. This is the caliber of commitment Jesus seeks from his followers. We are called to lay down our lives on His altar and surrender all that we have to Him. This is how we offer a sacrifice of praise that brings glory to God. Hold nothing back. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hannah: Faith and Letting Go

September 14

(1 Samuel 1:19-28 NIV)  "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. {20} 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." {21} When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, {22} 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." {23} "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. {24} 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. {25} When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, {26} 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. {27} I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. {28} 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."

(1 Samuel 2:21 NIV)  "And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord."

(1 Samuel 2:26 NIV)  "And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men."

People of faith are blessed by God when they truly surrender everything to Him. That blessing comes in His time and in His way, and often in a form that is unexpected. Hannah trusted God for a child, and then she trusted God with her child. She modeled faith before Samuel was born, and again after he was born. She had prayed fervently for a child, and she promised to give her firstborn son to God. Hannah kept her promise and offered her son for the Lord’s service. We too must learn to let go and offer up our best to the Lord. At some point, we even have to place our children on the altar, and trust God for their future. It will be better for them, and it will be better for us. We never stop loving them, but we must give up the illusion of control. We must take our hands off the gifts we leave on God’s altar, or they are not truly left on the altar… nor are they genuine gifts. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hannah: Faith and Prayer

September 13

(1 Samuel 1:1-18 NIV)  "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. {2} He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. {3} 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. {4} 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. {5} But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. {6} And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. {7} 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. {8} 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?" {9} 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. {10} In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. {11} 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." {12} As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. {13} Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk {14} and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine." {15} "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. {16} Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief." {17} Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." {18} 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."

People of great faith sometimes endure great trials. That is often what makes them into people of great faith. The fires of tribulation can be a forge that forms a faith as strong as steel. We must understand that Jesus makes life better, but He won’t always make it easier. He told us the road was narrow. He told us people would hate us and that our possessions would be at risk. He promised us that in this world we would have trouble. He warned us that we would be persecuted, even killed for believing Him. The “blessed with riches” Christianity that is so prominent today is a 20th century American invention. The truth is, the more seriously we take our faith, the larger our challenges will probably be. Believing God in the face of negative circumstances is the growth stimulant for both saving faith and sustaining faith. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Boaz: Kinsman Redeemer

September 12

(Ruth 2:20 NIV)  ""The Lord bless him!" Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. "He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead." She added, "That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.""

(Ruth 4:14 NIV)  "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!"

(Job 19:25-27 NIV)  "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. {26} And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; {27} I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"

(Isaiah 59:20 NIV)  ""The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the Lord."

(Psalms 116:6 NIV)  "The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me."

In many ways, we are much like Ruth. We come as undeserving foreigners to the heavenly kingdom. We have no rights or privileges, only needs. We are destitute and desperate for mercy. Disaster and famine have come upon our spirits and we have no means of surviving on our own. We need a protector and a provider who will care for our orphaned, widowed souls -- someone who will sacrifice his reputation to cover us and care for us. God gave Ruth a Kinsman-Redeemer named Boaz. His heart was willing, but Ruth still had to approach him and seek his help. God has also given us a Kinsman Redeemer. His name is Jesus Christ. He has the means to provide shelter for us, and is willing to do so, but like Ruth, we must approach our Redeemer and ask for His help. Ditch the pride and ask Him to help you. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, September 11, 2017

9-11... When Evil Seems to Triumph

September 11

(Psalm 46 NIV) "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. {2} Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, {3} though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah {4} There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. {5} God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. {6} Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. {7} The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah {8} Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth. {9} He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. {10} "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." {11} The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

9-11 is one of those dates that Franklin D. Roosevelt said will “live in infamy”. Almost every generation has a defining moment like this… an event so challenging that it becomes an occasion to rise above. Evil comes crashing into our lives with the speed of a jet plane, changing reality as we know it, and we are reminded that something is very wrong with our world. If this is the best a million years of evolution can produce, there really is no hope for that process. And frankly, if this is the final product of religion, then Karl Marx was right. But, it’s not! It’s a mutation -- an evil twin, masquerading as God. And if we bow to the violence and terror… if we allow hate to rise up within us… then we have joined in the idolatrous sacrifice. In times like these, we fall to our knees. We fall onto the solid ground of our redeeming and sustaining Lord. All other ground is sinking sand. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Boaz: A Real Man of Standing

September 10

(Ruth 2:1-18 NIV)  "Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz. {2} 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." {3} 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. {4} Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, "The Lord be with you!" "The Lord bless you!" they called back. {5} Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, "Whose young woman is that?" {6} The foreman replied, "She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. {7} 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." {8} 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. {9} 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." {10} 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?" {11} 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. {12} 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." {13} "May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord," she said. "You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant--though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls." {14} At mealtime Boaz said to her, "Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar." When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. {15} As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, "Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don't embarrass her. {16} Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don't rebuke her." {17} So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. {18} She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough."

When it comes to character, compassion, and integrity in men, we live in the Dust Bowl days of the depression. But, when we come to Boaz in scripture, we enter a tropical paradise of manhood. The Bible calls him “a man of standing”. That means he had an excellent reputation, and was well respected in his community. He was fair and honest. He kept his word. He was upright and moral. He looked out for the poor. He didn’t cheat people. He wasn’t a drunk or a hypocrite. Boaz also protected Ruth. He could have taken advantage of her situation.  She was extremely vulnerable. But he watched over her in honorable fashion. He was a true “man of standing.” Today, we have men of wealth, influence, power, and fame… but, very few “men of standing”. We have a surplus of macho men, tough guys, and bad dudes, but “men of standing” are a very rare commodity. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Ruth and Naomi: Women of Destiny

September 9

(Ruth 1:16-17 NIV)  "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. {17} 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.""

(Ruth 4:13-17 NIV)  "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. {14} 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! {15} 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." {16} Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. {17} The women living there said, "Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David."

Ruth laid down her life for Naomi. Sometimes we have to die to our self before our life can become significant for God. So Ruth went with Naomi back to her old “hometown”… a little insignificant place called Bethlehem. Sometimes God calls us to insignificant places before he makes them into significant places. God has done significant work through insignificant people from insignificant places. Two very significant men rose up from the insignificant little town of Bethlehem: a lowly shepherd and a common carpenter. The shepherd David rose to defeat giants and become the king of Israel. The carpenter Jesus rose to defeat death and become the King of kings. God loves to take people that this world sees as insignificant and do significant things through them. Take heart, whoever and wherever you are today… God has something significant in mind for you. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ruth and Naomi: Bitter-Sweet

September 8

(Ruth 1:6-22 NIV) "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. {7} 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. {8} 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. {9} 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 {10} and said to her, "We will go back with you to your people." {11} 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? {12} 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-- {13} 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!" {14} At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her. {15} "Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her." {16} 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. {17} 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." {18} When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. {19} So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, "Can this be Naomi?" {20} "Don't call me Naomi, " she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. {21} I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me." {22} So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning."

One of the things that Naomi and Ruth learned is that what looks like lousy timing here on earth, can often be perfect timing in God’s economy. Tragedies can often become positive turning points in life. It seems like we can only learn this through losing -- like when that miracle doesn't come, when that healing doesn’t happen, when that pain doesn’t go away, or when that marriage falls apart. Sometimes we have to lose everything before we can finally grasp what we really have. When Naomi lost everything, she discovered she had a treasure named Ruth, a jewel who ended up in the line of Christ. Unless we learn to trust in God’s timing, we will very likely become bitter over defeat, trouble, and loss. Our losses can drive our lives into the ground. There’s an old saying that goes like this: “Trouble is like hot weather; it sours milk, but sweetens apples.” So… are you milk or apples? -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Naomi and Ruth: Murphy’s Laws

September 7

(Ruth 1:1-5 NIV)  "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. {2} 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. {3} Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. {4} They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, {5} both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband."

(John 16:33 NIV) "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Most have probably heard of Murphy’s Laws. “If anything can go wrong it will. Nothing is as easy as it looks. Everything takes longer than you think. The other line always moves faster.” There are hundreds, all dripping with pessimism soaked in reality. Naomi epitomized Murphy’s Laws and could have written a few out of her life. One of them could have been: “Sometimes things have to get a lot worse before they can get better.” Naomi’s story starts with a famine. But it got worse. Naomi’s husband died… no life insurance, no death benefits. All she had were her two sons. But it got worse -- both of her sons died. Her earthly security was gone. Sometimes things have to get a lot worse, before they can get any better. But the bright spot in that phrase is that "things can get better". And, eventually, they did. Life is not easy, bad stuff happens, but things can get better. Hold onto that today. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Samson: Dying With the Philistines

September 6           

(Judges 16:21-30 NIV)  "Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. {22} But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. {23} Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, "Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands." {24} When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, "Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain." {25} While they were in high spirits, they shouted, "Bring out Samson to entertain us." So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, {26} Samson said to the servant who held his hand, "Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them." {27} Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. {28} Then Samson prayed to the Lord, "O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." {29} Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, {30} Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived."

God called Samson to lead Israel. But God’s directive never overcame Samson’s desires. Eventually, he was taken captive and blinded by his sin. He became a great legend, but he never became a godly leader. Fleshly desires always seemed to take priority over faithful decisions in Samson’s life. God gave him supernatural strength, but his unspiritual addictions sapped his strength and made him weak. In the end, he frittered away God’s great gift. God still gives tremendous strength to flawed individuals. Along with that strength, comes a huge amount of grace. If strength and grace did not come together, our ashes would have been scattered by the wind long ago, for we have all sinned and fallen short. Samson ended up squandering his life. His legacy became: "He killed many more when he died than while he lived.” Let’s pray that our claim to fame is far better than that. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Samson: Sleeping with the Enemy

September 5

(Judges 14:19-20 NIV)  "Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. {20} And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding."

(Judges 16:4-5 NIV)  "Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. {5} The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, "See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.""

(Judges 16:16-30 NIV)  "With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death. {17} So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man." {18} When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. {19} Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. {20} Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him. {21} Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. {22} But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. {23} Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, "Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands." {24} When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, "Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain." {25} While they were in high spirits, they shouted, "Bring out Samson to entertain us." So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, {26} Samson said to the servant who held his hand, "Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them." {27} Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. {28} Then Samson prayed to the Lord, "O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." {29} Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, {30} Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived."

Samson was a carnal man who had a nasty habit of sleeping with the enemy. He had a God ordained purpose, but he had lived on the outskirts of God for so long that he didn’t even notice when God picked up and left town. God is our true north, but sometimes in our foolishness we head south and keep going south until we crash. God’s power leaves us, but we are oblivious to it until it’s too late. We may think we are flying, but we are actually crashing. There is a fine line between faith and presumption. We would be wise to learn the difference. They appear similar, but they are completely different, and have entirely different outcomes. Faith leads to victory. Presumption leads us down the path to spiritual apathy, blindness, captivity, and defeat. Samson took God’s strength for granted and it ended up maiming him and crushing him. Don’t go there. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, September 4, 2017

Samson: Walking by Sight

September 4

(Judges 13:3-5 NIV)  "The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. {4} Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, {5} because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.""

(Judges 13:24 NIV)  "The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him,"

(Judges 14:1-2 NIV)  "Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. {2} When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.""

(Judges 16:1-3 NIV)  "One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. {2} The people of Gaza were told, "Samson is here!" So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, "At dawn we'll kill him." {3} But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron."

The story of Samson reads like a seedy soap opera. Samson was born to deliver his people from the Philistines, but instead, he ended up dying with them. He is the classic model of what happens when we walk by sight, instead of by faith. Samson was very strong, but he was impulsive. He had very little self control. He loathed seeking counsel. He was led by his libido more than by his Lord. His lust for the flesh overcame his love for the Father. His destiny was determined by his desires. He crossed every boundary line God had set for him. This was his strategic weakness... his fatal flaw… his besetting sin… his Achilles heel. Eventually, it blinded him and cost him his very life. Take heed, Christian. Learn from his mistakes. When we walk in the way of Samson, we too may end up blind, humiliated, in chains, and dying with the Philistines. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gideon: Believing the Incredible

September 3

(Judges 6:14 NIV)  "The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?""

(Judges 7:2-7 NIV)  "The Lord said to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, {3} announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'" So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. {4} But the Lord said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go." {5} So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink." {6} Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. {7} The Lord said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.""

God asked Gideon to do some incredible things. We can put out fleece after fleece, but there comes a time when we must trust God, and in faith, step out into the uncertainty. Genuine faith takes us out to the very edge of practicality, and as we stare across the vast chasm of impossibility, we realize that only God can carry us across to the other side. Walk by faith! We should be attempting some things in life that will absolutely fail unless God shows up. If we only do the possible, acting in our present strength, how does that glorify God? All God needs from us is the strength that we have. Even our weakness can become great strength when totally given to Jesus. Maybe it’s time to swallow hard and trust God. Reach beyond your own abilities. Believe God for the incredible in your life. Has He not sent you? Go in the strength you have. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Gideon: Can You Hear Me Now?

September 2

(Judges 6:14, 17 NIV)  "The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" {17} Gideon replied, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me."

(James 1:22 NIV)  "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

Gideon doubted God’s call and asked for double confirmation. We should not assume Gideon’s way is best for us today. It’s a different time. Why would we ask God for signs when we have God’s written word to guide us? It’s in black and white, right in front of our faces. It is crystal clear and far superior to any fleece. Why should God reveal His will to us through signs, when He has already made it plain to us in Scripture? If you want to know more of God’s will for your life, do what you have already been called to do. Follow the instructions that Jesus has given to us. God told Gideon, “Go in the strength you have.” We would be wise to do the same. God wanted to move Gideon out of the shadows of doubt and into His wonderful light. Only then would Gideon reflect the glory of God’s light to his world. God wanted Gideon to go public with his faith. He wants us to do the same. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Friday, September 1, 2017

Gideon: Clarification Junkie or Man of Faith

September 1

(Judges 6:12-17 NIV)  "When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." {13} "But sir," Gideon replied, "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." {14} The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" {15} "But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." {16} The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together." {17} Gideon replied, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me."

(Judges 6:36-40 NIV)  "Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised-- {37} look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said." {38} And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew--a bowlful of water. {39} Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." {40} That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew."

God’s word was not enough for Gideon. He didn’t want to do what God called him to do, so he became a “sign seeker.” Many Christians spend a significant part of their life questioning, doubting, and dodging God’s call. So we “put out a fleece” to seek clarification. But most of us don’t really want clarification -- we want a reprieve. We just don’t want to do what God is calling us to do. We become clarification junkies and it destroys our appetite for faith. While it may be normal to question God’s will, don’t ever confuse “normal” with “best”. Questions make lousy hiding places, and God can see right through them. God didn’t answer all of Gideon’s questions, but He did give Gideon a directive: “Stop with the whining and procrastinating. Get up, get going, and get busy with your calling.” That sounds like good advice for us too. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Joshua: The Next Generation

August 31

(Joshua 1:1-9 NIV)  "After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: {2} "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them--to the Israelites. {3} I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. {4} Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates--all the Hittite country--to the Great Sea on the west. {5} No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. {6} "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. {7} Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. {8} Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. {9} Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.""

(Joshua 24:14-15 NIV)  ""Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. {15} But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.""

Joshua was a man of great courage who followed the Lord wholeheartedly. He boldly led God’s people into a land filled with giants to do battle with enemies who seemed too large and ferocious to conquer. But conquer they did. Joshua led an army that never lost a battle as long as they followed the Lord… an army that could truly say, “God is on our side”. God’s people still face giants today -- giants that are big and dangerous. Sometimes they have faces, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they are ideas and philosophies. Sometimes they are attitudes or addictions. We live in a dangerous and hostile world – a world that often devours those who live in it. But we must not withdraw or hide. We must face our giants, stand up to them, and defeat them… or we will stumble through life in fear and bondage. Wholeheartedly follow the Lord. Be strong and courageous! -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Nadab and Abihu: Playing with Fire

August 30

(Exodus 24:9-10 NIV)  "Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up {10} and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself."

(Leviticus 10:1-11 NIV)  "Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. {2} So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. {3} Moses then said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: "'Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.'" Aaron remained silent. {4} Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron's uncle Uzziel, and said to them, "Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary." {5} So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered. {6} Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, "Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the Lord will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the house of Israel, may mourn for those the Lord has destroyed by fire. {7} Do not leave the entrance to the Tent of Meeting or you will die, because the Lord's anointing oil is on you." So they did as Moses said. {8} Then the Lord said to Aaron, {9} "You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. {10} You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, {11} and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses.""

In the heart of Leviticus lies the tragic story of Nadab and Abihu, struck down by God for offering up “unauthorized fire”. They were well aware of God’s power and God’s law. They had seen God’s Glory! But they crossed a line and paid the ultimate price. If we think God was too harsh, it simply means we do not understand the holiness of God, or man’s proper place. Being chosen and anointed by God is not a fireproof antidote for disobedience. Neither is it a license to sin. Subsequent verses infer that Nadab and Abihu may have behaved foolishly because they were drunk. Drinking and foolish behavior regularly go together. We who complain about living with the fruit of our sins may want to take a look at Nadab and Abihu, and thank God we live in an age of grace. God expects our “fire” to be holy fire… pure and under His authority. And the greatest “fire” we have to offer God is our life. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Moses: One Last Mountaintop

August 29

(Deuteronomy 32:48-52 NIV)  "On that same day the Lord told Moses, {49} "Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. {50} There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. {51} This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. {52} Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.""

(Matthew 17:1-3 NIV)  "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. {2} There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. {3} Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus."

(Luke 9:30-31 NIV)  "Two men, Moses and Elijah, {31} appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem."

When the last of the unfaithful generation had died, Moses led their children back to the edge of the Promised Land. It was his last duty -- he would not be leading them in. Moses then made one last trip up the mountain to meet the Lord. He had made mistakes, but faced God as a repentant, faithful, and obedient man. This may seem sad, but our greatest rewards are not found here on Earth. Compared to what Moses was about to inherit, the Promised Land was peanuts. Moses did not inherit land here on earth, but his inheritance in heaven was great. Almost 1,500 years later, we see Moses, very much alive, on another mountain comforting Jesus as He was preparing to head up Mt. Calvary to face death -- Moses had “been there, done that.” A day is coming when we too will face death. Are you ready? With Jesus, we can ascend that last mountain with confidence. – Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day