What Would Jesus Read?: Daily Devotions That Guided the Saviorby Joe Amaral
After the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem, the Jews were exiled to Babylon. Not only was there no longer a physical place to pray, even the sacred Scriptures were becoming scarce. Many of the biblical scrolls were lost or destroyed during the exile. In an attempt to preserve the Scriptures, the Rabbis divided up the biblical texts into weekly reading
After the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem, the Jews were exiled to Babylon. Not only was there no longer a physical place to pray, even the sacred Scriptures were becoming scarce. Many of the biblical scrolls were lost or destroyed during the exile. In an attempt to preserve the Scriptures, the Rabbis divided up the biblical texts into weekly reading portions and distributed them among the families of Israel. Each was responsible for memorizing their assigned passage and then reading it in the synagogue every Sabbath.
This system of reading is the basis for the story found in Luke 4:16-17: "He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him."
This system is still in use today by Jews all over the world. In WHAT WOULD JESUS READ?, Joe Amaral gives modern day Christians the opportunity to follow and practice the same devotional system that Jesus used!
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What Would Jesus Read?Daily Devotions That Guided the Savior
By Joe Amaral
FaithWordsCopyright © 2012 Joe Amaral
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Let there be light
Week 1 • Day 1
Genesis is one of the most well-known books in the Bible. The biblical account of creation is known throughout the world. In these opening verses of the Bible we see the creative power of God at work. The world was void, the world was dark and it was without form. But then God spoke. He said let there be light, and there was light.
I could fill pages and pages describing how amazing the story of creation is, but instead I would like to focus on how these verses can relate to your life. Life isn’t always fair. We have sunny days and we have dark days. Some people are living in constant spiritual and emotional darkness. They see no way out on their own. God speaks four simple words, let there be light. We can spend years looking for and seeking after natural solutions, but sometimes the greatest solution is right in front of our eyes.
Think about this: if the God of our universe could speak into actual darkness, then how much more is He able to speak into the darkness of our lives and bring us His light?
What is this you have done?
Week 1 • Day 2
Talk about definitive moments in history. Recorded in today’s reading is the day sin entered into the world and changed the course of humanity for eternity.
God had created a perfect environment for Adam and Eve to live in: Fruit-bearing trees. No sickness or disease. No evil. What a paradise! They were allowed to enjoy everything in the garden; everything except for one tree, that is.
Isn’t that like human nature? You put a child in a room and tell him that he can play with any toy he wants, but he can’t touch anything in a specific drawer. So where is the first place he goes when you leave the room? You guessed it… the forbidden drawer.
Adam blames Eve; Eve blames the snake. No one wants to take responsibility. There’s plenty of blame to go around! Our human nature always wants to push the boundaries. All we have to do is live within God’s guidelines. Don’t fight God’s laws—obey them and understand that He has placed them there for your protection and blessing.
Sin is crouching at your door
Week 1 • Day 3
Sibling rivalry is nothing new, but at the heart of this story is jealousy. God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. He must have been moping around because God basically said to him, “Why the long face?” God sees into his heart and even warns him. He’s basically telling Cain to guard his heart and let go of the bitterness. Then comes the statement: “Sin is crouching at your door.”
Didn’t Cain realize that there would be hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities to present offerings to the Lord? But Cain just couldn’t let it go. So in his sin he rises up and kills his brother.
Okay, so maybe you’re not planning to kill a sibling, but maybe there is some jealousy in your life. And if you don’t deal with it, it will continue to rise until perhaps it causes you to sin.
Receive God’s warning today. Deal with the anger or resentment in your heart before it causes you to do something you will regret for eternity.
In the likeness of God
Week 1 • Day 4
There are a lot of difficult concepts to grasp in this world. Some people devote their entire lives to studying the origins of the universe. Others devote themselves to finding cures for humanity’s many diseases. The concept in today’s reading is the most staggering one of them all.
The God of our universe could have formed man after anything He wanted to. And yet He chose to form man in His own image. If you stop and think about it, it’s an incredible thought. What that says to me is that I’m important. It means you’re important.
Many people struggle with their self-image. Some people spend a fortune trying to improve who they are and how they look. Keep this thought in your heart today: you are created in the image and likeness of God. You can’t put a price tag on something like that. Just accept this fact: you’re great just the way you are.
Don’t let the world tell you how you should look or how you should act. If you focus and devote your life to being more like Him… you’ll be just fine.
Evil all the time
Week 1 • Day 5
God created the earth out of love. He desires to have fellowship with the very creation that He has made. He wants to walk with us and talk with us, He wants to know us. He wants us to live in paradise and to live a sin-free life.
Because of the sin of Adam and Eve our hearts now are naturally inclined to sin. The sin became so great that God decided it was time for a clean slate. Could it be true that, as the text says, all man thought about was sin? Some might say that’s an exaggeration. But let’s be honest with ourselves, let’s examine our own hearts. It’s not a place we like to go, but the truth is, evil does live there. Look at the world around us; watch the news. The evidence is overwhelming: man’s heart is evil.
No one is above sin… no one! We have all incurred Adam’s sin. It’s in our nature now. The key is to find out how to keep it under control.
So how do we fix it? We don’t. Only God can. Give God an all-access pass to your heart. Let His Law and love fill your heart like a flood.
Noah found favor
Week 1 • Day 6
How many nice people would you say you know? Define what makes a person nice. Let’s take it a step further. How many people do you know that you would consider to be righteous? I don’t know about you, but I have a pretty short list. I know a lot of people who think they’re righteous. But that’s an entirely different devotional. We all think that we’re okay, but how do we really measure up to God’s standards?
Consider Noah. We don’t know much about him. We do know about the world in which he lived. From the text we learn that the people around him were living for themselves… that they weren’t living for God. We learn that everybody was living as they pleased. But right in the middle of this text comes this remarkable statement: Noah found favor in the eyes of God.
I don’t know about you, but I want that to be said of me. I want to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God. If we read His word and if we listen to His voice, then we also can find favor in the eyes of God.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you
Week 1 • Day 7
As you read through the Torah, one thing becomes perfectly clear—the nation of Israel was not perfect. Over and over again God provides for them, protects them, and does incredible things in their presence, yet they sin and turn away from Him. On more than one occasion God was planning to either punish or destroy them. But every time they repented, God relented. He forgave their sin and kept His promises.
This passage beautifully describes God’s heart toward the nation of Israel. He uses such tender and loving language. He assures them that they will never be alone, that He will always walk with them.
This passage isn’t only for Israel, it applies to us today. You can have the confidence that God is with you, that He will be with you through the good and the bad. Even when we fall, all we have to do is turn back to Him and He will be there waiting for us. So if you’re passing through some turbulent waters, be at peace and know that God will never leave you and that He will always watch over you.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time
Week 2 • Day 1
When God asked Noah to build the ark, it had never rained before. No one had ever seen rain, so when God asked Noah to build this massive boat, what must Noah have thought? I wonder if he questioned the command. Perhaps he tried to reason his way out of it. Surely God wasn’t asking him to do this; maybe Noah thought this was his own bright idea.
Have you ever wondered how large the ark actually was? I knew it was big, but I never realized how big until I saw the world’s only full-size replica in Hong Kong. This ark was huge! No wonder it took so long to build. Being able to walk through the ark in Hong Kong gave me a whole new appreciation for Noah’s commitment and obedience to God’s command.
Have you ever had a dream or a vision so big that you questioned God as the source of it? Instead of giving in to the pressure or bowing to the ridicule of the people, Noah stuck to the calling the Lord gave him. In the end, it not only saved his life, but also the lives of all those he loved.
The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in His heart
Week 2 • Day 2
What would you consider to be a pleasing aroma? Maybe a freshly brewed cup of coffee in the morning? That would be my first choice, but to God, sacrifice was the aroma that got His attention. During the days of the flood, there was only one way to make atonement for your sins: blood. There was no quick prayer to be said or any simple solution. The only way to remove the stain of sin was the shedding of blood. (We’re talking before the days of the Temple or Tabernacle.) There was no orderly way to do this. A clean animal had to die on your behalf. This would become the foundation for the temple practices.
What is striking here is that to God, the sacrifice was a pleasing aroma to His nostrils. When an animal is brought to an altar and has its blood shed, God calls that pleasing.
Have you ever responded to an altar call in church? Remember this: things go to the altar to die. What thought, attitude, or emotion in your life needs to die? And when it does, it is pleasing to God.
I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you
Week 2 • Day 3
What does the word “covenant” mean to you? It’s not a term that we use in our modern-day vocabulary. As a result, the power of its meaning has been lost or diluted. Most people would define it as a promise that one person makes to another. One definition states that a covenant is a binding contract.
In other words, it’s not something that you would take lightly. We live in a world where promises are both made and broken on a daily basis. But what about God? Does He make promises He cannot or does not keep? Of course not.
God established the covenant with us because He knew that we as human beings would never be able to hold up our end of the bargain.
With Noah He covenanted never to flood the earth again. Has God made a covenant with you? He said that He would always be with us, that He will never abandon us. He always keeps His promises. The Scriptures encourage us to be imitators of God… let’s be people of our word.
Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens
Week 2 • Day 4
The infamous Tower of Babel. What did the people do that was so bad? They wanted to build a tall tower. Is that such a sin? Don’t we build tall buildings all the time today? So what was it about this particular tower that caused God to react the way He did?
You see, it wasn’t what they wanted to build, but why they wanted to build. The text says that they wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to lift themselves up above the very Creator. If there is anything we learn from the Torah, it’s this: God is a jealous God. He never wants to hold second place in your life.
If we only live to lift up ourselves and to make a name for ourselves, then we are going to have a very shallow existence. Life is temporary; we need to set our sights on those things that are eternal. Take the focus off yourself; start living to serve and lift up others. See the difference it makes. Lift up His name.
And together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there
Week 2 • Day 5
Abraham is considered to be the father of the world’s three largest religions. He is revered by billions of people as one of the greatest men to ever have lived. But who is he and why did God call him? At this point in his journey he still goes by the name his mother gave him: Abram. His new name of Abraham comes much later.
As far as we know, there was nothing unique or special about Abram. His father, Terah, was on his way to the Promised Land: Canaan. But he didn’t even get close. The text says he got as far as Haran, and they settled there.
The striking thing about this story is that in one way or another, it relates to all of us. Many times God is calling us to the Promised Land, but we settle. Why do we settle? Because sometimes it’s easier, isn’t it? When we settle we miss out on God’s full intent for our lives. Don’t give up, don’t settle. Continue until you reach your promised land in Him.
Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame
Week 2 • Day 6
Israelites are the chosen people of God; there can be no doubt about that. The Bible is replete with Scriptures that testify to that fact. The Bible is also replete with verses that talk about how the nation of Israel continually walked away from God. People wrongly assume that because the Israelites are God’s people that they are somehow innately perfect.
What encourages me about God’s relationship with Israel is His never-failing love for them. Even though they were unfaithful to Him, He was always faithful to them. Like a husband who caught his wife in adultery, God could have shamed His people. Instead, through the prophet Isaiah He assures them that they will not suffer shame.
Many of us who love God continually fail Him. I’m sure there have been times in your life when you questioned God’s actions, maybe even His very existence. Know this—He is faithful despite our actions. Though we may break our covenant with Him, He will never break His with us.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters
Week 2 • Day 7
In the wilderness, water is everything. For those of us who live in developed parts of the world with running water, we can’t even begin to imagine what life was like during biblical times. Today if you’re thirsty you simply go to your refrigerator and get a nice cold bottle or glass of water.
During the time of the Israelites there was no such luxury. Water was essential to everyday life. Without it you could not water your livestock, your fields, or even sustain your own bodies. It’s within this cultural and geographical context that God makes this promise. To the readers of this week’s weekly portion, this passage was life! In a dry and dusty part of the world, this passage would have been met enthusiastically by Isaiah’s audience.
What about you? Are you thirsty? Are you feeling dry? God’s presence is the living water that sustains our spirits. There can be no existence without Him. Come and drink freely from the waters that He offers.
Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you
Week 3 • Day 1
Most men don’t like to ask for directions, but Abram wasn’t even given a hint! Out of the blue God tells Abram to not only leave his father’s house but to also leave his country. All God said was that He would lead Abram to a land that He would show him. Talk about your nonspecific directions! Abram: “Where shall I go, God?” God: “Over there somewhere.” Abram: “Okay.” What an odd conversation that must have been.
The text gives no indication that Abram hesitates to obey or challenges the command. He simply gets up and goes. God also told him that He would bless him and make him a great nation. But there was a catch… he had to get up and go.
We all want the blessing of God. We pray for it all the time. But like Abram, are we willing to get out of our comfort zone and follow God no matter what the cost? God will freely bless us, but we must freely obey and trust Him in order to receive the blessing.
If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left
Week 3 • Day 2
Because of Abram’s commitment to obeying God, he becomes a blessed man—not only spiritually but financially. In today’s economy we think dollars and cents, but in biblical times, your wealth was calculated by your livestock. The biblical description of what Abram had was extensive.
Now Abram’s nephew Lot had also acquired great riches. Can you imagine two wealthy related men sharing the same fields to feed their livestock? You would think that one of them would get upset and tell the other to leave.
Instead of arguing, they came to a compromise. Abram said to his nephew, “You go left and I’ll go right.” What a great act of selflessness and what a great example for us. In our times of blessing we need to be mindful of others. If more people solved their disputes like Abram and Lot, there would be a lot less conflict and tension. Is there a relationship in your life that needs some give-and-take to bring about resolve?
When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he… went in pursuit as far as Dan
Week 3 • Day 3
To appreciate this passage you really need to have a map of Israel handy. Abram is living in the general vicinity of the Negev Desert, which is way in the south of Israel. The text says that he went up as far as Dan to retrieve his nephew. Dan is in the extreme north of the country. It’s actually very close to the modern-day border of Lebanon.
In the previous devotional Abram took the initiative to help Lot… again in this devotional it is Abram who is thinking of Lot. The striking thing about this passage is how far Abram was willing to go to rescue his nephew.
I often wonder how far we would be willing to go to help someone we knew who was living in distress. I don’t mean how far geographically, but would you drop everything and leave your comfort zone to help someone that needed you? Let’s take the attitude of Abram and go the distance.
Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness
Week 3 • Day 4
We need to understand what a big deal it was that Abram just simply believed the Lord. You need to know his background. Jewish tradition teaches that His father was a professional idol maker, and now he is following the God of Israel. Today’s passage tells the story of how Abram believed God for a son in his old age.
In biblical times, having a male heir to inherit your estate was everything. The greatest gift a wife could give her husband was a son to carry on his father’s name. Abram is sad because he has no son. The head servant of his house would be next in line.
So Abram cries out to God and expresses his sadness. God tells him that in his old age he will have a son from his own loins that will be the rightful heir. Now Abram could have scoffed at the idea. He could have looked at his situation and said that there was no way such a thing could happen. But instead… He believed God! What has God promised you? Do you feel too young, too old, too (fill in the blank) for God to accomplish it? Believe God, He can do it.
As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come
Week 3 • Day 5
This is the first passage in which God now refers to Abram as Abraham. Up till now Abraham has been having a challenging personal life. His wife, Sarah, can bear him no son, so he is given one of Sarah’s maidservants and she conceives. Then the wife who gave the maidservant in the first place later becomes jealous and has Abraham cast her away. Can you imagine such a scenario in our present time? It’s a lose-lose situation! His wife was literally telling him to have an affair, so he did, and then she got mad.
The maidservant is crying in the desert when the angel of the Lord finds her and promises her and her son a future. Abraham has yet to have a son by his own wife and God asks him to keep His covenant. The amazing thing is that despite his own personal problems, he chooses to honor God just the same.
When you go through difficult times or when you feel let down, don’t turn from God and His promises; instead, run to Him. He will be there waiting for you.
They will soar on wings like eagles
Week 3 • Day 6
The context of this passage is one of God’s promises to comfort His people. Even though God had delivered His people from the bondage of the Egyptians, Israel really never knew a season of peace. Throughout history until this day, someone is always trying to conquer Israel. I’ve never fully understood the surrounding nations’ obsession with Israel. It is a dry wasteland. Yet over and over again, nations have tried to take it for themselves.
The people had grown weary, they felt like giving up. Then God encouraged His people to not grow weary, but to rise up. Not on their own strength—He would be the very one to lift their heads.
This verse still powerfully applies to us today. Many times in your life you may feel tired, like you just can’t go on. The stresses and responsibilities of life can be overwhelming at times. Stop trying to make it on your own steam. Rest in Him; let Him lift you up. If you trust in Him, you can soar on wings like eagles.
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God
Week 3 • Day 7
Israel continually grumbled and groaned against both Moses and God during their forty years in the wilderness. As we get into the story of the Exodus, you will begin to see just how much they grumbled. It’s amazing that they even made it to the Promised Land. They would get discouraged, and God would provide a miracle. This pattern continued for many years. Even though God provided for them over and over again, they remained dismayed.
Sometimes the constant grumbling evoked the fury of God—He would be pushed to His limits. But other times, like in this passage, He gently and softly assures them of His love and His protection.
What parent among us would not show compassion to our children in their time of need? Those of us who are part of the family of God all share the same loving and faithful Father. Don’t let the worries of this world overcome you, but with God’s help, you can overcome this world and everything it brings against you.
Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord
Week 4 • Day 1
How brave are you when you pray? Are you timid in your prayers or do you have the confidence to ask Him for anything? A pattern begins to emerge as you systematically read through the Torah: God doesn’t seem to have a problem with people challenging and bargaining with Him. What a foreign thought to those of us who don’t come from a Middle Eastern background.
I thought that Abraham was incredibly bold when he spoke up the first time in his request to save the city. But then he just keeps going. I love his catch phrase: “Now that I have been so bold…” What can this teach us about the way we can approach God?
It seems that God was not upset with this bargaining method. However, that doesn’t mean that we can belligerently make selfish requests of God. Look at it from a child-parent relationship perspective. Have you ever seen a small child relentlessly asking her mom or dad for what she wants? He is our Father, we are His children. If we ask… we will receive.
For the LORD was merciful to them
Week 4 • Day 2
I’ve had the opportunity on many occasions to drive by the modern city of Sodom on the west side of the Dead Sea. It’s incredible to imagine what kind of a city was there before God’s judgment came down. Sodom and Gomorrah were utterly destroyed because of their sin. The sin was so great that God decided to rain down burning sulfur on the entire region. By morning there was nothing but rising smoke. In the last few moments before the fire was to begin, Lot hesitated. The angels of the Lord grabbed him by the hand and led Lot and the others to safety out of the city.
What a gracious God He is to those who love Him. How many times has the Lord warned us, either about things in our lives that will lead to sin or situations that might put us in physical or spiritual harm?
To those who oppose Him, He is a God to fear. But to those of us who love Him, He is a God to serve in reverent fear. When He reaches out His hand, take hold of it… it may just save your life.
Then Abimelech brought sheep and cattle
Week 4 • Day 3
Sometimes the Bible contains stories that we just don’t understand. This is one of those stories. So often as Christians, we spiritualize the places and people of the Bible so much that we forget how human some of them really were. Abraham is one of those people. Abraham lied about who Sarah was. He told the king that she was his sister instead of telling King Abimelech the truth. The king took her back to his palace, and during the night God rebuked him for taking Sarah.
The next morning Abimelech confronts Abraham about his lie. Abraham tells the king that he acted out of fear and was trying to protect himself. The king was furious because Abraham’s lie almost cost Abimelech his entire family.
How many times do people tell a lie with the “best of intentions”? In their minds they’re doing it because they wrongly believe that their lie isn’t affecting anyone else. From this story we see that’s just not the case. We need to tell the truth… always.
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water
Week 4 • Day 4
This is a heart-wrenching story. Hagar was the maidservant Sarah had given to Abraham to conceive a child with. Hagar didn’t do anything wrong. She didn’t go against her master’s orders, but in the end she was punished and subsequently banished for her obedience.
Sarah became jealous when Abraham’s affections for the boy became obvious. Much to Abraham’s sorrow, he had to cast both Hagar and the boy Ishmael away. In today’s passage, we find Hagar at the deepest point of desperation. She’s given up all hope and in her mind is preparing herself to die. We can’t imagine the fear that Hagar as a mother was going through in preparing to watch her child die. Then verse 19 comes along, “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.”
The well didn’t magically appear… it had always been there. She couldn’t see it in her despair. When you’re at the height of your desperation, look to God and let Him open your eyes and show you the well of salvation.
On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided
Week 4 • Day 5
Abraham waited a hundred years to have an heir born to him. Any parent who has had difficulty in conceiving a child can relate to the sheer joy that Abraham would have experienced when his wife, Sarah, bore him a son. As was the custom in those days, Abraham would have worked closely with Isaac out in the fields passing on what he had learned to his son. So we can only imagine how difficult it would have been for Abraham to obey the command God was about to give him—it was an incredible act of obedience.
First, God asked Abraham to leave his country and his father and now God was asking Abraham to make the most difficult choice any parent could ever imagine. The Lord told Abraham to sacrifice his son. The incredible part of this story is that the text doesn’t give any indication that Abraham hesitated… he simply obeyed. And in his obedience, God blessed Abraham by providing a substitute sacrifice. When God asks us to do something that seems too much for us to bear, if we act in obedience and with faith God will always provide.
2 Kings 4:3
Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few
Week 4 • Day 6
Have you ever thought about bargaining with God or trying to change His mind? Can such a thing be done? Moses argued with God when he was told to go to Pharaoh. He was trying to sell himself short by saying that he wasn’t a good public speaker. Eventually God agreed to allow Aaron to help. Abraham bargained with God about the number of people necessary to spare the city of Sodom. I was amazed as I read about these stories in the Torah. As Christians we have a whole different understanding of how to approach God.
In this passage, the prophet Elisha tells the widow to go to her neighbors and ask them for jars—but not just a few. During the miracle of self-replenishing oil, the flow stopped because they ran out of jars.
Sometimes we limit God. In our finite way of thinking, we fail to grasp the magnitude of how great God is. Whether your need be small or great today, trust Him to provide.
2 Kings 4:34
Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands
Week 4 • Day 7
Talk about a remarkable story. Talk about an awkward story. Could you imagine this happening today? What would people say or think? The prophet Elisha routinely stayed in a couple’s home while traveling in his ministry. Eventually the couple built a spare room for him. In exchange for their kindness, Elisha offers to return the favor by praying for them. They mention that they have no child. He prophesies that they will have a son within a year. A year passes and they have a son.
The boy dies. In agony the wife runs to the prophet for help. An extraordinary chain of events take place, and the boy is raised from the dead. The striking thing from this passage is the amount of passion that this woman exudes in obtaining a miracle for her son.
God wants us to ask, to really ask! He also wants us to believe. The Scriptures are filled with examples of God answering the prayers of the faithful.
(Sarah) died at Kiriath Arba
Week 5 • Day 1
For any of us who have lost a loved one, we can identify with the profound sadness that Abraham must have gone through at the death of his precious wife, Sarah. We often talk with our spouses about growing old together, and that’s exactly what Abraham and Sarah did. Sarah was 127 years old when she died. They accomplished so much together. She was truly a faithful, committed, and supportive wife who stood by his side.
We can only imagine the magnitude of this loss for Abraham. The passage tells us that he mourned and wept over her. He did everything that a husband from that time period was responsible to do. Because he left his home country and found himself in a foreign land, he went out and purchased a cave for family burial. “Life goes on.” This was even the case in ancient times. Shortly after Sarah’s death, Abraham seeks out a bride for his son, Isaac.
When I lost my dad, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get back to normal. But in reading about Abraham, it’s given me the strength to continue on in what God has called me to do. I pray it will be a source of inspiration for you too.
Do not take my son back there
Week 5 • Day 2
To people of faith, Abraham is always remembered as having been a strong leader and a powerful man of God. What many of us seldom remember is that he was also very human. In today’s passage, Abraham is looking for a bride for his son, Isaac. God’s instructions were clear—that he was to find a wife for his son from his own clan. I’m sure there were plenty of available women where they lived, yet once again we see that Abraham chooses obedience over convenience.
As the father of two children, I understand Abraham’s heart. He wants not just a spouse for his son, but he wants the spouse that God has for him. From the time before our children were even born, my wife and I were praying for the future spouses of our children. Not only am I so happy in my marriage, but I also know that I married the woman that God had for me. I want the same kind of blessing for my children.
Parents, pray for your child’s future spouse. Pray that your child sees past the distractions of this world to the one that God has ordained for him or her.
Take her and go
Week 5 • Day 3
This passage is about ultimate and absolute trust in God. Imagine the story from the perspective of Rebekah’s father, Bethuel. A servant comes into his village and declares that God has sent him to bring back Bethuel’s daughter to marry his master’s son. Bethuel’s response is surprising. Both he and his wife say that this is from the Lord. They agree to the terms of the proposal and send her on her way.
I wonder how we would react if this happened to any of us today. Would we be willing to let our daughter go with someone who seems like a stranger… to give up that control and let God take her to the place He has planned for her?
So maybe a stranger hasn’t shown up asking for your daughter’s hand in marriage, but is there something in your life that you are holding onto and won’t let go of, even though you know God is calling you to let go of it? Is it fear or doubt that holds you back from releasing it to God? If you follow Rebekah’s story all the way through, it worked out pretty well for her. When we act in obedience, we can expect blessing.
He went out to the field one evening to meditate
Week 5 • Day 4
While Abraham was busy planning Isaac’s future for him, Isaac decided to set aside some time and do some praying himself. From previous passages, we know that he has come to fully trust his father. If you’ll remember, when he was a teenager, his father tied him to an altar and was preparing to sacrifice him. And as far as the text goes, Isaac simply complied. So we know that he trusted his father.
Even in an environment of such trust, Isaac still took the time to go out into the fields on his own and seek out God’s will for himself. He could have easily relied on his father’s wisdom in the matter, but because of the magnitude of the decision, he needed to get an answer from God for himself.
Sometimes it seems like everyone and his brother knows what’s best for you. Everyone has an opinion about what you should become, who you should marry, and myriad other things. Don’t dismiss what they say. Take what they say and weigh it against what you feel God is saying to you. Spend time with Him; do what Isaac did… meditate.
Then Abraham breathed his last
Week 5 • Day 5
The Torah is filled with the stories of many great men of God. Seldom do the Scriptures tell us anything about the birth of these men, but when it comes to their deaths we have the full account. For instance, we’re told very little about Abraham. We know his father’s name and where he came from, but that’s about it. As Abraham’s story unfolds, we begin to understand why God chose him.
Abraham’s life is one of trust and faith in his God. Although there are many great men in the Torah, God is always referred to as the God of Abraham. By no means was Abraham a perfect man. All we have to do is read his story to find that out. What we learn from his life is that he totally yielded everything and trusted God with his whole life and every aspect of it… all 175 years of it.
I wonder what people would say about me. I wonder what God would say about me. Would I be a man that He would write about? What about you? Are you more interested in what man would say or what God would say? Let’s follow Abraham’s example and live a life of total devotion to God.
1 Kings 1:6
His father had never rebuked him
Week 5 • Day 6
This is the story of Adonijah, the fourth son of King David. The text implies that he was raised in such a way that he could do whatever he wanted. Adonijah knew that his father was well advanced in years and that he didn’t have much longer to live. It had already been established by solemn proclamation that Solomon would succeed David as king. This news didn’t sit well with Adonijah. So he went out and got chariots and horses and gathered all his supporters and began to make sacrifices to inaugurate himself as king.
Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan got wind of this coup and immediately brought it to the king’s attention. David seems shocked by the news and puts a plan in motion and brings it to an abrupt stop. What a terrible thing for a son to do to his father. Who raised this kid and why didn’t anybody curb this behavior? Verse 6 says that David had never rebuked him by asking him, “Why do you behave as you do?” If you don’t like the way your child is behaving or presenting themselves around others, then don’t be like King David. Make the time to be there for them and lead them in righteousness.
1 Kings 1:30
I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the LORD
Week 5 • Day 7
It’s common knowledge that King Solomon was the wisest man to ever have lived. I’d like to suggest that King David is a very close second. Read about his life and you’ll quickly discover that although he was a great man, he also made a lot of mistakes. But the thing I love about David is that he offers hope for regular people like you and me.
In this passage he’s near the end of his life. The text actually says that he was well advanced in his years. Perhaps it was because he was at this stage of his life that those who were against him sought to take advantage of his physical condition. Even in his old age he’s quick to respond and put a plan into action. Verse 30 is what stood out to me the most in this entire story. It may have been easier for King David to stay in bed and let somebody else deal with a problem, but he had made a promise before the Lord and he would keep it, even if it killed him.
This is why I think David is a close second. He learned early on that it’s better to please God than man.
Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah
Week 6 • Day 1
In ancient times fertility was seen as a blessing from God. The more children you had, the more blessed you were. Childbearing was also interpreted as having the favor of God. So you can imagine that being childless was not only a huge shame in those times, it also caused others to look at you funny and talk about you behind your back. People would wonder why you couldn’t have children.
Was there sin in your life? Did you not pray enough? Or did you marry the wrong person? There were myriad reasons for being barren. Not only was this hugely embarrassing for Isaac, but imagine how it made Rebekah feel. After all, her husband was the son of the great and prolific Abraham.
Wouldn’t his father’s blessing automatically be transferred to his son? It doesn’t work like that in real life, does it? The text says Isaac prayed. A few verses later Rebekah is giving birth to twins. Here’s the catch… twenty years had passed. Sometimes God takes a little longer than we would like to answer prayer. The truth is, He is never late; His timing is perfect.
Reaped a hundredfold
Week 6 • Day 2
Earlier we read about how fertility was a sign of the favor of the Lord. Another way to measure His blessing was by the amount of livestock you had. Still another method was by the size of your harvest from the fields. This passage says that Isaac became so rich that even the mighty Philistines were jealous—so jealous, in fact, that they asked him to leave the area.
Perhaps you’re reading this today and wish you were as rich as Isaac. I’m sure having money is nice, but it’s not without its problems either. Have you ever had either an unexpected blessing or a sudden acquisition of something valuable? One of two things will happen. Those who call themselves your friends will either rejoice with you or become bitter, because in their minds it should have happened to them and not you.
True friends rejoice when their friends succeed. That’s why it is so important to surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, not what you have. So today I pray that God will richly bless you with true friends.
He moved on from there and dug another well
Week 6 • Day 3
Everyone has their own Bible hero, someone they look up to because the biblical character has a certain trait or quality that people either identify with or wish they had. I have to say that Isaac is quickly becoming one of my new heroes. His level of patience is unbelievable. Those who know me would be quick to say that I could use a little more patience in my life when it comes to waiting for something to happen.
I don’t know how I would react if it were me in today’s passage. Isaac’s father, Abraham, had legally and legitimately dug wells for his livestock. Isaac was within his rights to claim and use said wells. Each time he reopened the wells that were legally his, someone opposed him. Sometimes they simply stopped them up by filling them with dirt. Not once, not twice, but this happened on four different occasions.
Excerpted from What Would Jesus Read? by Joe Amaral Copyright © 2012 by Joe Amaral. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
JOE AMARAL is a licensed and ordained minister and travels full-time as a sought after conference and event speaker. Amaral is the host and producer of a weekly television show filmed on location in Israel called First Century Foundations. His close work with the archaeological and religious community in Israel affords him a unique perspective and opportunity to gain special insight into first-century life and culture. Amaral has produced several teaching DVD's on the subject of Hebraic Roots as well as several documentaries about Israel. Amaral continues to travel to Israel on a regular basis to further his studies as well as conducting tours. He lives with his wife, Karen, and family in Ontario, Canada.
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WHAT WOULD JESUS READ? DAILY DEVOTIONS THAT GUIDED THE SAVIOR by Joe Amaral is a religion/devotional. This book is written”dedicated to the Jewish people” and the preserving of the teachings of the Torah. It gives the Christian faith insight into the Jewish roots with 54 weekly readings with a annual total of 378 daily readings. A book that answers the question “What would Jesus read”. A devotional system for modern day Christians featuring old testament scriptures. “This system is still in use today by Jews all over the world.” While,it may not be for everyone, I enjoyed the interesting contrast between the Jewish and Christian faiths. Received for an honest review from the publisher. Details can be found at the FaithWords,a division of Hachette Book Group,Inc, and My Book Addiction and More. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: NONE(Devotional) REVIEWED BY: AprilR, My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews