May 15 – Defining Moments – David and Bathsheba

Read 2 Samuel 11:1-27

It all started out so innocently. 

There was no intention of sin when King David walked up on his roof one spring evening.  As he glanced out upon his kingdom, something caught his eye.  From the roof top of his palace in Jerusalem, he looked down and saw a beautiful woman bathing.  We all know better than to stick around and take a closer look.  And King David was no different.  In I Samuel 13:14, it says that David was “a man after God’s own heart”.  He was one who historically was obedient to the Lord, even in the craziest circumstances.

This time, David let his guard down.  The warning signs were flashing in his head.  STOP!  Do not take a second look!  She is not yours! However, David ignored the warning signs and. what started out as something innocent, ended up as adultery and murder.

It’s easy for us to read this and be judgmental about David.  He had to know better.  He was a married man; she was a married woman.  His mistake ends up in a plot to cover up his sinful act and, when that plan fails, he takes it a step further and has Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, put in the most dangerous place on the battlefield so that Uriah would end up being killed.

2 Samuel 11 is a section of scripture that should scare each one of us to death.  If King David, a man after God’s own heart, can fail, then we can all fail.

How can we make sure that we do not fall into this same pit that David did?

We must be proactive!

The first thing we all must do is to put up a wall. Keep the enemy out. Make it difficult to fall into temptation. The beginning of 2 Samuel 11 says “in the spring when kings march out to war”.  David sat this one out. He stayed at home and was not where he should have been.  How about you?  Are you visiting websites you shouldn’t?  Taking a second glance?  Reaching out to people of the opposite sex on a social media platform?  Communicating/flirting with someone who is not your spouse?  Staying up late when your spouse is in bed?

Another important part of the construction of your wall is accountability. We need to have people who are willing to ask us the difficult questions and challenge us when needed. These are people who are in the battle with you.  These are individuals who you want in your foxhole during a battle – people who encourage us, not by telling us what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.  The type of people who can peel you back like an onion and see how you are doing inside.  This takes openness and honesty on your part but is oh so vital.

Work on constructing your wall daily by studying the Word of God and spending time in daily prayer.  Make reading the Bible a priority.   Memorize the Word so that, when you are tempted, you have something to encourage you.  Spend time in prayer communicating with God.  Lean on God in times of trouble.

When you are tempted, do not fight alone.  Tell God about it in prayer.  Contact your accountability partners, your battle buddies, and let them fight with you.

If David could fall, we can too.  But if we have the proper boundaries in place, it will be more difficult to fail. 

Be proactive and build your wall!

Nate Mills

May 14 – Defining Moments – Rahab

Read Joshua 2:1-24

Defining moment: a pivotal decision that changes the trajectory of your life and consequently impacts the lives of others, even future generations.

Rahab’s life was a series of defining moments. 

As a harlot in the wicked city of Jericho, she had a revolving door of men. Each time she opened the door to another man, she was faced with a choice. Another knock. Two more men. But this time she stared at a life changing decision, a decision more foreign than the faces of the Israelite spies that stood before her. Rather than her accustomed use and abuse of her body for profit, she made a radical choice to hide and protect the men.

The books of Joshua, James and Hebrews make it clear that this was an act of faith.

Little did she know that defining moment would alter her, her family’s and future generations’ spiritual direction.  As instructed, she tied a scarlet cord in her window, a lifesaving sign that would provide safety for her and her family, if she held to her oath and remained inside the house at the time of the city’s destruction.

About ten days later, the walls of Rahab’s fortified city came tumbling down. And, of all places, her house was on the wall! She was living on the city wall! (Joshua 2:15) Even though destruction and terror rained down around them, Rahab and her family remained in the house, huddled together, waiting in stillness to be rescued, placing all of their hope in the scarlet cord that hung in the window.

Recently, my daughter shared with me a video of a mother eagle protecting her three eaglets from an intruder.  At the alarm of their mother’s screeching, the three dependents took a “dive and cover ” posture, while she spread her wings of protection over them. The triplets didn’t squawk or frantically run around the nest in fear, but stayed perfectly still under her wings until all danger had passed.

Danger, destruction and death hovered all around the city of Jericho as the Israelites invaded, except at Rahab’s house. (see Joshua 6:22,23) It was the only house left standing on the wall unscathed because of being under the protection of God’s wings of refuge.

“Surely he will save you… He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” Psalm 91:3-4

We, too, are under His wings when we accept the scarlet blood of Jesus as our only source of salvation.

That decision is the most defining moment of your life.

Are you placing all of your hope in the sacrificial blood of Jesus?

Are you still and quiet, seeking refuge under His wings? Or are you living in fear and terror because of the destruction you see all around? Claim the words to the familiar hymn, Under His Wings:

“Under His wings I am safely abiding;

Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,

Still I can trust Him- I know He will keep me,

He has redeemed me and I am His child.”

Rahab’s defining moment secured her as God’s child. It changed not only her life, but later in Scripture we learn that she became the great grandmother of King David and, more importantly, part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ!

In spite of her immoral past, her stained life was cleansed. Rahab experienced safety, security, and salvation the moment she chose scarlet. You can too.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood.”

Ephesians 1:7

Charline Engle

May 13 – Defining Moments – Moses

Read Exodus 3:1-4:31

About 6 years ago, my granddaughter, Kalie, chose quilting for her 4-H project.  Since neither she nor her mother could sew, I was elected to be her helper and, since my sister had experience with quilt making, the project soon became a “family affair”.  

Throughout the project, Kalie and I often expressed frustration when we made a mistake, if a seam wasn’t perfectly straight or if the fabric was cut a little crooked. But time and time again, my sister would assure us that it would all work out in the end.  And she was correct!  Once it was all put together, the mistakes and imperfections seemed to disappear into the overall design.

After one quilt, Kalie moved on to other interests, but I had fallen in love with quilt making! I love seeing how the random scraps of fabric can be pieced together to make beautiful designs, often ones I had never envisioned in the beginning.          

That is what happened to Moses. 

There is no doubt that God had had His hand on Moses’ life from the beginning. He had escaped certain death at the hand of the pharaoh by being plucked out of the river by none other than the pharaoh’s own daughter! Then it just so happened he was returned to the arms of his very own mother to be nursed and raised in the knowledge of God. God continued to protect him throughout the rest of his life until finally Moses came face to face with God at the burning bush! 

That was the defining moment for Moses!

The pieces of his life were being put together into a powerful “quilt” to free God’s people from bondage and God was ready to reveal it to him.  

Like Kalie and I, Moses wasn’t so sure that the plan was going to work.  He wasn’t a good speaker.  What if they didn’t listen to him?  Who should he say sent him?  Moses was looking at all the crooked seams and not the big picture that God saw.  But God was ready for him with assurance that it would all work out!

Do you know what God’s plan is for your life?  Does His plan match yours?  What are the random pieces of your life that God is putting together in His design for you?  Are you resisting like Moses and pointing out every flaw and fear you might have? Or are you trusting that whatever it is He wants you to do, He will also equip you with skills and hidden talents, even some you never knew you had? 

What will your life quilt look like?

Will it include singing, teaching, praying, writing, speaking out for God, volunteering, cooking, talking to your neighbor, holding the hand of someone who is hurting, or possibly the ministry?

Are you ready to answer His call for your life? 

Are you stepping forward saying, “I am here Lord, use me?”

Pat Arnold

May 12 – Defining Moments – Jacob

Read Genesis 32:22-32

Have you ever been touched by God?  I was recently in a bizarre car accident that could’ve killed me. But God protected me. The accident resulted in two hip replacements and my kneecap that was broken in 8 places. I find it difficult to actually know if God touched me or if this is just something that happened by chance (see Ecclesiastes 9:11).

I do not think it was chance. I can’t prove it. But I have recovered from all of that and have been blessed by God.

Your two hips are pretty durable. You probably know somebody who has arthritis of the hip. They can’t walk very well and they limp. They need a walker or a cane or a wheelchair to get around and can’t run around. Arthritis is one of the most common causes of pain in the hip today.

Jacob was a man who probably did not have arthritis. But he was touched by God. But not in a way that we may think that God touches someone. Jacob was touched and he never walked the same again. He limped but he also thrived. To thrive today means to lose yourself and follow the upside down kingdom of Jesus Christ. You have the opportunity to thrive every day by following Jesus Christ, despite pain such as arthritis and other events that can knock you down.

Jacob was a man who wrestled with God, who took the form of an angel. Jacob must have been a strong wrestler because this angel could not overpower him. So, God, in the form of an angel, disabled his hip.

Perhaps the angel was able to defeat Jacob, but his goal was not to defeat him but to bless him.

Have you been blessed in a similar way?

We wrestle against the desires of the flesh, against sin and the influences of the world, so this passage of scripture (v 22-32) is something that we can all relate to. God wrestled with Jacob in order to transform him, to bring him to a place of submission so that Jacob could no longer run from his problems.

What challenges are you walking through currently? Do you believe that God can use it for His glory? Maybe when you get knocked down – that is an opportunity that God has given you to thrive and change perspective. You get knocked down. Get up. You’re still standing! (Psalm 40:2).

Tom Weckesser

May 11 – Defining Moments – Abraham

Read Genesis 12:1-20

Here is a man, who is well in his years and probably established in his hometown with his wife and an occupation. Seemingly, out of nowhere, He is asked by the Lord to move somewhere that the Lord is going to wait to tell him where.

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”

Here is Abram, a follower of God Almighty who has this trust relationship and he is asked to leave all he knows behind him, all he has claimed to be and is.

How would you respond?

Do you think you would freak out? Go? Stay calm? Ask a ton of questions?

Being completely transparent, I would freak out and ask a ton of questions. That’s my MO. I am a high communicator and a Type A planner. So, my flesh does not do well with “the unknown”.

Does anyone do well with the unknown?

There is a defining moment in this story. It’s not when the Lord commands Abram to get up and go and explains the promises to Abram and his family. The defining moment is in verse 4;

“So, Abram went, as the Lord had told him…”

I remember so many times in my walk with the Lord where He asked me to trust Him without seeing the “where” or the “why” and the “how”.

I am living in that moment now.

As I am writing this, I am sitting in the hospital with Jake, my husband. Some medical things have taken place that need all the attention, monitoring and answers. Just this morning, a close friend asked me how I was doing. My reply was that I feel like my faith is being tested and that I am in a constant state of striving for surrender and trusting that the Lord sees it all.

James 1 continues to replay in my heart and mind:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

“Consider it all joy” … joy, the testing of our faith. Do you know why God would want me to consider this joy? Well, my definition of joy is “God not only knows about our problems but cares about them”. So, in this, speaking of considering this testing to be joyous is knowing that I can trust in the God who sees my unknown.

He sees it, allows it and has much bigger plans for it than I could ever imagine.

Abram’s defining moment was trusting in the Lord to know what was to come and walk in a trust exchange. This wouldn’t be the first time the Lord tests Abram’s faith, it wouldn’t be the last time Abraham had to walk in complete surrender, knowing that the Lord sees what is to come and just lean on Him.

Where would you say your faith is in these defining moments? Do you cling to the Lord? Do you question the happenings?

Do you surrender, joyously?

Kelly Lawson

May 10 – Defining Moments – Enoch & Noah

Read Genesis 5:1-32

“LeBron, Tebow, Adel, Brady”.

Just say the name and everyone knows who you are talking about. Their talents have made them household names. That is great for the here and now, but what about eternity?

In the Bible, there are 2 names of men whose fame isn’t because of anything they could do but who they listened to.

Enoch was a man in the direct ancestral line from Adam to Jesus.   His name is hidden in a long list of “begats.”  So and so begat so and so; he lived “x” number of years AND THEN HE DIED! Over and over the same thing is said of generation after generation of men.    

Then there is Enoch.  

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

What?  He didn’t die?  God took him away?   In Hebrews 11:5-6 we read:

“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”

So, out of all of the people on Earth at the time, Enoch was chosen by God to not die but to be taken away. 

What did he do?  Did he have some hidden talent?

No! He walked faithfully with God.  He spent quality time with God…. he heard God’s still small voice and did what God wanted him to do.

Enoch’s great grandson, Noah, was a friend of God’s also. Even though Enoch wasn’t around when Noah was born, surely Noah had been told about his great-grandfather and how he had “walked with God”.

What a legacy Noah was given!  We can only guess how much harassment Noah faced as he set about building a huge boat for years! But Noah’s mind wasn’t focused on what was going on around him, he was focused on God and what HE commanded Noah to do. 

You may not ever be able to shoot 3-pointers in a basketball game or stand center stage before an adoring crowd, but you can be like Enoch and Noah by walking and talking WITH God, not ignoring and talking AT God.

The refrain of an old hymn goes like this:

He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own,

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

Do you walk with God?  Are your thoughts His thoughts?

Are the words that come out of your mouth His words?

Are your actions for His glory instead of yours?

What example are you setting for your children and grandchildren?  Is God only on your mind and lips when you are in trouble or at church?  Do you walk with Him daily, delighting in His company and He in yours?

There is no time like the present to be in His presence. 

Pat Arnold

May 9 – Defining Moments – Cain & Abel

Read Genesis 4:1-26

When Cain killed Abel in Genesis 4, the story was captured for all of history to see the depressed spirit of Cain’s behavior as he responded in comparison to his brother starting with their offerings to God.  The comparison struggle is real for many people, and I once heard Pastor Nick say (when talking about social media), that “comparison is the thief of joy”.  The human element of the tension felt from comparison can lead to dark places and, unfortunately for Cain, one could say that his defining moment was when he killed his brother.  However, I think it is something different that can be described as “prominence vs. significance” (something I once heard a guy named Doug say).

He described it like this: Prominence does not equal significance, but, for many people, they think it does.  Discovering what is significant for God is often confused by our desire to do something for Him that is prominent.  This can be especially damaging, if we fall for this trap, when we consider our relationship with God.

When you consider Genesis 4, Cain’s offering to God is indeed significant. For starters, Cain gave an offering to God (4:3), and it can be inferred that what he brought was part of the “first” from his crop (4:4).  That fact alone bears much significance in that, for followers of God, to give is to sacrifice, and to give from the “first fruits” (Prov 3:9) is honoring to God.  However, as the Bible describes, God had “no regard” (4:4 NASV) for Cain’s offering in comparison to the kind of offering that Abel brought forth. Was Abel’s offering more pleasing to God due to the cost of meat instead of the cost of vegetables? One could think, “Hey, lamb chops are more expensive than carrots so I can see why God is unimpressed by Cain’s offering.”  We see what is prominent, the monetary value. 

However, the significance is a matter of the heart.

To better understand this idea, don’t miss the “and” in Gen 4:5:

“Abel, on his part, also brought the firstlings of his flock and their fat portions”.

Abel’s offering was an offering of significance that was pleasing to God as it reflected the heart (indicated by bringing the extra fat as an offering too). It reminds me of when Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees (Mat 9:13) and tells them, “Go and learn the meaning of this, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ (NIV).

A defining moment for me personally, was when I discovered God’s desire for my significance to be deeply connected as the result of His work in my heart.  It was only then, when I began to realize that what I bring to Him (whether offering, worship, or work) is not valued by the prominence measured by people, but by significance defined by Him.

What about you? What does your struggle with comparison look like? In what way do you need to zero into the work God is doing in your life and allow that to be enough?

What do you need to release to Him in this moment?

Joe Rubino 

May 8 – The God Who Comes Through – He Dwells Among Us

Read Exodus 40:1-38

The God who comes through is also One who shows up!

His glorious presence was something that Moses yearned for at a crossroads in the Exodus experience. He pleaded with God, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Ex. 33:15). It could be argued that there is nowhere that any of us can go where God is not present. After all, God is always and everywhere present in this world (Ps. 139:1-6). We refer to this as His “omnipresence.” But Moses was calling for that and more. He yearned for God’s revealed and directive presence that assured him he was not on his own.

The tabernacle served as an expression of that. It was a sort of portable, pop-up tent in which God manifested His glory and from which a cloud would rise to lead God’s people. Surrounding the tabernacle was an outer courtyard. Inside, the tabernacle was comprised of two sections; each with its own objects and symbolism. There was the Holy Place. And then, further inside was the Most Holy Place, into which only the high priest could enter once a year to offer sacrifices for himself and for the people (Heb. 9:7). It was there that God’s presence resided and His glory was revealed. It was also from the temple that the cloud would rise to lead the people onward.

The tabernacle is an important part of both the Old and New Testament.

  1. It was a tangible, earthly depiction of heavenly realities fulfilled with Jesus as our sacrifice and High Priest (Heb. 9:23-28).
  2. Its blueprint helped in the future design of the more permanent temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6-9).
  3. The temple curtain was torn without human help at the time of the crucifixion (Matt. 27:51) indicating humanity’s access to God through the sacrificial, atoning death of Jesus.

But for believers in Jesus, there is one more important symbolism of the temple. It is the fact that the God Who comes through now lives in you! You have become the temple of the living God as the Holy Spirit resides in you (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).

As His temple, you and I should choose to glorify God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20). This includes issues of addiction to sexual expression. In what ways do you glorify Him? In what ways do you need to make changes?

Keep in mind…the God who comes through not only shows up. He chooses to live in His children.

Steve Kern

May 7: The God Who Comes Through – He reveals His glory and transforms His people

Read Exodus 34:29-35 (cf 2 Cor 3:12-18)

Going back to school in the midst of a pandemic is tough.  I had been volunteering and subbing in a school since my retirement 8 years ago, so I knew many of the students who attended there.  We had talked, laughed, hugged and learned together throughout the years.  However, when I was required to wear a mask, my greetings were met with lots of quizzical looks as they searched their memories to recognize me, using only my eyes for clues. We could talk thorough the masks, but it wasn’t until I slipped the mask down and said, “It’s me!”  that the lights of recognition and smiles returned to their faces.

For so many years, Moses had talked to God.  He had seen His miraculous power.  He had followed God’s direction and God had heard his pleas.  But it was when God removed the mask and revealed His full glory that Moses was so filled with His glory that his face actually glowed!  It glowed so much that the other people were afraid.  Moses put a veil over his face until he was once again in the presence of God in the tabernacle.

Being in the presence of God was deemed to be way too much for any normal person and even the priests needed to stay behind a veil that separated the holy of holies within the tabernacle.

But that veil, that separated the normal people from God, was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross, giving you and me full access to God Himself. We are God’s children and, as such, we can boldly approach Him with our prayers, requests and thanksgiving. He is never too busy to chat with us. Being able to talk directly to God gives us comfort and strength. Through His guidance, anything is possible.

Our great nation was formed through His guidance.  The Pilgrims left the comfort of their homeland to sail across the ocean to an unknown land for the right to worship Him. 

Through His guidance, a small fledgling group of states dared to challenge the powerful English military to build a country whose motto is “In God We Trust.” Through His guidance that same country has been the beacon of life and liberty to the rest of the world!

When God reveals Himself, He can empower the meek. He can bring hope to the injured.  He can comfort the lonely and frightened. He can bring healing to the sick. We just need to be bold enough to ask.

Do you recognize God when He speaks to you? Or are you still seeing Him through a mask of doubt?  Maybe you need to pull down your mask and say,” Hey, God!  It’s me! Can we talk?”

Trust me – you will never be the same!

Pat Arnold

May 6: The God Who Comes Through – He keeps His covenant

Read Exodus 32:1-35

In a conversation I had last week, a friend said something that got me thinking. She said, “Sometimes I try so hard to manipulate my circumstances so that, in the end, things turn out the way I think is best.” I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of living like this. So often, we carelessly throw God’s plans and promises for our lives out the window. We think we know what is best for ourselves and will do just about anything to try and make sure things end up that way. This issue is not unique to us today. In fact, there’s a story recorded in Exodus 32:1-35 where we see God’s people manipulate their circumstances and even break their covenant with God, in order to get what they want.

Moses was leading the Israelites at the time this story took place. The Israelites were settled near Mt. Sinai and there was a period of 40 days where God called Moses up onto the mountain to meet with Him. While Moses was up on the mountain meeting with God, the Israelites grew impatient and questioned where their leader was. They wanted to keep moving on to the land God had promised them and Moses was taking too long! So, they asked Moses’s brother, Aaron, to make them gods who would go before them and lead them. Aaron listened to the people and created a god for them, an idol made out of gold. In creating this idol, the people broke their covenant with God by disobeying His commandment given to them in Exodus 20:4. They manipulated their circumstances by taking the control that belonged to God.

In Exodus 32:10, God responds to what His people have done. He said to Moses, “Leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” Because God is just, righteous, and holy, disobedience angers Him. In His power, He could have wiped the Israelites out right away. But, there is a beautiful truth about God that is put on display in this story. While the Israelites sought their own favor, Moses sought the favor of God and, in faith, asked Him to turn from His anger. Verse 14 says, “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” Even though God’s people deliberately broke their covenant with Him, He does not break His covenant with them.

The same God keeps His promises to us today. His promises for us can be found in His Word. Even though we continually try and take control from Him, He will never cut off His promises to us. We don’t deserve the kind of faithfulness He shows us, but that is why we can praise Him for who He is.

Sidney Rupp