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May 27th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

II Samuel 12:1-31 / John 16:1-33 / Psalm 119:65-80 / Proverbs 16:4-5

Standout verses:Psalm 119: 66-67, 71, 75“Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments. Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your word. (v. 71) It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statues. (v. 75) I know Lord that Your judgments are right, and that IN FAITHFULNESS You have afflicted me.”

We can be so quick to believe that all afflictions we experience are from the enemy.  However, many times the Lord allows us to experience challenges, trials, pain and afflictions IN ORDER TO DRAW OUR HEARTS TO HIMSELF AND BRING US CLOSE - BACK UNDER THE LOVING & SAFE COVERING OF HIS MIGHTY HAND.

READ ON…

2 Samuel 12: Nathan goes to David and confronts him about his sin with Bathsheba.

David messed up big time and couldn’t even see it. He’d made so many excuses and justified his choices, thoughts and actions so much, he began to believe the lies he’d been crafting.  He’d pushed God so far out of his life, he was blinded to the blatantly obvious situation he was in.  Yes, even David – a man after God’s own heart found himself totally “blocked”…his eyes, ears and heart had turned from God.

Was it Satan who had brought this situation into David’s life causing him to sin? Was this really David’s fault OR was he a victim of the enemy’s cunning plans?

Satan did the tempting with Bathsheba, but it was David that clearly made the CHIOICE to take the bait and act upon it, which lead down the road to adultery, and murder.  IT ALL STARTED WITH DAVID’S ONE CRITICAL CHOICE ON THE ROOFTOP: Identify temptation, turn and run from it OR push God aside, reach out, take it and see where it would lead.  Obviously he chose the latter.

Like the verse above from PSALM 119, it wasn’t God who afflicted David, it wasn’t even Satan – IT WAS DAVID WHO AFFLICTED DAVID BY WAY OF HIS CHOICES.  The Lord allowed what followed because He knew that when David hit rock bottom, his eyes would be opened, his mind and heart would be jolted back into truth.  Sometimes that’s the only way we will listen when we’ve been indulging sin long enough.

Not only is “ROCK BOTTOM” NOT God’s ideal for us – it’s His LAST RESORT.  But, because He loves us so desperately, He will allow us to get to the razor’s edge if it’s the only way we will find Him again, reach out to Him with desperation, and put Him back in the center of our lives.  No matter what we’ve done, God’s heart is to RESTORE and make broken, sinful lives BEAUTIFUL AGAIN!  

Again, thank You Lord that You’ve given us Your Word (what an AMAZING tool!!) so we can LEARN through history and stay close to you.  Help us to become skilled at identifying those “rooftop choices” and quickly turn from sin so we will avoid the pitfalls and anything that seeks to separate us from Your loving arms.

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May 26th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

II Samuel 9:1-11:27 / John 15:1-27 / Psalm 119:49-64 / Proverbs 16:1-3

Standout Story:II Samuel Chapter 11The story of David’s sin against Uriah the Hittite and Bathsheba11:1 - Seek to be where God wants us to be.

David should have been leading his army but found himself home with time on his hands.  His failure to be where he was suppose to be made him vulnerable to sin.11:2-4 - Guard our eyes! The lust of the eyes led to enticement, which led to sin.  WE MUST LEARN TO HATE SIN AND TURN FROM IT, NOT HANG OUT WITH IT HOPING IS WON’T INFLUENCE US.  11:6-27 - Expose sin. Do not attempt to cover it; it will grow if left hidden. David’s sexual sin grew into the sin of murder.  Things we keep in darkness won’t go away, they will grow like a fungus.  Sin can’t just be pushed down and ignored.  In order to be truly free and clean, we must destroy the compartment in which we’ve allowed it to live, shine the light on it and DICISIVELY REMOVE IT ONCE AND FOR ALL. 

The enemy would love us to believe that addressing sin in our lives is a daunting task that can never really work. WE NEED TO IDENTIFY THAT LIE AND KICK IT TO THE CURB!  The TRUTH is, with God’s help, it CAN be done.  The benefits, blessings and good fruit that will grow for the rest of our lives by walking CLEAN and FREE FAR OUTWIEGH the task of initiating the “cleaning process”. 

Let the HOPE of FUTURE FREEDOM AND AMAZING FRUITFULNESS determine today’s necessary confrontations.

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May 25th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

II Samuel 7:1-8:18 / John 14:15-31 / Psalm 119:33-48 / Proverbs 15:33

Standout verses:Psalm 119: 18, 23&24, 27, 32-38“Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law. (v.23) But your servant meditates on Your statutes.  Your testimonies are also my delight and my counselors. (v.27) Teach me Your statutes, make me understand the ways of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works. (v.32) I shall run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.  Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes and I shall keep it to the end.  Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; indeed I shall observe it with my whole heart.  Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.  Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to covetousness.  Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.  Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.”

In these verses, the psalmist is declaring his love and passion for God’s word and truth.  He is proclaiming his desire to know the Lord in a deeper, more intimate way that requires the ACTION of pouring into His word – studying it, learning it, spending time in it.  This kind of heart is one that is after God’s own heart – a heart that is fully His, a whole-hearted devotion that stems from a desire to know Him. 

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you”.  The psalmist is a great example to us of someone who is actually doing that.  He is fully confident in the promises of God - that all other things will be taken care of and provided for by his Father whom he is fully devoted to. 

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May 24th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

II Samuel 4:1-6:23 / John 13:31-14:14 / Psalm 119:17-32 / Proverbs 15:31-32

Standout verse:II Samuel 3:1“Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.”

This transition of power happened over a period of many years. David was faithful and was in no rush to take what was not yet his. God had not yet given him the kingdom even though He had promised it to him. David knew God’s promises to him, but was willing to wait on God’s timing and simply walk faithfully through the preparation process no matter how long it took.

If we haven’t yet been released into what God has promised over our lives, we are simply not ready to walk into that season. GOD HASN’T FORGOTTEN US, HE IS GETTING US READY FOR IT; WE ARE STILL IN THE PROCESS OF BEING PREPARED. This way of thinking frees us from the need to try and make God’s promises over us come to pass according to our own timetable.  That will only bring stress and striving as opposed to peaceful confidence in the Lord.

So, as long as we are in the preparation stage, let’s faithfully embrace it and rest in God’s perfect timing!

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May 23rd deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

II Samuel 2:12-3:39 / John 13:1-30 / Psalm 119:1-16 / Proverbs 15:29-30

Standout Verse:

John13: 14-15

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the “fast food”, American Idol culture we live in.  It’s so easy to become “ME-centric” and preoccupied with self, living as if the world revolves around us.  That is completely opposite to the way God calls us to live.

The greatest commandments are these: LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, SOUL, MIND AND STRENGTH and LOVE YOU NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF.  As Christians, this is our calling.  Jesus demonstrated this when He washed His disciples feet.  He wanted to set a clear example that we should not only love others, we should put that love into action.  We become what we practice and as we continue serving others, we break out of our “cocoons of self”.

“Just as the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many”- Matthew 20:28

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May 22nd deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

II Samuel 1:1-2:11 / John 12:20-50 / Psalm 118:19-29 / Proverbs 15:27-28

Standout Verse:

John 12: 42-43

“Never-the-less, even among the rulers, many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men MORE than the praise of God.”

Although it’s nice to get a pat on the back from time to time for the things we are doing, THE PRAISE OF MAN SHOULD NEVER BECOME A NEED.  Knowing we are hearing from the Lord and doing the things He is calling us to should be enough to keep us fired up and fueled.  Unhealthy reliance on the praises of man will slow us down and hinder the purity of what we’ve been called to do.

There is a major difference between being teachable and seeking counsel (which are both wonderfully essential aspects of living, learning and maturing) and developing an unhealthy reliance on man’s praise/opinion.  A good measuring stick for healthy balance is being able to identify the source of our affirmation/dependence (God or man) and then adjust our hearts accordingly.

When we are primarily listening for the voices of man’s praise it will drown out the voice of the Lord and we will be in danger of getting off track. People’s opinions and praise can be fickle, but the Lord’s affirmation is steadfast and sure – something we can stand on!

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May 21st deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

I Samuel 29:1-31:13 / John 12:1-12:19 / Psalm 118:1-18 / Proverbs 15:24-26

Standout Verse:

1 Samuel 30:6

“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God”.

In this part of David's story things were looking terrible. His entire family as well as the families of his fighting men had been carried off by the Amalekites.  They blamed David for the tragic circumstances and turned against him, ready to stone him.

David had a choice to either focus on the circumstances surrounding what had happened and enter in to defensive arguments with his men, OR focus on the Lord and cry out to Him for help. He chose the later - he strengthened himself in the Lord, asked for a clear word as to what he should do and then set about to do it.

He took time to stir himself in the Lord even in the face of heartache, accusation and being physically tired. The result was that he didn't get caught up in the self-defense game but instead contended for what was his and was able to recover everything just as the Lord had said he would.

Sometimes we need to simply speak the truth to ourselves and allow the Lord to fire us up so we can go about His business without getting caught up or discouraged in the swirling details.  The TRUTH is this:  If our hearts and lives are surrendered to Him, THERE IS NO SITUATION WE WILL FACE THAT IS TOO DIFFICULT FOR GOD.  HE CAN BRING US THROUGH ANY TRIAL, HEARTACHE OR DIFFICULTY AS WE LOOK TO HIM, CRY OUT TO HIM AND OPEN OUR HEARTS TO HIS STRENGTH AND STRATEGIES!  That’s what our God specializes in – we can put unwavering faith in His ways!

Note: This is NOT about the power of positive confession. What David did (and what we need to get consistent in doing) is speaking the TRUTH to situations that look bleak because WE ARE A PEOPLE OF FAITH AND NOT FEAR.  We must learn to strengthen ourselves in the Lord especially in times when the enemy is attempting to destroy us, which lets face it, is all the time.

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May 20th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

I Samuel 26:1-28:25 / John 11:1-57 / Psalm 117:1-2 / Proverbs 15:22-23

Standout Verse:

Proverbs 15:22

“Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”

The saying “you become the company you keep” is so true.  We must make it a priority to surround ourselves with men and women who are seeking the Lord with all their hearts…iron sharpening iron!  How incredible to know that when challenges come, there are comrades around us with maturing faith and life experience who are also hotly pursuing the Lord (as if life depended on it, BECAUSE IT DOES!!!). We will be able to glean their counsel and then take it to the Lord and ask Him to help us decipher the things He is calling us to do.  It is always important to note that as wonderful and refreshing as the counsel of “others” can be, it can also shoot us off in directions the Lord never intended us to go in.  Counsel from people should never replace us seeking the Lord and waiting on Him to lead us into His best for our lives!

Thank You Lord that we don’t have to live alone.  Help us see those people You want us to connect with so we can run this race with good, Godly company! 

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May 19th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

I Samuel 24:1-25:44 / John 10:22-42 / Psalm 116:1-19 / Proverbs 15:20-21

1Samuel 24.   David spares Saul.

This is an account of a bunch of guys who loved David and wanted him to be freed from Saul’s continuous attempts to end his life.  When they saw an easy opportunity for David to do away with Saul, they immediately assumed it was the Lord will and quickly told him (on behalf of the Lord) to go for it.  David secretly cut off the corner of Saul's robe to prove he could have killed him. Afterward, His conscience kicked in and he knew he shouldn't have done what he did.

The fact is that there will always be well meaning people wanting to tell us the Lords will for our lives. However, it's our responsibility to receive counsel and then take it straight to the Lord ourselves BEFORE we rush out and act on it.  Most of the time good counsel will confirm what we're already sensing the Lord's saying and leading us toward OR away from. That's why it's so important to stay close to God, starting our day in the word, TUNING OUR EARS TO HIS VOICE IN A WORLD FULL OF VOICES.

John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me."

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May 18th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

I Samuel 22:1-23:29 / John 10:1-21 / Psalm 115:1-18 / Proverbs 15:18-19

Standout Verse:

I Samuel, Chapters 22 and 23Saul was in hot pursuit of David in order to take his life! God’s hand of protection was upon David each step of the way. At each close call, God provided a way of escape for him. This was a very strange season for David – lots of waiting, hiding out, facing the fear of death, constantly on the move fleeing from Saul’s various assaults. Through it all he continually inquired of the Lord, seeking each "next move" from Him. He was fully dependent and yielded to the Lord’s direction and strategy. Though this season in his life seemed to go on forever, the Lord was drawing his heart closer to Him as he learned to fully rely upon his God to save him. It was abundantly clear to David that the Lord’s providential hand was upon him leading and protecting him step by step.

When we face difficult seasons in our lives that seem to drag on forever, let it tie our hearts closer to the Lord.  He may have us in a season of total dependency on Him for the very purpose of stripping away distractions and getting us used to being close to Him.  And, when our circumstances do change, we will easily continue in that closeness.  

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