As I read I Samuel 1 I was intrigued by Hannah’s husband, Elkanah. He lived when having two wives was permitted and he did—even though having two wives was never wise! He was faithful to worship God. Elkanah loved Hannah. He comforted his barren wife, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” He also gave Hannah freedom to make a lot of choices usually reserved for the husband in that culture. When she gave birth to Samuel, he even allowed her to give him to the Lord—thus depriving Elkanah of raising his firstborn son.

Today I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Manoah in Judges 13. Unlike so many other Biblical angelic visits and miraculous conceptions, both Manoah and his wife believed without hesitation. Manoah just wanted more information from the angel about how to raise Samson. When the angel returns, he patiently waits for Manoah’s wife to find Manoah. Manoah asks the angel’s name and the angel says “It is beyond understanding” or too wonderful to grasp the full meaning of it. The name of God—so awesome! Then, realizing he has seen God, Manoah panics, but his wife reasons with him.

I knew about Caleb. I knew about Othniel. I did not know Othniel was Caleb’s younger brother (Judges 3:9-11). The influence of Caleb following God wholeheartedly made a difference in Othniel being used of God as the first leader after Joshua died and the first judge of Israel who led them in victory over Moab and in peace for forty years. But spiritual influence is not enough alone. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him to position as Israel’s judge and war leader. Sometimes the Holy Spirit calls us to war because war is often the means to peace.

Caleb was 40 when God sent him and 11 other spies to check out Canaan. Caleb and Joshua believed God could give them the land. The others spread a bad report and discouraged Israel. Caleb and Joshua spent the next 40 years in the wilderness waiting for that generation to pass away. Caleb did not get bitter. An old man of 85 years, Caleb still wants to possess the land Moses had promised to him. And he does. Our Bibles tell us Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly. For 45 years Caleb kept his heart on God patiently waiting. Amazing.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone.” The ruler didn’t recognize Jesus as God or that you can’t become good by doing some good things. He wanted to get to heaven by checking off his “to do” list. Jesus called him to put everything into following Him. The only One who was good laid down His life on Good Friday to restore us to God not because we are good, but because we are sinners.

I’m reading in Deuteronomy 24 and the surrounding chapters. I’m always impressed by how much concern God demonstrated for the poor, the orphan and widow, the needy, and the victims of all kinds of injustice. God also demonstrates his concern that the needy do not take unfair advantage of others. For example, if I was hungry, I could eat some grapes from your vineyard, but I could not gather any to take home with me. We live in such a “winners and losers” culture. God desires a culture where people work together to help everyone win.

God caused the Israelites to hunger and then gave them manna to teach them to hunger for God and rely on God’s provision and to teach them to obey Him. Deuteronomy 8. I’m not too sure what to make of all the world is going through now, but I know God wants us to trust in Him for provision and to be obedient to Him. Neither of those are easy or natural to do, but they are well worth doing! Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

In the healing of the paralytic man, there is an intriguing phrase in Luke 5:17—“And the power of the Lord was present for [Jesus] to heal the sick.” Even Jesus needed the power of the Lord to be present in order to heal the sick. I’m reminded of Mark 6:5 where Jesus could do no miracles except heal a few sick people. The Pharisees and teachers of the law missed out because they only came to find fault with Jesus. May the power of the Lord be present among us and may we be ready to receive it.

The last couple days have been filled with thoughtful emotion as the old church has been demolished. It was so wonderfully built—and strong! The detail in the craftsmanship you rarely find today. The boy in me that loves demolition was excited one moment and the next moment grieving over the arched window above the doorway that no one would take time to build today. You think of the Sunday school lessons taught, the Word of God preached, the people that were saved and nurtured in the faith in that building. Those are the things that remain for eternity.

II Peter 1:3-8 is encouraging and challenging. First, everything we need for life and godliness has been provided by God’s power. It is available; we must access it. Second, because God has made godliness possible, we are to work hard at adding challenging characteristics to our life—faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Third, we are told the result of this hard work is that our knowledge of Christ will not be wasted. To be productive as a Christian is a joint effort—God’s provision and our choice to put it on and walk in it.