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DAILY RENEWAL – NEEDED: A SIMPLE APOLOGY AND JUSTICE

DAILY RENEWAL – NEEDED: A SIMPLE APOLOGY AND JUSTICE

Scripture of the Day || December 14th, 2017

The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout  the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What about this awful crime that was committed among you? Now turn those wicked men of Gibeah over to us so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel.”

But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites. At once the Benjamites mobilized twenty-six thousand swordsmen from their towns…

Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand swordsmen, all of them fit for battle…The Benjamites came out and cut down twenty-two thousand Israelites on the battlefield that day….

Then the Israelites drew near to Benjamin the second day…The Benjamites came out of Gibeah to oppose them, they cut down another eighteen thousand Israelites.

Then all the Israelites…sat weeping before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening and presented fellowship offerings to the LORD…They asked, “Shall we go up again to fight the Israelites, or not? The LORD responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.”…The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel, and on that day, the Israelites struck down 25,100 Benjamites…They surrounded the Benjamites…eighteen thousand Benjamites fell, all of them valiant fighters…On that day, twenty-five thousand Benjamite swordsmen fell…The men of Israel went back to Benjamin and put all the towns to the sword…All the towns they came across they set on fire.

Judges 20:12-48.

A small group of wicked men from Gibeah raped an Israelite woman to death. Such an abominable thing had never been done in Israel since they entered the Promised Land. The perpetrators were from the tribe of Benjamin and the rest of the Israelites approached the Benjamites to hand them over but they refused.They chose to fight in their defense. In the process, thousands of lives were lost on both sides and the Benjamites lost all their cities including their families and livestock. Their cities were set on fire.  

Could the sorry have ended differently? I believe it could have!

How about if the Benjamites had apologized to their fellow Israelites and allowed justice to prevail? How about if they had handed over the guilty men so they could face justice for their crimes? Was it worth losing thousands of lives in defense of wickedness, sin and injustice?

What in the world drove the Benjamites to act the way they did? I believe they acted out of pride! They were unwilling to accept the wrong done by their fellow tribesmen. They were unwilling to say, “We are sorry.” They dug in their heels and went to war in defense of sin!

Sadly, the behavior of the Benjamites is a rather common human act. Many times we feel too proud to acknowledge that we are wrong. We would rather go to war than accept our faults and make amends. Instead of a simple apology and acceptance of our faults, we wage war in our marriages, relationships, families, workplaces, churches. This is all the result of pride.

Would you take a moment to deeply reflect over this? Let’s be humble to say, “I am sorry” when needed and not hesitate to make the necessary amend. It will save us from all kinds of wars!

Prayer: Lord, please give me the grace to accept my faults and to apologize when wrong. Amen

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DAILY RENEWAL – THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

DAILY RENEWAL – THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

Scripture of the Day || December 13th, 2017

In those days, Israel had no king.

Now a Levite…took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah…she left him and went back to her parents’ home  in Bethlehem. After she had been there for four months, her husband went to persuade her to return…

Then when the man, with his concubine and his servant, got up to leave, his father-in-law, the woman’s father said… “Spend the night here, the day is almost over”…

But unwilling to stay another night, the man left…When they were near Jebus (Jerusalem) and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, “Come, let’s stop at this city… That evening, an old man from the Hill Country of Ephraim…came in from his work in the fields… “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said, “Let me supply whatever you need.”…So he took them into his house…

While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him. The owner of the house went outside and said to them. “No my friends, don’t be so vile”…

But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn, they let her go…

When the master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house…there lay his concubine…He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.

When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine…and sent them into all areas of Israel. Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, “Such a thing has never been seen or done…Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!”

Judges 19:1-30.

 In those days, Israel had no king. The absence of a king meant that by and large, lawlessness prevailed because everyone did as they saw fit. The Israelites had rejected the word of God over their lives and were worshipping other gods and following the vile practices of the Canaanites. It was only a matter of time before the unthinkable surfaced. No wonder the Israelites shockingly responded, “Such a thing has never been seen or done…Just imagine. We must do something! So speak up!”

This incident, as vile as it is, would probably not raise eyebrows in our society. If CNN or Fox News reported it, it would be seen as one more wicked act in a deteriorating society. But this happened thousands of years ago. So, there is nothing new under the sun! The wickedness of the human heart is only restrained when God is allowed to rule society through godly leadership. When there is no godly king, everyone does what is fit in their own eyes and vile things become the norm. The rulership of God through His word is the only restraint against moral degeneration. As the Israelites said, “We must do something. So speak up!

Prayer: Father, without your rulership, the decadence of society would be unfathomable. Please help me to “do something” by my living authentically for you and sharing the Gospel. Amen.

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DAILY RENEWAL – BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD

DAILY RENEWAL – BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD

Scripture of the Day || December 11th, 2017

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!…

The LORD of Heaven’s armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress…

“Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

The LORD of Heaven’s armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.

Psalm 46

What assuring words!

In the midst of trouble and chaos when mountains are crumbling and falling into the sea; when the oceans roar and foam; when the mountains tremble and the waters surge, the Psalmist says we can still have peace in our souls!

Why such peace in the midst of turmoil?

Because God is our refuge and strength! God is always ready to help us in times of trouble!

With that assurance, God says, “Be still and know that I am God!”

Whatever your situation may be today, remember that the LORD of Heaven’s armies is your fortress so you can be still even in the midst of turmoil and chaos.

If you remain still before God, He will calm the raging waters around you. He will breathe peace into your situation. You will know that He is God.

May the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding overshadow you today. May the God of all Comfort encourage and sustain you today. Be still and know that He is God.

Prayer: LORD, please help me to be still and know that you are God. Amen.

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DAILY RENEWAL – THE UNFATHOMABLE GRACE OF GOD

DAILY RENEWAL – THE UNFATHOMABLE GRACE OF GOD

Scripture of the Day || December 10th, 2017

But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon, their god, and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”…While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison and he performed for them.

When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there…

Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with just one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars…bracing himself against them…he pushed with all his might and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than when he lived.

Judges 16:22-30.

Samson violated the terms of God’s covenant with him as a Nazirite. He told Delilah the secret of his strength, resulting in the shaving of his hair and the subsequent loss of his strength. God left him and he became as weak as any other man. His eyes were gouged out and he was thrown into prison to grind grain. The enemies of God were mocking the servant of God.

God left Samson but the grace of God was not removed from him. The Bible says, “the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” The unshaved hair was the sign of the Nazirite covenant. Graciously, God allowed Samson’s hair to grow again, and with it, there was a restoration of his strength. Even after violating the rules because of his reckless lifestyle, God was gracious to Samson. God heard Samson’s plea and strengthened him to take revenge on the Philistines: “he killed many more when he died than when he lived.” Samson knew that he had displeased God and he pleaded in prayer for God to remember him one more time and God did.

Even in our most sinful state, the grace of God never leaves us. God is never interested in our destruction. He is willing to restore and strengthen when we plead with Him for forgiveness. We can’t escape the consequences of our sinful choices; but the grace of God always abounds to us even in the midst of those consequences. Where sin abounds, grace abounds the more.

No matter what bad choices you may have made in life; and no matter what devastating consequences you may be dealing with, the grace of God is available to restore and strengthen you. If we genuinely cry out to God, He will hear our plea. Don’t allow your past to shackle you. Cry out to the God of all grace and He will graciously restore you. God’s grace is unfathomable.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for your grace. I ask for strength and restoration to pursue your purposes for my life. Amen.

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DAILY RENEWAL – ACKNOWLEDGE AND DEAL WITH YOUR “DELILAH”

DAILY RENEWAL – ACKNOWLEDGE AND DEAL WITH YOUR “DELILAH”

Scripture of the Day || December 9th, 2017

Sometime later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so that we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued”….“All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me”…

With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.

So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head…because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man”…

After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair…and his strength left him. Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza.

Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.

Judges 16:4-20

Samson had a noticeable weakness; women. His eventual downfall was the result of that weakness. Samson recklessly pursued love in all the wrong places until Delilah finally brought him down.

The account is rather chilling! Samson skirted around the secret of his strength but Delilah was a woman on a mission. The Bible says, “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death. So he told her everything.” Delilah had Samson’s hair shaved for the first time in his life and with it, his strength was gone! This incident is followed by one of the most chilling statements in the Bible, “I’ll go out and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.”  God’s anointing is never at our beck and call!

Like Samson, we each have a divine assignment. There are many “Delilahs” that seek to derail us by enticing us to compromise on our relationship with God through unrighteous behavior. Satan’s goal is to relentlessly come at us with our “Delilah” until he derails us. Don’t be ignorant of his devices. Samson’s Delilah landed him in shackles with his eyes gouged out; grinding grain in prison. That was not God’s intended end for that anointed Judge of Israel.

Your “Delilah” is whatever weakness entices you to go against the clear expectations of God. It could be greed. It could be pride. It could be money. It could be sexual compromise. No one is exempt from it. But, the grace of God is sufficient to help us deal with every “Delilah” in our lives. Acknowledge and deal with your “Delilah” before it brings you down. It will save you from a lot!

Prayer: Lord, I acknowledge that there are areas of weakness in my life. Please help me to deal with them so that my life will not be derailed from your set purposes. Amen.   

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DAILY RENEWAL – GOD WILL QUENCH YOUR THIRST

DAILY RENEWAL – GOD WILL QUENCH YOUR THIRST

Scripture of the Day || December 8th, 2017

Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.”

When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.

Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, “You have given your servant this great victory! Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?”

Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it.

When Samson drank, his strength returned and he was revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

Judges 15:16-19.

Samson had just accomplished an astonishing feat: killing a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey. He did this under the anointing of the Spirit of God as part of his divine assignment of defeating the Philistines who were oppressing the Israelites. But Samson was thirsty after that great victory. He faced the possibility of dying from thirst because there was no water to drink. So: Was Samson going to die of thirst?

Samson cried out to the LORD, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?”

God performed a miracle. He instantly created a spring to quench Samson’s thirst. God did not leave Samson to die of thirst after using him so mightily against the enemies of Israel.

The Bible declares in 2 Chronicles 16:9 that, “ the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” God never abandons His children. When God puts you on an assignment. He will not only ensure that you are completely victorious, but He will also ensure that He takes care of your personal needs including quenching your thirst. God will create a spring to ensure that you have water to drink. God cares deeply about your personal needs.

The Enemy would want us to believe that God does not really care about our personal well-being. He wants us to believe that God will only use and abandon us. He wants us to believe that serving God is not worth it. He wants us to believe that we will die of thirst right in the midst of God’s service. But that is far from the truth. God will quench whatever thirst you have even if it means creating a spring just for you! He did it for Samson. He will do it for you.

Don’t be afraid as you serve the Lord. He will not abandon you. God is fiercely loyal to those He sends on assignment. He knows all about your deepest personal needs. He will take care of you.

Prayer: Father, I am yours and yours alone. I am faithfully fulfilling your calling upon my life. Thank you for the assurance that you will take care of my personal needs. Amen.

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DAILY RENEWAL – BE EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT

DAILY RENEWAL – BE EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT

Scripture of the Day || December 7th, 2017

The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?” “We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.”

Then three thousand men from Judah went down…and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us?… We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.” Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.”

“Agreed,” they answered, “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. As they approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him, shouting.

The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.  

Judges 15:9-15

God is in absolute control of all the happenings on earth. The past, present and future are all divinely orchestrated. The Bible says not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God’s knowledge and God knows the number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10). David also reminds us that all the days of our lives have been ordained by God before they come to be (Psalm 139). Your life as a child of God has been divinely fashioned and God’s desire is that you allow Him to orchestrate it to accomplish His purposes. There is a divine purpose for your existence. We see this clearly manifested in the life of Samson.

God’s design for Samson’s life, as the angel of the LORD informed his mother, was that , “he will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” From birth to death, this was to be Samson’s purpose in life. All that Samson did in life, good and bad seemed to be centered around this one objective: deliverance from the Philistines.

Samson had supernatural strength because of the empowerment of the Spirit of God. Every time Samson did something remarkable, we are reminded that, “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him.”  The Spirit of God always came upon him for the task at hand.

Using the jawbone of a donkey to kill a thousand men is nothing short of extraordinary; but behind that feat is the divine workings of God’s Spirit. The Spirit’s empowering presence caused the ropes with which Samson had been tied to fall like charred flax. The Spirit’s empowerment caused the jawbone of a donkey to become a lethal weapon that killed a thousand men.

Your life has divine orchestration behind it. With the empowerment of the Spirit, everything that the Enemy seeks to tie you down with can fall off like charred flax and with the simple jawbone of a donkey, you can decimate a thousand adversaries. You can tear up any lion that attacks.

May you and I not live in anxiety because we have a thousand Philistines shouting to take us down. But may we rise up in the power of God’s Spirit to decimate the Enemy and fulfill our God-given purposes. Be empowered by the Spirit.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, please empower me to fulfill the purpose for which the Father created me.

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DAILY RENEWAL – MAY THE LORD STIR  US UP

DAILY RENEWAL – MAY THE LORD STIR US UP

Scripture of the Day || December 6th, 2017

The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him…

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a  Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” …

Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart  with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done…

Judges 13:24-14:6.

Samson’s birth was divinely ordained. His parents were given careful instructions about his upbringing. The angel of the LORD said to Samson’s mother that the child was “dedicated to God from the womb.” He was no ordinary child.

As Samson began to grow, the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him up. It was obvious that without the presence and power of God’s Spirit upon him, Samson could not fulfill his destiny.

He was able to tear the lion apart with his bare hands because of the power of God’s Spirit upon him. The empowerment of God’s Spirit was crucial to his success.

The Bible makes it clear that the Holy Spirit has been called alongside us to empower us to accomplish God’s purposes for His Kingdom. Jesus Himself declared in Luke 4:18 that, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…”

Jesus functioned under the empowerment of the Spirit of God. We see this all through the Gospels. You and I cannot accomplish our divinely appointed destinies outside of the empowering presence of the Spirit of God.

Like Samson, may you be stirred up by the Spirit of God to do exploits for His glory. May God’s anointing overshadow your life to tear up every opposing lion like Samson did. May the Spirit of God rest upon you to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and to set captives free from the enemy’s prison. May the Spirit of God stir you up to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the power of your Spirit. Let your presence be felt in all I do. Empower and direct me to do exploits for the glory of God. Amen.

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DAILY RENEWAL – GOD IS BEYOND UNDERSTANDING

DAILY RENEWAL – GOD IS BEYOND UNDERSTANDING

Scripture of the Day || December 5th, 2017

Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the man who talked to my wife?”…So Manoah asked him, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy’s life and work?”

The angel of the LORD answered, “Your wife must do all that I have told her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or fermented drink nor eat anything unclean…”

Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.” The angel of the LORD replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD.) Then Manoah inquired of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”

He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.”

Judges 13:11-18.

It is evident that Manoah was genuinely desirous of doing what was right in the upbringing of the son God was about to bless them with. In his mind, he was dealing with a man of God who simply had a message for him and his wife. Little did he know that he was actually dealing with the angel of the LORD whom many biblical scholars believe to be Jesus Himself before He came to live and die on the earth.

There are a couple of things that must arrest our attention:

First, always be sincere and genuine in your dealings with people because you never know whom you might be dealing with. You may be dealing not just with a mere mortal but with a divine representative in the form of an angelic visitation. God has not changed. What He did in the past can still be part of His acts today.

Second, it is interesting that the angel of the LORD took no delight in eating Manoah’s food but was rather interested in the same food being offered as an offering to the LORD. A fascinating insight to ponder is this: In Manoah’s mind, that food was meant to feed a hungry human being. Little did he realize that he was offering to feed God Himself. Whatever we give to a GENUINE  work of God is seen by God as a sacrificial offering to Him and not to a human cause!

Finally, God is beyond understanding. Many times, we do everything we can to figure God out with our finite human mind and senses. But the truth is: God is beyond understanding. We must walk with God by faith. We must take Him at His word by faith. We must obey Him by faith. We must give to His work by faith. Why? Because God is beyond understanding.

In fact the Bible tells us that, “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)

God is beyond understanding so we can only walk with Him fruitfully by faith.

Prayer: Father, I acknowledge that I have often sought to question and understand with my human mind and senses when I should take you at your word and walk by faith. Please Help me to walk by faith and not by sight. Amen.

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DAILY RENEWAL – WE NEED DIVINE GUIDANCE

DAILY RENEWAL – WE NEED DIVINE GUIDANCE

Scripture of the Day || December 4th, 2017

Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he said to me, “You will become pregnant and have a child…

Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, LORD, I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”

God heard Manoah and the angel of the LORD came again to the woman while she was out in the field…The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!”

Judges 13:6-10

After many years of barrenness, God appeared to Manoah’s wife and promised her a son who would lead Israel to defeat her enemies. Manoah was not with her when she received that promise so Manoah prayed to God for the opportunity to encounter the man of God himself.

The focus of Manoah’s prayer is very insightful: Pardon your servant, LORD, I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”  God was gracious and He gave Manoah the opportunity he was asking for. The angel of the LORD visited them again with clear instructions about how to raise the boy.

Manoah recognized that the son to be born was a gift from God. He knew that the success of the boy’s future and his ability to fulfill his destiny was dependent upon their obedience to the divine instructions concerning his upbringing. They were not going to take the blessing of the child and do their own thing with that blessing. They wanted the child to be anchored in godliness.

Many times, when God blesses us with a gift, we fail to ask Him how to use that gift to further His agenda. Samson was given not just so that Manoah and his wife would be blessed; but also to further God’s Kingdom agenda. Manoah recognized that and asked God for guidance.

We should not ask of God for a blessing and leave Him out when the blessing comes.

We should ask Him for guidance about how to serve Him with that blessing. Whether it is the blessing of a spouse, a job, a business, finances, marriage – ask God for guidance so that you can use that blessing to serve Him in accordance with His purposes.

Ask God for guidance because we need divine guidance.

Prayer: Father, I thank you for all the blessings you have bestowed on my life and all that you are yet to give. Please help me to use every blessing to serve your purposes. Amen

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