Author Archives: dmbaldwin

About dmbaldwin

I'm the husband of Louise, the father of Erin, Eric, Mandy & Sarah and the grandfather of David, Aubrey Simeon & Demaris. I am the President & Owner of Furnace Hills Coffee Company -- I am an avid NY Giants and Newcastle United fan. I enjoy making "frequent" trips to Ukraine. I work with and teach in seminaries and Bible colleges in Ukraine. I enjoy blogging about coffee & leadership.

2 Chronicles 24:15-28:27 

Here we are reading through the good and bad of the kings in this section. What do we find in these passages that could be used to grow our spiritual lives? I came across this devotional that takes just one verse from this passage and says it all. It comes from FB Meyer’s Daily Homily work. The last paragraph is my own. I hope you’ll grow through the reading and application of this passage today.
The wholehearted faith of Caleb was one of his most remarkable attributes. When he was one of only two spies to recommend entering the Promised Land, it was promised that he would live through the subsequent years of wandering “because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Deut. 1:36). When that generation died off and the next entered the land, Caleb at age 85 was still there, as strong and vigorous and wholehearted as ever. He was given the city of Hebron, though he had to drive out the Anakites to take it (Josh. 14:6-14). His faith never faltered!
By contrast with Caleb, Amaziah in today’s reading is an anemic example of halfhearted faith. Second Chronicles 25:2 says it all: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly.” On the positive side, he took limited vengeance on his father Joash’s killers, obeying the Law’s strict guidelines (vv. 3-4). On the negative side, his military ambitions showed pride. When he hired northern Israelite mercenaries, he may have hoped God would judge his actions differently from those of previous kings who had formed alliances with pagan nations. But through an unnamed prophet, the Lord let him know that putting one’s confidence in human strength was a bad move in any case. To this rebuke, Amaziah responded with some faith—he sent the hired soldiers home and even gave up their wages as a lost investment.
The king’s mixed actions led to mixed results. God gave Judah a victory over Edom. This victory, however, was marred by cruel murders of some prisoners-of-war and entirely undone by Amaziah’s astoundingly foolish worship of the Edomite “gods” he had just defeated.
Meanwhile, the mercenaries, furious that their lust for violence and booty had gone unsatisfied, took out their aggressions by plundering towns on the way home. This led Amaziah to another foolish decision—challenging Israel to a war. God engineered his defeat as a judgment on his idolatry, and like his father he ended up a victim of assassination.
Spend some time today to meditate on “wholeheartedness” versus “halfheartedness”—with Caleb and Amaziah as the instructive contrasts. You may think that you have always been wholehearted in following Jesus, but think through your last month’s moments. Have you done everything you could? Have you been the follower you could be? I know I could do much better in wholehearted following of Jesus. Let’s all practice wholeheartedness today. Let me know how it goes in the comment section below.

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1 Chronicles 3:10-6:30

In the middle of what seems to be a boring list of names making up an ancient genealogy we find an amazing story in just a few verses:

 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 [ESV])

What many refer as the prayer of Jabez. Books have been written about these two verses. But thinking of these words in a spiritual context who wouldn’t want their spiritual borders expanded? I remember reading a devotional about this passage when our family was living and serving in Chicago. I started to pray this prayer not wanting a larger home or more money, but a broader base of ministry and influence for God’s Kingdom work. And shortly afterwards we received a call to minister in Indianapolis, IN. He gave us a broader platform and opportunity for ministry. God was answering prayer.

In reading this today, I am challenged to make this a prayer again for us Baldwin’s. Not for more money or fame, but for being more useful and effective in God’s Kingdom work. Will you join me? Let’s see how God grants our prayers.

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Judges 6&7

In the last three weeks I have heard the name of Gideon. Most of us reading this blog have read the story in these two chapters and our hearts have been moved. Several times reading this story I have been moved to tears. We are all suckers for the underdogs and Gideon is the poster child for underdogs. This passage of Scripture is about how powerful our God is any situation. Three hundred men led by Gideon defeat the army’s of Midian. You can read the culmination of this underdog saga below:

15 As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” 16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. 17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’” 19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.

24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and capture the waters against them, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they captured the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan. 25 And they captured the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. Then they pursued Midian, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan. (Judges 17:15-25 [ESV])

Only God could take 300 men and defeat an army of 135,000. I really can’t wrap my head around those odds.

How about you? Do you have enemies in your life God is just waiting to conquer? Have you been hiding in a “safe” place like Gideon was when we first meet him in chapter 16? Trust God to be your deliverer. And He hill defeat that enemy!

Today we have seen the power of prayer many reports coming back of answers to our prayers. We have brothers and sisters in Christ serving faithfully in the face of a larger enemy than Midian. Let’s join together in prayer for them and for us as we see God defeat the enemies in our lives.

Father God we pray for rescue and freedom in You. I pray for each person reading this today that you would free them from the bondage that has them running scared. I also prayer for Your safety for our brothers and sisters valiantly serving you in a very difficult situation. I pray these things in the Lord of Hosts – our Savior – Jesus, Amen

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Joshua 15-17

13 According to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the people of Judah, Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron (Arba was the father of Anak). 14 And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the descendants of Anak. 15 And he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir. Now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16 And Caleb said, “Whoever strikes Kiriath-sepher and captures it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife.” 17 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife. 18 When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she got off her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19 She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (Joshua 15:13-19 [ESV])

In the middle of Joshua dividing up the land for the Israelites we see this story of Caleb and what he was given according to the promise the Lord made to him. I’m not going to discuss the details of this passage today, but discuss the person of Caleb. Commentators believe Caleb was around 85 years old when he entered the promised land. You look at all he did in this short passage. He forced people out of the land he was given. He subdivided the land he was given. Caleb was a very active 85 year old. I’ll be 72 next week and I don’t think I could take over our neigborhood let alone Carroll County (the county where I live in Maryland, USA).

However there are things at 72 or 75 or 80 that I can do for God’s Kingdom. I remember my wife’s parents after they fully retired volunteered for a mission agency stuffing letters into envelopes for mailings. My mother had a prayer and mentoring ministry well into her 90’s and still today is an encourager and prayer warrior.

In retirement I challenge you to look forward to what more you can do for the cause of the gospel, not less. If you’re getting close to retirement age be asking yourself and God what’s next in your service to Him and His Kingdom. I’m reminded of John Piper’s observation of a wasted retirement from his book Don’t Waste Your Life: Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life. (Don’t Waste Your Life, 45-46)

Don’t be like that couple. Be like Caleb. Let’s start a revolution that will be world changing as we make the most of our retirements when we come to that season in our lives. Let’s all be Calebs!

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Numbers 34-36; Deuteronomy 1:1-15

I live in the Baltimore, MD area of the United States. Baltimore proper is less than one million people. By the time we get to Numbers 34 in our reading of today there are most likely a people that are two to three times larger than Baltimore and that may be a conservative estimate.

In Numbers 34:1-5 we read: The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the people of Israel, and say to them, When you enter the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan as defined by its borders), your south side shall be from the wilderness of Zin alongside Edom, and your southern border shall run from the end of the Salt Sea on the east. And your border shall turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim, and cross to Zin, and its limit shall be south of Kadesh-barnea. Then it shall go on to Hazar-addar, and pass along to Azmon. And the border shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and its limit shall be at the sea.

This is just the beginning of Moses laying out how the promised land was to be divided. God told Moses the people were as numerous as the sands on the sea. We can read through these kinds of passages in the Bible and not put some perspect to them. It took a lot of organization to move these people. They were a HUGE group. And yet the God of the universe had it all planned out and layed out in that new land. We believe He has the big things planned out but not the small ones. We believe He is in charge of the larger than life issues, but not our small ones.

Well the very ending chapter of Numbers we read 36:1-4 The heads of the fathers’ houses of the clan of the people of Gilead the son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the clans of the people of Joseph, came near and spoke before Moses and before the chiefs, the heads of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel. 2 They said, “The Lord commanded my lord to give the land for inheritance by lot to the people of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters. 3 But if they are married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the people of Israel, then their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our fathers and added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry. So it will be taken away from the lot of our inheritance. 4 And when the jubilee of the people of Israel comes, then their inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry, and their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.”

There was a promise of land to some sisters who hadn’t married. And this was being sorted out in this chapter. Of all the peoples and all the dividing and collecting of people Moses includes this story. Something very small in the whole scheme of things. God cares for you in the same way. The biggness of any situation doesn’t have something small enough that God cares. The next time you feel your issue is too small remember He is already working out a conclusion to your story that will bring glory to Him.

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