Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 31

January 31, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

 Scripture Reading— Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord is on my side. I know of no other reality any more encouraging, any more hopeful, any more comforting than that. God is not vindictive, dour, and malicious. He’s not waiting for our failures or gleeful in our missteps. God’s preference is not to punish, it is to bless. He wishes to provide us with every good. With Him is security and grace and peace. These are not tantalizing goodies, desirable yet out of reach. God’s is accessible and His blessings are ever present. Every moment of my life is moved by the knowledge that God is for me.

 Questions to Ponder:

  • How does God “keep” us?
  • Why is it necessary for us that God be gracious?
  • What is said to be “upon” the people of Israel? What is the significance of this?
  • What if God’s face does not shine on us?

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 30

January30, Friday: Bible Story

 Scripture Reading— Genesis 24:1-67

Arranged marriages sure don’t fit our modern notions of romantic love. These arrangements were typically handled by parents, but what if a third party took care of the match making? That really does not sound appealing does it? Oh, but one other thing, what if God’s angel orchestrates it all. Now, that changes everything, right? This is exactly how it happens that Isaac and Rebekah come to be be wed. Of course, Isaac is the promised son of Abraham so it is through him that the plan and promises of God must pass. It’s a marvelous story and one that reminds us of God’s capacity to work through people and events to accomplish His purposes.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom did Abraham select to find a wife for Isaac? (v. 2)
  • Whom did Abraham assure his servant that the Lord would send with him? (v. 7)
  • What was Abraham’s servant’s prayer? (vv. 12-14)
  • What was the family connection between Rebekah and Abraham? (v. 15)

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 29

January 29, Thursday: Great Truths

 Scripture Reading— Romans 1:16-32

Ever heard of reverse engineering? That is taking a finished, functioning product or process and taking it apart piece by piece, analyzing each part or step individually while also closely noting how each part relates to, interconnects with, and functions in relationship to all the others. It’s just the opposite of building it from the ground up. We sometimes wonder about the wickedness, unrighteousness, and immorality of our world. How did all this come about? What ever brought us to this point? Paul reverse engineers this for us. Romans 1:29-32 describes just such a situation—an all too familiar sounding situation. How did things get so bad? This text explains exactly how it happened. The answer is the same for any nation, any culture, and any people that find themselves in darkness, apart from God. The path that leads there is always the same and always begins at the same place.

 Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the gospel God’s power to salvation for all people? (v. 17)
  • What do me do “by their unrighteousness”? (v. 18)
  • What do men fail to do in respect to God? (v. 21)
  • What is said three times that God has done to unrighteous man? (vv. 24, 26, 28)

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 28

January 28, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading— Matthew 6:1-18

Warning! Or as Jesus says, “Beware!” Your faith, and its expression in religious activity may end up with the opposite intended effect. Instead of blessing it may curse. No reward from the Father is an undesirable outcome. So, Jesus gives warning. If our purpose is to be seen by others, to be admired and honored for our piety, then that’s precisely the extent of reward we will achieve—the praise of men. Whether it’s giving for the poor, praying, or fasting, motive supremely importance.

 Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the giving described that God rewards? (v. 4)
  • Does Jesus condemn all public praying (vv. 5-6)
  • Should the fact that God knows our needs and desires serve as a hindrance to prayer? (v. 8)
  • How do we reconcile the need for our righteousness to be practiced in secret and letting our light shine?

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 27

January 27, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading— Genesis 22:1-19

What in my life is off limits to God? Anything? Everything? And we’re not just talking physical things either. In the New Testament the so-called rich young ruler refused to put his wealth into God’s service and so proved himself unfit to follow Jesus. Barnabas, on the other hand, willingly sold land so fellow Christians would not be in want. Again, that’s all physical things and some are unwilling to allow God to have it. But what about people? More particularly, what about our own family? In very dramatic fashion, Abraham withheld nothing from God, not even the life of his long-awaited, promised son. Abraham is called the father of the faithful for good reason.

 Questions to Ponder:

  • How soon did Abraham carry out God’s command? (v. 3)
  • How did Abraham respond to Isaac’s query about the “missing” sacrifice? (v. 8)
  • What name did Abraham give to this place? (v. 14)
  • For what reasons did God now say He would bless Abraham? (vv. 16-17)

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 26

January 26, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Matthew 2:1-23

For all the ignorance and misunderstanding (wise men not knowing where to go and Herod thinking he had a rival) some things from the wise men’s visit are very clear. For instance, if you want to get the skinny on the Messiah, you have to go to Scripture. That’s how the chief priests and scribes knew where the magi should search. Scripture still cuts through the conjecture, guessing, and wishful thinking today. Further, people will go to great lengths to prevent Jesus from being king. Herod murdered babies and toddlers. Despicable. But, no less jealousy and fear keeps people from allowing Jesus to rule in their hearts and lives today. Oh, and there’s the obvious—Jesus is always worthy of our greatest gifts and sincerest worship.

 Questions to Ponder:

  • To which city did the wise men first go? (v. 1) Why?
  • From whom did Herod seek answers about the Christ’s birth? (v. 4)
  • How many fulfilled prophecies are referenced in this account?

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 25

January 25, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading— Exodus 3:1-4:17

God doesn’t always do as we would want. He allowed the oppressive slavery of Israel to continue in Egypt. He had not prevented or, up to this point, relieved it. It’s been 400 years since He led them into Egypt and, apparently, since they last heard from Him. That’s the same amount of time that had passed from the last prophet, Malachi, until the angel spoke to virgin Mary. Now He wants Moses to go do His bidding before Pharaoh. The aged shepherd didn’t want that. His last foray in Egypt had ended in personal disaster. God wanted what Moses did not. Our own lives don’t always lead us where we want to go or to do what we might prefer. But lives put into God’s hands will ultimately prove to be blessed far beyond our own limited vision and present desires.

Questions to Ponder:

  • By what other name is Mt. Horeb known?
  • How did God identify Himself to Moses? (3:6)
  • Did God need Moses to be able to deliver Israel from Egypt?
  • What name did God tell Moses to use when they asked who had sent him? (3:14)

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 24

January 24 , Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading— Hebrews 11

We all face times of spiritual crisis. What happens next will determine the future of our faith. Such is the dilemma in Hebrews. It’s obviously a critical juncture when the encouragement is to not “throw away your confidence” (Heb. 10:35). The moment of decision is here. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Heb. 10:39). What kind of faith preserves the soul? That is what Hebrews 11 is all about, example upon example of ones who had that exact faith. That’s the faith we need; the faith that endures and preserves.

 Questions to Ponder:

  • How is faith defined? (v. 1)
  • What is not possible apart from faith? (v. 6)
  • What do people of faith recognize about their existence on earth? (v. 13)

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 23

January 23, Friday: Bible Story

Scripture Reading— Genesis 18:22-19:38

Everyone has heard of Sodom and Gomorrah. God wants us to remember Sodom and Gomorrah. He has not dealt as directly and immediately with all sin as He did with these cities. And His “failure” to do so must never be interpreted as a change in His attitude toward men’s wrongs. As a matter of fact, when men have begun to do so, right thinking is restored by remembering Sodom and Gomorrah (see 2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 7). God doesn’t have to rain down fire and brimstone every time humanity gets off course. He did it once and it’s up to us to not forget.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What should we learn from Abraham’s bargaining with God over the wicked cities? (18:22-33)
  • What was the prevailing sin of Sodom? (19:5)
  • Who intervened to get Lot and his family out of the city? (19:16)
  • Whom did God remember while destroying the cities? (19:29)

The Joy of God’s Presence, January 22

January 22, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading— Psalm 32

If sin is my greatest problem, then forgiveness is my greatest need. Both of these are true. Unfortunately, it is at the point of our greatest need that our greatest failing resides; the unwillingness to acknowledge and confess our wrong. Sin unconfessed is toxic to the soul. Be it pride, denial, self-deceit, or whatever we’re hanging on to, it is keeping us from the joy, freedom, and blessing of forgiveness realized. One is a wasting away of the bones while the other is a shout for joy!

 Questions to Ponder:

  • What are the 3 words used for sin and what are the three words/ideas for forgiveness in vv. 1-2?
  • What is suggested by encouragement that the godly should pray “at a time when you may be found”? (v. 6)
  • In what way ought we not be like the horse or mule? (v. 9)