Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 31

March 31, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Exodus 19:1-20:26

Not everyone sees the same events the same way. It’s not that different things have happened, but we never just see what happens, we also interpret it. Our interpretation is based on many influences: upbringing, culture, education, life experiences, etc. All of that goes together to form the framework through which we perceive life as it happens. Isn’t it interesting how God “interprets” the Israelites’ departure from Egypt? “I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Ex. 19:4). Do you think they saw it that way? Do you think they might have recalled their exhilaration replaced by fear at the Red Sea? Maybe running out of water and food so soon in the wilderness? In life we can focus on the struggles, troubles, and other negatives, or we can see the grandeur and glory of the work of God as He moves to accomplish His will—oftentimes through hardships and adversity. It really is a matter of perspective and which one we choose to take.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How would Israel become God’s treasured possession? ( v. 5)
  • How did the people respond to what God said? (v. 8)
  • To what does the New Testament compare the scene of 19:16-25? (see Heb. 12:18-24)
  • To what do the first four commandments relate? and the final six? (20:1-17)

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 30

March 30, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading— Luke 4:16-30

How do you see yourself? How do others see you? What is the prevailing picture of yourself in your mind? The people of Nazareth saw Jesus as Joseph’s son. Were they correct? Yes, but only as far as that went. He was also—and much more importantly—God’s Son. They didn’t see that, but Jesus knew better. How we see ourselves is important. So is the reasons we see ourselves as we do. Is the image one that was impressed on our minds as a child? Is it how our peers viewed us? Is it what society says? Or, do we see ourselves as God sees us? His creation made in His image? One lost in darkness and dead in sin? But still, one of such value and worth that He would pay the ultimate price to get us back? One whom He desires to call Him Father? Seriously, how do you see yourself?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was Jesus’ custom on the Sabbath day? (v. 16)
  • What did Jesus say about the Scripture He read on the Sabbath day? (v. 21)
  • What proverb did Jesus tell? (v. 24) Why is this true?
  • What was it about what Jesus said that upset the people so much? (vv. 25-29)

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 29

March 29, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Isaiah 55:6-13

Cecil B. DeMille wasn’t a theologian. He was a highly successful movie director and producer who loved to use the Bible as the basis for many of his films. The most famous of these was The Ten Commandments (the 7th highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation). He observed that it was impossible for man to break the 10 Commandments, man could only be broken on them. Interesting thought. If by that he meant that it is impossible for man to render God’s words powerless and ineffective, then He was absolutely right. God’s word always accomplishes what He intends. God’s word always stands. Whether we are blessed or broken by it is our choice.

Questions to Ponder:

  • When should the Lord be sought? (v. 6)
  • Upon what condition may the Lord’s compassion and pardon be found? (v. 7)
  • Should we expect that God will always make sense to us? (vv. 8-9)
  • What illustration is used in v. 10 of how God’s word works? What application can be made from it?

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 28

March 28, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—Habakkuk 3:17-19

We thank God for our blessings. It is only right to do so. What if those blessings fail? Will we still “rejoice in the Lord” and “take joy” in our God? It’s an easy trap to fall into, making our thanksgiving conditional on being blessed. In reality, our being thankful and joyful is unconditional because it rests in God Himself, not in what may or may not be true of my present circumstances. God is not here to serve me, to give me what I desire, to make sure my life goes according to my plan. God is to be served and praised and thanked because of who He is. That in itself is enough.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did the fig tree, vines, olive tree, and flocks mean to the people of Israel?
  • How devastating would the condition described in v. 17 be?
  • How would I describe the equivalent situation in my own life?
  • How does the sentiment of this passage compare with the “health and wealth” gospel?

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 27

March 27, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—Exodus 15:22-17:7

If I follow God and do His will, then things ought to go well in my life, right? I should expect no major issues or problems or roadblocks, correct? That only seems to make sense doesn’t it? The problem with that line of thought is that the Bible contradicts it. The people of Israel were led by God out of Egypt—and quite dramatically, we might add, by pillars of cloud and fire. Even so, they ran out of water and food. How basic is that? And all while following God’s lead. Our relationship with God is not at its best when no hardship stands in our way. Rather it is when we are made to realize that we are wholly and solely dependent on Him for our very existence.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How many days into the wilderness before the Israelites ran out of water? (14:22)
  • What did the people of Israel say they would have rather done? (16:3)
  • Of what was the appearance of the manna a demonstration? (16:7)
  • What was Moses commanded to do in 16:33?

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 26

March 26, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Ephesians 2:1-10

A popularly released movie from several years ago contained a mind-bending twist when the bizarre and highly unusual events surrounding the two primary characters were explained by revealing that they were actually dead the whole time (The Sixth Sense). The reality (in the movie) was not at all what it appeared to be. The reality in this life is not what it appears to be either. Many—rather, most—of those now living are actually dead. That is just as tragic and awful as it sounds. Our trespasses and sins leave us dead. Following the passions of our flesh and desires of our body results in a spiritual consequence just as serious, just as irreversible, just as final as physical death; and also just as repugnant and repulsive. Here, though, is something incredible: “But God”! But God makes us alive through Jesus Christ.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What three things are being followed by those dead in sin? (v. 2)
  • What does it mean that we were by nature children of wrath? (v. 3)
  • To what other event is our being raised up (v. 6) likened? (see 1:20)
  • For what have we been created by God? (v. 10)

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 25

March 25, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Matthew 18:1-6

Never enter the kingdom of heaven? That’s quite the frightening prospect. That the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God falls within the realm of our expectation (1 Cor. 6:9). We’re accustomed to thinking about the destinations of the righteous and the wicked in eternity. But Jesus isn’t talking about wicked people, He’s talking about disciples who fail to turn and humble themselves as little children. We may tend to think of eternal destinies in terms of “major” events and masses of people. Jesus said to look no further than a child. Have I helped this little one, or hindered? It really does matter.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What question did the disciples want Jesus to answer? (v. 1)
  • Whom did Jesus use as an object lesson? (v. 2)
  • In what way are we to be like children?
  • Do we have any responsibility for our influence on other’s faith? (v. 6)

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 24

March 24, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Exodus 13:17-14:31

God purposefully led the Israelites exiting Egypt to the Red Sea. It was a dead end. There was no place to go. Pharaoh concluded exactly what God knew he would and the mightiest army on earth began their pursuit of the helpless, trapped slave nation. And so the stage was set for the most incredible escape and victory in history. It would be talked about for generations, even centuries, to come. Have you ever felt trapped? No place to turn? Failure and devastation seemed imminent? Maybe that’s exactly where God has led you. Perhaps God is setting the stage for the most unlikely, incredible victory of your life. You may need to learn, as did Israel, that if you are going to make it, it will only be by the hand of God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Moses take with him as Israel left Egypt? (13:19)
  • In what manner did Israel leave Egypt? (14:8)
  • What did the Israelites see as their only two options? (14:12)
  • In whom did Israel believe? (14:31)

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 23

March 23, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Matthew 10:1-42

Jesus isn’t interested in sameness among His followers. We are mistaken if we think that as disciples and as those who make up His church, we should all have the very same outlooks and see everything from the same vantage point. This is not a denial of the truth of 1 Corinthians 1:10. It’s so easy for like-minded people to gravitate toward each other. What often happens is we end up with churches that are quite homogenous—ethnically, politically, socially, economically, etc. Did you see what Jesus did in selecting the 12? His aim was not sameness. He chose Simon the Zealot—decidedly anti-Roman—and Matthew the tax-collector—very much sympathetic to Rome. Do we see the value of surrounding ourselves with people who see things differently than do we?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What’s the difference between a disciple and an apostle?
  • What restrictions did Jesus put in place for the apostles’ first preaching tour? (vv. 5-6)
  • Is there ever a time to “give up” on people? (v. 14)
  • What should disciples of Jesus expect based on His own experience? (vv. 24-25)

The Joy of God’s Presence, March 22

March 22, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Deuteronomy 4:1-40

I’m not musically inclined, but neither am I musically inept. I can carry a tune for the most part. I can even sing some simple harmonies if I’ve heard them countless times before. I know enough to recognize the beauty and richness and depth that are added to music by harmony. Harmony involves two or more different notes being sung at the same time. (Please forgive this oversimplification). The point is that two different things can be present at the same time and they not necessarily be contradictory, but harmonic. Deuteronomy 4 makes two assertions about God that to some might appear to be at odds with each other: “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” and “For the Lord your God is a merciful God” (vv. 24, 31). That’s not contradiction, that’s harmony—adding to the richness, depth, and beauty of our God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What warning is given about God’s word in v. 2?
  • What warning is given in v. 9 that God’s children must not do?
  • In what is all of the covenant summed up? (v. 13)
  • What conditions are placed on our searching for God? (v. 29)