Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 30

April 30, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Sometimes it’s not a question of important v. unimportant or good v. bad, it may be a matter of rank and order. As vital as it is to favor the good and important over the bad and unimportant, it is just as critical to keep what is first, first. Spiritually, we don’t have to wonder about what is first. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). “[S]o that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1:18; NASB). “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins…” (1 Cor. 15:3ff). We know what is first to God. Is it first to me?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was true of the Corinthians in regard to the gospel? (vv. 1-2)
  • What happened “in accordance with the Scriptures”? (vv. 3-4)
  • How does Paul describe himself? (v. 8) How was this true?
  • What did Paul credit for what he had become and done? (v. 10)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 29

April 29, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Romans 12:9-21

I just don’t get it. How did Christianity get to be so offensive to so many people? What I read about how a Christian should live, it is to bless and not curse opponents, share in the joy and sorrow of others, live harmoniously, be humble, do what is good and honorable, live peaceably, leave all vengeance to God, and respond to evil with good. Offensive? Really? It’s true that some professing Christians act offensively. I get that. But if I run across a counterfeit twenty dollar bill I don’t reject all twenties. So, maybe the best thing a Christian can do when dealing with the offended is to, well, act like a Christian.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom are we to bless? (v. 14)
  • How can people live in harmony? (v. 16)
  • Is peace always going to be possible? (v. 19)
  • How are we able to keep from being overcome with evil? (v. 21)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 28

April 28, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Joshua 2:1-24

Rahab rejected her upbringing. She turned her back on her home and her community. She decided to ally herself with the invading masses of formerly enslaved Israelites by hiding their two spies. She wasn’t a traitor. She wasn’t an unprincipled, self serving deserter. She was a woman of faith (Heb. 11:31). She recognized the God of the Hebrews as the Sovereign Lord (v. 11). That faith led her to take her stand with Him and His people. He alone deserved her loyalty. Rahab did willingly what each of us must do and she did so long before we were ever called to do it (Lk. 14:26).

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was Rahab’s profession? (v. 1)
  • Did Rahab lie? (vv. 4-5)
  • What did Rahab say was the reaction of Jericho to the new of the Israelites? (vv. 10-11)
  • What promise did Rahab receive from the spies? (v. 14)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 27

April 27, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Mark 5:21-43

It’s a curious miracle. It happened to Jesus as much as it happened to the woman healed. He didn’t initiate the miraculous cure, she did. He knew in the midst of the press and jostling of the crowd her specific touch. It was different from all others. It wasn’t how hard or where she pressed her hand against Him that He felt—actually, He may have felt nothing of her touch at all since she only touched His garment. Power leaving Himself is what He noticed. Her faith was such that she only needed to touch the clothes He wore to accomplish what 12 years and depleted finances could never achieve through doctors. Her faith made her well. Her faith became the conduit for Christ’s healing power. As her faith healed so our faith saves. Her faith was confident in what Jesus could do and led her to act as she did. Our faith must have confidence in what Jesus can do and lead us to do as He’s said.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Jairus believe that Jesus needed to do to heal his daughter? (v. 23)
  • How did this woman know Jesus could heal her? (v. 27)
  • Whom did Jesus allow to accompany Him into Jairus’ house? (v. 37)
  • What were Jesus’ instructions following the miracle? (v. 43)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 26

April 26, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Isaiah 6:1-7

It’s been the privilege of very few—two as a matter of fact. It’s an exclusive club membered by those who have actually seen God’s throne. Both, of course, were permitted this special vision by God, one an Old Testament prophet, the other a New Testament apostle—that itself is very restricted company. Both saw the same thing. Both recorded the same thing. The message from the throne of God is that He is holy. So holy is He, and so impressive is His holiness, that those who occupy places in God’s presence can talk about nothing else and they can’t stop talking about that. Somehow, as one who has not had the privilege of experiencing what Isaiah and John saw and heard, I believe my appreciation for and understanding of the holiness of God is lacking, to put it mildly. Lord, please help me to better recognize, understand and honor your holiness!

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was significant about the timing of Isaiah’s vision? (v. 1)
  • What stood above God? (v. 2)
  • What were the seraphim saying to each other? (v. 3)
  • What was Isaiah’s response to what he saw? (v. 5)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 25

April 25, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—2 Corinthians 2:14-17

The human mind is both complex and perplexing. Why can I not remember some things when I want to, but other times vivid memories flood my thoughts seemingly involuntarily? The fact is that our physical senses serve as memory triggers. Among the most potent triggers is the sense of smell. Sometimes this can be to incongruous effect; like the time I hugged a sweet elderly lady at church who happened to be wearing the same perfume my wife had worn years earlier during our days of courting. Anyway, smell brings thoughts to mind. And we, as Christians, are to be the “aroma of Christ.” Through us is to be spread His fragrance everywhere (v. 14). By our presence, our words, our actions, our attitudes, our priorities, our values, and our purpose, thoughts of Jesus Christ should come into people’s minds.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is the “triumphal procession” in which God leads us? (v. 14)
  • Among whom are we Christ’s aroma? (v. 15)
  • How—and to whom—is Jesus an aroma of death? (v. 16)
  • What does it mean for one to be a “peddler” of God’s word? (v. 17)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 24

April 24, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—Numbers 25:1-18

Phinehas’ bold act is to be remembered for all generations (Psa. 106:30-31). Paul uses this incident in the New Testament in the form of a warning against sexual immorality (1 Cor. 10:8). For his action, God makes with this priest a “covenant of peace” (v. 12). Rarely even mentioned in the Old Testament (see Isa. 54:10; Ezek. 34:25; 37:26) this should be recognized as an esteemed honor and blessing. Why did he receive it? Looking beyond what he did, notice why he did it, “he was jealous for his God” (v. 13). Phinehas refused to stand by and watch as God was dishonored and provoked. He “stood up and intervened” (Psa. 106:30). Who today, being jealous for God, will stand up and intervene?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Based on whose advice did the Israel act as they did at Peor? (see 31:16)
  • What was the nature of Israel’s idolatry with the Midianites? (see Psa. 106:28)
  • What place did Phinehas eventually occupy? (see Judg. 20:28)
  • In what way did Phinehas make atonement for Israel? (v. 13)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 23

April 23, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Luke 16:19-31

What if God would just prove Himself? I mean really prove Himself? That way everyone would believe, wouldn’t they? Well, no. The rich man (the counterpart to the beggar Lazarus), after death was concerned for the unbelief of his still-living brothers. He thought Lazarus returning from the dead to warn them would do the trick. Abraham’s response was that the Scriptures’ (“Moses and the Prophets”) message was sufficient. If one rejects that, even something as incredible as a person rising from the dead, wouldn’t convince them. The bottom line is, what God has already done and what He’s already given, should be sufficient. He has already really proved Himself.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Is this a parable or not?
  • Does one go immediately to heaven or hell after death?
  • Is their consciousness in death?
  • Who carried Lazarus to his destination after death? (v. 22)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 22

April 22, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Mark 9:42-50

In 2003, rock climber Aron Ralston, climbing solo, got his armed wedged between rocks. He could not free himself. He attempted everything he could imagine. Nothing worked. The remote location made discovery by someone else a virtual impossibility. Hours passed. Days passed. On the sixth day he knew it was time for desperate measures or he would die. So, with a pocket knife, he amputated his own right forearm. Such extreme action could only be motivated by extreme circumstances. So, when Jesus says that in order to avoid hell one should cut off their offending hand or foot or tear out their eye, that tells us the extent of extreme measures we should be wiling to take to avoid hell. That’s how extremely bad and offensive and deplorable and painful it is. Whatever that sin is—whatever it is—it’s not worth hanging on to if Hell is its result.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How much does our influence on other believers matter? (v. 42)
  • Was Jesus being literal in vv. 43-47? If not, how should this be applied?
  • What do the worm and fire represent? What is said of their duration? (v. 48)
  • How does one lose their saltiness? (v. 50)

The Joy of God’s Presence, April 21

April 21, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Numbers 22:1-23:12

“What you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Of course, what we are is defined by what we do. No better example exists of this truism than Balaam. He had the propensity to say the right things. But in the end, he wound up on the wrong side. He said he could not go beyond the command of the Lord (22:18). He said his desire was to die the death of the righteous (23:10). Despite that, when push came to shove, he was unable to resist the enticements placed before him nor would he stand with God’s people. The world today is filled with Balaams. Lord, help me to not be one.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What interesting approach did the elders of Moab and Midian take to attempt to defeat the Israelites? (22:6)
  • What enticement did Balaam say would be insufficient to cause him God disobey God? (v. 18)
  • Who spoke to Balaam? (22:28)
  • What is the New Testament’s take on Balaam? (see 2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11)