Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 31

May 31, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Jeremiah 5:18-31

God chose to pursue the course of human involvement and engagement. God doesn’t need man to accomplish His purposes and will, but He’s chosen to use him. It was through Abraham and his descendants that the Messiah would come. The saving message of the gospel is to be disseminated throughout the world through human agency. Since that was God’s choice, He must also deal with the consequences; human failings and shortcomings. People don’t always do what God wants them to do, even His own people. Consequently, the God we encounter in Scripture is often in corrective and punitive mode. Our preference may not be to see this side of God, but it is real and it is true and it is necessary for us to fully know Him as He is to be known.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What are “those days”? (v. 18; see vv. 14-17)
  • What question did God anticipate that people would ask? (v. 19)
  • What reason is given that God is one to be feared and to tremble before? (v. 22)
  • What does God consider to be appalling and horrible? (vv. 30-31)

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 30

May 30, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—1 Samuel 2:1-10

Prayer is special. The Bible says that some prayers are more so than others (see Jas. 5:16). It’s hard to imagine a prayer couched in any greater love and depth of sincerity than that of a godly mother for her child. Perhaps it is even more so true of a mother who for so many years writhed in the bitterness of barrenness. Now, though, she has been tenderly and generously blessed with her heart’s greatest desire. Hannah could pray in praise and thanksgiving to God from place known only to a few. Surely this must be counted among the most marvelous of prayers in all of Scripture.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why would Hannah consider what has happened her salvation? (v. 1)
  • In regard to man, what does God weigh? (v. 3)
  • What does God do for the poor and needy? (v. 8)
  • By what will man not prevail? (v. 9)

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 29

May 29, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—1 Samuel 1:1-28

Hannah impresses me. In her we see a truly godly woman. When she was mistreated, she did not lash out against her nemesis. She did not berate her husband for his lack of support and protection. She did not speak out in criticism against the injustice of her plight. She didn’t dissolve into self pity. She didn’t try to rally for public sympathy. Hannah remained faithful. She took her deeply felt and strongly emotional concerns to God. God responded to her in such a beautiful way. Few biblical characters achieve the spiritual renown of Samuel. Without Hannah, there is no Samuel.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What were the implications—in the mind of the Jews—of barrenness?
  • What was Elkanah’s mistake in attempting to comfort Hannah? v. 8)
  • What promise did Hannah make to God? (v. 11)
  • How did Hannah describe her emotional state? (v. 16)

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 28

May 28, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 2:5-18

It’s said that a true friend is the one who remains after one encounters the greatest of struggles and difficulties. They stay when all others have gone. How about a friend who goes ahead of you to endure what you have not, even when they didn’t have to? All so that He could, at the least, truly sympathize with you, but much more so that you could be blessed in ways that only He could make possible. I deeply love a true and dedicated friend. So much more, I love—and desperately need—the kind of friend Jesus is able to be for me.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Are we able to see and know everything that has been subjected to Christ? (v. 8)
  • What has Jesus done “by the grace of God”? (v. 9)
  • What did Jesus accomplish “through death”? (v. 14)
  • For what purpose was Jesus made like His brothers? (v. 17)

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 27

May 27, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Luke 13:22-30

I feel a connection to the St. Louis Cardinals. There’s a lot of history there, going all the way back to grandpa. There’s a lot of emotion too; great thrills and excitement as well as bitter disappointment. All in all I’d say it’s a strong tie. But, I could go to the stadium and attempt to gain access to the clubhouse, the locker room, the broadcast booth, the owner’s suite and be denied at every turn. They don’t have a clue who I am. I claim them, but they don’t claim me in the same way. What about with Jesus? Many people claim Him as theirs, but that doesn’t mean it’s reciprocated. We may have fond affection for and good memories tied to Him. We’d say the tie is strong. That does not mean He knows us. A serious mistake is to think that my connection to Jesus means He’s connected to me.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. To what question was Jesus responding? (v. 23)
  2. Why will many people not be able to enter through the narrow door? (v. 24)
  3. Based upon what did many people feel a connection to Jesus? (v. 26)
  4. What is the significance of the statement of v. 29 regarding those who will be in the kingdom?

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 26

May 26, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Ruth 1:1-18; 2:1-23; 4:13-22

Efforts to improve our lives don’t always work. Sometimes they fail horribly and we’re left miserable, far worse off than when we first took action. So it was with Naomi. She wound up mad at God and completely defeated. Of course there was no way for her to have foreseen Ruth or Boaz nor her great-grandson David, and certainly not her descendant Jesus. It’s hard to say that she should not have been upset with her present circumstances because she could not have known. But neither did she know that her bad times would not lead to far greater ones—ones she couldn’t begin to imagine. The fact is we do not know. What we think we know about the present may well only be a small, necessary, unpleasant part of a far greater future. Better, is it not, to react in confident faith than bitter ignorance?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why did Naomi and Elimelech leave home? (1:1)
  • How did Ruth respond to Naomi’s suggestion that she return to her family? (1:16-17)
  • By what name did Naomi wish to be called when she returned home? Why? (1:20)
  • Why was Ruth sent to glean in Baoz’s field? (2:1)

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 25

May 25, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Matthew 16:13-20

Pet peeve alert: Is there anything any more worthless than a public opinion poll? I don’t mean the kind that measure attitudes and beliefs of a body of people, thus helping to gain a better understanding of them. Rather, I mean the kind that ask who do you think is going to win this or accomplish that? who do you think is the most important, beautiful, smartest, etc. etc. Really, what does it matter what I, you, or anything else thinks? Truth and reality do not reside within people’s opinions. When Jesus asked His disciples who people thought He was, the responses were interesting (and predictable), but when Peter confessed the truth of Jesus’ identity, he was blessed. The truth he spoke was revealed by God, not contrived from human conjecture. Which of those two wields the greatest influence in my life?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What, if any, is the significance of the location where this happens? (v. 13)
  • What influenced the people to think about Jesus what they did? (v. 14)
  • What is the “rock” upon which Jesus built His church? (v. 18)
  • Why would Jesus strictly charge His disciples to not tell people that He was the Christ? (v. 20)

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 24

May 24, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Ezekiel 1:4-28

Perhaps mine was the final generation to be raised on the adage that medicine had to taste bad to do any good. Therefore Halls® cherry cough drops weren’t found in our house, as they were, by definition, worthless. Sometimes a very good and beneficial thing may be couched in unpleasantness. Our nature is to shy away from such. But could it not be that this approach is depriving us of some wonderful things? Ezekiel 1 fits in here. It’s highly symbolic and that symbolism makes us uncomfortable. He talks about a wheel within a wheel that goes in all directions (vv. 16-17). Some have even said this is a UFO in the Bible! Notice, though, what he says about all of these strange and interesting sights; “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD” (v. 28). So maybe it’s time to delve into, rather than avoid, this revelation of God’s glory.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Where else in Scripture do these four living creatures appear? (vv. 4-10)
  • What accompanied each of the four living creatures? (v. 15)
  • What appeared over the creatures’ heads? (v. 26)
  • What was Ezekiel’s response to what he saw? (v. 28)

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 23

May 23, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—1 Corinthians 1:4-9

Paul claims to always give thanks for the Christians at Corinth. Given the number of problems and issues faced by that church, how could this be so? Certainly he wasn’t thankful because of their predicament, he was thankful despite it. His thankfulness was based on the fact that the grace of God had been given to them in Jesus Christ (v. 4). It is easy to become upset and disgruntled with brethren, particularly when they are behaving badly. The church at Corinth was. And Paul did not ignore their mistakes and shortcomings at all. But neither did he write them off as a lost cause or too-far-gone. But before he ever begins to touch of the substantial issue with this church, he found reason to be thankful for them, and what greater reason to be thankful than God’s grace?

Questions to Ponder:

  • In what ways were the Corinthians enriched in Christ? (v. 5)
  • For what were the Corinthian Christians waiting? (v. 7)
  • What state or condition do we desire in the day of Jesus Christ? (v. 8)
  • Into what have we been called? (v. 9)

The Joy of God’s Presence, May 22

May 22, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—Judges 16:1-31

Samson was strong, but he wasn’t smart. He was impulsive and sensual. He could defeat 1,000 men with a donkey’s jawbone, but he couldn’t overcome his own personal impulses and desires. Physical strength is impressive. It commands attention and a certain amount of respect. But much more impressive is the one with the strength to rule self—self-control the Bible calls it. Not everyone is gifted with physical prowess, but everyone is called to exercise power over their own passions and wants. “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32). So, yes, you really should exercise greater power than Samson.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom did Samson visit at Gaza? (v. 1)
  • For what price was Delilah willing to betray Samson? (v. 5)
  • Is the story of Samson and Delilah a love story?
  • Why do you suppose God granted Samson’s final request?