Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 30

June 30, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—2 Samuel 15:1-37

Examples come in two types, positive or negative. There are heroes and there are villains, victors and vanquished. It is interesting that the heroes and victors don’t leave only positive examples (think of David and Bathsheba), nor do villains leave only negative ones. Enter Absalom. Here was a scoundrel and a scalawag, albeit an intelligent one. His grand scheme to overthrow his father’s rule and take over the kingdom was going to require serious leadership skills, really. And he had them. He got out among the people. He listened to them. He sympathized with their hurts and allowed them to express their complaints. True that the whole time he criticized David’s shortcomings in all this, but still, he knew a thing or two about the value of personal interaction, genuine listening, and sympathy. “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Evil intent aside, there’s a highly valuable leadership lesson to be learned.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What ruse did Absalom use to initiate his rebellion? (vv. 7-9)
  • Where did Absalom first set up his kingship? (v. 10)
  • What was David’s immediate response when he learned of the rebellion? (v. 14)
  • What did David not allow to leave the city? (vv. 24-25)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 29

June 29, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Matthew 22:1-14

The whole Jewish wedding feast scenario in this parable is unfamiliar to me. Thanks to those who have studied such matters as first century Jewish wedding practices. Here’s the deal, the host is very gracious and inviting, welcoming all who will, to come. That’s God. At the same time, since it was at His invitation, they must come on His terms. It was not appropriate to come “just as you are” to this kind of feast. When the host found one who had responded to the gracious invitation, but failed to do so on the host’s terms—he wasn’t wearing a wedding garment—he was ingloriously evicted. It would be impossible to overemphasis the wondrous and wholly undeserved invitation to enjoy God’s blessings. That is, unless we somehow think that even in that there is nothing required of us. It’s His invitation on His terms, not ours.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who is represented by the ungrateful invited guests? (vv. 3−6)
  • How did the king respond to those invited guests’ actions? (v. 7)
  • What was the nature of those whom the servants invited? (v. 10)
  • Where was the unprepared guest cast? (v. 13)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 28

June 28, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Ezekiel 18:1-9

Sometimes the bells and whistles grab my attention. I am susceptible to flash and style and slick and glossy. We all are, to some extent. It’s the old “substance v. style” issue. So, I try to take extra care to think through what I’m drawn to and why. What catches God’s attention? Certainly, it’s not the shallow or frivolous or meaningless. In the whole grace/faith/works/obedience debate it seems as though some have landed in a place that suggests God does not care what we do as long as we’re honest and earnest about it and trusting Him. But obviously—and I say “obviously” because Scripture is quite explicit about it—there are “do’s and don’ts” that God pays attention to. This text describes how God sees the righteousness He expects of us. The words “do not” show up numerous times, as do phrases like, “walks in my statutes” and “keeps my rules”. So, if these ideas have become distasteful to us in our theology, our theology didn’t come from God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What proverb were the people using? (v. 2)
  • What does this proverb mean andy why does God disapprove of it?
  • What does a righteous man do? (v. 5)
  • What is the result of being righteous? (v. 9)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 27

June 27, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—Psalm 119:65-96

I am under the impression—I can’t verify this, yet—that the most frequently asked question in the Bible is “When?”, or its variant, “How long?” Most of the time it’s being asked of God. Sometimes, though, God asks it of man. From our reading: “When will you comfort me?” (v. 82) and “How long must your servant endure?” (v. 84). The frequency of this petition bears evidence to the fact that one of man’s biggest problems with God is His timing. Even when we’re convinced of what He can and will do, we’re not happy with when He chooses to do it. This is just another example of how His ways and thoughts are not only different than ours, but much higher (Isa. 55:8-9). I know of no other response—and it’s not a real comforting one—than, “In His time.”

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is God and what does He do? (v. 68)
  • Why is it good to be afflicted? (v. 71)
  • How bad has it gotten for the Psalmist? (v. 87)
  • What stands to this day by God’s appointment? (v. 91)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 26

June 26, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—2 Samuel 11:1-12:15

It’s easy to dismiss Scripture. We do it more often than we’d care to know. For instance, it’s easy to dismiss the incident of David and Bathsheba from any personal application because, after all, I’ve never committed adultery and certainly never arranged for someone’s death. Therefore, this particular biblical account has no real bearing on my life. Not so fast. Have you ever done anything that you shouldn’t? Something that if anyone found out you’d be ashamed? Something that you took any measures at all to hide so no one would know? Something you tried to ignore, hoping it would go away? Who hasn’t? It doesn’t have to be as “big” as an illicit relationship or killing someone to be sin inappropriately responded to. That’s what this is all about. And like David, it’s not until we’re willing to confront it and address it full on (see Psa. 51) that we’ve finally done right. Till then, we’re as wrong as was he.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Where was David? Where should he have been? (v. 1)
  • How much time would have had to pass before the message of v. 5 could have been sent?
  • What was David’s purpose in sending for Uriah? (v. 6)
  • What was the consequence of David’s sins? (vv. 10-12)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 25

June 25, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 8:1-13

The appliance repairman has advised us to never get rid of our washer and dryer. They are quite old. And that’s the key. They were built at a time when the idea was to repair them when something went wrong. That’s not true anymore. It’s called planned or built-in obsolescence. Products are built to have a limited life and when they break, they can’t be fixed so they have to be replaced. That translates, so the theory goes, into another product sale. Maytag and Kenmore didn’t originate this idea, God did. He made a covenant with His people at Sinai—with its attending Law, sacrifices, and priesthood—but never intended for it to stay in force forever. It had built-in obsolescence. Another covenant was necessary to accomplish what the first never could. Simply put, the second included Jesus, the first did not.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who, if he were on earth, would not be a priest at all? (v. 4)
  • Why is Jesus’ covenant “more excellent”? (v. 6)
  • Why was a second covenant necessary? (v. 7)
  • Why will each one not teach his neighbor and brother? (v. 11)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 24

June 24, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 5:11-6:12

I hate change, but I love change too. Not all change is good, but neither is it all bad. In our present world, it seems that change is the new norm. We should not necessarily interpret the discomfort we feel when change comes our way as a valid reason to oppose it. Some of Scripture’s harshest words directed at Christians are given because of their failure to change. The Hebrews writer is compelled to give a very strong rebuke because his readers were exactly like they had been when they first decided to follow Christ. They were still on a spiritual “milk” diet when they should have moved on to “solid food.” A very necessary change had failed to happen. Some things we ought dare not ever change (Gal. 1:8-9) and some things ought dare not ever stay the same.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is the “this” about which the writer has much to say, but can’t? (5:11)
  • What should these Christians be by this time? (5:12)
  • What is included in the “elementary doctrine of Christ”? (6:1-2)
  • Why is it impossible to restore some fallen Christians to repentance? (6:4-6)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 23

June 23, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—2 Samuel 7:1-29

“Ask and it shall be given to you” (Matt. 7:7). What a great promise from Jesus, and what a grossly misunderstood one too. Jesus isn’t telling us that God is going to give us whatever we want. David’s experience is a good example of what’s really going on here. David wanted to build a temple for God. What a great idea, right? Even Nathan the prophet thought so. God did not. He actually had in mind something greater for David, something David could have never dreamed. Here’s the deal. I think I know what I need and what I want, even when I believe my intentions and desires to be selfless and God-serving. The truth is, I’m very possibly—maybe even very likely—wrong. Does it not make sense that when we ask God for anything, that we would ask that He would truly give us and do for us what is genuinely best and for His glory?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What comparison troubled David? (v. 2)
  • What promise did God make to David? (v. 16)
  • What was David’s disposition as he prayed to God? (v. 18)
  • What had God done for His people? (v. 23)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 22

June 22, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—John 7:1-52

People were confused. They thought many different things about Jesus, some of them even contradictory. “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” they asked Him (v. 20). Others said of Him, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill?” (v. 25). Still others rejected Him, reasoning, “But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.’” (v. 27). Then, others said, ‘‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’” (vv. 41-42). A correct conclusion does not come from faulty information. Hearsay, rumor, and flawed Biblical interpretation fueled people’s thinking and conclusions about Jesus then. Not so unlike today, huh?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What feast did Jesus attend? (v. 2)
  • What did Jesus’ own brothers think of Him? (v. 5)
  • What caused the Jews to marvel? (v. 15)
  • Many people believed in Jesus for what reason? (v. 31)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 21

June 21, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Isaiah 40:6-31

To us the oceans are vast and mysterious. Only about 5% of the ocean floors have been closely explored. All of that—covering 71% of the earth’s surface—plus the waters in the atmosphere, on land (fresh water), and beneath the earth’s surface, God holds in the hollow of His hand (v. 12). The great nations of the earth, all of them, with all the lesser ones thrown in as well—that’s a lot of power and wealth and influence and technology and military might—are “accounted by Him as less than nothing and emptiness.” (v. 17). This same God, greater and larger than our ability to comprehend, is also tender and gentle and caring and protective. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (v. 11).

Questions to Ponder:

  • What withers and fades? What does not? (vv. 6-8)
  • Whats the answer to the question asked in v. 13?
  • To whom or what shall we compare God (v. 25)
  • Whose strength will be renewed? (v. 31)