Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 31

July 31, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—1 Kings 18:1-46

Obadiah (not the prophet) had it rough. His boss was the most wicked king Israel had had (1 Kings 16:33). Unlike his master, he “feared God greatly” (v. 3). Imagine what it must have been like to be a God fearing man serving in the household of Ahab and Jezebel. Talk about a negative work environment. Some might argue that he should not have remained there. But notice what we learn from this spiritually courageous man. All of our circumstances do not have to be “right” in order for us to live right. A bad situation is no excuse for failing to live as we should. Also, Obadiah was in a place for God to use him. It was through this man that the first personal encounter between God’s prophet and the wicked king transpired. So, no matter your circumstances always fear God and do right.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What service had Obadiah rendered to God’s prophets? (v. 4)
  • What did Obadiah fear? (v. 9)
  • How did Ahab refer to Elijah? (v. 17)
  • How did Elijah taunt the prophets of Baal? (v. 27)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 30

July 30, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Ezekiel 18:1-32

Am I influenced by the world around me? Of course. Has the home in which I was raised and the family I’ve grown up around impacted my values, beliefs, and understanding? Obviously so. Opportunities and obstacles alike are tied to factors beyond my control. Though this is most certainly true, what this does not mean is that I am relieved of the responsibility for who and what I am. Personal, individual accountability is a fundamental truth of human existence. Apparently also fundamental to human existence is a tendency to attempt to dodge that accountability. It was as true in Ezekiel’s day as it is in our own.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What proverb was being used in Israel? (v. 2) What did it mean?
  • What two things must be practiced by the one who is righteous? (v. 5)
  • What is the consequence for the one who is righteous? (v. 9)
  • Doest God take pleasure in the death of the wicked? (v. 23)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 29

July 29, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Luke 12:13-21

Rich or poor isn’t the issue. It really isn’t. Rich does not mean bad or wicked and poor does not mean good or righteous. It’s not that simple. It’s not that cut and dried. The question does not turn on the amount of money one does or does not have. Instead, as with the rest of life, it all hinges on who is of primary concern and interest. The money and wealth that I possess—and, again, it doesn’t matter how much or how little that might be—is it for myself or is it “toward God” (v. 21)? Of little concern is whether my money amounts to much or little. Of great concern is whether my life is lived for me or toward God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What request was made of Jesus? (v. 13)
  • Against what must we all be on our guard (v. 15)
  • Of what does one’s life consist? (v. 15)
  • What was the rich man’s response to his increase in wealth? (v. 18)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 28

July 28, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—1 Kings 16:29-17:24

How can you top Elijah? Could a greater man of God be found? Along with Enoch (Gen. 5:24) he’s only one of two men that God did not allow to taste death (see 2 Kings 2:11). He, along with Moses, appears with transfigured Jesus in the New Testament (Matt. 17:3). Certainly it is no coincidence that this great man appeared during the life of Israel’s most wicked king (1 King 16:33). The worse the times, the greater the men necessary to stand against evil. Wicked days demand leaders of light. Who today will rise?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What false deity did Ahab introduce into Israel? (16:31-32)
  • Before whom did Elijah say he stood? (17:1)
  • What was the widow doing from whom Elijah asked bread? (17:12)
  • Whom did the widow blame for her son’s death? (17:18)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 27

July 27, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Luke 7:18-35

Beatitudes are not confined to the Sermon on the Mount. Statements of blessing are pronounced throughout Jesus’ ministry as well as the entire Bible. Most of them challenge our thinking as they provide insight into value and importance from God’s perspective. “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (v. 23). The challenging thing here is the very idea that anyone would be offended by Jesus. Yet, the very fact that He says it indicates that it likely happens much more than we’d think. Offended at Jesus? Probably it happens most when Jesus fails to meet our expectations and desires. Was that not likely the issue with John’s disciples here? Being offended seems to be grievance-of-the-day any more. Most of the time—and this is certainly true with Jesus—it isn’t what offends that needs changed, it’s me.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Was John doubting Jesus’ identity? (v. 19)
  • How did Jesus answer John’s disciples’ question? (v. 22)
  • Was John the baptist a prophet? (v. 26)
  • What conclusion can be reached about people based on their response to John’s preaching? (vv. 29-30)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 26

July 26, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Psalm 6

God gives me what I could never obtain or achieve myself—physical life and eternal salvation for instance. Without God’s contributions there, I’ve got nothing. At the same time, God has some things I absolutely want no part of, even though I’m thankful He has them. Take justice for instance. God, being God, is just and fair. I love that. But, I really don’t want His justice. I don’t want Him to handle me in the way I deserve. As a sinner—that’s all of us—I should anticipate wrath and condemnation, not mercy and grace and salvation. So, when the Bible says, “O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath” (v. 1), I scream from the depths of my being, “Yes!”

Questions to Ponder:

  • What troubling question is asked in v. 3?
  • On what basis is the appeal made for deliverance? (v. 4)
  • Why is night time so much more difficult? (vv. 6-7)
  • What fact is itself a source of great encouragement? (vv. 8-9)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 25

July 25, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—Joshua 1:1-9

God wanted for Joshua what I want for myself; that is to be strong and courageous. He says to the new leader of Israel three times in quick succession, “Be strong and courageous…only be strong and courageous…be strong and courageous” (vv. 6, 7, 9). Ok, but from where will this fortitude come? With the task ahead of him and the people he had to lead, it was going to take something substantial to sustain the necessary strength and courage. Notice how God talks about how He has “given” the people this land, that no one will be able to stand before you, and that I will not leave you or forsake you (vv. 3-5). Promises, all promises. Normally we’d say that’s not much to go on because we all have experience with broken promises. Promises are worthless. Except God’s. Truly there is nothing more sure and reliable and dependable than God’s promise (see 2 Pet. 1:3-4). So, Joshua could have received nothing better upon which to base his strength and courage.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was Joshua’s relationship to Moses? (v. 1)
  • To which “fathers” had this promise of land originally been made? (see Gen. 15:12-16)
  • What was a key to success for Joshua? (vv. 7-8)
  • What promise similar to that found in v. 9 has Jesus made? (see Matt. 28:20)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 24

July 24, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—1 Kings 13:1-34

I can’t tell you what is going to happen in my life tomorrow. I have plans. I have a good idea about how things will go. I’m just as certain, thought, that it may not happen the way I think at all. You know what I mean. We just don’t do well with knowing the future with any real degree of accuracy. We’ve got a pretty good idea about tomorrow; how about a week from tomorrow? or a year? So, don’t miss this utterly incredible fete: a man of God announces to wicked Jeroboam that a descendant of David would arise—by the name of Josiah—who would destroy all that Jeroboam was putting into place. The prophet named the man who would do it. And it wasn’t going to happen for 300 years! You can read about in 2 Kings 23:15-20. This isn’t some vague postulation or fuzzy, ambiguous language. In short this is nothing that any human being could do alone—at all! Only God can do this.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was the sign that what the prophet said was true? (v. 3)
  • Why did the prophet refuse to go to the king’s house? (v. 9)
  • Why do you suppose the old prophet lied to the young? Why do you suppose the young believed him?
  • What effect did all of this have on Jeroboam? (v. 33)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 23

July 23, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I have no idea who said it first, but timing really is everything. Who knows, maybe that person got the idea from Ecclesiastes 3. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (v. 1). In deciding appropriate behavior or action it’s not just a question of right or wrong, true or false. Is the time right? Is this the suitable season? These are no less important considerations. Yes, that requires a healthy measure of wisdom and discernment, which, you’ll recall, God said is ours for the asking (Jas. 1:5).

Questions to Ponder:

  • Which of these things for which there is a time, do we have the most trouble with?
  • Which of these “negative” activities are sometimes thought of as never being appropriate?
  • How does the general thought of these passages fit into the thinking that everything is “black and white, cut and dried”?
  • Does this text give support to the idea that there are no absolutes?

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 22

July 22, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Ephesians 5:1-21

The fruit of the Spirit we’re familiar with. We might even be able to list the nine items in that list from Galatians 5. The fruit of light? Not so much. That’s too bad. Just as surely as we are born of the Spirit and led by the Spirit (John 3:8; Rom 8:14), so also are we “light in the Lord” and “children of light” (v. 8). Having previously been darkness, in Christ that reality changed. Does it not follow that the Spirit’s fruit is born in us as we are led by Him, and that also the light’s fruit will be as well as we “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7)? What, then, is that fruit? All that is good and right and true (v. 9). So, to ask if I am walking as a child of light is to ask if my actions, attitudes, beliefs, and practices are good and right and true?

Questions to Ponder:

  • In what way are children imitators? (v. 1)
  • What do you suppose the “empty words” might be that would deceive people? (v. 6)
  • What should the Christian’s stance be toward the “unfruitful works of darkness”? (v. 11)
  • What are “the days” and what should we do because of that? (v.16)