Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 31

August 31, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Mark 6:14-29

What right did John have to tell the ruler his choice of spouse was, not unwise, but unacceptable? Wasn’t his responsibility to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus? Is he just sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong? The fact is, everybody’s business is God’s business. As Creator He made us all. The life we have is the life He has given. For His messenger John to confront the king—oh yes, and wasn’t Herod’s place as king actually given to him by God as well? (See Rom. 13:1). The point here is not that you are another John, telling people what to do and what they’re doing wrong. Rather, God has a right to tell us —and what’s more, you have a responsibility to listen—how to live and call us out when we’re wrong.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did Herod explain Jesus’ miraculous powers? (v. 14)
  • What law had Herod violated? (v. 18)
  • Why had Herod not previously killed John? (v .20)
  • What incredible irony is found in v. 26?

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 30

August 30, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Nahum 1:1-13

“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God” (v. 2). Wait, what? “The Lord is good” (v. 7). Oh, ok, that’s better. Why do we like the latter and are uncomfortable with the former? Why does the first make us uneasy and the second we accept without reservation? Is it because we’re seeing these traits as they are in us? When I am jealous and vengeful I am something I should not be. I’ve become small and petty. Jealousy is a product of my flesh prevailing in me (Gal. 5:20) and vengeance is not even my right to possess (Heb. 10:30). I’m not good when these are true of me. But God is jealous and avenging on behalf of those who take refuge in Him. Were He not, we would be at the mercy of those who hate Him. It is good that He is jealous and avenging.

Questions to Ponder:

  • To whom are the vengeance and wrath of God directed? (v. 2)
  • What is God’s “way”? (v. 3)
  • How does the earth respond to the wrath of God? (v. 5)
  • Who can stand before God’s indignation and endure the heat of His anger? (v. 6)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 29

August 29, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—1 John 2:15-17

How much of my life is consumed by “the world and the things in the world”? Wow, it is a lot, isn’t it? We live in the world. The things in the world are all around us and at our disposal continually. From the time we wake up until we pillow our heads again, our daily traverse is in and through and amidst the world. God calls us to come out of the world. Not that we would leave this life or somehow escape this earthly existence, rather that our affections and devotions would not be captured by it, but by Him who made it all. Love the Creator, not the creation. If our love is for this world, His love is not in us.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why should we not love the world?
  • What is in the world? (v. 16)
  • Think about the sin in Eden in terms of v. 16. Can you identify each of these there?
  • What is a critical difference between God and the world? (v. 17)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 28

August 28, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—2 Kings 18:13-19:7, 35-37

We all face enemies, obstacles, opposition, and threats. Whether its in the form of people, institutions, disease, family, in business, spiritually, or whatever, how we respond provides clear insight into the health of our faith. What has the greatest effect on our response? Is it the size, number, strength, or might of what we’re up against? Where is our focus? Is it our relative weakness and the enemy’s power? Hezekiah is in a line of people including Joshua and Caleb and young David. They wasted no time worrying about the strength of the Canaanites, the size of Goliath, or the innumerable Assyrian army. All they thought about was that no matter what they faced, their God was bigger. In your trouble, what do you see? Your opponent or God?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Hezekiah try first to appease the Assyrians? (18:15-16)
  • How did Rabshakeh attempt to “reason” with the people of Jerusalem? (18:28-35)
  • Whose assistance did Hezekiah enlist? (19:2)
  • How many of the Assyrians were slain by the angel of the Lord? (19:35)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 27

August 27, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Matthew 13:24-30

We’re familiar with a “knock off,” an imitation, a copycat. We don’t always recognize them for what they are. Some frauds are ingeniously clever. The greatest of all deceivers is none other than Satan himself. Where the Master plants “wheat,” the enemy plants something else, and not just something different, but something so similar the deception is virtually undetectable. But no matter how close the a resemblance might be, only the real thing is the real thing. Consequently, correct identification is a tricky thing. Many who appear to belong to the Lord, indeed may not. Do I?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is this parable intended to help us understand? (v. 24)
  • What was the significant about this week (tare or darnel)? (v. 25)
  • Why did the Master not want the weeds pulled when they were identified? (v. 29)
  • At what point would the weeds be gathered and burned? (v. 30)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 26

August 26, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Matthew 16:24-28

These might be the most counter-intuitive words Jesus ever uttered. They just go against every natural inclination we possess. With respect to ourselves, Jesus calls us to exercise denial. Say “No” to myself? We’re all about the “yes”! We want what we want. Our desires and wishes drive so much of the life we live. Yet the author of life says that saving life only results in losing it. If we would come to Jesus we have to come empty of self. To say “yes” to Him demands that we say “no” to self.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is involved in taking up one’s cross? (v. 24)
  • What does Jesus mean by losing one’s life? (v. 25)
  • What will Jesus do when He returns? (v. 27)
  • What time frame does Jesus place on the coming of the kingdom? (v. 28)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 25

August 25, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—2 Kings 17:6-23

It is so sad and tragic, yet so common; to fall from the place God has placed us. The northern kingdom of Israel was what they were because God made them so (see 1 Kings 11:26ff). Now that was all gone. The same happened in Eden, didn’t it? God gives us what would could not obtain, places us in a position we could not attain. He blesses us and give us every advantage. With great ease, it can all be gone. What’s at stake? Nothing less than everything. What precaution should be taken? Nothing less than every one. Do you see where God has placed you?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why had Israel been taken captive by Assyria? (vv. 7-8)
  • In what way had Israel practiced their sin? (v. 9)
  • Whom did God use to warn Israel? (v. 13)
  • What did the people abandon? (v. 16)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 24

August 24, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Luke 17:11-19

Yes, it is simple, yet profoundly so. It can be learned at quite a young age. Anybody can do it. Everyone should do it. Its simplicity is belied by its rarity. Why is that? Its enemies are selfishness, entitlement, and pride. That’s not a nice list. Are these really prevailing in the lives of people to such an extent that it is so infrequent to hear someone say, “Thank you”? Gratitude is a powerful force in this life. Possessing this simple trait will transfer the thankful one into and exclusive class of humanity. Say thank you.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom did Jesus encounter on His way to Jerusalem? (v. 11)
  • For what did these men ask? (v. 13)
  • How many men returned to Jesus? (v. 15)
  • What nationality was this man? (v. 16)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 23

August 23, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Psalm 27

God is ___________. Surely some thoughts come to mind very quickly. God is many things; many wonderful, amazing, and impressive things. One often overlooked item on this list is His beauty. “One thing I have asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord…to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (v. 4). We admire, appreciate, and desire beauty. Beauty possesses an inherent worth and value. Beauty captures and holds attention and creates longing in the beholder. Oh, that I may gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is absent from my life if God is my stronghold? (v. 1)
  • What “one thing” is asked from the Lord? (v. 4)
  • What response is given for God’s deliverance? (v. 6)
  • What has God said? (v. 8)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 22

August 22, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Sometimes we just need to hear that what we’re doing is right, and to keep it up. That’s exactly what Paul told the Thessalonian Christians. So, notice some key features of their approved place. They had been taught, and were successfully following, what they should do to please God (v. 1). And isn’t pleasing God what it’s all about? Also, this required instruction. they didn’t know these things instinctively and their own desires were not sufficient guidelines. They needed top be taught. Further, sanctification (holiness) is God’s will (v. 3). Who and what they were was not adequate. They needed continual spiritual development. When Scriptures points out Christians who are doing it right, we ought to take notice.

Questions to Ponder:

  • From whom did the instructions come that Paul gave the Thessalonians? (v. 2)
  • What is characteristic of ones who know God? (vv. 3-5)
  • What role of God is emphasized in v. 6?
  • What has God taught us? (v. 9)