Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 30

September 30, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—James 3:1-18

“These things ought not to be so.” That is James’ inspired assessment. Sounds pretty serious doesn’t it? But, what is it? It’s that from the same mouth comes the blessing of God and the cursing of men. That’s what ought not to be so. It’s obvious isn’t it, what needs to change so that what is wrong can become right? It’s the use of our tongue in regard to other people. This is a serious matter. How I talk about people can render the praise of God an impossibility for me. Not that I can’t say good things about God, but is He going to receive praise from a source that habitually issues degrading, critical, harsh, unkind words toward those He’s made in His own image? Apparently not. Any situation that renders my praise of God useless or even impossible needs immediate attention.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why should people be cautious about becoming teachers? (v. 1)
  • What kind of person does not stumble in what he says? (v. 2)
  • What source sets the tongue on fire? (v. 6)
  • What else will be present along with jealousy and selfish ambition? (v. 16)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 29

September 29, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Esther 4-7

There is no way for this to happen. The opposing forces are too great. The leading adversaries are too highly placed. Actions and plans are authorized by the most powerful possible source. The victims are too weak, too vulnerable, and too powerless. All that is precisely true except for one factor—God. There is only one way for the plots of wicked men wielding the greatest human power on the authority of the highest rulers to be thwarted, overthrown, and turned back upon themselves by the weak and helpless—that is by the work of God. So, what insurmountable problem do you face? What is troubling you now and for which you see no solution? What question do you face that appears to have no answer? What part are you allowing God to play as you contemplate and think about these things?

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did the Jews respond to the king’s decree? (4:3)
  • What happened to anyone who approached the king unbidden? (4:11)
  • Why did the king wish to honor Mordecai? (6:2-3)
  • To whom did Haman turn to beg for his life? (7:7)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 28

September 28, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Luke 22:1-38

Peter was never short of words. Neither was he short on the very best of intentions. He really did want, more than anything, to be devoted to, to be with, and to serve His Master; and he said as much. Of course, it didn’t work out that way. In the privacy and security of the upper room the words came easy as the intentions were unchallenged. But under the glaring attention of unsympathetic and accusing eyes he withered—just as Jesus said. Condemning Peter would be easy; especially from the privacy and security of being so far removed by time and space. It’s good to have the same desires as Peter, but until we encounter real, face-to-face opposition, we don’t know what we would do.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What were the chief priests’ and scribes’ plans? (v. 2)
  • On what errand did Jesus send Peter and John? (v. 8)
  • Jesus said He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until what time? (v. 18)
  • What dispute arose among the disciples? (v. 24)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 27

September 27, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—1 Chronicles 29:14-19

Sometimes you have to get rid of the extraneous to get to the heart of something. Here the statement is made that “all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand is all your own” (v. 16). We could shorten that to “all this abundance that we have…comes from your hand and is all your own.” But we could shorten it still more to “all…that we have…is all your own.” Or, “all that we have is your own.” We don’t give God anything. We don’t “give back” to God as is often prayed. He has never relinquished ownership. What we may do with what He has placed in our hands is to keep what is His from Him and from His purposes. And make no mistake, we will answer for that.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was the source of what was given? (v. 14)
  • To what are our days on earth compared? (v. 15)
  • In what does God have pleasure? (v. 17)
  • What did David pray that God would grant Solomon? (v. 19)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 26

September 26, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—Romans 12:1-2

Let’s get this straight. We are not to be conformed to the world but rather be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Either way we’re being shaped and formed. Something is having an effect on us. One we should not allow to happen, the other we should promote and encourage. The one—the wrong one—we really don’t have to do anything. It’s the world that is all around us all day, every day. Just do nothing, make no effort and the conformation process is at work. The other demands deliberate attention and purpose. It is by the renewing of one’s mind. This mind is consciously fed spiritual food and exposed to righteous influence. So, seriously, which one is actually true of you today?

Questions to Ponder:

  • By what does Paul make his appeal? (v. 1)
  • What are we to present to God as worship? (v. 1)
  • By what are we able to discern the will of God? (v. 2)
  • What are three characteristics of God’s will? (v. 2)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 25

September 25, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—Esther 1-3

Esther made what she was available to God’s service. Quite notably she possessed physical beauty. She had “a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at” (2:7). Think about it; had she not been queen she would never have been able to take the action she took to save her people. Had she not been selected over all the other potential candidates she would have never become queen. Had she not been a “beautiful, young virgin” she would never have been among the candidates to become queen. She did not act like she was not pretty, neither did she flaunt it. She used what she was to be able to be in a place to be useful to God. God expects us to use what He’s made us the best we can, whatever that is. He’ll do the rest—whatever that is.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why was Vashti deposed as queen? (1:10-12)
  • From whom did the king get counsel? (1:13)
  • What did Esther keep secret when she became a candidate to be queen? (2:10)
  • Who hated Mordecai? (3:6) Why?

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 24

September 24, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—John 13:1-20

Jesus could not have said it better. As a matter of fact, He didn’t say it at all—at least not to start with—He just did it. What was “it”? Humble service. Too often we obsess over other matters; doctrine, Bible knowledge, theological acuity. It’s not that there is no place for these things, actually they’re quite important. But Jesus wanted His followers to know that service is where it’s at. We are impressed with Jesus as “Lord” and “teacher,” as we should be, but He shows Himself as an humble servant. We might want to show our devotion to Him in many ways, but He says He gave us this “example that you also should do just as I have done to you” (v. 15). We might impress others by our extensive knowledge of Scripture, but we won’t impress Jesus unless we’re washing feet.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What time did Jesus know had arrived? (v. 1)
  • What had already happened at the time of the supper? (v. 2)
  • Who objected to Jesus’ action? (v. 8)
  • What is the significance of the statement that a servant is not greater than his master? (v. 16)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 23

September 23, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—James 2:14-26

What good is it if you don’t give them the things needed? That is James’ question when it comes to the poor. What good is it to just acknowledge their need? To talk about their condition? To contemplate the cause of their poverty? To criticize them personally or a wealthy society that allows such a condition to even exist? The only good is when you actually give them what they need. To borrow perhaps the greatest advertising slogan of all time—just do it! That’s what genuine faith does—it acts; it sees a need and answers it. So, to answer James’ question—it is no good at all. I do not want that said of my faith.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What makes faith dead? (v. 17)
  • How can one show their faith? (v. 18)
  • Do demons have faith? (v. 19)
  • How is a person not justified? (v. 24)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 22

September 22, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Ezra 1:1-11; 3:1-13

The people’s job was of highest priority. It had been prophesied by Jeremiah. The king of the mightiest nation dictated that it happen. Full support came from all the people. It would not be possible to attach any greater significance to the task that fell to Zerubbabel in leading the first Jews back to Jerusalem—thus ending the Babylonian captivity—to rebuild the temple. Something else, though, had to come first. Before they turned the first spade of dirt they worshipped God. They erected the altar and began the twice-daily burnt offerings, they kept the Feast of Booths, they reinstated the various offerings prescribed in the Law. In essence, they first wanted to get right with God before they even began the work. What an excellent approach to any worthwhile task in life.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who had prophesied these events? (1:1)
  • Whom did Cyrus say God had charged to build His house? (1:2)
  • When did actual construction begin? (3:8)
  • How did the old men respond when the foundation was laid? (3:12)

The Joy of God’s Presence, September 21

September 21, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Matthew 21:12-17

It’s seems like an odd combination. In this paragraph we’re told first that Jesus cleared the temple of all the people conducting business. Next it’s a report of the blind and lame coming to be healed by Him. Lastly Matthew tells of the indignation of the religious elite toward Jesus. How do these connect and why are they all part of the same paragraph? It sets up a graphic contrast. In the temple grounds are people conducting unscrupulous business—Jesus calls them “robbers.” They are taking from the people, hurting the helpless for personal gain. Then, there is Jesus freely giving help and aid in response to desperate need. When the people respond with accolades for the Christ, the rulers—acting exactly opposite the expectations of their exalted place—respond with indignation toward Jesus’ goodness and righteousness. What is our response when righteousness reflects poorly upon us? Indignation or repentance?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom did Jesus cast out of the temple? (v. 12)
  • What is God’s house to be known as? (v. 13)
  • What were the children crying out in the temple? (v. 15)
  • Where did Jesus stay during this final week? (v. 17)