Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 31

October 31, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—Ephesians 2:11-22

Hostility and faith have no place together. That sounds strange because some of man’s most impassioned expressions of faith have engaged hostile attitudes and acts. Through Jesus, the hostility has been “killed” (v. 16). How’s that for an ironic statement? Through Jesus God’s righteous condemnation of sin has been removed (Rom. 8:1). As Jesus draws all men to Himself, the hostility among men can and must be removed. Hostility and faith are incompatible.  If one’s faith produces hostility toward men, then it is not the faith of the Bible at work.

Questions to Ponder:

  • By what means are those who were “far off” from God brought near? (v. 13)
  • What is the “dividing wall of hostility”? (v. 14)
  • What is our access to the Father? (v. 18)
  • Upon what foundation is God’s dwelling place built? (v. 20)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 30

October 30, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—Acts 6:1-7

Some things are not right because they wrong. Others are not right, not because they are wrong, but because they take precedence over a greater good or responsibility. The apostles’ statement is that it was not right that they should serve tables (v. 2). That just doesn’t sound right. What was wrong about it was that in this instance serving tables would have kept them from the task they had been called, preaching the word of God (v. 2). It’s not right that elders should give up shepherding or that preachers should give up preaching or that fathers should give up training up their children. The applications are essentially endless. But it happens, doesn’t it? People are confronted with many good and necessary works. But when those interfere with what we are called to do, it is not right.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who were the “Hellenists” and “Hebrews”? (v. 1)
  • What principle/practice of good leadership is on display here? (vv. 3-4)
  • Who picked these seven men? (v. 3)
  • What was the result of this course of action? (v. 7)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 29

October 29, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Romans 6:1-14

The primary theme under consideration in the first half of Romans 6 is not baptism. It’s not. Not that it isn’t mentioned, because it is and in a very instructive way. The primary idea addressed is death. The term, or its variations, appears 12 times in 14 verses with another strong implication of it as well. It speaks of Jesus’ death and our dying to sin. It is in baptism that we connect with Jesus’ own death (v. 3). This is so that as Jesus raised to life from his death, we also are able to arise to the life He gives from our death both “to” and “in” sin (v. 2; see also Eph. 2:5).  Life is the important corresponding theme here. Though we are no longer dead “in” sin, we remain dead “to” it. “So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11).

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why might one think it was good to continue in sin? (v. 1)
  • To what act of life is baptism likened? (v. 4)
  • Who will be united with Christ in a resurrection like His? (v. 5)
  • What must sin no longer do in us? (v. 12)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 28

October 28, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—James 5:13-20

James writes to Christians. He describes real experiences and circumstances of the Christian life. Here, several notable features are identified: suffering, cheer, illness, spiritual leaders, singing, and prayer. Two things come quickly to mind. One is that even the life of God’s child will encounter negatives like suffering and illness. Their presence is no indication of God’s displeasure. The other is that good or ill, life’s circumstances should elicit a spiritual response. How often when confronted with life’s offerings, no matter if pleasant or otherwise, do we think first of singing and prayer? These aren’t to be confined to the assembly. Our spirituality isn’t on display Sundays only. Our spiritual leaders are not a decision making board, but caring and engaged shepherds concerned for our well-being. How close is James’s depiction of the Christian experience to our own?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is the role of anointing with oil? (v. 14)
  • Is there a connection between illness and sin? (v. 15)
  • What should be done so that we may be healed? (v. 16)
  • What has great power? (v. 16)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 27

October 27, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Acts 5:17-42

Was Gamaliel right our wrong? Was his advice sound, or not? Yes, by it the lives of the apostles were preserved. And surely no one wants to be found opposing God. But, wait and see? Why wait? Wasn’t sufficient evidence already present to show that this was indeed “of God”? If previously refusing to be baptized by John was a rejection of God’s purpose (Lk. 7:30), then wouldn’t trying to stop the apostles be just more of the same? The folly of this is also evident in the fact that waiting accomplished nothing, even though the hand of God was evident in the spread of the gospel. There’s no record of Gamaliel and his ilk ever changing their minds. Was that because insufficient evidence or reason was provided? This was nothing but a dodge. They met the miracles and powerful preaching with refusal. Gamaliel’s high-sounding talk was nothing but rejection of what God was powerfully and forcefully doing before his very eyes. Don’t rationalize away what demands attention now!

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who was “with” the high priest? (v. 17)
  • What were the apostles commanded to preach, and by whom? (vv. 18-19)
  • What was the response to the news about apostles’ whereabouts? (v. 24)
  • How does Peter describe Jesus’ present place and position? (v. 31)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 26

October 26, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Matthew 27:3-10, 27-31

I wonder what fair market value for silver was the day Judas betrayed Jesus? Whatever it was, it took a dramatic fall that day. Not to the casual observer, the merchant or the banker. It was still worth enough to buy a tract of land. That’s something. For Judas personally, though, it went from the status of coveted wealth to be sought and pursued at virtually any expense, to being worthless and loathed so as to be thrown away. Remarkable. Perceived value fluctuates greatly in the light of reality and truth. What is so important and all-consuming one day is a worthless trifle the next. Lord, help us to see and know and understand and desire value that never changes.

Questions to Ponder:

  • At what point did Judas’s mind change? (v. 3)
  • Where did Judas throw the silver? (v. 5)
  • What prophet had spoken of details of this event? (v. 9)
  • Who mocked Jesus? (v. 27)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 25

October 25, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Isaiah 12:1-6

Can you see it? It’s not today, it’s another day. We see today. We know it and feel all that our present condition and circumstances bring. Sometimes the present overwhelms us. We don’t like it. It’s not pleasant. We want something different, something better. God wants that for us too. The problem is our willingness to see that day and be patient for its arrival. That day when we give thanks to God and revel in His goodness and blessing! That day when we will “draw water from the wells of salvation” (don’t you just love that phrase? v. 3)! How can we be so hopeful and joyful amidst present miseries? It’s because of what He’s “done” (past tense) that we can have great assurance in what He will do!

Questions to Ponder:

  • Is it possible to overcome (survive) God’s anger? (v. 1)
  • What does putting our “trust” in God entail? (v. 2)
  • What ought we to do in addition to giving thanks and calling on God’s name? (v. 4)
  • What is “Zion”? (v. 6)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 24

October 24, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—Deuteronomy 10:12-22

God really does want something from us; He requires it even. It’s not because He needs it. There is nothing from us for which God is dependent. But neither is he capricious, just arbitrarily issuing demands. Rather His requirements are because of what He desires, that being a loving relationship with those whom He has made in His own image. What He “requires” is for the sole purpose that this relationship might even exist. We fear Him, walk in His ways, love, serve, and obey Him all that we might be His own possession and that He be our Lord and God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is not in God’s possession? (v. 14)
  • What has God done for “your fathers and their offspring”? (v. 15)
  • What does it mean to circumcise your heart? (v. 16)
  • For whom does God care? (v. 18)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 23

October 23, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—Acts 5:1-16

Dishonesty can take many forms, some of which are even unintentional. Representing oneself as something they are not is a deception. Ananias and Sapphira did just such a thing. They presented themselves as being as generous and gracious in their giving as was Barnabas (see 4:36-37). Were they after the praise and admiration that undoubtedly came his way? Probably so. What they hadn’t intended or anticipated was that they were actually lying to God and it would cost them their lives. Among the most powerful temptations are those prompted by pride and lust for human accolades. More powerful though, is the God who has promised a way of escape for even these enticements (1 Cor. 10:13).

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was wrong with the actions described in v. 2?
  • What did Peter say was the ultimate source of the sin? (v. 3)
  • Was the fear described in v. 11 good or bad?
  • How was the church regarded in Jerusalem? (v. 13)

The Joy of God’s Presence, October 22

October 22, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Romans 12:3-8

Our thoughts can get away from us. Even easier than can our tongues, and that is challenging enough. In the New Testament we’re charged to focus our thoughts on things true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (Php. 4:8). In the Old Testament the plea is that both the words we speak and the thoughts we think would find please God (Psa. 19:14). Here specifically, it is that we guard against thinking too much of ourselves (v. 3). Given the context, the idea is that our differences do not make us better or worse, more important or less, than anyone else. In the body of Christ there are differences–not in the way many people would like to think, but differences in gifts. That mine is different than yours–and it most certainly is–doesn’t make it (or me) more important. They are all important and are what make us “members of one another” (v. 5). For the sake of the church, be so careful about how you think about yourself.

Questions to Ponder:

  • With what ought we to think? (v. 3)
  • Do all parts of the body have the same function? (v. 4)
  • According to what do our gifts differ? (v. 6)
  • In proportion to what should we use our gifts? (v. 6)