Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 30

November 30, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—Luke 24:13-49

Imagine having a conversation with Jesus; a real, face-to-face conversation. Would that not be an incredible experience? Do you have questions you’d want to ask Him? Are there some things you’d like Him to explain or elaborate on? What would you like for Jesus to think of you based on your discussion? Now for a twist; what if you had this conversation but did not realize that it was Jesus you were talking to? How would you come across? Would you be embarrassed by your own attitude? demeanor? selected topic of discussion? Two disciples had this very experience. Of course, the immediacy of Jesus’ crucifixion dominated their thinking and thus their discussion when Jesus joined them on their journey. Still, it’s something to think about. If I would have to do things different in order to affect a favorable impression with Jesus, what does that tell me?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What were the two disciples talking about as they walked together? (v. 14)
  • How was Jesus described to Jesus? (v. 19)
  • What did Jesus prove to these men from the Scriptures? (vv. 26-27)
  • What did the men report back in Jerusalem? (v. 33)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 29

November 29, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Psalm 65

What do full shelves at the grocery store say to us about God? I’m not really sure. As a matter of fact I’m not sure how much our technologically, industrially, commercially advanced culture has contributed to our understanding and appreciation of God. In a simpler time one could observe overflowing pastures, meadows clothed with flocks, valleys decked with grain and speak of those as shouts and songs of joy in praise to God (vv. 12-13). Sure, we love the convenience and ease afforded us in these modern times. But if it has all come at the cost of losing touch with our Creator and Sustainer, is it really worth it?

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is God characterized in v. 2?
  • With what shall we be satisfied? (v. 4)
  • With what does God answer us? (v. 5)
  • What two things is God able to still? (v. 7)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 28

November 28, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—1 Timothy 1:12-20

An active judge I once knew observed that in his court, people came overwhelmingly seeking mercy, not justice. They had already been accused. They already knew their guilt. They already knew they did not want what they deserved. The same is true with our God. We do not want His justice. If we do, we want it for someone else, not ourselves. Mercy is what everyone of us, like Paul (v. 13), need. Jesus commended the prayer of one whose petition to God was for mercy (Lk. 18:13). The recognition of our need for mercy is a correct understanding of our relationship with God. The one praying in Jesus’ parable saw himself as a sinner. Paul saw himself as a sinner. All that a sinner can do is plead for mercy. We may wish to see ourselves differently than this, but in order to receive what we need, it must start with this recognition.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What had Paul been given and why? (v. 12)
  • Why did Paul receive mercy? (v. 13)
  • Why did Paul receive mercy according to v. 16?
  • How is God described? (v. 17)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 27

November 27, Friday: Bible Story (2)

Scripture Reading—Acts 13-14

That the Holy Spirit directed leaders in the church at Antioch to single out Barnabas and Saul for the work He had for them we know for certain (13:2). We know this is what launched Paul’s missionary career. What we don’t know is if the Spirit also directed them as to where they went–Cyprus, Lycia, and Galatia. Maybe that was what was involved in fasting and praying, making a decision about where they should go. Of interest is the fact that Cyprus was Barnabas’s home (see Acts 4:36). Maybe this was the Spirit’s directive to begin here, or maybe it was this disciple’s desire to return home to preach the gospel of grace. That makes sense. We all have people in our lives, dear to our hearts, in need of Christ. What a marvelous place to begin.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Where did Barnabas and Saul preach in Salamis? (13:5)
  • Whose son is anyone who would turn a person away from the faith? (13:8-9)
  • What motivated the opposition to Paul and Barnabas at Antioch? (13:45)
  • What did the people of Lystra want to do to honor Paul and Barnabas? (14:13)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 26

November 26, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—1 Timothy 3:14-16

Let’s go backwards. At the end of this text is a series of succinct statements of reality with regard to Jesus (v. 16). They relate to who He is, what He’s done, and where He is. Jesus is always a good place to begin and always demands the preeminent place. Moving in a reverse direction, we next encounter the church; God’s household, the pillar and buttress of truth (v. 15). It is rather difficult to adequately think of Jesus without thinking of His body. Never denigrate, never diminish the importance of the church. It is not just a happy by product of God’s plan–it’s critical to it. Lastly, yet first in this text, is our right behavior which Paul expects to direct and control through what he writes (vv. 14-15). If Jesus really is the core and climax of my faith, then His church will be precious and my behavior will become a reflection of those priorities.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Paul hope to do? (v. 14)
  • Does God care about right behavior? (v. 15)
  • What is the church in relation to truth? (v. 15)
  • What is the significance of Jesus have been “seen by angels”? (v. 16)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 25

November 25, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Titus 3:1-11

So, is it malice, envy, and hatred or gentleness, courtesy, and peace? Just open your eyes and ears and in very short time disobedience, straying, priority of passion and pleasure along with the malice, envy, and hatred are manifest. It makes for a troubling and a troubled world. It does not have to be that way. It can be gentleness, courtesy and peace, along with good works, obedience, and submission as well as the absence of quarreling and evil speech. What is the difference? Which of these two are the result of “the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior” appearing (v. 4)? Obvious, isn’t it? Oh, and here’s a thought; does it not make sense that as a follower of Jesus Christ I should pay close attention to which of these lists is most evident in me?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What should be our disposition and treatment of all people? (v. 2)
  • According to what did God save us? (v. 5)
  • By what are we justified? (v. 7)
  • What should be the first response to one who stirs up division? (v. 10)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 24

November 24, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Acts 12

God rescued Peter, He did not rescue James. I’m not even going to pretend that I comprehend that. It reminds me that I do not understand God’s actions or God’s choices. It reminds me that sometimes God responds dramatically to prayer (Peter’s rescue) and other times He does not (did the Jerusalem Christians not also pray for James?). It reminds me that wicked people do very hurtful, despicable, and violent things and get away with it–remember Herod’s death was not due to his killing James, but his failing to give God glory (v. 23). It reminds me that this world and the life we live in it are not the place God promises our ultimate security. Are my efforts and desires for eternal security as passionate and motivating as those for temporal security. I may not fully understand, but it doesn’t keep me from being reminded.

Questions to Ponder:

  • On whom did Herod lay violent hands? (v. 1)
  • Whom did Herod wish to please? (v. 3)
  • To whose house did Peter go? (v. 12)
  • What is contrasted with Herod’s demise? (v. 24)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 23

November 23, Monday: Jesus

Scripture Reading—John 20:11-18

Mary was wrong. She wasn’t rebellious or belligerent; she was mistaken. She assessed the facts before her and reached an incorrect conclusion. This is in no way to be critical of Mary. Anyone could do that and everyone has done that at one time or another. She was correct that Jesus’ body was gone. She was incorrect as to the reason. This misstep was soon remedied when the very-much-alive Savior appeared to her. Even then, though, her understanding was not immediate. She thought she spoke to the gardener. We can be just as mistaken, just as incorrect, and just was “blind” as was Mary. Jesus can fix that as He did for here. but we have to allow him to do it. Will we?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Where were the angels Mary saw? (v. 12)
  • What was Mary’s distress? (v. 13)
  • Where had Jesus not yet gone? (v. 17)
  • To whom did Mary go and announce what she’d seen? (v. 18)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 22

November 22, Sunday: God

Scripture Reading—Hosea 4:1-11

I would not have wanted to live in those circumstances; swearing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery, violence, and bloodshed (v. 2). It hadn’t always been that way, so why was it now? That’s no mystery at all. There was no knowledge of God in the land. That might sound very simplistic, but it is no less true. When there is no knowledge of God, there is no godliness, none of those attributes and qualities that He possesses that are so innately endearing and pleasant to us. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love (v. 1). There is no kindness or compassion or mercy or goodness or forgiveness. In case you think this might be an isolated incident, consider Romans 1. The circumstance there are equally awful (see vv. 29-32). The reason is exactly the same–they chose to not know God (vv. 21-23). The answer to unrighteousness is not rules, laws, or ordinances opposing, restricting, and punishing them, it is knowing God. So, do I?

Questions to Ponder:

  • How extensive is the impact of failing to know God? (vv. 2-3)
  • With whom is God’s contention? (vv. 4-5)
  • What had they forgotten? (v. 6)
  • What is the principle demonstrated in v. 9?

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 21

November 21, Saturday: Inspiration, Motivation, Encouragement

Scripture Reading—Psalm 93

Life, at times, hurts. A loss, a tragedy, a disappointment, a failure–any number of happenings can cut us deep and leave our hearts bleeding. These times prompt us to evaluate the fundamental and foundational basis for our lives. Is it people? Is it circumstances? Is it achievement and success? All of these can easily falter. Every one of them can turn or change or dissipate into the air. Where does that leave us? Where indeed? So, only one foundation will not move, only one strength will not fail, only one glory will not fade, only one confidence will not disappoint. “Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore” (v. 5).

Questions to Ponder:

  • In what is the Lord robed? (v. 1)
  • What is His belt? (v. 1)
  • What is characteristic of God’s throne? (v. 2)
  • What befits the Lord’s house? (v. 5)