Monthly Archives: January 2016

My Delight is the Lord, January 31

January 31, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 9

Just Men

The presidential election process is as exasperating as it is necessary. Are candidates most interested in the well-being of the nation and welfare of its citizens or their personal advancement to the seat of power? Is this really the best use of multiplied millions (that word probably needs to start with a “b” instead) of dollars? Who is it that truly decides the outcome of the nomination and election process anyway? The American populace or a select group of elite power brokers? Make no mistake, with so much on the line, honesty and integrity are trampled shamelessly underfoot in favor of “any means possible.” “Greatest, most powerful nation on earth” status notwithstanding, “Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men!” (v. 20). Exasperation fades in the brilliance of sovereign God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is necessary to be able to “recount all of your wonderful deeds”? (v. 1)
  • What happens to nations? (v. 6) And to God? (v. 7)
  • Whom does God hear? (v. 12)
  • Whom does God remember? (v. 18)

My Delight is the Lord, January 30

January 30, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 21:1-21

God Promised

Do not underestimate the impact of the statement, “the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised” (v. 1). We all have experience with promises, both given and received. Not all those experiences have been good. Few episodes of life are as disheartening as a broken promise. As uncertain as they may be in human affairs, promises serve as God’s chosen currency in dealing with man. We are children of God according to His promise (Gal. 3:29; 4:28). It’s according to his “precious and very great promises” that we can “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). It is that upon which hope rests (Acts 26:6).  God is, as Sarah knew, faithful to His promises (Heb. 11:11). As uncertain as a promise among men can be, nothing more certain can be ours than the promise of God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What the name “Isaac” mean? (v. 3)
  • What part does laughter play in the whole process of Isaac’s arrival? (v. 6; 17:17; 18:12)
  • Why did Sarah want Hagar thrown out? (v. 10)
  • Why was Abraham told not to be displeased over this incident with Hagar? (v. 12)

My Delight is the Lord, January 29

January 29, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 18:22-19:38

Do Right, Always

A fount of frustration often flows from our inability to perceive the benefit of doing good and right. Have you ever heard or said, “Well, it won’t do any good”? We choose not to do the right thing solely based on our lack of perception of what we would classify a positive outcome. Since when did we become so all-knowing that every possible good influence falls within the field of our attention? Abraham looked in vain for righteous people in Sodom. Had he found even ten, the city would have been spared. Might someone in Sodom have given up on righteousness because they couldn’t see that it did any good? It didn’t change anybody. When will we finally acknowledge that the reason to do good is because God is good–end of story.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Does God delay punishment of wicked people for the sake of the righteous who live among them?
  • What was the sin of Sodom? (19:5
  • What finally got Lot out of the city? (19:16)
  • What two nations descended from Lot? (19:37-38)

My Delight is the Lord, January 28

January 28, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Genesis 16:1-16

Trust’s Challenge

Trust is hard. Trust is demanding. Sarai found it to be too much of both. Instead of trusting in God’s promise that she would have a child, she decided to produce an heir in the only way she could see how. Her idea of an heir being born through her handmaid was not an unknown practice for the time. The plan had on it’s side social convention and plausibility. It just made a whole lot more sense than to think a barren woman in her mid-70’s was going to have a child now. Seriously? The only reason to think otherwise is because God said so. Sarai found that level of trust to be a bit excessive. Before we get too harsh and critical with her, a serious self examination may well be in order. If we learn anything from Abraham’s wife it is that God can and should be trusted, no matter what.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Was Abraham without fault in the incident with Hagar?
  • Is it God’s will for us to always escape bad situations? (vv. 6-9)
  • What significance did Hagar see in her encounter with the angel? (v. 13)
  • What were the ages of Abraham and Sarai at this time? (v. 16; 17:17)

My Delight is the Lord, January 27

January 27, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-23

The Right Time

What makes the right time the right time? We may know of something that needs to be done and ought to be done, but we’re just waiting for the right time to do it. Jesus’ arrival was at just the right time (see Gal. 4:4; Rom. 5:6). Even though a powerful king took extreme measures to kill Him and numerous innocent babies lost their lives, it was the right time. Even though this young family had to live in exile in a foreign land for a time before they could ever return home, it was the right time. Obviously the right time is not defined by no difficulties, no hardships, or no troubles. Have we come to use the right time as an excuse not to do what we know we should do? It is true that it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Is there anything to suggest the timing of the wise men’s arrival in Bethlehem?
  • How did they learn the child would be born in Bethlehem? (vv. 4-6)
  • What did the wise men do upon seeing the child? (v. 11)
  • What might we learn from deaths of the children in Bethlehem?

My Delight is the Lord, January 26

January 26, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Romans 12:9-21

The Real Trouble

It is a fact, that there is no book of the Bible with any greater theological depth than Romans. It is also “pure Paul.” That is, some so-called biblical scholars who cast doubt on the authorship of other of his epistles, still maintain that Romans is his. That would be classified as testimony from a hostile witness, but still. He has spoken at length and in great depth on a subject no less than our very justification. Here in chapter 12 the book turns practical. Scholars debate meaning and intent and interpretation in ad nauseam over the first 11+ chapters. But what is there to miss about “Let love be genuine”? Or “Abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good”? Or “Love one another with brotherly affection”? You see it’s really not the theologically challenging that trips us up. It’s more often the plain and straightforward.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How do we love with brotherly affection? (v. 10)
  • What does it mean to “give thought to what is honorable in the sight of all”? (v. 17)
  • Why is it hard to leave hurts and wrongs suffered to the wrath of God? (v. 19)
  • How do we prevent being overcome by evil? (v. 21)

My Delight is the Lord, January 25

January 25, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-25

One

You have read it, but how much have you thought about it? It’s a short statement, containing only four words, the longest of which is but four letters. It only requires 12 letters of the alphabet to write–my own last name takes 11 for crying out loud. It’s simplicity may obscure the need for contemplation and mask its marvelous depth. “The Lord is one” (v. 4). What exactly does that mean? Well, maybe the meaning is not exact, that is, to be understood in only one way. Is it that He is Lord alone? Very possibly. The text goes on to call for loyalty and devotion to Him only (vv. 5, 14). Or maybe its that the Lord is unique. He is not only the only one worthy of our devotion, He is superior to any other consideration. Or maybe this only gets us started on the path of knowing our Lord who is one.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What principle do you glean from v. 2?
  • How do you love with all your soul? (v. 5)
  • How can people forget the Lord? (v. 12)
  • How can God be jealous? (v. 15)

My Delight is the Lord, January 24

January 24, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 8

Good at Praise

If I’m not very good at something I tend to avoid it. How about you? The problem is that our inadequacy becomes a hindrance to whatever this might be, even if it’s something quite good and important. How often is this the case in praising God? In one sense the Psalms can be intimidating. They contain some of the most impressive language and statements of honor to God. Why are we not more intentional about adopting that same language? Just think about our prayers. Public prayers most often sound very similar to all the other public prayers we’ve heard. Why don’t they sound more similar to the wording of Scripture? “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (v. 1). It’s not that we’re trying to be impressive, but God is certainly worthy of impressive.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What thought comes to mind upon observing the heavens? (vv. 3-4)
  • Where has God placed man? (v. 5)
  • What does being “crowned” and “given dominion” suggest? (vv. 5-6)
  • What are the “paths of the sea”? (v. 8)

My Delight is the Lord, January 23

January 23, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 17:1-18:21

Don’t Laugh

I like a good laugh as much as anyone. But sometimes we laugh when we shouldn’t; we just can’t help ourselves. Something is so absurd, so ridiculous, so incredibly ironic and it strikes us as funny. When God blessed Sarah–on the occasion He changed her name to that from Sarai–He promised again that she would bear a son and that “she shall become nations” (v. 16). It was more than Abraham could take. He didn’t just chuckle, he “fell on his face and laughed.” Are two very elderly people really going to become first-time parents? Ridiculous! Nonsensical! Laughable! I’m glad he laughed, not that anyone should laugh at God, but in response God reaffirmed His promise. As later explained, salvation is based on God’s promise, not on what I do (Gal. 3:22, 29). That is nothing to laugh at.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What promise, in addition to offspring, was made to Abraham? (17:8)
  • What was the sign of the covenant? (17:11)
  • What were the ages of Abraham and Sarah at this time? (17:17)
  • In what form did God appear to Abraham? (18:1-2)

My Delight is the Lord, January 22

January 22, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 15

Faith Questions

Do people of faith question? We sometimes might think that our questions are a sign of little faith and so keep our mouths shut so as to not appear faithless. That’s not necessary. In just the second verse after the Bible says Abraham “believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness”, the patriarch asks God how he can know for sure that His promise will come to pass (vv. 6,8). That’s a man of great faith wanting assurance from God. And God gave it. It’s far better to be honest about our questions or even doubts and bring them to God than to present a facade of what we think a stalwart faith looks like. Surely we can see from Scripture that people of faith questioned, struggled, sometimes failed, and through the process brought it all to God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was Abram trying to do by pointing out Eliezer? (v. 2)
  • How did God illustrate the Abram the extent of His promise? (v. 5)
  • What event did God tell Abram would take place? (vv. 13-14)
  • What was God doing with Abram in this incident with the smoking fire pot and flaming torch? (vv. 17-18)