Monthly Archives: February 2016

My Delight is the Lord, February 29

February 29, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-22

God is Comfortable

We are hardwired for comfort. Don’t believe that? Place your finger on a hot stove burner. Why is your reflex action what it is? Pain is physical discomfort to the extreme. We really don’t have to think about what to do, our body just reacts. Is it not this same impulse that we have to overcome in order to push ourselves to our physical limits? Remember “no pain, no gain”? But this is not just physical. It is emotional, mental, and spiritual. God is “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (v. 3). We are hardwired for God. So, why is their such massive failure here? Satan has convinced us that comfort and pleasure are the same, that God is a roadblock instead of the source of what we need (want?) most. And we, en masse, have believed the lie. He has short circuited the hardwire. God is where comfort–all comfort–is found.

Questions to Ponder:

  • If we have received comfort, what are we supposed to do? (v. 4)
  • Is suffering all bad? (vv. 5, 7)
  • Does v. 8 support the idea that God does not give us more than we can bear?
  • What role does the Spirit play for us? (v. 22)

My Delight is the Lord, February 28

February 28, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 18

No Enemies?

So, you don’t have any enemies you say? Really? You never feel a sense of struggle in your life? It never feels like an uphill battle? No feeling of insecurity, ever? What you believe in and stand for is never challenged or questioned? Uncertainty never shows itself? We make a mistake if we think our enemies all have names and faces. Reality is that our need before our foes is great, greater than we can supply on our own. Denial of that will certainly seal our doom. Not to fear. Let’s follow David’s lead. The Lord is my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock (yes, again), my refuge, my shield, my salvation, and my stronghold (vv. 1-2; yes, all of that in 2 verses!). Does that help? David thought so. “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised” (v. 3).

Questions to Ponder:

  • What historical setting does this Psalm’s heading suggest?
  • How many different ways is God described in vv. 1-2?
  • How serious was David’s predicament? (vv. 4-5)
  • How does God treat the merciful? (v. 25)

My Delight is the Lord, February 27

February 27, Saturday: God’s Story (2) 

Scripture Reading: Genesis 37:1-36

Mine or God’s?

We have trouble with life’s troubles. Their unpleasantness is sufficient to motivate us to want them gone. So bad is it that sometimes folks get upset with God when He doesn’t fix them as we would want. Joseph had troubles; serious ones that were only going to get worse. He dodged being killed by his murderous brothers but was sold off and taken to a foreign land and sold again as a slave. Why was he sold? His brothers hated him. They hated him because he was father’s favorite. He only worsened that by telling his dreams that showed him as superior to them. Where did those dreams come from? God. So, God escalated a smoldering family dynamic to prompt siblings to take extreme measures all to be used for His ultimate purpose. Here’s a good reminder that God’s goal is not our present comfort, but His ultimate will. The sooner we get our priorities aligned with His the better.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What gift did Jacob give to Joseph? (v. 3)
  • What intensified the brothers’ hatred of Joseph? (v. 5)
  • Who counseled against killing Joseph? (v. 21)
  • How far did the brothers’ jealousy take them? (v. 31-35)

My Delight is the Lord, February 26

February 26, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 35:1-29

Where’s Your Bethel?

Bethel, formerly known as Luz, was an important marker in Jacob’s life. It is the place noted for his departure from home to flee his brother’s blind rage and to find a wife. When he returns to this place, at God’s instruction, much has changed. Esau’s wrath has abated. Jacob has not one, but two wives and over a dozen children in tow. That’s not all; Jacob has changed as well. He is not the same man as when he left. God acknowledges that by changing his name from Jacob (“cheater,” roughly) to Israel. No doubt just being at Bethel powerfully remind Israel of how much God had blessed him; not just with a family and wealth, but by disciplining and shaping and forming him through the people and experiences of the intervening years. He was now the humble and submissive patriarch. We could all use a Bethel.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Jacob do before going to Bethel? (v. 2)
  • What is important about the promises of vv. 9-12?
  • What is the tragic irony of Rachel’s death? (v. 19)
  • How old are Esau and Jacob when Isaac dies? (v. 28; see 25:26)

My Delight is the Lord, February 25

February 25, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Genesis 29:31-30:43

What’s In a Name?

God saw to it that Leah, the unloved of Jacob’s wives, bore children quickly and frequently, while Rachel remained barren. Four boys had arrived before Rachel took action. Those four, though, were carefully named; “See, a son” (Reuben), “heard” (by God, Simeon), “attached” (to her husband, Levi), and “praise” (the Lord, Judah). Each name meant something to Leah and her situation. Each emphasized her wishes, desires, and intentions. Present culture has largely rejected meaning as a motivation in choosing names. Family lineage, trending names (they cycle in and out of popularity), and uniqueness (even if it’s an unusual spelling) appear to be primary naming criteria. Names mean something to God. He changed Abraham’s, Sarah’s, and Jacob’s. If we presume to wear His name by calling on Him as Father (1 Pet. 1:17), it better mean something to us as well.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did Jacob respond to Rachel’s demand? (30:2)
  • To what is Rachel’s finally having a child attributed? (30:22)
  • What had Laban come to understand about his prosperity? (30:27)
  • Did Jacob’s action effect the outcome of the flock’s offspring? (30:27ff)

My Delight is the Lord, February 24

February 24, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: John 1:19-51

Hearing the Voice

Religious authorities recognized something special about John. That’s obvious from the questions they posed. Was he the Messiah? Elijah? the Prophet? All three were persons expected by the Jews to be sent from God (details about each and their roles varied among the Jews). When he denied identity with any of these, he’s finally asked to speak for himself. John claimed to be nothing more than a voice preparing for one so superior to himself that he wasn’t worthy to carry out even the lowliest act of service on His behalf. John pointed them to Jesus. So, someone whom they suspected could very well be sent from God says that they need to be looking to another person far greater than himself and they don’t follow the lead? Before we become critical, how often have we rejected or been oblivious to the “voices” that are pointing us to God, Jesus, His word, or His church?

Questions to Ponder:

  • From whom were these questioners sent? (v. 24)
  • What is the significance of Jesus as “the Lamb of God”? (v. 36)
  • Whom did Andrew bring to Jesus? (v. 41)
  • How did Philip identify Jesus? (v. 45)

My Delight is the Lord, February 23

February 23, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

TLJT

Jesus doesn’t just tell us what to do and what not to do. Unfortunately that is the sum comprehension of what following Jesus and the exercise of faith is all about to far too many disciples. No doubt, Jesus tells us there are some things we should do; love your neighbor, love your enemy, pray, forgive, care for ones in need, and so on. He also forbids other things; immoral behavior, self-righteousness, using demeaning, hurtful, or careless words, and on that list goes too. It is not only behaviors and actions, good or bad, for which Jesus is concerned. He wants inside our heads. It isn’t just that we do as He did, but that we would think as He thought. The “Beatitudes” address thought processes as much as anything, don’t they? Aren’t these talking about values, attitudes, motivations, priorities, commitments and the like? I would submit a better mantra than WWJD (“What would Jesus do?” in case you’ve forgotten), would be TLJT–think like Jesus thought. The “doing,” then, would take care of itself.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who are the “poor in spirit”? (v. 3)
  • What, from the world’s perspective, is better than being meek? (v. 5)
  • What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? (v. 6)
  • What is an outcome of pursuing righteousness? (v. 10)

My Delight is the Lord, February 22

February 22, Monday: God is… 

Scripture Reading: Psalm 10

May I Help You?

The true measure of a great nation, it is said, is not its military strength, the soundness of its economy, its educational opportunities or technological advancements. Rather, it is the way it treats its weakest and most vulnerable citizens. Might the same measure be applied to us personally? How do we treat those people who serve us? Those weaker and more feeble than we? Those whom we view as not being able to contribute to our advance at all? Think on this. Truly God is “king for ever and ever, the nations perish from his land” (v. 16). None is mightier than He. How is that measured? In this instance the next verse goes on to speak of His hearing the afflicted and strengthening their heart, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed (vv. 17-18). It’s true, greatness is not measured by whom you can overpower or outdo, but rather by whom you can help.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Does God always feel near? (v. 1)
  • In what does the wicked boast? (v. 3)
  • Why do the wicked prosper? (v. 5)
  • How does the wicked interpret God’s lack of immediate action? (v. 11)

My Delight is the Lord, February 21

February 21, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 17

Right?

I am right. At least I believe myself to be. The alternative is that I am wrong. Not that such is impossible, but if I’m wrong and I know I’m wrong and I don’t do anything to change or correct that, what does that say about me?  This is how David feels in this Psalm. His cause is just. He is free from deceit. He is right (vv. 1-2). In essence he begins the Psalm by expecting God to do right by him because he is right. The not-so-subtle implication being that if God fails to do so, it is a reflection on Him. Notice v. 7, though. “Wondrously show your steadfast love.” This is where it’s at. Not my goodness, not my righteousness, not my purity, but God’s faithfulness, steadfastness, love, kindness, and mercy. All of that, and more, is behind the word for “steadfast love”. Any time and in any way that God does good for us it is truly wondrous, because it is He who is good.

Questions to Ponder:

  • If God’s goodness to us is based on Himself, what place is there for our obedience? (vv. 3-5)
  • For whom is God Savior? (v. 7)
  • What is God called on to do? (v. 13)
  • What is the “portion” of the “men of the world”? (v. 14). Of David? (v. 15)

My Delight is the Lord, February 20

February 20, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

 Scripture Reading: Genesis 31:1-32:32

When Bad Times Are Good

Jacob’s time in Laban’s house was a mixed bag. He found there his two wives. He prospered greatly while with his father-in-law. Almost all of his children were born during this time frame. But Jacob was miserable. His father-in-law proved himself a dishonest, manipulative, and jealous man. Every time things went well for Jacob, Laban did what he could to sabotage his own daughters’ husband. When it finally got to be too much to bear, Jacob escaped while Laban was off sheering sheep. Think about this though, it was this time of Jacob’s life where he learned humility, forbearance, and trust in God. Jacob left a better man than when he had come to Laban. Character is forged in the crucible of trials, not in the enjoyment of convenience, ease, and pleasure.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What initiated Jacob’s return home? (31:3)
  • What warning did God give Laban? (31:24)
  • What kind of arrangement did Laban and Jacob make? (31:44)
  • How did Jacob regard God’s treatment of him? (32:10)