Monthly Archives: April 2016

My Delight is the Lord, April 30

Beware the Unguarded Moment

April 30, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Numbers 20:1-13

Life can change in a moment of time. An unguarded action has the potential to alter our future. Moses learned that lesson in a very hard way. Meribah stands as his personal monument to this reality. As Psalm 106 says in rather understated terms about this incident, “it went ill with Moses” (v. 32). The same Psalm’s commentary is that “they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips” (v. 33). Whether it is something said or a decision made or an emotional reaction, we can end up “setting on fire the entire course of life” (3:6). What a sobering prospect and a chilling reminder of the diligent, fervent, and persistent care we must exercise in controlling self; truly fruit born of God’s Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:23).

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did the people say they wished had happened (v. 3)
  • Of what did God accuse Moses? (v. 12)
  • Compare the statements of v. 12 and Lev. 10:3.
  • How did God show Himself holy through the people at Meribah? (v. 13)

My Delight is the Lord, April 29

Learning Something Unexpected

April 29, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Numbers 13:1-14:19

What was it hoped that the spies would learn from going into the promised land? They learned that the land was exactly what God said it would be, flowing with milk and honey (13:27; Ex. 3:8). They also found it to be inhabited by the very people whom God said would be there (v. 13:28-29; Ex. 3:17). So far, they have learned nothing they did not already know. Apparently, the only new information they did learn was about themselves. The learned that they trusted more in their own ability (or inability as it turns out) than they did in God’s promise. They said, “We are not able to go up against the people” (13:31). Even with the counsel of Joshua and Caleb that “the Lord…will bring us into the land and give it to us” (14:8), they refused. When confronted with what God has told us, we may learn more about ourselves than anything else.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How long were the spies gone? (13:25)
  • What course of action did the people decide on? (14:4)
  • Whom did the people fear? (14:9)
  • What were God’s “signs” intended to accomplish? (14:12)

My Delight is the Lord, April 28

Jealousy and Envy

April 28, Thursday: God’s People 

Scripture Reading: Numbers 12:1-16

It must be a common problem. Aaron and Miriam had it. Korah, Dathan, Abiram and 250 of their followers had it (see Num. 16:1-3). What is “it”? Jealousy and envy.  Moses’ siblings’ question was, “Has he Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” (v. 2). Korah’s gang said they were just as qualified to lead as were Moses and Aaron. No doubt, God was using Moses in very mighty and impressive ways. “Well, why not me?” is the question many were asking. “I’m just as important and capable. I should be in that same place of leadership and [apparent] honor.” It is so easy to think like that. About Aaron and Miriam it says, “And the Lord heard it” (v. 2). God’s choice and use of whom He will is irreproachable. It does not escape His attention when we think He’s missed the boat by not using us the same way He does someone else. He hears what we are “saying” as well.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What prompted Aaron and Miriam’s criticism? (v. 1)
  • What virtue did Moses possess to great degree than anyone? (v. 3)
  • What compliment did God pay to Moses? (v. 7)
  • Why did God punish Miriam and not Aaron? (v. 10)

My Delight is the Lord, April 27

Intelligent?

April 27, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 8:26-39

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. Granted, more evidence to the contrary exists than I would like to admit, but still, I think it is true. But what makes a person intelligent? Is it knowledge? Or is it something beyond that? Here on the shore of Galilee, Jesus encountered a demon (technically, many demons) who knew with clarity what seemed to escape most men; that Jesus of Nazareth was in reality Son of the Most High God (v. 28). Later, the residence of this area were confronted with the results of the incredible power of God’s Son evidenced in the radical transformation in the involuntary host of the demon–the healed man. What did they do? The asked Jesus to “depart from them” (v. 37). How intelligent was that? How intelligent are individuals, families, communities, governments, cultures who invite Jesus to leave?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What efforts had been made to control this demon-possessed man? (v. 29)
  • What permission did Legion ask? (v. 33)
  • Why would Jesus allow for such destruction of private property? (v. 33)
  • What was the emotional response of the area’s residents? (vv. 35, 37)

My Delight is the Lord, April 26

The Speed of Your Faith

April 26, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: James 1:19-27

At what speed does your faith operate? Now there’s a question you may not have heard before. But James talks about the speed of our faith; and by faith here, it is the practice of our faith. He identifies hearing as what we should be quick about but slow in speaking and anger (v. 19). How about us? What are we quick about and when are we slow? Am I quick to jump to conclusions, to be critical, to be harsh and judgmental, to talk about someone, and to let my emotions get away from me? Am I slow to be gracious, and kind, and forgiving, and forbearing, and merciful, and joyful? Am I quick where I should be slow and slow where I should be quick? Just like driving a car, it’s not just that it can go fast or slow, but it’s doing so when it should. Otherwise, it’s very dangerous. So it is with our faith.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What does it mean to be quick to hear? (v. 19)
  • What should be the goal of what is produced in our lives? (v. 20)
  • How do we sometimes deceive ourselves? (v. 22)
  • What can make our religion worthless? (v. 26)

My Delight is the Lord, April 25

God on My Side or Me On His?

April 25, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Psalm 35

Among the multitude of issues raised by a civil war–the very words being an oxymoron–is one of fellow citizens doing battle with each other, brother fighting brother, ones who otherwise share in common so much being pitted in mortal combat as opponents. And what about one of those commonalities being faith in God? During the American Civil War it was quite common for prayers to be offered from both sides invoking God’s blessing on their “cause.” President Lincoln is purported to have said that he was much more interested in being on God’s side than in asking God to be on his. So, the only way for it to work that God would “contend…with those who contend with me” and to “fight against those who fight against me,” is if I truly am on His side.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What does one’s soul want to hear from God? (v. 3)
  • Who is called upon to act on behalf of the righteous? (vv. 5-6)
  • Upon whose behalf does God act? (v. 10)
  • What do those who delight in righteousness say? (v. 27)

My Delight is the Lord, April 24

Beyond the Extreme

April 24, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 36

We are at a loss when it comes to understanding and describing God. He is above all that we know, beyond what we can fully perceive, superior to our very highest thoughts, and infinite in every way. Inadequacy is one reality of man’s perception of God and his ability to give expression to Him. So, we are left to use the known to describe the unknown and the familiar to express the incomprehensible. Scripture uses human experience–to the extreme–in this challenging endeavor. The heavens, clouds, mountains, and the deep (all places men at that time had not visited) are attached to the steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, and judgments of God (vv. 5-6). So, it’s the best he could do to bring some semblance of comprehension. And really, for all of our advanced knowledge, we could do no better now than they did then.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What “speaks” to the wicked? What does not? (v. 1)
  • What lie does he tell to himself? (v. 2)
  • How would you describe what God provides (see vv. 8-9)
  • To whom are God’s steadfast love and righteousness extended? (v. 10)

My Delight is the Lord, April 23

Atonement is Central

April 23, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Leviticus 16:1-34

Whether intentional or not, this chapter lies at the heart of the Pentateuch. Leviticus is the middle book of the five and chapter 16 is near the middle of the book. What is apparently true physically, is absolutely true spiritually and emotionally. The Day of Atonement, explained and instructed here, is the highest, holiest day in Israel’s calendar. This is the day the atoning sacrifice is made, the atoning blood is sprinkled. “For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins” (v. 30). This is what assured God’s people at this time of His forgiveness. But it was just a shadow of the reality that would be–and is–the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And we understand the “greater” sacrifice better in light of this “lesser” one.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What would happen to Aaron if he entered the Holy Place on his own? (v. 2)
  • For whom did atonement have to be made first? (v. 6)
  • What role did the two goats play? (vv. 8-10)
  • For what else was atonement made? (v. 16)

My Delight is the Lord, April 22

Using God’s Blessings Against Him

April 22, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Exodus 32:1-35

What happened with the golden calf at Sinai was so wrong on so many levels. Where did former slaves (it’s only been a few months since they left Egypt) get all this gold from which Aaron made the image? It was the gold earrings (among other things) they were given by the Egyptians as plunder (v. 2; Ex. 3:22). This was all part of the promised blessing of God (see Gen. 15:14). So, in other words, they were using the very blessings given by God in an act of blatant, sinful rebellion against Him. Wow! Before we get all uppity and critical of them, let’s think. How has God blessed us materially? Have these “blessings” ever gotten in the way of or even become a greater priority than God Himself? Is it time to dismount our spiritual high horse and ask forgiveness?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What initially prompted this sin? (v. 1)
  • What even was attributed to this god? (v. 4)
  • How did God describe the Israelites? (v. 7)
  • What did God propose? (v. 10)

My Delight is the Lord, April 21

Treat Him as Holy

April 21, Thursday: God’s People

 Scripture Reading: Leviticus 10:1-20

Sometimes in reading Scripture we are left to ponder and to think and make observations and draw conclusions. At other times explicit, declarative statements are made. It’s all very straightforward. Add to that times when God acts in very spectacular and conspicuous ways and the message is proclaimed with dramatic emphasis. Such is the incident of Nadab and Abihu. God’s action in sending fire from heaven to consume these men on the spot was as startling as His message was frank; “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored” (v. 3; NASB). If we have any inclination toward God at all, we better have as our highest priority and strongest motivation His holiness and knowing what truly honors Him.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the fire used by Nadab and Abihu described? (v. 1)
  • What had fire from heaven done prior to this incident? (see 9:24)
  • What can we learn about spiritual/familial relationships from this?
  • What distinctions are to be maintained? (v. 10)