Monthly Archives: May 2016

My Delight is the Lord, May 31

The Worst Atheism

May 31, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: James 4:13-5:6

I’ve heard that every successful business starts with a solid business plan. Here is such a plan (4:13). It includes location and time frame and the planned approach. It’s just missing one thing; it fails to consider life’s uncertainty and God’s role in the affairs of men. To plan and act and propose without any consideration of God makes such a one no different than he who claims there is no God at all. How is acting as if there is no God any better than exclaiming there is none? This “practical” atheism, as it is sometimes called, is more damaging than the theoretical  atheism that just talks about it. One who fails to acknowledge God minimizes Him as a factor unworthy of consideration as the plans of life are laid. At all times and in all things, God’s will is the primary concern.

Questions to Ponder:

  • To what is our life compared? (4:14)
  • What sin is being committed? (4:16)
  • What will be used as evidence in the judgment? (5:3)
  • What lifestyle is condemned in 5:5?

My Delight is the Lord, May 30

No Pity Parties

May 30, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Psalm 13

Pity parties are no fun, but sometimes we find ourselves right in the middle of the “festivities.” Self doubt, worry, anxiety, and other negative thinking occasionally come out of nowhere like a flood and fill our thoughts. We know it’s not emotionally healthy; it’s not productive of any good. But, it’s a reality none the less. Here’s the biblical version of a pity party: “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (vv. 1-2). What breaks this cycle of negativity? Plant your mind, instead, on His steadfast love. Rejoice in His salvation. Sing to Him for all the bountiful good He has done (vv. 5-6). If our minds fill with anything, make sure it’s the goodness of God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why is “How long?” such a frequent question? (vv. 1-2)
  • What does it mean to “take counsel in my soul”? (v. 2)
  • What level of despair is being experienced? (v. 3)
  • How has the Lord “dealt bountifully” with you? (v. 6)

My Delight is the Lord, May 29

Mercy Me!

May 29, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 57

What do you want most from God? One thing. What would it be? Take your time. How about mercy? “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me” (v. 1). There’s really no better petition with which to come to God. The justified tax collector was such because his humble prayer was, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk. 18:13). Asking for mercy is itself an act of humility. To request mercy is to acknowledge one’s own unworthiness. If it’s mercy that I know I need, then I am very much in tune with my fault, my failing, and my sin. I do not want from God what I am owed. I don’t want what I deserve. I need God–and I want God–to be merciful to me.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whose purposes are being fulfilled? (v. 2)
  • How does he describe his predicament? (v. 4)
  • What attributes of God do you find in this Psalm?
  • What refrain is repeated in vv. 5 and 11?

My Delight is the Lord, May 28

Missed Glory

May 28, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

 Scripture Reading: Judges 4:1-24

Deborah, the remarkable female judge and prophetess in Israel, told timid Barak that though God was calling him to lead 10,000 men against Israel’s enemy, “the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory” (v. 9). To his credit, Barak went anyway. We are all after glory. We just have to be careful about the kind we seek. Some want personal glory, the kind Deborah said would escape Barak. That’s well enough because men’s glory is exceedingly short lived and wholly unsatisfying. Far superior is the road that ends in “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7). I wish to be on that road which leads to that glory.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What roles did Deborah fill? (v. 4)
  • Under what condition did Barak say he would go? (v. 8)
  • Who killed the enemy commander? (v. 21)
  • How did she do it?

My Delight is the Lord, May 27

God Blesses and Corrects

May 27, Friday: God’s Story (1)

 Scripture Reading: Judges 2:1-3:6

God gives and He blesses. We like that, very much, about God and are quite welcoming of His work in that regard. He also disciplines and corrects. It’s the same God. These actions are not contradictory or at cross purposes with the previous ones. Do we suddenly become resistant and less enthusiastic about this work of God? It’s just as much a result of His love and caring for us as are His blessings. “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’’ is Job’s question (Job 2:10; NASB). The time of the Judges is a repeated cycle of God demonstrating His love and care for His people through adversity and discipline. It’s a hard but necessary lesson.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who spoke to all the people of Israel? (2:4)
  • Of what was the next generation ignorant? (2:10)
  • The people served Baals as they also did what? (v. 13)
  • Whom did God use to save the people? (v. 16)

My Delight is the Lord, May 26

Impossible or Not?

May 26, Thursday: God’s People

 Scripture Reading: Joshua 10:1-15

What makes something impossible? Not just improbable, but impossible? It’s true that there are accomplishments that are common place today that at one time were believed to be and touted as impossible. A human being running a mile in under four minutes time was once thought to be beyond human limits. It was also once believed that a heavier-than-air flying machine could not be devised. Not that it was hard to do, but that it could not be done. What happened? Men expanded their knowledge and comprehension. They refined over and again, their efforts. Before long, what had all along been impossible, became possible. Previous limitations had been surpassed. So, “the sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day” (v. 13). Impossible, right? For whom? Does God, who made the earth and sun and everything else, have any limitations? Identifying the “problems” created by the sun standing still, does not keep God from doing what I cannot understand.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was the status of the Gibeonites? (v. 2)
  • How had the Gibeonites “made peace” with Joshua? (v. 4)
  • What assurance did God give Joshua? (v. 8)
  • What did God use to assist in the battle? (v. 11)

My Delight is the Lord, May 25

Peter’s Admirable Blunders

May 25, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

 Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:22-33

Oh Peter! He got into more trouble with Jesus than any other apostle (excepting Judas, of course). Jesus called him “Satan” (Matt. 16:23), made devastating eye contact with him at his biggest blunder (Lk. 22:61), even God responded directly to his hair-trigger suggestion (Matt. 17:4-5). Here Jesus directly rebukes his lack of faith (v. 31). I sure wouldn’t want to be like Peter…or would I? Every time Peter messes up it’s in the context of trying to be near, to defend, or to extoll Jesus. He got into trouble trying to do His best for the one He loved most. It’s better to fail trying than to be guilty of failing to try for fear of failing. It’s not without reason that it’s Peter who is honored by having his words recorded in Acts 2. Jesus knows how to rebuke and He knows how to bless. More Peters are actually in order.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why did Jesus dismiss the crowds? (see John 6:15)
  • Where did Jesus go? With whom? For what reason? (v. 23)
  • How did the apostles identify what they saw? (v. 26)
  • Did Peter actually walk on water? (v. 29)

My Delight is the Lord, May 24

Prayer Motives

May 24, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

 Scripture Reading: James 4:1-12

Prayer challenges us. We’re convinced (hopefully) of its necessity. We struggle, though, to see the correlation between what we ask and what we see happening. James identifies a core issue in prayer and that is our motivation for asking. “[Y]ou ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (v. 3). Consequently, you do not receive. From there he immediately launches into the peril of friendship with the world, which will make us God’s enemy (v. 4). Are our minds and our thinking, and therefore our desires, more worldly or godly in nature? How easily we can be like Peter whose mind was set–wholly unintentionally–on the things of the world and not of God (Matt. 16:23). James has a way of hitting us–sometimes painfully–right where we live. What most motivates our prayers?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is the source of any quarrel among brethren? (v. 1)
  • To whom is God’s grace directed? (v. 6)
  • Is it fitting for Christians to identify as sinners? (v. 8)
  • What role is not ours to play? (v.v. 11-12)

My Delight is the Lord, May 23

Do We Know What We Want?

May 23, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 32:36-44

Sometimes what we think we want, we really wouldn’t want at all if we knew what it was. We don’t always know what God is up to. And that is likely for the best. But, when we don’t like what we see it troubles us. “What possible good could come of this?” we wonder. That’s just it. We don’t, or rather can’t, see the good and that’s why it bothers us. That doesn’t mean there is none. That doesn’t mean God can’t cause it to happen. He’s not obligated to keep us informed nor gain our approval for what He does. In this passage God has driven His people away in His anger and indignation. That’s troubling. But, He will gather them. What He does will be for their good. His purpose will be served. “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (v. 38). We may think we’d like to know God’s plans. But, do you think we’d be any happier knowing them ahead of time, or rather to just trust Him that it will be for our good?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What city is under consideration? (v. 36)
  • What is the historical setting? (vv. 36-37)
  • What two did God say He’d bring on His people? (v. 42)
  • Why is the buying and selling of property mentioned? (v. 44)

My Delight is the Lord, May 22

A Tree in the House

May 22, Sunday: Praise God

 Scripture Reading: Psalm 52

A tree in the house? Talk about your mixed metaphors. And no, this isn’t talking about a holiday celebration or a greenhouse. It’s specifically an olive tree in God’s house (v. 8). What is going on here? First, a green tree represents the righteous; strong, flourishing, and a blessing to those around it (Psa. 1:3; Gen. 49:22). Of course being in God’s house is the ultimate (Psa. 23:6; 27:4). This, in the Psalm, is in contrast to those who boast of evil, love evil, and lie (vv. 1-4). Their trust is in their wealth and their plans and desires are aimed at self promotion. But for all their work, “God will break you down forever, he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living” (v. 5). “But I,”–here we go–“I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.” Boom!

Questions to Ponder:

  • With what is the evil of men contrasted? (v. 1)
  • How would you describe the ones depicted in vv. 2-4?
  • What will the response of the righteous be? (v. 6)
  • What is the fundamental problem of the wicked? (v. 7)