Monthly Archives: July 2016

My Delight is the Lord, July 31

Irritating

July 31, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 83

God is irritating, isn’t He? I know that’s sounds harsh or even disrespectful, but it isn’t. It is honest, though. Think about it; why do we experience irritation? Is it not because people or circumstances or situations are not what we think they should be?  Is not God pretty famous for that? failing to meet our expectations? He’s always right and good and wise. We are not. What He thinks and what He does infinitely surpasses our own thoughts and actions (Isa. 55:8-9). We should expect that what God does won’t match what we are thinking. So, we end up sounding just like this Psalm, “O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!” (v. 1). How many of our appeals to God are for Him to act like we think He should? Really, we’re trying to quell our irritation.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How are God’s people described in v. 3?
  • Whose descendants are these enemies of God’s people? (v. 8)
  • What are these enemies requested to be made like? (v. 13)
  • What is suggested as the reason for God to take action? (vv. 16, 18)

My Delight is the Lord, July 30

Got It?

July 30, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 13:1-34

Here’s an easy question; how many times does God have to say something for it to be important and regarded as weighty? Once, right? So, if a lesson is ever deliberately repeated in Scripture is that not a means of giving emphasis? So, God sends a prophet to confront the king for his sin. When Jeroboam gave orders to seize God’s messenger the very hand with which he pointed withered on the spot. That got the rebellious monarch’s attention. Now he wants the same prophet to pray for his healing. Upon refusing Jeroboam’s offer of reward, as per God’s command, the messenger begins his way home. Here’s the repeated lesson. He succumbed to the suggestion of an unscrupulous prophet and went into the man’s house, contrary to God’s command, and it cost him his life. The lesson? You cannot disregard God’s instruction and not pay a very heavy price. Got it?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is remarkable about the prophet’s prophecy? (v. 2)
  • What action was taken in response to the prophet’s message? (v. 5)
  • How did the older prophet convince the younger one to come to his house? (v. 18)
  • What was the ultimate effect on Jeroboam? (v. 33)

My Delight is the Lord, July 29

Youth Infatuation

July 29, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 12:1-33

We’ve all heard the “30 is the new 20” or “50 is the new 30” kind of talk. It’s all based on the widely accepted assumption that younger is better. Without question youth has some decided advantages; strength, vigor, and energy, for just a small sample size. We’ve also attached ideas like fresh-thinking, bold, and fearless to the mix. This really isn’t an old v. young rant from a 50-something author. But it is true that excessive infatuation with youth is both unfounded and fool hardy. To find experience, wisdom, and a track record requires the accumulation of some years. The passing of time can (but doesn’t always) take off some rough edges and tone down some brashness. Rehoboam’s error was to defer to youth. That’s very popular  and unnecessary mistake.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom had the old men previously served? (v. 6)
  • What lesson do you learn from Rehoboam’s mistake?
  • Why did God refuse to let Rehoboam fight? (v. 24)
  • What was the basis of Jeroboam’s actions? (v. 33)

My Delight is the Lord, July 28

Our Own Worst Enemy

July 28, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 18:1-30

Saul’s story is so tragic. What began as a remarkable “a-nobody-makes-it-big” scenario quickly peaked and descended into a morass of bitterness, jealousy, and hatred. Unfortunately, David sat in the crosshairs of all this extreme negative emotion. When Saul honored David, everyone thought that was a good thing (v. 5). But when those same people honored David’s accomplishments over the king’s it turned ugly. Notice, “Saul eyed David from that day on” (v. 9), “Saul was afraid of David” (v. 12), “he [Saul] stood in fearful awe of him [David]” (v. 15), “Saul was even more afraid of David” (v. 29). Some people are so small (emotionally and spiritually) that they cannot be happy for someone else’s successes. All of this was in response to Saul’s growing awareness that God was with David (see vv. 12, 15, 28). The poor king’s pettiness destroyed him. He was most certainly correct that there was a problem, but it wasn’t David, it was himself.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is Jonathan’s affection for David measured? (v. 1)
  • What is “a harmful spirit from God”? (v. 10)
  • How did David see himself? (v. 23)
  • What was Saul’s plan for David’s death? (v. 25)

My Delight is the Lord, July 27

Whose Is the Kingdom? 

July 27, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:33-46

Well this is quite a sobering thought. People can lay claim to God, His blessings, His will, and His kingdom and yet miss it all completely. The Jewish people were direct descendants of Abraham. They had the land God promised the patriarch. The temple was right there in Jerusalem. For centuries they had been recognized as God’s chosen people. Their history was one long remarkable story of God’s direct interaction with them. They had it all; the lineage, the Scriptures, the covenant, the religious institutions and rituals–it was all theirs! But Jesus said that despite all of this the kingdom would be taken from them and “given to a people producing its fruit” (v. 43). We may lay claim to being God’s kingdom. We have the name, the doctrine, the organization, the worship, and a pretty good story to boot. But all of that, on its own, is not what places the kingdom in our possession. Producing the kingdom’s fruit, that’s where its at!

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom does the “master of a house” represent? (v. 33)
  • How about the tenants of the vineyard? (v. 33)
  • What about the master’s servants and son? (vv. 34-37)
  • What is “this stone”? (v. 44)

My Delight is the Lord, July 26

Never Be a Cause for Sin

July 26, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Mark 9:42-50

Sin is bad. We really don’t understand how bad it is; it separates us from God, it stains our soul, it ruthlessly destroys, and it requires nothing less that Jesus’ own blood to remedy. Jesus brings to our attention concern for sin’s cause. What prompts it? What serves as an influence that results in sin? Jesus’ warning is chilling. Do not, at any cost, be the cause for “one of these little ones” to sin (v. 42). Further, you would be better off to purposefully maim and disfigure your own body if some part of it were the reason for sin (vv. 43-47). That’s strong language. What in your own life serves as an entry point for sin? Think about it; a person, an activity, a habit, an event, a technology device? It could be anything. No measure would be too extreme to eliminate this avenue for sin, especially if it is something much loved and cherished. The price of failure here, is just far too high.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who are “these little ones”? (v. 42)
  • How is hell described? (v. 44)
  • To what does “kingdom of God” refer? (v. 47)
  • What does it mean to be “salted with fire”? (v. 49)

My Delight is the Lord, July 25

Will We Fear?

July 25, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Psalm 46

“We will not fear,” or so the Bible says (v. 2). Even though “the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea…” (v. 2). The author of this Psalm chose to use physical, geographical features (the earth and mountains) to express dramatic upheaval, change, and shifting of otherwise firm, solid, and permanent realities. Whether it’s things like our home or hometown, family, other relationships, our health, financial standing, job/career, our nation, its government, the constitution, our “home” congregation, or whatever–if any, or all, of it gave way, how could we say, “we will not fear”? It can only be when our highest priority, our supreme loyalty, and our ultimate desire resides with God. It’s when the “city of God,” His “holy habitation,” is the object of our yearnings (v. 4). It’s when He alone is our fortress. It’s because “the Lord of hosts is with us” that we will not fear (v. 7).

Questions to Ponder:

  • What thoughts and ideas are stimulated by v. 4?
  • What is greater than the raging of nations? (v. 6)
  • In this context, what does it mean to “be still”? (v. 10)
  • What does “Lord of hosts” mean? (v. 11)

My Delight is the Lord, July 24

Ugly Faith

July 24, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 77

So what about when faith is ugly? What? One thing that the Bible does so much better than we do (among so very many things) is to be honest and real about what it means to be people of faith. We have ideals, goals, purposes and intentions, and expectations that are all of the very highest order. You know, that we be steadfast and immovable, always rejoicing, compassionate and merciful and kind and gracious, our speech always seasoned with salt, and so on. But we are not paragons of consistency or holiness or virtue. We may do well at times and have the best intentions and hold ourselves to very high standards. But honestly, we have days of trouble, we get weary, we moan, and our spirit faints (vv. 2-3). We fall so far short of what we want, we don’t like it, and it’s not very pretty. What you do here is critical. This Psalm begins, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.” If we’ll start where this Psalm starts, we’ll soon see those better days.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why would one moan when they remember God? (v. 3)
  • What is key to getting over difficult times? (vv. 11-12)
  • What events may be under consideration in vv. 16-19?
  • How are Moses and Aaron depicted? (v. 20)

My Delight is the Lord, July 23

Does the Queen Inspire or Condemn Me?

July 23, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 10:1-29

Jesus saw something special about the queen of Sheba (Matt. 12:42). Her good actions have the effect of condemnation. On whom and why? He said it’s because she took extreme measures to pursue the wisdom of God as found in Solomon. And, as He said, “something greater than Solomon is here.” What characterizes my pursuit of God’s wisdom as found in His Son and His word? Is it convenience, lip service, sporadic, occasional, well-intentioned, or maybe something else? The queen came honestly, thoughtfully, at great expense, well prepared, overcoming difficulty (think of ancient travel and the distance involved), committed, with persistence, humbly, and thankfully. What impact does she have on me? Inspiration or condemnation?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was the queen’s initial response to reports about Solomon? (v. 7)
  • For what purpose did Solomon reign? (v. 9)
  • Of whom was Solomon greater? How? (v. 23)
  • How is the wealth of the nation described? (v. 27)

My Delight is the Lord, July 22

In Pursuit of God’s Will

July 22, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 8:1-66

At times the noble and good thing that we would do, we shouldn’t; and a noble and good thing we never intended gets thrust upon us. Think about David, Solomon, and the temple. David wanted to build it and that intention was good, but he did not (v. 18). Solomon built it, not because the desire originated with Him, it was the promise of God to his father (v. 19). Here’s the point: are we so self-centered that we believe every thing we want to do, we should? Especially the “good” stuff? And, that if something originates with someone else, it is not worthy of our consideration or effort? On full display with the construction of the temple is the God-centeredness of David who did not pursue his own good desire and of Solomon who embraced the task decided for him. We can attempt to make God and faith a feature of our self-driven lives, or we make Him the core and foundation and selflessly pursue His will.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is spoken of three times in connection with a house for God? (vv. 16-18)
  • What distinguishes God? (v. 23)
  • What is the theme of Solomon’s prayer? (vv. 30, 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49)
  • What is said about God’s promises in v. 56?