Monthly Archives: September 2016

My Delight is the Lord, September 30

Differing Responses

September 30, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Ezra 1:1-11; 3:1-13

A singular event can elicit from different people, very different responses. Such was the case of the temple’s foundation being laid under Zerubbabel’s leadership. Some shouted praise for their great joy, others mourned and wept. No doubt part of the reason was the event being viewed from different perspectives. Some had only known the captivity out of which they just came and this was a great, new beginning. No wonder they praised God. Others, by virtue of their age, could remember the utter devastation felt when the previous temple as destroyed. They knew the nation’s sin had brought God’s severe punishment. They had fallen so far and building out of this rubble stirred bitter memories. Here’s a great reminder; not everyone is going to see things as we do, nor we as they do.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who is credited with stirring up Cyrus? (1:1)
  • What claim did Cyrus make? (1:2)
  • What was the first act of the returning group? (3:2)
  • For what was God extolled? (3:11)

My Delight is the Lord, September 29

Sin is Sin

September 29, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 9:1-37

I like to feel good. I prefer the pleasant to the distasteful, the enjoyable to the painful, and the beautiful to the hideous. But, the reality of life and the world we occupy is that the distasteful, painful, and hideous are as real as are the niceties. Though we don’t pursue and embrace those negatives, neither should we attempt to sanitize our lives of them completely. The Bible doesn’t do that. Enter Jehu. Though hardly an upstanding character, he was an instrument of God’s judgment against Israel and Judah. The accounts of his exploits are far from pleasant. That’s because God, through him, was addressing sin. The Bible just doesn’t allow for sin to be seen as anything than its awful self. It is, at best, distasteful, painful, and hideous.

Questions to Ponder:

  • With what job was Jehu tasked? (v. 7)
  • Where did Jehu and Joram meet? (v. 21)
  • What was the reason there was no peace? (v. 22)
  • What was left of Jezebel when they went to bury her? (v. 35)

My Delight is the Lord, September 28

Endure Troubles

September 28, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 21:1-38

On one hand we’re convinced that what Jesus wants for us is the very best. On the other hand, we may not follow through on what He says we should do. For instance, He has been warning in this text about some very challenging times ahead for His followers; these will include persecution, natural disasters, “terrors,” and claims by false teachers. (These had to do primarily with the destruction of Jerusalem, an event long passed, but the principle remains valid). About these things Jesus encourages two courses of action: alertness and prayer. He even says what should be prayed for; “that you may have strength to escape all these things” (v. 36). We will face hard times in following Jesus. He knows it. His intention for us, at times, is that we *gasp* endure by His help. Remember, He does want for us what is the very best.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What distinguished the widow’s giving? (v. 4)
  • What is the nature of the opportunity of v. 13?
  • What does Jesus say will happen to some of His followers? (v. 16)
  • What sign was to signal the disciples’ escape from Jerusalem? (v. 20)

My Delight is the Lord, September 27

Hidden Motives

September 27, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Luke 12:13-21

The man believed he was asking for what was fair (v. 13). Jesus knew the underlying motive wasn’t justice, but actually covetousness (v. 15). What a sobering lesson on motives. We can fool ourselves into thinking one thing, when something else entirely is the truth. Noble motives can serve as a mask for baser ones. It’s possible that we don’t even recognize what’s going on. The frequency with which the Bible warns us not to be deceived or to even deceive ourselves is evidence enough that we are all susceptible. What we want to be true or even what we believe to be true about ourselves, may not be true at all. Jesus’ warns soberly, “Take care, and be on your guard…” (v. 15). Any complacency to do so on our part should alert us that we’re likely already in trouble.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why should we guard against covetousness? (v. 15)
  • What was the rich man’s failing? (vv. 16-19)
  • What was required of the rich man? (v. 20)
  • What does it mean to be rich toward God? (v. 21)

My Delight is the Lord, September 26

Worship or Not?

September 26, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:14-28

So what is it that God wants? In one place He refuses the sacrifices that His people are making to Him (Isa. 1:11). In another place His objection is their failure to offer sacrifices (43:23-24). Can God not be pleased? Or rather does this not demonstrate that there is more than one way to fail God? If we do not do what He says, that’s an egregious mistake. It is to not “call upon” the Lord (v. 22). On the other hand, doing what God commands can also become an arena of error. God’s interest is every bit as much in why we are obeying Him as in that we are doing so. Are we thinking that obedience, on its own, will put us in His favor? Or, is it that from a motivation of deep love and devotion, we, above all else, wish to do His will? It’s wrong to not obey God. It’s just as wrong to do it with faulty motivations.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What four titles are claimed by God? (v. 15)
  • What might be the “old” and “new” things of vv. 18-19?
  • With what had Israel burdened God? (v. 24)
  • What invitation does God give Israel? (v. 26)

My Delight is the Lord, September 25

A New Song

September 25, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 96

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song” (v. 1; see also Psa. 33:3; 40:3; 98:1). What might that song be? And why a new one? Think about this; do you ever get tired of something through sheer repetition? Have you ever attempted to infuse new enthusiasm into an activity or relationship by shaking things up a bit? Have you ever gotten into a rut? Repetition and habitual activities aren’t a bad thing necessarily, but they do carry the potential to allow emotion to fade. They can be repeated without having to engage one’s mind, much less their heart. New can keep us on our toes. It has the capacity to reinvigorate long-faded feelings. And “new” may just be “new to me.” Incorporating the very language Scripture to extol Almighty Jehovah is, for many believers, a new experience. Why not break out of the comfort of the exclusive use of “tried and true” expressions and sing “a new song”?

Questions to Ponder:

  • With what frequency ought God to be praised? (v. 2)
  • How is the Lord distinguished from “all the gods”?  (v. 5)
  • In what is God to be worshipped? (v. 9)
  • How do trees sing? (v. 12)

My Delight is the Lord, September 24

Right is Right

September 24, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Daniel 6:1-28

A twisted axiom says, “No good deed goes unpunished.” I say it’s twisted because it suggests a wrong conclusion. A fact of life if that despite doing what is right and good, we may still suffer negatively. It would appear that we are being punished for the good we have done; thus, the axiom. Daniel was faithful and “no error or fault was found in him” (v. 4). That did not prevent unscrupulous men from attacking him. They could find no legitimate accusation, but their villainy proceeded. The fact that we may be blameless does not protect us from evil. If our anticipation is that doing what we should will always result in a positive outcome, we’ve not been paying attention. Right is right because it is right, not because it keeps us safe and secure.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why was Daniel given a prominent position? (v. 3)
  • Is honesty and integrity and antidote to evil? (v. 4)
  • When David knew the king’s decree what did he do? (v. 10)
  • What did the king want to do for Daniel? (v.14)

My Delight is the Lord, September 23

Worthless Knowledge

September 23, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Daniel 5:1-31

It’s one thing to know something, it’s another for what we know to make a difference. Knowledge is worthless if not put into action. That’s hardly a new revelation, but it is a lesson hard learned. Daniel announced to the Babylonian monarch God’s intention to overthrow his kingdom due to his vast arrogance. Daniel argues that Belshazzar should have had a humble heart. Why? Because he had witnessed how God had brought his father to understand that “Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will” (v. 21). “You knew all this,” Daniel reminds (v. 22). What do I already know, of which I need reminded?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Belshazzar put into use at his feast? (v. 2)
  • Who alerted Belshazzar to Daniel? (v. 10)
  • How did Belshazzar praise Daniel? (v. 14)
  • How is God described in v. 23?

My Delight is the Lord, September 22

Wise Lepers

September 22, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 7:1-20

These are some wise lepers. They experienced the good fortune of being the first into the enemy’s (Syrian) camp after the army had abandoned everything due to God’s ruse. Being motivated by what they believed to be eminent starvation, abundant food and riches were suddenly theirs for the taking. Their plundering was halted by the realization that what they did wasn’t right. How so? They were being silent. The “goodness” and “rightness” of this situation was incomplete if the bounty was only enjoyed; it must also be told. This speaks strongly to the Christian experience in both worship and evangelism. Are we giving voice to the bounty we enjoy? Are we doing right?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why was Elisha’s prediction so hard to believe? (see 6:24-25)
  • What reasoning led the lepers into the invading army’s camp? (v. 4)
  • Why did the lepers say what they did was not right? (v. 9)
  • How did the king’s captain die? (v. 17)

My Delight is the Lord, September 21

Labels and Failures

September 21, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 20:27-47

Sometimes people wear a label that is negative (or at least is thought to be). If there is truly anything wrong about them, it isn’t the label that makes them such, it’s whatever ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and/or actions they possess. For instance, the scribes Jesus encountered weren’t a problem because they were scribes–that was a noble profession–but there were some unfortunate qualities and failings that had become common among them. The same was true of Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests. Here’s the deal, one doesn’t have to wear the label to be guilty of the fault. We can’t dismiss Jesus’ teaching directed at these groups simply because we don’t happen to be one. This reading is filled with Jesus addressing their errors. Scribes and Sadducees may not be around today, but their mistakes have outlived them.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why would the Sadducees deny the resurrection? (v. 27)
  • Did the Sadducees argument appear reasonable? (vv. 28-33)
  • What is the point of Jesus’ argument? (vv. 41-44)
  • How were scribes regarded among the people? (v. 46)