Category Archives: Thursday–God’s People

My Delight is the Lord, December 29

Not Lukewarm

December 29, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:14-22

Extremists make us nervous. We prefer people to possess at least a modicum of balance. We would rather their “boat” stay an even keel. Well, that’s not always true. It was not true when Jesus spoke to the Laodiceans. He chided them for their lack of extreme, for their even temperament; or maybe we should say, temperature. Jesus could not stand their tepid spirituality. As a matter of fact He says it makes Him sick. Spirituality hot or cold either one is better than lukewarm! Think about that. As far as Jesus is concerned (and there is no other viewpoint that actually matters) only two valid possibilities exist, spiritually speaking. One ought never to console their conscience for not being on fire by saying, “Well, at least I’m not ice cold.” According to Jesus, as bad as it sounds, you’re better off saying, “At least I’m not lukewarm.”

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 14)
  • Upon basis did Jesus determine this church was lukewarm? (vv. 15-16)
  • How did these Christians see themselves? (v. 17)
  • What does Jesus do for those He loves? (v. 19)

My Delight is the Lord, December 22

Our Opportunities

December 22, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:7-13

Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done (Matt. 6:10). That’s not a petition for God to get busy, it’s about us and what we do. In other words, we’re not asking that God be able to accomplish what he wants–he can and he will. Instead, it’s a prayer that our own will be bent to conform to His; that we’ll become instruments for use in His hands. So Jesus tells the church at Philadelphia about an open door he’s set before them (v. 8). It’s their responsibility to see and seize this opportunity, whatever it was. For God’s will to be done in Philadelphia–or wherever we may be–means, among other things, taking hold of the opportunities God gives us. God’s will being done demands our getting busy, as well as keeping our eyes wide open.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 7)
  • For what two things is this church commended? (v. 8)
  • Compare what is said about trials in v. 10 and in 2:10.
  • What kind of crown is this in v. 11.

My Delight is the Lord, December 15

Asleep

December 15, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:1-6

Is it possible for a church (or an individual for that matter) to think their spiritual condition is fine, when it is not? Obviously, yes, it is possible and Sardis was just such a church. The fact that Jesus calls on them to wake up (v. 2) makes sense only if they are in a state of spiritual sleep; unaware of the reality of their condition. Of course, the problem is the power of self-deception. They perceived themselves to be alive, but it was not true. They were dead and did not know it. Was Jesus telling them so enough to break the spell of the lie they believed? We don’t know. Are we even willing to consider the possibility that we are self-deceived? How can we know? Well, we cannot ask ourselves. If we are deceived all we’ll hear is the lie. Since we can’t ask Jesus, what if, in humility and deference, we were to ask a respected outside party? Think about that.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 1)
  • How did Jesus know this church’s condition? (v. 1)
  • Was it too late for the church at Sardis? (v. 2)
  • What was Jesus going to do if they did not wake up? (v. 3)

My Delight is the Lord, December 8

Sin and the Response

December 8, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:18-29

The church at Thyatira was an admirable one with a big problem. Jesus commends their work, love, faith, service, and patient endurance. Not only that, but they were growing–nothing is said about numerical growth, but their works of late exceed earlier efforts (v. 19). Good job, Thyatira! “But, I have this against you,” notes marked change in the tone. They were tolerating someone in the church that they should not. Yes, this “Jezebel” woman was a real problem with her decidedly negative impact, even leading Christians into sexual immorality. Notice that Jesus’ issue with the church was not her influence of wickedness (He takes that up with her directly), rather it was how they dealt with her (actually, their failure to do so). Here we’re reminded that not only is sin the issue, but also how we respond to the sin of others.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 18)
  • Upon what basis does Jesus analyze a church? (v. 19)
  • What is Jesus threat to the Jezebel woman? (vv. 22-23)
  • What are the faithful Christians at Thyatira to do?

My Delight is the Lord, December 1

The Lord Knows

December 1, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:12-17

What an encouragement to be assured that the Lord knows.  He knows the hardships and struggles we face, as He did of the Pergamum church (v. 13). Their faithfulness to Him in the midst of serious persecution (even death) was not unnoticed (v. 13). That helps. But there’s another side to this as well. God not only knows the good things, He knows the bad as well. Our weaknesses and failings do not escape His notice. We cannot expect that what we’ve done well to make up for where we have failed . These Christians–the ones whom Jesus had just commended–were now called upon to repent or suffer the consequences (v. 17). If we’ve done good for God, that’s great. But we shouldn’t pretend that there’s not another side to this coin. In what ways do I need to address my own failures and wrongs?

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 12)
  • What is “Satan’s throne”? (v. 13)
  • What insight is here provided about the story of Balaam? (v. 14)
  • To whom is the promise made? (v. 17)

My Delight is the Lord, November 24

Faithful To Death

November 24, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:8-11

Let’s be sure that we understand this; Jesus knew that the church in Smyrna was about to undergo persecution. Some of them would even be thrown into prison. No indication is given that this was to happen in response to any sin on their part. As a matter of fact, this is one of only two churches receiving these seven letters about which nothing negative is said. Now, notice Jesus’ instruction in view of the impending tribulation. Or, first, notice what is not said. Jesus does not encourage them to escape. Neither does He promise to protect them from it. Instead He says, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer” (v. 10). He then encourages them to faithfulness, even to death (v. 10). That’s a statement not of duration, but intensity. This letter is as insightful as it is brief.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is Jesus identified? (v. 8)
  • What three strikes did the Smyrna church have working against them? (v. 9)
  • Who will be responsible for their imprisonment? (v. 10)
  • What does it mean to be faithful unto death? (v. 10)

My Delight is the Lord, November 17

Lost Love

November 17, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:1-7

Ephesus was an admirable church. Jesus identifies their work, toil, and patient endurance as impressive qualities. Further it’s a church where evil isn’t tolerated, hardship is endured, and commitment abounds. Still, they are a church in danger of being rejected by Jesus. So, whatever Jesus’ complaint is, it outweighs all the good and admirable qualities of this church. What a great opportunity for us to understand Jesus’ own priorities. The Ephesus church’s failing was their lack of love. It’s not that they never had it, but they have abandoned what was once theirs. As Paul said, no matter what other good we may do, without love, it’s worthless (1 Cor. 13:1-3). Should not love then become a primary evaluation for any church?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What were the seven golden lampstands? (v. 1)
  • What was the church at Ephesus called to do? (v. 5)
  • Did Jesus hate the Nicolaitans? (v. 6)
  • To whom is the promise addressed? (v. 7)

My Delight is the Lord, November 10

For Love’s Sake

November 10, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Philemon

What Paul said to Philemon is significant. No less so is what he did not say. He even draws attention to what he is not saying (v. 8). Paul, as an apostle could have commanded Philemon to do the right thing (which was to receive Onesimus, his runaway-slave-turned-disciple, as a brother in Christ). Instead, “for love’s sake, I appeal to you” (v. 9). This can be challenging for us, but the greatest thing we can do is not that we would obey God’s commands. Rather, it is that we would love Him . Then, motivated by that love that we move to do His will (that’s obedience). The saying goes, “The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.” I agree. I believe Paul does too. The main thing is loving God. Then “for love’s sake” we’ll obey Him.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How does Paul identify himself? (v. 1)
  • For what does Paul commend Philemon? (v. 5)
  • How does Paul identify Onesimus? (v. 10)
  • What suggestion does Paul make in v. 15?

My Delight is the Lord, November 3

Do You Understand?

November 3, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-18

Do you understand the Bible? Now there’s an open-ended question. On the one hand, we want to, don’t we? On the other hand, division and confusion in the “Christian” religious world seems to suggest that such understanding is a pipe dream; a noble thought, but a practical impossibility. First, let’s be warned about allowing man’s failure to do something to become an argument that it can’t be done. That’s shoddy thinking. Second, it is very much God’s intention that man understand His word. Notice in this text that the people assembled were ones with the capacity to understand (v 3). The Levites were present to aid in understanding (v. 7). Their efforts resulted in the people gaining understanding (v. 8). And, the concluding result was a people who understood (v. 12). Despite our experience or apparent evidence to the contrary, God expects His word to be understood.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was the disposition of the people toward the Law? (v. 3)
  • What was the people’s response to the book of the Law being opened? (v. 6)
  • What were the official positions of Nehemiah and Ezra? (v. 9)
  • What was the people’s response to understanding God’s word? (v. 12)

My Delight is the Lord, October 27

Take a Stand

October 27, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Daniel 1:1-21

“When in Rome…,” right? Well, perhaps, but perhaps not. Daniel was in Babylon, not Rome. He along with other youths “without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom” (v. 4) had been forcibly removed from their homeland by the invading Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar had taken what he considered the very best of the population to come and serve him. To that end, these Hebrews needed to be “Babylonian-ized” during a three-year training process which included changing diets. This is where Daniel refused. He would not eat the prescribed food, no doubt as it violated dietary restrictions of the Law of Moses. He wasn’t just being belligerent. Going along to get along may have it’s place but it’s never ok to violate God’s will.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What were the Hebrew names of Daniel’s three friends? (vv. 6-7)
  • How did Daniel answer the eunuch’s objection to his request? (v. 12)
  • What special skills did God give Daniel? (v. 17)
  • How advanced was Daniel in wisdom and understanding? (v. 20)