Scripture: Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them. Genesis 35:5 NIV
Observation: Jacob and his family, servants, livestock, and possessions were in a country that was hostile to them. His oldest sons had just defended the honor of their sister and the people of the area could seek retaliation for what they had done. However, the Lord promised them protection.
Application: Wow! When we are God’s people, his possession, we are protected by the creator of the universe. He made a mountain and he promises to protect me, “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 35:5b What do we have to fear? He is with us in all that we do.
Prayer: Father, thank you for protecting us. I ask that you watch over all of my wife and kids today in whatever they are involved. Bless their day and give them success as they work, study, and play. Amen
Scripture: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Luke 13:34 NIV
Observation: The Lord is admonishing those around him for not heeding the words of the prophets to their own detriment.
Application: We in this country today are very good at “shooting the messenger.” In many areas of life, social, community, politically, and especially faith the messenger is laughed at, mocked, and ignored. In Jesus’ time they literally “shot” or killed men sent of God. While Jesus wasn’t just a man sent of God, he was God, he was killed for his message. True, that was God’s plan to redeem the world, but the plan worked because men are evil and we would rather “kill the messenger” than accept the message and repent. Our task for today is to embrace the message that Jesus died to bring to us. We must be bold in our faith and willing to share Jesus–even if it means our message might be “shot.”
Prayer: Father, help us to bold in the face of opposition. Amen
Scripture: Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 11:15 NIV
Observation: Are we not the most materialistic beings God created? We judge our life on what we have, cars, home, toys, even our appearance. It takes money to have “perfect” eyes, nose, hips. We covet what others have and will go to extreme means to get “it.”
Application: Re-evaluate your life, priorities, goals. Are they worthy of God? Do they further the kingdom? Are they out-centered or self-centered? Are they full of “wants?”
Prayer: Lord help me, I need to change my focus. Why do I want what others have can I not be content knowing, serving, and following you? Lord have you not provided all I could ever need? Lord help me identify my greedy thoughts and give them to you because laying them at your feet is the only way to let go of them. Amen
Scripture: “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. Luke 12:8 NIV
Observation: God wants us to let the world know that we love Him and aren’t afraid to admit it.
Application: The hardest part of being a Christian is living as a Christian. We put off our old self and put on the new–except when we’re with this group or those peolpe. It’s been said that being a Christian is the easiest thing in the world and it’s the hardest thing. All we have to do is acknowledge that Christ is God, He died for our sins, and He rose three days later to reign from heaven–that’s the easy part. Now we have to live like we believe it–that’s the hard part. We have to love others just like He loves us. Love those who hate us and want to love them to Christ. This isn’t easy and we can’t do it alone. God knows that. That’s why we have the Holy Spirit. He is our petitioner, our protector, and our guide. We have but to call on Him through prayer to give us the right attitude to be the Christian that we should be. When all else fails, call on the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit as our protector and guide. You know that we can’t do Christianity alone. Thank you for providing a way that we can be strong when we are weak. Amen
Scripture: “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” Luke 11:43 NIV
Observation: Pomp and ceremony, the adoration of others, all of the best that could be had, those were the things that were important to the religious leaders of whom Jesus spoke.
Application: I don’t know what to write today without becoming offensive. I have many aspects, good and bad, of many congregations of today, flying around in my head. To call any one out could and would be hypocritical of me–me personally. There are churches that are more interested in their appearance in their community than winning souls for Christ; more interested in carpet and stained glass than ministering to their neighborhoods. Who am I to criticize? I am them–I am the church. I too have been given a great commission from the Lord. What have I done with my charge? As I write this I realize that not until I started this daily devotion and sharing had I done much of anything to reach out to others for Christ. I’ve always been pretty content to set back and be a Pharisee, enjoy a little bit of church without having to put myself too far out there. I’d attend, I’d fix s thing or two, here and there, but I wouldn’t really try to do more, to become more involved, to go further out on a limb for the Lord. I know that I’ll never be a Billy Graham, God doesn’t want me to be, He already has one of those. God wants me to be willing. Willing to listen to Him and share a truth now and then. Willing to go out on a limb for Him. The truth is if we aren’t careful we will all neglect our calling, our great commission, and we will become very much like the Pharisees. I pray that I am no longer like a Pharisee.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for being a Pharisee. Put it on my heart to desire to reach out to others with your truth. Amen
Scripture: In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds,search your hearts and be silent. Psalm 4:4 NIV
Scripture: Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? Luke 11:39,40 NIV
Observation: Sin starts deep inside. How easy it is to hide our sin from others and even from ourselves if our outside looks good.
Application: It’s my responsibilty to look within myself and ask the lord to reveal sin hidden in my mind and my heart. This time must be taken in his presence away from the world and it’s distractions.
Prayer: Father, search me deep within and show me the sin I hide behind “my Christian disguise.” Help me lord make my inside full of you…then the beauty others will see will not be mine but yours. Amen
Scripture: I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. Psalm 6:6 NIV
Observation: The Psalmist is experiencing great distress and crying out to the Lord.
Application: King David was in anguish. He was tired and his enemies were many, real enemies that wanted to kill him. I don’t know the exact reason for David’s distress, what exactly was going on at that time in his life, but I do know that when he was at his lowest he turned to the Lord; “…for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:8b,9 David turned to the Lord when he was at his lowest and he received comfort. We can see that when it feels like there is no hope, when all is lost, when we are on our last leg, we have but to call on the Lord and He will comfort us and give us the strength to continue.
Prayer: Father, thank you for being my strength. When I’m weak, you are strong for me. Help me to be an encourager to guide others to you for their strength when they are weak. Amen
Scripture: For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Luke 8:17 NIV
Observation: God knows and sees all. He knows before you even admit. He’s the ultimate lawyer–without the lying!
Application: Wow, how many times do I grumble, lust, act hatefully, or just plain hate, and then think “Oh how clever am I?, I can sin and get away with it. All I have to do is repent?” God will not be mocked and my sin/repent, sin/repent act can wear a little thin. God deserves better from me than a little worldliness here, a little God there. This is difficult for me to write because that scripture convicts me. I struggle with much sin in my life and always seem to sin knowing God will forgive–that’s dangerous! I (we) must intentionally put God’s desire for my (our) life ahead of my (our) own worldly urges. James 4:7, “submit to God, RESIST the devil, and he will flee from you.”. That scripture must become part of my (our) being, my (our) character. I (we) owe it to God and to myself (ourselves).
Prayer: Father, help me to put James 4:7 into my heart and help me to make it part of who I am. Forgive me for the sorry Christian that I truly am. Amen
Scripture: I tell you, among those born of woman there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:28 NIV
Observation: God’s order of things is all backwards according to man’s standard. Doesn’t he get it?
Application: Look at our lives. I’ll bet some of the greatest influences on our faith have come from those of a “lower station” in life. God has blessed me with a Godly lieutenant, two Godly privates, a beautiful God-fearing wife, and now a wise pastor for a son. All of these people, and they are just some of the great influences in my life, have been “lower” in the food chain. But, God in his wisdom uses, and has since the beginning, people of lesser station to teach us “high and mighties” his true plan. Maybe it’s us that just don’t get it. God’s value system is AWESOME!!!
Prayer: Father, thank you for teaching us worth as you use any and all of your valued children to share the good news of Christ with us. The Pharisees had nothing on many of our churches of today–but, those churches are US. We all have worth and value in your eyes Lord, help us to remember your truth that “the last will be first.” Amen
Scripture: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. Luke 6:32 NIV
Observation: We are to love our enemies.
Application: As I write this the local news is on. A story about the killing of Dr. Tiller has just run. This passage speaks to me of the hatred for his enemy which drove Reoder to murder being in direct contrast to the Lord’s teaching. While abortion is wrong–the punishment for that crime is the Lord’s to give, not ours. Our responsibility is to pray for Tiller’s heart change, not ending his life.
Prayer: Father, help me to love those who hate you and me. Amen