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