Answers and Promises, Day 4

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Today’s reading is drawn from Joel 2:12-13 and Joel 2:18-19.

Observation

Often an answer from God will come packaged and delivered in a promise — as something potentially available. That is how God dealt with his people through the prophet Joel. He answered their pleas with a call to return to him so that he could make good on promised blessings.

Application

We’d rather the answer come in concrete form — fully assembled and ready to use, with a full guarantee. But God has spoken more than 7,000 answers to our problems and questions in promise form. So how do we get these answers wrapped in “potential packaging” to become reality? God gives his answers in potential form because his greatest goal for us is not making us comfortable, it is building our characters. He makes promises reality, not through obligation, but through obedience. God’s promises are converted from potential into reality by steadfast faith and adherence to his commands. God’s promises require us to walk with him in a covenant — his promises are converted from potential into present reality through patiently waiting on him.

As we understand why his answers come in promise form, we better understand how “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3 – 4).

Prayer

Father, help me to be obedient and faithful, not only to benefit from your promises, but also to partake in your divine nature — to look more like you and give you glory!

God Bless you,

Later,

Pat.

Doctrine: The Resurrection of the Dead, Day 4

Today’s reading is drawn from Job 19:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.

Author Tony Campolo tells the story of a funeral he attended for his friend Clarence when he was 16 years old. For the last 20 minutes of the sermon, the pastor preached to the open casket. He yelled at the corpse: “Clarence! Clarence!” He said it with such authority. Campolo said he wouldn’t have been surprised had there been an answer. “Clarence,” the pastor continued, “there were a lot of things we should have said to you that we never said to you. You got away too fast.” He listed a litany of beautiful things that Clarence had done for people. When he finished, he said, “That’s it, Clarence. There’s nothing more to say. When there’s nothing more to say, there’s only one thing to say. Good night. Good night, Clarence!” He grabbed the lid of the casket and slammed it shut. Shock waves went over the congregation. As the preacher lifted his head, you could see the smile on his face. He said, “Good night, Clarence, because I know God is going to give you a good morning!” Then the choir stood and starting singing, “On that great morning, we shall rise, we shall rise.”

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Overcoming Financial Fear, Day 4

Money Management

Today’s reading is drawn from Matthew 6:25-34.

These words of Jesus teach us how to live in uncertain financial times without stress or fear.

Financial fear is: 1) unreasonable (verse 25). We are not to become distracted from the substantial issues of life over less important matters like what we will eat or wear.

It is 2) unnatural (verse 26). We are the only creation of God who worries. God provides for the birds He created, and we are more valuable than they are. We are outside of God’s natural design when we worry.

It is 3) unhelpful (verse 27). Worry and fear do not produce anything worthwhile.

It is 4) unnecessary (verse 30). God provides for His own and promises to take care of our needs.

It is 5) unbelieving (verses 31, 32). We are acting as if God did not exist when we live in financial fear. Our heavenly Father knows our needs, and He will provide.

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What to Do When You Don’t Feel Like Worshiping, Day 4

Habit: Worship

Today’s reading is drawn from Psalm 40:1-3 and Matthew 15:7-8.

We’re singing the hymns and praise songs, listening to the preaching and fellowshipping with other believers. But something is missing from this worship service. There’s an absence of genuine emotion, a lack of real feeling. The usual awe and gratitude that accompanies worship is replaced by emptiness.

What can we do in times like this when we don’t feel like worshiping God?

Don’t try to fake it — There is a common admonition to “fake it til you make it,” to act as if you feel something until you actually begin to feel it. But God doesn’t want this type of faux worship (see Matthew 15:7 – 8). We can neither ignore our emotions nor act as if we are feeling something toward God that we are not.

Clarify our emotions — Sometimes the issue is not that we don’t feel anything, but rather that we are overcome by other strong emotions. For instance, if we have recently experienced loss or grief, we might not feel like singing songs of praise. In such situations, the answer could be to find other ways to commune with God, such as fasting.

Confess our sin — If we feel cold toward God, it could be a sign of hidden sin that needs to be confessed. Examine your heart and repent of any behavior that might be causing you to distance yourself from the Lord.

Wait patiently for God —David likely found himself in such a situation at the beginning of Psalm 40. But he “waited patiently for the LORD” (verse 1) until God “put a new song in [his] mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (verse 3). As Steve Fuller explains, “The Hebrew word [for waiting] does not mean passive waiting; it means eager seeking. It means taking the steps that God has promised to use to help us, while trusting him expectantly to work.”*

Seek God by turning to him in prayer, reading Scripture and meditating on his Word. Recognize that, like David, if you wait on God, he will in due course pull you from the mire and put a new song in your mouth.

PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY: When we don’t feel like worshiping, we can examine ourselves, confess our sins and wait patiently for the Lord.

* Steve Fuller, “When You Don’t Feel Like Worshiping,” Desiring God, August 24, 2014, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-you-don-t-feel-like-worshiping.

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Packed for a Purpose, Day 4

Today’s reading is drawn from Exodus 35:35.

You were born prepacked. God looked at your entire life, determined your assignment, and gave you the tools to do the job.

Before traveling, you do something similar. You consider the demands of the journey and pack accordingly. Cold weather? Bring a jacket. Business meeting? Carry the laptop. Time with grandchildren? Better take some sneakers and pain medication.

God did the same with you. Joe will research animals . . . install curiosity. Meagan will lead a private school . . . an extra dose of management. I need Eric to comfort the sick . . . include a healthy share of compassion. Denalyn will marry Max . . . instill a double portion of patience.

God packed you on purpose for a purpose.

from Cure for the Common Life

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Herod the Great, Day 4

Today’s reading is drawn from Matthew 2:1 and Matthew 2:13.

Herod the Great achieved power in Judea with Roman backing; he brutally suppressed all opposition. Herod was a friend of Marc Antony but, unfortunately, an enemy of Antony’s mistress Cleopatra. When Octavian (Augustus) Caesar defeated Antony and Cleopatra, Herod submitted to him. Noting that he had been a loyal friend to Antony until the end, Herod promised that he would now be no less loyal to Caesar, and Caesar accepted this promise. Herod named cities for Caesar and built temples in his honor.

Ethnically Herod was an Idumean (an Edomite); his ancestors had been forcibly converted to Judaism, and he built for Jerusalem’s God the ancient world’s largest and most magnificent temple. Politically astute, however, Herod also built temples honoring the divine emperor Augustus and made lavish contributions to Gentile cities in or near his territory. Among his other reported politically savvy acts was the execution of members of the old Sanhedrin who opposed him; he replaced those council members instead with his own political supporters. He did not usually tolerate dissent. When some young disciples of religious teachers took down the golden eagle that Herod had erected on the temple, he had them executed.

Most of our sources about Herod focus on his acts in Jerusalem, but the character of Herod that they reveal fits what Matthew says about him. So protective was Herod of his power and so jealous of potential rivals that his more popular brother-in-law, a very young high priest, had a drowning “accident”—in a pool that archaeology shows was very shallow. When his favorite wife Mariamne, a Maccabean princess, was falsely accused of adultery he had her strangled, though he later named a tower in his palace in her honor. He executed two of his sons who were falsely accused of plotting against him. Five days before he died he executed another son (the one who had falsely framed the other two). So much did Herod crave honor it is said that when he was on his deathbed he ordered many nobles arrested. He thought that if many people were executed on the day that he died, he could ensure that there would be mourning rather than celebration at the time of his death. When he died, however, the nobles were released and the people celebrated.

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Glorious, Day 4

Today’s reading is drawn from Isaiah 6:3 and Colossians 3:23.

A central theme in Scripture is the glory of God. Yet to many of us, God’s glory seems like an abstract concept. What is it exactly? When people conceive of God’s glory, they often think of ethereal or immaterial realities, not physical things we experience in the world every day.

Isaiah, however, tells us that God’s glory can be seen in creation. As Isaiah is in awe of God in heaven, the seraphim are in awe of God’s glory displayed on earth: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory,” they cry.

God didn’t want to be known only by himself. He wanted others to experience his goodness. But since God chose to create us as physical beings, he also elected to express physically to us his invisible qualities. Thus, God created a world in which we can see his glory expressed in all the beautiful things he has made—trees, flowers, mountains, oceans, animals, everything. God’s glory, therefore, is something that we experience tangibly through our senses and is meant to leave us in awe of who he is. And when we behold God’s glory and recognize him for who he is, we can’t help but worship him—just as Isaiah did.

But that’s not the whole picture. Just as God’s creative work reveals who he is, so our work is a tangible expression of our identity. Because we have been created in God’s image, we reflect who we are in the work we do. And ultimately our work is meant to reflect God’s glory as we participate in his glorious work. He created us not only so that we would know him in all his splendor, but also so that we would reflect his character to the world around us.

Connecting

Most of us don’t naturally sense that our work is glorious. If we’re honest, we probably think our ordinary jobs have little lasting value. But a rich understanding of how God’s glory is reflected in creation tells us that even the most commonplace jobs have incredible value. Just as a common flower, such as a lily, can reflect God’s beauty, so can a common job, such as a house painter

How does your work communicate who you are as God’s image bearer? How might your work communicate God’s glory in the world?

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