My Delight is the Lord, August 24

Powerful and Caring

August 24, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: John 11:1-53

The account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is remarkable to the extreme. That Jesus could speak to the dead and the dead respond just defies our understanding. It’s been observed that it’s a good thing Jesus called him by name or the whole cemetery would have come out of their graves. Is there any greater evidence to the divinity of the Nazarene than this? But wait. Of no less wonderment is that one of such exalted and lofty place has such care and tender compassion on the pain and sorrow of lowly man. Yes, I thrill at believing in a Savior who possesses authority over death, but no less than that I know He cares deeply for me.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did Lazarus’ illness “not lead to death”? (v. 4)
  • What prompted the disciples’ hesitation? (v. 8)
  • Did Martha anticipate what Jesus would do? (vv. 21-22)
  • To what does Martha confess? (v. 27)

My Delight is the Lord, August 23

Where Are You Headed?

August 23, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 5:11-6:12

It’s not so much where you are as it is where you are headed. Not that where you are is unimportant, but you can be where you should be, and still be in trouble. As the bit of homespun wisdom goes, you can be on the right track, but you’ll still get run over if you just sit there. Spiritually speaking, too many have just “sat there” after they dried themselves from the water of baptism. This text contains some of the strongest wording in Scripture and it’s all about the failure of Christians to continually grow in the faith. The seriousness of their situation is also seen in other statements; such as warning about neglecting “such a great salvation” (2:3) or guarding against an “evil, unbelieving heart” (3:12) or the danger of “refusing him who is speaking” (12:25).  It’s all connected. If we are “just sitting there” spiritually, we put ourselves in an incredibly precarious position.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is these Christians’ condition described in 5:11?
  • What was their failing? (5:12)
  • What’s the difference between milk and solid food? (v. 12)
  • What makes up the “elementary doctrine” (6:1-2)

My Delight is the Lord, August 22

God’s Complaint

August 22, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Psalm 50

God has a complaint and we better listen up. It’s not with the irreligious or the unbeliever (at least not in this text). Rather, it is with His own people. Here it is: you hate discipline and you cast my words behind you (v. 17). They hadn’t rejected His word per se, they hadn’t said it really wasn’t His word. They instead had failed to allow it to function as God intended. His word is supposed to discipline, that is, to convict, correct, admonish, and instruct His people. When that doesn’t happen, it is not because of a failure on God’s part but rather a failure on man’s part to obey and submit. As Paul affirms this inspired word is profitable for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). But what if we fail to be taught, reproved, corrected and trained by it? Is God really impressed that we extol the Bible as God-breathed while resisting the very purposed for which it is given? Hating the discipline of God’s word is not in our best interest.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who (what) is summoned by God? For what purpose? (v. 1)
  • How is God responding to worship? (v. 9)
  • In what sacrifice is God most interested? (v. 14)

Why did people conclude that God was like them? (v. 21)

My Delight is the Lord, August 21

Trust or Resolution?

August 21, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 88

Life is not a sitcom. It just doesn’t work that way. Our problems are not solved, our issues are not cleared up, and our questions are not answered all in a neat, tidy 30-minute–or, heaven forbid, an hour–segment. Life can leave us hanging. We must, at times, learn to live with questions and uncertainty. How interesting, and insightful, that a number of the Psalms end without resolution. Pleas are lifted up to God; desperate, mournful pleas. “I am a man who has no strength (v. 4). “I am helpless” (v. 15). “I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you…why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? (vv. 13-14). Amazingly, those pleas and questions go unanswered within this Psalm. That itself speaks to us. What should we make of this? It certainly isn’t that God doesn’t hear or care. He does, always. But, He doesn’t necessarily jump when I call. This Psalm shows us that our trust and confidence in God is as important as the resolution itself.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is God designated in v. 1?
  • What is the point of vv. 10-11?
  • Is God really the source of troubles? (vv. 6-7)
  • Who has become a companion? (v. 18)

My Delight is the Lord, August 20

God is Good, Even in Pain

August 20, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 4:1-37

Good people doing God’s will and supporting others who do, should expect the blessings of God to follow. Isn’t that right? The experience of the Shunammite woman and Elisha certainly supports that premise. This wealthy woman, along with the backing of her husband, provided some much needed creature comforts for God’s prophet. What happened with these gracious, childless hosts is that they received a son. They had long given up hope of this ever happening. How marvelous. The story doesn’t end there, though, does it? Some years later this boy suddenly died. What had been a source of great joy and celebration now brings bitter distress. Here’s another reminder that the hurt, pain, sorrow, and grief of this life in no way prove God’s failure or much less His absence.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did the Shunammite woman view Elisha? (v. 9)
  • What did Elisha first offer this woman for her goodness? (v. 13)
  • What was the woman’s response to Elisha’s promise? (v. 16)
  • Why did Elisha not know about the condition of the boy? (v. 27)

My Delight is the Lord, August 19

If Nothing Else, Persist

August 19, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 2:1-18

There is something to be said for persistence; the attitude and disposition of being there–regularly, consistently, without fail. It doesn’t require the greatest skill or intellect or talent. It may not always be the most elegant thing, the most beautiful, or most admired act. But it is powerful. When spouses are persistent in their faithfulness to each other, parents are persistent in shaping and guiding the lives of their children, we’re persistent in our commitments and responsibilities at work or school, persistent in doing what is right and good, it really is quite admirable and desirable. Elisha was persistent. Three times he responded to Elijah’s suggestion that he stay behind with, “I will not leave you” (vv. 2, 4, 6). Because of that persistence Elisha was there to see the chariot and horses of fire that took Elijah to heaven and to be blessed with a double portion of the great prophet’s spirit (v. 11). Yes, persistence has its rewards!

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who are the “sons of the prophets”? (vv. 3,5,7)
  • How did Elijah and Elisha cross the Jordan? (v. 8)
  • What act did Elisha repeat? (v. 14)
  • What did the sons of the prophets recognize about Elisha? (v. 15)

My Delight is the Lord, August 18

God and Abner

August 18, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 3:1-39

God is powerful–miraculously so. That is, He’s not limited, as are we, to “natural” means to accomplish His will. But, it is true that He sometimes chooses to go the route of the natural, rather than supernatural. Take David’s ascension to the throne of Israel for example. It was God’s will that He should reign in the place of Saul. Without God’s intervention, David could not have reigned. Abner, Saul’s military leader, understood this (v. 9). He also saw that his actions played a role in bringing about this end. God used this man and his falling out with Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, to accomplish what He had already determined would happen. Other sordid individuals and events came into play as well. The point is, God does not limit His actions to miraculous working. He has, and does, work through what people do–good and bad. Let’s be sure to give God some “good” to work with.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Did David take the throne immediately after Saul’s death?
  • What power did Abner claim? (v. 8)
  • Whom did David want returned to him? (v. 14)
  • What relation were Joab and Abishai to David? (see 1 Chron. 2:16)

My Delight is the Lord, August 17

When Evil Wins

August 17, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:14-29

It is truly disturbing when evil wins. How disheartening when selfish, prideful, arrogant, and depraved people wield influence over the lives of the godly and righteous. Yet, a man like John the Baptist came under the sway of an exhibitionist young woman, her promiscuous and vindictive mother, and the impulsive and spineless king. As a result John died a violent and sudden death. It’s infuriating, isn’t it? But, it’s far from a victory for wrong. Sure, wickedness got its way, it often does. But evil did not, does not, and cannot win. It’s the timing and present circumstances that give us trouble. The upper hand never belongs to Satan. The fact that he is allowed to wield influence and at times to carry the day is no sign of triumph. Dominion always has and always will belong to God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why did some think Jesus was John raised from the dead? (v. 14)
  • For whose sake did Herod imprison John? (v. 17)
  • What did Herod know about John? (v. 20)
  • What did Herod want to honor? (v. 26)

My Delight is the Lord, August 16

Pomp and Understanding

August 16, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Psalm 49

Understanding is better than pomp. And what is pomp? It’s all that man is able to accomplish for himself; wealth and power and influence and pride and confidence. What does a person have when all of this is achieved? It turns out, not much. To have it in the absence of wisdom is “foolish confidence” (v. 13). All of this turns on the fact that man is  not capable of ransoming life (vv. 7-8). When life ends so does the pomp. All of man’s glory he will leave behind. No matter what we may achieve during life, it all ends when the wise, the fool, and the stupid “alike perish” (v. 10). So what is the understanding and wisdom? It’s knowing–and living based on the knowledge–that God ransoms the soul (v. 15). Though we do well for ourselves and count ourselves blessed (v. 18), without understanding, in our pomp, we’re no better than “the beasts that perish” (v. 20).

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who is excluded from needing to hear? (v. 2)
  • What level of prominence do some men achieve? (v. 11)
  • What hope does the wise and understanding have? (v. 15)
  • Why should the wealthy (powerful) not be feared? (v. 16)

My Delight is the Lord, August 15

Nothing to Offer

August 15, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 29:10-19

When we love someone we want to be gracious and giving and good and kind to them. We want them to have our best, both in physical provisions as well as our attention and care. Nothing would make us happier than to provide for them what they could not do for themselves. It’s true of God as well, isn’t it? We think and feel the same way about Him. It’s not that we could ever provide for Him what He is unable to do, but still, we want Him to have the best of what we have to offer. Here’s the rub–it’s all His already; all of it. That includes “all that is in the heavens and in the earth;” the kingdom also. All things come from Him and anything we seek to offer Him “comes from your own hand and is all your own” (vv. 11, 12, 14, 16). This includes all greatness, power, glory, victory, and majesty (v. 11). We have nothing to offer God that is not already His. He is in no way improved by us. We just need to remember that when give to Him all that we have and all that we are.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is in God’s possession? (v. 11)
  • What is in God’s hand? (v. 12)
  • What are we before God? (v. 15)
  • In what does God have pleasure? (v. 17)