|January 2010 Daily Devotion Archive|
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
- Psalm 1:1-6
January 4: Jesus In Genesis?
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." - Genesis 1:26
This verse continues to fascinate me. Consider when it was written--most likely around 1500 B.C., and the actual event took place at least 2,000 years before that. Moses wrote this long before the first prophecy of the coming Savior. Yet the evidence is clear. God speaks of Himself as "Our," in the plural form instead of the singular. I wonder if Moses even understood it himself when he wrote those words. But now we know what it means: Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been with God the Father all along. Jesus does not just exist in the New Testament; He shows up throughout the Old Testament as well. That is just one more piece of powerful evidence that ties the entire Bible together and helps to discredit those people who try to claim that it is false.
January 5: Being a Promise Keeper
Then [Hannah] made a vow and said, "O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head." ... Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever." - 1 Samuel 1:11, 21-22
Up until this time, Hannah had not been able to have children. She was desperate, so she made this plea to God. He heard her request and gave her a son named Samuel. The last verse is a key part of this story: Hannah says that Samuel will remain with the Lord for the rest of his life, just as she had promised to God. God never requires us to make a promise to Him. But if you do, make sure it isn't in the heat of a desperate moment, and be sure to keep that promise.
January 6: Hosea's First Messianic Prophecy
"Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, you are My people! And they shall say, You are my God!" - Hosea 2:23
If I am interpreting this verse correctly, I believe it is an early prophecy of the coming of Jesus. The Lord is speaking to the prophet Hosea approximately 715 years before Jesus was born. The first phrase seems to suggest that God will come to earth in some way, which is of course what happened when Jesus was born. The rest of the verse, though, is what really caught my attention. Keep in mind that up until this point, the Israelites were God's chosen people and other civilizations were basically left out. However, God speaks of having mercy on those who had not obtained it, and of saying to those who were not His people (everybody other than the Israelites) that they are now His people. That is exactly what happened when Christ came and His followers spread the Good News throughout the world!
January 7: God Can Use Anyone
Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. - Matthew 1:5-6
Our journey through the four Gospels is going to be a little different than what you might expect. I am going to use a chronological timeline, jumping around between the four books in the order in which all of these events are thought to have occurred during Jesus' life. We start with a look at one small portion of the genealogy of Jesus which can be found in the first chapter of Matthew. Consider a couple of the people that God placed in the line that would eventually lead to His own Son. One person in that line was Rahab, who clearly lived a sinful life as she was a prostitute living in Jericho. However, she helped the Israelites when they were planning their attack on the city, and God gave her a great reward because of that. In addition, we all know of the great sin which David committed with Bathsheba, but that didn't stop God from placing Him in the line that led to Jesus, either. We're all subject to making mistakes, but those mistakes won't stop God from using us to accomplish His will.
January 8: Paul, the Servant of God
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me. - Galatians 1:1-2
On Fridays we will take a look at the advice Paul gives us through his many letters (starting with Galatians), which comprise the majority of the books in the New Testament. Aside from learning from what he wrote, though, we can also learn a lot simply from the way he lived his life. Take a close look at the passage above, which is the introduction to his letter to the people of Galatia. Paul is very, very careful to give all the credit and all the glory to God. He specifically states that the occurrence of him becoming an apostle had absolutely nothing to do with mankind but was solely caused by the power of God. Think about the powerful impact Paul has had over the last 2,000 years, at least in part because of his attitude. When we give God the glory instead of trying to take credit ourselves, wonderful and amazing things can happen.
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion--
A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and an enigma,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck.
- Proverbs 1:1-9
"I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel. "
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
- Psalm 2:7-12
January 11: The Seventh Day
And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. - Genesis 2:2-3
God made the seventh day special right from the start. Did He need to rest after six days worth of creation because He was tired? Of course not...He is God! But He wanted to set an example for us to follow. Even though our day of worship is now on the first day instead of the seventh (because Christ rose on the first day of the week), the principle remains the same. We need a day of rest now more than ever before, when you consider the rapid pace at which the world around us is moving. Take time each Sunday to rest, reflect, and spend time with God and your family. If you don't, you're in danger of reaching a point (or you may already be at the point) where your life becomes so busy that you rarely or never take time out for God.
January 12: Reminders From Hannah's Prayer
"No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and those who stumbled are girded with strength." - 1 Samuel 2:2-4
This is just a small part of Hannah's prayer of thanks to God after she had given birth to Samuel. The first verse is something we should all keep in mind every day to remind us of just how important God should be in our daily lives. The middle verse in this passage reminds us that God is our ultimate judge and He knows everything that we do, so we need to be careful what we do and say. The final verse reminds us of how God humbles the mighty and makes mighty the humble, which is something Jesus Himself talks about on several occasions. It's always better to appear lowly and meek to the world because that is when God can really use you and show His power through you.
January 13: These People Were Sinless?
"And Ephraim said, surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that is sin." - Hosea 12:8
We can learn a lot from this verse, though non-Christians could probably learn much more. The first half talks of becoming rich and boasting about it, which of course is a sinful way to respond to wealth. Not only that, but the people are taking credit for their wealth themselves instead of giving the glory to God. Sometimes I think God doesn't allow certain people to become wealthy because this is exactly the kind of thing that would happen if they did. The second half shows a problem with admitting one's sin. Apparently these people thought they were so good that they had no sin within them. You'll hear that same argument from most non-believers. However, we should be comparing ourselves to Jesus and not to each other, as is a common misconception. If we weren't all sinners (Romans 3:23), there wouldn't be so much evil in the world today, and bad things would not be a temptation.
January 14: God's Perfection
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. - Matthew 1:17
Consider all of Israel's history--their many trials and tribulations, often caused by their own sinful nature. But look at how God's perfection shined through it all--keeping the same number of generations between each of these significant periods in history. Not only are all the numbers the same, but fourteen is the exact double of God's perfect number, seven. You can also look at this as being six periods of seven--slightly less than perfect until Christ returns someday. There are some lessons for us in here as well. The one that stands out to me is that God's timing is perfect. Look at how many years went by--42 generations is a long time! Yet God had a plan all along (as He always does) and at the perfect time, we saw the outcome of that plan. If you feel like God is taking a long time to answer a prayer of yours, perhaps He is just waiting for the perfect time.
January 15: Only One True Gospel
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. - Galatians 1:6-7
Paul was concerned about the newly converted people of Galatia because many of them had begun to turn away from the true Gospel toward a different one which revolved around works. Similarly, there are many false "gospels" in our world today. True, we also have people who follow entirely different religions like Islam and people who don't have spiritual beliefs at all, but those are easier to detect. It can be much more difficult to detect the lie in something that sounds a lot like Christianity, but many such "gospels" exist. The well-known prosperity gospel is one such belief that has led many people astray, as it does not even come close to following what the Bible teaches. There are even other religions, including Mormonism, which appear to be Christian but, after close examination, are clearly not. There is only one Bible, one Word of God, and that is what we must follow.
My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
If they say, "Come with us,
Let us lie in wait to shed blood;
Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
We shall find all kinds of precious possessions,
We shall fill our houses with spoil;
Cast in your lot among us,
Let us all have one purse"--
My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;
For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.
Surely, in vain the net is spread
In the sight of any bird;
But they lie in wait for their own blood,
They lurk secretly for their own lives.
So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.
- Proverbs 1:10-19
Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
"There is no help for him in God." Selah
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah
- Psalm 3:1-8
January 18: The Bible's Intricate Detail
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. - Genesis 2:8
Why does it matter that Eden was to the east? That's one question that occurred to me as I read this verse. It may have some other significance; honestly I'm not sure. However, I'm going to look at this verse from another perspective. This is just one example of the countless times throughout the Bible where very detailed information is provided. To me, that in itself helps to prove that the Bible is true. If it were written by some random person who was just trying to deceive a lot of people, why bother to put in little details like that? But with so much of the Bible being so detailed and specific, it is even less likely that it is false. Of course for believers, we know it is true, but this is yet another argument that can be used if you happen to be debating the validity of the Bible with a non-believer.
January 19: Complete Honesty
And [Eli] said, "What is the word that the Lord spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you." Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him." - 1 Samuel 3:17-18
Prior to this, the young boy Samuel had received his first prophecy from the Lord, and it was against the house of Eli the priest, whom Samuel was with at the time. Samuel could have tried to cover up the true prophecy by telling a lie or a half-truth so that he wouldn't upset Eli. That might have seemed like the easy way out at the time. However, he told him the complete truth. Do you ever tell a lie or a half-truth (which is still a lie) to try to protect someone's feelings? Even if it seems to help in the present, lying is never beneficial over the long term. Not only that, it is a sin, and that includes little "white lies" as well. They're all lies and they're all sinful. As Christians, we should be people of such high integrity that the thought of lying never even occurs to us.
January 20: Hosea's Second Messianic Prophecy
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes." - Hosea 13:14
A couple of weeks ago I shared a verse in which Hosea seemed to be referring to the future coming of Christ about 700 years before that event took place. This verse closely parallels Christ's death and resurrection, talking about how someone (Jesus) will have power over the grave, redeeming us from death and destroying the grave. That is exactly what Christ did for us when He died on the cross and rose again on the third day! He has guaranteed our final victory over the grave, as Paul also discusses when he refers back to this verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55. Jesus completely destroyed the grave with His own death so that we won't have to face it and will instead receive eternal life with Him in heaven.
January 21: Jesus
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. ... And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. - John 1:1-2, 5
John reaffirms what we see in Genesis 1:26--that Jesus has always been here. He wasn't simply born 2,000 years ago. He has existed with God the Father ever since the beginning, and we see evidence of Him throughout the entire Bible. In my opinion, that should be enough to convince the world to at least take a closer look at our beliefs, but most of the time it doesn't. John explains that perfectly as well, saying that those who are in the darkness (without Christ) do not comprehend the light, which is Christ. So many people in the world (and even some people who profess to be Christians, I'm afraid) just don't comprehend who Jesus is or what He is all about. It is our responsibility to tell them and to show them by the way we live our lives, and there is no better way to show the world what Jesus is all about than to follow His example in our daily lives.
January 22: Don't Worry About What People Think
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. - Galatians 1:10
You can't have it both ways. Do you seek to please God or to please other people during a typical day in your life? I see so many people who worry far too much about what others think and it affects so many aspects of their lives--how they dress, what they say, where they go and what they do when they get there. Some people don't even seem to know who they are because they are so focused on doing what is acceptable or impressive to those around them that they lose their sense of individuality. Don't make the mistake of putting people before God. Seek to please God above all things, and everything else will fall into place. Yes, you may upset a person from time to time, but attempting to live your life in a way that never upsets anyone else is never wise, and it is also quite impossible. You can't make everybody happy, so there's no point in trying. Instead, just try to please God. In the end, His judgments are all that matter.
Wisdom calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares.
She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
"How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning,
And fools hate knowledge.
Turn at my rebuke;
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil."
- Proverbs 1:20-23, 29-33
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
How long, O you sons of men,
Will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness
And seek falsehood? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
The Lord will hear when I call to Him.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
- Psalm 4:1-3, 7-8
January 25: One Tree
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." - Genesis 2:16-17
There was only one tree to avoid. Adam and Eve could have eaten from any other tree in the entire Garden of Eden except for this one. Why was the tree even there? Perhaps it was a test to see if Adam and Eve could continue trusting God and obeying His commands. Perhaps it had to be there for reasons only God understands. Whatever the reason, it was there, and it was a temptation. It's like when you tell a young child that (s)he can do anything except for this one specific thing, and suddenly that one thing becomes more appealing than anything else. If we can ever get away from the little temptations that try to trip us up, we can serve the Lord in so many more ways. In a forest full of good choices, things that we can do for God, try your hardest to avoid that one evil tree that wants to pull you in the other direction.
January 26: Unbelievers Even Feared God
So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, "God has come into the camp!" And they said, "Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness." - 1 Samuel 4:7-8
During a battle with the Philistines, the Israelites brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord into their camp. I found it interesting that the Philistines, who had their own "gods" and didn't worship the true God, understood what the ark meant and were very afraid at God's presence in Israel's camp. How was that possible? Part of it is where God's presence on earth was more obvious in those days. Even the Philistines knew what happened with the Egyptians and the ten plagues. However, it is also because Israel (at least at that time) had a strong respect for and fear of God. That type of attitude is sadly lacking among most Christians today, and that is at least part of the reason why the secular world does not respect us or our beliefs.
January 27: Joy
The vine has dried up, and the fig tree has withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree--all the trees of the field are withered; surely joy has withered away from the sons of men. - Joel 1:12
I'm not going to discuss the prophecy itself today but rather focus on something else I believe many people can learn from this verse. The Lord spoke to the prophet Joel and gave great detail about how the land would become desolate at some future point. But look at the last phrase--along with all the other desolation, joy has also "withered away." Many of you may be facing hard times of your own right now. Do you still have joy or has it withered away? The opposite may be true for a few of you as well. If you have become prosperous in worldly, material things, do you still feel joy? God is the only source of true, pure joy. We must look to Him, trust Him and obey Him in order to receive that joy in our hearts.
January 28: Rejected By His Own
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. - John 1:10-11
While there were some exceptions, the Jews as a whole rejected Jesus when He came. His own people did not receive Him as He deserved. But I believe these two verses have a modern-day application as well. How many people today claim to be Christians but don't seem to really "know" Jesus? (And some of these people may actually be saved, but I seriously doubt they all are.) If you believe you have been saved and born again in Christ, you need to take the time to learn about the example Jesus left for us to follow--a life of love and peace and willingness to help someone in need, just to name a few things. He also lived apart from the world--it's sinful nature, selfishness, and materialism. Many people today who claim to know Jesus are rejecting Him in the way they live their everyday lives. Are you?
January 29: A Powerful Witness
But they were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God in me. - Galatians 1:23-24
What provides one of the most powerful witnesses there is? Someone who was once fiercely against Christ but has since been converted. That is exactly what God used Paul's life for. When such a dramatic transformation takes place and a person goes from being a leading persecutor of Christians to an outspoken follower of Christ, people will no doubt notice that a major change has taken place. A change this significant can cause even the biggest skeptics to stop and wonder if they should take another look at Christianity, and it can certainly have a life-changing impact on average people who are looking for answers and truth. God allowed Paul to persecute some of Christ's own followers early in his life because God always looks at the big picture. Now, some 2,000 years later, we are still learning from the things Paul wrote in his letters because his witness is so powerful.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.
- Proverbs 2:6-9
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
Nor shall evil dwell with You.
The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity.
You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
Make Your way straight before my face.
- Psalm 5:4-8