Living for Christ

November 2010 Daily Devotion Archive

November 1:
Short-Sighted Attitude

Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day." And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" Then Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. - Genesis 25:29-34

Esau could only seem to think about the present (not to mention the problem of being overly dramatic about his hunger). It sounds silly to sacrifice his entire birthright just for a single meal, but how often do you focus on something you want in the present without considering the potential consequences in the future? That's why it is so important that we trust God's timing, even when it seems difficult, because He is the only one who can see past, present, and future all woven together.

November 2:
The King's Compassion

Then the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out and came at about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who was lying on his bed at noon. ... [They killed him] and they brought the head of Ishbosheth to David at Hebron, and said to the king, "Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul your enemy, who sought your life; and the Lord has avenged my lord the king this day of Saul and his descendants." ... [David said,] "when someone told me, saying, Look, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good news, I arrested him and had him executed in Ziklag--the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and remove you from the earth?" - 2 Samuel 4:5, 8, 10-11

These men thought they were doing King David a favor, but he had a kind heart and didn't want his enemies to be killed! These men tried to take things into their own hands instead of leaving it up to God, and they paid for their mistake with their lives.

November 3:
Blatant Blasphemy

Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. - Daniel 5:3-5

Belshazzar, either the son or another descendant of King Nebuchadnezzar, was now the king of Babylon. Apparently, the many lessons his father learned from Daniel and God had been forgotten, because he commits blatant acts of blasphemy at this feast. He guides his guests to drink wine out of sacred vessels that came from the temple in Jerusalem, then didn't praise the true God but false idols. God didn't stand for this, and judgement was quick and swift. The writing on the wall warned Belshazzar of what was to come, and we will take a look at that in more detail next week.

November 4:
Jesus Broke the Rules, Part 1 of 4

Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed." He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk." Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, Take up your bed and walk?" - John 5:8-12

The religious leaders of this day had formed this long list of rules--perhaps as many as several thousand--of exactly what could and could not be done on the Sabbath Day. The only problem was, those rules did not come from the Bible. Yes, we should set the Sabbath Day apart, spending time with God and family instead of working. But imagine having that many rules to try to follow! Instead of resting on the Sabbath, you could easily spend all your time trying to memorize the rules. That obviously isn't what God intended, and of course Jesus knew that.

November 5:
A Picture of Our Culture, Part 1 of 7

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. - Ephesians 5:3-4

Contained within these two short verses from Paul's letter to the Ephesians are several different things that we should not be doing, yet these things are happening in abundance in our society today. Fornication is defined as having sexual relations outside of marriage, which sadly is becoming all too commonplace. For example, surveys show that roughly half of high school students are sexually active, though that percentage has declined somewhat in recent years, a trend which hopefully will continue. But those students also need parents with solid moral backgrounds and other positive role models to look up to. Many of them simply don't have that, which implies that adults in this society desperately need to stand up and start doing what's right. God never intended for us to make decisions based on what feels good in the heat of the moment.

November 6:
Do You Trouble Your House? (Part 2 of 2)

He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind,
And the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
- Proverbs 11:29

Many households are troubled, and those sorts of problems are most often rooted in selfishness from one side or the other (or from both sides). Although I am not yet married, I am a careful observer of others, and I have noticed several things that relate to this topic. Trust is the key. If you truly trust your spouse to take care of you and do what's best for you, as God wants a marriage to be, then you will rarely have a major conflict. But if you don't fully trust your spouse like that, then selfishness starts to creep in; you feel like you can't completely trust your spouse to take care of your needs, so you feel the need to take care of those needs yourself, and that's when selfishness begins to enter into the picture. Having a completely open and honest dialouge with your spouse can be a good starting point. Listening to your spouse without jumping to conclusions is also key. This single problem causes many marriages to be much more difficult than God ever intended.

November 7:
Glory to the Lord

Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the Lord glory and strength.
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
- Psalm 29:1-2

Do you give unto the Lord the glory that is due to His name? Do you worship and serve Him with the respect that He deserves? Or do you spend more time ignoring Him or using His name in a disrespectful way?

November 8:
The Downside to Being Prosperous

The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. And Abimelech said to Isaac, "Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we." - Genesis 26:13-16

As I read this passage, it occurred to me that perhaps this is one of the reasons why Christians are usually not among the wealthy. There is already a considerable amount of hostility toward Christians, especially in certain parts of the world, just because of our beliefs. On top of that, we certainly don't need people to become envious of us because of worldly riches! If you ever wonder why God hasn't blessed you with more, there could be many reasons, but this might be one of them. Perhaps He is trying to keep you out of the type of situation that Isaac found himself in here.

November 9:
Over-Confident Leaders

So David inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?" And the Lord said to David, "Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand." - 2 Samuel 5:19

David had become a mighty and powerful king by this time. But did he think he was so powerful that he could do things on his own? As we see here, he did not. He still asked God for direction. This illustrates a major problem in our country today. We have a significant number of politicians in our government who ask everybody except God for advice and guidance. It wasn't like that in the early days of our country, but many people nowadays seem to feel that we have moved beyond that point. We can see the results of that type of thinking all around us as our country continues to face many great struggles. Until we (as a country) start to follow God's direction once again, the struggles will continue.

November 10:
The Writing on the Wall

Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation." ... That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. - Daniel 5:17, 30-31

King Belshazzar didn't remember Daniel or all that he had done for King Nebuchadnezzar in the past, but the queen did remember. So Belshazzar sent for him and asked him to interpret the writing on the wall. Belshazzar had promised a great reward to whoever was able to interpret the writing, but Daniel was only concerned with revealing God's truth and had no interest in worldly rewards. The following verses explain what the writing meant; essentially, Belshazzar was going to be judged for failing to respect God, and his kingdom would fall that very night. As we see in the last two verses of chapter 5, that is exactly what happened. We serve a God of love, but He is also a just judge. Be careful not to disrespect Him like Belshazzar did.

November 11:
Jesus Broke the Rules, Part 2 of 4

Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed." He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk." Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, Take up your bed and walk?" - John 5:8-12

One rule that the religious leaders had formed was that medical care could not be given on the Sabbath. Let's think about that for a moment. If someone was in an accident or suddenly became very ill, that person should just lie there and suffer (and possibly die) until the next day? There's no way that kind of attitude could be pleasing to God! Yet these religious leaders had become so prideful that they wanted to show everyone how "good" they were by following all these rules that they themselves had developed over the years. God doesn't just want us to follow a list of rules; that's not what being a Christian is all about.

November 12:
A Picture of Our Culture, Part 2 of 7

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. - Ephesians 5:3-4

Fornication (sex outside of marriage) is a serious problem in our culture that can't be solved by one person, but there are things that each one of us can do. The most obvious thing would be to not take part in that kind of behavior. Hopefully you haven't anyway, but if you have, you can always make the choice to stop and start living a purer life for God instead. You can also choose to not support TV shows that promote such behavior. Many shows act like it's perfectly natural, and many Christians watch those shows and allow those messages to infiltrate their minds. I don't watch any shows like that, and I would encourage you to do the same. Take a stand for what is right. And if you don't believe that there is anything wrong with premarital sex, just look at this verse along with others in the Bible. God makes it clear that it is sinful; many people just don't want to listen.

November 13:
The Benefits of Correction

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge
But he who hates correction is stupid.
- Proverbs 12:1

This verse highlights something that is becoming increasingly problematic in our society. So many people have gotten it in their heads that they can just do whatever they want to do and they don't want anybody to tell them that what they are doing could possibly be wrong in some way. They expect everyone to simply tolerate their behavior, closing their minds to any other points of view. But wise is the person who openly accepts correction and constructive criticism, because that is something that we can all learn from. Don't just do whatever you want based on feelings; listen to the advice of wise friends and family around you. They can often keep you from making tragic mistakes.

November 14:
Jesus' Saving Grace

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me.
O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
- Psalm 30:1-3

If nothing else, all Christians should always be thankful for one thing, alluded to in verse 3 (even though this was written long before Jesus came to the earth): Jesus has saved us from the eternal punishment that we all truly deserve. If you're struggling and finding it hard to be thankful for anything, there is one thing you can always be thankful for!

November 15:
Non-Believers Believe?

Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phichol the commander of his army. And Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?" But they said, "We have certainly seen that the Lord is with you. So we said, Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord." - Genesis 26:26-29

We desperately need to be like Isaac and many of these other early followers of God. In this example we see that Isaac's faith was so strong that even pagan non-believers could clearly see that God was with him, and they wanted to keep peace with him so that God wouldn't turn against them. We rarely see an attitude like that anymore, and I think we as Christians bear the responsibility for that. We have to stand up and boldly proclaim our faith if we expect other people to take it seriously!

November 16:
God's Victory, Not David's

So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, "The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water." Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim. - 2 Samuel 5:20

Once again we see that David's relationship with God was a close one. Recall that he asked God for direction before going into this battle. Then, once the battle was won, David could have claimed the victory for himself--but he didn't. He continued to praise God, giving Him all the glory. All Christians need to try to do more of that. When we act like we accomplished something on our own, what good does that do for God's kingdom? But when we tell people that God did something for us, then we have a powerful tool to use for witnessing. I'm a NASCAR fan, and I'm reminded of the drivers who give thanks to God after winning a race. Their driving skills and the hard work of their team certainly played a part in the win, but they know that God is still ultimately in control. And by making such comments, they can also have a positive impact on others who are listening.

November 17:

"All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." Therefore King Darius signed the written decree. - Daniel 6:7-9

The other rulers of the kingdom under King Darius had become jealous of Daniel, whom the king favored because the king saw "an excellent spirit" within Daniel. So, they devised a way to get rid of Daniel, knowing that he would continue to pray to his God and not follow this new ordinance. That is an example of the types of evil things that can result from intense jealousy. Be careful not to let jealousy of any kind overcome you; the results can be disastrous. Still, as we will see over the next several weeks, God was in control all along and ultimately used this for His own glory.

November 18:
Jesus Broke the Rules, Part 3 of 4

Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed." He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk." Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, Take up your bed and walk?" - John 5:8-12

If you continue reading down to verse 16, it says that the Jews sought to kill Jesus from this point forward because He healed someone on the Sabbath. If you stop to think about it, there are so many things wrong with that line of thinking! They were going to kill Jesus just because He did a good deed on the Sabbath? What better time is there to do a good deed for someone in need? Perhaps, though, they were just becoming jealous of Jesus. They didn't want to give up their power, and that is why they continue to deny that Jesus was and is the true Savior.

November 19:
A Picture of Our Culture, Part 3 of 7

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. - Ephesians 5:3-4

After discussing fornication over the last two Fridays, let's continue on through these two verses. Covetousness is also a serious problem in our highly materialistic culture. So many people are so concerned with getting stuff, and with wanting something that somebody else already has. This type of attitude is just as responsible for harming our society as fornication is. Stuff isn't important! Can you take it with you when you die? Of course not. Now God isn't opposed to you buying some things for yourself, but most people go well beyond what is reasonable. I can't in good conscience spend a lot of money on myself when so many people around the world (and some even in this country, in this state, and in this county) aren't sure what they will find to eat today. Think about those people the next time you're about to spend a lot of money on yourself.

November 20:
Thinking About Your Thoughts

The thoughts of the righteous are right,
But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful
- Proverbs 12:5

Take a few moments to ponder this verse. What kinds of thoughts go through your mind in a typical day? Are they thoughts that are right in the Lord's eyes, or are they wicked and sinful? If they are wicked and sinful, you may want to take a closer look at what you are feeding into your mind through things such as immoral TV shows and music.

November 21:
Let Joy Come in the Morning

For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
- Psalm 30:5

You can be facing some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable, but you can still choose to find everlasting joy in the Lord. Your weeping does not have to last any longer. I think about Paul and Silas singing hymns of joy to the Lord while they were imprisoned (Acts 16). No matter what situation you may be facing, you can always choose to face it with joy instead of with fear, sadness, or any other emotion. How? Trust Jesus; it's as simple as that. But it must be a complete trust. If you know with all your heart that God is taking care of you, that He has a plan and that He knows best, then you will have no choice but to feel joyful, knowing that He is with you and He can use everything for His glory!

November 22:
Marry Wisely

When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. - Genesis 26:34-35

I want to focus on the last verse here, which states that Esau's wives were "a grief of mind" to his parents. If you are at the point in your life where you are thinking of marrying a particular person, I advise you to take a step back and make sure that is truly the person God wants for you. Far too many Christians are marrying based on things that are important to the world (such as looks and money), which helps to explain why the divorce rate is just as high within the church as it is outside the church. Listen to the advice of those around you as well, especially parents and close friends and relatives. If they don't think you should marry a particular person, it is likely that there is a good reason for that. Most importantly, never get married based on feelings alone. Love is always a choice. Choose instead to love and marry someone with a pure heart and Christ-like character.

November 23:
Destroying Idols

And they left their images there, and David and his men carried them away. - 2 Samuel 5:21

This is the third verse in a row in the fifth chapter of 2 Samuel that illustrates a good decision David made as king. Far too many times in Israel's history, the people ended up falling into the trap of worshipping idols from other lands. However, this time, David had his army destroy these idols. He was wise enough to know how devastating an idol can be, and he knew that there was only one true God that his people needed to worship and follow. I want to encourage you to examine your life. The culture around us is filled with wicked ideas and sinful idols. Lust, alcoholism, and materialism are just a few that are commonplace today. Has something like that become an idol in your life? If it has, you need to destroy it just as David and his men destroyed these idols. Otherwise, that idol will only destroy you and your relationship with God.

November 24:
The Faith of King Darius, Part 1 of 2

And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. ... So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you." - Daniel 6:14, 16

Once the other rulers had trapped Daniel with their new ordinance and King Darius knew that Daniel was about to be thrown into the den of lions, he did everything he could to try to save Daniel. He wasn't able to, but his faith was still strong. He told Daniel that he knew his God would save him, in spite of the grim circumstances. How did this powerful, non-Jewish king have such strong faith? The obvious answer would seem to be that Daniel had lived his life in such a way that it was obvious to everyone around him that God was with him. Now, stop and think for a moment. Do you live your life in that manner? Is it obvious to everyone around you that there's something different about you and that God is with you?

November 25:
Jesus Broke the Rules, Part 4 of 4

Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed." He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk." Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, Take up your bed and walk?" - John 5:8-12

I believe God wants us to act within reason. For example, I think it is wrong to work on Sunday, and I wish stores were still closed like they used to be. I don't shop on Sunday unless it's an emergency, and I have great admiration for businesses like Chick-fil-a that remain closed on Sundays. But I don't see anything wrong with people like doctors, nurses, or nursing home caregivers working on a Sunday (and a few other jobs probably fall into this category as well). Why? Because they are taking care of people in need, and that has always been very high on God's list of priorities.

November 26:
A Picture of Our Culture, Part 4 of 7

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. - Ephesians 5:3-4

We started talking about the problem of covetousness last week. Hopefully you are asking yourself, "What can I do better in this area?" Here are some ideas. Shop at places like Goodwill where things are much cheaper. Don't buy an excessive amount of clothes. I have enough clothes to last for a week with just a few extra things. You really don't need much more than that. Cut back on the electronic gadgets. Despite what commercials and society will tell you, no, you really don't *need* a cell phone. I've seen a lot of these $69.99/month plans advertised lately...if you have one of those plans, do you realize that adds up to nearly $1,000 a year? That amount of money could literally change lives in other parts the world! Yes, I am deeply passionate about this issue because I look around and see how greedy and self-centered we have become and, quite frankly, it makes me feel sick inside.

November 27:
Things We Should Despise

A man will be commended according to his wisdom,
But he who is of a perverse heart will be despised.
- Proverbs 12:8

This ties in with verse 5 which I used in my devotional a week ago. As I read this verse I started to think, is this really how we act? Of course, we should show love to all people just as Jesus did, but we should also despise perverse behavior. Sadly, though, most Christians don't do that anymore. Many just blindly accept it, watching filthy TV shows and listening to music with questionable lyrics. But that isn't the way we're supposed to treat perverse behavior. Please, stop watching and listening to the same disgusting things that non-Christians find to be funny and entertaining. It is way past time for Christians to start taking a stand for what is right! I challenge you to start by only watching things on TV that are clean and wholesome, and if you don't already, start listening to a Christian radio station such as Spirit FM (90.5 FM in the Martinsville area). Fill your heart and mind with the things that are clean and pure and let's start to despise the evil that has become so commonplace in this country.

November 28:
For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name's sake,
Lead me and guide me.
Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.
Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.
- Psalm 31:3-5, 19, 24

November 29:
In Awe

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" - Genesis 28:16-17

This was Jacob's response after God had spoken to him in a dream, promising to give the land of Israel to him and his many descendents. But what caught my attention is how Jacob responded to God. Look at how excited he was! He talked about how awesome the place was because it was the house of God. We should have the same kind of excitement and enthusiasm when we come into God's presence, whether it be in church or in any other place. But far too often, people fall into a routine and it becomes just another mundane part of a life that is entirely too busy. The next time you walk into your church, take a moment to contemplate how awesome it is to be in the house of God!

November 30:
Respecting God, Part 1 of 2

And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. And David became angry because of the Lord's outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day. - 2 Samuel 6:6-8

We have to look back to Numbers 4:15 to help us understand what happened here. In that verse, the people are warned by God to "not touch any holy thing, lest they die." The ark of God was one of if not the most holy thing in Israel's possession, and they were not to touch it under any circumstances. To us, it does seem unfair. It even seemed unfair to David, who became angry at God for a brief period of time as a result of this incident. But we can take some important lessons from Uzzah's death. We will look at two of those ideas next week to remind us of the respect we should show toward God and His commands.