|February 2011 Daily Devotion Archive|
A Prophecy of Jesus
"When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever." - 2 Samuel 7:12-16
As is the case with many Biblical prophecies, this one had a short-term fulfillment with Davidís son Solomon (who was Godís figurative son and who built the temple in Godís name) as well as a long-term fulfillment with Godís only begotten Son, Jesus. Still, this is one of the earliest passages in the Bible that alludes to the fact that Godís Son will come from the lineage of David and will establish His kingdom, and Jesus was born about 930 years after this passage was written.
Daniel Refers to Jeremiahís Prophecy
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans--in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. - Daniel 9:1-2
Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you. Yet you have not listened to Me," says the Lord. ... And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. - Jeremiah 25:6-7a, 11
Daniel had read and knew the early writings that now make up the Bible and he refers back to some of those writings in his own book. Here, he refers to Jeremiahís prophecy of Israelís captivity, which is now nearing its end during Danielís time. Daniel goes on to pray for the people of Israel, and we will look at some portions of that prayer in the coming weeks.
Donít Steal the Glory
"I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you." - John 5:41-42
Jesus didnít want people to follow Him around during His time here on earth if they were just going to act like He was some type of superstar or celebrity. Because of His great humility, He didnít want that kind of recognition, and we see evidence of that attitude throughout the four Gospels. Unfortunately, we have some so-called Christians today (some of which are true yet misguided Christians, while others are not Christians at all) who seek out the fame and glory for themselves rather than giving it over to God. If these people truly had hearts that were filled with a strong and intense love for God, they would seek to give God all the glory and not try to get any of it for themselves. Be very careful not to let worldly lusts, including the lust for fame and fortune, blind you to what is most important of all--a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Roles of Husbands and Wives, Part 1 of 4
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. - Ephesians 5:22-24
Yes, the Bible does instruct wives to submit to their own husbands, and there is nothing to suggest that we are no longer supposed to follow this guideline in todayís modern world. However, that doesnít give the husband the right to do whatever he wants, expecting his wife to follow right along without regard for her feelings or opinions. Some men are quick to read the first verse in this passage, either not realizing or ignoring the fact that only three out of twelve verses in this passage of Scripture are about the wifeís role. The other nine verses go into great detail about the role of the husband, who has a considerable amount of responsibility to his wife. We will take a closer look at that in the weeks to come as we continue through February, the month of love.
Guard Your Mouth
He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
- Proverbs 13:3
Do you like to talk? If you do, this verse cautions you to be very careful with the words that come out of it. Especially if youíre with a group of friends, you may find it easy to join the conversation by gossiping or making fun of others. But if youíre a Christian, you know that isnít what Jesus wants you to do with your mouth. The mouth can be very powerful in both bad ways and good ways. It can be used to tear down others or build them up. Words can be very hurtful to others and they can harm your Christian witness as well. At the same time, though, positive and encouraging words may just make someoneís day a little brighter, and on occasion the impact can even be much greater than that. The next time youíre in a group of people who are gossiping, why not break the routine and say something positive about someone instead?
Luck or the Lord?
No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.
- Psalm 33:16-17
People can place their faith and hope in such strange things sometimes. This passage refers to people who place their trust in their own strength or in something else, like a horse taking them off into a battle. In our modern world, many people place their faith in everything but God Himself. Some people trust fortune tellers, others rely on their horoscopes, and many trust this imaginary thing called luck. I find it interesting (and also rather disturbing) that some people place so much trust in "luck" when it really doesn't exist. There is no such thing as good luck or bad luck because God is ultimately in control, so things aren't left up to luck or random chance. Do you trust in luck or in the Lord?
Struggling With God
So He said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob." And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed." ... So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." - Genesis 32:27-28, 30
Jacob struggled with others all through his life. He struggled against his twin brother Esau at their birth and throughout their lives. He also struggled with Laban when attempting to marry Labanís daughter Rachel. Just prior to this passage, he had wrestled with God Himself yet he lived. But Jacob didnít run from God; instead, he drew closer to Him and became increasingly dependent on God. Do you let trials and temptations in this life pull you away from God? Or do you draw closer to God during those times, allowing Him to give you comfort and guidance? The latter is what He wants you to do. Sooner or later, we all face struggles in this life. But a struggle doesnít have to be a bad thing. Instead, view it as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with God.
Davidís Prayer of Thanksgiving
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: "Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God; and You have also spoken of Your servant's house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord God? Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant. For Your word's sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears." - 2 Samuel 7:18-22
Iím not going to add any thoughts today; I just want to ask you to take a few moments to ponder Davidís prayer and his love and devotion toward the Lord that is so evident through it.
Danielís Prayer for Israel, Part 1 of 4
And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You." - Daniel 9:4-7
Daniel begins his prayer by praising God and confessing, openly and honestly, the sins of himself and all of Israel. Read and consider the words in this prayer carefully, taking time to ask yourself if your prayer attitude may need to change.
Receiving Anyone but Jesus, Part 1 of 2
"I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?" - John 5:43-44
How true is this? Recently I heard someone make the comment that no one doubts George Washington was the first president of the United States. That may sound like a silly thought, but think about it: None of us were even close to being alive back then! Yet there is more evidence to support the time when Jesus was on the earth, a fact that many people choose to doubt or outright deny. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, there is much more evidence to support the existence of Jesus than there is to support the existence of anyone else in history! Sadly, people still stubbornly refuse to believe the truth. But anyone who truly takes the time to study the Scriptures as well as a wide variety of other historical facts will be left with the undeniable conclusion that Jesus must in fact be the one and only Son of God!
Roles of Husbands and Wives, Part 2 of 4
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. - Ephesians 5:25-27
The wife is commanded to submit to the husband, but the husband is commanded to love and care for his wife just as Christ loves the church. Just how much does Christ love the church? He died for all of us in the church who will place our faith in Him, and you wonít find a stronger love than that anywhere. It is clear just from those few words that the husband has a significant responsibility to his wife. The husband is supposed to give himself over to his wife as the wife submits to the husband. It isnít a one-way street but a two-way street, with both people in a marriage relationship giving themselves to each other. Itís hard to find a marriage like that, especially in todayís world, but thatís the way God intended marriage to be.
Working Hard or Hardly Working?
The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.
Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,
But he who gathers by labor will increase.
- Proverbs 13:4, 11
Quite a few verses throughout the book of Proverbs deal with the issue of laziness, and here are two such verses from the thirteenth chapter. Many people in the past had to work hard in order to survive, but many people in todayís technological society have grown lazy. That attitude is also rubbing off on many children who donít seem to have much of a desire to work hard. But in spite of all of that, Godís Word never changes. In Godís view, hard work is the only right way to earn things in this life. Laziness wonít get you anywhere, and neither will wealth gained by dishonest means (unless it eventually gets you a trip to prison). The general lesson for most of us is this: Donít try to take the easy way out. Hard work is rewarding and beneficial, and it is still the best way to earn a living.
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
- Psalm 34:1-7
Then Esau said, "What do you mean by all this company which I met?" And he said, "These are to find favor in the sight of my lord." But Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself." And Jacob said, "No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." So he urged him, and he took it. - Genesis 33:8-11
Because of some things that had happened in the past, Jacob was afraid that his brother Esau would be angry with him when he finally returned home after many years away. So, what did Jacob do? He sent a multitude of gifts ahead of himself in an attempt to make peace with his brother or at least curtail his brotherís anger. As it turns out, Esau had a very forgiving spirit and wasnít angry anyway. But one thing we can learn from this story is that treating an enemy with kindness is always the best approach.
Godís Chosen People
"For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, Lord, have become their God." - 2 Samuel 7:24
It would be a grave mistake for us as a nation to forget that the people of Israel are Godís chosen people--not only in the past, but in the present and future as well. We need to be very careful to elect leaders who respect the nation of Israel. God is not going to look very kindly upon any nation who stands against His chosen people. Many people in our modern world may not think itís a very big deal, but I feel certain that it is a big deal to God--after all, these are the people He chose, out of everyone on earth, to belong to Himself. Going against Israel is just like going against God, and no one can prevail against our Almighty God! Let us elect leaders who will use wisdom when dealing with situations in the Middle East, and let us pray for the leaders we already have, that they will show respect toward both Israel and God in the decisions that they make.
Danielís Prayer for Israel, Part 2 of 4
"O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem." - Daniel 9:8-12
For seven straight verses, Daniel does nothing but confess the sins of Israel in his prayer. He is about as open and honest with God as anyone can be, which is something we should all strive for. God sees our sins anyway--donít be afraid to confess them so that you no longer have to feel like youíre hiding something!
Receiving Anyone but Jesus, Part 2 of 2
"I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?" - John 5:43-44
A major problem is that most people simply donít want to be told how to live their lives or to be told which "religion" is true. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus Himself even knew that it would be that way. Many people saw His miracles with their own eyes and still refused to believe, and even though we canít physically see Jesus with us today, the result is the same. If someone had come in his or her own name and said things that people wanted to hear (as many politicians do today), then most people will accept that person. But sadly, so many people just want to live their own lives and donít want to hear the truth that comes from God. We as a nation desperately need to stop being so self-centered and open our hearts and minds to the truth--and the Bible, the very Word of God, is the ultimate source of that truth!
Roles of Husbands and Wives, Part 3 of 4
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. - Ephesians 5:28-30
These verses reiterate the need for husbands and wives to love and care for each other on a very deep level, even to the point of taking good care of each otherís bodies. Part of this passage reminds us to take care of our own bodies as well, not abusing or misusing it because we are members of the body of Christ and the Holy Spirit dwells inside of every believer. Be very careful what you put into your body; some things should not be consumed. Also be very careful what you do with your body; some things are meant to be saved for your spouse. If you cannot find any other reason, then take care of your body because it belongs to Jesus, who is perfectly holy and pure.
The Poor are Rich
There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.
- Proverbs 13:7
This proverb is similar to several comments that Jesus made centuries later, and it contains the kind of unconventional wisdom that Jesus Himself often gives us. Those who become rich in this life have nothing of eternal value. But more than that, most of those people even feel like theyíre lacking something in this life. Iíve heard stories over the years about many rich people who are among the most unhappy people in all the world. All their stuff certainly hasnít helped to make them happy. Iíve also heard that recent statistics place the United States among the most depressed countries in the world, much more so than many third-world nations. People in those third-world countries may not have much in this life, but those who have a personal relationship with Jesus are rich in spirit. That should be the primary goal for all of us.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
- Psalm 34:8-18
Jacob Had Enough
And Jacob said, "No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." So he urged him, and he took it. - Genesis 33:10-11
Although this isnít the main point of this story, something caught my attention when I read the last few words of Jacobís quote (and actually, his brother Esau made a similar comment as well back in verse 9). He gave God the credit for all the possessions that he had, and he made the statement that he had enough and was glad to freely give some of his possessions away to his brother. Instead of being greedy for all the latest and greatest things that we see advertised on TV, we should adopt a similar attitude. In this country, most of us do have much more than we really need. How can you truly love God if you keep all those things to yourself and donít share with those who are in need?
The Lord was with David
And the Lord preserved David wherever he went. - 2 Samuel 8:14b
The Lord was with David because David had a heart that longed to remain in Godís will. Do you? Do you truly have a desire to remain in Godís will and do what He wants you to do, or do you like to make your own choices and remain in control of your life? God canít fully use you unless you fully give yourself over to Him and His will, and youíre also much more likely to make mistakes when you try to do things your own way. Just like the Israelites, we are a stubborn people and we like to make our own decisions so we feel like weíre in control. But make no mistake about it: Things always turn out better when we do things Godís way. Always, with no exception. Try to follow Godís will in every aspect of your life--your job, your marriage or dating relationship, your interactions with friends, and even your church life. Make sure youíre doing what God wants you to be doing, nothing more or nothing less, and only then will you be able to accomplish everything God desires for you.
Danielís Prayer for Israel, Part 3 of 4
"As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have done wickedly!" - Daniel 9:13-15
Once again Daniel shows how well he knows the Word of God, at least the parts that had been written prior to his lifetime. He is referring to a passage in Deuteronomy (28:15-68) during which God, through the hand of Moses, thoroughly details the punishment that will come upon Israel if they do not follow His commandments. Although that warning may have been directed more at Israel, I believe it is a warning we should still heed today. God can destroy us at anytime, and if our country continues trying to move away from God, He has every reason to do just that.
"Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you--Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" - John 5:45-47
"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him." - Deuteronomy 18:18
Even Moses wrote about Jesus, and he did it some 1500 years before Jesus came to this earth. While this prophecy doesnít give much in the way of specific details, the capitalization of "Prophet" is one way we know that this prophecy refers to Jesus. Iím not sure Moses had any way of knowing that a Savior, an actual part of the Holy Trinity, would someday come to save us all. This little verse from Deuteronomy is yet another piece of evidence that shows us that God Himself had to have been the true author of the Bible. No other explanation could even begin to be plausible.
Roles of Husbands and Wives, Part 4 of 4
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. - Ephesians 5:31-33
Paul wraps up his advice for husbands and wives in these three verses. He starts by quoting a passage from all the way back at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis 2:24), reminding all married couples that they are to become one flesh. Marriage is about unity and harmony. That doesnít mean there will never be disagreements, but if both spouses truly join together as one in their hearts and souls, then those disagreements will be much less frequent. Donít let selfishness get in the way of your marriage as it so often does for many couples. Putting each other first (or second, actually, behind God) is the way God intended for marriages to work. Show love and respect toward one another and try to not place your own needs ahead of the needs of your spouse.
The Impacts of Pride
By pride comes nothing but strife,
But with the well-advised is wisdom.
- Proverbs 13:10
The word "pride" is used here to describe people who donít glorify God but try to glorify themselves instead. Pride can be extremely dangerous and cause all sorts of problems because it is often rooted in extreme self-centeredness. With excessive pride, you become so concerned about what others think of you and about your own accomplishments that thereís no room left to give any glory to God. Other peopleís opinions of you become so important that you have to take that glory all for yourself. As the proverb says, that ultimately leads to strife and conflict with those around you. But there is a better way. Donít think so much about yourself and focus on God instead, giving Him the honor and the glory for the things that happen in your life. Having that kind of perspective is not only beneficial for you but also for your relationships with those around you.
Promises from the Lord
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.
- Psalm 34:19-22
A number of different ideas are touched on in these four verses, and most of them deal with promises from God. First, the Lord promises to deliver all of His children from their afflictions. If youíre facing a difficult time right now, you can take comfort in those words. Our God doesnít break His promises. He even guards Himself, as the next verse makes reference to the cross where none of Jesusí bones were broken. Finally, the Lord promises to redeem the souls of all those who serve and trust in Him, and if you are in that group of people, you have reason to rejoice because you will not be condemned!
Wrestling With God
Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" - Genesis 32:24-26
Many people believe the Man Jacob was wrestling was a preincarnate Jesus Christ. In any case, it was some manifestation of God. Why did God wrestle with Jacob? There are several possible reasons. The one that we can perhaps learn the most from is that God wrestled with Jacob in order to get Jacob to fully depend on Him. When Jacobís hip socket became out of joint, he was injured and in a poor position to continue wrestling. He had to rely on God to take care of him from that point forward. Godís ultimate goal may well have been to humble Jacob so that Jacob would have to totally depend on God. Thatís what God wants all of us to do. We donít have to fight the battles we face in this life alone; we have God on our side.