Living for Christ

June 2011 Daily Devotion Archive

June 1:
Asking Too Many Questions

Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?" And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." - Daniel 12:8-9

Daniel had more questions about the prophecies he had seen, and he wanted more answers. However, God had told Daniel everything He wanted him to know. Sometimes we have a similar problem, wanting answers that God is not willing to give. We are imperfect humans living imperfect lives. We aren't going to understand everything while we're down here. That's just reality. Take the Bible as an example. It doesn't contain all the knowledge that exists, but it does contain everything we need to know in order to form a relationship with Jesus, and that's the most important thing we need to know anyway. God never promised to give us all the answers. In fact, we don't need to have all the answers. If we knew everything, we wouldn't need to trust Him. But He does promise to care for us and give us everything that we need, if we do trust in Him and His plan.

Question to Ponder: Are you able to easily trust God, even when you have unanswered questions?

June 2:
The Coming One

When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another? " And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them." - Luke 7:20-22

Yes, Jesus was and is the Coming One! He has come to save us all, or at least all who choose to believe in Him. During His time on this earth, He even gave signs to the people so they would know that He is who He claimed to be. (Though I believe His reason for performing those miracles was at least twofold; in addition to providing evidence of who He is, He also came to earth with a caring heart and a genuine desire to help those in need.) This gospel was (and is) even preached to the poor, a group of people often forgotten, especially back in those days. But Jesus forgot no one and He came to offer His saving grace to all of us!

Question to Ponder: Do you truly believe with all your heart that Jesus was the one who came to save you?

June 3:
Magnify Christ

For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. - Philippians 1:19-20

We should have the same aspirations as Paul, desiring to magnify Christ in everything that we do. So many people choose to live for themselves, wasting time and money on worldly things that they want but which have absolutely no eternal value. Instead, our goal should be to bring glory and honor to Christ by the way that we conduct our everyday lives. We should do things for His glory, not for our own glory. Paul's goal is even to magnify Christ in his death, which says to me that Paul hopes to bring glory to God through the manner in which he dies. He certainly did that, and 2,000 years later, we still have so much wisdom that has been passed down from him to help us draw closer to Christ and live in a way that magnifies Him.

Question to Ponder: Which do you find yourself doing more frequently--magnifying Christ or magnifying yourself?

June 4:
Being Prudent

The simple believes every word,
But the prudent considers well his steps.
The simple inherit folly,
But the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
- Proverbs 14:15, 18

Synonyms for "prudent" include careful, cautions, sensible, practical, and wise. The advice here is to be careful through life and to try to make wise decisions. While I believe a Christian should give others the benefit of the doubt, be careful not to believe everything that you hear. God wants us to be loving and compassionate toward others, but not na´ve. Take time to carefully consider your next step before taking it. There are many simple-minded people all around us who frequently make poor decisions and who do not follow the advice given in these verses. But if you are prudent, trying to follow God's path for your life, things are certain to turn out much better than if you act on your own fleshly impulses.

Question to Ponder: Do you carefully consider God's plan before making a major decision?

June 5:
How We Should Feel About Our Sin, Part 1 of 4

O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.
There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.
I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
For my loins are full of inflammation,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.
- Psalm 38:1-8

June 6:
Harmful Self-Centeredness

"But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon." ... Then [Pharaoh] restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand. ... Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. - Genesis 40:14-15, 21, 23

Joseph (through God) interpreted the chief butler's dream, and three days later the butler was restored to his position just as Joseph had said he would be. But Joseph also made a request, asking the butler to remember him and mention him to Pharaoh so just maybe he could get out of prison. Unfortunately, once he was restored to his high position, the butler only thought about himself and forgot about Joseph altogether. Because of this, Joseph spent another two years in prison for crimes he didn't even commit.

Question to Ponder: Do you return acts of kindness to others, or do you tend to forget about them and think only of yourself?

June 7:
David's Big Sin, Part 8

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon." - 2 Samuel 12:7-9

David was the man who had sinned against God. God had given him so much, yet David still wanted something that was forbidden--another man's wife. God even tells David that He would have given him much more! And I'm sure that He would do the same for all of us, if only we would follow His plan. Instead, so many people allow human, fleshly desires to take over. I urge you to keep your eyes focused on God instead. He knows best, and His plan is always better than anything we could come up with.

Question to Ponder: Are you thankful for God's blessings, or do you still want things that you can't have?

June 8:
The Wise Shall Understand

"Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand." - Daniel 12:10

The first part of this verse seems to point toward the coming Savior, who came to save the whole world and who has purified and refined those of us who choose to believe in Him. But the wicked (unsaved) do not understand any of this. I find it interesting (and saddening) that many of those who appear to be the most intelligent by worldly standards really don't understand the most important thing that there is--the saving grace of Jesus Christ. They get so caught up in worldly pursuits of knowledge that they miss out on the bigger picture. They believe they are wise, but that "wisdom" is only worldly. However, a person who is truly wise is able to understand what Jesus did for us and chooses to follow Him. True wisdom comes straight from God. No type of worldly wisdom can ever come close to the wisdom we can receive from above.

Question to Ponder: Do you have worldly wisdom or true, Godly wisdom?

June 9:
Getting Offended, Part 1 of 2

"And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." - Luke 7:23

Far too many people nowadays are offended, often over silly things. For example, many non-believers let themselves get all offended when Christians share beliefs in public settings. I really don't understand that, and it tells me that they are afraid of something. Let me put it this way: I'm not afraid of any non-believer sharing his or her beliefs because I know I stand firm in the truth, and nothing they say can change what is true! In fact, I would even go as far as to say that I welcome the challenge and debate. I know Jesus is on my side so I have nothing to fear. If you trust in Him as your Lord and Savior, He's on your side too! With the truth on our side, we truly don't have any reason to fear opposing viewpoints. The truth will ultimately prevail. However, I think Jesus is primarily referring to "getting offended" in a different context here, and I will discuss that in more detail next Thursday.

Question to Ponder: Do you stand firm in the truth of Jesus, even when confronted with opposing points of view?

June 10:
To Die is Gain

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. - Philippians 1:21-26

Many people shy away from talking about death, but for the Christian, death is something that we really should look forward to, because once we die we will be in a much better place and in the presence of Jesus! It's certainly understandable to feel sad for those people you would leave behind, but aside from that, we should look forward to death. Paul certainly did, knowing that he would gain so much when he died because he would be with Christ. But he also knew that he still had work to complete in this life first, and he cared so much for others that he wanted to lead as many to Christ as he possibly could before he went to be with the Lord himself.

Question to Ponder: How do you feel about death? Do you look forward to it or are you afraid of it?

June 11:
Which One Describes You?

A wise man fears and departs from evil,
But a fool rages and is self-confident.
A quick-tempered man acts foolishly,
And a man of wicked intentions is hated.
- Proverbs 14:16-17

These two verses give four descriptions of different types of people. Where would you classify yourself? Does foolish rage and a significant amount of self-confidence abound in you? Are you quick-tempered, allowing your anger to frequently get you into trouble? Do you have wicked intentions, acting sinfully and being absorbed with your own desires rather than the needs of others? Or are you wise, treating evil with a healthy fear and respect and trying to move as far away from it as you can? If the first line of this passage doesn't describe you at this point in your life, you can pray and ask God to help you move more in that direction.

Question to Ponder: Which one of these four lines most closely describes you?

June 12:
How We Should Feel About Our Sin, Part 2 of 4

Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.
My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,
And my relatives stand afar off.
Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;
Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,
And plan deception all the day long.
But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.
Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.
For in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
- Psalm 38:9-15

June 13:
Admitting Your Faults

Now it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them for Pharaoh. Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh, saying: "I remember my faults this day. ... Now there was a young Hebrew man with us there, a servant of the captain of the guard. And we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; to each man he interpreted according to his own dream. And it came to pass, just as he interpreted for us, so it happened. He restored me to my office, and he hanged him." - Genesis 41:8-9, 12-13

Last Monday, we saw how the chief butler forgot Joseph after Joseph had correctly interpreted his dream. Now, two years later, Pharaoh is trying to find someone who can interpret two dreams of his, and the chief butler finally remembers Joseph. He first admits his faults, then continues on, telling Pharaoh the whole story. We're all imperfect humans and we're all going to make mistakes. A wise and selfless person can freely admit those mistakes to others and can also learn from them.

Question to Ponder: How easy (or difficult) is it for you to admit your faults and mistakes?

June 14:
David's Big Sin, Part 9

"Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house..." - 2 Samuel 12:10-11a

Sin always has consequences. Some consequences are more significant than others, and some may only last a moment while others can last a lifetime. But there are always consequences for yourself, and often for others (some of whom may even even be innocent) as well. God is serious about sin and we need to take it seriously as well. The problem is, we don't. We should all be very grateful that God forgives us so easily and so freely, but I think many of us have come to take that forgiveness for granted. Even though we know we will be forgiven, our sin still harms our witness and grieves God's heart (Genesis 6:5-6), and that should be reason enough for us to want to stay away from sin as much as we possibly can. Our goal should be to live like Jesus and to shine His light in the dark world that surrounds us, rather than becoming part of that darkness ourselves.

Question to Ponder: Do you take sin as seriously as you should?

June 15:
The United States Should Learn From Israel's Mistakes

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
"I have nourished and brought up children,
And they have rebelled against Me;
The ox knows its owner
And the donkey its master's crib;
But Israel does not know,
My people do not consider."
Alas, sinful nation,
A people laden with iniquity,
A brood of evildoers,
Children who are corrupters!
They have forsaken the Lord,
They have provoked to anger
The Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away backward.
- Isaiah 1:2-4

June 16:
Getting Offended, Part 2 of 2

"And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." - Luke 7:23

As Christians, we need to stand up for the truth of Jesus rather than letting characteristics of Him or things that He said cause us to feel ashamed. Unfortunately, some Christians do this, and it seriously harms the overall Christian witness. Yes, Jesus did say some things and make some claims that were controversial at that time and remain controversial today, some 2,000 years later. The truth can be like that. In fact, in my mind, this fact offers further evidence that Jesus IS the truth, because if He were merely trying to get followers to join some cult, He would have just said whatever was popular. But He didn't, and we shouldn't either. Christians who act like we don't have to believe everything in the Bible, just because it may not be "politically correct" in today's world, are not standing up for Christ as we should. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us when He died on the cross. I think standing up for His truth is the least we can give Him in return for all He has done for us.

Question to Ponder: Do you stand up for the truth--the whole truth--of God's Word?

June 17:
Worthy Conduct

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. - Philippians 1:27-28

How do you conduct yourself during the course of a typical day? How do you treat people and interact with others around you? Are you considerate and compassionate, or are you impolite and self-centered? Try to be honest with yourself as you ponder your answers to those questions. Evaluate how you live your life and how you typically conduct yourself. Can others see Jesus in you, or do you just blend in with everyone else? Paul advises Christians to stand together in one spirit for Christ, working together to spread the Good News of His salvation. One final thought that he adds is that we do not need to be afraid of our enemies. With God on our side, we have no reason to fear. In fact, we've already won because God will ultimately prevail!

Question to Ponder: Is your conduct worthy of the gospel of Christ?

June 18:
Let God Handle It

The evil will bow before the good,
And the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
Do they not go astray who devise evil?
But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good.
- Proverbs 14:19, 22

Most (if not all) of us have been in situations in which someone has taken advantage of us in one way or another. Unfortunately, that's just an element of the imperfect world in which we live. When something like that happens to you, do you have a strong desire to get revenge? Do you actually take steps toward that revenge? Or do you trust God to handle it for you? Jesus is our judge and He is completely just and fair. Trust Him to judge those people for what they have done to you and don't try to take matters into your own hands. If you do, then you are devising evil, and as the second verse quoted above says, that will only serve to lead you astray. Don't try to get even; instead, show forgiveness (which may not always be easy, but remember that you've been forgiven for plenty of sinful things as well) and trust God to handle those situations for you.

Question to Ponder: Do you trust Jesus to be just and fair toward those who have wronged you?

June 19:
How We Should Feel About Our Sin, Part 3 of 4

For in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
For I said, "Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me."
For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.
For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.
But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;
And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.
Those also who render evil for good,
They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.
Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!
- Psalm 38:15-22

June 20:
Still Giving God the Glory

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it." So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace." - Genesis 41:14-16

Joseph already gave God the glory when he interpreted the dreams of the chief baker and chief butler, but that was two years earlier. He'd been in prison ever since for crimes he did not commit. But despite the hardship and the unfairness of it all, Joseph still gave God the honor and the glory! He knew he couldn't interpret Pharaoh's dream on his own and that he was only able to interpret dreams with God's help. Joseph could have very easily turned away from God during this time, but he did not. He remained faithful and close to God, and as we'll see over the next few weeks, Joseph's waiting was finally almost over.

Question to Ponder: Would you be able to remain faithful to God after two years in prison for crimes you didn't even commit?

June 21:
David's Big Sin, Part 10

"I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun." - 2 Samuel 12:11b-12

Be careful not to fool yourself: You can never hide anything from God. He sees all and He knows all. It's interesting that, even though we all know this to be true (or at least we should), sometimes we still think we can hide a sinful act from God. It simply doesn't work that way. In addition to trying to hide his sinful act from God, David also tried to hide it from all of Israel. That is easier to accomplish, and he succeeded at first--but God wasn't going to let him get away with it that easily. In any case, I would suggest keeping this thought in mind: If you feel the need to hide something that you are doing from God or from other people, that most likely means that it is something you shouldn't be doing in the first place. Sin likes to hide in the darkness. Come out into the light instead.

Question to Ponder: Do you try to hide things from God?

June 22:
The Lord Seeks Pure Motives

"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?"
Says the Lord.
"I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.
Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies--
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting."
- Isaiah 1:11, 13

Back in this time, before the coming of Jesus, people had to make sacrifices to atone for their sins. God isn't saying that He doesn't want them to do that. Instead, He is tired of people doing that just for the sake of doing it or to try to impress other people. He wanted them to follow His commands with a pure motive, and the same is true for us today. He doesn't want us to pray or go to church or do anything if we're only doing it out of habit or to put on a show to impress other people. His desire is that we do those things because we want to serve Him, please Him, and follow His commands.

Question to Ponder: Do you do things for the Lord out of a genuine desire to serve Him?

June 23:
John the Baptist Prepared the Way

"When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written: Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You." - Luke 7:24-27

Just as the prophet Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 40:3), a messenger came to prepare the way for the coming Savior. That messenger was John the Baptist. Jesus speaks here about the important role that John the Baptist played in Jesus' arrival. The people didn't go out to see someone of high class or royalty; instead, they came out to see a prophet who prepared the way for our one and only Savior, Jesus Christ!

Question to Ponder: Would you rather see a famous earthly king or a prophet who was preparing the way for the coming Savior?

June 24:
Suffering for Christ

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me. - Philippians 1:29-30

We all know the story of how Christ went to the cross and died for our sins. But have you ever really stopped to think about all the suffering that He went through? I can't imagine the pain that He endured. He did that for you, and for me, and for all of us. But so often we take that for granted. We believe Christ died for our sins, and we move on and don't think much more about it. But He deserves so much more from us than that. We should be willing--perhaps even eager--to suffer for Him because of everything He has done to save us. We don't deserve His salvation, but He still chooses to give it to us freely. If we have to endure some suffering for Him along the way, we shouldn't complain about it. Instead, we should do all that we can to continue to give glory to God, praising Him in the midst of the storm, eternally thankful for the saving grace that He chose to give to us.

Question to Ponder: Are you willing to suffer if it brings more glory to Christ?

June 25:
Rich and Poor Neighbors

The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor,
But the rich has many friends.
He who despises his neighbor sins;
But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.
- Proverbs 14:20-21

Who would you rather spend time with--a poor person or a rich person? The rich do tend to have many friends, often just because they are rich and because of the high status that comes along with that. But who did Jesus choose to spend time with when He was walking on this earth? Usually we find Him with sinners and with the poor, because He had compassion on them and also because He knew that they were the ones who most recognized their need for Him. In addition, it is often the case that those who are poor in material wealth are rich in spirit and in godly wisdom, and we are missing out on an opportunity to learn a lot from those people if we choose to avoid them. Follow Jesus' example and reach out to the poor. You can bless them, and most likely, you will receive an even bigger blessing in return.

Question to Ponder: Would you rather have dinner at the home of a rich person or a poor person?

June 26:
How We Should Feel About Our Sin, Part 4 of 4

O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.
I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
- Psalm 38:1-2, 6, 21

Over the last three Sundays, we have read through Psalm 38, which shows David's reaction to a sin he had committed and to God's chastening as a result of that sin. As you read through this psalm, you can feel the pain in David's heart because of his sin and because he knew that he had disappointed God. He is deeply troubled and deeply humbled as a result of his sin. That is how we should all react when we know we have sinned against God. Sin is not something that should ever be taken lightly, although that is how we often treat it. It is a big deal to Him, and it should be a big deal to us as well.

Question to Ponder: Does your sin cause you this much pain, or do you tend to think that it's no big deal?

June 27:
Waiting for God's Plan

"Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. ... Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you." And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." - Genesis 41:33, 39-41

This happened right after Joseph (through God) interpreted Pharaoh's dream. Joseph had suffered through many unfair hardships, but he trusted in God's plan all along, even when it could not have been easy to do so. Now, after all of that waiting, Joseph is finally able to see what God had in store for him all along! Pharaoh puts Joseph in a position of high power to be in charge of collecting food to store up for the seven years of famine that are to come. God always has a plan, even if it seems to take a long time for us to see what that plan is. We just have to wait patiently and trust in our Lord.

Question to Ponder: How much patience do you have when you have to wait for God's plan to come to fruition?

June 28:
David's Big Sin, Part 11

So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die." - 2 Samuel 12:13-14

Finally, David admits his sin. It took him a while to get to that point. David was a man of God and knew the difference between right and wrong, so that was most likely due to one of two reasons: Either he was so caught up in the excitement of the moment that he didn't think about how sinful it was, or he did realize that it was a sin but then became so ashamed that he couldn't bring himself to admit it. One of those two things is often true for us as well. But as we see here, the Lord immediately forgave David for his sin, putting it away and placing it out of His mind. However, there were still serious consequences, and we will explore that part of the story in greater detail over the next few weeks.

Question to Ponder: How easy (or difficult) is it for you to admit your sins, to others or even to yourself?

June 29:
Make Yourselves Clean

When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.
"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
- Isaiah 1:15-17

God doesn't want us to just pray when we need something, then forget about Him the rest of the time and go on living sinful lifestyles. If we do that, we completely miss out on everything God wants us to have in this life. We should instead follow the advice given in the second half of this passage to put away evil and learn to do good, looking after those in need and following the example that Jesus has set for us.

Question to Ponder: Do you only pray when you are going through a tough time, forgetting God when things are going well?

June 30:
The Sinners vs. the Religious Leaders

And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him. - Luke 7:29-30

How ironic is this? Those people who were looked down upon by society (the sinful, evil tax collectors of that day) were among those who first recognized Jesus and followed Him. Meanwhile, those whom people looked up to, including the Pharisees (religious leaders), rejected Jesus. These were people who knew God, or at least who claimed to know Him. They certainly knew the Scriptures, yet they completely missed all the signs of the coming Savior. That tells me that they knew the Scriptures in their heads but not in their hearts. They were wise and intelligent in an earthly way, but they lacked Godly wisdom. They may have thought that they were such good people that they didn't need a Savior. But another group of people, including the tax collectors, knew that they were sinners and that they were in desperate need of a Savior. The truth is, we are all sinners, and we all need a Savior!

Question to Ponder: How easy (or difficult) is it for you to admit that you need a Savior?