May 21, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Atoning Sacrifice”

Exodus 29:10-25

 “Bring the bull to the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 11 Slaughter it in the Lord’s presence at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 12 Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar. 13 Then take all the fat on the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. 14 But burn the bull’s flesh and its hide and its intestines outside the camp. It is a sin offering. 15 “Take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head.16 Slaughter it and take the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar. 17 Cut the ram into pieces and wash the internal organs and the legs, putting them with the head and the other pieces. 18 Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the Lord. 19 “Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head.20 Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then splash blood against the sides of the altar. 21 And take some blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated. 22 “Take from this ram the fat, the fat tail, the fat on the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, both kidneys with the fat on them, and the right thigh. 23 From the basket of bread made without yeast, which is before the Lord, take one round loaf, one thick loaf with olive oil mixed in, and one thin loaf. 24 Put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons and have them wave them before the Lord as a wave offering. 25 Then take them from their hands and burn them on the altar along with the burnt offering for a pleasing aroma to the Lord, a food offering presented to the Lord.”

Two months ago, my dog of 17 years passed away.  Although I had prepared myself for this sad day, the grief was one that I still cannot explain.  Most of it came, when looking back, from the realization that my dog had been with me for more years of my life than not.  She saw me through my rebellious, absent teenage years to my move to college that left me seeing her only a few times a year, until I moved back home during the last years of her life.  As I saw all the transitions that she had gone through to cater to my absent lifestyle, I realized her undying loyalty and faithfulness to me until the end. It was precisely this realization that brought me so much grief as I regretted my choices to not be a better caretaker.

Today’s passage highlights the unusual process of laying hands on an animal’s head before slaughtering it before the Lord.  This process was meant to symbolize the transference of sin from a guilty person onto an animal that, then, is slaughtered as a substitutionary sacrifice.  We know that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and to approach a holy God we must be cleansed by an atoning sacrifice. What a humbling experience: to put your hands on the head of an innocent animal as you confess the sins that you should die for, and then witness its innocent death in your place.

Although the death of my dog and the regret I felt in no way compares to witnessing something die in place of my sins, I can see the weightiness that God desired for all people to understand during this process.  We must recognize that the road to sin is death and it separates us from the God who desires to be in a relationship with us. However, God does not leave us here; He gives us a gift – an ultimate sacrifice that will take our place forever.  “For the wages of sin [may be] death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Today let us remember the cost of sin and the sacrifice it took, but may it not leave us in despair or regret, but thanksgiving for Jesus’ work on the cross.   And most of all, may it lead us to action to pursue a life of purity because we know, through the work of Christ, God does not just delight in sacrifice and takes no pleasure in burnt offerings, but a broken and contrite heart he does not despise (Ps. 51:16-17).

Prayer: God I thank You for Your love that moved You to stand in the place of my death.  And thank You that I may now freely approach Your throne. Help me to never forget the cost of my sins, but may it lead me to a life of purity that seeks to honor You in all things.  In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 10


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 6:15-23: What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the effects of living as a slave to sin compared to living as a slave to righteousness?
  2. What is the mark that you are not a slave to sin but to righteousness?
  3. This passage reveals that we are either a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness, for we cannot serve two masters.  Is there any sin in your life that is preventing you from living in righteousness?

Notes

  1. Slaves of sin will reap death (v.16) while slaves of righteousness will live in holiness and eternal life (v.22).
  2. A life of obedience (v.16).
  3. Personal.

Evening Reflection

Take some time to reflect on the day.  Were you living in the righteousness given to you through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross?  Or were you living in sin? If you find yourself discouraged at the sins of your life, remember we are living under grace because of Christ.  That does not mean we can continue living in sin, as we read in today’s lunch break study, but it does mean God’s mercies are new every morning. As you go in repentance, ask the Lord for strength to live in obedience and righteousness tomorrow.

May 20, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 20-26 are provided by Jennifer Kim, a staff at Catalyst Agape Church (New Jersey). Jennifer, a graduate of Boston University, spent a year in Shanghai as one-year intern from 2013-14. She is currently attending Alliance Theological Seminary.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The Priesthood of All Believers”

Exodus 29:1-9

“This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect. 2 And from the finest wheat flour make round loaves without yeast, thick loaves without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves without yeast and brushed with olive oil. 3 Put them in a basket and present them along with the bull and the two rams. 4 Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 5 Take the garments and dress Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself and the breastpiece. Fasten the ephod on him by its skillfully woven waistband. 6 Put the turban on his head and attach the sacred emblem to the turban. 7 Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head. 8 Bring his sons and dress them in tunics 9 and fasten caps on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons. The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance. Then you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.”

When I first started as the youth pastor at Catalyst 5 years ago, I was convinced that I would easily relate to our youth kids.  I was 23 at the time—meaning, the age gap was only about 10 years, I was technologically savvy, I understood pop culture, and the list goes on.  Well, it took less than a month to realize that I was completely wrong. I not only struggled to understand their interests, but I couldn’t understand some of their lingo.  Twenty-three certainly is not old, but these kids made me feel old, and worst of all, irrelevant!

Often, when we read books containing the Mosaic law, we ask ourselves, “How is this relevant?”  I mean how many of us have tried to do the one-year Bible plan but gave up when the long list of laws continued for the next 100 plus chapters?  So why would God utilize the first books of the Bible to go through the meticulous details of the Old Testament law? Well the simple answer is quite relevant, as a matter of fact, it’s life changing.  It was to reveal the cost and weight of sin in order to point humanity to the ultimate Messiah who would take on the sins of the world.

Exodus 29 begins with the detailed procedure of consecrating God’s chosen leader.  Priests were chosen to represent others before God, and they had the assignment of entering into the tabernacle where God’s presence dwelled in order to atone for the sins of others.  This elaborate consecration process was essential because only a holy person could face God’s presence and survive. Although not all of us are called to be pastors or ministers, 1 Peter 2:5 reveals that through the work of Christ we are all a holy priesthood.  As Jesus Christ stood in the place of sinners, offering himself as a holy and blameless offering, he sanctified all by his own blood and suffering (Heb. 2:10). As Jesus stood in our place, he tore the veil in order that we ourselves may enter His presence as a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices.

Today let’s remember that God calls all of us chosen and a royal priesthood.  As we give God thanksgiving for His sacrifice that we may freely enter His presence, let us also remember that this came at a price, and a heart of thanksgiving is always moved to action. 1 Peter 2:5 reveals that action is to offer spiritual sacrifices to God.  Take some time and ask yourselves, what can you give God today as your spiritual sacrifice?

Prayer: God thank You for Your ultimate sacrifice that I never have to atone for my own sins.  Continue to build me into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to You. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 9


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Peter 2:4-10 “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Contrast the status appointed for the believer and the unbeliever.
  2. What assignment does God give to those He calls a royal priesthood?
  3. What is one way that you can declare the praise of God through the testimony of God’s work in your life?

Notes

  1. The unbelievers will be rejected (v.7), they will cause others to stumble (v.8), and they themselves will stumble because of their disobedience (v.9). Believers are called “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (v. 9).
  2. To “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (v.9).
  3. Personal.

Evening Reflection

Today we discussed the sacrifice of the ultimate Lamb who atoned for our sins that we may freely enter into God’s presence.  Now, through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are called a royal priesthood; however, this title comes with a commission to declare the praises of God that all may enter into His presence. Take some time to reflect on your day.  Did your words, actions, and thoughts declare the praise of Him? Would others be able to see you as a royal priesthood of Christ? Write down specific ways you can offer spiritual sacrifices to the Lord that others may know their priesthood in Christ Jesus through your life.

May 19, Sunday

Today’s AMI Spiritual Food for Thought is provided by Jin Ha Lee who serves at Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia. Jin Ha, a CPA, graduated from Drexel University and got married to Aerin last November.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Giving the Benefit of the Doubt—a Loving Thing to Do”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Ephesians 4:1-3

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus makes it clear that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” However, we face conflicts everywhere, from work, family, friendships, and even church. When conflicts go long or deep, it’s easy for “loving one another” to take a backseat in our hearts. It can be especially challenging when conflicts arise in our church.

However, God teaches and equips us to combat division by showing us through these verses what love looks like. One practical way to show love is to give the benefit of the doubt. (v7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”)

During a conflict, a vulnerable area that the enemy attacks is our thoughts. When we begin to misinterpret the other person and question his or her intentions, it can begin to sow bitterness in our hearts. However, it is in those times that we need to prayerfully and consciously make a stand to say, “I will give this person the benefit of the doubt.” This protects our hearts against bitterness and removes the enemy’s foothold. When we give benefit of the doubt, it is a loving way to see others and disarms the disillusionment that the other person was out to “get us”.

I need to give the benefit of the doubt because I need it too. I can give mercy because I’ve been shown mercy. When God sees all that is in our hearts including our sin, He sees Jesus in us. Therefore, we can try to see Jesus in our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must remember that we are all a work-in-progress who are constantly loved by God.

It is a privilege to build up one another in this race of faith. So, let’s refocus on what God intended our church to be. We are a body of Christ that works together to build up one another with spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit distributed (1 Cor. 12). Love is the most excellent way.

There may be conflicts due to direct offenses that requires confrontation. This passage also teaches us that love is patient (v4), perhaps in timing and communication. Love perseveres through multiple hurtful conversations to reach mutual understanding and unity. But whether the situation gets resolved or not, we are “…bearing with one another in love…” out of love for Jesus and His precious church.

Are you experiencing conflict? Let’s bring it before the Lord and pray for wise counsel. Even when our love has run out, the Lord has an infinite amount of steadfast and unfailing love waiting to cover us.

Prayer: Lord, You love us and Your church so much. God, though we come across conflict, please give us humility, gentleness, and patience to bear with one another in love. Please touch our hearts so that we can respond with Spirit filled love, to see our own faults, to confess, to forgive, to reconcile, and to run together as a church for You. Thank You that there will be one day when we will be in heaven, fully reconciled, and enjoy perfect fellowship with You and each other.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 8.

May 18, Saturday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is written by Claudia Robbie who serves at Journey Church of Atlanta.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“I Matter, to Him”

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Overwhelmed, confused, anxious, doubtful… that is what I have been feeling. When I feel this way, I try to dress it up and hide those things. The temptation to put on a front is very real, but what I’ve learned in the last few years is that I need to be honest about where I am (even if it is just with myself). When I hide and pretend, I don’t allow God to speak and move in my life; I become blind to the habits and things I depend on other than God. I end up being very destructive to those around me and to myself.

A few years ago, I started going to therapy after I had a difficult emotional breakdown. It was God’s gentle hand finally helping me to address the things that I was blind to and bound in. It didn’t feel gentle, it hurt like nothing I had ever experienced and there were thoughts to end the hurting, but I know it was God’s gentle love for me. I got help for some intensely traumatic moments in my life and the behaviors I engaged in to help me cope from the time I was 10 to the age of 37.

In the course of my healing I was drawn to Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”. In reading some commentary on this simple verse, I found that being still didn’t mean ceasing activity, but it meant to stop striving, to let go, to surrender.

As I learned to be still and rest in who God was, I gained freedom and I could finally stop striving over whether I mattered to people around me. You see, my core lie was that I didn’t matter, and many events of my life contributed to the strengthening of that lie. I always felt like I had to fight to matter and I didn’t care who I hurt in the process of fulfilling my need. When God brought me into counseling and I faced my hurts and owned the responsibility of hurting/burdening those around me to fulfill a need that only God could, I finally embraced that I mattered to God—the proof is the cross. Because He filled this deepest need of my heart through His Son Jesus, I could stop the striving and I could be still in His presence.

In this season, when so many things are in turmoil in my life, God is gently reminding me again to be still and as He guards the things I have learned and experienced in Him, I know that He will be glorified, and everything, in the end, will be okay, in Christ.  

Is God asking you to be still? Are you in a situation or a season where you don’t know where to go, what to do, how to hold it together? Do you feel His gentle call and comforting touch even amid your sorrow and grief? Be still and know that He is God.

Prayer: Father, would You draw us into Your presence and help us to be still. Remind us of all that we know and have experienced of You. May You guard us from the enemy who wants to destroy, and restore our hope and peace even in the midst of our struggles and sins.  

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 6-7.

May 17, Friday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Mei Lan Thallman who is serves as a staff at Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia. Mei Lan, originally from Taiwan, is a graduate of Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary (M.A.) in Kentucky.  She and her husband Pastor Kirt have two children, Nate and Naomi

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Overcome Fretting with Trusting”

Psalm 37:1-9

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. 9 For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

When I was growing up, I had a traumatic experience with a dentist that literally scarred me for life; no wonder I simply dread going to dentist’s office.  So, words fail to describe the terror I felt when I was told three weeks ago that I needed a root canal or tooth implant. I wanted neither.

As I was anxiously fretting over my treatment options, I reached out to an endodontist student from my church.  She graciously offered to give me a second opinion by looking at my cavity-infected tooth. During my visit, she proudly showed me two of her root canal treatments done with gold crowns. Then she assured me that root canal is not as terrifying as it is perceived when it’s done right.  She won my trust when she assured me with the words, “I have done over a hundred root canal procedures.” Today I am proudly to testify that God has used her powerfully to treat not only my tooth but helped me overcome my fear of root canal.  

Dictionary defines fretting as “to feel or express worry, annoyance, or discontent.”  All of us can relate and understand why one would react in fret when faced with unexpected need for a root canal, illness, or crisis like job loss, bullying, relational conflicts.  However, as Christians we have the hope of breaking through the oppression of fretting by turning our worries into active trust in God’s ability to bring us through.

In Psalm 37:1-9, David repeatedly exhorts himself not to fret, that is, not worry in spite of unjust circumstances surrounding him, and overwhelming feelings of fear and anger that seek to overtake him and taking matters into his own hands. Instead, David, on the one hand, encourages himself to fix his attention on who God is, His character, competency, sovereignty, loving kindness, faithfulness, and on the other hand, exercises his will, mind, heart, faith muscle to trust the Lord.  

Trusting God means to walk by faith in the reliability of His character and truth.  Truth is not relative; it remains unchanging, unbending and unflinching. Trusting God means regardless what we see or feel we keep on keeping on being like Him and doing right like Him.  Trusting God means we live for the audience of One whom we love, whom we aim to please above all else,

Being a Christian does not shield us from facing life’s many challenges, trials and tribulations. When they come, we don’t have to face them alone.  His presence and grace will be there with us to sustain us and help us to overcome in His power. He is able to sovereignly work through these difficult moments to grow our trust in Him and our characters to reflect Him to the world.     

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being my good Father who always has my best interest in mind.  I thank You that You are more concerned about my wholeness than my comfort and happiness. I thank You that You love me so much that You will use every opportunity to help me grow up in the fullness of Christ.  Help me to continuously surrender to Your love and molding instead of fighting You or abandoning You when life gets tough, painful and disappointing. Please forgive me and save me from my selfishness and fickleness.  Thank You for Your unceasing and relenting Father’s heart for me. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 5


Lunch Break Study

Read Colossians 1:10-14: And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does it mean to live a life worthy of the Lord?
  2. According to the text, what specific ways we can please God?
  3. Are you making life’s choices that are worthy of the Lord?

Notes

  1. When we claim to be a Christian, our character, relationships and lifestyle should give an authentic witness to the faith we profess.  This is not a legalistic perfection but a work in progress of Christ likeness.
  2. We can please God by daily drawing near to Him, feed on His truth, cooperating with the Holy Spirit’s transformation of our person and empowerment to do the good work He has entrusted to us at home, church and workplace.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Take time to reflect on the day.  Are there events or worries that are weighing you down?  Can you surrender these cares one by one by naming them and surrender them to your Father’s care and love for you?  

“Lord Jesus help me to cast these cares upon you because I believe you care for me and you will help me.”

May 16, Thursday

Written by the same anonymous writer as yesterday and the day before.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Praising God in Spite of . . .”

Psalm 149

Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! 2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! 3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! 4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. 5 Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. 6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, 7 to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, 9 to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the Lord!

We have already seen that God is a being worthy of worship and that glorifying him is the reason for all that exists, including our own being. Psalm 149 focuses on a particular aspect of God’s greatness—the justice he will enact in the future that will make all things as they ought to be.

Have you ever been angered by the sheer amount of injustice and rebellion against God that fills the world? The Bible makes clear that all mankind has a heart that chooses that which is wrong: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Richard Wurmbrand’s experience as an imprisoned pastor in Communist Romania during the 50s and 60s illustrates this truth so poignantly. Wurmbrand was imprisoned, starved, and tortured for his Christian faith for nine years (including three in solitary confinement).

In his book Tortured for Christ, he recounts some of the words he heard from the prison guards while in chains: “’There is no God, no Hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.’ I have heard one torturer even say, ‘I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.’ He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners” (p. 34). Will people just get away with all the horrid things they have done against God and man?

I remember hearing when North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il died peacefully at the ripe old age of 70. He murdered, raped, robbed, tortured, abused, and oppressed the people he was supposed to protect. I thought, “It looks like he just completely got away with all the evil things he committed! Dying in bed after a life of debauchery, pleasure, and oppression is no justice!” But the “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). He sees those who mock his moral law, who live for their own pleasure. God will “execute vengeance on the nations  . . . to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written!” (Psalm 149:8-9). In the end, justice is done.

Prayer: Lord, when we feel like You are sleeping and hiding Your face from us when we need You the most (Ps. 44:23), remind us to look to the cross and remain patient until we get to heaven.  Remind us that there we will discover You had a good reason for all that on account of redeeming the nations through Your Son Jesus (Rev. 5:9)—crucified, resurrected, ascended, and to return one day gloriously.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Ps. 73:2-4, 16-19, 25-26: “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Ps. 73:10-11, 17-18: “The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by [the wicked’s] might. He says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.’ O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Have you ever envied all the things those who don’t care about God are able to do, all the supposed pleasures they can indulge in because they have no regard for God’s standards?
  2. Does it sometimes seem like justice is so far away, that God doesn’t really see or care about all the evil people that constantly try to hurt and destroy others?
  3. Honestly, from a human perspective (and you are a human), do you harbor any grievance against God? Why don’t you take this moment to confess that to Him (a la Ps. 44:23)?

Notes

  1. It is true that we Christians can’t revel in all the things this world has to offer. But Jesus has told us that the road of integrity before God, although difficult, is the way to true pleasure: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14). People may sneer and mock at us for this life choice: they might say, “I don’t know why you choose to deprive yourself just because an old book says so,” or “Get out of your medieval way of thinking and get accustomed to how enlightened twenty-first century people live.” But just as those who mocked Noah for building an ark, because it had never rained, were destroyed by God’s judgment, so too those who know in their hearts what is God’s law but choose to spit upon it will be rightly punished for their refusal to embrace what is good. God’s people must not live by the rules of the city of man but by the standards of the city of God, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
  2. Even though God’s justice may seem so far away, the day will come at the end of the age when it finally arrives! Evil will be punished and righteousness according to trust in Jesus will be richly rewarded. As the biblical saints of old expressed, we wait longingly for the day when all things will be made perfect: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
  1. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

How can we learn to not be troubled by all the evil in the world we see but trust that God will finally establish justice? And what about our own lives?—holy living is perhaps life’s greatest challenge, to learn to gradually become more like God.

What are some steps we can take to little by little become a little closer to who we ought to be? In all these things, we can remember that we are not alone, no matter our failures or despair: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

May 15, Wednesday

Written by the same anonymous writer as yesterday.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“There Really Is None Like ‘You’”

Psalms 148

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! 2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! 3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! 4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! 5 Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. 6 And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. 7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all” deeps, 8 fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! 9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! 10 Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! 11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together, old men and children! 13 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. 14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!

What is the purpose of all things, the universe and all that is in it? Many say that the universe has no purpose, that it came about by the brute, chance forces of nature and will one day be completely destroyed as it runs out of energy; there was, is, and never will be any ultimate purpose for the universe and the people within. Atheist philosophy professor Quentin Smith sums up this outlook well when he says that the universe came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing.

The Scriptures, however, reveal the true explanation for why all things exist. Psalm 148 helps illustrate that the purpose for all of reality is to glorify God.  All the millions of species of vertebrates and invertebrates, all the billions of galaxies containing billions of stars each, the innumerable angelic host—all these are to declare the glory of God. But why does God deserve all this glory?

Some might think it a bit strange that everything exists to glorify just one person. But the reason why we may feel this way is that the only persons we know are humans, and no human being comes close to meriting this sort of glory. But God is no mere man (Num. 23:19)—he is what the 12th century theologian Saint Anselm called the “greatest conceivable being.”  There is nothing that can be thought of that is greater than God; Jeremiah 10:6 says, “There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might” God alone is worthy of worship.

Prayer: Lord, “there is none like You. No one else can touch my heart like You do. I could search for all eternity long and find there is none like You. There is none like You. No one else can touch my heart like You do. I could search for all eternity long and find there is none like You” (MWS). Therefore, I thank You from the very bottom of my heart.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 3.


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 11:36; Is. 43:7: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen”; “. . . everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Jn. 17:25-26: “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Questions to Consider

  1. In the verse from Romans, the pronoun “him” refers to Jesus. How does Christ’s glory give glory to the triune Godhead and how does this relate to mankind?
  2. What is the purpose for human life?
  3. What is your purpose in life?

Notes

  1. Jesus was sent by the Father to become the human manifestation of the Trinity (John 3:16). Therefore, Jesus is the primary representative to receive the glory due to the Godhead. Both the Father (John 9:54) and the Spirit (John 16:14), glorify Jesus. What is Christ’s glory? It is his death and resurrection to give salvation by revealing the truth of eternal life. God’s glory is made ultimate when his greatest creation, mankind, is in a love relationship with him. That is why God chose to make us and save us—to glorify himself through an eternally fulfilling relationship with humans: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:1-3).
  2. The purpose of human life then, is to enter this relationship with God to enjoy eternal life with him forever. That is our ultimate end. For now, our duty on this earth, is to glorify him in all we do (1 Corinth. 6:20), by living holy lives and spreading God’s love upon this earth, which include aiding the poor, encouraging others, fighting for true justice, working hard at our jobs, and ultimately, sharing the truth of God’s salvation.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

How purposefully did you live today? Did you do or say anything that would have reminded someone of eternity?   Were you too busy? Jot down some ways you can improve in 2019.