May 23, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Day and Night, Night and Day, Let Incense Arise”

Exodus 30:1-10

“Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense. 2 It is to be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and two cubits high—its horns of one piece with it.3 Overlay the top and all the sides and the horns with pure gold, and make a gold molding around it. 4 Make two gold rings for the altar below the molding—two on each of the opposite sides—to hold the poles used to carry it. 5 Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 6 Put the altar in front of the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law—before the atonement cover that is over the tablets of the covenant law—where I will meet with you. 7 “Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. 8 He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come. 9 Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.”

One of my favorite worship songs came out in 2012 titled, “Worthy of it All”.  The lyrics begin with a declaration to God that “all the saint and angels, they bow before Your throne.  All the elders cast their crowns before the Lamb of God.” And as the song reaches the chorus it gives the reasoning to this declaration, because “You are worthy of it all, Jesus.  For from you are all things and to you are all things. You deserve the glory.” What a beautiful picture that captures who God is and what He has done for us. But the song doesn’t just end there.  As we hit the bridge, the song repeats one simple line, “Day and night, night and day, let incense arise!” To understand the imagery of incense we must turn to Scripture, which reveals that incense often times signifies the prayers lifted to God as a sweet aroma of thanksgiving and praise.  In light of this, the song comes together in a new way. Not only must we recognize God is worthy of it all—because for from him and to him are all things—but we must respond to this truth by lifting up prayers day and night, night and day as a response of thanksgiving to his gift of grace.

Today’s passage discusses the altar of incense that it to be built and placed near the ark of the testimony where God will meet with his people (v.6).  And God tells Aaron to burn incense every morning and every night so that there will be a “perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations” (v.9).  As we recognize the gift of atonement by God’s grace, evidenced in Exodus 29, our response must be to give regular prayers before the altar of incense.

I know that many Christians struggle with the idea of praying to a holy God wondering if they can approach God with their requests in light of all the things they’ve done.  However, we must remember that God’s gift of grace settled all of that on the cross so that we may approach Him. We do not pray to be in good standing with Him, but we pray as a response of thanksgiving for His ultimate sacrifice.  Through this we can now freely go to the Father with our requests, worries, and praises that they may arise day and night, night and day. Today take some time to reflect on your prayer life. Do you pray to get in right standing with God?  Or are you living in grace and truth of God’s gift to you? Remember this is a free gift, and as you receive this gift, may you lift up incense all the days of your life as an offering of thanksgiving to the Father who gave it all for you.

Prayer: God thank You for Your gift of grace on the cross.  Forgive me for the ways I have tried to earn this gift.  Help me to cultivate a life that lights incense of prayers day and night as a response to this incredible gift of grace. In Jesus name. Amen

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 12


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 86:1-13: Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. 4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you. 5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. 6 Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. 7 When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. 8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. 11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does King David petition to God (v.1)?
  2. After King David gives his reasoning for his prayer, what does he do for the rest of the chapter?
  3. What is an area in your life that you need God to teach you His ways in order that you may live with an undivided heart fearing His name?

Notes

  1. David prays to God because he is poor and needy.
  2. He states the attributes of God’s character and who he knows God to be (v.2-10). He then asks God to teach him His ways (v.11)
  3. Personal.

Evening Reflection

Take some time to reflect on your day.  Were you able to lift prayers up to the Lord throughout your day? Or were you caught up in the busyness of life?  Take some time today to lift a prayer of thanksgiving for the work He has done, for the provision He provided today, and for the work He will continue to do.

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