August 27, Tuesday

Today’s devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato, was originally posted on December 13, 2013.  He and his wife Jessica (along with their three young children) recently moved to Japan to serve as missionaries. 

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“What If . . .”

Psalm 124:1-8

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—let Israel now say—2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, 3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; 4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; 5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. 6 Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth! 7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! 8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The Psalmist, reflecting on the many blessings the Israelites have received from the Lord in the past, recalls having been delivered from terrible calamities that could have wiped them out.

Many times, we are tempted to ponder upon the life that could have been, if only we had done things differently; some may even regret past decisions that chose career advancement or certain relationships over God.  Ironically, we are less apt to consider what our life would have been like, without the abiding presence and constant intervention of God. This is the big “What If.”

The Scriptures are clear: sin leads to death and all of us have done plenty of sinning. Thus, being “swallowed alive” (i.e., suffering the full consequences of our sins) is not just what could have been, but what should have been.  Being swept away is not just an unfortunate possibility but what we deserved.  Judgment without mercy was completely God’s right. Yet in His grace, God chose mercy, meaning we don’t get the punishment we truly deserve.  In Christ, the believers are spared of receiving God’s wrath for their sins (Rom. 5:9); in Father’s love, we are disciplined (only to the extent that we can bear- 1Cor. 10:13) for our own good (Heb. 12:5-12).

Take a moment to consider what life would be like apart from Christ.  What would you still be a slave to? Apart from the grace of God, what would the consequences of your love for sin be?  

Prayer: Father, I thank You that Your mercy is so abundant in my life.  Apart from You, I would have faced certain death, misery, and wrath.  But in You, I have been given life and joy. Thank you for giving me freedom from my slavery.  May You grant me grace so that I would spend my life praising You in gratitude for all that You have freely given me.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 18


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 1:18-23: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Questions to Consider

  1. Is the truth of God’s greatness and power a hidden mystery?  Why does it appear to be hidden?
  2. From where can we know of the greatness of God?
  3. Considering the darkness described in this passage, what has the Lord delivered us from?

Notes

  1. No, the greatness of God is plain.  It appears to be hidden because we willingly suppress the truth because we prefer unrighteousness.  For instance, many atheists choose to deny God’s existence for personal reasons such as, “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do.”  Instead of admitting to it, they hide behind the façade of intellectual doubts.
  2. In all of creation.  Our ordinary day clearly proclaims the greatness of God.  Only our willful blindness prevents us from seeing His eternal power and divine nature.
  3. The wrath of God, ungodliness, suppression of the truth, futility in thinking, foolishness of heart, and the substitution of the living God for created things.

Evening Reflection

Consider your day.  What blessings, even those you tend to take for granted, would be impossible for you to possess if God had left you in your sin?

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