June 12, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Barry Kang of Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on March 3, 2014.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“A Key to True Christian Fellowship”

1 John 1:1-4 (ESV)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

When I was planning this series of devotions, I scratched these words next to these verses, “witnesses testify.”  John was a witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He had seen him, heard him, and touched him with his own hands.  And so, as a witness, his testimony has great value and encouragement to us since the Gospel is not based on a myth or clever speculations, but on the real person of Jesus.  That led me to this idea: “I’ll write a devotion about how we, too, can be testifiers of Jesus to those people who don’t know Jesus.”

But John isn’t writing to non-Christians, but rather, He is writing about Jesus to Christians. (I know these are supposed to be short devotions but let that sink in for a few moments.)  And he says that the purpose for this is so that they would have deep fellowship with one another, thereby having complete joy.

Is it possible that joy and fellowship are inextricably linked?  And that fellowship and joy happen as we proclaim Christ to one another?  We often think of fellowship as something that happens when people love each other and have things in common.  But John tells us that biblical fellowship happens because Jesus loves us, and we have that in common.  

Considering that, let us be a people who are excited to talk about Jesus to Christians as well as to non-Christians!  Do it today.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!  Now, despite our imperfections, we can have fellowship with You and even fellowship with other imperfect people.  Help me to become a person who proclaims Christ inside and outside the Church, that our joy would become complete!

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 4


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 John 1:1-4 again: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some things that John tells us about this Word?  What can we learn about the Word in relation to God the Father?
  2. Why do you think John emphasizes the reality of “the Word” as he does?
  3. How do you think proclaiming the reality of Christ leads to fellowship (cf. Ephesians 5:18-19)?

Notes

  1. The Word of Life was “from the beginning” and “with the Father” and “made manifest to us.”  Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the Word. He is “co-eternal” and “co-equal” with the Father.  He is not a lesser God nor is he a human who became divine. These were all heresies that existed in the early church.  Interestingly, John doesn’t mention the Holy Spirit here (which he does plenty in John 14-16), perhaps in order to emphasize the divinity of Christ.
  2. Our faith is not based on a myth nor based on an intellectual or a philosophical concept that exists only in our minds.  Our faith is based on the historical reality of God entering into our brokenness to forgive, heal, and reconcile.
  3. Ephesians 5:18-19 points out the connection between being filled by the Spirit and speaking “hymns, psalms and spiritual songs” to “one another.”  When we proclaim Christ to one another, there is a unity that comes from the Holy Spirit filling us. Our fellowship is based upon the deep fellowship that exists between the persons of the Trinity, that we are invited to join.  Note that joy is also one of the fruits of the Spirit.

Evening Reflection

What are you basing your fellowship on?  Do you fellowship based on personality, mutual interest, or even geographical proximity?  If our fellowship is to be built upon the foundation of Christ being proclaimed to one another, how might you fellowship differently?  Who can you encourage with the Gospel tomorrow?

June 11, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The High Priest’s New Clothes Part 2: The Robe and the Golden Plate”

Exodus 28:31-35

“You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a garment,[c] so that it may not tear. 33 On its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, around its hem, with bells of gold between them, 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, around the hem of the robe. 35 And it shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he does not die.

Yesterday, I recounted coming across John 5:39 where Jesus asserts that the Old Testament bears witness to Him. Charmed by the notion, I was excited to be assigned to an OT passage so I could spend time learning how the Old Testament does just that. Previously, I discussed a bit of Exodus 28 and the specifications for Aaron’s garments. My conjecture is that the particularity with which the high priest clothes are made hold some significance that point to Jesus Christ. It seemed that way in Part 1—let’s see if it holds while diving into the rest of the priestly garments.

Exodus 28 also details the build of the ceremonial robe and an engraved golden plate that the high priest is to wear when performing his duties (Exod. 28:31-35; 36-38). It is in these descriptions that the idea of bearing guilt is introduced, and repeated in verse 43. The robe, for example, is fitted with a golden bell and a pomegranate. Verse 35 reads, “And it shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he does not die,” (Exod. 21:35 ESV). The golden plate has the words “Holy to the LORD” engraved on it, and is worn over the turban on Aaron’s forehead because Aaron is to bear the guilt of the holy things that Israel consecrated to God (Exod. 21:38).

Now, what’s going on here? Does God need to hear bells on Aaron’s robes to know he is coming to refrain from smiting him? Certainly not. Verse 43 injects the idea that these garments are to be worn by Aaron (and his sons), to prevent him from personally bearing guilt. In fact, if Aaron attempts to enter the tabernacle to minister without them, he will surely die. So what’s happening? The priestly garments are bearing the guilt for Aaron. It’s not so much that Aaron is awarded this beautiful uniform because he’s good enough to enter the Holy of Holies, rather, Aaron is given the priestly clothes because he is not good enough on his own. Aaron has his own sin to bear, and so the garments are put over him because they represent someone who is: Jesus.

The priestly garments are a physical picture of the coming Jesus. The all-white pieces boast of His purity, the extravagant pieces boast of His beauty and glory, the function of the garments tell of the function of the Son who bears the guilt of creation and the necessity of the garments speak to every person’s need for Jesus to cover their sins. Jesus did it, but despite this many people hurt deeply from constantly dwelling on their shortcomings. Can we rest and rejoice in what Jesus has done for us, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us?

Prayer: Father, we thank You daily for what You have done for us and continue to do. I pray that Your Spirit would minister to us and heal us, not only of the propensity to sin, but of the guilt and shame attached to it. Holy Spirit, it is promised that You would remind us of Jesus’ teachings and work. Please do so constantly, so we may find joy and rest in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Samuel 3


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 John 1:10: He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him;

1 John 2:1-2: My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Questions to Consider

  1. What makes John’s statement in 1 John 1:10 particularly challenging?
  2. Discuss John’s teaching about Jesus in 1 John 2:1.

Notes

  1. While most people are more than happy to acknowledge they’re a sinner, the full weight of that status sometimes escapes them. Many people have a sort of “moral scale” in their minds, placing themselves somewhere between the best and worst people in human history (morally). Since they are somewhere in the middle, they conclude they are a good person. However even IF it’s true, the standard by which we are judged is of whether we have sinned, a test we all admittedly fail. Thus, the necessity and graciousness of Jesus’ work increase to infinitude.
  2. John establishes Jesus as our Advocate to the Father. It could be argued just as the high priest cannot enter God’s presence in the tabernacle without wearing the garments, neither can a person enter God’s presence without Jesus pleading to the Father on his or her behalf.

Evening Reflection

Searching for Jesus in the Old Testament is proving to be an enjoyable pastime for me, though I admit I’m a bit of a nerd. I realize while some will share in my newfound interest, others may not and that’s alright. We can all agree where we really need to find Jesus is in our personal lives. Maybe it means waking up a little earlier for prayer, or maybe it means setting aside the phone for a bit and picking up that Bible. Let’s challenge each other as a family in Christ to fix our gaze on Him.

June 10, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals for June 10-11 are provided by Charles Graham.  Charles, a student at Talbot School of Theology, attends Kairos Christian Church in San Diego.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The High Priest’s New Clothes Part 1: The Ephod and Breast Plate”

Exodus 28:6-14

“And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. 7 It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. 8 And the skillfully woven band on it shall be made like it and be of one piece with it, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. 9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11 As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. 12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance. 13 You shall make settings of gold filigree, 14 and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; and you shall attach the corded chains to the settings.

In spending time in the New Testament, I came across a passage that fascinated me deeply in the Gospel of John: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life;

and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39) [ESV].

In the first century, to refer to the Scriptures would be to refer to the Old Testament. If the books of the Tanakh (i.e., Law, Prophets, Writings) testify of our Lord, then they ought to be studied and enjoyed with every bit of fervor as the New Testament, right? Thus, studying Exodus 28 was an opportunity to have some fun looking for Jesus in the Old Testament. Here’s some of what I found.

In the latter half of Exodus, God instructs the Israelites to function as His representatives on Earth. This includes protocols for worship and the priesthood, down to the clothing of the high priest (Aaron, brother of Moses). Exodus 28 covers the details of Aaron’s attire, seemingly painting a picture of the coming Jesus in the process. Painstakingly made, the priestly garments are “… for glory and for beauty,” (Exod. 28:2 ESV). Aaron’s coat, undergarments and turban are all white, signifying purity. The ephod is made of gold and woven skillfully with blue, purple and scarlet yarns matching the inside of the tabernacle (Exod. 26). On its shoulder pieces, the ephod has two onyx stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel. The breast piece is made in the style of the ephod, with the same blue, purple and scarlet yarns. On its front, the breast piece contains four rows of stones, each engraved with the name of the sons of Israel (Exod. 28:15-21).

Now, Aaron, as the high priest, is tasked with bearing the tribes of Israel on his shoulders and his heart (Exod. 28:12, 29). Apparently, only once a year Aaron would shed the breast piece and the ephod, and that was on the Day of Atonement. On this day, Aaron was simply to wear the all-white coat, turban and undergarments; this is to say, he was to shed his glorious clothes, and enter the tabernacle dressed humbly and pure.

Interestingly, Jesus is called our High Priest numerous times in the Book of Hebrews. To perform His work of atonement, Jesus entered creation without extravagant garments, temporarily setting aside His glory and standing pure within Himself. However, rather than bearing the weight of just Israel on His shoulders and heart, Jesus bore the weight of all His people when completing His work. Could it be the Aaronic priesthood and its garments were a glimpse of the true High Priest to come? If all of creation speaks to God’s invisible attributes (Rom. 1:20), then is it possible Jesus can be found in much more of our lives than what we currently perceive? I challenge us all to look, and then worship Him and serve Him.

Prayer: Father, Your Word speaks of Your works and wonders from beginning to end; thank You for leaving us pictures of Your Son to look forward to as we spend time in Scripture. Holy Spirit, as You dwell within us, I pray You would open our eyes wider, giving us daily reminders of the Son, His work and the cost of our atonement. Thank You, for everything. In Christ, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Samuel 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 4:14-16:  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of nee

Questions to consider

  1. What are some differences between Jesus and the Aaronic priests?
  2. What makes Jesus a better High Priest for us?
  3. Think about the last time you were comforted and encouraged by our high priest.

Notes

  1. While the Aaronic priests needed priestly attire to outwardly display themselves as God’s priests on Earth, under the garments stood, still, a sinful man. By contrast, Jesus’ outward appearance was humble, being that of a simple carpenter. Jesus carried the necessary glory and purity to serve as God’s Priest on Earth within Himself.
  2. I think Hebrews 4:15 hits this one on the head: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (ESV). We do not serve a God who arbitrarily makes rules for us to follow and punishes those who cannot keep to them. Rather, our God leads by example, having been tempted in the same way as we are, yet walked among us without sin. What’s more, our God provided Himself as the final sacrifice for His people to draw near to Him.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Clearly there are parallels between the garments of the Aaronic priesthood and the true High Priest, Jesus. Sometimes people refer to the parts of the Old Testament where specifications of the tabernacle are described, or the Law is given to the people, as the “dry” sections of the Bible because the narrative of the story is somewhat paused. Professor Dave Talley (Talbot) once remarked, “…it seems everyone likes watching the dominoes fall, but not so much watching the dominoes get set up,” while commenting on the Old Testament. I had never thought of it that way.  So, if we love Jesus, then we should love the whole Old Testament as well, dry stretches and all, because Christ is all over it.

June 9, Sunday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Residual Glory”

Exodus 34:29-30 (ESV)

It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

There’s something about the holiness of God that strikes fear in people, and we can’t quite grasp the magnitude of God’s holiness. Holiness, for our purposes, can be described as “set apart, or other-worldly.” A while ago, there used to be a popular phrase “Jesus is my homeboy.” Although Jesus is certainly our friend and we can approach Him freely because of His invitation to do so, we must realize that the holiness of God is still something to behold. There is something “other-worldly” about God that we cannot comprehend.

In Daniel 8:17, when an archangel Gabriel approaches Daniel, the holiness of the angel—not even the holiness of Jesus—causes him to fall prostrate on the floor. When Isaiah sees a vision of the Lord, he immediately says, “Woe is me, for I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” In Revelation 1, when John sees a vision of Jesus, he falls at His feet like a dead man. God’s holiness strikes fear in people.

When Moses came down from speaking with God, his face lit up because of the holiness of God. I think if I were there with Aaron and the others, I would be freaked out too, especially because of what happened just before Moses went back up the mountain. So if you don’t remember, Moses was meeting with God on the mountain for quite some time, and the people asked Aaron to make a god for them, in which he crafts a golden calf. Moses is furious and instructs the sons of Levi to slaughter those that had committed this atrocious act of worshipping this golden calf, and three thousand of them were slaughtered that day. But I think the fear of the people goes beyond this fear of punishment—there is a certain fear when we come face to face with the holiness of God when we ourselves are muddled with sin and darkness. It’s a natural reaction.

I’m reminded of the story of Jesus and Peter (Luke 5). Jesus performs this incredible miracle that leaves Peter speechless. All Peter can say is this: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” It’s not the miracle that scares Peter; it’s the holiness of Jesus that frightens him. He recognizes his sinfulness in the face of the holiness of Jesus. But this is what Jesus says to Peter: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” I think we have to hold this tension in the right manner. The holiness of God should strike a reverent fear in our life, so that we know that the grace of God is not to be taken lightly and nonchalantly. We know the punishment that was coming for us that was graciously taken by our Lord Jesus Christ. We must work out our salvation with this fear and trembling. However, we also don’t have to be afraid to enter into the presence of God. Because of the blood of Jesus, we have full access to our Father in Heaven and the fullness of His glory. Perhaps this is the radical middle of our approach to God – full of reverent fear, but unafraid to run into the arms of our Holy Father.

We are privileged to live in such a time like this. We have seen the full glory and holiness of God the Father through His son Jesus Christ. Our face too should shine with the residual glory of God, so to speak. May our lives be an awesome testimony to those around us – that it would strike an awe and wonder to the world we live in, bringing more and more to the saving knowledge of the good news of Christ.

Prayer: Father God, what a privilege to live in a time like this. What a privilege it is to know that You have come to make Yourself known to us in Your glory and splendor. May I live my life with this fear and trembling as I continue to be shaped by Your holiness, but may I also live with the confidence that I can run into Your loving arms. May the glory that resides in me cause my face to shine in the dark places of this world. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Samuel 1

June 8, Saturday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“God Is a Jealous God”

Exodus 34:11-17 (NASB)

“Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. 12 Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 13 But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— 15 otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods. 17 You shall make for yourself no molten gods.”

We typically think of the word “jealous” with a negative connotation, because after all, didn’t God say, “You shall not covet?”—meaning, you shall not be jealous of your neighbor, but be content with what you have. Don’t you find it strange then that God refers to Himself as a Jealous God? Yet there is a difference between a righteous jealousy and an unrighteous jealousy. Righteous jealousy is one that is jealous for what actually belongs to you; whereas, unrighteous jealousy is one that is jealous (or envious) of what does not belong to you. For example, if I were jealous of my friend who just bought a brand new car, that would be an unrighteous jealousy. And unrighteous jealousy breeds discontentment—and discontentment can spiral into all kinds of problems.   

An example of righteous jealousy that I read says this: If another man comes up to my wife and flirts with her, I would clearly be jealous. I would be righteous in my jealousy because my wife and I are committed to one another. She belongs to me and I belong to her. Can you imagine if I were completely okay with it and just let it happen without stepping in? It would actually be a bit absurd if I were not jealous at all.

God is jealous for the people of Israel because He calls them His people—meaning, they have entered into a covenant relationship with Him. As much as His people belong to Him, He is committing Himself to them and saying that He belongs to them. We see this theme throughout the Bible – God’s jealousy for His people. God doesn’t want His people entering into covenants with other gods. He warns them again and again not to whore after other gods in the land that they are about to enter, but this is exactly what Israel does.

When you look at the history of Israel, it’s actually pretty sad. God spends the majority of the exodus years trying to convince His people of His love for them and make them into a holy nation.  But shortly after they enter the Promised Land, they turn quickly to idols; and for hundreds of years they do exactly what God tells them not to do. In fact, if you look at the history of Israel, only small portions of their existence as a nation are spent on being faithful unto God. For the most part, they are unfaithful, constantly giving themselves to idol worship. It culminates with Solomon building a temple for the LORD, but immediately filling this temple with idols from all ends of the earth for political expediency.

Though many of us may no longer have idols made out of wood or stone, we have many idols of the heart that we need to address. There are many altars and sacred pillars in our lives that God is instructing us to smash and destroy. Could it be that as you are moving forward in life, there are dangerous idols that must be destroyed so that you could remain faithful unto God? Maybe you are graduating college, and the idols of money and recognition are at the doorstep. Or you are about to get married, and the idols of your spouse and future children are ones that God wants you to give to Him. Maybe you are considering transitions in life and the idol of “your plans” is what God wants you to release to Him. Whatever may be an idol of your heart, remember that God is jealous—He’s jealous because He loves you with a passion and you belong to Him. He asks you to destroy these idols before they destroy you. Let’s never forget that our God is a jealous God, who is rightly jealous for us!

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your love for me, and that You are jealous for me and for my heart. As much as I want to love You with all of my heart, it is difficult, because there are so many temptations and possible idols every corner I turn. But Lord, help me to destroy these snares, so that I may rightly love You as you have passionately love me. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 30-31

June 7, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The Character of God”

Exodus 34:6-7 (NASB)

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

God’s loving kindness and mercy and compassion is on display here. If you recall where we are in this story, Moses has returned to Mount Sinai to renew the covenant on behalf of Israel. Israel had broken their covenant with the Lord by worshipping a golden calf, for which three thousand are killed that day. Where is the mercy of God? Where is the compassionate and gracious God who is slow to anger? First of all, we need to understand that God has already been incredibly slow to anger toward the Israelites. Even though God has shown Himself again and again by rescuing His people out of Egypt through signs and wonders and pledged Himself to them, they committed spiritual adultery by worshiping a golden calf, a god made from their own hands.

Secondly, it’s important to understand what God is saying here, because it can be easy to see His statements as contradictory when read the wrong way. Yes, He does show loving kindness, forgiveness, and grace, but only for those that will repent and turn back to Him. In Exodus 32, Moses cries out “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” The sons of Levi gather to him and they are spared from the wrath of God. This is a picture of God’s call to us – whoever is for the LORD, must return to Him and receive His forgiveness, His compassion, His loving kindness. However, God will not leave the guilty unpunished, and He will punish the sins of those that remain unrepentant, even to the third and fourth generation. Does this sound familiar? The first time God makes a covenant with the people of God (in Exodus 20), He tells them not to make any idols, because God is a jealous God who visits the iniquity of the fathers on their children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Him.

As much as God is Love, Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness, God is Just. His justice and wrath will come upon those who hate Him, and it makes sense for Him to do so. Because God is love, He must hate sin, and He must punish and wipe away that sin. May this be a reminder for us – to hate sin as our God hates sin, and to turn to Him, knowing that when we do, He will shower his forgiveness and mercy upon us. Do not take His grace and mercy as a license for sin and rebellion. Rather, love Him because of His incredible love for you.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for your love and compassion. Thank you for your forgiveness and mercy. Soften my heart so that I may walk in the path of your forgiveness–that I may know the fullness of your love and compassion and be a recipient of your blessing. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.          

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 29


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 12:7-11 (ESV): Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Question to Consider

  1. What does this passage list as the importance of discipline?
  2. What is the fruit of discipline?
  3. What are ways you are currently experiencing the discipline of God?

Notes

  1. Discipline is for all who are considered children of God. When discipline occurs, it reminds the one that is being disciplined that they are His legitimate children. Sometimes, we don’t care for the discipline, nor do we understand the reason, but we submit to the Father who disciplines for our good.  
  2. Discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Those that have been disciplined and have experienced the fruit of discipline are not as allergic to the thought of further discipline, for they know that there is more fruit to come out of the discipline.
  3. Personal Response.

Evening Reflection

Sometimes the discipline of God can feel like the judgment of God coming down on us. However, we know that as children of God, we have been shown mercy and compassion. Even though we mess up and turn away from Him, we know that He disciplines us so that we will be restored to Him. However, as we learn today, the judgment of God will come upon those who continually choose to turn away from Him and reject His forgiveness and mercy.

June 6, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The Glory of God”

Exodus 33:21-23 (NASB)

Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

Glory is something that is very difficult to describe. Whenever I play basketball with people who are older and out of shape, we like to talk fondly about their “glory days” when we used to be able to run around, dunk and do all sorts of things that we can no longer do. But now, we need to stretch just to make sure we don’t pull a muscle. When we think of our “glory days,” we think of the peak of our human existence, when we felt like we were on the top of the world. Depending on how old you are, you will typically see yourself as either approaching the apex of your life or coming down from the apex of your life. Whether it be our physical attributes, our beauty, our careers, our energy level, we know that there is a peak in our existence that doesn’t last forever – which is why those that have passed it always refer back to the “glory days.” We have trouble defining glory because it is so hard to grasp – human glory is fleeting.

But the glory of God is different in that it is constant throughout the ages. There is no waning of His glory. It is not defined by time or space. So how do we define the glory of God? In many different passages, it says that “the whole earth is full of his glory.” Perhaps a synonym to that would be beauty. The whole earth is full of his beauty. I think of my days in San Diego when I used to sit on the Cliffs in La Jolla and look at the vastness of the ocean, thinking of the greatness of God and the beauty that fills the whole earth. Creation is full of the glory of God – and we know that feeling when we encounter something that takes our breath away.

In this passage, it tells us that the glory of God was too much for Moses to comprehend. Moses found favor in the sight of God and God honors his request to see the glory of God. But the caveat is this: Moses can only see the backside of God because seeing God face to face would be too much for Moses. For Moses, there was absolutely no reference point as to what the fullness of the glory of God would look like, and it seems to be impossible to comprehend for any human being.

John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” As much as Moses longed to see the glory of God, he was not able to behold it. But we live in a time where we have not only seen the glory of God through Jesus Christ, we have the glorious Holy Spirit living within us. How does it make you feel to know that by knowing Jesus, you have known the glory of God that was too much for Moses to comprehend? May we not take for granted this glory that has been revealed to us. As you start your day, let me encourage you to pause and take a moment to reflect upon the glory of God that has been revealed to you – and let that prepare you for the day to come.

Prayer: Father God, everywhere I look, I want to be reminded of Your glory. But more than Your glory that is mirrored in creation, help me to see the fullness of Your glory. Help me to understand the gravity of the glorious Holy Spirit dwelling in me. May my life then become a reflection of that glory. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 28


Lunch Break Study

Read John 1:14-18 (ESV): And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Question to Consider

  1. What do you think the “dwelling among us” means?
  2. What is the difference between the glory that Jesus embodies from the glory that Moses was able to see?
  3. How can you be more cognizant of the glory of God?

Notes

  1. The word that could be used here is “tabernacle,” as in, the Word became flesh and tabernacle among us. In the time when Israel was in the wilderness, they pitched a tent in the middle of an encampment where God would dwell with them. This was different from the gods of the past who were distant and far away, but God’s very presence was in their midst. Jesus and the fullness of His glory was described to have come into our very midst for the purpose of dwelling with us.  
  2. John talks about the glory that we have seen in the manifestation of the Word of God through the flesh of Jesus Christ. Jesus, as the Son of the Father, was the fullness of the Father. At the time, sons were an extension of their father. Therefore, Jesus was not just a representative sent from the Father, but the fullness of the Father coming to them. God made himself known as a visible manifestation to explain the invisible God through Jesus Christ.  
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Read this Psalm from David and spend a moment reflecting on God’s glory:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moons and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”  (Psalm 8:1-4).