2019-09-02 – Habakkuk 3:18
Verse of the Day Devotion: Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Do we give God the glory in everything? I imagine that when something we have been waiting for finally comes to pass, we rejoice in God that He has provided what He has for us. When the big raise comes in, or the incredible promotion happens, or when our kids succeed beyond our expectations, I know I say, “Praise God!!”. However, what happens when things do not work out as we desire?
In chapter 1, Habakkuk cries out to God regarding God’s supposed non answer to a prayer. “How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists, and contention arises. Therefore, the law is ignored, and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore, justice comes out perverted.” Habakkuk 1:2-4. God answers them by saying I am about to do something they would not believe if they were told. “For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people Who march throughout the earth To seize dwelling places which are not theirs. They are dreaded and feared; Their justice and authority originate with themselves.” Habakkuk 1:6-7.
Habakkuk then responds, “Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct. Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?” Habakkuk 1:12-13 He knows who God is and he knows He is good. However, he is questioning what he sees. He asks the ‘why’ questions. He knows God, but sees something that is contrary to what he knows. How many times in these situations do we call out Why, Why?
Habakkuk then prays to the Lord. He speaks of Him, declaring what good He has done in past times for His people. “In indignation You marched through the earth; In anger You trampled the nations. You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil to lay him open from thigh to neck. Selah.” Habakkuk 3:12-13. He knows trouble is coming, and he is fearful. “I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us.” Habakkuk 3:16.
However, next he declares his trust in the Lord no matter what. “Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,” Habakkuk 3:17. What Habakkuk is saying is no matter what the results of the Chaldean attack is, if there is no food in the fields or animals in the barns and stalls. If there is nothing left to meet their needs, God is still good. “Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:18. What a beautiful picture of complete trust. When we find ourselves in situations that appear hopeless; where our means of meeting a need does not look like it will happen, can we rejoice in God? Do we rejoice in God? Nothing is impossible for God. “‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,’” Jeremiah 32:17. We need to praise His name no matter what situation we find ourselves. There is nothing He cannot do. And if this is true, and He is a loving and faithful God; which He is, then there is nothing for us to be concerned with, and we should rejoice in the idea we shall see His hand work on our behalf. Do we trust God in our difficulties and trials as Habakkuk did in his?
2019-09-03 – Hebrews 12:3
Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
This can be a very difficult verse to accept. What the writer of Hebrews is saying is we should be as Christ in our strength and fortitude regarding the hostility and suffering we experience. “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2. Jesus freely came here to suffer death for us, knowing through His own death we could be counted righteous and able to enter into the kingdom of God. And this was a great joy to Him. In fact, we would be joint heirs with Him. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-17. As Jesus suffered, we must also be willing to suffer for in so doing we will be glorified with Him. We should look at these trials as a precursor to great joy promised to us by Him, just as He, in joy, sacrificed Himself for us.
The Apostle Peter had a few things to say about this. “Servants be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it; this finds favor with God.” 1 Peter 2:18-20. We are to be kind to all, no matter what anyone does to us. If we are treated harshly, we are to endure it with patience. This is what we see in how Jesus dealt with unjust suffering. He could have saved himself but chose not to. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?’” Matthew 26:52-54.
We are called to follow this example. Paul again says here, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2. We are to be like Him, walking in love to the point that we would sacrifice our very life as well. This seems impossible; however, our focus verse shows us the way. We need to look to Jesus, see how He endured even more than we have or ever will. How He was treated even more harshly for no cause then we ever will. We must, through the Holy Spirit, suffer for the cause of Christ. We are not to compromise but be steadfast under every circumstance. And when we begin to faint and lose heart, go to God. “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
We are not alone. God will be with us, helping us to follow the ways of Jesus, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart when persecuted. This is a great promise that we must grasp with all we have. And the harder the persecution, the more we can count on Him. What a great and loving God we serve.
2019-09-04 – 1 John 2:1
Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
In the first chapter, John lays out how we are to view sin in our lives. “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:5-10. In summary, John is saying if we say we are fellowshipping with Jesus and yet continue in sin, we are lying and there is not truth in what we say. But if we live and walk in holiness and purity and thereby shine the light of Christ into the darkness, then we shall have fellowship with Him and each other. Notice the two things John says about the declaration of no sin. 1) we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us, and 2) we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
John states in our focus verse that he wrote those things that we would not sin. The idea here is to strive for a life of holiness. To make the purpose of our life to live in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord. Unfortunately, we are all tempted to sin, and there are times when we succumb to the temptation. However, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus, who lived the life of perfection we could not and through His death, burial and resurrection we were justified, declared righteous, for the penalty was paid for us on the cross of Christ. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
This to me is a very encouraging verse. We are called to live a holy life, and we can only do this through the power and agency of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, we get distracted from this calling and we fall into the trap of doing what we want as opposed to what God wants. This, to me, is the definition of sin; following our desires rather than His. The encouraging thing is that we have that advocate with the Father. The definition of advocate in the Merriam-Webster dictionary Is one who pleads the case or cause of another before a judicial court. Jesus pleads our case before the Father for mercy and forgiveness, which is granted, again, because of the work of Christ on the cross. He does not just forgive, but He also cleanses us from all unrighteousness. How great is the Father’s love for us!
2019-09-05 – 1 Corinthians 16:13
Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
There are times when the enemy makes it difficult to stand strong in the truth. Have you ever been in a position where staying true to God would end in persecution or humiliation? I will say I have, and in my earlier years I had not always taken a firm stand for Christ.
The thing this verse alludes to is we should always be on our guard. We need to look out for the enemy and his wiles. He does not want us to be successful in this Christian walk. He is constantly putting stumbling blocks in our way, desiring that we fall away or at the least, compromise. Have you ever been with people who subtly get you thinking of things you know are wrong? Or in desiring to fit in, have you spoken badly about someone or nodded in agreement when someone else has?
These times can be hard to see, which is why Paul is adamant that we be on the watch. We must always look at everything to ensure we do not fall victim to the temptations brought our way. What I have found true is the things we desire often are the areas he attacks us in. If we are looking for friendship, we must not desire it more than staying true to God’s commands, for it would be easy to compromise our beliefs if we are not careful. If we desire to go away somewhere, would we be willing to lie in order to get out of another commitment we made earlier, even if that would result in harm to another? We must stand firm in the faith; for our sake and the sake of others. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians 2:3.
We must never yield to anyone or anything that desires us to sin, showing the world we are not serious about our faith. We must always stand for what we know is the truth, not wavering at all. We must hold firm to our confidence in God, notwithstanding all the deceit, insinuations, and those of our friends who try to get us to follow their false ways. As it says, we must be that man or woman who does not act cowardly but stands boldly before all no matter the consequences. This is what we are called to do. This is who we are called to be. I want to encourage us all to be willing to give all, up to and including our lives for the sake of the gospel. And we can only do this through His Spirit. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12.
He gave His life for us. Should we not be willing to give ours for Him?
2019-09-06 – Mark 12:43
Verse of the Day Devotion: Mark 12:43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;
This scripture is about giving to God. Here are the contextual verses. “And He sat down opposite the treasury and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.” Mark 12:41-42. It is important to note these were voluntary contributions by the worshippers which were used to buy wood for the alter, as well as other necessities not provided for in any other way.
Jesus sat and was observing the giving that was taking place in the treasury. As He watched, he called the disciples to Him and gave them a lesson in giving. He saw many rich people giving large amounts of money. By the fact Jesus saw them from a distance, this was probably being done in a way that was intended for others to see. They were making it clear how much they were offering and was proud of the amount they dropped in the containers. Then He watches as a poor widow came and dropped in two small copper coins, the smallest denomination of coins back then, worth less than a cent in todays value.
Many would say the rich gave much more than this woman. They would only see the amount that is given. However, that is not how Jesus saw it. “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:43b-44. Jesus is not as interested in how much we give, but in how much we sacrifice. Notice the words describing the offerings. The rich gave of their surplus, the widow gave out of her need. The rich gave what they had left over, the widow gave all she had to live on. Charity should not be judged by its appearance; what we see with our eyes, but by the spirit in which it is given.
God sees everything we do, both our deeds and our intentions and motives. He sees what we do in public and what we do in private. There is nothing hidden from Him. He sees the circumstances and our heart; whether we act with care or negligence. With a heart of compassion and love, or of arrogance and greed. The poor widow gave more because she gave her all. She gave out of her love for God, giving because she wanted to honor Him. She also gave out of trust because I think she knew she would be taken care of. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11
We must check our motives and ensure our giving is to honor Him and not ourselves. Our motives and compassion decide the value of our gift.