“What’s your Isaac?” January 11

 

What's your Isaac? Is there something you've been holding too closely, something God is asking you to put on the altar? A grudge, a relationship, a career, a lifestyle, even a child that you haven't fully given to God?What’s your Isaac? Is there something you’ve been holding too closely, something God is asking you to put on the altar? A grudge, a relationship, a career, a lifestyle, even a child that you haven’t fully given to God? What blessings are you missing, as a result?

Also, read “From Tears to Trust” and “Lean Not on Your Own Understanding.” And in “Exposed Hearts” from Matthew 8, Jesus delivered two demon-possessed men from the power of Satan. But the people of the region were more concerned about their herd of pigs than what Jesus was doing.

Are there any “pigs” in your life that occupy more of your concern and attention than the work of God?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 21 & 22
Psalm 6.6-10
Proverbs 3.5-6
Matthew 8.18-34

 

What’s your Isaac?

 

Genesis 21 & 22:

His Trustworthiness When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

 

As I read and meditate on these two chapters, they can be challenging to fully understand. While the truths of God are, on the one hand, so simple a child can understand, parts are so profound that we can spend a lifetime trying to fully understand.

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction (2 Pet. 3.15-16 NLT).

As mothers and fathers and sons and daughters it’s difficult to understand the sending away of one child (21.8-14) and the offering up of another (22.1-14). But I couldn’t help but rejoice as I thought about our Proverbs reading today:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path” (3.5-6).

When we don’t fully understand all the “whys and wherefores” of Scripture, we can always rely on His trustworthiness (“Trusting God in Suffering”). That doesn’t mean we should seek to glean all that we can from God’s Word.

First, Ishmael—Ishmael was fourteen years older than Isaac and Isaac was probably about three years old when he was weaned (no sippy cups back then). Imagine this seventeen-year-old mocking a three-year-old.

Proverbs 20.11 says, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.”

But, God’s mercy was still at work here. God had not forgotten His promise to Hagar to protect Ishmael and to make a great nation of him. But it’s in the “sending out,” the consequences of our sin, that we are often brought to the end of ourselves and begin to look to God.

This is true in the lives of our children, too. Yet we are so prone to try to protect them from the natural consequences of their actions.  Continue reading

December 7 “Believe you are saved?”

believe you are saved

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 5 & 6
Psalm 139.1-6
Proverbs 29.19
1 John 5.1-21

 

Hosea 5 & 6:

Mercy is more important than sacrifice

Chapter 6.6, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

Jesus repeated this statement in Matthew 9.13 and again in 12.7.

In Matthew 12, Jesus’ disciples had plucked grain and eaten it on the Sabbath Day. He quoted this verse in rebuking the Pharisees when they had condemned them for it. The Pharisees believed their legalistic adherence to the law was what made them right with God. The next scene in the gospel account is this one:

9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.
11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Rather than trying to understand, they hardened their hearts still more.

Meditate on Hosea 6.6. Is there some area in your life where you are legalistically adhering to the law of God, but not out of a pure desire to love God and demonstrate His love to those around you? Continue reading

July 26 “Worthless religious activity”

religion, pious What does God value in the way of Christian service and religious activity? Are you relying on things that are worthless to God?

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 3-5
Psalm 89.1-4
Proverbs 21.27
Acts 26.1-32

Nehemiah 3-5:

Greed and selfishness

Nehemiah and the people continued to rebuild the wall, but not without opposition. Nehemiah’s response was the same one we should have when we encounter problems. Chapter 4, verses 8-9:

“… and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”

Nehemiah and the people prayed, did what they believed God wanted them to, and left the rest in the hands of God!

greed, money

Chapter 5 changes focus and talks about problems among the people themselves. Some of the Jews had taken advantage of the hard economic times and had charged high rates of interest and even taken as some of the other Jews as slaves to repay their debts. This was forbidden by the law. God takes a very serious view of this kind of behavior and Nehemiah dealt with it accordingly. Verses 11-13: Continue reading

February 17 “How to raise little hypocrites”

 

hypocrites

What is your goal in parenting? Is it to have well-behaved children? Be careful … raising little hypocrites can be easier than you might think.

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 5 & 6
Psalm 24.1-6
Proverbs 9.7-9
Matthew 28.1-20

 

Leviticus 5 & 6:

Open my eyes, Lord

Sometimes we find it challenging to read about all the sacrifices and the instructions for them. But it is important to remember that 2 Timothy 3.16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …” Notice those words “all” and “profitable.” God inspired these passages and included them in His Holy Scriptures for a reason. We need to remain faithful and open our hearts to the truths contained in them.

Anytime we are reading a passage that is less exciting to us we can ask God to show us what He has for us in the passage. There are always nuggets for us if we are willing to dig for them.

The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18).

Ask yourself, “Is there a command I need to obey here? Is there a sin I need to forsake? Is there a relationship I need to reconcile? Is there a truth I need to understand?”

 

Sacrifice alone

With that in mind, notice Leviticus 5.5, “And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”

Even at this point in history, sacrifice alone was just religion. It had to be accompanied by faith, repentance, and obedience.

How does that verse speak to us today? Continue reading

February 13 “Mirror … mirror”

Mirror ... mirror

Mirror … mirror … How many times today have you checked yourself in the mirror? What’s more important to you: how you look to others or the progress of God’s work?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 37 & Exodus 38
Psalm 22.9-15
Proverbs 8.12-21
Matthew 26.51-75

Exodus 37 & 38

Mirror … mirror … how many times have you looked today?

Bezelel and the others God had blessed with the talent and ability to craft the furniture and implements for this magnificent temple continued with their work. God was using all this beauty to give His people a little glimpse of His beauty and creativity and glory.

But one little verse jumped out at me as I read this passage. Verse 38.8, “He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” He made them from the mirrors of the serving women. Think about it. These were nomadic people living in a desert environment. But they were also women … women who experienced love and marriage and jealousy and a desire to look attractive to their husbands, or perhaps potential husbands. Continue reading