Daily Devotional

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

sbaker : July 30, 2014 4:00 am

“Authority”

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.”  (Matthew 8:8-10,  ESV)

Genuine authority has only one source, and that source is our Almighty Father.  From Him, we encounter either direct or delegated authority.  Nothing catches Him by surprise, nor does anything extend beyond His strength or capability.  What a relief!

The centurion from Capernaum understood authority with refreshing simplicity.  He knew of the power one in authority could have over a situation.  He knew that his own authority would be unquestioned and fully followed when he directed soldiers under him.  He also knew Jesus was one who could heal.  He knew the authority that Jesus embodied.  He simply asked that Jesus would “say the word” to heal a paralyzed servant.  No road trip was necessary.  No pomp and circumstance. No fanfare.  Just a “word” from Jesus and it would be so.

In my honest moments, I recognize that I have a lot to learn about God’s authority.  I sometimes find it hard to trust in His spoken word.  I occasionally resist His reign in certain areas of my life. What would it look like to simply trust the King of Kings and unquestionably serve Him?  What would it look like to act on His word as if it were already so?  My prayer today is that I would display the simple faith of a servant following the Lord of All, with not even a fraction of my will beyond his rule and reign.  Care to join me?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

sbaker : July 29, 2014 4:00 am

“A Sin-Sensitive Heart”

“But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly’” (2 Samuel 24:10).

            This isn’t the first time we’ve seen David ask God for forgiveness. If you are a Bible reader the details should be vividly planted in your mind. Like me, David has sinned before. This particular instance seems mild next to his adultery with Bathsheba, his murder of her husband – Uriah the Hittite – and the cover-up that followed. This specific issue of sin is about a clumsy decision to take a census of God’s people. General Joab, not known for alertness to disobedience, cautioned his King about doing something as rash as counting heads. This entire story doesn’t register on our spiritual-alertness-gauge. What David is doing is flexing his military muscles. He’s showboating. He’s trusting in his power and his might, rather than placing his faith in the One who led Israel in battle, the One who defeated Israel’s enemies. Sin is sin and David ultimately recognized it, confessed it, and submitted to God’s judgment.

The colossal battle that all Jesus-followers are engaged in is a result of catastrophic sin that first began in the Garden of Eden. A spiritual war of immeasurable size goes on all around us every day. Satan and his vast army employ all kinds of treachery and strategy to keep us from recognizing sin, especially its destructive ways. A sin-sensitive heart is required. David had one. I long for one. God, alone, makes it possible to hone one. “Father, keep my heart alert, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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MONDAY, July 28, 2014

sbaker : July 28, 2014 4:00 am

Scripture:  “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  I John 4:10

Devotion:  Let me tell you about the love you so desperately desire.  Not that I’m a love expert, it’s just that today’s verse makes it so very clear.  Let’s start by acknowledging that we all desire to be loved.  Everyone does.  Gang members want to be loved.  Sexually active co-eds want to be loved.  Corporate executives want to be loved.  Little children want to be loved.  Assembly line workers want to be loved.  Stay at home moms want to be loved.  I could go on, but you get the point.

This then leads to the pursuit of this thing that we all want so much.  Some try to fit in with the crowd by changing to become like them – this is not love.  Some pursue attractiveness and use sex for love – this is not love.  Still others seek to be loved through the things they accomplish – this is not love.  Some pursue that funny feeling in their stomach when they’re around someone of the opposite sex – this is not love.  And finally, there are many who try to earn love by doing nice things for other people – this is not love.  John tells us what love is!

Love is what God has for us.  There are two things to consider from this simple verse:  1) You don’t have to earn it, buy it, give it, hope for it, or deserve it…God loves you!  2)  He has proven His love by his extravagant gift and you can never pay Him back.  Now, these two things are often hard for people to accept…because along with desiring love we also have a nature that wants to earn it and we want to respond to any love we have with equal love so that we can maintain our “deservedness”.  Well, too bad – God’s love is bigger and better than that.  There are only two things to do with God’s love – love Him back and love others like He loves us – and I think that’s the point of God’s love

Prayer:  Father, help me grasp just a little bit how much you love me today and may the realization of that love encourage me to love others with the love you have shown me in Jesus.  Thank you for your love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

sbaker : July 26, 2014 4:00 am

What do you think about the Christ?              Matthew 22:42

People have been trying to answer this question for the past 2,000 + years.   It is interesting that Jesus asked this question about himself several times in the Bible. In this instance (found in Matthew 22:41-46;  Mark 12:35-40, Luke 20:41-47) Jesus was having a theological debate with the religious leaders.  As usual they were trying to trap him so they could prove Jesus was not anything special.  Jesus as usual drew them back to the scriptures (Psalm 110:1) for the answer.

Jesus continues with his questions by asking:  “Whose son is he?  How is it then that David, speaking by the spirit, calls him Lord?  If then, David calls him Lord, how can he be his son?”   This passage discusses not only that Jesus is part of the Davidic rule / lineage  but also that he transcends this role as the coming Messiah.  He has stumped them once again, they cannot answer him, and ask no further questions.   For if they believe Jesus is who he says he is then everything changes for them  . . especially their place of prominence and control.  They have to acknowledge that Jesus is smarter than they are and they are no longer in charge.  The thought of this reality frustrates them and makes them angry.   They would rather not believe in Jesus and try to prove he was a fake.

A.W. Tozer once said, “What a man thinks about God is the most important thing about him.”   What you believe about Jesus is the most important thing about you.  It should change everything . . . but most importantly it changes who is in charge or in control of your life.  Giving up control of our life is one of the hardest things we do as we follow Jesus.  And yet, if we believe Jesus is God and our personal Lord and Savior then there is no other way to live.

What do you think about the Christ?   Your answer should shape your decisions today.  Talk to God about your answer and the day you have ahead of you.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

sbaker : July 25, 2014 4:00 am

“Then David said, ‘No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.’”  1st Chronicles 15:2

Perhaps you’re familiar with this story and why David gave these orders.  If not, I can tell you that David gained wisdom through mistakes.  How about you?

You see, David had the Ark of the Covenant brought to Jerusalem from Kiriath Jearim, but instead of transporting it by having Levites carry it on poles, as the Lord had prescribed, they put it on a cart and had it pulled by oxen.  This is how the enemies of God had transported it when they carried it away from the Israelites.

At a certain point on the journey back to Jerusalem the oxen stumbled and a man named Uzzah reached out to steady the ark.  Because he was not allowed the touch the ark, God struck Uzzah down and he died.  This made David “angry” (1st Chronicles 13:11) and “afraid of God” (1st Chronicles 13:12) and he had the ark taken to another town and left with the family of Obed-Edom.  After three months of watching God bless that family, he decided to have the ark brought to Jerusalem, but this time it was to be transported in the way that God prescribed.

I simply use this account to challenge you to harvest the wisdom that comes from the mistakes you have made.  Learn from the angst of negative consequences, accepting them as discipline from the Lord with a grateful heart, and be wiser the next time around – or at least pass your hard-earned wisdom on to those facing similar situations.  “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”  Proverbs 27:12.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

sbaker : July 24, 2014 4:00 am

“God’s Deliverance”

“Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.” 3:8

David’s prayer recorded in Psalm 3:8 has never been the “big idea” in our Kidsview program. It’s never been the guiding prayer for Sunday worship or the practical application from Mike’s sermon. It’s probably not a verse you’ve committed to memory or one that you share regularly with non-believers. It’s a bit uncomfortable… but it’s authentic.

David’s prayer provides a glimpse into David’s trust in the Lord. It’s a tangible reminder on how we can respond when we encounter injustice, persecution and suffering. First, David was authentic with the Lord. He didn’t pray what he thought he was supposed to pray. He didn’t pray politically correct prayers in case someone was within earshot. He prayed what he felt and trusted God could to handle his unfiltered feelings. Second, David trusted God to right the wrongs done to him. He didn’t have to take matters into his own hands. God’s character and very being are justice and righteousness. No wrong done to one of God’s children ever goes unnoticed or unaddressed. You can take comfort in knowing any act of evil or hurt committed against one of God’s children will be addressed; either by the blood of the lamb or the fires of Hell. In God’s timing, no injustice goes unaddressed. David knew that God would fight for justice on his behalf. He served a God who was both loving and just. Only God is equally and perfectly both.

Today if you’re facing pain and suffering at the hands of another person, remember that God can handle your honest unfiltered prayers and that you can trust in his timing and deliverance from your circumstances.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

sbaker : July 23, 2014 4:00 am

“The One and Only”

“You are my witnesses,“ declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.  Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.  I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:10-11,  ESV)

We live in a society that longs for multiple saviors.  While we don’t quite admit it that directly, we do have some phrases that expose our longing.  “All roads lead to Heaven” is a common expression that is shared with the best of intentions, but it stands in contrast to the claims of the sole Savior.  Today, let’s reflect on some key passages that declare the unique status that our God holds in a culture crowded with false gods.

  • Isaiah 43:10-11 (cited above)
  • “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me’.” (John 14:6)
  • “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
  • “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12)
  • “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  (1 John 5:11-12)
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