Daily Devotional

Saturday, April 19, 2014

sbaker : April 19, 2014 4:00 am

“Come now, let us settle the matter, says the Lord.”  (Isaiah 1:18a)

I have heard the words “let’s settle the matter” a lot.  I’ve heard them in movies.  I’ve heard my dad say them when I was growing up.  I’ve even heard myself say them.  They are typically said when whoever is about to say them has had enough of the current circumstances.  Or there has been enough vacillating back and forth and it is time to make a decision.  Or the waiting is over and it is time to finish the task.  Let’s look at the words that come after the above statement:

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”

says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson,

they shall be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

Jesus would settle the matter of our rebellious nature at the cross and in the grave.  No longer would our sins keep us unacceptable in his sight.  No longer would the color of our disobedience be seen as red as crimson.  No.  We shall be white as snow or wool.

In fact Jesus would say it this way:  “It is finished.”  (John 19:30)

I invite you and all those you know to Easter services tomorrow at Eastview Christian Church.  It is an invitation to get things right.   “Come now, let us settle the matter.”

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Friday, April 18, 2014

sbaker : April 18, 2014 4:00 am

“But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it.  I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  2nd Samuel 24:24

King David was required by God to go to a specific area and offer a sacrifice for a sin he had committed, and to stop a plague that had resulted.  When David arrived at Araunah’s threshing floor and wanted to buy it from him in order to build an altar and offer the burnt offerings, Araunah offered David anything he needed.  David knew that this offering needed to be a sacrifice of his own.  He declined Araunah’s offer saying that he would not sacrifice burnt offerings that didn’t cost him anything.

We’re on borrowed time, with borrowed money, borrowed resources, borrowed talents, and borrowed abilities.  All of these God has entrusted to us to use in this world for His purposes.  How many of my offerings have been easy and out of the excess of my life, causing little sacrifice, if any.

I am moved by David’s commitment that his offering needed to cost him something.  I will be thinking about that each time I give my money, time, and effort to God’s kingdom.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

sbaker : April 17, 2014 4:00 am

“An Easter Reminder”

“Yet he did not waiver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but he was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:20 – 22

An unhurried reading and reflection on Romans 4 would be a great way to prepare your heart for the Easter weekend. In chapter 4 Paul almost exclusively focuses on Abraham’s journey of faith. Paul outlines a compelling argument that we’re justified by our faith and not our works.  It’s our belief in Him and not our works for him that make us righteous before Him.

Which foundation have you built your life on? A life built on faith and a life built on works is fundamentally opposed. A life grounded in faith declares that God’s works and His promises are enough. I can’t add to it, it’s complete. A life grounded in works depends on my performance. It makes me anxious… it asks nagging questions like “Am I doing enough” and  “is God pleased with me?”  Let this be a timely reminder leading into Easter, that our faith in the authenticity of that one single event is the reason that God calls us his sons, his co-heirs, his children.

Paul dominates chapter 4 with “credit” talk. He uses this term in verses 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 (same Greek word translated count), 9, 10, and 11. It’s everywhere. Why? Because Paul’s constantly reminding us that the deposits coming into our spiritual account are not being earned by our works. Because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, God is consistently crediting our account based upon our faith in what He’s already done. That’s a timely Easter reminder from Romans 4. I can’t wait to celebrate with you on Sunday!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

sbaker : April 16, 2014 4:00 am

“Christmas and Easter”

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end”.

(Isaiah 9:6-7a)

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst’.  A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28-30).

              As we approach Easter, I thought it might be helpful to see the two ends of the spectrum regarding Christ’s life on earth.  His birth (Christmas) and his death (Easter) mark our calendars and our lives to this very day.  Let’s take a moment to reflect on these two insightful passages.

This passage from Isaiah forecasts the coming Christ, but does so about 700 years before he would walk this earth.  In these two verses, we see Him referred to as “son,” “Counselor,” and “Father.”  Here we have a picture of the Trinity and a foretaste of His reign that will be characterized as peace-filled and everlasting.

In John’s gospel we are reminded that Scripture was fulfilled in the life of Christ.  We see that He declared “it” is finished, rather than “I” am finished.  In this passage, we see that the author of Life breathed His last breath, not as a victim, but as a victor.

This Sunday many will attend church for their first time of the year.  Some will hear a familiar story and enjoy a nice event with their families.  We hope and pray for much more.  We hope and pray for people to encounter the risen Savior, the victorious “Prince of Peace” and “Everlasting Father.”  Our prayer is that people recognize the death on the cross as one endured for each of us … and that the empty tomb signifies the victory spoken of from Isaiah to John.  “Father, have your way with your church this Easter Sunday.  May you reign victorious over us.  In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.”

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

sbaker : April 15, 2014 4:00 am

“Cultivating the God-Honoring Heart”

“Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’

 In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this” (Genesis 20:5).

              Most of us know that today is tax day. If that’s news to you, “Too late.” Now that we have that matter taken care of, let’s talk about the heart. Genesis 20:5 is a small slice of a larger narrative about God’s faithfulness and the shared deception of Abraham and Sarah. Canaan, the place to which they had sojourned from Ur, was not known for hospitality to strangers, and because of that fact, Abraham was afraid that men would notice the beautiful appearance of his wife, want her, and kill him. So, he asked Sarah to promise him that when people asked about their relationship, she would reply, “He is my brother.”

They had practiced this cover-up back in Egypt. Check out Genesis 12:10-30. Our devotional passage today marks the second time that Mr. and Mrs. Patriarch, known for their enormous faith in the New Testament (and rightly so), lied straight through their married teeth. And the really crazy part to this saga is that Abimelech, the man who had taken Sarah as his wife, is the one who has cultivated the God-honoring heart. How he came to believe in the sovereign God of the universe is not revealed. How he had learned to cultivate this kind of heart is not disclosed. God simply acknowledged that it was true (20:6).

Don’t fool around with this. Let this tax day be the start of your earnest cultivation of a heart that honors God. His grace is sufficient. “Father, help us today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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Monday, April 14, 2014

sbaker : April 14, 2014 4:00 am

“The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?’  Cain spoke to Abel his brother.  And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.”  Genesis 4:6-8

It’s commonly understood, siblings (especially brothers) fight.  I remember, when my sons were young and had gotten in a spat, my wife remarking to me that “my boys are not going to fight.”  I told her, “good luck with that!”  Well if DNA related siblings fight, I guess it stands to reason that spiritually related siblings will fight as well.  A long history of church splits, controversies, and heated meetings attest to this reality.  Yet we are called to get along and love one another.  How?

One way is to get past our jealousy.  I think this is why Cain killed Abel and why many of us rise up against our brothers and sisters from time to time.  Cain was mad because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his.  Though Cain had offered what was unacceptable to God, He didn’t address his relationship with God, he focused on his relationship with Abel.  He could either make it right with God, or take Abel out.  He chose poorly.

If we find ourselves jealous of the attention, success, spotlight, or praise that a Christian brother or sister is receiving we should answer this simple question.  Do we want the praise of God, or do we want the praise of others?  If we focus on God and his affirmation alone, we’ll be less likely to kill our brothers and sisters because of jealousy.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

sbaker : April 12, 2014 4:00 am

Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:25        

I grew up going to a small country church.  Farmers were the primary profession of the 25-35 adults that attended each week.  It was very common for most of the men to be absent from church during planting and harvest seasons in order to “make hay while the sun shines.”  Although the practice of missing church was common during these seasons, my dad did not miss church.  And yet, every year we got our crops planted and harvested.  Every year our yields were as good or better as the other farmers.  Why?  God’s economy is different than our economy.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all things will be given to you as well.   Matt. 6:33

Our tendency when life gets busy is to cut out the spiritual practices.   Attending church / fellowship with other believers is a significant practice that keeps us connected with our Savior and Lord.  When you make a commitment to make Jesus Lord of your life on the first day of the week, God blesses this act of worship.

Tomorrow is a day when we have the privilege to gather together with other believers.   Make a commitment to come, bring a friend, and be ready to serve and worship our God.

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