Daily Devotional

Friday, August 1, 2014

sbaker : August 1, 2014 4:00 am

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  Rather, store up for yourselves, treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-20

I have recently read and am currently meditating through Randy Alcorn’s book, The Treasure Principle*.  I encourage you to walk that journey of thought as well.  You will be inspired and challenged.

There are three quotes from the book that I have been mulling over in my mind this morning and I simply felt led to share those with you today:

“He is no fool to give what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.”  Jim Elliot

“Everything I’ve kept, I’ve lost, but all that I’ve given to God I still possess.”  Martin Luther

“Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth; whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.”  A.W. Tozer

I encourage you to read and re-read these words of Jesus, Elliot, Luther, and Tozer and ask God if there is something He wants you to hear from them today.

* The Treasure Principle, Alcorn, Randy. Multnoman. 2001

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

sbaker : July 31, 2014 4:00 am

“Can you Hear Me?”

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Whether shopping at the mall gives you a rush or you avoid it like poison ivy, you’ve probably noticed most stores play music throughout their space. In fact, some stores that target young adults blare music so loud you can barely think… and that’s the point. Recent studies show that playing music at 70 decibels or higher can actually increase the likelihood of customers buying things in the store. At this level, music begins to shape our mood and change our thought processes. Different areas of the brain are triggered and different decision making processes are engaged. The music is pleasing to the ear as you listen to it but it has a seductive undercurrent. That undercurrent changes our behavior and distracts us from decisions we might otherwise make.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus reminds us that before we dine with him, we have to hear his voice.  When we do, we experience intimate fellowship with him. If we can’t hear his voice we can’t invite him in. The Greek word describing this meal is “deipneo” referring to the main meal of the day, the most intimate fellowship you could have with close friends. It describes a meal you’ve shared with family that spanned hours, included great food, conversation, and many shared laughs. This is the type of fellowship Jesus longs to have with you. If this is true, then hearing his voice is the most important thing you can learn to do. Jesus reminds us of this truth in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.”

Like music in the store, our lives are constantly confronted with background noise, some we’re aware of and some we’re not.  These streams begin to influence our thinking and behavior. On the surface, they may be amoral (not right or wrong) or even good things, but they can distract us from His voice. Anything that does that must be set aside. Take a moment and identify the background music in your life that might cause you to miss his voice. Take a moment this morning to center your day on his voice, and readying your heart and mind for his fellowship.

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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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