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Temptations abound. As a Christ follower, we must understand that we will face temptation regularly. Even Christ was tempted. However, Christ did not give in to temptation. He withstood it. Using his example, we can also withstand temptation. The Lord knows we will be challenged, but He promises that we will be rewarded for staying strong and not giving in to temptation. When we do not allow temptation to separate us from the love of God, we will be blessed with eternal life.
Dear God, When I struggle with temptation, help me to cling to you. Do not allow me to fall under the weight of temptation and give in. I know sin separates me from you – help me to withstand temptation and hold strong to your truths so that I will never be apart from you. Help me to follow the example of your son, Jesus Christ, gave us when he resisted the devil. Give me the strength to endure temptation so that I may spend eternity with you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
To whom are we to show our loyalty?
This question is no easier to answer today than it was in the time of Jesus. What do we do when the demands of the gospel and the demands of the government conflict? Although there are many people in the world who don’t have the option to choose their leadership, many countries support an elected government. The government in question could be local, state or national. We pay taxes and by doing so, often support behavior that we do not agree with and that does not agree with gospel values. However, if we do not pay what is due, then we are subject to fines and possibly imprisonment. How did Jesus answer the question of his day?
Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what is God’s. We may not be able to easily choose what our money supports, but we can help determine what our government supports. We have a responsibility to know what those running for office – on every level – stand for and support. We have a responsibility to let our elected leaders know what bills we want them to help pass, and those we want to see defeated. This also means that we have a duty to register to vote and then to vote on Election Day. Apathy enables special interest groups to have the last say, not the general public.
How is this rendering to God the things that are God’s? How is this showing our support of the poor and the vulnerable? Are we willing to take the time to check out which of the candidates are committed to our values? Are we willing to make sure that our vote will count on Election Day? If we are truly committed to social justice, then we will take the time to make sure that when we render to Caesar, we are also rendering to God. And we can continue to advocate for those who do not have the rights that so many of us take for granted.
It is sometimes easy to get caught up in other people. We see people all the time who do bad things, but still seem to get ahead. The fellow employee who goofs off, but still manages to get promoted. The classmate who cheats on every assignment, but gets a scholarship. It is frustrating. In this passage, David reminds us that the wicked never really prosper, though it may seem that way. We are not to be envious of these people because they are doomed to “wither” and “fade.” Wickedness does not last. Only the things of God endure.
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
What’s it all about, in the final analysis? What’s the meaning and purpose of life, when you get to the very core of the matter? This is the subject that the teacher, King Solomon, deals with in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Before he gave his final answer in Chapter 12 at the very end of the book, he explored the various alternatives there are in the search for meaning in life.
His search encompassed many of the things that foolish people try to center their lives around. He tried wine, women, and song. He tried to find meaning in great projects like the building of homes, vineyards, gardens, parks, and reservoirs. He bought himself everything money could buy—slaves, flocks and herds, goods and services of every kind imaginable. He amassed gold and silver and got himself a harem. He searched everything and everywhere and denied himself nothing in the process.
What he discovered is that focusing one’s life around these creaturely things is meaningless: “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Nothing could satisfy his search for meaning and purpose, because everything he tried was temporary and limited in nature. You heap up wealth, for example, but you have to leave it to somebody else when you die. Thus, “This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:17-19). Even the search for wisdom itself is meaningless if it is done for its own sake.
Here in chapter 12 the teacher comes to the end of the matter. The final purpose of life cannot be found within the created order. Every good thing within the creation has its time and place, but if it is set up as the very focus of one’s life it turns into an elusive and meaningless chasing after wind.
Only the reverential fear of and love for the transcendent God of heaven and earth can provide us with a life whose significance will last for all eternity. Only the keeping of His commandments can offer us a purpose that will never fade away or lose its meaning.
Bible in a Year
Old Testament Reading
Numbers 34, 35, 36
New Testament Reading
Reading Plan Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.
Tyndale Life Application Daily Devotion
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of Heaven’s Armies…What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.
The writer longed to get away from the bustling world to meet God inside his dwelling place, his holy temple.
We can meet God anywhere, at any time. But we know that going into a church building can help us step aside from the busy mainstream of life so we can quietly meditate and pray. We find joy not only in the beautiful building but also in the prayers, music, lessons, sermons, and fellowship.
Psalm 35:3 Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
What does this sweet prayer teach me? It shall be my evening’s petition; but first let it yield me an instructive meditation. The text informs me first of all that David had his doubts; for why should he pray, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Let me, then, be of good cheer, for I am not the only saint who has to complain of weakness of faith. If David doubted, I need not conclude that I am no Christian because I have doubts. The text reminds me that David was not content while he had doubts and fears, but he repaired at once to the mercy-seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. I too must labor after an abiding sense of my acceptance in the Beloved, and must have no joy when his love is not shed abroad in my soul. When my Bridegroom is gone from me, my soul must and will fast. I learn also that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He went to his God in prayer, crying, “Say unto my soul I am thy salvation.” I must be much alone with God if I would have a clear sense of Jesus’ love. Let my prayers cease, and my eye of faith will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress. I notice that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. “Say unto my soul.” Lord, do thou say it! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian. Moreover, David could not rest unless his assurance had a vivid personality about it. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Lord, if thou shouldst say this to all the saints, it were nothing, unless thou shouldst say it to me. Lord, I have sinned; I deserve not thy smile; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say to my soul, even to my soul, “I am thy salvation.” Let me have a present, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am thine, and that thou art mine.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
2 Corinthians 7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within.
2 Kings 6:16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
1 Samuel 17:45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.
2 Samuel 22:33,35 “God is my strong fortress; And He sets the blameless in His way. • “He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
Psalm 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.
2 Kings 6:17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Hebrews 11:32-34 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, • who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, • quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
The word “chaff” is an odd word. We don’t use it much in everyday life, though farmers are pretty familiar with it. Chaff refers to the casings, or husks/hulls, left behind after a crop of corn or grain has been harvested. It is completely inedible to humans, but is sometimes used as fodder for animals. Essentially, chaff is the waste product left behind after the harvest is complete. Symbolically, in the Bible, the word is used to refer to anything that is worthless. In this case, wicked people are compared to chaff. Unlike the Godly man, the wicked man is worthless and will be blown away by the slightest wind that comes his way. Unlike the Godly man, the wicked man cannot be steadfast and will be “driven away” by the storms of life, because there is no substance to him. This verse spells out very clearly that the wicked man will in no way prosper in God’s world. Wickedness is not virtuous; it is, on the contrary, worthless and empty.
Father, Help me to not be like the wicked man in this verse. I don’t want You to see me as worthless. I find my worth in You. I strive to be a Godly person who follows Your way. I want to be useful in Your harvest, not left behind as worthless chaff. Help me Lord to be pleasing in Your sight and to follow You in all things.
The Pharisees came to ask Jesus for a sign even though they had witnessed the many miracles of healing he had performed. They had heard him preach and knew the authority with which he did it. Why didn’t they believe, what more were they looking for! We declare our belief in Jesus yet we often do the same. In our darkest moments don’t we wonder where Jesus is? I know I have said, “Please just let me know you’re there?” What about you? We see people pick up pennies from the sidewalk and if the date on it is the same as the birth or death year of someone we love, we think this is a sign that they are in heaven. How different is this from the Pharisees?
Our faith is tested every day. Sometimes it is tested in small ways, sometimes in a big way. It is tested when someone we love is seriously ill or dies. We ask, “Why God? He was a good person, prayed, went to church. Why him?” Or we lose our job just as our children are ready for college. Why me? Wildfires rage and hundreds lose their homes. Storms rage and lives are lost. Haven’t you ever wondered how a good God could let things like this happen? We are not that different from the Pharisees. Some people allow the doubts to turn into denial that God exists. The rest of us hang on knowing that God doesn’t cause bad things, he helps us get through them.
Dear Father God, forgive me in Jesus name for any doubts. I am sorry for not keeping trust in You when I am not feeling well. For me for grieving the Holy Spirit when my soul is down. And, I thank You Jesus for Your great love through your blood.
I praise Your name for everything wonderful gift and all the beautiful grace in my life because of you.
Bless the Father, Bless the Son, Bless the Holy Spirit, in Jesus name I pray Amen
I have a good friend who feels stuck. That’s not an uncommon feeling. You have probably felt that way at some point in your life; that point may even be right now. Perhaps you’ve experienced the feeling of being stuck in your marriage, your job, your home life, or your school, and you know how frustrating it can be to keep trying to get unstuck without seeing breakthrough. That’s where this friend is. He’s tried everything, and he’s really bummed out. He just can’t make the right things happen.
We met one morning for coffee, and he pulled out a pen and started diagramming on a napkin. “God spoke to me,” he said. “I realized all the things I couldn’t change, even though I had done all I could to change them.” So he wrote down his life categories: God, family, himself.
“I always say it’s God ﬁrst, then my family, then me,” he said. “Then I did a little proﬁt-and-loss evaluation, an inventory of where I am and how I’m stuck. I keep hitting things that don’t move, so I started wondering if God wanted to teach me something. And I asked.”
He went on to describe his thought processes in conversation with God, and what he thought God was teaching him about his relationship with God, his family, and himself. He looked at all his activities and where his energy was going, and even though he mentally placed God first, most of what he was doing was directed toward himself. He realized his words—his commitment to place God ﬁrst and his family next, above himself—didn’t really line up with his actions. So he reorganized his life, reprioritized, moved some things around, and said, “Okay, I want to learn.”
That changed things. He realized what we all eventually discover for ourselves: that the goal of life is not self-actualization. It’s not to be fulﬁlled and have everything go our way. God’s primary agenda in your life is to make you like His Son, to use all the ups and downs in a fallen world to develop that vital relationship with Jesus by the power of His Spirit, rooted in His Word, in the context of authentic community, so that little by little you begin to think, talk, and serve like Jesus. It’s for moms, dads, children, siblings, coworkers, and neighbors to embody the nature of God in Christ.
If you’ve struggled with that same discrepancy between your stated priorities and your actual investments of time, energy, emotions, and resources, this is where it’s leading. When that vital relationship with Jesus becomes your priority, there will be people in your life who don’t understand how you can go through the hard times or the injustice you’re facing, who wonder how you keep such a level head in the midst of successes and abundance, who can’t believe you aren’t undone by the ﬁnancial crisis or the pandemic that everyone is so worried about, who see the same version of you no matter what you’re going through. You may still experience and express a range of emotions through those ups and downs, and you may need to work through some of them with God, but you begin to take on His nature and His peace. You manifest a supernatural calm and conﬁdence regardless of your circumstances. You seem a lot more like Jesus than the disciples in that storm-tossed boat.
That’s God’s agenda for you, and when you become teachable in the midst of your circumstances, you learn what you can change and stop focusing on things you can’t change. In any situation, you are able to thank God for what you do have and quit dwelling on what you don’t have. And you begin to see every circumstance as an opportunity to demonstrate something of the nature of God and see it being formed in you.
Chip Ingram appears this Monday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from I Choose Peace by Chip Ingram. Copyright ©2021 by Chip Ingram. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.
Today’s gospel passage makes it seem so simple! Ask God for what you want and you’ll get it; look for what you want and you’ll find it; just knock and doors will be opened to you. However, Jesus reminds us that God is a good father and will not give us what is wrong for us! When you were young, did you ever ask your parents for something that was just not right for you? Perhaps your children have done the same to you. You don’t give a baby a steak, nor do you give a toddler a 10 speed bicycle. You wouldn’t let your children look for milk in the cabinet where you keep your cleaning supplies. But sometimes we are looking for what we think we need in all the wrong places. Yes, Jesus tells us to keep asking for what we need and we will receive it, but he also expects that we will be asking for the right things. We are bombarded with ads that tell us what we need to do or own in order to be happy, but are those things truly what we need? Jesus tells us that we need hearts that are open to others, that we must be people of peace and forgiveness, and when we ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we will surely receive. When we pray, do we ask God to give us those things which He knows we need in order to be happy, or do we ask for what the media says we need? If we leave the decisions up to God, then we will always receive what we ask for; we will find what we are looking for; and doors will open at our knock.
Through Jesus Christ, we can have boldness in our speech as we speak about Him, and boldness as we live knowing that death is gain. Through Jesus, we also get access to the Father, whom we wouldn’t have access to without Jesus. Beyond that, we can come to the Father confidently in the name of Jesus because Jesus covers us. He puts on us His perfection and victory over sin. Through Jesus, by faith, we get great rewards.
Father in Heaven, I am so glad that I can come before You confidently. Thank you for sending Jesus so that through Him I would be able to approach You. You have given me great things, so let me live boldly. I have no one to fear but You, Lord. You are the only one who needs to be pleased with me. Make me confident as I live out my days for You – not for men. You are good. You are beautiful. I truly serve the God of all things who created all things. There is no evil in You. I come to You, Father, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sometimes preachers use this text to question whether or not Jesus has siblings, but I think they miss the point of the text. Jesus looks at the people gathered around him, listening to his message, and says that the one who does the will of God is mother, brother and sister to him. The important thing is that he includes us in that as long as we do the will of God. In another part of the Bible, we are called adopted children of God, again being described as the brothers and sisters of Jesus. The key here is doing the will of God. This can be a stumbling block for us. What does it mean to do the will of God? Do we ever ask God to show us the path he wants us to take? Do we ask for guidance when we have an important decision to make? Do we ask for help when faced with temptations? We know that the commandments provide guidance and we have the Beatitudes to give us further instruction, but do we pay attention to them? Many times I know that I don’t. I just go along my own way and then wonder when things don’t turn out the way I want! This is especially true when I am not as considerate of others as I know I should be. I say I want justice but don’t always let my action follow my words. How about you?
Jesus was sent to preach the kingdom of God all over, not just in one place. He taught in places where others would not even go because of prejudices. Then after He had died, risen, and departed, His disciples continued preaching and spreading the gospel throughout the earth. Today, there are still groups of people who have never heard the gospel. There are missionaries whose goal it is to bring the gospel to those people. Eventually, every tribe, tongue, and nation will hear the name of Jesus and the good news about Him.
Heavenly Father, I pray for the peoples who have never even heard of the name of Jesus. Send missionaries and believers to share You with them. Prepare their hearts to receive You and Your word. Give them true hope and save them from judgment. You have a plan for all of us, and You are sovereign. Let Your will be done in the nations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“I Choose to Forgive”
“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
C S. Lewis pointed out that “forgiving does not mean excusing . . . if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive.” The people of Paducah, Kentucky, understood this. A few years ago, fourteen‐year‐old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of students who had gathered in prayer. In seconds, ten were wounded, three fatally. Yet the students and people from the community showed a remarkable willing‐ness to forgive. Placards appeared at the high school reading, “We Forgive You, Mike.” Kelly Carneal, Michael’s sister, was not only embraced by her peers, but was also asked to sing in the choir at the slain girls’ funeral.
During the town’s annual Christmas parade, the people lifted up a moment of silent prayer on behalf of Michael and his family. One young girl said it best: “I can hate Michael and bear the scars of what he did for the rest of my life. But I choose to forgive him and get beyond it.”CONTINUE READING →
How to Help Your Spouse Grieve Beth Ann Baus
Helping your spouse grieve is a privilege because it’s an opportunity to love, support, comfort, and rely on the Lord in a very specific way.CONTINUE READING →
No matter what a person believes on the matter of interracial marriage, I want to begin with the fact that we are all made in the image of God.CONTINUE READING →
Bible Trivia Question of the Day What did the townsfolk of Gerasenes ask of Jesus after he cast the legion of demons out of the possessed man into the herd of pigs?
A. they asked Jesus to heal their sick
B. they asked Jesus to leave their town
C. they asked Jesus to perform more miracles
D. they asked Jesus to feed them
I am a 47 year old Native American woman who has servived being raped, being beaten and being shot by my husband who then selflessly killed himself in front of me. Seven years have past but I still can’t get the image out of my head. But, I thank God for keeping me alive. My past is my experience. An experience you can’t get in any class room. It was a hard challenging life, but By the grace of God I am here. Only to be a true testimony for the living God. To glorify His Holy Name. Fasting and prayer work hand in hand with each other. You cannot fast without praying – otherwise you will simply be on a hunger strike. The point of fasting is to sacrifice earthly needs in order to focus more on communing with God. Prayer is how we commune with God during this time of fellowship. It is in these times we can receive visions, revelations of God’s word, and a refreshed assurance in the goodness of God.
Boy, are we just like the people in Jesus’ day! We say we will follow Jesus, but we put it off with all kinds of excuses! I need to work; my kids are in sports; I’ll do it when I’m older. I don’t have time right now for you, Jesus, but the day will come when I will have time. Imagine how that works with our earthly relationships! There’s an old song called “Cat’s in the Cradle” that talks about a father who doesn’t have time for his son while the son is growing up and only realizes what he has done when he retires and the son now has no time for him. The good news is that Jesus will always have time for us no matter how long it takes for us to wake up and make room for him in our lives. But think of what we miss! We can miss years, or in some cases, a lifetime, of knowing that Jesus has our back – he will always be there to help and guide us. His grace will be there to keep us from making some pretty terrible mistakes. All we need to do is follow him. In one of the classes we had this spring, the video instructor explained that the “yoke” that Jesus asks us to take for our own, is not a burdensome piece of wood that keeps us tied to the plow, but rather, a point of view. Jesus asks us to view life as he did – working for justice, in communion with one another, always connected to the God who made us. Yes, it can be difficult at times because the world is always pulling us in all directions, but with the grace of God, we can do it. What has happened when you didn’t follow Jesus? I know that in my life, that’s when I was on my knees begging God to get me out of the mess I made. In the long run, life is actually easier when we give in, let go of the excuses, and just follow Jesus.
Dear God, my prayer is that everything I do will never be done out of ignorance or selfish desire. May I never have any ulterior motives in my actions because I know how this can nullify the very act. May I remember that the importance of all I do is to communicate with you and to ensure that your name is glorified at all times. In Jesus name I pray Amen