Today's Devotional from Grace in the Workplace
Thursday, May 31 2012
Verse of the Day
For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. [Romans 7:5-7 – NIV]
In the Old Testament, the Israelites lived under the Law. It consisted of the Ten Commandments and many other commands and rules that God provided to ensure that His people were holy. The Law provided a means of covering sin, but it did not eliminate it. The Sadducees, Pharisees, and other religious leaders became very adept at keeping the letter of the Law; appearances mattered to them. Form over substance, so to speak. Thankfully, this all came to an end thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. His death and resurrection put an end to the Law. But did it?
In one sense, yes; because we no longer need the Law and its system of sacrifices to cover our sins. But as the Apostle Paul suggests, we still need the law to reveal sin. That is one of the many gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us identify sin in our lives. Once revealed, we need to repent and sin no more. Sin is still with us and we still need a means of dealing with it. But Praise God for His Son, Jesus who has freed us from the penalty of sin forever. Hallelujah!
Tuesday, May 29 2012
Verse of the Day
Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. [Judges 2:18-19 – NIV]
You know, try as they might, the Israelites never got it quite right. They never did exactly what God commanded them to do. They always fell just a little short of the mark. They were a stubborn, stiff-necked people. We can trace this tendency towards disobedience to Moses and the Ten Commandments. No sooner did Moses start climbing Mount Sinai than the people clamored for a pagan idol and Aaron made a golden calf for them. And when they finally entered the Promised Land after wandering around the desert for 40 years (more disobedience), they failed to follow God’s command and did not drive out all of the nations that occupied the land.
And so, because of their disobedience, God caused them to be punished. Turning to the passage in Judges, we can see that the people disobeyed God by following other gods and generally ignoring His ways. God’s wrath poured out on them and He punished them by turning them over to their enemies. But God had compassion for His people, and so He raised up a judge to deliver them from their enemies. Then the judge died and the people would return to their evil ways. God would then raise up another judge. This pattern repeated itself throughout the book of Judges and in fact throughout the Bible.
So are we Believers really that much different? All I can say is thank God for Jesus. We are no longer faced with the repetitious, cyclical pattern of disobedience, sinful behavior, and restoration of a right relationship with God, which goes on ad infinitum. Our Savior, Jesus Christ put an end to this once and for all. But, that doesn’t mean that we can disobey and stray from God without consequence. Why would we want to? We need to trust and obey, and if we love God as we should (and again, why wouldn’t we?), then this is the inevitable consequence.
I think the well-known hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” says it best: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”
Monday, May 28 2012
Verse of the Day
When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. [2 Samuel 6:6-7 – NIV]
Here’s a little contextual background about this passage. Before the reign of King Saul, the Philistines captured the ark and after a circuitous journey though their county (due to the fact that tumors afflicted the Philistine people wherever the ark went), it ended up in the temple of Dagon (their god). The next morning, the statue of Dagon was found prostrate in front of the ark. After restoring it to an upright position, it was again found prostrate the next morning, but this time its head and hands were broken off. After seven months of this, the Philistines couldn’t wait to get rid of the ark so they sent it back to Israel posthaste. But the ark was not taken to the temple; instead it remained for twenty years at the house of Abinadab and God blessed Abinadab and his family. When David became king, he noticed how God had blessed Abinadab and decided it was time to return the ark to Jerusalem so that all of Israel could be blessed.
King David had the right motive, but everything else about moving the ark was a disaster. God had given the Israelites very specific and detailed instructions about who could transport the ark and how they were to go about it. Nobody was to touch the ark. This was a capital offense. Keep in mind that the ark was the dwelling place of the Lord God Almighty and it was holy. David disobeyed or ignored all of God’s instructions for transporting the ark. It was transported on a cart instead of using the poles, as God had commanded, and the men who moved it were not Levites.
So when Uzzah reached out and touched the ark to steady it, God struck him dead. King David was angry with God, but God did this to teach him a lesson. God had gone to great lengths to prepare the Israelites to be His people. They needed to understand what it meant to be holy because God was holy. He could dwell with them only if they learned how to approach a Holy God. So Uzzah suffered for his sin when he touched the ark—the tabernacle of God.
Let’s fast forward to the present day. As Believers, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of God in our bodies. The ark is no longer His dwelling place; we are. So, what don’t we understand about God being holy? How do we treat His tabernacle? On the one hand, our physical bodies have nothing to do with our eternal life with God, but they are the repositories for His Spirit. So, how should we treat them? Should we eat, drink, and be merry? Aside from the fact that as Christians such behavior is unacceptable, it also fails to take account of the fact that we are ignoring the holiness of His tabernacle. Bottom line, we all need to focus on what it means to be holy and act accordingly. Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty!
Thursday, May 24 2012
Verse of the Day
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:33-34 – NIV]
Businesses in America are always going through changes. There are mergers, acquisitions, downsizings, and other realignments. Many of you are facing a “life-changing” event. Some of you are losing your jobs. Some of you are moving forward with different companies. And others are virtually unaffected.
For those that are facing change, God has one thing to say to you: He will provide. You can take comfort in His Word. Trust in Him and He will provide. Change in corporate America is not an uncommon thing. Acquisitions are really not a bad thing, and you will be amazed at the future that is in store for you. Just wait for six months or so and you’ll see. And for those of you who are losing your jobs, believe me, God will provide new opportunities for you. Who knows? You may find your dream job, but regardless, He will provide.
The key is to trust and obey. Remember—don’t worry about tomorrow!
Wednesday, May 23 2012
Verse of the Day
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, this is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” [Numbers 6:24-26 – NIV]
What a great blessing! I remember it fondly from my childhood. Mom and I attended the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and the minister would always end the service with this prayer (as the benediction). As I read it today something else pops out at me. God is instructing Moses on exactly how the Israelites are to be blessed—i.e., God wrote the blessing for Himself. So I think if He wrote it then we should pay attention to it. It’s special! I encourage you to use it in your prayers to bless others.
Tuesday, May 22 2012
Verse of the Day
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. [Proverbs 1:7 – NKJV]
Like most words in the English language, fear has several different meanings. If we are to seek wisdom, we must learn to fear the Lord, but what kind of “fear” are we to feel or express? What does it mean to fear the Lord? Are we to be terrified of Him; tremble in our boots at the very thought of Him? Is He a monster? Of course not! I’ll bet we can figure out the answer without consulting the dictionary.
God abhors sin, and we know the penalty for sin is death. We also know that God loves us; loves us so much in fact that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as the perfect sacrifice to redeem us with His precious blood. We are made right with God and have everlasting life thanks to our Savior. But all of us will be judged; so, it naturally follows that the kind of "fear" we are to have for God is the respect, reverence, and awe that He so justly deserves. He is God and we recognize our relationship with Him. We love Him and we worship Him for who He is.
Once we understand our relationship with God, then we can learn His ways and grow in His wisdom. Why would you want to be a fool? Seek out God’s wisdom and instruction. Soak up His Word! It is like sweet honey.
Friday, May 18 2012
Verse of the Day
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. [Romans 1:20 – NIV]
You know you have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to not realize that God exists. His creation screams His Holy Name from the mountains, to the prairies, the deserts, the cities, the pampas, the valleys, the peat bogs, the oceans, the Arctic and Antarctic, and everywhere in between. Day and night, rain and shine, summer and winter, it makes no difference—He is there. How can you walk around at night gazing at the stars and not see Him? Only the deceit of the evil one can shield the obvious from the view of the unbelievers. All the more reason to get out and share the story of the Lamb with all you meet. Never fear; as the Apostle Paul says, you’ve got a lot of help. After all, God is all around us. And never forget, His love is irresistible. We love Him because He first loved us.
Wednesday, May 16 2012
Verse of the Day
David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. [2 Samuel 6:14-15 – NIV 1984]
I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a dancer. My wife, Sharon, loves to dance and she’s recently gone berserk over all those dance shows on TV. Maybe I should take dance lessons from King David!
All kidding aside, all of us Believers should start practicing our singing and dancing and the sooner the better. We are going to be singing praise songs to the Lord of lords forever and ever and dancing with all of our might on the streets of the New Jerusalem to honor and glorify Him. When we get to heaven, we will see God’s face and there will be no more night (He will be our light!). So we will need all the energy we can muster because we will be singing and dancing 24/7 for eternity! A word to the wise: get practicing! I don’t care if you don’t like to dance or can’t sing a note. That’s not the point. What’s in your heart, and how do you feel about God? This is more of an attitude thing than a talent thing. He doesn’t care about the performance, He cares about our hearts. Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him!