Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Friday, April 16 2021
Verse of the Day
However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God. [Deuteronomy 20:16-18 – NIV]
Just what did the Israelites not understand about this command from the Lord their God? Here’s the setting: they were about to enter the Promised Land and God wanted to make sure that they remained a holy people who were totally devoted to Him. A critical part of this process was to ensure that they removed all of the temptations associated with the other nations they were displacing, most importantly their pagan cultures and gods. But, the Israelites really had a problem with obeying God’s commands fully and completely. They always did things halfway. So when they conquered the Promised Land they did not do as God commanded. They spared many of the peoples of the other nations that lived in the land and, by doing so, sealed their fate. They intermarried, started worshiping other gods, and eventually strayed away from the Lord their God.
This pattern of disobedience continues to haunt the Israelites throughout their history. For example, in 1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel confronts Saul about his not being fully obedient to God by failing to completely destroy the Amalekites. Saul had received direct orders to kill everything and instead he ignored God’s command and brought back some of the best sheep and cattle, supposedly as a sacrifice. Samuel chastised him by saying, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Just like the Israelites, we find it difficult to fully obey God. He wants our entire heart, but all too often we give Him far less. He is our constant Rock; our cornerstone. We are weak and He is strong. Trust and obey Him! Don’t be tempted to ignore His Word. It is so good and so true! It is transformative (a fancy word for life-changing). What can be better than that? After all, that’s what we really need, isn’t it?
Thursday, April 15 2021
Verse of the Day
Now the [Israelites] entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes… [Nehemiah 10:28-29 – NKJV]
After years of worshiping other gods and idols, the Lord finally lost patience with His Chosen People and their sinful ways and poured out His wrath on them by causing Assyria and Babylon to conquer the northern tribes and Judah, respectively. The Israelites finally returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, first to rebuild the temple and then to repair the wall of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah and the other Israelite leaders got it. They know full well why the Lord their God had poured out His wrath on their ancestors. Let’s go back even further in time. When the Chosen People were about to enter the Promised Land, God wanted to make sure that they remained wholly devoted to Him. A critical part of this process was to ensure that they removed all of the temptations associated with the other nations that they were displacing, most importantly their pagan cultures and gods. But, when they conquered the Promised Land they did not obey as God commanded. They spared many of the peoples of the other nations that lived in the land and by doing so, sealed their fate. They intermarried, started worshiping other gods and eventually strayed away from the Lord.
So Nehemiah and the elders wanted to get it right the second time around. God had allowed them to return to Israel, but that wasn’t enough. God’s people had to restore their relationship with Him. They had to realize their previous sinful ways and take steps to ensure that this sinful behavior never happened again. The way to accomplish this was to remove the temptation by taking an oath to “not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons.”
They got off to a good start the second time around, but it didn’t last long and they were back to their same old ways. Like the Israelites, we are prone to wander. We don’t stay focused on the Lord our God for long, do we? So join me in praying that we will be consistent and constant in our Walk with Him!
Wednesday, April 14 2021
Verse of the Day
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. [Isaiah 5:20 – NIV]
I am not a theologian, but it is my understanding that almost all of the signs, predictions, and prophesies about the end times were fulfilled shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and that Believers ever since have lived in eager anticipation of the Second Coming. Our lifetime is no different. Several more milestones have occurred.
One of the signs that the end times are upon us is an ever-increasing tendency of the secular world to consider right as wrong and wrong as right. There has been an acceleration of this in recent years. The print and broadcast media, educators, politicians, in fact all of the elite are caught up in the remaking of society. They are abandoning God’s ways in favor of those of the evil one. Most are doing this unconsciously; they are simply being duped. Look around you. Have you ever seen a time when more things that are wrong are being portrayed as right and more things that are right being cast as wrong? Acceptable behaviors, beliefs, and lifestyles are changing right before our eyes.
As disturbing as this is, we know that we are witnesses to the fact that another sign of the end times is being fulfilled, and can take comfort in that. But we have to constantly be on guard that we don’t get brainwashed by all of the media hype. More so than ever before, Believers have to test everything they read and hear against the Word of God. Just because something is portrayed as “gospel” on the network news hour doesn’t mean that it comports with what is right in God’s eyes. Welcome to the end times!
Tuesday, April 13 2021
Verse of the Day
"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." [Psalm 73:25-26 – NIV]
Truer words have never been spoken. Our bodies are weak and our hearts fail. We are sinful and fall far short of the glory of God. He is all we have and all we need! It’s the old “but for” test. But for God, we would be lost, wretched sinners cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Give thanks to Jesus for His redeeming blood that covers our sins. Give Him praise today in all you do!
Monday, April 12 2021
Verse of the Day
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13-14 – NIV 1984]
I’m a car guy and have been for almost 60 years (in other words since I started to be aware of my surroundings). British sports cars, Italian exotics, German autobahn screamers, American muscle cars; it doesn’t matter. There is nothing like a fast car! And when you’re driving fast you want to shift through the gears as quickly a possible. Going forward rapidly is the name of the game. You sure don’t want to go out in reverse!
God wants you to do the same thing (go forward that is). As the Apostle Paul says in today’s passage, dwelling on the past serves no purpose. Sure, we have all sinned and we tend to think far too much about our past transgressions. We feel guilty. We are ashamed. But, thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we are made right with God. Our sins are forgiven, gone, up in smoke. So, take Paul’s advice and adopt a forward perspective. Pursue Jesus. Become more and more like Him. That’s the goal. Move forward towards Christ. What’s past is past. Live each day focused on eternity with Him!
Friday, April 09 2021
Verse of the Day
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 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 6:31-34 – NIV]
This seems like a nonsensical question, doesn’t it? Everyone is worried about his or her job, right? Duh! Well, yes and no. Read on.
We humans are prone to worry about everything. There is generally no aspect of our lives that we don’t worry about. This is because we delude ourselves with the mistaken impression that we are in control of our lives. And since we are in reality powerless, we have to worry because we just don’t know the future and what it will bring. No matter how hard we try to control future events we just can’t. After all, we are human!
It is sort of ironic that we worry so much about our jobs, since it is our God-given talents and abilities that manifest themselves in the marketable skills that enable us to provide for our families and ourselves. This is the fundamental point that Jesus is making about God providing all the things that we need. This is a big part of HOW He does it.
Despite the fact that God has provided for us we still worry about our jobs day and night. Will I get a promotion? Will I be laid off after the merger? Will I get a good review? Will I get the raise I deserve? Most employees think that they are God’s gift to the workforce. They are smarter than their bosses and their peers. They deserve to be treated better. They deserve to be paid more. And on and on and on. This behavior is characteristic of our old friends pride and elevation of self, and it also plays a big role in the worry game.
How do you come to grips with all of this? Seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness and worry fades away and is replaced by peace and serenity. That’s because you are finally focused on what is really important in life—your relationship with the Father.
I could tell you that if the things that you are worried about actually happen, in all likelihood God will provide a different and new path for you. You’ll probably get a new job and it may be the same, better, or worse than your current job. You may not get a promotion. Your salary may get frozen or cut. But no matter what happens I’ll bet that five years from now, when you look back over your life, things will be just fine. Trust and obey God. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.