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Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Tuesday, June 26 2012

Verse of the Day

He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given. [Proverbs 19:17 – NKJV]

I’m sure most of you remember Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol. He was a selfish, bitter, miserly old man. When approached by two gentlemen who asked him to give to the annual fund for the poor he replied, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” That was his attitude until he was visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. After their visits, he was transformed into the most generous and caring man in all of London.

How about us? Do we really care about the poor around us or do we just go about our busy lives without really noticing them, without taking time to interact with them, and without taking time to care for them as God would have us do? In Deuteronomy 15:11, God tells us, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” This fact doesn’t provide us with an excuse. Notice that God’s statement that the poor will always be with us is coupled with a command, to be openhanded (generous) towards the poor among us. Caring for the poor is one of Jesus’s central themes. In Luke 6:20, Jesus says of the poor, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

So what are we doing for the poor? I don’t think it’s enough to just give to your church or to a charity (that’s not a bad thing though!). It is always better to get involved personally. There are lots of opportunities out there to help your fellow man. Check them out.

Posted by: John AT 01:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 25 2012

Verse of the Day

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” [Matthew 9:10-13 – NKJV]

The Pharisees were Jesus’s favorite target because they just didn’t get the point. They had deluded themselves (probably with a lot of help from Satan) into believing that it was enough just to keep the Law while forgetting why they were doing so. The purpose of the Law was to provide a means of covering sin so that God’s people could have a relationship with Him. The Law was about God, and when you take God out of the equation it becomes meaningless. The Pharisees had long forgotten the purpose of the Law. They were far more concerned with themselves than they were with God.

Then, Jesus entered the picture. I just love His response to the Pharisees in today’s passage, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” The Pharisees just didn’t get it; Jesus “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” The message of salvation needs to be shared with everyone.

When we hear Jesus railing against the Pharisees we have a tendency to get all worked up about the righteous around us today, those who have placed religiosity above all else. You know, those who are too “churchy,” too full of themselves. We never focus inward, but we should. Don’t all of us have a tendency to think that we get it, that we are following the program? Guard against this kind of attitude. We are just as susceptible to falling into the trap of thinking that we are special and others aren’t. Who are your neighbors? Are there people that you shun? Do you share God’s Word with those who need to hear it or only those who already have? Again, who is your neighbor?

Posted by: John AT 11:57 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 22 2012

Verse of the Day

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:23 – NIV]

In a recent sermon, my pastor and friend, Larry York described the comma in Romans 6:23 as the “most important comma in the Bible,” and he’s right, isn’t he? We know that God abhors sin. The Apostle Paul says it best: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Ever since Adam and Eve and the Fall from grace, God has been building a bridge, a path for His people so that they can reestablish a right relationship with Him.

God was faithful and long-suffering. He had a Plan—Noah and the Flood, the numerous covenants with His chosen people the Israelites, their constant disobedience, and finally it all culminated in a final act of love, when God sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners, i.e., His people. What amazing love! Jesus suffered on the cross and took on our sins so that we might have eternal life. Thank God for the redemptive blood of Jesus that covers our sin once and for all time.

 

Posted by: John AT 07:46 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 21 2012

Verse of the Day

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. …  Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. [2 Peter 1:5-7; 10-11 – NIV]

This is great advice from the Disciple Peter. Notice that we are to perfect our faith by adding various attributes and characteristics in a specific order and at an ever-increasing degree. I think there is a reason that they are ordered as they are. Each successive attribute builds on the previous and cannot be attained without the addition of its predecessor. I think it would behoove us to study the characteristics that Peter has noted in this passage and the order in which we are to seek and obtain them in our lives. Of course, each of these attributes (which lead to our practical sanctification) can never be fully “attained” in our life here on earth (which is why Peter says that they are to be added in “increasing measure”). But keep in mind that once goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love are attained, the servant will receive a “rich welcome into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I can think of nothing that we should seek after more than this. Thanks to Peter for some really great advice!

Posted by: John AT 08:10 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, June 19 2012

Verse of the Day

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – NIV]

I don’t know about you, but I have a few weaknesses, a few faults. Actually, there are so many I can’t count them. Most of us delude ourselves and put on a façade of strength and wisdom, as though we are masters of our fate and in total control of every situation. Who are we kidding? But it’s one thing to acknowledge our weaknesses and quite another to welcome them and celebrate them as Paul did. So delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, because in doing so, Jesus Christ our Savior manifests Himself in our lives and gives us strength. As Paul says, only in His strength am I strong. So pray for adversities!

Posted by: John AT 12:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 18 2012

 Verse of the Day

 

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.” [Ecclesiastes 1:2 – NIV]

 

You know if you think about it, life is pretty meaningless. It’s futile, pointless and there is absolutely nothing satisfying about it. Of course, what King Solomon is really saying (and me too!) is that life without the presence of God is meaningless and futile. If God is in your life, you have purpose; you have direction. Your life has meaning only if God is part of it!

 

Think about it. Most people pursue wealth, a never-ending stream of possessions, fame, power, and on and on. Why? Because they are not satisfied with their lives and they are deluded into thinking that these things will bring them “happiness” and “fulfillment.” Life for them is an endless search for meaning and without God it ends tragically, unfulfilled, and, as Solomon says, meaningless. Money, houses, fast cars, television, fantasy, sex, travel, sports, food, alcohol – each of these things is a drug, a distraction from the real meaning of life. Escapism isn’t the answer; only a relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior, brings true happiness, true fulfillment. Only in Jesus do we find meaning in life!

 

Posted by: John AT 02:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 14 2012

Verse of the Day

 

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Hebrews 4:14-16 – NKJV]

 

Today’s passage reveals an amazing thing! Thanks to Jesus we no longer need a High Priest to gain access to the Lord our God. Jesus is our High Priest! Why is this significant? Well, in the Old Testament, as God was giving the Law to Moses, He set up an organizational structure where only one man, the High Priest, would have access to the Holy of Holies (the place in the Tabernacle where God resided) and that would occur on one day each year (the Day of Atonement). Aaron, Moses’s brother, was the first High Priest and there were many to follow, but the point is that the Israelites did not have direct access to God.

 

So, thanks to Jesus we not only have access to the Throne Room of the Most High, we have a level of intimacy that was unimaginable under the Law. What a comforting and assuring thought. So when you pray, give thanks that you are not praying through an earthly priest for forgiveness of your sins but through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

 

Posted by: John AT 04:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 13 2012

Verse of the Day

Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. [Psalm 24:7 – NKJV]

Well, I’m focused on Handel’s Messiah again. The question: “Who is the King of Glory?” The answer: “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” The reprise: “Who is the King of Glory?” The resounding answer shouted to the highest Heavens: “The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” Thanks be to our God, for He is an awesome God worthy of being praised, magnified, worshiped, adored, and lifted up on high. He is holy, holy, holy! Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. If you love God you will trust and obey Him.

Jesus is our King. He is the King of Glory. Lift up His precious name in all you do today! Make sure everything you do today reflects on Him and brings Him the glory.

Posted by: John AT 12:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 11 2012

Verse of the Day

When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. [2 Chronicles 7:1 – NKJV

I didn’t choose the title by accident. After reading today’s passage it’s all I could say. We have an awesome and magnificent God!

Solomon finally built the Temple for the Name of the Lord after God’s “temporary home” (the Ark of the Covenant) spent years and years bouncing around (sometime literally) from place to place. After the dedication, God occupied His new home in a very visible way. The glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. No longer did He wander. He was “tabernacling” with His Chosen People.

Flash forward to the Day of Pentecost and contrast God occupying His Temple in Jerusalem with the equally visible and dramatic indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Apostles (see Acts 2:1-4). A mighty wind and tongues of fire accompanied the arrival of the Spirit on that day. Today we Believers receive the Spirit without any visible sign, but receive Him we do! Today God no longer resides in a building; we are God’s Temple! He indwells in us. He is constantly with His people! For He is good; for His mercy endures forever!

Posted by: John AT 01:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 07 2012

Verse of the Day

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. [Psalm 141:3 – NKJV]

I don’t know about you, but I frequently say stupid and occasionally hurtful things to others. Most of the time this is unintentional, but regardless, it shouldn’t happen. The problem is I think I’m a funny and humorous guy, and the vast majority of the situations in which I say something mean or inappropriate to someone stems from an attempt at humor. A quick wit generally means a quick (and often hurtful) tongue.

Speaking without thinking is a real problem, isn’t it? We could all benefit from the advice of the Psalmist to “set a guard over my mouth.” Actually in my case it should be a muzzle. The key here is to think first. Instead of responding like a machine gun in a conversation, let your heart and mind form your thoughts and that will help ensure that your response will be appropriate. Better yet, get into the habit of listening to others. A wise man listens.

Posted by: John AT 12:58 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 06 2012

Verse of the Day

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” [Revelation 11:15 – NKJV]

I love music, all kinds of music…rock ’n’ roll, classical, blues, Broadway musicals, etc. But my absolute favorite composition of all time is Handel’s Messiah. The reason isn’t just the music. Although it’s magnificent and moving to one’s core, it’s the words that really get me. And why shouldn’t they? Handel did an inspired job of picking Biblical passages that best describe the story of Jesus, the Messiah. It is truly a glorious work; full of passages from God’s Word all of which point to and glorify Jesus.

Perhaps the best known piece from the Messiah is the Hallelujah Chorus. The custom of standing for the Hallelujah chorus is based on the belief that King George II was so moved that he stood up in approval at the London premiere in 1743 (although there is no evidence that he did so). Regardless, it is somewhat ironic that at the end of the Hallelujah Chorus most people assume that the performance is over and break into applause (a big no-no for a classical audience). But as you know, there is more to come in Revelation. So Handel continues the story of Jesus right up to the end (or should I say the beginning of life everlasting?!?!).

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain! Hallelujah and amen!

Posted by: John AT 12:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, June 04 2012

Verse of the Day

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. [Psalm 19:14 – NKJV]

My friend drains a 15-foot putt and after I congratulate him, he says (jokingly), “Chalk it up to clean living.” Of course “clean living” is nothing more than blind, stupid luck. Even a blind squirrel finds an occasional acorn. There’s a difference between clean living and living right.

Living to please God is living right. If my mouth and my heart are pleasing to God then I know I have followed the right path in life. Pursue wisdom and run toward the Prize. Live humbly, love your neighbor, be merciful and just, read and live the Word, be generous, use your gifts to glorify and honor God, and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Trust in God and obey Him. Pray that your life will be pleasing to Him.

Posted by: John AT 11:43 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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