The One Year Devo

January 26, 2020

Exodus 2:11-3:22, Matthew 17:10-27, Psalm 22:1-18, Proverbs 5:7-14

Justice is part of God's character and a command for his people to live out. We see this thread throughout the Bible as God's people are called to do justice (Micah 6:8), to participate in God's work on earth as it is in heaven (Mathew 5), and to live out God's kingdom ethics including justice in the here and now. We see from today's reading that a desire to make broken things whole (justice) can be done in a way that honors God or in a way that dishonors him. It is not just our intentions but our actions that matter. Moses has a desire to stand up for the enslaved Hebrew people and yet in doing so murders someone. His desire to stand up for the voiceless and powerless reflects God's heart but the way he does it dishonors God. Shortly after he flees from Egypt, he once again stands up for the powerless female shepherds but does so by providing them access to water. After this background of fighting for justice God calls Moses to go back to Egypt to again enact justice, but in a way that honors God by speaking against the evil of slavery rather than impulsively choosing violence.

As always, Jesus is the one who perfectly lives out the ideal of justice. In Matthew 17 we see Jesus stand up for a demon possessed boy and bring healing to him when no one else can. As we think about the idea of justice, we first have to ask ourselves whether we care about justice? Do we reflect God's heart by standing up against injustice, evil, and oppression in our society? Has God given you a heart to stand alongside the unborn, the poor, ethnic minorities, single parents, elderly, refugees, or immigrants? Could you volunteer at Community Pregnancy Clinic, Helps Outreach, Golden Gate Elementary or at Center Point? Secondly, we have to ask ourselves as we stand against evil, are we doing it in a way that reflects God's heart and love for both the oppressed and the oppressor? Let us be a church that does justice and does it in a way that reflects God's heart of love, justice and mercy.

Question of the day: How can you participate in God's desire to bring justice to our community?

God, my Father, I acknowledge the broken, sinful person that I am and the broken, sinful world that I live in. I pray that you would use me as a beacon of light in the world. Help me to stand against evil. Help me to be a voice for the voiceless and power for the weak. Help me to see opportunities to serve others and to make right that which is broken in the world. As I do this help me to ultimately share the message of Jesus with those who are hurting since only in your Son will all things be made right. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, January 25, 2021

January 25, 2020

Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10, Matthew 16:13-17:9, Psalm 21:1-13, Proverbs 5:1-6

As a youth pastor, I am always trying to get our young people to think through how they can engage their friends in conversations about Jesus. One of the things I encourage them to say to their friends is: “I don’t know what to do with Jesus. Have you ever taken a good look at him?  He has to be God. There are no other explanations.”  When we come to Matthew 16, the disciples have been with Jesus for a long time and it is time for Jesus to take their relationship to a new level. It is time for them to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and draw a clear conclusion about the identity of Jesus. If he is the messiah and God, then it changes everything.  

Question of the day: If Jesus is really God then what are the implications of his words?

God our Father, please give me the opportunity to talk about your true identity to someone today.

Tom Powidzki

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, January 24, 2021

January 24, 2020

Genesis 48:1-49:33, Matthew 15:29-16:12, Psalm 20:1-9, Proverbs 4:20-27  

God’s ways are not the ways of the world. In the days of Genesis, the firstborn son received double the inheritance and all of the notoriety. In God’s economy this is not the way it works. We often see in Scripture where God raises up and blesses those that the world might ignore. In our reading today in Genesis, we see this principle happen twice. First, Jacob blesses Ephraim more than Manasseh despite Ephraim being the younger. This may not seem like a big deal in our mind, but Jacob’s action was a radical move away from tradition. We see the same thing in Jacob’s blessings of his sons. As we read through these blessings Judah is the one who is promised to become the line of kings. This blessing/promise is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus who was born of a virgin, into a poor family, nearly killed shortly after birth, raised in the backwater town of Nazareth and not connected to the religious establishment. God often chooses the lowly, the outsider, the underdog to do his work and accomplish his will. The great news of this is that every one of us regardless of our background can be used by God. Let us choose this day to serve him and allow the work of his Spirit to be seen as greater than our past.

Question of the day: What part of your past makes you feel like you can't be used by God? How can you remind yourself that God still wants to use you regardless of this?

God, my Father, thank you that it is your Spirit that enables me to do your work and not my own abilities. Thank you that you can use people like me for your glory. Help me to focus on living a life for you and not myself and help me to take your perspective. Thank you that you can transform everyone including me and may I live transformed to reflect the new person I am in you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, January 23, 2021

January 23, 2020

Genesis 46:1-47:31; Matthew 15:1-28; Psalm 19:1-14; Proverbs 4:14-19

The only reason that we are able to know God is because he has revealed himself to us. Psalm 19 provides us with the two ways in which God has made himself known. Verses 1-6 describe what is called general revelation, that which every person can understand about God through his creation. When we notice a palm tree, stare at the waves, let sand fall through our hands or observe the birds in the sky we can understand something about God. Yet God did not solely give us abstract revelation about himself but, through what is called special revelation, he has revealed specifically who he is. Verses 7-13 speak to God's Word which we can read and study and, through this, understand both who God is and in turn who we are.

These verses lay out the fact that we can understand God to be glorious, trustworthy, righteous and beautiful. In contrast, we discover that we are sinful and rebellious. Despite this state we further discover that we can be made righteous through the grace of God. It is only as we study and meditate on how God has revealed himself to us that we can understand these things. Therefore, we need to be people who spend time looking at that which God has made known to us. We should be people who study God's creation and study God's word. If we are parents, we can encourage our kids to go into the sciences as a profession, we can take them out into creation, and we must also read God's Word to them and with them. As adults we must also make sure that we have eyes to see that which God has made known not only so that we can be known but also be transformed by his truth.

Question of the day: What truth from Scripture has most jumped out at you in the last week?

God, my Father, help me to know you rightly. Help me to have eyes to see what you have revealed to me. Help me to stop to notice your creation so that in doing so I can be reminded of your greatness, power, and glory. Help me to stop and spend time in the Bible so I can know more fully who you are and also who I am. As I recognize my sinfulness help me to run to you for the grace which you always offer and live for your glory and not my own. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, January 22, 2021

January 22, 2020

Genesis 44:1-45:28; Matthew 14:13-36; Psalm 18:37-50; Proverbs 4:11-13

The busyness of life can often cause us to miss what God is doing around us. Notice in our reading today from Mathew how intentional Jesus is to spend time in silence and solitude. These are two of the great spiritual disciplines of Christianity which are easily neglected today. We find ourselves unable to put our smartphone down or to disconnect from social media, yet there is so much value in just being quiet. In Matthew 14:13 Jesus is trying to spend time alone with his Father but when that is initially interrupted, he knows that he still must get away. Finally, in 14:23 Jesus is able to get alone and spend time in prayer, silence, and solitude with God. When is the last time you spent 30 silent minutes alone with God? 1 hour? I recently was able to get away into the Sierra Nevada Mountains with my dad and just enjoy God’s creation. There were no cell phones, no electricity, and no sounds other than animals and the occasional plane flying overhead. I found myself during this time praying far more than I normally do. Without the daily distractions of life, I was able to focus on God. Jesus models this habit for us, and I would encourage you to find a way to make regular times of prayer, silence, and solitude a regular pattern of your life.

Question of the day: What is keeping you from spending time alone with God?

God, my Father, help me to spend time with you. Help me not to be overwhelmed by the daily activities of life but rather to be overwhelmed by your presence and greatness. Help me to prioritize time with you and to be changed by these times with you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, January 21, 2021

January 21, 2020

Genesis 42:18-43:34; Matthew 13:47-14:12; Psalm 18:16-36; Proverbs 4:7-10

One of the themes which we have already encountered and will face again is that of humility vs pride. We have seen the evidence of this in Joseph's interaction with his brothers and we see it in Psalm 18:27. Notice what the psalmist says, "You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty." This idea is quoted by both James and Peter in the New Testament. They both strike upon the centrality of humility. This speaks to God's kingdom being a complete reversal of that of the world. It is only when we make something else the greatest thing in our lives that we become great. If we constantly assert our greatness then God will ultimately humble us, either now or in eternity. In contrast, those who humble themselves before God will be exalted. Therefore, we must constantly fill our vision with the greatness and glory of God because only in this can we rightly understand ourselves. The psalms are great for encouraging us to look beyond ourselves, our circumstances and our perceived greatness into that which is truly great.

Question of the day: What can you do today to remember the greatness of God?

God, my Father, help me to constantly see how great you are. Help me to spend more time thinking about you today than thinking about myself. Help me to live today for your glory and not my own. Give me opportunities to serve others and obey you so that I can be reminded of the fact that my life needs to be consumed by your desires and commands, and not my own. Help me to humble myself so that you can exalt me. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, January 20, 2021

January 20, 2020

Genesis 41:17-42:17; Matthew 13:24-46; Psalm 18:1-15; Proverbs 4:1-6

Few things are more difficult to face than rejection--whether it comes from an adult child, a parent, a spouse, a friend with whom you’ve made yourself vulnerable, a co-worker, an employer, a teacher, or someone you’ve dated. Our reading today includes the first of three days in Psalm 18. This psalm is written by David--an expert in rejection. As a young man David experiences a meteoric rise in popularity after his victory over Goliath. He is made a military commander, marries King Saul’s daughter, and becomes the close friend of Saul’s son and heir, Jonathan. 

But King Saul’s initial warmth and gratitude soon morphs into an intense, hate-filled jealousy that leads to six separate attempts on David’s life. David is forced to flee and escapes into exile--for as long as 10 years. David is separated from his wife, his home, his position, his mentor and counselor Samuel, as well as his friend Jonathan. And yet in this psalm David remembers that God had protected him and rescued him--and had made him Israel’s second and greatest king. Notice that the focus in this psalm is on God, not Saul or David’s other enemies.  In the first verse David openly states his love for God. Further, multiple times David tells us that he called on God and he heard him. 

God waits for us to do the same. Go to him. Call on him. The Lord’s protection of us is limitless--and we can rest in that.   

Question of the day: When faced with rejection, how can you remember God's love?

Father, I do love you and know that you hear me.  You also know my heart and the pain that I feel today. Please fill me with your Spirit, give me your wisdom to navigate this situation, your grace in any necessary conversations and steps you have for me, and the peace that comes as I trust and rest in you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.  

Jim Nite

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, January 19, 2021

January 19, 2020

Genesis 39:1-41:16; Matthew 12:46-13:23; Psalm 17:1-15; Proverbs 3:33-35

Joseph is someone who obeyed God.  He acknowledges him even in the midst of hardship and yet was sold into slavery, imprisoned, treated unjustly, lied against, and forgotten. Even with these outcomes Joseph chooses to continue to follow God. He is responsible for obedience but is not responsible for outcomes. The same principle is seen in the parable which Jesus tells in Matthew 13. He proclaims that his followers are responsible for sharing the message “about the kingdom” but they are not responsible for how people will respond.

We are called to share Christ with others but there is nothing we can do to bring someone to faith. That is the responsibility of that individual and of God at work in their life. This same principle is true in my house. Part of my responsibility as a parent is to provide food for my family. It is not the responsibility of my kids to ensure that food is on the table; that is my role. If Chloe, who is four, took on this responsibility imagine the fear, frustration and anxiety which would fill her life since she would be incapable of making sure we always had food to eat. In contrast, if she trusts me to provide the food then she doesn’t need to concern herself with this issue. As we think about this in terms of God, it should provide us with a great deal of freedom. We can choose to follow Christ and obey him and regardless of the outcome we can know that we are living how God has called us to live. We are not responsible for the outcome but only the process, not the end but the means. Therefore, let us choose to obey God, to walk with him and trust him for how things will turn out. He is the king of kings and we are only his servants.

Question of the day: How would trusting God with outcomes affect your anxiety and fear?

God, my Father, I thank you that you are at work in and through me. Help me to live for you and continue to trust you even when things don’t turn out how I want. Help me to trust that true life is found in walking with you and obeying you, not in pursuing the outcomes I want through any means possible. Help me to trust you in difficulty like Joseph and help me to serve you wherever you place me. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, January 18, 2021

January 18, 2020

Genesis 37:1-38:30; Matthew 12:22-45; Psalm 16:1-11; Proverbs 3:27-32

As we read through the Bible we come to verses that leave us scratching our heads in bewilderment. Matthew 12:31 is one of those verses. In this passage we learn that there is one sin which cannot be forgiven. The sin mentioned here is that of speaking “against the Holy Spirit.” What does this involve? And is this something believers might do? 

The key to understanding a difficult verse is to look at the broader context of the passage. Here the Pharisees were claiming that Jesus’ miracles, and particularly his exorcisms, were actually the work of Satan.  This sin is a rejection of the Spirit as he clearly demonstrated that Jesus is the Savior. It is those who won’t acknowledge Jesus as coming from God who cannot be forgiven.

The only means of forgiveness for all sins and all people is the death and resurrection of the Savior. The sin which cannot be forgiven is ultimately a failure to place our faith in Christ. All sins could be forgiven if taken to Jesus, but no sin can be forgiven without acknowledgement of Christ as Savior and Lord. This reality should spur us to confession of our own sins since forgiveness is available in Christ and also compel us to share Christ with others since in Him alone is forgiveness.

Question of the day: What can you do today to respond to the forgiveness that is available in Jesus?

God, my Father, I thank you that Jesus makes forgiveness available to me. May I rest in this forgiveness, live out of this forgiveness, and share this message of forgiveness with others. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, January 17, 2021

January 17, 2020

Genesis 35:1-36:43; Matthew 12:1-21; Psalm 15:1-5; Proverbs 3:21-26 

Notice how our reading today in Genesis begins. It starts with God commanding Jacob to praise him.  Our emotions can drive our desire to praise God, but our feelings on any given day can also pull us away from Him. It is the character of God, not our emotions, that should motivate us to praise. 

When we wake in the morning, we should begin with praise. As we go to work, we should praise. As we experience the joys or hardships of work, we should praise.

In the past year, I have often sat in Texas awaiting the results of one of my son Zeke’s MRIs. Our family has had to learn to praise God when Zeke’s cancer is not growing.  But we have also needed to learn to praise God when his cancer was growing and when treatment options were uncertain. 

Since God never changes we always have every reason we need to praise God. Therefore, let us make praise a marker of our life. Praise can take the form of songs in our cars, during a church service, maybe even during a shower. Praise can take the form of silent prayers as we go through our day. Praise can look like telling others the greatness of God. Regardless of its form for followers of the Savior it must be a continual habit in our lives.

Question of the day: What is true of God's character that you can praise him for today?

God, my Father, I praise you because you are worthy of all praise. You are greater, more valuable and more beautiful than anything else. Therefore, help my lips, my actions, and my life to be filled with praise for you. As I enjoy all of the good things in my life may I ultimately acknowledge that they are all from you and thus praise you continually for blessing after blessing and grace upon grace. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, January 16, 2021

January 16, 2020

Genesis 32:13-34:31; Matthew 11:7-30; Psalm 14:1-7; Proverbs 3:19-20 

When I ask my kids to do something around the house I often get the response: “What did you say?” My kids heard me, but they didn’t really hear me. The same can be true with the Word of God. We can hear but not really hear. 

In our reading today Jesus calls for his audience—and us—to listen to his message. Some who first heard did not understand what he was saying.  Many had no desire to grasp what Jesus was saying.  But for those who would consider his words and move from hearing to understanding their lives would be radically altered. Jesus’ audience had preconceived notions of what the Messiah should be like--and Jesus didn’t fit their expectations. Some also had preconceived notions of what God looked for in their lives while Jesus described something very different.

In order for us to hear we must first take in the words of Jesus, meditate on them, and finally apply them to our lives. We may find some things difficult to understand. We will certainly find all things difficult to live out. Yet in the words of Jesus, and ultimately in the person of Jesus, comes the path to life. We desperately need to hear because, as Matthew 11:28 says, in Jesus comes rest. Let us lean in to him. Let us go to him when our burdens are heavy and let us go to him even if our burdens seem light. For in all things we need Jesus.

Question of the day: What preconceived ideas may keep you from hearing clearly from God?

God, my Father, I desperately need you. I need your truth and Spirit to direct my life as much as I ever have. Please give me the strength to pursue you, the strength to hear you, and the strength to understand you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, January 15, 2021

January 15, 2020

Genesis 31:17-32:12; Matthew 10:24-11:6; Psalm 13:1-6; Proverbs 3:16-18

Our Old Testament reading today begins with deceit and lies. Jacob is trying to sneak away from Laban (who has unfairly kept Jacob hard at work to profit himself rather than Jacob and his family.)  Rachel steals from her father and then lies about it, not to mention she steals household gods that we can assume she worships. We see failure after failure.

And yet God is at work in spite of these things. Towards the end of our reading we see that Jacob finally acknowledges this when he says to God: “I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed the Jordan, but now I have become two groups.” Jacob goes on to confess his fear of his brother, Esau--and turn to God for salvation instead of his own schemes. 

In a similar way we see in Psalm 13 that David struggled with insecurity, his thought life, and sorrow. His response (as ours should be) was “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” We have a God who redeems our failures--and restores and uses broken, sinful people. Which is good news for us! 

Question of the day: How can you trust that God is in control when faced with personal failure and life’s struggles?

Our Father, thank you for turning our failures into a greater story of who you are creating us to be. Help us to turn to you and not rely on our own abilities when faced with difficulties. Show my heart how to rejoice in the salvation that you have provided. Amen.

Sarah Naples

Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, January 14, 2021

January 14, 2020

Genesis 30:1-31:16; Matthew 10:1-23; Psalm 12:1-8; Proverbs 3:13-15

What do you value most? In our reading today, we see that people will do anything to acquire that which they consider to be of greatest value. Leah and Rachel value children above all else and because of this they are willing to scheme, allow their husband to commit adultery, give in to jealousy and rationalize a myriad of other sins. The pursuit of children has become their god and the obsession of their lives. Having kids may or may not be what you value above all else but we all struggle with idolatry. We all struggle with putting various things above God in our lives. Proverbs 3:13-15 instructs us that we must recognize the greater value of wisdom/understanding over anything else we could find. Wisdom in Proverbs is inextricably connected to God and therefore Proverbs is exhorting us to value God above all else. We need to take an inventory of our lives and confess anything that has come before God and commit to putting God above all else.

Question of the day: What is one idol that you struggle with putting before God?

God, my Father, I acknowledge that I don't always value you as I should. I confess that I often pursue things with a greater passion and commitment than I do you. Help me to see you as my greatest good and the greatest thing in the world. Give me eyes to see and a heart to pursue that which alone can offer me life, you! Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, January 13, 2021

January 13, 2020

Genesis 28:1-29:35; Matthew 9:18-38; Psalm 11:1-7; Proverbs 3:11-12

I find Leah to be one of the most intriguing figures in the Bible. She was married off to a man who thought he was marrying someone else but then somehow believed she could earn his love by having sons for him. This belief that she could earn Jacob's love would leave her sorely disappointed. It seems from Genesis 29:35 that she had learned her lesson and finally stopped trying to please her husband but instead chose to praise God. Yet as we will see from tomorrow's reading her learning was short lived. I recognize that I am sometimes like Leah in that I am more concerned about pleasing people and trying to earn their love than stopping to praise God. The amazing thing about God is that we don't have to earn his love, we're already loved. Notice Jesus' response to people in Matthew 9 as he heals a woman of a bleeding problem, heals a sick girl, gives sight to two blind men and casts out a demon. We see Jesus' motivation for these actions in verse 36, where we are told that he had "compassion" on the people. Jesus loved the crowds as his creation and loves us as well. We shouldn't think that we could earn God's love but instead should respond with praise for the love which we already have.

Question of the day: What in your life reveals that you think that you have to earn God's love rather than already having it?

God, our Father, I thank you that you love me. I thank you that I can be certain of your love because of the life and death of Jesus. Help me to acknowledge your love, thank you for your love, and love others out of an overflow of the love which I have received from you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, January 12, 2021

January 12, 2020

Genesis 26:17-27:46; Matthew 9:1-17; Psalm 10:16-18; Proverbs 3:9-10

As we saw with the sin of Adam and Eve, the consequences of sin are more than we can imagine. Genesis 27 reminds us once again how severe sin always is. The sin in this chapter starts with the favoritism of Isaac towards Esau and Rebekah towards Jacob. This created disunity in their family eventually led to Jacob dressing up as Esau in order to steal his blessing. Notice how this sin ripples out into a burning anger, plans to murder, and greater disunity in the family as Jacob is sent away to protect his life. What should have been a home that reflected God's love becomes a group of people who are living for their own selfish pursuits. This is how sin can twist us as well. We may think we can rationalize and justify our behavior but there is always a price to pay. Therefore, we should heed the words of Psalm 10:16 and recognize that "the Lord is king forever and ever.”  This means that every aspect of our lives is under his dominion and thus we should appropriately submit all of our life to him.

Question of the day: What has sin cost you? What can you do to remember the greater reward of obedience over sin?

God, our Father, we acknowledge that you are king over all, but often I live as if I were king. Therefore, help me to live for you, submissive to you and live for your glory. I acknowledge that when I live for myself it is sin and deserves judgment but I thank you that forgiveness is available through Christ. Help me to see the ways that I am not allowing you to be king and to surrender those areas of my life over to you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, January 11, 2021

January 11, 2020

Genesis 24:52-26:16; Matthew 8:18-34; Psalm 10:1-15; Proverbs 3:7-8 

There are great blessings in following Jesus but there is also a cost. In Matthew 8 we see a series of people claim they want to follow Jesus.  And each time, we see Jesus confront them with the cost of that decision. Are they willing to follow Jesus when it means that they have no place to sleep or call home? Are they willing to put their allegiance to Jesus above any earthly connections? 

These are questions for us as well. If Jesus is who he claimed to be, than he is worth following no matter what that means.  I went to seminary with a woman whose family tried to kill her after she became a Christian. Yet she would say that following Jesus was still the best choice she ever made. For us, the cost begins with the on-going struggle against selfish, sinful impulses, as well as the continual battle to walk in obedience to God.  But no matter what the cost, the surpassing greatness of Christ makes it all worth it.

Question of the day: What is the cost and reward for following Jesus?

God, our Father, we thank you for the amazing gift of your Son. Help me to recognize his surpassing worth over everything which this world can offer. Help me not to seek the easy road but the path of obedience. May your Spirit empower me to follow Jesus today and prioritize Him over all else. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Derek Newbery at Sunday, January 10, 2021

January 10, 2021

Genesis 23:1-24:51; Matthew 8:1-17; Psalm 9:13-20; Proverbs 3:1-6

"Help me!" This is a phrase that is heard multiple times a day in my house. My kids recognize that they can't do everything and need an adult to assist them. Sadly, as we get older, we begin to believe the lie that we shouldn't acknowledge need and shouldn't ask for help. Our pride steps in and doesn't want to admit that we are needy.

As we look at the interactions of Jesus and members of the crowd in Matthew 8 we see Jesus respond to their neediness. A leper asks to be made clean and is healed by Jesus. A centurion in desperation asks for help and Jesus responds. These people flocked to Jesus, acknowledged their need, and in doing so found healing and hope. This isn't simply true of Jesus while he walked the earth, this is true of God's unchanging character today. 

Psalm 9:18 tells us that "God will never forget the needy.” We need to stop trying to pretend that everything is fine and admit our needs before God and others. We can allow God to do his healing work in our lives.

Question of the day: Where are you trying to pretend that you are OK instead of asking for help?

Father God, thank you that you never forget the needy. Help me to continually acknowledge my neediness before you and live in reliance upon you instead of myself. You are God and I am not, so help me to run to you with all my needs, knowing that you will lift me up. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Derek Newbery at Saturday, January 9, 2021

January 9, 2021

Genesis 20:1-22:24; Matthew 7:15-29; Psalm 9:1-12; Proverbs 2:16-22

Abraham has had a roller coaster relationship with trusting God. We see today in chapter 22 that Abraham is willing to fully trust. He is willing to give up that which he values most if that is what God demands of him. This radical faith is the same response that God seeks from us. He wants us to trust in him more than ourselves and to fear him more than the opinions of others. As Jesus says in Matthew 7, he is not looking for lip service, but lives lived in dependence on him.

Psalm 9 provides fuel for how to live in dependence. David first praises God, recognizing God’s superiority over everything else. Then David acknowledges how God is at work in his life, while also acknowledging what is true of his character. Finally, as David reflects on all of these things, he entrusts his life to God. Let us follow in the footsteps of Abraham and David, and the words of our Savior, as we learn to trust in God more than anything else.

Question of the day: How can you live today in a way that expresses your trust in God?

God, our Father, help me to entrust every part of my life to you. May I hold nothing back but acknowledge that everything good I have is from you and is thus ultimately yours. Help me to live to please you more than others and to seek your glory rather than my own. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Derek Newbery at Friday, January 8, 2021

January 8, 2021

Genesis 18:16-19:38; Matthew 6:25-7:14; Psalm 8:1-9; Proverbs 2:6-15

When we think of God, we often amplify certain attributes above others. We may think of him as loving, which is true, but in doing so may not consider that he is also perfectly just. In today’s reading we see God as perfectly merciful while also being perfectly just. He is merciful in that he is willing to negotiate with Abraham regarding saving the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. He is merciful as he saves Lot, Lot’s wife, and their daughters. He is also seen as merciful in Matthew 6 as he provides food and clothing for humanity. Also, in Matthew 7 we are told that he “gives good gifts to those who ask him!” God is also shown to be just as he both stands against the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as acts in judgment against Lot’s wife’s disobedience. Sin does lead to judgment, but God in his grace has provided his Son so that through him we can find forgiveness and mercy. Our sin is greater than we could understand but thankfully God’s grace is even greater--and in that we can rest.

Question of the day: How would you explain to someone that God is both loving and just?

God, my Father, I confess my sins against you and acknowledge that I am deserving of judgment. Despite what I deserve I thank you that in Christ I can find forgiveness and mercy. Help me not to be overwhelmed by my sin but to be overwhelmed by the grandeur and majesty of your grace. May your grace empower me to live for you and in your grace today. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

 

Posted by Derek Newbery at Thursday, January 7, 2021

January 7, 2021

Genesis 16:1-18:15; Matthew 6:1-24; Psalm 7:1-17; Proverbs 2:1-5

Yesterday we challenged ourselves to notice the unseen rather than the seen, and the eternal rather than the temporal. In today's reading, we see the challenge not only of seeing with 'spiritual' eyes but trusting God when life doesn't make sense to us. Abraham and Sarah had been promised a child by God but in their old age this didn't seem like a promise that could possibly be fulfilled. So, they trusted in their own creativity rather than God's promise. Their sinful choice could not fulfill what God had promised and would lead to disaster not only in their family but in the world today. Sarah soon found God's promise so humorous that she laughed when it was brought up. She was unable to see and believe what God had said.

Many times, circumstances in our lives may keep us from trusting in what God has said. We may have been hurt so badly that we don't feel forgiveness is possible despite Jesus' words in Matthew 6:14-15. We may feel like hoarding wealth now is the best path to security despite what Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-20. We must learn to believe what God has said and, like David in Psalm 7, know that God is greater than anything the world can throw at us.

Question of the day: What promise in Scripture do you need to claim today?

God, our Father, help me to believe what you have said. Help me to trust in you rather than myself and to trust your faithfulness rather than my capabilities. In all circumstances of life may I embrace your truth and your path. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Derek Newbery at Wednesday, January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021

Genesis 13:5-15:21; Matthew 5:27-48; Psalm 6:1-10; Proverbs 1:29-33

A theme found throughout the Bible is that we as people tend to focus on the external and superficial, rather than the internal and deeper realities of life. We see that in multiple ways in our reading today. When Lot and Abram decide that is necessary to split up, Lot chooses the land which seems more fertile, but this choice will ultimately be his and his family’s undoing. He focuses on the productivity of the land but fails to see the spiritual danger in his decision. Further, Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount repeatedly points his listeners beyond sin which can be seen, to sin which resides in our hearts. And David in Psalm 6 is also able to see beyond the external and urgent to what really matters. Surrounded by his enemies David is confident God will deliver him. He is able to overcome fear with faith because he knows who God is. As believers, we need to look for the internal and significant rather than the external and superficial.

Question of the day: How do you find yourself focusing on the external/superficial over the more significant things in life?

God, my Father, I confess that I am so easily consumed by the immediate and temporal, rather than the eternal. Help me to have eyes to see you today and therefore to live for that which has ultimate meaning. Thank you that your Spirit enables me to live this way and thus can allow me to live in a way which brings you glory. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Derek Newbery at Tuesday, January 5, 2021

January 5, 2021

Genesis 11:1-13:4; Matthew 5:1-26; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 1:24-28

In our reading today we begin with the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). We are perhaps 200 years removed from the Flood and God’s restatement to Noah of the command first given to Adam: Be fruitful, increase in number, and spread out over the earth (Genesis 9:7 CSB). The population has exponentially grown--and together migrated from Ararat in East Turkey to what will become Babylon between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. There the people decide to build a city, complete with a giant, tall tower, to make a name for themselves (I assume they are thinking about their reputation among the generations to come). This project would highlight human greatness. Further, the tower may have been connected to idol worship and viewed as a place that would mystically give access to heaven. Regardless, the project is a clear violation of God’s command to scatter and fill the earth. And God is going to act in judgment against the project, as well as the people.

At this point in time the population was unified by its common language. But unity, as well as the building program, now ends abruptly with the division of languages.  

Unity--apart from God--can be a dangerous thing. It is that oneness that drives this massive construction project. The influence of unbelievers can fuel our own capacity for sin. We are not to isolate ourselves from unbelievers; Jesus was known as a friend of sinners. But we are to avoid relationships that limit our ability to act independently and follow God with our own conscience and will. Relationships with unbelievers that restrain and drive our decisions put us at risk spiritually.    

Question of the day: Do I have a friendship, or a work or family relationship that makes it difficult to obey God? How can I establish appropriate boundaries to protect my freedom to follow God?

Father, please give me a heart for the lost, but also the wisdom to recognize my own vulnerability to be influenced by unbelievers. Help me to follow you with courage, regardless of where the world seeks to pull me. I ask this for your sake, as well as my own, and the sake of the people you have placed in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Jim Nite    

 

Posted by Derek Newbery at Monday, January 4, 2021

January 4, 2021

Genesis 8:1-10:32; Matthew 4:12-25; Psalm 4:1-8; Proverbs 1:20-23

Sometimes life can make us feel like God has abandoned or forgotten us. Noah and his family certainly must have felt that way. We are told at the end of yesterday’s reading that the “waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.” And it would be more than a year from the beginning of the flood until that lone surviving family was able to leave the ark.  When I have gone on cruises--after only a few days--I feel like I am ready to get off the ship for good. Yet Noah and his family spent months and months wondering what was going to happen next.

Their concerns were met by the reality that God had not forgotten them. We are told that God remembered Noah and later in our reading we are also told that God remembered his promises. God is faithful. This is inherent to the character of God. Everything in life may change but God never will. This is something we can count on. 

Question of the day: What difference should the truth that God will never forget you make in your life?

God, our Father, I thank you that you will never abandon me. I thank you that Jesus’ willingness to die on the cross for our sins shows the extent of your love for me. So, help me not to doubt you but trust you and live for you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Derek Newbery at Sunday, January 3, 2021

January 3, 2021

Genesis 5:1-7:24; Matthew 3:7-4:11; Psalm 3:1-8; Proverbs 1:10-19

The sinful actions of Adam and Eve quickly lead to a world filled with rebellion. As we see from our reading today, this rebellion is encouraged by forces inside and outside of people. Genesis 6:5 speaks of how the inclination of the hearts of the people was to do "only evil all the time." They didn't need a cheerleader encouraging them to sin; it is what they sought to do themselves.

In contrast, the temptation of Jesus is external: Satan is encouraging Jesus to rebel against God. Satan's desire is to get Jesus to not live by faith, which is the very same thing he tempts us to do. Not only does this external pressure come from Satan but Proverbs 1 speaks of sinners who "entice" us to live how they do. With both internal and external forces encouraging us to rebel against God, how can we resist?

David's psalm gives us one means of doing so. He speaks of calling out to God in desperation and relying on the one who is greater than we are. This is the very same thing we need to do as well. Whether driving in traffic during season, trying to respond to my kids with patience, or serving others rather than myself, I must rely on God. He alone is the one, through His Spirit, who can give us the ability to live by faith. Our own strength will fail but God's never will.

Question of the day: What are the forces in your life which most clearly entice you away from God?

God, I confess that I am weak and desperately need your strength to live by faith. Help me to resist my sinful desires, the works of Satan, and the ways of sin. Help me to walk by your Spirit and in doing so live to please you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Derek Newbery at Saturday, January 2, 2021

January 2, 2021

Genesis 3:1-4:26; Matthew 2:13-3:6; Psalm 2:1-12; Proverbs 1:7-9

Is God really a gracious God? Our reading out of Genesis yesterday made clear that God creates good things and graciously provides for his people. Yet today in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve begin questioning this. Adam and Eve are not alone in doing so because I find myself following their same path. I can think that God is withholding from me what I deserve or that living without Him at the center of my life might be a better option. When I choose this route, it leads to the same place as Adam and Eve -- isolation and destruction. Sin, no matter what it seems to promise, always leads to consequences I did not consider or expect.

As we follow the narrative in Genesis, we see the fall-out of doubting the goodness and graciousness of God. Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden, the serpent becomes a crawler, the woman experiences birth pains, the man experiences work difficulty and there are now relational struggles. These relational struggles result in murder, hatred, and innumerable other manifestations just in our reading today. All of this brokenness flows from one moment of doubting the grace of God. We must learn to rest in God's grace and goodness rather than becoming restless and wandering from the presence and comfort of God. Only in this path will we experience the life which Christ died to make available to us both now and forever.

Question of the day: What would help you to cultivate a more grateful heart?

God, I thank you for your goodness and grace, and yet I confess that I don't always live out of these truths. I admit that I often think that I know better than you. Help me to trust you and turn from self-centered ways to acknowledgment of you as King over every aspect of my life. May I live today for you, out of the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Derek Newbery at Friday, January 1, 2021

January 1, 2021

Genesis 1:1-2:25; Matthew 1:1-2:12; Psalm 1:1-6; Proverbs 1:1-6

The Bible is ultimately about God. He is the hero from beginning to end. He is the one who graciously provides for all that we need. The Bible is not a story where we are the ultimate heroes. The Bible is not meant primarily to make us feel good about ourselves, to be a self-help manual or a list of rules. It is meant to lead us to God. In this first day of reading, we discover that God is the one who makes good things. Multiple times he declares what he has made in Genesis as “good.” God is the one who takes the initiative. God is the one who creates all of the good things. He makes every aspect of creation, he provides a Messiah (Matthew), and he provides his Word (Psalm 1). We can respond to God’s good things by simply saying thank you.  All the good things we have come from God and so we must learn to cultivate grateful hearts.

Question of the day: Why do we make life about us rather than God?

God, our Father, I thank you for the many ways every day that I am reminded of your grace. You have given me so many good things. Help me to stop today and recognize these gifts from you and in doing so acknowledge that you are the one who holds all things together, not me. Thank you, all I can say is thank you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

                       

Posted by Derek Newbery at Thursday, December 31, 2020

December 31, 2020

Malachi 3:1-4:6; Revelation 22:1-21; Psalm 150:1-6; Proverbs 31:25-31

Congratulations on reading through the Bible this year. Hopefully you have grown in your knowledge, love and intimacy with God through your readings. Tomorrow will provide a new opportunity to find a consistent way of meeting with God. I would encourage you to either read through the One Year Bible again or another plan that will keep you accountable to meeting with God.

Revelation ends with multiple encouragements to live in light of Christ's return. Since he is coming back and will ultimately usher in the new earth, we should be transformed by this reality today. One of the ways we respond is by telling others to "come" to Jesus. We should continually draw near to God( thus the need for a 2021 plan to read the Bible), but we must also tell others to come to him as well. May this year be a year of running to God and bringing others to Him.

Question of the day: What is your plan for reading the Bible and coming to God in 2021? Who do you want to see come to Jesus in 2021 and what role can you play in that process?

Father God, help me to continually come to you. You sacrificed your Son so that I could draw near to you and help me to never take that for granted. Help me to pursue intimacy with you and help me to make you known to others as well.  I pray for (                    ) that they might come to know you and your Son as Savior and Lord. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, December 30, 2020

December 30, 2020

Malachi 1:1-2:17; Revelation 21:1-27; Psalm 149:1-9; Proverbs 31:10-24

Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, was written after Israel returned from the Babylonian captivity, after the temple was rebuilt, and after joyous worship fell into complacency. Malachi addressed their spiritual indifference with the Lord’s words, “I have loved you very deeply,” but the Israelites retorted, “Really? When was this?”(1:2.TLB). Malachi then exposes their half-hearted worship to His passionate love. God required the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb for their sins, but instead they had searched through their lambs and found a flawed, lame one to offer. Their flawed lamb not only snubbed the requirement of the law, but it revealed their true heart toward God. He did not deserve their best. 

In verse 17 Malachi addresses their disregard for His Lordship in their lives. “You make God tired with all your talk. ‘How do we tire him out?’ you ask. By saying, ‘God loves sinners and sin alike. God loves all.’ And also by saying, ‘Judgment? God’s too nice to judge’” (MSG). They showed their cold indifference to God’s holiness and inability to look on sin. 

The Israelites grew tired of waiting on the Messiah and there would be 400 more years of silence before He came. On Christmas Day we celebrated the miracle of His birth. Today Revelations 21 tells of a new heaven and new earth where God is making “everything new” (Revelation 21:5). We are told how we will dwell with Him in a pure place where there will be no evil thoughts, or talk, or actions. Verse 16 describes the New Jerusalem as a cube. This description would have reminded the original Jewish readers of the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle and temple that was indwelt by God’s presence. There will be no temple in the New Jerusalem because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (v. 22). 

How does this relate to us? How do we worship God? Are our minds full of next weeks’ schedule, the afternoon’s football game, or the text vibrating in our pocket? Was our offering given generously and willingly? When we sin are we repentant, or do we say with cold indifference, “Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I?” Do we live with anticipation of the new heaven and earth? 

Question of the day: How has the reading of the day shaken our areas of lukewarm faith?

Father, we are humbled before you. Let us not glide through the motions of being a Christ follower. Renew our passion for serving you, loving you, and honoring you. 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, December 29, 2020

December 29, 2020

Zechariah 14:1-21; Revelation 20:1-15; Psalm 148:1-14; Proverbs 31:8-9

Revelation 20 describes a 1,000 year period in the future called 'The Millennium.' This period will occur after Christ's bodily return and after he has begun to rule. In many ways this 1,000 year period functions as a transitional period between the old heavens and earth and the new.

During this time Christ will reign and bring prosperity, yet, at the same time, there will still be sin on the earth. Satan will be bound in the abyss but people will still wrestle with flesh and temptation. Yet, the earth strangely will have 'regular' people and also those who have been resurrected and, thus, in their glorified state. This seems like such a surreal idea, but Christ returned in his glorified body after his resurrection and so will these believers described in verse 4. This verse explicitly describes only those who were martyred during the tribulation, but it is thought by many that it will include all believers who have come before this time. Since these people are already glorified, they will not struggle with temptation or sin.

At the end of this 1,000 year period, Satan will be allowed to return to earth and rally people against Jesus. This will lead to a massive battle which seems to end in a moment. Christ will once again reveal his power and destroy the armies and Satan with fire from heaven. Then the final judgment will take place. All who have not placed their faith in Christ will be judged at the "great white throne." This future reality may seem like a sci-fi movie, but Christ's return, rule, and judgment are anything but. As we consider Christ as king and judge, it should impact the way we live today.

Question of the day: How can you further conform your life to the commands of Christ the king?

Father God, help me to submit to your Son's rule over my life. Help me to conform my life to your will and your ways. Thank you that Christ will return and make everything right but until then help me to seek your glory and fame. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, December 28, 2020

December 28, 2020

Zechariah 12:1-13:9; Revelation 19:1-21; Psalm 147:1-20; Proverbs 31:1-7

Zechariah is prophesying to a people who had largely returned to Jerusalem but were discouraged. Their cities have not been restored to their previous greatness and returning back to the land had not made everything better. As Zechariah moves towards the end of his book, he gives them hope by pointing them to the future coming of Jesus. The people would still have to wait approximately 500 years for his arrival, but the assurance of his coming gives them hope, peace, and perspective. Seeing what Christ has done in Revelation 19 leads us to lives of praise.

As you read Revelation 19, notice the amount of times that the words hallelujah, worship, praise, and similar words occur. Though the book of Revelation is unveiling what is to come, it is almost even more a book of praise. As we reflect on what God has done, is doing, and will do, our lips are filled with praise. We see this again in Psalm 147. Lives that are lived in right connection to God will be those overflowing in praise.

Question of the day: What habits can you create to more intentionally praise God?

Father God, you are worthy of praise. You have made the world and you have made me, so I praise you. I praise you for the work of your Son and the gift of your Spirit. Help me to see your greatness today and to respond with praise. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, December 27, 2020