The One Year Devo

April 12, 2020

Joshua 5:1-7:15; Luke 15:1-32; Psalm 81:1-16; Proverbs 13:1

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” If you grew up in church, you have probably sung this hundreds of times. The tune and words may be simple but the idea is profound.

The God of the Universe loves me (and you). We can sing this song, but do we believe this to be true? If we continually believe that Jesus loves us, what difference would that make? And not a "kind of love you" love, or a "willing to endure you" love but a "passionately cares for you" kind of love. In the reading there was a recurring word which may have jumped out at you from both Joshua and Luke and it is the word “prostitute.”

The one person who was saved out of Jericho and is mentioned by name was a prostitute. We might have expected God to save a wealthy person or an intelligent person or at least someone who has a morally admirable profession, but no it was a prostitute. Think of the love that is involved in saving someone and that is the love which God expresses for Rahab, the prostitute.

Jesus in a parable introduces us not to a prostitute but a young man who has spent loads of money on prostitutes. He has used his money in a way that demeaned himself and the women he spent it on and yet this man is who the Father runs out to and wraps his arms around. God’s love is such that it cannot be separated from His grace. He looks upon us despite our thoughts, emotions or actions and seeks to wrap His arms around us.

He loves us more than we can fathom. Let that reality soak into your bones. We are loved by God, more than we can believe. God loves the prostitute, He loves those who have slept with prostitutes, and if we don’t find ourselves in those categories, He loves us too. Let that love be the foundation of your life and transform you as well.

Question of the day: If you truly believed God loved you, how would you live differently today?

God, my Father, thank you that you love me. Thank you that despite my sins, my flaws and my brokenness you love me. Thank you that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. Help me to respond to that kind of love with a love for you. I could never duplicate your love but help me to love you with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. Help me today to respond to your love with love. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, April 11, 2021

April 11, 2020

Joshua 3:1-4:24; Luke 14:7-35; Psalm 80:1-19; Proverbs 12:27-28

God is in charge. I was recently listening to a podcast that talked about reasons why people leave Christianity. The person who was being interviewed said that a common thread through all of the hundreds of people he interviewed was a desire to be in charge. He described an attitude among those who walked away from faith as wanting greater personal freedom and autonomy. They wanted to be in control of their own lives and not feel any sense of guilt or remorse for their actions. They wanted to be king and in doing so had no place for God as king.

Our readings today remind us that God is the one who is in control and desires to be in charge of every aspect of our lives. We see God part the Jordan River for Israel. The nation doesn't build a bunch of rafts to float across or rely on their own ingenuity but on the power of God. We see Jesus tell people that they must learn to be humble in order to be exalted. It is ultimately God who exalts people in eternity and not based on any accomplishments of our own. We finally see Asaph describe God as the "Shepherd of Israel." He recognizes his need to be led by God and rely on His direction through life.

We all struggle with wanting to be first and to be in charge. This is the place that God wants and needs to be. He desires to be on the throne of our lives so that we can experience the life that Christ died to give us. If we put ourselves first, we will ultimately be last but if we put God first than He will help us to align everything in life for God's glory and for our ultimate good.

Question of the day: What are the ways that you put yourself on the throne of your life yesterday?

God, my Father, thank you for being king. Help me to acknowledge your kingship over every part of life. I often make myself king and I confess that before you. I repent of this attitude and put you on the throne of my life. Direct me, lead me and guide me to do your work, in your way. Help me to walk in the footsteps of Jesus by the power of your Spirit and thus walk in humility. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, April 10, 2021

April 10, 2020

Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24; Luke 13:22-14:6; Psalm 79:1-13; Proverbs 12:26

When Joshua begins leading the Israelites, God shares He is about to give them “every place where you set your foot” (Joshua 1:3). His only commands to Joshua? “Be careful to obey all the law” (v. 7), explaining that to do so, the law should be “always on your lips” (8). God doesn’t stop there, but three times charges Joshua to “be strong and courageous” (and He causes the Israelites to echo this in v. 18)

We might be tempted to think that it is easy for Joshua to be strong and courageous. After all, God promised that victory was undoubtedly his. Yet, we also see Christ moving in strength and courage when it would certainly lead to death (Luke 13:32). Even knowing this, Jesus went forward boldly, speaking hard truth about hell (v28) and heaven (v29), and performing miracles that would irk His enemies (14:1-4). Why? Because of that other command God gave Joshua—“be careful to obey…” God’s Word was always on Christ’s lips (after all, He is the Word (John 1:1)) and His life was spent in both communion with and service to His Father. Jesus knew His courage would lead to death; but He also knew it would lead to ultimate life. On earth, Christian courage can lead to adversity, but it always leads to life. Just like Joshua—and Jesus—we live in obedience as we learn, love, and dwell on His Word. Godly strength and courage will follow.

And, practically speaking, today’s Proverb gives one way to move toward that constant obedience—through godly friendships (Proverbs 12:26).

Question of the day: How can I practically meditate on God’s Word day and night? (Joshua 1:8).

Lord, I want to live a life that’s strong and courageous for You. Please help me to keep Your Word, to have it always on my lips, and to meditate on it day and night. Amen. 

Julie Gerber

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, April 9, 2021

April 9, 2020

Deuteronomy 33:1-29; Luke 13:1-21; Psalm 78:65-72; Proverbs 12:25

Karma. This philosophical idea is crippling. It is the idea that everything bad in our lives is because of something bad we have done and every good thing that occurs in our lives comes from something good we have accomplished. Karma is essentially salvation through works. Luke 13:1-5 blows the idea of karma out of the water. The gossip of the day focused around two groups of people that had died. A group of Galileans and a group of people in Siloam. As the gossip spread everyone assumed that their horrific deaths were due to some evil which they had done. Jesus points out that this is categorically false. They were not necessarily any worse (or any better) than anyone else. The ultimate refutation of karma is Jesus. Jesus only did good, never sinned and yet He was beaten, tortured, rejected, and killed.

All of these things happened to Jesus not because of His own sin but because we live in a broken world where even good can be responded to by evil. Even though we might agree that karma is false we so often find ourselves believing in it. I know people that have been told that they are sick because of a sin in their life. Though there are examples in the Bible of people who did get sick because of personal sin, nearly always sickness is due to the broken, sinful world we live in. As we get rid of the idea of karma, we can replace with the freedom of the doctrine of grace. Grace is the opportunity to recognize God's good gifts and say thank you because we don't deserve them. As Moses blessed Israel in our reading today it is an acknowledgment of grace because despite Israel's continual sin and rebellion, God blesses them out of love and out of grace, not out of karma.

Question of the day: How does the idea of karma infiltrate your thinking?

God, my Father, thank you for your grace. Thank you that I don't have to earn salvation or your gifts. Thank you that you have freely given them to me out of your love. Help me to not walk around in a cloud of guilt, suspicion, or shame but instead walk in your grace and love. Thank you for all of the good things I have because of you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, April 8, 2021

April 8, 2020

Deuteronomy 32:28-52; Luke 12:35-59; Psalm 78:56-64; Proverbs 12:24

“We have to get everything ready.” This is a battle cry in our house when we are having someone over for a meal. No matter when we last cleaned the house a new mess has inevitably been created by the kids. We scramble around hoping that we can pick everything up before the person arrives. This haste, watchfulness and preparedness is due to the reality of someone coming.

This same imagery is used of Jesus’ return in Luke 12 and has previously been used in Matthew 24, 25 and Mark 13. The first application of this return is watchfulness. My kids often stare out the windows of our house when someone is supposed to arrive. Jesus wants us to have a similar expectation and watchfulness for his return. Are we looking for him?

Second, we are to be ready. We are to be living now in light of the certainty of his return. If our master were to arrive today would he be excited by our behavior or disappointed?

The third application is stewardship. We are to recognize that everything we have is ultimately God’s and therefore we are to use it in a way that honors him and brings him glory. Do we view our possessions, intellect and skills as God’s or ours?

The final application is to know and do the master’s will. Jesus is waiting to reward those who are doing what he wants at his return. He is excited to honor and bless those who have done what he wants and therefore we should seek to be recipients of these rewards.

Question of the day:  Which application of Jesus’ return (watchfulness, readiness, stewardship or knowing and obeying God’s will) do you need to live out today?

God, my Father, thank you that your Son is returning. Thank you that his return will bring perfect justice and love to the planet. Help me to live in light of his return and the reality of eternity. Help me to be watchful and ready for his return. Help me to use all that you have given me for your purposes and to live knowing and doing what you want. In all I do today, may you receive the glory. Amen.

 Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, April 7, 2021

April 7, 2020

Deuteronomy 31:1-32:27; Luke 12:8-34; Psalm 78:32-55; Proverbs 12:21-23

Three times in Deuteronomy 31 God reminds Joshua and Israel that He is with them. They are experiencing a transition in leadership so it would have been natural to freak out and wonder what was going to happen. With Moses gone, would things still be the same? God wants them to understand that no matter all of the things that may change, God's presence is a constant. He specifically mentions twice that he would never leave or forsake Israel. No matter what Israel and by extension us, are going through we can always claim the promise that God is with us.

This is the same encouragement which Jesus gave to his disciples in Luke 12:12. He reminded them that even if they were in court and felt like their lives were in jeopardy, God would still be with them. That is the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have God residing within us. God manifested his presence to Israel via fire, cloud, tabernacle and temple, but now we have the person of the Spirit dwelling within us. What an even greater assurance the Father has given us to know that regardless of our circumstances God is with us. Let us claim that promise today and allow his presence to transform our actions, emotions and thoughts. The reminder of God's presence for Israel was meant to enable them to be strong and courageous in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Therefore, no matter what you are going through, remembering God's presence can enable you to respond in the same way today. God is greater than our circumstances, opposition or sin, and He is with us!

Question of the day: How would remembering the Holy Spirit's presence affect your life today?

God, my Father, thank you for your presence. Thank you that you will never leave me nor forsake me. Thank you for the presence of your Spirit. May I remember that you are with me and in doing so enable me to courageously share you with others and live for you today. Help me to not be afraid or discouraged but instead know that you are with me. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, April 6, 2021

April 6, 2020

Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20; Luke 11:37-12:7; Psalm 78:1-31; Proverbs 12:19-20

We have seen again and again in our readings that God is concerned far more about our hearts than our external actions. In Deuteronomy 29 and 30 Moses points out to the people that they need a “mind that understands” and to “circumcise your hearts.” This same point is made by Jesus throughout his ministry. He points out to the religious leaders in Luke 11 that they are in the same place as Moses’ audience. They might look spiritual on the outside but their insides are far from God. This transformation ultimately happens when we acknowledge Christ as Savior and Lord and become heirs of the new covenant.

This new covenant is superior to the old, in part, because through the Spirit we are given new hearts and new minds as a new creation in Christ. We have been made new, but we don’t always act in accordance with who we are. Therefore, what God wants us to do is to understand that as new creations we are to live in new ways. We don’t have to live in the patterns we have made for ourselves over decades of our lives but can begin radically new patterns. 

Since ultimately our actions flow from our hearts and passions, if we want to experience transformation in our lives, we have to start there. Consider your heart. What is it drawn to? If it is not to things of God, acknowledge that to Him and allow him to change you knowing that this change will often come through you taking the initiative to pursue new things. It is not easy but let us ensure that the woes spoken to the religious leaders will never be spoken to us.

Question of the day: What can you do today to begin to change what your heart pursues?

God, my Father, thank you that you have made me new. Thank you that through your grace I have become a new creation through Christ. Help me today to live in a way that reflects that newness. Help me to follow you, your ways and the things you delight in. May my desires grow for things of you and lessen for the things of the world. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, April 5, 2021

April 5, 2020

Deuteronomy 28:1-68; Luke 11:14-36; Psalms 77:1-20; Proverbs 12:18

Is the material abundance of Naples because we are obeying God as indicated in Deuteronomy 28:1-14? I do not think so because I also see many suffering and struggling financially. Then, are the poor and hurting disobeying God as implied in Deuteronomy 28:15-68? No, many of the poor and hurting are seeking God’s guidance and wisdom to meet daily needs. How do we explain Moses’ wise words that Proverbs 12:18 says could bring healing to the Israelites?

Moses was not giving the Israelites a modern health-and-wealth gospel. Nor is he giving us the message that if we do certain things, God will bless us. Moses was explaining God’s contract with the Israelites stating if they would obey Him, He would bless them and if they disobeyed Him, they would reap a whirlwind. Moses was wanting them to follow God so they could lead other nations to the one true God (Deuteronomy 28:10). Sometimes they were obedient and other times they rebelled and were carried away to serve other nations just as Moses predicted. 

Regardless of the Israelites’ disobedience, God’s goodness and the act of deliverance from Egypt was remembered by the Psalmist who questioned God’s presence and guidance in his life (Psalm 77:1-9). He then recalled the power of God (Psalm 77:10), the very character of God (Psalm 77:13), and the deeds and miracles of God (Psalm 77:15-20) as He led His flock through the mighty water chasm of the Red Sea (NIV Jesus Bible). 

Christ said a house divided against itself will fall (Luke 11:23). When the people asked for a sign from heaven, Jesus knew they were searching for the sensational. He gave them the sign of Jonah. When Jonah preached, Nineveh repented. 

Are we like the Israelites who did not serve the Lord their God joyfully and gladly when they “had an abundance of everything” (Deuteronomy 28:47, The Voice Translation)?  Are we forgetting God’s power, character, and gracious deeds in our lives? Are we seeking the sensational and forgetting to repent? Christ said “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).

Question of the day: Take inventory of your obedience, for example your tongue, attitude, thought life, and spending? Is your service to God joyful and glad or reluctant and obligatory?

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23). Amen.

Gena Duncan

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, April 4, 2021

April 4, 2020

Deuteronomy 26:1-27-26; Luke 10:38-11:13; Psalms 76:1-12; Proverbs 12:15-17

God is described as faithful, dependable and trustworthy throughout all of Scripture. His promises come true and everything He says is true. On the other hand, people (us), are not nearly as dependable. I can’t even count the number of times that my children have said, “but you said” about something I can’t even remember saying.

In our reading today we receive the challenge that we, like God, are meant to be dependable in the words we say. At the end of Deuteronomy 27 the Levites lay out the consequences of disobedience. The people respond with “Amen” each time, affirming that they have heard the words and agree to what has been spoken. It won’t take long after this to see the Israelites turning their back on God and their affirmations that they will follow him.

When we think about the words we speak, prayer is one of the most powerful and intimate forms of communication. All that we are is laid out before the God of the universe as we speak to him. There is no hiding from God as He can see beyond our words and into our hearts. Notice the things that we are challenged to pray for in Luke 11. We are to pray for God’s name to be made holy through us, for his kingdom to fully come, for us to recognize all we have comes from God, for forgiveness and for us to forgive others and overcome temptation. We have said these words more than we can count, but do we mean them? As we pray do we mouth words that we don’t mean despite God being able to see through them. Be honest with God, you can’t hide from him so why try? Instead of faking it, acknowledge how you feel and ask God to change your heart.

Finally, Psalm 76:11 and Proverbs 12:17 speak to the need for honesty in our words. Lies distance us from God and others while speaking the truth and thus being known allows us to draw close to others. May our lives be marked by truth (and grace) and thus reveal the character of God to the world.

Question of the day: Where in your life are you not being fully honest?

God, my Father, thank you that you are trustworthy. Thank you that everywhere you have spoken I can trust it. Help me to be trustworthy like you. Help me not to cloud the truth but speak honestly to you and others. May others see in me a reflection of your character today. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, April 3, 2021

April 3, 2020

Deuteronomy 23:1-25:19; Luke 10:13-37; Psalms 75:1-10; Proverbs 12:12-14

Jesus interacts with a religious leader in Luke 10 who wants to test him concerning what someone must do to attain eternal life. Jesus, as He often does, flips the question back around to the man who asked the question, and has him answer his own question. The man responds that the summation of eternal life is to love God and love “your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus agrees with the man, but the man then wants Jesus to define who his neighbor is.

Jesus tells a parable to illustrate who our neighbor is rather than providing a simple definition. The purpose of the parable is to drive home the point that we are not to think of people as neighbor or not neighbor but rather are to act as a neighbor to everyone. A neighbor is our cashier at Publix, the person who lives next to us in our condo complex, and the person driving next to us on Livingston Road.

Jesus moves from a potentially abstract concept of neighbor to challenging us to be a good neighbor and therefore love everyone.

As Moses continues through the law in Deuteronomy 23-25 much of it has to do with loving others as well. God speaks to loving the poor, spouses, non-Israelites, slaves and others. As we consider how Israel was to love others, we should recognize that Jesus raises the bar even higher for us because we have experienced the extent of his love.

As we go about our day today may we live out the words of Jesus in Luke 10:37 by being people who “go and do likewise.”

Question of the day: With this new norm of social distancing, how can you best love your “neighbor?”

God, my Father, thank you that you love me and have showed me the extent of your love through the sending of your Son Jesus. Help me to love others in a way that reflects your love. Help me to see people as opportunities to love. May my life be filled with an intentional love for you and your creation. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, April 2, 2021

April 2, 2020

Deuteronomy 21:1-22:30; Luke 9:51-10:12; Psalms 74:1-23; Proverbs 12:11

Dr. Tony Evans defines Biblical Justice as “the equitable and impartial application of the rule of God’s moral law in society.” God’s desire and design is for every corner of the world to be touched by his perfect justice. Yet this has not occurred since Adam and Eve rebelled against God and will not occur until Christ returns and sin’s power is eradicated from the universe.

In Deuteronomy, Luke and Psalms, we see what the application of justice looks like. Notice in Deuteronomy, God’s constant desire for justice to prevail especially among women, captives of war, others that society might naturally overlook or that the rich and powerful might be tempted to assert their will upon. Moses is clear that many of the commands in the Old Testament are not God’s perfect desire but his working in the midst of a sinful society to better bring about his will. If you take the time to compare the Old Testament law against other Ancient Near Eastern law codes the difference, in terms of justice, is stark. Notice though, Jesus’ pursuit of justice in Luke 9 versus that of disciples. When Jesus is not welcomed into a Samaritan town his disciples want to destroy the village while Jesus is willing to forgive and move on to another town.

Luke 10:11-12 tells us that ultimately God’s justice will be placed upon all who reject him and his laws. Finally, Psalm 74 expresses what we feel when it comes to God’s application of justice. As we look around our city or especially look east to Immokalee today it may seem that justice has been abandoned and God’s work is absent. Asaph felt the same way, but as we saw in yesterday’s psalm, eternity will ultimately show God’s full justice on display. Until then we should be thankful that God’s justice is not fully executed today because no one has perfectly lived up to God’s moral laws and thus all are worthy of justice and judgment. It is only those who have received the grace and forgiveness offered through Jesus who will not receive the judgment that God’s justice will execute.

Question of the day: How can you live out Dr. Tony Evan’s definition of justice today? 

God, my Father, the world grieves me. I see injustice prevail and the powerful doing whatever they want in so many situations. Help me to be a beacon of your justice today while I wait for Jesus to return. May I look forward to Christ’s return and the rule of justice which He will bring. Help me to learn to apply your word to every corner of my life and every sphere of society. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, April 1, 2021

April 1, 2020

Deuteronomy 18:1-20:20; Luke 9:28-50; Psalms 73:1-28; Proverbs 12:10

We live in a culture where one of the predominant world views is that of secular humanism, also called materialism. It is the idea that all which exists is the material world. Science becomes the only means of knowledge and if science can't evaluate it, than it must not exist. Think of all of the things which this worldview can't make room for. It can't make room for consciousness, ethics, God, the supernatural and a myriad of other things. Yet thousands of years before this worldview became prominent, Asaph wrestled with some of the very same issues in Psalm 73. He looked upon those who were wealthy and healthy and assumed that they were experiencing the good life.

We may feel much the same way as we watch a Maserati, Rolls Royce or Lamborghini fly past us on 41. Asaph made his evaluation based on material existence only and failed to consider God or eternity into his perspective. We can easily fall into the same trap as we look at other people or think about different things in life. It is really only as Asaph considers eternity that he is able to see things properly. This change in perspective begins in verse 17. As he considers eternity he is able to claim the presence of God in the midst of his struggles. He is able to consider God's perfect justice and out of this declare God's greatness.

Read verses 1-16 and notice the hopelessness which is prevalent. Then, read how different verses 17-28 are. We, like Asaph, must learn to habitually turn away from what we can see and turn our eyes to the unseen King of Kings. It is only as we consider him that we are able to understand everything else rightly. So let us choose to look to him!

Question of the day: How does considering eternity help you to put life in perspective?

God, my Father, life often leaves me confused. I find myself struggling to make sense of my circumstances and the uncertainty in the world around me. In the midst of my confusion, help me to turn my eyes upon you. Help me to realize that eternity will help me to make sense of today. Help me to trust you knowing that you are faithful and good. Help me to be amazed by your presence and power. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March 31, 2020

Deuteronomy 16:1-17:20; Luke 9:7-27; Psalm 72:1-20; Proverbs 12:8-9

There is a common theme throughout our readings today, which is the idea of good leadership. Deuteronomy has a series of warnings concerning a king reigning over the nation. Moses is concerned that the king would seek to promote himself over the people and use his position for his own personal gain. Further, the king is to be someone who knows and lives out the commands of God. I love the image in 17:18 of a king writing out word for word the commands of God so that he can have his own personal copy to meditate on daily. 

Herod, who is mentioned in Luke 9, is everything that God warned against. He was concerned only about his own personal advantage and completely unconcerned with the things of God, as evidenced by his killing of John the Baptist. The way that Jesus rules is in stark contrast to these warnings. In Luke 9, Jesus meets the needs of a crowd of people by feeding them. He is never concerned about his own gain or benefit, but always the benefit of others. This is why Jesus is the perfect Messiah-King. He lived out everything that we long for in a leader. 

This picture of the ideal king is spoken of by Solomon in Psalm 72. The king is to be marked by justice and a concern, especially for the poor. The king is to stand up for those without a voice and without privilege. He is to make sure that the rich and powerful don't dominate society, but rather that the poor are treated with dignity and the respect they deserve. We must realize that Jesus is ultimately our perfect Ruler and King. We should feel honored and blessed to live in a country where we have a say in who our leaders are, but must never confuse them as being our ultimate king/ruler.

Question of the day: 

God, my Father, thank You that Your Son is my King. Thank You that He perfectly embodies who a ruler should be and is concerned for me. Thank You that He responds with love to His people and seeks to serve me, his servant. Help me find peace knowing that You perfectly care for me. Help me to look to You as my ultimate Ruler. I also pray for my earthly rulers in America. Give them hearts of justice, concern for the poor, and the wisdom to use their positions not to benefit themselves, but their constituents. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, March 30, 2021

March 30, 2020

Deuteronomy 13:1-15:23; Luke 8:40-9:6; Psalm 71:1-24; Proverbs 12:5-7

Why have you placed your faith in Christ? There may be a myriad of reasons for why, but ultimately we should place our faith in Christ because the Gospel is true. Jesus truly did live a perfect life, die on the cross for our sins, and rise from the dead. God gives the nations a number of warnings about worshipping other gods and drifting from their faith in Christ. 

He first addresses miracles. He wants the nation to understand that even if something is seemingly miraculous, this is not a reason to worship it. We see Satan and demons commit a plethora of miraculous things throughout the Bible, but this is not a reason for worship. 

The second is relationships. He wants Israel to understand that if anyone encourages worship of someone other than the God of the Bible they should not listen to. 

The third warning essentially concerns popularity. He wants Israel to understand that even if entire cities choose to worship other gods, His people should not cave in to peer pressure. 

I think all of these may be factors why people wander away from God. They may find something more appealing, attractive, alluring, miraculous, more socially acceptable, or entertaining, but these are all foolish reasons to abandon God. We must always remember that our ultimate foundation for praise, worship and faith is Truth. Jesus says that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Since He is the Ultimate Truth, we can have confidence that when we approach God, we are not believing in a fable, but in something that is the ultimate grounding for all of reality.

Question of the day: What reasons do you have for your faith in Christ?

God, my Father, I thank You that You are real. I thank You that You are the source of all that exists and the reason for my life. Help me to remain firmly rooted in You and to not give in to the temptations or allurements of the world and my culture. Help me to continually worship You and draw near to You and to live that way today. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, March 29, 2021

March 29, 2020

Deuteronomy 11:1-12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; Proverbs 12:4

We have seen throughout our reading this year that God calls His followers to obedience. We saw a little over a week ago that God wants our whole lives to be lived in obedience to Him. On February 26, we learned that we should obey God because of who He is. We should be driven to obey, not based on how we feel, but because He is God. Today in Deuteronomy, we see the intentionality involved in obedience. As those who have fallen short of the glory of God, our natural default is towards disobedience and sin. Therefore, Moses exhorts the nation of Israel to "be careful" (11:16), "carefully observe" (11:22), and "be careful to follow" (12:1) all that God has said.

Obedience demands intentionality. Feel free to go back and count how many times the word "careful" is used in our reading today (or you can search on Biblegateway.com in a few seconds). We normally don't think about being careful when it comes to obedience. We think about being careful when we are dealing with something that can stain, spill, or harm. I think that harm idea is exactly why Moses calls for the people to be careful. Our lack of obedience causes harm to us and everyone else in our lives. We might try to pretend that our sin is not a big deal, but it is like a wave that will always roll over us and others.

We, therefore, must be careful to obey. We must study what God is asking us to do, and then have a game plan to act upon it. If not, we can easily drift into complacency and disobedience. Be careful today to take God's word seriously and apply it to your life.

Question of the day: What can you do to be "careful" in obedience today?

God, my Father, thank You that You have instructed me through your Word how to live my life and have given me the Spirit to enable me to obey. Help me to not live according to my own desires, but rather to live according to Your commands. May I love You today by doing what you ask and living for Your glory. Help me to not minimize the effect of sin, but rather see the opportunity and beauty that can come through my obedience. Amen.

Derek Newbery 

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, March 28, 2021

March 28, 2020

Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22; Luke 8:4-21; Psalm 69:19-36; Proverbs 12:2-3

Moses described the nations currently in the Promised Land as "greater and stronger" than the nation of Israel throughout the book of Deuteronomy. Israel is depicted as a massive underdog against all of the enemy nations. Despite their underdog status, they have God on their side, thus victory is inevitable.

I love the progression in Deuteronomy 9:1-3. First, we see the strength of the enemy in verse 1. Then, we have their strength amplified even more in verse 2.  Verse 3 goes on to tell us that God will ensure the victory. It is not the strength of the enemy that matters, but ultimately the ability of God. If God is for us, who can be against us, as Romans 8:31 says.

If you have Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you have God always on your side. It means that no matter how overwhelming the circumstances of life may be, God can help you to overcome. It means that no matter how severe your addiction or bondage to sin is in an area of life, God can help you to overcome. Victory is available in God, through Christ.

In Jesus' parables today, we see how overwhelming the birds, rocks, and thorns appear to be, but God's work is greater and it will prevail. David in Psalm 69 feels overwhelmed by his enemies but he ultimately turns to praise God, because, he knows that victory is found in Him. Like Moses, Jesus, and David, we must turn away from the overwhelming circumstances in our lives to see the God who is there with us. No matter what you are going through God can help you overcome, because He is greater!

Question of the day: To what situation in life do you need to apply God's power, presence and victory?

God, my Father, I thank You that You are with me. Life often seems overwhelming, but I thank You that You are greater. I thank You that Your Son has overcome sin and death and that in Him I can as well. Help me to remember Your power, presence, and greatness in my life and choose to not experience anxiety or fear, but rather, to walk in the peace that You offer. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, March 27, 2021

March 27, 2020

Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20; Luke 7:36-8:3; Psalm 69: 1-18; Proverbs 12:1

In Deuteronomy, we come across the command from God to Israel that they "must destroy them totally," speaking of the nations in the Promised Land. This has often been brought up by skeptics as a hindrance to them coming to faith in the God of the Bible.

To these skeptics, and maybe even to us, it sounds like God ordained genocide. Regardless of whether or not we find this passage difficult, there are a few things we have to remember as we consider what God is doing here.

The first is that these nations were extremely wicked. They were involved in child sacrifice and other heinous practices. The fact that they were sinners (like all other people) placed them under the judgment of God.

The second is that this was a unique period of time, as God was working through the nation of Israel and fulfilling His promise to them concerning the Promised Land. What God is commanding here is, therefore, not applicable to us today.

Third, God promised the same result to Israel if they didn’t follow Him. Our reading in Deuteronomy ends with God promising that He would destroy Israel in the same way that Israel had destroyed these other nations, if they didn't obey him. We shouldn't envision God as somehow hating these nations while loving Israel. God loves everyone but has to judge sin.

Fourth, the command of destruction is not as universal as it may seem on the surface, since God invites all people to join his family. Any person, including those from the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites or other people groups, if they acknowledged God as their King, could have joined Israel (see Rahab, Ruth etc.). Destruction would only be for those who placed themselves in opposition to God and Israel.

Finally, we may be tempted to create a divide between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus, but we can't do that. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and the Trinity has always been who God is. In fact, when we look at the words of Jesus, He speaks of eternal judgment more in the Gospels than all of the Old Testament combined. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are eternally full of love and justice. There are a number of difficult passages throughout the Bible, and we need to wrestle with them to understand what God may be doing. Even when we can't make sense of them, we should always submit before our God who is perfect and eternal, acknowledging that we are not.

Question of the day: What do you do when you encounter a passage of the Bible that does not make sense to you? Do you think this is the best response to your lack of understanding?

God, my Father, I thank You that You are eternal, perfect and all knowing. I thank You that You are always seeking my good even when I can't make sense of it. Help me to trust You when I am confused and love You, especially when life is hard. Thank You that I can trust You because of the sacrifice of Your Son and the gift of the Spirit. May your Spirit make clear to me what You are doing in my life and the meaning of Your Scriptures. Help me grow in my intimacy with You. Amen.             

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, March 26, 2021

March 26, 2020

Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25; Luke 7:11-35; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 11:29-31

If you are a Christian, you are called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and someone who makes disciples. For those of us who have kids, the discipleship process should start here. We are called to do all that we can to exhort our kids to surrender their lives to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Notice the way that Moses describes this process in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25. He begins by encouraging us to love God more than we love anything else. God is not to be a love among many, but the ultimate love of our life. He is to be the One to whom we are more passionate and devoted than anything else. The way that we speak of God to others should be an overflow of this love. Moses here is dealing specifically with the parent-child relationship. We as parents are to "impress" God and His words upon our kids.

Talking about God should be a natural and regular pattern of our discussion. The discipleship of our children is not the responsibility of the church, but rather as your responsibility as a parent. If God-talk gets relegated to Sundays, then it will seem like God is largely insignificant in the rest of life. We are to speak regularly of God with others and also think regularly about Him. Verses 20-25 say that we need to be able to explain the things of God to our kids. We don't have to have all of the answers to every possible question, but we should, out of our own relationship with God, be able to discuss God with them and look up any questions that we can't answer.

Discipling others is a great joy, opportunity, and blessing that God has given us. Whether we have kids or not, we can participate in the mission which God has given all of us: “to be disciples who make disciples."

Question of the day: If you are a parent, what can you do to more intentionally disciple your kids? If you don't have kids, who has God placed in your life that you can disciple?

God, my Father, I thank You that You have made me a disciple. Help me to have eyes to see those that I can share You with and be a part of their spiritual growth. Give me wisdom to point my kids to You and to be able to see them grow in their knowledge, love, and dependence on You. Help me to understand that my life is not ultimately mine, but Yours, and to be lived for Your glory and fame. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, March 25, 2021

March 25, 2020

Deuteronomy 4:1-49; Luke 6:39-7:10; Psalm 68:1-18; Proverbs 11:28

A consistent theme replayed itself over and over throughout Israel’s history. They would either forget the things God told them or willingly disobey Him.

Today, Christians often allow themselves to be led away from the things of God. Some of these distractions aren’t sinful, but they draw us away from pursuing God and set us up for sin.

Deuteronomy 4 says, “Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Proverbs 11:28 reminds us that the love of money and material possessions are distractions that can lead us away from God. 

Question of the day:  What can you do to keep your spiritual eyes on God’s message? What can you do to pass these truths onto your children and grandchildren? 

God our Father, help me to seek Your wisdom and Truth daily and to find ways of encouraging the next generation to also follow closely to Your words. Amen.

Tom Powidzki

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, March 24, 2021

March 24, 2020

Deuteronomy 2:1-3:29; Luke 6:12-38; Psalm 67:1-7; Proverbs 11:27

Luke 6 recounts some of what was discussed in Matthew 5-7 (The Sermon on the Mount). One of the profound pieces of this ‘sermon’ is the redefinition of those who are blessed. Normally, when we think of being blessed we think of material prosperity. You are blessed if you have money, and you are not blessed if you are poor. Jesus radically shows that this is a faulty understanding of blessing. Luke 6:20 says, “Blessed are those who are poor” and verse 24 says, “Woe are those who are rich.” Jesus says this because He has an eternal perspective rather than a temporal, material one.

We live in a culture that is often obsessed with the material and blind to the spiritual. Our society shouts platitudes like, "He who dies with the most toys wins!" When we step back from these ideas for even one second, we realize just how shallow and futile they are. Jesus wants us to reorient ourselves around Himself, because only in this will we be blessed. 

Matthew’s comments help to clarify what Jesus means by the poor. In Matthew he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This reveals that what Jesus values is a humble heart. He wants us to see his greatness and our neediness. It is those who see their need that can turn to Jesus and be made humble. The rich, those who refuse to admit their neediness, however, will never be made whole. They might gain the whole world but will ultimately lose their soul.

Let us make sure that we are pursuing the things that ultimately matter in life and acknowledging that we need Jesus as much today as we ever have.

Question of the day: What would it look like to cultivate a humble heart?

God, my Father, help me to value what You value. Help me to know that in humility comes true blessing. Help me to believe that greatness comes not through climbing the corporate ladder but in intimacy with You. Help me to trust Your words and not the whispers of the broken culture or my fallen heart. Help me to follow in the steps of Your Son, who came not to be served but to serve. Amen.    

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, March 23, 2021

March 23, 2020

Numbers 36:1- Deuteronomy 1:46; Luke 5:29-6:11; Psalm 66:1-20; Proverbs 11:24-26

We have now reached the book of Deuteronomy. The title of the book literally means the second law. It is a book primarily focused on a second recounting of the law, which God had given to the nation of Israel. God is so concerned for His people to follow Him that He repeats what He has already told them, encouraging them to hide it in their hearts and minds. 

One of the themes repeated throughout the Bible is the call to praise God. A vast percentage of the psalms are focused on this very topic including Psalm 66, which we read today. This psalm provides a number of reasons to praise God and encourages us to respond appropriately to all God has done. The psalmist begins by praising God for His power and position. The psalmist sees that God is over all creation and greater than anything else. His greatness calls for us to respond with praise. He also praises God for using difficulty in his life to help refine and mature him. This may seem like a strange reason to praise God, but if we examine our lives, a good portion of our growth has probably come through difficulty. We can look back at those moments and praise God for how He used those hard times. Finally, the psalmist praises God, because He hears and responds to his prayers. This doesn't mean that He answers our prayers how we want, but it does mean that God never ignores our calls to Him. Let us use these reasons and countless others to praise our God today.

Question of the day: What is something you need to stop and praise God for today?

God, my Father, I praise You. I thank You that You are greater than everything else. I will stop and praise You. I thank You that You have used hardship in my life to grow me to become more like Jesus. I thank You that I can look back on my scars and wounds and know that You were present with me in the midst of it all. I also praise You that You are listening to these words now. Help me to remember your presence today and praise You everywhere I go. Amen.

Derek Newbery
Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, March 22, 2021

March 22, 2020

Numbers 33:40-35:34; Luke 5:12-28; Psalm 65:1-13; Proverbs 11:23

One of the main ways we know that Jesus is God is that He does that which only God can do. We come across one of those scenes in our reading today out of Luke 5. A paralyzed man is brought to Jesus, and Jesus' initial response is to forgive the man's sins. Jesus understands that the deepest need of humanity is a right relationship with God. When Jesus forgives the man, however, the religious leaders claim Jesus has committed blasphemy, because he has done that which only God can do. Jesus goes on to heal the man of his paralysis, proving that he could truly heal his sins, as well. Through this incident, Jesus validates that he is God. 

Jesus being divine is not just a minor thing in Christianity. It is at the very core. If Jesus is not divine, then He is a liar. His death would not be sufficient for our forgiveness, and He could not have done the things which the Bible attributes to him. One of the central tests when we come across a religion that claims to be Christian, is what do they do with Jesus. Some religions claim that Jesus is the brother of Lucifer. Some claim that He is the greatest thing in all creation, but still just a part of creation. Others claim that He is simply God the Father appearing in a different form, at a different time. 

All of these are heresies which the church has addressed throughout its history, and all fall short of who the Bible tells us that Jesus is. There are also 'churches' in Naples that would hold to these ideas about Jesus. What the Bible tells us, however, is that Jesus is truly God and truly man who came to earth to live a perfect life and to die for our sins, so that we could find forgiveness and a reconciled relationship with God.

Question of the day: How would you explain to someone that Jesus is God?

God, my Father, thank You for the sending of Your Son. Thank You that Your Son gave up His eternal place in the heavenly realms to come into this broken world to make me right with You. Thank You for all that He has done for me. Help me to respond to His work by living for You through the power of Your Spirit. Help me to make life about You, Your Son and Your Spirit, and not about me. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, March 21, 2021

March 21, 2020

Numbers 32:1-33:39; Luke 4:31-5:11; Psalm 64:1-10; Proverbs 11:22

The story in Luke 5:1-11 is only included in Luke's gospel and is a powerful portrayal of what happens when Jesus invades our lives. Jesus' first request of Simon (Peter) is to use his boat as a teaching platform. Simon has already had a full day of work under his belt and, yet, he honors Jesus’ command. Pushing off shore for a short talk wasn't demanding too much. Then, Jesus tells Peter to put out his nets. This request asks even more of Peter since it sends him back to work, but he does it. Instantly, Peter reaps the reward of obedience, as he catches a massive haul of fish. Jesus' request soon ramps up into a call for Peter to give up everything and follow him. 

This is the same thing that Jesus asks of us. He wants us to become completely committed to following Him. This is the definition of a disciple. It is someone who follows another and shapes his whole life around that individual and his teaching. Is this what your life looks like? Jesus may have started small with us, but he doesn't just want to transform a few areas of our lives. He wants to leave every area changed.

Question of the day: What is one area of your life that you need to see God transform?

God, my Father, thank You that You are able to transform all of me. I thank You that there is no area of sin, temptation, brokenness that You cannot help me overcome. I pray that You would take every part of my life and use it for Your glory. Help me not to say no when You make requests of me, but, instead to walk in obedience to Your calling. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, March 20, 2021

March 20, 2020

Numbers 30:1-31:54; Luke 4:1-30; Psalm 63:1-11; Proverbs 11:20-21

The poet Robert Frost wrote tongue-in-cheek about the devil:

Church neglect and figurative use have pretty well reduced him to a shadow of himself.

If that is the case, it’s a deadly mistake.

Whether we realize it or not, we are engaged in a high-stakes battle with a truly dangerous enemy. Peter describes Satan as a roaring lion--seeking out his prey. And Paul warns:  

We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil (Ephesians 6:12b Phillips).

Satan works through deceit. Haddon Robinson cautions:

When Satan approaches us, he never comes dragging the chains that will enslave us. … In fact, he never hints about the consequences; he only promises [he] will fill all the desires of our hearts. That is how we are destroyed.

In our reading today Jesus answers each of Satan’s three attacks with scripture. We are to do the same. God’s Word is alive. It speaks into my heart and mind during the battle. It answers my fears, my struggles. It protects me from temptation and the stupidity and destruction of sin.

And we are also invited to go to the One who has been there. The most effective counselor is someone who has experienced whatever we face--and has made it. We are given that with the Savior.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Question of the day: What temptation are you facing today? What verses speak to it?

Search me, God, and know my heart.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. I ask this for your sake, and my sake, and the sake of those  you have put in my life. Amen.

Jim Nite

Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, March 19, 2021

March 19, 2020

Numbers 28: 16-29:40; Luke 3:23-38; Psalm 62:1-12;Proverbs 11:18-19

David ends Psalm 62 with two statements about the character of God. He refers to Him as strong and loving. The psalmist needs the strength of God, because he feels like he is going to be toppled by his adversaries. His situation seems bleak, but he recognizes that God's power is greater than anything that can come against him. This may resonate with you as you stare into the uncertainty of what life may bring.

One of my favorite songs is called, "No Weapon," by Fred Hammond. He sings the words of Isaiah 54:17 about God's great power, the very thing the psalmist is leaning on here.  David recognizes, however, that if God is only powerful, then He may not be concerned about us. He might be like a distant king who is unconcerned about the condition of his people. David understands that God is powerful, but He is also loving. God cares deeply about us and, because of this, we can trust Him in the midst of life. 

We have a tendency to only focus on one of these attributes, but God wants us to see Him for who He truly is as both strong and loving. Let us look to the One who is able and willing to bring about His will in the midst of our broken world.

Question of the day: Do you need to focus on God's power or love today, and what difference would that make in your life?

God, my Father, thank You for being strong and loving. Thank You that You are greater than anything I will come against. Thank You that You can help me overcome any temptation or sin that I will face. Thank You that You care for me more deeply than I can fathom. Thank You that You proved Your love to me through the death of your Son, Jesus, and Your gifting of the Spirit. Help me not to doubt Your power or love but to walk in it today. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, March 18, 2021

March 18, 2020

Numbers 26:52-28:15; Luke 3:1-22; Psalm 61:1-8; Proverbs 11:16-17

John the Baptist plays a critical role in preparing the way for Jesus. His preparatory work largely involved preaching and baptizing people who came to him at the Jordan River. People from all different walks of life followed him. The crowds included two of the most hated professions in Israel: tax collectors and soldiers.

We might think that John would have called these people out of these professions and into ones which were more ‘spiritual,’ but he did not. Sometimes we categorize some jobs as more holy or spiritual than others. We think that somehow being a pastor honors God more than being a lawyer, plumber or teacher, but this is absolutely false.

God wants to use us right where we are to be His witnesses. John told the tax collectors to honor God in the midst of their profession, and he encouraged soldiers to do the same thing. We need to conceive of what it means to be a Christian _________ (fill-in your job). Your job puts you in front of people who will possibly never come to church or read a Bible, but they do have the opportunity to read your life. As you interact with people who are frightened or anxious today, seek to honor God by making him known.

Question of the day: How should being a Christian influence the way you do your job and how can you make Christ known today?

God, my Father, I thank You for where You have placed me. I pray that You will help me to honor You today, at work, at home, and everywhere I go. Help me to share You through my words and point to You through the way I live my life. May I seek to make You known in all that I do and have eyes to see those around me who need to hear about you. Amen.

Derek Newbery


 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, March 17, 2021

March 17, 2020

Numbers 26:1-51; Luke 2:36-52; Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 11:15

We are introduced to a woman named Anna in Luke 2. She is described as someone who has lost something significant, but gained something even more valuable. She was married for seven years and then her husband died. Notice that Anna’s status as a widow does not ultimately define her. Instead, she took her loss and decided to devote herself to God. She was known as a woman who constantly worshiped, prayed, and fasted. In our time, this would be a woman at church every time the doors are open. She  did not allow her hardship and loss to become her identity, but, instead, chose to give herself God.

It is so easy to allow difficulty to define us and hang over our heads. It may be the current virus situation, loss of a marriage, chronic pain, the death of a loved one, a financial setback, or something else. It can be easy to allow these things to take over the narrative of our lives. God wants us, however, to be willing to become like Anna, who moved forward from her hardship and became immersed in the beauty and redemption which God offered her.

Anna was known as the worshiper, not just the widow.

We should also be known by the greatness of our God and not just by the difficulties that we face. Let us allow God to transform our attitudes, our hearts, and our minds as we focus on Him as the greatest reality of our lives.

Question of the day: Why is it easier to focus on life’s difficulties than on God’s grace?

God, my Father, thank You that my identity can be found in You. Thank You that in You I can find hope, joy and peace, which can overshadow the hardships of life. Help me to see You in the midst of the darkest of days and to remember that You are the one who gives me purpose, even when all seems chaotic and broken. Help me to worship at all times and to see Your beauty in all situations. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, March 16, 2021

March 16, 2020

Numbers 24:1-25:18; Luke 2:1-35; Psalm 59:1-17; Proverbs 11:14

The first people to whom God revealed the birth of His Son were shepherds. In writings that come a few hundred years after this event, we are told shepherds were despised by most people and considered outcasts by society. Yet, these are the people to whom God chose to make his first birth announcements.

Imagine someone being born into a royal family and informing the homeless or the poor before any other group. This is what God is doing here. Once again, He is showing that the ways and priorities of the world are not His. The message they received was intended to bring joy (Luke 2:10) and peace (2:14). He became the means of salvation for all who believe. All of human history is centered on this little baby born in the rural town of Bethlehem. This would be like finding out that a baby born in Everglades City would change human history and become the source of our peace and joy.

How we respond to Jesus will ultimately determine the quality of our lives. The shepherds left Jesus with hearts filled with praise. It  does not matter if someone is deemed an outsider or considered an insider in our society. Everyone can choose to respond to Jesus with praise or ignore Him and make our lives about us. Only Jesus can provide what we need to live transformed lives.

Question of the day: What would it look like to find your ultimate joy in Jesus?

God, my Father, thank You for the gift of your Son. Thank You that He came into our broken world to be the Savior that I so desperately needed. Thank You that He offers me joy and peace, and that these things can transcend my circumstances. Help me to look deeply upon your Son and to praise Him today with my lips and life. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, March 15, 2021

March 15, 2020

Numbers 22:21-23:30; Luke 1:57-80; Psalm 58:1-11; Proverbs 11:12-13

Blessings, curses, and a talking donkey! Our Old Testament passage is strange and fantastic as it shows God, in his sovereignty, protecting his people. Balaam seems to be a prophet for hire, providing curses for a living. Yet, he still responds to God’s voice (once he has eyes to see) and can only bless Israel when Balak commands him to curse. God’s plan of salvation is at work.

We continue to see his plan at work at the birth of John the Baptist. His father, Zechariah, has been unable to speak during his wife’s entire pregnancy because he doubted God’s word. The moment his speech returns he prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us...salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.”

God is sovereign. He protected his people from Balak and he continues to protect his people today. His plan will not be thwarted. He has provided salvation through Jesus. We can choose to believe his word or suffer talking donkeys. 

Question of the day: What is it going to take for you to believe God?  

Heavenly Father, thank you that redemption has come through your son, Jesus Christ, and that you are sovereign. Turn my doubts into trust, so I can hear and obey your word. Amen.

Sarah Naples

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, March 14, 2021

March 14, 2020

Numbers 21:1-22:20; Luke 1:26-56; Psalm 57:1-11; Proverbs 11:9-11

We are about a month away from Easter, but today we are reading Scripture that is associated with Christmas. Luke 1 paints a picture of two mothers who are each pregnant through miraculous means. Elizabeth and Mary are together for three months and, during this time, they celebrate their pregnancies. Mary responds in verses 46-55 with a statement that has been traditionally called the Magnificat. This term is the Latin translation of the word "glorify," which begins Mary's statement.

Mary recognizes that God is deserving of all praise because of what He has done. Mary has done nothing to earn God’s favor. She praises Him for His grace. The focus of Mary's worship centers around God’s ability to reverse the structures and values of the world. He is able to take a young virgin and make her the mother of the Messiah. God is also able to crush the proud, depose rulers, while lifting up the humble and lonely. Further, He is able to satisfy the poor, while filling the rich with a sense of emptiness. The people who seem to have it all in the eyes of the world will be left wanting without him, while those who have nothing but Christ will be eternally satisfied.

Praise functions as fuel to remind us of these realities. We need to be consumed with His grandeur so that we might find ultimate satisfaction and delight in Him.

Question of the day: How does the reality of God's reversal affect the way we should view the goal of our lives?

God, my Father, thank You that true life is found in You. Help me not to try and find satisfaction in the temporal things of this world, but, instead, to find it in You. Help me to praise You and acknowledge all of the good things You provide in my life. Help me to glorify and rejoice in You today. Amen.

Derek Newbery

 

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, March 13, 2021