2 Kings 20, Habakkuk 3, John 12

Today read 2 Kings 20, Habakkuk 3, and John 12. This devotional is about John 12.

There is a strong contrast between a disciple who loves Jesus and is unashamed of being his servant and those who believe in Jesus but want to follow him secretly.

We can see the contrast right here in John 12. It opens with Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with “about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume” (v. 3a) which she poured on his feet then removed with her hair (v. 3b). Her appreciation for who Jesus is, her gratitude for what he had done, and her desire to glorify and worship him overcame any inhibitions she had. Giving this gift of anointing to Jesus was far more important to her than blessing the poor with it (vv. 5-6), not because the poor were unimportant but because she was devoted to Jesus.

The opposite of her unique act of worship was exemplified by the “leaders” (v. 42a) who “believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue” (v. 42b). They wanted to follow Christ in secret. Why? Because “they loved human praise more than praise from God” (v. 43). Mary was unashamed because she was devoted to God and, therefore, worshipped his Son openly without shame. These men who were leaders feared God but they feared social ostracism more.

Most, if not all of us, go through phases in our lives where we want to hide our faith in Christ because we fear people. It is a common spiritual issue, one that even the great Simon Peter experienced when he denied our Lord three times. So if you’ve ever hidden your faith or been embarrassed to admit that you’re a Christian, that does not automatically mean that you are not sincerely saved.

Eventually, though, the time comes when we must confess Christ openly. We must do so to become part of the local church through baptism. We must confess him openly to tell others about salvation in him. And, some of us must confess him openly by giving up our lives to follow him. As Jesus said in verses 24-25, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Are you willing to die for Jesus? Then why are you afraid to talk about him in your workplace? Why are you unwilling to sacrifice financially for his work? May God use this chapter to pull us out of our protective shells, to teach us to fear Him more than we fear others and even to love him more than we desire the praise of men. Then we will show ourselves to be his true disciples.

Psalms 75-77

Today we’re reading Psalms 75-77.

What gives us comfort and hope when we are in distress? According to Psalm 77, it is the past (vv. 5, 11-12). As he remembered God’s ways in the past, his acts recorded in the books of Moses (vv. 13-20), his faith was strengthened and he appealed to the Lord for help while he was in distress (vv. 1-2, 10).

Are you struggling with a need in your life? Reading the scriptures and considering how God has worked in the past may be the very thing you need to strengthen your faith and bring boldness to your prayer life.

Leviticus 11–12, Psalms 13–14, Proverbs 26, 1 Thessalonians 5

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Leviticus 11–12, Psalms 13–14, Proverbs 26, 1 Thessalonians 5. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Psalm 13.

Is it possible that we are too polite in our prayers? While we should never blaspheme God, maybe we are too cautious in our words and our tone when we approach God in prayer. When we were reading Job together earlier this year, we saw how foolish and somewhat reckless he became in his demands for God’s justice. Although God did not bend to Job’s demands and didn’t even explain himself to Job, he also did not condemn Job for the raw emotions he had and the words that they produced. We see this same kind of bold, pleading prayer from David today in Psalm 13: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (vv. 1-2). It is impossible to read those words and not feel some of the distress that David must have felt. Then his questions turned to demands: “Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes…” This evidences a kind of boldness in prayer that is pretty rare, at least in my prayers and in the prayer meetings I’ve participated in during my lifetime. It is important, however, to recognize the bases of this boldness, which are two:

First, David’s boldness in prayer was based on God’s covenant according to verse 3b-4: “or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” If God did not answer David’s prayer for deliverance, then David would die. We’re all going to die someday; however, God had made certain promises to David. If he were to die before those promises were fulfilled, then David’s enemies—God’s enemies—would triumph over God’s covenant promises. David’s boldness in prayer came from his conviction that God would do what he promised to do. Our bold praying should come from the same place; while God has not made individual promises to any of us like the ones he made to David, he has made promises to us in Christ. We can claim his power to overcome temptation or to stand strong under persecution or to keep the faith when doubts enter our minds. This is a kind of bold praying that is not disrespectful to God; it honors him, in fact, because in these prayers we hold fast to his word and look to him in faith to do what he promised.
 
The second basis for David’s bold prayer was God’s relationship with him. This is, of course, based on the first. God’s covenant with David was not an arm’s length business deal between two self-interested parties. It was a vow God made to David based on his “unfailing love” (v. 5). David proclaims his “trust” (v. 5a) in God and his love and holds on to that as he prays. While the risks to his life were real and the fear was raw, David could pray confidently in faith because his relationship with God was personal and genuine. So it is with us; through Christ we have been adopted into God’s family and invited to speak to God as “Abba,” the most tender expression of a helpless child toward his father. When we feel helpless and desperate before God, we can pour out our heart to him with raw, genuine emotion because we are accepted into a perfect, permanent relationship with God through faith in the merits of Christ. Let this little Psalm give your faith and your prayer life a big boost today, no matter what you need from God.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.