Numbers 8, Isaiah 33, Galatians 2

Read Numbers 8, Isaiah 33, and Galatians 2 today. This devotional is about Isaiah 33.

Our society has changed dramatically in the past few years. Actions that were once were considered immoral are now considered acceptable. In some cases things that were illegal are not only legal now but receive special legal protection.

Those who are advocating and legalizing these changes do so with much self-righteousness under the guise of civil rights, creating a lot of pressure on the rest of society to celebrate these changes, or conform to them or, at the very least, remain quiet about them.

If you have ever wondered why so many people have suddenly lost their minds, Isaiah 33:5-6 provides the answer. Verse 5 describes God’s exalted state and how his kingdom (“Zion”) will be filled “with his justice and righteousness.” But this world is not yet his kingdom; until Christ returns and establishes his kingdom, every human government will become unjust and every society will practice increasing unrighteousness. Why? Verse 6 says, “He will be the sure foundation for your times….” When people believe in God and bow to his definition of “righteousness,” they have this sure foundation on which to establish and right and wrong. Without faith in God, no sure foundation exists; instead, ideas of righteousness and justice will be (re)defined by the perverse and ever degrading notions of humanity.

But verse 6 of our passage continues by saying that the Lord will be “a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.” As believers who fear the Lord, we can be certain of what we know because it has been revealed to us by someone who knows all things. That was stated in the final line of our passage for today, Isaiah 33:6: “…the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” “Fearing the Lord” means so much in the Old Testament. It means reverencing God in worship, of course, but it also means understanding his greatness and awesomeness and how undeserving we are of anything from him. Fearing God causes us to reverence what he has revealed in his word and that leads to repentance and faith.

But fearing God and receiving his word also means accepting what his word says about the origin of all things, the end of all things, why some things are wrong, why we need salvation, etc.

Yes, it is true that unbelievers know many things that we believers do not and that believers do not know anything. But if you dig a little bit beneath the surface of an unbeliever’s knowledge, you will find assumptions rather than certainty. This is why right and wrong, which should be obvious to anyone, eventually become questioned and then denied in godless societies. When someone cuts himself off from God he will have no foundation to know anything. That means that anything could be true which causes people to believe in foolishness (see Romans 1:21, 28).

There is much more to say about this than I can write in this devotional. For a taste of more, check out this brief video by Sye Ten Bruggencate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM1AWO92Crc

Genesis 35-36, Job 2, Psalms 14-16

Read Genesis 36-36, Job 2, and Psalms 14-16 today. This devotional is about Psalm 14.

In our society, the sophisticated, the elite, the well-educated, the successful, the enviable person denies the existence of God. Some deny God’s existence directly and vigorously like Sam Harris. Others might say that they believe in God or the possibility that God exists, but they live as if he did not.

To those who deny God’s existence everything in life has a natural and naturalistic explanation. So, instead of learning Scripture, these atheists would tell you to improve your life or get what you want by studying science or psychology or some success formula.

In contrast to the wise of this world who deny the existence of God, the Bible says here in Psalm 14 that it is the fool who “says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Being a “fool” in Scripture is not about lacking intelligence. It is about thinking and living apart from God and his revelation.

If you think and act apart from God’s revelation, you will make decisions that appeal to you. These decisions seem like moves toward the things that you really want–success, pleasure, recognition, whatever. But these decisions, apart from God, will inevitably lead to problems–pain or sorrow or some other sort of problem. Why? Because your internal desires are like a broken compass. They do not point toward true joy or true righteousness; they point toward selfishness. In the words of Psalm 14:2, “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

Verses 2-4 describe what the atheist is like from God’s perspective. God has already labeled him a fool in verse 1; the verses that follow verse 1 expand on what God sees when he watches the fool:

First, he doesn’t seem anyone who “gets it” on his own (v. 2b); instead, he sees people who increasingly give themselves to sin (v. 3). As the consequences for sin mount, they turn their attention to those who follow the Lord in faith. But, instead of noticing the positive results, the fruit of the Spirit, that God brings into our lives, they attack us (v. 4b). But verses 5-6 remind us that the success of God’s enemies is short-lived. In the end, God will care for us and ultimately, in his justice, vindicate us.

The result of living in faith is joy: “When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” (v. 7b). So, if you’ve had a tough week, feeling attacked and harassed by a world that does not know God, our weekly worship service is just what you need! It will remind you of God’s ultimate, sovereign control and that God is working for our good in this world and our joy as we glory and delight in him. So let’s come together and worship him this morning in joy! I’ll see you at 10 a.m.

Genesis 20, Nehemiah 9, Proverbs 2

Read Genesis 20, Nehemiah 9 and Proverbs 2. This devotional is about Genesis 20.

Abraham and Sarah did this, “We’re brother and sister” thing before back in Genesis 12:10-20. On that occasion, they were in Egypt; here they are in Gerar. In Genesis 12, God protected Sarah just as he did here.

But this was stupid both times, even more so the second time after the close call back in Genesis 12. In Genesis 12:11, 13 Abraham told Sarah, “I know what a beautiful woman you are…. say you are my sister.”

But think about how that would sound to man. “Hi, I’m Abraham and this beautiful women here is my sister Sarah.”

Well, if they were merely brother and sister and there’s no husband introduced, then it would be reasonable for a man to conclude that this beautiful woman was single and available for anyone who wanted her.

Predictably, that’s what happened; she was added to the harem of Pharaoh (Gen 12) and Abimelek (here in Gen 20). In both cases, Abraham lost his wife and put God’s promises in jeopardy. In both cases, only God’s miraculous intervention preserved Sarah and allowed her to become the covenant mother that God had promised she would be.

So why would Abraham do this–knowingly and predictably put his wife in a situation where she would be taken by other men?

The answer–in both cases–was fear. Abraham was afraid of being killed so that someone could get to Sarah (v. 11).

So he just lied and made Sarah available.

That was unloving to her and unnecessary. Abraham and his men had just defeated a cohort of kings in Genesis 14. If Abraham and his servants were powerful enough to liberate Lot and Sodom from these kings, surely they could have protected Abraham’s life and Sarah from being abducted.

And, how often does it actually happen where a man kills another man to be with his wife? I know there are news stories where that kind of thing happens but I’ve never personally met anyone in that situation. If a man did that–killed another man to take his wife–the other men who lived around the killer would gang up on him and kill him.

So, Abraham’s fear was unspiritual, irrational, and far adrift from reality.

This incident shows what happens when we live in fear instead of faith in God’s promises; namely, we make foolish decisions. God protected Abraham because of his covenant promises that Abraham would become a great nation through the son born to Sarah. But God would have been just to allow Abraham to live through the consequences of the foolish, fear-filled decisions he made.

Are you living your life in fear instead of in faith? Do you use lies and deception to manipulate others instead of trusting God to care for you and provide for you? It is easy and tempting for us to fall into a similar trap as Abraham. Learn from his negative example in this instance and trust God instead of acting in fear.

Exodus 25, Proverbs 1, Psalm 72

Today we’re reading Exodus 25, Proverbs 1, and Psalm 72.

This devotional is about Proverbs 1.

We live in the information age. Knowledge abounds and most people carry a device in their pocket or purse that can access it. Although knowledge is readily available, wisdom is rare. People in our society know more than ever but seem to have fewer and fewer basic life skills.

The word “wisdom,” biblically speaking, at least, refers to skill. It is the skill of living a successful life according to God’s definition of success. Although I said that wisdom is rare in our society, Proverbs 1:20-21 claims that wisdom is ubiquitous—nearly as common as oxygen. To demonstrate this, Solomon imagined wisdom as if it were a woman and wrote, “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:”

If wisdom is everywhere then why is it so rare? The speech of “woman wisdom” in verse 23 tells us why: “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you….” Wisdom is rare because only the humble receive it. It takes humility to admit that you lack skills with God, with money, with other people, with the opposite sex, with career choices, with your own bad habit like laziness, etc. Most of us are too proud in one or more of the areas where we need wisdom which is why we continue to make foolish decisions.

As we read the book of Proverbs over the next 30 days, note how often the idea that your own ideas or understanding will lead you astray. That’s how our pride manifests itself. We try to figure everything out on our own, so we don’t ask God for wisdom, turn to his Word for wisdom, or seek the counsel of wise people. If we would only change our minds (v. 23: “repent”) and admit that we’re on the edge of big trouble most of the time, wisdom would be right there waiting to give us a great big kiss.

Sometimes we succeed or avoid danger / failure despite our lack of wisdom but very often our foolishness gets the better of us. But living in folly and making decisions without wisdom catches up with us most of the time. The reason is that there are built-in effects to the decisions we make. When we make wise decisions, good things happen; when we make foolish decisions, we suffer for it. Verses 25-27 promise that disaster and calamity will come to those who refuse wisdom’s rebuke. Verse 30-31 tell us that this disaster and calamity is embedded in folly; it is the direct consequences of unwise choices: “Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them….”

Wisdom is a moral thing. That’s why it starts with fearing the Lord (v. 7). God’s commands are wisdom. When we sin, we choose folly and put ourselves directly in the path of a category 5 hurricane of disaster. But our sin nature fools us into believing that we know better than God and his Word; consequently, we humans make the same foolish decisions over and over, generation after generation, never learning from foolish disasters created by those older than us. We need God’s grace to overcome our foolishness so that we can be wise. This is what we have in Christ.

Is there anything in your life right now that you need to repent of? Any sins you’ve committed or have committed that you need to change your mind about? Wisdom is begging you to do it before calamity comes. Turn toward her open arms! God’s promise to you through her is, “whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (v. 33).

Proverbs 21:15-31

Today’s reading is Proverbs 21:15-31.

You’ve heard people say, “We live hand to mouth.” Maybe you’ve even said it. When someone says that, they are telling you that they do not save anything. Whatever they earn in income is immediately consumed. Every penny is spent and, with easy credit these days, many people have already spent more money than they will earn for many paychecks to come.

This is the American way, unfortunately.

But it isn’t the wise way. According to Proverbs 15:20, “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” Remember that wisdom has a moral quality to it in Proverbs. The way of the wise isn’t just something that smart people do; it is what godly people do. If a person takes God’s word seriously, that person knows that God created people to work and provide for ourselves. Also, God’s word tells us to prepare for difficult days. These revelations from God’s word are what cause a wise man to “store up choice food and olive oil.” A believer in God understands that difficult days will come so he prepares for them by saving.

A fool, by contrast, is a consumer. He or she craves the experience of pleasure, the excitement of new purchases, the status provided by nice things. Instead of saving, then, the foolish consumes everything as soon as it comes in. And so, verse 17 of our passage today prophesies, “Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.”

A person’s savings or lack of savings is not the only indicator of faith and godliness. Every Christian has areas where they are doing well and areas they need to improve. If you’re reading these devotionals every day, you’re taking a positive step toward a holy life. If you’re putting into practice the things that you read, that’s even more important. Maybe today’s proverbs will give you a new area in your life to work on for developing godliness. If you’re not saving anything, understand that is both a financial and spiritual problem, then ask the Lord to help you curb your spending and start saving.

An excellent first step on this would be to sign up for Financial Peace University this fall, which we are offering as one of our small groups. You can sign up for it on Sunday in your response cards or go to http://calvarysmallgroups.com and register for it right now.

2 Chronicles 25, Revelation 12:1–13:1, Zechariah 8, John 11

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 25, Revelation 12:1–13:1, Zechariah 8, John 11. 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 2 Chronicles 25.

Amaziah followed his father Joash as king of Israel. He also followed his inconsistent spiritual leadership. Verse 2 said, “ He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly.” He was obedient to the Law when it came to punishing his father’s assassins (vv. 3-4) and when he was told not to hire soldiers from Israel (vv. 5-10). But he stooped to idolatry after defeating the Edomites and taking their gods even though, as a prophet put it to him, “Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?”

That question makes the folly of idolatry so clear, doesn’t it? But it is easy for us to fall into the same kinds of traps. We fall for materialism even though God’s word warns us against it and we know from our own experience that new possessions lose their allure quickly. We turn to secular wisdom when we need advice and counsel instead of God’s word. We follow our own desires or our own thinking even though it runs counter to God’s commands and has led us astray before. This is why we need a steady supply of truth in our lives, through daily Bible reading and consistent Bible teaching, to remind us and help guard us against the folly of false gods and unbiblical ideas.

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.

Deuteronomy 5, Psalm 88, Isaiah 33, Revelation 3

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Deuteronomy 5, Psalm 88, Isaiah 33, Revelation 3. 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 Isaiah 33.

Our society has changed dramatically in the past few years. Actions that were once were considered immoral are now considered acceptable. In some cases things that were illegal are not only legal now but receive special legal protection. Those who are advocating and legalizing these changes do so with much self-righteousness under the guise of civil rights, creating a lot of pressure on the rest of society to celebrate these changes, or conform to them or, at the very least, remain quiet about them. If you have ever wondered why so many people have suddenly lost their minds, Isaiah 33:5-6 provides the answer. Verse 5 describes God’s exalted state and how his kingdom (“Zion”) will be filled “with his justice and righteousness.” But this world is not yet his kingdom; until Christ returns and establishes his kingdom, every human government will become unjust and every society will practice increasing unrighteousness. Why? Verse 6 says, “He will be the sure foundation for your times….” When people believe in God and bow to his definition of “righteousness,” they have this sure foundation on which to test right and wrong. Without faith in God, no sure foundation exists; instead, ideas of righteousness and justice will be (re)defined by the perverse and ever degrading notions of humanity. But verse 6 of our passage continues by saying that the Lord will be “a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.” As believers who fear the Lord, we can be certain of what we know because it has been revealed to us by someone who knows all things. This is stated in the final line of our passage for today, Isaiah 33:6: “…the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” “Fearing the Lord” means so much in the Old Testament. It means reverencing God in worship, of course, but it also means having a deep understanding of his greatness and awesomeness and how undeserving we are of anything from him. Fearing God causes us to reverence what he has revealed in his word and that leads to repentance and faith. But fearing God and receiving his word also means accepting what his word says about the origin of all things, the end of all things, why some things are wrong, why we need salvation, etc. Yes, it is true that unbelievers know many things that we believers do not and that believers do not know everything. But if you dig a little bit beneath the surface of an unbeliever’s knowledge, you will find assumptions rather than certainty. This is why right and wrong, which should be obvious to anyone, eventually become questioned and then denied in godless societies. When someone cuts himself off from God he will have no foundation to know anything. That means that anything could be true which causes people to believe in foolishness (see Romans 1:21, 28).

There is much more to say about this than I can write in this devotional. For a taste of more, check out this brief video by Sye Ten Bruggencate: 

 

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.