Month: May 2024

Communion With Our Lord

Don’t let the busyness of daily living rob you of the joy and fulfillment that come from time with God.

1 John 1:1-3

Genesis 1:26-27 teaches that God created us in His image. As a result of Adam’s transgression, however, sin entered the world and separated us from God. Knowing our dilemma—that we’re enslaved by our “flesh” and cannot make ourselves righteous—Jesus came to restore us and return us to a right relationship with the Father. Because Christ is perfectly holy, innocent, and undefiled (Hebrews 7:26), He alone qualified to carry our sins to the cross. When we receive Jesus’ finished work on our behalf, we are acknowledging His lordship over our life. Then we’re adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:4-5).

Take a moment to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus, the One without sin, took on mankind’s sins—past, present, and future—to save us from eternal separation from the Father. He willingly gave His life so we might be reconciled to God and live with Him forever. As we ponder this amazing demonstration of grace and love, our response should be a strong desire to spend time with Him.

Child of God, you were designed to have sweet communion with your heavenly Father. Jesus died so that you and I might become part of His family. How strong is your need for fellowship with Him? Does it override the clamor of the week’s events or get lost in the demands of daily living?

The Sacrificial Lamb

All of our wrongs—past, present, and future—are forgiven when we accept the gift Jesus died to give us.

Hebrews 10:1-14

God’s grace has no limits. His mercy can reach the darkest part of our heart. Christ not only erased our past, present, and future sin; He also paid for the wrongs of every generation. When the ancient Israelites brought a goat or a lamb to the temple for a sacrifice, they placed their hands on its head and confessed their sins. The priest then killed the animal and sprinkled some of its blood on the altar of atonement. The ritual symbolized a confessor’s payment for sin.

But the lamb could not actually take on the sin and die in place of the Israelite (Heb. 10:4). If an animal’s blood could actually erase a sin debt, then Jesus’ death would have been unnecessary. The ritual of sacrificing a lamb was the Father’s idea (Leviticus 4:1-35), though the act itself was symbolic. God established such offerings as an illustration of the seriousness of sin. The practice also pointed to Christ’s perfect sacrificial death on our behalf and the salvation He brings.

Like the Israelites, we must also look to a lamb—the Lamb of God (John 1:29). When we receive Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, we are forgiven forever.

The Cross: Grace Displayed

Because Jesus died, we gain abundant life, unconditional love, and a relationship with our heavenly Father.

Romans 3:21-27

At Calvary, God displayed His grace for the entire world. The cross represents the intersection of His holiness and His love.

Our holy God is without fault—so “perfectly perfect” that no man or woman can look upon Him and live (Exodus 33:20). We, however, are sinners. We were all born with a sin nature, which left us separated from God.

It’s important to understand that the Lord hates sin because it harms the ones He loves. Remember that God is love (1 John 4:8)—He created us to have a relationship with Him and desires that all people spend eternity with Him (2 Peter 3:9). Yet there remains the problem of our sin.

The Lord will not violate His own nature and compromise His holiness. Prompted by His own great love, therefore, He made a way to have a relationship with us: He put the sin of all mankind on Jesus Christ’s shoulders.

The Father sent His holy Son to be a perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Jesus Christ took our sin upon Himself and died on the cross in our place. When we trust Him as our Savior and receive His forgiveness, we are made new—holy, perfect, and welcome in our Father’s presence.

Greatness for God’s Glory

The blessings God sends into your life are best enjoyed in service to Him.

2 Samuel 7:18-29

Scripture calls David a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Despite some horrendous failures, he lived a life of greatness. Unlike many others who are raised to positions of power and prestige, David understood that his prominence was not for his own gain but for God’s glory. He knew inherently what Jesus would later teach: “The greatest of you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12).

In today’s passage, David refers to himself as the Lord’s servant and promises that all blessings he receives will be used to honor God’s name. He is conscious of the fact that gifts are bestowed on him and his descendants so the Lord ultimately receives praise.

When we humble ourselves under the divine hand of blessing in this way, God’s glory is made plain to those around us. No matter how humble or high our position in life is by the world’s standards, we must always remember that every good thing we have is from God and for Him (James 1:17). When our heart maintains a posture of thanksgiving and service to our Father, we can become truly great for His sake.

Called By God

Are you willing to follow God wherever He leads?

Romans 1:1-7

Three times in today’s passage, the apostle Paul uses the word called—once to describe himself as an apostle and twice to describe the believers in the church at Rome. In all three cases, he uses the same Greek term—klétos—which means “invited, called, or summoned by God.”

But what does it actually mean to be “called,” and is it something we can expect to happen today? The answer is yes, absolutely! God calls us, His children, in multiple ways and for multiple reasons. For instance, we are …

Called to Salvation—Sin created a barrier between us and God, so He reached out to establish a relationship with us by offering salvation through Christ (Ephesians 2:5-9).

Called to Sanctification—Once we have accepted Jesus as Savior, He calls us to strive for sanctification (or holiness). Our life’s goal is to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16). What our Father expects is not immediate perfection but that we seek Him daily for guidance.

Called to Service—God has chosen to carry out His plans through those who are saved. Our task is to serve Him by walking “in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” and accomplishing what He’s planned for us (Ephesians 4:1).

Listening With Humility

Wise people pause to consider advice from others; the foolish ignore warnings of danger ahead.

1 Samuel 25:32-35

Let’s return to yesterday’s scene. When David saw Abigail kneeling in the road, he could have ordered her out of his path. After all, he was powerful. He had been anointed to be the king of Israel and had an entire army behind him. Nothing obligated him to stop and hear what Abigail had to say—but thankfully, he did.

Have you ever been barreling toward a huge mistake, only to hear someone caution you? Did you consider what the person was saying? And would you say things turned out better as a result? Or perhaps the opposite has been the case and you ignored wise advice—if so, it’s highly likely you learned a great deal from that experience!

Abigail’s words were wise and persuasive, and David prudently chose to listen with humility. His decision to heed the woman’s pleas diverted him from a course that would have tainted his future rule.

If you’re facing a decision today, God doesn’t expect you to figure it out on your own. Maybe the Holy Spirit is providing counsel (John 14:26), or it might be that God has sent someone to advise you. Who is the Abigail in your path? May you have the wisdom to listen to those God has placed in front of you.

Learning to Pause

When anger flares, stop to ask for God’s wisdom.

1 Samuel 25:20-35

How do you respond when someone mistreats you? Are you quick to judge that person, cataloging all the reasons you didn’t deserve to be treated so unfairly? That was David’s initial response when the fair treatment he expected was denied.

David, while still on the run from Saul, sent men from his army to request provisions from Nabal, a rich man in the area. David felt sure Nabal would look favorably on him and meet the needs of his army. Not only would that have been customary, but David had also earned the favor by protecting Nabal’s flocks. Yet the request, though reasonable, was scornfully rejected.

When we feel spurned, mistreated, or unappreciated, it can cause us to respond in a way that only makes the situation worse. In David’s case, his anger flared and he set out for revenge. But before he and his 400 warriors could make it to their destination, Nabal’s wife Abigail intercepted them, falling on her face to apologize for her husband’s behavior and to reason with David.

In that moment, David had a choice to make. He could either charge right past her, fueled by his own rage and need for justice, or he could pause (James 1:19). God gave him the wisdom to make the better choice. The next time anger erupts in your heart, will you follow David’s example and stop to listen to wisdom?

Will God Really Dwell on Earth?

The One who created all of heaven and earth chooses to be where we are—so we can know Him better.

2 Chronicles 6:18-21

The dream was a long time coming. But years after Solomon began its construction, God’s temple was finished. This magnificent structure was more than a building. It was the centerpiece of Israel’s identity—the place where the people would meet with God. There, He could live among them in a tangible way, in a place built to His specifications and befitting His glory.

In today’s passage, we can hear hope and longing in Solomon’s prayer of dedication: God, will You keep Your promises to our ancestors, to us, and to our children? The highest heavens can’t contain You—and yet, is it possible You will dwell here among us?

In some ways, this is our age-old question. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve communed with God. In the wilderness, as the liberated slaves journeyed to the Promised Land, they erected a tabernacle, a dwelling place for God among their own tents. In Jesus, we believe God came in the flesh to live—to “tabernacle”—with us. And in Revelation, God makes the incredible pronouncement that His dwelling will be with mankind forever (Revelation 21:3).

This hope may seem unbelievable, but God’s Word is true and unshakeable—a cause for joy. For now “we know in part,” but a perfect day will come when we will be united with our Lord and “know fully,” as we have been “fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:9; 1 Corinthians 13:12).

When God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways

A humble and trusting heart allows us to accept rather than resist God’s will.

1 Chronicles 17:1-15

How do you respond when God says no? What if you requested something good—or even godly—and God doesn’t merely withhold but says, “No, I’m giving this good thing to someone else”?

David built a kingdom and then erected a palace for himself. It was evident (to him) that the next thing to construct was a temple for God. Why should he, a mere man, live in luxury while the Lord had nothing more than the old tabernacle tent? It was such an obvious next step, in fact, that the prophet Nathan didn’t even inquire of the Lord. He told David to go right ahead. “Do whatever is in your heart,” he said, “for God is with you” (1 Chron. 17:2).

But God said no. That night, the Lord met Nathan in a vision and gave him the unenviable task of telling the king—one of the most powerful men in the known world—that he could not pursue this task. Rather, his son Solomon would be the one to do it (1 Chronicles 28:6).

David wasn’t a perfect man by any means, but his response to this news demonstrates faith and the ability to surrender to God’s will. Instead of resisting, David came before God with thanksgiving, worship, and awe—and blessed His name. David found contentment and gave praise for all the Lord had done for him. May his example be one that comes to mind when we face delays and disappointments.

Embracing Change

Letting go of what is known can be difficult, but where God leads, blessing follows.

Acts 11:1-18

Today’s passage describes what happened when Peter reported back to Jerusalem about his visit with Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48). Some Jewish believers didn’t like what they heard and “took issue with him” (11:2). So Peter explained to the fledgling Christian community what God had expressed to him through a vision.

We can learn something important from the people’s response to Peter’s story. His experience required them to reevaluate their assumptions about God’s work in the world. Thankfully, instead of stubbornly sticking to their wrong beliefs about salvation, they listened and “quieted down.” Then they concluded, “Well then, God has also granted to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life” (v. 18).

Sometimes what God is doing presses against things we hold dear. In those moments, we have a choice. We can reject the present for the past, which some Jews did—they refused to let go of the old way, even though the gospel pointed to something new. A second option is to ignore the past and press ahead as we like.

Life in the kingdom, however, offers a third way: Receive God’s Word, reflect quietly, and respond in grace. Peter’s audience did just that—making that new world their home instead of clinging to what had come before.