Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 20: Job 30-31; Matthew 13:31-58

Hello everyone, I hope your week is going well. Today we read several different parables in the book of Matthew. I have to admit that some of them still confuse me quite a bit.

Here’s the parable I decided to focus on for now:

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew 13:45-46).

Interesting, isn’t it? Matthew Henry’s commentary on this portion of scripture is quite intriguing*. He points out that all men live their busy lives looking for “pearls.” These pearls could be admiration, wealth, power or material things. They will stop at nothing to obtain these things.

Is this true or what? Our world is one filled with materialism. Success and power are something people will cheat and steal for. They will do anything to be powerful and rich. Isn’t it sad? I’ve noticed tendencies even in myself to have certain things or even a desire to be known and loved. These are earthly pearls, things we have to be careful of. They may look beautiful right now, but they don’t have any eternal value.

Instead of focusing on these things, Henry says that we, as Christians, need to focus the ultimate pearl, Jesus Christ. He is the very pearl mentioned in this parable.

When our focus is on Christ, earthly pearls don’t seem as important anymore. For the gift he gives us is greater than all the things we could buy or titles we could obtain.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to focus not on earthly wealth and fame, but on things that will matter for eternity.

*Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on Matthew 13." . Blue Letter Bible. 1 Mar 1996. 2009. 31 Jul 2009.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 19: Job 28-29; Matthew 13:1-30

In our reading from Job today, we found the true wisdom is not found in earthly things but in the fear of the Lord. To obtain wisdom, we are told that we need to “forsake evil” (Job 28:28). This is easier said then done. We live in a world in which the line between black and white issues can be very grey. Even amongst Christians, some may condone certain things, while others may shun that same thing. It all comes down to living our daily life for the Lord, and meditating on his word. We can’t judge the decisions other Christians make around us, but have to focus on living out our own lives for the Lord. We have to stay away from the things we view as wrong, and leave the rest up to God, our ultimate judge. One day, the whole world will be judged for how they lived their lives here on earth. God will determine who was “wheat” and who was only a “weed” living amongst the wheat (See Matthew 13:24-30).

Prayer: Lord, help me to live my daily life completely for you, and not worry about how other Christians live their lives. Give me wisdom as I forsake evil and hunger after you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 18: Job 25-27; Matthew 12:24-50

Hello everyone,

Remember our devotional from yesterday in which we talked about Faith and Works? Well, today that theme continues in the readings from Job and Matthew.

First, consider this passage from Job 27:2-6:

“I vow by the living God, who has taken away my rights, by the Almighty who has embittered my soul—As long as I live, while I have breath from God, my lips will speak no evil, and my tongue will speak no lies. I will never concede that you are right; I will defend my integrity until I die. I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live.”

Now read what Jesus has to say in Matthew 12:33-37:

“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”

It’s interesting how well these two passages fit together, isn’t it? I think there’s really some important things to consider here.

In both Job and Matthew, we find that our actions really do matter. Why? Because our words and actions reveal the state of our hearts. In this modern world, there are many people who are tremendously good at faking Christianity. I have sadly come in contact with some of them. These people know all the “right” answers, but their hearts really aren’t in it. If you watch them long enough, you can begin to tell that it’s not genuine, that they don’t really mean it deep down inside. Their actions will give them away eventually. While they claim to be Christians, they don’t end up living their every moment for Christ.

I don’t want to be a fake. I want to be on fire for Christ. In order to do this, I need to examine my motives and heart every once in awhile. I need to consider the kind of fruit I’m bearing and if this fruit is glorifying God or myself? Tough, I know, but no one ever said living for Christ was easy.

What about you? Where is your heart today? Is your life bearing good fruit?

Prayer: Lord, please help me to bear good fruit in my life, so that I can be the best witness for you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 17: Job 22-24; Matthew 12:1-23

Hello everyone! How has your reading been going? I have to admit that the book of Job is starting to sound a bit repetitive. Just the same, I was able to glean some wonderful insight from today’s passage. It really got me thinking, and forced me to do some deeper searching.

Here’s the portion of scripture I picked out from today’s reading:

“But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned a side. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food” (Job 23: 10-12).

As I read these verses, I was convicted. I found myself asking, what would happen if God judged me today? Could I say that I would come out of that judgment as “pure as gold?” Or would I be slightly tarnished? How would God judge the way I live my daily life? I am assured that I will go to heaven someday, but just the same, all of us will still have a day of judgment. For more on this Final Day of Judgment I encourage you to read Revelation 20:11-15 & Matthew 25:31-36. It’s quite fascinating. On this final Day of Judgment God will look at our lives, everything we did and said, and then separate us into those who are saved and those who are not. The saved will spend eternity in heaven with him; the unsaved will go to a place of unending torment called hell. I know, you’re all squirming in your seats now. Judgment day is one of those topics often avoided in polite conversation, but it’s oh so real just the same.

After reading about the Final Judgment Day, I was encouraged all a new to live my life for the Lord. I was saved by grace, which I’m oh so thankful for. On my own I could never measure up. Now that I have accepted that salvation, I need to live out my daily life for the Lord: “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faiths without works is dead” (James 2:26, HCSV). (For more reading on faith and works, see James 2: 14-26).

Questions: How have you been living for the Lord? Can you say that you have truly “treasured his words more than daily food?”

Prayer: Lord, please help me to always put you first in my life. Show me ways to serve you throughout the day. For I do treasure you more than anything.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 16: Job 20-21; Matthew 11

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Picture a little girl, trying to bake a cake. She combines the ingredients in a mixing bowl, but doesn’t realize that she added 4 cups of salt instead of sugar. Her mother sees the mistake and tries to help, but the stubborn little girl demands she can do this on her own. In the end, the cake is a disaster and the little girl is a puddle of tears. Lots of time, energy, and baking ingredients were lost because of the little girl’s stubbornness. Isn’t that true of life as well?

As independent men and women, we want to learn on our own terms, in our own time. Certain situations would have been resolved long ago, if we had just listened to what God was trying to teach us. Instead, we take twice as long to come to that conclusion, and waste a bunch of time, energy and resources in the process.

In these verses above, Jesus is telling us to give over the reigns of our life and let him take control. He is ready and willing to “teach” us, if only we’d let him. And really, in the end, it’s so much better doing things God’s way. It may be hard to learn the lesson, but there’s no better place than having him in control.

Today, I need a Savior to take back the reigns of my life. I need to rest in him, with the assurance that he is in control, and he will teach me how to get through this next chapter of life.
What about you?

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being a patient teacher who is always waiting for me to listen and lean on you for strength.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 15: Job 17-19; Matthew 10:21-42

I love the words of our friend Job here in Job 19:25-27: “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” What words of faith! Job testifies to the fact that the Lord is his Redeemer. It doesn’t matter what his friends say, for his eyes are fixed on God and eternity.

In the New Testament this very Redeemer, Jesus, reminds us to no be afraid, for “those who want to kill your body… cannot touch your soul” (Matthew 10:28). He is our Redeemer, and he will rescue us. As Christians, we will live eternally in heaven with him, so we really have nothing to fear.

Isn’t this a wonderful reminder? We have nothing to fear in this world, for God has been and will always be in control. Job understood this fact so very long ago. He did not put to much stock in the people or things of this earth, but instead focused on God, his Redeemer. I’m reminded of the words of a wonderful song sung by Nichole C. Mullen called “Redeemer.” The chorus of the song says, “Well I know my Redeemer lives/ I know my Redeemer lives:/ Let all creations testify/ Let this, life within me cry/ I know my Redeemer lives.”

Prayer: Lord, thank you for this reminder to not fear earthly things, but to continually put my trust in you, my Redeemer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 14: Job 14-16; Matthew 10:1-20

I feel so bad for Job. The chapters we read today further the gap of understanding between him and his friends. His friends still think he’s a fake, but Job knows his own heart. He knows he’s right with God. And so he longs for a mediator: someone who could be in direct contact with God and address his concerns:

“Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high. My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God. I need someone to mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends. For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return” (Job 16:19-22).

In the New Testament the early Christians receive this very mediator, the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26 says, “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words”

This was the very place Job was in. He was so confused and in so much pain. He wanted someone who would understand him. He needed to express what he was feeling to God.

I’m so thankful that we, as Christians, have the gift of the Holy Spirit today. For sometimes, when we’re in pain, there really aren’t any words. But we can still feel a special comfort from God, knowing that he hears our cries and will see us through to the other side.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for knowing my every thought. Please be the Protector and Shelter I need so very much today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 13: Job 11-13; Matthew 9:18-38

In today’s reading from Matthew we see some beautiful stories of Jesus healing those in need. There’s a woman who had been bleeding for twenty years, and young girl who had died, two blind men, and a demon possessed man. These people serve as a wonderful reminder of God as our healer and provider.

The Lord provides for his people. Just as the Lord provided for Abraham in the wilderness by giving him a substitute sacrifice in place of his son Isaac (Genesis 22:13-14), he provides for each of us as well. He knows the needs that need to be meant in our lives. Perhaps this is a miraculous healing, as shown in Matthew 9, or perhaps it’s a need for monetary provision, or a roof over ones head.
I know for me, today, it’s a need for peace about the future. Instead of worrying about tomorrow, I need a reminder from the Lord that he is in control of it all. He can handle the future and all it entails.

Thank you for the reminder that you are a God who provides. You are in control of the future, so I lay it in your hands.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 12: Job 8-10; Matthew 9:1-17

Why do bad things happen to good people?

For thousands of years, people have asked this question… without really being able to explain the answer. It is one of those questions of life that only God knows the answer to. Some people believe that in order for something bad to happen, that there has to be some sort of sin involved. These people believe that when that person repents, the punishment from God will be lifted.

Instead of being encouraging friends, these two friends berate Job, thinking that his “good man persona” has been just that, a persona. Since Job has lost everything he once owned, they are convinced that there is some sort of sin in Job’s life. Job disagrees. Commentator Matthew Henry believes this to be the main point of dispute between Job and his friends. While Job’s friends believed that “those who are righteous and good always prosper in this world, and none by the wicked are in misery and distress,” Job says that it is a “common thing for the wicked to prosper and the righteous to be great afflicted.”*

I happen to agree with Job on this. Bad things often happen to good people for no apparent reason. While we live in this world, we will experience hardship, sickness and distress. Perhaps sin is attached to sickness at times, but I do think it would be a mistake to look at our suffering brother or sister and assume that their sickness is punishment for some sin. God is the judge, not us. He holds the world in his hands.
Perhaps, like Job, some of the trials we face in this life are tests from the devil, to prove if we really will praise God through good times and bad. If that’s so, then I want to sing and worship my Lord all the louder.

Questions: Have you ever experienced trails that pulled you closer to the Lord?
What was that experience like? Do you want to react similarly or differently to future situations.

Prayer: Lord, help me to stay true to you in good times and bad. Use each circumstance in this life to draw me closer to you. Even if a situation was meant for evil, bring some good out of it.

*Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on Job 9." Blue Letter Bible. 1 Mar 1996. 2009. 21 Jul 2009.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 11: Job 5-7; Matthew 8:18-34

This past weekend my husband and I had a wonderful time camping in the woods. There were no cell phones, no televisions, no Internet, and no running water… and I loved every second of it! Our campsite felt secluded from the rest of the world. As I rinsed out a jar in the stream, I couldn’t help but think about the first settlers in the New World and how they, too, may have used this same stream for washing. What a simple life they lead then. Without modern conveniences, their lives revolved around friends, family and hard work. How I wish for a simpler time such as that!

In Matthew 8, Jesus tells his disciples to leave everything behind and follow him. He reminds them that the kingdom of God is far more important than things. He wants obedience from his disciples, and that obedience takes sacrifice. One of the disciples couldn’t even go home to bury his father, he had to chose to follow Christ instead. While this may seem rather harsh, I think the point Jesus was making was that we all have to choose. Are we following Christ or not? Are we willing to do whatever he asks of us or not?

Today I don’t feel as if God is asking me to leave my house, clothes, books and music behind, but perhaps he is asking me to prioritize and think about what’s really important in life.

After a weekend of camping, I’m looking at the world around me in a whole new light. All of the “things” I own really aren’t that important. I survived a camping adventure without all of these “necessities” of modern life. My husband, my family, and my friends are what matter to me. And so, maybe I need to invest more time into them, and less time into superficial things.

What about you? What is the most important thing to you in this life? And how can you re-prioritize things to make that the center?

Prayer: Lord, thank you for this reminder about the things that are really important in this life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 10: Job 3-4; Matthew 8:1-17

The book of Job is a great example of how to grieve correctly, and how to be a friend to those who grieve. In modern society we try to be so strong and in control of every situation. In Job 3 a devout man of God shows us that it really is ok to be human. Job has just been through a horrible ordeal. He lost his children, his livestock, his servants and his good health: he has a right to grieve.

Job shows us that there is nothing wrong with questioning the circumstances, and wishing we didn’t live in such a sinful world: “Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child, like a baby who never lives to see the light? For in death the wicked cause no trouble, and the weary are at rest” (Job 3:16-17).

Job is questioning the calamity that has befallen him, but he never curses God. This is the significant point that his friends seem to miss. Job doesn’t understand the ways of God, so he’s allowed to be confused.

According to commentator Matthew Henry, Job’s friend Eliphaz “charges him with weakness and faint-heartedness”* for how Job is now acting. He sees Job’s actions as a hypocritical breech of character. In Job 4:3-6 Eliphaz says to Job,

“In the past you have encouraged many people; you have strengthened those who were weak. Your words have supported those who were falling; you encouraged those with shaky knees. But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart. You are terrified when it touches you. Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence? Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?”

We’ll see in later passages that Job hasn’t lost reverence or hope in God, as his friends seem to think. At the moment, he is just grieving, but he will still continue to worship God in spite of it all.

How do you react in times of grief? How do you respond to what life hands you? What kind of friend are you to others who grieve?

Prayer: Lord, please help me to learn from the story of Job, and to always stay true to you, even as I grieve in the hard times. Help me also to be an encouraging friend to those in need.

*Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on Job 4." . Blue Letter Bible. 1 Mar 1996. 2009. 17 Jul 2009.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 9: Job 1-2; Matthew 7

In Matthew 7, Jesus talks about a wise man (or woman) that built his house upon the rock. He compares this wise man to people who listen to His word. The application is easy to understand here. Though we will face trials and storms in this life, if our foundation is built upon the word of God we will make it through to the other side.

Consider Job. He grieved the loss of all the things in his life, but he never sinned against God. In fact, he worships God in his time of grief saying, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21).

The foundation of Job’s life was built upon God, so he did not waver even when everything was taken away from him. Yes, he questioned the ways of God, but he always believed that God’s ways were greater than his ways.

Job’s story is always a difficult one to read, because I have no clue as to how I would react to a similar situation. What would I do if my possessions, family, and good health disappeared? Would I still praise God? What about you? How do you think you would react?

Prayer: Lord, please help me to build my life on a firm foundation, you, so that I can face whatever trials this life will bring.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 8: Genesis 20-22 ; Matthew 6:19-34

Wow, what great readings for today. Both portions of scripture are well known to me, so I’ve been going back and forth on what to actually blog about.

I think both Genesis 20-22 & Matthew 6:29-34 are a call to faith. In the book of Genesis we see Abraham both worry & trust that God will be faithful. In chapter 20 Abraham once again lies about Sarah only being his sister, and not his wife. While this was only a tiny white lie, since Sarah was in fact his half-sister, it still shows a lack of trust on Abraham’s behalf. He saw what looked like a bleak future and decided to take matters into his own hands. In the same token, chapter 22 shows a great leap of faith on Abraham’s behalf. He believes that God will provide a substitute sacrifice in the place of his son, Isaac. What faith! Isn’t it interesting that God gives us two such juxtaposing sides of Abraham? He shows both extreme weakness and strength.

In Matthew 6:19-34 we again look at faith. Jesus tells us to not worry, but to trust God with the big and small things in life. Consider verses 31-33:

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Just as God meant Abraham in the wilderness and provided an alternate sacrifice, he already knows the provisions each of us need in our every day lives. All we need to do is live our lives entirely for him; he will do the rest.

Prayer: Lord thank you for this reminder to not worry, but to instead trust you in things big and small.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 7: Genesis 18-19; Matthew 6:1-18

The Lord’s Prayer is something I can recite without even thinking about it. Anyone else in that boat? That’s what happens with things that I’ve heard since I was born. They become routine. Today, as I was reading the words of The Lord’s Prayer, they jumped off the page. Is that what it really says? I wondered…. The words seemed to light up as I read through them. (And no that lighting up was not the mouse on my keyboard running over the words).

In particular, Matthew 6:11 spoke to me. This part of the prayer reads, “Give us today our daily bread.” It seems like such an essential verse. You may be thinking: “Of course God will give us what we need to eat every day. It’s a given for Christians.”

But do we actually thank him when that bread does appear?

I think today I need a does of thankfulness about the small things. I really need to thank God for the bags of groceries I just bought home from the store. The only reason they’re in the fridge right now is because God has blessed us with the money to buy that food. Not everyone is as fortunate.

Prayer: So Lord, Thank you for the daily bread you’ve given me today. And thank you for this insight into your word.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 6: Genesis 16, 17; Matthew 5:27-48

“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, 'You are the God who sees me.' She also said, 'Have I truly seen the One who sees me?' So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means 'well of the Living One who sees me'.” -Genesis 16:13-14

Hagar refers to the Lord here as El-roi: The God who sees. God saw the needs of a lonely servant girl who ran away to the wilderness, and he meant her where she was.

What an honor to be visited by an angel. And what a great reminder of how God sees our every need, nothing escapes his all-knowing nature. He comes to us where we are, in each moment of the day.

Our God is Creator, Redeeming, All Powerful, All Knowing and All Seeing. What part of God’s nature do you need to cling to the most today? He is more than willing to meet you where you are.

Thank you Lord for meeting me where I am today, and for knowing my every thought even before I speak it aloud.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day 5: Genesis 13-15 & Matthew 5:1-26

I love hearing about Melchizedek, the Priest King. Did you know that he is the only man to be a king & priest? After Abram heroically saves his nephew lot in Genesis 14, Melchizedek comes to break bread & drink wine with Abram. He blesses him for his good deeds, but blesses God the Father most of all. The book of Hebrews explores this unique Priest King. Nothing is said of Melchizedek’s origin. Instead, “He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God” (Hebrews 7:3).

I encourage you to read all of Hebrews 7 when you get the chance. It’s quite fascinating. In particular, Hebrews 7:4-7 says,

“Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle. Now the law of Moses required that the priests, who are descendants of Levi, must collect a tithe from the rest of the people of Israel, who are also descendants of Abraham. But Melchizedek, who was not a descendant of Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God. And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed.”

Melchizedek was not even a Levitical priest, yet Abraham understood how unique he was. He is an Old Testament image of the role Jesus Christ would one day fulfill. How so? Jesus is a priest, who offered up his body as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Because of this sacrifice we can spend eternity in heaven.

Jesus is also the King of All Kings. He justly rules over all the world. While he was living in this world, he taught us using his kingly knowledge. In Matthew 5, he encourages attributes such as humility, purity and mercy. These are the sort of attributes that will help us share the love of God with those around us.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being our Priest and King. Help me to live every day for you.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 4: Genesis 10-12 & Matthew 4

Hello everyone! Here’s the portion of scripture that stuck out to me today:

“‘The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed” –Genesis 12:1-4

This is the beginning of Abraham’s story, and what an amazing story it is! In leaving his home and family, Abraham understood that he would never see these people and places again. How tough.

I don’t know what I would do if I was told that I would never see my family again. I may live a thousand miles away from them, but I talk to them regularly and manage to see them several times a year. Abraham was saying good-bye for a lifetime.

I have to admire his faith. No, Abraham was not a perfect man. We need some of that imperfection in Genesis 12, when he lies out of fear and says Sarah is his sister instead of his wife. But here in Genesis 11, we have to admire Abraham, at least a bit. We have to admire him for heading off into an unknown world, holding onto a promise that God would go with him and bless the nations through him. It must have been difficult to truly fathom what that promise even meant. Abraham didn’t have any children, so how could God possibly bless the world through him? To some, the promise might seem like an over-exaggeration. God might bless a person or two, but bless everyone on the earth, come-on! Believe it or not, God’s words were true. He did bless the entire earth through Abraham. One of his decedents would be Jesus Christ, who would die on the cross for our sins.

Prayer: Lord, please open my heart & ears so that I can hear any words of direction from you. Help me to be like Abraham, unafraid to go wherever you may leave me in this life.

Questions: What struck you from today's readings? Is there anything you want to research more fully? If so, check out

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 3: Genesis 7-9, Matthew 3

Day 3 brings us to the story of the flood and to the baptism of Jesus. Isn’t it interesting that both sections of scripture talk about water? The great flood’s purpose was to cleanse the world of its evilness. God saw the world as being so evil, that he decided to start anew. In Matthew, baptism is an outward acknowledgment of an inward change of heart. In becoming baptized, Jesus is indicating that he is reading to publicly do the work of his Lord.

Consider what John the Baptist says in Matthew 3:11: “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”∗

As Christians we participate in water baptism to this day. For me, it was a serious commitment of faith, where I told my church what I believed and asked them to pray for me in the coming years. John is saying in this portion of scripture that Jesus gives a whole different type of baptism. But what does being baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire mean?

To find this out, I turned to Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Matthew 3. Henry writes,

It is Christ’s prerogative to baptize with the Holy Ghost. This he did in the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit conferred upon the apostles, to which Christ himself applies these words of John, [in] Acts 1:5. This he does in the graces and comforts of the Spirit given to them that ask him, [consider] Luke 11:13; John. 7:38, 39; Acts 11:16.
They who are baptized with the Holy Ghost are baptized as with fire; the seven spirits of God appear as seven lamps of fire, [see] Revelation 4:5. Is fire enlightening? So the Spirit is a Spirit of illumination. Is it warming? And do not their hearts burn within them? Is it consuming? And does not the Spirit of judgment, as a Spirit of burning, consume the dross of their corruptions? Does fire make all it seizes like itself? And does it move upwards? So does the Spirit make the soul holy like itself, and its tendency is heaven-ward. Christ says I am come to send fire, Luke 12:49.∗∗

The Holy Spirit baptizes us with a fire that cleanses our souls. It is a pour within us that enlightens, illuminates, and convicts us. It is very much like a fire in the way it consumes our lives. Through dying on the cross, Jesus was able to give this great gift of the Holy Spirit to us. It is a gift for believers alone, people who have admitted that they are in need of a saving grace. And what a wondrous gift it is!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for consuming my life. Please enlighten me to needs in the world around me and consume me with your love today.

Questions: What does the image of the Holy Spirit as a consuming fire mean to you? Did Matthew Henry’s commentary on Matthew 3:11 make sense to you, or did it just confuse you? What questions do you still have, and how will find those answers?

∗Quoted scripture is from the New Living Translation, unless otherwise indicated.

∗∗Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on Matthew 3." Blue Letter Bible. 1 Mar 1996. 2009. 9 Jul 2009.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 2: Genesis 4,5, 5 & Matthew 2

After the reading yesterday I started thinking about the interesting correlations between Genesis and Matthew: the beginning of the Old & New Testaments.

In Genesis we read of the fall of man and the entrance of sin into human life. In Matthew we read of the entrance of a man who will be the redemption of sins.

Adam and Eve made a decision and changed the course of history. Ever since that day, God planned for atonement. In the Old Testament the Israelites sacrificed animals to cover their sins. In the New Testament, one man would sacrifice himself for the redemption of all mankind. This sacrifice would cover every sin Adam & Eve ever committed, and every person since. All we have to do is accept the great gift of redemption God offers us. He’s provided the way we just have to let him into our lives.

Out of the verses I read today, Genesis 4:9 spoke to me the most. In this verse Noah is introduced as a “righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” Oh that such a definition could be given of me! I know from reading Genesis that Noah was not a perfect man. He made some mistakes, but he was someone who walked with God. What does walking with God mean? I think it means that Noah looked toward God for strength and support; he worshiped God with all that was within him; from the moment he woke up to the moment he lay his head down at night, he was living his life for God. Out of an entire world of people, Noah was the only one seen as worthy of saving. He was the only one left worshiping God. I wonder: would I be the same? Would I still worship God if I were the last person doing so? I’m sure Noah faced criticism for his behavior; he may have been viewed as “weird” and “un-cool,” yet he followed God. And so God gave him a daunting task, collecting two of every kind of animal into a handmade ark, and saved his family from certain death. What an honor!

Prayer: Lord, help me to be more like Noah, who “walked with you” on a daily basis. Show me ways to strengthen my relationship with you.

Questions: What do you think would have been the toughest thing about Noah’s task? Building the ark? The rebuke of others? Believing that a flood would actually cover the world?

What lesson can you take to heart from the story of Noah? What does God want to teach you today?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A New Attempt to read the Bible in a Year: Genesis 1,2,3 & Matthew 1

I was recently inspired to attempt to read the Bible in a year. I have started this process many times in my life. I don’t have adequate excuses as to why I never accomplished it. I have no explanation why I never read the Bible cover to cover in my twenty years of walking with God.

One thing I want to make sure about this new goal is that what I read sinks in. I don’t want to be reading it just to “get through” my reading for each day. I really do want some revelations to come from this study. Over the course of my life I’m sure I have read most of the Bible, but I’m praying that with this study it becomes new all over again.

My goal is to blog everyday about what I’m learning through the readings. I’m sure I won’t be perfect in this goal, but I believe that it will help me overall.

I’ve chosen a Bible in a Year plan by HEARTLIGHT® Internet Magazine - Each day has a portion of scripture from the Old and New Testament. For the most part, this reading plan goes straight through each book of the Bible. I like this because I want to keep things in context. I don’t want my reading for each day to be so random that I lose the context of each passage of scripture.

The reading for today comes from Genesis 1, 2, 3 and Matthew 1.

In Genesis 1, I was once again in awe of our God who has existed since the beginning of time. It’s so past my comprehension. He has always been there. For me, my life began with my first breath. For God, he has always been around. It was he that created this spectacular earth that I live on. Each and every thing was created by him.

As I read about God creating “light” and separating light from darkness, I started thinking about the wonder of light. Light is something I take so for granted. When I wake up in the morning, I expect the sun to rise…it’s just the natural progression of a day. It’s funny to think of a time that existed without light or darkness.

Not only did God create light and darkness, but he created such beautiful ways for them to begin and end each day. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular things. I remember once, standing on a beach, watching the sun crawl up into the sky. The clouds glowed a beautiful orange color. The air was crisp, the beach quiet. It was a time for me and my God. Together we greeted the day and all the spectacular things in store.

Sometimes I feel insignificant in this big world God has created. Then I am reminded of Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” I am created in the very image of God. How wonderful to be reminded that I do have a purpose: to worship my creator, my God with everything that I am. I can get so caught up looking at my imperfect self. Instead, I need to be looking toward my perfect Creator God who makes no mistakes in his creation. He credited all of his creation as being “good,” so who am I to argue?

God created human beings and determined specific order of life. A husband & wife would come together and conceive children, who would then grow and bring glory to God with their lives and reproduce more offspring. This has been the order of life since Adam and Eve. In the gospel of Matthew we see the one and only exception. In Matthew 1:20 an angel appears to Joseph and says, “Joseph, son of David…do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.”

The Virgin Birth is such a spectacular story, and the only one of it’s kind. Right from the beginning God was showing how significant this birth would be. He could have just had Jesus conceived the normal way… but he chose not too. Since the beginning, he determined that Jesus’ human birth into the world would be a miraculous one. A young, virgin would be the mother of the Christ. It must have been a wondrous thing to watch her belly grow, and contemplate who was living inside, the Savior of the world. Such responsibility was on Mary’s shoulders, but such blessing as well. For she was just an imperfect human being, yet she was chosen to be the mother of the Christ-child.

Questions: What strikes you as amazing about the Creation story in Genesis 1-3? What specific lessons does God have for you here?
What do you find the most appealing in Genesis 1?
How can you apply these lessons to your daily life?

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for creating this wonderful earth we live in. Help me to be thankful for everything in it, big and small. Also, thank you for sending your Son into the world to forgive me of my sins and give me eternal life. Help me to take the lessons I learned today to heart, and to serve you with all that I am.