God Hears

Today’s reading is Luke 1.

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.” Which prayer? When was it offered? The more I think about these questions, the more I consider two possibilities. Both possibilities teach us great lessons about prayer. The first is Zechariah had prayed for so long to have a child it had become a habit. Even at the point when he really no longer thought it was possible, he kept praying. Don’t be so quick to throw Zechariah under the bus if he had made this request so long it had almost become rote. Remember, despite being told no for years and year and years, he was still praying. And though it didn’t happen on Zechariah’s time table, God had heard the praying. Wow! OR (and this is what I think is more likely), Zechariah had prayed and prayed and prayed in the past, but he finally got to the point he believed God had said, “No.” That must have been painful. Though he was no longer praying that particular prayer, he kept faithfully serving the Lord. Now, years later, when the prayer is a distant memory to Zechariah, the angel proclaims, “Your prayer has been heard.” How long had Zechariah waited to hear those words? Long enough that he could hardly believe it or even how it could be fulfilled. Again, it didn’t happen on Zechariah’s time table, but God had heard. Please, don’t misunderstand the point. The lesson from Zechariah is not if you pray, eventually God will do what you ask even if it isn’t on your time table. We have to understand that sometimes the answer is simply, “No.” The lesson is God hears. Our praying is never in vain. When it is for God’s greatest glory and our greatest good, God will respond. Even if it has been years since we’ve actually prayed the prayer, God heard and remembers. Even if we’ve prayed it so long we are struggling with our faith in it, God hears and takes note. I’m so glad you are reading your Bible today, please don’t forget to pray. God hears.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 1.

Continue reading “God Hears”

Discipline is Hard

Today’s reading is Hebrews 12.

I want life to be easy. But where would an easy life lead? If every day were a walk in the park, would I understand how much I need God? Would I figure out how messed up I am in my heart and mind? Enter discipline. Doing whatever I want without facing consequences is fun and easy, but eventually it is destructive. Discipline is hard and painful. I don’t like it. But God puts me through it in the hope of saving my very soul. I often wish there was an easier softer way for me to grow, but I’ve come to realize I’m pretty dense and thick-headed. If God is going to get my attention, He has to get my attention where it hurts. I can cry, whine, moan, rebel, but God’s painful discipline is what trains me and gives me life. Who knew that discipline itself is really the grace of God? Let’s thank God for His discipline today.

Monday’s reading is Hebrews 13.

Continue reading “Discipline is Hard”

Everyone’s Sin but Mine

Today’s reading is Matthew 18.

We live in a day and age where if someone says something sexist, racist, homophobic, or does something that harms animals or the environment, society will rise up through social media and castigate them, belittle them, boycott them, and treat them like societal pariahs. The same society, however, will read Matthew 18:15-20, and declare the God of the Bible is awful, hateful, cruel, and evil. How could a loving God or a loving church ever discipline someone like this? How do both of these things exist at the same time? Because people don’t actually mean they don’t believe a loving God or church would ever behave like this. What they mean is simply this: “How could a loving God or loving church treat someone committing my sins like this?” Can you see the hypocrisy here? Of course, even now, if you’re like me, we’re thinking about all those people “out there” who need to hear this and not examining our own sins. There is no need to be ashamed of God’s plan for disciplining sin within the church, but there is a large need for honesty. Let’s work on that today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 19.

Continue reading “Everyone’s Sin but Mine”

Let the Day of the Lord Govern Today

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 5.

Deliver such a one to Satan? Are you kidding me? That will not look good on us. He might claim we are abusing him. He might sue us. Our neighbors might think we are mean. Society might judge us as harsh and unloving. Yet, between now and the day of the Lord, he might just repent because of this action and on the day of the Lord his spirit will be saved instead of condemned. Not to mention, if the church doesn’t take this action between now and the day of the Lord, he will almost definitely lead others to sin and destruction. No doubt, delivering an impenitent sinner to Satan is painful and fraught with temporal, cultural, societal dangers today. But the Day of the Lord is coming. We need to let the Day of the Lord govern today. And, to be sure, Paul’s application in this chapter is only one of a myriad of arenas in which we need to let the Day of the Lord govern today. I get it, we are living in today, but today will be over in just a few hours. The Day of the Lord will linger forever once it comes. Don’t live for today; live for the Day of the Lord.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 6.

Continue reading “Let the Day of the Lord Govern Today”

Read it For Yourself

Today’s reading is Mark 2.

You couldn’t get what I want to share with you from today’s reading yourself, but it is something I think of every time I read this chapter. Years ago, while still in college, I was studying with members of a false teaching cult who knocked on my door. In the conversation, they claimed that people only got sick because they sinned. If their sins were taken away, they wouldn’t get sick anymore. They mentioned the miracle in this chapter as proof. Jesus forgave the man and he was healed. Honestly, I was stumped. I knew this account was in the Bible and I didn’t know how to respond to their point. To buy some time to think (and I’m sure by the grace of God), I asked them, “Can you show me that one in the Bible?” We turned to the passage. I read it for myself instead of just listening to what they claimed about the passage, and I noticed something. Jesus did forgive the man’s sins, but that didn’t heal him. He wasn’t healed until a few moments later when Jesus wanted to prove that He actually had the power to forgive sins. This is why the daily habit we are developing with this blog is so important. Sure, I hope you get something nice out of what I say. But more importantly, I hope you read God’s Word for yourself. If you haven’t actually read Mark 2 yet, I encourage you to get after it.

Monday’s reading is Mark 3.

Continue reading “Read it For Yourself”

The Joy of Jesus

Today’s reading is Hebrews 12.

Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. Have you ever wondered what joy that was? I guess it is possible it was the joy of being at the right hand of the Father, enthroned in heaven. But isn’t that the place Jesus left to come to earth? Did He have to endure the cross to have that place? We spend so much time looking forward to going to heaven ourselves that we attribute that joy to Jesus, but really that was something He already had. What then is the joy? The joy Jesus was looking forward to was not that He would get to go to heaven if He went to the cross. His joy is that because of the cross WE get to go to heaven. His joy is that we will be there. Wow! What a Savior!

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 13.

Continue reading “The Joy of Jesus”