Wednesday, August 21
Psalm 119:145-176 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. (v.175)
What a remarkable request. How often in our culture and even in our churches do we hear just the opposite: “Let me decide what’s best for me.”
It is a true saying, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Humanity continues wrestling with the temptation in the Garden— “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Since the beginning we’ve wanted to be master of our own destiny; skeptical of God and His love for us. We want to indulge ourselves with things that promise fulfillment, pleasure, or understanding.
God has a better way to live. Culturally it’s not often popular or even seems counter-intuitive. But if we’re willing to trust Him, we will grow in “the knowledge and love of God” and realize that His laws do, indeed, sustain us while the world’s ways lead to destruction.
“May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous” (v.172). Trust Him today in whatever you face.
2 Samuel 18:19-23; Acts 23:23-35; Mark 12:13-27
Thursday, August 22
Psalm 132 Lordremember David and all his self-denial. (v.1)
The word “remember” has an important role throughout the Old Testament. Often, it’s directed toward God’s people. They are exhorted to bring to mind their experiences with Him in order to repent of their sin, be grateful for His blessings, or be spurred to action. Sometimes, as in today’s psalm, the word is directed to God—as if He were capable of forgetting!
Earlier this week we mediated on the covenantal love of God. This loyal affection, promised by word and deed, is unbreakable. Were God to break covenant, He would cease to be God. Asking God to remember is not to suggest that He forgot. He is constantly and continually attentive to His covenant. In the Bible, those who ask God to remember become strengthened in their own faith (i.e. Judges 16:28, 1 Samuel 1:11).
I’ve learned in my walk with Jesus that prayer changes me. By asking God to “remember” we open ourselves up to contemplating His faithfulness and powerful works in our life, become resolved in our reliance on Him, and walk confidently in “knowledge and love.”
2 Samuel 19:1-23; Psalms 131, 133; Acts 24:1-23; Mark 12:28-34
Friday, August 23
Psalm 140 May burning coals fall on them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise. (v.10)
Who can honestly say that this thought hasn’t ever crossed our minds or lips? Whether out of resentment, jealousy, perhaps even zealotry for the Lord, we can be tempted to recite the psalmist’s petition while thinking of others.
Tying in today’s reading from Acts, we see Paul being persecuted. Imprisoned unfairly, he remains under house arrest for over two years by a ruler who anticipates a bribe. While we do not know all that Paul contemplated during this period of captivity, we do know that he used much of the time to share his personal testimony of faith in Jesus Christ to the provincial governor, his wife, and dignitaries.
Perhaps it was during this period of persecution that Paul considered the imprecations of the psalm and was transformed by the Holy Spirit to realize that those same coals on those same heads could present a fragrant offering to the Lord (Romans 12:20).
Rather than spending time concocting tortures for our enemies, pray God’s blessings on them and be liberated! “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
2 Samuel 19:24-43; Psalm 142; Acts 24:24—25:12; Mark 12:35-44
Saturday, August 24
2 Samuel 23:1-7, 13-17 “If my house were not right with God, surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part.”(v.5a)
Have you picked up a theme in our meditations this week? The truth of God’s covenant didn’t just coincidentally appear in our readings—it is a vital component in God’s revelation of Himself and our understanding of Him.
Beginning with Adam, then Noah, Abram, and David, God makes, clarifies, and refines His ultimate promise: To destroy our enemy and to restore us to fellowship with Him. This is all made possible in the finished work of God Himself—Jesus Christ!
In Thursday’s Gospel reading, Jesus boils down the Law: Love God and love your neighbor. Once we are forgiven through the blood of Christ, we are capable of truly loving God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to love others.
Take the time to compare the blessings in Deuteronomy 28 with Psalm 144. This is an awesome truth and one that we must intentionally take hold of each day. Appropriate your birthright. Set fear aside. Live boldly in Christ! Put your house in order, for He has made with you an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part!
Psalms 137, 144; Acts 25:13-27; Mark 13:1-13
Sunday, August 25
John 8:12-20 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(v.12 NIV)
From the physical to the spiritual, the contrast of the light and the dark is striking. In a painting, the stronger the contrast between light and dark, the more interesting the painting becomes. Daily the world cycles between periods of light (daytime) and periods of darkness (nighttime). If you walk into your house at night, you reach for a light source so that you don’t stumble around in the dark. Walking in darkness can result in injury to your body or maybe breakage of items you bump into! Understanding these basic physical concepts of light and dark lays the groundwork for understanding the spiritual concepts of light and darkness.
Jesus is the light of the world. If we are true followers of Jesus, we need never live in spiritual darkness again. He promises us this and he never breaks his promises. The longer we walk with him, the more we begin to grasp the reality of the spiritual contrast. Jesus opens our eyes ever wider as we continue walking, so that we begin to realize how greatly blessed we are to have this light within us. As it says in Psalm 119:105, “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
Thanks be to God for giving us the light of life!
2 Samuel 24:1-2, 10-25; Psalms 146, 147; Galatians 3:23—4:7
Monday, August 26
Acts 26:1-23 “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”(vv.17b-18)
Paul is quoting the words that Jesus spoke to him after his conversion on the Damascus road; this is part of Paul’s defense, spoken to King Agrippa as he pleads for his release from prison. As with each person who shares the gospel on behalf of the Lord Jesus, Paul explains that his job is to open eyes and turn nonbelievers from darkness to the light. That is always the objective: a spiritual awakening to understand that darkness is the domain of Satan, but light is God’s arena.
Paul’s very life illustrates the contrast of light and dark, God and Satan. Blind to the truth for many years, Paul went about persecuting the early believers until one day Jesus blinded him with his brightness and brought about Paul’s conversion. Like Paul, I was blind to the truth of the gospel but, unlike Paul, I never persecuted others for their belief. I went to church fairly regularly, but didn’t want to hear about the need to be born again! I was stumbling in the dark and didn’t even realize it. But the gracious and merciful Father sent some wonderful people into my life, and they literally prayed me into the kingdom.
Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing grace, patience, and love.
1 Kings 1:5-31; Psalms 1, 2, 3; Mark 13:14-27
Tuesday, August 27
Mark 13:28-37 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”(v.31)
I am in my seventies now, and I have had a number of friends and family members pass away. The “passing away” of human life is a given; we all will eventually. Jesus is saying here that at some point in time, heaven and earth as we know it will also pass away. Hard to imagine that, isn’t it?
However, the words of Jesus will neverpass away. They are life and they are eternal. They are the light in the darkness. Isaiah 20:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” In Peter’s first letter, he quotes this very verse from Isaiah. The word of the Lord endures forever, just like his love. Psalm 136 repeats these words no less than 26 times: “His love endures forever.”
When I ponder Jesus saying his words are going to endure forever, I connect this with his love. They are both eternal; they will never end! That is quite a comforting thought, especially in light of the knowledge that my life on this earth will end. Because I have been saved by the grace of God, I know that I will ultimately live forever in Jesus, basking in the light of his words and love.
Thank you, blessed Jesus, that I will always be able to count on you.
1 Kings 1:38—2:4; Psalms 5,6; Acts 26:24—27:8