January 14, 2021
Please read 1 Samuel 3:1 – 20 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
Servants listen for their masters so they may do their bidding. We in the church are servants of God and each other, as well as those we minister to. We are voluntary servants not slaves because Jesus has taught us that to serve is the better way. And so we listen.
We listen to God primarily, for the Lord speaks to us and tells us what to do. We listen for God who speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, directly, through others, and through Scripture. Eli taught Samuel that it was the Lord who called his name in the night and that he should respond by saying, “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.” (NLT)
When the Lord calls your name, answer with those same words and you will hear, for servants listen. Amen.
Please read John 1:43 – 51 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today.
In verse 36, John the Baptist told Andrew (the brother of Peter) and one other disciple about Jesus. He said, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (NLT)
Those disciples left John and follow Jesus. Later, Andrew told Peter, “We have found the Messiah.” (NLT)
Jesus called Philip who went and told Nathanael who called Jesus, the Son of God. Who told you about Jesus? A Sunday school teacher? A friend? Your parents?
Every one of us who knows Jesus was told about Him by someone, because that person wanted us to know the Lord and be saved from sin. Jesus is the only way to be saved from sin and people need to know Him so they won’t perish.
Even if we can’t remember who told us, we need to pass it on and give as many people as possible the chance to hear the Good News. Tell people about Jesus. Amen.
Please read Psalm 139 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
When we read this Psalm, do we ever really think about what it says? The first sentence ought to really catch our attention: “O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.” (NLT)
God knows our wants, likes and dislikes. That is scary. When I think about some of the hateful attitudes I have had over the years, it’s a wonder that guilt doesn’t destroy me. Read verse 4. “You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” (NLT)
Oh yeah. All the times I’ve cussed other drivers in traffic, all the things I thought but did not say – God knows those words, too. No wonder David ended the Psalm with this prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything that offends You and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (NLT)
In other words, “help us come clean with You, O God, that we may live right.” What does God know? God knows everything. Amen.
Please read 1 Samuel 3 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
This chapter describes the call of Samuel. His mother, Hannah, had been unable to conceive for years until she poured out her heart to God at the tabernacle for the Lord to give her a son whom, in turn, she would give to the Lord. And so the Lord gave her Samuel, and at the right time, Hannah gave Samuel to Eli, the chief priest and Samuel lived and worked in the tabernacle helping Eli.
But Samuel did not yet know the Lord, because the Lord had not yet spoken to him. In fact, the Lord had not spoken to anyone hardly at all, except to warn Eli about his sons. One night, God called Samuel and the boy did not recognize God’s voice. Although he didn’t know God, God knew him. That’s the way it is with all of us. God knows us, even if we don’t know God.
In Psalm 139, King David described God’s intimate knowledge of each and every one of us. Jesus confirmed what David wrote in Matthew 10:30 saying, “the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” (NLT)
So, yes, God knows us, and He who knows us wants us to know Him. Can’t you hear God calling you?
Please read Psalm 29. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
The opening verses of this psalm tells us to honor the Lord our God and the rest of the Psalm gives us powerful reasons why we should. I always think back to Genesis 1 and the creation story, about how God brought everything into existence with a few well-chosen (He is God!) “let there be” thises and “let there be” thats. That’s enough of a testimony to God’s power for me.
But the psalmist adds to the majesty of God with some of his own illustrations such as, “The voice of the Lord: echoes… thunders… is powerful… splits the mighty cedars… shatters the cedars… makes mountains skip… leap…” and “makes the desert quake.” (NLT)
Whew! Is this a fearsome, powerful God, or what? Yes! It’s humbling, very humbling! It’s so humbling that people ask me about the hurricanes, forest fires, and the pandemic if they are acts of God punishing the United States for turning our backs on God. Think about that for a second. Does that make you feel humble? It should. These could be signs that God is growing impatient with our bad behavior. Like any parent, God will scold people when they sin against Him. Just look at ancient Israel’s history.
There’s also a flipside to this lesson: God can use that same power for our benefit – and has. The primary example is Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Son, whom God gave “so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
That is also an illustration of God’s power, that God’s only Son frees us from sin by His death and resurrection. If God can do all of that, and loves us so much, isn’t it reassuring to have that powerful Lord on your side?
All anyone need do is believe it, and salvation is theirs. God has the power to do all of that, and God wants us to believe. He is waiting for your answer. What will it be?
Please read Mark 1:9 – 11 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
Jesus, the Son of God, at age 30 left His home and family and business in Nazareth to be baptized by His cousin, John, in the Jordan River – but not for the same reason everyone else was being baptized. Jesus was not baptized for the repentance of sin (verse 4) because He had never sinned. Jesus is the holy, sinless, Son of God.
When Jesus came up out of the water, heaven “split open and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove on Him. And a voice came from heaven saying, ‘You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with You.’” (NLT)
Jesus was baptized to identify with the people, to submit to God’s authority and will and turn away from “ordinary life” into the ministry of seeking and saving the lost and also to suffer, be rejected, die and be raised on the third day.
When you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you are changed into a person who can now live the sinless life and you receive the Holy Spirit. When you are baptized, you are given a new identity, and are incorporated into the church. With that new identity comes gifts of the spirit and purpose, a purpose from God for you.
Jesus did not necessarily change – He was already perfect and sinless – but he did make a change from being a carpenter to the coming of the Messiah, and so God proclaimed His love for Jesus and His identity in God as the Son.
What is God’s proclamation of you?
Please read Mark 1:4 – 8 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
John the Baptist led a great spiritual revival in ancient Judea as he prepared the way for “Someone… who is far greater than I am.” (NLT)
John preached that people should turn away from their evil ways and be baptized for the repentance of their sins. He did not yet know the name of Jesus, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, John knew that Jesus would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit,” rather than water. John’s baptism was for the repentance of sins but when people believed in Jesus, they received the Holy Spirit – after Pentecost – hence the greater baptism. This is still true today.
Therefore, reason Jesus is greater than John is that Jesus is the Son of God, the 2nd person of the holy Trinity is God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. Anyone who believes this is greater than John the Baptist – but that is for a later discussion.
Do you believe in Jesus, the Son of God?
Please read Psalm 8 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
King David answered that question writing: “For You made us a little lower than God, and You crowned us with glory and honor.” (NLT)
We were made in the image of God! Nothing else on that planet can make that claim and, as far as we know, nothing else in the universe can say that. It is an awesome, humbling thing. It is humbling because of the great responsibility implied by being made “a little lower than God.”
The big question is, do we live up to the honor and glory of our Creator in whose image we are made? With great honor comes great responsibility, starting with God’s intent for us. The basic pattern of God’s plan for humanity is to glorify God. If we can do that, we will surely find favor with God.
The best way to start is to believe in God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then listen and pray and God will show you what to do and will tell you who you are.
Are you honoring God?
Please read Ephesians 3:1 – 13 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
The Jews – all of Abraham’s descendants – are God’s Chosen People, set aside to bring the church into existence through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for the salvation of the world from sin. God’s “secret plan,” as Paul calls it, is to include the rest of the world in the church. That is happening.
One day, all Israel will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we will share in the secret plan of God, living in a world of peace free from sin. It’s not “pie in the sky” or wishful thinking, it is foretold in the Bible and will happen, even if all the world does not join. It is voluntary.
Watch and see and in the meantime, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be part of God’s plan. Amen.
Please read Psalm 147 first. May God bless you and strengthen your faith today. Amen.
Rev. Michael E. Williams wrote, “Psalm 147 emphasizes that God’s nature is to give gifts.”* Here are some of the ways God gives as found in this Psalm: “rebuilding Jerusalem… bringing the exiles back… heals the brokenhearted… binding up their wounds… support the humble… brings the wicked down… provides range… feeds the wild animals… revealed His words to Jacob” and to us in the church. (NLT)
God gives gifts of everything we need for life, most of which we take for granted and often feel we are owed. How silly is that! Every good thing we have is a gift of God’s love for us, like this space heater that keeps my feet warm in my basement study, or your morning cup of Joe or tea, for instance.
When you get ready to sing “auld lang syne” tonight, think about all the gifts God has given you this year and how you will use them next year. Amen.
*Disciplines – A Book of Daily Devotions 2020, page 435