January 20 – Wisdom and Revelation

“(I) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him..” Ephesians 1:16-17 (NASB)

We can imagine that one of the greatest blessings we might experience in the first century would be the Apostle Paul praying for us. Paul was devoted to prayer just as his Lord Jesus set the example for his apostles. These words by the are from a prayer he wrote and sent to the Christians in Ephesus. Paul says that he did “not cease giving thanks” and it became a habit to pray for the young churches and to keep praying for the believers in all cities. He requested that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in order that they would grow to know God better.  They were believers who knew God but like us all, they needed to continue to know God in a deeper way. This prayer is given to us in the Bible applies to our lives as well if we have believed and come to know God. We too want to know God better. We can each ask God to give us wisdom and revelation and to teach us by His Holy Spirit more and more of God’s great truths for our Christian lives each day.

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January 19 – He Hears Us

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. … He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1, 3 (ESV)

A promise that has eternal truth and never fades is found in our verses for today. About three weeks ago we began with a new page on our calendar. Often by this time the new year has lost its “glow” and we can take some time to think of what we have experienced so far and in our past. Because of that we can look forward to what is ahead of us.  Yes, our experience of God’s love and faithfulness in the past is what encourages us so much to trust Him for the days ahead. We know that He is the one that lifts us up and sets our feet on a solid foundation (v.2). God has been and continues to faithfully keep his promises in the past and we can trust Him to continue doing that. It is important however, that we recognize the necessary times of waiting for Him to respond to our cries as the psalmist says. He’ll keep on hearing our prayers and meeting our needs and giving us a new song to sing. This includes his promise that our testimony will draw others to put their trust in God.

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January 18 – He Will Not…

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 (NASB)

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 (NASB)

So far, how is this year proving to be a new year for you? We look into each the new year not as one more day, week, or month on the calendar but as the starting point in a renewed transition. So it was Israel after more than 40 years wandering about in the Sinai wilderness, it was time for Moses to transition leadership to Joshua. We might still claim this new year with a verse that brings to us a wonderful promise. God promises over and over in His word that He will not fail us, not forsake us, not leave us. We have no reasons to fear or be dismayed. These words are spoken by Moses to Joshua in the presence of the people of Israel about to enter their Promised Land. These words we can take to heart and trust them. We believe that our Lord will be with us each day as we follow Him. He will not leave us or forget us. Let’s be thankful to God for this assurance and for the promises we can trust. As a new year begins, we do not have to be discouraged – even when we are tempted to.  

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January 17 – Believe and Follow

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;” – 1 Thessalonians 1:2 (NASB)

It was about A.D. 51 when the Apostle Paul wrote from Corinth this letter to those believers in Thessalonica. They constituted the church which was founded on Paul’s second mission trip. With Paul was Timothy and Silas, so it is those three that make up the “we.” Paul was a man of prayer and he with his companions prayed frequently for the all those who were in the church. Paul uses a favorite three-fold combination of faith, hope and love. The Thessalonians’ response to the preaching of the gospel in their midst established indisputable proof of their salvation. The evidence of God’s love for the Thessalonian believers was His choice of them unto salvation. From the Greek word translated chosen (eklogēn) comes our English “election.” That God has chosen to bless some individuals with eternal life is clearly taught in many places in both the Bible. Likewise clear, is the fact that God holds each of us personally responsible for our decision to trust or not to trust in Jesus Christ. Verse six affirms their choice as they followed Paul and in his submission to Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

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January 16 – His Mercy Brings Life

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.” – 1 Timothy 1:12-13 (NASB)

Our passage comes from the first letter to Timothy. This letter to Timothy was written after Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment. Paul acknowledges his gratitude to Christ for: a) having imparted strength to him, b) having judged him to be trustworthy and c) having appointed him to the ministry. Paul acclaims the mercy God showed to him. For as a very great sinner Paul was not only saved, but was even considered worthy to be entrusted with the ministry of the apostleship! Before his conversion the apostle had been of the very category of terrible sinners whom he describes as unholy and profane persons (1 Timothy 1:9-10). Yes, the apostle had been a blasphemer (Acts 26:11), ridiculing the name of Christ; he had been a persecutor for his very breath had been a threat of murder (Acts 9:1) making him  nothing less than “a wanton and violent aggressor,” who committed horror and outrage against those who were of “The Way.” Our promise is that God saves the worst of sinners who in faith believe and all are equally in need of salvation. It is by the mercy of God that we receive the faith to believe and receive eternal life. 

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January 15 – Consider Again the Potter

“Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds. But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’” – Jeremiah 18:11-12 (NASB)

Not too many days ago we considered the illustration of the potter which God gave to Jeremiah. From the same passage we learn how the people facing conquest, destruction, and exile respond to the lesson. Warned and exhorted to pay attention to the plans of God they call such action “hopeless.” It is a dangerous thing to hear a warning from God’s Word and to hear such exhortations and say “No thanks, we have our own plan to follow.” Jeremiah brought them to the point where they actually stated their condition honestly. The prophet’s threats were useless because they were so far gone—abandoned to their sins and the penalty. All hypocrisy was abandoned in favor of honesty, without repentance. Let’s not go there. Israel could have repented and avert judgment but they were so far down the rebel path even Jeremiah was told to not pray for them. Let’s listen to God and learn from this lesson to heed God’s instructions. After all we are the clay and He is the potter. He is making us into beautiful and useful vessels. Let’s be the clay and become the vessels God wants us to be. 

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January 14 – Hope With No Shame

“ …and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” –  Romans 5:4-5 (ESV)

Aren’t there times for each person when what is hoped for ends in deep disappointment and even shame? We stake our hope on uncertain outcomes and when it fails us, we may well be downcast for a time. This isn’t the kind of hope that we receive as believers from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We’ve learned that even the times of sufferings are times that produce good traits in us. Endurance, character, and hope are mentioned in our verse. In this promise is this hope. A hope than will never result in our shame or disappointment. The hope comes from God and is built upon His Word and His promises. How is it we can be so certain that this hope won’t disappoint us? Because it comes as a result of God pouring His love into our hearts. This is the ministry of His Holy Spirit. This is why God gave to us His Spirit dwells within us never to leave us without His encouragement and counsel. We’re assured by God and so our hope is in that assurance. We are His precious people and He our marvelous God.

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January 13 – He Knows and Gives Hope

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

The verse selected for today is often a favorite. Many take the promise in this verse as if it is given directedly to each believer. In a much larger sense it is true but not in the primary sense. Jeremiah, was sent to give God’s messages and warning to the His people in the Kingdom of Judah. (The northern Kingdom of Israel was gone and its people dispersed.) Warnings of conquest and destruction were repeatedly given to them by God through Jeremiah and each was ignored, mocked, and disregarded. They treated Jeremiah treacherously with malice and physical torture. But look one verse back to Jeremiah 20:10 we have the necessary context. God promises a time to bring the captives back from Babylon after seventy years in exile. Not all came back but God is promising in verse 11. God promised welfare and no longer calamity. He promised a future and a hope. While not directly in this verse, God has promised each believer a future and a hope. We too have this promise of welfare and not calamity from God from God. We find these promises many places. He gives us hope that is absolute and never disappoints.

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January 12 – No Fear!

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” – Hebrews 2:14-15 (ESV)

What do we fear the most in our lives? There is no need because there really is for us a state of NO Fear!  However, most people have a certain level of fear of death. Maybe for no other reason than the fact that we don’t know exactly what’s next. We who by faith believe because of the gift of God can rest with assurance that God will fulfill the promises regarding our life with Him after we die. But that doesn’t always come without questions and even doubts. For the believer, “death is swallowed up in victory,” (1 Corinthians 15:54). What Jesus Christ did as the Founder of Salvation, was to bring an end to the fear of death and its spiritual bondage. That’s a promise we can trust and which can change our lives. This is the ultimate purpose of the incarnation: Jesus came to earth to die. By dying, He was able to conquer death in His resurrection (John 14:19). By conquering death, He rendered Satan powerless against all who are saved. Are you saved by grace through faith that God has given to you? Your death holds no mysteries that cause you to fear.

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 January 11 – Wisdom For Each Day

18“The wicked earns deceptive wages,
but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.

19 Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,
but he who pursues evil will die.
20 Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord,
but those of blameless ways are his delight.
21 Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished,
but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.” – Proverbs 11:18-21 (ESV)

In the book of Proverbs are found many promises. Proverbs has a concentration of parallel lines, or antithetical parallelism.  These proverbs look at the same truth from opposite perspectives. One line promises results of blessings and the other line promises the converse results of loss and even death. All the verses in Chapter 11 are such proverbs. Each one promises results from righteous living compared to results from the ways of evil living. 

  • Verse 18 – The efforts of the wicked deceiver do not yield the riches his deception seeks, but the righteous receive a reward from God. 
  • Verse 19 – Righteous living is rewarded with life and the wages of sin is death.  
  • Verse 20 – The abominations defined throughout Scripture and especially in Proverbs, involve attitudes and behaviors which God hates*.
  • Verse 21 – Individually or in collaboration, the wicked cannot be freed from duly and just punishment, while the unassisted children of the righteous find deliverance because of their relationship with God. 

God gives us here and in other passages the clear promise that wicked living has a losing result. However, righteous living is what He wants and will help us have. The wisdom is easy to see.

*What are the abominations? Proverbs 11:20; perverse living, (means crooked or distorted);  Proverbs 12:22; lying;  Proverbs 15:8; hypocrisy; Proverbs 15:9; wicked conduct; Proverbs 15:26; wicked thoughts; Proverbs16:5; pride; Proverbs 17:15; injustice; Proverbs 20:10, 23; dishonesty in business; 

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