Feb 1 – Job 9:11 makes a scary statement that seems to apply well in today’s society – “He passes by me, and I do not see Him; He moves past me, but I do not perceive Him.” Look at the world around you and decide if you believe that this could apply. How many do you know who have run from God and may even have denied His existence?
Feb 2 – For today, what should we draw from the stories of Jonah and Isaiah? Could it be the focus on God’s forgiveness? Regardless of how far we have strayed, or what others may think of us, God is still there and willing to forgive those sins. Do you see another strong lesson that can be gained from the end of Isaiah 23? All things, even those considered ill-gotten gain, “will be dedicated to the Lord.” Looking in Romans 14, you discover the statement that “every knee will bow [before the Lord].” Regardless of what we believe, it will all end at the throne of God.
Feb 3 – Another parable given by Jesus is the weeds among the wheat. Have you experienced the planting of a garden or flowers? They look so good when the flowers or garden begin to flourish and produce. Will either of these produce well if you do not give them some weed-pulling attention? I have heard it said that “I planted flowers but I don’t remember planting so many weeds.” You can thank Cain for the troubles encountered when trying to have beautiful flowers. How is this? Take a look at Genesis 4, specifically verse 11.
Feb 4 – “Is there injustice with God?” This is a question posed in Romans 9:14 which you may have asked yourself during some of the most trying times in your life. Getting through those times is hard enough when we try to do so without God, I can’t imagine it without the hope provided by trusting in an all-knowing God. Now, for a truly big concern – is God big enough to take your indiscretions and still forgive your human weakness? The answer to that is, of course, a great big YES.
Feb 5 – I know, those mentioned above are all useless ponderings. The biggest point is that God keeps all of His promises. He has promised to always be present for His followers. That is a promise that we can count on, whether we are in the emotional valleys or on the mountaintop. Be faithful and thankful for all that God has done for you.
Feb 6 – Do we require proof from God instead of having the strong faith that we know should be ever-present? I don’t believe that any of us can truthfully deny this. You can look at the many in scripture who bargained with or questioned God (Jacob, Abraham, possibly even Hannah) and know for certain that this simple act cannot be considered the unforgiveable sin of blasphemy. We can be certain that even the most committed of God’s flock have questioned and maybe even denied Him at some point.
Feb 7 – How solid is your faith? Could you withstand the losses that Satan was allowed to bring upon Job? Would you witness the power of God, as Elijah did and then crumble under the threats of Jezebel? It is easy to say how we believe that a certain situation would be handled if we were in it. It is not so easy to have the presence of mind to make sure that those things happen when that situation is suddenly thrust upon us. We should be “all prayed up” during the good times so that, when the inevitable valleys of life arrive, we are in God’s Will and ready for anything.
Feb 8 – Our sins are forgiven. We are not responsible for the sins of our ancestors. Does this mean that the consequences of sins will not follow us? Certainly not. You may know someone who was a heavy drinker throughout life. This person came to Christ after cirrhosis of the liver or some other disease had set in. Because of Christ’s presence, healing will take place, although a physical death will happen.
Feb 9 – After your checkbook, examine your life, hopes and desires. Discuss with others how you can keep God in the center of your life. Find an accountability partner who you can be open and honest with, ensured that whatever you both say will be kept confidential. In Isaiah 29 we also see a statement of how great it is to see your children walking in the way of virtue. If you have children, discuss this concern with others. Are there only certain parents blessed with virtuous children? Are all children with a childhood of church attendance destined for a God-honoring life?
Feb 10 – Today’s reading starts out with John, the forerunner of Jesus. If you have studied scriptures much at all, you will be quite familiar with his strong witness. Did you know that we are called to be witnesses for Christ? There is a commandment known as “the great commission,” which you can read all about in Matthew 28:16-20. Just as John was the forerunner and announcer of the King’s presence on earth, we are the forerunners in charge of announcing His return to the world.
Feb 11 – I was recently involved in a Sunday school discussion about these scriptures and physically grafting a foreign limb into a rooted tree. This is a most interesting illustration – grafting a foreign limb onto a new base. An example given was grafting watermelons into an apple tree. The comment made was “look out below.” Yes, this is a far-fetched example, but it is a true sketch of the idea of grafting, or adopting. the gentile believers into the family of God.
Feb 12 – Since the “soap opera” is about Rebekah, it is quite fitting to look at how her life with Isaac began. There was a definite blessing by God to indicate that she is the chosen wife for Isaac. Do you wonder if Eliezer, a mere servant of Abraham’s had told everyone exactly how he came upon Rebekah at the well? He is, after all, merely a servant. To be chosen for a job as important as finding a wife for the master’s son, he is probably truly trusted and maybe even more of a friend than servant.
Feb 13 – I am certain that you have heard the phrase “If God is for us, who can be successful against us?” This is a direct quote from Romans 8:31 (AMP). Can you recall an instance, maybe within your church, where things happened that you were uncomfortable with? Even though you prayed hard for God’s guidance and determined that His will is a “no” vote, the majority voted “yes” and it was enacted. Were your beliefs more influenced by personal likes and dislikes? Always be in prayer that you can recognize and follow God’s Will!
Feb 14 – We have many more words of encouragement in today’s scripture. In chapter 18:27 we read “You will deliver an afflicted and humble people.” Do you feel “afflicted” during many periods of your life? Do you get the feeling that nothing will ever go well for you again? These are the “valley” periods of life when we need to rely on God the most. We need to have His Word so solidly ingrained in our minds that we immediately turn to Him many times, whether during trials or mountaintop experiences.
Feb 15 – God provided for Job throughout the trials that were thrust upon him, and He will watch over us through any trials that we may encounter. Be thankful to God for His watch-care over your life. You may have heard a saying similar to “You are either coming out of a trial or headed into one.” Many days certainly seem this way, but when your hope rests in God, there is no trial that can get the best of you.
Feb 16 – We are special, we are forgiven. It is only by the Grace of God and we should always remember that. As Paul says in Corinthians, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” How many miracles have you witnessed during your lifetime? Did you personally know the recipient of this miracle and get to see how it changed his or her life? We would hope that miracles would result in a drastic change in someone’s life, but you can look back to the Israelites and their witnessing of the Red Sea parting to observe the effects of sin on humanity.
Feb 17 – How much do you know about Peter? Peter’s approach to life makes for some quite interesting discussion material. I have heard it said that Peter either hit a home run or struck out. Is there anything wrong with spiritual confidence? I would answer that question with a solid NO as long as it doesn’t lead to self-pride. In today’s reading you may have noticed that Peter was the one who offered to build a shelter. Was it wrong of him to offer? Once again, I would say NO. Peter probably offered the thing that he was most capable of.
Feb 18 – Verse 14:4 is a little baffling to me. We are commanded to give God a “day of rest” just as He rested on the seventh day after creating all things. Although not a commandment from God, we should be always in prayer and communion with Him. That would make every day a commitment of Holy Communion with our maker. Does this view make my belief right and differing beliefs wrong? No, that is what this scripture tells us – as long as our beliefs are true to God’s Word, they stand as our own individual commitment to God.
Feb 19 – What do you know of the practice of intermarrying between family members today? Some scientists claim that this will strengthen any negative genes that exist within the family. Maybe autism or some other disease has been dormant for many generations, but it is awakened after cousins marry and have children. Marrying cousins was sought after during scriptural times because it allowed the land and possessions to stay in the same clan. Would you like to marry any of your cousins?
Feb 20 – You will notice in chapter 13 that Manoah asked the angel his name. Why do you think he asked this? The answer to that question is also in scripture – “when your words come true, we may do you honor.” Was Manoah toying with God at this time, just as Samson did later in these scriptures? Playing with God, and toying with His Power is a dangerous thing. God will eventually give up and allow your own will to outlast His patience. Don’t play with God, accept His free gift of salvation today!
Feb 21 – How much do you know of the life of David? In his youth, he was a shepherd boy who knew that His God would take down the giant Goliath. In adulthood, he thought he had gotten away with adultery with Bathsheba even though she had become pregnant and he had her husband killed in battle. As a parent, he totally spoiled his children and had a son who raped a half-sister. Do you believe that his adult life sounds like “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 22)? Just like us, David was human and did human things. He also asked God’s forgiveness and renewed his relationship, but still suffered the aftereffects of those sins.
Feb 22 – In verse 15, Eliphaz seems to be mocking Job’s wisdom and understanding. Do you recall this happening in your life? Even though you know what happened, there stands in front of you a know-it-all friend who is arguing with the events and outcome? Most of us have at least one of those friends, and many of us may have been that type of friend at one time or another. Of course, if you were actually the initiator of such a hurtful act, but later realized it, the result can be very positive. After realizing what was done and how it was received, you apologized and vowed to try not to allow it to happen again.
Feb 23 – Did you pick up on something a bit odd while reading 41:23? Read it again. It says “do good or evil, that we may stare in astonishment and be dismayed as we behold together!” If you are not reading the Amplified version, you still may not pick up on what seems to be the meaning of this verse. Amplified inserts “the miracle” in brackets at the end of this phrase. The brackets mean that it is a phrase inserted to increase understanding of the meaning, although I don’t necessarily agree with the word “miracle” being used to describe an evil act. What do you think?
Feb 24 – There is a certain passage of scripture that seems to be the favorite topic for many sermons – the request by James and John to have preferential seating beside Jesus’ throne in heaven. They ask this selfish request while Jesus is in the midst of telling them of His upcoming crucifixion! How rude was this interruption? It also proves the fact that Jesus’ disciples, even after almost three years with him, are still clouded in their own humanity and misunderstanding. This also presents a vision of Jesus’ true understanding. He didn’t lambast them for interrupting his teaching moment, instead Jesus addressed their question before moving on with the important stuff.
Feb 25 – Patient endurance and encouragement. Do you see these things abundantly evident in today’s society? The trait of patience is something that we should all strive to enhance every day. While we are gaining in patience, we should also be encouraging others. Have you realized that there are things that we can learn from the animal world? Well, I guess the loyalty of your dog or cat would be something to learn, but I am actually thinking of the goose. Well, not actually a single goose. A group of geese flying in a V will continually honk encouragement to each other. God provides encouragement so that we can spread it around.
Feb 26 – Did you notice how much patience Jacob has been blessed with? First we see the patience to wait on Esau’s return and the love that he had for his brother. In chapter 34, Jacob exhibits what most of us would probably call superhuman patience. The more accurate description is probably heavenly patience. His daughter Dinah had been raped (“humbled, defiled and disgraced”) by Shechem, the prince. How would you react to this type of thing? Verse 5 tells us that Jacob held his peace until his sons returned home. This is definitely not a response taken from human nature.
Feb 27 – Did you read chapter 19 and pay close attention to it? It begins with a Levite taking a concubine in Bethlehem. A Levite? Yes, he was from the family that was elevated to perform holy service. Taking a concubine does not sound like a holy act. Neither does his response near the end of the chapter! He forces this concubine out of the door into a full night of sexual abuse. The next morning when he opened the door, it sounds like he nonchalantly orders her to get up so they can leave. As we know, the scriptures have many examples of the way that God’s people should not behave.
Feb 28 – Do you have a past? Everyone does, although some are more “checkered” than others. All Christians have one thing in common – we have said to God “Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions.” The response to this request is accomplished through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. As sons and daughters adopted into the family of God, we know that “He leads the humble in what is right, and the humble He teaches His way.”