Based on “Unlimited Opportunities, Part 1” by Pastor Mark Balmer; 1/8-9/11,
Message #MB446; Daily Devotional #3 - “God is Close on this Day”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Everyone wants change for their future; change for the better, that is. That is exactly what God wants for our future, too (Jeremiah 29:11). Our future begins today and is shaped, in part, by the decisions we make each day. And of course, the best decision we can make today is to trust in the One who gave us this day. Consider the way our days are represented by the four seasons. Winter could represent the cold hard reality of loss, that rest is needed, or that activity has slowed for a season. It is a time to give and receive the love of the Lord, for God is close on this day. Spring could represent hope abounding, bringing with it new life in the revelation of God’s amazing grace, and we find God is close on this day. Summer brings the fullness of the Holy Spirit breaking forth, joy increasing with the glory of God shining all around us, and God is close on this day. Fall reminds us that winter is coming and is a time to prepare our hearts for spiritual battle and to reach out to others, for without the Lord, the days would be dark and cold. But with His warmth, hearts change and turn to Him, and God is close on this day. No matter the season, He says, “….Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). We have today. This day was given to us that we might love God, love others, and make wise use of our time.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): As you start this New Year, you are in one of the seasons mentioned above, and God is close on this day. You are free to worship God today, free to love others for Him, and free to make your plans and commit them to Him (Proverbs 16:3). No matter what the season of our life, we are making plans. We are living life, and hopefully we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us. Then we can rest knowing, If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. (Psalm 37:23-24) A Christ follower wants to live his day blameless before God. Why? The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. (Psalm 37:18) No one is promised tomorrow, only today. This is the day the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24), let us give God our praise and worship. If we fill our hearts with the things of God, the seasons may come and go, but our spirit will sprout new wings and fly above our circumstances with renewed strength.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Heavenly Father, we are thankful for today. It is a day to seek forgiveness for yesterday’s sins, a day to find comfort in your amazing love, and a day to let your Word teach us new truths for our own lives. It is a time to gather strength for the seasons to come. Bless us today that we, in turn, might be a blessing to others. Thank you for saving us and calling us sons and daughters. May we go out today and face an unbelieving world with grace, truth, and above all, love. Thank you, God, for being close on this day. Amen.
Cultivating (Additional Reading): Psalm 119:1-8
Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Prayer, whether filled with joy or anguish, is heard by God. It is communication. It is walking and talking together with God. It is an altar of sacrifice, where we meet God and lay ourselves down before Him in total honesty with Him. In prayer, we empty ourselves like a sacrificial lamb lying on the altar with all of its blood draining out. When we lay our heart before God on His altar, He accepts it as our sacrifice.
In our pain and anguish, God hears our affliction. When pain comes, it is not a time to run away or to take refuge in drinks or drugs. It is not a time to scurry about, seeking a short-term, feel-good remedy. It is a time to get on our knees and face God. When He hears our cry, He will come down from heaven and take us back where we belong. He will straighten everything out.Lay your prayers on the altar. Lay yourself on the altar. God will lovingly receive your sacrifice and respond with compassion.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
The Traitor's Traitor
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. —Matthew 26:14-15
The most mysterious, and perhaps the most misunderstood, of the twelve disciples is Judas Iscariot. His very name is synonymous with evil and treachery. Judas is the traitor's traitor, ending his life in suicide after he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But there is more to Judas than that.
I think if we could travel back in time to the first century and actually see Jesus and His disciples, we wouldn't be able point out Judas. I don't think he would be the sinister man we would suspect—at least outwardly. In fact, Judas might even appear to be relatively compassionate.
For example, when Jesus and the disciples were at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in Bethany, Mary brought out some expensive perfume and began to wipe Jesus' feet with it. Jesus was deeply touched by this sacrificial act, but it was Judas who pointed out that this costly perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Those listening may have thought, That is a good point. You know, Judas is a good steward. He is frugal. He is thoughtful. Let's give Judas a round of applause.
But John gives us a little insight into why Judas said this: "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it" (John 12:6). Some have portrayed Judas as someone who got caught up in the drama, and things just sort of backfired. But Judas did what he did because of his greed. He could have changed his course had he chosen to. He certainly was given opportunities.This reminds us that things are not always as they appear. And Judas' covert greed ultimately destroyed him.