Living for Christ

August 2010 Daily Devotion Archive

August 1:
The Earth is the Lord's

The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. - Psalm 24:1-2

I don't have much to add today; I just think these two verses paint a beautiful picture of the earth that God created. I encourage you to take a moment to think about everything around you on the earth and how God created it all, even down to the tiniest detail.

August 2:
God's Love

Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. - Genesis 19:24-25

It is crucial that we understand the depth of God's love and that we follow that example in our lives. Yes, as horrible as this act sounds, it was in fact an act of love and justice from God. Love and justice are closely intertwined. If God wasn't just, punishing the wicked while rewarding the faithful, what kind of love would that be? Too many people today have been misled by the lies of the world into believing that love is always happy and encouraging, that it should always tolerate whatever other people are doing. But true love goes much deeper than that. Someone who truly loves a child or a friend will tell that person when he or she is doing something that they shouldn't be doing. In true love, we care about that other person enough to want them to hear the truth and to keep them away from things that are wicked. Thankfully, we have a God who loves us that much!

August 3:
Trusting God's Response

But David's men said to him, "Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?" Then David inquired of the Lord once again. And the Lord answered him and said, "Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand." And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow, and took away their livestock. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. - 1 Samuel 23:3-5

Last week we looked at how David prayed and asked God for guidance before making this decision. Once he heard God's answer, he told his men, and they became afraid. It's easy for us to look at this story and think that they shouldn't have been afraid because God was on their side, and while that is certainly true, we're all humans with our own fears and insecurities. God understood that and did not rebuke David when he went back to God for reassurance. God provided that reassurance, and David and his men did not hesitate any longer. They followed God's directions, and they prevailed in the end.

August 4:
King Nebuchadnezzar Believes

The king answered Daniel, and said, "Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret." - Daniel 2:47

Last week we took a look at how Daniel gave God all the credit for being able to interpret the king's dream. Here, after Daniel has given him the complete explanation, we see the impact that choice had on the king. Instead of congratulating Daniel on doing a good job of interpreting, the king himself gave the credit to God, just as Daniel had done already. Daniel's choice to give God the credit had a significant impact on the king by showing God's power. There's a lesson for us in this story as well. We all have opportunities when we can take the credit for ourselves or give the glory to God. If we do the latter, we could have a significant impact on other people when we allow God to show how powerful He is. When we act like it's just us and God had nothing to do with it, we stifle the work that He is trying to do and we rob others of a potential encounter with God.

August 5:
The Way We Should Respond

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" - Luke 5:8

This is how Simon Peter responded when they caught so many fish that their net began to break and their boat even started to sink, and it is the kind of humble response we all should have! But by and large, we don't. Often we fail to even acknowledge God at work; even when we do, very few of us ever reach this level of humility. Simon Peter didn't thank Jesus for what He had done or praise Him for the miracle. Instead, he knew he was a sinner and didn't deserve such a miracle from the Son of God. If only we could all take our sinful actions so seriously, but we don't. An incredible degree of sin is now tolerated and even "normal" in this country, and many Christians go right along with those sinful worldly ways. We need to take God seriously, just like Simon Peter did here! Only when we fully realize how sinful we truly are can we come to completely understand God's love and grace.

August 6:
Be Renewed

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephesians 4:20-24

Last week we looked at how not to live, how those who are not believers live because they do not understand the nature of Christ. Here, Paul tells us how we should live as Christians. With God's help, we must move away from any kind of sinful lifestyle that may have been in control prior to being saved. That is absolutely vital to having a strong, close relationship with Jesus. I love how Paul writes that the spirit of our minds needs to be renewed. The mind is often where the battle rages, or at least where it begins, and it is that refreshing renewal that Jesus offers to us when we come to Him.

August 7:
Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.
The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot.
The wise in heart will receive commands,
But a prating fool will fall.
He who walks with integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will become known.
The mouth of the righteous is a well of life,
But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.
- Proverbs 10:6-9, 11

August 8:
Clean Hands and a Pure Heart

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
- Psalm 24:3-5

Things may be different now than they were when this Psalm was written, before Christ came to earth, but I believe this is a principle that we should continue to follow. Far too many people go to church on Sunday and may pray on occasion but aren't living the way God wants. Many of those people give their souls to idols--anything that is placed above God--and may not even realize it. Many of those people tell lies ("sworn deceitfully") and don't think anything about it. Before we approach God in church or in prayer, having "clean hands and a pure heart" before Him is extremely important. Don't take God for granted and think you can do whatever you want and get away with it. Have enough respect and love for Him to live the way He asks us to live.

August 9:
God Keeps His Promises

For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. ... And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me." She also said, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age." - Genesis 21:2, 6-7

At first, Sarah laughed when God told her that He was going to give her a son in her and Abraham's old age. But in spite of how seemingly impossible it sounded to us as humans, God kept his promise-as He always does. Another promise that He never fails to keep is to love and care for all of His children. If you're going through a difficult time right now, you may not feel that way. But never forget that He is still there, working through it with you, and if you don't stray from God, you will almost certainly grow closer to Him and learn a few things along the way. God keeps His promises, and He will never fail any of His children.

August 10:
Misinterpreting God's Plan

And Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah. So Saul said, "God has delivered him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars." ... And [Jonathan] said to [David], "Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that." - 1 Samuel 23:7, 17

God's plan was to save the people of Keilah, and that is what David was able to do through God's guidance. However, Saul was still being controlled by his jealousy toward David, and I believe that is why he completely misunderstands what God is trying to accomplish here. He even says, "God has delivered [David] into my hand," but considering God hand-picked David to be the next king of Israel, how does that even make sense? It doesn't, of course, but that's what can happen when jealousy controls a person. Saul's son Jonathan even states that Saul knows David will be the next king, but it doesn't seem to matter. Saul has allowed his jealousy to control him to the point that he is no longer able to think straight or to discern God's will.

August 11:
Daniel Persists

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. - Daniel 3:1

Apparently, King Nebuchadnezzar had a short memory. If you recall, last week we saw how he gave the glory to Daniel's God after Daniel, with God's help, was able to interpret the king's dream. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the king to revert back to idols, basically asking his people to worship an idol of himself. Still, as we will see later on in this book, Daniel did not relent and continued to give all the glory to God, which continued to have an impact on the king. And apart from the king himself, Daniel's actions likely had an impact on many other people who were watching him as well. We never know who may be watching, which is why it is vitally important that we always follow God's commands and allow Him to work in us and through us in our daily lives.

August 12:
Following Jesus With No Hesitation

For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men." So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. - Luke 5:9-11

When Jesus called these people to follow Him, what did they do? Did they procrastinate, wanting to finish up some other types of work first? Did they ask questions or make excuses? If this happened in today's world, did they check their schedules and try to clear off a little bit of time for Jesus? No. Instead, they "forsook all and followed Him." There was no hesitation. They didn't cling to what few belongings they may have had. They knew how important Jesus' ministry was and they just went! This is one problem that develops in a country as advanced and materialistic as our own. People have too many worldly things tying them down, making it so hard for them to just go when Jesus calls. If you were one of these men, how would you react?

August 13:
Honesty, Part 1 of 2

Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. - Ephesians 4:25

I love the perspective that Paul gives here on the subject of lying. He builds on the concept that believers are all one in Christ; therefore, if you lie to a fellow Christian, you are, in a way, lying to yourself and to God as well. To me, it seems simple: Just tell the truth! Lying isn't something I struggle with, but I know a lot of people do. And whether you tell big lies or just little white lies, both are wrong. When you are tempted to tell a lie, remember that God is truth--not simply that God likes the truth, but He IS truth. We are called to follow that example. We are also called to love others, which cannot be done through lying. Lying is merely an easy way out for the moment but it can have disastrous long-term consequences. Next week we will take a closer look at some different types of lying and what some of those consequences may be.

August 14:
Love Covers All Sins

Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all sins.
- Proverbs 10:12

Solomon wrote these words a long time before Jesus came to the earth, but this echoes much of the wisdom that Jesus gives us and does so in such a simple and concise manner. If we could all love one another--truly love each other just like Jesus loves us--that would instantly solve the vast majority of the problems we create as human beings. But hurt feelings, jealousy, mistrust, and a variety of other things creep in and disrupt that love that Jesus intended for us to have for one another. Just as Jesus' ultimate love for us and what He did on the cross literally covers all our sins, so can our love for one another cover a multitude of sins.

August 15:
Seeking God's Face

This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah
- Psalm 24:6

As I read this verse I started to wonder, how many of us or how often do we really seek God's face? Church isn't just this place we go on Sundays to talk to people, sing a couple of hymns and listen to some preaching. Christianity is a lifestyle, and we should constantly be seeking God's face in everything that we do. In other words, we should continually maintain an attitude of prayer, asking God to lead and guide us each and every day. We should try to discern His will for our lives rather than simply doing whatever we want. Make no mistake about it--if you go to church on Sundays but the rest of the week you live in such a way that it's impossible to tell you apart from a non-believer, you are not pleasing to God. Seek out His face, discern His will and live for Him. That's what He asks of His children.

August 16:
Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands

And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. Therefore she said to Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac." And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son. - Genesis 21:9-11

For the second time (the first was in Genesis 16), we see how the Ishmael's birth is causing problems within this home. These are the kinds of problems that are almost inevitable when we don't wait for God but try to handle something our own way. Sarah didn't believe God when He told her He would bless her with a son in her old age so she told Abraham to have a son by their servant instead. But on two separate occasions since she made that choice, she grew angry or disgusted at Ishmael through no fault of his own. If she had simply waited for God's timing, she would not have had to deal with those consequences, and this would have been a happier household. The lesson for us is to always wait for God because His timing is far better than anything we could do.

August 17:
Understanding God's Plan

Then the men of David said to him, "This is the day of which the Lord said to you, Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you. " And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul's robe. Now it happened afterward that David's heart troubled him because he had cut Saul's robe. And he said to his men, "The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord." - 1 Samuel 24:4-6

This event took place after Saul had tried to kill David on multiple occasions out of his own jealousy. The Lord had apparently told David that he could "do to [Saul] as it seems good to" him. Despite Saul's actions and the likelihood that David was afraid for his own life, he could not bring himself to kill Saul. I believe that is a great example of why David was said to be a man after God's own heart. Despite the opportunity for revenge, he did what he knew was right. I also believe that God left the choice up to David because He knew He could trust him to make the right decision.

August 18:
Following the Masses

So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. - Daniel 3:7

The people of this land had become so misguided that they followed the king's self-righteous commands without a second thought. They were consumed with serving him, not anyone or anything else and certainly not the true God. They ignored whatever moral values they may have had and bowed down to worship the king's gold image with no hesitation. While our leaders in this country may not be so blatantly arrogant, many of them are continuing to make decisions that go against Christianity. We need to stand up for our beliefs no matter how hard it may be and we must be careful to never bow down to anyone other than God. Next week we will look at what happened when three people did stand up against the king's decree.

August 19:
God Is Always Able

And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him. And He charged him to tell no one, "But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded." - Luke 5:12-14

This man knew what Jesus could do. He didn't say, "if you are able;" he said, "if you are willing," because he knew Jesus was able. We would be wise to keep this idea in mind when praying for something. God is always able, and if it would be good for us and bring glory to Him, He will most likely be willing as well. But if He isn't, perhaps it is because it would ultimately harm us or our relationship with Him in some way. God is always able; trust Him to do what He knows is best for us. As a side note, I also like Jesus' reference back to Moses in the Old Testament. The New Testament most certainly did not take the place of the Old but is simply a continuation of it.

August 20:
Honesty, Part 2 of 2

Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. - Ephesians 4:25

One common form of lying is telling somebody something that isn't quite true just to make that person feel better (a little white lie), but a true friend loves and cares about the other person enough to tell the truth, even when it is hard. A harsh truth may hurt for a little while, but telling a lie, even a little one, can have much more serious long-term consequences. Additionally, lies that start out small tend to grow bigger and bigger as time goes on, so being honest isn't only the right thing to do, it's also much easier than trying to keep track of a bunch of lies. Because God is truth, lying can also strain your relationship with Christ. If you are buried in the midst of a big lie, you cannot have the wonderful peace and joy that He so freely offers to all believers. When God tells us not to lie, it's because He loves us and wants us to be free of the bondage that can result from becoming trapped in a web of lies.

August 21:
Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding,
But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.
Wise people store up knowledge,
But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
The rich man's wealth is his strong city;
The destruction of the poor is their poverty.
The labor of the righteous leads to life,
The wages of the wicked to sin.
He who keeps instruction is in the way of life,
But he who refuses correction goes astray.
- Proverbs 10:13-17

August 22:
Our Mighty God

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory. Selah
- Psalm 24:7-10

Never forget that we serve a mighty and powerful God! He's on our side and He wants to help us fight our battles. We just have to open the door and let Him come in.

August 23:
Standing Out for God

And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, "God is with you in all that you do." - Genesis 21:22

This man knew that God was with Abraham. He could tell that something was different about Abraham by the way he acted and the way he lived his life. Can people say that about you? Do you stand out from the crowd, shining the light of Jesus in the midst of life in this dark world? As Christians, that is what God has called us to do. If your co-workers or whoever you associate with on a regular basis have no idea that you're a Christian, then you are not following that calling from God. It may not always be easy, but if you care about the people around you and love them as Jesus does, then you will want to share the awesome truth of Him with every single one of them!

August 24:
Returning Good For Evil, Part 1 of 2

And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. Then he said to David: "You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me." - 1 Samuel 24:16b-18

While this is a principle that is discussed far more in the New Testament than in the Old, here we find a perfect example of why it is better to repay evil with good instead of repaying it with more evil. David was given the opportunity to kill Saul, who had tried to kill him on multiple occasions. But he knew that wasn't the right thing to do (due to his close and personal relationship with the Lord), so he let Saul go. Saul didn't even realize he was in any danger at the time, so a little later on, David finds Saul and tells him what had happened. This brought a sudden and significant change to Saul's personality and attitude, which we will take a deeper look at next week.

August 25:
Trusting God's Will

Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? ... Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." - Daniel 3:14, 16-18

Most of us are familiar with this story. But let's think for a moment about how difficult it must have been for these men. Not only were they going up against a powerful king, but their very lives were at stake. They could have died for their beliefs, and they were more than willing to. They knew God was capable of saving them, but they trusted in God's will enough that they knew whatever outcome He had planned for them would ultimately be what was best for everyone involved. That's the kind of faith we all need to have!

August 26:
He's No Attention-Seeker

However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So [Jesus] Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. - Luke 5:15-16

This took place right after Jesus healed the man with leprosy. Word spread of the miracle and more and more people flocked to Jesus to ask for some type of healing. So, how did Jesus respond? Did He hold giant healing sessions, glorifying Himself with all the attention from those people? No. Instead, He went off by Himself and spent time in prayer. This is another striking example of how Jesus stands out from other so-called religious leaders of other religions. He was humble and didn't want attention for Himself; He simply came to preach the Word of God to the people. This is another example that we need to follow as well. We need to act in ways that draw attention to Jesus, not to ourselves. That's the best way for others to come to know Him.

August 27:

"Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. - Ephesians 4:26-27

Is being angry a sin? If it is, then that would imply that Jesus sinned when He became angry at the people who were selling things within the church (see Mark 11:15-19), and of course Jesus was incapable of sinning. Anger is not a sin when it is justified, and controlled anger is justified when someone is acting against God. Certain things that are going on in the world today should make us angry, or at least saddened and concerned. However, this anger should never be all-consuming; it should only be used to urge us to respond with God's love. That's why Paul advises us to not remain angry into the night. If that anger does consume you, then you give the devil an opportunity to use that anger to pull you farther away from God. We need to be very careful when it comes to anger. Brief, controlled anger is acceptable when someone corrupts something related to God, but the anger that we often show to one another as a result of (often silly) arguments is most certainly not acceptable.

August 28:
Manipulating With Words

Whoever hides hatred has lying lips,
And whoever spreads slander is a fool.
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
The heart of the wicked is worth little.
The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of wisdom.
- Proverbs 10:18-21

I especially like the second of these four verses. Always be wary of people who talk with a "multitude of words." Now, some people just talk more than others, and there's nothing wrong with that. But other people are very crafty with those words, attempting to coerce or manipulate you in some way, and those are the people that Solomon is warning us about. Be very wary of someone if what he or she is saying sounds too good to be true because, as the old saying goes, it probably is.

August 29:
I'm Not Ashamed

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.
- Psalm 25:1-3

The Newsboys put out a song in the early 1990s called "I'm Not Ashamed." It's all about living out our faith and not being ashamed of it. Which group do you fall into--is your Christian faith evident to those around you, or do you try to hide it in shame and fear? The latter is most certainly not what God intended for us. If the people around you can't tell that you're a Christian, then how can you have an eternal impact on any of their lives? Even if you work in a place that isn't very friendly to Christians, you can still shine a light; just let God's peace and joy overcome you so that people can see there's something different about you. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He deserves so much more than to have followers who are ashamed to even mention His name.

August 30:
Total Faith, Part 1 of 2

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. - Genesis 22:1-3a

Abraham didn't ask questions. He didn't make excuses. He didn't even hesitate. God told him what to do, and he followed. It couldn't have been easy for him, hearing God tell him to sacrifice his long-awaited son, but Abraham's faith was strong enough that He completely trusted God and His plan. He may have even known deep down inside that this was merely a test, that God would never actually ask him to sacrifice his son. But regardless of that, he followed God with no questions and no hesitation. That is exactly what we need to do when God calls us to do something for Him.

August 31:
Returning Good For Evil, Part 2 of 2

And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. Then he said to David: "You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me." - 1 Samuel 24:16b-18

David could have easily killed Saul when he was given the opportunity. But would that have really solved all of his problems? David was next in line to become king, and if he had killed the reigning King Saul, I can easily see some type of civil war breaking out among the people over such an act of violence. Instead, David chose the peaceful route. He did not kill Saul, which completely changed Saul's perspective. Something had given him the idea that David was out to kill him, and David's actions swiftly disproved that idea. This event also caused Saul to weep and repent from his own sinful actions when he had attempted to kill David out of jealousy. But now, Saul is freed of his jealousy of David, and their friendship was restored as well.