Flashback: Clean Hands

Originally posted on January 28, 2018.

I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. Thanks for reading and, if you have not already, be sure to subscribe so you can follow along every day.

pexels-photo-296282.jpegReading the Word

Psalm 18:20–27 (ESV)

20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22 For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. 23 I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. 24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. 25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; 26 with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. 27 For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.

Flashback: The Lord Is My Rock

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Originally posted on January 26, 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 18:1–6 (ESV)

1 I love you, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; 5 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Oh, the joy of having a refuge in every time of need. That is what God is to his people. We can call on him at all times knowing that he hears and is there. We know that our cries reach his ears and that he is able to come to our rescue. This is why David could praise God and say that he loved him (verse 1).

If you are hurting or afraid, call out to God. He is a rock and a stronghold and you will find refuge in him. Then praise his name for his goodness towards us. He is a great God and deserving of our love.

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Do Not Hide Your Sin

Psalm 325 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

Unrepentant sin weighs on a person. The psalmists speaks of his sin causing his bones to waste away resulting in groaning all day. He felt like God’s hand was heavy on him and his strength was dried up. He was miserable and he needed relief

Relief from sin comes when we confess it to God. He has told us that he is gracious and merciful and ready to forgive. We only need to repent. When we do that, our burdens are lifted and our lives are restored. Do not try to hide your sin from the all-knowing God. He is ready to show you grace if you will go to him.

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Are You Just Seeking Attention?

Matthew 66 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:5–8 (ESV)

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why do you do the things you do? When you do good for others, is it so you will receive a pat on the back? When you go to church, is it so others will see you in attendance and think better of you? When you give of your finances, is it so people will view you as generous? When you pray, are your prayers directed to God or are you more concerned with others who are listening?

We are sinful people. It is most evident in how we can take the very things that should focus our attention on God and use them to draw attention to ourselves. This is what some do with religious practices. This is what many of the religious were doing in Jesus’ day with prayer. They used it as a show to capture the attention of others. Unfortunately, this still happens today and it may be something that we all need think about. Why do we do the things we do? Are we seeking God or the attention of others?

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Praying for Open Doors

Colossians 42 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Colossians 4:2–6 (ESV)

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul asked the believers at Colossae to pray for him. He was not asking for them to pray for his health or safety. Those things were not his primary concern. Paul wanted prayer for his missionary efforts. He wanted prayers for open doors to preach the word of God. He wanted to clearly preach the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people would hear and believe.

Let us join in praying for open doors for the gospel and let us “continue steadfastly” in this prayer. We are currently living through circumstances with COVID-19 that I believe is an open door. Our neighbors are fearful of the future. Let us pray and then let us take the message of Jesus Christ to a world that is hurting and searching for a foundation to stand on. The gospel is the message of hope that people need right now.

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Submission and Honor in a Pandemic

1 Peter 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we are living through the Coronavirus pandemic there are going to be many challenges along the way. One of those is deciding how we will respond to the daily changes in restrictions that are being placed on us. I have heard and read much complaining about these things and I understand the reason for some of the complaints, but how should we respond? What is the proper Christian response to what we are facing right now?

The Apostles Paul and Peter are helpful to us. In Romans, Paul tells us that those in authority over us are there because God placed them in their positions. Therefore, we should submit to our leaders. After all, they are working for our good (Romans 13:4). Peter tells us in his letter that we are to submit to our leaders and honor them. Not only should we obey, but we should not be whiners and complainers. We should be the best citizens there are!

As we face each day of this outbreak and as we are asked to self-quarantine or any number of further restrictions, let us remember that our leaders are trying very hard to do what is right and they are working for our good. We may not agree with every decision, but we are called to submit to their authority and we are called to honor them. We do that by not constantly complaining and arguing about the decisions. And we can also do that by praying for our leaders. They have much on their plates right now and need all of the support they can get, especially our prayers.

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Peace Surpassing All Understanding

Philippians 46 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Philippians 4:4–7 (ESV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are living through circumstances right now that are unprecedented in our lifetimes. The whole world is facing the rapid spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as Coronavirus. Many people are afraid because there are so many questions right now and very few answers. So how should we respond?

In our reading for today, we are told that we do not need to be anxious about anything. We can go to the Lord in prayer about the things that are troubling us. He hears us and he cares for us. When we pray to God, we pray to the Creator of all things and the One who is sovereign over all things. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who love him. So, while the world seems like it is in turmoil, we have a God we can talk to and we can have peace knowing he is in control that he is working for our good.

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God Cares for You

1 Peter 57 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 5:6–7 (ESV)

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt that you would like to take your problems to God, but you wonder if your issues are a nuisance to him? Have you ever decided that your problems are too small and that God should not be bothered with such things? 1 Peter tells us that we can go in confidence to God and cast all of our cares upon him. Why? Because God cares for us. And not only does he care, but he is the mighty and all-powerful God who can actually do something about our concerns.

It is a wonderful and amazing thing to be called a child of the living God. He loves us a father loves a child, but in an even greater way than we have ever known because God’s love is perfect. Do not hesitate to go to him. He wants his children to draw near and he wants you to share what is on your heart. He cares or you. He loves you.

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Ask, Seek, and Knock

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Reading the Word

Luke 11:9–13 (ESV)

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

When you pray, what is your expectation? Do you pray knowing that your heavenly Father is listening or wondering if prayer is worth the time? Do you pray expecting that God will answer your prayers or expecting that nothing will come of them? What is your attitude towards prayer? Do you pray at all?

Jesus tells us that we should ask, seek, and knock. We should go before the Lord and pour out our hearts knowing that our God cares deeply for us. He desires to hear from us and answer us. He desires what is best for us and will not withhold it. Just as earthly fathers desire what is best for their children, our Father in heaven does the same, but in an even greater way in his perfect love for us. This does not mean we get everything we ask for. God knows better what we need than we do and will not give us what will cause us harm. Prayer allows us to pour out our hearts to God in deep communion with him and show our dependence and trust in him. It is a wonderful privilege to go before our great God knowing that he welcomes us as his children.

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The Love of Christ

Ephesians 318–19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Ephesians 3:14–19 (ESV)

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When you pray for others, what do you pray for? The Apostle Paul records many prayers in his letters. In those prayers, he calls on God to work on behalf of fellow Christians. It would be a profitable study to take the time to look at those prayers in more detail. In today’s reading we find one of them.

Chief among Paul’s concern for his readers was that they would have a greater knowledge of the love of Christ. He wanted them to know the “breadth and length and height and depth” of it. What an amazing thing to comprehend! Our Savior gave his life for us. Why would he do such a thing? We did not deserve it. It is only explainable by love. Christ loves us with a greater and purer love than we have ever known. Let us pray that we would grow in our knowledge of that amazing love!

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