Bible Reading Plan
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Weekends: Read any passages of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂

 
 
 
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How To Soul Journal
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Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

Daniel 6

 

Scripture

Daniel 6:20-23

20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Observation                                      

So much great stuff in this chapter. 🙂

Daniel was kind of a rockstar. He had “so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom” (v3). This created haters – people that were jealous, people that wanted his position, people that wanted to see him fail!  In fact, they wanted to see him fail so much that they created a way for him to do so in the only way they could – by making it illegal for him to serve God.  They tricked the king, he signed a decree and Daniel continued to serve his God, landing him in the lion’s den.  But even the king wanted to see Daniel survive and put his trust and hope in God in the waiting.   

Understanding

While it is not stated in this chapter, it seems to me the reason Daniel had “so distinguished himself” among the 120 satraps and 3 administrators is because his lifestyle was centered around God.  As Christians, we are called to do EVERYTHING as unto the Lord. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24

Based on everything we see about Daniel throughout this chapter, I believe he lived this out wholeheartedly.  And even when they created a decree to try to stop him, he continued to set himself apart, to worship and seek God openly – asking for help.  And it was all to God’s glory. 

Darius had intended to set Daniel “over the whole kingdom” (v3).  Perhaps he did know and understand WHY Daniel was different (I’m assuming not since he ultimately agreed to put the decree in place) but he did know that he liked what Daniel, his work ethic, what he stood for, how he presented himself…and he had enough faith and trust in him to set the intention of giving him leadership over his whole kingdom.  I think this is an example to us.  Although we should never be ashamed of our God, we don’t necessarily have to go into every situations proclaiming God with our words.  As we work unto the Lord, though, we show in our consistent and daily actions that we are trustworthy, operate with integrity, respect authority, treat others with kindness, etc.  And, as we do so, there will be opportunities to share our faith…perhaps not in a den full of lions (although I’ve been in some meetings that felt a little like that!), but in conversations with our coworkers, our boss, a colleague at lunch.  Opportunities will arise for us to glorify God.

And, as we glorify God, it gives rise to opportunities for hearts to be turned to Him – just as Darius’ was, which created a ripple effect for the entire kingdom.  This is the power and partnership that God has entrusted to us…if we are willing.

Life Application

Dear God, may I have faith and obedience like Daniel.  Obedience to serve you, even when it’s not convenient.  Faith that you will hold and protect me when I do.  May I seek you regularly, openly, devotedly.  May I set myself apart in a way that brings glory and honor to you and you alone.  As I go throughout my day, show me ways to better love you and to partner with you in ways that draw others’ hearts to seek, know and love you too. 

In your name, Amen.

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

– Rei

 



Daniel 5

 

Scripture

Daniel 5:4

As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

Observation – What does it say?

Between chapters 4 and 5, there was a transition of power as Belshazzar took the throne of his father Nebuchadnezzar. During his massive banquet that had a guest list of a thousand, Belshazzar had the gold and silver goblets brought that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem. As they drank wine from the goblets, in open idolatry they praised gods of these various materials. This is incredible! Why?

Belshazzar’s father had one of the most incredible journeys of discovering God and coming to worship him (see chapters 1-3). Daniel later recounts his father’s journey to him, saying, “though you knew all this” (4:22). Chances are, he had observed his father go through this journey first hand! Yet, he didn’t honor God and worshiped these empty idols.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Two things stand out to me in this, from a parent’s perspective:

  1. The parent’s responsibility is to “Train up a child in the way he should go,” (Prov. 22:6) and “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).

Despite his amazing personal journey with God, it appears Nebuchadnezzar failed in this department. Consider in contrast King David raising Solomon to love and worship God and setting him up for success by providing all the materials for him to build the temple. And, like Proverbs 22:6 (Written by Solomon and possibly with his first-hand experience in mind!) concludes, “…even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

  1. The child’s choice is ultimately their own.

Belshazzar hadn’t just heard about his father’s journey of faith but he “knew” all about it, most likely as an eyewitness. Yet, despite witnessing the power and sovereignty of God in his father’s life, unlike Solomon he exercised his free will to turn from God to idols.

Life Application

Fulfill my responsibilities to teach my children to love and worship God.

AND

Pray that when my children grow older and are faced with the decision, they choose God.

God, what an incredible opportunity and responsibility you’ve entrusted to us as parents! Please give us wisdom to know how to train our children in the way they should go. May our example in following you be one worth imitating. Yet, we recognize that ultimately they will have to choose. Holy Spirit, have mercy and grant that their hearts would be turned toward you. Bless our children to know and rejoice in your salvation all the days of their lives. Amen.
 
– Levi Thompson
 
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Daniel 4

 

Scripture 

Daniel 4:37

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Observation-What does it say?

Commentary says that King Nebuchadnezzar wrote this chapter of Scripture, and Daniel got a hold of his writings to include as part of God’s inspired Word.  King Nebuchadnezzar recalls how God had brought Daniel (aka Belteshazzar), into his life because he was the only one who was able to interpret his dreams.  King Nebuchadnezzar recalled a dream that led him to “renounce his sins vs. 27”, and glorify God as the Most High God.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Through King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a Tree being cut down and destroyed (that tree representing him), he realized that he had to surrender His life to God. He realized that God was greater and had the power to humble anyone who had pride in who he was and what he had.  God had the power to give and the power to take away. The King made a wise decision by surrendering to God and worshipping Him and praising Him, and he ended up being restored to the place that he once was.

Proverbs 16:18-Pride goes before destruction, a haughty (arrogant) spirit before a fall.

Job 1:20- At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.  Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Life Application

I will give my life fully in surrender to Jesus, my Lord, Savior and King. There is no room for pride when we surrender completely to Him.

1 John 2:16-“For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

Psalm 146:3-Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.

Dear Lord, I pray that my desire to serve You and surrender my life to You would never fade.  Like the song Come Thou Fount says, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.  Take my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy Courts above.” Please seal my heart for You alone Jesus and may I remain humble, teachable and obedient to Your will for my life.  I pray that You would be glorified alone as a result of my surrender to You. Amen.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Michelle Gaddi


Daniel 3

 

Scripture

Daniel 3:28

“Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”

‭‭Observation-What does it say?

King Nebuchadnezzar had built a gold statue 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. The king invited everyone in the land of Babylon to come see the statue he had made. King Nebuchadnezzar declared that when everyone hears the sound of musical instruments playing, they are to all bow to the ground and worship the king’s gold statue. Anyone not in compliance to the king’s command would be immediately thrown into a blazing furnace.

Enter Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three Jewish men refused to bow down and worship any other God but their own (the one true God). King Nebuchadnezzar even called them in to give them one more chance. They still refused to bow down and worship the gold statue.  I love what they tell the king in verses 17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Wow!!! Talk about standing your ground and sticking to what you believe in!

This infuriates the king, and he orders the furnace to be heated seven times hotter, and for them to be thrown into the blazing furnace immediately. The furnace was so hot that the soldiers throwing them into the furnace were killed! As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the furnace, the king saw a fourth who was in there with them. To the king’s surprise they were all unharmed! The king knew that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego rescued them from the blazing furnace. The king called the three men to step out of the furnace. To everyone’s surprise, not a hair on them was singed, their clothes were not even scorched, and they didn’t even smell like smoke! These turn of events caused King Nebuchadnezzar to not only back these three Jewish men, (he promoted them to even higher positions in Babylon), but also he backed their God as the one true God!

Understanding-What does it mean?

Choosing to obey and follow God can lead you into some difficult situations in life, but if you stay true to your faith and your beliefs, you just never know who it may end up saving.

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew‬ ‭10:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a very difficult decision to make. Either bow down and worship the king’s gold statue, or be thrown into a burning furnace and die an excruciating death. The choice was easy for the three of them. They chose to please the one true God who they knew and loved. They knew what fate awaited them by the choice they made. But they would rather die than offend and displease their God. They knew that their God had the power to save them. They also knew the fate that awaited them if they chose to bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue… and this one also ended up in a burning furnace, but this fiery death would be an eternal one. 

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew‬ ‭10:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Little did they know that their decision to stand their ground, stay strong in their faith, would affect thousands of people! Not only did God rescue them from the burning furnace, but in the process, the thousands of people who witnessed the miracle that day would also believe in their God, and that included King Nebuchadnezzar!

Life Application

As a Christ-follower I must lead a life that would encourage others to follow Jesus.

I know as a Christian my behavior and actions are under a public microscope. The world is just waiting for that very second for me to slip up so that they can say “You hypocrite!” I also understand that being a Christian doesn’t exclude me from life’s difficult circumstances. If anything, it increases my possibilities of heading into them. The key is how I respond to them. Or should I say how God calls me to respond to them. Living a life of faith even when life’s storms are in my way can be difficult, but reading today’s passage is encouraging. You never know how God is planning on using these parts of your life for His glory. All I do know is He is. Whether it’s using them to encourage others how a man of God responds to life’s difficulties, or even using them to perform a miracle in life so God’s power can be revealed. You just never know. All I can do is my part…trust and obey in Him. Look what it did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It led King Nebuchadnezzar and the thousands of people of Babylon that day to believe in the one true God of Israel!

 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here.
 
-Moses Gaddi


Daniel 2

 

Scripture

Daniel 2:11

What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”

 Observation

Nebuchadnezzar has a troubling dream and assembles the magicians of Babylon to not only interpret his dream but tell him what it was that he had dreamed. The magicians and seers vie for time, but the king sees through their vanities and decrees that unless one of his counselors can satisfy his wishes, then all of the wise men and diviners shall be put to death. Upon hearing of this edict, Daniel enlists the intercession of his closest friends that God might give him insight into the king’s dream. God gives Daniel the spirit of revelation and the ability to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel gives God the glory for the interpretation, and because Daniel was able to rightly divine the kings dream and the interpretation, the king also glorifies God and places Daniel and his friends into positions of power and influence in the king’s court.  

Understanding

If only the magicians of Nebuchadnezzar’s courts could have really divined the future, they would have been able to look ahead to a time when God did live among humans. The most earth shattering, mind blowing and miraculous truth of the gospel is that for one brief, shining moment there was not Camelot, but Immanuel; God with Us. For three years of human history, God did live among humans in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Clothed in the humility of flesh and blood, God lived an earthly, sinless life so that He could die as the atoning sacrifice for sinful mankind. God as a baby, redeemed at the temple; God as an obedient child in His Father’s house; God as a man – who hungered, thirsted, tired, laughed, and wept. God the Son who was righteously angered and who struggled with, but ultimately surrendered to, God’s perfect will. God the Creator, captive, humiliated, beaten and killed at the hands of His creation in order to save them. You are in error, counselors of the king. God did dwell among humans and purchased redemption for them with His very blood.

Life Application

As wondrous as is the truth of Immanuel, perhaps even more incomprehensible is the miracle that the Spirit of God does not merely dwell with humans, but dwells within me to guide me into all truth, to convict me concerning sin and righteousness and to give me insight into the Word of God that is not available to the natural mind. Thank you, Holy Spirit, my counselor, comforter and teacher, for condescending to live within the heart and mind of a sinner like me and to lead me along the journey of transformation and sanctification. Help me to live a life of surrender to all that you desire to do in and through my life so that it may be with me as it was with Daniel – that kings may give you glory as they see your power displayed through my faith, trust and obedience.
 
To check out the discussion or to join in, click here
-Gary Parker 


Daniel 1

 

Scripture

Daniel 1:17-20

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

Observation                                      

Daniel was selected to take part in training to enter the king’s service. The fact that he was selected meant that he had to meet certain criteria – young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed and quick to understand (v4); and, once selected, they were to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians (v4), be able to eat and drink “from the king’s table,” and be trained for 3 years (v5).

Understanding

It sounds like it was quite special – in the eyes of society, at least – to be selected and deemed “qualified” to serve in the king’s service. And one of the “perks” of being selected was to take part in the royal food and wine.  But despite being chosen for the king’s service, Daniel did not lose sight of his being chosen for the King’s service…the one true King, that is.  It would have been easy to go along with and take part in what was approved, expected and encouraged by the king and his officials; but Daniel chose to be obedient and set himself apart – seeking “permission not to defile himself this way” (v8). 

As Christ-followers, we may find ourselves in situations that the world sees as “important” but we recognize is nothing compared to what God has called us to…or find ourselves in positions of servitude for Kingdom purposes that the world would consider inconsequential. In short, our priorities and motives differ from that of the world. 

Yet, in faithful obedience, we find God’s favor – which is ten-fold greater than that of the world.

[As a side note…it’s likely that with taking in more nutritionally sound food and abstaining from alcohol, Daniel and company were of clearer mind, healthier, etc. They had better/healthier habits…all which would lead to better results compounded after the 3 years of training. So, it would make sense that they would be much better off than their counterparts; yet, the glory is still God’s – because it came out of obedience to God. Rightfully so, it started and ended with God.]

Life Application

Dear God, may we place the cause of Christ greater than any worldly “perk” or status. May we remember why we are here – to know you and make you known, to further your Kingdom.  May we be willing to stand against the grain, set ourselves apart in faithful obedience to You, finding ourselves in the center of your will.  And, God, to You be the glory – for any earthly or heavenly reward!

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

– Rei

*PS Honestly, the first thing that stood out to me were verses 12-16, from which I momentarily concluded that we should all be vegetarian! 🙂  But…I love double-doubles a little too much. Mmm…In-N-Out!  Happy end of fast everyone! 😉



January 27 – Faith Accepts God’s Provisions

 

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of open worship at the church.  Come prepared to share a scripture, testimony, a song that blesses you (we will sing together).  I am looking forward to this time.

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:28  By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them.

Observation

Here is the second of three things faith accepts. This is the positive side of making right decisions. True faith accepts the Lord’s provision as well as His plan.

The tenth and last plague that God sent on the Egyptians was the death of all first-born (Ex. 11:5). To protect the Israelites from this plague the Passover was instituted, in which a lamb’s blood was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of their houses (12:7). Obviously the blood itself had no power to stave off the death angel, but sprinkling it as God had commanded was an act of faith and obedience and the blood was symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice by which He conquered death for all who believe in Him. The people of Israel, including Moses, did not understand the full significance of the ceremony, but they knew it was part of God’s plan. God required it and they obeyed. Moses accepted God’s provision. Faith always accepts God’s provision, no matter how strange and pointless it may seem to human understanding.

When a believer accepts Jesus Christ by faith, he accepts God’s provision for salvation. To the world, good works seem like a much better way to please God than faith. But the world’s way is not God’s way. To Him, “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isa. 64:6). Faith accepts Christ’s righteousness applied on our behalf. This is God’s way, and is therefore faith’s way.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

Faith always accepts God’s provision, no matter how strange and pointless it may seem to human understanding.

What do you think happened to any Israelite household that did not accept God’s provision of protection?  They experienced death.

How many of us are experiencing death because we are unwilling to believe and act on it?

  • Our finances are dying because of your lack of action.
  • Our relationships are dying because of your lack of action to forgive and take the next step of reconciliation.
  • Our spiritual man is dying because you are not willing to seek and pursue God and give up the pleasures and plenty of this world.

Our victory awaits, our breakthrough is waiting for us to believe God and act in accordance to His Word.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

God I desire the fulfillment of your will and purposes in my life.  I desire to walk fully in your promises, so Lord I will press through for the breakthrough.  Regardless of all the reasons why your commands seem pointless and irrational, I will pursue them.  No excuses – my breakthrough awaits and I will not stop halfway. 

-Pastor Gary
 
Join the discussion by clicking here

Supplemental Reading: Psalm 149



January 26 – Faith Rejects the World’s Pressure

 

70 Hour prayer vigil begins today. http://signup.com/go/FQ69AW

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of intercessory worship at the church.

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:27  By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

Observation

The first time he left Egypt, Moses was fleeing from the pharaoh, who wanted to kill him for slaying the Egyptian slavemaster (Ex. 2:15). The second time he left Egypt, another pharaoh wanted to keep Moses from taking the children of Israel with him. In both cases he was in trouble.

In addition to his problems with the kings, Moses faced other pressures. For one thing, he was under pressure to preserve the prestige, pleasure, and plenty that have already been discussed. The prospects of desert living could not have been very appealing. When he fled for his life, he had no idea that he would marry a shepherdess and tend her father’s sheep for the next forty years in Midian. But at best, he knew life in the desert could not begin to compare with life in Egypt’s royal court.

The greatest pressure Moses faced, however, was fear, because of the wrath of the king. It is the same fear, though perhaps of a different sort and source, that believers may face on occasion. Fear is one of Satan’s most effective, and therefore most used, weapons. We are afraid of being thought different, or of losing our job, reputation, or popularity. We are afraid of criticism, often from people that we do not even respect.

Moses was doubtlessly tempted to fear, but he did not. He left Egypt with full determination to follow a better way.  He did more than simply leave; he turned his back on Egypt and all that it represented. He renounced it permanently. Moses forsook everything to follow the Lord. He was not thwarted or delayed or intimidated by Satan’s fear.

Fear is a great pressure, and all of us are tempted at times to bend when standing for the Lord requires us to say or do something that is unpopular or dangerous. But true faith does not fold under the world’s pressure.

Fear did not work on Moses, at least not when God called him out of Egypt. He knew he had an invisible but powerful means of support, as seeing Him who is unseen. He knew that, no matter what happened, whatever he had to face, he would be held up and strengthened and rewarded. He believed with David,

  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” (Ps. 27:1).

When Moses wanted to leave Egypt the second time and take all the people of Israel with him, he not only met the resistance of the king but of his own people. When he first told them of God’s plan of deliverance, they were thankful (Ex. 4:31). But when Pharaoh made things worse on them every time Moses made a demand, they lost heart and turned against Moses’ leadership (6:9; 14:11-12). Now he had both the king and his own people against him. But he was afraid of neither. He continued to say what God wanted him to say and do what God wanted him to do.

Moses was the kind of man he was because he chose to focus his sights on God rather than on a monarch in Egypt. Yet how many times do we fall apart or back down in face of a much lesser threat. When we are afraid of the world, when we are afraid of what people will say or do, we are exposing ourselves to God’s displeasure and discipline for lack of faith. Faith rejects the world’s pressure, whatever it may be.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

  • Hebrews 4:1-2 (NASB) 1  Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2  For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

If we are going to fear anything let us fear that we will fall short of God’s promises for us and to us.  If we must live fearfully then live in the fearful wonder that God will accomplish His Word to us if we will couple His Word with our faith.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

The Word + Belief + Action = Profit to us

Remember that Belief and Action are the elements of faith.  I will allow God’s Word to profit me because I will act in obedience regarding it and not let the pressure of the world rob me of my victory.
 
 – Pastor Gary
 
To join the discussion click here
 


January 25 – Faith Rejects the World’s Plenty

 

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:26 Considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

Observation

Living in Pharaoh’s palace, Moses had everything material he could have wanted. He had more than enough food, possessions, and money. Discoveries such as the tomb of King Tutankhamen, who lived only a hundred or so years after Moses, have shown us how vastly rich Egypt was at its peak. Moses had access to a great deal of wealth, and likely had much in his own possession. He had all the things the world holds dear. He must have been strongly tempted to hold on to them; but he did not.

Considering involves careful thought, not quick decision. Moses thought through his decision, weighing the pros and cons. He weighed what Egypt had to offer against what God offered. When he reached a conclusion it was well-founded and certain. God’s offer was infinitely superior in every way. In the eyes of the world no reproach (being ridiculed and persecuted) would be worth sacrificing riches for. Yet Moses believed that the worst he could endure for Christ would be more valuable than the best of the world.

Moses suffered reproach for the sake of Jesus Christ, the true Messiah, because he identified with Messiah’s people and purpose. Every believer since Adam’s fall has been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, no matter in what age he has lived. It is also true, therefore, that any believer at any time who has suffered for God’s sake has suffered for Christ’s sake.

God’s reward is always greater than the world’s.

  • “God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

He supplies according to His riches, not just out of them. A millionaire who gives ten dollars to help someone in need is giving out of his riches but not according to them. If he gave a hundred thousand dollars, however, he would be giving according to his riches. Moses surely saw the reward of a blessed life, but the emphasis is best seen as being on the eternal reward.

  • “Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked” (Ps. 37:16).

If we work hard and honestly and to God’s glory, and become wealthy in the process, fine. But if we set our minds on getting rich, we have the wrong motivation. If along the way God happens to make us rich, wonderful. If in His wisdom he keeps us poor, also wonderful. It should make us no difference, as long as we are in His will. It made no difference to Moses. For forty years he enjoyed the riches of Egypt. For the rest of his life, he forsook them, because they interfered with his obedience to God and would have prevented his receiving immeasurably greater riches when it came time for eternal rewards.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

Remembering the words of an old hymn I used to sing as a kid. It was written by a Swedish royal named Prince Oscar who relinquished his title to marry a woman who had influenced his belief in God. After his abdication he gave his energy to serving Christ. Here are the words of the hymn…

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Refrain:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

Life Application

What will I do about it?

God I will pursue you more than the things of this world. Help me to keep my eyes on you because as I stay focused on you the things of this world begin to dim in comparison to your glory.

-Pastor Gary

To join the discussion click here

Supplemental Reading: Psalm 147



January 24 – Faith Rejects the World’s Plenty

 

Scripture

  • Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.

Observation

No one needs to be convinced that sin is often fun. It can feed our pride, satisfy physical desires and appetites, and offer many other pleasures. But it has two characteristics that the world does not notice: it is always evil and it is always passing. And, no matter how temporarily satisfying it may be, its satisfaction is destined to fade. It has no good in it and it can bring no good to us, to anyone else, or to God. Any seeming good is both deceptive and fleeting.

Sometimes we wonder why unbelievers, worldly people, the grossly immoral, and sometimes even criminals seem to get along so well. They are successful, famous, wealthy, healthy-well-off in practically every way. On the other hand, many of God’s most faithful saints are poor, sickly, unsuccessful in business, and ridiculed. We want to ask with Job,

  • “Why do the wicked still live, continue on, also become very powerful? Their descendants are established with them in their sight, and their offspring before their eyes, their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God on them” (Job 21:7-9)

We want to plead with Jeremiah,

  • “Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?” (Jer. 12:1).

Job answers the question when he says, “And suddenly they go down to Sheol” (21:13). They die and it is all over, except for judgment. They enjoy and get by with sin for a while, but only for a while. If we take James seriously, we will not envy the wicked, of whom he writes,

  • “You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you” (James 5:5-6).

But he precedes these comments with,

  • “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (5:1-3).

The wicked are going to inherit a “treasure” of judgment they do not expect. As Paul says in Romans 2:5-6, they are piling up wrath that will break loose in the day of divine judgment.

Moses knew God was calling him to give his life for his people. He had a choice. He could have obeyed or disobeyed. Disobeying had many attractions. Among other things, it would have been a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable in the short run. It is hard enough to stop seeking worldly things. It is even harder to give them up once we have them, and Moses had a great many of them by the time he was forty. We have no reason to believe that he was ever involved in any immoral practices, but he enjoyed the pleasures of an extremely comfortable life. He had the best food, the best living quarters, the best recreation, the best of everything that his age could provide. These were not sins in themselves. Joseph had enjoyed the same pleasures in the same place, while being perfectly obedient to God. But they would have been sin for Moses, had he decided to stay in the Egyptian court, and he forsook them for the sake of God’s call. He made a conscious choice to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. This was an act of faith. He believed that if He did what God wanted, he would be immeasurably better off in the end.

Understanding

What is God saying to me?

Faith, as one author puts it, is a long obedience in the same direction. We often feel that this life here on earth is long, but it needs to be compared with eternity. I know that this is difficult to do – think about eternity when the now is right here in our face – but the walk of faith requires that we have a long view.

God has called us all to holiness. He has called us to come apart from sin. We find it difficult because the world’s ways are pleasurable and fun and it seems like we are missing out. Obedience is not always easy, but in the end sin is much, much harder.

God’s way is not only for His own honor but for our own good. Satan’s way is for his honor and for our harm.

Life Application

What will I do about it?

Lord I’m keeping my eyes on You, following you. Let me not become so caught up and distracted by the prestige and pleasure of this world to the detriment of what you have for me in eternity.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV) 9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–

-Pastor Gary

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Supplemental Reading: Psalm 146