Something Beautiful

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Today’s Reading: Genesis 29:16-30

When morning came, there was Leah! So he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Wasn’t it for Rachel that I worked for you? Why have you deceived me?”

Genesis 29:25

Reflection: God works even in the midst of calamity. The story of Jacob includes a manipulative uncle, 14 years of servant labor, and two sisters, one unwanted and the other left unmarried for seven years. Jacob is the grandson of Abraham, destined to be blessed by God according to the covenant God made with Abraham. Yet, the problems in this family can be immediately detected, and the marriage of Jacob to two sisters who are competing for his attention bring strife and pain to all involved. Strained relationships between Laban and the rest of his family will also manifest later on in their story. But even in the midst of these struggles, God brings together blessing and purpose in their lives.

It is through Jacob and his family that the famous Twelve Tribes of Israel are established. And it is through Leah, the unwanted wife, that God brings forth many sons for Jacob including Levi- whose descendants become the priestly people of Israel- and Judah- whose line extends to Jesus the Messiah. While the presence of greed, deceit and neglect of people continue to cause destruction and hardship, no situation ever becomes too far gone for God to redeem.

There is always hope in the LORD and His faithfulness to His own. Within the stories of God’s love for His covenant people and His work on the cross through Jesus, as well as His adoption of the faithful into His family, God meets the wickedness of human sin, our sin, and works within it to restore and save what was once lost. In the midst of all trials, even ones we experience by our own hands, when we seek God to take our pains, we can depend on Him to help us, restore us, and bring about something beautiful.

Prayer: LORD, I praise You for Your ability to work all things for Your glory and my good. Thank You for all You have done for my salvation. Thank You for continuing to do a perfect work in me. Help me to see more clearly the work of Your hands in all situations as I draw near to You. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 17; Genesis 29:1-30; Psalm 22

How to Use What We Have

Friday, October 22, 2021

Today’s Reading: Luke 16:1-12

“Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.

Luke 16:10

Reflection: God gives us resources great and small to invest in His Kingdom. In the parable of the shrewd manager, Jesus shows how a dishonest man embodies the approach we should have towards the resources we have.

When a rich man tells his lazy manager to give him an account of what he’s done with his money, the manager, knowing that he will lose his job, makes friends with the rich man’s debtors by settling their accounts with the rich man for less than what they actually owe. He befriends the debtors, knowing that he will be able to seek their help when he is jobless. While his work is dishonest, the manager is commended by the rich man for using his resources to secure his own future.

Like the shrewd manager, we are managers of God’s resources and will one day be called to give an account of how we invested what we’ve been given. The difference is that we are to use what we have been given to fulfill the LORD’s desires. While this includes material resources, it also encompasses our time, relationships, talents, words, actions, community, and more. Like the shrewd manager, we must act now with what we have while we have the chance. Honoring God is not about how much we have to use, but about how much of what we have we are using to glorify Him. We can either invest in the future of God’s Kingdom, or in our own gain, like the shrewd manager. Working for ourselves brings only temporary security, but using our resources for God’s Kingdom grants the assurance that God secures our future through eternity. What would the world look like if every one of us invested what we had towards God’s work? Take inventory of what you have been given to use for God. Be encouraged today to invest it in His Kingdom.

Prayer: Almighty God, You are swift and generous to bless. All that I have is because of You. Thank You for all that You have given for me to use for Your glory. Grant me Your inspiration and strength to invest these blessings back into the cause of Your Kingdom. In Your Son Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 16; Genesis 27:46-28:22; Psalm 21

Victory in Jesus

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Today’s Reading: Psalm 20

Now I know that the Lord gives victory to His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with mighty victories from His right hand.

Psalm 20:6

Reflection: The LORD brings victory to His anointed. King David, the writer of this psalm and the anointed King of Israel, knows better than anyone that God gives mighty victories not by chariots or horses, but by His Holy Name. While all other armies depended on chariots and horses, great military resources which accompanied men into battle, David trusted in God, a far mightier source of power and strength.

David had seen God give him victory and experienced the LORD answering him in days of trouble, remembering him, and granting him the desires of his heart. But David’s declaration of trust in God’s help that we see in this psalm did more than just reveal truth about God’s power. It also prophesied about a much greater victory that God would bring through His Anointed Messiah centuries later.

Through Jesus, we see how the LORD brings ultimate victory to His Anointed. Jesus Christ, God’s Chosen One, has truly brought victory to us all. Because of this victory, we can take heart in days of trouble knowing that Jesus has already overcome the world. We have proof that God remembered us when He gave His only Son to atone for our sins. We can entrust to God the desires of our hearts knowing that as His redeemed, He seeks to do good works in us. Moreover, we can joyfully proclaim Jesus’ Victory over sin and death and rest in it as our own. Take heart as a servant of God seeking to glorify Him today. The LORD has brought victory to His Anointed: Jesus. Whatever your circumstance or situation, because the LORD has brought victory to and through Jesus, you can live in the joy of victory with Him.

Prayer: Almighty God, You have won the ultimate victory. Your power and strength are unmatched. Thank You for seeing my need for a Redeemer and for bringing me Your help through His perfect work. Help me to live today with the reminder of  Your victory at the forefront of my mind. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 15; Genesis 27; Psalm 20

A Great Cost

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Today’s Reading: Luke 14:25-35

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Luke 14:27

Reflection: Every thing of value costs something. Jesus teaches the crowds, as well as us today, that following Him comes at a great cost. He openly tells the cost of following Him so that all His followers are ready to meet those requirements. After all, Jesus says, doesn’t anyone starting a construction project first check to see that the project is within their budget before they break ground? Or doesn’t every good political leader first take inventory of their military resources before deciding to go to war? In varying degrees, both circumstances require thought about what it will cost to move forward. A lot is at stake in these decisions.

Jesus’ demand for commitment was unlike that of other teachers of His time. If Jesus were not God, His requirements would seem outlandish and inappropriate. But because He is God, these requirements makes sense. He guarantees that followers of Him will need to uphold their relationship with Him over all other relationships. They will need to forsake all their own desires for those of the Teacher and Savior. They will need to willingly bear their own cross and relinquish all earthly things for Jesus’ sake.

Following Jesus begins with accepting His invitation into a relationship with Him, but does not stop there. It is a choice that we are called to continually make with how we invest our time, talent, and treasure. This commitment of great price costs us everything only because it is worth everything. Every thing of value costs something. What would you exchange for the blessing of following the God of the Universe into eternity?

Prayer: Loving God, You are faithful to bless and so patient with us as we grow by Your Spirit. Thank You for Your joy which comes from seeking after Your righteousness, even when we fall short. Thank You for Your call to us to follow You. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 14:25-35; Genesis 26; Psalm 19

Why Pray?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Today’s Reading: Genesis 24:10-27

Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah—daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor—coming with a jug on her shoulder.

Genesis 24:15

Reflection: At his master’s will, Abraham’s servant travels roughly 900 miles to Abraham’s hometown to find a bride for Isaac. Immediately after arriving in the town, he prays to God for guidance and provision and then begins his search. Unbeknownst to him, Rebekah, God’s answer to prayer, is already approaching him before he is finished praying. But more time will pass before the servant realizes what God has provided.

God works in mysterious ways. In the case of Abraham’s servant, He meets needs even before they are uttered to Him. It is because he prays to God that the servant is able to realizes God answers prayer.

If God knows our needs before we utter them, why pray anyway? Prayer is not only a way to communicate our needs to God, but also an opportunity for us to entrust God with those needs. By prayer we build a relationship of trust with a trustworthy God. In prayer, we grow closer to God and gain confidence in His faithfulness. We become less focused on ourselves and more focused on how He is working. Just as the servant showed through prayer that He believed God could meet his need, we can also go to God with all of our needs knowing that He will provide according to His Will.

Prayer: God, You are omniscient and wise. You are gracious to bless. Thank You for all of the ways You hear our prayers and answer them. Draw us nearer to You, LORD, as we continually seek You in prayer. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 13:18-35; Genesis 24; Psalm 17

Responding in Praise

Monday, October 18, 2021

Today’s Reading: Luke 13:10-17

Then He laid His hands on her, and instantly she was restored and began to glorify God.

Luke 13:13

Reflection: Through this miracle, Jesus displays His authority and power over demons, sickness, and disease. A woman who is disabled by a spirit for years is finally free. For almost 20 years, this woman would have experienced both a constant physical toll on her body, as well as the shame of being ostracized by those around her. The Jews at that time believed that generational and present sins could result in physical disabilities. Therefore, the crippled, lame, blind, and long-term ill were believed to have either sinned themselves or had parents who sinned. This woman would have lived a life of not only disability, but loneliness.

By casting the demon out of this woman, Jesus restores not only her spiritual well-being and physical health, but also a place in the community. She is able to live a completely different life because Jesus draws near to her. In response to all that Jesus has done for her, the woman glorifies God.

Our praise can also be simply that: a response of gratitude to God. But sometimes, we make things complicated. Like the leader of the synagogue, we can uphold our own standards over God’s desires. We can get so caught up in trying to look good enough for God that we forget about what He truly seeks from us: a heart of praise. Right now, take a moment to remember something that God has done for you. Let your praise be a simple response to what He has done.

Prayer: I praise You, God, for the love that You’ve shown me through Jesus, and for the way that You’ve changed my life through Him. Help me to live today in thankfulness and praise for what You do for me. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 13:1-17; Genesis 23; Psalm 16

Sunday Message: But Wait, There’s More!

October 17, 2021

Today’s Reading: Acts 19:1-10

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

Acts 19:4

Sermon Main Idea: The Church seeks to KNOW God fully as REVEALED in Jesus Christ.

Text Notes:

  • HEARING hearts with incomplete faith find COMPLETION in Christ. (v.1-7)
  • HARDENING hearts with incomplete faith find OPPOSITION to Christ. (v.8-10)

Prayer: LORD God, thank You for continuing to further Your Kingdom, and for the privilege of being able to partake in the work You set before us Your people. Thank You for transforming hearts and minds into Your likeness. Thank You for working miracles. Please help us to continue seeking to know You fully through Your Son. Train and teach us to be a Church which honors You and You alone. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Bible, Luke 13:1-17; Genesis 23; Psalm 16

Perfect Righteousness

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Today’s Reading: Psalm 15

Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain?

Psalm 15:1

Reflection: David asks, “Who is able to draw near to Him, to come into His presence, to abide or live permanently with God?” The tent David refers to is the Tabernacle of God, the portable Temple for God which traveled with the Israelites during the years that they wandered in the wilderness. When approaching God’s Tabernacle, a person would offer a sacrifice, and then be cleansed with water. Even then, only the priests, considered the most holy among the people, were allowed to enter the actual Tent where God dwelt.

David longs to be near to God, not only to draw near to Him, but to stay near to Him. And yet, he acknowledges who is worthy to remain so close to God, Who is Holy: those who are upright in character and speech, those who love their neighbor and hate all that is evil, those who honor God at all times and keep all of their promises, those who are not swayed at all by material gain. Only these people, David says, are the ones who will “never be moved” from God’s presence.

But this creates a problem for us, doesn’t it? Who has ever been this righteous? Who has always done all of these things without failure? While many of us do our best, we all fall vastly short of this standard. Seeing this truth shows us our need for Jesus, who lived in perfect righteousness and exchanged our sins for His perfect work. Only because we believe in Jesus, because we trust in His righteousness to cover us instead of trying to live righteously ourselves, can we be near to God. Our nearness to God is a result of God drawing near to us through His Son. Therefore, we must not trust in our own righteousness. It won’t get us far. Only by relying on the One Who is righteous can we live with the LORD.

Prayer: LORD, I come before You remembering my need for a Savior. Because I know the depth of my sin, I am able to treasure the beauty of Your Cross more fully. Thank You for drawing near to me through Your Son. Thank You for the lengths to went to save me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 12:32-59; Genesis 22; Psalm 15

He Keeps His Promises

Friday, October 15, 2021

Today’s Reading: Genesis 21:1-7

Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him.

Genesis 21:2

Reflection: God fulfills the promise that He made to Abraham, despite Abraham and Sarah’s unbelief. One night, God shows Abraham all of the stars in the sky and promises that his descendants will be just as numerous. But Abraham at the time has no children, and he questions how will provide the way to that promise. On a second occasion, God declares that Abraham will conceive a son with his wife Sarah. Sarah laughs in response. Yet, at 90 years old, she gives birth to her son Isaac.

Nothing is impossible for God. He is faithful to His promises. He works in all circumstances for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, and for His glory. When we are waiting on the promises of God, it is important to consider two points:

  1. Has God actually promised the things that we are waiting for? Sometimes we mistakenly prescribe promises meant for others in Scripture onto ourselves.
  2. Do we believe in the promises that God is promising us? God doesn’t fulfill His promises to us according to our time, but according to His timing. Waiting in hope for the fulfillment of His promises requires confidence that God’s Word is true.

Even if you are unsure of what God has in store for you, be encouraged to live in faith in God’s plan for you. Certainty in Who God says He is helps us to be certain that we can trust in His Word to us. Just as Abraham and Sarah continued in a relationship with God which lead to a life of fullness and purpose, we can also live lives of faith for God’s glory.

Prayer: Loving God, I thank You for Your faithfulness. I thank You that You are working in my life. I pray that the assurance of Who You are strengthens and assures me to live each day in faithfulness to You. In the Name of Your Son Jesus’ I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 12:1-31; Genesis 21; Psalm 14

Seeing the Signs

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Today’s Reading: Luke 11:29-32

“For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.

Luke 11:30

Reflection: During His ministry, Jesus performs signs which point to His authority and power as the Messiah. His works gather large crowds that are hoping see the proof of Jesus as the Messiah they are expecting: a military or political Messiah. But the miraculous signs they witness – healings and casting out of demons – divide the crowds in their understanding of Jesus’ identity. Some go as far as saying that His works are proof that He is of demons and not of God. The proof Jesus gives does not satisfy them because He is not revealing Who the people want Jesus to be.

In response, Jesus speaks to this behavior. Hesays that, just as Jonah had become a sign of God’s redemption and salvation, He will become a greater sign of eternal salvation through His death and resurrection. But even this sign, Jesus says, will not cause the unwilling to believe that He is sent by God. Many who sought after Jesus’ miracles failed to see that the signs were revealing Jesus as someone who was more than they had hoped for: God in human form. Jesus the Messiah was far greater than the Messiah people were expecting. Jesus’ work wouldn’t be to conquer the Roman Empire, but sin and death.

Seeking signs of God’s work in the world is difficult when we place our own expectations upon God. In our search for proof that He is working in the ways we want Him to, we risk seeing what He is actually doing. Our trust in Him helps us to see more clearly His ongoing work around us.

Prayer: Sovereign Lord, Your ways are higher than my ways and Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Thank You for proving over and over again Your unending faithfulness. I know You are at work Lord. As I seek after You, help me to see Your work around me. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Luke 11:29-54; Genesis 20; Psalm 13