Re:Verse reading–Acts 12:1-19 (day six)
“[The gate] It opened for them of its own accord,…” Acts 12:10b
God is in the details. Can you imagine if Peter were left to pick the lock of the gate, after God had done everything else? Being Peter he probably could have figured it out, but that is not how God works. I like to think that this is a small way of God saying, “I do ALL of the rescuing; Peter you have no part in this other than to receive.”
There is no part in our own rescue story that was left to us to figure out; God did it all, even to the smallest detail. It is also a great reminder that God is in the daily details of the obstacles we face.
There is no gate he cannot open, or keep closed.
“…because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”-Saul, 1 Samuel 15:24
Samuel 15 is a window into Saul’s soul; we see his truest motivations. In this account we discover what motivates Saul, the praise of men. (1 Samuel 15:17,24) Saul loves the praise of men more than he loves the praise of God, so he skirted obeying God fully because it would have put him out of favor with the people. The irony is, the people clamored for a king to lead them, and now the king was being led by the people.
Here is a good question for us to ponder:
How do you know when you prefer the praise of men more than the praise of God? What are the signs?
Saul had convinced himself (and tried to convince Samuel) that he had obeyed God, and even planned to use the spoils for a “good” thing, a sacrifice to God. Do we ever do the same thing? I’m not sure if God delights in all the “good” things we do, if we fail to obey him in what he has commanded.
The Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” 1 Samuel 8:22
Make no mistake, the people’s desire for a king was a rejection of God’s leadership, and yet God told Samuel to obey their voice. God did not acquiesce because having a sinful earthly king was a brilliant idea; it was not! God, allowed Samuel to obey their voice because providentially it would lead to great sorrow and ultimately a longing for a purely noble and righteous king. He said “yes” to their request because it would point to their desperate need for an infinitely better king that would be fulfilled in Jesus.
Sometimes when God says “yes” to our persistent requests, he does so only so he can show us what (or who) we really need, it’s just that sometimes we have to see it through great sorrow that leads to longing. (Kind of like the Prodigal Son.)
Re:Verse reading–1 Samuel 1 (day six)
“…and the Lord remembered her.” 1 Samuel 1:19
It can be hard to conceive of how God can hear the pleas of his people from all over the world. This verse gives us a clue. God is an active listener, not passive. This means we pray to a person. Infinite, eternal, bigger-than-the universe, beyond-comprehension, holy, yes, but nonetheless, personal and close. We don’t pray to an aloof supercomputer.
Why does this matter? Because it serves as a good reminder to never be indifferent to prayer, because God isn’t. We have a God who is there. A God who listens. A God who remembers.
Re:Verse reading—Acts 16:11-34 (day three)
“The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Jesus said that his Father is always working. He also said he had “other sheep that are not of this sheep pen” and that “they too will listen to my voice.” Just as with Lydia, who was already seeking the truth and had become convinced that God was where truth would come from if it would come, God is engaging people in ways that we do not know. God has granted human beings a great deal of power—more than we probably realize—and we can employ that power to cultivate and nurture his work if we want. We would be surprised to see the extent of God’s work in the world, but then again, our surprise might indicate how little we’ve been expecting it. So, what can you nurture today?
Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 12:4-13, 27-31 (day six)
The Holy Spirit is the activity of God personified. He hovers over the deep, He reveals, He teaches, He reminds, He heals, He brings life where there was none, He bears fruit, He gives gifts; where he moves things turn from black and white to vivid color. 1 Corinthians 12 is the Holy Spirit in theory; Acts is the Holy Spirit in action.
And here is another truth, as is true of Jesus, the Holy Spirit’s aim is to glorify God. He desires to draw attention to the beauty, majesty, goodness and joy of God in all His activity, especially in the life of God’s church. That is why He gives us gifts. His gifts are the other-worldly activity of God in us and through us to draw the world’s attention to the glory of God in the Gospel.
You can grieve the Holy Spirit; you can’t render Him dormant. Do this today: invite the Father to show you where the Holy Spirit is at work in your life; ask Him to show you the Spirit’s gifts.
Re:Verse reading–2 Samuel 9 (day six)
Where did David find the power to be kind? Well, he was king, he had the ability, the resources, and the will to extend kindness to anyone he chose, even to an enemy. You are no king or queen, but do you have the power to be kind? Yes, you do. As David drew from his kingly position, so you too, Christian, draw from your royal position. We are adopted heirs to the Kingdom of God, sons and daughters of the King. We muster kindness not from broken cisterns, but from the infinitely deep wells of the kindness of God. Because of who we are we too have the ability, the resources, and the will to extend kindness, even to the least likely of people.
When you drink deeply of the kindness of God as a child of God, you can’t help but extend kindness to others.
Re:Verse reading–Genesis 4:1-16; 25-26 (day six)
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7
The antidote to temptation is worship. Is that not what God is teaching Cain? What must Cain do well? It was not a matter of the physical offering, but rather a matter of the heart. “Cain, be careful. If your heart is not in the right place, then sin will be crouching at the door.” What God asks of Cain, he also asks of us, genuine delight in giving of our worship. And where there is sincere worship, there is no room for temptation. That is what God was teaching Cain…and us.
Re:Verse reading–Genesis 3:1-7 (day six)
Becoming like God was not what they expected. Yes, their eyes were opened, but it did not have the desired affect. From the very first bite, it was not goodness they would enjoy, but despair, shame, and separation; they had never known such things. It was a bitter concoction.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to him, and bad when it turns from him.” (The Great Divorce) When we aim for good apart from God, we aim for nothing. It’s a ruse, a goodness charade. We convince ourselves that surely what we want is good until the game is up and discover it isn’t good at all. Adam and Eve discovered that turning from God to find their own good resulted in them being alone, from God and one another. The charade was up.
Re: Verse reading–Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25 (day six)
Then God said, “I now give you…” Genesis 1:29
It is no small thing, but it can be easily overlooked. God only addresses humankind with the second person pronoun, “you.” Not with any other creature, but Adam and then Eve, does God speak directly; later He will even issue His first command. This is so profound. We are distinct from all creation because we were made for the divine relationship; we were made to know and be known.
Consider this for a moment, there is no other created thing that hears God’s voice but humankind. When God said, “you” for the first time, Adam and Eve perceived it and understood it. They related to God; they knew Him. We were created to listen to God’s voice, to walk with Him in the garden, to truly know Him. Jesus declared to us that knowing God is the essence of eternal life. (John 17:3)
Are YOU listening?