Here’s a sermon waiting to happen.
Isaiah 7.9 is the main text for today’s devotional.
The way of doubt. King Ahaz hesitated. He was overwhelmed by his predicament. When Isaiah prompted him “to ask the Lord…for a sign,” Ahaz refused, Isaiah 7:11,12. Doubt dooms the doubter. It kept the people of God out of the Promised Land, Hebrews 3:16-19. It is the cleverest ploy of the devil, Genesis 3:1. A lack of faith is like a fox in a chicken coop worrying about having enough to eat. The Lord expects more from us than that, Isaiah 7:9b; James 1:5-8.
Focus question: What situations cause us to feel overwhelmed and begin doubting?
These phrases come from today’s Plow New Ground devotional by Ed. M., about Abraham offering his son Isaac in Gen. 22.
- [God] wanted an understanding of who He is more than He wanted burnt offerings, Hosea 6:6.
- Faith is trusting God to provide what He promised.
- We admire [Abraham’s] faith without trying to copy his obedience!
- He sacrificed himself before he put Isaac on the altar, Romans 12:1.
Focus question: How do you show obedience to God above your own desires and emotions?
Respect the limits of life and of the Spirit, O Soul. Some things you can do for other people, but some things they must do for themselves. Each one must carry his own burden. You must carry your own burden as well. No one owes anyone a free lunch. You must develop your own faith. God will use many people in your life in a powerful way. But in the end, each one must assume responsibility for his faith and his direction in life. Be glad in this truth. It means that your peace and joy do not depend upon others, but solely on the Lord Jesus Christ. And do not let others make you the source of their faith, but only in God.
Ed Mathews’s devotional for today, July 27, is a must-read. It challenged and admonished me. It’s one I must come back to often. To quote but a part of it is wrong, but I will include this small paragraph. Please go read all of it.
Waiting for God implies a need, Psalms 123:1,2. It suggests He is sufficient to satisfy our need, Psalms 62:5.
Focus question: What, or who, do you seek? (Heb 11.6). How does the object of your seeking show your willingness to wait?
Who among us is not impatient to receive what we think we need, what we feel we must have? Perhaps because we seek, not God, but something material, some relationship, some accomplishment, upon which we hang our well-being.
Some profess their faith in the obscurity of night, John 3:2. Though, perhaps, excusable at first, such profession cannot be maintained over the long haul. It will either come into the light or die in the dark. The believer must fight the good fight of faith in the presence of many witnesses, I Timothy 6:12. He must “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what is promised,” Hebrews 6:11,12.
—Ed Mathews, Plow New Ground, July 18
Focus question: Before how many witnesses has your faith been fought?
Times are when we must work in the fog, and slog through the mud, having only a general sense of the right direction and little notion of progress.
Tremendous thought today from Ed M., based on Malachi 3.13. In his full page of meditations, he says,
The reluctant say that it is “futile” to serve Him. There is no “gain” in keeping His commands, Malachi 3:14,15. These people believe religion ought to pay big dividends now. It ought to bring great rewards immediately. The general feeling is that folks surely will not serve God for nothing, Job 1:9. In spite of that sentiment, the faithful may live a lifetime without seeing a reward, Hebrews 11:13.
Focus question: When it seems there’s no advantage to faith, what am I thinking?
Ed M. wrote as a part of today’s devotional:
People should bring to Him their daunting perplexities, vexing questions, and impossible situations. He will give them strength to overcome their weakness, II Corinthians 12:9,10. If we would fully trust Him, we could do great things. We could defy all the odds along the way. We could swim the deepest ocean, climb the highest hill, and move the biggest mountain, Matthew 17:20b.
What should you bring to the Lord in faith, for him to solve, accomplish, or multiply? What great thing awaits us to do when we show full trust in him?
Great point by Ron T. in the last line:
Elisabeth, an older woman who looked on her life as one not blessed by God because she had no child (or no children) to raise and nurture. She may not have considered her and her husband (Zacharias) as cursed, but it is more than likely she saw herself and them as not blessed (cf. Deut. 7:14: You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. ESV). She was very much on the Lord’s mind (as was her husband) and she was very much in the Lord’s good graces. It goes to show (teach) that reality as one thinks of it in her life may not be reality at all.
God may change our status, situation, condition, circumstance in a moment, in the blinking of an eye.
Oh, Lord, I believe!