Ed Mathews uses Haggai 1.12 today in his devotional to launch a meditation on fear. Besides appreciating the context of the passage, he says:
Fear as awe. The religious sense of fear—or awe—is a reverence for God. The fear of the Lord is a recognition of His sovereignty. It is the beginning of “knowledge,” Proverbs 1:7. It is an understanding of Jehovah as the foundation of “a disciplined and prudent life,” Proverbs 1:3. To fear Him means to reject every competing deity. It means to serve the Lord only, Deuteronomy 6:13. Awe for God is expressed by walking in all His ways, in serving Him with an undivided heart, Deuteronomy 10:12,13.
How can I cultivate my fear of God? What truths about the Lord, promises from him, or actions of his can help me develop my reverence for the one true God?
From Deborah’s song Ed M. takes today’s devotional, Judges 5.23.
It is sad when God is ignored, when people turn a deaf ear, Matthew 23:37. They put other things ahead of the Lord. With calloused disregard, they excuse themselves. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” they ask, Genesis 4:9. As a result, the minority carried the load.
Focus question: Am I part of the inactive majority? If a part of the load-carrying minority, do I perform my work with resentment or bad feelings?
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?
Last night as I bedded down, I read three chapters of the Bible, one of them 3 John. Imagine my pleasant surprise to read this morning Ed M.’s devotional thought for June 3 on 3 John 6. Every saint ought to read this one-page meditation. (I recommend the entire yearly work.) Among other things, he wrote,
Christian obligation. Gaius gave travel assistance to some fellow believers (though they were “strangers” to him), III John 5. These itinerant preachers had mentioned his goodness while visiting John, III John 3. So the venerable apostle asks Gaius for another favor. “Send them on their way” in a manner that God would approve, III John 6. These traveling evangelists were worthy of such help because “it was for the sake of the Name that they went out,” III John 7. Christians have an obligation to underwrite the work of those who minister the word, I Corinthians 9:7-12a.
Why cannot every church help every missionary who seeks support, with some amount, at least? (The reason why not: they’re spending their monies elsewhere, mostly on themselves.)
Focus question: Am I going, letting go, or helping to go?
Textual note: NLT translates “brothers” as “traveling teachers,” vv. 3, 5, 10. Quite interpretative, but they were indeed traveling evangelists, what we today call missionaries.
Ed M. gets behind a prophet’s eyeballs with Habakkuk 2.6 as his main text today.
The prophet was at a critical juncture. He staggered at the prospect of continual cruelty. How long, he sighed, will the interminable plundering of ruthless men go on? They seem to do their mischief with impunity, Habakkuk 2:6. Does God care?
What questions do ask in the face of long-term injustice? What answers do you find? What does this say about God?
It’s a hard life! Hard for the rich to be saved! Ed. M’s devotional lists three errors of those with “full wallets and empty hearts.” Then he says,
The elite are prone to oppress the poor, Amos 2:6,7. They plot against those who are innocent, who cannot resist their devious schemes, James 5:6. Wealth has always been a cruel master (though few of the wealthy recognize the danger). Everyone should pray for deliverance from the sin of greed. The consequences of self-indulgence are certain. Therefore, take note. Beware! The day of judgment is coming.
Focus question: How well or poorly do you use money? Are you rich toward God? Are you selfish with your possessions?
A beautiful thought today in Ed M.’s devotional, from 1 Samuel 23.16, along with this prayer.
Lord God, everyone has moments of despair. When life closes in on me, send a friend. When life closes in on someone else, send me. In Jesus, the greatest friend of all, Amen.
Focus question: When despair approaches, do you tend to shut yourself off from others, or ask God to send a friend? Are you a friend to those in despair?
Ed M. encourages us today in his devotional.
Everyone is influenced by interests, shaped by motives. Church leaders can use their power to push their opinions on others. Church members can use pressure to get their way. “Selfish ambition” is part of the “sinful nature” of human beings, Galatians 5:19,20. Thankfully, in spite of these warts and wrinkles, “Christ is preached.” That does not justify the push and shove of Church politics. It merely gives hope to the faithful in times of discouraging discord.
Focus question: How can you examine your motives, in order to purify them? How to recognize selfish ambition when it appears in your heart?
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?
So yesterday in my Bible schedule (following Grant Horner’s system), I read James 2. Then today Ed M.’s devotional speaks of treating everyone equally, based on 1 Sam 30.24.
The principle of equality must be maintained. “All will share alike” is a watchword in the kingdom of heaven. Every member of the Church is “baptized by one Spirit into one body,” I Corinthians 12:12,13. Endowed with a diversity of functions, all members contribute to the same purpose.
Focus question: What gift do you have in the body of Christ? What gift do you desire? Why? What does your desire say about your motivations?