In chapter 8 of Paul’s words to the Romans, we can find great encouragement. The blessings described there are not for everyone, but come to “them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:1) By living this way we are not promised a perfect life or a life without some struggles, but we are promised that all things will work together for good. (8:28) When things are not going our way and we start to doubt, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) It is up to us to study His word, to believe it, and to follow it. If we do our part, Paul explains how nothing can keep us from His blessings. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39)
Today’s reading: Romans 7-8
As a prophet of God, Isaiah was able to share God’s words with others. Some of the prophecies foretold of God’s wrath that was to come. “The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.” (Isa 19:1) There is no person today who can prophesy, but each of us can know and share words from God. By His providence, the inspired Word has been preserved for our benefit. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2Timothy 3:16) We can also know that God’s wrath still exists today for those who do not heed these instructions. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” (Rom 1:18)
Today’s reading: Isaiah 18-22
Having good friends is a blessing during times of need. One of Job’s friends, Bildad, came to talk to Job during his suffering. Instead of encouraging and helping him, Bildad judged and accused Job. “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind?” (Job 8:2) Bildad made an assumption that Job was not telling the full truth about his life. We know parts of Job’s story that Bildad could not know because we have the inspired words of God. Making assumptions like Bildad is something easy to do when we do not have the full story. Only God knows the full story.
Today’s reading: Job 7-8
Right now the big thing in news media is anything going on with the US president. Of all the varied levels of power that men may have in government, there is one who has power over all. It’s not anyone who was elected by vote. David’s words are a great reminder even today for a nation that sees itself as the greatest on earth. “Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men!” (Psalms 9:20) No matter what happens with any vote or any government policies or laws, we should not worry because God is and will always be in control. “He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away.” (Job 12:23)
Today’s reading: Psalms 9-11
Joshua was guided by God to assign the land in Canaan to the Israelites. Each of the twelve tribes were given an allotment of land. The children of Joseph were separated into two; the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph’s descendants complained to Joshua and said they should be allotted more land. (Joshua 17:14) Their reason was that they were a “great people”. Joshua’s response was perfect. He told them if they were great, then they had the power to go clear all the trees off their land and then they would have more usable land. (v. 15) This was a land promised and given to the Israelites by God. God by His providence had given each group an assigned area. These people knew this, but they still wanted something better. Each of us has been blessed much more than we deserve, but are we ever guilty of being like the descendants of Joseph? Joshua’s answer is still fitting today. Our life and everything in it is from God. If we feel like we deserve more, maybe we need to “clear the trees”.
Today’s reading: Joshua 16-20
We think of Abraham as a man of great faith. When he was still known as Abram, God had already promised him great things: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen 12:2-3) Then just a few verses down we read of Abram deciding to take things into his own hands. He is afraid of what the Egyptians might do to him so he plans to deceive them by saying Sarai is his sister. There was some truth in that statement, (Gen 20:12) but his intentions were to hide the truth and imply she was not his wife. A couple of lessons we can learn from this situation. Even with a little bit of truth mixed in, when the intent is to deceive, it is still a lie. The Bible tells us how God feels about telling lies (Proverbs 6:16-19). Another lesson to learn is that we should always trust God and His plans. No matter how great a man’s plan may seem, it is nothing in comparison to God’s plan. We are told that even “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Today’s reading: Genesis 12-15
Chapters 8 and 9 of the book of Matthew contain several examples of different levels of faith. In one of them a centurion came to Jesus asking for healing of one of his servants. Jesus offered to go to the servant, but the centurion did not feel worthy of Jesus’ presence in his home. He asked Jesus to make the servant well by just speaking. Jesus complimented the centurion’s faith and replied positively. “And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” (Matt 8:13) In another situation, Jesus was asleep on a ship with some of His disciples. When a storm came upon them, they woke Jesus because they were scared that they would die. He was not impressed with the level faith of this group and replied, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” After He calmed the storm they were extremely impressed with His power. They probably had more faith in Him after this experience. Do you have faith like the centurion or are you like the disciples in the ship and require miraculous proof?
Today’s reading: Matthew 8-10
Twice in Romans chapter 6 Paul rhetorically questions if it is acceptable for us to continue in sin and let grace take care of it. (vs. 1, 15) Both times he answers his own question with “God forbid”. In between those two questions he describes how we are connected with that saving power. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3) And once we have made that connection, “we also should walk in newness of life.” (vs. 4) The tie between this new life and Paul’s rhetorical question is found in verse 6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Today’s reading: Romans 5-6
Isaiah chapter 12 contains great words of praise of our Heavenly Father. Verse 2 reads, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” Similar words are found in a song that Moses and the Israelites sang after God had saved them from the Egyptians by the parting of the Red Sea. “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (Exodus 15:2) The words of these two verses are still perfectly fitting for us today, He continues to be our strength, our song and our salvation!
Today’s reading: Isaiah 12-17
Job was having to endure much suffering and needed his friends to be by his side. Instead of them comforting and encouraging him, they did just the opposite. In the previous chapter, Eliphaz had accused Job of being impatient and said that he was getting punished based on the sins that he had committed. At this point in his life Job did not have much left other than his friends. Proverbs 18:24 tells us that “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” This is not the kind of friend that Job had in Eliphaz. Job’s words about this friend were pretty strong: “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” (Job 6:14) The other part to Proverbs 18:24 reminds us that a friendship takes two: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.”
Today’s reading: Job 5-6