~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Job 34:1-36:33 ~ 2 Corinthians 4:1-12
Psalm 44:1-8 ~ Proverbs 22:10-12
Old Testament - Elihu continues his strong discourse from yesterday! There is a lot of good stuff in his words today. Chapter 34 verse 12 is awesome - "There is no truer statement than this: God will not do wrong. The Almighty cannot twist justice." I pray you believe this verse to be very true...? In chapter 35 the beginning of verse 26 really stood out to me - "Look, God is exalted beyond what we can understand." This is a powerful verse to meditate upon. It is so true! Certainly in this life we can know many things about God. We can read God's Words in the Bible. We can surrender our lives to God's perfect Son, Jesus. We can allow God's Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. And yet, even after all of this, isn't God still exalted beyond what we can understand? This is beautiful to think about. Beautiful to know. We will not fully understand God this side of heaven. But I do think we can certainly begin to know more and more about God and His holy love and righteousness and grace as we go through our lives. God's glory is so immense that we have a lifetime of adventure before us as we learn and experience more and more of God's glory. And then, as we pass on to the other side of this life, there is an eternity with God! The God of all glory. Who is exalted beyond what we can fully understand this side of heaven. Preach it Elihu!
New Testament - I love Second Corinthians chapter 4 verse 1 today. In fact, if there is nothing else you remember from today's readings I hope you will remember the last 4 words of this verse always - "And so, since God in his mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up." We never give up. That is powerful for each of us to remember. Why? Because we will have good and bad days. Days when we are happy. Days when we might be feeling sad. And there will be days when we make mistakes. When we will stumble. When we will fall. But you know what has often gotten me through days like those? This simple prayer or statement or something that fortunately comes into my mind - "I'm not giving up!" We shouldn't say this as justification for our falling short of God's plan for our life. But, when we do fall short, I have found it helpful. Or, if I haven't fallen short, but bad stuff is happening to me, I say it. And I don't say it just to myself - as if my own will power will get me through the tough times. I say it to God. I say it really as a prayer. I say it almost as a statement against the devil, who would love nothing more than for us to give up. The devil would love it if we stumbled and stayed on the ground. If we decided this Christianity thing was just not for us. But you know what - don't give up! When times are tough. When you stumble, pray it to God - "I'm not giving up." Tell it to yourself. We're not giving up! We're never giving up.... (go frog!) :)
Verse 7 today is indeed a wonderful reminder that we humans are but jars of clay - "But this precious treasure--this light and power that now shine within us--is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.'" We really do have very fragile bodies. They are wonderful! But they are fragile. They break. They will die. As one writer puts it, "our condition is terminal." And it's true. This side of heaven, our bodies will eventually wear out. But - as Paul tells us in this verse - there is light and power that shines within us when we are in relationship with Jesus! The Holy Spirit indwells our earthen vessels. Our jars of clay. And hopefully we and others recognize that the glory within us is not our own. It is of God. And it is a glory that is available to anyone. Free of charge. It is grace and it beckons us to receive God's glory in our jars of clay so that we will live eternally in heavenly bodies. But for now, we are simply in the hands of the Potter...
Tangent alert... :) - Since we're on the subject of "jars of clay" here, I hope you don't mind a quick shout out to the Christian band Jars of Clay! Any Jars fans out there? The point of this tangent is not to promote Jars music per se, but actually to promote a great ministry they are involved in (Lead singer Dan Haseltine is on their Board of Directors) that is providing clean water to villages in Africa. It's called Blood:Water Mission and is led by an amazing Executive Director named Jena Lee, who has one of the coolest blogs around about all of her work in Africa. Take a few minutes to explore Blood:Water Mission's website at this link. And then check out Jena's travel blog at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 44 verse 3 is a wise statement about where the Israelites and our true strength and victory in life comes from - "They did not conquer the land with their swords; it was not their own strength that gave them victory. It was by your mighty power that they succeeded; it was because you favored them and smiled on them." As you look back on your life and at the good things that have happened to you, do you think that these things occurred because of your own power or work alone? Or, do you think it is possible that God's hand was blessing your life through all of those good things - even if maybe you did not notice God was there at the time?
Proverbs - Proverbs 22 verse 12 is convicting - "The LORD preserves knowledge, but he ruins the plans of the deceitful." This Proverb reminds me that we truly need to examine our motives. Why do we do what we do? Why do we give? Why do we love? Why do we volunteer? And this list goes on. And I think we need to continually pray that we are doing what we do for pure motives. Not for any hidden agendas. Let us not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. Because, if we are acting with hidden agendas - selfish motives - it is deceitful. Deceitful to others and deceitful to ourselves. We may be tricking ourselves into thinking we are doing something for pure motives when truly there is a selfish agenda in the shadows. God's grace and love and knowledge can of course heal us of our impure motives. And this indeed may be a process over the course of our lifetime. I guess this Proverb jumped out at me because I am realizing that there are times when I do not act with pure motives - particularly when it comes to doing something that on the surface looks good. I am unfortunately oftentimes subconsciously looking for some glory. And ultimately, I know that selfish plans will fail. They will be ruined. How about you? Why do you do what you do? Why do you give? Why do you love? Why do you volunteer? Is it all for the glory of God? Or is there any hint of wanting your own glory?
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!