Friday, July 22, 2011

Psalm 20:1–2, 4–5

"In times of trouble, may the answer your cry.
  May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
May he send you help from his sanctuary
  and strengthen you from Jerusalem. …
May he grant your heart's desires
  and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
  and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the LORD answer all your prayers."
What a great prayer to pray for yourself and for others in your world! For whom can you pray today, that God would respond to their prayers, keep them safe, send help and strength, grant their hearts' desires, and fulfill their plans?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Genesis 47:15–17

"When the people of Egypt and Canaan ran out of money, all the Egyptians came to Joseph. 'Our money is gone!' they cried. 'But please give us food, or we will die before your very eyes!'
"Joseph replied, 'Since your money is gone, bring me your livestock. I will give you food in exchange for your livestock.' So they brought their livestock to Joseph in exchange for food. In exchange for their horses, flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and donkeys, Joseph provided them with food for another year."
The people asked for a handout, but Joseph would not do that. There must be an exchange: if not of money, then something else of value. Even when the famine persisted and the people had nothing else to offer but their own bodies, Joseph accepted that, and they became slaves. He treated them fairly and well as slaves, but he still required an exchange. Do not give handouts; when people ask for something they need, require something else in exchange.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Matthew 15:10, 19

"Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. 'Listen,' he said, 'and try to understand. … For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.'"
Sin originates in the heart and is manifested in our words and actions. Get your heart right, and right actions and words flow naturally. Trying to simply change or control what we do or say does not work. We will always express what's in our hearts. So if you want something in your life to change, look for the heart matter that is contributing to it. It could be anger; unforgiveness toward others; needing forgiveness from God or others; or believing lies about yourself, God, or life. Ask God to heal the heart issues, and the actions take care of themselves more often than not.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jeremiah 32:40-42

"And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.
'This is what the LORD says: Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them.'"
God repeatedly says here he will do good for his people. We are in this new covenant of grace, in which God's wrath against our sin was satisfied in Jesus' death on the cross. He is changing our hearts so that we can have the kind of relationship with God described here, where we worship him and cling to him. Now is the time when God is totally free to do all the good things he has ever promised in this passage and in the whole of Scripture. This is your truth today. Live in the light of it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Matthew 15:3–8

"Jesus replied, 'And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, "Honor your father and mother," and "Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death." But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, "Sorry, I can't help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you." In this way, you say they don't need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."'"
Jesus was against religion, insofar as it is man-made. We are to obey God, not make up our own rules, no matter how pious. It may sound spiritual to say, "I'll give this money to God rather than use it to care for my parents," but that is not what God commands. At the bottom of it all, it's a matter of where your heart is. Are you living for the Lord and from the heart? Is your heart close to God? God always looks at the heart. Everything is a heart issue.