March 23, 2018 | Mark and Scott McAndrew
I Corinthians 9-10 | Sunday: 1 Corinthians 9 speaks of Paul’s passionate evangelism. He is willing to bend his preferences toward the unbelievers he is around in order to open up a clear path for the gospel.
1 Corinthians 10 warns us to “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (v 12-13).
Paul uses the story of the nation of Israel in the wilderness wandering as an example of people who began well but ended poorly.
Genesis 48-50 | Monday: Genesis 50:20 is very significant. Joseph says to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” For a great 30 second summary of the meaning of this verse in context, see here.
For an NAC sermon on Genesis 50, see here.
I Samuel 11-15 | Tuesday: 1 Samuel 11-15 tells the story of Saul’s downward spiral toward losing his dynasty. Instead of his son Jonathan becoming king in his place, he learns that the kingdom will be taken from his lineage and given to another – namely, David.
This shows us that, along with Sunday’s reading, that we can start off well and end poorly. Read Saul’s story as an example of what not to do ourselves.
Psalms 36-38 | Wednesday: Tim Keller comments on Psalm 36 by telling us that:
“Fearing God (verse 1) is not mere belief in him. It is to be so filled with joyful awe before the magnificence of God that we tremble at the privilege of knowing, serving, and pleasing him. Sin shrugs at God. It’s essence is failing to believe not that he exists but that he matters. This attitude is deadly.
Fear of God and self-understanding grow or diminish together. Indifference toward God is a form of self-conceit (verse 2) and self-deception (verse 2). To feel no need for God is to be out of touch with reality—such people have ‘ceased to be wise’ (verse 3). What starts as mere overconfidence can grow into dishonesty and cruelty (verse 4). Sin is spiritual cancer.”
“Fretting is a common activity of our age. It is composed of worry, resentment, jealousy, and self-pity. It is dominant online. It chews us up inside while accomplishing nothing. David gives three practical remedies. Look forward (verse 2)—those whose main happiness is found in this world are living on borrowed time. Look upward (verses 3-5)—neither repress nor vent your frustrations but redirect them to God. Leave your burdens in his hand (‘commit’) and learn to find your heart’s deepest desires in who he is and what he has done (‘delight’). Finally, get busy with the things that must be done—’do good’ (verse 3).
“Approach, my soul, the mercy seat, where Jesus answers prayer; there humbly fall before His feet, for none can perish there. Bowed down beneath a load of sin, by Satan sorely pressed, by war without and fears within, I come to Thee for rest.”
“The last speech from Job’s ‘miserable comforters’ is that of Bildad (Job 25), and it is pathetically short because even he now recognizes that he has nothing new to say, and neither do his friends. Job’s answer is long and complex (chaps. 26—31), as if he is determined to drive his friends into silence. Some of it is mere review.
The opening chapter (Job 26) finds Job mocking these ‘comforters’ for their callousness, the sterility of their counsel in the face of suffering like Job’s. It also finds him agreeing with them regarding God’s unfathomable power.
After a breathtaking review of God’s powerful deeds, Job concludes, ‘And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power’ (26:14). While the ‘comforters’ charge Job with reducing God to impotence, Job so insists on God’s transcendent power that he entertains the view that God is distant.”
Jeremiah 1-6 | Friday: Jeremiah spends most of these first six chapters describing the sin of Israel as a kind of spiritual adultery. Sin is trying to find pleasure/satisfaction in anything other than God or in anything divorced from God. The prophet gives a classic definition of evil in 2:12-13:
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
How is this understanding of evil somewhat surprising? Think through the implications of this passage as it relates to evil in your life.
Mark 5-6 | Saturday: Mark 5 tells the story of Jesus casting out many demons from a man who: “lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had strength to subdue him.”
Toward the end of this story in Mark 5 the text says:
“As he (Jesus) was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.”
Some questions to consider in light of God’s mercy and grace towards us as we think through this passage, would be these:
When was the last time that we told someone how much the Lord has done for us? When was the last time we told someone about God’s mercy to us? Charles Spurgeon would remind us:
“If Jesus has done great things for you do not keep it to yourself…be ever ready to speak of it, till all men shall know what Christ can do.”
If we haven’t talked about God’s mercy and His grace towards us, it might be that in some sense we have lost the wonder and awe of God’s mercy and grace. I love this story that Barbara Hughes tells:
“I will never forget the day fifteen years ago when a young woman named Carol who had received Christ as Savior only a few weeks earlier came to Bible study for the second time. She sat, with her borrowed Bible in her hand, in a circle of women who were well-versed in the Scriptures. Carol quietly listened as the study questions were answered.
When there was a lull in the conversation, Carol said with great enthusiasm, “I found the most wonderful verse last night!” All those Christian women turned their attention to this baby believer.
Slowly and reverently she began to read:
‘For God . . . so loved . . . the world . . . that He . . . gave . . . His one . . . and only . . . Son . . . that whoever . . . believes . . . in him . . . shall not perish . . . but have eternal life.’
The quiet in the room was palpable. She was reading John 3:16—a verse many believers memorize from childhood and can prattle off in seconds—but she was reading it as it should be read, as if each word were a holy treasure. Around the circle eyes began to glisten as Carol’s awe of the Gospel laid bare the shame of those of us whose senses had been dulled to its wonder.
Never lose the wonder of the Gospel! Never imagine that you have outgrown it…It ought to be the true center of our living—defining, motivating, and satisfying us.”
“Through the cross and the empty tomb, toward which the entire Gospel of Mark is hurtling, Jesus decisively accomplishes the inauguration of the kingdom of God. The early manifestations of this kingdom, seen in healings, exorcisms, and miracles, anticipate the final and greatest “clinching” of the kingdom: Jesus’ death and resurrection.
There the kingdom of darkness is dealt its deathblow. Victory is secured. The outcome is certain.”