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Once-A-Day Devotional for Men
ZondervanCopyright © 2012 The Livingstone Corporation
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Chapter Onejanuary 1
IS GOD YOUR HUB?
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.
There's this idea floating around that God, church, and other spiritual matters are spokes in the wheel of a person's busy life. People say things like, "Oh, yeah, I go to church" in the same way they'd say, "Oh, yeah, I go to that gym" or "Oh, yeah, I'm on that committee."
But the Bible makes it quite clear that God's desire—and the best way to live life—is not to have God as one spoke on the wheel of your life, but to have him as the hub. Sometimes people compartmentalize their spiritual life, like one of those TV dinners. Your job is in one aluminum compartment, your family in another, and your spiritual life—God—in another. But life works best when you bring God into every area of your life. He can bring change, health, and growth to every aspect of your life—from your job, to your social life, to all your relationships.
In the passage above, the psalmist charges everything to praise God. The earth. The sea. The land. The stars. Trees. Forests. Fields. Everything. All of God's creation—including us—has reason to be joyful because of how good God is.
Take a moment to consider the whole of your life. Does it all belong to God? And more importantly, does it all reflect praise to God? Chances are, you're going to say no. That's OK. Today you can invite God in. Tell him about an area you're having problems with or are worried about. Watch what a difference it makes when God is your hub and not just a spoke on your wheel.
As I consider my life, Lord, I note that you are ...
LOSE THE REINS
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
One of the issues that seem to plague us men today is lack of direction. We encounter so many forks in the road that at times we become paralyzed with indecision. If only God would tell me exactly what to do! If only he would steer me in the right direction!
What we don't realize is that all along God has been quietly teaching us and lovingly counseling us. The problem is, we don't always hear him, and when we do hear, we don't always obey. Getting direction from God is a matter of learning to seek him and trust him in the countless "insignificant" choices of our lives. When our hearts are in the right place, the bigger decisions will not be as difficult to make.
In Psalm 32:9, God goes on to tell us not to be like a horse that can only be guided by a bit and bridle. In directing a horse, the rider must pull on the reins, putting pressure through the bit on the horse's sensitive mouth. It is only by having force applied that a horse will go in the direction the rider wants it to go.
It has been said that we need to give God the reins of our lives. But God doesn't ask us to give him the reins. He only asks that we listen to his voice and follow him in trust.
God, let me hear your voice ...
NO CAN DO?
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"You can't do it. It's impossible." Those are words no guy wants to hear. A statement like this usually results in a rebellion of sorts: "You wanna bet?" We immediately begin to formulate ways the impossible can become possible—or we'll die trying.
Most women don't understand this mindset. Men know if we just put our minds to something, we can do anything—from fixing a leaky pipe to flying to the moon and back. And we have! Yet we sometimes fail in trying to do the impossible.
Jesus discussed an impossible situation with his disciples. A wealthy young man had approached him, eager with the desire to know how to gain eternal life. When Jesus told him to give up his wealth, the young man drifted away. It was then that Jesus came out with the statement, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24). In other words, it was impossible.
When the disciples wondered who could possibly be saved, Jesus provided the assurance in the verse above. Only God saves. We couldn't possibly save ourselves. And there are situations in our lives for which we need the help of the God who can do the impossible.
Got an impossible situation you're still trying to accomplish on your own? Do yourself a favor—trust God to really do the impossible.
God, here is the impossible situation in my life ...
THE BIG PICTURE
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
This is the first verse in the Bible. Note the emphasis: "In the beginning God." Everything begins and ends with our creator God. All of human history and all of the future of the human race is about God and his story. It begins and ends with him.
We can easily forget this truth as we live day-to-day. Confident—and let's face it, sometimes proud—of the power and influence of our decisions, we can think we control our own destiny and can know what will happen in the future. We can forget we are finite, limited, mortal. Only God is sovereign. He alone oversees all human events.
A group of men is playing a game of poker in a restaurant back room. As one man looks at his cards, he knows he has an unbeatable hand and will be a rich man when he lays down those cards and wins the huge pot in the center of the table. Unknown to that man, however, a fighter pilot in training has just ejected from his plane, and the plane is hurtling toward that restaurant. The man will not even get to play the hand.
Like the poker player, we have the illusion of control. But our knowledge is limited, narrow. Only God has the larger perspective; only God is in control. We don't see all the scenarios; we don't understand all the factors; we don't know all the facts.
Just as in Genesis 1, true life begins when we humbly acknowledge God's sovereign place in the world and in our lives.
Creator God, Sovereign Lord, I humbly submit myself to you ...
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
As Jesus teaches his disciples about prayer, he drops in this marvelous nugget of truth, using a metaphor that his disciples (and we) can easily understand—the importance of seeking, asking, and knocking.
That's how the process works in everyday life. If we want something, we don't expect it to be dropped in our laps; instead we go after it. Yet in our relationship with God, we can easily become passive and passé. Here Jesus is emphasizing the fact that God is always listening and will respond to our requests and pleas—but we need to take the initiative.
Often we get too busy to pray. Sometimes we become so burdened and preoccupied with our problems that we forget to talk with our heavenly Father. We may even feel as though our needs are small and insignificant and that God would not be concerned with them. But Jesus says to persist in our prayers—asking, seeking, and knocking.
The other half of this teaching is just as exciting. Not only is God listening to our prayers, but he will answer them. If we ask, we will receive. If we seek answers to our questions, God will reveal them to us. If a door blocks our way, God will open it. Of course, God's answers won't always be what we expect—we shouldn't presume to make demands. But he will respond. He loves us that much.
Persist in prayer. Talk to your heavenly Father. He wants to hear from you. Ask, seek, and knock.
I want to talk with you, Lord, about ...
ONE WAY OUT
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
When the disciples asked how they would get to the Father and his "house," Jesus answered that he was the only way.
This fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven isn't popular in our age of the "it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere" and "all faiths lead to the same destination" way of thinking. People argue that having just one way is too narrow and limiting. "How can anyone claim to be the only way to God?" they assert.
In reality, Jesus' way is wide enough for all who believe. Instead of arguing and worrying about how limited it sounds, people should be grateful that there actually is one way to God and eternal life.
When coming to a precipice and wishing to get to the other side of the great divide, we don't pout and demand that a bridge be in place on the exact spot where we stand. Instead, we travel to the bridge, the only bridge, a few miles away, grateful that a way across has been provided.
Jesus is the way—follow him. Jesus is truth—believe him. Jesus is life—live in him. Regardless of the claims of cults, pop religion, or wishful thinking, no other bridge to the Father and his house exists.
Thank God he has provided the Way!
Jesus, you are ...
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
In the jam-packed chapter Romans 8, we can very easily overlook this simple statement—"God is for us"—at the beginning of Paul's "response to these things." Paul is saying that because of all the evidence he has just laid out, we can clearly see that God is for us. Unpacking the statement one word at a time, here is what it means:
God—he is the all-powerful, all-knowing, limitless, eternal One, Creator of the universe.
God is—he exists, has always been, and forever will be—he lives.
God is for—he is good, all-loving, personal, involved in his creation, and always seeking the best; he is not "against," a foe or someone we should avoid.
God is for us—he is on our side, cheering for us, working for us, transforming us into the image of his Son (Romans 8:29). He is ahead of us, leading the way. He is alongside us, standing with us in every situation. He is behind us, our greatest fan. He is under us, providing a sure foundation. He is above us, watching over every move. He is inside us, empowering us to live for him.
God has us surrounded! His love is personal.
And, Paul confidently asserts, because God is for us, no person, no power, and no problem can stand against us. You want proof? God sent his Son to die for us.
God is for you! Live confidently and courageously in the light of that truth.
My awesome Creator, knowing you are for me enables me to ...
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
I Corinthians 10:13
Temptation comes in various forms—obvious enticements to break the law, cheat, or forsake a commitment; subtle pressure to flirt with wrong, bend the rules, or delay doing right; nearly invisible urgings to gratify self, shift values, or take the easy way. Through the constant pull of our sinful nature and the consistent attacks of our enemy, Satan, we find ourselves tempted all day, daily. Facing such powerful and continual influences, we may consider giving up and giving in.
When we give in and then are confronted with what we have done, we tend to rationalize, excusing our sinful behavior—just as when Adam and Eve succumbed to the first temptation and blamed someone else. "He made me!" "I wasn't hurting anyone." "I'm only human." "I had needs." "Everyone's doing it."
Instead, we need to resist temptation, rejecting anything that would keep us from doing what is right or push us to do what is wrong.
God is more powerful than any temptation, and he is "faithful," promising to keep temptation from overwhelming us and to provide an alternative course of action, a way of escape, a "way out."
So when you are tempted, thank God for trusting you that much—he knows you can bear it. Then ask him what you should do next—look for his way out and take it.
Take God's way through temptation.
I'm so weak, Lord, but you ...
january 9 GOOD WORK!
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Soon after creating the first man and woman, God put them in the garden and gave them a job to do. Adam was told to "work it and take care of it." We don't know what that entailed, exactly, but it was "work."
Notice that this happened before the fall, that is, before Eve and Adam disobeyed God and sin entered the world. In fact, a chapter later we read, "To Adam [God] said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field" (Genesis 3:17–18). Suddenly garden work became much tougher.
Often we can see a job as a necessary evil. We need the money to support ourselves and the family, so we go to work. Or we might see it as merely a means to an end—a paycheck that allows us to buy what we need and want. And when considering our career paths, we often envision a time when we can finally (whew!) retire and enjoy a life of leisure. All these thoughts reveal an antiwork attitude. But God created the world, including Adam and Eve, gave them important tasks to do, and pronounced it "good."
Instead of dreading Monday when you have to head back to the office, shop, school, or other employment venue, thank God for giving you the opportunity to work. Try to see your job as a gift and as a calling.
Thank you, Lord, for my good job ...
Excerpted from Once-A-Day Devotional for Men Copyright © 2012 by The Livingstone Corporation. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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