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Don't give up! The beginning is always the hardest

Is it because of the challenges that keep coming your way? Is it because of the difficulties that keep coming your way? Is it because of the trials that keep coming your way?

What is your first response? Is it to cry out to God? Is it to fall on the ground and pray? Is it is something else? What has the power to save? What has the power to heal? What has the power to answer? It’s more of a who and it’s God so turn to Him!

Day 34: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Psalm 18:16-24, Matthew 22:15-46, Job 30, Job 31, Job 32

Today’s devotional speaks to Three Types of Victory

1. Victory over your enemies … Psalm 18:16-24

16He reached down from on high and took hold of me;he drew me out of deep waters. 17He rescued me from my powerful enemy,from my foes, who were too strong for me. 18They confronted me in the day of my disaster,but the Lord was my support. 19He brought me out into a spacious place;he rescued me because he delighted in me. 20The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. 21For I have kept the ways of the Lord;I am not guilty of turning from my God. 22All his laws are before me;I have not turned away from his decrees. 23I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. 24The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

–from Psalm 18

No matter how big the challenge before, no matter how strong the powerful they seem, no matter what confronts you today…cry out to God and trust in Him! Consider all that David faced and how David trusted in God and God rescued him. So you can trust in God too! You can cry out to Him! Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness! Diligently seek Him! Do you realize how much God loves? Will you enter into His love? Will you discover victory over those who try to attack you by leaning on God and trusting in Him?

Will you pray for your need? Will you pray for the need of your family and friend? Will you pray for a victory? Will you pray for a rescue?

2. Victory over your critics … Matthew 22:15-46

Are they criticizing you? Are they trying to trap you? Are they trying to trick you? Are they trying to test you? Don’t face it alone! Cry out to God! Consider Daniel who when the king had a dream and asked for wisdom by first telling what the dream was and then second the interpretation, Daniel turned to God for wisdom and that wisdom saved him and all the others. Some may have thought of that as a trap or a trick and others just as a test to confirmed that people where just trying to trick the king. In general the others probably had been and were in a state where they couldn’t have done anything to save themselves, but Daniel knew where his hope and trust came from, it comes from God!

Today’s reading we see how they use trickery, trapping, and tests on Jesus…

15Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” 18But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21“Caesar’s,” they replied.Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 22When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. 23That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24“Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27Finally, the woman died. 28Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” 29Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 33When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching. 34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 41While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42“What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”“The son of David,” they replied. 43He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, 44 “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’ 45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

–from Matthew 22

We may just think people as asking question until it is too late if we try to go it alone! So we need to ask God for wisdom in each situation so that we know the truth! Allow that still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit to comfort you while being asked! Allow that still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom in every situation! Allow that still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you through the steps of everyday life! In hearing from God we are able to receive wisdom from the Holy Spirit and glorify God, the answers of Jesus gave Him victory – they amazed, they astonished, and still continue to influence life on earth and all of human history!

So let’s learn from today’s reading and from what Jesus did. Let’s review the call-outs from today’s devotional…

Don’t divide your life into sacred and secular

The Pharisees planned to trap Jesus with his words. They said to Jesus, ‘Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ (v.17). The taxes they referred to were extremely unpopular. If Jesus had said ‘Yes’, he would have been discredited in the eyes of the people. Everyone would have hated him and seen him as a traitor wanting to help the Romans.

Yet if he had said, ‘No’, he would have been guilty of sedition and been liable to arrest and execution.

Jesus, in his unique wisdom, did not lay down rules and regulations but expounded principles that are timeless. He gives an amazing answer: ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’ (v.21).

Every follower of Jesus has a double citizenship. You have a responsibility to play your part as a good citizen involved in the structures of your society on earth.

You are also a citizen of heaven with a responsibility to God. In principle, the two – Caesar and God – need not be in conflict. You are called to be a good citizen of both. Get involved in the life of your society, don’t withdraw from it.

It is not that God is in charge of the ‘sacred’ area of your life and the government is in charge of the ‘secular’ area of your life. Rather, your whole life is under God’s authority. Part of your commitment to God is to honour and obey the demands that the government legitimately makes on you. In the same way that a coin would have born Caesar’s image, you bear God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God wants you to give him the whole of your life.

Know that there is life after death

Next, the Sadducees come along with a trick question about a man with seven wives. Because the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection they designed a complicated trick question to show how absurd it was (Matthew 22:23–28).

Jesus replies, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God’ (v.29). Jesus uses the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible – which are the only ones the Sadducees trusted) to show that God is ‘not the God of the dead but of the living’ (v.32b).

He does this by quoting God’s words to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:6: ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’ (Matthew 22:32a). When Moses heard those words, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for hundreds of years. God did not say ‘I was their God’ but ‘I am their God.’ They are still alive.

Jesus is showing that this life is not all there is. Furthermore, there will be continuity between this life and the life to come. There is a physical resurrection. Yet, there is discontinuity too for we ‘will be like the angels in heaven’ (v.30). Above all, the Scriptures show that there will be a resurrection and if God is all-powerful, why shouldn’t there be?

Prioritize love for God and others

Then, the Pharisees come up with a test question to which Jesus gives a brilliant answer, which goes to the heart of the whole of the Old Testament: love God (‘with all your passion and prayer and intelligence’, v.37, MSG) and love people (‘love others as well as you love yourself’, v.39, MSG). Everything else is a detailed working out of these two commands (vv.34–40).

Having silenced his critics, Jesus then asks them a question. It is a question about his identity. He shows from the Scriptures that the Christ is not just David’s son – he is David’s Lord (vv.41–46). He demonstrates that the Messiah is far more than simply a great human king. This not only challenges their assumptions about the Messiah, it is also a veiled indication to them of Jesus’ identity.

This is a moment of victory for Jesus: ‘That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good’ (v.46, MSG).

–from Day 34: Bible In One Year 2017

So will you live your life as one? Will you not live a double life? Will you be who you are? Will you live out your life in love?

3. Victory over temptation … Job 30:1-32:22

It’s not always sin that is the cause of troubles in this world! Jesus tells us that in this world we will have troubles, not could or might but will have troubles! Jesus provides us hope with this message thought in letting us know to take heart because He has overcome the world! In Job, we also see that it wasn’t his sin that brought on all the trouble he was going through. The trouble didn’t come because of something bad he had done. Do you remember how the book of Job started? “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

So don’t be tempted to try and blame troubles that a person is going through on something in their lives! Don’t be so quick to jump to judgment! And when something is going on the best we can do is to turn to God and trust in Him! He is faithful and just! He is love! He can take what the devil plans for evil and turn it around and use it for good! a greater good! And if others try to condemn or convict, accuse or attack you, put on the full armor of God and stand firm on the truth! Don’t be tricked! Don’t be fooled! Don’t allow temptation to pull you off course!

Let’s consider as we review what today’s devotional pulls together from today’s reading how we can live our lives in order to glorify God no matter the victories or the troubles, the trials or the temptations, and walk trusting and believing in God!

Job’s life was an example, an inspiration and a challenge. This is a wonderful picture of holy and righteous living.

Keep yourself pure

He said, ‘I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl’ (v.1). He was not enticed (v.9) in his heart into adultery. He realised that ‘adultery is a fire that burns the house down’ (v.12, MSG).

Avoid materialism

He did not put his trust in riches (v.24) in spite of the great wealth he had. Nor did he put his hope in pure gold by saying, ‘You are my security’ (v.24). Again, his heart had not been ‘secretly enticed’ (v.27).

Love your enemy

He had resisted the temptation to hate his enemies. He didn’t gloat when his enemies were in trouble (v.29b) – which is such a powerful temptation. There is a great temptation to speak words of anger, but Job did not allow his ‘mouth to sin by invoking a curse’ (v.30) against his enemies.

Be generous

It was not just in his personal life that he avoided sin. He was fair to his employees (v.13). He did not deny ‘the desires of the poor’ (v.16a). His ‘door was always open to the traveller’ (v.32).

–from Day 34: Bible In One Year 2017

Consider how best to live our lives, not based on the rewards in this world, but in the world that is yet to come! Consider how best to live our lives based on glorifying God no matter what the world around us has to say or think or do! Consider how best to live our lives based on God’s Word and God’s promises rather than on common culture and going with the flow! This is the day that the Lord has made, so let’s rejoice and be glad in it!

1“But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs. 2Of what use was the strength of their hands to me, since their vigor had gone from them? 3Haggard from want and hunger, they roamed the parched land in desolate wastelands at night. 4In the brush they gathered salt herbs, and their food was the root of the broom bush. 5They were banished from human society, shouted at as if they were thieves. 6They were forced to live in the dry stream beds, among the rocks and in holes in the ground. 7They brayed among the bushes and huddled in the undergrowth. 8A base and nameless brood, they were driven out of the land. 9“And now those young men mock me in song; I have become a byword among them. 10They detest me and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face. 11Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence. 12On my right the tribe attacks; they lay snares for my feet, they build their siege ramps against me. 13They break up my road; they succeed in destroying me. ‘No one can help him,’ they say. 14They advance as through a gaping breach; amid the ruins they come rolling in. 15Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud. 16“And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me. 17Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest. 18In his great power God becomes like clothing to me; he binds me like the neck of my garment. 19He throws me into the mud, and I am reduced to dust and ashes. 20“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. 21You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. 22You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm. 23I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living. 24“Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress. 25Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor? 26Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. 27The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me. 28I go about blackened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. 29I have become a brother of jackals, a companion of owls. 30My skin grows black and peels;
my body burns with fever. 31My lyre is tuned to mourning, and my pipe to the sound of wailing.

–from Job 30

1“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. 2For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? 3Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? 4Does he not see my ways and count my every step? 5“If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit—6let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless—7if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, 8then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted. 9“If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door, 10then may my wife grind another man’s grain, and may other men sleep with her. 11For that would have been wicked, a sin to be judged. 12It is a fire that burns to Destruction; it would have uprooted my harvest. 13“If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female, when they had a grievance against me, 14what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? 15Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? 16“If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, 17if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless—18but from my youth I reared them as a father would, and from my birth I guided the widow—19if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or the needy without garments, 20and their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece from my sheep, 21if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, 22then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. 23For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things. 24“If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ 25if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, 26if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, 27so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, 28then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high. 29“If I have rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him—30I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against their life—31if those of my household have never said, ‘Who has not been filled with Job’s meat?’—32but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler—33if I have concealed my sin as people do, by hiding my guilt in my heart 34because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside—35(“Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. 36Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. 37I would give him an account of my every step; I would present it to him as to a ruler.)—38“if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, 39if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, 40then let briers come up instead of wheat and stinkweed instead of barley.” The words of Job are ended.

–from Job 31


1So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. 4Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 5But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused. 6So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said: “I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. 7I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’ 8But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. 9It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. 10“Therefore I say: Listen to me; I too will tell you what I know. 11I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, 12I gave you my full attention. But not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments. 13Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom; let God, not a man, refute him.’ 14But Job has not marshaled his words against me, and I will not answer him with your arguments. 15“They are dismayed and have no more to say; words have failed them. 16Must I wait, now that they are silent, now that they stand there with no reply? 17I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. 18For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; 19inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. 20I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply. 21I will show no partiality, nor will I flatter anyone; 22for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.

Job 32


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