No Words

Like God’s Words

Psalm 19

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Have you ever heard the phrase, “There are no words?”  Perhaps you used it in response to receiving a wonderful gift, when you couldn’t find the appropriate words to express your appreciation.  Conversely, maybe something tragic has happened, your heart is broken, and “there are no words” to express the magnitude of your grief. 

In verses 1-6 of Psalm 19, God reveals Himself in the glorious heavens and celestial bodies.  God’s greatness is proclaimed without a single sound—“NO WORDS.”  The amazing beauty of the skies—unique cloud formations, streaming sun escaping the clouds, indescribable sunrises and sunsets, breathtaking rainbows—boldly declare the majesty of God each day.  Searching for God?  Go outside and look up.  “There are no words.”

BUT, if you NEED words to find God, the second part of Psalm 19 is your answer.  In Psalm 19, God reveals Himself first in nature, (verses 1-6) and then in the Scriptures.  Verses 7-11 give us a perfect progression of what God’s Word, HIS WORDS, can do in our lives. 

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”  (7a) God’s Word gives us everything necessary for salvation.  His law, his commandments, revealed God’s holiness and our sin.  Paul wrote in Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

“The testimony of the law is sure, (steadfast, trustworthy), making wise the simple.” (7b)  We can put our trust in God’s testimony—it will hold us up.  The “simple” are those open-minded to instruction.  James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously, and without reproach, and it will be given him.” 

“The statutes (precepts) of the law are right, rejoicing the heart.”  (8a) God’s Word is just and righteous.  As we understand more and grow in wisdom of God through His Word, it brings joy and gratitude.  Consider Hezekiah, king of Judah, who honored God by repairing the house of the Lord and called the people to consecrate themselves and gather to worship.  Greater understanding produced tremendous joy in the people.  II Chronicles 30: 21, 23 says, “The sons of Israel present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy, and the Levites and the priests were praising the Lord day after day with loud instruments to the Lord.  Then the whole assembly decided to celebrate the feast another seven days, so they celebrated the seven days with joy.”

“The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”  (8b) Purity of God’s Word gives us new vision for this life and the one to come.  Matt. 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  And consider Ephesians 5:8, “for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” 

“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” (9a) Why is the Word of God called “the fear of the Lord?”  When God reveals His will, it is awesome!  God’s will is fearsome because of our sin, and when we are confronted with it, we realize how unrighteous we are. 

Consider Josiah, the boy who became king of Judah when he was eight years old.  Though II Kings tells us he did right in the sight of the Lord, when he was 26, a high priest found a book of the law in the house of the Lord and a scribe read it in the presence of the King.  “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.”  II Kings 22:11.   

Josiah realized that his people were not following God’s laws, and idol worship had crept into the land.  Josiah instituted reforms that destroyed the idols.  “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart, all his soul, and all his might, in conformity to all the Law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.”  II Kings 23:25

“The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. (9b) We can depend on God’s judgments.  They are true, trustworthy, and righteous, as Josiah discovered, as we can discover in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”  Our future is secure, eternal life, because the judgments of the Lord are true. 

Have you FOUND God as you meditate on His Word?  Have you FOUND God as you gaze at the heavens?  He is in plain view, accessible, desiring to be part of our lives, each and every day.  No AUDIBLE WORDS are needed.  But if you would like to respond to His glorious presence in the skies and in His Word, speak out loud the last verse of Psalm 19, as your humble prayer.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  Psalm 19:14

-Paula Kirkpatrick

Questions for Reflection and Application

  1.  What part of God’s creation moves you to say, “There are no words?” 
  2. Think about Josiah.  The Bible tells us he did right in the sight of the Lord at a very young age, and yet at age 26, he realized how much he and his people needed to improve.  Does Josiah’s story help you realize how much we need to keep growing and learning from the Lord?  (It helps me realize it.) 

The Peoples Plot

Psalm 2

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A desire for fame, power, or wealth has led numerous nations, peoples, kings, and rulers to disregard God’s word, and commit evil acts. These acts are questioned by the author of Psalm 2, likely David. He asks, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?” (Psalm 2:1). Further, the “kings of the earth” and “rulers” are against not only God, but against “His anointed” as well (Psalm 2:2). Those that God anoints, ultimately and most significantly referring to Jesus, share a common desire and goal with God, so those that go against God’s anointed ones go against God Himself. 

David continues the Psalm by describing how pointless it is for the earthly rulers to act against God. Back in verse one he mentions how the plotting is in vain, so the people are constantly unsuccessful in overthrowing God’s plans. David suggests that God even laughs at them for trying (Psalm 2:4), as He is omnipotent and already had a plan for a new king. God’s plan involved David as King and his eventual descendants. He promised to David that “[his] house and [his] kingdom will endure forever before [God]; [his] throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16). David paraphrases this prophecy in verses 6-9 of Jesus coming as a descendant of David to rule over the world. There will be a time when evil is destroyed, and God and Jesus will reign forever in the Kingdom of God. 

Most of the rest of the chapter is a warning to kings, rulers, and leaders to follow God and those he anoints: specifically, Jesus, the Son of God. Following God requires dedicated service to God and His Son. David uses the phrase “Serve the LORD with fear” (Psalm 2:11), which could be interpreted as genuine service to God with knowledge of His amazing power, mercy, and grace, and not simply an action to check off a list. The idea of serving God is modified to include serving and following God’s Son who would come after David.

The chapter ends with a reflection of the beginning of Psalm 1. The book of Psalms begins by stating “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD and who meditates on His law day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). Psalm 2 questions the logic of the nations and kings that don’t follow God, but rewards those that do follow God by explaining that “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 2:12). 

Psalm 2 was written mainly as a reminder for the people in the time of David to follow God and “take refuge in Him” (Psalm 2:12), but it has many applications to other people. For example, in Acts 4, believers quoted the first two verses of Psalm 2 after Peter and John were told by the Sanhedrin to not “speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). They recognized that those in charge of the Sanhedrin were going against God’s word, and Peter and John decided to continue following God’s way. They, and all the believers with them, prayed for God to “consider their threats and enable [God’s] servants to speak [God’s] word with great boldness”, in addition to prayers for healing and miracles (Acts 4:29-30). God quickly responded to their prayer and “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). God gave them the courage and strength to continue serving Him, even with threats against them. 

In today’s society, there are some who “conspire”, “plot in vain”, “rise up”, and “band together against the LORD and against His anointed” (Psalm 2:1-2), but it is still possible to remain faithful to God. Prayer can help to develop a relationship with God and “take refuge in Him” (Psalm 2:12). Those that do will be blessed and the nations will be the inheritance received according to Psalm 2:8. Similar wording is used in Revelation 2:26-27 when Jesus states that, “To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations – that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’” (Revelation 2:26-27). Following God and Jesus throughout persecution while others are rebelling against God will result in a blessing in the Kingdom of God of eternal life ruling under God and Jesus after evil has been destroyed.  

-Josiah Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. At whom or what do you think God may currently be laughing – scoffing at their actions? (In other words, what in today’s world is evil, rising against God? And is God scared?)
  2. How will you serve the Lord with fear amongst those who rise up against the Lord?
  3. How will the story end?

Planted by the Water

Psalm 1

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

When I was young, we often sang this song during our Sunday School opening. 

“Jesus is my Savior I shall not be moved
In His love and favor I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the waters Lord
I shall not be moved.

I shall not be I shall not be moved
I shall not be I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the waters Lord
I shall not be moved”   (John T. Benson, Mrs. James A. Pate, Words -1950 New Spring)

When I was researching the song, I found this verse which lines up better with the writer’s words in Psalm 1. 

“Glory hallelujah, I shall not be moved.

Anchored in Jehovah, I shall not be moved.

Just like a tree that’s planted by the waters Lord
I shall not be moved.”  (Alfred Henry Ackley, Lyndell Leatherman; Words, Public Domain)

What a wonderful visual and reminder to stand firm in God.

Psalm 1 is a contrast between a Godly man and a wicked man.  The Godly man isn’t walking, standing, or sitting with the wicked.  Instead, he is delighting and meditating in God’s law, God’s Word.  The presence of God’s Word in his life is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water. 

Have you ever seen such a tree?  It is usually bending toward the water, and often you can see the large, exposed roots.  It gets constant nourishment, constant life-giving water because of its proximity to the water.  The tree is fruitful, the leaves don’t wither.  This is the picture of a man rooted in the Lord and immersed continually in His Word.

The last three verses of the Psalm picture a completely different person, a wicked person.

Have you ever seen chaff blowing in the wind?  Chaff is the dry, scaly protective casing of seeds or other plant material.  In Hector, Minnesota where we lived for many years, there was (and still is) a celebration called Corn Chaff Days.  It was an appropriate name, because corn chaff often blew from the large grain elevators all over the streets and sidewalks of this little farming community.  It scattered everywhere, and eventually disappeared with the strong winds, lost forever.  Just like the wicked man. 

Two scenes in God’s creation

  • Strong, firmly rooted tree by the waters
  • Blowing, dusty chaff, cast off and receiving no nourishment

Two men presented

  • Godly man who does not STAND in the paths of sinners
  • Wicked man who does not STAND in the judgment

The choice is ours. 

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.  As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15a,d

-Paula Kirkpatrick

Reflection Questions

  1.  What contrasts in nature remind you of the Godly man and the wicked man?
  2. What can you do in your own life to root yourself deeper in God’s Word?

He Cursed the Day of His Birth

Job 3

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Today’s is a devotion I wish someone else was writing. It is over a chapter that is too dark, too deep, too depressing.

That is the start of the first devotion I wrote on Job 3. The one I spent a couple hours writing this morning before my computer ate the rest of it. So, now I get to write a second one. Maybe God has more to teach me about Job 3. Dear God, help me learn what you want me to learn – and put it into action.

I loved Hannah Deane’s devotions on Job 1 & 2 (as well as the rest of her devotions this past week on 2 Corinthians). If you missed them, I encourage you to go back and read them. Yesterday she pointed out that in chapter 2, Job’s grieving wife who had also lost so much, encouraged Job to just curse God and die. One can only endure so much, right? When is it time to give up on God? Job’s wife thought Job should be there already. But good old Job called it foolish talk. If you accept good from God, be prepared to accept some trouble, too, he said. Then his friends came and sat with him in silence for 7 days.

In chapter 3, Job speaks. And, it is difficult to listen to. Is he finally ready to curse God and die, as his wife had counseled him? No – not exactly. But there is no denying the pain and agony he is in. Rather than cursing God though, he curses the day he was born.

I have no recollection of the day I was born, but I have some pretty fond memories of the three days my children were born and put into my waiting arms. And it breaks my heart that one would become so depressed and despondent that they would wish their day of birth had never been. I have never been at this dark point Job was.

I also can’t help but think of the pro-abortion claims that for a certain amount of hardship (financial, physical, relational, or emotional), it would be better for a child to never have the chance at life. If we only had this ONE single chapter of Job to consider, it might seem that Job would agree.

It can not be denied. Hardships and loss come with life. No life has been lived without, no matter how spectacular the parents or timing or circumstances or inception. Hardship began with the serpent in the garden. And it will continue until the new heaven and new earth comes in the clouds, and God will live with His people and will wipe every tear from their eye and there will be no more mourning or crying or pain or death. (Revelation 21:1-4). What a beautiful hope for the future. But, we aren’t there yet. So, we must be prepared in this life for some trouble ourselves. And, we must consider how we can encourage, comfort and sit with those in deep pain and agony. And, while we are at it – how can we speak with compassion and wisdom to the would-be mom who is scared of the loss in her own life as well as the amount of hardship that a baby would meet in life? Job knows what it is like to be overcome by grief and raw emotion – for a time. That is where he is in Job 3, though he does not take his own life or the life of another.

Job doesn’t end with chapter 3. He has many more chapters of grief, sorrow and questioning God. There is not a quick and easy answer for pain. He will hear many half-truths from his friends who have a distorted view of God and His justice. And, then, he will get the opportunity to hear from God Himself. And, of course there are the blessings that Job receives in the end. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough days in the year to read each chapter one by one. In this year’s reading plan we will include just one more day tomorrow for Job before moving along to Psalms. But I encourage you to take some more time digging into Job. While Job continues to question God in his grief, he never gives up on God. I think we would do well to realize we don’t have to understand God in order to continue to trust Him.

-Marcia Railton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. We are often uncomfortable with people who are in deep pain and agony. It can be difficult to be around people who are cursing the day they were born (at least for me). How can we bring comfort and wisdom to their deep hurt?
  2. What advice and counsel do you think Job of Job chapter 38-42 would give to Job of Job chapter 3? What might he say to the man in despair contemplating taking his own life, or the woman considering an abortion?
  3. How can you trust God even when you don’t understand Him?

Yellow Skittles and Suffering

Job 2

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Do you like skittles? It seems like everyone has a favorite color and a color they dislike. For me, I dislike the yellow ones. If someone were to give me a pack of skittles, I would simply pick out the yellow ones and eat the colors that I do like. Life, however, is not like this. We cannot pick and choose what we like and don’t like. Our lives are not as simple as pulling weeds out of a garden.

In this chapter of the book of Job we find him in the aftermath of losing everything. To make matters worse, Job is now being afflicted with painful boils. Destroying everything in Job’s possession did not persuade him to curse the name of God, so Satan has now turned to physical attacks.

            Even Job’s wife believes that Job should give up. His wife has also lost everything. The children whom she carried in her womb are dead. The life she knew- gone. She was in great turmoil as well. Her grief causes her to go out to her husband, who is sitting among the ashes, and plainly tell him to curse God for the calamity that has befallen them. And then she says that Job should die. For all that Job has endured certainly there is no reason to continue. No reason to attempt treating himself for boils, which is what he is attempting during this conversation.

            Job’s response is a great reminder. He says in verse 10, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

            Such an attitude can be extremely difficult to cultivate in times of such pain. Even Job’s friends, when they first see him in this chapter, weep at the sight of him. Even amongst his pain Job refuses to curse God. Job was unable to cherry pick what was happening in his life. It was out of his power to dispose of his yellow skittles in life.

            It is impossible for us too. We are not promised a perfect life in this fallen world. As a result of the fall of man and sin entering the world, we live in a corrupt world where bad things happen. We are given many good skittles, but that does not mean we will never have taste of a yellow one. But we have hope that one day if we put our trust in God that we will taste eternal life. Every tear and pain from this fallen world will be wiped away and what was imperfect will be made perfect.

            So, until that day comes, let us trust God and know that the taste in our mouth that the yellow skittle leaves is not forever. Remember Job’s words, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

-Hannah Deane

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What have been the yellow Skittles in your life? How did you respond to them? More like Job did? Or his wife? The next time you encounter a great trial or suffering how would you like to envision you will respond? What could you do now to prepare for this response?
  2. What good have you accepted from God? Thank Him for them!
  3. How does keeping an eternal perspective give you strength and hope through the difficulties?

A Most Challenging Day

Job 1

Friday, July 1, 2022

            Take a moment to think about your life? Is there a particularly bad day you can remember having? A day where everything that could possibly go wrong does? Maybe that day is today or maybe it was 10 years ago. Regardless of when, though, those kinds of days are challenging.

I have had quite a few days like this. From having a high fever during final exams and then having my laptop shut down in the middle of the final exam or learning that my older sister had passed, life can be very challenging. There are ups and there are downs. And usually it is on the way down when we begin to ask where we are going. Most often we don’t know, or at least not in the moment.

            The book of Job is quite interesting. Some Bible scholars have even argued about it being included in the biblical canon. However, the book of Job has nonetheless become a favorite book for many who are in the midst of hardship. It is a book that a struggling Christian in the fallen world can relate to. It also offers insight into the struggles we face in life.

            In this very first chapter we find Job living a prosperous life. He is beyond wealthy and has everything anyone at that time, and probably today, could ever want. Yet in one singular day it all comes crashing down. No matter how bad of a day I have had in my life, I don’t think any could quite top Job’s. One servant after another comes to tell him that they are the lone survivor of terrible tragedies. From his sheep being burned in the fields to a building falling in on and killing his children, the heartbreak and nausea he must have suffered in that moment is unthinkable.

The introspective we have into the calamities that have befallen Job is not a luxury that Job had. He, like us in our own hardships, did not know why this was happening. He didn’t know that Satan himself was attacking him and baiting him to curse the name of his God. He was not able to witness the conversation between God and Satan and say, “Oh, ok that’s why this is happening.” He was genuinely shocked and grieved by this unexpected course of events that rattled his life.

            In the midst of all this suffering, though, Job did not lose his faith. In fact, we are told that he worshipped God despite this. However, this does not mean he was not grieved and filled with a deep sorrow. For we are also told that he tore his robes, shaved his head, and fell to the ground. He was broken, but he worshipped God in his brokenness. Sometimes it is that moment of being broken that the light of the love of God warms our cold and tired hearts through the newly formed cracks. So, like Job, lets worship God in our brokenness. 

-Hannah Deane

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Describe Job. What impresses you the most about him?
  2. Why do you think God allowed Satan to test Job?
  3. What can it look like to worship God in our brokenness? Have you been there before – or are there now?

A Close Examination

2 Corinthians 13

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Have you ever heard of the Viceroy butterfly? These winged insects look almost exactly like the beautiful Monarch butterfly. To the untrained eye it would be very difficult to tell the two apart. To tell the two specimens apart, one would have to examine them closely.

In this section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he urges them to examine themselves. He wants them to consider where they are placing their faith and if they are truly living for Christ.

The monarch is poisonous to some predators. By masquerading as the Monarch, the Viceroy can allude and fool its predators. However, underneath the façade, it is not a true Monarch. In fact, it is not potent at all. Within its heart, the Viceroy is nothing like the Monarch

If we listened to Paul and took a step back to examine ourselves, what would we find? Are we masquerading as a follower of Christ or are we the real deal? Are we the Viceroy butterfly or are we the Monarch?

As we examine ourselves and aim for a life where our actions and our heart profess our faith, remember the words in verse 4. “For indeed he was crucified because of his weakness, yet he lives because the power of God. For we also are weak in him, yet we will live with him because of the power of God directed toward you.”

-Hannah Deane

Application Questions

  1. How can you tell if one’s faith is real or phony? What characteristics does real faith have? What characteristics does phony faith have?
  2. What do you see when you examine yourself?
  3. Are there areas where you want your faith to grow deeper and more genuine? What steps will help you grow in that direction? Are you willing to do them?

(Tomorrow we will begin a 3 week look at some of the highlights of the Old Testament books of Poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. After that, mid-July to August, we will read Mark, one chapter a day, and then return to Paul’s letters. Lots of good stuff ahead! Keep Seeking God and His Will in His Word! SeekGrowLove)

THE THORN

THAT REMAINS

2 Corinthians 12

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

In this section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he shares with them about the thorn in his flesh. If you notice, we are not told exactly what this thorn is. He even mentions that three times he asked for it to be taken. But the LORD’s response was not that of immediate healing. Rather God left that thorn there, so that through this weakness Paul and others could see the power of God perfected. Paul began to view this thorn as something to keep him humble.

     Let’s think about this in a bit of a different perspective. Have you ever been out walking in the summer? Picture the trees and the birds singing, the warm air on your face and the peace of the moment. Everything is great, that is until you take that next step. Yep, there it is… Something is in your shoe.

     Imagine if it was out of your power to remove that nuisance in your shoe. You are stuck with it and now you have a limp. You cannot walk upright unless you lean on the sturdy walking stick you had brought with you but had been neglecting.

     This stone in your shoe has caused you to rely on something other than your own two feet. Paul’s thorn in his flesh gave him even more of a reason to remain humble and to rely on his God.

     We each have things in our lives that we struggle with. It may be a temptation we face, an insecurity we have, a sickness we carry or the pain of watching a loved one in agony. So often we think that God can only care for us if he is helping us fix these problems and removing these thorns. But scripture tells us that the LORD is near to the broken hearted.

     In Paul’s case, we know the LORD was with Paul. So even if your thorn is still there, it does not mean the LORD is not with you. In fact, that thorn may be the very thing that shows you that He is there. When that thorn gets uncomfortable, lean into the LORD as you would on that walking stick. And look with hope to the day when the LORD will wipe away every tear.

-Hannah Deane

Application Questions

  1. How can you be strong while you are weak? Is there a time you have felt this in your own life? When have you observed it in others?
  2. Why is God’s first priority not to give you everything you want to make yourself comfortable? What does He want instead?
  3. How does pride affect your relationship with others? How does pride affect your relationship with God? Where and how can you weed out some pride and replace it with humility?

False Advertising

2 Corinthians 11

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Have you seen anything advertised lately that you really wanted to try? Keep this in mind. We will revisit it at the end…

     Paul in this section of the letter to the Corinthians is defending his apostleship- not by means of hearsay, but through the proof of his testimony to Christ. Through the actions of his ministry, he has demonstrated his devotion to his faith. In the latter part of the section, Paul lists out the persecutions he has suffered. He does this not for the sake of attention or for puffing up his chest. He does it to demonstrate what the life of a true follower of Christ can look like. He does so to prove through his actions, and not the empty clanging of his voice, that he is an apostle of Christ.

     Paul does make a point to call attention to the “false advertising”, if you will, of others. He even makes the statement in verse 14, “…for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

Both before and after this powerful statement of warning, Paul also mentions the servants of Satan and the deceitful workers disguising themselves as apostles of Christ and servants of righteousness. Their beautifully spun words are to create an illusion that they are something that they are not. They are to deceive and steal away those who would come to Christ.  

Going back to that product you saw advertised, what about the product appealed to you? Was it the products testability that spoke for its reliability? Or was it the colorful design and exaggerated wording? We are in a world that is saturated in advertising and overrun with so many products trying to steal our attention from the others.

It is the same with who we put our trust in. Sometimes the advertisements of Satan are much more appealing. It can be difficult to choose the beautifully created bowl of fruit over the decadent devil’s food cake. But in the end, one nourishes and sustains us and the other satisfies us for only a moment.

-Hannah Deane

Application Questions

  1. In what ways do you see Satan working to convince the world and Christians that what God said is good is actually bad, and what God said is bad is actually good? How does evil try to look good – masquerading as an angel of light?
  2. What lies of Satan have you believed?
  3. How can we protect ourself from being deceived by Satan as Eve was?
  4. What role does knowing and loving the truth play in fighting temptation? What truths do you find in Scripture that can help you be strong and wise against temptation?

My Show Horse

2 Corinthians 10

Monday, June 27, 2022

I remember back in high school I showed a horse in 4-H at the county fair. The show I was in was all about the looks of the horse and convincing the judge that my horse was the very best in the arena. The goal was to gain the approval of the judge.

So, I got my horse, who had little show experience, all cleaned up. I shined up my dusty saddle. I donned my very best western shirt. I was ready to boast my horse in front of the judge. Even if my horse wasn’t the most experienced or the most expensive, I had to get the judge to believe that he was. I had to get the judge to believe my horse was something that he wasn’t.

However, my horse decided that day that he wasn’t quite willing to cooperate. He was not having it and we very nearly cleared the fence. It is safe to say I did not convince the judge and all my “boasting” was in vain.

I feel like life is often like this. We find ourselves in circumstances where we try to prove our worth based on what we think others want. Like I was trying to convince the judge that my horse was the best show horse, we try to convince others that we are something that we are not.  

In this section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he tells them that what he is in the letters is also who he is in person (v.11). He is not trying to shine up the saddle to convince someone of who he is- his actions speak for who he is in his letters and in person.

He also tells the Corinthians that when we commend ourselves, we are not approved. When I tried to commend myself and the horse I was riding in front of the judge, it did not go so well.

When our goal becomes the approval of humans rather than the approval of God our focus becomes warped, and we lose sight of what truly matters. However, when our goal becomes the approval of God, we become commendable by God. And then rather than boasting in our own power, which always falls short, we can boast in the LORD and His everlasting power.

-Hannah Deane

Application Questions

  1. Can you think of a time when you tried to convince others you were someone you were not? Did it work? What were the consequences?
  2. In what ways (or what areas of your life) do you seek the approval of men rather than the approval of God? What are the dangers of continuing in this pattern? How can you remember to be most concerned with how God is judging you, not what people think of you?
  3. How will you practice boasting in the LORD and His everlasting power, today?
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