How do you show up?

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 9 & 10
Psalms Reading: Psalm 33
New Testament Reading: Romans 3

I was struck by verses 3-5 of today’s reading in Psalm 33.

3 Sing to Him a new song;

Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

4 For the word of the Lord is upright,

And all His work is done in faithfulness.

5 He loves righteousness and justice;

The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord. (NASB 1995)

Are we singing the same old song of praise to God? The thoughts that stirred in me when I read this passage were that we are on a journey of getting to know God and His word is His love letter to us. If we are open to it, He is gradually revealing the beauty of His character to us. His word is truly “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV). 

Furthermore, verse 8 reminds us that we should fear Him and be standing in awe of Him!

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;

Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. (NASB 1995)

If we think about everything God has done and who He is, can we even help but do that? Well, I do think about Moses though from the reading earlier in the week. He seemed to lose sight pretty quickly of the majesty of God and that was evident in the way he communicated with God. He was showing up on holy ground with filthy sandals. However, some self-reflection compels me that I sometimes show up with filthy sandals on and don’t always remember to render the reverence God is due.

The contrast between David and Moses keeps revisiting my mind and heart, so maybe that’s a message God really needs me to hear and maybe you do, too. How are you showing up before God? Are we signing a new song of praise that can only be fueled by an intentional quest of getting to know Him more intimately. Otherwise, we will keep singing the same old song in those same old dirty sandals.

-Kristy Cisneros

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are some new areas you can praise God in? 
  2. What new things have you learned about God’s character in this year’s reading so far that you could praise Him for?

The Weight of Unconfessed Sin

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 7 & 8
Psalms Reading: Psalm 32
New Testament Reading: Romans 2

The weight of unconfessed sin is heavy. Today’s passage in Psalm 32 helps us to see that unconfessed sin takes a spiritual, emotional and physical toll on us. David mentions that his body was wasting away under the burden of his unacknowledged sin.

Psalm 32

3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away

Through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. (NASB 1995)

When we confess our sins to God and repent of them, God is faithful to forgive. Many times we can be like Adam and Eve clamoring to find our leaves to cover our shame and nakedness. It is futile to try and conceal our sin from an omniscient, omnipresent God.  

5 I acknowledged my sin to You,

And my iniquity I did not hide;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;

And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. (NASB 1995)

I hope the admonition in verse 6 was not lost on you. 

6 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;

Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. (NASB 1995)

This verse reminds me that we do not have unlimited time and opportunity to right our wrongs with the maker of the Universe. There will be a time when God can no longer be found, so if you are bearing the weight of unconfessed sin, what are you waiting for?

Romans 2 reminds us of some of the amazing attributes of God’s character: kindness, patience and tolerance. However, it also warns us not to take those attributes lightly.

4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (NASB 1995)

Meditating on how amazing our Heavenly Father truly is and how much He loves us should compel us to repent and to reconcile with Him. However, we are not special and there is a limit to His kindness, tolerance and patience. He is also a God of justice. We read in verse 11 of Romans 2, “For there is no partiality with God.” (NASB 1995) The subsequent verses make it clear what the outcome will be if we remain stubborn and unrepentant.

5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. (NASB 1995)

I would like to circle back to the Psalm 32 passage of how David’s unconfessed sin was causing his body to waste away.  We see a similar concept in Romans 2 and how our conscience accuses our thoughts and wears on us if we do not confess and repent of our wrongdoing. 

14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (NASB 1995)

It all comes down to our hearts. In verse 29 of Romans 2, we see that our circumcision should be of our hearts. If we are a people after God’s own heart like David, we will inevitably have ‘the work of the law written in our hearts’ and our priority will be pleasing God and not man. That means confessing our sins and returning back to God while He still may be found.

29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (NASB 1995)

-Kristy Cisneros

Reflection Questions:

  1. Are you currently bearing the burden of unconfessed sin? Enlist God’s help in confessing and freeing yourself of this burden. Go a step further and ask God to help you alter your course so that you aren’t falling into the same sin traps over and over that continue to get in the way of your relationship with God.
  2. In reflecting on your life, does it seem to show more of an effort toward pleasing man or pleasing God?
  3. What does God reveal about Himself in today’s Bible reading – and why does it matter?

What Kind of Dirt Are You?

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 23 & 24

Psalms Reading: Psalm 14

New Testament Reading: Matthew 13

Genesis 2:7 tells us, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

In Genesis 3:18, God told Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

What kind of dirt are you?

Many years ago, our family built a house.  Once construction was done, we needed to seed the yard so we could have a lawn.  I tilled the yard and raked it out.  My son Chris (who was about 4 at the time) and I then broadcast grass seed.  Some of the seeds fell on the driveway, some fell under spruce trees along our property line, and some (most) were scattered on dirt. We talked about which seeds we expected to grow, and why.  I then told Chris a story Jesus told, as recorded in Matthew 13, about a farmer who scattered seeds.

In Jesus’ story, there were four places the seeds fell.  The first seeds fell along the path, and birds ate them up.  Jesus explained in Matthew 13:19, “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”

The second example of seeds fell on rocky places where there wasn’t much soil.  It sprang up quickly but then withered.  Jesus explained in Matthew 13: 20-21, “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”

The third seed fell among thorns, that grew up and choked the seed.  Jesus explained in Matthew 13: 22, “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.”  (Luke 8:18 also includes “pleasures” causing choking.)

The final seed fell on good soil.  Jesus explained in Matthew 13:23, “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” 

In Jesus’ story, the seed was the good news about the Kingdom of God.  In each of these examples, the seed was good; the difference in productivity was because of the soil. So I’ll ask again, what kind of dirt are you?

Do you understand the magnitude of the good news about the Kingdom of God and what that means for you if you follow God wholeheartedly?

Are you easily discouraged in your Christian walk when difficulties arise?

Are you distracted from wholeheartedly following God by worries? Or pleasures? Or wealth? Or the good things this life has to offer?

Or are you bearing a crop for God?  And if you are, what does that look like?  Here are some examples:

  • Winning others to Christ (Romans 1:13)
  • Giving money to further God’s work (Romans 15:25-28)
  • Doing good works (Colossians 1:10)
  • Growing in Christian character (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Continually offering a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15)

And if you are bearing a crop, how productive are you?  Are you bearing 100 times what was sown?  60 times? 30 times?  I think we all need to work on this.

In closing, since you’re just dirt, you might as well be the best dirt you can be.  Go bear much fruit.

-Steve Mattison

P.S. It was hard for me to decide what to focus on for today’s devotion.  Since I’ve previously written a devotion (How to get a Spouse) based on the Genesis 24 reading for today, I thought I’d focus on Matthew 13 instead.

Reflection Questions

  1. All four seed/dirt examples first required hearing the word. What are you doing to hear the word of God about the good news of His Kingdom?
  2. Examine your life – what type of dirt have you been previously and are you now? ON THE PATH -hears the message, doesn’t understand -evil one snatches it away ROCKY GROUND – no root – trouble and persecution – fall away IN THORNS – choked out by worries, deceitfulness of wealth and pleasures GOOD SOIL – hears and understands – produces a good crop
  3. What kind of dirt do you want to be? What will it require if you are currently a different type? What type of fertilizer and additives can you add to your dirt? What can be strained out and removed from your dirt to help you grow a better crop?
  4. What might Jesus have wanted us to learn about God, the ultimate giver of the Kingdom message, today?
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