DAILY  DEVOTIONAL

"Passing Away"

 

Jan. 20, 2021
  
 

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 - This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

I have a confession to make: I have not checked my retirement account since the stock market tanked at the beginning of the pandemic. I don't intend to, either—not until enough time has gone by that things start to recover and I won't panic when I see how much I've lost. It's the first time in my life I've had a retirement account, and I don't want to turn it into an idol—to build my trust and hope for the future on something that, as we all know now, can pass away.

That is what Paul is talking about when he tells us to live as if we did not have all the life situations we actually do have. Good or bad, all of those things are passing away. Even the longest marriage comes to an end; money, goods, health, pleasure, even grief doesn't last forever. One day all those things will disappear. It is not safe to trust our hearts to them—not our whole hearts, as we do to Jesus Christ.

He is the only One who will never pass away—who will never let us down or leave us. He is the One who died for us once, to rescue us from the power of death and to bring us into God's everlasting kingdom. And now that He has risen from the dead, we don't need to fear that we will ever lose Him. He is with us forever, and we will be with Him forever—sharing the same eternal life He has, because we trust in Him. We are His and He is ours—and that will never pass away.

THE PRAYER: Lord, everything around me is passing away. Help me to cling to You, who will never pass away. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

Reflection Questions:

1. What is one loss you have faced this past year, big or little?

2. How do you find hope and help in God when you suffer loss?

3. What is God keeping for you, that will never pass away?

JANUARY 19

"Merciful"

 

Jan. 19, 2021
  
 
Jonah 3:1-5, 10 - Then the Word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you." So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the Word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them .... When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it.

I always think of Jonah as the cranky missionary. God sends him far from home to talk to his worst enemies so that they may be saved—and Jonah doesn't want to go. So he runs away. God has to send a giant fish to drag him back and start the mission over again. How embarrassing for Jonah!

So now Jonah is doing what God said—he's visiting Nineveh and warning them that God is about to send judgment on them. He walks through the city saying exactly what God tells him to say—"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And all the while, he's hoping they won't listen to him. Because Jonah doesn't like those people, and he wants to see them burn.

But Jonah has another problem. He knows that God is forgiving and merciful, full of compassion—the exact opposite of Jonah, in fact. So Jonah finishes his job and gets out of town to a spot where he can look down over the city, hoping to see hellfire and brimstone fall. And then it doesn't happen. "When God saw what [the Ninevites] did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it."

And Jonah whines. He says, "God, see this? See this? I knew You were going to be this way. I knew You were going to forgive those people, and I just wish I were dead!"

What's Jonah's problem? Does his hatred run that deep? Or is he afraid that people will make fun of him for making a prophecy that didn't come true in the end? Maybe a little of both.

But God is merciful even to Jonah in his tantrum. He explains things to him as kindly as He can—and to us, who read the story years later.

Yes, God cares about the Ninevites, even though they are the enemies of Jonah's people. God cares about His own enemies too—about every human being who has rebelled against Him and turned the world into a place of violence, lying, and hatred. God will do whatever He can to rescue these people, even though they don't deserve it—even if it costs Him death on a cross. Through Jesus, He will turn them from enemies into beloved children—people who live through their trust in the Son of God.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, soften our hearts to share Your Word with others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

Reflection Questions:

1. What makes you cranky?

2. Have you ever had to do something you didn't want to do because God wanted it?

3. When did someone show you mercy though you didn't deserve it?