Streams in the Desert, Day 13

Today’s reading is drawn from Micah 7:7.

Day 13

Without watchful expectation on our part, what is the sense in waiting on God for help? There will be no help without it. If we ever fail to receive strength and protection from him, it is because we have not been looking for it. Heavenly help is often offered yet goes right past us. We miss it because we are not standing in the tower, carefully watching the horizon for evidence of its approach, and then are unready to throw the gates of our heart open so it may enter. The person who has no expectations and therefore fails to be on the alert will receive little help. Watch for God in the events of your life.

There is an old saying: “They who watch for the providence of God will never lack the providence of God to watch for.”

And we could turn the saying around as well and say, “They who never watch for the providence of God will never have the providence of God to watch for.” Unless you put the water jars out when it rains, you will never collect the water.

We need to be more businesslike and use common sense with God in claiming his promises … People who go to the bank have a purpose in mind. They present their check, receive their cash, and then leave, having transacted real business. They do not lay their check on the counter, discuss the beauty of the signature, and point out the lovely design on it. No, they want to receive money for their check and will not be satisfied without it …

Unfortunately, a great many people also play at praying. They do not expect God to give them an answer, so they simply squander their prayer time. Our heavenly Father desires us to transact real business with him in our praying.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Thinking Theology: A Q&A with Dr. John MacArthur, Day 13

Today’s reading is drawn from Luke 10:25.

If we are to love our neighbor, who is our neighbor?

The lawyer who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life in Luke 10:25 knew the commandments well enough. But when he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” we are told that he was “wanting to justify himself” (v. 29). It revealed the man’s self-righteous character, as well as his desire to test Christ.

The prevailing opinion among scribes and Pharisees was that one’s neighbors were the righteous alone. According to them, the wicked—including rank sinners (such as tax collectors and prostitutes), Gentiles, and especially Samaritans—were to be hated because they were the enemies of God. They cited Psalm 139:21, 22 to justify their position. As that passage suggests, hatred of evil is the natural corollary of loving righteousness. But the truly righteous person’s “hatred” for sinners is not a malevolent enmity. It is a righteous abhorrence of all that is base and corrupt—not a spiteful, personal loathing of individuals. Godly hatred is marked by a brokenhearted grieving over the condition of the sinner. And as Jesus taught here and elsewhere (6:27–36; Matt. 5:44–48), it is also tempered by a genuine love. The Pharisees had elevated hostility toward the wicked to the status of a virtue, in effect nullifying the second Great Commandment. Jesus’ answer to this lawyer demolished the Pharisaical excuse for hating one’s enemies.

Contrasting the Levite, a religious person who assisted the priests in the work of the temple, with a despised Samaritan, who rescued the wounded person, Jesus reversed the lawyer’s original question (v. 29). The lawyer assumed it was up to others to prove themselves neighbor to him. Jesus’ reply makes it clear that each has a responsibility to be a neighbor—especially to those who are in need.

Bible Gateway

Leadership Insight from the Maxwell Bible, Day 13

Today’s reading is drawn from Jeremiah 3:15.

God’s Criteria for Leaders: Shepherds After His Heart

God tells us His criteria for leadership when He promises through Jeremiah that He will give the people shepherds after His own heart—the same description given to David in the Book of 1 Samuel. What does this mean? God says these shepherds are to lead His people with “knowledge and understanding.”

This kind of leader doesn’t develop automatically. Most seminaries still struggle with providing practical, usable tools for the men and women they are preparing for ministry. A “shepherd after God’s own heart” must possess at least four skills:

  1. Attitude Skills – A servant’s heart, both positive and persistent.
  2. People Skills – The ability to relate to others: communicate, delegate, motivate, confront, etc.
  3. Equipping Skills – The ability to train and develop others for service.
  4. Leadership Skills – The ability to cast vision, plan strategy, direct teams, and empower others.