No assigned reading for today. Use this “free” day to catch up on your reading plan, read a Psalm or Proverb, or just pray and ask God to direct your reading for today. The important thing is to read the Word.
Who is Our God?
By Yoga Raj
We could learn a ton of lessons by doing an in-depth study of the lives of various characters in the Bible. Each individual mentioned in the Bible is there for particular purposes important in the unfolding of God’s divine plan. They were real people, with real lives, real relationships, real joys, real problems and real temptations, just like us. They were ordinary people who made decisions that transformed them into extraordinary legends. They faced great challenges and overcame them with faith and endurance. From both their strengths and weaknesses, we can relate to them in practical ways, can develop a stronger knowledge of God’s Word, better understand the Lord’s characteristics, attributes and traits, and can build a stronger walk with Him in the process.
God says about Noah “for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.” The whole world doing wrong did not deter Noah from doing what was right. God says to Abraham “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you.” Abraham left his comfort zone and marched onward into uncertainty. Joseph had a tough life: disowned by his own brothers, falsely accused, imprisoned and forgotten by the cupbearer after receiving Joseph’s favor. When Joseph became the leader of all Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh himself, he saved his family from starvation. He tells his brothers that though they meant harm, God orchestrated the events to put Joseph in a position to save them. Joseph had a vision that sustained him through difficult times. After giving many excuses as to why he is not the right person for the job, Moses finally answers his calling. Moses was the one chosen to lead the Israelites to freedom and when the time came, he stepped up and led. In Joshua 24, after leading his people into the promised land, Joshua offers the Israelites options to choose. When he says, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”, the people answer in unison because they believed in Joshua’s leadership. He didn’t have to threaten them; he merely inspired them by his example. David, a small shepherd boy who did not even fit into the armor he was provided, volunteers to fight against a giant with these words, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts”. When David was faced with a challenge, he had the conviction and strength of resolve on his side. In Isaiah 6, when God asks who he should send as a prophet to His people, Isaiah responds, “Here am I. Send me!”. He didn’t wait to see if anyone else was going to step up when something needed to be done. Daniel disobeys the degree to worship the king’s statue and instead continues to pray and give thanks to the Lord just like he always did. Daniel’s faith in his God kept him alive in the lion’s den. Daniel remained steadfast and maintained his resolve without regard for consequences.
In the prophets’ lives, we see loneliness, fear and depression. They make us realize that serving God often means being different or rejected. We see their deep experiences of pain that God used, to give them compassion toward those He told them to warn. Women who made it to the genealogy of Jesus had to step out in faith and let the Great Author write their stories. They had to leave their country and people, deal with shame, loss and grief, sacrifice and embrace change in their lifestyle. They were abundantly blessed by the Lord because of the fulfillment of His will in their lives.
In the New Testament, John the Baptist had to deal with a pretentious, self-righteous group of religious officials. He was not afraid to call them out as counterfeits. He was brutally honest with the people he encountered. Peter denied Jesus three times while Jesus was being crucified. When the rooster crows Peter realizes what he had done and weeps bitterly. Peter gives his first sermon after Jesus’s ascension into heaven–to a crowd of thousands of people, when he had denied Jesus just a few days earlier. He did not become discouraged when he failed, did not wallow in self-pity, he never gave up. He picked back up to continue on and do better next time. Saul was a very zealous individual. He violently opposed the spread of Christianity and went out of his way to see Christians killed and imprisoned. When Jesus appears to him in Acts 9 and changes his mind, he becomes equally adamant about the truth of Christianity. His name changed by God to Paul, he then traveled across the world, spreading the message about Jesus and established churches everywhere he went. He was passionate for what he believed in and was driven by a sense of purpose. He had a fire lit under him, felt compelled to accomplish his objectives and did not allow apathy in his life.
There are many ways to study the Scripture, yet one of the most personal is the study of individual Bible characters. No matter our personality, our struggles, our stage of human life or the season we are in, there is always someone in the Bible we can relate to and learn from. Giving attention to details, the setting, things happening in the background, their emotional roller coasters, decisions made in their spiritual highs and lows, conflicts that happen between their earthly desires and God’s will, contention between their way and God’s way, their timing vs God’s timing, human-minded execution plan vs God’s plan, fleshly actions and reactions vs sensitivity to God’s voice or the intuition of the Holy Spirit etc. would provide great perception and guardrail for dealing with circumstances we encounter in our day to day lives. We can learn from the mistakes of both godly and ungodly Bible characters in order to avoid these problems in our own lives. At the crossroads of tests, trials, tough situations or incomprehensible events, our response and reaction to them determines our path forward.
Most important of all, we understand who the Lord is, from the relationship they had with Him and His intervention in their lives. We recognize that God has a heart of compassion. We see His patience, His graciousness, His justice, His righteousness and His holiness. We understand the value of obedience and the importance of God’s Word. We also see God’s provision and His faithfulness. He is merciful to our shortcomings and weaknesses. We can know how to have joy in God’s forgiveness and promise of restoration. God invites people into relationship. He is faithful to keep His promises. He prepares us for what He calls us to. The Lord is patient with our fears and doubts. We come to understand the importance of following God completely and remembering that He is Holy. Jesus invites all kinds of people into His plan, not just those of Jewish descent. The Lord is faithful to those who follow Him and abide by His will with complete submission. We understand the benefit of calling out to God in any and every situation. We are warned of the dangers of drawing our hearts away from God. We can realize the transformational power of God and the wonderful results even in seemingly impossible situations. We see how zealously following the Lord can lead to all sorts of reactions from others and practical hardships. Our God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. But when we are tempted, He will also provide a way out. He gives us peace and indescribable joys. He is the Lord Almighty, our God!
Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.