The Bad News Makes the Good News So Much Better

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August 15, 2021

  • Daily Devotional

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    DAY 1 – A Prayer of Repentance

    As we begin this devotional, use this prayer as a prayer of repentance for the week ahead.

    Christ the light of the world has come to dispel the darkness of our hearts. In his light we examine our hearts.

    We come to you in sorrow for turning away from you, and ignoring your will for our lives.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    We belong to a people who are full and satisfied, but ignore the cry of the hungry.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    We are thoughtless, and do not care enough for the world you have made.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    We store up goods for ourselves alone, as if there were no God in heaven.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    We have seen the ill treatment of others and have not gone to their aid.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    We have ignored evil and dishonesty and failed to strive for justice.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    We have heard the good news of Christ, but have failed to share it with others.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    We have not loved you with all our heart, nor our neighbors as ourselves.
    Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

    The Almighty and merciful Lord grant you forgiveness of all your sins, true repentance, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit. Amen.

    DAY 2 – Adulterous People

    Skim the book of Hosea 

    In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Brian Newman referenced the story of the prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer, found
    in the Old Testament book of Hosea. The book starts off in a really strange way. God speaks to Hosea and tells him to marry an unfaithful woman. Together, they have three children, but she continues to cheat on Hosea. In chapter three, God tells Hosea to go be reconciled to his wife. Hosea 3:1 says, “Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites.”

    This entire story is a symbol of the relationship between God and the Israelites. It still holds true today. God lavishes us with faithful love but, like Gomer, we are unfaithful.

    We don’t like to think of ourselves like the Israelites. We don’t think of ourselves as running off, cheating on God, treating him disrespectfully, refusing to listen to his commands. But God directed Hosea to marry Gomer so that the Israelites could
    have a beautiful, redeeming example of what faithful love looks like in action. God loves and pursues the adulteress. So even when we fail (and we will fail), God welcomes us back. Like the Israelites, like Gomer, we are wayward. We turn to worship other Gods. We make idols out of everything. (In Hosea, we get a review in chapters 12-14 of all of the ways the Israelites had failed in the past.)

    Hosea 11 is a beautiful, redemptive picture of how God loves us in our rebellion. (Check out verse 9: “I will not carry out
    my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man—the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities.”) God’s faithful, covenantal love remains, even when we stray.

    How are you doing? Are you faithful to God? Have you wandered? Are you creating idols, looking for another thing to worship, not loving God the way you should? Return to Day 1 and, again, pray that prayer of repentance.

    DAY 3 – Chosen People

    Ephesians 5:3-8

    Paul goes on in our passage to list some things that are no longer appropriate for the people of God. Sexual immorality, vulgar language, and greed are given as examples.

    In earlier chapters of Ephesians, Paul has spent a lot of time focusing on what God has already done for us, what has already taken place. Here, he takes a more forward, focused approach. He is asking the Ephesians to look forward and think about what they would like to become. What type of people should we be? And what steps do we need to take to become those types of people?

    God’s people are called to a different standard, a different way of life. We shouldn’t mimic the people in the world around us. 1 Peter 2:9 [MSG] says, “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

    We can easily get distracted from our calling by things like sexual immorality, greed, and foolish talk. But Paul reminds
    us that we are God’s holy people. We are God’s chosen people, and we need to act like it.

    Ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart. Is there anything in these verses that convicts you? Return to the prayer on Day 1 and ask for forgiveness.

    DAY 4 – Good Words

    Ephesians 5:3-8

    So much of our community life depends on our words, the way we speak to one another, how we speak to one another, the words we use in our conversation. Nothing can tear a community apart like words.

    There are types of words that are especially damaging to the body of Christ. In the passage you read today, Paul is especially concerned with two types of words. First, he is concerned with immoral or evil words. The word that is translated as evil is the Greek word sapros. John Stott says this is “a word used of rotten trees and rotten fruit.” So sapros speech is speech that bears rotten fruit, that is not edifying, that does not bring life.

    In Matthew 12:33-37 Jesus says, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

    But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” I doubt any of us would look forward to giving an account of every careless word we have uttered!

    Paul also warns about different kinds of words, false teaching, and cautions that people who are easily deceived will be misled with empty words that misrepresent God (v. 6).

    How is your speech these days? Is it peppered with vulgar language and dirty jokes? Does it tear down others, make fun of others, get a laugh at someone else’s expense? Is it divisive? Or does it build others up? Is it constructive? Is it life-giving? Ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and pray a prayer of repentance for the careless words you’ve uttered.

    DAY 5 – Children of Light

    Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thess. 5:5, John 12:36, 2 Cor. 6:14

    So, we’ve spent some time looking at the things we are not supposed to do. We are not supposed to speak without regard for what we are saying, we are not to be sexually impure, we are not supposed to let greed grow in our hearts. Instead, Paul tells us to “live as children of light.” But what does that even mean?

    What’s the first thing you do when the lights go out suddenly from a storm? Of course, you look for a light! You find a flashlight, turn on your phone, light a candle. Because the need for light is quite basic. Without it, we stumble. We can’t see. We can’t do our work. Light illuminates. It shows things clearly.

    Without God, we were in the dark. Colossians 1:12–13 says that we have moved from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. But Paul reminds us that we have fundamentally changed. As different as light is from darkness, that is the change we have undergone.

    On a very practical level, living as children of light means that we work to illuminate the world. It means that our speech will be filled with words that give thanks, show honor, give respect. It means that we look around us for pockets of darkness that need the illuminating light of God.

    In The Message, these verses say, “ You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day.” Do you think of yourself as a son of light or a daughter of day? Ask God for opportunities to be a child of light this week.


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