A Praise Test

Day 326 

Ezekiel 44:1-45:12; 1 Peter 1:1-12; Psalm 119:17-32; Proverbs 28:8-10

A Praise Test

Peter’s letter was written to an audience that was confused and discouraged by the persecution they were encountering because of their faith. It was evident that faith was present and that it was being lived out in the lives of these believers because they were paying the price for standing strong in the midst of those who disagreed. Notice in verses 6-7 that Peter actually encourages them to rejoice in the various trials, but the more important thing to see is why they should rejoice. Rejoice because the testing of your faith may prove it (your faith) to be more precious than gold and results in praise and glory and honor in Jesus Christ.

The reality is that we all have trials and hardships and that will never go away in this life, but Peter’s encouragement is to look to future glory. Because of that we can and should rejoice in the here and now. When we do this, Jesus Himself receives the glory and honor due His name.

What are you struggling with at the moment? What trial is trying to push you down and take the joy from you that would result in praise if you did not allow it to defeat you?

Lord, give me the focus today to bring you honor, glory, and praise through any circumstance that may come my way. AMEN.

The Rev. Wes Sharp
Holy Cross Episcopal Church
Trussville, AL

Looking for the Harvest

Day 325 

Ezekiel 42:1-43:27; James 5:1-20; Psalm 119:1-
16; Proverbs 28:6-7

Looking for the Harvest

In James’ letter, he tells us to be patient and then uses the illustration of a farmer to highlight what that patience looks like. A farmer only sees the little seed that goes into the ground and then doesn’t even see that. He tends the ground, watches the rain feed the soil, and anticipates bringing up the finished fruit that will be harvested. Ezekiel is also seeing a future harvest. The city of Jerusalem has been destroyed and her people have been planted in a foreign land. The Temple where they would connect with God has been destroyed, and the Israelites can only see the brokenness of their current situation. It’s at the point when they are broken that God shows Ezekiel the final harvest, the new Temple that will come with the promise of God dwelling among them once again.

What do we see in the broken ground of our own lives? Do we only see the hopelessness of our current situation? It’s at these points in our lives that we need to look ahead at the coming harvest God is bringing into our lives. It is hard to endure suffering with patience, but God is not calling us to do it alone. He comes pouring life-giving rain onto our lives. As we anticipate God moving in our lives, God Himself is looking forward to the Child of God we are becoming. So let us plant God’s Word in our hearts in anticipation of the life He is growing within us.

The Rev. Paul Head
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Winter Haven, FL

Distraction Comes Easy, Dedication Takes Work

Day 324 

Ezekiel 40:28-41:26; James 4:1-17; Psalm 118:19-29; Proverbs 28:3-5

Distraction Comes Easy, Dedication Takes Work

Do you ever find yourself quick to fall off the “Christian wagon”? Sometimes I will be on my commute to work and will be praying along the way for God to use me in His mighty way that day, and, before I can finish my prayer, I use that same breath to shout things at the driver that cut me off or is driving too slow. Also, I work hard to guard my eyes and mind from adultery, and, before I can catch myself, I see an attractive woman, and my mind is racing a million miles and hour thinking about the things that I should not be thinking about.

What is wrong with me? Have I not been given the greatest love and grace the world will ever know through the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ? Why do I do these things, especially so soon after seeking to love and honor the Lord?

We are all prone to worldliness. It is only in struggle and daily devotion and dedication that we change and grow to be more like Christ. Our aim should be to recognize our sinfulness, to repent, and to move forward with the grace freely offered from God. Distraction comes easily; strive to work hard on your daily dedication to godliness.

Jordan Stevenson
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
Marietta, GA