You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11
This verse that ends Psalm 16 is one of pure comfort, isn’t it? A known path, joy, God’s presence, unending pleasures at the hand of God. It almost sounds too good to be true.
That’s the beauty of having faith in Jesus. Through him who died and became alive again, we are heirs of all the comforts of Psalm 16. Too good to be true? No. It’s all for you.
Reread this verse again. Dig into the entire Psalm if you desire; it’s not a long one. Let these promises give you comfort and hope for what is to come!
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:3-7
Put others first. It’s a lesson we’ve all learned since childhood. Be kind to others, treat others as you want to be treated, serve your dinner guests first before filling your own plate.
As kids, we may have grumbled or never fully grasped this concept. As adults, we try our best to be kind, polite, and courteous toward others. At times, we still grumble. After all, we are not perfect people.
But we do have a perfect example and something pure to strive for as we attempt to serve others in humility. Jesus is that perfect example, and he defines humility. A man and yet true God, he made himself nothing for the benefit of others. He served others his whole life and died a torturous death. Can we ever match that humility? No. But we can do our best to imitate it, and we most certainly can tell others about our perfect Jesus: our humble example and our loving Savior.
But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
Aren’t these words beautiful? The Lord was labeling his precious child Israel loved and important. “Let all fear leave you, Jacob. I created you; I made you. I redeemed you. I called you by name. You are mine.”
These comforting promises remind me of my baptismal banner. Since I was just a two week old baby, I don’t remember the actual event of my baptism. But as a child, I frequently read the words of Isaiah 43:1 that were lovingly crafted onto a felt banner that hung in my bedroom. “You are mine.”
We belong to someone. Isn’t that something we all crave so deeply? In a world where identity is often associated with our work group, our friends, and our social circles but where that longing is never completely satisfied, God promises us that we belong to him. “You are mine.” That is our true and ultimate identity: a child of God!
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
Our bodies age and decay, but our souls will enjoy life forever. The trials and struggles and frustrations that bombard our daily routines are only temporary and are specs compared to the eternal glory that awaits us.
So, do not lose heart, Paul says. Renewal and glory are on their way!
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. Exodus 12:12-13
The account of the Passover is familiar for most of us: God instructs Moses to have the people mark their doorposts with lamb’s blood so that judgment will pass over their household. It’s a beautiful foretelling of the sacrifice that Jesus would make so that God would pass over you and me, too.
It’s interesting to think about, though, that we are saved from death by a death. According to our sinful tendencies, which none of us can escape, we are all doomed to death. We fail to meet the perfection needed to stand before God as an innocent being. That’s where Jesus steps in and helps us out.
But he doesn’t gift us with some sort of magic eraser to remove our sinful blotches or provide with a fancy spell to recite and undo all our wrongs. He gives us a death – his own. When he died, our sinful nature died with him. And when he rose, we were guaranteed life eternal through his resurrection. Stories don’t get any more beautiful than that.
If you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket. If you enter your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to their standing grain. Deuteronomy 23:24-25
A law from the Lord, these instructions concerning a neighbor’s agricultural goods were given to the Israelite community. Vineyards were common and plentiful and grain would have been an important crop.
It is interesting that God makes this distinction between being allowed to pick just a few grapes or grain kernels verses harvesting any substantial amount of food. By stating the law this way, perhaps God was protecting the land owner from losing out on his own crops and also protecting the passerby from hunger.
God is thoughtful and caring. He takes into consideration our needs and lovingly provides for us. He also writes his law into our hearts to protect us from straying too far from him. He is wise. And he is also gentle.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
Habakkuk the prophet was waiting on the Lord. Israel was in dire need of God’s powerful, mighty, saving hand. Habakkuk knew full well the potential of God’s wondrous hand: splitting the earth with rivers and raising mountains, parting seas, and crushing enemy nations. But God was being silent.
Sometimes it feels like God is silent in our lives, too. We need direction or guidance and answers just don’t seem readily available. We pray and we plead and nothing seems to change.
Yet in the midst of God’s silence, Habakkuk remembered to rejoice in the Lord always. We should do like Habakkuk did. Praise God in our uncertainty. Thank him in our times of distress. Rejoice in the one who promises deliverance. The God who raised Mount Everest and watered the Nile, who appeared to his people as a pillar of fire, and who sent his only son to die in our place surely will come to our aid, in his time.
Wait on the Lord. Praise his holy name!
When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. Exodus 16:14-15
What is it? The Hebrew translation of this phrase is “manna.” What the Israelites marveled over was the Lord’s blessing for them: a filling food source available every morning.
God provides us with filling food, too. It’s not just available in the morning hours, but all the time. His Word is the most nourishing food we will ever ingest. Bread and meat might keep our tummies satisfied for a few hours, but the living word of Jesus Christ satisfies for a lifetime.
Through the messages in the Bible, God shares his promises of forgiveness of all our sins and life forever with Him in heaven, where we will never be hungry and we will want for nothing.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Downtrodden? Depressed? Pessimistic? Lonely? Hopeless? Grieving? All of these?
If a person who is poor in spirit refers to any of the above mentioned descriptions, then we are all poor in spirit. And if we are not poor at the moment, we have been in the dumps at one time or most likely will be at some point in the future.
But this is good news, for if we are poor in spirit, then the kingdom of heaven is for us. We are blessed; heaven is ours! It might seem pretty contradictory to rejoice over being poor, but in this case, being poor is cause for celebration. Jesus promises heaven to us! Alleluia!
I have been without internet for the past week and will likely be without it a little longer; that is why I have not posted at all this week. As soon as internet service is available to me again, I will continue the devotions and will make extra posts for the days that were missed. I apologize for the delay.
In the meantime, rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus!
Happy Easter! Christ is risen! Alleluia!
–Little Manna author