Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:3 “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
This is my kind of matching game! And I can assure you that it would not stay in a game cupboard to be played again another day! I would be most motivated to play it if I could immediately eat the pairs I found. Judging from the time recorded for this player, perhaps that is what happened! But taking that short amount of time to actually eat the chocolate pairs seems about right!
Today’s verse talks about the importance of matching something else: our behavior with our words. Jesus acknowledges that the teachers of the Law sometimes got it right. But what they consistently did not was their day-to-day practice of what they knew was true. Those listening were to be discerning. They were not told to dismiss a message that was true to God’s Word. But they were not to follow their example of legalistic and prideful self-righteousness.
The standard of practicing what is preached is a very high one. And I can relate to Paul who shares his struggle in Romans 7:18. “…I have the desire to do what is good but cannot carry it out.” I will never be able to consistently practice what I preach, hard as I may try. How gracious God is to convict and forgive me! But when I pretend that my behavior always matches my words, then I am also guilty of hypocrisy. I need to humbly see the “mismatch” and be honest with God and authentic with others! People will see my failures but hopefully they will see humility and His forgiveness as well!
Scripture for Today: Acts 4:13 “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus.”
No, this is not me. I am not that bold! But highlighting hair has been practiced as early 4 BC as the Greeks would apply a mixture of olive oil, pollen and gold flakes. With this application the women would sit for hours in the sun. It was not until the 1400’s that the addition of chemicals made for a better result. At that time highlighting involved alum, honey, lemons and sulfur! Methods today are much more effective in drawing attention to distinctive coloring.
Today’s verse describes two men who were uneducated and ordinary; Peter and John. What made them remarkable and amazing was that they had spent time with Jesus and it showed. Like highlighting hair, the fact that they knew Jesus drew attention! Because of their closeness to Jesus, they were able to live and testify with boldness. Christ made that much of a difference in their lives.
Christ is the power and wisdom of God. I am thankful that He chooses what is foolish to confound the wise! He chooses the weak to confound the mighty! (I Cor. 1:27) That means that what was said about Peter and John can potentially be said about me as well! It is Christ in me that sets me apart and makes me different. I want Jesus to be seen in my every-day life. He is to have the attention and the glory for everything positive. It does not matter that I did not attend an Ivy League school. It makes no difference that I am not a big name. It is His life in me that makes life amazing!
Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:1 “I said, ‘I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.'”
I have never seen a muzzle on a horse but apparently, it is not all that uncommon. Two different muzzles are used for two very different problems. The grazing muzzle is used when there is a problem with overeating. It will restrict their grass intake while still allowing for pasture time. Then there is the cribbing muzzle to prevent the horse from biting. Their bite will not normally break the skin but those powerful jaws can leave a deep bruise!
Today’s verse talks about a voluntary muzzle needed for our mouths, especially in the presence of the wicked. David was feeling down and discouraged with what he felt was God’s rebuke and discipline (verse 11). He expressed anguish over the fact that life is short and seemingly vain (verse 6). But David did not want any of these feelings voiced in the presence of the wicked. Even when upset with God, David did not want to malign His name.
I need to muzzle my mouth as well, especially when I am questioning the Lord or discouraged in my walk. That does not mean I cannot share these feelings with a trusted believing friend. But when I am with those who do not know the Lord, I would not want my emotional outburst to keep them from faith. I would not want my words to be an obstacle to someone else. The tongue is described as a small spark that can set on fire an entire forest (James 3:6). The damage my tongue could do could have eternal consequences!
Lord, do not ever let me malign Your beautiful and holy Name.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:15 “My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long – though I know not how to relate them all.”
The Toco Toucan is a feast for the eyes with its large colorful beak! Its beak is so large it accounts for one third of its body. With that impressive beak he plucks and peels fruit and through it regulates his body temperature. A noisy creature, he makes croaking frog and rattling sounds and he will cluck with his bill. The Toco Toucan is said to be one of the noisiest birds in the world.
In today’s verse, David is using his mouth to praise God for His righteous deeds and for his saving acts. To speak of every one of them he would have to use his mouth all day long! They are without measure or too numerous to count. David’s mouth is filled with praise (verse 8) from his birth (verse 6) and since his youth (verse 17). Even when he is old and gray, David sees himself declaring God’s power to the next generation (verse 18). David is noisy with praise to God all through his life.
I can be just as noisy as this bird but perhaps not always with praise to God! I can easily be like the Israelites in the desert, grumbling and complaining about what I do not have. My noise can be all about the need for attention and recognition. I can get real noisy about “my rights” when I feel they are being ignored. But when my “noise” is about God’s goodness and grace, His power and glory, my noise becomes like a beautiful melody that gives Him praise!
Scripture for Today: Psalm 60:4 “But for those who fear You, You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.”
This elaborate banner was a flag proudly carried by Napoleon Bonaparte’s Imperial Guard foot soldiers in 1813. It is either an original or a very early reproduction. Banners like these were normally carried on staffs capped with a gilt bronze eagle to symbolize divine authority. Unfortunately, the eagle finial for this one was stolen in 1990 from the museum housing it. So much for divine authority! The foot soldier appointed to carry this banner had to be someone recognized for their bravery as he was an obvious target for the enemy.
Today’s verse has a banner that has been raised by our God and does indeed denote divine authority! It is raised for those that fear and obey Him. Unlike those who were experiencing discipline in this psalm, God’s faithful ones could depend on Him to save and help with His powerful right hand (verse 5). Those who fear, respect and obey the Lord are in a battle for His cause; the cause of truth, justice and righteousness.
God has raised this banner for me. How amazing for this puny foot soldier to be part of His plan! Because He has raised it for me, I know I will be victorious over enemies! But I do need to unfurl it. It is my identifying mark. I want to unfurl His banner with confidence, standing for the truth of who Jesus is and the veracity and authority of His Word. Regardless of possible negative attention, I never want to be ashamed of my Lord (II Tim. 1:8). After all, He is not ashamed of me as His banner over me is love (Song of Songs 2:4).
Thank you Lord, for the privilege of standing up for You!