Monday, August 29, 2016

Day 143: Luke 21:1-19 & Psalm 139 - What Kind of Life Pleases God?

Today's Reading: Luke 21:1-19 & Psalm 139

Get the full reading plan

What Kind of Life Pleases God?

And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." - Luke 21:3-4, ESV

What kind of life pleases God? Is it a life of service? of sacrifice? of heroism? of fame and great accomplishment? Well, the widow who gave her last two copper coins didn't gain anyone's attention other than Jesus, who saw her gift and made sure His disciples saw it, too. The key to her gift was not its size but her faith. "She . . . put in all she had to live on."

Later in the passage, when Jesus warns of coming persecution, He tells His disciples, "This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict (vv. 13-15)." Jesus did not want His disciples depending on their own wisdom and eloquence. He wanted them to trust Him to provide them with the wisdom and words they would need.

The common element between the poor widow and Jesus' instructions for the persecuted disciple is faith. The life that pleases God is a life of faith. Faith, as Jesus commends it and describes it here, is the opposite of self-reliance. We are used to praising and honoring self-made and self-reliant men. But no man ever made himself anything, and God is pleased with those who know this and who depend on Him and not on themselves.

We can be tempted to rely on almost anything other than God: our money, our wisdom, our freedoms, our family, our skill, our connections, etc. All of these blessings are given to us by God, and while we should be thankful for all of them, we should not find our identity, our security, our comfort or our fulfillment in any of them. God alone should be our hope and our trust. He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and He is the Keeper of His children.

A life of faith pleases God because it honors God for who He is and never seeks to put anyone or anything else in His place. God is pleased with a life of faith because it glorifies Him and it is best for us. When we depend on Him alone, He gets the glory and we get the real security our hearts need - in Him alone! 

Prayer Based on Psalm 139:

This is such a beautiful, powerful psalm. We should just take time to pray it as it is written and really meditate on it in prayer before the Lord who knows and loves us so well:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me,
    and Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to You;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with You.

For You formed my inward parts;
    You knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in Your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with You.

Oh that You would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against You with malicious intent;
    Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

Here are some songs to help us worship God and meditate on Psalm 139:

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