Home Altar: Week of May 16, 2021

by Josiah Cheng

Stepping into Grace

Sunday, May 16

Grace is God’s gift to us that is neither earned nor deserved. In our passage today, we see many examples of how God will judge the sinner. Despite the justice that is deserved, the prophet Malachi ends with words of God giving grace: “Return to me, and I will return to you” (v. 7).

When I think about the topic of grace, I often think about how God transformed the Apostle Paul. If God can forgive someone who actively spoke against and even murdered Christians, what are some ways God can forgive you and me? The passage ends with, “How shall we return?” (v. 7). We return by accepting God’s grace through repentance. Repentance entails not only apologizing but also turning away from the direction we were moving. Like Paul, let us turn away from any destructive or sinful paths and step into God’s grace.

Lord Jesus, help us to recognize where we need to repent. Please take our hands and guide our steps into your path of grace. In Jesus’s name, AMEN.

Monday, May 17

Walking with the Lord

“Chirp, chirp, chirp,” baby birds say when they hear their mother. Immediately, they shoot their heads up with beaks wide open. The mother quickly responds to their calls for food and feeds them. Just as the hatchlings rely on their mother, we are reliant on the Lord’s law. During busy seasons of life, it can be easy for us to forget this need. Today’s passage reveals that when we are fed by the law, we find happiness, delight, fruit, prosperity, and health.

Sometimes we are tempted to live life without focusing on more “important things.” Soon feelings of sadness, defeat, anxiety, tiredness, or shame appear. Instead of thinking legalistically, perhaps we approach Scripture the same way we approach dessert. Dessert brings joy, excitement, and satisfaction. And Scripture brings a deeper sense of fulfillment than any of these feelings.

Lord, please help us to choose to dive daily into Scripture. Help us to see the benefits and joy in your word. AMEN.

Tuesday, May 18
ISAIAH 45:9-12

Leaping in Confidence

There is a point in life when you realize your parents are not perfect. Often this happens during the teenage years. Instead of trusting their parents, teens start to think they know how to navigate life better than they do. They may find themselves questioning every decision their parents make.

In a similar way, we may find ourselves questioning God about the many wrongs in our world. Leaving Egypt, the Israelites had many doubts. They challenged God—which resulted in an entire generation’s demise. Isaiah makes clear that God is powerful and the creator of all things. Though we encounter difficulties in this world, we can trust our loving Maker and move forward with confidence.

Dear God, please help us to trust you and be reminded of your gospel every day. Please give us confidence in your plans. AMEN.

Wednesday, May 19
ISAIAH 45:18-19

Taking the Extra Step

This passage shows us that the Lord has taken extra steps to ensure the earth is a good creation. He did not leave the earth to chaotic randomness. It was created with purpose.

The local car dealership intentionally includes a free car wash with each oil change. They could easily just do the oil change and quickly move on to the next customer. However, they purposefully spend the extra time to wash their customer’s car in order to give it a personal touch. They go above and beyond.

There is always room to go the extra mile when it comes to serving others. The creativity and time spent choosing how to proceed in this way provides favorable results. May we be purposeful in our decisions and creative in intentionally taking the extra step.

Thank you, Lord, for being intentional with our planet and our lives. Help us to take the extra step with each other. AMEN.

Thursday, May 20
JOHN 17:6-11

Synchronizing with Jesus

Children learn many things from their parents through imitation. If a parent has a specific accent or mannerism, their children usually adopt those behaviors. This type of imitation or form of synchronization happens across friendships, role models, family, and acquaintances.

Instead of this type of imprinting happening randomly or unintentionally, Jesus asks his followers to imitate him with purpose. When we choose this, we begin to understand our loving Savior in a deeper way. This understanding reveals the truths of the world and why Jesus was sent by God. May God reveal to us how to further synchronize with him and learn deeper truths about him as well as ourselves.

Dear God, please show us how to be one with you. Allow us to thirst for more of you. AMEN.

Friday, May 21
JOHN 17:12-19

Building Momentum

When my parents were teaching me how to ride a bike without training wheels, they would bring me up to the top of a hill. They wanted me to pedal and balance using the momentum of rolling downhill. I had a lot of fear of falling down or running into something, but I was able to conquer that fear through the encouragement of my parents.

Jesus began his ministry by protecting his disciples. He then gave them truth and revealed that they do not belong to this world. Now that Jesus has ascended into heaven, the training wheels are off; we are tasked with spreading the truth. Jesus has brought us up to the hilltop. We are not alone, and he is here to encourage us. Let’s use this downhill momentum into our relationships with others, allowing us to share the truth.

Dear Lord, please help us build momentum with people in our lives and share the good news you have given us. AMEN.

Saturday, May 1
JOHN 5:9-13

Finishing with Life

The athletes perform their stretches and warmups as they stand on the platforms. They get into position. The electronic beep sounds, and they all dive into the water. The swimmers are neck and neck. It’s been 150 meters and Ryan Lochte is leading, with the others slowly catching up. Suddenly, Michael Phelps pulls ahead and doesn’t give up his lead, setting a world record. Phelps did it, winning the first gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Throughout the race of life, we experience ups and downs. At times it may feel like a force is working against you and there’s no breaking through the darkness. Looking to our left and right, we feel like we are falling behind. However, God’s gift of the gospel has already made us gold medalists before we even started the race. Let us finish well by choosing Jesus.

Dear Jesus, please remind us of how you have won. Show those who are weary the way to eternal life. AMEN.

About the Author: Josiah Cheng

I grew up in Los Angeles, California, where I heard my call to ministry in high school. Following my undergrad at UCLA and service as a college ministry coordinator, I moved across the country to Massachusetts for seminary with my gifted and beloved wife, Grace. I finished my MDiv at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and started working at Naperville (Illinois) Covenant Church as the student ministries pastor. Through the influences of Billy Graham, Tim Keller, and Francis Chan, I desire to share the life-changing gospel of Jesus with any and every person. When I am not watching the latest movie, I make sure to beat our youth in video games and take pictures of my wandering adventures.

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