Home Altar: Week of August 1, 2021

by Doug Mason

August 1
Psalm 38:9-22

A Person Scorned

Have you ever been the object of scorn? Years ago, I worked for a small TV news operation. On two occasions I was sent on assignments to video stories, but I came back with unusable footage. The whole news team was appalled that I would blow such important assignments. But they hadn’t been there! They didn’t see me try to handle a camera, with prairie fire flames coming at me in winds of 60 miles per hour. They weren’t there when our plane was doing tricks with G forces so powerful I couldn’t hold my head up.

Today’s society often looks at Christians with scorn. “How can you believe such nonsense?” “You’re just a hater!” It’s times like those that we need to be reminded that our hope and trust is in the Lord of lords!

Precious Lord, on days when I feel rejected, hold my hand and lead me on. AMEN.

August 2
Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15

Hold the Whine

Do you know any “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” people? In our materialistic world, if we don’t have what out neighbor has, we sometimes start to pout. We read about the Israelites and their complaining to Moses in the wilderness, and it’s easy to think they are so whiny! But think about what they had, compared to what we have. Maybe it’s we who are whiny!

Throughout history God has provided his people with what they needed. If you look over this past year, where do you see God providing for you? Was there a financial struggle you couldn’t see a way out of, but something unforeseen happened and the crisis was averted? Was a relational issue repaired? Did a medical crisis or employment situation change? Wherever we see God working, we can turn our whining into praise!

Lord, remind me that you are the great provider, not me. Help me to trust that you will meet my real needs. AMEN.

August 3
1 Kings 19:4-8

Don’t Despair

“I can’t take it anymore!” Have you issued that statement before? Elijah got to that point, even after God had used him in amazing ways. All it took was a nasty note from Jezebel, and he literally wanted to end it all. But God intervened through an angel.

Here is an important point to remember: We have our limits, but God doesn’t. Reaching the end of our rope can be an opportunity to see God at work. God is our provider. He desires to help you and me, but when we go into despair (assuming we are not dealing with a mental illness like depression), God wants us to give it to him and to trust that he’s got this!

Lord, help me not to despair in difficult times. Remind me to trade my sorrows for your joy. AMEN.

August 4
JOHN 6:22-29

Foodish Pursuits

“Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life” (vv. 26-27).

Isn’t it amazing how much money each month goes to groceries? Add eating out, and food takes up a very large portion of the monthly budget. In today’s Scripture, people crossed the sea to catch up with Jesus. That is an intense pursuit. But Jesus challenged their motivation. Were they looking for this man of God who could do miracles, or just another free meal?

Jesus was suggesting that the people refocus their energy onto things eternal instead of things that perish, like food. The more we work for food, the more we may view ourselves as the provider of that food. Our Father in heaven who created everything is the one who provides it all.

Jesus, help us to pursue you based on who you are, not what you can do. AMEN.

August 5
John 6:30-35

Keeping the Faith

“What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?” (v. 30).

Have you been in the spot where you wanted God to show you a miracle, so that your faith would increase? I certainly have. It’s those moments when we don’t see or feel God working, our faith starts to waiver, and we figure a good miracle would wipe away that doubt. But history demonstrates that miracles do not necessarily increase faith. It may for a short time, but it isn’t sustaining. All the faith we need is found when we pursue God intensely and internalize that relationship.

In hard times, faith and courage are intertwined. That’s why Jesus says in John 16:33, “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

Holy Spirit, when the world presses in, help me keep the faith and courage to keep on keeping on. AMEN.

August 6
John 6:41-51

Bread of Life

If I put myself in the shoes of the people grumbling about Jesus in this passage, I have to admit, I would probably struggle—especially if I knew his parents! “Oh, come on! Joseph’s kid is the Messiah? He didn’t come down from heaven, he came from Mary’s womb!” Then when Jesus goes on to say we need to eat his flesh, I might have been saying, “I’m out of here!”

But the people had been seeing and hearing about miracles. They’ve been listening to Jesus speak great truth. They were witnessing Jesus’s amazing grasp of the Scriptures, so it had to ring true at some level. After all, they followed him across the lake!

Jesus continues to tell us that he is providing eternal life. He is the bread of life.

Jesus, you are the bread of life. Thank you for providing a path to eternity in you. AMEN.

August 7
Psalm 145:10-18

What a Mighty God We Serve

“They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power” (v. 11).

“They” are the saints—those who have followed faithfully, throughout the generations. “They” includes followers of Christ today and in the future. That means you and me. We are called to “Make known to all people your mighty deeds” (v. 12). That means our “religion” is not a private thing. Anybody who is private about their belief in Christ doesn’t understand it.

We are called to make known, not only that we are Christian, but God’s mighty deeds. If God has been our support and provision, how can we do anything less than let the whole world know of his greatness?

Lord, let my life, including my words, express my thankfulness and awe of your mighty works. AMEN.

About the Author: Doug Mason

I serve as pastor of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Baudette (the walleye capital of the world, for all you fishermen). The church sits about 200 yards from the Canadian border. My wife, Johanna, and I have four children and two grandchildren. I enjoy fishing on the water and the ice, playing guitar, and doing woodworking projects. I lead a workshop called “Oral Interpretation of Scripture,” also known as “How Not to Kill the Sermon before It Starts,” which trains laypeople and pastors how to read Scripture in public. I have a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from Kansas Wesleyan University, and a master’s degree in human resource development from Clemson University.

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