Home Altar: Week of October 3, 2021

by Mark Torres

October 3
Job 1:1; 2:1-10

Are You Maintaining Your Integrity?

It’s a tough world out there! When bad things happen, it is tempting to blame somebody, especially God. Job had the perfect opportunity to blame God. God said Job was “blameless and upright,” yet Job endured unimaginable suffering. Through it all, Job maintained his integrity.

Are you dismayed by the troubles in the world? Have you felt tempted to “Curse God and die” as Job’s wife suggested (v. 9)? How do we maintain our integrity during bad times? Part of the answer lies in Job’s response: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (v. 10). 

We can be honest about the chaos even as we put our hope in God’s sovereignty. Let us ask God to give us the mind to accept hardships as a pathway to peace. Pray for an increase in moral courage. And pray that God helps you maintain your integrity throughout the fight!

God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. AMEN.

October 4
Psalm 26

Brutally Honest with God

Have you ever felt so right you knew you could not be wrong? In Psalm 26 David looks to God for vindication and deliverance from his enemies. But first he asks, “test me…examine my heart and my mind” (v. 2, NIV). David is brutally honest with God. That helps increase his self-awareness and confidence needed to press on in the fight.

How do we maintain our integrity in conflict? It requires a unity of spirit and an uncompromising authenticity that comes when we cry out, “Examine my heart, God!” Before you engage the conflict with others, be honest with God first. He is faithful to reveal our blind spots, hidden agendas, subconscious motives, and even our pride. As we live in reliance on him, we feel our feet on level ground. 

God, search our hearts and reveal our sin to us. Lead us in the path of righteousness not for our sakes, but for your glory alone. AMEN.

October 5
Mark 9:38-50

The Stakes Are Too High!

This passage troubled me in the past, with its language about plucking out, cutting off, throwing into the sea. Ouch, Jesus! Why so harsh? I think I get it better now. This is a stern warning for the disciples of Christ. Cut out and remove all hindrances that stand against God’s kingdom—jealousy, fears, pride, even competition. Don’t let others stumble because you can’t get it right. The stakes are too high!

The battle is still tough today and we don’t always get it right. But God’s kingdom is too important. We must maintain an unyielding commitment to his mission. Let us purge ourselves of unrighteousness, serve at our limits, and inspire others to do the same! Be salty, remove obstacles, and “be at peace with each other” (v. 50, NIV).

Jesus, we confess that we have allowed obstacles to hinder your mission. Forgive us! Help us cut out these obstacles and embrace your mission together. AMEN.

October 6
Mark 10:1-16

The Family Mission First

In this passage, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus on the question of divorce. Apparently, a man could conveniently divorce his wife with as little as a written certificate. Jesus uses this opportunity to teach his disciples that marriage commitments matter to God. Afterward, the disciples try to block children from getting close to Jesus. Perhaps they thought children were not important enough, or because ministry is too busy. Wrong again! Jesus instructs them that children matter and theirs is the kingdom of God.

Sometimes we want to change the world, but we look past our own home. This passage calls us to support the family mission first. Integrity means honoring our commitments at home. Love, respect, protect, and honor for spouse, children, and parents. Don’t let selfishness, ambition, or busyness be the cause of their downfall. After all, God uses families to bring about his kingdom.

God, strengthen our commitment to the family mission. Help us love, respect, protect, and nurture those you have entrusted to our care. AMEN.

October 7
Mark 12:13-17

Guard Your Heart

In this passage the Pharisees try to leverage the crowds to trap Jesus on a contentious social issue: is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Jesus leans on his own credibility to convey a deeper message—Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s; give to God what is God’s. Okay, Jesus! Caesar might have some things, but God has everything, including our hearts. The crowds were amazed. Again, Jesus’s authority was backed by his undeniable integrity.

There are many demands on our lives today—politics, relationships, economics. Sometimes we blend our salvation with our worldly concerns. Those are important, but don’t get them too tangled. God owns your heart! Stay aligned to what’s deeper within. Give away your time, your money, and your energy—and always guard your heart. That alone belongs to God.

Jesus, sometimes we come dangerously close to compromising our heavenly relationship with worldly concerns. Protect us from the tyranny of Caesar. Help us to guard our hearts and abide in you. AMEN.

October 8
Hebrews 4:12-16

Everything Is Uncovered, Jesus?

The author of Hebrews tells us that God’s Word is a living, razor sharp, double-edged sword that penetrates, cuts, and divides. “Everything is uncovered and laid bare” (v. 13, NIV). Wait—everything is uncovered? That thought can invoke a sense of fear of being vulnerable before God. What about the secret sins lodged next to our heart? But be confident! God’s competence is matched by his character.

He is an empathetic High Priest who understands our predicament and is equally as merciful as he is capable. Integrity means being honest and vulnerable before God with our raw selves. But we have a High Priest who empathizes with our temptations and understands our weaknesses. Confess your sins before God. He is capable, qualified, and merciful.

Jesus, you are our High Priest who can empathize with our predicament. Expose, cut out, and remove the sins lodged in our heart. Despite our weaknesses, embolden us to approach your throne of grace with confidence. AMEN.

October 9
Hebrews 6:10-12

Keep the Faith

Hebrews 6:10-12 reminds its audience that despite growing weary and tired, they must stay diligent in faith and love until the very end. God sees and remembers our faithfulness. It is not in vain!

Have you grown weary in your faith? Does the whole thing seem useless against the backdrop of never-ending chaos? Especially in a world where we measure success by results, we can run the risk of growing tired. But do not lose heart. God is our audience! The reward is not merely the product of our labors; the reward is that he sees our devotion. Let us imitate others who get it right and stay diligent in our faithfulness as an act of worship to him.

God, help us when we grow weary in faith. Remind us that our greatest reward is not merely the product of our labor; our greatest reward is that you are still glorified in our lives. AMEN.

About the Author: Mark Torres

I grew up in Morgan Hill, California, and recommitted my life to Christ in 1995. I received my first call as a youth/staff pastor at First Covenant Church in Oakland, California (2003–2006). Since 2008, I have served as an active duty United States Navy chaplain. I have been stationed in Okinawa, San Diego, and Camp Pendleton, and have deployed to multiple countries in support of our service members. My current assignment is as the Command Chaplain aboard the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, home of the “Fighting Seabees.” Recently my wife, Jody, and I celebrated 20 years of marriage. We have three children, ages 17, 14, and 11. Yes, life gets busy! After the Navy, I hope to return home and continue to support the ministry somewhere in California—I am still a Cali boy at heart! 

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