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Longing for God (Who Is this Man?)

(Fifth Sunday after Pentecost) SUNDAY, July 10
Psalm 42

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (v. 1, NIV).

Today’s Scripture resonates for many of us who remember times when God seemed near and his presence obvious and precious. Certain places and people may bring back memories, maybe even a tear. Sometimes music stirs our hearts, and we wish for those times of sweet fellowship again, a longing for the way it was. “Why isn’t it still like that? God, where are you?” Can we be homesick for God? This is a struggle we may seldom share with others. It’s rather private. But in this psalm we find permission to be lonely or discouraged, and then begin to find our way back. 

It’s as if the writer has a wakeup call (v. 11). “What am I thinking? God is still here. God is always here! I will put my hope in God and turn my heart to praise. I will praise my Savior and my God.” 

Today, my Savior and my God, I will begin with praise. Please remind me to always praise you first. Amen.


What Are You Doing Here? (Part 1)

MONDAY, July 11
1 Kings 19:1-10

In 1 Kings 18, God told Elijah to challenge King Ahab and the 850 prophets of Baal to a contest to see whose god was real. As the crowd watched, the prophets of Baal built an altar, arranged wood, and cut up a sacrifice. They sang, danced, even cut themselves for hours, but nothing happened. Then Elijah built a simple altar, placed a sacrifice on it, doused it with water, and prayed, “Let it be known that you, O Lord, are God in Israel” (v. 36, NRSV). Boom! Fire from heaven! 

Angry Queen Jezebel told Elijah she would have him killed. Terrified, he ran away into the desert. An angel brought him bread and water, and Elijah traveled on until he found a cave. Then the Lord spoke to him, asking, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” Elijah answered, “I have worked so hard for you and nobody else is doing anything! Now they want to kill me!” 

Have you ever given your best and felt unappreciated?

Lord God, sometimes I’m not okay. That is when I most need to be honest with you. Help me come to you first and be honest, whether I’m okay or not. Thank you for listening to each of us. Amen.

What Are You Doing Here? (Part 2)

TUESDAY, July 12
1 Kings 19:11-15

When Elijah finally gave voice to his anger and his fear, notice God’s reaction. God said, “Go stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Elijah obeyed and experienced a huge windstorm, but the Lord wasn’t in the wind. Then an earthquake shook the mountain, followed by a fire, but the Lord was in neither of those. Then Elijah heard a gentle whisper and the same question again: “Elijah, what are you doing here?” 

Elijah told the Lord exactly what he had said the first time. There was no condemnation or blame from the Lord. God heard the prophet’s frustration and anger and helped him reset his focus on his next steps. God knew exactly what this worn-out, obedient man could handle and what he needed. He also gave him an apprentice so he wouldn’t be alone. Our God is a superb Counselor and Friend. 

Thank you, Lord, for your gentle whisper. Help us hear you. Help us to speak truth to you and watch for you to show us our next steps. Amen.

Who Are You?

Luke 7:18-23

God’s people were watching for a Savior because their history and their Scripture foretold it. Some people were confused by Jesus. Great crowds gathered to hear his teaching and witness his miracles. Who is this man?

Jesus had been teaching and ministering to the crowds when two disciples of John the Baptist came to see him. It is said that John was the prophetic bridge between the Old Covenant and the New, foretold by the prophet Malachi (Malachi 4:5-6) and announced to Zechariah, John’s dad, in Luke 1:16-17. 

John’s disciples gave Jesus the message: “Are you the one that is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (v. 19, NIV). Jesus told them to go back to John and report what they had seen and heard. “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (v. 23, NIV). Jesus answered questions with evidence, not argument, telling them, “Think about what you have seen.”

Lord, you take our questions seriously, and you answer with evidence if we will wait and watch and listen expectantly. May we each dare to ask, “Who are you?” Amen.



Who Is this Man?

Luke 8:22-25

Jesus’s schedule must have been exhausting. When he wasn’t teaching and healing, he met with the Pharisees to teach and love them. He interacted with people, told parables, cast out demons, and healed many. One day Jesus and the disciples took a boat and headed across the lake, and apparently the rocking of the waves lulled Jesus to sleep. Imagine, Jesus napping in your boat! 

Suddenly the weather turned, the waves grew fierce, and his friends were afraid. “Master, wake up! We’re all about to drown!” Picture this. Jesus got up, spoke to the wind and the waves and told them, in effect, “Knock it off!” And things got calm. Can you imagine their faces? 

Jesus looked at his friends and simply said, “Where is your faith?” They said to each other, “Who is this man that even the winds and waves obey him?” 

Ah, Lord Jesus! Please draw near to each of us and help us to know what an amazing friend you are to your disciples. I am amazed. Thank you and amen.



We Know Who You Are. Please Leave.

FRIDAY, July 15
Luke 8:26-39

When Jesus’s boat came to shore, he was met by a man who was possessed by demons who recognized who Jesus was. “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!” (v. 28).  

The man had been taken over by many evil spirits and was living, chained up, outside the town. People were terrified of him. The story says that Jesus asked his name and then sent the demons away so that everyone knew they were gone for good. When word got out and the townspeople came to investigate, they found the man dressed and in his right mind, sitting at Jesus’s feet. They were so shaken by this that they asked Jesus to please get back in his boat and leave. The healed man wanted to go with Jesus but instead Jesus commissioned him to tell others what happened to him. 

O Lord! Some recognize you and are changed. Some recognize you and are too afraid to let you stay with them. Remind us today of ways you have come into our stories and shown us who you are. Please stay. Amen.



Let Me Tell You Who You Are

Galatians 3:23-29

Paul writes this letter to Christians in Galatia, perhaps as early as 48 AD. Paul tells the people exactly who they were in their new faith: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith….There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (vv. 26-27, NIV).

God asks each of us to keep telling this good news as we experience Christ’s presence in our lives. Jesus’s death and resurrection completed the covenant requirements, so we are saved by faith and no longer live under the law. In yesterday’s Scripture we met the man who was set free from demons and wanted to jump into the boat with Jesus. Instead, Jesus gave him an important job—the same job he has given us. Go be a witness of the good news to the world. 

Lord, remind us that we are heirs of your promises. We are commissioned to bear witness to others. Please make us into the image bearers you have created and enabled us to be. Thank you. We love you. Amen.

About the Author

  • Jan Kempe

    I grew up in the Covenant church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Every summer my family packed up and moved to Portage Lake Bible Camp where we all worked: Dad as manager, Mom and sisters as cooks, brother as lifeguard. My job was to grow up and learn things (being youngest had its perks). I got to know God there and learned to pray, usually outdoors, usually out loud, watching and listening for God’s responses and directions. I can’t imagine a better way to grow up. Jon and I married six days after we graduated from North Park College and lived in Illinois, New Jersey, and North Carolina before moving to Saint John, Indiana, to be near our kids and six grandkids. As an author, speaker, teacher, minister, church planter, pastoral counselor, professor, and director of a nonprofit ministry for women, I have been well equipped to be a shepherd, a pastor outside the church (Matthew 18:12-14). So many lambs! I’m not sure shepherds get to retire.

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