God Is Our Fortress

SUNDAY, June 11
Second Sunday After Pentecost
Psalm 46

Psalm 46 celebrates God’s power and protection during times of calamitous judgment. “Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall,” notes the psalmist (v. 6, NIV). We find ourselves in a similar moment. We scan the horizon and so many things we believed to be stable have given way. In these moments the psalmist helps us discern God’s judgment against world systems bent on sin and warfare. God brings desolation to those plotting evil. But as God’s judgment unfolds, his people can rest secure. It’s not a time to panic, because “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (v. 7). It’s a time to “be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10). 

When our world is turned upside down, it’s always a precious and unique opportunity to (re)discover the power and presence of God.

God, thank you for a grace that protects and preserves us during times of chaos. Thank you that in disruption and confusion we can experience and know your peace and power. You are our fortress. Show yourself strong in our lives. AMEN.


Judgment Is God’s Response to the
Abuse of His Gifts

MONDAY, June 12
Genesis 6:9-22

The context for one of God’s most striking judgments in the Old Testament is found in verse 11 of today’s reading: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” We see an important pattern emerge in the texts dealing with God’s judgment. God’s judgments are neither arbitrary nor vindictive. They come after undeserved grace and patience have been extended to those set on destructive ways of living. God’s judgment against the peoples of Noah’s day can only be understood in the context of a culture diametrically opposed to the safety, flourishing, joy, and prosperity God intends for all people and his creation. When we defiantly refuse to follow God’s ways to peace and prosperity, God may withhold judgment, but only for so long. Persistent sin demands a response from a holy and righteous God.

God, thank you that you do not sin and that evil does not continue unabated. Thank you that your love compels you to intervene, so that we do not destroy ourselves and each other. Teach us to see your judgment as your loving response to the abuse of your gifts of life and love. AMEN.

When Judging Comes Easily to Us

TUESDAY, June 13
Romans 2:1-4

It is much easier to confess the sins of others than the sins that live within my own heart. The apostle Paul calls out those in the Roman church who are quick to highlight the judgment others deserve, while remaining blind to the very same sins at work in their lives. God’s judgment is based on the truth. Our judgments, however, are often based on a mixture of bias, ignorance, presumption, and smug self-righteousness. The warning is clear: We must be very careful not to judge others, because we shouldn’t expect to evade God’s judgment. Instead, we should be slow to mete out judgment, because it is kindness—not condemnation—that often leads people to forsake sin and turn to God.

God, I confess that so often judging others comes easily for me. Please keep me from a haughty spirit that focuses on the sins of those around me. Teach me to show patience and kindness, especially with those who sin in ways that are familiar to me. AMEN.


God’s Judgment Leads to New Life

Genesis 7:24; 8:14-22

God’s judgment always holds a larger goal in mind beyond simply the eradication of sin and evil. That’s why God’s judgments have a purifying element to them. They are designed to destroy sin without destroying us. In the story of Noah, the earth is cleansed from corruption and violence, but humanity is not wiped out. Noah and his family are protected in order to move into a renewal of humanity and its role within creation. God’s judgment leads to new life. As scholar Derek Kidner notes: “As almost a second Adam (9:1) he steps into a virgin world washed clean by judgment, and the spectacular deliverance in the ark is seen as a mere preliminary to salvation proper, which is a new creation. The New Testament sees the flood and the rite of baptism as twin expressions of this reality (1 Peter 3:18-22): that is, of the provision of a way through death into life” (Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, 100).  

Thank you that even in judgment you move us toward new hope, new life, and new creation. Thank you that in our baptism you wash away our sin without washing us away. Thank you for providing a way through death and into the life that is truly life. AMEN.

Jesus’s Judgment

Matthew 9:35–10:15

In this passage Jesus coaches his disciples to anticipate rejection. For those who reject God’s good news in Jesus, Christ himself instructs his disciples to use the dramatic gesture of shaking off the dust from their feet—a symbolic act that indicated a severed relationship. Those homes would face a judgment more severe than Sodom and Gomorrah (which was destroyed by fire and brimstone in Genesis chapter 19)! We are not used to thinking of Jesus as judgmental. But as we recently learned, God’s judgment is based on the truth. If Jesus is truly God’s path to escape eternal judgment and receive forgiveness, cleansing, and eternal life by grace through faith, then refusing to turn from sin and toward him leaves only judgment as the inevitable consequence. How does Jesus’s warning land in your own soul today?

Jesus, thank you that you did not come to condemn the world but to save it. Give us grace to see this truth and to respond in faith and trust. AMEN.


Judged Because of Jesus

FRIDAY, June 16
Matthew 10:16-25

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (v. 16). This imagery would have filled the hearts of the disciples with dread. Are they being sent by Jesus out to slaughter? To make matters worse, Jesus assures them, “You will be hated by everyone because of me” (v. 22). Those who devote themselves to Christ and his mission will face a judgment from those happily participating in the world’s idolatrous systems. Do we expect that our faith will endear us to others? While we may hope for this, Jesus counsels us otherwise. We must not behave antagonistically in the world (“be innocent as doves,” v. 16), but even when we are at our best, our most gracious, and our most loving, some will choose to see our devotion to Jesus as a cause for scorn, hatred, and even violent retaliation.   

Jesus, keep me committed to you, regardless of the condemnation I face from others. Strengthen me. Give me grace to stand firm. AMEN.

How Our Actions Judge Us

Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28

The Bible reveals to us that God has designed reality in such a way that there is no action without a consequence—for good or ill. To God’s people entering the promised land, Moses reminds the people of this truth: The choice set before us is between blessing and curse. Blessing if we listen to and obey God, but curse if we reject God and turn to an alternative, idolatrous devotion. With each action we invest a seed into one of two grounds: blessing or curse. Over time, those seeds germinate, grow, and lead to a harvest. A harvest of blessing and life for those who choose God’s ways, and a harvest of hardship and death for those who have turned from God and pursued what seems right in their own eyes. What seeds are we planting today? Are we planting disobedience while expecting a harvest of blessing and life? “God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow” (Galatians 6:7, NRSV).

In my life and witness to others, may I continually keep your word and ways close to me. God, I want to reap a harvest of righteousness and blessing. Show me how to sow seeds of obedience, love, faith, and hope through my actions today and every day. AMEN. 




  • Jeff Strong

    I love living in one of the most beautiful places on earth—Nelson, British Columbia! I have served as the pastor of Nelson Covenant Church for almost eight years, and I love to challenge myself and others toward deeper discipleship in Christ. In my spare time, I enjoy many fitness pursuits, gaming with my children, and enjoying the Kootenay outdoors.

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