Introduction: It is important for men to receive “God’s approval ». It means that He justifies them, rewards them for their good deeds as this master who said to his servant, « Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness » Mat. 25: 21. In the same vein Paul declared, « For I am already being poured out like a drink offering and the time of my departure is near. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day— not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing » 2 Tim. 4: 6-8. We also remember the angels glorifying God, « Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to whom His favour rests » Lk. 2:14. Last but not least among the stories in the Good News is when Jesus approved two women: The one was the widow who gave her offering, of whom Jesus said, « Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she, out of poverty, put in everything _ all she had to live on » Mar. 12: 43-44. The other was the woman who poured perfume of great value on Jesus, and of whom He said, « Wherever this Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her » Mat. 26: 23. To sum up: Giving is valuable to God because it is a sing of love, just as Jesus who gave and surrender His life to save us. God’s Word still exhorts us, « Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship » Rom. 12: 1.
Monday 15: God is pleased with setting people free.
« Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen, to set the oppressed free » Isa. 58: 6.
Reading 1: Lk. 3: 7-11. Reading 2: Isa. 58: 6-12. Preaching: Isa. 58: 6.
Introduction: People use many different ways to get God’s favour: giving offering, doing good actions, saying lengthy prayers like the Pharisians, fasting, self-induced ill-treatment, self-humbling. Paul said about this, « Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence » Col. 2: 23.
Tuesday 16: God is pleased with showing compassion to others.
« Love your neighbour as yourself » Mat. 22: 39.
Reading 1: Rom. 8: 18-23. Reading 2: Mat. 22: 35-40. Preaching: Mat. 22: 39. Introduction: God approves those who show compassion toward their neighbour because it is a work of love. Conversely Jesus reproved heavily the priest and the Levite who did not help their neighbour who was attacked by robbers on his way. But He was pleased with the Samaritan who showed compassion to the injured man, so He said to the lawyer who came to Him, « Go and do likewise » Lk. 10: 37.
Wednesday 17: God is pleased with showing mercy.
« Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful » Lk. 6: 36.
Reading 1: Psa. 103: 8-14. Reading 2: Lk. 6: 36-42. Preaching: Lk. 6:36.
Introduction: « Showing mercy » means accepting to put up with others’ failure and imperfections, therefore not judging them or accusing them or forsaking them. The prayer that Jesus taught His disciples emphasizes this feature which is pleasing to God, « Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors » Mt. 6:12. Those who show mercy will be shown mercy (Mt.18:32-33) and « the meek will inherit the earth » Mt. 5: 5.
Thursday 18: God is pleased with the repentant heart.
« A broken and contrite heart, You, God, will not despise » Ps. 51:17.
Reading 1: Lk. 18: 9-14. Reading 2: Ps. 51: 10-17. Preaching Ps. 51: 17.
Introduction: The Jews thought that the effort done to keep the Laws, the religious rituals, the fasting and the good deeds and are what pleases God and what justifies people. People look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16: 7). God says, « There is no one righteous, not even one » Rom. 3: 10. God does not seek offering or exterior rituals but people’s heart. He says, « My son, give Me your heart » Pro. 23: 26.
Friday 19: Jesus is the most pleasing offering.
« Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends » Jn. 15: 13.
Reading 1: Isa. 53: 7-12. Reading 2: Jn. 15: 9-15. Preaching: Jn. 15: 12-13.
Introduction: Paul said, « Love is the fulfilment of the law » Rom. 13: 10. This was accomplished in Jesus. He said, « I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep » Joh. 10: 11. « But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us » Rom. 5: 8.
Saturday 20: God is pleased with giving.
« It is more blessed to give than to receive » Acts 20: 35.
Reading 1: 2 Cor. 8: 7-12. Reading 2: Act. 20: 31-35. Preaching: Act. 20: 35.
Introduction: Giving to others in order to save them is not a loss but an advantage, especially when it comes to giving to God in order to worship Him. Jesus says, « Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously » 2 Cor. 9: 6. And « A man reaps what he sows » Gal. 6:7.