Weekly Devotional

 

 Devotionals

This week Devotionals (5/10/2021-5/15/2021) 

Devotional Title:  What Worked? What Didn’t? (5/11/2021) Tuesday 

. . . he is a new creation. The old has passed away;

behold, the new has come—2 Corinthians 5:17

God’s at work in us—every one of us—whether we can see it or not (Philippians 2:13). He’s working to transform our character into the character of his son, our King, Jesus Christ. And he’ll continue working until the work is complete (Philippians 1:6). Our job is to join him. Our job is to follow Jesus and work ourselves, in obedience, to increase the amount goodness and light in our lives . . . and to decrease the opposite:

“. . . do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

Who among us doesn’t need more goodness and more light? That’s rhetorical, of course. And when’s a better time to increase our intentionality about increasing our holiness than at the beginning of a new year? That’s rhetorical too.

So how do we? Well, we get intentional by looking at the choices we’ve been making—whom we’ve been spending time with, the practices we’ve been engaging in, the experiences we’ve been enjoying. We get intentional by taking time to reflect upon those choices . . . and upon their results. And we get intentional by deciding which relationships, which practices, which experiences we’d like more of, going forward, because they increase holiness—and which we’d like less of, because they don’t.

Okay, so what do we do?

Consider the past twelve months. What was good? Who was good for you? What worked? What wasn’t so good? What didn’t work? Now, draw up (and commit to) a simple, practical, achievable plan for bringing more of what’s been good, and what’s worked for you, into the next twelve months . . . and less of what wasn’t and what didn’t.


Devotional Title: What’s in a Name? (5/10/2021) Monday

Key Bible Passage: Exodus 3:13-15

When speaking to Moses through the burning bush, God identified Himself as “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This sounds strange to most of us. But in essence, the Lord was saying, “From eternity past through the present and into eternity future, I AM.” We know this rendering of God’s name as Jehovah or Yahweh, which is written in most versions of the Bible as “Lord,” using large and small capital letters.

The people who knew God by this name also experienced His presence in a physical way. To lead them through the wilderness, the Lord appeared as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:21). After He made bitter water drinkable, His name was associated with healing (Ex. 15:23; Ex. 15:26). And once the tabernacle was built, He met with Moses above the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:22). These visible symbols reminded God’s people of His everlasting presence.

Later, on charging Joshua to enter the Promised Land, the Lord promised, “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you … The Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:5, Josh. 1:9). And we also have assurance that God will never leave us. Our Father goes ahead of us to prepare the way, and He walks with us through every situation. Try to be aware of His presence today, and you will know peace.

Last Week Devotionals : 
Devotional Title: Confidence Amidst Distress (5/7/2021) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 46
 
It seems as if the world today is constantly changing. This might cause us to be filled with anxiety unless we remember that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Disturbing times should remind us we are only pilgrims on this earth. Our citizenship is in a heavenly kingdom that can never be shaken.
 
The commotion of this current world is nothing unprecedented. I remember 1944 being a year of tremendous turmoil in our country because of World War II. Many people anxiously listened to the evening news, fearing the death of loved ones as battles in various locations were reported.
 
When times are frightening and uncertain—whether personally, nationally, or globally—the place to find comfort and assurance is the Bible, especially the book of Psalms. Scripture helps us look at circumstances from God’s perspective. That reassures us of His love and care for us and lifts our eyes to a higher hope than anything this world can offer.
 
We all want to find peace, and the first step is to cease striving (Psalm 46:10). Remember that the Lord is always with you, and know that His kingdom is coming.


Devotional Title: Justified By Grace To Work (5/6/2021) Thursday 

Some believers will get into a spitting contest over the question whether a sinner is justified by grace or by works. One side will say, ‘once saved, always saved.’ The other side will quote scripture about obedience and works. Both sides often talk past one another, and scripture as well, in order to win the debate. The problem is, the debate is as old as the Church, and if it has not been ‘won’ by one side or the other by now, then maybe it is not meant to be won?

I often quote, Ephesians 2:8-9 ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.’ The faith we have is in the Blood of Jesus. His atoning blood sacrifice of Himself does what we cannot do for ourselves. Christ fulfills the intentions of the Law with His Body.  We cannot do it because we are sinners, and for the blood sacrifice to be effective it must be sinless, holy. Christ is the only Person qualified to be such a sacrifice.

Therefore, God sent the Son to accomplish our redemption. Christ is God’s gift to us. We do not deserve the gift. We cannot earn the gift; it is the gift of grace. Therefore, no man should dare boast his work saves him. Such a person is claiming they can do what Christ does. They presume to compete with Jesus, the Son of God.

That is a short version. Some may make it even shorter, some longer, but the point is only God’s grace saves. We are justified by His grace accomplished for us by the Blood of the Son on the Cross. ‘Oh, it is justification by grace?’ Yes, but people often stop reading. Go to the next verse, Ephesians 2:10 ‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’

If we have been made new in Christ, then we are His. In turn, He has created us for a reason, ‘good works.’ We are expected to reveal our salvation in how we live our lives. ‘Once saved, always saved’ does not mean sitting on your hands, or with your arms folded. It does not mean standing still, it means getting to work as the servant you have been chosen to be in the Kingdom of Heaven.

How important it this to God?  He ordained it before we were born. He has always had it in His Plan that we would ‘walk’ in good works to His glory, honor and praise.

So ‘once saved, always saved’ still applies, but the believer better be about the business of His Master, Lord Jesus, because Lord Jesus expects His servants to be working for Him.

If on personal reflection we find ourselves not living up to this command of God, then we might need to spend some time in prayer and confession. We were not saved to do nothing for God. We were saved to glorify Him through our works.

By David Anthony 


Devotional Title: The Altar of God (5/5/2021) Wednesday

The time of Israel’s exile in the Wilderness of Sinai was coming to an end. Moses and the elders summon the nation, and give them instructions. After they have crossed into the Promised Land, they are to set up an altar of large stones held together with plaster.

Deuteronomy 27:3 ‘And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee.’ Either it was a very large altar or ‘words of this law’ refers to a summary of the Law God have given them. They probably wrote the Ten Commandments on the altar symbolic of all the Law.  The word for ‘write’ means engrave. The words are to be engraved into the stone to last. There is no way anyone can change what they mean. They mean what God means them to say.

Deuteronomy 27:4 ‘Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaister them with plaister.’ The altar of stones is to be put on Mount Ebal. ‘Ebal’ means cursing in Hebrew. There is an ominous tone. Unspoken is the Law they write had better be obeyed, or it will become a testimony against them, a curse upon their failure to keep it.

That sounds like we might be reading more into the verse that is there. Deuteronomy 27:5 ‘And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.’ The stones collected for the altar are not to be dressed and fashioned with human hands. God made the stones. He is making the altar, and men better not attempt to change the altar with their hands. Again, unspoken but understood is, ‘you better not change what you write upon it either, because I (God) gave it to you.’

The altar is to be a visual symbol and reminder of God’s unchanging and eternal Law. The way the altar is built reinforces the notion men are not to change God’s Law. The way it is engraved rules out changing it without defacing and dishonoring the Law and the One who gave it.

Building it on a mountain named Ebal makes clear if anyone does, then they have called down God’s curse upon themselves. God is not going to go out of His way to punish them. They will judge themselves and reap what they sow.

God cannot have made His intentions any clearer. We read with sadness the testimony of the rest of the Old Testament. The Hebrews and their descendants would disobey God again and again. They would be judged for it.

Let those with ears, hear, and eyes, see.

Devotional Title:A Vision for Believers (5/4/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 28:16-20

Most people have aspirations for their life. Some aim for a high-powered career or financial success, while others dream about having close friendships or impacting the world. But no matter what our personal goals may be, we should be aware of the vision God has cast for all of His children. Known as the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20 charges us to “go and make disciples of all the nations.”

But what does it mean to “make disciples”? Some Christians think this refers to adding new church members. However, God is not interested in numbers or external appearances; He’s concerned about genuine heart change. So He commissions His followers to lead others, first to saving faith in Jesus Christ and then to baptism as a public declaration of their trust in the Savior.

Once Jesus shared these objectives, the disciples spent the rest of their days fulfilling them. In fact, almost every one gave his life to accomplish them.

This command has not changed. Our Father still expects us to share the good news of the gospel, to teach people how to be followers of Jesus Christ, and to baptize those who are saved.

Are you living with God’s purpose as your guide? Ask Him for the courage to share His message of hope and love.


Devotional Title: God Is in Control (5/3/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 103:19-22
 
In today’s psalm, David discusses a fundamental attribute of God: His sovereignty. This means God has complete authority and control over all human beings and every aspect of the universe. It also means that “luck” and “good fortune” have no place in a discussion about Him. And because God is good, we can have full confidence in His absolute and loving control over every aspect of our existence.
 
When we trust in the Father’s sovereignty, we stand on two assurances. The first is that He is intimately involved in our daily life. No matter what, He never stops providing, protecting, and caring for every believer. He knows what we need for today and tomorrow.
 
The second is that the Lord will work every circumstance for our benefit—without exception! When situations are more demanding, our confidence may waiver, but Scripture promises “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
 
You and I do not live by chance. As children of a sovereign God, we live secure and under His control. Trust Him to carry you through whatever trial stands in your way.

Devotional Title: The Comforter (4/29/2021) Thursday 

Jesus’ references to the Comforter are the only mention of Him in the New Testament. The Greek word for ‘comforter’ is paraclete which means intercessor, consoler or advocate. In one of His references to the Comforter, Jesus says, John 15:26 ‘But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:’ We learn the Comforter is ‘the Spirit of truth,’ the Holy Spirit. ‘Spirit’ is capitalized like a formal name. Further, the Spirit is addressed as ‘he,’ so the Holy Spirit is a Person. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity.
 
Earlier, Jesus said, John 14:16 ‘And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;’ The emphasis in this verse is on the last clause. The Holy Spirit will ‘abide with you forever.’ The Holy Spirit will come and stay with each believer. The thing that stood out was Jesus promising the Holy Spirit was going to stay from now on. That was something new. That was something revolutionary.
 
How can we justify saying that? The Comforter is mentioned three times in the Old Testament. Solomon wrote, Ecclesiastes 4:1 ‘So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.’ Solomon looks out at the world of sin and death. He sees the world oppressed with no relief. The reason is there is no comforter. The Hebrew word for ‘comforter’ is nacham which means to sigh or breathe. It can also mean to console, to avenge and to comfort. ‘Comforter’ is expressed as a person, and this person comes and goes in the Old Testament. The writer of Ecclesiastes knows someone is necessary to provide comfort. The way he expresses the need makes clear only God can provide such a comforter, such a Person.
 
It is significant the only other mention of the comforter in the Old Testament is found in Lamentations. Lamentations was written by Jeremiah after the destruction of the Jerusalem and the First Temple. The nation had been conquered and tens of thousands sent off into captivity in Babylon. All seemed lost, and Jeremiah lamented in the name of God to make sense of it for the people. He starts mourning for Jerusalem, Lamentations 1:9 ‘Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself.’
 
Jerusalem is described as a woman with filthy skirts, a Bride who has committed adultery against her Bridegroom, God. She had been unfaithful with false gods and idols. Therefore, ‘she had no comforter.’ It was not so much that God had withdrawn His protection from her as she had chosen not to be protected. She had rejected the comforter. Now, the Bride is desolate, alone, abandoned by God.
 
Lamentations 1:16 ‘For these thingsI weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed.’ Jeremiah weeps, but he weeps as a stand-in for the Bride. The Bride’s comforter is absent, not providing guidance and security, all the things the Bridegroom provides. The Bride is desolate without the presence of the comforter to take care of her.
 
The Person of the Holy Spirit came and went in the Old Testament. A book could be written about all these occasions of the coming of the Holy Spirit. However, in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is promised to come and never leave. The Person of the Holy Spirit will quicken us and be the guarantee of eternal life. There can be no eternal life without the eternal Holy Spirit living in us. In addition, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, looks out of us, and give us the guidance we need.
 
Without the Comforter, we would be no better off than the people Solomon describes in Ecclesiastes, or Jeremiah describes in Lamentations. We would be abandoned, without hope and with no spiritual guidance. Some may object, but recall Who said He promised to send the Comforter as part of God’s Plan of Salvation?
 
The Person of the Holy Spirit plays an important role in the Trinity. Jesus said so.
 
By David Anthony 


Devotional Title: God’s Voice Today (4/28/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Have you ever considered that our omnipotent God can communicate with us in any way He pleases? We may expect Him to speak audibly or send an angelic messenger, but He won’t be limited to a certain method of communication. Instead, it is our responsibility to learn how to perceive His voice.

Today our Father speaks to us primarily through His Word. The Scriptures are fully reliable because the Holy Spirit of God literally breathed His truth upon the minds of men, who recorded it precisely (2 Timothy 3:16).

So often when trouble strikes, we turn to some friend or counselor. That is good, for the Father does speak through godly men and women. But the first place we should turn is to His Word.

God has given us this Book so that we might know Him. If you pick up the Bible only when you have a question or emergency, then you won’t have a true picture of who the Lord is or what He wants you to know. Scripture is a treasure trove of God’s thoughts. Spend time there every day—starting today—to discover new truths and insights.

Devotional Title: A Vision for Believers (4/27/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 28:16-20

Most people have aspirations for their life. Some aim for a high-powered career or financial success, while others dream about having close friendships or impacting the world. But no matter what our personal goals may be, we should be aware of the vision God has cast for all of His children. Known as the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20 charges us to “go and make disciples of all the nations.”

But what does it mean to “make disciples”? Some Christians think this refers to adding new church members. However, God is not interested in numbers or external appearances; He’s concerned about genuine heart change. So He commissions His followers to lead others, first to saving faith in Jesus Christ and then to baptism as a public declaration of their trust in the Savior.

Once Jesus shared these objectives, the disciples spent the rest of their days fulfilling them. In fact, almost every one gave his life to accomplish them.

This command has not changed. Our Father still expects us to share the good news of the gospel, to teach people how to be followers of Jesus Christ, and to baptize those who are saved.

Are you living with God’s purpose as your guide? Ask Him for the courage to share His message of hope and love.

Devotional Title: “Follow Me!” (4/26/2021) Monday 

 
Please enjoy The Gospel as found in “The Leather Journal” of Pastor Phil Newton of the South Woods Baptist Church of Memphis, TN. This is a service of the https://www.invertedchristian.com/ A ministry of The Duke Consulting Group
 
Follow Me!
 
“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him” (Matthew 9:9).
 
Jesus gave no thought to conforming to other’s expectations. The scrupulous scribes and Pharisees, who kept externals of the Law to appear righteous while giving no thought to the inner man, disdained the tax collector. He had his own sin category, even despised by the common man. The culture had turned its nose against tax collectors with their reputation for cheating, greediness, and as arms of the Roman oppressors. Tax collectors took advantage of their position at the expense of the hard-working person. When the Pharisees saw Jesus with Matthew and his friends, they disdainfully asked, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” (9:11) In their mind, Jesus would need to hold Himself aloof from such societal rabble and misfits in order to be righteous. But Jesus came for the sick not the healthy (9:12).
 
Yet Jesus had no thought of the culture shaping His mission, even religious culture. The Father had sent Him to save sinners. He had sent Jesus to bear the sins of the misfits and rejects of society. The religious folks thought their practice sufficient to count themselves right with God. The tax collector, however, understood far more theology than the Pharisees. He knew God to be too holy and righteous for mere men to achieve through their religious deeds, that kind of righteousness to satisfy God. Matthew recognized his plight before God. The pure, bold, gracious, and transforming word from Christ, “Follow Me!” filled his hopeless heart with boundless hope. He saw the way to God through Jesus Christ. He bowed to God’s authority and humbled himself as a desperately needy man before God, as he rose from his lucrative position to abandon all and follow Jesus.
 
That’s the call of the gospel. Its declaration speaks to the heart of sinners, breathing hope and promise into the throne room of darkness and despair. Even hearing those words, “Follow Me!” and truly hearing and knowing them as light and life, implies the penetrating and liberating power of the good news. Turning his back on the life of greed that had long held him in the bondage of unbelief, Matthew heard, rose, and followed Jesus. Jesus did not fill in the details of where the following would lead or what following entailed or what he would face in following Jesus. Those things palled in the voice and face of the One commanding, “Follow Me!” And they still do. To hear and respond to Jesus’ call in the gospel to follow Him is enough.
 
Here’s the very essence of responding in repentance and faith at hearing the gospel. We follow Jesus whatever the challenge or demand or difficulty or sacrifice or loss. We follow Him whom to know is life, forgiveness, hope, love, and immeasurable joy. Matthew found his purpose for existence in following Jesus. He rose and followed so that afterward nothing was ever the same. Following Jesus brought joy into this man who lived trapped by his sin. Christ as Lord became his all. Following Jesus un-traps the trapped! Everything from this point onward centers in Jesus. Did Matthew grasp all of that at the moment? Probably not but he knew the command of Christ brought life to him. He followed and lived in a newness of existence. Jesus still calls sinners to follow Him.
 
“Follow Me!” Jesus commands. In Him is life. Without Him, there’s no life. Follow Him.
 
 By: Roger D. Duke retired early from Baptist College of Health Sciences after eighteen years of classroom teaching ministry. He is now a free-lance writer. Duke received his doctorate from The University of the South at Sewanee. Subsequently he has also taught at various colleges and graduate schools. He has authored or contributed to volumes on John Albert Broadus, John Bunyan, William Carey, Basil Manley, Jr., and John Paul II. He blogs at https://www.invertedchristian.com/

Devotional Title: Heart On The Sleeve (4/22/2021) Thursday 

The saying,‘Wearing your heart on your sleeve’ has its origins in the Middles Ages. Knights at jousting tournaments would wear the colors of the lady who favored them on the sleeve of their uniform. It did not necessarily signify they were sweethearts. It might be a political statement by the lady against another knight or another lady. In other words, wearing the heart on the sleeve did not necessarily reveal the heart of the knight.

For some reason, this took me to scripture. In a section about loving and obeying God, we read Deuteronomy 11:18 ‘Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.’ What they are laying up are God’s Word, His revelation of Himself to them, scripture. They are to signify this by wearing it on their hands and between their eyes. The Hebrews literally took scripture and attached it to their arms and between their eyes. These attachments were called tefillin. The little boxes containing scripture were called phylacteries.

The scripture is clear the purpose of tefillin and phylacteries is to remind the person wearing them of God’s word laid up in their hearts. That was where God wanted them to wear His word, on their hearts. The outer sign was meant to remind the wearer of what should be his inner condition.

Unfortunately, being sinners, many Hebrews came to substitute what was on their sleeve for what should have been in their heart. The outer appearance did not match the inner condition. In His Seven Woes of judgment uttered against the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said Matthew 23:4-5 ‘For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,’ We know what the phylacteries were. The ‘borders’ were called tzitzits, or wings and they were another outer sign supposed to reflect an inner purity and holiness.

Hearts did not match their phylacteries or tzitzits. As a matter of fact, their phylacteries and tzitzits mocked God, because the leaders were more interested in being seen for who they were than in God being seen for who He was through their attitude and conduct.

We think ‘hypocrites,’ but the tefillin, phylacteries and tzitzits were all signs for something that would happen someday. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in men’s hearts. We no longer must wear outer signs reflecting our hearts. In place of them, our conduct and attitude should reflect Who lives in our hearts, the Holy Spirit. We should wear the Holy Spirit as our witness like a phylactery or a tzitzit. We should appear to wear the Holy Spirit on our sleeve  and between our eyes as a reflection of our hearts.

Do we?

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Whores and Sodomites (4/21/2021) Wednesday

The title is rather abrupt, but scripture can be abrupt. Deuteronomy 23 deals with several issues, from grounds for excluding someone from the assembly of God’s Elect to what at first glance seem to be rules about housekeeping in the camp. The chapter ends with miscellaneous regulations. At first glance the last verses seem unconnected from each other, but we realize behind all of them is the issue of maintaining purity and holiness among the people of Israel. Reflection on the entire chapter reveals God’s mind is on holiness, and He is leaving no doubt what He means by it.

Deuteronomy 23:17 ‘There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.’ The Hebrew word translated ‘whore’ is the female form of a word meaning someone dedicated to worshipping a false god through sacred prostitution. The Hebrew word for ‘sodomite’ is the male form of the same word used for the female. A male who lets himself be used for sex like a female. Both males and females are on sale for sex in temples to false gods.

Records show it was worse. Poor families might sell sons or daughters to temples to do such things. In some cases, wives were required to perform such duties. That God had to give a regulation ordering Israel not to do what pagans were doing tells us Israel had not listened.

We think ‘sin.’ God is too, but the sin is impurity and unholiness. The sin is presuming to worship God with abominable practices done to false gods and false idols. The sin is presuming to dishonor God by treating Him Who is holy with something that is unholy.

What is impure and unholy? For either man or woman to dishonor the sexual nature God has decreed for them. It is at this point a lot of people get nervous. It is easy to point fingers at people who sell themselves for sex. It is easy to look down our nose as people who participate in sex with the same gender. However, the only pure and holy way for a man and woman to honor God is by using their sexual nature within the covenant of marriage to someone of the opposite sex. Sex before marriage is unholy. Sex with someone other than your spouse is unholy. Sex after marriage is unholy. It does not matter if it is with the same sex or opposite sex. Sex outside the marriage covenant dishonors God’s intentions, and since He is making the rules of holiness, we better pay attention.

Deuteronomy 23:18 ‘Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.’ The thought a person would dishonor God’s intentions for sex by presuming to bring such a false offering to Him is an abomination. Same-sex or extramarital sex have no place honoring the holiness of God because they introduce impurity as an offering to God. Not my words, but God’s clear intentions and commands through these verses.

Yikes! Lot of people in our culture are in a heap of trouble. Yes, they are. However, we must remind ourselves of Christ on the Cross. Jesus has canceled the verdict for sin. Christ has made us pure by shedding His atoning Blood for us. We can be holy in God’s presence, because God has provided Christ to create the conditions we need for purity and holiness. Therefore, there is redemption and forgiveness for adultery, promiscuity and indulgence in same sex. They are not excluded from the congregation, but they must be convicted, confess the sinners they are, and repent with repentance carrying the meaning of turning away from the sin and going in the direction God desires, not what they desire.

There is grace for any sinner, no matter the sin, but understand God is serious about sin, impurity and unholiness. He has provided the atoning sacrifice to put us in right relation to Him. What does it say about the unrepentant sinner who dishonors the sacrifice? What does it say for a person if they throw Jesus’ Blood shed for their sake back in His face because they are determined to have grace their way, not God’s way?

That is not grace. That is self-worship which is just another form of idolatry, false worship. It is not allowed in the congregation of the Elect, because we are God’s Elect.

Let those with ear, hear and eyes, see.

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Rejecting the Darkness (4/20/2021) 

Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 5:1-17

The culture in which we live is characterized by spiritual darkness. Sadly, even those of us who are believers become so accustomed to the dark that we feel neither shocked nor shamed by much of what goes on around us. Perhaps we see the sin but don’t acknowledge it as wrong, or maybe we just don’t notice it anymore.

One of those sins is sexual immorality. Throughout the Bible, we are warned of its dangers and told to abstain from impure behavior, lustful passions, and evil desires (Col. 3:5). Though we don’t feel comfortable talking about it, we must consider what sexual immorality might look like today—whether it’s adultery, pornography, or relations outside of marriage—and be prepared to confront it.

While we cannot escape our dark society, God has provided everything we need to live in the light of our all-sufficient Savior, Jesus Christ. Through His indwelling Spirit, we are adequate to face every temptation and choose what is good and pleasing to Him.

If you have become comfortable in the darkness around you, ask the Lord to shed His light on your life to reveal any compromises or hidden sinful desires. Then receive His forgiveness and the power to walk in His ways.

Devotional Title: The Changing Battle of Faith (4/19/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: James 1:2-8

Have you ever felt as if your Christian life swings back and forth like a pendulum between faith and doubt? This is a fairly common problem, especially in trying situations. Although you know what God’s Word says, your feelings may tell you something different.

The question is not if we’ll experience this, but when—and how long we’ll remain on one side or the other. Three factors can influence whether we lean toward faith or doubt: the state of our faith at the time of the trial; our knowledge and understanding of God; and our experience with failure or success in past trials.

To grow in faith, it is important that we …

• Trust in God’s divine nature and wisdom.

• View difficulties from a scriptural perspective.

• Set our mind on God’s promises.

• Reflect on the Lord’s past faithfulness, both in Scripture and personal experience.

We can stabilize our faith by choosing to trust God rather than circumstances or human wisdom. Our perspective of the world is limited and unreliable, but the truth of Scripture stands firm. You can know with certainty that the Lord is faithful and will see you through every situation.

Devotional Title: A Lasting Heritage (4/15/2021)

Key Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 3:10-17

People go to great lengths to ensure that their property and wealth are bequeathed according to their wishes. But there is a much more valuable gift we can give others—“the wisdom that leads to salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Our most vital asset is the knowledge we’ve accumulated about our faith, especially the body of biblical truth regarding salvation. Although personal faith cannot be given to someone else, we can inform others about Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross. And we can also model a life that is committed to Him.

However, before we can pass down the principles of faith to others, biblical salvation must be a reality in our own life. Many people pick and choose religious philosophies to guide their life, but self-serving religion can never save. Only those whose faith is based on scriptural truth can face the end of life with confidence about eternal security. That’s because they know God’s Son died on the cross to pay the penalty for their sins.

Have you trusted Jesus as your personal Savior? Do you want to die confident and hopeful? The greatest legacy we can leave is not money or belongings but the truth that changes lives. Begin today to influence future generations by bringing them the good news


Devotional Title: Instruction  From the Lord (4/14/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 16:21-27

The incident in today’s passage demonstrates a common struggle for believers: At times God’s Word or ways might be different than what we want. When the Lord does something that’s not in line with the result we hope for, we may respond with anger, fear, rebellion, or despair.

This conflict between us and God can happen whenever our desires clash with His or when we consider our own reasoning to be superior. Although we may think our disagreement with the Lord is no big deal, Jesus’ response to Peter indicates otherwise. When the apostle set his mind on man’s interests rather than God’s, he was distracted by the devil’s lies instead of supporting Jesus’ work. That’s not a place any believer wants to be in. Although some passages in the Bible may challenge our faith and call for self-denial, we shouldn’t let any initial reluctance keep us from obeying the Lord.

Remember, God’s understanding far exceeds ours because He is eternal and omniscient. Everything in His Word is true and “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The exchange between Peter and Jesus should serve as a reminder that God knows what He’s doing and is worthy of our trust and obedience.


Devotional Title: Bigger God, Smaller Problems (4/13/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Jeremiah 32:17-22

No one enjoys illness, conflicts, or difficulties. Such stressors tend to demand attention and drain energy, narrowing our focus until our troubles become larger and all else is pushed to the side. What we need at such times is a glimpse of the greatness and majesty of the Lord. Looking at Him helps us see our problems from the proper perspective.

During the captivity, when Jeremiah was confined in the guard house and Jerusalem was about to fall into enemy hands, the Lord’s promised restoration of the land seemed far away, if not impossible. But Jeremiah turned his eyes to God. He remembered the Lord’s great power, unfailing love, assurances to Israel, and omniscience about everything taking place.

The good news is that the words of Jeremiah’s prayer to the Lord—“Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jer. 32:17)—are still true today. Although we may want our difficulties resolved immediately, what we really need is a bigger vision of God, not fewer problems. The larger and more accurate our understanding of the Lord is, the smaller our troubles will seem. Even better, our confidence in His ability to handle our trials will increase. 

Devotional Title : A Passion to Obey (04/12/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 6:16-23

A passion to obey God doesn’t come naturally. Salvation may spark love and a desire to please Him, but a passionate fire is built slowly from the timbers of spiritual knowledge, faith, and devotion.

Obedience usually begins with a fear of the consequences of disobeying. That is, newer believers can at least enjoy the safety of avoiding repercussions until they develop better reasons to follow God. Thankfully, as we mature and build a scriptural foundation, fear is replaced by both recognition of God’s sovereignty and submission to His wisdom.

Over time, following the Lord becomes less about consequences for disobeying and more about blessings for obeying. Once we taste His goodness, we learn that obedience and God’s best are natural partners—good derives from following divine commands, while suffering results when we demand our own way. This irrevocable principle plays out in the Bible as well as in day-to-day life, and the more we observe it, the more we realize the Lord’s will is the wisest choice.

All the promised blessings in the world cannot make a believer follow God into some frightening places. But that’s where love for our Father comes in, as it compels us toward obedience no matter what is at stake.

Devotional Title: Cry Out to the Lord (4/08/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 107:23-32

Like the sailors in today’s passage, at some point you will hit great turbulence in your life. Perhaps you are currently experiencing a storm with no end in sight. Your situation may be so serious that you wonder how you’ll ever get through it. You’ve tried everything possible to resolve the matter but to no avail.

The solution is to do exactly what these sailors did—cry to the Lord in your trouble (Psalm 107:28). After all, He is sovereign over storms and uses them for His good purposes. God knows we sometimes need to reach the end of our own resources before we will turn to Him. Then, if we call out to the Lord and submit to His authority over the storm, He will calm the waves in His perfect timing and guide us to safety.

Remember, the goal is not simply to escape turmoil but to learn to depend on the Lord instead of ourselves. Trusting Him to handle what we cannot will ultimately lead to gladness, thanks, and praise for His lovingkindness and intervention on our behalf. And another wonderful result will be that we tell others how faithful God has been, so they can trust Him, too.

Devotional Title: The Priority of Prayer (4/7/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Luke 11:1-4

Prayer is not optional for a Christian. In fact, Jesus considered it essential, even for Himself. Though He was God’s Son, He still took time to be alone with His Father in prayer. His disciples saw this and asked Him to teach them how to pray. The prayer Jesus taught them is a model for every believer. It shows us how to:

  Come with a focus on the heavenly Father. When you praise the Lord, your mind lets go of earthly concerns and centers on His desires and glory.

  Surrender to Him as Lord and King. The goal of prayer is not to get God to do what you want but to align your desires and requests with His will. Such prayers are the ones He promises to answer.

  Approach the Lord with a humble, dependent spirit. Recognize that He is the one who provides for your needs and sustains your life.

  Seek His forgiveness and protection from temptation. Ask God to uncover anything unholy in your life and replace it with righteousness.

Developing a consistent prayer life takes commitment. Daily activities will crowd out time with the Lord unless you reserve a segment of each day to pray.

by Scott

Devotional Title: Cry Out to the Lord (4/6/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 107:23-32
 
Like the sailors in today’s passage, at some point you will hit great turbulence in your life. Perhaps you are currently experiencing a storm with no end in sight. Your situation may be so serious that you wonder how you’ll ever get through it. You’ve tried everything possible to resolve the matter but to no avail. 
 
The solution is to do exactly what these sailors did—cry to the Lord in your trouble (Psalm 107:28). After all, He is sovereign over storms and uses them for His good purposes. God knows we sometimes need to reach the end of our own resources before we will turn to Him. Then, if we call out to the Lord and submit to His authority over the storm, He will calm the waves in His perfect timing and guide us to safety.
 
Remember, the goal is not simply to escape turmoil but to learn to depend on the Lord instead of ourselves. Trusting Him to handle what we cannot will ultimately lead to gladness, thanks, and praise for His lovingkindness and intervention on our behalf. And another wonderful result will be that we tell others how faithful God has been, so they can trust Him, too.


Devotional Title: “ Jesus is All We Need!” (4/5/2021) Monday 

Please enjoy The Gospel as found in the writings of Rev. Dr. John Gill. He is a noted English Baptist Pastor-Theologian of a bygone era. This is a service of the https://www.invertedchristian.com/ and ministry of The Duke Consulting Group
 
[Christ] Who of God is made unto us wisdom[1]
I Corinthians 1:30b
 
Though they are foolish creatures in their own and the world’s esteem, yet Christ is their wisdom; he is so “efficiently”, the author and cause of all that spiritual wisdom and understanding in divine things they are possessed of; he is so “objectively”, their highest wisdom lying in the knowledge of his person, blood, and righteousness, of interest in him, and salvation by him; with which knowledge eternal life is connected: and he is so “representatively”; he is their head, in whom all their wisdom lies; he acts for them as their wisdom to God, he is their Counsellor, their Advocate, who pleads and intercedes for them, and [becomes] as their wisdom to men. . . .
 
And righteousness
 
He is the “author” of righteousness; he has wrought out and brought in one for them, which is well pleasing to God, satisfying to his justice, by which his law is magnified and made honourable; which justifies from all sin, and discharges from all condemnation, is everlasting, and will answer for them in a time to come; this he has brought in by the holiness of his nature, the obedience of his life, and by his sufferings and death: and which is “subjectively” in him, not in themselves; nor does it lie in any thing [sic] wrought in them, or done by them; but in him as their head and representative, who by “imputation” is made righteousness to them; and they the same way are made the righteousness of God in him; or in other words, this righteousness, by an act of the Father’s grace, is imputed, reckoned, and accounted to them as their justifying righteousness. . . .
 
And sanctification
 
. . . Christ is the sanctification of his people “by imputation”, as the holiness of his human nature is, together with his obedience and sufferings, imputed to them for their justification; Christ assumed an holy human nature, the holiness of it was not merely a qualification for his office as a Saviour, or what made his actions and sufferings in that nature significant and useful, or is exemplary to men; but is a branch of the saints justification before God: the law required an holy nature, theirs is not holy; Christ has assumed one not for, himself, but for them, and so is the end of the law in all respects: and this may be greatly designed in the whole of this passage; “wisdom” may stand in general for the wise scheme of justification, [because] it is laid in Christ. . . .
 
And redemption
 
Which he is by the appointment of his Father, being foreordained to it before the foundation of the world; and this sense of the word made will agree with every clause in the text; and he is so efficiently, having obtained eternal redemption from sin, Satan, the law, and this present evil world, for his people; and “subjectively” it being in him, and every other blessing which is either a part of it, and comes through it, or is dependent on it, as justification, adoption, and remission of sins. Moreover, this may have respect not only to redemption past, which is obtained by Christ; but to that which draws near, the saints are waiting for, and to which they are sealed up by the Spirit of God; even their redemption and deliverance from very being of sin, from all sorrow and sufferings, from death and the grave, and everything that is afflicting and distressing.
 
A Word About Your Blog Poster:
 
Roger D. Duke retired early from Baptist College of Health Sciences after eighteen years of classroom teaching ministry. He is now a free-lance writer. Duke received his doctorate from The University of the South at Sewanee. Subsequently he has also taught at various colleges and graduate schools. He has authored or contributed to volumes on John Albert Broadus, John Bunyan, William Carey, Basil Manley, Jr., and John Paul II. He blogs at https://www.invertedchristian.com/
 
[1]John Gill, “I Corinthians 1:30,” John Gill’s Exposition of the Old & New Testament, Vol. 8 (London: Mathews & Leigh, 1809; reprint, Paris, AR.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989), 605-606 (page citations are to the reprint edition).


Article  Title:The Wounds of Jesus

Charles Haddon Spurgeon January 30, 1859

Scripture: Luke 24:20

From: New Park Street Pulpit Volume 5

The Wounds of Jesus

 

“He shewed them his hands and his feet.”—Luke 24:40

 

     I have selected this sentence as the text, although I shall not strictly adhere to it. What was to be seen on Christ’s hands and feet? We are taught that the prints of the nails were visible, and that in his side there was still the gash of the spear. For did he not say to Thomas? “Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing.” I wish to draw your attention to the ample fact, that our Lord Jesus Christ, when he rose again from the dead had in his body the marks of his passion. If he had pleased he could readily have removed them. He rose again from the dead, and he might have erased from his body everything which could be an indication of what he had suffered and endured before he descended into the tomb. But, no! Instead thereof, there were the pierced hands and feet, and there was the open side. What was the reason for this? There was no absolute necessity for it: it could easily have been dispensed with, What, then, were the reasons? I shall endeavor to enter into this subject, and I hope we may draw some profitable instructions therefrom.

     First, what influence did the exhibition of the hands and feet have upon the disciples? Secondly, why is it that Jesus Christ, now in heaven, bears with him the scars in his flesh? And, then, thirdly, is there any lesson to us in the fact that Jesus Christ still wears his wounds? I think there is.

     I. First, then, OF WHAT USE WAS THE EXHIBITION OF THOSE WOUNDS TO THE DESCIPLES? I reply at once that they were infallible proofs that he was the same person. He said, “Behold my hands and feet, that it is, I, myself.” It was to establish his identity, that he was the very same Jesus whom they had followed, whom at last they had deserted, whom they had beheld afar off crucified and slain, and whom they had carried to the tomb in the gloom of the evening; it was the very same Christ who was now before them, and they might know it, for there was the seal of his sufferings upon him. He was the same person; the hands and feet could testify to that. You know, beloved, had not some such evidence been visible upon our Saviour, it is probable that his disciples would have been unbelieving enough to doubt the identity of his person. Have you never seen men changed, extremely changed in their external appearance. I have known a man, perhaps, five or six years ago; he has passed through a world of suffering and pain, and when I have seen him again, I have declared, “I should not have known you if I had met you in the street.” Now, when the disciples parted with Jesus it was at the Lord’s Supper. They then walked with him into the garden. There did the Saviour sweat, “as it were great drops of blood.” Do you not imagine that such a wrestling, such a bloody sweat as that, must have had some effect upon his visage. It had surely had enough to mar it before. But now the ploughshares of grief were sharpened, and anguish made deep furrows upon him. There must have been lines of grief upon his brow, deeper than they had ever seen before. This would have produced a change great enough to make them forget his countenance. Nor was this all. You know he had to undergo the flagellation at the pillar of the Praetorium, and then to die. Can you imagine that a man could pass through the process of death, through such astonishing agony as that which the Saviour endured, and yet that there should be no change in his visible appearance? I can conceive that in passing through such a furnace as this, the very lineaments of Christ’s face would seem to have been melted, and would have need to be restruck ere the disciples could discern that he was the same.

     Besides that, when Jesus rose, he rose, you know, as he now sits in heaven. His body was flesh and bone, but, nevertheless, it had miraculous powers; it was capable of entering into a room without the ordinary modes of access. We find our Saviour standing in the midst of his disciples, the doors being shut. I believe that Jesus had a body such as we are to have in the next world. Jesus Christ was not a phantom or spectra. His body was not a spirit; it was a real body. And so in heaven imagine not that we are to be spirits. We are to be spirits until the great resurrection day; but, then, our spirit is afterwards to receive a spiritual body; it is to be clothed upon; it is not for ever to be a naked, bodiless spirit. That body will be to all intents and purposes the same body which shall be laid in the tomb. It is sown in dishonor, and the same it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, and the same it is raised in power. Mark, Jesus was flesh still! All flesh is not the same flesh: all bodies have not the same qualities. So our Saviour’s flesh was flesh that could not suffer, —flesh that had extraordinary powers about it, —flesh however, that could eat, although it was under no necessity to do so. And such may be the body, the glorified body, which shall be given to us when we shall rise at the first resurrection, and shall be made like unto our head. But, now, think! If Christ had to undergo in his countenance those matchless transformations, that must have been, first of all, connected with his bloody sweat, then, with his agony, and after that, with the transforming, or, if I may use such a word, the transmutation of his body into a spiritual body, can you not conceive that his likeness would be changed, that the disciples would scarcely know him if there had not been some deeply graven marks whereby they would be able to discover him? The disciples looked upon the very face, but, even then they doubted. There was a majesty about him which most of them had not seen. Peter, James, and John, had seen him transfigured, when his garments were whiter than any fuller could make them; but the rest of the disciples had only seen him as a man of sorrows; they had not seen him as the glorious Lord, and, therefore, they would be apt to doubt whether he was the same. But these nail-prints, this pierced side, these were marks which they could not dispute, which unbelief itself could not doubt. And they all were convinced and confessed that he was the Lord; and even faithless Thomas, was constrained to cry, ” My Lord and my God!”

     II. Let us turn to the second question: Why SHOULD CHRIST WEAR THESE WOUNDS IN HEAVEN AND OF WHAT AVAIL ARE THEY? Let me give you some thoughts upon the matter.

     I can conceive, first, that the wounds of Christ in heaven will be a theme of eternal wonder to the angels. An old writer represents the angels as saying, “Oh, Lord of glory, what are these wounds in thy hand?” They had seen him depart from heaven, and they had gone with him as far as they might go, singing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth.'” Some of them had watched him through his pilgrimage, for “he was seen of angels.” But when he returned, I doubt not that they crowded round him, bowed before him in adoration, and then put the holy question, “What are these wounds in thy hand?” At any rate they were enabled to behold for themselves in heaven the man who suffered, and they could see the wounds which were produced in his body by his sufferings; and I can readily imagine that this would cause them to lift their songs higher, would prolong their shouts of triumph, and would cause them to adore him with a rapture of wonderment, such as they had never felt before. And I doubt not that every time they look upon his hands, and behold the crucified man exalted by his Father’s side, they are afresh wrapt in wonder, and again they strike their harps with more joyous lingers at the thought of what he must have suffered who thus bears the scars of his hard-fought battles.

     Again, Christ wears these scars in his body in heaven as his ornaments. The wounds of Christ are his glories, they are his jewels and his precious things. To the eye of the believer Christ is never so glorious, never so passing fair, as when we can say of him, “My beloved is white and ruddy,” white with innocence, and ruddy with his own blood. He never seems so beautiful a’ when he can see him as the rose and the lily; as the lily, matchless purity, and as the rose, crimsoned with his own gore. We may talk of Christ in his beauty, in divers places raising the dead and stilling the tempest, but oh! there never was such a matchless Christ as he that did hang upon the cross. There I behold all his beauties, all his attributes developed, all his love drawn out, all his character expressed in letters so legible, that even my poor stammering heart call read those lines and speak them out again, as I see them written in crimson upon the bloody tree. Beloved, these are to Jesus what they are to us; they are his ornaments, his royal jewels, his fair array. He does not care for the splendor and pomp of kings. The thorny crown is his diadem—a diadem such as no monarch ever wore. It is true that he bears not now the scepter of reed, but there is a glory in it that there never flashed from scepter of gold. It is true he is not now buffeted and spit upon: his face is not now marred more than that of any other man by grief and sorrow, for he is glorified and full of blessedness; but he never seems so lovely as when we see him buffeted of men for our sakes, enduring all manner of grief, bearing our iniquities, and carrying our sorrows. Jesus Christ finds such beauties in his wounds that he will not renounce them, he will wear the court dress in which he wooed our souls, and he will wear the royal purple of his atonement throughout eternity.

     Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ: they are his trophies—the trophies of his love. Have you never seen a soldier with a gash across his forehead or in his cheek? Why every soldier will tell you the wound in battle is no disfigurement—it is his honor. “If” said he, “I received a wound when I was retreating, a wound in the back, that were to my disgrace, If I have received a wound in a victory, then it is an honorable thing to be wounded.” Now, Jesus Christ has scars of honor in his flesh and glory in his eyes He has other trophies He has divided the spoil with the strong: he has taken the captive away from his tyrant master; he has redeemed for himself a host that no man can number, who are all the trophies of his victories: but these scars, these are the memorials of the fight, and these the trophies, too.

     For do you not know it was from the side of Jesus that Death sucked its death. Jesus did hang upon the cross, and Death thought to get the victory. Aye, but in its victory it destroyed itself. There are three things in Christ that Death never met with before, all of which are fatal to it. There was in Christ innocence. Now; as long as man was innocent, he could not die. Adam lived as long as he was innocent. Now Christ was about to die; but Death sucked in innocent blood; he sucked in his own poison and he died. Again, blessedness is that which takes away the sting of death. Now Christ, even when he was dying, was “God over all, blessed for ever.” All that Death had ever killed before was under the curse; but this man was never by nature under the curse, because for our sakes he was not born into this world a cursed man. He was the seed of woman it is true, but still not of carnal generation. He did come under the curse when he took upon himself our sins, but not for his own sins. He was in himself blessed. Death sucked in blessed blood: he had never done that before—all others have been under the curse—and that slew Death. It was innocence combined with blessedness that was the destruction of Death. Yet another thing. Death had never met before with any man who had life in himself. But when Death drank Christ’s blood it drank life. For his blood is the life of the soul, and is the seed of life eternal. Wheresoever it goeth, doth it not give life to the dead? And Death, finding that it had drunk into its own veins life in the form of Jesus’ blood gave up the ghost; and Death itself is dead, for Christ hath destroyed it, by the sacrifice of himself; he hath put it away; he hath said, “Oh death, where is thy sting? oh grave, where is thy victory?” But now, since it was from these very wounds that Death sucked in its own death, and that hell was destroyed; since these were the only weapons of a weaponless Redeemer, he wears and bears them as his trophies in heaven. David laid up Goliath’s sword before the Lord for ever. Jesus lays up his wounds before the Lord, for his wounds were his weapons, and this is why he wears them still.

     I was thinking while coming here of Jesus Christ in heaven with his wounds, and another thought struck me. Another reason why Jesus wears his wounds is, that when he intercedes he may employ them as powerful advocates. When he rises up to pray for his people, he needs not speak a word; he lifts his hands before his Father’s face; he makes bare his side, and points to his feet. These are the orators with which he pleads with God—these wounds. Oh, he must prevail. Do you not see that Christ without his wounds, in heaven might be potent enough. but there would not be that glorious simplicity of intercession which now you see. He has nothing to do but to shew his hands. Him the Father heareth always. His blood crieth and is heard, His wounds plead and prevail.

     Let us think again. Jesus Christ appears in heaven as the wounded one, this shews again that he has not laid aside his priesthood. You know how Watts paraphrases the idea He says,

“Looks like a lamb that has been slain,

And wears his priesthood still.”

     If the wounds had been removed we might have forgotten that there was a sacrifice; and, mayhap, next we might have forgotten that there was a priest. But the wounds are there: then there is a sacrifice, and there is a priest also, for he who is wounded is both himself, the sacrifice and the priest. The priesthood of Melchisedec is a glorious subject. He who reads that with the eye of faith, and is blessed with the Spirit, will find much cause for joy when he contrasts the priesthood of Christ with that of Aaron. The priesthood of Aaron began, and it finished; but the priesthood of Melchisedec had no beginning, and it had no end. He was, we are told, “Without beginning of days, and without end of years;” without father, without mother, without descent. Such is the priesthood of Christ’ It shall never end. He himself is without beginning, and his priesthood is without end. When the last ransomed soul is brought in. when there shall be no more prayers to offer, Christ shall still be a priest. Though he has no sacrifice now to slay, for he is the sacrifice himself, “once for all,” yet still he is a priest, and when all his people as the result of that sacrifice shall be assembled around his glorious throne, he shall still be the priest. “For thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” I take it that this is a further reason why he still bears his wounds in heaven.

     There is another and a terrible reason why Christ wears his wounds still. It is this. Christ is coming to judge the world. Christ has with himself to-day the accusers of his enemies. Every time that Christ lifts his hands to heaven, the men that hate him, or despise him, are accused. The Jewish nation is brought in guilty every day. The cry is remembered, “His blood be on us and on our children;” and the sin of casting Christ away, and rejecting him, is brought before the mind of the Most High. And when Christ shall come a second time to judge the world in righteousness, seated on the great white throne, that hand of his shall be the terror of the universe.” They shall look on him whom they have pierced,” and they shall mourn for their sins. They would not mourn with hopeful penitence in time, they shall mourn with sorrowful remorse throughout eternity. When the multitude are gathered together, when in the valley of Jehoshaphat Christ shall judge the nations, what need he to summon accusers? His own wounds are his witnesses. Why need he to summon any to convict men of sin? His own side bears their handiwork. Ye murderers, did you not do this? Ye sons of an evil generation did ye not pierce the Saviour? Did ye not nail him to the tree? Behold these holes in my hand, and this stab in my side; these are swift witnesses against you to condemn you I There is a terrible side, then to this question. A crucified Christ with his wounds still open will be a terrible sight for an assembled universe. “Well,” but says one of my congregation “What is that to us? We have not crucified the Saviour.” No but let me assure You that his blood shall be on you. If ye die unbelievers his blood shall be required at your hand. The death of Christ was wrought by the hand of manhood, of all and entire manhood. Others did it for you, and though you gave no consent verbally, yet you do assent in your heart every day. As long as you hate Christ you give an assent to his death. As long as you reject his sacrifice, and despise his love, you give evidence in your hearts that you would have crucified the Lord of glory had you been there. Nay, and you do yourself, so fares you can, crucify him afresh and put him to an open shame. When you laugh at his people, when you despise his word, and mock at his ordinances, you are driving nails into his hands, and thrusting the spear into his side; therefore those open hands and that pierced side shall be witnesses against you, even against you, if ye die rejecting him, and enter into eternity enemies to Christ by wicked works.

     I think I have thus supplied severe excellent reasons. But now there is one more which I shall offer to your consideration before I come to the lesson which you shall learn. Christ v, ears those marks in his hands that, as believers, you may never forget that he has died. We shall need, perhaps, nothing to refresh our memories in heaven. but still’ even if we should, we have it here. When we shall have been in heaven many a thousand years we shall still have the death of Christ before us, we shall see him reigning. But can you not conceive that the presence of the wounded Christ will often stir up the holy hearts of the celestial beings to a fresh outpouring of their grateful songs? They begin the song thus, “Unto him that liveth.” Jesus looks upon them and shows his hand and they add, “and was dead, and is alive for evermore, and hath the keys of hell and death.” They would not forget that he died; but certainly that part of the song where it said, “and was dead,” will have all the more sweetness, because there he sits with the very marks of his passion—with the nail-prints of his crucifixion. If we shall be in heaven at all constituted as we are on earth, we shall need some visible token to keep us continually in remembrance. Here, you know, the most spiritual saint needs the bread and wine—sweet emblems of the Saviour’s body. There we shall have nothing to do with emblems, for we shall have the sight of him. And I say, if we be in heaven anything like what we are here, I can imagine that the presence of Jesus may be highly beneficial, may be gloriously precious to the saints in reviving their love continually, and causing their hearts, which are like fountains of love, to bubble up afresh, and send out again the living water of gratitude and thanksgiving. At any rate, I know this thought is very delightful to me, that I shall see the man that did hang on Calvary’s cross, and that I shall see him as he did inane there. I delight to see my Saviour in all the glories of his Father, but I long to go back and see him as he was, as well as he is. I think I should sometimes envy Peter and the rest of them that they should have seen him crucified. Yes, I should say, I see him glorified, but you saw the most marvellous sight. To see a God is an every-day sight with glorified beings, but to see a God covered with his blood, this is an extraordinary thing. To see Christ glorified, that we may see each day, but to have seen him on that special occasion, made obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross, that was an extraordinary sight which even angels themselves could see but once. You and I cannot see that. But those wounds are there still manifest and visible, and we shall be delighted with the rapturous sight of the Lord in glory, with his wounds still fresh upon him. May the Lord grant that we may all be there to see it. May we refresh ourselves with that glorious sight. I can say that I would part with all the joys of sense to view his face Everything that is good on earth I would give away without a wish, without one single lingering thought, if I might but behold his face, and lie in his bosom, and see the dear pierced hands and the wide-open side. We must wait his pleasure. A few more rolling suns shall do it. The moon shall rise and wane for us a few more times, and then

“We shall see his face, and never, never sin

But from the rivers of his grace, drink endless pleasures in.”

     III. This brings me now to the third point. WHAT DOES CHRIST MEAN BY SHOWING TO US HIS HANDS AND FEET? He means this that suffering is absolutely necessary. Christ is the head, and his people are the members. If suffering could have been avoided, surely our glorious Head ought to have escaped; but inasmuch as he shows us his wounds, it is to tell us, that we shall have wounds too. Innocence ought to escape suffering. Did not Pilate mean as much when he said, “I find no fault in him, therefore let him go?” But innocence did not escape suffering. Even the captain of our salvation must be made perfect through suffering; therefore, we who are guilty, we who are far from being perfect, must not wonder that we have to be wounded too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and do you imagine that the other members of the body are to be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Jesus Christ swim through seas of his own blood to win the crown, and are you and I to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, the wounds of Christ are to teach us that suffering is necessary. In fact, that doctrine was taught upon Mount Calvary. There are only three sorts of men that have ever lived—a good man, a bad man, and the God-man. Now, on Calvary’s cross, I see three characters, I see the thief, the representative of the bad. I see the penitent thief, the representative of the righteous, and I see the God-man in the midst. All three must suffer. Do not imagine, for a moment, that wicked men get through this world without suffering. Oh, no. The path to hell is very rough, though it seems smooth. When men will damn themselves, they will not find it a very pleasurable task. The cutting the throat of one’s soul is not such a pleasant operation. The drinking the poison of damnation is not, after all, an enviable task. The path of the sinner may seem to be happy, but it is not. It is a gilded deceit. He knows there is bitterness in his bowels, even here on earth. Even the wicked must suffer. But, mark, if any out of the world would have escaped it would be the God-man; but the God-man did not escape. He shows us his wounds; and do you think that you shall remain unwounded? Not if you are his, at any rate. Men sometimes escape on earth; but the true-born child of God must not, and would not, if he might, for if he did, he would then give himself cause to say, “I am no part of the body; if I were a part of the body, my head suffered, and so must I suffer, for I am part of his living body.” That is the first lesson he teaches us, the necessity of suffering.

     But next he teaches us his sympathy with us in our suffering. “There,” says he, “see this hand! I am not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of your infirmities. I have suffered, too. I was tempted in all ways like as you are. Look here! there are the marks—there are the marks. They are not only tokens of my love, they are not only sweet forget-me-nots that bind me to love you for ever. But besides that they are the evidence of my sympathy. I can feel for you. Look—look—I have suffered. Have you the heart-ache? Ah, look yon here, what a heartache I had when this heart was pierced Do you suffer, even unto blood wrestling against sin? So did I. I have sympathy with you.” It was this that sustained the early martyrs. One of them declared that while he was suffering he fixed his eyes on Christ; and when they were pinching his flesh dragging it off with the hot harrows, when they were putting him to agonies so extraordinary, that I could not dare to mention them here, lest some of you should faint even under the very narrative, he said, “My soul is not insensible but it loves.” What a glorious speech was that! It loves—it loves Christ. It was not insensible, but love gave it power to overcome suffering, a power as potent as insensibility. “For,” said he, “my eyes are fixed on him that suffered for me, and I can suffer for him; for my soul is in his body; I have sent my heart up unto him. He is my brother, and there my heart is. Plough my flesh, and break my bones; smash them with veer irons, I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; but he sympathises with me, arid this makes me strong.” Yes, beloved, lay hold on this in all times of your agony. When you are sweating, think of his bloody so eat. When you are bruised, think of the whips that tore his flesh. And when you are aging, think of his death. And when God hides his face for a little from you, think of “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!” This is why he wears his wounds in his hands, that he may show that he sympathises with you.

     Another thing. Christ wears these wounds to show that suffering is an honorable thing. To suffer for Christ is glory. Men will say, “It is glorious to make others suffer.” When Alexander rides over the necks of princes, and treads nations beneath his feet, that is glorious. The Christian religion teaches us it is glorious to be trodden on, glorious to be crushed, glorious to suffer. This is hard to learn. There we see it in our glorified Master. He makes his wounds his glory, and his sufferings are part of the drapery of his regal attire in Paradise Now, then, it is an honorable thing to suffer. Oh, Christian, when you are overtaken by strange troubles, be not afraid. God is near you. It was Christ’s honor to suffer, and it is yours too. The only degree that God gives to his people is the degree of “Masters in tribulation.” If you would be one of God’s nobles you must be knighted. Men are knighted with A blow of the sword. The Lord knights us with the sword of affliction; and when we fight hard in many a battle, he makes us barons of the kingdom of heaven, he makes us dukes and lords in the kingdom of sorrowful honor, not through honor of man, but through dishonor of man, not through joy, but through suffering, and grief, and agony, and death. The highest honor that God can confer upon his children is the blood-red crown of martyrdom. When I read, as I have been reading lately, the story of the catacombs of Rome, and those short but very pithy inscriptions that are written over the graves of the martyrs, I felt sometimes as it I could envy them. I do not envy them their racks, their hot irons, their being dragged at the heels of horses; but I do envy them when I see them arrayed in the blood-red robe of martyrdom. Who are they that stand nearest to the eternal throne, foremost of the saints in light? Why, the noble army of martyrs. And just as God shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, and to suffer as Christ, just so much does he honor us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings, that God hath made, are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs Let us not, therefore, shun being honored. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us.

     Lastly, there is one sweet thought connected with the wounds of Christ that has charmed my soul, and made my heart run over with delight. It is this: I have sometimes thought that if I am a part of Christ’s body I am a poor wounded part; if I do belong to that all-glorious whole, the church, which is his fullness, the fullness of him that filleth all in all, yet have I said within me, “I am a poor maimed part, wounded, full of putrifying sores.” But Christ did not leave even his wounds behind him, even those he took to heaven. “Not a bone of him shall be broken,” and the flesh when wounded shall not be discarded, —shall not be left. He shall carry that with him to heaven, and he shall glorify even the wounded member. Is not this sweet, is not this precious to the troubled child of God? This, indeed, is a thought from which one may suck honey. Poor, weak, and wounded though I am, he will not discard me. His wounds are healed wounds, mark! they are not running sores; and so, though we be the wounded parts of Christ, we shall be healed; though we shall seem to ourselves in looking back upon what we were upon earth only as wounds, only parts of a wounded body, still we shall rejoice that he has healed those wounds, and that he has not cast us away. Precious, precious truth! The whole body he will present before his Father’s face, and wounded though he be, he shall not cast his own wounds away. Let us take comfort, then, in this; let us rejoice therein. We shall be presented at last, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Mark, Christ’s wounds are no spots to him, no wrinkles, they are ornaments; and even those parts of his church on earth that despair of themselves, thinking themselves to be as wounds shall be no spots, no wrinkles in the complete church above, but even they shall be the ornaments and the glory of Christ. Let us now look up by faith and see Jesus, the Wounded Jesus, sitting on his throne. Will not this help us to gird up our loins to “run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the Shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

     I cannot send you away without this last remark. Poor sinner, thou art troubled on account of sin. There is a sweet thought for thee. Men are afraid to go to Christ, or else they say, “My Sins are so many I cannot go to him; he will be angry with me.” Do you see his hands outstretched to you to night? He is in heaven, and he still says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Are you afraid to come? Then, look at his hand—look at his hand, will not that induce you? “Oh,” but you say, “I cannot think that Christ can have it in his heart to remember such a worm as I.” Look at his side, there is easy access to his heart. His side is open, and even your poor prayers may be thrust into that side, and they shall reach his heart, holy though it be. Only do thou look to his wounds, and thou shalt certainly find peace through the blood of Jesus. There were two monks of late years in different cells in their convent. They were reading the Bible. One of them found Christ while reading the Scriptures, and he believed with a true evangelical faith. The other one was timid, and could scarcely think it true; the scheme of salvation seemed so great to him he could scarcely lay hold upon it. But, at last, he lay upon the point to die, and he sent for the other to come and sit by him, and to shut the door; because if the superior had heard of that of which they were about to speak, he might have condemned them both. When the monk had sat down, the sick man began to tell how his sins lay heavy on him; the other reminded him of Jesus. “If you would be saved, brother, you must look to Jesus who did hang upon the cross. His wounds must save.” The poor man heard and he believed. Almost immediately afterwards came in the superior, with the brethren and the priests; and they began to grease him in extreme unction. This poor man tried to push them away; he could not bear the ceremony, and as well as he could he expressed his dissent. At last his lips were opened, and he said in Latin, “Tu vulnera Jesu!”—thy wounds, oh Jesus! thy wounds, oh Jesus! —clasped his hands, lifted them to heaven, fell back and died. Oh, I would that many a Protestant would die with these words on his lips. There was the fullness of the gospel in them. Thy wounds, oh Jesus! thy wounds; these are my refuge in my trouble. Oh sinner, may you be helped to believe in his wounds! They cannot fail; Christ’s wounds must heal those that put their trust in him.

Devotiomal Title: Justice and Mercy (4/1/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 3:21-26

The sinful condition of mankind presents us with a dilemma: How can a holy, righteous God forgive us? If He acts justly, every human being would suffer the eternal punishment of His wrath, which their sins deserve. But if He extends mercy instead, no one would pay the penalty, and God would cease to be just.

There was only one way the Lord could stay true to His nature and still forgive our sins. The solution was to pour out His wrath on a substitute. That way, the penalty for sin would be paid, and He could extend mercy to sinners—which accommodates both aspects of His divine nature. Thus, Christ came as our substitute: He took the punishment for our sin, enabling us to receive the Father’s mercy. Now, by placing faith in Jesus, anyone can be justified—that is, declared righteous. This is the greatest display of the Lord’s love for us.

Can you imagine the cost of your salvation? The Father’s plan and His Son’s willing cooperation prove your tremendous value in God’s eyes. From the Lord’s perspective, you are worth all the pain and suffering that was necessary to secure your eternal presence with Him in heaven.


Devotional Title:  Turning From Discouragement

Key Bible Passage: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Many people view discouragement and disappointment as the same thing, but there’s a slight difference. Disappointment is an emotional response to a failed expectation, whereas discouragement, or despair, usually comes from prolonged disillusionment or continued hardship.

Since we cannot experience perfect success in a fallen world or keep ourselves from suffering, there’s no way to avoid all disappointments in life. However, we don’t have to yield to discouragement. With the right perspective of God and His sovereignty over us, we can avoid feelings of despair. When He, in His providence, allows failure and disappointment, it is part of His perfect plan, and He promises to use it for good (Rom. 8:28).

If our confidence is in ourselves and what we can accomplish, we will always be disappointed. The only true remedy for discouragement is to put our hope in God. He alone can give us the courage to persevere, but we must be willing to look beyond the immediate to the eternal.

The Lord wants us to succeed but not necessarily in our self-reliant endeavors. Instead, may we all become victorious over despair and disappointment by trusting in and depending on Him.


Devotional Title: What Moves Your Heart? (3/30/2021) Tuesday 

. . . give, and it will be given to you—Luke 6:38
When we begin following Jesus Christ, he shapes for us new hearts—just as God promised for Israel: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 4:17-24). These new hearts move more like God’s heart. They are not, however, all shaped alike. They still reflect our God-created and God-anointed individuality (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). Notice when you view tough situations—sometimes your heart is moved, deeply. Notice also—sometimes it isn’t.
 
You see, we’re all created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). But, as individuals, we aren’t created for every work. We couldn’t possibly be. We’re all called to help those in need (Matthew 22:39; 1 John 3:17-18). But, as individuals, we aren’t called to every need. Near his death, St. Francis of Assisi prayed for his fellow friars: “I have done what is mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours.” The movements of our new hearts are one way God teaches us what is ours. For our hearts are made to notice, to care, to move more for certain people and certain needs: when their needs are met, our hearts are satisfied; when they aren’t, our hearts hurt with their hearts. So here’s the good part—when we become aware of the movements of our new hearts, and begin working ourselves to meet the needs of people who are ours to help, we increase not only their joy, but ours too.
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Continue to bend your focus away from yourself. Take some time to consider your heart. Can you identify the particular people and particular needs for which it moves, uniquely?


Devotional Title :. Problem Solved! (3/29/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: I Peter 1:1-5

Mankind was created to have a relationship with God, but that connection was broken when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. Now every human being is alienated from the Lord. And yet hope is not lost, because He had a plan of salvation in place even before creation: When the time was right, the Son of God would pay the penalty for mankind’s sin with His substitutionary death, opening the door for our forgiveness and reconciliation.

Because He is gracious, God saves us on the basis of faith in His Son. Then He gives us a new nature empowered by the Holy Spirit who comes to live within each Christian. The Spirit transforms our character into the image of Christ and enables us to live godly, obedient lives. And one day we will stand before our Father and be welcomed into our heavenly inheritance.

We need these truths firmly planted in our mind so we can grasp not only our desperate situation but also the goodness and love in God’s amazing rescue plan. He has proven His care for us in our greatest need. Will He not then provide for every other need in our life?

Last Week Devotionals ( 3/22/2021-3/27/2021) 

Devotional Title: A Sweet-Smelling Savor (3/25/2021) Thursday 

Paul is speaking of God’s Elect when he says, 2 Corinthians 2:15 ‘For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:’ It comes from a passage where Paul describes the Faithful as ministers of the New Covenant.
 
To understand what Paul is talking about, a person needs to know he is referring to one of the altars in the Temple in Jerusalem. There were two altars. One was in the courtyard outside the Holy Place. It was the altar of burnt offerings where animal sacrifices took place along with wave offerings and heave offerings of firstfruits of the harvest. The primary purpose of the altar of burnt offerings was to make sacrifices to atone for sins.
 
Christ on the Cross made the altar of burnt offerings obsolete. His sacrifice of His Blood made any other blood sacrifice irrelevant. God had always known that. The altar of burnt offering had been meant to teach the people the importance of atoning for sin. Their sacrifices were never going to be adequate. God was going to have to make the perfect Blood sacrifice by the perfect High Priest. Jesus, the Son, was both the perfect sacrifice and high priest. Hebrews 3:1 ‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;’
 
That left the other altar which stood in the Holy Place just outside the veil separating it from the Holy of Holies (see the picture below). This was the altar of incense where priests would burn incense as they presented petitions to God in prayer. The incense was symbolic of the prayers being lifted to God. The burning incense left a pleasing smell, so scripture speaks of such prayers smelling good in God’s nostrils, a sweet savor. The burnt offerings made outside were meant to leave a sweet smell to God as well, but now that those sacrifices are no longer necessary, the only other place and time to make such sweet smelling sacrifices is in our time or pray and service to God.
 
That was God’s intention for the altar of incense. It was meant to educate the Elect about the importance of prayer as well as enduring priestly service to God. Those duties remain in effect. They have not been abolished. That is what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 2:15. Under the New Covenant, God’s Elect have become the priesthood of all believers. We all offer Spiritual service of prayer and good works as our new identity in Christ. Christ has equipped us with the Holy Spirit both for salvation and good works that reveal our salvation to the world.
 
This is what Peter was referring to in 1 Peter 2:9-10 ‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but arenow the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.’
 
Paul also mentions the identity of the Elect as the Priesthood in (NIV) Rom. 15:15-16: ‘I have written to you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of the again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
 
Paul is not just talking about himself since Christ told us the duty of the Elect is to proclaim the gospel. Matthew 28:19-20 ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’
 
Every member of the Body of Christ is a priest. Every member is expected to offer up prayers and service as a sweet-smelling savor to God.
 
By David Anthony 


Devotional Title: Ending Habitual Sin (3/24/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 6:10-17
 
In the old testament, a stronghold was a place of safety and protection from enemy attack. We frequently see the term used to describe God in David’s writings—as, for example, in Psalm 18:2, Psalm 31:2, and Psalm 59:16.  
 
A stronghold is also useful to the devil, but the kind he builds isn’t for refuge. (See 2 Corinthians 10:4.) Rather, it’s a prison to keep us locked in habitual sin—a place of constant deception and temptation.
 
For a believer, breaking out of this kind of stronghold may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. That’s because Christ has set us free from the dominion of sin, and God has provided spiritual armor for our protection. So why do we still struggle with habitual sin? The reason is because we receive temporary comfort, pleasure, and satisfaction from these ingrained patterns of behavior. However, any “benefit” is deceptive, and guilt and shame will eventually follow.
 
Just thinking about giving up a sinful habit brings some people to the brink of despair, even though they long to be free. But the Holy Spirit’s power is enough to enable any believer to walk out of Satan’s stranglehold and into God’s stronghold.

Devotional Title: Purify Your Heart (3/23/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: James 4:7-10

Once we have received Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we are clean in His eyes. But that doesn’t mean we will never sin again (John 13:9-10). As we live in this world, we’ll continue to exhibit some fleshly patterns—at times thinking wrong thoughts, making hurtful comments, having inappropriate attitudes, and behaving foolishly. That’s why continual cleansing from sin is important.

James gives us a process by which we can purify our hearts. When we resist the devil, mourn for our sin, and humbly draw near to God in submission, our Father is always faithful to forgive and cleanse us. Confession and repentance are like a spiritual shower that washes away the filth of sin so we can be clean and renewed (1 John 1:9).

Ephesians 5:25-26 speaks of cleansing the church “by the washing of water with the word.” Scripture acts like a sharp sword that convicts us, reveals our hidden sins, and teaches how to live in a manner pleasing to the Lord.

Let’s follow James’s advice today by submitting to God and renewing our minds with His truth. I pray that we can perceive and understand the Lord’s ways—and be confident of our salvation and eternal security despite our failures.

Devotional Title : The Source of Peace (3/22/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: John 15:5-8
 
Did you know God offers serenity of heart to all believers? The Holy Spirit, who lives inside every follower of Jesus, can keep peace flowing like sap from a vine to its branches. But sadly, this internal wellspring of calm is overlooked by many Christians because of several false assumptions.
 
Some wrongly think that peace is the result of perfect conditions, but this world is broken. That means we will never achieve an ideal existence on this earth, and its circumstances cannot yield serenity.
 
Others believe peace must be requested from God, who seems far away in the heavens. But the union between the Lord and His followers is intimate. Tranquility is available to us immediately from Christ because He lives within us.
 
The Living Bible paraphrase captures how our relationship with Jesus should look: “And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him” (Col. 2:6-7).
 
Serenity is a direct result of a relationship with Jesus Christ. No outside situation can tamper with that connection—we partake of Jesus’ abundant life through His Holy Spirit.


Devotional Title: Confidence Amidst Distress (3/19/2021) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 46
 
It seems as if the world today is constantly changing. This might cause us to be filled with anxiety unless we remember that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Disturbing times should remind us we are only pilgrims on this earth. Our citizenship is in a heavenly kingdom that can never be shaken.
 
The commotion of this current world is nothing unprecedented. I remember 1944 being a year of tremendous turmoil in our country because of World War II. Many people anxiously listened to the evening news, fearing the death of loved ones as battles in various locations were reported.
 
When times are frightening and uncertain—whether personally, nationally, or globally—the place to find comfort and assurance is the Bible, especially the book of Psalms. Scripture helps us look at circumstances from God’s perspective. That reassures us of His love and care for us and lifts our eyes to a higher hope than anything this world can offer.
 
We all want to find peace, and the first step is to cease striving (Psalm 46:10). Remember that the Lord is always with you, and know that His kingdom is coming.

Devotional Title: God’s Provision in Storms (3/18/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 14:22-27
 
Sailing or driving through a storm is scary because obscured vision makes us unsure of our direction and fearful for our safety. This is also true of spiritual storms, in which sudden, unexpected circumstances seem to turn our world upside down.
 
When the disciples were being battered by gale force winds on the Sea of Galilee, they learned some valuable truths, which can also help us in the midst of our own tempests.
 
Jesus intercedes for us. While the disciples were struggling through the wind and the waves, Jesus was on the mountain praying. Today He is in heaven, interceding for us (Rom. 8:34). 
 
Jesus is our protector. He watched over the disciples in the boat, and He does the same for us, ensuring that we encounter nothing outside of His will. 
 
Jesus is sovereign over all storms. He’s the one who forms them, determines their intensity, guides us through them, and brings them to an end in His perfect time.  
 
Christ has not abandoned us in our storms but instead is intimately involved, using them for our ultimate benefit. Knowing this, we can respond with trust, dependence, and worship.

Devotional Title: How to Pass Down the Faith (3/17/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 1:1-7
 
One of our greatest desires as Christians is that our loved ones come to faith in the Savior. Although we can’t believe for anyone else, there are steps we can take to impact their lives for Christ.
 
Tell them about Jesus. People may be drawn to Christ by our example, but to be saved, they must hear and understand the gospel (Rom. 10:13-15).
 
Share basic principles from the Bible. Pass along the spiritual lessons you have learned about God. For example, share with others that the heavenly Father provides for His children’s needs (Phil. 4:19), guides with His Word (Psalm 119:105), and enables those in Christ to live righteously and obediently (John 15:4-5). 
 
Model trust in God with your lifestyle. If you are characterized by peace, joy, and contentment in the midst of hardship or suffering, your example will speak volumes to those around you. Words and actions demonstrate that your faith is genuine and that Christ truly can transform lives.
 
My grandfather was the one who influenced me. I remember thinking that if God could love and care for him, He could probably take care of me, too. Don’t you want your character to leave others with that same confidence in the Lord?

Devotional Title: Learning to Wait (3/16/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 25

What are we to think when we have prayed but the Lord doesn’t answer? As creatures limited by time, we can find waiting very frustrating. However, God doesn’t perceive time as we do. He knows the end of a matter before it has even begun. His knowledge reaches from eternity past to eternity future, and nothing is hidden from His sight.

Furthermore, His compassion and lovingkindness surround those who belong to Him. He allows difficult circumstances in our life, not to destroy us but rather to build up our faith and bring us to spiritual maturity. Sometimes He withholds answers because they are not spiritually beneficial for us.

Psalm 25:9-10 teaches that waiting on the Lord requires at least three things:

1. Instead of demanding that God do things our way, we must humble ourselves so He can teach us His ways.

2. We must trust the Lord’s leadership, knowing that all His paths are established on His lovingkindness and truth.

3. We must be obedient to Him—which sometimes requires waiting and trusting.

If God seems slow in answering your prayer, realize that He hasn’t left you but is redirecting you onto His path.


Devotional Title: A Clean Heart (3/15/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 51

One of the most misleading pieces of advice you will hear is the recommendation to follow your heart. God says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9). We all enter life with a inclination toward sin and selfishness, and there is no way we ourselves can change this. Instead of trusting a sinful heart, what we really need is a new, clean heart, and only the Lord can give us one.

Our heavenly Father sent His Son into this world to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins. Only in that way could we be forgiven and receive a clean heart from which flow holy desires and ambitions. Through Christ, we are set apart for God, welcomed into His family as adopted children, and indwelt by His Spirit.

Thanks to our new heart and the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence, we are enabled to live a righteous life of obedience to the Lord. Instead of living with a deceptive heart, we can now draw near to God in fellowship and understand the truth of His Word. With gratitude for our new heart, let’s rely on the Spirit’s power to help us discern error and make wise decisions.

Devotional Title: Groaning (3/12/2021) Friday 

We have all had occasion when we were tempted to say, ‘If I did not have bad luck, I would have no luck at all.’ We hit the skids. Life is in the pits. The only place left to look is up. The pagan world of the time of Jesus would have called this ‘fate’ with the word meaning something that happens beyond our control, it is in the hands of the gods and not necessarily for our good or bad. Things just happen. There is fatalism and negativity in fate. There is resignation to the inevitable, whatever it is, and hanging the head in hopelessness.

For Believers, there is no such thing as fate. God’s hand is in everything occurring in our lives, and the mystery of everything in life is it is for our ultimate good, our salvation. There is purpose and intention to everything we go through, no matter how bad, and God means well for us at the end of it.

In the meantime? Well, we will have our days in the wilderness. The prophet Joel was prophesying to Judah in what appeared to be good times, but he was commissioned to warn them complacency and apathy was going to lead to judgment. At one point, Joel utters a call for repentance to head off God’s judgment. Joel 1:18 ‘How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.’

How bad is it going to be? Even the animals are going to groan in torment. This is probably an oracle of a coming famine and drought, but God’s point is if animals who do not think groan in suffering and mourning, then what is it going to be like for His Elect? The Hebrew word for ‘groan’ means to mourn or sigh. It is a feeling one has at a death bed or a funeral.

How in the world can God’s grace come out of such awful suffering? Where is the consolation for those who are dying, already dead or those left behind to experience their absence? Writing of the future glory of believers, the Apostle Paul wrote: Romans 8:22-23 ‘For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.’

Paul uses a Greek word for ‘groan’ roughly equivalent to the Hebrew word, but where the groaning in Joel is at death, the groaning in Paul’s heart is prior to a birth. Paul’s groaning is his sighing and struggling for something better than what he has in this life. Paul’s groan is like that of a bride in labor about to give birth to a child which in that culture was the greatest pleasure a woman could have.

Paul’s groaning is not over something worse or the end, rather groaning over something better that will be eternal. Writing in 2 Corinthians of our future heavenly dwelling: 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 ‘For we know that if our earthly house of thistabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.’ This house, this mortal flesh will give away to flesh given eternal life.

This is a Believer’s hope and expectation. The sorrows and travail of this world are only part of a preparation for eternal glory. In our dark moments we know hidden somewhere in it all is an everlasting peace and comfort. Yes, we groan, but we groan with anticipation and hope for what will be better than this world of sin and death.

We can do that because of Jesus’ Blood shed for us on the Cross. He has taken the punishment of death for our sin, and sent the Person of the Holy Spirit to guarantee us eternal life. Psalms 30:4-5 ‘Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Trust God in Troubling Times (3/11/2021) Thursday  

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 46

If you listen to the news, no doubt you’ve heard scary stories of political upheaval, global threats, and natural or man-made catastrophes. Although people around you may be fearful and stressed, there is no reason a child of God should feel this way. For Christians, the Lord is a refuge and very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

While today’s passage describes a variety of disasters, the writer’s intention was certainly not to cause fear. Rather, these words are a reminder of our Father’s supremacy over everything that happens, His protection of His people, and the ultimate victory that results in His kingdom’s rule on earth. In light of this, we are told to let go of worry and efforts to protect ourselves—and instead trust Him. Our comfort and security are found not in frantically running around, trying to make sure we are safe, but in knowing God. Whatever trouble we experience, He is sufficient to help us through it.

The key to courageously facing the future is confidence in the Lord. He’s your shelter, strength, and help in trouble. To increase your trust in Him, read through the psalms, looking for words and phrases that affirm His protection, steadfastness, and care.


Devotional Title: Recognizing Christ’s Voice (3/10/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: John 10:1-18

You may not want to think of yourself as a sheep, but that is a term Jesus used to describe His children. His sheep are all those who have trusted Him as Savior—and they are the ones for whom He laid down His life. Scripture says these sheep are identified by three characteristics: They know their Shepherd, hear His voice, and follow Him.

Our Shepherd knew us before the foundation of the world. He sought us when we were lost, calling us each by name into His flock. We responded in faith by following Jesus, and from that point onward, we’ve been growing in our knowledge of Him and in our ability to obey His voice.

Yet sometimes we are rebellious sheep who, because of self-centeredness, fail to heed Christ’s Word. We begin to ignore His directions and choose to listen to competing voices that promise to give us what we want. As we go our own way, it becomes harder to hear Christ’s voice.

When we have difficulty hearing the Lord, the best remedy is to surrender our personal desires and fix our attention on what God wants. Only then will we again be able to discern our Shepherd’s voice calling us back to Himself.


Devotional Title: The Holy Spirit: God in Us (3/9/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: John 16:7-15

God’s presence with mankind has become more intimate—from a cloud of glory in the temple, to the incarnate Son of God living with men, to the indwelling presence of His Spirit. In other words, God the Holy Spirit actually takes up residence within each believer! That’s why Jesus said it was better for Him to go away, because then the Helper could come.

While on earth, the Christ could be in only one place at a time. But after His ascension, the Holy Spirit came to impart divine wisdom, insight, and power. If you want to see the difference this made, compare the disciples’ lives before and after Pentecost. They were transformed from timid men to bold preachers ready to suffer for the gospel.

The Lord wants to accomplish His will through us. But without His supernatural indwelling presence, we can’t become the people He wants us to be. Through His Spirit, Jesus Christ lives His life in us, empowering His work. If we really believed this, we would live like the victorious children of God that we are.

If you are a believer, think about the amazing blessing that is yours: Even when you feel inadequate, God’s power resides within you. No challenge is insurmountable, because the Holy Spirit is greater than any obstacle you’ll ever face


Devotional Title: When the Odds Are Against You (3/8/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Judges 7:1-7

Have you ever felt backed up against a wall with no way out? Although a situation like that is truly beyond what you can manage, it is not too big for God. In fact, if you could competently handle every difficulty that arose, then the credit would go to you and not to the Lord.  Impossible circumstances teach us an important lesson: to depend on Him and not on ourselves.

Gideon was a reluctant warrior who felt inadequate for the task God called him to do: to deliver Israel from Midianite oppression (Judg. 6:14-16). But in obedience, he had rallied 32,000 men to fight against the enemy. However, the Lord then whittled the army down to just three hundred men. Humanly speaking, it would be impossible to defeat the enemy forces with so few. But that was precisely God’s point: He alone would achieve the victory and receive the glory.

When the odds are not in your favor, that doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. Stand your ground and keep your eyes on Him. Trust your heavenly Father, and you’ll be amazed at what He will achieve. Then glorify Him, giving thanks for His faithfulness.


Devotional (3/1/2021-3/5/2021)

Devotional Title: Tasting and Seeing (3/4/2021) Thursday 

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, He was by the Sea of Galilee—a region known for fishing. The people around Him would have been familiar with the practice of curing with salt to preserve and enhance flavor, and they perhaps even imagined the rich taste as He said to them, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13).

While we may not have the same vivid picture and flavor in mind, followers of Christ today are similarly called to preserve what is good in the world—especially the history, richness, and legacy of our faith. We can do this by studying God’s Word, learning about the development and work of the church, praying regularly, and seeking to represent Christ everywhere we go and in whatever we do. This is how we help others “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

Think About It

Think about your own habits. How can you continue the work of preserving what is good in the world?

What are some ways you can represent Christ in your household, neighborhood, or community?

Devotional Title: Learning Obedience Through Suffering

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 5:7-9
 
Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to suffer so much when He came to earth as a man? One might expect that the Son of God should have a comfortable life and a quick and easy death. After all, wouldn’t His blood have paid for our sins whether it was shed painlessly or with great agony?
 
Jesus took on human flesh so that He could die and pay the horrendous price of mankind’s iniquity. The pain He experienced reflects the great consequences of human transgression. In fact, all suffering originates from the entrance of sin into the world through Adam and Eve. Therefore, our Savior also had to suffer in order to redeem us from sin and its far-reaching damage.
 
The holy Son of God, who had never yielded to sin, struggled with the prospect of being the sin bearer on the cross. Yet Jesus submitted and “learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8). And as the source of eternal salvation, He faithfully completed God’s plan of redemption.
 
When it’s challenging for us to obey the Lord, we need the help of the One who suffered on our behalf. If His difficult obedience resulted in such a great benefit, surely ours has purpose as well

Devotional Title: Restoring Connections (3/2/2021) Tuesday 

. . . build up the ancient ruins
. . . repair the ruined cities—Isaiah 61:4
Three relationships broke when man fell, so long ago: the relationship between man and God, the relationship between man and himself, and the relationship between man and other men (and women).
 
Our jobs now, brother and sister , are to repair and rebuild those relationships, in our own unique ways, as much as we can during our lifetimes . . . and to encourage and assist others in doing likewise. Our King, Jesus Christ, gave us our instructions—love “God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and love “your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). His two-part directive covers all three relationships: love God more than anything else; love yourself sufficiently; and love other people at least as much as you love yourself. It’s all there.
 
So how do we begin? Well, we restore relationships with God when we soften our hearts, decide to trust him more than we trust ourselves, and bend ourselves toward obedience. We restore relationships with ourselves when we soften our hearts and decide to care for ourselves as God intends, finally dealing with self-condemnation or idolatry or addiction (to work, to food, to alcohol, to pornography, or anything else). And, we restore relationships with others when we soften our hearts, decide to look around for people who need us, and bend our lives toward loving and serving and forgiving them.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Take a moment to survey your life. Which type of relationship is most broken? If none is obvious, take time for listening prayer. Ask your counselor, God the Holy Spirit, to guide you. Once you’ve focused-in on what’s most in need of rebuilding, what’s most in need of repair, you’ve got your own, individualized blueprint for “what’s next.” Begin working on it this week. Start with something practical.

Devotional Title: Clothed With Power (3/1/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Luke 24:44-49
 
The power of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus referred to as “the promise of My Father” (Luke 24:49), is available to everyone who has trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation. But unfortunately, many believers neglect the Spirit’s power and try to do God’s work in their own human energy.
 
Consider the difference between a sedan and a race car. Both vehicles run, but what is under the hood of the race car makes it far more powerful than the sedan. This is similar to the difference between relying on ourselves and relying on the Spirit of God.
 
We often think that the power of the Holy Spirit is available only to pastors and missionaries, but this power is available to every believer (Eph. 1:19). It is easier to access when we are …
 
Convicted of our inadequacy. This means acknowledging we cannot do anything apart from Jesus (John 15:5).
Repentant. Sin short-circuits the power of the Holy Spirit, but confession and repentance maintain fellowship with God.
Prayerful. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf when we come to God in prayer (Rom. 8:26-27).
When we trust God to provide the stamina for the work He calls us to do, we are clothed in power. Is your confidence in yourself or in Him?
 


Last Week Nightly Devotionals (2/22/2021-2/27/2021)

Devotional Title: Problem Solved! (2/25/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Peter 1:1-5

Mankind was created to have a relationship with God, but that connection was broken when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. Now every human being is alienated from the Lord. And yet hope is not lost, because He had a plan of salvation in place even before creation: When the time was right, the Son of God would pay the penalty for mankind’s sin with His substitutionary death, opening the door for our forgiveness and reconciliation.

Because He is gracious, God saves us on the basis of faith in His Son. Then He gives us a new nature empowered by the Holy Spirit who comes to live within each Christian. The Spirit transforms our character into the image of Christ and enables us to live godly, obedient lives. And one day we will stand before our Father and be welcomed into our heavenly inheritance.

We need these truths firmly planted in our mind so we can grasp not only our desperate situation but also the goodness and love in God’s amazing rescue plan. He has proven His care for us in our greatest need. Will He not then provide for every other need in our life?

Devotional Title: A God of Grace (2/24/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 2:1-9

In all our attempts to know God, we must face the fact that ultimately He is beyond our understanding. From our perspective, His attributes may seem at odds with each other. For instance, He is a God of vengeance (Psalm 94:1) who will judge the earth (Psalm 98:9), but He is also described as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (Ex. 34:6). God in His utter perfection is all of these things—without any contradiction at all.

The Lord will judge unrepentant sinners, yet He is gracious to all who trust in His Son for forgiveness and salvation. Grace is His goodness and kindness lavished upon everyone who receives it. It’s totally undeserved because there is nothing we can do to make ourselves acceptable to Him. And on the other hand, we can do nothing to separate ourselves from His grace. This is God’s gift to believers in Christ, and it can never be taken away from us.

We were saved by grace, are sustained by it every day of our Christian life, and will be recipients of the surpassing riches of divine grace for all eternity. What an amazing gift from our Father!

Devotional Title:When the Odds Are Against You

Key Bible Passage: Judges 7:1-7

Have you ever felt backed up against a wall with no way out? Although a situation like that is truly beyond what you can manage, it is not too big for God. In fact, if you could competently handle every difficulty that arose, then the credit would go to you and not to the Lord.  Impossible circumstances teach us an important lesson: to depend on Him and not on ourselves.

Gideon was a reluctant warrior who felt inadequate for the task God called him to do: to deliver Israel from Midianite oppression (Judg. 6:14-16). But in obedience, he had rallied 32,000 men to fight against the enemy. However, the Lord then whittled the army down to just three hundred men. Humanly speaking, it would be impossible to defeat the enemy forces with so few. But that was precisely God’s point: He alone would achieve the victory and receive the glory.

When the odds are not in your favor, that doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. Stand your ground and keep your eyes on Him. Trust your heavenly Father, and you’ll be amazed at what He will achieve. Then glorify Him, giving thanks for His faithfulness.

Devotional Title :Our God Is Able (2/22/2021) Monday 

 
Key Bible Passages: Jude 1:24-25
 
Unfortunately, there are times when, no matter how hard we try or how talented we may be, we fail. How are we to succeed when the odds are against us? For believers in Christ Jesus, the answer is to live with the knowledge that God works despite our weaknesses.
 
In Genesis, Sarah doubted when the Lord prophesied the birth of her son. “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” He replied (Gen. 18:14). Within a year, Sarah gave birth to baby Isaac. She saw that God was able.
 
Moses was scared when God sent him to Pharaoh to demand that the Hebrew slaves be released. “Who am I,” he asked, “that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11). God replied that He Himself would release Israel, which He did in a miraculous way. Moses saw that God was able.
 
On our own, we can accomplish nothing (John 15:5). But with God, we have access to power beyond our comprehension (1 Chronicles 29:12). If you are overcome by burdens in your life, it is time to trust the only One who can carry your heavy load (Matt. 11:28-30). Then you will see for yourself that He is able.

Devotional Title:Characteristics of Christians (2/19/2021) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 15:13
 
Today’s verse from Romans 15 is Paul’s concise description of how God can transform hearts and attitudes when people trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Instead of being filled with fear, anxiety, frustration, and stress, they can now—empowered by the Holy Spirit—be characterized by hope, joy, and peace.
 
Yet all too often those old emotions come back when circumstances are difficult. We walk around, weighed down with concerns even though Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). As anxious thoughts and hopelessness take over, we not only suffer personally but also cease to be a light in the world because Christ is no longer reflected in our life. On the surface, in fact, we appear just as pressured, stressed, and fearful as those without Christ.
 
Although we don’t rejoice in the adversities themselves, we can find hope, joy, and peace in knowing that our difficulties aren’t in vain. God may be refining our character and melting away things that don’t reflect Christ. If we submit to whatever road the Lord has chosen for us, His Spirit will guide us and—slowly but surely—produce His fruit.


Devotional Title: Be Careful Who You Listen To (2/18/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Kings 12:1-19
 
Sometimes people make decisions they later regret because they listened to ungodly counsel. Here are four suggestions to help you discern what is wise, biblical advice: 
 
Look for counsel that references God, the Bible, and Jesus. If it neglects or contradicts the principles of Scripture, the best thing to do is retreat. 
If there’s a lot of talk but little prayer, think twice. Even with a great exchange of ideas and wisdom, a prudent advisor should ultimately defer to God and pray for His direction. Prayer is essential for attaining the whole counsel of God. 

Avoid a counselor who compromises Scripture. People sometimes soften God’s requirements by saying things like, “Nobody’s perfect, so a little gossip, gambling, or other ‘fun’ won’t hurt.” Such rationalizing can quickly lead to destruction. 
Beware of counsel quick to criticize the church. Someone who readily discredits the church may have a hurtful bias and a tendency to leave God out when giving advice.
Remember, living within each believer is the Counselor Himself—the Holy Spirit—who wants to help with all our decisions. Seek Him first and often.


Devotional Title: Cry Out to the Lord (2/17/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage : Psalm 107:23-32
 
Like the sailors in today’s passage, at some point you will hit great turbulence in your life. Perhaps you are currently experiencing a storm with no end in sight. Your situation may be so serious that you wonder how you’ll ever get through it. You’ve tried everything possible to resolve the matter but to no avail. 
 
The solution is to do exactly what these sailors did—cry to the Lord in your trouble (Psalm 107:28). After all, He is sovereign over storms and uses them for His good purposes. God knows we sometimes need to reach the end of our own resources before we will turn to Him. Then, if we call out to the Lord and submit to His authority over the storm, He will calm the waves in His perfect timing and guide us to safety.
 
Remember, the goal is not simply to escape turmoil but to learn to depend on the Lord instead of ourselves. Trusting Him to handle what we cannot will ultimately lead to gladness, thanks, and praise for His lovingkindness and intervention on our behalf. And another wonderful result will be that we tell others how faithful God has been, so they can trust Him, too.

Devotional Title: *😇SPIRITUAL LIVING😇* (2/16/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: *(📕 Galatians 5:24-25)*
 
The Holy Spirit fuels spiritual living. This is where freedom resides and where fruit bearing takes place. The flesh is pre-conversion to Christ living; it is reliance on self to secure security. The Spirit is post-conversion to Christ living; it is reliance on God to secure earthly and eternal security. The Spirit and the flesh conflict, but the flesh has been put to death by faith and the Spirit has come alive. Spiritual living submits to Christ. 
 
Spiritual living thrives as we daily surrender our soul to Jesus. In the same way we became a Christian—by grace through faith—it’s the same way we continue as a Christian. Yet, the flesh tries to flaunt its old habits as teasers for us to not trust God. But we know better—it’s better to not boast in the flesh, but to be humbled by the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit we are empowered to bear the fruit of the Spirit. 
 
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:16-17
 
The Spirit brings wisdom, when we consider ways that are unwise. The Spirit brings conviction, when we begin to drift from our convictions. The Spirit brings comfort when we struggle with discomfort. The Spirit leads us into God’s will when we are tempted to follow our own will. The Holy Spirit is heaven’s secret to spiritual living. When we walk by the Spirit we are everything, if we ignore the Spirit we are nothing. 
 
Are you looking to love better, rejoice more and be at peace? If so, allow the Spirit to grow love, joy and peace in the soil of your soul. God is your Gardner whose green thumb of grace always grows an abundance of fruit. Forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all seeded by the Holy Spirit to produce the Lord’s luscious fruit that remains. Fertilize with faith and then water with God’s Word.
 
Invite the Holy Spirit to pull out any weeds of sin from your heart. And like a kudzu plant climbs, coils and covers in a hot and humid climate, the fruit of the Spirit covers your life in Christ-like character. Your part is faith and His part is fruit. Your part is surrender and His part is victory. Your part is prayer and His part is answers. Your part is humility and His part is a harvest of righteousness. Spiritual living lives by the Spirit’s power. 
 
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).
 
By Pastor Imran John


Devotional Title: The Benefits of Gratitude (2/15/2021)

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 105:1-5
 
Thanking God glorifies and magnifies Him, but did you know doing so also benefits us? The Lord doesn’t need our gratitude, but as we give thanks, we become less selfish and more confident in God’s character. Expressing gratefulness …
 
Refocuses our attention. Life is filled with distractions that can make it harder to notice all God has done for us. Instead of living with the weight of the world on our shoulders, it’s good to try refocusing on the Lord by thanking Him for His faithfulness. 
Relieves our anxiety. Many people in our society live with constant apprehension. But when we bring our concerns to the Lord with thanksgiving, the burden shifts to Him, and His peace comes to us (Phil. 4:6-7). 
Refreshes our relationship. Gratitude keeps us from thinking that the Christian walk is all about us and our needs. Our fellowship with God is enhanced when we focus on Him. 
Reinforces our faith. Thanksgiving helps us dig ourselves out of the pit of discouragement and strengthens us spiritually.
When you’re overwhelmed, thanking God is probably not on your radar. But I’ve learned from experience that acknowledging all the Lord has done is a sure way to change attitudes and re-energize.


Devotionals Title: Called to Serve (2/11/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 20:20-28
 
As believers, we seldom call ourselves “servants of Christ,” but that is exactly what the Lord tells us to be. After His disciples wrangled about who was the greatest, Jesus surprised them with a call to become a servant of all.
 
Christ is not just our Savior but also our Lord and Master. Just as He served His Father by caring for people, so we serve God by meeting the temporal and spiritual needs of those around us.
 
Service produces spiritual growth. God is continually transforming believers into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), but our self-centeredness often gets in the way. Serving others is one tool the Lord uses to free us of selfishness.
Service achieves God’s purpose for our life. The Lord has work for each of us to accomplish in our lifetime (Eph. 2:10). If we only take in and never give out, we will miss much of what He has planned for us.
As a child of God, you have a high calling that can be realized only by lowering yourself to the level of a servant. Look for opportunities today to serve someone, and take your place alongside Christ, who was the ultimate servant of all.

Devotional Title: A Spirit-Filled Life (2/10/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Which would you say is more difficult: teaching a Sunday school lesson or loving your enemies? Helping a neighbor or practicing patience with troublesome people? Doing a good deed or holding onto joy in a crisis? Most of us find the latter in each pair more challenging and less rewarding.

Today’s culture admires people who are action-oriented, and we tend to adopt the same standard in the church. There’s an assumption that individuals who are doing the most are the ones filled with the Spirit, but this is not automatically true. Accomplishments do not equal spiritual maturity. The true measure of the Spirit’s control is character, not abilities or achievements.

Though good works and spiritual gifts are God-given avenues for our service, the Holy Spirit is also at work, bringing about spiritual fruit in our life. His goal is an internal transformation whereby Jesus’ character qualities are reproduced in us. Without the fruit described in Galatians 5:22-23, all our efforts at service are worth nothing.

A Spirit-filled life is most readily visible in Christ-like attitudes and interactions with others. As we yield ourselves to His authority and allow God’s Word to dwell richly within our being, He will transform us.


Devotional Title: A Powerful Message (2/9/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 1:16-17

The word gospel comes from euaggelion, a Greek word meaning “good news.” It was translated as gōdspel in Old English. Salvation in Christ truly is good news, for though sinfulness reigns in men’s hearts, God can redeem us.

This is the message of the Bible. In Genesis, we see the love of God for man, but we also witness how sin entered the human race, with the result that mankind was lost. There was no permanent solution until Jesus took our sins upon Himself. As our substitute, He endured the penalty we all deserved and defeated death with His resurrection.

Think about the strength of the gospel. God’s Word isn’t simply ink on a page; it is living, active, sharper than a sword (Heb. 4:12), and powerful enough to transform anyone—even sinners like us.

Think about what divine truth is able to do: It can break the chains of sin, heal brokenness, and change hearts. It also guides us into wisdom and choices that bring life. Friend, we have access to the most powerful message in existence.

What’s your response to the gospel? Are you grateful for being entrusted with God’s life-giving Word? This is why we must meditate on Scripture daily and eagerly obey what it says, as it’s the life-source for our soul.


Devotional Title: Preparation for Praise (2/8/2020) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: John 4:19-24

Worship service is a term often used to describe a Sunday morning gathering of a church. But is real worship actually happening there? God isn’t looking for attendees to fill up the pews; He’s seeking true worshippers.

When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman, part of their discussion was about religious observance. She was focused on the right place of worship, but Jesus explained that there were two much more important aspects. Genuine worship of God must be done “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).

Spirit means our praise can never be simply another item on our to-do list. Authentic worship is not an obligation, burden, or some weekly task, but rather a total spiritual recognition of God’s gracious lovingkindness and divine majesty.

Truth means that worship is not just an emotional experience. Unless it is based on the truth of God’s Word, then all we have is a soothing sentimental feeling. And that kind of experience will neither last nor promote the spiritual growth God desires for us.

Take some time this week to do a spiritual checkup. Think about why you attend church. Ask yourself, Is it merely a habit or duty? Am I seeking an experience, or do I honestly come to praise and adore God?

Devotionals Title: Lost Sheep (2/5/2021) Friday 

Desmond Doss was a conscientious objector because of his faith. He refused to raise his hand against his fellow man. Nevertheless, he understood the necessity of serving his country in a time of war. The movie ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ documents the challenge Doss faced. Doss ended up serving as a medic. He was no rear area shirker. He went into combat and treated the wounded and dying in the middle of the worst of the worst. He was no coward. How many of us would go into combat without a weapon?

In the movie, there is a scene at the end of particularly hellish day during the battle of Okinawa. Doss lays face down in the dirt exhausted and no doubt terrified by what he is witnessing. He has been treating men all day, and his unit has been ordered to retreat, but dozens of wounded men still lay on the battlefield. Leaving them behind means leaving them to die. The men with the weapons follow orders and retreat. Doss stays, and I confess I wept at the way the movie presented the moment.

Doss recalls scripture from the Parable of the Lost Sheep: Luke 15:4-6 ‘What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together hisfriends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ The character playing Doss thinks, ‘just one more.’

Doss proceeds to spend the entire night gathering in as many wounded as he can. He rescues dozens of them and lowers them to safety off Hacksaw Ridge without any help, just him, and Jesus. That was not just a dramatization. Doss did that, and he could only have done it with a Faith that puts most of us to shame.

We live in a time when this world of sin and death seems to be coming down upon the shoulders of the Faithful. Scripture speaks of the great falling away. Scripture speaks of hearts growing cold and callous as the end approaches. Scripture speaks of darkness descending upon a lost and suffering world. What are believers to make of it? Is this what our Faith comes to, a disastrous defeat and loss of all hope?

Someone very close to me, facing terrible personal pain and suffering, observed how often persecution, suffering and even martyrdom have led to revival and salvation in the life of the church. The irony is what the world sees as a victory over Faith is the moment Faith conquers hearts. The early Christian writer Tertullian said, ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.’ The world can do its worst to the believer, but God will triumph in the end.

No? Satan did his worst against Christ on the Cross, and look what Christ has done with the sacrifice of His Blood. Look at how Christ turns all things to His glory. He cannot be defeated, because He defeated death itself, and the irony is God used  Satan to help Jesus set the stage for the greatest victory this world will ever know. That is God’s majestic sovereignty at work.

Give up? Give in? Quit? Throw our hands up in despair? No. We serve, and our victory is one lost sheep at a time. That is what keeps the Faithful going even in, especially in, the times we are in, and the times that are coming.

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: God Is Good to All (2/4/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 118:1-4

God is good. We see evidence of this everywhere we look. We might wonder why good things happen to bad people, or why bad things happen to Christ followers. However, no matter how great our service to God, we are no more deserving of God’s goodness than anyone else. Only God can judge what is truly “good,” and He bases this on His knowledge of our hearts.

Too much of a good thing can have negative effects. For instance, a $10 tithe may not seem like much to a young person, even though he earns just $100 a week. But later that same person, now successful and wealthy, may struggle to give $1000, even though the amount represents the same percentage of his paycheck. God knows this about us and will bless us accordingly so we are not tempted to turn away from Him and worship the gift instead of the Giver.

When we are not wise stewards, the Lord may withdraw some of His benefits from our lives. Instead, let’s follow in the thanksgiving and praise of today’s psalm. Remember, “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

Every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). Walk according to His will, follow His ways, and He will shower His goodness upon you.


Devotional Title: Growing Through Our Adversity (2/03/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: James 1:2-4

What would happen if you approached a fork in the road and found two signs—one reading “Road of Comfort” and the other, “Road of Adversity”? Most of us would probably veer onto the path of comfort with a sigh of relief, because no one wants to experience pain, disappointment, or loss. Yet hardships are an essential part of the believer’s spiritual journey.

First of all, adversity reveals our view of the Lord. The more clearly we understand who God is and what He desires to accomplish in us, the stronger our faith and the greater our joy will be. But if we’re focused on the negative aspects of our circumstances, we may begin to doubt His loving sovereignty and good purposes.

Second, adversity teaches us the truth about ourselves. Sinful attitudes and misplaced priorities often come to the surface in times of affliction. Though we may just want the situation to improve, God intends to teach us through it. So it’s important that we have a willingness to learn.

Instead of seeing our difficulties as loss, we need to view them as a means God uses to build endurance. Then we may be, as James says, “lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).


Devotional Title: The Lord Understands (2/02/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 4:14-16

Do you realize Jesus knows what it feels like to have human struggles? The Lord left the glories of heaven behind to add humanity to His deity. He temporarily gave up His divine privileges and submitted Himself to do only what the Father commanded. Then He willingly gave up His life on the cross so we could be forgiven and reconciled to God. And even now, the resurrected Lord sits in heaven as our high priest, interceding for us.

Our Savior understands precisely how we feel because He went through the same types of situations we do. Though our specific circumstances don’t match the Lord’s, we have much in common with what He experienced and felt. Jesus suffered exhaustion, hunger, thirst, and pain just as we do. He also knows the heartache of being lonely, misunderstood, hated, rejected, and unjustly treated.

Whatever you’re going through right now, remember that Jesus knows how you feel and sympathizes with your pain and weakness. He may not remove the anguish or change your situation, but He does promise He’ll always be with you.

Devotional Title: God’s Encouraging Presence (2/01/2021) Monday 

 
Key Bible Passage:Psalm 42
 
When we are in despair, it’s difficult to sense the Lord’s presence with us. The circumstances seem to overwhelm what we know to be true—that His Holy Spirit abides in us forever. We long for an awareness that He cares, but in our distress, it is easy to forget the ways He makes Himself known to us:
 
The Scriptures. The first place we should go to find the Lord is His Word. His instructions lead us through dark valleys, His promises give hope, and His attributes provide comfort and assurance in the face of uncertainty.
God’s Providential Care. The Lord is sovereign over all events and uses them to achieve His purposes for the world and for each believer’s life. As circumstances unfold, look for God’s hand at work.
The Spirit’s Guidance. The indwelling Holy Spirit manifests Himself by bringing to mind scriptures that offer encouragement or direction. He is also our Comforter, who comes alongside during trials and helps us to endure.
Remember that God is near when you’re brokenhearted or crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Call out to Him saying, “Lord, I need you.”

Devotional Title: God’s Encouraging Presence (01/29/2021) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 42
 
When we are in despair, it’s difficult to sense the Lord’s presence with us. The circumstances seem to overwhelm what we know to be true—that His Holy Spirit abides in us forever. We long for an awareness that He cares, but in our distress, it is easy to forget the ways He makes Himself known to us:
 
The Scriptures. The first place we should go to find the Lord is His Word. His instructions lead us through dark valleys, His promises give hope, and His attributes provide comfort and assurance in the face of uncertainty.
God’s Providential Care. The Lord is sovereign over all events and uses them to achieve His purposes for the world and for each believer’s life. As circumstances unfold, look for God’s hand at work.
The Spirit’s Guidance. The indwelling Holy Spirit manifests Himself by bringing to mind scriptures that offer encouragement or direction. He is also our Comforter, who comes alongside during trials and helps us to endure.
Remember that God is near when you’re brokenhearted or crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Call out to Him saying, “Lord, I need you.”

Devotional Title: God Is Always With Us (1/28/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Jeremiah 1:1-10
 
When was the last time you felt the presence of God in your life? We all long to experience Him abiding with us personally and intimately, and when we can’t sense His closeness, we may think something is wrong in our relationship. But that’s not necessarily true.
 
In the Old Testament, the Lord appeared to prophets like Moses, Jeremiah, and Isaiah to give them His messages for the people. Today, the revelation of God is available to us in His written Word. In addition, believers in Jesus Christ have also been indwelt by the Comforter—God the Holy Spirit is always with us, though we’re not usually aware of Him in an overt way. Sometimes we sense His presence to a greater or lesser degree, but this is not something we can orchestrate or manipulate.
 
Remember that we are called to walk by faith, not by experience. The Lord has assured us He will be with us always even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). So on those days when you can’t sense His presence, try to rely on this truth. It will sustain you with strength to serve, endurance for hardship, and comfort in suffering.


Devotional Title: We Must Obey God, Not Men (1/27/2021) Wednesday 

 
There are a lot of messages and sermons about interpretating Romans 13. There is no point detailing why. If a person does not know, then you must be living at the South Pole, of Jupiter.
 
To make a long story short, Romans 13 requires obedience to secular authority since God has anointed such authority over men. The question becomes what do men do when such authority acts counter to God’s will? Is God telling us to obey the authorities of the world and disobey Him? We will come back to that.
 
Soon after Pentecost, the apostles are hauled before the Sanhedrin, the religious authorities. The apostles had, in the eyes of the religious leaders, been making a nuisance of themselves preaching and teaching in the Temple courts. At this early stage of the Church, there had been no separation between Jews and Believers. Believing Jews considered themselves to be practicing Jews, and they were trying to persuade the Sanhedrin of that.
 
The Sanhedrin replies, Acts 5:28 ‘Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’ The Sanhedrin, no doubt having a guilty conscience, claims the apostles are blaming them for executing Jesus. The apostles are therefore rebelling against legitimate religious authority.
 
Acts 5:29 ‘Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.’ When men are faced with obeying God or obeying any worldly authority, God must be obeyed. No wiggle room in that statement. Some may object this is just an argument among religious people, but it stands to reason if we must obey God first in the Church, then we surely must obey God when His decrees run counter to secular authority.
 
We return to Romans 13, and this is where things get uncomfortable for believers. We can, we must, disobey unGodly decrees, but we must do so in a way that honors God’s anointing of such authority. We must accept the lawful penalty anointed authority sets for our disobedience. If they fine us for disobedience, then we pay it. If they jail us for disobedience, then serve the time. If they execute us for disobedience, then we accept our martyrdom.
 
That way we honor God’s anointing of secular authority, but also honor God. ‘Wait a second! You mean I have to accept persecution?’ Yes. The Greek word for ‘witness’ is martureo from which the word ‘martry’ is derived. The acceptance of our punishment for our disobedience is our witness for Christ.
 
Think of Paul, Peter and most of the other apostles executed for disobedience. Read Foxe’s ‘Book of Martyrs’ of the witness believers have made with their bodies and lives. That is the price we pay. We do not get to be king of the hill because we disobey, we get to suffer for the cause of Christ.
 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was martyred by the Nazis for his faith. Bonhoeffer said, ‘Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’ We have a solemn obligation to speak and act in the name of God, but we must spiritually prepare ourselves to honor Romans 13, with our lives if need be.
 
The song ‘I Beg Your Pardon, I Didn’t Promise You A Rose Garden’ comes to mind. Believers need to snap out of it. We are not here for our sake, but for the cause of Christ. Demands have been, are being and will be made upon us. That is why we were chosen, to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: How to Make a Difference (1/26/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Peter 4:10-11
 
The Lord has given believers an amazing responsibility—He has called them to accomplish His work here on earth. How remarkable that God Almighty, who can do all things, invites us to participate in drawing people to Him, helping His children reach spiritual maturity, and caring for those in need.
 
Being a servant of the Lord means we put ourselves under His authority, listen to His instructions, and carry out His commands. In our own strength, this task is impossible, but when we defer to God and rely on Him, He supplies everything we need.
 
The Father always equips His children. He begins by developing Christlike character within us. Then, as we cooperate with His Spirit, God transforms a self-centered heart into the heart of a servant who delights in meeting others’ needs. And the Lord also bestows the spiritual gift needed for the specific work He’s appointed each believer to do.
 
The invitation is issued; the strength and ability are provided. All that is needed are some willing servants to participate in the most exciting adventure on earth. Join with the Lord in His work, use your spiritual gifts, and make an impact for Christ in this world.


Devotional Title: God Is Always With Us (01/25/2020) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Jeremiah 1:1-10
 
When was the last time you felt the presence of God in your life? We all long to experience Him abiding with us personally and intimately, and when we can’t sense His closeness, we may think something is wrong in our relationship. But that’s not necessarily true.
 
In the Old Testament, the Lord appeared to prophets like Moses, Jeremiah, and Isaiah to give them His messages for the people. Today, the revelation of God is available to us in His written Word. In addition, believers in Jesus Christ have also been indwelt by the Comforter—God the Holy Spirit is always with us, though we’re not usually aware of Him in an overt way. Sometimes we sense His presence to a greater or lesser degree, but this is not something we can orchestrate or manipulate.
 
Remember that we are called to walk by faith, not by experience. The Lord has assured us He will be with us always even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). So on those days when you can’t sense His presence, try to rely on this truth. It will sustain you with strength to serve, endurance for hardship, and comfort in suffering.

Devotional Title: Protection Within The Fire (1/22/2021) Friday

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Book of Daniel came to mind this morning. They were thrown into a fiery furnace. Why they were thrown in was not  what caught my attention, but what happened to them while in the furnace.
 
First, Daniel 3:19 ‘Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.’ The ‘form of his visage’ refers to the level of rage Nechadnezzar had against the three men. How furious was Nebuchadnezzar? The furnace was not just heated, rather heated to seven times its normal temperature. It was not heated to 6 or 8 times its normal temperature, but a temperature meant to tell us something was going to be accomplished or fulfilled in the heating.
 
Nebuchadnezzar no doubt thought he was going to burn the men to cinders. That was his intention, but Nebuchadnezzar was about to find out he was not in charge and heating the furnace to seven times its normal temperature is going to say something about God.
 
Daniel 3:21 ‘Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their othergarments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.’ It seems like a minor detail, but what happens is magnified by the fact the men are fully clothed. The following verse says the furnace was so hot the soldiers who threw the three men in the furnace were killed by the heat.
 
Then God reveals Himself. Nebuchadnezzar leaps to his feet asking if they threw three men into the furnace. Those present confirm it was three men. Then Nebuchadnezzar says, Daniel 3:25 ‘He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’ A fourth person is in the furnace. God has Nebuchadnezzar called him the Son of God. The person was not an angel, but the Son of God. The Son walks around with the other three men in the furnace. Not even the clothes of the men are singed by the heat.
 
Daniel 3:26 ‘Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, andspake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.’ Who ordered the three men taken out of the furnace? God? No, God was with the three men in the furnace. God sustained them in the furnace; He did not deliver from the furnace.
 
Why does that matter? What would people have said if God had spared the three men the heat of the furnace? Would some not question whether God had the power to save them in the furnace? Was not God glorified even more by being with the three men in their time of awful trial and adversity? He was not only with them, not even their clothes were harmed. What more powerful witness to the majesty of the sovereign God than to be with men in the worst they can face, and see them through it?
 
Believers sometimes give in to the temptation to think God will spare them from trials and adversity. They are selling God short. They are really saying God may not be big enough to give them strength and endurance in times of adversity. Jesus said, John 16:33 ‘These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ Tribulation is not a ‘maybe’ or a ‘might.’ It is a certainty for everyone. However, praise God, Jesus has not left us in the furnace alone. He has sent the Holy Spirit to strengthen and sustain us in the fiery heat of life. He glorifies Himself every day in how we respond to His presence in us.
 
That should be the question on a believer’s heart each day. How do I witness to the presence of God in me? Matthew 28:19-20 ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’ Jesus did not say hunker down until I come to pull you out of the furnace. He said He will be with us in the furnace, ‘I am with you always, even unto the end world.’ The ‘amen’ is not a benediction. It means ‘so be it.;’ it is a decree. Jesus decrees this is the way it is until He comes again, and we will serve Him unto the end, because we are not here for ourselves, but here to serve, reveal and glorify Him.

By David Anthony 


Devotional Title: How Do We Follow Jesus? (1/21/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 4:18-25
 
When Jesus called His disciples, they immediately dropped everything and followed Him. We might think that following Christ was easier then because He was physically present with them. Those men walked with Him, heard His instructions, and saw His interactions with people. But since we can’t see, hear, or touch Jesus, how do we follow Him today?
 
When Christ was about to leave this earth, He told His disciples it was to their advantage that He go away because then the Helper could come (John 16:7). He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who would soon indwell believers (John 14:16-17). The internal presence of the third member of the Trinity is the closest guidance possible, an amazing gift from God to those first-century disciples—and to us.
 
Today we follow Jesus by heeding His Holy Spirit, who speaks through Scripture and brings its principles to mind. The Spirit guides us each step of the way and teaches us the truths of God. But His work goes beyond that, transforming us from the inside out and enabling us to live righteously. He helps us discern God’s will and then gives us the desire and strength to serve obediently.

Devotional Title: Peace of Mind (1/20/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 3:5-6
 
Peace of mind comes from our Master Jesus. He is the master at putting our mind at ease with His eternal perspective. It is trust in Him that gives us tranquil thoughts. Without His peace we worry and fret. A peace-less mind is paralyzed by the thought of everything going awry. What can go wrong will go wrong because the odds are stacked against us. Without the peace of Christ we find ourselves with an overwhelming sense of dread, even despair. In Christ we have peace.
 
Jesus is not stingy with His peace. He gives it liberally and lovingly. Beware of the fleeting peace the world offers. It is a very cheap substitute. The world’s peace is circumstantial. His peace transcends circumstances. The world’s peace is temporal. His peace is eternal. The world’s peace leads you to escape from God and reality. His peace leads you to engage with both. The world’s peace produces a limited perspective. His peace results in a robust and real view of life. The world’s peace cannot remove fear. His peace overcomes fear with faith. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27).
 
Once you apply the peace of Christ you have peace of mind. Peace of mind gives you a platform for living purposefully. Because you live purposely and peacefully you garner influence with others. People are attracted to the peaceful. They want to learn how to find and apply peace to their life circumstances. Your friends or family may not acknowledge it, but your peace is proof of God’s existence. Peace is a powerful apologetic for the Almighty. Your calmness during crisis can only be explained by Christ. Because you lean on Him others want to lean on you.
 
Lastly use your peace of mind as a gauge for God’s will. If you have peace, proceed, but heed if you lack peace. God’s peace is a green light to go forward. The absence of His peace is a red light to refrain. Be sensitive to the Spirit’s peaceful prodding to go or stay. Either way you are ok as long as the Lord’s peace is preeminent. Peace gives you a state of mind that is able to think clearly and wisely. Peace positions you for wise thinking. 
 
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
 
By Pastor Imran John


Devotional Title: “Follow Me!”

Please enjoy The Gospel as found in “The Leather Journal” of Pastor Phil Newton of the South Woods Baptist Church of Memphis, TN. This is a service of the https://www.invertedchristian.com/ A ministry of The Duke Consulting Group
 
Follow Me!
 
“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him” (Matthew 9:9).
 
Jesus gave no thought to conforming to other’s expectations. The scrupulous scribes and Pharisees, who kept externals of the Law to appear righteous while giving no thought to the inner man, disdained the tax collector. He had his own sin category, even despised by the common man. The culture had turned its nose against tax collectors with their reputation for cheating, greediness, and as arms of the Roman oppressors. Tax collectors took advantage of their position at the expense of the hard-working person. When the Pharisees saw Jesus with Matthew and his friends, they disdainfully asked, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” (9:11) In their mind, Jesus would need to hold Himself aloof from such societal rabble and misfits in order to be righteous. But Jesus came for the sick not the healthy (9:12).
 
Yet Jesus had no thought of the culture shaping His mission, even religious culture. The Father had sent Him to save sinners. He had sent Jesus to bear the sins of the misfits and rejects of society. The religious folks thought their practice sufficient to count themselves right with God. The tax collector, however, understood far more theology than the Pharisees. He knew God to be too holy and righteous for mere men to achieve through their religious deeds, that kind of righteousness to satisfy God. Matthew recognized his plight before God. The pure, bold, gracious, and transforming word from Christ, “Follow Me!” filled his hopeless heart with boundless hope. He saw the way to God through Jesus Christ. He bowed to God’s authority and humbled himself as a desperately needy man before God, as he rose from his lucrative position to abandon all and follow Jesus.
 
That’s the call of the gospel. Its declaration speaks to the heart of sinners, breathing hope and promise into the throne room of darkness and despair. Even hearing those words, “Follow Me!” and truly hearing and knowing them as light and life, implies the penetrating and liberating power of the good news. Turning his back on the life of greed that had long held him in the bondage of unbelief, Matthew heard, rose, and followed Jesus. Jesus did not fill in the details of where the following would lead or what following entailed or what he would face in following Jesus. Those things palled in the voice and face of the One commanding, “Follow Me!” And they still do. To hear and respond to Jesus’ call in the gospel to follow Him is enough.
 
Here’s the very essence of responding in repentance and faith at hearing the gospel. We follow Jesus whatever the challenge or demand or difficulty or sacrifice or loss. We follow Him whom to know is life, forgiveness, hope, love, and immeasurable joy. Matthew found his purpose for existence in following Jesus. He rose and followed so that afterward nothing was ever the same. Following Jesus brought joy into this man who lived trapped by his sin. Christ as Lord became his all. Following Jesus un-traps the trapped! Everything from this point onward centers in Jesus. Did Matthew grasp all of that at the moment? Probably not but he knew the command of Christ brought life to him. He followed and lived in a newness of existence. Jesus still calls sinners to follow Him.
 
“Follow Me!” Jesus commands. In Him is life. Without Him, there’s no life. Follow Him.
 
Roger D. Duke retired early from Baptist College of Health Sciences after eighteen years of classroom teaching ministry. He is now a free-lance writer. Duke received his doctorate from The University of the South at Sewanee. Subsequently he has also taught at various colleges and graduate schools. He has authored or contributed to volumes on John Albert Broadus, John Bunyan, William Carey, Basil Manley, Jr., and John Paul II. He blogs at https://www.invertedchristian.com/


Devotional Title: Listening Through Restlessness (01/18/2021) Monday

Key Bible Passage: Esther 6:1-11
 
When we’re too preoccupied to hear God’s voice, He may get our attention by giving us a restless spirit. The book of Esther gives us a wonderful example of this.
 
In the sixth chapter, we see that King Ahasuerus “could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king” (Est. 6:1). As a result, Ahasuerus became aware of an assassination plot that had been foiled by a man named Mordecai. Filled with gratitude for this act of service, he made plans to honor him.
 
What Ahasuerus could not have known, though, is that Haman, one of the royal advisors, was plotting to hang Mordecai and exterminate the Jewish population (Est. 5:14). As a result of the king’s intervention, Mordecai and the rest of the Jews were saved.
 
Now, what started this process? A restless night. The king didn’t know why he couldn’t sleep, but we know: God was trying to get his attention. 
 
How often has this happened to you? You go about your life, but a restlessness seems to hang over you. In such moments, ask, “Lord, what is it You want to tell me?” You’ll discover that God can speak to you in your unrest.

Devotionals (01/11/2020-01/15/2020) 

Devotional Title: God’s Encouragement in Tough Times (1/15/2021)

Key Bible Passage: Judges 7:8-15

As inhabitants of a fallen world, we oftentimes face heartache, intimidation, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But as children of God, saved and secure in Jesus, we are never beyond the reach of the Lord’s encouragement. Sometimes it comes through Scripture or the timely words of a fellow believer, but God can also use circumstances to raise our spirits and increase our trust in Him.

This is exactly what the Lord did for Gideon, who was undoubtedly feeling anxious about taking just three hundred men to fight against the mighty Midianite army. God strategically positioned Gideon to overhear an enemy soldier recounting a frightful dream about being defeated by the Israelites. This unlikely circumstance assured Gideon that the Lord was at work in this daunting situation and would give them the victory.

God graciously used that incident to strengthen one man’s confidence in Him, and He encourages His children in similar ways today. The unexpected, hopeful circumstances that show up in our darkest moments are not accidents but precious assurance builders from the Lord. When we remember past evidence of His faithfulness, we can boldly face the future, knowing that God is always with us.

Devotional Title:Prophecies About Jesus (1/14/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Peter 1:10-12

Prophecies about Jesus Christ abound in the Old Testament. However, the men whom God inspired to record them didn’t fully understand what they were writing. To the prophets, who were unable to see how future events would unfold with time, some of these passages must have seemed impossible to reconcile with others. For Isaiah, the following predictions must have been confusing:

The Messiah will be a man who is born of a woman, but He is also eternal (Isa. 9:6).

The Messiah will prosper and be high and exalted, but He will also be marred more than any man (Isa. 52:13-14).

The Messiah will be a suffering servant yet a mighty king who sits on the throne of David (Isa. 53:1-12; Isa. 9:7).

Today, these prophecies make sense because we know from the New Testament that the eternal Son of God took on human flesh, was marred in the crucifixion, suffered the punishment we deserved for sin, and will one day return to reign over the earth.

There may be times when we, like the prophets, don’t understand what Scripture means. But in His perfect timing, God will reveal what He wants us to know. Until then, it is our job to trust.


Devotional Title : Circumcision Of The Heart (1/13/2021) Wednesday 

The charge is sometimes made Paul transformed Christianity from its Jewish roots into a Gentile religion. In his discussion of Jews in relation to the Law, Paul wrote, Romans 2:25 ‘For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.’ Jewish men were circumcised in accordance with Jewish law, Torah. Paul agrees a Jew must be circumcised, but says it only matters if the circumcised Jew can ‘keep the law.’ If a Jew violates any law, the circumcision is worthless.
 
Well, that is easy, just do not violate Torah. Right? In the following chapter, Paul wrote, Romans 3:23 ‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;’ Every Jew falls short of the glory of God. They are sinners. Circumcision will not change that, ‘if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.’ Paul goes on to explain circumcision in the flesh or its absence has nothing to do with our righteousness, our right relation to God.
 
He concludes by say, Romans 2:29 ‘But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.’ The circumcision that does matter is that of the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is not by keeping the letter of the law in the flesh that we are made righteous, but by the spirit of the law. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter, and that comfort is putting us in proper relation to God.
 
That sounds pretty unJewish. Right? Is Paul inventing this concept of circumcision of the heart to replace the circumcision of the flesh required by Torah. Jeremiah 9:25-26 ‘Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.’ God says the day will come when both circumcised and uncircumcised will face judgment, both Jew and Gentile. Whether they circumcise their flesh is irrelevant. What circumcision matters? Circumcision of the heart matters. There it is in the Old Testament. Paul did not make it up. God has always intended circumcision of the heart by the Holy Spirit to be the way to put us in right relation to Him.
 
‘Oh, but that’s just Jeremiah.’ In His commands to Israel, God had Moses say, Deuteronomy 10:16-17 ‘Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:’ God tells us the spiritual state of our heart is always what has mattered to Him most. Notice God does not say this is just a matter for Jews. God ‘regardeth not persons,’ He plays no favorites when it comes to circumcision of the heart. Whether Jew or Gentile does not matter. Whether circumcised in the flesh or not does not matter.
 
Paul bases the Christian faith on its Jewish roots. God’s Plan has always been the circumcision of the heart. God did not make a mistake and change His mind how people are made righteous. His intention has always been to make the righteous by the Holy Spirit, by faith.
 
How can that be? Because God’s solution was to send the Son. The Son’s Blood was shed to redeem us from the burden of sin we bear. Having lifted the burden of sin from us, the Son has sent the Holy Spirit to circumcise our hearts and make us, Jew and Gentiles, children of God by faith, not by flesh. 
 
It strengthens our faith when we realize the roots of circumcision of the heart. We see God’s Plan having us in mind from Old Testament to New Testament. Paul did not invent Christianity. Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s intention for bringing the Law, Torah, to its fulfillment. We are circumcised in heart by faith in Jesus.

By David Anthony 


Devotional Title: When the Odds Are Against You (1/12/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Judges 7:1-7

Have you ever felt backed up against a wall with no way out? Although a situation like that is truly beyond what you can manage, it is not too big for God. In fact, if you could competently handle every difficulty that arose, then the credit would go to you and not to the Lord.  Impossible circumstances teach us an important lesson: to depend on Him and not on ourselves.

Gideon was a reluctant warrior who felt inadequate for the task God called him to do: to deliver Israel from Midianite oppression (Judg. 6:14-16). But in obedience, he had rallied 32,000 men to fight against the enemy. However, the Lord then whittled the army down to just three hundred men. Humanly speaking, it would be impossible to defeat the enemy forces with so few. But that was precisely God’s point: He alone would achieve the victory and receive the glory.

When the odds are not in your favor, that doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. Stand your ground and keep your eyes on Him. Trust your heavenly Father, and you’ll be amazed at what He will achieve. Then glorify Him, giving thanks for His faithfulness.


Devotional Title: Working in God’s Kingdom (1/11/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Though we may gather at church every week, Christians shouldn’t remain within its four walls. God has chosen to work through His body of believers to accomplish His gospel mission on earth. To borrow a biblical metaphor, we are the workers sent out to cultivate and harvest His fields (Matt. 9:36-38). No one is a bystander in God’s kingdom.

The Lord has given every single believer a spiritual gift to aid in the work of His kingdom. These aren’t natural abilities but instead are the Holy Spirit’s power manifested through us—a special enablement that helps us serve according to His plan.

Paul reminds us that we are the Lord’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We should always remember that God’s power works through our gifts so there is no reason to shy away from the opportunities He opens up for us, even if they seem daunting.

Don’t spend your life just sitting in a pew! Experience the joy of participating in God’s kingdom work. The Holy Spirit will empower you to obey the Lord in whatever He calls you to do.

Last Week Nightly Devotionals 

Devotional Title: Prepare for Battle (1/7/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage:  Matthew 16:18
 
We’re designed for battle by our Father God; we’re led into battle by our King, Jesus Christ; we’re aided in battle by God the Holy Spirit. These battles are waged “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). 
 
The places where we meet our enemies have names like “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21). 
 
Though perhaps less dramatic than battles fought on the ground or in the air or on the sea, their outcomes are more momentous. They determine not only how we spend our lives, but our eternities too (Galatians 5:21).
 
We have enemies. They’re real. They’re powerful. They’re cunning, relentless, scheming always against us—scheming right now. We too, brother, must be cunning and relentless. We too must be prepared.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Create a battle plan. Resist any “this isn’t necessary” or “do it later” tendencies. Create a plan to bring the fight to our enemies. They’ve brought it to you long enough. Write it out today. Make it explicit. Make it practical.
 
1. Definition of Battle . . . what problem would you like to finally overcome?
 
2. Definition of Victory . . . what’ll victory look like?
 
3. Lay of the Land . . . what external factors contribute to the problem? 
 
4. Points of Weakness . . . what aspects of your lifestyle contribute too?
 
5. Plan of Attack . . . how will you counter or minimize or eliminate the external factors and contributing aspects of your lifestyle?
 
6. Sources of Strength . . . how’ll you stay connected to God and community?
 
7. Brothers/Sisters in-Arms . . . whom will you tell about this plan and keep updated, as to victories and defeats?


Devotional Title: Isaiah’s Commission (1/6/2021) Wednesday 

‘I’ll try, but it won’t do any good.’ How many have had occasion in their lives when they have said that, or at least thought it? We are told to do something knowing it will require a sacrifice from us, there will be no reward, but we go do what we are told anyway.
 
Let us confess sometimes we have the attitude we will come back and say, ‘I told you so.’ We will try to preserve our dignity by implying we should not have been sent on the task in the first place. I recall game plans when I was coaching football. I went along with them, but I did not think they would work. We will try them, but they will not do any good. I do not remember coming back later saying ‘I told you so,’ but I remember thinking it. My pride was in play.
 
What of the prophet Isaiah? What was his attitude when God commissioned him? Isaiah 6 begins with a fantastic vision of God. Isaiah is overwhelmed before anything is said to him. Isaiah 6:5 ‘Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ There is no pride in Isaiah. He confesses his sinfulness and that of the nation. The utterance ‘Woe is me’ might be taken as a lamentation heard at a funeral. In this case, Isaiah knows no unredeemed sinner can live in God’s presence.
 
Isaiah 6:6-7 ‘Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.’ God sends one of His assistants to purify Isaiah. In this case, a hot coal serves the purpose, and the servant tells Isaiah his is purged. The Hebrew word for purge is ‘kaphar’ meaning to cover or atone. Isaiah’s sin must be atoned for, so he can be in the presence of God.
 
God is heard asking who will He send? Unspoken is the notion of the person being sent is going on a mission. He will have a job to do. Isaiah answers, Isaiah 6:8 ‘Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.’ Isaiah knows he was not up to the commission on his own, but having been prepared by God, he is now confident of his ability to serve.
 
Great! Isaiah jumps in with both feet. Then God commissions Isaiah. Isaiah 6:9-10 ‘And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.’ Talk about letting the air out of the balloon, Isaiah is told up front no matter what he does, no one will listen to him. As a matter of fact, Isaiah is part of the judgment in that every time he speaks, the people will become prouder and more unwilling to see and hear what God is telling them.
 
Isaiah does not have to say he will try, but it will not do any good. GOD is telling him he must try, and it still will not do any good. Isaiah will not have to come back and say ‘I told you so,’ because GOD is telling Isaiah up front it will not do any good, and that is God’s will to use the people’s treatment of Isaiah against them.
 
I detect a bit of hesitancy in Isaiah’s question in the following verse. Isaiah 6:11 ‘Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,’ Somewhere in Isaiah is belief in God’s grace, and he is right, but the end of verse 11 begins God’s answer, and I invite the reader to read Isaiah 6:12-13 on their own.
 
It is terrifying. God will eventually reveal grace to the Elect. He will be consistent, but His answer to Isaiah is, ‘YOUR witness is to serve in their judgment, not their deliverance.’ Believers like to think what we say and do will always have a positive reaction, but the sobering realization is many times God takes the best we have to offer to bring out the worst of in others, because that is God’s way of making them give evidence against themselves justifying the judgment God is bringing on them.
 
That helps explain Jesus saying, Matthew 5:10-11 ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.’
 
We are called into the Kingdom to serve, not be served. We witness and testify. We are not to lose heart when we are not heard, or when we are persecuted. God will do with our service what He pleases, and we must rest in the assurance of a blessing to come for the tribulation we will face.


Devotional Title: How to Know You’re Saved (01/05/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 John 5:9-13
The most important issue we must settle in this life is our eternal destiny. Throughout history, local churches have been composed of both believers and unbelievers, and it’s often difficult to tell the difference. That’s why John wrote his first letter. He wanted to assure the true Christians of their salvation and warn those who professed belief but lacked saving faith.
 
John gives a fourfold test describing the beliefs and practices of genuine believers:
 
Right understanding of Christ and salvation (1 John 2:18-27). To be saved, we must have the true gospel and the only Savior, as described in God’s Word.
 
Right attitude toward sin (1 John 1:5-29, 1 John 2:1-2). True believers hate their sin and are quick to confess and turn from it.
 
Right practice of obedience (1 John 2:3-6). God’s commands are not burdensome to those who belong to Christ. Although they fail at times, the overall direction of their life is one of obedience.
 
Right relationship with God’s people (1 John 2:7-11). Christ produces within His true followers a love for fellow believers, demonstrated by a desire to be with them.
If you have doubts about your salvation, reading the book of 1 John will help you settle the issue.


Devotional Title: Living by Faith (01/04/2021
) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Mark 9:14-29
 
Do you struggle with doubts about God’s power? If so, the reason is probably because He hasn’t answered prayer as you expected. But that doesn’t prove He’s unable to do what you desire; it just demonstrates He had a different plan in mind. Living by faith isn’t a matter of expecting God to do what you want but of trusting Him to do what He desires.
 
Sometimes we may feel like the man in today’s story, whose son was possessed by an evil spirit. He struggled with doubts about Christ’s ability to heal people even though Jesus had repeatedly proven that He could. We can all identify with the father’s response, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
 
At times even Christians experience some uncertainty regarding God’s ways, truth, or ability. Thankfully, when that happens He is gracious to us in our weakness. Yet lingering doubts can be a spiritual hindrance. Scripture says a doubter is “double-minded” and “unstable in all his ways” and should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-8).
 
To overcome doubts and walk confidently by faith, we must learn to know our Father’s character, ways, and desires through His Word. Then we will have a foundation for trust even when our requests seem unanswered.


Devotional Title: In Tune With The Master (12/31/2020) Thursday 


Devotional/ Article Title  (12/30/2020) Wednesday :

Mediocrity: Not How You Want to Live

Dr. Joe Mckeever 

Guest Blogger for Afa

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“…you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold…” (Revelation 3:16)

Mediocrity is a warm blanket.

Mediocrity is remaining with the bunch that finishes neither early nor late, that turns in work much like everyone else’s, that is satisfied with pretty good.

Mediocrity is the head in the sand when the storm is raging around us.

Close your eyes until it all blows over.

Mediocrity is the coward’s way out when life-or-death decisions are being made.  “Well, let’s give this some more thought.”  “Let’s not be too hasty here.”  “We don’t want people to think we’re extremists.”

There’s the appearance of safety in mediocrity.  We’re like everyone around us.  We don’t stand out.  No one criticizes us. They don’t even see us.  We blend into the landscape.

Our English word mediocre comes from two Latin words, medi meaning “halfway,” and ocris meaning “mountain.”  Somewhere there is a list of everyone climbing to the crest of Mount Everest.  But no one ever bothered to note those who got halfway up and turned around for home.

It’s easy to criticize those who choose mediocrity rather than daring, who play safe and avoid risks.  Yet I often live that way too.  In my personal life and church leadership, I sometimes choose the conservative, safe way.  The reason is not so much fear-of-failure as dread-of-criticism.  I’ve refrained from writing to the editor of a local paper on a controversial subject for fear of becoming the focus of criticism.  I knew what was right, but hated to pay the price for exercising courage.  Or, was that caution actually maturity telling me not to squander hard-earned trust on some cause not worth the price?  We’ve all seen foolhardy people who rush in where angels fear to tread, when they should have been quiet and stayed at home. It’s not always easy to know.

We want God to do a work in our midst, but we want Him to leave us alone. We desire seeing people saved and homes united, but not if it means God does a work in our lives and insists on changing us. Work around us, Lord, we seem to say.

So, what is the remedy for this tendency to take the easy way out, to prefer lukewarmness, to remain in the crowd? The answer might surprise some people.

Shamelessness, the antidote for mediocrity

“…and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume…” (Luke 7:38)

Several people in Scripture demonstrated a wonderful shamelessness in Jesus’ presence.  Four men of Capernaum uproofed a house to get a friend into Jesus’ presence (Mark 2). The woman of Bethany wept openly in a hostile surrounding so intent was she on worshiping Jesus (Luke 7).  The woman called Syro-phoenician would not take ‘no’ for an answer as she begged the Lord to help her child (Mark 7).  The blind beggar of Jericho kept calling for Jesus when people tried to silence him until the Lord heard and healed him (Luke 18).  The tax collector of the same city climbed a tree to see the Lord, then publicly confessed his salvation in Jesus’ presence (Luke 19).  Then, there was the blind man, now healed, who grew increasingly bold and fearless in his allegiance to his Lord (John 9). The women of Galilee followed Jesus, contributing to His support and remaining near the cross (Luke 8).

Just as remarkable, from our vantage point, is the number who pulled back from the Master lest they be embarrassed.  Those who would not confess Him “for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13; 9:22; 12:42), and Peter who denied Him in the high priest’s courtyard (Luke 22). The disciples who followed Him from afar (Matthew 26:58.  Joseph and Nicodemus waited until it was safe to go public in their allegiance (John 19:38ff).

We learn a lot about ourselves by what it takes to embarrass us.  Paul says even to speak of what some do is shameful (Ephesians 5:12).  Then he says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (2 Timothy 1:12).

So many church members speak easily of forbidden practices, but “blush to speak His name.”  Something is bad wrong. We should fear silence and shrink from disobedience.

We can choose to live another way

There is no spiritual pill to end the problem of mediocrity.  There is no one-prayer-solves-all for this malady.  It’s an everyday thing, a work, a discipleship, something we decide to do moment by moment.

This involves choices I make day after day, from the moment my eyes open in the morning until I lay my head on the pillow at night.

It starts with acknowledging my shallowness, my love for convenience, my preference for the easy way out, my fear of criticism, my desire for easy answers, and comfortable choices.

I will never completely conquer this, not in this lifetime. So, the prayer for faithfulness and the will to excel for Jesus’ sake must always be kept current.

Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb?  And shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name? 

Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease? While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?  Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign.  Increase my courage, Lord. I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy word.    (Isaac Watts)


Devotional Title: God’s Encouragement in Tough Times (12/29/2020) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage:  Judges 7:8-15

As inhabitants of a fallen world, we oftentimes face heartache, intimidation, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But as children of God, saved and secure in Jesus, we are never beyond the reach of the Lord’s encouragement. Sometimes it comes through Scripture or the timely words of a fellow believer, but God can also use circumstances to raise our spirits and increase our trust in Him.

This is exactly what the Lord did for Gideon, who was undoubtedly feeling anxious about taking just three hundred men to fight against the mighty Midianite army. God strategically positioned Gideon to overhear an enemy soldier recounting a frightful dream about being defeated by the Israelites. This unlikely circumstance assured Gideon that the Lord was at work in this daunting situation and would give them the victory.

God graciously used that incident to strengthen one man’s confidence in Him, and He encourages His children in similar ways today. The unexpected, hopeful circumstances that show up in our darkest moments are not accidents but precious assurance builders from the Lord. When we remember past evidence of His faithfulness, we can boldly face the future, knowing that God is always with us.


Devotional Title: Satan’s Strategy (12/28/2020) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: John 8:43-44

Deception is Satan’s trademark, and it’s nothing new. The very first book of the Bible tells of his trickery with Eve in the Garden of Eden: He planted seeds of doubt about God’s words by asking, “Indeed, has God said … ?” (Gen. 3:1). And this is still the devil’s primary tactic because deception blinds people to the truth.

If you’ve ever accepted a false belief or been intentionally deceived, you know how devastating it is to feel betrayed. Now imagine the utter ruination Satan causes by blinding people to the truth of the gospel. It’s hard to imagine the countless souls who will suffer eternally because of his trickery.

However, the devil doesn’t limit his efforts to preventing faith. He also works diligently to deceive believers by feeding us discouraging thoughts: he insinuates God doesn’t care when we’re going through difficulties and suggests He’s unjust for allowing our suffering. Our enemy also prompts us to dwell on the wrongs done to us or the things God hasn’t provided so we’ll hold grudges, complain, and find fault.

All this robs us of the joy, gratitude, and peace that are ours in Christ. Our first defense against deception is a mind filled with truth from God’s Word so we can discern the lies before they poison our emotions and contaminate our behavior.

Last Week Nightly Devotionals (12/21/2020-12/25/2020) 

Devotional Title Immanuel: God With Us (12/25/2020) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 1:18-25

Throughout human history, heaven was God’s dwelling place, and except for a few personal encounters (as with Abraham, Hagar, and Jacob), He seemed far away to most people. Then the Lord came to the Israelites in a pillar of cloud and fire, and later in the tabernacle and temple. But in time, He would do something new and even more remarkable: He would come to earth and live as a man.

Before this God-man was even born, He was given two names. The first one—Immanuel—tells us who He is: “God with us.” This long-awaited Messiah took on human flesh, walked among men, and suffered the weaknesses of humanity. Yet He also displayed the power of almighty God as He healed the sick, cast out demons, calmed the sea, and raised the dead.

The other name He was given—Jesus—means “The Lord is salvation.” This is what He came to do and why He had to become Immanuel: to save us from sin. Since the Father is immortal, He sent His Son to take on a human body and offer Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for your sins and mine.

What do these two names of Christ mean for you today? Jesus is here, and no sinful habit, painful past, or present struggle is too difficult for Him to overcome.


Devotional Title: The Best Gift (12/24/2020) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage:James 1:16-18

Our heavenly Father showers us with many good gifts, but the one that excels them all is His Son (John 3:16). The eternal Creator of all things wrapped Himself in human flesh to enter time and space as a baby. Although He appeared insignificant to the world, He was the best and most needed gift we have ever received.

Sin has ruined the human race, leaving us under God’s wrath and in a desperate condition. We need forgiveness of sins, deliverance from divine judgment, and the removal of our guilt. Jesus came to do all this for those of us who receive Him through faith.

But God’s gift of His Son doesn’t end there. When we trust in Christ for salvation, we become the Father’s beloved children, who will receive a glorious inheritance in heaven. And in the meantime He provides whatever we need for life and godliness.

Have you by faith received the gift of God’s Son, or have you kept Him as a baby in the manger, to be remembered only on Christmas? If you trust in Him today, you will enjoy the remarkable blessings that are found only in Christ.

Devotional Title: Facing Hardship (12/23/2020) Wednesday 

Paul’s mission trips can be read on one level as travelogues. Luke, the author, takes pains to document every stop, and even the reasoning why one place was entered while another was not. Many fail to realize Acts is ‘The Gospel of Luke, Part II.’ Just as Luke made clear in his gospel, he wants to leave no doubt about facts in The Acts of the Apostles. He goes to lengths to document things with names and places in their historical setting. It was Luke’s way of emphasizing these accounts were not legends, fairy tales or mythology. These things happened to real people in real life.

Acts 20 is an account of Paul’s travels through Macedonia, Greece and back to Asia Minor during the latter part of his third missionary journey. The apostle Paul often referred to the challenges of his ministry. One of those times comes in a passage from Acts 20 as Paul bids farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus. Paul said of his ministry, Acts 20:19 ‘Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:’ ‘Humility of mind’ makes clear Paul took pains to put himself in his place. He was not an apostle to make a name for himself. He confesses to do that required tears and resisting temptation. That is Paul’s humanity; he is speaking for us. We must choke down our pride. We must go out of the way to put ourselves last, and Christ first. Many people, even well-meaning people, will tempt us with compliments and favors, but we must be in a constant attitude of humility.

He speaks of the temptations lying in wait because of ‘the Jews.’ He does not mean all Jews, but those Jews who resisted or corrupted the gospel proclamation. They preceded or followed Paul on his journey’s trying to undo his work at many destinations. Worse, the ‘lying in wait’ carries the sense of them plotting to do physical harm to Paul. It never ceased. It was like an extra burden across Paul’s shoulders. This brings to mind Luke’s account of Jesus in the gospel, Luke 9:22-24 ‘Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.’

The elders of Ephesus do not know what we know, so what follows is poignant, and brings a tear to the eye. Acts 20:22-25 ‘And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.’ Paul would go to Jerusalem, be tried before the Sanhedrin, and appeal to Caesar for justice. Paul sense the end approaches, not just this journey, but of life in this world. He has a Spiritual perspective to comfort him. He is finishing his work with ‘joy,’ because he has finished the course set out before him by the Holy Spirit.

Billy Graham once said being a Christian is hard. Paul’s ministry is a testimony to that. Paul, considered one of the pillars of the early Church, was hounded from pillar to post. Beaten, whipped, slapped and any number of other trials were his lot, but Paul never wavered in his faith and his mission in the name of Jesus.

We face growing persecution today. More and more of us realize we are on the leading edge of things that are going to get far worse. We need the witness of Paul to prepare us. Being Christian means expecting hardship, because it is in the endurance of trial we glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus. When we have our weak moments, and we will, remember Jesus on the Cross enduring His trial for us. Remember Paul and the martyrs of the Church sacrificing themselves to the glory of God.

By David Anthony 


Article Title: “Enmity between thee [the Serpent] and the woman.” (12/22/2020) Tuesday 

Please enjoy The Gospel as found in Rev. Dr. John Gill’s writings concerning the original “Fall.” He is a famous English Baptist theologian of a by-gone era. This is a service of the https://www.invertedchristian.com/ A ministry of The Duke Consulting Group drrogerdduke.com

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman[1]

Between whom there had been so much familiarity, not only while they had the preceding discourse together, but before; for it is conjectured by some, that she took a particular liking to that creature, and was delighted with it, and laid it perhaps in her bosom, adorned her neck with its windings, or made it a bracelet for her arms; and being a peculiar favourite, the devil made choice of it as his instrument to deceive her; but now being beguiled hereby, she conceived an antipathy against it, and which is become natural between the serpent and man; man abhors the sight of a serpent, and the serpent the sight of man; and the spittle of a man and the gall of a serpent are poison to each other; and this antipathy is observed to be stronger in the female sex. . . .

And between thy seed and her seed

The posterity of Eve, mankind, and the production of serpents, between whom the antipathy still continues, and mystically the evil angels and also wicked men called serpents; and a generation of vipers on the one hand, and the people of God on the other, the seed of the church; the latter of which are hated and persecuted by the former, and so it has been ever since this affair happened: and especially by the seed of the woman may be meant the Messiah; the word “seed” sometimes signifying a single person, Genesis 4:25 and particularly Christ, Galatians 3:16 and he may with great propriety be so called, because he was made of a woman and not begotten by man; and who assumed not an human person, but an human nature, which is called the “holy thing” and the “seed of Abraham” as here the “seed of the woman” as well as it expresses the truth of his incarnation and the reality of his being man. . . .

It shall bruise thy head

The head of a serpent creeping on the ground is easily crushed and bruised, of which it is sensible, and therefore it is careful to hide and cover it. In [a prophetic] sense . . . the Messiah, the eminent seed of the woman, should bruise the head of the old serpent the devil, that is, destroy him and all his principalities and powers, break and confound all his schemes, and ruin all his works, crush his whole empire, strip him of his authority and sovereignty, and particularly of his power over death, and his tyranny over the bodies and souls of men; all which was done by Christ, when he became incarnate and suffered and died, Hebrews 2:14

And thou shall bruise his heel

The heel of a man being what the serpent can most easily come at, as at the heels of horses which it bites, Genesis 49:17 and which agrees with that insidious creature . . . as it refers to the devil, may relate to the persecutions of the members of Christ on earth, instigated by Satan, or to some slight trouble he should receive from him in the days of his flesh, by his temptations in the wilderness, and agony with him in the garden; or rather by the heel of Christ is meant his human nature, which is his inferior and lowest nature, and who was in it frequently exposed to the insults, temptations, and persecutions of Satan, and was at last brought to a painful and accursed death. . . .

Your Blog Poster’s Bio:

Roger D. Duke retired early from Baptist College of Health Sciences after eighteen years of classroom teaching ministry. He is now a free-lance writer. Duke received his doctorate from The University of the South at Sewanee. Subsequently he has also taught at various colleges and graduate schools. He has authored or contributed to volumes on John Albert Broadus, John Bunyan, William Carey, Basil Manley, Jr., and John Paul II. He blogs at https://www.invertedchristian.com/

[1]John Gill, “Genesis 3:15,” John Gill’s Exposition of the Old & New Testament, Vol. I (London: Mathews & Leigh, 1809; reprint, Paris, AR.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989), 27ff. (page citations are to the reprint edition).

Devotional Title: Our Great High Priest (12/21/2020) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 7:23-28

When you feel convicted about a particular sin, how do you react? Do you mourn with regret for days? Many Christians act as though God’s desire is for them to continually wallow in guilt, but this could not be further from the truth.

We saw yesterday that the Old Testament sacrifices had to be repeated over and over. Why? Because those animal offerings were only a temporary substitute for the perfect sacrifice God required. The New Testament tells us that the once-for-all, fully sufficient, substitutionary atonement has been accomplished—it took place when God’s own Son died on the cross in our place. As the hymn lyrics state, Jesus truly “paid it all.”

In the old system, a high priest took an animal into the temple and offered it as a sacrifice to God on behalf of the sinner. Christ, however, entered heaven itself and presented His life to the Father as the perfect atoning sacrifice (Heb. 9:13-14).

This means that the work of forgiveness is done. If you are in Christ, then His sacrifice has already paid for your sin. So, when the Holy Spirit brings conviction, address the sin and move on. Do not cling to burden of unforgiveness that Jesus has lifted from your shoulders.


Last Nightly Week Devotionals (12/14/2020-12/18/2020) 

Devotional Title : Being a Godly Influence (12/18/2020) Friday 

Key Bible Chapter: Daniel 1

You don’t have to be prominent in the world’s eyes to be an influential person. Through your example and testimony, you can help others understand who Jesus Christ is and what it looks like to live for Him.

Scripture includes many examples of righteous men and women who were influential in their generation. One of them was Daniel, who was a godly influence not only on his friends but also on kings. Even as a youth, he was committed to obeying God’s law. Consequently, when Daniel was offered food from the Babylonian king’s table, he requested vegetarian meals instead, to comply with Jewish dietary restrictions. His commitment to the Lord outweighed any fear of reprisal for rejecting the royal provisions. And God protected Daniel by giving him favor with his overseer.

Although most of us won’t have an opportunity to influence global leaders, our example can impact a workplace, neighborhood, home, or future generations. As was true of Daniel, a godly example is rooted in obedience to Scripture because it’s the source of wisdom. In a world that is tossed about by upheaval, fear, and uncertainty, our confidence in the Lord stands out and influences those around us.

Devotional Title: “Praying in the Holy Ghost” (12/17/2020)  Thursday 

Please enjoy “The Gospel” from Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening Devotionals.” He is a famous English Baptist Pastor-Theologian from a by-gone era. This is a service of the https://www.invertedchristian.com/ A ministry of The Duke Consulting Group drrogerdduke.com

October 8 AM Morning

“Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught.”-Luke 5:4

We learn from this narrative, the necessity of human agency. The draught of fishes was miraculous, yet neither the fisherman nor his boat, nor his fishing tackle were ignored; but all were used to take the fishes. So in the saving of souls, God worketh by means; and while the present economy of grace shall stand, God will be pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. When God worketh without instruments, doubtless He is glorified; but He hath Himself selected the plan of instrumentality as being that by which He is most magnified in the earth. Means of themselves are utterly unavailing. “Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing.” What was the reason of this? Were they not fishermen plying their special calling? Verily, they were no raw hands; they understood the work. Had they gone about the toil unskillfully? No. Had they lacked industry? No, they had toiled. Had they lacked perseverance? No, they had toiled all the night. Was there a deficiency of fish in the sea? Certainly not, for as soon as the Master came, they swam to the net in shoals. What, then, is the reason? Is it because there is no power in the means of themselves apart from the presence of Jesus? “Without Him we can do nothing.” But with Christ we can do all things. Christ’s presence confers success. Jesus sat in Peter’s boat, and His will, by a mysterious influence, drew the fish to the net. When Jesus is lifted up in His Church, His presence is the Church’s power-the shout of a king is in the midst of her. “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” Let us go out this morning on our work of soul fishing, looking up in faith, and around us in solemn anxiety. Let us toil till night comes, and we shall not labour in vain, for He who bids us let down the net, will fill it with fishes.

 October 8 PM Evening

“Praying in the Holy Ghost.”-Jude 20

Mark the grand characteristic of true prayer-“In the Holy Ghost.” The seed of acceptable devotion must come from heaven’s storehouse. Only the prayer which comes from God can go to God. We must shoot the Lord’s arrows back to Him. That desire which He writes upon our heart will move His heart and bring down a blessing, but the desires of the flesh have no power with Him.

Praying in the Holy Ghost is praying in fervency. Cold prayers ask the Lord not to hear them. Those who do not plead with fervency, plead not at all. As well speak of lukewarm fire as of lukewarm prayer-it is essential that it be red hot. It is praying perseveringly. The true suppliant gathers force as he proceeds and grows more fervent when God delays answering. The longer the gate is closed, the more vehemently does he use the knocker, and the longer the angel lingers the more resolved is he that he will never let him go without the blessing. Beautiful in God’s sight is tearful, agonizing, unconquerable importunity. It means praying humbly, for the Holy Spirit never puffs us up with pride. It is His office to convince of sin, and so to bow us down in contrition and brokenness of spirit. We shall never sing Gloria in excelsis except we pray to God De profundis: out of the depths must we cry, or we shall never behold glory in the highest. It is loving prayer. Prayer should be perfumed with love, saturated with love-love to our fellow saints, and love to Christ. Moreover, it must be a prayer full of faith. A man prevails only as he believes. The Holy Spirit is the author of faith, and strengthens it, so that we pray believing God’s promise. O that this blessed combination of excellent graces, priceless and sweet as the spices of the merchant, might be fragrant within us because the Holy Ghost is in our hearts! Most blessed Comforter, exert Thy mighty power within us, helping our infirmities in prayer.

Your Blog Poster’s Bio:

By Roger D. Duke

He is a retired early from Baptist College of Health Sciences after eighteen years of classroom teaching ministry. He is now a free-lance writer. Duke received his doctorate from The University of the South at Sewanee. Subsequently he has also taught at various colleges and graduate schools. He has authored or contributed to volumes on John Albert Broadus, John Bunyan, William Carey, Basil Manley, Jr., and John Paul II. He blogs at https://www.invertedc

Devotional Title: Listening Through Restlessness (12/16/2020) Wednesday 

 
Key Bible Passage: Esther 6:1-11
 
When we’re too preoccupied to hear God’s voice, He may get our attention by giving us a restless spirit. The book of Esther gives us a wonderful example of this.
 
In the sixth chapter, we see that King Ahasuerus “could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king” (Est. 6:1). As a result, Ahasuerus became aware of an assassination plot that had been foiled by a man named Mordecai. Filled with gratitude for this act of service, he made plans to honor him.
 
What Ahasuerus could not have known, though, is that Haman, one of the royal advisors, was plotting to hang Mordecai and exterminate the Jewish population (Est. 5:14). As a result of the king’s intervention, Mordecai and the rest of the Jews were saved.
 
Now, what started this process? A restless night. The king didn’t know why he couldn’t sleep, but we know: God was trying to get his attention. 
 
How often has this happened to you? You go about your life, but a restlessness seems to hang over you. In such moments, ask, “Lord, what is it You want to tell me?” You’ll discover that God can speak to you in your unrest.

Devotional Title: Spiritual Leadership (12/15/2020) Tuesday 

A pastor was once asked whether he wanted to be spiritual leader of the congregation he ministered to. It sounds like a simple question, and it is, if both the person asking it, and the person answering, are spiritually discerning.
 
The expression ‘spiritual leadership’ does not need an answer; it is the answer. Spiritual leaders are led by the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual leaders do not lead the way they think they should; they lead by what the Spirit commands them.
 
Anyone who says they have a handle on this might want to put up their guard. We are good deciding what we want is what God wants. We look back after the wheels come off, and realize we were like the proverbial bull in the china shop. We made a lot of racket and a big mess, but it was not what God intended. Guilty. 
 
However, sometimes God’s intentions are for us to shake the complacent out of their slumber. Sometimes God’s intentions are that we break the eggs to make the omelet. Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers as a symbolic gesture announcing judgment upon the Temple and priesthood come to mind. I think of experiences as coach where a team was smug about an upcoming game and needed a ‘wake up.’ They got one. 
 
We throw up our hands. ‘Well, which is it? Are we supposed to be paralyzed by the fear we might not be doing God’s will, or are we to rush to conclusions, confident we are right because we are doing it in the name of God?’ 
 
Answering the former question, Jesus was sweating blood the night of His arrest. He knew the crucifixion was coming. He even asked God, if it was God’s will, to lift the burden off him. Nevertheless, Luke 22:42 ‘Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.’ If we see a personal price to be paid for our action, a necessary sacrifice on our behalf, then we are on the right track.
 
Answering the latter question, I reflect upon Simon Magus who thought he could buy God’s favor, and by extension favor for himself in this world. If we do something expecting a reward, even if we claim to be doing it in the Lord’s name, then we might need to step back and examine our motives whether we are listening to the Holy Spirit, or our pride.
 
Spiritual leadership is not just for leaders, the big dogs in the Church. All believers need to be Spiritual leaders in the sense they submit themselves to the Spirit’s direction in their life of faith. That guards against pride, and  promotes humility. It opens the door for God’s grace to work in and through us. 
 
Romans 8:13-14 ‘For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’ Isaiah 40:11 ‘He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.’ Psalms 27:11 ‘Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.’
 
There are plenty more citations, but the common theme is not leading by our power and wit, rather being led by God. That takes Spiritual discipline and prayer. Being human, we will not be perfect in our application of submission to the Spirit’s leadership, but our constant goal is to conform ourselves to the Spirit’s leadership, even if at the cost of ourselves. 
 
Romans 12:1-2 ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
 
By David Anthony 
 

Devotional Title: Reassurance About Judgment

Key Bible Study: Corinthians 5:6-10
 
The Bible describes two kinds of judgments—one for those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ and one for those who do. For believers, judgment is an evaluation of the person’s life. While that may sound alarming, we can find comfort in these truths about our judge:
 
Identity. According to John 5:22, our judge will be Jesus. We can trust the One who laid down His life for our sake, brought us into God’s family, speaks to the Father on our behalf, and intercedes for us faithfully.
 
Character. Christ’s holy nature ensures that He will be fair. His omniscience means He can’t make decisions based on inadequate or faulty information. And His character is perfect, so He won’t make mistakes or treat certain people more favorably than others.
 
Purpose. Jesus will evaluate our life according to what we’ve done on earth (2 Corinthians 5:10). But because He already bore the punishment for our sin at the cross, our judgment has to do with rewards, not chastisement (1 Peter 2:24).
 
Christians can look forward to a new body that will never experience pain or death. What’s more, we will enjoy Jesus’ presence forever (Psalm 16:11; John 14:3). We do not have to fear judgment, because we can trust our Judge and His intentions.

Devotional Title : God’s Saving Initiative (12/10/2020) 

 
Key Bible Passage: Acts 9:1-9
 
In other religions, worshippers pursue their god. In Christianity, however, it’s God who takes the initiative. This is obvious in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (later known as Paul). Far from seeking the Messiah, the future apostle was actually persecuting Jesus by hunting and imprisoning Christians. The Lord was the one who sought Paul, opened his mind to believe, and transformed his life forever.
 
All throughout the Word of God, we see His active pursuit of sinners. Consider Adam and Eve, who, instead of seeking the Lord for forgiveness of their sin, tried to hide from Him in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:8-21 reveals that it was God who called out to them—He promised a redeemer through the woman’s offspring and covered the shame of their guilt with animal skins (which was also the first blood sacrifice).
 
Similarly, when Christ came to earth, He’s the one who took the initiative in choosing disciples. In fact, the same can be said about the Lord drawing every one of us who has trusted in Him for salvation (John 15:16). And now the Savior has allowed us to participate in His pursuit of sinners by proclaiming the gospel and imploring people to believe and be saved. Are you living out that calling?
 

Devotional Title: Removing The Bounds (12/09/2020) Wednesday 

God is presenting evidence to justify His judgment on Israel when He said, Hosea 5:10 ‘The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.’ God had set the boundaries of the tribes of Israel. Each family’s inheritance in the land had been ordained by God. No man was to dare to presume to change those boundaries by taking it upon themselves to give to someone else something that was not theirs to give. God had given it.
 
Moving boundaries and giving away what was not theirs to give was a symptom of the deeper problem. They are corrupt and they presume to glorify themselves by changing God’s decrees.
 
Hosea 5:11 ‘Ephraim isoppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.’ “Ephraim’ was another name for the Kingdom of Israel. The Kingdom is oppressed and broken in judgment. ‘Walked after the commandment’ does not mean they are following the Ten Commandments, but they are chasing after the commands of men, not God. Ephraim suffers under leadership unwilling to be obedient to God’s decrees.
 
Hosea 5:12 ‘Therefore willI be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.’ Being a moth to Ephraim does not seem  like such a bad judgment, but Jesus said, Matthew 6:19 ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:’ The moth flutters and seems harmless all the while slowly consuming and destroying. The southern Kingdom of Judah might have been tempted to gloat over the judgment on Ephraim, but they are just as corrupt and disobedient. God will be ‘rottenness’ to Judah. They will decay in the sense of a dead body decaying in the ground.
 
I reflect on the materialism of many of our leaders. The solution to every problem is money and possessions. The solution is to seize from one and give to another. That only increases the injustice and oppression. There was a time not too long ago a $trillion federal budget was unthinkable. Spending bills larger than that are now passed without blinking.
 
The excuse given is the spending is to correct injustices in our system and increase fairness. An injustice can never be just. Fairness can never be achieved by being unfair. Unjustly moving boundaries set by God will never accomplish equity.
 
Another excuse is it is charity. Isn’t it funny how easy it is to be charitable with someone else’s money? There is no personal sacrifice. As a matter of fact, it is a means to increase the power and wealth of the one spending other people’s money. That is what the princes of Israel and Judah did in their time, and God judged both Kingdoms out of existence.
 
By David Anthony 
 

Devotional Title:God Alone Deserves Worship (12/08/2020) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: James 4:4-8

For us, jealousy isn’t attractive, but for God, it’s a holy attribute. God is unhappy when we worship anyone besides Him. Only He deserves our praise.

When reading in the Old Testament, we may not understand why people would bow before idols—surely they didn’t think that these objects were living and powerful. But we make a similar mistake, placing too high a value on money, relationships, power, and the like. Though not bad in themselves, such things can become the focus of our worship. That’s why the Father is jealous for our heart.

There are two reasons God won’t tolerate our misplaced devotion. First, He deserves the glory. And second, there is nothing better for us than His love. Praising Him above all else is actually in our own best interest. Therefore, when our heart doesn’t belong solely to Christ, He will use discipline and reminders so we will prioritize Him.

This week, notice where you spend your time and money and what dominates your thoughts. Even if your pursuits seem good on the surface, pray about what might be an idol in your life. Confess any misplaced affection, and ask the Lord for help in making Him the object of your devotion.

Devotional Title: God Is Trustworthy(12/7/2020) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 10:29-31
 
As Christians, we put our trust in God’s unending divine love. But some days are harder than others, and we need to be reminded of the Lord’s character. We can trust Him because:
 
He is perfect in wisdom. God sees the big picture and knows every detail, so He has more wisdom than we do. He promises to make our paths straight when we trust His knowledge (Prov. 3:5-6). From our limited perspective, we sometimes take action that’s equivalent to telling God, “I think You forgot something.” Too late, we discover that our own solution was the wrong choice—all because we didn’t trust His infinite wisdom.
He is absolutely sovereign. We can’t see the future, but we can trust the One who is in control of everything. Jesus told His disciples that not even a sparrow would fall without God’s consent (Matt. 10:29). He also told Pilate, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). Even that prominent Roman official was powerless to order the crucifixion without the Father’s approval.
God has always been sovereign over all things—from a little bird’s safety to the extraordinary events at the cross. So peace will accompany the realization that our Father has perfect love, infinite wisdom, and omnipotence. When you understand who He is, you won’t feel the need to question His motives.

Devotional Title: The Price of Holiness (12/04/2020) Friday 

Enemies of Christianity often take scripture out of context to build up a self-serving picture of Christians being intolerant and hateful. Deuteronomy 20 includes instructions about going to war. On the one hand, there are instructions for making war on foreign nations like Edom, Moab, Ammon and Aram. On the other hand, God gives sobering instructions about making war on the people living in Canaan.
 
Before we look at those instructions, we must remind ourselves of God’s command to Israel. The following verse comes in a section with instructions about cleanliness and purity. Leviticus 11:45 ‘For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I amholy.’ God had delivered them from bondage and slavery in Egypt. He had freed them. Left unspoken, but understood, is the command do not do anything that will lead back into slavery and bondage. Why? Because they were to be as holy as God is.
 
The Hebrew word for holiness means sacred, saintly or Godly. If the command is to be as holy as God, then it is an absolute standard which does not allow compromise with the things and ways of the world.
 
Then we go to, Deuteronomy 20:16-17 ‘But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:’ God had promised the land of Canaan to the Israelites as their inheritance. It was to belong to Israel because God said so, period. The Israelites were not to compromise their holiness as God’s chosen people by allowing the Canaanites to remain in the land.
 
It is a fearful decree, but God gives His reason for it. Deuteronomy 20:18 ‘That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.’ Just as fearful as God’s decree is His accusation against Israel. If they leave the Canaanites in the land, the Israelites will not remain holy. They will eventually compromise and live down to the standards of idolators and heathens.
 
‘Oh, that is so intolerant and hateful! The God of the Jews does not believe in inclusiveness and diversity. He is not multicultural.’ No, God is not. God is God. God is holy. The world has no place defining what God is or is not; God defines Himself. Who do people think they are they can presume to dictate to God who He is?
 
What about the Canaanites? What made them unholy? Idolatry, worship of false gods. Some might say that is not so bad. Yes, it is. The worship of the false gods was full of abominations. Canaanites sacrificed their own children on fires to false gods. Children, male and female, were forced to serve as prostitutes in the temples to false gods. Wives were required to serve in temples as prostitutes from time to time. Worship of false gods took place in groves and high places involving sexual promiscuity and abominations including incest, homosexuality and bestiality. It was all an assault on God’s image of Himself as the Bridegroom in a covenant relationship with His people. How can marriage and family survive to witnesses to the holiness of God in such an environment?
 
What happened? The Israelites did not obey. They left many of the Canaanites in the land. The consequences can be read in the Book of Judges as well as 1 and 2 Kings. The Israelites compromise their holiness again and again; and God is forced to judge them again and again. It is not His fault. His grace was to tell them what He expected of them, and how to go about meetings His expectations. They did not obey God. They did not seek holiness.
 
All of it was meant to convict mankind of our hopeless condition as sinners. We cannot be holy as God is no matter how hard we try. If we are to be made holy, then God is going to have to do it for us. He has done that by the Blood of the Son of God shed on the Cross for our sakes. He has done that by sending us the person of the Holy Spirit to equip us to strive to lead lives of holiness.
 
The price of holiness is obedience to the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit which gives us the power to discern God’s holiness through His Word, scripture. Believing Christians understand that challenge, and it humbles us every day. Unbelievers better understand it if they know what is good for them. That is not hateful. That is God’s grace begging them to repent, and let Him make them holy as He intends them to be.
 
By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: God Is Always With Us (12/3/2020) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Jeremiah 1:1-10
 
When was the last time you felt the presence of God in your life? We all long to experience Him abiding with us personally and intimately, and when we can’t sense His closeness, we may think something is wrong in our relationship. But that’s not necessarily true.
 
In the Old Testament, the Lord appeared to prophets like Moses, Jeremiah, and Isaiah to give them His messages for the people. Today, the revelation of God is available to us in His written Word. In addition, believers in Jesus Christ have also been indwelt by the Comforter—God the Holy Spirit is always with us, though we’re not usually aware of Him in an overt way. Sometimes we sense His presence to a greater or lesser degree, but this is not something we can orchestrate or manipulate.
 
Remember that we are called to walk by faith, not by experience. The Lord has assured us He will be with us always even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). So on those days when you can’t sense His presence, try to rely on this truth. It will sustain you with strength to serve, endurance for hardship, and comfort in suffering.
 
 

Devotional Title: Hearts Purified By Faith (12/02/2020) Wednesday 

Paul and Barnabas have just returned to Antioch from Paul’s first missionary journey. During that journey, they had discovered certain people who came to be called Judaizers saying Gentile converts had to obey all the laws taught by Moses. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, his earliest epistle, included refutations of the claims of the Judaizers.
 
Now back in Antioch, they find similar Judaizers making trouble. It is decided Paul and Barnabas will lead a delegation to the Jerusalem congregation to settle the matter. By this time, the Jerusalem Church had come to carry some authority regarding settlement of such questions.
 
That is the background to Peter standing up to speak during this discussion. I can only imagine the moment with Paul and Peter present with James, the brother of Jesus Christ, the acknowledged head of the Jerusalem Church. What an assembly! Nevertheless, certain pharisees, not all, defend the claims of the Judaizers. They demand circumcision for Gentiles.
 
Acts 15:7-11 ‘And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men andbrethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
 
Paul normally gets most of the credit for talking about faith and grace, yet here is Peter defending both principles. Peter made clear God gave the Holy Ghost to Jew and Gentiles alike, and it had nothing to do with what either did or did not do. God purified their hearts by their faith. That is the only standard. Even the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk said so. Habakkuk 2:4 ‘Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.’ Was a pharisee going to assert a prophet they claimed as their own was wrong?
 
Not only that, Peter says believers come to faith ‘through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ That grace was shown on the Cross where Jesus shed His atoning Blood to redeem all those who pledged faith in Him as Messiah. Faith is a matter of the heart being turned to God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Believing does not depend upon what we do, but what God has done for us by the Blood of the Son.
 
By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Ministers of Comfort (12/01/2020) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 72:12-14

During hard seasons or times of disaster—whether natural or man-made, national or local—we are called to show kindness. True compassion tries to understand people’s pain, but it also provides practical help. So, how we can express care and concern for others?

First, remember we have the wonderful privilege of prayer anytime, anywhere. As soon as word of a tragedy reaches you, lift up the victims, rescue workers, and others involved. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in petitioning God for protection, provision, comfort, awareness of His presence, and whatever else He deems fitting (Rom. 8:26).

Second, labor and donations of money, food, clothing, or household goods are usually high priority. So donations of time and resources are helpful (after wisely consulting trusted sources about what’s needed). You also can express compassion with words of comfort, a warm embrace, or a listening ear. Through this kind of love, the world will recognize the true Light—Jesus Christ, who brings good news, binds up the brokenhearted, and comforts all who mourn (Isa. 61:1-2).

We should notice the needs around us and reach out with Christ’s love. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal ways to pray for those around you. Your concern can have a profound impact.

 

Also, I came across this poem, I would love to share with you guys 

Poem Title: What Will You Do with Jesus? 

By A.B. Simpson (1843-1919) 

 

Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall,

Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all; 

Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call? 

What will you do with Jesus 

 

What will you do with Jesus? 

Neutral you cannot be; 

Some day your heart will be asking, 

“What will He do with me?” 

 

Jesus is standing on trial still, 

You can be false to Him if you will, 

You can be faithful through good or ill: 

What will you do with Jesus? 

 

Will you evade him as Pilate tried? 

Or will you choose Him, whate’er betide? 

Vainly you struggle from Him to hide; 

What will you do with Jesus? 

 

Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny? 

Or will you scorn from His foes to fly, 

Daring for Jesus to live or die? 

What will you do with Jesus? 

 

“Jesus, I give Thee my Heart today! 

Jesus, I’ll follow Thee all the way, 

Gladly obeying Thee!”  will you say: 

“This I will do with Jesus!” 

 

Devotional Title: The Need for a Sacrifice (11/30/2020) Monday

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 10:1-4

Have you ever read about sacrifice in the Old Testament and wondered what it was for? The only payment for sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and the Lord graciously allowed animals to be offered as a substitute for human lives. So people regularly brought sacrifices to God as atonement. However, it was only a temporary solution and had to be repeated often.

In order for mankind to be eternally freed from the guilt of sin, God required that the once-for-all sacrifice had to be completely pure (Lev. 22:20). What’s more, it could not be an animal. After all, the guilt belonged to man; therefore, the world was in need of a perfect and sinless person to be offered.

What an impossible situation: Man was responsible to pay the price, but God alone was capable of sinlessness. The only possible solution was for Jesus Christ—who was wholly God and wholly man—to offer His life on our behalf. Unlike the blood of bulls and lambs, Christ’s blood was a fully sufficient one-time payment for all sin.

This is why we say that we’re saved by the blood of Christ. Jesus did what we could not—He set us free from our sins. Consider the immensity of the sacrifice He made on your behalf. Have you thanked Him lately?


Devotionals (11/23/2020-11/28/2020)

Devotional Title: The Grace of Gratitude (11/26/2020) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 92:1 

The Pilgrim Fathers who landed at Plymouth in America in 1620 knew nothing of the bountiful prosperity that so many people enjoy today. 

During that first long winter, seven times as many graves were made for the dead as homes were built for the living. Seed, imported from England, failed to grow, and a ship that was to bring food and relief brought thirty-five more mouths to feed, but not an ounce of provisions. They caught fish, hunted wild fowl and venison. They had a little English meal and some Indian corn. 

Yet their lives were marked by a spirit of constant thankfulness. On one occasion William Brewster, rising from a scanty Plymouth dinner of clams and water, gave thanks to God “for the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand.” 

According to today’s standards, they had little; but they possessed a sense of great gratitude. Gratitude is one of the greatest Christian graces; ingratitude, one of the most vicious sins. Ask God to open your eyes to all the blessings. He has bestowed on you, and to give you a fresh spirit of gratitude–not just at this season of the year, but always. 

Devotional Title: Thankful In Prayer (11/25/2020) Weds 

Key Bible Passages: Colossians 4:2 

Prayer isn’t just asking God for something we want.  Prayer should also include confession of sin and praise to God for who He is and what He has done for us. 

But prayer should have an additional element, and that is thanksgiving. Repeatedly the Bible commands us to give thanks. The psalmist said, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 107:1). Jesus only distributed the bread He had miraculously provided for the crowds after “[He] gave thanks” (Matthew 15:36). At the Last Supper with His disciples, before facing the horror of the Cross, Jesus “gave thanks” (Luke 22:17, 19). 

It’s easy to be thankful when God blesses us with something good-swift recovery from an illness, for example, or an advancement at work. But the Bible says we should “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

Thankfulness drives away a sour or prideful spirit. Make it part of your prayers every day. 

By Billy Graham 

Editor: Jonathan Ritter (made edits from NIV to KJV) 

Devotional Title: Reasons to Trust (11/24/2020) Tuesday 

Key Bible  Passages: Proverbs 3:5-6
 
It’s easy to trust God when life is pleasant. In difficult times, though, it can be challenging. Yet that’s exactly what God tells us to do: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you” (Psalm 50:15).
 
We can trust the Lord for several reasons. One is because of His love for us. We see it clearly demonstrated through the Father’s character, Jesus’ atoning death, and our adoption as a child of God.
 
Another reason we can rely on Him is His infinite wisdom (Rom. 11:33). He always knows what is best for us. We don’t understand all that goes into God’s plan—compared to the full, clear view He has of our life, we see just part of the picture. So, what He chooses for us may not always make sense.
 
We can also depend on God because He is sovereign. Remember that our Father can accomplish whatever He—in His wisdom and love—chooses to do. He is in complete control of all things; even Satan must get His permission before taking action (Job 1:9-12).
 
We understandably don’t like adversity and may feel tempted to ask, “Why, Lord?” Yet by recognizing that God acts in love, wisdom, and sovereignty, we can know that He’s permitted the situation and has our long-term best in mind. So we can replace “Why?” with gratitude and trust.

Devotional Title : Inheriting God’s Promises (11/23/2020) Monday

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 6:11-12
 
In the Bible, God made many promises because He loves to bless His children. But that doesn’t mean such blessings automatically belong to us. How can we claim His promises and petition Him with confidence? To test the needs we bring to the Lord, here are several questions to ask ourselves:
 
When I request that God keep this promise, do I ask with a spirit of submission?
 
Can God perform this request without harming another person or interfering with His will in someone else’s life?
 
Does the Holy Spirit bear witness to my spirit that God is pleased with my petition?
 
Will God be honored by fulfilling this promise?
 
Does my request contradict the Word of God in some way?
 
If the Lord fulfills this promise, will it serve to further my spiritual growth?
 
Once we have answered these questions, inheriting God’s promises depends upon three things. First, we need faith. Our Father wants to reward those who trust Him (Gen. 15:6; Heb. 11:6). Second, we must be obedient to God’s will for us—we won’t attain His best when we knowingly disobey. And third, we need patience to wait for His perfect timing. God’s promises are worth the wait, considering the blessings He longs to give us.

Devotionals (11/16/2020-11/21/2020)

Devotional Title: Men of like Passions (11/20/2020) Friday

The Apostle Paul and his companion Barnabas are traveling through Asia minor. In a town called Lystra, they come across a man who had not been able to walk since birth. Paul looks at the man commanding him to stand up. The man jumps, not stands, and starts walking.

Acts 14:11 ‘And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.’ The people mistake Paul and Barnabas for gods. The people pour it on. Acts 14:12-13 ‘And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.’

Jupiter (Zeus) was the chief god of the Greek pantheon. Mercury was the messenger god. The irony is they make Paul’s companion Barnabas out to be the big cheese while Paul is just the guy talking. A pagan priest now comes out preparing to do a blood sacrifice in honor of Paul and Barnabas to show honor to them as gods. This is not what Paul anticipated. Things are getting out of hand.

Acts 14:14 ‘Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,’ Tearing a robe was a big deal. It was the most precious article of clothing a person had. Tearing it sent a message about grief and mourning. Paul and Barnabas run screaming through the crowd doing this. They are beside themselves, heartbroken. The crowd is getting it all wrong.

Acts 14:15 ‘And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:’ Worshipping anyone other than God Almighty is a ‘vanity’ meaning pointless, because there is nothing to worship. It is just thin air.

However, the thought came to me when Paul and Barnabas called the men of Lystra ‘men of like passions’ with them; they were getting to a deeper truth. Who are we really worshipping when we create false gods and elaborate rituals to go along with them? Did you notice the use of the word ‘we’ in the last sentence?

False worship and false gods are only masks for pride and self-worship. We create what we want to satisfy us and glorify us. Sweep all the hocus pocus out of the way, and we find we have put ourselves on a pedestal to worship. Acts 14:16 ‘Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.’ God has allowed this to happen. He has allowed, and continues to allow, men to walk in ways of their own making, because God knows they will fail, and their failure will only make Him stand out even more as the God of glory and majesty He is.

It is happening again. Men are running away with themselves into false belief and false worship. They dress it up with philosophy or ideology, or they have now come to the point men now demand our worship. Remember what that led to in the past century. It is 100% certain men who worship themselves; and what they do will come to a bad end. There is no need to debate; they always have.

In the last century man was elevated by worldly political doctrines to a place of worship. God was forgotten. Hundreds of millions died in wars. Hundreds of millions more have died from abortion, sacrifices on the pagan altar of human worship.

We are all men of like passions, and we better humble ourselves before the one true God before we call the judgment down upon ourselves which we demonstrate we deserve.

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title : A Life of Integrity (11/19/2020) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 15:1-5

David’s psalms often describe the life of integrity believers should have. Today’s passage shows us that God values our righteousness and honesty. To develop and maintain a lifestyle that pleases Him, we must …

Formulate our beliefs on the basis of Scripture. The Bible explains our need for a Savior, Christ’s death for our sin, and the Father’s free gift of eternal life. Once we believe these foundational Christian truths, our priorities should flow from our position as God’s adopted children.

Submit to Christ’s lordship. Jesus tells us to deny ourselves and follow Him (Mark 8:34). Commitment to the Savior will help us stand against temptation and choose righteousness.

Build relationships with individuals who value godly living. The influence of other Christians strengthens us in our dedication and obedience to the Lord.

Acknowledge missteps. Everyone makes mistakes. But when we do, we should confess our sin to God and turn away from the wrong behavior (1 John 1:9).

Living a life of integrity isn’t always easy. But our Father, who understands our struggles, sent His Spirit to guide us toward godliness. Let’s ask Him to help us become more like the person described in Psalm 15.

Night Devotional Title: Day of Hope (11/18/2020) Wednesday 

When we think of Old Testament prophets, we usually mean the greater prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. We also think of some of the more well-known minor prophets like Daniel, Hosea, Zechariah or Malachi. Most of the other minor prophets might get a scripture citation here or there, but little else.

I constantly refer to the first chapter of Zephaniah which is a prophecy of judgment and the Great Day of the Lord. However, like all prophets, both great and small, Zephaniah does not just prophesy judgment. He also prophesies restoration and the hope of salvation. That is a general principle in Old Testament prophecy. Judgment is never mentioned unless it is followed by deliverance, salvation. The judgment is a means to God’s end of our eternal redemption.

We think of Jesus the week after His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The whole week Jesus was teaching and preaching, and His teaching and preaching were about judgment that was coming. What happened at the end of the week? Jesus was on the Cross giving His precious Blood to redeem men from their sin. Jesus was bringing salvation at the end, and it was confirmed by the empty tomb on the third day.

Sure enough, after God gives Zephaniah fearful words of judgment, He has Zephaniah end with words of a future hope. Salvation was coming someday out of the ashes of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. God was not going to leave those He has chosen under judgment. God is grace, and His grace is to redeem all those He has chosen. God always ends His thoughts with salvation.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Space does not allow, but Zephaniah’s words uttered in God’s name speak to a distant day far past his time. They speak to a day far past Jesus’ day, but they somehow are tied up with what Jesus accomplished in His earthly ministry. The Day of Hope is yet to come when God will finally live among us as our King and Savior.

When? That does not matter. We live each day as though it was our last. We wait upon the Lord constantly preparing ourselves for that coming Day of Hope.

By David Anthony

 Night Devotional Title: A Divine Perspective for Prayer (11/17/2020) Tuesday 

Ephesians 1:15-23

Scripture says to pray about everything (Phil. 4:6), but in bringing our petitions, it’s also important to maintain a divine perspective. Paul, for example, kept God’s character in the forefront of his thinking and aligned his requests with the Lord’s desires. In today’s passage, the apostle prayed that we would know God in three specific areas.

The hope of His calling (Eph. 1:18). Salvation gives us eternal hope based not on external conditions but on the promise of eternal life. Since this world will always disappoint us, we must fix our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at Christ’s return (1 Peter 1:13).

The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:18). We have an imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance reserved for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). Nothing this world offers can compare to what we already have waiting for us.

The surpassing greatness of His power for believers (Eph. 1:19). God has not left us to do the best we can. His power is always working to transform us into Christ’s image and empower our obedience.

Keep praying for your physical and emotional needs, but don’t forget to add these spiritual requests as well.

Night Devotional Title: The Burden of False Guilt (11/16/2020) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Galatians 1:10

Guilt is an emotional response to wrongdoing. We should feel the Lord’s conviction when we disobey His commandments, or even when we break civil laws that do not contradict God’s laws. But there’s another kind of guilt that is not from the Lord but from man. Called “false guilt,” it has different forms.

Legalism is a form of religion that holds firmly to man-made rules rather than to Christ (Col. 2:16-23). It has no power for salvation or transformation but instead enslaves people to false guilt when they fail to keep the rules.

Perfectionism is a burden we place upon ourselves. If we don’t perform to our self-made standards, we feel like failures and can’t forgive ourselves. However, Christians are commanded to live for Christ, not for themselves and their own expectations.

Trying to please people is another source of false guilt. This could develop in the home, workplace, school, church, or anywhere that others place demands on us.

Of course, the ideal is always to treat others with love and kindness. But with false guilt, the solution is to please God, not people. When guilt comes, evaluate its source. Is it from God or man?

Devotional Title: Growing in Prayer (11/13/2020) Friday 

Key Bible  Passage: Philippians 1:1-11

One of the best ways to improve your prayer life is by imitating prayers in Scripture. Consider starting with Paul. When you read the prayers in his letters to the churches, you will notice three characteristics that distinguish them—an accurate understanding of God, joy in others’ salvation, and a desire for the Lord to continue the good work He began in their lives.

Even though Paul wrote many letters from prison, his concern was not for his release—it was for the health of the churches and the spiritual maturity of believers. Whenever he received word of their growing faith, increasing love, steadfast hope, and partnership in the gospel, he responded with joy, praise to God, and continued intercession on their behalf.

Does intimate knowledge of the Lord and love for your brothers and sisters in Christ fuel your devotional life? If you are longing for greater depth in your prayers, follow Paul’s example by spending time in God’s Word, pondering who He is, what He has done, and what He desires to do in the lives of His people. Then put these thoughts into prayers for the spiritual growth of fellow believers.