Afternoon Devotionals

 

Afternoon Devotionals

Devotional Title: Joy Comes In The Morning

Key Bible Chapter : Psalms  30

We cannot be sure of the context in which David wrote Psalm 30. It is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving for the security granted by a gracious and faithful God. Psalms 30:4 ‘Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.’

Some speculate a plague had come upon the David’s kingdom, and God had brought healing. Others say it was psalm of personal praise for God healing David of some sort of illness. The case can be made it was a song of praise for bringing spiritual healing to David as he contemplated his sins and shortcomings. It may have been written in response to all three events.

Something else is going on in Psalm 30 of which David may not have been aware: Psalms 30:2-3 ‘O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.’ The picture is of a person rejoicing after being in the grave. The praise is God’s intention was this person ‘should not go down to the pit.’ Though he was put in the grave, God’s decree is he will not stay there. The NIV ends verse three saying, ‘you spared me from going down to the pit.

Discerning believers get on the edge of their seats. They know what this is referring to even if David did not. 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.’ ‘The remembrance of his holiness,’ refers to something God has done for which He will be remembered. It is expressed in the past tense even though it may not have yet happened. This is called the ‘prophetic perfect’ tense. It is God speaking as though something is as good as done though it has not yet been done.

Yes, David may weep for himself, and for the nation during the night of their affliction, but the morning is going to bring joy. When the sun rises the grave will be empty. The person who should have been there will be risen, and the rising of this person will be a sign of the healing of God’s Nation.

Psalms 30:8 ‘I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.’ David cried for mercy. Someone else would as well: Matthew 27:46 ‘And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Psalms 30:9-10 ‘What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.’ There would be no profit in the Blood of Jesus had He died and stayed dead. The atoning sacrifice would have been inadequate. It would not serve God’s Plan of Salvation for Jesus to go into the pit. How could a dead body bring honor and praise to the Son, and to the Father. How would death declare (reveal) God’s truth?

Psalms 30:11-12 ‘Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.’ The mourning for death has been turned into a dance of praise because death has been conquered. David speaks of having taken off his sackcloth of mourning, and I think of the grave clothes left behind in the empty tomb. Jesus did not need them any more. Instead, He is dressed with gladness which translates a Hebrew word meaning joy, glee or rejoicing.

This Person’s ‘glory may sing praise to the.’ He can because He will be among the living again. He will have conquered death. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Devotional Title: The Power in Prayer (5/19/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage:Matthew 7:7-11
 
Have you become disillusioned with prayer? Perhaps you’ve been persistently asking, seeking, and knocking, but God hasn’t answered your request. If that’s the situation, you may be wondering why so many Christians speak about the power of prayer when it seems ineffectual in your life. 
 
Verses 9-11 of today’s passage help us understand the bigger picture. Jesus draws a comparison between earthly fathers and the heavenly Father. He notes that a human father, who is flawed and limited, can give good things to his children. So it stands to reason that the heavenly Father, who is all-powerful and all-knowing, will give what’s beneficial to His children. 
 
Sometimes, however, we are like spiritual toddlers. In our limited understanding, we don’t realize that our requests aren’t always what God deems best for us. Prayer is powerful when our petitions are according to His will but not when they’re self-willed (1 John 5:14-15).
 
What’s amazing is that God uses the prayers of His people to accomplish His plans. He’s completely sufficient without us, but prayer teaches us humility, dependence, submission, and trust. Intimacy with God is built when we come to Him with our praises, thanks, confessions, and petitions. The profit of prayer is not that can we receive something but that we’re able to relate to the One who supplies all our needs.

Devotional Title: A Light and Youthful Spirit ( 5/18/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Ecclesiastes 1
 
As times passes, we’ll inevitably begin to experience more physical aches and pains. But disappointments can leave us feeling old in spirit at any age. In today’s passage, we find a disheartened Solomon bemoaning how meaningless his existence has become. The king who was once unsurpassed in wisdom has tragically allowed worldly ideals and pursuits to distort his priorities. And as a result, he’s become dissatisfied with life. 
 
What Solomon didn’t realize is that our focus determines our level of satisfaction. Those who stay young in spirit continually look for evidence of the Almighty—ways that He’s working, providing, loving, and guiding. Without this perspective, the pain and problems of life take center stage, which can then lead to discouragement and grumbling. 
 
These are burdens that believers are not meant to bear. Jesus Christ invites the weary and heavy-laden to come to Him and find rest (Matt. 11:28-30). Our Savior is the solution for everything that weighs us down, but we must let Him carry it for us. 
 
What are you hauling around that is aging your body, soul, and spirit? Whether you’re burdened by unforgiveness, regret, guilt, or something else, cast it is on God, because He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7).


Devotional Title: Going Through Hell (5/17/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage:Isaiah 41:10
 
You know when you’re in the thick of it—facing tough financial circumstances, or maybe a problem with work or a relationship, or a health issue or an addiction? You know that “I just don’t know what to do” feeling? Most of us do, maybe all of us. The thing is, we actually do know what to do—we know exactly what to do. It’s just hard, in those moments, to remember . . . and to trust.
 
But we must remember and trust our Father God. He sees and he knows .  . . and sometimes he allows. We must not be “surprised at the fiery trial,” therefore, “as though something strange were happening” (1 Peter 4:12). When he allows hardship, though, it’s always for good—even if that’s not, at first, very obvious (James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:1-11; Romans 8:28).
 
And we must remember and trust our King, Jesus Christ. He is truth. He teaches us what to do in any ordeal. He knows like no other. “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
 
And we must remember and trust our God the Holy Spirit. He’s always with us, in every moment (John 14:16). And He can help and strengthen us, whatever the hardship. The “Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” exists within us, and can certainly bring new life to our circumstances too (Romans 8:11).
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
If you’re in the thick of it now, trust that God has a plan; follow your King, as he knows the plan and knows the way; and ask the Holy Spirit for help. If you’re not, take a minute to pray.

Devotional Title:  Thoughtful Living (5/16/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 25:8-15
 
Are you living thoughtfully or automatically? It’s easy to get up each morning, do our work, enjoy some relaxation or entertainment, and fall into bed each night without giving any thought to God’s involvement in our lives. But consider the benefits of keeping our spiritual eyes and ears open throughout the day—to see how God has blessed, guided, protected, and warned us.
 
Being aware of the Lord’s presence reminds us He is always in control and working to accomplish His good purposes. When we look for God’s footprints in our days, we discover the scope of His involvement in our life. Maybe He strengthened you for a task or opened a door of opportunity. Perhaps He guided your decisions or helped you respond in a compassionate way to a difficult person. Furthermore, if our ears are attuned to the Lord’s warnings and instructions, we’re less likely to repeat our mistakes. 
 
Each night before you go to sleep, take some time to reflect on the day’s activities. Know that the Lord is constantly with you, guarding you and offering guidance. He wants you to understand life from His perspective as you rely on His wisdom and power to face any challenge.

Devotional Title: Joyful Witness (5/13/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage:1 John 1:1-4
 
Christians are called to be Jesus’ witnesses (Acts 1:8). This doesn’t mean we need eloquence or charisma in order to explain the good news to others. A witness is simply someone who testifies to what he has seen, heard, or experienced. That’s what John did in the opening of his letter. He shared his first-hand knowledge of having been with Jesus and how that made his joy complete. 
 
If you’ve ever shared the gospel with someone who gladly accepted Christ as Savior, you’ve probably experienced fullness of joy. Yet even if your message was not received by the other person, there’s a joyful satisfaction in carrying out Jesus’ command to tell others about Him. But if your main concern is how you are viewed, there will be no elation. Instead of rejoicing in the opportunity, you’ll likely be critiquing your explanation of the gospel. 
 
Witnessing is not a matter of persuasiveness or verbal skill. Rather, it’s an overflow of your love for Jesus Christ, along with a desire to invite people to know Him. As you allow the Holy Spirit to increasingly express His life and power through you, your joy will overflow and touch others.

Devotional Title: Winning the Struggle With Doubt (5/12/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: James 1:5-8
 
Do you struggle with anxiety, frustration, and fear? Sometimes these feelings arise when we doubt God’s ability to fix a problem or protect us or a loved one. At other times we’re distressed because we question His willingness to handle a situation. Such uncertainties can develop from a lack of knowledge about God’s character, confusion regarding His promises, or a misunderstanding of His plans. That’s why it’s important to fill our mind with the truths of Scripture. Focusing on the Lord’s sufficiency instead of our circumstances gives us hope and strength.
 
There are many situations that may cause our faith to waver. It could be that our own sin prompts us to question the truth of the Scriptures in order to justify ourselves. Or previous failures might lead to a pessimistic outlook about current and future situations. What’s more, we have an enemy who reminds us of past mistakes and times when our prayers appeared to go unanswered. Satan’s age-old technique of questioning God’s truthfulness can make us wonder whether the Lord is trustworthy.
 
When doubts surface, confess them to God. Then recall past instances of His faithfulness and meditate on His promises. Let the Holy Spirit guide you into truth so you can stand firm.
 

Devotional Title: Following God’s Schedule  (5/11/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 11:33-36
 
People enjoy feeling in control of their own schedule, and it can be frustrating when things don’t go according to plan. Yet whoever truly desires to walk in obedience to God must cooperate with His time frame. 
 
Consider how you pray about situations in your life. Without realizing it, you may be demanding that the Lord follow the schedule you’ve constructed based on your very limited human wisdom. Yet if we believe God is who He says He is, how can surrendering to His way not be to our benefit? 
 
Unlike us, the Lord has complete knowledge about our world and the details of every individual life—past, present, and future. He understands every motive, whereas we can’t accurately judge even our own intentions. God also acts out of love for His people, and He’s sufficient to meet every need at just the right time.  
 
Submitting to God’s timetable requires faith and courage. Believe in the goodness of His heart and His plans, and determine to wait until He moves you forward. Then, as you follow His schedule, you will experience the joy of seeing a display of His great glory.

Devotional Title: How to Seek God (5/10/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 105:1-8
Some or even most of us don’t know where to begin.  
 
Start with the Scriptures and prayer. Set aside time each day for meditating on God’s Word: Listen for His voice, slowly digest what you read, talk to the Lord, ask Him questions, and apply what you learn. Don’t just read the Bible—study it, perhaps starting with a verse or short passage. Some of you may say, “I’ve never been into that.” My advice: Get into it! The deep things of God don’t just drop into our brains; they are placed there through diligent study. 
 
Hunger for the Lord is an acquired taste. The more we pursue Him, the greater our craving will be. However, if we ignore God, what little hunger we have will diminish even further. 
 
Do you find this last statement describes your experience? Then ask the Lord to whet your appetite for Him, and follow through by becoming a seeker. This requires time and effort, two things we want to invest wisely. 
 
To neglect the Lord would mean cheating yourself of the benefits He promises to those who diligently seek Him. No one wants to go after that which is fleeting. Choose instead to pursue the Eternal One—the source of all contentment, joy, and hope.

Devotional Title:  Becoming a Burden Bearer (5/9/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 15:1-7
 
Every week churches are filled with people experiencing a wide range of problems, and as believers, we’re to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). This isn’t just the job of the pastor—he can’t possibly know about every need in the congregation. That’s why we’re all called to help each other practically and spiritually. But doing this may require some changes on our part.
 
Awareness. If we’re not sensitive to what people are facing, how can we pray for them or offer some kind of support? Ask the Spirit to help you tune in to the struggles of others.
 
Acceptance. We’re to accept fellow believers as Christ has accepted us. That means being willing to share the burdens of others, no matter who they are.
 
Availability. Helping people may not be convenient, but a faith community thrives when we make time to be there for those around us.
 
The Lord is the ultimately the one who comforts the hurting and helps the weak, but He often does this through His people. Scripture tells us the whole law is fulfilled in one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14). Do you limit your support to family and friends, or do you show love to all your neighbors?

Devotional Title: Pursuing the Lord (5/6/22) 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 119:1-8
 
We all have ambitions and desires, but as believers, we should weigh them against God’s Word. As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking our heavenly Father. 
 
What does it mean to seek God? The phrase describes a wholehearted effort to know the Father and follow Him more closely. Those who pursue this kind of fellowship with God are determined to spend time with Him. They also want to forsake anything that could hinder growth in their relationship with the Lord. God’s committed followers claim His promises and trust Him to fulfill His Word. Their experiences with the Lord bring amazing satisfaction yet cause them to hunger for more of Him. 
 
The Christian life is meant to be an ongoing pursuit of God. To walk through the door of salvation and stand still, without drawing any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ. Those who seek the Lord soon discover that knowing Him is the greatest reward of all.

Devotional Title : The Need For Love (5/5/22)

Key Bible Passage: Jude 21

A husband and wife visited an orphanage where they hoped to adopt a child. In an interview with the boy they wanted, they told him in glowing terms about the many things they could give him. To their amazement the little fellow said, “If you have nothing to offer except a good home, clothes, toys, and the other things that most kids have-why, I would just as soon stay here.” “What on earth could you want besides those things?” the woman asked. “I just want someone to love me,” replied the little boy. There you have it! Even a little boy knows that “man shall not live by bread alone.” Our deeper yearnings and longings can be met only by a renewed fellowship with the One in whose image we were created, God.

By Billy Graham 

Devotional Title: The Power of Consistency (5/4/22)

Key Bible Passage: Daniel 6:1-28

We live in a noncommittal world where the ability to persevere through adversity is a rare character trait. For instance, if a job is difficult or boring, it’s all too common for people to quit and find another one. Or when a marriage becomes stressful and unhappy, it often seems easier to give up or start over with a new mate. 

Sadly, this lack of commitment is evident even among believers. Many of us struggle to maintain a consistent quiet time with the Lord. Exhaustion, busyness, and misplaced priorities cause us to let that time slide. 

Daniel was a man of steadfast loyalty. Even the threat of death didn’t interfere with his practice of praying three times a day. Jealous satraps and commissioners saw this consistent devotion to God as an opportunity to set a trap. But the king’s words show he believed it would be the key to Daniel’s deliverance: “Your God whom you continually serve will Himself rescue you” (Dan. 6:16). 

The biblical descriptions of Daniel are impressive: He influenced nations and powerful leaders. But have you considered that the Lord was able to use him greatly because of his unwavering obedience and worship? If you likewise commit yourself to God, just imagine what He can do through your life.

By Charles Stanley 

Devotional Title: The Way of Faith (5/3/22) Tuesday

Key Bible Passage:  Hebrews 11:23-29
 
Moses was an important leader of the Hebrew people, and many consider him an Old Testament hero. He was called to do great things with the Lord’s help, and he encountered the presence of the Almighty in intimate ways. But all of his amazing feats were possible only because of his faith.  
 
Today’s passage is part of what’s known as the Bible’s “Hall of Faith.” Those honored in this chapter believed God and demonstrated their trust with obedient action. James 2:14 suggests that all genuine faith results in action, and that’s true for us as well. 
 
Walking by faith does not mean we’re on an easy path. It can include hardship and even persecution. But when we remain true to the Lord through it all, our faith is proved genuine and we grow in Christlikeness. 
 
Are you willing to rely on God’s strength in your weakness? Do you believe He will empower you to stand firm if you face adversity? The Lord responds to faith by enabling us to endure difficulty, demonstrating His power in our weakness, and providing contentment and joy in the midst of suffering.

Devotional Title: God’s Purpose in Our Hardships (5/2/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Genesis 37
 
We all go through difficult seasons. When we’re hurting but see no relief for the future, what can we be sure of?
 
God is with us in our troubles. He gives us what we need—whether it’s His love and strength, a sense of security, or the knowledge that we are not alone. Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer, be rejected, and lose a loved one. He comprehends the temptations and obstacles we face. What’s more, He carries our burdens (Ps. 68:19) and offers peace for our hurting heart. The God who walks with us is not limited by anything (Matt. 19:26), so there’s no reason be afraid. 
 
God has a purpose for allowing hard times. In the book of Genesis, Joseph could not see God’s intentions when his brothers were plotting against him—and neither will we, most of the time. But Joseph knew the Lord’s character and trusted Him through the many trials that came his way. And Joseph’s faith was rewarded when he ultimately rescued his family (Gen. 45:1-8). 
 
We are called to live a life of faith. That means we are to believe God’s promises even if our circumstances confound us. When troubles surround you, remember what is true: God will never desert you nor abandon you (Heb. 13:5), and His good purposes will always be accomplished (Isa. 14:27).

Devotional Title:  A Problem Man Cannot Solve (4/29/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Jeremiah 17:5-8
 
Have you known someone who refused to accept any help whatsoever? Perhaps you were told, “I don’t need your charity” or  “I can do this myself!” On some level, we respect these people’s commitment to make their own way in life. However, this perspective may in fact be a symptom of spiritual problems that could be holding them back. 
 
The Great Divorce is an allegorical look at eternity. In it, author C. S. Lewis describes a character who wants nothing more than “his rights.” That is, he wants only what he deserves—no more, no less. On the surface, this appears to be an act of humility. However, his attitude is one of false humility and is actually motivated by pride. In a similar way, if we’re determined to solve problems on our own, then we will fail miserably, especially when it comes to the issue of sin. 
 
Romans 3:23 makes it clear that sin is everyone’s problem, and the price to be paid for it is death (Rom. 6:23). If we, like Lewis’s proud man, accept only “our rights,” then sin and death will reign in our life. We can overcome it only with true humility and accepting what we did not deserve—the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Thank Him today for providing what we could not achieve on our own: our salvation.

Devotional Title: God’s Forgiveness of Sin (4/28/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalms 51:7-9
 
Yesterday, we looked at sin and our attitudes toward sin. Today, let’s look  at God’s forgiveness toward sin.  It is important that we understand sin and have the right attitude toward sin. However, we need to tried to get a grip or understand God’s forgiveness. 

There are three phrases in these verses that will help to understand and know about God’s forgiveness. The first is “I will be clean.” Clean is a great word in this phrase. However, I think even better is the words I will. Being cleansed by God is not something that I have to wonder about. It is a matter of truth. It is a matter of fact. I will be clean.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9
 
It is a great feeling to know that I will be forgiven. I will be clean. God is faithful every time to forgive me. And this isn’t based on a particular sin. This is any sin. There isn’t anything that I can do that God won’t forgive me of. That is amazing especially when I think of how I forgive others.
 
The next phrase is “whiter than snow.” God cleans it all. God takes all of my sin. I am pure in His sight. This is why I can come before God. God is a holy God and wants nothing to do with sin. Therefore, I need this kind of cleansing so I can go into His presence. His blood and cleansing makes that possible.
 
It is important that I understand this phrase as I think of the final phrase. The final phrase is “blot out all of my guilt.” Because I have been made clean, I don’t have to carry the shame and guilt of my past. This is the power of God’s forgiveness. He doesn’t hold my past over my head. Therefore, I shouldn’t hold my past over my head either. I can walk in purity today. I can be used by God today because of my present and not my past.
 
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Matthew 6:12 

I end with this verse because this part of the Lord’s Prayer or Disciples’ Prayer that Jesus taught them and us to pray. It is important that I understand God’s forgiveness for me so that I in turn understand how I need to forgive others. When I understand God’s forgiveness for me then I know that forgiving others is not an option but something I must do. I must forgive them in the same way that God forgives me. And realizing how hard that is should also help me to be even more amazed by how God forgives me.

Devotional Title: God Hate Sin and We Should  Hate Sin (4/27/22) Wednesday 

‭‭Key Bible Passage: Psalms‬ ‭51:1-4‬ ‭

God hates sin. I need to remember that. Sin is not something that I can just turn a blind eye to. Yes, God offers forgiveness, grace, and mercy. However, may I not see His forgiveness, grace, and mercy as an excuse to sin or as a reason to not take sin seriously.
 
“What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:1-2‬ ‭

I need to remember that I serve and worship a holy God that expects me to be holy.
 
“But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:15-16‬ 
 
Yes, I can never be holy. I can never be perfect. However, this doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try or put up an effort to stay holy. I think part of my unholiness comes from my attitude toward sin. Remember, I said God hates sin. That means that I need to hate sin. I have heard it said that the definition of fearing God is loving what God loves and hating what God hates. I think if I have this attitude, I might be closer to live that life of holiness that God has called me to and wants for me.
I need to remember the words of this Psalm. There is a humbleness in David’s words that we need to have. The reality is that no matter how hard I try, I will never be holy. That is why I need God. David starts this Psalm by seeking and going to God. That is where is starts. It starts with understanding my need for God. It starts with understanding my need for His Word.
 
Then David gets honest with God. He gets honest with what his sin looks like. I need to get honest about my sin. I need to see what sins are before me that trip me up. The more I see them, the more I can avoid them and not allow them to be a stumbling block. Sometimes temptations come out of no where. However, sometimes I put the temptation there just by not be aware of my situation or surroundings. I can help myself by just not putting myself in situations that I know will cause me unnecessary temptation. This is why being honest about my sin or what tempts me is important.
David also gives us I think one of the biggest keys to dealing with temptation. And that is understanding who I am sinning against. So many times I look at my sin as who I am hurting like my wife, kids, or others. And yes it is important to be conscious of others feelings. However, I need to remember, more importantly, that I am hurting God’s feelings. It is against Him that I am sinning or doing wrong. This should matter to me since I know what Jesus had to do to pay for my sin so that I could get that forgiveness, grace, and mercy that I talked about earlier. Jesus suffered and died for those sins. In a way it is like hammering those nails into the hands and feet of Jesus.
 
Therefore, being a follower of God and being flippant about sin doesn’t work. Being a sinner isn’t an excuse to sin. Being a sinner is an excuse to need and pursues God more.
 

Devotional Title: Willing to Wait for God’s Way (4/26/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Lamentations 3:24-26
 
Many Christians struggle with waiting. There are a lot of things we want right now—and we usually have the ability to follow through on our desires. In fact, that’s what the entire credit card industry is all about: Have it now; pay later. But possessions aren’t the only thing we’re in a rush for. Some people are so eager to be married that they make an unwise choice regarding a mate. Others are in such a hurry to become successful and well-respected in their career that they look for shortcuts to get ahead. 
 
So why might the Lord have us delay? One reason is to protect us. Those who can’t say no to their own desires end up enslaved to them. God wants us to be mature believers who have the character and self-restraint to wait for Him to provide in His perfect time. Because our heavenly Father is omniscient, He alone knows what’s best. You can trust that if He asks you to hold off, He has something more wonderful in mind than you could ever provide for yourself. 
 
Does anything seem to have a power over you? If so, it may be an area that requires the practice of self-restraint. Yield to the Lord and submit your desires to Him. Then, begin saying no to temptations as you wait for God to reveal His will for your life.

Devotional Title: The Message the World Needs to Hear (4/25/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Mark 16:15-20
 
Suppose I asked what the mission of the church is—how would you answer? Although the church accomplishes many tasks, the most important is to share the gospel of Christ. Everything else is merely an extension of that. Never outdated or in need of correction, the good news of Jesus Christ is sufficient to meet humanity’s greatest need: salvation from bondage to sin, through reconciliation with the Father. 
 
The message has remained the same throughout the centuries, but there are many methods of making it known, including the spoken word, music, written material, and the media. But all these avenues of communication require the individual involvement of God’s people. 
 
Some Christians think the role of sharing the message and making disciples, known as the Great Commission, belongs only to pastors or missionaries. But every one of us has the responsibility to be involved—we all can give, pray, and tell friends and family what the Lord has done for us. 
 
When you’re truly committed to getting the gospel out, God will reveal what work He is calling you to do. He has a place for every one of His children—nobody is insignificant or without purpose. The limiting factor is not the Lord’s ability to use us but our availability to His call.
 

Devotional Title: It Matter (4/21/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 6:5-8
 
How do you think about work, about your work? Is it awesome? Drudgery? A calling? A means to an end? Separate from your faith? An expression of your faith?
 
God designed us, built us, for work (Genesis 2:15). Work is his gift, not his punishment, nor even a necessary evil. It’s how we’re brought into how he’s blessing and helping his sons and daughters (Ephesians 4:28). You see, God provides his blessings and help . . . through people . . . through us. The blessing of a house, for example, is given by God, but through the people who build it; who assist in its purchase, like the realtor and the banker; who make and sell the furnishings; who maintain it; and even those who insure the house against its loss. All this seemingly secular work becomes sacred when it’s done (1) to love and serve God and his purposes, and (2) to love and serve God’s sons and daughters. It may not seem like it sometimes—especially with supply chains as long and complex as they are today—but it does. There’s no menial or meaningless work as long as it helps someone else in a positive way.
 
It’s in this, in being part of God’s blessing and helping others, that we find our purpose and meaning (Matthew 20:26-28). It’s also how we find joy. Our King, Jesus Christ, teaches us this: “You’re far happier giving than getting” (Acts 20:33-35; John 15:11-15 MSG). Contrary to what our culture teaches, we’re happier exhausting ourselves for the good of others—putting their needs before our own.
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Who are you serving? Who are you blessing with your work? How might God view it? Spend a few moments in prayer, asking these questions . . . and listening . . . listening for the Holy Spirit. 
 
Devotional Title: Learning From Failure (4/21/22) Thursday 
Key Bible Passage: Luke 22:54-62
 
Peter was a man of great faith and bold action, but his brash style sometimes led him to make humiliating mistakes. More than once, he probably felt like a failure rather than a faithful disciple. 
 
I’m sure we can all relate when it comes to falling short of our own expectations. Learning to obey God is a process, and failure is a part of our development as humble servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God’s authority, we soon realize that sin has few rewards. 
 
We’d all prefer to grow in our faith without any missteps at all, but we can’t deny that our failures are instructive. They teach us humility, which is an essential character trait for those who follow Jesus. To eliminate pride, it’s important to admit that we can’t do life on our own—we need a God whose ways and purposes are higher than ours. 
 
The Lord doesn’t reward rebellion or wrongdoing, but He blesses those who repent and embrace chastisement as a tool for growth (Prov. 28:13). So make it your goal to be a pliable student in the Lord’s hands, and thank Him for using your failures to benefit you while bringing Him glory.

Devotional Title: Living With Urgency (4/20/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 13:11-14
 
No question, a lot of us are living in “I know, I know” mode . . . in “I’m gonna do it, but just not right now” mode. You see, we know what’s important; we’ve just convinced ourselves we’ve got all kinds of time. And, because life is crazy busy right now, we’ve resolved to get around to doing what we know we should be doing, later—when things slow a bit. We’ll change our ways, later. We’ll get around to actually living out our faith, later.
 
But, what if there’s no later? What if this day, today, was our last day?
 
It couldn’t possibly be. Waking up this morning was just like waking up yesterday. Tomorrow’s sure to be the same. There’ll always be plenty of time . . . right? Well, the Apostle Peter wrote that God’s right now “restraining himself,” because he loves you and me (2 Peter 3:8-9). He’s “holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change” (2 Peter 3:8-9) . However, when the last day comes, the “space and time” God’s been giving us will vanish. So Peter made his appeal: “Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?” (2 Peter 3:11-13). So Peter made his appeal: live with urgency.
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Take a look at your life. Where are you spending money and talent? Where, and with whom, are you spending time? What’s being neglected? What needs to change? Are you willing, brothers or sisters? It’s time—time to shift into “I’m on it” mode.

Devotional Title: Praying According to God’s Will (4/19/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 13:20-21
 
Scripture teaches that God hears and answers when we make requests according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). Although our Father is always faithful to guide us in specific situations, He also wants us to know His big goals for us, which are described throughout His Word. Today’s passage from Hebrews 13 is one such example.
 
With regard to both character and deeds, God’s purpose for believers can be summed up in these two requests from Hebrews 13:21: 
 
• His goal is to “equip [us] in every good thing to do His will.” He wants us to depend fully on Him to accomplish the good works He planned beforehand for us to do (Eph. 2:10). These include righteous living in obedience to His Word as well as fruitful service in His name and to His people.  
 
• God is “working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.” As the Father shapes us into the image of His Son, He is transforming our character so we’ll have a heart bent toward pleasing Him. Otherwise, all our good works are useless.
 
When you ask God to accomplish these two things in your life, you can be sure He will.

Devotional Title: The Cross: The Heart of God (4/18/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: I Corinthians 1:18-25
 
The message of the cross seems like foolishness to unbelievers because the “natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:14). Only when our mind is renewed by the Holy Spirit can we begin to fully grasp the wisdom and power of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. 
 
People with a worldly mindset often think they have a firm grasp of wisdom, yet they can’t understand what leads the lost into a saving relationship with the heavenly Father. To them, it’s all a waste of time.
 
What’s more, there are many religions around the world that consider good works to be the means of salvation. However, no amount of kindness or generosity can ever overcome the debt of our sin or reconcile us to a holy God. That’s why Jesus Christ, knowing exactly what was necessary to save our souls, offered His blood as a substitutionary atonement on our behalf.
 
Even when our own ideas might seem to make the most sense, we should realize our heavenly Father is much wiser than we are. He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matt. 6:32). Therefore, let’s be grateful that He didn’t leave this matter in our hands and thank Him for providing what we could never earn on our own: salvation, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life in His presence.

Devotional Title: The Cosmic Dilemma (4/15/2022)Friday 

Key Bible Passage: John 3:14-21
 
Most people go through life unaware of the great cosmic dilemma—namely, how can a holy God be reconciled with sinful humanity? Nor do they give much thought to the solution that God Himself provided at Calvary: The cross was the place where both His love and His justice were on full display.  
 
When Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord, they exposed the entire human race to sin. Humanity’s condition stood in opposition to the perfectly righteous God who created them. 
 
The Lord could have abandoned mankind to condemnation. But in love, He wanted to forgive sinful people and reconcile them to Himself—while remaining absolutely just. His solution was to provide a perfect sacrifice to atone for their sins. That meant a flawless substitute was needed to take the punishment sinners deserved. So God sent His Son into the world to bear mankind’s sin and appease His own justice. 
 
The cross of Jesus represents the only answer to this cosmic problem. God was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice so that in eternal love He could welcome redeemed mankind into His holy presence. Have you trusted Jesus as Savior and acknowledged the sacrifice He made on your behalf?

Devotional Title: Good Works Aren’t Enough (4/14/2022) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 3:10-12
 
Some people believe good deeds are like a “get out of hell free” card. But an individual isn’t condemned by God because of things he or she does. Condemnation has to do with the person’s sinful state—in other words, having a nature bent away from the Lord. 
 
We all have a rebellious nature. Observe any two-year-old child who tugs on the lamp cord right after his mom says, “Don’t touch!” His impulse to do what he wants is greater than the desire to please his mother. Not one single person is good enough or wise enough to remain sinless and pleasing before the Lord (Rom. 3:23). 
 
And, God decreed that sin deserves the death penalty. And His Word makes it clear that only a perfect sacrifice is acceptable for making atonement (Lev. 22:20). So in our sinful state, we are utterly helpless to save ourselves. God, however, so loved us that He sent the solution to our predicament: He gave His perfect Son, Jesus, to offer His own blood in our place. And when we place our faith in Him as our Savior, our spirit is brought to life and our heart undergoes transformation. The moment God saves you, He makes you into a new creature—one with a nature surrendered to Him and His will.
 

Devotional Title: How to Deal With Sin (4/13/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passages:  1 John 1:5-10, 1 John 2:1-6
 
Christ’s sacrifice on the cross paid for all our sins, but believers are still susceptible to temptation and disobedience. Therefore, we must understand what to do when we yield to our sinful desires. Knowing our struggle, God has graciously given us a way to receive cleansing so we can continue to grow in holiness. We’re to … 
 
• See sin as God sees it. Our Father is absolutely pure, and to Him, every sin is an offense that violates His law, grieves the Holy Spirit, and belittles Christ’s sacrifice. 
 
• Take responsibility for it. Trying to soften sin’s heinous nature by calling it a mistake, weakness, or shortcoming is unacceptable. We must acknowledge our guilt and disobedience rather than make excuses or blame others. 
 
• Confess it. Agreeing with God about our wrongdoing is a blessed privilege because He then washes us clean of the guilt. And what’s more, He empowers us to turn away from that sin in repentance so we can begin walking afresh in holiness.
 
Although John explained how we are to deal with sin, his main purpose was to encourage us to turn from it and walk in obedience to God. The longer we are Christians, the less sin should characterize our life.

Devotional Title: Willing to Wait for God’s Way (4/12/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Lamentations 3:24-26
 
Many Christians struggle with waiting. There are a lot of things we want right now—and we usually have the ability to follow through on our desires. In fact, that’s what the entire credit card industry is all about: Have it now; pay later. But possessions aren’t the only thing we’re in a rush for. Some people are so eager to be married that they make an unwise choice regarding a mate. Others are in such a hurry to become successful and well-respected in their career that they look for shortcuts to get ahead. 
 
So why might the Lord have us delay? One reason is to protect us. Those who can’t say no to their own desires end up enslaved to them. God wants us to be mature believers who have the character and self-restraint to wait for Him to provide in His perfect time. Because our heavenly Father is omniscient, He alone knows what’s best. You can trust that if He asks you to hold off, He has something more wonderful in mind than you could ever provide for yourself. 
 
Does anything seem to have a power over you? If so, it may be an area that requires the practice of self-restraint. Yield to the Lord and submit your desires to Him. Then, begin saying no to temptations as you wait for God to reveal His will for your life.

Devotional Title: Formula for Personal Growth (4/11/22) Monday

Key Bible Passage: James 1:19-25
 
The difference between hearing and doing seems fairly obvious, and yet many people fail to recognize the distinction—or the fact that the two should be more closely related. Take the parent-child relationship, for example. Moms and dads give directions and expect their children to follow through with action. We all know, however, that such instructions are often unheard or disregarded. 
 
Think about how that applies to what our heavenly Father tells His children. He has given us His Word not just to hear but to obey. Yet how often do we hear the proper instructions or warnings but fail to do what Scripture says? In some instances, it’s a matter of not caring enough to obey; at other times our own interests lead us away from God’s commands and toward our own desires. 
 
Do you merely hear the Word, or do you also do what it says? (See James 1:22.) The danger is that in failing to apply God’s words of wisdom, we can easily be led into all sorts of foolish pursuits. Isaiah 53:6 warns that our natural tendency is to turn to our own way and go astray like lost sheep. That’s why it’s essential to listen and obey our Good Shepherd as He guides us with His Word.

Devotional Title: The Moments That Sustain Us (4/8/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 145
 
When difficulties arise, what becomes your main focus—the problem, its impact on you, or its effect on others? When trouble occurred in David’s life, he meditated on the Lord’s sufficiency and His good, pleasing, and perfect will. That focus is evident not only in today’s psalm but in others as well: throughout his life, David poured out his troubles to the Lord and also continually turned his attention back to the Father. The result was strength and hope for his soul. 
 
Because David had a trusting relationship with God, he dealt with trials by anticipating divine help. For example, his impending fight with Goliath brought to mind God’s past and present delivering power (1 Sam. 17:37). In facing King Saul’s murderous threats and advances, David relied on the Lord’s protection as his refuge and fortress (Ps. 18:2). And when grieving over the loss of loved ones, he let God’s presence and comfort fill his heart and mind (1 Sam. 30:3-6). 
 
As was the case with David, our circumstances can also serve as valuable prompts for meditation. God has given us His Word, a wonderful resource where His character, works, and purposes are clearly displayed. When your next difficulty comes, use it as a reminder to meditate on some attribute of the Lord—and draw the strength and hope to sustain you.

Devotional Title: The Price of Prayerlessness (4/7/22) Thursday

Key Bible Passage: Isaiah 40:28-31
 
Our heavenly Father invites us to come to Him with all our concerns. Even so, there are believers who do not bother communicating with the Lord, except in emergencies. Unfortunately, neglecting prayer is costly because it often results in weariness and discouragement. 
 
Certain situations take an emotional, physical, and spiritual toll on us—we refer to them as “burdens.” These low points can wear us out if we attempt to endure them alone. For one thing, we aren’t built for such loads, so trying to haul them around will deplete us. What’s more, 1 Peter 5:7 tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on [God] because he cares for you” (NIV, emphasis added). There’s no point in both the Father and us carrying that weight, especially when He wants to handle it on our behalf. In God’s design, His strength supports us in our weakness, and He is in fact glorified by this arrangement (2 Cor. 12:9).
 
As you pray, picture Jesus’ shoulders just above your own—with Him bearing your problems. Even if the burden doesn’t disappear, it will feel noticeably lighter when you hand it over to the Lord. Then, like David, you can say, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden” (Ps. 68:19).

Devotional Title: Where’s Home? (4/6/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 11:28
 
“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:2-3). How does God restore your soul? Where do you find rest? How are you most able to forget, even for a few moments, the pressures of this life? Where do you get reset and realigned? How do you connect with God most easily? Where are you most able to hear his voice or feel his guidance?
 
Is it in praying at your breakfast table in the early morning, before anyone else wakes? Or in reading Scripture on the treadmill or in your car over the lunch hour? Is it in a few minutes of stillness and solitude in the evening? Or in boisterous community around a table, with brothers/sisters  or with family? Is it in walking or running or biking through streets or through hills? Is it in listening to music? Or in making your own music, singing in church perhaps? Or in something else entirely?
 
Recognize that God designed you, uniquely, to have ways—even amid the busyness—to find him, to find rest and restoration through him. You were designed to, every so often, just come home. So open your eyes. Search your heart. He has, no doubt, already shown you how.
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Think back on times when you most felt God’s peace, most felt his presence. That you have experienced him in particular ways, in particular places, in particular activities, means he has spoken . . . right to you. He’s given you permission to do those things, whatever they are. He’s told you he wants you to do those things—that you’ve got to do those things. Now, you simply must choose to do them, consistently and often.

Devotional Title: How to Truly Forgive (4/5/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 4:25-32
 
Did you know it’s possible to extend forgiveness to another person and yet still cling to resentment? We might say everything is okay, but our unpardoning spirit remains—and it will linger until we emotionally release the other person from the wrong he or she did. Thankfully, there’s a way to truly move on: 
 
• First, assume responsibility for your unforgiving spirit, and choose a change of heart toward the other person. The healing process begins with repentance.
 
•  Then, release your hold over the debt you feel is owed. 
 
•  Recognize the other person’s violation has exposed an area of weakness in you—namely, your resentment and desire for vengeance. 
 
•  Finally, remember how often God forgives you. 
 
The Lord is grieved to see His children cling to an unforgiving spirit, because emotional debt imprisons us. We become paralyzed by our own distrust, resentment, and insecurity, which only build walls that shut out family and friends. In contrast, God’s goal for us is freedom from bitterness. He wants to see us reconcile with our offender and even show tenderhearted, loving acceptance. We have a calling from God to forgive. Though that can be difficult, it is possible because Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20).

Devotional Title:  What Worked? What Didn’t? (4/4/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: 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: Bring Life into Alignment (4/1/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 4:1-3
 
A steel beam has integrity when its purpose, its design, its manufacture, and its use are aligned. Said another way, to have integrity a beam must be designed and manufactured for a specific purpose—and it must actually be used toward that purpose. We can count on a beam like that, even to bear a heavy and important load, because all its existence is in alignment.
 
Though considerably more complex and wondrous, obviously, than a steel beam, we humans need alignment too, to have that kind of integrity. You see, God designs and builds us for specific purposes:
 
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
 
God gives us natural talents and spiritual gifts and hearts with unique passions. And he shapes us further by our individual journeys. So, for each of us, our purposes, our design, and the way we’re built are always aligned. God does that. Unlike the beam, however, he allows us to choose our uses. He allows us to choose how we spend our lives. If we ask and search, listen and discover what he had in mind when he dreamt us up and knit us together—and then allow ourselves to be used in the ways he intends—we bring our lives into full alignment. If we strike out on our own, though, and follow the world’s “oughts” into other uses altogether, we commit ourselves to living lives of misalignment.
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Start small and be practical. Come up with a short-term project that requires your unique skills and abilities, your unique spiritual gifts (if you know them), and your unique passions. Choose something with significance—i.e., it helps others. Then, don’t wait. Get going on it.

Devotional Title: Dare You to Pray This …(3/31/22) 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 51:10-11
 
In the aftermath of adultery and murder, King David pleaded with God. He begged God not to cut him off (Psalm 51:11). You see, David had experienced what it’s like to know God, what it’s like to spend time with him, to listen to him and trust him, to love and be loved by him—and he dreaded losing that closeness and goodness and truth. So, in desperation, he invited God to do something new in him. He invited God to rebuild his heart, in any way he would like (Psalm 51:10). He gave himself up. He gave himself over . . . to whatever work, whatever journey, whatever adventure God might have for him. He decided to trust God more than he trusted himself.
 
How about we do that too? We may or may not be guilty of adultery or murder, but we’re all sinners. We all carry sin’s taint. “If we say we have no sin . . . the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). So how about we too invite God to do something new in us? How about we too give ourselves over to whatever work, whatever journey, whatever adventure God might have for each of us? And, how about we do it, as men, together? We’ll be better for it—God’s brilliant, he’s good, and he loves us. Might it be scary? Sure it might. Might it be a little painful even? Sure it might. Will it be one of the best things we ever do? Absolutely it will.
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
“Do a new work in me, God. You’re brilliant and good, and you love me. So do whatever you’d like. And, whatever it is, I’m in. I’ll trust you more than I trust myself.”

Devotional Title: The Five Brethren (3/30/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Luke 16:28

In the Parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the rich man is in torment in hell. He appeals to ‘Father Abraham’ to have mercy on him. Father Abraham says a great gulf is fixed between the rich man and the comfort he seeks. It is not that the Father cannot bring comfort, but the Father has arranged it so comfort cannot pass from one place to the other.
 
The rich man asks that Lazarus be sent to others: Luke 16:27-28 ‘Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ The ‘father’s house’ is symbolic of the Temple in Jerusalem. The rich man wants the Father to testify to the ‘five brethren’ so they will not face the same judgment as the rich man.
 
Why are we told it is ‘five’ brothers? It does not take much imagination to understand if the brothers are in the Father’s house, then they must be Jews, but that is not necessarily so. There was a Court of Gentiles at the Temple and an inner Court of Israel reserved for Jews. Who does the ‘five’ refer to?
 
When Israel is crossing the Red Sea, we read: Exodus 13:18 ‘But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.’ Our attention is on the word ‘harnessed.’ It translates a Hebrew word meaning able-bodied men, but in context gives the sense of people marching in order. They were not leaving helter-skelter. The Hebrew word translated ‘harnessed’ is related to another Hebrew word meaning ‘five.’ 
 
We can apply Luke 16:27-28 to our lives even if we are not Jews, but Jesus was directing this parable at unbelieving Jews. It was a warning to them that being a Jew did not necessarily give them entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. In the parable, the rich man is asking the Father to warn the Jews in order to escape judgment. 
 
This is confirmed by the Father’s reply: Luke 16:29 ‘Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ The Jews could read. The testimony of the coming Messiah was in the hands of the ‘five brothers.’ The five brothers had no one to blame but themselves if they do not accept Jesus.
 
The rich man protests they will not believe unless someone from the dead speaks to them. The Father says: Luke 16:31 ‘And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.’ The Word gives clear instructions about the Messiah to come. If the five brothers will not believe based upon the Word, they will not believe even if someone rises from the dead to tell them.
 
Jesus was predicting the Resurrection. He was telling the Jews many would not believe in Him even after the Resurrection. The Jews listening to Jesus may not have understood, but they would have known Jesus was jabbing His finger in their chest and warning them. ‘This parable is for you, and you better pay attention.’
 
Many sit back saying, ‘Oh, well that was just for the Jews.’ Paul was discussing who truly is a part of Israel when He said: Romans 9:6 ‘Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:’ Paul’s point is true Israel are those who profess faith in the Son of God. That can be a Jew or Gentile, but it can also exclude either Jew or Gentile, because inclusion is based not on who we are, but on faith in the Son of God.
 
In the end, the ‘five brothers’ applies to all of us. We better receive and believe the testimony of God’s Word, because comfort will not come to those in hell.
By David Anthony 
 

Devotional Title: He Calls Us Still (3/29/22)

Key Bible Passage: Romans 3:23

We have been called to be like Jesus. We’re commanded to love just like he does (John 13:34-35). That’s a tall order. It’s easy to feel less-than-qualified, what with all our faults and bad choices, both intentional and unintentional. In fact, it’s easy to feel totally disqualified. Our mistakes—we carry their shame, we try to forget them. But we can’t forget. So we hide them instead, hoping, at least, to appear qualified. But they’re always there. And the thing is, when everyone else is hiding their mistakes too, it can feel like we’re the only ones with failings. So, not only do we feel disqualified, we can also feel separate.

But our mistakes don’t separate us from everyone else. They actually connect us. Whether we admit them or not, they’re one thing we all share (Romans 3:23). Our mistakes make us human. They also don’t disqualify us from the call to love like Jesus. You see, Jesus knows our mistakes; we can’t hide them from him. And yet he calls us still. We must confess and repent the mistakes we’ve made—and try to make fewer going forward—but Jesus doesn’t give up on us because of our mistakes (Mark 2:17). And, in fact, our mistakes (and the darkness that follows) can actually prepare us for his call. They can prepare us to love. They can teach us compassion and humility. They can also give us the authority to speak, as men who’ve been through darkness and pain, and who’ve returned.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Make a list. Write down mistakes you’ve made. Pray over them. Consider how you’ve grown from them. Consider how God might be redeeming them—how they might have actually prepared you to love and help those people for whom your heart moves.

Devotional Title: Bearing One Another’s Burdens (3/28/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Galatians 6:1-5
 
At some point, all of us struggle under the weight of a difficult situation. It might be a sin we cannot overcome, a trial that just doesn’t let up, or a need that remains unmet. However, there’s no need to struggle through it alone, because we have the support of fellow believers as we bear one another’s burdens.
 
There is an example of this in the book of Acts. Christians of the early church pooled their resources to help meet the material and financial needs of believers who were in poverty (Acts 4:32-35). Paul also displays this concern for others’ welfare in his various letters to growing churches. He knew it was his responsibility and privilege to strengthen them even though he was repeatedly undergoing his own hardships and afflictions.
 
We can’t wait until life is free from problems before reaching out to others—that day may never come. Though every one of us has his or her own needs, it’s important to remember we can do all things through Christ’s strength. And that includes sharing someone else’s burden.
 
When we’re willing to wade into a fellow believer’s troubles to help, that person is blessed, and we’re fulfilling the Lord’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Devotional Title: Man, What’s the Point? (3/25/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 73:3
 
Do you ever look around, at people who are prosperous and follow God either not much or not at all? Do you ever find yourself envying such people, who embrace the world wholeheartedly and enjoy it’s successes? Do you ever get discouraged? Do you ever wonder, what’s the point? I mean, do you ever just get tired of trying to follow God in the midst of people who aren’t? Are you ever tempted to relent and embrace the world a bit more, too? 
 
A man named Asaph, psalmist in the time of David and Solomon, was tempted to relent. He was surrounded by faithless men who seemed “always at ease” and to continually “increase in riches” (Psalm 73:12). Asaph envied them and his “heart was embittered” (Psalm 73:21). “All in vain,” he cried, “have I kept my heart clean . . .” (Psalm 73:13). We may not admit it as boldly as Asaph, but many of us harbor similar thoughts.
 
When we face that choice, though, to embrace God or embrace the world, we must remember—we’re part of something much larger, much more important than houses or vacations or titles. We’ve been invited into an ancient and remarkable battle. For “we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). We’re agents of the resistance, behind enemy lines. We cannot allow ourselves, therefore, to be beguiled by our enemy or the world under his power.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Are you ever, like Asaph, nagged by this kind of envy? If so, talk about it. Simply talking about it—with God, a spouse, a friend, with brothers in community—undermines its power. It also allows others to keep you “fueled and aflame” for the battle ahead (Romans 12:11 MSG).

Devotional Title: Relying on Christ (3/24/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
 
Our world emphatically proclaims the importance of self-esteem, which is a favorable impression of oneself. It’s not unusual to hear that an individual who values himself will accomplish much. Yet Scripture warns us not to think too highly of ourselves (Rom. 12:3). We should have far greater confidence in Christ than in ourselves.
 
Despite his impressive credentials (Phil. 3:4-5), Paul knew he was inadequate to complete the ministry God gave him. In fact, today’s passage says that when preaching the gospel to the Corinthians, he came in fear and trembling (1 Cor. 2:3). His message wasn’t delivered with self-confidence but in complete reliance upon the Spirit. And that’s exactly how we should live as well. 
 
When we rely on God’s power instead of our own abilities, He produces supernatural boldness in us. Even in the midst of difficulty, we can live with confidence because the indwelling Spirit of the living God enables us to follow Him. He directs and strengthens us in every situation as we humble ourselves in dependence upon Him.
 
Are you facing situations that make you feel inadequate? Instead of shrinking back, consider them as opportunities to put your confidence in the Lord. You can trust the One who is your Creator, Redeemer, and Friend.

Devotional Title: No, Actually, We Must Choose (3/23/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 4:19
 
We confront two mutually exclusive, diametrically opposed if-then statements, each claiming to be true. The first is from the enemy and goes like this: if we chase created things—wealth, status, sex—then our lives will be more full, then we’ll have more peace, joy, security, freedom, fulfillment, significance. The second is from God: if we chase him, our Creator—if we listen to him, if we surrender, if we love, if we serve—our lives will be more full then, we’ll have more peace, joy, security, freedom, fulfillment, significance then.
 
The simple question before us, therefore, is which statement we’ll believe and adopt and follow in faith. But, before we can answer, we’ve got to get serious. We’ve got to stop playing around, trying to convince ourselves the statements are not actually mutually exclusive and not actually diametrically opposed. We’ve got to stop trying to convince ourselves we can believe both statements at once, that we can prioritize both created things and the Creator—and that it’ll be okay if we try. We can’t and it’s not.
 
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).
 
We must choose. And, it’s a real choice between good and evil. For, while God uses his if-then statement to invite us into “more and better life” than we could “ever dreamed of,” the enemy uses his to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:6-10 MSG).
 
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Spend some time searching for, and meditating upon, those places in the Bible where God offers if-then statements. There are so many. Do any come to mind, right now? Focus most on his promises that, for you, stand out from the rest.

Devotional Title: The Cost of Our Salvation (3/22/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Philippians 2:5-8
 
Our culture is inclined to enjoy temporary pleasures while disregarding what God says is the price of transgression (Rom. 6:23). Even believers—especially those who have known Jesus a long time—can tend to forget what their sin cost Him. But it’s important to remember that for our sake, Jesus suffered …
 
•  Physical pain. In the hours leading to His crucifixion, the Lord was mocked, beaten, and humiliated. After being forced to carry the cross, He was nailed to it and hoisted up to die an excruciating death. 
 
• Man’s sin. Jesus lived a perfect life on earth. But at the cross of Calvary, the Father placed all of mankind’s sins upon Him (2 Cor. 5:21). There, our Savior experienced the fullness of our transgressions, along with all the guilt, shame, and regret. 
 
• Abandonment. In the final hours, Jesus was separated from His Father (Mark 15:34). Our sin was the barrier that kept them apart until the work of atonement was finished (John 19:30). 
 
• Divine judgment. God’s wrath was poured out upon our Lord because of man’s sin. Christ experienced the condemnation we deserved. 
 
Our Savior suffered greatly on our behalf so we might become part of God’s family (John 1:12). Let’s allow the magnitude of His selfless gift to inspire a loving response.

Devotional Title: The Way to Avoid an Empty Life (3/21/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
Many people appear happy and confident in public, but beneath the surface, they feel empty. Despite their attempts to fill life with pleasures, work, and impressive accomplishments, it’s all vanity. They have chased after fulfillment and purpose, but ultimately it’s been as futile as trying to catch the wind. 
 
There’s a good reason why life can feel empty. God created mankind with an internal yearning—one that He alone is able to satisfy. We cannot be fulfilled until we draw near to the Lord in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. As we come to know and comprehend the love of God’s Son, we’ll be filled up to all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:14-19). 
 
Yet if that’s true, why do believers sometimes feel empty? It could result from disobedience, a refusal to surrender to God’s will, or misplaced priorities as we seek fulfillment in the world rather than in God Himself. When our hearts are set on having circumstances work out a certain way in life, we miss out on the fulfillment that God promises to those who seek Him above all else. It is in His presence that we find fullness of joy and pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11).

Devotional Title: Keeping Fueled & Aflame (3/18/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 12:1
 
The author of Hebrews laid down a challenge: “. . . let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Eugene Peterson translated it as, “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out” (Hebrews 10:24 MSG). What a great challenge for us, today. It dares us to engage our God-given capacities for imagining and inventing. But, it also dares to direct these capacities toward good purposes, toward God’s purposes.
 
Too often we use our imaginations to envision prosperous futures for ourselves, futures of comfort and materialism and separation . . . or . . . we use them to envision worrisome futures, futures where our worst fears come to pass. And too often, we use our inventiveness to build our own prosperity . . . or . . . to build barricades around our lives to protect ourselves from our fears.
 
What if we stopped doing that so much? What if, in faith, we were to refocus these imaginative and inventive capacities? What if we put them toward the task of keeping ourselves, and keeping those around us “fueled and aflame” (Romans 12:11-13 MSG)? What if we dedicated a few moments―every week, every month―to look at ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, and allowed ourselves to dream and create? We wouldn’t be alone. God the Holy Spirit would be right there, in those moments, guiding us, inspiring us.
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
It’s not easy to change how we think and how we act. We need help. Take a few minutes to pray and listen for the Holy Spirit. Be still. Consider the question of how you might encourage “love and good deeds” in your family, among your friends, in your community. Whatever comes―if it fits within the principles of Scripture―trust it and make it happen.

Devotional Title: Call Out or Call In? (3/17/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: John 8:32
 
We cannot mature in our faith without community. We just cannot. The process of maturing isn’t simple, isn’t smooth. It’s one of getting off track and getting on again—again and again. We need help with that. We’re designed to be together. We’re built to need one another. To “grow up healthy in God, robust in love” we need community (Ephesians 4:14-16 MSG).
 
To help, though, our communities must actually be capable of picking us up and getting us on track and encouraging us on. Our communities must be places where we’re willing to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Speaking that way requires moving beyond simply being polite to one another—and ever ignoring or excusing sin. It also requires moving beyond just pointing out sin or shortcomings or what bothers us or what we think might bother God.
 
Speaking the truth in love doesn’t require us to call each other out. It requires us to call each other in—into true identity. It requires us to call each other away from sin (e.g., “you don’t need to do that anymore . . .”) and into the identities God had in mind when he designed us, built us, and set us in motion (“. . . because this is who you really are”).
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Do you have a sense for the true identities of your brothers and sisters in community? Get serious about learning. Get intentional about allowing God to show you. When you meet next, have each man or woman bring a favorite story or verse from Scripture. 

Devotional Title: Spiritual Shortsightedness (3/16/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Genesis 25:19-34
 
The problem with being nearsighted is the inability to see what’s far away. Though we usually think of this as strictly a physical problem, it’s also possible to be spiritually short-sighted (2 Pet. 1:8-9). That is exactly what happened with Esau in today’s passage. He traded his birthright and all its long-term blessings for the immediate physical gratification of a bowl of soup. 
 
That sounds very foolish to us, yet we too can give up something excellent for temporary satisfaction. This happens when we give higher priority to our desires, appetites, or emotions than to the Lord. If our focus is on the temporal rather than the eternal, we’ll make decisions based on today’s needs and desires without considering tomorrow’s consequences.  In doing so, we sacrifice lasting treasure for fleeting satisfaction.  
 
To guard against what happened to Esau, avoid making important decisions in times of physical, emotional, or spiritual weakness. Take time to ask the Lord for guidance, and let biblical principles guide your thinking. Remember, self-control is a virtue God highly values (Gal. 5:22-23; 2 Pet. 1:5-8). So view every temptation to satisfy desires quickly as an opportunity to practice self-restraint and trust God.

Devotional Title: Our Way or God’s Way (3/15/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Exodus 2:11-25
 
Whenever challenges arise, there are two ways to respond—God’s way or our way. In today’s passage, we see what happened when Moses took matters into his own hands. Although his motives were pure—namely, the relief of his peoples’ suffering—his method was wrong. Moses …
 
• Focused on the difficulty instead of the Lord. How often have you and I done the very same thing? If the unfairness or pain of a situation grabs our attention, we can lose sight of our all-powerful God. 
 
• Relied on his own strength and understanding. When a problem confronts us, the most natural response is to do whatever we can to make it right. Our way may seem so logical at the time, but it won’t accomplish God’s purposes.
 
• Acted impulsively instead of waiting on the Lord. If a situation seems urgent, fixing the problem as fast as possible easily becomes our top priority. 
 
At some point, we’ve acted similarly and suffered the consequences of self-reliance. But God didn’t reject Moses or cancel His plans for the man. Instead, the Lord refined his character through trials and gave him another chance. Don’t you think our loving Father will do the same for us?

Devotional Title:  A Living Hope (3/14/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Peter 1:3-5
 
Did you know the city of Corinth was known for its ungodliness? The believers there had once been no different from nonbelievers—filled with sexual immorality, greed, envy, wickedness, deceit, and malice. But now they were new creations, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and adopted into God’s family. The “Corinthian lifestyle” no longer fit who they had become in Christ. 
 
Paul reminded the believers of that city not to be influenced by their culture or old patterns of thinking (1 Cor. 6:9-11). The apostle was not warning them that they might miss out on the kingdom. Instead, he was encouraging them to abandon old ways and bring their behavior in line with who they really were—children of God. 
 
We, too, should know that salvation is permanent and faith ought to have a positive effect on our conduct. Our Savior willingly paid the penalty for our sin, satisfying divine justice and the Law’s demands (Rom. 3:25-26). No one can undo what God has accomplished in saving us—namely, pardoning our sins, giving us a new nature, and adopting us into His family. Knowing what His wonderful grace has accomplished should motivate us to live in our new identity as His children, reflecting His light in the world.

Devotional Title: Hold On To Hope (3/10/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 10:23
 
Faith creates hope, so where faith is conceived hope is birthed. Yes, hope is the daughter of faith. Those who profess to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior possess hope. Hard times try to hinder hope’s comforting company, but it is unhindered where faith in God is the focus. Those who hold on to hope are happy. Where faith peers hope makes clear. Where there is a wall, hope finds a door. Where there is darkness, hope looks for a light. Hope expects Christ to come through.
 
What is hope? It is confidence in Jesus Christ, period. Confidence He is faithful. Faithful to follow through with His promise to provide us peace in the middle of our turmoil. Faithful to answer our prayers in His most productive process. Faithful to give our children what they need as long as they look to Him. Faithful to facilitate financial resources when we steward well what we already have. He is faithful by His restorative grace to heal relationships severed by sin. Hope bursts forth in possibilities when we embrace the promises fulfilled by the Lord’s faithfulness.
 
“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety” (Job 11:18).
 
Since your security is in your Savior Jesus who has conquered sin, sorrow and death, hope is your wise weapon. Your Heavenly Father holds you in the palm of His hand, therefore nothing can reach you lest your divine protector gives permission. The Holy Spirit is your guide, thus you have a trusted leader who directs your path. “Your hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Your two-handed grasp of God includes His double fisted hold on you!
 
When hope is deferred, avoid rejecting God and giving up. Wait on the Lord and hope in Him. He helps you when you feel helpless. He empowers you when you feel powerless. He encourages you when you feel discouraged. He gives joy when you feel joyless. Hope never disappoints. It gives life and a reason to live. If you let go of hope, your gracious Lord doesn’t let go of you. Like Mount Everest, your hope is unmovable, so hold unswervingly to your living hope: Jesus!
 
“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20).

Devotional Title: Joyful Endurance (3/9/2022) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 10:32-39

When you think of endurance, what comes to mind? We usually associate it with persistence through hardship, like the mindset of a marathon runner pushing through the pain to finish the race. The implication is that we are going to face hardships and suffering in the Christian life.

Our goal should be to remain faithful and obedient to Christ through every situation. That is possible because we know our suffering is temporary and we have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. But in the meantime, we need the right attitude. Are we to grit our teeth, mutter, and complain all the way to heaven? Certainly not!

The writer of Hebrews commended the suffering Christians for their joyful attitude. They didn’t enjoy the pain and hardship, but knew that it was all part of God’s plan for their good and ultimately they’d have a great reward in heaven.

We, too, can endure hardship with joy in the Lord, who comforts and strengthens us through it and promises to bring us safely to glory.

Devotional Title: The Landmine of Fear (3/8/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Isaiah 41:8-10

Since our world has many dangers, we have legitimate reasons to be afraid. But Christians shouldn’t live in trepidation as a way of life, because God’s awesome promises allow us to be at peace in every circumstance.

For our protection, God has instilled some natural apprehensions in us, like a fear of snakes or deep water. He also gave us a warning system so that we could react quickly to danger. For instance, if a car speeds toward us, an instantaneous reaction of alarm could save our life.

But a constant, all-consuming dread is unhealthy. Most of our fears relate to dangers that might occur, threatening the welfare of loved ones, financial stability, or future security. Our attention is then centered on these concerns rather than on the One who promises to hold us in His hand (Isa. 41:10). As anxiety grows, trust in the Lord weakens, and we become consumed with worry.

Instead of going down this route, ground yourself in Scripture, and don’t allow apprehension to blind you to God’s promises. Believe what He has said in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, and ask “the Lord of peace” to “continually grant you peace in every circumstance.”


Devotional Title: The Impact of Prayer (3/7/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 139:23-24

When we think about prayer, we frequently focus on what we want the Lord to do for us or others, but communing with Him also impacts us in spiritual ways that we may not realize. Scripture tells us to devote ourselves to prayer and to pray without ceasing (Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17). Continuous conversations with our heavenly Father are one of the means He uses to impact us personally.

Prayer changes us. As we seek the Lord and regularly spend time in His Word, we’ll be transformed. Our desires will be replaced by His, and our thinking will align more closely with His thoughts. As our understanding of His character grows, we’ll have a better idea of how to pray in accordance with His will.

Through prayer, we invite God to accomplish His work in us. While we can’t alter a single divine plan or make the Lord change His mind, we can invite Him to alter us. In prayer, we submit to God’s will, repent of sin, and ask Him to shape us into the image of His Son. And He will hear and answer this kind of prayer because it is exactly what He desires to do in each of us.

Devotional Title: The Body of Christ (3/4/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 4:11-16
 
As we saw yesterday, the body of Christ is made up of all people who worship Him, no matter where they are. The head of this body of believers is Jesus Christ, whom Paul described as “the beginning, the first-born from the dead” (Col. 1:18). 
 
At salvation, you become a part of the body—regardless of what the membership rules may be at your local church. Therefore, if you’re a believer, you are a breathing and active part of Christ, who is at work on earth through His followers. The church acts as Jesus’ feet to carry the gospel message, His hands to care for those in need of love, and His arms to uphold the weak. 
 
But being Jesus to the world isn’t easy—it means making sacrifices, accepting ridicule, and loving our enemies (Heb. 13:16; Matt. 5:44). God may have called us to spread the gospel, but that doesn’t mean people will necessarily like what we have to say. Regardless, we’re to carry out the work of God, even when doing so is uncomfortable. 
 
The gospel is spread through the strength and wisdom of Jesus Christ. And for this task, He has also chosen to use the body of believers united by His Spirit’s indwelling presence. What an honor to be used to reach the world for our Savior.

Devotional Title: Decision-Making God’s Way (3/3/2022) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Proverbs 16:1-3
 
Have you ever chosen a certain path, only to find yourself regretting that decision later? Facing crossroads can at times seem overwhelming, but we have an all-knowing God to guide us. Therefore, we should wisely prepare beforehand for decisions we may have to make quickly.  
 
Scripture is our primary source for direction and wisdom. If we study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word, He’ll bring truth to our mind at the appropriate time. What’s more, we have His indwelling Spirit to guide us. Christians who try to weigh the pros and cons themselves miss out on the wise counsel of the omniscient One.  
 
It is also wise to be aware of our mental state as we approach decisions. The acronym H.A.L.T. stands for “hungry, angry, lonely, and tired”—four states in which we’re more likely make poor choices. When considering options, it’s well worth waiting until a more favorable time. 
 
Your choices affect the direction of your life, so carefully consider what the Lord would have you do. Scripture is clear that we perceive dimly (1 Cor. 13:12) but God sees the whole picture. That’s why it’s vital to rely upon His wisdom, truth, and direction in making decisions.

Devotional Title: A Life-Changing Prayer (3/2/22) Wednesday

Key Bible Passage: Colossians 1:9-14
 
The prayer in today’s reading is a powerful model for any believer. The passage teaches how to pray on behalf of others—and those who do will find themselves changed in the process. In verses 9-10 of this letter, Paul and Timothy say they’ve been praying that the believers in Colossae would …
 
Be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. One of the major steps toward knowing God’s will is to know His Word, which provides guidance in every imaginable situation. When we pray this, we are asking God to make clear His perfect and precise will for every decision. 
 
Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. This is a phrase that means making one’s life count for eternity. Whatever we have done in the Spirit—which Scripture compares to refined gold, silver, and precious stones—is worth exponentially more than the “wood, hay, or straw” ashes produced by worldly interests (1 Cor. 3:10-15). 
 
Bear fruit in every good work. When Jesus Christ is the center of our life, then our character, conduct, and conversation should bear fruit for His kingdom. 
 
The words of this passage can be prayed for anyone, whether or not the person already knows the Lord. And in making these requests for others, we will want the same kind of growth in our own life.

Devotional Title: On the Bottom Looking Up (3/1/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: I Samuel 30:1-20
 
Most of us know how it feels to be at rock bottom. Despair is a horrible condition because it continually feeds on discouragement, hopelessness, and failure. And the longer one dwells on these things, the greater despair grows. The only way out is to break free from this vicious cycle of darkness. We do this by . . .
 
• Repenting of anything that has caused us to doubt the Lord. If we’re in despair, then something has overshadowed God in our life, and that barrier must be removed—the sooner, the better. 
 
• Recalling the Lord’s omnipotence. Since He had the power to save you from sin, He certainly also has the ability to overcome your despair. 
 
• Remembering that nothing in our life happens by chance. God works all things according to His sovereign plan, for the good of those who love Him, and for His glory (Rom. 8:28). 
 
Despair stands in conflict with the abundant life the Lord has promised. If you’re feeling down and out, ask Him to lift you back up today. You’ll never automatically fall out of despair. But with God’s help, you can change your mindset and see your situation through the lens of His Word.

Devotional Title: Den Of Robbers (2/28/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Jeremiah 7:11

God has Jeremiah describe Jerusalem under siege. We read from among those verses: Jeremiah 6:17 ‘Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.’ Using the figure of the city of Jerusalem, God says He has put lookouts on the ramparts to warn of coming trouble. However, the people to refuse to listen to the warnings of the watchmen. The watchmen probably stand for the prophets who repeatedly warned God’s Elect of judgment. 
 
Jeremiah 6:19-20 ‘Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.’ Is God bringing evil on His people? Not really, the evil is ‘the fruit of their thoughts.’ If evil comes, it is because the people asked for it. Do not blame God. God rejects the sacrifices the people make in the Temple. The Temple God speaks of is Solomon’s Temple, the First Temple. The people may go through elaborate motions giving the appearance of sincerity and devotion, but such sacrifices do not impress God. 
 
We are reminded of a verse from Psalm 51 which is part of David’s plea for mercy and forgiveness for his sins: Psalms 51:16-17 ‘For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.’
 
This is the prelude to Jeremiah 7 where God elaborates on false religion. It begins: Jeremiah 7:2 ‘Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.’ God’s Word will literally stand in the doorway of the Temple. There will be no doubt about who God is talking about, the Temple, the priesthood and God’s Elect who pretend to worship there. Jeremiah 7:4 ‘Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.’ The Temple and all the rituals have become empty of true devotion. The more they presume to say otherwise, the more they convict themselves. 
 
Then: Jeremiah 7:11 ‘Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.’ This is not a question, but a judgment. The place presuming to be God’s house is full of thieves who enrich themselves while failing to honor God by ministering to the people. The people are not innocent. They have become complacent willing to let the entire system substitute for sincere worship from their own hearts. Just go through the motions. That is all God wants. Right? 
 
It all came crashing down. Judah conquered. The city of Jerusalem destroyed. The Temple of Solomon leveled. Surviving priests were carried off into captivity in Babylon.
 
Centuries later, Jesus would repeat Jeremiah 7:11: Matthew 21:13 ‘And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.’ Jews would have known where the verse came from. They would have known Jesus was pronouncing judgment on the Second Temple and on the priesthood just as God had Jeremiah pronounce it on the First Temple.
 
The difference was Jesus’ judgment was final. The priesthood was exterminated. The Temple was never rebuilt because God had never intended it to be an end, but a means for the people to worship Him. Henceforth the Temple would be in the broken, contrite hearts of true believers who would be the eternal Temple of God. 
 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ‘What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Foundations

Key Bible Passage: Exodus 20:12

Great care is taken measuring, digging and laying foundations. If a foundation is not right, whatever is put on top of it will be out of plumb. The whole structure will be unstable. The first week of summer football practice will go a long way to determining how successful a team will be. Discipline and order must be established. If it is not done, then it is going to be a long season. The same principle goes for the first week of school, or the first week someone is a supervisor over others. Everyone must know the rules and where they stand. Seldom does anything good come from doing otherwise.
 
Exodus 20:3-17 includes the Ten Commandments. We can read through them almost from memory. The thought occurred to me to read them backwards. We are not to covet, lie, commit adultery (We’ll come back to that one.), steal or murder. Can a society build a foundation on those five commandments? They sound good, but without the first five commandments what is the authority for obeying these commandments?
 
What are the first five commandments? I read backwards: Honor you father and mother. Honor the Sabbath day. Do not use the Lord’s name in vain. Do not make idols to worship. Have no other gods but God. These are the foundation underneath the last five commandments. These provide authority to support the last five commandments.
 
The first three commandments are ‘no-brainers’ to me. God alone is to be worshipped, nothing and nobody else. He is the foundation underneath our feet giving authority to all the other Commandments. The fourth Commandment may seem superfluous, but God knows us. He knows if we do not commit ourselves and remind ourselves of Who we worship, we won’t. We’re like that. We’re sinners. How easy it is to fall out of the discipline of making time for the Sabbath. Next thing you know our lives begin to unravel because we are not reminding ourselves each week Who we worship.
 
There is a divine purpose in the fifth commandment to: Exodus 20:12 ‘Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.’ To honor parents presupposes there are parents to honor. Parents have committed themselves to a covenant relationship of marriage. Any children they have are thus honored by their commitment to them. The child returns honor. It says, ‘father and mother,’ not father and father or mother and mother. Marriage is between man and woman. What does this accomplish? ‘That thy days may be long upon the land’ implies a life that is stable and prosperous.
 
God comes first. Worship of God comes second. Honoring the institution of marriage comes third. This is the stable foundation of life supporting the rest of the Commandments. Keeping the Commandments have no meaning if there is no God or family. A society trying to maintain itself by keeping the last five Commandments without keeping the first five will be built on sand. Jesus had something to say about that: Matthew 7:24-27 ‘Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.’
 
God is serious about the marriage covenant, very serious. He values it before any other covenant after those dealing with Him. He does not call Himself the Bridegroom by accident. He does not call His people His Bride for no reason. Godly marriage is the foundation of social order. Nothing good come of mocking it or perverting it. It is built into our nature to be man and wife because they are the foundation upon which everything else in society falls into place. Take the foundation of marriage away, and the house collapses.
 
It is in scripture. This is not a debate topic from a pulpit. This is not a matter for religious authorities to play around with to ingratiate themselves with the world and unrepentant sinners. 
 
It is the Fifth Commandment, and society better commit itself to honoring it if they know what is good for them.

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Stand Firm in Your Convictions (2/24/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
 
A person of conviction feels certain that his beliefs are true. However, it’s often the case that the things people believe are based on the current conditions or situations of their life. Then, when circumstances change, their convictions do as well. In other words, it’s not uncommon to find someone go back and forth on issues that require a firm resolve. 
 
Contrast this wishy-washy approach with the mindset of the devoted followers of God described in Scripture. Despite many years of unfair treatment, Joseph didn’t waver in his commitment to the Lord (Gen. 39:1-9). Daniel was a righteous man who earned the trust of foreign kings in an idolatrous land by standing firm in his beliefs (Dan. 6:8-28). His friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego also refused to compromise their beliefs despite the threat of death. As a result, their resolve caused the king to recognize the Lord as the one true God (Dan. 3:13-30). 
 
The godly convictions of these biblical heroes withstood the changing winds of opinion and the persuasive arguments of opponents. Unshakeable trust in God and His Word is what grounded their beliefs. Today more than ever, we need men and women who stand firm against philosophies and ideas that threaten the church. Will you commit to be bold for the Lord?

Devotional Title: Squinting Through the Fog? (2/23/22) Wednesday

Key Bible Passage: James  1:5

God knows what’s right in every circumstance. We do not. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). And yet, God installs us as decision-makers nonetheless. He intends us to struggle through, and answer, tough questions throughout our lives: Should I take the job? Should I marry the girl? Am I becoming the man or woman God intends me to become? How should I deal with pain and fear and temptation? Tough questions, indeed. Huge implications.
 
King Solomon was an epic decision-maker. God told him, “I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you” (1 Kings 3:12). Fortunately for the rest of us, Solomon passed along some of that God-given wisdom, in the form of the Book of Proverbs. 
 
For tough questions, Solomon wrote, we must look first to God (Proverbs 3:5-6). One way to do that, since he empowers us as agents of his wisdom, is actually to look to our brothers in Christian community (Proverbs 11:14; James 5:19-20). Wrote Solomon, “a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15). Counsel from other men is one of our most powerful tools. We needn’t use it for every question. But, for the toughest ones, we must.
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Gather some true believers—two or three, at least, probably not more than five or six—who know you and with whom you’ll be transparent. Plan for an hour or two. Describe your situation—the question, the background, the possible courses of action. Ask them to discern with you. . Encourage them to ask questions and help you search for wisdom. I bet you’ll be surprised before the end.

Devotional Title: Irresponsible Worry (2/22/2022) Tuesday

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 6:27

Something’s coming. Doesn’t it always feel like that? Maybe it’s something financial . . . maybe work-related . . . maybe health-related . . . definitely bad. And so, we worry. I mean, it almost feels like that’s just a part of being a man, worrying about what’s coming. We worry about all the bad things that could happen, to us and to our loved ones. We scheme about how to get out in front of all those things. Then we worry some more about whether we’re actually men enough to execute our schemes. All this worrying hangs over our lives. It haunts our thoughts and steals important moments—moments that should be joy-filled.
 
But, it would be irresponsible not to worry, wouldn’t it? We’ve been trained to worry, all our lives. We’ve been trained that men with responsibilities are supposed to worry. It’s part of manhood.
 
Or is it? Our King, Jesus Christ, teaches us that it’s actually not. You see, he didn’t come so that we’d live lives haunted by fear. He came and died to set us free from such things (Galatians 5:1). He assures us, our Father God will take care of us, whether we worry or not (Matthew 6:26). We must, therefore, adopt a radical, new mindset: “We don’t know what’s coming . . . but our Father God does. So, we’ll leave it to him.”
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Letting go of worry is tough. You must approach it not only intellectually, but practically too. You cannot simply command yourself, “worry less.” That, by itself, doesn’t work so well. You must get practical by actually talking about worries with a spouse, a friend, with brothers in community. That does work (2 Corinthians 12:9). Getting your worries out into the open is as powerful as it is counterintuitive. So, brother, defy your instincts.

Devotional Title: Experiencing God’s Goodness (2/21/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 31:19-24
 
When life is pleasant, we find praising God easy because His kindness is evident. But recognizing hardship as an expression of His care is hard. In difficult times, we need to remind ourselves of today’s passage, which tells us the Lord has stored up goodness for those who trust and obey Him. If you feel He’s benevolent only when circumstances are to your liking, then you misunderstand His nature. Those who know His character are able to see evidence of His goodness in all situations.
 
I didn’t always understand this truth. When I was growing up, my goal was to be obedient so God wouldn’t do anything bad to me. But the difficult and painful situations in my life hindered my understanding. Now as I look back, I can see His love and wisdom in allowing and using those trials to shape my character.
 
Today when God does something that I don’t like, I pour out my heart to Him. After seeking His perspective and listening, I’m filled with gratitude and trust in His character. And then I am willing to accept His wise choice for my life.
 
We live under the umbrella of God’s goodness. When circumstances and feelings tell you otherwise, rely on what you know. Throughout the day, look for signs of His loving care. As your perspective changes, then no matter which way you turn, you’ll be able to see confirmations that He is good.

Devotional Title: A Lamb Led To Slaughter (2/17/22) 

Key Bible Passage: Jeremiah 11:19

 
People raised in the Faith are indoctrinated with phrases imprinted upon them from childhood. We hear ‘like a lamb led to slaughter’ knowing it refers to Jesus’ passion and crucifixion on the cross. Researching this post, I assumed the phrase would be found in the gospel accounts of the passion and crucifixion. It is not there. Reference to expression is, but not the phrase itself.
 
The expression can be found in Isaiah’s Song of the Suffering Servant which is prophecy of the coming Messiah. Isaiah 53:6-7 ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.’ The Lord has placed the burden for our sin upon the lamb chosen for atonement. We deserve to die for our sin, but God’s grace was to provide His Lamb, the Son, to take the punishment for us. Speaking in a voice as though it is already done, Isaiah says messiah ‘is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.’ That would happen centuries in the future, but God’s decree was it was already as good as done in Isaiah’s day. 1 Peter 1:19-20 ‘But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,’ This expresses the doctrine of blood atonement of the Son, the Lamb of God, which our Faith is based upon. 
 
Jeremiah began his prophetic career roughly a generation after Isaiah. Jeremiah 10 prophesies judgment upon Judah for their idolatry. Jeremiah 11 prophesies destruction upon God’s Elect for violating the covenant God made with them. Jeremiah has a way of pouring it on, and I imagine that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Jeremiah finds out there is a plot against him. Had not God warned him, Jeremiah would never have known: Jeremiah 11:19 ‘But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.’
 
It turns out the people of Jeremiah’s hometown Anathoth are behind the conspiracy. The verses do not spell out their anger, but it probably had to do with Anathoth having become a center of pagan worship. Jeremiah was bad for business. Like people in all ages, Anathoth did not like hearing prophecies of judgment. Anathoth was probably in denial about the coming judgment on the royal house of Judah, Jerusalem and the nation. They warn Jeremiah to stop prophesying in the name of the Lord. That is the same as telling God to shut up. Jeremiah 11:22-23 ‘Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.’ 
 
The thought that came to me was where Isaiah’s ‘lamb to the slaughter’ expression comes in the context of a passage about God’s grace and mercy to the sinner, in Jeremiah the expression comes in the context of final judgment upon Jeremiah’s hometown as well as upon the entire nation.
 
The closest we get to the fulfillment of these passages in the gospels is Jesus’ silence before the Sanhedrin the night of His arrest: Mark 14:61 ‘But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ The High Priest should not have needed to ask. He knew the prophecies of messiah as well as anyone. He was in denial because Jesus was a threat to his power and position. Jesus was a threat to the Temple and the priesthood. Jesus was a threat to political stability which the Sanhedrin based its power upon. Jesus’s silence was part of the judgment upon the Sanhedrin.
 
Jesus, the Son, came to be the Lamb of God, but we overlook He was also a prophet foretelling judgment in his day just as Jeremiah had. This is not a matter of historical curiosity. This is a powerful truth we conveniently overlook. Jesus came to atone for the sins of those who accepted His atoning sacrifice. He also came to judge those who refused His gift of grace to them.
 
Our time needs to hear that aspect regarding the ‘lamb led to slaughter.’
 
by David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Our Love Life (2/17/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 7:7-11
 
God’s love has no limit, but that doesn’t mean our behavior has no boundaries. While some people may argue that rules are stifling, any good parent knows limits are essential to raising children well (Heb. 12:6-7). And so is continuing to love them when they break the rules. This may bring two questions to mind: 
 
1. Why does the Lord have so many rules? They’re designed to protect us and bring peace. But God doesn’t force obedience. The Bible neither says nor implies that we have to live up to the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount in order to be loved. (See Ex. 20:1-17; Matt. 5-7.) However, following God’s rules is the path to joy and security. 
 
2. What happens when I sin? No one is able to sin beyond the reach of God’s redemptive grace. He will always forgive. But grace is not a license to sin. The Lord will allow us to experience the consequences of sin. 
 
God loves without condition. To show His great care for mankind, He gave solid principles on which people are to build their life. His affection is in no way diminished toward those who ignore biblical rules, but His heart is grieved by their defiance. He delights in believers who seek and follow His will (1 Thess. 4:1).
 

Devotional Title: Want Impact? (2/16/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Luke 17:6
 
We want our lives to matter. We want these few days we spend here to mean something. We want some sort of impact. Well,  if we really want impact, we’ve got to allow the amplifying power of the Holy Spirit to work through us—by being willing to act in faith. When we act alone (as we so often do), we do so with our own strength. But when we act in faith, our actions are amplified by the strength of a great and powerful God. Men and women acting in faith have “stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight” (Hebrews 11:33-34).
 
The surprising thing about acting in faith is that—unlike when we act alone—it’s not our skill, nor our cleverness, that determines the magnitude of impact. When the Apostle Paul worked to start the church in Corinth, he spoke “in weakness and in fear,” lacking “plausible words of wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:3-4). He must have doubted whether he’d had any impact at all. But the church was established nonetheless. “God’s Spirit and God’s power did it,” through Paul’s seemingly unimpressive actions, taken in faith (1 Corinthians 2:3-5 MSG).
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Just do something. Choose something practical, something that fits within the great commandments (Matthew 22:36-39), and something that’s too big. Go ahead and get in over-your-head. Tackle the problem that’s been on your heart. Tell someone about your faith. Help that person who’s hard to love. Things might not turn out as you expect, of course—or with the timing you’d like. Trust, though, if you do act, you’ll begin to have the impact for which you’re meant.

Devotional Title: Our Source of Hope (2/15/22) Tuesday

Key Bible Passage: Titus 2:11-14
 
Some people believe ethical behavior and moral character will get them to heaven. Others think a self-improvement plan is the way to get there. And sadly, there are those who assume they’ll be barred because of their past mistakes. 
 
The truth is that character and deeds do not determine our eternal state. Rather, the barrier between us and holy God is our sinful nature. Adam and Eve’s sin caused all mankind to begin life spiritually dead and under a sentence of judgment (Rom. 5:12). No amount of good works or moral behavior can change our unholy nature—nor do bad choices make our nature worse. 
 
Without direct help from the Lord, the entrance to heaven would be closed to everyone, and we’d all face an eternity of separation from God. But the Father had a plan so we could live with Him forever: He sent His Son Jesus to take our sins upon Himself and receive the punishment we deserved. What we were helpless to do, Christ accomplished for us. Through faith in Him, we receive a brand-new nature and get to live in God’s presence forever. 
 
We don’t have to worry about earning our place in heaven. Because of Jesus, we can be confident of our future there, which gives our life on earth hope and meaning.

Devotional Title: May the Force . . . Be You (2/14/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Timothy 2:8-10
 
There are many forces at work in this world—forces colliding, reacting to each other, influencing one another. And we are one of them. Each of us is. The question is, though, what kind? Are we forces for goodness and generosity? I mean, is this broken, evil world better because of us? Or are we forces that are simply neutral? Or are we forces for ‘me’—for selfishness, for stockpiling, for negativity, or depravity even? 
 
These questions matter to God (Galatians 5:13-26). They should matter to us. And if we want to change our kind—or just intensify the positive force we already are—here’s a place to start: intercessory prayer. “Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 MSG).
 
God certainly wants us to use our hands to help people in need, and he wants us to use our voices to reach people who’re lost. But, since “prayer is at the bottom of all this,” wrote the Apostle Paul, what we mostly need to do is pray (1 Timothy 2:2-10 MSG). You see, intercessory prayer—praying on behalf of other people—is the most powerful thing we can do (James 5:16-18). When we do it, we lay aside our own meager strength and call upon the awesome strength of Almighty God. When we do it, we call forth the most powerful force in the universe and focus its goodness and generosity right onto other people and right into their circumstances.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Take a simple prayer walk—around your neighborhood, praying over each house; around your kids’ schools, praying over each locker; around your workplace, praying over each office and cube. Pray against pain, fear, and darkness. Pray for healing, peace, and light, all in the name of our King, Jesus Christ.

Devotional Title:  Doing Too Many Things? (2/11/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 139:16
 
There are twenty-four hours in every day. We wish for more. We often act as if there were more: stay at work a little longer; stay up a little later, cram a bit more in. No matter what we do, though . . . still only twenty-four. God’s set the length. He’s also set the absolute number of those twenty-four-hour days each of us will ever get. We often act, though, as if that too weren’t settled, as if our earthly days might stretch on forever. They won’t:
 
“Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass” (Job 14:5). 
 
Our time is scarce—it’s limited and there’s less than we’d like. How we allocate it, therefore, how we run our calendars, matters. If we’re not intentional, external factors will govern the allocation: things that are more urgent will claim top priority. The problem is, urgent things aren’t always important things. In fact, many unimportant things become urgent if we let them: e.g., we sign up for something, maybe simply because someone asked us to or because everyone else is signing up, and its demands escalate and it begins to take too much time. This happens some and we default into calendars that don’t reflect our true priorities. We end up with days filled, but with the wrong things.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Look at your weekly calendar. Grab some paper.  List the major items. Then sort it by importance (not urgency). What’s most important to you? Most important to God? Now, you begin to cut from the bottom, from what’s least important. Go up as far as you can. Cut what you can right now, and commit to phase out what you must, over time.


Devotional Title: In Times of Trouble (2/10/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 46:1-11
 
Hard times are inevitable in this life. We will lose loved ones. Some of us will face difficult ailments. We may even be wrongfully accused or mistreated. The range of human suffering is broad, but God is a refuge for those who trust Him. 
 
Today’s passage speaks of great calamities. We often feel bewildered during such trials, but having an eternal focus lifts us from despair. God is still the sovereign Lord of the universe. The key to dealing with difficulty lies in trusting the One who is in control of all things. 
 
Our natural impulse is to respond in fear and panic, but the Lord says to trust in Him through the trouble. He also tells us to surrender what we think is right, submitting instead to His plan. Unless our focus remains steady on Jesus, circumstances will overwhelm us. 
 
What is your response when hardships arise? Consider accepting difficulty as a blessing, and let it deepen your relationship with Christ. Whether your current circumstances are good or painful, remember that a time is coming when God will bring all disasters and wars to an end. In the meantime, He is our stronghold in times of trouble.

Devotional Title: Refocusing the Drive (2/09/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Luke  22:26
 
We can devote so much of our mental attention and hard work to our own greatness. We plan for advancement; strategize next moves; put our heads down and grind. Deep in our inner machinery there’s something that drives us on toward securing greatness . . . of some kind or another . . . for ourselves. Maybe it’s on a small scale. Maybe on a large scale. Maybe in our work, maybe in our communities, maybe even in our faith. The drive is just there.
 
The twelve Apostles had this drive. In the upper room, a dispute “arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest” (Luke 22:24). But Jesus stopped them and taught them (and us) that this drive must be refocused. “But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). That’s our blueprint. His life is the blueprint for our lives. We must follow it and no other. We must reject all blueprints drawn by our pride, or envy, or selfishness.
 
Refocusing this drive, away from lifting ourselves and toward lifting those around us, is one of the most important things we can do. It should move us into where we lend our strength to others, who need it, rather than use it solely for our own gain. We must trust that this is a better way to live . . . better for God, better for us, and better for those we are to love and serve.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Look around you—today, this week—for people you can serve. Keep it simple. Whom will you come into contact with, naturally? Whom do you have influence over, in the normal course of your days? Whom might you have overlooked? Ask yourself, what do they need and how can I help?

Devotional Title: Call Out or Call In? (2/8/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: John 8:32
 
We cannot mature in our faith without community. We just cannot. The process of maturing isn’t simple, isn’t smooth. It’s one of getting off track and getting on again—again and again. We need help with that. We’re designed to be together. We’re built to need one another. To “grow up healthy in God, robust in love” we need community (Ephesians 4:14-16 MSG).
 
To help, though, our communities must actually be capable of picking us up and getting us on track and encouraging us on. Our communities must be places where we’re willing to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Speaking that way requires moving beyond simply being polite to one another—and ever ignoring or excusing sin. It also requires moving beyond just pointing out sin or shortcomings or what bothers or sisters (us) or what we think might bother God.
 
Speaking the truth in love doesn’t require us to call each other out. It requires us to call each other in—into true identity. It requires us to call each other away from sin (e.g., “you don’t need to do that anymore . . .”) and into the identities God had in mind when he designed us, built us, and set us in motion (“. . . because this is who you really are”).
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Do you have a sense for the true identities of your brothers and sisters in community? Get serious about learning. Get intentional about allowing God to show you. When you meet next, have each man or woman bring a favorite story or verse from Scripture. Read them. Talk about them. They’ll point to something true. 

Devotional Title: Keeping Fueled & Aflame (2/7/22) Monday 

Key Bible Chapters:  Romans 12 and Hebrew 10
 
The author of Hebrews laid down a challenge: “. . . let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
 
Eugene Peterson translated it as, “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out” (Hebrews 10:24 MSG). What a great challenge for us, today. It dares us to engage our God-given capacities for imagining and inventing. But, it also dares to direct these capacities toward good purposes, toward God’s purposes.
 
Too often we use our imaginations to envision prosperous futures for ourselves, futures of comfort and materialism and separation . . . or . . . we use them to envision worrisome futures, futures where our worst fears come to pass. And too often, we use our inventiveness to build our own prosperity . . . or . . . to build barricades around our lives to protect ourselves from our fears.
 
What if we stopped doing that so much? What if, in faith, we were to refocus these imaginative and inventive capacities? What if we put them toward the task of keeping ourselves, and keeping those around us “fueled and aflame” (Romans 12:11-13 MSG)? What if we dedicated a few moments―every week, every month―to look at ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, and allowed ourselves to dream and create? We wouldn’t be alone. God the Holy Spirit would be right there, in those moments, guiding us, inspiring us.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
It’s not easy to change how we think and how we act. We need help. Take a few minutes to pray and listen for the Holy Spirit. Be still. Consider the question of how you might encourage “love and good deeds” in your family, among your friends, in your community. Whatever comes―if it fits within the principles of Scripture―trust it and make it happen.

Devotional Title: Testing Purifies (2/4/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Job 23:10 
 
Testing purifies, as it brings out our worst and preserves our best. It is not always easy or enjoyable, but it is necessary to stay solid in our faith. Tests come in the form of people we may not understand or have yet to totally appreciate. They may rub us the wrong way. However, this friction is what scrapes away the sin from our soul. God uses people every day to purify our hearts from pride. Tests also come in the form of taking on more responsibility at work. We have never done what we are doing, and we feel inadequate and desperate to learn. This new assignment has us crying out to God for wisdom and discernment. We fail the test if we give up. But if we persevere we will make progress and eventually reach the goal. Tests are not meant to be torture, but a time that we can claim the promises of God. His word is truth, and we are to value it more than our daily bread. Truth is designed as our survival kit during times of testing. 
 
Truth is terrific because it reminds us of the bigger picture of God’s faithfulness and plan. He allows us to experience difficulty in order to build our dependence on Him. If we lived in a highly controlled environment without crime or crisis, we would still have to live with ourselves. Our envy, lust, and pride are ever looming to snatch away our joy. 
 
It is imperative that we drink daily from the fountain of God’s Word. The Bible is our baseline for belief and behavior. Indeed, testing brings truth front and center. It turns our focus away from our pain to our hope and provision in the Lord. Understanding and applying truth make testing a blessing. We long for and receive God’s love in the heat of our testing. We are purified so that we can see Him. He is holy God and a humble servant. We see Him clearly in our crisis of faith, as testing turns us toward truth and into the arms of Jesus.
 
In some sense, your life is one big test, but its intensity is temporary. Sometimes you feel trapped by tests, as they can be smothering and discouraging. Your career transition is a test of whether your security is in prestige or in Christ. You struggle with, “What will people think?” or “Will they believe less in me, because I took a lesser role?” But the truth is, God’s will is always a step up, and this may be a test of your motives. Why do you do what you do? If it is all about you and climbing the ladder of success and financial freedom, then testing is necessary to purify your motives. Adversity brings out what is in your hearts, and that is not always pretty. 
 
God may be asking you to give up something, so He can give you something better. This test is meant to prepare you for God’s very best. Tests come down to trust. Can God still be trusted during this severe trial? You believe in your head that He can, but your heart needs to commit without reservation. How can you trust Him when circumstances seem to be swirling out of control? You trust Him one day at a time, and you trust Him with the authorities in your life that still have questions and concerns. Testing purifies your faith to a higher level of trust in the Lord. By faith, value this time of testing, and embrace it as an opportunity to be loved by your heavenly Father, for tests turn you to Him. 
 

Devotional Title: Becoming Fast & Light (2/3/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 6:2
 
Imagine being fast and light when moving through this life. Imagine being free from things that weigh you down, hold you back. Imagine being free to roam, free to rest. Imagine being free from sin and shame and striving and worry and self-doubt. Imagine being free to love, free to slow down, free to go wherever God calls you to go and to do whatever God calls you to do. 
 
That is the kind of life our King, Jesus Christ, has made available—and to which he calls us now. If he hadn’t come, we wouldn’t be able to access it. The things that encumber us would become prisons too strong for us to escape. But our King did come. He kicked open the prison doors. He knocked down the prison walls. He did what we could never do. He set us free (Galatians 5:1). Now we must do our part.
 
Because we find ourselves without prison walls, we’ve got to stop acting like prisoners and lay down prisoner habits and prisoner beliefs (Hebrews 12:1). We must adopt the practices of free children, children  who’re fast and light . . . able to live transparent lives, free from hiding and posing, free to confess struggles and sin openly in community . . . able to make decisions with our lives and our families that align with our King, though probably not with our culture . . . and able to stop and care and help and love people, especially those in need.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
What weighs you down? What holds you back? Spend a moment praying and reflecting. Trust that God the Holy Spirit will guide your thoughts. Now, make two lists. On the left, name your top encumbrances—old sin habits, old beliefs. On the right, specify how you’ll commit to laying them down.

Devotional Title: The 2m Radius Challenge (2/2/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Haggai 1:5
 
God loves us with fierceness and tenderness. The scope of his love is shocking. It’s infinite, in fact—because he is. It burns bright and hot and true. We couldn’t ever plot it on a graph, of course—because no one could draw a y-axis that high or an x-axis that long; no page, no screen could ever contain it. But if we could plot his love, the line would be high and perfectly flat. It wouldn’t fluctuate over time. Not in response to our actions, our best or even our worst. Not even a little (Psalm 103:8; Lamentations 3:22-23). 
 
But He does tell us what kind of actions he most prefers, the kind that bring joy—to us and to him. And it’s less about hours logged in pews on Sundays or how many times we read through the Gospels. What regulates his joy—and ours—is how we treat people around us. It’s if we’re kind, and how well we notice and meet the needs of people in our close proximity.
 
“Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity” (Luke 6:37-38 MSG).
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
Throughout your day, today, imagine a circle—one with a 2-meter radius, you at the center. Notice who comes into that circle. Learn their names. Treat them with care and notice their needs—friendship, mercy, love, hope—and consider how you might help meet those needs.
 
(There’s nothing special about 2m. What matters is increasing intentionality. And, truly, we could spend our entire lifetime just trying to meet the needs of people who’d come into his 2m circle—so, it’s a good place to start.)

Devotional Title: Dead in Our Sins (2/1/22) Tues Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 2:1-2

‘Dead man walking’ refers to a person on death row preparing to have the sentence carried out. We think, ‘they’ve got it coming to them.’ Each of us can provide an example of someone who deserves a death sentence. Whether he was correct or not, Nathan Bedford Forrest once said, ‘some men need killin.’ 
 
It is alarming to read: (NIV) ‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is not at work in those who are disobedient.’ Paul is not using a turn-of-phrase. Paul is speaking a Spiritual reality we would rather not confront. Every one of us is a dead man walking. Apart from the atoning Blood of the Savior, we are as good as dead, because we are facing eternal death.
 
Apart from Christ, we serve and follow the ways of the world which all lead to sin and death. We see it at work in us through our disobedience. Let believers confess they cannot be complacent about these things as though we are now immune to them. We are tempted by mayhem and sin of all sorts every day of our lives. Satan loves to torment us with temptation because he knows that sin nature of death lurks in us. That is why obedience is our guardian and guide. The Holy Spirit provides both discernment about sin, and endurance not to sin. Otherwise, we are just as dead as the worst heathen we can think of.
 
We would rather not hear this in the pews. We would rather forget this, and many of us do not appreciate it when the preacher reminds us. The preacher will also remind us: Romans 5:8 ‘But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ The death sentence we justly deserve has been carried out on Jesus. The Son willingly gave Himself up to death, so we might have eternal life. We belong on the Cross, not Him. Romans 5:9 ‘Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.’ The Blood shed is God’s. 
 
Apart from the Blood, we are dead. The Work of the Cross redeems us. We never redeem ourselves. How can we? We are dead. That is Paul’s point. How can a dead man save himself? The idea we can choose our salvation is flies in face of Spiritual reality. It is Spiritual realities Paul is speaking of, not worldly appearances. Some might say Spiritual realities do not matter compared to worldly appearances. As they say, ‘it is a free country,’ but apart from Christ every one of us will die because we are already Spiritually dead. 
 
It is the Holy Spirit that gives life: John 6:63 ‘It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.’ We face the choice of accepting the sacrifice of atonement made for us and the Holy Spirit sent as our guarantee of salvation, or we remain dead in our sins eternally. 
 
Enemies to Christ call our faith a dreary thing with blood and fear of death. They convict themselves. Our faith is we no longer need blood to try to save ourselves. Christ’s Blood put an end to that futility. We do not fear death, because we have Life Eternal, the Holy Spirit, living in our hearts.
 
If there is a point to this post, it is we must embrace the Spiritual reality of death to be equipped to overcome it. If we do not think we are dead in our sins, then we will not think we need to be brought to life by the Blood of the Savior.
 
Stop kidding yourself if you are not a believer. You are not ‘as good as dead;’ you are dead. You just do not know it yet, but you will. The prayer is the Spirit will convict you of your condition, and move you to receive what Christ offers on your behalf.
 

Devotionals Title: Praying Effectively (1/31/22) Monday  

Key Bible Passage: 1 Kings 18:17-39 
 
God has given us the privilege of coming to Him with all our requests and concerns. And His Word tells us the prayers of a righteous person can accomplish much (James 5:16). Isn’t that what we all desire? 
 
Elijah is a good example of someone who prayed effectively. He entered into a spiritual conflict with Baal worshippers to prove to Israel that the Lord is the one true God. Elijah’s petition was based on his knowledge of the Lord’s supremacy and an understanding of His will. When the prophet prayed, God responded by powerfully answering the request.
 
To have an effective prayer life, we must first be righteous through saving faith in Jesus Christ. Before redemption, we were sinners under God’s condemnation (Eph. 2:1-3). But in Christ, we are made new and declared righteous in His sight (Eph. 2:4-6). 
 
For our petitions to be effectual, they must be in agreement with God’s will (1 John 5:14-15). Getting to know our heavenly Father’s character and priorities is the key to a powerful prayer life. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, our requests will increasingly align with His plans. 

Devotional Title: Hunger and Thirst for God (1/28/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 63:1-11
 
David’s love for the Lord inspires us to want that same kind of relationship ourselves. But where does such passion for God come from? It’s not manufactured or created by effort or willpower, nor can we work ourselves into a genuine emotional state of yearning. Love for God comes only from Him, as a gift to those who belong to Christ (1 John 4:19).
 
This means the only ones who can truly hunger and thirst for God are believers. The rest of the people yearn for other things—like wealth, security, control, or prominence—which they mistakenly think will satisfy their soul. Many go through life trying to create whatever kind of personal connections they can, in hopes of fulfilling desires they don’t even understand. All too often, the result is empty relationships, excessive work, and immoral behavior. 
 
David knew God was the only solution to the constant yearning in his heart. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in [Him].” Are you feeling empty from trying to satisfy your soul with something other than the Lord? Come to Him with all your heart, and discover the fullness He offers.

Devotional Title: You Belong to God (1/27/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 6:17-20
 
In an age that emphasizes personal rights, it may be startling to realize that as believers in Jesus, we belong—body, soul, and spirit—to Him, not to ourselves. This means we aren’t free to do whatever we please but are called to live in obedience to the One who redeemed us with His precious blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19). The New Testament uses a lot of language that speaks of Christ’s ownership. In fact, Paul called himself a “bond-servant of Christ,” which literally means the Lord’s slave (Gal. 1:10). 
 
We may be quick to believe this intellectually because belonging to Christ is a comforting thought. But how does it work out practically? Our bodies are wonderful gifts from God that enable us to interact with our world and one another, but they are also temples of His Holy Spirit. This means our mind, will, desires, affections, relationships, and possessions are all means by which we either honor or dishonor our Savior. 
 
To please the Lord, we need to change how we think. Our natural tendency is to simply do what we want in any given situation. But the best response is to consider how we can glorify God.

Devotional Title: Putting On Christ (1/26/22) Weds

Key Bible Passage: Galatians 3:27

It may seem like an odd way to start this article, but Jesus cautioned His disciples against worry: Luke 12:22 ‘And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.’ The expression ‘put on’ refers to what a person wears. It translates a Greek word from which we get the word ‘endowed.’ Jesus’ point to His disciples was not to let material well-being get in the way of their call to spread the gospel. God will provide them whatever they need to survive, so they are to devote themselves entirely to spreading the gospel.

 
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the son returns convicted and repentant confessing he is not worthy because he squandered the inheritance his father has given him. His father’s response is: Luke 15:22 ‘But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:’ The expression ‘put it on him’ uses the same Greek word as ‘put on’ in Luke 12:22. The word literally means to be clothed, or to wear something over yourself.
 
Paul refers to believers as sons of God in: Galatians 3:27 ‘For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.’ The NIV version of that verse says, ‘clothed yourselves with Christ.’ It is a powerful expression that can be taken in many directions. We take off what we were, and put on what Christ intends to clothe us with. We cover our sinful nature with Jesus. 
 
For Paul, it is not just a figure of speech. The ‘clothing’ that is taking place is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: John 14:26 ‘But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.’ We are equipped with the Holy Spirit. He is not just a cloak to protect us, but an article of clothing that transforms us.
 
Read how Paul uses the expression ‘put on:’ Ephesians 4:24 ‘And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.’ The ‘new man’ is the Second Adam, Jesus. We are dressed in Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:54 ‘So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.’ Dressed in the Person of the Holy Spirit, we have eternal life. God has equipped us to have victory over death. 
 
Colossians 3:12-14 ‘Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.’ When we put on Christ, Christ expects us to exhibit behaviors and attitudes reflecting Who we are dressed in. 
 
When we contemplate what Jesus and Paul are saying, we realize a transformation is expected: Romans 12:2 ‘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.’ The word ‘conformed’ means to fashion or fit a pattern. When we put on Christ, we are being fashioned to be Christ to the world.
 
How many want to raise their hands and say they have achieved that? I cannot. It is a constant challenge to remember Who we are clothed in and act accordingly. It is a constant challenge to remember we are to do not to draw attention to ourselves, but draw attention to the One Who has dressed us. 
 
We put on Christ to glorify Him to the world.
 

Devotional Title: Your Next Chapter (1/25/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:17
 
We write with God all the time. Working alongside him, we write the stories of our lives. He creates the settings and the characters. He creates the conflicts—the situations requiring choices. And we get to make those choices as the characters in his stories. God may encourage us, invite us, surprise us, persuade us, challenge us, convict us—but we and we alone decide, for ourselves.
 
As we move along in our stories, as we live them out, we sometimes try to convince ourselves that some decisions aren’t actually written down or that we can selectively somehow strike decisions from our stories, after we’ve made them. Looking forward, we tell ourselves, “no one will know.” Looking back, we think, “no one can ever know.” The truth is, every decision is captured: large, small, good, bad. Every decision is written into our stories, immediately, indelibly.
 
Thankfully, the plot God intends for us involves making some mistakes, some bad decisions, but learning from them and allowing him to redeem them. He can, you know, redeem even the worst decisions (Romans 8:28). What we must do, going forward, is to keep our stories in mind, when we come upon decision points. What we must do is ask ourselves, at those points, “What decisions do we want written, permanently, into our stories?” Asking ourselves that, in those moments, is how we begin to lay aside our old selves and put on our new selves (Ephesians 4:22-24).
 
Okay, so what do we do?
 
When you come to a next decision point—today, tomorrow—ask yourself, before you decide, “What do I want written into my story?” Ask yourself, “What do I want the next chapter of my story to be about? Trust or mistrust? Selflessness or selfishness? Love or resentment? Maturity or immaturity? Redemption or sin?”

Devotional Title: Praying Effectively (1/24/22) Monday

Key Bible Passage: I Kings 18:17-39 

God has given us the privilege of coming to Him with all our requests and concerns. And His Word tells us the prayers of a righteous person can accomplish much (James 5:16). Isn’t that what we all desire? 
 
Elijah is a good example of someone who prayed effectively. He entered into a spiritual conflict with Baal worshippers to prove to Israel that the Lord is the one true God. Elijah’s petition was based on his knowledge of the Lord’s supremacy and an understanding of His will. When the prophet prayed, God responded by powerfully answering the request.
 
To have an effective prayer life, we must first be righteous through saving faith in Jesus Christ. Before redemption, we were sinners under God’s condemnation (Eph. 2:1-3). But in Christ, we are made new and declared righteous in His sight (Eph. 2:4-6). 
 
For our petitions to be effectual, they must be in agreement with God’s will (1 John 5:14-15). Getting to know our heavenly Father’s character and priorities is the key to a powerful prayer life. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, our requests will increasingly align with His plans.

Devotional Title: Devotion in Despair (1/21/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 42:1-8
 
Where do you turn in times of trouble? For believers, the first response should be to cry out to the Lord for help. That’s exactly what we see in today’s passage. When the psalmist was in despair, his soul yearned for God. He knew that even in raging adversity, he could count on the Lord’s unfailing love being poured out on him (Psalm 42:8). It was a truth that gave him hope and the ability to praise the Lord, even in the midst of his trouble.
 
This is a recurring theme in the psalms, many of which begin with images of despair and hopelessness but end with affirmations of God’s unfailing love. He’s often described as a rock, a stronghold, or a refuge in times of trouble. 
 
When you are overwhelmed by difficulty and despair, turn to the psalms for encouragement and restoration of hope. In good times, we can easily grow distant from God, but adversity drives us to draw near Him with yearning—not just for deliverance but for intimacy with our loving Father. Then as we read about His love and faithfulness, we find hope and a sure foundation upon which to rest.
 
Devotionals Title: Who Are Your Enemies? (1/20/22) Thursday 
Key Bible Passage: Luke 6:27-28
 
Who are your enemies? Do you have any? Who hates you? Anyone? Most of us would probably answer, no. We might even conclude that these words, spoken so long ago, have become a little irrelevant in our present, everyday lives. And we might try to just move on to the next set of instructions. But, should we? Can we? The answer is, absolutely not. These particular instructions are as relevant to us, right now, as they are challenging—and as they are important. Our King, Jesus Christ, is simply calling on us to love even those who are hardest to love. And we know people like that. 
 
Who’s mistreated you? Who’s let you down? Who’s taken advantage of you? Maybe someone at work? A family member? A friend? A neighbor? Someone you barely know? “Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst” (Luke 6:27-30 MSG).
 
We must treat well those who’ve treated us badly (Luke 6:27-29). We must help those who will never help us back (Luke 6:31-34). We must be generous to those who are anything but (Luke 6:29-30). And we must be merciful to them all (Matthew 6:14-15). But, not only that, we must be merciful again and again and again (Matthew 18:21-22). You see, what Jesus is teaching us—what we must grasp and embrace—is that we don’t fight evil with yet more evil; we fight evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Who’d be the hardest person for you to pray for? Got him? Got her in mind? Okay, that’s your person. Pray for them. Let God the Holy Spirit lead you in how to pray. Pray tomorrow too. Write their name down and pray for them every day for a week, at least.

Devotional Title: Got Risk . . . Discomfort? (1/19/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 84:10
 
Years spent in luxury and comfort can’t compare to one day spent with God—in his presence; experiencing his love; living his truth; doing his work. And, astonishingly, God doesn’t offer us just single days . . . mere glimpses, fleeting encounters. He offers himself “more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20-21). He offers all of himself, all the time—as much as we want, as much as we choose. 
 
One proven method of choosing him is to strip away worldly comfort, strip away predictability and self-sufficiency . . . and intentionally move into situations we can’t handle on our own. Jesus sent his disciples into such situations: “I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3). He told them to travel light and resist taking anything that could provide comfort, predictability, self-sufficiency: money, extra clothing, extra stuff (Luke 10:4). They had to rely on him. And they returned full of joy (Luke 10:17). Because they’d been willing to move, in faith, into risk and discomfort, they got to spend precious days with God. Jesus told them:
 
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23-24).
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
Ask yourself, what am I doing—right now—that requires faith? We get used to choosing risk and discomfort by practicing. So, look for ways to practice, this. Look today for what moves your heart. Reach out to someone who needs help. Spend time with someone who needs a friend. Commit to a service project. Sign-up for a short-term mission trip. If you do, you’ll too have great stories to tell.

Devotional Title: A Small Matter of Obedience (1/18/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Luke 5:1-11
 
Do you consider some of God’s commands more important than others? For instance, most people would never commit murder, but many think it’s okay to harbor anger towards someone. Yet Jesus said that both actions are wrong because they flow from the same sinful attitude (Matt. 5:21-22). Nothing the Lord tells us to do is insignificant—though we may not always recognize the importance of obedience in what we consider small matters. 
 
Consider today’s passage about Jesus asking to use Peter’s boat as a speaking platform. After a long night of unproductive fishing, the future apostle could have seen the request as inconsequential and hardly worth the inconvenience. But he obeyed in this small matter, not realizing the impact that simple act of obedience would have on his life—it was the first step to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. 
 
As God’s children, we should seek His direction in daily situations. That’s why it is so important for us fill to our mind with His Word—then we can more easily discern what He desires for us. As we stay attuned to Scripture and heed the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we’ll be able to faithfully obey Him throughout each day.

Devotional Title: The Thrill of Obedience (1/14/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 40:6-8
 
Some Christians view obeying God only as a way to avoid the negative consequences of disobedience. But if this is our thinking, then obedience becomes a heavy burden rather than an exciting adventure motivated by love for Jesus Christ and a desire to please Him.  
 
The reason some of us see following the Lord as a burden is because we tend to think of His will in terms of big and potentially costly decisions. But doing God’s will isn’t just about large issues; it’s also daily obedience in small matters of life. Philippians 4:6 tells us not to be anxious about anything but to pray about everything. In bringing even fairly mundane concerns to the Lord, we’re being trained to trust and obey Him in more critical matters. 
 
The Christian life is a walk of faith—one step of obedience after another. Though we may think the situations we face are unrelated, the Lord moves us through a variety of circumstances toward His ultimate purpose. If, for the sake of safety, we back off from obeying, we’ll miss the opportunity to experience His awesome power working in and through us. Small choices may seem insignificant, but they lead to a thrilling lifelong journey with God.

Devotional Title: Renewed Youth (1/13/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passages: Genesis 18:1-15; Genesis 21:1-7

Have you been waiting for God to do something about a situation in your life? Perhaps you’ve prayed about it for years or even decades, yet nothing has changed. If that’s the case, you may at this point feel hope is gone.

That’s probably how Sarah felt. Though God had promised to give Abraham a son, the aged couple remained childless. So when the Lord told Abraham that Sarah would have a son the following year, she laughed—not with joy, but with skepticism, saying, “After I have become old, am I to have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (Gen. 18:12). Thinking it was too late for God to keep His promise, she had lost her hope.

The next year, however, when Sarah held Isaac in her arms, she laughed with the joy that comes from seeing God keep His promise (Gen. 21:6). Her youthful outlook was renewed by experiencing the Lord’s faithfulness, and He will do the same for you. But even if He doesn’t give the specific answer to prayer that you desire, one thing is certain: God is just as faithful to you as He was to Sarah. Remember that He sees the future and knows each of us better than we know ourselves—and will answer prayer accordingly in order to give us what is best. Let this truth rejuvenate your flagging spirit and fill your heart with joy.

Devotional Title: Cast Me Not Away (1/12/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 51:11

The introduction in my Bible to Psalm 51 says it was David’s plea for mercy, forgiveness and cleansing. It was written in the wake of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, and his atrocious treatment of Bathsheba’s husband.

The introduction comments God wants our hearts to be right with Him, but we read: Psalms 51:11 ‘Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.’ Something in David knows that apart from the presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit he cannot be in God’s presence. We might turn that comment around to say God’s Presence cannot be in us without the presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit.

The Person of the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each Person is fully God. Each Person fulfills a function within the Godhead. Something in David makes him understand he cannot be in right relation to God without the presence of the Holy Spirit. That is why David begs, ‘take not thy holy spirit from me.’

The Holy Spirit came and went in the Old Testament. There are too many citations to list, but we often read of the Spirit coming upon someone, be they a ruler, prophet or just a person involved in a great event. We also read the Spirit left when His work was done. The Holy Spirit was not a constant Presence of God in the hearts of men.

We go into detail about this because in light of the Incarnation of the Son, something momentous has occurred. Prophesying the deliverance of God’s Elect, God has Ezekiel say: Ezekiel 36:26-27 ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.’ Joel prophesied: Joel 2:27-28 ‘And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:’ The prophecy was the Holy Spirit would come and stay in believers. The Person of the Holy Spirit would be God living in the hearts of His children. God would never again come and go, rather be with them eternally.

Jesus promised the send the Holy Spirit in John 14:26 and John 15:26. Sure enough, we can read of all this being fulfilled at Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. The Holy Spirit can never again be cast away. The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity who equips us on our walk of faith, but the Holy Spirit is also proof of our salvation and eternal life: Ephesians 1:13-14 ‘In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.’ We can never die because the Person of the Holy Spirit is eternal. The presence of the Holy Spirit proves it. We can never be cast away, because Jesus only sends the Spirit to those who He intends to have with Him in eternity. At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed: John 17:9-10 ‘I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

Never underestimate the importance and power of the Holy Spirit. God lives in you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Devotional Title: The Blessings of Inadequacy (1/11/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Most of us assume that feelings of inadequacy are enemies to be subdued, but God uses our weaknesses to display His glory. Even though we love feeling confident and bold, this kind of self-reliance is the opposite of humility. Despite all his great knowledge and varied gifts, Paul knew he was not sufficient for the tasks the Lord had called him to accomplish. When he spoke of his ministry, the apostle said, “I also labor, striving according to [Christ’s] power which works mightily within me” (Col. 1:29).

Inadequacy reveals where we lack ability and drives us to dependence upon the Lord. He works in our weakness to accomplish His purposes in and through us. Therefore, we shouldn’t surrender to our failings by letting them hinder us from even trying to serve the Lord. Nor should we try to pump up our self-confidence with pep talks and self-affirmation. Instead, our inadequacies are designed to humble us so we’ll turn to the Lord for strength.

When we depend on Him in humility, “the extraordinary greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:7). Then all the praise and glory go to Him.

Devotional Title: Wait Patiently for the Lord (1/10/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 40:1-5

Practicing patience is difficult because it often goes against our expectations and desires for immediate results. This is especially true when we are waiting on the Lord and His timetable doesn’t match our own. In such situations, it’s important to remember we can’t go wrong waiting for Him. Blessings will come in God’s good time when we refuse to run ahead of Him.

We ask the Lord for what we think we need, based on our limited information. But His understanding is infinite. At times God simply says no to our requests. In other cases, He may adjust our desire to match His. And sometimes He answers in a way that looks nothing like what we requested, but it will be exactly what we need. A submissive heart accepts the omnipotent Father’s gentle redirection, recognizing that He is always right.

Waiting patiently on the Lord strengthens our faith in Him: We learn to rest in His loving care and accept that whatever He gives us is best. It’s also a witness to others, who see His care and faithfulness to us and may choose to put their trust in Him as well.

Devotional Title: The Spirit Within Us (1/7/22) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 8:1-17

If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit is at work in you whether you feel His presence or not. He’s conforming Christians to the image of the Savior, and the evidence of this transformation is known as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). These godly character traits are not something we can generate on our own but are divinely produced in us as we yield to the Spirit and walk obediently with Him.

We should never underestimate the impact of spiritual fruit when unbelievers observe how we respond to pressure, temptation, suffering, or an avalanche of problems. By demonstrating peace rather than anxiety or practicing patience instead of speaking a sharp word, we bear witness to the beauty of the gospel.

One way God uses Spirit-filled lives is to create curiosity in the unbeliever—and an openness to the message of salvation. Wherever you are or whatever you do, you can be powerful witness for Jesus Christ when you walk obediently with the Holy Spirit each day.

Devotional Title: The Reason for Our Boldness (1/6/22) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 1:8-17

Even though Christians are familiar with the gospel, many are reluctant to share their faith. One reason is because they don’t feel capable of explaining it well and are afraid of negative reactions or questions they’ll be unable to answer. But we must remember that God has given us the most important message in the world.

The apostle Paul welcomed every opportunity to tell people about Christ. That’s because he personally experienced the gospel’s life-changing power and made that his focus rather than the negative reactions he might encounter. Oftentimes the reason we’re ashamed to talk about our faith is that we’re concerned about ourselves. But if we begin to look at people who are lost and ask God to open a door for us to share our faith, He will answer that prayer.

We tend to be distracted by temporal activities that eventually fade away. But souls are forever, and people need to know the Savior. That’s why it’s important for us to understand the gospel well enough to present it with confidence and boldness. We can’t let fear or ignorance keep us from giving a lost world the only message that can change a person’s eternal destiny.

Devotional Title: A Prayer Burden (1/5/22) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Nehemiah 2:1-8
 
Christians use the word burden to refer to a spiritual weight placed on their heart, usually because God wants their attention focused on a certain matter. For example, Nehemiah was burdened to intercede for the Jewish people left vulnerable by Jerusalem’s crumbling walls. The Lord already knew the Israelites’ troubles, so He certainly didn’t need the prayers of this one man. Rather, the burden was for Nehemiah’s sake. He made himself available for God to use as a conduit and thereby tapped into a reservoir of compassion. So great was Nehemiah’s love for his countrymen that he set aside his fear and addressed the Persian king about the help they needed. 
 
Bearing each other’s burdens is one way we can strengthen the church. It’s human nature to feel connected with those we’ve helped. That’s true even of the people who never discover that we have interceded. In this way, God knits believers together to make up a cohesive whole, which He calls the “body of Christ” (Rom. 12:5). 
 
Our heavenly Father is looking for people willing to be burdened for their brothers and sisters in the Lord. I challenge you: Make yourself available to intercede on behalf of someone else. Strengthening the body of Christ is an awesome privilege.

Devotional Title: Hunger and Thirst for God (1/4/22) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 63:1-11
 
David’s love for the Lord inspires us to want that same kind of relationship ourselves. But where does such passion for God come from? It’s not manufactured or created by effort or willpower, nor can we work ourselves into a genuine emotional state of yearning. Love for God comes only from Him, as a gift to those who belong to Christ (1 John 4:19).
 
This means the only ones who can truly hunger and thirst for God are believers. The rest of the people yearn for other things—like wealth, security, control, or prominence—which they mistakenly think will satisfy their soul. Many go through life trying to create whatever kind of personal connections they can, in hopes of fulfilling desires they don’t even understand. All too often, the result is empty relationships, excessive work, and immoral behavior. 
 
David knew God was the only solution to the constant yearning in his heart. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in [Him].” Are you feeling empty from trying to satisfy your soul with something other than the Lord? Come to Him with all your heart, and discover the fullness He offers.

Devotional Title:  The Impact of Prayer (1/3/22) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 139:23-24

When we think about prayer, we frequently focus on what we want the Lord to do for us or others, but communing with Him also impacts us in spiritual ways that we may not realize. Scripture tells us to devote ourselves to prayer and to pray without ceasing (Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17). Continuous conversations with our heavenly Father are one of the means He uses to impact us personally.

Prayer changes us. As we seek the Lord and regularly spend time in His Word, we’ll be transformed. Our desires will be replaced by His, and our thinking will align more closely with His thoughts. As our understanding of His character grows, we’ll have a better idea of how to pray in accordance with His will.

Through prayer, we invite God to accomplish His work in us. While we can’t alter a single divine plan or make the Lord change His mind, we can invite Him to alter us. In prayer, we submit to God’s will, repent of sin, and ask Him to shape us into the image of His Son. And He will hear and answer this kind of prayer because it is exactly what He desires to do in each of us.

Last Year 2021 Devotionals: 

Devotional Title: In Tune With The Master (12/31/21) Friday

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 32:7 

Out West an old sheepherder had a violin, but it was out of tune. He had no way of tuning it, so in desperation he wrote to one of the radio stations and asked them at a certain hour on a certain day to strike the tone “A.” The officials of the station decided they would accommodate the old fellow, and on that particular day the true tone of “A” was broadcast. His fiddle was thus tuned, and once more his cabin echoed with joyful music. 

When we live apart from God, our live get out of tune–out of harmony with others and with God. But if we live in tune with the Master, we, too, will find ourselves surrounded by His beautiful music. 

As this new year begins, ask God to help you tune your life every day to His Word, so you can bring harmony and joy to those around you. 

Devotional Title: Grace for Times of Trouble (12/30/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Trouble is an ever-present reality in this fallen world, and there is no way to totally escape its grip. As believers in Jesus Christ, we usually turn to the Lord, praying that He will change the situation and release us from its clutches. That’s what Paul did when he suffered from what he called a “thorn in the flesh.” On three different occasions, he asked for it to be removed; however, the Lord’s final answer was that the thorn would remain.

The sufferings that the Lord allows in our life are given to us for His good purpose. The apostle’s thorn was designed to provide him with precisely what he needed—humility. The Lord likewise has care and concern for us, and His intention is for our benefit. When He says no to our requests for relief, He says yes to something even greater: His all-sufficient grace.

Perhaps you are in a season of adversity right now. Do you trust the Lord with your thorns, or are you trying to pull them out? Whenever God allows suffering to remain, He gives grace to endure it. Cooperate with Him and exult in His loving wisdom and sufficiency.

Devotional Title:  The Obstacle of Discouragement (12/29/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 42:1-5

We all have expectations, and if our hopes fail to materialize, we feel disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with this emotion as long as we don’t let it become all-consuming despair. In such a state of mind, we might find our circumstances dominate us, which can lead to sinful responses.

For example, we may become angry at God because we think He has let us down. When that’s the case, we’re essentially saying we know better and the Lord should have worked the situation out according to our desires. Can you see the pride in such thinking? Certainly He doesn’t expect us to be happy about our adversity. But as difficult as it is, we need to humble ourselves under His sovereign hand and accept that He has jurisdiction over both our joys and our trials. This attitude becomes possible once we realize everything that happens is designed for our good so that we can become more like Christ.

When life deals you a painful blow and your soul is in despair, turn your eyes away from your situation and place them on the Lord. Put your hope in Him, knowing that difficulties and suffering are temporary. Hopefully there will soon come a time when you again joyfully praise Him here on earth, as all His children will do eternally in heaven.

Devotional Title: Do Not Mock God (12/28/2021) 

Key Bible Passage: Galatians 6:7 

Paul is encouraging believers to reveal Christ by their behavior and attitude. We must test ourselves meaning, discern whether our words and deeds conform to what Christ expects them to be. It is practical advice for daily living, but Paul makes sure we understand how serious God is about our witness. Galatians 6:7 ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’ What we say and do reflects upon God. God’s honor is at stake by how we claim to live in His Name. If we ‘sow’ falsely in His name, then we reap the whirlwind.
 
Hosea wrote of judgment that had come upon Israel: Hosea 8:7-8 ‘For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up. Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.’ Israel has not born fruit, but if any is born, then someone else will have it. Though they were created to be a ‘vessel’ serving God, they will find no pleasure as such vessels since they have dishonored Him.
 
It goes back to the Commandment: Exodus 20:7 ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.’ We are not to swear oaths putting God’s honor at stake, because if we do then God holds us accountable for not keeping our end of the bargain. Speaking of coming judgment upon Jerusalem, God says: Zephaniah 1:12 ‘And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.’ Complacent people mindlessly make promises invoking God thinking nothing will come of it if we happen to dishonor God with our attitude and behavior.
 
‘Oh, I can do what I want as long as I do not swear an oath on God’s honor.’ When a believer professes faith, they are entering into an eternal covenant with God. We make an oath to God when we profess faith in Him. Everything we do and say after that reflects upon God’s honor. Exodus 20:7 is in effect ’24/7.’ 
 
That is the background to Paul’s statement in Galatians 6:7. Being a believer is a very serious business, and we better take it seriously because God does. It is not a suggestion or talking point from God. It is a Commandment of God to those who claim to be His Elect, chosen by Him. What does it say for our claim to have faith in the work of Christ on the Cross if we bring dishonor upon Him by how we live? 
 
We best not cast aspersions on that by our witness and testimony.


Devotional Title: Quieting Your Soul (12/23/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 131
 
Do you hurry through your prayer time so you can get to other things? If so, consider the values Jesus modeled when He spent time with His Father. 
 
Solitude. Though Jesus was constantly surrounded by people as He tended to their needs, His own need for seclusion was important. Often, after an intense period of ministry, He’d retreat from the crowds—and even His disciples—to pray in private. 
 
Safeguarded time. Jesus protected His time so He could rest in the Spirit, be with the Father, and build up physical and emotional strength. Even when people were clamoring for His attention, Jesus safeguarded this time, knowing that His ministry would flow from it. 
 
Stillness.Psalm 46:10 calls us to quietness with these words: “Stop striving and know that I am God.” To develop this inner peace, stop everything you’re doing, and let your soul become aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In Psalm 46:2 of today’s reading, David described stillness as being like a “weaned child” who’s at perfect rest and happy in his mother’s arms. 
 
These values may seem challenging in our fast-paced, multitasking world. But when you quiet your heart before the Lord, you’ll discover how much you need the peace of His presence.

Devotional Title:  Finding Strength in Weakness (12/22/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Judges 16
 
Great strength is no guarantee of protection from temptation. Although Samson had God-given power, he was defeated by a personal weakness. In the same way, we as Christians have the omnipotent Holy Spirit to enable us to live righteously. But as broken beings, we’re bound to make mistakes along the way, as Samson did. 
 
Our best defense against temptation is reliance upon the Word and power of God. If we’ll turn to Him in our weakness—filling our mind with His truth and asking His Holy Spirit for guidance and protection—He will strengthen us to resist. But we must also be aware of our areas of vulnerability and take care to avoid situations that increase temptation. 
 
It’s also helpful to prepare for temptation beforehand by memorizing scriptures that refute the lies Satan throws at us. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He answered every enticement with biblical truth (Matt. 4:1-11).
 
And finally, don’t forget to pray immediately when unholy desires threaten to carry you away. Ask the Lord to give you the fortitude and wisdom to walk away from temptation and turn to Him for strength.


Devotional Title: Salt of the Earth (12/21/21) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 5:13-16
 
When Jesus spoke to His followers, He called them “the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). In those days, salt was the only way to preserve food. As Christians, we too have a preserving effect on the earth because we have the only message that can deliver people from the corruption of sin and give them eternal life. 
 
This means we are to be a spiritual influence in the lives of people around us. Just as salt enhances the flavor of food, so a Christlike character and godly lifestyle can be an example that draws others to the Savior. They’ll notice our joy and contentment and may desire to have those qualities, which are available only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. 
 
Salt also has unique healing properties, as does the gospel. If we take a moment to listen to people’s hurts, we’ll have an opportunity to offer the truth that brings spiritual healing to those trapped in the darkness and despair of sin.  
 
But remember that Jesus also warned us not to lose our saltiness. If we tolerate sin in our life, we’ll be just like the world. To be a positive influence for Christ, we must guard against falling prey to temptation.

Devotional Title:  Our Eyes Are on God (12/20/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Chronicles 20:1-13
 
How do you respond in times of crisis? If you’re like most people, it’s probable that your attention is immediately focused on the situation rather than on God. But by forgetting the Lord and relying on your own resources to solve the problem, you’ll miss the opportunity for trust in Him to grow.
 
If King Jehoshaphat had wrung his hands in fear instead of concentrating on God’s greatness and past provision, Jerusalem might have been captured by the invading armies. But he turned to the Lord, knowing that no problem was bigger than the God of heaven. In his prayer, Jehoshaphat magnified the Lord’s greatness, recalled His mighty works, and asked for divine protection. Trusting God with the dire situation, the king said, “Our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
 
When you encounter trouble and distress and don’t know what to do, remember this moment in Jehoshaphat’s life, and fix your eyes on your mighty God. Read a passage of Scripture that describes His greatness, recount all the ways He has led and protected you, and ask Him to accomplish His good will in this situation. Then rest in His faithfulness, trusting Him to guide you.

Devotional Title: Focusing on God’s endless power puts our problems into perspective. (12/17/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Chronicles 20:1-17
 
In Scripture, we find examples of people who prayed with spiritual authority, and King Jehoshaphat is one of them. When he heard that a great army was coming against Judah, he immediately turned to the Lord for help. His example teaches us important lessons about praying powerfully. For instance, he … 
 
Sought the Lord. Instead of relying on his own ability to conquer Israel’s enemies, Jehoshaphat took a different approach and immediately looked to God. 

Focused on God, not the problem. The king acknowledged that the Lord was ruler over all the kingdoms and no one could stand against Him.  
Remembered God’s past faithfulness. Jehoshaphat’s prayer recalled ways that the Lord had protected Israel in the past. 
 
Depended on God. He acknowledged that the Israelites were powerless and didn’t know what to do. The Lord was their only hope. 
If your prayers seem to be having little impact, ask yourself if you’ve been focusing on God or the problem. Have you remembered His past faithfulness, or do you doubt His care for you? And finally, is God your only hope, or are you trying to fix the situation yourself?


Devotional Title: Going Through Hell (12/16/21) Thursday 

 
. . . fear not, for I am with you—Isaiah 41:10
You know when you’re in the thick of it—facing tough financial circumstances, or maybe a problem with work or a relationship, or a health issue or an addiction? You know that “I just don’t know what to do” feeling? Most of us do, maybe all of us. The thing is, we actually do know what to do—we know exactly what to do. It’s just hard, in those moments, to remember . . . and to trust.
 
But we must remember and trust our Father God. He sees and he knows .  . . and sometimes he allows. We must not be “surprised at the fiery trial,” therefore, “as though something strange were happening” (1 Peter 4:12). When he allows hardship, though, it’s always for good—even if that’s not, at first, very obvious (James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:1-11; Romans 8:28).
 
And we must remember and trust our King, Jesus Christ. He is truth. He teaches us what to do in any ordeal. He knows like no other. “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
 
And we must remember and trust our God the Holy Spirit. He’s always with us, in every moment (John 14:16). And he can help and strengthen us, whatever the hardship. The “Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” exists within us, and can certainly bring new life to our circumstances too (Romans 8:11).
Okay, so what do we do?
 
If you’re in the thick of it now, trust that God has a plan; follow your King, as he knows the plan and knows the way; and ask the Holy Spirit for help. If you’re not, take time to pray.

Devotional Title: Moth And Rust (12/15/21) Wednesday 

Jesus is teaching about money, but there is a deeper spiritual principle being taught as well. Matthew 6:19 ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:’ We understand the destructive value of moths if they get into clothes. They ‘corrupt’ them, cause them to disintegrate. ‘Rust’ translates a word meaning eating or food. Food can spoil. It does no good to store food we will never eat. No matter how much we accumulate a thief can steal it in one night.
 
Putting our faith and trust in material wealth and possessions will not spare us. They do not guarantee us safety and security no matter how much we have of each. When it comes to eternal security, we cannot buy our way into the Kingdom of Heaven. As a matter of fact, materialism is a judgment upon us. Rather than seek God, we seek to save ourselves with the stuff we have. 
 
Matthew 6:20 ‘But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:’ The ‘treasures in heaven’ does not refer just to the material contributions we make like tithes or offerings. Our ‘treasures’ are our faith in God’s promises reflected in our obedience and devotion to him. Giving hypocritically to promote ourselves, no matter the size of the gift, will not buy God’s favor. He cannot be bought, not like so many politicians we know.
 
In his prophecy of salvation coming to Zion in the form of Messiah, Isaiah 51:6 ‘Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old LIKE A GARMENT (emphasis), and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.’  
 
Isaiah continues, Isaiah 51:7-8 ‘Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For THE MOTH SHALL EAT THEM UP LIKE A GARMENT (my emphasis), and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.’
 
Who do you think Jesus was telling his listeners He was when He spoke of  moths and garments?

Devotional Title: Nothing But Smoke (12/14/21) Tuesday 

 
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, 
where moth and rust destroy—Matthew 6:19
This world, and everything in it, is characterized by defect and decay (Genesis 3:17; 1 John 2:17). Everything. Nothing is perfect—as much as we’d like to believe some things will be perfectly satisfying. Nothing lasts forever—as much as we’d like to believe some things can be with us always. Whenever we trust a created thing too much it lets us down, eventually. Whenever we put too much stock into a created thing it breaks our hearts, inevitably. We’ve all experienced this. Maybe we’ve trusted too much the ability of work to give us security. Maybe we’ve trusted too much the ability of achievement to give us meaning. Maybe we’ve trusted too much the ability of sex to give us comfort or adventure. Maybe we’ve trusted too much the abilities of houses or vacations or cars or tools or gear or gadgets to give us joy.
 
“Smoke, nothing but smoke” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 MSG).
 
Created things can be gifts from our Father God, of course (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19). Even those, though, cannot deliver everything we need. We’re to enjoy them during their moments, but our enjoyment is meant to be fleeting. If we begin to think the gifts themselves will fill us up, complete our lives, we invite grief. We’re meant to focus our lives, not on the gifts, but on the Giver. We’re meant to focus our lives, not on created things, but on the Creator. Only he is perfect and eternal.
Okay, so what do we do? 
 
If you’ve allowed yourself to trust any created thing too much—money, status, material things, sex, another person—it’s time to confess to God and to others. It’s time to repent. Declare that you want to be reliant on God alone . . . the Giver behind all gifts, the Creator behind all created things.

Devotional Title: When We Don’t Understand (12/13/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Job 23
 
Starting at a very early age, children will repeatedly ask their parents the question Why? And this desire for reasons isn’t something we outgrow. As adults, especially during dark times when we cannot figure out what the Lord is doing, we tend to think, If I could just know why, then it would be easier to bear.
 
In his extreme suffering, Job experienced pain and frustration at God’s silence. He longed to present his case and hear what the Lord had to say. But when God did not immediately respond, Job nevertheless clung to Him and relied upon what he knew to be true: “He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
 
Like Job, we should channel our emotions and responses through the truth of God’s Word. Otherwise, we might be tempted to doubt our Father’s goodness and love, since they aren’t readily visible in times of hardship. But if we trust in what the Scriptures reveal about God’s character and ways, we can endure affliction faithfully, whether or not He ever explains why. After all, God never guaranteed us answers during our time on earth, but He did promise to be with us.

Devotional Title: When Your World Is Turned Upside Down (12/10/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: John 14

We don’t often receive a warning before our world crashes down around us. Catastrophic events in our life usually come suddenly, leaving us at a loss about how to cope. A spouse walks out, an accident or heart attack takes a loved one, a fire destroys our house—the possible calamities that could befall us are endless. But as believers, we don’t have to live in fear.

Today’s chapter contains some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples before He was crucified. He was warning them that their world was about to be turned upside down. As they struggled to grasp the reality that Jesus was going to die and leave them, they must have thought His instructions sounded impossible: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). But just moments later, Christ gave them the amazing promise that the Holy Spirit would come to indwell, enlighten, and empower them (John 16:5-15).

An untroubled heart begins with salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Then it develops further as the Holy Spirit guides us in truth. Therefore, let’s dive into God’s Word and have it imprinted on our heart for the inevitable day when trouble comes.

Devotional Title: Patience and Trust (12/9/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 37:3-8

Trusting in the Lord is easy when life is pleasant and running smoothly. However, when circumstances are not as we desire, our confidence in God can become shaky. Yet even in difficult times, He guides us and helps us through.

God wants us to cultivate faithfulness to Him in every circumstance. To do this, we must commit to His way instead of getting frustrated or trying to manipulate things to get our desired outcome. While it would be easy for us to become anxious or angry with our situation, God wants His children to rest in Him with a peaceful spirit. That is possible when we confidently believe He’s in control and will arrange things for our good and His glory.

Then we are to patiently wait for His perfect will to unfold. Even if we cannot see any changes taking place, God is at work in us and in our situation. Our task is to keep our focus on Jesus and faithfully continue doing whatever He has given us to accomplish at present. In the end, delays give us a chance to develop Christlike character and show the world what Jesus’ transforming power can bring about.

Devotional Title: Accepting God’s Solution (12/8/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Chronicles 20:14-25
 
When we pray about a matter that is very important to us, it’s easy to begin telling the Lord how to answer our request. We’ve all done this, haven’t we? We start out asking God for help, but as our emotions enter in, we become more passionate about explaining what we want Him to do about it.
 
God promises to answer prayer (Mark 11:24), but sometimes His answers don’t satisfy us. Oftentimes we want relief from pain and difficulty rather than an extra measure of grace to endure in a manner that glorifies God.
 
King Jehoshaphat may have expected the Lord to answer his prayer by giving the army supernatural strength to win the battle, but God’s solution was entirely unexpected. His method was to send the choir out singing praises. Then God took care of the enemy without any help from Judah’s soldiers.
 
Instead of dictating a solution, Jehoshaphat trusted God to answer the prayer as He saw fit. And we should do likewise. Prayer is an opportunity to bring our concerns to the Lord and trust that He will answer in a way that brings glory to Him, not to us.

Devotional Title: The Pitfalls of Irresponsibility (12/7/21) Tuesday 

key Bible Passage: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
 
God wants us to be diligent in our work and faithful to complete it. But in our self-absorbed, pleasure-seeking culture, it’s very easy to get side-tracked into laziness or irresponsibility. This sin is dangerous in a Christian’s life because of the harm that can result: Relationships with loved ones go untended, the needs of others are overlooked, and our work becomes sloppy.
 
As Christ’s followers, we are to represent Him in our character, conduct, and conversation. Laziness, however, suggests we are unreliable and untrustworthy. What’s more, it wastes both the time and the gifts the Lord has given us. All of these things hurt our witness.
 
Irresponsible behavior doesn’t fit who we are in Christ. Our Lord modeled diligence for us by accomplishing all that the Father gave Him to do, and as a result, the Father was glorified (John 17:4). Some day we will each give an account to God and receive compensation for what we have done, whether it was good or worthless (2 Cor. 5:10). If you realize you’ve been careless in some area of your life, confess it as sin. Then ask God for the grace to resist laziness and pursue diligence.

Devotional Title: Shedding Blood (12/06/21) Monday 

Expressions about shedding blood are common in the Old Testament. These expressions usually appear in prophecies of judgment. We think ‘of course,’ because in our mind’s eye we think literally of bloodshed; we think of spilling blood or murder. The Biblical meaning of the expression is broader than that. 
 
Preserving a person’s inheritance is a high priority in the culture of the Old Testament. If an heir to an inheritance is injured or killed, that is shedding blood. However, preserving a person’s inheritance also applies to making sure their material possessions are passed on, and they are passed on to someone God intends them to be passed to. It is shedding blood if an inheritance is denied to those who have right to it.
 
While speaking of sin, confession and redemption, Isaiah said: Isaiah 59:7 ‘Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.’ In previous verses, the accusations include speaking lies and conceiving mischief which carries the meaning of plotting against the well-being of someone else. Also, people do not call for justice, but plead cases without integrity. The implication is they bring charges under false pretenses to deny someone their inheritance. They commit ‘evil deeds’ and ‘acts of violence,’ which can mean physical harm, but in context of the passage they also mean inequitable conduct for dishonest gain at the expense of someone else. They deny that person their future, their inheritance. 
 
Jeremiah spoke of how to avoid judgment: Jeremiah 22:3 ‘Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.’ It is clear the expression not shedding blood means honest, equitable conduct toward other people.
 
Ezekiel speaks in a similar way: Ezekiel 22:12 ‘In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD.’ Gaining profit at the expense of a neighbor is denying that neighbor’s rightful inheritance. 
 
Some reading this think of our time when the law is used to oppress and defraud law-abiding citizens. Law is used to punish the innocent and enable the lawbreaker. The intent of the law is perverted to evil ends that threaten the inheritance not just of the present generation, but generations to come.
 
There is no need to go into particulars. Discerning believers can fill in the blanks. God is watching, and God is taking note. God is just.

Devotional Title: God Is at Work in You (12/3/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Philippians 2:12-13
 
There are many books promising a successful Christian life, but no humanly inspired technique can ever achieve the work of God. Any commitment or rededication that is based on our own effort will not last; true transformation comes from the Holy Spirit alone. That’s why the Lord wants our humble dependence on Him for strength, growth, and perseverance.
 
Today’s passage reminds us of these basic truths about the Christian life:
 
• We participate in the working out of our salvation. This isn’t referring to our initial conversion through faith in Christ; rather, it’s the process of sanctification by which we grow into Christlikeness. An obedient, holy lifestyle is something we must choose and pursue.
 
• We need an attitude of fear and trembling. There should be no flippancy about how we live, because God is holy and we must one day give Him an account of our life.
 
• God works in us. Jesus said we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5). He’s the one who equips and enables us to live in the way He desires.
 
God has not left us to do the best we can on our own. He is always at work in believers, to fulfill His desired goals for each of us.

Devotional Title: Inspiration (12/2/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Tim. 3:16 

Many of us have had ‘eureka’ moments when we suddenly figure something out. My wife and I have become expert at putting together furniture kits. We began to have our eureka moments when we read the directions first. It is amazing how clear things become when we take time to read instructions.
 
Scientists have such moments. Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was based on an inspired moment of clarity. Richard Feynman had difficulty explaining Quantum Mechanics until he started drawing diagrams instead of using equations.
 
We call these moments of inspiration, but the clarity comes from within us. We somehow inspire ourselves to see things correctly. 
 
Inspiration in scripture means something entirely different. Giving Timothy his charge to teach and preach, Paul said, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’ The expression ‘inspiration of God’ translates one Greek word meaning God-breathed.  God’s Word is His breath sent to equip us to be righteous, or in proper relation to God.
 
When it comes to Godly wisdom, we can only get it from Him. Elihu rebuked Job and the others with him saying, Job 32:8 ‘But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.’ The Hebrew for ‘spirit’ means breath, wind or divine inspiration. God sends the Spirit to equip man to understand what God intends him to understand. 
 
Many believers recall not being able to understand scripture prior to their salvation. They read it, but things did not fall into place. I was one of those. However, when God chose to send the Holy Spirit to me, what had once been hidden was revealed. Paul was making reference to this experience when he wrote, Colossians 1:26-27 ‘Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:’ The Greek word for mystery actually means something revealed. In this case, it is not a thing revealed, but a Person. It can mean the Incarnation of Jesus, but when Paul speaks of ‘Christ in you.’ He is speaking of the Holy Spirit sent to give us the revelation of God’s wisdom.
 
The most common Hebrew word for spirit means breath, but it is a breath containing wisdom. The Greek word for spirit means the same thing as the Hebrew word. This may seem pointless detail, but it is not. We cannot have the understanding as believers apart from the indwelling presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit.
 
Remember God’s Word. It is God’s instruction manual for leading a holy life consecrated in service to Him. He not only sent it, He sent the Holy Spirit to correctly interpret and apply it in our walk of faith.
 
We are inspired with God’s breath, Christ breathed into us.

 

Devotional Title: Getting By or Thriving? (12/1/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 119:9-16
 
In this age of technology, it’s difficult to keep up with the newest gadgets. For instance, some people learn the bare basics of how to operate a smart phone. But if they’d learn a bit more, they’d find the device more helpful. By limiting their knowledge, they miss the benefits the phone provides to make tasks easier.
 
Sometimes, we have this same problem in our Christian life. Scripture declares that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17). In His Word, God has provided everything we need to know how to live as new creations, but we must grow in our knowledge of this new life.
 
Are you trying to live on the mere basics of God’s Word without digging deeper to uncover richer truths and insights? If so, you are limiting your spiritual growth and missing out on the benefits that come with greater understanding of God, His ways, and His desires. You may be getting by, but you’re not thriving as the Lord desires. It’s never too late to learn more and begin enjoying the benefits of your new life in Christ.

Devotional Title: Changing Our Focus (11/30/21) 

Key Bible Passage: Philippians 4:10-13 
 
Even though Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written during a long and unjust imprisonment, it was filled with joy. The apostle never complained, blamed others, or felt sorry for himself—instead, he rejoiced in the midst of suffering because he knew and trusted God. By keeping his eyes fixed on the Lord instead of the problems, Paul was able to look beyond his chains to see how the situation was being used to teach him contentment. 
 
I know it’s difficult to shift our focus in times of overwhelming difficulty and intense suffering. The pain screams for our attention, and the troubles bombard our mind and emotions with anxiety. But that’s when we most need to sit down with Scripture and pour out our heart to God. He invites us to cast all our concerns upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). 
 
Do you believe that God cares for you? Every trial you experience is an opportunity to believe what the Bible says about God and to look beyond your circumstances to His loving wisdom and good purpose. And the more you learn to know your heavenly Father, the more content you will be.

 

Devotional Title: The Influence of Our Convictions (11/29/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Daniel 1
 
Although our circles of influence vary in size, we all have the power to affect people at home, in church, or in the world. The fact is, our life is always on display, whether we’re aware of it or not.
 
Daniel didn’t set out to impress others, but his convictions had an effect on everyone who came in contact with him— from lowly servants to kings of empires. He clung to the truth of the Scriptures. When he was taken to Babylon’s royal court, he “made up his mind” not to defile himself with the king’s food (Dan. 1:8), because he knew that eating meat offered to idols was forbidden by the Mosaic law.
 
The important thing to notice is that Daniel’s convictions, not his environment, determined his behavior. One can always find some reason to give in, but being sure of our beliefs ahead of time can help us stand firm in obedience to God. Although the world may mock our values, people actually lose respect for us when we waffle and yield to temptation. What’s worse, our witness for Christ is damaged.
 
Conviction about God’s truth is like an anchor holding you steady in the waves of temptation and the winds of opinion. Don’t underestimate your obedience to the Lord—it can powerfully influence others.

Devotional Title: God’s Shaping Tools (11/24/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 12:1-5
 
God’s kindness is demonstrated by the fact that He doesn’t leave us in the condition we were in before salvation. Throughout our life, the Lord uses certain tools to shape us into the image of His Son.
 
God’s Word. We grow in Christ when we spend time reading the Bible, because Scripture is like food that nourishes our soul (Matt. 4:4). Yet sadly, some Christians rely only on the Sunday dinner of the Word served up by a pastor. 
 
Prayer. We learn to depend on the Lord by coming to Him with our needs and concerns as well as our praise and gratitude. As we regularly draw near, our intimacy and love for Him grows. Instead of seeing prayer as a duty, we’ll realize our time with the Lord has become a delight. 
 
The Church. The body of believers is another important factor in our transformation because that’s where we learn to love one another.  It’s also where we find encouragement, receive biblical instruction, and experience accountability.
 
Our culture has no shortage of worldly voices and pressures that fill minds and influence behavior. But when we intentionally schedule time for God, His Word, and His people, He does His transforming work in our life.

Devotional Title: That All May Know Him (11/23/21) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
 
A friend of mine recently told me about a cab driver who had religious symbols representing Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism displayed in his taxi. My friend asked why he had so many contrasting religions represented. The driver said they were for protection. When asked which one served that purpose, the man said, “I don’t know. But I want to be sure that one will work, so I have all of them.”
 
Here in America, it’s easy to think most people know about Jesus Christ, but there are men and women we see each day who have no knowledge of our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.” That truth is the foundation for the Christian faith. Through the Son, we are forgiven and reconciled to the Father.
 
Don’t assume that everyone in your life is familiar with the good news of Jesus Christ. Whether it’s a coworker, a new friend, or your long-time neighbor, you may be the only person they know who can tell them about the one true God and Savior.

Devotional Title: The Power of Consistency (11/22/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Daniel 6
 
We live in a noncommittal world, where perseverance is all too rare. If a job is difficult or boring, people often think, Why not find another one? Or when a marriage becomes unhappy, many wonder, Should I be with someone else?
 
Sadly, this mindset is also found among believers. At the first sign of conflict, some Christians hop to another church instead of working through difficulties with their local body of believers. And when it comes to our personal walk of faith, many of us struggle to maintain a consistent quiet time with the Lord.
 
Daniel was a man of steadfast loyalty. Not even the awareness that he could be killed interfered with his practice of praying three times a day. Such commitment to the Lord was noted by others. Jealous officers and governors used Daniel’s consistency to trap him, but the king made a remarkable statement: “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you” (Dan. 6:16). Apparently, he believed Daniel’s devotion would be the key to the young man’s deliverance
 
Daniel’s victory in the lion’s den led to great influence, as it inspired the king’s decree to worship the Lord. Have you considered that the Lord was able to use him because of his unwavering obedience and worship? Imagine what God can do with you when you also commit yourself to Him.

Devotional Title: Do Not Tempt God (11/19/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew  4:7 

 
The first month of World War I was a cataclysm. Over a million men died. Another 13 million would die before that war was over. More people died in World War I than all the wars in Europe in the previous three centuries combined. The Spanish flu struck worldwide at the end of that war killing another 50 million. At least 24 million people were murdered by the Communists in the Soviet Union between World War I and World War II. 
 
At least 70 million people died in World War II including 14 million in Nazi concentration and death camps. Millions more died in the Soviet Union after the war with as many as 1 out of 6 Soviet subjects ending up prison camps. No one knows the total, but at least 70 million people have died in Red China since the Communists took over. Millions more have died in Cambodia, Vietnam, Cuba and many other places not just from political murder, but religions persecution, injustice and disease. 
 
Some say we have become numb to it, but the truth is we have become hypersensitive to it. We are scared out of our wits by this world we live in. Look at our reaction to 9/11. No doubt it was tragic, terrible, but it was nothing compared to the 20th century. There have been plenty of flu strains that have killed far more than Covid, but people are being stampeded by Covid as they were not by all the others. Thirteen soldiers tragically die in Kabul during our withdrawal, and the nation is turned upside down, but how does that compare with the bigger picture? 
 
The media and our leaders exploit our fears by claiming we have a right to expect zero risks in life. We are promised Covid will be eradicated, and we must accept totalitarian control until government keeps its promise to make us 100% secure. Our government passed a National Security Act in 1947 because people want security from this world of sin and death. We have a National Security Council and a Department of Homeland Security promising to make life a zero-risk undertaking.
 
Satan tempted Jesus for the second time in the wilderness: Matthew 4:6 ‘And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ Satan slyly quotes scripture to justify his temptation of Jesus. ‘Don’t worry Jesus, God will send His angels to protect you from harm.’
 
Matthew 4:7 ‘Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ Jesus is quoting, Deuteronomy 6:16 ‘Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.’ The temptation of Massah is found in: Exodus 17:7 ‘And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?’ The sin of Massah was presuming to test God putting to dance to our tune. Satan is tempting Jesus to dishonor God that way. Jesus did not need angels to protect Him. Jesus could have taken Himself down off the Cross. In either case, Jesus would have violated His mission as God’s Son. He was the Lamb, and the sacrificial Lamb had to be slaughtered. Passion and death were His mission as the Incarnation of God. Satan knew that, but tried to play upon Jesus’ humanity to defeat Him. 
 
Many people, and more Christians than we care to admit, have fallen prey to the notion there should be no risks or adversity in life. Worse, they have fallen prey to the Satanic notion government can guarantee our safety and security. It is how Stalin and Hitler came to power. It is how any tyrant plays upon people’s fears and insecurities.
 
God could ‘miracle’ away Covid. God could ‘miracle’ away anything He pleases. Like those at Massah, we make demands God provide for our security on our terms or else. That’s bad enough, but we turn around and make false gods of men and women who tells us they can do what God will not. 
 
Nothing in this age of sin and death is secure. Our eternal security lies in our faith in the atoning death of the Son on the Cross. That will not spare us trial and adversity in this world. The oppression and corruption of this world makes our eternal inheritance in the Kingdom more precious.
 
Anyone who thinks that does not matter is welcome to chase after the false security offered by the powers and principalities of this age. The 20th century witnesses to their arrogance and failures to keep their promises. Today’s headlines do as well.
 
God has offered His Son to save us. Why do we presume to demand anything else on our terms? Was not Jesus on the Cross enough?

Devotional Title: The Nature of Conviction (11/18/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: John 16:7-15
 
No one enjoys sensing conviction about having done wrong, but that uncomfortable feeling is actually a demonstration of divine love. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin, their lack of righteousness, and the reality of coming judgment so they’ll turn to Christ and be saved. If wrongdoers never feel the guilt of their sin, they won’t see the need for a Savior. Every prick of the heart is intended to draw them to Christ.
 
And we should also be grateful that the Spirit’s convicting work doesn’t end once a person is saved. He continues to instruct and shape us after salvation and convicts us of disobedience to our heavenly Father. In other words, He makes us aware of specific sins and God’s attitude about such behavior. He also prompts us to confess our wrongs, repent, and turn back to the path of righteousness.
 
In addition to protecting and leading us in these ways, the Spirit does much more for us. He guides us into truth, discloses the meaning of Scripture, transforms our character, and empowers us to live a holy, obedient life characterized by love. So listen to His conviction and promptings. They are for your good and God’s glory.

Devotional Title: What Is the Church? (11/17/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage:Colossians 1:15-20
 
Most people think of the church as a building, but that’s not the biblical definition. It isn’t merely a meeting place for social interaction, scriptural instruction, and service projects. Rather, the church is composed of all those who have been redeemed by Christ. He is the head of church, and believers are called His body.
 
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” He was referring to the entire body of Christ, which is composed of all believers worldwide from every generation. The church began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and filled Jesus’ followers, and it will continue until the rapture of the church, when believers in Christ will be caught up to meet Him in the sky (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
 
Until then, our job as Christ’s body is to follow our Head. We’re not the ones in charge; He is. The Lord builds His church, but He uses us to make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey all His commands (Matt. 28:19-20). We don’t come up with our own plans; we simply follow His. 

Devotional Title: True Repentance (11/16/21) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage:Psalms 51
 
Seventeenth-century pastor John Donne was also a celebrated poet. In one of his Holy Sonnets reflecting on the Second Coming, he wrote, “When we are there; here on this lowly ground / Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good / As if thou hadst seal’d my pardon with thy blood.” Donne understood the power of repentance.
 
Psalm 51 is one of the most famous chapters in the Psalter. For thousands of years, it has modeled for believers a prayer of repentance. The title of the psalm informs us that it was written after David had been confronted for committing adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12). David’s sin included coveting a neighbor’s wife, adultery, lying, and murder. He begins his prayer by pleading to God for mercy, “Have mercy on me, O God” (Ps. 51:1). He knows that he does not deserve God’s forgiveness. His hope is in the compassion of God.
 
David clearly and honestly acknowledges his sin. He realizes that his sin comes from a deep place within him, “Behold I was sharpen in iniquity; and in din did my mother conceive me” (verse 5). He prays for God not only to forgive him but also to cleanse him and restore him to a state of holiness (v. 7). He prays that God would so work in his heart that it would be transformed (v. 10). He wants to not just be forgiven but also changed. David’s cry is the essence of repentance. Finally, David declares that in his restored state, he will engage in ministry. He will “then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (v. 13). He desires to use his new life to declare God’s praise (v. 15).
 
Through this pray of true repentance and God forgive David and God will forgive us if we are truly genuine. 

Devotional Title: The Freedom of Relinquishment (11/15/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 19:16-26
 
We may think we have no attachments that come between us and the Lord, but He knows our heart better than we ourselves do. One Sunday as I was about to preach a sermon along those lines, God showed me something I had prioritized too highly. Then He let me know I needed to reconsider the place it held in my thinking. So I was glad when the choir’s song took a while, because I had time to come to the place of being able to say, “Lord, if that’s what You desire, I want to commit it to You. It’s Yours right now.”
 
It’s difficult to be obedient if we’re holding onto something too tightly. The Lord wants our attachment to be exclusively to Him so we can shine His light in the world. You may have multitudes of things that God has blessed you with, but the moment any of it controls you, His work is stunted. When you open your hands, however, you allow the Holy Spirit’s power to flow freely through you.
 
Think about what captivates you, and honestly consider whether it also enslaves you. Is there anything you feel you could never give up? I challenge you to release the relationship or situation to the Lord right now so He can have your full devotion.

Devotional Title: Trusting God’s Plan in Trouble (11/11/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage:Genesis 12:10-20
 
Does your faith shrivel when you encounter trouble? Perhaps you prayed about a situation and expected God to act according to your desires, but He didn’t. Though you were hoping for a smooth path, He gave you one with bumps, twists, and turns, which left you wondering where He was. He promised to care for you, but instead you felt deserted.
 
These are situations that test our faith, and they are common to all believers. Abraham, a man with great faith followed God’s instructions to leave home and travel to Canaan. You’d expect the Lord to honor such bold obedience with blessings, but it wasn’t long before Abraham faced another faith challenge—a famine. This time, his trust faltered. Instead of believing God would provide, he fled to Egypt and made more foolish and costly decisions.
 
The next time you’re tempted to think that God has let you down, remember that trouble is one of the means He uses to strengthen your belief in Him. When circumstances seem to indicate He doesn’t care, stand firmly on the truths of Scripture and fix your eyes on the Lord, who is always faithful.
 

Devotional Title : Remembering God’s Goodness (11/09/21 – 11/10/21) Tuesday and Wednesday 

Key Bible Passages: Joshua 3:14-17, Joshua 4:1-17
 
Have you ever heard a song that you hadn’t listened to in years? It’s amazing how well we can recall lyrics a long time later, and yet we so easily forget God’s goodness to us. Today’s verses offer a good example for us to follow. 
 
God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and safely through the Red Sea. Then He miraculously provided yet another dry path by stacking the Jordan’s waters in an enormous heap upstream. The people were about to enter Jericho, and by God’s power, they would overcome the city. How compassionate to encourage them with a tangible illustration of His strength before such a battle!
 
But God also knew how easily they had forgotten Him before. So in His love, He had a plan to help the Israelites remember the miracle at the river. He told them to create an altar of 12 stones, each representing a tribe of Israel that had safely passed through the waters. This way, they would have a tangible reminder of divine rescue. 
 
Today, we likewise need help recalling God’s involvement in our life. When He works in obvious ways, it’s easy to trust Him. But as time goes on, we tend to forget. 
 
How can you create reminders of God’s faithfulness? Whether it’s by means of a journal or a note in your phone, make sure to remember the Lord’s goodness to you.

Devotional Title: The Danger of Ignoring the Word (11/8/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 119:33-40
 
Putting together a toy or a piece of furniture rarely goes as smoothly as expected. This is especially true if we don’t read the instructions. Perhaps they’re too long or difficult to understand, so we ignore them. Then we wonder why the project doesn’t turn out right.
 
This is how many believers live the Christian life. They try to figure it out without referring to God’s Word. The Bible is too long, they think, and it would take years to gain a basic understanding of the contents; there just isn’t enough time to read it. Furthermore, it strikes them as complicated and difficult to understand.
 
But ignoring the Word of God is dangerous. When we stop reading Scripture and applying its principles, we don’t just stand still; we actually start drifting away from God. Peter tells us to long for the Word so we may grow in respect to our salvation (1 Pet. 2:2). And don’t forget, the indwelling Holy Spirit will bring understanding.
 
If your desire is to glorify God and overcome worries, fears, and sin, then Scripture must be your priority. Reading, studying, and applying the Word may require sacrifices, but the reward of knowing your Savior better and living a life pleasing to God is worth it.

Devotional Title : The Pathway of Faith (11/5/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Genesis 12:1-9
 
Scripture says that we are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). That means we’re unable to know what’s ahead but can trust the God who does. Abraham is a prime example, and we should follow in his steps. When called to leave his country and family to go to a land God would show him, Abraham obeyed. Hebrews 11:8 adds, “He left, not knowing where he was going.” 
 
That’s basically a summation of the Christian life. Each day we face the unknown, but we trust the Lord to guide us. Since we don’t know the particulars, our walk with God can seem perplexing. That’s when we’re tempted to rely on our own feelings, perceptions, and reasoning. But sometimes He places us in situations to teach us to trust Him even when we don’t know where we’re going and cannot see the outcome.
 
The Lord wants us to lay down our own ways of figuring things out and instead to walk by faith. That may sound risky, but here’s why it’s absolutely reasonable: The One leading us has complete knowledge of the future and the power to orchestrate all events to achieve His good purposes in our life.

Devotional Title: Be Quiet? (11/4/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 6:33 

 
Matthew 6:33  ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’ Many sincere believers struggle to maintain their holiness while contending with the world. The world constantly demands our attention and obedience. Many are afraid ‘politics’ will infect the Church, therefore anything that has the whiff of politics cannot be discussed in a church.
 
Let us confess a church can become over-politicized.  Many congregations surrender themselves to political agitation and activism. They confuse the Church, the Kingdom of Heaven, with obedience to the authorities of a secular government. The question is where does a believer draw the line, or are believers to withdraw into a spiritual cocoon as though there was no world of sin and death around them?
 
These are tough questions, and there are no simple answers. These are matters of constant meditation and prayer. It may be some comfort to know this is nothing new. Church history records a recurring movement called Quietism.  Quietism has always practiced a passive, inner faith divorcing itself from the day-to-day affairs of the world. Is followers claim to be leading spiritual lives which demand they not soil themselves by association with this carnal world of sin and death. Some might say they were ‘trying to live above it all,’ but that may lack charity. Many of them were sincere in their withdrawal trying to seek communion with God.
 
The problem is, where would we be if Christ had been a Quietist? Christ had to get His hands dirty in this world of sin and death. He had to encounter the world to suffer and die for those He calls His own. He had to offer His atoning Blood for our sakes. He could not spend all His time as the Incarnation in seclusion from the world. 
 
Some might object Jesus was innocent not deserving what the world did to Him. No, He did not. However, consider: The Roman Emperor had many titles describing his power and authority. One title was ‘pontifex maximus.’ He was the high priest of the Roman religion. Another title was ‘divi filius.’ The Emperor was the Son of God. What do we think the Romans, Jews or anyone else would make of Jesus claiming HE was High Priest and Son of God? Jesus was directly challenging the powers of His day. Jesus was proclaiming He was the King come to claim His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. 
 
Matthew 4:17 ‘From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Jesus was the Kingdom standing at hand, in front of them. His followers owed their loyalty to Him in His Kingdom no matter to cost to them with the world, even their martyrdom. Announcing the coming of Messiah, John the Baptist said: Matthew 3:2 ‘And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Then Jesus showed up.
 
Commissioning His disciples, Jesus said: Matthew 10:7 ‘And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ We still live in a flesh-and-blood world with flesh-and-blood issues, but some of those are matters of the Kingdom of Heaven. We may want to hide from the world, but the world is determined to impose itself on the Church to try to destroy it. Being quietistic on occasion may be permitted, but we ultimately must deal with the world to the glory of God. Issues like the sanctity of life, the sanctity of the marriage covenant between men and women come to mind. Our identity as God’s Holy Nation defined by the indwelling Holy Spirit without favoritism among us must be defended from the world’s goal of dividing, and defining us on the world’s terms, not God’s. 
 
We do not have to go looking for politics. Politics will come looking for us, and we are to respond according to the Holy Spirit informed by God’s Word. We must. We live in the Kingdom of Heaven, and we serve the King.
 
by David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Basing Expectations on Truth (11/3/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Mark 9:30-32
 
We all jump to conclusions and make assumptions—even the disciples missed important truth in this way. Jesus told them repeatedly that He was going to be crucified and raised to life after three days. Their ears heard His words, but their minds and hearts didn’t.
 
The disciples knew Jesus was the Messiah, but their assumptions about how and when His kingdom would come kept them from hearing how the Lord actually said it would happen. They were looking for a Savior who would overthrow Rome and then rule with the disciples by His side. However, Jesus’ words of death and resurrection were the exact opposite of that. They hadn’t understood the promise of the resurrection, so when Jesus died, their dreams died too, which left them feeling hopeless (Luke 23:46; Luke 23:48).
 
We might wonder, How could they be so dense? But before we judge them too harshly, let’s remember that we, too, often have ideas about how the Lord should work in our life and in the world.
 
God’s ways won’t always match ours, because He works from an eternal perspective and we don’t. So we must remember that His ways are best. Let’s drop our expectations and trust Him.

Devotional Title: Following Christ (11/2/21) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Galatians 5:13-26
 
We hear a lot about the importance of following Jesus, but what does that look like? Our walk with Him begins at salvation and continues throughout our earthly lifetime and into eternity. But how do we know whether we’re still on the right path or have drifted away?
 
Following the Lord requires obedience to God’s Word and sensitivity to His Holy Spirit. For example, Scripture clearly teaches us to forgive others as we have been forgiven (Eph. 4:32). Anger, resentment, and a desire for revenge are natural responses, but following Christ requires that we turn from these and pray to have a forgiving spirit and God’s supernatural love for our offender. It may take time to reach this point, but as we let the Holy Spirit change our mind and heart, forgiveness will come.
 
God has provided everything we need to faithfully follow our Savior. His Word is our guide, and His Spirit enables us to overcome our natural impulses and obey His instructions. However, we must cooperate with His work in us by denying our sinful responses and choosing instead to walk in the power of His Spirit each day. Following Jesus isn’t a one-time decision—it’s a way of life

Devotional Title: A Life of Integrity (11/1/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 15
 
In today’s Psalm, David describes a life of integrity—it is marked by truthfulness, righteousness, and honesty. To develop and maintain this God-pleasing lifestyle, we must …
 
• Formulate beliefs based on Scripture. Our need for a Savior, Christ’s death on our behalf, salvation by faith alone, and the Father’s gift of eternal life are foundational truths upon which to build our life. As we align our thinking with God’s Word, our identity and priorities should flow from these tenets.
 
• Submit to Christ’s lordship. Jesus commands us to deny ourselves and follow Him (Mark 8:34). Wholehearted commitment to Him helps us choose righteousness over temptations.
 
• Build relationships with godly individuals. The influence of mature Christians strengthens our dedication and obedience to the Lord.
 
• Acknowledge our mistakes. Everyone misses the mark at times. We are to confess any known sin to God (1 John 1:9) and turn away from the wrong behavior. We must also ask for forgiveness from anyone we have wronged.
 
God understands our struggle to resist temptation and choose righteousness, and He has sent His Holy Spirit to help us live with integrity. Ask Him today to help you embody the values in Psalm 15.

Devotional Title: God’s Provision(10/28/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 14:22-33
 
We all face trials. Realistically, if you’re not currently in a storm, you’re either just getting out of one or about to enter one. Thankfully, we serve a good God who always provides—including during the dark periods of life. Today’s passage tells of a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee. Let’s look at three ways Jesus provides for us today just as He did for the disciples then.
 
1. Presence. God is with every believer through His indwelling Holy Spirit, and He promises never to leave (John 14:16-17; Heb. 13:5). This is a great gift because it gives a sense of comfort, courage, and confidence.
 
2. Pathway. He blesses Christians with guidance through trouble. Jesus is in total control of our storm and will use it for His purposes. We may not understand, but we can trust Him to lead us and accomplish good.
 
3. Potential. He offers believers the ability to grow. Hardships are exercises in trust and times to learn more fully who God is and how great His power and love are.
 
No one enjoys trials, but we can be grateful for God’s hand in our life and the ways He will use us. Hardships are opportunities to trust the Creator and know Him better.

Devotional Title: Our Unchanging Lord (10/27/21) Weds

Key Bible Passage:Hebrews 1:10-12
 
We live in a world that is bound by time and characterized by change. Weather fluctuates, seasons come and go, governments are established and overthrown, houses are built and eventually torn down, technology keeps advancing, and human beings are born, age, and die. We are so accustomed to these cycles that we may be tempted to think about God in this same way, but He stands apart from time and is not subject to change.
 
The Lord’s immutable nature is the foundation for our faith. If we believed that God’s attributes or preferences, like man’s, could fluctuate, we’d have no assurance of His love, salvation, or grace. Thinking that at any moment He might decide to cancel His promises and cast us off is contrary to everything He says in His Word. Yet many professing Christians live with this fear as they frantically try to live up to what they think the Lord desires.
 
A solid faith foundation is laid by studying and believing what the Bible says about God. Any time we veer from these truths by relying on what we think, feel, or hear others say, we’re on shifting sand. God’s unchanging nature is the solid rock of our confidence in Him.

Devotional Title: Our Faithful God (10/26/21) 

Key Bible Passage:Hebrews 13:5-9
 
In troubled times we may begin to think that God doesn’t care or has forsaken us, but that’s not true. If we’ve trusted Christ as our Savior, He promises never to desert or abandon us (Heb. 13:5). No matter how we may feel, God is always with us.
 
As great as this promise is, we have yet another foundational truth on which to rely. We can fully trust whatever our Savior says because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He doesn’t save us one day and then abandon us later. Jesus said, “Everything the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). He affirmed this same truth, saying that no one can snatch us out of His or the Father’s hands (John 10:28-29).
 
If we think that the Lord has suddenly abandoned us, we are walking by sight and not by faith. The reality is that we are the ones wavering, but Jesus and His promises have not changed. He is present, providing for our needs, and working for our good in every situation.

Devotional Title: How to Conquer Your Fears (10/25/21) 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 27:1-3
 
When the Spirit of fear begins to sink in, I pray harder, study longer, and read my Bible more closely. I decided long ago that I would not let apprehension stop me from doing what God calls me to do. However, before I can take a stand against fear, I have to admit it is there. That’s the key to conquering feelings of anxiety.
 
I imagine you, on occasion, may feel frightened too­—whether of failure, ridicule, loneliness, or something else entirely. There is no shame in admitting you’re afraid. In the Psalms, in fact, King David makes this confession several times! (See Psalm 34:4; Psalm 55:4-5.) His confessions are often wrapped in prayer, acknowledging the Lord’s power over his fears and his enemies. And these are examples we can follow.
 
That same power is available to you today. God wants to cast out the fear and doubt in your life. Are you willing to go before Him today and say, “Lord, I’m afraid of … ”?

Devotional Title: God Glasses (10/22/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Genesis 45:5 
 
Joseph could see the plan of God unfolding. Instead of focusing on all the injustice he suffered and the hardship he endured, he chose to focus on what God was doing through it all. Our perspective makes all the difference in our attitudes. When we see the invisible hand of God guiding us through life and bringing good out of what was meant for evil, we can have a forgiving attitude toward those who wrong us.
 
We are told so little about Joseph’s spiritual life, but we can see through his words that he consistently looked to God. To see life from the heavenly perspective is to wear proverbial “God glasses”. Most of the world sees life from a self-centred viewpoint. Joseph learned through his hardships that God has a completely different picture before Him. It takes faith and trust for us to wait to see a glimpse of what God sees.
 
God values every life for each is made in the image of God. The transformation from sinner to saint is the heart of God for each person. The conviction of God coupled with Joseph’s forgiveness were surely steps in the transformation of his brothers. That was greatest gift Joseph could have given his father, Israel. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give our heavenly Father. Is there someone who, by the grace of God, you need to forgive?
 
Consider: When life seems to be overwhelming and looks so unfair, ask yourself, “Do I have “God glasses” on, or am I wearing “me glasses”?

 

Devotional Title: Moments of Weakness (10/21/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Samuel 11:1-5
 
Temptations can come at any time, but they are especially dangerous in periods of weakness because that’s when we’re more prone to yield. The Scriptures are filled with descriptions of men and women who sinned against the Lord in moments of vulnerability. These true stories are given to us for our instruction so we can learn from the mistakes of others (1 Corinthians 10:11). 
 
While temptations come in a variety of forms, they follow a similar pattern. David’s sin is a good example of this. His eye looked, his mind desired, and his will acted. Resistance is difficult in the best of times, but it’s even more of a struggle during periods of anger, emptiness, idleness, or isolation—and that was the case for David, who should have been in battle instead of in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1). At the end of the day, no matter what’s creating the vulnerability, each person is responsible for his or her own actions.
 
In times of weakness, remember the acronym “HALT.” Don’t let yourself become too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Most importantly, fix your attention on the Lord and draw strength from Him through prayer. Use Scripture to guard your mind, and the Lord will give you victory over temptation.


Devotional Title: Friendship With The World (10/20/21) Weds

Key Bible Passage: James 4:4 

James 4 deals with our submission to God’s will by the power of the Holy Spirit. Saying it is one thing; doing it is another. Who does not want to be approved of and well regarded? We may not go out of our way to get approval, but there is something in us the gravitating in word and deed toward finding friendship with the world.
 
This is one of the hardest lessons of our walk of faith, but scripture time and again admonishes us about the reality of seeking holiness with God. Jesus at the Last Supper 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.’ I find that verse popping into my mind more and more as the world around us disintegrates in confusion.
 
Jesus said during the Sermon on the Mount, 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 blessed when persecuted. When we seek the righteousness of God we will be persecuted by the world. The world wants us on its terms, not God’s. The world tempts us with approval and self-gratification. Again, who seeks to be reviled, persecuted and falsely accused? Believers do not have to seek it. The world by its nature is at war with us. The world will bring persecution, mockery and ridicule to our doorstep whether we seek it or not.
 
In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus spoke of the future: Matthew 24:9-13 ‘Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.’ Jesus does not say ‘maybe’ or ‘might;’ He says ‘shall.’ Count on it. It comes with the territory of a believer, and that territory is living in the Kingdom of Heaven. We either live in the Kingdom, or we choose to be out of it in the world.
 
James 4:4 ‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.’ Perhaps there were literal adulterers among those James was addressing, but he is using the term in a prophetic sense. We are God’s Bride. We belong to Him. He does not share. We either are faithful to Him in our walk in this world of sin and death, or we commit adultery against Him. God takes our covenant relationship with Him that seriously. The though just occurred to me how marriages and family life are breaking down. Adultery does not have the stench it once had, and our culture shows it.
 
What is friendship with the world? Self-seeking and self-gratification come to mind. We seek material wealth and comfort. We seek carnal pleasure in alcohol, drugs, porn and promiscuity. We seek celebrity. We seek power. These are just examples, but a Spiritually discerning believer can fill in the blanks. All these things make us God’s enemies. They alienate us from His grace and providence because we choose to find an inferior replacement in the world for those things.  Romans 1:18-32 pulls no punches making clear how worldliness cannot be tolerated in the Kingdom of Heaven. That is your homework.
 
If someone finds themselves at odds more and more with the world, then take heart. Become worried when you become too comfortable and complacent walking through it. You should not be on easy street. I just cited the scripture.
 
Turning James 4:4 around. We are to be God’s Bride, and at enmity with the world. We do not have to go looking for the trouble. If we live a life of faith, the tribulation will come to us.

Devotional Title: The Blessings of Inadequacy (10/19/21) 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
 
Have you ever considered inadequacy a blessing? Life is filled with struggles that reveal our insufficiency, and it arouses uncomfortable emotions that make us feel useless, insignificant, and weak. No one likes the frustration and fear of facing challenges that are too big to handle, but God can use them for our good. Our job is to acknowledge our helplessness, depend on His strength, and step out with confidence in Him.
 
Inadequacy can be a blessing since it …
 
• Drives us to the Lord as we recognize our helplessness.
• Relieves us of trying to do God’s will in our own strength. 
• Motivates us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
• Provides opportunity for God to demonstrate His power. 
• Humbles our pride.
• Allows Christ to receive all the glory.
• Produces peace as we rely on Him.
 
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers have the ability to endure difficulty and accomplish whatever the Lord calls them to do. By claiming the adequacy of Christ, we can face every circumstance with confidence—not in ourselves but in God, who is totally capable.


Devotional Title: The Power of Your Conscience (10/18/21)  Monday 

Key Bible Passage: I Timothy 1:18-20
 
God gave us the gift of a conscience to act as a moral compass, but if we ignore it, we may suffer shipwreck. When writing to Timothy, Paul charged the young man to keep the truths of the faith and a good conscience. Ignoring either piece of advice could have put Timothy in danger.
 
The conscience is an inner monitor that judges our actions as right or wrong, but it is fallen and in need of redemption. Depending on how it’s been programmed, our moral compass even has the potential to nudge us in the wrong direction.
 
Paul himself is an illustration of this. His formal education as a Pharisee had taught him that Christians were a threat to God and the Jewish faith. His conscience had been programmed to see killing them as service to the Lord. So he passionately hunted believers down without a twinge of guilt. Only after Christ met him on the way to Damascus was his inner sense of right and wrong transformed and his life’s course altered.
 
We need the truths of faith to shape our conscience so we can trust it to lead us in the right direction. Take a moment to ask the Lord if anything is clouding your internal signals, and trust in His promise to make your path straight (Prov. 3:5-6).

Devotional Title: Ariel (10/15/21) Friday 

John Winthrop had a vision for the colony the Puritans established in the New World. He said, ‘we shall be as a City upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.’ Winthrop was probably referring to Jesus saying, Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.’ People argue over whether Jesus meant just the disciples, or all the people gathered to hear the Sermon on the Mount.

Either way, in time Jesus’ expression was taken to apply to God’s Elect, those who came to faith in Jesus Christ. In the same way, Winthrop’s vision for Massachusetts Bay Colony was applied to the establishment of the thirteen original states. The United States would be the heavenly City revealing God’s Light to the world.

It sounded great, and certainly appealed to men’s egos. The problem was, both for Jesus’ day and our time, men were expected to live up to the vision. The heavenly City was the City of God, and it was expected to be holy as He is holy. Just taking the name and not meeting the obligation would bring judgment.

The prophet Isaiah was directed by God to utter a woe on David’s city, Jerusalem. Even in Isaiah’s day, people understood Jerusalem to be symbolic of the nation. Isaiah began, Isaiah 29:1-2 ‘Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel.’ The word ‘Ariel’ was a symbolic name for Jerusalem. It literally meant ‘lion of God,’ but God is having Isaiah use it as a play on words because in other places in scripture (Eze. 43:15-16) it means ‘altar hearth’ or altar of burnt offering.

The blood would have drained from the faces of discerning listeners. Isaiah was pronouncing judgment. The City called the ‘lion of God’ would become an altar of burnt offering. Blood sacrifices were made on altars of burnt offerings. The sacrificial victim was burned on the altar and their blood carried away to the Valley of Hinnom. By the way, the Hebrew name for this burnt offering is a word from which we get the word holocaust. The City would become a burnt offering to God. They would atone for their sins with their own blood spilled not because God wanted it that way, but because their rebellion, disobedience and faithlessness asked for it. They would bring it on themselves. They could have been God’s Elect, but chose to glorify themselves, not Him.

Remember, the figure of the City was not meant to apply just to Jerusalem. It referred to the entire nation. Any nation that presumes to call itself the shining heavenly City will pay a fearful price if they choose not to live up to the obligations that go with the honor.

I leave it to those reading this post to do their homework and read the rest of Isaiah 29. However, I end with this passage without further comment. Isaiah 29:13-15 ‘Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

by David Anthony 

Devotional Title:  Gratitude in the Storms of Life (10/14/21) Thursday 

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

Jesus told us that we would have hardships (John 16:33), and He was right, wasn’t He? As unpleasant as trials are, there’s still reason for giving thanks. Yesterday, we looked at three provisions believers can count on during adversity: God’s presence, a pathway through the trouble, and potential to grow. Today, let’s explore two more.

1. Protection. God doesn’t keep believers from suffering or disappointment, but He does offer protection by staying with us in the struggle. Once we trust in Jesus, God’s Spirit indwells us and will never leave. What’s more, we have assurance that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). So our ever-present God walks with us through the hardships, providing guidance and speaking truth into the situation.

2. Peace. While difficulties cause many people anxiety, God’s peace is available to His followers. This inner serenity doesn’t depend on whether circumstances improve; it’s a result of our relationship with Him. For this reason, we should be more concerned about relying on God than about fixing the problem.

As we recognize the Lord’s provision, we can genuinely express gratitude, which will fix our eyes on Him rather than on our circumstances. We may not know what the purpose is for each trial, but we do know that our God is good and trustworthy.


Devotional Title:  What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? (10/13/21)  Wednesday 
Key Bible Passage: John 3:5-8
 
There is a great deal of misinformation regarding the meaning of the term “born again.” Such ignorance and confusion could have disastrous ramifications if those who think they are born again really aren’t.
 
In a conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus used this term to explain how one enters the kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus thought the Lord was referring to a subsequent physical birth and couldn’t fathom how this was possible, but Jesus was speaking in spiritual terms.
 
The original Greek phrase literally means “born from above,” signifying that this new birth originates with God, not with man. It also involves being born of water and the Spirit. To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be cleansed from our sins and regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
 
When you are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, there is a radical change within you. Your spirit, which was once dead to God, is made alive by the Holy Spirit, who now indwells you. He enables you to understand His spiritual truths and live in obedience to His Word. What begins as an invisible renewal will soon become increasingly visible in a righteous lifestyle.


Devotional Title: Because He Came, We Must Go (10/12/21) 

 
Key Bible Passage: Luke 2:40-52
 
It’s a growing trend among businesses and organizations to compose a mission statement in order to keep focused on what matters most. But the idea isn’t new—we can see that Jesus had a clear focus on the mission His Father gave Him. At the age of 12, He was able to identify His purpose by telling His parents that He had to be in His Father’s house (Luke 2:49).
 
Do you have a clear understanding of what God’s mission is for you? The Great Commission’s global mandate is so vast that we sometimes lose sight of how to implement it locally. People are saved one at a time whether at home or abroad, and God uses ordinary Christians as His messengers of the gospel.
 
We shouldn’t neglect the opportunities God provides in our own neighborhoods and workplaces. Ina D. Ogdon’s old hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” reminds us of this truth:  
Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do; 
Do not wait to shed your light afar. 
To the many duties ever near you now be true. 
Brighten the corner where you are.

Devotional Title: Life’s Greatest Investment (10/11/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Acts 9:10-18
 
What is the most worthwhile investment a person can make? It isn’t a retirement account, a lucrative career, or a fine house, though these are all good. There is no better way to invest time, energy, or resources than to help someone come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
 
When we first trusted in the Savior, God transferred us from the realm of darkness into the kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13). As a result, we became an instrument in His hands, useful for reaching others for Christ. When others turn from sin and receive the Lord’s salvation, their eternal destiny is altered. Not only that, but Satan also receives a devastating blow—all his plans for those individuals are thwarted. And as each new believer begins to live in God’s will, there’s no telling how far the Lord will extend His kingdom through them.
 
Furthermore, whenever you tell someone about the Savior, you’re carrying out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). This gigantic task is accomplished one person at a time, as we each do our part to share the gospel.
 
God’s plan for enlarging His kingdom is so simple—one person telling another about Jesus. Just think about being in heaven and seeing someone you introduced to Jesus. Your joy will far exceed any discomfort you may have felt in sharing the gospel.

Devotional Title: The Consequences of Unbelief (10/8/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: John 3:16-21
 
Many people think that rejecting Jesus is a choice without consequences. Although they don’t mind others following the Lord, they seem to be doing just fine without Him. However, they fail to consider both the present and eternal consequences of their unbelief.
 
Since God’s judgment is often seen as a future event, the urgency of salvation may be lost on people who want to enjoy the pleasures of earthly life and feel no need for a Savior. But Jesus said those who do not believe in Him have been judged already because they love darkness and don’t want their sins exposed by His light. In other words, they love their sin and are unwilling to turn from it. Living this way seems comfortable and allows them to rule their own life according to their desires.
 
There are also those who claim to believe in Jesus while still loving their sins and trying to hide them from His light. But attempts to have it both ways won’t work, and such people remain in darkness.
 
The pleasures of sin, however, are temporary (Heb. 11:25). The wise are those who truly believe and are eager to come to the light; they want nothing more to do with a godless lifestyle. Remember, it’s never too late to come to the Lord.

Devotional Title: When Human Strength Fails (10/7/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Samuel 11
 
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul says that God provides us an escape route whenever we are tempted. But what happens when we refuse to take the help and instead implement our own ideas? Eventually, our human strength fails, and we give in to temptation. So it was with King David. He’d experienced the Lord’s rescue countless times, but he still allowed temptation to fill his mind and dictate his actions. And it came with consequences.
 
In today’s passage, we see that David took some time off and stayed at the palace, which probably appeared harmless enough—one of the perks of being king. And requesting Bathsheba’s presence must have seemed like a pathway to pleasure. But these choices led to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband and set in motion a cover-up. Ultimately, the Lord demanded an accounting.
 
Like David, we may consider the company we keep, places we go, and choices we make as relatively harmless. But later, after we’ve succumbed to temptation, we’re filled with regret.
 
Fortunately, that is not the end of the story for the king or for us. David’s heartfelt repentance was accepted by God, and if we confess, ours will be, too (1 John 1:9). Ask the Lord today for discernment to recognize the temptations in front of you and the strength to take His way of escape.

Devotional Title: Run With Endurance (10/6/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Hebrews 12:1-3
 
Athletic contests were popular in New Testament times, so it makes sense that the writer of Hebrews likened the Christian life to a race. Following Christ isn’t a short sprint but a marathon with many obstacles, hardships, and unexpected turns.
 
To encourage us on the course we’re running, God has given us a “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). These are saints from the past who faithfully walked with Him through all the trials and challenges of life (Heb. 11:4-38). Their examples inspire us to trust the Lord and obey Him no matter how difficult and confusing the hurdles in our path may be.
 
We are also urged us to “rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us” (Heb. 12:1). If we’re going to be sustained throughout the race, we must honestly examine our life for anything that might prevent us from knowing the Lord and following Him. It could be habitual sin, an idol, worldly distractions, or false teaching that we’ve accepted as true.
 
And, of course, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the ultimate example of faithful endurance: He suffered for us on the cross so that we could be with Him forever.

 

Devotional Title: Satisfaction With God’s Word (10/5/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 4:1-4
 
Spiritually, we’ve all had dry seasons, so you probably understand the desire for renewed vitality in your relationship with Christ. Perhaps you tried the latest devotional book people rave about, sought an emotional experience through worship music, tried to gain momentum by attending a conference, or looked online for a message that assured growth.
 
Although these methods all seem promising, they’re not infallible. On their own, some might afford short-lived solutions, but others could actually be ear ticklers that lead away from genuine intimacy with Christ. To be strengthened spiritually, it’s essential to start with the Bible—the only source of absolute truth. While other Christian resources can be helpful, they become far more valuable when used as building blocks on the trustworthy foundation of God’s Word. All other avenues have potential for human slant. Even seeking the Lord in prayer is not foolproof without the Word, which provides the basis for our requests and fellowship with Him.
 
Some believers see the Bible as a big book that takes too much time and effort to understand, so they look elsewhere for answers. They want a shortcut to sanctification and intimacy with the Lord, but there really isn’t one. God’s Word is His love letter to you. As you spend time with this gift and lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance, your appreciation of it will grow.

Devotional Title: God’s Answers (10/4/21) Monday 

Key Bible Reading: Daniel 9:20-27 

Key Bible Passage: Daniel 9:21 

Daniel poured out his heart to God (Dan. 9:2). He had read Jeremiah and rediscovered God’s promise that Israel’s captivity in Babylon would last 70 years. So, in an effort to represent his people before God, Daniel fasted and prayed. He pleaded with God not to delay in rescuing His people (v. 19). 

When we pray, there are things we can know and other things we cannot. For instance, we have the assurance that God will hear our prayer if we know Him as our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus, and we know that His answer will come according to His will. But we don’t know when the answer will come or what it will be.  

For Daniel, the answer to his prayer came in miraculous fashion, and it came immediately. While he was praying, the angel Gabriel arrived to provide the answer. But the nature of the answer was as surprising as the quick reply. While Daniel asked God about”70 years,” the answer was about a prophetic “70 weeks of years.” Daniel asked God for an answer about the here and now, but God’s answer had to do with events thousands of years into the future. 

Focused as we are with our immediate situation, we may be shocked by God’s answer. Yet we can know that the answer will be for His glory. 

By Dave Branon 

I know not by what methods rare, 

But this I know–God answers prayer; 

I leave my prayers with Him alone, 

Whose will is wiser than my own. 

By Hickok

 

Devotional Title: Characteristics of the Lord’s Servants (9/30/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 2:24-26
 
When we hear the phrase “serving God,” we usually think of activities like teaching Sunday school or visiting the sick. But the most important thing about a servant of the Lord is character. Though today’s passage was written about pastors, it is applicable to every believer.
 
Those who serve God are not to be quarrelsome but instead should show kindness and patience when wronged. Frequently we want to argue our point and fight for our rights. And if offended, we’re quick to retaliate or hold a silent grudge. But Paul advises us to instead exercise self-control and respond with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
 
God wants His children to know how to instruct and correct others with gentleness (2 Timothy 2:25). All believers—even those of us who aren’t specifically gifted to teach—should be able to convey biblical truths, explain the gospel, and wisely correct those who have believed false teaching.
 
Finally, we must pray for those who don’t know God, asking Him to lead them to repentance and knowledge of the truth. Only the Lord can save, but He uses His children’s godly responses to open doors.

Devotional Title: The Wisdom of Waiting on God (9/29/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage:Psalm 130
 
During hard times, it’s easy to wonder why the Lord is taking so long to bring relief. Like the psalmist, we cry to God “out of the depths” for help (Psalm 130:1), but as time drags on, we may be tempted to take matters into our own hands. Believers, however, are not to operate as the world does, determining a course of action based on human reasoning or the example of others. Instead, our guidance is to come from God, and our hope is to be in His Word (Psalm 130:5-6).
 
It’s important that we cooperate with Him so the time spent waiting will prove productive and beneficial. God can use such “holding patterns” to reveal sinful behaviors or thinking and to develop new heart attitudes. Waiting can also provide an opportunity to deepen our trust and dependence on Him. And when we follow God’s timetable, He gives us the grace to endure difficult situations with confidence and peace. It’s a blessing to know we’re where God wants us and He’s promised to take care of us.
 
If you’re in God’s waiting room, remember that He is your hope—and in His time He will move you forward.

Devotional Title: When We Feel Frustrated (9/28/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Numbers 22
 
Most of us have experienced frustration when it comes to personal issues. But what do we do when we are frustrated and the roadblock comes from God Himself?
 
Sometimes God uses frustration to get our attention. It can help us think about things we wouldn’t otherwise consider and perhaps redirect our path toward something new or different. So when you are harried by feelings of anxiety or restlessness, don’t rush to bury or escape them. Instead, consider them internal signals, as if your conscience is saying, “It’s time to turn inward, listen, and process your feelings.”
 
Rest assured, if these stirrings are from God, they will not go away, and when they recur, we need to give Him our undivided attention. We will begin to see that He loves us enough to send something very specific to set us on a new path with Him.
 
It is an honor to have our sovereign Creator invested in our personal life–so invested, in fact, that He may frustrate us in order to show us a better way. At the end of the day, it’s all because of His great love and His commitment to conform us to the image of His Son.

Devotional Title: Spiritual Growth (9/27/21) 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 5:1-5

The Holy Spirit’s presence is essential for the Christian life. Despite our best efforts, we have no ability to produce Christlike character on our own. Although we’ve been declared righteous through faith in Jesus, we still succumb to sin, pressures of the world, and the deceptions and temptations of the devil.

Thankfully, we have a resource that is greater than any hindrance—God’s omnipotent, indwelling Spirit. He continually works to transform us into Christ’s image by giving us holy desires and ambitions, making us sensitive to His leading, and empowering our obedience and service. When we’re submissive to the Spirit, we grow in our faith and resemble Jesus more and more.

However, this doesn’t mean that we play no part in the process. The practical truth is that we must exercise obedient attitudes even if we’re feeling otherwise. These include loving the unlovable, choosing joy instead of grumbling, being kind when we’d rather respond with harshness, and practicing patience despite frustration or anger. And the great mystery is that when we rely on the Spirit, our heart changes—love takes root, joy fills our heart, kindness feels right, and patience produces a peaceful spirit.

Devotional Title: Pursuing God (9/24/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 63:1-8
 
If I were to ask whether you’d like a deeper relationship with God, you would probably say yes. But are you willing to do what is necessary to achieve it? Many Christians today are trying to find a shortcut to a closer relationship with the Father. But intimacy takes times and effort; knowing God better is a lifelong pursuit. Here’s how we discover the depths of His character through His Word: 
 
Meditation involves reading a Bible passage several times and thoughtfully considering what it says about God. Today’s psalm, for example, encourages us to ponder the Lord’s power, glory, and lovingkindness.  
 
Study allows us to draw from several Bible passages to gain a greater understanding of the Lord. We benefit by considering the context and writing style of the verses and then asking ourselves what they reveal about God.
 
Prayer is our response to meditation and study of the Word. What we discover about God overflows into praise, gratitude, and petitions that align with His will.
 
We can’t cut corners if we want to walk closely with the Lord. But the rewards of a deep relationship with Him are worth the wait and effort—only through intimacy with Him will we know true satisfaction and joy.

Devotional Title: Wholehearted Devotion (9/23/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Chronicles 31:20-21
 
King Hezekiah of Judah faithfully served the Lord with his whole heart (2 Chronicles 29:2). After the nation had fallen into idolatry, he reestablished proper worship of God. But his devotion to the Lord also extended into his personal life, and that’s exactly how we should live as well.  Our seeking after God should be characterized by:
 
• Wholeheartedness. A united heart has one preeminent desire—to please the Lord. But a divided heart tries to live both for self and for God. Warning that we cannot serve two masters, Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him (Matt. 6:24; Luke 9:23).
 
• Diligence. Devotion to God includes careful attention to His Word and unwavering effort to obey Him. Faith is the foundation upon which we diligently build qualities of Christian maturity (2 Peter 1:5-8).
 
• Persistence. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. We need endurance to overcome obstacles that hinder us from finishing the course God has set for us (Heb. 12:1).
 
Living wholeheartedly for the Lord is impossible in our own strength. But if we’ll humble ourselves and ask, He will give us the grace to diligently and persistently live for Him.

Devotional Title: Is God in Every Circumstance? (9/22/21) Weds

Key Bible Passage: Genesis 50:15-21

As we grow in our Christian faith, we move from the milk of elementary truths to the meatier issues of Scripture that challenge our heart and our thinking. One of those deeper concepts is the question of whether God is involved in every circumstance. Spiritually, it gives us a lot to “chew on” because the answer goes against our natural reasoning.

For example, Joseph was treated cruelly by his brothers, suffering enslavement and imprisonment in Egypt because of their hatred. We tend to wonder, How could a good God have been involved in that painful circumstance? Yet He worked it all for good, eventually moving Joseph to a position of power as Pharaoh’s right-hand man. (See Genesis 37-39).

When we ponder Scripture’s deeper teachings, it’s important to start with the truths about the Lord’s character, power, and promises. These form a foundation that can help us understand His role in both the triumphs and tragedies of life.

Although we can’t always grasp what God is doing in our circumstances, we can rely on His promise to work all things together for good to those who belong to Him (Rom. 8:28). It’s important to remember that nothing touches us without passing though His loving, sovereign hands.

Devotional Title: Lessons From a Man on the Run (9/21/21) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Jonah 1

Have you ever tried to run from God? Most of us won’t try to escape physically by fleeing to another place, the way Jonah did. But we’re experts at ignoring God’s commands, distracting ourselves with busyness, and offering an alternative plan in place of full obedience. No matter how we rationalize and excuse ourselves, rebellion leads only to pain and suffering.

While running from the Lord, Jonah overlooked some essentials that we should all keep in mind. He incorrectly assumed that fleeing would be a way to avoid obeying God, but the Lord is not deterred by our attempts at manipulation. As David once wrote, He’ll pursue us even to the “remotest part of the sea” (Psalm 139:9).

Jonah also overlooked the fact that disobedience will, figuratively speaking, bring a person down. But notice that the reluctant prophet actually experienced this in a more literal way as well: After initially going down to Joppa, he proceeded down into a ship, and ultimately found himself plunging into the depths of the sea (Jonah 1:15).

Running from God is futile—there’s no hiding place because we are always visible to the Lord. So instead of trying to flee His presence, we should welcome it.

Devotional Title: Questions in Times of Calamity (9/20/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Isaiah 55:8-9
 
Anytime a natural disaster strikes, it’s understandable that big questions come to mind—about things like life, death, and why we are here. The magnitude of death and destruction caused by earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, or floods displaces our normal everyday thoughts, leading us instead to seek explanations for suffering.
 
Often we answer our own questions based on our personal understanding of God. If He does something that doesn’t fit into the box we’ve designed for Him, we easily become angry or confused. Since we are mortal, earth-bound, and sinful, we have a limited understanding of how life actually works. But our eternal, sinless, and sovereign Creator is omniscient—He sees and knows what we cannot perceive. 
 
God has given us His Word to help us wrestle through these difficult issues and grow in our knowledge of Him. An accurate viewpoint of the Lord’s role in natural disasters must come from the Bible, not from our own narrow perspective of life. Of course, we’ll never be able to fully comprehend such a mighty, transcendent God, but the more we understand how He works in the world, the greater our trust in Him will be. Keep in mind, however, that when His ways defy comprehension, then faith in His goodness, love, and wisdom must be our foundation.

Devotional Title: Discerning The Time (9/17/21) Friday

Key Bible Passage: Ecclesiastes 3:1 

People often speak of the ‘arrow of time.’ The expression implies time does not just go places, but has a purpose when it gets there. We read in scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1 ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:’
 
We often forget this about time. We make it impersonal, and automatic. Time ‘passes,’ and because of the distractions of life we may not see the purpose in the passage of time. The clocks run ‘tick-tock,’ but scripture tells us it runs for a reason, and the reason is a lot deeper than not letting us oversleep and be late for work. 
 
Science tells us time is a dimension. Dimensions can change. Time speeds up or slows down. The faster an object travels, the slower time passes. If we reached the speed of light, time would stop. Time is not the same on Mars as it is on Earth. It is six minutes difference in time between Earth and Mars. We are in different places and times in the Universe. Light from the nearest star takes four years to reach us. When we look at the nearest star, we are seeing what it looked like four years ago. When we see a galaxy three billion light years from us, we are seeing what it looked like three billion years ago.
 
Does that mean we cannot depend on time? Does that mean we might as well pitch the clocks? This is where we must make a distinction between time as a thing and time as a purpose. What is time’s ‘purpose under the heaven?’ This is where the expression ‘arrow of time’ takes on deeper meaning.
 
God’s Law is referred to in the Hebrew scriptures as ‘torah.’ It is applied to the first five books of the Old Testament, sometimes called the Books of Moses. What does ‘torah’ mean? It is based on another Hebrew word meaning to flow as water, to shoot an arrow, to point out, to instruct, to inform or to teach. In other words, God’s teaching is the target at which we aim. Time’s purpose is to be the ‘arrow’ we use to reach the target God wants us to reach.
 
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that good an aim. The eyes aren’t what they used to be, and they weren’t that good to begin with. That does not mean I do not try to see things properly. I strive to see them as clearly as I can. The purpose of our sojourn in this world is to apply our time aiming to hit the target of God’s purpose for us.
 
Has God left us without help in this regard? Jesus promised: John 14:26 ‘But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.’ 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:’
The Holy Spirit equips us to discern the time and our purpose. How come we fall short? It is not because God has left us without help. It is because our sinful nature often fails to accept the help and guidance God provides. He wants us to discern the time and our purpose for which He put us in Creation. It is up to us. Paul said: Philippians 2:12-13 ‘Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.’ 
 
What is God’s pleasure? We take time to hit the target of His purpose for us.
 
by David Anthony 

Devotional Title: When We’re Tempted to Quit (9/16/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: James 1:2-12
 
Have you ever thought, I can’t take this anymore or I give up? These phrases have the power to change the direction of our life. Let’s look at three things that could cause these sentiments.
 
1. Satan and his angels. Through their involvement, we can be tempted to stop waiting on God for solutions and instead seek our own way out. Or the enemy may try to redirect our focus away from Jesus and onto our negative emotions. If he can make us feel helpless and hopeless, then he is successfully distracting us from God. 
 
2. The world. Ungodly people are always ready to give believers advice. We need God’s wisdom to set ourselves apart from their thinking and yet stay connected enough to share God’s message of hope with them.
 
3. Our own flesh. We have a tendency to do what feels good and benefits us, but God’s way is always best and the most fulfilling.
 
If you have ever wanted to give up, you’ve probably been influenced by one or more of these factors. But God has good purpose for the trials He allows in our life: They produce perseverance that helps to mature us as Christians. When we look at things from that perspective, we can actually “consider it all joy” to have struggles (James 1:2-4).
 

Devotional Title: God’s Loving Outreach (9/15/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage:John 4:1-42

The Lord’s encounter with the Samaritan woman is a wonderful example of His loving response to hurting individuals. Although this meeting may have appeared accidental, it was really a providential appointment with the Messiah.   

As the woman approached the well, Jesus initiated conversation by asking for a drink of water. Since Jews and Samaritans didn’t fraternize with one another, His direct approach surprised her. But it opened the door for dialogue.

Throughout the exchange, Jesus wanted to help the woman recognize her greatest need so He could meet it: salvation. It seems she’d been looking in the wrong places for love and acceptance, but now Christ was offering her the living water of the Holy Spirit—the only thing that would quench her spiritual thirst.

Like the Samaritan woman, we can at times be so intent on getting our immediate needs met that we fail to see God’s hand reaching out in love, offering true satisfaction. The world makes all kinds of promises about love, acceptance, and self-worth, but they never last. Only Jesus can fill our empty souls for eternity. So when your well runs dry, look for Christ and let Him quench your thirst with His Spirit.

Devotional Title: When Life Crumbles (9/14/21) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 46

In those frightening times when our well-ordered life appears to disintegrate around us, what are we to do? Today’s psalm gives valuable advice that can steady us in the midst of chaos.

Remember that “God is our refuge and strength, a very ready help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)—and that security is found in Him, not in this world. Troubles will come, but we can rest in the knowledge that He is sovereign over every situation and will bring about His good purposes for those who seek refuge in Him.

Next, our heavenly Father admonishes us to stop striving and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). In other words, we’re to rest in Him and the truths of His Word instead of fretting, panicking, and trying to control or manipulate the situation toward our desired end.

Peace comes through trusting in the Lord’s sovereign control, submitting to Him in the midst of our circumstances, and believing that He will work it out for our good and His glory. Ultimate relief comes in eternity, but until then, we have His strength to help us in times of trial. Keep an eternal perspective and live by faith, not by sight.

Devotional Title: Evaluating Your Faith (9/13/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Mark 11:20-24

It’s a good idea to pause every now and then to evaluate our spiritual development. Although we will experience different phases of faith throughout life, our goal should be to continue growing. Which phase sounds like you?

Hesitant faith is characterized by struggling to believe God: We hope He’ll answer our prayer, but we’re just not sure. Sometimes doubts creep in because we’re looking at the situation, not at the Lord and His Word. Or maybe our problem is that we just don’t know what God has said in the Bible, so we have no real anchor.

Courageous faith involves stretching to believe the Lord more and more. Christians in this phase take steps to follow God and discover He is faithful to His Word.

Perfect faith is characterized by resting in the Lord, with confidence in Him and a heart aligned with His will. We are thankful as we watch His promises become a reality. Though we hope to practice this kind of faith every day, we won’t truly perfect it in this lifetime.

No matter which description best fits your faith today, the best way to grow is by regularly feeding on the Word of God. Cling tightly to His promises.

Devotional Title: Increasing Faith (9/10/21) Friday 

Key Bible Passage:  I Kings 17

We’d all like to have great faith that stands firm in the face of challenges and difficulties. But God doesn’t enlarge our faith instantly; it’s a slow process that happens over our lifetime and often involves trials. Each time we choose to believe the Lord and step out in obedience, we gain greater confidence to trust Him the next time.

Elijah shows us what increasing faith looks like. He relied on the Lord to provide food and water at the brook, and he did so again in Zarephath—the miracle this time providing for a widow and her son as well. Then, we read about an even greater demonstration of faith, when he prayed that the Lord would raise the widow’s son to life. On each of these occasions, Elijah stepped out in obedience and experienced the reliability of God. As a result, his faith grew stronger.

There will be opportunities for you to believe in the Lord and respond with obedience. These situations are what we often call “problems.” Try looking at each difficulty as an opportunity designed by God specifically for the purpose of increasing your faith as you see His dependability in action. With each step of obedience, your trust in Him will strengthen.

Devotional Title: Our Firm Foundation (9/9/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 62

At certain moments throughout history, God literally shook the earth. The ground quaked as His Son died on the cross (Matt. 27:51), and there will be an even greater upheaval in the future when Christ returns (Zech. 14:4).

But even in our present day, the Lord often lets the various foundations of our world shake—whether political alliances, financial systems, or other forms of human security. That’s when we can see the flimsiness of the institutions on which we’ve based our hopes. Not to mention that our personal lives can also be rocked by financial crises, relational conflicts, illness, or loss. If we’ve relied on the fragile footing of human wisdom, achievement, or pride, things may look good for a while, but a weak foundation cannot withstand the storms of life.

The believer, however, can have peace even in the midst of instability. That’s because we know God always has a purpose for the upheavals He allows to occur. Hardships have a way of shaking us out of our apathy and self-centeredness, and they serve as reminders not to trust in ourselves or the temporary institutions of this world. There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, saving relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry us through any and all turmoil.

Devotional Title: Ignoring God (9/8/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage:Psalm 81:8-16

Most of us dislike being ignored. We feel frustrated and overlooked when our concerns are disregarded, especially by loved ones. Yet this is often how we treat the One who loves us the most—the Lord.  He is always attentive to every detail of our life, but we’re often too distracted by our own interests to think about Him.

Our God—who formed each of us in the womb and gives us life, breath, and all we have—deserves our full attention. Sadly, a majority of the world ignores Him, but those of us who have received His divine mercy, forgiveness, and grace should make Him our top priority.

Distractions come in many forms. Usually it’s the pleasures and cares of this world that cause us to forget about God. We’re so busy pursuing our own desires and agendas that we fail to stop and consider what pleases Him.

To change this trend, we must learn what the Lord desires for us, as revealed in His Word. When we begin to think the way He does, we’ll see our life through a filter of Scripture and have a desire to please Him.


Devotional Title: Evangelism: Every Believer’s Calling (9/7/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Acts 1:1-8
 
One Sunday a man approached me between services to share his story. He had been addicted to drugs and was leading a hopeless life when he heard a Scripture verse in a sermon. He said that one passage led him to place his trust in Jesus Christ.
 
We all have a story. Oftentimes the more we surrender to God, the more we see His hand in our life. And the more we watch Him work, the more we want to share with others what He has done.
 
The same was true of the disciples, who gathered around Jesus before His ascension. They heard His command to spread the gospel, make disciples, and baptize people from all nations. Surely this seemed like an overwhelming task for a handful of followers, but they obeyed. Their personal experiences with Christ undoubtedly motivated them to share the good news, and they also must have gained confidence from Jesus’ promise of His presence and power.
 
Are you passionately telling others about Christ? One of our highest callings is to tell others about Him. As was true for the early Christians, our own experience with the Savior is the most exciting and convincing story to tell.

Devotional Title: Provoked By A Foolish Nation (9/3/21) Friday 

It is a labor of love to wade through Old Testament books like Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Some Christians rationalize not studying them claiming such books no longer have meaning for us. They handicap their understanding of the New Testament.

Deuteronomy is called the Song of Moses. It is hard to put the song into a category. It has history, thanksgiving, praise, worship and prophetic judgment. The category of judgment should cause Christians to read the Song. Earlier passages in Deuteronomy had prophesied blessings and curses upon the Hebrews. We are tempted to think Deuteronomy is just about Hebrews.

Deuteronomy 32:15 ‘But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.’ ‘Jeshurun’ is a less well-known euphemism for Israel. We might paraphrase the verse as ‘they have grown fat and happy.’ They had become self-satisfied settling for sin and idolatry. They ‘lightly esteemed’ God. They took Him for granted, or worse, forgot Him altogether. He was supposed to be the ‘Rock’ their redemption depended upon. Yes, ‘on Christ the solid Rock I stand, all else is sinking sand.’ Jesus gave an analogy of faith: Matthew 7:24-26 ‘Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:’

Get it? Jesus, not us, is the Rock.  Deuteronomy 32:20 ‘And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.’ Do not be mistaken. God is holy. Sin cannot be in His presence. Nevertheless, ‘I will see their end.’ God will observe the judgment we call upon ourselves when we no longer want Him looking out for us. He will let us have what we ask for.

Deuteronomy 32:21 ‘They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.’  Hebrews, and later Jews, deluded themselves into thinking they were God’s people because of who they were. In their eyes, God could not have chosen anyone else because the Hebrews were ‘all that.’ They would take His mercy and grace for granted, because they would come to think they did not need His mercy and grace. Why? They were special because they said so.

Such arrogance provokes God. In this fearful prophetic verse God tells them what He will do to prove He is in charge. God will turn the tables, make Hebrews jealous by choosing ‘those which are not people,’ a ‘foolish nation.’ God will make them His people, because He chooses, people do not. It is prophecy of the saving grace of the atoning Blood of Jesus which covers anybody God chooses to cover with it.

For those, Jew or Gentile, who reject God’s gracious gift: Deuteronomy 32:22-24 ‘For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.

God does not choose because we are Jew or Gentile. He does not choose because we are black, brown, yellow, red or white. God does not choose based upon mistaken pride in ourselves. Anyone who rejects a this divine principle will face God’s wrath.

There are a lot of folks who need a ‘wake up.’ Pridefulness and presumption are running riot through the world. The world is a foolish nation.

God’s grace was to warn us when we provoke Him. God will not stand for it much longer.

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: The Answer for Discouragement (9/2/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 42:6-11

Situations in life sometimes cause us to lose hope. Occasional discouragement is normal because it’s part of living in a fallen world. The more important issue is how we respond. As believers, it’s possible for us to experience joy and peace even when our expectations aren’t met.

Following the example in today’s reading, begin by looking upward and telling the Lord that you are in despair. Ask Him to help you place your focus on Him instead of your circumstances. Recognize that it’s not just a situational problem but a spiritual issue as well. Get into God’s Word to discover what He wants to do in your life through the disappointment and pain. Notice how He used hardships in the lives of biblical characters like Joseph and David. Then remember His past faithfulness to you.

You may hurt for a season, but you don’t have to be overwhelmed to the point of giving up. As a Christian, you can take refuge in your all-powerful, all-wise, loving heavenly Father. Recall how He has worked in previous times of discouragement, and rest assured that this situation will be another faithfulness story to add to your collection.

Devotional Title: Investing Your Time (9/1/21) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Ephesians 5:7-17

Time is a most valuable commodity. Since it’s irreversible and irreplaceable, we ought to give careful consideration to how we spend our days—and even our minutes. Time is a gift from God, which means we aren’t owners but stewards who will one day give an account for how we used what was entrusted to us.

Those who realize their days belong to God are careful how they live. They want to understand the Lord’s will and seek His guidance each day through intimate fellowship with Him in the Word and prayer.

But those who are foolish do not give adequate thought to the way they live. Some become unproductive and lazy, living for their own pleasures. But even those who are busy and successful by worldly standards may be wasting their time if their schedules aren’t aligned with God’s will.

To make the most of your opportunities, try beginning each day with the Lord, asking Him to direct your activities. None of us want to arrive in heaven and discover that although we’ve been busy spending our time, we’ve failed to invest it for eternity.

Devotional Title: Crucified With Christ (8/31/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Galatians 2:20

What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? Does it mean we have to suffer in some way? Or is there some other spiritual meaning to it? The crucified life is one where we die to the old life before we came to Christ and live as a new creation. We no longer live for ourselves but to please Christ. We put all of our trust in Jesus Christ because he gave himself for us.

*Put to Death:*

When we decide to follow Jesus, we decide to put to death our old life. We crucify it because we need to submit to His will. Christ has to be greater in our lives than anything else. If there is competition, we will be distracted and indifferent people. To live the crucified life means to deny ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we live as a monk with no pleasures. Denial means that when we are presented with two options, we chose the one that is going to glorify Christ over the one which will give us satisfaction.

*Life of Sacrifice:*

The Crucified life also means that we live by a different agenda. Our life is no longer our own but is surrendered to the will of Jesus Christ. Each day we seek his direction. To accomplish this, we are equipped with the Holy Spirit. The life Jesus is calling us to is one of sacrifice on the front end but with rich rewards on the back end. We need to live each day for Jesus. That may mean that nothing in our life changes except our heart, but that changes our attitude and how we look at life. That, in turn, will change the outcome.

Devotional Title: Praying in a Crisis (8/30/21) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: James 5:13-20
 
When was the last time you cried out to God about something other than personal issues? Sometimes we’re so engrossed in our own life that we fail to see the crises others face. Whether circumstances involve total strangers or hit close to home, it may feel as if such matters are too big for one person’s prayer to make a difference.
 
Well, don’t believe it. James 5:16 assures us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (NIV). In order to accomplish His will in Israel, the Lord used Elijah’s prayers in a mighty way, even though the prophet was just a human being like us.  
 
Almighty God is able to heal, bring peace, and change circumstances, and He has chosen to let His children participate in the process through prayer. He instructs us to talk with Him about everything (Phil. 4:6) and promises to hear and answer our requests that align with His will (1 John 5:14-15).
 
You can have an impact on the lives of others when you intercede on their behalf. So let news of a tragedy or problem—regardless of whether it affects you—become a catalyst to talk to God.
 

Devotional Title: Emptying The Cross of Power (8/27/2021) Friday 

Key Bible Passage:  1 Corinthians  1:17

Paul is addressing divisions and confusion in the congregation of the Church in Corinth. They were dividing themselves over various teachers and preachers following this one or that one, instead of concentrating on their faith in Jesus.

To make the point of keeping himself out of such divisive talk, Paul said: 1 Corinthians 1:13 ‘Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?’ The last question cut like a knife. The hilarity of thinking anyone should be baptized in any name other than the name of Jesus. The word ‘name’ refers to the power and authority of the person. A name far more than a word on a page.

Paul goes on to say he was thankful he did not baptize many people in Corinth, not because he did not want to baptize people, but he did not want Corinthians to make the mistake thinking it was Paul’s power that baptized people. It was the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit which baptized people. Speaking of John the Baptist, Jesus said, Acts 1:5 ‘For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.’ John the Baptist confirmed that saying, Matthew 3:11 ‘I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:’

Apparently, some people in the Corinthian church needed correction and clarity on this point. Paul then said something that can cause a lot of mischief if taken out of context: 1 Corinthians 1:17 ‘For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.’ Was Paul saying he had no authority to baptize? Was Paul violating the commission of Jesus? Matthew 28:19 ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:’

Paul was not saying baptism is not important or that he was not authorized to do so. What he was saying was we should take care not to substitute the ceremony itself, and the person officiating, as our salvation. Baptism is the outer, public display of the inner working of the Holy Spirit. It is the Person of the Holy Spirit that is the sign of salvation. If Paul does not baptize anyone else to put focus back on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then he will be content to put the focus where it should be.

Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross is the saving work. Christ’s atoning Blood does it all. We make Jesus’ saving act to be ‘of none effect’ if we presume salvation comes any other way from any other person. The NIV translates that last clause, ‘the Cross of Christ emptied of its power.’ Which sincere, Spirit-filled believer would take Jesus down off the Cross, and substitute themselves and their blood for His?

We are not to presume to put anything or anyone between the sinner, the Blood of Jesus and the work of the Person of the Holy Spirit. We to submit all our talents and skills to see Jesus glorified through our baptism.

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: A Word More Sure (8/26/2021) 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Peter 1:16-21

When the Lord invited Peter, James, and John to ascend a mountain with Him, their lives were forever changed by what they saw and heard. As Jesus was transfigured before them, they were stunned by a dazzling display of His glory: His face shone like the sun, His clothes became a brilliant white, and a bright cloud covered them all. Then they heard a voice out of the cloud saying, “This is My beloved Son … listen to Him!” (Matt. 17:1-5).

But years later, when Peter described this amazing experience in a letter to believers, he was able to say he knew there was something even greater—“the prophetic word made more sure” (2 Peter 1:19). That’s why the message Peter received on the mountain is also the most important one for us: “Listen to Jesus.”

Today the Lord speaks to us through His Word. Although many people rely on their own experiences for guidance, the Bible is the authoritative voice of God—it’s a lamp shining in the darkness, showing us truth (Psalm 119:105). Any message that doesn’t agree with Scripture is false. What a blessing to have such a sure standard! It deserves our attention above all else


Devotional Title: Drawing From the Source (8/25/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: John 4:7-14

True contentment is determined by our attitude and responses rather than by our circumstances. And because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation.

The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23). He knew that the treasure he possessed within could never be stolen. And that gave Paul confidence in his identity as a child of God, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.

I want to challenge you: This week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to lean on God. When you find yourself becoming anxious or angry, stop and say, “Lord, You are my source. Provide me with the capacity to be kind, the forgiveness I need to extend, and the love I need to express.”

Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw from Him as your source. You’ll be surprised at your own attitude: When you respond from within—rather than from the flesh—Jesus will lead you to genuine contentment.

Devotional Title: The Slow Process of Erosion (8/24/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage:Romans 12:1-2

When you hear the word erosion, what comes to mind? Most likely, you think about how land or rocks wear away over an extended period of time. In the same manner, erosion in our spiritual lives tends to happen subtly over the course of months or years.

What causes this spiritual stagnation and deterioration? The answer is often conformity to the world’s methods and values, plus compromise with sin. The process of erosion begins in the mind when we let our thoughts, attitudes, and desires be shaped by culture. Before long, we begin to conform to the godless and sinful behavior around us.

Is your spiritual life where you want it to be? Has it been gradually weakened by the pressures of the world? Are you letting social media, other people’s opinions, and the culture shape your reasoning, desires, and ambitions? If so, the way to counteract the erosion is to turn back to the Lord in obedience and let Scripture renew your mind with His truth. As you learn to see life from God’s perspective, your desires and behaviors will conform to His perfect will.

Devotional Title: Obedience From a Soft Heart (8/23/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Jonah 4

What most people know about Jonah is that he was swallowed by a big fish while trying to run from God. But the portion of the story that’s often overlooked is what happened after the prophet obeyed. He eventually went to Nineveh to warn the people of divine wrath, and they responded by turning away from wickedness. Their response should have made Jonah ecstatic, but because Nineveh and Israel were enemies, he became angry over their repentance and God’s mercy on them.

Being trapped inside a fish may have convinced Jonah to obey God’s command, but his heart had not changed. He still desired the Ninevites’ destruction, and his bitterness and reluctance showed through in spite of his righteous actions.

God is not fooled by good behavior that springs from a hard heart. Obeying Him with an unwilling spirit may achieve His purpose, but we lose the joy of our reward. Perhaps the Lord has called you to serve Him in a way that is personally challenging. As you commit to following His will, pray also for a soft heart. You will find peace and blessing in doing the work when you follow Him with a humble spirit.


Devotional Title : Holding On to Hope

Key Bible Passage: I Samuel 1:1-18

Clinging to hope is difficult when circumstances are miserable and show no signs of improving. This can be especially discouraging when we know that our all-powerful God could remedy the situation and fulfill our dreams but hasn’t.

This is probably how Hannah felt. She was heartbroken because “the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5). This alone was a source of great disgrace for a Hebrew woman of that day. But Hannah suffered even more because of the deliberate provocation by her husband’s other wife, who was blessed with children.

Yet Hannah was a woman of great faith, even in the midst of her disappointment and pain. She never gave up on God but let her pain drive her to Him. In desperation, she poured her heart out to the Lord and promised that if He’d fulfill her desire for a son, she would give Him the child.

Hannah’s example of faith is an encouragement to lay our hopes before God—the only One who can fulfill our desires or align them with His will. Then, knowing that all we have is His, let’s be willing to give back to the Father whatever He gives us.

Devotional Title: God Holds You Fast (8/19/2021) 

Key Bible Passage: Romans 8:31-39

Have you ever wondered whether you’re truly saved? Since many people wrestle with this question, it’s important to understand exactly what God says about our salvation. After all, His Word—not our feelings—is the anchor that steadies us when doubts enter our mind.

Questions about our salvation usually surface when we feel overwhelmed by the guilt of our sin. We wonder how someone who struggles with temptation the way we do could possibly be saved. Or sometimes we worry that we haven’t surrendered enough of our life or obeyed sufficiently.

Let me assure you that salvation is not dependent upon any work you do. It is God’s gift to you—by grace, through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). You didn’t earn it, and you don’t have to do anything to keep it. God is the one who secures your salvation; once you’re saved, nothing can separate you from His love, which you received through your union with Christ.

When doubts arise about your eternal well-being, remember what God has promised in Scripture: He chose you before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4); the Holy Spirit gave you new life (Titus 3:5); and our Savior Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for your sin (1 Peter 2:24). No one can condemn you—not even yourself.

Devotional Title: Developing Faith Through Adversity (8/18/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: 2 Corinthians 11:23-30

Paul spent years serving Christ, yet he experienced continual suffering. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Why would God let him go through so much pain? It’s a question many of us ask today about ourselves. We think the Lord should protect us from hardships, but He doesn’t always do so.

Maybe our reasoning is backward. We think faithful Christians don’t deserve to suffer, but from God’s perspective, suffering is part of being a Christian. If we all had lives of ease without pain, we’d never really know God, because we would never need Him. Like it or not, adversity teaches us things that simply reading the Bible never will.

I’m not saying we don’t need to know Scripture; that’s our foundation for faith. But if what we believe is never tested, it remains head knowledge. How will we ever know the Lord can be trusted in the midst of trouble if we’ve never experienced hardships? God gives us opportunities to apply scriptural truths to the difficulties facing us, and in the process, we find Him faithful.

Trials can be a means of building faith or an avenue to discouragement and self-pity—it’s up to you. But if you’ll apply God’s Word to your situation, your trust in Him and your faith will be strengthened through adversity.

Devotional Title: Walking in the Word (8/17/21) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 119:97-104

We make a lot of decisions on any given day. And when a choice is needed quickly, we don’t always have time to weigh the pros and cons. Many people simply “go with their gut,” but believers who desire to walk wisely through the perils of this world require something more reliable than natural instinct. We need godly knowledge and principles to guide us, which is why we must make meditation on the Word a daily habit.

We all have a sort of filter in our mind. It’s made up of the principles we were taught as children, the habits we’ve formed, and the information we accept as true. New knowledge coming our way passes through that matrix and is either assimilated or rejected. A mental filter reinforced with biblical truth is essential for Christians because it identifies things that align with God’s Word and rejects whatever is sinful, deceptive, unwise, or otherwise harmful for us.

Since Scripture is the key to knowing God and following His will, we can’t afford to neglect it. If you want clarity on His perspective, go to the Bible and fill your mind with the truth that guides and guards.

Devotional Title: Answers in Times of Calamity (8/16/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Deuteronomy 29:22-29

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, three biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering.

1. The Lord is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them in accordance with His plans.

2. God loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of mankind proves the Father’s love. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior.

3. Whatever god allows is for His good purposes (Gen. 50:20). Though we cannot fully comprehend what He is doing in each incident, every disaster is an opportunity for the world to know God and lean on Him.

God loves us perfectly and is sovereignly working everything for our good and His glory. This realization should fill us with hope, even in the midst of a crisis. Then, instead of reacting in fear, we will find refuge in Him.


Devotional Title: Tangled Webs 

Jeroboam was a servant to King Solomon. Scripture tells us his mother was Zeruah. ‘Zeruah’ means ‘leprous’ in Hebrew. That was a warning. Jeroboam was given a position of authority to collect taxes and forced labor from some of Solomon’s subjects.

A prophet from Shiloh by the name of Ahijah approached Jeroboam. Scripture tells us Ahijah was dressed in a new cloak. Ahijah was about to prophesy a new thing to Jeroboam which involved a new priesthood and a new temple to compete with the priesthood and Temple in Jerusalem.

1 Kings 11:30-31 ‘And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it intwelve pieces: And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:’ Ahijah tells Jeroboam he will rule over his own kingdom of the ten northern tribes of Israel.

Why is God doing this? It was contrary to His will that a ruler from the royal line of David would rule over Israel. Speaking in the name of God, Ahijah says, 1 Kings 11:33 ‘Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.’ Solomon had allowed worship of false gods.

Ahijah goes on to prophesy God will allow Solomon’s successor, his son Rehoboam, to remain on the throne of a southern kingdom that comes to be called Judah. 1 Kings 11:36 ‘And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.’

Was Ahijah a false prophet leading Jeroboam astray? ‘Ahijah’ means ‘servant of God’ in Hebrew. Through Ahijah, God makes a promise to Jeroboam: 1 Kings 11:38 ‘And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.’ That is a mighty big ‘if,’ because Jeroboam would not be obedient to God. Ahijah told him the right thing to do, but God knew Jeroboam would not be obedient.

Knowing the judgment upon Solomon and his successor for allowing false worship, Jeroboam would turn around and do the same, and worse. 1 Kings 12:28 ‘Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’ 1 Kings 12:31 ‘And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.’

What is the lesson? We are conditioned to look for good guys and bad guys in stories, but in this story everyone is bad. Rehoboam’s pride led to the division of the kingdom. Jeroboam’s pride led him to make the identical mistakes Solomon had. I think of Psalms 14:2-3 ‘The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ King David wrote that, and those that followed him had this scripture to guide them. Rehoboam and Jeroboam both dishonored God. Both kingdoms would suffer judgment again and again.

What about our time? We have this Old Testament lesson about God’s Elect getting themselves twisted in knots. Everyone claims to be the good guys doing God’s will, but no one honors God. They presume to create kingdoms of their own making assuming God will smile upon them even when they do not worship God as He commands.

God’s Elect are in a perilous position today. We must be spiritually discerning not to create a kingdom of our making instead of being faithful to the King and Kingdom we belong to. That is the Kingdom of Heaven and our King, Jesus Christ. Let those with eyes, see and ears, hear.

By David Anthony 

Devotional Title: Walking Through the Dark Times (8/12/2021) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 105:16-24

Did you ever peek ahead to the end of a story because you just couldn’t wait for the conclusion? This is oftentimes what we long to do in our own life, especially in difficult seasons. We want to know when our affliction will end. But only God knows the future, so we must learn to trust Him in the meantime.

Joseph probably wished he could glance into the future to find out when his life would stop spiraling downward. Between the hatred of his brothers who sold him into slavery, the anger and lies of his master’s wife, and incarceration that left him languishing, it would have been easy for Joseph to lose hope. Those 13 years of his life must have seemed like an eternity.

Even though Joseph couldn’t see the future, God was with him every step of the way. And at the end of the dark years, he proclaimed he had learned that “God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).

We can’t avoid trials. But knowing that God is with us and His purpose is good gives us the hope needed for enduring hardship with peace.

Devotional Title: Walking by the Spirit (8/11/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Galatians 5:16-26

Learning to walk takes practice. The more steps a toddler takes, the more proficient he or she becomes, until walking is a normal part of life. This same principle is true spiritually. When we are first saved, our steps are small and uncertain, but as we practice and mature in Christ, walking by the Spirit becomes a normal and essential part of our life.

The first step in walking by the Spirit is to be fully persuaded that we can’t live the Christian life by human effort. Until we grasp this truth, we’ll rely on own strength, repeatedly fail, and find ourselves confessing the same old sins without ever mastering them.

The second step is to recognize that the Holy Spirit is the one who overcomes our sinful desires and gives us victory as we rely on His power. The way to do this is by asking the Spirit to help us understand God’s Word and will. We also pray that He’ll give us a sense of revulsion at sin in our life and infuse us with a desire to know, love, and obey Christ more each day. Our goal should be that when temptation comes our way, we surrender to the Spirit and do what He desires step-by-step.

Devotional Title: Thriving in Our Present Culture (8/10/2021)

Key Bible Passage: Titus 1

Society’s philosophies and values are everywhere—on radio and TV, in books and magazines, and in conversations at the workplace and corner coffee shop. Believers can’t avoid the pressures to be and think like everyone else. And yet the Bible calls us to live in our culture without becoming part of it.

In his letter to Titus, who ministered on the worldly-minded island of Crete, Paul explained how we are to accomplish this. Those who are above reproach—meaning blameless and unmoved by the sins of the culture—must be “holding firmly the faithful word” (Titus 1:9). Paul was saying that we must cling to the Word of God and develop a lifestyle of applying His principles.

The Bible is the revelation of God—He tells us what He thinks, how He acts, and what He expects of us—but the Bible can’t help us if we never open it. Make time to read Scripture daily and carefully meditate upon it. What do the passages mean and how do they apply to our life? Scriptural truths are most powerful when we believe the Word wholeheartedly and obey it consistently. As we take practical steps to keep Scripture in our everyday life, we will reflect Christ in the world without being of the world.

By In Touch Ministry


Devotional Title: Listening With Expectation (8/9/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Samuel 3:1-10

What do you expect when you read the Bible? Is it something to cross off your to-do list, or are you expecting to hear from the Lord? Sermons, Sunday school lessons, Bible studies, and personal quiet time in Scripture are all means the Lord uses to strengthen, comfort, and encourage us in our walk with Him. But God’s Word can have influence only on a believer who’s ready to receive and respond to its message.

To get the most out of our time in God’s Word, we first need to prepare our heart. That means We come ready to listen with a prayerful, humble attitude. Today’s passage tells the story of young Samuel’s encounter with God. The priest Eli instructed the boy to say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). This is valuable advice for us as well. Before you open your Bible, consider praying those simple words; then ask God to help you understand His message and apply it to your life.

God’s Word is an amazing gift. It comforts the mourner, strengthens the weary, convicts the sinner, gives peace to the repentant, and brings joy to those who read and obey it. Let Him speak into your life today.

 

Devotional Title: Times of Temptation (8/06/2021) Friday 

Key Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 10:6-13

We all struggle with temptation. In fact, even Jesus was tempted, but He resisted and never sinned. From this, it’s clear that experiencing temptation is not in itself a transgression. However, if we let the enticement take root in our thoughts, we are heading toward sin. Obviously, taking action on a wrong yearning is sinful, but Scripture tells us that entertaining the evil desire is as well (Col. 3:5).

So where does the urge to sin come from? The source is threefold: Temptation comes from our own lusts (James 1:14), the devil (Matt. 4:1), and the world system organized under Satan’s authority (1 John 5:19). Until Christ returns, mankind will live in its current fallen condition—and we will be tempted by self-indulgent pursuits and Satan’s ploys to turn us from the Lord.

The tempting circumstances we encounter are not unique to us; others have faced similar situations. Although God doesn’t promise to rescue us from all temptations, He limits them and provides a way of escape so we can endure without yielding to sin.

Whenever something is tempting you, draw near in submission to God and resist the devil (James 4:7-8). Then ask the Lord for the grace and strength to stand firm against sin.

Devotional Title: Jesus, the Son of God (8/5/21) Thursday 

Key Bible Passage: John 20:30-31

Some people don’t believe Jesus is God, so they claim He was simply a good person. Others may intellectually acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son but have no personal relationship with Him. His true followers, however, believe in their heart that Christ is Savior (Rom. 10:9) and they’ve been adopted into His family.

Ephesians 2:1-2 says that those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus are spiritually dead and living according to the sin nature. But when a person places faith in Him, spiritual birth takes place—he or she is made alive in Christ and becomes a new creation no longer enslaved to the “flesh” (John 3:3; Eph. 2:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Our position in the Lord affects everything about us—attitudes, emotions, conversation, and conduct. The status quo of society no longer fits us. Instead, believers grow in Christlikeness, embracing thoughts and deeds that are pleasing to God.

Jesus willingly took our sins upon Himself and experienced divine wrath in our place. God accepted His death as full payment for our sins and then raised Jesus from the dead to a position of divine glory (Eph. 1:20). Let the truth of who Jesus Christ is sink in and strengthen your commitment to follow His ways.

Devotional Title: The Practice of Fasting (8/4/2021) Wednesday 

Key Bible Passage: Matthew 6:16-18

Today much is misunderstood about fasting. One common assumption is that it’s related to dieting and health. And there are those who hope their self-denial will impress God or certain people. But neither of these is the purpose of the practice, according to Scripture.

Biblical fasting is a spiritual work in which we temporarily eliminate distractions so we can give undivided attention to our heavenly Father through prayer. As we abstain, other things begin to lose their sense of importance, and we gain a heightened awareness of God’s presence and His priorities for our lives.

Fasting can be carried out in several ways: going without food, eliminating activities, or forgoing sleep in order to seek the Lord. The intent is always to pray without disturbances so we can focus fully on the Lord.

Have you avoided fasting because it appears too hard or confusing? Think instead about the joy you will experience from having deeper communion with your loving heavenly Father, and then step out in faith. Giving the Lord your undivided attention for a period of time can deepen your relationship with Him.

Devotional Title: God’s Purposes for Fasting (8/3/2021) Tuesday 

Key Bible Passage: Nehemiah 1

“Why should I fast?” It’s a question many Christians ask, and one the Bible answers. In Scripture, fasting is often associated with seeking God for a specific purpose. Daniel fasted in order to plead for Israel’s release from Babylonian captivity, which God had promised (Dan. 9:1-3). Nehemiah fasted for a similar reason when he heard of the desperate state of the Jews who had returned to the land after captivity (Neh. 1:4).

When we look closer at these two fasts, we notice that both men identified and confessed their nation’s sins. And that is often what happens during this spiritual discipline. We may be seeking God for a certain reason, but in the process, we begin to see ourselves from His perspective and become acutely aware of ungodly thought patterns, attitudes, habits, and misplaced priorities.

The Lord sometimes uses fasting to do “housecleaning” in His children’s lives, and that is a good thing. Sin can hinder our prayers, stunt our spiritual growth, and keep us from a deeper understanding of scriptural truths. As we eliminate distractions during our fast, God is able to show us what needs to be cleaned up so we can become more like Christ.


Devotional Title: Light It Up . . . Right Where You Are (7/28/2021) Wednesday 

You are the light of the world—Matthew 5:14

The strongest evidence that we are where God wants us—in our jobs, in our careers, in our cities—is simply that we’re there. God Almighty knows where we are. He sees us (Luke 12:6-7). He is with us (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is a plan. King David sang to God, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). So, where we are—right now—is no accident. And until further notice (which may come), we’ve got to assume that where we are is where he wants us to be . . . for specific reasons, for his specific purposes.

High on that list of God’s purposes is that we’re his light in our existing regions of influence and impact (Matthew 5:14). Jesus tells us to not hide the light that radiates from us when we follow him: “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Our lights dim, however, when we get too comfortable with the cultures of the places where we find ourselves—in our jobs, in our careers, in our cities. We must, therefore, resist adoption, whether conscious or subconscious, of the prevailing beliefs, codes, or values of those places. We follow Christ. We believe him. That’s our code. Our values are his values.

Okay, so what do we do?

Look around. How would you describe the top two or three most apparent and distinct values/beliefs in your place of work or your city? What is the accepted “code” for someone in your career? Be specific and matter-of-fact. Now, give it some thought . . . what do you think about the answers to those questions?


Devotional Title: Drawing From the Source (7/27/2021) 

Key Bible Passage: John 4:7-14

True contentment is determined by our attitude and responses rather than by our circumstances. And because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation.

The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23). He knew that the treasure he possessed within could never be stolen. And that gave Paul confidence in his identity as a child of God, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.

I want to challenge you: This week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to lean on God. When you find yourself becoming anxious or angry, stop and say, “Lord, You are my source. Provide me with the capacity to be kind, the forgiveness I need to extend, and the love I need to express.”

Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw from Him as your source. You’ll be surprised at your own attitude: When you respond from within—rather than from the flesh—Jesus will lead you to genuine contentment.


Devotional Title: The Right Response to Loneliness (7/26/2021) Monday 

Key Bible Passage: Psalm 27:7-14

I’ve known the pain of loneliness and emotional isolation during my lifetime, but God has never abandoned me to these feelings. Over the years, He’s taught me to draw near to Him rather than give in to self-pity and despair.

We can’t deny feelings of loneliness, nor can we allow ourselves to wallow in them. Today’s psalm reveals how David dealt with his sense of isolation.

He cried out to the Lord (Psalm 27:7). God is near to the brokenhearted and hears our prayers.

David remembered the Lord’s help (Psalm 27:9). Even in despair, we should make an effort to recount God’s past faithfulness to us.

He asked God to guide and teach him (Psalm 27:11). Instead of withdrawing into self-pity, we must go to God’s Word to learn His ways.

David believed He would see God’s goodness (Psalm 27:13). Confidence in God’s goodness helps us look beyond our current emotions.

He waited for the Lord (Psalm 27:14). In His time, God will bring us out of the shadow of isolation.

Although loneliness is painful, it’s also an opportunity to draw near to the Lord. Instead of turning inward, use it to grow upward