Friday, September 28, 2012

The Remarkable Paradox

Read Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:11-13

For I am not in the least inferior to the super apostles, even though I am nothing (2 Corinthians 12:11b).

Words of Devotion

Hidden in verse 11 is a remarkable paradox that is possible only for those who are true servants of Christ. Notice how Paul puts it: I am not in the least inferior, he says; and then in the next phrase, even though I am nothing. One statement is,I am the equal of anybody; I am not inferior at all to these superlative apostles; I have everything they have and more, while at the same time he can say, yet I am nothing. That is the mark of a true servant of Christ: the ability to say both of those things and for both of them to be equally true. When Paul says, I am not inferior, he means, Everything I am in Christ, everything that Christ can do through me, makes me equal to anything they can do.

This is the attitude that all Christians ought to come to about themselves: I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). If God tells me to do something, I can do it. I can obey His word, I can follow His precepts. I can do what He asks. There is a ringing note of confidence because you are not relying on yourself, but on Christ. At the same time the apostle could add, relying on myself, I am nothing. All my abilities, my gifts, and my natural talents won't get me anywhere in God's sight. They are impressive to other people, and I could fool a lot of people this way, but they are not at all impressive in the eyes of God.

I wish I could get a lot more Christians talking this way today, willing to say, if Christ tells me to do something or to be something, then there is no limit to my ability to do or be it, because He will provide the power. But in myself, trying to do anything depending on my gifts, I will accomplish nothing of any value in God's sight. Now that is the mark of a true servant of Christ! One of the ways you can test the false apostles of our day is to listen carefully to what they say about themselves. Do they claim anything is coming from them? Do they claim to be remarkable people of remarkable ability, or are they talking about the power coming from Christ? That is the big difference. By this, these Corinthians should have recognized Paul.

Today Ask: Do I have growing confidence in the power and Presence of Christ in me, so that my self-esteem is becoming a non-issue?

Today’s Prayer: Lord, thank You that even though I am nothing, I can do all things through Christ Amen

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Space And Time

Today’s Scripture: 1 Kings 20

“Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, ‘Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they.’” (Vs 23)

Words of Devotion

Facing the armies of Israel, the leaders of Aram pondered their strategies. Much of their focus was on their faulty understanding of the God of Israel. In the process, these leaders made two incorrect assumptions:

They assumed that God was limited by place and time. They felt that He had limits and only could act in certain places or do certain things. They assumed that they could do whatever they wanted and outsmart God. What they didn’t know is that He is God everywhere! He is God of the hills and mountains, valleys and rivers, city and country, inside and outside, day and night.

Second, they depended on their human resources and their leaders. They believed that success depended on their skills and abilities. They didn’t understand the power of God or know that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Many people today are just like those Arameans. They think they are smarter than God. They think they can escape His presence or ignore His laws. Many others fail to understand that He is the God of the universe, the Creator of all things. 

The truth is that if we trust in Him, we have the greatest Leader of all, a Leader who cannot be defeated. And we have all the resources we need, because we serve Almighty God!

Today, in your life, remember that God is with you right now. He is with you wherever you go and whatever you do. He is ready to protect and guide you, to meet your needs and answer your prayers. His promises are true, and He loves you! You can depend on Him.

Today's Prayer: Father, thank You that You are not limited by space or time. Thanks for being with me right now. I trust You and commit my needs to You. In Jesus’ name Amen

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Possessing the Land

Read Today’s Scripture: Isaiah 57

“He who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit My holy mountain.”  (Vs 13)

Words of Devotion

It is not enough to say we trust God, but we must trust Him in deed. We must demonstrate this trust by how we live our lives, by the choices we make, and by the way we spend our time. Furthermore, we need to renew our trust in God every day, even moment by moment.

In this passage from Isaiah, God promised two blessings for those who trust Him:

1. Possessing the land. We possess the land (and receive God’s blessings) because we trust in Him and recognize that He has everything under control. Though we may be tempted by the promises of the world, God assures us that His blessings flow when we trust in Him completely.

2. Inheriting His Holy mountain. The mountain here symbolizes God’s Kingdom and the wealth of His blessings. All of this is Holy, because God Himself is Holy, undefiled, and pure.

The mountain also is a place of perspective. From God’s mountaintop, we get a better understanding of where we’ve been and where we’re going. This perspective helps us see life more clearly and enables us to place circumstances, events, and people in context.

The mountain is a place of security and protection. We are safe from the potential attacks of adversaries. We are confident in God, and no one can surprise us. We have an advantage in every situation. 

The mountain also represents a firm foundation. Our lives can be built on truths that never change.

All of this is ours…IF we trust in the Lord!

Today, as you examine your life, you can find yourself trusting in your own resources, in your job or bank account, in politicians or governments. Just remember, people will fail you, but God is completely trustworthy. Make a firm commitment to place your trust in Him!

Today's Prayer: Father, in the face of the challenges around me, I put my trust in You. I believe that You will give me a firm foundation and help me possess the land You have for me. In Jesus’ name Amen

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Battle Is Won!

Read Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:14

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

Words of Devotion

In 1861, Francis Pott was serving on a committee that was compiling hymns for a new hymnal for the Church of England. He came upon a poem that had been written in Latin by an anonymous writer, perhaps as early as the 12th century AD. Pott was moved by this poem, and felt that it had a powerful message that Christians needed to hear. He determined to translate this poem into English and find suitable music.

In Pott’s translation, the hymn was called “The Strife Is O’er, the Battle Done.” It was decided to set this hymn to music written in 1591 by the great Italian composer, Giovanni P. da Palestrina.

As clearly as any hymn ever written, this inspired masterpiece describes the spiritual battle that took place when Jesus was crucified. It also describes how, in the end, He emerged victorious: “The strife is o’er, the battle done; the victory of life is won; the song of triumph has begun: Alleluia!”

Jesus faced the powers of hell and conquered them all: “The powers of death have done their worst; but Christ their legions hath dispersed; let shouts of holy joy outburst: Alleluia!”

Because of Jesus, we can rejoice: “He closed the yawning gates of hell; the bars from heaven’s high portals fell; let hymns of praise His triumphs tell!” As the apostle Paul wrote, God always causes us to triumph in Christ.

Today, do not allow your life to be filled with fear, worry, or doubt. Celebrate the victory that Jesus won for you. Remember: The strife is over, and the battle already has been won! Through faith, God can cause you to triumph in Christ in everything you do! Praise His name!

Today's Prayer: Father, thank You that the strife is over and the battle is won. I rejoice in the victory that You have provided for me. I declare Your victory in my life. Thank You! In Jesus’ name Amen

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Simplicity of Christ

Read Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:3-15

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (Vs 3)

Words of Devotion

The main thing about being a Christian is to see that the main thing remains the main thing. That is what Paul is saying. The main thing is that at the heart and center of your life is the simplicity that is in Christ, a simple thing.

I have noticed over many years of observation that when religion becomes complicated, it is always a sign that it is drifting away from the realities and centralities of faith. The world around us is getting increasingly complex, and it is because it is drifting farther and farther from God.

Look around at the world of nature, and you can see the simplicity of God's design everywhere. He builds the year around four seasons that repeat themselves and never fail. Yet that simple pattern of four seasons contains within it all the possible variations of weather. Look at a flower and see how simple the pattern of its makeup is and yet what an infinite variety God produces in a field of flowers.

You can see this everywhere. God basically is simple. When religion becomes complex, it is a sign that it is departing from Christ.

That is what Paul is concerned about here. When you ask yourself just what that simplicity is that he is talking about, the answer from everywhere in the Word of God is the daily companionship of the Lord Jesus.

Do you sense the presence of Christ in you all day long? Do you think about that, and live out of that relationship and out of that sense of the expectation of His presence?

We often say, and rightly so, that Christianity is not a creed, it is a relationship; it is living with a Person. That is the simplicity that is in Christ. The danger that we constantly face is that we get involved in the things about Christ and fail to live in a relationship with Christ.

You can lose it in the midst of Christian activity. You can lose it when you get so involved in some of the fascinating aspects of Scripture that you lose the simplicity that is in Christ. You can lose it in the pressures of daily living. You can get so busy and so worried and so anxious about yourself and the things that are happening to you that you lose the sense that Christ is with you, and He is adequate to help and comfort you in your hour of need.

This is the beautiful simplicity that is in Jesus. The Corinthian believers were assaulted with teachers who were exposing them to things that caught their attention, but they were drifting from that central point. They were involved with fascinating philosophies based on the Word of God but that went off on sidetracks and rabbit trails of thought. They were being challenged with certain ego-appealing experiences and believed that if they could only grasp them, they would feel great, wonderful, and so God-possessed. Likewise people today are invited to explore strange and wonderful mysteries all involved with Christian faith, but these tend to move them away from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Today, are we getting side-tracked by the superficial and secondary? Do we need to return to the main menu: the exquisite simplicity of the Gospel?

Today’s Prayer: Father, grant that I may walk close to Jesus and not let anything take me away from that day-by-day, moment-by-moment companionship of His presence.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

Today’s Passage: Matthew 7:15-19

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Words of Devotion

Some people simply are gullible. Desiring to think the best of others, they find it hard to believe that others may be deceptive. Ignorant about the power of evil, they think everyone has good intentions, and have a hard time distinguishing truth from lies. 

We see this pattern, for example, when we realize how many people were fooled into believing Adolf Hitler, that master of deception. In spite of his actions, they continued to believe his deceitful promises. 

In 1936, a French newspaper wrote, “Hitler has torn up a treaty” and “broken all his promises.” Yet, amazingly, the paper concluded, “We must take him at his word.” After meeting with Hitler in September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain recognized his “hardness and ruthlessness.” But he concluded, “Here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word.” 

Hitler and his cronies were amused by this gullibility. Hermann Goering said, “I should like to discuss these things with Mr. Chamberlain some time, but I suppose all he would want to talk about is peace.” 

Jesus warned us to “beware of the false prophets,” realizing that people may appear to be innocent and harmless. Ideas we hear may seem safe and acceptable, yet this is how evil can infiltrate our lives. 

Today, make sure that you are careful about what you allow into your mind and what you believe. Remember: The devil constantly seeks to spread confusion, to attack, and to bring death, discouragement, and disease. Be on guard, and be careful who you allow to influence your life.

Today's Prayer: Father, help me to be on guard against false prophets in sheep’s clothing. Thank You for discernment. Help me to be free from the influence of evil. Thank You. In Jesus’ name Amen

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Are You an Almug Wood or Bradford Pears?

         Almug Tree                        Bradford Tree  

Today’s Passage: 1 Kings 10:11-12

“Hiram’s ships brought gold from Ophir, and they also brought rich cargoes of almug wood and precious jewels. The king used the almug wood to make railings for the Temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and to construct lyres and harps for the musicians. Never before or since has there been such a supply of almug wood.”

Words of Devotion

The Bradford Pear is a beautiful spring-flowering tree that has gained popularity in recent years. Particularly seen in cities across the southern United States, these trees are noted for their beauty. 

However, in spite of their beauty, Bradford Pears have several weaknesses. They have a relatively short lifespan of about 25 years. They also are prone to split, particularly as a result of storms. They also can split as they grow and their limbs become heavier, or simply because of old age.

In contrast, some trees live for generations, surviving through heat, cold, and even violent storms. One of these is the almug tree, which is known for strength, beauty, and longevity. Because of these characteristics, almug wood was used in the construction of the Temple, as well as for musical instruments in Bible times.

These two trees provide contrasting models: Some people, like Bradford Pears, focus on short-term pleasures, while others, like the almug tree, seek substance and rewards that last into eternity.

Today, think about the goals of your life. Are you like a Bradford Pear, seeking temporary beauty and pleasure? Or are you like an almug tree, with the strength and character to weather the storms of life?

Remember: You need to be prepared for the challenges of life. If you depend on the world, you will be vulnerable. Make sure you are ready—strong in the Spirit, rooted in God’s Word, equipped for spiritual warfare, and seeking the things that last!

Today's Prayer: Father, help my life to be rooted in Your Word and not in the temporary things of this world. Fill me anew with Your Spirit, and give me Your strength. I trust in You. In Jesus’ name Amen

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Open My Eyes

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 119:18

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.”

Words of Devotion

In the 1860s, the Comstock Lode in western Nevada became one of the most lucrative mining strikes in American history, yielding hundreds of millions of dollars in gold and silver. But, amazingly, those who mined this site almost missed these riches. 

Sparked by the California gold rush in 1848, earlier prospectors had searched western Nevada, focusing on the quest for gold. But, as Ronald James points out in his book, The Roar and the Silence, because of their obsession with gold, the first miners did not realize they were “digging into one of the wealthiest silver lodes in the world…Miners ignored the mineral-bearing black rock and pursued the precious metal they knew best.”

Eventually, it was realized that these rocks were rich in silver, and the Comstock boom began. But countless miners had failed to realize that their hands were touching great riches. They had lost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, because they were not discerning enough to examine the rocks that were before them.

In the spiritual realm, many Christians don’t realize what great riches God has in store for them: riches of power, wisdom, blessing, peace, and abundance. They have a limited appreciation for what’s possible and what God wants to reveal to them.

But the Psalmist realized that God offers Believers deeper truths, greater blessings, and more abundance than we ever could imagine. He cried, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.”

Today, ask God to open your eyes as never before. Don’t be content with what you think you know. Don’t limit your expectations or assume you've already experienced the fullness of His riches. Ask Him for more of His power, more of His truth, more of His wisdom. Declare His promises to be true for you, and believe that He will grant you more of His blessings. Hunger and thirst for more of God.

Today's Prayer: Father, open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law. Grant me deeper understanding of Your Word and more of Your riches. In Jesus’ name Amen

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bringing Joy to the Lord

Today’s Scripture: Luke 10:17-21

“The seventy returned with joy…At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise You, O Father…You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.”

Words of Devotion

Jesus often seemed frustrated by His disciples. Why didn’t they learn? Why were they so blind? But there were other moments when they listened and paid attention, when they learned and understood.

One of those moments came after Jesus appointed 70 disciples to go in pairs throughout the country. Because these disciples obeyed what Jesus had directed, they “returned with joy,” elated to have realized the results of obeying Him.

This moment also brought great joy to Jesus!

Each of us has this kind of opportunity in our relationship with the Lord. Just consider the many ways He seeks to teach us: through parents and teachers, through pastors and sermons, through Bible reading and prayer, through the Holy Spirit and moments of supernatural revelation.

Yet how often we can be like the disciples, frustrating our Lord when we don’t pay attention or listen; when we have other priorities and ignore the life-changing principles He wants to teach us; when we don’t heed His warnings, but go our own way.

However, think of the joy we bring to His heart when we listen, pay attention, study, put His Word into practice, and show that we are serious about our relationship with Him.

These are moments that open up entirely new worlds—moments when we learn from the Master and receive new truths, when our lives are changed, and when we advance further in His Kingdom.

Today, spend time with your Master. Read His Word. Listen with “ears to hear.” Pay attention. Seek to understand. Obey, and be prepared to have your life transformed.

Today's Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I desire to learn from You. Teach me. Help me to apply the lessons You’re teaching me. Give me spiritual ears to understand. In Your name Amen

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Life Committed to Prayer

Today’s Scripture: Ephesians 6:18-19

“Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. Pray that I will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news.”

Words of Devotion

Paul had an amazing ministry. He had seen the power of God flow through his life through many mighty miracles and powerful messages. Yet, in spite of all this experience, Paul never forgot the importance of prayer. 

Even though he was an apostle, called by Jesus Himself, Paul recognized that every prayer was important. He was accompanied on his journeys by people like Timothy, Luke, and Silas. But he frequently asked “ordinary” people, like the Believers in Ephesus, to pray for him. 

To Paul, prayer was not an empty religious exercise or ritual. He had seen prayer open miraculous doors and make a difference. He knew that prayer was an integral part of spiritual warfare. 

Paul understood that no one is above the need for prayer. We cannot merely assume God’s blessing or that we’ll automatically be successful, even if we’ve been successful in the past. We must continue to seek God through prayer. Paul knew that all Believers face demonic forces and the fiery darts of the devil, and we cannot be victorious without the power of prayer. This is not something to take lightly. 

Paul recognized that the work of God cannot be done without prayer. This commitment to prayer must be a central part of our lives. We need to pray for Christian friends and family members, for pastors, missionaries, Christian leaders, and Soul-winning organizations like Inspiration Ministries. From the most to the least visible, all of us need prayer! 

Today, commit yourself to a life of prayer as never before. As Paul said, “Never stop praying.”

Today's Prayer: Father, I commit these needs to You: _______________. I believe You for the answers. Thank You for answering my prayers. Help me to have a life of prayer. In Jesus’ name Amen

Friday, September 14, 2012

God's Preparation

Today’s Scripture: Proverbs 3:11-12

My child, do not reject the Lord's discipline, and don't get angry when he corrects you. The Lord corrects those he loves, just as parents correct the child they delight in.

Words of Devotion

Julius Caesar was one of history’s greatest military leaders. Under his inspired leadership, Roman armies achieved many mighty victories, frequently defeating forces with vastly superior resources.

He faced one of his biggest challenges in Africa at the battle of Thapsus in 49 BC during Rome’s civil war. Even though his soldiers were experienced and highly skilled, they were outnumbered. Caesar knew they needed an extra level of preparation and discipline for the conflict ahead.

An officer in his army wrote that Caesar “drilled with his troops not like a commander with an army of veterans that had been victorious in the hardest battles, but like a gladiatorial fencing master with new recruits.”

His troops might have wondered why he pushed them so hard. But he wanted them to be ready for the challenges that lay ahead. Their skills needed to be honed, and they had to be in top condition. Because of his dedication to preparation and the precision of his training, Caesar’s forces won the battle.

As Christians, we need to remember that God wants us to be ready for the challenges of life. He knows that we will face problems and go through uncertainty and opposition. Like a wise father (and a wise military commander), He knows the importance of discipline. Why discipline? Because He loves us and wants us to be prepared and ready for the victory’s that come with our obedience.

You may be facing tough times or going through challenges. Just remember that God is with you. He wants you to be disciplined, strong in the Spirit, and prepared for the battles of life. Don’t resist His work or give up. Instead, submit yourself to Him. 

Today, Trust Him with your life and be Obedient to His calling. He’s preparing you for victory!

Today's Prayer: Father, thank You for Your discipline and preparation. I submit my life to You. I know that You are preparing me for a life of victory. I praise You and trust in You. In Jesus’ name Amen

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Laying Down Our Lives

Today’s Scripture: John 15:12-13

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Words of Devotion

Paul Carlson arrived in the Congo in 1961 shortly after the African nation was given independence. Trained in medicine, he felt the call to become a missionary doctor for the Evangelical Covenant Church. Though there was widespread turmoil in that part of Africa, he realized that these unsettled conditions provided a great opportunity for medical missionaries to help people and share the Gospel.

After his first tour was completed, he returned to the United States. His wife, Lois, saw that he was “a new person. His attitudes had changed…his purposes in life were well defined, his outlook on the future was confident.” So he and Lois decided to return to the Congo in 1963, even though the situation remained dangerous.

Soon after his return, Carlson was captured by rebels and tortured while he endured three months in captivity. When Belgian paratroopers landed on a rescue mission, he and other missionaries tried to escape, but Carlson was killed.

His martyrdom became front-page news across the world. In particular, people throughout the Congo were moved by the commitment he had shown. At his funeral, many pastors told of the impact of his life. On his grave marker, these words were written in the Lingala language: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Paul Carlson had laid down his life, and thousands of people were impacted by the Gospel as a result!

How serious is your commitment to God? Have you made Jesus your Lord? Are you seeking first His Kingdom? Are you willing to lay down your life for others? Are you serving God with your mind, soul, body, and resources?

Today, commit your life to Him anew, and allow God’s love to flow through you to others.

Today's Prayer: Father, I seek first Your Kingdom. Nothing is more important than serving You. Give me the boldness to stand for You without compromise. In Jesus’ name Amen

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Figures of Speech

Today’s Scripture: John 10

“The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, ‘How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’” (Vs 24)

Words of Devotion

Who exactly was Jesus? a Messiah, a prophet, or a teacher? No one seemed to be sure. Then, one day, some Jews asked Him for a clear, direct statement—not parables or sermons. The Greek words suggest that they felt He wasn’t being honest and perhaps was afraid.

Still, Jesus did not respond directly, indicating that He already had answered these questions: “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.” 

Why could they not understand? Because of their unbelief He told them, “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice” (vs. 25-27).

Jesus’ words caused “a division.” Some found them intolerable, concluding, “He has a demon and is insane” (vs. 19-20).

The teachings of Jesus continue to seem strange to many in our time. Some say that they want clear demonstrations that His ministry is true. Some even suggest that they might believe if they received direct answers.

Even so, Jesus continues to use “figures of speech” (v. 6). On the other hand, He also demonstrates the truth of the Gospel for all who believe. He continues to prove that He is the Messiah, that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He continues to teach and perform miracles. He continues to guide and protect His sheep. Yet this happens after we believe, as we follow Him without reservation.

Today, remember that belief opens doors to revelation and the power of the Gospel. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). People all around may doubt or reject Jesus. But as you believe and step out in faith, God will open up new insights, and you will experience more of the depths of His Kingdom.

Today's Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I believe. Open my eyes and my mind to understand Your truth. Use me to impact others with the Gospel. Change my life! In Your name Amen

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jesus is Sending You

Today’s Scripture: John 20:20-21

“As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’”

Words of Devotion

In 1964, a young woman in New York City was stabbed. Thirty-eight people witnessed the attack, but none called for help. Driven to understand this reaction, two psychologists conducted tests to analyze this “bystander problem.” They wanted to know more about how people respond when they see others in need.

In the book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes the surprising results. In these tests, when only one person was available to help someone in need, the person responded 85% of the time. But when witnesses thought that others were available to help, they responded only 31% of the time. The conclusion was that “the one factor above all else that predicted helping behavior was how many witnesses there were to the event.”

Many did nothing, simply because they felt that someone else would act.

Some have a similar attitude toward the work of the Gospel. They assume that someone else will do the work. Someone else will give their resources. Someone else will pray. Someone else will witness to the Lost. 

But the Bible makes it clear that God has given each of us unique talents and resources and unique opportunities to impact others. We are held accountable for what we do as individuals.

Right now, think about all that God has given you. Consider the opportunities in your life. Are there people you could touch with the Gospel? What are you doing with the time, talent, and treasure God has given you? Seek to be faithful with your assignments and your resources. Remember: Jesus has sent you!

Today's Prayer: Father, open my eyes to the needs in the world around me. Thank You for all You have given me. Use me to impact lives with the Gospel. Help me to be faithful. In Jesus’ name Amen

Monday, September 10, 2012

Patience to Receive a Harvest

Today’s Scripture: Lamentations 3:25-26

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”

Words of Devotion

It takes time for seeds to grow. Of course, farmers wish this wasn’t true. They would love to plant seeds one day and reap a harvest the next. But, through experience, they know they must plant seeds and then wait for a harvest.

Jesus taught that there is a process in growing crops: “The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle” (Mark 4:28-29).

This principle applies to every area of our lives, even for spiritual things. We all wish we could reap our harvests instantly. But the waiting process is inevitable, just as it is for a farmer. Through life experiences, we, too, learn that there is a season to sow and a season to reap, separated by a time of waiting.

However, many people get discouraged or even give up when they don’t see immediate results. They want to sow today and reap tomorrow. But that just doesn’t happen.

Reaping a harvest is a process of time. We must plant our seeds and then be persistent and patient in faith, fully expecting that God will bring our harvest…in His time!

Today, make sure you are sowing seeds into God’s Kingdom. Be a faithful sower, always remembering the importance of waiting, always trusting in Him. He has promised that you will reap a harvest in due season. 

Continue to have faith, and don’t give up! Remember: “The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.”

Today's Prayer: Father, thank You for the seeds You have given me. I will be faithful to sow them into Your Kingdom. I believe that Your promises are true. Thank You! In Jesus’ name Amen

Friday, September 7, 2012

East from West

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 103

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Vs 12)

Words of Devotion

The chief of police stood sheepishly before the city council. Council members recalled how he had lobbied for an upgraded computer system. When finally purchased, the system was loaded with data, and his staff endeavored to take every precaution. 

Then, out of the blue, a bolt of lightning struck, and the computer’s memory was erased. No back-up had been kept, so all data was lost. Law-breakers rejoiced, but city politicians were exasperated and angry.

Many computer users have experienced similar problems, often through various forms of “crashes,” which teach the importance of backing up data. But these experiences also provide a powerful illustration of God’s forgiveness. In His sight, something forgiven is gone forever, just like the information erased from a computer’s memory. It cannot be brought back. The record is wiped out, and we can start over again with a clean slate. 

David knew what it meant to be forgiven. He knew that when God forgives our sins, they are separated “as far as the east is from the west.” 

Yet, in spite of this promise, many people fail to accept God’s forgiveness. They also may fail to forgive others and, as a consequence, fail to enjoy the freedom God wants for each of us. 

When we live with a spirit of forgiveness, potential hurts and hindrances are removed from us. In fact, unforgiveness can weigh down our hearts and minds and affect our attitudes and actions far into the future. But, when we confess our sins to God, the Bible promises that He erases our guilt and even the memory of every sin. 

Today, are you worried about sins you’ve committed? Are there burdens that weigh you down? Remember: Jesus died so you could be forgiven. Confess your sins. Be honest with God. Accept His complete forgiveness and freedom.

Today's Prayer: Father, help me to accept Your complete forgiveness. Help me to recognize that You have forgiven any sins that I’ve confessed to You. In Jesus’ name  Amen

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Provocative Question

Today’s Scripture: John 6

“Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” (vs. 5)

Words of Devotion

After seeing Jesus healing the sick, a large crowd had followed Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Desiring to spend time with His disciples, Jesus “went up on the mountain” (v. 3). Still the crowds followed, seemingly unconcerned for their practical need for food. But Jesus had not forgotten.

He turned to Philip and asked, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” Here we see how Jesus wanted Philip (and the other disciples) to face the situation and think through the options. We’re told that Jesus asked this question “to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do” (v. 6).

This was a test to evaluate his maturity and discernment, and Philip’s response revealed that he still was dominated by human reasoning: “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little” (v. 7). 

The real miracle only began to take shape after Andrew reported to Jesus, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish.” Even so, Andrew was not convinced that this would make a difference: “What are these for so many people?” (vs. 8-9)

But this simple act was all that Jesus needed to perform the miracle. He blessed the loaves and fish, and then the disciples distributed them among the people. Everyone was fully satisfied, and there was an abundant supply left over (vs. 10-14).

Today, remember that Jesus wants to work in the same way in your life. As you face challenges, realize that He may be giving you a test. Are you spiritually mature? What is your frame of reference? Are you primarily guided by the flesh or by the Spirit? Are you walking by faith or by sight? Are you willing to step out in faith and trust Him, recognizing that He can do anything? He wants to do miracles in your life!

Today's Prayer: Father, open my eyes to what You are trying to teach me. I seek spiritual discernment. Change my life by Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Grip of Sin

Today’s Scripture: Romans 13

“Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (13-14)

Words of Devotion

St. Augustine became one of the most important leaders in early Christian history, writing two of our most important books, Confessions and The City of God. Ultimately, it was this passage from Romans 13 that revolutionized his life.

Born in 354 AD in northern Africa, Augustine learned about Christianity from his mother. However, in his youth, he decided to pursue philosophy and other religions. Eventually, he returned to Christianity, though he continued to accept the world’s standards, even living with a common-law wife for many years.

Yet Augustine increasingly became concerned about sin. He was lead to Romans 13 and later confessed that through these verses, “I probed the hidden depths of my soul.” He realized that he was “still enslaved by my sins.” Convicted, he asked God to change his life, and “a great storm broke within me, bringing with it a great deluge of tears.” 

God answered his prayers: “In an instant, it was as though the light of faith flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.” He found forgiveness, freedom, and cleansing, and devoted the rest of his life to serving God.

Augustine learned that sin can grip our lives, even if we are Christians. The pleasures and attractions of sin can seem overwhelming, but they have a price. We cannot know the freedom of Christ while we are ruled by sin.

Today, realize that sin in any form will enslave you. Ask God to reveal sin in your life, whether it’s obvious or subtle, open or hidden. Ask Him to help you “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh.”

Today's Prayer: Father, show me any sin that has gripped my life. Please forgive these sins: __________. Help me to be pleasing in Your sight and a strong witness for the Gospel. In Jesus’ name Amen

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Today’s Scripture: Jude 1: 4

“Certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Words of Devotion

Concerned for the Body of Christ, Jude focused his letter on “our salvation.” Because of this concern, he issued a stern warning, appealing to Believers to “contend earnestly” for their faith (v. 3). Why was this important? Because there were some people who wanted to corrupt the purity of the Body of Christ.

What was particularly alarming was that these people acted like Believers. They claimed to believe in Jesus, but they were not wholly committed to following Him. They might have participated in church life, but actually they were enemies, fighting against the Gospel message.

These people abused the grace of God by practicing a lifestyle of “licentiousness.” (Acting without regard to the law, ethics, and the rights of others) They embraced lust and excess, acting without restraint and with an insatiable desire for pleasure. Using a Greek word used here for the only time in the Bible, Jude said they “have crept in unnoticed.” They had “secretly entered” the church (New Century Version).

These people were “grumblers.” They found fault and followed after “their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage” (v. 16). They “caused divisions,” and were “worldly-minded” and “devoid of the Spirit” (v. 20).

This was not a new problem. Jude reminded them that there had been similar infiltrators among the Israelites who left Egypt. Even some angels had rebelled against God. But no one can fool Him!

Jude warned that Believers could not combat these attacks in their own strength. They needed to be strong in their faith, pray in the Spirit, remain humble, and focus on eternal life.

Such attacks still are real in our time. In your life, stay on guard against deception. Focus on spiritual things. Always depend on the Holy Spirit for power, guidance, and discernment.

Today's Prayer: Father, help me to be alert to the presence of deception. Teach me to contend for my faith in You. I seek Your wisdom. Guide and lead me. In Jesus’ name Amen