Today’s devotion is based on2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God … made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
Reading these verses from 2 Corinthians 4, I am struck by the light and dark imagery and contrasts. God wants us to think of our before and after. We were in darkness and condemned by our sin, but, by grace, God has saved us, through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, for eternal life with him. That is life in the spotlight.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen; there are times in my life when I want to hide in the darkness. Please keep me in your light so that I will always know and trust in Jesus as my Savior. In Jesus’ holy name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Psalm 44:24, “Why do You hide Your face? Why do You forget our affliction and oppression?”
Godless people are not saying this. This plea is coming from people who believe in God’s goodness. They desire to walk with God. They need His help. There are so many unexplainable events, like the pandemic we are going through now, that they hit us terribly hard.
During those times, we need to remember that we feel like God has abandoned us, or at the very least, feel like he is not looking on us with kindness, that our answer is found in Jesus. Jesus lived as one of us. He went through terrible times. He died that we live. In times of doubt, we need to say with the apostle, “No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” That is God’s promise. That is our sure hope.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, you know how afraid I am to suffer. You know I want to evade everything that hurts, to escape sickness and pain. You know these things about me, so I implore you to help me to see all I go through as you see it. Teach me to endure suffering the same way you did. Help me remember that you are always here with your sure promise of life with you no matter what happens to me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on 2 Corinthians 7:8-10, "For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it-- though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt godly grief so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."
In this section of Paul's letter to the Corinthian church, he is feeling pleased that his begging and pleading had a much better outcome. He had previously written, admonishing them for some beliefs, attitudes, and actions concerned him greatly. They listened to what he said, taking his words to heart, and repented of their sins because of it.
Has a Scripture during your reading, or in a message at church, or sent by a caring friend, ever pierced your heart and turned you back to the one who poured out his life for you? If this has been your experience, I pray you have also come face to face with God's unending capacity and desire to embrace, forgive and walk forward with you, his dearly loved child. May you grow in friendship with the one who was waiting and watching with hopeful, open arms for you to turn back to him.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Thank you for the cross, which is the ultimate sign of your desire for me to be restored in my relationship with you. Help me return there often and see the look of love on the face of the one hanging there, for me. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Mark 16:15, "Who do you say I am?"
It was easy for the disciples of Jesus to tell him who others thought he was. But when Jesus asked them who they thought it was, things changed. It is not recorded for us what they said that day, but I wonder if there was some hesitation when they started answering his question. There was no hesitation in Peter's answer, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
There is still division among people today concerning who Jesus is, just as there was in Jesus' day. You can read the Bible repeatedly and yet not believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God. For, just as Jesus told Peter that it was God the Father who gave him the faith to make that statement, it is still God the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit who gives us the faith to profess with Peter, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Please pray with me the prayer for today: You rejoiced Lord when Peter confessed his faith. You rejoice when I confess that "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Yet I fail time after time to live as one of yours. Lord help me in my unbelief. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Mark 1:17, "Come, follow me."
How did those he called respond? They didn't hesitate. They didn't ask for time to think about it. They believed he was their Savior. They left everything to listen to him, to worship him, and to serve him. They followed him.
Jesus wants us to follow him too. He knows it won't always be easy. Not everyone will like what we say and do when we imitate him. But it will be worth it! Following Jesus means following the one who forgives our sins and promises us eternal life in heaven. It means following the one who gives our lives meaning, purpose, and hope. And that is a leader worth following.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Jesus, in your Word, you call me to follow you. Please help me to trust your promises and to follow you in faith. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on 1 Kings 19:21, "[Elisha] took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant."
In our Bible reading for today, we hear about a man named Elisha, who was willing to give up the things of this world to follow God. When the prophet Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha and called him to be trained as a prophet, Elisha showed his total commitment to the Lord by burning his plow and slaughtering his oxen. He was willing to let go of his home, job, and family to do the work that the Lord had called him to do.
Although God may not have called you to be a prophet, he does call on you to follow him. As your Creator and the only one who can provide forgiveness for your sins and eternal life in heaven, he deserves your full commitment. And because he is a faithful and loving God, you can be sure he is worth following.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, gracious God, Creator, and sustainer of all things, help me let go of earthly things when they keep me from following you. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen
Today's devotion is based on Job 1:21, where we hear Job after a terrible series of tragedies devasted his family, "And he (Job) said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.' In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrong."
Job suffered. He questioned the fairness of God. He wished he had never been born. Job's story is in so many ways our story. We, too, question what sort of God do we have? For all the images of him as our gentle Father, at times, he shows himself to be a God of mystery and silence. God refuses to shape our world the way we would like it and act as we hope he will. But when life takes a dark turn, and our feelings toward him are shaky and disintegrating, his hold on us is unshakeably strong. God's grace and mercy will hold us through the worst of times. God is ultimately in control, and for that, we give him praise.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, gracious God, creator and sustainer of all things, we long for the day when suffering will be overcome, and what has been lost is restored. Thank you that the truth of your love is not altered by the changeable strength of our feelings for you. When our suffering renders us incapable of choosing to praise you, you welcome our questions and our longing for something better. Come, Lord Jesus, come. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen
Today's devotion is based on Mark 1:16, "As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen."
Simon Peter's story began with being seen by Jesus as he toiled away at his everyday job. Jesus saw into Peter's heart, which was capable of great love but also deeply flawed, and called him anyway. The beginning of Peter's life-changing kingdom adventure was being seen in all his humanity and loved despite his imperfections.
It's no different for you and me. Jesus sees you toiling away at your everyday tasks. He sees you and calls you into deep and intimate friendship with him and then on into his kingdom work. Where does he see you today? Perhaps you are not fishing but employed in some other vocation? Or are you retired or struggling to find a job? Jesus issues you the same invitation. Might he be saying to you, 'I see you; I know you; I love you. Come; follow me, and take part in what I'm already doing in the world. Come on a life-changing kingdom adventure …'
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, gracious God, creator and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen; thank you for inviting me to be yours in the waters of my baptism. When times are tough and I feel alone, remind me that you still see me. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen
Today's devotion is based on Mark 1:14-20, "Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John, his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him."
They were simple, first-century fishers going about their work. Until, one day, Jesus called out and said, "Come, follow me." They knew of Jesus. They had seen him before and had even witnessed his first miracle. But they could not possibly understand what they were in for by following him. The same Jesus calls for you to follow him. Like those first-century fishermen, you cannot possibly know what it will mean to follow Jesus.
But you will be so glad you did. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is a light shining in this dark world, helping you make sense of it all and see who you are and who your God is. Follow him through the twists and turns of this life, and he will lead you to the heaven he bought for you with his blood. You will be eternally thankful you did!
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Jesus, I realize that following you will not always be easy. But I know it will always be best. Please grant me the willingness and strength to follow you through this life and into the next. In your holy name, I pray. Amen
Today’s devotion is based on 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”
I know quite a few people who used to be Christians but no longer say they no longer believe in the Triune God. Each person left Christianity for different reasons. But they all had this one thing in common. None of them, when I asked, were feeding their faith. None of them were actively going to church and speaking with their pastor and other Christians.
That’s why Paul told his congregation in Thessalonica to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Paul knew that it is not enough to hear the Word of God once. Followers of Jesus need to actively take hold of it, absorbing Biblical sermons and meditating on what Paul and the other Biblical authors wrote down.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, thank you for your Word, pastors, and teachers who teach your Word, other Christians who help me to stay firm in the faith. Don’t let the devil or anything in this world snatch me from your hand. Amen.