February 1, 2020
Today’s devotion is based on Acts 17:20: "For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
When the apostle Paul stood on Mars' Hill surrounded by the brilliant minds of Athens, what was his message? What was his theme whenever he spoke? The writer of Acts sums it up in these words: "he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection."
There on Mars' Hill, God's Spirit touched their hearts, and they were saved. As Easter Day in the ancient church was a time when converts confessed their faith, so, too, may this coming Easter be a day of resurrection faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's triumphant victory over the grave for each one of us.
Ask God for the strength to remove every obstacle that will prevent you from coming to Christ. For the sake of your soul and body, you must know, as Paul reminds us, "the power of His resurrection," God’s power is not just some ordinary power. It is the power that overcame Satan and death. It is the power that saves.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to wash us clean from the stain of our sins. Help us to always remember that it is only in his name that we can live the lives you created us to live. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Isaiah’s words to Israel who are held captive in a foreign land. “The LORD says, ‘Let my people return to me. Remove every obstacle from their path! Build the road and make it ready! I am the high and holy God, who lives forever. I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope.” Isaiah 57:14,15
Just like God did not give up on the people of Israel who turned their backs on him time and time again, God does not give up on you. Even if you turn away from him or forget his presence in your life or take him for granted, he is always ready to receive you back into his arms.
God is indeed greater than you (or anyone else) can imagine. His power and beauty and goodness are beyond our human comprehension. But God isn’t a snob. He isn’t too proud to come down to the level of human beings and be with them. He isn’t too proud to be with you—even though you may sometimes feel unworthy of his goodness. In Christ, he freely forgives you and sets you on a clear path of life. His love and grace toward you are without end.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to me. Please keep me humble and repentant, so that I may live with confidence and hope in you. In your name, I pray. Amen.
Sorrow now, joy later
Today’s devotion is based on Luke 2:34-35: “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
I can’t even imagine what Mary felt, hearing those words. Her baby is only a little more than a month old, but already the Holy Spirit is speaking through Simeon to tell what will come in the future—the anger and bitter controversy, the opposition to Jesus' ministry, and finally the suffering and death of her Son Jesus on the cross.
Were there ever days when Mary wondered why God would allow so much pain to come into their lives? We do not know. But we do know that there is also suffering in our own lives, suffering we cannot understand or find a reason for. And so we ask God, "Why?" The only thing we can do is hold on to God, trusting that there is a reason and that he will ultimately work all things together for good.
The only reason we can do this is Jesus himself. He is the Savior who was born among us to carry our suffering and sin, for as we are told in God’s Word, Jesus was despised and rejected by men. He suffered much in his lifetime. He gave all who believe in him eternal life in his death and resurrection.
Please join me in praying the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, by Your Holy Spirit, keep us close to Your Son when times are good and when they're not for without your help, the things of this world would separate us from Jesus. In his name, we pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Psalm 22:2, “O My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.”
Those who do not believe in God do not say this. Only those who believe in a powerful, loving God cry out like this in times of distress. As we all know, life is not easy. It might be easy now, but just wait; that will change. There will be many unexplainable events in our world when it appears that God has abandoned us, and they can strike us.
The question is, what does God have to do with all this? The answer is found in Jesus. He lived with all this. He went through it himself. In his death and resurrection, he conquered it all. The good news is that he includes us in his victory. We can now join our voices with Saint Paul as endured terrible persecutions, proclaiming, “No, in all these things we more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Do never abandons us, even when we think he has.
Please pray with me; Heavenly Father, you know how afraid I am to suffer. You know I want to avoid anything that hurts, sickness and pain, death, slander, and criticism. I don’t understand why you let it all continue. You have the power if you choose to do so. Help me see life as you see it so that I will not feel abandoned by you in difficult times. In Jesus’ precious name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 5:18, “Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
Jesus knew his father’s will inside out. He perfectly kept God’s commandments. Not once, though, did he say that it was okay to set aside his commands or teachings, not even the least. Indeed, he even urged us to let our righteousness surpass that of the very righteous (commandment-keeping) Pharisees. Here Jesus was urging us and continues to do so, to receive the gift of his righteousness by believing the extent of what he achieved for us on Calvary’s cross.
We are thus to live as resurrection people by transforming his gift of new life into a life of generous yet commandment-based, living toward him and each other.
Please pray with me; Lord Jesus, thank you for the beautiful language of your law, which you fully kept and now gift the benefits to us. Generously give us your Holy Spirit to translate our life in you and your world according to your perfect will. In your precious name, we pray. Amen.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Today's devotion is based on Matthew 16:15, where we hear Jesus ask his disciples, "Who do you say I am?"
This was the decisive question. Jesus had not asked the question before. When he called his disciples, he only required one thing from them, "Follow me." They were to follow, listen, and learn for themselves. It is the same way for us.
For, in the beginning, faith puts no demands on us. Faith is aroused in our hearts and minds as we walk with Jesus. What does it mean to walk with Jesus? It means the same to us as it did to the disciples; follow him, listen to him, and learn about him.
We must join our voices with those of Peter whose response to Jesus' question was, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Those must be our words of confession, for there is only one true God to follow, trust, and believe in; all other beliefs about God are false.
Please pray with me; Heavenly Father, thank you for all you have done for me. I want to follow Jesus and be a part of everything your disciples were able to see and learn from him. Please help me believe and trust in you more each day. In Jesus' precious name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Luke 4:24 and 28, “Truly I tell you,” [Jesus] continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” . . . All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.”
When Jesus returned to his hometown as an adult to tell the people all about the truths about God, they rejected him. Jesus saw their problem, and he told them, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” Did that make them sorry for doubting him? Instead, they became furious when they heard what Jesus told them.
Don’t be surprised if you get the same reaction when you mention anything about Jesus. His perfect life is your righteousness, your ticket to heaven through faith, but rather than marveling at that truth, people remain skeptical. His death took the punishment for your sin, but rather than thanking you for that information, people roll their eyes. Don’t give up.
You are able to be a witness to the power of the word of God in your life as well. Stick with Jesus. You will not regret it in the end.
Please join me in prayer; Lord Jesus, when people reject what I say about you, forgive them and strengthen me to serve you faithfully all the days of my life. In your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Matthew 8:8, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.?
Once again, we encounter the faith Christ creates. He calls the faith of the man a strong faith, the likes of which he had not found in all of Isreal. The centurion understood what Jesus' word was capable of accomplishing. Jesus' reply was, "Go; let it be done for you as you have believed."
We can learn from this event that faith is not just knowledge. Faith believes in the unseen. Faith does not mysteriously appear when threatened, frightened, humiliated, or when we are in desperate times. Faith grows out of those events. That is what Jesus wants to help us grow in our faith.
Please pray with me; Help me, Lord, to believe firmly in you and not in my own strength. If you say no or wait a while to my prayers, help me accept that answer because you see and know everything while I cannot even see the next minute. Please help me to have faith that trusts in you and you alone. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Isaiah 61:1, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”
What difficulties are you facing that are almost too much to bear? What troubling circumstances surround the days that keep you awake at night? To whom can you turn for help?
You can turn to Jesus. God sent him “to bind up the brokenhearted.” He knows you; he understands you. And most importantly, he helps you. No matter what things are breaking apart in your life, you have an unbroken relationship with God. As a result, you can count on God, who loves and saves you, to help you with all the matters in your life that are breaking your heart.
Please pray with me; Jesus, I lift my heart in praise to you because you came to bind up my heart broken by sin. Help me to grow in my trust that as you loved me to be my Savior, you will also be with me every day to help through the difficulties and troubles that I face. In your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 8:2, where we hear the leper say to Jesus, “Lord if you will, you can make me clean.”
Leprosy in Jesus’ day was a lifetime ban from the family, the village, and society. The leper had to shout to people who might come near him that he or she was unclean. Notice that he did not ask to be cured. He left that decision to Jesus. He only pointed out that if Jesus wanted to, he could heal him, making him clean and once again acceptable to everyone, his family, the village, and society.
His statement is a beautiful example of faith. The leper’s statement helps us to understand what characterizes faith. Faith does not demand, threaten, or insist. Faith understands that is no deserving of God’s favor. It just asks that God do what we ask if it is in his will. We need to learn this because, as sinners, we too often pray as if God owes us. In other words, since we being his children, we deserve a positive answer from him.
Please pray with me; Lord, you have made me clean from all my guilt. I know that I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I can’t promise I will not ever sin against you again. Thank you for your promise of eternal love. All I can do is pray, “Make me clean, for your name’s sake. Amen.