Today's devotion is based on Mark 8:27-29, “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Did his disciples think that he really was the Messiah? Peter said so. They had been with him long enough to see that he was not faking it. He was exactly who he said he was.
Who do you say Jesus is? He wants you to know that he really is who he said he was. He is the Messiah, the one who was promised, the one who earned forgiveness for you, the one who loves you. You can count on him, and you can say with confidence that he is your Savior.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, creator and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, thank you for gift of your Son. He truly is the Messiah, God in the flesh. Because of his death we will be able to stand free of the condemnation we deserve. Help me to always trust in him and his promise of salvation. Jesus' holy name, I pray, Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Mark 9:34, "But they (disciples) kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest."
Peter, James, and John had witnessed Jesus' transfiguration, and still, the disciples argued among themselves about who was the greatest. How often do we (you, me) do this? How often has Jesus spoken to us, given us his direction, and asked us to do something, and still, we are concerned about our greatness? We justify, saying, 'I am okay, better, smarter, stronger, prettier, more important, greater than, and so forth." Where is the humility and servitude in that approach?
In Jesus' time, welcoming implied service. A host serves their guest. Selfless serving is the hallmark of Christianity. So, we are to serve everybody, including children, selflessly. How will you humble yourself, simply and innocently welcome God, our Father, today?
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, creator and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, you are a fantastic, gracious, and wonderful God. Instead of welcoming you, I so often argue with others in ways that reflect my sense of self-importance and self-reported greatness. I do this privately and publicly. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. In Jesus' holy name, I pray, Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Psalm 103:1,2 "Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits."
The list of God's blessings is endless. First, there are the "small" blessings in life: food, clothing, shelter, air to breath, a spouse's love, a child's laughter, friendship, good health. Praise the Lord for all these benefits!
Then there are the really "big" blessings that God gives us: forgiveness for our sins, angels who guard and protect us daily, the privilege of going directly to God in prayer, the sure hope of eternal life in heaven one day, confidence in the resurrection of the body at the end of time. Praise the Lord for all these blessings!
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, gracious God, creator and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, how great you are! You have showered upon me more benefits and blessings than I deserve. Help me say "thank you" to you by living my life in ways that bring you praise and worship. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Peter 4:13, “But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy.”
While this passage is talking about suffering because of your Christian faith, I think that we, as Christians can find comfort in this passage when we suffer from events in our life that plaques all people. Being a Christian does not guarantee that life will always go our way or that suffering can be avoided. I really wish it were otherwise, but it is not. Time and time again, suffering is mentioned as part of the Christian life.
Sometimes we want to offer people simple explanations and platitudes when they are suffering. In our desire to encourage them and make them feel better, we can seem to dismiss the difficulty and pain of the situation they are facing. Sometimes we try to give them false hope that everything is ‘okay’ when we both know deep down that everything is not okay. Yes, our role is to encourage those hurting, but we must be truthful in this comfort and hope we offer. In this, we need to point our sisters and brothers to the hope we have in Christ over anything else.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Lord, your suffering bought our salvation. May your suffering teach us to be more like you. Lord, help us to comfort those who are suffering with the comfort Christ offers us. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on 1 Peter 3:15, "Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you."
Today our verse asks us to give an accounting for the hope we have in Christ. Our response to this question is one of the more critical responses we give. We must be ready to answer when asked, 'Why on earth are you a Christian?'
The church and other Christian institutions have not done a good job showing the love of Jesus to the world. So too, have we and other Christians as individuals, allowing our sinful nature to get in the way of living as God would have us do. This sinful nature is precisely why our hope must not rest in the work of human beings or human institutions, for they cannot save us.
We are Christians because we acknowledge Christ as the Son of God. His death and resurrection brought the healing of the relationship between humanity and God. This relationship is the hope that cannot be taken from us, and this is the hope we must lovingly share with our world.
Please pray with me, God, help us to answer those who want to know the cause of our faith and hope. May we speak and act with love and compassion so that the Spirit may move others to find their hope in you. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on James 1:17,18. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created."
James reminds his readers that the God who created this universe and everything in it only and always gives good gifts. Shadows shift on earth as the sun glides across the sky, and the clouds may temporarily dim its light. But the sun itself and the live-sustaining heat it emits are not diminished. So also, our heavenly Father and his eternal love for us do not change just because the world casts shade on his word.
God gave his only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Light of the world, revealing the Father's merciful heart with his sacrifice in our place. And he gives us new life, a spiritual rebirth, through the gift of faith in his Son. His love and perfect gifts, even though they might not seem that way, at times remain constant, even in the darkest days, even through all the twists and turns of life.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, when I am weary from all the changes of this life, keep my eyes focused on your unchanging love for me in Jesus. In his holy name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Saint Paul's words written down for us in Philippians 3:10. "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him."
As followers of Christ, we are called to provide an example to our community of what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. To do this, it makes good sense to follow Paul's three-point plan; know Christ, share in his sufferings, and look forward to the resurrection.
This plan is not easy to accomplish, for we are by nature spiritually lazy. This does not mean, though, that we should not try, for we follow those who have walked in the faith before us. They shine a light for us to follow, a light that points to Christ.
Please join me in praying, Holy Spirit, move us to diligently seek our Lord through a commitment to the Christian disciplines of prayer, meditation, worship, and learning. May we grow in the knowledge of Jesus, his suffering, and the gift of his resurrection each day. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Mark 8:32, “Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him.”
In this Gospel reading, we see Peter declare that Jesus is the Messiah, only to be rebuked by Jesus soon after for not getting what that meant. Peter was in over his head here. Just as I was an inexperienced and young teacher, so Peter was an inexperienced and young Christian. He forgot – or perhaps failed to grasp – precisely what the fullness of Jesus’ ministry meant.
At the beginning of our faith as new believers, we find ourselves well over our heads – unable to fully grasp what it is to live the Christian life. Those who have years of faith behind us can still be like Peter and the first disciples, failing to grasp all of what it is to be a Christian and follower of Christ.
As followers of Christ, we must commit ourselves to learn and to grow to know what this means for us each day. Let us diligently seek God’s grace, wisdom, and guidance as we grow in the knowledge of what is meant to follow Christ rather than the world or our selfish desires.
Please pray with me today’s prayer: Lord, may we approach your throne with humility and the knowledge that you are the author and perfecter of our faith. Please help us grow in knowing what it is to take up the cross of Christ and follow you. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 7:7-11, “Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Jesus invites us to pray with confidence. As he teaches us about confidence in praying to our heavenly Father, Jesus makes a comparison to the care responsible parents give to their children. They seek to provide their children with what is healthful and safe for them. They wouldn’t deliberately deceive their hungry children by substituting a stone for bread or a snake for a fish.
How much more God will provide what is good for his dear children! He may give a better gift than the one we ask for, but he will not perversely answer our prayers to harm us. God is always looking out for our best interests. For He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, gracious God, creator and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen. You surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! In Jesus’ holy name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Isaiah 35:4, “Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with a vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
We must not forget that those promises are still God’s promises to us today. On this day, America was attacked, and thousands of people died at the hand of Muslim terrorists. It was a day that caused not only death but fear and panic. It was a day that people cried out to the Lord for help, just as the Jesus’ disciples did when their lives were threatened by a terrible storm the night they were crossing the sea. Just as Jesus calmed the waters of the raging sea that night, he calms our hearts. Our security thus is not in the power of our great country but in the presence of Jesus. With him, our lives are calm even amid evil.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, gracious God, creator and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen. Help us in our fear, assuring us of your presence and promises that we might find peace and comfort during this time of turmoil. Remind us that science, government, or anything else we depend on for security and peace cannot give us what you give, salvation and eternal life with you. I humbly ask you to send a special blessing to all the survivors of that terrible event twenty years ago who continue to mourn. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.