Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 24:23-25, “If anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or “There he is!” – Do not believe it. For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear; they will perform great miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people if possible. Listen! I have told you this ahead of time.”
Nothing has changed since Jesus walked this earth. Every year there seems to be someone in the news claiming to be the Messiah or a prophet or a healer. Some will even back their claim with great words of wisdom or perform miraculous deeds. Their call is usually the same, ‘Come and follow me.’
Jesus warns us not to be fooled. When he comes again, everyone will know about it. It won’t be a secret. Jesus will not need to perform in front of TV cameras so that everyone will see him. He will not have to prove to us that he is the Messiah. Everyone, even those who do not believe in God, will instantly know him as the Messiah.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, help me through your word keep the true faith and not be distracted by others claiming to be the way to heaven. Thank you for your love for me, as it is shown through Jesus agony and death. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on John 16:12-14, where we hear Jesus saying, “I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his authority, but he will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come. He will give me glory because he will take what I say and tell it to you.”
This passage tells us so much about Jesus. It is important to know that he is telling his disciples these things, knowing that he is in a short time, suffer, and die. Even so, he prays for them. What he is telling them shows us his amazing love and compassion. At a time when his approaching suffering and death must be weighing heavily on his mind, he tells his disciples he will not try to tell them too much at this time because they just couldn’t take it all in.
But he is also thinking of them and the time when they will not have him with them permanently—at least physically, as they know him. So he tells them of the Holy Spirit, whose job it will be to continue Jesus’ teaching ministry through them. He will make things clear to them, help them understand the truth, and keep pointing them to Jesus, their friend.
Jesus shows the same compassion for you and me. He tells us, too, through the Spirit-inspired writings of Paul, that “God keeps his promise, and will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm” The lives that the disciples lived and the lives we live are achieved through the Holy Spirit.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, thank you, for your love for me, as it is shown through Jesus agony and death. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based the eunuch’s question to Philip as it is recorded in Acts 8:36, “What prevents me from being baptized?”
The man was on his way home. As he was riding, he was reading Isaiah from the Torah. He did not understand what he was reading, so Phillip explained how the part of the Torah he was reading spoke of Jesus. The man believed what Philip was saying. In the oldest manuscripts, it is recorded that Phillip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The man replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Phillip baptized him.
This incident on the road so long ago shows us that early Christian Church believed that it was essential to baptize those who wished to be Christain. Does this mean that you must be baptized to be Christian? Of course not, but it does show us the ancient custom of baptizing those who wanted to be Christian. This is what, when you examine the command to baptize all nations meant, entrance into God’s Church. Baptism is a gift from God, and something he commanded his people to do. Why would you not?
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, thank you, Lord, for your baptism. Thank you for my baptism. Help me to live in that forgiveness, that I dare come to you every day with all my sins and leave them with you so can live in your presence. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Titus 3:4-7, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God, our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
When a person who was baptized as an infant hears that their baptism was not good because they did not make the decision to be baptized, they begin to doubt if their baptism was valid. This confusion and doubt come from a misunderstanding of who is doing the saving work in baptism; God or the person being baptized.
The Bible is very clear, especially in the text we are looking at today, that it is his work. We are receiving his gift of faith and salvation, not earning it by our deciding to be baptized. It is a miracle that God works no matter the age or capability of the person being baptized. While we do the applying of water and the saying of the Baptism words, we do not add anything to the act of God.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, thank you for choosing me through my baptism. Thank you for your boundless mercy. Help me to show my gratitude, as you would me to do to those who most need it. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 28:18-20, where we hear Jesus tell his disciples. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
This command, which should unite the Christian Church, has divided into two camps. One believes that Baptism is the work of God in a person. The other believes that it is the work of a person, that is the one being baptized.
To see which is understood correctly, we need to look at two baptisms. The first, John’s baptism, was a baptism of improvement. The person struck by the Law of God wanted a fresh start, a cleansing of the guilt. This baptism was rooted in Old Testament Law, which used water to purify objects and people who were considered unclean. This baptism, the word simply means washing, brought the object or person back into ritual cleanliness.
The second, Jesus’ baptism, is a baptism for redemption. While it is done in the same manner as John’s baptism, it is something that God does. This baptism is a call from God through which we are removed from this world and connected to Christ. That is why for those who believe in Jesus’ baptism, infants are baptized, which has been the practice of the Christian Church since Christ commanded that all people are to be baptized.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, help me to grow in my faith so that will realize that your power is much greater than I can understand. Thank you for your gift of baptism. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Exodus 13:20-22, “The Israelites left Sukkoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. During the day the LORD went in front of them in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and during the night he went in front of them in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel night and day. The pillar of cloud was always in front of the people during the day, and the pillar of fire at night.”
Many people just see the Old Testament as the history of the Jewish people. In doing so, they miss the wonderful lessons that the Old Testament teaches. The continued presence of God, as shown by the cloud and fire should have given them an enormous sense of security. For the God who had rescued them was always with them.
We, too, have God continually with us on our journey through life. We may not see him in a pillar of cloud or fire, but he is with us in a no less real manner as we read his words to us. We too, have his word to teach us, encourage us, lead us, support us.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, lead me, heavenly Father, through all the trials and storms of life, till I reach your promised home in heaven. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Exodus 12:37-39 “The Israelites set out on foot from Rameses for Sukkoth. There were about 600 000 men, not counting women and children. A large number of other people and many sheep, goats, and cattle also went with them. They baked unleavened bread from the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for they had been driven out of Egypt so suddenly that they did not have time to get their food ready or to prepare the leavened dough.”
This week I conducted a funeral for an 84-year-old man. For the last few years, he has struggled with health problems finally dying of heart failure. As I was meeting with family, I was reminded of the Exodus of the Israelites. We too are like the Israelites. We too are marching from slavery to freedom, to the promised land, the place Jesus has prepared for us. We march as pilgrims through this life, moving ‘like a mighty army’ towards eternal life.
To the people of Israel, he sent Moses and Aaron, flawed human beings as they were and continued to be. To us, he sent Jesus, the sinless Son of God, who fulfilled the law and became the sacrifice which appeased the wrath of God. Both Pharaoh and Satan were forced to heed God’s command: let my people go.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, lead me on my pilgrim journey through life, until I reach your promised land in heaven. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Psalm 8: 3-5,
When I look at the sky, which you have made,
at the moon and stars, which you set in their places--
what are human beings, that you think of them;
mere mortals, that you care for them?
Yet you made them inferior only to yourself;
you crowned them with glory and honor.
Psalm 8 reminds me of Genesis chapter 1, for it shows that human beings were created to be the pinnacle of God’s creation. They were created to live in harmony with him, with other human beings and with creation itself. They were created to look after and manage creation for God.
And haven’t we done it well! We seem hell-bent on ruining our earth. If not through misuse of God’s recourses, at least ruining large parts of it through war. Yet God has not given up on us. He still sees us as being worth saving, to be restored to be what we were always meant to be. He does this in Jesus. Creation groans as it waits for us all to be saved so that it too can be delivered.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, I praise you, for I am wonderfully made. Help me to be more aware of your gift to us in the earth and skies, so that I may honor your name. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Acts 6:1-7, where we read of a conflict within the early Christian Church.
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”
I believe it is helpful that stories like this one have been included in the Bible. We would like to believe that the first church had an ideal congregation, comprised solely of consecrated, pious, people. But it wasn’t just as any Christian church today isn’t. For even, the most vibrant congregation is made up of sinful people. As much as we might try every so often, the old sinful self shows itself. There were people then, just as there are today that complain and criticize when things don’t go their way. What is important is how the early Christian Church handled the conflict. That is the lesson for us today. We like them are to listen, love, forgive and act to bring the members together. It worked then and will work today because that is living in the Lord.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to our congregations. You know how we by our very nature act. You know how much the Holy Spirit is needed to keep the peace, for, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be the congregation you want us to be before those in the world. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Acts 5:32, “And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Once more, we are reminded in this Bible text that the Holy Trinity is the reality behind which all our knowledge of God exists. The disciples were witnessing not with their own intellect and power, but with wisdom and power of God as it was shown to them by the Holy Spirit.
God’s promises are fulfilled. The Son and the Holy Spirit are now a reality. The disciple and thus us speak of something that actually happened. Those events, as they are written down for us, are the cornerstone of a new life for all who believe in them. It is truly a life of faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is the life we live in.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, thank you for what we can see and experience of your wonderful gifts. They are far more than we can understand, receive, or lift up to, yet they are the words of life with you. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.