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6/21/18
The devotion for today is based on Acts 10:43, “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
I love this verse, for it tells a truth that is meant to comfort all who recognize their inability to please God in this life. Jesus is our salvation. He alone makes us right with God so that on Judgment Day we can be declared innocent.
Unfortunately, there are many Christians who, while believing that Jesus’ gift of forgiveness is theirs through grace alone, still believe that they must focus on obedience to God to please him. They must do this to be “real” Christians.
Paul writes that this way of thinking is wrong and will only lead to despair. Abraham was not declared righteous because of his deeds. He was declared righteous because of his hope in God’s promises. We like Abraham are also declared righteous because of our hope/faith in God’s promises. All praise to God, for his wonderful free gift of forgiveness to us.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: I thank you, dear Lord Jesus, that my acceptance by you does not depend on my righteousness but your righteousness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen
 
 
6/20/18
The devotion for today is based on Romans 3:23-24, “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”
In these two verses, Paul summarizes the human condition and its only salvation. No one can be good enough to justify God accepting them. Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection alone justify us before God, and it was a gift, free to all. That is some good news for us sinners.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Lord and Savior, too many times we come to you with self-righteousness believing that there is some good in us apart from Jesus. I thank you for calling us to faith so that Jesus’ righteousness can be our righteousness. Praise to you for your love, your cross, your death, and your kingdom. Amen.

6/19/18
The devotion for today is based on Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God in salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
The question in Paul’s time is the same question that needs to be answered today, “What is the Gospel?” The question needs to be answered because there are many versions of the gospel taught today. The gospel is about God’s Son. It is God’s intervention on earth, which leads to something we all need but cannot attain on our own; righteousness before God.
The common belief is that to have a righteous relationship with God we have to live the right kind of life because God loves good people. There is no getting around that the Bible does say on several occasions that God rewards everyone according to his or her actions by giving them glory, honor, and peace. In other words, they are rewarded for being good.
The problem is that no one is perfectly good before God. There is no one, as hard as they might try that can be good enough to meet God’s standards. The Gospel, Jesus Christ in human flesh makes it possible for us to have that right relationship with God, for God gives us Jesus’ righteousness through faith in him. That my dear friends is the true Gospel.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: I thank you, Lord, for your Gospel Jesus Christ. I ask for your help in understanding that he is the only way for me to be righteous before you. He alone is my salvation. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen
 
6/18/18
The devotion for today is based on the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, particularly verses 18 and 19. “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."
These two verses describe how a person who has turned their back on God comes back to him. First you recognize that you that you have turned your back on God. This usually happens because life is terrible, not necessarily terrible in the physical sense, but emotionally terrible. There is an emptiness in you that cannot be filled with the stuff of life. Secondly, you desire to be in the good graces of God again. Thirdly, you approach God begging for mercy and forgiveness, only to discover that he has been patiently waiting for your return. Lastly, you realize that even though you turned your back on him, he never left you. You are still his child, loved beyond measure.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, gracious God, thank you for accepting me as I am. Thank you for welcoming back into your house whenever I wander away on my own. Thank you for loving me, for the sake of Jesus. Amen.

 

 
6/15/18
 
The devotion for today is based the 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3 “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”
So Paul’s instructions did not come from Paul, but from God. They do not come as a condition, a payment, or an achievement that must be fulfilled for us to receive the right to be with God. They are given because in God’s grace we are already with God. They are simply saying, “You are a child of God, now live like one, so your Father is pleased, and Jesus finds favor with you.
Paul’s instructions reminded of what I would tell my children when they started to venture out on their own, “Don’t do anything to bring shame to your family name.” Sometimes that was upheld and other times not, but no matter if they did or did not they were still in the family and loved.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Dear Lord Jesus, you made me a child of God through your terrible death on that cross so long ago. Help me to remember your name, for it is my name before God. May I never disgrace your name. Help me to live my life so that others so that others will know that the best thing that can happen to them is to know you as their Father. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
 
 
6/14/18
The devotion for today is based on1 Thessalonians 3:8-10, “For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”
Paul makes a curious statement after earlier writing that Timothy had told him about their strong faith. He writes that he wants to go to them so he, “may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith.” Paul knew that God’s call to faith is just the beginning. There will be times of testing and turmoil. Life might become so hard that they fall away from God.
Paul knows that faith that God gives a person needs to be nourished or it will whiter and maybe even die. He knows that when the Word of God is neglected spiritual growth is stunted. We must learn about God from his love letter to us; God’s Word the Bible. Life can be hard and without a good understanding of God’s Word, faith is weakened. If you are not reading some of God’s words to you daily, I urge you to start, for in reading it, you will be blessed.
 
Please pray with me the prayer for today: We pray, good and faithful Lord, that you will through the Holy Spirit help us to better understand your love letter to us. We pray that your love shows in our love for others so that they too can know of the wonderful deed you did on our behalf. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
 
6/13/18
The devotion for today is based on 1 Thessalonians 2:13, where we read Paul’s words of encouragement to the Christian Church. “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
As I mentioned in yesterday’s devotion, life as a Christian begins with God’s call to come to him. He chooses us. He must be in our lives before we can say yes to him. Today, I want to share with you some thoughts on life after you have said yes to his invitation.
It is critical to one’s spiritual growth to believe that God’s word is not the work of men, but the work of God. Without this understanding, you are left to your own whims and beliefs about God and his purpose. If you go to church to only hear what the pastor says and then compare it to what you believe, you are impeding the word of God from doing its work.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Dear Lord, help every Christian pastor and teacher in preparing your message to their congregations to see only you when they ask, “What is your Word trying to teach to my congregation?” May we, as a people of God, also ask that same question when we listen to them. May we hear only you in their teaching. May your Holy Spirit lead and inform us so we know and understand what you are saying to us through them. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 
6/12/18
The devotion for today is based on 1 Thessalonians 1:4-7. Paul is writing to a new group of Christians who were now, because of their Christianity suffering hardships. “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you because our gospel came to you not only in word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
Paul is reminding them how they came to believe in Jesus as their Savior. People then, as many do now, believe that they are the ones who chose God. Quite often the term used something like, “I have accepted God.” The focus is on the person doing the accepting. Paul reminds the people he is writing the letter to that God first chose them before they decided to accept God.
The acceptance of God as one’s Savior can only come after the Holy Spirit has given you faith to believe. That is important, for the emphasis has now shifted from self to God where it should be, for it proves that God loves you.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, gracious God, thank you for giving me the faith to believe in you as my Savior. Help to remember that no matter what happens in my life, good, bad, or ordinary, that you are always there and will always be the same so that I know I can trust in you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
 
6/7/18
The devotion for today is based on the account recorded in God's Word of Philip baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch, (castrated male), “Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: "Like a sheep, he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb, before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth." And the eunuch said to Philip, "About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or someone else?" Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip, and the eunuch, and he baptized him.”
What I want you to notice today is that there were no obstacles to his baptism, as so many denominations and congregations do today. He wanted to be baptized, and Phillip just did it. The way into God’s church is through Baptism. Whenever or wherever a person acknowledges the Gospel message, they then should be baptized as Jesus commanded. Why then do so many hinder those who want to enter God’s Church by putting requirements in place before a person is baptized. Baptism is God’s doing, not ours, even though we perform the act of Baptism.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Thank you Lord for your gift of Baptism. In that baptism, I became united in your death and resurrection, given the gift of forgiveness, and the assurance of your eternal presence. Help me to remember that forgiveness, so that I will come to you every day with all my sins and leave them with you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

The devotion for today is based on the words of a loving father to his son as they are recorded for us in Ecclesiastes 12:12-14, “My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

It amazes me how people run to buy the latest book on how to be all they can be when all they need is God’s Word.  Jesus is the answer here and in the afterlife. 

Please pray with me the prayer for today:  Heavenly Father, gracious God, thank you for causing your words to be written down for us.  They are truly words of wisdom and those who teach them, as you intended are truly wise.  In your words we find life.  In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 

 
 
6/4/18
The devotion for today is based on Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’”
In these verses, Jesus cleared up for all time the meaning and purpose of Baptism. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. Thus it was a baptism of improvement. It was an act of obedience, a way people proved they were moved by the Word of God and were now willing to better themselves and await God’s salvation. In other words, it is about us.
Jesus’ baptism, on the other hand, is all about Jesus, for it is a baptism of redemption. It is something that God does through the water and Word. In Jesus’ baptism, we are called out of this world into his kingdom, the kingdom of grace.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Lord, thank you for your wonderful gift of baptism. Help me to continue to grow in my faith, the faith you have given me through the Holy Spirit. Thank you for being in my life through baptism, so that I will always remember that just as you laid your hands on the children that day, blessing them, that in my baptism you have blessed me giving me more than anything the world can give, redemption. Thank you, O’ Lord. Amen.

 
6/1/18
The devotion for today is based on Acts 10:16, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
The Old Testament people of God were given laws for worship, health, and government. All of them were given for their best interests and to point to God as seen in the Messiah. Paul was shown a vision of food that was not to be eaten according to God’s Law. He was shocked when God told him to eat some of it. As a good law-abiding Jew, he could not do what God told him and still please God.
But God had done something different in Jesus. The old laws no longer had to be obeyed to honor God. God had made all things and because of that, the old laws did not apply. The moral laws, regarding the Ten Commandments regarding loving God and others still apply but no longer as the way to God or as a condition to be called a child of God.
Through Jesus’ actions, the Ten Commandments are for us guides and a revelation of God’s will. That is why Jesus said, “The greatest commandment is to love God above all things. The second commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
So it is okay to follow Old Testament laws if one desires, but better yet to love God above all things and serve your neighbor, for in doing these things you are serving God.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Dear Holy Spirit, teach us all to understand everything you say. Teach us how to understand the true God so that we can know we are not under the bondage of the law, for in Jesus’ death we are set free to live our lives in the grace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
 
 
5/31/18
The devotion for today is based on Acts 7:60, the last words of Stephen as he was being stoned to death, “And falling to his knees he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep (died).
Jesus was right. He told his disciples he was sending them out like sheep to the wolves. Why is this true even today? We find the answer in Stephen’s speech before those persecuting him. Stephen listed off the hostility of the world toward those who spoke for God. They were always misunderstood, always outcasts.
Saint Paul states in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “God’s power is made perfect in weakness.” Thus to serve God as God intends is to serve in weakness. And if there is one thing the world cannot stand is weakness. It jeered as Jesus hung on the cross in weakness, not realizing that in his weakness he performed the most powerful act after done on this earth, the salvation of humankind.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, your faithful prophets had only your Word and promises to follow. No one appreciated them, yet they were your prophets speaking the truth you had given them. Help us to remember that suffering for your name will be our victory in the end. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

5/29/18

The devotion for today is based on John 8:34 where we hear Jesus in response to the Jews hardheartedness toward him say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
Jesus’ words were a hard saying to them, just as they are for us today who believe in Jesus and his saving work. The key to understanding what he said is found a few verses earlier in verses 31-32, where we hear him say, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
In a practical sense, the first stage of freedom is to abstain from sins in thought and deed such as murder, adultery, any sexual sins, theft, fraud, sacrilege and other sins like them. When you have gotten your first taste of freedom, you are then on the way to true freedom. It is not yet complete for that will only be accomplished when you are with the Lord for eternity.
 
It is not completed, for even though the desire to sin is there, the sinful body is alive and well, as Saint Paul wrote, “I see another Law in my members warring against the law of my mind, for what I want to do, I don’t do. But what I hate (sin) I do.”
Jesus in his death has wiped out the guilt of our sin, but as long as we live there is the weakness of the flesh with which we continue to do battle on one lever or another until the day we take our last breath. We can take comfort in knowing that when we do good and resist sin in all of its different forms, we are taking delight in the Law recognizing it as the blessing it is, for God gave us the Law for our good.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Almighty and gracious God, pour out your Holy Spirit on us today. Keep us in your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation and deliver us from our enemies. Grant us your saving peace and joy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior. Amen.

 

5/25/18

The devotion for today is based on Acts 4:11-12, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

You might be depressed by all the resistance against Christianity in the world.  If you are, it helps to read about the early church.  From the very beginning, it has been in conflict with those of the world.  Many people have been persecuted and died for their Christian faith.  It is the norm of faith.

The apostles did not hesitate about what they had to do.  They had to obey God over man.  They knew who Jesus was.  They knew that he was the only possibility of pleasing God.  They knew, and they stood up for their belief. We too, as we carry forward the Christian faith, need to stand up for the truth of Jesus.  He still is the only way to please God.  Without him, the world is lost.  With him, it is saved.  All praise to God.

Please pray with me the prayer for today: Lord Jesus, there is no other name under heaven than yours by which we can be saved.  Let this knowledge come alive in me.  Fill me up with the steadfast conviction that you alone are my salvation.  Let this conviction guide my thoughts, my feelings, desires, and my entire being so that others see you in me.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.  

5/23/18

The devotion for today is based on Acts 2:22-41, where Saint Peter’s first recorded sermon is recorded.  The verse I want to focus on is verse 36, “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter’s sermon concerns the most important topic that should be preached; Jesus is God’s Son and Savior of the world.  God came to us in the flesh, to do what we cannot do to please God; keep the Law perfectly.  He died according to God’s plan, and God raised him to life again.  When we see Jesus, we can say with all those who died in the faith, “Behold, here is our God!”

We know this because the Holy Spirit gives us the faith to understand that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, the Lord of all. 

Please pray with me the prayer for today:  I pray to you Holy Spirit, that you would take me by the hand and lead me in the truth, the wonderful truth that only you can make me see that Jesus is Lord.  When I wander away from that belief Holy Spirit, bring me back home so that I will be welcomed into the Father’s eternal presence for all eternity.  Amen 

/22/18

The devotion for today is based on Acts 2:21, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Pentecost is often called the birth of the Christian Church, but I would put forth that is not a true statement, for Jesus had already founded his Church.  He had chosen its leaders, the apostles.  There was only one thing that remained to be done, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist had prophesied. 

The sound of the wind drew people to gather at the place where the apostles were.  People from all over the known world were there, and they heard, probably for the first time the good news of Jesus in their native languages.  That event made it very clear that Jesus’ Church was for all people.  The work of the Holy Spirit had begun. 

Please pray with me the prayer for today:  We pray to you, Holy Spirit, that you continue to let your spirit blow over the whole world.  Fill every heart, starting with mine, with a faith that cannot be overcome by the teachings and cares of the fallen world.  Give all who profess Jesus as their Savior an open heart, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

 
 
5/21/18
The Gospel reading for the day after Pentecost begins with a verse that could be called “The Little Bible.” When you read it you will see why for it has the Bible’s central message. It is John 3:16, “That whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Sadly too many people read this verse as showing them that God is good and that there is nothing to worry about; they will get to heaven in one way or another. They have missed the point, for, without Jesus, we are lost. Not believing in him means belonging to a world that must perish.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Come, Holy Spirit, you who show us the light of Jesus. Come to us each day as we face the temptations of the world. Help us always to remember that it is only through the death of Jesus that we will be welcomed into God’s eternal presence. Amen.

 

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