Today's devotion is based on Genesis 3:6. "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it."
There you were. You were part of the crowd—surrounded by all your friends. Things happened that should not have happened. You wanted to speak up and tell them all that this wasn't right. But there you stood, doing nothing. Sometimes doing nothing or saying nothing is just as wrong as doing something bad or evil. And God holds us accountable for our inaction.
Jesus never went along with the crowd when they were on the wrong path. He always spoke when things were headed in the wrong direction. Jesus lived a perfect life in our place, and then at the end, he let the crowd put him to death so that you and I and the whole world could be saved from our sins. Because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, we have been set free from sin, and through faith in him, we now have the gift of eternal life.
That means we no longer have to go along with the crowd! We can now speak up when something is not correct. We can now positively influence this world and lead others to the light of Jesus.
Please pray with me: Dear Jesus, thank you for giving yourself as my Savior from sin. Empower me to say no to the crowd and to live my life for you. Please help me be a positive influence on others. In your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Did God Really Say
Today's devotion is based on Genesis 3:1, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
Did God really say you shouldn't indulge in this behavior? Did God really say you shouldn't live your life the way you want? Did God really say you shouldn't do whatever makes you feel good? After all, wouldn't God want you to be happy?
Satan has succeeded with that line of reasoning for centuries. It is a tried and true approach to leading people into sin. It worked on Eve in the Garden of Eden and has worked on humanity ever since. It works on us too. There is only one way it will end; hint, it doesn't end well.
Thankfully Jesus did not believe the devil's lie. He did not pursue his desires but instead pursued what was best for the rest of us. He came to save us, which meant doing what no one else could. It meant living a perfect life in our place and dying so we could be saved now and forever. Because of Jesus, God says that through faith in Jesus, we will have eternal life. It will end well for all who believe in Jesus as their Savior..
Please pray with me, Dear Lord Jesus; thank you for your selfless work on my behalf. As your forgiven child, help me live for others, not myself. Amen.
Holding Fast to God's Words
Today's devotion is based on Matthew 4:1, "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."
At his baptism, Jesus was powerfully affirmed in his divine identity as God's beloved Son. The Spirit who fills him then leads him out into the wilderness for 40 days of solitude and fasting; and temptation by the devil.
This testing was crucial to Jesus' human identity. Temptation is part of Jesus' experience as a whole human being. Temptation itself is not a sin but a typical experience for everyone living in a broken world. Jesus joins us in it. His temptations come when he is deeply vulnerable – a typical human experience! When we are tired, hungry, disappointed, or hurt, the enemy is sure to show up.
Satan's most profound temptation of Jesus was to doubt God's word about Jesus' identity. Jesus has just heard God's proclamation about him: 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased' (Matthew 3:17). God's declaration is the very bedrock of Jesus' being. From this reality will come all of Jesus' ministry. Luring Jesus to doubt God's word is the strategy that worked so successfully with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
Satan does his most devastating work when he gets us to doubt what God has said about who we are. What did God say over you at your baptism? That Jesus Christ redeemed you on the cross; Satan's power over you is broken, and you are washed by God, rebirthed to a new life as a child of God. God has declared it and sealed you in the family name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
That is who you are; no one can take that name and identity away from you. You are in Jesus Christ, and him in you for eternity. Just remind yourself – and Satan! – of this reality, the next time you feel vulnerable and tempted to believe his lies.
Please pray with me: Gracious God, defend us from the subtleties of Satan. Hide your word in us that we may grasp it in the time of trial. Lord Jesus, walk with us and give us your strength and victory. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on 2 Peter 1:16, "We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
When the apostle Peter sat down and wrote his second letter, he was an older man. He wanted his readers, including you and me, to understand something about what he and all the other writers recorded in the Bible about Jesus. They did not write it down for entertainment. They did not write it down to tell an exciting story. They did not write it down to keep us spellbound with colorful characters and riveting plotlines. They wrote it down because that's what happened. They wrote it down because they were eyewitnesses. It happened. That means your forgiveness in Jesus and his guiding hand in your life is real. It means his promise to uphold you and your security in him is real. And that is very comforting to me. I hope it is for you also.
Holy Spirit, as I read the account of Jesus, fill me with the confidence that Jesus' life, death, and resurrection took place in real time for me and all people. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Matthew 17:8, "When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus."
Peter, James, and John had just seen their Jesus transfigured into a shining and glorious version of himself. Jesus showed them who he truly was as the Son of God. The three disciples also saw two great prophets from long ago: Moses and Elijah. Seeing Jesus in all his glory and hearing the voice of God the Father speak from the heavens must have made the three disciples feel very small and unworthy. We are told that after they heard the voice from heaven, "they fell facedown to the ground, terrified."
But Jesus approached them, touched them, and said, "Get up. Don't be afraid." At that point, they looked and saw no one except Jesus. Moses and Elijah were gone. As great as it was seeing all the glory of God there on the mountain, what they needed to see was only Jesus.
This is ultimately what we need to see; only Jesus. The glory of God is too bright and overwhelming for us poor sinners. We needed God to come to us when we could never approach him. So, he did. Jesus, God himself, came to earth in our flesh and blood to be one of us so he could die for us in our place. If we want to know God, we look to Jesus. He is the one who allows us to come to the Father. He is the one who makes us worthy of all the glory of God by sharing the glory of his resurrection with us. He is what we need; only Jesus.
Please pray with me: Dear Jesus, thank you for coming as one of us to save me. Please help me to look to you alone as I live my life of joys and troubles so that I can know the peace that indeed passes all understanding. Thank you for being our Way to the Father and glory everlasting. In your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on 2 Peter 1:19, "We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."
In our Bible verse for today, the Word of God is compared to a light shining in a dark place. As people living in this world's darkness and our own sin, we do well to pay attention to that Light above all else. We look to the Word of God as something completely reliable. That Word of God lights up our world and lets us walk on the right path. Most importantly, God's Word shows us Jesus and what he has done to save us from our sins. No wonder God wants us to pay attention to the Light of his Word!
Please pray with me: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for giving me your reliable Word to be a light for me in the dark. Keep my attention focused on that Word every day. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Job 2:7-9, "So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die."
Today is the first day of lent, a time of self-reflection and repentance. In our humanity, it looks like Job was getting a raw deal from God, like a play toy bouncing between God and Satan. Pain is never fully explained in the present. That is why Job, covered in horrible boils, sits in ashes, scraping his skin with a broken piece of pottery.
Are you sitting in ashes today, shattered by a medical diagnosis or the death of a loved one? Since Adam and Eve's fall, sickness, death, and brokenness are our realities, for Jesus tells us, "In the world, you will have tribulations." But take heart, for like Job, who kept his faith in God; you know that your Redeemer lives, and you will see Him.
Please pray with me: Lord Jesus, assure me in those terrible times of life that you are always with me. In Your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Matthew 17:5, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased. Listen to him!”’
When Jesus was baptized, God the Father’s voice boomed down from heaven, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.” When Jesus went up on the Mount of Transfiguration and showed himself in all his shining glory, God the Father, once again, put his stamp of authenticity and approval on Jesus. However, this time God the Father added something. He said, “Listen to him!”
Jesus has the stamp of approval from God. Jesus is the real deal. His words are authentic and trustworthy. He has the words of eternal life for us. His love and his promises to us are guaranteed.
Please pray with me: Dear Lord Jesus, you have the words of eternal life. When I start to listen to others, turn me back to your Word. For your Word is not only a guide to how I am to live but how I will live for all of eternity. Thank you, Jesus, for all you have done, am doing, and will do in the future. Amen.
Today's devotion is based on Matthew 17:4, "Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you,
Peter was right. It was an amazing place to be. But the moment couldn't last forever. Jesus still had a job to do, and it involved some dark days ahead as he walked to the cross loaded with the world's sins. The disciples had to face some tough days ahead, too, not only the death of their friend and Savior but also persecution as they spread the word about him.
One day Jesus will bring all of us to eternal glory, to stand with him in the heavenly Mount Zion. In that day, we will say, "it is good for us to be here," and we will never have to leave. But, until then, we still live in the reality of a sinful world. Yet, even now, we can live in this often-difficult place knowing that Jesus didn't stay on the Mount of Transfiguration. He best showed us who he was by going up to Mount Calvary to save the world by dying on the cross. No matter where we find ourselves, we rejoice that Jesus joins us in the highs, the lows, and everywhere in between.
Today's devotion is based on Matthew 17:5.6; "A voice from the cloud said, 'This is my own dear Son … Listen to him!' When the disciples heard the voice, they were so afraid they fell flat on the ground."
God's ways are mysterious and unfathomable – like the creation of the world and the redemption of sinful humanity. When the 'shining cloud' overwhelms, and a voice booms from within, the disciples fall on their faces. They are floored, rendered speechless, and humbled before the presence of God. Thrown on their faces by The Voice, they have nothing to add, Nothing to grasp. They stop wanting to build a physical structure to contain God. They forget their centuries of tradition and 'how things are done here.' They worship. They realize their attempts at contributing are a way of resisting the Spirit in his glory – of compartmentalizing him to fit in our pockets. The disciples listen and learn of things above and below that were unknown to them before.
Please pray with me: Father, your glory overwhelms us. Sometimes your ways seem strange to us. Sometimes they are frightening. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear your glory – to know you just as you are and not as we think you should be. Dispel our fears and give us unfettered hearts to worship you in Spirit and truth. Amen.