God shows no favoritism
Today’s devotion is based on James 2:1, “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.”
In the Bible, God encourages us to love and treat everyone the same way. Our love and care should be consistent. There is to be no favoritism, but we have all witnessed the results of such favoritism: anger, resentment, hurt feelings, and frustration may all stem from favoritism.
We don’t want that from God either. If God played favorites, then our salvation would be in jeopardy. We wouldn’t know if he truly loved us as much as others. We would constantly wonder if we had impressed him enough to be saved. We would look around at others and constantly feel like they are better than us. We certainly would not have any confidence in going to heaven.
Thankfully, God doesn’t play favorites. The Bible says: “God so loved the world”(John 3:16). God loves us all; yes, even that person we don’t like. The Bible also says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Thank God that he shows no favoritism!
Please pray with me, Heavenly Father; thank you for loving me in Christ. Thank you for loving all of us equally. Help me to model that same love in my life and not show favoritism. In Jesus’ blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Nahum 1:5-9 to the people of Nineveh. “Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood, he will put a complete end to the adversaries and pursue his enemies into darkness. What do you plot against the LORD? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time.”
After beginning this passage with a description of God as a mighty God, before moving to God as a refuge and comfort, Nahum then warns that God has the power to end Nineveh. Nineveh had been warned previously by Jonah that the city needed to change its ways or it would be destroyed, and for a time, they did change before reverting to the behavior that separated them from God.
It is not God who changes. It is people who lose their trust and people whose arrogance separates them from God’s care and comfort. This was true of the people in Nineveh; it has been true throughout history, just as it is true of people today. Our comfort is that God is always a refuge to those who trust in him in times of trouble.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, in this ever-changing world, we thank you for your enduring love and care for us. You alone are our refuge. You alone will bring us to our eternal home. To you alone, we give you all praise and honor. In Jesus’ blessed name, we pray. Amen.
August 29th, 2022
Today’s devotion is based on 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world; the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions is not from the Father but is from the world.”
The ‘world’ that John is writing about is not the world God created, for God’s creation is good. God’s children find happiness in it. The ‘world’ here refers to those who have turned away from God.
We all struggle with being in the ‘world,’ for there is always something I want for myself without God, simply because I want it, not because I receive it from God to use for his glory. The old Adam is with us wherever we go. The question is whether we let him take us away from Christ or take him to Christ, where we humbly say, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Please pray with me; Lord, help me be joyful for all your wonderful gifts without becoming prideful. In Jesus’ blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Love without favoritism
Love without favoritism.
Today’s devotion is based on James 2:8-10, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”
How can you love someone without showing favoritism? It is easy if you only have one person to love. But when two or more people enter into the equation, it becomes problematic. The problem is that we are inclined to love those who love us. Jesus’ love is very different. He loves all people and does not show favoritism. He demonstrated his impartial love by sacrificing his life for the sins of everyone, not just a few. He chooses us to be his followers and heirs of eternal life, not because we deserve it, but because of his great love.
Embracing us with his love, Jesus leads us to love people in the way he loves them. Our Savior teaches us to love without favoritism. As his believers, we learn to love everyone. We do not consider some people more worthy of our love than others. And let’s remember that when we love people with Jesus’ kind of love, we will have opportunities to tell them about the love of Jesus.
Please pray with me; Lord Jesus, keep me from showing favoritism. When I show favoritism, forgive me, for Jesus’ sake. Instill in me a desire to love all the people in my life as you do. Amen.
The Lord is near
Today’s devotion is based on Philippians 4:5, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
Because the Lord is near, let your gentleness be evident to all. Let people around you see your calm, confident spirit because you rejoice that you are a child of God and an heir of eternal life. Imitate the gentle spirit of Jesus, always ready to help and serve others with a humble attitude and unselfish actions.
The love of Jesus working in your life through his word helps you to be gentler in your relationship with others, as he is with you. Think how conspicuous that will make you against the backdrop of the dog-eat-dog world in which we live. That can also create opportunities to tell people of the gentle love that Jesus has for them.
Please pray with me; Dear Jesus, fill me with a gentle nature that reflects the joy I have for the forgiveness of my sins which I rejoice to have by faith in you. Amen.
August 26th, 2022
Blessings and challenges
Today’s devotion is based on Luke 13:25-38, “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from; away from me, all you evildoers!’ “There will be weeping there and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.”
There are blessings and challenges for those who have grown up in the Christian faith: You know how to listen to God’s Word and respond in prayer. You probably have a network of Christian friends that can help you when you are struggling.
On the other hand, you might be tempted to believe you are stronger than you think. You might forget how much you need continual strengthening by God’s Word and worship. So, whether you are a new Christian or a life-long Christian, keep growing. Let the roots of your faith grow deep as you gather with God’s people around his Word.
Please pray with me: Lord, you are a mighty God and rule the nations. It is amazing that you love us so much. Come, Holy Spirit, rekindle the fire of God’s love in us. Help us tune into your heart and obey you today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Welcome to the family
Today’s devotion is based on Luke 13:29,30; “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
Why would he say that? Often those people who are last in this world recognize their needs. They tend to humbly call out to God for help and rescue. They welcome Jesus’ salvation. But those who are first in this life often believe the lie of their self-sufficiency. They are self-reliant to the point of being self-righteous. They are so full of themselves that there is no room for God.
Here is the good news: If you feel like a spiritual outsider, someone God could never love—know that Jesus came to save just such people. He came to save you so that you who deserve to be last can be first.
Please pray with me; Lord Jesus, thank you for welcoming me into your family. Please show me what it means to be accepted by you. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
As a Lutheran pastor, I have noticed through the years that we as Lutherans are somewhat reluctant to talk about good deeds because of the potential for self-righteousness. We are the people of grace after all, and we don’t much like ‘those boastful ones’ who draw attention to themselves.
Unfortunately, this means we rarely talk about the actions that flow because we love Jesus. We miss out on the encouragement of hearing about the good things happening in our midst. I think that is a shame because Christianity is unique in that we live Deep gratitude is the appropriate response to grace! Our lives are bought with a price, and we just want to walk with Jesus and be like him.
Perhaps getting this right depends on where we are focusing. If our eyes are on ourselves, we more than likely are thinking about how much God must appreciate us. If on the other hand, our eyes are on Jesus we are thankful that we have the privilege of joining him in doing good. That needs to be shared with others so that they too are spurred on to do good deeds.
Please pray with me; We thank you, Lord, for settling the big question of our salvation and taking away the stress of trying to be righteous in ourselves. You are so wonderful, Lord – help us walk closely with you today and hear your prompt when we are to act. In your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
The narrow door
Today’s devotion is based on Luke 13:24, “[Jesus] said to them “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”
When Jesus describes salvation in this text, he says, “Make every effort” and “enter through the narrow door.” So, what is this door? And why does it take so much effort to enter through it?
The doorway to heaven is narrow because no one who is puffed up with pride can squeeze through. By nature, we reject our need to be rescued. But the Holy Spirit makes our unwilling hearts willing to receive Jesus. It is hard because we don’t want to give up our self-reliance. Therefore, by the Spirit’s power, enter through this narrow door. Shed your pride and self-righteousness. Cling to Christ alone in faith and walk through the door to heaven.
Please pray with me, Lord Jesus; I thank you for all you have done throughout history to open a way for all to be saved. Now, continue to work a miracle in my heart. Lead me to believe and trust in you so that I might always be confident in my salvation. Amen.
Living in the love of Christ
Living in the love of Christ
Today’s devotion is based on Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
God’s messages to the seven congregations in Asia Minor are important reading for all of us. We see several examples in Revelation of the dangers threatening us as Christians when we feel our Christianity has become routine and stale.
The congregation’s problem is that they have abandoned their love for God, even though they remained faithful to the practice of their religion. In other words, they were just going through the motions. Their love for God was no longer important to them.
I am afraid that too many congregations suffer from this affliction today. They know Christ and his salvation, but the love of Christ no longer motivates them to live the lives that God wants them to live. This is a serious problem today, for I am afraid that too many Christian congregations today have lost the love of Christ.
The good news is that God has not abandoned them or us, for his will is that all should walk in fellowship with him and each other. Thanks be to God.
Please pray with me, Lord, help me come to you, just as I am, in the middle of daily life with all my worries, sinful nature, and rebellious nature. Please help me live in the wonderfulness of forgiveness so that I will not abandon my love for you. In Jesus’ blessed name, I pray. Amen.