Today's devotion for today is based on 1 Corinthians 1:4, "I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus."
After greeting the Corinthians, Paul goes on to give thanks for them. His message provides a clear affirmation of God's grace and all he has done for them through Jesus. It seems Paul is thankful for every one of them. He provides quite a list of reasons.
How often do we give thanks to the members of our worshipping community? Many people play vital roles in any church community. When I was a full-time pastor, I found that it took 24 people in my congregation to hold a worship service on Sunday morning. That did not count others whose contribution is less visible. The faithful ones who quietly visit or drop off cakes and casseroles where needed. Those who phone to check up on the sick ones or frail ones, the quiet encouragers. Whew! That's quite a list! Thank you for all you have done through the grace of God.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, gracious God, creator and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen; thank you for the community in which we worship where we hear of your grace. Thank you for those who faithfully serve us within the community. Thank you for the opportunities we have to serve others. Amen.
Create in me a clean heart, O God
Today's devotion for today is based on Luke 9:54, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?"
The disciples were preparing the way for Jesus. It must have come as a sharp disappointment when the residents in this village turned down the opportunity to receive Jesus. I can imagine the righteous indignation and the wish to punish such inhospitable people. But that was not what Jesus wanted, as the following verses show.
Our words and actions are so important when we are relating to others. If we take time and think about those who may be irritating us or making us angry and resist the urge to take out that anger on them, we may well open up new opportunities for sharing Jesus' love, or as the hymn writer says:
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from thee.
Would you please pray with me Psalm 51. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit." Amen.
Using God's name properly
Today's devotion for today is based on Matthew 5:33-37, "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil."
Today's reading takes me back to the second commandment, 'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. The commandments speak clearly of what is right and godly. As well as things we are told to avoid.
While God does not want to use his name to swear falsely, he also does not want to you his name lightly. An example of using his name lightly is the 'OMG!'. Which is an abbreviation of 'Oh my God.' Its use has become so commonplace that those using the term don't realize that they are degrading God's name, thus sinning against God.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, gracious God, creator and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen; thank you that we can call on your name. Please help us use your name in ways that bring you glory. Thank you for listening to our prayers and for your generous responses to them. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Build up, not tear down others
Today’s devotion for today is based on Numbers 12:1,2, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. ‘Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?’”
In today’s verses, you can tell by their words that there was more going on than just a slight dislike for their sister-in-law on the part of Aaron and Miriam. They were using their brother’s wife as a pretext to tear Moses down. And as is so often the case, when we tear others down, we’re hoping to build ourselves up. The jealousy of Aaron and Miriam wasn’t just a sibling problem. It was a human problem—a reflection of the wickedness that we all share in our sinful hearts.
That wickedness to pull others down makes us marvel all the more at the selfless love of Jesus. He’s the One who came from heaven not to pull us down but to raise us up to life eternal. He became our sibling in flesh and blood so that we could become his siblings in the family of the Father. Jesus exalts us as his baptism-washed family. And because of that, we should not only exalt him but other people with thankful hearts.
Please pray with me: Dearest Jesus, how blessed and grateful I am that you call me your family. Please help me live my life exalting others so they are built up and not torn down. In your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion for today is based on Mark 9:42, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck, and you were thrown into the sea.”
Jesus’ desire is for all people, babies, toddlers, young people, and adults to believe in him. And woe betides anyone who puts any obstacle in their way! The outcome is not just a skinned knee, gravel rash on your palms, or even a broken pelvis. It’s much worse, for it can lead to not believing or trusting in God for their salvation. We, who know of the obstacles to one’s faith, need to make sure we are not, even unintentionally, placing obstacles that harm others, especially the susceptible that we meet daily.
In our times, social media allows our voices to be heard more widely than ever before. May we use these opportunities to draw people to Jesus rather than becoming an obstacle that could result in consequences quite contrary to our expectations.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Dearest Jesus, we know that all people are precious to you, particularly children. Help us to encourage one another in our faith and strive to encourage and support the faith of others, rather than being an obstacle to the growth of your kingdom. Help us to be a reflection of your love in our lives. Amen.
Today’s devotion for today is based on Saint Paul’s words to the congregations at Corinth as they are recorded for us in 1 Corinthians 1:25, “Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
As I thought about the verse for today, it came to me that God’s foolishness is only foolish because we believe it is. We believe our wisdom is better, our ways are higher, and our thoughts are smarter. I know I wouldn’t do things the way God does, and God certainly doesn’t act in ways that always make sense to me.
That’s why this verse is comforting to me. No matter how much wisdom I might have, God’s wisdom is so much more. God is stronger than my weakness. Who else but Christ Jesus, God in the flesh, would promote the way of the cross, sacrifice, turning your cheek, and laying down your life. Fortunately, the wisdom of God, Christ Jesus, does just that. And he not only promotes these things but puts them into practice so that we can share in God’s wisdom.
Please pray the prayer for today with me: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen; thank you for your wisdom and strength. Thank you for the gift of Christ and for life itself. May I always live in your wisdom and strength. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Striving for peace
Today's devotion for today is based on Hebrews 12:14-17, "Strive for peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears."
In our world, we are often told we have an individualistic culture. We have moved away from a sense of community and look out for ourselves and our close family.
But here, the writer instructs us to do something completely different. We are to look out for one another. We are to take responsibility for others in our community. You and I are to make the faith walk of others straight and level. You and I are to look out for others. You and I are not to cause trouble. And we cannot do that without having our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. We cannot do this without the Holy Spirit filling us and leading us always.
Please pray with me: Loving Father, thank you for loving me. You desire that everyone loves you. You are asking me to live peacefully as part of my community, every moment of every day. I cannot do what you are requesting without you. Holy Spirit, lead me as I go about this day and week. Take my feeble arms and weak knees and strengthen them so that I can walk every day and week as a follower of Jesus. In Jesus' righteous name, I pray. Amen.
What does it mean to be Spirit led
Today’s devotion is based on Galatians 5:18, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."
The challenge here is to understand what it means to live by the Spirit, to Spirit-walk, to be Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit is the advocate in our relationship with God. If we are not Spirit-led, we will not hear what we are being taught, nor will we be reminded of what we need to know.
When we listen, hear, and do what God is asking us through the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit leads us away from the acts of the flesh and fills us with his fruits. Then, and only then, are we free from the law.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen; thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit to lead us and free us from being under the law. Forgive me for thinking that I can act independently of you. Speak into my life through the Holy Spirit so I may walk in the Spirit of Jesus. In Jesus’ awe-inspiring name, I pray, Amen.
God's plans are always good
Today's devotion is based on Mark 8:31-33, "Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."
The disciple Peter wanted Jesus to share his human concerns. Jesus recognized that those human concerns were a temptation from Satan. If Jesus did not suffer, Peter would not be saved. So, Jesus rebuked Peter, pointing out that the devil was behind his human concerns.
Even if you do not always understand why Jesus is not acting according to your human concerns, you can trust that he knows what he is doing. He has in mind the concerns of God, and those are always in your best interest.
Please pray with me: Lord Jesus, relieve my human concerns by giving me insight into God's concerns for my good. Open my heart to believe your Word and put it into practice in my life. Keep me safe from all onslaughts against my faith, and finally, bring me home with you in heaven. In your holy name, I pray, Amen.
Jesus, the solid rock
Today's devotion is based on Matthew 7:24-29, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law."
Followers of Jesus have their life focused on Christ. Their attention is on his words. They have confidence in his protection, hope in his promises, and joy in the relationship they have with their Savior. Absolutely nothing can destroy such a spiritual building of active and saving faith. Life problems can beat against that house of faith; persecution can pelt it mercilessly; death itself will rise up against it, but it will not fall because it is based solidly on the Rock—Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals himself in his Word to give us a firm foundation for our faith and absolute confidence for our salvation. Build your life on Jesus, the solid rock.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, open my heart to believe your Word and put it into practice in my life. Keep me safe from all onslaughts against my faith, and finally, bring me home with you in heaven. In Jesus' holy name, I pray, Amen.