Steadfast in God's Word
Today’s devotion is based on John 8:31 “Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”’
A little over 500 years ago, on October 31, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This document contained statements questioning the church’s teachings about how God forgives sinners.
It was intended to encourage scholarly discussion. The issue, in this case, was not how we are forgiven but who was in charge of Christianity. Luther believed that Jesus’ teaching in the Bible was the one source of authority for Christians. But at that time, almost everyone believed the church’s leaders in Rome were in charge.
So, at his trial, they asked him a simple question: “Will you recant?” He knew what they meant: “Will you admit you were wrong and take back everything you taught?” They wanted him to say yes, but that would mean letting go of Jesus’ teaching. But Luther was Jesus’ disciple and had learned to hold to Christ’s teaching at all costs.
What about you? Do you want to be Jesus’ disciple too? You are Jesus’ disciple if you hold to his teaching. That means hearing, reading, learning, and taking God’s Word to heart.
Please pray with me: Lord, keep me steadfast in your Word. Amen.
Suffering produces a stronger faith
Today’s devotion is based on Romans 5:1-4: “Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has bought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace, in which we now live. And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory! We also boast of our troubles because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope.”
The question that comes up when these verses are read is, “Why should a person boast when going through troubles in life?” Without enduring troubles, we grow weak and complacent in our faith. Being too protected prevents us from growing in our faith. When troubles strike, you can rejoice knowing that the troubles are not meaningless and that God will be with you always, as he has promised.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, be with me, Lord, in my times of trouble, so that I may endure and become stronger. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
This is love
Today's devotion is based on 1 John 4:7-12, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."
As Christians, we are not only to love our husband or wife, our parent, and our children; we are to love everyone. Where do we look to find out what this love is to be like? Look no further than God, for God is love.
The love that God has for you and me is selfless and sacrificial. His biggest concern was not his feelings. His biggest concern was you and making sure that you could pass through the gates of heaven without any of the sins that would keep you out. That is love! Since God so loved you, love one another with a love that is selfless and willing to make sacrifices to provide for what others need.
Please pray with me, Heavenly Father; you have given me the greatest example of love—the sacrifice of your one and only Son. Forgive me for the times love has been all about me and how I feel. Please help me to be willing to sacrifice for the needs of others as you sacrificed your Son for me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
God will lift up the repentant
Today's devotion is based on 1 Peter 5:6. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
When the writer of 1 Peter encourages us to humble ourselves so God may lift us up, it's not about manipulating God but rather about learning to face the limitations of our humanity and turning to God for our vision and hope.
It doesn't matter whether we think of repentance as naming specific sins or admitting our preference for self-reliance – repentance is all about our orientation toward God.
Dear Holy Spirit, keep reorienting me toward the love and hope you have planted within me, and expand my vision of what you will make of this hope. For Jesus' sake, Amen.
Gathering at the foot of the cross
Today's devotion is based on James 4:14-17, "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."
James argues that many of our troubles are self-inflicted, stemming from our reluctance to leave space for God's will and our neighbor's needs. Rather than coming near to God in our brokenness, we hope that we can manage it ourselves. But God knows we keep trying to justify ourselves instead of humbling ourselves at Christ's cross. God invites us to come near to him (as he is already near) in our grief and confusion. Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus showed us that this is true!
The Bible says to come near to God, and God will come near to us. God's Spirit will help us sort out what things need our repentance. As we come near the cross, we come nearer to each other. It's the only place where we can genuinely meet!
Please pray with me: Dear God, please break through my pride and stubbornness and keep drawing me to you and my sisters and brothers. For Jesus' sake, Amen.
Righteousness through faith
Today’s devotion is based on Romans 4:10,11. “For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How, then, was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness he had by faith while still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,”
Paul is answering an age-old question that is still asked today. Was Abraham accepted before God because of his deeds, in this case, circumcision, or his faith? When did this take place? Was it before or after Abraham was circumcised?
It was before, not after. He was circumcised later, and his circumcision was a sign to show that because of his faith, God had accepted him as righteous before he had been circumcised. And so Abraham is the spiritual father of all who believe in God and are accepted as righteous by him, even though they are not circumcised.”
Paul is telling them that without faith, Abraham would never have been circumcised; therefore, it was his faith, not his actions, that justified him. This answer applies to all who believe in Jesus as their Savior. Through the faith that God gives you, God accepts you as righteous, even before you do righteous acts.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, thank you, Lord, that through the faith you have given me, my sins are not counted against me. Strengthen my faith so that I never stray from your love and forgiveness. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Treasure in heaven
Today’s devotion is based on Luke 18:18-22. “A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
We can all be tempted to think we are good enough for God. It appears that the young man speaking with Jesus did. So, out of love, Jesus tried to show the man that he wasn’t good enough and needed someone to save him from his sins. He needed Jesus.
It doesn’t appear that the young man learned his lesson. When Jesus revealed that the young man loved his money more than he loved his God, instead of repenting and seeking forgiveness—the man went away sad.
Don’t let this happen to you. When God uses the words of the Bible to reveal your sin, don’t walk away sad. Instead, with a repentant heart, turn to your Savior. Jesus has already paid the price for your sin. He has lived the perfect life you could never live. He is the answer to the question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Trust in the One who has earned eternal life for you.
Please pray with me: Gracious Savior, when I start to believe that how I live my life is more important than trusting in you, please forgive me. Turn me back to you so that I will always keep my eyes fixed on your work as my Savior and the everlasting value it gives me. Amen.
Life in Christ
Today’s devotion is based on Psalm 82:1-3.
God presides in the heavenly council;
in the assembly of the gods he gives his decision:
‘You must stop judging unjustly;
you must no longer be partial to the wicked!
Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans;
be fair to the needy and the helpless.’
God presides in the heavenly council; how much more does God do to protect those in his care. He defends the weak and poor. He rescues the needy. He judges those who are unjust. And he is completely, totally on the side of those who love him. How lucky you are to have such a protector! And because he does these things for you, you are now enabled to do these things for those around you.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things keep me, Lord, in your protective care. Guide me in your ways, so that others may learn of you also. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
I have nothing to offer
Today’s devotion is based on Luke 18:13, “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”
Repentance is one of the places we least like to go, and being a Christian doesn’t immunize us to this reluctance. If you ask yourself, ‘Am I the Pharisee or tax collector?’ There is no comfortable answer. If you’re the Pharisee, then everyone but you knows you have some significant issues and need to start repenting. If you’re the tax collector, who declares his sinfulness in a public place you have opened the door for others to point their finger at you. Today’s text challenges us to fall on our knees and declare, ‘I’ve got nothing, God. Do whatever you want with me.’ Are we ready to go there this week?
Please pray with me: Dear God, I invite your Spirit to help me this week. Work in my heart: expose my self-reliance and remind me of my utter dependence on you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Wrestling with God
Today’s devotion is based on Genesis 32:24-38, “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel because you have struggled with God and men and have overcome.”
We won’t wrestle God physically the way Jacob did in this unusual story from the Bible. But we do wrestle with God spiritually in our prayers. Like Jacob, be bold and persistent in asking for God’s blessing. Then, trust that the God of love will answer in whatever way is best for you.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, give me the faith to trust you completely. Forgive me for the sake of Jesus; those times I don’t trust you to care for me the way you promise in the Bible. Renew your Holy Spirit within me so that I will have the spirit of persistent prayer that knows you will do whatever is best for me. Amen.