Daily Devotionals

January 17, 2021

Hebrews 4:12-16

“Living Word”

MEMORY VERSE

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”

 

 

 

MONDAY, January 11                     Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Today’s passage seems a little excessive by the world’s standards. But it isn’t excessive at all. What this means is we need to live God’s Word in our daily lives. We need to learn God’s Word, teach God’s Word, and reflect God’s Word in everything we do. If we truly lived by our passage today the world would be a much better place.

To simply memorize scripture is not enough. Scripture is not our personal weapon to be used on others. Scripture is meant to change us, help us grow and become the people God created us to be. So yes, memorize scripture, but do this so God’s Word can live more deeply inside of you. God’s Word is a message of love for us and everyone we meet.

When we speak, God’s Word should be heard in everything we say. We need to bind them to us, our houses and our entryways. This means that we need to be the living example of God’s Word. Our families and our lives should reflect the love of God in everything we say and do. People should see God in you. You are the living example of God in this world.

In a world that has gone crazy and is confused about who God is, we need to be the living example of God’s love. We need to exemplify what it means to love God and love each other. We are God’s Word for a world that desperately needs this message. So, bind God’s Word to your life so everyone can see what God intended us to be.

Prayer: “God, thank you for this word today. Bind your love to my life so I can be the living example of who you created me to be. Help me to share your word in everything I say and do. Amen.”

TUESDAY, January 12                     2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

“All scripture is inspired by God.” What does inspired mean? If you look up the definition it says: “of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse…” “of air or another substance that is breathed in.” Scripture is the very breath of God.

In Genesis 2:7 we hear: “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Us – human beings – scripture – all of creation – are brought into being by the breath of God. God’s Word contains life. All of scripture – every single word – breathed by God.

  1. D. Walt writing in the Seedbed Daily Text has this question for us: “Did you catch those four strategic words from today’s text? Teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training. I tend to camp out around teaching and training, mostly steering clear of rebuking and correcting. I love this word of rebuke and correction John Wesley gave to his preachers.

‘Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days, and a petty, superficial preacher. Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer. Take up you cross and be a Christian altogether. Then will all children of God rejoice (not grieve) over you in particular.’”

So, remember today’s passage “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” Live by it and find your life in it.

Prayer: “God, thank you for breathing life into me and giving me your Word of life that is the breath I need to stay alive. Amen.”

WEDNESDAY, January 13              Luke 21:25-33

Where do you stand? What do you believe? God’s Word is everlasting and eternal. No other book has stood the test of time and remains on top like the bible. None other even comes close.

We may not always understand or even like some of what we read in scripture, but it is God breathed and eternal.

Isaiah 40:8 tells us “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” In today’s passage from the Gospel of Luke Jesus tells us “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

What seems like wisdom today – in this world – is fleeting and will soon pass away. True wisdom is eternal. C.S. Lewis in his book ‘Mere Christianity’ offers this eloquent incite:

“But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else – something it never entered your head to conceive – come crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.”

  1. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 65.

Where do you stand? What do you believe?

Prayer: “God, thank you for this love letter to us that we call The Bible. I will follow your words of wisdom and love all the days of my life. Amen.”

THURSDAY, January 14                  Acts 4:23-31

How do you pray? I usually start with lifting up God’s name and then go straight into the conversation – the conversation I started. Actually, if I’m honest, it’s usually more like a list of concerns, wants, and requests than a conversation.

In today’s passage from Acts 4 the early Christians are under severe persecution. So, they go to the Lord in worship, lifting up scripture – God’s Word – then they ask of God. They let God begin the conversation.

Maybe our prayer life should be guided more by the early churches example. Start with scripture and allow God to begin, then allow the conversation to evolve from there.

God wants to hear from you – All the Time. By starting with His Word, it allows our hearts to be more in line with Him and less focused on the world around us.

Jesus, in John 15:7-8 tells us “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

Prayer: “God, Your Word is life to me. I want you to shape and guide my life. Amen.”

FRIDAY, January 15                         Isaiah 55:6-11

I like to have a garden. There is something about working in the soil, cultivating, weeding, planting, nurturing, watering, and eventually harvesting that is extremely satisfying and soothing. Gardening takes a great deal of patience and work. You don’t just throw out the seed one day and harvest a crop the next.

Patience and perseverance are the keys to a successful garden. The problem is, I don’t have the patience I used to have. I don’t know if it’s because the older I get the more impatient I become or if it’s because our fast-paced world around us doesn’t foster and allow for patience.

Our passage today tells us the word of God does not return empty but accomplishes that which it purposes. This is a favorite passage for a lot of Christians but unfortunately, I think it is also greatly misunderstood. We use God’s word and expect immediate results and when we don’t get them, we become discouraged or disappointed. That’s because we don’t understand God and expect God to work according to our purposes and timetable.

God’s word is alive, and powerful, and transforming, and always accomplishes God’s purpose. But there is a reason God uses so many gardening examples in scripture. God’s work also requires, perseverance, cultivation, weeding, nurturing, and patience.

Listen again to verses 10-11: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Prayer: “God, teach me your patience. Help me to not be shaped by the fasted paced world around me. Amen.”

SATURDAY, January 16                  Jeremiah 15:16

The word of God is nourishment to our souls. In 1 Peter 2:2-3 we are told that “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Psalm 19:10 tells us God’s words are “more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights his reply was “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Our dependance on the word of God to nourish our souls is equal to that of our need for food for our bodies.

In our passage today from Jeremiah 15 the prophet was going through a difficult time and the word of God revived him and he says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.”

In the same way that we were created, and God breathed life into our bodies, God’s words still nourish and give us life today. That is why the gospel of John begins by telling us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it… And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”

Prayer: “God, your Word is life. I will live by your Word. Amen.”

January 3, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Zephaniah 3:14-20

“New Thing”

MEMORY VERSE

 

Isaiah 43:19

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert..”

 

MONDAY, December 28                2 Peter 3:8-16

“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.”

We read. We believe. We hope. But it’s been more than 2,000 years since Jesus came the first time. That’s more than 730,000 days. We’re ready for the new heaven and the new earth. We’re ready for no more suffering, we’re ready for no more injustice, we’re ready for no more abuse, no more addictions, no more war. We are ready for Jesus. It’s been 2,000 years.

Perhaps, we need a slightly different perspective. According to God’s calendar its only been a couple of days.

“The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.”

God isn’t delaying, he is actively waiting. The Holy Spirit is at work in every single person in the world, actively calling, beckoning, wooing them to follow Jesus Christ. He patiently waits on everyone, anyone, anywhere at any time to respond in faith.

He wants and expects the same kind of active patience, active waiting from us. While we look forward to the final Advent, we actively continue our lives with confidence that the Spirit is moving in every single person we encounter. Jesus wants to reach out to them though us, perhaps with a smile, an embrace, a surprising act of mercy, a word of grace and encouragement.

As we begin a brand new year, let’s try getting on the same page as Jesus.

Prayer: “Jesus, thank you for being patient with me. Teach me your patience so I can be actively patient with others. Amen.”

 

TUESDAY, December 29                Romans 13:11-14

Do you remember when you first became a believer? Everything was new and exciting, and our focus was on finding out more about this new life we found. Our passage today is just 13 verses into the first letter of the New Testament and those earliest followers of Jesus were already falling asleep at the wheel. It’s not that we stop believing; we just slowly drift off to sleep.

“It is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.”

All of the shiny new things around us and the subtle seduction of darkness can become almost overwhelming. These days leading up to the New Year have a way of bringing the brokenness to the surface. Just a little more food, just another drink, just one more party and maybe we can push the brokenness back beneath the surface again.

Every day the world makes more and more provisions for giving into the darkness, more and more places to hide from the light. What would happen if we stopped giving into the darkness and instead “put on the armor of light”? The light will hurt your eyes at first, but the gift it gives is vision.

“Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.”

It is as simple as opening the door and inviting him in. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Prayer: “Jesus, you are the light of the world. I want to stay awake and focused on your light. Amen.”

 

WEDNESDAY, December 30         Hosea 10:12

What does it mean to “break up your fallow ground”?

There is a term used by farmers called hardpan. Hardpan is a layer of ground that has become as hard as concrete and won’t grow anything, and water doesn’t even penetrate it anymore. It happens over a long period of time when the ground hasn’t been worked – it’s gone ‘fallow’. It occurs when the rich nutrients are gone in a particular layer and it binds up and hardens. It also happens when the rich topsoil erodes away.

When this happens the farmer now has to use special equipment to break through this hard layer so the rich soil underneath can come to the surface once more.

Hardpan is a good description of our lives when we have lost touch with God. This usually comes after years of constant neglect of our relationship with God. It can also be traced back to some crushing event or a broken relationship somewhere in our past that is still unresolved.

It’s time for us to “break up your fallow ground”. It’s time to work through the hardpan we have created and allow the work of the Holy Spirit to come to the surface.

Prayer: “Jesus, show me my fallow ground. Break up the hardpan around my heart so your love can flow freely. Amen.”

 

THURSDAY, December 31             Luke 3:1-6

The Emperor of Rome, Pontius Pilot – the governor of Judea, all the rulers of the regions of Israel, the high priest… What do they all have in common? God didn’t speak to any of them.

God came to the wilderness. To the locus and wild honey eating John the Baptist. John then goes about “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.

The rich and powerful don’t get the message because they are too consumed with their own wealth and power. Those who will listen can still hear this powerful message today. A message that realigns our lives with what matters the most. A voice in the wilderness that carries us beyond the messages of our current situations and time. A message from God.

That is why the Word of God is so vitally important. It transcends time. All the messages, all the voices we hear around us are finite and fleeting. Only the Word of God transcends all time and space. “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

As you prepare for the New Year, prepare your heart and life for the One and Only One who can level the path ahead of you. The One who can fill the valleys and make the mountains low. The One who can make the crooked straight and the rough ways smooth. Then “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Prepare your heart because the New Year is upon us.

Prayer: “Jesus, thank you for leveling my path and making a straight way to you. Amen.”

 

FRIDAY, January 1                            Luke 3:7-18

“Bear fruits worthy of repentance”. Fruit comes at the end of a process, not the beginning. Maybe simply checking the box on a donated coat isn’t the answer. Fruit begins with breaking up fallow ground, and sowing, and cultivating, and watering, and more cultivating, and waiting, and finally by God’s grace, fruit.

Maybe repentance takes sustained attention and effort. Jesus wants to reach deep into our behavior, desires, and brokenness.

This New Year, let’s ask God to identify not a resolution but a New Year repentance in our lives. Just one. It might be a symptom of something deeper, like a closet full of coats, or a short temper, or uncontrollable comfort eating, or too much wine. Let’s dig beneath the surface of the behavior and find what is broken underneath.

Instead of battling the behavior then we can plant new seeds of different patterns in our souls. Then we can water and cultivate God in our lives. Then, maybe by this time next year we can “Bear fruits worthy of repentance”.

Prayer: “Jesus, break up my fallow ground so your seeds can be planted in my soul. Amen.”

SATURDAY, January 2    Philippians 1:3-11

The word repentance has a bad rap. It conjures up images of dooms day preachers on street corners and it’s associated with words like stop, don’t, and quit.

What if repentance was actually positive? It really means turning toward something good. It means to go, do, and start. Repentance means to reorient our highest aspirations toward the best thing imaginable. We were created for lives of incredible goodness.

Notice Paul’s prayer from Philippians 1:9 “And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best.”

That’s what I want – My love overflowing more and more with knowledge and full insight to help me determine what is best. Said another way “I want the same mind in me that was in Christ Jesus.”(Phil. 2:5). Or how about “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2).

Our souls are like gardens. They respond to the laws of reaping and sowing. If you sow roses, you reap roses. If you sow strawberries, you reap strawberries. If you sow tomatoes, you reap tomatoes… If you sow nothing?… You actually reap weeds.  You don’t have to plant weeds to reap them. They grow uncontrollably when you do nothing.

Repentance means weeding our souls. Repentance also means sowing the seeds of incredible things. Weeding is extremely important. But you only bear fruit when you sow new seeds.

Prayer: “Jesus, thank you for the seeds of your love. I want to sow them in everything I do. Amen.”

December 27, 2020

REDISCOVER CHRISTMAS

Luke 2:1-20

“Finding Christ in Our World”

MEMORY VERSE

 

Luke 2:7

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

 

MONDAY, December 21                Luke 2:1-5

“This is sooo not what we need right now!” Mary and Joseph must have thought when they found out they had to report in Bethlehem for that Roman census.

Mary should have been at home nesting, preparing the nursery, cleaning the cupboards, or weirdly reorganizing the hut for the twelfth time. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. But instead of those final preparations, Mary had to endure a 90-mile journey on foot through the cold desert winter.

In pregnancy, you know the time is drawing near, but you never know exactly when the baby is coming. There are contractions. There may be false starts. But one moment you are rearranging the kitchen, and the next, labor has begun. There’s no going back. Your body and mind completely focus on the process of labor. This new life is entering the world, and your life will never be exactly the same.

In these moments, there is joy and there is uncertainty. There is contentment and there is expectation. There is the planned and the unexpected. There is completion and there is the journey ahead. This Christmas week, we find all the same things.

As we finish our Christmas preparations, let’s also pause to rest a few minutes in the expectant now. The celebration will erupt. The emotions will swirl. The memories will be created. Our lives will add another new day, a special day not exactly like any other, and in that sense, our lives will never be the same.

Like Mary, let’s ponder and treasure these moments in our hearts as we reflect on this threshold of birth and life, expectation and celebration, and God turned human in our hearts and lives.

Prayer: “God, prepare my heart and life for the coming of your son. Today and every day. Amen.”

 

TUESDAY, December 22                                Luke 2:8-11

There’s been so much bad news this year in this era of doom-scrolling. How about some good news headlines?

History brings us some momentous ones: “Peace. Greatest War of All Time Over.” “Victory. Nazis Reveal Surrender.” “Man Walks on the Moon.” “Nelson Mandela Freed.”

But we can also find these feel-good stories from this past year: “A 6-year-old ordered $350 in Barbies from Amazon. Her parents gave them to a hospital.” “A farmer fell ill. So dozens of his neighbors showed up spontaneously and harvested his crops.” “Bride and groom had extra food. So they took it to a shelter and served it.”

This week we celebrate the best, most momentous news of all time: Christ has come! Jesus is here! He comes in the midst of troubling times. He brings hope in our despair. He brings peace in our worry. He brings joy in our sorrow. He brings love in our conflict. He brings life in our death.

This is the good news angels announced in the night. It is the good news we can proclaim this week. Jesus is who we expectantly await in Advent, and Jesus is who we celebrate at Christmas. He is the Good News no matter how troubling the times. Jesus is here. Jesus will come again. Jesus will never leave us. In Jesus, let’s celebrate with hope, peace, love, and joy in our hearts as we worship with the angels: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Prayer: “Jesus, we celebrate you today and every day. You are the greatest news of all time. The only news we really need. Amen.”

 

WEDNESDAY, December 23         Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Prayer: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”. Amen.”

 

THURSDAY, December 24             Matthew 1:18-25

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.”

Prayer: “Lord God Almighty, thank you for the gift of your son. Thank you for being with us, Emmanuel.”. Amen.”

 

FRIDAY, December 25                    Matthew 2:1-12

“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.”

Prayer: “Lord God Almighty, today I open the treasure chest of my heart and give you my life. Amen.”

 

SATURDAY, December 26             Matthew 2:13-23

“Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’ When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

‘A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’”

Prayer: “God, thank you for the reminder that in this world there will be problems. Thank you for being there with us in the problems. Amen.”