Daily Devotionals

July 5, 2020

 

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me”

 

MEMORY VERSE

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

 

 

 

MONDAY, July 6                               Matthew 4:17-24

Hope is believing and acting like the future will be better than today. Yes! Hope is focused on the future, but it is a focus that acts TODAY like the future is a present reality. Jesus started his ministry by proclaiming “Change your hearts and lives!” – (Repent). Then he called those who listened to follow him. In verse 23 it says, “Jesus announced the good news of the Kingdom.” The emphasis is on the “Present Tense” – Here and Now!

Yes! In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “Thy Kingdom Come” because we have an expectant hope in God’s Kingdom, but we are called to live as if God’s Kingdom is here and now “On earth as it is in heaven.” That is why Jesus started his ministry with “Change your hearts and lives!” As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to walk in a different direction than the world around us. A world that is obviously headed the wrong way.

Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Amen.”

TUESDAY, July 7                                Matthew 5:13-16

With all that is happening in the world around us the media has been having a field day with our emotions and it is making it difficult for us to know who we are – and more important – Who’s We Are! We are children of God! Brother’s and Sister’s with Jesus; we are filled with the Holy Spirit! We are called to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. Salt enhances flavor and draws out the goodness. Light makes good things visible and exposes the darkness. “A city on a hill cannot be hidden… let you light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” We are here to lead lives that reflect the love of Jesus and are inspired by the Holy Spirit. We are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. We bring hope into the chaos so the world around us can see the way through.

Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Amen.”

WEDNESDAY, July 8                         Matthew 6:25-34

With all that is happening in our nation and the world it can be difficult not to worry. But Jesus specifically instructs us not to worry. Worry does not solve anything – in fact – it causes problems, both physically and emotionally. Proper planning is wise and prudent as long as we have our values straight. “Desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” When our values are where they should be then our wants and desires don’t override what is most important “God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness”. Then we are free to plan and prepare for a future with hope.

God is the only plan that has a future.

Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Amen.”

THURSDAY, July 9                            2 Corinthians 12:7-10

A Roman centurion was part of the occupying force over Israel, he would have the command of 100 soldiers. He understood authority and recognized that Jesus was the ultimate authority. “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” This Roman centurion not only showed honor and respect, he also demonstrated genuine compassion for others. For him to come to Jesus, a Jew, and plead for help was stepping outside of all social boundaries and breaking the cultural rules. Jesus was impressed by his faith a faith that held the wellbeing of others ahead of himself. A faith that demonstrated compassion. This is the same compassion Jesus demonstrated throughout his ministry as he stepped outside of the acceptable social boundaries to heal the sick and set people free. Jesus broke all “social distancing” rules by touching the lives of those who needed healing.

Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.  Amen.”

FRIDAY, July 10                                 Matthew 8:23-34

Have you ever felt like the storms of this life were more than you could handle? It seems like they will never end and even though you trust that Jesus is in the boat with you, it sometimes feels like he’s asleep. Jesus is always with you and he is always in control. Don’t mistake his calm presence for being asleep. Sometimes Jesus chooses to calm the storm that is raging around us, other times he chooses to calm the storm inside of us. We only need to keep our trust in him, no matter where the storms may rage. Let the storms rage. Allow Jesus’ calm non-anxious presence to become part of your life so you can give hope, peace, and strength to others.

Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.  Amen.”

SATURDAY, July 11                          Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus had so much compassion for the sick and broken – he had to help. Everyone he came in contact with he healed. Not everyone was healed, only those he came in contact with. The leaders during Jesus’ day had taken God’s laws to the extreme and created all kinds of social barriers to keep everybody at a safe distance. In their effort to be “Safe” they had completely neglected compassion. Jesus came to show us that compassion is most important. He violated every social distancing rule they had in order to touch the lives of the sick and broken. Then Jesus told us that the things I have done I want you to do. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.”

June 28, 2020

 

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

“Relentless Hope”

 

MEMORY VERSE

Romans 8:28

We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

 

MONDAY, June 29                           Acts 7:54-8:3; 9:1-9

The Apostle Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, his father was a wealthy Jewish leader who had been granted Roman citizenship by Cesar. As a Pharisee Paul went by his Jewish name Saul and was passionately devoted to the Jewish customs, the high priest, the Sanhedrin, and everyone else who rejected Jesus and saw Christians as a threat to God’s truth. Saul was blinded by his upbringing and didn’t even know it. How might you be blinded by your upbringing? We all are in one way or another. That is why we all need to have an encounter with Jesus, our risen Lord and Savior. That is why we must respect the authority of Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in God’s Love. God’s Word is what keeps us on the right path and guides us into God’s Hope. Saul had to be blinded to his former life so his eyes could be opened to the Gospel Truth. Look at the difference a relationship with Christ makes in Acts 9:20-22.

Prayer: “Jesus, you called Saul and changed his life. Open my eyes so I can see your truth. Amen.”

TUESDAY, June 30                            Acts 16:22-34

During Paul’s second missionary journey he was led by the Spirit to the province of Macedonia where he stayed in the city of Philippi. While there he was stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison. Most people would become very discouraged by this turn of events. Not Paul. When faced with adversity, he seizes on an opportunity to share hope. He and Silas begin praying and singing hymns of praise. When an opportunity comes for him to run and hide, he stays and shares the Gospel with his jailer and his family.

Because of this relentless hope in Christ that Paul lives he not only brings the jailer and his family into a relationship with Christ, the next day he proclaims the Gospel in the streets of Philippi and the Philippian Church is born. What are the opportunities God is giving you in the midst of your adversities? They are there. You just need to look for them.

Prayer: “Jesus, show me the opportunities in my adversities. Amen.”

WEDNESDAY, July 1                       2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 15-18

Even when faced with adversity within the church Paul demonstrates a relentless hope in Christ. Paul called this life’s troubles “temporary minor problems” because they don’t last. What does last, what is permanent is God’s Glory. Paul is sharing God’s Hope reminding us that “we aren’t depressed…even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, we are renewed every day.” As we look at the world around us that is falling apart, God’s hope tells us there is a future for us that is beyond all imagination.

Prayer: “Jesus, as the world around me tears itself apart, I am reminded that your kingdom is renewed every day. Amen.”

THURSDAY, July 2                           2 Corinthians 12:7-10

“When I’m weak, then I’m strong.” Sounds like a contradiction – and it is to this world, but not for God. The Apostle Paul had learned that it is only when we stop relying on our own strength and turn to God that we become incredibly strong. Paul had some sort of unidentified physical ailment that he referred to as “a thorn in my body”. He had prayed repeatedly for God to remove it and the answer was “NO”. God told Paul “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul did not blame God for his ailment – he called it “a messenger from Satan”. In fact, he rejoiced that this was yet another opportunity for the power of Christ to shine through his weaknesses. Paul went on to say, “I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ”.

Prayer: “Jesus, when I am weak then I am are strong – through you. Amen.”

 FRIDAY, July 3                                  Romans 8:18-25

Yesterday we saw that suffering was a regular part of Paul’s life as an apostle. You might think that would leave him bitter, defeated, and hopeless. But it didn’t. Today we learn why. Paul’s hope was grounded in the future, a future that he eagerly anticipated and was expectantly excited to be revealed. Paul recognized that “all of creation is groaning and suffering labor pains up until now”. This shows us two things. First it shows us that we don’t suffer alone. That’s a small consolation but it does help.

Second and most important is he likened our suffering to labor pains. Why is that important? It means our suffering does not lead to death – labor pains lead to new life and a bright new future. “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Prayer: “God, I am expectantly waiting for a glorious new life in you. Amen.”

SATURDAY, July 4                            Romans 8:31-39

The Apostle Paul did not teach or believe that God causes bad things to happen. He did, however, tell us that in this life you will have troubles. Bad things like sickness, violence, disasters, or broken relationships are going to happen – Paul had faced all these and more. Paul listed these obstacles to show us they do not separate us from God. No matter what life throws our way, we can stand tall and move forward in confidence knowing that God is with us. That does not mean that all things are good – they are not. But God who is always good, can take even the worst and most painful things in our lives and turn them into something good.

Prayer: “God, thank you for taking my brokenness and turning it into something good. Amen.”

June 21, 2020

Ezekiel 37:1-14

“Hope for Dry Bones”

 

MEMORY VERSE

Isaiah 40:31

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.”

 

 

 

MONDAY, June 22                           Jeremiah 7:1-10

In order to understand the need for hope in a better future we first must understand the tragic events that make hope necessary. The prophets, like Jeremiah, spoke of hope because God’s people had lost their way spiritually. They had falsely believed that because they were God’s chosen people, because they offered sacrifices, and worshipped at the temple, they were somehow magically protected from harm. They were living a lie. God does not honor lies and deception. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s what God is saying in Jeremiah 7:5-7… They ignored God’s covenant – and so have we! There is hope for a better future but only if we turn back to God. “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor.” Stop thinking that because you call yourself “Christian” you are somehow protected. God is not a lucky charm we wield & control. Jeremiah 7:8-10 was as much for Judah as it is for us. Hope is for those who trust and follow God’s covenant.

Prayer: “God, forgive me for my arrogance and ignorance. Show me what real love is. Amen.”

TUESDAY, June 23                            Daniel 3:14-25

The world around us demands that we do what they do, follow what they follow, worship what they worship. If you don’t, you are either considered an outcast – or worse things can happen. That has pretty much always been the case. God calls us to be different – set apart – from the rest of the world. You can’t follow the world and follow God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a choice to make and the consequences were very real. They must have been terrified when they made their choice but for them it was the only one to make and verse 17-18 shows what faith and hope look like.

God was with them. They still had to walk through the fire, but God was with them. Hope doesn’t mean you won’t have to walk through the fire. Hope means that God will be with you when you do and there will be something much better on the other side.

Prayer: “God, give me the courage I need to follow you. Amen.”

WEDNESDAY, June 24                    Daniel 6:14-23

Daniel lived his life with honor and integrity. Everything he did gave glory to God. Even in the midst of exile he treated others with respect and shared with them God’s love. Why? Because Daniel trusted in God and that trust produced a hope that gave him the strength to live his life as an example for God. You can do everything right and the world will still hate you. Trusting and following God doesn’t mean you won’t be thrown to the lions.

Prayer: “God, give me the strength to walk through fire and face the lions for you. Amen.”

THURSDAY, June 25                        Jeremiah 29:4-13

The prophet Jeremiah for 20 years had told Jerusalem that they needed to stop rebelling against each other, stop rebelling against your leaders, and most important of all – Stop rebelling against God and turn back to God before it’s too late. Our message today comes after Jerusalem has been destroyed by Babylon and all its people were sent into exile. Jeremiah now gives a message of hope for those in exile – after their actions have destroyed everything they once knew, and they were held captive in a place they did not want to be. This is a message for us today – TURN BACK TO GOD! “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even when your neighbor is Babylon (See verse 7). Your future is tied to the future of those around you. Even those you don’t like. Even your enemies. Jesus told us to “Love your enemies”. It wasn’t a question. It will do you well to remember Jeremiah 29:11-13. Remember its context as well.

Prayer: “God, I love you. I love all your children as well. Teach me how to love as you love. Amen.”

FRIDAY, June 26                                Ezekiel 37:1-14

It was to a people in complete despair and hopelessness that God spoke the words of our passage today through His prophet Ezekiel. In order for God’s hope to shine through us we must first let go of our false sense of control and reliance on the things of this world. In Matthew 10:39 Jesus tells us “Those who find their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives because of me will find them.” We must let go so God can breathe new life into us. Turn to God and He will raise you up and give you hope.

Prayer: “God, I let go of my life so you can raise me up. Amen.”

SATURDAY, June 27                        Isaiah 40:25-31

The prophet Isaiah, through God, spoke directly to the nation of Israel while they were in exile in Babylon. What makes this most astounding is the fact Isaiah lived 120 years before the exile. In verse 27 God hears the cries of his children as they say, “My way is hidden from the Lord my God ignores my predicament”. God responds by reminding them He is an everlasting God who is the creator of all things. He does not get tired, and his understanding is beyond human reach. God does not grow tired or weary. He has more than enough strength for today and tomorrow. No matter what is happening around us. No matter what we may be facing. God is with us and will never leave us. His strength is more than enough and if we trust in him, he will lift us up and give us the strength and hope to move forward.

Prayer: “God, I place all my hope and trust in you. Your strength is more than enough. Amen.”

June 14, 2020

 

Romans 5:1-5

“Relying on Hope”

 

MEMORY VERSE

 

Psalm 40:1

I put all my hope in the Lord.”

 

MONDAY, June 15                           Psalm 40:1-8

If you listen to the TV or media, they have all kinds of advice on what is right and what will make you happy. Anything from which car, house, or new electronic device to buy to what vacation you should take, “expert” you should listen to, or political party you should align yourself with. Over the last 3 months we have seen the folly in this, and just how fragile everything truly is – including our jobs, family, and even our liberty. Our Psalmist today says, “I put all my hope in the Lord”. That is the only thing that has not changed over the last 3 months – or ever. The Psalmist continues in verse 4 saying “Those who put their trust in the Lord, who pay no attention to the proud or those who follow lies, are truly happy!” Put ALL your hope in the Lord. Hope is a choice you make – a choice that believes and acts toward a better future. Hope is more powerful than fear and is the only thing those in power can’t take away. The powerful control you through fear. God leads you to a better future through hope.

Prayer: “God, it’s hard to look beyond today’s problems. Teach me to focus on your plans for the future. Amen.”

 

TUESDAY, June 16                            Psalm 130

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, like the flood waters have completely covered us and it’s from these depths we cry. Psalm 130 is a Psalm of Ascent; it’s a Psalm of hope in God that comes when we have reached the bottom and have finally looked up to God and begin to ascend to his glory.

This cry of ascent comes when we realize we are powerless on our own to climb out of the pit we find ourselves in and we turn back to God who is our only hope. Verses 5 & 6 repeat the words hope and wait 6 times, almost interchangeably. In Hebrew, hope has a sense of expectant urgency. “More than the night watch waits for morning.” If you have ever stood a night watch you understand. You know morning is coming, there is no doubt. But it seems like it’s never going to arrive. A new day is coming.

Prayer: “God, it’s hard to wait, but all my hope is in you. Amen.”

 

WEDNESDAY, June 17                    Psalm 27:1-5, 14

As children of God we are called to live without fear. That can be very difficult during hard times. Living without fear does not mean God will solve all of our problems. Living without fear does not mean we won’t have to face the storms of this life. Living without fear means we trust that God is with us in every situation. Living without fear means we hope and trust that God’s future for us is infinitely better than today. Depending on the bible translation you use verse 14 will either say “hope in the Lord”, or “wait for the Lord”. Whatever you may be facing today, wait and hope in the Lord.

Prayer: “Jesus, you are my light and my salvation. My hope is in you. Amen.”

 

THURSDAY, June 18                        Hebrews 10:32-11:1

In Matthew 5:11-12 Jesus tells us “Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven”. Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison after being flogged in Acts 16:23-25. Today’s text said some of Jesus’ early followers “accepted the confiscation of your possessions with joy”. Clearly these Christ-followers were “banking on” the world to come more than this one. Hebrews 11:1 defined faith as “the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see”. What life experiences have helped you move beyond thinking of God as “just a nice idea” and into a loving and personal relationship where you trust and obey God and place all your hope in him?

Prayer: “Jesus, you are my life and my future, all my hope is in you. Amen”

 

 

FRIDAY, June 19                                Romans 5:1-5

Have you ever experienced the progression Paul described bringing you to a powerful sense of God’s love being “poured out” in your heart? Later in Romans 5:13, Paul wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. Hope can fill your heart and open it up so God’s love can overflow and pour out for others. During this crazy mixed up time of crisis we find ourselves in God’s love and hope can make all the difference. When Paul first preached this message of hope, the realist said it wouldn’t make any difference against the invincible Roman Empire. Now, 2,000 years later, this message of hope not only outlasted the Roman Empire, it changed the world. Hope in God is not just wishful thinking, it is confidence that God’s future is infinitely better than today.

Prayer: “Jesus, pour your love into my heart so I can overflow your hope.”

SATURDAY, June 20                        Lamentations 3:18-26

The writer of today’s passage lived through a great tragedy when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. It was as though a tiny highly contagious virus had killed thousands and sent unemployment skyrocketing and stock prices plunging. Amid the bodies and the rubble, the writer of Lamentations did not deny or hide the pain of the experience. Yet he still voiced a gritty trust in God: “I have hope…great is your faithfulness…It’s good to wait in silence for the LORD’s deliverance”. During this season of pain and loss we should not abandon hope; in fact, it is why we desperately need hope. In our frustration, anger, disorientation, grief, and exhaustion we need to practice the art of living one day at a time. That’s why verse 23 tells us God’s compassions “are renewed every morning”.

Prayer: “God, your compassions are renewed every morning. Amen.”

June 7, 2020

 

John 13:34-35

“Love Each Other!”

 

MEMORY VERSE

 

John 13:35

This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

 

MONDAY, June 8                             1 John 1:5-10

Love is about relationships – our relationship with God and our relationships with each other. The Words of Scripture are important – they have a relationship with each other and a relationship with us as well. Last week we talked about life and death in scripture. You have life when you are in relationship with God. You are dead if you don’t have a relationship with God. Life and Light in scripture have this same relationship as do fellowship and truth. If you are walking in the light you have life. Death and darkness have the counter relationship Life and Light as do lies and sin. If you are walking in darkness you are walking in death, lies, and sin – separated from God. If you are walking in God’s light it does not mean you are perfect, it means you are striving for a relationship with God who is perfect and that relationship puts you in fellowship with God and all others who are in God’s light. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.

Prayer: “Jesus, I want to walk in your Light and your love. Amen.”

 

TUESDAY, June 9                              1 John 3:13-16

“Don’t be surprised if the world hates you”. This echoes what Jesus first told us in John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first..” God’s love is the opposite of the world’s hatred and is the only thing that can destroy the world’s hatred – water extinguishes fire; light dispels darkness; love destroys hatred. You cannot fight the world using the ways of the world. It will never work! Hatred, fighting, moral corruption, losing your temper, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, and jealousy only lead to destruction and death. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control all lead to life.

Prayer: “Jesus, I love you. I give you my life so others can know you. Amen.”

 

WEDNESDAY, June 10                    1 John 4:1-7

There are a lot of competing, angry voices in the world today. It is easy to get caught up in the conflicts, disputes, and anger. There are good people of God who have vastly different points of view. Do not get drawn into the world’s conflict. Children of God can, and often do disagree; that is ok. In fact, it is a very healthy thing. Do not get drawn into the world in the process. You cannot fight the world using the ways of the world. It will never work! (See yesterday’s post about the good and bad fruits found in Galatians 5). You have to practice the fruits of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:33-37 that you know a tree by it’s fruit… You don’t have to agree to respond in love.

Prayer: “Jesus, help me to speak your love to everyone. Amen.”

 

THURSDAY, June 11                        1 John 4:7-11

God Is Love! The love that is mentioned here in the Greek is Agape. Agape love is the self-sacrificial love that will do anything for the good of another with no expectation of anything in return. God gave us the perfect example of this when he sent his one and only son to die for us on the cross. God gave the absolute best he had, sparing nothing, so that we could know God’s love for us. God did this for us when we did not love God. When we were lost in sin and rejected God. Why? Because the essence of God’s nature is love. God’s love gives so others can experience what true love is.

“Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other.”

Prayer: “God, thank you for loving me so I can love others. Amen.”

 

FRIDAY, June 12                                1 John 4:16-21

 “God Is Love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them.” So why is this so difficult? Everywhere we turn we are bombarded with negativity and hatred – in the news, on social media, with each other… It’s hard to know what is right. It’s hard to know which side to choose.

In response, I have one thing to say, and I say it in love. Suck it up butter cup! Jesus endured the cross for you at your most unlovable.  How can you possibly sit back and deny God’s love to another? Yes! People can be very hard to love. So are you. These difficulties, contentious relationships, hardships, and even persecution are a cause for rejoicing because they are an opportunity for you to show and share God’s love. Romans 5:3-5 reminds us: “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Rejoice! God is giving you the opportunity to grow closer to him.

Prayer: “God, thank you for this growth opportunity. Amen.”

 

SATURDAY, June 13                        1 John 3:10-11

To practice righteousness is to do what is right in God’s eyes. Love is an action verb – Love Does! Love sees a problem and steps in to help fix the problem. Love stands up for what is right in the face of opposition. Love ACTS to build others up while correcting what is wrong. Love is NOT an option! Matthew 22:37-39 tells us “You must love…” Every thought, every response, every act of good will, every protest must pass through God’s filter of love. 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 spells out what love looks like… “Love never fails”. Romans 13:10 tells us “Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is what fulfills the Law.” John 13:34-35 reminds what that law is. Love is ACTIVE interest in the well-being of others.

Prayer: “Jesus, you are love incarnate. I want to be as you are. Amen.”