Daily Devotional

  • Handling Well the Perils of Life's Storms - Surviving A Shipwreck - Monday, May 22nd

    Then we will not be as children any longer. Children are like ships thrown up and down on big waves. They are blown with the wind. False teaching is like the wind. False teachers try everything possible to make people believe a lie, but we are to hold to the truth with love in our hearts. We are to grow up and be more like Christ. He is the leader of the church. Ephesians 4:14-15

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    A ship at sea provides a great analogy for our life in this world. Each of us is like a ship at sea that sometimes enjoys clear sailing but at other times contends with waves, winds, and storms. Sometimes we contend well and sometimes we are thrown up and down. But also, like many ships down through the ages, we may even face shipwreck in the midst of storms. For some ships, even when there are no storms, a shipwreck can happen because conditions onboard ship become so severe. But then, sometimes a shipwreck is the combination of both the storm and the condition of the ship. We live in a fallen world where shipwrecked lives are common. Often, when they occur they are a combination of both external and internal factors. Sometimes the storm is inescapable and sometimes the ship is just not up to the onslaught. But regardless, in life, survival is always possible. When our lives fall apart going forward and truly surviving our shipwreck experience can take place. This is what God is the business of doing. He will help us survive our experience of shipwreck by putting our lives back together and showing us how to live fully for him. This is the focus of our Devotionals for this week.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for being willing to put my broken life back together and to help me learn how to live fully for you. Transform the condition of my ship (my life) and help me contend well with everything the sea (my world) brings my way. I am committed to living fully for you and I believe you will help me do it. Amen!

  • Raising Kids to Live Fully - Persevering Over Faltering - Friday, May 19th

    One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. Mark 10:13

    This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent …. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:3, 17-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God’s presence, guidance, strength, and comfort can be counted on completely as we stay faithful to the task of raising our kids to live fully for God. Our job is to stay close to God throughout the journey, seek His guidance for the task, rely on his strength, and experience His deep comfort in all our faithful efforts. I said this in the opening of this week’s study and it bears being said again as we conclude. May God bless you richly and thank you for all you do to bless your children with love and faith. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, we hold up our kids before you that you might touch them and bless them. With childlike faith, we seek to be faithful for the long run. Grant that we continually persevere without faltering. Thank you for your faithfulness to us. You are everything we and our kids need. You are amazing. Amen!

  • Raising Kids to Live Fully - Genuineness Over Artificiality - Thursday, May 18th

    I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. Mark 10:15

    For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14

    What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1 John 1:1-4

    If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:26-27

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We want our children to come to faith in Christ so that they will experience redemption. Redemption is God washing away our sin in order to make us fitting habitats for His presence. As redeemed ones with Christ living within our hearts, we enjoy an intimate relationship with the God of the universe that is filled with love, worship,f aith, and dependence. Out of this relationship comes personal transformation and an outflow of life that blesses everyone around us. James above points to some of the things that become true of such a person: a bridled tongue, offering care to those in need, and overcoming worldliness. 

    When our practice doesn’t match what we profess, we interfere with our kids coming to Jesus just as surely as the disciples did so very long ago. However, when our kids see the reality of our redemption, our relationship with Christ, and genuine religious practice flowing from our transformed lives, it will go a long way toward them having a faith of their own. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be the real deal. Help me to be genuine through and through, so that I truly walk the talk. May your people everywhere live fully for you. Surely, we owe it to the next generation. Glorify yourself through us, Lord. Amen!

  • Raising Kids to Live Fully - Dependency Over Self-sufficiency - Wednesday, May 17th

    When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. Mark 10:14

    Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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. Matthew 11:28-30

    Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Matthew 16:24-27

    For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    One of the major characteristics of being a child is dependency. Dependency is the foundation of true faith. This is why Jesus says, “the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” Children have no choice but to depend upon and trust the adults in their lives. But for us as adults, dependency and faith don’t come easily. It often goes overlooked that Jesus lived His entire life here on earth in total dependence upon and faith in His Heavenly Father. Jesus modeled for us a life of dependency and faith. We are so prone to self-effort and self-sufficiency. Self-effort and self-sufficiency readily become a part of how we approach the Christian life. These two nemeses must be rooted out because they are contrary to living fully. 

    Living fully for God means that we are full of God. We cannot be full of God if we are full of ourselves. Not only is our pursuing a life of dependency and faith in Christ essential to our living fully for God, it is the key to our kids becoming ones who follow in our footsteps as we faithfully model “living fully” for them. We must build this kind of faith into our children’s lives while dependency and trust are natural to them. A “living fully” lifestyle that is replete with true dependency and faith requires that we come to an end of ourselves. You know what?, our children won’t mind that one bit.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I renounce self-effort and self-sufficiency. I choose the path of fully depending on you and fully trusting in you. Keep it from being that our kids get from us what hinders them rather than helps them live fully for you. Show me how to come to the end of myself and how to become full of you. Grant that in this I find true rest for my weary soul. Amen!

  • Raising Kids to Live Fully - Christ Over Substitutes - Tuesday, May 16th

    Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

    So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

    Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25

    This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Having our kids come to Jesus is our desire. If He were only here and He could take our kids in His arms and touch them and bless them, then surely, they would have a “faith” in Him that was all their own and they would spend a lifetime loving Him and living fully for Him. But Jesus is not here in that way. He is here in His church. Throughout the New Testament the church is called the Body of Christ and Jesus Christ is the Head. He manifests Himself on earth through His believers both individually and collectively. So, His touch and His blessing on our kids have a lot to do with how freely He is able to manifest Himself through us on an individual and collective basis. As our kids experience the presence of Christ in us and the fellowship we share with our brothers and sisters in Christ, they will have the opportunity to respond to Christ’s presence with an initial and developing faith of their own. But again, Christ must be free to manifest Himself and that means we must get out of the way and not settle for any substitutes. Often our kids find it hard to love the church because our churches settle for substitutes and with Him not free to manifest His true presence, our kids do not readily experience Christ’s presence with His subsequent touch and blessing. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, what an amazing thing it is to be supernaturally connected to you and your people. Keep us from relegating you to a figurehead so that your presence becomes merely theoretical. Manifest yourself in our midst so that our kids experience your presence in a way that helps them come to belong to you personally as well. Amen!

  • Raising Kids to Live Fully - Faithfulness Over Results - Monday, May 15th

    One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

    Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your acts. Psalm 145:3-4

    Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:23-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    When it comes to raising kids, what most of us really want in the end is to have them grow up to know, love, and live for God fully. If you are looking for a formula that makes that happen easily, neatly, and thoroughly, it does not exist. The pursuit of raising godly kids is as hard as it gets, is very messy, and offers little certainty or finality. However, God’s presence, guidance, strength, and comfort can be counted on completely as we stay faithful to the task. Faithfulness has its own reward and as a reward it is ample and often very loosely connected with results. This is a good thing for several reasons: (1) the results anticipated are not always realized; (2) the results anticipated may not be in accord with the actual task to which we need to be faithful and may contribute to our settling for much less than we should; (3) even when the results anticipated come about and are the result of our faithfulness to the task, our kids may not recognize it as such even to the point of viewing the good spot they have gotten to as having come about in spite of our efforts. Results are God’s doing. Our job is to stay close to God throughout the journey, seek His guidance for the task, rely upon him for strength and enabling, and experience His deep comfort in all our faithful efforts. This is what helping our kids to know, love, and live fully for God is really all about and this is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I get it. When I consistently experience your presence, guidance, strength, and comfort in my life, I will be living fully. When I live fully, I will be faithfully helping my kids to live fully. To this end help me to be faithful and all the while help me to leave the results in your capable hands, Lord. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God - Resting Fully in Its Indescribable Vastness - Friday, May 12th

    Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord! Psalm 117:1-2

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    What a great description of God’s love in the verse below from the song, “The Love of God” by Frederick M. Lehman:

    “Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade,
    To write the love of God above,
    Would drain the ocean dry.
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.”

    To know God is to know His love. His love is not a commodity he parcels out for us to possess and utilize. God never separates himself from his love in this way. Coming to know God and the “unchanging love” He has for us is crucial. God is as close as can be and we need to become intensely aware and vitally moved by His presence. May it be that God graciously fosters an awakening in us that helps us to consistently see Him and the magnificent love He has for us, His children. God is ready and willing to do His part to help us know him and experience his love more fully. This will involve our overcoming our orientation to conditional love that makes it so difficult for us to receive and experience his vast love. And it will result in our becoming absolutely assured and resting in the marvelous reality that we can never be separated from the unconditional, unfailing, unending, and unchanging love of God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, wow! Your love is wonderfully overwhelming. My relationship with you truly is a goldmine of Divine love that I treasure above all else.Thank you for loving me fully and always. I love you, trust you, praise you, and worship you. I truly rest in your vast unchanging love. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God - Responding Fully to Its Magnetic Power - Thursday, May 11th

    But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’ O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips, and you will never mention them again. Hosea 2:14-17

    But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. Titus 3:4-8

    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There is a mystery to God’s love. We are so oriented to human, conditional love. God’s love is such that He waits patiently for all to come to Him even if they never will. And He waits patiently for those who are already His to return when they stray from Him. Even though His love is missed so to speak by those who don’t know Him yet and by those who have strayed, it remains available to them and that is what makes it mysterious. Hosea’s stance toward unfaithful Gomer is that of seeking to “win her back.” What a beautiful picture of God’s stance toward us. He is always seeking to “win us back” by drawing us to himself with the chords of his unchanging love. Perhaps we are not one who has never believed, and perhaps we are not one who has been unfaithful. Still the image here is that of a loving God seeking to draw His people ever closer to Himself in order to pour out His unchanging and unconditional love into their lives more than ever before. So often we know Him as something other than a loving husband because we don’t know Him in the way He wants and waits for us to know Him. Romans 7:4 says that we have been married to another and that is Christ instead of the law. What a great way to look at it!

    God’s love both initially and ongoing is according to His mercy. It is not based on deeds which we have done. Just as nothing we do causes Him to love us there is nothing that can separate us from the love He has for us which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Truly, God’s love for us is unchanging and unconditional. God’s love is like a powerful magnet that not only draws us to him but keeps us forever closely and inseparably connected to him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, what an absolute sense of security comes from the way you draw me to yourself and love me. You are love. You have me and I have you. When I experience you, I experience your love. Help me to know you better and more consistently so that I experience you and your love more fully than ever. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God - Recognizing Fully Its Enduring Availability - Wednesday, May 10th

    When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. Hosea 1:2-3

    As it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is not who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes …. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:10-18; 22-26

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God …. because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:1-2, 5B-8 

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Because God’s love is unchanging and therefore not subject to influence, we can always count on it. The story of Hosea and Gomer lets us see a love that is unchanging and unconditional. This in turn helps us see more clearly the unchanging and unconditional love God has for His people. We are told that God loves the world but we must realize that everyone does not benefit from that love equally. God’s love is a gift that must be received. There are those who will not believe (they will not respond to His proposal of marriage) and there are those who believe but are not faithful (they go after other lovers). God’s people Israel were married to Him so to speak, but they were unfaithful. It is pretty tough for a wife to benefit from the love of her husband if she is giving herself to other lovers. Similarly, it is tough for us to benefit from God’s love if we give ourselves to substitutes for Him. Because God’s love for us is unchanging and unconditional, He waits for our return so that He can pour out His love into our lives.

    This is the kind of love Hosea had for Gomer. The unfaithfulness of Gomer depicts how Israel has acted toward God. Hosea depicts God Who in His unchanging and unfailing love waits constantly for Israel to return. God is always waiting with unchanging and unconditional love for those who yet need to respond to His salvation (proposal of marriage) and those (believers) who have been unfaithful (gone after substitutes) and need to return (forsake substitutes) to Him. It is hard for the unbeliever and the believer alike to recognize and admit the failings of sin. We fall short and only God can bridge the gap through His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s love, by which he gave us Christ and the provision of grace that takes care of our sin, was given while we were yet sinners with nothing to offer but failure. Therefore, His love continues to be available to us freely in our ongoing brokenness and failure.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you that you were there with your love all the time I paid no attention to you. Thank you for waiting for me and never giving up on me. Thank you for a love that saved me from my sins and established me in a forever relationship with you. Thank you for making your love available to me no matter how far astray I went or how long it took for me to respond. I am truly blessed. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God - Grasping Fully Its Uninfluenced Nature - Tuesday, May 9th

    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

    He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God …. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 3:18; 5:24

    We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:16-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    “For God so loved” – How so? That is the million-dollar question and in gaining an understanding of the answer we will at least be helped to understand (if not experience) God and His love more fully. The quote that follows is from the writings of A. W. Pink and is taken from a work of his on the attributes of God where he deals with the love of God: “Because He loved us when we were loveless, it is clear that His love was uninfluenced. It is highly important if God is to be honored and the heart of His child established, that we should be quite clear upon this precious truth. God’s love for me, and for each of "His own," was entirely unmoved by anything in them. What was there in me to attract the heart of God? Absolutely nothing.”

    Understanding and embracing the truth of this quote is absolutely essential for grasping the “unchanging” nature of God’s love. If God’s love for us is somehow based on our influencing Him to love us then the opposite is true: we can influence Him not to love us. God’s love is uninfluenced and the depth of assurance and gratitude this truth about His love invites and inspires is astounding. A bit of meditation (concentrating on God) and worship (responding to Who He is) is called for at this point.

    Let’s say it again, we do not influence God to love us. If His loving us was subject to our influencing Him to bestow it, then we would be in trouble. Our influence would only invite His judgment. God’s love provided Christ who was judged for us and satisfied completely God’s holiness. The one who entrusts himself to God and His redemptive provision does not come into judgment and does not perish. Those who believe have eternal life and become recipients of God’s amazing love.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for freely and fully bestowing your amazing love upon my heart and life. Continue your work of overcoming in me my natural bent of wanting to earn and deserve your love. I see that it cannot be anything but a gift of grace. I bow in worship and surrender. I love you, bless you, and rest in you. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God - Awakening Fully to Its Delightful Existence - Monday, May 8th

    Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. Micah 7:18

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The story is told of a man who owned a small ranch that had fallen on hard times. The man was facing bankruptcy and the loss of his ranch and the only solution he could see was to sell it and give up everything he had dreamed of and worked toward over the years. Shortly before the sale was finalized the man walked to an outcropping where he often sat and looked out over his ranch. He sat upon a rock of the outcropping for a long time taking it all in and grieving over what might have been. The sale went through and he managed to cover his debts but had very little left for going forward with his life. About year later, so the story goes, a rich vein of gold was discovered on that land and wouldn’t you know, it was just beneath that rock on the outcropping from which the man used to sit and look out over his ranch. The image conveyed is striking: poverty and ruin loom while wealth and prosperity remain hidden close at hand. Of course, we want the storybook ending where discovery at the last possible second produces the drastic reversal from disaster to happily ever after. The storybook ending, while it may serve the conclusion of this week’s study, does not serve what is needed in our introduction. From the image of this man and his ranch we need to see ourselves and our relationship with God. How often we do “life” in a way that speaks loud and clear that we do not know God for the gold mine that He is. To know God is to know His love. For most of us, we have hardly scratched the surface of what it means to know God and the “unchanging love” He has for us. Any yet there He is as close as could be and we remain so unaware and so unmoved by His presence. My hope and prayer for you and for me is that this week’s Devotionals will foster an awakening in us as we are helped to see Him and the magnificent love He has for us, His children.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, my relationship with you really is a goldmine of Divine love. Awaken every part of my being to you and your unchanging love for me. Deliver me from my orientation to conditional love and the damage it has caused in my life. Help me not to allow this conditioning to keep me from experiencing your love to the fullest. Thank you for loving me, Lord. Amen!

  • Lasting Spiritual Fulfillment - Letting God Shelter us Fully - Friday, May 5th

    From my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? The Lord is for me among those who help me; therefore, I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:5-9

    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this, I shall be confident …. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock …. I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:1-3, 5, 13-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Here is a link to a song that is sung by the Gaither Vocal Band:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsDCH0Y2aiU

    It is called, “I Am The Lighthouse” and it begins with an alternate version of the story that was included in Monday’s Devotional. The song concludes with the words that follow:

    How many years will a man stay blind

    Before he learns to see.

    How many doors will a man kick down

    While I offer him the key.

    And as I begin to light his way

    Will he fail to recognize,

    That I am here to light his path

    Not blind his eyes.

    I am the lighthouse!

    The path you choose is perilous.

    Destruction lies ahead if you delay.

    But if you’ll trust me,

    I will lead you through safely.

    Adjust your course

    And you’ll be on your way.

    I am the lighthouse!

    As was said earlier, God’s light not only reveals the danger of continuing on our present course but it also reveals the course He has for us. Both of these thoughts are captured in the part of the song you just read. I love the words, “Will he fail to recognize that I am here to light his path not blind his eyes.” Perhaps herein is the root of our struggle; we do not recognize that God is for us and not against us and that there is absolutely nothing better, nothing more fulfilling, and nothing more satisfying than being on the course He has for us. But it is not just being on the right course that makes the difference, it is being on the right course “with” him. When we are on the right course with God and stay in the channel of His presence, ways, and purposes, he shelters us, protects us, and shields us all along the way. The Lord is our refuge and help! The Lord is our light and salvation! It doesn’t get any better than this.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you are my light house, my course, my channel for living life fully. Thank you for your loving care that shelters, protects, and shields me moment by moment as I go about living fully for you. May you be glorified by my life always. I love you, worship you, and praise you. Amen!

  • Lasting Spiritual Fulfillment - Letting God Love Us Fully - Thursday, May 4th

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:19

    But You, O God, the Lord, deal kindly with me for Your name’s sake; because Your lovingkindness is good, deliver me; for I am afflicted and needy, and my heart is wounded within me …. Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to Your lovingkindness …. With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord; and in the midst of many I will praise Him. For He stands at the right hand of the needy, to save him from those who judge his soul. Psalm 109:21-22, 26, 30-31

    On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O Lord, when they have heard the words of Your mouth. And they will sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the humble, but the proud He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; You do not forsake the works of Your hands. Psalm 138:3-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The cause of our being off course in life is rooted in our pride. We think we can be the master of our own lives. The proud person is full of themselves and leaves little room for God. The humble person is empty of self and gives God a way to be intimately and deeply connected and involved. This is truly a beautiful thing. We must humble ourselves before God and give way to the true Master of life. When we humble ourselves before God in an act of surrender, the changing of our course begins. Our change of course then becomes a matter of our moving from where we are to where God wants us to be.

    It is primarily a change in connection rather than in location. Our connection with God is a connection of love that spills over into all of life so that we are no longer connected to the old pathways, patterns, and people in the way that we were. As we enter more and more into the fullness of God’s love we become more and more complete and whole. As recipients of God’s redeeming and transforming love we become vessels who God uses to touch the old connections with the overflow of His love. One of the marvelous things about being on course with God is that we become ones through whom His light is seen by others to help them see their need for a change in course as well (talk about satisfaction, fulfillment, and significance).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your love and the gift of salvation. I know that I would not have humbled myself before you apart from a special work of grace. I am so grateful for the change in course for my life that you have brought about. I pray that you will help me let you love me more fully than ever before so that as fully as possible I become what you want me to become and others are helped to choose the change of course they so desperately need. Amen!

  • Lasting Spiritual Fulfillment - Letting God Purify Us Fully - Wednesday, May 3rd

    People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13

    Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart. Proverbs 20:30

    We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4

    How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:1-5

    Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin …. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow …. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast 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 me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:1-2, 7B, 10-12

    It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons …. He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:7A, 10B-11

    Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:8-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God is a redeeming and restorative God. This means He loves to take things as they are, purify them, and make them into what they can become. And this means that at any given moment we need to be in touch with where we are so that we can acknowledge that reality before Him. This allows God to do the redeeming and restorative work that is needed. This process of discipline that God takes us through increasingly produces His holiness and righteousness in us. This is a holy calling that he purposed for us in eternity before we came into being. Now that is a high calling in deed, beyond which there are no purposes that yield greater significance and fulfillment. We need to understand this and align ourselves with the goal God has of fully making us into pure and holy people. Truly there is nothing more satisfying.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you redeemed me and made me your own through the gift of salvation. I praise you and thank you for this. But, I know you did this in order to transform my life and I do not want to settle for a life that is anything less than one that is increasingly becoming the pure and holy life you have in mind for me. Lord, I give myself to you freely and fully. Amen!

  • Lasting Spiritual Fulfillment - Letting God Care for Us Fully - Tuesday, May 2nd

    We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed …. But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 13

    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:1-4

    I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:1-4

    But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord   sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! Psalm 3:3-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The change in course God has in mind for us puts us in a place where we are squarely in the center of His care. When we are off course the focus of God’s care is centered on getting us on course and so the fullness of the care that otherwise might be ours awaits the change of course that is needed. There is certainly more to fear in choosing to stay off course and remain in the nakedness of missing care from God than there is in the momentary vulnerability before God and others that comes with acknowledging that we are off course and in need of a course correction. God is waiting for us to respond to Him and to let Him deliver us from all our fears that hinder us from making the change in course we so desperately need.

    Picture a flock of sheep that are under their Shepherd’s care. All their needs are being met as they stay near their shepherd in the pasture where he keeps them and tends to them. Now picture one sheep that goes astray by wandering outside the pasture and away from the care of the shepherd. It will not be until the sheep returns that he will be back under the Shepherd’s regular care. The shepherd will now devote himself to finding, rescuing, and bringing the lost sheep home to his pasture and the regular care he provides there for his sheep. We may think there is satisfaction and fulfillment to be found elsewhere and stray from our Shepherd and his pasture, but in the end our path will be perilous, filled only with pain, misery, and loss. The Lord seeks us when we have gone astray (off course) and he calls us by name. He wants to bring us home and we must let him do so. There is no better place to be but home under the Lord’s full and complete care.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me be and stay home with you. I believe the allurements of the world bring anything but satisfaction and fulfillment. I believe my true needs (spiritual and all the rest) are met by you and you alone. Help me adjust my course so that I am fully under your care. I know by being under your full care, I will serve you and live for you fully. Amen!

  • Lasting Spiritual Fulfillment - Letting God Change Our Course Fully - Monday, May 1st

    Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am. Behold, you have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in your sight; surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Surely every man walks about as a phantom; surely, they make an uproar for nothing; he amasses riches and does not know who will gather them. And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:4-7

    Then he (Jesus) said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’” “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:15-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The rich man in the Luke passage was living fully for himself. Lasting fulfillment only comes from living fully for God and not ourselves. The rich man was all wrapped up in material things and not in spiritual things. The greediness of owning much in the way of earthly riches consumed him rather than having a rich relationship with God. How about us? Following a course where we too, are consumed with the pursuit of earthly riches instead of becoming rich toward God can easily become our plight. The following story further illustrates for us how dangerous it is to continue on the wrong course.

    Know When to Change Course
    From More Sower's Seeds

    A battleship had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities. 

    Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow." 

    "Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out. 

    The lookout replied, "Steady, captain," which meant it was on a dangerous collision course with their ship. 

    The captain then shouted to the signalman, "Signal the ship: We are on a collision course. Advise you to change course 20 degrees." 

    Back came a signal, "Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees!" 

    In reply, the captain said, "Send: I'm a ship's captain. Change course 20 degrees, now!" 

    "I'm a seaman second class, "came the reply, "You had better change course 20 degrees, now!" 

    By that time, the captain was furious. He spit out a command, "Send: This is a battleship. Change your course immediately." 

    Back came the flashing light's reply. "This is a lighthouse!" 

    The battleship changed course.

    Getting to the spot where we commit to a change of course is absolutely essential if we are going to respond to God properly. God illumines the course we are on with His light. For some God’s light reveals that their present course will result in destruction on the rocks and that without a complete change of course all is lost. For others God’s light reveals that they have veered from the channel of His presence, ways, and purposes and that unnecessary and unintended rough waters lie ahead without an adjustment of course. While we all need to see clearly the ramifications of our present course, at the same time we need to see clearly the course God has in mind for us. This week’s Devotionals seek to provide the impetus we need for making the change in course that will actually allow us to go forward living fully for God in the channel of his presence, ways, and purposes. A rich relationship with God and not material riches is where truly lasting fulfillment is found.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to live fully for you. I want you to shine your Divine light on my life so that I can fully yield to you and the adjustments you are waiting to make in the course I have been taking with my life. Deliverer me from living for myself and the pursuit of earthly riches. I know they will be left behind anyway and only serve to rob me of true fulfillment. I choose you and the lasting spiritual fulfillment that comes from being rich toward you. Amen!

  • The Full Experience of Discipleship - Time and the Journey - Friday, April 28th

    For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason, it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:8-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    What a simple way to capture all that has been said so far, “walk as children of light” and “be careful how you walk …. making the most of your time.” This is well reflected in the life of 20th century missionary martyr, Jim Elliot, who said, “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.”

    Also, we need to remember that we are not on this journey alone. As we live out our devotion to intimacy with the Lord and intimacy with faithful others, our lights will shine in ways that unreached others will see and respond to. The cycle of redemption is a glorious thing and we have everything we need to ensure that we will follow through and not “fall down on the job.” Yes, we will make the most of our time here on earth by being ones who truly “live fully” for God in the full experience of discipleship.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, my heart, my will, my resources, and my time are all yours. I am your disciple completely and fully for all the days you give me. May you be glorified fully as I live fully for you, day by day. Keep me steady and sure on the path of genuine discipleship. May your people everywhere walk with you faithfully and triumphantly. Amen!

  • The Full Experience of Discipleship - Influence and the Journey - Thursday, April 27th

    Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king. You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:11-21

    For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble. 2 Peter 1:4-10

    But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; for I do not know the sum of them. I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone. O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come. For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? Psalm 71:14-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    One of the great evidences that we are going forward in complete follow through with the process of transformation of our lives that was begun when we came to faith in Christ is the impact our transformed lives has on the world around us. What a great description of this we find in the 1 Peter passage above. If we are living our lives in the way described, we will have opportunity to give verbal expression to our faith that we are already demonstrating by our lives (1 Peter 3:15). Getting to this spot is very much a part of our “follow through” and our not being ones who “fall down on the job.” But remember bearing fruit in this way does not take place apart from abiding in Christ whereby He produces the fruit in us and through us.

    Once again, we have passages of exhortation and in them we see both the tone of challenge and correction and the tone of encouragement and support. We need the help admonishment and edification provide if we are to be spurred on in our pursuit of living truly fruitful lives. When the fruitfulness of Christ comes forth from our lives it will be both in terms of Divine qualities that others see in us and in words they hear from us that proclaim the awesomeness of God and His gift of salvation.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for redeeming my soul. It is utterly amazing that my heart is now your home. How incredible that within the sanctuary of my heart I am getting to know you, I am being made like you, I am being guided by you, and I being empowered for living life. From all of this, I am becoming a vessel you use to influence, bless, and reach the people in my life. I get it, Lord! I just concentrate on you and you do the amazing work of radically altering my life and using it to touch the world. Amen!

  • The Full Experience of Discipleship - Diligence and the Journey - Wednesday, April 26th

    When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11

    Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:11-14

    For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:7-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    I can’t imagine there being anyone who could say the journey of growing up from childhood to adulthood was an easy one. Often the part of that journey that is the most tumultuous is adolescence. The transition from adolescence to adulthood is complicated and extremely challenging for all involved. Certainly, the same is true for us spiritually. There is an image that can be drawn from the passage above that captures the idea of adolescence. It is the image of one who has physically gown up, is dabbling at adulthood, but hasn’t put away childish things yet. The primary image conveyed from the passage that we want to apply to our spiritual lives is that of a person who sets aside childish things and enters into spiritual adulthood. To be ones who have truly grown up in Christ is the goal, but often we get stuck in spiritual adolescence so to speak. We dabble at the things spiritually grown up people live out consistently and we refuse to put away our favorite childish things. As a result, spiritual adolescence becomes a prison for us and it is a tumultuous thing indeed for everyone involved.

    The passages above are words of exhortation. To exhort is to speak into another person’s life that which is needed for their spiritual good. It can have either the tone of challenge and correction or the tone of encouragement and support. If we are stuck in spiritual adolescence we need faithful others who are not afraid to tell us that we have become dull of hearing and are not making the progress that was expected. We also need faithful others in our lives to tell us that they are convinced of better things concerning us and to express the great desire they have for us to make the shift out of our sluggishness into full gear for becoming ones who realize the full assurance of hope until the end.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, how easily I am deceived with thinking I am truly committed to genuine discipleship when in reality I am merely enamored with the idea of spiritual maturity. I need Divine diligence to be no longer one who dabbles at spiritual things but rather to be one who lives them out consistently. I know you will help me “live fully” so that I truly realize the full assurance of hope until the end. Amen!

  • The Full Experience of Discipleship - Nourishment and the Journey - Tuesday, April 25th

    Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment. 1 Peter 2:2

    I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing …. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples …. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain. John 15:5, 8, 16A

    Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. Hebrews 3:12-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    All journeys have a beginning and there is nothing wrong with being at the beginning unless we are still at the beginning long after we should be on the journey itself. A newborn baby is at the beginning of the journey of human life and the image of the 1st Peter passage above is very real to us. Babies cry out for nourishment and they crave their mother’s milk. As they regularly partake of that nourishment they are soon past the beginning and off to a good start of growing into the full experience of life. Our spiritual beginning comes about when we receive the forgiveness of sins offered us in Christ. Through this forgiveness and cleansing we are made alive spiritually and Christ comes to dwell in our hearts through the Holy Spirit to begin the process of transforming our lives. Christ gives us nourishment through His presence (the living Word) and through the Scriptures (the written Word) and we are launched on our journey with Him and the full experience of spiritual life He has in store for us.

    The key words from the passages above are the words abide and partake. The key to our journey is staying close to Christ and drawing our nourishment from Him like a branch does from a vine. This is what it means to abide and it is the only way to be fruitful. Being fruitful (the follow through) is what the journey is all about. In intimate connection with Christ whereby we experience His presence and partake of Him, we have the nourishment we need for being fruitful. If we learn to abide and partake of Christ right from the beginning, we will be in the best position possible for holding fast to Christ throughout the journey from start to finish.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, show me how to abide in your presence and how to partake of the constant nourishment provided in the intimacy of communion with you. I do not want to be a spectator but a full-fledged participant. I give myself to you and the growing, thriving spiritual life you have set before me. I choose to be a complete disciple for your honor and glory. Amen!

  • The Full Experience of Discipleship - Support and the Journey - Monday, April 24th

    You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 2 Timothy 2:2

    For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. Colossians 1:9-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are all familiar with the saying, “fall down on the job.” The saying simply means, “to begin and not follow through.” We are all too familiar with the problem of beginning but not following through. We see it in the lives of others and of course in our own lives as well. There is probably not a day in any of our lives where we are not exposed to situations where the saying, “fall down on the job” does not come into play. It doesn’t matter what area of our lives we pick, we do not want it to be that we “fall down on the job” in that area. It is certainly true that in our Christian lives we don’t want it to be true that we “fall down on the job.” But even though we don’t want it to be true, far too often it is true.

    Jesus addressed this problem in Luke 14 where he speaks of counting the cost before something is started so that once we begin it we are able to follow through with it. Jesus illustrates this by referring to a builder who did not count the cost and then after laying a foundation for a building was not able to finish. With the unfinished structure in full view of other people, the builder who did not follow through became subject to their ridicule and they said of him, “this person began to build but was not able to finish.” If we are Christians, we are disciples and according to Jesus, true disciples are ones who start and follow through.

    The Colossians passage above is a good description of what God wants to bring about in our lives as disciples. We are always a work in progress with the need to be going forward consistently. The 2nd Timothy passage above adds a marvelous element into the mix. We need trustworthy people around us who speak truth into our lives and we need to be one of the trustworthy people who speak truth into the lives of various other people that God brings our way. We certainly needed those people who helped us begin and if we are to follow through and not “fall down on the job” we certainly need those (small groups) who can help us continue on. Just as certainly, God has those people we will help to begin the Christian life and those we will help to continue on.

    So, we began and are on the journey of a transformed life through Christ (We call it “Living Fully”). We do not want to be ones who “fall down on the job” but rather those who follow through with what was begun. The key is a having a mix of people in our lives who speak truth and encouragement into our lives and to whom we speak truth and encouragement into theirs. As a result, our transformed lives will touch the lives of those who have yet to begin the journey and God will use us to help them come to the Master and embrace the journey He has for them. Exploring this cycle more fully and discovering the help we need for being able to go forward victoriously in the full experience of Discipleship is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it is my prayer that you will grant me a full measure of spiritual “follow through” so that I fully “live fully” for you. I want to finish well. I know that gearing up is not the answer. I give myself to you in genuine commitment, surrender, and dependence. Lord, I worship you, rest in you, and count on you. Amen!

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