Daily Devotional

  • The Living and Transforming Word of God - Impacting Our True Condition - Monday, August 21st

    For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:12-13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    This passage reminds us that we are God’s creatures (He made us) and that His word speaks to our true condition, completely penetrating and revealing to us what we are really like. What God’s word reveals as true of all human beings, God sees specifically as He views each one of us personally, directly, and entirely. Here is the take on the purpose of these verses: since what we are really like is known by the One who made us and since our true condition is revealed to us in Scripture, we, who avoid such scrutiny and are not in touch with our true condition, need to let God and His word do their work. When we do we will be set free from our denial of all that remains unexposed and unavailable to the transforming touch of God, who is waiting and ready to bring to us all the help we so desperately need for exchanging worldliness for godliness. This is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am so prone to being in denial about all that remains to be transformed in my life. Please set me free from this and help me yield to the transformation that awaits me from the work of your Word and the touch of your hand. Help me to find comfort in the reality that you know all that is true of me and can provide exactly what is needed to produce all necessary changes in my life. Amen!

  • The Challenge of Temptation - Choosing God's Glory for the Remainder of Life - Friday, August 18th

    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We human beings are a funny lot. When it comes to all the pleasant things life holds out to us, we say, “life is too short.” With all the tough things life throws at us, we say, “life is too long.” God holds out to us the right things he has in mind for our lives and we need to take hold of them full and completely. To be able to do so we must set aside our “too short” and “too long” ways of thinking because they reflect the reality that we are still in charge of our lives. Our passage says that we are no longer our own. If this reality has taken hold, then our primary desire will be take whatever time we have left to pursue fully the righteous life God wants for us.

    Really becoming convinced that we are no longer our own because we are bought with the price of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, will go a long way to our having and living out the commitment of glorifying God in every moment of every day that we are here on this earth in the flesh. Letting God help us master sin and letting Him produce His righteousness in us is really the essence of what it means to glorify Him. May God’s grace prevail in our lives to this end.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am trusting you for the wisdom I need to truly live a righteous life in all the remaining days you have in store for me. I am so thankful that more and more I am becoming a faith-filled follower who is aligned with your righteousness and consistently moving along the path of genuine Christian maturity. I know you will give me victory over temptation and sin so that you are glorified throughout the rest of my time here on earth. Amen!

  • The Challenge of Temptation - Finding Life through the Gift of God's Son - Thursday, August 17th

    So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:16-17

    Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 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 5:19-24 

    Deliver me from bloodguiltness, O God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; you are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:14-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    James speaks of the good and perfect things that come down to us from our God and Father. It is important that we see the bigger picture at this point. God made us to live fully for Him. This means that He desires that sin be overcome and that righteousness be produced in our lives. The only way this can happen is if He sends to us His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus alone can accomplish everything necessary. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus came, accomplished redemption, dwells in us by the Holy Spirit, and empowers us to master sin and choose righteousness. What a complete set of good and perfect things the Father has bestowed on us. What doth hinder us? 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know you have given me life in Christ and that this is life indeed. And yet I am so prone to being attached to human life. I see how this makes me more vulnerable to the world’s enticements and subsequent temptation to sin. Grant that I become thoroughly attached to everything good and perfect that comes down from above from you to me. All you have given to me in Christ is just what I need to have a genuinely righteous life. Amen!

  • The Challenge of Temptation - Relying Fully on the Work of the Holy Spirit - Wednesday, August 16th

    Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15 

    And if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. 2 Peter 2:7-10A

    Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:5-1 

    And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watching. and praying for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Psalmist speaks of “truth in the innermost being.” How easily we are deceived about our role and that of our circumstances and conditions in regard to our sinful choices and behaviors. In addition, however, we are often deceived in regard to temptation and sin themselves. Oh, how very sneaky and subtle temptation and sin can be. We are very good at maximizing the rewards and minimizing the consequences of sinful choices and behaviors. Satan is a liar and poses as an angel of light. It only follows that the choices and behaviors that tempt us promise things that are out and out lies and appear as light and not darkness. Jeremiah described the heart of man as desperately wicked. This is why God has given us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit must infuse our inner being with all that is true so that we can discern the truth about the temptations we face. When we let the Holy Spirit do this work we will not be mastered by sin but rather mastery over sin will be realized through the strength the Holy Spirit supplies.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I choose to trust the Holy Spirit for the difference he can make. I know how messy things get when I get out of step with the Holy Spirit. Bring truth into my innermost being. Surely, you alone know how to rescue the godly from temptation. With your powerful help I will keep watching and praying so that I do not enter into temptation. Amen!

  • The Challenge of Temptation - Accepting Responsibility for Our Sinfulness - Tuesday, August 15th

    And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:13-14

    You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to Go? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay. Romans 9:19-21A

    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 my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Psalm 51:1-4

    And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:13A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    As Christians we do not normally say to ourselves, “I think I will rebel against God and give myself over to sin.” Usually when we sin we do so with the sense that the circumstances and conditions we are experiencing justify and warrant our wrong choices and wrong behaviors. When we do this we shift the focus off ourselves and on to God and everything he is supposedly allowing to happen to us. Instead of letting the blame fall rightly on ourselves we put the blame on God. The Scriptures above make it very clear that we need to abandon our arrogance and gain a clearer view of who God really is and who we are before Him. We can be pretty certain that if we are blame shifting, we are not seeing ourselves clearly and of course that means we are not seeing God clearly or ourselves before Him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to see myself clearly. For all you help me to see about myself, may I see you clearly along with the amazing deliverance from temptation and sin you are able and waiting to provide. Forgive me for being stubbornly arrogant and so quick to blame shift. I know you will deliver me from evil. I believe I am standing before you washed clean and empowered to face temptation victoriously. Amen!

  • The Challenge of Temptation - Contending with Sin's Destructive Course - Monday, August 14th

    For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In the beginning God created Adam and Eve and they gave birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. They both brought an offering to the Lord and Abel’s offering was acceptable to God but Cain’s was not. Cain was very angry with this outcome and so God spoke these words to him, “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” It would seem that Cain wanted to provide an offering of his own choosing, while Abel was willing to bring one that was in accord with what God had evidently told them He wanted. So, Abel has ignored God’s “offering” instructions in favor of his own idea of an offering, and then when it gets shot down, he is mad at God and Abel. God warns Cain that the destructive course of sin is spinning into full operation and will soon be out of control. We know the outcome: Cain lets sin master him rather than him mastering sin and he kills his brother. Cain was not aligned properly with God and His intentions for mankind. In the book of Jude near the end of the New Testament a review is given of major examples of ones who lived in opposition to God and Jude describes them as having gone the way of Cain. God’s desire for us is that we go the way of Abel and not Cain. God has a plan in place designed to help us master sin with its temptations and to have true righteousness produced in our lives. This is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be aligned with your righteousness, so today I choose the way of Abel over the way of Cain. Help me to be wary of the true perils of sin. Oh, how I need your wisdom for contending with temptation in my life. I truly believe you will help me consistently master sin and its temptations. Thank you for your relentless work to produce genuine righteous in my life. I love you, worship you, and praise you. Amen!

  • The Pursuit of Righteousness - Achieving Victory through Faith - Friday, August 11th

    If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:5-8

    Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17

    Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire …. Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased …. Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 12:28-29, 13:15-16, 20-21

    For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4

    Toay's thoughts from today's verses:

    At every turn the countless solutions of the world beckon us to turn aside to find in them the help and relief we desire for the pressure and pain of the troubles in our lives. But the deepest need of our heart is God Himself and until it rests in Him there will be no true peace, comfort or joy. It is in the sanctuary of communion with God that He reveals Himself and the wisdom we need for navigating the trouble laden course of life. When we see the beauty of what God has in mind, it all makes perfect sense, but how easily our perspective shifts and our awareness becomes dulled. Vacillation is the bane of Christian maturity and staying the course God desires for us. Oh, that our faith would be sure and steady.

    God is quite clever! The world and its onslaught of troubles are the very means God uses to bring about our victory over the world and the resultant worldliness that might otherwise keep us from the beautiful righteous life He so deeply desires for each of us. Absolutely amazing! 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do need wisdom for living a righteous life and I ask for it with a believing heart. I want to be done with vacillating. I choose you and your will over the world. I know you are equipping me for the good things of your will and that you are working in me that which is pleasing in your sight. I enter now into the sanctuary of communion with you because this is what pleases you most, is exactly what I need, and is the key to everything. I trust you and thank for the victory. Amen!

  • The Pursuit of Righteousness - Entering into Full Surrender - Thursday, August 10th

    So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:4

    Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart …. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? …. but 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 12:2-3, 7, 10B-11

    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. Hebrews 6:9-11

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The issue that we are actually facing in all this is the issue of surrender. Notice above those two small words “let it” and recognize in them the choice that needs to be made in regard to what we give ourselves. Will we be surrendered to the world and its momentary and surface comforts and pleasures or will we be surrendered to God and His goal of true righteous produced by troubles effecting profound and lasting joy in the depths of our being.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, even though I have much to learn about letting my endurance grow, I can see that choosing to do so, really is a matter of surrendering to you. I surrender to you now and choose to let my endurance grow. I promise to endure at seeking your righteousness instead of the comforts of this world. Grant me an abundance of grace and strength for the journey. Amen!

  • The Pursuit of Righteousness - Putting Perseverance First - Wednesday, August 9th

    Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:3

    So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7

    For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Hebrews 10:36-39

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    A shift in life’s focus from comfort and pleasure to righteousness is vital, but maintaining that focus so that we finish strong is equally important. We are challenged with this at every turn and so our need for perseverance and endurance is huge. We think that we need to persevere at handling troubles, but in Romans Paul says that troubles bring about perseverance. What we really need is to persevere at being focused on the goal of a righteous life. When by faith we embrace troubles as the means by which God produces righteousness in us, we are able to maintain the pursuit of righteousness as our top priority in life. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know that this shift in focus has everything to do with being a Christian and I have changed a lot. But sticking with it and not slipping back to old ways is hard. Strengthen my faith and help me persevere in the pursuit of righteousness. Thanks for keeping the tough stuff in my life and using it to help me become the godly person you desire me to be. Amen!

  • The Pursuit of Righteousness - Finding Joy through Troubles - Tuesday, August 8th

    Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2

    In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials …. and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. 1 Peter 1:6&8

    Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The world in which we live is full of troubles and those troubles regularly come our way. Often the way we cope with those troubles reveals all. It is not natural to welcome troubles and to somehow have our troubles lead us to joy. The world offers pleasures and comforts and most of us go about life conditioned to pursuing these ends. When we come to faith in Christ this conditioning becomes one of our greatest challenges. God is not committed to our having a comfortable life, however, but rather to our having a righteous life. When we finally join God in His goal of us having a righteous life and we make it our primary pursuit, we will discover through a Divine awakening the joy that God bestows when righteousness is produced in us through the pressure and pain of troubles.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I join you in having righteousness be the primary goal of my life. Please awaken joy in me as you help me to embrace the work you are doing in me through the pressure and pain of my troubles. May I see you, know you, and experience you right in the middle of it all. I love you and worship you, Lord. Amen!

  • The Pursuit of Righteousness - Choosing to Finish Strong - Monday, August 7th

    This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings! James 1:1

    And Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles!’ …. For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. John 7:3&5

    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 3:12-15

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Imagine a horse race where a horse stumbles out of the gate and quickly falls behind. With great effort some of the lost ground is recovered but then the horse gets mired in the field with little hope of breaking through to challenge the leaders. Miraculously, however, an opening comes and the horse breaks free with the seemingly impossible task of catching the leaders. When one of the leaders begins pulling away from the others our horse that had trouble getting started and almost didn’t emerge from the pack starts gobbling up turf at an utterly ridiculous speed. Soon the lead horse is the only one left to catch and of course in dramatic fashion with a display of extraordinary strength our miracle horse catches the lead horse at the finish line and wins by a nose. 

    We are told that James, the brother of Jesus, got off to a slow start with his personal faith. It seems that along with his other brothers, James didn’t believe in Jesus at first. Somehow, like the horse in our scenario, there is a wonderful reversal for James. Tucked away near the end of the New Testament is a letter written by James that reveals that he finished well. Not only did He become a faith-filled follower of Jesus Christ, but he became the author of a powerful epistle that calls believers to emerge from the pack of those who are bogged down in the mire of worldliness for a stretch run where, with genuine spiritual maturity, victory is secured in the race of true and genuine Christian living. It is with this kind of focus that we come to this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help my life to become less aligned with the world and more aligned with your righteousness. I do want to be one who holds fast firm until the end in living fully for you. I choose to become a thoroughly genuine faith-filled follower of Jesus Christ like James. Amen!

  • Heaven and Earth Intersect - God's Kingdom Manifested

    Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-10, 13B

    And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth …. For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace …. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him. John 1:14, 16, 17B-18

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God’s kingdom is all about heaven and earth intersecting and the pivotal moment for it came when “the Word (Jesus Christ) became flesh.” By Christ becoming flesh the Father is revealed to us. By Christ becoming flesh we are reconciled to God through the redemptive work of the cross and we become participating members of his kingdom. Now it is Christ in us instead of Christ in the flesh. The most vital intersecting of heaven and earth takes place in our own hearts lives as we allow the kingdom of God to be manifested and spread through us. It is up to us as to whether God’s kingdom will advance and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The difficulty for each of us as believers is the challenge of making the things of heaven our priority instead of the things of earth.

    When we see, embrace, and are transformed by the things that are eternal and unseen, we will become rightly connected to that which is temporal and we will be used of God to impact the temporal with His life changing presence. What a privilege and joy it is to be able to go about living life in the name of Jesus, seeking to bestow compassion and truth on the lives of others that God brings our way. Living for God’s kingdom is a high calling and God is devoted to seeing that calling fulfilled in our lives day by day.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen!

  • Heaven and Earth Intersect - Our Lives as Bridges Only - Thursday, August 3rd

    All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God … Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? … Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.” Acts 3:9, 12, & 16

    Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. Acts 2:22-24

    Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:8-12

    And have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all … Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:10-11, 17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We want others to observe us, but not so that they become delighted with us and dependent on us, but rather so that they can see the Lord and how He has made a difference in our lives. Jesus Christ alone is the one who changes lives. The more we exercise the eyes of faith and embrace the one who is unseen, Jesus Christ, the more He will be seen in us and through us by others who desperately need Him in their lives as well. We must be humble, dependent, and truly just a bridge between others and the Lord.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, touch the lives of others through me as they see the reality of your presence in me. Make my life a bridge that helps others connect with you in a lasting and personal way. Grant that my influence be neither too little nor too much. What a privilege to be a channel of your grace and truth, Lord. Amen!

  • Heaven and Earth Intersect - Meeting Physical and Spiritual Needs - Wednesday, August 2nd

    The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. Acts 3:5-9

    Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:13-14

    Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

    Worship Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the hope you have. But be gentle and respect him. 1 Peter 3:15

    Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:2-6

    I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

     Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Something that happens very easily as we become involved in the lives of others, is that we become so wrapped in the needs they have in the physical realm, that we forget their greatest need; their need to have their lives in the physical realm impacted by the spiritual realm that God wants to help them see and embrace through our lives. By our caring for others on a human level, they become open to our caring for them on a spiritual level as well. We must genuinely care for others as whole people with a compassion that seeks to help them in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm. We must not let their lesser needs overshadow their spiritual needs. This means that we seek to be prepared to speak truth into the lives of others as God leads and empowers us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to genuinely care for people on all the levels of need they have. May I not let people’s lesser physical needs overshadow their greater spiritual needs. But on the other hand may I never use meeting physical needs merely as a ploy to evangelize people. I ask that I might have a complete and genuine compassion that helps me engage in goods deeds for others and to share the Good News with others. Amen!

  • Heaven and Earth Intersect - The Impact of Transformed Living - Tuesday, August 1st

    Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ The lame man looked at them eagerly … Acts 3:1-5A

    Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38

    Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands? And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” Luke 10:30-37

    So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    This joining of the physical realm and the spiritual realm is meant to be seen very clearly in the life of the believer. The presence of God transforms the way we live and it is this transformed living that makes the presence of God real to those around us. When our lives are wrapped up in God and spiritual things, we soon learn to get our focus off of ourselves and on to the needs of others. The love and compassion we experience from God overflows from us into the lives of those around us. People are most impacted by our love and compassion when the only explanation for it is God and as a result they become more open to Him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am tired of being overly focused on me. I choose to make you and others my main focus. May your presence become so full in me that I am thoroughly transformed. May you become real to the people around me through the transformed living they see. I want to so care about others that it impacts them deeply and they readily know that you are the only explanation for it. Amen!

  • Heaven and Earth Intersect - Letting the Spiritual Realm Dominate - Monday, July 31st

    But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:23-24

    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We live in a physical world and we interact with it in physical ways including seeing it constantly with our physical eyes. There is a corresponding spiritual realm which requires a different kind of interaction and a different kind of seeing. In 2 Corinthians 4, the Apostle Paul speaks of our need to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” and then in chapter 5, he speaks of our need to “walk by faith, not by sight.” While the physical realm naturally predominates our lives, the Apostle Paul is keenly aware that it is the spiritual realm that must predominate in order for the fullness of our existence to become a reality. 

    The spiritual focus God desires is what the Scriptures above are all about. In keeping with God’s desires the Apostle Paul says to the Ephesian believers, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” God is Spirit, but Jesus Christ took on human form that God might be revealed to us. And now as believers in Christ, He dwells in and through us so that God might be seen by those around us so that they too can believe. How we can make sure that people see what they need to see from us, is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened. I don’t want to miss the fullness of what I am here for because I remain overly involved with and absorbed in the things of earth. Help me to be a true worshiper who worships you in spirit and truth. May the intersection of heaven and earth in my life take place in ways that allow others to see you clearly and the amazing spiritual transformation you are producing in my life here and now. Amen!

  • Bending Low before God and People - Freedom through Spiritual Healing - Friday, July 28th

    I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth …. On the day I called, You answered me. You made me bold with strength in my soul …. 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. Psalm 138:1-2A, 3, 5B-7A

    I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. Psalm 30:1-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We began the week looking at the Divine solution to Naaman’s need for physical healing and his initial response to that solution. Naaman struggled with yielding to the Divine solution offered to him. In contrast to Naaman is David whose overall orientation (heart, mind, and body) to God was “yielding.” This made David a ready beneficiary of God’s solutions to all manner of life issues. Most of us are more like Naaman than David. We, too, struggle to yield to anything that comes to us from outside ourselves and does not originate with us. It is a struggle that all humanity shares and it comes into play both in our relationship with God and with the people in our lives.

    It could be that healing really is the focus of our considerations this week, but not like the physical disease from which Naaman was finally healed. Spiritual diseases (sin) of the heart, mind, and spirit cripple us in our ability to relate properly to God and the people in our lives. May we call on God for a touch upon our hearts, minds, and spirits and may we so yield to him that we are freed to be more yielding, gracious, and loving in all our dealings with the people God has placed in our lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I give thanks to your holy name. I call on you for spiritual healing. Touch my heart, mind, and spirit so that my overall orientation is “yielding “ to you. Make me a ready beneficiary to the solutions you have for all the issues of life I face. May my yielding to you free me to become more yielding, gracious, and loving in all my dealings with the people you have placed in my life. Amen!

  • Bending Low before God and People - Choosing What Matters Most - Thursday, July 27th

    So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s, and he was healed! 2 Kings 5:14

    Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom …. The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him” …. Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you’ …. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children …. Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. Genesis 32:3, 6, 9, 11; 33:1-4

    Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:1-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Up to this point Naaman’s desire to prevail overshadows his desire to be healed. The drive to win obscures the reality of the situation and causes him to set aside the provision for healing that has been offered to him. For the moment, things that shouldn’t matter, matter too much. The dynamic here would be similar to a teenage son wanting to borrow his father’s car for the prom but when an older family car is the only one he is allowed to borrow, he stomps off while spouting out that he just won’t go then. Going to the prom should matter much more to the son than how he gets there. Essentially, both the teenage son and Naaman have thrown tantrums in reaction to what has been offered them. It could be that resorting to a tantrum is a last ditch effort to prevail or win. In the case of Naaman, fortunately, he comes to his senses after the appeal of his officers. He makes the shift to viewing his expectations and plans for how to be healed as not mattering as much as actually being healed. Naaman then yields to the prophet and the instructions that were originally given and the result is Divine healing.

    Yielding did not come easily to Naaman. Perhaps if he had had the opportunity to read the example of Jacob yielding to his brother Esau in the Genesis passage above, it would have helped him with his struggle with yielding. It is certainly a great example for us. When it is coupled with the admonition of the Ephesian passage above, where the apostle Paul makes a thorough appeal that believers everywhere be ones who are truly characterized by a spirit of humility and grace, we have ample encouragement for devoting ourselves to the pursuit of being ones who become more yielding in our relationships with other people.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, why do I allow things that shouldn’t matter, matter too much and things that should matter, matter too little? Help me to follow Jacob’s example of bowing low to his brother in my relationships with others. Help me to have a spirit of humility and grace so that I really become a more yielding person. Lord, I bow to you in worship and surrender. Amen!

  • Bending Low before God and People - Our Relentless Need to Control - Wednesday, July 26th

    But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” 2 Kings 5:13

    How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Luke 6:42

    Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor. Proverbs 18:12

    For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked …. Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them …. They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth …. They say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Psalm 73:3, 6, 9, 11-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Why did Naaman’s officers have to reason with him? It wasn’t just pride, it was also a need for power; a need to be in charge and to call the shots. It is very likely that Naaman was used to commanding others routinely and was accustomed to having his way on many levels. He has reached an impasse with his disease – it is beyond him – it will not yield to him – he has no power over it – he must call on another for a cure. You can almost hear the cry of his heart, “Although I am to be cured by another can I not maintain some control and have it be that I am cured in a manner that I see fit?” Perhaps this is why God had the prophet Elisha prescribe the method he did – in order to accomplish the further reshaping Naaman needed in order to become a more yielding person.

    The wicked set themselves against God and His ways and many stay that way permanently. They remain unyielding and impervious to the reshaping that God desires for all people. They ignore the ultimate outcome that comes with being ones who remain unyielding. We are ones who have come to God through Christ for salvation and say we want Him to do a work of reshaping us into ones who routinely yield to Him. But are we learning to let go of our need for power; to be in charge and call the shots. If these things are still strongly in the mix of how we relate to God, it essential that we ask Him to reshape us. It will be because we are yielding to His control that we will be able to have relationships with others that are characterized by our ability to yield as well.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thanks for your faithful work of reshaping my heart and life. Sorry for being such a tough nut to crack in the area of control. I renew my commitment to be a more yielding person in my relationship with you are in my relationships with others. Show me specific ways today that I can forsake control in favor of putting you and others first. Amen!

  • Bending Low before God and People - God's Orientation to the Humble - Tuesday, July 25th

    But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. 2 Kings 5:11-12

    We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. Proverbs 16:1

    Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:13-17

    And the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:28-31

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    That God uses physical infirmity to shape our lives is obvious to most people. Naaman’s condition of leprosy had already brought him to the spot where he recognized that if there was a solution for his condition it had to come from outside of himself. When Naaman heard there was a prophet in Samaria who could heal, he was off and running to catch up with the prophet. But as we see above, Naaman wanted the outcome of healing and not the method of healing the prophet prescribed. While his disease had reshaped him enough to be willing to yield to an outside source for the outcome of healing he wanted, he was still in need of some additional reshaping in order for him to be willing to yield to the specific method prescribed by the prophet for his healing. Naaman had his own expectations and he was planning on those expectations coming about – both the healing and the method of healing. 

    It is not so much the plans and expectations of Naaman that cause the trouble, it is Naaman’s attachment to them. This is revealed in his anger and rage as well as his stalking away from the provision made available to him. Naaman thinks the method of healing prescribed is beneath him; it is not fitting for “who he is” in life. To him his own expectations and plans for his healing are the only right ones; the only “fitting” ones for Him. If this is how Naaman handled the collision of Divine plans with his own personal plans, it is more than likely that his pride and need to be right played a major role in his relationships with other people as well.

    There is a way that seems right to us and our pride keeps us holding on tightly to our own plans. Elsewhere in Scripture there is reference to “the boastful pride of life.” This is what the James passage is trying to steer us away from. In the 1 Corinthians passage Paul reaffirms the reality that God orients Himself toward those who are humble and not toward those who boast in themselves. When boasting, pride, and needing to be right are present in our relationships with others, the time is right to ask God to create in us a humility that allows us to yield to Him and to others.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do ask you to create in me a humility that allows me to yield to you and to others. Boasting, pride, and the need to be right have certainly been a part of my personal struggle. Forgive me for my selfish attachments to my own self-serving expectations. I bow before you, Lord, releasing all my desires and plans to you. Your will be done. Amen!

  • Bending Low before God and People - Our Struggle to Yield - Monday, July 24th

    The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy. At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy” …. So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” 2 Kings 5:1-3, 9-10

    Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion. Psalm 103:1-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The main Scripture passage for this week’s Devotionals looks at the Divine solution to Naaman’s need for physical healing and his response to that solution. The Psalm above reveals to us the orientation (heart, mind, and body) that David had before God that made him a ready beneficiary of God’s solutions to all manner of life issues. David and Naaman stand in contrast to each other which becomes evident later when our story reveals Naaman’s initial struggle to yield himself to the Divine solution offered above. It is this initial struggle that forms the basis for this week’s considerations. It is the struggle to yield to anything that comes to us from outside ourselves and does not originate with us. It is a struggle that all humanity shares with Naaman and it comes into play both in our relationship with God and with the people in our lives.

    The need for yielding in our relationships with other people is illustrated for us in the following story: “Two mountain goats met each other on a narrow ledge just wide enough for only one of the animals to pass safely. On one side was a cliff with a long drop to the bottom. On the other side was a steep wall. There was no way for them to squeeze past each other. If they acted like many people do, each one would have stood there refusing to move until the other gave way. Eventually they would have butted heads until they both plunged over the edge. But that’s not what happened. These two goats had more sense than that. One of them lay down on the trail and let the other literally walk over him. And then both were able to continue safely.”

    The focus of this week’s Devotionals is that of providing insight and help for our becoming ones who seek to “yield” to God rather than “rule” our own lives and seek to “yield” rather than “rule” in our relationships with the people in our lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am so prone to ruling my own life. I struggle with yielding to you and it carries over into my relationships with others. I need your insight and help, Lord, so I can genuinely change. I want to be more like David in his dependence than like Naaman in his self-sufficiency. Amen!

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