Daily Devotional

  • The Holy Spirit of God – Seals Us in Christ to Live Fully Forever - Saturday, July 21st

    In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:13-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The purpose of God’s redemptive plan is to produce people who actually live fully for him. It is the Holy Spirit that makes all the difference. Christ came to redeem our lives for God. When we trust Christ as our Savior we are cleansed, we become temples of the Holy Spirit. As such we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit who works from the inside out powerfully helping us to become all that God desires for us to be and to fulfill through us all that He desires for us to do. This is what genuine faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is really all about and we have been sealed in Christ through the Holy Spirit of promise.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am amazed at the commitment you have to succeed at fulfilling the purpose for which you created mankind. I am committed to you Lord and truly want to be your devoted possession who fully exists for the praise of your glory. I praise you, I worship you, and I love you, Lord. Amen!

  • The Holy Spirit of God – Spreading the Plan of Redemption in Christ - Friday, July 20th

    Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now, when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:36-39

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The spread of God’s redemptive plan to the world began with Israel. Their response to the message they heard from Peter was, “What shall we do?” What a great question. The key to life is asking this question seriously and being willing to give oneself fully to the answer. The answer is: become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Today’s Scripture shows us that becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ involves acknowledging one’s sinfulness and need for a savior (repentance), recognizing Christ as the Savior of the world and placing faith in him for the forgiveness of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and being baptized.

    The prospect for becoming a disciple of Christ in the fullness of how our passage describes it, remains open to all who are far off right on down through the ages. The redemptive plan of God spread to us and will spread out from us to those who are still far off and in need of eternal salvation in Christ.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you are our awesome God and your plan of redemption is awesome. Thank you for calling me, who was far off, to yourself. I am truly burdened for those who are still far off and I look forward to how you will use me to help make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Amen!

  • The Holy Spirit of God – Manifests Christ through Us to the World - Thursday, July 19th

    When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance …. Therefore, having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. Acts 2:1-4, 33

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture tells us exactly what happened when the promised Holy Spirit came. It was a very dramatic moment and rightly so. It was the inaugural moment of God’s redemptive plan being unleashed for all the world to encounter and respond to. For those who gathered in the house it was both an individual and group experience. The apostles and many other disciples of Christ went through a transition unique to them that bridged the gap from being believers in Christ when he ascended back to heaven to being recipients of the Holy Spirit who was sent to them by Christ from heaven. In verse 33 above, the apostle Peter clearly explains what it was that had happened in verses 1-4.

    So, the Holy Spirit was bestowed on them (His indwelling), the Holy Spirit filled them (His full control of them), and the Holy Spirit was manifested through them (His empowering them to speak other languages). Elsewhere in Acts 2 the various languages that were spoken are listed and we are told that those who heard exclaimed, “we hear them in our own languages speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” There were tremendous numbers of Jewish people gathered in Jerusalem to observe Pentecost and the Holy Spirit worked in this amazing and powerful way to inaugurate the spread of God’s redemptive plan to the world.

    For us today there isn’t a transition. At the very same moment we become disciples of Jesus Christ by trusting in him for the forgiveness of sins, we are given the Holy Spirit of promise. This is the way the promise of the Holy Spirit and the role of being witnesses of Jesus Christ carries forward to all true disciples of Jesus Christ. We share in the bestowal, filling, and manifestation of the Holy Spirit. He is ready and waiting to work in amazing and powerful ways in and through our lives as true believes in today’s needy and hungry world.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it is exciting to realize that your redemptive plan has not changed and that you chose me to be a part of it. Like the disciples of old, I am available and ready more than ever before for the Holy Spirit’s work of transforming my life and empowering me to impact my world in bold and significant ways. Amen!

  • The Holy Spirit of God – Makes Us Alive to Christ’s Life Within - Wednesday, July 18th

    To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” …. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:3-5, 8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture is in many ways uniquely about the Apostles, but at the same time there are some important applications for us today. It was to the apostles that he presented himself alive and offered convincing proofs. It was to the apostles that he appeared over a period of forty days and spoke of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Even the specifics given for how the promise of the Holy Spirit would first come about were unique to the apostles. And finally, they would be Jesus Christ’s witnesses in ways that were unique to them.

    The apostles were with Christ during the three years he ministered publicly here on earth, they were around for his crucifixion, and they were repeatedly involved with him after the resurrection and on up to his ascension back to heaven. In other words, they were first-hand witnesses of his life, his death, his resurrection, and his initial sending of the Holy Spirit. While so much of this was unique to the apostles, the promise of the Holy Spirit and the role of being witnesses of Jesus Christ carries forward to all true disciples of Jesus Christ.

    For us today, at the very same moment we become disciples of Jesus by trusting in him for the forgiveness of sins, we are given the Holy Spirit of promise. As a result, we become witnesses of the impact of the death and resurrection of Christ in our lives, and our relationship with him through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We truly are ones who have been cleansed and forgiven. We truly are ones who are being transformed by Christ through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We truly are witnesses of Jesus Christ, our forever Savior and Lord.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am not a first-hand witness of you in the ways the apostles encountered you, but I am a first-hand witness of you in the ways I have encountered you. You came to me and offered me the gift of eternal salvation and I entrusted myself to you and your amazing provision of grace. Through the Holy Spirit of promise, you are wonderfully alive and at work in my life. I am a witness of you and all that means for me. I go forward as such in the confidence and power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me. Amen!

  • The Holy Spirit of God – Empowering Us from the Inside Out - Tuesday, July 17th

    I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever …. These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you …. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. John 14:16, 25-26, 16:7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In today’s verses Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as “the Helper.” What a fitting way to speak of him in regard to his role in our lives. After the resurrection Jesus did go away when he ascended back into heaven. Jesus did send the Holy Spirit to those who were already his disciples on earth at that time. For us today, at the very same moment we become disciples of Jesus by trusting in him for the forgiveness of sins, we are given the Holy Spirit of promise.

    Our passage tells us that he is with us forever. Yes, forever, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit who works from the inside out teaching us all the intricacies of the godly life God’s Word calls us to, and powerfully helping us to become all that God desires for us to be and to fulfill all that He desires for us to do. The same Holy Spirit that transformed the lives of those early disciples and empowered them to impact their world in amazing ways, is at work transforming our lives and empowering us to impact our world in similarly amazing ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, awaken me to Holy Spirit that lives in my heart forever. Holy Spirit, here I am, ready and unafraid to go forward in my life fully in touch with you and fully in step with you. Transform my life and impact my world like never before. Amen!

  • The Holy Spirit of God – The Key to Being at God’s Disposal - Monday, July 16th

    Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel 36:26-27

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God is the Creator of everything including us. As created beings God has absolute claim on us. This means that our lives should be fully at God’s disposal for all that he has in mind for us. The problem is this: no one apart from Divine intervention puts themselves at God’s disposal for living life the way he has in mind. As a matter of fact, we all go astray, go our own way, and live for ourselves. We have sinful, rebellious hearts that are neither willing or able to live fully for God.

    Today’s verses from the Old Testament show us the plan God had in mind for producing people who would and could live fully for him. It is the Holy Spirit that makes all the difference. Christ came to redeem our lives for God. When we trust Christ as our Savior we are cleansed, we become temples of the Holy Spirit, and the words of Ezekiel are fulfilled in us. Truly, God has intervened, his claim on us is being realized, we are learning to live fully for God, and he is being honored and glorified.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your plan, thank you sending Christ to put it in place, and thank you for the Holy Spirit who is making it actual in my life. Align me fully with yourself and all that you desire for my life. Amen!

  • Responding To Distress – Yielded and in Tune with God’s Wonderful Plan for Life - Saturday, July 14th

    Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

    O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them. Isaiah 25:1

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    If you are one who is wrapped up in yourself when a time of distress comes, you will live like a victim and you will focus on either getting out from under the distress or complaining about being under it. If you are one who is wrapped up in God when a time of distress comes, you will feel like a participant in what God is doing and you will focus on staying close to God and discovering how he is at work accomplishing good things for you and the advancement of his kingdom through the time of distress.

    If at the end of a given day it was made known to us all the ways God has been at work on our behalf and the advancement of his kingdom through us, we would be blown away with amazement. Astoundingly, God is ready to do even more than he is already doing - "infinitely more than we might ask or think." The more we become aligned with what God wants to do (His will) and the less oriented we become to what WE want Him to do, the more he is able to do - both in us and through us. The key to this shift in focus is all about truly wanting a life that is lived fully for the glory of God.

    However, we must remember that the amazing things he wants to do in and through us as ones who are seeking to live fully for him are often done in the midst of times of distress. Being ones who are wrapped up in God and not wrapped up in ourselves is the key to “our victory over times of distress.” As such, we will become ones who join Isaiah in saying, “O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things (even in “times of distress)! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    God, you are an amazing God, and your plan for my life is an amazing plan. Help me to grasp more fully than ever the amazing things you want to accomplish in - and through – my life. Please take me, align me with your will, and transform me completely so that I truly desire to live fully for your glory (especially in times of distress). Amen!


  • Responding To Distress – Protected in Heart and Mind by God’s Amazing Peace - Friday, July 13th

    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your persevering spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard (protect) your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God offers us protection from times of distress and yet times of distress come to all of us. This is because the protection he offers is not about keeping us from experiencing times of distress but rather about keeping us from the negative impact of the times of distress we experience. This is what today’s Scripture is all about. Notice that the passage concludes by saying that our hearts and minds will be guarded (protected). Times of distress may mess up our lives but they don’t have to mess up our hearts and minds. God wants to keep the impact of times of distress from impacting our hearts and minds.

    But we have a choice to make: We can get caught up in that which is distressful and let anxiety become full blown in our hearts and minds or we can turn to God for protection. We turn to God for protection by bringing ourselves and our need for help with anxiety to God in earnest prayer. God delights to replace our anxiety with his supernatural peace. When we are filled with his supernatural peace our hearts and minds are guarded (protected) in Christ Jesus. We may still be in the middle of the distressful time but the distressful time will not be in the middle of us. We may have to come to him over and over in this way, but remember he never tires of guarding our hearts and minds through his supernatural peace.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know you are near and yet so often the distressful things I experience seem nearer. I want to be able to persevere through times of distress by becoming one who knows your presence in the middle of them and experiences the protection of your supernatural peace as it sweeps through my heart and mind over and over again. I know that as this becomes the pattern of my life, I will become one who rejoices over and over again as well. Amen!

  • Responding To Distress – Captured by the Transforming Grace of God - Thursday, July 12th

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Several years ago there was a movie out based on the story of Louis Zamperini. In the actual story of his life, there is one part of the account of his conversion and transformation that goes very well with our emphasis this week and today’s Scripture. We are told that, essentially, he was so overwhelmed by the grace and love of God that his hate, hurts, and entrenched habits could not stay because they could not co-exist with the grace and love that flooded his heart and life. The insight this brings must not escape us. Are we so overwhelmed by the grace and love of God that there is not room for these kind of things in our hearts and lives? If our hate, hurts, and entrenched habits hang on year after year, it is because there is room for them in our hearts and life because we have not been filled - and overwhelmed - with the grace and love of God.

    This kind of change is essential for countering and overcoming the distressing things in our lives. When we are changed by the grace of God, freed from sin, self-determination, and self-reliance, and put on the straight paths of living fully for God, God enables us to face victoriously the distresses that come our way.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, we confess that we have gone our own way and done our thing. Our independence, self-reliance, and the presence of bad things in our lives, has kept us so spiritually incomplete. And so we also confess that our experience with your presence and love is incomplete because we choose self, our own paths, and bad things over you and your love. We cry out to you Lord to wash over our being with your presence and love to such an extent that it becomes impossible for the bad things in our lives to stay, for us to desire our own paths, and for self to be in charge. We trust you for this miracle of love and grace in our lives, Lord God. Amen!

  • Responding To Distress – Prepared Ahead by God’s Deep Love - Wednesday, July 11th

    I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 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 3:14-19

    If you are slack, in the day of distress your strength is limited. Proverbs 24:10

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Experiencing God's presence is synonymous with experiencing his love. We have so much to learn about letting God love us in our actual daily experience of living life. Most of us realize that we have hardly scratched the surface of experiencing God's love as fully as we might. The image of roots and growth are so compelling. Growing spiritual roots that go down deep into God's love, so that we experience the full and joyful life that grows up within us as a result is something we must give ourselves to when we are not in the middle of distressing circumstances. This must be our daily practice. If we are slack about pursuing this kind of relationship with God, then when the day of distress arrives, we will not be prepared.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know this is the desire of your heart and your eternal plan for me. Grant that I experience your love in full measure so that my spiritual roots grow deep, my life wonderfully reflects the fullness of the growth you desire for me, and I am fully prepared for the distressful circumstances that come my way. Amen.

  • Responding To Distress – Developing a Heart of Full Confidence in God - Tuesday, July 10th

    My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! Wake up, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth. Psalm 108:1-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    In today’s Scripture the Psalmist says to God, “May your glory shine over all the earth.” Picture the warm and comforting rays of the sun shining over the earth. The Psalmist is asking God to shine his glory over all the earth in the same healing way the sun does. The Psalmist knows all about trials and troubles that produce distressing circumstances in his life. When distressing circumstances come into the Psalmist life he puts his confidence in God. He knows there is a world of people out there that are in the middle of distressing circumstances. He believes that if God will shine his glory on this troubled world many will join him in putting their confidence God and will be able to speak to him like he does: “My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! Wake up, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.” “Our confidence in times of distress” must be placed squarely on God. This was the key for the Psalmist, it is the key for us, and it is the key for the whole world

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for shining your glory on my life. I praise you for your unlimited love that never fails and for your unlimited faithfulness. Continue to help me to rely confidently on you in times of distress. You deserve unlimited exaltation, Lord and I want to be a part of doing that in a full and complete way. Amen!

  • Responding To Distress – Choosing to Turn to the Safety of God’s Presence - Monday, July 9th

    But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love. Psalm 59:16-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In today’s Scripture we have these words from the Psalmist: “When I am in distress.” If it were you saying, “When I am in distress,” what words would come next for you? The Psalmist begins the passage with the words, “But as for me.” It is as if he saying that everyone has a choice to make when they are in distress, and I have made my choice of what I will do “when I am in distress.” The Psalmist chooses to turn to God and speak to him words of faith and dependence. He says, “I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety …. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.” Truly “our response to times of distress” must be modeled after the response of the Psalmist.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, fill me with the joy of your presence. Put a song in my heart that helps me begin each day with an awareness of your power, unfailing love and strength that is more real to me than any and all distressing circumstances. Lord, truly you are my refuge and place of safety and for that I give you abundant praise. Amen!

  • Handling Suffering – The Assurance of Comfort - Saturday, July 7th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture is all about comfort. To help us with today’s considerations there are two questions we need to ask ourselves: What is it that most frequently creates in us a need for comfort? What is it that we most frequently turn to as a source of comfort. Common answers to the first question: difficult relationships, health issues, financial woes, moral challenges, employment stress, grief over the death of a loved one, etc. Common answers to second question: things that numb our pain, like alcohol, medications, illegal drugs, etc.; things that offset our pain, like comfort foods, sexual activity, recreation and sports, things of beauty (nature, art, music), reading, electronics (TV, games, social media), etc.

    There are two things from today’s passage that can make a huge difference in our lives in regard to comfort management. First, God needs to be our primary source of comfort. Second, the sufferings of Christ need to be central in our lives. Remember, the Christian life is all about our existing for God and what he wants and not him existing for us and what we want. So much of our pain and suffering comes from not getting this settled in our lives. When we get this settled, we are on the path of learning to live fully for God. When we are seeking to live fully for God, we will be actively involved in the cause of Christ and therefore regularly engaged with others in open and honest ways regarding our faith in Christ.

    Involvement in the cause of Christ brings the sufferings of Christ. Our passage says, “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” Yes, our comfort is abundant when we suffer for the cause of Christ. This is the training ground in which we learn to live in ways that allow God to be the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.” God cares about all our suffering. It is those who become practiced at being comforted by him when they share in the sufferings of Christ (because they are involved in the cause of Christ – sharing Christ with others) who are best able to turn from substitute forms of comfort and receive God’s comfort in all the other areas of suffering that are theirs.

    Thankfully, God is merciful and he seeks to comfort us in what we go through in life even when we are living more for ourselves than him and things are not quite as orderly as we have talked about in today’s devotional. God’s Word says, “Cast all your care on Him for He cares for you” and “Cast your burdens on the Lord and he will sustain you.” Come to him right where you are, with all that you are, to receive all that he is, for all that you truly need in your life today.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, here I am. I come to you. There is a lot of pain and suffering in my life and I need relief. I don’t know how to sort it all out, but I know you can. I really want to live fully for you and the cause of Christ. Please deliver me from all substitute sources of comfort and grant me your abundant comfort today. Amen!

  • Handling Suffering – The Call of Endurance - Friday, July 6th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:32-36

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture is from the book of Hebrews. The author of the book of Hebrews is writing to a group of Christians who seem to have experienced much of what Jesus warned his followers they would experience in following him. The entire book of Hebrews seeks to renew and encourage Christians who are suffering for their faith so that they can keep going and keep enduring whatever comes their way because they are fully following the Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s passage presents us with a weary group of Christians who are teetering on the edge of giving up and withdrawing from the fray. The author of Hebrews calls them back to where they had been earlier on with a firm challenge to “endurance in suffering.”

    The story goes that a Christian leader from the United States was speaking to a Christian leader from a third world country and he asked him, “How are you handling the “adversity” in your country?” The reply was, “We are handling the “adversity” in our country a lot better than you are handling the “prosperity” in your country.” I suppose we could say that we need “endurance in prosperity.” Colossians 3:1-2 addresses this need when it says, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

    The test for whether our minds are set on the things above or on the things of earth is simple. Read today’s passage again and ask yourself, “Am I willing to go through what these Christians went through for the cause of Christ?” While there are certain levels of suffering we may experience, they are not usually the kinds of suffering the Hebrew Christians experienced. We do live in a land of prosperity. The path for us is “endurance in suffering” that stems from “endurance in prosperity.” We need an endurance that guards us from the pitfalls of prosperity and prepares us with a willing spirit for anything and everything that might come or way because we follow the Lord Jesus Christ fully.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to set my mind on the things above and not on the things of earth. I realize that you have placed me in a prosperous land and that’s the way it is. Just please guard me from the pitfalls. I want to be a Christian who stays close to you and is empowered by your Spirit so that I endure and follow you fully every day. Amen!

  • Handling Suffering – The Refuge of Love - Thursday, July 5th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours …. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world …. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word …. O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:9, 14, 20, 25-26

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Suffering for one’s faith has been the experience of countless followers of Christ down through the centuries since Christ was here on earth. In other parts of the world today it frequently happens that followers of Christ are subject to ridicule, ostracization, loss of employment, confiscation of property, possessions, and money, beatings, imprisonment, torture, and even death. In our part of the world suffering for one’s faith in these ways is very infrequent or not at all. If we are ones who consistently seek to engage with others in open and honest ways regarding our faith in Christ, we will suffer for it on some level. Being mistreated by others to any degree, for any reason, is something we naturally would rather not experience.

    Today’s Scripture is a special prayer of Christ for his followers, then and down through the ages. Jesus anticipated that we would suffer for our faith and his concern for this is very much a part of what he prays for. Jesus says that we are subject to the world’s hate because we are not of this world, even as he is not of this world. What is it that makes us not of this world? Jesus mentions several things: he has given us his word, we know the Father through Christ and the world does not, and the love with which the Father loved Christ is in us because Christ is in us. God’s love has been placed in our hearts through Christ and this love more than offsets anything the world brings our way that causes us to suffer for our faith as his followers. Love in suffering has been the secret resource of believers throughout history as they suffered for Christ in a world that has truly lost its grip on them because it is no longer their home.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your amazing love. Help me to enter into it more fully than ever before. Help it to be more real to me than anything else in life. Give me the boldness to be open and honest about my faith no matter what. Keep me fully focused on you and your love in the middle of anything and everything I go through in the way of suffering as a true follower of Christ. Amen

  • Handling Suffering – The Sharing of Good News - Wednesday, July 4th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. Luke 12:11-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    In today’s Scripture Jesus speaks to his followers about being brought before the synagogues and rulers and the authorities because of their faith in him. We may never have an experience like this, but we all know what it is like to experience resistance from other people because of our faith in Christ. It is not enjoyable to be resisted because of our faith. Even just thinking about the prospect of other people resisting us because of our faith can be painful. While we don’t need to go to the extreme of inciting people to resist us, we do need be engaged with people in a way where we are open and honest about our faith.

    The tendency is to hide our light under the proverbial bushel basket so that the prospect of being resisted for our faith is at a minimum. This is the other extreme and we are driven to it because of a fear of suffering at the hands of other people. We worry not only about what the resistance and reactions of others would be if they knew we were followers of Christ, we also worry about how or what we would say in response to their resistance and reactions. In our passage Jesus says, “do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say.”

    “Worry” can be a devastating force in our lives that readily keeps us from letting the light of our faith shine bright and strong. Jesus goes on to say, “for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” That is quite a promise. Do you believe it? Remember, we are not talking about inciting people to resist us for our faith, we are just talking about being engaged with others in open and honest ways regarding our faith in Christ. Let’s exchange “worry” for the “promise” and go forward in our relationships with others with the light of our faith shining bright and strong. If we do, the Holy Spirit will give us words of “good news” to share. Truly then, whatever we experience will be worth it and it really will be “good news in suffering.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, forgive me for hiding my light under the bushel basket. I want my light to shine bright. Help me to believe I don’t have to worry. Help me to go forward in the confidence that you are with me and that the Holy Spirit will help me speak at just the right moment words of “good news” that are just what are needed. Thank you, Lord. Amen!

  • Handling Suffering - The Surprise of Joy - Tuesday, July 3rd

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 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; 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

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Today’s Scripture tells us that God uses trials to test our faith. At the same time, it is our faith that enables us to endure trials. The end result is the praise and glory and honor of God at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Our ultimate aim in life must be to exist for God’s praise, glory, honor. When we surrender to God and allow him to freely utilize our lives fully for his Divine purposes, we will be able to live fully for God and the end result will be the praise and glory and honor of God. You see there is great joy in actually seeing honor and glory come to him as a result.

    So, when trials come we can rejoice in them because we know that the end result is God’s praise, honor and glory. However, joy also comes from the presence of Christ who is with us in the midst of our trials. We don’t see Christ with our eyes but we love him and believe in Him. With a heart full of love and with the eyes of faith, we behold our Savior and know and experience his presence in midst of trials and suffering. And then as our passage says we “greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” Truly there is joy in suffering because the suffering of trials brings praise and glory and honor to God and because Christ is present with us in the midst of our trials and suffering.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I understand that you are committed to all of this coming about in my life. Help me to be on board with it. May I be so committed to what you are doing that I let you give me the courage and boldness I need to face victoriously whatever comes my way. May the life I live be the outworking of your power and grace and for your honor and glory. May I find joy in suffering. Amen!

  • Handling Suffering – The Prospect of Victory - Monday, July 2nd

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt …. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt …. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. Genesis 45:4-8; 50:20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Old Testament story of Joseph is an amazing story. It is a lengthy story that runs from Genesis 37 through Genesis 48 (excluding chapter 38) and is well worth reading to gain a fuller grasp of God’s pattern for all of our lives – that of bringing “victory in suffering.” To review, Joseph at the young age of 17 was given a glimpse of God’s call on his life through a couple of dreams. This call on his life plus the love and preference his father had for him over his brothers led to his suffering. Today’s Scripture brings us to a spot in Joseph’s life that is long after his suffering. Because of how long a time had passed and because his brothers did not think he had survived his suffering, Joseph had to reveal himself to his brothers.

    In today’s passage Joseph says, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” The event of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers was the centerpiece of the suffering he experienced (be sure to read the whole story sometime). “The Joseph” his brothers sold into Egypt had become “the Joseph” God made “ruler over all the land of Egypt.” Joseph, who transitioned from a season of suffering to a season of victory, can say freely and fully to his brothers: “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance;” “It was not you who sent me here;” “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result.”

    Joseph, with his story, provides such a wonderful model for us in our lives when we are in a season of suffering. We, too, can take our sights off the people and circumstances we associate with our suffering (for Joseph – his brothers) and put them on God. Try it out by saying within your own mind and heart, “you (people or circumstances) did not put me in this place of suffering, God did.” Now, this exercise is not meant to be a means of shifting blame. It is an awareness of God’s call on our lives that makes the words, “God put me in this place of suffering,” words of faith and not words of blame. The words, “God put me in this place of suffering” are truly words of faith because we know God is working through our suffering to accomplish his purposes and to fulfill the calling he has for our lives.

    When your suffering seems like nothing more than “evil against you,” dwell on this instead, “God means it for good in order to bring about the results he has in mind.” There will always be Divine results that God will bring about through our suffering while we here on earth, but there may be some of them that are not fully realized until glory. Whether we see the fullness of victory in our suffering in this life or not, we can trust God fully and live for him fully even in the middle of seasons of suffering.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I believe that when all is said and done you will accomplish your purposes for me; I believe you love me forever; and I believe you will never forsake me, the work of your hands (Psalm 138:8). Help me to rest in you and these realities today, right where am, in the midst of a season of suffering. May I long for you more than deliverance from suffering and the realization of victory. Be more real to me today than the troubles and sufferings of my life. Amen!

  • A Poem About Freedom - Sunday, July 1st

    War + Lives Add Love = Freedom

    By Dave Tanguay

    Remembered

    A nation born from war, for the “purpose” of establishing freedom
    A nation divided in war, in an “attempt” to fulfill the goal of freedom

    A nation engaged in world wars, in the task of “preserving” freedom
    A nation policing the world, in the “pursuit” of freedom

    So many young lives have been lost, for the “cause” of freedom
    Let us remember those who paid the “ultimate price, ” for freedom

    And dear God, please tell us! - “What! ” - is freedom?


    We need not war

    We need not war, to show us how freedom is made
    What we need is love to show us how freedom is played.
    For freedom is not - but to “do as we please”
    But rather, to “please others, ” because of what we achieve.


    No such thing!

    There is no such passion as hate, - only - a mental state
    Of ignorance
    For what we fail to understand, from our source of knowledge
    We choose the accepted norm of utter indifference
    Therefore, our feelings of love, we profoundly fear to acknowledge


    “Freedom” is to serve

    “To serve requires love; only with love, do we obtain freedom”

  • The Severe Side of Life – The Lord is My Everything - Saturday, June 30th

    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …. Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:1-2A, 10A (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today we wrap up our week. We know all too well how the pressure points of life create ongoing tension and difficulty for us. The toll of “trauma” from troubles in our lives that we are trying to survive is all too real.

    As we said before, there are troubles we are powerless to change and cause us to experience significant pain and sorrow. They come with living in a fallen and broken world and certainly we would rather not have them in our lives. They are things that God has evidently allowed to show up and stay in our lives for the sake of the bigger scheme of things that he, and he alone has in mind.

    We have looked at different Psalms throughout the week which have helped us see how God makes himself available to us in times of trouble. We have seen how he ministers to our deepest needs as we face the challenges of painful experiences produced by troubles that come into our lives. In the middle of constant and long-term troubles, like severe illness, loss of loved ones, divorce, disabilities, past disasters, mental illness, etc., God’s grace, presence, power, and comfort make all the difference and help us live triumphantly day by day.

    Go back and read through the Psalms included in this week’s Devotional set and write down the phrases or sentences that are most meaningful to you. Include all of today’s Scripture in your list. Keep this in your Bible and read it over and over. Let the meaning and reality of these truths take deep root in your heart and soul. The more they take root, the stronger your connection with God will become. The stronger your connection with God becomes, the more he will be able to be everything he wants to be to you so that you navigate victoriously through the “tension” and “trauma” of life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Use your list of portions from this week’s Psalms to help you write out your own prayer response to God. May God bless you richly today! Amen!

  • The Severe Side of Life – The Lord is the Lifter of My Soul - Friday, June 29th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    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 …. O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him …. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:3-4, 8, 17-18 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Those very difficult kind of troubles that don’t go away, make one feel powerless against them, and have the ability to produce a lot of pain and suffering, can really take a toll on a person’s life. We saw this in evidence in David’s life in a Psalm from the other day where he said, “My soul is bowed down.” Very few of us are strangers to the impact of troubles that break us down, wear us out, and from time to time get us to the spot where we say, “My soul is bowed down.” However, there are some people who have experienced pain and suffering to a degree that is beyond that of the average person, so that they are almost always in a state of being “bowed down” in their souls.

    Today’s Psalm speaks of those who are “brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit.” Whether you are one who is “brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit” from time to time or routinely, our Psalm offers some helpful things we can do that will really make a difference in our lives. Notice the words, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” We do this when we join with others in worshiping God. But, let’s take it a step further. Find a worship buddy! On a weekly basis or more often if needed, join with another person (not connected with your own troubles) for a time of just “magnifying” and “exalting” the name of the Lord (no complaining).

    A significant factor in why our soul becomes “bowed down” is “fear.” So, every day, seek the Lord in prayer and make your requests known (in regard to your troubles). Go forward from your prayer time believing God will answer and that he will deliver you from all your fears. Until your next prayer session, dismiss all negative thoughts that would counter your faith that God is working to answer you and deliver you from all your fears. This is what taking refuge in God is all about. The more you practice these disciplines, the more you will experience (taste) God and the more you will find him to be good, and the more you know his goodness the more you will be blessed.

    It is important to remember that prayer is talking to God. It is easy to let a prayer session shift into your talking to yourself in a rehearsal of your troubles that just locks you further into the condition of your soul being bowed down. Our Psalm says, “The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” You must openly and honestly cry out to God in full awareness that he hears. It is a full exchange between you and God and not yourself and yourself. Expect him to do something for your soul. He delights to bring you to the spot where your soul is lifted up. Perhaps, being delivered out of all your troubles is more about this than it is about having the troubles removed from your life.

    “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We began our considerations today by talking about those who are brokenhearted and crushed in Spirit. If this is you and you let God help you practice the disciplines that have been covered today, then the Lord will be “near” to you in ways you have never experienced before and will “save” you from the impact of troubles in ways that will absolutely amaze you. “Taste and see that the Lord is (indeed) good.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    I think this would be a great occasion to write out your own prayer response to God. May God bless you richly today! Amen!

  • The Severe Side of Life – The Lord is My Constant Companion - Thursday, June 28th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust …. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark …. Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation. Psalm 91:1-2, 4, 14-16 (NASB)  

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have another Psalm today to help us with those particularly difficult troubles in our lives that we can’t make go away, that we are powerless against, and from which we experience a lot of pain and suffering. We want to look at today’s Scripture in the light of an analogy. Picture the mom who sends her young children off to school each day. At home they are safe and secure, but out there in the world of school, they are vulnerable and susceptible to the troublesome things they come up against day after day.

    The mom can only hope the experience of the home will offset the experience of the world. She pictures the good atmosphere of the home (including her presence, care, and influence) carrying over into the world of school. In our relationship with God, home is the sanctuary of quiet, alone times spent in his presence. The first words of our Psalm capture it this way: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High.” We need concentrated times of being in God’s presence (dwells in the shelter).

    The atmosphere of the shelter of God’s presence (concentrated time with him) carrying over to life on the go (children at school) is captured with the next words of our Psalm: “will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Now granted when we are on the go in life, God is with us in a way that a mom cannot be with her children when they are at school. However, we need to keep in mind that our ability to be aware of God’s continued presence is limited when we are rightly concentrating on other things.

    It should be noted that we can develop an ability to be aware of him when we are on the go and we can stop and look to him (go home) in concentrated moments with him. But even so, the images of “dwelling in the shelter of the Most High” and “abiding in the shadow of the Almighty,” will help us remember how important it is to have a daily quiet time with God (shelter) that carries over (shadow) into our world of life on the go. Developing this kind of relationship with God will make all the difference in how we are impacted by the particularly troublesome things we have been talking about this week.

    Notice the image of the mother bird in our Psalm. Use this image in your quiet times to help you picture yourself as being sheltered under His wings. In addition, use this image when you are on the go to help you picture yourself as being under the shadow of his wings. Regularly being in the shelter and shadow of God’s presence causes us to grow in our ability to love and know God as our constant companion. Notice from the rest of the Psalm how growing in our ability to love and know God opens the door for him to be at work in our lives in some pretty amazing and powerful ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for these very special words you have spoken to me through the Psalmist today. Help me on a daily basis to succeed at being in the shelter of your presence and under the shadow of your presence. Change me so that I want you more than I want solutions to my problems. Right now, I choose to make loving you and knowing you the centerpiece of my life. Amen!

     


  • The Severe Side of Life – The Lord is My Refuge - Wednesday, June 27th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.  He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth his lovingkindness and His truth …. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
    I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! Psalm 57:1-3, 7 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are looking at various Psalms this week for guidance on how to navigate those areas of life that we are powerless to change and cause us to experience significant pain and suffering. Today’s Scripture is a portion of a Psalm written by David, King of Israel in ancient times. Even though he was a king, David was not a stranger to hurtful, harmful things that that he had no power over. Many of David’s Psalms are like condensed episodes from his life in regard to the impact of troubles, turning to God for help, and the outcome of faith and dependence.

    Make no mistake, troubles of the kind we are talking about this week (things like severe illness, loss of loved ones, divorce, disabilities, past disasters, mental illness, etc.) have a terrific impact on us. David is very candid about his own experience with the impact of troubles on his life. Elsewhere in today’s Psalm, David says, “My soul is bowed down.” This is where he is when the Psalm starts. The impact of the trouble he is experiencing seems to be at its pinnacle when he cries out to God, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me.”

    Not only is David helpless to do anything about the trouble but for the moment he is struggling to escape its impact on his soul. When David cries out to God, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,” he is asking for intervention in regard to both the trouble and the impact of the trouble. When David goes on to say, “my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by,” he is not there yet in this instance of “trouble” management.

    David’s soul is bowed down and he wants to be in the refuge of God’s presence and care like he has been in the past so his soul can be lifted up, but it’s hard to get there. It is like he is reviewing what he knows is needed and is available from God. When David says, “I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me,” he is asking God to be gracious to him by moving him away from experiencing the impact of the trouble and into experiencing the impact of his presence.

    Experiencing God as a refuge and shelter is what David needs and wants. This is where he wants to be and where he wants to stay for the duration of the problem (until destruction passes by). David knows that his focus needs to be on God and not the problem. When this shift takes place through God’s gracious intervention, then he will leave the problem in God’s hands. Notice what David says next: “He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth his lovingkindness and His truth.”

    David’s prayer for God to be gracious to him is answered and he is able to say confidently and boldly, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” God has become more real to him than the trouble. No longer is his soul bowed down but lifted up. David’s experience here can be our experience. We may have to repeat the process over and over again. God does not mind. He loves to have us call on him and count on him to be a refuge and shelter to us from destructive troubles. Whatever we are facing, we really can begin with “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me” and end up with “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, my prayer today is the prayer of David, “be gracious to me, be gracious to me.” Lord, help me to experience you as a refuge and shelter to such a degree that I am able to say, “my heart is steadfast, my heart is steadfast. Become more real to me than my troubles so that I can fully sing your praises day by day. Amen!

  • The Severe Side of Life – The Lord is with Me in Trouble - Tuesday, June 26th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul …. For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty 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, 6-8 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We continue with our consideration of those areas we are powerless to change and cause us to experience significant pain and sorrow. We turn today to another Psalm from which we will see how God makes himself available to us in times of trouble and how he ministers to our deepest needs as we face the challenges of painful experiences produced by these troubles that come into our lives. God’s grace, presence, power, and comfort make all the difference and help us live triumphantly day by day.

    God has made us in such a way that we find deep inside ourselves a desire to have it be that our lives count for something. This is true in regard to what we are able accomplish but also in regard to all we go through in the process. On the one hand we want to know if this experience is “worthwhile” and on the other hand we want to know if this experience is “worth it.” We really do want “what we do” and “what we go through” to count for something.

    Today’s Scripture gives us some insight into this. This is a Psalm of David and one of the most reoccurring words in his Psalms is the word “trouble.” Notice the words, “I walk in the midst of trouble.” This is what lies behind these helpful words of David we are looking at today. You can be sure the David wrestled with whether his experiences were “worthwhile” and “worth it.” David knew all too well about being powerless in the face of troubles that brought pain and suffering. It was David’s connection to God that made all the difference.

    David was a man of faith and he knew that turning to God in full trust and dependence was the key to having it be that everything would truly “count” in the end. David had developed the discipline and habit of turning to God when walking in the midst of trouble. Consider carefully what he says about this: “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” Ongoing troubles that produce pain and suffering in our souls, can only truly be countered by God, who makes us bold with strength in our souls instead.

    What is it that really lies at the center of why we do or we don’t face the troubles in our lives the way David did? Notice what David says next: “For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar.” The humble (lowly) are convinced they are powerless and all is futile unless they count on God fully. The proud (haughty) are not absolutely convinced they are powerless and helpless apart from God’s intervention. If you know you need God, he is able to come close to you with the help you need. If you don’t know for sure you need God, he can’t get very close to you with the help that is needed.

    Notice all the things the Psalm goes on to say God will do if he is able to draw near to you with his help: He will revive you; He will stretch forth his hand against the wrath of your enemies, and his right hand will save you. The Lord will accomplish what concerns you (worthwhile); His lovingkindness will last forever and He will not forsake you, the work of his hands (worth it).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, forgive me for how easily I leave you out of the equation of my life in so many ways. Even with my troubles and the pain and suffering they have produced, I go it alone far too often. Like David, I call on you right now and I believe you will answer me. Revive me, Lord, and build into me the discipline and habit of humbly turning to you in the midst of my troubles. I ask you to do a work in my heart regarding the effects pain and suffering have had on it. Bring me to the spot where I know my life is “worthwhile” and that all I have been through is “worth it.” Amen!

  • The Severe Side of Life – The Lord is My Strength - Monday, June 25th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord. The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death …. You are my God, and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 118:14-18, 28-29 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Life produces pressure points that create ongoing tension and difficulty for us. Sometimes we are powerless to do anything about their presence and they cause us to experience significant pain and sorrow. These are things that come with living in a fallen and broken world. They are things that we would rather not have in our lives. They are things that God has evidently allowed to show up and stay in our lives for the sake of the bigger scheme of things that he, and he alone has in mind.

    Each day this week we will be looking at a different Psalm from which we will see how God makes himself available to us in times of trouble. We will see how he ministers to our deepest needs as we face the challenges of painful experiences produced by troubles that come into our lives. We are talking about things like severe illness, loss of loved ones, divorce, disabilities, past disasters, mental illness, etc. Even though such things are constant and long-term, God’s grace, presence, power, and comfort make all the difference and help us live triumphantly day by day.

    Today’s verses indicate that the Psalmist was in the middle of something that produced severe suffering and pain. We are told that it was a severe discipline in his life that didn’t kill him. The fact that the Psalmist is one who is properly aligned with God through faith is seen in his words, “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” The focus of the Psalmist is that of relying on the Lord. However, his reliance is more about the Lord sustaining him in the middle of his troubles than it is about the Lord delivering him from his troubles.

    The Psalmist speaks of the righteous (others who are properly aligned with God) and their example of relying on the Lord. The homes of the righteous are filled with joy. They readily proclaim that the right hand of the Lord is exalted and does valiantly. This is a great image and helps the Psalmist with his own personal reliance on the Lord. The image of the right hand of the Lord depicts the ongoing ability of the Lord to sustain the Psalmist in the midst of his troubles and ultimately to deliver him from them. It depicts the Lord being at the Psalmist side with total availability of his strong right arm for sustenance and deliverance.

    The reassurance and encouragement the Psalmist experiences, lead him to say, “I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord.” His response to God is, “You are my God, and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I bring to you the relentless troubles that have brought sorrow and pain into my life. I join the Psalmist in saying that you are my strength, my song, and my salvation. I rely upon you with your strong right arm that sustains and delivers. Thank you for being by my side. Help me to trust you and rely upon you more fully. Help me to “live” fully and readily tell of your works. You are my God, and I give thanks, I extol you, for you are good and your lovingkindness is everlasting. Amen!

  • Relying on Christ – Abounding in the Work of the Lord - Saturday, June 23rd

    So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11

    Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We began the week talking about “rest” and we conclude it by talking about “work.” The promised land experience of the people of Israel focused on work before rest, while our promised land experience with Christ focuses on rest before work. You may recall from the book of Joshua this week that Israel had work to do in the promised land. They had completed their conquest of all of Palestine, they are dividing the promised land among the tribes of Israel, and now comes the hard work of driving out the inhabitants that remain, occupying the land, and living according to all the instructions God gave them through Moses. In conjunction with the fulfillment of this work God will bring his promised rest to his people as they live out the fullness of what it means for God to be their God and for them to be His people.

    For us as God’s people today, Christian living requires hard work. If we are fully engaged in Christian living, we will be fully engaged in hard work. However, our understanding of hard work must factor in the reality that God in our day is working on us from the inside out through Christ who lives in us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Our Hebrews passage teaches us that entering God’s rest means resting from our works. The Christian life does not begin with us getting busy doing work on God’s behalf. The Christian life begins with entering into the rest that Christ offers and then we go forward with him working hard in full reliance on his indwelling presence and power. Here is our 1 Corinthians passage again: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Wrap up the week by writing your own prayer response to God and then bringing it to him as a gift of love, surrender, and thanksgiving.

  • Relying on Christ – Experiencing the Refuge of Grace - Friday, June 22nd

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘Designate the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the manslayer who kills any person unintentionally, without premeditation, may flee there, and they shall become your refuge from the avenger of blood. He shall flee to one of these cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and state his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; and they shall take him into the city to them and give him a place, so that he may dwell among them.’” Joshua 20:1-4

    Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life were all a part of the “exacting” mentality of Old Testament times. “Exactness” is the operational approach to life that is fostered by a culture of “law.” The cities of refuge in today’s Joshua passage helped to temper “law” with “grace.” We live in a more lenient culture but other parts of the world are steeped in the culture of “exactness.” Still, we can all relate to the drive toward “exactness” with those who have wronged us. Of course, our desire for “leniency” when the tables are reversed is undeniable. No matter what the balance is between exactness and leniency in how others treat us or how we treat them in this human world, there is a place of refuge available to us because of our “promised land” relationship with Christ.

    The promised land and all it included (even cities of refuge) was an amazing provision for Israel. Similarly, Jesus Christ is an absolutely amazing provision for us. He provides eternal salvation and a new life through his indwelling presence, but he also provides access to the throne of grace. Do we really grasp what this provision is? As Christians we are connected to both earth and heaven at all times. The throne of grace is not just a figure of speech. At any time we can journey to the throne of grace. It is real (an actual place of refuge) for all who draw near to it with confidence through the amazing experience of prayer. This we must do “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” down here on earth in the middle of what we are going through.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thanks for your provision of grace on every level. Teach me how to come to your throne of grace. Thank you Jesus that you understand all that I go through and that you are available to me with provisions of mercy and grace that I barely grasp. I come to you confidently for the help I need. Amen!

  • Relying on Christ – Walking Carefully in the Light - Thursday, June 21st

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Then the sons of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me only one lot and one portion for an inheritance, since I am a numerous people whom the Lord has thus far blessed?” Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up to the forest and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.” The sons of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the valley land have chariots of iron, both those who are in Beth-shean and its towns and those who are in the valley of Jezreel.” Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, saying, “You are a numerous people and have great power; you shall not have one lot only, but the hill country shall be yours. For though it is a forest, you shall clear it, and to its farthest borders it shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, even though they have chariots of iron and though they are strong.” Joshua 17:14-18

    Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; 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 …. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as those who are unwise but as those who are wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:6-10, 15-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Earlier in the week we spoke of the Israelites need to drive out the inhabitants of the land fully and how it parallels our need for anything inhabiting our lives that doesn’t belong to be driven out. Today’s Scripture tells us the “darkness” must be dispelled and only the “light” should have a place in our lives. The inhabitants of the land back then in the promised land were the “sons of disobedience” of that day and the wrath of God had come upon them through the nation of Israel. The admonition “do not be partakers with them” from our passage today is the same admonition God had for Israel back then. However, we don’t get to go around knocking off or driving out “the sons of disobedience” of our day. God is working on us from the inside out through Christ who lives in us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

    Today’s passage warns us to be “careful how we walk,” but it also engenders in us a great confidence that we absolutely can “walk as children of light” and not in darkness like the “sons of disobedience.” Borrowing words from yesterday, “Our promised land experience with Christ will lead to our “escaping the corruption that is in the world by lust” and “becoming partakers of the divine nature.” Our walk with Christ is our walk and we must give ourselves to it fully and completely. We are so like the descendants of Joseph in today’s Joshua passage where it is strongly said to them “clear out the land” and “you will drive out the Canaanites.” The opportunity lies before us to get it right, “not as those who are unwise but as those who are wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I choose to go forward with great care for how I walk in the living out of my life. I go forward in full confidence that I will walk in light and not in darkness because I am “light in the Lord.” Because my confidence and strength are in you Lord, I give up the excuses that the darkness is “too strong” for me and the work of “clearing out” the darkness is too tough for me. I love you, I worship you, and I yield to you, Lord. Amen!

RSS Feed