Daily Devotional

  • "Boy Giving Blood" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, February 23rd

    Boy Giving Blood

    There was a story of a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a disease and needed blood from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying,

    “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liza.”

    As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all his blood.

  • Developing Reverence for God and His Word - Saturday, February 22nd

    Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You. Psalm 119:33-38

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Psalmist is dead serious about a life time of being connected fully to God and his Word. Today’s Scripture is like a manifesto covering everything necessary from A to Z. He wants to be fully taught and promises to observe the Lord’s statutes to the end. He wants full understanding of what he has been taught and promises to observe and keep the law of the Lord with all his heart. Nothing but walking in and delighting in the path of the Lord’s commandments for the Psalmist. He asks for a heart that has no inclination for anything but God and his ways. He asks to be kept from even looking at vanity and to be alive (revived) only to the Lord’s testimonies. And then he concludes his manifesto with these wonderful and amazing words, “Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.” For the Psalmist all that really matters all along the way and in the end is God himself and to this end he wants reverence for God to be produced fully and completely in his life. What higher calling can one have in this life or the next.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be dead serious about being fully connected to you and your Word as well. Grant that the manifesto of the Psalmist becomes mine. All that he asked of you in it, I ask of you, too. Particularly, may you fully “Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.” Amen!

  • Revived in Strength from God and His Word - Friday, February 21st

    Revive me according to Your word …. Make me understand the way of Your precepts, so I will meditate on Your wonders …. Strengthen me according to Your word. Remove the false way from me, and graciously grant me Your law. I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! I shall run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart. Psalm 119:25B, 27, 28B-32

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    No matter how committed we are to staying on track with our devotion to God and his word, no matter how fulfilling we have found it to be or how much we have experienced its delights, it all takes place in a hostile environment (planet earth) that has a way of wearing us down and affecting us deeply. In today’s Scripture we see the Psalmist at one such point and crying out to God, “Revive me and strengthen me according to Your word.” He asks God to clear out the false and grant only the true. He is counting on God and as he waits for his restoring touch, he reiterates for God and for himself what he knows has been true in his case: “I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. I cling to Your testimonies.” This is what he wants, not failure. The final part of his prayer is, “O Lord, do not put me to shame!” The Psalmist determines to run the way of God’s commands, which infers that he is also running away from that which is false. He concludes with his confident statement to God that he knows that God will enlarge his heart (for all that is good and true with no room for anything evil or false).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I need to be revived and strengthened through your Word. Minister to me now and enlarge my heart for all that you desire for me that is good and true. Remove everything false. I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. I cling to Your testimonies right now. May you be glorified through my life. Amen!

    There is a Saturday Devotional this week

  • Experiencing Delight with God and His Word - Thursday, February 20th

    Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law …. My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from Your commandments …. Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors. Psalm 119:17-18, 20-21, 23B-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    At some point earlier on in his life the Psalmist chose the path of devotion to God and his Word and he is determined to stay on track for the long run. He has found his connection with God and his Word to be so fulfilling that he can hardly wait for God to give him more and more instruction. Today’s Scripture moves from the Psalmist’s yearning for a greater breadth of understanding to longing for a greater depth of understanding. Notice all the things from our passage that indicate this: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law; My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times; Your servant meditates on Your statutes; Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors.” Truly the Psalmist’s mind and heart are overflowing with delight in God and his Word as more and more he discovers the wonderful depths of truth and the bountiful way it transforms his life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word with the same kind of delight that the Psalmist had. There are things in life that truly delight me. I know it would delight you if I would find full delight in you and your Word. Show me wonders from your Word that create a longing in me for you and your Word like I have never known before. Amen!

  • Finding Fulfillment in God and His Word - Wednesday, February 19th

    Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. Psalm 119:12-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture shows us how fully the Psalmist is connected to God and his Word. It would seem the Psalmist is blessing God for all he has taught him and then he is asking for more. He can’t get enough of God and his Word. This is a very personal thing for the Psalmist. God is teaching him. God’s Words are spoken personally from his mouth to the Psalmist’s mind, heart, and life. The Psalmist is filled to overflowing so that he is telling others about what God has said to him. Look at the value he puts on knowing God and his word, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” For the Psalmist, nothing of earth compares with knowing God and his ways. How fully the Psalmist is “connected” goes on, “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.” Truly the Psalmist has found fulfillment in God and His Word.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I see that there is nothing worth being connected to more than being connected to you and your Word. Forgive me for all the things I have unnecessarily looked to for fulfillment. Lord, help me have the vibrant enthusiasm the Psalmist has for getting all he can of you and your glorious Word. Amen!

  • Staying on track with God and His Word - Tuesday, February 18th

    How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Psalm 119:9-11

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Today’s Scripture speaks of a young man keeping his way pure by keeping it according to God’s Word. This is true for anyone who wants to be all that God has in mind for them. There is no truly pure, good, healthy life apart from the authoritative instructions of God’s Word. The Psalmist reveals that he is already on the path of devotion to God and his Word with these words, “With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments.” The Psalmist is one who is seeking God with all his heart and fully following his ways and he greatly desires to stay on this path. His simple prayer to God is, “do not let me wander.” Getting on track with devotion to God and his Word is just the beginning. Staying on track with God and his Word is a life time pursuit. Having a heart that treasures God’s Word and staying on track with it is essential. Answering our prayer that we do not wander, is a prayer God delights to answer.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I join the Psalmist in his prayer, “do not let me wander from Your commandments.” I am on the path of devotion to you and your Word and I want to stay on track. Lord, I do treasure your Word and I do want it to be that I do not sin against you. So, help me go forward living fully for you for the long run. Amen!

  • Being Devoted to God and His Word - Monday, February 17th

    How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways. You have ordained Your precepts, that we should keep them diligently. Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes! Psalm 119:1-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture uses a number of words to refer to God’s Word, including law, testimonies, ways, precepts, and statutes. All of these words convey the thought that God has given us authoritative instructions for life. Authoritative instructions for life is what God’s Word, the Bible, is all about. These authoritative instructions from God are for all creation. God wants our lives to be closely aligned with his Word, but we must always remember that God never separates himself from his Word. Notice from our passage that it says that those who “observe his testimonies” and those who “seek him with all their heart” are blessed. Much of the authoritative instructions from God’s Word is about our relationship with him (the Gospel), but also, apart from our relationship with God, we are not able to truly observe his word.  

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to seek you with all my heart so that I can keep your ordained word diligently and consistently. Nothing would be more wonderful than my ways being established to the point that they correspond beautifully with your ways. For your honor and glory, for my good, and for the sake of the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, help me be fully devoted to you and your word. Amen!

  • "The Ice Cream Sundae" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, February 16th

    The Ice Cream Sundae

    This is from an old story, back in the ’30s, in the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less. A 10 year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

    “How much is an ice cream sundae?” the little boy asked.

    “Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

    The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins he had. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.

    By now, more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing very impatient. “Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.

    The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.


    The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry. As she wiped down the table, there placed neatly beside the empty dish were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn’t have the sundae because he had to have enough money to leave her a tip.

  • Koinonia & Caring - Saturday, February 15tn

    Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Romans 12:10-13

    Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bond slave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colossians 4:12-13

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Today’s first Scripture would serve as great departing words if you wanted to leave behind a good word to a group of Christians who were seeking to be what they need to be to each other and the world. The Apostle Paul is saying this is what “should be” true of the believers in Christ in Rome. In today’s second Scripture the Apostle Paul is saying what “is” true of Epaphras: “he has a ‘deep concern’ for you (believers in Christ in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis).” Having a “deep concern” for others is so very much a part of “Koinonia” living. A “deep concern” for others is what is being talked about in a fuller way in our first Scripture passage.

    When we have a “deep concern” for others, we will have a tremendously “giving and caring” spirit that will lead to our fulfilling the kinds of things spelled out in our first passage. Read it again and think about where you are in regard to being this kind of person and being a part of a “fellowship (Koinonia)” of believers who live their lives this way. What is the true “goal” of your life? The “goal” of a believer’s life should be to advance God’s kingdom on earth and this necessitates a “giving and caring” spirit. The Apostle John said, “Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him.”

    What you do with your financial resources and how you use your time are pretty good indicators of whether or not you have a “giving and caring” spirit. How much of your financial resources goes to serving others and helping meet needs? Would you be willing to live in a smaller house, drive an older car, spend less on household accessories, downsize spending on recreation and vacations, give up having the latest and greatest gadgets, etc.? How about volunteering at a hospital, nursing home, hospice agency, soup kitchen, food bank, prison, disaster agency, youth or senior citizen center, etc.? A “giving and caring” spirit can go a long way when we give up “working” and “living” for ourselves. “Koinonia” living has been God’s call for the Christian community since the start of Christianity and yet Christians today barely scratch the surface of “living fully” in this regard. What will you do to answer God’s call today for “Koinonia” in your life and your shared life with others?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to die to myself, so that I might become fully alive to you and others (Koinonia). Bring me to the spot where my approach to what “I do for” and what “I have” in regard to “material” things is fair game for you to change. Grant me a genuine “giving and caring” spirit so that I become a true “blessing” to others and really do live “fully” for you and the goal of advancing your kingdom on earth. Amen!

  • Koinonia & Fellowship - Friday, February 14th

    And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:40-42

    Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:11-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In today’s first Scripture it is important to understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, ““Be saved from this perverse generation!” The Apostle Paul was saying to his listeners that they needed to be delivered from being caught up together with those who live life without a relationship with God so that they can enter into living life with a relationship with God in the context of supportive relationships with others who have also been delivered from the world.

    When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, we enter into a relationship with God that is meant to be close, deep, abiding, and meaningful. Being caught up in our relationship with God or being caught up in the world becomes our daily challenge. This is why it is all important that we build relationships with other committed believers that are close, deep, abiding, and meaningful. Living life together (Koinonia) with other believers provides the impetus we need for maintaining a close and abiding relationship with God as we go about the daily living of life in the world (in the world but not of it).

    Our passage gives a very clear statement about being connected with other believers in this way: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” The word “continually” shows us that having close relationships with fellow believers was a priority for them. The word “fellowship” in our passage is where we get the term “Koinonia.” So, we are saying that “fellowship” with God supported by “fellowship” with other believers is the key to navigating well our daily lives in the world.

    Really both our passages today are windows into the “Koinonia” of the early church. Our second passage is a challenging call to us today to be like the early church: “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am seeking you today in prayer. I want to draw close to you in order to be with you in a more complete way, to know you better, and to able go forward into my life today fully connected with you. Please help me to connect with other Christians who are seeking the “Koinonia” you have in mind for your people. Thank you, Lord, for your love, provision, and grace. Amen!

    There is a Saturday Devotional

  • Koinonia & Faithfulness - Thursday, February 13th

    You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore, It says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:4-6

    But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. Ephesians 6:21-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In God’s plan for human relationships, the bond of marriage of a husband and wife makes their relationship a permanently exclusive relationship. When one marriage partner or the other oversteps the bounds of exclusiveness, that partner become an adulterer because they are no longer “faithful” to their marriage partner. In today’s first Scripture, we see that the Apostle James borrows this terminology to highlight the exclusivity of our relationship with God. We are told elsewhere in Scripture that we are “in the world but not of it.” Someone who is “of the world” is “a friend of the world,” according to the Apostle James. The inference is that one who is “not of the world” is “a friend of God.” To be “a friend of God,” we must have an exclusive relationship with him. If we go after the world, we are being “unfaithful” to God.

    Maintaining the bond of marriage is a serious matter and so is maintaining the bond of our relationship with God. Being a “faithful” friend of God is what “Koinonia” is all about. As faithful friends of God we share in the “Koinonia” of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Some have called this, sharing in the “fellowship of the Trinity.” Mankind was created to abide within the sphere of the “fellowship of the Trinity” and to share the true “koinonia” of relationship with God and other human beings who share in it as well. Just as we are called to have a relationship with God that is close, deep, abiding, and meaningful, we are called to have relationships with fellow believers that are close, deep, abiding, and meaningful.

    Being a “faithful friend” to other believers begins with being a “faithful friend” of God. Truly, “Koinonia” is a high calling. Today’s second passage is another window into the “Koinonia” of the early church. What a great portrayal of faithful friendship we are given here. One cannot help being moved by these beautiful words, “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Truly, this is what “Koinonia” was really meant to be.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, forgive me for taking my relationship with you and my fellow believers far too lightly. Develop my understanding of “Koinonia” more fully. The reality that you “jealously desire the Spirit which you have made to dwell in me” is sinking in. I see that I cannot have it both ways. I need to be totally yours and not the world’s. I really do want to be a “faithful friend” to you and to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen!

  • Koinonia & Sacrifice - Wednesday, February 12th

    This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another. John 15:12-17

    Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. Romans 16:11-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In today’s first Scripture passage we see that Jesus was quite adamant about the kind of bond that should exist among his followers. He begins with “This is My commandment, that you love one another” and ends with “This I command you, that you love one another.” The bond of love is to be the hallmark of those who profess to be followers of Christ. Jesus then says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” The bond of love between believers is to be a bond of sacrifice. Sacrifice is the true test of love. Jesus then connects this all back to himself. We would never have the kind of relationships with each other that Jesus expects if it were not for the relationship we have with him.

    Right after Jesus speaks of one laying down his life for his friends, he says, “You are My friends.” Jesus is saying that he loves us so much that he laid his life down for us. He is saying that his sacrificial love for us makes us his friends and that we will prove that we really do have this kind of relationship with him by our having this kind of relationship with each other. Being bound together with fellow believers in the bond of love and sacrifice is what we have been called to in Christ. This is what “Koinonia” is all about.

    Jesus says that he chose us and appointed us to go and bear fruit. When believers in Christ have a close, deep, and abiding relationship with Christ as his friends, they are in the sphere of “Koinonia” with him. No longer as slaves but as the friends of Christ, we will know “Koinonia” with each other. Surely, the bond of sacrificial love will be our hallmark. Our second passage is another window into the “Koinonia” of the early church. The words love and sacrifice do not occur and yet we are impressed with the amazing bond that existed between them that was far beyond anything they had ever known before. Read the passage again and imagine the sacrificial love they shared as followers of Jesus Christ.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know you are continuing to build your church. Surely, sacrificial love is the mortar that holds it all together. Thank you for your sacrificial love for me. Thank you for helping me to be close to you. Deepen my relationship with you and help me to abide in you more fully. May the fruit of sacrificial love come from my life and be fully available to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen!

  • Koinonia & Risk - Tuesday, February 11th

    And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him (Jesus). But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you” …. But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Luke 5:18-20, 24-25

    Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. Romans 16:3-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Today’s first Scripture gives us a story that has many features to it. The men who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus demonstrate that the relationship they have with him is one of closeness and commitment. To go to such lengths for someone else usually requires a lot of love and devotion. Certainly, the kind of relationship they shared with the paralyzed man made them willing to take a lot of risk on his behalf. In addition to all the obvious risk, there is another risk involved for all of them. What is going to happen when the man on the bed is finally positioned before Jesus? What will the reaction of Jesus be? The first word out of the mouth of Jesus is “friend?”

    Would Jesus address everyone who came before him in this setting as “friend?” How about the Scribes and Pharisees? Hardly. The Scribes and Pharisees are present and they stand in stark contrast to these men. These men have turned to Jesus and are counting on him. We are told that Jesus saw their faith. They believed that Jesus could take care of their friend and they were waiting for him to do so. They were expecting Jesus to heal their friend. But the initial response of Jesus was “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” The paralyzed man had a heart that wanted Jesus and a body that needed Jesus. Jesus fixed his heart and then he fixed his body. You can be sure that all of these men had their sins forgiven by Jesus that day and that they all became his friends indeed.

    The friendship these men shared and the risks they were willing to take really help us understand “Koinonia” better. They took the risk of coming before Jesus with their friend and it really paid off. Not only was their friend healed but they entered into “Koinonia” with God through the forgiveness of sins bestowed on them by Jesus Christ. We said yesterday that true “Koinonia” is meant to be so much more than even the best relationship on a human level alone could ever be. This is because “Koinonia” is something that comes from God. Can you imagine where their love and commitment for each will go after getting established in a relationship of love and commitment with God through Christ.

    Today’s second passage is from the close of the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans. It gives us a glimpse of “Koinonia” at work as it flows from God to his people and then outward from them. The Apostle Paul tells his readers to greet Prisca and Aquila. He describes them as “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks.” He then says, “not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” May we know the “Koinonia” of the early church and may risking our own necks for each other be common place as we live out our love and commitment for God and each other.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I commit myself to the pursuit of “Koinonia” for myself and others. Please connect me with others who want to do the same (small groups). Thank you for calling me, “Friend,” too. Forgiveness and being welcomed into the “Koinonia” of God are beautiful things. I bask in your loving presence and the joy of living fully for you. Amen!

  • Koinonia & Helping - Monday, February 10th

    For both He (Jesus Christ) who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren …. Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil …. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:11, 14, 17-18

    I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. Romans 16:1-2

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    “Koinonia” is not an English word. It is from the Greek language in which the New Testament was written. It was formulated by using the English letters that best correspond to the Greek letters it consists of. There is no one word in English that captures the meaning of the word “koinonia.” It occurs 19 times in the New Testament and is most often translated by the English word, fellowship. It is a word that deals with the bond of relationships. It is kind of like the glue that holds relationships together particularly when they are close, deep, abiding, and meaningful. But true “Koinonia” is meant to be so much more than even the best relationship on a human level alone could ever be. This is because “Koinonia” is something that comes from God as he seeks to restore a lost and fallen world to the fullness of what it was meant to be.

    Actually, “Koinonia” is precisely the essence of the relationship that exists within the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Some have called this the “fellowship of the Trinity.” Mankind was created to abide within the sphere of the “fellowship of the Trinity” and to share the true “koinonia” of relationship with God and other human beings who share in it as well. However, the fall of mankind changed everything. Today’s Scripture speaks of “coming to the aid of.” This is what Jesus Christ did in regard to mankind. He came into the sphere of humanity and did what was necessary to make it possible for mankind to be restored to the “Koinonia” of the Godhead.

    By “making propitiation for the sins of the people,” Jesus Christ made it possible for us to be restored to the close, deep, abiding, and meaningful relationships we were created to share in with God and other people. In “coming to our aid,” Jesus Christ, has “helped” humanity fully and completely with its most fundamental and core need: “Koinonia.” As those that have been restored to God in this way, Jesus Christ continues to “come to our aid” so that we do not fall short of all that he called us to in our relationships with God and others.

    Each day this week the Devotional will include a second passage (they are from the closing portion of some of the Apostle Paul’s epistles) that will give us a glimpse of “Koinonia” at work as it flows from God to his people and outward among his people and to the world.” Today’s second passage focuses on God’s people “coming to the aid of” and “helping” a fellow believer in need.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I realize there is an amazing work you are accomplishing that is so full and far reaching that I can hardly get a handle on it. Draw me more fully into the experience of “Koinonia” with you and others. I need your aid and your help to know you more deeply and to know others more deeply. Help me become one who routinely gives aid and help to others fully and freely. Amen!

  • "The Beauty of the Ocean" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, February 9th

    The Beauty of the Ocean

    By Pat Fleming

    Seagulls soar above her surf,
    The sun reflects and gleams,
    While people come from miles around
    To stroll upon her beach.

    Her touch conveys an icy chill
    Through her stinging, foamy spray,
    While her thunderous waves rush to the shore,
    Then gently roll away.

    Her blue horizon meets the sky,
    The end cannot be seen
    While her salty fragrance fills the air
    And floats upon the breeze.

    She safely cradles in her arms
    The boats that bounce upon her tides
    And plays coy with all the surfers
    Who beckon for another ride.

    She can distract us from our worries.
    She can lure and hypnotize.
    With the rhythm of her movement
    And her beauty in our eyes.

    She's a force that can't be reckoned with,
    A power to revere.
    She's a lovely, sweet seductress
    Who we long to settle near.

    There are no words that truly tell
    The splendor of her face
    Or recreate that feeling,
    Of such a warm and peaceful place.

    The ocean is a lovely gift.
    She's God's great Masterpiece.
    A miracle we can behold
    That gives us reason to believe.

  • Christian Ministry - A Spirit of Giving is for Everyone - Saturday, February 8th

    In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture gives to us the final component of the Apostle Paul’s departing words to the church at Ephesus. Later in Acts 20 we are told that Paul is about to set sail to resume his third missionary journey. Paul speaks of “working hard” in our passage and it is a reference to what he said just before in Acts 20 about how he managed his ministry among them financially. Paul said, “Night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears …. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.”

    So, Paul is saying in today’s passage that by “working hard” like he did, they will have the resources to “help the weak.” The weak are those who do not have enough resources to meet their own needs. Paul then quotes the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Do you work hard? Why do you work hard or why do you work at all? Certainly it has to do with having the financial resources for living life here on earth. But this must not be your primary reason for working hard. What kind of connection is there in your life between “working hard” and “helping the weak?” We have been talking about the “goal” of life. The real “goal” of life is advancing God’s kingdom on earth. “Working hard” to “help the weak” is very much a part of advancing God’s kingdom on earth. The Apostle John said, “Whoever has the word’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him.”

    How much of your financial resources goes to helping those who do not have enough resources to meet their own needs? Would you be willing to live in a smaller house, drive older cars, spend less on household accessories, downsize spending on recreation and vacations, give up having the latest and greatest gadgets, etc.? How about volunteering at a hospital, nursing home, hospice agency, soup kitchen, food bank, prison, disaster agency, youth or senior citizen center, etc.? A “giving spirit” can go a long way when we give up “working” and “living” for ourselves.

    How does this all fit together. Let’s look at the word “blessed” from Paul’s quote of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Is it referring to “being blessed” or “being a blessing?” Certainly, the one who makes “giving” a priority over receiving will be blessed, but if one’s motivation in giving is to be blessed then making giving the priority hasn’t really happened. Jesus is talking about “being a blessing by giving” and only ones who seek this really have giving as their motivation. So, “being a blessing by giving what we have to offer” to those who are weak because they need what we have to offer, is the most basic springboard of all for achieving the goal of advancing God’s kingdom.

    But being a true “blessing” to others means there are no strings attached to our giving. It is born out of genuine love for others. Yes, we want to see people reached with the gospel of grace, we want them to be redeemed, we want them to enter into a relationship with Christ, we want them to be transformed (sanctification) by his indwelling presence, and we want them live for the goal of the advancement of God’s kingdom as well. But, if we treat others as ones to be reached, we will not be a true “blessing” and our love will not be pure. Being a true “blessing” and having pure love for others means that we really want to be in a relationship with them no matter how they respond to us and that we really do care about them and are willing to bless them through giving.

    When you truly bless others with the pure love of a “giving spirit,” your relationship with them becomes a bridge across which Christ can come to them. Not everyone that comes your way will be weak in financial resources, so even if giving of your financial resources is not called for, you can give “yourself” to anyone God brings your way.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to die to myself, so that I might become fully alive to you and others. Bring me to the spot where my approach to what “I do for” and what “I have” in regard to “material” things is fair game for you to change. Grant me a genuine “giving spirit” so that I become a true “blessing” to others and really do live “fully” for you and the goal of advancing your kingdom on earth. Amen!

  • Christian Ministry – Sanctification is for Everyone - Friday, February 7th

    And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32

    I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Acts 20 (from which we have looked at excerpts this week) records the account of the Apostle Paul’s farewell words to the church of Ephesus. This is why Paul begins today’s Scripture with the words, “And now I commend you to God.” He is preparing them for his departure. Today’s passage helps us see that the goal of the gospel is not just that people would be reached and receive the gift of redemption but that they would experience sanctification as well. Sanctification is a part of the message of God’s grace. Paul says that God’s grace “is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” This is a forward look to the final result of the difference Christ will make in their lives.

    The book of Ephesians is a follow up letter to this same group of people and in it there is a passage that expounds on what Paul is saying in today’s verse. It says this: “Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her, so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25B-27). This is God’s goal for his people, every one of them. The goal is never just redemption (conversion). It is always redemption (conversion) and sanctification (transformation).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for redeeming me. Help me to cooperate with you fully in your goal of sanctifying me. Help me to always believe, never give up, and to keep pressing onward and upward. Help me to view others as ones who can be reached for Christ, but always with a view to the whole and complete people they can become through the word of your grace. Amen!

    There is a Saturday Devotional this week

  • Christian Ministry - Living Fully is for Everyone - Thursday, February 6th

    For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Acts 20:27

    But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” Luke 18:13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There are a lot of aspects to life, aren’t there? Some of these are marriage, family (children), relatives, work, education, health, community, finances, possessions, recreation, food, clothing, housing, government, protection, etc. When we talk about living for the goal of spreading the gospel of Christ, we are not talking about abandoning all these things. We are talking about not allowing these things to be so central in our lives that they keep us from participating fully in the goal of spreading the gospel. In reality when we let Christ have full reign and look to him to bring transformation to all the aspects of our lives, they form the setting and even the means for how God uses us to impact others with the gospel of Christ.

    In today’s Scripture the Apostle Paul speaks of “the whole purpose of God.” God’s purposes touch every aspect of our lives. As a matter of fact, every aspect of the universe falls within the realm of “the whole purpose of God.” So, if we are going to live fully for God, we must not only give him full reign for transforming every aspect of our lives, we must give him full reign for transforming our “understanding” of every aspect of the universe. This is often referred to as having a “Biblical world view.” The truly “Christian” life is all encompassing, isn’t it? Remember, the Christian life is a life of “surrendering” and not “accomplishing.” It is all about giving Christ “full reign” to accomplish the transforming of every aspect of our lives and every aspect of our understanding of the universe. May we live fully for “the whole purpose of God.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, surrendering to you is an everyday thing, even a moment by moment thing. The thought that living fully for you includes everything is a bit daunting. So, I will just concentrate on seeking you fully, loving you fully, and yielding to you fully. I trust you for the transformation of all aspects of my life and my understanding of the universe. I choose to embrace your “whole purpose” by wholly embracing you, Lord. Amen!

  • Christian Ministry - Having a Testimony is for Everyone - Wednesday, February 5th

    But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

    The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.” Luke 18:11

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    In today’s Scripture the Apostle Paul refers to the “course” of his life. We all have a “course” of life and where that “course” is taking us makes all the difference. When we became a Christian, we became a disciple of Christ. Disciples follow their master. Our Master is Jesus Christ and the “course” of our lives should be all about following him. Paul speaks about finishing his “course” and we can tell from what is included in the passage that he intends to “finish” well as a follower of Christ.

    Paul gives us several things that will help us “finish” well. Paul says that he received a ministry from the Lord Jesus. This is how it is with all disciples. Jesus gives a ministry to every one of his followers that shapes the “course” of their lives. That ministry is to testify of the gospel of the grace of God. Someone who testifies is someone who has firsthand experience with that which they are testifying. We testify about our firsthand experience with Christ. We do this with all that we are, all that we do, and all that we say. We call this our testimony and when we talk to others about our testimony we are testifying.

    Paul starts today’s passage with a statement about himself that needs to be true of us if we are going to finish the “course” of our lives well as ones who truly give themselves to the ministry of testifying of the gospel of the grace of God. He says, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself.” Paul does not consider anything more “dear,” not even his life, than finishing the course and ministry given to him by Christ. What adjustments will you need to make in regard to what you hold “dear” so that you finish well?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am not the Apostle Paul and you have not called me to bring the gospel to the whole world. I do see, though, that you have called me to bring the gospel to my world. Thank you for saving me, thank you for living in me, thank you for changing me, and thank you for overseeing my life. Thank you that I really do have a testimony. Show me how and when to testify to others. Help me share the testimony of my relationship with you. Amen!

  • Christian Ministry - Repentance and Faith are for Everyone - Tuesday, February 4th

    …. I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:20-21

    Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Luke 18:10

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    We become an agent of the gospel at the very moment we become a recipient of the gospel. As today’s passage says, the gospel is “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” In essence we help others do what we have done. If we are going to help someone with a response to the gospel that brings them to full repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to take a closer look at our own understanding and experience with repentance and faith. Full repentance is more than just acknowledging our sin and sinfulness. A full repentance needs to get to the core of the matter which is this: God created us for himself to do with us whatever he desires and we chose to ignore him, not be available to him for whatever he desired for us, and we went our own way and did our own thing.

    Turning from this rebellion and getting it right is not what repentance is about. Only Christ can turn our lives around so that we life fully for God. Repentance is an about face in perspective – a deep conviction that in rebellion against God we have existed for ourselves rather than him. Faith is all about seeing our need of a Savior who will rescue us from the plight of living for ourselves rather than God. It is receiving the forgiveness of sins so that Christ can live in us through the Holy Spirit and change us into someone who lives fully for God instead of someone who lives for themselves. Checking the foundation of our own repentance and faith and shoring things up with God will go a long way at helping us be agents of the gospel that are dedicated to the goal of bringing the gospel to a world that desperately needs to be rescued through full repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I reaffirm my own repentance and faith and take my place before you accordingly. You are my Master and I am your servant. You do not exist for me but rather I exist for you. May others see that this is truly the kind of relationship I have with you. May they see the miracle of it and be drawn to you. Grant that I might live fully for you and be one who fully helps others respond to the gospel in a way that brings them to full repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

  • Christian Ministry - The Boldness of the Goal is for Everyone - Monday, February 3rd

    The promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, which I (the Apostle Paul) was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power …. so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church …. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:6B-7, 10, 11-12

    And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt. Luke 18:9

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture tells us that the Apostle Paul was a uniquely gifted minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God used him in powerful ways to help establish the church of Jesus Christ throughout the world of that day. The Apostle Paul says this all happened so that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church.” The centerpiece of the manifold wisdom of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ and it has been the goal of the church down through the ages to bring the gospel to the world. The Apostle Paul says “this was in accordance with the eternal purpose which he (God) carried out in Christ Jesus.

    When we speak of the church we are talking about the church as a whole and each of the individual persons who make up the church. This means that the goal (purpose) of bringing the Gospel to the world which God gave to the church is both a collective and individual responsibility. In essence, those who belong to Christ, share Christ. The Apostle Paul concludes by saying that those who belong to Christ have a boldness and confidence that comes from Christ to them. It is the boldness and confidence we have in Christ that wonderfully suits all of us for being ones who bring the gospel to the world.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I believe I am here to walk with you, live for you, and share you with the world. I embrace this goal today and ask that you help it to be realized in my life in significant ways going forward. Thanks for your grace that brought me to faith and I look forward to the grace you will give me for sharing my faith. Amen!

  • "A Child Shows the Way" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, February 2nd

    A Child Shows the Way

    We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking.

    Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi there." He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

    I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists.

    "Hi there, baby; Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik.

    My husband and I exchanged looks, "What do we do?"

    Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi, hi there." Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man.

    The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

    Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo."

    Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

    My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skidrow bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

    We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot.

    The old man sat poised between me and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed.

    As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position.

    Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's. Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship.

    Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged
    hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's
    bottom and stroked his back.

    No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck.

    The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, "You take care of this baby."

    Somehow I managed, "I will," from a throat that contained a stone.

    He pried Erik from his chest unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift." I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.

    With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, "My God, my God, forgive me." I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes.

    I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, "Are you willing to share your son for a moment?" when He shared His for all eternity. The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."

  • Communion with God and Our Preservation through Him - Saturday, February 1st

    Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You. Psalm 25:20-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Psalm 25 (which we have been looking at all week) was written by David, king of Israel in Old Testament times. He was preceded by King Saul, the first king of Israel, who was anointed with the Holy Spirit to help him serve well as Israel’s king. Because of great disobedience the Holy Spirit was removed from him and given to David. The anointing of the Holy Spirit was a unique thing to king Saul and king David. David did not want to end up like king Saul and have the Holy Spirit removed from him. After a time of great moral failure king David said to God (as recorded in Psalm 51), “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.”

    Today’s Scripture is a prayer of David asking God to preserve him as the Holy Spirit anointed king of Israel. King Saul and king David being anointed by the Holy Spirit is similar to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that is ours as Christians under the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit was removed from Saul, but this will not happen to us as Christians. Ephesians 1:13 says, “having also believed (in Christ for salvation), you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The Holy Spirit could have been removed from David, but God answered his prayers (like in Psalm 51 and here) and preserved him as the Holy Spirit anointed king of Israel.

    While we cannot lose the Holy Spirit, we still need to pray that God will preserve us to the end so that his purposes are fulfilled in us. The same Holy Spirit who anointed king David and accomplished amazing things through him is the same Holy Spirit who can accomplish amazing things through us. The same Holy Spirit that transformed, led (Acts 13), and empowered those early disciples in the book of Acts so that they impacted their world in amazing ways, is the same Holy Spirit who is at work transforming, leading, and empowering us to impact our world in similarly amazing ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, “Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You.” Here I am. Take me and do amazing things with my life through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Grant that all the way to the very end (preserved), I “live fully” for you, for the sake of the Gospel, and for the advancement of your kingdom. Amen!

  • Communion with God and Our Intimacy with Him - Friday, January 31st

    The intimacy of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. My eyes are continually toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 25:14-15

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus likened the relationship between himself and one who is truly his disciple, to that of a vine and a branch. It doesn’t get much closer than that. It is this kind of closeness that today’s Scripture has in view when it speaks of “the intimacy of the Lord.” “Intimacy” is a great word for capturing the closeness of the connection that exists between a vine and a branch. The vine is the source of all the resources the branch needs to be vitally alive and fruitful. It is the close, intimate connection the branch has with the vine that make it possible for the life giving resources of the vine to flow into the branch. Experiencing “the intimacy of the Lord” is essential for the life giving resources of God to flow into us so that we are vitally alive and fruitful.

    But “the intimacy of the Lord” is more than just the spiritual life we receive from God, it is also what God receives from us. We minister to God when we take our rightful place before him with a soul filled with exaltation, adoration, and praise to him, and in doing this we are giving to him as well. But “the intimacy of the Lord” is even more than mutual giving, it is also communion with God. Communion with God is just our being with him and him being with us. This is what Psalm 46:10 is focusing on when it says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Knowing and experiencing God in this way requires spiritual discipline and practice. Our passage says that “the intimacy of the Lord is for those who fear Him.”

    The reason intimacy with God is the experience of those who fear God, is because it is those who fear God who are willing to give themselves to the spiritual discipline and practice necessary for becoming good at being still before God to the point of truly knowing him and experiencing him. Remember that “fear” means reverencing God to the point where we absolutely surrender to him and give him the center place in our lives. When we surrender to him and he has the center place in our lives, we will want what he wants for us more than anything else. We will give up what we want for what he wants - and God wants an intimate and close relationship with us that is continuous (my eyes are continually toward the Lord).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am making the commitment to spend time each day just being still before you. I am counting on you to teach me all about being intimate with you. Help me to be faithful to the spiritual discipline and practice of seeking you so that I will become one who truly knows you and experiences you. I give myself to you and the intimate and close relationship you desire for us to have with each other. Amen!

    Note: There is a Saturday Devotional this week

  • Communion with God and Our Prospering in Him - Thursday, January 30th

    Who is the one who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, Psalm 25:12-13A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture speaks of prosperity. Some brands of Christianity today make “prosperity” a central theme, but the prosperity emphasized is an economical prosperity rather than a spiritual prosperity. An emphasis on economical prosperity is much more compatible with the experience of God’s people under the old covenant of the Old Testament than it is with the experience of God’s people under the new covenant of the New Testament. But even at that, the prosperity spoken of in our passage is a spiritual prosperity. The Psalmist is talking about the one whose “soul will abide in prosperity.”

    For both the Old and New covenant or both the Old or New Testament, the prosperity of the soul is a very wonderful and necessary thing. Rest assured that God is absolutely committed to the prosperity of our souls. Psalm 25 begins with the words, “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” Picture baby birds in a nest craning their necks toward their mother above with mouths open wide. This is a very helpful image. We are like baby birds craning our souls toward the Lord above in anticipation for all that he will pour in so that our souls prosper spiritually. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

    There is a lot in between the “lifting up of the soul” in verse one of Psalm 25 and the “soul abiding in prosperity” in our passage today. Take some time to read Psalm 25:1-13 and notice all the things that go into a person being “one who fears the Lord.” For as our passage says, it is the “one who fears the Lord” whose “soul will abide in prosperity.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am learning to “lift up my soul to you.” Help me hunger and thirst for you. I am seeking to put you at the center of everything (fear and reverence of the Lord) by becoming one who ministers to you, waits on you, and yields to you. Lord, Grant that my soul will truly abide in prosperity. Amen!

  • Communion with God and Our Yielding to Him - Wednesday, January 29th

    He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. Psalm 25:9-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The main point of today’s Scripture is this: only those who are truly humble will truly yield to God properly. The pathways that God lays before the humble are in perfect accord with his love and his truth. When we keep the arrangements (covenant and testimonies) that exist between God and us, we experience his love and truth in fullness. The arrangements God has in mind for us involve, first, establishing us in a relationship with himself and then in having our relationship with him result in our lives becoming all he desires them to become. These arrangements are accomplished for us and in us through Jesus Christ.

    The key word is keep. It is the yielded person who keeps God’s covenant and testimonies (the arrangement that exist between God and us for our redemption and sanctification). Both redemption and sanctification are a work of Christ and it is incumbent upon every one of us to yield to Christ for both of them. Why are there so many people won’t allow Christ to redeem them? Why are there so many redeemed people who won’t allow Christ to sanctify them? The answer is the same for both questions: pride. The “leadable” and “teachable” person is the humble person. The humble person is the person who does not let pride stand in the way being totally available to the God of the universe for whatever he wants and commands.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I can see that pride is “me getting in the way” and humility is “me getting out of the way.” You are God and I am not. Forgive me for following so readily in the sin that started all the trouble back at the very beginning of time – the sin of wanting to be in charge; the sin of usurping the place of authority and power in my life that is reserved for you and you alone.” Lord, I humbly bow, yield, and surrender. Amen!

  • Communion with God and Our Waiting on Him - Tuesday, January 28th

    Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:5

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Prayer is our relationship with God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul says that we should, “Pray without ceasing.” In addition to the kind of praying where we stop, fully focus on God, and become deeply engaged in communion with him, there is an “on the go” kind of praying. The Psalmist in today’s Scripture, says to God, “for You I wait all the day.” Being alone with God in concentrated prayer is not something we can do all day. But, we can “wait all the day” on God. “Waiting on God” is “on the go” praying. “Waiting on God” is maintaining an “attitude of prayer.”

    Maintaining an attitude of prayer is something we can do all day long. It involves having an ongoing sense of God’s presence and a confidence that he is always at work leading the way and unfolding the life he as for us. This was the Psalmist’s approach to life and it is reflected in his words, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me.” If you are one who joins the Psalmist and says to God, “You are the God of my salvation, you must also join him in saying to God, “for you I wait all the day.” Truly prayer is our relationship with God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, “lead me in your truth and teach me” in regard to having and maintaining a constant “attitude of prayer.” Guard me from running ahead of you and without you. May it be that today I truly “wait for you all the day.” Amen!

  • Communion with God and Our Ministering to Him - Monday, January 27th

    To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust …. Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Psalm 25:1-2A, 4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    You know that something very special has transpired if you overhear someone say to their friend, “Thank you so much, you have really ministered to me, you have touched my soul. Today’s verses speak of lifting up one’s soul to God. It is the lifting up of one’s soul to God that really ministers to him and touches him deeply. You see God made us to be in intimate communion with him – soul to soul, so to speak. To initiate special times of intimacy with God, we must lift up our soul to God. Lifting up the soul can be described as coming before God in worshipful surrender in order to focus on all that God is with all that we are.

    We minister to God when we take our rightful place before him with a soul filled with exaltation, adoration, and praise to him and empty of ourselves and what we want from him. This is what touches, blesses, and delights God more than anything. Being empty of ourselves and wrapped up in God is what communion and intimacy with God is all about. Ministering to God in this way allows God to be God to us and frees him to minister to all that we are with all that he is and we are touched, blessed, and delighted in return. It is out of such communion and intimacy with God that we are able to trust him with every bit of our lives. Through a close and trusting relationship with God, we come to know his ways and learn his paths and the life we live becomes his doing.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, to You I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust. Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Amen!

  • "God Will Make A Way" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, January 26th

    God Will Make A Way

    By Lydia Preston

    Society seems in a mess
    Mothers cry, while Fathers stress
    to be polite is a disgrace
    as children mock you to your face

    every day the papers show
    that crime and rape did upward go
    the things done in laboratories
    are stashed away in lavatories

    drugs and sex aren't hard to find
    it seems as if the worlds gone blind
    for what the people fail to see
    is messing up society

    as Dads no longer head their home
    and kids all sit, and chat by phone
    what once to all has been a home
    is looking like a war torn zone

    no longer do you find that kids
    are playing in the park
    for it's become a hideout place
    for gangsters after dark

    what once was right now seems so wrong
    no more joy and no more song
    as what this all was meant to be
    lies buried in a cemetery

    by telling you these things my aim
    is not to make you mad
    it's just to tell another truth
    which soon will make you glad

    amidst the chaos of this world
    of hurt, despair and pain
    and hate along with treachery
    all done for selfish gain

    there's this one thing I know of
    believe with all my heart
    that when I bend my knees to pray
    my God will make a way

  • "Swift Kindnesses"- An Inspirational Poem for Saturday, January 25th

    Swift Kindnesses
    By Wilhelmina Stitch 

    "Swift kindnesses are best," I love this phrase.
    It argues healthy zest; enthusiastic ways.
    It wells up from the heart, not from the cautious mind.
    "To-day," it cries, "we'll start to be exceeding kind."

    "Swift kindnesses are best," Oh charming phrase,
    expressing love's behest - be swift to praise.
    It is a splendid race when word and deed
    strive for first place, responsive to grief's need.

    Proverbs, like fashions, alter; but not this one.
    Delay not, never falter when kindness should be done.
    For happy Christmas tide, no need to wait.
    A burdened heart has sighed? Then be not late.

    "Swift kindnesses are best." Brook no delay.
    Compassion in the heart has right of way.
    So practice not restraint; to prudence do not bow;
    the weary one and faint needs your swift kindness now.

  • The Full Experience of Discipleship – Time and the Journey - Friday, January 24th

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

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