Grow Closer to GOD
30 devotions Pointing to The Savior’s Path
By, Toni Smothers
30 devotions Pointing to The Savior’s Path
By, Toni Smothers
Scripture Quote: for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Psalm 95:6(NIV)
In Psalm 95:6, we read that the LORD is the greatest God and King over everything. His excellency as Creator is unmatched throughout the universe. Yet He would call us His own. In the Old Testament times, when idol worship and blatant disobedience prevailed, He still loved us. -And even today, we also may approach our Heavenly Father with an indescribable gladness - Even though we fail Him repeatedly, He has chosen us to follow Him and through Christ we are redeemed.
We are His sheep and He supplies our green pasture. God goes before us to set up the best possibilities despite Satan's efforts to the contrary. We stubbornly refuse His guidance so we can ignorantly, “do it our way,” only to find that we end up in more trouble than we can eradicate ourselves. Jesus has already experienced everything that we have. He is always close and willing to answer our call for help. We need only remember that our hope lies in His hands, not ours - And, that's excellent!
Today’s Meditation: “Hope springs eternal...” Alexander Pope Where does your hope come from?
Memory Verse: Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. Psalm 95:6(NIV)
Scripture Reading: Psalm 95
Psalm 95:1-11 Come, let's shout praises to GOD, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us! Let's march into his presence singing praises, lifting the rafters with our hymns! And why? Because GOD is the best, High King over all the gods. In one hand he holds deep caves and caverns, in the other hand grasps the high mountains. He made Ocean—he owns it! His hands sculpted Earth! So come, let us worship: bow before him, on your knees before GOD, who made us! Oh yes, he's our God, and we're the people he pastures, the flock he feeds. Drop everything and listen, listen as he speaks: "Don't turn a deaf ear as in the Bitter Uprising, As on the day of the Wilderness Test, when your ancestors turned and put me to the test. For forty years they watched me at work among them, as over and over they tried my patience. And I was provoked—oh, was I provoked! 'Can't they keep their minds on God for five minutes? Do they simply refuse to walk down my road?' Exasperated, I exploded, 'They'll never get where they're headed, never be able to sit down and rest.'"
A Divided House
Scripture Reading: Matthew 12:22-30
Scripture Quote: Jesus told the people to gather around him. Then he spoke to them in riddles and said: How can Satan force himself out? A nation whose people fight each other won't last very long. Mar 3:23-24
Jesus was accused by the scribes of using power from the prince of devils to heal a man who had been possessed by demons. Jesus stated the obvious in His reply to them. The welfare of any kingdom, group, or family, depends on its agreement. Satan would naturally want his followers not to fight among themselves, thereby securing his uncontested dominion over them. So, Satan would not deliberately allow his kingdom to be divided against itself. Jesus further pointed out that He could not be in league with Satan, who's kingdom Jesus constantly opposes and whose destruction is His goal.
It’s amazing to think that all the kind and merciful things that Jesus did could not dissuade those obstinately determined to disbelieve. Jesus gave everyone ample proof or His omniscience and performed many miracles to demonstrate His great power. Jesus told the Pharisees that when He forced out demons by the power of God's Spirit, it proved that God's kingdom had already come to them. God forbid that coming to His own today, His own will still not receive Him - He was, His is, and He will always be, Almighty God!
Today’s Meditation: Agree with your brother and believe God’s truth.
Memory Verse: So, if Satan fights against himself, that will be the end of him. Mark 3:26 (CEV)
A Kingdom of Children
Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:25-30
Scripture Quote: Whoever, then, will make himself as low as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3 (BBE)
What parents most want from their children, besides their love, is their obedience, so that we can teach them how to be safe and content. Though discipline may be appropriate sometimes when they do naughty things, our hearts forgive them just as soon as they say, "sorry." If obedience is important to us as parents, how much more so is it important for us to learn to be obedient to our Father, God in preparation for eternity? For us to live in relationship with God, we must be obedient and dependent, both of which goes against our prideful egos.
Only God can forgive us of pride and cleanse us - Only Jesus' sacrificial death is what makes it possible. If we take our focus off Jesus, sin in the form of disobedience is always standing by to claim us. We can study the bible every day, and that's certainly a good thing, but just facing one act of obedience that God wants us to take in a certain situation can bring instantaneous enlightenment and spiritual growth. The key to relationship with God is incremental obedience, until His ways permeate our spirits and we can draw ever closer to His love. Humble obedience is what God wants and deserves.
Today’s Meditation: Obey God in the thing He shows you today.
Memory Verse: Truly I say to you, whoever does not put himself under the kingdom of God like a little child, will not come into it at all. Mark 10:15 (BBE)
Abide in Him
Scripture Reading: Psalms 91:1-16
Scripture Quote: For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Psalms 27:5 (NIV)
God is our refuge and our security. There are tremendous blessings awaiting our faithfulness. If we put all our trust and love in Him, there is no limit to His protection and affection. Believers are privileged to enter the very Spirit of God, where by the blood of Jesus, we are safe from the evil one. Deeply rooted faith shows us how important it is to abide in Him. There can be no fence-sitting when it comes to our allegiance to our God. We must be all-out-crazy-in-love with Jesus!
Satan can only prey on the vulnerable. Since we are bound to live in this decadent world, we need a reliable plan to keep us free from worldly temptation’s influence. Yet, we are called to be salt and light to the world and to reach out to the unsaved with the good news of the gospel. Knowing God's Word is imperative to our success. His truth teaches His directives and promises that cover solutions for all circumstances. God's Word will be invariably fulfilled to those who trust in Him. To quote my pastor, “Read the book!”
Today’s Meditation: He who lives nearest to God suffers least from temptation.
Memory Verse: The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:1 (NIV)
Acceptance and Obedience
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:1-9
Scripture Quote: For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29 (NIV)
All Believers are called to be the visible Church and are entitled to all the privileges of the children of God, once we believe the Gospel. Believers of Christ are blessed with the continual watchful care of God and the salvation and inheritance promised by the Father that He guards for us. We are kept in fortified places within the Holy Spirit, who comforts us and helps us endure our hardships until we are united with Christ forever in our resurrected bodies. All that is involved with being called by God is a gift, but it does also rely on our acceptance of it and our obedience to it.
Think of Christ's obedience to His calling as Messiah - Through beatings, shameful jeers, rocks thrown, yet willingly He was nailed to a cross. Imagine the torturous pain he endured out of obedience to the Will of God. He could have silenced that crowd and refused those nails. He could have turned that vicious group on themselves, if He had just let his situation prevail over obedience - He had the power to stop His abuse, but He also had the power to choose the greatest love this world has ever known. He chose to be the very intentional Savior of all who would understand His sacrifice and believe.
Today’s meditation: Because He lives, we also live – Forever!
Memory Verse: 1 Thessalonians 1:4 (NIV) For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,
Accuse No One
Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:1-6
Scripture Quote: Some of you accuse others of doing wrong. But there is no excuse for what you do. When you judge others, you condemn yourselves, because you are guilty of doing the very same things. (Romans 2:1)
The Jews thought that they were more righteous than the Gentiles. However, they were guilty of the same things they accused the Gentiles of doing. So, like the Jews, whenever we accuse others, we condemn ourselves because we are also guilty of the same behaviors. God will be as hard on us as we are on others. Can we really think that God won't punish us when we behave exactly like the people we accuse?
The incident about the woman who slept with someone other than her husband is another uncomfortable example of questionable piety. All the people wanted to stone her to death. They may not have all been guilty of committing the same sin as the woman, but they were all sinners. Jesus asked the one who never sinned to throw the first stone. Eventually all the people left without throwing any stones. It’s a good lesson because we must always remember that we are all guilty of sinning against God and have no right to condemn anyone else. Christians must be willing to forgive each other, just as our Almighty God has forgiven and continues to forgive us. Obeying His ways are sometimes as hard as it gets!
Today’s meditation: Be wise and accuse no one, even in the face of dispute. Others could just as truthfully accuse you too; We are all guilty!
Memory Verse: Sharp words cut like a sword, but words of wisdom heal. (Proverbs 12:18)
Acting Any Way We Want
Scripture Reading: Psalms 101:1-4
Scripture Quote: Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. Romans 6:13 (NIV)
Prosperous providence is great and we are certainly grateful for God's provision when our cookie jars are full. Adverse circumstances, however, often bring very different reactions from us. Our praise and worship might not be quite as loud or joyful in tough times. It takes discipline and maturity to have faith that difficult circumstances are in some way beneficial to our walk with God. So, once we have salvation as our reality, how can we deviate from that joy, regardless of our circumstances? Don't we still need to model the conduct of Jesus?
God's law illustrates a joyous, perfect lifestyle - We need the wisdom to desire to walk in it, to feel and know the indwelling Spirit of God who is with us to guide us. God does favor those who choose His will over their own. How closely does your will align with God's? Do your family and friends see that your life is centered around God's example, which is Jesus? Believers don't get to act any way we want because we are saved. We are saved to act any way God wants.
Today’s meditation: Cherish God’s gift of salvation and walk in it.
Memory Verse: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6 (NIV)
Always Honor Christ
Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 3:1-7
Scripture Quote: Above all else, you must live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then, whether I visit you or not, I will hear that all of you think alike. I will know that you are working together and that you are struggling side by side to get others to believe the good news. (Philippians 1:27)
We must consider our true citizenship to be in the kingdom of heaven, along with all our brothers and sisters who also belong to the church of Christ here on earth. We are all called to defend and enlarge the Gospel Message. We wrestle together against the enemies of God to bring as many alongside us as we can. We stand strong in our faith and we testify to the unification of our spirits through Christ.
It seems suitable that those of us who profess the Gospel should strive for it. There is so much negativity in our world that stands against faith in God, that we must have our voices heard. As we speak out for the truth found in God's Word, we can demonstrate to an unbelieving culture a oneness of heart and affection among Christians. We can stand fast with one spirit and one mind. The Bible tells us that we are blessed when men persecute us, for great is our reward in heaven. Opposition to God has always existed in every generation, yet His Word is the most read book in history - His truth will prevail.
Today’s meditation: Faith worth anything, is faith worth everything!
Memory Verse: I trust you to save me, LORD God, and I won't be afraid. My power and my strength come from you, and you have saved me. (Isaiah 12:2)
An Attitude of Gratitude
Scripture Reading: Micah 7:13-20
Scripture Quote: I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalms 40:1b-2 (NIV)
Since the day we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we no longer fear eternal separation from God. He lives inside us now through His Indwelling Spirit. It was for our benefit that Jesus suffered tremendous anguish, so that when we call to God for help, He hears and He cares. We are miraculously transformed by Jesus’ sacrifice, made to save us from our sins.
Are we now able to purposely sin and still be covered by Christ’s blood? Absolutely not! This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. Jesus is an atoning sacrifice for all the sins of those who believe in Him, but we now must deliberately turn from all evil.
God’s love for us compels us to a higher standard of living. Gratitude is the appropriate response to what He has accomplished in our lives, despite our prideful wills. Thankfulness fills our days with His peace and joy.
Today’s meditation: Be appreciative for God’s precious gift of eternal life.
Memory Verse: This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1John 4:10 (NIV)
Scripture Reading: John 3:13-16
Scripture Quote: Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:6-7 (ESV)
Jesus’ anger with the money changers was justified. What about the kind of anger you and I deal with? God told Cain that he could make a better offering, which would be accepted. There wasn't any just reason for Cain's anger. It was simply a matter of his own pride that made Cain mad and jealous that his brother, Abel, did bring an offering that pleased God more than his.
Injured pride and jealousy frequently hold hands with anger. As always, we can decide between hostility and calm reasoning. Will we do our worst, murder our brother, like Cain, or will we accept rebuff, stop for a minute to retrace our steps and see why we started to lose our temper? Most of us have faced this dilemma. If we coddle our hurt feelings, enjoying indignation in preference to grace - we lose! We can, however, push on past that dark and stubborn passion to a changed heart. We can decide to reject our own base instincts and endure whatever sting that may bring, so that we may remain safely in the harmony of God's peace and love. Just ask yourself, "What could possibly be worth giving up the unfathomable peace and love of our God? (Answer = NOTHING AT ALL!)
Today’s meditation: Let the Lord’s joy reign in your heart always!
Memory Verse: Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. Psalms 37:8 (ESV)
Are You Ready?
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Scripture Quote: And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:38 (NIV)
In front of the United Nations building in N.Y.C. there’s a sculpture of a guy beating a sword into a plow point, with an inscription below from Isaiah 2:4, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares." The UN was formed with high hopes of creating a judging body that would usher in world peace. Oh, but we are still light years away from a world where humanity lives in harmony. Isaiah's vision and the founders of the UN's ultimate goal are very similar, but their source is radically different. The UN believes in human rationality and good will. Trusting in humanity is foolish since we know the depths of people's selfishness and contempt for controls.
A peaceable world will be achieved only through an act of God. Isaiah said that God would judge between nations. Our conflicts are a result of people judging from our very limited, biased perspective, but peace and harmony will someday flow through God's unlimited supply. We need to be prepared for His coming judgement - There won't be any party preparations or heavenly circulars issuing words of warning. Believers must deliberately seek Christ's righteousness each day - He is our only source and only hope.
Today’s meditation: We are quickly approaching God’s judgement.
Memory Verse: But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mat 24:36 (NIV)
Ask as A Child
Scripture Reading: Luke 11: 9-13
Scripture Quote: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Mat 7:7-8 (NIV)
When children pray, they never hesitate to ask God for whatever they want. They are too young to filter their requests as adults often do. They are not concerned with asking within reasonable limits, nor do they try to appear unselfish in their requests. Children are open and honest when they pray. Maybe that is why the bible tells us to come to God as little children.
So, when you pray, reveal your heart, realizing your own inability to provide what it is that you need. Ask with humble confidence because God is ever disposed to give mercy to His children. And when you sometimes must wait on God, persist relentlessly as a child would do, until God grants you answers. Remember, though, that His answer is not necessarily always going to be the one you were hoping for. But be assured that He will always do what is best for you.
Jesus said that if you remain in Him and His words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Try it and see if the Father isn’t happy to be that involved with your true heart’s desires.
Today’s meditation: Ask, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Memory Verse: And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13 (NIV)
Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:1-4
Scripture Quote: And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:9-10 (NIV)
In larger cities, there are a number of destitute homeless. Many of these impoverished people suffer from variouos forms of mental illness, who often shout out weird remarks or talk to themselves, while they are mostly ignored and left to roam the streets. Anyway, it is quite unlikely that those who encounter these street people, take them seriously - Anymore seriously than we would today take the likes of John the Baptist, living his unconventional, locust-eating lifestyle, walking the streets shouting out his warnings to "repent!"
John’s ministry was that of preparing his people through repentance for the coming Messiah. Our current Pastors proclaim more than a formal repentance, but also an attitude, a way of living that bears fruit. Repenting of our sin keeps it from controling us, which will enable God free reign. But sometimes it seems that we don't take sin as seriously as we should – That’s foolish and dangerous. God does not desire that anyone be lost to Him, but sin won’t ever be tolerated.
Today’s meditation: Repent – God’s Kingdom is at hand!
Memory Verse: His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Mat 3:12 (NIV)
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Scripture Quote: The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)
Christians have a perfect example of holy living in Jesus. He led a pure life even though he was tempted as we are. Granted, it is difficult to keep oneself in check all the time, but striving to imitate Jesus will make the matter a lot less difficult. We can invite the Holy Spirit to control our thinking and refresh our commitment to the ways of the Lord, which will increase our knowledge of what does and what does not please God.
Devotion to Jesus enables us to be free from inappropriate appetites and passions connected with self-gratification. We can choose not to allow anything into our lives that might lead us away from purity of mind and soul. When we consider the Gospel to be the light in our lives, we invite truth to shine its spotlight on our thoughts and actions. Walking in the light of truth will enrich our lives far better than walking in the darkness of sin.
Today’s meditation: Study the Bible and let its truth be your guide.
Memory Verse: Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14 (NIV)
Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11-24
Scripture Quote: I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:7 (NIV)
During the prodigal son’s era, a person who worked at feeding pigs was vilest of all occupations - Jews were particularly contemptuous of swine-herdsman. In Egypt, they were not permitted to mingle with civil society or have any matrimonial opportunity. Swine-herdsman were considered to be shameful sinners.
Today, a desperate drug addict given up to all kinds of evil, who might steal, or even murder if it gained him his next fix, could be compared to the debased swine-herdsman. These kinds of people are shunned by a law-abiding society.
Who among us would esteem a murderous drug addict, or choose him as an acceptable candidate to marry one of our kids? Yet, which of us would not be heartbroken to have one of our own children fall into such a despicable lifestyle? And just like the father of the prodigal son, it's a good guess that we would also be elated at our child's reversal and return to us. God, the author of the greatest parental love in existence, is also tremendously joyful over the child who turns away from their sin toward His merciful forgiveness.
Today’s meditation: Sin’s deception destroys, but God’s truth restores.
Memory Verse: I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22 (NIV)
Be A Blessing
Scripture Reading: John 4:4-23
Scripture Quote: "Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24 (NIV)
To Christians, it seems so obvious that Christ is the long awaited Messiah and that He died for forgiveness of sin in general, and for our individual salvation, in particular. Others may see through foggy vision that there is a God, but only because they marvel at and need to explain the intricacies and complex design of humanity and nature. Believers understand that God is so much more than a remote cause of all things. Our God is Spirit and He is Eternal. He is personally involved with every respect of our lives.
God delights in those of us who have been made partakers of His Own Divine nature. He has made us His children and our hearts are full of love for Him and His truth. Our prayers and worship bring all our affections, flaws and desires to His throne. We are so privileged to have become joint heirs with Jesus. There are so many people in our personal sphere of influence who are still floundering for meaning in their lives. They live in darkness, only aware of the physical aspects of life, while we possess the knowledge of eternal life. Share what is in your heart with those who don’t yet understand.
Today’s meditation: Everyone needs to know who Jesus is!
Memory Verse: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." John 4:24 (NIV)
Be Brave and Speak Out
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 53:1-12
Scripture Quote: Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20(NIV)
We know that people all over the world are persecuted and killed because of their faith. In our country, Christians are a group that certain factions would stamp out completely, if they could. Our schools have no more prayers offered. Our educators teach that a “big bang” somehow conjured up life, but that Christianity and creationism are synonymous with ignorance. History is gradually being rewritten, diminishing the founding father’s deep dependence on God. Many of this generation’s children are raised with no exposure to Jesus or any firm sense of morality. Christians need to step up and make a difference.
Jesus was tortured and murdered for us, yet we’re afraid to speak about our faith to the person that we know might be unreceptive? Are we truly concerned that we could turn someone away from God with our awkward attempts? Does that even make sense when a person’s eternal destiny is in dire jeopardy! Know that the power of the Holy Spirit can help us to have the courage to be a witness to the Word and to testify about our own salvation - We can trust Him to enable us.
Today’s meditation: Be bold and without excuse - Proclaim the Gospel.
Memory Verse: Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Acts 4:29 (NIV)
Be Humble in Spirit
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 66:1-6 (All Scripture quoted is NIV)
Scripture Quote: You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalms 51:16-17)
The battles we fight and the quarrels we participate in come from our inner struggles with our flesh. When we take our attention away from living for the Lord, we covet things others have, but we can't get what we want, so we quarrel and fight. However, we do not have what we want because we don't submit our desires to God and accept His decision whether or not what we ask for fits into the plan He has for our lives. If in our disappointment with God's decision, we turn to the world, we are actually joining with the enemies of God.
Finding our way back to the Father requires a humble and contrite heart and a sovereign act of His mercy. Our loving Father is always there to heal our broken spirits and renew our distracted heart. It is true that there is nothing similar to what we find in the love and peace of God - His love is greater than anything this world could possibly offer because He gives us genuine happiness, which will always allude the flesh. Believers belong to God Almighty and He alone can fulfill the desires of our hearts.
Today’s meditation: Rest and peace are found only in our Father God.
Memory Verse: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." (James 4:6
Be Proud of Christ
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 26:16-23
Scripture Quote: Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. (2 Cor 12:7a MSG)
Paul's life prior to his conversion would have been one of power and self-sufficiency. If anyone would have been prone toward pride, it would have been a man like Paul. God used Paul mightily for the Gospel message. Because God knew Paul's character, He used some sort of physical handicap to balance Paul's abilities, so that he would spread Christ's teaching as a humble man. God kept Paul humble so he would be an example to those who sat under his teaching.
The sin of pride, with its subtle pull, lurks constantly around every Christian's heart. If a person was characterized by pride before his salvation, he will be in special danger of it afterward. Almost anyone that is gifted in some way, will tend toward pride over his ability. Satan might captivate him through the innocent flattery of friends, or some other form of affirmation. The only real way we can keep from the danger of this sin is to be constantly aware of the presence of God's Holy Spirit within us, who is the source of our every attribute. If we must be proud of anything, let it be pride in our Savior and all that He has accomplished for us on the cross.
Today’s meditation: Jesus is the only one with bragging rights.
Memory Verse: First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (Proverbs 16:18 MSG)
Be Reborn and Live
Scripture Reading: Psalms 139:12-17
Scripture Quote: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (Isaiah 53:3,5 NIV) Jesus was despised by many of the religious Jewish scribes who desperately feared His radical teachings - They felt threatened by Christ's profession of love for one’s enemies. They were angered when Jesus spoke boldly about repentance and forgiveness of sins, which were things only animal sacrifice and the involvement of the scribes could accomplish. Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry and performed miracles that proved His divinity, but the Jewish leaders were more interested in preserving their own status.
Jesus spoke of a loving God who wanted to heal and restore humanity to fellowship with Him. Because the people flocked to Jesus, the scribes became violently adamant about plotting His demise. Jesus knew that His life’s purpose was to become a sacrificial offering for the sins of His people. His message was repentance, forgiveness of sins for all who would believe in Him and His great love for them. His resurrection was proof of His divinity and is our hope that we will one day be with Him in paradise.
Today’s meditation: We must be reborn into God’s forgiving grace.
Memory Verse: Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24 NIV)
Believe God’s Word
Scripture Reading: James 1:1-8 (NIV)
Scripture Quote: "Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:23-24 (NIV)
In order for us to obtain wisdom that contains a practical knowledge of God, of our salvation and even a more intimate understanding of ourselves, we must study God's Word - We can only find this deep kind of truth when we spend time studying and seeking God as our teacher. We need to ask for Divine teaching. God is actually willing to give generously to those who understand their lack and desire His teaching above all else.
It's the asking and not doubting part that messes us up. Unwavering faith is a rare commodity, yet that is exactly the currency God demands. We have to first understand our need, then realize that God is good and desires good for His children. If He tells us in His Word, which He does, (James1:5),that we can ask for wisdom, then that should be good enough for us. We must trust God's infallible Word. But He does qualify our requests - We must absolutely believe that He is ready to impart to His children whatever they need.
Today’s meditation: Ask in faith, believing God's Word.
Memory Verse: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
Believe In Miracles
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31
Scripture Quote: Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4 NIV)
The act of restoring sight to the blind, turning water into wine, or any of the many other miracles that Jesus performed, all demonstrated His power and divinity. Christ himself was of course the most glorious of God's miracles. Some Christians today think believing in Jesus back when they saw firsthand how Jesus behaved and heard what He taught, that acceptance of His message should have been a slam-dunk. We can say that Jews in Christ's day were extremely rigid and reluctant to believe, but are we any different? Miracles still occur all around us and many for our personal benefit, yet some still say that these occurrences are either coincidence or wishful thinking.
Jesus was from the beginning with the Father and has since been seen with human eyes as a man that was touchable and accessible. The Word of Life, our Lord, came to show us the way to the Father, God. We could well be like the blind man, afflicted with a different kind of blindness, but still unable to see what God has for His children. Believing in Jesus and His miracles both then and now, has required the same leap of faith. Jesus Christ's divine power has not diminished with time and it never will.
Today’s meditation: Miracles are still happening all the time.
Memory Verse: He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17 NIV)
Boldness in The Spirit
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Scripture Quote: "I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love," Ephesians 4:1-2 (NRSV)
The apostle Paul did not seek his own glory, but God’s glory, through the preaching of salvation through Christ's Gospel. Paul knew how precious each soul was that was won for God’s glory. The day is coming, the bible says, when the Lord will come like a thief. Everything on earth will be disclosed. Man's judgement is coming and it will be swift. It will be too late for us to influence anyone for Christ. Believers should feel an urgency for our lost family and friends and a boldness to find ways to talk about the gospel now, while we still have the chance.
We that are found with the testimony of Christ in our hearts, conscientiously believing and obeying, God will confirm as His very own. We can speak to others by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, praying for courage and confidence. We who have received the Spirit should have faith that the Spirit will speak through us to reach another’s heart. In the day that He comes to judge the world, may we have done everything conceivable to speak God's truth into those we know to be without it.
Today’s meditation: Be worthy of your privilege in Christ, Jesus.
Memory Verse: “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 1:8 (NIV)
Brag On Jesus
Scripture Reading: Romans 1:21-25
Scripture Quote: Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4 NIV
We live in a sinful world which continually draws many people away from God. The goodness of God that has manifested so often in each of our lives, gives us good reason to be steadfast in our loyalty to God. Even when trials and trouble come to us, we can rest in the knowledge that we belong to God, which means that our outcome is guaranteed.
Are we grateful for all the blessings that we have received from God's provision? Do we give God the worship he deserves? Or do we spend more time stumbling off the narrow path, only to be put right again by God's hand of mercy? We children of the most high God can understand the allure of the world on the unsaved because it often tempts the saved as well. Let us truly imitate the heart of our perfect Savior by feeling the grief over the lost that He most certainly does. Our great God wishes that none be forever doomed to eternal separation from Him. We can use our intimate knowledge of our Savior to offer grace to the lost and we can speak up for Jesus and plant seeds in their hearts that might lead to their eventual redemption.
Today’s meditation: Do we truly care for the lost?
Memory Verse: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9 NIV
Can I Get a Witness?
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 1:20-33
Scripture Quote: At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered. Daniel 12:1 (NIV)
There are many people who aren’t named in the book of life, who will be condemned to an endless lost and brutal fate. Believers know that our eternal destiny is thoroughly dependent on Christ's sacrificial death for our salvation. We can choose to become luminaries in the kingdom of Jesus Christ by sharing the Gospel message with skeptics. Sometimes we are even blessed by witnessing a sinner’s conversion from condemnation to the love of Christ - Or not.
We can claim an inability with words, or fear of a hostile response, if we were to explain the Gospel uninvited. But if fear for another's eternal damnation does not motivate us, we might want to reconsider our commitment to loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said to make disciples of all nations and to be salt and light - Salt that loses it saltiness is no longer good for anything and light that is hidden illuminates nothing. Let’s keep the rich flavor of our faith, while shining brightly for Christ. We all have a testimony worth sharing.
Today’s meditation: Lead another to Christ before it’s too late.
Memory Verse: Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:20 (NIV)
Can We Decide to Love?
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:36-40
Scripture Quote: “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." Mark 12:33 (NIV)
When Jesus explained the Father’s greatest command, He told His truth plainly. As Christians, we know what sinful behavior looks and feels like. We try to live within limits that sometimes don't translate into success, but we press on. We take special care to stay on the narrow path, as we struggle internally with all kinds of flaws. We are weak and vulnerable believers, all the while trying to emulate Jesus - That would be great, if it weren't so laughable.
Does all that struggle have value when we so often seem to skip over God's most imperative dictate to love Him and other people as our primary goal? Jesus wasn’t referring to romantic love, which comes easily to us. Instead, God wants us to make love a decision, without payback and without reservation. His people, who are selfish, independent, judgmental, carnivores by nature, have been given this mandate to simply love - We are to love God above all else and one another as much as we do ourselves. We can choose to love even the unlovable, because God first loved us. Thank God His mercies are new every morning!
Today’s meditation: Press forward emulating Jesus’ love for everyone.
Memory Verse: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14 (NIV)
Charity Instead of Vengeance
Scripture Reading for the day: Genesis 26
Scripture Quote: “So Isaac prepared a great feast for them, and they ate and drank in preparation for the treaty ceremony.” Genesis 26:30 (NLT)
Isn’t it sad that the most common response to poor treatment from others is to plot something bad to befall them? We automatically seek vengeance to sooth our inevitable pride. We seek public sympathy and privately think hateful things. Actually, if we are honest, we can think of as many wrongs that we have dealt others as have been dealt to us. We like to rationalize these facts away in the mist of our indignant tempest. Isaac, who had good reason to be bitter, didn’t respond with anger. Instead he showed mercy and charity to King Abimelech who had previously been jealous of Isaac’s wealth. He had Isaac’s wells filled with dirt and drove Isaac away. Still, Isaac chose Christ’s peaceful way to treat King Abimelech.
We can be just as receptive to those who want to make peace with us. Often, God’s influence in our lives draws others to us, even enemies - We can take those opportunities to reach out to them with God’s love.Isaac compromised for the sake of peace. Would you be willing to forsake your pride to keep peace? Is it hard for you to humble yourself in front of others?
Meditation for the day: The trouble with taking revenge when we are mistreated is that none of us can claim complete innocence.
emory Verse: “We can plainly see that the LORD is with you. So we decided we should have a treaty, a covenant between us.” Genesis 26:28
Children of the Living God
Scripture Reading: John 1:6-14
Scripture Quote: Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--that is, to those who had faith in his name: John 1:12 (NIV)
John the Baptist, was sent by God from his conception in Sara's womb, with the sole purpose to bear witness to the coming of the Messiah. God often uses plain, or even eccentric people, to speak truth to us in our own lives. John had been sent from God to deliver a message. It was John's strictness and purity of his life and doctrine that made others believe him, even without dramatic miracles, eloquent delivery of his message, or any other kind of tangible proof.
Christ's light doesn't need anyone's testimony, but our current secular society does. Christians can show others the likeness of His light so that they can see Christ through us. Unlike John, who foretold His coming, we already have Christ's light within us. That precious gift is not intended to be selfishly hoarded, but shared with those who are currently asleep in the dark of night. Make a deliberate choice to live your faith out loud, trusting that God will make us sensitive to when we should share Christ and his gospel. Only God can make a heart awaken to His light, but He often uses His children to plant an opportune seed. Be open and depend on God's grace to teach you how to be ready to proclaim His message of eternal salvation.
Today’s meditation: Share His light with the sleeping world.
Memory Verse: From his full measure we have all been given grace on grace. John 1:16 (NIV)
Choose Love Over Anger
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:27-37
Scripture Quote: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)
We can mull over and over an offense that provoked our anger, or we can suffer that offense quietly, leaving ourselves in the hand of God. Anger is totally opposite to the spirit and letter of the Gospel. When we indulge wrong tempers, we wound the spirit of love and mercy within us. When we stand steadfast in our good will, however, an enemy or hurtful situation is weakened. There is no strength in anger because it robs us of our power to choose loving hearts and minds. When a thief steals from us, he obtains our goods, which are here today and gone tomorrow anyway - But if we raise up in righteous indignation, we have then given the thief our peace and joy as well.
When we rise above our fury, or seething resentments, we move closer to God and His grace purifies and renews our hearts. We more closely resemble our Savior who has also given us the most profound grace in human history. He died under the ignorant, brutally cruel hand of man, yet he used His last dying words to pray forgiveness over all of us.
Today’s meditation: Love can overwhelm anger.
Memory Verse: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:32 (NIV