Knights Monumental AME Church
Daily Devotion Oct 1st - Oct 31st
In our journey of faith, how can we finish the race well and “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus”? (Phil. 3:14). Like the cable car, we keep a strong grip on Christ, which is what Paul meant when he said “stand firm in the Lord” (4:1). We have no resources of our own. We depend fully on Christ to keep us moving forward. He will take us through the greatest challenges and lead us safely home.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).
Toward the end of his earthly life, the apostle Paul declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). You can too. Simply keep a strong grip on Christ.
On a journey across the Sea of Galilee, the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread and were talking about it. Jesus asked them, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” (Mark 8:17–18). Then He reminded them that when He fed five thousand people with five loaves, the disciples had collected twelve basketfuls of leftover pieces. And when He fed four thousand with seven loaves, they filled seven baskets with leftovers. Then “He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’” (v. 21).
His body was broken for us.
The Lord’s miraculous provision for people’s physical needs pointed to the greater truth—that He was the Bread of Life and that His body would be “broken” for them and for us.
Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup during the Lord's Supper, we are reminded of our Lord’s great love and provision for us.
But in the Philippines, where I also lived for a time, even if you visit unannounced at mealtime, your hosts will insist on sharing with you regardless of whether they have enough for themselves. Cultures differ for their own good reasons.
Heavenly Father, help us bless others today.
As the Israelites left Egypt, God provided specific instructions to govern their culture. But rules—even God’s rules—can never change hearts. So Moses said, “Change your hearts and stop being stubborn” (Deut. 10:16 nlt). Interestingly, right after issuing that challenge Moses took up the topic of Israel’s treatment of outsiders. God “loves the foreigner residing among you,” he said, “giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (vv. 18–19).
Israel served the “God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome” (v. 17). One powerful way they were to show their identification with God was by loving foreigners—those from outside their culture.
What might this small picture of God’s character mean for us today? How can we show His love to the marginalized and the needy in our world?
Setting Prisoners Free
When my wife and I visited the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force near Savannah, Georgia, we were especially moved by the prisoner-of-war exhibit, with its re-creation of a German prisoner-of-war camp’s barracks. Marlene’s dad, Jim, served in the Eighth Air Force, the “Mighty Eighth,” as they flew missions over Europe during World War II. During the war, the Eighth Air Force suffered over 47,000 injuries and more than 26,000 deaths. Jim was one of those shot down and held as a prisoner of war. As we walked through the exhibit, we recalled Jim telling about the absolute joy he and his fellow prisoners felt the day they were set free.
God’s care for the oppressed and liberation of the imprisoned are declared in Psalm 146. The psalmist describes the one who “upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry,” who “sets prisoners free” (v. 7). All of this is cause for celebration and praise. But the greatest freedom of all is freedom from our guilt and shame. No wonder Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
The Lord sets prisoners free. Psalm 146:7
Through Christ’s sacrifice, we are set free from the prison of sin to know His joy and love and the freedom that only forgiveness can bring.
Careless driving, rising tempers, and use of foul language among some taxi and minibus drivers are a constant source of traffic fights in our city of Accra, Ghana. But one traffic incident I witnessed took a different turn. A bus was almost hit by a careless taxi driver. I expected the bus driver to get angry and yell at the other driver, but he didn’t. Instead, the bus driver relaxed his stern face and smiled broadly at the guilty-looking taxi driver. And the smile worked wonders. With a raised hand, the taxi driver apologized, smiled back, and moved away—the tension diffused.
A smile has a fascinating effect on our brain chemistry. Researchers have found that “when we smile it releases brain chemicals called endorphins which have an actual physiological relaxing effect.” Not only can a smile diffuse a tense situation, but it can also diffuse tension within us. Our emotions affect us as well as others. The Bible teaches us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Eph. 4:31–32).
We find joy when we learn to live in Jesus’s love.
When anger or tension or bitterness threatens our relationship with the Lord and with others, it helps to remember that “a cheerful heart is good medicine” for our own joy and well-being.
Praising and Asking
Teen Challenge, a ministry to at-risk youth that started in New York City, was born from an unusual commitment to prayer. Its founder, David Wilkerson, sold his television set and spent his TV-watching time (two hours each night) praying. In the months that followed, he not only gained clarity about his new endeavor but he also learned about the balance between praising God and asking Him for help.
King Solomon’s temple dedication prayer shows this balance. Solomon began by highlighting God’s holiness and faithfulness. Then he gave God credit for the success of the project and emphasized God’s greatness, declaring, “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (2 Chron. 6:18).
Prayer helps us see things as God sees them.
After exalting God, Solomon asked Him to pay special attention to everything that happened inside the temple. He asked God to show mercy to the Israelites and to provide for them when they confessed their sin.
Immediately after Solomon’s prayer, “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (7:1). This incredible response reminds us that the mighty One we praise and speak to when we pray is the same One who listens to and cares about our requests.
Grasping the Cross
In 1856, Charles Spurgeon, the great London preacher, founded the Pastors’ College to train men for the Christian ministry. It was renamed Spurgeon’s College in 1923. Today’s college crest shows a hand grasping a cross and the Latin words, Et Teneo, Et Teneor, which means, “I hold and am held.” In his autobiography, Spurgeon wrote, “This is our College motto. We . . . hold forth the Cross of Christ with a bold hand . . . because that Cross holds us fast by its attractive power. Our desire is that every man may both hold the Truth, and be held by it; especially the truth of Christ crucified.”
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he expressed this truth as the bedrock of his life. “Not that I have . . . already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). As followers of Jesus, we extend the message of the cross to others as Jesus holds us fast in His grace and power. “I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12
Our Lord holds us in His grip of love each day—and we hold out His message of love to others.
The Drinkable Book
Because it is so difficult in parts of the world to find clean drinking water, an organization called Water Is Life developed a wonderful resource called “The Drinkable Book.” The paper in the book is coated in silver nanoparticles that filter out almost 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria! Each tear-out page can be used and reused to filter up to 100 liters of water at the cost of only four pennies per page.
The Bible is also an unusually “drinkable” Book. In John 4, we read of a particular kind of thirst and a special kind of water. The woman at the well needed much more than to quench her physical thirst with clean, clear liquid. She was desperate to know the source of “living water.” She needed the grace and forgiveness that comes from God alone.
Father, we yearn for the satisfaction that only You can give.
God’s Word is the ultimate “drinkable” Book that points to God’s Son as the sole source of “living water.” And those who accept the water that Jesus gives will experience “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (v. 14).
United In Christ
When we come across a list of names in the Bible, we might be tempted to skip over it. But we can find treasures there, such as in the list of the twelve apostles whom Jesus called to serve in His name. Many are familiar—Simon whom Jesus called Peter, the rock. Brothers James and John, fishermen. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. But we could easily overlook that Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot must once have been enemies.
Matthew collected taxes for Rome, and therefore, in the eyes of his fellow Jews, collaborated with the enemy. Tax collectors were despised for their corrupt practices and for requiring the Jewish people to give money to an authority other than God. On the other hand, before Jesus’s call, Simon the Zealot was devoted to a group of Jewish nationalists who hated Rome and sought to overturn it, often through aggressive and violent means.
Christ gives us unity with each other.
Although Matthew and Simon held opposing political beliefs, the Gospels don’t document them bickering or fighting about them. They must have had at least some success in leaving their previous allegiances behind as they followed Christ.
When we too fix our eyes on Jesus, the God who became Man, we can find increasing unity with our fellow believers through the bond of the Holy Spirit.
Doing the Opposite
A wilderness excursion can seem daunting, but for outdoor enthusiasts this only adds to the appeal. Because hikers need more water than they can carry, they purchase bottles with built-in filters so they can use water sources along the way. But the process of drinking from such a container is counterintuitive. Tipping the bottle does nothing. A thirsty hiker has to blow into it to force the water through the filter. Reality is contrary to what seems natural.
As we follow Jesus, we find much that is counterintuitive. Paul pointed out one example: Keeping rules won’t draw us closer to God. He asked, “Why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These rules . . . are based on merely human commands and teachings” (Col. 2:20–22).
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. 1 Corinthians 1:27
So what are we to do? Paul gave the answer. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above” (3:1). “You died,” he told people who were still very much alive, “and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (v. 3).
We are to consider ourselves “dead” to the values of this world and alive to Christ. We now aspire to a way of life demonstrated by the One who said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26).
On the last day of the US Civil War, officer Joshua Chamberlain was in command of the Union army. His soldiers lined up on both sides of the road that the Confederate army had to march down in surrender. One wrong word or one belligerent act and the longed-for peace could be turned to slaughter. In an act as brilliant as it was moving, Chamberlain ordered his troops to salute their foe! No taunting here, no vicious words—only guns in salute and swords raised to honor.
When Jesus offered His words about forgiveness in Luke 6, He was helping us understand the difference between people of grace and people without grace. Those who know His forgiveness are to be strikingly unlike everyone else. We must do what others think impossible: Forgive and love our enemies. Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (v. 36).
Grant us the courage to end our conflicts by Your grace.
Imagine the impact in our workplaces and on our families if we were to embrace this principle. If a salute can make armies whole again, what power there must be in Christ’s grace reflected through us! Scripture gives evidence of this in Esau’s embrace of his deceitful brother (Gen. 33:4), in Zacchaeus’s joyful penance (Luke 19:1–10), and in the picture of a father racing to greet his prodigal son (Luke 15).
With the grace of Christ, may we let this be the final day of bitterness and dispute between our enemies and us.
The following warnings have been found on consumer products:
“Remove child before folding.” (baby stroller)
God steps in to forgive us, instruct us, and give us His wisdom.
“Does not supply oxygen.” (dust mask)
“Never operate your speakerphone while driving.” (hands-free cell phone product called the “Drive ’n’ Talk”)
“This product moves when used.” (scooter)
An appropriate warning label that Nabal could have worn would have been: “Expect folly from a fool” (see 1 Sam. 25). He certainly was irrational as he addressed David. On the run from Saul, David had provided security detail for the sheep of a wealthy man named Nabal. When David learned that Nabal was shearing those sheep and celebrating with a feast, he sent ten of his men to politely ask for food as remuneration for these duties (vv. 4–8).
Nabal’s response to David’s request was beyond rude. He said, “Who is this David? . . . Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat . . . , and give it to men coming from who knows where?” (vv. 10–11). He broke the hospitality code of the day by not inviting David to the feast, disrespected him by calling out insults, and essentially stole from him by not paying him for his work.
The truth is, we all have a little bit of Nabal in us. We act foolishly at times. The only cure for this is to acknowledge our sin to God. He will step in to forgive us, instruct us, and give us His wisdom.
The much-prayed-for film night at the church youth club had finally arrived. Posters had been displayed all around the village and pizzas were warming in the oven. Steve, the youth pastor, hoped that the film—about gang members in New York who were brought face-to-face with the claims of Jesus by a young pastor—would bring new recruits to the club.
But he hadn’t realized that a key football match was being shown on television that evening, so attendance was much smaller than he had hoped for. Sighing inwardly, he was about to dim the lights and begin the film when five leather-clad members of the local motorbike club came in. Steve went pale.
Lord, please help me to see people through Your eyes of love.
The leader of the group, who was known as TDog, nodded in Steve’s direction. “It’s free and for everyone, right?” he said. Steve opened his mouth to say, “Youth club members only” when TDog bent down and picked up a bracelet with the letters WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) stamped on it. “This yours, mate?” he asked. Steve nodded, hot with embarrassment, and waited while the new guests found a seat.
Have you ever been in Steve’s situation? You long to share the good news about Jesus, but you have a mental list of the “right” people who would be acceptable? Jesus was often criticized by the religious authorities for the company He kept. But He welcomed those everyone else avoided, because He knew they needed Him most (Luke 5:31–32).
Dying for Others
I love birds, which is why I bought six caged birds and carried them home to our daughter Alice, who began to care for them daily. Then one of the birds fell ill and died. We wondered if the birds would be more likely to thrive if they were not caged. So we freed the surviving five and observed them fly away in jubilation.
Alice then pointed out, “Do you realize, Daddy, that it was the death of one bird that caused us to free the rest?”
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
Isn’t that what the Lord Jesus did for us? Just as one man’s sin (Adam’s) brought condemnation to the world, so one Man’s righteousness (Jesus’s) brought salvation to those who believe (Rom. 5:12–19). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
John makes it more practical when he says, “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16). This won’t likely mean literal death, but as we align our lives with Jesus’s example of sacrificial love, we find that we are “laying down our lives.” For instance, we might choose to deprive ourselves of material goods in order to share them with others (v. 17) or make time to be with someone who needs comfort and companionship.
Who do you need to sacrifice for today?
A Fan for Life
Cade Pope, a 12-year-old boy from Oklahoma, mailed out 32 handwritten letters—one to each executive in charge of a National Football League (NFL) team in the US. Cade wrote, “My family and I love football. We play fantasy football and watch [the] games every weekend. . . . I am ready to pick an NFL team to cheer on for a lifetime!”
Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers football team, responded with a handwritten note of his own. The first line read: “We would be honored if our [team] became your team. We would make you proud.” Richardson went on to commend some of his players. His letter was not only personal and kindhearted—it was the only response that Cade received. Not surprisingly, Cade became a loyal fan of the Carolina Panthers.
Only God is worthy of our adoration and devotion.
In Psalm 86, David spoke about his allegiance to the one true God. He said, “When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, Lord” (vv. 7–8). Our devotion to God is born from His character and His care for us. He is the one who answers our prayers, guides us by His Spirit, and saves us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. He deserves our lifelong loyalty.
Keep up the Good Work
My son loves to read. If he reads more books than what is required at school, he receives an award certificate. That bit of encouragement motivates him to keep up the good work.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he motivated them not with an award but with words of encouragement. He said, “Brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more” (1 Thess. 4:1). These Christians were pleasing God through their lives, and Paul encouraged them to continue to live more and more for Him.
Encourage someone today to keep living for God.
Maybe today you and I are giving our best to know and love and please our Father. Let’s take Paul’s words as an incentive to continue on in our faith.
But let’s go one step further. Who might we encourage today with Paul’s words? Does someone come to mind who is diligent in following the Lord and seeking to please Him? Write a note or make a phone call and urge this person to keep on in their faith journey with Him. What you say may be just what they need to continue following and serving Jesus.
Do we Have To?
Joie started the children’s program with prayer, then sang with the kids. Six-year-old Emmanuel squirmed in his seat when she prayed again after introducing Aaron, the teacher. Then Aaron began and ended his talk with prayer. Emmanuel complained: “That’s four prayers! I can’t sit still that long!”
If you think Emmanuel’s challenge is difficult, look at 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray continually” or always be in a spirit of prayer. Even some of us adults can find prayer to be boring. Maybe that’s because we don’t know what to say or don’t understand that prayer is a conversation with our Father.
May we grow in our intimacy with God so that we will want to spend more time with Him.
Back in the seventeenth century, François Fénelon wrote some words about prayer that have helped me: “Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them.” He continued, “Talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them: show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them . . . . If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say.”
May we grow in our intimacy with God so that we will want to spend more time with Him.
From the Heart
In many cultures, loud weeping, wailing, and the tearing of clothing are accepted ways of lamenting personal sorrow or a great national calamity. For the people of Old Testament Israel, similar outward actions expressed deep mourning and repentance for turning away from the Lord.
An outward demonstration of repentance can be a powerful process when it comes from our heart. But without a sincere inward response to God, we may simply be going through the motions, even in our communities of faith.
God wants to hear your heart.
After a plague of locusts devastated the land of Judah, God, through the prophet Joel, called the people to sincere repentance to avoid His further judgment. “ ‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning’ ” (Joel 2:12).
Then Joel called for a response from deep inside: “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (v. 13). True repentance comes from the heart.
The Lord longs for us to confess our sins to Him and receive His forgiveness so we can love and serve Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Whatever you need to tell the Lord today, just say it—from the heart.
Desert Solitaire is Edward Abbey’s personal history of his summers as a park ranger in what is now called Arches National Park in Utah. The book is worth reading if only for Abbey’s bright language and vivid descriptions of the US Southwest.
But Abbey, for all his artistry, was an atheist who could see nothing beyond the surface of the beauty he enjoyed. How sad! He lived his entire life in praise of beauty and missed the point of it all.
Loving Father, we praise You because You are good.
Most ancient peoples had theories of origins enshrouded in legend, myth, and song. But Israel’s story of creation was unique: It told of a God who created beauty for our enjoyment and childlike delight. God thought up the cosmos, spoke it into being and pronounced it “beautiful.” (The Hebrew word for good also signifies beauty.) Then, having created a paradise, God in love spoke us into being, placed us in Eden, and told us, “Enjoy!”
Some see and enjoy the beauty of the Creator’s good gifts all around them, but don’t “worship him as God or even give him thanks.” They “think up foolish ideas of what God [is] like. As a result, their minds become dark and confused” (Rom. 1:21 nlt).
Others see beauty, say “Thank You, God,” and step into His light.
I grew up in the rebellious 1960s and turned my back on religion. I had attended church all my life but didn’t come to faith until my early twenties after a terrible accident. Since that time, I have spent my adult years telling others of Jesus’s love for us. It has been a journey.
Certainly “a journey” describes life in this broken world. On the way we encounter mountains and valleys, rivers and plains, crowded highways and lonely roads—highs and lows, joys and sorrows, conflict and loss, heartache and solitude. We can’t see the road ahead, so we must take it as it comes, not as we wish it would be.
Loving Lord, thank You that You not only know the path I take, You walk it with me.
The follower of Christ, however, never faces this journey alone. The Scriptures remind us of the constant presence of God. There is nowhere we can go that He is not there (Ps. 139:7–12). He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5). Jesus, after promising to send the Holy Spirit, told His disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
The challenges and opportunities we face on our journey can be met confidently, for God has promised us His never-failing presence.
On a recent airline flight the landing was a little rough, jostling us left and right down the runway. Some of the passengers were visibly nervous, but the tension broke when two little girls sitting behind me cheered, “Yeah! Let’s do that again!”
Children are open to new adventures and see life with humble, wide-eyed wonder. Perhaps this is part of what Jesus had in mind when He said that we have to “receive the kingdom of God like a little child” (Mark 10:15).
Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! Psalm 63:3
Life has its challenges and heartaches. Few knew this better than Jeremiah, who is also called “the weeping prophet.” But in the middle of Jeremiah’s troubles, God encouraged him with an amazing truth: “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lam. 3:22–23 nlt).
God’s fresh mercies can break into our lives at any moment. They are always there, and we see them when we live with childlike expectation—watching and waiting for what only He can do. Jeremiah knew that God’s goodness is not defined only by our immediate circumstances and that His faithfulness is greater than life’s rough places. Look for God’s fresh mercies today.
My Brothers and Sisters
Several years ago when the Southern California economy took a downturn, Pastor Bob Johnson saw not only difficulty but also opportunity. So he scheduled a meeting with the mayor of his city and asked, “What can our church do to help you?” The mayor was astonished. People usually came to him for help. Here was a minister offering him the services of an entire congregation.
Together the mayor and pastor came up with a plan to address several pressing needs. In their county alone, more than 20,000 seniors had gone the previous year without a single visitor. Hundreds of foster children needed families. And many other kids needed tutoring to help them succeed in school.
Give generously of the time, love, and resources He has provided.
Some of those needs could be addressed without much financial investment, but they all required time and interest. And that’s what the church had to give.
Jesus told His disciples about a future day in which He would say to His faithful followers, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance” (Matt. 25:34). He also said they would express surprise at their reward. Then He would tell them, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).
God’s kingdom work gets done when we give generously of the time, love, and resources He has provided us.
I Am with You
When I served as an intern for a Christian magazine, I wrote a story about a person who had become a Christian. In a dramatic change, he said goodbye to his former life and embraced his new Master: Jesus. A few days after the magazine hit the street, an anonymous caller threatened, “Be careful, Darmani. We are watching you! Your life is in danger in this country if you write such stories.”
That was not the only time I have been threatened for pointing people to Christ. On one occasion a man told me to vanish with the tract I was giving him or else! In both cases, I cowered. But these were only verbal threats. Many Christians have had threats carried out against them. In some cases simply living a godly lifestyle attracts mistreatment from people.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 5:10
The Lord told Jeremiah, “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you” (Jer. 1:7), and Jesus told His disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (Matt. 10:16). Yes, we may encounter threats, hardships, and even pain. But God assures us of His presence. “I am with you,” He told Jeremiah (Jer. 1:8), and Jesus assured His followers, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).
Whatever struggles we face in our attempt to live for the Lord, we can trust in the Lord’s presence.
Choosing To Change
When my son acquired a small robot, he had fun programming it to perform simple tasks. He could make it move forward, stop, and then retrace its steps. He could even get it to beep and replay recorded noises. The robot did exactly what my son told it to do. It never laughed spontaneously or veered off in an unplanned direction. It had no choice.
When God created humans, He didn’t make robots. God made us in His image, and this means we can think, reason, and make decisions. We’re able to choose between right and wrong. Even if we have made a habit of disobeying God, we can decide to redirect our lives.
For a new start, ask God for a new heart.
When the ancient Israelites found themselves in trouble with God, He spoke to them through the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel said, “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. . . . Get a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezek. 18:30–31).
This kind of change can begin with just one choice, empowered by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13). It might mean saying no at a critical moment. No more gossip. No more greed. No more jealousy. No more ___________. (You fill in the blank.) If you know Jesus, you’re not a slave to sin. You can choose to change, and with God’s help, this personal revolution can start today.
A number of years ago I wrote an essay about my collection of canes, staffs, and walking sticks and mused that I might someday graduate to a walker. Well, the day has come. A combination of back issues and peripheral neuropathy has left me pushing a three-wheel walker. I can’t hike; I can’t fish; I can’t do many of the things that used to bring me great joy.
I’m trying to learn, however, that my limitation, whatever it may be, is a gift from God, and it is with this gift that I am to serve Him. This gift and not another. This is true of all of us, whether our limits are emotional, physical, or intellectual. Paul was so bold as to say that he boasted in his weakness for it was in weakness that God's power was revealed in him (2 Cor. 12:9).
Lord, I trust You to give me everything I need for today.
Seeing our so-called liabilities this way enables us to go about our business with confidence and courage. Rather than complain, feel sorry for ourselves, or opt out, we make ourselves available to God for His intended purposes.
I have no idea what He has in mind for you and me, but we shouldn’t worry about that. Our task today is just to accept things as they are and to be content, knowing that in the love, wisdom, and providence of God this moment is as good as it can possibly be.
Not long ago I went to a seamstress to have some clothing altered. As I entered her shop I was encouraged by what I saw on the walls. One sign read, “We can mend your clothes but only God can mend your heart.” Near it was a painting of Mary Magdalene weeping in anguish as the risen Christ was about to reveal Himself to her. Another sign asked, “Need prayer? Let us pray with you.”
The owner told me that she had run this small business for fifteen years. “We’ve been surprised how the Lord has worked here through the statements of faith we have posted in different places. A while back someone trusted Christ as their Savior right here. It is amazing to watch God work.” I told her I too was a Christian and commended her for telling others about Christ in her workplace.
God pours His love into our hearts to flow out to others’ lives.
Not all of us are able to be so bold in our workplace, but we can find many creative and practical ways of showing others unexpected love, patience, and kindness wherever we are. Since leaving that shop, I’ve been thinking about how many ways there are to live out our Lord’s statement: “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14).
Stage by Stage
Numbers 33 is a chapter in the Bible we might pass by without reflection. It appears to be nothing more than a long list of places tracing Israel's pilgrimage from Rameses in Egypt to their arrival in the plains of Moab. But it must be important because it’s the only section in Numbers that follows with the words: “At the Lord’s command Moses recorded . . .” (v. 2).
Why keep a record of this? Could it be that this list provides a framework upon which the Israelites emerging from the wilderness could retrace that forty-year journey in their thoughts and recall God's faithfulness at each location?
Remember all the ways God has shown you His faithful, covenant love.
I envision an Israelite father, sitting near a campfire, reminiscing with his son: “I will never forget Rephidim! I was dying of thirst, nothing but sand and sage for hundreds of miles. Then God directed Moses to take his staff and strike a rock—actually a hard slab of flint. I thought, What a futile gesture; he’ll never get anything out of that stone. But to my amazement water gushed out of that rock! A generous flow that satisfied the thirst of the thousands of Israelites. I’ll never forget that day!” (see Ps. 114:8; Num. 20:8–13; 33:14).
So why not give it a try? Reflect on your life—stage by stage—and remember all the ways God has shown you His faithful, covenant love.
Learning to Count
My son is learning to count from one to ten. He counts everything from toys to trees. He counts things I tend to overlook, like the wildflowers on his way to school or the toes on my feet.
My son is also teaching me to count again. Often I become so immersed in things I haven’t finished or things I don’t have that I fail to see all the good things around me. I have forgotten to count the new friends made this year and the answered prayers received, the tears of joy shed and the times of laughter with good friends.
Lord, Your works are so many and good I can’t count them all.
My ten fingers are not enough to count all that God gives me day by day. “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare” (Ps. 40:5). How can we even begin to count all the blessings of salvation, reconciliation, and eternal life?
Let us join David as he praises God for all His precious thoughts about us and all He has done for us, when he says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand” (139:17–18).
Let’s learn to count again!
The Praying Patient
The obituary for Alan Nanninga, a man in my city, identified him as “foremost, a dedicated witness for Christ.” After a description of his family life and career, the article mentioned nearly a decade of declining health. It concluded by saying, “His hospital stays . . . earned him the honorary title of ‘The Praying Patient’” because of his ministry to other patients. Here was a man who, in his times of distress, reached out to pray for and with the people in need around him.
Hours before Judas betrayed Him, Jesus prayed for His disciples. “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11). Knowing what was about to happen, Jesus looked beyond Himself to focus on His followers and friends.
Jesus looked beyond Himself to focus on His followers and friends.
During our times of illness and distress, we long for and need the prayers of others. How those prayers help and encourage us! But may we also, like our Lord, lift our eyes to pray for those around us who are in great need.
I felt like I was underwater, sounds muffled and muted by a cold and allergies. For weeks I struggled to hear clearly. My condition made me realize how much I take my hearing for granted.
Young Samuel in the temple must have wondered what he was hearing as he struggled out of sleep at the summons of his name (1 Sam. 3:4). Three times he presented himself before Eli, the high priest. Only the third time did Eli realize it was the Lord speaking to Samuel. The word of the Lord had been rare at that time (v. 1), and the people were not in tune with His voice. But Eli instructed Samuel how to respond (v. 9).
The Lord speaks to His children, but we need to discern His voice.
The Lord speaks much more now than in the days of Samuel. The letter to the Hebrews tells us, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets . . . but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (1:1–2). And in Acts 2 we read of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (vv. 1–4), who guides us in the things Christ taught us (John 16:13). But we need to learn to hear His voice and respond in obedience. Like me with my cold, we may hear as if underwater. We need to test what we think is the Lord’s guidance with the Bible and with other mature Christians. As God’s beloved children, we do hear His voice. He loves to speak life into us.
It Never Runs Out
When I asked a friend who is about to retire what she feared about her next stage of life, she said, “I want to make sure I don’t run out of money.” The next day as I was talking to my financial counselor he gave me advice on how I might avoid running out of money. Indeed, we all want the security of knowing we’ll have the resources we need for the rest of our lives.
No financial plan can provide an absolute guarantee of earthly security. But there is a plan that extends far beyond this life and indefinitely into the future. The apostle Peter describes it like this: “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:3–4).
He has given us new birth into an inheritance that can never perish. 1 Peter 1:3–4
When we place our faith in Jesus to forgive our sins we receive an eternal inheritance through God’s power. Because of this inheritance, we’ll live forever and never run short of what we need.
Planning for retirement is a good idea if we’re able to do so. But more important is having an eternal inheritance that never runs out—and that is available only through faith in Jesus Christ.
Daily Devotion Nov 1st - Nov 30th
Devotional – The Price of Salvation
I have met many a person, myself included, walking around, feeling unloved, not special, not good enough. But, when I look at this scripture, Isaiah 53: 1 – 5 , all …
Psalms 23: The Lord is my Shepherd , I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my …
When you feel you are in limbo, wait upon the Lord to sort it out. I find this to be particularly true when there is no answer as to …
God and Giving A few weeks ago, God told me to go to a particular store to buy a couple of birthday gifts for a friend of mine. …
Titus 2:6-8 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be …
Prayer for Walking in Truth Yeshua, Mighty King, Precious Lamb, Defender, we worship you. Thank you, oh Lord, for strength to overcome trials and temptations. Thank you for helping …
El Shaddai, Lord God Almighty, we worship You. We magnify and glorify Your name. Guide us, oh Lord, help us live holy lives, for the path of the just …
Gracious, Merciful, Omnipotent Father, we praise your holy name! We thank you for your glorious blessings and the many more that are on their way. You are beautiful, magnificent, …
Prayer Against the Wolves in Sheep Clothing Lord, there are a lot of ravenous wolves in the world disguised as sheep, just waiting to pounce on the weak, the …
I once heard a story of a King who was so upset with one of his subjects that he ordered her execution. While making his pronouncement, the husband of …
When every little surge of evil in society causes the church to cry, “Batten down the hatches! The last days are upon us!”, you can know that we’ve gone …
Many Christians pride themselves on the fact that their presence makes “sinners” feel uncomfortable. They take delight in the fact that unbelievers apologize to them when they drop an …
Quote Grace doesn’t ignore sin… Grace destroys sin! Phil Drysdale Thought Many people when you mention grace get very nervous. You see most of the Church today is sin …
Quote: You are not called to give good advice, you are called to give the good news! Phil Drysdale Thought: One of the greatest tragedies for leaders in the church …
1 John 4:19 – We love Him because He first loved us. Where is your focus? Do you try to work hard and serve the Lord so that He would show …
Romans 12:18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his …
Psalm 139: 13, 16-17 For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book …
1 Peter 3:10 (NIV) 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech….” James 1:26 (NIV) 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet …
Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, …
1st Chronicles 28: 20 Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not …
Proverbs 12:13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk, and so the innocent escape trouble. Looking for words of wisdom? The Book of Proverbs are filled with words that will …
Colossians 2:7-8 (NIV) 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow …
Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. The book of Proverbs is full of delightful wisdoms. Whenever …
Philippians 2: 1 – 4 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then …
1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in …
So there is was minding my own business on my way home after a fantastic Sunday morning service. It was the kind of service you just know God was …
There are so many among us, who are yet to come to a full realization of God’s purpose for their life. Look at your life today and ask yourself one question: …
Devotional – When God asks us to Sacrifice
I have had encounters with a few people who have lost their jobs due to the economic crisis or have given up their jobs due to other commitments and …
My life’s journey has taught me a few things, it’s sad to say some of those things came out of mistakes I made. I’ve found out – that people’s …
I can still remember the day I received God’s gift of eternal life (giving my heart to Christ and accepting Him as my Lord and Saviour). I was scarcely …
When Bad Things Happen The last week was real tough for a few friends of mine. It is too sad to talk about, suffice to say it had to …
Recently I have felt my life taking on a whole new pathway. To tell you the truth it’s a bit terrifying – because you always have to walk in …
When I was a teenager, my sister gave me a Bible that had a quote written on the inside cover that said ‘God and one man makes a majority’. …
Today I happened to pass someone on the street that looked vaguely familiar. On taking a closer look I realized it was someone I had gone to school with …
When I was barely twenty-one, my father went to be with the Lord. It was the hardest time for my family, in every aspect. I had never been so close …
I have faced some challenges that have convinced me that God and God alone could have brought me through. When I look back at life, it really does encourage …
(Continued from Pt 1) Sometimes I have no words to describe God. He has me speechless and teary eyed because of His kind-heartedness towards me. When I graduated from …
Have you ever looked back on your life and wondered how did God get you here? I have looked back, and I have been amazed, flattered and just completely …
There are days when you feel you’re on top of the world and everything is going just right in your life. Those are the days you smile the most, …
God-Given Gift Daniel was appointed to be the King’s chief governor over all the wise men of Babylon. This was because of his God-given gift to interpret the King’s …
I’ve always thought it important to live right as you just never know who is watching you, looking at how you handle life – they take you as their …
Jesus did some outlandish things in His earth walk. Drive the sellers in the synagogue out with whips turning over their tables. Heal the blind man by spitting in …
Lately a lot of people are clinging to their ‘rights’ or fighting for ‘equal rights’ for themselves or people around them. A lot of the ‘rights’ being fought for …
I’ve never truly understood the saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed”, but I do understand a little bit about friendships and about standing with people. I’m …
At times it is difficult to navigate the course of this life, sometimes you think you actually understand the place where life is calling you to be and at …
All of us generally believe that God is concerned about us and has a plan and purpose for us to accomplish. I imagine that he has certain milestones for …
There are times in our lives that God requires us to take a new step – a different step, to walk a path we’ve never walked before. It’s easy to …
In today’s society I find that the general trend is to step on people to get where you’re going, to lie, cheat and steal your way to the top. …
You know, it’s real easy to smile when everything’s going well with us. It’s easy to lift our hands and praise our God, and sing and rejoice. It’s easy …
When Jesus met the disciples they were really a bunch to talk about. Basically they were a bunch of cussing, tax collecting, smelly men who probably didn’t dress or …
In 2009 I made a tragic career move, I requested to move closer to home! Yes it was a tragic move because of whom I was working under. It’s …
Genesis 25: 21 -23 Isaac prayed hard to God for his wife because she was barren. God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant. But the children tumbled and kicked inside her so …
Do you make the time to spend with God first thing in the morning? Do you get swept away in the business of the week and find that before …
In Paul’s life he had many trials: he was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked and so much more for the gospel’s sake. Throughout these times, Paul was always convinced that God …
Genesis 9: 13 – I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token or sign of a covenant or solemn pledge between Me and the earth. We …
It’s been a strange week weather wise – the day often starts off with brilliant sunshine and you think to yourself – it’s gonna be a bright, bright sun …