Category Archives: devotional

Abstaining

1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

How are those called by Christ’s name to witness to those who have yet to know Him?

Two things: abstaining from fleshly lusts and good works.

These instructions are given elsewhere as well.

Romans 13:14 KJV — But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

The Lord knew we needed more than just the command “don’t do”: put off fleshly lusts; He knew we needed a “do”: put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Because without Jesus, we are simply slaves to our flesh and chained to our sin.

Scripture clearly outlines what fleshly lusts leads to, that we might recognize the danger.

Galatians 5:19-21 KJV — Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 John 2:16 KJV — For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Scripture also gives us many verses as to those things we should be “putting on”, the gifts of the Spirit and the works of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:22 KJV — Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Galatians 5:22-24 NKJV — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Colossians 3:12-14 NKJV — Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

God’s Word tells us that putting off the flesh and putting on Jesus Christ is a testimony to those who accuse us, to those who have yet to know Him.

It is how we shine brightly in a lost and dark world.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for these practical and understandable lessons. Lord, thank You for giving both a warning and an instruction. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, that I might not deceive myself, thinking I’m fine, when the truth is I need You daily. Thank You that Your Word brings me such peace as I daily learn to walk with You. Lord, for those who have yet to know You, please continue to use my life and the lives of others who love You as a testament to Your goodness, Your glory, Your holiness, Your truth. Lord, please let the world see the truth, turn to You and be healed. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Tests that teach

John 6:5-6 NKJV — Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

John 6:7 NKJV — Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

Jesus could have simply told Philip what He was going to do.

Instead, He used this test to teach.

Jesus wanted to give all these people what they needed, and knew how He was going to supply the need.

But from Philip’s perspective it was an impossible task.

Matthew 19:26 KJV — But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

In this provision of a meal for thousands, Jesus was giving a lesson in trust.

He wanted them to understand how loving and faithful God is.

God doesn’t give a task and fail to give His servants that which is needful to accomplish the task.

The Lord knows exactly what is required and He can do the “impossible” to provide for it.

We see such truth throughout scripture:

Abraham and Sarah having a son in their old age. Genesis 21:5

An entire nation of people being fed by God daily from a food never seen before and never eaten again once they reached the Promised Land. Exodus 16:15, Joshua 5:12

Joshua asking God to hold time so they could completely defeat the five armies who were attacking the people Gibeon, the people he promised to protect. Joshua 10:13

Three men living through being thrown into a furnace so hot those who took them died from exposure. Daniel 3:22

Times of testings are often opportunities to learn.

This is the theme for the book of Job.

God allowed him to be tested in extreme ways and in the end Job said:

Job 42:2 NKJV — “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”

Job’s test brought him far greater understanding of God and a clearer view of himself.

We see the disciples experience a different type of test in the Gospel of Luke.

1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. 6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
Luke 9:1‭-‬3‭, ‬6 KJV

The disciples were able to do all Jesus had instructed them to do.

God was faithful to provide all their needs.

Jesus made sure to explain that living in this world as a follower of Christ would not be easy, but the entire Bible tells us God is faithful.

Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV — “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 10:34‭-‬39 KJV

Following Christ will be just that, walking through trials and tribulations, being misunderstood and yet continually living completely surrendered to the will of God.

While having incredible peace and comfort knowing Who has called us, and trusting He will provide for that which He has told us to do.

With such an understanding, we can grow daily in the knowledge of God and gain a clearer view of ourselves.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit which teaches and convicts us of sin. Lord, please continue to help us to learn about You and ourselves. Please help us to grow in our relationship with You daily, that we might love and trust You wholeheartedly. Thank You that You understand us far better than we understand ourselves. Thank You for the tests that teach. I love You, Jesus. Thank You for first loving me. Amen.

…in weakness.

9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

Paul’s circumstance is unclear, other than that he had what he called “a thorn in the flesh”.

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
II Corinthians 12:7 NKJV

He clearly attributes this problem as being from Satan and used to buffet him, but he adds in that it was used for his benefit.

Understandably, he prays.

8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
II Corinthians 12:8 NKJV

After pleading three times, the Lord’s answer:

…“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a

God didn’t remove the thorn, at least Paul doesn’t tell us it went away.

Rather, God showed Paul (and us) that He can and will use anything in our lives.

Because we are weak, broken, sinful creatures who desperately need God to heal us, restore us, and redeem us.

No two life stories are identical, but God’s grace, truth, goodness, love, strength, and salvage are able to redeem, restore, and renew any.

No matter the weakness one is experiencing, we do not have to bear it alone, nor does God want us to.

He wants us to lean on Him and trust Him throughout.

When we do, our lives are transformed.

We can go from pleading with God to remove the “thorn” to praising Him for how He has used it.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
II Corinthians 12:10 NKJV

It is not easy, but it is good.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the example of Paul, who was honest about his “thorn in the flesh” and how You spoke so clearly and have given us this wonderful encouragement. Lord, we rarely can see how You are working through the pain in the midst of it, but I thank You that You are. I thank You for how You have used the difficult and painful circumstances of my life. Thank You that You give us so much to lean on. Thank You for Your grace and Your strength which is perfected in our weakness. Thank You for Your faithfulness and love. Lord, thank You that You understand suffering far better than we do. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

Building material

1 Corinthians 3:11-12 NKJV — For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,…

For the follower of Christ Jesus, our foundation is laid in His salvation.

The beginning of each life in Christ is this beautiful gift of mercy and grace.

From there the follower has a choice.

How will they live each day?

What building materials shall they choose for themselves, because their lives are the structure which stands upon the foundation of Christ.

What kind of monument will be built?

Is it costly, chiseled stone, set painstakingly one upon another?

Or is it quick and cheap, a mere temporary thing, awaiting a future date when those items will be replaced with more lasting materials?

Possibly it’s something in-between…

1 Corinthians 3:13 NKJV — each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

No one knows their day, when their life here will give way to eternity with Jesus, but when it comes, the structural value of their time on this Earth will be obvious.

1 Corinthians 3:14 NKJV — If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.

1 Corinthians 3:15 NKJV — If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

It’s not about salvation, for that foundation is secure.

Instead it’s about a testament, a witness, a life which points others to Jesus.

1 Corinthians 3:16 NKJV — Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

It’s about God’s chosen message of salvation being lived out daily.

It’s about lives built upon the Scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

It’s about living for someone far more valuable than ourselves: Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for giving us all we need to build monuments to You each day. Lord, please continue to help me learn through Your Word how to live daily for You. Lord, please continue to show me when I make a mistake, when I sin, that I might repent and return. Lord, I do not want to be careless or hurried about the life I live and build for You. Please help me to be purposeful and wise, building with valuable materials such as love, grace, peace, hope, and faith. Lord, I want my life to bring You glory and to be a testament to Your goodness. Please let others be encouraged, edified, and touched with Your Gospel each day. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Finding hope

1 Peter 1:3-4 NKJV — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Unless we truly understand the truth of these words, we will miss finding hope.

Because true hope, confident expectation, is through Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12 NKJV — “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Thus, when we believe on the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ and we accept His payment for our sins, we are granted hope, confident expectation, of eternal life.

Our future lies in heaven with Him.

Therefore, nothing on this Earth is permanent.

No circumstance is everlasting.

No pain endures past the grave.

Jesus said:

John 14:3 NKJV — “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Thus, finding hope resides in understanding salvation.

Finding hope requires our complete surrender to God.

It’s also a beautiful daily practice.

Romans 12:12 KJV — Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

For the follower of Jesus, our hope is in Christ and in this truth we can rest secure, patiently hopeful.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for salvation. Thank You that You know what each one of us needs each day. Lord, help us to daily rejoice in our hope, to be patient in tribulation, and steadfast in prayer. Help us to view life through Your Word. Lord, please continue to polish and hone us as we seek to honor You every day. I love You, Jesus. Thank You for first loving me. Amen.

True forgiveness

Jesus taught us to forgive.

Matthew 18:22 NKJV — Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

He told a parable about forgiveness.

Matthew 18:22-35

His most incredible truth is He forgave, in the midst of suffering.

Luke 23:34 KJV — Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

This true forgiveness didn’t end here.

Acts 7:59-60 NKJV — And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Through Jesus, we are forgiven by God of our sin, our wrong, our trespass.

And Jesus showed with His very life we too are to forgive.

In the midst of the suffering, in the middle of the pain, we are to look not at the wrong-doer, but instead at Jesus, the Healer.

It isn’t easy.

It’s not a one time thing.

It is a way of life, a choice, and a beautiful daily gift, from God to us and from us to others.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for forgiveness. Lord, please help me to walk with You in all things. Please help me to live in true forgiveness each day. Lord, thank You for Your example in all things.

Luke 11:2-4NKJV — So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

For Thine is the kingdom and the glory forever. Amen.

Fear, a snare of the enemy

It creeps in when we least expect it.

Our lives are tainted with it from birth, because of sin.

It is so common, it’s become entertainment and even a holiday.

But fear is nothing to joke about.

Nor is it something to ignore.

Fear is often an underlying motivation, for a long list of actions.

It pushes us quietly from within.

It couches itself as “being cautious” while lacking the truth of wisdom.

It disguises itself inside of anger or pride.

When motivated by fear, people can choose death over life.

The scriptures tell us about some who believed, but were afraid.

John 12:42 NKJV — Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;
John 12:43 NKJV — for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

And through this fear, their love was established.

They loved the praises of men more than the praises of God.

Thus we must be on guard against fear of anything, except God.

Luke 12:4 NKJV — “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

Luke 12:5 NKJV — “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

Luke 12:8 NKJV — “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.

For in fearing Him, respecting and revering God we find life.

Psalm 27:1 NKJV — A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

And in this life through Christ we find true love.

1 John 4:18 NKJV — There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You so much for Your Word. What incredible truth and freedom we find there. Please, Lord, help me to be on guard against fear of anything except You. Lord, continue to teach me how to trust You in all things and not to allow fear to be my motivation. Lord, it is so easy to fall into fear. It is so common that I often don’t recognize it. Please help me to be discerning and wise. Lord, please teach me what ways the enemy tries to ensnare with fear and help me avoid them. Lord Jesus, thank You that perfect love casts out fear. Thank You that when I’m afraid I can rest in Your love and trust You for my life, today, tomorrow, and into eternity. Thank You so much for saving me! I love You, Jesus. Amen.

Not our own

Psalm 24:1 KJV — A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

How would life look different if each of us lived in this truth?

Because everything belongs to God.

This is His world.

We are His creation.

All we have, all anyone has, belongs to God.

He is the One who created mankind’s intellect.

He is the reason we live and breathe.

Genesis 2:7 KJV — And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

But our pride, our sin, our selfishness refuses this truth throughout the generations, beginning with Cain.

Thus God, in His mercy and great love, choose to die to redeem us to Himself.

For both the sinner and the saved are God’s creation, fashioned in the womb by God.

Let us remember, especially those of us who follow Christ, we are not our own.

1 Corinthians 6:20 KJV — For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for purchasing us at such an incredibly high price. Lord, thank You for Your love. Lord, please help me to live this truth each day. Lord, I want to see myself and others as Your creation. I want to understand that nothing “belongs to me”, not even myself. Lord, thank You for Your mercy and truth. Please help me to live in it today.

… expecting to receive…

Acts 3:5 NKJV — So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.

This lame man had asked for alms.

He’d begged for his livelihood all his days.

Acts 3:2 NKJV — And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;

So, it wasn’t a specific request to Peter and John out of understanding who they were and who they knew.

It was a plea he’d thrown out daily, to everyone, because his life depended upon what others would supply.

Acts 3:3 NKJV — who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.

He hadn’t even been looking at them.

Acts 3:4 NKJV — And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”

Acts 3:5 NKJV — So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.

I’m sure he was expecting money.

But God had a far greater blessing instead.

Acts 3:6 NKJV — Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

He received life changing truth.

Acts 3:7-8 NKJV — And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.

Not everyone gets those things they expect.

Sometimes, it’s due to a wrong motive.

James 4:3 NKJV — You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Sometimes, it’s just that God has something far better.

That was this man’s story.

When he woke that morning, he was a lame man, just concerned with getting enough to supply his need.

By bedtime, changed forever by the name of Jesus, he was a man full of praise and joy.

Acts 3:9 NKJV — And all the people saw him walking and praising God.

We all have expectations.

We can apply this man’s story to them.

Let us focus upon the Lord, and surrender our expectations before Him, realizing His gifts are far beyond what we can imagine.

Our view is from the dirt of sin and the helplessness of the lost, only through Jesus Christ can we be raised up and saved.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for this story. Thank You for saving us. Thank You for giving us far beyond our expectations. Only in You can we find life eternal. Only in You do we have peace for our souls. Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. You sustain us daily. Thank You! May all the earth be filled with the knowledge of Your glory. Amen.

Embrace change

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV — To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

It’s important that we realize change is part of life.

For those who don’t live in the tropics, the weather is a continual reminder of change.

Four seasons, each vastly different, each one important.

Our lives need change, our very bodies thrive on it.

We were not created to sleep continually, when someone does it’s a sign that something is wrong.

We were not made to eat continually, even animals who graze have times where they lay down and chew their cud.

For us to be healthy and whole we need change.

But it’s not always comfortable.

It’s certainly not always fun.

But the season each of us is in holds value and is an opportunity.

Where we struggle is when we try to resist change, holding on to a specific time or season of life, rather than embrace the place one is.

God knows what is best for each of us and His wisdom is far above our understanding.

Therefore we must trust Him and seek His face for the place we are in, thanking Him.

It is with a humble and grateful heart that we can truly embrace change.

Let us praise God for change.

Let us be aware of the changes, whether it be the season, the time, or the place we are in.

Let us be thankful for the blessings of yesterday as well as those of today.

Let us trust God for tomorrow, guarding against fear of the future.

For truly there is a time for everything and the Lord is Master of it all.

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 NKJV —
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your wisdom and truth. Thank You for Your Word and how You help us through each day. Lord, please continue to shine through each circumstance, to teach and guide me. I want to be more like You in all things and I thank You for the change You bring in my life, that I might grow. Lord, You know many things are difficult, please help us to cling to You and to walk in Your ways. Lord, please help us not to charge ahead in our own plans, but instead to rest in and wait upon You, even while we work. Lord, please keep us from devising our own plans or using others to “make” things happen. Lord, if there is any place where we are using another for our own benefit, please show us that we might stop manipulating others. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You for Your love and faithfulness. May the knowledge of glory of You fill the whole Earth! Amen.