Daily Devotional

  • Passing Our Faith to the Next Generation - Faith Climate and God Confidence - Friday, June 23

    This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. Lamentations 3:21-27

    But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; for I do not know the sum of them. I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone. O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come. For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? Psalm 71:14-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Psalm in the introduction spoke of putting confidence in God. The concluding passages above are wonderful expressions of what it means to put confidence in God. Our relocation brought us to an extraordinary facility with some pretty special provisions for our young people. There is always an inherent danger that comes with having great resources. The very resources that are meant to enhance the work of the kingdom can become a significant obstacle if they become to us the object of our confidence. Our confidence must be in God and God alone. As we go forward utilizing our wonderful facility, we need a Divine diligence that allows us to keep providing a climate of faith (confidence in God) for our young people.

    The following words from the introduction bear repeating: “As the young people of our church experience a climate of faith that comes to them from the older generation they will best be able to embrace a life of faith. Faith is all about genuinely experiencing a love relationship with God. When we seek the Lord consistently, connect with Him intimately, experience an outflow of life that comes from our love relationship with Him, and then share it with each other and the world, our young people will see the reality of our faith.” Without this, our lives and our facility will more and more become an empty shell, but with a genuine climate of faith filling up our facility like the “Shekinah Glory” of old, we will mightily bless succeeding generations in the best possible way.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I pray for the families of our church. May we equip them in ways that allow them to thoroughly fulfill the central role they have for preparing the next generation to live fully for you. May the ministries of our church to our young people supplement this work of our parents and not be a substitute for it. May all of us put our faith and confidence in you and you alone. For myself, Lord, I ask that you use me in any way you desire for blessing the next generation in the best possible ways. Amen!

  • Passing Our Faith to the Next Generation - Body, Mind, and Spirit - Thursday, June 22nd

    Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Matthew 13:1-9

    All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

    Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:1-3

    Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit …. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:10-12, 17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In our day it is quite popular to approach caring for the needs of people in a “holistic” way. While this is a bit trendy, it really is the way to go. God cares about us as whole people and the Scriptures show this very clearly. So, as we serve God’s kingdom it is very important that we take this into account as we seek to minister to other people. This is particularly true as we seek to be a blessing to succeeding generations in ways that both show and tell the reality of God presence, provision, and ways. The reason that this is particularly true for young people is that they are quite literally in a process of development of body, mind, and spirit. The Scriptures above speak to each of these three aspects of being and we must care about our young people on each of these levels if we are to be the blessing to them we are called to be.

    The parable of the sower above talks about fertile soil. I wonder if caring for people as whole people and seeking to reach and help them on all levels will have much to do with how responsive they will be to us and the message of faith we seek to offer. I really do think so and we have a lot to learn concerning how to do this effectively in our culture today. Every generation needs a God orientation that leads to embracing the reality that we were meant to be a dwelling place for God. Remember, it is all about living fully for him and not the other way around. The one who lives fully for God let’s their body be a true temple of the Holy Spirit, experiences transformation through the daily renewal of their mind, and maintains a steadfast and willing spirit.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, that’s my prayer right now: I commit to letting my body be a true temple of the Holy Spirit; I commit to letting you transform me through the daily renewal of my mind; and I commit to maintaining a steadfast and willing spirit. I seek to do this for your glory, for my good, but also so that I am a true blessing to the next generation. Amen!

  • Passing Our Faith to the Next Generation - Faithfulness Over Success - Wednesday, June 21st

    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, to Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord …. This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 1 Timothy 1:1-2, 18-19

    But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith …. In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following …. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:1A, 6, 7B-12

    But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:6-12

    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:1-7

    You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2

    Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:12-17

    Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service …. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. 2 Timothy 4:9-11, 22

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    It wouldn’t hurt to read again the Scriptures above and observe carefully the relationship of Paul and Timothy. This is a wonderful account of someone from the older generation blessing someone from the younger generation through an all out effort to build good things into their life. You can be sure that the mentoring relationship of Paul to Timothy was one filled with both showing and telling. Timothy did not just hear about knowing and serving God, he saw the reality of Paul’s faith displayed through a love relationship with God that was lived out day by day through both devotion and service to God. It is interesting that Timothy is the young person Paul enlists for reconnecting John Mark to himself and his ministry. It is also interesting to note that while Timothy and John Mark are mentoring success stories, Demas reminds us that things don’t always work out the way we would like. Our job is to faithfully live out our faith before others (succeeding generations) and teach and train them as well, regardless of outcome.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to be faithful in my devotion to you; help me to faithfully serve others; and help me to faithfully bless the next generation in every way possible. Show me how to be more engaged in spiritually beneficial ways with the young people who are already in my life. Open me up to additional young people that could use a touch from my life for the journey of faith they are on. I really want to be faithful regardless of the outcome. Amen!

  • Passing Our Faith to the Next Generation - Training and Development - Tuesday, June 20th

    Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. Acts 13:13

    After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Perga and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care. Acts 15:36-40

    Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry. 2 Timothy 4:11

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Acts 13 gives us the amazing account of how the Holy Spirit worked to move the church in Antioch to send out Paul and Barnabas as missionaries to the world. Verse 5 tells us that they also had John as their helper. The passages above show us that the development of a young person is a process with ups and downs. For John to be with Paul and Barnabas in the first place shows us that he was someone with great potential. It also shows us that the older generation saw the value of building into the next generation. Certainly, John Mark was helping and contributing, but the greater benefit was his training and development to become an instrument of the gospel for impacting his own generation. With the ups and downs of John Mark’s development, it is great to see that the final word we are given concerning him is that he became someone that was truly helpful for the work of the kingdom.

    Every one of us is an instrument of the gospel and we are expected to be truly helpful for the work of the kingdom. As the older generation seeks to reach its own generation it must build into the next generation through training and development so that they too become instruments of the gospel for impacting their generation. This is an important part of living fully for God. We are talking about a lifestyle for each of us and for our church where we keep clearly focused on our true purpose for being here. Our legacy must not be about buildings and programs. Our true legacy will come from genuine kingdom living that naturally engages our young people and equips them for impacting their own generation.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, give me a greater understanding of kingdom living. Deliver me from living for myself. Lead me into patterns of living that line up with your desire for my life to impact my generation and the next in all the amazing ways you have in mind for me. I am here before you in worship, surrender, and faith for your will to be done in my heart and life. Amen!

  • Passing Our Faith to the Next Generation - Show and Tell - Monday, June 19th

    We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. Psalm 78:4-7

    The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him …. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:40, 52

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There is always a next step in what God is doing. While sometimes it will be something brand new, most often it is a continuation and expansion of what God has been doing. It was just a few short years ago that Cape Cod Church was changing locations. The move was certainly a next step, but while our church campus was brand new, our mission was a continuation and expansion of the ongoing story of Cape Cod Church. A driving force in the story of Cape Cod Church has been the next generation. So much of our relocation was about our hopes, dreams, and plans for the next generation and how each of us could be a part of blessing them in a mighty way. And now here we are with several years under our belt of addressing and meeting the needs of our young people in the fulfillment of being a blessing to the next generation in a significant way.

    Several summers ago my family had a gathering and party to celebrate my parents 65th Wedding anniversary. In preparation for it each of us wrote about one special memory and one special thing learned from them. I wrote about a repeated memory I have of my Mom and Dad standing face to face in our living room after my Dad’s arrival home from work. There they would give each other their total attention for a moment or so as they looked into each other’s eyes and then shared a tender and loving kiss. I also wrote that I learned from my Mom and Dad that the relationship we have with our children is best served by making our relationship as husband and wife the centerpiece of the home. When a mom and dad’s love and commitment for each other is primary and not secondary to that of their children, their children will have a quality of love, a level of stability, and a preparation for life that is greater than it could ever be otherwise. I share this with you in order to illustrate the impact of one generation on the next and how it works best.

    If the older generation in the Psalm above told the younger generation to put their confidence in God, remember the works of God, and keep His commandments but did not clearly show the younger generation that they were putting their confidence in God, remembering the works of God, and keeping His commandments, there would be a serious breakdown in the life of faith of God’s people being passed onto to succeeding generations. As the young people of our church experience a climate of faith that comes to them from the older generation they will best be able to embrace a life of faith. Faith is all about genuinely experiencing a love relationship with God, with each other, and with the world. Our young people will see the reality of our faith, when we actually seek the Lord consistently, connect with Him intimately, experience an outflow of life that comes from our love relationship with Him, and then share it with each other and the world.

    Yes, both in the home and in the church, we must talk to and teach our children about the life of faith God’s people should have. Of course, here at Cape Cod Church, we call this life of faith, “living fully for God.” However, if our children don’t see our love relationship with God lived out before them clearly and consistently, they are not likely to want the God we profess to know and love. “Our praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done” will not be concealed from our children if we live out before them a life of faith that genuinely contains these things. This week’s Devotionals focus on how we can go forward with blessing succeeding generations and how we can do it in the best possible way as a “next step” response to God.

    Today's prayer response from today's:

    Lord, I want to be a part of a fellowship of believers that fully live out their faith and not just talk about it. Help me to genuinely experience a love relationship with you that can be seen clearly and consistently. May your love overflow from my life to others. May my part in all this help succeeding generations want you, Lord, the one I profess to know and love. Amen!

  • Resiliency in the Face of Troubles - Experiencing God as a Refuge from Struggle - Friday, June 16th

    The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:17-19

    Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

    How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD, for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me …. O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful and fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:19-21A, 23-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    One of the most reoccurring words in the Psalms is the word “troubles” and one the most reoccurring themes of the Psalms is God being with and helping His people in the midst of their troubles. I love the image of our lives being hidden with Christ in God. It is not an image of escaping the struggle of our troubles but rather an image of being protected from the unnecessary negative impact of wrongly relating to the presence of troubles in our lives. Psalm 46 says that God is our refuge and strength in time of trouble and that therefore, we will not be afraid. Later, in the Psalm it says that we are to be still and know God as God. This is what it means to seek the things above and live in the reality that our lives our hidden with Christ in God. This is what it means to be sheltered in the secret place of his presence. More and more we can become ones who do not struggle with the fact that life regularly presents us with the challenge of struggles. However, it will also mean that more and more we are becoming ones who experience God as a refuge while we move through the struggles of life and the good things that come from them. May God grant us the grace to be this kind of person as we continue on in the pursuit of living fully for him. Truly this is the hope that he sets before us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I really do feel hopeful. You are so thoroughly involved in my life. You being in me, filling me up with your Spirit, your peace, and your comfort. Me being in you, sheltering me, hiding me, protecting me, and strengthening me. Thank you for being my refuge from troubles and struggle. I love being in the secret place of your presence. Thank you for all you are doing to help me live fully for you. Amen!

  • Resiliency in the Face of Troubles - Finding God's Peace in Struggle - Thursday, June 15th

    In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name's sake, You will lead me and guide me …. I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul, and You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress …. But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness. Psalm 31:1-3, 7-9A, 14-17A

    Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:23-27

    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    When we are in the midst of challenging circumstances our trust must be in the Lord alone and not in the outcomes which we hope He will bring about for us. This is what true faith is all about and this is what should be seen by those around us. People need to see that whether God delivers us from our troubles or not, we will trust Him. Deliverance is one way God impacts the people who surround us as He shows His power and even His actual presence while delivering us from a desperate situation. But God also impacts the people who surround us when they see him sustaining us as we trust him in the middle of desperate situations that doesn’t go away and we speak to them about such faith experiences with God.

    Think of the desperate circumstance of our Savior in the garden of Gethsemene as He faced the cross. If the Father had delivered His Son in response to His prayer to have the cup of suffering removed, where would we be. All of us are a part of that great multitude of sinful people who surrounded our Lord Jesus as the Father delivered Him up on the cross. Where would we be if He had been delivered instead of delivered up. We must trust in the Lord at all times no matter the outcome of things, so that our trust is seen by those who surround us and we have the opportunity to talk about it. God will glorify Himself by delivering or not delivering. But when we trust Him, either way our faith impacts those around us and He is glorified even more.

    Pursuing a faith that proclaims that we will trust God whether He delivers or delivers up will have an amazing impact on us as well. We will find that God has wonderfully helped us to be filled with his amazing peace because we trust Him in all circumstances no matter what. God loves us right where we are in our lives today and He waits to take us by the hand and help us go forward linked with Him more fully than ever before in the exciting and challenging journey of living life fully for him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am beginning to see that living the Christian life in this world filled with troubles and struggle is all about resiliency. I also see that having resiliency is intimately connected with consistently letting your amazing peace flood my being. I want to be a person like this for your glory, for my good, and for the benefit those in the world around me. Amen!

  • Resiliency in the face of Troubles - Utilizing the Supernatural with Struggle - Wednesday, June 14th

    , June 14thWhen the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place …. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance …. And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words …. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore, having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear …. Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:1, 4, 12-14, 32-33, 38-39

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

    Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing …. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:2-4, 12

    In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Peter we see after the resurrection of Christ is very different than the Peter we see beforehand. This is because of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church after the ascension of Jesus Christ. Ever since the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church in Acts 2, each person who comes to faith in Christ becomes one who is forever indwelled by the Holy Spirit. It is this initial change at conversion that gives us the ability to face the challenge of struggles and to experience the fullness of transformation that struggles are designed to produce as we yield to the power and presence of God in us through the Holy Spirit. To be ones who exult in our tribulations, consider it all joy to encounter trials, and greatly rejoice when distressed by trials can only be the result of the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit. So, the change that God produces is first a change in how we view our struggles and then the changes those struggles produce in us as we let God use them in our lives for our good and His Glory.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, awaken me to the Holy Spirit who lives within the depths of my soul. Help me to grasp what that means and to envision the amazing difference he can make. Keep me from facing any of my troubles without a full awareness of the Spirit’s presence and his power at my disposal. Help me actually to live in the power of the Holy Spirit in the face of troubles. Amen!

  • Resiliency in the Face of Troubles - Understanding the Role of Struggle - Tuesday, June 13th

    He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us …. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:4, 6

    And it will be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.” For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:14-15

    The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds …. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. The Lord supports the afflicted …. The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness. Psalm 147:2-3, 5-6A, 11

    Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer person is declining, yet our inner person is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

    For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:14-18

    Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:1-6

    Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ …. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Galatians 6:1-2, 9-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have established that we need to stop struggling with the fact that we struggle. The fact that struggle is inevitable helps with this but it is not enough. We need to get to the spot where we truly believe that our struggles are necessary. In regard to God, we learn that it is true that our struggles give us the opportunity to know and experience His presence in ways that we would not know and experience otherwise. God delights to manifest Himself to us in the midst of our struggles. His reviving touch comes to us as He pours into our lives all the comfort and support we need. In regard to ourselves, we learn that it is also true that our struggles prepare us for eternity. The suffering from our struggles here will produce eternal results that when revealed after we are done here will prove that it was unbelievably worth it all. And in regard to others, we learn that bearing each other’s burdens has much to do with our being able to persevere so that we do not lose heart and grow weary. The giving and receiving of encouragement and support from each other is very much a part of God’s plan for how we make it through life victoriously in the face of our struggles and trials.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for faithfully reviving my spirit and heart whenever I get worn down from my struggles with troubles. More and more I am grasping their value and the important role they play in my life. I am not quite ready to welcome them with open arms but I am beginning to see how they prepare me for glory. Knowing you are with me and that you use them for my good really helps. Help me to care about what others go through in the same wonderful way you care about what I go through. I worship and praise you, Lord. Amen!

  • Resiliency in the Face of Troubles - Accepting the Inevitability of Struggle - Monday, June 12th

    Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:30-33

    The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So, they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The playoffs of professional basketball are nearing their conclusion as the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers battle for the NBA championship. One of the pivotal parts of the game of basketball is the foul line where free throws (shots) are attempted by those who are fouled by opposing players. Success at the foul line is almost always a necessity for a team or player to do well. When a player is not known for doing well at the foul line, it will be said of them that they “struggle” at the foul line. Those who “struggle” at the foul line often spend countless hours practicing to overcome their struggle. However, there are some players who never become good free throw shooters. Every once in awhile you will see a player who is otherwise a great player who goes on in their professional basketball career and never overcomes their struggle to make free throw shots. I wonder if a significant part of the problem for such players is that they struggle with the fact that they struggle. Now “life” is not a series of uncontested free throw shots. “Life” is often more like an ongoing series of attempts at jump shots with all five players from the other team guarding you all at once. We can understand how a poor free throw shooter might struggle with the fact that he struggles. But life is not uncontested and “struggle” is inevitable.

    Struggling with the fact that we struggle only compounds the difficulty. Success in life will include making highly contested jump shots so to speak. But success in life is more about not being overwhelmed with the fact that our jump shots are so highly contested. Jesus specializes in being to us that which we need so that we don’t struggle so readily with the fact that we struggle. The one who becomes a “planting of the Lord” and is called an “oak of righteousness” is the one whose roots go down deep into Christ. Rooted deeply in Christ they accept that as long as they are in the world there will be tribulation (struggle). Comfort, gladness, and praise prevail over brokenheartedness, mourning, or fainting because Christ who overcame the world with all its struggles and tribulations lives in them and through them. Miraculously, they become ones who exude peace and courage in the face of the resisting forces of life. This is very much a part of living fully for God. Finding insight and help for becoming this kind of person is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do want to become this kind of person. I know there is a lot of becoming needed on my part. Accepting struggle doesn’t come easy. I am so oriented otherwise. But, Lord I am willing. Please help me to trust you and yield to you for the work of transformation you will do in my life going forward. I thank you and praise you. Amen!

  • Divine Resources for Human Needs - Living Fully and Kingdom Existence - Friday, June 9th

    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; he guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house the Lord forever. Psalm 23:1-6

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    It comes down to whether we have experienced the major shift in perspective and focus that God desires so much to see come about in our lives. He wants us to understand that He does not exist for us, but rather we exist for Him. His miraculous provision is for those who get this right. God has special ways and means of caring for those who are seeking to put living fully for Him and His kingdom ahead of having their basic life needs met. Those who are on this track are learning to be content with the absence or abundance of provision and are always grateful for whatever He provides, be it miraculously or by more conventional means. But ultimately it is the joy of giving sacrificially to help meet the needs of others that is the heartbeat of those who are truly engaged in living fully for God by faith.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know you are fully at work getting me to where I really need to be. Where I need to be has everything to do with my embracing the fact that you do not exist for me, but rather that I exist for you. I understand that you will freely meet my true needs as I seek to live fully for you by walking in faith and joining you in the amazing adventure of serving your Kingdom by engaging in the ministry of meeting the true needs of others. Amen!

  • Divine Resources for Human Needs - Living Fully and Disaster Protection - Thursday, June 8th

    Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” 2 Kings 4:6-7

    The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10

    He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord .… In the wilderness, he fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, “My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.” But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:3, 16-18

    Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus Christ alive in our lives with our full awareness of Him and the kingdom uses He has in mind for us is what living fully for God is all about. Of course, this requires an ever-developing faith and the whole area of needs and physical provision is often the training ground God uses for this. With Christ and His kingdom as our central focus, our developing faith more and more brings us to the spot where, ultimately, we don’t care what happens to our physical provisions. When we are in charge and physical provisions dominate, then our needs and having them met consumes us and we are devastated when we face financial disaster (like the woman in our story). We must learn that handling financial disaster properly is more about what happens to us on the inside, in our hearts and minds, than what happens on the outside. 

    When we have our attachments in the right place (Christ and His kingdom), then there is nothing of true value for the disaster to hit because Christ and His kingdom mission are disaster proof. When this is what we are attached to, we don’t have to worry about disaster; our hearts and minds are secure with no entry point from the outside. But, if we are attached to physical provision which is subject to disaster then we become subject to disaster and there is an entry point to our hearts whereby we become vulnerable to internal devastation. When we live for God and His kingdom, He works at keeping us on target. The meeting of our true needs really is a training ground for our developing faith. His orchestration of basic life provisions is amazing and often there is no explanation for that provision but His direct and miraculous intervention.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, living fully for you is such a high calling. I know it is an upward call that you are increasingly accomplishing in my life. I confess there are times it seems out of reach, though. Help me increasingly to believe in the work you are doing to make me disaster proof. Truly, I am becoming more attached to you and your kingdom mission than to pursuing, having, and maintaining the physical provisions of human life. I love you, worship you, and bless you, Lord. Amen!

  • Divine Resources for Human Needs - Living Fully and Sacrificial Giving - Wednesday, June 7th

    And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So, she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 2 Kings 4:3-5

    Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

    And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, ”He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, his righteousness endures forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:8-10

    If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? James 2:15-16

    But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 1 John 3:17-18

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The woman in our story exercised faith in God and His word to her through the prophet Elisha by being willing to obey and then by stepping out and doing what was asked of her. She exercised faith before comprehending how God would work or seeing any evidence that He would work on her behalf. God then did act on her behalf and she went from having nothing in the way of earthly resources to literally overflowing with them. She went from being empty to being full because she was willing to act in faith.

    So, in regard to earthly resources, whether we are on empty, have an adequate amount, or are overflowing with them, we must check ourselves to see what kind of attachment our hearts really have with them. We all know how easy it is not to extend ourselves to help others even when we have the resources. But, because God has a great desire for our helping others to become a way of life for us, he specializes in making it possible for us to help others even in those times when we don’t have the resources. Using our financial resources for the benefit of others needs to be the rule not the exception even when we have very little to offer. Expect the unexpected: God loves to stretch what we have way beyond what is humanly reasonable so that He can meet the needs of others through us.

    While God can stretch our resources, sometimes our limited resources for helping others is our own doing. We are called to be stewards of what God gives us and that means that we must use what we have wisely. We must answer the call to be ones who meet needs both on a one to one basis and corporately in conjunction with other believers. This will mean reducing what we spend on ourselves and purposely saving a portion of our resources for meeting the needs of others. We are called to be agents of grace individually and collectively. Even when we seemingly don’t have the means that is needed, we must not be afraid to respond in faith first, in anticipation of God expanding our means. God is so very gracious to us and He is working to extend that grace through us to others on an individual basis and corporately. It is important to realize that God greatly desires to do this at levels way beyond what we have even begun to imagine up to this point in our lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to love in deed and I want to believe indeed. I know that when I get to the place where both are actually true in my life, I will really be a sacrificial giver. Help me to put others first by giving to them generously from either the resources that are mine naturally or by those you provide miraculously, Lord. Amen!.

  • Divine Resources for Human Needs - Living Fully and Materialistic Deliverance - Tuesday, June 6th

    One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”  “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. 2 Kings 4:1-2

    The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them. Isaiah 41:17

    O fear the LORD, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing. Psalm 34:9-10

    For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The widow in our story was on the brink of financial disaster and God wonderfully worked to develop her faith and meet her need. The widow, her sons, the prophet, the towns people, the creditor, and countless people down through the ages including us, are all impacted by what God did in this story to accomplish His purposes. The widow virtually had nothing left and she was on empty, so to speak, except for a flask of olive oil. Often the greatest lessons of faith are learned when we come to such points in our lives. All too often we put our trust in earthly resources and so when we have nothing, God is more free to teach us to trust Him fully as He works on our behalf. But we can learn the lessons of faith without being brought to the spot of having nothing by letting God teach us from stories like that of the widow. We must learn to be “empty” of trusting in our earthly resources and trust in God alone. We must also be “empty” of living for earthly resources and be devoted to living fully for God and His kingdom as people of true faith with all our earthly resources available to God and His kingdom purposes.

    God loves to expand the horizons of those whose lives consist primarily in the pursuit of having basic life needs met with little attention given to heavenly things. In God’s scheme of things, he seems to pit the heavenly against the earthly. He does so not in terms that make it better not to have earthly things in favor of having heavenly things. But rather He does so in terms that make it better not to let earthly things capture our hearts in favor of having our hearts be captured by heavenly things. He greatly desires that we do not spend our lives in the relentless pursuit of getting more and more (or if unsuccessful, merely wanting) but that we spend our lives more and more on Him and His kingdom as ones who are “empty” of being devoted to and relying on earthly resources. Hence, we see what a vital part God’s orchestration of the absence or presence of basic life provisions plays in the building of His kingdom.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I really do want my heart to be captured by heavenly things and delivered from materialism. I want to be “empty” of relying on earthly resources and “filled” with relying on you, so that I am free to bless others both materially and spiritually. Thank you for orchestrating a wonderful work in my life. Amen!

  • Divine Resources for Human Needs - Living Fully and Bountiful Blessing - Monday, June 5th

    And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

    The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. 1 Samuel 2:7

    And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We understand that this earthly realm in which we live was created and established by God. We understand that it belongs to Him and that while He continues to have great intentions for it, it is a fallen and corrupt place. His mission is one of bringing redemption and restoration to this world. He never gives up seeking to awaken this world’s inhabitants to the reality that human existence is much more than this mere earthly realm. He often does so by appropriately dispensing, diminishing, or withholding basic life resources. He knows what it takes, and mercifully, he does what it takes. The Philippians passage above speaks of God meeting needs. For the unbeliever, their greatest need is to come to faith in Christ. For the believer who is lacking in devotion their greatest need is to become committed to living fully for God by faith. 

    It is important to note that in the overall context of the book of Philippians, this statement about God meeting needs is for those who are seeking to live fully for God by faith and accordingly are involved with the work of His Kingdom. It is not directed at those who are wrapped up primarily in their own concerns and the life they are carving out for themselves while God’s Kingdom for them is an afterthought or on hold. God always takes care of us, but He does so in ways that correspond to where we are in our response to Him and in ways that are always best for getting us to where we need to be. God freely meets our true needs as we seek to live fully for him by walking in faith and joining Him in the amazing adventure of serving His Kingdom. This is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am learning to trust you and I am learning to live fully for you. However, my over orientation to the meeting of my physical needs keeps getting in the way of my putting you, others, and your kingdom first. Lord, please help me to come to the end of myself and really believe you will always take care of me. As I more and more become your true servant, I know you will pour out your abundant blessing on my life. Amen!

  • Navigating Life Well - in Reliance Upon Christ's Power Alone - Friday, June 2nd

    My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. John 10:27-28

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    If someone asked an expert, “how do I get into showbiz?” and they were told, “you’ve got to believe in yourself,” they might respond, “give me something practical; what can I do to make it happen? The most practical help for living the Christian life is not like this and that is because the Christian life is a supernatural life. If what we mean by practical is giving people what they need so they can make some area of their Christian life happen, we have given them the impractical. Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Actually, we can do much apart from Christ and very often it is the so-called practical approach to Christianity that leads people to do just that. The most practical thing that we can possibly do is to teach people to abide in Christ (John 15:5) so that all that they do is the outflow of their relationship with Him and his powerful work in them and through them. When we abide in Christ we experience His presence, when we experience His presence we hear His voice and follow Him. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the invitation to come to you, the only true source of power and strength in my life. I come to you today and enter into your rest. I choose to rely on you and your powerful work in my life. I forsake the wearying and burdensome path of self-effort in my Christian life. What a wonderful thing it is to navigate life well in total surrender to you on the path of truly “Living Fully.” Amen!

  • Navigating Life Well - In Close Touch with the Master - Thursday, June 1st

    Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned. Hosea 7:8

    Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:7

    Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2

    Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. Psalm 25:12-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The word “secret” in the Psalm above means, intimacy. People who fear the Lord are those who revere Him so much that they yield to Him as their Master and allow Him to be the centerpiece of their lives. As ones who have God at the center of their lives they learn to commune with God and knowing Him intimately they experience His presence in their day to day living. God shows them how life on earth is lived in a heavenly way and empowers them to do so. These are the ones who live in the world but are not of it. People who live life in this manner are those who walk by the Spirit (New Covenant) and are not like those who are half baked in the Hosea passage above where they are so in the world that they are of the world. But people can be half baked the other way, where they seek not to be of the world by not being in the world. May God grant that we walk by the Spirit and in the intimacy of His presence so that the life we live in this world is truly His doing.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am learning the intimacy of communion with you in the quiet, inner chamber of prayer. I deeply value and appreciate experiencing you as a refuge from the onslaught of the world and a source of nurture in heavenly realities. You are my amazing, beautiful, and glorious Master. I worship, exalt, and bless you. Amen!

  • Navigating Life Well - In Resistance to Worldly Pressures - Wednesday, May 31st

    Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25

    Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

    That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Matthew 6:25-26

    Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17

    Good and upright is the Lord; therefore, He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. Psalm 25:8-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    I love the way J.B. Phillips translates the Romans passage above, “Do not let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” Something becomes molded when it is subjected to pressure and its resistance is overcome. Our desire for the good opinion of the people of the world and our desire for the good possessions of the world become a great cause for why we struggle to resist the pressure the world exerts on us and our being squeezed into its mold. We must come humbly before the Lord and let Him transform our minds and hearts so that He is able to empower us to live in ways that are wise and reflect that we are being molded by God Himself into his image so the we might live fully for His will and purposes.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, having my life be truly in line with your passions is dependent on my firm resistance to pressures from this out of control world that feed and inflame destructive passions. I know that you and your ways, Lord, are enough for me. Deliver me from seeking security and significance anywhere else. Mold me into your image and help me live fully for you. Amen!

  • Navigating Life Well - In Line with God's Passions - Tuesday, May 30

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

    Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick! Proverbs 25:16

    Finally, then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3

    Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:4-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    While the words, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” provide a great context or framework for living life while we are here, they stand in stark contrast to the following words which capture a context or framework for living life by which many live their lives and from which we as believers seek to be free: “Grab all the gusto you can in life, you only go around once.” We need to become passionate about what God is passionate about. We must make sure we do not have passions ruling in our lives that run counter to God and His ways. And for those passions that are good and acceptable we must make sure we do not allow them to control us so that they have priority over what God is most passionate about. God is passionate about being to us the One who calls the shots (commandment, precepts, statutes) about what is right and true, who reveals truth (wisdom) to us, and who empowers us to live that truth in practical ways in everyday life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know you have forgiven me for the “gusto” I have grabbed in my life. The appeal of “gusto” is everywhere in my world and I recognize the “sway” it can yet have in my life. Help me to understand more clearly than ever the things you are passionate about and help them to truly become my passions as well. I know that being in line with your passions, Lord, is what “Living Fully” for you is all about and that’s what I choose today. Amen!

  • Navigating Life Well - In the Reality of Heaven - Monday, May 29th

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment. Proverbs 8:12

    Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore, my soul observes them. The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I opened my mouth wide and panted, for I longed for Your commandments. Turn to me and be gracious to me, after Your manner with those who love Your name. Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts. Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes. Psalm 119:129-135

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    People everywhere look for insights for how to navigate life. Such insights are referred to as wisdom. Where we look for wisdom and the kind of wisdom that resonates with us depends a great deal on the context or framework from which we view life at any given juncture. The following sentence is found in Scripture: “Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God.” Assuming for the moment that you don’t know where that sentence of Scripture is found, what “purpose” do you think is being referred to. As you consider your answer, the need for knowing the context or framework of understanding that surrounds this sentence about “purpose” becomes apparent. 

    Consider the word “sharp” for a moment. What possible meanings come to mind? Notice how the following sentences provide a context or framework of meaning for the word, “sharp”: The knife has a very sharp blade; John is a sharp individual; Be there at 8:00 am sharp. Without a context or framework of meaning, we don’t know how to define appropriately the word, “sharp,” but with it we are all set. In our sentence from Scripture, the sentence itself provides some context or framework of understanding about the use of the word “purpose,” but not enough to show us what specific “purpose” is being referred to. So, we need a bigger context or framework if we are to know the specific purpose. What purpose did you come up with? The actual purpose being referred to is this: Leaving behind our earthly house (our body) for our eternal home in Heaven.

    The bigger context or framework of 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 reveals to us the “purpose” being referred to. However, this sentence and the passage it came from were used, not to illustrate the importance of context and framework in writing, but to illustrate the importance of context and framework in life. And this passage wonderfully gives that to us. Living life here (earth) in the context or framework of what comes next (heaven) is huge and has everything to do with our actually living fully for God. The Lord’s Prayer says, “Your (Heavenly Father’s) will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When we seek to live life on earth in the reality of heaven, we will have a context or framework for living life that keeps in mind that our Heavenly Father calls the shots (commandment, precepts, statutes) about what is right and true, He reveals truth (wisdom) to us, and He empowers us to live that truth in practical ways in everyday life. This is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, in my life, I really do want “your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I confess though that far too often I get caught up in the things of earth and forget to keep heaven in mind. So, I really need your help with consistently keeping the reality of heaven in my mind and heart. Lord, as the one who is truly in charge, I submit to you and your ordering of my life here on earth. Amen!

  • Handling Well the Perils of Life's Storms - Becoming A Safe Haven - Friday, May 26th

    For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then, we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:17-19

    Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. Romans 15:1-7

    Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Romans 15:30-33

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    May God be merciful and allow each of us to come to an end of ourselves so that in dependence upon Him we are no longer tossed and turned by the storms of life. May we so find in Him the shelter we need from the storms of life that our lives become a safe haven in which the broken and needy people around can see and find our gracious God and in turn find the help and healing they need for their shipwrecked lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you are my shelter and my safe haven. Thank you so much for the work you are doing in my life. Help me to rest in you moment by moment right in the middle of this stormy old world I live in. What a blessing you are to me and what a privilege it is to be a blessing to others because of it. Grant that others get a taste of safety and shelter from my life that causes them to hunger for you and then find in you everything they need for their shipwrecked lives. Amen!

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