November 12, 2019

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Read – Psalm 119:129-160

What does it say?
The Lord is righteous; His words are true, trustworthy and eternal. The writer shed tears over disobedience to God’s law, entrusting his life to God’s promises and compassion.

What does it mean?
Throughout this section the writer stated what he knew to be true about God and His Word: the Lord is righteous and eternal; His promises are true; His laws are right; and His instructions can be trusted. The psalmist’s prayer and position were in direct opposition to those who ignored God’s commands. He had reason to be confident though. His prayer was within God’s will because he asked the Lord to act according to His Word and to His character. Since he had been – and continued to be – obedient to God’s laws and commands, His thoughts and positions were correct.

How should I respond?
Political opinions and conventional morality fluctuate with the prevailing thought of the day, but God and His Word never change. There will come a day when everything God says in the Bible will be accomplished and proven true. Until then, we each have to decide whether or not we’ll go against the current tide and take a stand on God’s Word. Are you grieved over our nation’s disregard for the truths revealed in Scripture? What opinion, decision, or political position do you need to submit to the authority of God’s righteous, eternal Word? God is right, regardless of what society thinks. You can confidently entrust your life to His promises when you choose to live by His commands.

November 11, 2019

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Read – 1 Peter 4

What does it say?
Peter instructed believers to resist sinful behavior and live for God. He encouraged them to persevere and rejoice when they suffer for being followers of Christ.

What does it mean?
In this chapter Peter returned to his discussion of suffering and godly living. He reminded believers that Christ suffered and died for sin so that those who receive Him are able to end sinful behavior and live for righteousness. Christians should spend the rest of their time on the earth for God’s purposes, investing in the lives of others with whatever gifts God has given them. However, even as believers try to live purposeful lives, they will suffer insults and painful trials because of the name of Christ. But God will use those trials to bless them and enable them to live even more holy lives.

How should I respond?
Does it surprise you when others think you are bigoted and intolerant because of your faith? As Peter explained earlier, Christ left you an example to follow. Instead of being defensive or feeling discouraged, rejoice and continue to do what God has called you to do. God uses trials and even insults to purify and strengthen your faith. In what specific ways has He provided exactly what you need – at just the right time? Although it’s not always easy to respond gently and with grace, commit yourself to your “faithful Creator and continue to do good.

November 10, 2019

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Read – 1 Peter 3

What does it say?
Peter encouraged wives and husbands to respect each other. Even in suffering, believers have an opportunity to testify of God’s grace.

What does it mean?
Peter gave God’s directives for the husband and wife relationship. For the Christian wife, submission is a deep confidence in her heart that God is in control. Her desire is to be the woman God wants her to be. As she applies God’s Word to her life as a wife and acts in faith upon His principles, her obedience to God and submission to her husband create inward beauty – a gentle and quiet spirit. The husband, in turn, sees his leadership role as one of love and respect and understanding of the needs of his wife. He communicates to his wife that she is important and that he values her opinions.

How should I respond?
As Creator, God designed the roles for the husband and wife so that they could work together with the greatest creativity and success. As a wife, God wants to develop in you a submissive attitude toward your husband. As a husband, God wants to develop in you the ability to be the spiritual leader in your family. As you both seek to have a godly home, keep in mind that He knows what is best for you. When you pray today, thank Him for the unique way He works in your lives to help you understand His will for you. Will you commit to study and apply God’s Word as it relates to your role in the home?

November 9, 2019

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Read – 1 Peter 2

What does it say?
The believer’s foundation is Christ, the living Stone. Believers should submit to God-ordained authorities.

What does it mean?
In Chapters 2 and 3, Peter explained one of the greatest principles of godly living – learning how to operate under authority. Responding with the right attitude to God-ordained authority as declared in His Word is an evidence of true faith. Jesus Christ who suffered unjustly is the believer’s example – He operated under total submission to His heavenly Father, the Righteous Judge. God works supernaturally on behalf of believers who respond with respectful attitudes to those He has placed over them.

How should I respond?
Every person has to live under some type of authority. The way you respond to that authority has a profound effect on your success and happiness in life. Ask God to show you how you need to change your attitude toward the authorities in your life. Then ask for His grace to respond with the right attitude to your authority. How will God’s Word affect your response this week to your parents, your teachers, or your employer? Be encouraged as you remember that an attitude of submission is an act of faith that pleases God (Matthew 8).

November 8, 2019

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Read – 1 Peter 1

What does it say?
God has given believers new life and a living hope in Christ, enabling them to live holy lives even in the midst of suffering.

What does it mean?
Peter wanted the believers scattered throughout the Roman Empire to be prepared for the persecution that was coming. He encouraged them to focus on their salvation and the inheritance waiting for them in Heaven. No matter what opposition or persecution they experienced, it was not without a purpose. God allows suffering to test, refine, and strengthen the faith of His people. The earthly pain was temporary, but their hope and future with Christ would be forever. Proven faith brings glory to God and enables His people to live godly lives in an ungodly world.

How should I respond?
God has given you the faith to believe Christ, and now He wants to develop your faith so that you will live for Christ. As you try to live for God, you realize that it’s not easy to put away the old way of life and “be holy” – to live as God intends you to live. The trials you face are designed by God to remove the slag of sins that contaminate your character. God’s enduring Word says that the testing of your faith is more precious than the refining of gold. Gold perishes. Faith remains. How are you responding to God’s refining process? Are you resisting or releasing?

November 7, 2019

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Read – James 5

What does it say?
James assured his readers that the Lord hears the cries of the oppressed. He told them to be patient in suffering and to pray in faith.

What does it mean?
James closed his letter to these Jewish believers with words of encouragement about their suffering. Two thoughts rise to the surface: perseverance and prayer. God may correct a wrong immediately, but He often asks His followers to be patient, which compels believers to persist in prayer. Christians are to pray when they are troubled and when they are happy. No situation is too big or insignificant for prayer. Christ stands ready to return and judge those who oppress others. Until then, believers should stand firm and follow the examples of those in Scripture who patiently and powerfully prayed.

How should I respond?
God works through the prayers of His people. It’s not that He needs our prayers, but that He chooses to act upon them in His timing. God could reach down right now and correct whatever wrong is happening in your life. So why doesn’t He? Prayer draws us closer to the Lord, increases our awareness of Him, and gives Him greater glory when the issue is resolved. How is God calling you to persevere today? Pray. Who in your family, church, or neighborhood is sick, troubled, or wandering from God? Pray. The answer may not come immediately, but He is actively working even when you can’t see it.

November 6, 2019

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Read – Psalm 119:97-128

What does it say?
The psalmist loved and obeyed God’s law – which gave him wisdom, understanding, insight, and light. It kept him from the wrong path and from those who did evil.

What does it mean?
Today’s passage describes many benefits of loving and obeying God’s Word. Having Scripture as the primary resource for his life gave the psalmist an advantage over his enemies, teachers, and elders. Their vast knowledge didn’t equal insight; neither did their age or worldly acumen equate to wisdom or the ability to understand how God was working in the world. It’s not that God revealed everything the writer would ever need to know; but regularly studying God’s laws and commands gave him just enough light for the path immediately ahead of him. It made right and wrong clearly visible and dispelled his deepest fears. He anticipated walking with the Lord to the end of his life, one illuminated step at a time.

How should I respond?
On what resources do you rely? Are you counting on your education to help you reason your way through life? Maybe you’re depending on the advice of a parent or older sibling to guide your choices. Education and practical experience are important, but they don’t guarantee insight or understanding to make wise decisions. The Bible is the only dependable, infallible resource for life. As you obey His Word in one area, God will begin to illuminate your mind with more insight and understanding to guide you (John 7:17). In what situation or relationship do you need God’s wisdom? Search His Word today – He will give you the understanding to know right from wrong and the discernment to determine what’s good from what’s best.

November 5, 2019

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Read – Psalm 119:65-96

What does it say?
The psalmist was afflicted and waited for God’s comfort. He knew that God was faithful and compassionate; he put his hope, trust, and obedience in God’s eternal Word.

What does it mean?
The psalmist had somehow strayed from God and found himself severely persecuted by his enemies. His troubles drove Him to God and to God’s Word, where he was reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness and compassion. The writer came to realize that it was the goodness and faithfulness of God that had allowed his affliction. Without it, he may have remained disobedient to God and unchanged in his character. He looked to the timeless reliability of Scripture to determine his beliefs and responses rather than to his temporary circumstances. Both God and His Word can be trusted.

How should I respond?
We often define God’s faithfulness as immediate deliverance from anything that makes us uncomfortable. However, God might allow distress to come into your life to change your course, mold your character, or bring you back to dependence on Him. The value in any kind of suffering is its ability to make you look outside of yourself. Anything that drives you to God and His Word has merit – even if it’s painful. Where are you currently looking for hope and comfort? Will you allow Scripture to direct your thoughts and emotions? God’s Word is dependable, no matter what situation you’re in today.

November 4, 2019

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Read – James 4

What does it say?
Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. The Lord comes near to those who submit to Him and lifts up those who humble themselves.

What does it mean?
Jewish believers were being persecuted for their faith, but they faced another danger by allowing their hearts to be polluted by envy and wicked desires. James told them clearly that believers who live for things of the world align themselves against God. Trying to fulfill their own desires at any cost had opened a window for quarrels, slander, and boasting among God’s people! But God offers a solution for the polluted heart: grace. God promised to lift up those who humble themselves by repenting, submitting to Him, resisting the devil, and depending on Him for the future.

How should I respond?
The modern church has suffered far more from battles within its walls than from attacks from without. Church wars begin when believers fail to protect their hearts from ungodly influences. Christians cannot live for worldly fulfillment and claim devotion to God; they must choose one or the other. What evidence indicates that your heart has been polluted by the world’s ideas: gossip, pride, or a feud with another believer? The first step to a clean heart is humbly submitting to God and forsaking anything that gets in the way of complete allegiance to Christ. Will you rely on His grace today?

November 3, 2019

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Read – James 3

What does it say?
The mature person controls his or her tongue and keeps the entire body in check.

What does it mean?
Hurtful, harsh, and judgmental words are products of uncontrolled speech. Once again, James offered practical examples to show how dangerous the tongue can be. The words people speak can determine their course in life just as a rudder or a bridle determines the destination of the one controlling it. Trying to praise God and gossip simultaneously are as unnatural as salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring. A Christian’s mind and mouth should be subject to God’s wisdom, never allowing either to be influenced by Satan. A mature believer doesn’t tear others down, but looks for ways to build others up when they speak.

How should I respond?
The old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all,” speaks volumes. In the heat of the moment, we’ve all said things that we didn’t mean. If you don’t think before you speak, you’ll regret unkind words that can’t be retrieved. Who has been hurt by your words this week? Today can be the day that you restore that relationship. How can your words be like a spring of fresh water to someone hurting today? Ask God to help tame your tongue and use it for His glory and purpose. Determine right now to end today with no regrets about anything you say.

November 2, 2019

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Read – James 2

What does it say?
Believers should not show favoritism. They should have the kind of faith that produces good deeds.

What does it mean?
After his discussion on mature faith, James offered practical examples to illustrate what that should look like. Truly following Jesus impacts every area of life and drives believers to engage in the lives of other people just as Jesus did. Shallow faith is more impressed by outward appearance and success than by what is happening in a person’s heart. There is an outward evidence of faith, but it’s what a person does, not how he looks or what he says. Healthy faith expresses itself in actions that build others up and honor Christ. Good works and faith cannot be separated; they are proof that a person is right with God.

How should I respond?
According to today’s passage, is your faith healthy, weak, or dead? Healthy faith in Christ should stretch outside the walls of your church and home. The challenge is simple – go out of your way to put what you believe into action this week. Be alert to moments when you start to show favoritism to the people who are most like you. Look for ways to share your faith and show your faith to all kinds of people through actions that honor God. How will you activate your faith through obedience this week?

November 1, 2019

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Read – James 1

What does it say?
James opened his letter with short discussions on trials and temptations, obedience to the Word, and pure religion.

What does it mean?
James wrote to encourage the Jewish Christians who had been scattered when persecution of the church began (Acts 8:1, 4). He wanted them to look at every trial and temptation through the lens of godly wisdom. The tough times they were experiencing would serve to refine their character and make them spiritually mature if they yielded their hearts and minds to the Lord. The advice James offered was honest and to the point: don’t just listen to what God says … trust Him enough to do what He says!

How should I respond?
No experience in the life of a believer should ever be wasted. Even the most difficult trial or toughest temptation can strengthen your faith and develop Christ-like character if you completely surrender to God. In what area of your life do you need to exercise steadfast faith this week? Search God’s Word for wisdom on how to handle the issue, and then follow through by doing what it says. God has allowed whatever you’re currently facing, so trust Him to use it in your life to bring you to spiritual maturity. Don’t waste one moment today, but look at each obstacle and remember that an untested faith will be a shallow faith.

October 31, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 12:14-13:25

What does it say?
Believers are equipped with everything good for doing God’s will.

What does it mean?
Hebrews closes with reminders of how to demonstrate the difference that Jesus has made in various areas of life. The author covers everything from marriage to finances to caring for the poor and those in prison. But doing God’s will is not simply good behavior for the sake of being good. When spiritual leaders obey these instructions, the world sees the difference that Jesus makes in a life and in a church family. Likewise, the church is to care for and encourage pastors and leaders. Followers of Christ are given the ability to behave and talk in a way that separates them from the world because they serve the God who judges the world and who gave Himself to save it.

How should I respond?
Jesus commands His followers to be different from the world. These commands come with the ability to obey them through the power of the Holy Spirit. How is the Jesus difference evident in your marriage, finances, or church life? Truly putting your heart into obeying all these instructions will create a distinct difference between your behavior and that of your neighbors. Many times, though, we’re hesitant to get outside the norms of what’s culturally acceptable; we shrink back from being rejected for our faith. Ask God to lead you to do what’s within His will. How will you show the Jesus difference today?

October 30, 2019

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Read – Psalm 119:33-64

What does it say?
The psalmist asked the Lord to give him understanding and turn his heart toward God’s statutes. He obeyed God’s commands and found comfort in His promises and laws.

What does it mean?
The writer of Psalm 119 understood the importance of reading God’s Word. His desire to know what it said went deeper than learning mere facts about God; He wanted to understand what Scripture meant so he could fulfill its intension in every aspect of his life. As he honored God’s laws, he turned from selfish pursuits and desired to live for purposes that held eternal value. Although obeying God didn’t cause his problems to end, the comfort he found in God’s promises gave him enduring hope.

How should I respond?
What was your motivation for reading this devotion? Were you hoping to solve a problem, to find comfort, or to feel closer to God? While all of those things are good, today’s passage challenges us to read God’s Word in order to act on what it says. Life change begins to take place as you gain understanding of Scripture, heed its warnings, and obey its commands. The results fall in place like toppling a line of dominoes – you grow closer to God, you learn how to solve various problems, you find comfort and hope, etc. Ask God to give you understanding and eternal perspective as you read and study His Word, and then act on the truth He reveals. Reading the Bible is more than a good habit – it is transforming.

October 29, 2019

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Read – Psalm 119:1-32

What does it say?
Those who meditate on God’s Word and live according to its commands find counsel, strength, joy, and freedom.

What does it mean?
The sole theme of Psalm 119, the longest prayer in the Bible, is the Word of God. An acrostic psalm, it uses eight stanzas for each of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet to exalt Scripture. The synonyms for God’s Word in today’s passage (law, precepts, statutes, commands, and decrees) express different aspects of His Word. In addition, several facets of God’s work in the believer’s life are addressed (cleansing, instructing, strengthening, and defending). The psalmist’s deep love for God’s law led to his commitment to internalize its contents. He didn’t find God’s Word to be restrictive; rather it offered the freedom of a life without regrets and was a continual source of joy.

How should I respond?
People often view the Bible as a book that limits their freedom to do as they wish, but the only thing that Scripture restricts is sin. It is sin, along with its consequences and guilt, that confines us (2 Peter 2:19). God’s Word is a roadmap to a rewarding life and a foundation on which to build a life free of regret. Are you resolved to know and follow God’s ways? Make a commitment to read the Bible each day and meditate on what it means and how you should respond to its warnings and instructions. Ask God for a passion for His Word. God’s Word is truth which gives freedom to the soul (John 8:32).

October 28, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 12:1-13

What does it say?
Believers should throw off sin, fix their eyes on Jesus, and accept God’s discipline as true sons.

What does it mean?
The author compared living a life of faith in Jesus to running a race. It’s imperative for Christians to focus on Jesus during this race because He is both the goal and the source of encouragement for the Christian life. Believers are to get rid of distractions and sin, just as a runner gets rid of extra weight in order to run more efficiently. Sometimes it takes God’s discipline to remove sin hindering a believer’s performance. God loves His children and wants them to be holy, as He is. Even though it’s painful, discipline is proof of legitimacy. The end results are righteousness and peace.

How should I respond?
If you ever wanted proof that following Jesus isn’t always easy, here it is. A runner trains for a marathon to meet a goal, not because it’s easy. The aim of our long, tough “race” is to reflect God’s holiness. What sin or distraction is weighing you down and keeping you from living more effectively for Christ? Is your goal to know Him better so that you reflect His character? If not, God loves you enough to discipline you. He may cause you temporary pain in order to keep you on track. Get rid of anything unhealthy that keeps you from focusing on Christ. As you go out today, remember – you’re in training!

October 27, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 11

What does it say?
The writer recounts great heroes of faith from Israel’s history.

What does it mean?
Faith is defined as being confident that what we hope for is going to happen and being certain that things we cannot see are reality. Faith believes what God says because of who He is. The first step of faith is to understand that God created the universe and all that’s in it. If God is Creator, certainly He has authority to be Lord. This chapter is filled with names of those who chose to trust God and act in obedience to what He said. They were just regular men and women with real challenges and weaknesses. They are not remembered because they were great people but because they possessed great faith.

How should I respond?
Blockbuster superhero movies open to huge success every summer. We love the idea of people being the best version of humanity and doing extraordinary things. The lives of God’s superheroes are evidence that God is trustworthy in any and every circumstance. In what area of your life is God urging you to display great faith? Which person in today’s passage is an encouragement to your faith in your current situation? As you trust God and obey His Word, your faith will grow – and you’ll become the best version of yourself. Who will remember you as their hero of faith?

October 26, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 10

What does it say?
Christ’s sacrifice allows believers to enter God’s presence and experience His faithfulness.

What does it mean?
The writer of Hebrews has reached a crescendo in his argument that Jesus is both High Priest and Mediator of a better covenant than Israel had under Moses. He now shifts the focus to how these facts should affect the habits of a believer. First, spending time in the presence of God through prayer and reading His Word develops steadfast faith. Christ’s followers are also to spend time together, encouraging each other to avoid deliberate sin and to look for opportunities to show the love of Christ by doing good deeds. Finally, the habit of reflecting on God’s past faithfulness produces perseverance. Believers should constantly move forward in their faith. Those who live by faith move forward, not back.

How should I respond?
We’re bombarded with advice on how to develop better eating and exercise habits. Experts say that it takes only three weeks to change a habit. Still, it always seems easier to develop bad habits rather than good ones. What good spiritual habits from today’s passage do you practice? Which ones do you need to foster? A healthy body requires healthy habits. The same is true if you want to maintain a healthy faith. Choose something from today’s passage and commit to doing it for three weeks. You’ll have a new habit, and your spiritual health will flourish!

October 25, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 9

What does it say?
The writer compared the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries along with the sacrifices made in them.

What does it mean?
God is holy, and people are sinful. A blood sacrifice is required for sinful people to enter the presence of a holy God. Throughout the Old Testament, the high priest would offer the blood of animals for Israel’s sins. These sacrifices covered their sins but couldn’t remove them or give the worshipper a clear conscience. They were just a shadow of the true sacrifice, the blood of Jesus Christ. The person who claims Jesus’ sacrifice as his or her own can live in freedom, waiting for His return. Forgiveness of sin comes only through the blood of Jesus.

How should I respond?
At some point in life we’ve all been labeled: cool, geek, math nerd, soccer mom, etc. But no matter what group you fall into, God categorizes all people as sinners in need of forgiveness. Does the mention of blood in the Bible make you uneasy? Thinking about the blood Jesus shed on the Cross in payment for your sin should flood your heart with gratitude and a desire to please Him. Have you accepted God’s forgiveness for your sin based on Jesus’ sacrifice? If so, you have another label … child of God!

October 24, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 8

What does it say?
The New Covenant, mediated by Christ, is superior to the Old Covenant, mediated by Moses.

What does it mean?
This group of Jewish Christians longed for the comfort of the familiar – the same tabernacle, laws, and sacrifices. The writer of Hebrews has arrived at the main point of his letter: the New Covenant is superior to their old way of life. The law under Moses was written on stone tablets and required strict obedience. The New Covenant is internalized, written on the heart of each believer and unconditionally based on God’s grace, not one’s ability to keep the law. The first covenant is obsolete; it was time to move forward.

How should I respond?
Under which covenant are you living? Striving to keep the Old Covenant is an attempt to gain God’s acceptance by what you do externally: volunteering, giving money, or simply attending church. There’s a better way. Entering into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ isn’t about what you do, but about what Jesus did on the Cross. Are God’s laws written on your mind, giving you knowledge and direction about His will? Is God’s law written on your heart, giving you the desire to follow His will? As you follow His will, the Holy Spirit will urge you to move ahead in areas of your faith that need greater maturity.

October 23, 2019

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Read – Psalms 117-118

What does it say?
In Psalm 117, all people are called to praise God for His loyal love and His enduring truth. Psalm 118 speaks of the vital stone in God’s building, rejected by men but chosen by the Lord.

What does it mean?
Psalm 118 is a messianic psalm that looks forward to Jesus Christ who perfectly demonstrated God’s truth and love described in Psalm 117. God’s people can praise His unfailing love and faithfulness and His enduring truth. As the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds praised Him, reciting Psalm 118:25-26: “Hosanna [Save us]! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11). Later that week, Jesus applied verses 23 and 24 to Himself – the Stone the builders rejected was the One chosen by God. However, the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus. They had no idea that they were looking at their long-awaited Messiah and King – God’s love and truth embodied in the Person of Jesus Christ.

How should I respond?
Two thousand years later, reactions to Jesus remain the same. Some have trusted Him for their salvation while others have rejected Him. Which group are you in? Have you experienced the unfailing love of Jesus Christ? How have you seen His truth revealed in your heart through Scripture and the teaching of the Holy Spirit? As a believer, God’s love and truth now resides within you. Look at people today through His eyes. Only the truth found in Christ can set them free from the power of sin. He loves them deeply, just as He loves you. Who will you tell today about His unfailing love and faithfulness?

October 22, 2019

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Read – Psalms 115-116

What does it say?
The man-made idols of the nations were lifeless, but the God of Heaven was Israel’s help and shield. The psalmist praised God’s grace, righteousness, and compassion.

What does it mean?
These psalms were traditionally sung by Israel at Passover. These passages reminded God’s people that they were different from the surrounding nations because their God was the Creator of Heaven and Earth. All glory belongs to Him now and forever. His love and faithfulness should have motivated them to trust and obey Him completely. Jesus sang Psalm116 along with His disciples at His Last Supper, knowing that the time of His death was near. He lifted up “the cup of salvation,” and a short time later He graciously and compassionately completed the work God had given Him to do by His willingness to die for the sins of the world on the Cross.

How should I respond?
In current society, there appears to be an all-out effort to remove any traces of God – as revealed in Scripture – from the government, schools, and justice system. You can’t change the world, but God can change you. Believers should be different because our God is Creator, Savior, Lord, and will one day reign on the earth as King. Because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, you can be free from the fear of death. In what ways have you responded to Him in trust and obedience? How can you show your gratitude for His grace, righteousness, and compassion today?

October 21, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 7

What does it say?
The priesthood of Jesus is compared with that of Melchizedek.

What does it mean?
The person of Melchizedek is a mysterious figure in the Old Testament. He was both the king and priest of Salem, but there is no record of either his birth or his death. Scripture does say that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, and he, in turn, blessed Abraham. Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron and the Levitical priests. Jesus is both King and Priest, superior to earthly priests in every way. Because His priesthood is permanent, holy, blameless, pure and perfect, He is able to “save completely” any and all who come to God through Him.| How should I respond?
We live in a fast-paced society. Americans seem to want everything either mobile or to go. But some things require us to slow down and take a deeper look. When was the last time you stopped to think about the character traits of Christ and praise Him for who He is? Jesus is able to “save completely” and meet the needs in your life because of who He is. Read verses 24-28 again, focusing on the unique character of Christ. Before you ask God to bless your busy day, slow down and meditate on the only One who could take the punishment for your sin. He is worthy of our praise, both publicly and privately.

October 20, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 5:11-6:20

What does it say?
The author challenged his readers to leave the elementary teachings of Scripture and go on to spiritual maturity in Christ.

What does it mean?
The writer addressed the spiritually arrested condition that was rampant among these Hebrew believers. They need to move beyond the foundational doctrines of faith. It’s not a command to know more but to apply what they have already learned and build upon those truths. Greater spiritual maturity should be the goal of all Christians, no matter what their stage of development. It’s impossible to remain a sluggish believer when anchored in God’s Word and acting in faith on His promises.

How should I respond?
It’s sad when a child doesn’t grow physically, mentally, or emotionally; the same is true when a believer doesn’t mature in his or her faith. Spiritual maturity isn’t in the knowing but in the doing. In what area of your life do you need to do what God has revealed in His Word? In which of the doctrines listed at the beginning of this passage are you ready to move on to greater maturity? Be careful not to become sluggish or satisfied with the status quo in your spiritual life. There is always more to know about God’s Word and His character. Which truth will you act on today?

October 19, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 4:14-5:10

What does it say?
Christ, the great High Priest, is compared to Aaron, the first high priest.

What does it mean?
The high priest was appointed by God to make intercession and atonement for Israel. He was able to identify with the people in their struggle against sin because he, too, was human. The priest couldn’t overlook sin in God’s people nor deal with it in a harsh manner. The fact that he had to deal with his own weaknesses first brought compassion and patience. Jesus, however, can identify forever with mankind as a better High Priest because He faced the same temptations – yet was without sin. Rather than make atonement for sin, He became the atonement for all sin for all time. Jesus is uniquely qualified to mediate on behalf of all believers with God the Father.

How should I respond?
The desire to connect and identify with one another has exploded the use of social media. The more “likes” you gain on your online status, the more you feel understood. Long before Facebook and Twitter, Christ understood everything about you. There is nothing you have or will ever face that He hasn’t already conquered. With what situation do you need to approach the throne of grace? Jesus is waiting compassionately to talk to God on your behalf. What is your status with Him today?

October 18, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 4:1-13

What does it say?
God promises rest for His people.

What does it mean?
Entering God’s rest is explained by an illustration from Israel’s past. To Israel’s forefathers, the Promised Land represented God’s rest from wandering in the desert. However, the unbelieving Israelites didn’t enter God’s rest due to lack of faith in His promise. The wavering Hebrews reading this letter were encouraged to find rest through faith, which brings present and eternal peace with God. Salvation not only gives peace with God, it also brings the peace of God to deal with everyday life. The Word of God is the agent that pinpoints the causes of unrest: lack of trust and disobedience.

How should I respond?
Stress has become part of the American culture. However, anxiety is an indicator that you’re not resting in God. As you read Scripture, what attitudes in your mind and heart has God uncovered? In what current situation do you need the peace of God? Trusting His promises and obeying His commands bring rest. Have you made peace with God by placing your faith in Jesus Christ? If so, you can experience God’s rest and peace today and look forward to future rest in Heaven.

October 17, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 3

What does it say?
Jesus is compared to Moses and is declared to be greater. The readers are encouraged to fix their thoughts on Jesus and warned against the sin of unbelief.

What does it mean?
Some Jewish Christians in the early church were torn between clinging to the rituals of Judaism and going on to full faith in Jesus Christ. Rather than turning back, these early believers needed to “fix [their] thoughts on Jesus,” stay on course, and move forward in their faith. Only then would they understand that Jesus was the fulfillment of everything God said through the Law of Moses. Choosing to believe anything else was choosing disbelief in what God declared to be true. Either their unbelief was a product of the evil in their hearts, or evil was the result of their unbelief. The deceptive nature of sin hardens hearts to understanding truth.

How should I respond?
What you choose to think about will impact your decisions and behavior. Our senses are constantly bombarded with subtle lies from Satan that can slowly influence our beliefs. So how do you “fix your thoughts on Jesus” and protect your heart from hardening? It’s as practical as starting each day by reading God’s Word and talking with Him throughout the day about every detail. Choose friends and music that direct your thoughts toward God and what honors Him. Where are you getting off course in your faith? Determine to think about Christ today and make a course correction.

October 16, 2019

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Read – Psalms 113-114

What does it say?
The psalmist called the Lord’s servants to offer praise to the One enthroned on high. He recalled Israel’s exodus from Egypt when God delivered His chosen people.

What does it mean?
Psalms 113-118, known as The Great Hallel (Hallelujah) psalms, were sung on the night of the Passover. Today’s passages were likely sung at the beginning of the meal. Even though God is the Sovereign Ruler of all that exists, Psalms 113 describes His personal interest and involvement in the lives of poor, needy, and hopeless people. When the Jewish people sang the Song of the Exodus in Psalm 114, they were reminded of His deliverance, power, and provision. The thought of His glorious presence would surely cause their hearts to tremble in reverence and joy.

How should I respond?
The Lord is not an uninvolved, uninterested bystander to what is going on in the world. His involvement in our lives is reason to remember what He has done and praise who He is. As believers, God has lifted us from spiritual poverty to a royal position in Christ. He guides us through daily life and provides our physical needs and times of spiritual renewal. Think about how the Lord has worked in your own life. How have you experienced God’s deliverance and power? Remembering what He has done should move you to offer continual praise and commit to trust and obey Him daily. How will your life reflect your royal heritage this week?

October 15, 2019

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Read – Psalms 111-112

What does it say?
The psalmist praised the Lord for His great works, His righteousness, His compassion, and His redemption. Those who delight in His commands find enduring righteousness.

What does it mean?
Psalm 111 praises God’s works, wonders and wisdom, while Psalm 112 describes the attitudes and actions of those who acknowledge who He is as revealed in His Word and by what He has done. Having “fear” or reverential respect for God and His Word brings the wealth of God’s wisdom. The person who puts that wisdom into daily practice will experience real joy, steadfast trust, and security even in the face of extreme difficulty. People who set aside time to ponder who God is and what He has done in their lives will know that He is worthy to be praised, loved, and obeyed.

How should I respond?
Being a follower of Christ should also mean being a student of who He is. The more you examine the truth of Scripture the more clearly you’ll see how God’s power and wisdom are revealed in the world. Seeking God, however, is more than an academic pursuit; you gain firsthand knowledge of who He is by respectfully putting into practice what He shows you in His Word. How often do you take time to ponder God? Take a few minutes today to draw closer to Him and experience His presence by saying this psalm as a prayer to Him. Knowing Him better changes who you are and how you live.

October 14, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 2

What does it say?
Everything is subject to Jesus, who is crowned with glory and honor because His sacrifice broke the power of death.

What does it mean?
The first chapter of Hebrews focused on the superiority of Christ because of His deity. This passage deals with the superiority of His humanity. Jesus did what no other human being could do – He took the death penalty for the sins of every person who would place their faith in Him. On the cross, Jesus defeated Satan and released mankind from the fear of death. Jesus’ perfect humanity means He is perfectly suited for the task of being High Priest, interceding to the Father for believers and helping when they are tempted. Readers are warned not to spiritually “drift” but to rely on Christ alone for their salvation.

How should I respond?
Do you feel as if no one understands what you’re going through? Jesus understands you fully. Because He was fully human, He knows how each difficulty or temptation you face feels. Because He was simultaneously fully God, He can redeem and rescue us from sin. He shared in our humanity in order to die in our place. What temptation are you currently facing? In what area have you started to drift spiritually? Jesus, the “merciful and faithful High Priest,” is willing and able to help you. Will you ask Him for help right now?

October 13, 2019

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Read – Hebrews 1

What does it say?
Jesus, God’s Son, is superior to the prophets and angels.

What does it mean?
One main thought runs throughout the book of Hebrews: Jesus is superior to anything. The readers are challenged to follow Jesus, not the traditions of religion. God had spoken to their forefathers through prophets, but now they have heard and seen God Himself in Jesus. Even the angels are created beings sent to minister to and serve God’s people. The characteristics of Jesus in this chapter outshine them all: Heir of all things, Creator, the expression of God’s glory, a perfect representation of God, Sustainer of all things, Savior and Lord. Jesus is God, deserving worship, honor, and praise.

How should I respond?
In our society, many people seek spirituality but tend to reject God as revealed in the Bible. It’s generally accepted to talk about and even worship angels; but if you mention the name of Jesus, you’re labeled a fanatic. Do you consider yourself a spiritual or religious person? On what is your evaluation based? As you read Hebrews, keep a record of the character traits of Jesus. Mark every time the writer says Jesus is “better than.” Don’t settle for being religious when you can have an intimate relationship with Jesus.

October 12, 2019

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Read – Philemon

What does it say?
Paul appealed to Philemon to graciously receive his runaway slave Onesimus who had become a Christian.

What does it mean?
The story of Onesimus is a beautiful representation of God’s grace. Paul showed a picture of Christ’s love as he pleaded for Philemon to accept Onesimus no longer as a slave, but as a beloved brother. When a person accepts Jesus as Savior, Christ goes before God the Father and asks Him to no longer see that person as a slave to sin but as His brother or sister redeemed by His precious blood. Paul was ready to pay any debt Onesimus owed just as Jesus willingly paid every believer’s sin debt on the Cross.

How should I respond?
Do you ever wish you could go back to the past and fix mistakes? We all do. That’s why this story is so personal. It reminds us that once we accept Christ, the past is gone. Have you asked Jesus to cover your sin debt? If so, you can rejoice as Onesimus did that your sins have been forgiven. Take a moment to ponder how much God loves you, and thank Him for all He has done for you. If you have not repented and asked God to save you, there is no better time than now. You may never completely forget your past sin, but knowing Jesus means that when it does come to mind, you can focus on His gracious sacrifice, not your own failures.

October 11, 2019

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Read – Titus 3

What does it say?
Paul closed his letter to Titus with a discussion of the will of God, the work of God, a warning from God, and the workers of God.

What does it mean?
Paul reminded Titus that God’s will for believers is to be obedient to authorities and to be gentle and considerate to everyone. Because of the good work God has done, His followers should always be prepared to do good work for those in need. God warned Titus to avoid controversial issues that could hinder the work of the church. Those stirring up trouble should be dealt with systematically. Paul closed his letter by directing Titus to provide aid to the other workers of God and make sure that they have everything they need for their travels.

How should I respond?
God has graciously provided a plan for you to be free from the guilt of sin through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. This gift should be the motivation for all you do and how you live. Are you following God’s will regarding submission to authority, kindness, love for others, and faithfulness to the teachings of Scripture? Your actions and beliefs will determine the health and productivity of your church. Are you currently a help or a hindrance to your church body? Ask God to show you ways to live out these verses today.

October 10, 2019

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Read – Titus 2

What does it say?
Paul gave instructions to Titus concerning groups of people in the church.

What does it mean?
Paul urged Titus to teach sound doctrine to members of his church. Paul explained how members of the church should conduct themselves and be examples to one another. Specific behaviors are listed for both older men and women to model to the younger generation. Men should control themselves and be faithful to God and their families (Titus 2:2). Women must refrain from gossip and show respect, love, kindness, and purity (Titus 2:3-5).

How should I respond?
What kind of example are you? Are your attitudes, behavior, and speech a reflection of what God has done for you? Who around you could benefit from a godly example? As a Christian, you have the responsibility of living a godly life and encouraging others to do the same. Which characteristics in this chapter do you need to develop? The Christian life isn’t easy. Chances are someone you know is struggling. We can all benefit from someone who has “been there, done that.” Be aware of opportunities to encourage and instruct others in their faith today.

October 9, 2019

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Read – Psalm 110

What does it say?
The enemies of the Lord will be His footstool, and He will rule over them as a priest in the order of Melchizedek.

What does it mean?
Psalm 110 predicts the eternal priesthood of Christ. Christ is depicted as God, King, Priest, Judge, and a mighty Warrior. This prophetic psalm relates a conversation between God the Father and God the Son. David, divinely inspired by the Spirit, spoke about the coming King who would be not only his son but also his Lord. This psalm is quoted in the New Testament more than any other psalm. Jesus quoted from it when He asked Jewish leaders how the Christ could be David’s Son and also his Lord (Matthew 22). The teachers of the law had no answer because they could not understand the fact that the Messiah (Christ) must be both human and divine.

How should I respond?
Part of the prophecy in Psalm 110 has been fulfilled by the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of Man and the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The other part of the prophecy – the judgment of those who reject Christ and the reward for those who have received Christ – will be fulfilled as promised. He currently acts in the lives of His followers as both King and High Priest. Do you know Him as such? The message for us today is clear – God will also come as Judge and His plan will be accomplished. What difference has that truth made in your life? How will you use your time on Earth to make it count for eternity?

October 8, 2019

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Read – Psalms 108-109

What does it say?
Praising God for His love and faithfulness, David petitions Him for help and calls on God to take vengeance on his enemies.

What does it mean?
David opened each of these psalms with praises that reminded him to whom he was praying. He poured out his heart to God in an expression of indignation over his enemies who – without cause – were attacking him and God’s chosen people. David wondered why God seemed to delay His response to what was going on. Some scholars think that the Old Testament saints didn’t know about a day of judgment, so they asked God to exact His full justice immediately. In the end, David did not seek vengeance himself but turned to God for help, knowing that human strength alone would not be enough.

How should I respond?
Are you experiencing opposition without any fault on your part? Your circumstances don’t overwhelm God. You are not alone in the conflict. Even though the situation does not change right away, or if it seems that God is silent, remember that He sees, knows, and cares. Pray, telling Him exactly how you feel, and wait for Him to act on your behalf. Today, will you depend on your strength or God’s strength to get you through? Instead of focusing on the problem, trust and praise the One who has the solution – the Lord Jesus Christ.

October 7, 2019

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Read – Titus 1

What does it say?
Paul talked to Titus about the role of elders in the church and warned him against false teachers and legalism.

What does it mean?
On Crete, Titus was dealing with false teachers who were preaching Jewish legalism and fables. The insistence of some that circumcision and other Jewish customs were still necessary for salvation was causing confusion among the people. These false teachers were not preaching out of concern for the people, but rather for their own gain. Paul urged Titus to strongly rebuke and silence these legalistic teachers because their corrupt teaching and actions were ruining entire families.

How should I respond?
Legalism is a problem in churches today just as it was in biblical times. Cultural and generational issues, such as types of music, Sunday attire, or use of modern technology can be subjects for heated debate within the church. Legalists will argue their intentions are good or even justified by Scripture. In reality, their biblical understanding and views are skewed by pride and personal convictions. Often these attitudes lead to anger, frustration, and conflict. Legalism must be dealt with for a church to thrive. In what area are you in danger of having a legalistic attitude? How can you resolve this issue?

October 6, 2019

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Read – 2 Timothy 4

What does it say?
Paul charged Timothy to keep his head and endure hardship in order to preach the Word, just as Paul had fought the good fight and kept the faith.

What does it mean?
Paul was constantly aware that Jesus was coming back and would reward those who had faithfully served Him. Striving for a future prize from the hand of Christ motivated Paul to remain faithful in His work for the Lord. He compared his life to a distance runner crossing the finish line, claiming a hard fought victory. Paul wanted Timothy to live with that same awareness so he would share in the victory. He knew that keeping eternal rewards in mind would affect Timothy’s attitude toward his work as he went about his duties for the church.

How should I respond?
Have you ever completed a difficult task or gotten through a hard time by focusing only on how good it will feel to have it finished? Like a runner visualizing a finish line miles away, we live differently when we focus on our purposes or goals. That is what Paul wanted for Timothy and for you. When you face temptation or discouragement, imagine what it will feel like to stand before Jesus and be rewarded for staying faithful. Take time every morning to anticipate that moment. Live your day in that joy. Begin with the end in mind, knowing by faith how fulfilling that moment will be.

October 5, 2019

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Read – 2 Timothy 3

What does it say?
People will love pleasure rather than love God in the last days. Timothy was to continue in what he had learned from the Holy Scriptures that had equipped him for good work.

What does it mean?
Paul began his warning to Timothy with a list of ungodly characteristics that will eventually consume people who love themselves more than they love God. These types of people have always existed, but there will come a time when their attitudes will pervade the culture. Although they will constantly seek knowledge, they will avoid the truth. Paul reassured Timothy that the truths of Scripture would teach, correct, and train him even in the midst of such ungodliness. Everything God wanted Timothy to do could be done if he held on to what he knew to be true.

How should I respond?
In a culture so wrapped up in pride, selfishness, and deceitful ambition, it is comforting to know that there are certain important truths that will not change or lead you to harm. /by

October 4, 2019

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Read – 2 Timothy 2

What does it say?
Paul told Timothy to be strong in the grace of Christ Jesus, endure hardship, avoid quarreling and godless chatter, and flee evil desires.

What does it mean?
Paul warned Timothy to not get distracted but to focus on his mission – teaching the truth of the gospel. Paul particularly cautioned him to be careful around people who constantly tried to draw him into foolish religious arguments which can spread like an infection within the church. Timothy was to respond with gentleness, knowing that showing kindness can bring people to their senses faster than winning arguments. Paul didn’t tell Timothy to avoid biblical discussions. Instead he encouraged Timothy to correct wrong beliefs with humility, causing the other person to recognize the truth and turn to God, not from Him.

How should I respond?
What argument or disagreement has currently “entangled” you? Winning arguments by crushing someone else is not really winning, is it? We need to make sure that we are not the reason someone rejects God’s offer of forgiveness. Check your daily conversations by asking yourself, “After what I just said, could I share Jesus? Would it seem hypocritical?” If it would, make it right immediately. Get in the habit of apologizing any time you find yourself speaking in a way that does not show Christ’s love and grace. The goal is not winning an argument, but winning them to Jesus!

October 3, 2019

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Read – 2 Timothy 1

What does it say?
Paul longed to see Timothy and reminded him to use his God-given gifts.

What does it mean?
Paul began by explaining how Timothy’s faith was an encouragement to him during his time in prison, even though Paul’s imprisonment had greatly discouraged Timothy. Paul brought Timothy back to the roots of his faith, reminding him that Jesus took his death on the Cross and that the Holy Spirit provided the power to live for Christ and to faithfully serve Him. Timothy needed to rekindle his God-given gift of leadership in ministry because it was greatly needed by the church. Paul urged Timothy to focus on the grace and love of Christ, along with what Paul had already taught him.

How should I respond?
Any follower of Christ can become discouraged. Discouragement can lead to neglecting the very things that would help you the most. You can refocus your attention and energy by going back to the roots of your faith: spending time in prayer, studying God’s Word, talking about Jesus, and using your gifts to serve your church. What spiritual disciplines do you need to rekindle today? Maybe you need to pray for a specific need, share a hard truth with a friend, or help someone God keeps bringing to mind. Take Paul’s advice and think first about Jesus and the strength that comes from His love for you. Let His grace be the motivation that fuels your faith – regardless of your circumstances.

October 2, 2019

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Read – Psalm 107

What does it say?
The Lord is good! His mercy endures forever. The redeemed of the Lord should give thanks for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds.

What does it mean?
The writer recounted several of the Lord’s remarkable acts for His redeemed people. God was faithful in each dire situation, yet it appears that they didn’t stop to thank Him, to praise Him, or to tell others about His unfailing love. Israel had to be reminded to show gratitude for God’s intervention in the experiences of their lives. He worked in the circumstances of His children to accomplish His plan for their lives. Recognizing God’s loving involvement with a heart of gratitude is a sign of wisdom.

How should I respond?
God cares about every detail in your life. That doesn’t mean that life is trouble-free, but God can use any situation – no matter how difficult – to accomplish His purposes in and through your life. Through adversity, the Lord can grow your faith, your dependence on Him, and your gratitude for His involvement. In what situation have you seen God’s intervention? What has God provided for you this week? Take time today to thank Him and to tell someone else what His great love means to you.

October 1, 2019

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Read – Psalm 106

What does it say?
The people of Israel forgot God’s works, worshipped idols, despised the Promised Land, murmured in their tents, and sacrificed their children, but God was faithful.

What does it mean?
The unfaithfulness of Israel described in Psalm 106 stands in sharp contrast to the faithfulness of God illustrated in Psalm 105. They forgot, but God remembered! The Scottish preacher George Morrison wrote, “The Lord took Israel out of Egypt in one night, but it took Him forty years to take Egypt out of Israel.” God’s people fell prey to the godless culture around them rather than leading godly lives that honor their holy Lord. Phinehas is the only ray of light in this dark account – he believed God, intervened, and was counted as righteous. Although Israel did not trust and obey God, He remained faithful to His eternal covenant and delivered them when they cried out to Him.

How should I respond?
What actions and attitudes depicted in this psalm describe your life – envy, grumbling, disobedience, rebellion? We can learn from the mistakes of the Israelites so that we won’t fall prey to the godless culture around us. As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul lists the sins of his forefathers as a warning not to fall into the same pattern of sin (1 Cor. 10:1-13). How has God been good to you this week, despite your sinful thoughts or attitudes? His faithfulness should inspire gratitude and humble submission to His will. How can your life be an example so that others are encouraged to trust and obey God?

September 30, 2019

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Read – 1 Timothy 6

What does it say?
Paul reminded Timothy that the goals and expectations of a believer should be spiritual, not material.

What does it mean?
This passage is rich with insight on the subject of contentment. Contentment comes from God, not money or things. God is eternal, and material things are only temporary. Paul warned that a strong desire to get rich is a trap that can ruin a life rather than improve it. Loving money is not only foolish; it leads to sin and destruction. Paul urged Timothy to guard himself from these desires, pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness instead. God provides everything a believer has or needs.

How should I respond?
Discontentment begins when you confuse your needs with your wants. Are you content with what God has provided for you and your family? Contentment is simply being satisfied with who you are and what you have. It’s characterized by inner peace, regardless of outward circumstances. Which warnings from this passage is God using to get your attention? What financial goals and expectations do you need to change in order to pursue the things of God more than wealth? Lasting satisfaction can only come from a relationship with Christ; money will never love you back!

September 29, 2019

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Read – 1 Timothy 5

What does it say?
Paul gave advice concerning older and younger men, older and younger women, widows, and church elders.

What does it mean?
Becoming a follower of Christ increases family and social responsibility. Believers have a God-given responsibility to provide for their children’s needs while also making sure that elderly members of a family are properly cared for as they face the challenges of aging. Likewise, a local church body is a family that respects and cares for one another. Older members are to be respected like mothers and fathers, while younger members are to be loved like brothers and sisters. Churches are to be especially mindful of widows. In Paul’s day, many of the widows were without provision and protection.

How should I respond?
There was a time when respect for older members of society was not only taught but also expected. While it isn’t obsolete, it has become a rarity. What is your attitude toward older members of your family? How can you help meet the physical needs of a widow in your church? If you’re part of an older generation, look for younger men and women with teachable attitudes who can benefit from your experience and wisdom. Generation gaps will always exist. Nevertheless, each generation has a responsibility to care for the one before and after it. That’s how you put your “religion into practice.”

September 28, 2019

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Read – 1 Timothy 4

What does it say?
Paul wrote about spiritual discipline and warned against misleading practices.

What does it mean?
Every person has a conscience that is guiding his or her moral decisions and standards of behavior. Paul warned Timothy that teachers with a seared conscience would emerge within the church, leading others to think they could find favor with God by following a set of rules. Because their conscience wasn’t guided by God, their words couldn’t be trusted. These teachers were liars who were influenced by demonic power to distract believers from true faith. God, not fables, myths, or old wives’ tales, should guide the conscience. Paul urged Timothy, as a young minister, to exercise and teach this kind of spiritual discipline and doctrine.

How should I respond?
It’s good to let your conscience be your guide. However, your conscience is only as reliable as the source that influences it. Who or what has been allowed to speak into your conscience? Some spiritual influences are actually a mixture of mystic belief and wrong doctrine. Even within Christian circles, there are those who associate outward behavior and rule following with being spiritual. What do you need to cut out in order to guard your thoughts and beliefs? You will either adjust your behavior to match your beliefs, or you will change your beliefs to match your behavior.

September 27, 2019

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Read – 1 Timothy 3

What does it say?
Paul gave qualifications for pastors and deacons in the church.

What does it mean?
Christianity was new and being watched closely by those inside and outside of the church when Paul outlined the importance of believers’ lives being above accusation, blame, or criticism. If the lives of church leaders weren’t aboveboard, they would have brought disgrace to the entire church and the name of Christ. God holds Christian leaders to a high ethical and moral standard because they represent “the church of the living God.”

How should I respond?
It’s heartbreaking when church leaders disqualify themselves from public service because of immoral or unethical behavior. The negative effect on the cause of Christ is no different today than in Paul’s day. Even those who aren’t followers of Christ expect Christian leaders to have impeccable character. Do you pray for your pastor and his family? What about your worship leader, church administrator, and deacons? Stop and pray for your church leaders right now. Ask God to protect their homes and give them wisdom. Then, find a way to let them know you are praying. It will be a huge encouragement!

September 26, 2019

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Read – 1 Timothy 2

What does it say?
Paul provided instructions concerning the importance of praying for authorities and the role of men and women in corporate worship.

What does it mean?
Four different words for prayer show up in the first verse of this chapter. A mature prayer life is multi-faceted, not focusing on personal requests alone. Praying for others is not only a privilege, but it is also the responsibility of every Christian. Paul stressed the importance of giving thanks to God for ruling authorities and making intercession on their behalf. The attitude of the person praying is as important as what is said; anger and disputes have no place in a praying heart. True worship takes place in the hearts of believers whose lives are correctly aligned with God’s Word.

How should I respond?
Most of us are quick to pray for someone when there’s a crisis or urgent need, but we get so caught up in our own lives that praying for leaders and people in authority can be easily overlooked. How have you prayed this week for someone who has a place of authority over you? Write down the names of people who make decisions affecting you and your family. Begin to faithfully pray for them by name. It’s difficult to have hard feelings toward someone you’re praying for, even when you disagree with that person’s opinions or politics.

September 25, 2019

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Read – Psalm 105

What does it say?
The psalmist praised God for His faithfulness to the everlasting covenant He made with Abraham and his descendants.

What does it mean?
This psalm provides an overview of Israel’s history, showing God’s sovereignty and grace in His dealings with Israel. The psalmist encourages Israel to remember what God had done for them and to tell others. The nation of Israel had experienced firsthand the protection, provision, and promises of the Lord. During King David’s reign, the Levites read portions of Psalm 105 at the return of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chron. 16). Remembering God’s past faithfulness produces present gratitude and obedience.

How should I respond?
Remember when….? That question almost always sparks memories of joy and laughter as you think back on special times. The record of God’s faithfulness in today’s passage reminds us of His love and greatness. How often do you take time to share your memories of how God has been faithful in your life? God always remembers and keeps His promises to His children. How often do you remember to trust and thank Him? God’s faithfulness in the past is a reason to be grateful in the present.

September 24, 2019

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Read – Psalm 104

What does it say?
The writer praised God for creating the earth in wisdom; he then promised to sing praises to God as long as he lived.

What does it mean?
Psalm 104 is another hymn of praise to God for His remarkable creation and for His sovereignty over all the earth. Only the Lord God is powerful and wise enough to lay out the world in perfect order. The God who created the universe has chosen to reveal some of His secrets to His special creation – man – with whom He wants to have a personal relationship. He provides everything people need to live within His creation – water, food, and materials for clothing and shelter. Mankind’s response should be no less than to worship the Creator and Sovereign of the earth.

How should I respond?
The beauty of the natural world can bring an instant sense of awe – seeing a rainbow, a sunset, or a waterfall, for instance. There is no better time to offer the Lord praise than in those moments. Reverence for God and submission to His authority are evident in the life of a person who truly believes that God is the Creator of all things and is the Sovereign over all things. Do you give God honor as your Creator? How does your life demonstrate that He is your Lord and King? Your life will be an act of worship if you start each day in recognition of who God is.

September 23, 2019

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Read – 1 Timothy 1

What does it say?
Paul instructed Timothy to correct those who were teaching false doctrine. Describing himself as the worst of sinners, Paul thanked God for his salvation.

What does it mean?
Paul was Timothy’s mentor in addition to being like a father to him. He opened his first letter to Timothy by making it clear that no one has been excluded from God’s offer of salvation. The reason Jesus came to Earth and lived among men was to have a relationship with those who had previously rejected Him. Specifically listing murderers, adulterers, perverts, slave traders, and liars, Paul illustrated just how far the mercy of God reaches by talking about his own desperate need for mercy. In Christ, he found abundant grace, faith, and love. Paul is an example of a radically transformed life.

How should I respond?
Does past sin haunt you? As you begin to understand who God truly is, you become more aware of your own sinfulness. God’s mercy, grace, and love extend to wherever you are or have been. Family, friends, and co-workers should see evidence of your transformed life once you accept God’s offer to have a personal relationship with Him. Past sin isn’t a reason to live in shame. Allow God to use you as evidence of His love and grace. Who needs to hear from you about God’s mercy and grace today?

September 22, 2019

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Read – 2 Thessalonians 3

What does it say?
Paul listed prayer requests and warned against idleness.

What does it mean?
False doctrine about Christ’s return had some of the Thessalonian believers so worked up that they had quit working. Instead of being busy earning a living and serving the Lord, they used their idle time to gossip and meddle. The church generously supported those who could not work, but these members simply would not work. Paul’s solution was simple: anyone who refused to work shouldn’t expect to eat. He and the other missionaries had set an example of occupational integrity while maintaining faithful service to the Lord, which should not be wearisome for a follower of Christ.

How should I respond?
Most of us stay so busy that we’re in a state of being perpetually tired. The question isn’t whether or not we’re busy – it’s a question of what we’re busy doing. God has given each of us work to do in our home, school, church, and community. Are you busy serving Him in those areas, or are you wasting time with meaningless pursuits? Staying busy within your God-given responsibilities reduces idle time that can easily lead to sin. What has taken up your time this week? If your life is too busy to serve God according to His standards, then you are too busy! What is God prompting you to change today?

September 21, 2019

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Read – 2 Thessalonians 2

What does it say?
The Lord Jesus will gather believers to Himself, but not before the rebellion of the lawless one occurs. Paul gave thanks to God for the faithful believers at Thessalonica.

What does it mean?
The church at Thessalonica had concerns regarding end time prophecies. Paul gave them more details about the coming Great Tribulation, describing the contrast between two groups of people – those who refuse to believe the truth and those who believe the truth. Believers are saved as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit through “belief in the truth.” Standing firm is a result of continuing to hold to truth. God’s grace provides the hope and confidence needed to stabilize believers’ faith and to provide strength to live out His truth. In the end, all who refuse to believe truth will be condemned.

How should I respond?
Busy lives and hectic schedules leave little time for personal and family devotions to learn and discuss biblical truth. With the bombardment of conflicting information from entertainment and social media, Christians need to be alert and prayerful as never before. You can avoid being deceived by worldly ideas that contradict truth by availing yourself to biblical teaching, preaching, writing, and music. Do you consistently set time aside for studying God’s Word so that you can hold to the truths found there? God’s truth never changes. How will you stand firm today on what God says is right?

September 20, 2019

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Read – 2 Thessalonians 1

What does it say?
Paul praised the Thessalonians for their faith in Christ and love for others. The persecution they were enduring would strengthen their faith.

What does it mean?
The believers in Thessalonica endured intense persecution because they had taken a firm stand for Christ. They were not secret disciples who valued the praise of men more than the praise of God. As they increasingly trusted God and His promises, their faith and love for God and others increased. They looked forward to the revealing of Christ in all His glory. However, those who persist in their refusal to believe and receive Christ will face an eternity “shut out from the presence of the Lord.”

How should I respond?
In many countries today, Christians still face intense persecution for their faith, costing some their lives. Even subtle persecutions, such as being ostracized or being the target of sarcastic remarks and condescending attitudes can cause emotional suffering and discouragement. Have you taken a public stand as a Christian in your family, at work, and in your community? How will you respond to the pressures you face this week as a result of living for Jesus? Whether your trials are severe or subtle, God is at work and will provide the strength you need to endure. Relying on God’s strength instead of your own efforts enables you to achieve God’s purpose in and through your life.

September 19, 2019

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Read – 1 Thessalonians 5

What does it say?
Believers should be alert as they live in light of Christ’s return, which will happen suddenly like a thief in the night.

What does it mean?
Paul had already taught the Thessalonian believers that the “day of the Lord” refers to the time when God will bring judgment on the world. In this passage he gave practical instructions on how to live victoriously in view of Christ’s imminent return. Since no one knows the times and dates of Christ’s return, Paul encouraged them to focus on how to use their remaining time to fulfill God’s purposes. The Christian’s standard for living is high, but when the believer chooses to obey, God Himself provides the resources.

How should I respond?
How does the hope of Christ’s return affect your day-to-day thoughts, attitudes, and actions? We are to live every moment expecting Christ’s return. That means being intentional rather than simply reacting to circumstances and situations. Go back over this chapter and highlight the areas of your life that are inconsistent. Ask for God’s help as you strive for authenticity in your Christian life. What can you do this week to help fulfill God’s purpose and plan while you wait for Christ’s return?

September 18, 2019

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Read – Psalm 103

What does it say?
David praised God for removing his transgressions as far as the east is from the west.

What does it mean?
This psalm is a hymn of praise written by David and expresses the reason he has been described as “a man after God’s own heart.” It is possibly the grandest and most glorious poem of praise to God that has ever been composed. Without making a single request of the Lord, David called on the worshippers singing this hymn to remember the benefits of serving God: forgiveness, healing, redemption, and satisfaction. David’s zeal for his Lord reached a new height in the realization of who God is and what He’s done.

How should I respond?
When was the last time you prayed without asking anything of God? While we may begin our prayers thanking the Lord for His goodness to us, we usually move on quickly to the pressing matter of the moment. Make a praise and thanksgiving list this week, and then as you pray, use those thoughts to turn your heart and mind toward who God is and what He has done in your life. Ask for specific things and thank Him for specific answers to prayer. You might even try to pray for 3-5 minutes without making a request at all. You can start right now by listing items from Psalm 103, and then pray them back to the Lord.

September 17, 2019

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Read – Psalm 102

What does it say?
The psalmist groaned in distress, asking the Lord to hear his prayer and cries for help.

What does it mean?
The writer of Psalm 102 was consumed with sorrow so great that he felt he could not go on; he thought that God might have deserted him. But in his distress, he began to focus on God: His character, His sovereignty, and the hope that God would release him from his troubles. He then reminded himself that others are watching his response. He looked down the centuries to the generations who would know that God has been faithful in the past, in the present, and will continue to be in the future. He slowly moved into the realm of praise to God and ended by declaring to future generations that God is good!

How should I respond?
Do you – like the writer of Psalm 102 – find yourself in the darkest of hours, dwelling on trials that drain your strength? The very last thing you may feel like doing is praising God for His goodness and faithfulness. Yet as you consider His attributes, the glory of God begins to fill your being, and the focus on yourself slowly turns to an outward worship of Him. Praise is a choice. As you live in front of your family, friends, and co-workers, remember they are seeing you worry or worship, pity or praise, sing or sob. Make the choice today to praise God for what He is doing and will do in your life.

September 16, 2019

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Read – 1 Thessalonians 4|What does it say?
Paul discussed the glorious rapture of the church to encourage the Thessalonians to live their lives to please God as they awaited His return.

What does it mean?
The Thessalonian believers lived in the midst of a pagan society that did not have high moral standards. For the Christian, God’s will is clear – be holy. To be holy requires a clean cut with sexual immorality. Living a holy life involves a change in thinking and behavior – it’s walking by faith – believing and doing what God says in Scripture. God has given every Christian His Holy Spirit who gives the power to live a pure life that pleases Him. Paul’s fervency urged them to take already holy, loving, and respectful lives to a new level – desiring those qualities more and more.

How should I respond?
We, too, live in a society with low moral standards. Sexual immorality permeates our culture through movies, television, and social media. The way for believers to live a holy life separated from sin and separated to God is found in the Word of God. As you read and meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit renews your thinking. Do your entertainment choices reflect God’s standards? In what area do you need to act in faith and obey God? As you anticipate Christ’s return, don’t be satisfied with your current spiritual level of maturity. Instead, desire to please the Lord more and more each day until He returns.

September 15, 2019

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Read – 1 Thessalonians 3|What does it say?
Paul talked more about his visit to the Thessalonians and rejoiced over their faith and love as reported by Timothy.

What does it mean?
Paul’s prayer in this chapter provides an excellent model for believers as they pray for themselves and for others. He thanked God for what He was doing in the lives of the new believers and prayed that the Lord would make their love increase and overflow. As he thought about the specific needs of the Thessalonians, he prayed that their hearts (mind, emotions, and will) would be strengthened spiritually so that they could live righteous lives until Christ returns. Their faithfulness was a source of personal joy to Paul and his companions.

How should I respond?
Do you struggle with how you should pray for yourself or others? Even Jesus’ disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Try using Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians to pray more effectively this week. Write down the names of close friends and family members and list ways you see God working in their lives, and then thank Him for those specific things. Pray for their spiritual fortitude as they face daily challenges. Throughout the day, follow Paul’s example and pray for situations that trouble you. The spiritual growth of those you pray for will be an endless source of personal joy.

September 14, 2019

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Read – 1 Thessalonians 2|What does it say?
Paul talked about the trip he took to visit Thessalonica and about his desire to go again.

What does it mean?
The opposition against Paul was so intense that he had to leave Thessalonica. From a human standpoint, Paul’s leaving might be considered a failure. But what was God’s plan? God used this very opposition to motivate Paul to write a letter. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul painted in straightforward words a portrait of the faithful Christian worker. This picture of unconditional love, determined effort, and unsullied character speaks powerfully to every worker who is called to care for the family of God.

How should I respond?
In the church today, there is a tremendous need for faithful workers who are not looking for the approval of men, but for the approval of God. Where do you serve as a volunteer in your church? How do you display the characteristics described by Paul in this chapter? Ask God to show you where change is needed in order to better encourage and comfort those He has called you to serve. God has called every believer to serve in some capacity. How will you be a faithful worker this week?

September 13, 2019

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Read – 1 Thessalonians 1|What does it say?
Despite severe suffering, the church at Thessalonica received God’s message with joy and became a model for other believers.

What does it mean?
No other words have the power to change lives as does the message of Jesus Christ. The Thessalonians experienced that change when they heard the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. As they responded to God’s gift of faith, their lives began to reflect new purpose, new motivations, and new priorities. In fact, there was such a transformation in their lifestyle that they set an example for other believers. No longer bowing down to worthless idols, they now devoted themselves to serving the true God and waiting expectantly for Christ’s return.

How should I respond?
How often do you hear, “Well, everybody else is doing it, so it must be okay”? Most Americans would think it absurd to bow down to an idol of wood or stone. But have you bowed down to the false beliefs of popular culture? How willing are you to stand alone for what you know is right? God gives His children the power to change – to show to the world a faith that works, a love that labors, and a hope that endures. What attitudes or actions do you need to turn from this week so that your life can be an example to follow? Choose to live as if Christ were returning today.

September 12, 2019

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Read – Colossians 4|What does it say?
Paul closed his letter by challenging the Colossians to pray and be wise. He sent greetings from eight fellow believers along with his personal encouragements.

What does it mean?
Paul wanted the Colossian believers to be alert to false philosophies that undermine godly values and truths. As he brought the letter to a close, he added the key to living the Christian life in a secular society: prayer. Prayer is the personal connection between the believer and the Creator God. Believers should be committed to watchful praying – for wisdom, for open doors for the gospel, and for open hearts to those who have not received Christ. However, he didn’t just tell them what to do and leave them alone to do it. Paul sent strong believers specifically to encourage the Colossians to carry out his instructions.

How should I respond?
Busy schedules often cause Christians to neglect daily, watchful prayer that enables them to resist the subtle pull of their culture. Have you made prayer a priority in your life? What can you do this week to strengthen your relationship with God through consistent prayer? Consider committing to memory Paul’s powerful prayer from Colossians 1:9-12. Then use that Scripture to talk with the Lord. When you pray using Scripture, you know you’re praying for what God wants. No matter how busy your day is, take time to talk with your Savior.

September 11, 2019

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Read – Psalms 100-101

What does it say?
Those who know God as Creator can praise His goodness, love, and faithfulness. David sang of God’s love and justice and then vowed to conduct his business blamelessly.

What does it mean?
The Lord’s people should have a heart filled with joy when they worship Him. He is the Sovereign God and Creator who provides everything His people need. Overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s goodness, enduring love, and continuing faithfulness, David declared his intention to honor God by cleansing his home, his life, and his position of authority from any wickedness that might hinder further praise to God. As the psalmist lists God’s unchangeable attributes, his understanding of God becomes greater and greater; in turn, his desire to please God with his life becomes the cry of his heart.

How should I respond?
Believers today can enter the Lord’s presence at any time and at any place. As you draw near to the Lord today, express your praise by naming specific attributes (such as His goodness, love, holiness, and faithfulness) that declare who He is. Praising God with your whole heart creates the desire to please Him with every aspect of your life. As you consider His holiness, do you find a growing desire to live a holy life (I Peter 1:15-16)? What is pulling you away from having a heart completely centered on God? Things like ungodly choices in entertainment or a tendency to gossip hinder your ability to praise and honor the Lord. Stop right now for a time of self-examination to see if there are areas in your life that God needs to cleanse.

September 10, 2019

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Read – Psalms 97-99|What does it say?
God’s people praise the King of Zion for His holiness, justice, and righteousness. He is a forgiving God who answers the prayers of His repentant people.

What does it mean?
These psalms continue the celebration of the Lord as King that began in Psalm 95. Even though these coronation psalms include the millennial reign of Christ, they also declare that He currently reigns over all. The imagery describes both trembling and rejoicing before His throne. People who live in a vital relationship with Him will exalt and worship Him by knowing and keeping His Word. As the holy, righteous God He disciplines justly, yet extends mercy to those who call on His Name. The emphasis on the holiness of the Lord conveys the expectation that His people should also be holy.

How should I respond?
How can a holy God tolerate sinful people? Even believers have difficulty in fathoming the absolute holiness of God. As you read and study His Word, take note of His standards for your attitudes and behavior as His follower. What lifestyle changes do you need to make so that you can honor and exalt your holy Lord? As you pray today, celebrate Jesus as the King of all the earth by praising Him for His holiness, justice, and mercy. Thank Him for forgiving your sins and for answering your prayers.

September 9, 2019

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Read – Colossians 3

What does it say?
Paul wrote about the principles of holy living and addressed six types of individuals concerning these matters.

What does it mean?
Paul gives believers life principles regarding their affections, their attitudes, and their relationships with the people close to them. Now that believers have new life in Christ, they are to set their hearts and minds on things that matter for eternity. Believers need to get rid of the old nature’s attitudes and actions and put on qualities and responses that belong to the new nature. The words “take off” and “put on” reflect the process of getting dressed for the day. Believers should serve Christ in everything they do, including their interactions with family members, co-workers, and those in authority.

How should I respond?
For the believer who truly desires to walk by faith in Christ, the high standards presented in this chapter could seem overwhelming. Ask God where to begin – He knows the area in your life that needs immediate attention. What old attitude or habit do you need to “take off” today so that you can “put on” the new? Find a verse of Scripture that is directly related to your need, memorize it, and envision putting it on every day as you go through the physical process of getting dressed. Remember that you live continually in the presence of the King. Dress appropriately!

September 8, 2019

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Read – Colossians 2

What does it say?
Paul gave warnings to two churches, one in Colosse and one in Laodicea.

What does it mean?
Everything that a person needs for salvation and growth in the Christian faith has been provided in Christ. The Colossian believers had received Christ by faith, and Paul urged them to continue to live by faith in Him alone. As the believer continues to follow and serve Christ, he increasingly learns how to handle life’s pressures and difficulties with the wisdom of Christ. Paul warned the Colossians about false teachers who would try to mislead them by erroneous teaching, which would lead them away from God’s truth.

How should I respond?
Ignoring danger signs can result in great physical harm. Likewise, ignoring spiritual danger signs can be harmful to the freedom you have in Christ. Where are you in danger of being misled in your spiritual life? If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have everything you need in Him. Getting to know Him through consistent study of God’s Word is the best protection against false teaching and wrong thinking. What percentage of free time do you spend in Scripture compared to time spent with television, social media, or sports? How much time will you set aside each day to know Christ better? His wisdom brings freedom and safety.

September 7, 2019

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Read – Colossians 1

What does it say?
Paul opened his letter to the Colossian church with thanksgiving, prayer, and a discussion about Christ as the visible image of the invisible God.

What does it mean?
The central truth of the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ is God. In this first chapter of Colossians, Paul seems to answer the question he asked on the road to Damascus: “Who are You, Lord?” In dramatic point-by-point declarations, Paul explained the supremacy of Christ. Jesus Christ is the image of God, the Creator of all things in Heaven and on Earth, the One who holds all things together, and the head of the church. As both God and man, Jesus made possible the reconciliation between a holy God and sinful man through His death on the Cross.

How should I respond?
Many people view Jesus as just one of a number of great moral teachers. Some even say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” Actually, what you believe does matter. Will you take a few moments today to write down what God says concerning the Lord Jesus Christ from Colossians 1? Pray that the Holy Spirit will deepen your understanding of the supremacy of Christ. How does your life show that you personally know the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of all that exists? How will the knowledge of who He is make a difference in the way you think, talk, and act today?

September 6, 2019

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Read – Philippians 4

What does it say?
Paul exhorted the Philippians to rejoice always, present their requests to God, think about praiseworthy things, and look to God to meet their needs.

What does it mean?
Paul concluded his letter with a presentation of Christ as the believer’s life power. This final chapter is packed full of promises with key conditions that Paul had seen to be true in his own life. The peace of God replaces worry when His children pray, and the God of peace goes with believers who submit their thoughts to Him. Paul had experienced both God’s power and provision for daily living and in his service to the Lord. God would meet the needs of the Philippian believers and guard their hearts and minds if they followed Paul’s sound advice.

How should I respond?
The promises of the Lord are true and trustworthy. However, not all of God’s promises are realized in our daily lives because we often miss the conditions under which they become reality. For instance, if you are filled with anxiety, then pray – but do so with thankful and joyful recognition of what God is already doing. Look back over the promises in today’s passage in an attitude of prayer. Ask God to convict you regarding any area where your heart and mind are not in full submission to Him. Follow Paul’s advice and experience God’s peace, power, and provision today.

September 5, 2019

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Read – Philippians 3

What does it say?
Anything Paul previously considered gain, he now counted as loss compared to knowing Christ. He left everything behind and reached for the prize of the call of God.

What does it mean?
There was nothing about Paul’s old life that he missed. Everything that used to seem important or valuable seemed like rubbish compared to what he had gained by meeting Jesus Christ. He didn’t even think about those things anymore. His priorities were so rearranged that he only saw the call of God on his life, like a runner whose eyes were fixed on the finish line. Fulfilling the call of Christ on his life was the prize awaiting him. Jesus was the motivating factor of all Paul thought, said, and did.

How should I respond?
Your spiritual growth involves your past, present, and future. Think about your life before following Jesus – how has your thinking and integrity changed? Now think about the early days of being a Christian – how different are your priorities today? Continued spiritual growth means you will continue to give up certain attitudes and behaviors in order to follow the pattern Jesus sets for us (Phil. 2). What sacrifices has the Lord asked you to make? The call of God causes you to lose nothing of lasting value but gives you what’s most important – new life in Christ.

September 4, 2019

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Read – Psalms 95-96

What does it say?
Sing for joy and bow down before the Lord with thanksgiving. Praise His name, proclaim His salvation, declare His marvelous deeds, and worship in the splendor of His holiness.

What does it mean?
Today’s psalms describe what true worship looks like. If a nation ever had reason to sing for joy or to declare their God as worthy of praise, it was Israel. Yet time after time, they repeated the sins of their fathers by turning to false gods and hardening their hearts to their Creator and Shepherd. Although they sang the words of these psalms regularly in the temple, they failed to do what the songs said – truly worship the Lord. A tender heart toward God is the result of recognizing His greatness, thanking Him regularly, submitting to His will, and looking for His imminent return.

How should I respond?
Participation in weekly worship services is great, but it doesn’t mean you’ve truly worshipped the Lord. Worship is a lifestyle that goes beyond singing on Sunday. It involves seeing exactly who God is, regardless of the circumstances He has allowed in your life. Like Israel, we live in God’s blessings, but we often stop short of complete submission to His Word. When you sense that happening, find a reason to thank and praise God immediately. As you turn your thoughts to Jesus in those moments, you’ll be reminded that worshipping Him is the reason we exist, and it is the one thing we will do for all eternity. Will you accept the psalmist’s invitation to worship the Lord today?

September 3, 2019

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Read – Psalm 94

What does it say?
The wicked didn’t think God saw them, but the Creator knew their thoughts. The Law of the Lord helped the righteous to take a stand, but the wicked will be judged by it.

What does it mean?
Amidst psalms that praise God’s love and declare His glory, this passage calls for His vengeance. The writer pointed out the foolishness of those who perpetrate evil on God’s people. They acted as if the Creator were a lifeless man-made idol who couldn’t see their violent actions or hear their arrogant rants. In truth, every thought they had was laid bare before the Judge of the earth. God alone can punish the wicked, yet He looked for those who would take a stand against evil and proclaim righteousness and truth. Every wicked person will be cut off, and every evil act will be judged when Jesus returns.

How should I respond?
It can be frustrating to live in a world that acts as if God doesn’t exist, doesn’t see, or doesn’t care about what people do. Our society not only overlooks grievous sin, but also legalizes and rewards it. You may have become so discouraged that you’re ready to isolate yourself with other believers while waiting for Jesus to come back and right every wrong. But God is looking for believers willing to boldly and lovingly speak the truth while there’s still time for people to turn to Him. What evil in the world grieves your heart? How can you take a stand against it today and proclaim the truth of Scripture?

September 2, 2019

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Read – Philippians 2

What does it say?
Believers should have the mind of Christ, doing all things humbly and without complaining.

What does it mean?
Paul presented Christ as the believer’s life pattern. Since the Philippian believers had chosen to follow Jesus, they were also called to have the same mindset as Christ. Even though He was Lord, Jesus lived with the attitude of a servant, looking out for the needs of other people. For these early believers, having that mindset meant living in faithful, humble obedience to God’s will. Paul demonstrated what that looked like by joyfully pouring out his life for the sake of the gospel and for the church of Jesus Christ.

How should I respond?
The mindset of our society is about as far from the mindset of Jesus as it can get. In general, people argue, complain, demand their own way, and put their own desires above everything else. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, then it makes sense to follow the pattern He set. Do you have a habit of helping and serving others, or do you tend to be oblivious to the needs of your neighbors and coworkers? How often throughout a day do you complain rather than pitch in to solve the issue? How will you model the mind of Christ today?

September 1, 2019

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Read – Philippians 1

What does it say?
Paul said, ‘To live is Christ and to die is gain.’

What does it mean?
Paul opened his letter to the church in Philippi with a presentation of Christ as the believer’s life purpose. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important message anyone could hear or give. In Paul’s view, advancing the cause of Christ was his only reason for living. He urged the Philippians to follow his example, to stand firm and strive together for the faith of the gospel – even in the face of opposition and persecution. That mindset had led Paul to the conclusion that it was a privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake, if that’s what it would take for others to hear.

How should I respond?
The world is full of worthy causes that give people a sense of purpose, but nothing offers fulfillment like a life of faith and hope in Jesus Christ. He is the only purpose in life that continues beyond your life in this world. What is your purpose for living? Have you made telling the message of Christ the overarching priority of each day? Reflect on one or two things you could do for the sake of the gospel that you’re not currently doing. Strive today to be engaged with people as Paul was – let your life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.

August 31, 2019

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Read – Ephesians 6

What does it say?
God’s people can be strong in the Lord and stand against forces of spiritual darkness when they put on the full armor of God.

What does it mean?
Paul warned the Ephesians to be prepared because Satan and his forces actively seek to oppose God’s people and hinder their mission. Sometimes persecution is overt and external, but sometimes it is covert and internal. The soldier described in verses 14-17 illustrates what a prepared Christian looks like. He is fully clad in God’s spiritual armor. Completely aware that the enemy might attack at any moment, he utilizes God’s divine weapons: the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and prayer in the Spirit. The prepared Christian puts on the armor of God each day by faith, through prayer.

How should I respond?
Most of our spiritual failures come from failing to take Satan’s strategies seriously. We need to anticipate his attacks and be prepared by trusting in God’s promises, seeking truth in the Bible, behaving rightly, and praying regularly. Being prepared doesn’t mean that you won’t face persecution, but it does mean that when it comes, you’ll be ready to stand firm in your faith. Take a minute to think about what areas of your life are most vulnerable to spiritual attack. Will you bring those things to the Lord in prayer every day this week? He‘ll give you strength for the battle if you commit to putting on His armor.

August 30, 2019

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Read – Ephesians 5

What does it say?
God’s holy people ought to imitate God, living as wise children of light.

What does it mean?
Throughout this chapter Paul emphasized that believers should have the mark of God on every aspect of their lives. Living consistently in the light of Christ will lead His followers to naturally imitate Him as they submit to the Holy Spirit. The pattern of a believer’s thoughts and reactions should be the opposite of what comes naturally to an unbeliever, who still makes decisions in spiritual darkness. Paul compared living in obedience to God with wisdom, and living outside of His will with foolishness. God’s people have the ability and responsibility to live in ways that please their Creator.

How should I respond?
Living to please other people can be exhausting. What pleases them one day can suddenly change, leaving you guessing as to how to make them happy. Living to please the Lord, however, is liberating and productive. His expectations are clearly laid out and they never change. Not only that – He supplies the example and power to live a God-pleasing life that produces spiritual fruit. Which dark or foolish things from your former way of life have crept into your way of thinking, talking, or behaving? Ask God right now to flood your mind with light and expose every dark corner. The Holy Spirit can empower you to live as God’s child of light. Will you submit to Him today?

August 29, 2019

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Read – Ephesians 4

What does it say?
Paul urged the Ephesians to live in a manner worthy of the name of Jesus Christ.

What does it mean?
Paul had just reminded the Ephesian believers that no one deserves God’s love (Eph. 2:3-4), but now that they had received His grace and forgiveness, their lives should be commendable as followers of Jesus Christ. He described exactly what that looked like in everyday life. Since all believers share the same Father, Savior, and Spirit, they ought to do whatever is needed to live lovingly, peacefully, humbly, and patiently with one another – just as God, for the sake of Christ, is loving, forgiving, and patient with His children. Mature Christians learn to discard any attitude or behavior that reflects their old way of life and truly desire to respond to one another with compassion.

How should I respond?
We talk a lot about the grace of God, and rightly so. Sometimes though, we refuse to give to others what we have so freely received from the Lord. That kind of Christianity is not worthy of the name of Christ. God’s love, forgiveness, and patience with us are never-ending and fill us with peace beyond understanding. He wants us to extend the same compassion to others that He has extended to us – no matter who they are. Think of the people who have really hurt you or who are difficult to be around and pray for them every day this week. Ask God to work in your heart so that you will respond to them in the same way He has responded to you – with grace, forgiveness, and love.

August 28, 2019

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Read – Psalm 92

What does it say?
Fools cannot comprehend the thoughts of the Lord Most High, but the righteous person praises His love and faithfulness. He reigns eternally in majesty, strength, and holiness.

What does it mean?
As the burnt offering was prepared on the Sabbath, God’s people were reminded of His majesty and holiness, which appropriately caused them to sing His praises, proclaim His greatness, and consider the things He had done on their behalf. Some of His works were more difficult to understand; but if they could have fully comprehended God, He would not have been the infinite, eternal, all-powerful God they worshiped. Because His thoughts were more profound than theirs, God’s people could place their lives in his loving hands at the start of each day and look back on His faithfulness as the day ended.

How should I respond?
Sometimes God’s ways and purposes are clear, and at other times we struggle to understand. Why would we worship a god we could fully comprehend? We can trust the Lord precisely because His thoughts are deeper and His ways are higher than ours. When you consider how much God loves you (John 3:16), it becomes second nature to surrender your day into His hands each morning. Watch for God’s hand in your life today so you can thank Him at the close of the day. Praising the Lord’s faithfulness and love acknowledges who He is, even when you can’t fully understand His actions.

August 27, 2019

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Read – Psalm 91

What does it say?
The psalmist lived in the shelter of the Most High and rested in the shadow of Almighty God. He acknowledged and called upon God, who promised to be with him in trouble.

What does it mean?
God made unique promises to the nation of Israel; some of those are evidenced in today’s passage. Imagine having such divine protection that there was no need to fear plagues, pestilence, or enemy attacks – as long as they lived in obedience to the Lord Almighty. His promises covered them like the wings of a mother hen over her chicks. The anonymous author of this psalm lived securely in those promises. He didn’t have to run to the Lord when trouble came; he was already abiding in Him when difficulty arose. God didn’t keep him away from all trouble but promised to be with him in the midst of it.

How should I respond?
Jesus never promised His followers lives of ease in exchange for living to please Him; He said quite the opposite actually. Christians through the ages have been persecuted for their faith in Christ. Even today you probably know a godly, faithful believer who has suffered from severe illness or some other tragedy. We do, however, have the promise that the Lord hears us when we pray (1 John 5:14-15) and is with us through every difficulty we face (Matt. 28:20). It’s possible to rest unafraid in His peace, knowing that nothing can touch your life unless your loving Lord permits it. Are you abiding in Him today?

August 26, 2019

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Read – Ephesians 3

What does it say?
Paul was given the mission of delivering and explaining the good news of salvation to all people – even the Gentiles – so they might know the extent of God’s power and love.

What does it mean?
Back in the days when Paul’s letter was written to the Ephesians, God revealed that His grace and power were open to all people who put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. The same resources that were available through the Holy Spirit to strengthen the hearts of Jewish believers were also given to Gentile believers. Although it is not deserved by anyone, including Paul, God’s grace is given freely. The depth of God’s love for the world is beyond human comprehension. Paul was blessed to share this good news with all people everywhere as God sent him.

How should I respond?
Our concept of love, no matter how well developed, is rather small in contrast to the great and powerful love of God. Would it bother you to know that God loves the person you like the least and even wants to forgive the person who has hurt you the most? We are no more deserving of God’s love and grace than the people who we think are guilty of the worst sins. Are you willing to tell them about God’s love and forgiveness and even invite them to church? Christ has given His followers the inner resources through His Spirit to love as He loves. Look for ways to share the good news of God’s love today.

August 25, 2019

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Read – Ephesians 2

What does it say?
God built His church with Jesus as the cornerstone.

What does it mean?
God took His people from the Jews and Gentiles and made both groups one in order to build His church, just as a bricklayer would build a house on a firm foundation with each brick laid carefully in alignment with the cornerstone. Jesus is the true and trustworthy cornerstone, so believers can line up according to His example. The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with God’s people carefully placed to form one strong and sturdy building. When Paul wrote this letter, it was common for Jews not to associate with Gentiles, but Paul reminded both groups that they are one in Jesus’ church.

How should I respond?
Have you ever thought about how diverse God’s family is? He has children of different ages living on every continent and coming from different backgrounds. God wants us to break down barriers and to work together as a unified group to carry out the work and life of His church. How willing are you to work side by side with people who are different from you to accomplish the work of God? Will you reach across the wall of separation that could divide you socially and show the love of God to your neighborhood and community? As you do, Christ’s church will be strong and sturdy.

August 24, 2019

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Read – Ephesians 1

What does it say?
Paul told the Ephesian Christians of God’s past, present, and future blessings accomplished through the loving power of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

What does it mean?
It is astounding to think of how much God has loved and provided for His children throughout history. Before He created the world, the sovereign God purposed to provide redemption through the death of His Son and adoption into His family for those who believe. He paid the adoption fees, so to speak, so believers could have an eternal family and home. His followers are blessed, both now and in the future, by God’s power – first given to Jesus upon His successful mission and then shared with Christians throughout all eternity. Never has a family’s inheritance been so extensive.

How should I respond?
If you are a follower of Christ, then you are adopted into His family. God has become your heavenly Father. What are the quality traits of a good father? Think about that for a few minutes, and write down some of them. Now use this list as an outline to talk to God about those particular things today. As you continue to talk to Him about these things each day, you’ll begin to understand them more deeply on a spiritual level. This, in turn, will help you to hold your heavenly Daddy’s hand as you walk through your life together with Him. What aspect of God as your Father do you need most today? Tell Him.

August 23, 2019

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Read – Galatians 6

What does it say?
Some Jewish Galatians were trying to convince Gentile Christians to be circumcised.

What does it mean?
Even in the early church, there were divisions among Christians. One group was referred to as the “Circumcision Party.” They seem to have been intimidating new Gentile Christians by compelling them to undergo circumcision. Paul exposed their efforts as a shallow attempt to gain converts to their party. Paul made clear throughout this letter, and especially in v. 15 of this chapter, that circumcision is a matter of the flesh and was no longer a requirement as a follower of God. After Christ’s death on the Cross, what mattered was that they live differently than before.

How should I respond?
It’s sad when there are divisions in a church or between groups who claim to follow Christ. We come to church, in part, to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thess. 5:11). All too often, though, divisions arise and cause harm within a body of believers and within the church of Jesus Christ. What differences might have caused a division between you and another follower of Jesus? What caused the division – theology, methodology, personality, Christian liberty, etc.? This week, be open to discussion; ask questions and be willing to listen. Study Scripture so you know why you believe what you believe. Differences between believers don’t have to cause division.

August 22, 2019

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Read – Galatians 5

What does it say?
God’s children should no longer live according to the desires of the flesh, but according to the things of the Spirit.

What does it mean?
The Galatians that felt compelled to follow God by trying to keep every part of the law were actually thinking and living according to the flesh – on a lower plane, so to speak. Believers are called to think and live on a higher, a God-centered plane. While living according to the flesh and its natural desires leads toward sinful thoughts and actions, living by the Spirit supernaturally produces the character of Christ within His followers. That fruit is evidenced by a proper attitude toward God and the proper treatment of others. God’s children should think and live according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

How should I respond?
Consider the nine words that describe the fruit of the Spirit in today’s passage: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which ones come easy to you? Now identify one or more that you find more difficult to live out. Think about how God exhibits those qualities to you personally. Ask Him to help you improve in the areas where you are weak so His character is reproduced in and through you. Which of these words will describe you as you follow the leading of His Holy Spirit today?

August 21, 2019

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Read – Psalms 90

What does it say?
Because God is eternal, a thousand years is like a day to Him. Moses wanted to live his days wisely and to experience God’s love for as many days as he remained.

What does it mean?
Psalm 90 opens the Fourth Book of Psalms, which begins the songs of Israel’s days spent wandering in the wilderness. Because of their rebellion, God refused to allow anyone over the age of twenty to enter the Promised Land (Num. 13-14). All of their sins were laid bare before the Lord. For forty years they moved from place to place watching each adult eventually succumb to death. Moses wanted God’s eternal perspective on how to live out his remaining time on Earth. Even wandering in the wilderness could bring satisfying and joyful days if they were marked by God’s love and compassion.

How should I respond?
Life is short, and many of its days are filled with challenges, difficulty, and heartache. Despite that, you can live a fulfilling life if you live each day with God’s eternal perspective in mind. He sees your life from beginning to end and knows how the puzzle pieces of your life fit together for His purposes. Nothing that you say or do is hidden from Him. Reading His Word teaches you how to live wisely and how to live well so you can also live each day to please Him. As you learn to trust God, you’ll finding lasting satisfaction in His love, despite what the day may bring. No matter how many years you live, they are marked one day at time. Will you live wisely and well today?

August 20, 2019

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Read – Psalms 89

What does it say?
The psalmist sang of the Lord’s love and faithfulness because of the covenant He established through the line of David. Who can compare with the Lord?

What does it mean?
The backdrop of this psalm is the Babylonian exile. Jerusalem lay in ruins as her wicked king was taken captive. Yet the psalmist starts by declaring God’s love and faithfulness. God’s covenant with David’s descendants was not dependent on their faithfulness to Him, but on His divine nature. In the same way, the psalmist’s faith was not dependent upon his circumstances, but was anchored in God’s character. Israel’s immediate future was bleak, but they were under the care of their awesome, strong, powerful, righteous, just, and loving God. Although it felt as if God had revoked His covenant, He had not. Its ultimate fulfillment will be the reign of Jesus as King Eternal.

How should I respond?
Emotions are tricky; they can take us from delight to despair in a matter of minutes, but what’s happening to you or around you doesn’t affect God’s unchanging character. Look back over Psalm 89; highlight the names and qualities of God in this passage. Which aspect of His character is particularly meaningful to you today? Which name for Him do you need to call on in light of your current situation? Remember, your circumstances and feelings may fluctuate, but God’s faithfulness does not.

August 19, 2019

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Read – Galatians 4

What does it say?
The Galatians were like slaves to the law before God adopted them into His family.

What does it mean?
Paul used metaphors to explain two different types of relationships – father and child versus master and slave. Before following Christ, the Galatians lived like slaves to the Mosaic Law and its many detailed requirements. As slaves they had no freedom, and their lives were measured by their adherence to the law. After they put their faith in Jesus, God adopted them into His own family and treated them like sons. A good father loves his children for who they are in relation to him and does not treat them like slaves. Oddly, the Galatians seemed to want to return to their slavery and lack of freedom.

How should I respond?
We tend to misunderstand the true meaning of spiritual freedom. Freedom in the Lord is not permission to act and live any way you choose. Instead, it is living by faith in Christ. Outside of Christ, you didn’t have any way to consistently combat sinful desires, but once you became a child of God, you gained the freedom to choose what is right through the power of the Holy Spirit. Why, then, would you ever choose to subject yourself to sin’s restraints on your life? God the Father has set you free from sin’s power. How will your life reflect your relationship to Him as your heavenly Father today?

August 18, 2019

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Read – Galatians 3

What does it say?
People who lived under the Law of Moses were cursed; then Jesus took away that curse on the cross. People no longer live under the Law, but by faith.

What does it mean?
No one has ever been able to perfectly adhere to the Law (Rom. 3:10-11). To stumble in even one point of the Law means to be guilty of breaking it all (James 2:10), and those who break the Law are under a curse (Deut. 27:26). However, Jesus took away the curse associated with sin by His sacrifice on the cross. Those who trust in Jesus and receive Him have changed lives – lives that demonstrate faith in Him and thankfulness for what He has done. Believers do not do good things in order to be morally perfect, but to show love and gratitude to God.

How should I respond?
You don’t have to do good deeds to offset the bad; Jesus took away the guilt of your sin on the Cross. That thought should flood your heart with gratitude. How can you express that gratitude to the Lord by doing something nice for someone today? Jesus even instructed His followers to do their good deeds privately (Matt. 6:3-4), which guards against actions motivated by pride instead of obedience. What word best describes the condition of your heart right now – grateful or prideful? When you do good things simply out of love for God and gratitude for your salvation, you become more like His Son.

August 17, 2019

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Read – Galatians 2

What does it say?
Paul opposed Peter, who had separated himself from Gentile Christians out of fear.

What does it mean?
Many rules in the Law of Moses addressed ritualistic cleanliness, including instructions for Jews to be separated from Gentiles because they followed pagan beliefs. But even though Jesus had come to show grace to both Jews and Gentiles, a few Jewish Christians still had a mental block against associating too closely with the Gentile Christians. Peter and some of the Jewish believers in Antioch were afraid of what believers from Jerusalem would think if they saw them eating with Gentile brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul confronted Peter about the hypocrisy of his actions.

How should I respond?
Is there someone in your church you hesitate to be seen with – someone with an immoral past, someone who dresses differently, or someone who worships differently? Our Sunday mornings often become rituals, in which we talk to the same people, sit with the same people, and leave with the same people. Why not break a social barrier or two? Introduce yourself to others who are outside of your comfort zone. Ask them how they are doing; then listen – really listen – and really care. God loves all believers just as much as He loves you. Will you love them that way too?

August 16, 2019

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Read – Galatians 1

What does it say?
Paul assured the Galatian Christians that they had been saved by God’s grace, not by how carefully they held to the Law of Moses. Jesus Himself revealed the gospel to Paul.

What does it mean?
For about 1500 years, God’s people measured their morality in terms of how well they adhered to the Law of Moses. However, no one was able to obey every detail of the law fully. The intent of the law was to teach God’s people about Him and His holiness so they could reflect Him and His holiness in all areas of their lives. Paul tried to help them understand that God’s forgiveness wasn’t based on their performance; it came through His Son, Jesus, who took the punishment for their sins. Many of the Christians with a Jewish background, however, kept looking for ways to be justified by obeying the law.

How should I respond?
Even today we might think we can please God if we’re just good enough. The Bible tells us, however, that we all fall short of God’s standard (Jer. 17:9; Rom 3:23). If you are a follower of Christ, spend a few minutes thanking God for the love and forgiveness that Jesus showed on the cross when He took away God’s anger toward your sin. Learning to abound in thankfulness rather than drown in guilt will help you to have the right perspective on your relationship with God. Think of the good things you do as acts of gratitude to the God who already accepts you because you received His Son.

August 15, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 13

What does it say?
Paul encouraged the church at Corinth to examine whether or not they had true faith.

What does it mean?
Paul wasn’t trying to give the Corinthians doubts regarding their salvation. He was, however, warning those in Corinth who had put their faith in the false doctrine being taught. He encouraged a period of self-examination and testing regarding the sincerity of their faith. The standard by which they were to measure themselves was truth, which is found in God’s Word and was observable in the life of Christ. For believers, such an examination should show evidence of Christ-like character and a desire to grow in their faith.

How should I respond?
We’re prone to taking long looks in the mirror to determine what about our physical appearance needs attention. But when was the last time you examined yourself spiritually? Like the Corinthians, you need to be sure you have a true relationship with Christ, not just head knowledge about Him. What evidence of Jesus do you see in your life? Is your lifestyle consistent with the teachings of Scripture? Take a moment right now to look in a spiritual mirror. Do you see yourself as you truly are? Godly character will continue to develop as you read and apply the truth of God’s Word to your life.

August 14, 2019

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Read – Psalms 87

What does it say?
Psalm 87 praises Jerusalem as the city God loves. The writer of Psalm 88 cried to God for deliverance from a life-threatening affliction.

What does it mean?
These psalms stand in stark contrast to each other. The first joyously celebrates Jerusalem as the center of the world and the pride of the people born there, while some have called Psalm 88 the saddest of all the psalms. The last verse of each chapter best illustrates the contrast. Psalm 87 ends with God as the source of the psalmist’s joy, and Psalm 88 ends with darkness as the writer’s only friend. It seems he had suffered a life-threatening illness for most of his life, probably leprosy. Yet, the underlying foundation of his prayer is faith in the Most High, who established Jerusalem.

How should I respond?
Followers of Christ are not immune to unimaginable heartache. Life-threatening illness, the death of a child, and prolonged unemployment happen to believers and non-believers alike. But just like the contrast in today’s psalms, there should be a marked difference in how a Christian handles suffering. Do you have a foundation of faith that drives you to your knees before the Lord? Stop now and talk honestly with God about whatever situation may be overwhelming you. Even when all you can see is darkness, the Lord can be your hope and source of joy.

August 13, 2019

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Read – Psalms 86

What does it say?
Because of God’s comfort and abounding love, David trusted God to hear, answer, strengthen, and guard him. He asked for an undivided heart full of praise.

What does it mean?
It’s uncertain which enemy David was facing when he wrote this psalm, but it’s clear that the personal attack he was under drove him to God. His psalm reveals deliberate focus on the One he was praying to rather than the people and circumstances he was praying about. He found strength and comfort in the Word of God, quoting more than 20 passages from other psalms. He desired more than relief from the trial; David wanted to be closer to the Lord when the ordeal was over than when it began.

How should I respond?
What unexpected setback or unrelenting adversity are you facing right now? The very thing causing you frustrating days and sleepless nights might be a means to greater intimacy with the Lord. The trials of life tend to bring our flaws to the surface because they are harder to control or keep hidden under intense pressure. Will you allow God to show you those things so you can emerge from this difficult time stronger spiritually? Rather than turn away from God in anger, turn to His Word for strength. Mark the passages that He uses so that you, like David, can look back and say, “Lord, you have helped and comforted me.”

August 12, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 12

What does it say?
God allowed Paul’s thorn in the flesh to keep him humble.

What does it mean?
No one really knows what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was; we just know that he pleaded with God three times to take it away. No doubt, Paul felt he could serve the Lord more fully without this hindrance. It’s important to note that God did answer Paul’s prayer – the answer was, “No.” Two life-transforming truths appear in verses 7-10. First, God’s grace and comfort are sufficient in suffering. Next, God’s strength is complete in human weakness. Paul would experience God’s supernatural strength and comfort, keeping him completely dependent on Christ.

How should I respond?
We can each identify with Paul because his “thorn” isn’t named. What has God allowed in your life that keeps you humble? God doesn’t expect you to be great, He expects you to depend on him greatly. In what area are you relying on your own strength? When you admit weakness, you can be strong and rest completely in Christ’s strength. Aspects of God’s character revealed during difficulty and suffering can be learned no other way. You might not be up to the task before you, but Jesus is!

August 11, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 11

What does it say?
Paul warned the Corinthian church about false apostles and teachers who were pulling them away from the truth of Christ.

What does it mean?
Paul painted a picture of himself as a father and the Corinthian church as a daughter he’s nurtured for her groom, Christ. The false teachers were deceptively wooing the church with a false gospel while pretending to represent Christ. They started by maligning Paul, attempting to drive a wedge between him and the church. These men were following the tactics of Satan, who masquerades as an angel of light, to make what’s wrong seem right. The Corinthians were gullible enough to believe anything if someone claimed to preach in the name of Jesus.

How should I respond?
Satan is the master deceiver. He can’t claim followers of Christ for himself, but he can affect your thinking and keep you busy through distraction. He mixes lies with truth in order to lure you away. That’s why it’s important to study Scripture and know truth so you can recognize error when you hear it. What false teachers do you recognize today? What half-truth, compromise, or rationalization are you being tempted to believe? Determine to be a student of God’s Word, because a gullible Christian will be an ineffective Christian.

August 10, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 10

What does it say?
Paul defended his apostleship against the lies of Judaizers by depending on spiritual weapons, not worldly tactics.

What does it mean?
False apostles had cleverly poisoned the thinking of some Corinthians. Paul recognized that the effort to discredit him as an apostle was actually a spiritual battle opposing the message of Christ. He defended his apostleship against the lies of Judaizers, but he did not use worldly tactics. Paul urged the Corinthians to depend on spiritual weapons, such as prayer and God’s Word, and to remove anything that elevated itself against God. Every thought must be brought into submission to Christ.

How should I respond?
Spiritual strongholds in your life start as a thought, then build. The only way to make every thought obedient to Christ is by saturating your mind with Scripture and staying close to God through prayer. In what area do you have faulty thinking? What mental temptation are you currently facing? Ask God to protect your mind and guide your thoughts to truth. Place 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Romans 12:2 on index cards where you’ll see them every day. You can’t reach your spiritual potential until the battle for your mind is won.

August 9, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 9

What does it say?
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

What does it mean?
The Corinthians could easily relate to Paul’s farming illustration because it was common sense – you reap whatever you sow. Instead of talking about how much they should give, Paul discusses their attitude and motivation. Cheerful, gracious giving is a response to experiencing God’s grace. True generosity stems from grace, not obligation or a desire for praise. Recognizing that God is the supplier of all that’s needed to sow and reap generously results in His receiving thanks and praise from both the giver and the receiver.

How should I respond?
Generosity doesn’t look the same from person to person because your situation is different from the person next to you. It’s the motivation for your gift, not the amount, which determines whether or not it’s gracious. Do you think about how you will look or benefit from giving? How have you been generous with your time, resources, and knowledge of God this week? Ask God for the grace to trust Him to meet all of your needs and the grace to exercise your faith by scattering what He’s given you. Who will praise God this week because of your gracious giving?

August 8, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 8

What does it say?
The Macedonian believers and the Lord Jesus Himself modeled sacrificial giving. Paul said that financial giving is related to the grace of God.

What does it mean?
Several principles about giving can be taken from this passage. First, generosity isn’t connected to outer circumstances; the Macedonians gave out of their poverty because they first gave themselves to God. Secondly, giving is an act of grace. The grace shown to the believer by the death of Christ is the motivation for gracious giving. In love, He gave all He had. Next, the amount given is not as important as the desire to give and the willingness to follow through. As always, God is concerned with the heart. Finally, the manner in which money is handled should honor God and be above reproach.

How should I respond?
It’s difficult to feel generous while juggling to take care of your own finances. But giving financially to the local church and believers in need is the responsibility of every Christian. How has God been gracious to you this year? This week? Today? Have you, in turn, given yourself completely to Him? You can’t rightly surrender what’s in your hands until you’ve surrendered your heart. How can you be generous to someone in need today? Developing the grace of giving will benefit you as much as it does the receiver of the gift.

August 7, 2019

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Read – Psalms 84, 85

What does it say?
The psalmist yearned to be in the house of the living God, who blesses those who trust in Him. He asked God to revive His people, show unfailing love, and grant salvation.

What does it mean?
Today’s psalms offer insight into how God’s people should respond to His character. Reading these chapters in reverse order offers an interesting perspective. The writer of Psalm 85 was profoundly grateful for God’s forgiveness, love, and faithfulness; but he also understood that God’s righteousness demanded judgment on sin. Restoration requires repentance. Now look back at Psalm 84. When God’s people lived to please Him instead of themselves, they had an intense desire to worship in His house. Praising God with other worshippers revived the psalmist’s spirit and gave him strength to trust the Lord. Responding in obedience to God’s righteous, holy character meant living under His blessing rather than under His wrath.

How should I respond?
Our society has reduced God to a handful of character traits like love, compassion, and kindness. It’s become culturally acceptable to create the kind of God you want to believe in as long as you’re tolerant of someone else’s view. However, that tolerance does not extend to those who have Judeo-Christian views. The problem with this philosophy is the unchanging character of God. He is just as holy and righteous today as He has ever been. Does your view of God include His whole character or just the traits that you find pleasant? Living in submission to who God truly is will give you a desire to please Him and praise Him with other believers. As you read the Bible, ask God to correct any misconceptions you may have about Him.

August 6, 2019

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Read – Psalms 82, 83

What does it say?
God will preside as Judge over the earth. Asaph called on the Lord to not be silent or still, but to show Himself as the Lord Most High.

What does it mean?
These psalms indicate two threats to God’s people – one from within and one from without. The judges presiding over Israel oppressed the poor instead of administering justice, which shook the foundations of Jewish society from within. Psalm 83 shifts to a vast external threat – a coalition of nations seeking to wipe the name of Israel from the face of the earth. Both threats were of great concern to the psalmist, who prayed in great detail against each threat and pointed out God’s unique ability to save them. He alone can administer perfect justice and righteously rule over the world. Both psalms ultimately look to the day when Christ will return as Judge and King.

How should I respond?
The world we live in presents constant threats. Criminals steal our identity, corrupt leaders deprive us of justice, and terrorists rob our peace of mind. It can be hard to look forward with a sense of hope if your security is based on anything or anyone other than Christ. Only Jesus – the righteous Judge and King – can give you peace of mind as you face each day. How often do you take your personal concerns to the Lord in prayer? Praying specifically takes time, but God cares about each detail that burdens you. What threat to your peace of mind do you need to take to Him right now?

August 5, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 7

What does it say?
Paul, contrasting godly repentance with worldly sorrow, urged the Corinthians to seek God’s holiness.

What does it mean?
Paul’s previous letter to the Corinthian church had been sternly worded regarding sin in their congregation. He was relieved to hear that they had taken the letter to heart and truly repented. Worldly sorrow is simply feeling regret; but godly repentance is true sorrow over sin and results in a change of mind, heart, and action. Sorrow over sin is essential to salvation, but repentance is also necessary for disobedient believers to restore intimacy with God.

How should I respond?
God uses various means to point out sin in our lives. You may feel conviction while reading Scripture, listening to preaching or teaching at church, or seeing the same sin repeated in your children. How do you react when God reveals sin in your life? Do you become defensive, regretful, or truly sorry for disobedience to God? Stop right now and ask God to reveal any attitude or behavior from which you need to repent. Agree with God that a change is needed and follow through.