August 1, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 3

What does it say?
Under the old covenant the letter of the law brings death, but with the new covenant the Spirit brings life.

What does it mean?
Outside influences were pressuring the Corinthians to live by Jewish religious practices and ceremonies in addition to faith in Christ. But salvation couldn’t be attained through the law because it requires perfect obedience in every point, a human impossibility. They didn’t understand that the practices of the old covenant were symbolic, preparing them for the coming of Christ and salvation by grace. God’s law, written on their hearts by the Holy Spirit, brought eternal life and made them a reflection of God’s glory. If the law was glorious, how much more is God’s work of grace through the Holy Spirit?

How should I respond?
Bank tellers are trained to look for and recognize counterfeit bills. Likewise, Christians have to be aware of counterfeit teachings and beliefs. What have you tried to add to faith in Christ to gain God’s acceptance? Relying on religious traditions and practices for God’s approval is counterfeit Christianity. Your church attendance, charitable giving, and service to the Lord are not a condition of your salvation but rather a result. Legalism promotes doing, whereas grace focuses on being. Legalism pressures you to act like other Christians; grace gives you the freedom to be conformed to the image of Christ. How will you reflect Jesus this week?

August 1, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 31

What does it say?
God promised the house of Israel that He would provide restoration, forgiveness of their sins, and a New Covenant.

What does it mean?
The New Covenant God promised to make with Israel is not a standard of conduct, like the old covenant Moses received. It is an internalization of God’s law in the hearts and minds of His people. Under the New Covenant, the sins of the nation would no longer be simply covered by the sacrificial blood of bulls and goats; God will forgive their sin and “will remember their sins no more.” The superior nature of the New Covenant completely removes the condemnation and guilt of sin. The New Covenant will be fulfilled with Israel during the Millennium. The nation of Israel will be restored to God and will again be known throughout the world as God’s people. This covenant will allow an intimacy with God that they could never experience under the old covenant.

How should I respond?
The New Covenant was enacted by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Through faith in Christ, every believer participates in this covenant by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Rather than follow a list of rules, Christians follow the internal prompting of the Holy Spirit, Who discloses the righteous nature of God and convicts of sin. Under the New Covenant, our sin can never exhaust God’s mercy and forgiveness. God is faithful and will forgive our sin when we confess it to Him and turn from it. Once forgiven, He will never bring up the record of our failures again because our punishment was placed on Christ at the cross. God calls us to forgive others just as He has forgiven us. God poured out His mercy on us when we deserved it the least. Who do you find difficult to forgive? Will you share the forgiveness you’ve received in Christ with someone in your life who desperately needs it?

July 31, 2019

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Read – Psalms 81

What does it say?
Asaph sang of how God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt. God commanded that they have no other god, but they would not submit to Him.

What does it mean?
Asaph invited Israel to gather in Jerusalem for a feast and to celebrate the Lord’s goodness to them in the past. The joy of remembering how He rescued their forefathers from Egypt was quickly overshadowed by the consequences of their disobedience. When they did not listen, God allowed them to go their own way. As a result, they failed to live under His blessing and protection. The feast was a time of reflection. Sadly, Israel had to look back with regret, but God’s faithfulness has no end. He still desired to bless Israel and give them victory – if only they would listen and obey.

How should I respond?
We’ve trivialized sin to the point that it’s hard to recognize the devastation it has caused nationally and personally. Movies and television shows glorify what God condemns and even make it seem amusing. However, sin is not trivial. The sins of the world cost Jesus His life. Stop right now and consider how the warning in today’s passage needs to impact your life. Has your conscience been desensitized to sins that are considered socially acceptable? Remember, if Satan can get you to laugh at it, then he can get you to live with it. Will you pray for personal and national revival today?

July 31, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 30

What does it say? |God’s message promised the captive remnant in Babylon that He would restore them to their land where their descendants would serve Him in peace and security.

What does it mean?
Because God is just, He could not ignore Israel’s rejection of His commands. Yet one of the most amazing aspects of God’s character is that He disciplines out of love for the purpose of restoring His people. Because of their sin, Israel would experience great suffering, both in Jeremiah’s day and in the future. In fact, the future wound of the nation will appear to be incurable. However, God promises not only to hear Israel’s cry, but also to physically and spiritually heal them. His judgment on Israel’s oppressors applies to Babylon as well as the nations of the world during the Great Tribulation. God will justly save the nation and restore their land.

How should I respond?
It’s unpopular in our culture to believe that every person is born with a sin nature, but it is clearly taught in Scripture. Like God’s people in today’s passage, we each suffer a spiritual wound for which there is no cure from a human standpoint. Regardless of the fact that we deserve the wounds from our sin, God mercifully provided a complete cure through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who believe and receive Him are no longer separated from God, but are free to live in the peace and security He provides. Have you received this incredible gift?

July 30, 2019

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Read – Psalms 79

What does it say?
Asaph begged God to be merciful and forgive Israel for the glory of His name. He asked the Lord to return to His people so they might be revived and restored.

What does it mean?
Psalm 79 was sung each spring at Passover, and Psalm 80 was sung in the fall during the Feast of Tabernacles. Both psalms recount the devastation of Jerusalem and the defilement of the Lord’s temple – probably regarding the Babylonian invasion and captivity of God’s people. These psalms served as annual reminders that God doesn’t allow sin to go unnoticed; it had devastating consequences on their land, their people, and their worship. Ultimately, Israel’s restoration will come through the man God raised up – the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Only He can save those who call on His name.

How should I respond?
We’ve trivialized sin to the point that it’s hard to recognize the devastation it has caused nationally and personally. Movies and television shows glorify what God condemns and even make it seem amusing. However, sin is not trivial. The sins of the world cost Jesus His life. Stop right now and consider how the warning in today’s passage needs to impact your life. Has your conscience been desensitized to sins that are considered socially acceptable? Remember, if Satan can get you to laugh at it, then he can get you to live with it. Will you pray for personal and national revival today?

July 30, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 29

What does it say?
Jeremiah’s letter warned against false prophets and promised that God’s plan was good.

What does it mean?
While the exiles were captive in Babylon, false prophets gave false hope regarding the length of their captivity. Their teaching completely ignored the purpose behind God’s judgment. Jeremiah’s letter explained God’s true plan – to cause His people to return to Him. Judah had not remained faithful to the Lord during years of enjoying His blessings, nor had they responded to His warnings. Although His people were in captivity, God promised that when the people finally looked for Him, they would find Him. True to His covenant, God was taking care of His people, even though it seemed otherwise. All their hope rested in the fact that His plans for their future were far better than their own.

How should I respond?
Times of hardship are not always caused by disobedience; God sometimes allows suffering for our benefit. God’s plan is always to draw us closer to Him. If His goodness and blessings are not enough to bring us closer to Him, then He may use difficult circumstances. Either way, He promises that His plans for us are always good. What painful situation is God using to shape your character and future? How might you be looking for hope in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ? Ask God to open your eyes to His plan. The old statement is true: God is good … all the time.

July 29, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 2

What does it say?
To believers, the gospel is the fragrance of life. To those outside of Christ, it has the smell of death.

What does it mean?
Verse fourteen is an analogy of Christ as a Roman general leading his followers through the city, burning incense to signify victory. The smell was either sweet or a stench, depending on one’s loyalty to the general and his cause. Likewise, one’s response to Jesus results in either life or death. For followers of Christ, life on Earth leads to eternal life in Heaven. But the gospel of Jesus also means future judgment for unbelievers, leaving the aroma of death. Paul doesn’t view his responsibility to preach the gospel as a profession, but as a God-given task and privilege.

How should I respond?
What kind of inner reaction do you have while hearing or reading about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus? If you are a follower of Christ, you feel acceptance and gratitude rather than condemnation. Your response to the message of Jesus is the single most important decision you’ll ever make. How have you responded? When you stand before Jesus, He will be either your victorious general or your judge. Like Paul, it is every believer’s privilege to tell the story of Jesus. To whom is God prompting you to share the gospel?

July 29, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 28

What does it say?
Hananiah prophesied that the yoke of Babylon would be broken within two years. Jeremiah said that Hananiah’s life would end for preaching rebellion against the Lord.

What does it mean?
It wasn’t difficult for Hananiah to persuade people to believe his lies; it was what they wanted to hear. But claiming to speak in the name of the Lord is a serious matter. There was only one way to prove that any prophet was truly a prophet of the Lord – what he preached had to come true. Jeremiah didn’t respond on his own to Hananiah’s challenge or dramatic breaking of the wooden yoke. Instead, he waited for God to send a message. Hananiah’s death, coming two months later, exposed him as a false prophet and proved Jeremiah to be the true prophet of the Lord.

How should I respond?
Our culture challenges God’s Word in some way every day. While standing for truth is important, how you do it may determine the impact of your words. First, make sure your convictions are based on scriptural commands and principles, not your own opinions or wishes. Then pray for discernment to know when to speak up and the boldness to do so. Those who challenge God’s Word often seem to have louder and more influential voices than ours. Just know that God will hold accountable anyone who challenges Him. What message from God’s Word do you need to pass along today?

July 28, 2019

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Read – 2 Corinthians 1

What does it say?
Paul praised God as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. He trusted God for future deliverance because He had delivered him before.

What does it mean?
Rather than being exempt from suffering, followers of Christ have a source of great comfort in the midst of it. Experiencing trouble in life gives opportunity to trust in God. God’s consolation increases as the difficulty increases. Believers who accept God’s comfort have a greater capacity to extend that same comfort to others. Paul had personally experienced God’s assuring presence in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. But rather than question why God had allowed such hardship, Paul placed his hope entirely in God for deliverance.

How should I respond?
Trouble is just part of life (Job 5:7), but you can experience indescribable peace in the midst of sorrow by being open to God’s comfort. What circumstance is currently bringing you pain? How has it driven you to trust God more? How could you use difficulty from your life to help someone else through a tragedy or hardship? If you’ve experienced cancer, unemployment, or the loss of a spouse, then you can empathize with someone facing the same thing today. The more you allow God to comfort you, the more He’ll use you as a source of His comfort.

July 28, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 27

What does it say?
God told Jeremiah to give a message to the people of Judah and her king: they must submit to Nebuchadnezzar or be destroyed.

What does it mean?
The Lord instructed Jeremiah to go to extreme measures to get Judah’s attention. Because their focus had been on false prophets instead of the Lord, He told them to do the unimaginable – submit to the pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar. It definitely did not make sense to them at that time, but God had a bigger plan. He was going to allow painful circumstances in the lives of His people to correct their theology and restore their relationship with Him. As Creator, God can do as He pleases, but His actions were based on love, not vindictiveness.

How should I respond?
Everything that touches your life has been sifted through the loving hands of God the Father. While He is not the cause of all painful circumstances, He has allowed them. When you can’t see God’s purpose, trust His heart. He loves you and views your life from an eternal perspective. In order to draw you closer, the Lord sometimes allows trials to shape your character, remove sin, or bring glory to His name. In what impossible circumstance do you need to trust God? Doing so will impact the lives of those around you for His honor and glory.

July 27, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 16

What does it say?
Paul closed his first letter to the church in Corinth by discussing a believer’s responsibilities regarding money, time, and people.

What does it mean?
Paul opened this chapter with the expectation that followers of Christ contribute financially to the expenses of the church and help those in need. The fact that the collection was taken on the first day of the week, Sunday, indicates that giving is an act of worship. Paul approached the use of his time as seriously as he did money. He prayed for God’s direction as he made plans and waited to see “if the Lord permits.” He then mentioned seven friends and co-workers by name. Paul valued his friends and encouraged their service for the Lord, which connected them to him and each other.

How should I respond?
Today’s church still has the same three resources as Paul: money, time, and people. It’s important to pray about the handling of these assets. How has reading the Bible influenced the way you spend time and money? Impulsive decisions can needlessly complicate your schedule and reduce what you can contribute to God’s work. What opportunities has God given you to mentor someone as Paul did Timothy? Every possession, relationship, and moment of life is given by God to use for His purpose. Today, how can you be a careful steward of all God has given you?

July 27, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 26

What does it say?
The priests and prophets called for Jeremiah to be sentenced to death. The officials and the people, however, refused to kill the one who spoke in the name of the Lord.

What does it mean?
Chapter 26 records the response to the Lord’s message given through Jeremiah (Chapters 7-10). The lackadaisical attitude toward sin stemmed from a disbelief that God would ever destroy His holy city or His house. But where God’s people worshiped was not as important to Him as the purity of their worship. Their religion had higher priority than their relationship with the Lord. Although they admitted that the message came from God and refused to kill His prophet, they stopped short of repentance. God had proven to be longsuffering (v. 5) and merciful (v. 19); He would also be just in judging their sin.

How should I respond?
America has long claimed to be a Christian nation, yet each generation turns further from God. National mottos like, “In God we trust” and “One nation, under God” come under attack again and again from our own citizenry. The Lord’s message is still the same: repentance brings mercy, but continued disobedience means judgment. How have you responded? Don’t mistake God’s longsuffering nature for His unwillingness or inability to righteously judge sin. He still sees through superficial worship. No religious practice can take the place of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

July 26, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 15

What does it say?
Believers will be resurrected one day just as Jesus was raised from the dead.

What does it mean?
Enemies of Christianity were claiming that Jesus hadn’t been raised from the dead even though witnesses of His resurrection were still alive. Without the bodily resurrection of Christ, there can be no eternal salvation. Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden plunged all mankind into sin, which brought death. But Christians have no need to fear dying. Placing one’s faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus gives victory over sin and death. The resurrection of Christ is neither a lie nor a legend; it is the greatest fact of all history and secures the future resurrection of all believers.

How should I respond?
Americans spend millions of dollars on products to fight aging and improve their bodies. But everyone succumbs to time and faces the eventuality of death. How does reading this passage about a heavenly future change your view on your own mortality? If the thought of death frightens you, examine whether or not you have acknowledged the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for your salvation. How does His resurrection give you hope and strength to face today’s challenges? The reality of the resurrection of Jesus allows you to live with purpose and look forward to a victorious future.

July 26, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 25:1-14

What does it say?
For 23 years the people of Judah continually rejected God’s messages through His prophet Jeremiah, provoking God’s anger and His judgment against them.

What does it mean?
God had shown mercy to the Jewish people by sending His prophets over and over again. With each one, though, they continued to disobey the law, worship idols, and reject God’s warnings. Still, His judgment was not immediate. Rather than respond to His mercy, they continued to disobey, reflecting attitudes of stubbornness and pride. God’s longsuffering of their rebellion had come to an end, and they would suffer 70 years of captivity in Babylon. After that time, God would free them and judge the Babylonian Empire for the ruthless treatment of His people.

How should I respond?
Stop and evaluate your own rebellion. We too sometimes choose stubbornness and pride instead of obedience to the Lord. What other attitudes hinder you from experiencing closeness with God? How has the Lord put the same message in front of you time after time? Have you listened and followed through, or have you just let it go in one ear and out the other? Thankfully, God is merciful and patient. Because He desires a close relationship with you, He will not allow you to continue in rebellion. How will you respond to His mercy?|Further reading: Jeremiah 25:15-38

July 25, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 14

What does it say?
Everything said and done within the church should edify and strengthen the body.

What does it mean?
It’s important to understand the gifts of prophecy and tongues in order to get a better idea of what Paul is saying in this chapter. There are two different examples of tongues in the New Testament. In Acts 2, God gave the Apostles the gift of languages in order for unbelievers from many nations to hear the gospel in their own “tongue.” It was a sign that God had empowered the message. In Corinth, many believers were speaking in a prayer language that had to be interpreted in order to be understood. Chaos developed because so many people were speaking in tongues at one time. Paul prefers the gift of prophecy, the ability to clearly communicate the message of Christ. God is the God of peace, not confusion. The message of Jesus must be presented clearly in order to strengthen the church and draw others to follow Christ.

How should I respond?
As an orchestra warms up, each musician plays a different portion of the piece of music, making it impossible for a listener to detect the melody. The conductor’s direction brings harmony and understanding to the same piece. Likewise, God never desires chaos and conflict within His church. How are you contributing to order and peace in your church? How can you clearly communicate God’s character and purpose to those in your home, school, or community? Are you contributing to the melody or just making noise?

July 25, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 24

What does it say?
God showed Jeremiah two baskets of figs representing the people of Judah. The Lord would destroy the unfaithful, but would give the faithful a new heart to know Him

What does it mean?
God’s desire has always been to have a relationship with His people. He has done whatever was necessary to display his unending, steadfast commitment to loving and caring for them, even in their unfaithfulness. God made it clear that He would purge the land of evil by removing and destroying those who turned Jerusalem against Him. But God still had a people. The remnant would return to the land and be restored to God. One day they would be devoted to knowing Him with their whole hearts. They would be His people, and He would be their God. There would be no place for idolatry.

How should I respond?
God still requires His people to have a whole-hearted commitment to Him. The Holy Spirit prompts us to remove influences that make us callous to sin. The Lord wants to purge anything from your heart that takes a higher priority than your relationship with Him. Sometimes, there is a gentle nudging. At other times, He convicts with more significant force. He will do whatever it takes to bring you to a place of complete commitment to Him. What is the Lord doing right now to bring you to such a place? God’s love is steadfast, and His commitment to you never wavers. How will you respond?

July 24, 2019

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Read – Psalms 78

What does it say?
Asaph stressed the importance of teaching the next generation about the Lord.

What does it mean?
This is a maskil, or instructional psalm. The psalmist’s instruction was to learn from the past and instruct others. Each generation had a responsibility to teach their children what they had learned about the Lord. Kids who were taught to recognize God’s hand at work in the world learned to trust His power. Children who were instructed in His Law were more likely to follow His commands. If these truths were not impressed upon children from a young age, they would follow their sinful nature, forget what God had done, and refuse to obey Him. To prove his point, Asaph recounted Israel’s long history of rebellion against the Lord.

How should I respond?
As parents, we show our kids from a young age how to brush their teeth, tell them to eat their vegetables, enroll them in a variety of classes, and drive them to endless athletic events. Yet of all the things parents can do for their children, nothing is more important than teaching them the truth about God. Taking them to a Bible-believing church is important, but those truths have to be backed up with practical instruction in daily life and by modeling trust in the Lord and obedience to His Word. What have your kids and grandkids learned about the Lord by watching and listening to you? Be aware of teachable moments today. Tell them how God has taken care of your family in the past. Show them what the Bible says about the issues they’re facing at school and with friends, and then pray with them about those things. If you don’t impress your beliefs upon their hearts, the world will.

July 24, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 23:9-40

What does it say?
Jeremiah prophesied God’s punishment on the lying prophets and wicked priests.

What does it mean?
In Jerusalem, self-proclaimed prophets were distorting God’s Word, dismissing the evil deeds of the people, and encouraging the worship of false gods. The priests in the Lord’s house were also intentionally leading God’s people astray. The spiritual leaders of Judah no longer sought God; none of them spent time with Him or listened to Him for truth and direction. Instead, they invested their efforts and time in making people feel better about their sin. God’s true word from Jeremiah was like a fire, meant to penetrate and purify their hearts. While harsh, it was sorely needed in a city where lies were embraced, and truth was ignored.

How should I respond?
The truth is sometimes hard to hear. Since all truth comes from God, His Word is the standard by which we can test what we read and hear. Any preaching, teaching, or advice that makes you feel better about your sin will eventually destroy you. How might you have accepted sweet-sounding promises and lies over truth? Spend some quiet time with God in order to evaluate the influences on your life with truth from Scripture. Even when it’s painful to hear, truth is for your benefit because it chips away at sinful thoughts and habits, making you more like Christ.

July 23, 2019

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Read – Psalms 76, 77

What does it say?
Asaph declared the greatness of God, who saved Israel from her enemies. Remembering the Lord’s deeds, he asked God to once again be merciful to Israel.

What does it mean?
Whether in good times or bad, Asaph turned to God in prayer, praising His works and His character. In Psalm 76 Asaph celebrated God’s greatness after the devastation of the enemy’s army, which was likely the defeat of the Assyrians in which no Israelite had to lift a sword (2 Chron. 32:16-23). In Psalm 77 Asaph felt as if the Lord had forgotten them altogether. During a sleepless night, he turned his thoughts to God’s previous deliverance. Clearing his mind of the current dilemma and focusing on the greatness of God brought comfort. His circumstances had changed, but his God had not.

How should I respond?
Today’s psalms reflect the reality of life – everyone experiences peaks and valleys. Life will feel like a roller coaster if your outlook is tied to your emotions. When everything around you is in flux, Jesus remains the never changing, never moving anchor for your soul. Are you currently experiencing good times and calm days? Then pray and praise the Lord. Are you going through dark, sleepless nights? Then pray and allow God’s presence and previous provision to comfort your heart and mind. He has come through before, and He is able to do it again. Praise the Lord!

July 23, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 23:1-8

What does it say?
God promised to punish the shepherds who scattered and destroyed His people. He will gather the remnant and place them under a wise and righteous Davidic King.

What does it mean?
A shepherd’s role was clear: protect the flock. The leaders who were to shepherd God’s flock not only neglected their basic needs, they actually put the people in harm’s way. The line of kings through David was now cut off, but God promised to restore that line through a great future King. The Righteous Branch of David – the Messiah – will deliver Israel from their enemies. When He returns, King Jesus will justly and wisely reign over a united Israel for a thousand years.

How should I respond?
Men often fail, but Jesus has never failed and never will. Is your trust and hope placed in Him or in human leaders? Regardless of the care or neglect of the leadership you are under, you can experience the peace and love of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. As the Messiah, He has initiated the greatest rescue and victory of all time – salvation from sins and the hope of eternal life. Have you acknowledged Jesus as your King? How will His imminent return affect your thoughts and plans today?

July 22, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 13

What does it say?
Spiritual gifts are useless if not used in love.

What does it mean?
No other passage of Scripture gives a more complete picture of the perfect, unending nature of Christ-like love (agape). Such love is demonstrated through action rather than simply felt as an emotion. Paul contends that love demonstrated this way prevents the misuse of spiritual gifts. How each gift is used is more important than what the gift is. If believers grab hold of this truth, they are able to love perfectly, as Jesus did. After Christ’s return when all other gifts are no longer needed, love will be the permanent disposition of God’s people.

How should I respond?
Which descriptions of love in this passage are true of you? Where are you falling short? It’s easy to read this famous chapter and feel inadequate if you’re trying to muster up the emotions or attitudes yourself. As you allow the Holy Spirit to control the use of your spiritual gift(s), God’s perfect love will be demonstrated through your thoughts and actions. How you demonstrate love in your life depends completely on where you find it. Have you found true love in Jesus Christ? If so, the people who come across your path today should receive a living demonstration of God’s love through you.

July 22, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 22:11-30

What does it say?
Jeremiah prophesied the fate of King Josiah’s sons.

What does it mean?
God was outraged at the behavior of Josiah’s sons. They were not men of character. They led God’s people away through the worship of false gods and chose to advance their own agendas. Each saw his position as a pathway to fame and fortune rather than as a place of service to the Lord. Kings who ruled over God’s people were to reflect His character. How a king treated the people was evidence of his commitment to God. Instead of establishing a kingdom of righteousness and justice, Shallum and Jehoiakim corrupted the royal throne and left a legacy of disgrace.

How should I respond?
As followers of Jesus, we share many blessings. If we are not careful, we can become self-absorbed with the benefits we gain in Christ. Those privileges come with the responsibility of caring for people who have less and sharing the gospel of Jesus. Does your treatment of others reflect Christ? Or do your actions reflect a person devoted to self? Where are you serving the Lord, encouraging others to follow Him? You can choose either to advance your own name or honor the name of Christ – but you can’t do both.

July 21, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 12

What does it say?
Paul compared the body of Christ, the church, to the human body. Both are made up of many members with vital roles.

What does it mean?
The Holy Spirit gives every believer at least one spiritual gift at the point of salvation. There are many gifts serving different purposes. Each follower of Christ needs to contribute his or her gift(s) in order for the church to function properly. Parts of the human body must work in harmony for a person to be healthy and function properly. The same is true for the body of Christ. There is disunity when one member develops pride over his or her gift or is envious of what another can do. Since God distributes the gifts, they are for His use and His glory.

How should I respond?
Your church needs the specific gifts and abilities God gave you at salvation. You can trust the Holy Spirit to empower you as you use your gifts to minister to others. What are your spiritual gifts, and how are you contributing them to your local church? If you’re not sure, contact your ministry director and ask for a spiritual gift test. They will be thrilled to help you discover your gifts and share ways you can use them to produce spiritual fruit, to share the gospel, and to glorify Christ. The church body can’t function properly without you!

July 21, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 21:11-22:10

What does it say?
Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem unless the king and the people pursued what was just and right.

What does it mean?
The laws of Israel and Judah addressed their relationship with God and their relationships with one another. Their continual disregard for His covenant was leading God’s people to destruction. They chose to ignore His warnings and continued to pursue selfish desires. The complete annihilation of the city would be the consequence of covenant unfaithfulness. Even people from surrounding nations would recognize the ruins of Jerusalem as the Lord’s judgment against His people and their worship of other gods. God’s greatness would be proclaimed, even in disaster.

How should I respond?
God is worthy to be praised, regardless of the situation. We can get distracted by negative circumstances and forget to look for His greatness in the midst of it. Do you limit your praise of God to situations that fit your liking? We can be confident that He is the same amazing God in the good times and the bad. Are you in the midst of difficultly right now, or do you know someone close to you who is? How can you choose to bless His name today, regardless of the situation? Ask God to give you eyes that are open to seeing Him work and a heart willing to praise Him … regardless.

July 20, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 11

What does it say?
The Corinthian believers were not observing the Lord’s Supper as they should.

What does it mean?
It seems the Corinthian believers were mixing old habits from feasts that celebrated idols with the observance of the Lord’s Supper, leading to drunkenness, gluttony, and division. They weren’t looking to Jesus’ example or remembering the purpose He stated for the memorial. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is a time of reflection. One should look back to the death of Christ on the cross; look forward, expecting His return; and look inward, making sure things are right with God and other believers. Those who partake when they know they have sin in their lives risk God’s judgment.

How should I respond?
What is your attitude as you approach the Lord’s Supper with your church family? The symbolism of the body and blood of our Savior requires solemn self-examination. Do you reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and your part in putting Him there? It’s hard to hold a grudge against someone while simultaneously thanking God for such mercy and grace! What needs to be cleared up between you and another believer? Between you and God? Be ready to truly celebrate the Lord’s Supper, not just go through the motions of a religious tradition.

July 20, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 21:1-10

What does it say?
Jeremiah told King Zedekiah that God would join Nebuchadnezzar and fight against Jerusalem.

What does it mean?
Pashhur and Zephaniah wanted God to miraculously fight for His people as He had done throughout their existence as a nation. They failed to realize that previous displays of His power on their behalf were usually connected to their obedience. Presently, Judah disregarded warnings regarding their sin. Although the city and the monarchy would be destroyed, God graciously offered His people a way of escape: surrender to the Babylonians. Surrendering their will to God’s plan would be their means to life.

How should I respond?
The American mindset is, “Never surrender!” Like Judah, however, complete surrender to God is our means to life. Despite His patience, we often remain defiant, knowingly disobeying the Lord’s instructions while presumptuously asking Him to fight our battles. Giving up control of your life requires humility. So how do you know when you’ve surrendered? Can you honestly say that you trust Him more than your own agenda? Do you spend more time fighting against God’s plan or for His purpose? God wants to graciously intervene in your life. You must first be willing to say, “I surrender all!”

July 19, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 10

What does it say?
Israel’s past failures served as examples to keep them from desiring evil things.

What does it mean?
Israel’s history of highs and lows in their faithfulness toward God was preserved as a warning to future generations. They claimed to be God’s people but easily gave in to evil desires, immorality, and idolatry. They even presumed upon God’s goodness. Paul warned the Corinthian believers not to think they had arrived in their spiritual life. The same temptations their fathers faced are universal and timeless. Then, four words provided the answer they needed, “but God is faithful.” Paul gives two encouragements: look for God’s way of escape, and let every action glorify Him.

How should I respond?
We’ve all heard that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Parents never want their child to make the same mistakes they’ve made. Yet every generation has those who fall prey to the same things that snared the last generation. What temptation is currently looming in front of you? God promises that there is a way out. What is your family history in the same area of temptation? How can you learn from their failure or victory? Memorize verse 13 to help when you are tempted. Then, look for God’s way out. God has not promised to shield you from temptation, but He will be faithful to see you through it. Will you determine to turn to Him when tempted?

July 19, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 20

What does it say?
Jeremiah was physically punished for prophesying God’s impending wrath. In prayer, he both complained to the Lord and praised His name for deliverance.

What does it mean?
No one had more reason to be discouraged in ministry than Jeremiah. His prayer in this passage is a roller coaster of emotions. He felt ill prepared by God for the rejection and abuse he had endured and wanted to quit, but he found it impossible to stay quiet. As he prayed for vengeance, Jeremiah came to better understand God’s heart regarding Judah – their increasing wickedness had to be dealt with, but the high cost to His beloved people and city was heart-wrenching. Is it any wonder he lamented being born in such sorrowful times? At the height of the prayer, Jeremiah remembered God’s promises for his ministry (1:19; 15:20), leading him again to worship the Lord.

How should I respond?
Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy; in fact, He warned that it would be difficult (John 16:33). Are you discouraged when you don’t see results in your ministry efforts or when someone publicly ridicules your faith? How can you keep from being disheartened when you’re tempted to give up? Listen to music that focuses your mind on the Lord; nurture relationships with other believers for mutual encouragement. Most importantly, search Scripture for promises and meditate on them through prayer. Having a godly mindset will help you stand firm and focused during challenging times.

July 18, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 9

What does it say?
Paul gave up his personal rights and freedoms for the sake of the gospel.

What does it mean?
Paul’s life could be summed up in one phrase: preach the gospel of Jesus. Nothing else held any fascination for him. Like a world-class athlete, Paul disciplined his mind and body for the race before him. He understood that discipline often means giving up something good to attain what’s best. Paul’s desire for others to know Christ was greater than his personal desires. His life is an example of dying to self and living for the approval of Christ alone. The result is an everlasting crown to place at Jesus’ feet.

How should I respond?
Being an Olympic athlete takes discipline and focus. Athletes deny themselves anything that would take their focus from their goal to win the race. The Christian life can be compared to an athlete in training. God has laid out a “race” for you. If anything else commands your focus, you’ll get off course. What area of your life needs to be more disciplined? Where do you need to give up a good thing in order to gain the very best things? Willingness to give up your own rights opens the door to see people as Paul did. Run your race for an audience of one: Jesus Christ!

July 18, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 18-19

What does it say?
Jeremiah saw the potter smash his clay pot and start over because his work was not forming what he had intended. God could rightfully do the same with Judah.

What does it mean?
The relationship of the clay to the potter is one of total submission. Jeremiah saw that the potter had every right to smash and reshape the lump since the clay did not mold to the potter’s intentions. After all, it was his clay and his design. Likewise, the Lord was justified in building up or reshaping His creation, specifically the house of Israel, as He determined. Of course, it would pain the potter to destroy the work that he had started. God was also grieved that His daughter Israel had become so hopelessly wicked that He needed to crush the nation and rebuild from the exiled remnant.

How should I respond?
Would a lump of clay question the potter’s design (Isaiah 29:16)? Just as a potter forms clay into a beautiful and useful vessel, God’s specific plan for you unfolds through obedience to His Word. Turning away from His commands shapes your life into something other than God’s perfect design, something harmful to you. Because He loves you, the Lord will always try to bring you back to Him through discipline and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He may even allow you to suffer the natural consequences of sinful choices. Are you submitting daily to God’s will for your life? How will you be a vessel that brings Him honor and glory today?

July 17, 2019

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Read – Psalms 74, 75

What does it say?
Asaph lamented the sad state of Jerusalem. He recounted God’s past deeds and called on Him to rescue His people.

What does it mean?
Asaph was bewildered. Jerusalem had been attacked and the temple destroyed. It seemed as if God had rejected His own people. He no longer spoke to them in kindness as their Shepherd, but had allowed harsh treatment from the enemy as His judgment on their sin. Nonetheless, Asaph still trusted God, confident that the Lord could, and would, overthrow their enemies. God has all authority. He rules over nature itself, so He was certainly able to rescue His people. Asaph asked God to remember His promises to Israel. Since God judged the sins of His own people, surely He would punish the wickedness of their enemies.

How should I respond?
We typically think of God as a kind father or a gentle shepherd, but we don’t like to dwell on the fact that He is also a judge. God is the ultimate authority. He will hold all people accountable for their actions – both toward Him and toward others. Today’s passage gives insight to the words of Hebrews 10:31: “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” While those words can be frightening, we have to remember that God’s judgment is tempered with mercy. When we consider God’s mercy, we find a God who dealt with our sin and our failings by providing His own Son as a sacrifice in our place. One day, God will judge the wickedness of the world, but if you have received His gift of salvation, you do not have to fear Him as your Judge. You can look to God as your loving heavenly Father and to His Son as your gentle Shepherd.

July 17, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 17:1-13

What does it say?
Judah’s sin was deeply engraved on hearts that were totally wicked. Only the Lord can examine a heart and mind and reward each person accordingly.

What does it mean?
God’s people abandoned a clearly laid-out path to peace and freedom in exchange for a path that led to death and captivity. Such an absurd choice can only be explained by deception – in this case, self-deception. The Judeans’ own hearts told them that they had done nothing wrong, which was treachery against God. It was more comfortable to believe their misguided hearts than to accept their true condition – sinful. However, the deceptive motives of the heart and mind cannot be hidden from God. Only He saw and understood their hearts and minds at the deepest level.

How should I respond?
In our present culture, it has become popular to think that we are all basically good, but the Bible is clear: every person is born with evil inclinations. Our sin nature causes us to twist truth, convincing ourselves that we’re okay as we are. Without the Holy Spirit, we’re helpless to discern Scripture and compare our tainted thinking with God’s teachings. The Holy Spirit stands ready to help you overcome the sin struggle you’re facing right now (1 Cor. 2:12-13). Ask God to search your heart and mind today and reveal any misleading thoughts that contradict His Word. |Further reading: Jeremiah 17:14-27

July 16, 2019

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Read – Psalms 73

What does it say?
Asaph was tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked.

What does it mean?
Asaph was deeply troubled by the contrast he saw between the prosperity of the wicked and the problems of the righteous. In spite of their arrogance toward God and cruelty to others, godless people appeared to have few worries while enjoying health and wealth. His own life was plagued with problems and danger. He almost gave in to the temptation to envy their prosperity; then he remembered that God will judge the ungodly, but the righteous will be under His protection. Asaph’s godly life paid eternal benefits to his descendants, the musicians during Israel’s greatest revivals who led God’s people to worship when the temple foundation was laid (Ezra 3:10).

How should I respond?
God is just, and He pays attention to the lives we live. He is also the only true authority. Even when evil seems to go unpunished and ungodliness seems to rule supreme, we can rest assured that God is keeping accounts. The Ruler of all will be your refuge if you choose to rest in Him. If, however, you choose to resist Him, the Lord will become your opposition. Rest or resistance – which will you choose today? Will you find comfort in God’s authority instead of worrying about the prosperity of ungodly people? God is watching. He will not fail to bring justice or give eternal blessings for your obedience.

July 16, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 16

What does it say?
God restricted Jeremiah from marrying or having children. Jeremiah was also not to attend funerals or occasions of feasting with the wicked, disobedient people of Judah.

What does it mean?
Most Hebrew men were married before the age of twenty. So God’s instructions for His prophet to forego marriage and family certainly raised questions. The Lord required His prophet to give up an important part of Judean culture as a sign to God’s people that normal family relationships would be severed in the horrible times ahead. The additional restrictions to abstain from times of celebration and mourning pictured the absence of joyous occasions and a total lack of godly comfort. The restrictions on Jeremiah’s human relationships left him without family or friends. Each restriction, however, had a purpose that forced Jeremiah to rely on the Lord alone.

How should I respond?
God’s plan for your life may be very different from what you have pictured. Following Christ sometimes requires sacrificing something that seems good for you. In those moments, it isn’t a matter of right and wrong, but of good and best (Philippians 1:10). God may call you to remain unmarried, to move across or out of the country, or take a job that pays less. What has God asked of you that goes against your culture or family traditions? Whatever it is, you can be certain that it is not random … He has a purpose.

July 15, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 8

What does it say?
Paul addressed the issue of whether it was okay for believers to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols.

What does it mean?
Paul deals with the subject of Christian liberty in the next three chapters. He understood that there is only one true God. Therefore, idols amount to nothing as do the sacrifices made to idols. However, people were being converted from pagan idol worship every day. To them, eating meat that had been sacrificed to an idol went against their conscience; they weren’t yet strong in this area of their faith. Paul would rather never eat meat again than to offend a weaker Christian. Mature believers are willing to give up personal rights in order to keep others from stumbling in their faith. Paul warned that personal freedom doesn’t override Christian responsibility.

How should I respond?
No man is an island. Your life influences others, whether you mean for it to or not. The people in your house, church, and community are at various points of spiritual maturity. What may seem harmless to you could cause sinful thoughts, actions, or addiction in a weaker believer. Paul’s example in this area is a difficult one to follow because everything in our society tells us to put self first. What practices should you give up because they could hinder another follower of Christ? Instead of asking, “What am I allowed to do?”— ask, “How can I help others grow stronger in their faith?”

July 15, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 15:10-21

What does it say?
Distraught over the persecution he faced from the Judeans as a result of his loyalty to God, Jeremiah questioned God’s reasons for his continued misery.

What does it mean?
Jeremiah’s job as God’s prophet was to rebuke Judah and warn of destruction and captivity if they did not return to the Lord. When his fellow Judeans rejected the message, Jeremiah took it personally. However, it was actually the Lord and His message they were rejecting. Jeremiah had been obedient to give the message but was blind to his own sin: self-pity. God promised strength, resolve, and protection if Jeremiah changed his attitude and fully submitted to God. Without personal repentance, Jeremiah could be swayed by the Judeans instead of making an impact on them.

How should I respond?
You have a choice when feeling defeated: dwell on your weaknesses and adversaries, or focus on God’s strength and abilities. Jesus Himself assures us that His power works best in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When you face adversity, will you choose self-pity and accept defeat, or will you trust God to use your weaknesses to make His strength known? Ask God to reveal any sin that may be in the way of your service to Him and confess it. Who is the Lord leading you to influence for His purpose? Your attitude today may determine the impact you will have on them.

July 14, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 7

What does it say?
Paul addressed principles related to marriage and singleness.

What does it mean?
The Corinthians had sent Paul a question: “Is it better to be married or not to be married?” Paul answered that some have the gift to stay single while others have the gift of marriage; either way, it’s a blessing from God. Since Paul was not married, he was able to give every aspect of his being to serve the Lord without distraction. However, those with the gift of marriage should honor that relationship in order to avoid sexual temptation. Each Christian should seek God’s purpose for his life, as guided by the Holy Spirit.

How should I respond?
God’s principles for both marriage and singleness have been rejected by our society. People have rearranged God’s ideal in an effort to find happiness through relationships. To which group of people in this passage do you belong? What specific instructions do you need to follow in order to live by God’s standards for marriage, divorce, remarriage, or remaining single? If today is particularly difficult, ask God for strength and guidance. He has a life of purpose designed just for you!

July 14, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 14:1-15:9

What does it say?
The devastation of the drought and famine caused the people of Judah to cry out to God. Jeremiah appealed to God on their behalf, and He spoke regarding their rebellion.

What does it mean?
There are several accounts in the Old Testament of God’s using drought and famine as discipline to turn His people back to Him. In this instance, the people of Judah acknowledged that only God could bring rain. They expected His help, appealing to God’s goodness and His covenant with them. The Lord saw their hearts, though, and knew that their repentance was not sincere. They were not genuinely broken over their sin. They had, in fact, deserted Him – not the other way around. As a result, they believed lies from the false prophets as their nation headed toward horrible destruction.

How should I respond?
If you have a friend who only calls you when he or she has a need, then you have a glimpse of how God viewed the nation of Judah in today’s passage. At one time or another you’ve probably been guilty of the same thing. Have you, as God’s child, neglected your relationship with Him, only to plead for help when things go wrong? While God promises to care for His people, He may show His love through discipline if you choose to ignore His commands. It takes genuine repentance to restore full health to the relationship. Are you truly seeking God today or just looking for His blessings?

July 13, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 6

What does it say?
Paul dealt with Christians who were taking fellow believers to court before pagan judges to settle petty matters. Paul also warned them to control their bodies in all areas.

What does it mean?
The Corinthians didn’t connect the salvation of their souls with their daily conduct. Followers of Christ should be capable of settling disputes in a godly way, without involving the judgment of people who don’t view life from a biblical perspective. Likewise, Christians shouldn’t be slaves to any power, not even their own bodies. They are to “flee sexual immorality.” Believers should live morally disciplined lives because their bodies have been purchased with the blood of Christ and are the temple of the Holy Spirit who gives power to overcome temptation.

How should I respond?
In what area do you lack self-control? You have freedom in Christ, but not all things are good for you. As a believer, your body is not your own – you are a member of Christ. From what do you need to flee? Have your entertainment choices this week honored or dishonored Jesus Christ? There should be a marked difference between your moral standards and those of people outside of Christ. How does knowing your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit affect the choices you’ll make today? Commit right now to honor God with everything you do.

July 13, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 13

What does it say?
God’s people were to be bound to the Lord like the belt around Jeremiah’s waist. Those they thought to be allies would take Judah captive if they arrogantly refused to listen.

What does it mean?
God gave Jeremiah object lessons and word pictures for the people of Jerusalem. The linen belt lesson revealed their problem: God’s people were soiled by pride and the worship of false gods. The wineskins demonstrated the consequences of their arrogance – He would destroy Jerusalem if they didn’t listen. He continued with multiple word pictures illustrating their sin and its coming judgment: stumbling in the dark, taking a flock captive, changing a leopard’s spots, scattering chaff by the wind, and disgracing a woman’s purity. The overarching message in each part of the passage is, “Listen.”

How should I respond?
Object lessons and word pictures demonstrating God’s truth surround us. Gardeners may notice that weeds don’t need any help to grow and take over a garden. It takes diligent care for the desired plants to bloom and flourish. The same is true in our spiritual lives; sin is the result of neglect, while the fruit of the Spirit requires careful nurturing. Pay attention today, and you’ll begin to see God’s object lessons everywhere. What message is God trying to get across to you? Are you listening? How can you convey what you learn to family and friends?

July 12, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 5

What does it say?
Paul condemned the fact that immorality was being tolerated in the Corinthian church.

What does it mean?
Apathy toward sin is dangerous, both personally and as a church body. Church discipline is God’s judgment on a believer’s immoral behavior through a reprimand by his or her church. God will judge those outside of the church, but His followers are to hold one another accountable. The goal of church discipline should be used solely to restore the sinning believer to oneness with God and with other Christians, never to condemn or to use as a source of gossip. God hates the sin yet loves the sinner.

How should I respond?
Moral failure inside the church has become commonplace. Yet Scripture demands that we not become indifferent. God does not tolerate blatant sin and neither should His church. Do you have family members or friends close to you who are living a sinful lifestyle? If they aren’t a follower of Christ, use your influence to draw them to God. If they are a fellow-believer, will you lovingly confront them regarding their actions? Will you pray for God to put them in circumstances that will wake them up to the reality of their sin? Where do you need to put up guardrails against potential immorality? If you’re apathetic about sin, personally or corporately, you will find it spreading like cancer.

July 12, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 12

What does it say?
Jeremiah knew the Lord was righteous but questioned why the wicked prospered. God would forsake Judah, allowing enemies to lay waste to their land.

What does it mean?
What Jeremiah knew to be true about the Lord didn’t seem to match what he saw happening. Like Job and David before him, he questioned why people without regard for God seemed to have His blessing. The righteous were suffering from the drought sent by the Lord as judgment on sin, while the unrighteous appeared to be unaffected. God didn’t directly answer Jeremiah’s concern. Instead, He prepared Jeremiah for the more difficult road ahead. The Lord was going to deal righteously with His faithless people as well as their enemies, in His time and in His way. God’s compassion is not limited to His chosen people but will be extended to anyone who calls on His name.

How should I respond?
The world offers all kinds of answers to the question, “Why do things happen the way they do?” Some believe in fate – a cosmic power that controls a person’s future. Karma is an Eastern religious belief that a person’s own actions determine whether good or bad things happen to him. Others think life unfolds purely from good or bad luck. But as followers of Christ, we trust in the preeminence of God – that nothing can prevent His plan from taking place. Ask God to help you trust His sovereignty, even in those circumstances that don’t make sense.

July 11, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 4

What does it say?
Those who have been given a trust should prove to be faithful. Paul urged the Corinthians to follow his example.

What does it mean?
A steward is a trusted servant appointed to handle the master’s business matters in his absence. His job is to be faithful to the master. Each believer is a steward of whatever spiritual knowledge he or she may have. Since all such wisdom comes from God, what is there to brag about? The Corinthians mistakenly thought comfort and popularity were the result of being spiritual. Paul reminded them that such pride causes division, but true wisdom looks only to Christ. He talked to them like a parent who encourages a child to act like him in order to avoid danger.

How should I respond?
What truth from Scripture has God revealed to you? As a custodian of that truth, you’re responsible to make it a reality in your own life and share it with others. But be careful that your knowledge of spiritual things doesn’t become a source of pride. When you recognize God as the giver of all wisdom, power, and wealth, you’ll give glory back to Him rather than accept praise for yourself. How has God warned you regarding pride and stewardship, as Paul warned the Corinthians? God disciplines His children as an act of love. He doesn’t allow any sin to go unchecked.

July 11, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 11

What does it say?
The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. God announced judgment on those who did not obey His covenant.

What does it mean?
The Lord’s covenant with the Israelites seemed simple, “Obey Me.” They would enjoy a unique relationship as God’s chosen people if they would just follow Him. He promised a life and a land that overflowed with His blessing. But God’s people broke their covenant with the Lord by worshipping false gods and refusing to listen to His Word or His prophet. Why would they make such a choice? They stubbornly chose to follow what their own hearts wanted instead of submitting their hearts to God. The all-seeing and all-knowing Lord would have to correct His people through judgment. When that day came, God would ignore their pleas for help and any intercession on their behalf. Disobedience left the once strong nations of Israel and Judah broken.

How should I respond?
The Lord’s call on your life can be expressed by one simple request: “Obey Me.” So why do we sometimes find it difficult to obey? Genuine obedience comes from the inside out. An outward change in behavior cannot be permanent if your heart is unchanged. God wants to give you a heart like His. Committing to prayer and Bible study each day helps you to grow more like Christ. How have you seen God change your heart as a result of being in His Word? Where do you still need to be more obedient to Him? Only Jesus Christ can change our hearts. What do you need to give over to Him today?

July 10, 2019

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Read – Psalms 72

What does it say?
The King will judge the people, defend the afflicted, rule the nations, deliver the needy, and rescue the oppressed. His name will endure, and He will bless all nations.

What does it mean?
It’s thought that David wrote this psalm as a prayer for Solomon, Israel’s future king. He asked God to bless his son and the kingdom itself with divine righteousness and justice. The characteristics in David’s prayer describe a compassionate ruler who brings security and prosperity to the kingdom, even to the whole earth. Such a rule and such a kingdom would honor the Lord and result in praise to God. As wise and wealthy as Solomon became, he could never live up to the ideal leader described in his father’s prayer. Only David’s greater Son, Jesus, will fulfill this prophecy of God’s appointed just and righteous King. During Jesus’ first coming, He cared for the poor, the needy, and the oppressed. He will return to powerfully deliver His followers and to rule the earth, causing all people in every nation to praise His glorious name.

How should I respond?
How have you experienced the compassion of Christ? Has He shown you mercy when you were in need or defended you when you were weak? Jesus comes to us with kindness and compassion, able to rescue and to give support. If we’ve received His mercy, then we should also show it. Few people will turn away an act of kindness. How can you help someone this week? What we can do, we ought to do. Today, rest in the justice of our King, and share His mercy and compassion with someone else.

July 10, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 10:17-25

What does it say?
Jeremiah foretold the devastation of his country and desolation of God’s people. He agreed with the discipline but asked for a reprieve so they wouldn’t be destroyed.

What does it mean?
There was nothing the people of Jerusalem could do; their captivity and the devastation of their city were certain. For generations the Israelites arrogantly assumed they had the right to be independent of the Lord instead of turning to Him as their Sovereign Sustainer. God’s people had gone about their own plans for long enough, choosing to worship idols rather than their Creator. They now had to follow the path God had chosen for them, based on their lack of obedience to Him. Jeremiah agreed with God’s just discipline but feared His wrath would destroy His people.

How should I respond?
How many times have you chosen a path in life and then asked God to go along with your plan? As followers of Christ, we freely give up the right to direct our steps; our lives are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Trying to choose your own way will only take your mind captive and keep your focus off the Lord. God alone knows how your life will best honor Him, bless others, and benefit you. In what way might you be declaring independence from God? He gave His Son to die for you. Doesn’t that kind of love warrant trusting Him with the plans of your life?

July 9, 2019

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Read – Psalms 70, 71

What does it say?
David cried out to God to vindicate and protect him in his old age.

What does it mean?
Throughout David’s prayer in this passage is the underlying expectation that God would answer and deliver him from his troubles. David’s confidence that God would act justly to protect and rescue him came from a lifetime of walking with God. He learned to trust the Lord in his youth, experienced God’s faithfulness through the years, and proclaimed God as his defender in old age. God’s character had proven trustworthy time and time again. David relied on God for deliverance, certain that He would not fail.

How should I respond?
You’ve probably lived long enough to know that life is made up of triumphs and troubles. If you’ve followed Jesus from a young age, think of times when He’s come to your aid. If you’ve come to Him later in life, you may just now be learning that God is dependable in any and all circumstances. No matter what stage of life you’re currently in, developing a pattern of dependence on God now will give you confidence in His character when things don’t go as you planned. What are you facing today – trouble or triumph? God is faithful and you can depend on Him. Will you trust your faithful heavenly Father with today’s trouble?

July 9, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 10:1-16

What does it say?
Jeremiah contrasted handcrafted gods with the one true God. No one could compare to the eternal King of nations, the Lord Almighty.

What does it mean?
Jeremiah’s poetic comparison demonstrated the huge divide between the people’s notions of what a god should look like and their Creator God. The contrasts proved God alone as worthy of worship. Their idols couldn’t communicate with them, help or protect them. Ironically, they bowed down to an image that had to be carried from one place to another. Man-made idols have no life or breath, but God’s breath sustains all. God knows all and rules over all; He is unique, powerful, wise, and eternal. Jeremiah couldn’t fathom the foolishness of choosing false gods over the one true God.

How should I respond?
All over the world, people still bow down to handcrafted images. Yet the eternal King alone sits on His throne, deserving our worship. What religious images or ideas on the world stage compete with the God of the Bible for worship? How concerned are you that many people attempt to fill the emptiness in their lives with something other than the one true God? Today’s passage is a call to action. What will you do today to actively proclaim God as the only one worthy of worship? Keep your eyes open and your spirit ready to point others to Him. There is no substitute for our incomparable, Almighty God!

July 8, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 3

What does it say?
Paul addressed the worldly nature of the Corinthian church. Every believer’s service for Christ will be tested one day.

What does it mean?
The Corinthian church lacked godly wisdom, which kept them spiritually immature and worldly. They were still baby Christians and could handle only the basic teachings of faith. Paul warned them by painting a word picture of Christ as a foundation, laid at salvation. From that point the believer’s life is like a building continually under construction. The quality of the materials used to build will be tested when Jesus judges the lifework of each Christian. If “work” is to stand the test and receive reward, it must be done in the wisdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How should I respond?
What have you done this week that will last for eternity? Every work done in your home, school, church, and community is either temporal or eternal. Things done with the wrong motivation or in your own strength won’t last. The key is to invest in people, not things. Put your structure to the test now by asking: Is Christ my foundation? Do I allow the Holy Spirit to initiate and enable my thoughts and actions? What work am I doing in my own strength and wisdom? God is not as concerned with how much you build as with what sort you build.

July 8, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 8:4-9:26

What does it say?
Judah had been given the Law of the Lord, but the people rejected it. Jeremiah grieved over God’s judgment that would fall on the nation.

What does it mean?
God’s people had been given the gift of the Law of the Lord – the foundation of wisdom. The Law, however, had become more of a cultural symbol than a standard to live by. Rather than apply what it said, they hid behind it like a good luck charm. The scribes, who studied, copied, and communicated the Law became puffed up by their own wisdom and twisted God’s Word for their own purposes. This pattern of false wisdom affected the entire nation. Jeremiah mourned because his countrymen had abandoned God’s Word and stubbornly followed their own ideas and desires instead.

How should I respond?
God’s Word is a gift to the entire world. Cultures and governments have been founded on Judeo-Christian thought and ethics. But little by little, people have replaced God’s wisdom with their own. Chaos and corruption are bound to follow when people cease to recognize or follow God’s laws. Impacting your society for Christ starts with a decision to submit to Scripture as the ultimate authority for your life. How might you be living by your own thoughts and opinions rather than following His wisdom? True wisdom comes only from the Lord and must be lived out to be effective.

July 7, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 2

What does it say?
Paul’s preaching was a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, not persuasive words. This same Spirit is the source of godly wisdom.

What does it mean?
Paul understood that the Corinthians’ faith was a result of God’s power, not his ability to sway them by his preaching. He did not rely on his own wisdom but depended completely on the Holy Spirit to draw them to the message of Christ. Unbelievers can’t understand spiritual truth because they are spiritually blind. The message of Christ seems like foolishness to them. Spiritual wisdom has to come from the Holy Spirit. Believers have God’s Spirit within them, giving understanding and teaching spiritual truths.

How should I respond?
You are the only person who understands exactly what you are thinking and the motives for what you do. It’s the same with God. “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Do you find the Bible difficult to understand? Are you unsure that the God of Scripture is real? Pray for understanding as you open God’s Word. He always reveals Himself to those who seek Him. Are you trying to win someone to Christ through your own persuasive words? Will you, like Paul, rely on the Holy Spirit as you give the gospel? Others will be drawn to Christ as they see His power at work within you.

July 7, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 7:1-29

What does it say?
The Lord sent Jeremiah to the temple with a message: if God’s people would obey Him, they could live in the land. Otherwise, He would remove them from His presence.

What does it mean?
Despite their outward show of religious activity, the people of Judah were not fooling God. They deceived themselves by assuming that their sacrifices and offerings at the temple appeased God and offered them protection and security. In reality, they had disobeyed His instructions and had drifted far away from Him. God desired a genuine commitment to Him rather than to their traditions. God continued to deliver a clear message: if they continued to disregard His correction, He would allow the destruction of the temple, His dwelling place, and would remove them from their land.

How should I respond?
You can’t fool God. Neither can you impress the Lord with religiosity while allowing sin to go unchecked. He desires whole-hearted commitment to Him alone. We can become distracted from that sole devotion by trying to keep up appearances at church or in our community. Authentic Christianity requires an honest evaluation of whether you are truly committed to the Lord or simply going through religious motions. In what area of your life have you drifted away from Him? God already knows everything, so why not be truthful before the Lord right now? Choosing to do otherwise is just self-deception. |Further reading: Jeremiah 7:30-8:3

July 6, 2019

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Read – 1 Corinthians 1

What does it say?
Paul thanked God for the Corinthians’ spiritual gifts. He then addressed disunity in the church and stressed the power of the message of the cross.

What does it mean?
Despite being blessed with spiritual knowledge and spiritual gifts, Corinthian church members were quarreling. The issue at hand wasn’t one of doctrine but of preference. Factions were elevating one leader over another. The disunity was only a symptom of a much deeper problem: pride in human wisdom and ability to draw people to Christ. Paul urged them to be of one mind, reminding them that the message of salvation through Christ alone was far more important than the messenger. The power and wisdom of God are revealed in Jesus. Outside of Him there is no reason for anyone to boast.

How should I respond?
If you grew up with at least one sibling, you’ve probably been in a family squabble. As believers, we’re not just in the family of God, we are the body of Christ. When Christians quarrel, it’s like a body attacking itself; it’s unnatural. Human wisdom and pride are at the forefront of disunity in the church. God’s wisdom always points to one person, Jesus. Are you currently in a dispute with another Christian? How is it distracting from the mission and message of Christ? Sincerely ask God in what way you may have elevated your wisdom over His. Lay down your pride and glory in the Lord alone.

July 6, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 6

What does it say?
The people ignored Jeremiah’s warnings of the approaching siege on Jerusalem. They rejected God’s path that would have allowed them to escape the destruction.

What does it mean?
God explicitly told Judah how to avoid His wrath on their wicked behavior – repent. But they still refused to listen to Jeremiah’s warnings, even as the enemy made plans to invade. Their hearts had become so hardened that they no longer valued what God said. The conscience of the entire nation had been seared; even the leaders showed no embarrassment when confronted with their vile behavior. Just as silver is refined to rid it of impurities, God planned to use the coming judgment to purify their hearts. Sadly, they thought they could rely on ritualistic religious practices to please God.

How should I respond?
Do you ever compare your own actions with others and think, “Well, at least I’m not doing THAT!”? When we do, we ignore the Holy Spirit’s conviction, allowing our sin to become a normal part of our lives. Gradually accepting sin leads to a mindset that is not embarrassed by it anymore. Yet all sin drastically affects the quality of our relationship with God. What sin have you slowly accepted into your lifestyle? Will you confess it to the Lord today? Ask God to prick your conscience with conviction and to forgive you for accepting sin’s presence and quenching the work of the Holy Spirit.

July 5, 2019

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Read – Romans 16

What does it say?
Paul greeted specific friends, gave a warning about divisive people, and concluded with a doxology praising God.

What does it mean?
Thirty-three people are mentioned by name in the last chapter of Romans. Paul, like Jesus, wasn’t too busy or important to notice individuals. It’s easy to quickly pass over a list of names in Scripture, but who they are teaches an important lesson. The early church was filled with all kinds of people: Jews, Greeks, city officials, slaves, the rich, and the poor. It wasn’t social status or race that caused division. Paul warned the church to avoid those who didn’t believe correct doctrine (Romans 1-11) because their words were deceptive, and they served their own desires rather than God’s.

How should I respond?
There are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people. Yet God brings people together in local churches for His purpose. Do you have a genuine love for believers who are socially or racially different from you? Each person in your Christian community is important and should be valued. However, there will always be people who cause division in the church. Will you commit to avoid debates with them and focus on the vision cast by your pastor and church leaders? When Jesus is the common denominator, differences between people fade, and God’s purpose is accomplished.

July 5, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 5

What does it say?
God challenged Jeremiah to find just one person who was just and sought the truth, yet he found no one. God announced that His just judgment was on its way.

What does it mean?
Not one person in Judah had chosen to heed Jeremiah’s warnings of judgment. God’s instructions regarding how to live were designed to protect His people and teach them to deal fairly with one another. They not only overstepped those boundaries but actually embraced wicked people and harmful behavior. In His divine justice, God would send the Babylonians as judgment on Judah’s choice to abandon Him. Still, the Lord graciously and faithfully purposed not to completely destroy them. Their relationship with God could be rebuilt.

How should I respond?
Like a parent who must sometimes discipline the child he loves, God serves both as our Father and our Judge. He is not unduly harsh, but He is just. The Lord lovingly sets up boundaries for our protection. We should expect His discipline when we step past those boundaries. His mercy and justice are perfectly balanced. He never fails to forgive and restore us when we confess our wrongdoing. Which of God’s boundaries might you have overstepped this week? What ramifications followed? Today, humbly ask God for mercy. He is always willing to give you a fresh start.

July 4, 2019

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Read – Romans 15

What does it say?
Scripture was written to teach endurance and encourage hope. The promises given to the patriarchs confirmed that Gentiles would also believe in the Lord through faith.

What does it mean?
Throughout this passage Paul discussed the purpose and blessings of studying the Scriptures. He found comfort by reading how God had helped people of faith in the past. The reader is like a cup filled with joy, peace, hope, goodness, and knowledge. The purpose of these blessings is to teach and encourage one another in the power of the Holy Spirit. Since God had originally given the Scriptures to the Jews, the Gentiles had a duty to minister to the Jewish people in material ways in response to the spiritual blessings they had received from Israel.

How should I respond?
Believers have a responsibility to help those who provide spiritual teaching. What comfort or blessing have you received from studying the Bible? Who is benefiting from what you’ve learned in Scripture this week? God wants to fill you to overflowing so you can splash out onto others. Your church is filled with opportunities to teach children, mentor new Christians, or take part in a group. Whom has God used to teach and grow you spiritually? Look for a way to intentionally bless them this week. As a believer, you have a responsibility to be part of God’s work. Who is in your splash zone?

July 4, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 4:5-31

What does it say?
Jeremiah warned God’s people that disaster was on its way due to their disobedience. He challenged them to turn to Him with hearts moved to repentance.

What does it mean?
Jeremiah urged Judah to turn to the Lord in repentance. God’s chosen people had lost all discernment between good and evil. As a matter of fact, they were very skilled in doing evil and ignorant of what was good. They needed to understand fully the consequences of abandoning the Lord and His commands. No punishment was too harsh if it meant recapturing their unfaithful hearts. God’s warnings reinforced His desire for His people to repent and turn to Him for rescue. Ignoring the warnings of God’s prophet would seal Judah’s fate.

How should I respond?
Good parents teach their children from a young age to avoid danger. We understand that parents lovingly warn and discipline their kids to keep them out of harm’s way. God’s warnings in Scripture are no different. Because God loves us, He warns us about the devastating consequences of disobedience. The Lord says, “Do not” in order to protect us from harm. What biblical warning have you ignored? What are the likely consequences? Ask God to help you recognize where your heart has gone astray. His Word is a gift to guide our choices. Will you choose to heed His warnings today?

July 3, 2019

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Read – Psalms 69

What does it say?
David asked God to rescue him from his enemies’ constant attacks and insults.

What does it mean?
It’s not certain when David wrote this psalm, but his distress was so great at the time that he felt as if he were drowning. Faced with enemies who hated him for no apparent reason, David turned to God for help. His prayer describes the pain he felt in great detail, but as he called on God to vindicate and defend him, an interesting thing happened – he found assurance that God was in control. That realization flooded him with humility in the presence of God’s authority. At that point David’s painful prayer turned to a song of praise. His help would come from the Lord, who keeps His promises.

How should I respond?
Many of us turn our attention to God in life’s darkest moments. We pray in great detail about our problems, telling God exactly what we want Him to do. Too often, though, we rise from our prayer before we reach the place of humility that David did in today’s passage. Praying with humility requires acknowledging that God knows how to handle our circumstances better than we do. We have to relinquish control. God is already completely aware of your situation before you pray; yet when you assume a humble position before the Lord, something powerful happens – personal pain can become a reason to praise God, who alone can vindicate and comfort you. Will you humbly acknowledge God’s authority over your life and trust Him, even in the most difficult circumstances?

July 3, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 3:6-4:4

What does it say?
God sent another message reprimanding the sins of His people. This time, He offered them mercy if they would truly abandon their wicked ways and commit to Him.

What does it mean?
God’s covenant relationship with His people is pictured as a marriage. The Lord was the husband, the One to whom their highest commitment was due. But Israel and Judah committed spiritual adultery by abandoning worship of the Lord for idols. Judah even paid lip serve to God while flaunting her unfaithfulness. Yet in His love for them, God extended an offer of mercy, urging them to genuinely cast aside everything that kept them from fully committing to Him. Continued disobedience would bring His wrath, but because He keeps His covenant, He declared, “I will choose you.”

How should I respond?
We wouldn’t casually accept even occasional unfaithfulness in our marriages. Well, God sets the same standard for His people, the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27.) Because of His unchanging affection, you never have to worry that He will abandon you. In return, God wants your wandering heart to be transformed by His love, resulting in full devotion to Him. What is your level of commitment to Christ? Do you have a covenant relationship with the Lord? If you say you love Him, make sure your choices don’t prove otherwise. Sincerely ask God to renew your heart to be faithful in loving Him above all.

July 2, 2019

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Read – Psalms 68

What does it say?
The psalmist exalted God as a mighty conqueror who protected and delivered His people in battle, leading them to victory over their enemies. He is worthy of praise.

What does it mean?
This psalm celebrates God’s faithfulness to His people and examines His past victories over Israel’s enemies. The prophetic nature of this chapter also looks forward to the Millennium when Christ will exhibit His authority over the entire world. Jesus, who alone is worthy of worship, will be acknowledged as King for providing deliverance and salvation to His people. A victorious procession of believers will worship the Lord in awe and with continual praise and obedience.

How should I respond?
Life sometimes feels like a war in which our circumstances and people seem to battle against us. Remember, even though this present world does not acknowledge Christ as King, God is in control. As His people, we should worship Him for who He is and for His continuing authority in all situations. When life takes a downward spiral, turn to the King who rules over all circumstances. He is not caught off balance. The battles you’ll face today are opportunities for God to show His authority. Choose to focus on God and His provision. Let His abilities and His power give you confidence and lead you to victorious worship.

July 2, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 2:1-3:5

What does it say?
Through Jeremiah, God brought charges against Judah because they had rejected their covenant with Him and forsaken Him for other gods.

What does it mean?
Judah turned toward false gods, choosing to exchange the glory of their God for worthless idols. They knew what it was like to walk with Him intimately, yet they allowed their land to be polluted with pagan practices. Abandoning their covenant was offensive to the Lord, and rightly so. He required His people to be distinct, separated to Him only. As a loving Father, God spoke firmly against their disobedience while trying to reconcile the relationship by recounting His goodness toward them. But instead of repenting, they tried to justify their behavior and shift the blame to Him.

How should I respond?
God desires intimacy with you. Because He is righteously jealous for your affection, God will always try to draw you back when your affections wander. Turning toward anything other than God is turning against Him. What have you traded for the intimate relationship that God wants with you? Ask the Lord to reveal anything in your life that could pollute your heart. When He does, confess it as sin and turn to Him with a changed heart and mind. As your loving Heavenly Father, God will always convict you of sin, but He will not force you to repent and obey.

July 1, 2019

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Read – Romans 14

What does it say?
Christians are to live for the Lord, rather than seeking to please themselves.

What does it mean?
Is food spiritual? Was it wrong to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols? This was just one issue causing a dispute among Christians in the early church. Paul didn’t try to solve the problems but addressed the attitudes resulting from the disagreements. Believers will answer to God for their behavior and must act according to their personal convictions when there isn’t a clear mandate from God. Out of love for one another, they should not take part in anything that could cause another Christian to stumble in their faith. Each should serve God with a clear conscience.

How should I respond?
Twenty-first century Christians still disagree over gray areas like social drinking, forms of entertainment, and expressions of worship. God cares about how we respond to believers who hold different convictions than we do. Have you judged another Christian regarding a disputable issue? Are you taking part in something that could cause someone new or weak in his or her faith to “stumble”? Everything you do has a ripple effect. Christian liberty should never harm another follower of Christ. What behavior or attitude do you need to change as a result of reading this passage?

July 1, 2021

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Read – Jeremiah 1

What does it say? |God told Jeremiah that he was chosen before his birth to be a prophet among the nations. God would give him the words to speak to His rebellious people.

What does it mean?
Even though Jeremiah came from the priestly line, the call to be a prophet was unexpected. God wanted to use Jeremiah to urge His people to repent and return to Him. Although he felt inadequate, the Lord would give Jeremiah everything he needed, including the exact words to say. God warned the new prophet that the people would rise against him because the nation as a whole had turned their backs on the Lord. Jeremiah would need to be bold, consistently speaking out against social and personal sins. God’s promise to be with him and equip him removed all reason for fear.

How should I respond?
God still enables those He calls. As with Jeremiah, God acknowledges our fears but assures His followers of His continual presence and provision. What is God calling you to do that may be nerve-wracking? Maybe He is asking you to go to a place or people group outside of your comfort zone and that frightens you. Or maybe you don’t feel skilled enough to accomplish a new ministry task at church. Choose today to trust the One who called you before you were born. He will always provide everything you need to obey His call. Today, let go of fear and look for evidence of God’s presence.

June 30, 2019

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Read – Romans 13

What does it say?
Believers should submit to authority, love one another, and put aside indecent behavior.

What does it mean?
Yesterday, we said that right actions come from right beliefs. In today’s passage Paul points out how Christians should apply right beliefs in a few practical areas of life. Believers have a responsibility to be good citizens and neighbors who live to please Christ, not their old sinful nature. Even civil leaders who don’t agree with biblical standards should be shown respect because it is God who gives them authority to maintain order and punish evil. Paul urged believers to wake up and be intentional in their relationships, witness, and behavior since Christ’s return is closer than ever before.

How should I respond?
As a Christian, you have dual citizenship. Your beliefs as a citizen of Heaven should directly affect your interactions as a citizen on Earth. What should a Christian do when obeying an authority means disobeying God’s laws? For instance, under Hitler’s regime German believers were asked to turn in Jewish friends and neighbors. In our lifetime, strict family planning mandates mean that Chinese believers have faced similar issues as the midwives in Moses’ day (Ex. 1:22). Peter reminds us that man’s laws never take precedence over God’s laws (Acts 5:28-29). Pray for Christians throughout the world facing dire consequences for their beliefs; then ask God for the strength to do the same.

June 30, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 66

What does it say?
Those who love Jerusalem will be blessed and comforted, but her enemies will see God’s fury. People from all nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord.

What does it mean?
The Book of Isaiah reaches its climax by telling Israel how the Lord will keep His promises to bless His people and judge her enemies. Yet their sacrifices to the Lord were still ritualistic rather than heartfelt. Authentic worship begins in humility with remorse for sin, which was impossible as long as they refused to listen to or answer the Lord. So Isaiah gave Israel a glimpse of two points in their future: destruction of the temple by Babylon and rebirth as a nation under the rule of the Messiah. God’s message was clear – sin brings judgment, but repentance brings salvation. One day, God will use Israel’s faithfulness to cause worldwide worship of the Messiah as King.

How should I respond?
Authentic faith causes others to take notice. Sadly, some who profess to follow Christ are obstacles to others’ faith. If neighbors watch you routinely drive to church but don’t see a distinction in your lifestyle, you may be hindering their decision to trust in Jesus. What do you think would change in your church if people showed genuine remorse for sin? How would your community be impacted if your congregation demonstrated heartfelt worship of the Lord throughout the week? If you want a nonbeliever to see his need for Jesus, show him the difference Jesus can make. Be genuine. Be authentic.

June 29, 2019

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Read – Romans 12

What does it say?
Paul urged his readers to be living sacrifices for the glory of God, transformed by a renewed mind and using their spiritual gift(s) to benefit the body of Christ.

What does it mean?
Chapter 12 marks a turning point in the book of Romans. “Therefore” takes into account everything Paul discussed in the first eleven chapters about how to believe. Now he will apply those truths and discuss how to live differently from the world. This requires a new way of thinking – transformed rather than conformed. A renewed mind sees self and others from God’s perspective, using his or her own gifts with humility and appreciating the gifts of others. The sincere believer is an authentic display of Christ to the world. Every situation is met with sincerity rather than hypocrisy.

How should I respond?
The book of Romans forces us to wade through very deep spiritual water. Understanding doctrine is important because you’ll never act right until you believe right. What is your reaction to the mercy and grace you’ve encountered in Romans 1-11? Paul thinks it’s logical to be utterly devoted to God and voluntarily surrender all that you are. Are you humbly offering God your body, your mind, and your gifts? Where are you letting the world mold your thinking and affect your behavior? Transformation starts from the inside and results in God’s “good and acceptable and perfect will.”

June 29, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 65

What does it say?
The Lord will repay Israel for her sins but will not destroy them all. Those who serve Him will live in the new Heaven and Earth, where pain and sorrow do not exist.

What does it mean?
God’s hands are referenced three times in chapter 65. First, He graciously reached out to His people in love. Then His hand enabled Assyria and Babylon to carry out His judgment. The third time tells that God’s hands will one day create a new Heaven and a new Earth. While Isaiah doesn’t provide a physical description (Rev. 21), he does describe what life will be like in a world without sin and evil. People will enjoy meaningful work, just as before mankind disobeyed God. Even the nature of the animal world will be transformed. Anything that previously caused pain or sorrow will no longer exist, nor will it be remembered. God and His people will have perfect communion together.

How should I respond?
It’s hard to imagine a world with no sorrow. Our experiences on Earth have been tainted completely by the effects of sin on people, animals, and nature itself. But that’s not how God created the world to be. What has caused you pain and grief? One day it will be gone and forgotten if you are a follower of Christ. How does this passage change how you see the world and the people you come across today? Which friends or family members do you need to tell about Jesus so they, too, will be part of this glorious future?

June 28, 2019

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Read – Romans 11

What does it say?
God graciously preserved a remnant in Israel for future restoration while grafting Gentiles into His vine.

What does it mean?
Chapters 9-11 detail Israel’s rebellion against God and rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Chapter 10 ended by reiterating that God continues to reach out to Israel, even though they had been “a disobedient and contrary people.” God, in His mercy, will fulfill His promise to Israel as a nation and “all Israel will be saved.” This doesn’t mean that all Jews throughout history will have a second chance but that the Jewish nation will largely turn to Christ upon His return. Salvation, whether to the Jew or Gentile, is always a result of God’s goodness, mercy, and grace.

How should I respond?
Strong character can seldom be detected when everything is going according to plan. When people act contrary to your agenda, your character is put to the test. Who has disappointed you recently? Have you been betrayed or rejected as God was in today’s passage? Our sinful human nature often causes us to lash out and withdraw from the relationship. God has not only given you a different example, He’s given you the Holy Spirit who can divinely respond through you in those moments. What character traits of God do you see in Romans 11? Which one(s) will you seek to display in your life today?

June 28, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 63-64

What does it say?
After Isaiah praised God, the Father of Israel, he asked for compassion and retribution on their enemies. He admitted their sin and asked God to look on them and forgive.

What does it mean?
These chapters contain Isaiah’s prophetic prayer on behalf of those who would be exiled in Babylon more than 100 years later. The righteous remnant desired to experience the power and love of their God, just as their forefathers had during the years in the wilderness. Acknowledging their sin showed recognition that the distance between God and His people had been created by their choices. With no righteousness of their own, their best efforts were like dirty rags in His sight. They would once again seek to be a nation shaped by God’s hand, like a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel.

How should I respond?
During some periods of time, more than others, you recognize exactly who you are in God’s eyes. If you’ve chosen to receive the death of Jesus as the payment for your sin, God sees His righteousness covering you. But it is impossible to maintain a healthy relationship and open communication with Him when you choose to rebel. Has sin created distance between you and the Lord? Although no good deed can make up for it, your situation is not hopeless. Ask God for the clarity to see your sin as He sees it. As you allow God to shape you as He wishes, you’ll experience His love, power, and forgiveness.

June 27, 2019

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Read – Romans 10

What does it say?
Paul’s heartfelt desire was for the people of Israel to be saved. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

What does it mean?
Paul grieved over Israel’s unbelief and their attempts to earn salvation through good deeds. They were religious but not righteous. Pride caused a failure to believe, making them willfully ignorant. His concern led to prayer, and prayer led to action. Paul’s plan is simple and logical – they can’t believe what they haven’t heard, so people must be sent to give God’s message. The message: believe and confess Jesus as Lord, who alone can save people from sin and deserves their obedience. Paul could not imagine a sight more beautiful than the person who takes such good news to his people.

How should I respond?
Our society is obsessed with beautiful people. Rarely do we think of someone’s feet as beautiful, but that’s exactly what God says about those who have the right message rather than the right image. To whom is God sending you with the message of Jesus? It may be someone across the street or in another part of the world. You can’t control their response; your job is simply to deliver the message. God’s Word will accomplish His purpose (Isaiah 55:11). While it’s important to pray for unbelievers, there’s a time to get off your knees and onto your feet. Will you be one of God’s “beautiful” people today?

June 27, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 62

What does it say?
God will give Jerusalem a new name and cause her righteousness to shine. The Savior will return with the Redeemed of the Lord as His reward.

What does it mean?
New names in the Bible represent a fundamental change in character initiated by God. Over the centuries, the name of Israel has been associated with war, desolation, and persecution. The future Jerusalem and her inhabitants will have new names that reflect the favor and righteousness of God, the Father. The names “Hephzibah and Beulah” characterize God’s delight in Israel as a husband with a bride. Jews from around the world will flock there to prepare for and announce the return of the Savior after the Great Tribulation. When He arrives, God’s people will be called “Holy” and “Redeemed.”

How should I respond?
Trends in baby names change every few years. Some parents search for a name with a significant meaning. No matter what you were named, you received a new name when you decided to follow Christ. Just think about the significance of your new name: God calls you “Holy” and “Redeemed.” Salvation transforms you into a completely new person (2 Cor. 5:17). The character and mind of Christ reside within you. How are you actively reflecting your new name and character in everyday life? Determine today to live up to the name given by your heavenly Father.

June 26, 2019

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Read – Psalms 66, 67

What does it say?
The psalmist called on Israel to praise God for their deliverance and salvation and thank Him for His mercy and provision.

What does it mean?
God is awe-inspiring in His power and protection. His power is revealed in creation and in His ability to deliver His people. His faithfulness was shown to Israel in their deliverance from Egypt and through His ongoing protection. God is not only a protector, but also a teacher. He allowed His people to be put in situations that tested their obedience and taught them to trust, purging Israel so that His glory would be shown through them. He deserves all the glory and praise. Let the whole earth praise the Lord!

How should I respond?
Sometimes we miss the lessons the Lord wants to teach us because we’re focused on the negative circumstances that we perceive as problems. Those same obstacles may be the instrument God uses to teach us about His authority and provision. How should we respond when tested? Obey Him and praise Him. Are you a good student? What lesson is God currently trying to teach you? Obey – then you’ll stand in awe of how He will work through you as He gives you opportunities to spread His fame by telling others about His faithfulness. Before you get negative today, remember that obstacles, while challenging, don’t have to be problems.

June 26, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 61

What does it say?
The Messiah would preach good news, proclaim freedom, and provide comfort. Mourning and despair in Zion will be replaced by gladness and praise.

What does it mean?
Verses 1-2a describe the ministry of the Messiah’s first coming (Luke 4:18-21). The remainder of this prophecy will be fulfilled upon Christ’s return. The passage changes from the picture of a funeral to a wedding. Israel was figuratively dressed for mourning, but the heartache of her persecution will disappear when the Messiah judges her enemies. God Himself promised to clothe the redeemed remnant of Israel in salvation and righteousness, making her a fitting bride for the Sovereign Lord of the earth.

How should I respond?
Successful companies communicate great mission statements to both employees and customers. Have you ever thought of developing a personal mission statement for yourself or your family? The mission of Jesus, stated in today’s passage, would be a great place to start. As followers of Christ, our mission in life should match His: tell the good news of salvation, announce freedom from sin, and provide comfort to the brokenhearted. You may cross paths today with someone in mourning due to the effects of sin. Will you accept the mission and tell them about the hope found in Jesus?

June 25, 2019

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Read – Psalms 65

What does it say?
David praised God as the Provider of good things, including a harvest large enough to sustain His people.

What does it mean?
In this harvest psalm David thanked God for the redemptive work shown towards His people through specific acts: answering prayers, forgiving sin, producing joy and satisfaction, and extending protection and provision. David reminded Israel that God is able to accomplish these things because He is both powerful and merciful. God created mountains; He calms seas; He brings rain and waters the earth; and He causes a plentiful harvest. Every person is indebted to God for these blessings. God is the Savior and Sustainer of the world and deserves the praise and trust of all people.

How should I respond?
How do you react when your resources seem slim? Does anxiety become your way of life? When you find yourself worrying, turn your thoughts to what God has made and done. What we couldn’t do on our own, God provided by giving His most cherished possession – His only Son – by whose death and resurrection we are able to be children of God. The same God who is the Creator and ultimate authority over all that exists continues to provide for us. If He is able to do all these things, surely He is able to take care of your daily needs. Trust Him; He is capable and worthy. He will not fail.

June 25, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 60

What does it say?
The glory of the Lord will rise upon Zion, bringing honor, wealth, and peace.

What does it mean?
At the start of Christ’s millennial reign, Jews will be gathered to their Promised Land. The removal of spiritual darkness during this time will create a desire for people to come to Jerusalem to be near the source of such light – Jesus Himself. People from nations around the world, including former enemies, will worship Christ, bringing the wealth of their homelands in honor of the great King. Jerusalem will be known as the City of the Lord; He will defeat any nation that comes against Israel. God’s hand of judgment on His people will be completely removed, bringing joy and peace. Through Israel, the world will finally understand that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the World.

How should I respond?
For generations, presidents and world leaders have tried to broker peace between Israel and her enemies. Scripture tells us that peace will come when Jesus Himself sits on the throne in Jerusalem. Violence in Israel will completely cease, finally. One day, this small parcel of land will rule as the world’s foremost super power. Have you recognized Jesus as the King of the entire world and as your personal King? Will you pray right now for the leaders of our country to commit their support to Israel? Anyone who opposes Israel opposes the Lord, plain and simple.

June 24, 2019

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Read – Romans 9

What does it say?
In anguish over Israel’s sin, Paul wished that he could be cursed and cut off from Christ for their sake.

What does it mean?
God had given Israel multiple spiritual advantages: adoption, God’s glory, the covenants, the Law, service in the temple, the promises, the patriarchs, and the human ancestry of Christ. Yet they still rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah. God loved Israel but would deal with them justly. Paul felt intense pain over their spiritual condition. His heart reflected the compassionate heart of Christ. Paul knew, of course, that it was impossible for him to be cursed for their sin, but the statement shows he is willing to do anything short of sin to bring his countrymen to salvation in Christ.

How should I respond?
What causes your heart to hurt? America has truly been blessed by God’s goodness, yet her rejection of God and truth are at an all-time high. Do you grieve for the spiritual condition of your countrymen? How does this chapter encourage you to pray for our nation? As you grow in Christ-likeness, His compassion for unbelievers will overwhelm your heart. Do you know someone who has continued to reject Jesus as Savior? What is God directing you to do in order to show His love to them?

June 24, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 59

What does it say?
Isaiah acknowledged the nation’s sin against the Lord. By His own righteousness, the Lord’s Redeemer will save the repentant and enact His everlasting covenant with Israel.

What does it mean?
Sin had created a great divide between God and His people. The Lord was powerful enough to save them, both physically and spiritually, but He refused to hear their prayers as long as they refused His way. Even though Isaiah confessed Israel’s rebellion against the Lord, there was no way to get away from their sin. Since no one on Earth could intervene on their behalf, God graciously provided salvation through a Redeemer whose righteousness is enough to cover the depth of their sin. This Messiah will come again as a warrior, fulfilling His covenant with believing Israelites and judging her enemies. Such a future should cause God’s people to follow Him only.

How should I respond?
Sin is the eternal separator between God and mankind. No matter what we do, none of us can change our sinful nature or cross the gap that separates us from God. Only Jesus Christ, the Messiah, can bridge that gap by His righteousness. Only He can change your heart and forgive your sin. When did you admit your sinfulness and receive His redemption? As a follower of Christ, confess sin quickly to keep open communication with God (1 John 1:9). Are you prepared today for Jesus’ return?

June 23, 2019

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Read – Romans 8

What does it say?
Instead of standing condemned before God, the believer is now adopted into God’s family and a joint heir with Christ.

What does it mean?
Identification with Jesus means sharing in His unparalleled glory when He returns. Until then, all creation endures temporary suffering because of sin’s presence in the world. Still, God can use weakness and suffering to accomplish His purpose, conforming believers to the image of Christ. Although this can be painful, Paul outlined new assurances accompanying salvation. (1) God is for us. (2) Since He gave Jesus, He withholds nothing else from us. (3) We are justified. (4) The Holy Spirit and Christ pray for believers. (5) Absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love.

How should I respond?
The words Daddy and Father bring to mind different images and feelings depending on your experience with your earthly father. Your heavenly Father, however, is the perfect parent. He chose to adopt you into His family, loves you intensely, and seeks to have a personal relationship with you. As a generous parent, He doesn’t withhold anything that’s good for you. His presence is comforting and protective. Because His love is perfect, He disciplines and knows when to allow uncomfortable situations in order to develop your character and dependence on Him. How has God used suffering to make you a reflection of Him? Have you started to see a family resemblance?

June 23, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 58

What does it say?
God’s people fasted and asked for justice, but to no avail. If they turned from their rebellion, the Lord would answer, guide, strengthen, and satisfy their needs.

What does it mean?
Fasting was meant as a time to completely abandon any selfish pursuit and seek God’s guidance. His people had turned this practice into a ritual with no substance, yet they didn’t understand why the Lord wasn’t answering their prayers. They complied with outward obedience, but rebelled inwardly. Their poor treatment of each other was evidence that religious rituals don’t change hearts. God wanted to make them an ongoing source of blessing for others, but that required giving themselves completely to Him. Only then would they find the guidance, strength, and satisfaction they desired.

How should I respond?
Outward shows of Christianity are the result of a growing relationship with Jesus, not the cause. The reality of Christ in your life will spill out on the people around you in the form of generosity, mercy, graciousness, and sincerity. He wants to guide and strengthen you, but first you have to give yourself to Him … completely. What attitude or thought do you need to confess as rebellion against God? In what part of your Christian life are you just going through the motions? A right relationship with Jesus Christ is evidenced, not by God’s outward blessing on your life, but by your inward willingness to bless others.

June 22, 2019

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Read – Romans 7

What does it say?
Although the Law helped people to recognize their sin, we have been released from the Law to serve the Spirit. Paul wanted to do good, but he could not do it on his own.

What does it mean?
The believer is released from trying to keep the letter of the Old Testament Law since it cannot save anyone from sin. What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It served to reveal sin and reveal people as sinners in need of a Savior. The Law removed the misconception that we’re fine just as we are. Being a Christian means a lifetime of struggling between the spirit and the flesh. Followers of Christ are delivered from the penalty of sin, but they live in the presence of sin every day in the world.

How should I respond?
Have you recently thought or said something, and then wondered, “Where did that come from?” As you continue to grow in Christ, there is still a battle against sin going on inside of you. The more clearly you understand the character of God, the more sensitive you become to the presence of sinful thoughts, attitudes, and actions. You can never conquer sin on your own by following a list of do’s and don’ts. What are you currently doing that you do not want to do, and what are you not doing that you really want to do? Yield your mind to Christ today; He has already fought the battle and won.

June 22, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 56-57

What does it say?
Israel’s sovereign, eternal and holy God will heal, guide, restore, and comfort the hearts of the contrite. He will gather, bless, and give peace to others along with the exiles.

What does it mean?
In the Old Testament there had always been delineation between God’s chosen people Israel and pagan nations. Today’s passage, however, told Israel of two future groups: those who worship the Lord and the wicked. Idol worshipping Jews would have no peace, while God-fearing Gentiles would share in Israel’s blessings. The Lord will gather both Jews and “foreigners to Israel” to Himself, specifically during the Messiah’s millennial reign. Anyone who repents from sin, choosing to love and keep His commands, will never be cut off from the Lord.

How should I respond?
How would you finish the phrase, “There are two kinds of people in the world”? Your immediate response is heavily influenced by your upbringing and experiences. Today’s passage points out that you are not defined by your social and economic status, race, or denomination. God’s view of mankind is, by far, the most insightful. To Him, the world is divided into those who follow Christ and those who reject Him. Into which group do you fall? Have you chosen Jesus’ sacrifice as the payment for your sin? Start to view people as God does – either with or without Christ. No other label matters.

June 21, 2019

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Read – Romans 6

What does it say?
Believers have been crucified and resurrected with Christ. They are now both dead to sin and alive in the Savior.

What does it mean?
Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection replaced the power of sin with the power to live for God’s purposes. Jesus not only died for sin, He died to sin – breaking its power. That means that sin and death have no power over anyone united with Him. Those outside of Christ are controlled by their sinful nature, likes slaves in chains. Believers, however, are dead to sin and free to live completely for God. Followers of Christ can choose obedience by offering their bodies to God rather than to sin. Jesus replaces sin as the believer’s Master. The old master paid wages of death, but Jesus offers freedom, holiness, and eternal life. God’s grace is a reason to obey, not an excuse to sin.

How should I respond?
Being dead to sin doesn’t mean you are sinless, but it does mean you should sin less. Choosing to obey the Lord is an act of your will. Willful sin takes advantage of God’s grace. What area of your life is still alive to sin rather than alive to Christ? Is there a situation you need to avoid because it sets you up to sin? Realize that as a follower of Christ, you are just as dead to that sin as Jesus is. Whatever you submit to becomes your master. Who will be your master today?

June 21, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 55

What does it say?
God’s thoughts and ways are higher than man’s thoughts and ways. God’s Word achieves His purpose, just as rain and snow water the earth and produce food.

What does it mean?
Isaiah’s prophecy foreshadows God’s invitation for Gentiles to experience His salvation. At the time it wasn’t conceivable that anyone outside of Israel could enter into God’s everlasting covenant. The Lord, however, freely offers forgiveness to anyone who turns and calls on Him. The “thoughts and ways” by which God accomplished the salvation of the world are “higher” than man’s. The Suffering Servant in chapter 53 is vastly different from the Messiah Israel envisioned. Those who trust in Him can have confidence that God’s Word will accomplish His purpose – the salvation and satisfaction of their souls.

How should I respond?
Today’s passage is like a roadmap to a higher plane of thought – God’s thoughts. The mind of God is revealed in the promises and principles of Scripture. Every part of God’s Word accomplishes its purpose when it goes out through Bible teaching, preaching, and study. God’s first purpose for His Word in your life is salvation through a relationship with Jesus Christ. As that relationship deepens, Scripture begins the process of shaping you into His image. Little by little your thoughts begin to line up with His thoughts, on a higher plane. What will you allow God’s Word to accomplish in your life today?

June 20, 2019

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Read – Romans 5

What does it say?
Sin and death entered the world through Adam, but grace and righteousness came through Jesus Christ.

What does it mean?
Every person born into the world is related to Adam by flesh and blood. Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden plunged all of mankind into sin and death. The only way to escape the judgment and condemnation of being “in Adam” is to accept God’s gift of righteousness through a spiritual relationship with Jesus. Being “in Christ” offers eternal life and so much more. The added benefits include peace with God, access to God, knowing the love of God, being reconciled to God, experiencing the grace of God, and receiving the gift of God: righteousness.

How should I respond?
Spend an hour in a room of two-year-olds, and you’ll see evidence of man’s sin nature. Still, it’s not politically correct to tell people they are born sinners because it may harm their self-esteem. Yet the Bible says we’re all born sinners condemned to judgment. In Scripture, “But God” is usually followed by a divine act of grace or mercy. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died for you! How can anything boost your self-esteem more than that? You cannot change the fact that you were born in Adam, but you can choose to live in Christ.

June 20, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 54

What does it say?
The Lord Almighty will again show compassion and everlasting kindness to His rejected bride. His unfailing love and covenant of peace cannot be shaken or removed.

What does it mean?
God’s promise of Jerusalem’s future peace and glory in the millennial kingdom was comforting to His people. Despite being rejected and estranged for years, the Lord will restore His holy city and chosen people. Israel will yet experience the salvation of the Lord. God’s description of Himself throughout this passage shows how and why such a restoration is possible. He is their Maker, husband, the Lord Almighty, Holy One of Israel, Redeemer, and God of all the earth. As such, He keeps His covenant of peace and shows unfailing love, deep compassion, and everlasting kindness.

How should I respond?
Certain people, places, and even food can offer a degree of comfort, but only temporarily. Lasting reassurance has to come from an unassailable source. Look back over today’s passage. Jot down one character trait and one name of God that stand out to you. Place them on a mirror or the refrigerator, so you’ll see them often. How do those specific qualities of the Lord bring comfort in light of your current circumstances? Your situation is not too much for the Creator and Sustainer of the world. Will you choose to turn to Him when life gets turned upside down?

June 19, 2019

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Read – Psalms 63, 64

What does it say?
David longed for God like a body longs for water. He trusted God to deliver him from his enemies and their slanderous attacks.

What does it mean?
David found himself on the run again, hiding in the wilderness. While he suffered deprivation of good food and plentiful water, the most difficult deprivation was his inability to worship God in the Temple. He missed the opportunity to proclaim the praises of the Lord in the community of God’s people. David’s desire to be in the Lord’s presence drove him to pray, calling out to God for protection and deliverance. Even in his wilderness situation, David found comfort, hope, and rest in God’s presence.

How should I respond?
What difficult experiences of life have caused you to feel isolated? When those times come, follow David’s example and turn your thoughts to God. His presence is a refreshing fountain and a place of hope and rest. The circumstances may seem harsh, and your enemies may be aggressive and oppressive, but God’s provision is greater. Are you under personal attack or separated from your church family? You are not alone; God is able to bring victory, so rest and hope in Him.

June 19, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 52:13-53:12

What does it say?
God’s Servant brought healing and peace by taking the punishment of the wicked for their transgressions. After suffering, He will justify and make intercession for many.

What does it mean?
This passage prophesies the rejection, suffering, and glorification of the Lord’s Servant. His sacrifice, although a future event, is stated in past tense. God’s work of salvation was already complete. According to God’s will, His Servant took the brutal punishment for every sin. No one is without guilt in His death because “all have gone astray” from God like sheep wandering from their shepherd. The Servant’s death and resurrection made peace with God possible, ending the need for further sacrifice. The Lord’s Servant will no longer be despised and rejected, but glorified and highly exalted.

How should I respond?
We often shy away from passages in Scripture that describe the brutality associated with the death of Jesus. Today’s passage causes us to pause and consider the cost He paid for the sins of the entire world. Each of us played a part in His death. It was as much our own sin that caused Jesus’ suffering as it was those there the day He was crucified. What is your reaction to the death and resurrection of Christ? Have you made peace with God through His sacrifice? You are accepted because He was rejected. Who do you need to tell today about salvation through the suffering Servant, Jesus?

June 18, 2019

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Read – Psalms 62

What does it say?
David found rest for his soul by waiting on God, who is trustworthy.

What does it mean?
This psalm reveals David’s confidence in God’s trustworthiness even when others attacked or abandoned him. David was so convinced in God’s ability to rescue him that he found rest in God while waiting on Him to accomplish all that He had promised. The words “wait” (NKJV) and “rest” (NIV) are used interchangeably in the sense of finding security in God and His ability. This kind of rest is an expectant abiding, which results in hope and can be found only by trusting God. David’s point is simple: God can be counted on to complete what He starts.

How should I respond?
Most of us would not use the words “wait” and “rest” as synonyms. For instance, we hate to wait in line at the grocery store, but we look forward to a beach vacation as a period of rest. Today’s psalm reminds us that even when things go wrong, we can find true rest while waiting on God to complete His plan. When you find yourself being a bit impatient, go to God directly. Pour out your heart to Him. He always listens; He’s never late or in a hurry, and He is trustworthy. You can be confident in the Lord and His plan. Waiting is never easy, but the hope that comes from relying on God is worth the effort. Sit back. Rest. Your heavenly Father has all things under control.

June 18, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 52:1-12

What does it say?
The God of Israel still reigns and will return to Jerusalem, bringing salvation, comfort, and shouts of joy.

What does it mean?
Isaiah’s dual prophecy in this passage foretold the joyous return of God’s people from Babylon and the Messiah’s peaceful reign when He returns to Zion. The immediate prophecy gave Israel comfort that they would be restored to their homeland and to their God. The Lord’s power would leave no doubt that it was the God of Israel who rescued His people. Their deliverance is a picture of the Messiah’s redemption of the world. The Messianic prophecy spoke of a still future day when Christ will rule for eternity.

How should I respond?
Just as God delivered His people from captivity in Babylon, He has provided a way to deliver us from slavery to sin through Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ, we have been given the mission to bring the “good news” of salvation to anyone still held captive by the chains of sin (Matt. 28:19-20). How are you proclaiming salvation to your community? Who do you need to tell about the joy, peace, and comfort you have found in Jesus? Don’t be silent today; “Your God reigns!”

June 17, 2019

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Read – Romans 4

What does it say?
Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

What does it mean?
Paul described God as an accountant and a person’s life as a ledger. According to Romans 1:18-3:20 mankind has been declared morally and spiritually bankrupt. God credits the person of faith and belief with righteousness, balancing the books. Both David and Abraham were counted righteous apart from their actions, spiritual heritage, or ability to keep the law. Abraham trusted God wholeheartedly and was credited as righteous in God’s sight based on faith in God’s promises. Salvation has always been by grace through faith.

How should I respond?
How would you react if you were going through bankruptcy, and a billionaire linked your account to his personal fortune, removing all debt and giving you boundless resources? The only requirement would be faith in the value and ability of his money to settle your accounts. Paul ends today’s passage with a promise “for us who believe in Him.” As a follower of Christ, God’s righteousness has been placed into your account, and all sin was removed from your ledger. Are you, like Abraham, totally dependent on God with unwavering belief? Righteousness can’t be earned; it’s a free gift!

June 17, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 51

What does it say?
God comforted the righteous people among Israel who were suffering in the wake of the consequences of the sins committed by the rest of Israel.

What does it mean?
Throughout the Old Testament there are many references to a “faithful remnant” of God’s people, who did not walk in the sinful steps of the unfaithful. These are the people who obeyed the law when the rest of Israel disobeyed. These are the people who earnestly pursued the best interest of their fellow Israelites and kept their focus on God when the rest of Israel acted selfishly. In this chapter we find the faithful suffering along with the unfaithful, but God told them to wake up, look around, and see that He was in control of their situation and was about to save them from their suffering.

How should I respond?
Some days you may feel that you did everything right, but everything went wrong. On those days, we can learn a lesson from the faithful remnant in today’s passage. When you wake up, admit to God out loud, “I know You are in control of this day.” When you lie down at night, no matter how the day went, admit to God out loud, “I know You were in control of this day.” Sometimes God has bigger purposes in mind for the events of your day, things you cannot see in the short term. What situation immediately comes to mind? Will you choose to trust that God’s long-term plan is best?

June 16, 2019

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Read – Romans 3

What does it say?
No one is made righteous by their own works, but through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

What does it mean?
God chooses words very carefully. Chapter 3 contains four words that are essential to a full understanding of salvation. Righteousness characterizes perfect harmony with God’s Law, being free from sin and guilt. Propitiation is a sacrifice of atonement that satisfies God’s righteousness and turns aside His just wrath on a sinner. Justification is an act of God’s grace by which He declares the guilty as innocent based on his or her faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. And redemption reflects the price Jesus paid on the cross for every person’s sin – freeing believers from its bondage through His death.

How should I respond?
Imagine you’re in a courtroom standing before a judge. The prosecutor has overwhelming evidence of your guilt; you deserve to be condemned and can do nothing to help yourself. The judge is compassionate but cannot simply overlook your offenses. He not only upholds the demands of the law, he wrote the law. Then the judge offers a surprising and gracious solution; let his son pay the penalty for your actions. By accepting the offer, you’ll be declared “innocent,” giving you a right standing before the judge and justified in the eyes of the law. You will be set free. What a beautiful picture! Faith in Jesus, as the atonement for your sin, makes it possible to be righteous and justified before God. Have you settled your case with God?

June 16, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 50

What does it say?
Even though Israel sinned greatly against God, He would send them a servant to teach them – one who knows their suffering and speaks in ways they understand.

What does it mean?
Isaiah predicted that God’s special servant would be one who would be humble in the face of persecution. The servant would give his back to those who would beat him, his beard to those who would rip it out, and his face to those who would mock and spit on him. Over 700 years later Jesus’ followers could not help but notice how much Jesus acted in this manner when His back was whipped, when He was mocked, and when His face was slapped and spit upon before He was crucified. Just as the servant in Isaiah was vindicated by God, so was Jesus Christ when God raised Him from the dead.

How should I respond?
While we know that Jesus wants us to share the good news of salvation with the world (Acts 1:8), we often fear what our friends, family, or neighbors will think if we tell them. Jesus said that since the world hated Him first, the same will be true of those who follow Him (John 15:18-19). Imagine the worst-case scenario you might encounter in telling someone the good news of salvation. Ask God to give you the grace to overcome your anxiety of such a scenario. Now, imagine the best-case scenario you might encounter. This is why we tell people the good news!

June 15, 2019

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Read – Romans 2

What does it say?
All people are without excuse before God. He will judge the world through Jesus Christ.

What does it mean?
Paul described God’s dealings with three kinds of people. Each is charged with high treason against God. The moral person tries to gain God’s approval based on comparison with others, but he still fails to meet God’s standards. The pagan, or Gentile, tries to escape judgment based on ignorance. However, God has placed the essence of His law in each person’s heart. The religious person seeks God’s favor based on knowledge of Scripture and religious practices. Paul says this person knows about God but doesn’t have a relationship with God. Salvation and eternal life must be attained God’s way – through Jesus.

How should I respond?
Excuses – we all make them from time to time. However, everyone is without excuse for his or her sin before God. Do you identify with someone described in today’s passage? Are you a good or religious person trying to make your good deeds outweigh your bad? Morality and religious tradition can’t transform your heart. Salvation is internal and comes through belief in Christ alone. What excuses have you made to God this week? Submitting your heart to Jesus as Lord means not only knowing the truth but also obeying it, without excuse.

June 15, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 49

What does it say?
God had not forgotten His people. He was raising up a Servant to bring salvation and blessings to His people and to be light for the nations to find God.

What does it mean?
These first several verses comprise the second of four “servant songs” in the book of Isaiah (see also 42:1-4; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12). The Servant whom God has chosen has two purposes. The first is to use His words to speak on God’s behalf and call God’s children back to Him. Notice, however, that the Servant is to speak not only to Israel but to the other nations as well. The second purpose is to be a weapon in God’s hand to combat the chaos of the world. Later, Jesus and the Apostles would acknowledge Jesus’ ministry to be in line with that which Isaiah describes in these servant songs.

How should I respond?
Just as the Servant’s ultimate goal was to be a light for all the nations and bring salvation to the ends of the earth, Jesus calls us today to speak on God’s behalf and call all people to Him (John 12:32; Matt. 28:19-20). Whom can you tell the good news of salvation: that God forgives all their sin through what Jesus Christ has already done? Can you think of friends or family members who do not know or understand this yet? How might you start a conversation with them about this good news? God will help you find a way because it has always been His plan to bring salvation to the nations.

June 14, 2019

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Read – Romans 1

What does it say?
God’s wrath will come against all godlessness and wickedness, but grace is available through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

What does it mean?
Paul opened his letter to the Roman church by giving them good news and bad news. The bad news? The unrighteous nature of human beings is bent toward all manner of evil thoughts and behaviors. Paul lists sins like murder on equal footing with gossip and disobeying parents. Sin brings complete and eternal separation from God. The good news? He provides a perfect solution. By God’s grace, His righteousness is available through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gospel literally means “good news” and is summed up as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:3).

How should I respond?
No one likes bad news from the doctor, but we all have the same terminal diagnosis: “ungodliness and unrighteousness.” Have you accepted God’s remedy in the good news of Jesus? If so, your spiritual healing should be evident through your reactions and daily choices. As a follower of Christ, which ungodly things from your sinful nature have you allowed to creep back into your life – envy, boasting, or a refusal to forgive? The gospel of Christ has the power to completely transform your life. Live today in light of your new diagnosis: eternal life!

June 14, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 48

What does it say?
While Israel stubbornly clung to their idols, God proclaimed both the nation’s punishment and deliverance from Babylon.

What does it mean?
Israel had a history of responding to God’s deliverance and blessings with short-term thankfulness and obedience but long-term apathy and rebellion. Many generations of Israelites went through this cycle of rebellion – punishment – prayer – deliverance – thankfulness – and rebellion again. Isaiah, as well as the other prophets, proclaimed God’s message during Israel’s stage of rebellion but also during their stage of punishment. God seemed to be waiting for His children to say, “God, You are right, and we are wrong.”

How should I respond?
Why is it so hard to say, “I was wrong; I blew it; I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” When we sincerely apologize, there are usually no further negative consequences, but we are so slow to admit our fault! The peace we experience when we are forgiven outweighs whatever we think we might gain by not apologizing. Is there something you need to get right with someone? What has stopped you from apologizing and asking for forgiveness? Is there something you need to get right with God? He is waiting with open arms to listen to you and forgive you.

June 13, 2019

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Read – Acts 28

What does it say?
The shipwrecked men spent three months on the island of Malta then sailed for Rome. Paul spent two years under house arrest there, boldly teaching about the Lord Jesus.

What does it mean?
Paul wasn’t in control of his circumstances, but God was. The gospel traveled from Jerusalem to Rome along with Paul. His traumatic experiences along the way drove him to rely on the Holy Spirit and gave him deep understanding of scriptural principles, many of which he recorded for posterity while under house arrest. Had Paul arrived in Rome and said, “I’ve done my part” or “I’m hindered by chains,” then we wouldn’t have the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. He made no excuses to the Lord. When he could no longer go, God sent people to him. As Acts ends, Paul was still faithfully fulfilling his purpose of teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus Christ.

How should I respond?
Ancient Rome was steeped in the worship of mythological gods; yet the world today accepts this city as the central hub of Christianity, largely due to the influence of one homebound prisoner over two thousand years ago. From this observation we can glean an important principle: our inability to control life’s circumstances doesn’t hinder God. Is something keeping you from actively getting involved in serving Him – a new location or a health issue perhaps? Ask God to show you how to best serve Him, no matter how restrictive your situation appears to be.

June 13, 2021

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Read – Isaiah 46-47

What does it say?
Because there is only one true God, those who worship idols and trust in other gods will be ruined. God will destroy Babylon, despite all her bragging.

What does it mean?
In the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Assyria and Babylon were the two superpowers of the Middle East. God used Assyria to punish the northern kingdom of Israel, and He used Babylon to punish the southern kingdom of Judah. In these two chapters God explained to the Babylonians that the reason they were able to succeed in capturing Israel was that God was punishing His own children. However, the Babylonians grew arrogant, as if their own gods were responsible for their success. God rebuked Babylon and foretold their punishment for their failure to treat God’s people with kindness and God Himself with respect.

How should I respond?
Sometimes we allow a blessing from God to go to our heads, thinking it was a reward for being such a great person. The Bible tells us that every good gift is from God (James 1:17). He might have blessed us as a reward for something good we have done. Then again, maybe He blessed us because He wants to do something through us for others. Think about a blessing God has given you recently. It could be money, time, energy, compassion, or the ability to influence others. How can you use that blessing to bring others closer to God? How can you turn it into a means to bless others?