Archive for Verse of the Day and Devotional

Verse of the Day and Devotional 9/29/2022

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Verse of the Day

September 29th, 2022

Scripture

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. – Luke 2:19 ESV

Devotion

The birth of Christ is the most amazing occurrence in all of history. Not only for the miracle of the birth, but the impact this birth had on the world and history. It began with an 85-mile journey, a five- or six-day trip, to the city of Bethlehem for a required census. Joseph most likely walking, and Mary perhaps riding sidesaddle on a donkey. Swollen and achy from pregnancy and nearing birth, we imagine she felt every rut and jolt from the weathered and well-traveled dirt road.

Arriving in Bethlehem, they most likely faded into the mass of travelers also reporting for the census. There were no rooms left at the inn. All booked, no vacancy. It’s late. Joseph and Mary are exhausted and desperate as the contractions begin, so they take shelter near where the animals are kept. The birth soon begins. No epidural, no hospital, no sedative to ease the pain. We imagine Mary’s moans and cries piercing the stable and night air. Pushing with all her strength, the Messiah arrives! Born into a trauma-filled world from a common Jewish girl, and then the first cries of the Divine! “For unto us a child is born…”(Isaiah 9:6). Joseph and an exhausted Mary are in awe and wonder, treasuring this moment and all that led up to it from the Immaculate conception, the promise of a Savior fulfilled.

There was no notice of this royal birth. No congratulations from heads of states and provinces. There’s no record that angels were present. It was only the mice and fleas and grunts and groans from the host of animals in the stable who witnessed this amazing and glorious occurrence.

Heaven took notice though. Angels rejoiced, perhaps the captives stirred, a star proudly displayed itself in the night skies of the desert marking the birthplace of the Savior of the world. An announcement went forth to some shepherds in their field who traveled to this place to wonder and worship to see the Savior.

On the surface, the majesty of the birth of Christ is absurd. Born of a virgin, in an animal barn, in poverty to a commoner Jewish girl, the circumstances cast doubt on any claims of majesty. It was absurd to an unbelieving world, but not to those who saw this event. The shepherds, the first evangelists of the Gospel age, went back to their sheep telling everyone along the way and glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen. Those who heard were also astonished (Luke 2:18-20).

Mary responded as she “treasured up all these things” that happened. She reflected deeply on the significance of the birth of her child and kept it all in her thoughts. She “pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). We imagine her mulling it all over, seeking understanding while cradling her newborn, gazing into the eyes of her baby boy and accepting the call in her heart to mother and nurture her child all the days of His life.

In 2 Timothy 4:8, the apostle Paul speaks to the believer’s great reward of the crown of righteousness to all those who love and look forward to the promise of our Lord’s return. I hope your heart is in that place. And in the meantime, let us treasure and ponder the first appearing of our Lord as Paul testifies in 1 Timothy 1:10. Our last enemy, death, was defeated forevermore in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. “Oh death where is your sting, Oh grave, where is your victory” (1 Corinthians 15:56).

When was the last time you truly took time and treasured all that brought you to your salvation? When was the last time you pondered what the birth of Christ means to you? Does His peace that surpasses all understanding truly rule your heart today? Let us all make abundant room in our hearts for Jesus this day and all He did for us in defeating death.

Today, treasure, ponder, and embrace Him with open arms and with the grace to be still and know He is God and the Savior of the world.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 9/8/2022

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Verse of the Day

September 8th, 2022

Scripture

For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

Devotion

At a point in eternity past, Creator God said, “Let there be light,” (Genesis 1:3) and the darkness surrounding the world was pierced with the blaze of light that, at first glistened on top of the waves of a watery surface, but in time penetrated the very crevices of its land masses. We are told of this in Scripture, and in the process, we give ready assent, but if we could have seen the event take place, we would have stood in amazement and awe at the creative majesty of God. And now, light is taken for granted, and we grumble and yearn for it on dark and gloomy days.

The apostle Paul continually reminds the church through his letters that mankind’s heart was plunged into a darkness so deep that, left in that condition, there is no way of understanding who God is, or what God is like (2 Corinthians 4:4). Not until the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” is revealed to us, can we see the very image of God!

Christians, we, who have seen the Christ through Scripture, the very image of God Himself, we should be glad! We should be rejoicing, for at a point in human history God again pierced the universe from His throne in the heavenlies with a light that enters into the darkness of the soul and illuminates us to see and know Him for all of eternity. Our knowledge of God is not dependent upon our comprehension of exactly how that light came, only to believe He has come for us! “Unto us a child is born! To us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). His coming gives us the opportunity to walk in the “light of life” (John 8:12) and avoid stumbling in the darkness of our soul which leads to a wasted life and tragic eternity.

This Christmas season, take time to earnestly gaze into the face of Jesus as we see Him revealed in Scripture. Honestly allow the “light of the world” to penetrate your heart, revealing both the dark crevices of sin that need to be rooted from our souls, but also the “fruit” where spiritual light has cultivated growth for His glory. This is really the essential opportunity on the top of our to-do list this season.

By Bill Niblette, Ph.D., Bible League Staff, Pennsylvania

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 9/1/2022

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Verse of the Day

September 1st, 2022

Scripture

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” – Revelation 1:8 NLT
 

Devotion

What does it mean that the Lord God is the Alpha and Omega? The first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet symbolize that He is the ultimate source and origin of every created reality and that He has determined the end or goal towards which every created reality moves through time.

First, He is the one who was. Before the foundation of the created order, the Lord God was. Everything that exists has Him as its ultimate cause and explanation. He set up the created order and thereby determined the fundamental nature and purpose of all things. Whatever created thing exists must do so within the framework He has established every created thing, and every created thing is ultimately dependent upon Him for its very existence.

Second, He is the one who is. The Lord God not only established the created order, He also continues to be involved with it. This is the Lord God’s providence. He did not just create everything and then cease to be involved with what He created. Everything is dependent upon Him. If He ceased to be involved, the whole created order would cease to exist. By His providential concern He continues to uphold, oversee, and govern all created reality.

Finally, He is the one who is still to come. Just as the Lord God continues to uphold, oversee, and govern all created reality through His divine providence in the present, so likewise He will do so in the future. Everything within the created order is moving through time in accordance with His plans and purposes into the future that He has determined. His divine providence, as a result, determines the end or goal towards which everything is moving.

The Lord God is the Almighty One. He is the all-powerful, uncreated reality upon which every created reality depends for its very nature and existence. He is the divine reality before whom every human being is responsible and accountable. Ultimately, you cannot evade Him or ignore Him. If you try, you do so at your own peril.

Today, take a moment and stand in awe of the majesty and glory of the Almighty One, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 8/25/2022

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Verse of the Day

August 25th, 2022

Scripture

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15 NIV
 

Devotion

I struggle with wanting to be understood. Don’t we all? Don’t we all wish we could find that person who just gets us? I think most of us dream of finding someone who empathizes with our struggles and validates our emotions. We look for that moment of vulnerability where we pour out our deepest emotions and have someone say, “I get it! I feel the exact same way!”

But we’re never going to find the person who understands every moment, every situation, every emotion we go through. No one lives the same experiences with the same viewpoint as us. And because of that, life can feel pretty lonely.

Thankfully, Jesus gets it. Jesus gets us.

God chose to send His Son to live a human life, to be born as we are, to grow as we do, and to experience this broken world as we do. The choice to send Jesus as a baby was a choice to give us an ally, an advocate, someone who can speak on our behalf because he understands our issues. He gave us a Savior who can empathize with us.

Jesus felt betrayal when Judas sold him out. He felt physical pain when they crucified Him. He felt sadness when Lazarus died. He felt anger when He flipped the tables in the temple. He felt temptation when the enemy tried to trick him. He felt the desperation of painful obedience when He cried out in the garden.

He felt it all. And now He meets us there to be with us in the midst of our emotions. There’s nothing more comforting than an understanding ear, and we have that in our Savior.

This year has been lonely and difficult for all of us. I pray that you’ve found comfort in the Lord, in our understanding Savior. As we move into 2021, continue to confide in Him. Continue to rest in Him. Continue to trust in Him. He hears you, He understands, and He wants to meet you right where you are.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 8/18/2022

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Verse of the Day

August 18th, 2022

Scripture

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

Devotion

What should a Christian do always? What should a Christian do without ceasing? What should a Christian do in every circumstance? Our verses for today give us three items the Apostle Paul believes should be constants of the Christian life.

First of all, we should rejoice always. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Christians have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and have joy as part of the package. It is incumbent upon us to allow this joy to manifest in our lives even when we don’t feel like it. It is significant that this injunction was written by an apostle that had suffered so much. Despite any negative circumstances, Christians have a lot to be joyful about. There should always be an atmosphere of joy surrounding us.

Second, we should pray without ceasing. This does not mean we should give up every activity other than prayer, but that we should maintain a close personal relationship to God. The lines of communication to the Father in heaven should always remain open and we should feel free to share the thoughts, cares, concerns, and desires of our heart with God at any time. God wants us to maintain our relationship to Him. What He doesn’t want is for us to go our own way apart from Him.

Finally, we should give thanks in all circumstances. The person who is willing to give thanks in all circumstances is the person who takes Romans 8:28 seriously: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” There are plenty of examples in the Bible of people whose trials, troubles, and tribulations were the very means by which God could use them in mighty ways. Joseph’s imprisonment in Egypt, for example, was the vehicle for his elevation to being second only to Pharaoh. One cannot give thanks in all circumstances unless they truly believe that God is working for the good in all things.

These three items are not mere suggestions. They are the very will of God for us. Let us be full of joy and thanksgiving, and let us pray without ceasing.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 8/11/2022

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Verse of the Day

August 11th, 2022

Scripture

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? – Mark 8:36 NIV

Devotion

When you add it all up, what really pays off in life in the long run?

There are those in life, on the one hand, that think the only thing that really pays is to do everything you can to save your life, enhance your life, and gain as much of anything and everything as you can. Life only pays if you’re living the high life at the top of the heap. For them, anything that requires personal sacrifice, anything that endangers life, anything that does not pay off in the here and now is to be avoided at all costs.

There are those in life, on the other hand, that think the only thing that really pays is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. They do whatever it takes to be a disciple even if it means losing their lives, living life at a lower level, or not having as much of anything and everything your heart desires. Life only pays if you’re living the life God has called you to live. For them, anything that requires personal sacrifice, anything that endangers life, anything that does not pay off in the here and now is acceptable if it means the kingdom of God is advanced and enhanced.

The trouble with living the high life, however, is that it really doesn’t pay off in the long run; it really is short-sighted. You may gain the whole world, but lose your own soul. You will have sacrificed eternity for the temporary rewards of the here and now.

The benefit of being a disciple, on the other hand, is that it really does pay off in the long run; it really is far-sighted. You may lose the world, but you will preserve your own soul. You may sacrifice fame and fortune in the here and now, but you will have gained everything for all eternity.

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then take the long view of life befitting you. Ask yourself if what you are doing is advancing and enhancing the kingdom of God, or if it is nothing more than a pitiful attempt to save and enhance your own life.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 7/28/2022

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Verse of the DayJuly 28th, 2022

Scripture

The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. – Psalm 34:19 NLT

Devotion

In this world we have and will have troubles. King David says even the righteous person faces many troubles. And he would know, for he was a righteous man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), and he faced many of them. Although we face troubles of all kinds, we may take comfort in the conviction that the Lord rescues us from them all.

How does God rescue us from them all?

First of all, God may rescue us by totally delivering us from our troubles in the here and now. The Bible is full of examples of the people of God being rescued from their troubles. Although Abraham and Sarah could not have children, God gave them a child in their old age (Genesis 21:1-7). When the Israelites were stuck between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, God parted the sea and let them cross on dry land (Exodus 14). When the Apostle Peter was in prison, the Lord sent an angel to free him (Acts 12:1-19).

Secondly, there is a sense in which God rescues us from our troubles by turning them from something that was meant by Satan to destroy us into something that actually benefits us. The Apostle Paul says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). God uses the troubles of Satan to make us more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29). With those in Christ, trouble loses its significance as a destructive force, for “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Finally, God ultimately rescues us from our troubles in the next life. Sometimes the sick die, sometimes the lives of the persecuted are sacrificed, and sometimes, like the Apostle Paul, we live with a “thorn in the flesh” for all of our lives (2 Corinthians 12:7). If our faith does not see its breakthrough in this life, however, it will see it in the next life (Revelation 21:4).

Satan is the trouble-maker. His evil and illegitimate regime functions like a parasite within God’s very good earthly creation. That’s why we see troubles of many kinds.

Take heart, however, for the Lord comes to our rescue each time.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 7/14/2022

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Verse of the DayJuly 14th, 2022

Scripture

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

Devotion

At the end of Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul proclaimed to the church at Corinth the glory of their final destiny. He proclaimed to them that the “corruptible must put on incorruption” and the “mortal must put on immortality.” He proclaimed to them that when this happens “Death is swallowed up in victory.” And all of this is because we have the ultimate “victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:53-57).

Given the glory of our ultimate victory through Christ, Paul exhorted the church in our verse for today to do three things:

First of all, they should remain steadfast and immovable. It was part of Paul’s practice in all the churches to warn them that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12), and that “after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). Despite all of this, the church should stand fast in the faith.

Second, the church should always abound in the work of the Lord. The persecution and the savage wolves will be sent by Satan for the very purpose of stopping this work. Nevertheless, the church should stay steadfast and immovable and abound in every work. That is, they should not just do some work, they should do an overabundance of work. The church should do all they can to advance and enhance the Kingdom of God.

Finally, the church should know that their labor will not be in vain. Despite the persecution and the savage wolves, the work of the church will go forth and be successful. Jesus’ prophecy that the church will be His witness “to the ends of the earth” will come true (Acts 1:8). Further, if the church will remain steadfast and immovable and abound in the work of the Lord, they will reap Jesus’ promise of “a hundredfold now in this time” and His promise of “everlasting life” (Mark 10:30).

There may be persecutions and savage wolves that have pushed you to the point of giving up your work. Remain steadfast and immovable, for that work is not done in vain.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 7/7/2022

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Verse of the DayJuly 7th, 2022

Scripture

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 NLT

Devotion

Our verses today form what has come to be known as the Great Commission, the virtual marching orders for the church. There are three orders: make disciples, baptize them, and teach them.

The reason the disciples are to do these three things is that Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Why is this relevant? Because Jesus has been given all authority, it follows that there is nothing that can prevent the church from fulfilling His orders. Jesus is in control “far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else” (Ephesians 1:21). Although the church may yet face opposition to its task, it will not be stopped from fulfilling the commission.

Given Christ’s authority, the disciples are to go forth and make new disciples from all nations. They do this by leading people to faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In effect, they go forth and make new members of the Church, new citizens of the Kingdom of God.

The disciples are also to baptize these new disciples. Baptism is significant because it is a symbol that represents the disciples dying and rising with Christ and having their sins washed away. Baptism signifies the disciple’s having passed from citizenship in the kingdom of darkness to citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

The disciples are also to teach the new disciples to obey all the commands Jesus gave them. In its broadest sense, teaching the commands of Jesus means teaching the whole Bible, because Jesus’ commands presuppose previous biblical revelation and form the foundation of the biblical revelation that was yet to come. It means to teach the new disciples everything they need to know to be effective citizens in the Kingdom of God.

As a member of the Church, as a citizen of the Kingdom, you are participating in some way, shape, or form in fulfilling the Great Commission—and Jesus is with you.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 6/30/2022

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Verse of the DayJune 30th, 2022

Scripture

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3 NKJV

Devotion

We live in a culture that places a lot of importance on holding rational beliefs based strictly on evidence. In his famous 1877 essay “The Ethics of Belief,” W.K. Clifford states that “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” Clifford’s essay is directed against all those who place value on faith and religious belief apart from evidence.

Our verse for today was Jesus Christ’s response to His disciples’ question as to who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. His view is that unless one has the faith of a little child, one cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. And He goes on to say that “whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). From Jesus’ point of view, when one is confronted with the truth of the Gospel and God’s Word, one should accept it in faith as a little child, without any attempts to determine if there is sufficient evidence to accept it. After all, one should never question God’s veracity.

How should the Christian who takes Jesus at His word respond to someone like Clifford? Perhaps the first thing that should be said is that Clifford himself does not escape taking a position of faith. His faith, however, is not in God’s Word, but in the word of human reason. His belief that only rational beliefs based on evidence should be accepted cannot itself be a rational belief based on evidence. It is a belief born of faith—child-like faith in the ability of human reason to show us the way in the world.

Everyone, then, even W.K. Clifford, has child-like faith. It’s just a question of what that faith is placed in. A decision must be made. Upon whom will you place your faith? Upon whom will you entrust your present and future well-being? Will you have faith in the word of fallible and limited human beings and their human reasoning? Or will you have faith in the Word of the infallible and unlimited God of heaven and earth?

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