Archive for Verse of the Day and Devotional

Verse of the Day and Devotion 8/15/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.  – I Corinthians 16:17-18 NKJV

Devotion

In the main area of life to which you have been called you were going along as you should have been going along. You were going along as planned. The things that you were supposed to be doing you were doing. Everything was good. Everything was moving in the right direction. True, there were some things that needed to be done that weren’t being done, but those were things outside of your particular gifting. As far as you were concerned, they could wait. Wait for what? You weren’t quite sure about that, but you weren’t going to let it worry you.

As it turned out, you didn’t have to worry about it, because the Lord saw to the problem for you. He sent you what you needed. He sent you the people that could take on what needed to be taken on. Like Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus in our verses for today, what was lacking on your part they supplied. They had the gifts that you lacked. They had the experience that you lacked as well. They started what needed to be started and it was a blessing to your cause. Things would be different. Things would be better than before. Indeed, they would be better than ever.

Even further, it was more that just a supplying of what was lacking. It was also a refreshing of your spirit, and the spirits of your fellow workers, at the same time. The people the Lord sent had special gifts, spiritual gifts, that seemed to fire up the gifts of everyone else. The whole effort was refreshed and renewed. You thought the things that weren’t getting done could wait. Now, in retrospect, you’re wondering how you ever got along without them. Your service in the Kingdom of God has been taken to a whole new level.

Don’t forget, therefore, to do what the Apostle Paul says you should do. Don’t forget to acknowledge those that have come to help you. Don’t forget to acknowledge their special gifts and their service. And don’t allow jealousy and envy of what they have, and of what they brought to the whole effort, to keep you from doing the right thing.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 8/8/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

All this is from God…  – II Corinthians 5:18 ESV

Devotion

What does “All this” in our verse for today refer to specifically? The previous verse has the answer: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (II Corinthians 5:17) The “All this,” in other words, is the new creation that you have become in Christ Jesus. If you are a Christian, then the old has gone. That is, the old you, the spiritually sinful you, is gone. The new you, the spiritually righteous you, is here. It may not always look like it, but it is from God and, therefore, it is a reality.

This means that you have to look at Christians, including yourself, from a different point of view. As the Apostle Paul put it, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” What he means by this is that we should no longer regard Christians as being worldly in nature and character. It’s because Christians, including yourself, are new creations in Christ Jesus. As said before, it may not always look like it, but from God’s point of view it is a reality. As a result, you should never condemn Christians, including yourself. (Romans 8:1)

Today, you may have good reason to question whether this is true. You may find it hard to believe that someone like you, someone that still struggles with the old sin nature, can be a new creation. What you need to realize, however, is that the Bible is well aware of the struggles that you have with it. (see, for example, Galatians 5:17) Although it was crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), it still tries to rise from the dead and cause trouble from time to time. Despite this, the Bible regards you as a new creation.

The Bible regards you this way because God is no longer counting your sins against you. As Paul goes on to say, God “reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” (II Corinthians 5:18-19) God made Christ Jesus “to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5:21)

Do not listen, then, to any condemnation Satan is sending your way. Do not lose heart! God has made you a new creation and that is that!

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Verse of the Day and Devotion 8/1/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…  – I Timothy 6:18 ESV

Devotion

You’ve been blessed financially. Although you might protest, most people would say that you’re rich. After all, you have everything you need. Indeed, you have more than enough. Instead of living hand to mouth, you store up the excess. Instead of scraping the funds together to pay the bills, you hire someone to pay them for you.

So, given your wealth, what do you do from the biblical point of view? The Apostle Paul has the answer:

First, you make an attitude adjustment. In the previous verse Paul says, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (I Timothy 6:17) In other words, don’t be so proud to think that your riches will always be there for you. In and of themselves, riches are uncertain. All it takes is an unexpected stock market crash, a housing collapse, a downturn in the economy, etc., and you’re in trouble. Trust in riches is a poor substitute for trust in God.

Second, you do what our verse for today says you should do:

You do good. That is, you do good with the financial resources you have. Instead of acting like the rich fool who said to himself, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry” (Luke 12:19), you get to work making wise investments that create new products and services, companies, and jobs. You do good by putting your wealth to work in ways that will bless people, including yourself.

You also do good works. You use your wealth to finance endeavors in the not-for-profit world. There are churches that need to be built, missionary endeavors that need to be supplied, Christian schools and colleges that need operating funds, and the list goes on. You make yourself a partner of these worthy endeavors.

And you also share what you have, especially with your fellow believers. Elsewhere Paul says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

It takes money to expand and enhance the Kingdom of God. You have the money. Start, then, to make the kind of investments that will reward you for all eternity.” (I Timothy 6:19)

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Verse of the Day and Devotion 7/25/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

You are all people who belong to the light. You belong to the day. We don’t belong to the night or to darkness.  – I Thessalonians 5:5 ERV

Devotion

There are two kinds of people. The first kind are those who belong to the night and to darkness. The second kind are those who belong to the day and to light.

What’s the difference between the two?

Those who belong to the night and to darkness are, figuratively, drunk and asleep. It’s because, says the Apostle Paul, “People who sleep, sleep at night. People who drink too much, drink at night.” (I Thessalonians 5:7) Applying Paul’s figures, this means that such people are in no condition to see what’s coming. What’s coming? Jesus is coming. The return of Jesus Christ to earth is coming. Those who belong to the first kind of people are so caught up in the darkness of their sin that they have no clue about Jesus’ return. Thus, they will be surprised by His return like those who are surprised by a thief in the night. (I Thessalonians 5:2)

Those who belong to the day and to light, on the other hand, are, figuratively, awake and sober. It’s because people who stay awake and sober do so in the day. Applying the figures, they’re prepared for the return of Jesus. Thus, Paul can say, “But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness. And so that day will not surprise you like a thief.” (I Thessalonians 5:4) Since they belong to the day, they stay awake, keep control of themselves, and look forward to the return of Jesus. Indeed, they keep an eye out for Him and take note of the signs of His coming.

The first kind of people are, of course, non-Christians and the second kind are Christians. The reason why Christians belong to the day and to light is that they have received light. They have received the light of Jesus Christ by faith. The Apostle John puts it this way: “In Him there was life, and that life was a light for the people of the world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it.” (John 1:4-5) Having received the light of Jesus Christ, they can see what’s going on in the world. They can see what’s coming in the world.

Apart from Christ, on the other hand, you’re in the dark. Apart from Christ, you belong to the night and to darkness.

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Verse of the Day and Devotion 7/18/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

“But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!” – II Chronicles 6:18 ESV

Devotion

If one were to try and compare the Lord God with His creation, as difficult as that is, then perhaps the most feasible analogy is that the creation is like the contents inside a box and the Lord is like the owner of the box. As the owner, He’s outside the box because He’s the source of the box and its contents. He’s the Creator of His creation.

To continue with the analogy, inside the box would be the earth, the starry heavens, and even the spiritual heaven, angels included. All of it would be inside the box because all of it was created by Him. (Genesis 1:1) He, in contrast, was not created by anyone or anything. He just is, eternal and complete in Himself, not dependent upon anything.

That’s why Solomon wonders how it could be that the Lord God would dwell with man on the earth. Specifically, he wonders how it could be that the Lord would dwell in the temple he had built for Him. The Lord Himself, of course, wanted the temple to be built (I Chronicles 17:1-15), but Solomon still wonders how it could be, given that nothing can contain Him.

The same goes for the starry heavens. Vast as they are, they cannot contain the Lord God. Even the spiritual heaven, what Solomon calls the “highest heaven,” cannot contain Him. Although His manifest presence is located there, although the angels and the departed saints are with Him there, He cannot be contained there. The Lord God, one might say, cannot be “boxed in” anywhere, not even in the highest heaven above.

Nevertheless, this great God, this incomprehensible God, deigns to dwell inside of His creation. He does this by revealing Himself in creaturely terms that can be experienced. He does this by revealing Himself in a number of different ways. Included among them is His revelation of Himself as seated on a throne in the highest heaven, ruling and reigning from there. (e.g., Isaiah 6:1; Psalm 47:8) He also did it by revealing Himself in the Holy of Holies of the temple Solomon built. In our own day, one way He does it is by revealing Himself in the hearts of the men and women that love Him. (John 14:23)

Although this great God cannot be contained, He loves His creatures enough to dwell with them and to make Himself known to them.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 7/11/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  – Luke 24:36 NIV

Devotion

It was the Sunday evening of the day of the resurrection. Understandably enough, the disciples of Jesus were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. (John 20:19) Understandably enough, they were afraid that the leaders might do the same thing to them that they did to Jesus. The two disciples that had been walking on the road to Emmaus had just told the rest of the disciples about their encounter with Jesus. (Luke 24:33-35) At that precise moment, Jesus Himself stood among them and said the words in our verse for today: “Peace be with you.”

Like the disciples hiding out behind locked doors, you are a disciple of Jesus. Like them, you have made the decision to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24) In effect, you have stuck your neck out a long way. After all, not everyone is happy about your decision. In point of fact, some people are downright angry about it. They think you’re a religious fanatic. As far as they’re concerned, your exclusive claims about Jesus being “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6) are wild exaggerations and intolerant in the extreme. As a result, they think you’re a danger to the rest of society.

Like the disciples, you’re afraid of what the angry people might do. Maybe it hasn’t gotten to the point yet where you feel the need to meet behind locked doors with fellow disciples, but you’re concerned just the same. You’re worried about what you should do next. You’re anxious about the potential consequences of what you do next. You’re going over the scenarios in your mind, one after the other. At one point, you even considered just backing away from the calling the Lord placed on your heart.

It’s when it gets like this that Jesus shows up. Maybe He doesn’t appear bodily, as He did for the early disciples, but He’s there every bit as much. And He’s saying the same thing to you that He said to them: “Peace be with you.”

He’s saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 7/4/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  – II Timothy 2:1 NKJV

Devotion

The trials, troubles, tribulations, and persecutions that we encounter in life can be many. They can also be severe. The Apostle Paul, for example, wrote his letter to Timothy from prison. Even worse, he wrote when many of those that should have supported him at that point in his life turned away from him instead. Indeed, he said that all “those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” (II Timothy 1:15) If it weren’t for people like Onesiphorus, who “was not ashamed of my chain,” he would have been totally abandoned. (II Timothy 1:16)

Given what can happen to us in the sinful and evil world that we live in, it’s important to be strong. Even though the trials and troubles can get to us, even though they can wear us down, we can’t give up and we can’t give in. Although we may be tired and worn out, we can’t just throw up our hands and let things like shame dictate our course of action. Knowing the temptations to give up, Paul felt the need to exhort Timothy to “not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.” (II Timothy 1:8)

Although it’s important to be strong, the strength in question is key. In our verse for today, Paul did not urge Timothy to be strong in and of himself. He urged him to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” The last thing that’s needed when the trials and tribulations of life come along is an attempt to deal with them in the power of one’s own strength. It’s because that kind of strength isn’t good enough. It isn’t strong enough. Eventually it wears out. Eventually, it ceases to support what needs to be supported. People can surrender to things like shame when they rely on that kind of strength.

If we do what Paul told Timothy to do, if we rely on the grace of Christ Jesus instead of our own strength, then we can be what we need to be under even the most trying of circumstances. We can be what Paul told Timothy to be: “a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (II Timothy 2:3)

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 6/27/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”  – Isaiah 35:3-4 NLT

Devotion

This isn’t going to last forever. Right now, it may seem that way, but it’s not going to be that way much longer. Why not? It’s because an important shift has happened. In heaven above a shift has taken place that will eventually manifest itself on earth below. The days of denial and frustration are coming to a close. The days of lack and emptiness are coming to a close as well. Isaiah says, “Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.” (Isaiah 35:1) Moreover, nothing can stop it from manifesting.

Indeed, can’t you see that it’s almost here? Can’t you see that it’s right around the corner? Is there something wrong with your eyes? Isaiah quotes the Lord God Himself on this point: ‘”For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”‘ (Isaiah 43:19) The new thing the Lord is doing is better than what He did in the past. It’s so good that it will even make people forget about all the good things He did before. (Isaiah 43:18)

If you can see it coming, if your eyes are good enough to see it coming, then there’s something you need to do. You need to do what our verse for today says you need to do. You need to spread the good news. You need to “strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees.” Don’t leave the fearful wallowing in their fear. Say to them, “Be strong and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” Instead of joining them in their fear and unbelief, strengthen them and lift them up.

After all, that’s what people do who have the faith to see. They don’t keep the good news to themselves. They spread it around. They spread it around to those that need it every bit as much as they do.

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 6/20/19

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.  – II Timothy 2:21 NLT

Devotion

According to the Apostle Paul’s imagery, people can be compared to household utensils, of which there are two basic kinds: “In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use.” (II Timothy 2:20) In the verse that follows, our verse for today, Paul exhorts Timothy to be one of the special utensils that’s fit for honorable use, that’s fit for every good work the Master, Jesus Christ, has for him.

Since keeping oneself pure is key for being a special utensil, how does one do it?

The first thing that needs to be said about this is that the Apostle Paul is not advising Timothy, and all the rest of us by extension, to somehow achieve purity in the power of our own strength and effort. Understanding his advice in that way, in point of fact, goes against the central teaching of his whole life and ministry-that we are saved by grace through faith, not works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Instead, Paul means to say that Timothy, and all the rest of us, should “be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 2:1)

The second thing that needs to be said about this is that by “purity” Paul has at least two things in mind. More specifically, “purity” refers to keeping clear of people like Hymenaeus and Philetus, who taught false doctrines and led many people astray. (II Timothy 2:17-18) More generally, “purity” refers to keeping clear of anything evil, because “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.” (II Timothy 2:19)

To sum it up: If, by the strength of God’s grace through Christ, we believe and teach the right things and live the right way, then we will be special utensils that are clean and pure. We will have put ourselves in a position to be used by the Master for good and honorable work in the areas of His Kingdom where He wants us to serve.

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Verse of the Day and Devotion 6/13/2019

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Verse of the Day and Devotion

“But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”  – Daniel 12:13 ESV

Devotion

You don’t get to decide what position and place you have in the Kingdom of God. This applies not only in the future Kingdom to come, but also in the Kingdom as it is presently in place. Although you may certainly ask the Lord for the fullness of His purpose for you (Jeremiah 29:11-13), although you may certainly ask Him for the spiritual gifts necessary for the fullness of His purpose for you (I Corinthians 14:1), you must humbly accept the plan the Lord has for you. You must endure and overcome in everything He has decided to ask of you. In the final analysis, you’re a follower, not a leader. (Matthew 16:24)

This means that selfishness and selfish ambition have no place in the Kingdom of God. Two of Jesus’ disciples, the brothers James and John, tried to gain authority over and above the other disciples. They realized that Jesus was going to be the King seated at God’s right hand in the Kingdom (Mark 16:19) and they wanted the seats of authority next to him for themselves. So, they went behind the backs of the others and asked Jesus, ‘”Let us share the great honor you will have as king. Let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left.”‘ (Mark 10:37)

Jesus, however, told them the way it is in the Kingdom: ‘”. . . but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.””‘ (Mark 10:40) That’s essentially the same thing that Daniel was told by an angel as recorded in our verse for today: “And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.” Like James and John, Daniel has a position and place in the Kingdom of God. Like James and John, it was decided for him what his allotment would be.

And that’s the way it is for you as well. You have an allotted place in the Kingdom of God. After all, the Kingdom is a Kingdom, not a democracy.

Do, then, what Daniel was told to do: “go your way till the end.” In other words, don’t strive and struggle to get the upper hand over people. Instead, go your way within the allotted place the Lord is opening up before you.

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