Daily Devotions Archive - January 2009
January 12, 2009: God Hears the Godly
How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the LORD will hear when I call to Him. - Psalm 4:2-3
God calls us to live a godly life, and my primary goal in doing these daily devotions is to help keep you pointed in the right direction in a world that makes it increasingly difficult to live a godly life. He knows we can't be perfect, but He calls each of us to do our very best to live in a way that pleases Him and not to seek falsehood or turn his glory to shame, as David writes in this psalm. We need to keep our eyes on God and not get distracted by worldly things. If we do that, we know that He will hear us when we call to Him. If we hold up our end of the bargain, He will certainly hear our prayers and help us when we need help and guidance. That is one of God's promises to His children, so we know we can put our complete trust in that promise.
January 13, 2009: By Grace Alone
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. - Romans 4:2
We are saved by grace, by faith in Christ Jesus. Good works are wonderful, and while we should do as much good work as we can in order to spread the message of Jesus to the world, works cannot save a person. Why does it have to be that way? It's the only way it can be, and Romans 4:2 tells us why. If we could be saved by works, then ungodly things would begin to happen. We would all start to boast to each other and to God about how good our works are, taking the focus off of God and placing ourselves in the spotlight. Most significantly, it would be OUR actions that would save us, not God's grace. God didn't want it to be that way. Instead, He wants us to place our faith in Him, saying, "Yes, God, I do trust you." That way God receives the glory instead of any of us, and that is how it should be.
January 14, 2009: Thankful for Tribulations?
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. - Romans 5:3-4
Why should we be thankful in times of trouble? To many, that seems like such a strange and foreign concept. But we should be thankful, because something good always comes out of a tribulation. I'm not sure whether God causes bad things to happen sometimes or whether He simply allows them to happen because of free will. Either way, though, I'm certain of one thing: He uses those times to teach us new things and to bring us closer to Him. The next time you find yourself in a difficult period of your life, try to look on the bright side. Spend more time with God, draw near to Him, and see what He can teach you. You'll come out of that time with more wisdom, improved character, and most importantly, a stronger, more trusting relationship with God.
January 15, 2009: Being Spiritually Minded
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. - Romans 8:5-6
Every human being has two opposing choices as to how to live his or her life, and Paul spells them out clearly and simply for us in this passage from Romans. We can live according to the flesh, giving into all its desires for things such as money, material possessions, fame, power, and sexual pleasure. Or we can live according to the Spirit, keeping our focus on God and doing our best to stay away from those sinful desires of the flesh. When we do that, we can feel the peace that the Spirit offers as opposed to the worry, stress, fear, and everything else that comes from the opposing lifestyle.
January 16, 2009: Peace
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 5:1
Peace. It sounds so wonderful and so simple, yet so often we fail to look to God as our source of peace. What robs us of that peace? I think worry is usually the biggest thing. God specifically tells us not to worry, and it's because He knows we'll be much better off if we don't. Worrying about anything, whether it's something that doesn't really matter like which clothes to wear or something of great significance like how to pay for your child's future college tuition, takes away the peace that God so freely offers. Trust God, and He will provide for us and take care of each one of us. Some of you may think I'm just young and idealistic, but consider this: I live a life that is almost always happy and worry-free, and I live that way purely by choice; I haven't always been that way. I am fully aware of everything that is going on in the world, I just choose to live apart from it. I don't have a significant amount of money and I don't have a lot of material possessions, but I fully believe that God will give me everything I need, just as He has always done. God offers the same lifestyle to anyone who wants it. Will you accept His offer?
January 17, 2009: Created In God's Image
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. - Genesis 1:26-27
God created us in His image. We may or may not resemble Him physically; He doesn't look at such things, so we have no way of knowing that for sure. What these two verses do mean, though, is that God created us in His image in other ways--we were created to resemble His characteristics, such as love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness. By reflecting His traits in our lives, we can show His glory to the world around us. We should also keep this in mind when looking at others, or looking at ourselves in the mirror. Criticizing ourselves or others is criticizing God's creation.
January 18, 2009: Our Shield
LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. ... But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. ... I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. - Psalm 3:1, 3, 6
It can be difficult to be a strong Christian and live a Christian lifestyle in today's world. This psalm can be very comforting when you feel like so many people are against you. David (the author of this psalm) says he will not be afraid of ten thousand people who are against him. How could he be so confident? He knew God was with him, and as Romans 8:31 says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" We need not worry if it feels like even the whole world is against us, because God is certainly bigger than the entire world.
January 19, 2009: God Was Grieved
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. - Genesis 6:5-6
Can you imagine what the world must have been like to make God sorry He had ever created mankind? Honestly, it probably had a lot in common with the way it is today. On a more personal level, though, can you think something you've done recently that may have grieved God in His heart? God created us and everything in this universe; He gives us infinite love and grace. All He wants in return is for us to acknowledge Him and live our lives in a way that brings Him honor and glory. I think resisting the temptation of sin can be quite a bit easier if we keep in mind that, when we sin, we literally grieve God in His heart.
January 20, 2009: Guard Against Deceit
Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. - Genesis 3:4-6
The serpent in the Garden of Eden was very cunning and very deceitful. In today's world, there are many "serpents" all around us. The people and things of the world will try to convince you that something really isn't all that bad. Be careful, though, and guard yourself against that deceit. If God tells us something is sinful, then it's sinful--there's no way around it. When you give in and accept the "it really isn't all that bad" mindset, you're making the same mistake Adam and Eve made: You are trusting Satan instead of trusting God.
January 21, 2009: Our Country, Part 1 of 2
"Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation." - Proverbs 16:12 (The Message Translation)
I won't use this part of my website for political purposes, but since this is a time of change in our country, I want to take a moment to look back (and in part 2 tomorrow I will take a look ahead). George W. Bush will almost certainly not go down in history as one of our best presidents, and at least in some ways, I think that is unfortunate. Personally, I like him, and I am sorry to see him go. Why? The biggest reason is this: I have heard several times over the years from different people who know him personally that he is a strong Christian who is very committed to praying, especially before making a big decision. No, he didn't always say the right things or make the best decisions, but I would always rather have a president who walks with God and has strong moral values over one who just tries to do what's popular. As a Christian, I knew I could always trust his intentions. We should all look to him as a strong example of integrity in leadership.
January 22, 2009: Our Country, Part 2 of 2
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. - 1 Timothy 2:1-2
President Bush gave up his office with grace and dignity, as we have come to expect from someone of his character. Now, we must look ahead to the future of this country--a future that contains many uncertainties. One thing we DO know for sure, though, is that God is always in control, and He is infinitely bigger than any person or any political party down here on Earth. That never changes. We also need to keep in mind that He calls on us to pray for our leaders, which is found in this passage from 1 Timothy among other places. Whether you are excited or fearful about the future of this country with an Obama presidency and a Democratic Congress, I encourage you to keep all of our nation's leaders in your prayers because that's what God asks us to do.
January 23, 2009: God Is In Control
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28
Sometimes, bad things happen. The world is a sinful place, and bad things are a result of sin in one way or another. (Even sudden, unexpected health problems are a result of Adam and Eve's original sin.) But even when you're going through a difficult time, remember that God is always in control. I'm not sure if He causes bad things to happen so He can teach us something, or if He simply allows those things to happen through our free will, and then He uses those situations for good. It could be a combination of both. We can know that God is with us even in the worst of situations, and He is always in control. You might learn something new about yourself or about God, you might become stronger emotionally or spiritually, and you usually will draw closer to God during those difficult times. God can always turn a bad situation into something very good.
January 24, 2009: Sharing God's Greatness
I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. - Psalm 9:1-2
God has done marvelous things for each and every one of us, and we need to thank Him for what He has done. Not only that, but we should feel excited about those things and share them with all the world! One of the best tools of witnessing to others is sharing personal experiences, showing others how God has worked in us and in our lives. Let's not forget how great God truly is, and let's not hesitate to share our experiences with the world!
January 25, 2009: Boundless Love
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39
What an inspiring two verses these are! Nothing on earth can separate us from God's love, and Paul knew this as well as anybody, considering he was mistreated by nonbelievers and even put in jail. Some governments today try to restrict their citizens' religious beliefs, jailing Christians or even worse in some cases. But the love of God that comes to us through Christ can penetrate any government and any jail walls. God's love is everlasting and it has no boundaries. Even in this country, where any persecutions we may endure are insignificant compared to Christians in some parts of the world, atheists and agnostics seem to be growing more influential and some courts are making anti-Christian decisions. Still, nothing can separate us from God's love. Let's not worry about what the government does or what other people say; let's instead open ourselves up and let Christ's love fill us up inside!
January 26, 2009: Unashamed
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. - Romans 1:16a
Paul makes this statement very early in his letter to the people of Rome. Why was Paul so unashamed of sharing God's Word? First, he had a very personal knowledge of the power behind it. As we learn in Acts 9, God completely transformed Paul (then called Saul) from a person who murdered Christians into someone who had a great desire to share the Good News of Jesus. More importantly, Paul understood that it is only through faith in Christ that a person obtains salvation, and he knew that was the most important thing he could share with anyone, because it is the only thing of eternal significance. It isn't always easy to share Jesus with others, but it wasn't easy for Paul, either. We should all strive to have the same passion for sharing the eternal hope that exists in Christ with those around us.
January 27, 2009: Ungodliness
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. - Romans 1:22-23
How many non-Christian people today appear to be wise and act like they have it all figured out? Unfortunately, these same people worship and idolize things far away from God. For some the idol is money and material possessions. Others have as their idol a lifestyle filled with drunkenness and improper sexual activity. They act like they're the smartest people in the world because they get to do whatever they want. Sadly, though, they miss out on the single most important thing of all: a relationship with their Creator and Savior.
January 28, 2009: To Whom are You a Slave?
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? - Romans 6:16
I find it interesting how some non-Christians seem to think that Christians are obligated to live a moral lifestyle while they are free to do what they want. Unfortunately, those people completely miss the point. We're all slaves to someone or something; no one can be completely "free." Some people are slaves to sin--to the lusts of their bodies. They give in to each and every desire and while they may feel free to do those things, the reality is that they have in fact become slaves of their own lusts. Some could also be called slaves of the world, because they have such a desire to conform to the world and do whatever everybody else is doing. Other people, though, choose to be servants of God, giving themselves over to Him. Even if you have a habit related to some type of lust that's hard to break, it's definitely worth the effort. Would you rather serve lusts of the flesh or the Almighty God?
January 29, 2009: When Jealousy Controls You
And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. - Genesis 4:3-5
Why didn't God respect Cain's offering? The only logical answer is that Cain's heart wasn't in the right place, since that is what God looks at when making such decisions. However, instead of taking a look inside and trying to improve himself, Cain became jealous of Abel. In fact, Cain's jealousy became so severe that he killed his brother. While I doubt any of you would do anything that extreme, it is important to keep jealous feelings in check. When you feel yourself becoming jealous of someone, take a close look at yourself instead of taking it out on the other person. Try to work toward a resolution by remembering how much God has blessed you. Also keep in mind that having eternal life in Christ is infinitely more important than owning any material thing.
January 30, 2009: Riches Quickly Fade
For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. - James 1:11
There are many verses in the Bible concerning those who set their sights on worldly riches, but I think this is one of the more poetic of those verses. After seeing the beautiful sunrise on a summer morning, the sun quickly grows hot, withering the grass and causing flowers to wilt until it seems beautiful no more. Similarly, a rich man may feel happy for a while but quickly fades away. How many times do we hear about rich people who are sad? There are also plenty of very poor people who are still rather happy, because they know Jesus and they know what really matters in life. I encourage you to keep your focus on God, and try not to make any decisions based on money. Even if you don't have much, I believe God will always provide what you need.
January 31, 2009: Let God Handle Revenge
God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. He also prepares for Himself instruments of death; He makes His arrows into fiery shafts. - Psalm 7:11-13
When someone wrongs you, it's easy to feel thoughts of revenge. No one likes to be treated unfairly. However, God makes it clear to us that He is the one who handles the judging. How can we know that we can trust Him? He is already angry with those who are wicked, and we know His wrath will be unleashed on them. We can also trust that He is a completely fair, completely just God, and that fact is what makes Him the very best judge of all. God will look after His children, and He will always judge with complete fairness.