Category Archives: Daily Devotional

No Other Gods

Then in every city in Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods. So he provoked the Lord God of his fathers.

— 2 Chronicles 28:25

The first of the Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3), requires us to worship God exclusively. Christianity, like Judaism, is an exclusive religion. It is not pluralistic; it is not tolerant.

Certainly the Old Testament and New Testament writers were not tolerant of other gods. God Almighty is not tolerant of other gods. He says with absolute clarity: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” All of the other gods, said the apostle Paul, and all of their images are simply demons, and God would not have us to have fellowship with demons.

Even when people try to worship the true God through an idol, it becomes idolatry, as with the golden calf. Aaron declared, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the Lord.” So they rose up early on the next day, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:5–6).

They were worshiping Jehovah through the calf; they weren’t worshiping the calf. And so the Bible makes it abundantly clear that idolatry is either the worshiping of images or pictures or statues—or the worship of the true God through or by means of images. Either one of them is equally idolatry.

Question to ponder:
Why has the Western world been largely free from direct idolatry?

If God is Sovereign…

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

— Psalm 33:8

God in His sovereign care is able to make all things work together for our good as believers. We cannot look at any particular singular event and say, “How is this working for my good?” We may not know. It is not a singular event, but all things working together that God is using for our spiritual wellbeing.

Spurgeon tells about a man, who was captured for preaching the Gospel during the reign of Queen Mary. He was sentenced to be burned alive at the stake in London. When he heard the sentence, he said, “Well, never mind, for all things work together for good.”

People asked, “Well, how is that going to work together for your good?”

He replied, “I do not know, but I know that it will.”

On the way back to London, the guards treated him so roughly that they cast him down and broke his leg. Unsympathetically, they mocked him saying, “Well, tell us how this is going to work together for your good?”

He said, “I do not know, but I know that God will work it together for my good.”

His leg was splinted so he could continue the trip. They made it to London a day late because of the accident. Queen Mary had just died. Elizabeth was now on the throne and the man was pardoned.

Question to ponder:
If God is sovereign and good, then is anything He allows into the lives of His children truly and ultimately bad?

Pilgrims and Socialism

… let him labor, working with his hands things which are good, that he may have something to share with him who is in need.

— Ephesians 4:28

In the earliest days of the Pilgrims a type of communism was forced on them by The London Company, which financed their passage to the New World. (By the way, the Pilgrims were charged an interest of 45 percent interest, and they paid off every nickel.) This company required the Pilgrims to have a communal or socialistic government in which everything was to be brought into a common barn. Nobody owned any property. It would be from each according to his ability to each according to his need—long before Karl Marx wrote similar words.

The result: unhappy colonists and poor harvests. Gov. William Bradford wrote that the imposed socialism “was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort.”

So he changed the system. Now it was each man for himself. A piece of ground was given to every family, and the increase was astonishing. Bradford wrote that “It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise.” That led to thanksgiving celebrations filled with abundance—once free enterprise replaced communism.

Question to ponder:
Do you see any tendencies toward communism in our society today?

Thanksgiving

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

— Matthew 5:14

Thanksgiving is an annual reminder of America’s Christian roots. It goes back to the Pilgrims, who gave thanks to God. Were they thankful for the abundance of their crops? No. There was no abundance. The average meal that winter consisted of five hard kernels of corn on the plate. Period. Just about 50 percent of all of the Pilgrims died in that first winter of 1621.

They had landed in early December of 1620, and it was the fall of 1621. Half of them are gone. There was virtually not a family left who had not lost a husband or a wife or a child. They had little food. Many were still sick. But they were men and women of the Book. They believed the Word of God.

There is nothing Americans cherish more than their freedom; and the origins of that freedom can be traced directly back to the Pilgrims. Religious freedom (the right of a people to own and read the Bible, to worship according to conscience, to form their own church); political freedom (the right of a people to frame their own constitution and form their own government); even economic freedom (the right to own one’s own property and keep the fruit of one’s labors)—all these freedoms in America began with the Pilgrims.

Question to ponder:
Can you make a list today of 100 things you are thankful to God for?

Idolatry

With their silver and gold, they made idols, so that they will be cut off.

— Hosea 8:4

There are more denunciations of idolatry than any other sin in the Bible. Though this sin runs deep in the human psyche, and there is a great tendency to idolatry in the human heart, and though this dark stream seems to flow dangerously in the cold subterranean caverns of the fallen soul, it is something that has been followed by a continual stream of condemnation and denunciation by poets and prophets, by preachers and apostles, down through the centuries.

Not only did they worship idols in Moses’ day, but we read further on that Jeroboam doubled the sin by creating a golden calf in Dan and another in Bethel for the people to worship. All over Israel there arose on the high places—on every hill, in every clump of trees—an altar so people could rush up the hills and worship their gods and bring down upon themselves the increasing wrath of almighty God until at length the patience of God was exhausted.

The hordes of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar swept across the plains of Israel, broke down the walls of Jerusalem, and led the people off into captivity. It was in that burning furnace of slavery in Babylon that the last dredges of idolatry were largely burned away.

Question to ponder:
John Calvin said our hearts are idol-making factories. Why is that?

Comfort My People

… for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

— Psalm 23:4

Some people are amazed to find out that the great and the mighty of the world are often in need of comfort and consolation. Handel began his Messiah with the words “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people” because this verse of Scripture was dear to his heart. Luther pondered Isaiah 40 over and over again when he was in prison at the castle in Wartburg. Oliver Cromwell also went to it for help in time of storm. The great Daniel Webster was mighty in debate, and yet his heart was often grieved, and he read this passage again and again. Tennyson called it one of the five great classics in the Old Testament record.

We all need comfort. High and low, prince and pauper, none of us can live life to the full without this solace from Him who is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).

One young seminarian was filled with vim and vigor. He was coming like Daniel to the judgment and was ready to let his flock have it. He told an elderly minister who replied, “But don’t forget to preach comfort. Remember that those people in the pews have heartaches and problems and fears. Always preach comfort.” Indeed, in this day how great is that need for comfort!

Question to ponder:
What Scripture do you read when you need comfort?

Living in God’s Presence

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

— Psalm 91:1

Brother Lawrence, who wrote the famous little booklet, The Practice of the Presence of God, made that marvelous discovery to such a degree that he became the wonder of Europe. Kings and princes, cardinals and popes visited him to learn his secret. Was he a philosopher? A count? A theologian? No, he was a dishwasher. That’s right. A dishwasher and a waiter.

Kings visited him because his reputation had spread all over the world. A reputation for what? For peace—for an almost miraculous serenity in the midst of the clamoring of the people who were crying for his services and complaining about this and that and the other. In spite of all of the demands on him, he seemed to float through life in a bubble of peace.

In his marvelous booklet, Brother Lawrence tells how through much trial, effort, and labor, he learned how to stay his mind upon God. Then, when he was turned away from whatever might demand his immediate attention, his mind automatically seemed to turn to its resting place and his thoughts to God. His mind was stayed on God, and God kept him in perfect peace.

Question to ponder:
How can we practice God’s presence?

Heirs with Christ

… to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that does not fade away, kept in heaven for you, …

— 1 Peter 1:4

I was talking recently in my office to a young lady who had just accepted Christ. I told her that she was now the child of God and that she was, furthermore, the heir of God. I said, “Do you realize that you have just become an heiress?”

She looked very puzzled, so I opened my Bible to the New Testament and showed her the front page which had the heading on it, “The New Testament of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” I said, “Did you notice the word? This is the last will and testament of Almighty God, and you have become His heir. You are written into God’s will. The Bible says that we are the heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”

Well, it would be, I suppose, a great thing to be written into the will of some fabulously wealthy man. However, my friends, we have something more marvelous than that. We are written into the will of God, if we have received Jesus Christ and we belong to Him. We are the heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. All things are ours; whether in this life or the world to come (see I Corinthians 3:21-23), and we know that “My God shall supply all of your needs out of His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19).

Question to ponder:
What is the inheritance kept for you in heaven?

Impact

These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, …

— Acts 17:6

In many places in the world, Christians have made a tremendous impact for good. A handful of people can help ignite a city. Today, a city full of Christians seems to have little impact.

Why is the Church seemingly so impotent in today’s society, whereas in the early centuries, it transformed the pagan Roman Empire? One of the reasons could be that these people took the lordship of Jesus Christ seriously. They committed themselves to Him as Lord. They knew what a lord was. In the Roman world, to be a servant, doulos, meant that you gave up your will completely; you had no preferences of what you would like yourself. You were the servant of a master, the kurios.

Where are the Christians in our society? It just so happens that evangelical Christianity is generally not making the laws in the Senate or in the Congress; they are not sitting on the Supreme Court; they are not generally the ones making motion pictures in Hollywood; they are not the ones running our television networks.

This is something very obvious. Though Christianity is growing in this country, it is still far from being the controlling force or even that influential.

The question is not a matter of numbers, but the level of commitment.

Question to ponder:
Can you think of a new way to serve God?

Whose Reality?

To the pure, all things are pure. But to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure. Even their minds and consciences are defiled.

— Titus 1:15

Hollywood producers may tell you, “Well, you see, we are just a reflection of reality. We’re just revealing what the country is like.”

The truth of the matter is that they do reflect a portion of reality. They reflect what is going on in the gutter, what is going on in the sewer and a few of the other worst places in the country. Then they spread that vileness over the entire nation. They are not just reflecting reality. They are pushing their favorite kind of reality—the reality that appeals to their depraved minds.

We do not have to accept their version of reality. Yes, there is evil, and yes, there is ugliness. But we as Christians know that purity, innocence, goodness, and kindness exist too.

Just recently there has been a trend of good and moral movies coming and generally doing well, to the surprise of the Hollywood elite. Let us support what is good and decent and avoid what is not.

Question to ponder:
What good movie have you seen recently (if any)? What made it good?