Category Archives: Daily Devotional

Humility

“By pride comes only contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom.”

— Proverbs 13:10

When you think of humble people, what images come to your mind? What characteristics and attitudes contribute to humility?

We often hold misconceptions about humility. Some people believe they can gain humility only when they deny the talents they possess. But that’s not humility; it’s foolishness. When we deny our abilities, we deny the goodness and grace of God, the giver of every good and perfect gift.

Rather, humility comes from a proper perspective about our God-given gifts and talents. We can admit that we have talents, abilities, and intelligence and still remain humble as long as we acknowledge we’ve received them all from God. Therefore, we don’t take the glory but instead give thanks to God who is the source of our talents and abilities. We also thank Him for our accomplishments. We shouldn’t say, “I can’t brag about the talents I’ve received, but just look at what I’ve done with them.” Again, we acknowledge that God works through us and that without Him we can do nothing.

Foster humility in your life today. Thank God for giving you abilities and for accomplishing His work in and through you. May you give glory to God as you use your gifts and talents for Him today.

“By the grace of God I am what I am:
Not I, but the grace of God in me.”
John Knox

Greatness

“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

— Matthew 23:11

Do you want to be great? The pursuit of greatness has been an almost universal quest on the part of humankind. For five thousand years, people have toiled up the path toward greatness as they see it—to the way that leads to fame and fortune, to power and privilege and ease.

But Jesus stands beside that path with outstretched arms saying, “You seek greatness, but you’re not even on the right path. The pinnacles of greatness which you see are illusory. The path to greatness lies not in being served, but in serving.” Does that truth surprise you? It’s exactly the opposite of what we think, the opposite of what the world tells us.

The world’s view of greatness bombards us constantly. Every time we open the newspaper or read a magazine or turn on the television, the world sets before us its view of greatness—its perversion of God’s view of greatness, the Devil’s view of greatness—with so-called great people gaining more possessions and notoriety and expecting others to take care of their every need. Millions of people within the Church have allowed this incorrect view to unconsciously seep into their minds and hearts with all its deadly tendencies.

We need another view—Jesus Christ’s view. Just as Jesus said that we descend to rise and that we die to live, He said that the one who seeks greatness must first seek servanthood. He said that even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. He demonstrated His view of greatness on the night before He went to the cross. At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, stunning them by His humble act of servanthood.

So I ask you again, do you want to be great? If so, then imitate Jesus, who came to minister rather than to be ministered to. Start today by finding, or even making, an opportunity to serve someone else.

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we
have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Albert Pine

Drifting!

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”

— Hebrews 2:1

Have you ever rowed a raft on a river? If you have, then you probably know that when you row upstream, away from the falls, you have to keep going. If you stop rowing, you’ll inevitably drift backward, silently, imperceptibly toward the falls, toward danger. But as this happens, you may not realize that you’re drifting away.

The Christian life is like paddling against a rapidly flowing river. It takes a definite decision of our wills to live for Christ, but it takes no such definite decision to drift away. All you have to do is neglect your faith, even for a brief time, and before you know it, you’re headed straight for spiritual destruction.

You’ve probably heard the classic story about the wife who complained that her husband never sat next to her in the car anymore. He, the driver, turned to her and said, “But, dear, I never moved.” We’re the same way with God. Though sometimes we may feel far from Him, He never forsakes us. Instead, we allow ourselves to drift away from Him.

Such drifting in the Christian life seldom happens instantly. When we neglect our relationship with Jesus Christ, even for a short while, the drifting begins. Continued neglect leads to disaster. Someone has put this truth into an easy-to-understand word picture. To maintain a flow toward Christ, we must apply ourselves to the “oars”—the oars of Scripture reading and prayer which together provide for our devotional life. As we “row” toward Christ, we grow closer to Him and further from the crashing falls. But if we just let the oars sit in the water, we go wherever the river runs, in a direction toward crashing defeat.

If you’ve been drifting away from the Lord, then I urge you to draw near to Him today. Make a conscious decision to apply yourself to the oars of faith, interacting with God daily through His Word and through prayer.

“… Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”
Robert Robinson

Let Us Remember and Give Thanks

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

— Psalm 103:2

“Thank you.” Two simple words that let us know we’re appreciated for what we do and who we are.

When was the last time those words crossed your lips as you prayed to God?

I believe the Scriptures place a great deal more emphasis upon gratitude than we realize. In fact, the Scriptures consider thankfulness and its antithesis, thanklessness, as extremely important issues. Throughout the Bible, we’re called again and again to praise and thank God.

Most people have Christianity absolutely backward. They suppose that the motive of the Christian life is to perform good deeds in the hope of gaining eternal life. And if that were the case, we wouldn’t need to express thanks to God; we would have earned our own passage to Heaven with no one to thank but ourselves. But we can’t achieve eternal life on our own; we can gain salvation only through God’s grace by faith in Jesus Christ. And this truth engenders a heart of thankfulness and praise. God’s amazing grace inspires us to express our deepest gratitude to our Lord and Savior.

When we freely offer God our thanks and praise, our lives change. As we count our many blessings, one by one, we may become overwhelmed by what God has done in our lives. We may also learn to trust Him for future needs as we review God’s perfect track record of taking care of us.

I encourage you to keep a spiritual journal, where you record your prayer requests and the Lord’s answers. The ancient Israelites often ran into problems because they didn’t remember all God had done for them in their past, such as parting the Red Sea to save them from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. But if you keep a prayer journal, you won’t suffer from the same “amnesia.” As you regularly write down God’s answers to your prayers, you’ll remember His wonderful care for you, and you’ll automatically be filled with gratefulness and adoration toward God.

“A thankful heart is … the parent of all other virtues.”
Cicero

Crucial Choices

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

— Joshua 24:15

People of little resolve never accomplish anything. General Julius became Julius Caesar because he made a tough decision: He dared to cross the Rubicon, a river all Roman generals were forbidden to cross even with the smallest band of soldiers. He said, “If I cross not this river this instant then my life shall be overcome with calamities.” And laying the reins upon the neck of his horse, he plunged into the river with this cry: “The die is cast.” He crossed to the other side, ready for battle and ready for destiny.

Our “Rubicon” is the choice to serve God’s kingdom. We all serve something. Even if we decide to ignore God’s service and live for pleasure, Jesus tells us, “Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.” We need to actively choose who we’ll serve, not wavering somewhere in neutral ground. Charles Spurgeon talks about a group of people he calls “betweenites.” Spurgeon says when the forces of Christ and the forces of Satan gather on opposing hills for that final battle, the “betweenites” will be milling around in the valley below and will be trampled by both sides.

The choice to serve God is urgent; we shouldn’t put it off. You have to decide for yourself—will you serve God, or won’t you? No one can make that choice for you. We all shall die alone and stand alone before God’s presence to account for our choices. In that day we shall be without excuse.

Cross the Rubicon today—choose to serve the Lord with all your heart. Say with Joshua, that tremendous leader of the Israelites, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

“Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things;
give heart and soul and mind and strength,
to serve the King of kings.”
William Merrill

Change Your Attitude and Change Your World

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you.”

— Proverbs 23:7

A student of flying was taking his first solo flight. All went well until he had to land his plane. Suddenly, he heard a voice over the radio saying, “Correct your attitude.” He thought to himself, “My attitude? My attitude is just fine.” Because the student didn’t heed his flight instructor’s warning, he crashed his plane.

After the crash, his instructor showed him this definition for “attitude” in the flight manual: “the plane’s inclination toward the earth.”

Our inclination toward life can destroy us or make us successful. Why? Because our attitudes affect our relationships with others, with ourselves, and with God. Chuck Swindoll, a popular radio preacher, once said, “I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me, and ninety percent how I react to it.”

A young lady once came to her pastor with a problem. She said, “I have the meanest, orneriest, most foul-mouthed father-in-law you’ve ever seen, and he lives with us. Whenever he gets mad, he curses me. I have not been a Christian very long, and I’ve got a temper of my own. I’m about ready to let him have it. What can I do?”

The pastor asked, “What does he like to eat?”

She replied, “Fudge. He likes fudge.”

The pastor said, “The next time he curses you, fix him some fudge.”

About a week later, the father-in-law was sitting in the kitchen when the young lady accidentally splashed some hot food on him. He began cursing her. However, she remained calm, prepared some fudge, and handed it to him. At first, he just looked at it. But after a while, a big tear dripped off his cheek and splashed onto the plate of fudge. Then he put his arms around his daughter-in-law and said, “Daughter, I want you to forgive a mean, ugly, old man.” This woman had the joy of leading her angry, ornery father-in-law to the Lord right there in her kitchen. Why? Because she exhibited a loving attitude.

Do you need to correct your attitude today? Change your attitude, and you can change your world.

“A man’s life is what his thoughts make it.”
Marcus Aurelius

To Forgive

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

— Matthew 6:12

When was the last time someone hurt you? What has been your response to that person since that event? Are you holding onto a grudge, or have you forgiven that person for the pain he or she caused you? God clearly directs us to forgive people who have wronged us. But forgiving people is so difficult, especially when we still feel hurt by their choices. Nevertheless, we must obey God’s command. So how do we obtain a forgiving spirit, willing to release even the worst offender from any debt owed us? Here are some steps that can help:

  1. Avoid seeking revenge. Remember God has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” Leave retribution in His hands.
  2. Release people from human judgment. It’s so easy to judge others when they have hurt us. But God is the ultimate judge. Shall we usurp the judgment of the Creator of the universe?
  3. Reconcile with the offender. The Bible says, “Be reconciled to thy brother.” As this is not always possible, the Bible also says, “inasmuch as it is up to you, be at peace with all men.”
  4. Pray for your enemies’ good. Jesus said, “Pray for them which despitefully use you.” Do you pray for the good of those who hurt you?
  5. Love your enemies. Difficult as it sounds, we must treat our enemies with Christ’s love. Fortunately, God doesn’t leave us to our own devices on this one; He enables us to do it.
  6. Overcome evil with good. The Scripture says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” What a tremendously powerful concept that is. Resolve to do good to others, even if they’ve breached your trust.

Is there someone whom you cannot forgive? Then, my friend, you need to ask Jesus Christ for His power to forgive that person. Let Christ’s love work through you. Then, if you still find forgiving that person difficult, look into the face of Him who hung on the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea,
until they have something to forgive.”
C. S. Lewis

The Return of the Spies

“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’”

— Numbers 13:30

Have you ever faced a daunting task, one that looked not even remotely feasible? At times like this, God, who can do the impossible, wants us to have faith in His presence and in His ability to see us through.

The ancient Israelites serve as an excellent example of what not to do under pressure. Faced with an overwhelming task, they failed to respond in faith. Moses had just sent twelve spies (one representative from each tribe) into the land to spy it out and bring back intelligence reports concerning the nature and strength of their adversaries. After some days, the spies returned from their trip throughout Canaan. They gave two reports: the majority report given by ten and the minority report given by two, Joshua and Caleb.

The majority report said: “It [the land] truly flows with milk and honey . . . Nevertheless the people who dwell there are strong; the cities are fortified.” Upon hearing that, Caleb could not restrain himself. He had heard enough negative nonsense. He leaped to his feet and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” But the ten other spies shot back: “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.” Then the people’s hearts melted within them; all night they “raised their voices and wept aloud.” Joshua and Caleb submitted the minority report, reminding the Israelites that with God’s help, they could take the land. But the people wouldn’t listen. These two men were the only ones with faith in God. And they became the only ones from that generation who eventually entered the Promised Land.

These two men based their faith on God’s promises. That’s how they overcame their fears and fought to enter the Promised Land. We need to do the same thing. When circumstances overwhelm you and the task at hand is daunting, place your full faith in God and trust that He will deliver you into your promised land.

“With God, go over the sea—without
Him, not over the threshold.”
Russian Proverb

He Shall Return

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

— 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

As Christians we have an incredible event to anticipate—Christ’s second coming. Why do we know this will happen? Because more than three hundred times in the New Testament, the Scriptures very boldly state that Jesus Christ will return; even more prophecies are found in the Old Testament concerning His second Advent. And Jesus Himself declared it unequivocally, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” History marches on to that very moment; His return will be the great climax of all time.

Are you ready for it?

Every Sunday for centuries, the Christian Church around the world has confirmed Christ’s second coming. In the Apostles’ Creed, we declare, “From thence He (Jesus) shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” This is confirmed by the Nicene Creed, the Constantinople Creed, the Westminster Confession, the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, the Augsburg Confession, and all of the other great confessions of the Church. Jesus Christ is coming back to this world.

Are you prepared?

Although we know for certain that this event will happen, we don’t know when. Numerous people have claimed to figure out the exact day and time. (Imagine that—the angels don’t even know, but people rush in where angels fear to tread, and they proclaim both year and date.) But the Scripture says that Jesus will come at an hour when we won’t expect Him. He’ll come suddenly, like a thief in the night. He might come today or a thousand years from now.

Either way we must be ready. Would you want the Lord to come today? Are you ready to be in His presence? From now on, live each day as if it’s the day He’ll return.

“His [Jesus’] teaching on the subject quite clearly consisted
of three propositions: 1. That he will certainly return.
2. That we cannot possibly find out when.
3. And that therefore we must always be ready for him.”
C. S. Lewis

When Your Love Grows Cold

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

— John 15:13

As human beings we go through an enormous variety of emotions. Feelings are part of life’s color; when we don’t feel anything, life can seem flat and drab.

As tough as it is to admit, loving our Lord falls in this category. While His love for us is constant and eternal, some days, because we are human and sinful beings, we don’t naturally feel a sense of love overflowing toward Him.

When we find loving our Lord difficult, how can we renew our love for Him? We do this by remembering His suffering for us. I am amazed at how glibly we repeat those words, “Christ died for my sins,” without considering the incredible truth contained therein. When we remember Christ’s anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, the agony He suffered at the hands of the high priest and Pontius Pilate, the excruciating death He endured on the cross, then love for our Lord and Savior should flood our hearts. This is why the Lord’s Supper is so important. It reminds us of His sufferings on our behalf. When we fix our minds on that thought—that our Creator died for us—our love for Him will be renewed.

Whenever you feel that your love for the Lord has grown cold, climb the mountain of Calvary and breathe in the fresh air from Heaven. This will renew your soul and increase your spiritual vitality.

“I love Thee, because Thou has first loved me, And purchased
my pardon on Calvary’s tree. I love Thee for wearing the
thorns on Thy brow; if ever I loved Thee, My Jesus ’tis now.”
William R. Featherstone