Category Archives: Daily Devotional

The Prodigal Son

“Then He said, ‘A certain man had two sons.’”

— Luke 15:11

Author Charles Dickens, who knew a great tale when he heard it, remarked that the greatest story in all literature was the parable of the Prodigal Son. For the next few days, we’ll examine this story that earned such distinction.

To begin our examination, let’s briefly review the story. You will recall that the parable is about a father and his two sons. The younger son came to his father, asking for his share of his inheritance. The father gave it, and the young man left for a far country and squandered the money he received on wild living (“prodigal” means wasteful). The younger son ended up broke and in dire straits, so he returned to his father in repentance. The father embraced him, rejoiced at his return, and celebrated with a feast. The older brother, who had never left home, was jealous of his father’s attention toward the younger brother. But the father told the older son that they had good cause to celebrate—the Prodigal Son had been dead and now was alive. (For the complete parable, read Luke 15:11–32.)

One theologian has pointed out that Christ is always crucified between two thieves: license and legalism. So it is with these two sons, the younger representing license and the older legalism. These two sons paint a picture of the entire human race, the depiction of two apparently opposite and yet related types of sinners. Both rebel in their own ways, alienating themselves from their father. Yet the father loves them both with a love beyond comprehension.

This rich parable teaches many deep truths, but the greatest of these is the love of the Father, who welcomes home those who have fallen into all kinds of sin. Whether we live wildly or we self-righteously judge those who do, the Father loves us and welcomes us home as His children.

“Love is God’s essence; power but his attribute;
therefore is his love greater than his power.”
Richard Garnett

Who Are Your Friends?

“Be not misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”

— 1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV

We are all influenced by each other, and our ideas, thoughts and even mannerisms are shaped by the people around us. Who we choose as friends is critical in terms of who we ultimately become. Choosing godly friends will build us up in the faith and help us to become godly. Conversely, choosing ungodly friends will pull us down.

From the beginning of time, peer pressure has been a major factor in leading people astray. The book of Proverbs contains many practical warnings for us. For example, Proverbs 1:10 instructs: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Solomon goes on to describe how ungodly acquaintances will try to persuade you to join in their activities.

How can we become close friends with such people and not be influenced by them? We can be friends with the ungodly inasmuch as we attempt to be gracious witnesses to them, but certainly we cannot, as children of God, take our cues from them or engage in their wicked activities.

The destructive effect of friendships with the wrong people can be seen in the results of a recent survey of inmates in an Illinois prison. Do you know the main reason for their criminal behavior? Not broken homes, poverty, or lack of positive opportunities in life. The main reason the prisoners cited for their wayward lives was their friends: peer pressure.

Don’t be misled: Bad company corrupts good character. Let’s commit to choosing our friends and associates carefully—even prayerfully.

“Associate yourself with men of good quality . . .
’tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
“Rules of Civility”
(Made Famous By George Washington)

The Parable Of The Wedding Feast

“… when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment? And he was speechless.’”

— Matthew 22:11-12

Can you imagine being invited to a royal wedding? For most of us, our first response would be “But I have nothing to wear.” Then we’d go to great lengths to prepare for the event, scouring all the best stores for the most suitable gown or tuxedo, not to mention all the appropriate accessories.

Well, the invitations have gone out, not for the wedding of the century, but for the wedding feast of the ages. And you are invited.

In the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus says that the King of kings has invited many to come celebrate with Him, but some of them won’t come. So the King invites more to attend. Those who accept the invitation must carefully choose what to wear. Would any store sell a dress fine enough? Would any tailor sew an outfit appropriate for the great wedding feast of the Lamb? No, nothing we could find would be good enough, so God Himself has provided a shining white robe for each of us to wear. That robe is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is the only proper outfit, and woe to the person who tries to get into the banquet—Heaven— without it.

God will immediately spot those at the banquet who do not wear the wedding garment. In the parable, the man without a wedding garment represents all those who have joined the Church for reasons other than love for Christ. He represents all who profess what they do not possess. Many people claim to be Christians, but they haven’t truly given their hearts to Jesus Christ. As the king in the parable cast out the man without the wedding garment, so, too, will God cast from Heaven those who do not wear the robe of Christ’s righteousness.

Don’t miss out on the wedding banquet. Dress for true success by taking Christ’s righteousness upon you. Allow His grace to usher you in to the celebration of all time.

“Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the
blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.”
Charles Spurgeon

He Restores My Soul

“He restores my soul …”

— Psalm 23:3

Have you felt run-down lately? Do you need a little refreshment or maybe even a full-blown vacation? We all feel that way at times. Because of the Fall, everything in this world runs down, including us. We experience this in the spiritual realm as well as in the physical.

But Jesus Christ is the great restorer. When we feel drained, we can rely on Him to rejuvenate us. He says, “Behold, I make all things new,” and nothing exists that he can’t rebuild or renew. Jesus restores:

speech to the dumb;
food to the hungry;
sanity to the demoniac;
strength to the weak;
joy to the bereaved;
purity to the prostitute;
hope to the believer;
sight to the blind;
hearing to the deaf;
tranquility to the sea;
life to the dead;
health to the sick;
dignity to the despised;
grace to humankind.

He is indeed the great restorer of all things. And He can make our souls new, even if we’ve backslid. I spoke recently with a man who at one time walked with Christ but then fell away significantly. But, he told me, God had restored his soul and given him a joy he hadn’t known in decades. Many times when we fall, we think God is angry. Satan accuses us, “You’ve blown it. It’s all over. He wants nothing to do with you anymore.” But that’s not true. Just as a shepherd searches for a lost sheep, so Christ the Good Shepherd will come seeking us if we’ve gone astray. He’ll restore our souls as we return to Him.

For whatever reason you may feel run-down, ask Jesus to restore you. Allow His love and power to rejuvenate you as you rest in Him.

“When Satan reminds you of your past,
remind him of his future.”
Bumper Sticker

The Cold Pharisee

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

— Luke 18:14

Do you have confidence that God finds you acceptable? If so, upon what do you base your confidence?

The Pharisees believed that God found them acceptable based on their goodness. The Pharisees trusted in their works. Jesus tells us that they even prayed to themselves: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself.” As time went on, they became increasingly holy in their own eyes.

But Christ found them greatly lacking. He didn’t base their acceptability on their deeds; he based it on the state of their hearts.

We can classify sin in many ways. Let’s consider the notion of “hot” and “cold” sins. Hot sins are those of passion. These would include such things as adultery, stealing, anger, murder, fornication, and rape. Most of us consider these the most heinous of all sins, and to be sure, the Pharisees avoided such actions. But to the cold sins God turns His hottest words. He scorns sins of self-righteousness, harboring a condemning spirit, pride, and despising others. Against this sort of sin Christ leveled His greatest attacks, and the people most guilty of them were the Pharisees.

So often we trust in ourselves, building our hope of Heaven on nothing more than our own self-righteousness, our own piety, and our own benevolence. We believe we can achieve our own salvation by keeping the commandments and fulfilling ceremonial duties. But if we base our salvation on such things, we’ll find ourselves sadly mistaken. We could never do enough to earn our own passage to Heaven. Only Jesus Christ can save us through His blood.

Today thank Jesus for His sacrifice, which has made your sanctification possible. Ask God to give you a humble and thankful heart every day that you may remember the true Source of your salvation.

“People who are wrapped in themselves make small packages.”
Benjamin Franklin

The Legacy Of Christ

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

— John 14:27

Do you ever feel that life moves too fast? Perhaps you can relate to the old saying “Stop the world—I want to get off.” Sometimes the world spins too fast; one day melds into the next; and, despite our frenzied and harried pace, we fall further and further behind on our obligations.

But God doesn’t want us to live this way. He wants us to “be still and know that I am God.” Jesus says to us, “Come unto me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.” In fact, God instituted the Sabbath, an important time of rest. When was the last time you sat still in God’s presence, enjoying His rest?

We desperately need “downtime.” Dr. Richard Swenson, author of Margin, a book about reducing stress, says that we need to restore what he calls our “margins,” our reserves. He points out that we live overloaded lives today. But, Swenson says, we can’t deplete our spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, and time reserves for too long without paying for it in one way or another.

Jesus left a legacy to His disciples, a legacy we share in, a legacy that keeps us from depleting all our resources. What is this legacy? His peace. Christ declares to us, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.” Oh, how we need it in these troubled times when people’s hearts literally fail them for fear. Threats of terrorists and crime rob millions of people of peace. Job insecurity steals people’s serenity. Nervous breakdowns abound. Pharmacies sell tranquilizers by the millions of pounds each year. We desperately need Christ’s peace, and to gain it, all we need to do is surrender ourselves to God. We find the secret of peace in trusting in His perfect will for our lives, yielding ourselves to rest in His trustworthy arms.

Do you need a dose of peace today? Just look to Christ, the sovereign Lord of all history. He will bring His perfect will to fruition as you trust in Him. Whatever your problems, fix your eyes upon Jesus, and peace will flood your soul.

“Don’t wrestle, just nestle.”
Corrie Ten Boom

Self-Confidence Or Christ-Confidence

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

— Psalm 20:7

Let’s say you’ve come up against the toughest trial of your life, an obstacle many others have failed to overcome. (Maybe you’re facing it today.) What’s your first response? Do you forge ahead, or do you fall to your knees?

Israel faced an obstacle too big for its own might to overcome; his name was Goliath. All of the armies of Israel had self-confidence until they faced this giant. Then where did their selfconfidence go? It failed them. But one young man, David, completely lacked self-confidence. He had another kind of confidence—confidence in the living God. David said to Goliath, “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts . . . whom thou hast defiled.” When everyone else cowered in fear, David, the boy whose confidence was in God, went forth to victory.

We all need confidence. But the question at hand is: “Confidence in whom?” If we rely on our own power, we lean upon a weak reed indeed. When we have confidence in ourselves, two things invariably follow: (1) If we succeed, we become prideful, and (2) if we fail, we are cast into despair and depression.

We live in a day when hundreds of books and seminars preach self-confidence. But these messages fly in the face of God’s Word, which declares, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength” (Jeremiah 17:5). Self-confidence is a snare and an illusion.

How much better to trust the One who made you than to trust in yourself. Confidence in God delivers us from pride by giving us gratitude to God for victory in our lives. It delivers us from despair because we know that whatever comes to pass, God will work it together for our good. Those who trust in God go through life with a certain tranquility that allows them to pass over the rough spots of life virtually undisturbed. We need to trust in God not only for our eternal salvation but also for the everyday affairs of our lives. When we would fail ourselves, God will never disappoint us.

Are you facing a Goliath in your life today? Like David, place your confidence in God, and wait for your victory through Him.

“Jesus never fails.”
Christian Song

Trust In The Lord

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

— Proverbs 3:5–6

We can go through this world in one of two ways: remembering God, focused on eternity, and trusting Him with all our hearts or forgetting God and leaning on our own understanding to make it through this life.

Which camp are you in?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . . and He shall direct your paths.” God makes this great promise to us, a covenant that offers great blessings to those who will heed it daily. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” It’s a primary lesson of Christianity, a seemingly simple essential of our faith. Yet we seem to find it so difficult to learn. We learn to trust in God just a little bit and think we’ve made great progress in the spiritual realm. But then we face situations that reveal vast areas of our hearts that we’ve never entrusted to God.

In these times, we may believe we’ve given our trust to God and wonder why He hasn’t responded. But really, we lean on our own understanding and strength to work it out. We attempt to achieve our will through praying certain ways and doing good deeds. But it isn’t until we’ve exhausted our resources and truly trusted God, laying our burdens at His feet, that He provides a way. “Acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Who are you trusting to carve out your life paths—you or the Lord? God says, “Trust me.” How can you do that today?

“… They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true …”
“Like A River Glorious” (Hymn)

Heroes Wanted!

“Now therefore, give me this mountain . . . It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

— Joshua 14:12

Suppose, as you looked for a job, you came across this ad in the classifieds: “Heroes wanted. No cowards need apply.” Would you apply for that job? Are you a hero?

Most of us have never even considered this matter, but we should, because we desperately need heroes in the army of God. Over and over in Scripture, we read of valiant, mighty men and women, and we’re encouraged to follow their examples. The Bible exhorts us to endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ. It admonishes, “Fear not,” “Be not afraid,” “Be of good courage,” “Fear not the face of men.” Such courage is the mark of a hero.

Why do we need so much courage? Because Jesus has commissioned us as His soldiers to witness for Him. We have the privilege of serving as Christ’s ambassadors to this dying world, sharing the Good News of what Jesus can do for people.

Yet tragically, many people who profess to be Christians have gone AWOL (Absent Without Leave) in this regard. The battle for lost souls rages on, but many of us hide in our own secure corners of the world, leaving the lost vulnerable to the enemy.

This should not be true of the soldiers in Christ’s army. After all, our leader, Christ, is the greatest hero Who ever lived. Not only did He single-handedly take on all the hosts of mankind, an apostate Jewry, a hostile heathenism, and His own friends who forsook Him, but He also took on the forces of death, Hell, Satan, and the demons, overcoming them one and all. And as God’s soldiers, we have Christ’s death-defeating power on our side. We need not fear as we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we face the fray, Jesus Christ heats the heart and fuses the shifting sands into rock, making heroes out of cowards. Christ stands ready to do that for each of us.

Will you allow Christ to grant you His courage today? If you do, be a faithful soldier, using that courage to share Christ’s good news with someone who desperately needs to hear it.

“… Brethren, we are treading where our Captain trod …”
Onward Christian Soldiers (Hymn)

“I Will Answer You”

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

— Jeremiah 33:3

“Call to Me …” God says in Scripture, yet so many of us are slow to respond to that invitation. Why do we pray so meagerly? I believe it’s because unbelief whispers in our ears, “Your prayers won’t work. God won’t hear them. Others may come and receive all sorts of bounty from God, but not the likes of you, not the one who has so often broken His commandments. God doesn’t even want to hear from your lips.” Do thoughts of unworthiness creep into your mind, building a wall between you and God? Yet against these whispers of Satan, God’s Word speaks to us, “Call to Me …” God reaches out to us, inviting us to reach out to Him.

Yet doubts still discourage us from praying. Inside our heads we hear, “Prayer will do no good because God will not answer. I’ve tried before, and I haven’t received answers.” Have you ever felt that way? Then read the second part of Jeremiah 33:3, an assurance that stills such doubts: “I will answer you.” God has promised to respond to our prayers.

When we call on God, we can feel confident that He has made us worthy of approaching Him and that He has promised to answer us. We should also keep in mind all the other principles that the Bible teaches concerning prayer. For example, to maintain an open prayer line to God we must confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, while forgiving those who have sinned against us. Another principle is that we must call upon God in faith, believing He will do that which we ask of Him. The Scripture says that whatsoever you shall ask, believe that God will give it, and you shall have it. We should also call upon God with great perseverance and ask according to His will. Finally, we should pray with gratitude, thanking God for all He has already done.

How’s your prayer life these days? Are any of the concerns I mentioned earlier stopping you from fully enjoying your connection to God? I invite you to call to God and remember His promise to answer you. Do these things, and wait for God to show you “great and mighty things”!

“More things are wrought by prayer
than this world dreams of.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson