Category Archives: Daily Devotionals

Do What Is Good

Motivation can fade. Habits prevail.

Every once in a while, we need to hear a great motivational sermon. It can really recharge our spiritual batteries. But you must avoid becoming a motivational junkie–the kind of person who has to be hyped up emotionally before you can get going. If you become dependent on motivational sermons, you will fail miserably in your spiritual life. (You will get weary of the emotional roller coaster. And after a while, all of the sermons will sound the same.)

Instead of depending on someone else to fire you up, get busy helping others. When “doing good” for others becomes a habit in your life, they you will find that it happens regardless of your emotions. You’ll find that you’re doing these things because they are rewarding, and not just because some eloquent speaker psyched you up.

So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. Galatians 6:9

Conformity

You won’t transform spiritually if you continue to conform culturally.

There is tremendous pressure to conform to our culture. Few of us want to stick out where we are subject to ridicule. It is much safer, we think, to blend in and go along with the group mentality. But have you noticed that the group mentality is usually wrong? This shouldn’t come as any shock to us, because our own natural instincts are usually just the opposite of how God wants us to respond to any situation.

Check your life to see if society is influencing your thinking. You probably haven’t been brainwashed totally, but there is a strong chance that your thinking has been influenced. If you are going to be a fully devoted follower of God, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t conform to the culture in any significant way that would compromise godly principles. A transformation of your thinking process may be required, but God can handle that if you allow Him to.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world… Romans 12:2

Be a Quick Listener

Your willingness to listen is your gift to others.

The most important part of communication is listening. We all know that, yet we are so quick to tell others what we think, and only then do we listen (mainly to hear what they think of what we just said).

Like it does so often, the Bible offers a difference way. Listen first, then talk. There are at least two benefits to this pattern. To start with, the only way to learn something is to listen (you will never learn something from your own mouth, unless you want to learn how careless you are with your words). The main advantage of hearing others speak first is that you may realize what you were about to say is completely wrong or meaningless.

The other benefit is that you are less likely to get upset if you listen before you speak. Our own words will incite us much quicker than the words of others.

Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19

Character Counts

Others determine your reputation. You determine your character.

One of the the great debates of our time centers on character. Some people believe that it’s possible for a person to possess both a public and a private character, even if the two are very different. What you do in private, the reasoning goes, is your business, as long as it doesn’t affect your public performance.

There’s only one problem with this thinking. Once you divide your personality and your actions into two or more categories or compartments, you deviate from the very definition of character. At its root, character is defined by integrity, and at the heart of integrity is the idea of wholeness.

One of the best ways to keep your life whole is to pay attention to the small stuff. Do what it takes every day to develop your character and preserve your integrity. Most of all, don’t live your life to please others. Live your life to please God.

May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:21

Where Is Your Affection?

The love of money can do more to you than dollars can do for you.

Have you noticed the destructive power of greed? Friendships end, marriages break apart, crimes are committed, and people stay away from God–all over what? The love of money. Even though we are aware of its potential dangers, the allure remains.

Remember that money is neutral. It is neither good nor bad. It is the love of money that presents the problems. But it seems funny that we should be so enamored with it. Money can’t buy happiness in this life. And it can’t buy eternal life. Money can never get you closer to God, but your attraction to it can keep you away from Him. Make sure your affections are for your Maker, not for you money.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptations and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:9-10

Preachers Can’t Do It Alone

Don’t leave the sermon at church.

Have you every wondered why preachers preach sermons? Are they trying to impress their parishioners, or do they have more noble purposes in mind? Perhaps good sermons delivered eloquently help preachers feel good about all those years they spent in seminary.

We believe the vast majority of preachers prepare and deliver their sermons for one overarching purpose–so that those of us sitting in the pews might be motivated to live our lives more for God and less for ourselves. Of course, the preachers can’t do it alone, no matter how powerful their sermons. We need to help by taking the sermons with us when we leave the church building.

The building isn’t the church anyway. We are the church, and wherever we go, we take the sermons–and all that they mean–with us.

Now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume. 2 Corinthians 2:14

Power Up

There are two ways to acquire power: on the outside or from the inside. God offers power from the inside.

The way people normally acquire power is on the outside. They work out with a bunch of weights and gain the power of strength. They go to college for a long time and gain the power of knowledge. They work their way to the top of a company and gain the power of prestige. Or they run for political office and gain the power of position. All of these things equal power, but they develop on the outside, and they take many years to acquire.

God doesn’t need all of these outdated devices to give you more power, and He doesn’t need a lot of time, either. When you enter into a personal relationship with God through Christ, something very amazing happens: You receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and it happens from the inside. No one is exempt. The Bible says that “we have all received the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).

“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power.” Acts 1:8

Develop the Inner You

Painting the outside of a house isn’t worth much if the inside is a mess.

Okay, so there’s a downside to God’s judgment. Since He is completely fair and honest, and because He sees the real us from the inside out, there’s no fooling Him. We can’t put on a front, like we do with people, by acting and looking a certain way.

Before we act, God knows what we’re thinking. Before we even think about doing something–no matter how small–God is there. That could be more than a little unnerving, but you shouldn’t take God that way. He’s not a spy. He’s not intruding into your private life. God simply knows you completely (and loves you anyway).

So here’s what you do. Spend as much time developing the inner you as you do maintaining the outer you. Pay attention to stuff like character and integrity. That’s the stuff that comes in God’s all-seeing eyes.

“But the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Little Things Hurt the Most

Anger is one of the few things that gets everyone’s attention.

Not only do you please God when you control your anger, but you prevent the devil from using your anger to his advantage. Think of it! In one fell swoop of thoughtful control, you can please God and deny the devil. Talk about your two-for-one deal!

Keep in mind that the devil doesn’t need your rage to do his dirty work. It’s the little things that do the most damage: sarcastic comments, cutting remarks, backbiting, undermining, and lying–all of which you can do with a smile on your face and anger in your heart.

This is the kind of anger that is the most destructive, because it’s out before you know it, or worse, without your even noticing. But others notice, and so do God and the devil. So keep a lid on your anger, or deal with it as soon as you are aware of what you’ve done.

Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. Ephesians 4:26-27

Deceit

Lies are like potato chips: It’s difficult to stop with just one.

The cable networks are filled with infomercials that promote healthy living with diet programs, exercise equipment, or greaseless cookware. But all that paraphernalia won’t help you much if you are living a deceitful life.

Dishonesty is very detrimental to your health. When you live a long time with deceit, it begins to take its toll on your body and your mind. You become frantic and depressed as you must constantly create more lies in order to cover what you have already said and done. Guilt begins to eat away at you. It’s a tough way to live.

On the other hand, when you confess the lies and begin to live in truth–when honesty becomes your policy–you will experience a joy and a level of freedom you never though possible. The world asks you to lie and suffer the detrimental effects. God asks you to live honestly and enjoy the benefits.

The Lord hates those who don’t keep their word, but he delights in those who do. Proverbs 12:22

Wisdom

Lots of things come automatically with age, but wisdom isn’t one of them.

There are two kinds of wisdom: worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom.

Worldly wisdom involves applying knowledge and human understanding to certain factual situations. This type of wisdom can usually be explained in the context of benefits and detriments. (For example, it is not wise to insult your boss due to the detriment of unemployment.)

Spiritual wisdom doesn’t rely on human understanding. In fact, spiritual wisdom refers to a belief system that can be comprehended only through spiritual insight. (For example, those who do not know God cannot understand how it is possible to sense His direction when He can’t be seen or heard.)

Worldly wisdom can be obtained through experience and gives you insight into human nature. Spiritual wisdom comes through the Holy Spirit and gives you insight into God’s nature.

The wisdom we speak of is the secret wisdom of God….But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:7,10

Power Up

There are two ways to acquire power: on the outside or from the inside. God offers power from the inside.

The way people normally acquire power is on the outside. They work out with a bunch of weights and gain the power of strength. They go to college for a long time and gain the power of knowledge. They work their way to the top of a company and gain the power of prestige. Or they run for political office and gain the power of position. All of these things equal power, but they develop on the outside, and they take many years to acquire.

God doesn’t need all of these outdated devices to give you more power, and He doesn’t need a lot of time, either. When you enter into a personal relationship with God through Christ, something very amazing happens: You receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and it happens from the inside. No one is exempt. The Bible says that “we have all received the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).

“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power.” Acts 1:8

Jesus’ Authority

The Word of God heard from your mouth is more effective if it is also seen in your life.

When people heard Jesus teach, they were amazed. They had listened many times to the religious leaders who read the Scriptures and gave explanations that were dry, lifeless, and mostly irrelevant.

But Jesus’ manner of teaching was different, and so was His content. He explained the Scripture in a way that made them relevant to life. Jesus spoke with authority because He knew the Scripture. The people could see from the actions of His life that He believed what He taught.

Is your life more like the lives of the religious leaders, or is it more like Jesus? When you talk about spiritual matters, do you make them sound dry and lifeless? Or can you communicate the truth about God in a way that makes it seem exciting and appealing to others? Your answers to these questions will depend upon how much you know, and believe, about God. If He is at work in your life, then what you say about Him will be authentic and full of life.

They were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority–quite unlike the teachers of religious law. Mark 1:22

God Gets the Credit

Think about things that are worthy of praise, and then praise them.

You can think about yourself being truthful, and you can imagine objects of beauty. But what is it like to think of something or someone worthy of praise?

When you look at an object of beauty–say, a beautiful painting–do you give credit to the painting for its beauty? Oh, you can talk about the painting and rave about its value as an art object, but you can’t credit the painting for creating itself.

The credit goes to the artist, who painted this thing of beauty. The artists deserves your admiration because the artist is worthy–you can see the result in front of you. The same thing goes for God, the great Artist who created the earth and everything in it. He’s the One who is worthy of praise, not the creation.

So they worshipped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen. Romans 1:25

Do Your Part; Let God Do His

You are responsible for the depth of your spiritual understanding. God is responsible for the breadth of your ministry.

An athlete knows that it takes years of training and practice in order to compete in the Olympics. Everyone knows that you must master the basics of a sport before you can play at a high level of competition.

How come we forget this principle when we think about serving God? We want to accomplish wonderful things for God before we have adequately prepared ourselves. Instead of worrying so much about what we can do for God, we should be concerned with getting to know Him better.

We don’t have to postpone sharing our faith with others until we have obtained an advanced degree in theology. But we shouldn’t let a desire for a prominent ministry displace the priority of knowing God better. As we gain a deeper understanding of who He is, then He will open the doors for us to serve Him.

Jesus called out to them, “Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!”  Matthew 4:19

Sit Still

The time to find moments of stillness and quiet is when it’s the most difficult to do so.

Have you ever sat behind a young child in church? After sitting still for a few minutes, the fidgeting begins. Then the child transitions into the wiggling stage. After a while, the kid is crawling over the chair like it’s a jungle gym. The parents were hoping that the child would benefit from being in church, but the child was too busy wriggling to hear what was being said.

That squirming child can be a metaphor for our lives with God. We are usually so busy fidgeting with the activities of live that we miss hearing what God wants to tell us. Even worthwhile activities that benefit our family, our church, or our community can distract us from spending time with God.

Stop fidgeting for a few moments each day. Read the Bible, and listen to what God is saying to you. You will have difficulty hearing Him unless you sit still.

The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. Lamantations 3:25

Picture This

Use your imagination to think about the beauty of God and His creation.

When you think about truth and honor, you are thinking about concepts. You can’t picture truth unless you imagine yourself being truthful. Another part of your thinking involves objects. In your mind you can picture things of purity and beauty, whether you have actually seen them, or read about them in a book.

When we say the words “quiet mountain stream” or “brilliant beach sunset,” wonderful images immediately flash into our minds. You can do the same thing. By using your imagination, you can bring beautiful objects and places into your head.

Be aware of the beauty and detail of God’s creation. Read God’s Word daily. The more beauty you see or read about with your eyes, the more beauty you will hold in your mind.

Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Philippians 4:8

God Won’t Tempt You

Never confuse a trial with a temptation.

There’s a difference between trials and temptations. A trial is something that happens to us through outer circumstances or our own actions. God allows trials in our lives because they have the potential to make us “partners with Christ in his suffering” (1 Peter 4:13). On the other hand, a temptation can entice us to do the wrong thing.

God is never tempted to do wrong. Even when Satan tempted Jesus, there was never a possibility that Jesus would make a mistake. He stood on the Word of God and kept Satan and his test at bay.

God doesn’t tempt us to do wrong, either. More than likely, our temptations come from “the lure of our own evil desires” (James 1:14). God wants us to endure our temptations through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He will bless us for it (James 1:12).

God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either. James 1:13

Forgiveness Is Not an Option

God doesn’t ask us to do something He hasn’t already done for us.

Why do we find it so hard to forgive others? Why do we hold grudges and refuse others the privilege and honor of our forgiveness? We can think of at least one big reason: They have hurt us and consequently we don’t think they deserve our forgiveness (at least not for a while). Besides, they haven’t asked for our forgiveness. Why should we forgive someone who doesn’t want to be forgiven?

Whenever we get stingy with our forgiveness, we need to remember that in our relationship with God, we are the offenders and God is the offended. We have hurt God and don’t deserve His forgiveness, yet He didn’t wait until we asked Him to forgive us. Out of His deep love for us, He forgave us while we were still in rebellion to Him.

When we are reluctant to forgive others, we must remember that God wants us to.

Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

Your Family

In a hospitable home, everyone serves each other because each one considers the others to be very special people.

Hospitality is often defined as the display of thoughtfulness to strangers and guests. But having guests over for dinner is only part of the hospitality–the easy part. The more challenging aspect of hospitality happens after the door shuts when the visitors leave: Can your family treat each other with the same attention and respect that is reserved for special visitors?

We are often more kind to strangers and friends than we are to the members of our family. The “outsiders” get the best part of us, while the people in our own household get the worst part of us. There’s an old saying that goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” but it doesn’t have to be true because it’s old.

Here’s another old saying: “I command you to love each other” (John 15:17). When Jesus said these words, He didn’t excuse those with whom you share a bathroom and refrigerator.

Dear friends,
let us continue to love one another,
for love comes from God. 1 John 4:7

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