fbpx
Standard Print

Servants of the Night

Today's Devotional

Read: Psalm 134 | Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 8–9; Luke 21:1–19




May the Lord bless you from Zion. Psalm 134:3

It’s 3 a.m. at an acute-care hospital. A worried patient presses the call button for the fourth time in an hour. The night-shift nurse answers without complaint. Soon another patient is screaming, crying for attention. The nurse isn’t surprised. She requested the night shift five years ago to avoid her hospital’s daytime frenzy. Then the reality hit. Night work often meant taking on extra tasks, such as lifting and turning patients by herself. It also meant closely monitoring patients’ conditions so physicians could be notified in emergencies.

Buoyed by close friendships with her nighttime co-workers, this nurse still struggles to get adequate sleep. Often, she asks her church for prayer, seeing her work as vital. “Praise God, their prayers make a difference.”

Her praise is good and right for a night worker—as well as for all of us. The psalmist wrote, “Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord” (Psalm 134:1–2).

This psalm, written for the Levites who served as temple watchmen, acknowledged their vital work—protecting the temple by day and night. In our nonstop world, it feels proper to share this psalm especially for nighttime workers, yet every one of us can praise God in the night. As the psalm adds, “May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth” (v. 3).

When you consider nighttime workers—nurses, janitors, first responders, and others—what prayers on their behalf can you offer to God? Why would praising God lead to a blessing from Him for nighttime workers?

Dear God, in the early morning hours while I safely sleep, send Your blessings to nighttime workers doing vital work in my community. And help me to praise You in the night.

INSIGHT

Psalms 120–134 is an anthology of fifteen songs, collectively known as the “Pilgrim Psalms” or “Songs of Ascent” in the Jewish hymnbook. Three times a year, all male Jews were to come to the temple in Jerusalem to observe the three annual national feasts of Unleavened Bread (Passover), Weeks (Pentecost), and Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16). Since Jerusalem is located on a mountainous terrain (Psalms 48:1–2; 125:2), these pilgrims had to “ascend” to get there. Therefore, the superscription marks these songs as “A song of ascents.”

Psalm 134 is the final song in this anthology, serving as a fitting benediction and closing prayer for the pilgrims. Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe says that this song reminds us that our worship of God never ends (v. 2), and His blessings never stop (v. 3).

By |2022-04-30T09:06:02-04:00April 30th, 2022|
Standard Print

Spiritual Diagnosis

Today's Devotional





We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord. Jeremiah 44:16

Chemotherapy reduced the tumor in my father-in-law’s pancreas, until it didn’t. As the tumor began to grow again, he was left with a life-and-death decision. He asked his doctor, “Should I take more of this chemo or try something else, perhaps a different drug or radiation?”

The people of Judah had a similar life-and-death question. Weary from war and famine, God’s people wondered whether their problem was too much idolatry or not enough. They concluded they should offer more sacrifices to a false god and see if she would protect and prosper them (Jeremiah 44:17).

Jeremiah said they had wildly misdiagnosed their situation. Their problem wasn’t a lack of commitment to idols; their problem was that they had them. They told the prophet, “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord!” (v. 16). Jeremiah replied, “Because you have burned incense and have sinned against the Lord and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you” (v. 23).

Like Judah, we may be tempted to double down on sinful choices that have landed us in trouble. Relationship problems? We can be more aloof. Financial issues? We’ll spend our way to happiness. Pushed aside? We’ll be equally ruthless. But the idols that contributed to our problems can’t save us. Only Jesus can carry us through our troubles as we turn to Him.

What personal problem has you stumped and how are you tempted to respond in a sinful way? What do you think Jesus might want you to do?

Jesus, I’d rather fail with You than succeed without You.

INSIGHT

In Jeremiah 44:1–14, God sent a direct message through the prophet Jeremiah to the Jewish refugees who’d gone to Egypt against His express direction (see 42:7–22). While there, they were “burning incense to other gods in Egypt” (44:8), which brought God’s clear warning (vv. 8–14). But the people saw only what they wanted to see and defiantly rejected God in favor of the false “Queen of Heaven” (vv. 17–19, possibly Ishtar) and other pagan gods. On the face of it, Jeremiah’s mission was a failure. Opposition to his message was extensive. Yet the prophet remained faithful to God despite his unpopularity.

By |2022-04-29T09:06:05-04:00April 29th, 2022|
Standard Print

Growing in Faith

Today's Devotional





Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James‬ ‭1:4

At the beginning of my gardening journey, I’d wake up early and run to my vegetable garden to see if anything had sprouted. Nothing. After an internet search for “fast garden growth,” I learned that the seedling stage is the most important phase of a plant’s lifespan. Knowing now that this process couldn’t be rushed, I came to appreciate the strength of small sprouts fighting their way through the soil toward the sun and their resilience to temperamental weather. After waiting patiently for a few weeks, I was finally greeted by bursts of green sprouts creeping through the soil.

Sometimes it’s easy to praise the victories and triumphs in our lives without similarly acknowledging that growth in our character often comes through time and struggle. James instructs us to “consider it pure joy” when we “face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). But what could possibly be delightful about trials?

God will sometimes allow us to go through challenges and hardships so that we can be molded into who He’s called us to be. He waits in anticipation for us to come out of the trials of life “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4). By staying grounded in Jesus, we can persevere through any challenge, growing stronger and ultimately allowing the fruit of the Spirit to blossom in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23). His wisdom gives us the nourishment we need to truly flourish each and every day (John 15:5).

What trials have you been working through recently? What lessons are these circumstances revealing to you?

Dear heavenly Father, sometimes the trials I face seem unbearable. Please give me the strength to persevere, and help me as I grow in faith and develop into the fruit-bearing believer that You’ve called me to be.

INSIGHT

The letter of James emphasizes the calling of believers in Jesus to grow in wisdom, uniting Jesus’ teachings and other wisdom teachings in Scripture to paint a picture of living wisely and faithfully. The Greek word teleios, translated “mature” in verse 4, is a key word in the book of James (also vv. 17, 25; 3:2). It’s a word that in the original language emphasizes wholeness and integrity. To be “mature” is to live a life in which our daily actions flow harmoniously from our beliefs. Conversely, to live foolishly, in ways that are inconsistent with what we say we believe, is to live a fractured and divided life. Throughout his letter, James draws attention to any behavior that stands in stark contrast to what true faith in Christ demands, urging believers to reject any such inconsistencies for the wholeness found in Jesus.

By |2022-04-28T09:06:03-04:00April 28th, 2022|
Standard Print

Sing Again

Today's Devotional





Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Zephaniah 3:14

Australia’s regent honeyeater bird is in trouble—it’s losing its song. Though once an abundant species, just three hundred birds now remain; and with so few others to learn from, the males are forgetting their unique song and failing to attract mates.

Thankfully, conservationists plan to rescue the honeyeaters by singing to them. Or, more precisely, play them recordings of other honeyeaters singing so they can relearn their heart song. As the males pick up the tune and attract females again, it’s hoped the species will flourish once more.

The prophet Zephaniah addressed a people in trouble. With so much corruption among them, he announced that God’s judgment was coming (Zephaniah 3:1–8). When this later came to pass through capture and exile, the people too lost their song (Psalm 137:4). But Zephaniah foresaw a time beyond judgment when God would come to this decimated people, forgive their sins, and sing to them: “He will take great delight in you, in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). As a result, the heart song of the people would be restored (v. 14).

Whether through our own disobedience or the trials of life, we too can lose our heart song of joy. But a Voice is singing over us songs of forgiveness and love. Let’s listen to His melody and sing along.

When do you find it hardest to retain your joy in God? What song, poem, or prayer can you give to God in response to His rejoicing over You?

Loving God, it’s amazing to imagine that You would sing songs of joy over me. I praise You and sing my own song of praise to You.

INSIGHT

Zephaniah, whose name means “Yahweh hides,” is one of the twelve minor prophets. He ministered to Judah during the reign of Josiah (640–609 bc; Zephaniah 1:1), Judah’s reformist king (2 Kings 22–23; 2 Chronicles 34–35). As the great-great grandson of the godly king Hezekiah, Zephaniah was part of the royal family and probably a distant relative of the incumbent King Josiah. Like many of God’s prophets, Zephaniah prophesied of the future “day of the Lord” (Zephaniah 1:7), “a day of [God’s] wrath” (v. 15) when God will bring to a close human history “[sweeping] away everything from the face of the earth” (v. 2). Zephaniah proclaimed God as the sovereign Judge of history and nations (1:2–3, 7; 2:4–15; 3:6–8) and warned that He would punish Judah for her unfaithfulness (1:4–2:3; 3:1–7) while promising restoration for the faithful and purified remnant after the judgment (3:9–20).

By |2022-04-27T09:06:03-04:00April 27th, 2022|
Standard Print

Age Is Just a Number

Today's Devotional





Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Youthfulness shouldn’t stop anyone from achievement. It certainly didn’t stop eleven-year-old Mikaila. Instead of putting up a lemonade stand, Mikaila opened a lemonade business. Me & the Bees Lemonade started with her grandmother’s recipe and eventually earned a $60,000 investment from investors on the television show Shark Tank. She also signed a contract with a major grocer to sell her lemonade at fifty-five of the chain’s stores.

Mikaila’s drive and dreams point us back to Paul’s words to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Timothy, though not a child like Mikaila, was likely considerably younger than most in his congregation. After interning with the apostle Paul, some thought that Timothy wasn’t mature enough to lead them. Instead of telling him to prove himself by showing his credentials, Paul encouraged Timothy to demonstrate spiritual maturity by the way he used his words, lived his life, loved his parishioners, exercised his faith, and remained sexually pure (v. 12). No one could discredit him as a teacher and pastor if he backed it up with a godly example.

Regardless of our age, we can impact the world. We do it by setting a Christ-centered example for others as God provides what we need. May He shape our lives with the gospel, so whether we’re seventeen or seventy, we’ll be worthy to share it with others.

How has God been helping you grow in spiritual maturity and effectiveness for Him? Why is age not the most important factor?

Father, help me to model what it means to be devoted to Jesus in the way I speak, exercise my faith, and love others.

INSIGHT

Just as certain regimens are essential for our physical well-being, the same is true spiritually. Paul’s choice of words in 1 Timothy 4:6–13 stresses the value of spiritual discipline for believers in Jesus—regardless of age. The word nourished (v. 6) translates the Greek word entrephō, which means to “educate” or “to nourish through feeding [the mind].” The Greek word from which we get our word gymnasium (gymnazō, to exercise vigorously body or mind) is used in verse 7 (“train”) and a noun form in verse 8 (“physical training”). “Godless myths and old wives’ tales” (v. 7) and their contemporary counterparts don’t nourish those who desire to live God-honoring lives. Paul’s personal discipline comes into focus in verse 10 where another colorful Greek word is used. The word labor translates the word kopiaō. What’s in view here is labor to the point of fatigue and exhaustion.

By |2022-04-26T09:06:04-04:00April 26th, 2022|
Standard Print

Pulled to Safety

Today's Devotional





He reached down from on high and took hold of me. 2 Samuel 22:17

A little girl waded in a shallow creek while her father watched. Her rubber boots reached her knees. As she sloshed downstream, the water deepened until it flowed over the top of her waders. When she couldn’t take another step, she yelled, “Daddy, I’m stuck!” In three strides, her father was at her side, pulling her to the grassy bank. She yanked her boots off and laughed as water poured onto the ground.

After God rescued the psalmist David from his enemies, he took a moment to sit down, “pull off his boots,” and allow the relief to flood his soul. He wrote a song to express his feelings. “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies,” he said (2 Samuel 22:4). He praised God as his rock, fortress, shield, and stronghold (vv. 2–3), and then went on to narrate a poetic response of God’s response: The earth trembled. God came down from heaven. Lightning bolts flew from His presence. His voice thundered, and He drew him out of deep water (vv. 8, 10, 13–15, 17).

Maybe today you feel opposition around you. Maybe you’re stuck in sin that makes it hard to advance spiritually. Reflect on how God has helped you in the past, and then praise Him and ask Him to do it again! Thank Him especially for rescuing you by bringing you into His kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

Why is it easy to overlook the good things God’s done for you in the past when you’re in the midst of trouble? How does praising God increase your faith in Him?

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for coming to my aid so many times. Help me to know I can face any battle with You by my side.

INSIGHT

Second Samuel 22:13–20 is a small portion of a larger song, or psalm, of David (vv. 2–51) that corresponds to the fifty verses of Psalm 18. In both, the sense is basically the same; only the wording differs slightly.

In this song of thanksgiving, David begins with a lengthy introduction detailing his past distress (including threats to his life). The psalmist then calls on “the Lord” (2 Samuel 22:7). The Lord appears in a theophany (a visible manifestation of God) in verses 8–16. God’s sudden appearance and actions are described in terms of what might be an erupting volcano with lightning and thunder or a similar catastrophe that results in a violent earthquake. The Lord swoops in as a mighty warrior. And in verses 17–20, David describes his deliverance, concluding with the words: “He rescued me because he delighted in me” (v. 20).

By |2022-04-25T09:06:02-04:00April 25th, 2022|
Standard Print

Feeling Dusty

Today's Devotional





He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

When Warren mentioned during our weekly ministry team call that he was “feeling dusty,” I sensed that this was his way of referencing the physical challenges associated with aging and ill-health. For Warren and his wife, both in their late sixties, 2020 included doctors’ visits, surgical procedures, and the rearranging of their home to accommodate in-home care. They were on the other side of the prime of life and they were feeling it.

One doesn’t have to live long before sensing our inadequacies, imperfections, and weaknesses—physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. God, in the person of His Son, Jesus, stepped into our fallen world and cares for those who experience the liabilities of human existence (Psalm 103:13). Furthermore, David wrote, “He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (v. 14). The term dust takes us back to Genesis: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (2:7).

Are you feeling dusty these days? Welcome to the realities of earthly living. Remember, however, that when we feel most vulnerable, we’re not left alone. Our compassionate God “knows” and “remembers.” He demonstrated His love to us by sending His Son to provide forgiveness for earthly people like you and me. Whatever life may bring, may we trust in Him.

What situations make you aware of your human limitations? How have you seen the hand of God in the midst of your weaknesses?

Father, though in various ways I feel my limitations—my dustiness—help me to be strong in faith and trust You.

INSIGHT

A key word in Psalm 103:13–19 is compassion (Hebrew racham). God is described as having the compassion of a father toward His children (v. 13). This description echoes God’s description of Himself in Exodus 34, where He reveals His glory to Moses and says, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished” (vv. 6–7). Compassion is the first adjective God uses to describe Himself when He allowed Moses to see Him in a way that no one else had. It’s one of His defining characteristics of His relationship with us.

By |2022-04-24T09:06:02-04:00April 24th, 2022|
Standard Print

What Counts

Today's Devotional





Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19

My friend recounted how she’d pointedly been asked by a fellow believer and colleague which political party she belonged to. His aim in asking the question seemed to be to predict whether he agreed with her on any number of issues currently dividing their community. In an effort to find common ground between them, she simply replied, “Since we’re both believers, I’d rather focus on our unity in Christ.”

People were also divided in Paul’s day, though over different issues. Topics such as what foods were permissible to eat and what days were considered holy brought disagreement among the Christians in Rome. Despite being “fully convinced in their own mind” on whichever position they held, Paul reminds them of their common ground: living for Jesus (Romans 14:5–9). Instead of passing judgment on one another, he encouraged them to “do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (v. 19).

In an era when many countries, churches, and communities are divided over issues large and small, we can point one another to the unifying truth of Christ’s work on the cross to secure our life with Him eternally. Paul’s reminder that we ought not “destroy the work of God” (v. 20) with our individual positions is as timely today as it was 2,000 years ago. Instead of passing judgment on one another, we can act in love and live in a way that honors our brothers and sisters.

When did a difference of opinion cause division between you and another believer? If you resolved your differences, how did you do so?

Jesus, thank You for saving me. Forgive me for the times I get distracted by lesser issues and allow division to occur between myself and other believers. Help me to bring unity through focusing on You.

INSIGHT

Two of the most difficult responsibilities for believers in Christ are seen in Paul’s challenge in Romans 14:19—we’re to pursue the things that make for peace and the things that edify one another. The first is difficult because there are many divisive elements in the life of the church. A heart of peace, which is the fruit of wisdom (as seen in James 3:13–18), is necessary if we’re to display relationships that honor God. The goal of edification is difficult because it’s easy to look out only for our own interests. Keeping our responsibilities to one another is essential if we’re to display Jesus in our world.

By |2022-04-23T09:06:04-04:00April 23rd, 2022|
Standard Print

Gratitude on Earth Day

Today's Devotional





The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15

Earth Day is an annual event observed on April 22. In recent years, more than one billion people in about two hundred countries have taken part in educational and service activities. Each year, Earth Day is a reminder of the importance of caring for our amazing planet. But the mandate to care for the environment is far older than this annual event—it goes all the way back to creation.

In Genesis, we learn that God created the entire universe and formed the earth as a place for humans to dwell. Not only did He fashion the mountain peaks and lush plains, God also created the garden of Eden, a beautiful place providing food, shelter, and beauty for its inhabitants (Genesis 2:8–9).

After breathing life into His most important creation, humans, God placed them in this garden (vv. 8, 22) and gave them the responsibility “to work it and take care of it” (v. 15). After Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, caring for God’s creation became more difficult (3:17–19), but to this day God Himself cares for our planet and its creatures (Psalm 65:9–13) and asks us to do the same (Proverbs 12:10).

Whether we live in crowded cities or rural areas, we all have ways we can care for the areas God has entrusted to us. And as we tend the earth, may it be an act of gratitude to Him for this beautiful planet.

What part of creation takes your breath away? How might you care for the part of the earth God has entrusted to you?

Creator God, You’ve entrusted to us a marvelous planet that sustains and astonishes me. Please help me to respond to Your gift by caring for it as a way to express thankfulness for Your provision.

INSIGHT

Ancient Hebrew literature often conveyed meaning through intentional wordplays. In Genesis 2, the Hebrew word translated “man”—’adam (Genesis 2:7) is very similar to the Hebrew word translated “ground” (vv. 5–7)—’adamah. If a modern translation attempted to capture this wordplay, it might translate “man” (’adam) as “earthling” and “ground” (’adamah) as “earth.” By pairing these words, the passage communicates key insights into human nature. Humanity was formed from the earth or ground (v. 7) and so is intimately connected to it. But humanity was also given a unique relationship to God, who gave human beings the “breath of life” (v. 7). Formed from the earth, human beings are also those to whom creation’s care is entrusted (v. 15).

By |2022-04-22T09:06:03-04:00April 22nd, 2022|
Standard Print

Really Alive

Today's Devotional





There will be no more death. Revelation 21:4

Since it was the week after Easter, our five-year-old son, Wyatt, had heard plenty of resurrection talk. He always had questions—usually real stumpers. I was driving, and he was buckled into his seat behind me. Wyatt peered out the window, deep in thought. “Daddy,” he said, pausing and preparing to ask me a tough one. “When Jesus brings us back to life, are we going to be really alive—or just alive in our heads?”

This is the question so many of us carry, whether or not we have the courage to speak it aloud. Is God really going to heal us? Is He really going to raise us from the dead? Is He really going to keep all His promises?

The apostle John describes our certain future as “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). In that holy city, “God himself will be with [us] and be [our] God” (v. 3). Because of Christ’s victory, we’re promised a future where there’s no more tears, no evil arrayed against God and His people. In this good future, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (v. 4).

In other words, in the future God promises, we’ll be really alive. We’ll be so alive that our life now will seem a mere shadow.

Where do you experience death in your life? If God promises that death is doomed and we’re going to really live, how does this renew your hope?

God, You said death will meet its end and You promise me genuine life. Thank You.

INSIGHT

Today’s passage gives us a glimpse of heaven, describing it as a physical place (Revelation 21:1–2). Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us (John 14:2–3), and this promise is fulfilled in the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, (Revelation 21:2). While it’s a great comfort that heaven is a perfect place (v. 4), the most important thing is that it’s the dwelling place of God (v. 3).

In this final vision of the beginning of eternity (21:1–22:9), John hears Christ declaring, “It is done” (21:6). The New Living Translation renders it, “It is finished!” echoing Christ’s victorious cry from the cross (John 19:30). Sin’s curse will one day be completely removed and reversed (Revelation 21:4–5; see Genesis 3:16–19).

By |2022-04-21T09:06:02-04:00April 21st, 2022|
Go to Top