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A Baboon, a Donkey, and Me

Today's Devotional

Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth. Numbers 22:28

Jack knew how to put trains on the right track. In nine years of work, he never missed a track switch as locomotives drew near the Uitenhage, South Africa, station, indicating by their whistles the direction they were to go.

Jack was also a chacma baboon. He was cared for by railway signalman James Wide, and Jack in turn took care of James. Wide had lost both his legs in a fall between moving rail cars. He trained Jack to help him with tasks around the house and soon Jack assisted him at work also, learning how to respond to the incoming trains’ signals by pulling corresponding levers for their tracks.

The Bible tells of another animal that helped someone in a surprising way—Balaam’s donkey. Balaam was a pagan prophet serving a king who intended to harm Israel. As the prophet was riding his donkey en route to assist the king, “the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth” and it spoke to Balaam (Numbers 22:28). The donkey’s speech was part of the way God opened “Balaam’s eyes” (v. 31), warned him of imminent danger, and kept him from harming His people.

A railway baboon? A talking donkey? Why not? If God can use these amazing animals for good purposes, it’s not at all far-fetched to believe He can use you and me as well. Looking to Him and seeking His strength, we can accomplish more than we ever thought possible.

Whom have you seen God use unexpectedly? What will you do to make yourself available to Him today?

I want to serve You, God! Use my hands, my feet, my mouth, whatever You like! Help me to live for You today.


The book of Numbers records the mercenary exploits of Balaam and how God hijacked his plan to curse His people (see Numbers 22–24). Through another Balaam-devised strategy, however, the children of Israel were led astray (see 31:16). Three times in the New Testament, Balaam’s waywardness and the consequences thereof are used to warn and divert believers in Jesus from unrighteousness. Second Peter 2:15 speaks of “the way of Balaam . . . who loved the wages of wickedness,” Jude 11 notes “Balaam’s error,” and Revelation 2:14 warns of “the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin.”

By |2023-02-28T01:33:13-05:00February 28th, 2023|
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Seeing a Need

Today's Devotional

All the widows stood around [Peter], crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made. Acts 9:39

In the last few days of my dad’s life, one of the nurses dropped by his room and asked me if she could give him a shave. As Rachel gently pulled the razor across his face, she explained, “Older men of his generation like to have a neat shave every day.” Rachel had seen a need and acted on her instinct to show kindness, dignity, and respect to someone. The tender care she provided reminded me of my friend Julie who still paints her elderly mother’s nails because it’s important to her mom that she “look pretty.”

Acts 9 tells us about a disciple named Dorcas (also known as Tabitha) who showed kindness by providing handmade clothing for the poor (vv. 36, 39). When she died, her room was filled with friends who tearfully mourned this kind woman who loved helping others.

But Dorcas’ story didn’t end there. When Peter was brought to where her body lay, he knelt and prayed. In God’s power, he called her by name, saying, “Tabitha, get up” (v. 40). Amazingly, Dorcas opened her eyes and rose to her feet. When her friends realized she was alive, word spread quickly through the town and “many people believed in the Lord” (v. 42).

And how did Dorcas spend the next day of her life? Probably exactly as she had before—seeing the needs of people and filling them.

Whom do you know that always seems to find ways to help others? What can you do to become more aware of others’ needs?

Father, open my eyes each day to see the hurting and needy people around me. Open my heart to do what I can to show them what God’s love looks like.


The main event we usually focus on in Acts 9 is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. However, Peter’s time in Joppa is also highlighted (vv. 36–43). When he raised Dorcas from the dead (v. 40), he said, “Tabitha, get up.” This echoes Jesus’ Aramaic words to Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5:41, “ ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’).” This event sets the stage for the events in Acts 10, when Peter received a heavenly vision in anticipation of messengers from the Roman centurion Cornelius (vv. 9–16). This vision would prepare the way for the door of the gospel to be opened to the gentiles. So, Peter’s brief stay in Joppa was not only eventful but reached forward throughout the history of the church as people from every tribe, tongue, and nation were invited to respond to the gospel.

By |2023-02-27T01:33:20-05:00February 27th, 2023|
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Is It a Sign?

Today's Devotional

I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8

The offer looked good, and was exactly what Peter needed. After being laid off, this sole breadwinner of a young family had prayed desperately for a job. “Surely this is God’s answer to your prayers,” his friends suggested.

Reading about the prospective employer, however, Peter felt uneasy. The company invested in suspicious businesses and had been flagged for corruption. In the end, Peter rejected the offer, though it was painful to do so. “I believe God wants me to do the right thing,” he shared with me. “I just have to trust He will provide for me.”

Peter was reminded of the account of David meeting Saul in a cave. It seemed like he was being given the perfect opportunity to kill the man hunting him down, but David resisted. “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing . . . for he is the anointed of the Lord,” he reasoned (1 Samuel 24:6). David was careful to distinguish between his own interpretation of events and God’s command to obey His instruction and do the right thing.

Instead of always trying to look for “signs” in certain situations, let’s look to God and His truth for wisdom and guidance to discern what lies before us. He will help us do what’s right in His eyes.

What could help you discern between a personal interpretation of events and what God would want you to do? Whom can you turn to for godly advice?

God, our Provider, grant me the wisdom to discern opportunities before me and the faith to follow Your way, that I might always do what pleases You.

For further study, read Making Decisions God’s Way.


Twice David spared King Saul’s life—first as recorded in 1 Samuel 24:1–10 and again as described in chapter 26. The setting in chapter 24 is a large cave in the wilderness of En Gedi. This cave is one among many in the region, some large enough to hold thousands. Saul and his soldiers were pursuing David with the intent of killing him when Saul stopped to relieve himself in the very cave where David and his six hundred men were hiding. In chapter 26, Saul continued to pursue David. Once again, David was close enough to take Saul’s life but showed him the mercy that the king lacked.

By |2023-02-26T01:33:03-05:00February 26th, 2023|
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Keep Talking about Jesus!

Today's Devotional

Day after day, . . .  [the apostles] never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 5:42

In an interview, a musician who’s a believer in Christ recalls a time he was urged to “stop talking about Jesus” so much. Why? It was suggested that his band could be more famous and raise more money to feed the poor if he stopped saying his work was all about Jesus. After thinking it through, he decided, “The entire point of my music is to share my faith in Christ. . . . No way [am I] going to be silent.” He said his “burning calling [is] to share the message of Jesus.”

Under much more threatening circumstances, the apostles received a similar message. They’d been jailed and miraculously delivered by an angel, who told them to continue telling others about their new life in Christ (Acts 5:19–20). When the religious leaders learned of the apostles’ escape and that they were still proclaiming the gospel, they reprimanded them: “We gave you strict orders not to teach in [Jesus’] name” (v. 28).

Their reply: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (v. 29). As a result, the leaders flogged the apostles and “ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus” (v. 40). The apostles rejoiced that they were worthy of suffering for Jesus’ name, and “day after day . . . never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news” (v. 42). May God help us to keep following their example!

If you’ve ever been told to stop talking about Jesus, what was your response? What are some ways you can tell others about Him?

Dear God, thank You for the example of the apostles and others who were bold witnesses for You. Please give me courage to follow their lead.

For further study, read Gospel Conversations.


The Sadducees (Acts 5:17) were among the first-century religious sects who were unfriendly to Jesus (see Matthew 16:1–12; 22:23–29). After His death and resurrection, His apostles also experienced resistance from them. They were a party of priestly aristocrats, whom some believed traced their priestly roots to Zadok the priest who was loyal to kings David and Solomon (see 2 Samuel 15; 1 Kings 1). They believed that the Torah (the Law) was the chief authority and held that the doctrine of resurrection couldn’t be defended from the Law.

By |2023-02-25T01:33:21-05:00February 25th, 2023|
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Praying in Difficult Times

Today's Devotional

Read: Psalm 61 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 9–11; Mark 5:1–20

From the ends of the earth I call to you . . . as my heart grows faint. Psalm 61:2

Author and theologian Russell Moore described noticing the eerie silence in the Russian orphanage where he adopted his boys. Someone later explained that the babies had stopped crying because they learned that no one would respond to their cries.

When we face difficult times, we too can feel that no one hears. And worst of all, we can feel that God Himself doesn’t listen to our cries or see our tears. But He does! And that’s why we need the language of petition and protest found especially in the book of Psalms. The psalmists petition for God’s help and also protest their situation to Him. In Psalm 61, David brings his petitions and protests before his Creator, stating, “I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (v. 2).  David cries out to God because he knows that only He is his “refuge” and “strong tower” (v. 3).

Praying the petitions and protests of the psalms is a way of affirming God’s sovereignty and appealing to His goodness and faithfulness. They’re proof of the intimate relationship we can experience with God. In difficult moments, we can all be tempted to believe the lie that He doesn’t care. But He does. He hears us and is with us.

How does it encourage you to know that God hears your desperate prayers? What petitions and protests will you share with Him today?

Dear Jesus, help me to offer You my petitions, protests, and praise.


The background of Psalm 61 is difficult to ascertain because the superscription only gives a brief musical instruction: “For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.” What do we know? The content of the psalm itself is worshipful and—with the heavy emphasis on the singer being the king himself—clearly qualifies as a royal psalm. Additionally, some see in this song the characteristics of lament, especially in verse 2 where we read, “as my heart grows faint.” This statement seems to speak of a heart that’s overwhelmed with the circumstances of life and needs safety, hence the references to God as “refuge” and “tower” (vv. 3–4). The song may have been written during the season when David was driven from the kingdom by his son Absalom because the references to his role as king wouldn’t have applied when he was being pursued by King Saul.

By |2023-02-24T01:33:12-05:00February 24th, 2023|
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Water of Life

Today's Devotional

You would have asked him and he would have given you living water. John 4:10

Andrea’s home life was unstable, and she left at fourteen, finding a job and living with friends. Yearning for love and affirmation, she later moved in with a man who introduced her to drugs, which she added to the alcohol she already drank regularly. But the relationship and the substances didn’t satisfy her longings. She kept searching, and after several years she met some believers in Jesus who reached out to her, offering to pray with her. A few months later, she finally found the One who would quench her thirst for love—Jesus.

The Samaritan woman at the well whom Jesus approached for water found her thirst satisfied too. She was there in the heat of the day (John 4:5–7), probably to avoid the stares and gossip of other women, who would have known her history of multiple husbands and her current adulterous relationship (vv. 17–18). When Jesus approached her and asked her for a drink, He bucked the social conventions of the day, for He, as a Jewish teacher, would not normally have associated with a Samaritan woman. But He wanted to give her the gift of living water that would lead her to eternal life (v. 10). He wanted to satisfy her thirst.

When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we too drink of this living water. We can then share a cup with others as we invite them to follow Him.

How do you think the woman at the well felt when Jesus asked her for some water? What does it mean to you to receive His living water?

Father God, You welcome all who are thirsty to come to the waters and drink. Satisfy my thirst through Your living water.


In John 3, Nicodemus, a respected Jewish religious leader, sought Jesus at night (v. 2). In John 4, however, Christ initiates a conversation in the middle of the day with a woman from an ethnic group despised by the Jewish people Nicodemus taught. Yet Jesus engaged both individuals in lengthy conversation, with positive results. The woman at the well immediately went and asked the townspeople, “Could this be the Messiah?” (v. 29). After Jesus’ crucifixion, Nicodemus boldly identified himself with Christ by preparing His body for burial (19:38–40). Jesus’ ministry extends across all borders.

By |2023-02-23T01:33:03-05:00February 23rd, 2023|
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Be Humble Day

Today's Devotional

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8

I’m often amused by the unofficial holidays people come up with. February alone has a Sticky Bun Day, a Sword Swallowers Day, even a Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day! Today has been labeled Be Humble Day. Universally recognized as a virtue, humility is certainly worth celebrating. But interestingly, this hasn’t always been the case.

Humility was considered a weakness, not a virtue, in the ancient world, which prized honor instead. Boasting about one’s achievements was expected, and you sought to raise your status, never lower it. Humility meant inferiority, like a servant to a master. But all this changed, historians say, at Jesus’ crucifixion. There, the One who was “in very nature God” gave up His divine status to become “a servant” and “humbled himself” to die for others (Philippians 2:6–8). Such a praiseworthy act forced humility to be redefined. By the end of the first century, even secular writers were calling humility a virtue because of what Christ had done.

Every time someone is praised for being humble today, the gospel is being subtly preached. For without Jesus, humility wouldn’t be “good,” or a Be Humble Day even thinkable. Christ relinquished His status for us, revealing through all history the humble nature of God.

What would the world be like if humility was still a weakness? In what relationships can you imitate Jesus’ humility today?

I praise You, Jesus, for being the Humble One. And I desire to humble myself to You today as my only fitting response!


One of the great debates in theology surrounds the “kenosis theory.” The word kenosis is derived from the Greek word kenoō, which means “to empty” (see Philippians 2:7, “made himself nothing”). If Jesus “emptied himself” (esv; nasb) to come in human flesh, of what did He empty Himself? Some speculate that He emptied Himself of His divine attributes. However, without divine attributes, He’d cease to be God, and the Bible clearly states that the incarnate Christ was both God and man (v. 6). Many scholars conclude that Jesus didn’t empty Himself of any aspects of deity but rather set aside the privilege of freely exercising those attributes. He depended instead on the Holy Spirit and was guided by the Father’s purposes.

By |2023-02-22T01:33:20-05:00February 22nd, 2023|
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Protect Your Heart

Today's Devotional

Read: Proverbs 4:20–27 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 1–3; Mark 3

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Hungarian-born mathematician Abraham Wald lent his skills to the World War II efforts after coming to the United States in 1938. The military was looking for ways to protect its aircraft from enemy fire, so Wald and his colleagues at the Statistical Research Group were asked to figure out how to better protect military aircraft to defend against enemy fire. They began by examining returning aircraft to see where they were most damaged. But Wald is credited with the keen insight that damage on returning aircraft represented only where a plane could be hit and still survive. He realized that areas most in need of additional armor would be found on planes that had crashed. Planes hit in the most vulnerable part—the engine—had gone down and therefore couldn’t be examined.

Solomon teaches us about protecting our most vulnerable part—our heart. He instructs his son to “guard [his] heart” because from it everything else flows (Proverbs 4:23). God’s instructions guide us through life, steering us away from poor decisions and teaching us where to focus our attention.

If we armor our heart by heeding His instructions, we’ll better “keep [our feet] from evil” and remain steadfast on our journey with God (v. 27). We venture into enemy territory every day, but with His wisdom guarding our hearts, we can stay focused on our mission to live well for God’s glory.

What is your heart most vulnerable to right now? How can God’s wisdom protect you?

God, please protect my heart from the threats against it. I hide myself in You.



What does it mean to “guard your heart” (Proverbs 4:23)? It means to be vigilant, to keep watch for any danger that might draw us away from God. We do so by internalizing the wisdom of Scripture (vv. 20–22) and by resisting temptation (vv. 25–27). God helps us as we seek Him through prayer: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Philippians 4:8 offers good advice about what we fill our minds with: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” As we rely on the Spirit, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7).

By |2023-02-21T01:33:02-05:00February 21st, 2023|
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What’s Truly Needed

Today's Devotional

Read: Mark 7:8–13 | Bible in a Year: Leviticus 26–27; Mark 2

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. Mark 7:8

While preparing a meal, a young mother cut a pot roast in half before she put it in a large pot. Her husband asked her why she cut the meat in half. She replied, “Because that’s the way my mother does it.”

Her husband’s question, however, piqued the woman’s curiosity. So she asked her mother about the tradition. She was shocked to learn that her mother cut the meat so it would fit in the one small pot she used. And because her daughter had many large pots, the act of cutting the meat was unnecessary.

Many traditions begin out of a necessity but are carried on without question—becoming “the way we do it.” It’s natural to want to hold on to human traditions—something the Pharisees were doing in their day (Mark 7:1–2). They were distracted by what seemed like the breaking of one of their religious rules.

As Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (v. 8). He revealed that traditions should never replace the wisdom of Scripture. A genuine desire to follow God (vv. 6–7) will focus on the attitude of our heart rather than outward actions.

It’s a good idea to consistently evaluate traditions—anything we hold close to our heart and follow religiously. The things that God has revealed to be truly needed should always supersede traditions.

What are some of the traditions you hold fast to? How do they line up with what’s revealed in Scripture?

Heavenly Father, help me to follow Your commands and to forgo any tradition that conflicts with the Scriptures.


Mark’s gospel is unique in several ways. It presents the Savior as the divine Servant. It’s held by many conservative scholars to be the recollections of Simon Peter and is the most action-oriented of the Gospels, causing many to see it as intended for a Roman audience. This assumed Roman audience may also account for Mark’s concern in explaining some Jewish ritual practices (see Mark 7:3–4)—explanations which aren’t needed in Matthew’s gospel and its assumed Jewish audience. Ultimately, Mark’s account, which begins, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (1:1), reveals Jesus as the One who said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45).

By |2023-02-20T01:33:03-05:00February 20th, 2023|
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Revival Comes

Today's Devotional

If my people . . . will humble themselves . . . , then I will hear from heaven. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Aurukun is a small town in northern Australia—its Aboriginal population drawn from seven clans. While the gospel came to Aurukun a century ago, eye-for-eye retribution sometimes remained. In 2015, clan tensions grew, and when a murder happened, payback required someone from the offender’s family to die in return.

But something remarkable happened in early 2016. The people of Aurukun started seeking God in prayer. Repentance followed, then mass baptisms, as revival began sweeping the town. People were so joyful they danced in the streets, and instead of enacting payback, the family of the murdered man forgave the offending clan. Soon 1,000 people were in church each Sunday—in a town of just 1,300!

We see revivals like this in Scripture, as in Hezekiah’s day when crowds joyfully returned to God (2 Chronicles 30), and on the day of Pentecost when thousands repented (Acts 2:38–47). While revival is God’s work, done in His time, history shows prayer precedes it. “If my people . . . will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,” God told Solomon, “I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

As the people of Aurukun found, revival brings joy and reconciliation to a town. How our own cities need such transformation! Father, bring revival to us too.

While there’s no “formula” for revival, what do you think helps lead to it? How can you respond to God today to help revival come?

Dear Father, please bring revival to our land, starting with me.

For further study, read How to Have a Revival.


In 2 Chronicles 7, during the dedication of the temple, King Solomon prayed for favor and blessing on his people. God responded and reiterated His promises of blessing according to the covenant He made with their fathers: “If my people . . . will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive” (v. 14). As one commentator states, “God had plans to bless them from the very beginning, and . . . had contingencies in place for their lapses in obedience. [He] was providing for their eventual return, assuming that the human heart is prone to wander and cannot help but stray.” This if-then conditional statement makes it clear: If the people repent, then God will forgive. We see an example of this enacted in the story of Hezekiah (32:24–26). Hezekiah and the people repented, and God forgave and delayed His judgment.

By |2023-02-19T01:33:13-05:00February 19th, 2023|
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