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God’s Handiwork

Today's Devotional

Read: Psalm 8 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 24-25; John 5:1-24




How majestic is your name in all the earth. Psalm 8:1

On July 12, 2022, scientists awaited the first images of deepest space from the new James Webb Space Telescope. The state-of-the-art telescope can look farther into the universe than mankind has ever looked before. Suddenly a breathtaking image emerges: a color space-scape of the Carina Nebula, never before seen like this. One NASA astronomer quoted Carl Sagan, a noted atheist: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting.”

Sometimes people can look God in the eye and not see Him. But the psalmist David looked into the sky and knew exactly what he was seeing: “You have set your glory in the heavens” (Psalm 8:1). Sagan was right in saying that “something incredible is waiting,” but he failed to acknowledge what David clearly perceived: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them” (vv. 3-4).

When we see images of deepest space, we’re amazed, not so much because of technology, but because we’re witnessing the handiwork of God. We marvel because in the vastness of creation, God has made us “rulers over the works of [his] hands” (v. 6).  Indeed, “something incredible is waiting”—God, waiting to bring believers in Jesus to Him when He returns. That’s the most breathtaking image of all.

What thoughts do you have as you look at images of deep space? How do you experience God in them?

Creator God, I’m amazed at the glory of the heavens and the beauty of Your handiwork. Thank You for caring for me in the midst of Your wondrous creation!

INSIGHT

The superscription of Psalm 8 tells us that David wrote this hymn to be sung in temple worship (“For the director of music” and “According to gittith.”) The gittith (see also Psalms 81 and 84) is most likely a kind of stringed instrument (like the guitar) or a musical arrangement. Scholars suggest that as a shepherd boy tending sheep in the open fields, David was inspired by the stars in the night sky to write this praise song. That would explain why there’s no mention of the sun or clouds. Psalm 8 celebrates the majesty and glory of God as Creator (vv. 2-4) and the dignity and significance of human beings as the crown of God’s creation (vv. 5-8). 

By |2024-05-16T02:33:13-04:00May 16th, 2024|
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Lies and Truth

Today's Devotional





 

[Satan] is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

 

Adolf Hitler believed big lies were more powerful than small ones, and, tragically, he tested his theory successfully. Early in his political career, he claimed he was content to support others’ aspirations. When he came to power, he said his party didn’t intend to persecute anyone. Later, he used the media to portray himself as a father figure and moral leader.

Satan uses lies to gain power in our lives. Whenever possible, he provokes fear, anger, and despair because he’s “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan can’t tell the truth because, as Jesus said, he doesn’t have any truth inside of him.

Here are a few of the enemy’s lies. First, our prayers don’t matter. Not true. The Bible says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Second, when we’re in trouble, there’s no way out. Wrong again. “All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27), and “he will also provide a way out” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Third, God doesn’t love us. That’s false. Nothing can “separate us” from God’s love through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s truth is more powerful than lies. If we obey Jesus’ teaching in His strength, then we “will know the truth,” reject what’s false, and “the truth will set [us] free” (John 8:31-32).

What are some lies you’re likely to believe? How might God want you to refresh your mind with His truth?

Dear Jesus, You’re the way, the truth, and the life. Please show me lies I’ve believed and help me to cling to the truth I read in the Bible.

INSIGHT

In today’s passage, Jesus unequivocally declares that Satan is “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan (also known as the devil, the enemy, the thief, the evil one, the tempter) is in direct opposition to Jesus, “the truth” who sets us free (v. 32). Satan has “no truth in him” (v. 44), but Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” (14:6). In the last hours before His crucifixion, as Jesus stood before Pilate, He stated: “The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth” (18:37). Jesus came to earth to declare the truth about Himself, to explain the Father to us, and to expose the truth about ourselves, as He did with the Samaritan woman at the well (ch. 4). While Satan “[came] only to steal and kill and destroy” (10:10) and was “a murderer from the beginning” (8:44), Jesus brings life eternal (3:16).

By |2024-05-15T07:23:29-04:00May 15th, 2024|
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Joy and Wisdom

Today's Devotional





I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Ecclesiastes 8:15

Sweetly fragrant cherry tree blossoms flood Japan with exquisite pale and vibrant pinks every spring, delighting the senses of residents and tourists alike. The short-lived nature of the blossoms cultivates a keen awareness in the Japanese to savor the beauty and scent while they linger: the very brevity of the experience heightens the poignancy of it. They call this deliberate enjoyment of something that will change quickly mono-no-aware.”

As humans, it’s understandable that we’d want to seek and prolong feelings of joy. Yet the reality that life is riddled with hardship means we must cultivate the ability to view both pain and pleasure through a lens of faith in a loving God. We needn’t be overly pessimistic, nor should we fashion ourselves an unrealistically sunny outlook on life.

The book of Ecclesiastes offers a helpful model for us. Though this book is sometimes thought to be a catalog of negative statements, the same King Solomon who wrote that “everything is meaningless” (1:2) also encouraged his readers to find joy in the simple things in life saying, “There is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad” (8:15).

Joy comes when we ask God to help us “know wisdom” and learn to observe “all that God has done” (vv. 16-17) in both beautiful seasons and in difficult ones (3:11-14; 7:13-14), knowing that neither is permanent on this side of heaven.

What kind of “season” are you currently in? How can you find joy in it?

Dear Father, thank You for being the source of beauty and joy in my life.

INSIGHT

The author of Ecclesiastes, which scholars say is Solomon, identifies himself as “the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). He shows us what life is like without God and how He must fit into it. The Teacher makes his observations on the unjust realities of life in a fallen world: “Good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good” (8:14 nlt). Instead of being weighed down by such unfairness, however, Solomon encourages us to enjoy life (3:22; 5:19; 9:9) so we “will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives [us] under the sun” (8:15 nlt). At the close of his book, the author reminds us: “When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days” (11:8 nlt).

By |2024-05-14T02:33:06-04:00May 14th, 2024|
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A Solitary Voice

Today's Devotional





As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what my God says. 2 Chronicles 18:13

After the Paris Peace Conference that concluded World War I, French Marshall Ferdinand Foch bitterly observed, “This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.” Foch’s view contradicted the popular opinion that the horrifying conflict would be the “war to end all wars.” Twenty years and two months later, World War II erupted. Foch was right.

Long ago, Micaiah, the lone true prophet of God present at the time, consistently prophesied dire military results for Israel (2 Chronicles 18:7). In contrast, four hundred of King Ahab’s false prophets foretold victory: “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king,” a court official told Micaiah. “Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably” (v. 12).

Micaiah responded, “I can tell him only what my God says” (v. 13). He prophesied how Israel would be “scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd” (v. 16). Micaiah was right. The Arameans killed Ahab and his army fled (vv. 33-34; 1 Kings 22:35-36).

Like Micaiah, we who follow Jesus share a message that contradicts popular opinion. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Many don’t like that message because it seems harshly narrow. Too exclusive, people say. Yet Christ brings a comforting message that’s inclusive. He welcomes everyone who turns to Him. 

When the Spirit leads you to say or do something, how will you do so in love? When have your own assumptions needed to be challenged by God?

Father, please give me the wisdom to discern Your truth. 

INSIGHT

A similar battle between true and false prophets that’s recorded in 2 Chronicles 18 is also seen in Jeremiah 27-28. The prophet Jeremiah is the solitary voice for truth amid a chorus of false hope (27:9-15) and confronts the lies of the false prophet Hananiah (ch. 28).

In the New Testament, Paul also warned against false prophets and of the day when people “will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). Every believer in Jesus needs to be discerning and boldly speak truth, even where there are those who itch for something else.

By |2024-05-13T02:33:06-04:00May 13th, 2024|
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Leaving a Spiritual Legacy

Today's Devotional





I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice. 2 Timothy 1:5

As teens, my sister and I didn’t understand my mom’s decision to receive Jesus as her Savior, but we couldn’t deny the changes we saw in her. She had more peace and joy and began faithfully serving at church. She had such a hunger for studying the Bible that she attended and graduated from seminary. A few years after my mom’s decision, my sister accepted Christ and started serving Him. And a few years after that, I also placed my trust in Jesus and started serving Him. Many years later, my father joined us in believing in Him as well. My mom’s decision for Christ created a life-changing ripple effect among our immediate and extended family.

When the apostle Paul wrote his final letter to Timothy and encouraged him to persevere in his faith in Jesus, he noted Timothy’s spiritual heritage. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

Moms and grandmoms, your decisions can affect generations.

How beautiful that Timothy’s mom and grandmom helped nurture his faith so he could become the man God was calling him to be. 

On this Mother’s Day and beyond, let’s honor mothers who’ve made a decision to follow Jesus.

Let’s also leave a spiritual legacy for our loved ones.

Which godly women can you honor today? What kind of spiritual legacy would you like to leave for others?

Father God, thank You for godly mothers. Please help me to also leave a spiritual legacy for others.

INSIGHT

Though Paul affectionately called Timothy “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2; see 2 Timothy 1:2), he wasn’t the one who taught him about Jesus. It was his own mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5) who “taught [him] the holy Scriptures from childhood, and . . . [gave him] the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus” (3:15 nlt). Timothy was of mixed parentage—a gentile father and Jewish mother. When Paul first met him, Timothy was already a leader and “the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him” (Acts 16:2). He became Paul’s intern, traveling companion, and trusted protégé (vv. 3-4; Philippians 2:19-22). That the apostle sent Timothy to deal with the troublesome Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 4:17) and to confront false teachers in the Ephesian church (1 Timothy 1:3) testify to this young man’s spiritual maturity and ministry leadership.

Learn more about the lesser-known women of the Bible.

By |2024-05-12T02:33:06-04:00May 12th, 2024|
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Staying the Course in Christ

Today's Devotional

Read: 1 Samuel 28:3-10 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 13-14; John 2




All you need to say is simply “Yes” or “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37

As Gandalf the Grey confronted Saruman the White, it became clear that the latter had turned from what he was supposed to be doing—helping to protect Middle-earth from the power of the evil being Sauron. What’s more, Saruman had allied with Sauron! In this scene from the film The Fellowship of the Ring, based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic work, the two former friends then engage in an epic good-versus-evil battle. If only Saruman had stayed the course and done what he knew was right!

King Saul also had trouble staying the course. In one account, he rightly “expelled the mediums and spiritists from [Israel]” (1 Samuel 28:3). Good move, for God had declared that dabbling in the occult was “detestable” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). But when God didn’t answer the king’s plea—due to his prior failures—for how to deal with a massive Philistine army, Saul caved: “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her” (1 Samuel 28:7). Talk about a complete reversal! Saul failed once more as he went against his own decree—what he knew was right.

A millennium later, Jesus said to His disciples, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). In other words, if we’ve committed ourselves to obeying Christ, it’s vital that we keep our oaths and be truthful. Let’s stay the course in doing those things as God helps us.

What helps you keep your oaths? Why is it vital that you stay the course in being truthful?

Dear Jesus, please help me stay the course in following Your ways.

INSIGHT

First Samuel 28:6 says, “[Saul] inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him.” The reason for God’s silence, as the prophet Samuel told him, is that “the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy” (v. 16). This was “because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites” (v. 18). The Amalekites were descendants of Esau (though they were distinct from his descendants the Edomites). They had a history of attacking Israel, including those who lagged behind during the exodus—in other words, Israel’s weakest citizens. God instructed Israel to annihilate Amalek (Deuteronomy 25:17-19), but Israel didn’t complete the task. Later, Haman, a descendant of Agag (probably King Agag the Amalekite, see 1 Samuel 15), would seek to commit genocide against God’s people, the Jews (Esther 3:5-14).

By |2024-05-11T02:33:07-04:00May 11th, 2024|
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Trying to Save Ourselves

Today's Devotional





It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

Many years ago, New York City launched a “Stay Safe. Stay Put” ad campaign to educate people on how to stay calm and be safe when trapped in an elevator. Experts reported that some trapped passengers had died when they tried to pry open the elevator doors or attempted exiting by some other means. The best plan of action is to simply use the alarm button to call for help and wait for emergency responders to arrive.

The apostle Paul spelled out a very different type of rescue plan—one to help those trapped in the downward pull of sin. He reminded the Ephesians of their utter spiritual helplessness—being truly “dead in [their] . . . sins” (Ephesians 2:1). They were trapped, obeying the devil (v. 2), and refusing to submit to God. This resulted in them being the subject of God’s wrath. But He didn’t leave them trapped in spiritual darkness. And those who believe in Jesus, the apostle wrote, “by grace . . . have been saved” (vv. 5, 8). A response to God’s rescue initiative results in faith. And faith means we’ll give up on trying to save ourselves and call on Jesus to rescue us. 

By God’s grace, being rescued from sin’s trap doesn’t originate with us. It’s “the gift of God” through Jesus alone (v. 8).

Why can’t you save yourself from sin’s trap? How has God provided what you need to be saved?

Dear God, I’m so grateful that when I was trapped in sin and tried to save myself, You initiated my rescue and sent a Savior to free me. 

Learn more about having a personal relationship with God.

INSIGHT

A helpful acronym to describe the grace of God is GRACE—God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. This phrase summarizes and magnifies the reality that salvation—rescue from our sin (forgiveness, being made right with God)—is the work of God to be received by faith, not something that we achieve. Another acronym that succinctly captures this truth is GFFG—God’s Favor Freely Given. The Greek word cháris, translated “grace,” is used broadly in the New Testament (twelve times in Ephesians) with a range of meanings, including “goodwill,” “lovingkindness,” and “favor.” Ephesians 2:7 describes “the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” It’s also used in this sense in Luke 1:30: “The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.’ ” God’s kindnesses are manifold for “the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11).

By |2024-05-10T02:33:13-04:00May 10th, 2024|
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Blooming Deserts

Today's Devotional

Read: Isaiah 35:1-7 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 7-9; John 1:1-28




The desert will bloom with flowers. Isaiah 35:2 nirv

A century ago, lush forest covered roughly 40 percent of Ethiopia, but today it’s around 4 percent. Clearing acreage for crops while failing to protect the trees has led to an ecological crisis. The vast majority of the remaining small patches of green are protected by churches. For centuries, local Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido churches have nurtured these oases in the midst of the barren desert. If you look at aerial images, you see verdant islands surrounded by brown sand. Church leaders insist that watching over the trees is part of their obedience to God as stewards of His creation.

The prophet Isaiah wrote to Israel, a people who lived in an arid land where bare desert and brutal droughts threatened. And Isaiah described the future God intended, where “the desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom” (Isaiah 35:1). God intends to heal His people, but He intends to heal the earth too. He’ll “create new heavens and a new earth” (65:17). In God’s renewed world, “the desert will bloom with flowers” (35:2 nirv).

God’s care for creation—including people—motivates us to care for it too. We can live in sync with His ultimate plan for a healed and whole world—being caretakers of what He’s made. We can join God in making all kinds of deserts bloom with life and beauty.

Where do you see some part of creation barren or suffering? How will you be part of seeing deserts bloom?

Creator God, please show me how to help heal and restore what’s broken in the world.

Click to discover God’s creative purpose for nature and a nation.

INSIGHT

To the Israelites, the “day of Lord” was the day when God would judge all the foreign nations who are Israel’s enemies (Isaiah 13; Jeremiah 46; Ezekiel 30; Joel 3:1-16). At that time, God would pour out His blessings on Israel as His covenant nation (Isaiah 61; Joel 2:18-32; 3:17-21). Isaiah 35:4 encapsulates this twin mindset: “Your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you” (nlt). Prophesying about God’s judgment against the nations, the prophet warned, “The Lord is angry with all nations . . . . He will totally destroy them” (34:2). Then Isaiah assured God’s people about the glories that would await them when He comes to rescue and restore them (35:3-7). Jesus referred to verses 5-6 when he confirmed His messianic identity to encourage a disheartened John the Baptist in prison (Luke 7:18-23).

By |2024-05-09T02:33:11-04:00May 9th, 2024|
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Eyes to See

Today's Devotional





Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17

Joy was concerned for her relative Sandy, who for years had struggled with alcoholism and mental-health issues. When she went to Sandy’s apartment, the doors were locked, and it appeared vacant. As she and others planned their search for Sandy, Joy prayed, “God, help me to see what I’m not seeing.” As they were leaving, Joy looked back at Sandy’s apartment and saw the tiniest movement of a curtain. In that moment, she knew that Sandy was alive. Although it took emergency assistance to reach her, Joy rejoiced in this answered prayer.

The prophet Elisha knew the power of asking God to reveal to him His reality. When the Syrian army surrounded their city, Elisha’s servant shivered in fear. Not the man of God, however, for with God’s help he glimpsed the unseen. Elisha prayed that the servant too would see, and “the Lord opened the servant’s eyes” to see “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire” (2 Kings 6:17).

God lifted the veil between the spiritual and physical worlds for Elisha and his servant. Joy believes God helped her see the tiny flicker of the curtain, giving her hope. We too can ask Him to give us the spiritual vision to understand what’s happening around us, whether with our loved ones or in our communities. And we too can be agents of His love, truth, and compassion.

How could you ask God to open your eyes to His truth concerning situations that weigh you down? How has He revealed His reality to you previously?

Father of all mercies, please open my eyes to see Your love and grace that I might share it with others.

INSIGHT

In 2 Kings 5, Elisha’s servant Gehazi attempted to acquire clothing and silver from the Aramean commander Naaman by lying (vv. 19-24). Because of this, Gehazi was stricken with leprosy (v. 27). Because Mosaic law required those with contagious skin diseases to live apart from others to prevent the spread of illness (Leviticus 13:45-46), Gehazi would’ve had to leave. Therefore, unless God healed Gehazi, the servant in 2 Kings 6:15 was likely new and his alarm was understandable. He hadn’t yet had much opportunity to observe God’s power demonstrated through Elisha, whose prayers here had both spiritual and physical impact (vv. 17-20).

By |2024-05-08T02:33:07-04:00May 8th, 2024|
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God-Given Gifts

Today's Devotional

Read: Romans 12:4-8 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 1-3; Luke 24:1-35




We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:6

Decades ago, I went to a college retreat where everyone was talking about a personality test. “I’m an ISTJ!” one said. “I’m an ENFP,” another chirped. I was mystified. “I’m an ABCXYZ,” I joked.  

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about that test (the Myers-Briggs) and others such as the DiSC assessment. I find them fascinating because they can help us understand ourselves and others in helpful, revealing ways—shedding light on our preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Provided we don’t overuse them, they can be a useful tool God uses to help us grow.

Scripture doesn’t offer us personality tests. But it does affirm each person’s uniqueness in God’s eyes (see Psalm 139:14-16; Jeremiah 1:5), and it shows us how God equips all of us with a unique personality and unique gifts to serve others in His kingdom. In Romans 12:6, Paul begins to unpack this idea, when he says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”

Those gifts, Paul explains, are not for us alone but for the purpose of serving God’s people, Christ’s body (v. 5). They’re an expression of His grace and goodness, working in and through all of us. They invite each of us to be a unique vessel in God’s service.

What gifts has God given you to serve others? If you’re not sure what your gifts are, who might help you get a better sense of those God-given gifts?

Father, thank You for the gifts You’ve given me. Please help me to embrace the ways You’ve equipped me to love and serve others in Your kingdom.

Find out how you can understand yourself and others.

INSIGHT

Romans 12 marks a turning point in Paul’s letter. Previously, the apostle had been explaining the work of God in salvation, describing Jesus as the second Adam who came to redeem what had been lost through our first parents’ disobedience in Eden (5:12-20). Now he turns his attention to the way this salvation is to be lived out by those bought by Christ’s sacrifice. It starts with the redeemed becoming a “living sacrifice” (12:1), whose focus is on being useful to God in the lives of others. This is followed by a list of spiritual gifts to equip God’s children in service to others (vv. 3-8). Another list of spiritual gifts appears in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, and a list of leadership roles (gifts to the church) is found in Ephesians 4:11. Through these provisions, the Spirit enables us to fulfill our function in our spiritual service.

By |2024-05-07T02:33:12-04:00May 7th, 2024|
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