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Daily Devotion

boldstardex

Moderator
Four-year-old Eliana was helping her mom pick up some of Eliana’s things before bedtime. When Mommy told her to put away the clothes on her bed, Eliana hit her limit. She turned around, put her little hands on her hips, and said, “I can’t do everything!”
Do you ever feel that way with the tasks God has called you to do? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with church involvement, witnessing, and raising a family. We might sigh in exasperation and pray, “Lord, I can’t do everything!”
Yet God’s instructions indicate that His expectations are not overwhelming. For instance, as we deal with others, He gives us this qualifier: “As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18). God understands our limitations. Or this: “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord” (Col. 3:23). He’s not asking for perfection that we might impress people, but simply to honor Him with the work we do. And one more: “Let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Gal. 6:4). We are not doing our work as a competition with others, but simply to carry our own load.
In wisdom, God has equipped us to do just what He wants us to do—and that’s certainly not everything!
He gives me work that I may seek His rest,
He gives me strength to meet the hardest test;
And as I walk in providential grace,
I find that joy goes with me, at God’s pace. —Gustafson
When God gives an assignment, it comes with His enablement.
Let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. —Galatians 6:4
 

boldstardex

Moderator
When our granddaughter Sarah was very young, she told us she wanted to be a basketball coach like her daddy when she grew up. But she couldn’t be one yet, she said, because first she had to be a player; and a player has to be able to tie her shoelaces, and she couldn’t tie hers yet!
First things first, we say. And the first thing in all of life is to know God and enjoy Him.
Acknowledging and knowing God helps us to become what we were meant to be. Here is King David’s counsel to his son Solomon: “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind” (1 Chron. 28:9).
Remember, God can be known. He is a Person, not a logical or theological concept. He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, and desires as any person does. A. W. Tozer writes, “He is a person and can be known in increasing degrees of intimacy as we prepare our hearts for the wonder of it.” Ah, there’s the rub: We must “prepare our hearts.”
The Lord is not playing hard to know; those who want to know Him can. He will not foist His love on us, but He does wait patiently, for He wants to be known by you. Knowing Him is the first thing in life.
He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joys we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.
—C. Austin Miles © Renewal 1940. The Rodeheaver Company
The thought of God staggers the mind but to know Him satisfies the heart.
Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind. —1 Chronicles 28:9
 

rowan

Super Veteran
He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joys we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.


"IN THE GARDEN"
 

boldstardex

Moderator
In his battle with cancer, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” His suffering influenced the choices he made.
In contrast, the apostle Peter wanted to motivate his readers to use their suffering to make their lives count for eternity. And he wanted Jesus’ suffering and death to inspire them to accept the spiritual conflict and persecution that would result from bearing the name of Jesus. Because they loved Jesus, suffering was going to be normative. Jesus’ suffering was to serve as motivation to give up sinful passions and to be obedient to the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2). If their lives were going to count for eternity, they needed to stop indulging in fleeting pleasures and instead exhaust their lives on what pleased God.
Remembering that Jesus suffered and died to forgive our sins is the most important thought we have to inspire us to make godly choices today and to make our lives count for eternity.
Jesus, You have suffered and died to forgive our sin;
may Your death and resurrection inspire us to never
return to where we’ve been. Help us in our resolve
to live for Your will alone.
Jesus’ death forgave my past sins and inspires my present obedience.
Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind. —1 Peter 4:1
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Although I try not to be shocked by the things I see these days, I was caught off-balance by the message on the woman’s T-shirt as she walked past me in the mall. The bold letters declared: “Hope Is For Suckers.” Certainly, being naïve or gullible can be foolish and dangerous. Disappointment and heartache can be the tragic offspring of unfounded optimism. But not allowing oneself to have hope is a sad and cynical way to view life.
Biblical hope is unique; it’s a confident trust in God and what He is doing in the world and in our lives. That’s something everyone needs! The writer to the Hebrews clearly stated the importance of hope when he wrote, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).
Having biblical hope is not foolish, because it has a strong foundation. We hold fast to the hope we have received in Christ because our God is faithful. He can be trusted with anything and everything we will ever face—both for today and forever. Our hope is grounded in the trustworthy character of the God who loves us with an everlasting love. So, the T-shirt had it wrong. Hope is not for suckers; it’s for you and for me!
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. —Mote
Hope that has its foundation in God will not crumble under the pressures of life.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. —Hebrews 10:23
 

rowan

Super Veteran
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.



CHRIST D SOLID ROCK
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Many years ago, when a young friend asked if he could borrow our car, my wife and I were hesitant at first. It wasour car. We owned it, and we depended on it. But we soon felt convicted to share it with him because we knew that God wanted us to care for others. So we handed the keys over to him, and he traveled to a church 30 miles away to conduct a youth rally. The meeting was used by the Lord to bring teens to Christ.
Jesus instructed His disciples to take another man’s donkey. The Son of God told His men to “loose it and bring it” to Him (Mark 11:2). If someone objected, they were to say, “The Lord has need of it,” and they would then be permitted to lead it away. That donkey carried Christ into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.
There’s a lesson here for us to consider. We all have things that we hold dear. We may have thought, I could never part with that. It may be a new truck, a coat, some other possession, or our precious few free hours during the week. Will we be open to give when someone obviously needs something we have?
If you sense that the Spirit is speaking to you, let your time or possession go, as the owner released his animal to Jesus. He will then be glorified as He deserves!
Make me a channel of blessing today,
Make me a channel of blessing, I pray;
My life possessing, my service blessing,
Make me a channel of blessing today. —Smyth​
God gives us all we need, so we can give to others in their need.
Say, “The Lord has need of it,” and immediately he will send it here. —Mark 11:3
 

boldstardex

Moderator
As I started up my car in the dark hours of early morning, I noticed a seatbelt light on the dashboard. I checked my door, opening and pulling it shut again. I tugged on my seatbelt to test it. But the sensor light still beamed. Then, in slow realization, I reached over and lifted my purse a few inches above the passenger seat. The light clicked off.
Apparently, a cell phone, three rolls of quarters, a hardcover book, and my lunch stuffed in my very large purse had equaled the weight of a small passenger, thus setting off the sensor!
While I can easily empty out a handbag, other weights are not so easy to shed. Those burdens of life involve a heaviness of spirit.
Whether the burden that weighs us down is one of guilt such as the one that consumed David’s thoughts (Ps. 32:1-6), the fear Peter experienced (Matt. 26:20-35), or the doubt Thomas carried (John 20:24-29), Jesus has invited us to bring them all to Him: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
We are not built to bear burdens alone. When we cast them on the One who wants to bear our burdens (Ps. 68:19; 1 Peter 5:7), He replaces them with forgiveness, healing, and restoration. No burden is too heavy for Him.
Lord, thank You for lovingly carrying our burdens.
In times of trouble, help us to leave those burdens
in Your strong hands and to find our rest in You.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Burden God with what burdens you.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28
 

boldstardex

Moderator
When Amanda Benavides was a sophomore at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, she began to rethink her views on Christian stewardship of the earth. Amanda had grown up thinking that being conscious of the environment had nothing to do with her relationship with Jesus. All this changed when she was challenged to consider the Christian’s role in caring for the planet—especially how that relates to reaching the most needy in the world.
Our stewardship of the beautiful world God gave us, and our care for the people in it, express our reverence for God and is grounded in two biblical principles.
First, the earth belongs to God (Ps. 24:1-2). The psalmist praised the Lord for His creation and His ownership of it. The heavens, the earth, and all that are in it are His. He created it, He is sovereign over it (93:1-2), and He cares for it (Matt. 6:26-30). Second, God delegated the responsibility for the well-being of His earth to us (Gen. 1:26-28). This includes appreciation of and care for both nature (Lev. 25:2-5,11; Prov. 12:10) and people (Rom. 15:2).
This is our Father’s world. Let’s show Him how much we love Him by respecting it and caring for the people who populate it.
The natural world that God has made
Must not be used at whim;
We serve as stewards of His earth,
Responsible to Him. —D. DeHaan
To mistreat God’s creation is to offend the Creator.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. —Psalm 24:1
 

boldstardex

Moderator
When a friend started making random despairing statements, people were concerned for him and started giving advice and offering encouragement. As it turned out, he was simply having fun by quoting song lyrics out of context to start a conversation. Friends who tried to help wasted their time by offering help he didn’t need and advice he didn’t want. The consequences of my friend’s misleading statements were not serious, but they could have been. In taking time to respond to his false need, someone could have neglected someone else’s truly serious need.
Some people who take words out of context just want to gain attention or win an argument. But others are more sinister. They twist truth to gain power over others. They endanger not only lives but also souls.
When people use words to manipulate others to behave in certain ways—or worse, when they quote the Bible out of context to convince others to do wrong—there’s only one defense: We need to know what God truly says in His Word. Jesus was able to resist temptation with the truth (Luke 4). We have the same resource. God has given us His Word and Spirit to guide us and keep us from being deceived or misled.
Your words of pure, eternal truth
Shall yet unshaken stay,
When all that man has thought or planned
Like chaff shall pass away. —Anon.
If we hold on to God’s truth, we won’t be trapped by Satan’s lies.
Read: Luke 4:1-13
Your Word is truth. —John 17:17
 

boldstardex

Moderator
During a business trip to Philadelphia, I attended an evening service on the Thursday before Easter—a service of Communion and Tenebrae (darkness) held in a small chapel lit by candles. Following the bread and the cup, a passage was read aloud from the gospel of John, one candle was extinguished, and we sang a verse from a hymn about Jesus’ journey to the cross. This was repeated 14 times until the chapel was completely dark. In silence we knelt in prayer and then left one by one without speaking.
The darkness of this type of service can remind us of the dark elements surrounding Jesus’ death. Think of His last meal with the disciples (John 13:21-30) as He explained that one of them would betray Him. Only Jesus knew it was Judas. “Having received the piece of bread, [Judas] then went out immediately. And it was night” (v.30).
On the darkest evening of Jesus’ life, He agonized in prayer in the Garden, faced a wrongful arrest, endured humiliation at the hands of religious leaders, and winced at Peter’s denials. Yet He moved faithfully toward the cross where He would die for our sins.
Jesus endured darkness and death to give us light and life. Praise Him for what He went through for us!
See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown? —Watts
Calvary reveals the vileness of our sin and the vastness of God’s love.
Read: John 13:21-30
Having received the piece of bread, [Judas] then went out immediately. And it was night. —John 13:30
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Recently I read about Aron Ralston, a hiker who was trapped alone at the bottom of a remote canyon. With scant hope of being found and his strength ebbing away, he had to take drastic measures to save his life. During a moment of excruciating pain, he shouted in agony and in victory, because he had freed himself and now had a chance to escape and live.
Those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus saw His hours of agony and heard Him cry out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” as He gave up His spirit (John 19:30). His final words from the cross were not a cry of painful defeat but a shout of triumph, because He had accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do.
When Jesus died, He shared in what all of us must experience. But far beyond that, He did what none of us can do. He paid the price for our sins that we might be forgiven and have eternal life through faith in Him.
“It is finished!” was the Lord’s shout of victory because now, through Him, we can escape the power of sin; we can live and be free.
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we call the day of His death GoodFriday.
I have been to the cross where my Savior died,
And all of my life is made new—
In the person of Him I am crucified.
I have been to the cross. Have you?
—Helen Frazee-Bower © 1956 Helen Frazee-Bower
Jesus died that we might live.
Read: John 19:28-37
It is finished! —John 19:30
 

boldstardex

Moderator
The radio ad for an upcoming seminar sounded intriguing. The announcer said, “You can beat death—for good! Attend my seminar and I’ll show you how.” I wondered for a few moments what the speaker would claim could beat death and what his suggestions might be. Perhaps something about diet or exercise or freezing our bodies? After listening a little longer, though, I realized he had said, “You can beat debt—for good.”
The most wonderful news is that we can beat death because Jesus paid our debt! (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Our debt of sin meant separation from God, but Jesus willingly gave up His life and was crucified on a cross to pay what we owed. As Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to the tomb on the third day to anoint His body, an angel told them: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:6). With great joy they ran to bring His disciples the word. On their way, Jesus met them and said, “Rejoice!” (v.9). Jesus had risen, and His followers had reason for rejoicing.
Jesus has removed the sting of death (1 Cor. 15:55). Now we too have victory by believing in the Son of God’s death and resurrection for us. Through Jesus’ perfect work, we can beat death—for good!
Dear Lord, thank You for sacrificing Your life for our
sins so that we might live. We’re thankful that because
You died and rose again, we can have assurance that
one day we’ll be with You in a place of no more death.
We owed a debt we couldn’t pay; Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe.
O Death, where is your sting? —1 Corinthians 15:55
 

boldstardex

Moderator
When the first flowers of spring bloomed in our yard, my 5-year-old son waded into a patch of daffodils. He noticed some debris from plants that had expired months before and remarked, “Mom, when I see something dead, it reminds me of Easter because Jesus died on the cross.” I replied, “When I see something alive—like the daffodils—it reminds me that Jesus came back to life!”
One reason we know Jesus rose from the grave is that, according to the gospel of Luke, He approached two travelers headed to Emmaus 3 days after His crucifixion. Jesus walked with them; He ate dinner with them; He even gave them a lesson in Old Testament prophecy (24:15-27). This encounter showed the travelers that Jesus conquered the grave—He had risen from the dead. As a result, the pair returned to Jerusalem and told the disciples, “The Lord is risen indeed!” (v.34).
If Jesus had not come back to life, our faith as Christians would be pointless, and we would still be under the penalty of our sin (1 Cor. 15:17). However, the Bible tells us that Jesus “was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25 niv). Today, we can be right with God because Jesus is alive!
I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him He’s always near.
—Alfred Ackley © Renewal 1961. The Rodeheaver Company
The empty cross and the empty tomb provide a full salvation.
Read: Luke 24:13-34
The Lord is risen indeed! —Luke 24:34
 

boldstardex

Moderator
While I was visiting my son in San Diego, we decided to go to Shadow Mountain Church to hear Dr. David Jeremiah preach. Steve and I got up early on Sunday morning and took the hour-long drive to the church. But our anticipation turned to disappointment when we discovered that Dr. Jeremiah was not there that day. “Some other guy”—a substitute—was preaching.
A couple of weeks later, I was scheduled to preach at the church in Grand Rapids where my wife and I attend. As I stood in front of the congregation, I realized that now I was “some other guy” and they might be disappointed because they had come to hear our pastor—not me—speak.
While we find comfort in the familiarity of those we depend on in life, we have to recognize that at times they can be substituted. But the One we need most—the One on whom we depend for life itself—is always present (Ps. 139:7-8). When we desire to enter God’s presence in prayer, He is always there: “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (55:17).
Looking for God? He’s always right there. No substitute needed.
Dear Lord, I am so thankful that You are always present.
I never need to make an appointment to speak to You,
the God of the universe. No matter where I go or what
time it is, I can depend on Your presence.​
When you come to the Lord, there is no waiting line—His ears are always open to your cry.
Read: Psalm 139:1-12
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? —Psalm 139:7
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. True friends seek a special kind of good for their friends: the highest good, which is that they might know God and love Him with all of their heart, soul, and mind. German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The aim of friendship is exclusively determined by what God’s will is for the other person.”
Jonathan, David’s friend, is a sterling example of true friendship. David was in exile, hiding in the Desert of Ziph, when he learned that “Saul had come out to seek his life” (1 Sam. 23:15). Jonathan went to Horesh to find David. The significance of this scene lies in Jonathan’s intent: He helped David find strength in God or, as the text puts it, he “strengthened his hand [grip] in God” (v.16).
That is the essence of Christian friendship. Beyond common interests, beyond affection, beyond wit and laughter is the ultimate aim of sowing in others the words of eternal life, leaving them with reminders of God’s wisdom, refreshing their spirit with words of His love, and strengthening their grip on God.
Pray for your friends and ask God to give you a word “in season” to help them find renewed strength in our God and His Word.
Dear Lord, thank You for loving us. May Your love
compel us to show love to others. Give us
sensitivity to Your Spirit that we might know how
to encourage them in their walk with You.
A true friend is a gift from God and one who points us back to Him.
Read: 1 Samuel 23:14-18
A friend loves at all times. —Proverbs 17:17
 

boldstardex

Moderator
Love is the centerpiece of thriving relationships. Scripture makes it clear that we need to be people who love—love God with all our hearts, love our neighbor as ourselves, and love our enemies. But it’s hard to love when we don’t feel loved. Neglected children, spouses who feel ignored by their mates, and parents who are alienated from their children all know the heartache of a life that lacks love.
So, for everyone who longs to be loved, welcome to the pleasure of knowing that you are richly loved by God. Think of the profound impact of His love that was poured out for you at the cross. Meditate on the fact that if you’ve trusted in Him, His love covers your faults and failures and that you are clothed with His spotless righteousness (Rom. 3:22-24). Revel in the fact that nothing can separate you from His love (8:39). Embrace His loving provision of a future secured for you where you will be eternally loved (John 3:16).
When John tells us that we “ought to love one another,” he calls us the “beloved” (1 John 4:11; see also 3:1-2). Once you embrace how wonderfully loved you are by God, it will be much easier to be the loving person God calls you to be—even toward those who don’t show you love.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all. —Watts
Embracing God’s love for us is the key to loving others.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. —1 John 4:11
 
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