Devotionals

Be inspired and uplifted each day as you receive insight into God's Word

Matthew 18:4

February 23

Matthew 18:4—Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

When we become unable to mourn over our sin, we are morally doomed!

One night my ten year old son called me to his room.  It was almost 10:30—two hours past his bedtime.  As I walked up the winding stairs, I could hear him crying softly in the darkness.  When I opened the door, I could see moonlight reflected from cheeks wet with tears.

“What’s the matter, Matthew?”  I asked quietly.

“Today I said some things that offended the Lord,” he said.  “Would you pray with me that God would forgive me for what I said?”

I didn’t ask what it was he’d said.  Even if it was horrible, God would forgive it.  And even if it was trivial, it was still serious to Matthew.  I knelt beside his bed and we prayed together until he felt comforted.

As I walked back to my bedroom I prayed, “Lord, don’t let me lose the heart of a child.  Don’t let me get so cold and calloused that I forget how to mourn over things that offend You.

Paul speaks of people who have “lost all sensitivity” Ephesians 4:19.  They are past feeling.  Their consciences no longer sting when they break the law of God.  It’s a dangerous position to be in.  Our consciences are supposed to hurt when we sin.  It’s how God alerts us to the need for repentance.

Socrates described conscience, as the spouse from whom there is no divorce.  Maybe we can’t divorce our consciences, but we can stifle them until their voices are silent.  Then we have, in Paul’s words, “lost all sensitivity.”

Remember Father Damien, the leper priest?  In answer to God’s call, he became a missionary to the lepers on the island of Molokai.  For thirteen years he lived among them as their teacher, their companion and their friend.

At last the dread disease laid hold of him.  One morning he spilled some boiling water on his foot and felt not the slightest hint of pain.  Then he knew—he was doomed.  The loss of feeling was proof that leprosy had conquered.

It is the same with us.  When we become unable to mourn over our sin, we are morally doomed.

What about you?  When you sin, does your conscience trouble you?  Then be glad.  Happy are those who mourn over wrongdoing, for they are truly alive!

Source:  Being Happy in an Unhappy World

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2 Samuel 12:13

February 24

2 Samuel 12:13—Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Forgiveness leads to happiness!

Happy are those who mourn over wrongdoing; for they are being forgiven.

Sin and happiness are never found together.  Consider the lives of King Saul and King David.

Saul was handsome, powerful, the choice of the people.  As long as the adulation of Israel was directed toward him, all was well.

Then came David’s stunning victory over Goliath.  When the army was returning from the field of battle, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet them.  They danced and sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” 1 Samuel 18:7.

Saul was enraged.  He sent David away and then hunted him across the hills of Israel like an angry hound pursuing a fox.  Slowly but surely Saul conquered his conscience.

In all of Scripture, there is not the slightest hint that Saul ever mourned over his sin toward David, or over his defiance of God’s law concerning the witchcraft in which he had participated when he consulted the “witch of Endor.”

He died in bitterness and anguish, utterly bereft of the joy that could have been his as God’s anointed.

Now consider King David.  After many years on the throne, he became addicted to the nectar of power.  When he saw the beautiful Bathsheba, he used his absolute authority to have her brought up to him.  He committed adultery with her and, to cover up his crime, craftily arranged for her husband to be killed.

God sent the prophet Nathan to King David.  He told the king a story of a wealthy man who had stolen and eaten the only sheep of a poor man.  David was enraged.  “As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the man who did this deserves to die!”  Only then did Nathan point his finger at David and intone, “You are the Man!”

At that moment, David’s life before God hung in the balance.  What decision would he make?  Would he mourn for his sin?  Or would he, like Saul, choose to override his conscience and ignore that voice of God?  The Scriptures record his decision:  “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’”

That one simple statement delivered David from spiritual leprosy.  He mourned his son before God with tears.

Being happy in an unhappy world requires mourning over wrongdoing so that we may know the joy of forgiveness. 

Source:  Being Happy in an Unhappy World

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Job 23:10

February 25

Job 23:10—But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
                             
If we endure to the end and run the race that is set before us with patience, our tears will turn to joy and our sorrow into singing!

As a pastor, I know there are times when no words in human speech can remove the pain from the brokenhearted.  Many of those times occur when a tragedy has befallen someone for no apparent reason.

Where is God when it hurts?  Sometimes it seems He is silent just when we need Him the most.  Why do suffering and pain afflict good people?  In my opinion, there are three basic reasons:

1. Poor choices.  I once counseled a young man who came into my office angry with God that he was not “a whole” man because he had lost an arm in an auto accident.  Pressed for details, he admitted he had been the drunken driver in a single car accident involving an encounter with a massive oak tree.  I decided to administer a stiff dose of reality therapy.

“Your arm was cut off because you chose to drive while drunk,” I said, “God didn’t pour the whiskey down your throat or force you into the driver’s seat and down the highway…  You made a series of poor choices, and the consequences are yours to bear.”

Then I went on to share with him how God could help him deal redemptively with those consequences.

People who are suffering are seldom willing to acknowledge their responsibility in the matter.  I have begged young women in my church not to marry the young men they were seeing until their professions of faith manifested some fruit.  I have implored businessmen not to join in contracts with questionable believers.  But in mad pursuit of the chance of a lifetime, they plunge into a romantic or financial abyss that destroys their lives.  I have heard them ask, “Why is God letting this happen to me?”  The answer is, it isn’t God who’s making this happen.  It’s the consequence of your poor choices.

Source:  Being Happy in an Unhappy World

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Job 23:10

February 26

Job 23:10—But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
                             
If we endure to the end and run the race that is set before us with patience, our tears will turn to joy and our sorrow into singing!

As a pastor, I know there are times when no words in human speech can remove the pain from the brokenhearted.  Many of those times occur when a tragedy has befallen someone for no apparent reason.

Where is God when it hurts?  Sometimes it seems He is silent just when we need Him the most.  Why do suffering and pain afflict good people?  In my opinion, there are three basic reasons:

See yesterday’s devotional for reason #1
 
2.  Ignorance.  Knowledge is power.  In July 1881, President Garfield was shot by an assassin.  For two months, his doctors couldn’t agree on the location of the bullet no X-ray in those days.  Garfield’s personal physician, Dr. Bliss, was certain the bullet was in one area.  A specialist, Dr. Weiss, insisted it was in another.
 
The result?  NO operation, and the president died.  When the autopsy later showed that Dr. Weiss had been correct, a Washington newspaper quipped, “Ignorance Is Bliss”.

It makes a cute saying.  But it’s utterly false.  Knowledge is a God given light that can steer us away from the deep ditches of disaster.

Source:  Being Happy in an Unhappy World

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Job 23:10

February 27

Job 23:10—But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
                             
If we endure to the end and run the race that is set before us with patience, our tears will turn to joy and our sorrow into singing!

As a pastor, I know there are times when no words in human speech can remove the pain from the brokenhearted.  Many of those times occur when a tragedy has befallen someone for no apparent reason.

Where is God when it hurts?  Sometimes it seems He is silent just when we need Him the most.  Why do suffering and pain afflict good people?  In my opinion, there are three basic reasons:

See yesterday’s devotional for reason #2

3.  God’s Sovereignty.  Because of the sovereign, long range purposes of God, there are times when things happen over which we have no control and about which we have no knowledge.  We pound on heaven’s gates, asking, “Why is this happening?”  And in response we hear only the deafening sound of eternal silence.

When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, it seemed the darkest day of his life.  He couldn’t possibly have understood at that moment the long range purposes of God in his life, or comprehended how the hand of God was directing every agonizing step.

When our hearts are breaking and our eyes are blinded with tears, it’s hard to see the sovereign hand of God guiding our every step.  We suffer until the purposes of God become apparent to us, which may not happen for many years and may not be at all in this life.

But if we endure to the end and run the race that is set before us with patience, our tears will turn to joy and our sorrow into singing.  We who mourn will be comforted. God guarantees it.

Source:  Being Happy in an Unhappy World

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Jeremiah 27:45

February 28

Jeremiah 27:45 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel…I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me."

“In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior.  The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.  –John Adams, Second President of the United States

John Adams understood that the Holy One of Israel, Jesus Christ, the Maker of heaven and earth and all that dwell therein, is to be honored and recognized as the Hand, which not only created the land we proudly call our home, but also formed it into a nation, and from its inception, up to this very day, sets a President over it, for His divine purposes. 

Today, as we give honor to the Presidents of America, past and present, let us pray a prayer for the Office of the Presidency of the United States of America in the spirit from which it was created, the Holy Spirit of Jehovah, God: 
Father, we thank You for the privilege of living in the greatest of nations, which still emanates Your glory because Your hand remains upon us.  Lord, God, stand guard over the Office of the Presidency and provide supernatural protection and wisdom necessary to navigate among today’s increasingly perplexing domestic and international challenges.  And help our faith in knowing that You are indeed perfecting every detail.  This we ask of the King of glory, in His name, the precious name of Jesus, amen.
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Colossians 3:12

March 1

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

Meek does not mean weak!

Consider Moses, the Old Testament’s champion of meekness. 

The Bible says, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” Numbers 12:3.

He was meek.  But was he weak?  See him slay the Egyptian who is beating his Hebrew brother unjustly.  See him flee to the desert and amass a fortune over forty years.  See him face mighty Pharaoh and demand, “Let my people go!”  See him lead a horde of escaped slaves across a desert wasteland for forty years, to a land flowing with milk and honey.

When God becomes angry with Israel—so much so that He is ready to slay them to the last man—see Moses stand in intercession and say, “If you kill them, Lord, kill me too!”  God changes His mind because of Moses.  That’s meekness.  But it’s anything but weakness.

Moses certainly fulfilled what Paul would later write to the New Testament church regarding model meekness:

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” Ephesians 4:1-2.

Source:  Being Happy in an Unhappy World

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1 Timothy 6:11

March 2

But you, O man of God…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

Paul: A model of Meekness

Paul instructed Timothy to pursue meekness 1 Timothy 6:11.  Timothy was to pursue meekness.  He was not to rest until he had enriched his character with this priceless virtue.

Paul was meek.  But was he weak?  When on the Isle of Malta, he shook a deadly viper from his wrist as men gasped in wonder.  When dragged into court, he glared at his persecutors and said, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” Acts 23:3.  When, in jail, the jailers discovered he was a Roman citizen and tried to release him secretly, Paul said, “Oh, no, you don’t!  You put me in here publicly and you’re going to let me out publicly.  Go get the mayor, the city council and Ted Koppel.  Then let me out!”  He was meek.  But he was anything but weak.

Jesus:  Meek, But Not Weak

Or consider Christ Jesus our Lord, who said, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: Matthew 11:29.

See the Son of God as He invades the temple with a whip of cords, His eyes blazing with righteous indignation, crying, “It is written, ’…My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’” Matthew 21:13.

Hear Him rebuke the Pharisees:  “You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to hell?” Matthew 23:33

Watch as Roman guards slap His face and Mock Him, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Matthew 27:29.  He does not revile them in return, but bears insult with dignity.

Listen to the cat o’ nine tails slash through the air, ripping His back to shreds.  Look to Calvary, where He willingly lets His hands and feet be nailed to the cursed cross.

See Him now, seated at the right hand of God the Father, the ultimate position of power in all the cosmos.  When He returns to the earth, He will rule the nations with a rod of iron.  He is meek.  But He is anything but weak.

Source:  Being Happy in an Unhappy World

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John 1:5

March 3

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Agnostics cannot understand Christ, for the same reason a thief find a policeman—they don’t want to.

There is a better translation of John 1:5, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”  The point is that all the darkness in hell cannot put out the light of Jesus Christ.

When He was born, the light of the star guided the wise men.  When He was dedicated, Simeon prophesied that He would be a light to the Gentiles.  

When He spoke, the light of His word terrified the religious world.   When you really turn on the light of God’s word, the people in your church who will run the quickest are the religious people, not the saved and sanctified.

When He prayed, the devil and his demons trembled in the glow of His presence.  When He rose from the grave there was an explosion of light that knocked the Roman guards to the ground.

When He returns to earth, the entire world shall see Him as lightning shining from east to west.  That’s a wonderful prophecy found in Matthew 24:27, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Do you know how weather forecasters can tell when a thunderstorm is going to end?  When the lightning flashes from the east to the west.  That’s how Jesus will return to the earth, like lightning bolts flashing to indicate the end of the storm.

When He sits on his throne in the New Jerusalem there will be no need for the sun or the moon, “for…the Lamb is the light thereof” Revelation 21:23.

He died in total darkness, but He will rule in the city where the Lamb is the light.  Hell cannot put out the light, and hell cannot put the church out of business.

A television commentator asked me, “Preacher, are you afraid that the church is going into a post-Christian era?”  I replied, “If it is, it’s the church’s fault, because the light of God has never diminished from the moment Jesus was born in Bethlehem’s manger.”

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