top of page

Week 8 (5/3/20 - 5/9/20)

Devotional Day 54 - 5/9/20

John 8:48-59

The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.


I cannot help but point out that the people thought that Jesus was demon-possessed. Jesus’ entire ministry was filled with doing good deeds, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, preaching that the poor be cared for, and these people thought he was evil. It was not his actions that they questioned, it was what he was saying that was the problem. Jesus is God, and being God, he knows all things. So when he would speak with the people, he did so with great authority and understanding. Yet a lot of what he said we beyond the understanding of the people. So they thought that he was crazy. For instance, Jesus was in his early 30s and yet he told the people that he existed before Abraham was even born, which was hundreds of years before their conversation even took place. 


Jesus was not shy about sharing what his job was and what the people needed to do. “I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” Jesus’ whole purpose on this earth was to point to God. Everything he did, he did in order to show people who God truly is. Jesus should have been worshiped for who he is, but every time people got close to figuring out who he was, he told them to worship God. Jesus was, and is, the bridge that connects humanity with the Heavenly Father. 


Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, is the foundation of the Christian faith. We cannot deny who he is and that he came to save all people. Sadly, not everyone believes that. The people in today’s scripture did not recognize who he is, and they tried to stone him. Time and time again, Jesus was ridiculed, threatened, and kicked out of where he was ministering. He did nothing wrong, he helped and healed, yet people thought he was causing problems. They thought that what he said was blasphemous, or they took offense to how he told them they were in sin. And so they would not follow him or believe in him. We still have that problem today. People can see God at work in us, they can see him being active in this world, but they still choose not to believe. We cannot change their minds for them, all we can do is work at showing them God’s love, regardless if they accept it or not. Jesus never condemned those that picked up stones to throw at him. He simply hid himself and moved on. We too should simply do what we can to help people see the love of God, and if they do not believe that is their decision. We cannot pick fights to make them believe, we cannot be violent and angry, regardless of how they may treat us. We should simply do what we can to show them God in all that we do, and love them all the same.


Let us pray: Eternal God, who are who you are, and we love you. Regardless of what others may say about you, you still are God. We come to you for strength and protection as we live for you. Deliver us from any problems that we may face, so that we can continue to show your love to this world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Song: Everlasting God - Lincoln Brewster

Devotional Day 53 - 5/8/20

Exodus 3:1-12

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”


I love this story. It is my favorite story of God’s calling in the Old Testament. Moses was such a misfit, just like many other famous characters in the Bible. Soon after he was born, his mother placed him in a basket in the river so that the Egyptians would not kill him. He was found and adopted by the daughter of the Pharaoh, who then asked Moses’ mother to care for him. Trained in the royal courts, Moses was well educated and prepared for royal service. But then something happened that changed Moses life (again). Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. He thought he got away with it. He thought no one saw him, but the next day, his people started to turn against him. And so he ran. He fled the country and went to Midian where he found a wife and became a shepherd. It is while he was tending the sheep of his father-in-law that he saw this miraculous sight of a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. 


God was calling Moses to help rescue the people of Israel from their Egyptian oppressors. God had prepared Moses to go before the Pharaoh. He had been trained in the way of the royal courts even though he was born as an Israelite. He was the prime candidate to speak to the Pharaoh on behalf of his people. But he was wanted for murder, so Moses thought that would be an issue. In fact, Moses actually refused God’s calling at first. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Later in the story he questions God. Who should I say is sending me? What if they do not believe me? He even goes as far to make up the excuse that he was not very good at public speaking. But God answered all of his questions, equipped him for the task ahead, and even sent Moses’ cousin with him to speak on his behalf. God was not going to take “no” for an answer.


I’m sure Moses never pictured himself living in a foreign land tending sheep. It was a far cry from the palace where he grew up. And then again, I’m sure at that point in his life he never thought he would be back in his homeland, especially after committing a crime against the people in power. I’m sure he was frightened and I’m sure he felt unworthy. Yet God used him anyway.


God called to Moses, bringing him close, bringing him to holy ground. It was here that Moses was commissioned to lead the people out of slavery and to the promised land. Moses was an instrumental figure in the history of the Jewish people. He was their guide, he was their protector, he was their judge, and he was the vessel that God used to deliver his law to the people. But none of that would have happened if Moses had not been curious about what God was doing in that bush. If he did not investigate, if had walked away, would any of that have taken place? God used Moses for amazing things, even though Moses thought that he was not right for the job. But he was open to let God use him, even though it took some prodding. How is God calling you today? Where is he calling you to go? What is he calling you to do? I pray that you hear the word of God, that you listen to his voice, and that you go where he is sending you and do what he has already equipped you to do.


Let us pray: God of the burning bush, speak to us. Create in us a holy place where we can meet with you. Help us to see your love in our lives. Help us to hear your voice and follow the directions you have for us. Bless us and keep us safe in all that we do. Amen.


Song: Word of God Speak - Mercy Me

Devotional Day 52 - 5/7/20

Acts 6:8-15

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”

So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.


Has anyone ever questioned you about your faith? This is not a new dilemma. The early church faced intense criticism. Many outside of the Jewish faith saw Christianity as an off shoot of Judaism, but those within the Jewish faith saw Christianity as blasphemy. The Jewish people felt that Christians were trying to change their entire way of life. How would you feel if you believed something all of your life, and then someone told you that you were wrong. We probably wouldn’t stand for it, and would probably fight back, trying to correct the false accusations. So at this time in history, this region was pretty much a powder keg. Everyone was under the thumb of Roman rule, creating a political nightmare of trying to follow your own way of life within the boundaries of the rules and regulations of the Caesar. The Jewish leaders were corrupt and had fallen away from what God had wanted, which in turn led the people down the wrong path. And now Christianity was proposing another way of living in the light of God’s love. Things were chaotic, full of emotion, with fights ready to erupt at the drop of a hat. 


Today’s scripture shows us part of the story regarding Stephen. Spoiler alert, he was the first martyr for the Christian faith. He spoke out about his faith, and confronted every argument with poise and wisdom. In fact, the scripture tells us that no argument could stand up against him because of the wisdom that the Spirit had given him. And rightfully so. If you think about the Jewish faith, Christianity was technically a continuation of the faith. The Jews were looking for the Messiah, and Christianity is the fulfillment of that coming Messiah. Since no one could find fault with Stephen’s wisdom and understanding, they started to make up things to try to bring him down. They brought up false charges against him, claiming that he said some pretty nasty things about the Temple and the religious leaders. (Sound familiar?) Honestly, Stephen could have said some things that they did not like, because they were not doing what God had wanted them to do, and he told them about it. But even with the false charges, Stephen’s faith never wavered.


Our faith should be important to us. It should guide our lives, instructing us in how we should live and act. But it should also give us a foundation on which to stand. When people question us, our faith should be strong enough to withstand those questions, and help us to respond in kind. And when our faith is solid, it gives us strength and confidence, and it helps us remove any fear caused by what we may be facing. Stephen faced a huge amount of opposition. They were focused on making an example of him for standing up for the Christian faith, and I’m sure that it was a terrifying situation. But even in the midst of that turmoil, Stephen never wavered. 


I pray that I will never have to faced what Stephen faced. But I pray that if I do, I will have the confidence in my faith to stand up like he did. That type of faith requires work. It requires studying the scriptures, spending time in prayer, researching different views on the faith from respected theologians, and it involves spending time in self-reflection and soul searching. Our faith should be so important to us, that all of these things are common place and routine in our lives. May we always be grounded in our God and grounded in our faith. 


Let us pray: God who protects, help us to be like Stephen. Help us to stand up for our faith, even as the world tries to stop us. May you calm our fears, and heal our hearts so that we can live for you in all things and in all ways. Amen.


Song: Stand in Your Love - Josh Baldwin

Devotional Day 51 - 5/6/20

Jeremiah 1:4-10

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

    before you were born I set you apart;

    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”


We often struggle to make a name for ourselves. We try to leave our mark on this world, to be known for something great and wonderful. But too often our actions seem to go unnoticed. We may get overlooked for a promotion, we may seem forgotten while those around us receive special invitations, or the tasks we do are not acknowledged or appreciated. We may feel that our voices are not heard or what we do does not matter. It is no wonder that so many people in this world struggle with depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of worthlessness. So then, when we are faced with a task, or asked to do something, our normal response is that it is beyond our expertise, or we do not have the appropriate skill set to get it done. 


This is the same problem Jeremiah had. God wanted to use Jeremiah to take his message to the people of Israel. Honestly, I would be petrified if I were in Jeremiah’s shoes. God was telling him to tell the nation of Israel that they were doing things wrong. Jeremiah would be confronting the king, the leaders, people in power, and the nation as a whole. Jeremiah was supposed to tell them that God was not happy with how the people were living and that he was going to punish them. It was not going to be easy for Jeremiah, and a lot of people would undoubtedly be upset with him. As if the task wasn’t monumental enough, Jeremiah felt especially under-qualified because of his age. In that culture (and even in ours today) people often associated how wise and qualified a person was based on their age. If you were young, you were probably seen as not being very knowledgable because you haven’t experienced as much as someone else. This is what Jeremiah points out to God. “Alas, Sovereign Lord…I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”


I think Jeremiah’s response to God’s call is a bit humorous. God had already spelled out his rationale for calling Jeremiah to this important task. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” It is wonderful to see that God made his plans for Jeremiah and us before we were even born. In Jeremiah’s case, he specifically set him aside for this task. God knew he was going to use Jeremiah to be his prophet, and there is no doubt in my mind that God equipped him and trained him throughout his entire life to get him to that point. So how could Jeremiah question God, when God just got done telling him that the job was his before he could even open his eyes?


I am a firm believer that everything in our lives can help us learn and grow. There are things that have happened in my life that I did not like. And like many people, I have often wondered, “why me?” But looking back over my life, I see that the things that I have faced have helped me and equipped me for where I am right now. Each path that my life has seemed to have taken has taught me something new and given me a new skill to utilize in my role as a husband, father, and pastor. Sure, I would have liked things to be a little easier. Sure, some of the choices that I made probably could have been made differently (and better), but I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am if things did not happen the way that they did. I could go through a long list of major life choices that I made that at the time I wish I had made in a different way, but I can also tell you how those choices made me grow. If those things did not happen the way that they did, I am sure that my life would be completely different, and I doubt that I would have ever gotten the call into pastoral ministry. 


God knows who we are. He knows every aspect of our lives. He knows everything about us. After all, he created us. So when he asks us to do something, he knows we can handle it. We may need some of his help, but he never said we needed to do anything alone. He is with us, he has equipped us, and he has some amazing things in store for us. Jeremiah questioned God’s call, but he didn’t stop there. He trusted God to work in him and through him to accomplish the task at hand. We need to trust God in the same way. We need to believe him when he tells us that we are special, that we are set apart for a special task. Don’t shut God out when he calls to you. Open up and allow him to give you the job he had in store for you before you were even born. He will help you do what he asks. All we need to do is call out to him and he will be there beside us. 


Let us pray: God, you created us for a purpose. You know everything about us and have equipped us to carry out your plans. Guide us and help us to see you at work all around us. Give us the courage and strength to do as you want us to do, even if that means standing up for what is right, even against all odds. We love you. Amen.


Song: He Knows My Name - Maranatha Singers

Devotional Day 50 - 5/5/20

Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Back when I first received my call into pastoral ministry, I went through a period of time where I questioned if it was something I was going to be able to do. I knew that if I was going to be a pastor, that I needed to go back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree. On the day that I needed to make the decision to register for classes or not, I was talking with God while I was at work. I told God that I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do the extra school work on top of my full-time job and I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it all. While I was having this internal discussion, one of my fellow co-workers came in telling us that there was something we needed to see. On the top layer of one of the packages that came in from a customer, God answered my fears. There was a $20 bill with a sticky note that said, “God loves you very much. Philippians 4:13.” I was questioning if I could do it, and he told me “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I questioned if I could afford it, and he sent me $20. And to top it off, he told me “I love you.” Now I know that that message may not have been specifically to me, but God was making sure that I knew that he was responding. 


We often question if we can handle the things in our lives. The scripture from Hebrews tells us that God will equip us for doing his will, for doing the work that he has in store for us. Yes, this is formal farewell to the end of this book of the Bible, but the words that the author uses are purposeful and convey an important message. God brought Jesus back from the dead. That was an amazing event that defies everything that this world tries to explain and understand. If God can do such an amazing thing, don’t you think he is more than capable and willing to equip us to accomplish the tasks that he has set aside for us to complete? It pleases God when we are successful, especially when it is something that he planned for us to do. So he will give us the tools needed to make it happen. He’s not going to leave us high and dry. He is not going to leave us without the ability to get the work done. He’s not going to leave us, period. 


I am sure that it is a difficult time for all of us. We often lose sight of what is important. We get stuck, we get frustrated, and we struggle to see God at work. But now is also the time for us to put our trust and faith in God to do what he told us that he would do. He will equip us and he will strengthen us to do all the amazing things that he has in store for us. Let’s look to him for guidance, and see where he is leading us.


Let us pray: Dear Lord, grant us your strength and courage to reach out into this world to work for you. Help us to see that you are always with us, and will provide for us in all ways, even if that means simply providing the skills necessary to get the work done. Speak to our souls and give us peace in all ways and in all things. Amen.


Song: Oh My Soul - Equip Church International

Devotional Day 49 - 5/4/20

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

    Worship the Lord with gladness;

    come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

    It is he who made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

    and his courts with praise;

    give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

    his faithfulness continues through all generations.


Sometimes it is good just to take a minute and praise God. He is good. He has done amazing things. He created us as special creations, able to love him and worship him. We are God’s people, chosen to live for him and to follow him. Do we praise him enough for what he has done for us? Do we take enough time to be in worship? Do we we say thank you enough?


The psalmist tells us to enter into his gates with thanksgiving, to enter his courts with praise. It is a purposeful decision on our part to come into God’s presence to praise him and give him thanks. We cannot just sit back and wait until we get around to doing it, we need to actively praise God for everything. God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good. He loves us, and his love never ends. He blesses us and blesses us, and those blessing flow down to the generations that come after us. He has sustained this world for thousands of years and will continue to do so long after we are gone. How can we not be in awe of all that he has done?


Today, I would like you to specifically spend time in praise of God. Maybe go for a walk and take in all of the beauty that is around you. Maybe sit and listen to praise and worship music (like the one with this devotional). Maybe just sit in quiet and be in prayerful meditation. Enjoy what God has done for you. Take in the awesomeness of the blessings that he has provided for you. And don’t forget to say thank you.


Let us praise (pray): God of all things, you are good. You are holy and set apart, perfect in every way. You have done amazing things and we thank you. May our lives bring your glory and may all that we do be a form of praise and thanksgiving for what you have done for us. We love you. Amen.


Song: Shout to the North and the South - Delirious?

Devotional Day 48 - 5/3/20

Isaiah 55:1-7

“Come, all you who are thirsty,

    come to the waters;

and you who have no money,

    come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

    without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,

    and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

    and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Give ear and come to me;

    listen, that you may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,

    my faithful love promised to David.

See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,

    a ruler and commander of the peoples.

Surely you will summon nations you know not,

    and nations you do not know will come running to you,

because of the Lord your God,

    the Holy One of Israel,

    for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found;

    call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways

    and the unrighteous their thoughts.

Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,

    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.


Our bodies have a remarkable safety feature when it comes to dealing with threatening situations. We call it the flight or fight mechanism. When we face a dangerous situation, something that is immediate and frightening, our bodies are flooded with hormones and adrenaline and our bodies prepare to react. We then are faced with a decision, do we run, or do we stay and confront whatever it is we are facing. This response is something that has been engrained in us to protect us and help us survive.


But what happens when the situation that we face is not as immediate as something that would trigger that response? What happens when the things that we face are constant struggles in our lives? We get run down and things start to wear on us. We do not know where our next meal will come from or how we will make ends meet. We struggle and struggle, fighting for each inch that we get. We can’t run because those problems would only continue to follow us, making it harder with each mile that we travel in the opposite direction. 


It is one thing to run FROM something, it is something completely different to run TO something. Our scripture today from Isaiah 55 tells us to run to something; run to God. God tells us, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” We cannot run from our problems, because that will only make things worse. But when we run to God, we take our problems to him. He provides for us in our need. He feeds us when we are hungry. He gives us drink when we are thirsty. And he satisfies us.


God is bigger than our problems, and when we come to him, he helps us in so many ways. He gives us rest, he brings us comfort, and he meets our needs. We do not need to bring anything to him for payment, just ourselves and our love for him. And he will show us mercy and bless us in many ways.


Let us pray: God, you are great. You are awesome, you are wonderful. You love us and you care for us. Help us to see your provision in our lives. Remind us again and again to come to you for all things, and may we cast our burdens and cares upon you. Amen.


Song: Come to the Water - John B. Foley

bottom of page