Daily Devotions

January: Unchanging Hope for an Ever-changing World

This year in our monthly articles we are considering favorite verses from the Bible.
This month’s favorite Bible verse is: Hebrews 13:8
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
 
As one year ends and another begins, columnists and commentators look back at the previous year. What changed? What stayed the same? Whose passing did we mourn? Whose new arrival did we celebrate?

At the same time, we make predictions about the coming year. What will the new year hold? What will change? What will stay the same?

As fun and exciting as it may be to reminisce about the past and dream about the future, it can also be a little sad and scary. Things will likely never be what they used to be. Loved ones who have passed away don’t come back. Jobs that are lost seldom reappear quickly. Even when broken dreams and broken relationships are repaired, they rarely return to their former glory. Many times our experiences in an ever-changing world are difficult.

Yet we sometimes look at our lives and see a need for change. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions: “I’m going to exercise more and eat less.” “I’m going to save more and spend less.” “I’m going to love more and hate less.” But too often, our good intentions disappear, and only poor excuses remain.

No matter what (or who) changes from one year to the next, there is one who never changes—Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He always exists, from before time, throughout the course of time, and at the end of time for eternity. Jesus loved you before you were born. He loves you today, and he will always love you.

That’s what Christmas is all about. Jesus loved you so much that he wanted you to experience his unchanging love forever. So he came into the world to live up to God’s perfect demands in your place. He took the punishment for your imperfection and gave you the reward for his perfection. That reward is an eternity far away from this world’s sorrows and disappointments—the unchanging peace and joy of a place called heaven.

Jesus—the same yesterday, today, and forever—promises to be with us, love us, care for us, and give perfect peace with God to all who trust in him. Only Jesus offers unchanging hope to an ever-changing world.


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November 2019: I Need More…MONEY

I Need More…MONEY

Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller, “How much money is enough?” “Just a little more,” he answered. At the time, he was one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Those who’ve heard that story and Rockefeller’s answer, usually divide into two groups: they either think of him as a greedy miser (“He has more money than he knows what to do with!”) or an honest pragmatist (“Hey, he’s just telling the truth—even if you’re rich, a little more is always nice.”). Don’t we all occasionally find ourselves thinking, “I need more money?”

There’s nothing wrong with financial security, but how much is enough? If you are pricing a vacation home in Florida and feel frustrated that you don’t have enough to buy a Ferrari too, that’s one thing. If you lost your job and can’t pay the bills, and it’s getting tough to put food on the table, that’s something else.

This is a complicated issue. It’s not easy to properly distinguish between real needs and selfish greed. Do you really need more money? Maybe. Maybe not. When it comes to finances, the best advice comes from Jesus Christ. Our Savior said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

According to Jesus, a lot of folks expend an enormous amount of time and energy in pursuit of earthly treasure and financial security, but for what? In the end—if a bad economy, a poor decision, or unforeseen disaster doesn’t claim it, time certainly will—you can’t take it with you.

That makes heaven the only worthwhile investment. And here’s the great news: Jesus lived, died, and rose again to provide all the heavenly treasure for you. Peace with God—now and forever—that’s what he freely gives.

Put your trust in Jesus. Find in him real treasure and eternal security. What more do you need? Besides, Christians know that the Lord will always provide. We’ve got his Word on that: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Do you really need more money? You don’t need to answer that question. Put your trust in Christ—seek first his kingdom and his righteousness—and let him answer the question for you.


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October 2019: I Need More…FAITH

I Need More…FAITH

“I Need More faith.” I can’t imagine any honest Christian who wouldn’t say a hearty “Amen” to that statement. Because of the common weakness of our sinful, human nature, the fervent request that a greatly distressed father made to Jesus regarding his son’s great need and his own weakness of faith has often struck a chord: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Notice how that statement is punctuated with only a semicolon regarding his faith, but an exclamation point with regard to his unbelief. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of the faith-life of God’s people. We wish our own faith was punctuated with an exclamation mark or at least a simple period. But we know a question mark suggesting uncertainty or doubt gets in the way too often.

Just about every Sunday the worshipers in our churches make a confession of faith with the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. The key truths of the Christian faith are very briefly and yet adequately summarized in those statements. There are no exclamation points in either of those great, ancient creeds—just commas and periods that acknowledge the basic scriptural facts. That’s an important aspect about saving faith: knowing the truth about the true God and the Savior he has given us.

Since this faith is totally a gift, we need to keep going to the Lord with this request, “Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” We keep having a problem with unbelief because it’s such a natural part of us. Faith is a supernatural thing, and it is kept alive and strong only with the supernatural Word of our supernatural God.

The most important thing to remember about faith is that it derives all its strength from its object, that on which it rests. As a famous preacher once said, “It is not your hold on Christ that saves you; it is Christ. It is not your joy in Christ that saves you; it is Christ. It is not even your faith in Christ that saves you, though that be the instrument. It is Christ’s blood and merit.” There might indeed be many instances where our trusting faith is shaky, but the Savior and his promises are rock solid. With this subject of faith, it’s most important to hear him speak with exclamation points, “I love you! I have saved you! I will never let you go!”


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September 2019: I Need More…Knowledge

I Need More…Knowledge

The Church of Scientology teaches that people are basically good, that their capabilities are unlimited, and those capabilities can be realized. People can also achieve new, higher states of awareness and ability. Scientology claims that the secrets to this higher knowledge can only be found in their church through a process they call “auditing.”

Seems strange? But honestly, a cultic religion that encourages you to look within yourself for more knowledge can really satisfy an itch. Who doesn’t feel they need more knowledge? And how about being able to pat yourself on the back for pursuing it and supposedly finding that knowledge within yourself? That’s pretty appealing to the human heart.

But God’s Word sounds much different than L. Ron Hubbard, who authored the book that has become Scientology’s bible. God says people are not basically good, that people’s natural capabilities are limited to sinning and rebelling against God. As a result, God says all people are the same: “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…The way of peace they do not know” (Romans 3:11,17).

God is right! Not L. Ron Hubbard! Need proof? Think about Adam and Eve when they pursued more knowledge on their own apart from God. They rejected God’s Word and sinned. Look at what their own inner pursuit of knowledge got them and us! A world infected by sin so badly that everyone eventually dies.

Jesus knows we all lack knowledge, and he wants to fill that void. He does so not by telling us to find it inside ourselves, but by telling us to look outside ourselves. We find knowledge in the Bible. Through his Word, God makes us wise; he gives us insight and understanding. (See Psalm 119:98-100.) That’s because God’s Word gives us knowledge that we can’t find or discover anywhere else.

The Bible tells about Jesus. It tells how wide, long, high, and deep Jesus’ love is for people. That love drove Jesus to come to this world, bear the sin of every person, die on a cross, and suffer the eternal punishment for all sins. That’s love—love so amazing that God declares that your sins are forgiven because of Jesus. That’s love—love so beyond understanding that Jesus, the righteous one, should die for the unrighteous. But he did! That’s why the apostle Paul says that “this love surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). In Jesus’ love for you, you have everything you truly need to know, both now and forever.


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July 2019: I Need More…SATISFACTION

I Need More…SATISFACTION

“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).

That is what the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes said, and he said it three different times in his book. It sounds simple enough: Somehow find the ability to lean back in your hammock on your day off and say, “What a satisfying life this all is!”

But maybe your expectations for satisfaction in this life are too high. Maybe they are unrealistic. Maybe they are even wrong and pivot around your own self and ego.

The Bible says about God, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). Many believers bow their heads and speak this verse before they eat their food. In prayer at their dinner tables, they acknowledge that God is the source of their satisfaction. They recognize it too when they pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us today our daily bread.”

The apostle Paul told a young pastor, “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:8). Perhaps those who demand more satisfaction from life are not thinking of the simple but sublime satisfaction that is the desire of many hearts. They forget that in their work—whatever it may be—they can glorify God with faithfulness and cheerfulness. Thankfulness that they have the ability to feed themselves and their family. Those are the aspirations of a loving God for our satisfaction.

Satisfaction in our lives does not come because of what we do but because of what God does. He takes care of us…body and soul. He feeds us. He sent Jesus to rescue us from his great dissatisfaction over our sin. He promises to be with us and bless the work of our hands. He says that what we do for him will not be in vain.

Be satisfied—truly satisfied—with that!


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