The Journey with Ron Moore
Devotion Text
 

Revelation 22:1-4

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life….No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face….

Over the past years, I have had the opportunity to travel and minister in many places throughout the world. The sights, sounds, and smells are different. The language is strange to me. I have been schooled on what to eat and what not to eat. I am told by my hosts that there are things I should always do and things I should never do. When I am in a different country, I stand out as a foreigner in a foreign land. And while I love to travel, the best part of every trip is the moment I hear the tires touching down on the runway at Pittsburgh International Airport. And the absolute favorite part of every trip is when I am reunited with my family back at home.

Christians are citizens of heaven. Our life is simply a journey as foreigners in a foreign land. The sights, sounds, and smells of the world are not the things our hearts beat for. The language around us is strange at times. The customs are often in opposition to God’s Word. Disease strips away strength. Death brings unimaginable pain. Divorce leaves shattered souls with broken hearts. We know that this is not the way it’s supposed to be. We yearn for something different. We yearn for home.

When Christ comes again or when we make that last journey from death to life, we will finally be home. When we arrive, we “will see his face.” We will be with God and He will wipe every tear from our eyes. Death will be a thing of the past. Mourning will be no more. Crying will not be a part of our resurrected emotions. And pain will never be experienced again. Life in the “old country” will be over. We will be home, at last, in the indescribable place that Jesus has prepared just for us.

Father, thank You for the certain hope and reality of heaven. I look forward to the day when You welcome me home and wipe every tear from my eyes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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King Hezekiah

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 21:6

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

It all begins and ends with Jesus. He is the eternal God. He was with the Father at Creation, but not as a passive bystander. Jesus was the Agent of Creation. “Through him, all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). Paul adds, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).

It all begins and ends with Jesus. He left heaven itself to enter the human race.  As the poet George Herbert put it, “The God of power, as he did ride in his majestic robes of glory resolved to light; and so one day He did descend, undressing all the way.” Jesus removed His majestic robes and entered the lake of humanity as a helpless baby dependent on His young mother.

It all begins and ends with Jesus. Our Lord was first introduced as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. Jesus came to give His life a ransom for many. He came to pay sin’s penalty on our behalf. He died so that we may live. He rose again so that we will follow Him from death to eternal life. And all this is by grace. Sin has left our soul thirsty. But Jesus offers “water without cost.” Your thirsty soul can finally and forever be satisfied by Jesus.

Lord Jesus, You are the Alpha and Omega. Everything begins and ends with You. Thank You for leaving heaven to die on the cross for our sins. Someone reading this today comes with a dry and thirsty soul. I pray that person will come to You for living water. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

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King Uzziah

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 21:5

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

God is a God of fresh starts.

  • In the beginning, He spoke a new world into existence.
  • He gave Adam and Eve everything they needed and could ever want.
  • After their sin, He personally provided skins from animals giving them a fresh start.
  • The sacrificial system would provide for a fresh start: the cleansing and forgiveness for the Old Testament worshiper year after year.
  • At the right time, the one-time-for-all-time Perfect Sacrifice made a fresh start possible for all by His death, burial, and resurrection.
  • In Christ, we have a new life by His initial forgiveness and the fresh start of ongoing forgiveness as we confess our sins to Him.
  • By His resurrection, Jesus gives us a fresh start as we pass from death to life.
  • And one day, He will make “everything new!”

This year is winding down. But with Jesus, every day is a day of fresh starts. Whatever this past year has held, remember, our hope is in God…the God of fresh starts.

Father, thank You for being a God who allows us clean, fresh starts. Thank You for the newness You provide in this life and for eternity! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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King Jehoshaphat

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 19:11-16

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

It started with the manger—Jesus a helpless baby. It moved to the cross—Jesus a sacrificial Lamb. But on that final day, He will come to judge with justice.

John saw heaven open with power. The One called Faithful and True; the One called the Word of God; the One dressed in a robe dipped in blood was riding a white horse. His eyes were ablaze! And many crowns adorned His head. The armies of heaven followed His lead and He came to make final restitution. Just in case His identity is unclear, written on his flowing robe is the name: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

No longer contained in the body of a baby; no longer nailed to a cross; on that day He will come with the “fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” All who follow Him know His power and love. But that day when He comes riding the white horse…that day when He comes with His eyes ablaze…that day when He comes with a sharp sword…that day…you’ll be glad you’re on His side!

Lord Jesus, thank You that there is no judgment or condemnation for those who know You. Thank You for Your work on the cross that covers us on the day of Your judgment. In Your name, we pray. Amen.

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King David

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 15:3b-4

Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.

As another year winds down, let’s take the time to reflect on the past months. For some, this past year has been your greatest yet. You are praising God for His many blessings. Some of you can sum up this past year in one word, “stalled.” You honestly conclude that other than being a year older, there wasn’t much change in your spiritual journey. For some of you, much has happened but not all good. You would use words like “devastated,” “rejected,” “pain” and “sorrow” to explain the emotions of this past year.

Today’s passage is “the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb.” The title reminds us that the song is for us. Like Moses, we experience great miracles and trying desert experiences, great highs, and devastating lows. But it also reminds us that this is a song about the Lamb. Regardless of where we are on our spiritual journey, the Lamb is right there with us. He never abandons us. He never disowns us.

Here is what I would ask you to do. Pray today’s passage to God. Through your joy or through your tears, proclaim that His deeds are “great and marvelous.” Regardless of your circumstances, tell Him that His ways are “just and true.” Bow before Him in a posture of worship and say, “Father, You alone are holy.” He is the “King of the nations.” Acknowledge Him as your King. And remember, our King invites us to call Him Father, even Daddy. He is the omnipotent Creator who comes to meet us right where we are. I pray that you take the time to meet with Him. I know He will meet with you.

Dear God, You are the Lord God Almighty! And You are my Father. Today I acknowledge You as my King, and I readily admit that I need to feel the warmth of Your presence. Thank You for meeting with me wherever I am and whatever I’m going through. Keep me close to You as this year winds down and another begins. I desire to walk close to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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How You Live is What You Leave

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 13:1

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.

Revelation 13 describes the Antichrist, the person that will rise up to oppose Christ and His followers in the last days. While we do not know who this person will be or when he will appear on the world scene, John describes three characteristics of this great enemy.

It will be a powerful political leader.

In Scripture, the sea often represents the Gentile nations.  Many believe the Antichrist will be a leader of a European country that will form a confederacy of ten nations and bring a time of peace to the Middle East (See Revelation 17). John describes the beast as a “leopard,” which was a symbol of the powerful Greek empire under Alexander the Great.

It will be a “Christlike” figure.

The Antichrist will imitate the death and resurrection of Jesus. John writes that it “seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed” (Revelation 13:3; see also 13:12,14).

It will accept and expect worship.

The Antichrist will utter “proud words and blasphemies” that denigrate and defame the living God. While it tries to tear God down, it will build itself up. People will bow before the Antichrist and worship.

Throughout history, many have thought a particular leader was the Antichrist. And one day it will arrive on the scene. But all those who know Christ do not have to worry. We do not have to become anxious about the events of the last days. Regardless of when and how history winds down, we belong to Jesus. And this we know for sure: Jesus wins!

Father, may we place the future in Your hands. We know that when You are for us, nothing can stand against us. We live in confidence knowing that we belong to You.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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How You Live is What You Leave

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 7:17

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.

The Revelation describes what heaven will be like and the beauty that will surround us. But I know one thing that won’t be there— tears. The Lamb will wipe every tear from our eyes. In heaven, there will be no reason to cry.

There will be no more death.

In heaven, there will be no more disease. No more wars. No more catastrophes. No more abuse. No more murders. No more poverty. Everything that summons our last breath will cease to exist. The last enemy will be finally and forever defeated.

There will be no more mourning.

In heaven, there will be no more calls in the middle of the night to announce a tragedy. No more moms and dads gathered around their dying child. No more children walking away from their parent’s grave. No more goodbyes. No more waves of grief washing over an exhausted soul.

There will be no more crying or pain.

In heaven, there will be no need for crying. The tearful emotion brought about by pain will be a thing of the past. No one will ever hurt you again. You will be protected in the presence of God who has destroyed the author of evil.

Hold on! One day there will be no reason for your tears!

Lord Jesus, thank You for being the Lamb, dying on my behalf. Thank You for being my Shepherd, leading me to springs of living water. Thank You for the promise of no more tears, and for a place specifically prepared to enjoy You forever.  In Your name. Amen.

 

Merry Christmas! Have a great celebration of our Savior’s birth!

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The King’s Presence

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 4:1

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”

In Revelation 4, as John begins to describe heaven, notice the first thing he sees. John said, “…before me was a door standing open….” Remember, in the first book of the Bible, sin closed the door to God’s presence. But God loved us so much that He sent His Son to open the door wide. By Christ’s work on the cross, we have open access to the eternal God.

The picture of heaven’s door standing open vividly describes God’s great grace. We don’t have to wait in line. We don’t have to learn a secret knock. We don’t have to spend our time searching for the key. Heaven’s door stands open and we are invited to the celebration. We are summoned to come and enjoy heaven forever. The Father desires that we know Him and enjoy His presence.

The door of heaven is open for all who trust in Jesus Christ. When we trust in Jesus as the only way to have a relationship with the living God, we enter into a new life that brings intimate fellowship with our Savior during this life. Then…we get to enjoy Him forever in heaven. Would you like to have this new life in Christ? The following prayer is for you.

Dear Father, I know that I am far from You. I know my sin has separated me from Your presence. I know there is nothing I can do to earn my way to You. So right now I am trusting in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. I believe He died for my sins. I trust in Him alone as the One who paid sin’s penalty for me. I desire to enter into the new life that Jesus provides. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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The King’s Invitation

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 1:5b-6

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Yesterday we considered who Jesus is. In today’s passage, the writer declares what Jesus does on our behalf.

Jesus loves us.

Christ loved us all the way to the cross. But His love didn’t stop there. The word agape is in the present tense, meaning that it keeps on happening. His love for the believer is a permanent abiding fact. Think about it! The “ruler of the kings of the earth” loves us.

Jesus freed us from our sins by His blood.

Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. On the cross, He paid the penalty of our sins. By His blood, He set us free. The work of Jesus is complete. We can add nothing to what Christ has done.

Jesus made us to be a kingdom and priests.

“Kingdom” refers to the body of Christ made up of believers spread throughout the world. He also made us to be individual priests. The priest in the Old Testament was the only one who had direct access to God. But Jesus changed all that. Now every believer has direct access to the eternal God and freedom to enjoy fellowship with Him.

These truths about Jesus’ work on our behalf leads John and us to a proclamation of praise: To him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.

Father, may I bring glory to You through every aspect of my life. May Your power be demonstrated in my life as I share the Good News. All glory and power belong to You forever! In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

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The King’s Humility

Devotion Text
 

Revelation 1:4-5a

…Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

The Revelation (“unveiling” or “disclosure”) explains how things on earth are going to end, and how things in the new heaven are going to begin. But more important than the “how” is the “Who.” This is the revelation of Jesus Christ. He will guide all things to their appropriate ending and then establish the new heavens and earth. Notice how the writer, John, describes our Lord.

Jesus is the faithful witness.

If you want to know what God looks like, then take a close look at Jesus. No one has ever seen God, but Jesus “has made him known” (John 1:18). Jesus is the One who testifies on the Father’s behalf. The Greek word translated “witness” is “martus.” We get the word “martyr” from it. For Christians who have or are going through persecution, Jesus is the model of how to stand firm and never compromise the truth even in the face of death.

Jesus is the firstborn from the dead.

Christ died for our sins according to Scripture. He was buried. On the third day, He rose again, according to Scripture. That’s good news! And it gets even better. All who have trusted in Christ will pass from death to life.

Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the world.

Human history tells the stories of empires that rise and fall. Nations clash in war and one is named the victor (not always the noblest nation). “But behind the chaotic events of history, the believer recognizes that Jesus Christ, who chose the way of obedience and humiliation, has in fact been exalted to God’s right hand where he sits as Lord, ruling over the rulers of the earth. His second coming, from one point of view, is to be understood as making manifest to the world the sovereignty which is already his” (George Ladd, Revelation, 25).

Lord Jesus, many events are going on in the world that seems out of control. There are times when I am fearful and afraid of the way things are turning. But today I am reminded in Your Word that You are in complete control. You are the ruler of the kings of the world. My trust and confidence are in You alone. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

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The King’s Message

Devotion Text
 

Jude 1:22

Be merciful to those who doubt….

Is doubting a sin? Is wavering a sign of weakness? Does spiritual confusion call into question one’s spiritual commitment? Do we write off a person who has questions?  Is there room for doubters in the church? Is the church a safe place to ask questions?

Thomas followed Jesus for three years. He heard His sermons, watched His miracles, and walked beside Him on dusty roads. He heard Jesus predict His death and promise His resurrection. But Thomas had a hard time getting over the cross. Even when the other disciples said that Jesus was alive, Thomas stuck by his skeptical guns. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thomas lived with his doubt until Jesus appeared to the disciples a week later. Jesus sought out the doubter and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Instead of scolding him for his doubt, Jesus mercifully showed him the truth.

Be merciful to those who doubt. That’s the instruction of Jude and the example of Jesus. Find the doubters. Seek out those wavering. Discover those who are confused. Show them the truth with the same mercy Jesus showed to you.

Father, may I be a strong, passionate, vibrant follower of Jesus—tempered with mercy. Put doubters in my path. Help me mercifully point them to the truth. Give me patience with their questions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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The King’s Arrival

Devotion Text
 

3 John 1:1-4

The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

In John’s second letter, he addressed the problem of people showing hospitality to those they shouldn’t. In this, his third letter, the problem was with people not showing hospitality to those they should. Diotrephes, the church’s dictatorial leader, was excommunicating those that housed John’s messengers. But John had a friend named Gaius who was faithful to the truth, even in the face of persecution. Gaius walked in the truth.

“Walking in the truth”…what a great description of a true believer! Here the word “walking” is a metaphor for “living.” Gaius was a man of integrity. When he spoke, his words were accurate. He neither exaggerated the facts nor conveniently left out important information. In business, his actions were honest. He did not cut corners or promise things that could never be delivered. At home he was genuine. His character didn’t change when he walked in the door. He was a faithful and loving husband.

“Walking in the truth”…what a great description of a true believer! Does it describe you? Are you walking in the truth? It gives God no greater joy than to see that His children are walking in the truth.

Father, may I be one who lives according to Your word, not according to the world. May I be faithful to the truth in every area of my life. May I walk in the truth. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

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Enter the King

Devotion Text
 

2 John 1:4-6

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.  And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, knew the value of fundamentals. In preparing to play a game against the then lowly Chicago Bears, he preached all week—the basics, men, remember the basics. Don’t forget! They forgot. The mighty Packers were taken down by the Bears. When the team arrived back in Green Bay, Lombardi ordered the team to get dressed and meet him on the practice field. Without question, the men got ready and waited on the field for Lombardi. Finally, he appeared and stood in front of them. He reminded them that they had forgotten the fundamentals and they were going to start from the beginning. Standing before the professional players he held up a ball and said, “Men, this is a football!”

Sometimes we forget the basics of the Christian faith. Enamored by new messages and methods we forget the foundational truths upon which our faith stands. When we ignore, change, or alter the foundational truths in any way, our faith falls. 2 John is a call back to the fundamentals. John reminds us to go back to the basics.

First, John calls the believers to live “in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” John reminds the readers this is not some new teaching, but a command “we have had from the beginning.” Second, foundational to the Christian faith is this: “Love one another.” We are to love each other just as Christ loved us. Third, we are to “walk in obedience.” Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Truth. Love. Obedience. Foundational stuff…that we often forget.

Father, may we never forget the basics. May we be discerning enough to see beyond the book cover, the fancy website, the cool marketing schemes, the new can’t-miss programs. Make sure everything we do is anchored in bedrock fundamentals. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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Enter the King

Devotion Text
 

1 John 5:11-12

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

In my office at church, bookshelves—from floor to ceiling—line one entire wall. Another large floor-to-ceiling case takes up space on an adjacent wall. Many more books are in my office at home, not to mention all the theological information stored digitally on my Bible study software. More information is only one Google search away. I can access a virtual ocean of information about God. But all of the content in the volumes on my bookshelves and stored on my computer can be summed up in today’s passage!

Dr. Karl Barth was a brilliant, if not sometimes controversial, theologian. Among his writings is a twelve-volume work on life and doctrine. A reporter once asked Dr. Barth if he could summarize the message of the Bible. Dr. Barth thought for a moment and then said, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

We are sinners and our sin separates us from God. The penalty for our sin is death. But driven by perfect love, the just God became the Justifier. Being fully God, Jesus was the only One who could provide a sinless sacrifice. Being fully man, Jesus was the only One who could die on our behalf. Life—now and forever—is found in Jesus alone.

Father, thank You for keeping the questions of life and eternity simple. Confirm in our hearts that we have Jesus. Give us the courage to tell others. And help us keep the message clear with our lips and lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Preparing Our Hearts

Devotion Text
 

2 Peter 1:5-9

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Recently, I officiated a memorial service for Lois, a believer who lived her days following hard after Christ. One word that described her entire life was “service.”  Not long before this dear saint’s passing, her daughter-in-law took several of Lois’ great-grandchildren to visit her in a care facility. They became worried when she was not in her room and began searching for her. Finally, they found Lois at the end of a hall sitting in her wheelchair, reading to a person who was unable to see.

In today’s passage, the Apostle listed several qualities the believer needs to possess. The qualities of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love should be added to our faith. Then he reminds us that these qualities need to be used and developed so that we will be effective and productive believers. When we do not develop these qualities, Peter says we are “nearsighted and blind” and we live as if we have forgotten that God has “cleansed [us] from [our] past sins.”

I was so encouraged to hear Lois’ family describe her life. She was effective and productive. She encountered many challenges in life and used them to become stronger. She didn’t use the aging process as an excuse. She used what she had to demonstrate love and kindness to others. She didn’t waste a day of her 85 years. May Lois serve as an example for us all.

Father, until You call us home, may we use every day to develop the qualities that make us productive and effective servants. Help us not waste a minute of our days on this earth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Preparing His Son

Devotion Text
 

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

It was a particularly hot day in Dallas, and I was driving around the city looking for an apartment. Having just graduated from seminary, Lori and I needed to move from the place we had rented for four years. I had resumes scattered throughout the country, but was getting no response; or rather, I was getting a response—“No.” We thought we would be looking for a place to live and minister in another part of the country. But, for the time being, we were staying in Dallas. It was a discouraging stretch of my journey.

These were the days before God blessed us with children, but for some reason, there was a Psalty the Songbook cassette in our car, left after a visit from Lori’s sisters or my nieces. The Psalty series was a children’s Christian “musical.” I inserted the tape and heard Psalty sing, “I cast all my cares upon you. I lay all of my burdens down at your feet. And anytime I don’t know what to do; I will cast all my cares upon you.” With tears in my eyes, I played that song, based on today’s passage, over and over again. I had just finished four years of Greek, Hebrew, Bible, and Theology courses, but it was a child’s song that delivered a needed promise of Scripture right to my heart.

I will never forget that day. God cared enough for me to orchestrate a tape left behind in order to tenderly remind me that I could throw all of my frustration, fear, and anxiety on Him. So, if you are on a discouraging stretch of the journey, you have to know what I was reminded of that day—God really does care for you…He really does.

Father, thank You for reminding me of Your care that hot day in Dallas. Remind those reading this passage of Your care for them as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Preparing His People

Devotion Text
 

1 Peter 4:19

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

One by one they died. James, the brother of John, was beheaded. Thomas was killed in India. Simon was crucified in Egypt. Mark, the first Bishop of Alexandria was burned and buried in Egypt as well. Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, and beheaded. Andrew, Peter’s brother, was crucified in Rome. Matthew was killed with a spear. Phillip was stoned then hung on a cross. James, the brother of Jesus, was beaten to death after being thrown from the temple didn’t kill him.

Two years after writing his first letter, Peter was put to death in Rome. The records of the early church indicate that he was crucified. Eusebius—the “father of Church history,” cites the testimony of an eyewitness named Clement who said that before Peter was crucified, he was forced to watch the crucifixion of his own wife. As he watched her being led to death, Peter called his wife’s name and said, “Remember the Lord.” When it was his turn, he pleaded to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. So he was nailed to the cross head-downward.

The Apostles followed hard after Jesus during their lives and in their deaths. They committed “themselves to their faithful Creator.” They were not only great teachers; they are great examples of suffering according to God’s will.

Father, give me the courage to die for You if need be. For only when I am willing to die for You can I truly live for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Preparing the World

Devotion Text
 

James 1:13-14

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

James was clear that temptation does not come from God. God “cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” So, what is the source of temptation that shows itself so strong in our lives?

  1. World. The world around us is at odds with God. It presents a culture that puts man in charge and God at the back of the line. It hits us with wanting what we don’t have and having what we don’t need.
  2. Flesh. Often we blame temptation on the tempter or on someone else. But sometimes the mirror reflects the source. As believers, the penalty of our sin is gone, but the propensity to sin will remain until the day we die. We are tempted by our “own evil desire.” When we give in, we are “dragged away…and enticed.”
  3. Satan. Finding Jesus in a weakened physical state, the “tempter” showed up to test Jesus in the desert. The same tempter comes roaring after us, like a hungry lion seeking to devour us. He works to drive a wedge of disobedience between us and the Father. Satan desires to destroy our witness before others.

Here’s the hard truth. Whether the source is the world, the flesh, or the devil, at the end of the day we own our disobedience. God will always provide a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Here’s the hard question. Are you willing to take the escape routes?

Father, by Your grace and Your strength, may the answer to that question always be “Yes!” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Zechariah’s Song

Devotion Text
 

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

George Mueller was a man of great faith. During his life, which spanned most of the nineteenth century, Mueller pastored the same church for sixty-six years, read the Bible from cover to cover over 200 times, and was influential in the ministries of D. L. Moody, C. H. Spurgeon, and Hudson Taylor. While his accomplishments were significant, he was most known for his ministry to orphans. He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 abandoned children during his lifetime.

Mueller said, “The orphan houses exist to display that God can be trusted and encourage believers to take him at his word.” Mueller was grieved that “so many believers…were harassed and distressed in mind, or brought guilt on their consciences, on account of not trusting the Lord.” Mueller said that the supreme passion of his life was to “display with open proofs that God could be trusted with the practical affairs of life.”

Mueller made it a point to never ask people for money to support the orphanages; he only asked God. While this is certainly not the only way funds can be raised in a biblical manner, it is estimated that over $40 million, by today’s standards, were given to the orphanages. Mueller said, “My faith is the same kind of faith that all God’s children have had…though there may be more of it because my faith has been a little more developed by exercise.”

Father, help me exercise my faith. Help me put my faith into action. Drive out the fear that causes spiritual retreat, and help me step out with confidence that You will provide everything I need to do all that You have called me to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas

Devotion Text
 

Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

She told me to make a fist. I did. She attached a tight bandage on my upper left arm. I let her. She swabbed my arm with brownish liquid. I watched. She was wearing a blue nurse-like jacket and rubber gloves and a name badge that looked pretty official to me. I was there to give blood; she was there to take it. She said, “This is going to pinch and burn” as she inserted the needle into a vein. She was right. Why wouldn’t I believe her? She had done this hundreds of times (I hoped) before.

Why wouldn’t I believe Him? He has been there from eternity past. He is the Creator of all and put this whole world into motion. He breathed into man the breath of life. He chose a people and then, like the loving Father that He is, jealously cared for, protected, and disciplined His children. Through His people, He sent His Son. Jesus loved us all the way to the cross and paid the penalty for our sin. God raised His Son from the dead, demonstrating His approval and showing us our future. Then, He sent His Spirit to reside in us.

I will not always understand what happens in this life. Some things will shake my world. But who else is there to cling to? Where else is there to run? What else is there to trust? When my world is shaking, I can hold on for dear life to the certain truth He proclaims and I profess. Even amidst my fears, doubts, and questions, He will always keep His promises.

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Help me to always trust You and trust in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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