Morning Devotional

Now or Later
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Matthew 5:10]

In the seventies, a TV commercial for an automobile oil filter made this line famous: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” The same principle—now or later—also applies to rewards promised to followers of Christ.

Jesus suggested that we have a choice when it comes to rewards: We can receive rewards now in the form of the adulation of men, or we can receive rewards in eternity from God who sees what we do for Him (Colossians 3:23-24). Jesus also said that those who suffer persecution for His sake will receive the Kingdom of heaven, that those who leave the riches and relationships of this life will be rewarded a hundred times over in eternity. Sometimes we don’t choose to give up comfort in this life; it is taken from us by persecutors of the Church. The same promise applies: God stands ready to reward those who suffer for Christ’s sake in this life. Heaven is a time when rewards will replace what was lost.

Whatever you lose for Christ’s sake—property, reputation, comfort, your good name—does not go unnoticed by God. Nor will it go unrewarded (Romans 8:18).

In the second advent [God] will manifest His glory to reward their faith.
~ John Chrysostom

Turning Point

At What Cost?

Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old.
Lamentations 5:21

Recommended Reading:
Lamentations 5:19-22

When King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922, it instantly became a famous tourist destination with thousands of people coming every day, year after year. Carbon dioxide from the visitors’ breath and all the dust they stirred up had a dulling influence on the stunning gold walls of the tomb. The site was closed for years while the Getty Conservation Institute restored the images and installed new ventilation systems and walkways. Now King Tut’s tomb is open again, but when asked how much the restoration cost, the institute says it was so expensive they won’t disclose the cost.

We live in a dusty world, and the devil is always breathing down our backs. It’s easy to become spiritually dull and stained. Sometimes we lose the golden glow of God’s energy in our hearts. We often need for Him to do as He said in Psalm 23—to restore our souls.

But we shouldn’t forget the great cost that gained all our blessings for us at Calvary, for He gave us Himself.

Let Jesus revive your heart today, then thank Him for the cleansing power of His blood.

When Satan deplores us and the world ignores us, God restores us.
Anonymous

What If

But Simon Peter answered [Jesus], “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
~ John 6:68

In 1994, Dr. D. James Kennedy co-authored a book with an arresting title: What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? The book detailed how Christianity has changed the world: mercy and compassion; education; government; sexuality; work ethic; healthcare; the arts; and more.

We can also ask, “What if the Bible had never been written?” After all, Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God (John 1:1-2) and Scripture is the written Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). It is the revelation of God to man through the Living Word and the written Word that has changed the course of history. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. By 1975, more than five billion copies were in print. As of October 2017, the whole Bible has been translated into 670 languages, the New Testament into 1,521 languages, and Bible portions into 1,121 other languages. What would the world be like today if the Bible hadn’t been written and compiled under God’s direction?

What would your life be like without the Bible? Thank God today for the written Word of God that is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Psalm 119:105).

The Bible is God’s book, not man’s book.
~ J. Gresham Machen

Devotional

Creation Care

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
~ Genesis 1:28

Marine litter is a huge ecological problem. Many countries’ coastlines are littered with plastic and debris, and there is an “island” of plastic more than the twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean where currents have accumulated the debris. Fish become entangled in discarded fishing nets and lines, with bellies full of plastic debris they have swallowed.

Such images are in stark contrast to the pristine beauty and glory of Eden as presented in Genesis. Though mankind was given the mandate to “have dominion over” (that is, to care for) all of creation, we have not done a good job. When God’s mandates go unfulfilled on earth, God’s glory is diminished. And that mandate extends to our personal life as well. Paul writes that we belong to God and we are to glorify Him with our care and use of our body.

When you see opportunities to care for creation—nature or your own body—do so as a way of glorifying the Creator.

The creation is both a monument of God’s power, and a looking-glass in which we may see his wisdom.

~ Thomas Watson

Devotional

Matthew 8

New Opportunities

Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?
Matthew 8:27

Recommended Reading:
Matthew 8:23-27

Matthew 8 describes a day in the life of the Savior. Having preached His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 – 7, Jesus came down the hill to find a leper needing healing (Matthew 8:1-4). He entered Capernaum where a centurion approached Him about a paralyzed servant (verses 5-13). He ducked into a house to find Peter’s mother-in-law suffering a fever, which He healed (verses 14-15). The whole town turned out with their sick and possessed (verses 16-17), and Jesus used the occasion to talk about the cost of discipleship (verses 18-22). He got into a boat so tired He fell asleep. When a storm arose, the disciples awoke Him and He stilled the winds and sea (verses 23-27). Arriving on the other side, He cast demons from two men in the Gergesenes (verses 28-34), and the whole city came out to meet Him.

And you think you’ve had a busy day!

Every day brings new opportunities to serve Jesus. It’s possible to be too busy, but better busy than bored. There’s nothing more exhilarating than giving each day to the Lord and waiting to see what He will do with it.

Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
~ Frances Havergal

Morning Devotional

I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.
Psalm 119:162

Recommended Reading:
1 John 1:3-4

Among new platforms and pursuits made possible by the digital revolution and smartphones, one of the most interesting is geocaching. Think of a treasure hunt—there are millions of “treasures” (caches) hidden by people all over the world. When you get directions via your smartphone and find the treasure, you make a record of your presence and leave the treasure for others to find and enjoy.

In the case of geocaching, the joy is more in the pursuit than in the treasure itself. Still, participants love the experience. The idea of a treasure map has always been the anticipated joy in discovering the treasure. In that way, the Bible is like a treasure map leading to the discovery of truth-based joy. In fact, the psalmist rejoiced at the anticipation of finding “great treasure” in God’s Word. And what is the treasure? Salvation, security, the promises of God, instructions for living a joyful and godly life—who wouldn’t rejoice at discovering such treasures?

The joy of discovery awaits all who read and obey the Word of God. Don’t miss out on that joy by failing to know His Word.

Devotional

Undistracted
Serve the Lord without distraction.
1 Corinthians 7:35

Recommended Reading:
Hebrews 12:1-2

If you’re traveling through the village of Mantua in northeast Ohio, don’t drive with a dog in your lap. Determined to stop distracted driving, the police are aggressively issuing tickets for texting and for driving with an animal sitting on one’s lap. All around the world, new laws are being written to address distracted driving. In the U.S., approximately nine people are killed and more than one thousand injured each day in crashes involving a distracted driver.

It’s also important to let nothing distract us from a driving faith in Christ. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race set that is before us.” Jesus warned us that if we aren’t careful, the “cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches” can choke the work of the Word of God in our lives (Matthew 13:22).

When we live according to God’s plan, nothing can distract us. Every day provides a fresh opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the Lord and live with single-minded devotion to Him.

I learned early in sports that to be effective—for a player to play the best he can play—is a matter of concentration and being unaware of distractions, positive or negative.
[Coach Tom Landry]