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]

Devotional

Keeping Your Balance

Honor the Lord with your possessions.
~ Proverbs 3:9

Someone said, “Old bookkeepers never die; they just lose their balance.” When it comes to keeping our books, we need a balanced perspective. On the one hand, the Bible tells us to be like the ant, which “provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:8). Proverbs 13:11 says, “Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (NIV). The wise woman in Proverbs 31 considered a field and bought it (verse 16).

On the other hand, Jesus spoke of the rich fool who hoarded his wealth and laid up treasure for himself but was not rich toward God (Luke 12:21).

When we work hard and save wisely, our actions can honor God. When we share with others and freely give our tithes and offerings to God, these actions honor Him too. The guiding principle is found in Proverbs 3:9-10: “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty.” In other words, honor God with your money and with the first part of all your income, then you’ll better appreciate the blessings He pours into your life.

If we don’t faithfully give to the Lord, we don’t really trust the Lord.
~ Warren Wiersbe [in Be Skillful]

Devotional

Words Like Honey

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
~ Proverbs 16:24

Recommended Reading:
Romans 14:19

For thousands of years, humans have enjoyed the sweet delights of honey. Bees collect nectar from flowers and return to their hive where they store it in wax honeycombs. They create honey as a food source for themselves during the winter, but excess honey has graced human tables for ages.

Honey is a source of glucose like cane sugar and other sweeteners. For that reason, it has long satisfied the human “sweet tooth.” And honey served as an illustration of the power of words in the Old Testament. Just as honey brings delight and satisfaction, so can pleasant and edifying words. Just as nutritious foods help to build human health, so wise and loving words can build up the spiritual and emotional health of people. Building up others (“edifying” is the biblical word) is a major responsibility of Christians. Paul told the Romans to pursue “the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19)—and that certainly includes our words.

Look for a way today to build up and encourage another person by the words you speak to them. Let your words be like honey to their soul.

Whatever moves the heart wags the tongue.
~ C. T. Studd

Evening Devotional

New Leaves: Entertainment

I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.
~ Psalm 101:3

Recommended Reading:
Psalm 101:1-4

Last year, a Michigan dad took his two stepsons to Burger King. A TV was mounted to the wall, and the older son blurted out, “Don’t look up at the TV.” The screen was filled with a lurid R-rated sex scene. Some of the customers were mesmerized by the action, and because employees were slow to change the channel, the man walked over and turned off the television. Burger King apologized when the man filed a police report, but he understandably worries that the images will torment his sons.

Perhaps we need to turn off the television too—the one in our own home. Our culture has a way of luring us into watching people in more obscene, profane, violent, and immoral activities than any that we’d actually allow into our house. Not all entertainment is bad, but most entertainment is getting worse.

Consider turning over a new leaf this year. Be more selective in what you watch. Be quicker to turn off shows that are inappropriate and seek programming that will help you and others make wiser turning points in life.

We must not be so naïve as to assume that all entertainment is spiritually neutral and safe, as though we could immerse our minds in everything the world offers and remain spiritually unscathed.

~ John MacArthur

Devotional

Commit Your Eyes

[The adulteress’] house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.
Proverbs 7:27

In the Old Testament, a covenant was entered into as a guarantee of future benefits and protection. Consider the covenant Job made: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1) That was a man speaking, but the same gender-neutral idea is in Psalm 119:37: “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.” The time to make a covenant with your eyes is in a time of reflection and sober commitment.

The father in Proverbs warned his son to consider the danger and damage associated with yielding to sexual temptation (Proverbs 7:1-27). As parents tell their children about all of life, an important lesson they might share is that it’s easier to stay out of trouble than it is to get out of trouble. And the way to avoid the trouble that comes with sexual immorality is to make a covenant with God not to go there. And a covenant with your eyes, in our visual world, is a good place to begin.

Commit your eyes to God in prayer, that they may look upon and desire only that which is good and godly.

No sinful act desecrates the body like fornication and sexual abuse.
R. C. H. Lenski