No Shortcuts Here

Today’s Verse: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. ~Exodus 13:18 The children of Israel were now ready to begin their journey away from Egypt towards the land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey. However, we are told that God did not lead them through a shorter and more logical path (v. 17). God led them through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. What appeared to be a more direct way was closed to them. God did not lead them through a shorter way: God was leading them through a longer way. God was showing them that were no shortcuts to their destination. There

In Every City

Today’s Verse: For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. ~Acts 15:21 The idea of community can be traced back to Adam and Eve. Communities are made up of neighborhoods, districts, and zip codes combined together to make up cities. Every city has its own unique identity based upon attractions, education, employment, life stages, open space, population density, recreation, safety, and wealth. Most overlooked, but most important, is the availability of gospel-preaching churches in that city and its communities. The phrase “in every city them that preach him [Jesus]” stood out to me in my Bible reading. I challenge everyone rea

The Great Physician

Today’s Verse: But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. ~Matthew 9:12 In the 1990s, the world of doctors, prescriptions, and medical insurance was branded as “managed care.” Acronyms such as HMO, PPO, EPO, PCP, and other abbreviated terms were used to describe how the consumer would have access to a doctor’s care and how it would be paid for. For the average consumer, all they knew was that when they needed a physician, they wanted to get to one without delay or hindrance. Jesus made a simple but profound statement when He said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” Jesus is the Great Physician

A Baby's First Words

Today’s Verse: And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. ~Matthew 8:2 A baby’s first words are very memorable to parents. While we see this as an achievement of growth, it is also the little child’s way of expressing himself to his parents. Matthew 8 is a chapter of Scripture filled with the exciting details of the start of Jesus’ ministry among people. In this chapter, we see His encounters with a leper, a centurion on behalf of his servant who was very ill with the palsy, Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick with a fever, multitudes possessed with demons, a great tempest at sea with His disciples, and two demon-possessed men of

What's Good For Me

Today’s Verse: But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. ~Psalm 73:28 God created us with an innate sense of self-preservation. Good parenting, combined with this innateness, teaches us to do what is good for us. However, our sin nature wants us to do what is good for us for selfish gain, and we can wind up making decisions that really are not the best for us and that take us out God’s will. Let us see this morning what is good for us. We see the Lord and our perceptions. “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” Our perceptions cause our thinking to be clouded and doubtful. David became envious of

I Will Build Again

Today’s Verse: After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: ~Acts 15:16 Earthquake-prone areas of the world are very keen on the fact that a major earthquake can happen at any time. The people who live in area hit hard by an earthquake know that, in spite of the ruin they have experienced, they must build again. While speaking at an important gathering of the church at Jerusalem, James quotes to his audience from Amos 9:11. God said, “I will build again the ruins thereof.” Regardless of a spiritual earthquake or casualty you may have experienced in your life, you can build again!

Listen: He's Speaking

Today’s Verse: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; ~1 Timothy 4:1 In a public gathering, we know that it is proper etiquette to listen and not talk when there is a speaker. First, it is good etiquette towards the speaker, who has prepared himself to speak to the audience. Second, it is good etiquette towards the people nearest to us. Third, it is for our benefit, so that we do not miss anything important that he has to say to us. Let us see this morning: “the Spirit speaketh expressly.” The Spirit speaks about Christ. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you f

When It's All On the Line

Today’s Verse: And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me? ~Judges 12:3 Risk is when we have the possibility of losing something important to us. There are risk takers, and then there are those who are risk-averse. The upside in risk is substantial reward. The downside is substantial loss. Jephthah took great risk in going to battle with the Ammonites. We see the situation. The Ammonites came against the Israelites to fight them for their land. The Israelites needed a valiant leader, and the elders came to the co

Daily Exercise

Today’s Verse: But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. ~1 Timothy 4:7 Do you exercise? Do you exercise daily? Exercise is putting your body and muscles to work. It is activity that strengthens, refreshes, and helps us. Some go to extremes and make exercise a “religion” instead of a safeguard for our health. Paul said that “bodily exercise profiteth little.” We do know for sure that we are encouraged to “exercise thyself rather to godliness.” Let us consider spiritual exercises that should be daily. There should be the exercise of humility. “LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in th

The Lord, Our Reward

Today’s Verse: After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. ~Genesis 15:1 A reward is an acknowledgement that is given to someone for a performance. The Hebrew word used in our devotion is translated “compensation” or “payment for services performed.” At a time when Abraham was second guessing himself and under stress for being the only believer in a world filled with pagans, God lovingly told him, “I am… thy exceeding great reward.” The greatest reward we can receive is the Lord Himself. We see the assurance. God gave Abraham a powerful assurance that the Lord Himself is his reward. The assuran

A Place Prepared

Today’s Verse: And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. ~Revelation 12:6 For several years now, my wife and I look forward to spending time at a timeshare on the island of Kauai. It is a secluded location that overlooks the ocean and has its own private beach. Before our arrival, we will have several communications with the arrival team to make sure the place is prepared for our short stay there. “A place prepared” means that everything necessary for you to enjoy your stay is done and ready upon your arrival. The phrase “a place prepared” spoke to my heart of God’s great love an

To Blossom and Bud

Today’s Verse: I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. ~Isaiah 27:3 My father grew up on a farm. He loved gardening. Even though he worked seven days a week and 12- to 14-hour-days for many years, he would spend time every day in his garden. This included caring for numerous fruit trees, a small vegetable garden, orchids, and a koi pond. For the Jews, having a vineyard was the height of gardening. God uses the symbol of a vineyard to speak of His love and special purpose that He has for His people. We see the coveted ownership. “In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.” A vineyard of red wine speaks of a vineyard that

He Sought Not to the Lord

Today’s Verse: And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. ~1 Chronicles 16:12 They say most men (including me) are notorious for not asking their wife for advice or help when they are lost while driving. Before we had GPS, a wife would tell her husband to stop at a gas station or store and ask for directions. Instead, the husband would insist that he will find the location they need to go to. A frustrated wife would simply throw up her hands and let her husband know how stubborn he is. All of us have a streak of stubbornness in us. However, stubbornness

Good Behavior

Today’s Verse: Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight. ~1 Chronicles 19:13 The term “good behavior” refers to the right actions, conduct, and deportment that we expect of another person. We typically apply this to a mischievous child, someone guilty of criminal behavior, or a questionable public official whose conduct we expect will turn around and be above reproach and commendable. We see the courage. “Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.” The Israelites f

Prevailing Prayer

Today’s Verse: And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail. ~Isaiah 16:12 The word “prevail” means to be successful, to overcome, or to be superior in strength and power. In the realm of prayer, it aptly describes the kind of praying that God answers. It is the kind of praying that God blesses. It is the kind of praying that God uses to make a difference. Let us see this morning the elements that result in prevailing prayer. It is praying with contrition. “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Contrition is when

The Unkempt Vineyard

Today’s Verse: They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept. ~Song of Solomon 1:6b How many of us find ourselves so busy and occupied with so many things to do that we wind up neglecting our own care and needs? Families busy with the children’s schooling, the parents’ jobs, and outside commitments many times wind up neglecting taking care of their household needs. Many of us find ourselves so busy with responsibilities that we tend to neglect our dining, exercise, and health needs. Our devotion this morning is about a young woman whose family made her take care of the family vineyards, but her own personal vineyard, or garden, wound up being neglected. We s

Tenacious Tola

Today’s Verse: And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim. And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir. ~Judges 10:1-2 Tenacity is determination, courage, toughness, perseverance, and steadfastness all packaged together. Tenacity is a long-distance runner finishing his race. It is a surgeon staying focused and concentrating on completing a difficult surgery. It is someone in a leadership capacity making key decisions in the midst of opposition and circumstances that seem insurmountable. This morning, let us see “Tenacious Tola.” We see his descent. He wa

Please Bless Us

Today’s Verse: God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. ~Psalm 67:1 The word “blessing” carries with it the idea of approval, favor, goodness, help, and being greatly enabled. The word “bless” in Hebrew is “barach,” and the word “blessing” in Hebrew is “berachah.” Psalm 67 is a very short psalm, but it is packed with richness. It is the prayer of God’s people for His blessing. We see the prayer. “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.” First, this should be the heart cry of God’s people for our church and for our world. It is an acknowledgement that we are constantly in need of His mercies. His mercies spea

God's Mercy Seat

Today’s Verse: And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. ~Hebrews 9:5 The centerpiece of the worship of God was the tabernacle. Inside the tabernacle, behind a great veil, was the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest was allowed to enter there. Inside this sacred place was the Ark of the Covenant. Within the Ark were the two tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written, a golden pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded. Overshadowing the Ark of the Covenant was a golden covering known as the mercy seat. We see the presence. The mercy seat was where the presence of God descended by way of a cloud. Two cherubims, on o

The Eyes of the Lord

Today’s Verse: For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. ~2 Chronicles 16:9a The Bible is rich in metaphors that powerfully describe Who God is. The use of a part of the human body colorfully helps us understand God’s favor or disfavor in a matter. For instance, we see the use of the hand of the Lord to describe His blessing and favor. We see the use of the Lord’s shoulder as being able to carry every burden. We see the use of His eyes that describe that He is all-seeing. “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). At the very beginning of

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