Category Archives: Devotional

Eagerly Waiting

Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7, NLT*

Waiting for Jesus’ return. The only way this waiting could be passive would be if we’d already finished everything He left us to do – so we’ll be working until He comes. Working, and waiting expectantly.

Eager waiting feeds our hope, and reminds us not to invest too permanently in this life. No matter how good (or bad) today is, there are better days coming. This attitude of eager waiting encourages us in hard times, and gives perspective when our faith leads to trouble in the here and now.

It calls us to keep active in sharing the gospel and in encouraging one another. There will be a day when it’ll be too late.

Gracious God and King, thank You for giving us the spiritual gifts we need to serve in the ways You have prepared for us. Please help us serve in an attitude of willing worship, and to eagerly wait for Jesus’ return. Thank You that Your timing is perfect and that You always keep Your promises.

May our lives give praise to “One Name Alone” (song by Matt Redman).

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Lifestyle and Hope

And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
Titus 2:12-13, NLT*

Paul has been coaching Titus in how best to teach and shepherd the Christians in his care – for their personal growth, but also so that people around them will see God’s goodness. Their – and our – lives as Christians are to be positive reflections of God’s character and grace.

Because salvation is meant for everyone (verse 11), Christian conduct should show that Jesus is the way to salvation, freedom, and abundant life. In this context, it’s clear that Paul doesn’t call this world evil in the sense of judging and condemning the people still living without God. Paul wants his hearers to be beacons to attract those who still need rescue.

He wants us to live as lights for good, not with negative attitudes toward the not-yet-saved, but neither with lifestyles that suggest “godless living and sinful pleasures” are okay. Paul’s letters are filled with practical instruction on the sorts of attitudes and behaviours to embrace and to avoid, and he sums it up in today’s verses.

He’s calling us to holy living, and not with any kind of sour faces or legalism. No, looking forward in anticipation of Jesus’ return.

God our Saviour and our righteousness, forgive us for blending in with the world’s ungodly behaviour patterns. Show us where we need to change, and give us the courage to do so. You’ve promised to give us wisdom and to be our righteousness. Help us to receive and rely on Your provision. Draw us into a lifestyle of devotion to You and of hope in Your Son’s return. Thank You for being our light.

Today’s song is “Let it Be Known,” by Lincoln Brewster.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Our Victory Comes from God

I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
Psalm 62:1, NLT*

Where do you need victory today? In an external conflict? A health issue? Inside your own thoughts or fears?

This psalm describes David’s enemies, sandwiching his plight between two declarations of his choice to wait quietly before God. God is his hope, his source of victory, and his fortress.

Since the psalm ends by affirming God’s ultimate judgement, likely this victory David’s counting on is a literal triumph over those plotting against him. But there’s another victory he could also be sure of – the same one we need today.

With God as his – and our – fortress, we have the security and salvation we need. By faith we can keep our eyes on the Lord and declare with David, “I will not be shaken.” (verse 6)

What if the threat is intense, and we’re trembling in our boots? David may have been quaking, too. If not this time, then earlier in his life. He can wait quietly and stand firm in faith because he has practiced – over and over – every time danger threatened. He had nowhere to go but God, and he learned that God was enough.

We can’t even quiet our souls without God, but that’s a prayer He will love to answer. David’s method was to concentrate on God’s might and character until he had a true perspective of where the real power lay – and then he could trust in God’s care.

We can learn to do the same. The battle we see, that threatens to swallow us whole – may not work out as we want. But the deeper battle is the spiritual one – will we stand secure in God, or will we fall?

Here’s where we can discover the assurance of victory. Whatever happens, Jesus will be with us. He will sustain us. He will be enough.

If we choose, by His strength, to quiet ourselves before Him and trust His deliverance, others will see His goodness.

We may or may not see the external victory we long for, but we can experience daily victory over our thoughts, attitudes, and fears by choosing to dwell each moment in God’s fortress.

Father, fear shouts so loudly that victory seems impossible. Have mercy on Your fragile children and give us the faith and strength to choose Your security. Quiet our flailing spirits so we can rest in You. Give us confidence in Your care, because You are indeed good.

Chris Tomlin’s song, “Good, Good Father,” helps us retrain our thoughts into trust.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Rest from the Ordinary

You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 5:13-14a, NLT*

Note the extra word the NLT adds here: “Your ordinary work.”

Rest. He insists on it. God rested on the seventh day of creation, not because He needed it, but because we would need it. Because otherwise we’d find ways to go nonstop in the pursuit of our “ordinary” work.

Stopping becomes an act of faith as well as obedience. It’s a sign to us, and to others, of God’s trustworthiness and His care for us. It means we trust Him to help us accomplish the “ordinary” work He has for us in the other six days.

Truly resting and trusting means not just stopping the work for a day. It means stopping thinking about the work for the day. Otherwise our minds keep working, and we miss the point.

Choosing rest makes us see where our worship and affection really lie – and where they belong. It can refocus us on what’s truly important, taking our focus off ourselves and pointing us back to God. It may reveal a few things that need trimming from our schedules. It also recharges us to return to work with new energy and stamina.

Worship is a key part of soul-rest and restoration. Other aspects of a day of rest dedicated to God may mean different things to different people.

Without legalism, and with daily resting in His presence as well, how might we expand our understanding of a designated day of rest?

God our Creator and our Shepherd, You know our limitations better than we do. You know we need rest of body, mind, and spirit, and You know how we can turn our own agendas into mini-gods if we’re not continually reminded of our true allegiance. Thank You for being the kind of God who rests His people instead of grinding us into the ground. Thank You that You desire relationship with us: our love, not just our labour. Teach us what it means to rest, including how to carve out a day of rest in our fast-paced world. May our obedience be a sign for us and for others of Your goodness.

The key to rest is the invitation of Jesus to “Enter the Rest of God,” sung here by Brian Doerksen.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Worship is for God

Say to all your people and your priests, “During these seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and in early autumn, was it really for me that you were fasting? And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves?”
Zechariah 7:5b-6, NLT*

True worship is a heart-and-spirit response to the Living God.

Sadly, we can lose focus and make our Christian gatherings about us instead. Congregations can take sides over music styles, service format, formality of prayers, etc.

It becomes all about us – what pleases us, what we deem the best way to express ourselves. It becomes our activity – the routine we follow for personal satisfaction.

But God wants first place in our hearts. When the structure or control of the event means more than He whom we gather to honour, we have a problem.

When we fight amongst ourselves over it, we have a problem.

When we’re there for what we get instead of Who we worship, we have a problem.

We need to worship God privately and corporately. Different people will bring different styles and ways of expression. Our focus must always be on God, not on personal gratification or on how well we’ve “done the job.”

It’s the pure hearts He’s looking for, not the people who are trying to make it all about themselves.

God who is King over all, help me not seek to worship for the experience, although may I experience You. Gathering with other believers, help me not to insist on my preferences in song and structure at the expense of others who know a different way. Join our hearts to desire and to bless You, and unite us in worship that is pleasing to Your heart.

This week’s song is “Lord, I Give You My Heart (This is My Desire),”  from Hillsong.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

To Hear and Obey

…and the whole remnant of God’s people began to obey the message from the Lord their God. When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the Lord their God had sent, the people feared the Lord.
Haggai 1:12b, NLT*

What was the Lord’s message that the people obeyed?

A remnant of Israel had returned to Jerusalem, but in the busyness of rebuilding the city and their homes, they’d neglected to finish rebuilding the Temple.

God asked, “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4, NLT*) He said that was why the people were working so hard for meagre results. They weren’t honouring Him.

Prophetic messages were often rejected, but not this time. These people listened. They chose to obey.

We can be like them, getting off-track or drifting away from what the Lord would have us do. He may let us wander for a while and miss the best He wants to give us, but isn’t it wonderful that He will call us back?

Let’s be quick to listen and to respond.

Good and merciful God, You know we’re prone to distraction. Please guard and direct us, and make us responsive to Your correction. Give us ears, hearts, and spirits attuned to You, for Your glory and our own wellbeing.

A good song to pray regularly is “Search Me, Know Me,” by Kathryn Scott.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God First

They sweep past like the wind
and are gone.
But they are deeply guilty,
for their own strength is their god.
Habakkuk 1:11, NLT*

This prophecy describes the Babylonians, whom God says He will “raise up” (verse 6) to conquer everything in sight.

He calls them “a cruel and violent people” (verse 6) yet it seems their worse offense isn’t wicked behaviour – it’s the attitude of their hearts. It’s what they worship.

Today’s verse reminds us that, as important as our conduct is, of greater importance is the orientation of our hearts. Even outward righteousness wouldn’t be acceptable to Him if it came from a wrongly-focused heart.

God requires our obedience, but even deeper, He requires our worship. Not because His ego needs it, but because we were designed to worship Him. We are only complete when our spirits are lined up with His. When He is our Source, our focus. Our God.

Holy and all-powerful God, You alone are worthy of worship. If we fixate on anything else, we’re missing the fullness of life that You have for us – and we’re offending You by exalting something of lesser value above You. Forgive us for how easily we get distracted. Capture our hearts with Your goodness, and draw us to worship You alone. Only You are worthy, and only in You we find life.

Let this song from Lauren Daigle remind us to keep God “First”.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Tested Trust

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13, NLT*

This level of trust isn’t a casual belief, nor is it taking something for granted. It’s an active, deliberate choice to trust God, regardless of the circumstances – or the consequences.

Trust like this seems risky at first, like sitting in a chair that looks rickety. You might lower yourself gingerly onto the seat, listening for creaks, leg muscles tensed to spring up if the chair collapses.

Gradually, you relax and let the chair take your full weight. It holds you well.

The next time you may still be cautious, but not as much so. Each time you experience the chair’s solidity increases your ability to trust it. The chair has been strong – trustworthy – all along.

With God, we have many proofs of His faithfulness, from His Word and from experience – others’ and our own.

It’s still up to us to choose to place our trust in Him in each situation. That choice locks out the enemy’s mind games and focuses us on our true Help. It’s a choice that sometimes we’ll need to make minute by minute.

The more we rely on God, and the more fully we do so, instead of keeping our options open, the more we will prove His faithfulness. This is when we discover the hope and confidence He gives.

God our Rock and our Salvation, our Help and our Sustainer, be our Source of hope. Give us the faith to actively trust You so we’ll be open to your infilling of joy, peace, and confident hope – for our own sakes and for the sake of those who need to see that You’re real.

Our song today is “In Christ Alone,” sung here by Geoff Moore and Adrienne Liesching.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Set Apart

And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.
Acts 20:32, NLT*

God has set us apart for Himself. Not because of anything we’ve done to earn it, but because of His great mercy and grace.

Set apart for God…

  • for His glory, in our conduct and in the transformation others will see in us
  • for His service, as and where He leads and empowers
  • for personal relationship with Him, because He has adopted us
  • for our rescue and resuscitation, and to build us up
  • for an inheritance in eternity

Because He chose us, while we were still dead in our sins. (Romans 5:8)

God our Rescuer and Redeemer, You have given us new life and hope, not just for ourselves but that we may live set apart for You. Help us fully embrace Your rule in our lives so we can be filled with Your Holy Spirit and live lives that please You. Shine through us to draw others who are still in the darkness.

Another Matt Maher song this week: “Deliverer.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Highly Valued

So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock – his church, purchased with his own blood – over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.
Acts 20:28, NLT*

Let’s face it, church is a collection of sinners saved by Jesus’ blood, plus those still fumbling toward saving faith. Some are easy to love, but most of us have sharp edges, abrasive surfaces, or other sources of irritation.

We’re in the process of spiritual growth, and what God sees in us is not always visible to those looking through human eyes. But He’s building us into the Body of Christ, and into His Temple.

He sees value in us. Enough that Jesus died to redeem us.

He commands us to love one another. (John 13:34-35) He’s not asking us to do anything He hasn’t done first, and He offers the Holy Spirit within us to produce that love for one another. We just need to choose to obey, even when it’s hard.

Is there someone in your church who’s impossible to love? Pray for him or her. Regularly. If you ask God to grow His love in you – and persistently choose to cooperate with Him – He’ll surprise you.

Most times it’s not that extreme, but may we remember to ask what He sees, instead of focusing on what we see. May we remember the high value He sets on us – as individuals and as His flock.

God our Shepherd and our Saviour, we dare not dismiss any soul You love. Please help us see what You see, and grow Your love in our hearts for each member of Your Body. Show us what You see in us, as well, and help us surrender fully to Your cleansing and growth.

Matt Maher’s song, “Instrument,” made a powerful difference in my life during a very difficult time in my own church life.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.