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Daily Reading • Revelation 2:18-29

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love, and faith, your service, and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching, she misleads My servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from My Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Key Verses •  Revelation 2:18-29

Daily Devotion

There is debate among scholars in regards to the reference of Jezebel in Revelation 2:20; the question is whether it is an Old Testament reference or an actual prophetess. None the less, it is clear that Jezebel is a symbol of the people of God being tempted and seduced through the pleasures, luxuries, and ruthless violence in the culture surrounding them. We should be careful to judge, however, since we are open to the same kind of deception as the believers receiving this discipline. We are certainly not above tolerating, being deceived, or falling into the same pattern as the church in Thyatira. If we are honest with ourselves, the argument could be made that many Christians are in this exact place.

The passage tells us that God gave them time and opportunity to repent before He disciplined the church for their disobedience. Verse 23 states: “then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and will repay each of you according to your deeds.”

There are moments when natural consequences serve to wake us up to the seriousness of our actions, while other times, we have the luxury of learning lessons from those who have gone before us. Like a younger sibling learning the importance of making it home for curfew because their older siblings failure to do so. God’s Word tells us in this passage that we should learn from those who have gone before us. From our older sibling in this passage, we can learn that God is serious about His call to His people to walk in holiness. We can learn to remain diligent and search our hearts in order to uncover the places we are being lured and deceived by the luxuries and pleasures of our culture. We can learn not to take God’s grace and patience lightly and respond by repenting and falling on God’s grace and forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Revelation 2:12-17

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of Him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to My name. You did not renounce your faith in Me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Key Verses •  Revelation 2:12-17

Daily Devotion

First published in 1562, “Foxes Book of Martyrs” is a book that records the suffering of Christians. Many editions later, there are still countless stories of believers facing incredible circumstances and remaining faithful even to the point of death. These stories provide encouragement to believers all around the globe to stay faithful - no matter the cost.

In Revelation 2:12-17, Jesus is speaking to the church at Pergamum. This passage makes it clear that this is a tough place to live, and despite the difficulties, there are believers who have remained faithful and true to Christ, even in the face of great trial. The passage indicates Antipas as one of those faithful believers, as his faithfulness to Christ cost him his life - what an example and encouragement for each of us of the worth of Christ.

However, verse 14 says, “nevertheless, I have a few things against you...” Christ then points to how some are being lead astray by false teachings common to their culture. These words remind us that faithfulness in the past does not merit faithfulness in the future. Christ words are an encouragement for all believers to recognize the spiritual war that is happening around all of us, and to resist being enticed by the deceitful and false teachings of our Enemy. Often, we have trouble receiving these kinds of warnings, but today, let us have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. Maybe we respond with thankful hearts to a gracious God, who both warns and encourages us because He loves us and desires for us to live in faithfulness to His Word, as He knows there is no better way to live. Let us also search our hearts, repent, from sin and selfishness, and turn to our Father, who promises to forgive us and welcome us when we return to Him.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Revelation 2:8-11

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death. Key Verses •  Revelation 2:8-11

Daily Devotion

In recent months, a number of cities in the Greater Nashville area have been recognized as great places to live. With great schools, great entertainment, great resources, and lots of other “greats,” Nashville is a GREAT place to live! However, even with such recognition, we know that life can be hard. When we lose someone, we love, when our bodies suffer illness, when our kids rebel, when finances run short when we are mocked for remaining obedient to God’s Word, we understand that life is hard. In Revelation 2:8-11, Jesus is speaking to the church in Smyrna. Smyrna was a beautiful town - a harbor city with great roads, great buildings, and great art.

Nonetheless, as beautiful and heavily resourced as this city was, life was tough for the Christians living there. Believers were harassed, slandered, imprisoned, persecuted, and possibly martyred for their faith in Christ. Life was difficult!

Regardless of these trials, these verses hold a great deal of encouragement for Christians in Smyrna, as well as, for you and me. Keep in mind that these are the words of Jesus, “who is the First and the Last;” it is He who spoke the cosmos into existence and has the final word at the end of time is speaking to these suffering believers, and He lovingly declares “I know your suffering!”

What a comforting declaration from Christ! He knows, He sees, and He is not ignorant of our suffering! Believers, take heart along with those who have gone before us that Christ knows and cares for us in the midst of our suffering. Hear, also, Christ's charge to “be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” Suffering may feel like defeat in the moment, but Christ experienced the ultimate suffering on the Cross, and His suffering has purchased for us a crown of victory.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Revelation 1:8

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty.” Memory Verses •  Revelation 1:8

Daily Devotion

Reflect on the names of God. One of which is "eternal" – He is the beginning, the present, and the future. This is the God that we serve, love, and praise with our lives.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Revelation 1:5-6

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To Him who loves us and has 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 forever and ever! Amen. Memory Verses •  Revelation 1:12-20

Daily Devotion

Focus on all that we have become because of Jesus, and meditate on these verses and that all glory and power goes to Him – forever and ever!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Revelation 2:1-7

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work, and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Key Verses •  Revelation 1:12-20

Daily Devotion

Serving in the church is a good thing. But what happens when excitement becomes exhaustion? Or when there is no satisfaction and much less joy? Are we supposed to serve no matter what?

In Revelation 2, Jesus told the church at Ephesus that He had seen their serving and was not impressed. They had forgotten why they were serving. “You have forgotten your first love,” Jesus said. Their deeds were empty because the desire behind them was empty.

It is easy to be a slave to Christian service instead of being in love with the one whom we serve. When we forget the price paid for our salvation and let selfishness and apathy, steal our joy, our work in the church becomes empty and displeasing to Jesus. What we do will never be as important as Who we serve. If we’re too busy doing things for Jesus at the cost of not spending time with Him, then we’re no different from the church at Ephesus.

When was the last time you thought about the reason why you are serving? Take a moment right now to recognize, realign your heart and even, perhaps, say out loud, “when I serve, I am making a difference For the Kingdom!”

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Revelation 1

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a Son of Man, dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest. The hair on His head was white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand, He held seven stars, and coming out of His mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in My right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. Key Verses •  Revelation 1:12-20

Daily Devotion

Have you ever heard the phrase, stuffing one hundred pounds of feathers in a ten-pound bag? For some, that is what Hebrews 13 is all about. There are so many incredible truths in this chapter. As you read this chapter, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about any area that you need to focus on so that your life is pointing people to a place where they are living For the Kingdom.

Start with verse 1: how are you doing at loving everyone as your brothers and sisters? How are you supposed to love those who seem unlovable? How does verse 2 pertain to guests at church, the homeless, or the people you run into in your everyday life? Now, look at verse 3. When was the last time you actually thought about, prayed about, or reached out to someone in prison? They need Jesus. Could you make an impact on someone's life in jail For the Kingdom?

I Timothy 6 says that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” When we begin to love money and make it our idol, the opportunities to be generous and to use our resources for a greater missional purpose fade. If your margin to be generous is absent, is it because an underlying love for money, things, or statuses has edged it out?

Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about one topic from this chapter to focus on as you look to use the life He has given you For The Kingdom!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 13

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Key Verses •  Hebrews 13:1-3

Daily Devotion

Have you ever heard the phrase, stuffing one hundred pounds of feathers in a ten-pound bag? For some, that is what Hebrews 13 is all about. There are so many incredible truths in this chapter. As you read this chapter, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about any area that you need to focus on so that your life is pointing people to a place where they are living For the Kingdom.

Start with verse 1: how are you doing at loving everyone as your brothers and sisters? How are you supposed to love those who seem unlovable? How does verse 2 pertain to guests at church, the homeless, or the people you run into in your everyday life? Now, look at verse 3. When was the last time you actually thought about, prayed about, or reached out to someone in prison? They need Jesus. Could you make an impact on someone's life in jail For the Kingdom?

I Timothy 6 says that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” When we begin to love money and make it our idol, the opportunities to be generous and to use our resources for a greater missional purpose fade. If your margin to be generous is absent, is it because an underlying love for money, things, or statuses has edged it out?

Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about one topic from this chapter to focus on as you look to use the life He has given you For The Kingdom!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Key Verses •  Hebrews 12:1-3

Daily Devotion

Running is not for everyone. It takes discipline, desire and most importantly, a runner has to see the reason for the race. If you are running a longer distance than you have run before – a 5K, 10K, or marathon – to complete the race it takes perseverance like you’ve rarely if ever had before.

That is the type of perseverance that is described in Hebrews 12. Jesus began His earthly race with an eye on the joy set before Him. However, just because there is joy at the end does not mean the race is an easy one. Jesus endured the cross and its shame. You and I wrestle with our entangling sin and on-going opposition to our faith. How do we survive? How do we thrive? Today’s passage tells us – we keep our focus on Jesus! We look to Him for courage, strength, and endurance so that we don’t lose heart and grow weary.

How do we do that? Through prayer, keeping the joy of the victory in mind through daily Scripture reading, and an encouraging network of Christ-followers in our lives regularly. How do we impact lives For the Kingdom? Take note of this chapter’s encouragement and pick one area to focus in on over the next week!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 11

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith, we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  Key Verses •  Hebrews 11:1-3

Daily Devotion

All sports fans know that the ultimate dream of every professional ball player is the Hall of Fame. Why is the Hall of Fame such a big deal? Because it shows, that player is one of the best of all time and because that player will be immortalized forever. In Hebrews 11 we find the Hall of Faith. Whether it is Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, or Sarah, they were honored for their acts of faith and are now immortalized forever in Scripture as some of the most faithful people of all time.

You and I will never get into Hebrews because of our faith. However, we have the opportunity every day to make decisions that honor God and celebrate our faith in Him. If we want to truly make an impact For the Kingdom, then we will look for and take advantage of every opportunity to step out and stretch our faith. Look at verse 17 “by faith Abraham, when God tested him…”. Could it be that we are tested in regards to our faith? The answer is yes, we are. Will we pass the test to step out in faith in sharing about Jesus with our co-worker? Will we pass the test to not give in to that temptation that we too often succumb to? Will we pass the test to be an outrageously generous person in regards to the work of the Lord?

The Hall of Faith – something we read about today and something that we can use to inspire ourselves to be men and women of faith more and more each day, week, month, and year.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 10:23-25

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Memory Verses •  Hebrews 10:23-25

Daily Devotion

Golden State Warriors, New England Patriots, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls; what do they all have in common? Yes, all of them have incredible individual athletes, but more than that, they had the greatest teams. The church is the greatest team to ever walk on the face of the earth. When we all do our part, we can do great things collectively FOR THE KINGDOM of God. We are better together. Edmund Burke once said, “Whatever disunites man from God, also disunites man from man.”

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 9:27-28

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. Memory Verses •  Hebrews 9:27-28

Daily Devotion

There are certain things that you can change about your life. The way you eat, your hobbies, the route you drive to work or home, etc. But there are some things you can’t change, like the day you take your last breath. Billy Graham said, “You're born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there's a loophole.” That loophole is Christ. Christ’s destiny provides us with a loophole to have life after life.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 10

Brothers and sisters, we are not afraid to enter the Most Holy Room. We enter boldly because of the blood of Jesus. His way is new because He lives. It has been opened for us through the curtain. I’m talking about His body.  We also have a great priest over the house of God. So, let us come near to God with a sincere heart. Let us come near boldly because of our faith. Our hearts have been sprinkled. Our minds have been cleansed from a sense of guilt. Our bodies have been washed with pure water. Key Verses •  Hebrews 10:19-22

Daily Devotion

What does it mean when someone says you are bold? To be bold implies a willingness to get things done despite risks. Boldness is the opposite of fearfulness. When you are bold or act boldly there is no fear in the outcome there is only excitement for the process and outcome. When we think about living out our faith, boldness should be the goal. We want there to be a boldness in how we live, in what we say and what we do.
 
We enter boldly because of the blood of Jesus! Because of His sacrifice, we can walk boldly even into the Holy of Holies. That alone is a bold statement! In order to enter into the Most Holy Room, you had to be a High Priest and could only walk into that room on the day of Atonement. The high priest entered the holiest place with fear and trembling, but we can enter the Holiest with boldness because of the blood of Jesus. A few verses earlier the author of Hebrews tells us in verse 12 that “Jesus our priest offered one sacrifice for sins for all time.” Jesus has set us up to live out our faith boldly. It is our choice whether or not we live it to the fullest.

Let’s live with the boldness and fearlessness that the author writes about. What a world that would be!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 9

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; He entered Heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did He enter Heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But He has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. Key Verses •  Hebrews 9:22-28

Daily Devotion

Do you honestly believe that Jesus' blood covered all of your sins once and for all?
 
In Hebrews 8, the author describes the “old covenant” vs. “new covenant.”  Keep in mind this was a complicated plan containing directions for worship and how to atone for your sins.  This required a location, a priest, a room called “Holy of Holies,” and an animal. Remember, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and once a year would offer a blood sacrifice for his own sins and all of the people’s sin.  As long as this covenant was in place, no one could easily get to God.  It was a temporary arrangement that really needed a complete overhaul. 
 
But when Jesus came to earth, He bypassed the tent and the sacrifices of goat and calf blood and instead used His own. Not once a year, but once and for all. He became the one true sacrifice this world needed in order to get to God, the final solution to sin. The moment of Jesus' death marked the moment of the new covenant.  Just like a will only takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant took effect at the death of Jesus. 
 
We are living in the new covenant.  But do you believe this?

If you are a Christ follower, then Jesus has wiped your sin away.  All of it, your past sins, present sins, and your future sins. You have access to God through our Great High Priest Jesus Christ, and that doesn’t come with an expiration date. 

When God looks at you, He does not see your sins, failures, doubts, and struggles. He sees Jesus.  Do you believe this? Or do you feel that God must be disappointed in you because you keep messing up? 

Jesus knew every sin you would ever commit when He was on the cross, and He still decided that you were worth it!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 8

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Key Verses •  Hebrews 8:7-12

Daily Devotion

The Old Testament tabernacle was a place of worship and sacrifice. But within the tabernacle there was a room called the “Holy of Holies” where only a priest was allowed to enter once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). This was where the priest would offer the blood sacrifices from an animal to God to cover the sins of the people.

From creation, God has spoken clearly about the fact that sin leads to death (Gen. 2:17). Therefore, sin will always lead to the shedding of blood. Sin is costly. 

The earthly priest acted as a mediator between God and the people. This system was a part of the “old covenant” that we find in the Old Testament. To be in right standing with God this covenant was dependent on works. But this act of sacrificing the blood of an animal DID NOT FULLY SATISFY THE DEBT OF OUR SINS.

The New Testament points to a “new covenant” that God makes with His people. A covenant that does not depend on people’s ability to fulfill by being faithful and obedience to God. Instead, this covenant depends on God alone. A covenant that requires a perfect sacrifice that finally will FULLY SATISFY THE DEBT OF OUR SINS. A sacrifice of a Great High Priest that is superior and supersedes all Old Testament rituals. The author of Hebrews declares that God has fulfilled and accomplished this new covenant through Jesus.

This is great news! This is what God’s Kingdom is all about. For people to be in a right relationship with God through Jesus. That is why we are “FOR THE KINGDOM” and wanting His KINGDOM to penetrate the hearts of those in our communities and all over the world.

Today, spend some time in thanksgiving for the “new covenant” God established through Jesus. If this was a daily practice, how would it change your perspective to live FOR THE KINGDOM today?

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 7

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but He became a priest with an oath when God said to Him:

“The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ ”

Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him because He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Key Verses •  Hebrews 

Daily Devotion

An anchor is dropped from the side of a boat or ship to keep it from moving when it is hit by wind or waves. Without it, the boat can move far from the intended location and sailors can be lost, or at the very least find themselves way behind schedule. No matter how fancy the boat or skilled the sailor, without the anchor the whole trip can be ruined.
 
How often do we find ourselves far from where we want to be or where we should be in life? Have you ever been in a situation where it felt like everything was out of your control? It can be terrifying to experience the storms of life while depending on ourselves, others, our circumstances, or achievements. We weren’t meant to go on this journey alone, and in Hebrews 6 God promises us the life-changing truth.
 
God gave us the gift of being able to call Him our anchor. In a world where nothing is certain, we have the privilege of holding onto and finding our hope in Him – “the anchor for our soul.” This hope is described as “firm” and “secure” so, therefore, it is unchanging and immovable. Not only does this promise allow us to lean on Christ through every feeling of fear, anxiety, or stress but it ultimately replaces those feelings with peace, comfort, and confidence in Christ.

The next time your circumstances in life begin causing you to feel like you’re experiencing a storm, remind that storm who your anchor is. Do you need that reminder today?

Spend some time meditating on that phrase “anchor for our soul” and replace “our” for “my.” Really get behind the idea that Christ wants to be your daily anchor.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 6

When God made His promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Key Verses •  Hebrews 7:20-28

Daily Devotion

Take a few moments to think about your favorite gift you have ever received.

What made it special? Who gave it to you? Do you still use or have this gift?

Everyone loves a good gift. One they have longed for, asked for and even waited for. But imagine if someone gave you a gift (the one you longed for, asked for and waited for) all for them to tell you it could only be used with specific people, during certain times of the day, while on loan to you. Then to top it off, the gift breaks and only works part of the time. Suddenly, the perfect gift goes from being the best to hardly a gift at all.

Take these thoughts and apply them to the Levitical priesthood and law, where broken priests were trying to lead sinners to a perfect standing. It just doesn’t work.

Now imagine you are given a gift with no strings attached. It never breaks, it is perfectly suited for you and is far sweeter than you could ever ask or imagine. It’s perfect.


Jesus changed the scene. He is holy. He is the guarantor of a better covenant. His priesthood has no end. He is hope. He is peace. He is righteous. He is just. He is the very best gift.

For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:28

Today, would you live as one who knows that Jesus is their perfect high priest, keeper of promises, lifter of heads, chaser of our hearts? And perfect forever. The very best gift.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Memory Verses •  Hebrews 4:16

Daily Devotion

God doesn’t ask us to play coy when we need His help nor does He require we seek anyone else but Him regarding the forgiveness of our sins. What room then do we have to be shy in our faith? Shouldn’t we come to the throne of grace in such a way that we believe God will bestow mercy on us when we ask for it? Let’s humbly approach God’s throne and seek the grace we do not deserve but so desperately need.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven. Memory Verses •  Hebrews 1:1-3

Daily Devotion

What an incredible picture. And what a profound truth. While in the Old Testament God spoke through prophets like Isaiah, Elijah, and Nehemiah, He spoke to us by way of His Son, and now, the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 5

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Key Verses •  Hebrews 4:7-14

Daily Devotion

When we were babies, we survived by drinking milk. Then, gradually, we’re able to down food from a jar labeled asparagus, green beans, carrots, and whatever else. Of course, this food resembles mush more so than actual food. But finally we graduate to what we think of as real food. It’s cut up in ever-so-tiny bites at first, but nonetheless, it’s actual food.
 
Our spiritual life works much the same. For some of us, we transition with our spiritual life as we transition as people, growing as a child to an adult in both a spiritual and physical sense. Others of us reach adulthood before coming to know Christ, so while we’re an adult physically, we’re a child spiritually. Regardless of when we come to know Christ, we are consistently working to grow spiritually. Have you had some hiccups along the way? We all have. Some bigger than others? Probably, we will have more, but we must continue to grow in spiritual maturity.
 
The writer of Hebrews doesn’t shy away from this. Their instructions are to the point: “for though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14
 
To grow in spiritual maturity, we must learn the difference between what is good and what is evil. How do we do this? We learn by reading the Bible, by learning from mature Christians, by praying to God and seeking His will. After all, no one wants to go back to eating mush.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 4

Therefore, since we have a Great High Priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Key Verses •  Hebrews 4:14-16

Daily Devotion

In today's age, the end of Hebrews 4 should be of interest to us all. Verses 14 through 16 read, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The author of Hebrews was writing to Jewish Christians in Italy. Many of these Christians were likely worried about what they’d gotten themselves into at this point, having become Christians.
 
These particular verses are directed to the Jews who wanted to be religious—but they also wanted to be accepted by society. They wanted to “downplay” their religion.
 
Now jump to the present, specifically to 2018. Aren’t we seeing this in our society today? In fact, society seems to tell us that we can call ourselves Christians without worrying about if our lives line up with what the Bible teaches. These verses in Hebrews speak so clearly to us as well.
 
We must hold fast to our confession. We must believe with all our hearts that Jesus is Lord and that He came to save us. He is not far away from us, nor can He not sympathize with us. He lived and breathed on this earth, and He knows the temptations of this world. Because we know this, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace” (vs. 16)—certainly not with an attitude of entitlement. But we approach Jesus with an attitude of humility, of reverence, and of adoration. We come seeking help in our time of need, knowing that Christ is for us and that He alone is our saving grace.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 3

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Key Verses •  Hebrews 3:12-15

Daily Devotion

Sin operates with deceitfulness—and it has since entered the world. In Genesis 3, the serpent, “who was more cunning than any beast of the field” (vs. 1) lied to Eve, telling her that God had lied to her and that she wouldn’t die after eating the fruit. After the fruit was eaten, Eve told God that “the serpent deceived me” (v. 13).
 
Hebrews 3 reminds us of the Israelites. Verses 16-19 recount how Moses led the Israelites when they were released from bondage in Egypt. The Israelites had seen plagues destroy Egypt, they’d walked on dry ground through the Red Sea, and they’d seen God provide for them in the desert. Yet they still struggled with unbelief. We may catch ourselves thinking, “if I had seen all that, I would have never doubted like they did!” But would we have? We, on the other hand, have God’s word to lead, guide, and direct us. We know it is the truth, but perhaps we still struggle with unbelief or with doubt.
 
Here we are in 2018, still being deceived by sin. And even worse, sometimes we’re hardened by it. But the book of Hebrews tells us that if we hear the Holy Spirit’s voice, we shouldn’t harden our hearts. So let’s not be deceived by sin. How do we keep from it? We trust God’s Word. We know the Holy Spirit can uplift us in God’s call to us. Hebrews 3:15 says, “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Don’t let sin deceive you or pull you away from Christ. Our God is the living God (v. 12), and He wants us to choose to follow Christ every day and to have faith in His will for our lives. If we listen, we’ll hear His voice.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 2

It is not to angels that He has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.”

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present, we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Key Verses • Hebrews 2:5-9

Daily Devotion

Hebrews 2 begins, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” What have we heard? And who is "we?"
 
Though the author of Hebrews is unknown, we do know who this letter was intended for. Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were living in Italy. The author hadn’t seen Jesus, as verse 2 tells us they knew Jesus to be the Christ by “those who heard Him.”
 
So what “things” had they heard? The author here is referring to the theme of Hebrews 1, which says that Jesus is greater—greater than the angels in heaven. The author explains that Jesus is greater and that they must cling to knowing this. Then verse 9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Here, Hebrews tells us that Jesus humbled Himself and chose to suffer on our behalf. Though He is greater than the angels, He lowered Himself for the sake of our salvation.
 
Then verse 10 tells us that Jesus, the source of our salvation, was made “perfect through sufferings.” Was Jesus already perfect? Yes! Here, “perfect” has a bit of a different meaning. We see this meaning in James when we’re told to be patient in trials so that we may become “perfect and complete.” (v. 4). When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He had completed His ministry, and He fulfilled the Lord’s will.
 
And while we walk in this life, Jesus can help us with our temptations because He too was tempted (v. 18). Most importantly, nothing can, or will ever negate what Jesus did on the cross for each one of our souls.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • Hebrews 1

In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment, they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. Key Verses • Hebrews 1:10-12

Daily Devotion

How often do you change your bedsheets? Often enough, I’m sure. You take them off your bed, wad them up, stuff them in the wash, and dry them once they’re clean. Then, you put them back on your bed. This cycle goes on and on every week or so. Eventually, your sheets start to look a bit worn. They’ve been slept on, washed, and dried so many times that they show their wear.
 
Aren’t so many things in life like this? We use things, we wash them to make them clean, but eventually, they wear out. Hebrews 1 tells us that the earth and the heavens are the Lord’s creation, but they too will perish. Yet the Lord remains. Though everything else may grow old like a garment, Jesus, God’s son, remains. Verse 12 says, “Like a cloak, You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” Everything else in this world will fade, falter, and fail, but Jesus will not.
 
The first chapter of Hebrews is an exaltation to Jesus. He is greater, He is higher, and He is better than anything or anyone in this world. He is just (v. 8), He is righteous (v. 9), and He is anointed by God (v. 9). Knowing this, we should approach Jesus as Lord, with a holy and reverent spirit. He is our Lord, our king, and He is above all else.
 
When our clothes wear out, our homes begin to crumble, and our bodies age, we remember to look to Jesus. When we aren’t sure of our steps, we look to Jesus. When we need forgiveness of our sins and uplifting of our souls, we look to Jesus.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 5:13-15

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. Memory Verses • 1 John 5:13-15

Daily Devotion

Have you ever buried a time capsule? The whole concept of a time capsule is fascinating. Time capsules, according to one definition, is a historical collection of goods or information, intended as a method of communication with future generations of what life was like during a period in history.

John says, in the closing verses of this letter, that he is writing this letter not to tell us what life was like some time in the past, but rather what life looks like in a relationship with Christ now. And one of the most significant aspects of life with Christ from every generation is that as followers of Christ we have access to God the Father through prayer and that God hears our prayers, and acts on our behalf.

Pray and thank God today for His gracious salvation through Jesus Christ, His son, and for the opportunity to come to Him through prayer!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 4:7-10

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Memory Verses • 1 John 4:7-10

Daily Devotion

Each game day, I proudly wear the jersey of my favorite football team. It marks me as a fan, and it’s clear who I’m cheering for.  John writes in these verses, that LOVE is the one identifying marker that clearly displays that we’re a follower of God. That’s a pretty bold statement when you think about it.  It means that our church membership, our church activities, aren’t accurate indicators of whether we truly know God.  What does matter?  The way we love.
 
As followers of Jesus, the kind of love that we are meant to be marked by is the same kind of love that God has shown us.  It’s a love that sacrificed everything for us when we were at our very worst, and a love that continues to pursue us! 
 
Today, find rest in the knowledge that God incomparably loves you, and keep your eyes open and ask Him, “How can I share that love today?” 

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 3 John 1

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. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 
Key Verses • 3 John 1:1-5

Daily Devotion

“Be our Guest, be our guest put our service to the test!” These are the words from the famous song in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It is also the motto for one of the principle values of the Disney Corporations, hospitality. Disney understands hospitality is a big deal. They know that if you feel welcomed, comfortable, or like you belong then you are likely to spend more time and money, more likely to come back, and positively share your experience with others. For different reasons hospitality is also a big deal to John and it is one of the main reasons he writes this letter.

John heard about Gaius’ faithfulness and obedience to God. Gaius was walking out his faith, and people were talking about it with John. One particular area of obedience found in verse 5-8. It speaks Gaius’ faithfulness in showing hospitality to other believers as they serve the Lord even though they are strangers to him.

John wanted Gaius, as well as you and I, to know that hospitality is a big deal when it comes to encouraging believers and communicating the Gospel to those who have not yet placed their faith in Christ. Hospitality happens when we welcome others into our lives, letting them know they belong, comforting them and helping them feel comfortable. We can show hospitality to others because we know what it means to be welcomed, to find a place where we belong, to be comforted because that is what Jesus did for us when we came to him, repenting of our sin and placing faith in Him alone.

How might God be calling you to obedience through showing hospitality, to others? How can the simple but obedient act of hospitality be the first step in obedience to share the Gospel?

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 2 John 1

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.

I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work. Key Verses • 2 John 1: 4-11

Daily Devotion

Who’s text message do you get excited about when you receive it? Their kind words can encourage you and lift you up when you are struggling.

When you read 2 John 4-11 can you imagine how exciting it would have been to get this letter from one of Jesus’ very own disciples? How encouraging would it be to learn of John’s excitement and affirmation of their faithfulness in obedience in their walk with Christ?

Who are a couple of people whose words have encouraged to you in your walk with Christ? Who could you encourage today in their walk with Christ?

In verse 7 John moves from encouragement to warning this group of believers to “Watch out that you don’t lose what we have worked for.” We love to be encouraged, but sometimes we struggle to receive warnings like this, especially when we feel like everything is going well. Like John in verses 7-11, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Both Paul and John are aware of the many influences that seek to distort the truth of the Gospel. The truth that life, joy, hope, and peace are only found in a relationship with Christ. John’s warning is one we need to hear and head. Be aware, stay diligent to know and evaluate who, what, and how you are being influenced.

Who or what are the influences in your life? Friends, Neighbors, Culture Icons, Instagram, Facebook, Authors, etc.

How are you being influenced? Are they pointing you to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or to some false idea of where life, joy, hope, and peace can be found?

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 5

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Key Verses • 1 John 5: 2-4

Daily Devotion

History is full of stories of people doing incredible things for love. Countless poems, songs, and great pieces of art are motivated by love. Individuals have given up thrones, built monuments, and spent untold sums of money for the people they love. Parents have forfeited innumerable luxuries even necessities to provide for the people they love.

But as we turn to scripture, God gives us a pretty clear picture of how believers express our love for our Father. It may surprise us to see that God’s instructions for how we love Him are not in the things we give up, the distances we travel, the songs we sing, or how much we spend. The Bible says we declare our love through our obedience to God’s word. Meaning God desires obedience, not our sacrifices. Just read 1 Samuel 15:22. It is not wrong to suggest that God may call us to sacrifice certain things or even go places to share the Gospel. But the single greatest expression of our love for God is by daily, faithful obedience to God and His Word.

That may seem like a heavy burden, or like a lid to joy and a life of satisfaction but John writes “God’s instructions are not burdensome.” God’s words, God’s instruction lead to full life, great joy, and deep satisfaction.

Before you pray, take a second and read Psalms 19:7-14.

Pray:
Lord, we love You because You loved us first! I pray my confession and expression of love would be evident by a life of obedience to You and Your Word. Lord, we want to grow in love with You every day and obey You no matter what the cost.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 4

We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. Key Verses • 1 John 4:19-21

Daily Devotion

We love heroes! We love how they fight the bad guys and win. We love their strength, courage, and bravery! But whether real or fictional one of the most incredible things about our heroes is that heroes make the first move, they run to action, not away from it.

Deep inside all of us, the reason we love and are attracted to heroes is that we know that we are in need of one. We know our lives are a mess, we sense the trouble and the fight deep inside. Scripture affirms this, Colossians 1:21 say “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Colossians 2:13 says we were dead because of our sins.

In 1 John 4:19 we read the hero we are longing for is God. He made the first move, He took action, He fought, He won, and He came to the rescue! But there is more when He rescued us He changed us. In verse 20 the evidence of being loved and saved by Christ our hero is that we love others.

Jesus says the greatest commandment is that we love God, and the second greatest is that we love others. The incredible thing about this is our hope for obedience to Christ’s instruction is not built on our abilities; instead, it is rooted in the ability and action of our hero who loved us first!

Pray:
Lord, help me today to not get this truth out of order, help me not to forget the You are the hero the one who took the first step to love me even when I was unlovable. And help me to love others because You have loved me first, knowing that when we love others, the way You have instructed, lives are transformed for eternity.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 3

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure. Key Verses • 1 John 3:1-3

Daily Devotion

Think about the things that cause you to stop or pause and take notice. Is it the mountains? Is it the sweet sound of a newborn baby cooing? Is it a beautiful piece of art? The Ocean? I can always be stopped in my tracks to watch those incredible videos of when a soldier who was deployed for a long time return home to surprise their family.

John 3:1 begins with the word “SEE.” To the original audience it would have read more like, “turn your attention to this great love….” or “spend time getting to know this great love…” maybe even “inspect, examine, understand, cherish, and pay attention to this great love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God."

It is one thing to read about or even sing about, God’s great love, but how often do we pause to consider, to inspect, to examine, or to understand the Love our Father has lavished on us?

Have you ever wondered why sometimes you struggle to believe that God knows you, that He hears you, and cares for you? Have you ever struggled with the thoughts or feelings that God is distant, or if He loves you and calls you His child? Could it be that John’s one-word instruction might be the most important thing we could do today, to intentionally turn our attention to knowing, understanding, and cherishing the Father’s love that He has lavished on us?

Spend a few minutes now, and consider setting a few reminders for yourself throughout the day to pause and turn your attention to understanding and cherishing this great love the Father has lavished on you.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Memory Verse • 1 John 1:9

Daily Devotion

Admitting that you are wrong is not something any of us particularly like to do. In the circles where we live and work, confession of wrongs and owning up to mistakes it is often perceived as a sign of weakness. However, in God’s economy, nothing could be further from the truth. When we confess our flaws and our faults and our shortcomings to God, He doesn’t hold those against us, but rather faithfully forgives and purifies us from all our sin and all of our unrighteousness.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. Memory Verse • 1 John 1:7

Daily Devotion

To be made clean, a sacrifice was necessary. In our power, wisdom, and might we could not do what Jesus could do. Some people try to work hard their entire lives to impress their god. Many have bought into a lie that God is keeping score, whereas John reminds us that we have fellowship with Him. When we walk with Him, we are made whole and complete thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice. Thank you, God, for the gift of cleansing!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 2

We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did. Key Verses • 1 John 2:3-6

Daily Devotion

You may have had one of those moments when you are giving some direction or instruction to another person. It could be a co-worker, one of your students, or even one of your children. You spend the time mapping out for them what to do, guiding them in their next steps, and then you turn them lose to accomplish the task, only to find they followed none of your instructions and went their way. Not only is this incredibly frustrating for you, but the reality is that the other person made it more difficult for themselves. They made a conscious effort to try and figure it out on their own when you had already given them a playbook.

In our walk with Jesus, to claim we are with Him, we have to walk with Him. Jesus walked on this Earth like no one ever had or ever could, and our response is to be about the things He was about. If we claim to be His, then our lives must reflect the love, compassion, concern, patience, grit, determination, and dependence on God, with which He lived.

If we do not possess these things, it is entirely possible that we are living some watered down version of what He desires. Or if none of His qualities and characteristics are reflected in us, then we must ask ourselves if we even know Him to begin with?

God has placed before us a work to do. He has given us a commission and a calling. However, He has not left us to figure this out on our own. He has given us His word and His examples. Take a minute to stop and ask yourself if your life and the decisions you are making today reflect Him? Or do they reveal something else or someone else?

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 1

This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him, there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. Key Verses • 1 John 1:5-6

Daily Devotion

If you have ever been up in the middle of the night trying to find your way around the house in the darkness, you are taking a big risk. You never know when a chair leg is going to pop out from the dark, when you are going to forget about that step or when a lego is going to be inconspicuously placed in your path. However, all of this can be avoided with a small light. The only way light can illuminate a path though is for the light to penetrate the darkness.

The thing about God is that there is no darkness in Him. His light is so bright that John refers to Him as light. He doesn’t just possess qualities of light. He is not like a flashlight that is turned off and on. Instead, He is light, and because He is light, there is not one ounce of darkness in Him.

As His followers, this is excellent news for us. The fact that He is light means that He will never go dark! He will never cease to be in charge, He will never be unapproachable, and He will never allow us to walk alone in our darkness.

As a result, we seek to walk in fellowship with Him. Because of what He has done for us we seek to come out of the darkness, and the lies, to allow His light to direct our path. We pray that today His light would shine brightly in you and through you to a hurting world.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 2 Peter 3

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Key Verses • 2 Peter 3:8-9

Daily Devotion

You should never pray for patience unless you are truly ready for it! Sometimes in a small group or discussion with friends, people will say they are learning about patience, or they need to grow in patience, and the reality is, we probably could all use a little extra dose of patience. But on a human level, our understanding of patience is so much different from the patience God shows to us. Not only is a thousand years, like a day to the Lord, but His love for us never changes no matter how often we turn our backs and disobey what He is asking us to do.

The Lord promises to walk with us, promises to guide us and thankfully His closeness and His provisions are not contingent on how quick we are to acknowledge Him. Scripture reminds us that the Lord wants everyone to come to repentance and He showers us with His love and reminders of who He is moment by moment.

When was the last time you just stopped and thanked Him for keeping His promises, no matter how many times you went your own way? Rest assured, He is walking with you and truly wants what is best for you. Cling to Him today!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 2 Peter 2

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. Key Verses • 2 Peter 2:1-3

Daily Devotion

You have probably had those moments when someone was trying to explain something to you, and you just nodded your head in agreement, utterly ignorant of what they were talking about. Because they were speaking confidently and passionately (and because you were unclear if what they were saying was accurate or not), then you assumed it must be.

In the days of Simon Peter, not unlike the world we live in today, people will stand behind a microphone, a Twitter handle, an email address, or a personal conversation and spout truth concerning the things of God and how we should respond to things in the world.

The reality is, however, just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true. We could, in fact, slip a half-truth inside this devotional (which we haven’t by the way) and it would be up to you to discern the true from the false. God’s Word, on the other hand, is not heretical, not inaccurate, and not lacking anything. Don’t be swayed or pulled into ways of thinking that are not in alignment with Scripture, because instead of bringing us life, they lead to exploitation and destruction.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 2 Peter 1

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. Memory Verses • 2 Peter 1:5-8

Daily Devotion

For those of us who are A+B=C kind of people, the words of Simon Peter undoubtedly provide us strength and comfort. For those of us who are not, then perhaps we can be just this once? If you have ever wanted to attempt something or grow in some specific area, you have likely found that until you formulate some plan, you will probably not accomplish the things you desire to achieve. To get better at any activity, you have to practice. According to Simon Peter to grow in effectiveness, productivity, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, you have to exercise self-control and perseverance and mutual affection for one another, and then, once those qualities continually increase in your life, they build a hedge of protection around you which keeps you from being ineffective in what you do. It sounds simple enough, yet this very day will be a test. Will I grow in perseverance and love and self-control based on what happens or will I turn inward? Will I turn away from God?

Most of the time, our lives and the situations we experience cannot simply be reduced to equations. Yet God desires for us to try this one out! Grow in the characteristics I seek for you to possess and see what a difference it makes in your ability to do what I have called you to do!

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 John 4:10-11

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Memory Verses • 1 John 4:10-11

Daily Devotion

C.S. Lewis wrote in “The Four Loves” the following truth about friendship. “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” Jesus explained that there isn’t a greater love than giving up one’s life for a friend. (John 15:13) Think about that for a moment. Friendship has no means of helping you survive, but without it, there is no meaning in survival. God saved us for a purpose, partly to show His great love to others through us. Loving others gives value to the effort God made to save and sustain us.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 Peter 2:11-12

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us. Memory Verses • 1 Peter 2:11-12

Daily Devotion

SaltLife is an apparel company created in 2003 by friends who wanted to develop a brand that wasn’t just a logo but a lifestyle. You see SaltLife, and you immediately picture what the Origin Story on the SaltLife website proposes, “the ocean and all it has to offer!” If the term SaltLife is synonymous with the beach, what is the Christian life equivalent within our world? It should be such goodness that other people see God because of us. What qualifies the good life to you?

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 Peter 5

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

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.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen. Key Verses • 1 Peter 5:5-10

Daily Devotion

In “ Acts Network of Church Planters,” Steve Timmis defines God’s Kingdom as, “the Kingdom of God is where the Father's rule is exercised through the Son by the power of the Spirit where that reign and rule of God is willingly obeyed, gloriously displayed, and happily enjoyed among His people."

There’s a word for that. Humility. We’re humble when we recognize God as sovereign Lord over all. He’s in control. We’re humble when we willingly submit to the authority of a God who we know loves us. We’re humble when we happily welcome and enjoy whatever will God exercises because we know deep down that He knows what’s best for us. And contrary to the world’s definition, we’re stronger when we’re humble.

The audience of 1 Peter was a persecuted early church, dispersed all over the Roman empire walking a fine line between fear and faith. These Christians would be fed to wild animals, burned alive, and executed because of the cross. It was the threat of death, coupled with securing day-to-day necessities, and caring for your children that Peter’s audience understood when He instructed them to cast their anxiety on Jesus. Peter, who famously spoke, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” John 6:68 is the one who assured that God cared for them and that God could save.

Peter finished up this chapter by assuring them that the God of grace would restore, but after they had suffered for a little while first. As a reminder, in God’s timeline, a little while could be centuries long. The Kingdom of God includes hard things, and an invitation to trust Him and grow stronger through those things. It will likely be humbling, but it will reveal to us an image of the Kingdom we need. Does your picture of God’s Kingdom humbly include welcomed difficulty for you?

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 Peter 4

Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason, the Gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Key Verses • 1 Peter 4:1-11

Daily Devotion

Extra-biblical rabbinic literature asserted that the genuinely hospitable Jew would have a door on each corner of his or her home, always ready to welcome a stranger from any direction. Lingering longer around the dinner table was of added merit because that allowed for the slightly tardy poor to arrive and partake of a much-needed meal. In our party planning culture, we look at hospitality as setting the prettiest table and baking the best pie.

In Judaism, hospitality was more than just a welcoming smile. It was an act of obedience observed as ritual worship. Lack of it was among the worst kind of sins. Old Testament law was heavily sprinkled with direct commands regarding hospitality and generosity toward strangers. Guests (and by guests, we mean total strangers) were to be extended the hand of friendship and protection. They were to be given a bed, a meal, and a loving offer to participate in family and tribal festivities, Passover included as long as the males among them were willing to submit to a little something called circumcision.

Let’s look at what it means to be pro-Kingdom. It means a picture of unparalleled hospitality. It means welcoming the unwanted in the way God greeted us. It means flinging wide open the doors to our church campuses, the doors to our individual homes, and the doors to our very lives. According to Peter’s letter to the dispersed first-century Christ-followers under attack, we are to do it without grumbling. The goal is to use whatever gifts we’ve been given in service to others, any others, all others, those we know and according to Jewish hospitality definitions, those we don’t. Who are you welcoming into your life and offering a Kingdom-focused gift of service today? Keep reading Peter’s words. That kind of service may cost us and cause us suffering. True hospitality makes us far more like Jesus than we ever thought possible.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 Peter 3

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 
Key Verses • 1 Peter 3:8-16

Daily Devotion

1 Peter 3:8 in the NIV uses the compound word “like-minded” to speak of the unity with which we are to operate as believers. It’s the first in a series of descriptions which includes being loving, sympathetic, compassionate, and humble. All these characteristics compose a proper depiction of the Kingdom we are to strive for and will one day be a part of when Christ returns. The NASB uses the more melodic word, “harmonious,” in place of like-minded. It’s easy to see the picture of unity described by both.

In Greek, the word for harmonious is “homophron.” We understand that the prefix homo- means “man” in Latin. In Greek, it’s homos- and means “one” or “same.” It’s easy to see how “homophron” could translate to both harmonious and like-minded. However, there is something about that word harmony that conjures up a different image for us.

Harmony isn’t singing or playing the same part. It’s performing your part in tune with others. Unity doesn’t mean that we are exactly the same. It means we operate in tune with others in harmony. That’s a picture of the Kingdom we want to capture, perfect harmony with one another in our church, community, and around the world.

Living in Music City means plenty of trained musical ears in our midst. Professionals in the industry can always hear when a guitar is out of tune. They know when a singer isn’t breathing correctly or even if they’re slightly offbeat. We’re “homo sapiens” after all. There is always a margin for error even in the most beautiful music, but that doesn’t preclude effort. This side of heaven, we’ll never achieve Kingdom perfection. According to Peter, it’s our calling and our blessing (vs. 9). Consider this: What is your unified part of Christ’s melody? Are you in or out of tune with His Kingdom?

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 Peter 2

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still, other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Key Verses • Matthew 13:1-23

Daily Devotion

Everyone has heard the iconic phrase accompanying Nashville’s growth over the past seven years. Since 2011, 100 new people per day have made our portion of middle TN home. This year, that average cooled a bit and settled at an average of 94. The boom continues, just not quite as loudly as before.

In new construction, the foundation is more important than any other part of the build. It carries the entire weight of the home. Before engineers land on the right type of foundation to use on a particular project, soil composition is factored in. True where we’re concerned too.

Read 1 Peter 2 and focus on verses 4-8. Christ, although rejected by some, is the cornerstone of our faith, in which we are being built up together as His Church. When it comes to receiving Christ as our cornerstone, Jesus Himself had a good bit to report on the matter. He called the word of God a seed that was being planted in our lives. Matthew 13 records the “Parable of the Sower.” Four distinct responses to the gospel are recorded through the metaphor of seeds and soil.

If the type of building is determined by the foundation and the foundation by the soil, perhaps the Christ-followers we become won’t only be determined by having Him as our cornerstone, but also by the manner in which we receive Him.

As the greater Nashville area continues to grow, our prayer is that Rolling Hills, in all three campuses, will do the same. Church growth is indicative of Kingdom expansion. Our growth is determined by our foundation on Christ. That foundation is determined by the soil of the heart that receives Him. Pray for all the 94’s who are moving here and really receptive soil (hearts) to receive Jesus and become part of the new construction.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 Peter 1

Through Him, you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Key Verse • 1 Peter 1:21

Daily Devotion

Binoculars are two telescopes attached together in the middle, one for each eye. Let’s oversimplify something rather complex and cool for a minute. How do binoculars work? The objective lens at the end of each tube captures light and creates a focussed image behind the lens. The eyepiece lens magnifies the picture and allows you to see up close and personal, things far off in the distance. But there’s a problem. When light rays from a distant object pass through a convex lens, they cross over or appear upside down. Enter the inner workings of your binoculars - a set of prisms which rotate the image 180 degrees, so that whatever we see seems right side up.

Scripture for us is like a pair of binoculars allowing us to see more closely a kingdom that seems far away. If the Old Testament served as the objective lens to help us capture light and experience Jesus, the gospels (Matthew-John) are the eyepiece putting Christ in our line of sight. The remainder of the New Testament writings is like those prisms, helping us see truth from just the right angle. Without guys like Peter and Paul, the Old Testament prophets and even New Testament gospels can get mixed up.

We’re viewing that which, Peter says, the prophets searched for and that angels long to see. God has given us an incredible tool to help us not only see but experience His Kingdom - through Christ. That only comes through salvation, which is only available through Jesus. Our For the Kingdom series is a look at Jesus by way of some great Old and New Testament lenses that help us see just how good we have it in Christ. Today, read 1 Peter 1 and ask God to help you see things clearly, right side up.

 

 

 

 

Daily Reading • 1 Chronicles 28

And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.
Key Verses • 1 Chronicles 28:9-10

Daily Devotion

Let’s make a commitment together. For the next 50 days, let’s invest our lives in what will last. Together let’s “reach out, grow up, and give all” for the glory of our great God. As we enter into this new initiative at Rolling Hills called, “For the Kingdom,” let’s commit to pray, serve, and give our best. Our God used David and Solomon, and now it is our turn. We are God’s Church today. Let’s “be strong and courageous and do the work.” During these next 50 days, take a “Next Step” in your spiritual life – give your life fully to Christ, pray, read God’s Word, be baptized, join a Community Group, become a church partner or whatever God is calling you to do next with Him. Then, on November 4, let’s make a three-year pledge, over-and-above our tithe, to invest together in His Kingdom. Our best days are still ahead, so let’s join together and invest “For the Kingdom!”

 

 

 

  

 

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