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Daily Devotional 2-14-20

Living as Saved
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Then the Lord said, “I have seen how cruelly my people are being treated in Egypt; I have heard them cry out to be rescued from their slave drivers. I know all about their sufferings, and so I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them out of Egypt to a spacious land, one which is rich and fertile and in which the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Exodus 3:7-8

I love the stories of the Israelites in the Old Testament. They reveal the richness of God’s love for His people. Those narratives are metaphors for us, Christians, today. They also lead us to appreciate and appropriate the love of God in Christ. For example, the story of the Israel’s exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land is a metaphor for the Christian’s salvation and deliverance from sin and the world into the kingdom of God. 

The Israelites had been in slavery in Egypt for centuries. One word, bondage, summarized their life. They were hopeless, with no sign of rescue from the wickedness of their masters. They lived and raised their families in bondage so much that suffering became normal to them. Each day came with the expectation to be hurt by the very economy they suffered to build. Not feeling pain was an occasional blessing! Worse off, they had no idea of the true God of their ancestor Abraham. 

Then God commissions a deliverer, Moses, to lead the Israelites from Egypt. And, in His words to Moses, He said, “I have seen how cruelly my people are being treated…” You see, the Israelites did not know God, but God knew them. Before He gave them the law He called them “my people.” He gave them the law after they were saved from bondage. God wanted them to live as his treasured people, so he gave them the laws. The same is true for Christians today.  God saved us not because we obeyed some rules, but because we simply believed and accepted Jesus Christ as our savior and Lord. We respond, then, to God’s love with the way we live. Thus, belief leads to behavior.

My dad loved me wholly when I was a kid. He knew when to discipline and pamper me. But, as a child I did not understand why sometimes he did not allow me to do what I wanted. Now I understand. When he did not allow me to have my way, He was preventing me from trouble.

Friends, the only way we show that we have been saved by grace is how we live our lives. Do not see God’s invitation to live right as burdensome; see it as a way of responding to His love in Christ Jesus.  

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me the grace to live as one saved from sin. Help me to lift up the weak and not condemn them.



Daily Devotional 2-13-20

Relationship, Not Rituals. 2/13/20
By Velma Tim

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

When I was young in my faith in Christ, I had very abstract concepts of God. Yes, I knew God loved me but that was not a reality to me. I knew there was something called “a relationship with God” but that was just a mental accent. I could not see the practicality of it. To me, God was far removed from the daily realities of my life. Now, I have grown in my faith, to some extent, and can fully grasp the idea that God longs for a relationship with us. God greatly desires a relationship with us because even He is a Person who can be grieved, (Ephesian 4:30). 

Religious rituals had been an integral part of the Jews. They had different rituals to perform at different times. In fact, some of the rituals came with strict instructions to ensure their efficacy.  But, when Jesus came to the scene, His teachings did not only wreck the minds of the Pharisees but challenged and changed their long-held religious concepts. In this particular text, Jesus indicates that in the kingdom of God relationship is more important than a ritual. Jesus literally says relationship is first, ritual is second. 

Note that Jesus did not snub the ritual of giving. He only placed it in the right order relative to relationship. Therefore, prayer, bible study, fasting, giving, and any other spiritual discipline are all good, but they must not take the place and importance of a relationship. The rightfully observed spiritual discipline and ritual will prepare and position us to honor God and the relationships around us. Thus, in the kingdom of God, spiritual disciplines are not the goal; it’s the relationship with God and others.

Never get so spiritually high that you cannot connect with another human being.

I hope that love for one another will become the reason and the motivation for all we do in life.  How we relate to a person is more important than how rigorous and regular we may pray. I encourage you to let the constancy of your rituals lead to the constancy of your love for one another.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me to become more loving in my pursuit of life.



Daily Devotional 2-12-20

A Sure Foundation 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:24-27

Life, they say, is not fair. And, yes, this rings so true if you have lived long enough on this beautiful planet. You may have encountered many challenges, and you may have even asked, “Why me, God?”  Well, Jesus did not promise a trouble-free faith. In fact, He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33). 

In the kingdom of God, obedience distinguishes the wise from the foolish. He identifies the wise person as someone who walks according to the word of God. Wise people are excited about a word from God. They are more concerned about how the word transforms and shapes their lives.  They submit and adhere to the full counsel of the word of God. He who is wise finds assurance, safety, and peace in the word of God, as opposed to the unwise who seeks peace outside of Christ and His word. The unwise, according to Jesus, is only a hearer and a non-practitioner of the word. An invitation to the obedience of God’s word may seem harsh and cold to the one who builds his life in the sand, but the doer of the word of God surely builds his life on Christ––the sure foundation for our life.

Whatever we seek to build, be it, marriage and other relationships, finances, social significance, job, ministry, family life, etc., it will be tested through stress, discouragement, disappointments, anxiety, sickness, loss, disconnections, etc.  The one who walks with the word of God shall be upheld, but the disobedient shall crumble. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9), because we have a sure foundation—Christ Jesus. 

You may behave contrary to God’s word some of the time, but don’t make disobedience a lifestyle. Arise, repent, accept Christ’s forgiveness and live the beautiful life He saved you to live.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, free me from myself into obedience in you



Daily Devotional 2-11-20

The Bliss of Broken Heart 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

The word meek is one that is not favored. It has almost assumed a negative posture. It carries with it an idea of weakness and cowardice. It paints a picture of an ineffective creature. But, Biblically, this is not so. In fact, God described Moses as a meek person in saying, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth,” (Numbers 12:3). Yet, Moses was a very strong and effective leader. 

Praus, translated as meek, was one of the great Greek ethical words. It was used to describe an animal that has been domesticated and trained to obey a command. It was the word for the animal that has learned to accept control. Therefore, importing this idea into our contemporary sense we may say: blessed is the person who is God-controlled; blessed is the person who yields to the invitations of God; or blessed is the person who submits their instincts, impulses, and passions to the control of the Holy Spirit. It is these kinds of people that Jesus said would inherit the earth. They have their senses under discipline. These people are not necessarily weak or wishy-washy. They are not cowards. They are not fearful. They just have their senses under control. They know when to express the right emotions. They could be very angry, but their anger is expressed at the right time for the right reason.  

It is no wonder that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). God does not desire the unwise and unguided letting loose of all sorts of emotions and instincts. Paul saw the necessity of meekness in ministry and life, and he practiced it. Thus, he said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified,” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

You will be tempted. Someone might say something terrible about you and you might desire to retaliate. The pressure might be all on you and you feel like exploding and letting it all out in ways that do not honor God and the relationships around you. Just remember, blessed are those who have their instincts and passions under God’s control.

PRAYER: Lord, when I am overwhelmed by negative emotions, grant me the grace of meekness, to honor you and relationships around me.



Daily Devotional 2-10-20

The Bliss of the Destitute
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

Poverty is not a word we want to be associated with. The poor are often isolated, if not ostracized by society. In fact, the wisdom of the poor is even despised. So, we work hard to get ourselves in a decent place in society. Therefore, it is quite surprising that Jesus would begin His teaching with an emphasis on the richness of the poor in spirit. 

In Greek, the word poor means utter/absolute destitution. It describes poverty beaten to its knees. Also, in Hebrew, poverty describes a person who has no earthly resource, and as a result, has put his trust in God. Therefore, putting the two meanings could read something like, “blessed is the person who has realized his/her helplessness and has put his/her trust in God.” This poverty has two sides of blessing: a complete detachment from things, and an attachment to God. Such poverty knows that life does not consist of the abundance of possession. It knows that true happiness and security do not come from things. “The man who is poor in spirit knows that things mean nothing and that God means everything,” (Barclay).

I do not think that Jesus calls actual material poverty blessed. It is not a blessing to live in slums, and not have enough to eat. The state of homelessness resulting in people sleeping under bridges with no basic human provisions cannot be described as blessed from a scriptural perspective.  The kind of poverty which is blessed, is the poverty of the spirit: when a person realizes his/her utter lack of resources to meet life and finds help and strength in God. Blessed is the person who utterly depends on God!

Independence from God is a curse and sin, and no child of God must embrace it. Our children come of age and leave our homes to start their own lives. While some find this freeing, others can’t imagine it. But, in our spiritual walk, we cannot grow out of our dependence on God.  Spiritual poverty will keep you connected to God, who is the Source of your life. Therefore, stay connected and dependent on Him.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me the humility to realize that I am what I am by your grace. May I live to depend on you, and depend on you to live. Amen.



Daily Devotional 2-7-20

The Heart of a Child 
By Velma Tim

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:15-16

In both the Old and New Testaments the term “kingdom” is understood as dynamic in nature and refers primarily to the rule or reign of a king. This is very significant, because Jesus tells his followers that until they receive His kingdom like children, they will not enter it. What is it about the character of children that we can emulate as we pursue God’s kingdom and reign on earth?

  • Children are very tender at heart, forgiving, and follow instructions (sometimes they struggle with the latter).
  • Their parents shape them. Most of the time, their outcome in life is based on what their parents, school, church, and culture teach them. In Proverbs 22:6, God encourages us to train children in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from the truth. This means we must allow God and His word to shape and mold us. 
  • Children have complete trust in their parents. Kids trust their parents; they know their parents will provide safety and security for them. A child will easily take a risk and try new things when they have parental support. As adults, God calls us to trust Him. This means having child-like faith and confidence. We often love to analyze everything and only follow God’s instructions when it makes sense to us. Children just trust and believe in their parents.
  • Children are dependent on parents. A child-like dependence does not lead to enslavement; rather, it empowers them to be all they were made to be. As children of God, he wants us to rely on him, depend on his leadership, protection, provision, etc. We can rely on him in every situation and he will not fail us.

When we experience God’s kingdom and reign in our lives, we experience His own kind of life. We enter His shalom and this happens as we cultivate a child-like heart.

PRAYER: Lord, give me a child-like heart.  Help me not to become too grown up before you.  Amen.



Daily Devotional 2-6-20

Don’t Worry About the Stones
By Velma Tim

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. Mark 16:1-4

Life is filled with many obstacles. Some are big, some are small, but they are everywhere along our journey and we must remove or overcome them in order to reach our destination.

In our text, these women who genuinely loved their master were on their way to anoint Jesus. They left their homes knowing there was a rock over the tomb they could not roll away, but they still embarked on the journey. Their knowledge about the rock did not stop them; rather, in faith and love, they journeyed to the tomb. Miraculously, they didn’t have to worry about the rock because it was rolled away before they got there. Though their master had resurrected, they were able to go into the tomb and see his clothing without any obstacles. Their love for Jesus and their devotion to him influenced them to start a journey not knowing how the obstacle would be taken care of.  

Sometimes the things God instructs us to do will not be easy to accomplish. The enemy will always try to place obstacles in our path. Like these women, we have to keep our focus and take steps toward the goal. We cannot sit and wait for an obstacle to be removed before stepping out in faith. Christ invites us into obedience even when we do not have all the answers.

As you start your day today, do not allow any obstacle to stop you from embarking on a journey, rather, let it motivate you. Behind the stone is something precious that we are looking for and it is worth all the sacrifice. Therefore, do not worry about the stone, because as you take steps in faith God will send his angel to roll it away.

PRAYER: Lord, give me the grace to take steps towards your promises knowing that you would meet me on the way.



Daily Devotional 2-5-20

Made for Radiance 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“You are the salt of the earth…Matthew 5:13

The greatest and most obvious quality of salt is that it lends flavor to food. Food without salt is sadly insipid, and even, a sickening thing. That is why most restaurants have saltshakers so that customers can enjoy the level of saltiness they so desire.  As salt is to food, so is Christianity to life. Christianity lends flavor to life. The unfortunate thing is that so often people have connected Christianity with the very opposite, with the notion that Christianity takes the flavor out of life. 

We need to discover the lost radiance and beauty of the Christian faith. In a worrying world, the Christian should be the person who remains serene. In a depressing world, the Christian should be filled with joy in abundance. The follower of Jesus should be an igniter of joy and radiance. 

When I was growing up in the faith, I became so spiritually minded that I did not know how to play. I was always serious. I loved to seclude, pray, study the word of God, and listen to my favorite preachers. These helped me to grow some “spiritual muscles.” They were extremely beneficial to the spiritual formation that prepared me for this vocation. But, on the flip side, I could not hold the balance between practicing those spiritual disciplines and playing. I usually forgot that it was okay to be a good Christian and still have fun. Some of us grew up in Christian traditions and homes where strict Christian disciplines were enforced. We were taught to be quiet during worship; as such, we could not express the joy we felt in our hearts. Something beautiful in us was suppressed. Sometimes, we want sing out, raise our hands as a respond to a song in worship, but we suppress it because we do not want people to see us as weird.

Reading about the life of Jesus reveals how often people would surround and follow Him, including kids. There was something electrifying and inviting about Him. Jesus knew how to relate to everyone on the street. The sinners loved Him; the Pharisees liked talking with Him (often trying to have an occasion to accuse Him). Men and women, elderly and young, the greatest and least, were all fascinated about Him. Jesus was a mover and shaker. He knew how to seclude as well as engage. The early church had such Christian flavor in the surrounding culture.  They were socially and religiously a minority, yet they lived out their saltiness. No wonder the Lord kept adding to their numbers (Acts 2:42-47).

So, let loose the joy, radiance, energy, laughter, beautiful expressions, and warmth that is in you.

PRAYER: May I live out and “infect” others with the radiant beauty of your presence in my life. 



Daily Devotional 2-4-20

Made for Preservation   
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“You are the salt of the earth…Matthew 5:13

Salting is the preservation of food with dry edible salt. It is related to pickling in general and more specifically to brining, and is one form of curing. Salt has been used as a preservative since ancient times to protect food against bacteria, mold, and spoiling. However, because of the emergence of refrigeration and other methods of food preservation, the need for salt as a preservative has decreased. 

Plutarch, a philosopher, has an interesting way of commenting on the significance of salt. He says that “meat is a dead body and part of a dead body, and will, if left to itself, go bad; but, salt preserves it and keeps it fresh and is therefore like a new soul inserted into a dead body.” Interesting. So then, salt preserves from corruption. Therefore, if the Christian is to be the salt of the earth, he must have a certain antiseptic influence on life. 

The world has no power on its own to prevent decadence. This is more of a reason for Christians to engage in the public spaces with their antiseptic influence through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Christian does not shy away from but shines and lives out the values and virtues of Christ, it prevents others from going down a certain wrong path. I was in a meeting recently where a colleague shared an interesting story. She was invited to a party, and when she got there, the party had already started and people were having fun drinking, and doing all sorts of things.  Immediately the people dropped their bottles, and it almost felt the party was over. Her presence was prophetic. It challenged the party fellows to evaluate their conduct. What a way to be a living testimony, when your life is so filled by God that you don’t even have to speak, but your mere presence commands light and darkness varnishes!    

If you are truly living out the Christian life, people around you cannot tell certain soiled tales.  Christ invites us to be the cleansing antiseptic in society. Our presence should defeat corruption and make it easier for people to do good.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, give me the grace, that my presence in people’s lives would enable them to choose light over darkness.