Daily Devotional 10-30-19

Jesus, the Game Changer 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.  Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.  And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”  So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. Exodus 15:22-25

Imagine someone promised to lead you out of a dire problem. And, yes, the person delivers the promise. You get excited. But, the excitement is short-lived.  Just when you thought it was all over, another problem rears its ugly head. This was the situation of the Israelites. Israel had crossed the Red Sea. Freedom was in the air! But wait, their next station was in a plain where the water was bitter. They called it Marah, meaning “bitter” in Hebrew. God worked a miracle through Moses with a stick that made the bitter water sweet enough for drinking. 

For us Christians, Christ Jesus is our Game Changer. Jesus’ followers do experience bitter experiences in life. Sometimes it is hard to grasp why the one who follows Jesus suffers, while the unbeliever enjoys life with ease (Psalm 73). Just as one prayer gets answered another prayer request comes up. Sometimes, it appears your commitment, dedication, and services to God are met with bad luck. Sometimes it appears the heavens are shut on you while the ungodly prosper in life. The pastor says “God is good” but your condition speaks contrary.

The experiences of the Israelites have become a metaphor for Christians.

Just as the stick turned the water from bitter to sweet, so does Christ make the difference for us.  Whenever we invite Him into a particular bitter situation he turns things around for our good. In the end we come out better, appreciating His goodness. Sometimes, He may turn the bitterness into sweetness; other times He may not but will give you what it takes to go through the bitterness and come out better and brighter with much appreciation. He knows how to sustain you through the bitter seasons of life.

PRAYER: I invite you, Christ, the Living Water, into my situation. Quench my thirst with your living water. Help me be a sweetener in someone’s bitterness. 

Daily Devotional 10-29-19

Yielded Hearts
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Acts 13:22

Saul, the first king of Israel was self-willed.  And, this led him to overstep his responsibility.  He offered a sacrifice to God.  It is worth noting that offering sacrifice was the sole responsibility of the priest.  And, Saul’s action of disobedience displeased God; consequentially, God rejected him as king over Israel.  Then God instructed Samuel, the prophet to anoint David as the next king.  Interestingly, God referred to David as a man after His own heart

This “title” given to David may portray him as a perfect man, blameless and impeccable in all his ways, a man who would obey all of God’s commandments.  But, if you are very familiar with the narratives about David in the Bible, you may wonder why God gave him that description.  Among many things, David lusted after someone’s wife, committed adultery with and impregnated her, and plotted the murder of the husband of the said woman.  That’s the man after God’s own heart! 

You see—what endeared David to God was not his perfection, but his yieldedness. 

It seems to me God is not looking for perfect people but yielded hearts.  A heart that will humbly acknowledge and surrender to God.  A heart that would recognize its sinfulness, repents and ask for forgiveness.  This was the distinguishing character of David.  He had many flaws, but he knew how to get back to God whenever he fell into sin. 

There is only one Person who was perfect in his earthly life—The Man Jesus.  Of Him, God said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”, Matt. 17:5.  David was a human king, a deliverer, who pointed to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords—Christ, The King. 

And, in Jesus, you are chosen and loved. Therefore, we respond to God’s love by yielding our hearts to Him.  It is a life of surrender.  And, if you sin, don’t make a bed in your sin.  Rise up with repentance and receive the gift of forgiveness from your loving Father.

PRAYER: Lord, grant me the grace to yield all my hearts to you. Help me empty myself of me, and be filled with you.

Daily Devotional 10-28-19

I Stand for Christ
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods!” Joshua 24:15-16

So, Joshua had gathered the Israelites after they had settled in the Promised Land—Canaan. He narrated the history of God’s intervention and blessings throughout the journey, beginning with their father, Abraham, up to their present time. He brought to their mind the many breakthroughs they had and were enjoying because God had been on their side, fulfilling all the promise He had made to them. This occasion was crucial because Joshua knew the history of idolatry among the Israelites. But, as a leader, he did not want them to betray God anymore. 

Joshua gave them a choice: to serve the gods of the Amorites who live in Canaan or serve the One and True God. And, he indicated his stand: his family will serve the True God. Fortunately, the entire assembly responded that they would worship the True God. Joshua was not only seeking a choice from them. He wanted them also to make a confession in Jehovah.

I see the story of the Israelites as representative of the story of the relationship between humanity and God. I don’t just see culture in the Old Testament. Rather, I see the condition of the human heart.  In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul tells us the story of the Israelites serves as an example for us all.

Just like the Israelites, we all experience the seduction from our culture. This comes in many forms, shapes, and sizes. As some of the Israelites fell, so may some Christians fall to these subtleties from the culture. But, there is grace and mercy in Christ Jesus to recover and stand again. 

The good news is that in Christ Jesus, God has chosen us (1 Peter 2:9). All we have to do is to respond to his choice with an affirmation by serving Him.

In the midst of the alternatives, opinions and options, Christ is inviting us to make up our mind for him, as Johsua did for Yahweh. Friends, we have no choice, but Christ! There is nothing in this world that can satisfy us like Christ. Wait a minute. The invitation is for you and your family. So, do well to encourage your spouse, kids, and grandkids to devote their life to and serve Christ.

PRAYER: Lord, help me in my conviction for Christ. May I keep my heart undefiled by the idols in our culture.

Daily Devotional 10-25-19

Walk Humbly  
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

During one of my bible studies session, I made an observation: most of the people who come for bible studies have tasted of strong faith in God, they are well versed in the scriptures, and some have the call of God on their lives.

In our text today, Paul draws on the experience of the Israelites as an example for the Christians in Corinth. They experienced the tangibility of God in many ways, but He was not pleased with them. They walked under the cloud of God; they all passed through the Red Sea, as a baptism; they drank from the same spiritual Rock, who was Christ; and they tasted of the heavenly manna.  Yet, they displeased Him with their way of living, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Paul, then, explained all those stories were written as an example for us so that we may not take Christ for granted. The Israelites felt special and on top of the then world, but that whole generation perished without inheriting the Promised Land. 

From this background, Paul advises Christians not to be puffed up because of their relationship with Christ. He envisaged the possibility of falling away of those standing today.

I see two postures in his advice: humility and intercession. 

Humility will make you recognize that it is possible to fall (this would mean differently to different people). Sometimes we feel so great about ourselves, and we are tempted to condemn others who may not be walking tall as we do. Oftentimes, those who assume such invincibility suffer wrecked, and usually, the wreck is great. Therefore, let humility draw you into intercession—always trusting yourself into the arms of Christ to keep you. And, pray for those who may have made mistakes and are suffering the consequences for it. You are not in competition with anybody in this life. I encourage you to have compassion towards those who are down in life, pray for them. And, if possible, help lift them to their feet—knowing you could be in a similar spot. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant me the grace to be humble before you that I may not fall.  May I become a vessel to lift someone up today. 

Daily Devotional 10-24-19

A Prayer of Protection 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever. Psalm 125:2

The Psalmist introduces us to the God of Protection.  A Father who loves His children enough to guard and shield them from the evil one.  As a lioness protects her cubs, so the Lord’s eyes are upon those who trust in Him.

The word “surrounds” describes a “circuit” that encompasses every side and all around. Zechariah 2.5 states: “For I”, declares the Lord, “will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.”  Have you realized this promise has no shelf life?  It is an indefinite protection plan that comes at no cost to you.  The “premium” is your trust in the Lord.

From the depth of my heart:

May the Lord protect your going out and coming in.
May the Lord protect your children and grandchildren, their marriages and jobs.
May the Lord protect your health.
May the Lord protect your mind from the devices of the enemy.
May the Lord protect your home against any invasion of spiritual wickedness.
May the Lord protect you as you drive in your car.
May the Lord protect you from anxieties.
May the Lord protect your marriage and other relationships.
May the Lord protect your projects.
May the Lord project your dreams, visions and holy ambitions.
May the Lord protect your spiritual vitality. 
And, may the Lord protect your life.

Daily Devotional 10-23-19

By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Those who trust in the Lord, Are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.  Psalm 125:1

At 2510 feet, Mount Zion is the location of Jerusalem. Though it is not the highest point in the mountain range that surrounds Jerusalem, it still provides a natural defense for Jerusalem.  Mount of Olives is to its east, Mount Scopus to its north, and to the west and south are other hills that lead to Bethlehem and Hebron.

In our text today, the writer uses this backdrop to describe and compare the Lord and His people. He compares the faith of the righteous as being immovable like Mount Zion and the Lord as the mountains and hills that surround and defend Jerusalem. 

In Matthew 27:24-27, Jesus gave a parable that suggests that your faith and life will be tested by the events in life.  We live in a world where suffering and evil happen to people.  Whiles, we may not be able to prevent some of these from happening, our faith in Christ enables us to respond faithfully.  The truth is we can go through challenging events and still come out better.  Zion essentially means fortification.  Thus, the Psalmist inspires trust in the Lord.  He invites us to place our confidence, and hope in the Lord.  He encourages that such people will never be shaken or be displaced.  No matter the storms in life that may beat against you, you can rest in and trust Christ Jesus who abides forever.

Have you experienced a situation that threw you apart?  Do you know someone whose life is being thrown into pieces right now?  Christ Jesus is a sure foundation and refuge for you, your family and your friends.  This is so true for the Psalmist that he affirms his security and salvation in the Lord by saying “…when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2).

Have you any cares and tares?                                                                                                                                             Have you any fears with tears?                                                                                                        Have you any anxieties?                                                                                                                     Have you any hopelessness?                                                                                                                              Christ is the Cure!                                                                                                                                     Put your trust in Him, and let Him be your Trust

PRAYER:  Precious Lord, hold my hands, lead me on, and help me stand.  Grant me the grace to keep Christ as my trust.

Daily Devotional 10-22-19

People Choose Condemnation
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:18-19

Love cannot be coerced. People should be free to choose it. The nature of love is such that, it takes only willing hearts to offer and mutually enjoy it. Even, for God, love is not forced. It is not His character to force anything on us. He has given us the gift of responsibility and free will to choose for ourselves, having exposed us to His love. And, I sincerely believe we do not do justice to the text if we just focus on the original saving intent of God in verses16-17, and don’t talk about the reality in verses 18-19. 

Christ died for All; All have received His love; All will not receive His love. This is a painful reality.

Imagine this: a poor homeless man is given a check of $500,000 by somebody. That gift can change this man for the rest of his life. But, the check is useless if it does not hit the bank. He will still be hungry and wretched unless he cashes the check. This is the reality of lots of people. Christ has handed to people, the check of His love. They just have to cash that love with their faith in Him. His death on the cross did not automatically offer salvation to all people. It only opened the door. And, people must walk through the door into God’s family.

The text says, “men loved darkness over light.” How sorry that people would love darkness, and reject the light in Christ. God does not condemn. People choose condemnation. God does not send people to hell. People choose hell. Yes, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about condemnation, but we must understand that the Gospel does not force its gifts and blessings on people. And, sadly, the Gospel will not find a home in every heart. This is sad. It is not what God intended, but that is the reality. 

Have you received Jesus? Then keep walking in Him. And, don’t look back.

PRAYER: Help me Holy Spirit, to continue to trust in your rich love and grace for me. Open the eyes of those who have not seen you yet, that they may come and taste of your goodness

Daily Devotional 10-21-19

God’s Saving Intent 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16

God is so powerful He can work with broken and messy situations. He does not need a perfect system to work. In fact, there is no perfect system outside Him. He created a beautiful world out of chaos (Genesis 1:2). Humans cannot handle messed up situations because we have limited capacity in dealing with such. We either reject people who are “messed up” or create a system to make them feel comfortable in their brokenness. Either way is not God’s choice. The powerful God stepped into a broken world and offered His Son so that through Him the messed-up world be saved. This, He did, because of His love.

It is important to recognize that God’s intention is to save the world with all its inhabitants. Not just a fraction. The original intent of God is to save ALL people. This original intent would be carried out in Jesus Christ. I want to emphasize that Salvation is only found in Jesus Christ! There is no other way to the Father! Religion is only a human attempt to satisfy the void that could only be filled by God. It is an attempt to go up to God. Faith in Christ means God has come down to you instead. It is not about how nice, good, kind a person is; faith in Christ is the only way out. 

Condemnation is not the way of God. I say this because, in Christ, there is an abundance of mercy and grace to meet each person. Don’t give up without tasting the goodness of God in Christ Jesus. People are not going to be saved on their terms. Jesus is the term of God in whom ALL people may be saved. There may be many religions out there, but God’s kingdom is made manifest only in Christ Jesus. 

I don’t know about you, but the more I trace the current affairs of this world, the more my faith in Christ Jesus is strengthened. I have become ever resolute that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me the grace to remain unshaken in my conviction about Jesus Christ!

Daily Light 10-18-19

Jesus, Are You There? 10/18/19
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “’Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’”  And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:38-41

He was in a boat with His discipleship crossing to the other side of the sea. The storm arose and the winds blew, beating the boat, with water filling it. The disciples were thrown into fear, but Jesus slept on peacefully. They awoke Him and asked, “Do You not care that we are perishing?” Their question was born out of fear and worry, and not out of faith. They knew of His capabilities, but He seemed not to care. Jesus arose and rebuked the wind. Picture Jesus standing up and saying to the wind, “Wind, how dare you intimidate my disciples?” “Peace, be still!” And what happened afterward made the jaws of the disciples drop. The word fear means they were struck with amazement.

The disciples transitioned from worrying to wonderment.   

If you find yourself stuck in a situation, and maybe feeling disappointed, even in Christ, don’t worry. Just. Hold. On. Your worry will soon turn into wonder, and your anxieties into amazement. You see, the disciples knew Jesus could do something, but did not know exactly what he could. The occasion became a doorway for them to experience His power in a different dimension.  Keep on praying; keep on trusting; keeping on faithing. And, soon, wonder will break out of your worry.

I encourage you to channel your anxieties into prayer. “Wake Him up” with your persistent and ceaseless prayers and praises. Your situation is going to lead you to encounter Christ as never before.  He will blow your mind with His love.

Jesus, are you there? Yes, I am. And, behold, my grace walks with you to see my wonder.

PRAYER: Precious Lord, hold my hands to stand till I see your Wonder. With you, in my vessel I will smile at the storm.