Daily Devotional 10-4-19

Spiritual Blessings    
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3

The book of Ephesians is small but mighty and heavy with content. It highlights our position in Christ. Paul opens our eyes to realize the spiritual blessings with which we were blessed when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. Knowing your position in life is crucial. It affects how you relate to yourself, to others, and how you respond to life. It offers new perspective on matters spiritual and natural.

In today’s text, Paul reminds us of our inheritance in Christ Jesus. He emphasizes that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ. Paul is someone who chose and worded his thoughts very carefully. He used the word “blessed.”  The blessing has happened already in Christ Jesus. We have been blessed already! We are not trying to get Jesus to bless us. We are the blessed ones of the Lord.

We don’t live for blessings; we live from blessing!  

We are not supposed to beg God to bless us. He has already given us what we are asking from Him. The message is in the grammar. We are blessed by God. We are supposed to conduct our lives knowing that we have been blessed already. We have to walk, respond to life’s events, relate to people, and see the world from a position of blessing. 

Another dimension of this blessing is that we have no lack in Christ because we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Every. Every. There is no area in our lives where God has not blessed us. Wow! God has already provided everything. Do you have the eyes and faith to see it?

We don’t have to starve in life; God has provided everything essential for our lives in Christ.

Arise. Lose yourself from any shackle. Renew your mind. And, walk from the position of spiritual blessing. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see the blessings you have given me. Grace me to affect situations around me with your blessings in my life.

Daily Devotional 10-3-19

You are on God’s Mind 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.” Isaiah 49:15-16

Mothers have the gift of nurturing. They have the natural virtues to nurse babies into full-blown persons. Mothers have the extended capacity to be patient with babies through their developmental stages. In struggling families, fathers are most likely to leave the home and the responsibilities of raising the kids would fully be placed on the mother. With all these natural potentials, it would be difficult to conceive the notion that a nursing mother could forget her baby. But I believe it is possible. There have been cases of women abandoning their kids due to challenges and difficulties in life. 

In the text above, God promises to secure His children. Isaiah informs us that God’s compassion, tenderness, and mercies extend beyond the capacity of mothers. He is the God who will never forget us under any circumstances. His mercies endure forever! Even when we depart from Him, His grace will pursue us until we let Him in again. It is assuring to know that no matter how life maybe sometimes, we are always on God’s mind. It is not His character to forget about us. This is encouraging and assuring knowing nothing could make God forget us. Sometimes life may seem God does not care. Some situations may inform you that God cannot be trusted, and He loves other people more than He loves you. But He does care.

The second part of the text tells us why we can trust in God. Our names have been engraved in the palms of God’s hands. Did you get that?! Our names have forever been written in the palm of God’s hand. That means every single day, God sees your name and remembers you. Pause. And think about that for a moment. Did you get the full import of text? God sees your name in His palm and remembers you every day. Imagine how life would be for you if you could forever walk in that consciousness. 

We are secured. We are protected. We are cared for. We are remembered. We are loved. We are thought of. And, this happens on a daily basis because we are His children. 

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me to walk in the consciousness that you are closer to me at all times.  When I feel lonely, help me remember that you have not forgotten me.

Daily Devotional 10-2-19

Doing Good No Matter What
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith”. Galatians 6:9-10

External motivations are great sources of fuel that energize and propel us to achieve what we set to accomplish.  They encourage us when we lose strength, lift us up when we are down, and inspire us to keep doing what intended to do.  But what happens when all the voices of encouragement, inspiration, and praise cease? What happens when no one says thank you, that was great, you are greatly appreciated, etc., in response to what we do? What happens to us when our work and efforts are not noticed or appreciated?

In today’s text, Paul writes to encourage the Christians in Galatia to keep doing good at every opportunity. He writes that the disciples of Jesus in Galatia should use their liberty in Christ to make Him known through generosity. Paul also recognized that doing good does not come easy all the time. He was aware people could be tired, demotivated, and discouraged to sow generosity. Therefore, he said, we should not be tired in doing good, for we shall reap blessings if we faint not. He further stresses the need to be good, especially to other Christians. 

Doing good is golden, but it is not easy all the time. Sometimes your work or efforts may not be recognized at all; sometimes people may not even pay attention to you; they may even brush you off. It is even more discouraging when your work or good deeds are undermined, and not respected. In such situations, it may feel there is no reason to keep on keeping on. While this experience is painful, they offer us the opportunity to do a heart check––why am I doing what I am doing?  If the motivation is Christ, then we will always find the strength to do good no matter what. But, if our good deeds are driven by praises of people then very soon our desire to do good would sublime as praises cease.

So, let us examine our motives and motivation to do good. Let us determine to press on with goodness towards all people no matter what, for God will reward us in due season.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to sow seeds of goodness in all situations by keeping my heart and eyes on you.

Daily Devotional 9-30-19

Holy and Unholy Wisdom
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:13-17

It’s all about the fruits! A tree is known by its fruits. It is not so much the talk, but the acts. 

Wisdom and understanding are not philosophical concepts. They are not just mental accents. Instead, they are evidenced in how people conduct their personal and public affairs. They are so practical. We show people we are wise by how we live and interact with others. Our conversations, responses to pressure, and challenges in life reveal whether we are walking with pure wisdom or demonic one. Both heavenly and earthly wisdom have their seats in the heart.  They are not mind-based. They determine what we do and say. They defile or edify and sanctify a person.

James, spells out the fruits of heavenly wisdom: purity, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield (surrender to God) mercy-filled, without partiality and hypocrisy.  Seems these have lots in common with the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). 

On the contrary, the fruits of sensual and demonic wisdom are envy, bitterness, self-centeredness, lies, and boastfulness, etc.  These also align with the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. 

Looks like for James, the lines have been drawn. He is encouraging us to embody heavenly wisdom as the Holy Spirit gives us strength. As a follower of Christ, there may be times where you exhibit some earthly wisdom, because of temptations and trials. The most important thing is to recognize, repent, and run away from it. Don’t stay in it. For we have been saved to walk in heavenly wisdom.

PRAYER: Lord, grant me the strength to walk in the fruits of heavenly wisdom. Grant me the grace to know when I am off so I could turn back to divine wisdom.

Daily Devotional 9-27-19

Show No Partiality 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.  For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:1-4

The early church was plagued with many challenges, just as we experience in churches now. It is clear that historically, the church was situated in a society where economic disparity was so huge, as a result, preferential treatment for the rich had become the order of the day.  This show of partiality had wormed its way into the life of the church that was supposed to be counter-cultural. 

This was a serious matter, and it should be for us today. Favoritism and partiality should be far from the life of the church. We must treat all people with the same love of Christ. Material possession or societal status should not become the standard by which we serve the love of Christ to people. A person’s haves and have-nots should not determine how we treat them especially in the church.

Of course, our culture and society has fallen for this. Preferential treatment is served to the rich and influential. Those who do not fit into the top echelon of the society are looked down on. Those who are homeless, drug addicts, struggling single parents and families, poor, etc., are treated with contempt. We serve well the people we like. Those in our circles are welcomed and celebrated, while those outside have to fight to earn a space among us.

Christ died for all with the same love, and we must serve all people with equal love. The disenfranchised of society should be able to walk into the halls of the church and find a better narrative of interpersonal treatment.

PRAYER: Father, breakdown any desire in me to show favoritism, so that I may serve all people with your love.

Daily Devotional 9-26-19

Living Epistles  
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;  clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

The focus of the gospel and its ministries is the people! God became a man because He intended to save people. The ongoing ministries of Christ are people-focused. We may engage in many programs and processes, but at the end of the day if we fail to impact and influence people, we have missed the mark. Everything about the Church should be geared towards building people.

In the above text, Paul makes an important statement about the focus of Christ’s work. He emphasized that transforming people is the focus of his ministry. The hunch here is not just a focus on people, but what becomes of the people who are in Christ. 

He states, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” The key to understanding this text is in understanding the word “epistle.”  It simply means a letter. Most of the NT books are epistles––letters written by different authors to particular churches in specific situations. They are often sermonic in nature. With this understanding we could safely say Paul meant the Christians in Corinth were his sermons. And, yes, Christians should be living sermons.  To live out your Christian life is to become a sermon so that when others see you, they would see and hear Christ, and glorify Him. The success of a church is not how many people sit on pews or how much budget they carry. These are also important, but the important questions should be: “Are our people being sermons of Christ?” and “How is Christ being seen in the life of our congregation?”

So, some basic questions will serve us right:

  1. How does my family see Christ in me?
  2. Is my faith visible among my friends?
  3. If people look at my life, can they vouch of my godliness?
  4. Does my presence invite moral cleanliness in conversation and deeds among friends?

For me these questions are sure indications that the work of grace is not done in me yet, therefore, I am pressing on.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me to reflect Christ in all that I do.


Daily Devotional 9-25-19

The Enduring Word  
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“’All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’” That word is the good news that was announced to you.” 1Peter 1:24-25

The books: First and Second Peter were written to encourage and exhort Christians in all kinds of trials and suffering to stand true to the faith, walk the path, run the race, and fight the good fight.  It is worthy of note that suffering is not just part of life, more so if you are a disciple of Jesus, you will face many hardships. For these saints, the only crime for their suffering was their allegiance to Christ. In this context, Peter, one of the elders of the early Church wrote to these suffering Christians to hold on to the word of God.

In his encouragement, Peter makes a comparison between the flesh and its glories with the word of God. By “flesh” Peter meant the achievement of human endeavor, the world and its philosophies, and ideas that stand in stark contrast to the word of God.  The “flesh” also stands for the futility and vanities of the mind and heart that do not promote godliness.  He emphasized that all these are passing away.  In other words, human achievements, the world and its philosophies and cultures have self-life.  They may have a long history, but they are not built to stand forever.  They don’t have an enduring capacity. In fact they keep changing all the time.  As the flowers and grass withers with changing seasons, so is the flesh of humanity.  In contrast, Peter, encourages the Christians to hold onto the word of God which abides forever.  The word of God had endured history of hostilities from governors, emperors, and other human authorities who thought they could bury the power of the word of God. 

I don’t about you, but I want to trust something that has been tried, tested, endured, and still thriving.  I am talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I believe the gospel houses all the securities a person desires in life.  Those who trusted in God’s word were never disappointed, and you will not be the first case.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant me the grace to hold and trust in your word even in the most uncomfortable situations.

Daily Devotional 9-24-19

Product of Grace and Mercy 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” 1Corinthians 15:9-10

Grace is a major theme in the Christian life. In fact, your journey in Christ began with grace, and will continue and end in God’s grace. Before you became conscious of it, grace was already active in your life, gradually inviting you into a life of liberty in Christ. 

Because God is powerful, His grace is also active. Thus, an ineffectual grace means an ineffectual God.  And, you know that is not possible!

With great humility, Paul attributes the positive and significant transformation in his life to the grace of God, not his own efforts and ambitions. He looked back into his former life as one who persecuted the Church of Christ, considered the newness of his life, as an apostle of Christ, bringing many souls into the kingdom of light, love, and life, and exclaimed––I am what I am by the grace of God. Wow!

Grace forgave him, as a persecutor of the church, cleaned him up, and anointed him to become a messenger of the Christ he once persecuted. It had nothing to do Paul! It had everything to do with the grace of God. And, Paul was careful not to attribute this to himself. If he had a resume, I bet this would not have appeared on it. In other words, the positive changes in life were too great for him to attribute to himself. 

While God blesses with materials, what Paul discusses far outweighs material blessing. His focus is on his identity, and the condition of his soul. He’s looking at the immaterial part of his life. 

Look back into your life, and consider all the time God had been with you—even when it seemed He was absent, quiet and unconcerned. Do you agree with Paul, that “I am what I am by the grace of God?”

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, enable me to receive and work with your grace to bring your best life in me. 

Daily Devotional 9-23-19

More than Just a Book
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“I do not turn away from your ordinances, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:102-103

I love the book of Psalms. It reminds me that God desires relationship with us. While this book may contain some prophecies about the suffering Christ, it also contains words of people to God.  These were people who had so much faith and walked with God for ages. They developed intimacies with the Creator of the universe, to the point where they could express their hearts to Him. Have you ever thought that God is too busy to care about your frustrations and anxieties?  Well, I have some good news for you: He desires to be involved in every detail of your life.

In today’s text, the Psalmist pours his heart out about the word of God.

He affirms his allegiance to the ordinances of God. He also declares that God taught him all the ordinances. Wow! He shares the benefits of the ordinances of God in his soul.  The Psalmist uses the word “sweet” and declares the words of God are sweeter than honey. Wow. I must admit, this hasn’t been my experience with the word of God. I could not have described the word of God in those terms.

Friends, I don’t know about you, but this is an eye-opener for me. 

The Bible is not just another book at the mercy of my intelligence. Maybe I have not seen much of God because of how I have perceived the Bible. To the Psalmist, the words of God were not just empty. The word of God gave him life, and it will do same for us if we will have the right perspective about it.

If the Psalmist could describe the words of God as sweet, then maybe I have not been serious with God’s word. 

How would you describe the word of God?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant me a fresh awareness into the beauty and vitality of your word.