Daily Devotional 9-9-19

The Wonder Name
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
John Newton writes amazingly about the name of Jesus:
It makes the wounded spirit whole, 
And calms the troubled breast;
Tis manner to the hungry soul, 
And to the weary rest 
We use names to refer to persons. When you hear a certain name, a person comes to your mind.  They are words that point to a person. While some names bring relief and happiness, others stir trouble and anger. Every name brings something to mind—whether good or bad because they point to someone.
The name, Jesus, can be very powerful if we have the right perspective. By having the right perspective, I mean, you know the person behind the name. In Hispanic culture, the name Jesus may refer to several people. I have heard many Hispanics being referred to by that name. But, for us, Christians, that name points to the Son of God. It is the name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9-10).
Mr. Newton reminds us of the blessings and power in the name of Jesus. He tells us the name of Jesus has the ability to heal our wounded spirit, reviving our hearts with grace and love. When we are storm-tossed and fears surround us, the power in the name of Jesus calms and quietens all the rages around us. Indeed, the name of Jesus brings deliverance. Newton further writes that Jesus’ name is food for the soul. Wow! Have you seen a hungry soul before? I have. It shows symptoms of desperation, anxiety. It is a soul in search of something, and the power in the name of Jesus brings relief and healing to such souls.
I don’t know the situation that makes you weary, hungry, troubled and wounded. But, I know of a name that can turn situations around for your good. It is the name Jesus. When you mention it in faith, wonders and miracles will happen.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me keep faith in the Person of Jesus so that as I mention his name, blessings will follow me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Daily Devotional 9-6-19

Time to Get Out
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.’” Genesis 12:1
I like to go to movies. Especially when I’ve had a busy and loaded week, I take time to enjoy a nice movie at the theater. A movie theater is a social place. You meet friends and socialize for a while, but most of the time is spent watching the movie. But, no matter how long and nice a movie is, it doesn’t run forever. It comes to an end and you have to get out of the theater.
God was about to initiate his redemptive plan for the world, and He narrowed in on the man, Abram. But, Abram was not idle. He had a life, family, clan, and a country. He belonged to a community. But, God asked him to get out of all his familiar circles. Abram was called out of establishments that gave him a sense of connection. On the surface, it may seem that God called him to leave something physical and natural—his father’s house, country, and family; however, on a deeper level, God called him to leave something else—the gods. In the ancient Near East culture, people believed their lives were controlled by gods. As such, there were plethora of gods who supposedly helped people. The calling of Abram involved leaving his family, tribal and national gods. The void created in Abram’s life would be filled with the One and True God. The days of Abram dabbling in idol worship was over. That show was over, and he had to get out of the environment and meet the God of the universe.
“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:12
As part of the Holy Spirit sanctifying us, He invites us to leave unhealthy tendencies behind so our hearts are wholly dedicated to Him. He tells us we have spent enough time in things that did not profit our relationship with Him. It is time to get out of the deeds that have impeded our relationship with Him and others. Hear the Holy Spirit say to you, “child the movie is over, get out and come to me.”
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, sometimes I feel tied to things I need to get out of. Grant me the strength to break any unhealthy ties to be wholly devoted to you.

Daily Devotional 9-5-19

He’s Working On Me 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you. And make your name great, And you shall be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2
Our world has succeeded in teaching and shaping our minds to get things done quickly. We have created gadgets and devices that help us to do things at a super-fast rate as compared to the days of old. We are able to achieve a lot within a short time because of these technologies. Life has become fast-paced, and we cannot afford to lag behind. The drive-thru windows at banks, restaurants, pharmacy shops, etc., point to how quick we intend to get things done. And, of course, they are convenient. They make life easier. However, this notion of get-things-done-quickly serves to our disadvantage when we allow it to creep into our spiritual life.
In the text above, God invites Abram into His mission of redeeming the world. And because justice is one of His attributes, God promised to make Abram a great nation. This was the agreement: I will reach the world with my redemption through you, and in turn, I will make you a great person. The key to understanding this promise lies in the word “make.” In Hebrew it means to process, fashion, or produce. With this understanding, we can say, God was going to process, fashion Abram into greatness. This promise to Abram was not going to happen overnight. The method was not going to be microwave, drive-thru, or cut and paste. It was going to take years of processing through various means including Abraham’s own mistakes, decisions, and choices. It would take pains, hurts, disappointments, celebrations, joys and happy moments. In the end, Abraham was going to come out better and great. He would be great not just in possessions, but more so in his character and relationship with God as well as others.
If we are children of God, He is going to work on us to become more like Him. He is going to take time to process us so that we live a God-shaped life, and our hearts are wholly consumed with His love. And, it is going to take all that you experience in life to make you. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul tells us, “We are the workmanship of God…” He is creating something beautiful out you and needs you to cooperate with Him.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit grant me the grace to be patient and humble to be processed into the masterpiece you desire to create out of me.

Daily Devotional 9-4-19

Point of Reference
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.’” 1 Samuel 17:34-36
The story of David and Goliath is one of the popular stories in the history of our faith. It is popular because of the unlikely outcome of a battle that was not supposed to be. A youth taking down a giant in one-on-one combat seemed impossible, but the impossible happened because God was in the equation. When God is involved in the affairs of our lives the impossible happens; we scale the walls of Jericho and walk on dry ground in the middle of the red seas in our lives.
The above text reveals the basis for David’s faith to take down the giant, Goliath. David was a shepherd boy who spent most of his day with sheep in the wilderness. That was his unpaid job.  As with every job, he encountered some occupational hazards. Lions and bears would occasionally attack the vulnerable sheep who could not fight back. During these attacks, David would run after the predator and kill them, delivering the poor sheep. These deadly experiences became points of reference in David’s life, reminding him of the protective grace of God to keep what has been entrusted to him. They built and sustained David’s faith in God. They reminded him of the closeness of God to him. David was able to face future challenges because of those points of reference.
You’ve had many experiences in life that point to the amazing grace of God, and I believe you can cite many points of reference in your life where was God came through for you. Do not throw them away. They are not happenstances. Hold onto them, but most importantly, let them remind you of the God who worked his purposes through them. Remind yourself of the past and let it catapult you into your future.
PRAYER: When I become weak in my faith, help me to remember, Holy Spirit, the many ways you have been with me in the past.

Daily Devotional 9-3-19

By Julie White
“His government and His peace will never end. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” Isaiah 9:7
GOD IS PASSIONATE. He has infinite energy and enthusiasm for His cause. Scripture tells of His zeal and His delight on many occasions, always involving His purposes for His people. When the Lord of Heaven’s Armies gives a promise or a prophesy, He watches over His Word to perform it. Many of His promises and prophecies are conditional; they require some response on our part for them to be fulfilled. But some promises, like the coming of the Messiah and His government having no end, are absolute. The zeal of the Lord WILL accomplish His purposes.
“The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!” Isaiah 34:32
Just as God is fervent about His all-encompassing, far-reaching plans to make disciples out of every nation, He is passionate about His purposes for your life, too. He prepares you for good things and He prepares good things for you! He guides your actions even when you’re not aware of it. He redeems our mistakes and actually weaves them into His overall plan to bring glory out of them!
He will fulfill His purpose for you, because He keeps His promises. He will fulfill His plan in you by transforming you, into the image of His Son. God will fulfill His plan through you as you affect others with His love and faithfulness. And when the zeal of the Lord guarantees something, it’s unstoppable!
“The Lord will go forth like a mighty man. He will stir up His zeal like a man of war!” Isaiah 42:13
Will you ask the Lord what His will is for you today? When you focus on God, He focuses on your issues, your longings, and His plans for you. When you have faith in His leadership, what He says begins to shift from potential to manifested experience. Trust that His zeal WILL accomplish His purposes––for the world and for you, too.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I thank you and praise you, Father, that You always fulfill Your purposes and you always keep your promises. Thank you for the assurance that Your plans always reflect my highest good and Your most perfect glory. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Daily Devotional 9-2-19

Voracious Appetite
By Julie White
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you His Godly people. Even strong young lions go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” Psalm 34: 8-10
Taste tests at SAM’S Club are interesting. If you go there at the right time, you can fill up for free and not buy a single item, right? Sometimes I observe people there; some grab a quick sample or two and go, while others linger, chewing thoughtfully and asking questions.
When the psalmist, David, says, “taste and see,” it is a somewhat similar offer, a warm invitation something like, “Try following God! I know you’ll like Him!” When we take God up on His offer to follow Him, we discover that He is good and He is kind. And when we take refuge in Him, by trusting Him daily, we experience how good He really is.
In fact, when we accept Christ and follow Him, we belong to Him, and those who belong to Him also fear Him by showing deep respect, reverence, love, and honor. The Bible often connects the fear of the Lord with obedience too.
“Fear God and obey His commands.” Ecclesiastes 12:13
“All those who love me will do what I say.” John 14:23
A person who fears the Lord doesn’t lie, turns away from evil, does good, is careful how they speak, and promotes peace. At first, we may question David’s statements of “those who fear Him will have all they need” and “those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing,” because sometimes we may seem to lack many good things. It’s not a blanket promise that all Christians will have everything they want. I think it’s David’s way of praising God for his goodness. He’s saying that if we have God, we already have all we need. Taste and see. God is enough. Now that’s something worth chewing on.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help us to not grab and go when it comes to our time with You, but to linger thoughtfully and ask questions; to have a voracious appetite for Your Word and Your will.

Daily Devotional 8-30-19

There’s Work to Be Done
By Julie White
“So the Lord formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them and the man chose a name for each one.” Genesis 2:19
One of the contributions of science is naming things. Scientists observe, reflect on what they see, and then describe it. You may remember that it was God who named the day and night (Genesis 1:5), but now He invites Adam, the world’s first scientist, to participate in His work, giving him the responsibility of naming each creature.
Right from the beginning, Adam was occupied with the work of naming the animals and caring for the Garden. “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden to tend to it and watch over it” (Gen 2:15). This should not surprise us because the Bible begins with God working. Work is a gift from God, a reflection of His own character and activity.
It is important to note that Adam was never overwhelmed by his work—while he was in the Garden.  Work existed before sin entered the world. Adam never knew what it was like to be frustrated with his work until he was outside the Garden.
Unfortunately, frustration from work did not end with Adam. It is something we all need to be saved from, and God’s saving purpose includes restoring us to the position from which Adam fell—that means being master over our work and not being mastered by our work. Notice that God brought the animals to Adam. God took a personal interest in Adam’s daily work! That’s worth thinking about as you work at your desk, on a shop floor, in school, or by the kitchen sink.
It may be hard to imagine that God would enjoy the documents you prepare, the tests you take, the components you assemble, or the home you create, but He does. Keeping this in mind, you can experience new joy in work.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for the gift of work. No matter where we are or what we do, help us to accept our lot in life and to regard our work as an act of worship and service to You.

Daily Devotional 8-29-19

First Things First 
By Julie White
“But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.  She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?  Tell her to come and help me. But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!  There is only one thing worth being concerned about.  Mary has discovered it and it will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:40
Many older brothers and sisters have a tendency to take charge. We can easily see this pattern in Martha, the older sister of Mary (suggested by many commentators) and Lazarus. She was used to being in control.
The Bible says that both Mary and Martha loved Jesus. When Jesus visited their home, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to what He taught. Martha was distracted by a big dinner she was preparing. She also thought Mary’s style of serving was inferior to hers and voiced this to Jesus. Jesus patiently and gently corrected Martha’s attitude and showed her that her priorities, though good, were not the best; that personal attention she gave her guests should be more important that the comforts she tried to provide them. Jesus didn’t blame Martha for being concerned about the household chores, He was only asking her to set her priorities differently.
Martha worried about details but her awareness of details kept her from participating in the main event. What she didn’t realize, was that in her desire to serve, she was actually neglecting her guest. She was so busy doing things for Jesus that she was not spending any time with Him. Hmmm…
In Scripture’s last picture of Martha, she is once again preparing a meal for Jesus and His disciples. But, the Bible records her silence this time. She had begun to learn what her younger sister already knew—that listening to Jesus was an extraordinary opportunity to be given preference over all other concerns; that there is a proper time to listen to Jesus and a proper time to work for Him; that the heart of worship begins with silence and listening to God.
PRAYER:  Dear God, help me put you front and center by looking to You and listening for You to guide me through this day and every day. Forgive me when I am distracted and lose sight of my purpose for living. 

Daily Devotional 8-28-19

Culture of Gratitude
By Julie White
“Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and He said, ‘O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you…’” Luke 10:20
Jesus gave thanks—a lot and aloud. He thanked God for revealing truth to those who are humble and childlike (Luke 10:21), and He thanked Him for hiding truth from those who are proud of their wisdom. Jesus thanked God for food—the loaves and the fish He fed multitudes with (Matthew 15:36), and for the bread and wine representing His own body and blood (Matthew 26:26-28). He thanked God for hearing His prayer to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41). And, He received thanks from those He healed. In His relationship with the Father and with others, Jesus established a culture of gratitude.
Being grateful can begin with a simple choice to notice what God has given. The dawning of each new day is a gift. The basics, like a roof over our heads, the clothes on our backs, and the last meal we ate, are worth appreciating along with life, family, friends, health, work, and the gift of God Himself. We can thank Him for the things He provided that He didn’t have to or for things that haven’t happened to us but could have. We know that in every situation there is something to be grateful for. When we find it and express it, our God is glorified.
The flip side of this is when we’re not feeling very grateful; it’s a sign we may be out of sync with God.  Fellowship with Him reshapes our perspective and helps restore the right attitude. And, it reminds us of all He has done and continues to do for us. I also believe God is actively managing 10,000 good things in each of our lives at any given moment, but our limited, finite minds may be only consciously aware of about three of them.
Gratitude is a matter of perspective. We can show thanks by acknowledging that everything—all our possessions and all that we are—belongs to God. I’m going to be more thankful right now, and then say so out loud. The more often we do, the more our lives begin to overflow with it.
PRAYER: Lord, you deserve hearts that overflow with gratitude toward you. May my life reflect the culture of gratitude You established through Jesus’ example.  THANK YOU, GOD!