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Daily Devotional 7-9-19

The Lord is My Source 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
 
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
 
One of the reasons I like the book of Psalm is that it contains the words of people who walked with God but encountered many struggles in their faith journey. These people shared their joys and celebrations, sufferings and challenges, convictions and assertiveness. Reading through the book of Psalm makes me realize that stories of being betrayed and stabbed in the back, temporary struggle with fear of the unknown, etc., are not isolated from those who have walked the faith journey. Do you have painful stories because of your faith in Christ? You are not alone, take comfort!
 
From the text above, the Psalmist is expressing his conviction and faith in God in the face of fear! He is defying the power of fear. With a triumphant imagination, he overcomes the threat of anxiety and fear. He is also bold about the reason for his mindset. He declares, the Lord is my light…salvation…stronghold.” To the Psalmist, God is blessing him in different ways. God is light to shine his path; God is the Rock of his salvation; God is the stronghold of his life, hence he would not crush. And, because of these, the Psalmist is not afraid. He shall not fear!
 
Knowing God as your source shapes your outlook and attitude in life!
 
Life is not fair; especially if you hold an unflinching faith in Christ! You will have circumstances that will challenge your faith through fear, doubt, anxieties, etc.  Sometimes, the people you trusted will disappoint and mastermind your downfall and pain.
 
Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. Psalm 41:9.
 
Sometimes you will suffer at the hands of someone’s insecurities. Loss of relationships, and jobs, difficult finances and economic life, sickness and even death—all these and many others would be thrown at you. However, the Psalmist reminds us that we don’t have to be afraid and make decisions out of fear because Christ is our light, salvation and stronghold. Your life cannot crush you as long as you hold onto Christ. Therefore, I invite you to live with a triumphant imagination!
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, sometimes I am afraid and scared in the face of difficulties and uncertainties. Help me consolidate in my mind that you are my stronghold as I journey in life.


Daily Devotional 7-8-19

Obedience is better than Sacrifice
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
 
So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” 1Samuel 15:22
 
The joy of every parent is to see their kids obey instructions. It is painful when people you have authority over, or are dependent on you shun your instructions. Such disobedience is a mark of rejection and independence. I was struck by surprise when I chanced on videos on YouTube about dogs being sent to obedience schools. Indeed, obedience breeds healthy relationships, even between people and their pets.
 
Obedience is crucial in our relationship with God. In fact it is one of the marks of mature disciples of Jesus Christ. Obedience has no substitute! I say so because it is the virtue that demonstrates whether we trust and really love God. Sometimes, we choose our own path, trusting our abilities, plans, and thoughts. In such situations, we think we know and understand our situation better than God. For others, fear of the unknown drives them into rejecting the voice of God because of control issues.
 
Saul, the first king of Israel, was noted for his stubbornness and disobedience to God. Consequently, God rejected him because he first rejected God’s word. He had gone into war and brought the plunder to Israel against the word of the Lord. His motive was to offer the sheep from the plunder as sacrifice to God. This may seem good to the human mind. God loves sacrifice, and he would surely receive this one from me, even though I should have destroyed all the sheep, he thought. Saul was wise and thoughtful in his own eyes and mind. But he missed God. And, he lost the throne. Disobedience is costly. Obedience brings peace, fruitfulness, rest and the abundance of life.
 
I have had my own share of the consequences of disobedience, and have realized heeding to the voice of God is far better than being wise in my own eyes. I have enjoyed peace, and rest in trusting in the word of God rather than my own wisdom. I invite you to the journey of complete obedience to God’s word. It will not be easy all the time.  Sometimes, pressure from different sources may say otherwise, but I encourage you to obey God’s word. We want to completely obey Him, because we love Him.
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me not to make delayed obedience and outright disobedience a lifestyle. Help me to trust your word and promises even when I don’t see the future clearly.


Daily Devotional 7-5-19

Our Eyes on Him, Not Us 

By Phil Ladwig

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

By God’s grace, as a teenager I came to believe that Jesus was who he said he was, the Christ, the savior of us all. I asked him into my heart and my life. And he certainly came. And so began many, many years of trying to learn how to walk with Him. I got it into my head that it was my “trying” that mattered. I felt strongly that God would have to love me if I did things right. I became a perfectionist, believing that if I did everything perfectly, He would smile on me, and my life would work out well. Of course this did not work out well. I stumbled often, and felt guilty and separated from Him. As I’ve lived my life, I’ve met so many Christians who breathed the same air I did, of works, not grace.

But I’m learning something different now. If I move my eyes away from me and my efforts, and look to Him and His staggering love, then I can rest in my walk with Him. He has done it! He has brought me into His family. And when we look to the parables of the widow rejoicing over the lost coin, the shepherd over the lost sheep, and the prodigal son, don’t they all tell us that God our Father treasures us and wants us to be with him?

PRAYER: Lord, please give us grace to turn our eyes away from ourselves to what you have done and are doing in our lives.



Daily Devotional 7-3-19

Whatever
By Pil Ladwig
 
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
 
“Whatever.”
 
You hear this word thrown out indifferently sometimes, ending any conversation with a thud.
 
“Did you hear about David’s making the baseball team?”
 
“Whatever.”
 
“Do you want to do something tonight?”
 
“Whatever.”
 
But, I ran across a verse that gives me a different take on the word, with real encouragement. Like everyone else, I’m concerned with my future. How will today be? What challenges will influence the way my life goes? How will these happenings effect my relationships and my security? My happiness? The welfare of those close to me? I guess the real questions my heart asks are, Will things turn out OK? Will I be up to the task? But this verse really has helped me, which begins, You show me the path of life.
 
Those words jumped out at me, and settled into my heart, giving me real peace. Here’s why. What I believe is that whatever this day brings, or tomorrow brings, the Lord will walk it with us. Our savior has known from before time began the paths our life will take, and he has prepared a way. And he will show us that way, that path, whatever life brings. And it will be a “path of life.” There is life, and then there is Life. He brings to us Life with a capital L. There will be challenges; there will be missteps, there will be changes. But there will be joys, as shown by the remainder of the verse: In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
 
Whatever life brings, our Lord and Friend will show us the path of real Life.
 
PRAYER: Let us live in the confidence that if we are willing to follow it, there is indeed a Path of Life that you will show us, one step at a time.


Daily Devotional 7-2-19

Alone?
By Gay Ladwig
 
“I alone am left, and they are seeking my life to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:10b, 14b
 
Following his boldness in 1 Kings 18, Elijah was threatened and believed himself to be alone. Then, fear, depression and discouragement overwhelmed him. I confess that I, too, have believed myself alone and been overwhelmed by these same feelings, specifically in two very stressful times in my life.
 
Looking beyond Elijah’s feelings there is reality. That reality is the reliability of God’s love. When Elijah went into the wilderness and asked God to take his life away, an angel twice touched him in his sleep and encouraged him to eat and drink of the food and water provided to sustain him on a journey of 40 days and nights. Once at Horeb the mount of God, the Lord came to him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” and then commanded him to stand on the mountain before the Lord who was about to pass by. A great wind, an earthquake and a fire came by, but the Lord was in none of these. Then, the Lord came in silence and Elijah came out of the cave and stood before Him. When the voice questioned Elijah for the second time, he answered the same as before. Still, the Lord gave him instructions to anoint three men who would carry forward the work of purifying Israel, and the Lord informed him that there were no less than 7,000 loyal followers in Israel.
 
What was reality for Elijah is what reality was for me in my times of struggle. In fact, it is reality every moment of our lives! God is always with us, even when He is silent. God also sends angels or others of His children to help us if we are willing to see and willing to be vulnerable enough to ask for the help we need.
 
Prayer: Thank you Father God for using our times of struggle to teach us and to assure us that You are with us always. Amen.


Daily Devotional 7-1-19

Truth 
By Gay Ladwig
 
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32
 
Elijah’s “zealousness for the Lord,” which is recorded in 1 Kings 18, he was described as “a great risk-taking communicator, speaking God’s truth to power.” For me, the word TRUTH jumped off the screen. The phrase “speaking truth to power” is often heard, particularly in the political climate of the day. Additionally, the word truth not only has multiple meanings, it sometimes seems as if truth is considered something unique to each individual.
 
But what about God’s truth? The word truth, or a variant of it, is found 224 times in the Bible. John uses the word truth many times––“the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Clearly truth is foundational to life when knowing it will make us free, but my truth or someone else’s truth is not the truth which will fulfill that promise. Freedom comes in knowing God’s truth as revealed to us in His Word. The word truth in scripture is not to be interpreted as intellectual truth––the common meaning in Western culture. Rather, it translates to the Hebrew word “emeth,” which expresses a knowledge of God and this Eastern meaning of truth is very profound. It is not merely intellectual; it is existential. With John’s words “the truth will make you free,” the truth speaks of the reliability of God’s love. When I know the truth, I know that:
 
God is Love.
 
God is trustworthy.
 
God accepts me even though I have sinned.
 
The truth of God is personified in Christ Jesus, who is also the Word of God. God’s truth makes me free! God’s truth makes you free! Thanks be to God. Amen.
 
Prayer: Thank you God that You are Love and for the truth, “emeth,” that speaks of the reliability of Your love; the truth that makes us free in Jesus. Amen.


Daily Devotional 6-28-19

Heavy Laden
By Gay Ladwig
 
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
 
Have you ever been heavily laden? For me, there came a time in life when I was a mother, a caretaker and the primary provider for my family which meant a new job and assimilating my family into a new community. I worked hard and did my best each day to get everything done right. I did not even know who to ask for help. Although a believer, I also had some false narratives about God from childhood and had not internalized fully the true character of God; specifically, His love, His acceptance and His grace. The result: I was heavy laden; life felt overwhelming. Then, counseling with my pastor, I found some hope.
 
Later, a friend shared a Dennis Jernigan CD with me. The music and lyrics to one of the songs, “My Yoke Is Easy,” touched me in my very place of need and cemented God’s truth for me.
 
An answer to my prayers, I share the lyrics now as a closing prayer.
 
Heavy laden? Won’t you bring your load to Me?
If you’re weary, worn and tired of trying,
Come and learn of Me.
Did you know that all you’re longing for and all you’re dreaming of
Can be found in Me, my child, for I am Love?
 
Come to Me all who are weary, searching for life’s best.
Take My yoke of love upon you and come into My rest.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
How I’ve always longed to carry you through the endless night.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
How I’ve always longed to let you know
You are precious in My sight.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.


Daily Devotional 6-27-19

Planted 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
 
“The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree: He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of Jehovah; They shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and green: To show that Jehovah is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” Psalm 92:13-15
 
Palm trees are known for their ability to stay green in every season. They are not affected by drought or other weather condition because the roots go down very deep in search for water. Cedars on the other hand are known for their ability to grow very high, their beauty and fragrance, and their roots also reach down deep and spread wide.
 
The Psalmist uses the palm and cedar trees to describe the righteous who are planted in the house of God. God’s desire for every Christian is that we grow and flourish in our relationship with God. Nevertheless, this can only happen when we chose to be planted in the house of God. Being planted in the house of God means cultivating a relationship with God that is vibrant. It means one is actively involved in a community of faith or local church where you are growing.
 
John Wesley taught us some vital things that need to remain planted, which we call the means of grace: prayer, fasting, fellowship, scripture, service, etc. These things help us to grow deeper in our faith and relationship with God.
 
The unique characteristic of cedar and palm trees is how deep their roots go. How deep are your roots in Christ, in the local church, small group? How deep is your love for God?
 
When we plant ourselves in Christ, and in our local church, our lives will begin to bless others. We also get the support we need to stand and flourish in difficult seasons.
 
As a palm tree goes through different seasons and still flourishes, so is a Christian who is planted in the house of God. The roots of your brothers and sisters will provide the needed support system to lean on in every season.
 
Reflection: Are you planted in GOD’S house? How deep are your roots?
 
Prayer: Lord, I know can’t live a victorious Christian life alone, help me to be planted in my local church and in you. Cause me to grow and flourish.


Daily Devotional 6-26-19

God is trying to get your attention

“Then Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up. When the LORD saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” Moses said, “I’m here.” Then the LORD said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:3-7 CEB
 
When you walk down the street and hear your name called, the primary reflex is to turn and see who called. The call gets your attention. We all have different methods we use to get the attention of those we care about.
 
In this scripture, God is trying to get Moses’ attention through the burning bush. When the cry of the Israelites got up to God because of their affliction in Egypt, God found Moses a man he could use but needed to get his attention, so He can speak to Him.
 
For a shepherd like Moses, a bush burning without being consumed was exactly what he needed to stop, look and listen.
 
Too often as Christians, we get so busy with our plans, families, carriers, friends, etc., that we become numb to the voice of God. At other times it’s the voices of people, and circumstance that become so loud and we can’t hear God’s voice. I pray today you will stop, look and listen.
 
Our God, who is a good father, understands that we can’t live fruitful, victorious and flourishing lives without hearing his voice. It is his voice that leads, comforts, encourages and strengthens us through difficult seasons. Anytime God tries to get our attention, it is either because of his mission on earth or our own good. Same as with our salvation. God took the first step towards us through the incarnation. He is still taking steps today to get our attention. Since each person is different, God will not use the same methods to get our attention. God knows what will make you to stop, look and listen.
 
Reflection: When last did you hear His voice?
 
Prayer: Lord, I acknowledge I have been so busy and have not paid attention to your bidding. Please help me to silence all the other voices and enable me to recognize you trying to get my attention through my circumstances, and may I stop and listen in Jesus name.