Daily Devotional 5-29-19

Jesus at the Center 

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: The Israelites shall camp each in their respective regiments, under ensigns by their ancestral houses; they shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side…The tent of meeting, with the camp of the Levites, shall set out in the center of the camps; they shall set out just as they camp, each in position, by their regiments. Numbers 2:1, 17
I am so glad we serve a God who is greatly involved in our lives because He is a person who desires relationship. His involvement in our lives dates back into the Old Testament, as we read the stories of the Israelites. God is so powerful to care about the cosmos, and yet so personal to be interested in individual affairs.
Our text today, pictures an outline of the settlement of the twelve tribes of Israel in relation to the tabernacle of God as they settled in the wilderness. All twelve tribes settled around the tabernacle; thus, the tabernacle was at the center of the camp. The tabernacle represented the presence of God among the Israelites, and the central position of it symbolized the position of God in the life of Israel. God occupied the center of their lives and all they did.
It excites me to know that we don’t have to construct tabernacles anymore! For we have become the tabernacle of God, and the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Just as God’s tabernacle occupied the central position in the camp of the Israelites so must God occupy the central position in our lives.  We must keep Jesus at the center of our lives. Jesus being at the center of lives is so important in many ways. It makes him hold the pieces of our lives together. He becomes the source of our identity, and it makes him direct our lives through Spirit-led decisions and choices.
What is Jesus’ position in your life? Is he at the center or at the fringe? If he is at the center, I encourage you to keep him there. If he is not, I invite you to move whoever or whatever is occupying the center of your life away and allow Christ to take his rightful place in your life.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to keep you at the center of my life, family, finances, etc., and forgive me for the times when I did not depend on you.

Daily Devotional 5-28-19

Running Away from God

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:1-3
Sometimes Christians put ministers on a high pedestal as if they are angels, who do not experience and share in the brokenness of humans. I like the story of Jonah because he was a prophet who displayed his brokenness so strongly. Most Old Testament prophets had a clean record of obedience to the commands of God—not this Jonah. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to preach to them; peradventure they may repent and God would not have to bring judgment on them. However, this prophet and preacher walked away from God’s invitation. He decided not to obey God; instead thought of traveling away to a distant land, far from the presence of God. Nineveh was 550 miles to the east, but Jonah decided to travel 2500 miles to the west. Can you picture the layout in your mind? He was simply running away from God.
Yes, he was a prophet, but his attitude towards God’s call is quite similar to lots of people. Some Christians have been running away from God for a long time. They know God has laid something on their heart, but they have been giving excuses. I knew God had called me into ministry, but I kept running away from Him. I told Him I could work in the gold mining company, make good money, and still do his work. No, God wanted me in full-time ministry and I kept running away from that call. Many people run from God’s call for many reasons. In my case, I wanted to make money.
We run away from God in many ways. It could be a refusal to visit a friend at the hospital, help a family member or friend in need. Overlooking the need of the family next door, seeing the children starving and not doing anything about it. Sometimes, you see a child has no good clothes and you simply look unconcerned. There is a desire in your heart to invite your friend to church, but you’ve been ignoring it. I want to encourage you to run and work with God; collaborate with him, and be a star in someone’s sky.
PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for ignoring your voice and commandments. Grant me the boldness to love you through service to people around me.

Daily Devotional 5-27-19

Living to Please God
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself. Daniel 1:8
Babylon had become an instrument in the hand of God to put the Israelites into exile. God had to do this because of the stubbornness of Israel. In those days, all captives were screened, and the strong and smart ones were conscripted into the service of the king.  This was the situation of Daniel and his three friends. They were found to be smart and were expected to study for a period after which they would be tested. The best students would then work closely with the King of Babylon. Their preparation involved special treatment, including but not limited to choicest food delicacies, clothing, studies, etc. They were in captivity but life seem to be good on the surface for these Hebrew boys.
Our text reveals the attitude of the Hebrew boys who conscripted to study and serve the king.  They were supposed to enjoy the best of meals in the palace, but Daniel opted out of the ration and preferred vegetables instead. This is the story behind the Daniel plan. They key word in the text is “defile.” Why would Daniel use such a word? What was wrong with the king’s food?  Who wouldn’t enjoy steak, barbeque, bacon, ribs, and pulled pork in the palaces of the world?  The Israelites had restricted diets. Therefore, what the Babylonians considered a great meal would be abhorred by the Israelites. Furthermore, the king’s meals were most probably sacrificed to idols first. Daniel, though he was in Babylon, had not forgotten his roots and heritage, as such, he would not partake in anything that was unholy and sacrificed to idols. He would not defile himself with food sacrificed to idols. He chose purity over defilement presented in an appealing manner.
What does this mean for you as a Christian? You, a child of God in this world, is likened onto the Hebrew boys in Babylon. Just as the Hebrew boys were strangers in Babylon, so are you, child of God—a foreigner in this world (1Chronicles 29:15; 1Peter 2:11). There are many things that appeal to the senses in this world but are detestable to God. I want to encourage you to choose not to defile yourself with the sinful delicacies of this world, but you will live to please your God in all purity. I invite you to choose what is noble, true, holy, pure, good, and lovely above the pleasant unhealthiness of this world.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me the strength to choose Christ above the gods of this world at all times, and in all places. 

Daily Devotional 5-24-19

Heart Guard 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
The heart is very crucial for your life. It is the seat or the government of your life. The quality of your heart determines the quality of your life with all its relationships and interactions. The wise teacher, Solomon, said all issues in your life flow from your heart. That means: love, kindness, patience, joy, peace, the desire for unity, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control flow from the heart. Similarly, hatred, wickedness, all kinds of filthiness, rancor, divisiveness, fighting, backbiting, cheating, etc., flow from the heart. Wow! Do you see how crucial your heart is?
The breakdown of families and friendships––even churches, institutions, and communities––start from the heart of people. The flourishing of relationships and communities also start from the heart. The quality of your heart is so important God says to you, “guard it.” Why should you guard your heart? It is important to guard your heart because it can get corrupted and be filled with the wrong content. As we move into the world around us, we are picking up content, whether intentionally or not. Your heart is constantly being bombarded with so much. This contents enter your heart through your eye and ear gates. This calls for you to have filters on.  You cannot expose yourself to unhealthy content and not get your mind and heart polluted. Very soon, you would realize your actions are faulty. The Internet, news channels, and other sources present you with all sorts of good and bad content. It is your job to discern which of them is good for your heart.
I encourage you to have your filters on. People’s lives have taken the wrong path because they fed their hearts with the wrong content. Associate yourself with the right kind of people, who will edify your life with wisdom and grace. Study the Word of God to feed your heart with divine inspiration. Join other Christians in worship and in small groups to share fellowship in the Holy Spirit. Sing songs as you cook in the kitchen or as you do laundry. Always do something to keep your heart healthy and positive, for it the wellspring of your life.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me discern the things that make my heart good or bad, and grant me the strength to get rid of the toxic in my heart.

Daily Devotional 5-23-19

God Walks with You

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home  
When the darkness appears 
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home
––Elvis Presley
God is both transcendent and immanent; so big to care for his creation, yet so personal to be involved in your personal life. He is so involving that when we climb the mountain or descend into the valley he is in the experience. Through the thick and thin, you can trust that God is right beside you.
The song above is a prayer asking for Divine companionship in the midst of doing life. It specifically calls on the leadership of God in time of difficulties. It also recognizes human frailty, tiredness, weakness, and a sense of despair. The prayer song also recognizes the certainty that life is not rosy all the time. Moments of darkness will engulf you some of the times; for some of the times, you may find yourself in the valley, but hear these words, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” Psalm 30:5.
What endears Christ to me is the fact that He experienced the worst form of pain and suffering anyone would experience. Therefore, He can sympathize with you when darkness is unleashed on you. He felt betrayed, forsaken, and rejected, but was raised from all these in the resurrection.  You can bet Jesus can feel your pain, and work with you through them, making you stronger and better.
This prayer song is also a sincere expression of our need for God. There is healing in being sincere before God in recognizing your limitation. It is okay to feel that you can’t fight every battle yourself. It is okay to feel that you could ask God for help. Yes, God wants you to ask him to intervene. Don’t fight alone when you have a God who is all powerful. Don’t allow life to beat you so down when you have a God who can hold your hand triumphantly in life. Don’t suffer needlessly.
PRAYER: Christ, I ask you to lead me on in life, for with you, I can smile at the storm.

Daily Devotional 5-22-19

Behold God Himself
It’s hard to imagine what the future will be like, but we should. The Bible describes our future existence for that very reason. God wants us to be excited about it! Our excitement proves that we believe in His resurrection and our own.
I thought about trying to describe heaven to you, but I want you to feel it, to be thrilled about where we’re headed. My words simply can’t do it justice. Instead, it would be better if you read this excerpt from that last pages of the Bible. The book of Revelation uses enough vivid imagery in describing heaven to make our imaginations run wild! Heaven and earth come together and we get to live with God Himself! This is our destiny.
Will you read this passage slowly, and try to picture it in your mind’s eye? And keep reading it over and over until you find yourself longing for heaven with an excitement that is tangible.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. And the city had no need for the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and its Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring into it the glory and honor of the nations.” Revelation 21: 1-6, 22-26
Test yourself right now. On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you about heaven? God wants us beaming with anticipation. Do you remember as a kid how you could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve because you were so excited about opening presents in the morning? That anticipation showed that you had no doubt. We should have even greater anticipation of Jesus’ return!
Ask God to restore hope in your life. Not the kind of “hope” where you vaguely wish something would happen, but the kind of hope that anchors your soul.
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for hope. Help me to put my hope in You and in you alone. Dwell within me, Lord, and anchor my soul in Your love.

Daily Devotional 5-21-19

Loving Well 
If your desire is to experience true and genuine communion with God in this life, giving up on love and relationships is not an option.
God puts a great deal of emphasis on relationships, and He cares very much about the state of yours. Connecting to Him fully, and growing in Him is impossible if you ignore human relationships. In other words, communing with God should not be an escape from human relationships.
GOD is worshiped and glorified deeply when you show and express His character of love in the way you interact with PEOPLE. Figuring out relationships can be difficult sometimes, because many false beliefs we hold about ourselves have kept us blind to all that we are and can be in Christ and, therefore, all we have been given to offer to others. Finding ways to develop your ability to give and to receive love enhances the impact of your Christian life in the world exponentially.
In the past, what you thought was love may have led to deep pain and betrayal in your life. Even so, don’t give up on love. God says to love passionately.
And above all things, have fervent love for one another. 1 Peter 4:8
The whole issue of love is not just a brief command in Scripture. Love is the very character and essence of God, our Lord, and Savior! Where have you stopped loving? Where have you experienced pain? Do you know someone who cares about you? Do you need someone to love?  Do you need someone to love you? Ask God to lead you along the paths of true Christian love in human relationships. Listen for His leading and then do something about it. Take action! God has told us this message from the beginning; that you should LOVE.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 1 John 3:11
How good are you at loving? How good are you at letting yourself be loved? The motivation for you to reach out and love others is the reality that you are loved by the greatest of all the lovers who’ve ever existed: GOD!
The King of Glory!
The Everlasting Father!
Wonderful Counselor!
PRAYER:  Dear God, Help me love You and others well. Open the eyes of my heart for opportunities to show Your love, Lord, then give me the courage to TAKE ACTION.

Daily Devotional 5-20-19

In Service

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. John 13:14-15
How would you feel right now, if Jesus took off your shoes and started to wash your feet? Try to envision this.
I wouldn’t be able to hold it together. I picture myself crying uncontrollably, hardly able to breathe. I think I would feel so unworthy and uncomfortable, but also so secure and so loved. I can barely imagine standing in the same room as Jesus. My mind just doesn’t have a place for the thought of my Creator and Redeemer washing my feet.
At the core of our Christian faith lies this belief that Almighty God humbled Himself to serve and died for us. At the root of our calling is a command to imitate Him by serving one another.  After washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus commanded them to wash one another’s feet.
I think that Jesus’ humble conduct was not because He forgot His rank as incarnate God, the Son. I think His act demonstrates that rank and privilege are not excuses for arrogance, but are higher credentials for service and humility.
The humility of Christ is a pattern for His disciples—you and me. Instead of aspiring to dominate, we must be eager to serve. Jesus did not wash His disciples’ feet just to get them to be nice to each other. His goal was greater than that. It was to extend His mission on earth after He was gone. These men were to move into the world serving God and serving others.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Matthew 28:20
The Church’s purpose is to produce mature disciples who imitate Jesus in service to others. Yes, a church leader is a person who ministers to you; however, their role is not to coddle you but to EQUIP you for this service mentality; to have the heart and mind of Jesus. Think personal trainer, not a massage therapist.
Paul explained to the church in Corinth that every person was given a supernatural ability to bless others in the church. He even called these abilities “manifestations of the Spirit.”  Whoa! Manifestations of the Spirit! Does that image stir any excitement in you? To see God Himself move through a human body!
I encourage you to make serving God and His people your motive for living.
PRAYER: Make me an instrument of your love service in my family, church and the world at large.

Daily Devotional 5-17-19

Light in the Dark 

And the Lord said unto Moses, stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. Exodus 10:21-23
Our text today is an extract from the demonstration of the power of God against the gods of Egypt. The Egyptians worshipped the sun god, and for three days, God had brought darkness on Egypt, making a statement of his power over their sun god. For three days, thick darkness had engulfed Egypt. This darkness was so thick it could be felt. The sun god of Egypt could do nothing about it. While the situation was bad for Egypt, the Israelites experienced light for three days. There was light in the midst of the darkness. The darkness in Egypt represents the darkness in the world. The light the Israelites experienced was an analogy of the Light that was to come into the world filled with darkness. There is no light in the world. Jesus is the Light of the world who illumines our path (John 8:12).
Let me take it to the next step. Jesus who is the Light of the World told his disciples that, “you are the light of the world,” (Matt. 5:14a). Praise the Lord! We do not have to dwell in darkness, for the Holy Spirit, who represents light, dwells in us. Do you see what God has done? He has made you an agent of his light in the world.
The light of God in you will illumine your path. It will help you make the right decisions. It will show you when to take an exit or continue straight as you journey in life. The light of God will show you the right company to keep. It will make your life so attractive people would want to ask for your secret.
As a Christian, there are many avenues for you to grow in the light of God. The Word of God is a sure and primary means of accessing the light of God. In it, we learn the ways of God. Prayer, worship, privately or communally, also are means of growing in the light of God. Do you need God’s counsel on a situation? Do you need God to shed his light in some area of your life? Just position yourself and ask him to illumine in your heart and mind.
PRAYER: Lead me by your light, help me to reflect your light, strengthen me to grow in your light.