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Daily Devotional 1-30-20

Give Me Eyes to See 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. John 9:1

God is all-knowing. He knows our ins and outs. He holds a solid knowledge of our past, present, and future. God has an all-encompassing knowledge about each person. When God looks at you, He sees beyond your physicality, and even beyond your circumstance or need. But, He also sees what you could become. 

The key to understanding the text lies in the word saw.” In the Greek language to see means to perceive, discern, discover, inspect, and notice.  It also means to notice something and ascertain what must be done about it. When we import this meaning into the text, it could read, “Now as Jesus passed by, He discovered and perceived the circumstance of a man born blind and knew exactly what to do about it.” 

Friends, it appears seeing goes beyond just beholding something with your physical eyes. This kind of seeing I am talking about involves the heart. Seeing with your heart is different from seeing with your physical eyes. The physical eye may see an immigrant and/or a person of color, someone with a disability, someone with a chronic health challenge, someone with a social stigma, but the spirit-filled heart would see a person with dignity and destiny. The physical eye may see the poor, homeless, an addict, broken, disenfranchised, etc., but the heart may see a person with great potential for something. The physical eyes may also see a rich, popular person but the spirit-filled heart may see a person in need of some sort. The apostle Paul, confirms this when he said, “So from now on we regard no one from a human point of view [according to worldly standards and values], (2 Corinthians 5:16). 

In the process to select a replacement for King Saul, Samuel, the prophet, nearly made a mistake when he saw the muscles of David’s big brother and thought he might be the chosen one. God intervened and said, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I recognize that this may be a stretch for some people because we are accustomed to seeing just with our eyes, but I believe if we are going to love all people as Jesus loves them, then we need to see with our spirit-filled hearts. 

Look at Jesus on the cross, and you would see the value of each person!

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me the grace to see with my heart to discover what you perceive in each person.

Daily Devotional 1-29-20

The Blessed Life  
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the [a]earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:3-12

The Sermon on the Mount is popular among Christians. Scholars have given it many names such as Magna Carta of the Kingdom, and The Compendium of the Christ’s Doctrines (Barclay).  Jesus began His public teaching with the declaratory statements (beatitudes) that describe the Christian life. Each of the beatitudes begins with the word “blessed.” In the then Greek world, “blessed” was used to describe the life and condition of the gods. It was a life of perfect happiness and joy; thus, in Christ, there is a godlike joy. 

The presence of the Holy Spirit makes a person blessed. The Holy Spirit comes with such beauty, glory, aura, and richness that is indescribable. The blessing of God satisfies; it makes the Christian content. It makes one joyous in the face of adversity; it causes the Christian to remain resolute and unshaken in uncertainty. It is independent of material possessions. It makes the Christian have nothing, yet possesses everything. It causes the Christian to triumph in the midst of insecurities. The beatitudes speak of the blessing which sorrow, pain, loss, grief are powerless to touch. It is a joy that shines through tears, and which nothing in life or death can take away.

Christ did not come to curse, but to bless. And, for all who follow Him, for all who receive Him as their Lord, Master, and Savior, there is a certain life that is reserved for them—a life of joyous thrill and radiant gladness. In the face of the beatitudes, a gloom-encompassed Christianity is unthinkable (Barclay).  

PRAYER: Dear Lord, may my life be a testimony of your blessings. And, lead me to touch others’ lives with your blessing.

Daily Devotional 1-28-20

In Touch With Him
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “be unceasing and persistent in prayer.” (AMP)

Communication has become so easy in modern times! The days of writing long letters with ink on paper are long gone. And, why should we continue to do that when we can just send an email and the recipient gets it within seconds. I’m glad the old telephone with its wired connections is no more. With a few touches on our phones, we can communicate with people around the world.  Indeed, communication has become so easy and frequent. But, can we say the same about our communication with God?

God made us for fellowship and communion. He desires to engage with each person on a daily basis. Imagine living with your father and for three days there has not been any communication. Can you stand the silence and the uneasiness? You can begin to figure out what the problem is, right? Yet, some of us could go on for days without pausing to have fellowship with Him. God is constantly inviting us, but we either lack the ability to recognize His invitation, or too busy to pay attention.  

Prayer is every believer’s powerful lifestyle:  

  • Prayer plugs us to God, who is our source. It is more for us than it is for God. It expresses our dependence on Him.
  • Prayer aligns us with God.
  • By prayer, we are able to overcome the tendencies that distract us from our providential path. We get our lenses cleansed through prayer so that we are able to see as God sees.
  • Prayer will remove all the layers of debris on your soul and release you to love as God would.

For these and many other reasons, Paul encourages to pray without ceasing.

Praying is a spiritual discipline, and that is the reason for the lack of desire to practice it. Your flesh will keep fighting your effective prayer life, but we have to persist in taking those baby steps and growing in it. It will not happen naturally. It takes intentionality and the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

PRAYER: Dear God, Help me to make it a practice to stay plugged into You at all times.Grant me a yearning for You that drives me to connect with you and allow You to lead me in everything that I do. Amen.

Daily Devotional 1-27-20

Created In His Image 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Genesis 1:27 “so God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (NKJV)

The world is getting louder and louder in giving theories and opinions about people’s identity destiny. In modern times, scores of people have turned to the wrong people and places to find their identities. Consequentially, they have become worse off than when they began their quest.   I strongly believe, since God created us, we need to turn to God about our identity. The Bible, which has stood the test of time, and in which we find the nature, the will, and character of God, gives us the truth. God, the Almighty, created us. He not only formed us, but He made us in His image and likeness so that we would stand out from all other creation.  

Uniquely made, we are the only creation that is able to have a relationship with God. He made us for relationship. This is seen in our ability to receive and respond to His love. Christians are the only people in whom God dwells. There is no other creation or group of persons in which the Holy Spirit dwells. What a great blessing and privilege we have as Christians! Because of His indwelling presence, we are able to relate and interact with Him. He speaks to us, and we have the capacity to hear His voice. He guides us, and we have the capacity to follow His footsteps.  Listen to John, as he confirms this, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand,” (John 10:27-28).

So as you go out today, walk in the confidence that you are unique and set apart by God. Don’t let the fallen world and pop culture determine your identity. And, don’t let your body, with its challenges, instruct you on who you are. God took extra care to have you on this earth. Walk in this consciousness, and you will find rest for your soul.

Why would you buy into the lies of this world, instead of turning to the word of God to discover your identity?

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for setting me apart at creation. I choose to trust Your plan for my life and surrender all the lies that I have believed about myself. Today, I purpose to take Your word and believe it. Amen.

Daily Devotional 1-24-20

All Sufficiency of God  Julie White

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Are you worried about a need in your life right now? Though many things may feel random and wrong, remember that God is sovereign over everything. He can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Him. Perhaps you’ve forgotten how often God promises to meet all your needs as you trust him.

Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:32

I have been young, now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor His descendants begging bread. Psalm 37:25

God has dealt graciously with me…I have enough. Genesis 33:11

My God shall supply all you need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him…Those who seek the Lord shall not lack anything good. Psalm 34:9-10

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

There is no duplicity in God. His promises will be fulfilled. For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him.  That is why we utter our Amen to God for His glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20 

The word Yes, translated to the original Greek, means “sure,” and the word Amen means “firm.”  So, here is a rough translation of that scripture: For the sake of His name, His promises are sure and firm because He is faithful and true, therefore we can say yes and amen!

Your heavenly Father is the great provider, and in Christ you have all His promises and all your provision. Every problem has a solution and every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece God created you to be. He is always before you and alongside you. The One who goes ahead of you, opening up the way, is the same One who stays close and never lets go of your hand! He is ceaselessly working on your behalf, that is why your best efforts are trusting Him and living close to Him.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, today I will not worry. I will trust in Your grace and all-sufficiency.

Daily Devotional 1-23-20

Christ, Our Protector 
by Julie White

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my Savior; my God is my rock in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my Savior, the one who saves me from violence.  I called on the Lord who is worthy of praise, and He saved me from my enemies…I cried out to the Lord; yes, I cried to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary, my cry reached His ears…He reached down from heaven and rescued me.  He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who were too strong for me.  …but the Lord supported me.  He led me to a place of safety…He restored me. 2 Samuel 22: 1-4, 17-20.

In this song, David characterizes God’s care with five military symbols. God is like a rock, immovable bedrock for sturdy footing, a boulder we can hide behind to keep enemies at bay; a fortress, or place of safety where the enemy can’t follow, a granite hide-out; a shield, a protective covering between us and harm in order to intercept specific attacks from the enemy; power that saves, our ultimate saving strength; a place of safety high above our enemies, inaccessible and impregnable.

David was a mighty warrior. But even with all his armies and weapons, David knew that ultimately, it was God who could protect and save. Because He believed it, David sought God’s guiding presence every day. David was a prayer-speaking man and his words were spoken to a prayer-hearing-and-answering God.  When troubling situations came his way, he was already in God’s presence and prepared to handle any test.

God’s power can carry you through danger and fear just like David’s. He protects you all the time, especially when you are too weak or scared to face certain trials by yourself or when your enemies (external or internal) seem to be overwhelming. But, He doesn’t want you to stay weak and scared. The manifestation of God’s presence in your life strengthens, protects, and guides you in order to send you back into the world to shine His light.

David knew that the true strength of his nation was not in weaponry, but in worship; not in firepower, but in God’s power. God alone can preserve nations and individuals. Will you show your confidence in God by looking to Him as the ultimate source of your safety? Seek His guiding presence with an attitude of constant prayer. He will protect you.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for answering my prayers, for rescuing me from my enemies, and for restoring me to You. 

Daily Devotional 1-22-20

Christ, The True Vine by Julie White

I am the vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit…As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.…If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is and thrown in the fire.  If you abide in Me and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit so you will be my disciples.  John 15:1-8

Grapevines are productive plants; a single vine supports numerous branches and bears many grapes. 

In these verses, Christ is the vine and God is the gardener who cares for the branches. The branches are all those people who claim to be followers of Christ. Jesus explains the distinction between two kinds of pruning that he does: cutting off and cutting back. People who don’t bear fruit for God or who try to block the efforts of God’s followers will be cut off from His life-giving power; separated at the trunk and tossed aside. They are fruitless and often infect the rest of the tree.

The fruitful branches are true believers who, by living in union with Christ, bear much fruit. They are pruned and groomed to promote even more spiritual growth and transformation.  “Fruit” includes making disciples of all nations as well as qualities of Christian character. To abide in Christ means to believe that He is God’s Son (1 John 14:15), receive Him as Savior and Lord (John 1:12), do what God says (1 John 3:24), continue to believe the Good News (1 John 2:24), and to relate in love to the community of believers, Christ’s body (John 15:12).

God is glorified when we come into and stay in a right relationship with Him and ‘produce much fruit’ in our lives. A branch cannot bear fruit of itself. Are you accepting and receiving the nourishment and life offered by God, the true grapevine?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me live my life by staying as close to You as a branch attached to a vine. Prune me so that I may draw others closer to You and continue to glorify You with my life.

Daily Devotional 1-21-20

God of Beauty and Order 
by Julie White

Who laid earth’s cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:6-7

As God reveals Himself through our daily experiences, we learn about His forgiveness that frees us from guilt. As He reveals Himself through scripture, we learn about His holiness and our sinfulness. As God reveals Himself through nature, we learn about His power and our finiteness.

Relating to nature and “morning stars that sing,” one of NASA’s observatories discovered a giant black hole that actually hums. Located in a cluster of galaxies about 200 million light years from earth, the black hole vibrates at a frequency of a B flat musical note!

The idea of heavenly music is not new. In fact, Job 38 tells us that at the creation of our universe, songs of praise and shouts of joy resounded for God’s glory!

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. Their message has gone throughout the earth and their songs to all the world. Psalm 19:1-2,4

Here is a wonderful hymn by St. Francis of Assisi that captures the awe and worship of beholding the radiant sun by day or the star-studded sky at night.

All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing Alleluia, Alleluia!Thou burning sun and golden beam,Thou silver moon and softer gleam:O praise Him, O praise Him!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

We are constantly surrounded by displays of God’s glory. What kind of God does nature reveal? Nature shows us a God of might, intelligence, and intricate detail; a God of order and beauty; a God who controls powerful forces. The heavens give dramatic evidence of His existence, His power, His love, and His care.

PRAYER: Gracious Lord, as I look to Your handiwork in nature and in the heavens, I praise You for such magnificent beauty and thank You for the truth it reveals about You.

Daily Devotional 1-20-20

by Julie White

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God. James 1:5

Wisdom is the beauty of holiness. “Wisdom,” Charles Spurgeon wrote, “is a beauty of life that can only be produced by God’s workmanship in us.” To be wise in Biblical terms is to know and understand godliness and to do what is pleasing to God.

As I understand it, the wisdom that we should desire has three distinct characteristics. It is practical. Wisdom from God relates to everyday life as well as to the most trying times.  It is not a wisdom isolated from suffering and trials. This wisdom is a tool that we can use to help us overcome trials and move beyond them.  For example, an intelligent person may have profound ideas, but a wise person puts profound ideas into action. 

It is divine.  God’s wisdom goes beyond common sense. Common sense doesn’t lead us to choose joy in the middle of trials. This wisdom begins with respect for God, leads to living by God’s direction, and results in the ability to tell right from wrong – and then choosing to do what’s right no matter the consequences.

Finally, true wisdom is Christlike. The Bible identifies Christ as the “wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24), so asking God for wisdom is ultimately asking to be like Christ.

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with humility… The wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure.  It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and good deeds.  It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” James 3:13, 17

Seeking God’s wisdom delivers you from the need to compare yourself to others and to want what they have.  Any comparing of yourself should be to Christ, and wanting what HE has; desiring passionately, to be like Him in everything you do and say. It is never too late to begin growing in wisdom! God loves you with an earnest, intense affection that can deliver you from nonsense if you yield yourself to Him. When you ask for it, His wisdom will begin to rise in you and pour itself out to others.

True wisdom begins and ends with God.

PRAYER: Lord, please turn my heart to the wisdom that comes only from You. Help me allow you to transform me into Your likeness, beautiful in holiness, and merciful to others.