Daily Devotional 3-4-20

The Sword of the Spirit
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

…the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:12

Life is full of battles. And, these battles are fought on many fronts—relationships, families, finances/economy, community, spirituality, government and politics, temptations, through the media, etc. The Christian is not exempted from these battles; in fact, the children of God face much warfare, because they belong to God and Satan always seeks to take down God’s children.  But, the good news is Christ has not left us vulnerable to the deceptions and temptations of the enemy. 

In fact, we are not fighting for victory; we are fighting from a position of victory.

Jesus has won the victory for us. And, it behooves on us to exercise that victory (Romans 8:31-39).

The question remains, how does the child of God exercise victory over the enemy? In answering this, I want to take you to the story of the temptation of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. In these narratives, Satan twisted the word of God to tempt our savior. In response, Jesus used the word of God. In the context of temptation, God’s word became a weapon to defeat the enemy. So, the scriptures aren’t merely a document, they are weapons to defeat the enemy of our souls.  

Therefore, it is not a surprise when Paul asserted that the word of God is the sword of the spirit with which we are able to defeat the enemy. When Satan throws up lies, doubts, fears, anxieties, and anything to take you down, you can counter him with the word of God. You can refute the lies of Satan and his cronies by trusting and adhering to the word of God.  

This Lenten season offers us the opportunity to search deep into our lives, and fish out where we may have bought into or succumbed to the lies of the enemy about Christ and ourselves. As we submit to what God says about us and the life He calls us to live, it cleanses our hearts and we live more fully unto God.  

What lies about yourself have you bought into?

What lies about Christian life have you succumbed to? 

What misconceptions about the gospel threatens your faith in Christ?

PRAYER: Spirit of truth, illumine my heart with the light of the word of God, to see and live in the way of Christ.

Daily Devotional 3-3-20

Soul Searching
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

John had been on the stage, preaching repentance. He had the crowd. He was a mover and a shaker of the community. He was bold and very charismatic like the prophets in the Old Testament. His disciples felt proud that they had John as their master; however, Jesus showed up and also baptized people. John’s disciples certainly did not feel comfortable about that. They probably thought they had a rivalry in town. They probably thought, “This Jesus is about the take the stage from our master. See how the crowd is moving to listen to Him.” Insecurity may have started gaining roots in their hearts. They cared so much about the ministry of the master. As such, they went to inform him.

John recognized that he had no competition with Jesus. He was secure in his role as the preparer of the way for Jesus. His reputation was never on the line. John was cognizant that the ministry was not about Him but Christ. Therefore, John told his disciples the he needed to fade away so that Christ may shine and all eyes shall see Him. John put his reputation, interests, rights, and privileges aside. He was willing to let them go so that all may hear and know Christ. 

The only way Christ may increase in us is when we decrease and fade away.

Lent is a season of dying to ourselves; a time of submission to Christ. It is a season of cease-fire in fighting God, bowing down before Him and raising our hands in surrender. Christ invites us to separate ourselves from anything that stands between Him and us. It is a time to do away with the idols we worship so dearly. Painful as it can be, the Holy Spirit nudges us to lay at the foot of the cross the things we think we cannot do away with so Christ may increase in us. Christ extends an invitation to search our hearts and name the things that compete with Christ. 

What are the things in your life that need to decrease and eventually fade away so that Christ may increase more and more in your life?

For John, it was his fame, reputation, popularity, etc. What would be yours? Somewhere in our lives, Christ is being stifled, and we ought to free Him by freeing our hearts from the layers of debris we’ve accumulated in the course of living.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me the boldness to examine myself, that I live may be Christ living in me.

Daily Devotional 3-2-20

Suffering and Light
By Julie White

He will do in me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny. Job 23:14

Job suffered. He had questions, painful ones. He asked persistently, passionately, and eloquently. He refused to take silence for an answer. He refused to take the clichés of others for an answer. Job does not take his suffering quietly or piously. He disdained going for a second opinion to outside physicians or philosophers. Job took his stance before God. Yes, he went ‘right to the top,’ and that’s where he protests his suffering mightily.

Job’s suffering is important to us because he suffered in the same way we do. Undeserved suffering troubles us. Job was doing everything right when, suddenly, everything went wrong. This is the kind of suffering Job gives a voice to. And he does this so well, so accurately and honestly, that every last one of us can recognize his or her personal pain in his voice. He shouts to God. He refuses to accept the role of a defeated victim. 

But he also recognizes that suffering is a mystery. And Job comes to respect the mystery and finds himself in an even larger one, the mystery of God. Maybe the greatest mystery in suffering is how it can bring a person into the presence of God, into a state of wonder, of worship, love, and praise.  It doesn’t inevitably do that, but it certainly did so for Job and it can for us too, if we let it.

Every time we persist with Job in beseeching God about our circumstances and in rejecting the quick-fix counsel of people who see us and hear us but do not understand us, we deepen our availability to the voice and mystery of God.

Even in the midst of his darkest season, Job knew that the apparent absence of God was not a sign of His disfavor. Job knew his own heart, he trusted God’s and he believed everything would work out in the end. In the dark, he trusted what he had learned in the light. A soul that makes that choice is built for eternity.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, I believe.  Even when I can’t see what’s ahead, I know who you are and I cling to you always. 

Daily Devotional 2-28-20

By Julie White

The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5

Jesus was moved with compassion on many occasions, felt anger toward hypocrisy and greed, wept over Jerusalem and those grieving at the tomb of Lazarus, and offered up prayers with loud crying and tears. Jesus, the incarnation of God, had deep feelings, so part of being Christlike means connecting in emotional ways.  God calls us to feel His feelings, to be finely in tune with His heartbeat so that our communion with Him will go deeper and grow firmer as we desire to feel like He feels.

God gives us many ways to connect with His heart through our own experiences.  He gave Jonah an object lesson with a vine in order to make a point about His own compassion.  When we hold a newborn baby, we experience unconditional love for someone who has done nothing to deserve it. When we feel jealous for someone’s love, we know how God feels about those who love lesser gods. When someone offends us, we get a taste of what God overcomes in forgiving our sins. In the joy of a wedding, we connect with the joy of the coming marriage of the Bridegroom and His bride.  When we give a gift that isn’t appreciated, we can relate to the disappointment of the Giver whose gifts and blessings are routinely ignored. Practically any experience in life can turn into a connecting point with God’s heart if we let it.

Notice how you feel in each of your experiences in life, and ask yourself if there is a divine parallel. Search for it. Do the same when you read the Bible, the very words of God. Better yet, ask the Holy Spirit to attune your heart to moments like that. Just beyond your vision, He watches and He waits. So, know that whatever you experience, wherever you go, you are on potentially sacred ground. 

Surely, the Lord is in this place and I was not even aware of it! Genesis 28:16

Search for and expect divine visitations. You’ll find that He is closer to you than you think.

Prayer: Lord, let my heart connect with Yours. Show me how my feelings reflect Your feelings and draw me closer to You with each new insight. 

Daily Devotional 2-27-20

Speak to Me, Oh Lord 
By Julie White

You have visited me in the night. Psalm 17:3

Few people carefully guard the way they go to sleep at night. Maybe they watch depressing news or talk-show gossip, or maybe they lie down anxious and stressed about tomorrow. Most of us put our heads on the pillow with unresolved issues in our hearts or our relationships. And all of these things simmer within us when we sleep.

God offers to minister to us through the night. While we sleep, He can do transforming work, addressing deep heart issues beneath the surface of our consciousness. He can shape our vision and our desires, heal the wounds we acquired during the day, implant solutions to problems, and do battle on our behalf in the depths of our souls. He gives counsel in hidden recesses, even when we aren’t aware of it. He can influence our thoughts and fill our dreams with His purposes.

For God speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds, He whispers in their ears…He makes them turn from wrong-doing…He keeps them from pride…He protects them from the grave.  Job 33:15-17

Maybe that’s why the calendar in God’s Word counts days from sundown to sundown. The victories of the night come before the victories of the day, not only in the rhythm of our lives but also as a picture of human history and salvation. Life begins with seeds before manifesting in fruit. This is God’s pattern.

But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6

I encourage you to be careful about how you go to sleep. Ask the Lord for much more than “your soul to keep.” Fellowship sincerely with God as you doze off. Invite the Holy Spirit into your night hours. Pray for Him to do deep, internal work on your thoughts, visions, battles, desires, wounds, dreams, and attitudes.  His mighty ministry will affect how you wake up and enhance your ability to carry a sense of His presence throughout the day.

Prayer: Lord, visit me in the night hours. Let me fellowship with You as I sleep.  Minister to me and transform me from within.

Daily Devotional 2-26-20

By Julie White

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. Dear children…we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus, the one who is truly righteous. He Himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins, and not only our sins, but the sins of the world.  1 John 1:9, 2:1-2

Confessing our sins is designed to free us to enjoy fellowship with Christ. It is an emptying of the bad that allows more space to be filled with good. God wants to forgive us. He allowed His beloved Son to die on the cross so He could offer us pardon. 

When we come to Christ, He forgives all the sins we have committed or will ever commit. We don’t need to confess the same sins over and over again and we don’t need to be afraid that God will reject us if we don’t keep our record perfectly clean. Of course, we should continue to confess our sins, but not because failure to do this will make us lose our salvation. Our relationship with Christ is secure. Instead, we should confess so that we can enjoy maximum fellowship and joy with Him and be transformed into His likeness.

So, if God has forgiven us of our sins because of Christ’s death on the cross, why must we confess our sins? As I understand this, by admitting our sins and receiving Christ’s cleansing, we are actually doing several things: agreeing with God that our sin truly is sin; recognizing our tendency to sin; ensuring that we don’t conceal our sins from Him (and from ourselves); being willing to turn from it, and relying on His power to overcome.

To people who are feeling guilty and condemned, don’t give up hope! The best defense attorney in the universe is pleading your case. Jesus Christ, your advocate, your defender, is the Judge’s Son. He has already suffered your penalty in your place. You cannot be tried for a case that is no longer on the docket. When you are united with Christ, you are as safe as He is. So, don’t be afraid to confess your sins, asking Christ to plead your case. He has already won it!

Believe that Christ Himself is the atoning sacrifice for your sins. It’s the truth. He stands before God as your mediator because His death satisfied the wrath of God against sin and paid the death penalty for you.

In Christ, you are forgiven and purified.

Prayer:  Gracious Lord, thank you for Christ’s atoning sacrifice that was meant for not just one particular group, but for the whole world.

Daily Devotional 2-25-20

By Julie White

Lent is a Holy season of spiritual preparation for the Feast of Easter. It is a time to reconnect with the fundamental hunger at the core of our being for the One in whom we find all happiness. It is a time of grace, a time to renew our baptismal call and to live it out fully in obedience.

I’ve heard it said that a person has not shown true obedience if he has never had an opportunity to disobey. Christ Jesus is the standard of true obedience.

After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the Judaean Desert. During this time, Satan came to Jesus and tried to tempt Him. But Jesus refused each temptation and discredited Satan by quoting Scripture, so Satan departed and Jesus returned to Galilee to begin his ministry. Summary of Matthew 4:1-11

Therefore, it was necessary for Him to made, in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested. Hebrews 2:17-18

Only in the light of Christ’s resurrection does life have meaning. And, in order to experience the full power of the resurrection (the basis of our Christian life and hope), we must pass through a time of preparation. With intentional preparation, this expectant waiting, the deeper meaning of the Easter celebration can be enjoyed.

So it is that before the festival of Easter there has developed a long preparatory season of repentance, fasting, and obedience which brings us back to our ultimate desire, intimacy with God.

As Thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most Holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy Passiontide,
Yea, evermore in life and death,
Jesus, with us abide.


Abide with us, that so this life
Of suffering over past,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last.


Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.

Prayer: Dear Lord, what do you want Lent to be about for me this year? What do you want ME to be about for YOU this Lent, God? Amen

Daily Devotional 2-24-20

Prove Your Love
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:1-3

The truth that love should be the center of gravity of every Christian has grasped me so tightly recently. I have come to appreciate that love should be the sun around which the various planets of our lives revolve. Love should be the motivation for everything we do and say. The Christian will be known by his love for God and neighbor. 

There are many ways to prove one’s love. Some give gifts, some use words of affirmation, others spend quality time, others show love through service. These are all wonderful ways to show love as far as human relationships are concerned. However, when it comes to our love for God, there is only one way to show it—obedience to Him. Obedience is the mark of our spiritual maturity and love for God. If we claim to love God but do not live according to His word, then what good is our love? If we claim to love, but do what pleases us and not Him, then what good is our love?

Jesus loved the Father so much that He obeyed Him even to the point of dying on the cross. In the eyes of God, love and obedience are intricately related. We cannot have one without the other. Where there is the love of God, there is obedience to God and vice versa. 

Maybe it is time to evaluate our love for God through the lens of obedience.

PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to cherish and walk in obedience to your word.

Daily Devotional 2-21-20

Do You Have a King?
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful

In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6

Imagine a city in which there is no public service leadership, no law, and no order—no regulations to guide people’s actions relative to one another. Can you imagine the level of corruption and chaos that would ensue?  Imagine for the last time, at an inner-city intersection with no traffic light or law enforcement officer to direct the flow of traffic. Can you visualize the stress as drivers strive to prevent hitting one another? It would be chaotic and stressful with frequent cases of accidents.

This was the case in Israel. They had no king. There was no one to enforce the laws to keep people within acceptable boundaries. People resorted to doing whatever was right in their eyes.  In other words, people became their own source of authority. They determined what was right and acceptable. Think of the number of opinions there would be on a single issue. On a more serious note, Israel went bonkers in their relationship with God. What was sinful became okay and normal. Israel had no prophet or king to instill order and return them to their relationship with through repentance. 

Check every community where people have no recognition of God and you would see chaos and disaster. Relationships are broken, corruption on the ascendency, and factions due to varied opinions on societal issues. Is it possible for you to live and thrive in such an environment? 

In contemporary times, the word of God is the guide for our lives. It directs and orders our lives so that we are able to honor God and others. I know this for sure: if, as a nation, we go back to God and if families would return to the word of God, most of the social vices and brokenness we see all around us would be a thing of the past.  

What shows you have a king in your life?

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me to submit to your instructions, knowing they you give them for my best interest.