Bible Reference: Matthew 8:7-10
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)
Bible Text:7 Jesus responded, “I will go with you and heal him.” 8–9 But the Roman officer interjected, “Lord, who am I to have you come into my house? I understand your authority, for I too am a man who walks under authority and have authority over soldiers who serve under me. I can tell one to go and he’ll go, and another to come and he’ll come. I order my servants and they’ll do whatever I ask. So I know that all you need to do is to stand here and command healing over my son and he will be instantly healed.” 10 Jesus was astonished when he heard this and said to those who were following him, “He has greater faith than anyone I’ve encountered in Israel!
OBSERVATION: The Roman officer had heard of the awesome power of Jesus, how He healed the sick and raised the dead, therefore as he asked Jesus to come and heal his son (or servant), he had faith to believe that Jesus could do this in person, or by merely speaking the word. Jesus had never witnessed such faith during His time on earth. I wonder if He has seen such faith in my life. How about yours, my friend? Let’s meditate on this Scripture today, and allow God to open our eyes of faith.
APPLICATION: just in case you may be thinking right from the start that you could never have the kind of faith that the disciples had, or like Bible characters had, let me remind you that we are not alone in this. You might recall that Peter needed some help with believing that Jesus was alive, yet I’m sure that he and his fellow disciples prayed very hard for themselves and their Savior who had been crucified. While Peter had begun his miraculous walk on the water, yet his inept faith soon kicked in, causing Peter to begin sinking into the water. I find myself guilty of asking God to rest His hand of healing upon someone that I may be praying for, but I am reminded in the Scripture today that God could just as easy speak the word, and this body that He meticulously put together in the first place, could once again be healed and put back together by its Creator. So what about you my friend? How’s your faith? We practice it every day in worldly actions – driving over a bridge; driving through a tunnel; trusting that a shot of liquid medicine by our doctor would heal our serious ailments; trusting that our fuel gauge is accurately measuring the amount of fuel in our vehicle tanks; etc. So why do we find it so challenging to believe in a God who created the universe, you and me, and have taken exceptional care of us ever since? I believe that we must start with knowing God very intimately. Start by reading His Word that was provided for our edification and benefit. As we know Him, believe in Him, understand His limitless and unconditional love for His children, then perhaps we would easily believe in all that we read. Add to this a degree of trust in His answer to our prayers concerning needs that some may fell are fairly insignificant. A good friend of mind told me about the times that he was in a rush to leave his home, but couldn’t find his car, and house keys, and how he would stop and ask God for His help. Sounds insignificant, right? However, my friend felt very comfortable in placing much larger needs at the feet of Jesus, as they arose, because He knew already that he could trust God to answer his urgent prayer needs. I live hundreds of miles away from most of my family, yet I know that my simple prayer of faith could invoke the attention of my God to touch a family member, because He heard my prayer. Now, before our naysayers chime in with the times their prayers were not answered, let me remind you that as Christians, we are to seek the best answer that God sees fit for us. I may ask in my prayer that God take me to another country, but I arrive at the airport and find that the plane has mechanical problems, so I can’t travel until the following day. Did God answer my prayer? Of course He did my friend, for He kept me safe from whatever accident or disaster that would have happened with our plane in the air. Remember, we ask God, we don’t tell Him what He should or would do. The Bible says that if we ask, we will receive. Ask in faith my friend, and believe that the God who loves you immeasurably, is waiting to hear from you, and will answer your prayer.
PRAYER: Lord God, thank You for loving me unconditionally, and for listening to my, often, petty requests. Please forgive me for the lack of faith that usually holds me back from basking in your goodness. Lord, I believe that many of my readers are very similar to myself in wanting to trust you more. I would plead for the faith of Moses when He stood at the shores of the Red Sea with thousands of followers behind him, and in faith and obedience to Your commands, he follwed through with Your orders and watched in amazement as You parted the waters, for their safe travel through to the other side. Oh how small our challenges are compared to that. May we be true to Your Word and obedient to Your commands, for in faith we could believe and receive Your awesome miracles, even in the lives of our family, friends and ourselves. Thank You for Your amazing grace and Your awesome power oh God. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Genesis 20:10-11
Translation: Amplified Bible (AMP)
Bible Text: 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What have you encountered or seen [in us or our customs], that you have done this [unjust] thing?” 11 Abraham said, “Because I thought, ‘Surely there is no fear or reverence of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
OBSERVATION: Realizing that God knows all things, even the heart of man, I wonder how often He must shake His head in disappointment, and shock, at what we say at times, and what we do in response to our inner conclusions and assumptions! I believe we have a similar situation in our Scripture today to ponder on…
APPLICATION: Can you think of a scenario where you reacted to a situation based on your assumptions about what was going on, what might happen, and possibly the intentions of the person who may be involved? I believe this occurs way more often than we could ever imagine, and I believe this creates more challenges for friends and family than anyone ever intended. But let’s consider the challenge in this story of Abraham and Abimelech. It starts out with Abraham being blessed with a beautiful wife – his half sister. Because of Sarah’s beauty, and Abraham’s self consciousness of his own physical protection, for the second time he tells the townspeople that Sarah is his sister. Fortunately, this is a truthful statement, because of Sarah being his half-sister, but he chose to share that relationship with them over their marital relationship. Notice that Abraham did this because he thought that the Abimelech clan was immoral and would easily turn on him, if need be. We could see from the story that this almost concluded in death to Abimelech. What sort of issues have arisen in our personal relationships, in our churches and in our communities because of our actions that resulted from our assumptions, and conclusions based upon what we thought was happening behind our backs, or what would happen based on things for which we would have no control? Friends, because of our DNA, others will detect from our actions, our decisions and our reactions, who we are related to on earth. Let’s remember that this is also a baramoter of whose we are. Children of the King will act like Him, speak like Him and react from a heart of love like He does. Are we deserving of any of the gifts that we are consciously aware of, and recognize as being awesome gifts from on high? Yet He blesses us anyway. Do our friends or family deserve to be loved, treated like royalty, forgiven and blessed by us? They may not always be deserving, but if we, who are called sons and daughters of the Almighty God, blessed by Him in every way, and seeking to imitate Him in every way, then shouldn’t we look for ways to bless, love and serve them, without allowing the deceit of Abraham to penetrate our hearts and hurt the other party, just to protect ourselves? Friends, God looked at you and me, and in spite of our sin, our disobedience, our deceit and our ugly attitudes, yet in love He said ‘but I love you anyway’ and He therefore proved that love by sending His own precious Son to be born among us; suffer at the hands of the people; beaten, mocked, scorned and crucified like a criminal; while all the while saying ‘it’s all for YOU my child, so that YOU might have the only means of righteousness, that leads to eternal life with my Father and I’. Friends, I believe that with this same ‘righteousness’ given to us by Jesus, not only are we assured of heaven, but I truly believe that it also helps us to be more like Him while here on this earth also. Abraham needed that kind of righteousness, and I’m sure that you and I need it. If you are not under the authority of this one, true God, the giver of all righteousness, may I encourage you to stop and take time to read through my footnote, and the linked page entitled ‘To Know Jesus’? Your life could be eternally changed my friend!
PRAYER: Lord, as we studied your Word in Genesis 20 today, it is evident that mankind has struggled in many ways right from the very beginning. However, throughout Your Word, You also make it very clear that You are the answer to all of life’s struggles by mankind, so we look to You in all of our need and insufficiencies of life. Please help us to remain focused on Your awesome power, Your love and the everlasting hope that awaits the believer in Your Son, Jesus. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Matthew 7:21
Translation: Living Bible (TLB)
Bible Text: 21 “Not all who sound religious are really godly people. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but still won’t get to heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven.
OBSERVATION: What must I do to be saved? What must I do to be assured of going to heaven? What must I do to look good in the eyes of Almighty God? What should I do to be happy and content like other ‘real’ Christians I see? These are some of the questions we may hear from loved ones that God is actively dealing with. Let’s meditate on how we might biblically answer them.
APPLICATION: One of the skills that might help a security guard, or a policeman, might be to recognize attributes in a suspicious person, beforethey reach to their pocket to pull out a gun. One of the ways that we recognize who might be a good friend, is through their personal qualities that attract us to them. Of course, the opposite is also true, and our instincts quickly kick in causing us to run the opposite direction. So then, wouldn’t it be easy to identify those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus? Wouldn’t they tend to act like Him; speak like He does in His Word; and live like Him – as demonstrated throughout His Word? In our Scripture today Jesus is warning us to be on guard for those who claim to be of God, but who are not, for they are really pretending to be a God follower, while all the while intentionally misleading unsuspecting children of the King away from God. This will sound so strange to many of you, that you might wonder why on earth this would even be included for our edification. But friends, Jesus goes on to explain that many are claiming salvation through various means, in spite of the Word being very clear that there is only ONE WAY. It is really frightening to listen to regular church attendees on the reason for their assurance of salvation. While I don’t claim to be the expert, I believe the Word of God has the full story. Attending church for numerous years, or having the most godly parents, or doing good for everyone you come across, or giving your last dime to help a person in need – these may all be evidence of a heart surrendered to the person of Jesus Christ, and in full conformity with the will of God. But to attempt these good works hoping to win the heart of God, is not at all biblical. For those still standing in awe of what God expects, please read Matthew 7 carefully and other related Scripture, for the Word declares that unless you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are just living in a world of wishful thinking. In our chapter today, in verses 21 – 23, we are told that the proof of a believer’s relationship with God is evidenced in their obedience to the will of God. What is God’s will? Let me encourage you to read His Word and seek out all that He would have you do. God put it in His Word so that we might know what He wants from us. Let’s seek to be obedient children, fellow believers.
PRAYER: For mankind to be changed from a sinful, destructful life of pleasure, greed and selfish desires, it could only be through the power of a God like You. Thank You Heavenly Father for reaching down into my world and touching this child that was destined for Hell. Lord, I believe that there are many who will read this devotional who could share the same sentiments as I did, and I thank You for being so gracious to us. However, there are some who will be destined to read this who really needs You. Please do Your amazing work, even through these humble words from your servant. Please draw these wonderful people to yourself, and gently challenge them to a true, real, dedicated relationship with the Master of our universe. There is no other God besides You. Oh that we may find ourselves in true relationship with You and obedient to Your perfect will for us. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Matthew 6:16-18
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)
Bible Text: 16 “When you fast, don’t look like those who pretend to be spiritual. They want everyone to know they’re fasting, so they appear in public looking miserable, gloomy, and disheveled.[o]Believe me, they’ve already received their reward in full.17–18 When you fast, don’t let it be obvious, but instead, wash your face[p]and groom yourself and realize that your Father in the secret place is the one who is watching all that you do in secret and will continue to reward you openly.”
OBSERVATION: The Word of God is clear that if we publicize that we are fasting, our reward will be nothing more than what we hear back from our audience. That defeats the whole purpose of fasting, for we are dedicating ourselves to petition God for a specific need that we have personally, or corporately. Today, let us consider why we should fast, how should we fast, and what do we expect from a fast.
APPLICATION: I believe that when you look at an entrepreneur starting out in business – one that is pictured in their mind as a unique opportunity to fulfill a specific need for consumers, or industry, or intense profitability, you will hardly see them in their usual places of worship, at events with their family, or just having casual fun. For they are 100% engrossed in making that business succeed, and to be all that they pictured in their minds. So what about the Christian who is desperately seeking God to intervene in their lives personally, or in their family unit, or in their church, or even in their workplace? Does it seem natural to just ask someone else to pray, or casually commit those specific needs in corporate prayer, or even in your personal prayer time, when you tend to cover a wide spectrum of things, and of life itself, before God? I would say yes in all cases, but I would go a step further by sharing what I believe the Bible teaches on fasting and praying. You see, the businessperson spoken of above, will skip meals, miss family events, and more, just to totally dedicate themselves to their new business opportunity. In the life of a Christian, we might casually pray about the weather, or our child in school, etc, but consider how much more intense our prayers become when a loved one is barely hanging on to life, and the doctors are uncertain if they will possibly survive the medical issues they are having. The latter is more of the mindset of a believer when they fast, and dedicate time in prayer over a specific request. For they are willing to forego one or more meals, or perhaps give up caffeine or Facebook, or something that they feel could be sacrificed for dedicated time to plead in prayer before their Maker on a matter of prime importance to them. Think about if friend, what is the most important thing in your life right now? What do you feel is the most critical need in your life, or in the lives of those you care about, and for which you would be willing to do ANYTHING, in order to turn things around in those circumstances? Would you be willing to give up something important to you, just so that you could spend intimate and intense time talking to God about that? The Scripture tells us today that should you consider a fast, it is something that you decide together with God. There is no need to send a note to the local newspapers, or your pastor, or anyone else. For the pat-on-the-back you receive from those around you is the only reward you could expect. A one-on-one, intimate and private relationship with the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world, our soon coming King, a commitment to commune with Him alone, and a mindset that you are willing to do anything as you seek God about a specific need, is the key to fasting and praying. It’s between you and God – no one else need be involved. Do you have a need of that importance to you today? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to dedicate the time in prayer before God Almighty over that need? What takes place in privacy between you and God, will be rewarded publicly by the King of all kings, according to His promises in His Word!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, it just rolls off our lips without effort or thought, that we will pray for someone. Oh that we may become a people of sincerity, especially in the matters of prayer. When asked to complete chores at home, we don’t look for excuses or distractions, but we seek to serve one another faithfully as we try to please each other in actions and words. The privilege of spending time with You, Almighty God, is beyond our wildest imagination, for who are we that our Creator, who put us together for His glory, should look on us in tender mercy and listen to our petitions. Please forgive us for our littleness, and our insincerity, and our lack of commitment. Lord, we need You every hour of every day, and often a lot more frequently. Please teach us to pray, and help us to see the urgency of prayer before the only One who could make a difference in our lives. May we be willing to give up the world to meet with You, Heavenly Father. You are the only one who could answer our prayers. May we commit to pray, and in times of our deepest need, may we never hesitate to fast and pray. AMEN!
The Bible Reference For Today: Psalm 59:16–17
The Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)
The Bible Text: But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.
My Take Away: In almost every aspect of life, a good beginning sets the stage for a good ending, and everything in between. Take for instance the construction of a house. If care is not taken to get the foundation perfectly level, can you imagine the disaster you will be faced with in every other phase of the construction, and even when you try to live in the house? So what happens then to your day when you wake up disgruntled, start by grumping at the dog and being less than respectful to your spouse? Can you possibly turn that around when you arrive at work and find the air conditioning or heat broken and the first employee to arrive prepared to quit your company and move on in their career? What if we had to imitate David and begin our day reflecting on, and singing about God’s power? You know, the same God who showed His gracious love for you by sacrificing His only Son, Jesus, to facilitate your way into heaven? You know, the same God that you witnessed bringing sunshine to your previous day – especially when you stopped and reflected on the number of friends and family who seemed doomed for an eternity in Hell and, had no hope here on earth? You know, the One who helped you to reflect on the satisfaction of having a job to go to and subsequently support your family – especially when you stopped and considered the relatives and friends who did not have a job? You know, the One who made sure that you had a safe place to rest your head the night before – especially when you turned on the news channel and saw stories of some sleeping under bridges or in tents? Friends, I believe we would have no difficulty at all finding a number of things to praise God for each morning, if only we could concentrate on the precious gifts that He gave to us the previous day. Yes, we live in an imperfect world, and I’m not naive enough to believe that everything went perfect in your previous day, but what I do know, is that if we learn to praise God for His many, undeserved, gifts then the stuff we didn’t like wouldn’t look near as bad. Furthermore, reflecting on the miracles, and the blessings, and the good things, and giving God credit for all that He did for us, gives us a sense of assurance to present our new day to that same God and plead His presence, His refuge, His guidance and His blessings on us as we strive to represent Him in every aspect of our lives. Imagine placing yourself in the hands of the Creator of this universe! Can you imagine any mountain that may be too tall or too tough for Him? Your anticipated path may seem impassable to you, but just remember friend, our Designer and Creator put those mountains in place for a purpose, and if we are to walk over, or through those mountains, He has the power to level the ground for us to pass! Praise the wonderful name of the Lord!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, glorious and almighty in all Your power, we are humbled before You today, feeling a little ashamed about how we tend to concentrate so much on the impossibilities of life instead of the accomplishments that were obviously handled by You on our behalf. Lord, we are so weak and helpless, but praise to Your wonderful grace, we who have accepted You as Lord, can praise You today for Your powerful hand intervening in our lives and protecting us from Satan’s destructive and misleading hand. Father, please inspire within us the desire to praise You with all assurance that You’ve got control of all things in the life of a believer, and for that reason we should always recognize Your power and Your might in all things, because of Your love for us. You are holy and so worthy oh Lord, and we are so needy. We humble ourselves before You in recognition of these things. Thank You for being our God, our Deliverer, our Protector, our Guide, our Savior and soon coming King! AMEN!