13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:13 CSB)
My hope is that we read the scriptures far more than we read devotionals. Those of us who do write devotionals strive to provide commentary in line with the scripture we quote.
There is so much sound teaching that exist in the scriptures. Pretty much everything we need can be found there or provided through prayer and the Spirit. No matter what you may be facing, comfort and reassurance comes through these three elements.
All of this is to continually point us toward the faith and love that exist in Jesus.
I feel too often I may focus on our faith and too little on Jesus. But all of scripture speaks to faith in Christ so that we are not left wanting. All scripture points to Him and Him alone. Every devotional should resound with the name of Jesus.
We who write are but signpost to this simple fact; preaching Christ crucified and His salvation.
18 I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’
21 “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:18-21 CSB)
This is a sobering piece of scripture. We want to think that all we have prepared for will be there for us tomorrow. However, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.
Now, this is not to say that we should not be diligent about preparing for the future. This is not what the scripture is about.
The last three words are pivotal, “Rich toward God”.
What this means is that we are not just focused upon ourselves. We are rich toward God with our resources (time, treasure, talents) and in our actions. Showing the world that we are not ashamed of what we believe in, not stingy with our time. We reach out and become God’s hands in this world. We are rich toward our brothers and sisters because of our God.
When we are rich toward God he is rich toward us.
7 in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity[a] in your teaching. 8 Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8 CSB)
We have established that we live in a fallen world. It is no longer that we have to really look very hard to see just how broken we are. Lies are taken for the truth and truth for lies. It is easily to say with confidence we are living in a very bleak period.
We seem to have less and less power over what is happening as well. This leads many to feel helpless and alone.
But it is just how we respond and react to these times that shows what we are made of and who we serve. When we live a life that is marked by integrity and shows dignity to those around us we are making a stand for what, and who is right.
It may be hard to live a life today that is beyond reproach. Furthermore, our lives are now lived out in front of a camera for all to see. Thus, maintaining a strong integrity helps us to live beyond reproach. But we must avoid the inherent danger in thinking of our lives this way and live humbly accepting that we too are broken.
When we do this we gain power over the one element in life that can tarnish integrity, erode dignity and negate a life beyond reproach. Pride. We must be an example.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in your book and planned
before a single one of them began. (Psalm 139:16 CSB)
People get hung up on the idea of predestination. They want to argue if “all my days were written in Your book and planned” then where is my freedom of choice?
This is where an infinite God meets finite man’s mind.
Time is man’s construct. God sees yesterday, today and tomorrow as now. Thus, he sees the potential of our decisions around our path.
Our actual lives, however, are a tapestry of choices. Looking forward there are a multitude of paths we can choose to take each day and God knows where every one leads. Behind us is a beautifully woven tapestry of the strands we chose yesterday. Some are ligh strands and some are dark strands based upon the choices we made. However, there is a single golden strand that is woven there too which is the plan God has for us. Each day we make choices to trod that strand or one of the many others that make up the tapestry of our lives.
But, know that God knows where every strand leads, good, bad and his perfect will.
We must simply choose.
12 Teach us to number our days carefully
so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. (Psalm 90:12 CSB)
I recently bought a new watch. It has taken me a very long time to locate this type of watch as they are not in high demand and not made any longer by many watch makers.
It is a mechanically wound watch.
I used to carry a old pocket watch which I still have and direly love. However, the spring broke and getting these old watches fixed is horribly expensive. So it has sat for years telling the correct time twice a day.
When I found this wind up watch at a super reasonable price (if you do find them they can be really expensive, this one was not) I was really overjoyed. But why so much fuss over a watch I HAVE to wind up every day?
The daily act of winding that watch before I strap it on works much like writing my devotionals. It makes me stop and consider my day. The seconds, minutes and hours that it will count until I wind it the next day. The minutes counted down of my life.
This may seem morbid, but in truth it is just the opposite. It truly makes one consider what you will do with those minutes. It brings to mind the act of using them wisely.
4 Such is the confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 It is not that we are competent in[a] ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. (2 Corinthians 3:4-5 CSB)
There are so many reasons to lack confidence in this life. This is the state we are in when we try to claim anything ourselves. We are not nearly as self-sufficient as we like to believe and the smallest thing can rock our confidence.
But when we filter the world through God, and namely our confidence in Christ and the support of the Spirit, how can we lack!?
When we approach life in this way we can walk boldly, assured that even in difficulty we are assured.
Such is our confidence.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16 CSB)
So often I feel this scripture was written for me and me alone, the greatest of sinners.
God has shown so much grace, mercy and patience with me. So much that I did not deserve.
This is how God approaches us all. He is patient and merciful. Otherwise, none of us would ever see salvation. Even when we have we find ourselves sliding backward as if we are trying to climb the slipperiest of hills, He desires for us to but reach out.
We are all but dirty rags and undeserving. But His grace and mercy abounds. Furthermore, the hill is not meant to be slippery. We have a guide who is continually holding out a hand to steady us and provide firm footing.
We must but give up trying in our own power and give in to His unending power.
3 What does a person gain for all his efforts
that he labors at under the sun?
4 A generation goes and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever. (Ecclesiastes 1:3-4 CSB)
It can begin to feel like our days, right now, simply all run together. For many they are no longer broken by commute or a different work setting. For others who’s lives have been interrupted by job loss they feel like an endless search.
It is easy for our routine to become…routine. We begin to stagnate and lose focus. Our efforts become half-hearted.
But man was not meant to be mindless or to be stagnate. We were meant to use our minds and our bodies in our labor. Too much or too little can both become problematic. However, more than likely, too little is more detrimental. When we are less active there are so many other elements that come into play and begin to deteriorate.
Thus, even though we are in a different time now, we must remain diligent. And really, more so now than ever, we need to exercise our minds and bodies, stimulating growth and not stagnation. Now is not a time for sitting idly by.
Move! Mind and body.
27 They reported to Moses, “We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit. 28 However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there. (Numbers 13:27-28 CSB)
Have you ever looked at a challenge or difficulty in life understanding that on the other side was a land of milk and honey?
You probably have this happen more than you realize. Because we often cannot look beyond the difficulty to what might be on the other side. We have vision issues.
Right now that may seem almost impossible with all many are facing. But much like the generation who lived through the Great Depression, they could not see what was on the other side.
This is a story as old as time. The Israelites were on the cusp of having one of God’s great promises fulfilled, but all they saw was the hurtles they would have to overcome. They were focused on the problem and not on the solution. The solution, in this case, would do a lot of their fighting for them.
Maybe what awaits you on the other side of all this is far superior to what you have now.
9 The Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. (Acts 18:9 CSB)
It is easy to succumb to fear and negativity. There is so much going on in the world right now that has people down and fearful.
Yet, like Paul, we need to recognize that God is with us.
The Spirit within watches all that is going on in our lives and provides comfort we may not even realize we are receiving.
Each element of our lives creates opportunity for either fear or faith. The more often we rely upon faith and push fear aside the stronger we get. We learn to rely upon the Lord and push the enemy back. Each day becomes an opportunity and not a burden.
But we must begin by choosing faith over fear.