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    Daily Devotion

    Everyone, let's shout joyfully to the Lord.

    Verse of the Day, February 23, 2021 

    Psalm 100:3 NASB "Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of his pasture."

    The psalmist gives us the method and the reason we should give thanks to God. We give thanks by shouting praise to God's name. We acknowledge God as the God who made us. We are God's people because He made us and then redeemed us from our brokenness (100:3).

    We thank God by serving with gladness (100:2). We serve God with gladness by singing joyful praises to his name (100:2). We sing praises to God's name by singing about him, his character, and his actions toward us. When we come before God in prayer, worship, or service, we should enter His presence with an attitude of gratitude (100:4).

    The reason we serve God with an attitude of gratitude: "For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness is to all generations (100:5).

    O Lord, my God, I will sing how great You are, how amazing Your grace is, how even the birds sing at the sound of your voice, and about the joy we share when we tarry here, in your presence. Lord Jesus, you are good to me; your mercy and goodness are unending to me. My God and Savior, because You have been faithful to my ancestors, I know you will forever be faithful to my descendants and me. Lord Jesus, thank you now for the opportunities I will have to shout joyfully to You as I experience Your lovingkindness throughout the day. In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Believer, whatever you do, honor Jesus, and thank God.

    Verse of the Day, February 20, 2021 

    Colossians 3:17 CSB "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

    Lord Jesus, control my life so that everything I say and do will be a testimony to your rule and my thank you to God my Father, for the life he has entrusted to me. Christ Jesus, let your love rule my heart, banding me together with other believers and making me thankful I belong to the body of Christ (church; Colossians 3:15). Let your word dwell deep within us, so with all wisdom, we can teach and admonish one another with psalms (words of wisdom and worship, from the Book of Psalms), hymns (songs of reflection and praise), and spiritual songs (songs of theological meaning as opposed to secular platitudes) with thankfulness in our hearts to God (an attitude of gratitude for God's grace, through the singing of His greatness; Colossians 3:16). Above all things, let us put on love, which is the bond of unity (Colossians 3:14). Lord Jesus, I beg you to help me put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience before I engage with anyone this weekend. Lord, may my Christian wardrobe show everyone how thankful I am to be chosen of God, holy and beloved (Colossians 3:12).

    In Jesus' name alone, I pray, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Who do you love?

    Verse of the Day, February 18, 2021 

    1 John 4:17 CSB "In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world."

    How does God perfect love in us? John says, "In this," which points us to the preceding verses and propels us forward. Love is perfected or made complete when we have confidence that we are free of judgment (Romans 8:1; 1 John 4:17–18).

    Love begins and ends with God's love for us and our love for God (1 John 4:16). We abide in God's love, and our love for God remains when we "confess that Jesus is the Son of God" (4:15). Believers in Jesus have a reciprocal love relationship that exists between God, His Son, and through the Spirit of Son (Jesus, the Christ) with the church. We love because God first loved us (4:19, 13).

    True love (biblical love), when perfected, knows no fear because fear involves punishment (4:18, 12). Some people hate (refuse to love others) because they fear rejection. Living in God's love motives us to love others, as God loves us. In the future, we do not fear being judged for our hatred of others (4:20–21). Once, we did not love God. We proved our lack of love for him by disobeying his word. Jesus has atoned for our sin. We are not perfect, but "we stand in relation with God in the same way Christ does, and in this way, we are like [Jesus]" (Akin, NAC). We have a new relationship with our future judge.

    Lord, my God, and Father thank you for showing me love that I may know love, remain in the love of Christ, and through the indwelling Spirit love you in return. Lord Jesus, help me today not to hate. Let me see those who hate me as those you need to know the love of God, confess You as His Son, and experience the love of the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit. Lord, help me experience Your love, so I can reveal godly love to others, even before they love me in return. Lord, I want to show someone who has not seen you your love, so they do not fear the future. I Jesus name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    We are never alone when we pray, plan, and proceed under God's control.

    Verse of the Day, February 17, 2021 

    Proverbs 16:1–3 (NASB95)

    "The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your works to the Lord, And your plans will be established."

    As believers, we should understand our human responsibility concerning God's sovereignty. God is in control, but we are responsible for planning and putting forth an effort. We make plans and proceed, but God has the final say about our plans' success (Proverbs 2:6, 16:1). Our plans often seem foolproof, but God knows why and what we hope to accomplish (Proverbs 16:2). We must commit our work to the Lord if we expect to carry out our plans according to God's will for and control over our life (Proverbs 16:3).

    Lord, I acknowledge You know me and my motives. Please guide me today, so my plans will help me act Your way. Please make me think before I speak, so my words match Your will for today. Make my plans in unison with the truth of the Bible. Make my attitude and expectations pleasing to You. Lord, I desire to commit my work to Your control. Lord, I will trust you as if everything depends on You, and I will work as if everything depends on me (St. Augustine). Lord, You know my thoughts, strengths, and weaknesses. When things stop going as I have planned, help me adjust my efforts to your agenda. In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Believers, Paul gives us the why and how of praying for our leaders.

    Verse of the Day, February 15, 2021 

    1 Timothy 2:1-2 CSB "First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, [2] for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity."

    The apostle Paul urged Timothy to hold on to preach and teach the Bible standard of living because people living God’s way live rightly and in peace with each other (1 Timothy 1:1–11). People living God’s way need not worry about breaking civil laws (1 Timothy 1:9–11). 

    Paul also urged Timothy to teach believers to pray for our leaders. Biblical believers believe in the Bible, the God of the Bible, and Jesus, as the only mediator between and humanity (1 Timothy 1:1–7, 2:5–7). Believers pray for leaders so that we can live a tranquil life. Leaders make and enforce laws that prevent unbelievers from straying to extreme rejection of God’s laws (1 Timothy 1:9–11; 2:2). When we pray for leaders, thank God for placing civil authority over people who reject God’s standard of righteousness (1 Tim 2:1, 1:12–17). Next, we should pray for our lawmakers to write laws that promote godliness and protect all people's dignity (1 Timothy 2:2).

    I know what you are thinking. Why should we pray for leaders with whom we disagree and a dysfunctional unproductive government system? Paul also addresses your objection with two reasons. First, we should pray because "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior" (2:3). Would you rather be angry at your leaders or acceptable in God's eyes? You can pray for leaders or punctuate your dislike of them. Second, we should pray because God "desires all men (all people including leaders) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3). Laws are written in agreement with biblical standards and principles by leaders who believe in the Bible, the God of the Bible, and Jesus, as the only mediator between and humanity (1 Timothy 1:1–7, 2:5–7).

    Lord Jesus, I pray for our leaders. I pray for you to protect and encourage our Christian leaders, who stand firm in God's law and rule over His people's lives. Lord, I pray for our leaders, with whom I disagree. Lord, I pray for our leaders who accept and promote doctrines that conflict with the Bible. Lord, I pray that our leaders, who trust You, will stand firm and struggle harder to write laws that promote godliness (living right in God's sight) and protect all people's dignity (1 Timothy 2:2). Lord Jesus, the only mediator between God and men (people, humanity), I pray for all men (our leaders and our citizens) to be saved and come to the knowledge of Your truth (2:4). Lord, I understand my need to pray for those who do not govern, by Your standards, because "a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (examined, by a soul controlled by the Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Lord, I thank You for entrusting me with the responsibility of praying for our nation's tranquility and the salvation of our leaders and citizens. Holy Spirit, keep me more concerned about being acceptable in God's sight than disappointed in those I disagree with.

    In our Mediator, Jesus Christ's name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Our generosity lends to the Lord.

    Verse of the Day, February 13, 2021 

    Proverbs 19:17 CSB "Kindness to the poor is a loan to the LORD, and he will give a reward to the lender."

    Communism and socialism never solve the problem of equality and equity. Language, words, and definitions change so that the older permanent political elite can appease the younger generation and sustain votes. Today's verse presents a principle. God tasks each passing generation with the responsibility of teaching this principle to the next generation: "Disciple your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death" (Proverbs 19:18 (NASB); "do not set your heart on being the cause of his death" (CSB)). God says, because of sin ". . . the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying 'you shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'" (Deuteronomy 15:11).

    Taking from the have's to give to the have-not's is not loaning to the Lord. Proverbs 19:17 reflects the command God gives in Deuteronomy 15:7–11. God's people were instructed to forgive debts every seven years. God warned His people not to harden their hearts toward the poor because the seventh year neared. God knew some people wouldn't help the poor because the poor would not have time to repay them. God's people do not give to the poor because of how the needy will benefit them. God says we are to graciously give to those in need and "the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and all your undertakings" (Deuteronomy 15:10).

    We shouldn't expect unbelievers to understand God's principles. As Christians, we should help our Christian brothers and sisters in need and share the gospel with unbelievers. The more people saved, by the grace of Christ, the more people who help each other. Giving to others is loaning to God. God, who is eternal, will never run out of time to repay us. I have discovered a permanent political leader who will provide equality and equity. His name is Jesus Christ. In my King Jesus' 1000 year reign on earth (the Millennium), everyone will live in an equal and equitable society. Until then, God's people should help one another as if we are lending to the Lord. Sharing the gospel often entails also helping with people's physical needs. God's plan involves lifting everyone to a higher standard of living. Some days we provide physical needs to others so that God can supply our spiritual needs.

    Lord Jesus, I know I can help the less fortunate. I can graciously give to them because I am lending to them, from that you have lent to me. I know you always repay your debts. You came to earth, born of a virgin, lived the life I should have lived (God's way), died the death I deserved to die. (because I hadn't lived God's way) so that my sin debt was satisfied. You were resurrected, so I know my sin debt is paid in full. Lord, You helped me in my time of need. Please help me to see and help others in their time of need. Lord, I understand policies cannot produce equality and equity, but a gospel changed life graciously help lift others out of poverty. Lord, we can give because you have already given your best, so we can rest from our debt. In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Church, let's repeatedly respect and speak praise to God for His power to create, give life, and keep His creation alive.

    Verse of the Day, February 10, 2021 

    Revelation 4:11 (NASB95)

    “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created.”

    Our Lord deserves our praise. The phrase Our Lord and God describes God as the One we serve and/or worship. The twenty-four elders and four living creatures sing a new song and cast their crowns (the rule and rights to their life) before their God and sovereign King (Rev 4:10, 5:6–9). Revelation 4 and 5 teach that God the Father and God Son are worthy of our praise (glory), our utmost respect (honor), and tribute for His creative power. 

    We should speak highly of God’s worth, proclaim why our Lord deserves respect, and repeatedly speak of His ability to create and sustain all we see, know, and experience. Because God willed, the world was created. God thought it, He spoke it into being, and His power causes everything to remain (Colossians 1:16–17; Hebrews 11:3).

    Dear gracious heavenly Father, You are our Lord and God. You alone deserve “for people to tell you how great you are, honor you, and praise you for your power . . . [because] you made all things, and you willed that they exist, and so they received life” (UBS Handbook: Revelation). You are powerful and honorable. Thank you for all You have done and do. 

    O Lord my God, My Saviour God, How great You are. When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; I see the stars, hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. 

    Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

    When through the woods and forest glades I wander And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees. When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, I see the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

    Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

    And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; that on a Cross, my burdens gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.

    Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

    When Christ shall come, with a shout of acclamation, And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart, then I shall bow, in humble adoration, And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

    In Jesus' name, I praise and pray: Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 

    How great Thou art, amen.

    Robert G. Bratcher and Howard Hatton, A Handbook on the Revelation to John, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 94–95.

    Carl Boberg, "How Great Thou Art," 1886.

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    Daily Devotion

    God calls us to return home.

    Verse of the Day, February 9, 2021 

    Jeremiah 3:19 CSB "I thought, "How I long to make you my sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations." I thought, "You will call me 'My Father' and never turn away from me."

    God chose to make Israel a nation of envy. From one man, the man Abraham, God created Israel. The country would be like a child. Israel would obey God’s rules, and God would bless them beyond all other nations. Actually, things went well for a while. David establishes the city of God. David’s son, Solomon, leads the people in worship of his father's God (The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who God named Israel). King Solomon led the people to worship the God of the Bible. But Solomon allowed false gods and beliefs to enter the nation. Solomon dies, and a power struggle ensues. A civil war divides Israel into the northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah). The people no longer envied belonging to God as much as they envied other nations' power and prominence.

    Sound familiar? God uses the imagery of Family. God calls a runaway child or straying spouse to return home. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God uses wordplays of the word “return” to warn his people what happens when we resist God’s call to repent. The struggle for a nation divided sounds familiar when we turn on our TV or login into our social media accounts. However, like Israel, we have more of a personal problem than we have a national crisis. God calls individuals to repent and return. A nation returns to God one person at a time.

    God warns us this morning that failure to heed His warning to return home (Faith in God, obedience to His rule, and worship of Christ alone) only hardens of hearts. Every time we resist God’s individual call to return home, our hearts become more calloused. Every time the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word (Bible) and our conscience, convicts us of not obeying God’s laws and we refuse to repent (turn from sin and turn to a restored relationship and fellowship with God), our heart hardens. God warns us the longer we wait to repent, the easier it is not to return to His will for us. 

    Saved people (believers in Jesus’ finished work on the cross) know God’s ways and the world’s ways do not work together. We know when we have disobeyed God. The longer we wait to repent, the easier it is not to return home to worship and obey God. Why do we not repent and return? We envy what those around us have more than we envy our relationship with Christ Jesus. We see other people doing what they want, getting what they want, and nothing bad happens. Therefore, we think that is not fair; why can't I do what I want? If others do what they want, it's ok. I will get back to church, regularly praying, reading my Bible, spending time with the Lord and other believers as soon as I get what I want. God warns us the longer you wait, the more likely you will not return home until you have suffered the consequences of your sin. 

    Lord Jesus, I hear you calling “Come Home, O sinner, Come Home.” Lord Jesus, I acknowledge our relationship is no longer a priority in my daily life. Jesus, thank You for calling me home. Lord, I repent and return to Your gracious homecoming offer: "If we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Lord, I no longer want what the world offers. Lord, I want to be with You in all I say and do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen and Amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    If you believe in Jesus, then practice fellowship with God and other believers.

    Verse of the Day, February 8, 2021 

    1 John 1:9 CSB "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

    The apostle John, in 1 John 1:1–2:2, presents us with the key to fellowship. "Fellowship" is the close participation of people with the same interests; however, John reminds us that true fellowship begins when our interests are aligned with God’s character and nature. When believers are in fellowship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, HIs life, ministry, death, resurrection, and rule over the heart’s (life and decisions) of believers, then we can have fellowship with one another (John 1:5–8). 

    We all have days, weeks, situations, etc., where our fellowship is broken with other people. John uses the “if . . . then” rhetorical device to help us understand what disrupts fellowship and how to restore fellowship. If we have broken fellowship with others, then we need to look at our fellowship with God. God created us for fellowship. If our fellowship is correct with God, our fellowship will be right with others. I understand sometimes people do things beyond our control, but John is instructing us to examine our part in the broken fellowship. If we have fellowship with God, then we are treating others as God treats us.

    John says we need to restore fellowship with God before we attempt to repair broken fellowship with others. The key to sweet fellowship is the correct relationship with God, through Christ’s forgiveness. When we are unfaithful to God, Jesus remains faithful to us (He forgives or punishes sin. 2 Timothy 2:13). Has your fellowship been disrupted? Examine your faithfulness to God in your actions and attitude. If we confess we are not living God’s way, then Jesus promises to take two actions on our behalf to restore fellowship. First, If we confess our part in the problem (sin), then Jesus will forgive us (remove the shame and guilt of our part in the problem). Second, If we confess our sin, then Jesus will cleanse us from the unrighteous action and attitude that broke the fellowship in the first place. Jesus promises to forgive and also help us change the bad habits that caused us to sin. 

    Lord Jesus, thank you for being faithful and righteous (keeping your promises and keeping God’s justice). Thank you for keeping your promise that if we confess our sin, then You will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (John 1:9). Lord Jesus, thank you for putting my well-being before your own, dying for my sins so that I can have fellowship with God (John1:1–2:2; 1 Peter 3:18). Help me, Jesus, to forsake any habits, actions, and attitudes that are not pleasing to God. Help me, today, keep fellowship with God my main priority. Help me treat others as you treat me, considering their interests more important than my own (Philippians 2:1–4). 

    Lord, “This is the message we have heard from [Your word] and announce to [each other], that God is Light, and in Him, there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with [God] and yet walk in the darkness (without life with Christ), we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light (faith in Christ, and obedience to God's commands; John 3:16, 36) as [God] Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of [our Lord] Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:5–8 (NASB95)). Lord Jesus, I confess, I often put my opinion and interests before your plan for my fellowship with God and other people. Please forgive me for not thinking and acting God’s way yesterday, and help me, today, begin establishing new habits. Help me stay in fellowship with you today, and share our fellowship with other people. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Believer, God keeps His promises to those who obey love and Him.

    Verse of the Day, February 5, 2021 

    1 Kings 8:56 CSB "Blessed be the LORD! He has given rest to his people Israel according to all he has said. Not one of all the good promises he made through his servant Moses has failed."

    King Solomon, the wisest man to walk the earth besides Jesus, recognized God’s promises never fail. The book of Ecclesiastes identifies Solomon as “The Preacher.” In 1 Kings 8, Solomon, after building the temple and placing the ark (God’s commandments) in the temple, stands to proclaim God’s good promises to God’s people. Do you sometimes think God is not keeping his promises to you? The good news, Solomon’s message still applies in 2021.

    King Solomon first, reviews and remembers God’s promises to his father David. God promised David that he would use his son Solomon and bless him (1 Kings 8:12–21). Solomon faces the people and tells them of God’s promises and how God had kept his promises in the past. When you think God is not keeping his promises, review and remember past experiences of God keeping promises to you. 

    Next, Solomon, facing the people, raises his hands toward heaven and prays (8:22). Solomon prays to God, out loud and before the people, so that they can hear him praise God for keeping his promises. Solomon acknowledges that there are times when God withholds his promises from his people (8:31–40). God keeps his promises; however, God withholds his promises, when we sin (disobey God’s rules, shift our loyalties to something or someone other than God). Solomon’s prayer reveals one of God’s greatest promises. Solomon praises God for the gift of grace and claims God’s promise of forgiveness. God promises to hear our prayer. When we ask for forgiveness, God never withholds his promise to listen (8:37–45). 

    Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1:20–22). When nothing seems to be going right and we think God is not keeping His promises to care for, protect, bless, and provide for us, we need to stop and review and ask ourselves, “Am I keeping my promises to God?” Jesus was born, died, was resurrected to fulfill God’s promise of forgiveness (Genesis 3:15, John 3:16, Revelation 5, 12). God provided forgiveness before we promised to obey and love him. Christians are forgiven, but we still stray. Straying saints need to realize God withholds his promises so that we pray, repent, and can return to him. Is anything in your life unpleasing to God? Pray and say "O Lord my God, forgive me and help me return to your good promises." 

    Our prayer should reflect Solomon’s benediction:

    “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. 

    “May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, 

    that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. 

    “And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, 

    so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else. 

    “Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.” (1 Kings 8:56–61 (NASB95)). In Jesus’ name, amen.

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    Sunday, February 28th, 10 am (EST)