Daily Devotional “Empowered For Servicel”

Daily Devotional “Empowered For Service”
Be different!
September 21, 2023

“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us . . .” (Ephesians 3:20).

Through the Holy Spirit, God gives His children all the spiritual power they will ever need to live the Christian life.

It’s a joy to know that spiritual gifts are not like toys whose packages say “batteries required.”

What the Spirit provides is not dependent on perishable batteries for power.

Instead, when the Spirit secures our new life in Christ, He also empowers and strengthens us with every spiritual resource we’ll ever need to serve Christ and minister to others.

The Holy Spirit draws from an infinite supply of strength and power, as Paul indicates in Ephesians 3:20. In verse 16 he had just prayed that the Ephesians would “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”

Paul was certain that God’s Spirit can do far more in the lives of believers than most of us ever imagine.

So many of us don’t get past the phrase “to Him who is able,” and with that failure we limit how much the Holy Spirit can do in and through us.

Paul had much more than a theoretical understanding of the Spirit’s infinite power supply—he experienced it firsthand.

Even when he was stretched to the limit physically and spiritually, he said, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians. 4:8-9).

We can’t attribute his inner perseverance to any other source than the Holy Spirit.

No matter how difficult or discouraging our own circumstances become, we have the very same Spirit.

If we’re hindered, we don’t have to be frustrated. If we’re puzzled, we don’t have to be in despair.

If we’re persecuted, we don’t have to face it alone. If we’re dying from a physical disease, we can be alive in heart and spirit.

Our outer person might be exhausted and hard-pressed, but we have the assurance that our inner self is being renewed with fresh strength daily from the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians. 4:16).

Prayer

Thank God today that even before your life encounters a crisis, you have the Holy Spirit as a source of strength and power to help meet that challenge.

Further Reading

•Moses was uncertain that he could or would be empowered for God’s ministry. Read Exodus 3:1—4:17. What excuses did Moses raise?
•How did God deal with each one?

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Daily Devotional “Focusing on Scripture And the Lord”

Daily Devotional “Focusing on Scripture And the Lord”
Be different!
September 19, 2023

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

We must focus on God and His Word as we begin to walk by the Spirit.

Paul’s directive to the Galatians in today’s verse may sound like an impractical platitude.

But to the apostle this command was a foundational truth for how all Christians should live their daily lives.

The Greek for “walk” could be translated, “keep on continually walking.”

Life transpires one day at a time, and believers should routinely take each day one step at a time.

In walking by the Holy Spirit, our chief opposition is our own flesh (Galatians. 5:17).

Therefore, it is crucial that we possess the scriptural strategy for our spiritual walk and that we know how to practically and effectively carry it out.

The first part of our strategy has to be a daily intake of God’s Word.

Psalm 1:2 says that the man who walks on a godly path will “delight . . . in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

Meditation (patiently and thoroughly reflecting on a passage of Scripture) helps us effectively seal the Word in our hearts so we can obediently apply it and minister it in accordance with God’s Spirit.

Secondly, if we want to walk by the Spirit, we must focus on God and allow Him to renew our minds.

The key is found in Paul’s familiar command: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans. 12:2).

The believer who lives that way will undoubtedly walk by the Spirit because he will also be one who worships God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

As one Bible teacher so aptly phrased it, “Find me a worshiper of God, and I will show you a stable man with his mind in control, ready to meet the present hour with refreshment from above.”

Prayer

Pray today that the Lord would help you to begin removing everything from your life that is preventing you from worshiping Him wholeheartedly.

Further Reading

Joshua 1:8; Psalm 19:7-8; John 8:31-32; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 2:15; and Hebrews 4:12 all refer to God’s Word. Read them and write down all the different things they say about the importance of Scripture.
•What should motivate you to have a better intake of the Word?

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Daily Devotional “The Spirit And Prayer”

Daily Devotional “The Spirit And Prayer”
Be different!
September 18, 2023

“Be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).

Spending time with God in prayer is another crucial element in walking by the Spirit.

During my regular times in the Word, I often don’t know where Bible study ends and meditation begins, or where meditation turns into prayer.

My devotions are definitely a seamless process in which I read Scripture, meditate on it, and pray that God would help me understand it.

I’m sure that many of you have had the same experience. It ought to be like that for any believer who is faithful in spending time with the Lord daily.

Along with meditating on Scripture and focusing on God, prayer is an essential component of our strategy to walk by the Holy Spirit.

An attitude of moment-by-moment prayer, patterned after 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (“Pray without ceasing”), will greatly help us walk in step with the Spirit.

“Pray without ceasing” obviously does not mean believers are to spend every waking moment in formal prayer.

Paul’s command to the Thessalonians refers to recurring prayer, not a ceaseless uttering of words from a certain posture.

To pray as part of our spiritual walk means we bring every temptation before God and ask for His help.

It means we thank Him for every good and beautiful experience. It means we ask the Lord to allow us to join the fight against evil.

It means when we have an opportunity to witness, we pray that God would help us be faithful and that He would draw the person to Himself.

And finally, this kind of prayer means we’ll turn to God as our Deliverer whenever we have trials.

Thus, walking by the Spirit is a lifestyle of continual prayer.

All of our thoughts, actions, and circumstances become opportunities to commune with God.

And if that is true, we obey Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians. 6:18).

Prayer

Take a brief prayer list with you (on an index card) today, and try to pray through it several times during the day.

Further Reading

Matthew 6:1-8 leads into Jesus’ presentation of the Lord’s Prayer. What general attitude has no place in prayer?
•List the specific things Christ warns against, along with those He commends in this passage.

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Daily Devotional “Maintaining Spiritual Effectiveness”

Daily Devotional “Maintaining Spiritual Effectiveness”
Be different!
September 17, 2023

“Stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians. 6:11).

Satan wants to render you ineffective for Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 16:9 Paul says, “A wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” That’s typical of spiritual warfare.

The more opportunities you have to serve Christ, the more adversaries you’ll face. That’s because Satan seeks to hinder your spiritual service.

Often seminary students ask me if ministry becomes easier over the years.

In one sense it does because you learn better study skills, time management, and the like.

But in a greater sense it becomes more difficult because as you labor in the Word, contend for souls, and struggle against your own weaknesses, Satan opposes you at every turn.

You can sense something of the difficulty of ministry in Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: “Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians. 2:8-9).

To the Ephesian elders he said, “Be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears” (Acts 20:31).

Every sphere of ministry is important—whether you’re a pastor, homemaker, factory worker, or student.

Consequently, every ministry encounters opposition as Satan attempts to cause friction and discouragement within families, churches, and work places.

Thus, believers must be humble and gentle toward one another, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians. 4:3).

When we do that, the Body of Christ is strengthened and Satan can’t gain a foothold.

Ministry is hard work and the obstacles are great, but the victories are even greater.

So be faithful, knowing that God will reward you richly.

Prayer

•Thank God for the privilege of serving Him—even during the hard times.
•Thank Him for the encouragement you receive from His Spirit, His Word, and your fellow believers.

Further Reading

According to Romans 8:18, what was Paul’s perspective on difficulties?

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Daily Devotional “Identifying the Real Enemy”

Daily Devotional “Identifying the Real Enemy”
Be different!
September 16, 2023

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians. 6:12).

Don’t confuse prisoners of war with the enemy.

Sometimes in the heat of battle we might lose perspective on who the real enemy is.

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our struggle isn’t against sinful people, but against the evil system and the supernatural forces that influence their attitudes and actions.

In his assault on the kingdom of God, Satan has assembled a highly organized army of fallen angels.

Paul categorized them as “rulers . . . powers . . . world forces of this darkness . . . spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians. 6:12).

That isn’t a detailed description of Satan’s hierarchy but simply a general indication of its power and sophistication.

Apparently “rulers” and “powers” are high- ranking demons. “World forces of this darkness” are possibly demons who infiltrate various political systems of the world, attempting to direct human leaders to oppose God’s plans.

An example is a demon called “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” in Daniel 10:13. He withstood God’s angelic messenger to Daniel until Michael the archangel came to the rescue.

“Spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” perhaps refers to demons involved in the most vile and perverted kinds of sins: gross immorality, occultic practices, Satan worship, and the like.

Those who reject Christ and God are unwitting prisoners of war—captured and mobilized by the enemy to accomplish his purposes.

Tragically, when he’s finished with them he’ll abandon them to an eternal hell.

You probably know unbelievers who enjoy ridiculing your faith and making life difficult for you.

Although that is hard to take, be patient and don’t become embittered toward them.

Ask God to make you an instrument of His love as you reach out to them.

Also pray that God will remove their spiritual blindness so they can see beyond Satan’s lies and recognize their need for a Savior.

Prayer

•Praise God for delivering you from the domain of darkness and transferring you into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians. 1:13).
•Ask Him to use you today to break through Satan’s deception in someone’s life.

Further Reading

Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-7, noting why people reject the gospel.

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Daily Devotional “Resisting The Devil”

Daily Devotional “Resisting The Devil”
Be different!
September 15, 2023

“Take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians. 6:13).

Spiritual warfare isn’t as much a frontal attack on Satan’s domain as it is the ability to resist his advances.

Spiritual warfare has become a popular topic in recent years.

Books, tapes, and seminars on the subject abound, but there is still much confusion.

Some say we must rebuke and bind Satan to thwart his power and influence.

Others say we must expel demonic spirits through “deliverance ministries.”

Still others encourage us to band together to aggressively assault the strongholds of supposed territorial demons.

But spiritual warfare isn’t an outright frontal attack on the forces of darkness.

Scripture says, “Submit . . . to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7); “Be on the alert.

Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

But resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter. 5:8-9). The idea that Christians have the authority to rebuke or bind Satan is foreign to Scripture.

Even Michael the archangel treated him with more respect than that (Jude 9).

Spiritual victory involves submitting to God, pursuing His will, keeping your spiritual armor on, being on the alert for Satan’s attacks, and then standing firm and resisting him “in the evil day” (Ephesians. 6:13).

“Evil day” is a general reference to the sin that exists in this world.

As the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians. 4:4), Satan will continue to produce evil until he and his forces are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation. 20:10-15).

Then the evil day will give way to an eternal age of righteousness.

Countless people have pastored churches, taught Sunday School classes, led Bible studies, sung in choirs, and been involved in every conceivable area of ministry only to one day abandon their ministries and embrace the world.

Somehow they stopped resisting the devil and lost the courage to stand firm.

How about you? Is your commitment strong? Are you willing to stand firm for the Lord today?

Prayer

Ask God for the grace to boldly resist whatever might challenge your faith today.

Further Reading

Read 1 Corinthians 9:23-27.

•What was Paul’s great fear?
•What measures did he take to insure spiritual victory?
•Are you taking the same measures?

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Daily Devotional “Pursuing Truthfulness”

Daily Devotional “Pursuing Truthfulness”
Be different!
September 14, 2023

“Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth” (Ephesians. 6:14).

Truthfulness is the best defense against Satan’s lies.

The first piece of armor Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:14 is the belt of truth.

Roman soldiers of his day wore a tunic, which was a large square piece of material with holes for the head and arms.

A belt kept the tunic from flying loosely and getting in the way in the midst of battle.

The phrase “having girded your loins” was commonly used for gathering up the loose material of one’s tunic or robe when preparing for battle or travel.

It speaks of preparedness, as in Exodus 12:11, where God tells the children of Israel to gird their loins for their exodus from Egypt.

Jesus used it in a figurative sense in Luke 12:35, where He warns us to gird our loins or “be dressed in readiness” for His second coming.

Peter said we’re to gird our minds for action (1 Peter. 1:13).

The Greek word translated “truth” in Ephesians 6:14 can refer either to the content of that which is true or to an attitude of truthfulness.

Both are implied in the verse. In Ephesians 4 Paul combines both aspects in warning us not to be “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (vv. 14-15).

Instead, we are to embrace sound doctrine and always speak the truth in love.

The way to defend yourself against the cunning deceptions of Satan is to gird yourself with a thorough knowledge of God’s Word and a firm commitment to obedience.

Yet many Christians remain vulnerable because they’re unwilling to do that.

Just as Paul exhorted the Philippians to excel in knowledge and discernment and to remain sincere and blameless until in Christ’s presence (Philippians. 1:9-10), so you must also do the same.

Never be content with your present level of spirituality. Keep learning and growing.

Demonstrate an attitude of truthfulness that reveals your commitment to God’s Word and your readiness for battle.

Prayer

Is your life characterized by truthfulness? If not, you’re a ready target for Satan’s schemes. Confess it to the Lord and ask Him to cleanse your heart and give you a love for His truth. Begin today to apply His Word to your life.

Further Reading

Read verses 1-4 and 13-15 of 2 Corinthians 11, noting the tactics of Satan and his servants.

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Daily Devotional “The Love God Hates”

Daily Devotional “The Love God Hates”
Be different!
September 13, 2023

“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

If you love the world, you’re engaging in a love God hates.

Satan, from the very beginning of his rebellious activities, has been developing an invisible spiritual system of evil designed to oppose God and enslave people to sin.

The apostle John identified that system as “the world,” and warned us not to love it.

Satan has had many centuries to develop his evil system, so it is very effective on those who reject Christ.

First John 5:19 explains that while we as Christians belong to God, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” whom Jesus called, “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31).

In John 8:44 He identified certain unbelievers as children of their father, the devil, who is a murderer and the father of lies.

That’s how completely unbelievers are identified with Satan.

As a believer, you are identified with God. You have been delivered out of the domain of darkness and placed into the kingdom of Christ (Colossians. 1:13).

You are from God and have overcome the evil one because the Holy Spirit who indwells you is greater than he who controls the world (1 John 4:4).

Sadly, Christians sometimes flirt with the very things they’ve been saved from. Don’t do that.

Satan and his system have nothing to offer you. They are doomed! First John 2:17 says, “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”

Prayer

•If you’ve been flirting with the world, ask God’s forgiveness.
•Praise God that someday Satan and his evil system will be vanquished.

Further Reading

Read the epistle of 1 John, noting the contrasts between the children of God and the children of Satan.

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Daily Devotional “What About The Holy Spirit”

Daily Devotional “What About The Holy Spirit”
Be different!
September 10, 2023

“The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.

And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us” (1 John 3:24).

Because the Holy Spirit affects every area of the Christian life, it is vital that we have a balanced and correct view of His role.

The church’s understanding of the Spirit’s Person and ministry has been seriously distorted over the past few decades.

Charismatics have given an undue emphasis to certain pentecostal gifts so that subjective experience is often elevated over objective scriptural truth.

At the same time, many non-charismatics have overreacted to charismatic excesses by almost ignoring the Holy Spirit.

For most, an in-depth study of the Spirit does not fit with the pragmatic, psychological approach to solving spiritual problems.

But we can’t afford to go to either extreme; otherwise we’ll miss out on what it really means to know the Spirit and to minister by His power.

He is indispensable in saving us, enabling us to obey Jesus Christ, and ultimately perfecting us in glory.

Paul urged the Galatian believers not to abandon the Holy Spirit but to lean completely on Him.

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians. 3:3).

Too many Christians are wasting time looking to seminars, gimmicks, counselors, and novel interpretations of old truths to uncover “the secret” to the abundant Christian life.

But the key to such living is not a mystery or a secret.

The sufficiency of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, as revealed through the pages of God’s fully reliable Word, is all the information and resources we’ll ever need to live fruitful and prosperous spiritual lives.

In today’s verse, the apostle John is speaking of Christ’s indwelling presence in the believer’s life, which the Holy Spirit reveals to us.

Therefore the Spirit is working with the Lord Jesus in encouraging you, guiding you, enlightening you, and empowering you for every good work (see John 14:16-20; John 16:13).

By understanding the Spirit’s role and allowing Him to work in you daily, you’ll begin to see your life becoming more like Christ each day.

Prayer

Pray that God would grant you and everyone in your church a proper and balanced understanding of the Spirit’s role.

Further Reading

Jesus is portrayed as the Good Shepherd in John 10. Read that chapter, and list the major characteristics He has as our Shepherd.

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Daily Devotional “The Spirit Of Transformation”

Daily Devotional “The Spirit Of Transformation”
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September 8, 2023

“But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Holy Spirit’s transforming work is a central part of the believer’s sanctification.

The children’s fable The Ugly Duckling wonderfully illustrates the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in believers. The story is about an ugly young bird who can’t fit in with any of the other animals.

It’s not until he encounters the beautiful swans that his life starts changing.

The swans are an irresistible attraction for the duckling, something he can’t forget after they leave for the winter.

Finally he makes the amazing discovery the following spring that in spite of his feelings of inferiority, he is not a duck but a swan, just like those creatures he has admired.

The days immediately following our conversion to Christ are often similar to the ugly duckling’s final experiences.

We have a great sense of sinful unworthiness and yet a powerful attraction to Jesus Christ.

We respond that way because we now know that character-wise He represents all we were created to be. And we soon come to realize that it’s both a humbling and exciting process to be transformed into Christ’s image.

Today’s Scripture, my favorite verse, is an excellent short description of the Spirit’s transforming work.

We won’t see the glory of the Lord perfectly right away, but we begin to see it with greater clarity once we know Jesus Christ by faith.

Paul is referring to our basic sanctification, which is a progressive process by which the Spirit changes us from one level of Christlikeness to another.

The end result will be our glorified position in Heaven, which is the Holy Spirit’s goal for us and the reason for our hope.

The Spirit reveals what we will be in Christ: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.

We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

Prayer

Pray that you would focus more on Christ and less on yourself as the Spirit transforms your life.

Further Reading

Read Psalm 40:1-10.

•What general attitude does David have in that passage?
•How many times does he mention God there?

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