All Posts By

Jim Eichenberger

March 31

By 365 Devotions

Do You Hear That?

Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him (Matthew 4:21, 22).

Scripture: Matthew 4:12-22

Song: “Follow Me”

A dog does not always come when it is called. Often, an owner has to train the dog to listen and obey every command given. It can take time and money for successful training. Jesus needed no training for the men He called. The sheer power of His words bade them come and follow.

As Jesus passed, He called to these fishermen and told them to fish for people. The men immediately left their jobs, their families, and their lives to follow Jesus. I cannot imagine the power that Jesus must have had behind those words or the greatness of the call pressed on their hearts when they heard it. Imagine if they’d ignored it! They would have missed the healing of the blind, the raising of the dead, the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the beginning of the Church, and so many stories of God’s providence and grace.

When we hear God’s call, it will shake us to our core. It might terrify or it might excite you. It may be something that takes you from your occupation, your family, your country—but it will be the call that God has given you, and it will do something amazing in your life if you listen to it.

Lord, thank You for the call You have on my heart to work for You. I pray I would heed it and that You would give me the strength to follow it through. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 30

By 365 Devotions

What Happened?

News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them (Matthew 4:24).

Scripture: Matthew 4:23-25

Song: “Let Them See You”

Where would you go when your teeth hurt? To a dentist. Where would you go when you need a checkup? The doctor’s office. Where would you go in ancient Syria when you were ill, paralyzed, or otherwise? Apparently, you knew to go to Jesus.

We recommend good physicians to our friends. We stay with the same doctor when he helps us. In the same way, people knew that about Jesus. Through all the gospels there are stories of people following Jesus around, asking for help, and of Him giving it freely.

Here’s the thing: people will know when we have something that works. People can see the changes in us the same way they would notice if we lost 30 pounds. They’re going to come ask you what you did that works so well. This is one of the greatest evangelical tools we can have in our belt. When we become just a part of what God desires us to be, we stand out. People will ask why we are so patient, why we are so kind or so giving. They notice, and we get to point them to what works: Jesus.

Lord, thank You for working in my life. I pray that You would build in me the character that people notice and that I would have the words to tell them of You when they do. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 29

By 365 Devotions

Truth in the Face of Lies

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11

Song: “How Firm a Foundation”

A popular Veggie Tales video gives children a good lyric to remember that God is bigger than anything that might make them afraid. This includes anything from shadows on the wall at night to anything they see or hear in media to whatever they might dream up. In the midst of every fear, whether we are children or not, we have nothing to fear. God is greater and His Word defeats every enemy.

We shouldn’t say Jesus was afraid when the devil tempted Him, but He was hungry and in the prime moment for temptation to create a miracle for His comfort or selfish gain. But Jesus states truths from the Scriptures that we have and can cling to and declare when we face temptation or become fearful. Jesus responded with truth from Scripture to every one of the devil’s attempts to sway Him. We can do the same. God, and His Word, is stronger than our temptations and fears.

Today’s passage gives not only motivation for us to read Scripture, but it gives us Jesus’ own brand of “sin-away.” When we speak truth in response to Satan’s lies, we are reminded of the right way to go.

Lord, thank You for Your truth in your Word that equips and strengthens me for confronting temptation and fear. I pray that You help me recall your truths in times of weakness and fear. I need Your strength that comes through Your Word to face every challenge. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 28

By 365 Devotions

Even Then

John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:14, 15).

Scripture: Matthew 3:11-17

Song: “Hands and Feet”

My parents loved to make up their own parables. One such parable goes like this: “If I saw a boulder rolling down the hill behind you and yelled for you to move, is there any time for you to argue with me?” Their lesson was essentially; “Listen—even when it doesn’t make sense.”

John learned the same lesson. He knew that he was lower than the lowest servant compared to Jesus. So when Jesus told him to baptize Him, John was understandably confused. What resulted, though, was a glorious display of Heaven opening and God anointing His Son in front of several people. And everything became clear. John’s misunderstanding and arguing could have stopped the entire narrative in its tracks, but Jesus quieted him, and God worked.

God can do amazing things when we are quiet and listen. The promptings we hear almost every day (or would hear if we stopped to listen) can turn into amazing stories of healing and of joy and of God’s providence. God wants to reach out to everyone, and He can use you.

Lord, thank You for Your promptings. I pray that You will not only give us the ears to hear Your promptings, but the strength to follow through. I pray that we may be instruments for the rest of the world to see something amazing. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 27

By 365 Devotions

Wait a Second

A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him” (Luke 9:35).

Scripture: Luke 9:28-36

Song: “In the Secret”

Peter thought he had a great idea and he had to voice it. “Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Luke 9:33). Moses and Elijah were two great historical figures to Peter, who both represented enormous pieces of history in the Jewish culture. They were respected and revered above almost all others in the Jewish Scriptures. Peter saw Jesus in the same light. He wanted to honor all three of them on that mountain that day—not only exposing the transfiguration but bringing glory to the event.

Strong initiative, but the wrong idea. God interrupted Peter to quiet his excitement so he would be quiet and listen to the Son.

We can have what we think are the greatest of intentions, but often we jump the gun or just take off in the wrong direction in our pursuit to please God. However, when we take the time to slow down, focus on God, and listen to Him we will be in a position to join God in His work to reveal His glory and His salvation to all people. And that was we will avoid doing the wrong thing.

Lord, thank You for Your complete understanding of me and my role in Your kingdom work. Help me pause and listen to You. Turn my eyes to see Your ways, and not mine. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 26

By 365 Devotions

Don’t Forget

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 8:10, 11).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:1-11

Song: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

My family and I were homeless for a year, living in the basement of a family friend’s home during that time. When we moved back into a house of our own, I remember weeping tears of joy that the bathroom was ours, and that my bedroom was mine. I had my space. However, a few months later, I complained about the size, the location, and the backyard.

Today’s passage admonishes the people of Israel to not forget the Lord, the One who gives us all our good gifts. Remembering what they had endured and how God brought them into a land of blessing certainly would help them not forget their God. And yet the people did. And it can be all too easy for us to forget what God has done for us and all that He has given!

Help to remember is simple—learn to count our blessings. When we take time out of our day to remember God’s goodness to us and say “thank You,” to the one who gives us all things, we realign our focus. This leads us back into being grateful once again.

Lord, thank You for Your blessings each day. Thank You for the sun, the rain, and for another day of life in Your goodness. You are the giver of every good thing and I am blessed beyond compare. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 25

By 365 Devotions


Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians (Exodus 18:9).

Scripture: Exodus 18:1-12

Song: “Go Tell It on the Mountain”

I received an amazing birthday present last year. Not only was it exactly what I had wanted, but I also found out just how much work and time it took to find it just for me. The joy that I had at the amazing gift was twofold: the gift itself, and hearing the history of the gift.

Jethro would have been excited about the gift of freedom from the clutches of the Pharaoh, but his joy was twofold when he heard of God’s hand in it all. Imagine the look on Jethro’s face while listening to all that God had done for the people in choosing Moses, working miracles, parting the Sea, protecting His people, and so much more.

God uses stories of His work to change the hearts of people. They create joy and greater faith. Our duty as Christians is to share stories of how God has worked in our lives. Share the great things God has done and tell about the change He has brought! The more you attribute your success and your happiness to the work of God, the more others can see His work in their lives.

Lord, thank You for all the amazing things You’ve done for me. Help me learn to share Your goodness with others so they share in the joy about Your work. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 25–31. Jessica Andre is a recent college graduate starting her career in Haviland, Kansas.

March 24

By 365 Devotions

Small in Stature—Big in Potential

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner” (Luke 19:7).

Scripture: Luke 19:1-10

Song: “Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man”

My preschool grandchildren were sincere when they insisted there are five seasons in a year. Finally, after disputing I said, “Then name them!” Sure enough, they came up with spring, summer, fall, winter, and tax season. I should have known; their mother is a CPA.

Unlike today’s tax consultants who hold an honorable place in society, tax collectors in Jesus’ time were crooks who padded their own accounts by collecting more than was due. Zacchaeus likely fit right in. In the eyes of society they were indeed “sinners.”

We’ll never know why Zacchaeus wanted to get a bird’s-eye view of the Master. Was it mere curiosity, or a desire to change? It’s amazing that Jesus singled out this sinner, even going to his home for a meal. The dinner conversation must have been humbling for Zacchaeus as he repented of his past. I wonder if a wife was involved in preparing the meal, and if so, what were her feelings? Jesus obviously saw a man whose heart and life could change. And change it did—half of Zacchaeus’ possessions would go to the poor, and anyone who had been cheated would be repaid four times over.

It is so easy to judge someone by reputation or appearance. Let’s hope instead that we can see each one’s potential for God’s kingdom.

Lord Jesus, guide me today to see others as You would have me see them in a nonjudgmental way. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 23

By 365 Devotions

Open My Eyes

Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God (Luke 18:43).

Scripture: Luke 18:35-43

Song: “Open My Eyes That I May See”

As a child I often bought candy from a blind man at a kiosk. One day I witnessed a customer trying to convince this blind fellow that the one dollar bill he gave the blind man was really a five. I could see and hear it all but said nothing.

The blind man in today’s passage had heard enough about Jesus to believe that He could make him see. The blind man’s outspoken faith was louder than the ones who told him to be quiet. He was not going to just say nothing! Jesus heard and saw the blind man’s faith and responded with a miracle of sight.

Eyesight is truly wonderful, and especially when we use it to watch for God and see Him at work in our lives. When we recognize God’s grace and power at work in our lives our best response is to be like this man—shout the praises of God and follow Jesus with our whole lives. And also, like the man who could see, we can lead others to do praise God and follow Him with us. May we have eyes to see what God has done in the past, and is doing even today, in our lives and bring others with us as we praise God and follow Him.

Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to Your work in my life and help me speak loud and clear Your praises as I follow You more closely. In Jesus’ name, amen.

March 22

By 365 Devotions

Come Follow Me

“Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me” (Luke 18:22).

Scripture: Luke 18:18-30

Song: “Jesus Calls Us, O’er the Tumult”

Irish born Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) gained a heart for the needy early in life. This started through a childhood experience helping an old beggar woman. Her desire grew deeper by encountering a poor little girl looking through a restaurant window at Amy enjoying tea and biscuits. Amy joined her minister handing out tracts and food to the Shawlies. She eventually moved into their neighborhood and started a church.

Amy traded her desire to marry for desire to follow the Lord completely. Despite a health condition that caused pain and weakness Amy Carmichael went to India to tell people about Jesus. Many Indian families gave their unwanted daughters to pagan temples as servants and prostitutes. One girl who escaped went to Amy because of her witness and love. More girls followed. So Amy founded Dohnaver Fellowship to give these girls a new home. Eventually boys born to temple prostitutes were also welcomed.

At each encounter with people in need Amy chose to not hold onto what she had but instead opened her heart and hands to give herself for the sake of following Jesus.

God calls each of us to give up something to follow Him. What we give up and how we serve might be different, but the rich reward of following Him is always the same—treasure in Heaven.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me to serve You. Help me to live in dedicated service throughout my days. In Christ’s name, amen.

March 21

By 365 Devotions

Christ’s Banner Over Me

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16).

Scripture: Luke 18:15-17

Song: “His Banner Over Me Is Love”

I was making a banner for my church in a mosaic, stained-glass style that would depict Jesus with each arm around a child. They were looking up to Jesus in wonder. But I was stuck wondering, What colors for the children’s clothes?

I stepped back and the scene came alive as I pictured the children as my grandchildren. Of course! A rose-colored fabric for the taller, blue for the smaller.

When complete, my little granddaughter recognized herself and her brother, explaining to him while pointing, “This one is you and this one is me.” Perceiving Jesus with His loving arms around my grandchildren helped me feel the warmth and depth of His love for these two little darlings in my life.

Jesus puts His arms of love around all “children,” no matter how old, who will come to Him in faith and trust in Him, like a child. This tender event shows all of us how we can enter God’s kingdom—come to Jesus in the trust and humility of a child. Feel His loving arms around us. This can be hard if we let our adult minds get wrapped up in worldly thinking. Childlike faith comes more easily when we put aside our arrogance and pride.

Lord, please help me release my self-confidence as I come to You today like a child and feel the warmth of your love and blessing. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 20

By 365 Devotions

The Mission Field Near Home

“I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43).

Scripture: Luke: 4:38-43

Song: “Reach Out and Touch the Lord”

As a child, I often thought of being a missionary. By adulthood the excitement of serving Christ on foreign soil had lost its luster because I realized all that was expected: low pay, strange food, “roughing it” without basic comforts, and even endangerment. All this added up as too much for me, not to mention my fear of flying.

Christ set a good example of being a missionary without venturing far. First priority is to simply meet people where they are. This is just being present with them and listening to their stories. Then minister to their needs as they become apparent. Just as with Jesus, we can help meet physical needs and also spiritual brokenness. As we serve, even if in subtle ways, others can observe our faith at work in our love of people and God. God can work through our ministry to bring the right moment to share the good news of the kingdom.

We can begin with our families. Look for opportunities teeming in the neighborhood. There is much to do, and each of us, in our individual ways, can minister to those we come in contact with today.

O Lord, open my eyes to my mission field today and prepare my heart with willingness to serve enthusiastically In Your power and wisdom, because You are the healer and redeemer all people need. In Your name I pray, amen.

March 19

By 365 Devotions


The LORD your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. And the LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands (Deuteronomy 26:16, 18).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Song: “Trust and Obey”

Obey! As children we heard that word often; as parents we instilled it into our children. Pet owners realize the importance of it when training a puppy, often spending money on obedience classes. In today’s reading it is clear that God demanded obedience from the children of Israel. Each verse echoes the idea that obedience is commanded.

In time as we aged and matured, we realized that obedience wasn’t meant to punish but to guide us for the highest good. God also meant that for His chosen people. If they obeyed, they could expect His guidance and blessings.

The old hymn “Trust and Obey” goes through my mind as I think of today’s text. It opens with “When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory he sheds on our way.” As with the Israelites, God blesses today’s followers. The chorus concludes with truth for our lives, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Precious Lord, today and each day I want to walk with You, on Your path set out in Your Word, as an obedient follower. I offer my obedience as an expression of my love and as my worship of You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

March 18

By 365 Devotions

Restitution Made

Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the LORD is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed. (Numbers 5:6, 7).

Scripture: Exodus 22:1-3; Numbers 5:5-7

Song: “Nothing But the Blood”

My son, a generally good kid, model student, and knowledgeable of the Bible joined in some fun instigated by a younger friend to heckle his Sunday school teachers in class one morning. He became sorry about his actions on the ride to his teachers’ home later that afternoon where he faced the couple as he made his confession for causing the disturbance and promised to not repeat the action.

With me uncompromisingly involved, my son had no choice but to admit his wrong, confess openly, and apologize. Yet, as I reflect on my life, I realize my own reluctance to admit wrong with an all-too-easy readiness to substitute open confession with a pledge within myself to try to do better next time. Even if we need help, it is only honest, humble confession that brings us under the ultimate restitution that Christ made for us on the cross. There is no other remedy for our sins. Upon confession, we are forgiven of any burden and released from our guilt so we are able to follow Jesus in humble obedience.

Father, thank You for the restitution that Your Son made for me at the cross. May I live joyously as Your forgiven disciple. In my Savior’s name, amen.

March 18–24. Eunice Porter, a retired State of Oregon employee, is a mother of three, grandmother of five, musician, seamstress, and capitol volunteer.

March 17

By 365 Devotions

We Work Until It Becomes Obvious

When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” (Luke 15:17).

Scripture: Luke 15:11-24

Song: “Jesus Shall Reign”

“Jim, I don’t think I want to become a Christian.” Cade said this after Jim shared the gospel and his recent conversion experience.

Even though God was changing Jim and Cade couldn’t deny it, Christianity just wasn’t compelling to him. Jim asked him why.

Cade responded, “Well, I know how much change God would require in my life.” Jim respected Cade’s wishes and ended the conversation by reminding him that it is God who produces the change in us.

Even though we make the gospel plain and desirable and our lives evidence the life-changing work only God can do, others will still deem Christianity unappealing.

We don’t control the results of our gospel work because we know it is God who opens the eyes of non-believers so that they come to their senses and receive His gift of life eternal and the change He produces.

O, how pressure relieving! Since God is active through His Spirit, let us remain alert and attentive to the Spirit as we walk alongside people on their spiritual pilgrimage. We don’t push them faster than they are ready to go nor do we ignore them or abandon them to their blindness.

Father, thank You for opening my eyes to recognize the obvious goodness of Your salvation. I know others will not always see it, so I ask for strength to continue loving them until it becomes obvious. In Jesus’ name, amen.

March 16

By 365 Devotions

Celebrate When Discipleship Is Difficult

“ . . . ‘But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:32).

Scripture: Luke 15:25-32

Song: “The Day of Resurrection!”

Adam sat discouraged in his room while he and his youth group attended church camp at a university. Natalie, who was a new member of his group, had just argued with a girl from another church. Another girl told Adam that Natalie had cussed at her and threated her, and it was only day two of five. Adam thought to himself, Natalie was making so much progress. During that busy week Adam sacrificed his limited free-time to help Natalie orient herself to the basics of faith.

Even though Natalie had recently come to faith in Christ, she had ingrained habits from her life before Christ. She was once lost and had received new life in Christ—and it was growing in her, though slowly.

Discipling others requires patience, wisdom, and consistent celebrating because of the difficulties we encounter as we help others learn what it means to be alive. The elder brother realized the sacrifices he would have to make to reorient his prodigal brother back into the household. He didn’t celebrate.

Adam sacrificed his time at camp to help Natalie because he continued celebrating her steps with Christ. Let us not only celebrate when people first come to Christ, but also during the difficult times of discipleship.

Father, please help me celebrate those who are new in Christ as I use my time and effort to help them embrace their new life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

March 15

By 365 Devotions

We Labor for the Joy of Finding the Lost

“Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:4-6).

Scripture: Luke 15:1-10

Song: “Came to My Rescue”

Sensing the close of the meeting and fearing the topic of mission would be skipped, William Carey grabbed Andrew Fuller’s arm and said, “Is nothing again going to be done?”

Carey knew the only way the gospel of Jesus would be received by those who have never heard it is through the labor of those who already have it.

This was not evident to everyone in Carey’s day. So, he argued with and petitioned the bodies in power until they complied to take up the labor of mission. And it is labor.

Mission is difficult. Sometimes it seems unrewarding and requires thankless effort. But like a new mother joyfully caring for her baby, mission is our joyful labor.

Just as Jesus left His heavenly realm for the joy set before Him and just as He carried out His work on earth with enduring joy, so too we can embrace the labor of mission for the joy of finding the lost. It is precisely this joy that allows us to embrace and endure the labor of mission before we enter the bliss set before us.

Father, thank You for giving me Your unmovable joy to strengthen me as I embrace Your mission and seek the lost. Knowing this mission is Yours, I ask that You give me wisdom to know how I may better participate toward Your goal. In Jesus’ name, amen.

March 14

By 365 Devotions

He Came for The Sick

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31, 32).

Scripture: Luke 3:12, 13; 5:27–32

Song: “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus”

Professor Anne looked wide-eyed across her desk at one of her students, Jennifer, and said, “It’s been a tough morning, but now is the time for you. Jennifer, you are the kind of student I enjoy meeting with.”

As Jennifer pulled out her notebook, professor Anne remarked how she had an unexpected phone call with another student whose husband threatened divorce, had just lost her job, and needed encouragement from a seasoned Christian.

As disciples were called to make disciples, God might very well bring us into opportunities to disciple those who are spiritually “sick” and then other times those who are “healthy.”

Rejoice when God gives you a disciple like Jennifer who is in a place of spiritual health, lives tenaciously, and is thriving in her Christian walk. At the same time, it is a privilege when God calls us to reach out to the spiritually lost or to minister to those who are struggling in their faith .

We were all spiritually sick and bereft when God called us, and none of us are ever really done with spiritual growth until we receive new bodies at the new creation.

Father, You are my spiritual healer and given me life and hope. Please strengthen me with Your Spirit so that I rejoice as I disciple both those who are healthy and those who are hurting. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

March 13

By 365 Devotions

Let Kindness Be Our Principle

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them (Hosea 11:4).

Scripture: Hosea 11:1-9

Song: “As It Is in Heaven”

“You always contradict what I say.” Nancy said this to her son, James, who recently had converted to Christianity as a high school student. James became a sponge of Bible knowledge and wanted his mom to know all that he was learning.

He wanted her to simply “get it” like he was getting it. In his zeal, he would correct her statements about her faith. When Nancy eventually confronted him, James realized his attempt to be helpful was actually unkind and hurtful.

James changed his habit and began encouraging his mother in her Christian growth, celebrating what she learned, and answering her questions with grace not assuming she should already know the answers to what she asked.

Every Christian we encounter is a person for us to engage in the name of Jesus—with love so we serve and disciple them with kindness and humility.

Just as God led Israel with the cords of human kindness, so He also leads us—not in a domineering way, but with grace and kindness.

Father, thank You for leading us with the cords of kindness as we grow in understanding of You and Your ways. Please give me the ability to be patient and kind with those whom I disciple so they begin to experience Your kindness and Your patience. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

March 17: Called to Return (Luke 15:11-24)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “What Was He Thinking!” activity here. Make copies for every class member. Have them complete the activity according to the printed instructions. After several minutes, reveal these answers:

1=Luke 15:17, 2=Luke 15:16b, 3=Luke 15:20-23, 4=Luke 15:12, 5=Luke 15:15,

6=Luke 15:13, 7=Luke 15:18-19.

Read the entire text aloud and discuss it with the aid of the commentary.

To encourage personal application:

Quickly brainstorm a list of modern-day prodigals. Some possibilities include: drug addicts, alcoholics, AIDS patients, gang members, adult entertainers, the homeless, etc.

Say, “There are many ways we can respond to a modern-day prodigal. We can be judgmental, saying that he or she should get what is deserved. We can just be apathetic, giving an I-don’t-care attitude. We can give an enabling response that in effect encourages the prodigal to repeat bad behavior without consequence. Or we can give the compassionate response of the father in the parable.”

Take a few minutes to select a prodigal from your list. Encourage volunteers to give an example of one of the insufficient responses mentioned. Then have a volunteer give an example of a compassionate, Christ-honoring response.

March 12

By 365 Devotions

The Desire Begins with Him

I will search for the lost and bring back the strays (Ezekiel 34:16).

Scripture: Ezekiel 34:11-16

Song: “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”

Dr. Tennent closed his message saying, “This small man walked up the mountain into these remote villages of India carrying upon his back a large crate containing Coke.”

Coke had reached the villages before Christian heralds. The missionary continued, “If Coke is working that hard, how much harder should we work for the gospel of Christ!”

This fascinating story inspires us all to work diligently to spread the only news that can satisfy our spiritual thirst. But we must not forget where our real and powerful inspiration begins. The desire to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ begins with the heart of God.

He has been working to spread His love and salvation to all people through all time and He will not stop until the end of time.

It is from His desire that we were satisfied with His living waters and it is His desire that will energize us, equip us, and lead us to spread His news for His glory’s sake. As we respond in faith and obedience He will work through us to bring people from all nations into His fold.

Sovereign Lord, thank You for loving us with a love deep enough to search for us and bring us to yourself. Please give me Your love for the nations, give my hands the skills they need, and open those doors only You can open to share the only news that can satisfy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

March 11

By 365 Devotions

He Has Made Us Alive

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4, 5).

Scripture: Ephesians 2:1-10

Song: “Boundary Lines”

“Jason, you want to show your money.” Bruce, a veteran homebuilder, told this to Jason, who was new to the field, as the two of them watched masons construct a brick archway to enter a hall.

The hall contained wood doors with special trim that no one was able to see due to a wall. Bruce and Jason replaced the wall with a brick archway so that visitors could see these arch doors. Builders want to show their riches.

Similarly, as we live empowered by the Spirit and do good works, we show the riches God has given to us.

The new life He can build in us is far more grand and important than the most awe-inspiring mansions with wood doors or brick archways.

Whether we live in our hometowns or a foreign country, this is our mission: to show our our renewed lives.

Father, thank You for giving me this invaluable grace and mercy from Your riches. I’m humbled by this kindness and ask to have an attentive mind and open heart, so I can show the riches You’ve given me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

March 11–17. Aaron Massey and his wife live in Frisco, Texas where they both work and take evening walks with their Golden Retriever, Lincoln. Aaron enjoys encouraging God’s people whether from a pulpit or with his pen. He spends his downtime with dark coffee and long books.

March 10

By 365 Devotions


In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples (Luke 14:33).

Scripture: Mark 1:16-20; Luke 14:25-33

Song: “I Surrender All”

Maybe you’ve seen it. The meme shows Jesus on one knee facing a little girl, who—with both hands—is holding onto her very small teddy bear. Jesus is extending one hand, as if asking for her prized possession.

The child can’t see that Jesus, with His other hand, is holding a much larger, nicer teddy behind His back. She replies, “But I love it, God.”

Jesus says, “Just trust Me.”

Simon, Andrew, James, and John were not searching for Jesus that day by the Sea of Galilee. They were busy working. Jesus came seeking them. Their hands were full of fishing nets, but when they heard His invitation to follow Him, they immediately dropped those nets. They left the boats, the family business, and the expectations of others. Left it all. Everything. To follow Him.

They trusted Him. Was the exchange worth it? Peter said it this way when Jesus later asked if they would leave Him: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Worth it? Yes! Any and every exchange is worth Jesus.

Lord of All, we offer everything to You, for You are good, and what You do is good. In You is peace incomprehensible, joy replete, and life eternal. We want to be sheep to no other shepherd. For the sake of the name. Amen.

March 9

By 365 Devotions

Poor or Rich?

Poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6:10).

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Song: “A Child of the King”

Our temporary medical clinic in the mountains of Jamaica felt like a sanctuary. Patients joyfully sang praises to God while they waited to see doctors and dentists. Little girls in fancy dresses with multiple matching hair bows looked like flowers in bloom. My counseling office had the quaint aura of an era long past. I felt wonderfully at home there, handing out toothbrushes, combs, and soap as I listened to stories from the people and talked with them about Jesus.

The day was nearly over when she came in, a simply dressed, solitary older lady with braided hair and warm eyes. As we chatted, I handed her a bar of soap. I was not prepared for the intensity of her response. She clasped the gift to her chest with both hands, as if it were gold, and looked at me in wonder.

“Last night I used my last tiny sliver of soap,” she exclaimed. “Who can I trust but God?”

She shared with me how God faithfully meets her needs. She counts on Him, even if everyone else fails her.

Though poor, the worshipping lady enriched me. Having little of the world’s goods, she yet possessed everything, because she had intimate fellowship with the ultimate source, God himself. Wealth and poverty in the kingdom of Heaven look different than they do in kingdoms of the world.

We are amazed and grateful, Lord, that You gave up Heaven’s riches and became earthly poor in order to make us spiritually rich. Who can we trust but You? Amen.

March 8

By 365 Devotions

Like a Freight Train

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13, 14).

Scripture: Philippians 3:7-16

Song: “Higher Ground”

Among my treasured possessions is a letter from my grandson Elijah, written when he was 20 years old. I was attending a women’s retreat, and my sponsor had asked him and several other people to write words of encouragement to me. Their cards and letters were presented as a surprise on the closing day.

Things change as we get older, and I had been silently struggling with the thought that aging might make me less valuable to God and His kingdom. The God-who-hears sent me a word through His son.

Here’s part of what Elijah wrote to me: “The way I see it is that one of your tasks is to lead the new generation. This doesn’t mean slowing down; this doesn’t mean taking it easy . . . there is not a sports team on the planet that takes it easy in the last quarter . . . No baseball player walks from third base to home: they go in hot and like a freight train . . . You are much needed here, with your family, and leading the next generation of Christ’s followers.”

Press on! Like a freight train.

Lord God, Your power and love are not bound by mortal time and age. May our eagerness to win the prize increase as we near the goal and motivate us to press on toward You with greater passion and vigor each day. In Christ’s name. Amen

March 7

By 365 Devotions

Whose Agenda?

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me (John 12:26).

Scripture: John 12:20-26

Song: “Close to Thee”

The speaker for a weekend women’s conference was well-known and greatly admired. Esteemed as a loving and wise Bible teacher, she would be ministering to masses of eager ladies. What a thrill it would be to meet her personally.

Delores, a minister’s wife attending the event, was surprised when conference organizers invited her to be “handmaiden” to the speaker. Accepting the assignment meant Delores would be available to the speaker at all times during the weekend, staying close by her, ready to provide anything the speaker needed or wanted. It also meant she would give up her own agenda, including quick shopping trips, naps, or meals with friends she hadn’t seen for a long time. Delores would be keeping the speaker’s schedule and agenda, not her own. She accepted the invitation.

Although she gave up things she had looked forward to and would have enjoyed, Delores found even greater blessing and delight being constantly in the presence of a godly woman she respected and admired. During the weekend, Delores learned and experienced things she could not have learned and experienced without being a “handmaiden.”

Jesus likewise invites us to give up our own agendas and follow His. Yes, we relinquish some things, but He promises that we, as His servants, will be where He is. What a great honor He offers us: to be always in His presence.

We are humbled, Gracious Jesus, that You invite us to be Your servants. What we give up is nothing in comparison to what we gain. We are grateful. Amen.

March 6

By 365 Devotions

Love of a Lifetime

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

Scripture: Matthew 10:35-39

Song: “I Love You, Lord”

God called my husband and me to move to Zimbabwe. Not visit Zimbabwe. Move there. Knowing we were called was the easy part. Resigning from our jobs wasn’t bad either. Renting our house to strangers was only slightly unsettling. Being separated from friends was starting to feel challenging. But the big, deep ache was leaving our family.

We cherish face-to-face extended family time. Every Sunday there’s a gathering around Granny’s table: my three siblings and I with our spouses, children, and grandchildren. So how do you explain to a 5-year-old that he will be an 8-year-old before he sees MaMaw and Popi again? How do you cheerfully move your college-going son into a dorm when he’s been happily living at home? How do you tell your 72-year-old mother there will be empty places at the Sunday table for three years?

We were in the kitchen when we told Mama. She didn’t say anything at first. She just took a deep breath, looked hard at the floor, and finally said, “I won’t be the one to stand between you and doing the will of God.”

Jesus is the love of her life, you see; and she blessed the fact that He is also the love of mine.

Oh, Love of my life, You will not let us go. Keep us mindful that there is a higher calling than even the bond of family. For Your glory. Amen.

March 10: Called to Sacrifice (Mark 1:16-20; Luke 14:25-33)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Job Benefits” activity here. Make copies for all class members. As class members arrive, allow them to work the activity according to the printed instructions individually or cooperatively.

After about five minutes, reveal these answers: 1=Health insurance, 2=Food allowance, 3=Continuing education, 4=Company car, 5=Reserved parking space, 6=Retirement plan, 7=Flexible hours, 8=Safe working conditions, 9=Paid vacation, 10=Moving expenses, 11=Family leave, 12=Health club membership

Lead into Bible study saying, “When we consider taking a new job, we expect that the job will include certain perks—benefits above and beyond a salary. When Jesus called those who would follow him, his was not call to big benefits and career advancement. It was a call to a life of sacrifice.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Divide the class into groups of three to five students each. Give each group pen and paper. Each group should read the lesson texts and use them as a basis for writing a “Help Wanted” ad for the position of a disciple of Jesus.

Give groups about 15 minutes to work on their ads. Remind them that a typical ad of this sort includes a description of the job, job requirements, and salary. Here is our attempt at this assignment:

Position: Disciple of Jesus

Job Description: Those chosen to be a disciple of Jesus will live with him over an extended period, traveling with him wherever he goes. The disciple will take on the role of learner, observing Jesus’ work and carefully listening to his teaching. The goal of the job is to continue Jesus’ work of calling others to follow him.

Job Duties: Applicants must understand that much is expected in this position and to be fully aware of what is required before applying. Disciples must be willing to place a commitment to Jesus above all other commitments, including personal comfort and family ties. A disciple will be called upon to relocate regularly, work long hours, endure opposition, and leave his present life behind.

Salary: This is an unpaid position. A disciple will share any food, lodging, and any other necessity of life with Jesus himself.

March 5

By 365 Devotions


Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

Scripture: Mark 10:23-31

Song: “It Took a Miracle”

The bride’s father and his fiancée sat in the first row of the storefront church, the groom’s parents beside them. Behind them were the groom’s brother, sister-in-law, two nieces, three half-siblings with their spouses, and a gang of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Add a small cadre of faithful friends, and the congregation numbered 50.

The young minister grinned. The bride glowed, her pre-teen son beside her. The groom beamed, his little girl at his right hand. Everyone in the room knew they were witnessing something that was impossible.

Rewind several years. A young man in jail, convicted of felony drug dealing. An impossible case, most folks said. Impossible? He’s the grinning minister performing the ceremony. See a 20-something disheveled woman, screaming hysterically after intentionally slicing her wrist with a piece of glass. Untreated mental illness. Chronic substance abuse. Many thought it impossible for her ever to be sane and healthy. Impossible? She’s the glowing bride, a medical professional today.

Picture a man in his mid-30s. Lab work reveals shocking blood serum levels of multiple drugs in his system. He should be dead. An addict over half his life. Estranged from most of his family. Survive? Impossible. Impossible? He’s the beaming groom, who facilitates addiction recovery groups as he prepares for ministry. He’s also my son. All things are possible with God.

Thank You, Lord, for seeing a wedding where others saw three gravestones. Open our eyes to the possibilities You envision for us. In the name of the one who knows no impossibilities, amen.

March 4

By 365 Devotions

A Secret in Plain Sight

“The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables” (Mark 4:11).

Scripture: Mark 4:10-20

Song: “Open My Eyes, That I May See”

It was her boyfriend’s birthday present, so the sweater Di was knitting for him had to be special. She chose a rich shade of chocolate brown for the garment itself, and a deep teal blue for horizontal accent stripes on the front. When the project was completed, Di beamed as her friends and parents exclaimed about its beauty, but it was her boyfriend’s reaction that would tell the tale.

He smiled brightly when he unwrapped the gift, then burst into delighted laughter after studying the horizontal stripes. There in plain sight was a message the others had seen but not recognized as a message at all. Her boyfriend, however, who knew the secret writing, recognized the announcement immediately. Using Morse code, Di had knitted into the stripes: My girlfriend made this sweater.

Jesus has given His followers the secret of the kingdom of God. He enables us to see, hear, and understand things that are mysteries to others. Am I looking, listening, and longing for His messages to me?

Lord, I thank You that You have revealed mysteries of Your kingdom to lowly ones such as me. May I be fertile soil for Your Word and bring forth much fruit for Your glory. In the name of my King, forever. Amen.

March 4–10. Debbie Ginder and her husband Carl live in Virginia, where they minister to jail inmates. They also enjoy birding, reading, music, and their family of five sons and their households.

March 3

By 365 Devotions

Humble Pie

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11).

Scripture: Luke 14:7-14

Song: “Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord”

Teresa of Calcutta helped the poor, sick, and dying in the poorest parts of India. She kept a humility list. One item on it says, “Do not seek to be admired and loved.” In a world so focused on being noticed and admired, I appreciate her simple words.

I love most any pie. But I don’t like “humble pie,” being forced to acknowledge my errors, often under embarrassing conditions. Admittedly, humility seems out of fashion in today’s world. It’s also often misunderstood. True humility is grounded in the character of Christ. It’s having a lowly heart, being teachable and willing to serve. False humility is thinking poorly of oneself or having low self esteem. The other end of false humility is pride, which is thinking too highly of oneself. The parable in Luke 14 reminds us that those who seek honor and exalt themselves will be humbled. When God brings us low due to pride, it is not to punish us, but rather to restore us.

Dear friend, God blesses the humble. When we prefer others, serve without complaint, accept hardship, and seek the admiration of God above all else we open the door for blessing! We can live like our Lord who humbled Himself by serving (Philippians 2:7).

Lord Jesus, thank You for showing me how to walk in humility. Less of me, more of You. That is my desire! In Your name I pray, amen.

March 2

By 365 Devotions

A Full House

At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready” (Luke14:17).

Scripture: Luke 14:15-24

Song: “Come to the Table”

I love parties, especially when there’s good food involved. The highlight was in England, at the home of a friend who was connected with the royal family. Needless to say, when the invitation came, I whole heartedly accepted! I’d never seen such luxury, or food. Everything was so beautifully presented and delicious!

Luke 14:15-24 tells the parable of a great banquet. I’m already thinking about scrumptious appetizers, entrees, and desserts! Sadly, the invited guests all made excuses why they couldn’t come. So the host told his servant to invite the poor, the cripple, the blind, and the lame. He threw open the doors making His feast available for all to enjoy. He wanted a full house! This parable reveals the measure of God’s longing for relationship. Our Lord is merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love. Nothing can separate us from His love!

Dear friend, we were created to know God and to enjoy His loving presence in this life and the next. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Among the endless stream of voices calling for our attention, let’s not forget to listen to the voice of our Savior inviting us to enter into the most important relationship of our life. A feast for the soul awaits!

Father, thank You for inviting me to Your banquet. My heart is overjoyed at the thought of spending eternity in Your presence! In Christ my Savior, amen.

March 1

By 365 Devotions

The Simple Sabbath Truth

Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” (Luke 14:3).

Scripture: Luke 14:1-6

Song: “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting”

Recently I read some legislation online and found the legal intricacy and frequent amendments baffling and intimidating. I wasn’t even clear on the intent of the law and felt burdened by the whole experience.

The Jews read God’s Law in their Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy in the Bible). Torah means God’s instruction for His way of life. It is neither complex or burdensome. Deuteronomy 5:12 says, “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” and not working. This is life-giving and not burdensome. But the “legal experts” wrote an “Oral Torah,” their collection of manmade interpretations and regulations. The experts’ rules were burdensome restrictions to live their way. Few of their rules were life-giving. By quizzing the supposed experts, Jesus pushed them back to the simple instruction for Sabbath that was life-giving. After confronting them, He healed a man. He showed that love, expressed in mercy to meet the needs of others is holiness and obedience to God’s law.

Dear friend, God’s instruction for our lives sets us free. His ways are not a burden but give life. Keeping the Sabbath is simple when we focus on God and show love to Him and people.

Father, thank You for all Your instructions for goodness in my life. In Christ, amen.

March 1–3. Leila Grandemange lives in Virginia with her husband and several adorable dogs, which are also part of her ministry. She enjoys simple things, family dinners, walks in nature, and tea with friends.

February 28

By 365 Devotions

Bearing with One Another

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).

Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-7

Song: “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”

Tears rolled down my eyes as we argued. I couldn’t understand how two people who loved each other so much could be in such disagreement. Thankfully, after 25 years of marriage, my husband and I have learned the meaning of “bearing with one another in love.” So we humbled ourselves, apologized, and hugged each other.

Peace and unity do not just happen. Both take effort. This is true for all our relationships, even within the church. The apostle Paul urges believers to bear with one another in love. To bear means to hold up or support. At the gym, my trainer asks me to lift (bear) weights to build muscle. In a similar way, God tells us to bear the weight of one another, yet not without purpose. Each time we hold up each other despite our flaws, we strengthen our spiritual muscles, individually, and as the body of Christ.

Dear friend, bearing with one another in love has a powerful purpose. It creates a bond of peace that helps us stand firm against the devil’s schemes. People are not our enemy. Let’s endeavor to be humble, gentle, and understanding, focusing on what unites us, rather than on what divides us. For we are one body, called to one hope, and dedicated to one purpose.

Father, I’m so grateful that You are gentle, patient, and kind, bearing with me despite my flaws. Please help me to show those same qualities to others. Make me a channel of Your peace. In Christ, amen.

In the World—March 3, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 3 here.


On January 29, TV actor Jussie Smollett reported that he had been physically attacked on the streets of Chicago. Smollett claimed that two men draped him with a noose, cursed him with racial and homosexual slurs, and gave him the impression that they were supporters of President Trump.  The media immediately ran with this story, often commenting that the attack illustrated an increase in intolerance during the past two years. The actor, once known to relatively few, was thrust into the spotlight.


But soon the story took an unexpected turn. The Chicago Police Department thoroughly investigated the matter and arrested Smollett! Police announced that Smollett had perpetrated a hoax. Evidence surfaced that the actor paid the attackers with a personal check for $3,500 and gave them the script for the slurs. The Department further alleged that Smollett’s motive was to advance his career and to fight intolerance. If this is indeed the case, it seems that a case for tolerance would have better been made by a life of quiet service rather than by seeking fame.

  1. At first, this incident was reported as evidence that the election of President Trump in 2016 encouraged those who harbored prejudices to act out with violence. As evidence mounts that Smollett perpetrated a hoax, how has it affected your attitudes about the media, politics, and law enforcement?
  2. In our text today, Jesus said that those seeking to exalt themselves will, in the end, be humiliated. Tell about a time when you found that to be true.
  3. We would all like the work of our church and the power of Jesus to be exalted in our community. What does this text seem to prescribe as the best way of accomplishing this?

   —Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 27

By 365 Devotions

Sunshine and Rain for All

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).

Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48

Song: “Your Love Never Fails”

One of the most recognized figures associated with loving his enemies was Nelson Mandela. How does one spend 27 years in prison, as did Mandela, and then dedicate the rest of his life working toward restoring peace? Interestingly, the answer comes to us from nature.

God’s unconditional and unmerited love are compared to two of the greatest blessings in nature, the sunshine and the rain, which are good for all and available to all. By living with a grateful heart, aware of all the undeserved blessings we’ve received, we can open our hearts to love our enemies. Mandela must have understood this. Though he had every reason to hate his enemies, he chose to love everyone, including his persecutors. Another example comes to us from our Lord Jesus Christ, who while we were yet sinners, died for us, demonstrating the depth of God’s love for all of humanity.

Dear friend, it can be hard to love someone who’s inflicted a deep wound. But if we withhold love, how are we different from the world? Each time we return good for evil, forgive, work toward peace, and show kindness to friend and foe, we become channels of God’s unconditional love! Loving our enemies also acts as a catalyst for our own healing. Hallelujah!

Father, help me to love and pray for my enemies. Thank You for the sunshine and the rain, daily reminders of Your love for all the world! In Christ, amen.

March 3: Called to Serve (Luke 14:7-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

On the board write this quote from Austrian actor and movie director Bernhard Wicki:

Status symbols are medals you buy yourself.

After all class members have arrived and have had time to consider the quote, discuss it briefly. What are some differences between status symbols and medals? What are some common status symbols? Why do people try to obtain such status symbols?

Lead into Bible study by saying, “It is not unusual for people to want to be recognized as important. Therefore, one might buy fine jewelry, a fast car, fashionable apparel, or a big house. These are all ways of telling others that we are significant. But Jesus called his disciples to value service over status.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “Surprising or Expected?” handout  here. Make a copy for each class member. Divide the class into groups of three to five students. Have groups read the text aloud. Then group members should take a few minutes to mark each statement about the text as being surprising to or expected by them. Then groups should allow members to share and explain why they marked statements as they did.

February 26

By 365 Devotions

The Ripple Effects of Favoritism

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism (James 2:1).

Scripture: James 2:1-7

Song: “The Love of God”

The ripple effects of favoritism are woven throughout our history books, news channels, workplaces, schools, and even our homes. This is seen in the deep wounds, bitterness, and anger people often carry which affect generation after generation and entire nations.

James 2:1 gives believers in Christ a stern warning. God denounces anyone who shows bias based on someone’s appearance. In today’s passage, it happens to be the rich discriminating against those who look poor. Regardless of how someone appears, we must never sit in the place of judgment, a seat reserved for God. It’s one thing to have godly discernment, which everyone needs. It’s another thing to show ungodly judgment, which is a sin. Let’s endeavor to show love to all, and partiality to none, to the glory of God.

Dear friend, whether you’re rich or poor, or whoever you are, you are the apple of God’s eye! If you’ve ever felt the sting of favoritism, God wants to bind your wounds. Forgive those who hurt you and release them to God. And if you’ve ever shown favoritism, ask God to forgive you, and if possible, work toward restoring peace. The good news about ripple effects is that they work both ways. Favoritism spreads anger, hurt, and bitterness, but showing impartiality spreads love, joy, and peace!

Father, please help me to show impartiality to all who cross my path, that all might witness Your unconditional love through my words and deeds. In Christ, amen.

February 25

By 365 Devotions

Purpose Beyond the Pain

Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel (Proverbs 25:4).

Scripture: Proverbs 25:2-7

Song: “Refiner’s Fire”

It had been 14 days in a hospital bed in France. I was far from my family and home. Why did God allow this trial? It seemed unusually long, and it was far from over. Despite the turmoil within my heart, I knew God was watching over me, and that He had a greater purpose.

Proverbs 25:4 gives insight into that purpose with the analogy of a silversmith. Creating a silver vessel is a process. First, the rough ore is broken and placed in a crucible under intense heat. As the temperature rises, the impurities (dross) rise to the surface. The silversmith then skims the dross off the top. He returns the crucible to the furnace to repeat this process until he sees his reflection in the liquid, which lets him know that the silver is finally pure. In the same way, God uses our trials to eliminate the dross in us, transforming us into the likeness of Christ.

Dear friend, seeing the purpose beyond our pain is never easy, especially when our eyes are filled with tears. Yet God is asking us to trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He’s making everything beautiful in His time!

Father, as You purify my heart, help me to trust that You are working in my life for good and for Your glory. In Christ, amen.

February 25–28. Leila Grandemange lives in Virginia with her husband and several adorable dogs, which are also part of her ministry. She loves simple things: family dinners, walks in nature, and tea with friends.

February 24

By 365 Devotions

Home Sweet Home

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress” (Psalm 91:1, 2).

Scripture: Psalm 91:1-8,11-16

Song: “Happy the Home When God Is There”

As children we long for a special hiding place. Mine was blankets over chair backs. Our children transformed large cardboard boxes into their hideaway. Then came the grandkids’ multi-level tree house. Impressive! Yet ultimately it too proved to be but a temporary retreat.

The psalmist identified a far better, permanent solution. A place free of fears, impervious to danger, and guarded by angels. Almost too good to believe, yet nonetheless available. And oh, so desperately needed.

Time passes. Life happens and we find ourselves once again looking for a place to hide. Only now those things we’re attempting to escape are real—pressures to succeed and provide, fear of failure. Discontentment. Discouragement. Rare is that person, worldly status aside, who doesn’t ultimately experience the need for a safe haven. The psalmist found it.

What we so desperately seek has been there all along. If we simply and finally redirect our search away from things of this world and look instead to our one true God, we are promised admittance. “Come on in. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Search over. Home at last. Alleluia! Amen!

Lord, for so long, I looked in all the wrong places for what only You can provide. And yet, when I finally sought You out, there You were welcoming me with open arms. May I dwell in Your presence from now throughout eternity. In Christ, amen.

February 23

By 365 Devotions

Sanctuary in the Storm

I say to the LORD, “You are my God.” Hear LORD, my cry for mercy. Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle (Psalm 140:6, 7).

Scripture: Psalm 140:1-8

Song: “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”

I was but eight years old when hurricane Hazel tore through Mathews County, yet the memory remains razor sharp. My mother, sister, and I peered out a window as the storm blew down two oak trees. I’d never seen anything like that. To me, the world felt dangerously out of control but I didn’t know what to do. Mom, on the other hand, knew. She silently cried out to God for mercy and deliverance. Silently, so as not to alarm my sister and me.

Young David experienced personal danger at many points in his life: in the open fields watching over his father’s sheep; on the battle field facing Goliath; when living in King Saul’s household. Even then, David knew exactly what to do in personal danger—cry out to the Lord for mercy and deliverance.

Storms will come into our lives. When they rage, God is there with us. He is the strong deliverer who can shield us. The doors to God’s sanctuary are accessible to everyone. All we need to do is call out to God with confidence as His beloved.

Holy Father, all honor and glory to You for You are my ever-present refuge amidst life’s chaos. In Your mercy and grace, You welcome me in with open arms. Oh, that I may love You nearly as much as You have first loved me. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

February 22

By 365 Devotions

Left in Good Hands

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name (John 17:11).

Scripture: John 17:11-15

Song: “For All Thy Care We Bless Thee”

Seems just yesterday our grandchildren were being dropped off with us, entrusted into our care while their mom did all the other things mothers do. But now, our granddaughter, having completed her second year of college, spent the summer taking care of someone else’s children. The parents that employed my granddaughter made a wise choice.

Jesus’ time on earth was coming to an end. His prayer affirmed His desire, and knowledge, that the disciples would continue to be bathed in divine love as they proclaimed the good news throughout the region. He entrusted their care to the Heavenly Father, giver of the Holy Spirit.

I congratulated our granddaughter on landing her position and then affirmed my certainty in her ability to do a fantastic job because of her love for others. It is love that makes her a perfect candidate for giving care.

When I ponder my experience of Jesus in my life, love is at the top of all the notions and suppositions. Because of God’s love for us I am certain that Christ couldn’t have left us in better hands.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great love for me. Every day You watch over me with immeasurable love as Your child. With that amazing love, please empower me to live each day in ways that attest to my love for You, my eternal Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 21

By 365 Devotions

Call for Help, Then Step Aside

He cares for those who trust in him . . . he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness (Nahum 1:7, 8).

Scripture: Nahum 1:2-8

Song: “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”

From the Saturday morning sign-on until early afternoon, I watched transfixed as one western hero after another galloped across the television screen. Some rode alone, others with a sidekick; some on white horses, others on palominos. All had one thing in common. Wherever trouble was brewing, each was prepared to set things right.

Nineveh was a hotbed of trouble. Oppression, plunder, and slaughter of its enemies were commonplace. To Nahum there seemed but one solution, unleashing the wrath of a God in whose presence mountains quaked and hills melted away. Yet, just as sometimes happened in Dodge City or Tombstone, when well intended folks determined to impose their wills, innocent people got hurt.

An angry mob stormed the jailhouse or a victim challenged the evil-doer to a gun fight. Until, that is, the “white hat” intervened to ensure justice was left to those best suited to administer it. Despite the notions of Nahum and others (see Jonah 3:10–4:2), Nineveh’s fate, immediate and future, was left for God to determine.

Decades removed from watching Saturday morning westerns, I’ve come to understand that distinguishing right from wrong isn’t always so simple. Surely now, as throughout the ages, such evaluations can only be perfectly made when left in another’s hands— those of our loving God, our refuge in times of trouble.

Merciful Father, guided by the Spirit, may I devote myself to reflecting Your love upon all persons while leaving matters of righteousness to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 20

By 365 Devotions

Selected, Protected, Transformed

I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you (Isaiah 41:9, 10).

Scripture: Isaiah 41:8-13

Song: “Take My Hand Precious Lord”

An intriguing opportunity emerged to join my high school debate team. Suddenly feeling adventurous, I jumped at the chance. After thanking Mrs. White for selecting me I started thinking, Oh no! What have I gotten myself into? I doubted my abilities but chose to rely upon my instructor and trust in her decision and ability to coach. She had, after all, schooled dozens of beginners. She eased my nerves and turned anxiety into assurance. With her help my debating skills grew. I learned to meet each challenge and face each opponent.

The Israelites were looking for an opportunity for their freedom. They would jump at the chance to return home but could not accomplish that on their own power. Isaiah directed their attention to God who had selected them centuries ago. If they would forego self-reliance to focus on God and put their dependence upon Him, then He would assuage their fears, build their confidence, and return them to their land.

God is still doing the same for all who recognize that He has chosen them and respond in faith and trust. We serve a mighty God. When trials come we can walk hand in hand with our Lord and He will bring us through to victory.

Heavenly Father, the knowledge of having been chosen to honor and glorify Your name continues to amaze. Setting aside all fears of inadequacy, I humbly pray, “Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.” In Jesus’ name, amen.

In the World—February 24, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 24 here.


Travis Kauffman has become famous recently. On February 4, he was running on a mountain trail in Colorado when he was attacked by a mountain lion. Before he knew it, the 50-pound cat had locked its jaws around the arm of the lanky 5-foot-10, 150-pound Kauffman. The 31-year-old runner fought back and eventually suffocated the animal by putting his foot on its neck. When recounting the incident for the press, Kaufman recalled that his first reaction when attacked was trying to protect his face and crying out in sort of a “barbarian yell.”


The Psalmist speaks of crying out in a different way when preyed upon. His prayer of praise and trust in God acknowledges that God will enable us to trample on the lion and serpent. Kauffman responded by yelling. The Psalmist reacted with faith in God who can protect and deliver. Kauffman recalled that the experience taught him to “have awareness of the environment.” The Psalmist encourages us to remember that our environment includes a mighty God!

  1. How can Kauffman’s experience with the lion be an allegory for our lives? Describe a situation in which you felt you were being violently and unexpectedly attacked.
  2. How can you become more aware of your environment—situations that can put you in danger? How can trust in God help you fend off an ambush from the Tempter in such situations?
  3. How do the promises in verses 11 to 16 strengthen your trust in God?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 24: Our Rescuing God (Psalm 91:1-8,11-16)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Defense or Offense” puzzle here. Make copies of the worksheet for each class member. Place copies on classroom chairs, encouraging class members to work on it individually or corporately as they arrive. After everyone has had the opportunity to work the puzzle, share these answers: 1=b, 2=e, 3=k, 4=h, 5=l, 6=d, 7=c, 8=j, 9=a, 10=f, 11=k, 12=g, 13=i.

Transition into Bible study by saying, “In football and other sports, it is important that team score (offense) and prevent opponents from scoring (defense). The psalmist tells us that God plays both defense and offense on our behalf!”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Divide the class into two groups. Give each group an inexpensive foam football and a fine point permanent marker. (If you do not wish to purchase toy footballs, you may create football-shaped cardboard cutouts instead.) Give each group one of these Scripture assignments:

Defense Group (Psalm 91:1-8, 11-16) How does God protect us?

Offense Group (Psalm 91:1-8, 11-16) How does God fight for us?

Give groups about 15 minutes to read their Bible texts and then write answers to their question from the text on their footballs. Some suggested responses would be:

Defense Group—God shelters, fortifies, saves from traps and disease, shields, relieves fear, lifts us up out of harm’s way

Offense Group—God sends angels, helps us trample dangerous obstacles, punishes the wicked, answers our call for help, demonstrates how he saves, gives long life

February 19

By 365 Devotions

Walking in Faith

The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life (Psalm 121:7).

Scripture: Psalm 121:1-8

Song: “Walk with Faith in Your Heart”

My wife and I love hiking in national and state parks. Our stays are usually limited to a few days so, to maximize the use of our time, we often do advance research. What’s each trail’s difficulty level? Unique challenges? The information is helpful but sometimes incomplete and highly subjective. We’ve come to expect disparities, some “slippery slopes” along the way.

Today’s psalm, according to various Bible commentaries, is thought to have been a favorite of travelers, perhaps returning to Jerusalem, and recited or sung throughout the journey. Whether traversing mountains, sleeping in the wilderness, or battling the effects of bone-bleaching heat, the refrain reminded them of God’s ceaseless vigilance. And on they went.

In our hiking, we always try to ensure the trail will accommodate our turning around should proceeding become too risky. In our daily lives, we’ve likewise been confronted with situations prompting us to “seek the nearest exit.” Not even the Son was immune. It’s another commonality, however, upon which we should focus—the truth underscored in Psalm 121.

For us, “travelers” on a journey of faith, His Word proclaims there isn’t a single waking or sleeping moment during which we’re not under the loving Father’s watchful eye.

No additional research required. Just praise God and keep walking in faith.

Lord, as my journey continues, illumine my path with the glow of Your love. Grant me the strength and wisdom to stay the course. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 18

By 365 Devotions

Loved into Abundance

He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young (Deuteronomy 32:10, 11).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 32:10-14

Song: “On Eagle’s Wings”

Lands along the banks of the James River, running through Richmond, Virginia, are home to many bird species. Years ago, largely due to harmful pesticides, the area’s bald eagle population fell precipitously. Concerned individuals and groups spurred government to make environmental changes necessary for a “rebirth” of the area’s eagle population. Absent intervention, the eagles may have disappeared.

The Israelites found themselves in an inhospitable environment too, the desert. Forty years they wandered. Their fate, had they been left to fend for themselves, would have been tenuous at best. They needn’t have worried. A loving God was not about to abandon His children. By His love, God gave manna and quail from the sky and water from rocks to sustain them (see Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 105:40). God’s love prevailed. It always does.

Watching an eagle soar above the river evokes awe. Imagining God’s merciful hand extending downward, reaching out to each beloved child, fills one’s heart to overflowing with love that intervenes to sustain us with everything we need to thrive.

Precious Father, in love You led me out of the wasteland of worldliness. Teach me, I pray in Jesus’ name, to reflect that love upon those I encounter.

February 18–24. Robert L. Stephens, a retiree living in Glen Allen, Virginia, loves spending time with family and in lay speaking. He and his wife, Linda, enjoy traveling and count National Parks among their favorite destinations.

February 17

By 365 Devotions

A Fresh Perspective

Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! (Psalm 66:5).

Scripture: Psalm 66:1-9, 16-20

Song: “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

Walking through the woods in the Rockies, you keep your eyes on the ground to avoid tripping on roots and low-lying brush along the narrow dirt paths. Tiny wildflowers and vibrant Indian Paintbrush decorate the pine-needle laden ground, and occasionally a blue Columbine peeks out and graces the eyes of the hiker. Yet, if you keep your eyes down the entire time, you will miss the glorious sights above. Colorado’s blue skies are a sight to behold. The sunlight filters down through the evergreen boughs and the shadows dance and sway all around. Birdsong fills your ears and the scent of pine is fresh in the crisp mountain air.

In life, we sometimes get in the habit of keeping our eyes down to avoid trouble, or perhaps to avoid conflict. The worries of the world weigh us down, and we plod through life. It’s easy to get stuck in that rut. It’s easy to start grumbling.

Today, take a minute to stop plodding. Lift your eyes to the heavens and worship God who waits for you there. Remember He created you, He breathes life into you, and He longs to hear you lift your voice in worship. Look at the clouds. Gaze at the stars. And no matter how heavy life is at the moment, let your heart swell with praise. God is awesome.

Mighty God, forgive us for being consumed with earthly worries and responsibilities. Lift our eyes to You and accept our humble, sincere worship. You are worthy! In Christ, amen.

February 16

By 365 Devotions

Strength in the Storm

You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:12).

Scripture: Psalm 66:10-15

Song: “Through It All”

In the shadow of my mother’s recent death, it felt like the valley flooded and it was all I could do to keep my head above the water. Perhaps you have felt like you were drowning in sorrow. Or maybe you’ve felt the flames of a fiery trial licking at you from every direction, the panic rising up within you as the fire threatens to consume you. Every follower of Jesus has experienced trials at one time or another. These times in our life can be terrifying as well as faith-building.

Financial struggles. Sickness. Loss of a loved one. Natural disasters. Terrorism. Persecution. Loneliness. The reasons to suffer in this world are endless, striking fear in our hearts and causing our faith in a loving God to waver.

When faced with problems, God gives us a choice. We cannot always choose our circumstances, but we can choose our response. In short, we can give up or we can look up. If we focus on the flood or the fire, we will drown or become burned. If we keep our eyes on the Lord and trust Him, He will bring us through the difficulty to a “place of abundance.” Remember Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Heavenly Father, life can be painful. Thank You that we can trust You in all circumstances, and when we choose to keep our eyes on You, we find peace. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 15

By 365 Devotions

God’s Hands

He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God (Joshua 4:24).

Scripture: Joshua 4:19-24

Song: “He Leadeth Me”

Think of all the things we require our hands to do on a daily basis. We use them to clean, to eat with, to help others, to open and close things, to steer the car, to nurture, caress, and correct. We bond with people through our hands; often our first contact with someone is a handshake. Think of babies—the first thing we do is hold out a finger and encourage them to grasp it with their tiny hands. We connect with our hands. We comfort others through touch—a heartfelt hug, a squeeze of the shoulder, a pat on the back.

Now take a moment to think of God’s hands. What does He do with His hands? Does He have hands? The Bible says He does. His hands are powerful. He created the heavens and the earth with His hands (Acts 7:50). He made us with His hands, and continues to mold us into His image (Isaiah 64:8). He disciplines with His hands. When He removes His hand from us, we are no longer under His protection. He renders justice with His hands (Deuteronomy 32:41). He delivers us, upholds us, and leads us with His hands.

God is a loving Father. We can count on Him to guide us, cleanse us, save us, comfort us, and protect us by the power of His mighty hands.

Lord God, thank You that the same hands that created the universe are making me into Your image. In Christ, amen.

February 14

By 365 Devotions

Purpose in Suffering

You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:11).

Scripture: James 5:7-12

Song: “Be Still My Soul”

My mother read the biography of Corrie Ten Boom to me when I was a girl, and it has had a lasting impact on me, even though nothing I’ve encountered in my own life can compare with the horrific conditions of Corrie’s imprisonment at Ravensbrück concentration camp. Like Job, Corrie, along with her sister, Betsie, decided to trust God in the midst of terrible circumstances.

In their darkest moments, the sisters turned to Scripture and prayer. Instead of complaining, they created ways to overcome their adversities. They discovered how to be thankful for fleas, and for the unthinkable close-quarters they were forced to live in. A flea-infestation kept the lewd soldiers away from them at night, and the close-quarters allowed the women in the crowded bunks to hear whispered Scriptures, find eternal life and hope in Christ, and together lift up prayer and worship.

When we suffer, we must look to Jesus, who is well-acquainted with suffering. He was despised and rejected by men. He is with us in our pain, and will never turn us away in our grief. Through Him, we can be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and look for ways to share His love with others who may be suffering similarly.

Father God, thank You for Your presence with me in every challenging situation and no matter how much darkness surrounds me. Help me to recognize Your presence and I will praise You in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 13

By 365 Devotions

A Living Hope

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3-7

Song: “Blessed Assurance”

Part of life is hoping for things. What are you hoping for today?

Hope, as we commonly understand it, is wishful thinking—a yearning for something in the future which we cannot be sure we’ll attain. As a Denver native, I hope the Broncos will win the Super Bowl. I hope my children do well in school. We hope for good news, for favorable weather, for health and success. There’s nothing wrong with hoping—in fact, studies show hope has major impacts on our health and well-being. But is hope alive?

As Christians, our hope is not fixed on something uncertain. Rather, our hope is in the promises God has made in His Word. Jesus’ resurrection is our living proof that God will follow through on His promises. The word alive means fertile, fruitful, and productive. Likewise, “living hope” produces power through the Holy Spirit within us to induce change in our lives. A believer’s hope is an assurance, a strong confidence in God.

Hope, along with faith and love, is a virtue of the Christian life. Faith and love spring from hope (Colossians 1:4, 5). Hope produces joy and peace in believers. In contrast, those who do not place their trust in Christ are without hope (Ephesians 2:12). Hope is a beacon of light that sets believers apart from a hopeless world.

Father, thank You for the living hope we have because of our living Savior! May our hope ever and only be in You. In Your name we pray, amen.

In the World—February 17, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 17 here.


In the past weeks, we’ve continued to see the power of nature in a weeks-long weather pattern. Heavy rains and massive mudslides have plagued California. A polar vortex has created blizzards and record deep freeze temperatures in the Upper Midwest and the Eastern U.S. Ice storms have struck the Midwest and South. When extreme weather brings havoc-creating conditions accompanied by massive destruction of property, insurance companies call these events “acts of God.”


Most of us would argue that God should not be blamed for these highly destructive events. After all, human decisions are often the immediate reason for the accidents and other calamities associated with the weather. Regardless of how we might argue those issues, today’s text presents a different sort of evidence of God’s power. God is the Creator of the natural world. But he is also the powerful Restorer of the human spirit and the One who blesses those who revere him.

  1. In what ways have you experienced (and expressed praise for) the evidence of God’s creative power in the natural world? How do you answer those who turn against God because of the existence of natural evil?
  2. Tell the class of a time when you have said to someone (as the psalmist did), “Let me tell you about what God has done for me”? Give the class an example of how God has “kept your feet from slipping.”
  3. In what respect do you see God “watching the nations”? What does this phrase mean to you?

 —Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 17: Our Mighty God (Psalm 66:1-9,16-20)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Divide the class into two groups, giving each pen and paper. Give groups about five minutes to list reasons in defense of one of the following statements:

  • The most important task of a national leader is to defend the country from foreign enemies.
  • The most important task of a national leader is to provide for domestic needs.

After group work is complete, have them share and defend their responses. Then move into Bible study saying, “Some people are considered great because of the way they wield power. Others are great because of ways they provide for the needs of their constituency. The psalmist praises God for both!”

To encourage personal application:

Download the “Prayer Spinner” reproducible sheet here. Make enough copies for every three to five class members. Glue the main dial to a piece of corrugated cardboard and attach the spinner with a pin.

Divide the class into groups and give each a spinner. Give them several minutes to use their spinner to point to a reason from the text for praising God. Then they should offer a prayer voicing that praise.

February 12

By 365 Devotions

Our Need of Mercy

He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).

Scripture: Luke 18:9-14

Song: “Saved by the Blood”

On December 20, 1943, Charles Brown, fighter-pilot, scanned the view outside the cockpit of his crippled American B-17 bomber and froze in fear. He was face-to-face with a German pilot, Franz Stigler, whose jet-fighter hovered just feet away from their wingtip. The Luftwaffe plane had closed in on them with orders to shoot them from the sky. But when Brown and his copilot looked at the German pilot again, something strange happened—he didn’t pull the trigger. He nodded at them instead, letting them go in a rare demonstration of mercy during WW II. The two pilots met 40 years later and developed a lasting friendship.

When we come to God in prayer, He demonstrates extreme mercy toward us because of the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. The holy and perfect nature of God cannot look upon sin. If we saw Him face-to-face, we would die (Exodus 33:20). If we were to “get what we deserve,” we would all be cast into Hell. But God, in His amazing love and indescribable mercy, has made a way for us to have a lasting relationship with Him, though the blood of Jesus Christ. Instead of destroying us, who were His enemies, He made a way for us to have eternal life (Romans 5:10). Instead of casting us to our deaths, He has called us friends (John 15:15).

Heavenly Father, thank You for showing extreme mercy and saving us through the death and resurrection of Your only Son. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 11

By 365 Devotions

His Heart is Touched

Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record? (Psalm 56:8).

Scripture: Psalm 56:1-9

Song: “Does Jesus Care?”

I was expecting our second child and had a determined toddler running about. We lived in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and the afternoon was hot and muggy. I had the kind of “morning sickness” that lasted 24/7. When my 15-month-old daughter finally went down for her afternoon nap, I laid on our couch and cried, feeling miserable and sorry for myself. I had a direct view of our hummingbird feeder, hanging from the tree in the front yard, but as of yet, it hadn’t attracted any visitors.

I prayed, “Father, if you care about me, send a hummingbird.” Within five minutes a sweet little hummer, in vibrant glory, visited our feeder and stayed close all afternoon. I had never felt so loved, so cherished by my Heavenly Father! That He would care enough to hear a nauseated, exhausted young mother’s prayer and answer so quickly multiplied my faith. The sickness didn’t ease up at once, but after that display of love, it was easier to bear.

Remember that God cares, even about the smallest details in your life. He delights in showing His love in personal ways.

Heavenly Father, Your heart is touched by whatever touches me! Thank You for caring so deeply, and showing Your love through Creation. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 11–17. Jill Sanderson Millsap, wife of 30 years and mother to six, has lived a life of adventure in overseas missions, home-schooling, and serving others. Jill enjoys singing, playing piano, and family time.

February 10

By 365 Devotions

Trust God Through the End

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end (Psalm 48:14).

Scripture: Psalm 48:1-3, 9-14

Song: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

In 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien released the first installment of the epic novel The Lord of the Rings. His fantastical story involves Orcs, Hobbits, Wizards, Elves, and many other creatures as well as compelling action sequences, but the story centers around the relationship between Frodo and Sam. These unlikely heroes stick together through thick and thin to see their mission through. Readers might even find themselves sad at the end of the story, wishing to see more of their relationship.

Tolkien, a Christian, gave many glimpses into what godly loyalty should look like. It was those very traits that made his books and eventual movies wildly successful.

The good news for Christians is that God is faithful to us to the end. But the end of what? The blessed assurance we have in Christ is life everlasting. Scripture tells us God will guide us through the end of our lives here on earth and usher us into His very presence throughout eternity. We can trust Him now and forever.

Heavenly Father, thank You for being with me every step of the way through life. I trust Your direction and commit myself to You. In my Savior’s name, amen.

February 9

By 365 Devotions

God’s Order Brings Peace in Our Lives

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 14:26-33

Song: “Breathe”

Leonardo of Pisa was a highly regarded European mathematician in the Middle Ages. Among his many accomplishments, Leonardo is known for introducing a series of numbers now known as the Fibonacci sequence. This sequence is a list of numbers populated by adding the preceding two numbers. If you are mathematician you may find this interesting, but there is additional interest for those of us who don’t celebrate “Pi Day” on March 14. The Fibonacci sequence is found continuously throughout nature. Flower petals, pinecones, tree branches, shells, spiral galaxies, and DNA molecules exhibit the sequence.

No one knows exactly how Leonardo came across this sequence, but a brief study will reveal its existence in our daily lives. This kind of order is prominent throughout God’s creation and is, literally, what keeps the earth spinning on its axis.

In God’s very handiwork we can see order, so we should also expect to see it in His work through us. As a parent of two teenagers, I understand how chaos can sneak into our lives, but God is a God of order and peace. He doesn’t just teach it through His Word, but also displays it in our everyday life. Take a minute to smell the flowers. And count the petals while you’re at it. You’ll find the lily with three petals, buttercups with five, chicory with twenty-one and so on. I think you’ll find it a peaceful process.

Father, please help me find peace in Your order today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 8

By 365 Devotions

Our Security Is in Christ

As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the LORD Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever (Psalm 48:8).

Scripture: Psalm 48:4-8

Song: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

On September 4, 2004, the De La Salle high school football team entered Qwest Field in Seattle riding an unprecedented 151 game winning streak. Despite the fact that they continually graduated their best players, the team managed to string one undefeated season after another, building the reputation of being unstoppable. Within a few hours their streak would come to an end leading them on a soul-searching journey that is documented in the 2014 film entitled, When the Game Stands Tall.

This world offers many “sure things,” but you don’t have to live long to learn what the young men of De La Salle high school learned in the 2004–2005 football season. Even the most certain things in this world can change in a moment. But as believers in Christ we know that we can take confidence in the surety of our Lord and His kingdom.

Christ provides each Christian with the confidence that He will always provide a safe place for us. Even when the world seems to have ganged up against us, combining their forces and attacking from all sides, God will secure us, and it’s not the construction of the place or the building materials that make that place secure. It is God himself.

Lord, help me find security in You when times get hard and not to fear what life may bring. In Your name I pray, amen.

February 7

By 365 Devotions

God’s Constancy Is Our Assurance

Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity (Psalm 93:2).

Scripture: Psalm 93

Song: “Everlasting God”

The Cairn de Barnenez is considered by many to be the oldest building still standing. It is estimated that the structure, in modern France, was constructed around 4850 BC, making it 2,000 years older than the ancient pyramids. Over centuries this structure has withstood all of the torture that nature and man has thrown at it, yet it still stands.

I doubt that when troubling storms move through the region that the inhabitants living near the ancient building rush over to make sure it has survived the elements. Its very history and presence might lead us to expect that it will survive many more trials for years to come.

The throne of the Lord has outlasted much more than just storms and abuse. It is more than prehistoric. It is eternal, without beginning or end. It has not decayed by time or weakened by winds or crashing waves. The very eternal existence and fortitude of the Lord makes Him the only one in whom we can trust in whatever may come. This assurance provides peace and focus in our lives despite what goes on around us.

Lord, thank You for being an everlasting God that is stronger than the waves and more reliable than the rising of the sun. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 6

By 365 Devotions

The Cornerstone

See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6).

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:1-8

Song: “Cornerstone”

On August 5, 2010, the world watched as news surfaced of a copper mine collapse in Chile. Days turned into weeks as rescue efforts to free the 33 trapped miners persisted without results. For 69 days the miners huddled together in the darkness, but miner Jose Henriquez had the real solution. He received the nickname “The Pastor” from others involved in the event. He continually encouraged others with Scripture that he had memorized and ultimately 20 of the miners came to salvation in Jesus Christ just days before their physical rescue.

I imagine the stones that fell, trapping the miners, might have seemed like stones of death, despair, and darkness. But for those 20 miners who received salvation those stones moved them toward God’s ultimate liberation. Through their harrowing experience the miners encountered Jesus, the true cornerstone for their lives.

If you feel trapped by your circumstances, let the Word of God speak to your heart. Call on Jesus and He will become your foundation for the future. If you are a Christian that is struggling, realize that Jesus alone is our cornerstone and we can always return to Him to find stability in life.

Lord, I want You to be my cornerstone. Forgive me and save me. In Your name I pray, amen.

In the World—February 10, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 10 here.


The Super Bowl elicits an almost religious devotion season after season. Advertisers willingly pay an average $5.25 million for a 30-second commercial to reach rabid football fans. A lot of superlatives are used to describe the game: the bestteams in football, the most talentedplayers in the game, the funniestTV commercials, etc. Nevertheless, the most common superlative given to last Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII was “one of the most boringin Super Bowl history.” At the end of the third quarter, the score was still only 3-to-3. Post-game TV ratings were at a 10-year low for the game.


When the Psalmist describes the Lord in today’s text, he searches for appropriate superlatives. Unable to find one that effectively expresses God’s greatness, the Psalmist uses the superb character of the city of Jerusalem as a means of declaring God’s glory. Jerusalem is more “super” than any other shrine or location because it is the physical place where God makes himself present to the people of Israel. Thus, the metaphor expresses the superlative nature of Israel’s God.

  1. What, if anything, does the cost of a Super Bowl commercial suggest to you regarding our culture’s values? In what way is a sporting event a way of describing what our culture values?
  2. What contemporary image would you use to describe the glory of God? Explain. Does God have a “holy mountain” today? Explain your answer.
  3. What dangers do you see, if any, in thinking of a specific place (such as a church building or shrine) as the place where God dwells?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 10: Our Loving God (Psalm 48:1-3, 9-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Right Track–Wrong Track” activity  here. Make a copy for each class member. After class members arrive, allow them 5 minutes to rate how well the nation is doing regarding each of the issues on the worksheet.  (Make it clear that there are no right or wrong answers.) Then ask class members to turn to a partner and compare and defend their ratings.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “At times all seems to be going well in a country, but at others, nothing seems to be right! The psalmist describes our God who gives us stability no matter the state of the world around us.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Begin Bible study by saying, “Leaders of nations regularly address their citizens to assure them of the stability of their countries. (The President of the United States discharged that duty last Tuesday evening.) As Christ followers, we have citizenship in our native countries, but also in the Kingdom of Heaven where God reigns. Imagine yourself delivering such a speech concerning the state of God’s kingdom.”

Divide the class into small groups, giving each group pen and paper and a portion of the Bible text. Have them read their portion and try to summarize what it says about the state of God’s Kingdom in a couplet—a two-line rhyming poem. Give them about 15 minutes to write before sharing and explaining their work.  (If your class is disinterested in writing, copy each of our sample couplets on the board without Scripture references. Have the class match couplets to Scripture. Then summarize the content of the passage using the commentary.)

Sample couplets:

God’s Kingdom is stable because . . .

God is greater than any other power in the world (vv. 1-3).

God is worthy, lofty, and great—

A fortress where peace reigns within the gate.

God alone gives standards of right and wrong (vv. 9-11).

God’s Word reveals secrets of righteous living—

Peace and security they’re always giving.

God promises to protect his people (vv. 12-14).

God faithfully guides his special nation—

Not just now, but for each generation.


February 5

By 365 Devotions

God Will Come Through for You

I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel (Ezekiel 39:7).

Scripture: Ezekiel 39:7-10

Song: “He’s Been Good”

My wife and I owned a Jack Russell Terrier named Emma. She was a thousand pounds of confidence in an eight-pound body. Emma had no fear and thought she defended our family. Her bravado emboldened her to sit on our front porch and bark aggressively at every dog that went by, leashed or unleashed, big or small. The amazing thing was that none of those dogs showed aggression toward the wiry terrier, but probably not for the reasons she thought. Sitting behind Emma was Juno, our ninety-pound Great Pyrenees. With Juno present, Emma could boldly claim victory.

God made bold statements about what He is going to do, particularly in reference to the profaning of His holy name. His solution for this problem is to stand up and defend His people, the downtrodden and helpless. He chooses to save those who know they cannot save themselves, resulting in everyone knowing that He is God.

He is willing to do this in your life as well. When things seem too much and it feels like the whole world is against you, He comes through for you, if you will trust Him with your life.

Father, please defend me. I trust You to overcome the great barriers in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 4

By 365 Devotions

Who Does He Say You Are?

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18).

Scripture: Matthew 16:13-20

Song: “All He Says I Am”

A young man from Cleveland showed his mother a photo of himself standing with someone, slightly shorter than him, clad in Cavaliers’ gear not yet available for the public. Mom kept talking about “the kid” in the photo and where did he get that team clothing. The son pointed out that his companion was not a kid, but Isaiah Thomas, NBA All-Star and point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mom knew the team but missed “the kid’s” identity.

When Jesus asked the disciples to identify Him, Peter responded accurately. Jesus then gave Peter’s identity, defined by the leadership role he would take for the church. However, before that identity would be fully attained Peter would fall asleep instead of remaining alert and praying, try to defend Jesus by attacking a soldier, and then outright deny he knew Jesus. But none of these choices changed what Jesus truly saw in Peter and knew about him. And, Peter went on to become exactly what Jesus said.

When we look at Jesus and tell Him that He is our Lord and Savior, He tells us who we are—His child. Find peace in the fact that Jesus knows not just who you are right now, but what you can become for Him.

Lord, please help me see what You want me to become. In Your name, amen.

February 4–10. Curtis James is a minister, husband, and father of two boys in Texas.

February 3

By 365 Devotions

A Powerful Friend

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10).

Scripture: Philippians 3:7-14

Song: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

We have different levels of friends. Among them are special friends, such as one of mine who recently passed away and left for her Heavenly home. We were on the same wave length; a friend I could confide in about personal problems. We also know people in our neighborhoods, at stores we shop, and so on. We know their faces, maybe their names, but we might not really know these people well. And then with others we might have working relationships, but not know much more about their lives outside of work. Then there may be others we’d like to know better.

Jesus is the friend that I mostly want to know better. I want Him to be more than a mere acquaintance, even more than a close friend. He is the most influential friend we will ever find. He knows our secrets and innermost thoughts and still loves us. He knows all our problems and the answers to each one. He knows how to fix what hurts us. I want to know this powerful friend and fellowship with Him not just because of what He can do for me but because I love Him for who He is and what He has already done.

Lord Jesus, thank You for such an amazing invitation to make You my friend. It is amazing to think that mere people can be intimate friends with an all-powerful God. We are humbled, blessed, and privileged. In the name of my most powerful friend, amen.

February 2

By 365 Devotions

Practical Pattern

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice (Philippians 4:9).

Scripture: Philippians 4:2-9

Song: “Things Are Different Now”

Who likes controversy? Some people thrive on it. I sat at the wheel of my car waiting for the green light, pickup trucks on the lanes on both sides of me. The truck doors opened and the two drivers strode to the front of my car shouting at each other, one with a baseball bat in hand, the other with a wrench. I had no idea how this would turn out. Then to my relief the light changed and they retreated to their respective trucks. I wondered what would have happened if the light hadn’t changed.

Of course something like that wouldn’t happen in church—at least not with a baseball bat and a wrench in hand—but maybe a Bible in hand! Paul pleads with Christians to be agreeable, gentle, and loyal to each other. Years ago I would occasionally get a little perturbed with people. My husband’s remedy was, “Give them the benefit of the doubt.” That’s something we want people to give us, but it works both ways. Also, I was reminded to forgive others as Christ forgives me.

Actions begin with thoughts. That’s why our thinking is so important and Paul gives us much to think about. He provides us with a practical remedy for the heart and mind and he gave us a pattern—prayer, petition, and practice equals peace.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the remedy for peace in Your Word. Help us to put it into practice every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

February 1

By 365 Devotions

Spiritual Transformation

The power that enables him [Jesus] to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:21).

Scripture: Philippians 3:17–4:1

Song: “It Took a Miracle”

A few summers ago I planted parsley to pick for cooking, but at the time didn’t know that parsley is a butterfly-friendly plant. Swallowtails lay their eggs on the plants. And so, before long, butterflies came to my parsley. Then there were eggs and soon big striped caterpillars . . . eating my parsley!

My husband wanted to protect the parsley and started squashing the caterpillars. Later I wished we hadn’t demolished the caterpillars. I’d much rather let caterpillars eat my parsley and then go through their transformation so I could enjoy more beautiful swallowtail butterflies in my garden. I’ll gladly buy parsley at the supermarket.

Some day we who believe will go through a transformation from our earthly bodies to glorified bodies. We’ll be equipped to live in the Heavenly realm. It won’t matter how we’ve been squashed while on earth. We could even be burned at the stake and the power of Jesus Christ will still transform us into a fit citizen of Heaven.

Heavenly Father, we stand amazed at Your majesty and power. We are humbled to be included in Your great plan for our future. In Jesus’ name, amen.

January 31

By 365 Devotions

The Continuing Battle

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1, KJV).

Scripture: Philippians 3:1-6

Song: “Amazing Grace”

What a battle Paul was fighting . . . the Jewish religion vs. the Christian religion, the circumcised flesh vs. a circumcised heart, the people of Israel vs. the people of God. And today, we still have the same type of battles with the “religious” family within the family of God, the flesh vs. the Spirit.

Sadly there are still people who glory in their own accomplishments: how much they attend church; how much they pray; the jobs they do in their church. Their confidence is in their position and activities.

Paul warns us to not put confidence in ourselves or our accomplishments, not in how well versed we are in the Bible or how much zeal for God we have, not how strong a stand we take against those who do not totally believe the same, nor how legalistic we can be. But we place our confidence in His accomplishments. We rejoice in His work. He has performed surgery on our hearts. He has made us people of God, birthed us into a new family! His Spirit gives us insight into His Word plus the power to share it. We realize nothing we can do will make us righteous. Even with His righteousness He clothed us. We cannot add to His grace. For all this and more, rejoice in the Lord!

Father, we owe everything to You and Your Son Jesus who has made us acceptable. All we are and all we have is because of Your working in our lives. Thank You, in Jesus’ name, amen.

January 30

By 365 Devotions

A Proper Boast

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness (2 Corinthians 11:30).

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:21b-30

Song: “My Tribute”

The hill was steep, too steep for my trike, and my descent was faster than my ability to steer. I was only a kid, a bit more adventuresome than a five-year old should be. And when the tricycle tipped over and my knee connected with the pavement, the whole neighborhood could hear my screams. Then, in minutes, strong arms were lifting me up and holding me close. It was my dad, and my tears stopped flowing.

Do you suppose that when Paul was being beaten and going through dangers and trials that in his weakness he felt the power of God lifting him up and holding him close? Paul would glory in his weakness. Why? Because in it he experienced the power of God and His glory. Paul could not endure what he went through without God-given strength. Paul’s weakness gave him the opportunity to boast about the strength of God’s grace and power in his life.

When you go through a trial, remember that your great weakness is matched by His greater strength. It gives God the opportunity to work in our lives and gives us the opportunity to tell of His greatness.

Heavenly Father, how privileged we are to serve such a great God. Thank You for lifting us up when we fall, comforting us in our weakness, and imparting Your grace in every situation. In Jesus’ name, amen.

In the World—February 3, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 3 here.


Partisan wrangling led to the longest federal government shutdown in our nation’s history. It finally came to an end last week—at least for a few days. The president and the Congress agreed to give themselves until February 15 to work out a deal that will keep the government in operation after that. The question is whether our representatives in the House, the Senate, and the White House can move past the invectives and posturing that have characterized their political shouting matches for so long.


Putting the past behind is hard for us. We see it in the political divide that caused the government shutdown. We see it in the cultural divide over poverty, race, gender, and so many other issues. For Paul, he once was separated from the church because of his strict adherence to religious ritual. He learned, that although his past accomplishments in Judaism were significant, his future lay in his relationship with Jesus.

  1. How would you, as a Christian citizen, advise our representatives in Washington to move forward from the current impasse? What shared hopes for the future could convince both sides to put the past aside?
  2. What place does personal, corporate, or even religious pride play in keeping us tethered to the past? What challenges to leave the past behind have you encountered? How did you overcome them?
  3. When a church or Sunday School class experiences a decline in membership, what help in facing the future does today’s text provide? Considering such a situation, suggest some practical steps for trusting in God’s righteousness rather than in our own.

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 3: Press on in Christ (Philippians 3:7-14)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “Outline Repair” activity here. Make copies for each class member. Ask volunteers to read the list of Scriptures aloud and suggest where each one fits in the outline of the lesson text.

The correct responses are I-a=8, I-b=5, I-c=4, II-a=3, II-b=6, II-c=2, III-a=7, III-b=1.  Use the completed outline to explain briefly Philippians 3:7-14.

To encourage personal application:

With the class, brainstorm a list of occupations or other ways people gain recognition. Make paper and pens available, allowing class members to work in groups of 3–5 members each. Groups should choose an avocation from the list and write a short eulogy for that believer who followed Paul’s example of pressing on in Christ. Give them about five minutes to do so before sharing their work. An example would be:

Artie Angler was known to us all as an outstanding fisherman. In fact, he won more than a few trophies when he participated in fishing tournaments. Although he loved fishing, Artie found his greatest satisfaction in being a fisher of men—sharing the saving good news about Jesus with others. Even as he grew older, Artie took every opportunity to speak of his Savior.

January 29

By 365 Devotions

An Open Secret

He [Jesus] entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret (Mark 7:24).

Scripture: Mark 7:24-30

Song: “It Is No Secret”

During President Eisenhower’s second term in office, he made a visit to Philadelphia. He was en-route in a black limousine, but without fanfare, to a hotel. But it’s impossible to keep the presence of the #1 person in the nation secret. The exciting news of Ike coming down the pike spread from cubicle to cubicle in the surrounding offices. I happened to be working in one of those cubicles. In no time I was in a crowd of people six rows deep only 10 feet from the President as he strode from the limo into the hotel. It was an exciting experience.

The presence of Jesus, the #1 person in the universe, could not be kept a secret. Whether He entered a private house, Peter’s boat, or was secluded in a private place, the crowd found Him. And the desperate Greek woman found Him.

The presence of God in the world cannot be hidden. Whether in the beauty of nature, institutions, and churches built because of Him, or the kindness and love shown by one person to another, the imprint of His presence is stamped upon humanity. We cannot and should not keep His presence in our lives secret. It is the children’s bread and free to all. There are still people searching for Him.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the bread of life. Help us to share Jesus with those who have not tasted. In Jesus’ name, amen.

January 28

By 365 Devotions

Heart Surgery

Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code (Romans 2:29).

Scripture: Romans 2:25-29

Song: “Since Jesus Came into My Heart”

I have a friend who had a heart problem. His heart was not operating at full capacity. He was unable to function normally. Walking wore him out and running was out of the question. His heart could not receive enough oxygen; that is, until he underwent heart surgery. In time he was able to work, walk, even run. His life was totally changed, thanks to his physician.

Paul tells us circumcision and the law is based on works. Christianity is based on faith. Works follows faith. In other words, faith leads to works. Works do not lead to faith.

If we have a spiritual heart problem, the first step toward wellness is putting our faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit operates a spiritual circumcision of the heart. Our spiritual heart becomes fully functional as we trust Christ. Good works follow as we walk in His righteousness and our life is totally changed, thanks to our Great Physician.

Thank You, Father, for Your great healing, changing power through Your Son Jesus Christ and for Your Holy Spirit’s transformation in our lives. In Christ my Savior, redeemer, and healer, amen!

January 28–February 3. Ruth Myer and her husband were in church ministry for 35 years and are now retired in Florida but still active in church. Ruth enjoys playing the piano, creating puzzles, pool aerobics, and getting together with friends.

January 27

By 365 Devotions

Just Like Jesus

Be likeminded, having the same love (Philippians 2:2, KJV).

Scripture: Philippians 2:1-11

Song: “O to Be Like Thee!”

For her book Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, Karen Blumenthal’s title is a celebration of one man’s ability to think different than everyone else. When Jobs came on the scene, groupthink was stifling creativity in the business world. It took an individual like Jobs to create such products as the iPod, iPad, and the iPhone. And with them, he rose to the front ranks of the digital revolution.

In his final years, battling cancer, he reflected on the difference all this creative thinking made in the world. One conclusion seemed to crystalize at the end: life is a fragile, precious, short-lived gift. Jobs even changed his mind about technology revolutionizing the world. He told an interviewer, “We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. Technology is not changing it much—if at all.”

The real revolution in life starts with thinking just like Jesus Christ! His love is totally different, and now we are just continuing the love He started—no need to be different. As Paul said, we are to have “the same love” (v. 2) from the same mind. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (v. 5).

Are you just like Jesus? First, do you have the same love—not a different love? Second, does it flow with the same motives—not with different motives? Does it display the same humble, sacrificial service that is His hallmark?

Dear Jesus, help me to be worthy of the name Christian by being just like You. In Your name, amen.

January 26

By 365 Devotions

Every Church Needs a Timothy

I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare (Philippians 2:20).

Scripture: Philippians 2:19-30

Song: “Make Me a Servant”

Alexander Cameron was a veterinary surgeon who later became a Presbyterian minister. In his book Poultry in the Pulpit, he applied the lessons he learned as an animal doctor to parish work. One day he received a call from his friend, Charlie Trevelyan, the local zoo keeper. Charlie asked him to come over and look at a lion, named Ham, who was pacing in pain.

When Cameron arrived, he and the keeper entered the lion cage. When Ham pawed his right ear, they knew where to look. Since no knock-out darts were available, they cinched him down in a net. The lion’s brief struggle caused his abscessed ear to burst with puss. With cotton wool, the doctor cleaned out the ear, squeezed in a tube of medicinal ointment, and finished with a shot of penicillin. After the work was done, Charlie said, “Poor Ham must have suffered some with that ear.”

In the book Cameron observed, “That was typical of this man whose first thought was not what money he could make from zoo attractions, but the well-being of his animals.”

Timothy had this same mind-set. There was nothing glamorous about first century ministry. It was a wild age that required uncommon bravery. Harder still, they had to help believers with painful sin problems—never easy nor safe. But as no zoo can exist without its Charlie, so no church will survive without its Timothy.

Dear Lord, help me to love others like those You honor in Your Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.

January 25

By 365 Devotions

Character That Shines

Become blameless and pure, children of God without fault . . . Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (Philippians 2:15).

Scripture: Philippians 2:12-18

Song: “Take Time to Be Holy”

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” and for good reason. His perfect balance of game analysis and disciplined coaching worked like magic on the basketball court. He set records that may never be broken. His career stats are remarkable. From 1948 to 1975, he had a winloss ratio of 885-203.

Pressed in an interview to be critical of former Indiana University coach Bobby Knight, he only said, “I think Bob Knight is an outstanding teacher of the game of basketball, but I don’t approve of his methods . . . and I’m not judging Bob Knight. There is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us, it hardly behooves me to talk about the rest of us.” And with that bit of folksy wisdom, Wooden revealed what he loved most: Sportsmanlike conduct in all situations. Though bated by a reporter, he maintained his shining example.

What Wooden did for basketball, we should do for Christianity. We should champion high standards. Do you love what God loves? Like any good coach, our Lord loves a winner, but He loves good character even more. Making a name for yourself in ministry statistics is not the greatest achievement. When “children of God” becomes synonymous with “blameless and pure,” then you will shine “like stars in the sky.”

Dear Jesus, keep me from sacrificing my integrity on the altar of success! In Your name, amen.

January 24

By 365 Devotions

Choose Good Pain

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered (Hebrews 5:8, KJV).

Scripture: Hebrews 5:1-10

Song: “Yes, Lord, Yes”

Erwin Lutzer, in his book Seven Snares of the Enemy, related a meeting he had with a man in his study. “He was in love with a woman who was not his wife. I explained that this relationship had to end; he had to return to his wife. He still had deep affection toward this other woman. I explained that he would have to end his ‘affair,’ even grieving over the loss. Jesus would say, ‘Even though it hurts, do it.’”

This man learned that cutting out sin hurts, but it would bear positive fruit in his life. We know this is true in physical exercise, where soreness gives way to strength. It is true in physical therapy, where pain is part of the healing process. In all such cases: “No pain, no gain!” No one illustrates this better than Jesus Christ.

Our Lord suffered the most, with the cross being the climax. Yet, as verse seven indicates, He prayed for strength to endure it, “and was heard in that he feared.” Feared what? The worst pain of all—disobedience to His Heavenly Father! Not even the cross could cause Him more pain! This was Dr. Lutzer’s point to the adulterous man. Breaking off an affair hurts, but sin’s consequences hurt more.

As with Jesus, the good pain ends, while the gains keep rolling in. May we take the long view and enjoy the returns!

Dear Jesus, help me sow the good pain that I may reap a lasting harvest! In Your name, amen.

January 23

By 365 Devotions

What’s Your Whistle Worth?

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Song: “Jesus, Thank You”

In The Man Who Dared the Lightning by Thomas Fleming, an incident is told from the life of Benjamin Franklin. When he was seven years old he was given some small change by a visitor. Later, he saw a boy playing with a whistle. Little Ben offered all his money for it. He really loved his new toy and played it all over the house.

One day he discovered he had paid four times what it was really worth. Instantly, the whistle lost its charm. Ben Franklin learned a valuable lesson, and later turned it into a life principle. As an adult, whenever he saw a man neglecting his family and abandoning his friends for wealth or power, he would say, “He pays too much for his whistle.” How true. Many a popular endeavor simply costs too much. Those deceptive whistles steal their last breath. However, one is worth it.

The apostle Paul was a one-whistle-man, and he never stopped making noise with it. He would play it to all within earshot. To casual observers, it looked like Paul was wasting his breath on an over-rated novelty picked up on the Damascus Road. Paul knew better. Unlike Franklin’s toy whistle, the gospel never lost its charm, because it never lost its worth. Jesus paid a high price for our whistle. No wonder we love it so much!

Dear Savior, let my breath be dedicated to making the gospel known! In Your name, amen.

January 27: Imitate Christ (Philippians 2:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Getting Ahead” puzzle  here. Make copies for all class members. As they arrive, ask them to work on it individually or with others. After all class members have arrived and have had an opportunity to solve the puzzle, reveal the answer. The word list is: ambition, manipulation, control, dominance, influence, waging war, military force, oppression, getting tough. The completed quote, from the infamous Mao Zedong, is: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

Move into Bible study by saying, “Many have taught that one gets ahead through aggression. The more we are willing to intimidate others with raw power, the more power we accumulate. Paul told the Philippians that there was a better way—a way that showed love for God by imitating Jesus.”

To encourage personal application:

Allow class members to work in pairs or small groups to create a personal selflessness inventory by paraphrasing parts of the text.  Give them ten minutes to do so, and then have them share their work. Some items on their inventory might be:

I look for areas of common ground with others (v. 2).

I try to put any personal agenda aside when dealing with others (v. 3).

I avoid “pulling rank”—using any advantage at my disposal to dominate (v. 6).

I look for opportunities to serve rather than opportunities to rule (v. 7).

I trust God to reward me rather than trying to make a name for myself (v. 9).

In the World—January 27, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 27 here.


Coaches tell their players, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” In other words, no matter how valuable any one player may be, the goal is for the team to excel. Nevertheless, one individual’s performance canmake the difference between winning and losing. This may have been the case when officials failed to call pass interference on an L.A. Rams player in last Sunday’s NFC playoff game. Very near the game’s end, the New Orleans Saints were closing in on the goal line when a Rams defender interfered with a pass reception that could had given the Saints the winning touchdown. Officials failed to make the call. The Rams went on to win in overtime and are now headed to Super Bowl LIII. The Rams player later admitted he committed a foul and an official admitted that he missed the call.


During the uncertain time of his imprisonment, Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. The unity of the church, according to Paul, did not depend on his situation, but rather on the extent that believers followed the example of Jesus. Sometimes life’s rules seem not to have been fairly enforced and our lives take a grievous turn. Do we then shift from being a loyal team player to focusing on our own needs? Or do we take a more Christlike approach and subjugate our personal satisfaction to the greater good of what God may be doing?

  1. A missed call in the NFC playoff game may have had great consequences. As Christ followers, what can we learn from that? How have we learned that life is not always fair?
  2. If there is such a thing as a superstar Christian, we would have to consider Paul to be one! But Paul refused to be bitter about the unjust circumstances of his imprisonment and encouraged the church at Philippi to be other-centered rather than self-centered. What was the basis of his reasoning?
  3. In what ways does our culture encourage us to think, “It’s all about me”? What helps you resist temptations toward selfishness and conceit?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

January 22

By 365 Devotions

Less Bulk, More Value

Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word (Psalm 119:65, KJV).

Scripture: Psalm 119:65-72

Song: “Molding a Masterpiece”

The following words appeared in the June, 1973 issue of The Prairie Overcomer: “This figure will be sharp millions of years from now. It won’t deteriorate like paintings or get pitted like marble or bronze.” That was the claim of gem sculptor Harry B. Derian, who spent a year researching and eight months carving a ruby figurine of Christ’s head. The five-and-one-half inch carving stands on a 14-carat gold base cast to represent Golgotha, the hill on which Jesus was crucified. In 1973, its worth was estimated at $750,000— think what its value must be today!

Derian’s creation wore out 70 drill bits made of diamonds, the only gem harder than rubies. The original gem weighed 4,060 carats. It’s bulk was reduced by 2,890 carats during the carving process. To make this exquisite work of art, the gem lost 1,170 carats. It gained in value, beauty, and symbolism what it lost in crude weight.

God is the true master artist, who drills us down to size so that our worth to Him can skyrocket. Left to ourselves, we are just crude lumps of unrefined potential. It requires the diamond-like points of truth, which unlike Derian’s tools, retain their cutting power forever. Like the psalmist, we should praise the Lord that He loves us enough to conform us into the glorious image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

Heavenly Father, help me to submit to every loss that I might gain eternal value. In Jesus’ name, amen.

January 21

By 365 Devotions

Love Found a Way

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground (Isaiah 53:2).

Scripture: Isaiah 52:13–53:9

Song: “Love Found a Way”

If you ever visit Death Valley in California, you’ll see that the locations are appropriately named. The map identifies the Funeral Mountains, Last Chance Range, Coffin Canyon, and Deadman Pass—not your typical vacation destinations! As park ranger Alan Van Valkenburg says, “This is a very tough place for life to survive. There’s extreme heat and dryness. But with that said, life manages to find a way.” He’s right. Life finds a way to beat the heat. Love overcomes even greater odds.

This old fallen world is the equivalent of Death Valley, only worse. Sin bakes and blisters the land. Moral and spiritual growth shrivels and even vanishes under hot temptations and trials. And yet Jesus Christ entered this deadly environment as a tender shoot. Because of His great love, He never wilted under pressure.

Satan always found a way to turn up the heat, and Jesus always found a way to fight back and flourish more. And though Satan’s hatred found a way to make Calvary’s cross bone-dry of mercy, Jesus’ love found a way to make it a flowing fountain in Death Valley! That’s where we fill up on His love. After all, “we love [Him] because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Dear Jesus, help me bring Your refreshing love to a barren world. In Your name, amen.

January 21–27. Richard M. Robinson lives in Thornton, Colorado, with his wife, Donna. He serves in pastoral ministry but also enjoys occasional graphic and website design.

January 20

By 365 Devotions

Our Vocations

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21, KJV).

Scripture: Philippians 1:12-21

Song: “Jesus, All for Jesus”

As a young lady, Joan prayed for God’s guidance. He asked her to be a missionary in Africa with no steady income. She obeyed. Later, He told her to pursue journalism, even though she disliked writing. She did. Then, He asked her to become a foster parent, even though she is single. She surrendered as she exclaimed, “He is always asking me to do things I would never do!”

In the course of his life as a follower of Christ, Paul was a tentmaker, a street preacher, a writer, and a missionary. He gave himself to following God. His sole motive was to see Christ proclaimed. His actions inspired others to preach Christ and to live for Christ.

We don’t always understand God’s leading. We may suffer physically or have financial hardship. We may lack experience. But as long as we are listening and following the Holy Spirit, God is honored. Whether we are a plumber, a preacher, or a student, our calling is the same: Follow God. We can bring Him glory, no matter what our vocation is. God did not intend us to be carbon copies of each other. Rather, He delights in our creativity and our diversity. What is your vocation? What is your daily routine? Let it display Christ in you. Whatever you do, do it all for Him.

Father, no matter what our vocation in life is, help us to please You. Lead us in our every day moments to bring You praise and to please Your Son, Christ Jesus, Our Lord. In His name, amen.

January 19

By 365 Devotions

Who Is in Your Life?

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3, KJV).

Scripture: Philippians 1:3-11

Song: “Blest Be the Tie that Binds”

She sat in the corner with her Bible. I didn’t want to disturb her, yet I sensed the Spirit nudging me to her. Taking a deep breath, I approached and asked, “Are you a Christian?” She beamed at me, “Yes, I am!” From that moment on, Melinda was my only Christian friend at my job. Her face radiated God’s light. She read her Bible on her break time, and she always had a worship song on her lips. Melinda’s faith encouraged me.

Paul’s letter to Philippi overflows with his love for them. Because they genuinely cared for him and showed it through their actions, Paul held them in a special place in his heart. He expressed how thankful he was for them and how he loved interceding to God on their behalf.

A joy in the Christian life is having brothers and sisters in every part of the globe. We are not created to live alone. God desires us to thrive in deep, fulfilling fellowship with like-minded people. Who has God put in front of you? Are you praying for them to be filled with the knowledge of God? Are you worshipping together? Volunteer in your community. Start a Bible study group. Host a dinner. Allow God’s Spirit to connect you. In the body of Christ, joy, grace, and peace bind us together.

Lord Jesus, lead us today to those who need encouragement and prayer. Make us willing vessels, usable for Your glory today. In Your name, I pray, amen.

January 18

By 365 Devotions

The Chain of Love

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).

Scripture: Philippians 1:27-30

Song: “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning”

Diane noticed the family living in the motel across the highway from her house. The father had lost his job and the family lost their home. Without hesitation, Diane provided the family new clothes, school supplies for the children, and other necessities to aid them. The youngest daughter of the family hugged Diane tightly, and said, “Thank you.” Diane’s eyes swelled with tears. She showed kindness and received love in return.

Paul encouraged the believers to live as worthy of the gospel. He knew that their lives were hard, yet he pushed them to persevere in good works. The good news of Christ’s death and resurrection affects every aspect of living. Paul knew that Christ had left His people on the earth to work on His behalf for everyone.

Christ’s work on the cross compels us to love. It is easy to judge those in need. It is tempting to walk the other direction. Generosity must win out over selfishness. Not a day is wasted if we choose love in action. To emulate Christ’s example, we are kind and gracious. We humble ourselves. As we surrender, God’s love is poured out on others and on ourselves. We bless, and we are blessed. We give, and are given to. It sparks a chain reaction of giving and receiving. And, above all, Jesus is magnified.

Father, Your Son gave everything when He died on the cross. Give us the grace to follow His example. Teach us to live with an overflowing heart of gratitude. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

January 17

By 365 Devotions

A Purpose On Earth

Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you (Philippians 1:24, KJV).

Scripture: Philippians 1:22-26

Song: “Have I Done My Best for Jesus”

Sue walked with a slight limp and a hunched back. Multiple surgeries helped her crooked spine and disjointed hips. Despite her broken-down body, she never ceased serving in her local church. She cleaned the church building, sang in the choir, and served breakfast each week to the church leaders. “While I’m waiting for the Lord’s return, I’ll stay busy,” she said. Her desire remained to serve others.

Paul wrote Philippians while in prison for his faith. Prison bars couldn’t shake his resolve. He desired to be with Christ but also to help the young Christians in Philippi. He knew that whether he lived or died, Christ would receive glory. He never lost his passion for Christ.

Christians brim with hope for beyond the grave. Still, it is easy to have our hearts set on Heaven and to neglect the present. God places each of us on earth for a reason. We raise our eyes in prayer, but we lower our gaze to notice around us. We are called to encourage the weak. Help the poor. Aid the suffering. Give of our time and resources. Who is our neighbor? Where can we serve? How can we give? Let us not falter or grow discouraged. With zealous spirits and purposeful hearts, let us give our best until Christ returns.

Father God, give us strength as we work for You. We worship You with our tongues and our actions. Open our eyes to those in need of help. In Your name, I pray, amen.

January 16

By 365 Devotions

Opposite of the World

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it. (1 Corinthians 4:12).

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:8-13

Song: “His Way with Thee”

From May to August of 1945, any German nationals living in the country of Czechoslovakia were expelled. To the Czech government, whether these Germans had supported Hitler’s regime or not, was inconsequential. Among the displaced were two sisters, Friedl and Gretl. They endured homelessness, hunger, and separation from family. However, they held fast to hope, despite the suffering. When asked how they refused bitterness, Gretl said, “One must simply forgive.”

Paul reprimanded the Corinthian church for its spiritual pride. Their worldly riches and righteous deeds were blinding them to God’s truth. Paul reminded them that the calling of the Christian is to suffer with joy and to display God’s love, no matter what circumstances surround us. We will suffer hardship, prejudice, and inequality. The world’s quick-tempered response is anger and resentment. Yet, as Christ followers, His strength transforms our trouble into a platform for praising Him. Love, blessing, and peace—these things are the trademarks of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him for help. Release the pain to Him. He creates joy where we only see sorrow. He enables forgiveness when we are powerless against our enemies. Let us be willing to showcase His power. His way is the better way.

Lord Jesus, on the cross, You forgave those who crucified You. Your pain brought redemption to the world. Thank You for Your example of love and kindness. Teach us to walk in Your footsteps with humility and grace. In Your name, amen.


In the World—January 20, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 20 here.


Heavy rains drenched mudslide-prone California hillsides last weekend at the same time as a fierce blizzard was sweeping through the Midwest. As the snowstorm moved toward the east coast, it left nearly two feet of snow in its wake along with many fatalities, thousands of collisions and multitudes of drivers stranded on snowy and icy roads. In many states, schools and businesses were forced to close. Many people tried to lay up food and supplies before they would be forced to hole up in their homes, awaiting normalcy to return. More stormy weather was predicted for this weekend.


Could any possible good be mixed in with the problems caused by such severe weather? Centuries earlier, the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians about figurative storms he was weathering in his life. He had developed the grace to see that, regardless of what harm might come to him, others could benefit from it. The trials he faced were part of the process that God was using to mature him spiritually.

  1. When the “blizzards” of life make your personal plans grind to a halt, how do you make something good out of the situation?
  2. Tell the class of a time when the Spirit of Christ worked in you, helping you to see his provision for yourself or someone else.
  3. Has someone for whom you have prayed told you of the blessing your prayers have been to them? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

January 20: Rejoice in All Circumstances (Philippians 1:12-21)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Best of the Worst” activity here. Make copies for every class member. When all have arrived, allow class members to complete this famous literary quote by unscrambling the underlined words. After a few minutes, reveal the answers. The unscrambled words are: WISDOM, FOOLISHNESS, BELIEF, INCREDULITY, LIGHT, DARKNESS, HOPE, DESPAIR, EVERYTHING, NOTHING, HEAVEN

Ask the group to explain what they believe the author is saying. When have they had similar contrasting thoughts in a life situation? Then lead into Bible study by saying, “There are times when we believe all is lost and times when we are incredibly hopeful. It is possible that those contrasting feelings happen at the same time! When writing to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul made a similar observation. Although there were reasons to believe that his situation was the worst of times, he had reasons to rejoice.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Familiarize your group with good news/ bad news jokes such as this one.

The doctor called and told his patient that he had good news and bad news. The good news was that the patient had 24 hours to live. The bad news was that he forgot to call yesterday!

Note that these jokes usually tell what appears to be good news, followed by explaining that it is really bad news. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Philippians does just the opposite. He tells the bad news and explains that it is, in truth, good news.

Divide the class into three groups, asking them to find at least one bad news/good news pair in one of these sections of our text:

Group one—Philippians 1:12-14

Group two—Philippians 1:15-18

Group three—Philippians 1:19-21

Give them about five minutes to work before sharing and discussing their work with the whole group. Some examples might be.

The bad news is that I am in prison. The good news is that I have gotten to share the gospel with the whole palace guard (Philippians 1:13).

The bad news is that some are preaching, hoping that they can make a name for themselves in the church while I am in prison. The good news is that they are preaching the gospel (Philippians 1:15-18).

The bad news is that my prison sentence may end with my execution. The good news is that no one can take eternal life from me (Philippians 1:21).

January 15

By 365 Devotions

No Room for Jealousy

I wish that all the LORD’S people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them! (Numbers 11:29).

Scripture: Numbers 11:24-30

Song: “A Glorious Church”

Sean’s hand trembled as he dialed the phone. Was he failing as a leader? What would his congregation think? With a shaky voice, he explained his church’s need to the minister of the church across town. “We can’t pay our rent. We are struggling, yet we desire to share the good news.”

The fellow minister replied, “Our congregation will support your church financially for the next several months. You are not alone.” Sean gratefully accepted the help.

Moses displayed a constant faith in God and fervor for holiness. However, he grew exhausted from the weight of leadership on his shoulders. God responded by giving 70 Israelite elders a portion of His Spirit. Moses was not offended; instead, he praised God for the help. He was happy that God was speaking rather than feeling jealous over who He was using.

Spreading the gospel is an enormous responsibility, so we ask for help so we do not burn out. Humility recognizes limitations. Competition doesn’t belong in God’s kingdom but encouragement and grace do. When we co-labor with fellow believers, we advance His kingdom. More voices proclaim His love. More hands to do His will. We are not soloists. We are a united choir for His glory. His Spirit is on all of us—let’s do more together.

Father God, thank You for Your people everywhere who are ready to do Your work together. Let us brightly burn for You in a dark, discouraged world. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

January 14

By 365 Devotions

Sent by God

God sent me before you to preserve you a prosperity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance (Genesis 45:7, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 45:1-8

Song: “Where He Leads Me”

“The will of God is always a bigger thing than we bargain for,” Jim wrote to his fiancée Elizabeth while he finished seminary. She read the letter with hope for their future. God had called them to a remote tribe who had not heard the gospel. A few years later, Jim was killed by the very tribe he was trying to reach. Rather than flee in fear, Elizabeth carried on the work. Her perseverance showed the Auca Indian tribe how much God loved them. Many became followers of Jesus.

Joseph said three times to his brothers, “God sent me.” He had endured wrongful accusations, slavery, and imprisonment. Yet he remained steadfast in the belief that God was working in it all for His will. It was through Joseph that God saved Israel.

Pain can breed bitterness. Injustice can evoke retaliation. It is difficult to understand God’s purpose while we are in the trenches of suffering. But God invites us to look to Him for direction. He commissions us to spread His light. We are sent for the good of people. Raise your head! Hold to your faith! God is working. Ask Him for eyes of faith. Then, steady on.

Lord God, thank You for Your master plan. Help us to walk with steady feet in unshakeable faith. In Jesus’ name, amen.

January 14–20. Kathleen Dunlap lives in Colorado with her husband, son, and Great Dane. She enjoys cooking new recipes, crocheting, and going on Sunday afternoon drives with her family.

January 13

By 365 Devotions

High Seas of Grace

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6, KJV).

Scripture: James 4:1-10

Song: “Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord”

John Wesley hated the sea and abhorred the idea of sailing on it. However, his first ministerial duties required him to travel from England to Georgia in America. His early letters describe the harrowing conditions crossing the ocean. While most people could empathize that fear would seize his heart, John Wesley had no positive appraisal of himself in those moments of trial. Rather, he said, “At night I was awakened by the tossing of the ship and roaring of the wind, and plainly showed I was unfit, for I was unwilling, to die.” People benefitted because John Wesley survived his trials at sea and allowed God to humble him and by grace grow him into the evangelist he became.

Selfish desires, greed, and arrogance yield bitter fruit. These behaviors result in destruction; they never produce a good result. Positive and beneficial goods come only as a result of God’s generous grace. To the person who is honest and humble before Him, God is willing to pour out His favor.

Humility requires honest self-reflection. This week, as you pray to God, come with a heart that is wide open. Allow God to reveal any places that are weak and in need of strengthening. Our Father loves humble people and desires to lift them up.

Father, I lay my life open and bare before You. Please show me ways in which I most need to change and please give me the grace to grow. In Christ I pray, amen.


January 12

By 365 Devotions

God’s Perfect Plans

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15).

Scripture: James 4:13-17

Song: “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”

In his book, The Longview, Roger Parrott quotes a university president who had led his school through many positive, high-impact changes as saying, “You know, the most significant things that have ever happened to this place were never planned.” That certainly characterizes the experience of the Christian school I work for in Thailand. No amount of long-term planning could have foreseen that the Highway Department would start tearing down several of our school buildings less than five years after we constructed them. Yet, God turned this unforeseen “problem” into good by providing our school with the resources to construct new, larger buildings that will allow us to enroll an additional 100 students.

James makes a singular, unequivocal point in this passage. Longterm planning is God’s business. He is the only one who knows what the future holds. Our job is to live faithfully before Him each day and to do our best to do His will.

Of course, we must make plans for the future. But that is never our primary goal. The number one job in our lives is to seek to do God’s will. Then, we will be prepared to take the right course of action when the often unpredictable future arrives.

Father, today we lay our plans before You and ask that You give us eyes to see the opportunities You are placing before us. May all we do today and tomorrow be in accordance with Your will for us. Because of Christ we pray, amen.

January 11

By 365 Devotions

Keep It Clean

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness (Romans 6:13).

Scripture: Romans 6:1-14

Song: “Lord, Make Us Instruments of Your Peace”

Surgeons thoroughly wash their hands before performing an operation. However, the doctor’s hands are not the only things that must be cleansed before surgery commences. All the tools—scalpels and scissors, rasps and rongeurs, lancets and ligature devices —must be sanitized beforehand. Can you imagine the horrified reaction a patient would have if the surgeon washed his hands but neglected to clean the implements?

Jesus invites us to rid our lives of sin. In Him, we are made new. The old life characterized by slavery to sin is removed. In its place, He gives us a life of freedom, a life alive to God, a life characterized by righteousness.

Because we are not yet perfect, it can be easy for us to try to justify our sin. That is not how those who have died in Christ and been raised with Him are meant to live. We are meant to be pure and righteous in every domain of life. Just like the surgeon must remove every impurity from the implements of his trade, so does God require that we present every part of our life to Him as an instrument of righteousness for service in His kingdom.

Father, please give us strength and courage to walk in righteousness in every area of our lives. Fill us with the light of Your ways and the fruit of Your Spirit. Through Christ, amen.


January 10

By 365 Devotions

Comfort Food

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:2).

Scripture: Psalm 42

Song: “As Thirsts the Hart for Water Brooks”

Living abroad causes moments when you so desperately crave food from your native country that you think you won’t survive another day without it. Thankfully, our friends and family in the U.S. understand that, and one of the special gifts they give us when we are home is food. Deer steak, strawberry shortcake, sandwiches loaded with deli meat and spicy mustard, crawfish étouffée, and beef just make life better. They are the flavors of my home.

The author of this psalm wants God so badly he can taste it. He says his soul thirsts for God. In the midst of suffering such torment that tears have been his food day after day and night after night, the psalmist cries out that his one, deep yearning is for God. Being with God will satisfy him, meeting with God will quench the thirst burning in his soul.

The world will offer many false substitutes for God as having the power to comfort us in our sorrow (money, sex, alcohol, and, yes, even food). When our soul is downcast, we should learn the lesson of this psalmist and turn our yearning toward God. Our Father is the only one who can meet our deepest needs and give us hope in times of trouble.

Father, we want more of You in our lives. We ask that You meet us in the deep places of our lives and give joy, strength and renewal to our souls. In Christ we ask, amen.


January 9

By 365 Devotions

Love after Loss

Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift (Matthew 5:24, KJV).

Scripture: Matthew 5:21-26

Song: “God! When Human Bonds Are Broken”

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of eating lunch with a scholar whom I greatly admired. Her work on stress, loss, and resilience was among the best in the country. During that lunch, she shared about her newest work which was focused on reconciliation. She had just spent considerable time working with women who had lost sons in the war between Bosnia and Herzegovina. My jaw fell open as I listened to her tell about bringing together mothers from each country to talk to each other and begin the process of healing and restoration.

Jesus likens the hurt we inflict on others, with words spoken in anger, to murder. Actions driven by anger, whether physical or verbal, hurt. They tear apart and destroy. Sinful behaviors rooted in anger have no place in the kingdom as Jesus presents it in the Sermon on the Mount. Rather, His vision is that forgiveness and reconciliation should characterize God’s kingdom.

Forgiveness and reconciliation can be experienced by everyone and offered by everyone. Those women in Bosnia and Herzegovina engaged in the process of healing even after experiencing the worst tragedies imaginable. Truly, in God’s kingdom, there is nothing that cannot be forgiven, healed, and made new in Christ.

Father, thank You that Your church is a place of reconciliation. Please help us be people who are quick to forgive and eager to love. In Christ our Savior, amen.


In the World—January 13, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 13 here.


The newly Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is at odds with the White House. A partial federal government shutdown is one result. The media make the stalemate appear to be all about funding the barrier the President wants to complete along America’s southern border. That’s surely a part of it, but as with most things political, the real issue is power. The ones being hurt by loss of income or government services and potential victims of an insecure border are the real pawns in the game.


James gets to the heart of the issues that divide America politically (and in most other areas of life as well). Acting purely out of self-interest is the culprit. We quarrel with one another, each seeking what we want. According to James, when our desires run counter to what others want, a brawl can be the result. Usually the fight is metaphorical as it is currently in the government, but sometimes it becomes physical. People get hurt either way.

  1. Do you agree with the premise that the basic struggle in Washington is over who has the power? Why or why not?
  2. In your experience, does the description James gives explain what struggles in the church are usually about? Explain. What about conflicts at home or on the job?
  3. What is your personal strategy as a Christian for seeing that pride does not become a factor in your relationships?

 —Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

January 13: Submit to God (James 4:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the Friendly Feud activity here. Perform the activity according to the printed directions.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “We recognize that there are things in our lives that need to change. Many make resolutions this time of year to make some of those changes. James spoke of things in our lives that need to change as well. Let’s look at those and see what can be done about them.”


To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Write these three headings on the board:

Stop Fighting! (James 4:1-3)

Make Friends! (James 4:4, 5)

Get Serious! (James 4:6-10)

Have volunteers read one passage at a time aloud. Then have class members brainstorm resolutions for a better life found in that section of the text. List them under the correct column as they are called out. Some sample resolutions follow:

Stop Fighting! (James 4:1-3)

Control desires

Pray to God for your needs

Ask for the right things

Make Friends! (James 4:4, 5)

Separate from the world

Get closer to God

Get Serious! (James 4:6-10)

Submit to God

Resist Satan


Find true humility

January 8

By 365 Devotions

Pinky Toe

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it (1 Corinthians 12:24).

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:18-26

Song: “Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord”

After my youngest son injured his pinky toe he quickly went from running and jumping to limping and hobbling. As I watched him struggle to walk, it occurred to me that I almost never think about my pinky toe. It is usually covered up. About the only time I notice it is when something goes wrong. Then, I am acutely aware of its presence.

When it comes to roles, jobs, and functions in God’s church, there are no pinky toes. Our Heavenly Father never forgets about any people and the associated gifts that they bring to the body of Christ. Paul encourages us to recognize and honor all people and their contributions to the church. In God’s kingdom, each person and each of their gifts are indispensable to the body’s proper functioning and are worthy of special honor and praise.

This week, try to notice the contributions people make to your congregation. Who cleaned the church, made coffee, set up AV equipment for worship, made the bulletin, showed up early to greet people, handled the finances, volunteered to pray, or watched babies in the nursery? As you notice people making these contributions, go tell them thank you as a way of honoring their service to the body.

Father, thank You for the variety of gifts in Your body. We are thankful for all the unique and wonderful ways You allow us to serve You and others in Your kingdom. In Christ, amen.


January 7

By 365 Devotions

The Dribbler

So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach (Matthew 23:3).

Scripture: Matthew 23:1-11

Song: “The Lord, The Judge, His Churches Warns”

There is a man at my boys’ school who inspires everyone around him toward greatness. He does this effectively because he walks what he talks—and at times, even dribbles as he walks the walk. In addition to being a principal and teacher, this man also loves coaching basketball. One day, he challenged the high school guys to start walking to school once a week while dribbling a basketball like he did when he was their age. However, he did not only call them to action with his words; he backed it up by joining them on the Thursday morning three-mile dribble-walk to school.

Amid a harsh rebuke about the Pharisees’ lifestyle of hypocrisy, Jesus presents a positive vision for His disciples. We are to be people whose lifestyle matches our words. Followers of Jesus do not simply tell other people how to live—they show them how to live.

The adage, “Actions speak louder than words,” contains much truth. As disciples of Jesus, we must consider how we can influence others positively through our “practices” as well as our “preaching.” Our world is in desperate need of people who can inspire greatness through their actions, not simply their rhetoric.

Father, may our actions today be the best sermon our neighbors hear this week. Through Christ, amen.

January 7–13. Troy D. Stuart is married and has three sons. He has worked at a university in the U.S. and a Christian school in Thailand.


January 6

By 365 Devotions

A Bible Worth Dying For

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance (2 Thessalonians 3:5). And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands (2 John 6).

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5; 2 John 4-11

Song: “How Firm a Foundation”

William Tyndale thought reading the Bible was worth dying for. He was a priest in the 16th century who was brilliant with languages. He was convinced and dedicated to the idea that the people of England should be able to read the Bible for themselves, so he began to translate it from Greek and Hebrew into English. This was against the law at the time so Tyndale traveled Europe while translating Scripture in order to avoid arrest . . . for nine years. In 1536 he was strangled and burned at the stake as a heretic.

Tyndale knew that reading God’s Word is important for God’s people to be equipped to walk in truth and in obedience to Christ’s commands. Of course, this means having the Scriptures in the language each person understands. Reading the Bible regularly gives us strength to obey, confidence in God’s love, and allows us to recognize false teaching. Even if it’s only a few verses, make time today to read and study God’s Word, starting with today’s passages.

Father God, thank You for the availability of Your Word and the freedom to read it. Help me to obey Your command to walk in love and to continue in the teaching of Christ. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.


January 5

By 365 Devotions

Christ’s Reputation

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 7).

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Song: “Take My Life and Let It Be”

When Benjamin Franklin was a young man and owned his own stationer’s shop, he was careful not only to be industrious, but to be seen as industrious. He avoided places of “idle diversion” so customers wouldn’t hear of him wasting his time and money. For example, when he bought paper supplies for his shop, he would load the supplies into a wheelbarrow and then push them down the street himself. He earned a reputation as a hard worker and his business grew because of it.

Our reputation is seen as a reflection of Christ’s character because we are Christ’s representatives here on earth. So consider how to build a reputation of industrious, honest, and effective work “with all your heart as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Try to view your life through a stranger’s eyes: what kind of a reputation are you giving Jesus Christ?

Father, help me not to be idle, but to do good and to show the world how wonderful You are. Help me to be a hard worker and to bring glory to Your name. In Christ I pray. Amen.


January 4

By 365 Devotions

God’s Love Is Firm Ground

May our Lord Jesus Christ . . . who loved us . . . encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word (2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17).

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Song: “Generous King”

In college, some friends and I were in a car accident on a curving mountain road. No one was seriously injured, though I had a nasty scrape on my neck from the seatbelt. We were stranded far from school and even farther from my home. One friend’s parents lived nearby and they took us in for the night. They didn’t just feed us and give us a place to sleep; they went out of their way to generously provide for all of our needs, both physical and emotional. They comforted us, encouraged us, and bought us toothbrushes. The next day, when we returned to school, I didn’t feel traumatized but strengthened and loved.

God has been generous with us. He has loved us, chosen us, saved us, and called us to share in Christ’s glory. He has given us eternal encouragement and good hope. All of this generosity gives us strength to stand firm and hold to Christ’s teachings just as the parents of my friend did when they helped me recover from the shock of a car accident. Take a moment to focus your thoughts on God’s generous provision and stand firm in His love today.

Lord, thank You for being so generous to me. Help me to stand firm on the foundation of Your love, grace, and eternal promises. In Jesus’ name, amen.

January 3

By 365 Devotions

Global Prayer Time

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 4).

Scripture: 3 John 2-8

Song: “Hold Us Together”

Housework can feel discouragingly mundane. Vacuuming, dusting, and cooking dinner don’t have an impact on history or affect change across the globe. But every month or so the mail brings me a magazine about Christian believers around the world. Some of the news stories bring sorrow for the hardships my brothers and sisters are facing. But all of them bring joy for the ways God is working to strengthen and expand His kingdom: the child from Mongolia who receives life-saving medical treatment; the couple in the United States whose marriage is saved; the church leader in Africa who praises God even as he stands in the rubble of his bombed-out church.

It brings me joy to hear that my brothers and sisters are faithful to the truth. They encourage me to be faithful as well and to praise God for what He is doing in their lives and in my own. I may be in my kitchen in Delaware, yet I feel connected to God’s children all over the world. I can’t be there with them, but I can send them financial support, I can rejoice with them in God’s faithfulness, and most importantly I can pray for them, knowing that prayer to our Holy God is never mundane.

Heavenly Father, bless Your children who are walking in the truth. May they prosper and be in good health even as their souls prosper. Thank You for expanding and strengthening Your kingdom around the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.


January 2

By 365 Devotions

The Truth Will Come Out

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth (1 John 2:20).

Scripture: 1 John 2:20-27

Song: “Thy Word”

I sat on my hands and held my breath while a couple I respected stood before our church and shared their good news: they had met a man, a prophet, who knew exactly when Christ was going to return. They were full of joy because Christ was coming in just a few months and they wanted the rest of us to be ready like they were. The couple had been Christians a lot longer than I had—I was only in middle school—but something about what they were saying didn’t sit right with me. Didn’t the Bible say that only God knew the day and time that Jesus Christ would return to earth? It didn’t take my young brain long to come to a simple conclusion: either the supposed prophet was wrong or the Bible was. I chose to believe the Bible. Within a few weeks, the couple realized their error.

The Bible is truth and when someone teaches something that disagrees with that truth, the Holy Spirit, our anointing, warns us. Reading the Bible regularly is the best way to know the truth and therefore to identify if a teaching is true or false. Reading what Jesus said about Himself in John 3 is a good place to start.

Lord, thank You that Your Word is true. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit living inside me. Help me to abide in You and to love and study Your Word. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.

January 6: Walk in Love (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5; 2 John 4-11)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Explain that when traveling in a foreign land, a guidebook comes in handy. Help your group create a traveler’s guidebook for Christ’s church as we travel through life. Divide your class into four groups. Give groups pen and paper and Bibles. They should use the cited Scripture passages to summarize their chapters in the traveler’s guide.

Chapter 1: Take the Freeway (2 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-3)

Chapter 2: Help Rescue Vehicles (2 Thessalonians 3:2; Ephesians 6:18-20)

Chapter 3: Stay in Your Lane (2 John 10; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

Chapter 4: Join the Caravan (2 John 4; 1 John 1:3-5, 7)

Give groups about 15 minutes to work, helping them understand their texts as needed. Our sample traveler’s guide follows:

Take the Freeway (2 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-3)—As we and others travel this earth that is not our home, we appreciate freeways. We pray that the pathways that allow us to share the gospel freely are never blocked by restrictive laws or persecution.

Help Rescue Vehicles (2 Thessalonians 3:2; Ephesians 6:18-20)—We want rescuers to come to the aid of those imperiled as quickly as possible. We may enjoy freedom to share the Word of God, but in many parts of the world this is not so. It is the responsibility of those of us enjoying such freedom to support organizations that seek to help persecuted believers.

Stay in Your Lane (2 John 10; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13)—Helping a reckless driver go forward unhindered can make us an unwitting accessory his recklessness. Likewise, there will be those who want believers to move aside so they can teach things extremely foreign to the Word of God. We must confront false teachers among us and not simply let them pass.

Join the Caravan (2 John 4; 1 John 1:3-5, 7)—When passing through hostile territory, it is advisable to journey with fellow-pilgrims for safety. Others are making the same journey to our shared heavenly home. When we travel together, we increase our knowledge and commitment to truth and avoid the dangers that falsehood brings.

To encourage personal application:

Download the Church SWOT Analysis  here. Make copies for every three to five students. Allow class members to work in groups to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats your congregation faces as you seek to spread the gospel, support fellow believers, and confront false teaching.

In the World—January 6, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 6 here.


Brendan Kelly is a 22-year-old Marine from Thousand Oaks, California. This week he flies to Afghanistan for his first tour of duty. He was at the concert in Las Vegas in 2017 when a gunman massacred 59 people. He was also at the bar in Thousand Oaks on November 7 when another gunman killed 12 people. Two of the dead were among Kelly’s closest friends. To memorialize them, he had their names tattooed on his back. He also wears a tattoo with the words spoken by a friend as they left Vegas: “In this game of life, no one makes it out alive.”


Standing on the threshold of the new year, it’s good to be reminded of the fact that none of us will “make it out alive.” That is today’s biblical reminder. Obedience to God should be first on our daily agenda. Love for others and faithfulness to scriptural teaching should be the defining characteristics of our lives. The importance of heeding this lesson is increased by the wickedness about us in the world, including society’s increasing disdain for truth.

  1. Is the tattoo on Brendan Kelly’s back simply fatalism, or is there a spiritual truth contained in it? Explain.
  2. Does prayer guarantee that we will be spared from the works of evil people? Why or why not?
  3. How does “walking in the truth” look in your daily life? How do you test ideas to see if they are deceptive?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.


January 1

By 365 Devotions

I Don’t Like Her, I Love Her

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness (1 John 2:9).

Scripture: 1 John 2:7-11

Song: “A New Commandment”

I waved goodbye to my sister in Christ and smiled, through clenched teeth. This was because I found the woman nearly impossible to work with. I found her to be cold and distant. To add to that, she had rejected most of my ideas for the project we were working on. I talked with the Lord about my frustration, concluding with, “I just don’t like her, Lord.”

The Holy Spirit responded, “I didn’t command you to like her, I commanded you to love her.” I stopped in my tracks to reflect on that more. I realized that love isn’t a warm fuzzy feeling I have to somehow produce myself; love is a command that sets out the way I choose to act toward a brother or sister in Christ.

I grinned as I felt my shoulders relax. I took a deep breath. “I can do that, Lord!” From that moment on, I made a point to love that sister and soon I began to like her as well. I discovered that she is warm, wise, and faithful.

If someone in your life is difficult to like, remember that God chose that person just as He chose you. Resolve to live in the light by showing that person God’s love with God’s help.

Father, thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You for loving each one of us as we are and for making us all different. Help me act in love toward my fellow believers. In Jesus’ name, amen.


December 31

By 365 Devotions

Love With Skin on It

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down ones’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:12-14).

Scripture: John 15:12-17

Song: “Do Something”

My friend Pam had a rough childhood. When a friend started taking her to church, Pam believed that God loved her, but she didn’t feel loved until she became friends with a woman she now calls her spiritual mom. Her spiritual mom hugged and held her with physical arms. She listened to her with physical ears and talked with her on the phone for hours with a physical voice.

To feel loved, Pam needed more than a theological concept or a verse from the Bible: she needed love “with skin on it,” as she says. Experiencing love in a tangible way strengthened Pam’s faith in God’s love—a love that is just as real, but at times more difficult for us to feel.

Find a way to show love “with skin on it” to someone today; it can be as simple as an encouraging word, a listening ear, or a helpful pair of hands.

Lord, thank You for choosing me and calling me to be Your friend. Help me to love Your people in a way they can feel and point them to Your love. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

December 31–January 6. Katie Robles lives in Delaware with her husband and four young sons. She blogs, gardens, and works in a school cafeteria.


December 30

By 365 Devotions

All for Jesus

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46

Song: “May the Mind of Christ My Savior”

In the 1700s a world-wide empire and the Industrial Revolution brought prosperity to Britain, but many suffered. Poor men, women, and children worked 16 hours a day, six days a week, and lived in disease-ridden slums. The slave trade transported millions of Africans to a life of cruel servitude.

But also in the 1700s, largely through the preaching of John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, revival swept across the British Isles. The Holy Spirit changed the hearts of people from all classes and denominations, giving them the gift of salvation and eternal life through Christ.

These new Christians, moved by love for Jesus and their neighbors, worked to end poverty and slavery. Robert Raikes opened Sunday schools for working children. Charles Howard and Hannah Fry worked for better prison conditions. William Wilberforce and Hannah More helped end slavery in the British Empire.

Biographies of these men and women show it was their faith in Christ that led them to sacrificially give of themselves, as Christ did, to minister to the poor and needy. Christians throughout history have often been the catalyst for charitable work in their cities, countries, and around the world.

Heavenly Father, thank You that we don’t have to be wealthy or highly placed to share our love for Christ in our communities. Help us watch for ways we can serve You in the world. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


December 29

By 365 Devotions

Cast out Fear

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. . . . “I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground” (Matthew 25:14, 19, 25).

Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30

Song: “Dismiss Me Not Thy Service, Lord”

In my first year teaching art I injured my back. Doctors found nothing seriously wrong and recommended a short rest, but the pain made me so fearful, I hardly moved for two weeks. I thought I’d never teach again, but my doctor sent me to physical therapy. Therapists helped me begin exercising and walking. I was still afraid, but they had me start slowly and gradually increase my time. My back began to improve.

When I returned to school, my back hadn’t completely healed, but I knew when I followed the therapists’ directions, I gained strength. So I kept walking and exercising, and gradually I was able to do more of the job I loved—teaching art and helping my students see God’s creativity in the world and in each other.

God knows our unique abilities and gives us responsibilities in His kingdom accordingly. Sometimes the responsibilities stretch us, though, and out of fear, we want to bury our talents. But we must trust that God will strengthen us as we carry on faithfully.

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us abilities to serve Your kingdom in our communities. Help us see the opportunities You also give and serve without fear. In Your name I pray, amen.


December 28

By 365 Devotions

Eclipse Preparations

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them (Matthew 25:1-3).

Scripture: Matthew 25:1-13

Song: “How Great Thou Art”

The solar eclipse was just a week away. Eclipse fever gripped everyone who was close to the “path of totality.” Experts warned we needed special glasses for safety, but we put off looking for the glasses, until it was too late. On the Internet we saw more warnings and alternative ways to safely view the eclipse. Suggestions included homemade pinhole cameras, or viewing the eclipse shadow through small openings, such as between leaves. Eclipse day arrived, and we tried the alternatives, but we only saw the eclipse indirectly. We didn’t experience the real thing until some prepared neighbors shared their glasses with us.

This parable focuses on the essential preparation for Jesus’ return: faith in His death on the cross for our sins. Though we don’t know when Jesus will come, the glory of His return will eclipse every other celestial event ever. There will be no small “path of totality” either. Everyone on earth will see His return, but only those with faith in Christ will join with Him and participate fully. At that time no one will be able to borrow faith as we borrowed glasses for the eclipse.

Heavenly Father, help us be prepared with true faith in our hearts, so we may participate with joy in the glorious return of Jesus. In His name I pray, amen.


December 27

By 365 Devotions

Symbols of Hope

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14).

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Song: “In Christ Alone”

Graffiti sprawls across the walls lining the train tracks into Rome, and very little gives encouragement or hope. Outside Rome is a different story. Underground catacombs go down for several levels into the soft volcanic tuff. Early Christians buried their dead in niches lining the walls of these narrow subterranean tunnels. Gradually people switched to cemeteries around churches, and the catacombs were abandoned and forgotten until the 1500s. Though some thought Christians hid there during persecutions, we now know the catacombs weren’t a place to hide, but a place to express hope in the resurrection. On the walls of the tunnels, grieving believers carved anchors, representing hope. They painted frescoes of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

The Thessalonians were grieving, as we all do, when loved ones die. Paul gives comfort with the gospel message that in our grief we have hope, because Jesus died and rose again. He assures us that when Christ returns, those who have fallen asleep in Him will return with Him, and those still alive will join the jubilant reunion of Christians from all ages.

Heavenly Father, thank You that even in grief, we have hope because of Jesus’ resurrection and the promise of His return. In His name I pray, amen.


December 26

By 365 Devotions

Healing Horsepower

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me (Mark 9:37).

Scripture: Mark 9:33-37

Song: “All God’s Children”

A hot wind blows the scent of hay across the arena. In the center a little girl in a pink helmet perches on a big white horse. She sits tall and calls, “Walk on!” Her parents exchange wide grins, but this isn’t a normal riding lesson. Their daughter has special needs, and it is an equine therapy session, which helps children and adults with disabilities. It can’t happen, though, without compassionate volunteers, committed to serving these children and adults.

In this riding lesson, with volunteers leading the horse and supporting her on each side, the little girl can work without fear on tasks the instructor gives her to improve her speech, balance, or strength. The lesson ends with high-fives all around and a hug for Moses, the horse.

Jesus always gave love and attention to children, who loved and trusted Him. In this passage Jesus calls a child to stand next to Him as He teaches the disciples. They had been arguing about who was greatest, not how to serve others. It could have been scary to stand among all those adults, but with Jesus’ arms around him, the child leans back without fear. In this child’s humble trust and dependence on Jesus, the disciples saw that true greatness means serving others and leading them to Christ.

Heavenly Father, help us humbly serve You by welcoming and helping children and others in need, so they may rest secure in the arms of Christ. In Your name I pray, amen.


December 30: Love God and Serve Others (Matthew 25:31-46)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Before class, collect several fundraising letters and/or emails that you have received. Discuss which of these appeals you would be most likely to answer with a donation. Discuss motives people have for charitable giving.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “People may give out of a sense of obligation, for recognition, or because of a perceived benefit to themselves or loved ones. But Jesus spoke of a very different reason to give.”

To encourage personal application:

Download the “To the Lord” activity here. End class by distributing a copy of the activity to each class member. Encourage them to choose a verse or two as a reminder that we are encouraged to see our interaction with others as interactions with Jesus himself. Briefly discuss how that perspective can shape our attitude toward giving.

In the World—December 30, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 30 here.


U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has ruled that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional after Congress repealed the provision that individuals must buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Critics of the ruling say it may negatively affect insurance rates and the stock market. A common concern voiced is that altering or abolishing the ACA puts those with preexisting conditions (often falsely equated with chronic conditions) in peril. The ruling will surely be appealed to a higher court. America is still debating whether we are doing enough to provide health care for all who need it.


Jesus said God’s judgment will be based on whether we have fed and clothed the needy, cared for the sick, visited the imprisoned, and done other acts of mercy. If we are honest, many of us have trouble with Jesus’ words. They call attention to our lack of enthusiasm for showing concern for the less fortunate in society.

  1. Do Jesus’ words indicate we shall be judged on our works? Explain how what he says can be reconciled with what the apostle Paul says about justification by faith (Romans 5:1,2).
  2. Do you think the actions of the average Christian indicate that we take Jesus seriously? Why or why not? Assisting which type of need Jesus speaks of challenges you the most? Why?
  3. What excuses do we sometimes hear for not performing the acts of mercy Jesus speaks of? How might Jesus respond to our excuses? How does God’s judgment mesh with his love?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 25

By 365 Devotions

Beloved Little Ones

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward (Matthew 10:42).

Scripture: Matthew 10:40-42

Song: “I Love to Tell the Story”

When my mother entered a nursing home, they asked for a photo of her as a young woman to remind staff and visitors that these older folks were once active adults. One day I wandered around thinking about the people in the photos, many of whom served in WW II. The man in an army uniform may have landed on the beaches of Normandy, while one in navy blue may have endured kamikaze attacks in the Pacific. Women also served in the military or built tanks and grew Victory Gardens. We owe these folks honor and care for all they did to preserve our freedoms.

In today’s passage, Jesus called His disciples “little ones,” as a term of endearment and to emphasize that His true disciples are humble servants. In our churches are many older saints who are humble servants of the Lord. The man with the cane may have smuggled Bibles into Eastern Europe, while the white-haired lady may have translated the Bible into a people’s heart language. Others faithfully taught generations of children to love Jesus. These older saints are God’s beloved “little ones,” and we owe them our love and honor for preserving the faith for us.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the witness of older saints in our churches. Help us take time to know and serve them as beloved members of Your family. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.


December 24

By 365 Devotions

Grasshopper Plague

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? . . . I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts (Habakkuk 1:2; 2:1).

Scripture: Habakkuk 1:2-4; 2:1-4

Song: “Before the Throne of God Above”

Between 1873 and 1877 grasshopper plagues invaded many Midwestern states. In her book On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder said swarms blocked the sun and looked like glittering snowflakes. On the ground, their munching sounded like crackling fire as they reduced crops to stubble. They laid eggs, and newly-hatched grasshoppers joined arriving swarms to eat more crops. By spring of 1877 some families neared starvation, and the Minnesota Governor, John Pillsbury, declared a day of prayer. When several warm days followed, allowing more grasshoppers to hatch, skeptics laughed. Faithful people kept praying, though, and day four brought a freeze that killed many grasshoppers. That summer the grasshopper plagues ended.

Habakkuk cried out to God in a hard time and even complained that God wasn’t listening. The prophet didn’t give up, though; he continued to pray and watch for God’s answer. Far from being angry at the prophet’s complaints, God understood and answered. The Lord wants us to come to Him with our deepest fears.

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to die for our sins, so that, resting in His righteousness, we may bring every concern to You and watch in faith for Your answers. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

December 24–30. Kathy O’Neill is a teacher, who writes and speaks about art and Christian history. She lives in Colorado with her husband and enjoys serving the Lord in various ministries, and spends time traveling, reading, and walking her corgi.


December 23

By 365 Devotions

The Light of Christ

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Luke 2:30-32,KJV).

Scripture: Luke 1:26-31; 2:22, 25-35

Song: “This Little Light of Mine”

Reporting for Army active duty in Baltimore, Maryland, my wife and I found an apartment in a row house. These two-story identical brick units were all joined together and went for blocks. The second night we lived there I went out to a store for milk and bread. When I returned after dark all row houses looked exactly the same. I couldn’t see the house numbers in the dark, and I had forgotten our address anyway. But, by driving around into the alley I discovered that each house had unique features and ours was unique in that it had a fenced back yard. Home at last!

All the nations outside of Israel, the Gentiles, lived in the same dismal spiritual darkness despite being culturally unique from each other in many ways. The arrival of Jesus, the light of the world, brought distinctive spiritual light. Through the Savior, nations began to glow from the inside out as their citizens received the good news of salvation.

At Christmas we often see larger than life-sized figures with glowing lights inside. While these may seem disconnected from His Story, their uniqueness can serve as reminders of how Christ lightens all who come to Him in faith regardless of their past.

Holy God, lighten your people with the glow of eternity that penetrates hearts and glorifies the Savior, Jesus. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.


December 22

By 365 Devotions

Sore Afraid

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid (Luke 2:8, 9, KJV).

Scripture: Luke 2:8-14

Song: “Angels We Have Heard On High”

We were camped in the forest to complete our work more efficiently. Far away from the lights of the city, on a moonless night, it was completely dark. Even light from our small campfire seemed to be swallowed up in darkness. Suddenly a meteorite passed over in a tremendous burst of light and we were sore afraid.

Imagine the shepherds abiding in the field at night when suddenly an angel bursts upon them, quickly surrounded by the “glory of the Lord,” and followed up by a “multitude of heavenly hosts praising God.” These guys must have been basket cases! Even so, for them and for us the message was of “good tidings of great joy” and of a “Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” What other message could quiet terrified hearts? What other message could change fear into curiosity and boldness to go seek out the Savior? That message is still needed today as much as ever and we desperately need expressions of peace and good will toward others. Someone you meet today may need good will, good tidings, and an introduction to the Savior. You can skip the bright lights.

Savior, like a shepherd, lead me to those who need to hear Your message of salvation, joy, and peace. In Your name I ask, amen.


December 21

By 365 Devotions

What a Finish!

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, . . . And she was a widow . . . which departed not from the temple. . . . And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38,KJV).

Scripture: Luke 2:36-38

Song: “Find Us Faithful”

Each year, my desire increases to finish well. Not just getting to the end somehow by overcoming aches and pains and difficulties, but living a quality, purposeful life that has meaning to others. Too often I’ve seen people rise to positions of fame or fortune only to end life bitterly. Without a purpose that transcends the world’s idea of importance, there does not seem to be much optimism for a good finish.

Meet Anna, who appears to be well over 90 years of age at the time we meet her. As a widow for 84 years she had not had an easy life, but she had accepted God’s plan and purpose for her. She served the Lord faithfully despite her meager situation and even at her advanced age still gave thanks to God and spoke encouraging words to others about the redemption that Jesus would provide.

In Anna we see a thankful and encouraging person, not bitter at her circumstances but rejoicing in them. She remained faithful and confident to see the result of her years of prayer manifested in the birth of the Savior of the world. What a finish!

Lord, please, shape me to be a blessing and encouragement to others and lead me to finish well the life You have planned for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.


December 20

By 365 Devotions

His People

Behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:20, 21, KJV).

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

Song: “Jesus Saves”

As we boarded the plane, just before Christmas, it was snowing heavily. I looked out my window and could barely see the airport lights. I wondered if our flight would be delayed. Shortly, we taxied to the de-icing pad and heard the spray hitting the plane. Well, it certainly looked like it would be a white Christmas this year.

Several hours later we woke up on a small South Pacific island and deplaned into brilliant, warm sunshine. Suddenly, it didn’t seem like Christmas even with all the decorations in the airport lobby. Then it hit me, the people on this island don’t need snow to celebrate Christmas; their focus is on the birth of Jesus.

Among these island people there were those known as His people because they had been saved from their sins by faith in Jesus.

His people are to be found around the world, in snow or sunshine, with their faith placed solidly in the only one who can save them—Jesus. Are you one of His people?

Heavenly Father, I call out to You. Hear my prayer and make me one of Your people. Forgive my sins, see my belief and faith in Your beloved Son Jesus, and save me unto eternal life. In Christ, amen.


December 19

By 365 Devotions


For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37, KJV).

Scripture: Luke 1:32-38

Song: “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”

A graduate student came to my office disappointed and downcast. After trying for weeks to find a job he was empty handed. Jobs in his desired field and location were very hard to find. He was not a believer, but I suggested that we pray and surprisingly he readily consented. First, I asked him questions about what he thought an ideal job would look like. He described the work he desired, location, travel, salary, and so on. I then prayed for exactly what he described—all the time thinking, if You answer this even I will be amazed. Two weeks later he burst into my office waving a job offer that was exactly what we prayed for! “This is impossible,” he exclaimed!

Mary’s response to the angel was, “How shall this be . . . ?” She knew enough about ordinary life to realize that this situation was more than unique, it was impossible. But, the angel described how the Holy Spirit would accomplish the impossible and the Son of God would be born to her.

When God says in His Word that nothing is impossible for Him, it is clear He means it. Our God has done what people thought would be impossible; He continues to do what people think is impossible. We should never under-estimate what God can do!

All wise and loving God, help us look at our impossibilities from Your perspective not from ours. In the name of our Savior who has already done the impossible for our redemption, amen.


In the World—December 23, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 23 here.


The American press seems as fascinated with births to the British royal family as the British are, even though Americans have no royalty as such. Prince Harry and Princess Meghan recently announced the expected birth of their first child in Spring 2019.The tabloid press and the Internet are heating up just as they did when Prince William and Princess Kate were awaiting each of their three children.


In contrast to the above, when Jesus was born, most people seem to have been unaware of and unconcerned with the birth of Jesus. However, one man was different from the rest. Simeon waited with great anticipation for the coming of the Messiah. In fact, God promised him he would live until the divine pregnancy was completed. When Simeon finally saw the anticipated Child, his life’s great hope was fulfilled, and he could die in peace.

  1. What makes people so interested in royal births, even in America?
  2. Why do you think God singled out Simeon for the promise the Holy Spirit made to him? How was Simeon’s prophecy to Mary and Joseph fulfilled? Do God’s blessings always come with “strings attached”? Explain.
  3. What hope do you have which, if fulfilled, would satisfy your deepest longings? Explain. Do you see any parallels between ancient unconcern for Jesus’ coming and the way Christmas is celebrated today? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 23: Love God for the Gift of Jesus (Luke 1:26-31; 2:22, 25-35)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Welcoming a New Baby” activity here. Before class, make a copy for each class member. Give them about five minutes to work on the worksheet individually or cooperatively.

Then have them share their answers. The correct responses are: 1=VITAMINS, 2=OBSTETRICIAN, 3=ULTRASOUND, 4=CHILDBIRTH, 5=NURSERY, 6=PEDIATRICIAN, 7=SHOWER, 8=NAME, 9=CAR SEAT, 10=HOSPITAL, 11=DIAPERS, 12=COLLEGE.

Move into Bible study by saying, “Even before a child is born, parents begin to plan for the future. Mary and Joseph did the same thing! Let’s look at some of those preparations.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Divide the class into three groups, giving each group pen and paper and one of the following sections of the text. Ask them to read the texts and to try to summarize them with a couplet (two rhyming lines) Give groups about 15 minutes to complete their work. (For a shortened class period, write our sample couplets on separate pieces of poster board. Use those couplets to help explain each text after reading it aloud.)

The PROMISE of a son (Luke 1:26-31)

The PRESENTATION of a son (Luke 2:22, 23, 27b)

The PREDICTIONS about a son (Luke 2:25-27a, 28-35)

Have groups present their couplets. They may be similar to these.

PROMISEGabriel’s promise provoked wonder and fears/News that Mary would bear a child seemed strange to her ears.

PRESENTATIONMary and Joseph did what God willed/So the law of Moses would be fulfilled.

PREDICTIONSJesus had come to rescue the lost/But this act would happen at a great cost.

December 18

By 365 Devotions

The Promise of a Child’s Life

And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be? And the hand of the Lord was with him (Luke 1:66, KJV).

Scripture: Luke 1:57-66

Song: “Children of the Heavenly Father”

Each time a young couple brings their child before the church for a dedication to the Lord, my mind moves from the present toward the future. What is God’s plan for this child? Will the child be an artist, or a poet, or perhaps a scientist? How will the child come to faith in Christ and how will this child respond to share the good news of Jesus with others during his or her life? How will the child experience God’s love and then grow to reflect the love of God to others? These questions are a part of the mystery yet to unfold in the promise of each child.

As people rejoiced with Elizabeth and pondered the angel’s visitation as well as the curious departure from tradition in naming the child, they had every reason to speculate about his future. Surely God moves uniquely in the life of every child. Like John, a child’s life may lead to momentous events or to a series of small opportunities to glorify God. But, every child brings us a promise from the hand of a loving God. May we encourage and nurture all children into relationship with Christ.

Loving Father, may we encourage every father and mother we meet that their child is special, and can fulfill a part of God’s perfect plan and will contribute to the future of the faith in their generation. In Jesus’ name, amen.


December 17

By 365 Devotions

God Hears and Answers Prayer

But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard (Luke 1:13, KJV).

Scripture: Luke 1:11-16

Song: “Hear Our Prayer, O Lord”

Several years ago I began documenting prayers and noting when they are answered. At the end of each year I’ve been amazed how many prayers received an answer. Have all my prayers been answered? No, not yet. And some answers have come years after. Sometimes I have forgotten when I first made my request. So, from time to time I have to dig back in my prayer journal to find the actual date.

Zechariah had prayed for a child for a very long time. Perhaps he had forgotten when he first began and the prayer had become routine. But God heard and answered Zechariah’s prayer, on His timing and in the place and the way that He desired. And it was the perfect time and place in history.

God hears us. And He responds—in His way and in His time for our good. We can trust His goodness for us. Answered prayer is a wonderful display of God’s love for His children.

Gracious Father, we are grateful You answer prayer. Thank You for open ears so we can bring every care before You with confidence, expectation, and assurance that You always provide the best answer. In Christ’s name, amen.

December 17–23. Denny Lynch has been an Army officer, forest ranger and professor of Forest Sciences. Through all these vocations and his current retirement he has walked with the Lord and his wonderful, encouraging wife, Joyce.


December 16

By 365 Devotions

Overwriting the Past

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

Scripture: Psalm 103:1-18, 21, 22

Song: “Jesus Paid It All”

I accidentally replaced an important document on my computer with an earlier version of the same file. It was horrifying. I lost hours of work, and there was nothing I could do.

Overwriting a file is worse than deleting it. Deletion doesn’t physically remove the data—at least not immediately—so with the right tools, deleted files can often be recovered. But overwriting a file alters the disk. There’s nothing left to recover because the original file no longer exists.

The psalmist has something similar in mind when he says that God removes our transgressions as far from us as the east is from the west. Just as the two horizons can never meet, our past sins can never be used against us once we’ve turned to Jesus for forgiveness. That’s because God doesn’t merely “delete” our sins; He “overwrites” our past unrighteousness with the perfect righteousness of His Son. It’s a permanent change, and there’s no going back.

The day I overwrote that file, I spent more time fretting over what I’d lost than I did writing new material. Sometimes we squander opportunities for spiritual growth, too, by dwelling on our sense of guilt over past sins. God wants us to know that our past is permanently forgiven so that we can spend our time living—really living—in a manner that honors our Savior.

Thank You, Father, for permanently separating me from my past. In Jesus’ name, amen.


December 15

By 365 Devotions

The Coming Storm

The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked” (Numbers 14:20).

Scripture: Numbers 14:13-20

Song: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

As Hurricane Harvey made its way toward the Texas Gulf Coast, I was moved by news footage in which National Guard soldiers and out-of-town volunteers cooperated to build sand levees around major coastal communities. These people didn’t have homes in the path of destruction, yet they worked tirelessly to help those who did—even as most residents boarded up their houses and fled inland.

It seems to me that Moses’ intercession for the Israelites serves the same purpose as one of those sand levees. It holds the floodwaters back long enough for souls in peril to escape to higher ground. After all, if it weren’t for God’s mercy—and Moses’ bold prayer— the Israelites would never have survived the torrent of God’s wrath.

We know that God’s patience with sinners won’t last forever, though. His judgment is more terrifying than any hurricane, and its path of destruction is more certain than any meteorological prediction. Yet when we stand in the gap like Moses, boldly praying for the salvation of others who don’t yet know Jesus, we can help shore up the sand levees of God’s mercy long enough for the gospel to do its saving work.

There will always be those determined to ride out the storm, but we’re called to intercede before God on their behalf. And in the meantime, we must never tire of issuing the Spirit’s evacuation call—before the levees fail.

Most merciful God, give me the courage to share Your love with someone who doesn’t yet know Your salvation. In Jesus’ name, amen.

December 14

By 365 Devotions

A Good Match

The LORD . . . maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6, 7).

Scripture: Exodus 34:1-7

Song: “Blessed Assurance”

I work at a factory for glazed brick. Our quality control checks for illuminate metameric failure. This occurs when two colors appear to match under one light source, but not under another.

We encounter this vexing problem with popular shades of beige and dark gray. Combining different production lots of these colors is risky because two units that appear compatible in open sunlight may not match under indoor fluorescent lighting (and vice-versa). So if we’re not careful, we can easily ship incompatible units to the same job without realizing it.

Something similar happens when our concept of God is based too heavily on just one aspect of His character. In our preoccupation with God’s love and kindness, for instance, we sometimes minimize the way His perfect justice demands punishment for sin. Yet if we concentrate only on God’s punitive wrath, we’ll underestimate His grace and long-suffering patience with sinners. The Bible says punishment and forgiveness are both compatible with God’s goodness.

At the factory, we mitigate the risk of metameric failure by regularly comparing new color lots against a control sample, under multiple light sources. Likewise, we can guard against forming incompatible ideas of God by regularly comparing our thoughts against what the Bible actually says. In the perfect light of God’s Word, faulty assumptions are quickly exposed for what they really are.

Gracious and just God, help me to appreciate Your goodness in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name, amen.

December 13

By 365 Devotions

Flourishing in the Desert

For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing (Nehemiah 9:21).

Scripture: Nehemiah 9:16-21

Song: “God Will Take Care of You”

The world’s largest natural flower garden flourishes in an unlikely place: a desert. The Dubai Miracle Garden boasts some 100 million blooms, planted across more than 18 acres. In 2016, it even claimed the Guinness World Record for the largest flower arrangement.

This desert oasis survives under such forbidding conditions because of an innovative underground drip irrigation system that recycles waste water and channels it directly to the plants’ roots. This mitigates the effects of evaporation and greatly reduces the amount of water needed to sustain the garden.

Marvelous as it may be, however, this ecological “miracle” pales in comparison to the miracle that sustained the Israelites during their 40-year sojourn in the desert wilderness. The Bible says God provided everything they needed—food and water, guidance and protection. Their clothes never wore out, and their feet never became swollen. They lacked nothing.

If God is willing to supernaturally preserve His people even after their stiff-necked disobedience, how much more will He preserve us in the “deserts” of our daily challenges? As Christians, we know we’re not alone in our struggles. God has promised to care for us just as prodigiously as He cares for the birds of the air and the grass of the field—if we’re willing to trust Him.

Properly directed, our faith functions like the unseen irrigation channels nourishing the unlikely blossoms in Dubai. It allows us to flourish beautifully, even under the most forbidding of circumstances.

Father, You are so good to me. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, amen.


December 12

By 365 Devotions

Rehearsing to Perform

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name (Psalm 86:11).

Scripture: Psalm 86:8-13

Song: “Change My Heart, Oh God”

As a college music student, I was expected to memorize at least five solo pieces every semester. At the end of the term, a jury of my professors would grade my performance of these selections. If I failed, the panel might prevent me from continuing my major.

Memorizing that much music requires intense focus and disciplined practice. There’s no way to “cram” it in at the end of the semester. (I tried!) Like most music majors, I had a busy schedule, so if I didn’t make practice a priority, I would never get around to it. There were just too many other projects and activities demanding my attention.

I find the same to be true when it comes to cultivating a deeper relationship with God. It requires single-minded focus and diligent commitment, because there are countless other things—important things like family and work—constantly vying for my limited time and energy. If I don’t prioritize my time in God’s Word, I’ll never get around to it either. Unless I clear my schedule for prayer and godly fellowship, such things slip into a place of secondary importance in my life.

Memorizing my music grows me as a musician, just like my devotional habits grow me as a disciple of Christ. In both cases, I’m rehearsing to perform. The more I can sense God’s presence in my everyday circumstances, the better prepared I am to face my next trial with grace.

Father, I don’t want to become spiritually complacent. Give me the desire to know You more. In Christ, amen.


In the World—December 16, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 16 here.


Just over a week ago, many of us watched the memorial service for George H. W. Bush, the forty-first president of the United States. As is customary on such occasions, those who spoke praised President Bush. They spoke of his dedication to principle, his humility, his service to his country, and his faith in God. We tend to discount such remembrances somewhat, because we know that they often stretch the truth a bit—even while we secretly hope that our friends will do the same for us at our own funerals!


How different are the praises which David, the psalmist, offers for the living God! God is completely worthy of the superlatives David uses to describe the goodness and greatness of God. Compared to the temporary nature of our lives, God is not bound by time. Thus, God is the eternal One who blesses us physically and spiritually, both now and for eternity.

  1. What are the pros and cons of praising people at their funerals? Are we wrong to hope people will remember us kindlier than we deserve? Why or why not?
  2. In what ways have you experienced God’s goodness in the terms David uses? In what ways have you found that some of the items David mentions are not as true in your life as you wish they were? How do you reconcile the difference between your own experiences and what David says?
  3. Restate in your own words what David says about God’s goodness so that an unbeliever might understand.

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 16: Love and Worship God (Psalm 103:1-17a, 21, 22)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “What They Are REALLY Saying” activity here. Before class, make a copy for each class member. Place them on chairs as class members arrive. Class members should review the backhanded compliments there.

When everyone has arrived, and have had a few minutes to review the worksheet, ask for volunteers to choose one or two of the backhanded compliments there and try to explain their disguised meaning. Lead into Bible study by saying, “We can easily recognize empty compliments and cleverly disguised insults. On the other hand, we know when we are given well-deserved recognition. What does that mean for us when we attempt to praise God? The psalmist gives God heartfelt credit to God for who he is and what he does.”

To encourage personal application:

On the board write:

“When I think about how God ____________________, I can’t help but ____________________.”

Help your group brainstorm ways to fill in the blanks to close this session.

December 11

By 365 Devotions

Cold Calls

When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me (Psalm 86:7).

Scripture: Psalm 86:1-7

Song: “I Need Thee Every Hour”

At work, I frequently receive unsolicited sales calls from logistics companies hoping to pick up extra shipments from our manufacturing plant. Such cold calls are a frustrating waste of time because the answer will always be “no.” Our customers make all transportation decisions, not us.

Callers don’t know this, of course, until I explain it. Most politely thank me for my time and remove us from their prospect list. A few, however, persist in calling even after I’ve explained several times why we can’t help them. When that happens, I just stop answering the phone. My time at work is too valuable to spend it talking to someone who won’t honor what I have to say.

I’m grateful that God is not like me. He continues to hear my prayers even when I’m stubbornly oblivious to His response. In the face of personal calamity, I can be a lot like an annoying sales rep who continually asks for the same thing because my situation hasn’t improved. But sometimes, when I quiet my heart, I discover that God has already answered my prayer. I just wasn’t prepared for the possibility that He might say “no,” “not yet,” or “not your way but mine.”

I want my prayers to be more than “cold calls” for God’s favor in my life. The Bible assures me that God will answer when I call, but it’s up to me to hear, receive, and act on His response.

Dear God, thank You for listening to me. Now, help me listen to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.


December 10

By 365 Devotions

Rock Climbing

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).

Scripture: Romans 8:31-39

Song: “Blessed Assurance”

I’ve always marveled at the way rock climbers deftly scale 10-story vertical surfaces with little more than their bare hands. It’s a dangerous sport, even for seasoned professionals. One wrong move can send a climber plummeting to the ground.

That’s why climbers typically work in pairs. One person ascends while the other, called the belayer, supports the climber from below. The belayer wears a special harness equipped with a braking device. This allows the belayer to “pay out” rope to the climber while keeping tension on the line from below. Should the climber fall, the belayer gently arrests the fall, then safely lowers the climber to an appropriate place from which to resume the ascent.

When I think of God being “for” me, I picture Jesus as my Heavenly belayer, lovingly paying out the grace I need to progress toward the summit of His righteousness. It’s a treacherous climb— one that frequently requires me to reach beyond my comfort zones to move higher. I know that I’m bound to fall along the way, but I also know that my watchful belayer keeps me safe, gently arresting my falls and guiding me back to a secure purchase on the Rock of my salvation.

The Bible says nothing can separate me from God’s love. No failure is so great that it can sever my connection to Jesus. And that gives me the strength to get up and keep climbing.

Jesus, thank You for catching me when I fall. In Your powerful name, amen.

December 10–16. Johnathan Kanais a musician and cultural critic living in central Texas.

December 9

By 365 Devotions

No Sweat

And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat (Joshua 24:13,KJV).

Scripture: Joshua 24:1-3, 13-15, 21-24

Song: “Grace Greater Than Our Sin”

During my short lunch break at work, I went to the food court to place my usual order. I took my place behind a man who wore a Christian T-shirt, his small son beside him. When my turn came, the woman behind the register smiled and handed me my food. “He paid for it,” she said.

“What?” I was stunned.
 “I told him you usually ordered pizza, so he paid for your food.” While the man was getting his soda from the drink machine, I thanked him profusely.
 “Be blessed!” he told me as he and his son strolled out, onto the sales floor.
Isn’t this just like the Lord? This was God’s grace in action, providing for me something I didn’t labor for. He gave the Israelites the land He promised them, all ready for their occupation, complete with cities and vineyards and olive groves.

Though we don’t deserve God’s grace and forgiveness, He provided for it through Christ’s death on the cross. And since He showed us grace, let’s ask the Lord for opportunities to show His grace toward others. How? Through forgiveness, service, and love. With His help this is something we can all do.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your love and Your grace. Help me to show Your grace toward others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


December 8

By 365 Devotions

True to God

It shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God (Joshua 24:27,KJV).

Scripture: Joshua 24:25-28

Song: “Jesus Lover of My Soul”

Shortly after his conversion at Oxford, George Whitefield harbored fears of being seen in the company of other Christians, especially the Wesley brothers, John and Charles.

He wrote in his journal: “Mr. Charles Wesley . . . walked with me in order to confirm me, from the church even to the college. I confess, to my shame, I would gladly have excused him; and the next day, going to his room, one of our Fellows passing by, I was ashamed to be seen to knock at his door. But, blessed be God! This fear of man gradually wore off.”

He goes on to recount the persecution he and other Christians suffered from their peers: contempt, mockery, forsaken by former friends, dirt thrown at him, and so on. But through all of this, he did not deny his Savior. Though these trials were small, he learned from them and other trials, growing spiritually till he became the man God could use to proclaim His Word.

When we stay true to God, and especially during difficult times, He gives us the same grace He gave Whitefield. Let’s follow this great evangelist’s example. Don’t rebel against the Lord. Don’t deny Him. Let Him teach us through our trials. He’s the lover of our souls. Our trials are meant to help us grow into that person He can use. His grace will be sufficient. Draw strength from it.

Dear Lord, teach me Your ways so that I may walk wisely. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


December 7

By 365 Devotions

God Our Deliverer

For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed (Joshua 24:17,KJV).

Scripture: Joshua 24:16-21

Song: “Mighty to Save”

Hitler’s tanks, planes, and soldiers swarmed over Europe and the free world stared at a dark future. When the retreating Allies were encircled at a French coastal town, Dunkirk, their annihilation seemed a certainty. During a deadly nine days, as the Nazis closed in, Allied naval vessels and civilian boats rescued some 340,000 men off its beaches. Winston Churchill called it the “Miracle of Deliverance.”

And a miracle it was. As director of the Bible College of Wales, Rees Howells and his students devoted themselves to prayer during the Allies’ evacuation and continued praying till the war ended. Through their intercession, and that of others who prayed, God intervened and ultimately delivered Europe from Hitler’s brutal rule.

Israel had suffered under Pharaoh’s brutality. Slaves to do his bidding, they cried out to God who brought their deliverance.

A brutal tyrant also once ruled those of us who walk with Christ. This tyrant’s name? Sin. But God sent us a rescuer and deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who offered Himself up as a sacrifice for us. By turning from our sins and asking Him into our hearts, we can walk in freedom from this tyrant’s chains. What a wonderful God we serve!

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear my sins on the cross. Thank You for Your love. In Christ, amen.


December 6

By 365 Devotions

The Provider

Ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season (Joshua 24:7, KJV).

Scripture: Joshua 24:4-12

Song: “Jehovah Jireh, My Provider”

Snow in Alabama? Yes! Not every winter, though. Maybe once every few years. And when the icy white stuff drifts down and blankets the Alabama landscape, cities, towns, businesses, and numerous roads close. Since most of us deep-south Southerners aren’t used to snow, our rare blizzards are an epic event.

Several years ago, the weather news alerted me that such a blizzard was heading my way. Since I enjoy bird watching and live near a wooded area, I filled my bird feeder to provide for God’s feathered creatures’ needs when the storm hit.

When I awoke the next morning, I looked out my window. Snow lay several inches deep; cardinals perched in my trees. My backyard looked like a Christmas card. Soon all kinds of birds flocked to my feeder. They’d probably never seen snow before; it was a freezing wilderness. Thanks to my feeding them, though, they survived.

The Israelites wandered a scorching wilderness but didn’t go hungry, either. They lived in it “a long season,” Joshua said. God took care of them. He gave them water out of the rock to drink, manna and quail to eat. Forever faithful, He provided for their needs.

Our faithful God is our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. Trust Him to take care of you. When you have a need, ask Him to provide, even during difficult times.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness. I put every situation and my every need into Your hands. I know You will take care of me, Lord, because You love me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

December 5

By 365 Devotions

Our Faithful God

And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you (Joshua 23:5, KJV).

Scripture: Joshua 23:1-6, 14-16

Song: “Trust and Obey”

Brow furrowed, I looked at the path from the hole to my golf ball. I gave the ball a tap. It rolled . . . clunk. Right in. I was happy. But then my father putted and I grimaced. Lost another hole.

While walking to the next tee, my father said, “When you beat me, Jack, I’ll buy you a new set of clubs.”

I knew he’d keep his promise. On another occasion, he’d promised my sister he’d give her a $100 if she made a hole-in-one. To his amazement and her joy she did it, and he followed through with the deal.

My father’s one condition for giving me a new set of clubs was that I improve so I could beat him. Since I never beat him, I never got the clubs.

God promised His children He’d give them their inheritance on one condition—obedience. He warned them against going back and serving other gods. It was up to them to obey.

God kept His word and gave Israel its promised land. When the Israelites failed Him and then repented, He always forgave and restored them. Even so with us. When we love God, we’ll want to obey Him even though we’ll also fail Him at times. God forgives us when we admit our failures, though. Let us always seek to please Him.

Father God, help me to walk obediently. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

In the World—December 9, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 9 here.


Two weeks ago, the long-awaited caravan of Central American immigrants reached the San Diego/Tijuana (Mexico) border crossing. For weeks, they had been moving northward toward an imagined promised land. They found the border checkpoint closed in both directions. For several days now, 6,000 refugees have waited for a resolution of their situation. They have been living in makeshift tent villages, sometimes in cold and driving rain. Hoping to evade the law, some of the would-be immigrants broke past Mexican federal police officers and ran toward the wall. U.S. immigration officers fired tear gas, driving them back. Some Americans see the issue in simple terms: legal vs. illegal immigration. Others also see it simply, but from a different perspective: compassion for refugees vs. lack of humanitarian concern.


When the Israelites approached their Promised Land, Joshua unequivocally made plain to them God’s requirement that they obey his law. At the same time, he reminded them that they were immigrants coming into the land God was giving them and that prosperity there was contingent upon their obedience.

  1. Do you see the issue at the border in terms of legal vs. illegal or as compassion vs. unconcern? Why? On what biblical principles do you base your view?
  2. Joshua predicated blessing in the Promised Land based on Israel’s obedience to God’s law. Was this a matter of faith or works? Explain. How does the issue of obedience apply to our relationship with God through Christ?
  3. Does God’s blessing indicate his approval of how we are living? Why or why not? Does teaching our children the way of the Lord guarantee their later faithfulness? Explain.

   —Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 9: Love and Serve God (Joshua 24:1-3, 13-15, 21-24)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Divide the class into three groups, giving each group pen and paper and one of these assignments:

Recall the Past—Joshua 24:1-3

Reject Idolatry—Joshua 24:13-15

Resolve to Be Loyal—Joshua 24:21-24

Give groups about fifteen minutes to read their portion of the lesson text and use the underlined word from their summary statement to create acrostic poems. When group work is done, have groups share their work to summarize the main points of the text. Here are some sample acrostics:


Every blessing that


Abundantly from the

Lord to

Leaders of the past.


Refuse to

Enrage our

Jealous God by

Engaging in worship of

Counterfeit gods.

Trust the Holy One of Israel.



Evil and

Strive to

Obey the




To encourage personal application:

Download the “Idol Investigation” worksheet here. Make copies for all class members.

Distribute this activity to close class. Encourage class members to use it throughout the week to help them identify and put away idols in their lives.

December 4

By 365 Devotions

Loving God, Loving Our Neighbor

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant . . . nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s (Exodus 20:17,KJV).

Scripture: Exodus 20:12-17

Song: “Alive in You”

The count rushed outside to greet strangers at his castle with all their belongings.

“Sir,” their leader said, “We are emigrants from Moravia fleeing persecution. Are you Count Zinzendorf, sir?”

“I don’t much care for that worldly title.” The count chuckled. “My name is Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, but please call me Lutz, like my friends do.”

“We heard you are a man of God. We have no place to live. May we camp here?”

“Of course!” Lutz grinned as he surveyed his visitors. “My estate is yours. My land is your new home.”

Although my account is fictional, the Moravian Christians did obtain this pious count’s permission to settle on his estate. Eventually they spread the gospel and played a key role in John Wesley’s spiritual life.

In 1722, Lutz demonstrated his consecration to God by showing compassion to these persecuted believers. Similarly, the Moravians demonstrated their consecration to Him by not coveting the count’s wealth.

As God teaches us in our Scripture reading, His last six commandments, we show our love for Him by how we treat others. Let our hands and feet be totally consecrated to the one who loves us, so that we might demonstrate His love.

Dear Lord, please give me an opportunity today to serve others out of my love for You. In Your name I pray, amen.

December 3

By 365 Devotions

Has the World Seen It Yet?

For I, the LORD thy God, am a jealous God (Exodus 20:5, KJV).

Scripture: Exodus 20:1-11

Song: “I Surrender All”

The doctor prescribed sea air for his wife Emma’s asthma, so Dwight took her on a voyage to England. Though concerned for her welfare, excitement welled inside him. In England lived his heroes, the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon and the great German Christian George Müller, whom God had used to found orphanages. He hoped to hear Spurgeon preach and meet Müller.

In the spring of 1867, they reached their destination. Though Dwight did hear Spurgeon preach and did meet George Müller, his pivotal encounter with God happened during a prayer meeting with Henry Varley, an English minister. Varley’s words hit him like a thunderbolt: “The world has yet to see what God can do with one man wholly committed to Him.”

Dwight latched onto this challenge and determined to be that man. God would raise up Dwight Lyman Moody to become one of America’s greatest evangelists.

Our loving God is a jealous God. He’s not jealous of us, but for us. He doesn’t want to share our hearts with any other god because He alone has our best interests at heart. When we love Him totally, like Moody did, He’ll use us in marvelous ways. Oh, we may not become famous like Moody, but we will be a blessing to others. And in return, the Lord will bless us.

Dear God, I surrender totally to You. Use me, Lord, in any way You see fit, according to Your pleasure and will. In Christ, amen.

December 3–9. Jack Cunningham lives in Alabama. He enjoys reading, history, and traveling.

December 2

By 365 Devotions

Timeless Truths

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Song: “I Love to Tell the Story”

Ever heard of Patek Philippe watches? Made in Geneva, these hand-made, pricey adornments can set you back as much as a million dollars or more and “low end” models are easily in the fivefigure range. The company promotes itself by saying, “Ask the owner of a Patek Philippe to talk to you about their watch, and you will hear a story of passion, love, and tenderness. It is a unique, personal object steeped in precious memories . . . and offering it as a gift is the most eloquent expression of love or affection.”

If owners of watches feel that way about metal on their wrists, how much more should we be passionate about God’s Word on our hearts! The Israelites were told to pass down the commands, decrees and laws of God from generation to generation. Today, it’s our privilege to tell our children and grandchildren about the most unique gift ever—eternal life. It’s personal and precious. The gift of God’s Son is truly the most eloquent expression of love and affection. Truly priceless!

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love that transcends time and space. Help me to share the good news of Your loving kindness throughout today and beyond. In my Savior’s name, amen.

December 1

By 365 Devotions

Hidden Blessings

In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand” (Deuteronomy 6:20, 21).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:20-25

Song: “10,000 Reasons”

The story is told of a young man who desired a car for his graduation present. On graduation day, his father expressed his pride and then handed the son a wrapped box. The son opened the gift to discover a Bible. He yelled angrily, “With all your money, this is what you give me? Keep your Bible!” He left, vowing never to return. Many years later, he heard his father was very ill but did not arrive before his father passed. The now middle-aged man went through his father’s things and discovered that graduation day Bible. As he flipped through the pages, a key with a dealer’s tag fell from the back cover—the dealer who had the sports car he had wanted so badly.

If that young man had taken the time to open God’s Word, he would’ve reaped a great reward. Instead, he rejected the father’s gift and lost the desire of his heart as well. We might look at the “stipulations, decrees, and laws” of God as restricting when in fact, obeying them leads to deliverance and great blessing.

Thank You, Father, for Your laws that show Your love for me! In Your Son’s name, amen.

December 1, 2. Toni Campbell is passionate to show the love of Christ to hurting people and works toward this as the benevolence ministry manager at her church.

November 30

By 365 Devotions

Time Served

Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you (Deuteronomy 6:18).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:16-19

Song: “Redeemed”

In 2000, Cornealious “Mike” Anderson III was sentenced to 13 years for robbing a fast food store at gunpoint. A clerical error occurred and he never received orders to report and serve his time. Instead of continuing a life of crime he started a business, became a youth football coach, volunteered at church, started a family, and became well-respected in his community.

Thirteen years later, the state realized their error and jailed Anderson. News of this spread and an online petition garnered 35,000 signatures for his release. In a court hearing, the judge agreed Anderson was a changed man and granted him credit for the years he should have been in prison.

Mike Anderson broke the law but instead of continuing down a wrong path, he turned his life around and began living in compliance with the law. As a result, when he went before the judge, things went well for him. In Deuteronomy 6:16, 17, the people are warned “Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah. Be sure to keep the commands of the LORD your God.” Although they had been disobedient at Massah, quarreling and questioning God’s presence, they were given a chance at redemption and the opportunity to do what was good and right in the Lord’s sight so that it would go well with them. When we seek after God and do His will, even if we’ve stumbled previously, He is faithful to forgive us.

Lord, thank You that Your mercies are new every morning! In Your great name I pray, amen.

November 29

By 365 Devotions

Identity Theft

When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, . . . be careful that you do not forget the LORD (Deuteronomy 6:10, 12).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:10-15

Song: “Remember Me”

In the early 1960s, Walter Keane became an art sensation. Copies of his “big-eyed children” paintings graced suburban homes, and Hollywood elite owned originals. Walter raked in millions. Problem was, he wasn’t the artist. For years, he took credit for his wife’s work forcing her to paint in a locked room, far removed from anyone who might discover the secret. When Margaret pushed back, rather than give her credit, he insisted she teach him to paint so he could continue the lie. He refused to acknowledge his deception even after they divorced, until a judge had them paint right in the courtroom. The finished pictures left no doubt Margaret was the true artist.

If Walter had given credit where it was due, he still would have benefitted financially by virtue of his relationship with his wife. Instead, he desired unearned praise and chose to deny the existence of the very hand by which the paintings were conceived. In the end, he lost everything. Deuteronomy 6 reminds us God is our provider. Every good gift comes from His hand. We can enjoy all the good things He’s given us, but we’re not to take credit for their existence or forget to thank Him.

Father, thanks that You withhold no good gifts from Your children. We are so grateful You give us far more than we deserve. In Christ, amen.

November 28

By 365 Devotions

Guilty and Proud of It

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10).

Scripture: James 2:8-13

Song: “At Calvary”

After delivering his sermon, the minister of a small church stood at the doorway of the sanctuary greeting congregants. One gentleman was especially excited to share his experience of the previous week as he grasped the minister’s hand. With a broad smile he declared, “I’ve kept every single commandment this week!” Without missing a beat, the minister replied, “Why, that must fill you with great pride.” “It does, it does!” was the unwitting response.

While being prideful isn’t specifically named in the Ten Commandments, there are plenty of other Scriptures that caution us to be humble rather than proud, such as Proverbs 3:34 that James quotes as “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). Being proud about supposedly keeping the whole law would be the one small part that still causes us to be guilty of breaking it in its entirety.

It is good to remember that none of us are able to keep the whole law. We are all dependent on the “law of liberty” . . . God’s wonderful and amazing mercy and grace.

Heavenly Father, on my own I can never be holy as You are holy. Thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son to save me from the condemnation of the law. I am thankful for my freedom through Christ my Savior. In His name, amen.

In the World—December 2, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 2 here.


The latest example of the perennial tension between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal government hit the news last week.  President Trump publicly criticized what he called “Obama judges” in the federal judicial system. In response, Chief Justice John Roberts openly rebuked the president, asserting the necessity of an independent judiciary. This kind of infighting is nothing new. Not many alive can remember President Franklin Roosevelt’s frustrations with the Supreme Court for its rulings against the New Deal legislation he was promoting. FDR attempted to pack the Court with six additional justices more in line with his thinking.


Just as the Constitution is discussed and interpreted by our system of courts, the people of Israel were commanded to discuss among themselves the meaning of God’s law in their lives. However, this discussion of the law was not to be done in a way that negated what God had said. God was Lawmaker, Judge, and King. His people were to obey his law regardless of their opinion about it or interpretation of it.

  1. What values do you see in the separation of governmental powers? In what ways are our Constitution and God’s law alike? How do they differ?
  2. How are the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:1-9 applicable to the practice of our faith? Which of these commands should be taken literally, and which are meant to be taken figuratively?
  3. How does teaching God’s commandments to our children tie in with loving God with our whole being?

   —Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 2: Love and Obey God (Deuteronomy 6:1-9)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

The following statements are different definitions of the same word. Read them slowly, pausing after each one. Allow class members to respond when they think they can identify the word being defined:

  • in the game of solitaire, a card of given denomination on which other cards are to be added according to denomination or suit.
  • an undergarment designed to alter the wearer’s body shape, to achieve a more fashionable figure.
  • an institution created to aid research, education, the arts, etc.
  • the natural or prepared ground or base on which some structure rests.
  • a cosmetic, as a cream or liquid, used as a base for facial makeup.
  • the basis or groundwork of anything.
  • the moral underpinnings of a society.
  • the lowest division of a building lying partly or wholly below the surface of the ground.

These are all definitions of the word, foundation. When this is guessed, read the remaining clues. Then lead into a study of the Scripture text with these words, “In all cases, laying a foundation is ‘square one,’ the starting point needed when building something of stability. Today we will look at principles recognized as foundational for the people of God.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “Moses Responds” worksheet  here. Make a copy for each group of three to five class members. Give groups about twenty minutes to read the quotes and cited portions of the lesson text and to formulate a response.

November 27

By 365 Devotions

The Hands of Truth

Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. Do not go about spreading slander among your people. (Leviticus 19:13, 16).

Scripture: Leviticus 19:13-18

Song: “Honesty”

In 2004, Victor Yushchenko ran for the presidency of Ukraine. He was undeterred despite an attempt to poison him, and by election day he was in the lead. However, the state-run television station, which supported the ruling party, falsely reported his decisive defeat. It never dawned on anyone that the woman in the corner of the screen providing translation for the deaf community would preset the truth. She signed, “I’m addressing all the deaf citizens of Ukraine. They are lying and I’m ashamed to translate those lies. Yushchenko is our president.”

The deaf community spread the word about the fraudulent report and eventually, journalists took up the cause of truth. Within weeks, the “Orange Revolution” occurred as a million people wearing orange made their way to the capital city of Kiev demanding a new election. The new election was held and Victor Yushchenko became president.

Defrauding our neighbor means more than just taking monetary advantage of them. We can defraud by the deception of being less than honest. While the translator for the deaf took a tremendous risk in communicating the truth, she did not want the shame that would have accompanied her silence or compliance with a lie. The laws set forth in Leviticus are guidelines for righteous living that are still valid and relevant for us today. Honesty, fairness, truth, and love are values that transcend time, place, and people groups.

Father, help us to be salt and light by being honest, trustworthy neighbors, citizens and friends. In Jesus’ name, amen.

November 26

By 365 Devotions

Dying to Be Loved

And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39).

Scripture: Matthew 22:37-40

Song: “Give Me Your Eyes”

In AD 251, Christian communities in the Greco-Roman world did the unthinkable. They selflessly loved their neighbors in the midst of a horrific plague. While sickness ravaged those living in the cities and the dying were pushed into the streets so they wouldn’t infect other family members, Christians opened their homes to the ostracized and nursed many back to health. Historians have suggested this act of love and kindness may have reduced the mortality rate by as much as two-thirds, even though it cost a number of Christian caregivers their lives. Although we may never encounter the same type of overwhelming malady, plagues of a different kind exist today and require us to make a decision not unlike the Christians of old. Homelessness, hunger, addiction, divorce, bullying, and hurts of all kinds leave our neighbors, families, and loved ones spiritually dead and physically dying. The call to us is the same today as it was in Jesus’ day–“love your neighbor as yourself.” In order to heed that command, we need to open the doors of our hearts and love the hurting completely and without hesitation. When we administer the healing balm of the love of Christ and selflessly consider the needs of others before our own, God works through us to reduce the eternal mortality rate.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unconditional love. Help us to love others like You do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

November 26–30.Toni Campbell is passionate to show the love of Christ to hurting people and works toward this as the benevolence ministry manager at her church.

November 25

By 365 Devotions

Bless You

The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been (Genesis 30:30).

Scripture: Genesis 30:22-32, 43

Song: “Make Me a Blessing”

For over 10 years my friend, Rena, has traveled to Mexico, leading teams of youth and adults on mission trips. Together they lay foundations, build frames, and finish walls for people who have no home. Rena shared pictures of their team working together and, in the evening, spending time with the locals. The caption reads: “Memories being made. Lives being changed. God being glorified.” Over the years, many people have been blessed—the mission teammates and the Mexican people—by Rena’s willingness to initiate, plan and implement the mission work.

Laban was reluctant to let Jacob leave because he knew Jacob’s presence had blessed him. Although Laban gave credit for his success to divination, Jacob knew the blessings and increase of wealth came from God. God used Jacob as a conduit of His goodness.

Everywhere we go, near and far, we carry with us the Christian witness—the Spirit of God who indwells us. He wants us to show the world His kindness and mercy, and bless them with good things. Whether at home or abroad, we can use our hands, feet, eyes, ears, and mouth to show the love of God and leave the people we meet better than they were before.

Lord Jesus, thank You for using us to make the world a better place and bring glory to Your name. Help us give freely of our time and our resources. In Your name, amen.

November 24

By 365 Devotions

Shining Words

And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son” (Genesis 35:17).

Scripture: Genesis 30:22-24; 35:16-20

Song: “Shine”

As a young woman, Catherine worked as a midwife in Turkey. Now, in her senior years, she is a palliative-care nurse living in Sweden. Catherine has witnessed both the beginning of life and the end—sensitive seasons that require sensitive speech. When I met Catherine, I immediately saw her gentle spirit and the special gifting she has to comfort her patients.

When Rachel was giving birth to Benjamin, her midwife knew she was in distress. She may even have known Rachel’s life was in danger. But instead of focusing on the dire circumstances, the midwife spoke reassuring words to the dying mother. She drew Rachel’s attention away from her pain and helped her focus on the hope and joy that her prayer from long ago was being answered: Her son was about to be born.

We may not all be trained as caregivers, but we can learn how to say the right thing at the right time by asking God to teach us proper speech. Verses from the book of Proverbs remind us of the beauty of opportune words. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, KJV). “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word” (Proverbs 15:23).

Dear God, help us learn how to speak uplifting and encouraging words to those who are in the middle of emotional situations. In Jesus’ name, amen.

November 23

By 365 Devotions

Everything Belongs to God

Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine” (Genesis 31:43).

Scripture: Genesis 31:43-50

Song: “Take My Life”

I don’t usually counsel teenagers, but I was concerned about Janie, who was making poor choices in her relationship with her boyfriend. One afternoon as I was getting ready to meet with her, the Lord impressed upon me to bring her a gift. At the time, I lived on a farm, and running to the store wasn’t an option. I looked around the house, and my eyes landed on a porcelain bowl I’d received as a gift when I was 11. It was one of a few things I’d kept through my 30-plus moves.

For an hour, a “conversation” raged between God and me— mostly a one-sided rant from me. “God, a 16-year-old wouldn’t like a porcelain bowl.” “Jesus, how can I give up the one thing that has stayed with me?” “Surely, Lord, I can find something else.” Finally, after tears and time, I accepted the fact that God was asking me to give away my most precious possession.

As I remember that day, I’m thankful that I obeyed when I could have held back. The experience taught me to hold everything I own with an open hand because God owns everything anyway. He wanted me to give away my most precious possession so that He could show Janie she was His most precious possession.

Father, everything I have is Yours. Help me remember to be a good steward of the things You have given me and not see myself as an owner. In Jesus’ name, amen.

November 22

By 365 Devotions

God’s Unchanging Love

He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me” (Genesis 31:5).

Scripture: Genesis 31:1-9

Song: “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”

In the latter part of the 1800s, a 40-year-old man sat alone in his home in Scotland. George Matheson sat in darkness because he had lost his eyesight years before. It was the night before his sister’s wedding, and he grieved afresh the memory of what he’d once had—a loving engagement to a lovely fiancé. But George’s plans for a joyful, life-long commitment were shattered when the young woman spurned him, unwilling to be married to a blind man.

Overcome with grief, George picked up a pen and wrote the hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.” Because the verses flowed effortlessly, George believed the song was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Matheson’s words have encouraged many to cling to God for hope. “O joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee. I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not in vain, that morn shall tearless be.”

If you have been rejected, or the love someone had for you faded over time, remember that God is with you. If you sit alone in darkness, remember how God used George Matheson. Open your heart and allow Him to use your loss and pain to comfort others in some way.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that we can be confident in your unchanging and unwavering love. Help me share that hope with others who are hurting. In Your name I pray, amen.

November 21

By 365 Devotions

Pray for Missionaries

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion (Psalm 20:1, 2).

Scripture: Psalm 20

Song: “Lion and the Lamb”

Early one morning my husband appeared in the doorway of my home office. Choking back tears, he shared the devastating news. Co-workers living overseas had realized their greatest nightmare when insurgents stormed their guest house. One woman was shot dead, another kidnapped, and the guard hired to watch the front entrance was beheaded. Our hearts were broken.

What could we do to support the friends and families who had lost their loved ones? How could we help the young woman who had been abducted and was likely being tortured by those who captured her? We could pray—repeat the promises of love, care, and protection found in God’s Word. He sees what happens at the very ends of the earth. He is the most powerful over all. He alone can rescue and comfort.

All over the world men and women live and work in countries hostile to the good news of Christ. Although they can’t speak freely and share the gospel with words, they can demonstrate the love of God to those around them by developing close relationships and performing good deeds in the name of Jesus. As you and I go about our daily business, we have an awesome responsibility to support our at-risk brothers and sisters in prayer.

Powerful Savior, please protect Your overseas workers and rescue those who are being held captive. For Your name’s sake, amen.

In the World—November 25, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 25 here.


For decades, people streamed into the aptly (or so it seemed) named town of Paradise in California’s Sierra foothills. The beauty of the hills beckoned people to build their homes far into the heavily wooded countryside. Two weeks ago, strong, dry winds made the drought-stricken land a tinderbox. When the inevitable fire started, it could not be stopped. Scores of people died as their heavenly surroundings in Paradise rapidly turned into purgatory! Being caught in the most devastating fire in California history was not what Paradise residents had bargained for.


Several of the people in today’s lesson got more than they bargained for. Formerly childless Rachel was blessed with a son. Laban, a schemer who took advantage of his son-in-law, prospered greatly as Jacob cared for his flocks. And Jacob, whom we’re tempted to think of as having been a schemer all his life, prospered even more than Laban. All of them got blessings they had not expected.

  1. Why do you think this California town was named Paradise? Do you think that people were more likely to thank God for the blessings of the town of Paradise at its best or question God for the destruction of it in the past weeks? What does that say about human nature?
  2. How do you determine whether a blessing or disaster is of divine origin or due to human activity? Does it matter? Explain.
  3. How much is coincidence a factor in life? Or are all the things that happen to us the result of God’s actions? What experiences in your life indicate that God was actively working for your benefit?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.


November 25: God’s Blessing (Genesis 30:22-32,43)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “Counting Jacob’s Blessings” worksheet here. Make a copy for each group of three to five class members. Divide the class into groups of three to five, giving each a copy of the worksheet. Give groups 15 minutes to read the main text and supporting texts to help them complete it according to the printed directions.

After groups have completed their work, have them share their findings. Here are the expected answers:


To encourage personal application:

Create a simple, but meaningful, decoration for the classroom for the coming Christmas season. Before class, prepare enough 1”x6” slips of red and green construction paper so each class member can have several. Close the class time by allowing the group to think about ways they have been blessed. Make the slips of paper and a felt-tipped marker available for each class member. Ask class members to write a single blessing on single slips of paper. Have them take their slips to the front of the room and tape the ends of each slip together, attaching each loop to another as a chain. Close in individual prayers of thanks for these blessings and more!

November 20

By 365 Devotions

Look Up for Love

Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD(Genesis 29:34, 35).

Scripture: Genesis 29:31-35

Song: “Christ Is Enough”

My friend hadn’t said a kind word about her husband in years. To me, he seemed like a decent guy. He faithfully managed his business, and his collection of books on topics ranging from WWII to birdwatching made him an interesting conversationalist. One day I gently confronted my friend about her criticism, and she broke down. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, he pulled away. I cook his favorite meals and take care of our home, but he hasn’t hugged me in years.”

My friend’s sharp words poured out from her unloved heart. She tried to win her husband’s affection, but nothing worked. In the same way, Leah tried to win Jacob’s love by giving him sons, but after the birth of their fourth, she gave up trying to please Jacob and chose to praise God instead.

Everyone enters marriage with dreams of “happily ever after,” but if we face heartache and disappointment, we can look up and praise the One who always loves us. Someone once said, “If you are having difficulty praising Him in your current situation, praise Him anyway. Keep praising Him until it gets easy. He will be blessed by your sacrifice of praise and when He is blessed, He blesses you.”

Heavenly Father, when I feel unloved, help me remember to look up to You. In Christ, amen.

November 19

By 365 Devotions

Stick to It

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” (Genesis 29:25).

Scripture: Genesis 29:15-30

Song: “Overcomer”

Several years ago, I was offered my dream job overseas. A few weeks after my visa was issued, my husband and I packed our belongings and moved. When we arrived at the office, I eagerly scanned the staff list for my name, but was shocked to find I had been assigned to work in a different department! What happened to the position I had been promised?

Jacob contracted to work for seven years and in return marry the woman he loved. But he was tripped up, ripped off and deceived by his father-in-law, Laban. Jacob couldn’t waste time wallowing in anger or bitterness because the woman of his dreams was waiting. So he agreed to work another seven years to get the one he had been promised.

In life, our plans might be thwarted by miscommunication or dishonest people. When we face setbacks, we have a choice to make: We can give up, or we can jump over the hurdles and navigate the roadblocks. With God’s help, we can persevere for the love of the dream.

Gracious Father, thank You for understanding our disappointments and always making a way for us to move forward. In Jesus’ name, amen.

November 19–25.Rebecca Stuhlmiller is a conference, retreat and seminar speaker who lives in Federal Way, Washington, with her husband Jeff. Her mission in life is to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus and impact their family, church, community and world for Him.

November 18

By 365 Devotions

It’s Personal Now

If God will be with me . . . so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD to be my God (Genesis 28:20, 21, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 28:10-22

Song: “Pass Me Not”

Edward McKendree Bounds, minister, Civil War chaplain and fervent author and speaker on prayer, went home to Heaven in 1913. Sixty-three years later, a minister traveled to Washington, Georgia, to visit the grave of E. M. Bounds, whose life he greatly admired. There, he met Osborne Bounds, Sr., a living son of E. M. Bounds, and a treasury of memories of his father. It soon became apparent, however, that while he held his father in high esteem and respected his father’s God, he had never made Him his God, and had no assurance of Heaven. God graciously allowed the younger man the privilege of leading 84 year old Osborne Bounds to accept the Lord Jesus as his own Savior!

As a son and grandson of the patriarchs, Jacob respected the Lord, but knew Him only as “the God of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac.” It was never personal with Jacob. But Jacob made a covenant with God, promising that if God would be with him, provide for his needs, and bring him home again, the Lord would be his God. God did that and more, and in Genesis 33:20, Jacob erected an altar to the Lord, calling it El-elo’he-Israel, “The God of Israel.” There was not yet a nation called Israel, but only the man Jacob whom God had renamed “Israel,” whose fathers’ God was, finally—his God.

Thank You, Father, for Your Specific love for me and for the great price Your Son paid at Calvary for my salvation. In His name, amen.

November 17

By 365 Devotions

Friendship Equity

Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, we have found him, of whom Moses . . . did write, Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:44, 45, KJV).

Scripture: John 1:43-51

Song: “Lead Me to Some Soul Today”

I still remember one crisp, perfect fall afternoon that I spent shadowing my grandfather around his little Midwestern hometown on errands. As we walked toward home, I mentioned that he had forgotten to pay for the phonograph needle at the stereo store, and my grandmother’s medicine at the doctor’s office, nor had they remembered to charge him. When he told me that neither he nor they had forgotten, and that he would settle up later, I began to understand that the nearly 50 years of trust and credibility he had built up in town was worth more than anything in a wallet.

In John’s account, Jesus called Andrew, and then Andrew brought Simon Peter. Next, Jesus called Philip, and planned to add Nathanael to the group. Notice that Peter shared Philip’s hometown. Peter was outgoing, never suffered from shyness and would one day preach at Pentecost. Surely, Peter seems a natural choice to have persuaded Nathanael, but God used Philip instead. Philip’s friendship with Nathanael may have built up an “equity” of trust and credibility that Peter could not match. Perhaps there are people in our lives who need to meet our Jesus. Though others may seem more qualified to make the introduction, we may have built up a friendship equity that no one else can touch. And friendship, after all, cares nothing for qualifications.

Father, please show me the souls that I am uniquely positioned to reach. In my Savior’s name, amen.

November 16

By 365 Devotions

Lock, Stock and Barrel

Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed . . . of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always (Deuteronomy 14:22, 23, KJV).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 14:22-29

Song: “Give of Your Best to the Master”

One reality show featured buyers attempting to win auctions of entire defaulted storage units. Without stepping past the opened rollup doors, they were given just five minutes to view the contents of each unit, and to decide on their bids. Winning bidders became the proud (or not so proud) owners of everything contained in their storage units, whether good, bad, ugly or truly weird. One storage unit purchased for just $3,600 contained paintings which later sold for $300,

000! But whether a unit contained trash, treasure, or something in between, one thing was certain: it all belonged exclusively to the buyer.

The Lord required the Israelites to give back to Him a tithe, (or tenth) of all their substance, so that they would learn to respect the Lord deeply and acknowledge His authority in their lives. In 1 Peter 1:18, 19 (KJV) God reminds believers that we have been “redeemed,” (bought back by God) “with the precious blood of Christ.” As His purchased possession, all that we have and all that we are rightfully belongs to Him. In returning to Him a portion of our time, talent, and treasure, we acknowledge His claim on our lives, submitting completely to His authority.

Father, I know that my giving isn’t a question of Your need, but of Your lordship in my life. Please help me to withhold nothing from You. In my Savior’s name, amen.

November 15

By 365 Devotions

Why Wait?

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).

Scripture: Isaiah 40:27-31

Song: “Wings as Eagles”

There’s something majestic about eagles, as they glide, wheel and soar high above the earth. In flapping flight, they use tremendous amounts of energy. But God has given eagles the ability to soar almost effortlessly for hours on thermal air currents. They are borne aloft to altitudes they could never reach in their own strength, and then glide until they find another thermal and soar upward again. When the strong but invisible currents on which they depend are not present—on cool, windless mornings, for example—eagles usually content themselves with a high perch, waiting for the unseen forces to stir again.

Today’s verse speaks of lifting up, sustaining and renewing strength, but hangs all that upon something many people find difficult: waiting. We simply hate to wait! But if we are to “mount up with wings as eagles,” if we would rise above those things that oppress and keep us down in our daily lives, waiting on God is an imperative. When we get ahead of God, we go on our own, forgoing His strength even as our stamina is quickly depleted, and see disappointing results. We need not only God’s will, in God’s way, but also in God’s time. And though He may seem slow to us, He’s never late!

Lord, please develop in me the patience to wait for You, rather than relying on my own strength. In Your name, amen.

November 14

By 365 Devotions

Why Wait?

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).

Scripture: Isaiah 40:27-31

Song: “Wings as Eagles”

There’s something majestic about eagles, as they glide, wheel and soar high above the earth. In flapping flight, they use tremendous amounts of energy. But God has given eagles the ability to soar almost effortlessly for hours on thermal air currents. They are borne aloft to altitudes they could never reach in their own strength, and then glide until they find another thermal and soar upward again. When the strong but invisible currents on which they depend are not present—on cool, windless mornings, for example—eagles usually content themselves with a high perch, waiting for the unseen forces to stir again.

Today’s verse speaks of lifting up, sustaining and renewing strength, but hangs all that upon something many people find difficult: waiting. We simply hate to wait! But if we are to “mount up with wings as eagles,” if we would rise above those things that oppress and keep us down in our daily lives, waiting on God is an imperative. When we get ahead of God, we go on our own, forgoing His strength even as our stamina is quickly depleted, and see disappointing results. We need not only God’s will, in God’s way, but also in God’s time. And though He may seem slow to us, He’s never late!

Lord, please develop in me the patience to wait for You, rather than relying on my own strength. In Your name, amen.

In the World—November 18, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 18 here.


The 2018 midterm elections have come and gone. Americans decided to give Democrats control of the House of Representatives as Republicans retained a majority in the Senate. Shifts in power took place all down the line through state and local elections. Numerous ballot measures required citizens to evaluate issues which would affect them in the near future. Party affiliation determined the votes of many, but the promises of candidates and proponents of referendum issues were a major factor for many voters. For the next two years, we will live with the consequences of those promises and our decisions about them.


As we all know, campaign promises are not always kept. We also know that we don’t always keep the promises we make to God in times of stress or distress. Jacob’s dream caused him to promise allegiance to God if he were blessed by God. To help him remember the experience, he built an altar at that place.

  1. Why do so many people place little trust in political promises? Why are such promises made, and why are so many of them broken?
  2. Describe the turmoil occurring in Jacob’s life that preceded his encounter with God in this text. Why do so many people promise faithfulness to God in times of great emotion and not so much when life is going smoothly?
  3. Have you ever had a spiritual awakening such as Jacob experienced? What was your reaction to it? How did it change your life? What steps did you take to help you remember that experience?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

November 18: Jacob’s Dream (Genesis 28:10-22)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Agreements of Peace” activity sheet here. Make a copy of the activity page for your answer key. Cut the other copy apart on the dotted lines. After all class members have arrived, shuffle the slips of paper and distribute them among the class members. Give your group about five minutes to match a conflict with the agreement that ended it.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “Historically, conflicts end with a written agreement of peace. Jacob’s early life was filled with family conflict, but the roots of the battle were much deeper. When Jacob was living on the run, God came down and gave instructions for peace.”

To encourage personal application:

On the board, write Jacob’s vow from Genesis 28:20, 21, interspersed with references to Jesus’ promises to his followers.

If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking (Matthew 28:19, 20) and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear (Matthew 6:23) so that I return safely to my father’s household (Matthew 19:27-29) then the Lord will be my God.

Have volunteers read the cited words of Jesus from Matthew and discuss how they relate to portions of Jacob’s vow. Give class members pen and paper. Using those thoughts have them create a personal agreement of peace between themselves and God.

November 13

By 365 Devotions

Meekness Isn’t Weakness

[Elijah] requested for himself that he might die . . . And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat (1 Kings 19:4, 5, KJV).

Scripture: 1 Kings 19:3-9

Song: “I Would Be Like Jesus”

Deeply influenced by his Christian mother and upbringing, Desmond Doss grew up believing in non-violence, but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the United States Army. Doss wanted to be a combat medic, saving lives rather than taking them and refused to pick up a weapon even in training. He asked and was granted permission to face the dangers of battle without any weapon to defend himself. During the Battle of Okinawa, he remained in an exposed area while the rest of his unit retreated to safety. Working alone under enemy fire, he personally saved the lives of 75 men, for which he was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for extreme valor. Courageous yet peaceable, Doss exemplified the gentle warrior.

Running for his life from Queen Jezebel, a fearful Elijah showed signs of depression, but notice how very gently Almighty God treated him. Providing for his needs, the Lord would speak quietly, comforting His prophet and encouraging him to go on. Though Exodus 15:3 calls the Lord “a man of war,” Israel’s great warrior, King David, also said of God: “thy gentleness hath made me great” (2 Samuel 22:36, KJV). Meekness is not weakness, and the Lord is a gentle role model worthy of our emulation.

Father, the better I come to know You, the easier it is to trust You. Please, make me patient, gentle and kind as You are. In Jesus’ name, amen.

November 12

By 365 Devotions

No Experience Necessary

And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD . . . the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I (1 Samuel 3:3, 4, KJV).

Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-9

Song: “I’ll Say Yes, Lord, Yes”

While sharing a meal with an Amish family, a Christian writer learned their unique method of selecting a pastor. In that region, few Amish were educated past the eighth grade; those with formal Bible training were fewer yet. Congregations voted for any men who showed potential to pastor. Anyone receiving three or more votes was then asked to sit randomly at a table. Each man had a hymnbook in front of him; one hymnbook contained a card identifying that man as the pastor for the coming year. The dinner guest asked what would happen if the person selected didn’t feel qualified. His host answered that if he did feel qualified, they wouldn’t want him!

When God called Samuel, he was just a young child with little training. But Samuel answered God’s call. And though Samuel initially feared the task, he obeyed and God used him mightily all his life. Throughout the Bible, people expressed their sense of inadequacy for undertaking a great work for God. Moses, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, Peter, and Paul all acutely felt their own weakness, but each submitted to God’s calling and discovered that His strength really is made perfect in weakness. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

Heavenly Father, please help me to trust that I really can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In the name of my Savior, amen.

November 12-18.Neil Bowers lives with his family in San Diego, California, and enjoys children’s ministries, preaching and wood carving.

November 11

By 365 Devotions

A Different Voice

He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him (Genesis 27:22).

Scripture: Genesis 27:5-10, 18, 19, 21-29

Song: “Lord, Speak to Me”

A number of years ago I bought a commentary on Ephesians. I would read my Bible and then quickly read the commentary for the same verses. But then I would go back and read the Scripture again carefully and prayerfully reflect on the Scripture. It was in rereading my Bible and seeking God on His message for me in that text that it came increasingly clear that something was just not right with the commentary. Like Isaac, I felt something was wrong so I pressed further. I did some research on the author and found out that he did not believe in miracles, the deity of Christ, or in the resurrection. Since I did not want anyone else to be deceived with the book, I threw away that commentary.

The Bereans were commended for searching the Scriptures to verify the truth and we still have that responsibility today. Search the Scriptures and ask questions. God’s truth stands up to honest and careful examinations; a lie never can.

Lord, open my eyes and ears to Your instruction in Scripture that I might not be deceived by the lies surrounding me in culture. In Your name, amen.

November 10

By 365 Devotions

The Unexpected

May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples (Genesis 28:3).

Scripture: Genesis 27:46–28:5

Song: “There Shall be Showers of Blessings”

The lava flow in Craters of the Moon National Monument in Central Idaho usually seems like a 60 mile long black, barren field. There is not much vegetation other than a few gnarled trees and some sage brush. But in the spring, when there is still snow in the sheltered areas, wild flowers bloom in a brief but dazzling show of color against the black backdrop. The display is stunning and very much unexpected in such a barren place.

Isaac’s family had become dark and barren because of Esau’s decision to marry Hittites (see Genesis 26:34, 35) and Jacob’s deception. Yet even in the barren and sorrowful consequences when Jacob fled from his brother’s wrath, we read Isaac’s unexpected blessing—a blessing that reflected God’s promise to Abraham, the blessing that truly mattered.

We can look for God’s blessing on us even in the barren places of our lives. And we can also ask God to show us how we can bless others, in His name, when they might be in similar situations.

Father, open my eyes to Your wonderful blessings for me and all who follow in Your way. In Christ’s name, amen.

November 9

By 365 Devotions


When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!” (Genesis 27:34).

Scripture: Genesis 27:30-40

Song: “Onward Christian Soldiers”

After William Wilberforce became a believer he spent the rest of his life seeking to abolish England’s involvement in the slave trade which was more than just a profitable business; people thought that the entire British economy depended on it.

Opposition to Wilberforce was fierce and threats were made against his life. Since he was an evangelical, high society ridiculed his devotion to Christ. To complicate matters he was frail with severe health issues and poor eye sight. At times it seemed he would die before his bill would pass.

Eleven times he introduced legislation to abolish the slave trade and eleven times he was defeated. How often he must have cried out in anguish. But unlike Esau who was seeking his own blessing, Wilberforce was crying out to God for the sake of others. His cries of anguish were for those who had no one to call on for help; no one to defend them. So in spite of the overwhelming odds against him, Wilberforce continued to press on in the strength of the Almighty until finally in 1807 the bill to end the slave trade passed by an overwhelming majority.

It is easy to cry out like Esau but Jesus calls us to a higher blessing— the blessing of joining His suffering so others might have life.

Lord, lift my eyes off of myself so I can follow Your call for the sake of others. In Your name, amen.

November 8

By 365 Devotions


Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you (Genesis 27:8).

Scripture: Genesis 27:5-17

Song: “I Would Be True”

Here in eastern Idaho we have access to some of the best fly fishing rivers in the world. There is the Henry’s Fork with it massive rainbows and the South Fork of the Snake River with its native cutthroat trout. Just a little farther north is Yellowstone National Park with the Madison River and some great backcountry streams.

Fly fishing is built on one premise—deception. We present an artificial fly that is intended to look like a real insect. Early in the season the deception generally works but after a few weeks of heavy fishing the trout get wise and very selective. The slightest discrepancy in how the artificial fly looks or acts on the water will spook the trout. The deception must be flawless.

Deception is used in sports. Is the pitcher going to throw a fastball or curve; will the quarterback hand the ball off or throw a pass? In some instances deception can be fun and challenging but at other times it can cause tremendous strife and even destroy a family’s relationship.

Jacob and Rebekah went to great effort to deceive Isaac: the food, the clothes, and the goatskin. It all worked perfectly and Jacob got the blessing but at what cost? He would need to flee from his brother’s wrath and Rebekah would never see her favorite son again. Deception is fine for fishing but will only bring destruction when we seek to deceive others.

Heavenly Father, help me to be true to those around me knowing that You are my ultimate blessing. In the name of Your Son, amen.

November 7

By 365 Devotions

Growing Old

Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death” (Genesis 27:2).

Scripture: Genesis 27:1-4

Song: “I Love to Tell the Story”

I recently celebrated my 70th birthday. How did this happen? I don’t remember growing old. I look in the mirror and see a gray-haired man looking back; the ground seems further down than it used to be. When I was young I did not think much about growing old. That too is different now. Dad was the first male in our family to reach 80 and died just short of his 90th birthday. So if the Lord wills, I have maybe 10 to 20 years left. But like Isaac, I don’t know how long I have. But I do know that I am not dead yet. And also like Isaac, I know there are still things to do. So like Isaac, I remind myself that each day is time that is not to be wasted. There are blessings to be pronounced and a legacy to pass on. There is still life to be lived meaningfully for others and for God. I have a wife, sons, daughters-in-laws, grandchildren and if the Lord wills, great-grandchildren that I want to pronounce blessings over and tell about the love of Christ.

Father, You have numbered my days. Help me to use every day that You have given me for Your glory. In Christ’s name, amen.

November 11: Jacob’s Deception (Genesis27:5-10, 18, 19, 21-29)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “It’s a Conspiracy!” quiz here. Make copies for each group of three to five class members. Divide the class into groups and give them fifteen minutes to match deceivers with deceptions. Then reveal the answers. They are: 1=e, 2=n, 3=i, 4=m, 5=g, 6=a, 7=b, 8=l, 9=d, 10=f, 11=h, 12=k, 13=c, 14=j

Conclude by quickly summarizing today’s text—the deception to steal Isaac’s blessing from Esau.

To encourage personal application:

Write this quote on the board: “Half the truth is often a great lie.”—Benjamin Franklin

Wrap up the session by discussing the quote. What do you think it means? Can you give an example of it? When have you been tempted to tell a half-truth rather than the whole truth?

If you have time, follow up by brainstorming ways people deceive one another with their words and actions. Some items on your list may be: white lies, exaggeration, use of abstract language, cover-up, omission of important facts, avoiding a question, etc.  Close in individual prayer in which class members ask God for forgiveness for purposely deceiving others.

In the World—November 11, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 11 here.


Two weeks ago was Hallowe’en, a day significant in church history. In 1517, on All Hallows Eve (as it was then called) Martin Luther made public a lengthy list of his theological grievances against the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, however, October 31 no longer has any religious significance for most people. For two-thirds of adults from ages 18 to 45, it’s party time with an average of $50 spent on costumes. An increasing number of adults are playing make-believe on Halloween, sometimes in costumes meant to be sensually alluring.


When Jacob deceived his father to gain the blessing of the birthright, he also engaged in a game of make-believe. He wore a costume that fooled his blind father into believing he was his older brother, Esau. This was no mere game. There were significant consequences for his family and for the Hebrew people for many generations to come. Animosity between the brothers would last for decades. Despite the deception, Jacob’s family line would become the one through which the Messiah would come.

  1. Dressing up for Halloween is widely viewed as an activity of harmless fun for children. Do you think the same is true for adult involvement in masquerade activities? In what ways might adults and children view wearing a costume differently? What criteria might a believer use to judge whether a costume is appropriate for a child? for an adult? Explain.
  2. Try to define the terms masquerade, dressing up, cosplay (“costume play” at a comic book convention, for example), and impersonation. Which best describes what occurred in today’s Bible text? Explain. Why do you think God allowed Isaac’s blessing to stand?
  3. In what kind of figurative masquerades or impersonations do Christians participate? What blessings might we be seeking by doing so? What can be the consequences?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

November 6

By 365 Devotions

The Glory of Suffering

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21).

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:18-25

Song: “The Old Rugged Cross”

I enjoy reading biographies of the giants of the Christian faith and in every case I find some type of suffering or severe testing. There have been martyrs in every age since Christ; from Peter and Paul to people such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hung in 1945 for his opposition to Hitler. But there have been others who have suffered tremendously without dying a martyr’s death. Ministers and missionaries suffered numerous illnesses and some buried wives and children in foreign lands. Yet through their tears they praised and worshipped God.

No one likes to suffer. Yet for the Christian in the midst of suffering is grace from God that not only draws us closer to God but is the means by which He transforms us into more of the image of Jesus. Our verse says that Christ is our “example” and so we “follow in his steps.” We follow Jesus in everything and every way whether the crowds around us are shouting praise to God or they are shouting animosity toward all who call themselves by His name.

Lord Jesus, I don’t like the idea of suffering but suffering and testing is what You use to draw me closer to You. Strengthen me to Your service. In Your name, I pray, amen.

November 5

By 365 Devotions


Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob (Psalm 24:6).

Scripture: Psalm 24:1-6

Song: “Take My Life, and Let It Be“

Narrow gauge railroads once wound through the canons and mountain passes of the Rockies to remote mining camps. While today cars travel where many trains once ran, wooden trestles are gone and most of the tunnels have been abandoned. But railroad enthusiasts still look for vestiges and relics of the trains and this bygone era. Today, for example, in an area now covered with trees a person with a searching eye can see a former railroad bed partly washed away by time, wind, and water. Is that the remains of some old miner’s cabin a hundred feet from the train track?

Jesus spoke of seeking God’s kingdom as if a buried treasure in a field and a pearl of great price. The vast railroad dynasties of yesterday are now but a memory but the treasure that is ours in heaven will last forever. Men and women around the world seek fame, fortune, power, and purpose to life but the real one to seek is Jesus of Nazareth, who can meet our heart’s true desire.

Lord, I want to seek You with all my heart. Grant me the eyes to see Your glorious kingdom. In Your name, amen.

November 5–11. Steve Sperry and his wife Jan, originally from Colorado, now live in Idaho near their children and grandchildren. Steve enjoys explores Idaho’s many fishing locations.

November 4

By 365 Devotions

The Peacemaker’s Peace

This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 25:19).

Scripture: Genesis 25:19-34

Song: “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”

Years ago a minister compiled a list of the descendants of Jonathan Edwards to show an extensive progeny of hundreds of people who held impressive titles and important positions. But, the list has one flaw: it focuses on careers, not character. For example, the Vice President was Edwards’ headstrong grandson, Aaron Burr.

By way of contrast, Isaac, a peacemaker who could wait for God to provide a well, led a household which could wait for nothing. His wife conspired to advance one son over the other; and one brother took advantage of the other in a moment of desperation, to persuade him to trade his future for a bowl of soup. And yet, from among a generation of grandchildren hard-wired for anger, there emerged a peacemaker who saved his whole family.

From Isaac and his family we learn that being a peacemaker is not the natural bent of the human heart. Troubled man is always ready for war with troubled men. That means being a person of authentic peace is a gift from God. Our advantage over Isaac is that we know that a peacemaker’s peace comes through faith in Jesus who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives” (John 14:27). The heart at peace in Christ has the tools for being at peace with others.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your plan to display peace through me. In Jesus’ name I ask You to help me to represent You well. Amen.

November 3

By 365 Devotions

Who Put That There?

[Ishmael’s descendants] lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them (Genesis 25:18).

Scripture: Genesis 21:8-13; 25:17, 18

Song: “Find Us Faithful”

There is an old song about a petunia in an onion patch wondering how it got there. I often remember that song when I think about Jacob’s eleventh son.

As a child, Joseph was surrounded by cousins, an uncle, and even great-uncle Ishmael himself, who were steeped in bitterness. He also lived with 10 brothers who hated him. How, then, did this boy stumble out of the swampland of family feuds as a godly youth. Far from being a petunia among onions, he was a rose and he flourished!

God’s grace seldom falls from the sky in a glob of faith. He uses means. He connects dots in the process of drawing people to faith and the story of forming Jesus’ character in their souls.

So, with regard to Joseph, it is chronologically possible that, in his childhood, he may have had opportunities to talk with his grandpa Isaac. It is also possible those visits included grandpa’s struggles with the Ammonites, and even earlier events where grandpa totally depended on God.

We can be “talk-to” people. By personally depending on God we gain experience with God and His faithfulness that become stories we can tell for all who will listen.

Heavenly Father, thank You for godly people to show us Your way. May we be among them. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

November 2

By 365 Devotions

Well Managed Success

Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully (Genesis 26:31).

Scripture: Genesis 26:28-33

Song: “Make Me a Blessing”

The British philosopher and historian, Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975), wrote, “Nothing fails like success when you rely on it too much.”

My father-in-law remembered a time when Fuller’s teasel was cultivated and sold to fiber processors who used its spine-covered pod to card wool. One year they held back their deliveries to force processors to pay higher prices. The strategy worked—once. By the next year, however, carding machines made teasels unnecessary.

Because Isaac knew how to be a man of peace, he had been able to work around contentious issues. As a result he became a man of wealth and power. He even secured land and settled down— becoming a planter as well as a manager of livestock.

Then came an opportunity to flex his muscle. The Ammonites acknowledged the hand of the Lord on Isaac’s life and asked for a peace treaty. However, other than to remind them they had “hated him” earlier, Isaac prepared a banquet, showed generous hospitality, made an oath with them, and “they went away peacefully.”

A peace maker, governed by a spirit of holiness in his walk with God, will use blessings from God in ways that give others the opportunity to be at peace. As a general principle, Scripture states, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7, KJV).

Heavenly Father, thank You for successes in our lives. Teach us to use them to show the way of peace to others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

November 1

By 365 Devotions

Troubled by Being Troubled?

Wait for your God always (Hosea 12:6).

Scripture: Hosea 12:2-6

Song: “Does Jesus Care?”

In Bunyan’s allegory, The Holy War, he wrote about a castle called Mansoul, built for Prince Emmanuel. It had five gates such as Eye Gate and Ear Gate. And, it was populated with characters such as Will, Innocence, and Conviction. The story traces the castle’s citizens through rebellion against the Prince, rescue by the Prince, relapsed fellowship with the Prince, and restoration to the Prince.

In the “relapse,” Mansoulians became self-absorbed until they discovered the Prince could not be found. Lacking peace, they became deeply troubled until the High Secretary of the Prince helped them compose a letter of repentance. Then they waited.

Waiting for God to restore lost peace is difficult even when sin is not the culprit. The loss can be as innocent and simple as an unexplainable inner sense of disquiet. The difficulty is, whether waiting for the mist to lift or for the truth of forgiveness to sink in, being troubled naturally leads to worry, and worry can lead to the sinful conclusion that God does not care.

Jesus dealt with troubled feelings (see John 11:33; 12:27; 13:21). He also demonstrated His power to resist worry by focusing on what the Father wanted Him to do (Hebrews 12:2). He demonstrated that the basic game plan in troubled times is to keep focused on the truth that God does care (1 Peter 5:7).

Faithful God, thank You for the clear testimony that You care. Whether I’m troubled or not, help me to keep that truth in focus. In Jesus’ name. Amen

October 31

By 365 Devotions

The Banker’s Bogus Virtue

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy (Hebrews 12:14).

Scripture: Hebrews 12:14-17

Song: “More Holiness Give Me”

It was a normal day at the bank until doors opened and a team of men and women spread through every department. For the final hours of the day they observed every station; and at day’s end they locked everything away and sealed every door and drawer. The reason? A vice president of the bank was about to be arrested for embezzlement. The bizarre feature of the crime was his objective: he gave all the money to charities.

Charity is a virtue. That is a good thing. Scripture directs us to cultivate it and other virtues such as peacemaking. Isaac was a peacemaker who understood that, in his case, wells were not worth fighting for in his search for a place. But, with all virtues there is this matter of holiness. Like the banker’s “charity,” peacemaking can be kidnapped by the dark side. Being an authentic peacemaker does not make a person holy. Rather, it is the result of it.

That is important to understand, because holiness can sometimes disturb peace. The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:15, 16, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

Heavenly Father, thank You for grace to live a life which can bring peace in my relationships; but help me not to love peace so much that I dishonor Jesus to keep it. In my Savior’s name I pray. Amen.

In the World—November 4, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 4 here.


Sometimes our strife is political. Recently, over the course of several days, a radical partisan sent bombs to numerous members of the political left around the country. Sometimes, racial or ethnic prejudice prompts someone to violence. This occurred when a gunman killed eleven people last Saturday in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. And this week in North Carolina, a bullying incident in a school hallway escalated into a fight which left one student dead.


God’s prediction to Rebekah concerning the strife which would characterize the lives of her sons proved tragically true. From the womb, they struggled against each other, and it continued throughout much of their lives. When members of the same family cannot get along, it should not surprise us that members of the human family-at-large experience strife also.

  1. What do you think tips people “over the edge” so that they commit the kind of violence we have seen recently? Does the history of interpersonal strife since biblical times tell you that we can expect no better of humanity? Explain your answer.
  2. Did God’s prediction of the struggle between Jacob and Esau predetermine the course of their lives? Why or why not?
  3. When you have struggled with another person, how did your faith help you to resolve the matter? How does being a Christian help you to prevent negative relationships with others?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

November 4: Siblings’ Rivalry (Genesis 25:19-34)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Sibling Match” quiz here. Make copies for every class member. As class members arrive, allow them to work together to complete this very difficult matching exercise. When all have arrived and have had a chance to work on the quiz, share the answers. They are: 1=e, 2=n, 3=i, 4=m, 5=g, 6=a, 7=b, 8=l, 9=d, 10=f, 11=h, 12=k, 13=c, 14=j

Lead into Bible study by saying, “Sometimes two siblings are so different that we do not associate one with another. In extreme cases, some siblings are so different that they have great difficulty in getting along. Jacob and Esau, though twins, could not have been more different from each other.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Divide the class into groups of three to five members each. Give them pen and paper, making sure they have copies of the lesson text. Give them 10–15 minutes to create rap sheets (criminal profiles) of Jacob and Esau. Their profiles should include names, aliases, known associates, known hideouts, and personality descriptions.

The finished products should be similar to these:

JacobAliases: Heel Grabber (the Deceiver), Israel (Struggler); Known Associates:  Isaac (father), Rebekah (mother), Esau (twin brother); Known Hideouts: among the tents; Personality Description:  deceptive, manipulative

EsauAliases: Hairy, Edom (Red); Known Associates:  Isaac (father), Rebekah (mother), Jacob (twin brother); Known Hideouts: open country, hunting grounds; Personality Description:  driven by his appetites

Allow groups to share their profiles. Wrap up the activity by saying, “No, Jacob and Esau were not criminals. But they certainly seem to be unlikely characters to appear in the line of Abraham! Furthermore, their distinct personality traits would have put them at odds with each other.”

October 30

By 365 Devotions

The Impact of a Forgiving Face

To see your face is like seeing the face of God (Genesis 33:10).

Scripture:Genesis 33:4-11

Song: “Depth of Mercy”

Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, had finished a message to a German congregation. Afterward she faced one of the guards from Ravensbrük where she had been abused and where her father and sister had died. The man confessed his role in her suffering and explained that he had become a Christian. Then he held out his hand and asked forgiveness. We have Corrie’s record of the thoughts and emotions she felt at that moment; but, as far as I know, there is no record of the former guard’s thoughts and emotions. Perhaps we gain an insight from Jacob.

Having cheated Esau, his brother, out of the family inheritance and stolen from him the paternal blessing, he fled for his life. Years later, having come to terms with God and found mercy, he prepared for a rendezvous with his brother and a small army. The unexpected result was Esau’s eager welcome and unconditional forgiveness.

The guard’s response may have been similar to the thoughts of Jacob: “To see your face is like seeing the face of God.”

If you have ever dreaded revenge from someone for something you did and have found, instead, welcome and forgiveness, you know something of the face of the forgiving God. For all of us in Christ, whether or not we have had some such face-of-God experience, we do have opportunities to show His face to others.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your forgiveness. Help me to show Your face to others when I forgive. In Jesus’ name, amen.

October 29

By 365 Devotions

Finding Our Place

Now the LORD has given us room (Genesis 26:22).

Scripture: Genesis 26:6-22

Song: “This World Is Not My Home”

When 9-year-old Jessee and his 12-year-old brother, Josh, stopped coming to a youth boxing gym, Detective Jack Mook grew concerned. What he found were two abused boys. What he did was take responsibility for them, give them a place to call “home,” and adopt them.

We all long for a place. It can be as major as a house and a family or as simple as a chair among friends. Many have neither. Homelessness is rampant, the number of at-risk children is growing. Even among people who seem to have their niche there is a gnawing sense of not belonging. Christians are not insulated from the crises, rejections, and abuses which create homelessness. When people feel adrift, desperation can lead to conflict.

Isaac, a man in a covenant relationship with God, was a pilgrim in a hostile culture and he understood the wisdom of becoming known as a man of peace in his quest for a place.

Faith in Christ makes us pilgrims in our world (1 Peter 2:11). Although we are a people of peace, God may or may not provide a place where we feel we belong or are wanted. For all of us it is essential that we trust Jesus’ promise that He is preparing a better and lasting place for us (John 14:1-3).

Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus, who has made room for me and who is preparing a place for me to be with Him. In Christ’s name, amen.

October 29–November 12. Harold Comings is a retired Senior Minister who lives with his wife, Judy, in Florida.

October 28

By 365 Devotions

Answered Prayer for a Spouse

And Isaac brought her into his mother’s Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death (Genesis 24:67, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 24:12-21, 61-67

Song: “Trust and Obey”

Famed missionary Jim Elliot wrestled during his college years—but not only against competitors on a mat. Jim struggled to know if he should marry or remain single. Rather than follow his own reasoning, he committed the matter to God, writing, “The Lord knows how I surrendered this ‘love-life’ business to Him long ago.” Eventually, the Lord led him to marry Elisabeth, a woman so committed to Christ she continued Jim’s mission work to the Auca Indians of Ecuador even after Jim was killed by them. Because Jim left his marriage decision in God’s hands, many souls were eventually won for the Lord.

This story of Isaac and Rebekah has such a happy ending for one reason: everyone involved yielded to God’s will. Abraham’s servant prayed for God’s direction. Rebekah obeyed God’s calling to marry Isaac sight-unseen. Rebekah’s family submitted to God’s providence and let her go. And Isaac waited for God’s best. God’s will done. God’s way resulted in God’s blessing.

Our culture tells us to “follow our hearts” rather than the Lord’s leading regarding relationships. Rather than succumb to the culture, Christians are to be shining examples of God’s plan for relationships. As we follow His direction, we will both find personal contentment and also encourage others to follow His will.

Dear Father, help us to leave the decisions of our lives up to You. Help us to remember that Your plans are always best. In Christ’s name, amen.

October 27

By 365 Devotions

Celebrating Marriage

And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them (Genesis 24:60, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 24:54-60

Song: “Thanks to God”

Weddings are times for splurging, but even the most indulgent bride’s parents would gasp at a $48,000,000 price tag for a nuptial. But that was exactly what the most expensive wedding in history—that of Prince Charles to Lady Diana in 1981—cost. With 3,500 wedding guests, 27 wedding cakes, and global television coverage for an estimated audience of 750 million, the Royal Family went all-out to celebrate.

After Abraham’s servant received the blessing for Rebekah to wed Isaac, he gave expensive gifts to the family members, and they all celebrated with a meal. It was a joyous occasion—not only because of the upcoming wedding but because the arrangement was of the Lord. Upon Rebekah’s leaving, her family blessed her and wished her the best in life.

For believers, marriage is a time of celebrating the Lord’s joining of a man and woman together and establishing a new family. It is also a picture of that great joining together of Christ and His Church that is to come. Someday all of God’s people will celebrate the wedding supper of the Lamb.

Dear Lord, thank You for the special times of celebration You give us in this life. Help us to remember that every joy in life comes from Your hand. In Your name, amen.

October 26

By 365 Devotions

Letting Go

Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the LORD hath spoken (Genesis 24:51, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 24:45-51

Song: “Sweet Will of God”

Most parents understand there is a time to let their children go—but not Ben’s. Long after Ben had grown up and had left home for college, his mother would insist on still tucking him in to bed on his occasional visits home. If Ben disliked being tucked in as an adult, there was one person who liked it less: Ben’s wife!

The Lord had clearly shown Abraham’s servant that Rebekah was His choice to be Isaac’s wife. As the servant rehearsed the story of his prayer and God’s immediate answer, Rebekah’s family members could not help but see God’s providence at work. Rather than trying to keep Rebekah at home, both Rebekah’s father and brother gave their blessing for Rebekah to go.

Parents who love their children certainly find it difficult to let go of their children as they reach adulthood. As the dad of two teenage daughters, I find myself wishing that time with my girls would not go so fast. Yet if our children’s lives are committed to God’s care, at the right time we can let them go, knowing God’s providential hand is at work.

Heavenly Father, help us to submit to Your will for our lives. Help us to remember that Your will is always best. In Your Son’s name, amen.

October 25

By 365 Devotions

Tough Mission, Much Prayer

And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day and show kindness unto my master Abraham (Genesis 24:12, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 24:1-14

Tough Song: “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me”

During World War II, pilot Robert Scott was given a difficult assignment to help evacuate Allied troops trapped in Japanese-controlled territory. Weathering fierce storms and evading enemy fighter planes, Scott helped rescue thousands. Later, he joined the legendary Flying Tigers, completing one-man air-missions to thwart enemy troop movements. But Scott realized he couldn’t complete these missions alone— hence the name of his later-published book: God Is My Co-Pilot.

Abraham gave his servant the difficult mission of finding a bride for Isaac in a far-away land. This assignment intimidated the servant. After all, Isaac was the chief’s son, and the servant had to both find a suitable girl and persuade her to leave home and marry a stranger. Yet God was with him and, upon arriving, the servant did not turn to his own wisdom, discretion, or experience—he turned to prayer, asking for the Lord’s guidance. While still praying, the Lord brought Rebekah right to him.

As believers, Christ often gives us assignments that are difficult—and sometimes seemingly impossible. Thankfully, in those intimidating times, we do not have to turn to our own knowledge, charisma, or talents. We simply need to seek God’s guidance and wait for Him to work.

Dear Lord, help us seek Your help with every assignment we are given in this life. Help us to trust Your guiding hand. In Your name, amen.

October 24

By 365 Devotions

Falling in Love

And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept (Genesis 29:11, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 29:1-14

Song: “O Perfect Love”

Love at first sight is not a new concept—Adoniram Judson is proof. When the famous missionary to Burma had dinner at Mr. Hasseltine’s house in 1810, he was so struck by seeing Hasseltine’s beautiful and gracious daughter, Ann, that he spontaneously (but silently) began composing a poem praising her—while still at the dinner table! They were soon married and serving the Lord together on the mission field.

Jacob was sent to the East for two reasons: to escape Esau’s wrath and to find himself a wife. Most likely, he didn’t expect to find true love his first day there. Yet Jacob appears quite love-struck upon meeting Rachel, going as far as single-handedly rolling the stone from the well for her in a seeming show of bravado. In time, the two would be married, and Rachel would remain the love of his life.

Proverbs 30:18, 19 speaks of falling in love as one of the things in life too wonderful to understand. It surely is a mystery how the heart of a man and a woman can be knit together as one. God does this as part of His plan for the family, and it is an especially beautiful experience.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your gift of love that begins a family. Help us to remember that love is from You. In Your Son’s name, amen.

In the World—October 28, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 28 here.


Jamal Khashoggi was a critic of the Saudi government—a fact that led to his self-imposed exile. Nevertheless, he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 to get the papers that would enable him to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Khashoggi never left that Istanbul consulate. Evidence seems to be mounting that he was murdered at the embassy and his dismembered body secretly removed by Saudi officials. It took nearly three weeks for the Saudi government to explain his death. There are widespread doubts about the truth of the account.


When Abraham’s servant arrived in Haran to arrange a marriage for Isaac, the servant was met with gracious hospitality. This was a significantly different welcome than Jamal Khashoggi received! And unlike Khashoggi’s posthumous departure from the Saudi consulate, Rebekah left her home freely, with the blessing of her family. There was one other difference. God’s hand was in what transpired with Rebekah.

  1. Jamal Khashoggi had fled his native Saudi Arabia, but chose to enter sovereign Saudi territory (their embassy in Turkey). Explain his reasons for doing so. Why do you think he would believe that the risk he took was worth it?
  2. What are some marriage customs in our culture that require risks—or at least leaving one’s comfort zones? Why do you believe taking chances for a future spouse is worth it? What part does a faith in God play for believers when they make such commitments?
  3. What do you think prompted Rebekah to accept the marriage offer and leave home for the rest of her life? Leaving home for a far country is a common thread in the story of Abraham and his family. Would you be willing to respond to the call those people received? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

October 28: The Marriage of Isaac (Genesis 24:12-21, 61-67)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Read the following news story to the class:

In April of this year, a Georgia woman was arrested for reckless driving. This incident gained national attention when the body camera footage from one of the officers revealed how the choice between arresting Sarah Webb and giving her a ticket was made.

The video revealed that officers Courtney Brown and Kristee Wilson consulted with one another and decided to determine the fate of Webb by flipping a coin. Webb was arrested but did not know about the coin flip until a local reporter discovered the content of the body camera footage and informed her.

Charges against Webb were dropped. Brown and Wilson were placed on administrative leave and later fired after the incident was fully investigated.

Ask class member why they believe it was just that the officers were fired. (They used a random method in making a decision that affected the life of another.) Talk about when a random decision making is appropriate. (For example, choosing a contest winner, deciding which team kicks off in a football game, etc.) Briefly discuss other methods of making consequential decisions.

After your discussion, lead into Bible study by saying, “There are times in life when we can make random decisions. In those cases, when all options are equal, that may be appropriate. But in other circumstances, people must make crucial choices between options that are not at all equal. The continuation of Abraham’s line required those types of decisions. Let’s see how those involved in that decision behaved.”

To encourage personal application:

Download the “Seeking the Will of God” worksheet here. Make copies for every class member. Distribute the worksheets and briefly review the instructions. Ask class members to use the worksheet as a take-home activity to incorporate into their quiet time next week.

October 23

By 365 Devotions

Onward, Not Inward

But let it be the hidden man of the heart (1 Peter 3:4, KJV).

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:1-9

Song: “I Want a Principle Within”

Although Isaac Watts became well-known for his good hymn writing, he was never known for his good looks. Watts, frail and thin, stood only five-feet tall and had an over-sized head. In fact, when Watts made his only proposal for marriage, the woman refused, stating, “Mr. Watts, I only wish I could admire the [jewelry box] as much as I admire the jewel.” Due to the woman’s fixation on appearance, Watts remained a life-long bachelor.

Peter wrote to believers with guidelines for Christian living. He reminded the believing wives not to place excess value on appearance—hairstyles, jewelry, or clothes—but to value what God values—a holy lifestyle, a right heart, and a meek and quiet spirit. Likewise, Peter urged husbands to honor their wives and to view them as co-laborers in God’s work. He pointed to the example of Abraham and Sarah, who served God together and were greatly used in His plan.

Today, the world wants us to believe that wealth, appearance, and influence are important. However, what the Lord values is far different. When we learn to value what He values and to follow His guidelines, we will find ourselves as prime candidates for His service.

Father, please help us remember that what is most important in life is a heart dedicated to You. In Christ’s name, amen.

October 22

By 365 Devotions

God’s Recipe for a Happy Home

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21, KJV).

Scripture: Ephesians 5:21-33

Song: “Happy the Home When God Is There”

When legendary symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein was asked which instrument was hardest to play, his answer was surprising: “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm—that’s a problem; and if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.”

Bernstein’s point is clear: every orchestra instrument, even those seeming to be less prominent, is important.

Paul pressed this same point to the Ephesian believers when he wrote about the family. God’s recipe for a happy family includes both husbands and wives fulfilling their roles: wives are to follow their husbands’ lead, and husbands are to lead with love. This divine arrangement gives harmony and order to the home. Paul added that marriage is really a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the church: the church should follow Christ’s lead as Christ leads His people in love.

Modern society is often critical of God’s plan for the family. However, the role of “second fiddle” is not intended to exalt one spouse and degrade the other but to give completeness to the home. When we follow God’s guidelines, we will find our family is in complete harmony.

Dear Lord, help us trust Your plan for all our family members. Guide us to serve You together. In Your name, amen.

October 22-28. David Madsen teaches English at a Christian college and enjoys serving in his local church with his wife and four daughters.

October 21

By 365 Devotions

Worn Out Old Bones

I have borne him a son in his old age (Genesis 21:7).

Scripture: Genesis 18:9-15; 21:1-7

Song: “Faith of Our Fathers”

I learned a lot in a six-month period. I started off with a new bionic hip, once recovered I had blood spitting pneumonia. Recovering again, I had a massive stroke that earned me a helicopter ride to Arizona’s only certified stroke hospital. Released after a week I thought I must be finished. Wrong! I was struck by invasive pulmonary embolisms while bathing.

Two of my attending doctors told me that I had been given a miraculous pardon from a death sentence, as death certificates were medical expectations for each diagnosis. To have three during the same period was a guaranteed death certificate.

I mention this medical miracle, because I was blank until recently. I’m glad I can give testimony of what Almighty God can do through broken down, old servants. I’m thankful, and a bit surprised, to be able to “make known among the nations what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).

As it seemed impossible for Almighty God to use Sarah’s old barren body; so it seemed impossible for Him to write through me. But, miracles are a small matter for Him. Our Lord can easily use His children to accomplish what pleases Him no matter their age or physical condition.

Father, I’m thankful for a long and interesting journey. Help me to first seek Your kingdom until I leave this broken shell. In Jesus’ name, amen.

October 20

By 365 Devotions

A Strange Hawaiian Story

The LORD appeared to Abraham (Genesis 18:1).

Scripture: Genesis 18:1-8

Song: “Ring the Bells of Heaven”

The Lord can appear in many ways to His children. A few years ago, I was walking by myself at a Hawaiian resort in golden sunshine filtered through waving palm tree branches. I felt free and at peace as I breathed the graciously provided perfumed air and listened to the melodies of the happy birds.

Suddenly, I heard a voice say: “The Lord giveth and He taketh away.” I ignored the voice because I didn’t want to be disturbed from my reverie. A few steps later, I heard the same words in a much louder and firmer voice. Shocked, that got my attention so I said: “Is that You, Lord?” I felt an affirmation that staggered and dazed me.

As I walked into our condo, my wife met me at the door and said: “Honey, your mother is dying.” Frightened, I called California and asked my sister, who is a nurse, to lay her cell phone on my comatose mother’s breast and I sang the familiar song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” to her as she smiled and went home to be with Jesus.

Mom isn’t blind in one eye anymore. She won’t fall down again and lay there afraid, alone in the dark. She’s with Jesus. I tell myself that the tears that are starting to flow down my face are tears of joy, but it’s really because I miss her.

Dear Lord, thank You that You still appear to Your children in many different ways. In Your name, amen.

October 19

By 365 Devotions

Abraham Broke Into Laughter

Abraham laughed (Genesis 17:17).

Scripture: Genesis 17:15-22

Song: “Blessed Assurance”

Thinkers debate why Abraham laughed. Opinions include: He was happy at the coming prospect of a boy; He doubted God; He was so old he was starting to forget what God had said. Did they have Alzheimer’s back then? Whatever the answer, it’s possible that the true answer is a combination of reasons.

Seeing that Almighty God’s thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), we shouldn’t become trivial pursuit Christians. It is doubtful we will spend our time in Heaven searching for answers to every question. Our souls will be too busy praising the Lord and singing in the heavenly choir. Heaven is the joy and blessing of being with our beloved Lord and Savior.

When I recently walked through the valley of death and was free for the first time from my bodies’ sounds and demands, I was surprised by a beautiful peace that had surrounded me all along without me knowing it. I didn’t want to come back. I understood for the first time why the Lord describes His sheep as being “vapours” (James 4:14, KJV) that will disappear.

Death is nothing to be afraid of as He has conquered death (2 Timothy 1:10). The details that bother us now will be of little importance. Details and whatever we think is so important now will be gone like a fog that’s blown away. Why Abraham laughed probably won’t take up our time.

Heavenly Father, I’m looking forward to when I can be called away from the trials and tribulations of this life. Until then help me to rest in Your Word as sustaining evidence. In Your Son’s name, amen.

October 18

By 365 Devotions

What Really Counts?

Abram believed in the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

Scripture: Genesis 15:1-6

Song: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

Abram was chosen by Almighty God to teach His children, no matter the age in which they might live. His faith took God’s words as a prophecy. If the Father said he would beget a child when he was old, then Abram’s faith was evidence it would happen (Hebrews 11:1).

Abram couldn’t predict the woman trouble he would have by making different women pregnant. He learned about women as he went along and Sarah’s murderous feelings toward Hagar took him by surprise. All he really knew was his Father knew best, no matter the situation. While a person’s life is complicated and flawed, it is ultimately defined by whether they believe God and what He has said or not.

A young boy went away to a college far from home. With a new opportunity to redefine himself and pursue his desires his own way he instead took Matthew 6:33 into his lonely heart and believed what his Lord said; “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.” He lived the next 60 years and found what Abram knew, that the Lord is trustworthy.

Abram’s faith lives in every one of God’s children that walk Abraham’s road.

Dear Father, please help me first seek Your kingdom in all my remaining days. In Jesus’ name, amen.

October 17

By 365 Devotions

Blessed with Faithful Abraham

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit (Galatians 3:14).

Scripture: Galatians 3:6-9, 13, 14

Song: “Redeemed”

Before being beheaded, a converted Iraqi father had been forced to watch his son be beheaded and his head used as a soccer ball. As the father knelt waiting for the fatal blow, he was given one last chance to abandon Christ. With his final breathe he raised his head and loudly declared, “I refuse to abandon the Spirit of Christ.” He and his son were then united in glory.

Abraham’s faith is the path to becoming a new creature (2 Corinthians 15:17), but this path should never be forgotten as leading to the promise of the Spirit, who teaches the nations of the world about Christ Jesus (John 15:26, 27). Born-again believers feel weak and confused when they attempt to live without surrendering to the power of the Spirit they received at salvation (Romans 8:9).

The beauty of Jesus, when seen through the Holy Spirit’s eyes, strengthens terrified hearts and frail bodies. He allows almighty God’s children to pass through trauma that is more than a person can endure. We raise our heads knowing in a heart and soul full of faith that even this too will pass. Walking through the valley of death is a victorious experience for a soul feeling his shepherd’s touch. Hallelujah, we softly utter hallelujah as we go to our promised retirement home.

Father God, we desire to rest in Jesus who is the love of our life. In His name, amen!

October 21: The Birth of the Promised Son (Genesis18:9-15; 21:1-7)

By Teacher Tips

Download the “What’s So Funny” quiz here. Make copies for every class member. As class members arrive, have the copies of the quiz on the chairs so that they can begin immediately. Encourage them to work together, not because it is difficult, but because laughter is better shared!

After giving class members time to work, allow them to share their answers. The correct answers are: 1=d, 2=b, 3=g, 4=k, 5=h, 6=l, 7=i, 8=f, 9=j, 10=a, 11=c, 12=e. Then discuss the activity briefly by asking why we, even as children, liked to tell jokes. What are some elements that make a joke funny?

Lead into Bible study by saying, “We like to tell jokes because we want to give others joy. Wouldn’t we expect God to feel the same way? Jokes are funny because they have punchlines that are unexpected.  Amid the suffering of a broken world, God told a joke that would give ultimate joy. And it was funny because it was so unexpected. Let’s examine the account of the son who was called “Laughter!”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Divide the class into groups of three to five class members each. Give each group pen and paper and assign them to create a diary entry by Sarah based on either Genesis 18:9-15 or Genesis 21:1-7. Each diary entry should have these elements:

  • How Sarah would describe her laughter in this passage with a single word
  • Some thoughts going through Sarah’s mind as she laughed
  • Feeling resulting when others heard Sarah’s laughter

Move among the groups as they work. Help them think through their assignments. Their entries may look like these:

Genesis 18:9-15 laughter—I laughed today. It really wasn’t a good laugh. I think I would call it a skeptical laugh.  It was one of those sneering, bitter laughs that failed to bring warmth but rather a coldness that chilled me to my bones. “What a joke!” I fumed. How could God make such an outrageous promise to someone who has been so deeply disappointed by barrenness? Of course, as soon as my sour chuckle escaped my lips, I was embarrassed by my hostility. When asked if I laughed, I quickly denied it.

Genesis 21:1-7 laughter—I laughed again today. But it was a far different laugh than the one that came from me just nine months earlier. This was not a secret, embarrassed laugh, but one I call my shared laugh. My husband understood my joyous laughter. In fact, Abraham insisted we call the boy Isaac, which means “laughter!” Instead of wallowing in the bitterness of my childless years, I rejoiced in the faithfulness of God who performed an unheard-of miracle! Instead of hiding my laughter, I encouraged others to laugh with me! We now laugh together in the face of any disappointment, sorrow, or pain.  If God could give me a child at my age, could he not wipe away any other challenge people face?

October 16

By 365 Devotions

Wild Man

And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him (Genesis 16:12, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 16:7-16

Song: “Are You Washed in the Blood?”

Sarah had become impatient waiting on the Lord’s promise and her plan to get her maid Hagar pregnant by her husband, Abram, had worked just fine. The baby Hagar later gave birth to was named Ishmael, who was prophesized to become the “wild man” that would be the father of the Arabic people; whereas, Sarah’s son Isaac would become the father of the Jewish people. These two lines from Abram’s loins have been at war ever since.

Both lines have a spiritual ruler that works in everyone who is not born again. As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:1-2).

Every born-again child of God has the Holy Spirit living within their soul (Romans 8:9). This blessed gift from our Father God is a gift with a dangerous responsibility as without the Spirit’s control the believer’s flesh will take over and produce a wild man (Galatians 5:16-25).

Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16, KJV).

Father, help me to walk today in Your Spirit and not the lusts of my flesh. In Jesus name, amen.

In the World—October 21, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 21 here.


Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor, has been imprisoned for two years in Turkey. He was charged with spying and aiding terrorists. Supporters have said the charges were without merit. Through an email campaign, they have encouraged American Christians to pray for Brunson’s release. Their hope was that this would put pressure on both American and Turkish governments to work toward setting him free. The President, Vice President, and several members of Congress have all become active in the cause. This pressure—and some accompanying incentives—resulted in Brunson’s release on October 11.


Sometimes our hope is rewarded only after a long wait. For Andrew Brunson, it was two years. For Abraham and Sarah, it was ten years. Sometimes we may give up hope, as Sarah apparently had. Her disbelieving laughter when divine messengers promised Abraham their long-hoped-for son would be born within a year indicates this. When she became pregnant a few months later, her hope surely began to grow. But perhaps even then, it might have seemed so surreal as to cause lingering doubts.

  1. Which, if either, do you think were more important in getting Brunson released: the prayers of Christians or the diplomatic efforts? Explain your answer.
  2. Some Christians seem to rely solely on prayer; others rely primarily on human activity. What would you say to Christians in either group to help them have a more balanced view?
  3. Does Sarah’s laughter indicate a lack of faith and/or hope? If your life circumstances were like hers, how would you have responded to the promise? Why?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.


October 15

By 365 Devotions

A Life Needs Purpose

O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people (Psalm 105:1, KJV).

Scripture: Psalm 105:1-11

Song: “I Love to Tell the Story”

Without purpose depression germinates into a nasty weed-like companion.

Retirement is an eagerly awaited day for most people. Our builder son told me he wanted to retire by forty. I told him that a permanent vacation sounds good, but I had discovered it was boring. There are just so many fine meals and resorts before depression begins to set in if a person doesn’t have a purpose for living.

A Christian is never supposed to completely retire. God’s children are to: call upon His name, talk with their Lord and shepherd, give thanks to Him and live with grateful hearts and mouths, and testify to His deeds every day in every way.

We must find what gives purpose to our lives, whether we are still working or not. A born-again believer has the Spirit of God living within, and He will be frustrated if we aren’t branch-like channels for the vine’s life. We must live out the power, love, and sound mind we were given at our second-birth birthday party: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV).

Father God, please work within my soul that I might wish to do and be able to complete what pleases You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

October 1–21. Robert (Bob) Segress is a retired licensed psychotherapist, who also served as a pastor, college professor, and upon retiring a prison minister.

October 14

By 365 Devotions

Never Stop Following God

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran (Genesis 12:4).

Scripture: Genesis 11:10, 27, 31, 32; 12:1-4

Song: “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

Daniel Boone kept moving. Born in Pennsylvania, his family moved to North Carolina. North Carolina became too crowded, so he blazed a new trail from North Carolina to the undeveloped land of Kentucky. Late in his life, when others his age were sick or dying, he moved out to the semi-tamed wilderness of Missouri.

At an age when most people settle down, Abram packed up his family and headed to entirely new lands. Not because of a sense of wanderlust, but an abiding faith in God. When God called Abram followed, no matter his age or circumstances.

New situations and locations present their own challenges and opportunities. When we follow God’s lead He provides and equips us to meet any challenges, growing us and transforming us in the process. We never need to fear the unknown or new challenges when we are moving in obedience to God.

God never wants us to settle. We always need to be ready to fol- low His call to the next ministry opportunity. To follow God in faith is a true adventure, but a sure one, as we are in God’s hands. Let us eagerly seek God’s call and direction.

O God in Heaven, You made us for a purpose. Let us seek Your calling and surrender our lives for You to fulfill Your purpose in us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

October 13

By 365 Devotions

Looking Back and Looking Forward

For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10, KJV).

Scripture: Hebrews 11:4-12

Song: “Faith of Our Fathers”

Jonathan Edwards was both a renowned preacher and a godly man, bequeathing with his wife Sarah a Christian legacy to their 11 children. Starting from this foundation of faith, the descendants of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards include one U.S. Vice President, three Senators, 30 judges, and over 100 each of missionaries and lawyers. This family of faith has lasted throughout many generations.

Some of us have great foundations of faith in our ancestors, while others of us may resemble Abraham, striking out to establish a new legacy of following God. In the first case, we can take what was handed to us and build on it. In the second case, we can set a foundation for our descendants.

The builder and maker of our faith is always God. Whether or not we were born into a family of faith, we can look forward to the city of faith secured for us in Christ. We do not control what foundation was bequeathed us. But all of us have a foundation built on the truth of God in Christ. We are given the opportunity to build further for future generations.

Any time is the best time to start building a family legacy of faith. We can invest in future generations, looking forward to that future day.

Dear God, You have given us all a legacy of faith, whether through our family or our church brethren. Help us stand on the shoulders of these spiritual giants and take the next steps in following You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

October 12

By 365 Devotions

Milestones Are Not Destinations

Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev (Genesis 12:9).

Scripture: Genesis 12:5-9

Song: “All the Way My Savior Leads Me”

The Butler University men’s basketball team was always competitive for a smaller program, but they attained a new level of success in the 1990s. They reached the NCAA tournament consistently, and even made it to the Sweet Sixteen in 2003 and 2007.

But just reaching the tournament was not enough. They worked harder, developed skilled players, and playing against the biggest programs in the country, came within a basket of winning the national championship in 2010.

God called Abram to a special land far away. When he and his family left Ur, his father went to Haran, but God was leading Abram farther. Along the way, he would build altars and worship God, but these were not the destinations God had in mind. Abram kept going as far as God was leading him.

We should see progress in both ministry efforts and internal transformation of our lives when we are working as God intended. We can even meet significant milestones in our journey as markers of our success.

Our journey with God may be long, with periods of rest along the way. However, rest should never be confused with our final destination. Our pilgrimage is not so much a physical journey as a path through life as we allow God to keep working within us. We must keep following God’s leading right into His permanent Sabbath rest.

Heavenly Father, we delight in our journey with You. Lead us into times of movement and rest as needed, setting milestones by Your guidance. In Christ, amen.

October 11

By 365 Devotions

Divided by Language, United by God

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:9, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 11:1-9

Song: “O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”

“I have nothing to wear.” These words, used by men and women, can convey entirely different meanings. According to the old joke, the husband means, “I have nothing clean to wear,” but the same words mean to the wife, “I have nothing new to wear.”

If we can assign different meanings to the same words, understanding each other becomes challenging. Then add potential interpretations assigned on the receiving end, and effective communication can seem impossible.

When God confused the languages at Babel, giving them different tongues to speak, communication was hopelessly confused. Mankind spread almost by default, to segregate into like-speaking groups.

Yet this apparently hopeless division was temporary. God caused the gospel to be proclaimed in many languages at Pentecost, so that each person could hear God’s message in their own language. What had been divided by human sin was united by the Spirit of God.

God uses us to enrich those around us. No special gift or ability is required. God has already gifted us to work in His Spirit. Just as the humblest plant adds value within creation, we can work within the church to bear fruit through God’s Spirit.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your Spirit who unites us even as so many things in this world can divide us. Help us to overcome language and other barriers to achieve true unity in You. In our Savior’s name, amen.

October 10

By 365 Devotions

Growing from Small to Large

These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth (Genesis 9:19).

Scripture: Genesis 9:18, 19; 10:1-4, 6-8, 21-23

Song: “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”

A common cartoon scenario is for a child to build a snowball at the top of a hill and give it a push. As it rolls down the hill, the snowball picks up snow and grows in size. It becomes a massive snow boulder catching everything in its path, including people.

Our efforts may seem small and even insignificant. We may despair at not having an impact in the world. But God is taking that effort and growing it, adding people and shaping it in ways that we never could. Our small efforts can result in huge advances of the kingdom of God, even if we are unaware of the impact.

Sometimes our efforts will be generational. We may start a ministry, only to hand it off to the next generation who then takes it to the next level. We are to practice patience when the effort goes slowly, and persevere in faith to the end.

Let us seek to do good for the kingdom of God, to work with God to build His kingdom. God will take our small efforts and use them in a mighty way. There are no small works in God’s economy.

O God in Heaven, we feel so very small in this world, especially when we focus on the tasks before us. Let us keep our eyes on You, and not be fearful, because You can use our small efforts to make everlasting impacts. In Your name we pray, amen.

In the World—October 14, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 14 here.


Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court last week by the narrowest margin since Stanley Matthews was confirmed in 1881. Motivating the highly partisan Senate’s actions were the fears of some and the hopes of others that the Court will be moving in a new direction philosophically. Such a change may determine the kind of nation America will be in the future. The intensity of emotion involved in the matter was evident in angry statements made by many Senators and enraged demonstrations that took place as the hearings proceeded.


When God called Abram, he was also concerned about the future: What kind of world would this become if the sinful direction of humanity continued unchecked? Abram’s task would be to change the course of history by acting on his faith in God. He was called to father a new nation—a family which would grow into a worldwide people whose lives were characterized by faith.

  1. In a nation angrily divided over the views of what it should become, how should Christians act?
  2. What does Proverbs 15:1 suggest about how God wants us to behave in such circumstances? What part does praying for our leaders (2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2) have in helping to turn our nation toward God?
  3. How does Abram’s response to God’s call challenge you to be more faith-filled? In what way have you answered God’s call to faithfully step out in a new direction in your life?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

October 9

By 365 Devotions

The Promise after the Storm

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth (Genesis 9:13).

Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17

Song: “A Shelter in the Time of Storm”

While on vacation, the radar showed a bright red band of severe weather heading toward us. We returned to our rental house and prepared to ride out the storm. Although the sky was black, we dodged the severe weather and were then blessed to see a double rainbow arching over the bay.

While enjoying the view, we were reminded that rainbows are prisms reflecting the sunlight through water vapor. While we were all looking at the same rainbow, we each technically see a slightly different rainbow because we are viewing it from slightly different angles.

God made a covenant with Noah and his family, and used the rainbow as a sign of remembrance, for both God and man, of God’s promise. But this covenant, just like the rainbow, is both a community promise and an individual promise. God made this promise to all of mankind, and He personally makes the promise to each one of us.

As important as community is, we need to appropriate God’s promises personally into our lives. The rainbow is God’s personal invitation for us to join the community of believers in endless praise and thankfulness for what God has done for us in bringing us through all situations in life.

Heavenly Father, You remind us of Your mercy and everlasting love in many ways, but also frequently after a storm, when Your rainbow is in the sky. Let us always turn to You whenever we encounter storms of any kind. In Christ’s name, amen.

October 14: The Call of Abram (Genesis 10:1; 11:10, 27, 31, 32; 12:1-4)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Family Tree” activity here. Make a copy for each class member. Distribute copies and pens and have class members try to trace back their lineage as far as they can. After five minutes, ask class members to share how many generations back they can trace.

Lead into Bible study saying, “We might be able to trace our ancestry back a few generations. With research, we may be able to go back a few generations more.  But in Genesis we can trace the work of God in a family beginning with the flood and continuing forever!”

To encourage personal application:

Write Galatians 3:7 on the board: “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.”

Briefly discuss how we can continue a family legacy of faith into the next generation. Ask, “Can you think of a time in your family history in which faith in the God of Abraham marked a turning point for your family?”

Distribute paper and pens. Close this session by asking class members to write a short letter to the next generation describing that turning point. Encourage them to follow that example of faith.

October 8

By 365 Devotions

The Power of Potential

As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it. (Genesis 9:7)

Scripture: Genesis 9:1-7

Song: “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations”

When Steve Jobs was building computers in his garage, he was not aware that he was building a global corporation delivering useful technological devices to people. He had a dream that was not yet realized. Only effort and potential existed at that stage.

When Noah and his family exited the ark, God blessed them and commanded them to multiply and spread throughout the earth. That command must have seemed a dream to the eight people alive. Yet mankind quickly grew in number, and after additional encouragement from God, spread throughout the earth.

We can sometimes feel inadequate to achieve our calling. However, we can always take comfort in knowing that whenever God calls us to a task, He equips us to succeed. We might be stretched or need to step out in faith, but God will enable us to complete His will for our lives.

If human beings can build great organizations in their own strength, imagine the potential when we let God work through our lives. God can do marvelous works when we submit our efforts to God’s plan.

Dear Lord, Help me to discard my perceived limitations and reach for Your vision for my life. Guide me and direct me to make the fullest use of the gifts which You have given me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

October 8–14. Terry Magee lives with his wife in Pennsylvania where he actively teaches at his church. Each day he seeks to better practice walking with God.

October 7

By 365 Devotions

A Ship without a Steering Wheel

This is how you are to build it (Genesis 6:15).

Scripture: Genesis 6:9b-22

Song: “He Leadeth Me”

Leif Eriksson sailed his Viking ship with a tiller. Both Magellan and the pilgrims on the Mayflower steered their ships with a whipstaff attached to the tiller. “Old Ironsides” and the Titanic were steered by a steering wheel. But Noah had no such device for his ark.

God gave Noah exact instructions for the ark that included its size and features such as the roof, door, and decks. But God gave no instructions for a steering device. Noah and his family were to trust the Lord as helmsman of the ark. So if Noah thought that the ark was headed directly for a mountain he would have to trust the Lord. And Noah would trust God to steer the ark to a safe place to land as well.

We often like to be in control. This might lead us to make plans for where we will work or live. We make a to-do list that maps out our day. But the reality is that the Lord is the one steering the ship of our life. It’s not easy to take our hands off the rudder. But that is exactly what trusting the Lord looks like. Look to God today and let Him steer your life.

Dear Lord, I trust Your control of my life. Even though I like to be in control, I will let go of the steering wheel and let You take me where I am to go. In Your name, amen.

October 6

By 365 Devotions

A Fresh Start

Bring out every kind of living creature . . . so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it (Genesis 8:17).

Scripture: Genesis 8:1-5, 13-19

Song: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

My friend was having a bad morning with his young son. From the moment the boy had gotten out of bed, he had been angry and uncooperative. By breakfast time, my friend had had enough. “That’s it! I want you to go back to bed, then get up and start this day over.”

The boy stomped up to his room with tears streaming down his face. After a few moments of pleasurable silence, he appeared with a smile. “I’m ready for school now!” he said.

My friend was amazed and said, “I guess all he needed was a fresh start.”

Through the flood God gave mankind a fresh start. God’s words, “Be fruitful and increase in number” signified a new start and reflect the same command for Adam and Eve.

God makes opportunity for fresh starts. When we come to Christ for salvation, He forgives us and makes us a new creation. When we feel stagnant in our Christian walk, Christ can give us something new to jumpstart our faith. Fresh starts are so close to God’s heart that he has built them into our world. Each season is a fresh start. Each sunrise is a fresh start. “For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22, 23).

Dear Lord, I pray that today would be a fresh start. In Your name, amen.

October 5

By 365 Devotions

You Have Been Wiped Clean

Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out (Genesis 7:23).

Scripture: Genesis 7:17-24

Song: “Nothing but the Blood”

I can always tell when one of my kids has a bowl of cereal. First of all there is the trail from the pantry to their spot at the table. Then there are the splashes and splatters of milk around their bowl. When I call them back to the table to wipe up their spills, their wiping job is haphazard and incomplete since they are in a hurry to get the job done.

When the Lord wiped every living thing from the face of the earth, He did a thorough job. He didn’t leave any living thing alive. And the flood waters went above and beyond—literally. Even the mountain tops were covered. When the Lord wipes, He does it completely and perfectly!

At the time of our salvation, we can know and feel that we have been cleansed from our sin. But as time wears on, we might not feel clean. Maybe we start to wonder if we really are cleansed from our sin. But the truth is that when Christ wipes away our sin, He does so thoroughly and completely. He doesn’t leave any splashes or splatters of guilt or disgrace.

Even if we do not feel completely clean, the fact is that we have been washed with the blood of Christ and now we stand before God in perfect confidence that we have been purified by Him.

Dear Lord, I want to bask in the knowledge that You have cleansed me completely from sin. In Your name, amen

October 4

By 365 Devotions

Noah’s Hope Chest

On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark (Genesis 7:13).

Scripture: Genesis 7:11-16

Song: “Speak, O Lord”

Before I was married, my family threw me a wedding shower. Wow, was I surprised! I opened gifts of dishes, towels, and other things I would need to set up house. After the shower, we packed the things away in a plastic storage tub that we laughingly called the “hope chest” since I didn’t have a traditional cedar-lined wooden chest. Even though it wasn’t fancy, that tub held just as well the things my husband-to-be and I needed for our future life in our own home.

In a similar way, God gifted Noah and his family with the “hope chest” of an ark equipped with all they would need for life on the ark and obedience to God’s commands. And for us, God supplies what we need for life and our obedience to His instruction for our lives. We have the Holy Spirit and Scripture. We are given the church community to help sustain us. Obedience may not be easy, but we are capable of obeying because of God’s thorough and constant equipping.

Dear Lord, thank You for equipping me for obedience. May I say “yes” to obeying You. In Your name, amen.

October 3

By 365 Devotions

What Are You Waiting For?

And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth (Genesis 7:10).

Scripture: Genesis 7:6-10

Song: “The Waiting”

Packing for vacation takes a long time. There are lists to make, things to purchase, and things to gather. But once the preparations are finally complete, it’s time to stuff the suitcases into the rooftop carrier and stack the coolers and pillows and blankets just so in the trunk. The kids get buckled into their car seats and the tunes are blaring on the radio. Dad gets into the driver seat, shuts the door and . . . sits in the driveway for 7 days before pulling out onto the road.

That is not how we normally start our vacations, but that is sort of what happened to Noah and his family when they were vacating their home. After long preparations and hard work, they waited for 7 days in the ark before the flood waters came. How did Noah’s family react to the waiting? We don’t know. All we know is that they had to wait.

Waiting is part of life: for the birth of a child, for retirement, for winter to get here, and for winter to be over. Waiting is also part of the Christian life: for God’s provision, for His guidance, for Christ’s return. What can we do in a season of waiting? Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.”

When we wait patiently, we reflect our God who in His loving kindness patiently waits for each part of His plan to unfold at just the right time.

Dear God, In times of waiting, still my heart to wait patiently for You and trust in Your perfect timing. In Your name I pray, amen.

In the World—October 7, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 7 here.


An Air Niugini airliner crashed just off the Pacific island of Weno a week ago. During heavy rain and with low visibility, the plane fell short of the runway as it was landing on the small island in Micronesia. As the plane began to sink, local fishermen and other boatmen rushed to the site. An accident that could have brought death in the ocean had an unexpectedly happy ending. Forty-six passengers and the crew were saved; only one person was reported missing.


God told Noah to build a huge boat. In this ark, Noah and his family could be saved from the flood that was coming. Perhaps even more significant is the New Testament commentary on the event. Peter says that the eight people who took refuge in the ark were saved by means of the waters of the flood (1 Peter 3:20). By destroying the sinful society in which Noah’s family lived, the waters of the flood saved them from their culture’s path of self-destruction.

  1. The Micronesian plane crash was caused by a severe storm and an inability to see where the plane was heading. How do those two factors figuratively describe reasons for many societal problems today?
  2. Is the world less evil today than it was in Noah’s time? Why or why not? Why do you think God hasn’t acted more recently to destroy human wickedness as he did in the days of Noah?
  3. The culture of Noah’s day was completely corrupt, yet Noah stood out as righteous despite the unrighteousness all around him. Do Christians today offer the same contrast to culture as Noah did? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

October 7: The Righteousness of Noah (Genesis 6:9b-22)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Find a sample family emergency plan template on sites such as these:

Make copies of one or more of these plans and distribute one to each class member. Give them a few minutes to review the document. Then discuss it with these questions:

  1. Do you have a family emergency plan? What elements of this plan would you incorporate into your family emergency plan?
  2. Why are such plans helpful? Why might many not take the time to make such a plan?
  3. What other elements would you include in such a plan?

Lead into Bible study by, “Disasters happen. It seems wise to identify possible threats and to look for ways to respond to them. God told Noah of an impending disaster and what to do about it.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “Noah—Chief Safety Officer” activity here. Make copies for each group of three to five students. Distribute these copies and give groups about 15 minutes to complete the activity according to the printed instructions.

The expected answers are:

  • Refuse to become complacent due to the apathy of others (v. 9b).
  • Prepare your children for what is to come, not just yourself (v. 10).
  • Be listening to reliable authority for early warnings (vv. 11-13).
  • Use materials that will withstand the expected disaster (v. 14).
  • Think big! Make sure that your supplies are more than adequate for what is to come (vv. 15, 16).
  • Expect the worst (v. 17).
  • Understand the statutes that will govern rebuilding (v. 18; see also 9:1-1).
  • Know how the recovery will be sustained and prepare accordingly (vv. 19, 20).
  • Prepare for expected shortages of supplies after the disaster passes (vv. 21-22).

October 2

By 365 Devotions

Positional Righteousness in Action

And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him (Genesis 7:5).

Scripture: Genesis 7:1-5

Song: “Trust and Obey”

If you told me that you were a teacher, I would know your job position. But it wouldn’t be until I watched you teach that I would see evidence of your position.

Noah was called “righteous.” Here we are shown the truth of Noah’s righteous position by his sacrificial worship and complete obedience.

God provided Noah with seven pairs of clean animals. Why did he need so many? At this point in time, the distinction between clean and unclean related to animal sacrifice in worship since the Lord did not give clean animals for food until after the flood. God provided for the lifestyle of sacrificial worship that Noah had already established.

Noah’s righteousness was also manifested by complete obedience. He did all that the Lord commanded.

If you are a Christian, your righteous status can be expressed in the same way that Noah’s was: through sacrificial worship and complete obedience. We are not sacrificing animals today. But there is still sacrifice in our worship through tithes and offerings and time set aside for worship on Sunday morning and throughout the week.

When God is convicting you of His commands, obey with your whole heart. Not just halfway by skipping the parts you don’t like, but obeying all that the Lord commands.

Heavenly Father, show me how I can worship you sacrificially. Show me where I need to obey completely. In Jesus’ name, amen.

October 1

By 365 Devotions

We’re Debt Free!!

The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on earth (Genesis 6:5).

Scripture: Genesis 6:1-8

Song: “In His Time”

One popular call-in show is about finances and paying off personal debt. Callers often share their success stories: “Before we started listening to your show, we didn’t know how much debt we had. When we finally listed them out, we were overwhelmed! Some major changes had to be made to set things right! So we got extra jobs and we sold a lot of stuff. Now the debt is gone! We’re debt free!”

When the Lord looked out over the world He had created, He looked at the balance of mankind’s accounts and found the debt of wickedness was far too great. Something drastic had to be done. When God says He regrets that He had made humans, He does not mean that He changed his mind about creation. Rather, in His perfect justice, He needed to call in the debts. This is not the only time the Lord in His justice took drastic measures to settle accounts. He sent plagues when the Israelites were disobedient. The earth swallowed Korah and his rebellious followers. Assyria and Babylon conquered God’s wayward people. And in Revelation, God has revealed His future plans for ridding the world of wickedness.

In moments of despair, we wonder if our God notices the wickedness on the earth that is both far and near. But we can trust His perfect justice and His perfect timing for enacting His justice.

Dear Lord, turn my heart of despair into a heart that trusts in Your perfect justice. In Jesus’ name, amen.

October 1–7. Rachel Schmoyer is a minister’s wife from Whitehall, PA.

September 30

By 365 Devotions

The Blame Game

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12).

Scripture: Genesis 3:8-17, 20-24

Song: “Search Me, O God”

When growing up, playing with friends and my two sisters was usually a fun time. Mom often released us into the neighborhood with two words: “Play nice.” But many times, the other kids didn’t. An innocent game of tag could deteriorate into pushing, shoving, and yelling. When things escalated, Mom stormed out of the house to break up the brawl.

That’s when a chorus of “She started it!” and “He made me!” rose above the fray.

We expect that kind of reaction from children when they do wrong, but adults do it too. It started with our first parents in the Garden of Eden. When God asked Adam if he had eaten from the forbidden tree, Adam pointed the finger at Eve. Eve pointed the finger at the serpent, who had tempted her with a bite (v. 13).

It’s true that something or someone can incite us to give in to temptation and sin, but the decision is ours alone. We’re not little kids. We must accept the blame for what we’ve done wrong, knowing that God will never turn us away. As He covered Adam and Eve with garments after they sinned (v. 21), so He covers our sins with the blood of Jesus.

Father, when You convict me of wrongdoing, forgive me when I shift blame to someone else. Help me live honestly and openly before You and receive Your forgiveness. In Christ, amen.

September 29

By 365 Devotions

Did God Really Say?

[The serpent] said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

Scripture: Genesis 3:1-7

Song: “Trust and Obey”

I’ve never heard such an emphatic answer from God. Laid off a job and finding no work, I asked if I would compromise His plans if I sought temporary employment. His resounding “Yes!” stopped me in my job-searching tracks.

Why does God want me to wait when I’m running out of money? I wondered. When I told a Christian friend what God had told me, she stared at me as if to say, “Are you sure?” Momentarily, I questioned the wisdom of waiting, but still held on.

Two weeks after that prayer time, my dream job came along— one God had been preparing for me. Had I ignored His voice and found other employment, I would have missed His best for me.

God has given more serious directives in His Word, not just to guide our steps but to steer us clear of sin. He spoke one to Adam and Eve: Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16, 17). But once the serpent cast a doubt in her mind, Eve fell to ruin, and then Adam.

It’s easy to question what God has told us clearly to do or not to do. If we don’t heed His words, we undermine His authority and bring disaster on ourselves. We receive God’s best only when we obey no matter what.

Dear Father, I want to know Your voice so I can distinguish the voice of the enemy. Help me to obey You, even when it doesn’t make sense. In Christ’s name, amen.

September 28

By 365 Devotions

This is a Test

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).

Scripture: James 1:12-15

Song: “A Shelter in the Time of Storm”

A radio broadcast is interrupted by several short beeps, followed by a voice announcing, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.” The test ensures that the alert system is working correctly so that, in the event of an actual emergency, we can be notified of what to do.

A voice in Scripture sounds much like that of the Emergency Broadcast System. “This is a test,” James says in our reading today. He’s not referring to an alert that will notify us of an impending storm; he’s referring to the storm itself. A trial has slammed into our lives with hurricane force: a dreaded disease, a debilitating addiction, marital unfaithfulness, a financial setback. It shakes the very foundations of our faith. Every day we battle raging winds of anxiety and rising waters of fear.

What can we do during the test? Persevere, James says. Ride the storm out. But when we look to ourselves, we find no adequate resources to help. That’s when we turn to the words of the apostle Paul, based on many a tempest in his life: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13, KJV).

We will survive and thrive in the storm, safe in the everlasting arms of Jesus.

Father, this storm frightens me, and I want out. Help me take hold of You, knowing You take hold of me and won’t let go. In Christ, amen.

September 27

By 365 Devotions

The Power of Influence

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea (Mark 9:42).

Scripture: Mark 9:42-48

Song: “Jesus Loves the Little Children”

My mind occasionally goes back to the Sunday my nephew James was dedicated to the Lord. Family and friends stood behind him and his mother, Sue, a single parent, while the minister charged my sister with her responsibilities. Among them, to teach James the fear of the Lord, watch over his education, direct his mind to the Scriptures, and guide his feet to the sanctuary. The minister also admonished the congregation to help Sue and do their part in nurturing James toward spiritual maturity.

Today James is a committed Christian young man, thanks in part to his mother. She took to heart every word of that dedication ceremony. To her, this wasn’t just a ritual but a reminder of how seriously God considers our influence on little ones.

Influencing children is not the work of parents alone. All Christian adults should heed Jesus’ words of warning regarding our example to young lives. Do we revere God? Do we study the Bible? Is it changing our lives and shaping our decisions? Do we worship in His house regularly? Many people will enter the lives of little ones and turn their eyes from Jesus. With God’s help, we won’t be one of them.

Lord, I dedicate myself to be the example I need to be to children. Keep me from doing anything to make them stumble. In Christ, amen.

September 26

By 365 Devotions

The Prayer Punch

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he [Jesus] was hungry (Matthew 4:2).

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11

Song: “Nearer My God to Thee”

My friend Lois once told me, “The Lord takes prayer and fasting seriously.” She should know. Lois’s husband died when their two sons were 12 and 14. After his death, she fasted every Friday morning for wisdom in raising them on her own. Though Satan raised many a doubt in her mind, God heard those prayers. Today, Lois’ sons are devoted Christians, with wives and family members following the Lord.

Satan also takes prayer and fasting seriously, but in a different way. He sees it as an opportunity to strike a blow against us, just as he did with Jesus. At the end of a 40-day fast, when Jesus was hungry, the tempter put Him through the paces of three temptations. Jesus countered each one with the truths of Scripture—and won.

Satan didn’t realize the spiritual principle our Lord illustrated: Though a person is weakened physically through fasting, he is strengthened spiritually. Time spent in giving up food is a time for drawing closer to God.

Due to health issues, not everyone can refuse food in a fast. But all of us can give up something important to us—social media, a TV program, a sports activity—and spend that time in prayer. Doing so sharpens our spiritual senses, making us alert to the devil’s lies and to the truths of God’s Word that silence him.

Father, draw near to me as I draw near to You in fasting and prayer. In Christ, amen.

September 25

By 365 Devotions

Grace for the Grave

For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Romans 5:15).

Scripture: Romans 5:12-19

Song: “Amazing Grace”

A local cemetery isn’t on my list of favorite places to visit, but the deaths of my parents in the last two years summoned me there. I walked among row after row of marble slabs, standing as silent reminders about every human being—that though we live, we will one day die.

I read dates and names on those headstones, but no cause of death. What brought the end of life to these people? I thought of disease, accidents, war, murder, and suicide. But in Romans, Paul gives the real cause for death: Adam’s sin.

Just one taste of forbidden fruit back in Eden ushered in the fall of humanity and with it, death in all its horrid forms. This news would be bleak indeed if Paul stopped there, but he doesn’t: We have the gift of grace in the Second Adam. It stands as a reminder about every believer—that though we die, we will one day live. Thank God, the grave isn’t the end of the road for those who embrace the grace of Christ!

Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son, who conquered sin and the grave so we can live forever with You. In His name, amen.

September 30: God Confronts Sin (Genesis 3:8-17, 20-24)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download “The Big Problem” puzzle here. Make copies for every class member. Give each class member a copy and access to a pen. Allow class members to work together to find the words in the grid and reveal the hidden message. That message is, “Sin corrupts everything every time.”

Read through the lesson text together, a paragraph at a time. Have class members point out how the sin of Adam and Eve corrupted specific aspects of the perfectly good world God created.

To encourage personal application:

Write these four headings across the top of the board:

Person vs. God         Person vs. Person         Person vs. Self         Person vs. Nature

Say, “All stories in books, movies or television, or in real life deal with one or more of these four conflicts. Let’s name some conflicts that would fit under each category.”

As class members brainstorm, place their responses under one of these four categories. Point out how each conflict relates in some way to conflicts first noted in our lesson text.

To close the class session, have class members prayerfully consider an example of one of those conflicts in their lives. Allow a time of silent, individual prayer in which class members confess personal sin and ask God for strength and direction in resolving these conflicts.

In the World—September 30, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 30 here.


When Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit, they set in motion a series of circumstances that still control the world. By disobeying God, they twisted their relationship with him and distorted their relationship with each other. Not only that, the whole creation was changed for the worse. Paradise became polluted with the effects of their disobedience. It’s apparent that what we see in the news daily is both a replication of that first sin in a myriad of forms and the consequences of it.


The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh illustrate the point. Questions abound: Did a drunken 17-year-old Kavanaugh attack a classmate? Is now-university professor Christine Blasey-Ford either mistaken or lying about what happened long ago? What motivated Senator Feinstein to withhold the information in the professor’s letter until the hearings were all but over? Are Senators of both parties more interested in partisan power than in truth? Is the press selectively reporting the matter, each network from its own bias? When/if it’s a matter of “he said, she said,” how do any of us know what to believe?

  1. Thinking of any of the various scenarios that may play out, how do you think these hearings will affect future nominations for the Supreme Court? Explain.
  2. Supposing the behavior of both Kavanaugh and Blasey-Ford in the incident thirty-five years ago was as alleged, how does this relate to immature, impulsive decision-making in all lives?
  3. The existence of splintered relationships can certainly be seen in today’s partisan divides. How can we work to heal such divides rather than making them deeper?
  4. How does the sin of Adam and Eve affect us personally? In what ways is their sin like your sins and mine?

   —Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 24

By 365 Devotions

Right Place, Wrong Time

David remained in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1).

Scripture: 2 Samuel 11:1-5

Song: “I Need Thee Every Hour”

A swinging nightclub. A neighborhood bar. An adult entertainment establishment. These are hotbeds for temptation that can lead to sin.

King David’s story tells us that falling into sin can happen anywhere—even at home. Jerusalem was not exactly a sin city, and David’s palace was not a house of prostitution. But at the time of year when kings went to war, David did not. Israel’s commander-in-chief stayed home when he should have been on the battlefield. And it set the stage for his undoing.

In our text, David moves from seeing Bathsheba from the palace roof to desiring her, and finally to sleeping with her. The adultery they commit and David’s shrewd arrangement of Uriah’s death (v. 15) proved disastrous.

We are wise to shun locales that God obviously does not approve of. However, temptation can lurk in less obvious places, and the timing of our being there can open us up to it. For example, we stay late at the workplace when we should be home. We stay home when the family is gone; leaving the computer available for browsing. We spend time at a friend’s house when we should be in school.

We can avoid the same mistake David made by seeking God’s wisdom to keep us where we need to be, when we need to be there.

Lord, help me be alert that Satan can strike anywhere, anytime, even when I think I’m safe. In Christ, amen.

September 24–30. Sherri Langton is a magazine editor and workshop speaker at Christian writers conferences. She enjoys playing drums and percussion at her church, as well as walking and swimming. Sherri lives in Denver, CO.

September 23

By 365 Devotions

God Invading Our Loneliness

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

Scripture: Genesis 2:18-24; 4:1, 2

Song: “When God Made You”

Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals once sang, “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long.”

Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway confessed, “Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.”

Scientist Albert Einstein wrote, “It is strange to be known so universally, and yet to be so lonely.”

Author Ernest Hemingway wrote, “I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead and there is no current to plug into.”

After Adam worked his way through the dazzling beauty of a bluebird and the elegance of a black stallion, he was still alone. So, God, the giver of all good gifts, made a woman and brought her to Adam. Adam responded with joyous exaltation. Only our Creator, who knows us to the depths, can provide for us what we need to flourish and experience true joy. Look to Him for your joy in companionship.

Omniscient Father, I thank You that as long as I have Your steadfast love I am never truly alone. In the name of Jesus, amen.

September 22

By 365 Devotions

When Listening Improves Our Vision

Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it (Genesis 4:7).

Scripture: Genesis 4:3-12

Song: “Search Me O God”

My friend Don was ready to leave for work when his wife asked, “You’re not going to wear that are you?”

Puzzled, Don replied, “I certainly am. Why? What’s wrong with what I have on?”

“You have on a black shirt with blue pants,” his wife keenly observed.

“No, these are black pants,” Don insisted.

A couple of weeks passed and Don began to experience a problem with his vision. After consulting an optician, Don learned that he had cataracts in both eyes. This condition often hinders one’s ability to make accurate color distinctions. It appears that Don was wearing blue pants after all.

God warned Cain that sin was crouching at the door, like a crafty tiger hunkered down in the tall grass waiting for the unsuspecting gazelle. But like my friend Don, Cain couldn’t see it. Like Cain, we need a word from God to point out the sin we can’t see. Perhaps if we listen better we shall better see the sin that crouches, waiting for us.

Heavenly Father, speak to me through Your Word, and may I both hear and see how to respond. Through Christ, amen.

September 21

By 365 Devotions

Helping Others Get Out Alive

The end of all things is near (1 Peter 4:7).

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:7-11

Song: “Rescue the Perishing”

A New York Times article titled, “How to Get Out Alive: What the Science of Evacuation Reveals About How Humans Behave in the Worst of Times,” tells what researchers have learned about evacuation from disaster survivors.

In the case of the doomed World Trade Towers, those who made it out waited for an average of 6 minutes before evacuating. Some lingered as long as half an hour. They stayed to call relatives, shut down computers, and help or talk with coworkers.

One woman, Elia Zedeno, who was on the 73rd floor of Tower One, said she, “heard a booming explosion and felt the building actually lurch to the south, as if it might topple.”

You might expect that her next instinct was to flee. But she had the opposite reaction. “What I really wanted was for someone to scream back, ‘Everything is OK! Don’t worry. It’s in your head.’” Fortunately, at least one of Zedeno’s colleagues responded differently. “The answer I got was another coworker screaming, ‘Get out of the building!’” Years later, she still thinks about that command. “My question is, what would I have done if the person had said nothing?”

This world is going to end. The Bible promises it will happen when people least expect it. But God’s Word also gives clear directions on “How To Get Out Alive.” We can’t afford to keep quiet. People’s lives are on the line.

Gracious Father, help me to speak up and offer the reason for the hope that You have given to me. In Jesus name, amen.

September 20

By 365 Devotions

Loving Deeply

Love one another deeply, from the heart (1 Peter 1:22).

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:13-16, 22-25

Song: “Love One Another”

Christian author Wes Seelinger writes: “I have spent long hours in the intensive care waiting room . . . watching with anguished people . . . listening to urgent questions: Will my husband make it? Will my child walk again? How do you live without your companion of thirty years? The intensive care waiting room is different from any other place in the world. And the people who wait are different. They can’t do enough for each other. No one is rude. The distinctions of race and class melt away. A person is a father first, a black man second. The garbage man loves his wife as much as the university professor loves his, and everyone understands this. Each person pulls for everyone else.”

As a minister and chaplain who has spent many hours in the ICU waiting room, I agree with Wes. There is a unique depth to the concern and care being extended to one another as they wait on the doctor’s next report. Christ loved us in our intensive state of sin and brokenness, and as we behold His deep, deep love we will find the strength to love others deeply for His sake.

Great God of all comfort, allow me to comfort someone today with the comfort I have received from You. In the name of my Savior I pray, amen.

September 19

By 365 Devotions

Remembering and Helping the Vulnerable

Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Hebrews 13:3).

Scripture: Hebrews 13:1-6

Song: “Do Something”

Sociologist Rodney Stark describes how Christianity arose from a small group to become the dominant force of the Roman Empire in such a short time. He presents factors that would have contributed to this great movement toward Christ. He shows that there were two great epidemics during those first few centuries. If those who were affected were cared for, there was a good chance they would survive. But often when a member of the family contracted the disease, the other family members left that person uncared for and left their homes for places not affected by the disease. The Christians, however, did not do this. The Christians not only cared for their own family members, they also cared for those who were left behind by their family members. Stark points out that their willingness to suffer in order to care for the sick had a part to play in large numbers of people in the Roman Empire turning to Christ.

We as Christ followers today are a despised group who are considered hopelessly out of step with today’s pluralistic attitude toward religion. Because of their evangelistic activity the early Christians too were despised and persecuted. But they bore the persecution with such radiant power that their response served as a great attraction and witness to people. By God’s grace, may we do so as well.

Compassionate God, work in me to serve others, like Jesus who came not to be served but to serve. In His name I pray, amen.

In the World—September 23, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 23 here.


Many childless couples have been enabled to have a family by fertility therapy. This process uses donated sperm or eggs and implants an embryo in a woman. Last week’s news raised a question about fertility therapy. DNA testing has revealed that 54 people who are now between 1 and 21 years of age are all related, having the same father—Donor #2757. One of them, Kianna Arroyo, is on a quest to contact her half-siblings in this artificial family. She says, “We have a connection, [but] it’s hard to explain.” It is hard to explain, since shared DNA is the only connection any of them have with one another.


When Eve was created, God began the process of bringing families into the world naturally. He told the first couple to “be fruitful and multiply,” and they followed the divine instructions. We have done so ever since. But the 20th century added new means to create families artificially. To be sure, not all natural families are pictures of familial bliss. Adam and Eve’s family certainly wasn’t. But Christians are challenged to strive for God’s ideal in family life.

  1. Is the process of fertility therapy in keeping with God’s intent? Why or why not? What limitations, if any, should be placed on the process?
  2. Do you believe that adoption is a better way to create a family than fertility therapy? Why or why not?
  3. What makes a family? Is it common DNA or some other factor or a combination of both?
  4. What was God’s purpose in creating the family? What can the church do to help families of every kind to fulfill God’s purpose?

September 23: God Creates the Family (Genesis 2:18-24; 4:1, 2)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Before class, write these four headings across the top of the board:

TV shows      Songs             Companies/Organizations            Familiar Phrases

When all have arrived, divide the class into groups of three to five members each, giving each pen and paper. Give groups five minutes to list items that fit each heading that use the word “family.” (For example, “The Addams Family [TV show], “We Are Family” [song], Family Dollar [company], family reunion, family values [phrases].)

After time has expired, have groups share their lists. Write each item under the appropriate heading on the board. Lead into Bible study by saying, “It is clear that the idea of family is a common one in our world today. But what does the Bible say about family?”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “Surprising or Expected?” worksheet here. Make copies for all group members.

Distribute the worksheet, making sure each class member has a pen or pencil. Give class members about five minutes to look at these events in Genesis 2:18-24; 4:1, 2 and mark each one as either expected (E) or surprising (S) to them. Stress that there are no right or wrong answers, but they should be ready to give a reason for each response.

After members have had a chance to complete the worksheet, go over each story element, allowing class members to talk about their reactions to it.

September 18

By 365 Devotions

Fulfilling Our Marital Duty

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband (1 Corinthians 7:3).

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:1-7, 32-35

Song: “You’ve Got Me”

In an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” there is a scene in the Romano house at night where Ray is sitting in bed next to Debra. She’s lying down facing the camera, with her back to Ray, about to fall asleep. Ray reaches over and gently touches her exposed shoulder. Eyes closed, Debra simply says, “No.” He withdraws his hand, but gently touches her again.

“No,” comes the deadpan response.

Then, with his brow wrinkled as if conducting an experiment, Ray reaches his hand over his wife’s shoulder without touching her.

“No,” comes the response—again with her eyes closed. Then, in response to three quick passes through the air over her shoulder, Debra says “No, No, No,” each in precise timing with the passes. The scene ends as Ray reaches his hand far above her and, without touching her, swoops it down over her in what looks like an airplane pass. In a pitch that matches the height of the hand she cannot see, Debra responds, “Nooooo.”
In light of the temptation faced by husbands and wives for their eyes and hearts to roam and seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere, they are instructed to say “Yes” to one another and, therefore, satisfy each other sexually. The “No” can be reserved for the temptation of adultery, and thereby significantly weaken its power.

Merciful God, thank You for the gift of sexual relations in marriage, which serves as a dam against many sexual temptations. Through Christ I pray, amen.

September 17

By 365 Devotions

Staying Together

Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason? (Matthew 19:3).

Scripture: Matthew 19:3-6

Song: “Together”

Stefan and Erika Svanstrom left Stockholm, Sweden, on their honeymoon. But there were problems. First, they were stranded in Munich, Germany, in a snowstorm. Then they went to Australia where they were struck by a cyclone. They headed south to Brisbane but discovered that the city had experienced massive flooding. So they traveled across the country to Perth. There, they narrowly escaped raging bush fires.

Next, the couple flew to Christchurch, New Zealand, arriving just after the city was devastated by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. Afterwards the couple went to Japan. But a few days after their arrival, Tokyo was rocked by Japan’s largest earthquake on record. The family finally returned to Stockholm after a much calmer visit to their last destination, China.

Looking back on the trip, with their marriage still going strong, Mrs. Svanstrom said: “We’ve certainly experienced more than our fair share of catastrophes, but the most important thing is that we’re together and happy.”

Certainly those who are married will face challenges but our Creator has a generous supply of grace to help.

My Creator and heavenly Father, help me depend upon You in all my challenges. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

September 17–23. Van Morris resides in Mt. Washington, Kentucky. He has served as a minister for over 2 decades and enjoys life with Kathryn, his wife of nearly 40 years.

September 16

By 365 Devotions

The Beauty of God’s Creation

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day (Genesis 1:31).

Scripture: Genesis 1:26-31; 2:4-7

Song: “Indescribable”

My daughter is an amazing artist. She enjoys painting, drawing, and photography. My wife and I love it when she brings a finished creation for us to see for the first time. I often find myself completely speechless. Her attention to detail and use of vibrant colors is simply amazing for someone her age. I sometimes look at her art to find inspiration.

Like taking time to look at my daughter’s art, when we take time to look at God’s creation we see the indescribable universe He has created for us to enjoy. Taking time is important. Time is what leads us to the pleasure.

Discouragement in our lives, loneliness, and sadness can detract us from simply looking around at the landscapes, sunsets, and sunrises. When we focus on what God has made we see the many creatures God created with amazing uniqueness. One such creation is you! You are an amazing creation of the God of the universe. You have a purpose in creation and are part of the beauty of God’s creation.

Heavenly Father, thank You for creating me with a purpose. May I take time to acknowledge Your amazing creation and look to You for joy and strength. In Your name, amen.

September 15

By 365 Devotions

The Importance of the Sabbath

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done (Genesis 2:3).

Scripture: Genesis 2:1-3

Song: “He Is Exalted”

In a world of fast-paced living and never ending activities, it can be hard to find time to rest. We want our food served quick. We include speed in our decision-making so we can move on to the next thing. All of this rush leads us to less time for rest.

Taking time to rest is something God established in the very beginning. He worked six days and then rested to enjoy His creation. As followers of Jesus Christ, God wants us to do the same. We are to work at the task in front of us and do our very best as doing it for God. But then we are to remember that God blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.

Theologian Karl Barth once said. “A being is free only when it can determine and limit its activity.” He is suggesting that freedom from the business of life is only found when one is following the example God established.

May we work hard and represent our Lord in all that we do, and then take time on the Sabbath to reflect on our Savior and enjoy the life He has given us.

Heavenly Father, help me to work hard and do my best in everything I do. May I prioritize the Sabbath and reflect on You. In Your name, amen.

September 14

By 365 Devotions

The Deliverance of God

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (Deuteronomy 5:15).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Song: “To God Be the Glory”

Stranded on the side of the interstate one summer afternoon, I decided to walk for several miles to the next exit. I had been known to run out of gas but that was not the case this time. The transmission had gone out and the car was staying right where it was—the side of the road.

The person I knew who was closest to my location was a friend who lived a couple of hours away. I called him for help. It took a while for him to arrive, but I was so glad to see him. He saved me in my time of need by taking me to his home and then helping me get my car into a good repair shop. I didn’t have to sit at some hotel and was never concerned about ending up with a questionable mechanic. And we had a great couple of days together for catching up.

Remembering what we are saved from gives us reason to celebrate our new life through Jesus Christ. Our past life of slavery to sin is a thing of the past because of the mighty hand of God. Sometimes our day-to-day life can lead us to forget where we have come from. May we always remember that our God is a God of deliverance.

Heavenly Father, thank You for delivering me from a life of sin. Help me to always remember Your mighty deliverance. In Your name, amen.

September 13

By 365 Devotions

Purity Comes from Jesus Christ

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Scripture: 1 John 1:5-10

Song: “Amazing Grace”

A mechanic from our church has been gracious enough to do some maintenance on our vehicles over the years. About a year ago he suggested a couple of repairs. The vehicle would continue to run and do OK, but would eventually come to a point it would have to be repaired. And if not repaired the issue could cause long lasting damage to the vehicle.

Now, he has told me the exact part to be purchased, and to let him know when I want him to fix it. I know nothing about cars and there is no way I could do the repair myself, so I absolutely need his help. He is willing, ready and knows what to do but has to wait on me to ask for help. As of today, I have yet to schedule the repair.

Jesus Christ is the only one that can wash our sins away and make us pure in the sight of God. He will forgive our sins and wash us free from all sin. However, we have to identify that we cannot “make the repair” ourselves. We must ask our Savior—who is faithful, just, and loving.

Take a few minutes to identify the things in your life that need repair and address them in a timely manner.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your forgiveness. Help me to confess the sin in my life and receive the purity that only comes from You. In Your name, amen.

September 12

By 365 Devotions

Do Not Lose Heart

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1).

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Song: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

Spending time with my three children is one of the absolute joys of my life. I specifically remember when each one of them went through the “Daddy, I want to ride on your shoulders” stage as a toddler. Nothing like carrying them up high so they could see life from a different perspective. They all enjoyed it immensely and repeatedly asked for “shoulder back rides,” as my youngest referred to them.

Regardless of how fun the ride was, fatigue would eventually set in and they would need a break. They would want to get down but hesitate because of the fatigue and sleepiness of their legs and feet. Of course I would never just put them down to walk on their own as that would simply cause them to stumble. Rather, I would bring them off of my shoulders and carry them in my arms until the fatigue subsided and they were ready to go on their own.

Sometimes the ride we are on can become exhausting and we feel fatigued. Maybe we have even told God we want to throw in the towel. Be encouraged that God has called us to a relationship with Him and, though we may get tired at times, we should not lose heart because He is the one carrying us—holding us up by the strength of His arms.

Heavenly Father, though I may grow tired and feel like giving up, I am grateful that You give the strength to stay the course. In Your holy name, amen.

In the World—September 16, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 16 here.


TheNew York Times reported last week that a highly-regarded doctor in the world of breast cancer research has committed a breach of ethics. He has published dozens of research articles in magazines like TheNew England Journal of Medicine, but has allegedly failed to report his connection to pharmaceutical companies that paid him millions of dollars to push their cancer-fighting drugs. The Times article said this is a common ethical failure, and it implied collusion between the industry, journals, and researchers.


When God brought human life into existence, he pronounced it “very good.” Sin turned that equation around and that verdict was no longer an apt description of human life. It is now apparent that even people who work in the noble field of trying to cure the diseases that came because of sin may not be as untainted as we would like them to be. The same can be said of people who work in every field. This includes ministry, as recent revelations of clergy sexual abuse are indicating.

  1. What problems can arise when a doctor fails to reveal his relationship to pharmaceutical companies? How can research be tainted by such a relationship?
  2. Collusion occurs when two or more people or groups who are supposed to be checking on each other secretly work together. What examples of collusion can you cite in other professions?
  3. What similar ethical temptations might affect us as individuals? How do you protect yourself from allowing self-interest to interfere with fulfilling ethical obligations?

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.


September 16: God Creates People (Genesis 1:26-31; 2:4-7)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the “Determining Value” activity here. Make a copy for each group of three to five class members.

Begin class by dividing the class into groups of three to five members each. Give each group a copy of the activity page and five minutes to select one item from each lot that would have the greatest total value. Determine the winning group with this list of values from Goodwill Industries:

LOT 1: Desktop Computer ($150), Dining Room Set ($75), Standard Sofa ($75), Patio Set ($50), Dresser ($25), Recliner ($20)

LOT 2: Business Suit ($12), Bike ($10), Coat/Jacket ($8), Small Appliance ($8), 6 Piece Dish Set ($6)

LOT 3: Stereo ($10), Computer Desk ($10), Microwave ($10), Dress ($7), Shoes ($6), Jeans ($6)

LOT 4: Framed Art Work ($4), Figurine ($3), Video Game ($3), Pot/Pan ($2), DVD/CD ($2), Book ($1)

Lead into Bible study by saying: “When estimating the value of donated items, we need to guess how much others might pay for them. When it comes to human beings, however, our worth has been set by God in creation, not by an estimated market value.”

To encourage personal application:

Work with the class to brainstorm a list of controversial social issues of the day. This list would probably include: social justice, abortion, caring for the disabled, drug abuse, homelessness, etc.

When a list has been compiled, discuss how our thinking about the issue would change if our first consideration would be that each person is a creation in God’s own image.

September 11

By 365 Devotions

Living like Jesus Christ

And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

Scripture: Ephesians 4:17-24

Song: “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

My sister-in-law once had an opportunity to volunteer at a local sports team’s community evening by performing as a favorite vegetable themed, Christian cartoon character. Her role was to entertain the children as this character and help facilitate a fun evening with the sports team. She was not to be there as “Elizabeth.” The purpose of this event was to represent someone other than herself. She did an exceptional job!

I recall the stories she would later tell of the process of getting dressed that evening. It was not a costume she could just throw on, but rather one that took time, effort, and tremendous preparation in order to properly represent the character.

Living like Jesus Christ also requires the necessary time, effort, and preparation in order to properly represent who He is. Paul told the Ephesian believers to “put on the new self.” Much like my sister-in-law had to take the necessary time to get ready for her responsibilities that evening, we as followers of Jesus Christ should strive to prepare ourselves each day by reading His Word and praying.

When others see how we live they should see someone living like Jesus Christ. Avoid drawing attention to yourself, but use the opportunities God provides to point others to Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, help me to put on the new self that represents Jesus Christ. May I point others to You, and not myself. In Your name I pray, amen.

September 10

By 365 Devotions

Remember the Greatness of God

Praise the LORD, my soul. LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty (Psalm 104:1).

Scripture: Psalm 104:1-4

Song: “Great Are You Lord”

The Royal Family of Great Britain is easily recognized whenever they make any sort of public appearance. Aside from the overwhelming security, media coverage, and adoring fans; the Royal Family is recognizable because of their appearance. The prestigious manner in which each one of them is dressed sets them apart from the rest of society. Often their fashion and attire is the focus of global debate and discussion. The splendor and majesty of it all is simply part of being royalty. We take notice because of who they are.

However, the impressive attire of the Royal Family could never compare to the majesty and splendor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The challenge for us is to remember the greatness of God even when we do not see Him with our physical eyes. So how can we remember His greatness?

Take time to notice the vastness of the universes, the illustrious beauty of the oceans and mountain ranges, the spectacular detail in the smallest of God’s creatures or the unimaginable love He has for each of us. We should take notice of the greatness of God simply because of who He is.

Heavenly Father, help me to remember Your greatness, majesty, and splendor. May I take time to notice Your creation and who You are. In Your name I pray, amen.

September 10–16. Alan Lane has served in local church ministry for years and currently resides in Landisburg, PA. He and his wife, Julie, have three children.

September 9

By 365 Devotions

Light When We Need It

God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:17-18).

Scripture: Genesis 1:14-25

Song: “The Light of the World Is Jesus”

An electrical outlet in the hall by our bedroom has lights along the bottom that automatically come on at dusk. I also have several battery-operated candles that turn on at a set time in the evening and glow for six or seven hours. There’s a flickering candle in a metal lantern on the mantel, a small one in the centerpiece on the dining table, and a string of tiny lights in a decorative glass container on the coffee table. My husband shakes his head when these lights start coming on, but I told him that’s what God does in the sky, so it must be good.

Jesus is the Light of the World; He promised that those who follow Him will never walk in darkness. Our faith in Jesus means that we live in the light of salvation rather than the darkness of sin and separation from God. We also have the benefit of the light of truth shining on the path of our life journey, accessed through the Bible and the Holy Spirit living inside us.

Even so, there have been times when I’ve prayerfully sought guidance on a major decision and still felt in the dark. But I’m learning that God always comes through to light our way, just when we need it the most.

Lord, help me trust You to provide the right amount of light exactly when I need it. In Your name, amen.

September 8

By 365 Devotions

Looking Past Appearances

The voice spoke from heaven a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 11:9).

Scripture: Acts 11:5-9

Song: “There Is a Fountain”

It’s amazing how we remember the message of a story long after we’ve forgotten the who, what, when and where. Fifty years ago I heard a missionary share a frightening experience of traveling alone in a remote area near a jungle. Looking ahead, he saw a man coming down the path, decked out in the trappings of a warrior from a local tribe. As the missionary silently prayed for safety, the man approached and leaned on his spear as he looked him over. Suddenly the painted and pierced face broke into a grin. He pointed to the sky and then to his heart as he repeated the word, “Christos!”

Just as we can’t judge a book by its cover, we can’t tell if someone is a fellow believer or not by their outside appearance. Just because a person looks different from us doesn’t mean they haven’t had their sins cleansed by the same blood that saved us. It would be a mistake to let tattoos, piercings, dirty skin or outrageous clothing keep us from meeting and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ. It would be even worse to let those prejudices prevent us from recognizing a soul who is searching and longing for the one who can wash them clean.

Lord, help me look past external appearances to see the hearts of those You place around me, encouraging other Christians and sharing Your truth with nonbelievers who are ready to hear it. In Your name, amen.

September 7

By 365 Devotions

Perfect Gifts

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).

Scripture: James 1:17, 18

Song: “Count Your Blessings”

At Christmas my younger son has given me gift bags that always show how well he knows my tastes. Last year his gift bag included a soft tunic top in blue, a lilac scented candle with a wooden wick that crackled while it burned, a high-end journal in sea foam green, my favorite type of pen with a soft grip, and a box of assorted Swiss chocolates. Kevin’s gift bag left no doubt that he had taken the time to notice what I liked and enjoyed. Every single item was some- thing that made me feel special.

I’ve always thought the best gifts are those that show that some- one understands us. Nobody understands us better than God, but His gifts go beyond what we like or want. He gives us what we truly need. Sometimes God gives us something for our pleasure or enjoyment; other times His gifts are designed to meet a deeper desire or a need: A season of discontent when we’ve neglected our relationship with Him; A serious trial to strengthen our faith or prayer life; discipline when we’ve strayed into disobedience.

Even when God sends a gift that we’d prefer not to accept, we can trust in His character and His intentions. We can be sure that He is providing exactly what we need at that moment in our life.

Father, I receive all gifts from Your hands and trust that they are for my good and Your glory. In the name of Jesus, amen.

September 6

By 365 Devotions

True Wisdom

To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his (Job 12:13).

Scripture: Job 12:7-13

Song: “Awesome God”

In 1854, seventeen-year-old Dwight L. Moody left home to work in his Uncle Samuel’s shoe store. But his life changed more when he answered God’s call on his life. Moody founded a seminary to educate women and a boys’ school that ministered to the poor and minorities. He also worked with educator Emma Dryer to create the Chicago Evangelization Society, later renamed Moody Bible Institute. It would be impossible to estimate how many tens of thousands of people were evangelized and educated through these and Dwight Moody’s other ministries. Not bad for a man with a fifth-grade education.

Our culture may prize advanced degrees that allow a person to add letters before or after their name, but that doesn’t impress God. He looks for people with an obedient, teachable spirit to help build His kingdom. If we depend on Him, He will pour out all the wisdom and guidance we need for the work He assigns us. Whether we’re running a ministry that touches thousands or reaching out to difficult neighbors, He will provide the understanding and discernment we need.

Today we have more educational opportunities than ever; it makes sense to take advantage of what’s available if God leads us to do that. But we don’t want to ever forget the source of true wisdom: a right relationship with God and a reverent respect for His Word.

Father, I ask you to fill me with godly wisdom that will influence my conversations, my attitudes, and my behavior today. In Christ, amen.

September 5

By 365 Devotions

The Value of Variety

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches (Psalm 104:24, KJV).

Scripture: Psalm 104:24-30

Song: “All Things Bright and Beautiful”

When I was growing up, my family occasionally visited the church attended by one of my uncles and his family. The thing that always struck me about the tiny congregation was how much the women looked alike. They wore plain homemade dresses with no lace or trimmings and chunky black shoes. I never saw any of them in makeup or jewelry. The women all kept their hair long but pinned it up in a bun on the back of their heads.

Not many people would insist that Christians need to all dress alike, but we still try to impose restrictions on each other. Some people act like we should all enjoy the same type of music, or read the same books, or conduct our church services the same way. Just one look around us proves how much God values diversity. A walk through a botanical garden gives a sample of the dizzying array of plants He created. A visit to a zoo reminds us of the variety of animals He crafted.

God’s creativity is also evident in His people. He has made each one of us with a unique combination of physical attributes, personality traits, talents and spiritual gifts. There’s no reason for us all to talk, think or act alike. When we praise Him in our own way and let others do the same, we honor the God Who loves variety.

Father God, help me embrace the unique way You have created me and use all that I am for Your glory. In the name of Your Son, amen.

In the World—September 9, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 9 here.


Two Americans died recently, one famous and the other scarcely known. John McCain, 81, was a Senator, honored Vietnam War veteran, and former presidential candidate. He was lauded by many at his funeral. Relatively few people had heard about Claire Wineland, an inspirational speaker. She was 60 years younger than McCain when she died at age 21 on Monday. She was one of 30,000 Americans who have cystic fibrosis, a terminal genetic disease. At age 13, she started Claire’s Place Foundation to assist families living with the disease. Claire became an inspirational speaker who said, “Life isn’t just about being happy. It’s about what you’re making of your life and whether you can find a deep pride in who you are and what you’ve given.”

. . . AND LIFE

John McCain survived some of the worst abuse that humans can administer. Claire Wineland fought valiantly against debilitating disease. Both clung tenaciously to God’s gift of life, but in the end, death won. When God began his creative work, a dead world came to life. The beings he created continue to be fruitful and multiply. Eventually, death comes to us all, but God’s sustaining power is still at work bringing us toward everlasting life.

  1. What do the deaths of McCain and Wineland at significantly different ages suggest to you about life and death? How do their responses to their trials speak to you?
  2. What does God’s revelation of his creative work in terms of time imply about our use of time?
  3. How do you show your appreciation for God’s gifts of life and time? What difficulties do you find in trying to use time effectively? Be specific.

—Charles R. Boatman

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.


September 4

By 365 Devotions

The Name Above All Names

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:4, KJV).

Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-4

Song: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!”

I thought the little angel was so cute. I cried because I couldn’t get it off. That’s the inscription my mom wrote on the scrapbook page under a black and white photo of me standing beside a tombstone. I don’t have any memory of that day because I was two years old when my parents drove my grandmother to choose my grandpa’s headstone. Apparently, the cherub carved on the top of one sample fascinated me so much that I tried to take it home.

Obsession with angels was a problem in New Testament times, and sadly, some people fall in that category today. The problem is not collecting artwork with an angel theme; it’s the tendency to pay more attention to mysterious, supernatural stories about celestial beings rather than focus on the truth about Jesus. He is the one we should be learning about, listening to, and leaning on. He is the one angels fall down before in worship.

The Bible shows that God entrusts angels with important work, but Jesus is our Savior. He is the one who died for our sins, who is now interceding for us in Heaven, and who will return to the earth one day to conquer evil. We have His promise to guide, protect, and empower us as we go through this life. He is the one who deserves our full attention and our highest praise.

Lord Jesus, I praise Your name and worship You as Lord of all. Amen.

September 9: God Creates Light and Life (Genesis 1:14-25)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Download the “Double Puzzles” worksheet here. Make a copy for each class member. Distribute the worksheets, asking class members to complete them according to the printed instructions on the worksheet. Allow them to work individually, in pairs, or in small groups. Give them about ten minutes to complete the puzzles.

Here are the answers:

Genesis 1:14-20


God filled the heavens with timekeepers to give life patterns of REGULARITY.


Genesis 1:21-23


God filled the skies and seas with life that was ABUNDANT.


Genesis 1:24, 25


God filled the earth with life with great VARIETY.


To encourage personal application:

Attach three blank poster boards to the walls using reusable adhesive. With watercolor markers, on the top of each poster write one of the three main points of the text discovered in the preceding activity:

Genesis 1:14-20—God filled the heavens with timekeepers to give life patterns of REGULARITY.

Genesis 1:21-23—God filled the skies and seas with life that was ABUNDANT.

 Genesis 1:24, 25—God filled the earth with life with great VARIETY.

Have watercolor markers at each poster. Ask class members to go to each poster and write a one-sentence prayer and a quick sketch inspired by that portion of the text.



September 3

By 365 Devotions

Everlasting Love

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:1).

Scripture: Psalm 136:1-9

Song: “The Love of God”

I have a strange fascination with abandoned, decaying houses out in the country. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a small farm, but I can picture the family working hard to make a living off the land. I can almost hear the laughter, tears, arguments, prayers, songs and words of love that once filled the empty rooms. I wonder about the joys, the heartaches and the eventual destinies of the people who once made their home there. I always choke up as I imagine all the life that went on in what’s now nothing more than an empty shell.

A hollow, decaying house serves as a reminder that nothing earthly lasts forever. People grow old and die. Seasons of life pass by without us noticing. Roles and relationships change and end. Our greatest accomplishments and our worst disappointments fade into dim memories. But one thing will always endure.

God loved us before we were born. He cared for us before we ever gave Him a thought. That same love that took Him to the cross to die for our sins will carry us through this life and into eternity. Once we become His child, nothing we do can ever make His love fade or waver. When the temporary nature of this earthly life causes us pain, we can hold on to the joy of knowing God’s enduring love.

Loving Father, I want to hold on to earthly things with a light grasp so that I can focus on sharing Your everlasting love with others who don’t yet know You. In Christ, amen.

September 2

By 365 Devotions

He Will Provide

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so (Genesis 1:11, KJV).

Scripture: Genesis 1:1-13

Song: “God Will Take Care of You”

Nineteenth-century preacher George Müller directed an orphanage that cared for more than 10,000 children. They were fed, dressed, and educated well despite the fact that Müller never received government assistance, solicited donations, or borrowed money. His faith that God would meet any needs led to many faithbuilding experiences. For example, when one of the houses had no food, Müller had the children sit at the table and thank God for breakfast. As the prayer ended, the town baker knocked on the door and offered fresh bread. The local milkman provided milk because his cart had just broken down in front of the orphanage.

It’s human nature to want to have plans in place to take care of our present and future needs. But George Müller chose to depend on God to provide all that he needed to carry out the work God had laid on his heart. Because of that, Müller accomplished great things for God’s Kingdom. While there’s nothing wrong with wise stewardship and planning, God doesn’t want us worrying about temporal needs.

By the time God created the first man and woman, He had already made the plants and trees that would provide their food. God knows what we need before we do. How can we doubt that He has already planned ways to provide for us?

Lord, whenever I’m tempted to worry about the future, remind me that You have planned ahead to meet my every need. In Your name, amen.

September 1

By 365 Devotions

A Rock Solid Foundation

For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm (Psalm 33:9).

Scripture: Psalm 33:1-9

Song: “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

My friend’s voice broke as she shared how her youngest child had wandered off at the beach. Panic-stricken, Monica finally spotted Trevor toddling along the shoreline. As she raced to reach him before a wave knocked him down, she felt as though time had switched to slow motion. Her feet sank down in the soft sand with each step, causing her to stumble several times. Fortunately, another beach goer scooped Trevor up from the incoming water and met Monica halfway.

Many people consider powdery, sun-warmed sand an inviting surface—until an emergency pops up and they need to get somewhere fast. In a similar way, we may be comfortable with the foundation of our life until we’re hit with a crisis. Then we may discover that we’ve placed our trust in something too weak or unstable to hold us up during tough times.

The only secure foundation is faith in God and the truth revealed in His Word. As Creator, He simply spoke the world into being. As our Lord, He has spoken words over us, promises of forgiveness, provision, and eternal life. If we place our trust in Him, we can rest assured those words will always stand firm.

Father, as I move through this day, help me keep my feet planted on You, my rock solid foundation. In Jesus’ name, amen.

September 1-9. Dianne Neal Matthews lives in southeast Louisiana with her husband of 44 years. She enjoys gardening, cooking, DIY projects, her grandchildren, and serving her local church