Category Archives: Daily Devotional

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 132/260: Read Matthew 7

What is your reaction to the teachings of Jesus? Do you read an incident from His life, read what He said, and think, “That was a nice story”? Perhaps you are drawn to His love and grace, or perhaps to His compassion and humility. And certainly, those are excellent qualities that we should all strive to emulate. But do you dig in to the actual words He said? The demands that He makes on His followers?

In the first century, when people heard this Man teach, they were “astonished.” The things He taught were so radical when compared to what the religious elite taught that it blew their minds. He wasn’t just reading from the Old Law, but He was applying the principles of God to the life of individuals. The gospel writers said that “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Do we read the words that Jesus said and apply it to ourselves, or do we think they were meant only for the other guy? Do we honestly compare the way we live and interact with the folks around us to the way Jesus said we should live and interact with them?

If we hear and do the sayings of Jesus, He will call us wise. Our spiritual foundation will be built upon the rock of truth. Sadly, there are many who hear but fail to apply the Lord’s saying. Christ says such are foolish. Are you wish or foolish?

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for a greater desire to live as Jesus taught we should live.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 131/260: Read Matthew 6

Motivations are important, aren’t they? In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks a lot about motivations. In the sixth chapter, He tells His followers that if their motivations are not proper, their reward will be non-existent.

You want to do good by giving to charity? Don’t seek praise for doing it. You want to pray to God? Don’t do it so everyone else can hear you. You want to fast? Don’t make a show of it. If you do these things to glorify God, that’s good; if you do these things to receive the praise of men and to show how holy you are, then that is all you will get out of it. God will not reward you because your motivations are misguided.

A lot of people are motivated by money. Paul warns against the love of money, calling it “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warns against making money a priority in one’s life.

Yes, we need money to live, to provide shelter and food for our families, and God approves of such proper use of money. But there is a warning against hoarding riches. Jesus says that we must focus on spiritual treasures rather than earthly treasures, and promises that God will take care of His faithful children.

The bottom line is this: be motivated by God; be motivated by eternity. Don’t worry about the things of this life to the point that you take your eyes off Jesus.

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for a sharper focus on the things of God.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 130/260: Read Matthew 5

Do you want to be happy? Who doesn’t? Jesus gives the keys to eternal happiness in the Sermon on the Mount. He begins with what we commonly call “the beatitudes.” The word “blessed” carries with it the connotation of happiness.

So, do you want to be happy? Jesus says be humble (or “poor in spirit”). Mourn over sin. Be meek. Crave spiritual knowledge. Show mercy. Develop purity in your heart. Make peace with those around you. Stand for what is right, regardless of the consequences in this life.

How we respond to God and how we treat other people has a profound impact on our happiness. When we focus on our own desires all the time, negativity will creep in. We see what we have not accomplished, what we do not possess, and we develop a defeatist attitude.

But when we focus on serving God and others, we obtain so much joy. By making God and other people happy, we make ourselves happy.

While I am a firm believer in the necessity to know how to say “no” on occasion, that should not be our default answer to every request. Read carefully Jesus’ words in verses 38 through 48. We must be willing to make some sacrifices to help others, to go the second mile, to give up our coat along with our tunic.

Do you want to be happy? “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

Matthew 5:9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Pray

Pray for your enemies by name.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 129/260: Read Matthew 4

The best defense against temptation is a proper knowledge and application of the inspired Scriptures, as demonstrated by Jesus when He was in the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Three times Satan attempted to entice Jesus to sin, and three times Jesus resisted by recalling the Word of God.

We can do the same today, but only if we have a working knowledge of God’s revelation. The Psalmist declared, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Have you hidden the Word in your heart?

Here are some specific sins that many face to some extent, and passages that may help defend our soul against Satan’s assaults:

  • Foul language and dirty jokes (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Greed and materialism (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
  • Pride and selfishness (Philippians 2:3)
  • Poor attitude toward employers (Colossians 3:23-24)
  • Racism and sexism (Galatians 3:28)
  • Disobeying God (John 14:15)
  • Disobeying the elders in the church (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Envy (Proverbs 23:17)
  • Apathy (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Can we do better? We must! But we need God’s help, and that help is available in the inspired Scriptures.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Matthew 5:9. “Blessed are the ________________, for they shall be called sons of ________________.”

Pray

Pray for wisdom in recognizing temptation, and strength in overcoming it through God’s Word.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 128/260: Read Matthew 3

John the Baptist played a vital role in preparing the world for Jesus Christ. There would be a dramatic change from the way things had always been before, and John encouraged the people, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Still today, Jesus needs folks who will prepare the people around them for Him. It may be a family member, or a close friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker. They still need to hear the message of repentance. Not because the kingdom is “at hand,” or nearby, but because the kingdom has arrived! Those who die without repenting and putting on Christ in baptism, without placing their citizenship in heaven (Philippian 3:20), cannot be admitted there.

Before we teach anyone, we must “bear fruits worthy of repentance” ourselves. One who teaches others about Christ must live a Christ-like life themselves. You have little chance to convert someone to a way of life that you are not willing to live yourself. If you have sin in your life, repent! “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

Make a list of people who need Jesus in their lives. Put your own name at the top of the list. Look for ways to infuse Christian character in everything you do, and encourage those around you to do the same.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Matthew 5:9. “________________ are the peacemakers, for they shall be called ________________ of God.”

Pray

Pray for opportunities to prepare someone else for Jesus.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 127/260: Read Matthew 2

Herod was “troubled” because he knew he was in trouble. The wise men from the East came looking for “He who has been born King of the Jews.” Herod knew his time was coming to an end.

Isn’t that the way it is with all of us, though? When we hear about Jesus and what He demands of His followers, our time is coming to an end. Our time becomes His time; our will becomes His will. If not, we cannot truly call ourselves His disciples.

There are many songs that speak to our complete devotion to the Lord, songs such as “Have Thine Own Way” and “None of Self and All of Thee.” In 1896, Judson W. Van De Venter penned “All to Jesus I Surrender.”

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Are we willing to surrender all, or are we troubled at the mere mention of the One who should replace ourselves as the King of our life?

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

Matthew 5:9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Pray

Pray for a stronger commitment to the Lord; pray for strength in surrendering all to the Savior.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 126/260: Read Matthew 1

Taking note of the intended audience of a particular passage of Scripture helps in our understanding of it. Each gospel account had a different aim and a different audience in mind. Matthew the tax collector wrote his account with his Jewish brethren in mind.

This is one of the reasons that he begins his genealogy in chapter one with Abraham. Abraham was a central figure in the Jewish faith, the “father of many nations.” The Jews took great pride in their heritage.

Matthew also refers extensively to the prophets who were esteemed by the Jewish leaders. Isaiah prophesied of the virgin birth: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Matthew recalls this prophecy as he tells of the angel’s visit to Joseph, who says, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

Focus on the meaning of the two names given for the Lord in this chapter: Jesus, meaning “Jehovah is salvation,” and Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” What a blessing to know that Jesus has the ability and the desire to save us, and it was love that brought Him into this wicked world for that purpose.

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

Matthew 5:9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Pray

Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ’s love and mercy.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 125/260: Read 2 Thessalonians 3

Paul often asked for prayers from his brethren. It is always interesting to notice the specifics of his requests.

Humility is a mark of Paul’s appeal. He does not plead for personal success, or for his own popularity. Rather, he wants them to pray “that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” Is that our prayer today?

Further, he asks for prayers “that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.” What is the purpose of this request? The answer may lie in one of his letters to Timothy.

The apostle wrote to the young evangelist, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

We will face hardships in life. There is no denying that. But the fewer hardships we face, the more we can work toward the advancement of God’s kingdom through evangelism.

Are you praying “that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified”? Are you living “in all godliness and reverence” so that you can be a profitable servant and effective proclaimer of the gospel?

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

1 Thessalonians 5:21. “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

Pray

Pray that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 124/260: Read 2 Thessalonians 2

Traditions can be a good thing, or they can be a hindrance. In matters of opinion, if one refuses to change his practice simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” that is stubbornness. If our practices are based merely on traditions, then we should be flexible and willing to try new things.

However, there are some traditions that should never change. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” The traditions revealed in the Bible are inspired traditions, given to us by the apostles and other men who were led by the Spirit to write the things they wrote. Those are non-negotiable traditions.

Sadly, man has attempted to change God’s Word from the very beginning. Time and time again, the inspired writers cautioned against changing the things that have been revealed. Paul said, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7).

May we never pervert that which was handed down by inspiration; let us rather “stand fast and hold the traditions” revealed in Scriptures.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

1 Thessalonians 5:21. “Test _____________ things; hold _____________ what is good.”

Pray

Pray for strength of conviction in standing firm in what God has revealed.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 123/260: Read 2 Thessalonians 1

Faith demands obedience.

There has long been a popular false doctrine that God saves by faith only. That concept is found nowhere in the Scriptures; in fact, it contradicts clear New Testament teaching. Using the example of Abraham, James 2:24 explicitly states, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

Faith that does not cause one to obey the will of God is not a Biblical faith. Read through the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. See how faith motivated those saints of old to act. Their works were demanded by their faith in what the Lord had said to them.

Our faith demands action today as well. When Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned,” and our initial response is not, “Let’s get down to the water right now!”, there is a problem. If we look for loopholes, or ignore the first part of the verse and focus on what He didn’t say in the second part, where is our faith?

Paul shows the importance of obedience in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians. When Christ returns, He will come “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Have you obeyed?

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

1 Thessalonians 5:21. “Test all _____________; hold fast what is _____________.”

Pray

Pray for opportunities to faithfully obey God’s will.