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Never Miss a Chance to Do the Most Good

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Weekly Devotionals Image Weekly Devotionals Image

Weekly Devotionals

Welcome to the Home of Our New Weekly Devotional Series.

Click the Week of your Choice Below!

"We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21).

In the Gospel of Luke, there is a touching and powerful story about two disciples who were walking along a dusty road to Emmaus. Their hearts were heavy with loss as the recent events of Jesus' crucifixion overwhelmed them, filling them with confusion and chaos. The heavy steps along the road were nothing compared to the weight of loss and pain they felt inside. These two men are so consumed with despair that when a stranger joins them on their journey, they quickly share their feelings of disillusionment. They whisper, "We had hoped that he was the one, but we were wrong" (v. 21).

If you know the story, then you know that the stranger walking with these two disciples is none other than the Resurrected Christ himself. As Jesus lovingly walks with these two men, he allows them to pour out the disappointment of their hearts. In his wisdom, he listens to their woes. He understands the pain they feel. He walks along the dusty road with them, meeting them right where they are. 

As they discuss the events, Jesus points to the scriptures. He reminds the two men that God's plan is still revealed through His Word. He guides these two men to the truth. And as he speaks, the two men look at their lives differently. The scriptures and the presence of Jesus begin to illuminate their path. Eventually, they recognize Jesus for who He is, The Risen Lord. Their pain turns to freedom. Their despair becomes delight. Their dusty road becomes a hallelujah trail. 

When the reality of life with all of its ugliness swoops in, robbing us of our joy, dashing our hopes, and destroying our plans for the future, all we need is the testimony of God's Word and a personal encounter with Jesus. Amid the turmoil, the truths of God's Word can remind us of his plan. And the presence of Jesus in our hearts can fill us with joy. These two disciples remarked later, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (v. 32).  

The road to Emmaus is not just a historical event but a living metaphor for our faith journey. We, too, may find ourselves disillusioned, walking in confusion at times. Yet, Christ walks with us, revealing Himself through His Word. He meets us where we are. He walks with us, even when we don't see Him. He teaches. He guides. He brings us to a point of faith. And when we encounter him, the harshness of our world, the things that consumed our hearts and minds pale in comparison to the new life He offers. 

May we, like the disciples, open our eyes to recognize Him in every step of our journey as we walk the road to Emmaus with our risen Lord. May we realize we already have what we need for the journey. We have the truth of His Word and the power of His presence. And that, my friends, is all a heart of faith has ever needed. 

"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." - John 20:29

Yesterday, Christians around the world celebrated Easter, a wonderful holiday that commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This mighty miracle is at the center of the Christian faith, reminding us that death is defeated and we have been granted eternal life as believers. However, now that Easter is over, many Christians will go back to their everyday lives, continuing to live in defeat, fear, and unfulfillment. Rather than living in the power of Christ's work, they will wait for God to intervene in their lives. They will ask God to show up with more proof.

The Gospel of John recounts the story of one of the apostles who struggled to accept the power of God after Jesus had risen. Even as the other disciples rejoiced in the miracle of life, "Doubting Thomas" refused to believe their testimony. He declares, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe" John 20:25.

Thomas lived in a place of doubt for an entire week.

Imagine what those seven days must have been like. Here, Thomas huddles in a locked room with a heart filled with fear and unbelief. Meanwhile, the sightings of Jesus have convinced everyone else that the Lord had risen. A few of Jesus' followers had seen him, and they eagerly shared the good news with everyone they met. There was joy overflowing, but instead of living in a place of triumph, Thomas chose to remain right where he was. He doubts the work of God. He doubts whether Jesus is truly alive. He doubts what the future holds. He doubts everything. He lives in the darkness when he could have been in the light.

I can understand why Thomas feels the way he does. Sometimes, I hear about how God works in other people's lives, but instead of being happy, I complain about what God hasn't done for me. Rather than embracing the miracles God is constantly doing, I often stubbornly demand more proof. Waiting for God to show up and show out is exhausting, not just for Thomas but all of us.

Fortunately, Jesus does show up after a week of waiting. The Savior stands before Thomas and invites him to place his hand in the wounds and believe. Thomas the doubter becomes Thomas the believer. But the truth is that it should have happened a lot sooner than it did. Sometimes, when we express unbelief, God makes us wait in a dark place until He breaks through. For Thomas, his place of unbelief lasted for seven days. Some of us have been living there a lot longer.

If there is one thing that Easter teaches us, it is to live in the power of the Risen Lord rather than sulking in a state of unbelief, waiting for proof. Perhaps God wants to see if we will grow tired of living in the darkness. Maybe God is waiting to see if we will celebrate His power not on what we are waiting for, but on what we know He has already done. The sad reality is that Thomas didn't need to live where he was. Neither do we.

Img - "The Incredulity of Saint Thomas" by Caravaggio

The story of the prodigal son is one of the great redemption tales in scripture. It tells the story of a wayward child who demanded his inheritance and left to live riotously in a foreign land. Spending all that he had, this young man wasted every penny. Then, when his circumstances grew dire, leaving him broken, hungry, and defeated, the son returned to his father. Instead of condemnation, the father of this prodigal showered him with love, forgiveness, and joy. The parable is an incredible illustration of the never-ending love of God.

But there is more to the story.

When Jesus told the parable, he also spoke of another son. The same passage details an older brother who stayed home and lived daily with his father. This other brother had labored and served, been obedient and loyal, working hard to build a life and not dishonor his father. Yet, when his younger sibling returns, he hears the celebration but refuses to enter. Instead, he stands stubbornly outside the door, a few steps away from the party, and grumbles about the injustice of it all. When his father seeks him out and invites him to enter, he whines. The older brother tells his father,

"'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends'" (Luke 15:29). 

It strikes me that many people are like the older brother. They live their lives, work hard, doing their best. They go to church. They raise their families. They obey the law. They are model citizens. Yet, when they see God work miraculously in the life of another, their first reaction is to wonder why God doesn't move like that for them. They wonder why God has not seen their efforts. Focusing on what God has not done, they cry and insist that He could have or should have done better. Like the older brother, they stand a few steps away from the joy that moves the heart of Father, never realizing what they are missing.

It is easy to be shortsighted when it comes to the lovingkindness of God. Our human nature tends to demand that God do for us what we see him doing for others. Sometimes, we fail to see how God has been with us throughout our lives, always steady and constant, loving us with a deep, unending love. A love that freely gives us all things. As the father in the parable remarked to his stubborn child,

"Son, you are always with me. All that is mine is yours" (Luke 15:30).

The heart of the father was that each of his sons might experience the happiness flowing from his heart. Unfortunately, only one son enjoyed the celebration. Only one son ate of the fatted calf, was clothed in the royal robe, wore the signet ring, or walked with fitted shoes on his feet. Only one son entered into his father's joy. The other refused. Even though he was a few steps from the celebration, his heart was miles from where he truly needed to be.   

And yet, despite his stubborn thoughts, the father loved him. 

We serve a God who loves the sinner and the saint, no matter how far they might have strayed from His presence. God loves those in the pigpen, but He also loves those living just a few steps away. 

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8)

When my sister and I were kids, my father gave us the opportunity to plant anything we wanted in our family garden for one summer. Trying to teach us some responsibility, he marked a small area near the fence for us to work on. Excitedly, my sister and I got to work, breaking up the hard soil and knowing that if we did a good job, we would eventually enjoy the fruits of our labor. When my father asked me what I planned on growing, I chose cherry tomatoes, while my sister opted for pumpkins.

My little sister had been saving all the pumpkin seeds from the previous Halloween, and she decided that now would be a great time to get them growing. As she crafted her corner and planted the seeds, instead of dropping a few seeds on each small hill, she planted twenty or thirty.

In the beginning, there was no sign of life from her corner of the garden. Despite her daily efforts, all she could see was dirt. In contrast, my tomato plants were flourishing. My father suggested the seeds might have been too old and dry to produce results. So, the chances of getting pumpkins were slim. He remarked that she might end up with weeds instead.

However, after some time, a tiny sprout emerged from the soil. It was a single green leaf, but it was there, as pretty as you please. Before long, that tiny leaf grew into a vine, and then there were more vines until pumpkin vines stretched across the entire yard. The plants grew rapidly, overpowering everything. The neighbor also complained that they were invading his yard. My father complained the vines were choking out his corn and green beans. When the harvest came in, we had so many pumpkins we couldn't give them away.

It strikes me that praying is a lot like planting a pumpkin seed.

Sometimes when we pray and ask God for something, the result we request may not immediately happen. We could be praying for a change in our circumstances, but we don't see any change. We might be praying for someone's heart to be softened, but it seems their heart is as stony and hard as ever. We might listen to others tell us that prayer wastes time. We may even see miracles in other people's lives but wonder why we're not experiencing the same thing. This can be discouraging, but it's important to remember that God has a plan, and sometimes things happen in His timing, not ours. Even though you might not see any growth, God still uses your simple request of faith to accomplish His purpose, just like a pumpkin seed.

The Bible advises us to ask, seek and knock (Matt. 7:7). Another verse in the scripture states that "we have not, because we ask not" (James 4:3). When we pray to God, we can have faith that our prayers are effective, even if we have to wait for the outcome. We must remind ourselves that God can use our simple prayers in ways beyond our comprehension. If we continue to ask, seek, and knock, our faith will grow, and we will see the results. Who knows, our prayer might produce more than what we expected.

Today, pause for a moment to plant a pumpkin seed of faith. Offer up a prayer, believing God can use it to work his plan and purpose. Who knows, perhaps before long, you’ll have more pumpkins than you know what to do with.  

When She Heard About Jesus

"Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" - Romans 10:17

In the fifth chapter of Mark comes the story of a woman who spent all she had trying to find a cure for her disease. For twelve long years, she had suffered, going from physician to physician, without any relief. Finally, when nothing was left, and all her money was gone, she turned to Jesus. In faith, she declares, "If only I may touch his clothes, I shall be made well." (Mark 5:28). As Jesus comes by, the woman squeezes through the press of the crowd, reaching her hand out in faith and instantly experiences healing. Jesus pauses long enough to ask who touched him, and when she admits to the act, He declares that "her faith has her well" (Mark 5:34).

You know the story. It is a great testament to what faith can do.

Where does faith like that come from?
Where does it begin?
When all our plans have failed, what can force us to reach out, touch the hem of a garment, and be part of a miracle?

Mark 5:27 gives us a hint. The verse in question begins with a simple statement. It reads, "When she heard about Jesus."

This woman acted on the witness of others.

Before she ever took a step toward Jesus, crawling her way through the press of the crowd, or reaching out her hand in faith, a word of testimony came from the lips of someone simply talking about Jesus.

Sometimes, all it takes to plant a seed of faith into the heart of another is for us to "talk" about Jesus. Just think about it. You and I may never know what miracle of faith our words can produce. When you and I talk about Jesus, God might use those words to spur someone to Him. Our words might spark a heartbeat of faith, change a life, or even work a miracle.

Who is hearing about Jesus from you?
Could your "Jesus talk" spur a person toward salvation?
Could your casual conversation about God be what He uses to save someone's soul?

The Bible tells us that "without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). In another passage, the scriptures state that "faith comes by hearing" (Romans 10:17). Perhaps, today your casual conversation could be used by God to work a miracle in someone's life. The truth is that there is great healing that can happen when someone hears about Jesus.

Something New

"Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert." – Isaiah 43:19.

The spring season is almost here, and signs of new life surround us. The warm breeze on our skin, the green buds on a tree, and even the sweet melody of a robin declare to us that anything is possible. God uses these signs of life to remind us that He is always in the business of new beginnings.

Spring can also be a great time to look at some of the negative thoughts, attitudes, or habits that we might have accumulated this past winter. Many times, we tend to push these emotions into the furthest corners of our psyche, just like the items we store in a junk closet, thinking if we hide them, we won't have to deal with them. But as anyone with a junk closet knows, just closing the door and ignoring the clutter doesn't mean that stuff isn't piling up. The mess is still there, even when we don't want to deal with it daily.

God is always ready to help us clean out the areas of our lives that we are too ashamed to reveal to anyone, even Him. We should keep in mind that God is never afraid of our messes. He is not surprised by the junk we have hoarded. He knows what is hidden, seeing everything we tried to ignore. With the power of His love, He can bring out the wreckage of broken dreams, shattered hopes, and dismal failures into the light of His amazing grace. One by one, He can help us decide what needs to be kept and, more importantly, what must be discarded. If the "junk" in your life keeps you from experiencing the abundant life God wants, it's best to throw it away.

During the spring season, The Salvation Army promotes the idea of decluttering and cleaning out unnecessary items from our closets. This is an excellent opportunity to give away our old clothes, furniture, knick-knacks, and dishes to those less fortunate and in need. But this year, while you are busy figuring out what to donate and what to keep, it might be good to remember that God's season of refresh doesn't have to stop with the physical items we bring from our homes. The true renewal He wants to do is also in our hearts because God is in the business of new beginnings. The key is to remember that there is no time like the present for God to do something new.