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Devotions for Life

Serious Business

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).

Luke 9 represents somewhat of a turning point in God’s word. In this chapter, Jesus’ apostles to be are given a taste of the ministry which awaits them as he sends them out to “preach the kingdom of God” (vs. 2) throughout the towns in the area. Not long after their return, the twelve gather with Jesus as He prays (vs. 18). From this point forward, Jesus equips them with vital information.

First, Jesus establishes His conditions of ministry: the fact that He is God’s Son (18 – 20). The people of Judea have no idea of Jesus’ identity, believing Him to be Elijah, John the Baptist, or one of the prophets. Peter correctly identifies Jesus as “the Christ of God.” As God’s son, Jesus has all authority (Matthew 28:18).

Second, Jesus gives the charge to his disciples to “deny themselves” by taking up their crosses daily and following Him (vs. 23). Certainly, His disciples had never heard such a message. Jesus also made it known that to follow Him begins with a desire to do so.

Third, this new lifestyle of denial will require a change. From this point forward, every facet of their lives will be under Jesus’ control. Another version renders Luke 9:23 in this fashion: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead” (Message).

Finally, this change will have consequences. It may require a complete denial of all the world has to offer. However, Jesus assures them that anyone “who loses his life for My sake will find it” (vs. 24). In other words, what Jesus offers far transcends anything the world offers. In fact, focusing only on the world’s wealth – rather than eternal – is not profitable (vs. 25).

Today, we as God’s children reap the benefits of this lifestyle. Are you taking up the cross?

Song: “I Surrender All”

“Father, I pray that I’ll never be afraid – or ashamed – to take up the cross daily. May my life bring glory to You and Lord Jesus, always and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Kenny Westmoreland, Celina, TN (lesterk@excite.com)



He Is Not Like Us

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 50:21 – “These things you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you. I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.”

The police silently pulled up in front of the house in the early morning hours. Lights were on in the house, and in the covering of darkness they surrounded the place. Then they pounded on the door, announced themselves, and broke in the door to enter the house.

As the couple were being led from the house to the police cruiser, neighbors stood around watching all that was going on. The man yelled at the bystanders and chastised his neighbors for calling the police. He said, “We didn’t think you cared. Nobody ever said anything.” One of the neighbors replied, “You made the mistake of concluding that our silence meant approval.”

This is not the only instance in which it may have appeared that God was slow in answering prayer. Habakkuk cries out to God, “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, Violence! Yet You do not save.” Why were there 400 years between the testaments?

I certainly can conclude that those gaps in time were not because God is like us. Isaiah 55:9 – “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Often we hear comments about the length of time it has been since the promised return of Jesus. Their conclusion is that there must not be any return at all. But His silence does not mean that God is just like us.

Song: “Unto Thee Oh Lord”

God, we not only acknowledge your return, but we anticipate it. We want to be ready and that means that we acknowledge who you are and follow in your footsteps. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Dennis Russell, Santa Maria, CA
dennislrussell@comcast.net



Holy Ground

“Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

Moses was told that the ground by the burning bush is holy ground, ground made holy by the presence of God. We sing two songs both called “Holy Ground.” They can convey the idea that where a group is gathered is holy ground and this is true. However, have you ever thought that as a Christian where you are is holy ground? It doesn’t matter whether you are alone or in a group, you are standing on holy ground.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you. If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” (I Corinthians 3:16-17).

Paul said. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

Peter tells us to be holy in all our behavior because, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16).

We are warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God in Ephesians 4:30. When we do not try to resist temptation, when we do not try to become Christ-like, we grieve the Holy Spirit. We grieve Him by failing to acknowledge that we are on holy ground.

Let us, as we go through life, remember that where we are is holy ground.

Song: “Holy Ground”

Ever present Father, God we fail at times to acknowledge Your presence and that where we are You are. May we never lose sight of the fact that we are in Your mighty and awesome presence. In the name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.

Ed Wittlif, Denver, Colorado
es_witt_504@yahoo.com