let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause anoth er believer to stumble and fall. (Romans 14:13)

Thought:

It is all down to the decisions we make in the end. Anyone can hear the message of the gospel preached and find themselves agreeing with it. Many people have seen the value of the wisdom in the Bible. But it only really begins to make a real difference when those who agree with it, and believe in it, actively decide to live by it. I have said many times that no man can convert another man, all he can do is share what he knows of God and leave the rest in the hands of the Holy Spirit. But once a person has heard and believed, then they must make the decision to act themselves. We must all choose to serve God. That being the case, and knowing in our own hearts how hard it is to choose the Lord’s way over our own desires, you’d think we might be a little less prone to think of ourselves as better or worse than others. But seeing as we all know how easy it is to judge others poorly, or just behave badly in general, perhaps simply making a new decision again, to try not to lead others astray, might be a good starting point.

Word:

Romans 14:10-19 NLT

So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticised for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

Goal:

Paul points out that life in the kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink. So many people I know, who struggle with faith, are terribly caught up in the complex comings and goings of the law and all the many religious customs. No two believers will ever agree on every last point of theology but we can all agree on who our God is and how and why we are able to develop a personal relationship with him. My constant aim with this project, is to encourage a greater sense of harmony in our church, by focusing on the simple and universal messages in the Bible. Today my goal is just to remember that I am a sinner. Not better or worse than anyone else. We all appear flawed in our own eyes, but flawed or not, in God’s eyes, we are loved as if we were his own children. Which is why, as believers, we should love each other as if we were brothers and sisters.

Today’s readings:

2 Chronicles 29:1-36, Romans 14:1-23, Psalms 24:1-10, Proverbs 20:12

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (Psalm 23:1)

Thought:

This is such a well known psalm, I am almost scared to comment on its message! But today was my first day back at work after a four month absence. I have to tell you, I was astonished to read this Psalm this morning in my NLT One Year Study Bible. I mean, of all the scriptures that could have coincided with this day? This well know Psalm speaks of God being all we need, and faith in God being the key to survival against all that the world will throw at us. As I move forward into this new chapter of my life, I know that the Lord will be with me. During the last, frightening months, he truly has let me rest in green pastures and has led me beside peaceful streams. Whenever I have been too tired, he really has renewed my strength. I can say with absolute conviction that my cup is overflowing with blessings I had not imagined. The Lord’s unfailing love has been shown to me in my time of greatest need.

Word:

Psalms 23:1-6 NLT

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name.
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honour me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Goal:

Verse 5 really speaks to me today. Throughout my time of greatest trial, God has not abandoned me, in fact, I have never felt so well provided for. At no time in the last few months, a time of real uncertainty for me, have I gone without. Always I have been provided for. Not only that, I have been constantly reminded, in house group, at bible study, and by the brotherhood of fellowship in general that God has…plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future… (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) Also, I have felt blessed in this project, and I feel the hand of my Lord on my shoulder as I keep on writing these devotionals. Surely his goodness will pursue me and perhaps I will serve in his house in future.

Today’s readings:

2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27, Romans 13:1-14, Psalms 23:1-6, Proverbs 20:11.

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:21)

Thought:

This is one of the most famous principles in all Christian teaching. This passage below encapsulates and reveals the whole point of forgiveness. Essentially, holding grudges and plotting revenge on those who have wronged us benefits nobody. All that happens is that evil is magnified and misery is inevitable. Over the last few months, I have had to take a number of “hits” in my life. In fact, only yesterday, I was hit again and it was hard not to think of making a strong legal retaliation. But the words in today’s passage have made a massive difference the whole situation. It doesn’t matter what the details are in my life or in yours, the truth of the matter is always the same – forgiveness is much more powerful than revenge.

Word:

Romans 12:14-21 NLT

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Goal:

I really believe it is possible to bless those who persecute you. Let them have what ever it is they want from you…nothing is too hard to give away. Pride is heavy and it weighs you down, I have had to let all mine go just to stay standing. My goal is to do more of the things written in today’s passage. I can see there is no point in revenge and so I won’t take it. But I wish I would get to the point where I never even thought about it!
Dear Lord and Father, help me not to be overwhelmed by those who would wish me ill. Instead, help me to overwhelm them with the power of your forgiveness. Help me to show my enemies a true, loving kindness in exchange for their malice and bitterness. Help them to feel your forgiveness even though they are not seeking it.
Father, a friend of mine once wept with me when I was heartbroken… Let me never forget his wonderful act of empathy and compassion as he shared my pain, and inspire me to do something like that for someone else should they ever need me to…. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Today’s readings:

2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28, Romans 12:1-21, Psalms 22:19-31, Proverbs 20:8-10

for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. (Romans 11:14)

Thought:

It is often hard for people these days, to grasp how it is that a man who was referred to as the king of the Jews, could possibly have anything to do with them here and now. Oddly, back in the first days of the church, it was the Jews who had trouble grasping the true extent to which Jesus was indeed their King. They simply couldn’t come to terms with the idea that Jesus had defeated death, fulfilled the law and so by his sacrifice, all who accepted this and turned to him, would no longer be doomed to die having failed to live up to the Law of Moses, but would instead have everlasting life. They preferred to stick with Moses, who had always been their benchmark. It is the same today, people just want to stick with what they already know. Paul wanted make the Jews jealous of the favour the Lord showered over the new Gentile believers. He desperately wanted the Jews, Gods chosen people, his own people to be saved. So he hoped that they would see the reality of their living God in the lives of the Gentiles and be galvanised into actively seeking their own salvation.

Word:

Romans 11:13-18 NLT

I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead! And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too. But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.

Goal:

My goal is to encourage the fellowship of believers that I know, to let the Lord shine out brightly in their lives. I hope that he would shine so brightly, that those who come into contact with the church could not possibly miss it or mistake it for anything else. Also, I hope that we believers would never be smug or complacent in our faith. We must always remember, as Paul reminds us, that we are wild olive branches grafted, by the grace of God onto his special, chosen olive tree. We are mere twigs, that don’t even deserve to be there!

Today’s readings:

2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21, Romans 11:13-36, Psalms 22:1-18, Proverbs 20:7

Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying, “I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed my self to those who were not asking for me.” (Romans 10:20)

Thought:

By the time I finally found God, about two and a half years ago, I had taken to calling myself an atheist when asked about my religious affiliations. I was neither looking for, or asking for God. Now, that is not to say that I had no knowledge of him, or that I had never hoped to know God. But I had not been able to commit my life to the Lord and so I had stopped trying. I had stopped thinking about him and I had stopped seeking after him.
In the passage below, Paul asks some stunningly simple questions: how can anyone believe and therefore be saved by Jesus unless those who already know about him have the conviction to go out and tell people. People, mostly, are not actively looking for God, some are, of course, but most are not. The crucial point here is that just because they are not actively seeking God, it doesn’t mean that they will not respond when they encounter those who have found God. Non believers do not usually beat at the doors of churches begging to be saved. But new believers, once they have begun a new journey of faith, very often feel they need to hear the message again a lot, so they can catch up with the rest of the church in their knowledge of the Lord. Some in the church need to go out and preach to non believers, but also, equally importantly, most in the church need to be ready and able to help new believers learn what they need to learn.

Word:

Romans 10:14-21 NLT

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have: “The message has gone throughout the earth, and the words to all the world.” But I ask, did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God said, “I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation. I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles.” And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying, “I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed myself to those who were not asking for me.” But regarding Israel, God said, “All day long I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious.”

Goal:

I want to remember how hungry I was (and still remain!) for as much knowledge of God, in the first months after I made my commitment, as I could get. I want to remember, so that I can always be ready to help new believers find what they need to in the early days of their walk of faith. My goal is to share my first response to the scriptures with others who want to learn how to commit their lives to Jesus like his disciples did. I want to share my journey, as I search out the ways of the kingdom of heaven in the hope that if I succeed, others might believe they can do it too.

Today’s readings:

2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37, Romans 10:14-11:12, Psalms 21:1-13, Proverbs 20:4-6

“The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” (Romans 10:8 quot ing Deuteronomy 30:14)

Thought:

It is a relief to read the passage for today. There is quite a lot written in the Bible which is difficult to understand. There also a lot in which it is hard to see the relevance to our modern experience of life. But here, Paul reminds us of how simple the message of the gospel really is. He sums it up by saying that everyone who believes in their hearts, and calls out to the Lord in confession that they believe, will be saved. In fact in my NLT Bible this passage is entitled, Salvation is for Everyone.
For anyone who is still struggling with the concept of salvation, I would briefly describe it like this. Imagine you could know true peace of mind from all the things that worry you and frighten you. Imagine not being afraid of dying or becoming ill or losing your job or letting your parents, partner or children down. Imagine total freedom to really enjoy your life and really do the things you dream of doing. That is what Salvation really means to me. As Jesus himself said: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)

Word:

Romans 10:5-13 NLT

For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Goal:

Faith is a very personal thing. No one person can ever claim to have converted any other person. Faith grows in our hearts the more we hear about the truth and love of God. Each time we hear the gospel preached or see the effects of another person’s faith lived out in their lives, the faith in our own hearts grows a little more. My Goal is simply to keep sharing what I read of God everyday in the hope that eventually, the faith that is growing in hearts of those that read TWG, might one day spill over and pour out of their mouths. Then, perhaps we will all spread this great love of God far and wide and see a new wave of salvation in our own time.

Today’s readings:

2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34, Romans 9:25-10:13, Psalms 20:1-9, Proverbs: 20:2-3

No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies. (2 Chronicles 14:6)

Thought:

During a time of peace in Judah, King Asa decided to do two things. The first was to turn back to the Lord by tearing down the alters and monuments to other Gods and commanding the people to seek and obey only the laws and commands of the Lord. The second was to build up and fortify the towns of Judah. The results were clear and immediate. The Lord gave Judah rest from their enemies and in that time of rest they were able to strengthen their towns so as to be able to resist their enemies better in the future. The same results are available to us today. When I turned my whole life towards the Lord a few years ago, I was surprised that all those around me were supportive and, so far, I have not had to face any real opposition, ridicule or serious challenge to my new faith from anyone. The lord has given me rest from enemies. Also, during this short time I have been inspired and crucially, I have been able to spend a lot of time studying the bible in order to build up my knowledge of God and so develop my faith.

Word:

2 Chronicles 14:1-7 NLT

When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace. During those peaceful years, he was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies. Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.

Goal:

I am fascinated by king Asa’s response to the peace he was blessed with when he turned the nation back to the Lord. He chose to spend time building up the defences of his fortified towns. My goal is to encourage my church to do a similar thing. In our country, there is a great deal of spiritual apathy but the church is not yet facing open hostility. I want to encourage as many people as will listen, that we must use this time of relative peace to build up our strength in the Lord. I want to see my friends in the church re-embracing the bible and spending regular time with God on a daily basis reading the holy scriptures. Let’s all spend this time of peace building up our church in order to face the revival we are all hoping for and, more importantly, the hostility which is sure to follow any such revival.

Today’s readings:

2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14, Romans 9:1-24, Psalms 19:1-14, Proverbs 20:1