"Give us each day our daily bread." ~ Luke 11:3
Read Pastor Karl's daily devotionals!
New devotionals will be posted Monday through Friday, and will remain here on the website for a week's time.
Thursday, June 17, 2021
"Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Philippians 4:13 is a fairly well known verse of Scripture: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
The verses that precede this declaration are less well known.
When the Apostle Paul speaks of being able to “do all things through him who strengthens me,” he is not talking about always coming out on the winning side. Paul is speaking specifically about enduring, or better yet, thriving, in any and all of the varying circumstances of life.
Since Paul belongs to Christ, no outward circumstances will defeat him.
These are good words to remember when life becomes difficult; they are also good words to remember when life is good. In Christ we are not dependent upon any of the circumstances of the day, good or bad.
The difficult circumstances of life will not defeat us.
The joyous circumstances of life ought not distract us from Christ Jesus our Lord.
In all the circumstances of our lives, we can be content.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
"To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare to him?
An idol? - A workman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold,
and casts for it silver chains.
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:18-19, 28, 31)
“Getting old isn't for sissies.”
These words were spoken to me by a woman of great Christian faith as she faced, and dealt with, the challenges that come with age. Aches and pains increase, while energy and vigor decrease. Tasks once performed without much thought become next to impossible. Taking a shower and getting dressed become exhausting.
These moments, these moments of great need, are moments when we realize our need for the Living God. Lifeless idols, no matter how ornate, will do us no good in such times. In times of need, we need the One who is the “Creator of the ends of the earth.”
We are in need, not just when we get older, but rather throughout our lives. We need the Living God through all the seasons of our lives. The Good News is that the Living God is with us, waiting for us to turn to him.
God is our strength no matter where we are today, no matter where you are today. He will provide strength for the challenges we face during each and every moment of our lives.
God simply asks that we put away our idols, and turn to Him.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
“Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place.” (Psalm 28:2)
We find it difficult to ask for help. We are accustomed to doing things on our own. We feel much more comfortable helping others, than asking for help for ourselves.
If asking for help is difficult, crying out for mercy is downright excruciating. Is there a more humbling act than that of "crying out for mercy?"
Another term for “excruciating” is “heart-rending."
Perhaps this is the best term for describing our crying out to the Lord for mercy. In order to “cry out for mercy" we must “rend our hearts,” or rather we must be willing to allow our hearts to be “rent” by God.
When our "hearts are rent” everything inside, both the good and the bad, is allowed to spill out. Much that spills out is not to our credit.
Only our faith in the grace of Christ Jesus our Lord allows us to “cry out” to Him for mercy. This faith makes us confident that no matter how polluted the contents that flow from our broken hearts might be, mercy will come.
All this happens, according to the Psalmist, as we lift up our hands toward God’s most Holy Place.
Monday, June 21, 2021
“Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’” (Luke 14:25-27)
Many Christians struggle with Jesus’ words in the above verses. Are we really to hate our mothers and fathers? The answer is “yes” and “no.” It all depends upon our understanding of Jesus’ use of the word “hate."
In verse 27 Jesus says that if anyone wants to be his disciple, that person must carry the cross and follow Him. Now, Jesus did not expect His disciples to carry crosses to Golgotha in order to be crucified at His side. Jesus was crucified with two violent criminals. When Jesus spoke of “carrying the cross” He meant something other than physically walking the same road that He walked on that first Good Friday.
Similarly, “hating” our family members means something different from wishing them harm, or worse, doing them harm.
Jesus uses powerful, over-the-top language to impress upon the crowds the cost of following Him. Jesus must have sensed that those in these large crowds following Him were thinking that following Him involved something less than a total life commitment.
Jesus tells them to count the cost.
If we want an illustration of what Jesus is talking about we can turn to the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans chapter nine. In this chapter Paul is agonizing over Israel’s rejection of Jesus.
Paul says, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. (Romans 9:3)
Paul was willing to “hate” his life to the point of sacrificing it for his fellow Israelites.
Jesus shocks his audience, and us, with the word hate in order to speak of the necessity of putting Him first.
We ought to let Jesus’ use of the word hate continue to alert us to the cost of following Him.
Friday, June 18, 2021
“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
There are two sides to “giving.”
The first side is the “giving up” side. This is our awareness of the things we cannot do, or purchase, because of the funds, or the time, we give away. Since our resources are limited, all of our giving involves a “giving up.”
We tend to be very, very aware of the “giving up” side of giving.
We don’t tend to be quite so aware of the second side of “giving.”
This side of giving is, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “sowing.” Paul speaks of giving by using the image of sowing a seed in order that it may grow into a productive plant. Paul calls us to focus on the “sowing" aspect of giving, more than the “giving up" aspect of giving.
By focusing on sowing we are able to give cheerfully.
All of our resources are limited. We only have so much money, energy, and time. Even as our resources are limited, they are, at the same time, also abundant. The Lord has provided abundantly for us.
If we focus on the “giving up” side of giving, we will either: not give, or give with resentment.
If we focus on the “sowing” side of giving, we will give cheerfully. For, we will give with an eye to what our Lord will do with our offerings.