devotions written by Deborah Galyen
II Peter 1
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (v3). Peter taught that Jesus has given us everything necessary for our years on earth. God’s desire is that we become “partakers of the divine nature” (v4), more like Christ, and we follow this process throughout our lives. It begins with faith in Jesus Himself (v5) and continues with virtue, goodness. As we participate with the Spirit’s work in our hearts, we also grow in knowledge, self-control, etc.
God wants us to be effective and fruitful (v8). Just as He has provided salvation as a gift, His divine power also shapes us into men and women who glorify Him.
I Peter 5
“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you …not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (v2-3). Peter addressed the elders of churches and urged them to be authentic, humble, Christ-imitating leaders. While in secular society, a person’s famous name, title, wealth, or connection might make them leaders, in the church, a person’s proven character was the main qualification (I Timothy 3).
We are called to be humble, whatever our role, because in the end we all serve the Good Shepherd. Knowing of this, we can live securely, “casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (v7).
I Peter 4
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (v12). Peter wrote to a church that was suffering under persecution, and he helped them understand it. They were following in Jesus’ footsteps, and therefore, as they shared His suffering, they would also share His glory (v13-14). Further, it was better to suffer as godly people than to endure the natural consequences of criminal activity (v13).
Whether we are experiencing the world’s favor or persecution, we are called to be self-controlled, sober-minded, and “above all, keep loving one another earnestly” (v8).
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (v1). This simple psalm reminds us that God’s desire is for His people to live together in real friendship, and this unity gives us a taste of “life forevermore” (v3). The oil that was poured out on Aaron (v2) was a sign of God’s anointing on the high priest, so that he could serve in the Temple and guide the people in worship.
According to the psalmist, living together in harmony is like this oil: a sign of the Lord’s presence and part of the way we honor our God who reconciled us to Himself.
“The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people” (v16). Joel saw cataclysmic visions of the great Day of Judgment (v14), and he saw multitudes in the “valley of decision” (v14) choosing between life and death. While God declared through Joel that this Day will come for all men and women, He promised to be “a refuge” for His own people.
The judgment we deserved fell on Jesus Christ, our refuge, and therefore we can choose life. We trust Joel’s vision of restoration: joy, abundance, and life forever (v17-20).
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (v32). The personal and global disasters of our times can make us call on God for salvation. Joel described a terrible army that rushed through Israel, destroying everything in its path (v3), and locusts that destroyed the product of hard work (ch 1). These disasters were the result of Israel’s abandonment of God, and so the Lord urged men and women to “return to Me with all your heart” (v12).
God is quick to hear us, to forgive us, and to save us. “He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (v13).
“Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD” (v14). The prophet Joel saw economic disaster all around him, and he had only one answer: cry out to God. The grain, wine, and oil were in short supply, and the storehouse was empty (v10, 17), and there was nothing to give for Temple offerings (v13). Joel knew only God could save them: “To you, O Lord, I call” (v19).
Whether our financial problems are by chance, by our choice, or because of others, God cares. He sees our need, and we can cry out to Him by faith.
I Peter 3
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (v8). Peter instructed believers to obey the general order of ancient society - emperors, governors, and at the home level, husbands - but not out of fear or weakness (v6). Rather, out of freedom, love, and humility, Peter urged the believers to behave in godly ways, to “seek peace and pursue it” as they lived out their individual callings as spouses and parents, workers, and members of civil society (v11).
No matter our nationality or life situation, we are unified by one calling that supersedes others: “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy” (v15).
I Peter 2
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (v9). Peter taught that believers in Christ are “sojourners and exiles” (v11) on the earth, and our true citizenship is in heaven. As members of God’s kingdom, the twisted and broken ways of the world do not have final authority over us – even death has lost its power.
Our priceless freedom has a purpose: we are called to do good in the world (v12, 15), so that Jesus’ name is glorified through us.
“Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall” (v18). Walking in integrity means living out, day by day, the values we say we believe in. According to this chapter, a life of integrity includes working hard (versus laziness, v19), generosity, honesty, honoring God and honoring others (including our parents, v24). The Scripture says that those who live this way will be “delivered,” while those who live deceptively are walking toward destruction.
We cannot avoid trouble and suffering, but as we sink our roots deep into God’s love and goodness, when the wind and the rain come, we are not easily shaken.
“For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place” (v13). From Genesis onward, God has wanted to be present among His people. Our sin separated us from Him, yet Israel’s history demonstrated God’s mercy and His persistent desire for reconciliation. In David’s time, God was present in the rituals of sacrifice and celebration in Jerusalem, and then God sent “the Word who became flesh and dwelled among us.” And whenever God is present, so are His gifts – salvation, provision, and protection (v14-18).
Now we are “God’s dwelling place by the Spirit” (Eph 2:22), and in this living Zion, His presence produces the same results: salvation and joy (v16).
“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them” (v4). Hosea called Israel to “return” to God and to repent of their rebellion (v1). Repentance means no longer worshipping the works of human hands – not idols, or wealth, or sexuality, or power (v3). Instead, Hosea called Israel to remember God’s character; He is the One who shows mercy to orphans and to everyone who humbles themselves.
God doesn’t forgive grudgingly; He welcomes us back with open arms. “They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine” (v7).
“It was I who knew you in the wilderness … they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me” (v5-6). God had rescued Israel from Egypt and given them the Promised Land, but once they were comfortable and secure, they turned away from Him. They made idols of silver, just like the pagan nations surrounding them, forgetting that God was their Source.
Israel’s rejection of God had terrible consequences, because – despite their accomplishments and prosperity – they could not live without their Rock. “You know no God but me, and besides me there is no Savior” (v4).
“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God” (v6). Hosea used the story of Jacob to remind the Israelites that God listens when we repent and call out to Him. Jacob was a deceiver and a manipulator, yet when he called on God at Bethel, God responded. Hosea warned northern Israel (Ephraim) and southern Israel (Judah) to give up their arrogant, sinful ways (v8), as Jacob did, before it was too late.
Arrogance and self-justification can keep us from asking for the help and forgiveness we desperately need. But when we humble ourselves, God is quick to respond.
September 26: Joel 2 (09/26/2014)
September 25: Joel 1 (09/25/2014)
September 24: I Peter 3 (09/24/2014)
September 23: I Peter 2 (09/23/2014)
September 22: Proverbs 28 (09/22/2014)
September 21: Psalm 132 (09/21/2014)
September 20: Hosea 14 (09/20/2014)
September 19: Hosea 13 (09/19/2014)
September 18: Hosea 12 (09/18/2014)
September 17: I Peter 1:1-12 (09/17/2014)
September 16: James 5 (09/16/2014)
September 15: James 4 (09/15/2014)
September 14: Psalm 131 (09/14/2014)
September 13: Hosea 11 (09/13/2014)
September 12: Hosea 10 (09/12/2014)
September 11: Hosea 9 (09/11/2014)
September 10: James 3 (09/10/2014)
September 9: James 2:10-26 (09/09/2014)
September 8: James 2:1-9 (09/08/2014)
September 7: Psalm 130 (09/07/2014)