devotions written by Deborah Galyen
“Be not silent, O God of my praise!” (v1). The psalmist felt unjustly accused and persecuted; yet, instead of taking vengeance himself, he turned to God, the righteous Judge. The psalmist’s enemy lied about him and abused others without remorse: “For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death” (v16). Not trusting the world’s system of justice, the psalmist called on God to make things right.
“He loved to curse; let curses come upon him” (v17). Aggressive, selfish behavior destroys the perpetrator and those around him, unless through repentance and grace he is changed.
“Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever” (v12). Even though it was shameful for a husband to take back a wife who had married another man (v1), God promised to welcome Israel home if they repented. If they turned to Him, God wanted to heal them: “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (v15).
God’s mercy is far greater than our own. He not only welcomes us home when we repent, but He restores us and gives us a future.
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (2:13). Jeremiah was given the difficult task of warning
The effort to create our own comfort, pleasure, and security always ends in death; but God, revealed in Jesus Christ, offers us “the fountain of living waters.”
“For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory” (v18). Isaiah prophesied that one of history’s great surprises would be the future people of God. Those who followed ritual sacrifice but whose hearts were idolatrous (v3,17) would be rejected, while people from “all nations and tongues” who called on God would be welcomed into His holy kingdom.
God’s desire is that “all flesh shall come to worship before Me” (v23). He is looking not for outward compliance, but for men and women who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John -24).
“The wolf and the lamb shall graze together … they shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain” (v25). Since wolves and lions still eat other animals, we know that this holy, new earth is still to come (v16). Yet Isaiah’s prophecy is not all future; Jesus proclaimed that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mark ) because He Himself was the embodiment of that perfect kingdom, where God’s will is supreme.
As the Spirit of Jesus transforms us, this God-centered kingdom becomes more of a reality in our lives: “I create
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (v14). Paul believed that eternal life with Jesus was well worth any sacrifice. We are not left alone to struggle upward, but through faith we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection, becoming “citizens of heaven” (v20). Submitting our lives to God as Jesus did (sharing in His death), His resurrection power also works in us to bring new life and carry us into eternity (v10-11).
As we press on day by day, we can be confident that Jesus’ power is working in us, using our present difficulties to prepare us for the glorious future (v20-21).
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ ... in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ” (v7-9). Paul warned the believers not to trade real salvation, which comes by faith, for a false conformity to cultural and religious expectations. Paul fulfilled all those expectations, yet he considered them worthless compared to knowing Christ.
The ways we earn status and gain acceptance in society (v5,6) are nothing compared to “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (v8).
“I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your steadfast love is great above the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds” (v3-4). The psalmist saw Israel’s great needs (v6), yet he began his petition by praising God’s faithfulness. He was fully convinced of God’s steadfast love, and therefore his own heart was at rest, despite the situation (v1). The psalmist could ask for help on Israel’s behalf based on his confidence in God’s character.
“With God we shall do valiantly” (v13). In all our battles, we can trust the God of steadfast love and faithfulness.
“And He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them” (63:9). This is how God revealed Himself to Abraham and his descendents – the God of love and salvation. So when
God’s love and mercy will never fail us. He is the only true God, the One who “acts for those who wait for Him” (64:4).
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives …” (61:1). Jesus quoted this verse as He announced His own mission in a synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4), and He did exactly what Isaiah prophesied. Jesus healed the sick, comforted the brokenhearted, and inaugurated the year of the Lord’s favor, His salvation, which continues today.
Filled with His Spirit, Jesus’ mission is our mission. We testify about Him to the world and join His work of repairing and building up what is broken (61:4).
“Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise” (v18). Isaiah’s beautiful, poetic prophecy describes the glory of
Everything that is of God and for God, in the end, will be redeemed. The “abundance of the sea” and “the wealth of nations” (v5), along with us, will glorify Him forever.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped," but made Himself nothing (v5-8). Jesus’ life on earth was the opposite of our human striving for recognition, status, and power. Paul urged believers to take Christ as our model, because self-sacrificial love is God’s method to accomplish His purposes. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (v13).
As we reject self-advancement and pride in order to serve others, we “shine as lights in the world” (v15).
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ … that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side” (v27). Paul wanted the Philippian believers to take full advantage of their freedom (not being in prison as he was), using each day as an opportunity to glorify Jesus. A large part of their witness depended on their relationships to one another: being “in one spirit” and “striving side by side,” rather than fighting or competing among themselves.
Firm in their faith and their mutual support, the Philippian believers had no reason to fear their opponents. Their lives had purpose in life and eternity.
“As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (v20). Paul viewed all of life through the lens of “how will this serve Christ?” He could see many benefits to his imprisonment: he was testifying to the “whole imperial guard” (v13), others were preaching more boldly (v14), and the gospel advanced (v12).
Paul’s prayer for believers was that “your love would abound more and more, with all knowledge and discernment,” (v9) because when love for Christ motivates us, we see our own lives differently.
March 4: Philippians 3:10-21 (03/04/2014)
March 3: Philippians 3:1-9 (03/03/2014)
March 2: Psalm 108 (03/02/2014)
March 1: Isaiah 63-64 (03/01/2014)
February 28: Isaiah 61-62 (02/28/2014)
February 27: Isaiah 60 (02/27/2014)
February 26: Philippians 2 (02/26/2014)
February 25: Philippians 1:21-30 (02/25/2014)
February 24: Philippians 1:1-20 (02/24/2014)
February 23: Psalm 107:23-43 (02/23/2014)
February 22: Isaiah 58-59 (02/22/2014)
February 21: Isaiah 57 (02/21/2014)
February 20: Isaiah 56 (02/20/2014)
February 19: Isaiah 55 (02/19/2014)
February 18: Ephesians 6:10-24 (02/18/2014)
February 17: Ephesians 6:1-9 (02/17/2014)
February 16: Psalm 107-1-22 (02/16/2014)
February 15: Ephesians 5 (02/15/2014)
February 14: Ephesians 4 (02/14/2014)
February 13: Isaiah 54 (02/13/2014)