today’s devotional

March 14, 2017

I’m certainly not a botanist. Many people can quickly identify and name plant species. I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between plants and weeds. But, I would benefit spiritually from being a specific kind of botanist: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!” (Luke 12.27-28) 

“Consider the lilies.” Focus your attention on these beautiful wildflowers that appear for a time, and then quickly wither and are gathered to be burned. They have a brief, inherent beauty for which they do not labor. The point? Will our gracious Father not provide us with needed clothing? In fact, also “Consider the ravens” (Luke 12.24) whom God feeds. Will our Father also not put food on our tables?

Ultimately, Jesus’ great point is to prioritize the kingdom of God first (Luke 12.31). Personally, I found special joy and a greater awareness of this priority as I this morning prayed the model prayer, taught by Jesus: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

There is a place and priority for honest work (2 Thessalonians 3.10), but an obsessive drive that overrides the key kingdom priority is misguided and disobedient for the follower of Christ.

May He gives us wisdom concerning our lifestyle, and freely direct our activities and priorities.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
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today’s devotional

March 7, 2017

An encounter with the Almighty can occur in the least likely of places. A man alone in the desert had an extraordinary nighttime encounter that changed the course of his life. "Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.' "

My "Bethel" will always be a very old one-room schoolhouse in northern Ohio where I believe I once heard the audible voice of God. For others, it's a special place at a summer camp, a room in a house, an area in the woods, or a place and time on a boat. In fact, it would be interesting to hear about your special "Bethel," if you would care to take the time to share it. 

Fact is, we have a Father who is actively seeking to reach and touch us. There is abundant evidence in the Bible that He has done such, and actively is doing so today. It's not that we earn or deserve an encounter with Him; it's that He cares and loves us enough to do so. 

Now, the deceiver stands ready to offer a counterfeit encounter, so discernment is of the utmost importance. For Jacob, as recorded in Genesis 28, the encounter did not yield some new revelation, but rather was a personal affirmation of promises made to father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. The encounter was for the purpose of confirming that those promises were also his.

The adventure of this day just might be that we will also discover that "the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it."

Praying that this is your discovery.
 
Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
Be sure to also visit http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/  

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today’s devotional

February 28, 2017

Antagonism. Admiration. Betrayal. Denial. These were all responses to Jesus on the eve of His suffering and death. 

Mark’s gospel records that, “the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him” (Mark 14.1) Jealous hatred consumed those who felt threatened by Jesus. But, in sharp contrast, “there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.” (Mark 14.3)  Lavish love and devotion was a higher priority than fiscal responsibility with a costly possession.

But, in even sharper contrast, “Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them.” (Mark 14.10) One of the inner circle, who should have had the deepest love and appreciation, instead committed the most dastardly deed.

Finally, there was Peter, who most emphatically declared his allegiance; to whom Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.” (Mark 14.30)

The hard-hearted religious leaders orchestrated the crime of the ages. A selfless woman’s act of love is inseparably tied to the gospel message (Mark 14.9). The betrayer, seeing the outcome of his cold-blooded deed, committed suicide. The one who denied would later repent with deep remorse, and would eventually be restored.

These responses and reactions represent the range of responses to Jesus. So, the urgent question before each of us today is: What will YOU do with Jesus? 

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
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today’s devotional

February 14, 2017

A man, desparate for help for his seriously ill son, implored, “if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” (Mark 9.22)

His desperate plea was more last resort that resolute faith. Challenging his plea, Jesus replied, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9.23) The One before this man was well able to accomplish this miracle. If anything was lacking, it was faith on this man’s part; to which he famously replied, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9.24) In essence, “I have an imperfect faith, but I have faith nevertheless. Lead my faith to be true faith indeed.”

Faith opens up new vistas and possibilities. To begin to see with faith, even imperfect faith, is to launch into exciting new frontiers, as Hebrews 11 vividly recounts.

While faith is the realm of possibilities, the burden of lingering illnesses and injuries does not fall on individual or collective lack of faith. Faith must exist for miracles and hearings to occur, but other circumstances sometimes override the faith factor. This side of the kingdom, mortality still reigns. Some sicknesses result in death; ultimate healing comes through resurrection. Grace is sufficient … power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12.9); God’s glory is sometimes displayed through illness and injury instead of through the absence of such. But, there is not the slightest possibility of the miraculous, for His glory, in the absence of faith. Faith does not guarantee the miraculous, but rather sets the playing field where such things can occur.

Without faith, we cannot ever hope to please our Father (Hebrews 11.6). With faith, we become bold explorers and pioneers, venturing into new territory bristling with possibility. That’s the adventure I hope we are eager for today – and every day.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
Be sure to also visit http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/

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today’s devotional

January 31, 2017

Whoever and whatever has our ear has influence. So it’s imperative that we be discerning.

“And He was saying to them, ‘Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.  For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.’ ” (Mark 4.24-25) 

These words have contemporary significance in a social media age. Only recently has the phrase, “fake news,” come to the forefront. Misinformation has factored into protests, hatred, and violence. Certainly the people of God should guard against such things at all costs.

What goes for secular information and input certainly goes for the spiritual. Am I getting information directly from Scripture, God’s Son and Spirit, or second hand from those who teach and/or preach about it, or have an opinion about it? What results is the law of returns: the measure given is the measure received.

The daily discipline of Bible reading, study, and prayer is far more important than we might realize. We each are subject to a nearly endless stream of secular information and
misinformation. Unless our lives are grounded daily with timeless truth, we will inevitably be swayed by whatever
information or misinformation we are most attentive to.

Make the deliberate choice to let God’s word truly have your ear.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
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today’s devotional

January 24, 2017

Presumptuous plans and ideas can be dangerous; even when a majority of people agree on the plan. 

“They said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ ” (Genesis 11.4) 

Many have speculated as to what exactly it was the people agreed to build. It may have been something based on astrology. Regardless, the plan was displeasing to God, and resulted in the legacy of a multi-lingual world in which we live in even today.

The problem is obvious when we read, “let us build … let us make … ” This was the idea of the masses, but not the desire of Yahweh God. The lesson and application is well stated in Psalm 127.1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.” 

Remnants of the Babel project remain today. Whenever we presumptuously plan, individually or collectively, without consulting our Creator, we risk planning in direct opposition to His will. The temptation is great to subtly restate Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer: “Not Your will, but mine be done.”

There is wisdom in making plans. But, our plans must always come under the umbrella of God’s direct desire and will. What plans would He have us make today? Let’s begin by seeking His kingdom and will first, and letting Him flesh out the plan in our lives. 

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
Be sure to also visit http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/

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today’s devotional

January 18, 2017

The cycle of days and seasons are a testament to grace. “the Lord said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains,  Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat,  And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.’ ” (Genesis 8.21-22)

God is faithful, not because we are good, but because it is His nature to be faithful. In spite of our enduring evil heart intentions, God showers us with His grace.

Grace and favor afford us an opportunity to reciprocate. Rather than allowing grace to become license for sinful indulgence, it can become an opportunity to become a grateful worshipper, and a blessing to those around us. As recipients of favor and grace, we can become administrators of it.

Savor His grace this day. Bask in the warmth of it. And, out of gratitude for it, freely dispense it to all you come in contact with today. May a dark and wicked world be warmer and brighter today because we served as conduits of His grace.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
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today’s devotional

January 10, 2017

The right way is seldom the easy way. Determination to pursue that which pleases God is a vital starting point. 

“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”(Genesis 4.7) 

A man named Cain was poised both mentally and physically to commit the first murder. A dejected and angry attitude became the mental seedbed from which sprang a horrific crime. But, as Yahweh God prescribed, right action could have led to a change of outlook and attitude. Right feelings would follow right action.

This makes good practical sense. “Sin is crouching at the door,” and waiting to master us, when we determine in our mind to pursue actions of disobedience. A guilty conscience then drags attitude down with it. But, in “doing well,” a positive outlook follows.

None of us will get it completely right today (Romans 3.23), but a determination to “do well,” aided by the dynamic internal Spirit of God, will go far in producing a good attitude and outlook, knowing that our heart’s desire is pleasing our Father, and His Son.

Attitude follows action. May we be committed to right action today, and reap the benefits of the ensuing good attitude that will result.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
Be sure to also visit http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/

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today’s devotional

January 4, 2017

It’s estimated that we are made up of 52 pounds of oxygen, 2 ounces of salt, 50 quarts of water, 3 pounds of calcium, 24 pounds of carbon, and trace amounts of a variety of other chemical compounds. That is a more detailed description of this basic truth: 

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2.7)

If the Lord God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” there is more to life than an assorted mixture of chemicals, water, and oxygen. Something of the very essence of God resides within us. Indeed, “God created man in His own image.” (Genesis 1.27) However sin-tarnished we might be, we still bear the image and nature of our Creator. And, the creature should increasingly resemble the Creator in all aspects; namely, lifestyle and behavior.

The truest prototype and example of how humans should resemble the Creator is Jesus, the perfect Son of God. In every way, He models for us the high ideal of lifestyle. And, not only that, He actively works within all who are willing to flesh out that lifestyle and character. “He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7.25) 

Let’s make it our highest priority to reflect our Creator in how we live. Let’s do so through the presence and power of His perfect Son. May all His creatures honor their Creator as He intended.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
Be sure to also visit http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/

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today’s devotional

January 3, 2017

The broken will be made whole. Not necessarily now, but then. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5.3-6) 

No one goes through life without at least some brokenness; some extremely so. And some of life’s brokenness and tragedy is so appalling as to leave us pleading, “Your kingdom come.” And it will. For the desperately hurting, it can’t come soon enough.

I’ve recently been reading a book about the persecution and suffering followers of Christ face in predominantly Muslim countries. My minuscule sufferings are nothing in comparison. Their lot in life is almost too horrible to read about or comprehend. But, the kingdom will bring ultimate relief and restitution.

We bear the greatest good news of all: a coming government, led by a perfect ruler. It can be realized in part today, even as we anticipate its fulness. As we wait, we administer it as we are Spirit enabled. We help broken people. We are agents of mercy, reconciliation, and comfort.

Brokenness will always be in and around us in abundance. Kingdom hope lifts our eyes from what is to what will be, and allows it to begin to trickle down today. May that wholeness flow out to you, and from you today.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2016
Be sure to also visit http://thetruthrevolution.wordpress.com/

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