today’s devotional

November 21, 2017

Sin boldly. Let me quickly clarify that this isn’t my advice, but rather a perspective that some have concerning sin and God’s grace.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6.1)

The reasoning is that God’s grace is abundantly displayed amidst sin so, the more we sin, the more abundant grace and mercy. We’re doing God a favor, so to speak, by sinning. Logical sounding perhaps, but it’s seriously flawed logic. The response is this:

“May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6.2)

God’s grace through Christ covers our sins but, rather than seeking to display God’s grace through the habit of sin, we must come to terms with the fact that we have died to sinful practice. Baptism (Romans 6.3-7) represents our death to self and sin, and our resurrected new life in Christ. We don’t live to sin; we live to please Christ. His life is our life; His ways our ways. It’s best summed up this way:

“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6.11)

If my old self is dead to sin, that means the practice of sin is no longer my practice. Sure, I’ll slip up and sin, but my life can no longer be characterized by sinful habits. My only life is God through Christ.

So, what is the life of God through Christ prompting in you and I today? Few questions could be an important to ponder.

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional

November 15, 2017

What is it that you are called to do? A “call” seems to be a mysterious sense of leading that some followers of Christ profess to have. Fact is, all of us have been “called.”

“While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13.2-3)

These men were called to proclaim the gospel to people who had never heard. We too are called to proclaim the gospel, both in what we say and how we live.

“you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2.9)

We have received a high calling to a vitally-important work. Much of Acts 13 contains a great summary of the message we are called to share (Acts 13.16-41). Our lives must be lived consistently with this message. A holy God calls us to live holy lives.

God’s call is important to us, and to others. There are those around us who need to hear and see the gospel; “the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8.12)

May His calling be effective in our lives, and the lives of those we influence.

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional

November 14, 2017

You have likely heard the saying that “the handwriting is on the wall.” It has a historic and biblical basis (Daniel 5).

The setting is a lavish, royal banquet held in October, 539 BC. Gold worship vessels, taken from the Jerusalem temple, were brought out and profanely used in this ungodly feast. Amidst the revelry, a shocking thing happened – “Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing.” (Daniel 5.5)

A mysterious and somber message was written, which Daniel ultimately interpreted: ” ‘MENĒ, MENĒ, TEKĒL, UPHARSIN.” This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENĒ’-God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. ‘TEKĒL’-you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. ‘PERĒS’-your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5.25-28)

What could be worse than being weighed in God’s scales and found deficient? Even if we are not as vile and profane as this wicked king, the verdict would still be the same based on our own human merit: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23) God’s scales would tip to our detriment. For that reason, we are immensely grateful that God’s Son has “tipped the scale” in our favored direction: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6.23)

Every person will ultimately be weighed in God’s scales. If you were placed on them today, which way would they tip? Is Jesus determining the outcome, or are you daring to be weighed on your own merit? “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8.1)

If your confidence is the He is weighing the balances for you, rejoice and gratefully live a God-pleasing lifestyle. If not, turn to Him in faith today. We’d love to talk with you about this most-important decision.

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional

November 8, 2017

Dare to be a Daniel. Few stand out in the Bible as does this exceptional young man. Taken away from his homeland and family as a young teen, he exhibited character qualities that far exceeded his years. He and some of his exceptional teen friends were placed in a cultural immersion program to purge them of their Jewish values and beliefs, and reshape them into Babylonian cultural emissaries. It proved to be an exercise in futility.

“Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself … At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food.” (Daniel 1.8,15) Per God’s blessing on their faithfulness, the cultural immersion program failed.

“As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.” (Daniel 1.17) Strange as it might sound, God directed these young men to excel in the Babylonian culture; undoubtedly a very ungodly system. But, God would have the last word. These young men would prevail over the system rather than the other way around.

Our culture seeks to shape us into its mold, and away from conformity to the will and word of God. Whether a teen or long ago a teen, Daniel and his friends serve as excellent examples of those who stand with character integrity amidst an ungodly environment. Dare to be a Daniel.

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional;

November 7, 2017

A roadblock to sharing the gospel with others is not knowing exactly what to share. Thus, Bible passages that give us a gospel summary are especially helpful and important. One such passage is Acts 10.34-43. Here we find the truth that the gospel is available to all people:

“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” (Acts 10.34-35)

With a recognition of this fact, it is important to share “the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.” (Acts 10.37). This involves familiarity with the earthly life and ministry of Christ, as we learn in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Verse 38 is a good summary. This will certainly include the declaration and demonstration of His main message, the kingdom of God.

His suffering, death, and resurrection are all important in sharing the gospel (verses 39-41). Unlike the apostles, we cannot testify that we were literally eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ, but this is a great opportunity for us to declare our testimony concerning how the risen Christ has changed our lives.

Lastly, sharing that God has appointed Him judge of the living and dead, and that saving faith in Him saves us from sin, is important (verses 42-43).

Acts 10.34-43 is a great gospel pattern passage for sharing. May we use it effectively, as those empowered by Holy Spirit.

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional

November 1, 2017

It’s sometimes called the “God-in-a-box” syndrome. It’s a human tendency to try and resize our Creator into a package of our choosing.

“David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is the footstool of My feet; What kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord,
‘Or what place is there for My repose? ‘Was it not My hand which made all these things?’ ” (Acts 7.46-50)

A place designed for an encounter with our Father isn’t necessarily a bad thing. God initiated this very thing when He gave detailed instructions for the tabernacle. But, when a time and place for such an encounter becomes all-inclusive in our thinking, our perspective on God becomes seriously jaded. We’ve confined Him to a box. Our view of God becomes much too small and limited.

Many of us have had special encounters with God in worship in a church building. For that we are greatly thankful. But, such encounters are merely touchstones; the tip of the iceberg so to speak. Know that He is infinitely greater than we imagine.

Modern technology, which allows us to peer far deeper into the universe than ever before, reveals that the universe is far greater than we previously imagined. Such knowledge reminds us that its Creator – and ours – is infinitely greater as well. May we “ponder anew,” as a hymn admonishes, how great and marvelous our God is. The greater we see Him, the greater the possibilities through Him.

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional

October 31, 2017

We are called to watch. That doesn’t mean we are passive observers, but rather diligent guardians. “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me.” (Ezekiel 3.17)

It’s not an easy role, but it certainly is an important one. What God has revealed to us from His word, we relate to His people. Often His word is encouraging, but there are also sober warnings. We bring “the whole counsel of God” to bear on our lives, and the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, that’s what we signed up for when we agreed to become disciples through Christ.

A specific “watchman role” falls upon elders and pastors, but that role also extends to us all. If we care about our lives, and those we love in the body of Christ, then we diligently watch according to His word. Nothing would be more unloving than to fail to bring spiritual correction and counsel to bear on the life of someone veering from the path of life.

God’s word is to be applied as well as read. That why it says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”(2 Timothy 3.16-17)

Watch out for yourself, and one another, with His word. We need to care enough to encourage with it, but also confront lovingly when needed. We are called to be diligent watchmen, for the good of His people.

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional

October 25, 2017

What does God look like? If He directly revealed Himself to you, how would you put it into words? That’s the challenge in what we read in Ezekiel 1.

“Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God … (the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the Lord came upon him.)” (Ezekiel 1.1,3)

What Ezekiel saw is described in detail in the following verses. We’re left to try and visualize what he describes, and it may sound more like science fiction than fact. But, we will miss the main point if we bog down in the details; we’ll miss the proverbial tree for the forest. The fact is, on a certain date and in a specific place, Creator God revealed Himself to a man named Ezekiel. God initiated an encounter to call and commission a man for a very important work.

The same applies to us. He reveals Himself to us through His Son to change, call, and commission us (read Ezekiel 2.1-5). His Spirit enters us at conversion (Act 2.38). As we are instructed through His word, we come to terms with His call to take His message and truth to a people who desperately need to hear.

Ezekiel’s encounter and call is ours as well. A careful reading and study of Ezekiel 1 and 2 are important as we consider who He is, and what He calls us to do.

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional

October 24, 2017

They are three vitally important verses:

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” (Acts 3.19-21)

We are called to “repent and return.” Agree with God concerning sin in your life. Regret the error of your ways, and return to Him so that your sins may be “wiped away;” erased and forgiven. This is all done through faith in the sinless Son of God, who has paid the price for our sin. God will then send Jesus to us: now, through the inner presence of Holy Spirit, but ultimately in the future at His literal return. Notice:

“whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”

Seated now at our Father’s right hand, Jesus remains there “until the period of restoration of all things.” A future age is coming in which all that is damaged and broken will be restored to perfection. That includes us. Aging, weakening, frail mortal bodies will be replaced with perfect, limitless ones. Broken emotions and mental conditions will also be replaced with perfect ones. And, the earth will be returned to its paradise splendor, as it was in the beginning.

These three verses are the salvation plan in a nutshell. They are “the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 8.12) May they encourage us as we take them to heart, and may we freely share them with others.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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today’s devotional

October 18, 2017

It’s not about how well you begin, but how you continue. Many runners at a track meet or marathon start out with their best energy, only to become winded and lag behind or quit before the race is finished. Endurance is the key.

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8.31-32)

I’ve seen new believers, wet from the waters of baptism, bristling with spiritual energy and determination to make a difference for Christ and the kingdom. Sadly, some quickly faded because the experience of that moment was the only real energy they had. Those who were wiser devoted themselves to spiritual disciplines and allowed God and Christ to mature them. These continue to run the race with endurance.

There is no substitute for continuing in the word of Christ, which is also the word of His Father (John 5.30). Unless we incorporate His words into our lives, we will not endure long as His disciples. We cannot profess to be His disciples if we are not increasingly becoming familiar with Him through His words! And doing so is not burdensome, because we come to know and experience liberating truth.

Honestly, how much time are you spending reading, studying, and knowing Christ’s word? Hopefully we can each answer in a positive way. But, if we know we are inadequate in this area, now is a good time for a mid-course correction. Today can be the day that we resolve to truly continue in His word, know the truth, and be liberated through it. This moment affords each of us a wonderful opportunity to develop endurance that will carry us to the very end of the race, with no reason to be ashamed.

Steve

©Steve Taylor, 2017

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