Archive for October, 2020

Making a Difference


Written by Henry Blackaby, a contemporary pastor, author, and founder of Blackaby Ministries. This is an excerpt from his book “Experiencing God Day by Day.”

Would you dare to believe that God, who called you to Himself and equipped you with His Spirit, could work mightily through you? Have you made the connection between the time and place in which you live and God’s call upon you? World events never catch God by surprise. He placed you precisely where you are for a purpose.

Daniel did not let the temptations of his day interfere with his relationship to the Lord. He knew that to make his life useful to God he must be obedient in all things. Regardless of what the most powerful king in the world commanded, Daniel refused to compromise what he knew God required of him. History is replete with examples of Christian men and women who believed that God would work through them to make a significant difference for His kingdom. God placed Esther strategically in the king’s court at a crucial time when she could save the lives of God’s people (Esther 4:14). God placed Joseph strategically to become the most powerful adviser to the pharaoh in Egypt and to save Jacob and his family from a devastating drought (Genesis 41:39-40).

Are you allowing your surroundings to determine how you invest your life? Or are you letting God use you to make a difference in your generation? Ask God to reveal His purposes for you and His will for your life today.


This prayer is from the Book of Worship for the United Church of Christ.

Almighty God, you have given all peoples one common origin, and your will is to gather them as one family in yourself. Fill the hearts of all with the fire of your love and the desire to ensure justice for all our sisters and brothers. By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure justice and equality for every human being, and a human society built on love and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Written by Suzanne Eller, a contemporary Christian author and head of TogetHER ministries. This is an excerpt from her devotional “Come With Me.”

Jesus’ stomach caves in with hunger. He doesn’t have to be in the wilderness. With one word, the stones at Jesus’ feet could be turned to bread, but he stands firm. The adversary taunts Jesus. “You don’t have to be  hungry. Take things into your own hands.” Jesus faces the enemy head-on, declaring that obedience to his Father is greater than satisfying a right-now hunger. He refuses to be deceived by one who cares less about him and more about the destruction of his soul.

We have all heard that voice of enticement. It calls us to compromise or fulfill an instant longing that takes us from the will of God. It demands that we take things into our own hands and strip them from God’s. We are not alone in this battle. Our heavenly Father is aware of our needs, far beyond the right now. He will help us overcome temptation to walk into our destiny. Our Father promises to lift us above temporary desires to lasting transformation.


This prayer is from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

Almighty God,

whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit

to be tempted by Satan;

Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations;

and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us,

let each one find you mighty to save;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Following Jesus


Written by Christopher Hudson, a contemporary Christian author. This is an excerpt from his book “Following Jesus Daily Devotional.”

Why do we love TV shows that feature makeovers (of people, houses, etc.) or those that track unknown people becoming national singing sensations? Surely, it’s because such stories remind us that change is possible; and deeper than that, they hint at the most miraculous transformation of all.

When Jesus began gathering followers, he essentially said: Follow me, and I will transform you into something you’re not. If you’ll come to me and remain with me, your life will never be the same. In the end, you’ll actually become like me. This is why we come to Jesus. We come to him not only for forgiveness and the promise of eternal life—as amazing as those things are—but in order to become like him.  Following Jesus isn’t about acquiring theological information. It’s embarking on a journey of personal transformation. It isn’t only about heaven one day; it’s about holiness right now.


Written by Ambrose (339-397), a bishop of Milan.  He contributed to theology and doctrine of the early Christian Church and influenced Augustine of Hippo.

O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of Your Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore You, a heart to delight in You, to follow and to enjoy You, for Christ’s sake. Amen.


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Idols and Idolatry


Written by Athenagoras (c133-c190), an Athenian Father of the Church and Christian apologist, philosopher, and convert to Christianity. This is from his letter “A Plea Regarding Christians,”

It is like the potter and the clay. The clay is matter, the potter is an artist. So is God the creator an artist, while matter is subject to him for the sake of his art. But as clay cannot by itself become pottery without art, so matter, which is altogether pliable, cannot receive distinction, form, or beauty apart from God the creator. We do not, moreover, reckon pottery of more value than the potter, or bowls or vessels of gold than the artisan. If they have artistic merit, we praise the artist. It is he who reaps the renown for making them. So it is with matter and God. It is not matter which justly receives praise and honor for the arrangement and beauty of the world, but its creator, God. If, then, we were to worship material forms as gods, we should seem to be insensitive to the true God, identifying what is eternal with what is subject to dissolution and corruption. Beautiful, indeed, is the world in its all-embracing grandeur, in the arrangement of the stars, both those in the circle of the ecliptic and those at the Septentrion, and in its form as a sphere. Yet it is not the world, but its maker, who should be worshiped.


Written by the Lasallian Brothers, a  religious teaching organization founded by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle (1641-1719) in France and now based in Rome.

All-loving and ever-living God,

We pray with the prophet Isaiah:

“Yahweh, you are our Father;

We, the clay, you the potter,

We are all the works of your hand.”

Help us to trust in you.

Free us to be shaped by your love.

Help us to follow the example of your Son, Jesus,

Whose love transformed the lives of his disciples.

Through love, may we influence the lives

of those entrusted to our care.

We make this prayer through Jesus,

your Son and our Brother.  Amen.


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More Is Never Enough


Written by Valerie E. Hess, a contemporary Christian author. This is an excerpt from her book “Spiritual Disciplines Devotional.”

Some people are never satisfied. The Irish saint Columbanus is reported to have said, “The man [or woman] to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more.” We all know people like this. Give them an all-expenses-paid trip to an exotic destination and they complain about the view from their hotel room. Take them to a place of beautiful scenery, and they complain of being tired from all the traveling. Show them another culture with all of its marvelous characteristics, and they hate the food and the bathrooms. These kind of people always find something wrong because they are looking for perfection on earth, a quality that is simply not available in this life.

One way to practice the discipline of simplicity is through a spirit of contentment. This is so contrary to the culture around us that people are bound to take notice. We can strive to be sincerely thankful for all of the little things in life. Sure, there may be struggles or things we wish were different or needs or wants we would like to see met, but we are invited to keep them from becoming our defining reality. When we respond in peace and joy to the question “How are you?” we can be a witness to others of God’s goodness in all things.


Written by Basil the Great (330-379) of Caesarea, an influential theologian and pastor. He was one of the Cappadocian Fathers.

O God and Lord of the Powers, and Maker of all creation, Who, because of Your clemency and incomparable mercy, sent Your only-begotten Son and our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind, and with His venerable cross tore asunder the record of our sins, and thereby conquered the rulers and powers of darkness; receive from us sinful people, O merciful Master, these prayers of gratitude and supplication, and deliver us from every destructive and gloomy transgression, and from all visible and invisible enemies who seek to injure us. Nail down our flesh with fear of You, and let not our hearts be inclined to words or thoughts of evil, but pierce our souls with Your love, that ever contemplating You, being enlightened by You, and discerning You, the unapproachable and everlasting Light, we may unceasingly render confession and gratitude to You: the eternal Father, with Your only-begotten Son, and with Your all-holy, gracious and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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Marks of Spirituality


Written by Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), an English writer and pacifist known for her numerous works on religion and spiritual practice. This is an excerpt from her book “The Spiritual Life.”

St. John of the Cross says that every quality or virtue which that Spirit really produces in our souls has three distinguishing characters—as it were a threefold National Mark—Tranquility, Gentleness, Strength. All our action—and now we are thinking specially of action—must be peaceful, gentle, and strong. That suggests, doesn’t it, an immense depth, and an invulnerable steadiness as the soul’s abiding temper; a depth and a steadiness which come from the fact that our small action is now part of the total action of God, whose Spirit, as another saint has said, “Works always in tranquility.” Fuss and feverishness, anxiety, intensity, intolerance, instability, pessimism and wobble, and every kind of hurry and worry—these, even on the highest levels, are signs of the self-made and self-acting soul; the spiritual parvenu. The saints are never like that. They share the quiet and noble qualities of the great family to which they belong.


Written by Jay McDaniel, a contemporary an American professor of religion.

In this century and in any century,

Our deepest hope, our most tender prayer,

Is that we learn to listen.

May we listen to one another in openness and mercy

May we listen to plants and animals in wonder and respect

May We listen to our own hearts in love and forgiveness

May we listen to God in quietness and awe.

And in this listening,

Which is boundless in its beauty,

May we find the wisdom to cooperate

With a healing spirit, a divine spirit

Who beckons us into peace and community and creativity.

We do not ask for a perfect world.

But we do ask for a better world.

We ask for deep listening. Amen.

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The Golden Rule


Written by Martin Luther (1483-1546), a German professor of theology, composer, priest and Augustinian monk. He was a seminal figure in the Reformation.

What could be more clear and concise than the truth of the Golden Rule? But the world won’t let us reflect on these words. Our sinful nature won’t let us measure our lives against this standard. We let this verse go in one ear and out the other. If we would continually compare our lives and actions against this standard, we wouldn’t live so carelessly. We would have more than enough to do and wouldn’t need to pursue other works we consider holy. We would become our own teachers and begin teaching ourselves how we should live. We wouldn’t need so many lawyers and law books, for this standard is concise and easy to learn. If only we were diligent and serious enough to live according to it.

Let me give a rough illustration. No one would like to be robbed. If you ask yourself, you would have to admit that you certainly wouldn’t enjoy it. So why don’t you conclude that everyone else feels the same way? At the market, you see that vendors charge as much as they wish for what they’re selling, so that it costs three times what it is worth. If you were to ask a vendor, “Excuse me, would you like this done to you?” he would have difficulty replying. If he were honest and thinking sensibly, he would have to say, “I want to pay the market value, what is just and fair. I don’t want to be overcharged.” So do you see the point? Your heart tells you how you would like to be treated, and your conscience tells you that you should treat others the same way.


Written by Dionysius (?-845), patriarch of the Syrian Jacobite Church and author of important documents on Eastern Christianity.

God the Father, source of Divinity,

good beyond all that is good,

fair beyond all that is fair,

in you is calmness, peace, and unity.

Repair the things that divide us from each other

and restore our unity of love like your divine love.

And as you are above all things,

unite us in goodness and love that we may be spiritually one,

with you and with each other,

through your peace which makes all things peaceful

and through the grace, mercy, and tenderness

of your only Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Obeying Jesus’ Call


Written by John MacArthur, a contemporary evangelical pastor. This is an excerpt from his book “Daily Readings from the Life of Christ.”

Peter and Andrew obeyed Jesus’ call right away – “Immediately they left their nets and followed him” – an indication of how determined they were to go with the Lord. The word “followed” carries the meaning of being committed to imitating the one he or she follows.

Past surveys have shown that 95% of all professing Christians have never led someone to faith in Jesus Christ. Too often they are like the reclusive, frugal man many years ago who accumulated 246 expensive violins in the attic of his house in Italy. Because he selfishly acquired and held on to those instruments, the world never heard the beautiful music the violins were intended to play. Many believers hide their light and store away the great treasure they possess as children of God. As a result, 95% of the world’s spiritual violins have not been played for others.

Evangelist D.L. Moody especially admired two similar paintings. The first depicted a person in the midst of a storm clinging with both hands to a cross firmly planted in a rock. The other picture also showed a person in a storm firmly grasping a cross. But in this one the man was reaching out with his other hand to rescue someone who was about to drown. Both paintings pictured a Christian valiantly holding on to Christ. But the second one portrayed the believer reaching out for another who was about to be lost. For us, as for D.L. Moody, the second picture should be the favorite.


This prayer is from the Morning and Evening Prayer services of the Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Oh God, maker of all things new, You call us…Your servants…to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untraveled, through perils and joys still unknown.

Give us faith, oh God, to do all we are called to with courage, with hearts full of hope, with You, even though we do not know where we will land. Still, this is our assurance…

that Your love holds us

and Your hand leads us…always!

Through Jesus Christ.


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Dust to Glory


Written by Jerry Bridges (1929-2016), an evangelical Christian author, speaker, and staff member of The Navigators. This is an excerpt from his book “Holiness Day by Day.”

The word gospel essentially means “good news,” specifically about our relationship with God. We all like good news, especially if it addresses bad news we’ve just received. If you’ve just been told you have cancer, it’s good news when the doctor tells you it’s a type that readily responds to treatment. The gospel is like that. It’s good news that directly addresses our ultimate bad news. The Bible tells us we were in deep trouble with God; we were unrighteous and ungodly, and God’s wrath is revealed “against all the godlessness and wickedness of men:” in fact, we were “by nature objects of God’s wrath.  Coming into the world as a baby, before you’ve ever done anything bad, you were an object of God’s wrath. That’s the bad news.

Then the Bible tells us that God has provided a solution far surpassing our problem. The Good News always outweighs the bad. After telling us we were objects of God’s wrath, Paul added: “But…God, who is rich in mercy…raised us up with Christ, and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” That is surely a dust-to-glory story. What greater contrast could there be than an object of God’s wrath seated with His Son in glory?

This Good News doesn’t begin when we die. It’s for now. We don’t have to feel guilt-ridden and insecure before God. We don’t have to wonder if He likes us. We can begin each day with the deeply encouraging realization, I’m accepted by God, not on the basis of my personal performance, but on the basis of the infinitely perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.


Written by the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Living God, through Jesus Christ

you emptied the power of death

and gave us the gift of life in fullness.

Now dry our tears and send us out

to tell the good news of the gospel:

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  Amen.

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God’s Instructions


Written by William P. Smith. a contemporary pastor, author, and teacher.

God’s instructions were not arbitrary. We realize this when we look at God’s call to his children to enter the Promised Land, or to Moses to free his people. God did not order those things as extreme tests to develop his people’s faith. Those specific events were necessary to bring about his greater purposes of redemption. His people had to be freed from the bondage of slavery (Egypt) so that they could obey him. They had to actively fight against influences (Canaanites) that would tempt them, lead them astray, and re-enslave them. Anything short of these goals would distract his people from serving and enjoying him. His commands furthered his plan to establish a holy place for himself that would bless the whole earth. When he promised to go with them, he gave them an ironclad guarantee that his plans would not fail. Yet his promised presence came with the expectation that his people were moving in his direction. Often when I think God has failed me—that his presence wasn’t enough—I find upon reflection that I’ve tried to force him to go along with my agenda.


Written by Billy Graham (1918-2018), an American Christian evangelist.

Our Father and Our God, we praise you for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in your holy name. Amen.

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