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Devotions 3-8 to 3-14

Devotions for daily growth.

March 8

Hebrews 6:1 "Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God."

Experiencing spiritual growth can be a long and difficult process. The very fact that you are growing closer toward Christ is a red flag to Satan to put more pressure on you to stop. When he does this, do not fear what he can do.

We serve a God that is bigger than he will ever be, and is always ready to stand by His children. After all, it takes God years to grow a tree, and patiently trusting Him through Satan's attacks is the only way to "leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity" (Hebrews 6:1).

The same Spirit who empowered the disciples some 2,000 years ago dwells within our hearts. The least we can do is learn to trust His leading and go forward in faith as we grow in Christ.

Father, thank you that you don’t give up on us. Thank you he who began a good work in us will complete it at the day of redemption. Lord, help me to plan for spiritual growth. Secure my thoughts in my Bible reading and keep my focus in my prayers. Father, remind me that true spiritual growth always results in a greater realization of my weakness and a greater dependence on your strength and grace. As I serve you, Lord, mature me as I work with people at home, work, and church. Father, grow me in your Word and give me a hunger for and intake and digestion of it. I love you, Father, and thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray.

March 9

Genesis 28:12 "He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it."

In Jacob’s dream, he saw the angels of God ascending and descending on a ladder. Jesus said that Nathanael would see the angels of God ascending and descending on Himself, the son of man! What Jesus is saying is that He is the ladder of Jacob’s dream!

When we as Christians sin, we need to behold the Ladder of Christ. We need to remember that when Jesus died, He paid for all our sins, past, present, and future. Therefore, although we have sinned against God, we have not lost our salvation. We must simply confess our sins to God. Christ is still our Advocate.

Thank Him today for giving His life for you.

Father, sometimes in stories like this you speak great truth in ways that seem so foreign to us. Thank you that through this dream to Jacob and Jesus’ interpretation in John 1 I know for sure that you are the only true God and only way of salvation. Lord, there aren’t many roads to heaven—just the narrow way, and how I long to walk in it! Father, I pray for all those in my sphere of influence that aren’t saved and don’t know you. Use me today to boldly and lovingly speak forth the Gospel to them. Change their hearts as you did mine, Lord. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

March 10

Job 1:21 "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."

What carried Job through losing everyone and everything dear to him? How did his faith survive his circumstances?

His response to his circumstances speaks across the ages to encourage us to praise God no matter what the situation we may find ourselves in. No doubt, the difference between an immature Christian and a mature one is the ability to bow in worship and humbly acknowledge God’s sovereign control over your life, even when you don’t “feel” like it.

Job did not believe in fate. He did not believe in chance. He believed in God’s authority, and it was that belief that helped him cope when his whole world caved in.

The tendency for most people is to curse God, to question God, or blame God. Job worshipped God and praised God. We need the same unswerving faith Job had in the sovereignty of God. God gives and God takes away, so we must trust His sovereignty when either happens to us.

You may have well-laid plans that God refuses to bless or that need adjusting. You may have a friend or family member dying of a debilitating disease with no hope in sight. Hang in there! The outcome to these events might be different than you expect and even pray for so faithfully. Praise God! When those times come, let’s ask for the strength from the LORD to worship Him for who He is and what His eternal Gospel stands for in Holy Scripture. He will provide and sustain us as only He can.

Father, man plans his steps, but the Lord is sovereign over all. All my peace rests upon the knowledge that you are who you say you—all-good, all-wise, and all-powerful. Father, I am very thankful that you interfere with my plans. Father, help me to be thankful for the rain in my life. It interrupts my plans and reminds me you are in control. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

March 11

Psalm 139:23 "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."

If we let unresolved conflicts and arguments pile up in our hearts, let unconfessed sins gather a thick layer of guilt as our hearts start to harden, and let our unspoken prayers litter our minds as we consider how many people we promised prayer to but never truly prayed did, we remain spiritually stagnant and ineffective.

So how can we clean our messy lives? The Bible tells us how:

For unresolved conflicts or arguments: ""If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back"" (Matthew 18:15).

For unconfessed sin: ""But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong"" (1 John 1:9).

For unspoken prayers for yourself or others: ""Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done"" (Philippians 4:6).

Using the prayers of David in Psalms 51 and 139:22-24 can help us experience a powerful and wonderful beginning as we ask God to search us entirely, point out our wicked, sinful ways, and lead us to become more like Him. Covered in sinful filth? Why not open your heart to God in an attitude of repentance today and let Him bathe you in the cleansing blood of His Son?

Father, you do not bless unconfessed sin, but, rather, you bless honest owning of my sin. Forgive me for my unconfessed sins, my oblivious denials, and false appearances. Father, this is a cleansing only you can give. As I look back on my life, I am reminded that I see many proofs of your providence working to cleanse me and transform me into Christ’s image. Lord, it is hard, but there is no other reason to do this except to say “thank you” for saving me from my sin. I praise you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

March 12

1 Kings 19:8 "So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God."

Depression is something that can affect us all. You see, some of the most God-fearing people in the Bible and the world have felt this way. Elijah the prophet is an example of this feeling. After being on the mountaintop in his walk with the Lord, he suffered a great letdown. He had won a stunning victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:16-46). In the strength of the Lord he had run seventeen miles non-stop. Yet when he learned that Jezebel, the evil queen, had vowed to kill him, a sudden fear gripped his heart. So he ran for his life. Finally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted, he gave in to his feelings of despair.

Are you feeling hopeless? Does it feel as if God has left you? Do you feel let you down or discouraged? The Old Testament stories of Elijah and Job show us that feelings of loneliness do not mean that God has turned His back on us. Instead, they only block our awareness of His presence. Remember: Those who wait helplessly on the Lord may feel hopeless. But because of God's presence, they never are truly lonely.

Father, the text tells us that you were gentle with Elijah. In fact, you let him rest and fed him, strengthening him for the next leg of the journey. Lord, this day I am weary. Family, friends, and foes have been against me. You are aware of this, and for that, I thank you. I praise you that nothing changes your plan for me—not circumstance or temptation or sin. Thank you that, like Elijah, you come alongside me and minister to me through your Holy Spirit. Father, whatever I face today I know you are the same God of Elijah as you were your Son, Jesus Christ, as you will be forever. Thank you that you never change! I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

March 13

2 Samuel 16:9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head."

David was weary and discouraged. So when a Benjamite, Shimei, began following him, cursing him, and pelting him with rocks, the king had every chance to retaliate. His advisor even pleaded with him to kill Shimei. But David never reacted back. Rather, he said, ""Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. 12 It may be that the LORD will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today"" (2 Samuel 16:11-12).

Despite his attitude, David continued to be insulted and hurt with dirt and rocks. David's attitude and faith is not found very often today. In fact, I don't know many people who can take abuse and not ""comeback"" with a dirty comment or physical action. You see, David understood that a humble spirit will turn negative circumstances into positives ones. This occurs when we are so in tune with God, that, no matter what may happen to us verbally or physically for our faith, we observe the hand of God in it all to see that He comforts us and will bring good out of our affliction.

Jesus said, ""Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"" (Matthew 5:44). Adopt this attitude today, and allow God to repay not only your faith, but also your sufferings.

Father, your commandment, your Word, and your Spirit make me wiser than my enemies. I am called to much more than tolerance. Father, by your grace, I am called to positively love my enemies. Yet, my heart desires to hate my enemies instead of praying for them. Father, I pray for for the conviction and conversion of my bitterest enemies, rather than their destruction. Grant this, if it be your will, O God. I pray these things in Jesus’ name.

March 14

James 3:2 "We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check."

The power of the spoken word is incredible. With one simple word, a relationship can be destroyed, a war can start, or bitterness can develop. On the other hand, a word can uplift a discouraged friend, calm a fearful child, or bring about healing between nations. The power of our words is almost immeasurable.

The source of all that we say starts with our minds. Jesus said, ""Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks"" (Matthew 12:34). So the place to begin dealing with our words is inside our thoughts about God, others, and ourselves. If we accompany that with a commitment to stop speaking harmful words, we have begun a wonderful correction in life.

Has your tongue been building up or tearing down others recently? Remember that a careless word can cause strife and anxiety that will last for a long time. A kind word, though, can bring healing and encouragement to a hurting person or relationship. That is why I challenge you to allow the Spirit to direct what flows from your heart and lips today.

Father, I cannot remember half of what I said a few hours ago, let alone the rest of the day! Forgive my heart and mind and mouth for all the vile that comes forth in sarcasm, joking, and downright discontentment with where you have me in life. Thank you that you are God for us. You shower us with love, give us strength, and we are yours forever despite these things. Thank you that you gave your son to die for us and to forgive us. We forever praise you, Father! I pray these thing in Jesus’ name Amen.