Category Archives: Words of Hope

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – What Will It Profit You?

Read: Matthew 16:24-28

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? (v. 26)

Recently, I had to confront a student over an issue of academic misconduct. The individual was an excellent student, a record-breaking athlete, and an engaging person. And yet, during a time when she felt pulled in several directions, she made a bad decision. As we sat and had a difficult conversation, I reminded her of all of her strengths and asked, “Was it worth risking all of that for a relatively minor assignment?”

In Matthew 16, Jesus is teaching the disciples about self-denial. Following Jesus requires his disciples—then and now—to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. In fact, the one who abandons the path of Christ in an effort to save their soul will be the very one who loses it. In a sense, Jesus is engaging in a difficult conversation with those who are considering the pursuit of other options, asking, “Is it worth risking your soul for such minor attainments?”

Our culture is designed for immediate gratification. Fast food, TV shows that are on demand, and—in some markets—printed books that can be ordered and delivered the same day. These things are not bad in and of themselves. But the nurturing of a soul occasionally requires the denial of that which we long for. This is analogous to the spiritual discipline of fasting. Are we able to abstain from the good in order to attain the best? —Duane Loynes

Prayer: Father, give us the strength to deny ourselves and run after you.

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – What Are You Arguing About?


Read: Mark 9:33-37

And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” (v. 33)

My son is an only child. This state of affairs means that his upbringing has been dramatically different in some respects than that of his friends with siblings. For example, my son is often amazed (and disconcerted) when he spends the night at a friend’s house and observes how heated sibling arguments can become. Wishing that he had a sibling, he can’t imagine what dispute could lead brothers and sisters to battle one another with such ferocity.

One day on the way to Capernaum, the disciples get into an argument over who is the greatest of the disciples. Jesus, wanting to reorient their misguided zeal, gives them an object lesson about greatness. He takes a child into his arms, declaring that the greatest is the one who serves and the one who receives those whom the Father has sent.

The Christian church should lament the ways in which the mission of God has been hampered by the historical record of infighting that has characterized generations of Christians. Hundreds of denominations, church splits, and political fault lines that have sundered the body of Christ are testimonies to the energy we have spent in tearing one another down. What a difference the church could make if we realized that other children of God—despite important distinctions—are our siblings, heirs to the same Father and sinners redeemed by the same blood of Jesus Christ. —Duane Loynes

Prayer: Let the church be one, even as you and the Father are one.

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Where Were You?


Read: Job 38:1-7

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? (v. 4)

Recently, a local public school had an incident where one student bullied another. The school, wanting to avoid a controversy, appealed to a board policy that, they felt, justified their decision to ignore the incident in question. However, the person who had written the policy was the mother of the victim! She, rightfully, challenged the school on their interpretation of a policy that she herself had crafted.

The book of Job presents Job as a righteous man. However, a major theme of the book is that tragedy can befall the wicked and the righteous. In a series of unfortunate events, Job’s family, finances, and health are devastated. Job’s friends don’t help matters; they inundate Job with bad advice and worse theology. In chapter 38, however, God takes center stage and poses a series of questions to Job, challenging his capacity to evaluate God’s plan. If, God says, you were not here when I created the heavens and the earth, then surely you are not fit to question my ways.

God does not mind our honest attempts to understand his plans. He knows that, from a human vantage point, the long arc of history can appear baffling. Sometimes, it seems as if the enemies of God are winning, while faithful servants face one trial after the next. In these moments of despair, it would help us to remember, as Isaiah reminds us (Isa. 55:8-9), that God’s ways are not our ways. —Duane Loynes

Prayer: Our Creator, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

 

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Ignore the Crowd: Head to Your Gate


Read: Matthew 7:13-14

Enter by the narrow gate. (v. 13)

If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you? Some say, “No.” Others say, “It depends.” Unless you encounter extreme circumstances, you probably would not jump off. But all of us have probably agreed to be a part of something without knowing all the details or without weighing the consequences. We didn’t want to be unpopular or stand out like a sore thumb. So we did what everyone else was doing. In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini calls this follow-the-crowd phenomenon “social proof.” This consensus-seeking principle involves looking to others first before deciding what to do.

When it comes to where we will spend eternity, we may want to think twice about following the crowd. Jesus explains that the crowd is headed to a wide gate, and the road to that gate is easy. It’s smooth and free of debris, so it’s no wonder it’s a popular road. The road to the narrow gate is rough and rocky with only a few traveling on it. When the roads end and both gates swing open, the crowd will be in a place of destruction and the few will find life.

Authentic biblical Christianity is not always popular. To the crowd, it’s a religion of restrictions. To Christians, it’s a faith built on a relationship with Jesus. And those of us who follow him will not be popular with the crowd. —Ericka Loynes

Prayer: Lord, please remind us that the rough road to the narrow gate leads to an abundant life with you.

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Rooftops, Windows, and Doors! Oh My!


Read: Genesis 6:8-18; 8:1-19

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made. (8:6)

Thousands of people trekked across the country and assembled in Williamstown, Kentucky, on July 7, 2016, for opening day at Ark Encounter, a life-sized Noah’s Ark attraction sponsored by the Answers in Genesis ministry. My family and I, along with friends, were among the high-energy crowd that day. Excitement also ran high as we approached the enormous 51-foot structure. At every turn, brilliant colors, lifelike creatures, and rich content filled the space. What we had previously only imagined about the ark from Scripture was now conceivable. The ark was a magnificent design from the bottom deck to the door, and from the roof to the window.

From the very beginning of Scripture, God reveals himself as the master architect of this universe. He calls it good, until evil spreads throughout. God, regretting his initial design (6:5-7), drafts a new blueprint for the world. He recruits Noah to build an ark with specific dimensions, including a roof (6:16), a side door (6:16), and a window (8:6). Clearly, God has a detailed plan, and with a 40-day flood, one pair of each living creature, and eight people from Noah’s family, he eventually repopulates the earth.

We can’t always visualize God’s master plan, but we can always trust it. He’s our protector and life-giver. There’s no need to fear the storms in our lives. His plan will soon be clear. —Ericka Loyne

Prayer: Lord, help me to clearly see the life you have built for me

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Communion with the Body


Read: Romans 12:3-8

. . . so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (v. 5 NIV)

“What if . . .” For my neighborhood, these words were the beginning of a brand-new way of life. “What if,” some parents asked, “our children who experience varying forms of disability could live in a community that supports and loves them? What if showing the love of Jesus to one another and to the world looks like a place to belong?” Today, that “what if” is an entire city block—16 houses filled with people of varying abilities, each one a beloved member of the whole, and each one giving and receiving the gift of friendship.

I am not disabled, but I have lived in this community for three years. The time that I’ve spent here has taught me so much about what it means to belong—to one another, and to Christ. My friends with disabilities here have been Jesus to me and have expanded my imagination of what it means to be human. Living in a community of belonging has healed me and allowed me to offer the gift of myself and see the gift of others more clearly. Ultimately, this experience of community has shaped my understanding of the kingdom of heaven.

Please note that I am not offering my friends in this community as “object lessons,” nor am I attempting to speak from their perspective. Rather, with their permission and blessing, I simply hope to share my experience of healing and growth. —Amy Curran

Prayer: Jesus, open our eyes, hands, and hearts. Teach us to receive you in others, and to receive your love from others.

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Working in Exile


Read: Jeremiah 29:4-14

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf . . . (v. 7)

Exile is a metaphor the Bible uses repeatedly for the life of faith. It is during times of displacement that God’s people most profoundly rely on God’s presence and God’s promises. And it is during exile that God makes himself known to an unbelieving world through his people.

When the Babylonians conquered and enslaved Judah in 586 BC, God’s people faced two choices. They could curse the pagan city while capitalizing on it. Or they could assimilate into the city, becoming pagans themselves. God mandates a third choice. God tells his people to maintain their faith while living in this home away from home. At the same time, God adds: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf” (v. 7).

God commands this investment in the pagan city not only to benefit his people but also to benefit their neighbors. Neighbors who, in this instance, are social and political adversaries. As Christians, we live in a world that is inherently hostile to us. Like the exiles, we are tempted either to capitalize on the “earthly city” while cursing it or to assimilate to such an extent that we are unrecognizable as God’s people. God commands a third way: to invest ourselves in such a way that our communities are blessed and God’s name is known. —Ben Van Arragon

Prayer: Lord God, make your presence known to my community through my investment in it.

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Favored Ones

Read: Luke 1:26-38

Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! (v. 28)

Before my first chemotherapy treatment, I cried out fearfully and desperately to the Lord. I had watched my 46-year-old father succumb to the side effects of chemotherapy by contracting a fungal infection that took his life. I wondered if death in my 40s would be my destiny too. That day I opened up my Bible to the daily reading, “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). The assignment ahead of me did not change. However, through his Word, God assured me he was with me. When God sees fear, he favors.

God drops a life-altering assignment into Mary’s life. Gabriel assures Mary, not once, but twice, of God’s favor. God knows Mary needs this assurance: when she tells Joseph and her parents; when stares of condemnation fly her way; when the Law cries, “Stone her”; when she and Joseph flee to Egypt with baby Jesus; when she loses the boy Jesus at the Passover Feast; when she mourns at the foot of the cross. To favor means to grace or to endue with special blessing. When Mary’s assignment feels unlike favor, she will ever remember the words spoken over her, “The Lord is with you!”

Life’s hard assignments cause us to wonder about God’s presence with us. Yet as with Mary, God delights to reveal he is with us and that his favor rests upon us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). —Michelle Christy

Prayer: Open our eyes and hearts to see and hear your favor, O Lord!

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – The Only Son


Read: Luke 7:11-17

. . . the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. (v. 12)

With relief, my husband arrived at our wedding rehearsal with good news: he had a job. Greg felt God’s call to be a coach early in life. Convinced, he trained and desired only to coach baseball. He had been holding out for a full-time coaching position. The accepted job promised baseball coaching on the side. But two years passed without any coaching opportunities. Following his dream, Greg sent out 100 résumés for coaching positions. With each one, he heard a resounding “no.” The door closed heavy on his dream. He lost hope for a calling fulfilled. The death of this hope wounded him deeply.

When Jesus sees our grief, he guarantees a better hope. The death of the widow’s only son leaves her no hope. Lack of a husband, son, or other male relative destines her to beg and plead. Heaped upon her grief is the reality of her desperate need. With a compassionate “Do not weep,” Jesus raises and returns the widow’s son. Raising the widow’s only son enables her and the watching crowd to see God’s one and only Son. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

How have you experienced the death of hope? Sometimes it takes the death of hope for us to receive our only hope! No matter the grief, we possess a hope-filled guarantee—God’s one and only Son. Death does not have the final say. —Michelle Christy

Prayer: God’s one and only Son, we place our hope in you alone!

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Forgiven Much Loves Much

Read: Luke 7:36-50

Her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. (v. 47)

She bursts eagerly through the sanctuary doors straight up to the front. With disheveled dress, the woman falls to her knees. She worships with her head up, arms high and wide. For those of us coiffed and composed in the pews, the reckless worshiper pushes the boundaries. Her loving worship exposes our heart’s judgment and spirit’s lack. Quickly our conviction turns into her condemnation. When Jesus sees his beloved’s condemnation, he offers her grace-filled validation.

In Luke 7, a known prostitute boldly interrupts a dinner of Israel’s elite. Tension radiates heavily. In what appears wasteful, lavish love from an alabaster flask flows forth in recognition of Jesus’ grace. With all the shame and self-atonement one woman could pay, she pours it all out on Jesus’ dusty feet in worship for every guest to see. Sweetness wafts through the room. The fragrance of forgiveness cuts through the heart of condemnation and self-satisfaction. Jesus stamps her with approval like the dawning of a brand-new day. The voices of disapproval grow silent. “Your sins are forgiven” (v. 48).

It’s easy for us to judge what we don’t understand. Have we experienced Jesus’ forgiveness fully that we might worship him freely? Grace and love readily flow from the one forgiven much. We can be grateful Jesus takes our wanton ways and receives them in worship. —Michelle Christy

Prayer: Jesus, “Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.” (Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing)

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Being Salt

Read: Mark 9:49-50; Matthew 5:13

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? (Matt. 5:13)

In the ancient world, salt was one of the most important necessities of life. It was used for many things including in seasoning and preserving foods. In addition, salt was also used as a sign of purification in sacrifices and burnt offerings.

When Jesus tells his hearers that they are to be the salt of the earth, he means for us to add something akin to flavor and purity to a depraved and sinful world. This is a high calling that the world desperately needs from people of faith. Just as salt adds flavor and keeps things from going bad, so Christians are to make society better. Jesus says to us, “Have salt in yourselves” (Mark 9:50).

Recently, our society has been rocked by the news of sexual misbehavior and harassment by many high-powered men. In a way, it is no surprise that this has happened. Christian values have been dismissed as archaic and out-of-step with the times. But if Christians fail in upholding these standards of decency, where will the world ever get these things? The poets of ancient Rome often described their city as “a filthy sewer.” Purity and chastity were unknown. “Into that corrupt world Christianity came,” said biblical scholar William Barclay, “and it was the task of the Christian to bring an antiseptic to the poison of life” (William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible). The same could be said for our task today. —John Koedyker

Prayer: God, give us the strength and courage to be salt in this world. Amen

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Avoiding Hell


Read: Mark 9:42-48

It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell. (v. 47)

It is often said that Jesus talked far more about hell than he did heaven. Some very prominent Christian leaders have actually made statements to that effect. The problem is that it’s not true. The number of times Jesus spoke about heaven far exceed the number of times he spoke about hell. Actually, he mentioned heaven about three times as often as he did hell. No wonder we call his message “good news.”

Still, Jesus did not shy away from talking about hell. Not only did he acknowledge its existence, he warned people about it. Obviously from our text today, Jesus took hell seriously. Sadly, our world today does not. The word is used flippantly and without thought. Even in churches, the subject is rarely touched upon by preachers. It is perceived as “too negative.” Yet, if we are to be true followers of Jesus, we must acknowledge it.

From the Bible’s descriptions of hell, obviously we should want to avoid it at all costs. It is a place of awful pain, torment, and evil. So how do we avoid it? Jesus has the answer to that, too: “Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). So, “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). —John Koedyker

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for saving us from sin, death, and hell, and opening the gates of heaven to us when we trust in Jesus. Amen

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Reality Check

Read: Mark 9:14-27

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. (v. 14)

In today’s reading, Peter, James, and John learned a valuable lesson: you can’t stay up on the mountain permanently. You have to return to the reality of this world. As Jesus said in another place, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). As the three descended down the mountain with their Master, they found trouble staring them in the face.

A large crowd had gathered and an argument had ensued between the other disciples of Jesus and some teachers of the law who had shown up. What the argument was exactly is difficult to say. The disciples had tried to cast a demon out of a little boy, but they were unsuccessful. Perhaps this prompted some ridicule from the religious leaders.

Whatever it was, the demented state of this little boy had created quite a stir. An evil spirit had taken hold of him, throwing him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus seized control of the situation and brought peace and healing to this little boy.

“Take heart,” Jesus says, “I have overcome the world.” It is comforting to know that despite the chaotic reality of our existence, Jesus is with us and will take care of our needs whatever they may be. Mountaintop experiences are wonderful, yet the reality is, life will always have its troubles. But Jesus is always ready to help. —John Koedyker

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that although in this world we have troubles, you have overcome the world. Amen

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Think Before You Speak


Read: Mark 8:31-33

You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (v. 33)

Lots of things come out of our mouths. It is estimated that the average person says about 16,000 words a day! That is a lot of talking! What strikes me is that so often we don’t think about what we say. So often we just blurt out words. Sometimes we wish we could have those words back as illustrated by the children’s sermon about trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Peter is a prime example of speaking without thinking. In typical Peter fashion, he blurted out words that went totally against Jesus’ mission. Peter just didn’t understand. So, on the heels of commending Peter for his good confession that he was the Christ, Jesus had to explain what it meant for him to be the Christ. Jesus then spoke “plainly” (v. 32) about how he would have to “suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (v. 31).

Rather than listening and learning from the Lord, Peter rebuked him. In Matthew’s account of this incident, Peter exclaims, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matt. 16:22). But he was wrong. That is the difference between the things of God and the things of men. Our thoughts are not always God’s thoughts (Isa. 55:8).

—John Koedyker

Prayer: Lord, help us to have in mind the things of God when we speak. Amen

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Hints of a World for Christ

 

Read: Mark 7:24-30

The woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. (v. 26)

A tendency we human beings have is to like those who are like us. And then, on the contrary, we hold at a distance those who are not like us. But Jesus was introducing a gospel that included all people—Jew and Greek, male and female, and slave or free.

This was not a popularly held belief at the time. Different races and ethnic groups kept mainly to themselves. In today’s Scripture, however, we see Jesus leaving the land of Israel and walking on foreign soil. Could it be that Jesus was beginning to reach out to Phoenicians and Greeks? If so, Jesus was fulfilling God’s ancient promise to Abraham, that in him, all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

Jesus indeed was introducing a gospel for all people, but there was an order in which the gospel would be presented. Jesus came first to the Jew, and then the Gentile. Paul says as much in Romans 1:16. Jesus implies this by his comment to the Greek woman who sought healing for her daughter: “Let the children be fed first” (v. 27). But Jesus is so pleased with the woman’s persistent response of faith that he heals the little girl. Obviously, Jesus couldn’t wait to respond to this lady. Her being a Gentile didn’t matter to him. She had faith! And likewise, no matter who you are or where you come from, Jesus can’t wait to respond to you!

—John Koedyker

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for reaching out to us and caring for us, no matter who we are. Amen.

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Unclean?


Read: Mark 7:14-23

There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him. (v. 15)

To the Jew, it was a serious thing to be “unclean.” A person who was considered “unclean” was “defiled” and therefore in a dangerous predicament. You did not want to be “unclean.” It could lead to retribution or death. So under the Old Testament system, people avoided lepers or touching the body of a dead person. They also avoided certain “unclean foods” such as pork.

When Jesus came, he ushered in a whole new perspective on what it means to be clean, or righteous, in God’s sight. For him, “unclean” is a thing of the heart. That teaching is certainly in the Old Testament. Passages like Proverbs 4:23 and Psalm 51:10 speak about the importance of guarding our hearts (the wellspring of life) and asking God to create a clean heart within us. Unfortunately, these deep spiritual truths relating to the heart were overwhelmed by an outward legalistic system.

What Jesus says in today’s Scripture lesson should ring true to us. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah even said so: “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (17:9). That is the root problem that we all have. But God has a solution: “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

—John Koedyker

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that when we confess our sins, you are faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteous. Amen

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Don’t Prejudge the Soil

Read: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

A sower went out to sow. (v. 3)

A friend of mine tells the story of how, when he started in the life insurance business, his supervisor handed him a pad of paper and told him to make two lists. The first list contained the names of people who were excellent candidates for a sales pitch: his parents, his best friend, and so forth. The second list contained the names of unpromising candidates: people with whom he had quarreled, personal enemies, and so forth. When he had completed both lists, his supervisor told him to go and make a sales call on every person on the second list! My friend said, “Surprisingly, I made several sales!”

The sower in the parable broadcasts the seed, flinging it everywhere. But too often we prejudge the soil. That is, we decide in advance who is worth our witness, and who isn’t. We make a list, so to speak, of who is a candidate for conversion, and who isn’t. This family probably won’t accept my invitation to come to church, so I won’t ask them. This troubled co-worker will not respond positively if I offer to pray for her, so I won’t offer.

Don’t decide in advance who is good soil and who isn’t. As a young man I was an unpromising, rocky, weed-choked, sun-scorched path of soil. But a college chaplain felt I was worth an invitation to give myself to Christ, and it changed my life. You just never know where you’re going to find good soil. —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Father, help me to be good soil, and a good sower

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – New Wine Needs New Wineskins

 

Read: Matthew 9:14-17

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. (v. 17)

“Why don’t your disciples fast?” Because there needs to be congruity between faith and form, that’s why. A new faith cannot be contained in an old form. Jesus says, in effect, “Do not expect me to adapt myself and my message to the old forms of Judaism.” To illustrate, Jesus tells a parable. If you have new, fresh wine, you will not store it in an old wineskin, because when the new wine ferments, the old wineskin will stretch and crack, and the wine will be lost. New wine needs new wineskins. A new faith needs new forms.

So much denominational quarreling, it seems to me, revolves around new wine and old wineskins. I am old enough to remember the battle that raged when newer translations of the Bible appeared on the shelves alongside the old King James wineskin. More recently, so-called contemporary worship burst the old wineskins of hymnody and creedal language.

Gospel truth wears one suit of clothes after another, but it remains gospel truth. It’s the wine that’s important, not the wineskin. Christian fashions come and go, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). I am not advocating a blind belief in progress, nor a gullible hospitality to everything new. But nothing is wrong with the new just because it’s new. Old wineskins deserve our respect. They would not have been in use so long if they didn’t work well. They were new—once. But God’s vineyard keeps producing new wine. —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Lord, help me to know when new wine needs new wineskins.

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Surprise, Surprise

Read: Matthew 25:31-46

Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? (v. 44)

Surprise, surprise—everyone is surprised. The sheep are surprised. They did not know they were being compassionate. They had no inkling that the king might be present among “the least of these.” There was no thought of potential reward. They were just doing what, to them, seemed natural. Good fruit comes from good trees. “When did we see you hungry and feed you . . . ?” They are genuinely surprised.

The goats are surprised. They did not realize that they had been oblivious to human suffering. Their “when did we see you hungry . . . ?” implies that, had they only known of the king’s presence among “the least of these,” they would have acted appropriately. They are genuinely surprised.

What a troubling, disconcerting parable. Is Jesus saying that we have to earn our ticket to heaven by doing good deeds? No. The righteous do not earn the kingdom. They inherit it. Inheritance is determined by the giver, not the recipient. Salvation is a gift to be received, not a reward to be achieved. You are going to heaven, not because you are good, but because God is. We live a life of righteousness and compassion, not because we are trying to earn God’s love, but because we are grateful that we already have God’s love.

“When did we see you . . . ?” The parable reminds us that the Son of Man is not merely coming. He is already here. —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Lord, give me the eyes to recognize you in “the least of these.”

 

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Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Petulant Children


Read: Matthew 11:16-19

We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. (v. 17)

Imagine a pouting, petulant child who does not want to play any game you suggest. Want to play with your blocks? No. Want to play with your trains? No. Coloring books? No. It doesn’t matter what activity you suggest, the petulant child refuses to go along.

“To what shall I compare this generation?” says Jesus. You are like petulant children, that’s what. In a pouty, little-boy voice—at least that’s how I imagine it—Jesus mimicked children calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” No matter how God reached out to the people, they wouldn’t respond. God sent the austere John the Baptist, and people said he was demon-possessed. God sent his very own Son, and people said he was a glutton and a drunk. There was just no satisfying these people.

Are we all that different? The pastor is either too young or too old, too conservative or too liberal. The worship style is too high or too low. If the church speaks out, it is meddling in politics; if it stays quiet, it is boring and irrelevant. We don’t dance, and we refuse to mourn. And Jesus calls us children—pouty, obstinate, petulant children.

Our response to God’s love is not a game to play when we are in the mood. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Lord, I give myself to you.

 

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