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'For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,' declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

-Isaiah 41:13-14

Pre-game  -  

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

 

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. —Ephesians 6:13

 

If you’ve ever been around or seen competitive sports you know at least this:

 

Athletes don’t just show up on game day and compete – there is a lot of preparation that goes on before ever setting foot on a field or in a gym.  When I played professional volleyball for the St. Louis Quest we began training a month and a half before our season started.  We barely even stepped onto the volleyball court during those weeks – we conditioned.  We ran, we jumped, we lifted, we drilled – with three practices a day we ate, slept and breathed volleyball.

 

As the season began our practices became centered on that week’s opponent.  We studied the opposing teams by watching videos and coordinating drills in order to combat their strengths.  We worked on areas that we knew would exploit their weaknesses.  Our coaches developed strategies and game plans.  We trained to win.  We prepared to give ourselves the best chance at victory.

 

Jesus came and died for us.  Even he ‘trained’ during his life by studying (Luke 2:41-52), fasting (Matthew 4:1-11), praying (John 17:6-26)…It is so important for Christians to realize that being a Christian is not a one time decision.  Being a Christian is a daily decision to follow Christ.  And let me warn you, this is usually not the easiest or most popular place to be.  In fact, most of the time, it is difficult.  That is why we must be prepared.  A Roman soldier would never have gone into battle without all of the appropriate equipment, or he would surely have been defeated.  Just like a soldier or an athlete if you are not prepared you will lose the battle.  Christians are called to be alert and prayerful in their faith.  If we are not prepared, sin will conquer.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. What are areas in your life that you have to prepare and train for? What happens when you are not prepared?

 

2. How can you, as a Christian, put on your armor each day?

 

3. Why is it important that each day you are prepared and ready to make a godly decision?

 

FURTHER READING:

Ephesians 6:13-18; Luke 2:41-52; Matthew 4:1-11; John 17:6-26

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Pure Religion - 

This devotional was written by Mike DeVries

 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.James 1:27 (TNIV)

 

Mark Twain once remarked that it was not the things that he did not understand in the Bible that bothered him, it was the things that he did understand.

 

I don’t know about you, but today’s scripture is one of those places for me. The writer of the book of James makes this astounding statement about a religion that is “pure” and “faultless.” What is astounding is that he opens the door to the idea that religion, in its proper expression, is not cold and lifeless, but is actually fresh and life giving.

 

Religion in its proper expression is not about living a perfect life, nor about being able to check off the “religious to-do list,” but about embodying the heart of God. It is about living a life in which we “follow God’s example” (Eph. 5:1), caring about and taking action on the same things and in the same way that the incarnate God, Jesus Christ, displayed for us.

 

Time and again, the Scriptures display God’s heart for the last and the least of society. It appears that this is a subject that is very close to the heart of God, and thus should be one that is close to the heart of those who are followers of God. Perhaps one of the greatest legacies that we leave the next generation of Christians is a strong expression of caring for those who are close to the heart of God—those who are the last and least in society.

 

What if, rather than being known for what it stands against, the people of God were known for what they stand for? What if we, the Church, were best known as a conduit of love and grace to a world that is in desperate shortage of both? Caring for those who are the last and the least is not only a good ideal, but rather it appears to be central to a life that pleases God.

 

GOING DEEPER:

What are some practical ways in which you can care for the last and the least in your community?

 

FURTHER READING:

Deuteronomy 24:17-18; Isaiah 1:16-17; Jeremiah 5:26-29; Acts 4:32-35

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

WHOM DO YOU TRUST? 

BY CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

In Morning and Evening

"Now on whom dost thou trust?" -Isaiah 36:5

Reader, this is an important question. Listen to the Christian's answer, and see if it is yours. "On whom dost thou trust?" "I trust," says the Christian, "in a triune God. I trust the Father, believing that He has chosen me from before the foundations of the world; I trust Him to provide for me in providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be, and to bring me home to His own house where the many mansions are. I trust the Son. Very God of very God is He--the man Christ Jesus. I trust in Him to take away all my sins by His own sacrifice, and to adorn me with His perfect righteousness. I trust Him to be my Intercessor, to present my prayers and desires before His Father's throne, and I trust Him to be my Advocate at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me. I trust Him for what He is, for what He has done, and for what He has promised yet to do. And I trust the Holy Spirit--He has begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust Him to drive them all out; I trust Him to curb my temper, to subdue my will, to enlighten my understanding, to check my passions, to comfort my despondency, to help my weakness, to illuminate my darkness; I trust Him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me wholly, spirit, soul, and body, and then to take me up to dwell with the saints in light for ever."

Oh, blessed trust! To trust Him whose power will never be exhausted, whose love will never wane, whose kindness will never change, whose faithfulness will never fail, whose wisdom will never be nonplussed, and whose perfect goodness can never know a diminution! Happy art thou, reader, if this trust is thine! So trusting, thou shalt enjoy sweet peace now, and glory hereafter, and the foundation of thy trust shall never be removed.

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

DON'T RUSH -  

BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN

In Streams in the Desert

"Who is among you that feareth Jehovah, that obeyeth the voice of his servant? He that walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him trust in the name of Jehovah and rely upon his God" (Isa. 50:10, RV). 

What shall the believer do in times of darkness--the darkness of perplexity and confusion, not of heart but of mind? Times of darkness come to the faithful and believing disciple who is walking obediently in the will of God; seasons when he does not know what to do, nor which way to turn. The sky is overcast with clouds. The clear light of Heaven does not shine upon his pathway. One feels as if he were groping his way in darkness. 

Beloved, is this you? What shall the believer do in times of darkness? Listen! "Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely upon his God." 

The first thing to do is do nothing. This is hard for poor human nature to do. In the West there is a saying that runs thus, "When you're rattled, don't rush"; in other words, "When you don't know what to do, don't do it." 

When you run into a spiritual fog bank, don't tear ahead; slow down the machinery of your life. If necessary, anchor your bark or let it swing at its moorings. We are to simply trust God. While we trust, God can work. Worry prevents Him from doing anything for us. If our minds are distracted and our hearts distressed; if the darkness that overshadows us strikes terror to us; if we run hither and yon in a vain effort to find some way of escape out of a dark place of trial, where Divine providence has put us, the Lord can do nothing for us. 

The peace of God must quiet our minds and rest our hearts. We must put our hand in the hand of God like a little child, and let Him lead us out into the bright sunshine of His love. 

He knows the way out of the woods. Let us climb up into His arms, and trust Him to take us out by the shortest and surest road.--Dr. Pardington 


Remember we are never without a pilot when we know not how to steer. 

"Hold on, my heart, in thy believing-- 

The steadfast only wins the crown; 

He who, when stormy winds are heaving, 

Parts with its anchor, shall go down; 

But he who Jesus holds through all, 

Shall stand, though Heaven and earth should fall. 


"Hold out! There comes an end to sorrow; 

Hope from the dust shall conquering rise; 

The storm foretells a summer's morrow; 

The Cross points on to Paradise; 

The Father reigneth! cease all doubt; 

Hold on, my heart, hold on, hold out."

The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

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