GENUINELY

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 62:6-65:25 ESV, Philippians 2:19-3:3 ESV, Psalm 73:1-28 ESV, Proverbs 24:13-14 ESV

Daily Verse: “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” (Philippians 2:20 ESV)

GNESIOS (1103): “As an adjective, means primarily “lawfully begotten”; hence, “true, genuine, sincere.”[1]

True genuine.

Paul can’t go to Philippi, so he sends Timothy.  In the apostle’s opinion, Timothy’s love for the church makes him the best candidate for the job.  Besides Paul, no one loved the church of Philippi as much as Timothy did.

Once you experience the love of Christ, you want others to know what you know.  Unconditional affection from above gives you renewed hope for better days to come.  Growing God’s kingdom starts with caring genuinely for the people God places in your life.  For Timothy, the Lord gave him a heart for the Philippians.

Sincere affection.

People can tell whether you care about them or view them as a resource to meet their needs.   Cultivated friendships, built on trust and honesty, require investing time and energy.  People who only call when they need something care about themselves more than they do you.

But the friends who show up repeatedly, giving of themselves, asking nothing in return, possess a genuine love for you.  Sharing Christ’s love with others makes us that type of friend.  We will genuinely seek to help others, putting their needs before ours.

Paul exemplifies his heart for others through his actions, as does Timothy.  The two men sacrificed their time, energy, and comfort to spread the Gospel.  Thousands of years later, their perseverance still impacts the church, growing God’s kingdom.

Love people sincerely today.  Put your needs aside, trusting God to meet them, like He met Paul and Timothy’s needs.  Invest your energy in cultivating lasting relationships with others as you love them for the Lord.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 60) Thomas Nelson

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WORTHY

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 60:1-62:5 ESV, Philippians 1:27-2:18 ESV, Psalm 72:1-20 ESV, Proverbs 24:11-12 ESV

Daily Verse: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” (Philippians 1:27 ESV)

AXIOS (516): “This word means “worthily” and is translated “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27 of a manner of life in accordance with what the gospel declares).[1]

Life in accordance.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians requests the church to live their lives according to what the Gospel declares.  Jesus tells us all the commandments boil down to loving God and loving people.  When we do what God says, we live in accordance with the Gospel, and God’s kingdom grows.

People use the term “kingdom work,” which means helping build God’s kingdom.  In other words, introducing people to Jesus so they can share in the gift He offers, eternal life. And in the words of C.S. Lewis, “The present is where time touches eternity.”

No better time.

Eternal life happens in the present moment.  Following Jesus does more than ensure your entry to heaven, you gain His peace now.  God has an answer no matter what circumstances you find yourself in today.  He will guide and direct you through the storm while calming your anxieties.

Living life to the fullest means experiencing the joy of the Lord.  Gratitude leads the way to finding peace that surpasses all understanding.  As the storm rages, God calms.  Kingdom work happens inside us first, then overflows to the world around us.

As you become more connected to the Creator, your heart’s desire changes.  Unconditional love from above begins to overflow from you, helping you love others.  God’s work from within helps you see people through His eyes instead of yours. 

Submit to Jesus, and accept His gift of peace that surpasses all understanding as you live your life in accord with the Gospel.  Love God, love others, growing God’s kingdom as you do.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 31) Thomas Nelson

[1]https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/93898-destines-them-to-eternity-he-therefore-i-believe-wants-them#:~:text=For%20the%20Present%20is%20the,and%20actuality%20are%20offered%20them.

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COMPLETION

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 57:15-59:21 ESV, Philippians 1:1-26 ESVPsalm 71:1-24 ESV, Proverbs 24:9-10 ESV

Daily Verse: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

EPITELEO (2005): “Intensive, is a strengthened form in the sense of “accomplishing.” The fuller meaning is “to accomplish perfectly”; “perfect” in Phil. 1:6.”[1]

Accomplish perfectly.

God will accomplish perfectly everything He wants to do in your life. Whatever your purpose on earth, God’s perfect plan continues to unfold as you submit and follow Him.

Beginning our second decade of marriage, I told Ron, “Let’s set goals for the next ten years.”

“Fine, but you know nothing ever works out how you plan it.”

Ron’s right, nothing does come to fruition like we think it will, but life happens exactly the way God wants.  Setting goals gives us direction, but God determines our steps.

Walk confidently.

Set goals and walk confidently, knowing God won’t let you go anywhere He doesn’t want you to go.  When your plans go crazy, give a nod to the heavens and thank God for His redirection.

Considering moving, we’ve begun looking at houses.  Ron found one I liked; as we drove to look at it, my emotions began to take control of me.  As I felt them rising, I focused on one thought, “God will lead us where He wants us to go.  Maybe it’s this house; maybe it’s not; God has a plan.”

Focusing on God helped me keep my emotions in check.  And when the house didn’t meet our expectations, I accepted it as God’s will, knowing He has the perfect plan for us.

Let God’s plan unfold in your life.  Spend time asking the Lord for direction in all areas of your life.  Put into practice the practical applications found in scripture, loving God and others to the best of your ability. 

As you pursue life with Christ, God will accomplish perfectly His purpose.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 100) Thomas Nelson

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SCHEMES

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 54:1-57:14 ESV, Ephesians 6:1-24 ESV, Psalm 70:1-5 ESV, Proverbs 24:8 ESV

Daily Verse: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11 ESV)

METHODEIA (3180): “Denotes “craft, deceit” (meta, “after,” hodos, “a way”), “a cunning device, a wile,” and is translated in Eph 6:11 “the wiles (plural) of the Devil.”[1]

Cunning device.

Three cunning devices give the devil ample material with which he tempts us:

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16 ESV)

Desires of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life summarize the devils’ schemes.   Just like with Eve, the serpent used the desire of her flesh by tempting her with the apple, convincing  Eve she should satisfy her passions rather than waiting on God.

Eve’s eyes gave her information about the fruit.  The tempting apple looked so good; why would God not want her to have it?  We become vulnerable to the devil’s ploys when we see something we want.   Satan understands our human desires and uses them against us.

And we battle pride just like Eve; we all want to know what God knows.  But none of us do.

Pure heart.

To resist the devil’s schemes, we must keep our hearts pure.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8 ESV)

Jesus defeated Satan’s temptations by responding with scripture.

  • Desire of flesh, “Mans shall not live by bread alone.” Luke 4:4
  • Lust of eyes: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” Luke 4:8
  • Pride of life: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Luke 4:12

You must keep the Son in your eyes if you want a pure heart.  Jesus helps us defeat the devil’s schemes, but only if we stay focused on Him.  Satan tries to lure us away, but Jesus protects us from His attacks. The next time the devil attacks, remind him who you serve.  Like Jesus, responding with scripture puts Satan in his place and helps you resist temptations.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 159) Thomas Nelson

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IMITATORS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 51:1-53:12 ESV, Ephesians 5:1-33 ESV, Psalm 69:19-36 ESV, Proverbs 24:7 ESV

Daily Verse: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1 ESV)

MIMETES (3402): “A follower,” is always used in a good sense in the NT.  In Eph 5:1 it is used in exhortations, accompanied by the verb ginoamai, “to be, become,” and in the continuous tense.”[1]

To become.

Paul wants the Ephesians to become more like Jesus.  Becoming a disciple of Christ means learning how Jesus handled life, then doing the same thing in our own life.

As followers of Christ, becoming more like Jesus takes work.  My human nature doesn’t want to do what Jesus did.  Loving people who intentionally OR unintentionally hurt me challenge the best of us.  Yet Jesus loved those who persecuted Him and killed Him, then rose again so they could have eternal life.

None of us can imitate Christ without His Spirit.  Accessing Jesus’s divine power makes the impossible possible.

                   Faith steps.

Becoming more like Jesus and imitating His life requires steps of faith.  Imitators act.  Many people talk about Jesus but don’t do a lot of acting like Jesus.  Probably one of the reasons people have the wrong opinion about our Savior.  Christ proved His love for us by what He did.  We can prove ours for Him the same way.

We can’t imitate what we don’t know.  We can’t imitate Jesus’ actions if we don’t know how He responded to the rich young ruler.  Learning how Jesus forgave the adulterous woman helps us do the same in our lives. Meeting Jesus in the pages of scripture will change your life in ways you can’t imagine, but if you don’t do it, you won’t know.

Read the Bible for yourself.  Make your determinations about Jesus based on the stories of people who knew Him best.  Imitate God’s Son, and experience life to the fullest as you follow the one who gave it to you.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 165) Thomas Nelson

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FUTILITY

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 48:12-50:11 ESV, Ephesians 4:17-32 ESV, Psalm 69:1-18 ESV, Proverbs 24:5-6 ESV

Daily Verse: “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (Ephesians 4:17 ESV)

MATAIOTES (3153): “This word stresses emptiness as to results and is used of the mind which governs the manner of life of the Gentiles (Eph. 4:17).”[1]

Empty minds.

Paul doesn’t want the Ephesians to step back into their self-indulgent ways.  Futile thinking comes from aimless, empty minds.  Our actions come from our thoughts, awareness of what fills our minds helps us change what we do.  But if we slip back into our old thinking patterns, we will fall back into our old ways.

For years, I battled low self-esteem from internalizing lies and forming my life around them.  False thoughts such as, “No one cares about me,” or “No one listens to me,” caused me to create defense mechanisms and shut people out of my life.

Turning my life over to Jesus revealed the lies and helped me change my actions.  Instead of self-destructive behavior, I began to live a healthier lifestyle.

Full hearts.

Submitting my life to Jesus and giving Him access to my heart filled it with love like no other.  As I gave more of myself to Christ, the more He revealed to me.  And I began to realize that people care and listen to me.  Life changed as I began to receive God’s love.

But the minute a bond breaks, the devil attacks.  One night, at a social event, I shared how God exposed the lie about “No one listens to me” in my life.  Immediately after telling the story, one of the guests said, “Are you done? Because no one wants to hear what you have to say.”

Of course, the person meant the words as a joke, but the reply stung me for someone trying to overcome the lie.  Futile thoughts immediately came into my mind, but God’s love won the battle.  Jesus’s grace helped me forgive and let the statement go.

Keep your thoughts focused on Jesus by daily spending time with Him.  Read God’s word and apply it to your life.  Without a doubt, God will reveal futile thinking and fill your heart.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 158) Thomas Nelson

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PRISONER

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 45:11-48:11 ESV, Ephesians 4:1-16 ESV, Psalm 68:19-35 ESV, Proverbs 24:3-4 ESV

Daily Verse: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” (Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

DESMIOS (1198): “As a noun, means “a binding” and Eph. 4:1 “in the Lord.”[1]

Binding in the Lord.

Becoming a prisoner of the Lord will make your life exponentially better.  Yes, suffering still occurs when you follow Jesus, no one gets a pass on pain.  But bound to Christ, we have strength in the storm and know that blessing waits for us on the other side of it.

“Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis

Nothing binds us to Jesus more than the pain we endure in our lives.  When an unhealthy relationship broke my heart during my single years, I had no problem getting on my knees and begging Jesus for help. However, I didn’t find myself seeking Christ as much during good times.

Tight bind.

Instead of only connecting with God during painful times, work continuously to keep the bind tight.  During life’s highs, praise God for His mighty work.  When the low times come, allow them to draw you into a more intimate relationship with God that tightens your bind to Him.

Prisoners for the Lord give their life entirely to Him.  Forsaking all others, they obey God’s voice in their lives, even over their desires.  When our hearts become so hidden in God’s, others must seek Him to find ours; you have successfully bonded your heart to His.

Our journey with Christ continues every day.  Not until God calls us home will we bind entirely to Him.  But every day, we can tighten the bond as we seek God.

Strap yourself to Jesus, and submit your life to Him.  Let Christ direct your steps as you follow Him.  When you become a prisoner to the Lord, everyone will know by the fruit your produce, love, joy, and peace come from a life lived with Jesus.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 64) Thomas Nelson

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MINISTER

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 43:14-45:10 ESV, Ephesians 3:1-21 ESV, Psalm 68:1-18 ESV, Proverbs 24:1-2 ESV

Daily Verse: “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.” (Ephesians 3:7 ESV)

DIAKONOS (1249): “This word focuses on the servant in his activity for the work and not his relation to a person.  Doulos (1401) stresses relationship.”[1]

Stresses relationship.

Paul, calling himself a minister, refers to his calling from God.  Where the Old Testament focused on titles, the New Testament rejected them, focusing instead on a word not as prestigious. 

Minister, in this form, refers to a table waiter, someone who does the bidding of others.  In today’s verse, the word describes anyone who lives and works for Jesus and the church.

Everyone who follows Christ has a calling from above in their life.  Jesus summed our purpose up for us in the Great Commandment: love God, love others (Mark 12:30-31).

Active calling.

God gave you an active calling, one which requires His assistance.  Only by connecting with Jesus can we fulfill our roles in this life.  When you picture the Cross, you realize that to love others, we must first receive affection from above.

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”  – C. S. Lewis

Only with Jesus can we honestly pray for the ultimate good of those in our lives.  Without Christ’s intervention, human emotions like jealousy, envy, insecurity, anger, and impatience keep us from sincerely wanting the best for others.

But when we let Jesus lead our lives, as Paul did, we become servants to those around us—willingly doing all we can to help them have life to the fullest on earth and eternal life with Jesus.

Pointing people to Jesus helps them find the ultimate good in their lives.  The best way to introduce others to Christ happens when we serve them in love.  When we act counter-culturally, putting others first instead of ourselves, we imitate Jesus best. 

To mimic Christ, we must spend time getting to know Him.  When Jesus becomes your primary relationship, seeking Him first in all things, all of your other relationships will flourish.

Serve others well by connecting with Jesus daily.  Let Christ motivate you to minister to everyone you meet.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 65) Thomas Nelson

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HOSTILITY

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 41:17-43:13 ESV, Ephesians 2:1-22 ESV, Psalm 67:1-7 ESV, Proverbs 23:29-35 ESV

Daily Verse: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14 ESV)

PHRAGMOS (5418): “Denotes any sore of fence, hedge, palings, or wall.  Metaphorically, of the “partition” which separated Gentile from Jew, which was broken down by Christ through the efficacy of His expiatory sacrifice, Eph. 2:14.”[1]

Broken down.

Hostility separated the Gentiles and Jews in the early church.  Jesus broke down the partition between them with His love.  Tearing down the walls with grace and mercy unites people in ways nothing else can.

One of the most fantastic things about Jesus, He solves relationship problems like no one else.  Christ draws people to Him individually.  My relationship with Jesus varies from every person who reads today’s devotional, yet we worship the same God.

Peace and Peacemaker

When Jesus died on the cross, He reconciled the Jews and Gentiles by making them one in Him.  In other words, people follow Jesus from all walks of life; Christ unites those who believe and trust in Him, no matter their background.

Before Jesus, the Jewish law separated the Gentiles from the Jews.  But Christ fulfilled the law, tearing down the barrier between the two groups.  United in Jesus, they find peace from the Peacemaker.

Christ tears down the walls in our lives separating us from people.  Our view changes when we ask God to help us see others as He does.  The rude person in line, viewed through God’s lens, becomes a hurting individual who needs patience and mercy, not judgment.

Let Jesus tear down the walls in your relationships.  As you focus your eyes on Christ, view others through His lens.  When Jesus died on the cross, He did so for everyone.  Whether or not they choose Him, Christ chose them.  And He calls us to love all people, not just the ones like us.

Spread Jesus’ love to the world today, one act of kindness at a time.  Let the Peacemaker bring peace into your life.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 266) Thomas Nelson

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REDEMPTION

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 39:1-41:16 ESV, Ephesians 1:1-23 ESV, Psalm 66:1-20 ESV, Proverbs 23:25-28 ESV

Daily Verse: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:7 ESV)

APOLUTROSIS (629): “Summary: This word means to be purchased from the slave market of sin, totally set free, never to be sold again.  Apolutrosis, as a noun, is a strengthened form of lutrosis (3085) and means lit., “a releasing, for (i.e., on payment of) a ransom.”[1]

Totally set free.

Jesus redeemed us on the Cross, purchasing us from the slave market of sin.  When our misdeeds hold us captive, we need someone to provide a way out.  Christ took on our burdens, opening the door for a new life in Him.

Sadly, many in our world don’t trust Jesus because they don’t trust us.  All humans will fail at some point in time.  The people you love most will let you down for one simple reason, human nature.  We can’t help but falter; only with Christ can we find the redemption we need.

Fully redeemed.

Jesus knows everything about you.  The big secret you think no one knows, Jesus does.  Christ loves you despite your imperfections. God understands you better than you know you.

Therapy helps me love the good, bad, and ugly parts of me.  Through Christ-centered counseling, I learn to see myself through Jesus’s eyes.  When God reveals the sin in our lives, we repent and try not to do it again.  But if we do, Jesus forgives us:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

(Matthew 18:21-22 ESV)

When Christ redeemed us, He set us free from our transgressions.  Repeatedly, Jesus forgives us; as Christ forgives, so should we.  Setting others free from their offenses against us takes work and Jesus.  We can’t do what Jesus did for us unless we align ourselves with Him.

Acknowledge the ugly in your life, and ask Jesus for forgiveness.  As you receive redemption through Christ, help others do the same.  The more we become like Jesus, the more love, mercy, and grace we will share with the world.

Leave the slave market of sin behind as you pursue Jesus with all your heart, mind, body, and soul.  In Him, you will find redemption and new life.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p.37) Thomas Nelson

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