Meet God in the Morning – Use this Free eBook to help

A lot of times, people take stock of where they are spiritually at the beginning of the year. They make resolutions to do different things that will help them draw closer to God throughout the year. Have you ever stopped in the middle of the year to evaluate how well you’re doing in meeting that goal? That’s an easy goal to let go of and forget because there are so many distractions. If you made that kind of goal at the beginning of the year and you’ve fallen behind, take heart. Our God gives second and third and fiftieth and one hundredth chances. If you want to begin to work on that again, let me introduce you to my devotional book series. I’d like to offer you a free eBook where you can spend five to ten minutes a day reading and contemplating God’s presence in your life. This site won’t even collect an email address! If you don’t know how to send a book to your Kindle, I can help you do that. Gain a habit that will enrich your every day life.

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Bible Versions and Permissions

Up until January 1, 2018, verses used in each devotional were from the New International Version of the Bible.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I will be going back and adding this passage to each page that used an NIV quotation per their website

I will be using the New Century Version in 2018.

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved

I am using the New King James version in 2019

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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October 20 – Trust God, Don’t Have Misplaced Fears

Revelation 20; Isaiah 7-8; Psalm 110

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not say, “A conspiracy,” Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.’” (Isaiah 8:11-13 NKJV)

It would be natural, with all the intrigue going around Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day, to assume that there were lots of conspiracies flying around. Ahaz not only had to worry about people in Jerusalem conspiring to depose him, he also had to worry about those who might conspire to sell him out to Israel, or Syria, or perhaps even that rising power in the north, Assyria. God’s message to Isaiah was not to join in that speculation. The only thing God’s people should fear is getting on the wrong side of God. God alone is to be hallowed, feared, and even dreaded. While we live under the umbrella of grace and forgiveness, we should always live so that our lives reflect His glory.

Many people today develop interesting conspiracy theories – especially in the political realm. They look at everything happening and see it through the lens of a conspiracy. We could talk about the practical problems involved with conspiracies – especially ones that are never officially discovered – but the most important thing to remember is that God’s in charge even when people conspire together – if they actually do. Rather than worrying about what people are doing to us, we need to focus on God’s desires for our lives. If God is for us, who can stand against Him? On the other hand, if we deal with things our way, how can they succeed if we’re not working in God’s will?

Lord, remind me that You alone are to be feared. Don’t let me worry about what people can do to me, instead, let me trust in You, knowing what You can do for me.

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October 19 – Bringing God’s Grace to a Backwards World

Revelation 19; Isaiah 5-6; Psalm 109:20-31

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21 NKJV)

Isaiah lists a series of woes in this passage, and the central point of all those woes is found in verse 20. Whenever a society goes downhill, we see the truth of all these verses, but especially verses 20 and 21 as a description of the spiritual and social condition of society. People think that they’re so smart, that what they do is wise and right. People take God’s rules for living and laugh at them because they have a “better way” only to find out that their path leads to destruction. Sadly, most, when they recognize it, will refuse to admit it and go back to the foundations of the society in God’s word that they came from, and soon that nation, that society, that people disappears as a force for good. Too often those promoting those changes couch their views in a cloak they call freedom, not realizing that this “freedom” that leads them away from God’s principles becomes the shackles of sin that enslave them. 

As I look at our world today, this verse comes to mind more and more often. Economic systems become infested with greed and rather than being able to use any wealth given by God to care for others, those at the top accumulate it for their own luxury. We’ve used people who are then abused and looked down upon because of their financial status, their abilities – or lack thereof, or even their physical appearance. We’ve changed the joy of strong personal relationships into one night stands or islands of pleasure to be discarded when the fun runs out. The key to restoring any society begins with returning to our own relationship with God and living in obedience to Him. What does God want? Well, at the risk of appearing to be wise in my own eyes, I dealt with Isaiah’s solution a couple of days ago. Let’s start out, though, by seeking a restored relationship with God, and then showing love and respect to all people. As we do that, we draw them back into God’s love and grace.

Lord, woe to our world that calls good evil and evil good. Woe is me that I have joined in with that sin. Forgive me. Restore my relationship with You. Then use me to help others experience Your love and grace also.

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October 18 – Dealing with Betrayal

Revelation 18; Isaiah 3-4; Psalm 109:1-19

“They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for my love.” (Psalm 103:3-5 NKJV) 

I don’t know if any sin causes more harm to the person being sinned against than betrayal. Physical punishment may cut or bruise the skin, betrayal cuts the heart. When your enemies treat you wrong, it’s easy to deal with because you expect that. When those you love, those you’ve cared for, those you’ve helped along the way treat you wrong, betray you, that hurts your heart. And that’s what David’s dealing with in this Psalm. If you look at David’s life, he was betrayed on numerous occasions. Then, sometimes, he was the betrayer. While the psalm continues by wishing terrible misfortune on those who betrayed him, David does mention the best response: prayer. 

Betrayal hurts and often our response causes more hurt and an escalation of the pain. Ultimately, our best response to betrayal is to pray. You may pray for God to take out vengeance on your betrayer, we see that a lot in the Psalms. It’s important to remember though, that just because the Bible mentions something that people did, it doesn’t mean that’s the right thing to do. When we understand life from the perspective of God’s grace, we understand that when someone betrays us, we need to forgive them and then, now this is hard, pray for God to bless them. When someone betrays people, they have deeper needs and concerns that lead to the acts of betrayal. If we pray for God to bless them, especially with the ultimate blessing of a relationship with Him through Jesus, we’re more likely to see a positive change as God works on their heart. The next time someone hurts you and betrays you, after seeing to your physical and emotional safety, pray for God to bring that person into His will and bless them. It’s amazing what God will do.

Lord, it’s so unnatural to pray for persecutors and betrayers – yet You did just that. Give me Your grace and sense of forgiveness so that when I pray for those people, I’ll joyfully put them in Your hands, knowing that You’ll love them and keep drawing them to You.

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October 17 – A Relationship With God Changes Us

Revelation 17; Isaiah 1-2; Psalm 108

“‘Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’” (Isaiah 1:17-18 NKJV) 

In the passage leading up to this admonition from God, He pronounces to His people that He’s tired of their worship and sacrifices. They were probably doing all the things the Law told them to do regarding sacrifices, celebrations, and worship, but their efforts wearied God. Why? I believe that their actions in worship did not match how they were living. God told them to stop doing evil before telling them to learn to do good. So, while they were fulfilling the requirements of the Law in their worship, their lives showed nothing that indicated that they were walking with God. So God reminded them that their changed hearts should reveal themselves in actions: doing good, seeking justice, ending oppression, caring for the fatherless, and pleading for the widow. Then, God noted that He was willing to renegotiate the contract they had and to their benefit. God was seeking to forgive them, if they were willing to turn back to Him.

As I look at this verse from the perspective of the Christian life, I’m convicted that our life must match our profession. We’ve all been in those situations where someone is behaving terribly and thinking, “Oh, please Lord, don’t let him tell people he follows You.” Sometimes, I wonder if people think that about me. Too often we focus on the wrongs in other people and won’t examine our own lives. God gives us a few things to check ourselves on. In our unjust world do we seek justice, or do we find ways to benefit from the injustices done? Do we stand up for the oppressed or do we sit in silence, or worse, encourage the oppressor? Do we speak out for the widow, the orphan, the single mother, the child who’s wandering through life, or do we ignore them in their struggles? If we have a strong relationship with God, our lives will reflect that in those types of actions. On the other hand, if we realize that we don’t have a strong relationship with God, He offers us the chance to restore that relationship as we reason together with Him.

Oh Lord, it’s so easy not to get involved in the lives of people who need Your help, Your love, Your grace. Forgive me for ignoring the concerns of brothers and sisters and instill in me a desire to be Your hands, feet, and heart to other people.

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October 16 – He Will Be With You Wherever You Go

Revelation 16; Esther 9-10; Psalm 107:23-43

“Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, They see the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep.” (Psalm 107:23-24 NKJV)

In ancient times, the sea was a mystery. The general belief was that if there was anyplace God wasn’t, it was near the sea. Only the roughest and toughest would dare to go out to sea. Their aim and ambition was wealth, and they had no fear of any god. Yet, even those people saw God’s handiwork in the seas. The ensuing verses describe a storm so intense that those on board are staggering like they were drunk. In the midst of their staggers, they cried out to God and He delivered them. These businessmen learned an important lesson: there’s no where they can go where they’ll be away from the loving care of God.

There are many areas of life where it seems like God couldn’t be. Danny Gokey dealt with that belief in his song, “More Than You Think I Am.” The truth is, God will be with you in the worst storm you could ever imagine, He’ll be with you on the ocean, on the mountain top, behind bars, and even, get this, in the midst of work. Some see this omnipresence of God as a scary thing – thinking “I can’t get away with anything.” Others, like me, take comfort in knowing that no matter how bad the situation may be and no matter how badly I’ve messed up, He’s there with me, caring for me. I see His wonders in the deep, I see them in the air, I see them on the land, and I see them in the hearts of His people who’ve been redeemed and changed by His grace. 

Lord, I’m so grateful that I can’t run away from You. I’m even more grateful that on those days I tried, You continued to love me and bring me back into Your loving grace.

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October 15 – Redeemed How I Love To Proclaim It!

Revelation 15; Esther 6:14-8:17; Psalm 107:1-22

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,” (Psalm 107:2 NKJV) 

All three of today’s passages are summed up in this verse. This verse comes right after a verse worded the same as the one I looked at two days ago. How does God show His goodness? He redeems His people from the hand of the enemy. In the passage from the book of the Revelation, we see that redemption process happening through the judgment on the world for those who have waged war on God’s people; in the passage from Esther, we see that redemption happening as the king found a way to reverse the genocidal edict brought written by Haman as well as through the execution of the one who sought to eradicate the Jews out of petty spite. Throughout the ages, God has always redeemed His people in the midst of their troubles; in the ages to come, as long as time exists, we know that God will continue to redeem His people.

We don’t always know the answer to why bad things happen, but we do know who will be there in our troubles. God will never forsake us. People of faith understand Job’s statement “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” Our hope is in the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of all mankind. If we’ve been redeemed, and all those who have put their trust in Him alone have been redeemed from the hand of death and sin, then it only makes sense to tell others – to share our good fortune. Evangelism seems like such a scary word, but when it comes down to it, evangelism is telling other people what God has done for you. As those whom the Lord has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, we should talk about it with joy!

Lord, thank You for redemption. Thank You that You redeemed me from the pit of sin and walk with me each day. Keep me through the power of Your Spirit, no matter what happens. 

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October 14 – Can’t Get No Satisfaction?

Revelation 14; Esther 5:1-6:13; Psalm 106:24-48

“Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king.” (Esther 5:11 NKJV) 

You just know that things are going to go bad for Haman when you get to this part of the story. OK, perhaps you realized it earlier because he had it out for Mordecai and God’s chosen people, but if you didn’t before, you know it now. In God’s economy, “you don’t count your money when you’re seated at the table.” Hezekiah got that news when he showed the Babylonian officials all of his wealth. Haman went home and bragged to his family and friends about all that he had and how great he was. If his braggadocio attitude wasn’t enough, he was still ungrateful and wanted more because Mordecai was a thorn in his flesh whose very existence made him miserable. Not satisfied with the decree that would put an end to all Jewry, he was egged on by his family and friends to hang Mordecai from the highest tree, even if he had to build it himself. 

Haman was a bad actor, no doubt about that. Still, there are some things we can learn from his mistakes. The first is an old biblical principle that pride goes before destruction, and Haman’s story is an amazing example of that truth. Remember how all this started: Haman had been honored before the king and everyone except Mordecai bowed before him. He was so incensed  that he got the king to arrange for the destruction of all the Jews. What if Haman had laughed Mordecai’s slight off? What if he had found another way to get back at Mordecai? His pride wouldn’t let him do that – and he suffered in the end. Think about that when someone doesn’t give you the honor you think you deserve. Second, learn to be satisfied when things are good enough. As far as Haman knew, all the Jews would soon be destroyed – why worry about when Mordecai left this earth? In his thirst for vengeance, though, because Mordecai wouldn’t give him the honor he thought he was due, he built his own gallows. There are many people who aren’t satisfied with enough to live on, and they seek more and more. They find out that they’re at the top of the heap, but none of the people who they used to interact with came along, because “success” had changed them so much…and not for the better. Don’t let the search for fame or fortune cause you to lose the people you love.

Lord, Haman is such a great example of how not to act. Remind me of the folly of seeking satisfaction in anything except Your grace.

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October 13 – Oh Goodness!

Revelation 13; Esther 3-4; Psalm 106:1-23

Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 106:1 NKJV) 

The Psalms have so many different kinds of poetry, but the one overriding theme in all of them is that we must praise God. There are many different reasons given. Sometimes we praise God in spite of the circumstances because we know that God still loves us and cares. In the opening verse of this Psalm we’re commanded praise God for two things: He is good and His mercy endures forever. How often we overlook the concept of goodness when we talk about God. We think of His mercy, His grace, and His forgiveness, but all of those actions stem from the fact that God is good. His nature is goodness. In fact, if we’re to believe Jesus, God alone is good. (Luke 18:19) Because He’s good, His mercy endures forever. It’s not a limited time offer. You don’t buy one and get one free. His mercy is always available to all people. That’s just one of many reasons to praise the Lord.

I don’t know about you, but far too often, I get in the prayer request mode and think of all that God can do. I forget why God can do that. He can heal, because He’s good. He can provide, because He’s good. He can forgive and show mercy, because He’s good. All of the things he can do stem from His inherent nature of goodness. Not only do we focus on God’s outward qualities instead of His nature, we do the same thing with people. We focus on their beauty, or their accomplishments instead of looking at their inner beauty and drive that make those accomplishments possible. Do two things today: 1) spend time meditating on the goodness of God and then praise Him for that goodness, and 2) compliment other people today not on their outward appearance or their success, but on their inner nature. What good qualities do they have as a person? It’s amazing what a difference we see in people when we focus on their character. It’s even more amazing what happens with our relationship with God when we focus on His character.

Oh Lord, You are good. Remind me of Your goodness today and help me rejoice in that.

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October 12 – He Didn’t Take Us This Far to Leave Us

Revelation 12; Esther 2; Psalm 105:26-45

“He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness.” (Psalm 105:43 NKJV)

As David’s celebratory Psalm continued, he reminded the people of Israel how God had provided for them. He had sent Moses and Aaron to lead them. He had showed His power over the Egyptian gods through the plagues, which made the Egyptians happy to let them go. He had provided for them in the desert. I should add that my wife got a chuckle when it mentioned that the Hebrews had asked God for food, noting that they grumbled, whined, and complained until God sent them food in the wilderness. He provided a home for them in the Promised Land, where they were now celebrating God’s goodness. David reminded the people that God had provided in the past with the implication that He surely would provide for them in the future.

If you’ve ever gone through difficult times, that makes you human. Ditto if you’ve grumbled or complained during the tough times. The cure for that discontent comes when you remember what God has done for you in the past. It’s easy to forget His provision when you’re in the midst of difficulties, but He’s taken care of you, sometimes in ways that isn’t obvious until you take a look back and recognize what He’s done. He’s rescued you with joy and gladness – not only YOUR joy and gladness, but also His. He rejoices when you turn to Him so that He can rescue you. Whatever you’re going through now, think about how He’s provided for you in the past and know, and celebrate, how He’ll provide for you in the present.

Oh Lord, thank You for caring for me. You’ve met my needs in the past and Your love for me hasn’t changed. I know that You’ll provide for me now and in the future.

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October 11 – Thank Him, Proclaim His Name, and Sing!

Revelation 11; Esther 1; Psalm 105:1-25

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!” (Psalm 105:1-2 NKJV) 

The opening of this Psalm is joyous. The general belief is that David wrote this song to be recited as the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem. His joy and excitement overflowed in these opening verses. While the Psalm took a historical turn that wasn’t always joyous, David began with joy at the work of God. I wonder what would happen if we all started our day by remembering what God has done for us and finding ways to tell others of the amazing ways He’s worked in our lives.

We’re urged in both the New Testament and the Old Testament to spread the news about God’s work in our lives. As David describes it, we should be able to do so joyously. We should be thanking God, calling on Him and letting people know what God has done in our lives. Oh, and the singing – just like yesterday – keep singing. But through it all, tell people what God has done. You might try to say that God hasn’t done anything for you recently. And yet, there you are, breathing. You have people that loved you, and some that still love you. Do you have the ability to work? Have you eaten recently? All of these things and so much more come from God’s hand and by His grace. So, make today a day of thanksgiving, of rejoicing, of singing, and of telling others about God’s wondrous work in your life. When you start the day like that, you’re going to be off to a great day!

Lord, everything that I have, all that I am, all that I will be comes from Your hand and by Your grace. Let me proclaim Your amazing love to a world that needs to know Your love and presence. Keep me singing Your praises throughout the day.

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