Jesus said “…Upon this Rock I will build my Church… ” Matthew 16:18
Sunday, September 4 – The Key to Prosperity
He was diligent in every deed that he began in the service of God’s temple, in the law and in the commandment, in order to seek his God, and he prospered.—2 Chronicles 31:21
There is a way to ensure that you prosper in what you do: serve the Lord with all your heart! Hezekiah, king of Judah, lived in a dangerous and tumultuous time. He faced powerful enemies. Idolatry was the popular religion of the day. His parents had rejected God and encouraged people to worship other gods (2 Chron. 28). Hezekiah had the opportunity to reject God as well, yet he chose to serve God with all of his heart. He did everything in his power to promote worship of the true God. He diligently followed God’s commandments. As a result of Hezekiah’s determination to serve God, God blessed him. Hezekiah thrived in an unsettled time because he resolved to follow God despite popular opinion.
God will honor the heart that commits to follow Him (2 Chron. 26:5). In times when worshiping God is not in vogue and when the forces of the day oppose Him, it takes courage and resolve to seek after God. God is pleased to prosper those who strive to please Him rather than to seek the approval of people (1 Sam. 2:30). Hezekiah stands in stark contrast to Rehoboam, an earlier king of Judah. It is said of Rehoboam that “he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord” (2 Chron. 12:14). When you do not set your heart to seek the Lord, calamity is the inevitable result. The surest way to prosper in your endeavors is to diligently pursue the will of God.
Monday, September 5 – Freely Give
You have received free of charge; give free of charge.—Matthew 10:8b
There is no room for misers in God’s kingdom. When we begin to struggle in giving what we have to others, we have forgotten where we received our possessions. Every good thing we have ever received has come from God (James 1:17). All that we have acquired has been dependent upon His grace (1 Cor. 4:7). Job accurately summarized our condition: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, / And naked shall I return there. / The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; / Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
We easily assume a sense of ownership of our possessions, as if they were things we earned ourselves, thereby giving us a right to them. Jesus reminds us to be prepared to give our possessions as freely and joyfully as we received them. It should be a pleasure for us to give what we have to others (2 Cor. 9:7). We ought to be a conduit through whom the Lord can pour His blessings, knowing we will disperse them to everyone around us. Sometimes we claim we are trying to be good stewards of our resources when actually we are being selfish.
If you struggle to give freely to others, you have become more attached to the gift than to the Giver. The account of the rich young ruler shows the tragedy of becoming too attached to worldly treasures (Luke 8:18–24). Meditate on all that your Lord has given to you (John 3:16). Resolve to express your gratitude to Him through your giving.
Tuesday, September 6 – Nothing Can Separate You
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?—Romans 8:35
Nothing you could ever experience, no matter how terrible or frightening, could ever separate you from the love of God. No tribulation and distress you might ever suffer could be so intense that God’s love for you is not even more fervent. No persecution could be so painful that God’s love cannot bring comfort. Famine might starve you of food, but you will never hunger for the Father’s love. Poverty cannot strip you of God’s compassion, just as even death itself is incapable of robbing you of your heavenly Father’s infinite love.
If you base your view of God’s love on your circumstances, you will become confused. There may be times when you will ask, “How could a loving God allow this to happen to me?” You may begin to question what you find clearly stated in the Word of God. God promised that you would never be separated from His love; He did not say that you would never face hardship, persecution, poverty, or danger. If you doubt that God could love you and still allow you to experience difficult experiences, consider the life of Jesus.
If you allow the death of Jesus on the cross to forever settle any questions you might have about God’s love, you will approach difficult circumstances with confidence. Knowing that there will never be anything that could separate you from God’s perfect love, you will watch to see how God expresses His love in each circumstance. Don’t ever judge God’s love based on your circumstances. Instead, evaluate your circumstances from the perspective of God’s love.
Wednesday, September 8 – Not Lost in the Crowd
When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, because today I must stay at your house.”—Luke 19:5
In our large world it’s easy to feel that we are nothing more than an insignificant speck in the midst of a multitude. Our world tends to depersonalize us, seeking to make us like everyone else, but God loves us in specific ways that are particular to us.
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to fulfill His assignment on the cross. The multitudes thronged around Him in such numbers that the diminutive Zacchaeus could not see Jesus unless he climbed a tree. Zacchaeus would have been satisfied simply to catch a glimpse of the great Teacher. But Jesus stopped, turned, and looked directly at him! In that moment, Zacchaeus was oblivious to the crowd around him. Thus began a special time with Jesus that radically changed his life.
Jesus will relate to you in ways that are unique to you. He knows your past; He knows what you will face in the future. Because He knows everything about you, His word to you will perfectly fit the circumstances of your life. You may be in a group of Christians who are listening to God’s Word, and you may hear things from Him that no one else hears. Don’t become frustrated with others if they are not as excited about a truth from God as you are. Don’t be impatient with them if they are not implementing God’s word in their lives exactly as you are. God will personalize His word to you. He will relate to each of your friends in a way that specifically meets their needs as well.
Thursday, September 9 – Returning to Your Failure
“Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.”—Luke 5:5
No one knows how to help you in your times of failure as Jesus does! He will not overlook your shortcoming or simply encourage you to do better the next time. He will give you victory in the midst of your failure.
Peter had fished all night without success. His was not just a meager catch; he had caught nothing, even though he was a skilled fisherman. Jesus could have said, “Peter, don’t worry about your empty net. You’ll soon be in a different business anyway.” Instead, Jesus told him to launch out into the deep and to cast out his nets for a catch. How humbling it must have been for Peter! Here was a carpenter telling this outspoken fisherman how to fish!
Jesus often gets your undivided attention when you fail. He sometimes takes you back to your place of defeat in order to build something good into your life. You may assume He must not want you to continue because you failed so miserably in your attempt. Perhaps your problem was that you relied on your own strength instead of the Master’s. Maybe you failed in a relationship. Jesus will not allow you to abandon it; He will help you learn from your failure and experience the difference He can make when He guides your relationships. When you try in God’s strength you may discover that success is indeed within your grasp. If you have recently experienced failure, you may be on the brink of receiving a profound revelation from God!
Friday, September 10 – God Remembers
“Go and announce directly to Jerusalem that this is what the Lord says:
I remember the loyalty of your youth, your love as a bride—how you followed Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.”—Jeremiah 2:2
Even when our hearts grow cold toward God and our devotion to Him weakens, His love remains steadfast. We may forget God, but He remembers us.
God was concerned because the people of Judah had allowed their hearts to drift far from Him. In a powerful moment, God shared His heart with His people, recalling what it was like when they first began loving Him. He remembered how they had loved Him, as a new bride loves her husband, with excitement and enthusiasm for the future. He recalled the kindness they had expressed as they willingly followed Him wherever He led them. God reminded them of the love they had once had for Him, so that the memory might rekindle feelings of devotion and their hearts might return to Him.
If you do not guard our heart, you will grow cold in your love for Christ. A time may come when He approaches you and reminds you what your relationship was once like. Do you recollect the joy that permeated your life when you first became a Christian? Do you recall the youthful commitments you made to Him, pledging to do anything He told you to do? Do you remember the thrill you experienced each time you came to understand a new dimension of His nature? Spiritual memory is important. You may not realize how far you have drifted from God until you contrast the love you are expressing to Him now with that of earlier days.
God has not changed. He is the same Person you gave your heart to when you became a Christian (Mal. 3:6–7). If your love for God is not as intense as it once was, return to Him. He will restore the intimate fellowship you once shared with Him.
Saturday, September 11 – Go!
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . . —Matthew 28:19
Our Master commands us to “go.” We need permission to stay! The gospel is the account of Jesus’ leaving His Father’s right hand to go to Calvary. Jesus instructed those who wanted to be His disciples to leave their homes and their comforts and follow Him. Some insisted that they could not go yet because they still had to care for elderly parents (Luke 9:59–60). Others wanted to make sure everything was in order first (Luke 9:61–62). Still others expressed willingness to follow but wanted to know the details of what they would be doing (Luke 9:57–58). Jesus never excused those who struggled to follow Him. He made it clear that to follow Him meant He set the direction and they were to follow.
We can convince ourselves that Jesus does not really want us to adjust our lives, pointing to the success we are enjoying right where we are. Yet Jesus often told His disciples to go elsewhere in spite of the success they were experiencing. Peter had just pulled in the greatest catch of fish of his entire career when Jesus invited him to leave everything (Luke 5:1–11). Philip was enjoying astounding success as an evangelist when the Holy Spirit instructed him to go to the desert (Acts 8:25–40). Success where we are can be our greatest hindrance to going where Jesus wants us to be.
If you become too comfortable where you are, you may resist Christ’s invitation to go elsewhere. Don’t assume that God does not want you to go in service to Him. He may lead you across the street to share the gospel with your neighbor or to the other side of the world. Wherever He leads, be prepared to go.