Today is a daily devotional that helps God's people refresh, refocus and renew their faith through Bible reading, reflection, and prayer.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
— 2 Corinthians 13:14
Anthony, wearing a black bomber jacket and aviator sunglasses, paces back and forth outside my office. I’m on the phone, but he gestures repeatedly that I should “hang up the phone.” Now inside my office, he continues to pace, rips off his sunglasses, and blurts out, “I need communion. Now, Pastor. Sir. Now indeed. Indulge.”
Anthony struggles with his mental health. He has no access to quality mental care, so he wanders the streets talking to voices in his head, and he self-medicates with cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. Five years ago he tested positive for HIV. His outbursts have led to his being barred from shelters around the city. He sleeps on a mattress in his cousin’s garage.
“Pastor, I need communion, sir, and I need it now.” Mental, physical, and emotional trauma have left him incapable of building trusting relationships. He needs to know he belongs—to God and neighbor.
Felisha and Raphael, church council members at Roseland Christian Ministries, are both present. We scrounge up some bread and grape juice and gather in a circle, the four of us in my office. “Anthony, the body of Christ, broken for you; the blood of Christ, shed for you.”
Anthony breathes deeply and says, “The body of Christ for me. Indeed. Amen.”
Lord God, move us into relationship with you, community, and creation. In Jesus, Amen.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
— Matthew 13:44
Come to Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood with me. Drive down Michigan Avenue, past Root Brothers Hardware. “Checks Cashed” blinks in neon from the Currency Exchange, and “$2,300 – LIKE NEW!!” shines from the window of a red Chevy Cavalier. Snow falls on people outside Roseland Christian Ministries (RCM) as they wait for the food pantry to open.
Just inside the front door eight men and women are busy stacking cans and boxes of food. As they finish, RCM volunteer Ms. Arlene says, in a Jamaican accent, “OK, let us gather to pray. . . . Holy Spirit, fill us with the love of Jesus. May your gifts be given to your people. Amen.” For the next two hours this group of employees and volunteers serves groceries to people coming in from the local community.
The corner of East 109th and Michigan in Chicago is a part of God’s kingdom. Like a farmer who finds treasure in a field and then sells everything he has to purchase that field, I have had the privilege of seeing and working in a sliver of God’s kingdom here on Chicago’s South Side.
And as you meet some of the people here, my hope is that you may discover a deeper awareness of Christ’s presence in the communities where you live.
Lord, open our eyes to see you and our ears to hear you. May we be surprised by the treasure that is your kingdom in the communities we are a part of. Amen.
Seated with Him on the Throne
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
— Revelation 21:5
Some imagery that appears in the beginning of the Bible is contrasted or expanded upon in the final chapters of God’s grand story of salvation. The unformed abyss in Genesis 1, for example, is contrasted with the stunning architecture of the heavenly city in Revelation 21. The tree of life in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24) is multiplied in Revelation 22 and described as constantly bearing fruit and providing healing for the nations. And the image of the Spirit hovering and brooding over the waters is contrasted with the One who is now seated on the throne.
Creation will be complete, fully formed and mature, and we will enjoy glorious, delightful friendship with our loving Creator, who invites us to live with him in the perfect unity of love that has always characterized God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The awe-inspiring creation that we live in today will be the foundation for the new creation, and we can look forward to rejoicing along with birds and all other creatures in the new heaven and earth.
Not only is Christ seated in the heavenly realms, but we who love and trust him are also raised up with Christ and are seated with him even now (Ephesians 2:6). This means our lives are firmly grounded and maturing in Christ as we enjoy the intimacy of living in communion with God each day while awaiting his coming again.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, may all honor and glory be yours, now and forever! Amen.
Trusting God’s Plan to Bring Justice
I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God. . . .”
— Revelation 19:17
My first sighting of the flight of tens of thousands of crows at dusk in East Vancouver was eerie and foreboding. But over the years, I’ve grown used to this cacophonous, raucous parade in the sky that takes place twice a day as these birds travel between the beaches and their rookeries.
These midair birds fly higher up than songbirds but closer to the earth than soaring eagles, and they are flourishing in many cities today. They have even been dubbed the “Einstein bird” for the ways they have adjusted their behavior to human patterns. Crows have learned that threats are fewer and food is more plentiful in urban areas, so they live in abundance in protected parks, and they glean from the messes that humans leave behind.
The Bible has many references to these prolific birds that God has appointed in his plan to bring justice, and in Revelation 19 they are called to devour evil rulers. Acknowledging these swarms, or murders, of crows is chilling and unpleasant, but we also have the hopeful promise that God will not allow evil to have the final word. There are things that happen in the world that break our hearts; we recognize corruption and evil. But in Christ we are assured that one day things will be made right again.
God of justice and righteousness, we trust in your promise to make all things new. Let your kingdom come, and may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Claiming to Know Christ as Lord
Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
— Matthew 26:75
While it might be easy for us to overlook sparrows and other small birds in our daily meanderings, it can be hard to ignore a rooster if we see or hear one: the gurgling, jarring, sometimes ear-splitting racket is enough to wake anybody up!
In our reading for today, the sound of a rooster crowing became a devastating wake-up call for Peter. He had promised to be faithful, but when it came right down to it, he chickened out, and he denied ever knowing Jesus. And, of course, Jesus knew that would happen. It isn’t easy to identify with a suffering Savior.
Sometimes today too, the Holy Spirit may use ordinary things in our lives to help us see how we have let Jesus down. It could be on social media, or at work, or when we’re driving that we are suddenly pierced with an awareness of how we haven’t done the right thing, and that we too are capable of denying our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thankfully for us all, God is merciful. In John 21, after Jesus has died and risen again, he lovingly restores Peter, calling him to serve faithfully (John 21:15-19). Through his perfect love, Jesus also reverses our denials by reclaiming us as his own.
Lord Jesus, we are sorry for the ways we have denied you in our lives. Forgive us, restore us, and empower us to claim you as our Lord. In your name, Amen.
Looking in the Wrong Places
“Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
— Luke 17:37
One time while we were on a hike as a family, we sat on a bluff overlooking a valley, and we took out a bundle of sandwiches made with leftover roast turkey. As soon as we started eating, a large vulture came swooping past us. And just as quickly it flew off again, seeing there was nothing dead or decaying for it to eat. Jesus’ comment about vultures in our reading for today has to do with questions about the end times. People often wonder whether disasters in their era are signs that the world is going to end. Today too, with wars, earthquakes, droughts, hurricanes, floods, and fires causing so much devastation and hardship, people question if these events might be the harbinger of Jesus’ return. But when his disciples asked him to explain about his coming again, Jesus gave a cryptic response about dead bodies and vultures! It seems he was simply saying that if you see many vultures gathering in the sky, you can be certain that something is dying. In another passage Jesus adds that only the Father knows exactly when the end will come—“not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. . . . So . . . be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:36, 44). Knowing that Jesus will eventually come again, we can live faithfully as we continually look forward to his return.
Lord, help us not to grow weary of waiting but to continually hope in you and to live for you as we long for your coming again. Amen.
Short, Detailed, & Godly
This is exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for a short Bible devotional and mini explanation of it or thought to make you think about your life and God through out the day. This podcast nailed it and they threw in a bonus for me and it’s the prayer at the end. I also notice if you click on the episode information they give you the Bible verse or verses they read and all they spoke about even the prayer. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your podcast. Keep up the good job! God bless!
I thoroughly enjoy this daily devotional. I found it an excellent way to start my mornings. The messages are short, to the point, and explained in a matter that is easy to understand. I have felt my faith beginning to grow as I listen to this daily. Thank you and keep up the amazing work!