23 SEP: HE IS LOVED

We love Him because He first loved us. —1 John 4:19

READ SONG OF SOLOMON 1:1-4

“He’s perfect for you,” Kelia's friend told her. She was talking about a guy she had just met. She described his kind eyes, his kind smile, and his kind heart. When Kelia met him she had to agree. Today he is her husband, and no wonder Kelia loves him!

In the Song of Solomon the bride describes her lover. His love is better than wine and more fragrant than ointments. His name is sweeter than anything in this world. So she concludes that it’s no wonder he is loved.

But there is Someone far greater than any earthly loved one, Someone whose love is also better than wine. His love satisfies our every need. His “fragrance” is better than any perfume because when He gave Himself for us, His sacrifice became a sweet-smelling aroma to God (Ephesians 5:2). Finally, His name is above every name (Philippians 2:9). No wonder we love Him!

It is a privilege to love Jesus. It is the best experience in life! Do we take the time to tell Him so? Do we express with words the beauty of our Savior? If we show His beauty with our lives, others will say, “No wonder you love Him!” 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, You are beautiful! No wonder we love You! Deepen our love for You today, we pray. Help us see Your beauty in new ways.

God’s Word tells us of His love; our words tell Him of our love.

22 SEP: TEMPTING FISHHOOK

Resist [the devil], standing firm in the faith. 1 Peter 5:9

READ 1 PETER 5:1-9

David was fishing quietly on the clear, still waters of Piatt Lake, casting next to a lush weedbed. He watched as a large smallmouth bass sneak out of the thick vegetation to investigate. The fish approached the tempting night crawler, stared at it, and backed into the weeds. This happened several times until he spotted the hook. Then he whipped his tail and disappeared into his lair, never to come out again.

Satan dangles temptation, like a fishhook, right in front of us. It looks tasty. It promises gratification. But Satan’s power ends there. He cannot force us to take the hook. His power stops at the edge of our will—at our decision point. When we are warned by the Holy Spirit and decide to say no, Satan can do no more. James says he runs away (4:7).

As believers, we can receive great comfort from the words of the apostle Peter, who himself experienced great temptation (Matthew 26:33-35). In later life he wrote, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion . . . . Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Just as that big old bass ignored David's hook, we can in God’s strength successfully resist Satan’s most enticing tactics! 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Father in heaven, thank You for the promise of Your help when we are tempted and for the truth that Satan’s power is limited. Give us the wisdom to recognize temptation and the humility to rely on Your Spirit for the strength to resist.

Respond to the lies of Satan with the truth of God’s Word.

21 SEP: PLANTING A SEED

Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” Acts 26:29

READ ACTS 26:21-31

As a disciple of Jesus, we are to be witnessing and planting seeds of the Good News found in the gospel. Agrippa asks Paul in Acts 26 if he actually thinks that he can persuade Agrippa. How many times have you tried to talk with your unsaved family members or friends about the love of Jesus and His death on the Cross?

The problem for a lot of hearers of the gospel is not that the gospel is not convincing or that they don’t need to know God personally, it is that they choose not to respond.

Is it too great a price to give God control of your life? That price is minimal compared to living eternally apart from Him because you have chosen not to be His child and to walk in truth. There are no guarantees of multiple opportunities to respond to God.

What amazing words in Romans 5:8, “While we were still sinners.” God sent Jesus Christ to die for us, not because we were good enough, but because He loved us! “This is how we all know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us…” (1 John 3:16). God’s power is shown in the resurrection of Jesus. We show our love for Him when we trust Him with everything. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

You are saved by the blood of Jesus who became human. He has promised to redeem us, to give us eternal life, and to love us forever.

20 SEP: AROMA OF CHRIST

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved. 2 Corinthians 2:15

READ 2 CORINTHIANS 2:14-17

Hot and dusty, Bob dismounted from the bus he had ridden to a city far from home. He was tired from a long day of travel and grateful that he would be able to have dinner with friends of friends who lived in the area. They welcomed him in, and he immediately felt a sense of peace. He felt at home, comfortable, safe, and valued.

Later, wondering why he had felt such peace in an unfamiliar place, Bob found an answer in 2 Corinthians. The apostle Paul describes people who follow God as having the “pleasing aroma of Christ.” “That’s exactly it!” Bob said to himself. His hosts had “smelled like” Christ.

When Paul says that God leads His people in Christ’s “triumphal procession” spreading the fragrance of His truth, he’s referring to a practice in the ancient world. Victorious armies would burn incense as they marched through the streets. For their supporters, the smell brought joy. In the same way, Paul says the people of God carry a pleasing fragrance to those who believe. It isn’t something we create on our own but something God gives as He leads us in spreading the knowledge of Him.

REFLECT & PRAY 

Heavenly Father, thank You for leading Your people in triumph and spreading the fragrance of Your truth through us.

Who smells like Christ to you?

19 SEP: ROOTED

Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. — 2 Chronicles 24:2

READ 2 CHRONICLES 24:15-22

Joash must have been confused and frightened when he was told about the evil deeds of his grandmother Athaliah. She had murdered his brothers to usurp the power of the throne in Judah. But baby Joash had been safely hidden away by his aunt and uncle for 6 years (2 Chronicles 22:10-12). As he grew, he enjoyed the love and instruction of his caregivers. When Joash was only 7 years old, he was secretly crowned king and his grandmother was overthrown (23:12-15).

Young King Joash had a wise counselor by his side—his very own Uncle Jehoiada (Chronicles 22–25). Joash was one of the rare “good kings” of Judah, and while his uncle was alive he obeyed the Lord by doing right (24:2). But once his uncle was no longer there to teach and lead by example, Joash fell away and his life ended badly (24:15-25). It seems that the roots of his faith did not run very deep. He even began to worship idols. Perhaps Joash’s “faith” had been more his uncle’s than his own.

Others can teach us the principles of their faith, but each of us must come individually to a lasting and personal faith in Christ. For faith to be real, it must become our own. God will help us walk with Him and become rooted and established in the faith (Colossians 2:6-7). 

REFLECT & PRAY 

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, And it told Thy love to me; But I long to rise in the arms of faith And be closer drawn to Thee.

The faith that continues to the end gives proof that it was genuine in the beginning.

18 SEP: OUR BEING KNOWN

 I acknowledged my sin to You . . . . I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. — Psalm 32:5

READ JAMES 5:16-20

One of the most difficult inner conflicts we have is our desire to be known versus our fear of being known. As beings created in the image of God we are made to be known—known by God and also by others. Yet due to our fallen nature, all of us have sins and weaknesses that we don’t want others to know about. We use the phrase “dark side” to refer to aspects of our lives that we keep hidden. And we use slogans like “put your best foot forward” to encourage others to show their best side.

One reason we are unwilling to risk being known is that we fear rejection and ridicule. But when we discover that God knows us, loves us, and is willing to forgive even the worst thing we have done, our fear of being known by God begins to fade away. And when we find a community of believers who understands the dynamic relationship between forgiveness and confession, we feel safe confessing our sins to one another (James 5:16).

The life of faith is not about showing only our good side. It’s about exposing our dark side to the light of Christ through confession to God and also to others. In this way we can receive healing and live in the freedom of forgiveness. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, help me to expose my sin, Those secret wrongs that lurk within; I would confess them all to Thee; Transparent I would always be.

The voice of sin may be loud, but the voice of forgiveness is louder.

17 SEP: GOD'S POINT OF VIEW

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

READ HABAKKUK 1:1-11

Why does the intoxicated driver escape an accident unharmed while his sober victim is seriously injured? Why do bad people prosper while good people suffer? How often have you been so confused by things going on in your life that you have cried out, “Doesn’t God care?”

Habakkuk struggled with this same question as he saw the distressing situation in Judah where wickedness and injustice were running rampant (Habakkuk 1:1-4). His confusion drove him to ask God when He would act to fix the situation. God’s reply was nothing short of perplexing.

God said that He would use the Chaldeans as the means of Judah’s correction. The Chaldeans were notorious for their cruelty (verse 7). They were bent on violence (verse 9) and worshiped nothing but their military prowess and false gods (verses 10-11).

In moments when we don’t understand God’s ways, we need to trust His unchanging character. That’s exactly what Habakkuk did. He believed that God is a God of justice, mercy, and truth (Psalm 89:14). In the process, he learned to look at his circumstances from the framework of God’s character instead of looking at God’s character from the context of his own circumstances. He concluded, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19). 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, it is easy to let my circumstances change how I understand You. Help me to remember that You are good and faithful, even though I can’t see everything and may not understand how You are working.

Our situation may look very different from God’s point of view.