15 AUG: WARM WELCOME

 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. — Romans 15:7

READ ROMANS 15:1-7

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a familiar sight greeted ships as they pulled into the port of Savannah, Georgia. That sight was Florence Martus, “The Waving Girl.” For 44 years, Florence greeted the great ships from around the world, waving a handkerchief by day or a lantern by night. Today, a statue of Florence and her faithful dog stands in Savannah’s Morrell Park, permanently welcoming incoming vessels.

There is something in a warm welcome that speaks of acceptance. In Romans 15:7, Paul urged his readers: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you”. Paul had in view our treatment of each other as followers of Christ, for in verses 5-6 he challenged us to live in harmony with one another. The key is to have “the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Our acceptance of our fellow believers in Christ demonstrates more than just our love for each other—it reflects the great love of the One who has permanently welcomed us into His family. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Father, give me a heart for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Please give us, together, a heart for one another, so that we will love and honor You in all we do.

14 AUG: ROLE OF LIGHT

Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.” John 8:12

READ JOHN 9:1-7

We remember Albert Einstein for more than his disheveled hair, big eyes, and witty charm. We know him as the genius and physicist who changed the way we see the world. His famous formula of E=mc2 revolutionized scientific thought and brought us into the nuclear age. Through his “Special Theory of Relativity” he reasoned that since everything in the universe is in motion, all knowledge is a matter of perspective. He believed that the speed of light is the only constant by which we can measure space, time, or physical mass.

Long before Einstein, Jesus talked about the role of light in understanding our world, but from a different perspective. To support His claim to be the Light of the World (John 8:12), Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth (John 9:6). When the Pharisees accused Christ of being a sinner, this grateful man said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (verse 25).

While Einstein’s ideas would later be proven difficult to test, Jesus’ claims can be tested. We can spend time with Jesus in the Gospels. We can invite Him into our daily routine. We can see for ourselves that He can change our perspective on everything. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord Jesus, You are the one constant in this chaotic world. Thank You for being the one true Light that the darkness can never extinguish.

13 AUG: KEEP IT LIGHT

... let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. –Hebrews 12:1

READ HEBREWS 12:1-6

It’s not unusual in Thailand to see bikes stacked high with people’s belongings. They are often loaded so high that it’s difficult to understand how they can even ride them. It’s hard to watch their riders struggle under their heavy load.

On the other hand, cyclists who compete in races do everything possible to lighten their load. The lightest bike to ever compete in the Tour De France was slightly under fifteen pounds. In a race to win, every ounce counts.

Picture in your mind the two polar opposites, what do you see? I see one struggling under a heavy load, while the other is flying down the highway driven by the wind. I see one struggling to do life their way, under their own strength, but never really getting anywhere. Finally, I see one who left behind excess baggage, lightened the load, and is determined to win the race.

We’re told to cast our cares upon the Lord, yet we continue to carry them. You can't win the race carrying your burdens. You'll never win the race with loads of sin. Lighten the load, cast your cares on the Father, confess your sins to Him and get in the race. You were created to soar with eagles, not to be a pack mule.

REFLECT & PRAY 

Refuse to be moved by what you see. Focus on the finish line. Drop the excess baggage and pray for the strength to never pick it up again.

12 AUG: A PICTURE OF JESUS

We have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

READ ISAIAH 53:4-12

In Portraits of Famous American Women, Robert Henkes writes, “A portrait is not a photograph, nor is it a mirror image.” A portrait goes beyond the outer appearance to probe the emotional depth of the human soul. In a portrait, a true artist tries “to capture what the person is really about.”

Over the centuries, many portraits have been painted of Jesus. Perhaps you’ve seen them in a church or museum of art or even have one in your home. Not one of these is a true portrait, of course, because we have no photograph or mirror image of our Lord’s physical appearance. We do, however, have a magnificent word portrait of Him in Isaiah 53. This God-inspired description captures in vivid detail what He is all about: “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering . . . . But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; . . . and by his wounds we are healed” (verses 4-5).

This passage enables us to see love and sorrow, anguish and pain on Jesus’ face. But His lips do not accuse or condemn. He has no sins of His own to grieve; only ours to bear. And deep inside, He knows that “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied” (verse 11). What a portrait of our Savior! 

REFLECT & PRAY 

What amazing love You have for us, Jesus! As I think of how awesome You are, I bow in silence before You.

11 AUG: HE GETS ALL CREDIT

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. — John 16:33

READ JOHN 16:1-11

In accounting, an exam candidate that  starts with a faulty understanding of a basic banking concept usually get all questions wrong. The candidate will probably reverse debits and credits. 

We sometimes get our debits and credits confused in the spiritual realm as well. When we blame Satan for everything that goes wrong—whether it’s bad weather, a jammed printer, or financial trouble—we’re actually giving him credit that he doesn’t deserve. We are ascribing to him the power to determine the quality of our lives, which he does not have. Satan is limited in time and space. He has to ask God’s permission before he can touch us (Job 1:12; Luke 22:31).

However, as the father of lies and prince of this world (John 8:44; 16:11), Satan can cause confusion. Jesus warned of a time when people would be so confused that they wouldn’t know right from wrong (16:2). But He added this assurance: “The prince of this world now stands condemned” (verse 11).

Problems will disrupt our lives, but they cannot defeat us. Jesus has already overcome the world. To Him goes all the credit. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Thank You, Father, for being Lord over everything in our lives. We praise You for overcoming the world through Your Son.

10 AUG: I'VE COME TO HELP

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

READ JAMES 1:19-27

Reporter Jacob Riis’s vivid descriptions of poverty in 19th-century New York City horrified a generally complacent public. His book How the Other Half Lives combined his writing with his own photographs to paint a picture so vivid that the public could not escape the certainty of poverty’s desperate existence. The third of fifteen children himself, Riis wrote so effectively because he had lived in that world of terrible despair.

Shortly after the release of his book, he received a card from a young man just beginning his political career. The note read simply, “I have read your book, and I have come to help. Theodore Roosevelt.” (This politician later became a US President.)

True faith responds to the needs of others, according to James (1:19-27). May our hearts be moved from inaction to action, from words alone to deeds that back them up. Compassionate action not only aids those mired in life’s difficulties, but it may also make them open to the greater message from our Savior who sees their need and can do so much more for them. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

O Lord, it is so easy to be overwhelmed, or to judge and therefore to refrain from helping others. Lift our eyes above our own thoughts and circumstances, and let us care as You care.

9 AUG: HELD IN PLACE

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. –Joshua 1:8 

READ JOSHUA 1:5-9

Have you noticed that you don’t just naturally grow closer to the Lord with time? You may desire to stay on track, but if you don’t diligently pray, read God’s Word, and apply His truth, you’ll inevitably drift into neglect and gravitate toward spiritual disarray. The routines of life easily get you sidetracked, old habits creep back in, and former ways of thinking dull your sensitivity to the Lord’s voice. Relationships with others distract you, and before you realize what’s happened, you find yourself far from where you want to be.

Sound familiar?

Of course God isn’t surprised by this tendency to drift, which is why He commanded Joshua to mediate on His words day and night. That doesn’t mean you have to read the Bible 24/7, but rather to engage with God’s truth so regularly that it permeates your thinking and ultimately influences your actions.

Generations later Paul restated the same idea when he told the new believers to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). God’s Word combined with the power of God’s Spirit are the key tools you have to keep you in place and anchored to the One who never moves!

REFLECT & PRAY 

God, I admit I’m distracted by so many things. Help me to be attracted only to You. Jesus, give me Your mind and heart and strengthen me by Your Spirit to keep my mind centered on You.