20 SEP: VIEWING HABITS

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

READ PHILIPPIANS 4:4–9

Poh loves egg roti prata, a popular pancake in her country Singapore. She was so intrigued to read that a 125-pound (57 kg) person must run 5 miles (8 km) per hour for 30 minutes to burn 240 calories. That’s equivalent to only one egg roti prata.

When Poh started working out in the gym, those numbers took on a new significance for her. She find herself asking: Is this food worth the calories?

While it is wise to watch our food consumption, it is even more important to watch our media consumption. Research shows that what we see can stay in our minds for a long time and influence our behavior. It has a “clingy effect,” sticking to us like that stubborn fat we find so hard to lose.

With the wide variety of media content surrounding us today, we need to be discerning consumers. That doesn’t mean we read only Christian literature or watch only faith-related movies, but we are careful about what we allow our eyes to see. We might ask ourselves: Is this worth my time?

In Philippians 4:8, the apostle Paul tells us in essence, “Feed your eyes and minds on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.” This is a “diet” worthy of what Christ has done and is doing in us. 

REFLECT & PRAY

Are my viewing habits enhancing my life or are they drawing me away from things that really matter? Help me, Lord, to make wise choices.

The mind is formed by what it takes in. 

19 SEP: GENTLE JESUS

Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 18:3

READ MATTHEW 18:1-10

Charles Wesley (1707–1788) was a Methodist evangelist who wrote more than 9,000 hymns and sacred poems. Some, like “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” are great, soaring hymns of praise. But his poem “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild,” first published in 1742, is a child’s quiet prayer that captures the essence of how all of us should seek the Lord in sincere, simple faith.

Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb,

In Thy gracious hands I am;

Make me, Savior, what Thou art,

Live Thyself within my heart.

When some followers of Jesus were jockeying for position in His kingdom, the Lord “called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-3).

Not many children seek position or power. Instead, they want acceptance and security. They cling to the adults who love and care for them. Jesus never turned children away.

The last stanza of Wesley’s poem shows a childlike desire to be just like Jesus: “I shall then show forth Thy praise / Serve Thee all my happy days; / Then the world shall always see / Christ, the holy Child, in me.” 

REFLECT & PRAY

Father, give me the faith of a little child. I want to know Your love and care, and to rest in Your embrace. Grant my desire to be like You in all my ways that I might live for Your honor.

Faith shines brightest in a childlike heart.

18 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 (chapters 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. —Crosby

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

17 SEP: CHRIST WORK

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:15

READ 2 CORINTHIANS 2:12–17

A perfumer who works in New York declares that she can recognize certain combinations of scents and guess the perfumer behind a fragrance. With just a sniff she can say, “This is Jenny’s work.”

When writing to the followers of Christ in the city of Corinth, Paul at one point used an example that would have reminded them of a victorious Roman army in a conquered city burning incense (2 Corinthians 2:14). The general would come through first, followed by his troops and then the defeated army. For the Romans, the aroma of the incense meant victory; for the prisoners, it meant death.

Paul said we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ’s victory over sin. God has given us the fragrance of Christ Himself so we can become a sweet-smelling sacrifice of praise. But how can we live so we spread this pleasing fragrance to others? We can show generosity and love, and we can share the gospel with others so they can find the way to salvation. We can allow the Spirit to display through us His gifts of love, joy, and kindness (Galatians 5:22–23).

Do others observe us and say, “This is Jesus’s work”? Are we allowing Him to spread His fragrance through us and then telling others about Him? He is the Ultimate Perfumer—the most exquisite fragrance there will ever be. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Do others recognize the work of God in my life? Am I spreading the fragrance of Christ? How?

A godly life is a fragrance that draws others to Christ.

16 SEP: BODY OF CHRIST

[God] comforts us . . . so that we can comfort those in any trouble. 2 Corinthians 1:4

READ 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3–7

“The body of Christ” is a mysterious phrase used more than 30 times in the New Testament. The apostle Paul especially settled on that phrase as an image of the church. After Jesus ascended to heaven, He turned over His mission to flawed and bumbling men and women. He assumed the role of head of the church, leaving the tasks of arms, legs, ears, eyes, and voice to the erratic disciples—and to you and me.

Jesus’s decision to operate as the invisible head of a large body with many parts means that He often relies on us to help one another cope during times of suffering. The apostle Paul must have had something like that in mind when he wrote these words: “[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:4–5). And all through his ministry Paul put that principle into practice, taking up collections for famine victims, dispatching assistants to go to troubled areas, acknowledging believers’ gifts as gifts from God Himself.

The phrase “the body of Christ” expresses well what we are called to do: to represent in flesh what Christ is like, especially to those in need. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Dear Lord, thank You for always being faithful to comfort me when I’m hurting. Show me who needs my encouragement today.

God’s presence brings us comfort; our presence brings others comfort.

15 SEP: BEYOND TIME

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68–69

READ JOHN 6:53–69

During 2016, theater companies in Britain and around the world have staged special productions to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Concerts, lectures, and festivals have drawn crowds who celebrate the enduring work of the man widely considered to be the greatest playwright in the English language. Ben Jonson, one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, wrote of him, “He was not of an age, but for all time.”

While the influence of some artists, writers, and thinkers may last for centuries, Jesus Christ is the only person whose life and work will endure beyond time. He claimed to be “the bread that came down from heaven . . . whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” (verse 58).

When many people who heard Jesus’s teaching were offended by His words and stopped following Him (John 6:61–66), the Lord asked His disciples if they also wanted to leave (verse 67). Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (verses 68–69).

When we invite Jesus to come into our lives as our Lord and Savior, we join His first disciples and all those who have followed Him in a new life that will last forever—beyond time. 

REFLECT & PRAY

Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of eternal life in fellowship with You today and forever.

Jesus is the Son of God, the Man beyond time, who gives us eternal life.