Guidelines For Living Devotional

Guidelines

A 5-minute daily devotional to help you fully live the life God has designed for you.

All Episodes

How much do you really need?  If everything you own was suddenly wiped out by a fire or a devastating storm, would you thank God that your life was spared, or curse because of the loss?

Sep 22

5 min

Evident in almost every facet of life is a fundamental problem: We have not learned the secret of renewal, and pollution is the inevitable result, morally, spiritually, and physically.   A leading scientist said that almost everything the human hand touches becomes polluted.  The Sea of Galilee in Israel is a typical example.  Marine life in Galilee, the largest body of fresh water in Israel, is in danger of serious harm, even possible extinction, so some believe.

Sep 21

5 min

When I was in Jerusalem years ago, our Jewish guide began to tell about his birth in Germany and the persecution that followed in the early days of World War 2.  With growing emotional intensity, he told how his father was seized by the Gestapo and never heard from again.  The family escaped to another country in Europe.  With growing anger, the tempo of his conversation increased, and then almost as though he was venting some of his wrath, he said, "Where was God when the 6 million Jews were cremated?"  It was an old question.  Where is God in times of disaster?  Where was God when 4 million Cambodians were slaughtered in 1975 and 1976?  Where was God when men and women were slaughtered in the other conflicts?

Sep 18

5 min

How big is God?  That's a pretty tough question, right?  Ask ten people, and you will get ten different answers.  Ask a South American deep in the jungles of Colombia and he may lead you to a primitive hut.  From a narrow shelf just under a hand‑thatched roof, he may take down a beautifully polished statue and hold it out saying, "God is this big...."  As you observe the artifact he holds in his hand, you notice that it bears a striking resemblance to the man who holds it.

Sep 17

5 min

If ever a man went from hero to zero, it was Michael Parker.  His exotic cars, and yachts, and expensive club memberships, and connections to the high and mighty are all gone.  His expensive suits were traded for prison garb. 

Sep 16

5 min

When the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke to a group of law students, he said that Christians are "destined to be regarded as fools in modern society." "God," said the Justice, "assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed." Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society," Scalia warned.  "We are fools for Christ's sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world. If I have brought any message today," he concluded, "it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world." [1]   [1] Baergen, P. (2016, March 10). Blog. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://generationjoshua.org/GenJ/blog/liberty's-call/2016/03/10/remembering-justice-antonin-scalia

Sep 15

5 min

If you want to know how tolerant you really are, do not look at your own mistakes but look at the mistakes of your worst enemy.  Do not measure your tolerance when you got a scratch on the new car because the parked one was way too far out from the curb.  Measure your tolerance when your wife roundly smashes the left front fender.

Sep 14

5 min

If God really is supernatural, should we think it so strange when the miraculous occurs? Put more personally, can we trust Him for that which has no human explanation today?  Or should we conclude that God put our world into operation and then withdrew, leaving our world to run itself?  There is one thing for certain.  The twelve men who walked with Jesus Christ experienced a great deal of the supernatural, for Christ, according to the Gospels, touched blind eyes and men saw.  He cleansed the lepers.  He unstopped deaf ears, and the lame walked.  This, of course, was very unsettling to some of the people who were present, especially the religious leaders who were convinced that God could, but to actually see it, was rather distressing.  How could they account for it?

Sep 11

5 min

Is there any room for optimism today?  That may depend on your definition of optimism.  If you see it as looking for a black cat in a dark room, or feeling for a light switch that has been removed, originally connected to a burned‑out bulb, I guess there is not room for much optimism today, but if you believe that it is still God—not chance or fate—who is in control of our universe, there is still room for hope.  When we look beyond the headlines and read the last chapter, we come to understand that the scope of God's power can be brought to bear on the difficulties of life whether they are national or personal. 

Sep 10

5 min

When Lyndon Johnson was asked how he was getting along, he replied "Fine!"  He explained that he had adopted the formula once given to him by an old woman many years ago. She said, "When I walks, I walks slow.  When I sits, I sits loosely.  When I sees a worry coming on me, I just go to sleep."  It seems that nearly everyone has his own concerns over which he worries.  We worry about the weather, about taxes, about the world situation and about government.  We worry about the spread of global terrorism.  Single folks worry about getting married, and a lot of married folks that I know worry about staying that way.

Sep 9

5 min

G. K. Chesterton told the story of a yachtsman who set sail from England, determined to reach an exotic South Sea island. But after many stormy days at sea, he sighted land. Beaching his boat, he ventured inland to find a pagan temple before him. In the spirit of Indiana Jones, he was determined to claim it for England so he scaled the walls and bravely planted the Union Jack at its pinnacle, only to discover that what he had scaled was the Brighton Pavilion on England's south coast. He thought he had sailed in a straight line, but in the storm he had been blown off course and had actually gone in a circle without knowing it. As David Wells put it, "He imagined that he was the first in the land, but it turned out that he was the last."

Sep 8

5 min

Have you ever felt that you were stuck in an "in-between-time"?  Looking back over human history, the world has languished in the midst of pandemics, societal unrest, fires, droughts, floods, famines.  People have suffered in times of transition, leaving their old homes to seek new ones, sometimes trying to escape persecution and violence.  In times of war, no one knows what will end up being left of their personal worlds.  "In-between-times" are part of the human condition on this earth. Sometimes it can feel as if we are stuck in misery and uncertainty, unable to move forward through these present troubles.

Sep 7

5 min

Why God chooses to use some individuals, and seemingly ignores those with far greater talents, is always something which defies human logic.  The fact is that God often uses those who have little to recommend them when it comes to entitlement through education, family connections, and intelligence.  Yet the biographies of those who have made a mark for God indicate that they share three common traits:  1) They immediately and without hesitation responded to the call of God in their lives.  2)  Their simple faith in God was marked by complete obedience, and 3) What they had, they gave to the Lord completely and without reservation.

Sep 4

5 min

When Allied troops went into the concentration camps of Europe at the end of World War 2, soldiers found a Star of David carved on a wall with these words beneath it: "I believe in the sun--even when it does not shine.  I believe in love--even when it is not shown.  I believe in God--even when he does not speak."   This was the commitment of faith by someone who chose to hold on to his or her faith regardless of how dark the circumstances were.

Sep 3

5 min

When American first-lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was asked, "Do you think that the work of the world is carried on by faith?" she said, "Yes!”  In any great work, a certain amount of trust and faith in others we work with, is essential.  In a marriage, two people believe in each other and trust everything to each other.  They leave their families of origin and enter the great adventure of life to stand or fall together, believing that good will come of their relationship. 

Sep 2

5 min

“Faith,” alleged the agnostic Samuel Clemens, know as Mark Twain, “is believing what you know isn’t true but wish it were.”   George Mueller wouldn’t have agreed.  And who was George Mueller?   In the event that this name doesn’t register, let me explain briefly.  As his name suggests, Mueller was born in Kroppenstaedt, Prussia, and began his education in the classics in a German university.  Invited to the home of a friend, he heard a man drop to his knees and pray in such a way that he was deeply convicted and eventually was converted.

Sep 1

5 min

Being a helpful friend is different than simply being a nice person. If you are on the side of the road in a broken-down car, would you rather someone drive by and shout, "I'm sorry that happened to you!" or pull over and help you fix it? Which one is helpful? Help is often the physical form of encouragement. To be helpful to one another, we must get into the habit of putting actions behind even our kindest words. James, in the Bible, put it this way:  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15,16)

Aug 31

5 min

There is an amazing exchange between two friends tucked into the Bible book of II Kings. Elisha, the prophet, and his ministering servant find themselves in a very bad situation. Israel’s enemy, the Arameans, have snuck up and surrounded their hometown of Dothan. The Arameans are led by Ben-hadad and he and his force intended to kill Elisha and the entire community.

Aug 28

5 min

“What is faith?” asked the writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.  Then he answered his own question, saying, “It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen.  It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead” (Hebrews 11:1, LB).  Two words express this reality.  The first word, translated “confident assurance,” is a very positive expression; but it is the second word which gives us a picture which enlightens us.

Aug 27

5 min

Is it possible for you to believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but without getting too radical about it?   Putting it another way:  Are there different kinds of Christians?  Can you be a Christian by degrees, believing some things but not really becoming a fanatic? 

Aug 26

5 min

Bernadette Grey was the editor-in-chief of a women's magazine.  Her work-related responsibilities kept her in contact with some of the world's most successful businesswomen.  In one editorial she analyzed four factors which lead to success among her colleagues.  She mentioned 1) optimism, 2) uniqueness, 3) a strong work ethic, and 4) fearlessness.

Aug 25

5 min

Jesus was meeting with the disciples in an upper room, behind doors which hid him from public scrutiny--at least for the moment.  His words flowed from His heart.  He said--probably quietly and with great confidence--"Stop letting your hearts be troubled!"  Verbs in Greek convey a definite kind of action that they do not convey in English, and the one that Jesus used indicated that worry and concern had begun a long while before and was continuing.  But He says, "Stop doing it."

Aug 24

5 min

As a boy growing up in China, William sang about the grace of God, but it was not until the cold reality of solitary confinement in prison sank in that William began to understand what grace really means.  William’s mother was an American missionary who married a Chinese medical doctor, and they worked together in China, raising their family to know and follow God. 

Aug 21

5 min

"Exciting" says Webster's dictionary, is "to call to activity; to rouse to an emotional response" or "to increase the activity" of something.  There are certain words which are made to get down on all fours and walk, or should I say, crawl.  They are so overworked by the media that they become trite, superficial, and really without much meaning at all.

Aug 20

5 min

Wherever you live in the world, each morning you wake up to bad news.  Disease, disaster, death.  The narratives are bleak, yet the followers of Jesus Christ, his disciples in the here and now, are people of the Gospel and the Gospel is good news.  The Gospel is a story because God is a storyteller.  We’ve got His story of good news in His book, the Bible. 

Aug 19

5 min

We live in a broken, imperfect world, and one of the results is that bad things do happen to good people; but when we are confronted with that stark reality, almost always our hearts cry out, "Why, God? Why did this happen to me?"

Aug 18

5 min

One of the problems that confronts us in asking the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is that our perspective is incomplete.  We look at the set of circumstances which leads up to the unpleasant event which triggers the question, "Why?"  It is almost like asking the outcome of a ball game when there are two important minutes on the clock, and until the game is over, you don't have the complete picture.

Aug 17

5 min

When Boris Yeltsin was weathering the stormy coup in Moscow which so altered the former USSR, his adrenaline was really flowing.  As he mounted the barricade outside the walls of Parliament and raised his fist in the air, he allowed his five-year-old granddaughter to climb up and stand by his side.  After all, history was being made and what a grand moment to share with this little girl, who would never forget what she had experienced.

Aug 14

5 min

Frustration is no stranger to the child of God.  Believers live in a world of broken pieces, and buses which are late, and budgets which will not balance, just the same as the man who is an atheist.  I contend, however, that the child of God should have some resources with which to fight frustration.  Yes, the believer has powers to cope that the atheist does not have.  Like what?

Aug 13

5 min

When a psychotherapist talks about guilt, he is usually talking about something which the Bible describes as conscience. He's talking about the emotion which either condemns or exonerates you of your actions.  But when the Bible talks about guilt, using the same term which psychotherapy uses, it is in relationship to your standing before God--not your feelings, which may reflect your culture and your understanding of right or wrong.

Aug 12

5 min

Charles Schultz, the creator of the comic strip "Peanuts" had a grasp of human nature such as do few people.  Who can't identify with the series of cartoons where Lucy is trying to console Charlie Brown?  She says, "Remember, Charlie Brown, you learn more from your defeats than you do from your victories."  And Charlie Brown says, "That makes me the smartest man in the world!"

Aug 11

5 min

What we need today is more leaders!  Right?  Wrong, says Joe Stowell!  And who is this negative voice?  He served for 18 years as president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, one of our day's leading Christian colleges with more than a century of history. 

Aug 10

5 min

Ignorance is a wonderful thing!  What you don't know doesn't worry you, though it probably should.  You couldn't be out of money since you still have checks in your checkbook, right? The lump that you have on your neck can’t hurt you as long as you ignore it or can it?  It's not only your bank account or your health which is an issue; it's your spiritual life as well. Strange, is it not, how we prefer to ignore issues rather than confront them.

Aug 7

5 min

The writer, C.S. Lewis, points out that you've got to know what a straight line is before you know what a crooked one is.  But the “straight lines” of morality, of what is right and wrong, are fuzzy in the minds of a lot of people. Where do we get our idea of what is right and what is wrong and can something be “right for you, but wrong for me?”

Aug 6

5 min

A sign carried by a demonstrating student on a university campus read, "JESUS, YES!  CHRISTIANITY, NO!"  Was the student rejecting the distorted picture of Christianity which is often projected--the image of someone who goes to church yet whose life has been unaffected by the message?  Does this mean that the demonstrator related to Jesus as a revolutionary, as someone who stood against the crowd and certainly against the established government and authority of His day?  Or does that mean He stood for the real, the authentic, the genuine Christ who spoke the truth and gave His life that those who believe in Him could have everlasting life?

Aug 5

5 min

How many children grew up with a real distaste for the word “discipline?”  Like 2-year-old James, who, when his father announced that he would have to be disciplined for misbehaving chirped, “Discipline—that’s bad stuff!”

Aug 4

5 min

A husband picked up a call from his wife.  “Michael got his first tooth and took his first step!” she excitedly told him.  “That’s so great!” he answered. “No, there’s more,” continued the wife. "He also had his first fall and cut his lip, and when he did, he said his first bad word!"

Aug 3

5 min

Two brothers are scuffling in a disagreement.  Down on the floor they tumble, fists flailing.  Soon enough, the older brother manages to end up on top of the younger brother, who wails, “You’re not the boss of me!”    And, it’s true.  Mom or Dad is the real boss.  Hopefully we have long ago abandoned tussles with our siblings, but how often do we wrestle over the right of God to rule in our lives?

Jul 31

5 min

Some men find it difficult to say, "I love you," but in Bert Salva's case, what was tough was getting Mary Shiminsky‑‑the object of his affection‑‑to really believe him.  For almost four years Bert courted Mary but didn't get anywhere.  Actually, what he got was a clear message, "Get lost, Buddy, I never want to see you again."  To make the message more explicit, Mary changed her phone number, and moved in with her parents who live in an isolated area and left no forwarding address. 

Jul 30

5 min

In many places of the world, it’s not easy being a Christian.  A 2016 Pew Research Center study revealed that 83 percent of the world’s population lived in countries with high or very high religious restrictions, with Christians facing the most widespread religious restriction.  Open Doors, a ministry to the persecuted Church, estimates that 260 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution.

Jul 29

5 min

When Moses wrote the genealogies of our first fathers, he came to the sixth generation from Adam and recorded a curious and stunning entry. He says simply, “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). So what happened?  One old preacher explained it like this:  as Enoch and God walked together, along towards evening they were a long way from home and God said, “Enoch, it’s closer to my home than yours. Why don’t you just go home with me?”

Jul 28

5 min

"Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask," said the venerable Billy Graham.  How often do we go plodding on, sometimes blundering, getting ourselves into situations which turn into nightmares because we never bother to stop long enough and say, "God, what do you want me to do? Is this your will, or does it simply look pretty good to me?"  Answers to prayers that were never prayed could have saved you all kinds of headaches.

Jul 27

5 min

Be kind and rewind.  Did you ever see that phrase on the label of an old VHS videotape cassette?  It was a request for a simple act, asking the viewer to show kindness by rewinding the tape at the end of watching a movie so that the next person wouldn’t have to.  Simply think of the next guy, was the idea.

Jul 24

5 min

One of the weaknesses in popular Christianity today is the overemphasis on God’s love and an under emphasis on obedience to what He expects of those who follow Him.  "If you love me, you will obey what I command,” Jesus told His disciples (John 14:15).  Love and obedience are not antithetical to each other.  To the contrary, obedience—without hesitation—is the result of unconditional love.

Jul 23

5 min

Look up the word sovereign and you are apt to find a definition such as this: “Sovereign:  A British coin. See Pound Sterling.”  The definition continues, “The name sovereign was first applied to kings.  Everyone in a kingdom was a subject of the king.  The king himself was usually sovereign, which means subject to no one.”

Jul 22

5 min

Dark nights of the soul, when you question what you believe to be true, are nothing new to those who walk the pilgrim pathway; however, sometimes when those whom we put on pedestals or look up to acknowledge their doubts and fears, we are shocked, criticize them or rationalize the depths of their anguish.

Jul 21

5 min

“I love you, you’re perfect, now change” is the name of a humorous play which is a kind of parody on how we often fall madly in love with someone, think the person is just wonderful, and then strive to remake him or her.   Sometimes we nag.  Sometimes we cajole, sometimes we manipulate, sometimes we threaten. But it just doesn’t work.  It’s a lot like teaching a pig to sing: it annoys the pig and it wastes your time, yet from the days of Adam and Eve to the present we strive to redo the person to whom we are married.

Jul 20

5 min

“Every person needs to take one day away,” wrote poet, Maya Angelou.  “A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us… Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”[1]    [1] Angelou, Maya. “Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now.” Goodreads. Goodreads. Accessed May 27, 2020. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/rest.  

Jul 17

5 min

 When a TV crew interviewed people on the streets, they asked, “What is your purpose in life?”  Not expecting the question, some scratched their heads and said, “I’m not sure.”  One man said, “I don’t think I could answer that question until I’m dead,” which would be something like not knowing that you were supposed to put the ball through the hoop at the end of the court until after the basketball game was over.  Some spoke of their family’s figuring large in the purpose of their lives.

Jul 16

5 min

Does prayer work? Well, isn’t there a Bible verse that says something like that?” you may think, in response to this question.  After all, didn’t Jesus say, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it?” (John 14:14)

Jul 15

5 min

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