Living for Christ

March 2012 Daily Devotion Archive

March 1:
Never Stop Forgiving

Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." - Matthew 18:21-22

Seventy times seven is 490. Obviously, though, Jesus isn't commanding us to keep track of how many times we forgive each person and stop forgiving once we reach the 491st occurrence. Instead, He is implying that we should keep on forgiving, no matter how many times we are asked to do so. Why does He give us this command? Because Jesus forgives us just as much! There is no limit to how many times He will forgive us for our sins (if we have been born again in Him), so when someone sins against you, there should be no limit to how many times you are willing to forgive that person. Another reason why forgiveness is important is because God, in His infinite wisdom, realizes that holding a grudge doesn't harm the other person but only harms yourself and your relationship with Him. But most of all, we should forgive others because Christ forgives us.

Question to Ponder: Is there someone that you need to forgive?

March 2:
Spiritual Awareness

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. - 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8

Consider this the next time you are knowingly committing a sinful act: If Jesus were to return at that very moment, how would that make you feel? Would you want to face our Lord and Savior under those circumstances, knowing what you had been doing? In these verses, Paul urges the people of Thessalonica (as well as the rest of us) to be aware of the fact that Jesus could return at any time, and we don't know when that will be. Rely on the strength of God and stay away from things which are done in darkness. Remain in the light instead.

Question to Ponder: The next time you are committing a sinful act, remember the question posed in this devotional.

March 3:
He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.
This also is vanity.
When goods increase,
They increase who eat them;
So what profit have the owners
Except to see them with their eyes?
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet,
Whether he eats little or much;
But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
Riches kept for their owner to his hurt.
But those riches perish through misfortune;
When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand.
- Ecclesiastes 5:10-14

March 4:
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
The Lord has been mindful of us;
He will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron.
He will bless those who fear the Lord,
Both small and great.
May the Lord give you increase more and more,
You and your children.
May you be blessed by the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's;
But the earth He has given to the children of men.
The dead do not praise the Lord,
Nor any who go down into silence.
But we will bless the Lord
From this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the Lord!
- Psalm 115:11-18

March 5:
Sexual Sin

Moreover you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor's wife, to defile yourself with her. And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. - Leviticus 18:20-25

These verses contain a portion of God's commands to the Israelites concerning sexual sin. God makes it clear which things are sinful, and He lets us know how strongly He feels about such sin by using words such as abomination and perversion. Make no mistake about it: Nations who fall into sexual sin--as ours has--will be punished by God.

Question to Ponder: How sexually pure are you?

March 6:
The Lord Keeps His Promises!

So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass. - Joshua 21:43-45

The Lord always keeps His promises to His people. He will never fail to provide for your needs or to keep any of the promises that He has made. We can trust Him wholeheartedly. But do we? If we trusted God as we should, then we would have no need to worry. We should also try to follow His example when we make promises. A promise is not something to be taken lightly; rather, it is something of great significance. Be careful not to make promises that you can't keep, and then when you do make a promise, be sure to keep your word so that others know they can trust and depend on your word.

Question to Ponder: Do you trust God to keep His promises? Is it important to you to keep your own promises?

March 7:
Focusing on God Instead of Worldly Pleasures

"If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken."
- Isaiah 58:13-14

March 8:
Waiting Until the Timing is Right

Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day." But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him. - Mark 9:30-32

Sometimes God keeps things hidden from us until the time is right. Sometimes you may face a difficult situation that you don't understand, but once it is resolved and you look back on everything that happened, you can see how God was working through the entire situation. Sometimes you may have questions, possibly about your future, that seem to go unanswered. But when the time is right, God provides all the answers that you need. In the passage above, Jesus was explaining His impending crucifixion to His disciples, but the time was not yet right for them to fully understand what He was saying. When times are tough, we must remember that God still loves and cares for each one of us, and that His timing is always perfect!

Question to Ponder: Are there times when you need to be more patient with God, waiting for His timing?

March 9:
Various Exhortations, Part 1 of 2

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. - 1 Thessalonians 5:11-14

In the final chapter of his first letter to the people of Thessalonica, Paul closes with a variety of exhortations. We should always do our best to comfort one another and build each other up rather than tearing each other down. We should respect people in positions of authority because of the responsibility that comes with such roles and also because those people have been put in those positions by God. Paul then repeats his command to comfort those who are in need, and he reminds us to be patient with one another, even when we have a hard time understanding the other person's perspective or actions.

Question to Ponder: Which of these commands is hardest for you to follow? How can you ask God to help you with that?

March 10:
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
Than for a man to hear the song of fools.
For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool.
This also is vanity.
Surely oppression destroys a wise man's reason,
And a bribe debases the heart.
The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
Consider the work of God;
For who can make straight what He has made crooked?
In the day of prosperity be joyful,
But in the day of adversity consider:
Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other,
So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.
- Ecclesiastes 7:5-9, 13-14

March 11:
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
I believed, therefore I spoke,
"I am greatly afflicted."
I said in my haste,
"All men are liars."
O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.
- Psalm 116:6-11, 16-17

March 12:
Miscellaneous Moral Laws, Part 1 of 2

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the Lord your God. ... You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord. You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord." - Leviticus 19:1-4, 11-16

Question to Ponder: Which of these commands is the most difficult for you to follow?

March 13:
Joshua's Farewell Address, Part 1 of 3

Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. ... Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God. ... "Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed. ... When you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you." - Joshua 23:6-8, 11, 14, 16

March 14:
Sin Separates Us From God

Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood,
And your fingers with iniquity;
Your lips have spoken lies,
Your tongue has muttered perversity.
No one calls for justice,
Nor does any plead for truth.
They trust in empty words and speak lies;
They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.
The way of peace they have not known,
And there is no justice in their ways;
They have made themselves crooked paths;
Whoever takes that way shall not know peace.
- Isaiah 59:1-4, 8

March 15:
Christians Should Unite

Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us." But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." - Mark 9:38-41

It seems that the disciples were either concerned or upset that someone other than themselves was casting out demons in the name of Jesus. In His response, Jesus reminds them that anyone "who is not against us is on our side." I think this passage has a strong application in today's world. Christians have separated ourselves so much with so many different denominations that I think we sometimes forget we all serve the same God. We need to put these minor differences aside and remember that everyone who proclaims Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord serves the same God!

Question to Ponder: How can you work together better with fellow Christians of a different denomination?

March 16:
Various Exhortations, Part 2 of 2

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. - 1 Thessalonians 5:15-22

Paul's exhortations to the people of Thessalonica continue in these eight short verses. We should not try to do harmful or evil things to one another but to do what is right and good instead. We should always rejoice and give thanks, even when times are tough. After all, as Christians, we have been saved by Jesus and we have eternal life in Him--no hardship in this life can ever take away our eternal joy! Paul also urges us to pray without ceasing, which doesn't mean that we have to kneel in prayer 24 hours a day, but that we need to maintain a spirit of prayer and stay in close communication with God. Finally, he commands us to not quench the Spirit, which we so often do out of a fear of what other people will think, and to stay away from all forms of evil.

Question to Ponder: Which of these commands is hardest for you to follow? How can you ask God to help you with that?

March 17:
Do not be overly wicked,
Nor be foolish:
Why should you die before your time?
It is good that you grasp this,
And also not remove your hand from the other;
For he who fears God will escape them all.
Wisdom strengthens the wise
More than ten rulers of the city.
For there is not a just man on earth who does good
And does not sin.
I applied my heart to know,
To search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things,
To know the wickedness of folly,
Even of foolishness and madness.
And I find more bitter than death
The woman whose heart is snares and nets,
Whose hands are fetters.
He who pleases God shall escape from her,
But the sinner shall be trapped by her.
- Ecclesiastes 7:17-20, 25-26

March 18:
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
"His mercy endures forever."
I called on the Lord in distress;
The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.
- Psalm 118:1, 4-9, 14

March 19:
Miscellaneous Moral Laws, Part 2 of 2

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. ... You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the Lord. Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord. And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt." - Leviticus 19:17-18, 30-36

Question to Ponder: Which of these commands is the most difficult for you to follow?

March 20:
Joshua's Farewell Address, Part 2 of 3

"Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." So the people answered and said: "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God." - Joshua 24:14-18

March 21:
The Effects of Sin

Therefore justice is far from us,
Nor does righteousness overtake us;
We look for light, but there is darkness!
For brightness, but we walk in blackness!
We grope for the wall like the blind,
And we grope as if we had no eyes;
We stumble at noonday as at twilight;
We are as dead men in desolate places.
We all growl like bears,
And moan sadly like doves;
We look for justice, but there is none;
For salvation, but it is far from us.
For our transgressions are multiplied before You,
And our sins testify against us;
For our transgressions are with us,
And as for our iniquities, we know them:
In transgressing and lying against the Lord,
And departing from our God,
Speaking oppression and revolt,
Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
- Isaiah 59:9-13

March 22:
The Loving Spirit of Jesus

Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village. - Luke 9:51-56

Jesus rebuked these men because their perspective and attitude was completely wrong. James and John wanted Jesus to bring a harsh judgment on this village because of their refusal to believe in Him. But, Jesus chose to respond in love instead. We need to follow His example in our own actions. Judging others won't get us very far, but we can do much more through love!

Question to Ponder: How can you love others more like Jesus loves us?

March 23:
Warning Against Idleness

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. - 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

God doesn't want us to become idle or lazy. We see more and more people who are becoming lazy, not wanting to do any real work while relying on the government. God gave us the ability to work, and He expects us to work to provide for ourselves.

Question to Ponder: Are you a hard-worker, or are you frequently lazy, wanting to let someone else do the work?

March 24:
This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me: There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.
Then I said:
"Wisdom is better than strength.
Nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised,
And his words are not heard.
Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard
Rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war;
But one sinner destroys much good."
- Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

March 25:
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord's doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
God is the Lord,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
- Psalm 118:22-29

March 26:
The True Owner

The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me. And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land. - Leviticus 25:23-24

We tend to forget who is the true owner of everything on this earth (and beyond). We buy land and homes; we buy cars and way more material things than we will ever really need, and we act like we earned those things and they belong solely to us. While that may be true in a worldly sense (those things do belong to us and not to someone else), we have to remember that everything ultimately belongs to God. He gives us the ability to earn money by working, and He has given us everything that we have. If you are tempted by greed or materialism, try to remember this fact: Nothing really belongs to you, anyway; it all belongs to God. If you belong to Him, too, then why do you need more stuff? Being greedy and materialistic has absolutely no eternal value.

Question to Ponder: How often do you take time to think about who truly owns all of your possessions?

March 27:
Joshua's Farewell Address, Part 3 of 3

But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good." And the people said to Joshua, "No, but we will serve the Lord!" So Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses!" "Now therefore," he said, "put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel." And the people said to Joshua, "The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!" So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God." - Joshua 24:19-27

March 28:
Our Mighty God!

Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence--
As fire burns brushwood,
As fire causes water to boil--
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!
When You did awesome things for which we did not look,
You came down,
The mountains shook at Your presence.
For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned--
In these ways we continue;
And we need to be saved.
- Isaiah 64:1-5

March 29:
Surrender Your Life

Then He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house." But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." - Luke 9:59-62

Jesus is not being cruel in His response to these people. The reality of it is, He knows that they are stalling and trying to do things their own way, placing Jesus and the Kingdom of God on the back burner. They want to do other things first, waiting to follow Jesus when it is convenient for them to do so. However, if Jesus is important enough to us, we will want to forsake everything else in order to follow Him. That is the kind of devotion and surrender that He is looking for in His people. Does He find that in you?

Question to Ponder: Have you surrendered yourself to Jesus?

March 30:
Admonishing Those Who Disobey

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. - 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15

First, Paul urges the Thessalonian people to not grow weary in doing good. He realizes that there are times when it is hard to do what is right, and that is perhaps more true in today's world than it has ever been before. But we can't become discouraged; we must keep doing what is right and good if we want to impact the world for Jesus. Next, Paul gives advice on how to treat a person who is not doing what is right. We do not need to do anything that would encourage such behavior (as some people, even Christians, do when they get caught up in the excitement of the moment). However, Paul also says that we shouldn't treat the person as an enemy. Instead, we should respond with love, correcting and admonishing that person and trying to lead him or her back onto the right path.

Question to Ponder: Do you ever grow weary in doing what is right? How do you treat others who may go astray?

March 31:
And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright--words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man's all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.
- Ecclesiastes 12:9-14