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Daily Devotionals - Foundations For Our Future #1 - #9

Day 1  

"Foundations for Our Future"

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Today we begin a daily devotional written just for the parish of Christ the King-Grace. We do so because I believe it is critical for the future health and growth of our congregation, that we be firmly grounded in the Lord Jesus Christ and his word. If this is to be our common foundation it requires of us all that we revisit the central truths of our faith, to ensure that we are "walking in the truth," as the apostle John says in his third letter (v. 4)

Returning to the foundations is a common theme in the Holy Scriptures. The revealed Word of God always calls God's People to this task whenever things have gone wrong, or when they have become afraid, or when they are confused. One of these times overwhelmed David centuries ago, and he cried out to the Lord:

"if the foundation are destroyed what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3).

Today let us read over that short Psalm and note what it tells us. I see four central things.

First, things do go wrong for God's People. Second, God is still in charge. Third, God will judge the righteous and the wicked. Fourth, those who remain faithful to him will "behold his face." (v.7)

Today, like David of old, "take refuge in the Lord." (v. 1) Trust in him and him alone. Pray over Psalm 11 and ask God to speak to your heart.

Day 2  

"The Purpose of a Daily Devotional"

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

A daily devotional is meant to be a help to living a fully Christian life. It is for believers who have truly turned their lives over to the Lord Jesus, and who have begun to follow him faithfully. It is not a substitute for regular, sustained, prayerful reading and meditation upon the Word of God. It is meant to be a help to that more central calling of learning to abide in the word of Jesus. (John 8:31) It most fully serves its purpose when the reader puts down the devotional and turns to the Lord himself in prayer with Holy Scripture open before them. It is mean to lead us to time with the Lord Jesus, that we may hear his voice - not just that of a writer of the devotional.

To live a faithful Christian life is impossible without a firm foundation in the revelation God has given to his people in Holy Scripture. For this to be true we must each develop the good habit of giving time each day to the Lord Jesus. We must come into his presence with thanksgiving, and with a true desire to hear from him. Without a set discipline of time and place alone with the Lord and his word this will never happen.

Today, let us turn to Psalm 119 and meditate prayerfully on versus 105 to 112. Let us each ask The Lord to confirm in our hearts that Scripture, his word alone, is the "lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (v. 105)



Day 3  

"Beginning a Daily Time with the Lord"

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Nobody changes their habits easily. It take a conscious decision and continuous effort, especially in the early days. Today let us think about how to begin a faithful daily time set aside for your relationship with your Lord.

Every person is unique, but the overwhelming testimony of Scripture and experience is this; giving the first time of the day to the Lord in his word is one of the most life sustaining habits that any Christian can ever form. The Lord Jesus wants all his disciples "to know his voice" and that will not happen without time spent with him. Preferably daily.

A second tip that is almost always helpful is this: Have a regular physical place that you go to meet the Lord. It can be a favorite chair or a favorite spot in the house or garden, but make going there part of your desire to meet him. This is an appointment with Jesus, and should begin to excite you as you discover his faithfulness. He wants to meet with you. You want him to speak directly to you.

A third question that you must answer over time is this: how long do I spend with him? The answer in the beginning may be as little as 15 minutes, but it will grow. You will find that time with him makes your whole day better. It helps you remember him all day. You will grow more and more to want to be with him.

Today, read Mark 1:35, and Luke 6:12, then ask the Lord to guide you to the time and place that is right for you.



Day 4  

"Making a Good Beginning and Ending"

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

To start a daily time with the Holy Scriptures and the Lord Jesus is not like making a cup of coffee. Or reading the paper. Or texting my best friend. It is a sacred moment, every single time, and needs to begin with prayer. The prayer should be simple and from your heart, and the simplest is: "Jesus please speak to me today in your word." Do not start to read before you pray. If you did today, stop now and pray, then begin again.

Similarly when you finish, whether you have had a long or short time, or a rich and rewarding time or a seemingly dry one, thank the Lord for what you have read. Speak to him about what you think you have heard. Ask him to guide you through your day.

It is impossible to read the gospels and not recognize how often and continuously Jesus prayed. He models for us the nature of a true relationship with God the Father Almighty. And because the Holy Scriptures have been given to us to lead us into a secure and everlasting covenant with him, we must use the one means by which it can be formed. We must learn to pray.

Today, read Luke 4:16-21, and meditate on the Lord's example of knowing and quoting the Holy Scripture.



Day 5  

"Keeping Track"

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

When times are tough it is easy to forget all that God has done. Repeatedly in the Word of God his people are reminded to go back and remember. One of the best ways to remember is to have a small prayer notebook that you use in your daily time with the Lord. It can be as simple as a spiral bound booklet the size of your Bible, or a binder if you prefer it, but I would suggest you have something you write in daily.

What do you put in there? It is wise to note what you read. But even more important is to make note of what came up in your time with Jesus. Did he seem to be speaking to you? Write that down. Did something stick out to look up later? Write it down. Did someone come into your mind who needs prayer? Write it down. Are you sensing some kind of guidance? Write it down.

A paper prayer notebook (some would call it a journal) is one of the most common helps to developing a regular daily habit of time with the Lord. It will also give you a great way to remember when times are challenging, or confusion creeps in. What God has already said to us usually helps us through what is now coming.

Today, read Isaiah 30:8, and ask God how he wants you to keep track of what he is teaching you.



Day 6  

"Do We Want To?"

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Saturday will normally be a time to review the devotionals of the week. But today we will add one new thing. ‘We do what we want to do, not what we ought to do.’ If we want to change our behavior we do. If we want to learn a new thing, we do. If we want to grow in Christ, we will.

We have covered five basics this week:

            1) Making the Lord our only refuge.

            2) Letting God’s Word guide our lives.

           3) Making a time and place to meet the Lord daily.

           4) Learning to pray with the Scriptures.

           5) Beginning to journal (note take) our daily time with the Lord.

Go back and revisit these five brief dailies, and then ask yourself this question: “Do I want to make this pattern a godly habit in my life?”

Today, read Joshua 24:14-24, and pray for the grace of God to be given to you to say “yes” to that last question.



Foundations for Our Future (7) 
by:Jon Shuler

A Plan of Reading

It is almost impossible to grow strong in faith with a scattershot pattern of turning to the Scripture in a random way. Because of that fact I recommend that every true disciple search for and find the plan that works best for them. In the next few weeks we will follow one that is rooted in nearly two thousand years of Christian History. We will follow the order of the first Gospel in the New Testament, that of Matthew. We will save the infancy narratives till the time of the Christmas Season, and so today we will begin with the public ministry of our Lord Jesus. Once you have prayed for the Lord to guide your time, turn to and read Matthew 3:1-12.

There are at least three things to note in this opening section. First, there was a preliminary ministry of great importance before the beginning of the Lord’s. John the Baptist was the only prophet to be raised up by God in over six hundred years, and he was the last of the old dispensation. He prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus.

Second, the coming of the Lord necessitated repentance on the part of those who would receive him. That remains true.

Third, the coming of the Lord would bring division. Those who would be gathered in and those who would be lost.

Today, pray to hear the call to prepare for the coming of the Lord into your life, and to answer it. Whether for the first time or the umpteenth.



Foundations for Our Future (8)

by:Jon Shuler

Finding Your Rhythm

Before we continue our journey through Matthew’s Gospel, it would be good to reaffirm the basics of our journey. We are coming to the Scriptures to meet with the Lord Jesus. That is why we are making this time to be still in his presence. That is why we pray every day and ask him to open our minds and hearts to his voice. Learning to do this is one of the most critical of the disciplines we want to develop if we are serious about following the Savior. But it takes time and effort for it to become a natural rhythm.

Jesus clearly was raised to be a faithful Jewish man, and that means he was accustomed to daily prayer, time alone with God his father, regular worship on the sabbath, and attendance in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover. It is our desire to imitate his patterns, as he has given them to the Christian family, and that begins with our daily devotional commitment. We want to make this a time we never miss.

Today we see Jesus leaving his hometown to go to the Jordan River where John the Baptist was calling Israel to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. And now he comes.

The day has arrived for the public revealing of the Son of God.

As you meditate on Mt 3:13-17, reflect upon the day he first came to you, and give thanks. In him you too are God’s beloved.



Foundations for Our Future (9)

by:Jon Shuler

To Mark or Not to Mark?

The study of the scriptures is not the sole purpose of using a Daily Devotional, but it almost always leads to a growing hunger to know them more deeply. For that to happen most of us develop some system of marking those passages that the Holy Spirit seems to highlight for us. We have already mentioned having a notebook beside your bible as an aid to this habit, but it still leaves open the question of marking the actual pages. I would recommend it.

The habit of reading and marking the Word of God is a proven way to begin to gain a memory of what you believe the Lord has spoken to your heart. It will imprint his truth in a way very rare if we only read it quickly. The combination of notes written down in your journal, and carefully marked passages in your Bible, is a proven reinforcer of sacred things.

Today in Matthew’s Gospel (4:1-11) we read of the Lord’s temptation immediately after his baptism by John. He will be tempted in three distinct ways, and he will answer each temptation by quoting from the Holy Scriptures. It is almost certainly the case that he had been reading the Book of Deuteronomy soon before this event, and he quotes three passages he surely had marked.

As you ponder the devil’s attack strategy, notice how the Word of God quoted back to him is the Lord’s defense. So it is meant to be for us.