Lasting Rewards

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things.
1 Timothy 4:8

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina held the record of 18 Olympic medals. She won them in the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Olympics. The 48-year-old record was surpassed when Michael Phelps swam for his 19th gold in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay in the 2012 London Games. “[Latynina] kind of got lost in history,” the publisher of the International Gymnast magazine said. When the Soviet Union broke up, “we had forgotten about her.”

Paul, the apostle, reminds us that sometimes hard work is forgotten. Athletes subject their bodies to great discipline as they train to win perishable medals for their effort (1 Cor. 9:25). But it is not just that the medals are perishable. Over time, people’s memory of those achievements dim and fade. If athletes can sacrifice so much to achieve rewards on the earth, rewards that will eventually be forgotten, how much more effort should followers of Christ exert to gain an imperishable crown? (1 Tim. 4:8).

Athletes’ sacrifice and determination are rewarded with medals, trophies, and money. But even greater, our Father in heaven rewards the discipline of His children (Luke 19:17).

God will never forget our service done out of love for Him who first loved us.

I thank You, Lord, for the opportunities to use
the gifts You have given me for Your service today.
Help me to do so in obedience, expecting nothing
more than Your “well done” as reward.
Sacrifice for the kingdom is never without reward.

Costume Or Uniform?

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Romans 13:14

Eunice McGarrahan gave an inspiring talk on Christian discipleship in which she said, “A costume is something you put on and pretend that you are what you are wearing. A uniform, on the other hand, reminds you that you are, in fact, what you wear.”

Her comment sparked memories of my first day in US Army basic training when we were each given a box and ordered to put all our civilian clothes in it. The box was mailed to our home address. Every day after that, the uniform we put on reminded us that we had entered a period of disciplined training designed to change our attitudes and actions.

“Cast off the works of darkness,” the apostle Paul told the followers of Jesus living in Rome, “and . . . put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). He followed this with the command to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (v.14). The goal of this “casting off” and “putting on” was a new identity and transformed living (v.13).

When we choose to follow Christ as our Lord, He begins the process of making us more like Him each day. It is not a matter of pretending to be what we aren’t but of becoming more and more what we are in Christ.

O to be like Thee, O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. —Chisholm
Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hope For Skeptics

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please.
Isaiah 55:11

As a workplace chaplain, I’m privileged to be in conversation with many different people. Some are skeptics of the Christian faith. I’ve discovered three major hurdles that keep them from trusting in Christ for salvation.

The first barrier, surprisingly, isn’t an unwillingness to believe that God exists; instead some doubt that they’re important enough for God’s attention. Second, some believe they are unworthy of His forgiveness. People are often their own harshest judges. The third hurdle? They wonder why God is not communicating with them if He is out there.

Let’s work backward through the hurdles to see what God’s Word says. First, God doesn’t play head games. He promises that if we read His Word, He will make sure it accomplishes His purpose (Isa. 55:11). In other words, if we read it we will discover that God is communicating with us. This is precisely why the Bible speaks so often of His grace and mercy toward all (v.7). His willingness to forgive surpasses our own. Once we learn that we can hear God in the Bible and once we see the emphasis on His mercy, it becomes easier to believe we have His attention when we cry out to Him.

God’s story is amazing. It can give hope for all of us.

There can be times when one’s mind is in doubt,
Times when one asks what the faith is about;
But we can believe Him, we know that He cares—
Our God is real, as the Bible declares. —Fitzhugh
Honest skepticism can be the first step to a strong faith.