It’s a hard life! Hard for the rich to be saved! Ed. M’s devotional lists three errors of those with “full wallets and empty hearts.” Then he says,

The elite are prone to oppress the poor, Amos 2:6,7. They plot against those who are innocent, who cannot resist their devious schemes, James 5:6. Wealth has always been a cruel master (though few of the wealthy recognize the danger). Everyone should pray for deliverance from the sin of greed. The consequences of self-indulgence are certain. Therefore, take note. Beware! The day of judgment is coming.

Focus question: How well or poorly do you use money? Are you rich toward God? Are you selfish with your possessions?

A beautiful thought today in Ed M.’s devotional, from 1 Samuel 23.16, along with this prayer.

Lord God, everyone has moments of despair. When life closes in on me, send a friend. When life closes in on someone else, send me. In Jesus, the greatest friend of all, Amen.

Focus question: When despair approaches, do you tend to shut yourself off from others, or ask God to send a friend? Are you a friend to those in despair?

Ed M. encourages us today in his devotional.

Everyone is influenced by interests, shaped by motives. Church leaders can use their power to push their opinions on others. Church members can use pressure to get their way. “Selfish ambition” is part of the “sinful nature” of human beings, Galatians 5:19,20. Thankfully, in spite of these warts and wrinkles, “Christ is preached.” That does not justify the push and shove of Church politics. It merely gives hope to the faithful in times of discouraging discord.

Focus question: How can you examine your motives, in order to purify them? How to recognize selfish ambition when it appears in your heart?

Ed M. wrote as a part of today’s devotional:

People should bring to Him their daunting perplexities, vexing questions, and impossible situations. He will give them strength to overcome their weakness, II Corinthians 12:9,10. If we would fully trust Him, we could do great things. We could defy all the odds along the way. We could swim the deepest ocean, climb the highest hill, and move the biggest mountain, Matthew 17:20b.

What should you bring to the Lord in faith, for him to solve, accomplish, or multiply? What great thing awaits us to do when we show full trust in him?

So yesterday in my Bible schedule (following Grant Horner’s system), I read James 2. Then today Ed M.’s devotional speaks of treating everyone equally, based on 1 Sam 30.24.

The principle of equality must be maintained. “All will share alike” is a watchword in the kingdom of heaven. Every member of the Church is “baptized by one Spirit into one body,” I Corinthians 12:12,13. Endowed with a diversity of functions, all members contribute to the same purpose.

Focus question: What gift do you have in the body of Christ? What gift do you desire? Why? What does your desire say about your motivations?

Today’s devotional uses the first phrase of Hebrews 12.15. What a great responsibility we have to each other as the family of God!

Christians are compared to a band of pilgrims. While on their journey, they must check for stragglers. Has anyone been left behind? It is easy to wander off the path. In so doing, the believer “turns away from the living God,” Hebrews 3:14-16. He “misses the grace of God,” Hebrews 12:15. Through carelessness, he loses his salvation. Hence, believers are advised to be watchful.

Focus question: How to recognize if someone is beginning to miss the grace of God?

Ed M.’s devotional today focuses on the prophet Ezekiel, especially Ezek 1.3: “The hand of the Lord was upon him.”

The Lord was with the prophet. He promises to be with us. He will make His home in us. “If anyone loves Me,” Jesus affirmed, “he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him,” John 14:23. We have a close connection—an intimate friendship—with the Lord, I John 1:3; Revelation 3:20. Should that not energize us to fulfill His calling.

The verse quoted above is one of my favorites.

Focus question: How do you remain energized in order to fulfill God’s calling?

Ed M. uses Proverbs 21.2 for his devotional text today.

It is really amazing how people are duped into thinking well of themselves. What they ought to know best they actually know least. They assume they are right when they are wrong. They imagine themselves to be doing the will of the Lord while in fact they are injuring His cause. Is this not true of those who crucified the Christ? Luke 23:34a. Is it not true of Saul when he persecuted the Church? I Timothy 1:12,13. Is it not true of people throughout history who pressed their opinions at the expense of others?

Socrates’s word to “know yourself” isn’t as easy as it appears. But God knows our heart. Let him do his work in our inner person.

Focus question: What are my blind spots? How can I identify them?

Ed M.’s verse for today is Exodus 16.15. Short and not so sweet. Israel failed the test. Shall we pass?

The purpose of the manna was to teach dependence on the word of the Lord, Deuteronomy 8:3. In effect, the manna was a test, Exodus 16:4b; Deuteronomy 8:16. The survival of Israel depended on following the instruction of God, Exodus 15:26. The manna was also a gift. It provided Israel with food. It gave them lessons “for generations to come,” Exodus 16:22,23. It showed them who God was.

Oh, how I need to learn to trust God to provide for today!

Focus question: What divine instruction do I complain about? What provision from his hand leaves me discontent?

Today’s devotional focuses on 1 Peter and especial 1 Pet 3.15.

Fear of men. Sometimes men appear to have more power to injure us than God has power to rescue us. The real danger is not what man can do to our bodies. It is what the Lord can do to our souls, Matthew 10:28. God is the ultimate security, John 14:1. We must not let the fear of men become a substitute for trust in the Lord, Psalms 34:9.

Focus question: When do you find yourself in fear of men? How can you cultivate the fear of God in your life?