Ed talks about being double-minded in today’s devotional, based on 1 Kgs 18.21. Here’s a snippet from it:

The danger of indecision. Religious vacillation is a human tendency, Acts 24:25; 26:28. Many people are “closet” believers. They are full of deferred decisions stored away until valueless. In order to make room for more procrastination, postponed verdicts are placed in the “garage sale” of religious intentions. They are treated as cheap merchandize, as useless clutter to give away.

I know people in this situation. I in the past have been one. Spiritually, this is rebellion and rejection of God’s sovereignty.

Focus question: Is there some area where I vacillate? What deferred decision should be made today?

With Romans 12.17 as the main text today, Ed’s devotional looks at Christians’ behavior before the world. He wrote, “Being aware of public scrutiny is not bowing to public opinion.” Saints live for God’s approval, in order to influence people in the world. They live powerful lives and speak powerful words, for the conversion of many.

Focus question: How does integrity prevent a saint from seeking public approval?

Friends know I’m not a fan of the word leadership. In spite that that, Ed’s full devotional thought for today merits close reading. It hits home.

Moses was a “servant,” Numbers 11:11; Joshua 1:2,7,13,15b; Hebrews 3:5. Every Church leader is a servant. Their job is to copy the Master. The burden of guiding belongs to God. The task of following belongs to man. The Lord commissions the work, II Corinthians 5:18,19. He also provides the competence to lead, II Corinthians 3:5. Still, we can be certain, the task will be challenging. Courage will be needed. Trials will come. Decisions must be made. Discipline will be necessary. And doubt will hover nearby in all situations.

Focus question: How to urge people to follow the Lord and obey the will of God without compulsion, force, or manipulation?

There are many legitimate ways to describe discipleship. In today’s “Plow New Ground” devotional, Ed Mathews provides one you may not have heard before: “… discipleship is doing what we ought before getting what we want”. Indeed!

Focus question: What does Jesus call me to do today in order to be his disciple? How do I consider the very idea of duty?

This devotional today is a must-read for everyone. Go download the devotional PDF and read for Jan. 17.

Means. Christians frequently rely on material things. In doing so, God is pushed to the sidelines. We lean on human innovations. We trust in academic degrees to equip for ministry. We assume buildings are necessary for worship. They may be important but hardly imperative. A few with God overcomes the many that depend on themselves. The hope of the world lies in the Lord, Psalms 31:1-5. Faith in Him is far more powerful than dependence on ourselves, Ephesians 6:10.

This reliance on material things is all too evident, especially in missions.

Focus question: What material things do I consider essential to success? What must I do to be among the few who depend upon God?

Today’s devotional from Ed looks at the three men facing death in the book of Daniel:

We are encouraged to be strong, I Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10. Even Nebuchadnezzar saw the wisdom in trusting the Lord, Daniel 3:28. A lack of faith is disastrous. Until we know for certain that we are in the hands of God, we will have little effect of the hearts of men.

This last sentence above leads us to seek greater faith.

Focus question: How do I draw courage from my faith? How do I develop a faith strong enough to help me face any challenge?

Today, Ed’s devotional is based in Philemon.

Faith in action is powerful. It reveals the riches of living in Jesus. It leads others to see the beauty of Christianity. It draws people to the Lord. The most convincing faith is a demonstrated faith, II Thessalonians 1:11,12. Actions are more persuasive than words.

Focus question: How does your faith show itself at home, at school, in the workplace, in the congregation?

I think the Lord wants to remind me today of his sovereign hand that accomplishes his will. Ed’s words are powerful today, from Ezra 7.

The divine element. This whole episode was guided by “the hand of the Lord,Ezra 7:27,28. Persian policy became favorable because God intervened. He molded history behind the scenes. In ways the pagan monarch did not suspect, he facilitated the purposes of heaven: “teaching all who do not know the will of God,” Ezra 7:25,26.

God’s providence is best seen as we look back over his care in the past, since his work is not always evident in the present. He has revealed his plan, but man cannot always see its outworking.

Focus question: Where have you seen God’s hand molding your history behind the scenes?

The world doesn’t think so, but complaining is a grievous sin. Today’s devotional focused on Israel in the desert, Ex 17.7. And how we do the same thing.

Frequency of complaint. “Is God among us?” has been uttered throughout history. Saints frequently act like life in the Lord is a holiday cruise. To ignore the place of suffering, results in grumbling. Should we marvel if special seasons of blessing are followed by challenging demands for trust?

Focus question: What are my expectations of God? What do I think he should do for me?

God gives courage to the simple and untrained who speak boldly about Jesus. May it be so today!

Urgency of the apostles. In spite of the warning, the apostles continued to speak about the Lord, Acts 4:20; 5:20,21. They talked about Christ because they were irrepressibly compelled to mention Him, I Corinthians 9:16; cf. Jeremiah 20:9.

Ed M.’s devotional today reminds us to not wait for “congenial times” to speak.

Focus question: How will boldness motivate me to speak up today about Jesus’ work of salvation?