Daily Devotion Text

January 26, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 3) Connect: Spiritual Practices

Basic spiritual disciplines have been utilized throughout history to foster our relationship with God

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Matthew 5:17-48

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Context & Commentary

v.20 In Jesus’ time, the scribes and Pharisees were famous for turning God’s laws into a large set of rules, and keeping those rules meticulously. To an average person, if anyone had the “credentials” to enter the kingdom of heaven, it was these folks!

Jesus, however, often called them out for focusing on technicalities while ignoring the spirit of God’s laws. For example, in Matthew 23:23, he says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness…” And here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shows that the heart behind God’s law imposes a far higher standard than human rules governing only outward behavior.  So to enter heaven, one must meet God’s higher standard–in other words, have righteousness that “exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees.”

v.30 Rabbis used hyperbole to make a point. Jesus’ point is not that we should maim ourselves, but that we should be willing to take drastic actions to fight temptations (whatever causes us to sin).

“Jesus guides his disciples into the true intention of God’s law, which focuses on inner righteousness as opposed to mere external righteousness.”

NIV Application, Michael J. Wilkins

Questions

  1. What are ways that people focus on external actions while ignoring what is in the heart? What are the implications of God seeing what is in our hearts?
  2. What are some practical steps I can take to discover what’s in my heart and cultivate inner righteousness?
  3. Pray a prayer of gratitude for God’s grace when we fall short of God’s standards of righteousness.

Prayer

January 25, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 3) Connect: Spiritual Practices

Basic spiritual disciplines have been utilized throughout history to foster our relationship with God

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Matthew 6:9-15

9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

    on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,

12 and forgive us our debts,

    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Questions

  1. How would addressing God as “Our Father” affect the way I approach Him, and the way I see other people?
  2. What would it look like for God’s kingdom to come on earth? Take some time to pray for God’s kingdom to come in different areas of our world.
  3. What are the different needs that Jesus teaches us to bring to God? Take some time to pray for your needs and the needs of others.

Prayer

January 22, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 3) Connect: Spiritual Practices

Basic spiritual disciplines have been utilized throughout history to foster our relationship with God

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Matthew 6:1-8

1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Questions

  1. What does someone gain when they practice their righteousness for others to see? What does that person lose?
  2. Jesus’ antidote to turning spiritual life into a show of praise is to engage in “secret” acts of righteousness (i.e. “go into your room and shut the door and pray”).  How can I cultivate this in my life?

Prayer

January 21, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 3) Connect: Spiritual Practices

Basic spiritual disciplines have been utilized throughout history to foster our relationship with God

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text:

Hebrews 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Psalm 119:11, 105

11 I have stored up your word in my heart,

   that I might not sin against you. […]

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet

and a light to my path…

Questions

  1. How have I experienced God’s Word to be living and active, discerning and judging my thoughts and intentions?
  2. How have I experienced God’s Word as a lamp that guides my life and helps me avoid sin?

Take time to memorize some of these verses.

Prayer

January 20, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 3) Connect: Spiritual Practices

Basic spiritual disciplines have been utilized throughout history to foster our relationship with God

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Mark 4:1-20

1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.      4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

“‘they may indeed see but not perceive,

    and may indeed hear but not understand,

lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

Questions

  1. How is the Word of God like a seed? What unlocks the power of the Word?
  2. What would it look like to be the path, rocky soil, thorny soil and good soil?
  3. What can I do to become more like the good soil?

Prayer

January 19, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 3) Connect: Spiritual Practices

Basic spiritual disciplines have been utilized throughout history to foster our relationship with God

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man

    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

  nor stands in the way of sinners,

    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree

    planted by streams of water

  that yields its fruit in its season,

    and its leaf does not wither.

  In all that he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so,

    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked will perish.

Context & Commentary

Depending on context Blessed can mean under God’s blessing, happy or fulfilled, or intrinsically right. All three meanings suit here.

Motyer, J. A. (1994). The Psalms. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 489). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

Chaff is “husk and other materials separated from the kernel of grain during the threshing or winnowing process. It blew away in the wind (Hos. 13:3) or was burned up as worthless (Isa. 5:24; Luke 3:17).”

Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Chaff. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 276). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Questions

  1. What can we learn from the fact that the description of the blessed person begins with three things that he does not do?
  2. Contrast the characteristics of a tree vs. chaff. How might these qualities be displayed in people’s lives?
  3. How can I grow in my “delight” in God’s word?

Prayer

January 18, 2021

Cultivate DT

INTRODUCTION

Part 3) Connect: Spiritual Practices

Basic spiritual disciplines have been utilized throughout history to foster our relationship with God

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: John 15:1-11

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Questions

  1. How is a vine and its branches an apt metaphor for my relationship with God?
  2. What steps can I take to abide more in Christ?

Please take some time to commit some of the verses from this chapter to memory. 

Prayer

January 15, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 11

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Psalm 103

Of David.

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and all that is within me,

    bless his holy name!

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits,

3 who forgives all your iniquity,

    who heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit,

    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

5 who satisfies you with good

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness

    and justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,

    his acts to the people of Israel.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,

    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 He will not always chide,

    nor will he keep his anger forever.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,

    nor repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who

fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,

    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children,

so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

14 For he knows our frame;

    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;

    he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,

    and its place knows it no more.

17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from

    everlasting 

    to everlasting on those who fear him,

    and his righteousness to children’s children,

18 to those who keep his covenant

    and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the

    heavens,

    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,

    you mighty ones who do his word,

    obeying the voice of his word!

21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,

    his ministers, who do his will!

22 Bless the Lord, all his works,

    in all places of his dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Questions

  1. Consider the different reasons we find in this psalm for praising God.
  2. Write my own version of this psalm praising God.

Prayer

 

January 14, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 10

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.

    He leads me beside still waters.

3 He restores my soul.

    He leads me in paths of righteousness

    for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

    I will fear no evil,

  for you are with me;

    your rod and your staff,

    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me

    in the presence of my enemies;

  you anoint my head with oil;

    my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

    all the days of my life,

  and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

    forever.

Context & Commentary

At its heart Psalm 23 is an expression of confidence in the protective care of [God], upon whom the psalmist expresses absolute dependence.

Wilson, Gerald H. NIV Application Commentary: Psalm – Volume 1.

v.4 In the Middle East the shepherd carries only a rod and staff… the shepherd boy spends hours practicing with this club, learning how to throw it with amazing speed and accuracy… The rod was what he relied on to safeguard both himself and his flock in danger. And it was, furthermore, the instrument he used to discipline and correct any wayward sheep that insisted on wandering away.

Keller, Philip. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

v.5 The anointed head speaks of the Lord’s welcome; the overflowing cup his lavish provision. But this goodness and love will continue as long as life lasts.

Carson, DA. New Bible Commentary

Questions

  1. Take some time to reflect on how God has been a Good Shepherd in my life.

Please take some time to commit some of the verses from this chapter to memory.

Prayer

 

January 13, 2021

Cultivate DT | Day 9

INTRODUCTION

Part 2) Behold: Knowing God | Knowing God leads to rightly relating with Him

Journal

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation, or event.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.

 Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:

Bible Text: Psalm 8

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

    You have set your glory above the heavens.

2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

    you have established strength because of your foes,

    to still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,

    and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

    and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

    you have put all things under his feet,

7 all sheep and oxen,

    and also the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

 

Context & Commentary

v.4 The universe reveals God’s glory. Aren’t humans just specks of dust in this vastness? Physically, yes; yet we fill the mind of God (verse 4). The astonishment of the psalmist should be ours: Why should God care about us?

Timothy Keller, with Kelly Keller. “Philippians 2:5-11” in The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms, 12. New York, Viking, 2016.

Questions

  1. Consider the grandeur of the universe and reflect on the majesty of God who created everything.
  2. Reflecting on vv.3-4, what is the relationship between humility and gratitude?
  3. How has God “crowned [me] with glory and honor”? Take some time to give thanks to God.

Please take some time to commit some of the verses from this chapter to memory.

Prayer

 

Scroll to top