Devotion: Mark 9:24

This father brought his afflicted son, who had suffered from childhood, to see if Jesus would heal him. He first ran into Jesus’ disciples and asked them for help, but they could not. By the time he finally gained Jesus’ attention, there had to be a growing doubt in his mind as to whether his son could ever be healed.

And the instant he comes into the presence of Jesus, his son wallows on the ground, foaming at the mouth. He timidly puts his request to Jesus, “If thou canst do anything… help us.” Only to have Jesus throw the ball back in his court, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible.”

How this father must have struggled to find the right words, the right response. Finally, through his tears, he gives this confession:

First, he calls Jesus his Lord. He knows Jesus has authority that is not of this world and humbles himself before him. Then he cries out, “I believe!” This is not an arrogant presumption that he has the faith Jesus requires, but a sincere statement of why he came to Jesus in the first place.

Finally, he admits his fear and doubt, and runs to the right place for help: “Help thou mine unbelief.” Without realizing it, this father displayed exactly what great faith looks like!

Genuine faith does not trust in one’s own ability to believe, to work, or to obey. True faith looks to Christ to fulfill all our gaping inadequacies.

Do you feel yourself doubting? Falling? Giving in? Don’t try to hide your struggles or difficulties from Jesus; take them to him, confess them to him, and let his grace supply your every need.

Devotion: Psalm 17:15

God, who is holy and wholly good, cannot countenance even the presence of evil (Habakkuk 1:13). Yet, when believers die they go straight into the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). How can this be?

David by faith says, I will behold thy face in righteousness. Somehow this sinner will — between the moment of death and the moment of waking in your presence — be made perfectly and completely righteous. My record will be cleaned, my heart will be chaste, my mind will be pure.

And what does perfection look like? It looks like Jesus Christ. It is the righteousness of Christ which will allow me to stand before the holy face of God. That is why God predestinated his people to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29).

Heaven is, as earth should be, Christ-centered. It is for this reason that David also declares, I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness. The great satisfaction, the great reward, of heaven is experiencing the presence of Christ and being made like to Christ. Heaven is, ultimately, not about being reunited with deceased love ones, or being healed from all sickness — heaven is all about Jesus.

That is why, in Revelation, the throne of the Lamb is the center of attention; that is why the psalmist writes, “Whom have I in heaven but thee?” (Psalm 73:25). And that is why John was told to write “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13); only those in Christ are blessed in death.

But those who are in Christ awake in his likeness and in his presence… and therefore to complete and lasting satisfaction.

Devotion: Psalm 113:3

No matter where you come from, where you live, or where your life may take you, your purpose is the same — to praise the Lord in all you do, say, and think. From the place of the sunrise, to the horizon where it sets, God is worthy of adoration.

And he deserves our honor no matter the time of day or night. When we are commuting to work in the morning, changing diapers during the day, or doing homework at night we are to do all to the glory of our Savior. May never a day pass that we have not done something to consciously advance the fame of Jesus Christ.

But his name is also to be praised at every stage of life. If you are young and energetic, in the “morning” of your life, God is due your obedience and worship. If you are nearing the sunset of your life, then you have an increasingly powerful witness, as God more and more shows his strength in your weakness.

There is no place, no time, no stage in life in which our great concern should not be to bring glory to our Maker and Savior. Will you praise him right now, right here, in this time of your life and in the place that God has uniquely positioned you for his glory?

Devotion: 1Peter 2:9

Salvation is of the Lord. That is the point of Peter’s reminder: you are a chosen generation. As Jesus himself affirmed, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16).

And what a salvation you have been chosen to! You are now a royal priesthood, a sacred and set apart nation, a distinctive people. The saints in heaven sing praises to the Lamb because he has “made us unto our God kings and priests” (Revelation 5:10).

But this wonderful gift of salvation is not, ultimately, man-centered. It is not primarily about us at all. Salvation was planned before creation, executed at the cross, and delivered to you by the Holy Spirit that ye should show forth the praises of the God who saved you.

God saved you for your good and for his glory. He brought you out of sin, and drew you to himself, and delivered you from hell so that his power and grace and justice and purity would be displayed in your salvation and in your life.

This, then, is the great work of evangelism. Not some artificial salesmanship, but an authentic display of the joy that you have found in Jesus, that others might see and know him through you.

Devotion: Job 23:10

Are you feeling the weight of some crushing burden or heartache? Job’s words speak immeasurable comfort in the midst of any trial.

First, remember he knows the way that I take. God is not unaware of your difficulty, nor is he insensitive to the pain you are feeling. He knows. He is intimately acquainted with your situation and your condition.

And if the all-wise, all-powerful, loving God is allowing one of his people to pass through affliction, you can rest assured that there is a purpose behind it. You may not as yet see it; you may not now even agree with it. But rest assured that when he has tried you, you will come out of the trial as refined, purified gold.

He hath tried me. The source of the fire may be cruel or malicious intentions on the part of others, but ultimately God is the one who is controlling the temperature and allowing you to pass through it. In Job’s case, the Bible reveals that the devil himself was the author of his sufferings; and yet Job correctly affirmed that the trial was coming through the hand of the Lord (2:10).

Believer, rest in this wonderful assurance, that God is at once next to you in your trial and on his throne in heaven. He knows the way you are taking, and is ruling over every detail of your difficulty until you are sanctified to his glory.

Devotion: Philippians 2:5-9

Let this mind be in you. The Christian life is not merely intellectual assent to a list of orthodox tenets. It is internalizing the teaching and example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And as we look at Christ through the infallible lens of God’s Word the Bible, we are reminded that his way is up-side-down (or rather right-side-up) from the way of this world. Jesus did not work his way to the top; he started at the top, as God himself, and yet chose to humble himself for the sake of his people.

Here was a self-made man: Jesus, who is due all glory and honor, made himself of no reputation. Jesus, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, took on himself the role of a servant. How sad and ironic that most of us spend all our energy in life striving to do the exact opposite.

This is doubtless why Jesus, from the outset, told those who admired him that they would have to deny themselves in order to become his disciple. Yet so many Christians want to claim discipleship, but without the sacrifice, without the self-denial, without the humility.

Beloved, let this mind be in you — may you internalize the reality of who Christ is, of how he lived, and of what he demands of us.

Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 5:22

When it comes to sin, we often set ourselves up for defeat. We try to see how close we can get to moral failure, or heady success, or romantic involvement without doing anything wrong.

Paul, however, tells us that is wrong. Our goal should be, not merely to keep from committing big, public sins but to abstain from anything that might lead to sin for us, or look like sin to others. We are to foster a pure heart and an irreproachable Christian witness.

While this command does not give the legalist the right to add to God’s law or raise God’s standard of holiness, it should give the sincere Christian a timely warning about the dangers of sin. It is not to be played with, tested out, or carelessly ignored. It is to be avoided at all costs.

Don’t be satisfied with merely escaping the culmination of any sin; abstain from sin’s beginnings, from its first flickering flame.

And avoid all appearance of evil. We are quick to judge the besetting sins of others, and equally quick to defend our own. Yet no sin is acceptable to God and so no sin should be downplayed by us. Every sin — whether public and noticeable or private and indiscernible — must be conscientiously avoided or battled.

What about you? Are you flirting with sin, or are you shunning its very appearance? Is your heart and mind consecrated to the Lord, and is your life above reproach to the glory of God?

Devotion: 2 Corinthians 12:9

Someone has said, “God always answers our prayers, either by giving us what we ask for or by giving us something even better.” In Paul’s case, God gave him something even better.

Paul was afflicted with what he described as “a thorn in the flesh” — it was something that caused him constant pain. It was such a deep-felt difficulty that he took it fervently to God in prayer, three times pleading to have his suffering taken away.

The verse above is God’s answer to Paul.

But how was this an answer to prayer? God didn’t remove Paul’s painful burden. In fact, God told Paul that he wouldn’t remove it at all. But God’s answer to Paul’s prayer was even better: my grace is sufficient for thee.

Notice God didn’t say, “My grace is sufficient for this difficulty;” God said “My grace is sufficient for you, Paul.” Paul asked for deliverance from one ordeal, but God guaranteed him grace for every trial, throughout his life.

And, although Paul would still experience much suffering, God reminded him that this simply gave him an even greater opportunity to exalt the name of Christ. My strength, God declared, is even more evident when you are helpless. Therefore, this struggle is an opportunity for you to fulfill your purpose as a Christian, more than you ever could in a pain-free life.

Beloved, rest assured that God’s grace is still sufficient, and that his power is still being manifested through the difficulties you face in your life. What a marvelous answer to prayer this is!

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old and New Testaments- Olive 🌳 Tree

The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Old and New Testaments – popular in style and scholarly in content – will deepen your understanding of God’s written Word, discussing the Bible verse by verse and often phrase by phrase.
This commentary will help any student of the Bible answer the following questions about the Scriptures:
• What does that verse mean?
• How should I interpret this passage?
• What is the significance of this word or phrase in Greek or Hebrew?
• How do Bible-time customs help me understand the meaning of this passage?
• How can this alleged contradiction be explained?
• How does the information on the author, historical background, and features of a Bible book help interpret that book?
The Bible Knowledge Commentary will be welcomed by a wide spectrum of Bible students, from the beginner, who will find it easy to understand and easy to use, to the advanced, who will find it consistently thorough and reliable. The readable style, combined with careful scholarship, make this a Bible study aid its users will add to their “most-used” shelf of books.
Note: This version of the Bible Knowledge Commentary does not contains the maps, charts, or images of the print version at this time.

No Prophet is Accepted in His Hometown: Olive 🌳 Tree

The idea of going home holds many emotions. It could be exciting, nerve-wracking, relieving, and terrifying – all rolled into one. If you moved back in with your parents after college or visited old friends from school or work, maybe you’ve felt apprehension along with your anticipation.

In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth and has a less-than-welcoming reception. If you’re wondering why Jesus’ own town rejected him, you’re in the right place!

We will be using the Bible Knowledge Commentary for background information.


In the beginning of this story, Jesus arrives at Nazareth, his childhood home town. Because he was a popular teacher, he taught at the synagogue on the Sabbath. He stood up and read Isaiah 61:1-2, which says,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” -Isaiah 61:1-2 as quoted in Luke 4:18-19


This reading was significant because Jesus stopped in the middle of Isaiah 6:2 without reading the next line about God’s vengeance. When Jesus added, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” Jesus implied that he was the Messiah who could bring the long-awaited kingdom of God without the impending judgement yet.


What happens next is interesting – first, they were amazed at his “gracious words,” then they immediately began questioning his authority and honor. How could Joseph’s son – the boy they saw grow up in their town – be the Messiah?

It’s one thing to come home with a college degree or spouse (like I, this article writer did), but Jesus was definitely in a unique position!


“‘Truly I tell you,’” he continued, ‘no prophet is accepted in his hometown.’” -Luke 4:24

Jesus, sensing their opposition, noted two instances in which God’s prophets ministered miraculous acts of grace to Gentiles while Israel was in unbelief – Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16), and Elisha and Naaman the Syrian leper (2 Kings 5:1-19).


The people were furious with Jesus’ mention of Gentiles rather than Jews having God’s blessing. In their anger, they confirmed Christ’s claim of Israel’s unbelief.

“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”

They attempted to kill him but he walked right through the crowd! Luke no doubt described a miraculous escape from an angry crowd. This pattern is seen throughout the rest of Jesus’ ministry: Jesus went to the Jews; they rejected Him; He told of Gentile participation in the kingdom; some Jews wanted to kill Him. But He was not killed until the proper time, when He chose to die (Luke 23:46).

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