READ: PSALMS 63:1-7; MATTHEW 6:19-34; GALATIANS 2:16-21; 2 TIMOTHY 3:10-17
Why are you reading this devotional? I remember being told that if I didn’t do my devotions I would have a bad day. “So, if you want a good day, do your devotions.” I gotta be honest; there were many days I didn’t do my devotions and that day was just fine. There were other days when I did my devotions and the day was terrible.
Should we be taking time to interact with God’s Word every day? Absolutely. But if our motivation is to have a better day, we’re going to be disappointed. I’ve met Christians who do “Christian stuff” because they think that then God will do what they want. This way of thinking is sometimes called the Health and Wealth Gospel or the Prosperity Gospel. Here’s a very simple example of this kind of logic: “Obey God so your knee feels better and you get richer.”
But this is not the true gospel. The word “gospel” means good news, and the idea that we could get God to do what we want when we do religious activities—and that He won’t help us if we don’t do those activities—would not be good news. After all, we could never do enough to earn His favor. The true gospel is all about God rescuing His people even though we don’t deserve it. God came to live among us—stubborn, rebellious people that we are—because He loves us. Jesus died on the cross for us and rose from the grave so that everyone who puts their trust in Him can be in relationship with God. And this relationship is what will truly satisfy us…no amount of health or wealth could ever do that.
When we read or listen to the Bible, we have an opportunity to interact with the God of the universe who loves us more than we could ever understand. The reason God calls us to be in His Word is because He wants us to know Him. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). We can be free to follow Jesus, instead of chasing after health and wealth, because we know that God cares about all our needs and He provides for His people.
Jesus invites us to live a life of purpose with Him, but He doesn’t guarantee health or wealth. When we obey God’s Word, some things may go better for us and we might avoid certain kinds of troubles. But we might also experience trouble because we are obeying God—after all, many people in the Bible were imprisoned or killed for following Jesus. So if we’re trying to do devotions to get stuff, that’s not going to work out. Besides, all the stuff we could gather in this life can only last as long as we do! But trusting in Jesus—and having a new identity as His forgiven people—is better than anything, and our relationship with Him will last forever. • Jeff Weddle
• Why do you think God invites us to spend time with Him through reading or listening to His Word, the Bible?
• God wants us to ask Him for healing and for the material things we need or want. Sometimes His answer is “yes,” sometimes “no,” and sometimes “not yet,” but we can trust that He cares for us and He is always working for our good (Romans 8:28). Consider taking a moment to ask God for whatever you need or want today.
• How is asking God for what we need or want different from trying to appease God so He will reward us with what we need or want? According to Hebrews 4:14-16, why can we “approach the throne of grace with boldness”?
• Because of what Jesus has done, we get to look forward to the day Jesus will return and restore His creation—then everyone who has put their trust in Him will have new bodies that never get sick or injured, and we will have an abundance of everything we could ever desire! But until that day, we will all experience pain and lack. Yet God is with us, inviting us to rely on Him and receive the peace and endurance we need (Philippians 4:7, 12-13). When we experience pain and lack, how could it be comforting to look forward to our eternal future with Jesus?
• God calls us to be part of the good work of His kingdom, and He empowers us to share His love through caring for people He has made, as well as the rest of His creation. So, even as we look forward to Jesus’s return, how might it be encouraging to know that we have purposeful work to do with Him here and now?
Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 (CSB)