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Today Daily Devotional

Religion & Spirituality Podcas

Today is a daily devotional that helps God's people refresh, refocus and renew their faith through Bible reading, reflection, and prayer.


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Today is a daily devotional that helps God's people refresh, refocus and renew their faith through Bible reading, reflection, and prayer.







The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. — Romans 8:19 The world Moses grew up in had many stories about the origin of humans and their purpose. One ancient story said that some lesser gods were tired of serving higher gods, so they went on strike. Then one of the lesser gods created humans from clay so that they could serve the higher gods. So humans existed to build and maintain houses for the gods (temples) and to feed the gods through sacrifices. To set things straight, God inspired Moses to explain who really created us and why. The one true God formed humans from dust and gave them life with his own breath (Genesis 2:7); God also created humans in his own image (Genesis 1:26). So we humans are created through love, not out of necessity or conflict, and we carry God’s authority with us into the world. In other words, we are children of the Lord of the universe, given authority to rule over and care for creation (Genesis 2:15). And if we would reflect God’s wise rule and care for creation, the world would flourish and provide abundantly for us. But our first human parents sinned (Genesis 3), so we have not reflected God’s wise rule and stewardly care. As a result, creation has not flourished but has become chaotic and has actually made life difficult and dangerous. Thankfully, Jesus came to show us the way back to God, and God’s Spirit came to teach us how to live for and serve God in the world till Jesus comes again. Lord, forgive us for bringing destruction into this world, and teach us to reflect your wisdom and care. Amen.


Moses and Monsters

“I [Wisdom] was there . . . when [God] gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command.” — Proverbs 8:27-29 Historically Moses, directed by God, is understood to be the writer of the first five books of the Bible. Growing up as part of the royal family in Egypt, Moses (a Hebrew child adopted by the king’s daughter—Exodus 2) would have been taught many myths about the origin of the world. An old Mesopotamian myth, for example, held that Marduk, a warrior god, fought against Tiamat, a monster ruling the chaotic sea. Marduk defeated Tiamat and brought order out of chaos. Now, let’s look at Genesis 1 again. We see powerful waters, but they are not described as a god or a monster; they are simply a part of the world God is creating. God tells the waters where they can go and where they cannot go. (See also Proverbs 8:12-31.) Moses shows that the true God is in control of all things. In myths about creation there is always uncertainty about whether a people’s gods can hold back the forces of chaos. The ancient Egyptians, for example, believed that their sun god Ra had to descend into the underworld every night to defeat the great serpent Apophis, or else the ordered world would be destroyed. But in the Genesis story, God creates and makes peace not through battle but with a word. No other force or would-be god is there; creation has only one true Lord. Lord and God, we praise you that no force in heaven or on earth has power over you, and that you hold all things in your hands. Amen.


The Deep

The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. — Genesis 1:2 Do you notice anything curious in the first verses of the Bible? I have read these verses many times in my life, and just recently I wondered: Where did these waters come from? Well, God must have created these waters at some point, but we are not told that part of the story. We must be reading a poetic narrative that has been in progress for some time before we join with it. The NIV translation of verse 2 says that the “Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The Hebrew word for “Spirit” is ruach, and that word can also be translated as “wind” or “breath.” So some translations say that the “wind of God” hovered (or moved) over the waters. Either way, we can begin to imagine God’s person and power moving over these deep waters. In another passage the Hebrew word rahap for “hover” describes the Lord as a great eagle brooding, hovering over its beloved hatchlings as they leave the nest and learn to fly (Deuteronomy 32:11). So in the first verses of Genesis we see God moving powerfully and lovingly over his yet unformed world of water. Now, here is another question, to which we will return: Do you know of any other stories in the Bible that mention water, wind (or Spirit), and perhaps a bird? Creator God, may your Spirit hover within us, over us, and throughout your world as you bring all that is dark and chaotic into your peaceful light. Amen.


At Home with God

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.” — Revelation 21:3 It was the end of a long trip. We had moved to a new home a few months before, and we had still been settling in when we left. The time away had been good, with some exciting adventures but also with some difficulties. But as we drove back into town, we commented that we felt like we were coming home in a new way. Similarly, we go through periods of change in our walk with God. Sometimes we face changes because we are following God faithfully into new and challenging places. Other times we face changes because in our wandering and sin we have turned away or distanced ourselves from God. Either way, we recognize that we are in unfamiliar territory. But then, by God’s grace, we return—and we discover that home is a gift. The Bible clearly presents our spiritual home with God as something we cannot achieve by our own efforts. Instead, we find ourselves at home when God comes to us. This happened when Christ came into the world to bring us salvation. It happens today through the work of Christ’s Spirit in our hearts. And it will happen again at the end of history when the Lord returns to make his home with us forever. God will bring heaven to us, to wipe away all the signs of our homelessness. May we praise his name and rest in his gift to us each day. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, help us to look forward to the day when all the comforts of your home are ours by grace, and we will live with you forever. Amen.


Making His Home with Us

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. — John 1:14 In the beginning, humanity had a beautiful home created by God for his creatures to flourish in. Adam and Eve were able to meet with God and walk with him “in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8), and they enjoyed perfect companionship with their Creator. But then they fell into sin, turning their backs on God’s way, and they were banished from their home in God’s garden. Ever since then, humanity has been seeking ways to return. For many of us, our natural default is to imagine that we can find our own way back, that we can seek God on our own terms. If we are just good enough, or smart enough, or perhaps just better than the next person, then maybe we can make it home—or so we think. The good-news message of the Bible explains, however, that even though our seeking after God is fruitless, God reaches out in grace and love to us. Though we live in the depths of darkness because of sin and death, the power of God’s light shines into our lives, giving us new hope in the coming of Christ. In Jesus, “the Word . . . made his dwelling among us.” We could not find our way home to God, but, in Jesus, God has made his home with us so that we can be saved and live fully with him. Lord Jesus, thank you for seeking us out when we could not find our way to you. In your mercy, prepare our hearts to receive you as you live among us and guide us by your Spirit. Amen.


The Promised Homecoming

“I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.” — Jeremiah 29:10 Jeremiah sent this message from God to the people of Jerusalem who were exiled in Babylon. The people had sinned against God for many years, so the Lord had sent the king of Babylon to conquer them and take them away. Some were optimistic that their exile would be temporary, but God said the exile would last for seventy years, which for many would be a lifetime. Sometimes a crisis in our lives can seem like a time of exile. When will things go back to normal again? When our health returns, when our relationships are mended, when our temptations have passed, when our injustices are addressed. But what if God lets this go on for a lifetime? I imagine that the recipients of Jeremiah’s letter were not excited by what it said. Seventy years meant that most of them would not be able to go back to enjoy the good things they had before. Yet God called them to live as if they were at home in the place where they were now living. God urged them to trust that he could extend his saving work and build his kingdom through them even in their current situation. As God’s people adapt and seek to live for him in the new situations where they find themselves, they grow to see more of God’s character. His plan is to give us hope and a future—and he does that through the finished work of Christ. Father, help us to live with hope and confidence as we await your coming kingdom. Thank you for your good plans for us in Christ. Amen.


Solid Homes, not Tents

We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. — 2 Corinthians 5:1 Over the years, my family has often gone camping in tents, and we have many fun memories from those trips. We have also collected some stories about how camping in tents is very different from staying in your own home. Experiences with torrential rain and high winds leave us thankful that we can return to our solid, well-built house at the end of our trip. Our Bible reading today notes that our life on earth is like living in a tent compared with the home God has prepared for us in heaven. Though we can enjoy lots of good times on our earthly journey, we also struggle with the realities of sin and weakness. We suffer hurt and disappointment. We give in to temptation, and we hurt the people we love. Our bodies grow old, and our abilities weaken. When we struggle with such things, God’s Spirit reminds us that we are made for something more. We live our lives before the face of God, in the hope of being made new in Christ. Even in our weakest moments we can live with confidence because we are looking forward to a permanent home provided by God. Ask God’s Spirit today to open your eyes to the hope and confidence of the home you are promised in Christ. Father, you made us for your glory, and we are restless until we rest in you. When we groan in our weakness, fill us with the hope of our promised home with you, through Christ. Amen.


A Place for You

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” — John 14:2 “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” These words from the American poet Robert Frost express something of the deep human desire for a place to belong. Whether it’s out of obligation or—even better—because of others’ love for us, we long for a place where we are welcomed, known, cared for, and embraced. Does such a place really exist? In this world, every home we make for ourselves, no matter how sweet it may feel, will always fall short. Sin and death bring an end to our earthly comfort, and even the best places in this life offer only a glimpse or a foretaste of full life with God in his presence. Jesus has promised something remarkable to all who trust in him. Even as he faced his own death for our sin, Jesus offered the hope of eternal life with God to all who will follow him. He promised to lead believers to the Father and to prepare a place for redeemed sinners longing to be at home with God. Our Savior doesn’t merely tantalize us with the offer of a perfect home; he assures us that his word is true. Believe his promise and trust in his grace to prepare you for the place where your Father will certainly take you in. Lord Jesus, help us to trust in you. We believe in God; may we also believe in you and in the power of your finished work for us. Prepare our hearts for our home with the Father and with you. Amen.


Brought Back by God’s Mercy

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he . . . gathered from . . . east and west, from north and south. — Psalm 107:2-3 There are many ways to leave home or to be away from home, and we can do that for lots of reasons. Sometimes we may travel by choice, and other times we may have little or no choice at all in the matter. But there is only one way to return or to find a new home— and that is by the mercy of God. Psalm 107 recalls some of the stories of God’s people whom he rescued and brought back again. Though we may lose direction in different ways— perhaps our lives seem like a trackless wilderness (v. 4), or like a literal or figurative prison sentence (v. 10)—the story of redemption is the same: God’s people cry out for help (vv. 6, 13), and God honors the cries of those who turn to him for salvation (vv. 6-7, 13-14). The story is repeated throughout this psalm: God has brought us back, and we are thankful for his deliverance (vv. 8-9, 15-16, 21, 31). Today, we who know about Christ’s finished work for us have all the more reason to celebrate God’s mighty acts for his people. No matter how we may have wandered away in our spiritual lives, we know that God has redeemed us completely through his Son, Jesus Christ. Let our story be added today to those whom God has redeemed. Father, thank you for your unfailing love and your amazing rescue. We cry out to you, Lord, and, finding our salvation in Jesus, give you thanks in his name. Amen.


Unexpected Support

Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site. — Ezra 6:7 For several years, the rebuilding of the temple stalled while the Jewish people faced opposition from their neighbors. These opponents threatened God’s people and called on the king of Persia (who controlled the area) to stop this work. But then something unexpected happened: instead of stopping the work, the king confirmed that a decree had been issued to rebuild the temple, and he told the enemies of the Jews to back off—and even to support the work instead! Sometimes God provides support from unexpected sources to keep his work going in this world. In our personal and spiritual lives, we may find unexpected support at times too. Teachers and coaches may show us grace even if we have let them down. Employers may support us generously through a family crisis. A spouse may show deep and forgiving commitment to their partner who has been unfaithful. Through actions like these we gain glimpses of the mercy and care of God. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The gracious love of the holy God is an unexpected gift. But God not only welcomes us back to himself for Jesus’ sake; his Spirit also works through people and systems— even kings and governments— to remind us how to live and to do what is right. What a cause for joy! Spirit of God, thank you for the work you do through others to build us up and draw us closer to being at home with you. Help us to share your grace too. Amen.



The peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. — Ezra 4:4 The “enemies of Judah and Benjamin” had a long and complex history of opposition to God’s people (see 2 Kings 17). Despite what may have seemed to be friendly overtures, it was clear to the Jewish leaders that their enemies’ intention was not really to foster a good relationship with the exiles who had come back to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. Instead, the enemies made every effort to frustrate the plans of rebuilding the temple and restoring community life. The church has long taught that the world, the devil, and even our own flesh will fight against us. Even good, God-honoring decisions may not be affirmed and welcomed by the people around us. So we need to resist discouragement, temptation, and fear, and we need to focus on growing our relationship with God. The Bible reminds us that we have a Savior who “endured . . . opposition from sinners” and that we should focus “our eyes on Jesus” so that we will “not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). The world may not welcome our return to Christ and our attempts to build up God’s kingdom, but our Lord and Savior will always welcome us home and strengthen us to keep working. When people around us despise and forsake us, Lord, help us to come to you in prayer. May we remember “what a friend we have in Jesus.” Guide us and help us to serve you faithfully for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


Bittersweet Homecoming

No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. — Ezra 3:13 When the exiles returned to Jerusalem, one of their first tasks was to rebuild the temple so that the worship of God could be restored. The text emphasizes the community’s excitement about this project, and their gratitude to God for bringing them home again. The people gave sacrificially for the work. But we are also told that many of the older people wept. They had seen the glory of the former temple and did not think that this new one would be as glorious (see Haggai 2:2-9). Joy and regret sometimes go together. When we look back in life and see that we should have acted differently or made different decisions, we can see with sadness the effects of our sins on the people around us. And sometimes we only understand the full weight of our wrongdoing after God restores us and welcomes us back to himself. The tears of the older exiles did not signal a disappointment with God. Those tears reflected an awareness of how much the nation’s sins had cost. The old temple had been ruined because the people had rebelled against God. Yet the people recalled another key truth: “[The Lord] is good; his love . . . endures forever” (v. 11). In Christ, every sin is removed and every tear is wiped away so that what remains is only the joy of salvation. Lord God, give us godly sorrow for the effects of sin in and around us. But also give us joy, we pray, in the glory of your gift to us in Jesus. Amen.


Knowing Where You Belong

These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles . . . (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to their own town . . . ). — Ezra 2:1 In between the verses of our Bible reading today there is a long list of names. Genealogies and other lists like this do not usually make for interesting reading. After all, we know very little about most of the people listed there. Their actions, hopes, and dreams—all of that is lost to history, and we have only their names. But the Bible includes this list because it would help later generations see how they were connected to the exiles and had a place among God’s people in history. Similarly today, many people have found it meaningful to trace their family tree and learn things about their ancestry that they had never known before. It can help people learn about their identity and even some of the places their ancestors come from. One of the great pictures of salvation in the Bible is that we now belong to the family of God. If you put your faith in Christ, you are adopted as a child of God (see Romans 8:14-17; Ephesians 2:19-22). This is good news for everyone! It can also give comfort to anyone who may feel that their past actions have burned bridges with the people around them, or whose families reject their faith in Christ. In Jesus, God has given us a place to belong and a people to belong to. Heavenly Father, the whole family of Christ finds its identity in you. Thank you for the assurance that you love and care for each one of us, and that we belong to you. Amen.


Let’s Go Back!

“Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah.” — Ezra 1:3 For many of us today, “home” may not be where we live but where we have roots or a family history. Perhaps it’s where you grew up, or maybe it’s the country your family emigrated from. Having been formed by that “home,” it can be exciting to have an opportunity to go back. The Jews had spent several generations in exile, far away from their ancestral home. While some had grown accustomed to their new place, memories and stories of Jerusalem continued to tug at the hearts of others. So when an opportunity came through a decree of the ruling king, they responded with enthusiasm and said to one another, “Let’s go back!” Similar things can happen at times in our spiritual lives. If we are living far away from God, we can grow comfortable with a secular lifestyle. We can get used to doing as we see fit, and we can make poor decisions that lead us into danger or even ruin. But God’s Spirit continues to nudge our hearts, reminding us that we are made for worship and relationship with the one true God. In Jesus, God has issued the decree that allows wandering and wayward souls to return to fellowship with him. He moves our hearts and provides the circumstances (vv. 5-6) to return to him. If you have become distant from God, why not turn back and be restored to him today? Holy Spirit, thank you for tugging at our hearts and urging us to return to you. Help us to turn back and be restored in Christ today. Amen.


God Provides a Home

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. — Ruth 4:13 Ruth had returned with Naomi to make a new home in Bethlehem. At least Naomi had memories of familiar people and places there. But Ruth had no connections to Bethlehem at all. As a foreigner, she was doubly vulnerable in this place that was new to her. But God provided in remarkable ways. First, “as it turned out” (Ruth 2:3), she found herself gleaning grain in the field of a kind-hearted relative named Boaz. Second, Boaz takes an interest in Ruth’s longterm well-being by making her his wife. These may seem like coincidences, but God specializes in gracious coincidence. Sometimes our own journeys—to familiar places or to new ones—seem to present unlikely prospects. Maybe you can’t imagine going back to a church because you were too deeply hurt by its members in the past. Or maybe you feel that your sins are too weighty to be forgiven. But please know that God forgives all of our sins through Jesus Christ. God has a way of providing for people who may not seem to belong. The genealogy at the end of Ruth 4 shows that Ruth became an ancestor of Israel’s great king David—and therefore also of the Savior, Jesus (Matthew 1). God can bring you into Jesus’ family too. Trust him today to give you the home you need. Heavenly Father, you surprise us with your gracious acceptance and provision. Thank you for welcoming us into your family through Christ, and help us to rejoice in your protection and redemption. Amen.


From Bitterness to Hope

Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. — Ruth 1:22 It is not always easy for people to return to their hometown. Old memories, past mistakes, and expectations can make things complicated. Naomi returned from Moab full of disappointment and bitterness. For her, moving to Moab had brought death, loss, and heartache. And she reacted as many of us do: she blamed God for her troubles. Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s loving hand when we are faced with hardship. As Naomi returned, however, she was not alone. Ruth, one of her daughters-in-law, had chosen to join her, saying, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth, an outsider, went to find a new home in Bethlehem—a place among people whose God she had known only from a distance (see v. 15). As we see later in this story, God can redeem our emptiness just as he can accept our first steps toward him in faith. Though Naomi’s outlook is bleak at this point, God’s Word offers a glimpse of hope: the harvest is coming. God will make Bethlehem a place of blessing. And the wonders God works there will bless Naomi and Ruth—and eventually the whole world. Many years later, a descendant of their family would become the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1). God promises to bring blessing to all who find their home in Jesus. Shall we take that step toward him today? Lord, help us to see beyond our bitter struggles to the promises we have in you. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.


The Beginning of the Road Back

She left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah. — Ruth 1:7 What happens when you realize you’re far from home? Naomi had been away from Bethlehem in the land of Judah for a long time. She and her husband had moved to Moab because of a famine, and their sons had grown up there and married. Naomi also experienced deep grief when her husband and then later her sons died. Being a widow in those days was very difficult because a household depended on men to provide food, shelter, and support. So when Naomi heard that God had provided food in Bethlehem, she was motivated to go back there. It can be interesting to see how God works in our lives. Wherever we go, God watches over us. And sometimes, in dire situations, we may be drawn to seek him in renewed ways. In this story, as we learn later, God was drawing Naomi back to Judah because he had a special plan for her family. But Naomi didn’t know that at the time. Perhaps you’re dealing with some kind of adversity. Maybe it’s the death of a loved one, or the unexpected loss of a job. Maybe it’s some kind of trouble you brought on yourself. Whatever the case, difficult situations can lead us to focus on the goodness of God and how he provides us a spiritual home for us. Wherever we are, may God help us see that our true home can only be found in him, through the gift of Christ, his Son. Father, wherever we are, help us to hear of your grace and to know that our home is with you. In Jesus, Amen.


He Came to His Senses

“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” — Luke 15:18 As a pastor, I often talk with parents who are disappointed that their son or daughter no longer thinks Christ is important. I always try to assure them that it is never too late for someone to return to God and his people. Jesus tells a story about a son who ran away from home. Rather than work with his father on the family estate, the son demanded his inheritance and then wasted it on wild living. It probably seemed like an attractive idea at the time, but like many of our sinful decisions, it led to personal disaster. When his money was all gone, the young man wound up working with pigs—“unclean” animals that were detestable to Jews. And as he “came to his senses,” he asked himself, in effect, “How did I get here?” We might find ourselves asking the same question, having drifted far away from our Father. Repentance is the first step we take to return. And while we do not have the power to restore our relationship with God on our own, our Father promises to receive us back when we come with a repentant heart. If you find yourself far from the Father, he invites you to come back to him today. Repent and return, and God will welcome you home. Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace and mercy in Christ. Keep us from wandering from your care. Give us the courage to return to you, knowing that you will run to welcome us home. Amen.


Lost Birds

Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home. — Proverbs 27:8 For several years, birds have built nests on or near our home. One year we watched robins hatch on the ledge outside our kitchen window. The mother robin could see us through the glass, and at first she was wary of every move we made. But she grew used to our presence, and we could watch how she tended her young. The nest, for them, was a safe place, warm and protected from predators until the chicks were ready to fly. In a similar way, we need churches and families to serve as spiritual homes, protecting us and providing for our needs so that we can be prepared to face the world God has given us to live and work in. Unfortunately, we sometimes try to go our own way before we are ready. We make foolish choices in friendships, and we may get into trouble with the law. We rush intimacy and find ourselves in a romantic relationship before we are ready. We imagine that we are spiritually mature, not needing Christian community, but then we find (too late) that we are unprepared for moral challenges that the world can throw at us. Home is a place to cultivate the habits that bring us close to God: Scripture reading, prayer, mutual accountability, and confession of sin. We all need the protection and provision of Christ. Let’s not take for granted the gift of a spiritual home. Savior God, you long to gather your children as a hen gathers her young under her wings (Luke 13:34). Guide us to value your care and the gift of a spiritual home. Amen.


Just Plain Tired

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. — 1 Kings 19:3 What makes us run away? By all accounts, Elijah had just finished a successful revival. The false prophets of Baal had been routed, and the people of Israel had proclaimed their allegiance to the true God. God had answered Elijah’s prayers for an end to a crippling drought (1 Kings 18). But instead of resting confidently in the Lord, who had brought about all these good things, Elijah ran away. Why? Sometimes we are just too worn out to stay where we are. Even our moments of success can be clouded by opposition and fear, and it can seem easier to run away. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the uncertainties of life, or you feel unable to cope for another day with a difficult relationship. Or maybe you’re just plain tired and you think that being elsewhere—physically or spiritually—will fix things. But when we run from our challenges, we often miss the lessons God wants us to learn—about ourselves and his care. Thankfully for us, God is willing to meet us when we run away. He came to Elijah with a gracious question: “What are you doing here?” And God responded to Elijah’s hurt and fear with a promise of his presence and ongoing work. By coming to us in Christ, God has done even more. When you’re worn out and tempted to run away, let the presence of Christ lead you back home to rest in him. “Precious Lord, take my hand . . . I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. . . . Guide my feet, hold my hand, lead me home.” In Christ, Amen.