Prison Ministry, Daily Devotional

WIN’s Daily Devotion

Sunflower close-up

The Character of Gossip

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8

James 3:5-8

Gossip isn’t a popular subject, but it certainly is a popular activity. Many people spend a great deal of time participating in idle talk about someone else, usually with the intention of injuring the individual in some way. Unfortunately, believers are oftentimes just as guilty of gossiping as unbelievers. But our Father wants us to see the practice for what it truly is.

The Bible includes gossip in a couple of odious categories. Paul lists it amidst interrelated sins like deceit, malice, slander, and arrogance (Rom. 1:29-30). Gossip is deceptive and defamatory, and it is accompanied by both cruelty and pride. These are all characteristics of “haters of God,” according to the apostle. In another passage describing ungodly practices, Paul places gossip in the middle. And of course, everyone recognizes the Ten Commandments, whose last decree is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16).

Gossip does not fit who we are as God’s children. Just as you can’t have poison and pure water pouring from the same stream, you cannot have both God-honoring talk and gossip coming from a believer. When evil words pass our lips, they are indicative of what we harbor in our heart. However, God is in the heart-cleaning business. If we falter—allowing gossip and its cohorts, malice and deceit, into our lives—we should pray as David did: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).

WIN’s Daily Devotion

Sunflower close-up

Overflowing with Gratitude

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

Colossians 2:6-8

The meaning of Thanksgiving has changed over the years. The name was given to our national holiday dedicated to thanking God for His protection and provision. More recently, though, it has become synonymous with feasting, football, and family. In most homes, God probably isn’t even mentioned. But for believers, Thanksgiving is not simply a day; it’s a lifestyle. In fact, a godly person should be characterized by gratitude.

The apostle Paul teaches how we can become people who overflow with gratefulness in any circumstance. The first step is to appreciate our relationship with Christ. He chose each believer before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) and wants us to “walk in Him” (Col. 2:6). This means acknowledging Jesus as Lord of our life and relying on Him to empower us to obey.

Next, we are to be firmly rooted in Him. This can happen only when we tap into His Word and draw nourishment from it. Then we’ll be like a tree whose roots reach down so deep that even storms cannot topple it. With this foundation, we can be built up in Christ and increasingly display His character in our attitudes, conduct, and conversation.

Finally, our faith needs to be firmly established. Then we won’t fall prey to worldly philosophies and deceptions.

Do you have a grateful spirit, or do you say “thanks” only when things are going your way? Thankfulness in all situations is possible only when you focus on the truths and promises of God’s Word. As you learn to see life from His perspective and acknowledge His loving lordship, you’ll overflow with appreciation.

WIN’s Daily Devotion

Sunflower close-up

Comebacks after Setbacks

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

1 John 1:5-9

Whether we have recently become believers or have followed Christ for years, the Devil seeks to attack our faith and cause us to relapse into disobedient ways. We are warned to be alert because our Enemy is like a roaring lion seeking to harm us (1 Pet. 5:8).

His intentions are to enslave us to sin. When we succumb to temptation, Satan presses in to trap us so that we will feel estranged from our heavenly Father. Then the Enemy will try to convince us we cannot return to God in our current state. Some of us become so miserable that we buy into the lie and embrace the world’s ways.

Since our Father knows both the Devil’s tactics and our weaknesses, He has planned a way of escape for us. It is called confession. Genuine confession means telling the Lord what we have done and agreeing that it is wrong. Then we express sorrow over it, acknowledge inability to rescue ourselves, and declare the heartfelt desire to turn from our sin and live for Him again. God promises to forgive us and cleanse us so our fellowship with Him is restored (1 John 1:9).

The Enemy is cunning, but Scripture offers a sound strategy for avoiding entrapment: “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is” (Rom. 12:1-2). Notice that victory begins with your thinking. The more you apply this principle, the greater your success will be.

Father, You are the victory!

WIN’s Daily Devotion

Sunflower close-up

Facing Life’s Mountains

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

Zechariah 4:1-14

In the vision God gave to Zechariah, the mountain is an illustration of a barrier or hindrance. We might wonder what the prophet’s strange dreams can teach us today. While the imagery is foreign, the principles are repeated throughout the Bible.

Zerubbabel, leader of Judah, and a group of 50,000 captives had been released by the Babylonians to return to Jerusalem. There, they began to rebuild the temple walls but were attacked by hostile neighbors. As a result, God’s people were discouraged and on the verge of giving up.

In verse six, God reminded Zerubbabel through Zechariah that progress is made “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit.” In other words, when God calls us to a task, He Himself assumes responsibility for removing hindrances. The Lord went on to ask, “What are you, O great mountain?” Nothing but flatland would remain once He worked through Zerubbabel.

God never intended for us to face seemingly insurmountable tasks in our own strength. Instead, we’re to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power within us. We are like the lampstand (v. 2) that was to be kept constantly burning in the temple. In Zechariah’s dream, the olive trees on each side of the lampstand were pouring oil directly into its bowl, with no help from the priests (v. 12). Like those olive trees, the Holy Spirit was God’s promise of continual help to the weary people. We, too, can trust the Lord to pour His Spirit into our lives for help when we’re facing a “mountain” of an obstacle.

Father I thank You for Your strength

WIN’s Daily Devotion

Sunflower close-up

Relying on God’s Power, Not Our Own

 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:10-13

Humanly speaking, the apostle Paul had much to boast about—his qualifications are found in Philippians 3:4-6. However, he understood that impressive “credentials” are not what really matter. Paul rightly saw that knowing Christ and relying on Him are the source of genuine value in life.

Writing from places that were lowly in both a physical and emotional sense, the apostle is a triumphant example of how believers should view themselves—namely, as the Father does. The best way to do that is to recognize God as the source of our power: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (4:13).

Many of us know this verse by heart, but have we accepted its truth? To say “all things” may seem like a bold statement, but it is balanced. The emphasis is not on “I can,” but rather on the fact that I can through Christ—He supplies everything we need to carry out His plan for our life.

This verse is an important confession that we cannot do God’s will in our own power. But that does not mean we should simply sit back and become spectators. As Christians, we have a responsibility to obey the Lord’s leading in small matters as well as in “big” circumstances. What’s more, it is our hands, feet, body, voice, compassion, and desires that the Father will use to accomplish His ultimate goals for our lives.

Obeying by faith can seem frightening, but the comfort zone isn’t where godly people choose to spend their time. To do all things through Christ involves some risks, but you’ll discover that the rewards for obedience are deeply satisfying.

Father, You have it all under control, thank You!

WIN’s Daily Devotion

Sunflower close-up

Religious But Lost

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. John 3:3

Nicodemus would probably be welcome at any church today. He seems like an ideal member—principled, knowledgeable, morally upstanding, courteous, and humble. However, Nicodemus had two big problems despite all of that outward religious appeal: first, he was blind to the truth, and second, he was spiritually dead.

The man was lost. That is, he did not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus adhered to strict Jewish codes and laws, so he was certainly religious. But the problem of the lost person is not attitudes, conduct, or even character. We can change and control those things through sheer determination, and many folks do. What people really need is a change of their basic nature. We come into this world with a natural “bent” away from God.

Jesus explained to the observant rabbi that all his outward goodness couldn’t erase, replace, or change his nature. Instead, every person who desires to serve God must be born again. The Lord promised that if Nicodemus received Him as Savior, then he would enter into a brand-new life. His old sinful nature would be transformed so that he could have a real relationship with God. Instead of appearing to be a religious man, Nicodemus would be a true believer.

No one gets into heaven on the strength of good works and kind behavior. When we stand before God, the only thing that will matter is whether our old sin nature has been replaced. We want to show Him the living Spirit we received when Jesus came into our life.

Scripture Reading: John 3:1-6

Thank You Father for transforming us step by step

WIN’s Daily Devotion

Sunflower close-up

When Worship Is Misplaced

 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21

Romans 1:21-24

God created us to worship Him. Since we are made for this purpose, we will worship something, even if we choose something other than the Creator. Our lives may be devoted to money, prominence, popularity, immorality, or some other desire or vice that can become a false god. But no matter how many earthly distractions we attempt to worship, none of them can satisfy like the living God—we will still be left with a horrible vacuum of unfulfillment.

In the first chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul illustrates this point in terms of one particular sin: sexual perversion. You may think you’re okay if that form of iniquity isn’t part of your life. But any sinful indulgences—whether actions or attitudes—that take precedence over worshipping the Lord are wrong and destructive. Until we allow Jesus to save us from our self-serving nature, we will spiral downward into depravity.

By acting as if the Lord isn’t real and excluding Him from our life, we miss out on the main point of our existence. By ignoring the fact that He wants a personal relationship and daily communion with us, we are rejecting His gracious gift and dishonoring Him. Without His influence, our thinking grows more and more futile, leading us to choose false substitutes as we try to fill the void only God can satisfy.

Denying Christ His rightful place as Lord of our life will ultimately unleash God’s wrath. But the Lord, in His great love for the whole world, does not want anyone to spend eternity without Him
(2 Peter 3:9). He therefore continues to offer us “the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience” in calling us to repentance.

Father, may you always be the center of my life.