The One Year Devo

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September 24

Isaiah 43:14-45:10; Ephesians 3:1-21;Psalm 68:1-18; Proverbs 24:1-2

Half of the uses of the word "redeemer" in the Bible are found in the book of Isaiah, with lots of other variants of this word like redeem and redemption scattered throughout the Bible. Isaiah clearly wants us to see that God is the redeemer of Israel and as seen through the rest of Scripture, he is also our redeemer.

God is shown to redeem his people from the oppression of Babylon (earthly powers) and spiritual apathy and idolatry (spiritual powers). The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines redemption as "the means by which salvation is achieved, namely, by the payment of a ransom." God is pictured again and again as the one who brings this about on behalf of his people.

God redeems his people from Egypt, Babylon and other earthly powers and especially frees his people from the dominion, reign, and power of sin. He frees us from being slaves to sin and releases us to live for him.

The description of the sins of Israel are very stark in Isaiah 43-45. They have stopped talking to God, stopped worshipping him and have replaced God with gods made by their own hands. Despite this behavior, God still is seeking to woo his people back to him. He is a redeemer and thus no matter how far we may drift from him, he still remains the only means of salvation, the only means of life and the only place for true fulfillment in the universe.

Question of the day: Why does God continue to pursue his people even when they resist him?

God my Father, thank you that you are my redeemer. Thank you that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus you have secured salvation for me. Help me to remember the staggering cost of my salvation and respond with gratitude, worship, and service for all that you have accomplished for me. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, September 23, 2021

September 23

Isaiah 41:17-43:13; Ephesians 2:1-22; Psalm 67:1-7; Proverbs 23:29-35

Isaiah takes us into a courtroom where we are witnesses to the case which God presents before his people. God as the prosecuting attorney desires Israel to understand their guilt so they might turn to him and receive the life which he offers. He begins his case in 41:21-24 by showing the futility of the idols for which they had abandoned God and turned to. These gods were unable to accomplish anything, in contrast to God's servant, who is ultimately fulfilled in the person of Jesus.

The servant/Jesus is pictured as the victorious ruler over all other kings. He is the one who brings "good news." He will bring perfect justice to the nations and will treat people with compassion and humility. In contrast to our faithlessness, he will be faithful to his calling and mission. He will bring healing to those who are in need and will bring about what God's creation was always intended to be. Israel was perpetually turning to other gods and in doing so would never receive the blessings and peace they longed for. 

What they never seemed able to grasp is that all we need is in God, and both now and for eternity.  As Christians, Christ is the one who makes life available to us. He is the one who can render the verdict over us of innocence/righteousness rather than guilt/shame.

Question of the day: Where in the New Testament are the statements in Isaiah applied to Jesus?

God my Father, thank you for the life you make available in Christ. Thank you that he has brought your kingdom to earth and thank you that at his return he will bring about its ultimate coming. Until then, help me to live for your glory and live out of the life which you have given me. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, September 22, 2021

September 22

Isaiah 39:1-41:16; Ephesians 1:1-23; Psalm 66:1-20; Proverbs 23:25-28

As with the vast majority of his letters Paul begins Ephesians with a cacophony of praise. No matter what you may be feeling today Ephesians 1:1-23 will provide you with some rocket fuel for praise. As you read over these verses again (or for the first time) I would encourage you to stop and praise God for all the things which he has done for you.

He has: - blessed us with "every spiritual blessing in Christ"

             - chosen us, predestined us

             - adopted us

             - given us grace

             - provided redemption

             - revealed to us the mystery of his will

             - sealed us through the Holy Spirit

Those are just a sampling of the ways which God has already worked in the lives of those who have placed their trust in Jesus. No matter what our performance may have been over the last few days, God's work remains, and he promises to finish the work that he has begun in us. Praise God!

Question of the day: Which of the works of God do you need to make a regular practice of praising God for?

God my Father, thank you for all the ways you have worked in my life. Thank you that all these works reflect your grace and love. Help me to always remember what you have accomplished for me and give you the praise you deserve. Praise to you God. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, September 21, 2021

September 21

Isaiah 37:1-38:22; Galatians 6:1-18; Psalm 65:1-13; Proverbs 23:24

We all have too small a view of God. Our finite minds, our sin, and God's infinitude make it impossible for us to understand God completely. As we draw closer to God and pursue him our view of him should grow over time. Just as our knowledge and appreciation of a friend grows the longer the friendship continues, the same is true of our relationship with God.

The prayer of Hezekiah in Isaiah 37:14-20 may help us expand our view of God. Hezekiah first recognizes the power of God. He acknowledges God as the one who can deliver them from any circumstance. Second, he acknowledges God as king. His position as king of the universe places him in a position of superiority over everyone on earth. Third, he is the creator of everything. As creator he ultimately made and sustains every molecule in the universe. Everyone is thus dependent upon God for every breath they take. Fourth, God can hear and respond to the needs of his people. He is not distant or aloof but is near and is ready to respond to prayers. Fifth and finally, he is real. He is not a figment of our imagination, some type of wish fulfillment or some evolutionary survival mechanism, he is instead the real, true God.

As we consider this prayer, we should consider our own interactions with God and consider whether we have the large, all-encompassing view of God which Hezekiah expresses.

Question of the day: How can you expand your view of God today?

Father God, thank you for hearing my cries. Thank you that you are real and true, and I can always rely on you. Help me not to place you in a box or have a tiny view of you but give me grace to see you for who you truly are. Thank you that you are the creator God of the universe and have granted me life today. Amen.


Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, September 20, 2021

September 20

Isaiah 33:10-36:22; Galatians 5:13-26; Psalm 64:1-10; Proverbs 23:23

On October 31, 1999 EgyptAir Flight 990 left from New York City on a routine flight to Cairo.  A short time after take-off, the pilot left the cockpit.  The first officer then disengaged the autopilot, and pushed the control column forward.  Seconds later, the airplane began to pitch nose-downward.  The horrified pilot rushed back to his seat and battled the co-pilot for control of the plane.  The pilot pulled back on the yoke, desperate to bring the nose of the plunging Boeing 767 up, while the suicidal first officer pushed his own controls forward to keep the jet in a lethal dive.

These two combatants in the cockpit gives us a glimpse of the inner life of a believer (Galatians 5:13-26).  There are two realities engaged in a death-and-life struggle within us.  We are born with what the Bible calls the flesh or our sin nature.  And when we come to faith in the Savior, we are given the Spirit.  

One of the two will dominate.  Our flesh constantly attempts to hijack our lives—damaging and, if possible, destroying us.  And all the while the Spirit is willing to take control and keep us locked on real freedom and truth.

The acts of our fallen natures are obvious, humiliating, easy to recognize; Paul spells them out in verses 19-21a.  But the fruit of the Spirit, the evidence of the Spirit at work within us, is also on full display—in our homes, in larger family gatherings, at work, in church.  It is his love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (verses 22-23a).  

Flight 990 ended in tragedy—crashing into the Atlantic Ocean south of Nantucket, Massachusetts.  Our struggle need not; our Pilot is greater than our fallen natures.  We have this promise: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (v. 16).

Question of the day: Which act(s) of the flesh do you need to nail to the cross?  Which fruit of the Spirit still needs to blossom in your life?

Father, help me to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires, and live by your Spirit.  For your sake, my sake, and the sake of those you’ve put in my life. 

Jim Nite

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, September 19, 2021

September 19

Isaiah 30:12-33:9; Galatians 5:1-12; Psalm 63:1-11; Proverbs 23:22

Help! Kids are generally much better at asking for help than adults. Somehow the older we get the more competent we feel we are at navigating life on our own. The Gospel runs contrary to this attitude. It tells us that we are so helpless in the face of sin that Christ came to die for us to reconcile us to God. This battle between wanting to pretend we don't need help and our actual hopeless condition is played out in Scripture.

The Israelites in Isaiah 30-33 think their own strength will provide deliverance rather than calling out to God for help and deliverance. The Galatians in chapter 5 think that their own conformity to the Old Testament law and thus their own performance somehow makes them more righteous and pleasing to God. In contrast, Psalm 63 proclaims that God is "my help." David knows that God alone can meet the deepest needs of his life and that the first step to healing is to ask for help. This is the same skill we need to cultivate, calling out to God and asking for help in every aspect of our lives.

Question of the day: What things keep you from quickly calling out to God for help?

God my Father, thank you that you help those who call out to you. Help me not to rely on myself but to trust in you. I am more needy than I can even comprehend so help me to continually cry out to you for the help which I so desperately need. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, September 18, 2021

September 18

Isaiah 28:14-30:11; Galatians 3:23-4:31; Psalm 62:1-12; Proverbs 23:19-21

Everyone seeks security and a firm foundation for our lives. Typically, this is pursued through wealth, job, relationships, God, or something else, but as we see today, this pursuit is a part of being human.

Israel thought they had found security in a "covenant with death", but it was shown to be futile. In contrast, God offered them a "tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation." This verse is applied to Jesus throughout the New Testament and speaks to the efficacy of what he accomplished for us. There is ultimately no other foundation that we can lay for our lives, no other person we can turn to for security, nowhere else we can look to for fulfillment except him. Everything else will fail us but Jesus never will.

The church in Galatians looked to the law, those described in Proverbs looked to food and wine, but the Bible always points them and us to God. He alone can provide a secure, firm foundation upon which to live.

Question of the day: When God is not the foundation of your life, what else do you turn to for security?

Father God, thank you that you will never fail me. Thank you that you provide a firm foundation for my life. Help me to build my life upon you rather than any of the things of this world. Thank you that you are my rock when all else is sinking sand. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, September 17, 2021

September 17

Isaiah 25:1-28:13; Galatians 3:10-22; Psalm 61:1-8; Proverbs 23:17-18

Sprinkled throughout Isaiah are beautiful passages of hope. One of these is Isaiah 25:8 which says, "...he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people's disgrace from all the earth." What a wonderful reminder of the ultimate hope that awaits us at Christ's return.

As we read through Isaiah and the prophets it is important for us to consider what the various prophecies are referring to. Sometimes the prophets refer to promises which God fulfilled in the days of the prophet , some were fulfilled at Christ's first coming, and others await his second. It is important that we understand what applies to when, otherwise we may incorrectly understand what God is doing.

One example of this is described in 2 Timothy 2 when a group of false teachers proclaimed that the general resurrection had already happened. They seemed to think that Isaiah 25:8 or something similar had already been fulfilled. Imagine their panic that somehow they had missed the resurrection!

If we understand this prophecy accurately then we know that death still awaits us unless Christ returns first. Death has not been swallowed up forever (yet) and all tears have not been wiped away (yet), but we can rest on the ultimate hope that Jesus is victorious over death, the grave, tears, and disgrace. What great assurance that should bring to our lives today!

Question of the day: What are helpful tools to use when you don't understand a passage of Scripture?

Father God, thank you that your Son is victorious over the grave. Thank you that in him I have eternal life. Thank you that I don't have to fear death but can have confidence that eternity with you awaits me.


Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, September 16, 2021

September 16

Isaiah 22:1-24:23; Galatians 2:17-3:9; Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 23:15-16

Everyone loves to celebrate and have a party. The joy, emotions, food and people make for such a festive, happy environment. Yet in our passage in Isaiah we see that celebration is not always the appropriate response to life's circumstances. We like being happy all the time but God tells us there are moments when we need to grieve and lament.

The Israelites find themselves on the verge of judgment for their sins in Isaiah 22 and yet they continue to celebrate, eat, and drink. They have refused God's loving exhortation to weep, wail, and put on sackcloth. They are ignoring their sin and God's work, in order that they can continue in a level of ignorant bliss.

This failed response will only lead to increased judgment, destruction and pain. Rather than thinking that life is about the pursuit of happiness, we must recognize it is about the pursuit of God. God is the one who can satisfy, forgive, and lead us in a life of wisdom (Prov 23:15-16).

Question of the day: Why do we find it hard to lament and grieve well?

Father God, I confess my sin before you. I confess that I pursue things other than you to bring me life. Help me to grieve over my sin and turn to you. Help me to believe that in you is life and submit all of me to you. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, September 15, 2021

September 15

Isaiah 19:1-21:17; Galatians 2:1-16; Psalm 59:1-17; Proverbs 23:13-14

When I was barely a teenager a friend came over and negatively influenced me to prank someone through AOL instant messenger. I was soon caught. And since this broke a family rule with regards to appropriate internet usage, my mom took away my internet privileges for an entire week. I was outraged.  How dare my mother infringe on my access to not-so-speedy dial up and AOL instant messenger? In the moment it felt unfair and unreasonable, but looking back I can see how helpful that correction was. I can also see that my mom truly acted out of love and concern for me. 

Proverbs talks about punishing a child to save his or her soul from death. As his children, God, our Father, does the same with us. He disciplines us to get our attention, to protect us from self-destroying choices, to teach us obedience, to mature us. Discipline is not fun, but it is absolutely necessary. The irritation of not getting our own way; the bitterness that can come with on-going pain; or the anger of having something we desperately want taken from us will ultimately be diminished in light of the greater picture of salvation through Christ. 

The next time you find yourself turning away from the Savior, and experiencing God’s discipline, remember this: It is for your good, and only for your good, and because of God’s great love.

How have you responded to God’s discipline in the past? How can you recognize his love through discipline to change the way you respond in the future?

Heavenly Father, my heart is slow to recognize your goodness and love through discipline. Help me to respond well to your correction and see past the moment of frustration to the greater reality of your love.

Sarah Naples

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, September 14, 2021

September 14

Isaiah 15:1-18:7; Galatians 1:1-24; Psalm 58:1-11; Proverbs 23:12

Proverbs 23:12 says, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” This verse speaks to the fact that we are prone to just listen to God's word when what he is truly calling for is application. God is seeking people who are changed by his truth and not merely listening to it.

As we continue to read through the Bible this year it is important for us to consider whether we are truly accomplishing what God desires for us. Are we just reading to read and ending most days without the slightest recollection of what we have read? Do we read and understand but don't do anything with what we have learned? God's desire is that his truth would change us in powerful ways. As Jesus said, when you know the truth it will set you free.

A great way of participating in this process is to ask these questions of the portion of the Bible we read. What is happening in the text (observation)? What does it mean (interpretation)? What else does the Bible say about this (correlation)? What do I need to do with this (application)? This ensures that we apply our heart and ears to God's word and are living out the wisdom of Proverbs 23:12.

Question of the day: Which step of observation, interpretation, correlation or application do you most frequently miss?

Father God, thank you for your truth which you have revealed to me. Help me to know your truth and walk in it. Help me not to be merely a hearer of your truth but a doer also. Help me to live out your love, grace and truth today. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, September 13, 2021

September 13

Isaiah 12:1-14:32; 2 Corinthians 13:1-14; Psalm 57:1-11; Proverbs 23:9-11

Isaiah's description of judgment uses the term "day of the Lord" (13:9). This is a technical term for a specific day of judgment which is used 30 times in the Bible. In Isaiah 13 it speaks of the day God would bring judgment upon the nation of Babylon. He would come upon them for their sin and horrific treatment of Israel. This judgment and overthrow of Babylon occurred in 539 BC. This day of the Lord is a past event but the New Testament uses "day of the Lord" to speak of the future return of Christ and the judgment he will bring.

God's past judgments/days of the Lord become a glimpse of what is ultimately going to happen in the future. As one of my seminary professors said, "What God has done in the past is a promise and a model for the future, but he is too creative to do it the same way twice."

When we read the stark account of judgment in Isaiah and the rest of the prophets it should take our imagination to the future and cause us to live in light of this reality.

Question of the day: How should God's past and future "day(s) of the Lord" cause us to live differently today?

Father God, thank you that you will come in judgment and vanquish all evil and sin. Thank you that everything that opposes you will be destroyed and the sin in my own life will be finally dealt with. Help me to live today in light of the future and share the hope that you offer to others. Thank you that through Jesus I have been redeemed and don't have to be afraid of a future judgment that will lead to separation from you. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, September 12, 2021

September 12

Isaiah 10:1-11:16; 2 Corinthians 12:11-21; Psalm 56:1-13; Proverbs 23:6-8

Difficulty is a perpetual reality of life. Yesterday we saw the difficulties of Israel and Paul while today we see the difficulties of David in Psalm 56 and the Israelites in Isaiah 10-11. The Israelites are reaping judgment because of their waywardness while David is experiencing difficulty despite his faithfulness.

What God is trying to work in both of these situations is the same. God's desire is that his people would learn to rely on Him (Isaiah 10:20) and trust Him (Psalm 56:3-4). 

Think about what reliance means. To rely on something means that you find it dependable and are entrusting yourself to its capabilities. When it comes to God it means that we are entrusting ourselves to him and depending on him to come through.

God is ultimately the only one we can fully rely on. We will fail and others will fail but God is always faithful. His dependability ensures that he is worthy of our trust. He will always come through, not always in the way we might want, but always in a way for our good and for his glory.

Question of the day: How do you think God wants to use your current difficulties to learn to trust and rely on him?

Father God, thank you that you are faithful. Help me to trust and rely on you in the midst of life's difficulties. Others have hurt me and let me down, but help me to believe that you never will. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, September 11, 2021

September 11

Isaiah 8:1-9:21; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Psalm 55:1-23; Proverbs 23:4-5

Isaiah calls out to northern Israel that judgment is coming upon them because of their sin. Assyria is going to invade and plunder their wealth. They have failed to look to God so God will come against them in judgment but with the hope that they might see and turn to him. God is hoping that this warning and their exile will be fuel to bring them back to him.

Paul, like Isaiah's audience, is an example of God using difficult things to bring about maturity and humility. Paul experienced a "thorn in my flesh," which he begged God to take away. God allowed the thorn to remain because it taught Paul that God's grace is sufficient, humility is essential, and God's power is the strength that counts.

God can use hard things in our lives for our good and his glory. Don't just run from difficulty but instead ask God what he might be trying to do in the midst of it. When Paul had this conversation with God it radically changed his perspective.

Question of the day: When have you seen God use difficulty to mature you?

Father God, thank you that you can use and redeem all things. Thank you that even in the midst of difficulty and hardship, you are at work. Help me to gain your perspective and use all things for your glory. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, September 10, 2021

September 10

Isaiah 6:1-7:25; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33; Psalm 54:1-7; Proverbs 23:1-3

Today’s passage in Isaiah destroys the popular notion that there is a god in heaven who wants us to be happy and feel good about ourselves.

Isaiah’s encounter with God utterly overwhelms him; entering the presence of the most holy God shatters his understanding of self. The only physical feature of the Lord Isaiah describes is the train of His robe, and yet that is enough to overcome him. Even the seraphim, who are always there with God, cannot help but ceaselessly call out His glory in the presence of His holiness. In His midst, the ground literally shakes.

Isaiah’s response to this scene is not to feel happy. He doesn’t think he’s “good enough” to be there. No. Faced with the reality of the glory of God, Isaiah grasps the depths of his depravity. “Woe to me! I am ruined!” (6:5) he declares. Isaiah realizes he is deserving only of condemnation. It’s not a general feeling of shame—this is a deep understanding that even his very best is but “filthy rags” (as Isaiah says later in 64:6).

The seraphim touches Isaiah’s lips with a “live coal”, and declares, “Your guilt is taken away…” (v. 7). Instead of the death that was deserved, Isaiah is completely cleansed.  God then questions, “Who will go for Us?” (the “Us” giving evidence of the Trinity), and is met with Isaiah’s immediate reply: “Here I am! Send me!” (v. 8) God’s forgiveness compels him to serve the Lord. It’s the natural response, flowing out of gratitude and love.

We, too, have a point at which we face the depth of our sinfulness. But, thank the Lord, rather than condemnation, God offers us complete cleansing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Our response? To gladly, lovingly serve Him with that same full and open heart as Isaiah.

Question: Do I understand that God is truly this majestic and awesome?  Am I aware of how much I’ve been given, that I cannot help but be fully, willingly, available to Him?

Oh, Holy Lord, thank You so much for cleansing me, in spite of me. There is nothing in me that is righteous or good apart from You. I want to respond to You as Isaiah did—“Here I am. Send me!” Please help me to mean it.

Julie Gerber

Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, September 9, 2021

September 9

Isaiah 3:1-5:30; 2 Corinthians 11:1-15; Psalm 53:1-6; Proverbs 22:28-29

Can jealousy ever be a good thing? In 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul speaks of the "godly jealousy" which he has for the church. This jealousy he compares to that of a marriage. As a wife should expect her husband to remain committed to her, so Paul says the church should remain committed to God.

This language of jealousy is actually used for God toward his people a number of times in the Bible. Exodus 20:5 says, "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God." Deuteronomy 4:24 says, "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." James 4:4 says, "Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?"

We can rejoice in the fact that God is jealous concerning us because it means he longs for us to be completely given over to him. He doesn't want a piece of us, just some of our devotion or a little commitment; he longs for all of us to be surrendered to him. When we are jealous it often flows out of pettiness, selfishness, envy or pride, but for God it flows out of love.

Question of the day: Why is it a good thing that God is jealous toward us?

Father God, thank you that you are jealous. Thank you that you desire all of me to be lived in communion with you. Help me to know that life is found in you alone and to live through you, with you and for you. Help me to honor you in all I do today. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, September 8, 2021

September 8

Isaiah 1:1-2:22; 2 Corinthians 10:1-18; Psalm 52:1-9; Proverbs 22:26-27

Our reading in Isaiah starts us on the portion of the Bible called the prophets. The prophets are typically divided into major and minor prophets.  This has nothing to do with their significance but rather the length of their books. The major prophets consist of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel; the minor are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. One of the primary functions of a prophet was to call a wayward people back to God through their words and example.

We can see this call to the wayward in Isaiah's audience. He is speaking to the externally religious, spiritually apathetic and those in opposition to God. Yet regardless of how religious they appear they all have wandered from God.

These people are found throughout the pages of the Bible (look especially at the description in Psalm 52), throughout the streets of Naples and potentially even the rows of Center Point. God's longing is that all of these people would come to him and experience his forgiveness and restoration power. He longed for Israel in Isaiah's day to experience this and has the same heart for our church and city. God's longing is that all would come to repentance and experience him as their good father. He called Isaiah to communicate his love and he calls us to do the same in our world today.

Question of the day: How can you share God's love with someone far from him today?

Father God, thank you that you drew me to yourself. Thank you that you desire all to come into relationship with you and experience the love and forgiveness that you offer. Help me not to wander from you and instead call all people to trust in you. Amen.

Derek Newbery

September 7

Song of Solomon 5:1-8:14; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15; Psalm 51:1-19; Proverbs 22:24-25

Giving can often be seen as a dirty word…maybe something we know that we are called to do but at best something we grudgingly participate in. Also, many people have a bad taste in their mouths when churches talk about money. In contrast to these attitudes, 2 Corinthians 9 describes why we should see giving as a beautiful act that God allows us to participate in.

Giving is seen as beautiful because it allows us to bless others. It brings God praise and brings blessing to us. 

First, as we give, it allows us to bless others by responding to their needs. The offering which Paul describes was meant to meet the tangible needs of other Christians. Giving is one of the clearest ways for us to love others. Whether this giving is money or our time, it allows us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. 

Second, our giving brings praise to God. Verses 11 and 12 speak of the thanks and thanksgiving which flows to God when we participate in giving. People cannot see God but they can see us as his ambassadors and through our giving can tangibly see God at work. 

Finally, giving allows us to be blessed. Many false teachers will claim that if you give money, it guarantees that God will give even more money back to you as his blessing. A simple look at our passage shows that God will bless us for our giving but that it is not necessarily financial. In verse 8 the blessing is to “abound in every good work” and in verse 10 it is to “enlarge the harvest of your righteousness”. God in his grace allows us to participate in his work in the world, so we should generously give out of all that God has blessed us with.

Question of the day: What aspect of this passage motivates you to begin or continue generous giving?

Father God, thank you for the opportunity I have to join you in your work in the world. Help me to have eyes to see needs that I can respond to and help me to be generous. Help me not to hoard the blessings you have given to me but share them with others, for your glory and the good of others. Amen.

Derek Newbery


September 6

Song of Solomon 1:1-4:16; 2 Corinthians 8:16-24; Psalm 50:1-23; Proverbs 22:22-23

We begin Song of Songs today. It is a book focused on the beauty of marital/romantic love. 

We have a tendency as individuals and a culture to do one of two things with this type of love. The first view is the Disney way of romantic love. It is to conceive of romance as the pinnacle of love. It is to think that only in a romantic relationship can we find fulfillment and when we enter into this relationship we will live 'happily ever after'. The second is to reject this type of love. Usually due to past heartbreak or abuse, we may reject the value or beauty of marriage.

God wants our perspective to be a middle ground between these two extremes. He wants us to see the beauty of romance and marriage, and celebrate and enjoy it while also understanding that fulfillment only comes in Christ. No one outside of Jesus can complete us. This is why the image is often used of Jesus as the groom of the church. He is the one who makes us whole and he is the one we ultimately need union with.

Question of the day: Which of the two cultural views of romance do you take? What has shaped this perspective?

Father God, thank you that you make me complete. Help me not to look to anyone else including my spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend or others to do that which only you can do in my life. Thank you that in you is joy, peace and contentment. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, September 5, 2021

September 5

Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; Psalm 49:1-20; Proverbs 22:20-21

What gives our lives meaning and value? Is it the number of accomplishments we can point to, our many possessions, or the size of our bank account? Today’s scriptures challenge us to examine what gives our lives true meaning and significance.

    The writer of Ecclesiastes comes to the end of his quest to find true meaning and value in life and seems to conclude with the words he began with: “Meaningless!  Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” But he goes on to the better final conclusion that fearing God and being obedient to Him are the best ways to find joy and peace in a world that often makes no sense.

    Psalm 49 points to much the same conclusion but emphasizes that all people die, whether they are rich or poor – no one escapes death despite their status in life. He then encourages us not to envy the wealthy or to trust in our wealth if we have it, but to trust God for our eternal destiny. No matter what we have accumulated in life, we leave it all behind us when we leave this world.

    I’m not sure when I realized that every material thing we ever own will eventually be owned by someone else, or be in a trash or ash heap somewhere, but it was a sobering thought. That concept is emphasized in Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to be generous in their giving to the Lord’s work. This sort of giving is making an eternal investment since the only things that continue on after this world are people and God’s Word.

    How do we find value and meaning in our lives? These three writers all agree that God alone holds the answers and that obedience and generosity towards Him will enable us to live meaningful and joyful lives. Holding our wealth and material possessions loosely and being generous to God’s work yields peace and fulfillment in life.

Question of the Day: What are we investing our time and money in to give our lives significance and meaning? How can we feel we are making an eternal difference in this confusing and mixed-up world?

Dear Lord help us to see what has true value in our lives and to spend our time and money involving ourselves in those things. Thank You that in You we find joy and significance in our lives so that they are not meaningless, but meaningful for Your glory. Amen

Jan Lee

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, September 4, 2021

September 4

Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18; 2 Corinthians 7:8-16; Psalm 48:1-14; Proverbs 22:17-19

 As we have seen the last couple days, Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes challenges us to look at life in ways that we normally wouldn't. One of the ways he does this is by challenging us to view life through the lens of death. Since we are all going to die (unless Christ returns first) we should allow our mortality to affect our behavior.

Reflecting on our death may seem morbid, especially in a culture that tries to hide death away, but Solomon says it is actually wisdom.

As we reflect on death it helps to shape our values and gives us a clear understanding of what matters. Are we living in light of what will matter one minute after our death or just living in light of this moment? Hopefully as we continue through Solomon's wisdom over the next few days it will challenge and convict us about ways that we are not fully living in light of death, and beyond that, eternity.

Question of day: How would reflecting on your mortality change the way you live?

Our Father, I confess that I so often give my time, energy and passion to things which really don't matter. I live for fleeting pleasures rather than the reality of eternity. Reshape my heart to love the things you love and live for things which are meaningful, rather than meaningless. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, September 3, 2021

October 4

Jeremiah 2:31-4:18; Colossians 1:1-17; Psalm 76:1-12; Proverbs 24:21-22

Jeremiah continues his indictments against Israel by proclaiming that they have "forgotten" God. He repeats this charge three times in his book. When Israel forgets God it is not that they don't remember God's existence but rather that they turn to other things for satisfaction, fulfillment, comfort and purpose. They look to other things to be the foundation of their life, rather than God. They live as practical atheists despite the fact that they would acquiesce to God's existence if given an exam. Yet his existence makes no practical difference in their lives. God wants us to use our lives and especially our minds to glorify God.

Paul in Colossians 1 fleshes out what it looks like to not forget God but rather to grow in the knowledge of God. For Paul knowledge is intricately tied to action. Paul doesn't think that you can know something without it making a difference in your life. He challenges us to know God, his will, his love, and to live out of that. The more we know God (see v.15-20) and what he has done for us (v.13-14) the more clearly we will live in a way that glorifies God and keeps us in his will.

Question of the day: Why is there a disconnect in your life between what you know and what you live?

God my Father, help me to know you more deeply. Help me to know who you are and what you have done for me and to live out of those truths. Help me never to forget you but to live in your will. Help me to live the way that you desire for me today. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, September 3, 2021

September 3

Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7; Psalm 47:1-9; Proverbs 22:16

We discussed briefly yesterday the idea of meaning out of Ecclesiastes. It is especially important as we read that we understand what Solomon means by the word "meaningless”. This word is found 33 times in Ecclesiastes and only four other times in the whole rest of the Bible. It is clearly the central purpose of the book.

As we meander through the 33 usages of "meaningless" it may seem difficult to find one concise definition but one of the clearest synonyms is temporal. When we don't include God in our decisions we inevitably only live for the moment. We become like the man in 4:7-8 who collected a massive amount of wealth but as death approaches realizes that it won't help him. Or the people in 4:13-16 who look to various politicians to rescue them when in light of eternity they are just distant memories.

If our actions, decisions and emotions don't make sense in light of eternity than why are we doing them in the first place? They are just meaningless!

Question of the day: In what ways does your life reflect temporal pursuits rather than eternal?

Father God, help me to live for things which matter. Help me to be consumed by things which matter in light of eternity. I confess that I far too often make life about me and my desires, rather than you and your glory. Help me to remain focused on you and your glory today. Amen.

Derek Newbery


September 2

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Psalm 46:1-11; Proverbs 22:15

Ecclesiastes is a great book for our time. One of the main issues that it addresses is finding meaning in life. We will join Solomon as he tries to discover meaning and purpose. In our reading today he will look in the very same places that we as a culture look and will learn that without God life is "meaningless".

One of the places Solomon looks to for meaning is education. This is the equivalent of someone thinking that if only they can graduate from an Ivy League school then they will have a sense of purpose, meaning and value in their life. He also looks to pleasure (i.e. sex, entertainment, alcohol etc.) and accomplishments for meaning. It is not hard for us to see that our world is filled with people just like Solomon. We may think that if only I can fill my life with happiness, if only I get a promotion, if only...then I will feel satisfied and have a sense of meaning. There will always be a sense of -if only- in our lives. It is easy to think that changed circumstances will lead to a changed sense of meaning in our lives. Yet Solomon was able to try every pursuit to the nth degree and still found them wanting. As we will see at the end of the book, only God can give meaning and purpose to our lives.

Question of the day: What pursuits (other than God) do you use to try to provide meaning in life?

Father God, thank you that you give me purpose. Thank you that I am your child and have value and dignity apart from what I accomplish. Help me to look to you to for life and meaning, rather than the shallow things the world offers. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Wednesday, September 1, 2021

September 1

Job 40:1-42:17; 2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Psalm 45:1-17; Proverbs 22:14

Despicable! My cousin disgustingly utters “des-pi-ca-ble” emphasizing every syllable when a game move places her at a disadvantage. 

This is where we find Job when God, after demonstrating His power and omnipotence as Creator, pauses and lets Job humbly whisper, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth” (40:4). The Hebrew for “unworthy” means to “lightly esteem” or in this sense “contemptible;” otherwise “despicable.” Probably Job wished for a big eraser so he could wipe away his previous statement: “Then I could explain everything I have done. I could come to God with my head held high like a prince” (31:37, ERV). 

God spoke to Job out of the storm (40:6) where one who is suffering is often found; in the storm. He challenged Job, “Would you discredit my justice?” God was not running Job’s world in Job’s desired way. Therefore, God mockingly said, “Unleash (your) fury… crush the wicked… Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you” (40:11-12, 14, NIV). Come on, Job, step aside; let God be your Savior. Let God be God, performing His justice to do right. 

Leviathan and Behemoth (perhaps powers of evil) showed God was in control and Job was helpless in his own power. Therefore Job penitently states, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted….My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (40:2 & 5) The Hebrew word nāham for “repent” extends past “to be sorry, repent” to “to console oneself” or “be comforted.” Perhaps Job was comforted by his Creator and Savior because he repented.

In these chapters we see a humbled, repentant Job, perhaps even while he was still suffering, All this happened without God revealing the reason to Job for his suffering. Could this be so we who presently suffer in silence without answers can proclaim with Job, “I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes” (Job 42:5)?

Question of the day: What needs to occur in our lives so we can see God with our own eyes? 

Father, in the words of Paul Joseph Baloche’s song:

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord

Open the eyes of my heart

I want to see You

I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up

Shinin' in the light of Your glory

Pour out Your power and love

As we sing holy, holy, holy

Gena Duncan

Posted by Sarah Naples at Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August 31

Job 37:1-39:30; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10; Psalm 44:9-26; Proverbs 22:13

There may be days where you feel like throwing in the towel. This could be due to frustration, lack of sleep, depression or any number of other things. When we face this seemingly impenetrable obstacle how do we move forward?  2 Corinthians 4 and 5 give us some encouragement. 

Paul tells us that we must “fix our eyes” on what is unseen. We must pull our eyes away from the things of this world, the frustrations, troubles and confusion of life and put them on the eternal. Paul wants us to understand that in the midst of the turmoil of life there is only one solid, unchanging place we can turn:  God. We can find hope in our future resurrection and in the Spirit which we have already been given. The Spirit is the deposit which guarantees that God will follow through on all of his promises to us.

When today feels terrible we can remember the future life Christ has provided for us and find hope and encouragement. Turn from today and find hope in a certain, better tomorrow that Christ will give.

Question of the day: How can you live out the command to fix your eyes on the “unseen”?

Father God, thank you that my future is secure in Christ. Thank you that your Spirit guarantees that you will follow through on all of your promises to me. Help me to trust you more than myself or what I can see. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Monday, August 30, 2021

August 30

Job 34:1-36:33; 2 Corinthians 4:1-12; Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 22:10-12

My father, a strong athletic man, could do 100 pushups in his 70’s. Mid-70’s he was struck with Lewy body dementia. Within a year from the hint of his symptoms, he was dead. One day he said, “I feel like I am losing my mind”; and he was. He started stumbling and falling hard. Quickly, he progressed from walking with a cane, to a wheelchair, to being bedridden. He lost his ability to speak clearly and to swallow. At that point, my mother and I had to make a decision to let him go naturally or medically prolong his suffering. The why questions mounted, and I became angry at God. 

May I share my musings on intense struggles and suffering from today’s reading? (Hopefully I will not sound like Elihu.)

While Job is in turmoil, Elihu, with arrogance (35:1-16; 36:4) and shadows of concern (34:4), condemns Job’s unjustly questioning of God’s actions or non-actions, claim of innocence while carousing with sinners, and nonsensical speech. He shows insight into humanity: “In times of trouble, everyone begs the mighty God to have mercy” (35:9, CEV). He professes, “Hard times and trouble are God’s way of getting our attention!” (Job 36:26, CEV). Elihu claims God rules over individuals and nations in love, justice, and fairness. He conveys “how great God is—God is more than we imagine” and expands about God’s character (Job 36:26). During Elihu and his friends’ dissertations, God was silent. Oh God’s silence when we struggle is deafening, but He is very present. He is present even when friends’ advice and concern is not always comforting. 

Psalm 44 is Israel’s lament over an enemy defeat. And, (if I may steal from tomorrow’s reading) “All this came upon us, though we had not forgotten you; we had not been false to your covenant. Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path” (vs 17-18). Their pain is compounded by confusion and frustration because they feel God has rejected them and they were faithful! How can that happen? Both the good and evil suffer.

A vulnerable Paul relies on God’s power to face the boiling issues of the Corinthian church. He declares “We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again” (II Corinthians 4:8-9, CEV).  He draws attention to the treasure inside the jar clay, “our glorious Christ, who shows what God is like,” rather than on himself (II Corinthians 4:4b, CEV). During difficult times hold on to God and get to know Him.

Oh, let me finish the story about my father. He sensed my anger and, with jerky arm movements, he was able to grab my arms. Then, looking up, he made a wide swooping move with his arm and said, “Gena, someday He will make this all clear.” He did not lose his faith through the ordeal and he learned to really know God; and he shared Him with me.

Question of the day: What issue (disease, pain, depression, unknown future) can you submit to Him today and focus on knowing Him. 

Abba Father, I do not like to feel emotional or physical pain. I do not like to suffer. However, I know you suffered immensely when you died for my sins. Help me learn from You, Job, the prophets, and others in their suffering. May I lean into you and know your character, love, power—just know you.

Gena Duncan

Posted by Sarah Naples at Sunday, August 29, 2021

August 29

Job 31:1-33:33; 2 Corinthians 3:1-18; Psalm 43:1-5; Proverbs 22:8-9

I'm not good enough. You may have said something like this dozens if not hundreds of times out of a feeling of inadequacy. It may have been an excuse related to participating in an activity, trying something new or doing an act of service. Yet we learn from 2 Corinthians 3 that when it comes to serving God, we should never speak the words, "I'm not good enough" or "I can't do that”.

Paul says in verse 5 that "competence comes from God".  We may not be competent to dunk a basketball, fly a plane or pass a calculus course, but God has made us competent as "ministers". 

Through the Spirit we have been sufficiently equipped to share the gospel and serve the world. When it comes to serving God we should never say "I can't do that" but instead should respond with a can-do attitude because God has given us everything we need to serve him and others.

Through the gift of the Spirit we can, should, and must starting doing what God has called us to, "to be disciples who make disciples".

Question of the day: How do you allow feelings of inadequacy to keep you from serving God, the church and others? What can you do to courageously step through the doubts?

Father God, thank you that you have made me competent as a minister of the gospel. You have enabled me to make you known to the world through words and actions. Help me to live out of the calling and competency you have placed on my life, rather than the doubts and fears which so easily creep in. Amen.

Derek Newbery

Posted by Sarah Naples at Saturday, August 28, 2021

August 28

Job 28:1-30:31; 2 Corinthians 2:12-17; Psalm 42:1-11; Proverbs 22:7

It is very easy for our emotions to lead our lives. We can allow our feelings to drive our actions rather than allowing facts to rule us. There is a great visual of a “fact-faith-feeling train” (googling it might help you see what I am trying to describe) which shows what God wants to rule our actions. God desires that we would place our faith in the facts (Christ's life, death, resurrection, etc.) and allow this to drive our lives with the hope that our feelings would follow behind. Notice the situation that Job, Paul and the author of Psalm 42 find themselves in. Job is experiencing grave sorrow and suffering, Paul has "no peace of mind" and the psalmist says "tears have been my food". It is not hard to imagine their feelings.

Notice what is in common with all these individuals. Instead of simply turning inward to their sorrow and pain, they turn to God. Job longs for God to respond to his prayers, anguish and questions. Paul continues to respond towards God with an attitude of "thanks" despite his confusing circumstances. And the psalmist recognizes that he needs God as desperately as a deer needs water.

They all turn to God because they recognize how desperately they need him. He is the only one who can make sense of their circumstances, and the only source of wisdom and hope. Therefore, as we go through these devotionals may we also make a regular pattern of turning to God rather than allowing our feelings to determine our response to him.

Question of the day: In what ways do your feelings keep you from pursuing God as vehemently and regularly as you should?

Father God, thank you that you are the source of all good things and the only one who can bring wisdom and hope into my life. Help me to regularly pursue you out of desperation knowing that you are the one I need. Help my feelings to drive me to you rather than away. Thank you for your presence and that when I seek you, you will be found. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Friday, August 27, 2021

August 27

Job 23:1-27:23; 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11; Psalm 41:1-13; Proverbs 22:5-6

Job has continually argued for his integrity. He has argued vehemently that he has not sinned in a way which has caused the calamities that he has faced. Paul starts off his second letter to the Corinthians in a similar fashion. He is able to tell the church that he has conducted himself with "integrity and godly sincerity".   He wants the church to understand that everything he has done has been for their good and for God's glory. As you think about Job and Paul, how does your life compare?

Would people use integrity as a word to describe your life and character? The root idea of integrity is that we are one undivided entity. It is a person who is committed to loving God and others in every area of their life. Due to our sin nature we are never going to arrive at a stage of full integrity but through the power of the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21-22) we can move ever closer. Let us get to a place in our lives where we can say like Paul, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Question of the day: What is one step you can take to move towards greater integrity today?

Father God, help me to consistently follow you. Make my life about you and your glory. Help me to resist the draw of sin and selfishness and instead live for your glory alone. Amen.

Derek Newbery


Posted by Sarah Naples at Thursday, August 26, 2021