Every Day Words | Daily Devotional
First Presbyterian Church • May 24, 2022
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will – Ephesians 1:11
One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is continuously believing that there is an ever after. It is very easy to see the present and feel the weight of sin and drudgery and forget that there waits a heavenly golden shore.
God gives us many helps for this problem. He reminds us of His love and our inheritance in countless ways, and here, in the letter to the Ephesians, He grounds our hope in eternity past. Our future inheritance was predestined just as much as our present belief. His supreme will was to bring all those whom He predestined for adoption into the kingdom at the end.
And look again how sure it is, “we have obtained it.” It is already ours—we are just waiting to take possession of it. The same is said in Romans 8:30, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” God didn’t say “will glorify” but “also glorified.” So sure is our glorification that He says it in the past tense. It cannot be otherwise.
First Presbyterian Church • May 20, 2022
making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
– Ephesians 1:9-10
It is often pointed out that Christ came at the perfect time. The Pax Romana (peaceful time in Rome) was happening. The Roman road structure allowed for swift travel. The Greek language was universal. Israel was under the thumb of a foreign government.
You can see these things and point them out as though they just “happened” to all coincide, or you could believe that there is no such thing as a coincidence. You could believe there is no such thing as secular history. All history before Christ pointed forward to Him and Him alone. Everything everywhere on earth was preparatory. The time was full, like a drinking glass filled to the brim. All had been done to make room for the King, and then He came.
We live now in a similar time. All events flow from His first coming toward His second. Nothing that is happening now is accidental or offhand—it is purposeful and intentional and Godward. It is often difficult to see, but it is no less true even if it is veiled.
Remember all the truths we know about how God acts, who He is eternally, and what time is like for Him. We can stand steadfast on the sure truth that each moment that passes is an advancement of the reign of Christ until the moment that time is once again full and the earth and all creation will be rolled up like a garment for Him. (Psalm 102:25-27)
First Presbyterian Church • May 19, 2022
But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
– Hebrews 9:26b
The finality of Christ’s coming cannot be overstated. The book of Hebrews repeats the phrase “once for all” over and over to drive it home. Christ’s sacrifice to do away with sin was a monumental remaking of the world. It was the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end. No moment can equal it.
The whole world hinged on that moment and began to swing the other way. That great curse of an enemy, death, began to unravel. The eternal relationship with God was made perfect, and those who had hoped in a shadow beheld the glorious light of the Son of God. We who have come after look back and gaze at it in wonder and amazement. We deserve death but, instead, the perfect One died.
And He died once for all. One time. Not over and over like the priests of old making sacrifices, but one sacrifice. And not one time for each person but once for the sins of many. One time for the removal of the stain of sin, the power of sin, and the sting of death.
In every war there are decisive moments. D-day, Midway, and Stalingrad were some in WWII. Gettysburg in the Civil War. Often in sports, there is a moment when the game is decided, and after that, the game simply plays out.
Christ’s death was the decisive moment of the world. It was the letting loose of the victorious thunder of heaven’s host. He had done it. Forgiveness was now permanent.
First Presbyterian Church • May 18, 2022
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
– Proverbs 33:10
A necessary consequence of God’s eternal plan and His eternal state is that our plans are often made in vain. Over and again in Scripture and throughout history, plans are made and God does something quite different.
Who could have foreseen the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022? The riots of 2020 and the election of President Biden did not point this way. But here we are, and God has done something inexplicable. Something we did not plan. Something that is frustrating to millions of citizens and joy to millions more.
When the fabric of the world was woven together in the beginning of the 20th century, there were few who thought it could end in worldwide war. And fewer still thought it could happen twice. So nations and leaders made plans and treaties and alliances—then God brought them to nothing.
He does this on a small scale, too. Our plans for ourselves, our families, our churches, our towns are all, ultimately, in His hands. We make our plans, but the Lord directs our steps. Sometimes our plans are no good, and so God disrupts them and grinds them to dust. Sometimes we cannot see anything wrong with our plans yet, still, God stops them from being fruitful. In those times especially, we must remember that God has an unchangeable, fixed, and perfect plan no matter how it appears to us.
First Presbyterian Church • May 17, 2022
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
– 2 Peter 3:8
Getting ourselves out of the present and into the eternity of God is always helpful. One of the best ways to do this is to realize that all time is as nothing to the God of the universe. Time to Him is virtually meaningless as He exists outside of it.
As we age we begin to get a glimpse of this sort of thing. As a child, the days seem to go on forever. Summers out of school are time without end. And school itself seems to drag on and on and on. But, as we grow into early adulthood, choices that we thought would have long-term effects on our life have long since been forgotten. We may remember the awkward moment of having asked a girl out and her saying no, but we no longer think it life-altering. And then children come. We begin to see what older folks meant when they said that time slips away. “Before you know it,” is one of the most common phrases given to young parents. And it is true. We begin to experience time differently as we age.
But God has always known time as an invention, and He has always been outside of time in His own eternity. While we tend to think of time as slipping away, God thinks of time as another tool in making the world the way He planned. It is not an inconvenience to Him. He does not need to remind Himself to get things done. He has planned it, and it will come to pass.
First Presbyterian Church • May 16, 2022
for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
– Isaiah 46:9-10
God is not like us. We make plans all the time that do not work out. We might go to the grocery store for eggs and find that the store ran out before we arrived. Or, a marriage might end prematurely because of adultery. We do not know the end, and so our plans are forever disrupted and altered.
But God is not like us. He knows the end from the beginning. His plans are not best guesses but sure statements and actions. He has never misspoken. He has never mis-stepped. He has never forgotten. There has never been a better way.
It is often hard to see this through the veil of the present. Even our own history is dim in our eyes, and we see it only with difficulty and cloudiness. What effect has WWII had on the world? On us? On the church? What about WWI? The Civil War? The Revolutionary War? The Bubonic Plague?
The present circumstances always seem the most urgent; we quickly forget that God is in charge of not just this moment but the entirety of all things. This truth, that God is complete and unequaled in His governance of all things, should bring us relief in the moment. It should give us a surety to stand and face the current enemy with courage and hope. And not because we are assured of a victory in the present but because we are assured of a glad end of all things.
First Presbyterian Church • May 13, 2022
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
– 3 John 4
John was speaking as a father, but it is true of a mother of the church, too: her greatest joy is seeing that her children are walking in the truth. Make it your ambition to see that the children of the church walk in accord with the Gospel.
God has given us many earthly gifts to help us on our walks, and one such help is that we can look toward our own reward and joy as we follow God. In fact, it is unchristian to bleakly do the things God has commanded without desiring joy in the process.
The world has grabbed hold of this idea, that the best actions are those done without any sort of eye towards the self. That the best love is a detached love. The best kindness is one that does not take joy in the action.
But this is not true: at a base level, it is the opposite of how God has acted toward us, His children. He delights in us and over us and for us. He is joyful when we walk as He commands.
Take this great truth to your hearts, mothers. You should work hard and tirelessly to aim your children rightly, not just for their gain but yours as well. Your gain is the joy in your heart as your children follow in the footsteps of their Lord. Your joy is that they will one day meet Him. Let your hearts take solace in that joy.
First Presbyterian Church • May 12, 2022
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
– 1 Timothy 5:1-2
Many of you are well beyond child-rearing age. You have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Some of you have never had a biological child. But this does not mean you are not a mother.
The church has long understood that the commandment to honor your father and mother doesn’t just mean biological parents, but includes honor to all who are styled mothers and fathers (see Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 125 in the further reading section). And so, if you are older, you have special honor as a mother to the whole church.
Do not neglect this honor. Remember, mothers are to be wise and full of wisdom to hand out. Rebuke, remind, encourage, and exhort. And do it with the hope that your hard work will have decades of fruit, as the younger among us remember some of it, act in light of it, and pass it down to our children and grandchildren.
As a woman in the church, look around to see what is happening, and then give us your wisdom on the matter. We need it, and it honors God when you take stock of the flock and then water and feed us. Rachel, the wife of Jacob, was a shepherdess, and he found her lovely to behold. You, as a mother in the church, are a shepherdess for God’s people, and it is a wonderful thing to behold.
First Presbyterian Church • May 11, 2022
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
– Proverbs 1:8-9
This past week I saw a video that talked about millennial speech patterns. Of course, it irritated me because I do some of the things it said are not good. But the goal of the video wasn’t to make me feel bad, it was to help me sound not, “like a toddler who doesn’t know how to speak.” The goal was to lay a garland of knowledge on my head, not to beat me on the brow.
This is the goal of all wisdom. Mothers should work hard to set garlands upon the heads of their children and to ensure that others are able to see that their children are wise. But this is the end result, not the beginning.
Mothers need a long-view when it comes to child-rearing. It cannot be tomorrow, or next week, or even next year. It must be decades long. They should be training the child not just for the beginning of adulthood but for the whole of it. A child should know how to walk wisely into marriage, child-bearing and child-rearing, and old age because their mother taught them the wise things of the Lord.
Part of the joy of seeing one’s children grow is seeing the reward of the hard work and suffering that has gone into raising them. It is seeing the garlands and pendants being given to the child for their steadfastness and godliness. And so, mothers must stay motivated to do the hard work in the moment. They are not working for the now but for the later.
First Presbyterian Church • May 10, 2022
Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;
– Proverbs 1:20
You have heard me quote Scripture that says, “let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.” (1 Timothy 2:11) There are several other places that this command is given to women. But, remember, those commands are in the context of the church gathered—where men are to lead the people in worship of God.
As it turns out, women should not be totally silent all the time. In fact, they should be quite loud, as long as they are telling the truth about God and His world. Godly women should be glad to fill the streets with calls for godliness and wisdom. They should be especially glad to fill the ears of their children with the wisdom of God.
Additionally, the woman’s voice should be full of warning. It is a difficult thing to train up a child in the way he should go. Hearts are prone to wander and sin and choose foolishness—and a loving mother tells her children that the wide path leads to death. She does not equivocate on this. She states it simply and often, that it is not only godly to refrain from sin, but also worldly wise to refrain.
And for her children who learn, she takes them into the deep knowledge of God. As an overflow of having drunk deeply at His waters, she will tell of His faithfulness to the saints of old and to her family. She will speak of trying times and how God sustained her. So, while God has ordained that men should lead the church, He has also ordained that men should learn from women.