Day 10: No Weapon

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you...No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 54:10-15;17, NIV)

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Trials in life shake us to the core. Good things which seem to be full of beauty and triumph are removed from our lives. Sadness and suffering rushes in to replace what we thought was stability. Yet today, we find an ultimate truth from our Lord. His unfailing love is unshakable and His covenant of peace is irrevocable.

The people of Israel needed this prophetic promise. Their borders were ransacked and destroyed on multiple occasions. Enemies were a constant. Their homes were unstable. And their sense of security was but a distant memory. Throughout the book of Isaiah, Israel is noted as being unfaithful, flaky, and irresponsible. 

But into their hearts, the Lord speaks: "Afflicted city, I will rebuild you...In righteousness you will be established."

We could hear it like this... "Afflicted heart, afflicted mind, afflicted thoughts, afflicted soul, afflicted sense of purpose/meaning, afflicted child, I will rebuild you. In righteousness you will be established."

And then a shift takes place in the prophetic words of Isaiah.

Now, I wish - like REALLY wish - I had the time to dive deep into this with you, but I pray that this short devotion will do this reality shift justice. 

You see, Chapters 50-54 of Isaiah beautifully illustrate the coming of our Savior, Jesus, the Messiah. On multiple occasions, Isaiah dictates the life, the humility, the obedience, the sacrifice, and the victory of our Lord. (If you have time this weekend, read through these chapters!)

Each time, Jesus is not given a name - instead, He is assigned a series of words to describe Him. One used most often is the word "Servant." In fact, Jesus is depicted as being the "LORD's Righteous Servant" in chapter 54, right before the passage above.

This is the first time in Isaiah that the word "righteous" has been so highly definitive of a person. As stated throughout the Gospels, our Jesus is righteousness. And what follows in Isaiah is utterly beautiful. After the work accomplished by this Righteous Servant, the LORD states that He will rebuild the people and remake them in a foundation of righteousness; the same definition that He just gave His Servant. 

And in this new state He promises: nothing can harm them. No weapon formed against them will stand and no accusation that is spoken will stick. In righteousness, they will stand.

And notice the word choice of Isaiah: "this is the heritage of the servants of the LORD..."

Now, you may see this as a little detail, but this is the first time that Isaiah defines the collective people of Israel as being "servants" of the LORD. In an instant, the word "Servant," found throughout chapters 50-54 to define Jesus, becomes plural. And in six other instances following this, the word "servant" now reads "servants."

From the moment of Christ's victory and onward, He is no longer separated from the people that He came to save. The Servant of the LORD is now one with the "servants" of the Lord. What He has, He has given to us. We are now Kingdom heirs.

This is why weapons fail.
This is why accusations become falsified.
For righteousness cannot be touched.
And righteousness cannot be accused.

I don't know where you are in your life. I do not know what circumstance is surrounding you. But what I do know is that the Righteous Servant of the Lord suffered so that we - you and I - could be reestablished in a foundation that is eternally untouchable.

You may feel shaken, but rest assured, Christ is in you.
You may feel broken, but rest assured, Christ is in you.
You may feel bruised, but rest assured, Christ is in you.
You may feel run down, but rest assured, Christ is in you.

Greg, Declare Glory

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Day 9: Giver of Strength

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stable and fall; but those who hope in the the Lord will renew their strength, they soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

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My capacity to rely on the strength of another is quite slim. 

I can say that I need people. I can even offer them ways to "assist" me. But deep down, I do not extend my true needs. Why? Because I trust in my ability. I am confident in my power. I am certain of my strengths. And I know how I like things done.

Though this is probably true for the majority of us, it is a symptom of a large, false belief: If I try hard enough, I - on my own - can make things better.

In fact, at a young age, we are ingrained this principle. That if we put our whole selves into it, then we will accomplish it. That if we try hard enough, we will succeed. And if we press in, do more, and discipline daily, then we will become strong enough to handle it.

Yet, this does not turn out so well. In our pursuit of strength, we demolish relationships. We effect our hearts. We break down our capacity to love. And we become consumed with pride, bitterness, or insecurity.

Human strength will always have an end; a crash; a fall. 

But then I look at the passage above and become incredibly humbled. The focus of "capability" is certainly not on us... Let's read it in a different way:

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Greg [or insert your name] is not the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the Earth.
He will certainly grow tired and weary,
His understanding is so fathomable...

In focusing on our pursuit of strength, we quickly forget the Giver of Strength. For unlike my existence, God is everlasting; the Creator of everything. Unlike my fading abilities, He is unwavering in strength and might. And unlike my feeble mind, His wisdom and knowledge is unimaginable. 

And in His great power, He graces people with all that He has. And notice who Isaiah states are the receivers of God's great strength and power...The weary and the weak who hope in the Lord.

What if your inability to feel God's strength stems from your inability to name your weaknesses? What if your doubt of God's power comes from your desire to keep quiet your inner weariness? And what if your bitterness towards your situation is only magnified because you will not admit your needs?

If that is you, then name your weaknesses, voice your weariness, and admit your needs.

But notice the second part...For there those of you reading this who currently feel so weak and weary. You feel as if you are dragging your limbs through each moment. And you fight daily to remain somewhat "put together."

Your take-away is to hope. Regardless of your weakness, God's promise of strength is extended to those who place their hope - their expectations, their ideas of what is to come, and their lives from now on - in the mighty power of the Lord.

This is the hard task of handing your weaknesses to the Lord, while focusing on His capacity to hold them, mold then, and strengthen your soul. This is when you soar, run, and walk in the might of the Lord.

Today, respond to the Lord sufficiently, for He will show up in your weakness.

Greg, Declare Glory

Today's image by God's Fingerprints:

Day 8: Our Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23, NIV)

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Take a moment to think about the “leaders” in your life.

Your parents, your boss, your teachers...think about them. Think of their leadership. Think of how they try to guide you. Think of how they shape you.

Now, pause. Really allow your mind to go there. Remember the interactions. Remember the conversations. Remember it all.

After thinking about how I have been led by the people in my life, a lot of their strengths come to mind. I’ve been privileged with many encouraging, smart, and dedicated leaders. I remember many instances of being loved and positively shaped by them.

At the same time, I can’t help but think of the ways I’ve been let down by my leaders. Though I look to them for guidance, direction, and counsel, they are still humans. Just like me, they are imperfect.

Sometimes my leaders are even the cause of pain for me and those around me. Because of their humanity, they are capable of making decisions that can be harmful.

When I read “the Lord is my shepherd,” I immediately jump to the idea of a leader. A shepherd guides and protects their sheep. If the Lord is my shepherd, it means that the perfect Creator of the universe is my leader. I sometimes have trouble really believing this promise from the Lord.

The reason I have trouble with it is because I can often see God through the lens of my earthly leaders’ qualities...their strengths and their faults. However, this Psalm reminds us exactly what kind of leader God is.

God has wired us to rest.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for hHis name’s sake.

He makes us lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside quiet waters. God has formed us in a way that requires us to rest in Him. In His perfect shepherding and leadership, He shows us how to rest and leads us to places where we can do so.

God promises to be with us in our troubles. 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

God doesn’t deny or overlook our trials, but walks through them with us. He shows us the best guidance and leadership by actively involving Himself in our lives despite our circumstance.

God rewards and protects. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Yet another facet of the Lord’s leadership is to show us love through the giving of good gifts. He feeds us and fulfills our needs in ways that Satan and our enemies cannot destroy.

Everyday, we need this reminder of who God is and how He shepherds and leads us. It is a simple, hopeful, and clear reminder of His character.

He shepherds in a way that fulfills our every need. He leads in a way that none of our earthly leaders could measure up to. He has chosen to be invested in the lives of His creation. He follows through on His promises. And he is worthy of our trust.

When I remember that kind of leadership, I can’t help but be thankful. Today, let us rest in this promise; that despite our perception, our God is leading and guiding us.

Declare Glory
[guest writer: Steve Sullivant]

Today's Image by God's Fingerprints:

Day 7: Great Faithfulness

I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, "My splender is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD." I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are every morning; great is Your faithfulness... (Lamentations 3:17-23, NRSV)

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Have you ever been here?

In a place of affliction, misfortune, and wandering? A place where your present circumstance is more of an "ever-present" reminder than God's grace seems to be?

Times like these feel busy; full of things to accomplish, chaos to reorder, and missing pieces to regather. Your marriage feels like a wreck. Your home feels like a wreck. Your sense of purpose feels like a wreck. Your identity feels like a wreck.

And instantly, to the top of our to-do lists come everything needed to simply "make it" another day. Though our bodies are moving and working, our souls are as downcast - as low, tired, and unmoved - as ever.

Let's face it: We have all been there.
Some of us may be

And much like the writer, remembering our afflictions may feel all-consuming. I mention this action verb because it is used multiple times at the beginning of today's passage, yet quickly replaced with the phrase "call to mind." 

The difference between these two Hebrew words is transformative.

The word for "remember" means to name, mention, or make known. In this action, we simply bring into words - or thoughts - the state of our situation. We name things as bad, unchangeable, or terrible. We mention and make them known them over and over in conversations with God, with others, and - let's face it - even with ourselves.

This growing state of remembrance can become negative for our hearts - for it is the feeder of bitterness and despair. Why? Because in our already limited perception, we tend to become selective with what our eyes see and what our minds name.

Good is not gone, it's unnoticed. Grace is not absolute, it's overshadowed. And God is not absent, He is overlooked. In our remembering, we choose to mention only half of our situation.

But like today's writer, we must do the hard discipline of "calling to mind."

This word, believe it or not, is very different than remembering. Instead of naming or mentioning what is, "calling to mind" means turning back to what remains. As I look into this Hebrew phrase, it is not focused on the present, but instead, an underlying belief or truth that was, is, and will always be. Sounds familiar, right?

You see, "calling to mind" takes us out of our present-time while causing us to be ever more connected to the real present-time. We focus not on naming our faults, but on restoring our focus.

And like today's writer, "this [we] call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed..."

There is much to remember, but because of the LORD, we are not consumed by it. There is much going on that feels distracting, but because of the LORD, we are not consumed by it. There is much falling apart, but because of the LORD, we are not consumed by it. And there is much unanswered, but because of the LORD, we are not consumed by it.

His compassions never fail. As certain as the morning sun is the coming of His grace. A promise that we should all call to mind, refocus upon, and be restored by is God's great faithfulness.

Today, choose to move beyond dull remembrance. Instead, refocus your heart on His character. For He is present; loving compassionately, offering grace upon grace, and extending mercy all around you.

Thank you for joining us. Please let us know your thoughts on today's devotion by commenting on our latest Instagram post! (Find it at

Greg, Declare Glory

Today's image from God's Fingerprints:

Day 6: New Creation

From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:16-20, NIV) 

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Everybody is changing. 

In fact, the vast majority of people are intentionally taking steps to drastically alter the future from their current course of life.

No matter what you would like to change, one thing holds true for all of us: Our soul longs for change too. Only, our soul is not looking to read about change, or attend a seminar. It is looking for an experience that it can only attain in Jesus Christ. It is looking for refreshment in God, a revival of purpose, and a removal from vain pursuits.

This promise - of being made new - resonates with our soul because it is truth.

But one thing to always remember as a, “new creation,” is that Jesus didn’t make our sin good, or make us strong enough to simply carry our regrets as baggage.

Instead, He renewed us in HIMSELF, fresh and new!

Sin cannot be fixed, it is in its very nature a rebellion against God. Because of Christ, our soul can declare freedom; for sin was not fixed in us, it was demolished. You can personalize this scripture in prayer as, “Therefore, I am in Christ, and I am a new creation.” 

EXPERIENCE life in His abundance,
LIVE as we were created to,
and WORSHIP Jesus as Lord and Savior.

This promise, at it’s most foundational level, is our hope. Hope is not a destination, but a journey. 

What are you facing today? Are you still trying to move past yesterday? Are you mentally preparing for what today holds? Whatever you face and wherever you are, remember, if you are in Christ, you are a new creation!

Take a moment right now to embrace and apply this promise, this truth.

YOU, are a new creation in Christ. YOU, are not defined by your sins, failures, disappointments, or personal achievements. YOU, are created with purpose.

“The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

The change your soul longs for can only take place, “in Christ.” So wherever you are today, no matter what happens, you can EXPERIENCE, LIVE, and WORSHIP Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In Him, you are redeemed.

Declare Glory
[guest writer: Jeremy Kuehn]

Today's image from God's Fingerprints:

Day 5: I Will Go With You

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is Your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless You go with us? What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me Your glory.” (Exodus 33:12-18, NRSV)

- - - - -

Lord, I know that You brought me here, but... 
God, I know that You are at work, but...
Jesus, I know that You have given me this calling, but...
God, I know You've blessed me with these children, but...
Lord, You say that You love me, but...

...This doesn't feel good.
...It's just not working out.
...I feel like I am missing something.
...I must be doing something wrong.
...This is not what I thought it would be.

Without a doubt, we have - and will continue to have - moments like this. Moments where we hold up our hands - full of what God said He would, promised He has, and declared already - and compare it with the opposition found in our current situations.

God, where? God, how? God, what? God, why?

All of these seem to be valid questions... But in the moment, they are merely our doubts and fears masqueraded by lofty inquiries. 

We worry that things won't change. So we ask the questions, but do not wait for the answer. We speak our concerns in tones of anger and resentment, but do not linger in meekness for a real response. We prod for reasons, but forsake submission.

In today's passage, Moses approaches the Lord with concerns - but finds himself willing to see the bigger picture.

His initial request: Lord, if you want me to lead these people, I need to know who You will send with me to help me? In short, Moses knew the extravagance of what was before him and he wanted the practical answer to his fears; a human helper. He wanted to know the physical change that God would make in order for everything to "fall in it's place." 

Moses wanted a seeable answer. Something tangible. Ever been there?

But instead, God gives him something grand; a divine promise more helpful than any human companion. One that He, too, declares over us. He says, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Notice that Moses didn't ask for rest. Notice that Moses didn't ask if God would go with him. Notice that this does not seem like an answer to Moses' question.

But Moses chooses to dive into it. And in the series of sentences following, Moses states (this is paraphrased, of course): "I need Your Presence more than human help. Without You, no one will know that we are different. We need You. Show me Your glory..."

Moses figured out in this instance something so dire for you and I today.

You see, the why, the what, the where, the how, and even the little who's do not matter. Yes, we think they do. Yes, we believe that filling in these blanks will fix things for us.

But instead of all of this, the answer - what distinguishes our lives from the world - is found in only one divine "Who;" a God whose presence is grander than any unanswered inquiry. A God whose faithfulness may not answer every detail, but will provide rest-filled hope. And a God whose very being will guide, strengthen, and mend us right where we are.

When concerned with answers and plagued with doubts, let us remember the response of Moses; to intentionally choose not to dwell on anything other than our necessity for God.

Let us ask Him to show us...Him - His glory and grandeur; not just what His glory and grandeur can (or should, in our minds) do for us. Today, request for Him to "show you His glory."

Greg, Declare Glory

Today's image by God's Fingerprints:

Day 4: Everything Beautiful

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toils — this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear Him. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9-14

- - - - -

This is a strange passage.
Ecclesiastes is a strange book.

Many parts seem negative. This chapter starts with a list of all the seasons we have to endure in life. It also clearly points out the burden of our toil, and the seemingly lack of gain from it. We ask ourselves: “Why do I have to go through this?” “What is the point of what I’m doing?"

Honestly, these are the questions I have been asking myself for a while now. I am not in a “good” season. I’m in a hard one. I don’t even feel like I should be writing this devotion because it is coming from a place of utter brokenness, loneliness, and confusion.

I wish I could snap my fingers and understand how this part of my life plays into the glorious picture of God’s Kingdom. I wish I could create a new season for myself, one of joy and celebration. But I know that these things would not lead me closer to Christ, though they seem easier.

There is a time for everything. Each point of our lives serves a purpose, and that purpose can only be met in the path that God has placed us on, difficult or easy. The things He wishes us to learn and do in each season can only be done then; they cannot be profitable outside of that time table. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. This is the promise. His sovereignty is creating a beautiful masterpiece of our lives. Woven throughout our peaks and valleys is a story of His goodness and faithfulness. Our stories will be complete in Him. 

Sometimes I think of verse 11, “If I just wait, everything will be perfect and exactly how I want. So I’ll just wait for God to fix it.” Yet, I do not believe this verse is about circumstances, but instead, about His many promises to us. We do not understand beauty. What we think is beautiful and right for us, may not be. God’s standard of beauty is Himself.

He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. We will not fully grasp the gain from each season until eternity. We are not capable of even imagining the grand ways of God. This seems frustrating, but it is what creates trust in Him and His plans. 

We can trust that in every season, He will keep His promises - the beauty of the fulfillment of Christ in us, nothing added, nothing taken away. Each segment of our lives will ultimately point to Him, and there is the beauty.

God’s story is one of miraculous beauty, and we each have a significant part to play. We can begin trusting today that the beauty in our seasons is, in fact, Him.

Let that be enough for you today.

Kate, Declare Glory

Today's Image from God's Fingerprints:

Day 3: He Comforts

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings,so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

- - - - -

"We share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ..."

If you think about it, this is not a verse that you expect to see beautifully illustrated on an Instagram feed or hand lettered into the perfect wall art. Why? Because it is hard. Difficult. Unattractive. And uncomfortable.

We, as humans, do not like to suffer. And it is certainly not something that we like to discuss or admit, let alone display vividly for all to see. 

Instead, our fallen world tells us to hide suffering. Cover it. Mask it. Fake it.

But as Paul writes, we share with Christ in His suffering so that we too can share with Him in His blessings. Because of our faith in Jesus, our suffering is not pointed to death. Instead, every bit of our pain and toil is worked together to produce life-giving comfort; eternal comfort.

But I love the real focus of this passage.

You see...If you look at it, it is not centered on our suffering OR our comfort. Paul is not trying to get us to focus on our current state at all. Instead, the focus is on the comfort that we can (and are called to) extend to others. Each time we do so, our past suffering is given way to producing life in others.

To often, I overlook the beautiful opportunity that I have each and every day to produce life-giving comfort from my suffering....all by extending grace upon grace to those who are hurting around me.

The other week, this rang true in my life.

In an unexpected conversation, I felt something swell up in me to a degree that I had never felt before. I was listening to the hard and vulnerable confession of another. He sat in my home and disclosed sins and struggles that he had left buried inside for many, many years.

At first, I was disappointed. Upset. Angry at him for withholding this from me for so long.

But then a switch happened in my heart. In a flash, I began acting from what I have known - from what I have been shown. I came in close to him and offered a type of compassion and love that I had never felt come from me before.

It was as if my mind went behind as my spirit stepped forward to self-disclose, encourage, call out, and build up. And as this was happening, I realized something extraordinary: Everything that I was doing had been done for me by others.

The way that I vulnerably spoke was how it was spoken to me. The way that I encouraged was how I was encouraged. The way that I offered grace was how I was offered grace. And the forgiveness that poured from my heart was the same forgiveness that was poured into my heart. 

And it hit me: This is why I have suffered. This is what God means in His promise to make all things good. This is why my testimony is the way it is. For this reason. For this moment. And every moment like it. So that I can share over and over the life-giving comfort that I was given.

You see, our sufferings and our comforts are to never end with us. Instead, they are to always flow through us.

If you think about it, this is the way of Christ. His suffering has been made known to us so that His comfort may do the same. And you and I have the calling to imitate Christ - to be vulnerable about our suffering so that it flows from us to comfort those around us.

Whether you recognize this or not, your suffering is powerful in God's economy; for He always takes suffering and produces life. It is a God-given promise. It may not be as we expect. And it certainly may not be in our preferred time table. But our faithful God has promised to comfort us SO THAT WE may extend that life-giving comfort to others.

Here are some practical take-aways...

1. What are some of the ways that God has comforted you in your suffering? Sometimes this is easier to list out when thinking through WHO He has used to comfort you. Ask yourself: What did they do? How did they show me love? Encouragement? Grace? Hope? What sentences did they say that have stuck with me? 

2. Who is someone that you can extend comfort to today? Perhaps they just simply need to hear your story of suffering. Maybe they need the exact display of comfort that you were given.

We pray that the Lord teaches you incredible things about His depth of love while you extend His comfort to others.

Greg, Declare Glory

Today's image from God's Fingerprints:

Day 2: Free Indeed

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered Him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36, ESV)

- - - - -

Freedom is attractive.

Children grow weary of bedtimes, the constant restraint in the toy sections of stores, and  in having to eat their vegetables. Teenagers long for the day when parents no longer restrain them with guidelines, time limits, rules, and regulations.

You may chuckle at these examples, knowing full well: “They will realize when they are older. These things are good for them, and they’ll do it to their kids too!” So lets try something closer to home:

College students eagerly hunt to find the right career, hoping to be free from student loan payments. Those in the workforce hope one day to own their own business, free from the restraints of their employer; or simply to retire well - free to live their life unshackled.

The whole world surrounds freedom with celebration. America is praised as a great nation because of its liberties. People have fled hostile territory, at the risk of their lives, to arrive in a land where no one else dictates life for them.

Freedom certainly does sound attractive; but are we striving for the right thing? Is this kind of freedom actually what we want?

Before we dive into our passage today, let me make a bold claim: Your “freedom” might be sin.

Certainly, freedom is worth celebrating, and it is clearly a promise of God; but what God has actually promised us may not align with our cultural understandings of what we hope freedom to be.

In today’s passage, Jesus is speaking again to a large group of people. Many had heard Him and believed in Him, and to those people He spoke truth; however, the Pharisees were close by to respond (representing the they in verse 33). While He spoke freedom for those who had been lost in sin, the Pharisees, with their understanding of freedom, spoke up.

They make a bold statement: “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you will say, “You will become free?”

The Jews had been enslaved by seven mighty nations, as we see in the book of Judges. The ten Northern tribes had been carried away as captives by Assyria, and the two Southern tribes had gone into seventy years of captivity in Babylon. In fact, at that very moment, the Jews were under the iron heel of Rome!

Yet recognizing their pride, Jesus responds on a deeper level than just national captivity. If you practice sin - you belong to sin. Another potential translation of this verse would be: If you remain in your sin - you belong to it. A simple way to phrase this truth is:

What we remain in, we belong to.

He continues: “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.” There is a difference between slavery and sonship. A slave may live in the house, but a son belongs to the house.

Now, we return to the first thing Jesus said in this passage: If you abide - or remain in - My word, you are truly my disciple. When we remain in Christ, we know truth - and the truth is freedom. Freedom does not mean that we dictate our own direction, our own lifestyle, or even call our own shots.

Freedom is remaining in the Truth.

I truly believe that we have made freedom sinful and selfish. In our younger years, we desire to be at the wheel of our own lives, calling the shots and charting the map forward. In every example we gave from the perspective of children, teenagers, and young adults; the goal was autonomy, or, a strong individualism to what is wanted.

Leave it up to a child, and they will always choose what they want over what they need. Accelerate it a few more years, and we see the same grapple for control, but now in the form of our workplace or our retirement. Simply put: freedom can easily be misrepresented as selfish control.

Freedom in Christ, however, does not always look like the American Dream. It’s not a quiet life that does what it wants, when it wants, because we are “free” to do so. Freedom in Christ is freedom from sin. He frees us from our slavery to sin, and provides a true home in Him - an inheritance in God’s House, that we would remain forever.

So what does this mean for us? Let me be clear: we still enjoy and experience a great deal of individualism thanks to God’s grace. For the majority of us, we are blessed to have a lot of autonomy over our own lives. The point we are illustrating is not to ignore the freedoms of our country and our life, but to reevaluate what true freedom looks like.

You were not set free for control - you were set free to be with Christ.

I think we often use our freedoms poorly by living life as “free Christians” without sincerely taking time to turn back to the God who first freed us.

If you are not abiding in His Word, you only know a superficial freedom that might be more about control than Christ. Do not let your job situation, your family, your country, your status, or anything else define your freedom. Let the Son set you free by remaining in Him.

So today, thank God for your freedoms. Be grateful that we are able to make decisions for ourselves, our family, in our jobs, and in many areas of our lives; but let us not get too far away from what freedom truly is: remaining in Christ and His Word, delivered from the shackles of sin to a glorious future.

You are free from sin. Celebrate your freedom by leaning in even deeper to submission to Christ and His word.

Declare Glory
guest writer: Andrew Layden

Today's Image by God's Fingerprints:


Day 1: He Who Promised

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23, NIV)

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Spirit-filled confidence is empowering.

In fact, there is something so intrinsically beautiful about it... A confident believer inspires, encourages, declares, convicts, welcomes, serves, leads, and proclaims the glory of Christ so vividly. And within this passage, we discover something so foundational to authentic confidence.

The author of Hebrews wants us to know this principle: Confidence is the product of seeable results and hopeful expectations. And yes, please read that again if you need to.

When a believer "sees" - knows, perceives, understands, is made aware of - the promises of God, they are led to engage their hearts and minds with "hopeful expectations." And when this hope grows and develops, confidence is produced. 

Let's think about it practically...

When I know that I am new... When I perceive the complete change that has occurred in my soul... When I understand that Jesus, my great High Priest, has torn everything that separates me from His presence... When I am made aware of the work that His Spirit is doing to cleanse my guilty conscience and wash me pure and pure, I begin to engage my heart and mind with grand beliefs of what God is doing and will do.

This hope causes me to look for Him more. Dwell a little longer in my sincere prayers. Become a little quicker at confessing my sins. Rest a little stronger in His constant peace. Step out in boldness a little more and more throughout my day. And make requests that are much greater, wider, and deeper than ever before... Because in each instance, I know that He is there and is faithful.

And this, my friends, is the empowering display of spirit-filled confidence. We live radical lives of love because we fully believe the radical love of God.

I long for it. I long for it in my marriage. In my children. In my church. In my city. And I long for it within you.

But in my constant struggle with insecurity, doubt, fear, worry, and stress, this concept feels distant and impossible. If I pause and dissect my heart, I can notice the places where I have left gaps in that "confidence principle" that I spoke of earlier. Instead of seeing God's hand, I often see my own. Instead of seeing His work, I begin comparing mine.

In fact, if you and I took time and thought up every moment where we lacked spirit-filled confidence, we would notice something quite consistent. In every case, our hearts overlook what IS because of God and we begin to concentrate our thoughts on what IS because of us (or our situation, season, circumstance, etc). 

Each act of in-confidence is the ill-fruit of us unknowing, misperceiving, misunderstanding, or being made "unaware of" God's promises; His decrees to us, over us, and about us.

What if the very reason we have struggled with confidence in our faith is due to our habit of overlooking God's promises? What if all it took was an intentional recap? A time of renewal, remembrance, and meditation on those fundamental truths?

I don't know about you, but this causes me to desire a deeper understanding of what my great God has promised to me, His child.

And this is exactly what this new series is all about. 

For the next two weeks, join us as we dive into 9 other life-changing promises that our faithful God has spoken over us. Throughout it, you will notice something very cool... We have decided to team up with Jason and Laura van Dyk from God's Fingerprints, a gifted couple who have illustrated and designed beautiful art to capture these promises.

We would love for you to follow along, bring in a friend or two to join you, give your feedback throughout the series in our Instagram account, AND check out some of their artwork. Every day will showcase another piece!

We pray that you will join us as we discover the spirit-filled confidence that arises from knowing God's promises.

Greg, Declare Glory

Today's Image by God's Fingerprints: