The Pilgrim’s Path: Devotions for Life’s Journey, Day 14

Today’s reading is drawn from 1 John 2:3-6.


Discovering God: Life With God


How do Christians live? Like Jesus. Why do Christians live that way? Because they know and love their forgiver and leader. What if people say they know and love Jesus but don’t live like him? Then, according to this passage, their claims are empty.

Are you a spiritual explorer? You need to know that using only your own power and will, you’ll never be able to live like Jesus. Don’t even try. But when you do become his follower, follow him. In other words, live like him.

With God’s power at work in you, such a lifestyle is possible. When you accept God’s help, the changes you’ll notice will prove that something supernatural has happened in your life.

Bible Gateway

Bible Audio Study

The Second Census

26 After the plague, the Lord said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, “Take a census of the entire Israelite community by their ancestral families of those twenty years old or more who can serve in Israel’s army.”

So Moses and the priest Eleazar said to them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, “Take a census of those twenty years old or more, as the Lord had commanded Moses and the Israelites who came out of the land of Egypt.”

Reuben was the firstborn of Israel.

Reuben’s descendants:

the Hanochite clan from Hanoch;

the Palluite clan from Pallu;

the Hezronite clan from Hezron;

the Carmite clan from Carmi.

These were the Reubenite clans,

and their registered men numbered 43,730.

The son of Pallu was Eliab.

The sons of Eliab were Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram.

(It was Dathan and Abiram, chosen by the community, who fought against Moses and Aaron; they and Korah’s followers fought against the Lord. 10 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them with Korah, when his followers died and the fire consumed 250 men. They serve as a warning sign. 11 The sons of Korah, however, did not die.)

12 Simeon’s descendants by their clans:

the Nemuelite clan from Nemuel;

the Jaminite clan from Jamin;

the Jachinite clan from Jachin;

13 the Zerahite clan from Zerah;

the Shaulite clan from Shaul.

14 These were the Simeonite clans, numbering 22,200 men.

15 Gad’s descendants by their clans:

the Zephonite clan from Zephon;

the Haggite clan from Haggi;

the Shunite clan from Shuni;

16 the Oznite clan from Ozni;

the Erite clan from Eri;

17 the Arodite clan from Arod;

the Arelite clan from Areli.

18 These were the Gadite clans numbered by their registered men: 40,500.

19 Judah’s sons included Er and Onan, but they died in the land of Canaan. 20 Judah’s descendants by their clans:

the Shelanite clan from Shelah;

the Perezite clan from Perez;

the Zerahite clan from Zerah.

21 The descendants of Perez:

the Hezronite clan from Hezron;

the Hamulite clan from Hamul.

22 These were Judah’s clans numbered by their registered men: 76,500.

23 Issachar’s descendants by their clans:

the Tolaite clan from Tola;

the Punite clan from Puvah;

24 the Jashubite clan from Jashub;

the Shimronite clan from Shimron.

25 These were Issachar’s clans numbered by their registered men: 64,300.

26 Zebulun’s descendants by their clans:

the Seredite clan from Sered;

the Elonite clan from Elon;

the Jahleelite clan from Jahleel.

27 These were the Zebulunite clans numbered by their registered men: 60,500.

28 Joseph’s descendants by their clans from Manasseh and Ephraim:

29 Manasseh’s descendants:

the Machirite clan from Machir.

Machir fathered Gilead;

the Gileadite clan from Gilead.

30 These were Gilead’s descendants:

the Iezerite clan from Iezer;

the Helekite clan from Helek;

31 the Asrielite clan from Asriel;

the Shechemite clan from Shechem;

32 the Shemidaite clan from Shemida;

the Hepherite clan from Hepher;

33 Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons—only daughters. The names of Zelophehad’s daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

34 These were Manasseh’s clans, numbered by their registered men: 52,700.

35 These were Ephraim’s descendants by their clans:

the Shuthelahite clan from Shuthelah;

the Becherite clan from Becher;

the Tahanite clan from Tahan.

36 These were Shuthelah’s descendants:

the Eranite clan from Eran.

37 These were the Ephraimite clans numbered by their registered men: 32,500.

These were Joseph’s descendants by their clans.

38 Benjamin’s descendants by their clans:

the Belaite clan from Bela;

the Ashbelite clan from Ashbel;

the Ahiramite clan from Ahiram;

39 the Shuphamite clan from Shupham;

the Huphamite clan from Hupham.

40 Bela’s descendants from Ard and Naaman:

the Ardite clan from Ard;

the Naamite clan from Naaman.

41 These were the Benjaminite clans numbered by their registered men: 45,600.

42 These were Dan’s descendants by their clans:

the Shuhamite clan from Shuham.

These were the clans of Dan by their clans.

43 All the Shuhamite clans numbered by their registered men: 64,400.

44 Asher’s descendants by their clans:

the Imnite clan from Imnah;

the Ishvite clan from Ishvi;

the Beriite clan from Beriah.

45 From Beriah’s descendants:

the Heberite clan from Heber;

the Malchielite clan from Malchiel.

46 And the name of Asher’s daughter was Serah.

47 These were the Asherite clans numbered by their registered men: 53,400.

48 Naphtali’s descendants by their clans:

the Jahzeelite clan from Jahzeel;

the Gunite clan from Guni;

49 the Jezerite clan from Jezer;

the Shillemite clan from Shillem.

50 These were the Naphtali clans numbered by their registered men: 45,400.

51 These registered Israelite men numbered 601,730.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.


Luke 2:36-52

Anna’s Testimony

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Family’s Return to Nazareth

39 When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on him.

In His Father’s House

41 Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. 43 After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming he was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days, they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all those who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked them. “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them.

In Favor with God and with People

51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.


Psalm 60

Psalm 60

Prayer in Difficult Times

For the choir director: according to “The Lily of Testimony.” A Miktam of David for teaching. When he fought with Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah, and Joab returned and struck Edom in Salt Valley, killing twelve thousand.

God, you have rejected us;
you have broken us down;
you have been angry. Restore us!
You have shaken the land and split it open.
Heal its fissures, for it shudders.
You have made your people suffer hardship;
you have given us wine to drink
that made us stagger.
You have given a signal flag to those who fear you,
so that they can flee before the archers.Selah
Save with your right hand, and answer me,
so that those you love may be rescued.

God has spoken in his sanctuary:
“I will celebrate!
I will divide up Shechem.
I will apportion the Valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine,
and Ephraim is my helmet;
Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin.
I throw my sandal on Edom;
I shout in triumph over Philistia.”

Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10 God, haven’t you rejected us?
God, you do not march out with our armies.
11 Give us aid against the foe,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will perform valiantly;
he will trample our foes.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.


Proverbs 11:15

15 If someone puts up security for a stranger,
he will suffer for it,
but the one who hates such agreements is protected.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.


Justice in the Psalms, Day 1

Today’s reading is drawn from Psalm 10, Psalm 82, and Psalm 56

The Psalms are songs to God. They were collected over many years and became Israel’s hymnbook. They bring life into the presence of God—all of life, not just the spiritual parts. All the circumstances of life, and all the emotions—delight, thankfulness, horror, fury—are brought to worship.

These deeply emotional poems have a theme: the struggle to set the world right. The psalmists praise God for his mighty works of justice, and they plead with God: Save me from evil. Come and judge the world. Set things right. The Psalms teach us how to pray about everything. Most of all, they teach us how to pray about justice.

Because of God’s concern for justice, many psalms speak of guarding the rights of the poor, defending the vulnerable and protecting them from violence (which almost by definition is the strong bashing the weak). Troublemakers, liars and cheaters are called to accounts. For the psalm writers, judgment is not something to dread; rather, it is something to pray for and dream of—because God judges with justice.

The Psalms are the emotional and spiritual diary of God’s people struggling against evil enemies. Dramatic highs and lows fly off almost every page. Sometimes within a single poem, the psalmist goes from serenity to extreme anxiety and back again. He longs for a refuge, a “stronghold.”

God’s justice extends beyond the psalmist’s troubles, beyond the life of Israel, to a great future for the whole world. “All nations” are meant to sing God’s praise; “all nations” will someday be counted as God’s people. This, too, is justice: the blessings that God promised to Abraham for the whole world.

They do understand, however, that God is at work to set a violent and unjust world right. The Psalms wake us up and enlarge our minds and feelings. They teach us how to pray for the weak and the vulnerable. They teach us how to pray as the weak and the vulnerable. We, too, can sing the songs of justice.

— Tim Stafford, United States (excerpted from the book introduction to Psalms)

Bible Gateway

Today’s Reading

Galatians 2:10

Why does God allow so many of his children to be poor? He could make them all rich if he pleased; he could lay bags of gold at their doors; he could send them a large annual income; or he could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that he sees it to be best. “The cattle upon a thousand hills are his”–he could supply them; he could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of his children, for the hearts of all men are in his control. t he does not choose to do so; he allows them to suffer want, he allows them to pine in penury and obscurity. Why is this? There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in alms-giving to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord’s flock–remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart–recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself.


“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Matthew 5:9

This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker. There is a significance also in the position of the text. The verse which precedes it speaks of the blessedness of “the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” It is well to understand that we are to be “first pure, then peaceable.” Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or toleration of evil. We must set our faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and his holiness: purity being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness. Not less does the verse that follows seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood: and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, by his very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He himself, though he loved mankind, and did no ill, was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Thus, the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude! Purify our minds that we may be “first pure, then peaceable,” and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into cowardice and despair, when for thy sake we are persecuted.

Bible Gateway

Today’s Reading

Screwtape examines the virtue of Humility:

Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggles into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By Jove! I’m being humble’, and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don’t try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humor and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.

But there are other profitable ways of fixing his attention on the virtue of Humility. By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy wants to turn the man’s attention away from self to Him, and to the man’s neighbors. All the abjection and self-hatred are designed, in the long run, solely for this end; unless they attain this end they do us little harm, and they may even do us good if they keep the man concerned with himself, and, above all, if self-contempt can be made the starting point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.

From The Screwtape Letters
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 1942, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Bible Gateway

Jesus Will Finish the Mission

Bible Gateway

This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

I don’t know any more inspiring missionary promise than this word from Jesus.

Not: This gospel should be preached.
Not: This gospel might be preached.
But: This gospel will be preached.

This is not a great commission, nor a great commandment. It is a great certainty, a great confidence.

Who can dare talk like that? How does he know it will? How can he be sure the church will not fail in its missionary task?

Answer: The grace of missionary service is as irresistible as the grace of regeneration. Christ can promise universal proclamation because he is sovereign. He knows the future success of missions because he makes the future. All the nations will hear!

A “nation” is not a modern “country.” When the Old Testament spoke of nations, it referred to groups like Jebusites and Perizites and Hivites and Amorites and Moabites and Canaanites and Philistines. “Nations” are ethnic groups with their own peculiar culture. Psalm 117:1: “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!

As the sovereign Son of God and Lord of the church, Jesus simply took up this divine purpose and stated as an absolute certainty: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations.

The cause of world missions is absolutely assured of success. It cannot fail. Is it not reasonable, then, that we pray with great faith, that we invest with great confidence, and that we go with a sense of sure triumph?


Discarded People

Bible Gateway

God calls us to change the way we look at people. Not to see them as Gentiles or Jews, insiders or outsiders, liberals or conservatives. Not to a label. To label is to libel. “We have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them” (2 Cor. 5:16 NLT).

Let’s view people differently; let’s view them as we do ourselves. Blemished, perhaps. Unfinished, for certain. Yet, once rescued and restored, we may shed light, like the two stained-glass windows in my office.

My brother found them on a junkyard heap. Some church had discarded them. Dee, a handy carpenter, reclaimed them. He repainted the chipped wood, repaired the worn frame. He sealed some of the cracks in the colored glass. The windows aren’t perfect. But if suspended where the sun can pass through, they cascade multicolored light into the room.

In our lifetimes, you and I are going to come across some discarded people. Tossed out. Sometimes tossed out by a church. And we get to choose. Neglect or rescue? Label them or love them? We know Jesus’ choice. Just look at what he did with us.


The Sleepy Leader’s Brain

Bible Gateway

God created sleep not only to cure sleepiness but to serve our bodies and brains in many beneficial ways. Unfortunately, many leaders, especially pastors, try to lead without getting adequate sleep and live with a sleepy leader’s brain. When we don’t get enough sleep, our brains don’t work as well. Thus, we don’t lead at our best. So what happens when we don’t get enough sleep, besides feeling sleepy? Here’s what the experts tell us happens to our brains when we don’t get adequate sleep.

Our memory is impaired. Sleep helps turn short-term memory into long-term memory (called consolidation) by strengthening memory traces. Lack of sleep hinders this process.

We don’t learn as well. Related to memory, when our memory is impaired, learning suffers.

We can’t control our emotions as well. Emotional control (called emotional regulation) best happens when we think most clearly. Lack of sleep keeps our executive thinking center (called the pre-frontal cortex) from operating most effectively.

Creativity suffers. When we sleep our brain continues to work. One way it works is by making novel connections which don’t happen as easily during wakefulness. If you rob yourself of sleep you may be robbing yourself of creative insights that otherwise could enhance your leadership.

We don’t recharge our brains and our bodies. The body needs to reset its physiological processes each day to keep in balance (called homeostasis). If you don’t get enough sleep, you can keep your body from resetting its chemical balances. As a result, chronic lack of sleep can put your body in a stress state which keeps the stress hormone cortisol constantly in our system, which damages our bodies and brains.

How’s your sleep pattern? Are you getting enough sleep? What can you do if you believe you are sleep deprived? I listed several suggestions in the previous article where you can take a quiz and learn if you are sleep deprived.

This week’s article is written by Charles Stone (, author of the book, People-Pleasing Pastors. Submitted by Russ Olmon, President of Ministry Advantage, Inc. For more on this and other helpful subjects, go to


Divine Condescension

Bible Gateway

(with Mark Middelberg)

Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:5–7

This is a mind-boggling truth: the Creator—who made the universe and everything in it—humbled himself on our behalf. Though eternally existing “in very nature God,” Jesus was willing to let go of his heavenly position and privileges. He “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

It’s hard to grasp the magnitude of this divine condescension—God becoming one of us. C. S. Lewis explained: “The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language. . . . The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.”

It’s tempting to think that Lewis’s example is a bit extreme. But consider theologian Bruce Ware’s words regarding the incarnation of Christ: “Would this be like you, fully a human being, joining yourself also to the nature of a worm or a slug or a fish? Yes, but . . . no. No matter how lowly the creature was that you joined, it still would be one creature being joined to another creature. We simply cannot imagine or understand what God the Son has done in obedience to his Father when he, the eternal and infinite God, Creator of all that is, came and took on also the nature of small, finite, creaturely manhood.”

While trying to comprehend what God did in becoming human, we should also ask ourselves why he went to such drastic measures.

He did it so he could fulfill his mission of “becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) in order to pay the penalty for our sins, with the ultimate goal that “every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (v. 11).

In other words, he did it for us. He did it so that we could know him and live with him forever—as our forgiver, leader, and friend.

God’s divine condescension should provoke us to praise: “Thank you, Lord, for going to such incomprehensible lengths to become one of us, so that ultimately you could die for my sins, forgive me, and make me your child.”

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