Daily Devotional

The Words of Hope Devotional is a non-profit, donor-supported publication whose goal is to encourage readers to grow in faith through the practice of daily Bible reading and prayer.

Today's Devotional: 
October 19, 2021

The Heart of the Matter

Read: Romans 2:12-29

Circumcision is a matter of the heart . . . (v. 29)

Many people bear physical symbols of their ethnic/religious traditions. South Sudanese Dinka scar the heads of young boys. Ethiopian Mursi women use small plates to stretch holes in their earlobes and lips. Hindus place a red ink spot (a bindi) on their foreheads. For faithful Jewish men, physical circumcision signified their inclusion in the covenant God made with Abraham (Genesis 17).

The early church was made up of people from both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. The Gentile converts were not circumcised. Jewish converts who were circumcised sometimes held a sense of special status. Some went so far as to demand that Gentile men become circumcised like them (Acts 15). Paul’s message is that no outward sign can save us. In fact, because circumcised Jews had been raised with the Law, they were actually more liable (Rom. 2:12).

There is no mark on our bodies that makes us a Christian. Even the sacraments of baptism and Communion are, in the words of Augustine, “visible signs of an invisible grace.” That’s why Paul said, “Circumcision is a matter of the heart” (v. 29). This was not a new teaching but the fulfillment of Old Testament promises: “God will circumcise your heart . . . so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Deut. 30:6). Likewise, “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD” (Jer. 24:7). Our salvation is a gift to be received. Thanks be to God! —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to give you a circumcised heart.

Jon Opgenorth

No Excuses

Read: Romans 2:1-22 Therefore you have no excuse . . . (v. 1) One of the good manners my kindergarten teacher taught was to never point a finger at another. “When you do,” she said, “three of your own fingers

Jon Opgenorth

Never Enough

Read: Romans 1:18-31 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie. (v. 25) How did we become experts at sin? Paul described the path sin takes once we start down its journey. First, though, the majesty of creation is

Jon Opgenorth

Not Ashamed

Read: Romans 1:1-17 I am eager to preach the gospel to you also. (v. 15) I can still see the joyful smiles of the men’s choir from Teen Challenge, a ministry to young people in difficult life situations. They radiated

Lou Lotz

Give God No Rest

Read: Luke 11: 5-12 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (v. 9) “Friend, lend me three loaves . . .” From

Amy Curran

Life for All

Read: Acts 11:1-18 Who was I that I could stand in God’s way? (v. 17) Peter had some explaining to do. When he returned home with news of having baptized Gentiles into the church, some in the church were dismayed.

Amy Curran

Made Clean

Read: Acts 10:9-33 What God has made clean, do not call common. (v. 15) Today we join Peter in prayer on a rooftop in the city. It had been a weary day of travel, and Peter was hungry and tired.

Amy Curran

Something like Scales

Read: Acts 9:1-19 Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized. (v. 18) Saul was a main persecutor of the church. He supervised Stephen’s death and made it his

Amy Curran

New Story, New Life

Read: Acts 6:8-15; 7:54-60 Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. (7:56) The story of Stephen’s death is remarkable, and teaches us much about what following Jesus means. The

Amy Curran

Strictly Charged

Read: Acts 5:17-32 We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching . . . (v. 28) The religious authorities were afraid. They had already tried to silence Peter and

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