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.

Lou Lotz

Freedom to Flail

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (v. 22) Do you know what a flail is? It’s a primitive, hand-held device for threshing wheat—a staff, at the

Lou Lotz

Glorify God in Your Body

Read: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (v. 18) Corinthianize means “to live a promiscuous life” (Collins English Dictionary).

Lou Lotz

Real People

Read: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. (v. 26) In today’s mail there was a slick brochure about a new church in town.

Lou Lotz

No Divisions

Read: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you. (v. 10) Sometimes I think about how divided the Christian

Lou Lotz

Called to Be Saints

Read: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints. (v. 2) What is a saint? When we declare, in the Apostles’ Creed, that we believe in

Lou Lotz

Paul Plants a Church

Read: Acts 18:1-11 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. (v. 1) I’ve never worked as a church planter. The churches I’ve served as a pastor—in New York, Iowa, and Michigan—were all up and running when I got

Steve Petroelje

The Future Transition

Read: Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. (v. 1) Genesis 1–2 and Revelation 21–22 show us a time when there will be no

Steve Petroelje

Future Plans

Read: Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (v. 11) When we go through life transitions, we quickly

Steve Petroelje

When It Seems Hopeless

Read: Habakkuk 3:16-19; Isaiah 43:1-3 . . . yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (v. 18) In the transitions of life, we often experience loss. Perhaps you have experienced


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