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.

Steve Petroelje

Transitioning with Perseverance

Read: Romans 5:1-5; Philippians 3:13-14 Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Rom. 5:3-4) When you find yourself experiencing a life transition, do you try to move through it as quickly as possible? It’s easy to

Steve Petroelje

Transitioning with Prayer

Read: 1 Peter 5:6-11 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (v. 7 NIV) It’s not uncommon to ask God for help after trying to handle a situation on your own. Think about the difference it

Steve Petroelje

Loving Others amidst Hardship

Read: Romans 12:9-21 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (v. 10) I am writing these devotionals in early 2021, and at this time COVID-19 vaccines are in the early stages of distribution. There is

Steve Petroelje

Openness to God at Work

Read: Acts 15:1-21 We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. (v. 19 NIV) By nature, most people want to be comfortable and feel safe. Likewise, our tendency to return to the past is

Steve Petroelje

Keep Moving Forward

Read: Numbers 14:1-4 “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (v. 4) It’s common to reminisce and yearn to go back to the “good old days.” A grown adult may wish they could play high school sports

Steve Petroelje

Transitioning with Mercy

Read: Genesis 45:1-15, 50:15-21 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide

Steve Petroelje

Never Separated from God

Read: Genesis 39:1-4, 20-23; Romans 8:37-39 The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master . . . the LORD was with him and . . . caused

Steve Petroelje

Reasons We Experience Transitions

Read: Genesis 37 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him. (v. 4) “Why?” is a question people often ask when they face transitions in life, particularly painful ones. Despite

Steve Petroelje

Jesus Is in Control

Read: Colossians 1:15-20 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb. 13:8) Consider for a moment something that has changed in your life during the past year. Now consider the changes (for better or worse) that you


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