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.

Amy Clemens

Lavish Light

Read: Proverbs 29:6-14 The poor man and the oppressor meet together; the LORD gives light to the eyes of both. (v. 13) Throughout the story of God, I see the undeniable evidence that God is not stingy. Perhaps circumstances and

Amy Clemens

Darkening Counsel

Read: Job 38:1-24 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? (v. 2) Why would a child want to read Job? I can’t explain it, but I was that child. More than anything in my Young Reader’s Bible,

Amy Clemens

The Epiphany of Light

Read: Psalm 36 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (v. 9) Changing a tire after dark is a cruel undertaking, especially if you’re relying on just a flashlight for illumination. If

Amy Clemens

Light Near to Darkness

Read: Job 17:10-16 They make night into day: “The light,” they say, “is near to the darkness.” (v. 12) Scripture warns those of us who would deliver platitudes to someone longing for light when no light comes. Job’s story provides

Amy Clemens

Dark Lament

Read: Job 30:24-31 But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came. (v. 26) Part of the point of studying darkness and light is wrestling honestly with the way God sees and uses

Amy Clemens

Fire in the Dark

Read: Exodus 13:17-22 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day

Darkness as Plague

Read: Exodus 10:21-29 “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” (v. 21) Don’t you feel a little shiver at the phrase: “a darkness to be felt”?

Amy Clemens

Light in Darkness

Read: Genesis 1:1-19 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (vv. 3-4) The earth was without form, void of land,

Individual standing on fence by mountains raising arms
Jon Opgenorth

Blessed Beyond Measure

Read: Ephesians 1:1-3 [God has] . . . blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. (v. 3) When, as a young man, I heard a message on Ephesians 1, God grabbed my heart to follow Jesus. I pray this book so

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