Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.
Romans 8:39 “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing — nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable — absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (The Message)
Embraced in Jesus
You may not feel it right at this moment, but Jesus is embracing you. We usually think of the word embrace in the context of physical affection or enthusiastic acceptance, but when you look at it closely, you’ll also see that its root word is "brace." This brings a whole new connotation to the concept of being embraced. As a noun, a brace is defined as, “a device fitted to something, in particular a weak or injured part of the body, to give support.” It also refers to a strengthening piece of iron or timber used in construction or carpentry. As a verb, to brace means to prepare or steel yourself, to invigorate, to support, or to make stronger.
In light of all these possible uses and meanings, think about this statement again: Jesus is embracing you. His embrace around you is a simultaneous enveloping of perfect love with unbreakable strength. For that reason, according to Romans 8:39, nothing can get in between you and God’s love. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we wake up each morning feeling embraced. That’s why Paul goes to such lengths to remind us of who we are in Jesus and how much we are loved. When the battles and storms of life come at us, whether accurate or not, our feelings are often the loudest voices in our hearts and minds. Fear, worry, doubt, loneliness, shame, anger, and pride can rise up so quickly and so prominently that our grasp of the truth can weaken and distort or even disappear in a matter of seconds. Romans 8:37 comes to our rescue, however, and shouts loudly in the midst of everything that may distress us: “No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” In other words, through the power of Jesus, you will not only triumph over your struggles and adversaries, but you will also go a step beyond victory. We are more than conquerors, and what God has in store for us is so amazing, there isn’t even have a word for it!
To help us comprehend the vastness of God’s unlimited love for us, following Paul’s example in Ephesians 3:14-19 is a great place to start. In The Passion Translation, this passage begins with, “So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus…” followed by, “And then I pray that He would unveil within you the unlimited riches of His glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with His divine might and explosive power.” When we struggle to feel His embrace or are plagued with doubts, humbly laying aside our own need for control, perspective, or understanding is step one on Paul’s roadmap. Praying with belief that God is not only able but will also eventually redeem for His glory everything happening in your life, is step two. Verse 17 gives us step 3, which is to constantly exercise our faith, little by little, infusing more and more of Christ’s character and likeness into our lives and letting go of more and more of our own selfish ambitions and expectations.
When we are going through seasons of suffering, it may be hard to believe that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28), but that’s why Paul says we must endeavor to grow in our knowledge and experience of God’s boundless love. We may not consciously experience it every day or all at once, but the more we trust in God despite our feelings, the more Paul says we’ll allow ourselves to be completely embraced by “the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions.” (Ephesians 3:18, TPT) This is the kind of love that follows through on its promises and is comprised of nothing but goodness. With an increasing grasp of God’s extravagant love, we will become more empowered to “Reach out and experience its breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God!” (Verse 19, The Message).
Daily Bible Readings
As you spend the coming week contemplating the extravagant and boundless love of your Heavenly Father, using your imagination to envision the height, width, depth, and breadth of the “unlimited riches of His glory and favor” will be incredibly helpful. The readings this week will help you do just that, but to get the most out of them, spend a few minutes before you begin by sitting quietly and letting the Holy Spirit clear, calm, and soothe your heart and mind.
Monday - Read John 15:1-11 in The Passion Translation. Now, spend some time picturing what a grapevine looks like just before it is ready to harvest. Use your imagination to gaze upon its root system, abundant leaves, vines, and finally, the grapes. Think about the weather, too, as you look at the vine. Are the grapes glistening in the sun, or is it perhaps misty and rainy? Are you walking through the vineyard in the cool of the morning or during a beautiful sunset? Try to make your vision of the scene full and real, even imaging what scents you might smell. Once you feel immersed in imagining the grapevine, read John 15:1-11 again very slowly. Then write down anything that the Holy Spirit brings to mind while you absorb the passage. When you’re ready, take your time praying and listening to God.
Tuesday — Read Zephaniah 3:17 in the NIV. Now close your eyes and imagine what the verse describes — the Mighty Warrior who stands with you ready to guard and protect you around the clock. In your mind’s eye, see His sword gleaming in the sunlight, ready to be wielded on your behalf. Think about other weapons and attire that He might be carrying and why those particular items come to your mind. Now envision the Warrior showing you the kindness and tenderness of a trusted friend, accepting you for who you are and smiling at you with great admiration and love — so much so that He rejoices over you with songs of praise, comfort, and peace. In reaction to this amazing display of power, strength, and love, spend time thanking Jesus and praising Him for embracing you and never leaving your side.
Wednesday - Read Psalm 1:3 and Jeremiah 17:8. In these passages, you are compared to a beautiful tree living and thriving abundantly with the nourishment of God. As you meditate on these verses, take the time to picture yourself sitting on a beautiful riverbank shaded by huge branches with big, healthy leaves rustling softly in a light breeze. As your mind settles on the provision and beauty of God, ask Him to speak to you of HIs love for you.
Thursday — Read Luke 15:3-7. In this parable, Jesus paints a beautiful picture of God’s very personal and unique love for you. Through this story, you are assured that Jesus not only sees you as an individual, but He will go to the ends of the earth to save you, love you, and rejoice over you. As you read this short story again, imagine Jesus coming after you to bring you home to safety and comfort. Then spend time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to show you how you might have wandered from or doubted Jesus’ love. Ask Him to fall fresh on you and cleanse you of any self-centered or mistrustful thoughts. Let His forgiveness make you whole.
Friday — Read Psalm 23 in your favorite translation of the Bible. If this passage doesn’t seem fresh or new as you read, then try reading it in a paraphrased version like The Message or The New Living Translation. While this Psalm is often read at funerals, it was not written exclusively for that purpose. David wrote it to celebrate the life God gives us both in the present and in the future. This Psalm also paints one of the richest pictures of God’s tender care and provision for those He loves. Go through the passage slowly line by line picturing yourself in the scene that it describes. Pay close attention to how the words make you feel and what you would see if you were actually “living in” the Psalm. Meditate on the line or phrase that jumps out at you the most for where you at this moment. Soak in God’s love and praise Him for His infinite provision and wisdom, even if you don’t understand it right now. Listen to the Spirit say, “I love you. You can trust me.”
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to Jesus each day and explore what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.
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