Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives

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Cling to life-changing truths anchored in Scripture with Heart of the Matter, a CCEF daily devotional containing 366 selections.

This devotional will reorient your day, lifting your eyes toward God through brief messages of gospel hope.

Change that goes deeper than the surface of our lives happens as we daily remember the truths of the gospel. Every day we need to be reminded that Jesus, God's own Son, came to this world to save us from sin, sorrow, and death.

We need to remember every day how Jesus's life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return change the way we view ourselves and others.

In these daily reflections, readers are invited to consider the profound wisdom found in the Bible, deepening their experiences with the living God and his redemptive work in their lives.

In these shared practical insights, men and women will find the gospel in the midst of our emotions, thoughts, actions, and relationships, grasping consistent gospel application.

Heart of the Matter will be your next treasure. Use it to begin each day with inspiration based on Scripture, free from psychological jargon, and encourage the people around you.


The Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) has been teaching people how to understand the wisdom and depth of the Bible and apply its grace-centered message to the problems of daily living since 1968. A biblical counseling and educational ministry located in suburban Philadelphia, CCEF operates a robust biblical counseling ministry in their home office as well as on-site training for others with a heart for discipleship. CCEF also teaches several accredited counseling programs both on-site and through distance learning in conjunction with Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. As an extension of the local church, CCEF accomplishes its mission through a unique synergy of counseling, training, publications, and conferences.

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"Reading Heart of the Matter is doing Psalm 121. You read the pages and your eyes are lifted away from self toward God, seated on his throne in all of his glory. Your day is reoriented. Independence melts away as you look to the one who made the heavens and the earth; to him who stands firm and faithful, dependable, and trustworthy. It will point you to the loving Father who keeps you, both now and forevermore."
Jack Delk, Pastor for Covenant Member Care, Bethlehem Baptist Church

"The daily reflections gathered in Heart of the Matter offer the reader the opportunity to anchor his or her life in the profound truths of the gospel. The result is a deepening experience of the far-reaching effects of God's redemptive work for all of life. These brief, practical insights will bring the gospel to bear on your emotions, thoughts, actions, and relationships in new and refreshing ways. In this devotional, CCEF provides readers with a clear path to rich, consistent gospel application."
Stephen T. Um, Senior Minister, Citylife Presbyterian Church, Boston, Massachusetts; author of Why Cities Matter

"This devotional is a treasure. Using it, we can begin each day with a crucial word of inspiration based on a portion of the Scripture, articulated by a proven team of sure-footed guides. Free from theological or psychological jargon, its simplicity is deceptive, taking us from the challenges of daily life into the very heart of our covenant relationship with the Lord God."
William Edgar, DrTheol, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary; author of Truth in All Its Glory

"If you've ever enjoyed a book by Paul Tripp, Ed Welch, or one of the other CCEF authors then you already know the words they share are water for a thirsty soul. Heart of the Matter, a devotional drawn from the practical biblical wisdom of these authors, is an ocean of encouragement packed into a palm-sized devotional. The short, daily reflections draw you into God's Word, help you understand how to apply its truth, and leave you marveling day after day over the grace of God. You won't find a better resource to help you apply God's Word and water your soul."
Marty Machowski, Family Pastor, Covenant Fellowship; author of Long Story Short, Old Story New, The Gospel Story Bible, and the Gospel Story for Kids curriculum

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32 Reviews

  • 5
    These devotionals are easily the most helpful short devotionals I've ever read

    Posted by Joshua Buttram on 10 15 2018

    These devotionals are easily the most helpful short devotionals I've ever read. The teaching is very deep, rich, and carefully rooted in Scripture. The pracical applications and encouragements are outstanding.

  • 5
    Life changing!

    Posted by Sean Stickel on 10 15 2018

    I agree...This devotional can be life changing, profound wisdom from biblical counselors. I often read it then give it to my young adult son, hoping he will mature in these areas much younger than I am! I am buying one for a dear sister in Christ who has many really good Christian books because I want her to have this one too! I'm so grateful that someone gave it to me!

  • 5
    Excellent Resource from CCEF

    Posted by Melissa Griffin on 10 15 2018

    Over the past few years of studying biblical counseling, I have been greatly helped by the ministry of CCEF (The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation). On my blog, I often share videos and book excerpts from men like David Powlison, Ed Welch, or Paul David Tripp, because their teaching has benefited me significantly and I want to pass as much of it on to others as I can. For that reason, I'm glad that I can now recommend a new resource from CCEF called Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Changing Lives. In this one year devotional book, you will find comfort, challenge, conviction, and encouragement in the form of brief, daily readings provided by the faculty of CCEF. These daily devotionals cover a wide array of topics such as suffering, relationships, the process of change, overcoming fear and anxiety, trust in God, forgiveness, and much more. As you read this book, you will find that your attention is continually being pointed to Christ and the hope of the Gospel, God's sovereignty over all things, and His loving purposes for you as His precious child. The readings are deep, yet completely accessible. Because I was reading Heart of the Matter for the purposes of this review, I had to move through it more quickly than I wanted to, and I often found myself thinking that I would benefit much more from reading and considering just one devotional at a time, which is of course, how the book is intended to be used. I am thoroughly convinced that the Bible contains every truth required to care for the human soul (2 Pet. 1:3-4), and I believe that Heart of the Matter illustrates well what a rich resource God has provided for us in His Word. The authors go deep into the Scriptures to reveal profoundly beautiful truths that we too often miss in our hurried approach to Bible reading.

  • 5
    Heart of the Matter, by CCEF

    Posted by Rick Thomas on 10 15 2018

    I started reading the book like you would read any book-from the front to the back, but soon found I could not contain myself and began skipping around. I wanted to know what they said on May 5th and August 23rd-special days in my family. I was interested in a few other dates too. The blessing of this book is you don't have to treat it like a normal book. You can read it according to the day you're in or you can pick and choose. It won't matter because you'll benefit from all of the Heart of the Matter. Each chapter is one page with no wasted words. The book is an all hands-on-deck, tour de force from the CCEF team. David Powlison, Winston Smith, Tim Lane, Ed Welch, Michael Emlet, Robert Jones, Jayne Clark, James Petty, and Paul Tripp give us over 200 years of counseling/discipleship experience. Each daily pericope is from one of their books. This amounts to the best of the best of their seasoned thoughts, collected in one place for your daily benefit. In the back of the book all of the Scripture passages referred to throughout the book are listed. You can scan those passages, particularly if you're looking for encouragement from a specific Bible chapter or verse. If you want to delve into a lengthier treatment of the daily devotionals, you will find a list of books in the back from which the devotionals were extracted. Not only will you personally benefit from daily grazing, but you'll also want to share the thoughts of this book with your friends. The way the book is formatted begs for easy dissemination. You can find it here: [...]

  • 5
    Excellent devotion especially for those Christians feeling the weight of the World.

    Posted by Glenn Crouch on 10 15 2018

    This excellent devotional consists of a daily bible reading together with a short inspirational comment from a variety of authors. I have received great comfort and encouragement from having this as part of my daily devotions in 2015, and would highly recommend it to my fellow Christians - it is of special value to those who are depressed and/or world weary.

  • 5
    Gospel Focused Daily Readings

    Posted by Justin Woodall on 10 15 2018

    What sets Heart of the Matter apart from other daily devotionals? First of all, the writers of Heart of the Matter are fantastic. From Paul David Tripp to David Powlison, all of the folks from CCEF pitch in. If you are not familiar with these authors, this book is a great way to get familiar with them. Each devotional reading includes a text from scripture and is followed by a mediation signed by the author. Secondly, having multiple authors helps with monotony. It is easy to get into a rut hearing just one voice. Heart of the Matter is great because each of the authors has their own style. Each day brings a fresh perspective and a fresh voice. Third, Heart of the Matter is a book that deals with real life. With passages drawn from books like Recovering from Child Abuse, Grief, Depression, I'm Exhausted, Freedom from Resentment, and How People Change; each devotion connects to us where we are. Most devotions avoid any specifics so they can relate to a larger audience. The authors at CCEF know the sins that so easily beset us all and root them out, specifically. Finally, Heart of the Matter is gospel focused. This is not a collection of guilt ridden passages encouraging you to "try harder". It is a series of devotions that encourage you to run to Jesus and His cross. This devotional takes very seriously the hideous sin that lies hidden in your heart, and beckons you to run in repentance to your loving father. I can not recommend this devotional highly enough.

  • 5
    Excellent Compilation

    Posted by S. Grotske on 10 15 2018

    This devotional is a great way to look daily into Scripture to focus on God's character, our need of the Gospel, and application for daily obedience. We have been going through the meditations and have appreciated: their Scriptural foundation their Gospel focus their application their diversity their clarity We have read many works by CCEF authors and are always challenged by them to renew our focus on Christ, and strive toward obedience by faith. This work is no different.

  • 5
    Goes Straight to the Heart

    Posted by Amazed by Love on 10 15 2018

    I blame my first experience with Christian Counselling and Education Foundation (CCEF) on my Senior Pastor who introduced me to the group in the fall of 2009. I attended my first national conference in King of Prussia, PA with him and his wife. At the time, I was a bit skeptical because the conference was being advertised as Sex Matters. Thankfully, at the conference I was exposed not to racy content but to the glorious good news of Jesus Christ as the necessary agent that redeems and transforms the lives of people who have been the victims of a culture stuck in the red light district. The national conference was a starting point of what might be a lifelong relationship of trust. I appreciate the solid, biblical content of the writers and speakers who are involved with CCEF. "With this book you have the opportunity to Start a Year of Thoughtful Change. Change that goes deeper than the surface of our lives happens over the long haul as we dailyremember and connect the truths of the gospel to our lives. Every day we need to be re-minded--in different ways--that Jesus, God's own Son, came to this world to save us from sin,sorrow, and death. The promises of God, which are all "yes" in Jesus, change the way we viewourselves, our circumstances, and other people." Heart of the Matter gives a daily reminder of theselife-changing truths. Topics covered in the devotional include: love, hope, grace, redemption, faith, contentment, conflict, relationships, prayer, fear, patience, humility, and anger. I highly recommend this book for all who desire to learn wisdom, to learn how to talk to one's heart with Scripture, and to respond properly to the trials of life. The 366 selections, anchored in Scripture and saturated with the gospel,will help you to: Learn how God in his Word addresses a host of life situations Focus on how the gospel intersects with life Look beyond circumstances to God's purposes See how God values relationship with his children Learn to value others by speaking truth in love, by not shying away from conflict, by for-giving, and by being patient and persistent Grow in wisdom when confronted by life's changes Learn how God works change that is effective and visible

  • 5
    Winning the Battle for Belief

    Posted by BDLHR on 10 15 2018

    What is the work that we need to be doing? That is the same question that was asked of Jesus in John 6:29. His answer? Be disciplined, work hard, feed the poor, love the unloveable, memorize the scriptures? No. All of these are good things, but they are secondary things. The work we need to be doing in our faith is belief: "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." The real battle for us is to remember and rely upon the seemingly unbelievable good news of the Gospel - that a good and all powerful God has made a way for rebellious creatures to return and be reconciled with Him. We don't forget this in our minds, but the glory of God & His gospel readily creeps out of our hearts. Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives by Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation helps us to remember the staggering promises of the gospel by providing short, gospel saturated daily devotions that are aimed at penetrating the reader's heart. Paul Tripp, Ed Welch, Timothy S. Lane, William Smith, Michael Emlet, David Powlison and others share profoundly practical & impactful truths on subjects that include fear & anxiety, anger, contentment, faith, relationships, stress, suffering, identity and trials & suffering. If you find yourself in the battle for belief, then Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives is an excellent resource to help you on your journey.

  • 5
    Powerful, Daily Gospel Reflection

    Posted by Kevin M Fiske on 10 15 2018

    I can say, without a doubt, that some of the most potent, Christ-exalting, gospel-centered biblical counsel I have encountered has come through the speaking and writing of the faculty at the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF). These men and women are not interested in quick-fix, self-help, moralistic nonsense. They are unswervingly committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are of the conviction that real, Spirit-wrought power for the changing of the human heart occurs as we dive more deeply into the gospel, applying it to the myriad of circumstances and situations of our daily lives. The writings and resources of the CCEF are incredibly extensive. Effectively working through all of them, though undoubtedly worthwhile, would take years to accomplish. That's why I was immensely excited when I was introduced to Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives (New Growth Press, 2012),ed. by Nancy B. Winter. This daily devotional is a collection of some of the most powerful excerpts from the writings of those on staff at CCEF. The authors include, but are not limited to, Paul David Tripp, Edward T. Welch, David Powlison, and Timothy S. Lane. Organized by the calendar year and paired with a daily reading from the Scriptures, these vignettes are sincere, to the point, and clearly hopeful in the power of God to change hearts through the gospel of Christ. While deeply steeped in the grace believers have received from God in Christ, each devotion then includes questions for personal reflection and application. As I mentioned, these devotions are not designed to give the reader 5-steps to personal change/fulfillment, but rather are written to make the reader aware of the sovereignty of God, the grace presently available in the gospel, and hope that real Sprit-wrought change is possible. Two things that make this resource particularly helpful are the Source Index and Scripture Index included at the conclusion of the volume. This will be of great assistance to readers who, when particularly impacted by a given devotional, desire to know the resource from which the excerpt came. Additionally, the Scripture Index allows the reader to use the devotional as a companion when studying a specific book of the Bible. In a day and age where so many "Christian" devotionals are filled with mere fluff, Heart of the Matter is a distinctly different resource that will assuredly encourage believers to reflect more seriously upon the gospel and be used by God to powerfully change hearts and lives to the praise of his glorious grace. I wholeheartedly commend it to you!

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