Devotionals
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 11-15 of 283
November 27, 2017, 5:00 AM

How would you describe the reason for your confidence about forever?


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

 

To help us understand what King David meant when he said, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” we need to consider the story of his life. He was living with an end in mind. In David’s day, the official place of worship was still the old tabernacle, dating from the time of Moses. When David set up his capital in Jerusalem, he was bothered about living in a house of cedar while “the ark of God dwells in a tent” (2 Samuel 7:1). He decided to build a temple for the Lord, but this was not God's plan. His response to the king was, in essence, No, you won't.

 

David meant to honor God with his building. However, the Lord made it clear that it wasn’t David’s idea He was rejecting—it was the circumstances. David’s role as a warrior made him unsuitable for the role of Temple builder (1 Chronicles 28:2-3). In God’s plan, David’s son Solomon would build the house for His glory. With that backdrop, consider what David was saying at the end of Psalm 23: This life is so short. Ultimately, I shall dwell in house of the Lord forever. I might not get to build the temporary Temple on earth, but I’m moving into the permanent one in heaven someday. When they start singing my songs, I’ll be in the front row.

 

Look at David's confidence as he declares, “I shall dwell.” He understood this was not a temporary visit, but that he would be at home “in the house of the Lord.” He knew he was moving into what Jesus called, “my Father’s house” (John 14:2). The Bible gives us many clues about heaven, and they all add up to this great idea: We’re going home! We will finally be where we were designed to spend eternity. Heaven was made for God's children, and we were made for it. What Revelation 21:1 calls "a new heaven and a new earth," isn’t some alternative plan God worked out when humans fell into sin. Heaven was the plan and destination for believers all along.

 

This last word is the best word in the whole psalm: “Forever.” Life on earth is short, and the deadline is coming fast. Eternity is racing upon us. Soon the clock will stop, and time shall be no more. As John Newton's old hymn Amazing Grace says so beautifully, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years . . . we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we'd first begun.” If you have received Jesus' forgiveness and embraced Him by faith, you too can declare like David, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” There is no better end to have on your mind as you walk through this day. When you think about heaven, what are you anticipating the most? Why? How would you describe the reason for your confidence about forever?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, just as David’s dream about the Temple was, though it wasn’t Your plan for him to build it. Lord direct my thoughts to what You may be leading me to do. Jesus help me be willing to pursue Your call wherever it leads, right up to the moment I go to dwell in Your house forever! In Jesus’ name, amen.




November 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

How is the answer to our loneliness found in our willingness to lean into the pain?


Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. Psalm 25:16-21

 

There are many roads that lead us down the path towards loneliness, the loss of a loved one, living with convictions, relocating to a new town or school, secret sin patterns ,or being introverted in social settings, just to name a few. It doesn’t matter if you are in the midst of a sea of people or all by yourself behind closed doors, loneliness knows no bounds. The pain of loneliness is part of the human experience. We’ve all encountered the pain of separation at one time or another. When those feelings of loneliness begin to make an appearance, we do everything in our power to protect ourselves. We surround ourselves with noise and keep busy to avoid slowing down long enough to listen to the silence. We hide behind our work, we get lost in media and technology, and we medicate by indulging in anything that will numb the pain.

 

We often exchange connection with distraction and community with consumption. In our quest to find wholeness, everyone becomes a commodity. If we don’t understand the deep cause of our loneliness, we will continue to use others. This creates unbelievable pressure and heartbreak in the connections we are trying to make.  When people disappoint or hurt us, we retreat into loneliness. We reason the agony of loneliness is better than the pressure of people so we disengage from others by either becoming self-absorbed or playing the victim card and blaming others for our pain. We do everything in our power to protect ourselves from the pain loneliness brings.

 

Many of us don’t like being alone because we don’t know what to do with ourselves. The last thing we want to experience is coming face-to-face with our brokenness, loneliness, and insecurities. But, rather than running away from loneliness, we should lean into the pain, because if we do, this is where comfort resides. The way we learn to deal with crushing loneliness is found when we give up trying to escape, force, amuse or distract it away. Everyone struggles with loneliness; how we view and deal with it determines the quality of our lives and our relationships. When have you experienced loneliness? How did you react in these moments? What did you turn to in hopes of distracting yourself or dealing with these feelings of loneliness? Why did you look to these things to bring you comfort? How is the answer to our loneliness found in our willingness to lean into the pain?

 

This is my Prayer:  Father God, in the midst of my loneliness, may I trust that I am never truly alone. Lord You are always with me. All too often I want to avoid and run away from the pain. Jesus instead, give me the courage to embrace it so you can mend my heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




November 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

If gratitude measures the condition of one’s heart, how would you describe the current condition of your heart?


So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

 

Looking back, Thanksgiving was more than just food, family, and football. In the midst of the Macy’s Day parade, turkey-induced nap, getting together with loved ones and watching the team we hate the most lose the big game, we had the opportunity to reflect on the many ways we have been blessed.  We paused and gave thanks. The Bible speaks very clearly about this idea of thanksgiving. In Psalm 69:30-31, the author says, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.”

 

Why is our gratitude so valuable to God? Our gratitude is something we possess that God desires. The sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies God more than any effort we can bring to God. Why does it have such great worth in His eyes? Our gratitude magnifies God and is our acknowledgment that God is good in all things. Gratitude is our best attempt to express the truth of God’s goodness.  Even though we will never be able to truly express it, thanksgiving is our human way of magnifying Him and setting Him apart as He is. There is an element of both recognition and expression in our gratitude. A thankful heart shapes and forms us, leading us to express our praise in worship. The purest form of thanksgiving involves valuing God above all else and recognizing His holiness.

 

But, there is another purpose behind our gratitude. Stability, gratitude, and generosity serve as markers to help us measure our spiritual maturity. When things don’t go our way, how do we respond? Do we question God’s goodness? Are we quick to freak out? Do our hearts drift towards entitlement? Or, in the midst of everything, both the good and the bad, is there a humble stability present in our lives? Gratitude measures the condition of our heart and helps us regulate our lives. If gratitude measures the condition of one’s heart, how would you describe the current condition of your heart? What are you thankful for today?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, allow me to praise you in the midst of any situation I face. Lord may my life overflow with gratitude. Jesus help me to realize that You love me and work everything out for my good. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




November 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

Our purpose is a small part of God’s larger purpose for the family!


Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

 

Even though it seems like an oxymoron, we tend to think of the family from a very individualistic mindset. Our attention, focus, and concern are either centered on ourselves or just the individuals who live underneath our roof. We do everything in our power to make sure they are well-mannered, well-fed, well-taught and well-adjusted. Not only does this mindset cause us to potentially elevate our family unit to idol status, it misses the mark of what God intended. The family is much bigger than we realize, which means the redemptive story God is telling is too. The purposes of God in our lives aren’t isolated or independent. They are intended to impact and influence others. Our purpose is a small part of God’s larger purpose for the family that continues toward completion in the generations that come.

 

In essence, each family is given a brick. What we do with this brick is up to us. We can look at our lives and our family story and feel shame, hurt, anger or embarrassment. This might lead us to believe our brick doesn’t matter or that it’s insignificant. When we reflect on our past or our current situation, we can believe the lie that our brick is an odd shape and couldn’t possibly fit. As a result, we take our brick and go home or we shatter it into a million pieces.  But, there is another way. We can look at the brick we are holding in our hands and realize it is critical to the foundation God is building. The truth is we each bring our lives together to become the place where God dwells. Scripture speaks of the church being a family and uses the imagery of a house’s foundation to describe it. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our family story because God accepts us and has the power to redeem all things.

 

When we don’t add our brick to the foundation God is building, someone or some other family isn’t as supported and encouraged as they need to be. What God is redeeming is the relationship between He and His people as we dwell together. He provides us with opportunities to influence, input and contribute to a family much bigger than ourselves.  Every individual and family is given a brick that is part of the house God is building. How would you describe your brick?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, rather than being self-centered, help me to understand family from Your perspective. Lord expand my view of who my family members are. Jesus let me care for those You’ve entrusted me with and see my part as important and valuable to the house You are building. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




November 18, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are some instances in which you have had to learn the difference between trials and consequences?


But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:13-16

 

Difficulties provoke questions. “Am I suffering in a trial, or is my pain a consequence of something I’ve done?” You need to identify the source of a hard thing in your life because your responsibility in the matter depends on the source of your hardship. Jesus’ disciple Peter will help you understand the difference. First Peter 4:14 says, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” If you are suffering as a result of representing Christ, you are experiencing a trial. Realize you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings, and it leads to blessing.

 

Continuing is this warning of consequence: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” Peter has listed classic “choose to sin; choose to suffer” actions. Murderer describes anyone with a hateful action or thought, who disrespects life. Thief can refer to anyone who loses his or her job for stealing time; anyone who loses his or her marriage for stealing selfish interests; anyone who loses his or her friend by stealing too much attention. All of these actions involve taking what belongs to someone else. Evildoer is a general term for describing anyone who participates in sinful activity. Meddler describes anyone who, as one translation puts it, is “prying into other people’s affairs” 1 Peter 4:15. If any of these actions causes hardship for you, you’re suffering a consequence, not a trial.

 

Next, Peter returns to trials: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” In His kindness, God promises that trials will come. These hardships should never cause us to be ashamed, because God receives glory through the way His people respond to suffering. When you are enduring a difficulty, decide whether it is a wake-up call to the reality of bad choices, or it has been allowed by God to train your character for His glory. Again, it’s important to ask God for wisdom in seeing the difference between trials and consequences. Many believers are experiencing very painful consequences to sin in their lives. They may call those consequences trials, but “do not be deceived,” Galatians 6:7 says. “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

 

When you are suffering consequences, repent immediately. Turn around and, don’t walk, run back to God. When you are suffering for Christ, seek His grace to rejoice over your participation in events that will bring glory to God. What are some instances in which you have had to learn the difference between trials and consequences? How have both of those causes for difficulty ended up being lessons for you?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, today I ask You for wisdom to avoid labeling consequences as trials. Lord use Your Word and other people in my life to help me see what I can’t see on my own sins that bring about unpleasant results. Jesus help me to develop a healthy attitude of readiness to repent when I’m made aware of sin. And when You show me that a hardship is simply a trial You have chosen for my life, help me to continually rejoice and rest in You. In Your name Jesus I pray, amen.


Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 11-15 of 283