Devotions
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August 7, 2017, 5:00 AM

What prevents us from having a relationship with others like we have with Christ?



Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

 

One can’t understand an issue from afar. Asking questions that drive to the heart requires entering someone’s world. This action does not come natural to many of us, so we stand at the gates confused at what to do. We want to help, but don’t know where to begin. Understanding how to create depth in one’s relationships starts with studying the life of the relational God we worship. We have been given life through an encounter with Jesus Christ. Through this experience we were impacted and made a decision that began to shape us. This encounter was an investment; an investment on God’s behalf for us and one that transforms us through the development of an intimate relationship with Him. Over time our heart begins to reflect His very own.

 

The depth of this relationship requires more than simply a series of requests from God, but requires active participation through steps of faith; trusting God with each step before we take them. But, how did He do it? How did God develop this intimate relationship with us? How can His investment in our lives provide a model on how to develop relationships that go beneath the surface and encourage our walks? How did Jesus “lean in” to the issues He was confronted with on a daily basis? Entering our world and enduring everything it could throw at Him, Jesus is able to sympathize with our weakness and struggles. From the time He appeared on the scene in a manger in Bethlehem to hanging on a cross in Golgotha, Jesus was experiencing what it was like to be human. He understands the circumstances we face and shows compassion, mercy and grace towards us. Jesus was willing to do everything in His power, including laying down His body, to offer help and a different way to live life. 

 

When you face trouble or life does not seem to make sense, what are you looking for? You aren’t searching for pity, a few words of wisdom, a lecture or a pat on the back along with the usual response of “hang in there..things will get better.” What you hope will be in your life are people who are willing to show compassion and walk with you as you take steps towards change. Sometimes you just need people who are willing to listen first and speak second. Using Christ as our model for intentional help, our goal as brothers and sisters in Christ, is to understand people’s story so we can better speak God’s Truth into their life. This allows us to see past the issue and come face-to-face with the person on the other side.  God’s relationship with us is anything but casual.

 

However, since we can’t move in with everyone we have a relationship with, we must take the time to get to know them. It is like the words of the old saying, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Taking the time to get to know someone reveals how much you care about them.  If all we do is focus on the circumstances or situations that people struggle with, we will completely overlook the individual that we are called to love. We have to be reminded God is the author of everyone’s story, which makes each story we hear unique along with the individual telling it. 

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for pursuing a relationship with me. Lord through Your compassionate example, I desire to reflect Your heart to others. Jesus may my words and actions point others towards You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

Is there a situation where you are struggling to see how God is working in the midst of it?



When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” John 18:1-11

 

In the midst of the chaos going on around Him, Jesus remains relaxed and calm. Even though He knows what awaits Him in a few short days, Jesus is at peace. Nothing catches Jesus by surprise. He knows everything that is going to unfold. Jesus realizes His purpose for coming to Earth is the cross. This is why He willingly laid down His own life. John is very deliberate about the picture he paints of Jesus. John wants his readers not to see a victim, push over or a coward. He doesn’t want you to feel sorry for Jesus as if Jesus had been defeated or that His hopes and dreams had been thwarted. John makes it very clear: Jesus is in complete control.

 

Take for instance verse 4. Jesus’ response to the guards approaching Him seems to mimic other things we see throughout John’s gospel. Time and time again, Jesus gives hints to the foreknowledge He possessed. Jesus knew Judas would betray Him and that Peter would deny Him.  Yet, in the midst of the chaos, God had a plan and this should bring us great comfort. Remember, the picture we hold of Jesus influences our actions and words more than we realize. No other picture has greater implications on the way we respond to this world than the way we view Jesus. If we hold a proper understanding of who God is, we are capable of responding with hope and confidence to any difficult circumstance we face.

 

But, it comes down to belief and submitting our ways to Him. Do we truly believe God not only knows our future plans and has control over them, but that He has our best interest at heart? Do we believe that even though we might be surprised with the situation we are facing right now that God is not?  Do we believe that God has the power to use that situation, including all the pain, mistakes, confusion, hurt and sin, to transform our character and give Himself glory?

 

There is hope in whatever situation or circumstance you currently find yourself in. You might think it is hopeless, but God wants you to know it isn’t. He’s in control and all He wants you to do is lay down your will for His.  Is there a situation where you are struggling to see how God is working in the midst of it? God has the power to use any situation, including all the pain, mistakes, confusion, hurt and sin, to transform your character and give Himself glory.

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to believe that You are in control even in the midst of the chaos. Lord may this belief enable me to trust You with its’ outcome. Jesus give me the confidence to lay down my will for Your own. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 4, 2017, 5:00 AM

Who are you currently struggling to love?



Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

As I’m sitting in a hospital ER exam room at 2am, I can’t help but notice a little sign hanging behind the nurse’s station.  It’s 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve heard it recited in some form or fashion. You’d except to see its words inside a Hallmark card or on a poster with adorable kittens. We tend to get lost in its flowery language. But, love isn’t all roses and daisies. Love is required in those moments when we find ourselves in the weeds dealing with a strained relationship. Love is a challenge when someone is being a thorn in our side. If the other person doesn’t act the way we want them to, we get irritated, frustrated, aggravated, and a host of other descriptions.

 

During this moment, do you know what is needed? Quite simply, LOVE.  There is a tenacity that is required to love others. Relationships are messy. Relationships are difficult. Sometimes there are disagreements. Sometimes feelings get hurt. Sometimes relationships hang in the balance.  When we are at our wits end with others, we get to love. When we are tempted to be jealous of this person, we get to love. When all they are doing is pushing our buttons, we get to love. When everything in us desires to dredge up the past, we get to love. But this is easier said than done.

 

Our ability to love others lies in our willingness to embrace Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We don’t have the strength to do it on our own. We must lean on Christ.  We tend to think we’re loving when things go our way, but we get to love when they don’t. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and endures. Love is defined by the way it finishes: love never fails. Who are you currently struggling to love? What is driving your attitude towards this person?  What would love have you do in this relationship?

 

This my Prayer: Father God, help me to love.  Lord right now I need to recognize I am loved by You in order to have any hope of loving those around me. Jesus help me to realign my view of love with Your definition. I confess my shallow view of thinking that love is all about my ways and me when it is all about Yours! In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 3, 2017, 5:00 AM

How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church (owner/contributor or renter/critic)?



Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

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

 

We often treat seeking a church like a shopping event. As we enter the doors, we drag in our shopping cart. We’ve got a game plan and a long laundry list: engaging worship in a musical style the suits us, a practical sermon message, warm coffee, comfortable seats, a safe environment that keeps our children entertained and friendly (but not too friendly) people, just to name a few. Each box must be checked off or we are on to our next stop.   Consumerism intrudes and skews our understanding of God’s purpose for the church in our everyday lives. The church can quickly become something we consume and easily dispose of when it fails to meet our long list of needs. We want the church to meet our needs, but at an acceptable cost.

 

This mindset is not something new to our “me first” culture. In 1 Timothy 3:14-15, the Apostle Paul counters several faulty assumptions, temptations, and applications that come from a consumerist approach to church shopping. Paul understood a slippery slope begins when one will only stay connected to a church as long as it meets a particular need at an acceptable cost. With this framework, the church is reduced to measurable economic and emotional exchange units. Slowly but surely, God’s purpose for the church is never enjoyed and the meaning of church becomes displaced. Falling short of engaging in the mission and ministry of a local church is falling into a dangerous consumerist exchange between us and the church we are attending.

 

Our ownership to the life of the church flows out of our understanding of His church. Finding a local church to attend is not the final destination, but instead, only the starting point in God’s plan for our lives. Paul uses three images to clarify our understanding of the church: (1) household of God (2) a gathering of the living God and (3) a pillar of the truth.   In a household resides a family. The local church becomes a new and better family for all who are a part of it. Paul is creating a new focus on the family that extends far beyond one’s nuclear relative. The church is God’s intentional intersection where we learn that our family is made up others who are not like us. Even though we are all different, unity is indeed possible and it centers on a faith relationship with Christ. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11) and is drawing all types of people into a relationship with Him, which means every local expression will be filled with a wide variety of likes, dislikes, experiences, and personalities.

 

The local church is God’s way of providing for us a new laboratory for learning to love in a new way. Simply put, learning to live life together with others that are not like us, helps kill the sin in our everyday lives and helps us live out love to a world that is hurting and yearning for answers.   Christians must come together as a local expression of the church and offer a radically different alternative to the hatred and violence. One thing that should be undeniable is that Christ’s church should be known by their love. The early church realized that when Jew & Gentile, slave & free, men & women, and every ethnic group come together under Christ, it was very radical. It can be just as radical today. When you are part of a church, there is no “US” and “THEM,” only “US.”

 

Yet, it is not just enough for a group of diverse people to simply gather in a room or building together. Paul’s repetitive use of the term “household” (1 Timothy 3:4,5,12 and Ephesians 2:9) points us to the expectation that every person has a part to play in a household or a family. So when Paul is using the saying we are members of God’s household, he is saying, “God has a specific place for you to be investing in the life of your local church.” Each one of us gets to serve His church in some unique way. At the core of every person is an inner thirst for his or her life to matter. We all want to contribute to something that outlasts us; something that changes the trajectory of someone’s life. God has given the local church as a place that will satisfy this longing.

 

Of course, this just doesn’t happen by itself. Instead, we have to actively move from a spectator to an investor. We can’t just be a renter; we must be an owner. Owners are in it for the long haul and think about the future often. How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church? Are you a serial church shopper that has resulted in you just being part of the audience or an owner of a new and better family known as the local church?  How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church (owner/contributor or renter/critic)?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, rather than be a consumer, I desire to be a contributor. Lord I want my life to glorify You. Jesus I want to love those around me in such a way that it points them towards the hope that is only found in You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 2, 2017, 5:00 AM

What tends to be the excuses you use to explain your fears or justify your inactivity?



He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

By seeing how God has wired us, we can begin to shift our lens towards our strengths. Yet, this is easier said than done. Our natural inclination is to focus on our weaknesses, be overcome by our insecurities or enable fear to halt us in our tracks. Comparison not only kills our relationships, but our faith as well. Instead of getting in the game, we sit on the sidelines as a bench warmer looking at everyone else living out their faith. We are so terrified of making a mistake or misinterpreting God’s will for our lives, that we do nothing. What we fail to realize is that by doing nothing we are already making a huge mistake. Many of us err on the side of safety, comfort, and convenience instead of erring on the side of action.

 

We feel ill-equipped to make an impact, but this picture of ourselves goes against what Scripture says. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 We’ve been given everything we need to go out and be a light in this world. We just have to be willing to do something. There’s no point in having convictions if we do nothing about them. God is encouraging us to lay down our insecurities and fears of failure, and instead, work out what is already inside of us. We have become overachievers at over-complicating the call that God has for us. We worry so much about creating the right times, the right places, and the right purposes to engage our gifts in ministry. And God is saying, just do something with what you have right where you are by being observant, keeping your lens in front of you and engaging when you see a need.

 

The power of the Gospel message is that through God’s grace, Christ now meets us exactly where we are. Then in-turn, if we get past all of the excuses, all of the fears, we can meet others where they are. God is capable of doing things beyond our capabilities. We just need to learn to let go and start working outside of our boxes so that the world can see the hope and freedom that is found in Christ. What tends to be the excuses you use to explain your fears or justify your inactivity? What truth needs to replace these fears?

 

This is my Prayer:  Father God, give me the courage to face my fears and insecurities. Lord rather than getting bogged down with my weaknesses, may I begin to see life and my role in it, through the lens of my strengths. Jesus You’ve given me everything I need to make an impact in the lives of others. There are needs all around me. Today, I want to be bold and stand in the gap. In Your name, Jesus. 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 111-115 of 285