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 121-125 of 283
July 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

How much stress and angst do you feel (or have felt) about finding “your thing”?


For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

 

At one point or another, we’ve wrestled with the questions of “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?.” We all want our life to count. We all desire to make a difference and leave our mark on this world. Yet, the pressure to find “our thing” can overwhelm us. Rather than launching us into action, we hesitate and collapse under the weight of our calling. Terrified of not measuring up or, even worse, going down the wrong path, we remain inactive and paralyzed. We reason that it is better to do nothing than expend energy doing the wrong thing. With this mindset, curiosity is not allowed. In fact, it can be viewed as very dangerous. But, God calls us to freedom.

 

This freedom isn’t just experienced through the forgiveness of our sins, but also a freedom to serve and for our lives to stand as a reflection of His love. God is far less concerned about the specifics of our activity than He is about our authenticity, availability and access. He desires to uses us in unique and different ways. This statement shouldn’t create more pressure, but lessen the burden to have everything figured out. All God is asking from us is to start somewhere and lean in.  How much stress and angst do you feel (or have felt) about finding “your thing”? Where does this pressure come from? Where have you grown curious and decided to “lean in” to the issues you see all around you?

 

We are hardwired to serve others and look outside ourselves. This is true for everyone, believer or skeptic, follower of Christ or individual who wants nothing to do with God. During those moments where we give ourselves away, we are living out how we were made. They point to something deep within us that wants nothing more than to express God’s heart. Although as people who have encountered the love of Christ personally, we get the opportunity to be His ambassadors in this world. God is reconciling the world to Himself and He is using us to do it. Our life should be an expression, not a power grab. We should be looking for ways to give rather than take.

 

The challenge is to turn our attention off ourselves and fix our eyes on the needs of others.  It involves looking at the things that make our hearts come alive and devoting our time and energy towards these ventures. It requires taking the time to notice what our gifts, talents, interests and passions are and figuring out ways they can be used to advance His Kingdom rather than our agenda. It entails looking around us and recognizing places where we’ve been given influence and a platform and leveraging them to make His name known and not our own. It is understanding how “our thing” contributes to the overall impact of the church we call home. And, it is trusting that the depth we crave in our walk with God is found when we are willing to step into opportunities to serve others.

 

This my Prayer: Father God, I know You don’t want me to wait until I understand. Instead Lord, You want me to jump into Your work with open arms. You welcome my curiosity. You invite me to explore my gifts, talents and passions. You encourage me to lean in to the problems of the world. You call me to love boldly and forgive generously. Jesus give me the courage to do so. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 23, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are you doing with the authority you’ve been given?


Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” Romans 15:1-2

 

If we are hoping to see good in the world, we’ll catch glimpses of joy, beauty and forgiveness. On the flip side, if view the world through a lens of cynicism and negativity, our eyes won’t be disappointed. We always find what we’re looking for. This principle holds true even in our handling of the Bible. When we look to God’s Word just to find God’s laws, we will often find loopholes.  Approaching Scripture with an agenda alters our perspective. Instead of searching for wisdom and guidance, our sole focus is looking for Scriptures that fit our agenda and justify our behavior. Our red pen is at our disposal to scratch out verses that are inconvenient, uncomfortable or require more than we are willing to give. We edit out the words we don’t like to soften up the commitment level. Rather than a sword we hold to battle the enemy, we can sometimes be guilty of using the Bible as a hammer to beat down anyone who disagrees with our point of view.

 

This internal focus on submitting to God’s authority has greater implications to those around us than we even realize. What we focus on gets our attention and what gets our attention impacts our heart. The condition of our heart doesn’t remain hidden; it will eventually get expressed. What is happening on the inside shows on the outside. If all our energy is spent on deciding what is best for our needs, our agenda and our comfort, others lose out and are hurt as a result. We were never meant to live for ourselves. Scripture speaks to how the body of Christ is meant to build each other up. The only way we will be transformed into Christ’s likeness is by relying on each other. The authority we’ve been given shouldn’t be used to grab power and oppress. Authority wasn’t handed over to us so we could make much of ourselves or to prop ourselves us.

 

We’ve been given authority to empower others and point them towards freedom. By trusting God’s authority, we are able to steward the authority we’ve been trusted with well. God’s love should be the driving force in our lives because this is what God uses to bring His Kingdom to bear in this world. What are you doing with the authority you’ve been given?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, all too often I make decisions based on my needs, my desires and what I feel is in my best interest.  Lord help me to understand how my willingness to submit to Your authority impacts others. Jesus teach me to live under Your authority, trusting that by doing so You will transform my heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 22, 2017, 5:00 AM

What would it look like for you to “go and live”?


Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:1-11

 

Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened to the woman caught in adultery. We don’t know if this encounter with Jesus changed her infidelity to devotion, her lust to true love and her sin to a sincere desire to know the one who said, “I do not judge you.” But, you have to believe this encounter shook her to her core. She had been caught in an act that was punishable by death. She had been drug across town into the temple courts and cast before a group of people to be judged. Punishment was inevitable. She knew it and the crowd knew it as well. But, then she encounters Jesus and she is now free.

 

Jesus enters in this situation and upsets the normal course of events by accepting the woman without approving of the sin. Jesus doesn’t bring up the act and start talking about adultery or the other sinful things she has done. His focus is on the future. It’s a picture of love and forgiveness where the charge is “I’ve forgiven you. Now go walk in it.”  This is a message we all need to hear. Many of us struggle to understand the concept of grace, especially when it comes to past shortcomings and failures in our relationships. Sometimes forgiveness seems almost unobtainable.

 

 There are those who operate every single day from a place of constant condemnation, whether it is from themselves or others. They carry the baggage of past relationships with them into the future. They also hold onto their guilt and shame while at the same time try to walk with God. The problem with this is that when one lives under this constant condemnation they cannot have life. They are incapable of living freely. Why? When the junk that we have created in the past frames our lives, we are imprisoned to live a life shaped by fear, guilt, and shame. What does this story mean for YOU? Where do you see yourself in her story? If you were to remove the particular circumstance of her position, and enter yours, aren’t you in the same position as she was? We are all in need of that same Savior. Jesus entered the picture so that we don’t have to live like this anymore.

 

When Jesus said, “Go now and leave your life of sin,” He wasn’t saying “Go and earn back your life,” He was saying you have been given life, now go and do something with it. Take what you have encountered through me, allow it to shape who you are, and live it out. Let it spill out into every area of your life. This doesn’t mean from this point forward that we aren’t going to face fear, or feel pain when we see those who have carried the stones in the past. What it does mean is that we are no longer defined by it. We are to live freely under the authority of God and His grace. The demands of the law are replaced by grace. This is what should now define us. God is saying to us all: now go and live. What would it look like for you to “go and live”?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to go and live. Lord allow me to walk and trust in Your freedom. Jesus teach me to view myself through my new identity in You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 22, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you trying to rewrite history?


I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14

 

Many of us walk into the future looking backward hoping to rewrite history. We carry our own burdens, regrets, mistakes, and failures because we believe we are responsible for making our past right. A mixture of guilt and pride clouds our version of redemption.  Because we can’t see redemption we don’t think it is possible. What we have to understand is that it is impossible to return to the beginning of this game of life. This is why we need to be reminded over and over again of Paul’s words found in Philippians 3.

 

We are not people with problems needing to be fixed and character flaws needing to be changed, but a people looking for direction. As hard as it is for us to hear, the truth is that the past is irreparable.  Our wounds cannot be fixed, but they can be healed. The hope we can cling to is that the future is always available. There may be scars, mistakes, and failures, but there is a story of victory where everything that was wrong has been made right. We need to stop being so concerned about the past we have no control over and begin to focus on a future filled with hope in a passionate pursuit of God. Where are you trying to rewrite history? What would it look like to leave the past in the past?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may I finally come to the realization that I am incapable of rewriting the past. Yesterday is in the books, but unlimited potential exists for today. Yet, this will not come if I keep clinging to the baggage of the past. Lord help me to focus not only to the future, but towards Your grace and mercy. Jesus my hope is that I would forget the past and focus on how You are transforming me today. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 20, 2017, 5:00 AM

What would it look like for God to free you from your past?


But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Even though it is in the past, many of our wounds still feel fresh. When someone gets too close and touches them, we cringe and recoil. They hurt too much. They remind us of things we wish we could forget. But, the pain brings those events back to the surface. We relive the hurt all over again. Sometimes these wounds come at the hands of others. It might have been harsh words, inconsiderate actions or unspeakable events. Other times, these wounds are a result of our own heart making an appearance in a not so nice way. Broken promises, lies, addictions, bad behavior or exchanging our integrity for some immediate need.

 

Regardless of how these wounds and scars became a part of us, our reaction to them is the same. We hide from our past because of shame, judgment, and disappointment. We cover up our scars from God and others. We keep everyone at a safe distance. Our scars become our identity. Anytime we look in the mirror, the only reflection we see staring back at us is our hurt and shame. Without even knowing it, our past can infiltrate our present and influence our future. We walk into the future looking backwards. Rather than seeing what is ahead, we spend our days captivated by the rearview mirror. Something must change.

 

If we allow our past experiences to define our future, our future will look no different than our past.  For God to transform our character He must have access to “all of us,” including our past and our future. We need to learn from our past, not be defined by it. We must review our past experiences looking for God’s presence instead of using it to build a case for not moving forward. Jesus shows us His scars to remind us that He cares about our own. He meets our shame with forgiveness. We might see brokenness, but Christ sees beauty. From our limited perspective, we convince ourselves that due to our past there is no way God can use us to make a difference in this world. Yet, God uses us as instruments in the lives of others.

 

God chooses us despite our past. We are free from trying to change our past when we understand His promise to redeem it. God can take any brokenness and turn it into a perfect picture of His love. So, what would it look like to turn your scars into a beautiful story of redemption? What would it look like for God to free you from your past?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I do my best to hide my scars from You and everyone else. Every time notice my scars I feel ashamed. The pain seems so fresh. I relive those moments again and again. Lord if I’m being honest, I’ve allowed my wounds and scars to define me. Today, may I expose my wounds and allow them to be touched by Your grace, mercy, and love.  Jesus allow me to trust that in the midst of my brokenness that You saved me and redeemed me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Even though it is in the past, many of our wounds still feel fresh. When someone gets too close and touches them, we cringe and recoil. They hurt too much. They remind us of things we wish we could forget. But, the pain brings those events back to the surface. We relive the hurt all over again. Sometimes these wounds come at the hands of others. It might have been harsh words, inconsiderate actions or unspeakable events. Other times, these wounds are a result of our own heart making an appearance in a not so nice way. Broken promises, lies, addictions, bad behavior or exchanging our integrity for some immediate need.

 

Regardless of how these wounds and scars became a part of us, our reaction to them is the same. We hide from our past because of shame, judgment, and disappointment. We cover up our scars from God and others. We keep everyone at a safe distance. Our scars become our identity. Anytime we look in the mirror, the only reflection we see staring back at us is our hurt and shame. Without even knowing it, our past can infiltrate our present and influence our future. We walk into the future looking backwards. Rather than seeing what is ahead, we spend our days captivated by the rearview mirror. Something must change.

 

If we allow our past experiences to define our future, our future will look no different than our past.  For God to transform our character He must have access to “all of us,” including our past and our future. We need to learn from our past, not be defined by it. We must review our past experiences looking for God’s presence instead of using it to build a case for not moving forward. Jesus shows us His scars to remind us that He cares about our own. He meets our shame with forgiveness. We might see brokenness, but Christ sees beauty. From our limited perspective, we convince ourselves that due to our past there is no way God can use us to make a difference in this world. Yet, God uses us as instruments in the lives of others.

 

God chooses us despite our past. We are free from trying to change our past when we understand His promise to redeem it. God can take any brokenness and turn it into a perfect picture of His love. So, what would it look like to turn your scars into a beautiful story of redemption? What would it look like for God to free you from your past?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I do my best to hide my scars from You and everyone else. Every time notice my scars I feel ashamed. The pain seems so fresh. I relive those moments again and again. Lord if I’m being honest, I’ve allowed my wounds and scars to define me. Today, may I expose my wounds and allow them to be touched by Your grace, mercy, and love.  Jesus allow me to trust that in the midst of my brokenness that You saved me and redeemed me. 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 121-125 of 283