Devotionals
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July 17, 2017, 5:00 AM

Our desire for self-preservation is often at the expense of developing authentic relationships.


“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:25-28

 

Through the years of trying to make ends meet I have become a skilled interviewer. Any question an employer could pose to a potential candidate I’ve been asked. Of course, you had your run of the mill quandaries like “what’s your greatest weakness?” or “what skills do you possess that make you stand above the rest? “ Then there were those questions that seemed to come out of left field. I’ll never forget when I got asked with a straight face: if you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why? After wondering what this question had to do with me working retail, I began to consider my answer. I figured it was probably best to steer clear of skunk and porcupine because those animals are clearly not team players. Should I say a cheetah and talk about how I’m a fast worker? Maybe pick a vulture because I’m ruthless when going after a sale? I ended up choosing a duck billed platypus. Needless to say, that response was quickly followed with a “Thanks for your time…we’ll keep your resume on file.”

 

Here’s the thing about that interview question. A chameleon would be a fantastic answer. They are easily adaptable workers. They are able to deal with a change in surroundings. Chameleons don’t stick out or cause any personnel issues. These lizards just do their job quietly and fade into the background. Sometimes you don’t even know they’re around.  Even though chameleons would excel in the business world, they are a horrible choice if you want to build intimate relationships with others. Chameleons have shallow friendships. Their ability to change colors is a defensive mechanism. It keeps not only predators at bay, but everyone else as well. No one gets close.

 

Chameleons change who they are based on their surroundings. Seeing their true colors is near to impossible. Sadly, many of us live our lives as chameleons. Often times you have been three different people before lunch. Your “Sunday” you looks nothing like the other you that you portrait during the rest of the week. You’ve got your work friends, neighborhood friends, Facebook friends and your church friends and they all are given a different picture of who you are. Then, there is your family, who see what you’re like when you let your guard down. They see the good, bad and the ugly. No one can blame you for your chameleon tendencies. We live in a culture where acceptance trumps character and friends trump integrity.

 

But, our spiritual lives aren’t limited to our Bibles, church service or small group. It shows up everywhere. We can’t compartmentalize our faith. When we broadcast more than one message, we are telling the world we are confused about who we are. Consequently, everyone else becomes confused about who we are.   Jesus speaks to this reality in Matthew 23:25-28. In this passage, Jesus condemns the religious leaders for sending out mixed messages. Outwardly they appeared to have it altogether, but inwardly they were full of corruption, greed and hypocrisy. It is extremely dangerous to live one way and say you are something else. You can’t be fully loved unless you are fully known. Even more importantly, you can’t fully love others without fully embracing the love God has for you. Without it, you’ll resort to chameleon mode in your relationships in search for that elusive fulfillment only His love can provide.

 

This ruins our relationships. Hypocrisy always leads to isolation and destroys your ability to have intimacy. Because you are a different person to everyone, over time you lose your ability to truly connect to anyone. The barrier to developing authentic relationships is self-preservation. If we are more concerned with our own self-preservation we will hide behind an image that we want others to believe about us. Our desire for self-preservation is often at the expense of developing authentic relationships. How do you wrestle with being a chameleon and sending out mixed messages of who you are to others? What causes this self-preservation?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, instead of changing who I am to suit my surroundings, may I show my true colors to others. Lord help me to live authentically and transparently. Allow me to expose who I am, the good as well as the bad, to those who care for me. Jesus I desire to worship You with my whole heart.  Teach me to do so each day.  In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 16, 2017, 5:00 AM

Is there one fear that tends to dominate your thought life lately?


Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 JOHN 4:18

Insight

As I write this I have just finish 2 camp and still have one next week.  Sponsoring at these camps and sharing Christ’s love with all these kids has been an amazing experience as always. But it has spurred at one of my biggest fears which revolve around my parenting skills. I am constantly anxious about how we can teach our children the facts of life without them falling victim to the culture’s views on sex, dating and marriage.  My anxieties can easily become fear.  The thing about fear is that it forces us to disallow God to be God, because we rely on self instead of Him. This means we need to stop thinking we’re in control, and start really believing in God and relying on Him.

 

There are there a few things we need to do in order to turn our fear over to God:

1. Be real with ourselves. I messed up God’s plan for intimacy very early in life. What if our children make the same mistakes we made? That’s where my fears come from; I am projecting my own regrets onto my children’s future.

2. Understand the difference between caution and fear. Caution is wise movement; fear is stagnant. If we choose fear around this topic by overly sheltering our children, they won’t have the information they need to take care of themselves. Instead we need to move forward by explaining God’s heart for these areas of their lives.

3.Give God all of ourselves. God wants 100% of us because He gave all of Himself to us through Jesus. I take that to mean God wants my wife and I to always seek Him first and if we do, He will give us the words and examples to share with our children about His plan for sex, dating and marriage. And just like our relationship with Him, it’s not going to be a one-time discussion. It’s too important for that.

4.Be willing to stand in truth. Culture flies in the face of God’s plan for us. I can’t control my children’s decisions, but I can give them God’s blueprint, trust them to make good choices, and know God’s grace covers all OUR mistakes. All of mine and all of theirs.

 

So I can I ask you a few questions?  Is there one fear that tends to dominate your thought life lately? Do you have any reason to believe God isn’t interested in helping you in this area? What would it look like to trust Him to cast out this fear?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your perfect love, demonstrated through Christ’s death on our behalf. Jesus help me to abide in You and give You every concern, large and small. Lord I know it’s a fallen world, teach me to let the light of Your Word pierce the darkness and cast out my fears , for Your glory, and for others to see there is a better way. In Jesus name, Amen.




July 14, 2017, 5:00 AM

What do your actions say about what’s occurring inside your heart?


My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. PROVERBS 4:20-23

 

To say my car is a tad messy would be the understatement of the year. It looks like a bomb went off in it. Don’t ask me how it got this way. Last I remember my car was tidy and clean. But, slowly over time, a fast food wrapper or two made an appearance. Then it was some water bottles that showed up next. Before I knew it, there were some tools left in there from some work I did a couple of weeks ago. Add in some empty shopping bags, old sonic cups and straw wrappers, stray receipts, and you have a complete mess.  But, here’s the weird thing. Over time I’ve grown comfortable with the chaos and mess.  I’ll look around my car and recognize things aren’t as they should be, but it doesn’t move me to act. I promise myself that next weekend will be the time I finally clean it out, but something always seems to come up. So, the clutter remains and gets worse over time.

 

Unfortunately, most of us treat our hearts similar to the way I take care of my car. We don’t pause and consider what’s happening on the inside. We’re so busy with all the things of life that we forget to number our days and tend to our hearts. We become so preoccupied with getting our lives to a manageable point or a better future that we miss both the moment right now and the reality of the coming eternity. We don’t realize the damage ignoring our hearts can cause. Our actions and behaviors are just symptoms of a greater problem. They serve as revealers to what is taking place inside our heart. Every single action has some underlying belief that remains below the surface if we don’t pause and reflect. Why do I do what I do? What is driving my behavior? What do my actions say about what’s occurring inside my heart?

 

Instead, we settle for behavior modification, rather than true heart change. We are after a transformation that we can’t accomplish on our own. We might be able to change our behavior, but we are incapable of mending our heart. We focus on behavior. God focuses on the heart. We must position ourselves to focus and depend on God’s work in our hearts and lives. And the most important thing we can do is depend on Him. Our efforts are not the source of the change we are after; they can’t be. Rather, they get us in a position for God to change us.  What do your actions say about what’s occurring inside your heart? In what situations is God transforming your heart?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to tend to my heart. Lord teach me not to settle for changing my behavior, but rather trust that You are willing to transform my heart. Jesus help me to trust the process. Give me the endurance to continue on when things get challenging. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 13, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where is worry choking out the fruitful work of God in your life?


That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:35-41

 

In the midst of our uncertainty we often second guess and doubt that God has our best interest at heart. Just like the disciples caught in the storm, we picture an indifferent God. We reason He has little concern for the circumstances we are facing. Worry forces us to drift towards questioning God and wondering if He cares. Worry produces uncertainty in a mind that has no better alternative. It takes root in faulty thinking. If we allow our minds to focus on the world, we will look around, and fear will take over.  Worry will take root, and faith will lose out.

 

When we are afraid, we accuse God of being indifferent: Can’t you see what is happening?  Do you not care?  This is what is happening to the disciples in today’s reading.  Looking around, they are afraid.  Their circumstances were stealing their peace and their faith. They start to freak out. Worry took root, and fear took over.  Yet, there is a truth that they are about to encounter.  Take a moment and reread the passage again slowly. Get a picture of this scene in your minds.  Jesus gets up startled from being awaken but even more so by their question. “Do I care?  You are wondering if I care?”

 

He pauses to calm the storm before He addresses them. “Hold on one second; let me get these gale force winds to chill and the raging sea to quiet down so we can talk.”  His question cuts to their heart. “Why are you afraid?  Do you have no faith?”  Do you notice the connection between fear and the absence of faith? Jesus reminds us that if He is with us who can be against us.  He invites us to trust that our lives are valuable and lie beyond our circumstances.  Worrying chokes out the fruitful work of God in our lives. Our need to control our circumstances prevents us from letting go of our worries and concerns. Worrying highlights one’s perspective by revealing his or her picture of God.

 

When our concerns convert over to worry, we develop a perspective that causes one to function as though God does not exist. Worry, concern, anxiety, fright, and panic are all different levels of fear, and they all wreak havoc on our walk. The Bible says that God didn’t give us the spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).  The challenge before each one of us is how we will respond to a situation we have no control over and no knowledge of the end result. Worrying sheds light on how we define and deal with uncertainty. God has promised us that He will be with us. This is the truth we must lean on when everything in us wants to freak out. Where is worry choking out the fruitful work of God in your life? In what situations are you holding on to your worry?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, forgive me for accusing You of not caring.  Lord help me to not use my circumstances to justify my responses and let worry rushes in.  Jesus teach me to fix my mind on You and trust that Your peace will guard my heart and mind.  Help me to recognize that this is for the sake of Your glory and not my own.  In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 12, 2017, 5:00 AM

What do your fears say about your view of God? 


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

What do your fears say about your view of God?  In the midst of our anxiety or when we are facing uncertainty, this question rarely, if ever, gets answered. We’re too busy looking for ways to gain back control, experience sanity, or hide our struggles from God and others. Fear can cripple our faith and destroy our connections with those around us. We get to choose between trusting God with our fears or having our lives ruined by them.

 

Even though fear is an emotion we experience before something occurs, our anxiety and despair can get its fuel from our past experiences.  They create an emotional imprint that guides our future reactions, when we encounter similar situations. If we paused and took a moment to examine our hearts, we’d come to the realization that living in fear is living as if God doesn’t exist. We might know in our mind that God is our protector, but we fail to believe it in our heart. Instead, we fall for the lie from the enemy that God has forsaken us, having left us to figure it out on our own. Or simply, that He doesn’t care about us at all.  When we choose fear, we make a decision that we are safer, relying on our own understanding and abilities, than trusting God.

 

Yet, the idea that God would abandon us in our greatest time of need is completely contrary to God’s heart and nature. Throughout Scripture, we see God tell individuals who are gripped by fear to not be afraid. Why? Because He is with them. Because He loves them. Because He views them as valuable. No matter what we might be facing, we can have complete confidence that the God of the universe is by our side. Overcoming our fears and healing our fear based wounds requires that we honestly interrogate the depths of our faith.  God is the conqueror of every fear we have.  We must keep this truth in front of us because a life of faith requires us to face uncertainty, troubling situations, and difficulty.

 

After all, without fear, there is no courage and not much faith. The trying times present us with an opportunity to walk in what we believe about God. By displaying courage, we are acknowledging our reliance on Him. What are the small fears that keep you from stepping into God’s purpose for your life?  And I’ll ask it again, what do your fears say about your view of God?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, when fear makes an appearance in my heart, give me the courage to address it. Lord remind me that I am loved, cared for and valued by You and that no matter where my feet may take me, You are right by my side. Jesus I shall not fear because You are with me, help me to walk in this assurance. 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 126-130 of 283