Devotions
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 285
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.




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.


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 285