Devotionals
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July 11, 2017, 5:00 AM

What’s the next step in God’s vision for you?


Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, 
but happy is he who keeps the law. PROVERBS 29:18

You’ll never make a sacrifice for the Kingdom of God when your greatest concern is your own needs and well-being. We often speak about faith, but deep down inside we crave certainty. Rather than yearning for certainty, we must pursue clarity. Clarity is knowing what you should do. God’s desire for us is to build bigger faith. Sadly, what we often want is less risk. When God gives us the ‘WHAT’ and ‘WHY,’ we find ourselves continually asking ‘HOW?’ Our mind begins to race over what the future holds and the thousand decisions and outcomes that might follow down the line.  It takes us down a path where we second-guess everything and live our lives based off of our circumstances and feelings.

 

This must change and it begins by crafting a vision for your future. In order to decide, you must know the person God wants you to become. Your decisions move you either towards or away from that picture. Fear and insecurity often threaten our willingness to trust that we can become that person. We drift towards settling for immediate gratification simply because we can’t see any farther down the road. This is a vision problem.  The opposite of vision is not being blind, but rather being scattered. In other words, if you don’t have a vision for the person you want to become, you’ll be all over the map when it comes to your decision-making ability. Vision frees us from regret. Psalm 119:105 says God’s word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.

 

Even though we desire a gigantic spotlight that illuminates the entire way, God may only gives us a flashlight to enable us to see a few feet ahead. We desperately want the end of the path to be clear and in a direction we desire before we even consider moving. What we fail to realize is the purpose of the path is our formation.  Your job is just to take that next step. The proceeding steps along the path are in the future. But, you can never get there if you don’t take that next step which is presented to you today. As we seek His face and meditate on His word, we become more confident in taking each step regardless of the uncertainty we might face.

 

All God is asking is for you to be concerned about the here and now and respond to each moment according to the purpose you were designed for, to display God by having his life and heart fully formed in you. This requires motion and movement. It begins by stewarding each moment and viewing it as an opportunity to work towards expressing God’s love to those around you. What’s the next step in God’s vision for you? 

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to see Your vision for the person I am to become.  Lord I desire that both my words and my actions would bring You glory. Jesus help me to see every decision I face in light of that vision. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 10, 2017, 5:00 AM

What does it mean to live a life without abandon for Christ?


In Him, we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11

 

We will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:15-16

 

Sometimes it seems like the only way to show Christ’s transforming love in our lives is to sell everything we own and move to another country to share the good news of the Gospel. To some this probably doesn’t sound very attractive.  The thought of abandoning everything for Christ is scary to us all.  It doesn’t come natural to me either.  You see I’m a planner, and I can get so caught up in my own headstrong plan that I often have to force myself to stop and back up, and ask myself “what does God desire for me?”  What if God really could come to me in the middle of my perfectly organized life and bring me to my knees for His righteousness?

 

It seems harder to transform my own life, my here and my now, to one that is Christ-centered than traveling thousands of miles to sit with strangers. This is because the life I’ve lived thus far isn’t my ending in God’s story.  I have the freedom through Christ to be transformed.  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul takes a striking stance that as Christians we are part of God’s plan, and that each of us is predestined to do the work for which Christ leads us. Not because any of us are perfect or Christ-like but because we have so freely received the redemptive power of grace. And once we have received that grace, we become stronger in our faith. Joining together with fellow believers, each person has an assignment from the Lord to share their story of his grace in their lives.

 

God continues to teach me that He has perfectly placed me where He wants me, in this life, and in these situations to be a reflection of Jesus Christ.  He reminds us that our work, as part of the entire body of believers wholly joined together with Christ as our head, is important. He leads us to push outside of what is comfortable, to live a life that is without abandon for God. What does it mean to live a life without abandon for Christ? How do we push ourselves out of our comfortable homes and lifestyles in order to live a daring life, wild and free in sharing God’s message of hope?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I thank you for choosing me, for giving me grace that I did not deserve.  Lord I pray that I live a life worthy of the mission You have orchestrated for me, right here and now.  Jesus give me the strength to live boldly in Your Word and to serve Your Kingdom humbly. In Your names, Jesus. Amen.




July 9, 2017, 5:00 AM

Is there a person you are walking on eggshells around?


Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

 

It doesn’t matter if someone shares 99 encouragements, it’s the one criticism that occupies our minds. There is something about the negativity that resonates deeply within us. When we are stuck in our insecurities, we resist love. This puts us on the defensive in any conversation where our weaknesses are exposed.  We long for approval and anything that doesn’t validate us is seen as disapproval or the lack of acceptance. This serves as a crushing blow to our relationships and why remembering our identity in Christ is so important. We are able to see that we are more than our mistakes, shortcomings, and blemishes.

 

Yet, our insecurities and inadequacies cannot be excuses for bad behavior. Tiptoeing around each other’s eggshells will never lead to growth and transformation. If we remain silent, we play a part in causing others to remain stuck. Our silence speaks volumes about our love for one another. If we are unwilling to speak into each other’s lives, it says that the other person isn’t worth our effort. When we truly love another person, we are looking out for their good. We are searching for ways that God is working in their life. This goes much deeper than criticizing a behavior. Criticism focuses on cleaning up the current issue at hand so that we can get back to business as usual. On the other hand, a rebuke is more concerned with the person’s heart, not only the behavior.

 

Before this can take place, a common purpose must be found. This comes only through the act of listening. When we listen first, we enable God’s love to fill our hearts and for our mouths to become fountains of life. When we pause and listen, we allow the other person to be heard. This also gives an opportunity to hear God speaking to us.  We must work toward understanding. Without it, communication is impossible. If the person on the other side of the table doesn’t think you understand, your words will fall on deaf ears. They will feel judged and condemned causing their emotions to dictate their behavior. Some will shut down while others may lash out. Emotions will begin to dictate the conversation or lack there of.

 

In the midst of these crucial conversations, we have to understand that we are in it together. We must trust that the other person has our best interest at heart. The goal of correction is restoration. First and foremost, restoration is relational.  When we see the other person in the way God sees them, it changes our approach to the conversation. We desire what’s best for that individual. They matter to Him so they matter to us. We want nothing more than to see God working in their lives and for their full formation to be unhindered. This is the common purpose that should define all of our relationships. It is only when we define the common purpose that we can address the issues at hand and start dealing with the eggshells all around us. Is there a person you are walking on eggshells around?  What would it look like for you to want the best for them? How would having this mindset alter your approach to them?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, let me see people through Your eyes. Lord allow this grace-filled vision to direct and guide my conversations, and remind me to listen first and seek to understand. Jesus may the words I speak be grounded in love to the point where they gently nudge people in Your direction, where love, mercy, and true change is found. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 8, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where do you need God’s help to lead you away from a temptation?


When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15

 

If the enemy can get someone to believe their struggles with temptation are unique, he knows they will continue to hide and fight their battle all alone. When an individual’s struggle remains in the dark, they rely on pure self-will to fend off temptation. This improves the devil’s chances of overpowering the individual and making them feel helpless. They wave the white flag in surrender believing their only option is to give in to the temptation.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 Paul disagrees with this belief as he says God will “ show you a way you can endure.” Other translations say God provides “a way out.” We are not victims, but people who make bad choices and doubt that God truly knows best when it comes to our needs and desires.

 

Yet, the reality is God knows us intimately, even the things which pull at our heart strings and tempt us. The individual who has knowledge of the typical traps set by the enemy is the one who avoids stumbling blocks. So, how do we respond when we are tempted? We seek strength in community by being transparent about our struggle. We pray for God to provide us with eyes to see the escape route He provides us when facing a test or temptation. Most importantly we follow the wisdom found in Psalm 119:11 by “hiding your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

 

We must learn to seek His face and respond to His voice in our lives. We do this by finding what our next right step is when it comes to our personal struggle.  The first step for all of us is evaluating where we are most susceptible to fall for temptation and avoid these areas. Turning away is difficult, yet very necessary if we are to experience victory, pursue purity and take a stand against temptation. Where do you need God’s help to lead you away from a temptation? Where and when do you find yourself most vulnerable to fall to this temptation? Think about this personal struggle again.  Has part of you grown comfortable in this sin?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, purify my desires. Lord open my eyes to the place where I have turned away and looked towards lesser things to fulfill me. Jesus help me not feel hopeless when temptation arises, but walk securely in the strength You provide. Remind me that I am not obligated to sin and You have freed me from sin’s clutches through the cross. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




July 7, 2017, 5:00 AM

What would it look like to completely take Jesus into all you are?


Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53

The Bible is filled with hard truths and commands that go against our natural tendencies. We are told to forgive our enemies, not worry about tomorrow, and control our tongue. We desire security and stability yet, in Scripture we are commanded to walk by faith. Scriptures can be very black and white but we would rather live in the gray.  We’re urged to pick up our cross and follow Him daily.  Yet, we often want to compartmentalize our faith when it is convenient for us.  God doesn’t want part of your heart; He wants the whole thing.

 

Unfortunately, we tend to hesitate when it comes to this level of commitment. For some, this command is too much and instead they walk away. This reaction is nothing new. In John 6, a crowd gathered around Jesus demanding a sign showing His power.  They desired to see a miracle similar to that of their ancestors that ate manna in the wilderness. Their hope was that their daily physical needs would be met, but as always Jesus’ response catches them off-guard. He saw the deeper need at hand, so He utters the words, “Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you have no life in you.”

 

A statement like that has the ability to halt you in your tracks. Imagine being in the crowd at that very moment. This saying seems to come out of nowhere. What is one suppose to do with this? Jesus wanted the crowd to realize the depths of what it looks like to accept Him. The charge to embrace the reality of who Christ remains the same for us here and now, it is about taking Him completely into all we are.  The manna in the desert or the fishes needed to feed the 5,000 was enough to meet a person’s physical hunger. But, it is only a matter of time, before that physical hunger returns. The deeper need God is concerned about is our spiritual hunger. He is the one and only provision that can meet our need, the only place where life can be found.

 

So, just like the crowd, we are left with a decision and both choices are a challenge. It’s hard either way: walking away from Him or walking with Him. There were those in the crowd that day who counted the cost and reasoned that level of commitment was just too much to bear. They decided to go back to their old life and no longer followed Him. But, then there were those like Peter who realized there was nowhere else to turn in order to find the life they desired. Yes, it came with a cost, like laying down their pride, going the extra mile, and carrying that cross. Yet, it paled in comparison to what they were gaining. What would it look like to completely take Jesus into all you are?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God I know that the cost to following You is great, but it is worth it. Lord I desire for my life to be found in You. Jesus You, and You only, are my provision.  Help me to believe and trust in this truth. Show me how to completely take You into all that I am. 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 131-135 of 283