Devotions
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July 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

Who in your life needs to be encouraged today?



To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:7-13

 

Don’t confuse a lack of correction as a sign that the church in Philadelphia was perfect. They made their fair share of mistakes. Sometimes their actions didn’t line up with their words. They fell short in certain areas. There were arguments and disagreements that broke out. There were moments when they got discouraged and lost sight of the mission before them.  You might be wondering how I could possibly know this if Jesus never mentions any of their shortcomings. It’s simple. There’s no such thing as a perfect church.

 

If you are looking for that type of community, you will be thoroughly disappointed. Every church is made up of imperfect people who are reaching out to other imperfect individuals and inviting them to follow after Christ who brings order to their chaos. So, why didn’t Jesus shine a spotlight on all the places in Philadelphia where believers were messing up? After all, they needed to be addressed and fixed.

 

When I worked in the business world, every year I’d sit down with my boss and have my annual review. He would go through my performance highlighting my strengths and also “areas for improvements.”  Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired, but it didn’t matter if my boss spoke of 10 solid traits I possessed and only brought up one “area for improvement,” I’d leave the meeting only remembering my weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures. The attention to my weakness would overshadow any words of encouragement.

 

In the church world, sometimes we pay so much attention to our sins and struggles that we lose sight of the growth that has occurred in our character. Rather than being encouraged by God’s faithfulness in our transformation process, we harp on all the places where we fail. This mindset can very easily lead us to define ourselves by our sin instead of our identity in Christ. We wonder if we truly are a new creation when the “old us” makes an appearance more often than we like. We quickly become our own worst critic, as well as the judge who punishes ourselves for our failings.

 

Now, please hear what I am saying. Should we take eradicating our sin seriously? Yes. Is it important for God and our close friends to bring up some negative tendencies they see in our lives? Without a doubt. But, don’t underestimate the power of an encouraging word. Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that our tongues have the power to speak life and death. As believers, we should speak life with our words. We need to build up others by encouraging, strengthening and inspiring them to believe all that God says about them.  Who in your life needs to be encouraged today?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for the grace and mercy You show me. You love me in the midst of my imperfections. Lord help me not to become trapped by focusing on my sin.  Help me to trust that Your sacrifice has covered them all. Jesus teach me to encourage those You put in my path and see them as You see them, valuable. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

Today take the time to discover more about the people around you.



My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

To answer before listening – that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13

A common cultural phenomenon is the “how are you?” drive-by. This takes place when one person out of habit asks another “how are you?”  The question serves no purpose because the asker walks past without even waiting to hear a response. The words no longer serve as a question, but have become the replacement for the regular greeting of “hello.” If someone actually bothers to stop and listen then an unspoken rule comes into play. Regardless of how you might actually be feeling, when posed this question you are required to follow common protocol in your response by saying “good,” “fine,” or “can’t complain.”

 

This exchange of formalities happens numerous times throughout the day. Chances are good that the overwhelming majority of them were ordinary and routine. You tried not to step on any toes while you both did the dance of self-protection.  Now imagine if you crossed the line and told someone how you were doing when they asked. Do you have a picture of what their response might be if you expressed that you were struggling with something in your life? Some would express their sympathy and then continue on their way while others might continue on having presumably heard the expected response of “good…and you?” A select few may actually stop in their tracks, drop what they are doing and take the time to listen.

 

Our culture has programmed us to keep people at arm’s length. Having perfected the art of image management, we struggle to develop deep relationships that go beyond the casual. The majority of our relationships, along with the conversations we participate in, remain at this basic level while we try to survive in self-preservation mode.  We center our sights on general issues while the important details of our life go largely ignored.  Time goes on, surface conversations continue and casual relationships get built on a false premise. Since we gain bits and pieces of information along the way, we confuse knowing about a person for truly understanding their whole story. Holding this mindset allows one to be lazy with asking good questions that drive to the heart. When it comes to our relationships, we often don’t honor the value of discovery.

 

All of us would say there are people in our lives we know really well. It could be a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker. What chapters of his or her story are you missing? Where do they doubt God’s faithfulness? What big life questions keep them up at night? How much do you know about the family they were raised in and the effects it had on shaping them into the husband or wife standing before you? Are they content in their marriage, career, and purpose in life? If they are a parent, do they feel hopeless when it comes to raising their kids? Are there areas in their life where their integrity is compromised? What past mistakes are they struggling to learn from? Who or what do they struggle to forgive?

 

Today take the time to discover more about the people around you. Dig deeper by asking good questions and listening. There’s probably a lot more happening below the surface than you can see.

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to listen first and speak second. Lord help me pursue understanding in my relationships. There are people all around me who have questions, scars, and doubts. They are just waiting for someone to listen. Jesus show me how to be that person today. In Your name, Jesus Amen.




June 28, 2017, 5:00 AM

God knows you better than you know you.



Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

 

Life comes at us quickly. We move at such a fast pace that we don’t think we have any time to spend on taking care of ourselves. As long as nothing is majorly wrong, we don’t pay attention to the condition our hearts. We often assume we are okay until we are not. Most of us desire to grow, but the formation we desire will never happen in a hurry. It requires us to slow down and take the time to reflect on our own, as well as invite other voices into the conversation. We need to slow down long enough to give some careful thought to what is going on below the surface of our lives.

 

Self-reflection is a vital part of our walk with God. In order for the reflection that leads to transformation to take root in our lives, we must learn the art of self-awareness and self-assessment. These two ideas are vitally connected to each other and don’t work without the other. Self-awareness without self-assessment is reckless and harmful. Knowing you have a short fuse or are prone to worry but do nothing to learn why you are that way will lead you to hurt yourself and others by just “being you.”

 

On the other hand, self-assessment without self-awareness is pretty much useless. The problem with just having self-assessment is that our heart can be deceptive and prevent us from noticing our blind spots or the raw, real condition of what is happening below the surface. Our hearts aren’t completely well and the truth is we can be easily fooled. Regardless of whether you are super self-aware or you are an avid self-assessor, we all need other voices in our lives to help us turn self-reflection into transformation.

 

An accurate assessment requires an authentic encounter with God. The only person who can understand the true condition of your heart is the One who created you. Psalm 139 speaks to the care, love, and grace God extends to each one of us. The reality is that God knows you better than you know you. This statement can leave some of us uneasy. Our greatest desire is to be known, but our greatest fear is to be known and not loved. We are worried that if God sees all of us that he will reject us. Yet, Scripture reminds us time and time again that God knows us fully and He loves us completely.

 

Being known by God is a safe place. So, why would we ever run? After all, Psalm 139 speaks to this being a futile venture anyway.  We cannot outrun God. We can run, but the truth is He is there. His pursuit of us is perfect.  God knows exactly where you are in relation to Him. He also knows who you were made to be.  God understands how you work: your personality, how you think, how you process and how you make decisions. He also recognizes what is going to trip you up, what’s going to tempt you every time, and what has the potential to bring you down. We shouldn’t assess ourselves against who we think we should be, but rather against who God has made us to be.

 

God knows us fully, loves us completely, pursues us perfectly, and created us wonderfully. So, in light of all this, what can we do to know the condition of our hearts? We should follow the lead of David when he makes a simple, yet incredible authentic request of God: search him and know him. When you encounter God authentically, it positions you to ask this question, “God, what do you see in me?” It’s only when you encounter God authentically that you will be able to see yourself accurately.

 

An authentic encounter with God takes time. You can’t do this in a hurry. An authentic encounter with God takes some tools: a Bible, a journal, and a pen. And lastly, an authentic encounter with God takes trust. Will you trust God with what He brings to light?  When you see the true condition of your heart, and it’s not as neat and tidy as you thought, will you trust Him?  To come before God and ask, “What do you see in me?” might just be the scariest thing you do, but it could also be the most formative thing you do. This honest encounter won’t just happen. It’s going to take intentional time, some helpful tools, and authentic trust.

 

This my Prayer: Father God, search me and know me. Lord I desire for my heart to change but this requires me to expose it to You. Jesus allow me to be vulnerable and transparent with You and others. Rather than rush the transformation process, help me to trust the process. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 27, 2017, 5:00 AM

God sees the leader inside of us long before others or even ourselves see it.



God sees the leader inside of us long before others or even ourselves see it. In the story of David, found in 1 Samuel 16. While David didn’t fit the “appearance” or have the credentials that everyone else was looking for, he was chosen by God.  If you look back a few chapters in 1 Samuel 8-10, Israel had ignored God’s direction and they chose a King for themselves. They chose Saul, based on his “qualifications”. In other words, he looked the part. Long story short, Saul didn’t make a good king, and was eventually rejected by God.

 

While this is a very brief description of everything that happened to get us to the place of David being anointed to become king, there is a truth that rings loud and clear.  There are times that God will give us what we ask for, even though it’s not what is best for us. I have seen this ring true in my life more times than I’d like to admit. There are things I have chased after, things I have willed myself to make happen, that simply were not God’s best for my life. And yet He allowed them to happen.

 

So what have I learned from these situations? That’s a fair question with a simple answer… I make a terrible God for myself! When left to my own vices, I mess stuff up more than I get it right and that’s a good thing. God is a redemptive God.  He has a way of turning my mess-ups into something beautiful, something unique, but that only happens when I come to a place of submission to Him. Now submission sounds like an unpleasant thing, but I believe some of the greatest growth comes in trusting that God knows what’s best for me more than I do!

 

This truth is echoed in Proverbs which was written by King David’s son. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (In other words, I’m not near as smart as I’d like to think I am) Choosing to trust God over self is the healthiest perspective we can have. That said, even when we blow it and we will from time to time, we are just one surrender away from growth and redemption.

 

This is my Prayer:  Father God, I know You call those You want to lead and You provide the opportunity they need to lead.  Lord help me to see past appearances, my own wants, and desires and trust in Your calling.  Jesus teach me to lead and live in Your redemptive power.  To have faith in Your forgiveness and purpose in my life and others.  In Your name Jesus. Amen.




June 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

When you hear the term “living sacrifice,” what comes to mind?



Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ROMANS 12:1-2

 

When you hear the term “living sacrifice,” what comes to mind? Is it a positive or negative figure?  We all want to make an impact with the time we’ve been given. We all desire to leave a mark on the world. We yearn for a deep satisfaction where we are content in the work of our hands. But, this will never occur if we don’t do the internal work required.  Each one of us has a God given purpose. It’s to make His name known. Yet, how we reflect and fulfill that purpose is unique. We all have been given different talents, gifts and passions. We all have been given a certain sphere of influence. We all have been positioned in our current place for a purpose.

 

Proverbs 20:5 says, “the purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” Sadly, most of us know ourselves only at the surface. We must possess the courage to look inside ourselves and draw out the purposes deep inside. You cannot find God’s purpose apart from God’s word.  Transformation doesn’t take place unless we are willing to sacrifice. Work is required. Understanding only occurs as a result of reflection and knowing oneself. In order to be used by God, we have to put ourselves in a position to be used. Direction occurs when our head and our heart are aligned and centered with His purposes.

 

Leverage is about position, while force is about effort. Effort tells us to pick up the pace. Everything is on our shoulders.  Leverage is when you become the pressure. Our pace needs to be fueled by our relationship with God. Leverage is simply the power to influence something in a particular direction.  It is about taking personal responsibility for the Kingdom of God and having a willingness to be a living sacrifice. One begins to leverage their life when they begin to understand God has given them the power to influence others through the way they live their life. Sacrifice isn’t about what we give up, but what we make available.

 

God has trusted you with the influence of His love and the integrity of His image. As you are transformed into the image of God, the opportunities for your life are to be used to display His kingdom increase as well.  God desires for every follower of His to use everything they’ve been given – every moment, every struggle, and every success – for the sake of His Kingdom. We have to look at everything we have, as well as all that we experience, both the good and the bad, and ask, “what is this for?”

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, open my eyes to the desires You’ve placed inside my heart. Lord I seek to understand not only my gifts and passions, but how I can leverage them to make Your name known. Jesus teach me to use everything You’ve given me to bring You glory. 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 141-145 of 285