Devotionals
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June 23, 2017, 5:00 AM

Who do you know that could use a helping hand or some genuine comfort? 


He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we may be able to comfort those in any trouble, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

I don’t know about you, but for the longest time the act of leading others to Christ seemed intimidating to me. I would build it up in my head, and worry that I will come across as a fraud. I would think about inviting a friend or coworker to church, get up the courage to do it and then change my mind the minute I opened my mouth. I was scared they would think I was pushing my faith onto them. What I didn’t realize, is that my actions and my story introduce those around me to Christ every day. I heard the statement one day, “Your relationship with Jesus is personal, but it is not private.”

 

Building a relationship with Christ changed my life and continues to change my life every day as I walk with Him, learn from Him, and reach for His Truth in the Bible for hope, guidance, and wisdom.  I am truly grateful to have met and been saved by Jesus, and to be able to share my story and tell others about that relationship.  To pass on His gift of comfort to someone else is the most important and meaningful work on this earth 2 Corinthians 1:4 makes it incredibly clear, that we are able to use our story, our struggles, and the comfort we have found in God to help comfort someone else and show them the true source of that comfort.

 

Sharing God with others is like reaching out with one hand to help a friend while grasping on tightly with the other hand to Jesus, who has helped you and continues to support and comfort you every day. Who do you know that could use a helping hand or some genuine comfort?  What would it look like to take some time and share your story with a friend who may not know Jesus like you know Jesus?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, Thank You for my story and Your work in my life. Lord give me the strength to share my story and the story of Your grace, support, and comfort. Jesus I have friends, family, and coworkers who need Your comfort and I know I can share that with them. Help me to share Your love today and every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




June 22, 2017, 5:00 AM

How are you reflecting Christ’s heart in your relationships?


For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Today’s passage reminds us that we are God’s workmanship and have been created to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. It is important to keep in consideration that some individuals may not be aware that God has a purpose for them. By being in relationships with others, we have the opportunity to grow together. As you consider the people you are in a relationship with, remember God made them for a purpose.

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 speaks to the “in it together” mentality of a community. Each person plays an important role in the body of Christ. Yet, this Scripture goes a step further in our goal to remain united. In verse 26, we learn that “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” How do you typically respond when someone you know makes a wrong decision or is going through a hard time? Do you suffer with them? Do you desire to carry that burden? Are you there to pick up the part of the body that has fallen?

 

Verse 26 also speaks about rejoicing. Do you rejoice when a part is honored? When others receive something, are you happy for them? Or do you feel as if you deserve something as well? All too often, we tend to envy the accomplishments of others or wish we could get some sort of recognition, but if we see ourselves as a part of the same body then when one part receives honor we all do. We must compassionately pursue relationships that were made for God. Relationships provide us the opportunity to not only reveal God’s character but to experience something bigger than us. A God-centered community is intentional about each individual within it.

 

The individuals have a responsibility to encourage each other in their walks with God: to love one another by making these relationships a priority, to be authentic and to experience accountability.  The hope is by understanding the point of a redemptive community you will be further strengthened in your walk with God and see how important each individual is to our overall impact as believers. Community is a group of people that are radically devoted to God, to one another and to the world we are called to serve. Community is where God penetrates our world. Our challenge is to reveal Him to others.  Who do you know that needs to be encouraged? How are you reflecting Christ’s heart in your relationships?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may I look for ways to encourage others today. Lord give me the eyes to see where You are moving in their life. Jesus help me to point out the good so they can be spurred on to pursue Your heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 21, 2017, 5:00 AM

Would you say you are a person of integrity?


The man of integrity walks securely. Proverbs 10:9

When you were a kid you never understood why sweets were off limits before dinner or how a chocolate chip cookie or two could ruin your appetite. In your young mind, parents were cruel dictators who forced you to eat your vegetables. With your belly growling, mom distracted by another sibling, you just happen to stroll into the kitchen.  Your eyes instantly lock on the cookie jar. Your heart starts beating a million miles a minute. Your mind goes through all the different scenarios that could take place.

 

It might be your sugar deprivation, but you swear those cartoon characters appear on both shoulders giving you differing advice about what to do. From what you can tell, it all comes down to two choices:  be patient and wait until after dinner for your delicious treat or sneak in when no one was looking, devour it quickly and pray that you don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. If you were like me, you took the advice of the oh-so-wise Cookie Monster and thought that “C is for cookie and that is good enough for me.”

 

The choices that seemed like a matter of life and death as a kid (glue your mom’s vase back together or come clean, tell your dad you spilled Kool-Aid on the brand new carpet or blame your sister, cheat on a test or get the grade you deserve) seem almost trivial now as an adult. Yet, what we have failed to realize is that as the choices we are faced with become greater so do the consequences for our actions. Often we aren’t faced with choosing between good or evil, but rather better or best. These gray areas make it increasingly difficult to take the right course of action because we can justify in our minds that we will be the only one who knows, that it is not that big of a deal, or we can get away with it without anyone having the slightest clue.

 

Instead of taking the time to examine the hole in our heart, we become experts at hiding our real selves. Integrity sounds good in theory, but if we are honest we see it more as an inconvenience. After all, we deserve what we want when we want it. Life becomes more about our immediate gratification than the condition of our heart. What it comes down to is a lack of trust in God. We think that just like our parents were holding out on us with the cookies before dinner, God might not come through. We take matters into our own hands and our actions become just reactions rooted in fear and insecurity. Would you say you are a person of integrity? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the ways that you? How do these “gray” areas complicate the everyday choices you need to make?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to be the same person when I’m in a crowded room or behind closed doors all by myself. Lord open my eyes to those places where I exchange my character and influence for immediate gratification. Jesus teach me to walk in such a way that people see Your reflection in everything that I do. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 20, 2017, 5:00 AM

How would you describe your receptiveness to God’s Word?


The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who HEAR IT and TAKE TO HEART what is written in it, because the time is near. Revelation 1:1-3

In today’s passage Jesus, through the apostle John, is talking to seven churches in Asia about what He sees taking place in their body. In each letter, Jesus challenges and encourages every community. He calls them to greater things and reminds them to not lose sight of their mission. It would be very easy to think that these letters to ancient churches have nothing to say to you or us as a body of believers.  But, you’d be mistaken. Time goes by, but the human heart remains the same. Old issues often reappear. One can’t help but notice these truths when they read the first three chapters of Revelation.

 

Even though this book was written over 2,000 years ago and was speaking to the first century church, if you took the names off the letters you might mistake them for Jesus addressing the church of today. As a community of believers, we can’t rest on what we’ve done in the past and grow comfortable. We must not lose sight of the mission that still lies before us. A growing relationship with Christ requires increasing submission.  Each one of us must tune our ears and listen carefully and attentively to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us individually and as a church body.  Maybe this is why John opens his letter with a promise of a blessing to those who hear the words of Jesus and take them to heart.

 

The fact is that the phrase “whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” appears 7 times in the first three chapters of Revelation.  Let me ask you some big questions: How would you describe your receptiveness to God’s Word? If God were to write a letter to you, what would He say? What would God commend you for? What issues would He point out that you need to work on or are lacking?  Let’s make these questions a bit more personal. What is God doing in your life for the sake of what He wants to do through the church as a body? How are you leaning in to the issues of the church? Where are you contributing? Could God be talking to you in what He is saying to the church?

 

Everyone contributes something to everyone. Every person who is welcomed into the body of Christ contributes something to the body. Every part matters. It will be impossible for us to become a truly great church without a shared sense of ownership. God has delegated the responsibility of displaying His love, to the body of Christ. Each part of the body participating in this effort is critical in reflecting His image. If one part is not fully engaged it lessens the overall influence and impact of the body. He has drawn you to Himself and placed you in this body for a purpose.  That purpose is to reach those you know and help them walk with God.   

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, in the chaos of this world, I often don’t slow down long enough to quiet my heart and listen to Your Spirit. Lord help me to be intentional about doing this today.  Speak to those places in my life where I am resistant towards change or growth. Jesus give me the courage to submit them to You. Allow my life to bring glory to Your name. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 18, 2017, 5:00 AM

There is a danger in our focus being on what we can do for God rather than what He has done for us.


When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:13

There is a danger in our focus being on what we can do for God rather than what He has done for us.  Even though God’s grace provides freedom, many of us live our lives exhausted. A sense of relief is nowhere to be found. Culture tells us to earn our love, and prove our worth.  When we try to rid ourselves of the performance mindset it feels like an impossible task.  We know that grace saves but we struggle to understand that grace is enough. We spend our days trying to show God that He made the right decision by saving us. We run ourselves ragged attempting to “convince” God we are valuable.

 

We get bogged down with the rigidness of religion instead of relaxing in the grace that provides the security of the relationship. Our attention gravitates towards what we can do for God rather than being blown away by what He has done for us.  Without even knowing it, this influences the intimacy we feel with God. The impossible standard of the law has us walking on pins and needles. We worry that if we mess up or drop the ball, He will be angry or disappointed. This stifles the value of discovery. On the flip side, if we jump though enough hoops performing good deeds then we will receive His affection. This leads us down the dangerous path of “look what I did, now you owe me.”

 

Our effort becomes our sacrifice.  Under the old law sacrifices were necessary to ensure our favorable standing with God. However, under the new law Jesus’ death on the cross served as the ultimate sacrifice, once and for all.  We now operate not on a scale of checks and balances, but under an umbrella of grace.  If we still operated on a scale of checks and balances none of us would be in good standing with God.  “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” James 2:10

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, today I will rest in Your grace knowing it is the only thing that can truly set me free. Lord release me from the bondage of my self-effort that is fueled by stubborn pride. Jesus help me to trust that the cross changes everything. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.


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