Devotionals
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June 17, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you with Christ these days?


Peter was the overzealous one of the bunch.  Out of the 12 apostles, Peter was on multiple occasions the one speaking for their cause, as well as taking on important responsibilities Jesus delegated such as preparing the Last Supper with John. Although Peter was a disciple in Jesus’ inner circle, his audacity at times cast him out into the confinement of his own emotions.  Peter, originally Simon but called Simon Peter or Cephas by Christ, is a figure in Scripture who frequently found himself having to be put in his place by Christ. He is well-known for his rash behavior.

 

When Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration in the presence of Moses and Elijah, it was Peter who giddily blurted out he would build three temples honoring each of them. Immediately God said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Put in his place. Peter cowered in silence. He realized it was not elaborate constructs that mattered to God. Like Peter, some of us warp God’s will for us. We grasp at ways to serve or just act somehow. We worry we are not doing enough. And although doing works can be a good thing, it is not exactly what God wants from us.

 

We all at times confuse God’s purpose for how to serve in His kingdom. But just like Peter at the transfiguration, God says listen to Jesus. That’s it. Peter appeared the overachiever in some cases, but he also had his fails. It was Peter who famously denied knowing Christ three times. It was Peter who Jesus told to sheath his sword when he attempted to defend the Christ by attacking the servant of the high priest. His brashness was his downfall.  Peter was the one attempting to meet Jesus when he walked on water. When he did, he let fear cause him to take his eyes off Jesus, and he began to sink. Of course Jesus saved him then chastised him for his lack of faith. Put in his place again. 

 

Ever feel like Peter? God, from time to time, puts us in our place. Maybe you are someone reaching for ways to serve. Maybe you are simply looking to find your niche in some circle. Perhaps you are searching for identity. By walking in a relationship with Christ, it is certain He will use you specifically. As Scripture reveals to us, Christ appeared to Peter and others after His resurrection. He reassured Peter of His mission and His presence, sending Peter to preach this to the people.   It was Peter who later spoke at a Pentecost gathering. He made known to those in attendance who were hearing the tongues of many languages that this was indeed the Holy Spirit (not drunken behavior or something else). Shortly after, he and John healed a lame beggar, saying “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have, I give to you.” He had the Holy Spirit.

And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ Acts 3:4-6

 

Christ used Peter for some big things. Recall however that Peter was just an ordinary fisherman with no real claim to high society. When Jesus called Peter, which means “rock,” He said He would make Peter a fisher of men. Imagine the discomfort followed by a long strand of burning questions! Yet, Peter dropped everything and followed Him still. As an apostle, Peter had his ups and downs. As human beings, we have our ups and downs. We do too much sometimes, and it causes us to question our place with God. Jesus Christ redeemed Peter from his fumblings. He became a key voice for Christ simply because he was with Christ.  Where are you with Christ these days? What is a pressing need for you? How are you interfacing with God?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for who You are and how You are. Lord You are steady and unchanging and I know You are at work in my life. Show me how You might use me for Your will. Jesus I give to You my longings and worries.  Strengthen me to follow You further. In your name, Jesus, amen. 




June 16, 2017, 5:00 AM

A new perspective can change everything about our relationships!


When we take the time to get to know people, it will transform the way we communicate with them.  If we choose to spend time learning about someone and their needs, we will relate to them differently.  The best and most effective conversations happen in the contexts of authentic relationships.  That may seem obvious, but I am saddened at how often Christians claim to be “speaking truth in love” while using this phrase as a weapon to ambush someone they have little to no relationship with.  I also find it ironic that this phrase, “speaking the truth in love”, originally intended for believers in Ephesus in regards to how they relate to one another (believer to believer), has become one that shapes how we relate to the world (believer to unbeliever).

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, 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 and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:15-16

 

We are called to be wise in the way we act toward those outside the faith.  This doesn’t mean showing how much truth we know.  It means relating to and communicating with others considerately, sincerely, and mercifully while loving peace.  These are extremely valuable Biblical principles given to help us relate to one another.  We do not have to shy away from the truth but we are called to be sensitive to the ones to whom we are communicating.  I believe we often feel pressure to share truth because we are passionate about our convictions and the freedoms we find in Christ.  This is a beautiful thing! 

 

However, we are instructed to be submissive, prayerful and wise in how we share.  Valuable and eternal communication happens over coffee, shared meals, and most often face to face.  Trouble and relational strain most often come when we are not willing to share our lives but we jump into sharing our truth.  Certainly, truth is not relative and we are asked to be brave in sharing the truth of Christ. Yet, I do not believe that it is necessary for everyone to know my opinion about every hot button issue in our culture.  When I have felt what I know to be actual nudging of the Holy Spirit to speak truth, it has mostly been in the context of relationships, ones in which I have been willing to share my time, myself, and my life.  If we are not willing to share these things, then we must ask ourselves if speaking the truth is the wise thing to do.

 

The Bible tells us that truth is best seen through the frame of a relationship and its goal is maturity, unity and love.  “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” Proverbs 25:11.  If we care about someone and our true desire is to share the truth of Christ with them, He will provide the right time and circumstance.  Ask God to show you when the time is right.

 

This is my Prayer: Father God You know I have messed this up more times than I like to think about, and I’m sorry for that.  Lord help me to be more dependent on You, especially when I attempt to speak truth to others. Help me to be wise and considerate and most of all loving.  Jesus thank You that Your law is simply summed up by loving You and loving others.  Teach me to communicate better so that others see Your love.  In Your name, Jesus.  Amen.     




June 15, 2017, 5:00 AM

How is Christ’s love compelling you to love others?


We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.  2 CORINTHIANS 10:13-18

 

Our character is the most powerful currency we have to influence others. The fuel to love the difficult people in our lives comes from knowing we have been trusted with the integrity of His image and influence of His love. Having felt the amazing love of Christ firsthand, we desire for others to experience the one thing that has transformed our lives. Forgiven people are to be forgiving people. Our relationships must be expressive. The Apostle Paul explains it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all have died.” In other parts of Scripture, Paul’s prayer for people within his care is that they would know how “wide, long, high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

 

He takes this personal investment a step further in Galatians 4:19 using the imagery of childbirth to describe the anguish he feels when others are hurting and do not know the love of Christ. Paul understood the only true source of hope for this lost world. Instead of pointing people to himself, he always directed others to the life of Christ.  Without Christ’s love serving as the fuel that drives us to respond, we find ourselves resorting to manipulation in our interactions with others. This leads us to attempt to be the conduit for change. The wrong source produces the wrong image. The difference between manipulation and influence is the motive.

 

We must learn to love in such a way that people respond to Him and not us. Jesus’ commission to make disciples was to proclaim a message of redemption and hope. This hope for lasting change rests solely in the hands of the Great Redeemer. Humans were never wired to walk through this world in search of hope, rescue, and forgiveness alone. God has placed the responsibility of being His hands and heart to this world solely on the Body of Christ. This mission to reach people and help them walk with God is a personal call He has made to each one of us. How is Christ’s love compelling you to love others? How are your relationships expressing Christ’s love?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God Lord I want to love other in such a way that they respond to You.  Lord help me to test my motives on a continual basis.  Jesus may I be filled with Your love so I don’t resort to manipulating others to fill that need to be loved.  Lord allow me to care with integrity.  Jesus I want the care I provide others to be pure and centered on the hope You provide. In your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 14, 2017, 5:00 AM

How can you be a party starter today?


“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’  So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Matthew 22:8-10

 

As believers, the way we live our lives should be contagious to others. Culture should take notice of how we live free and be curious as to what drives this freedom. Unfortunately, many of us live as if following Jesus excludes us from having any fun. Rather than inviting everyone to the party, we act like bouncers, checking the credentials of anyone who dares to enter our space. We live as if there is some exclusive VIP section where only special individuals are allowed behind the velvet rope.  If we’re honest with ourselves, Christians are more often known for being party poppers rather than party starters.

 

The closer we get to walking with Jesus, the easier it is to have smaller tables and bigger walls. If we’re not careful, our tables can shrink all in the name of godliness and holiness. When we respond this way, we break God’s heart and show a lack of understanding in the power the Gospel message holds. We act like everyone is not invited to the party, but they are. Everyone has received an invitation. Jesus doesn’t segregate. He integrates. Instead of building a wall, Jesus is calling us to build a bigger table. Loving God affects how we love others. Loving others affects how we love God. Being a party starter is part of our DNA as Christ followers. Having experienced the love of Christ firsthand, we have been set free and that is reason to celebrate. 

 

Jesus went to parties. Jesus told stories about parties. Jesus compared God’s Kingdom to a party. Jesus loved parties because he loved people. He understood that there is something that happens at a party that can’t happen anywhere else.  Sometimes it takes a party to change how we see each other. Sometimes it takes a party to demonstrate that God cares about people who party. Sometimes it takes a party to confirm we can always be forgiven. Sometimes it takes a party to prove that people matter more than opinions. Sometimes it takes a party to remind us that everyone is invited to the party.

 

A party is any effort to celebrate, serve, or enjoy each other in a way that adds value to life. Our interactions with others should leave a positive impact. Our faith is meant to be lived. Every single time we gather people together is an act of worship because we are demonstrate how God cares and loves. Every table is an altar. There has never been a more important time in history than right now to start acting like we believe everyone is invited to the party. If we don’t learn to love and serve, the power of the church diminishes. But, what if we started acting like everyone is invited to the party? How can you be a party starter today?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, let me celebrate the fact that I’ve been set free. Lord, in the midst of this celebration, help me remember that You are asking me to share and express to others the same hope I’ve given.  Jesus teach me to invite everyone to the table so I can pursue understanding, hear their stories, and share Your love with them. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 13, 2017, 5:00 AM

How does God come to you when you are in your place of loneliness and despair?


“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  1 Kings 19:11-13

 

How does God come to you when you are in your place of loneliness and despair? Throughout the Bible, we see individuals who are alone. Terrified, worried and confused, these individuals are in hiding. The stories of how they came to their hiding places vary, but they all have a common ending, God appears. He shows up on the scene not to belittle, judge, or condemn them.  He comes to ask personal questions that confront their brokenness and heal their hearts. When turmoil and confusion reigned, God continued to pursue and love them with compassion and grace.

 

The same is true with us. God meets us in our loneliness and He asks us the same question. What are you doing here?  If we don’t take the time necessary to search our hearts, answer this deep question and lean on the security God provides, our emotions and feelings will cause us to stumble during the storm loneliness brings. This is a scary venture for sure, but we don’t have to do it alone. Even in the midst of our pain, we are never truly alone. God promises His presence.  He promises that He will never leave or forsake us.

 

The feeling of loneliness does not equal the absence of God. Neither does it equate to a failure of faith on our part. In fact, embracing loneliness by answering the question “What are you doing here?” can be a way towards deeper faith and deeper dependency. God has already overcome what we are most afraid of.  He’s made a way for us to walk through it, but not avoid it. When we allow God to search us and speak to our deepest needs, wants and desires, we come to realize God can not only redeem our loneliness, but it can become something God uses to build our trust, dependency and faith in Him.

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, in the midst of loneliness and despair, help me to see that You are by my side and I am never alone.  Jesus I know You come to me, not to condemn, but to help me realize my utter dependence for You. Lord teach me to have the courage to find Your truth in all circumstances. In Jesus name, 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 151-155 of 283