Devotions
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June 9, 2017, 5:00 AM

How does counting your days lead to a heart of wisdom?



Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

How does counting your days lead to a heart of wisdom? As I grow older, time seems to speed up, rather than slow down. There are moments when I have this out of body type experience where I can see life speeding by me in a blur. All my efforts to decelerate its progress or hit pause to simply catch my breath are to no avail.  Life continues to churn with little regard to my protests.  Today, I was going over camp forms for the different camps we have going on at our church, I came across my youngest daughters form for pre teen camp and it hit me is she really a pre teen.  I’m not going to lie; it’s hard for me to come to grips with this reality.

 

In just a couple of years, my youngest daughter will become a teenager, a TEENAGER!  I don’t know if my heart is ready for this change, but it’s coming nonetheless.  I feel life Fred Sanford, “This is the big one!”  I was just holding her in my arms as a baby yesterday. Time is precious, but it is also very fleeting. We all know this, whether we are a parent or not. Our priorities lose out to the squeaky wheel. Life has the uncanny ability to get in the way of what we know deep down is important. Dreams become un-acted upon hopes that get pushed to the back of our mind. Procrastination becomes our most utilized spiritual gift. Action gets scheduled for that elusive spot on our calendar labeled “someday.” Potential remains untapped.

 

If we do act, we start off strong, but rarely finish. Rather than making our days count, many of us are focused on counting down the days to the weekend or our next vacation. Without intention on our part, time will always win out over the spiritual growth we wish to see in our lives. When we come to grips with time being in short supply, we tend to do more with the time we’ve been given right now.  There are no spiritual shortcuts. Instant faith is a myth. Our faith is shaped and molded over time. The transformation that lasts is built in every moment we seize. The way we present God a heart of wisdom at the end of our life is by not taking time for granted.  What if we decided to leave a lasting impact and legacy, one week, one day, one moment at a time?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I want to make my days count. Lord help me to not squander the time I’ve been given. Rather than put things off for another day, give me the courage to act. Jesus remind me that time is precious and to not take it for granted. Teach me use the moments I’m given today to help those around me know they are loved by You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 8, 2017, 5:00 AM

What culture are you creating to help the next generation know God?



A few years back I went to Six Flags, which is a place that most would consider a happy fun place to be. Happiness changes very quickly into fear when you are a child who gets separated from their parents. Getting lost is absolutely terrifying for a child. They feel paralyzed with no clue where to go or which direction to head. The tears begin to flow and panic begins to set in. While waiting in line for one of the rides I noticed a little boy all alone with that look of fear I just described. I faced the decision whether to ignore the situation, move forward in the line or jump into action and help the little boy find his parents.

 

It doesn’t seem like I had much of a choice does it? If a child is lost and afraid, you are not going to sit by and remain a spectator. You will do everything in your power to make sure they are safe, protected, and ultimately find their way home.  Unfortunately the church, has for far too long, sat idly by and watched as families crumble, marriages fall apart, and the next generation knows even less about the faithfulness of God. While those younger than us falter, we remain on the sidelines and refuse to engage the situation.

 

It’s far too easy to blame media, entertainment, and the government for the current state of our generation. This gives us an easy out to excuse our behavior as the church and the role we’ve played in the problem. The culture of the church must change with the entire community of believers leveraging what they have for the next generation.  What messages do our actions and words speak about the importance, or the lack thereof, of God to the next generation? What legacy are we leaving behind for them? Will they know of the greatness of God as well as His amazing grace? Will their lives be impacted by it or will their lack of guidance lead them to walk through life relying solely on their own wisdom?

 

What blueprint are we sketching out for our families and spouses? What foundations are we building now for what lies in the future? We are charged with impressing the commands of God upon the next generation and leaving them the tools and culture necessary to reveal God’s image in their generation. This should have massive implications on us the church, as well as our families.  

These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Deuteronomy 6:1-2

 

It is so important that we understand legacy as an issue of stewardship, as something we are given. It is not ours to generate, but rather to steward in the direction of God’s promise. If your actions and words set the tone and culture for your family, what type of culture are you establishing? For those without children, what culture are you creating to help the next generation know God?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, let me leave a legacy that brings You glory. Lord teach me to look for opportunities to impact others, especially those of the next generations You have brought into my life. Jesus help me to steward the influence I’ve been given to point others towards Your transformational love. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 7, 2017, 5:00 AM

Time is precious and remember, you only get one dash.



Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17

 

Today I am going to ask you to something a little strange.  Before we dig into this passage, I want you to get out a piece of paper. Write on the year you were born, then put a dash and finally write 20_ _.  Obviously, you can’t fill in the blanks, but we’ll get to that in a moment.  Now, stop and look at the sheet in front of you. Life is all about the dash, this little mark is what is put on our tombstone between the date of our birth and the date of our death.  For some, the time between is longer than others. But, regardless we all have a dash.

 

We love to celebrate the day on the left. As parents, we feel the pressure to go overboard with our children’s birthday parties. People go all out to honor that moment a loved one came into the world. When that day rolls around every year, we eat cake, blow out candles and receive gifts. For as much fanfare is given to that day of one’s life, many of us hate and avoid giving any thought to the date on the right. We might not know when, but the other side of the dash is coming one day too. Yet, people go about their daily business as if they are going to live forever.

 

Eventually, numbers will take up the space where the blanks reside for the right hand date. We don’t like to hear or think about it, but those numbers are inevitable. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to us.  Once again, look at that sheet of paper. Is there anything you can control on the left hand corner? NO. Now, what about the right hand side, do you have any control over that? NO. But, there is one thing that is written down that you can control. It’s the dash. It’s right now. It’s the years between when you graced this world and when you depart.

 

The dash represents your life and the time you’ve been given by God to make an impact. It’s the moments you’ve been given to encourage others, make an impact, leave your mark and build a legacy that will last after you are gone. It’s all about the dash. What are you going to do with your dash? What will you do with the time you’ve been given? If, up to this point, you’ve been making much of your own story, don’t worry. There is still time to rewrite your story as long as you drop your pen and allow God to be the author of the tale He is telling. Don’t wait.

 

Time is precious and remember, you only get one dash. This truth is echoed in today’s passage in James where the author describes the brevity of life.  Coming to grips with the brevity of life should cause two different reactions to erupt within us: reflection and action. How are you going to seize the day that you’ve been given today? How can you encourage someone today? What conversations have you been putting off that need to take place? How will you reflect the love of Christ to others today?

 

It is important that we steward our dash well. How? By making every day count, cherishing every moment and leveraging the time we’ve been given. But, let’s take it a step further. What will your friends and family say about you at your funeral? What will they say about what was important to you? What do you want your legacy to be? But, keep going with this thought process, to the most important question. What will Jesus say to you about how you invested your short dash for the sake of making His name known? So, I’ll ask you one more time: what are you doing with your dash?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, open the eyes of my heart and help me to number this day and to make it count. Lord help to be reminded of the dash and realize that You are asking me to do something with the days I’ve been given. I want my dash to be meaningful.  Jesus I want my dash to make an impact, but not for my glory. Instead I want my dash to reflect the greatness of who You are.  In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 6, 2017, 5:00 AM

A legacy mindset should be a defining marker of our churches.



Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 1 Timothy 1:18-19

 

There is a very personal element to one’s walk with God. This can’t be denied. The creator of the universe is crafting each of our stories. He wants to transform our heart and character to reflect His own. God desires for us to trust Him in every aspect of our life.  Yet, we miss the mark if we foolishly believe our faith is all about us: our needs, our comfort, and our sufficiency. The call of Christ is for each one of us to serve, give back, and invest in others. The blessings of God we’ve experienced weren’t meant to be held on to tightly, but rather to be shared and given away.

 

Deep down inside, each one of us wants to give our lives to something bigger than ourselves. This desire can be met by looking backwards. As a church who reflects the love of Christ, we must possess a relentless commitment to the generations that come after us. The next generation matters to God so they must matter to us.  A legacy mindset should be a defining marker of our churches. The culture we need to be nurturing is one where a body of believers rallies around and encourages the family. The family matters, it was established so that our children’s children will know God as God.  But, families can’t do it on their own.

 

Raising, supporting and encouraging the next generation was never intended to be a solo mission placed on the parent’s shoulders. Every parent needs someone saying the same things they are saying to their children.  Imagine if every toddler, child, tween, adolescent, or college student that encountered your church heard a chorus of people telling them of the potential they struggle to see in themselves. The message of them being valued in God’s eyes would ring out and maybe alter the course of not just one child’s life, but an entire generation’s. Instead of being bombarded by a culture that feeds them lie after lie, these young people would encounter a different way to fullness and peace.

 

In this day and age, young people find themselves in a battle over their heart and mind. As they try and figure out who they are and what they believe, they will wrestle, struggle, fail and doubt. The pressure to conform is greater than it has ever been. It takes a great deal of courage for a young person to stand out and be different while standing firm in their faith.  In the midst of their faith journey, they are hoping others will come alongside them and point them in the right direction. To put it simply, every child needs someone to fight for them and with them. Leadership, the ability to influence, is a profoundly human gift that is inside each one of us. The choice to lead and to impact is up to us.

 

There are opportunities out there for us as a church to impact the next generation. We’ve just got to go out there and seize them. However, it will be impossible to be the most influential voice in the lives of young people unless we all are engaged and willing to invest. Someone else needs to hear from you.

 

This is my Prayer:  Father God, I desire to leave a legacy. I want my days to matter. Lord help me to fight for the next generation. Give me the heart to care for those who come after me. Jesus teach me to point them towards Your amazing love. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




June 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you allowing status quo, convenience and your feelings to guide your connections with others?



Often the difficulty we have with Scripture is not due to a lack of comprehension but rather unwillingness on our part to put those truths into practice, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult people. For instance, take these passages found in Romans.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13

 

They are straightforward and easy to understand. Yet, for all of their simplicity, we struggle to act upon what we know.  What makes applying these commands appear so daunting? Why are we met with such resistance? Quite simply, these actions of love, humility, generosity, and joy run counterculture to our human flesh. When someone pushes our buttons, all we want to do is push right back. And, if we don’t react we tend to avoid so we don’t have to deal with that individual. Relying on our own strength to accomplish loving that difficult person would be pure foolishness. True obedience is only possible when we rely on Christ’s heart to be reflected in us and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.

 

We are confronted with this reality in verse 9 when the author reminds us that love must be sincere. There’s no such thing as “I can love him, but I don’t have to like him.” We must stop giving simple lip service to love. How can one say they believe in a loving God, but fail to show love to those around them? What message would we be sending to a lost world if we spoke of Christ’s love yet did not exhibit the one quality the defines our faith?  Love requires action.  The verses continues, “hate what is evil and cling to what is good”. Rather than rationalizing and justifying away the struggles that are present in our lives, we must come face to face with them. But, we can’t stop there. We must drop our sinful ways and cling to God’s grace as well as rejoice in the good He is producing within us.

 

At first glance, urging us to hate evil and cling to what is good appears to have no connection to the charge to love those difficult people in our world. We are left scratching our head wondering how confronting the sin in our own lives helps us exhibit love to those around us. It all boils down to a perspective shift.  Because we understand the depths to which we’ve been forgiven we are able to love others through humility, have hope and patience in the midst of any circumstance, and be generous with everything we’ve been given. When one believes they are loved freely by God, they are freed to love others, even “that guy.”

 

This is easier said than done. It’s as if the author knew our human tendency to become distracted and lose sight of Christ’s love. So, he reminds his audience in verse 11 to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.” When we become lazy in our spiritual life and disregard our integrity, we make ourselves vulnerable towards letting status quo, convenience and our feelings direct our actions as well as our relationships.

 

However, becoming sluggish in our pursuit of God has an even more damaging effect on the message we transmit to others. If we are not excited about grace and forgiveness, how can we ever expect those who we want to influence to be drawn towards the cross? Imagine the difference and impact we could have if this body of believers applied these five short verses to our everyday life. We can no longer speak about love. The time has come to answer the call to love extravagantly on Christ’s behalf.

 

This is my Prayer:  Father God help me to love boldly as You do.  Lord let Your heart be reflected in both my actions and my words.  Jesus may the hope that I have in You speak volumes to the people You put in my path. 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 161-165 of 285