Devotionals
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 171-175 of 283
May 27, 2017, 11:29 PM

How can you love those who live on the opposite side of an issue you are passionate about?


How can you love those who live on the opposite side of an issue you are passionate about? I remember several years ago I was really hooked on one of those reality TV shows.  I watched it intensely.  So I thought that everyone should be watching this show, but my feelings were not shared by my friends.  Go figure!  All I got was yeah I watched it and it was OK.  “OK”, What do mean just OK?  As I hovered over the un-friend button on facebook, I tried to come to grips with how someone that I care for could be so wrong in so many ways. Who didn’t love the people from show?  Was their soul dead?  Seriously, what was wrong with this person…how could they not love this show?

 

Along with breaking my heart and witnessing the error of their ways, I experienced a different emotion. Anger and disgust. Their utter disregard for the best show on television infuriated me. They were blind to the greatness of this show. At that moment, clarity came over as I finally understood my life’s purpose – to give this blind person sight and show them why their life was incomplete without this show.  Gripping tightly to “the truth” that was on my side, I began to respond to their Facebook post. The keyboard started to smoke as I feverishly typed a manifesto in defense of the show. However, for whatever reason, my snarky retort did nothing to change my friend’s mind. Instead, we engaged in an hour-long heated debate over what truly constituted “Must See TV.”

 

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18

When it comes to the things we love, are passionate about and believe in, we can very easily lose perspective on what truly matters. Our emotions dictate our response when we encounter disagreement and push back. Instead of thinking about others, we make everything about us.  We believe that our viewpoint is the only way to see the world around us. Whether it is musical taste, movie choices, parenting style, political views, or religious stances, we can construct walls and burn bridges that prevent connection.  If you don’t reside in our camp than you’re an outsider.

 

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

In those places where disagreement or tension exists, as believers we should fight. But, not in the way one would think when people don’t see eye-to-eye. We fight for the relationship and connections to remain intact. We battle to truly understand the other side. We wrestle with wanting the best for the other person. We combat our pride and arrogance and look for ways to display humility. We resist our tendency to think “me first” and instead try to live peaceful lives that glorify God. Where do you need to fight for connection in the midst of disagreement?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to not lose sight of what truly matters. Lord you’ve given me a voice, but You didn’t intend for me to use it to diminish or belittle others. Jesus I desire for my words and my actions to spur on the connections You have arranged for me. God help me to pursue peace where discord is present. In Jesus name, Amen.




May 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

What conversations are you having over and over again?


What conversations are you having over and over again? Why do these conversations continue to arise? The issue isn’t always “the issue.” Sometimes we spend all of our emotional energy and focus discussing problems while completely missing the point. An argument might break out over someone coming home late when the real issue that goes unaddressed is a lack of trust. A parent frustrated with their teen for not cleaning their room turns into a conflict over skirted responsibilities, however, in the eyes of the teen it is really about how they feel inadequate.

 

Because the deeper heart issues don’t get touched upon, it often feels like we are engaging in the same conversations over and over again with little to no resolution. So, how do we stop having the conversations we don’t need to have and engage in the ones that we do? It starts with listening, validating, and then responding to the individual. We are so quick to respond or offer up a rebuttal that we seldom hear what the other person is really saying. True understanding requires listening to take place.

 

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20

This is a challenge many of us face because when there is tension and we feel misunderstood we either become defensive or go on the offense. The words of others begin to sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown. All we hear is “wah wah…wah wah wah…” We take everything so personal, which leads us down a path of defensive insecurity. Then there are those times when we feel backed into a corner and we can’t help but lash out. We respond in anger and cynicism. We point out everyone else’s flaws regardless of the response.

 

This is why some of us tip toe around the issues. We are afraid that if we ‘go there’ we might not be able to get back. As I have said before it’s possible to win a lot of arguments while, losing relationships. The depth we long for in our relationships depends on learning the lost art of seeking to understand before being heard. This can only occur if we are willing to pause, to be quiet, to listen and to empathize. It requires us to understand there is a weight to our words. The things we say make a difference. But, what has the greatest impact on another person is when they know they are being heard. We need to practice the discipline of not having the last word. Our words are to be used to bring life and not prove a point. In the space between listening and speaking, we suspend judgment, focus on the person and mine for meaning.

 

When we do speak, it is essential that we listen to our own words. They serve as a great revealer. They shine light on the health of our heart. The connection between our mouth and our heart is seen throughout Scripture. “But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man.” Matthew 15:18 Our mouth has the capacity to affect our heart. Our mouth speaks based upon what the heart is full of. In our quest to engage our relationships and the world around us, tending to our hearts is necessary. The goal is for God’s love to flood our heart in such a way that our mouth becomes a fountain of life.

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may I be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Lord help me to reflect on what I am hearing, rather than respond.  Jesus help me to display Your heart in my relationship with others. In Your name Jesus, Amen.




May 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

Is it hard for you to ask for help? 


“For I hold you by your right hand, I the Lord your God. And I say to you, don’t be afraid, I am here to help you.” Isaiah 41:13

 

Is it hard for you to ask for help?  Help is such a simple word, but it brings about many feelings and attitudes from within, many of which are not entirely favorable, especially when you’re me.  My feelings run all over the place.  They go from gratefulness to guilt, from frustration to humility.  My mind goes crazy with questions.  Like, how do I deal with this? How can accept help and assistance with grace? How do I kill the guilt that I feel when I have to ask for it?

 

My preferred route is to just bear down and tell myself everything’s fine, isolate, and throw myself at problem.  Life experience has taught me, that I have to take care of things myself.  I have been doing it all my life.  I’ve always taken care of myself, my family, and even my church. I do whatever it takes.  I get it done one way or the other, whatever sacrifice I need to make.  But what I have begun to realize lately is that I have attached “my” to those things in my life that are HIS, I’m HIS, it’s HIS family, and HIS church.  I bet if you were to examine your response to that first question that I would be in very good company.

 

I tell myself things like: “I should be able to handle this. I don’t need to talk to someone about this.  I don’t want to burden anyone else with my issues.” I’m certain I’m not alone in this unhealthy pattern. But in doing this, we’re actually missing God’s design for our needs. God wants us to acknowledge our needs, not hide from them. We are to seek help, even encouraged and commanded to do so!

 

“and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through.” 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3

Consider this scripture, when Paul was unable to go to the church in Thessalonica, sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage them in their faith. Shouldn’t we look at this also as God using others to be His hands and feet, just as he uses us? What about Timothy? He chose to be obedient to God’s call, not only to serve God but to serve both Paul and the Thessalonians.  When God calls an individual to assist us, be it family, friend, or acquaintance, that person is being used directly by God to be His helper, to answer our prayer.  Even if it is not exactly the way we would prefer it to be answered!  God’s call on our live sometimes requires many tasks and duties that we need help with.

 

In Exodus 18, When Moses was called to be the leader of God’s nation he too had many duties. His tasks were never-ending, and when his father-in-law came to visit he encouraged him to utilize others to relieve some of the burden from his own shoulders.  In the end Moses did so. He was still doing as God desired, yet the burden was not as heavy.  We also can see that in Jesus, even though he is God and could do all things. He chose to call men of every background and intellectual level, to be His disciples, His friends, His helpers. Why? Perhaps to show us that the gift of love is demonstrated not just by serving, but being served. Are you willing to accept His gift of love, His Help?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to be willing to say, "I need help".  Forgive me for not recognizing when You send someone to help me and I in my pride or feelings of guilt, choose to not accept it as I should.  Lord, help me to be truly humble, accepting the assistance You so graciously give me, and to be grateful for Your provision.  Jesus bless those who so lovingly offer that help and are allowing themselves to be used by You. In Your name, Amen.




May 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

How are you approaching your relationships where conflict and tension exist?  


How are you approaching your relationships where conflict and tension exist?  Ever wanted desperately to help someone see the right side of an issue but the methods behind your good intentions got entangled with anger? Instead of righteousness and grace steering your loved one towards the better path, you found them going a million miles in the opposite direction and yourself looking like an idiot and asking for forgiveness?

 

Boy, I sure have. Instead of approaching the situation Biblically, by first listening and trying to discover where they were coming from, how their life experiences brought them to this place, and what they truly wanted and needed, I blazed in with guns of defense rebutting their actions. Instead of taking even a moment to discover their perspective, my emotions took over, their ears closed, and conflict began. I thought I had the best intention at heart, and I was determined that my words would prove it. In reflection, they ended up not feeling loved by me at all. Rather, they felt judged, very hurt, and determined to never ask for my advice again.

 

I realized, like an idiot, I allowed my tongue to lead instead of my ears and my sensibilities were controlled by my emotions. I was walking in my own strength to change the situation rather than allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to intervene, thus they were steered further away from truth rather than towards it.  Think about it. How many times have you approached someone with hostility and the situation ended with them longing to please you? If you’re like me, not a single time.

 

What I’m learning is when someone comes to me for advice, I must first place the issue at the hands and feet of Jesus, value them as a person capable of making their own decisions, with the same free will God has given to me. I must also listen intently and hold my tongue so I don’t look like a fool and undo what God intends. I am not God.  Only God has the ability to see the future. He knows the numbers of hairs on their head. He holds them in the palm of His hands and sometimes He will allow then to fall to show them just how capable He is.

 

It is not my right or even my duty to force my opinion on those I love. My job is to demonstrate who God is by mimicking His characteristics so those around me will desire what I have and draw closer to Him. It’s God’s job to make beauty out of the ashes our sufferings leave behind, and this is exactly what He will do if we surrender and let Him handle it. That is exactly what His Word proclaims.

“He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3

 

This word releases the pressure from me that I have to fix their problems. It makes clear that my job is to allow Him to work on them and to use me as His instrument only if He chooses to. Believe me, my friend, He hasn’t chosen you or me for this work if either of us is approaching the situation with malice or an agenda. God is love, gentleness, kindness, and humility. If we surrender the situation to our Creator, it will allow us to walk with a sense of pride and peace knowing that we imparted agape love instead of strife and condemnation. If we surrender, our friend will leave the situation with a renewed sense of trust and faith that will lead them to Jesus, which is exactly what we wanted in the first place. What steps do you need to take to learn to surrender?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to surrender all things to You and to trust in the promise that You have everything in under control. Jesus remind me to contain my tongue, to listen first and to recall Your words and actions so I can replicate them as You’ve commanded. Lord help me to be the best person I can be simply by being patient and letting You reign on Your throne. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




May 23, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are some areas where you find your life works, but you aren’t connected with others?


What are some areas where you find your life works, but you aren’t connected with others? Look all around you. The world is made up of systems. In an effort to make life run smoothly, make order from chaos and make efficiency manageable, people have created a network of systems. They may help to run a business but they are not designed to foster connection. We’ve developed systems of behavior to serve as a framework for how we interact with others. What is acceptable, the consequences of not following the rules and how we navigate the relationship going forward are key elements of these systems.

 

It’s not that systems in and of themselves are bad. We are just looking for them to fulfill something they are incapable of doing. In a marriage where “You cook…I clean,” the kitchen might be immaculate and our bellies well fed, but it doesn’t guarantee that the relationship will be fulfilling.  Just because our lives work, doesn’t mean we’re connected. Because things might be running smoothly or there haven’t been any disagreements, systems provide a mirage making it look like true connection. Yet, eventually the illusion wears off and we are left trying to figure out ways to mend the relationship.

 

Connection requires a relationship. Relationships need love. And for love to be felt we must make room for forgiveness. It is forgiveness that provides the only safe place for imperfect people to connect. Unlike our man-made systems, forgiveness is messy, difficult and requires work. It also requires something to die. Death is love demonstrated. God’s ultimate act of love was an act of giving himself away. Jesus came to do for us what we couldn’t do on our own. He entered into this world to bring us value and communicate our worth, while reconciling us to God. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

 

When we accept this grace, we take up a new residence. We reside in a state of forgiveness. We don’t have to work the system to arrive at the destination of forgiveness. We can invite others to join us in this place but we can’t force them to enter. For many of us, the battle we face is extending that invitation of forgiveness. Instead we cover up the pain that we feel or attempt to lash out hoping for vengeance and vindication. When we mask over the hurt, we mask over the forgiveness.

 

Not acknowledging the pain doesn’t make it magically go away. We shouldn’t minimize the hurt. We need to feel it. If we don’t, we remain glued to the past. We hurt ourselves all over again forgetting the state of forgiveness in which we reside.  The choice is ours. We must choose whether we want to hold onto the past or move into a new future anchored in the forgiveness we’ve experienced. We get a say in how the story ends. At its essence forgiveness is “You don’t owe me.”  Having been impacted by Christ’s love, how are you rewriting the story of your wounds?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I desire to leave the past in the past. But, this requires me to come face-to-face with the pain. Just saying those words makes me hesitate. Lord help me to trust that You will meet me there and remind me that I’ve been forgiven. Jesus I will trust that my feet are firmly planted in Your grace and love. Only You are capable of healing my wounds and turning them into scars that will proclaim stories of healing. In Your 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 171-175 of 283