Devotionals
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May 2, 2017, 6:00 AM

How do you look at challenging relationships?


How do you look at challenging relationships?  God uses the relationships we have with one another to shape us into the image of Christ. That sounds great, right? Sure it does, when considering that the relationship is a good one. But what about the ones that are not so good? What about that person, as hard as you’ve tried, you simply can’t seem to get along with? What is God doing in the midst of such adversity?  If only God would change their heart, then all would be right. That is typically how we think when faced with a challenging relationship. But what if God’s desire is to change something in us? It is often in the more difficult situations that the most growth can occur. We don’t always like to hear that. The good news is that even though we may be “pressed” God will not allow us to be “crushed.”

 

The question is are we willing to lay down our pride and trust that God is at work? Oswald Chambers said this, “If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on having your own way, and always certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, then there are whole areas of your nature that have never been transformed by His grace.” What I’ve learned through relationships is that whether I believe I’m right or know I’m wrong, I’m a sinner in need of grace and forgiveness. The grace that God extends doesn’t end with us. It is a gift that we must offer to others. When we do, something amazing happens: Christ is seen. How has the grace of God transformed your life? Do you believe the grace you offer to another can help in their transformation?

 

Our Lord Jesus is the only one who ever had a real right to stand against the forces that sought to bring Him down. Yet, humbly, He denied that right to Himself to have a relationship with us. The cross has an endless source of power. It’s the first place I go in times of conflict, the times when I desire justice more than anything else. There I’m reminded that Jesus is my justifier, He is for me. And because I trust Him, I can better see the other person. I’m able to rise above the situation and endure anything that might bring this person into a closer relationship with Christ. I believe this is what Paul meant when he said,” To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, forgive me when I find it difficult to forgive others. Jesus help me love as You have loved me and trust that in my doing so, Your glory will be displayed. Lord let the pride I carry be laid down at the foot of the cross to the point of complete abandonment, and fill me with Your mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




May 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are some ways you play it safe in your relationship with God?


What are some ways you play it safe in your relationship with God?  Ever play a friendly game of poker?  Though I’m not much of a card player, I find it less intimidating when the stakes are low, like when we’re using things match sticks rather than cold, hard cash.  As a result, I tend to play recklessly.  I usually go all in, run up the bet, and tend to beat the more cautious players.  I like to push them to fold quickly if their hand doesn’t seem promising.  You see I know that even though it’s not real money, most will try to hold on to what they have for fear of being out of the game.  They will never the big winner, little by little; I will take their match sticks. Then I’m the big winner! 

 

Not always, but typically it is the person who takes big risks and goes for it that comes out on top.  Sometimes it pays to play it safe, but oftentimes you just have to go for it.  This is especially true in our walk with God, though we may want to play it safe; God has called us to go all in. There was a time in my life when I would give God only so much of myself.  I wanted God, but I didn’t want to give up all the things I knew and was comfortable with. I was clinging to my life out of fear of what might change.  I had to decide to obey God, fully surrender, and leave all the consequences to Him.  Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, I know God loves me, is for me and has my best interest in mind, so I am willing to trust and obey believing He can handle what comes from my obedience. 

 

When David brought the ark out of the house of Obed-edom and into the city the scripture says, “David was dancing with all his might before the Lord wearing a Linen ephod. He and the whole house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of the ram’s horn.” 2 Samuel 6:14-15 David was unconcerned with what people might think about his behavior or what consequence would result from his action, He just had to worshiped God with all he had, he was all in. “David replied to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord who chose me over your father and his whole family to appoint me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel. I will celebrate before the Lord, and I will humble myself even more and humiliate myself.”    2 Samuel 6:21-22 He fully understood what God had done in choosing him and he celebrated in that, holding nothing back. God has chosen us, too.  In taking our place on the cross, Jesus has chosen for us to live freely and completely in His grace. 

 

I think back to those piles of match sticks. Yes it was just a game, but most weren’t really playing they were simply getting trying not to lose.  I was reminded of this just this weekend, if you are playing to not lose, you’ve already lost.  To live the full life God wants you to have you can’t hold back, you have to go all in. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39

 

This is my Prayer:  Father God, thank you for the cross and the proof of Your love.  Lord I know I can trust the plans You have for my life. Jesus teach me how to use that trust to guide me into obedience of Your will.  Remind me Lord that it is only in my obedience to You that I am truly made free.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.




April 30, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you view yourself as a work in progress or do you desire instant change? 


Do you view yourself as a work in progress or do you desire instant change?  I loved Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid. Thundercats, He-Man, and Snorks, man they just don’t make them like they used to.   There was one show I really loved.  Do you remember the show Transformers? For those of us who grew up in the eighties Transformers was “part of a complete breakfast.”  

 

I can remember sitting with my T.V. tray in front of our giant console T.V., watching this incredible, action-packed program. As I crunched down on some Mr. T cereal, as Optimus Prime shifted from a robot to a cab over truck then back to a robot. There were no glitches, no mistakes, just fluid and instantaneous transformation.  Don’t you just love the idea of immediate change? I can think of many areas in my own life where this would be more than welcomed.  I definitely would appreciate a complete change in my diet and physical activity happening overnight.  But in reality, it’s a process that will take time, discipline, and a whole lot of grace.  The same is true in our walk with God.

We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

The transformation of who we are now, to who God longs for us to be in Christ is a process. I can thankfully say today, though I’m not fully where I need to be, I’m not where I was. I’ve learned I need daily quiet times with God. I need to have a diligent prayer life both where I talk and listen to God.  My time spent with God comes more naturally now, though it didn’t always. I thought that if I followed Christ it would make everything easy.  Boy was I wrong; I had some deep struggles that were difficult to overcome. I tried and tried and tried to make them go away on my own, and nothing worked. By trying to change instantaneously on my own, I was leaving God out of the equation. It’s like I was saying, “thanks for that whole salvation thing, but I got it from here.”

 

After exhausting myself to the point of giving up, I came back to the Lord and accepted His grace. It was no longer something I believed I had to work for. I accepted it fully and freely and finally understood I was a work in progress. His grace allowed me to remain in His presence so that His love could seep into my heart, and that is when the real change began. The more time I spend with God, the more aware I become of not only His presence with me but His presence in me.  And though I still have a long way to go, I’m thankful for what He’s done so far.  How do you receive God’s grace? Is it something you believe you have to work for or do you receive it freely?

 

This is my Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of Your grace that is given so freely. Lord help me receive it so I no longer feel the need to work for Your acceptance. Jesus You love me just as I am, and by the power of that same love, I am conformed more and more into Your image. God help me understand that this is a process. It is not something that happens overnight, yet a continuation until the day You call me home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




April 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you need to change your definition of freedom?


So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-36



Do you need to change your definition of freedom? Isn’t funny how the Pharisees looked straight at Jesus and claimed they’d “never been enslaved to anyone.” Wait a minute if memory serves me right there was 400 years as captives in Egypt. And to be technical about it, at the moment Jesus is talking to them they are under the rule of the Romans. As the saying goes Denial ain't just a river in Egypt! But if we are all honest I bet we could all say that we know the feeling well. What feel you say, the one where we don’t want to admit that our sin, failures, and mistakes have consequences. It’s how I lived most of life. 



As a single person, I was “free” to be a sleep around and be a womanizer, I could drink alcohol without limits, and lie about any of it to get myself out of trouble. As I reflect back on my life now, it becomes crystal clear how all these things I was “free” to do were actually traps. The consequences were undeniable they were leading me toward death. I was a slave to the next lie, drink, and relationship. Have you ever feel trapped by a so-called freedom? G.K. Chesterton once said, “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” God sets limits for our protection, so that we can be free to live for Him and be blessed. “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1



Isn’t it crazy how Satan twists it all around though? He whispers, “Did God really say you should remain pure, exercise self-control over your flesh, tell the truth? C’mon, what kind of fun is that?” So satan’s message of Jesus is that He is the ultimate kill-joy. Is it any wonder that the self centered pleasure seeking culture of today rejects the message of Jesus? But what if we looked at Jesus through what Scripture says about Him instead of the way culture paints Him? What if we compare what He offers to what culture advertises but never seems to follow through on? Maybe we’d discover that Jesus really is the gateway to the freedom we were looking for all along. Are there some so-called freedoms you need to give up? 



This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for detouring my destiny straight into Your marvelous light. Lord help me to remember where I came from so I can continue to live freely in the areas I was a slave. Jesus teach me to be watchful of the enemy trying to lure me into old sins and new. And God, for all who haven’t yet accepted Your Son, steer them toward the truth. Lord lead all of us who are free be lights to the lost. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




April 28, 2017, 5:00 AM

Are you facing a struggle that is pulling you away from God instead of toward Him?


Are you facing a struggle that is pulling you away from God instead of toward Him?  Trials are hard. The battle of addiction destroys families. The loss of a job robs security. The death of a loved one aches the heart.  A broken marriage seems to be the end of life. Distant relationships create a feeling of abandonment and distrust. Poverty creates suffering. Racism breeds hate. War creates disillusionment.

 

These struggles lead us to shake our fists at God.   We lose hope and patience and forget that He is right there beside us in complete control. We become angry with God, turn our backs on Him, and forget to pray. We run away and forget about all of the times that He has led us through valleys.  The thing is that trials while difficult, are a necessary part of life. They are meant to draw us closer to our Creator and provide a way for us to do ministry. Our difficulties, stresses, and moments of struggle are our opportunities for ministry. “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:12-15

 

We need to take steps to get back on track with your relationship with God.  We need to get intimate with God and be honest with ourselves about what He has called us to do and do it.  We have to take every opportunity to serve our savior.  We must realize the errors of our own choices that often land us in these tribulations in the first place. We must realize that even in the midst of struggle that we are His children and He will never leave or forsake us. He has us in the palm of His hand. We must stop fighting Him and instead let Him fight for us. It’s with Him and only Him that the best is yet to come. ”For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

 

This is my Prayer: God I understand that tribulations are not meant to punish me, and I apologize for allowing my will to get in Your way of refining me or doing a work through me.  Jesus teach me to see the trails of my life as opportunities to serve You.   Lord please help me to overcome the struggles that are preventing me from being close to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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