Devotions
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November 14, 2017, 5:00 AM

Is there someone you need to forgive?



I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. LUKE 15:18-20

 

Picture someone who has wronged you. I mean full-on, blatantly crushed you. If the wound is any bit a fresh one, it’s probably hard to imagine running to that person to forgive him or her. For the prodigal son, he experienced forgiveness in that way precisely. It was not just love that drove the father to run to his once lost son. He was protecting his son from due punishment. Let us recall the son’s sins against his father: he requested his share of the family’s wealth (on a whim), took it, then blew it all on “reckless living.” Then he decided to come back.  In a first century Jewish community, the village would have performed a kezazah. This was a ceremony against anyone who squandered his inheritance among Gentiles then returned home. They would have broken a large pot in front of the son and yelled something such as, “You are now cut off from your people!”

 

There was no kezazah. The father ran to his son before anyone could fault him as he entered the village. Forgiveness was clear. Celebration commenced. Christ shared such parables as the lost son to convey the nature of His Father. God’s forgiveness is indispensable. Like the lost son, we are prone to wander. We stray from the good path God has paved for us. Sometimes we even do detestable things that bear zero consideration for loved ones. Still God is full of grace. What He offers to us is incomparable, especially in terms of forgiveness. Not only does He refocus our humility, but He frees us from the grips of our sin.  My mind goes to a person who has wronged me multiple times. It has hurt me and angered me. A kezazah would be the warm-up!

 

It has been a tumultuous path to forgiveness, but I know it is necessary in order for me to live free. Vengeance is suffocating there is no alternative to a constant defense of your character and an endless wait for their just deserts. Forgiveness has open doors leading to possibilities. It holds potential for progress. In the same way the father forgave the son, we have to forgive others. Tough to swallow? Absolutely it is, but it is essential. The father had a right to authorize the ultimate slam on his young son. He instead loved, dispensed forgiveness, and redeemed a bad reputation. God too is justified in disowning us. But He delights in loving us, knowing us, and blessing us. Forgiveness makes it possible. We arguably could slam justice down on some of our transgressors. What might come from that?

 

God’s truth in forgiving is unquestionable. Is there someone you need to forgive? Maybe you are not yet in a position to communicate that forgiveness. What specifically might you need to offer up forgiveness to that someone? How will you prepare your heart to do it? What might come out of it?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, in the midst of the uncertainty of life, there is one thing I can count on and that is Your unending love. Thank you for welcoming me back home. Lord even though I didn’t deserve grace and mercy, You threw a party when I returned. My redemption provides ultimate security and frees me from the bondage of unforgiveness. Jesus rather than seek justice when others wrong me, may I reflect Your love instead. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




November 13, 2017, 5:00 AM

How do you go about waiting on the Lord?



He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:5-8

 

Whether your life lasts for several more decades or ends in fifteen seconds, you are waiting. And while you are waiting, you have an attitude. Hopefully it’s a mindset focused on God. Given our in-between situation, it would be great if every one of us who follow Jesus could unite our voices as one and say, "Here we stand today, gripping tightly God’s promises while we wait for Him to work." We couldn’t go forward another day if we didn’t believe what He told us. We’re anchored to one thought: God says so. For now, that’s going to have to be enough, for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Whether you realize it or not, we’re all in the same place. As Paul put it, “We are at home in the body,” and therefore temporarily, “away from the Lord.” But He has left us His Word.

 

So we must review God’s promises all the time. We must remind ourselves that our faith is in God who has never failed to do what He says. He knows what He has promised, He can’t lie, and He can’t forget. He will deliver on time, all the time. Who else makes promises like that? God’s promises are great, the outcomes are certain; all that remains is to wait on His timing. Meanwhile, we walk by faith, not by sight. Again, today our faith rests entirely on what God has said He will do. The “good courage” that Paul mentions twice isn’t what we generate by our wills, but what God builds into us by His Spirit. God feels compassion for the pain of our uncertainty, and that is why He invented this idea of promise. It’s as if He is saying, “I’m not going to leave you clueless. I’m not going to leave you wondering what I’m going to do." God doesn't want you to be overcome by fear, and He's made you some promises to hold on to through the difficult days.

 

You don’t have to take your view of life only from what you can see or rest your happiness on what’s happening right in front of you. You don't need to be imprisoned by someone else's crazy talk that you know isn’t true. Hang on to the things His Word is telling you. What you see clearly in the light doesn't change just because the valley is dark. We walk by faith in God’s character and His promises. They sustain us when all that we can see is darkness or confusion. We live in faith until the answers come. While we wait, God builds our faith. Whether the waiting lasts for several more decades or ends in fifteen seconds, God’s promises can sustain us until the answer comes.  God never treats His promises lightly, and neither should you. Let God’s assurance that He knows about and will act in your situation be your continuous thought as you move through this day. How do you go about waiting on the Lord?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, Your promises to guide, sustain, protect, provide, and forgive are simply part of a stream of living hope that flows into my life and strengthens my faith so I can live for You. Lord without You I can do nothing. Jesus the victory of walking by faith rather than sight is Your victory in our lives. While we wait for Your answers, we thank You for Your faithfulness in Jesus’ name, amen.




November 12, 2017, 5:00 AM

What is one area where you sense the Lord calling you to trust Him more fully?



Good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. Hebrews 4:2

 

Have there been times when you’ve wondered why, even though you know the promises of God, you don’t seem to experience them with much frequency? You’ve read His Word, you know what He says is in store for you as a believer, but sometimes you don’t feel like someone who actually has it and lives with it. Why? What’s missing for me? Maybe it’s faith. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is the power switch that turns on the power Source (the Holy Spirit) who dwells in you through Christ and gives life to your mortal body. It’s not enough simply to know about this power, to understand it intellectually, or to sit in church with other people who have it. You can’t just catch it. You have to turn it on—by faith.

 

Faith is your part. Faith is the thing you can do. Jesus was once approached by a pair of blind men, begging for mercy, pleading for their sight. “Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then he touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it done to you.’ And their eyes were opened” (Matthew 9:28–30). Hear it again: “According to your faith be it done to you.” What if He made that same statement to you today? How would it apply to your life? Or to your marriage, to your kids, to your job, or ministry? If you’re not happy with what you’re seeing, perhaps it’s because of the inadequate amount of faith you’re placing in God to enliven, increase, expand, and embolden it.

 

Jesus said to the Canaanite woman whose daughter needed life-saving help, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire” (Matthew 15:28). He said to His disciples, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?” (Matthew 16:8)—when they’d already seen Him feed whole multitudes from almost no bread at all? Later, when they asked why they’d been ineffective in ministering to someone who was demon-possessed, He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

 

That’s the life of a Christian. That’s what’s available to us when we live by faith. Our world today is rocking under the weight of sin and strife, upheaval and struggle. When God looks on us, He obviously sees the awfulness and tragedy of what’s happening down here. But the Bible says, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). This is talking about men of faith who are ready to take a mountain for Him; women of faith who are serious about changing the world for Him. Of all the problems we face, could this be the biggest? Where’s our faith? No one goes anywhere good with God without faith. Faith is what turns the switch on. Your questions may be many, but your answer is short and strong. Turn on the faith, and you’ll begin seeing life with Him in a whole new light. What is one area where you sense the Lord calling you to trust Him more fully?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for rallying me back to faith in You today. Lord forgive me for making life so complicated and complex, when You’ve offered me the remedy for all my failure, fear, and frustration. Jesus increase and deepen my faith in You. Even when nothing seems to be changing, help me to keep believing. I call out to You with faith and in the power of God.  In Your name Jesus, amen.




November 11, 2017, 5:00 AM

What conversation are you not having or not having well?



Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. Proverbs 18:21 

It’s been said that you can measure the health of a relationship by measuring the number of undiscussables. Our relational limits are determined by what remains off-limits in our conversations. We tiptoe around the tension, ignoring the rotten smell in the air and hoping not to step on any eggshells. We throw out eggshells all around us in an effort to keep people at bay. With every eggshell we toss, we are attempting to protect our image, our heart and sometimes our pride. Eggshells are the things we lay down that keep people from telling us what we need to hear. One of the biggest tragedies is how isolated and lonely our eggshells leave us. They harm every facet of our lives, including the way we interact (or avoid) our family. What eggshells do you tend to throw out to keep people at bay? When it comes to your family, how are you walking on eggshells?

 

When we live our lives walking on eggshells, we are unable to reach our full potential and become the people God wants us to become. The author of James speaks about the power the tongue holds. All throughout Proverbs, King Solomon advises his readers to pay attention to the words that come out of their mouths. Both writers understood that our words have the power of life and death. They have the ability to build-up and tear-down. They can cripple as well as breathe life and confidence into another individual. A well-spoken word is one of the best things we can have in this world. Unfortunately, we fail to leverage our words when we avoid conflict. We often see conflict as a negative. If tension exists in our relationship, we view that relationship in a poor light. Each one of us has a default response towards conflict. We avoid it in hopes that if we pretend it doesn’t exist, the problem will go away.

 

Others of us drop hints anticipating the other party will eventually open their eyes to their shortcomings. Then there are those of us who wait out the conflict to see who will go first. If that doesn’t work, we wage war on the conflict by being passive-aggressive. And, if all else fails, we simply explode. The moment conflict arises we go into fight or flight mode. We stop thinking and start reacting. On top of these responses, we begin to craft a story about the person on the other side. Since our brains are hard-wired for stories, we paint a picture in order to fill loops. This is the only way we can justify our anger, our hurt, our pain and our frustration. The more we personalize and make ourselves the victim in our story, the more likely we aren’t seeing the whole picture. There are more sides to every story than just two. We have our side, the other person’s side and then the truth. This is why we must assault our own story to see where we are off base.

 

Conflict is an opportunity. We might not see it as such, but it is. This is why we must learn how to communicate in the context of community. If we find ourselves stuck it means there is a crucial conversation that needs to take place. To love someone is to enter into a relationship by speaking the truth in love. We are moving the eggshells to the side and making a clear path for connection. Yes, when crucial conversations exist it does mean there are strong opinions, high emotions, and high stakes. But, what is at stake is our personal growth and the growth of our relationships. We can tell a lot about ourselves by the way we are able to receive correction and rebuke. If we want to be wise, it begins by making ourselves available and developing a listening ear. When you find yourself in a relationship where anything can be said, you have found yourself in a healthy place. What conversation are you not having or not having well?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, when I look around myself, I see eggshells that have been laid out by myself and others. I use them as relational landmines to prevent people from coming close and speaking into my life. Lord help me pick up these eggshells and stop pretending like they don’t exist. Let me be open to hearing words that might sting at first. Jesus give me the courage to be transparent and vulnerable to others and You as well. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




November 10, 2017, 5:00 AM

What would a significant step forward in the spiritual discipline of prayer look like in your life?



Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray . . . ” Luke 11:1–2

Roughly 60 percent of Americans claim they pray daily. Another nearly 20 percent claim to pray weekly. Those stats suggest a significant amount of praying is going on. Yet there is also evidence that what we call “prayer” doesn’t fit God’s definition or expectations. Dig a little deeper and we find that many are going through the motions, and feel frustrated about prayer even as they try to practice it. Some people “pray” without actually addressing God. Many who do voice their prayers are talking to someone they don’t even know. To them, God is a complete stranger they might turn to for help if things get bad enough. How sad and empty prayer must feel for so many, including many of us.

 

As we develop the core disciplines of a sincere faith, we must include work on prayer. Even those of us who have grown up around praying people need instruction. And who better to learn from than Jesus Christ . The twelve disciples spent three years hanging out with Jesus. They watched Him, traveled with Him, listened to Him. Even though He was a Master Teacher, there is no record they ever asked Him, “Lord, teach us to teach.” And not once did they say, “Lord, teach us how to do miracles,” though we know He worked awesome wonders. As far as we know, the disciples’ only request for instruction was, “Lord, teach us to pray.” With a front-row seat to the life of Christ, what truly captured the disciples’ attention was the way He prayed.

 

Jesus had a habit of retreating from the demanding crowds and spending time alone in conversation with His Father, as seen in Mark 1:35. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Exposed to the Lord 24/7, the disciples concluded, “The thing we’ve got to figure out is prayer. Jesus has that going on!” It's not surprising that the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, eternally in perfect communion with the Father, made prayer a priority. Jesus responded to the disciples by introducing what we now call The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2–4, Matthew 6:9–13).

 

Let’s camp today on the disciples’ request. They not only went to the right instructor, they also went with the right intent. This was more than a “how-to” request; it was a “give-us-the-desire-to-pray” petition. After noticing the pattern of prayer in Jesus’ life, they longed to see it replicated in their own lives. They saw Him slip out of the house to pray in the early morning, while they rolled over for a little more sleep. They watched Him pause to thank His Father at various times and draw attention to the bigger picture (John 11:41–42).  Before He even gave them the pattern of The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus graciously encouraged them with the words, “When you pray.” Not “if you pray” but “when you pray”—Jesus expected the disciples to pray. Driven by circumstances or as a spiritual discipline, He knew His own would turn to the Father in prayer.

 

They needed that expectation as much as we do. Our failure to pray rarely rises from lack of technique or subject matter. Often we fail at prayer simply because we don’t keep at it. We try to pray and quickly give up—yet prayer is the breathing of our spiritual life. Just as we can’t afford to stop pulling air into our lungs, so we also can’t survive spiritually without the healthy respirations of prayer. When the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray,” that simple request was in and of itself praying. Make it your persistent prayer for a few days. Ask Him out loud. If a specific direction or thought doesn’t come to mind, read and reflect on The Lord’s Prayer. Spin off from certain verses of Jesus’ prayer, and expound with your own words.

 

By giving us a model, Jesus wasn’t inviting rote repetition; He was offering a healthy pattern. Just as He taught His disciples, so He is willing to teach us all things (John 14:26)—including how to pray. Give your prayer life a realistic check-up (or autopsy). What’s the status?  What would a significant step forward in the spiritual discipline of prayer look like in your life?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, teach me to pray. Lord when I open my eyes in the morning, teach me to pray, when my head rests on the pillow at night, teach me to pray. When troubles, successes, sadness, and joy come my way, or when I fear, teach me to pray. Jesus when I am calm and resolved, when I plan and when I fail, and when I consider how very little time I have left on this earth, O Lord, teach me to pray. In Jesus’ name always, 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 21-25 of 285