Devotionals
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October 24, 2017, 12:00 AM

Would you say you are able to navigate through life with stability and gratitude?


Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Good judgment wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction. All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly. A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing. Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. PROVERBS 13:8-20

 

Solomon speaks to the influence others have on our walk with God. Contained within this single verse are both a promise and a warning that we should take seriously.  Let’s start with the promise. If you surround yourself with wise people, you will in turn become wise. Throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon goes into great detail highlighting the differences between the wise, the fool and the scoffer. Time and time again, he highlights the benefits of pursuing wisdom. The wise are able to navigate through life with stability and gratitude. They walk with integrity. There is a consistency in their character. But, wise people rarely become wise on their own. They have friends who have the same focus and foundation. Their wisdom rubs off on one another as they pursue a common goal: reflecting Christ in their lives. They are driven by convictions.

 

On the flip side, if you surround yourself with fools, their foolishness will eventually rub off on you. When Solomon refers to someone as a fool, he isn’t saying the individual is ignorant. Rather, these individuals are indifferent to the Truth and focused on their own satisfaction. They foolishly believe they know what is best for their life. Their search for fulfillment in all the wrong things causes them to overact to their feelings and circumstances. This only leads to disappointment and regret. Gratitude is nowhere to be found. Stop and think for a moment: are these the individuals you want influencing the direction for your life? Do you want their advice and suggestions to guide your footsteps? How are they impacting your ability to be grateful?

 

Today, reflect on who you are letting into your inner circle and giving the ability to influence your heart. Who are influencing the direction of your life?  Who do you look to for wisdom and guidance? Why do you look to these individuals for words of wisdom? Would you say you are able to navigate through life with stability and gratitude?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I thank You for the people in my life whose greatest concern is my character. Lord teach me to surround myself with people who are pursuing Your heart. Jesus help me to spur others on to experience more of You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




October 20, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you currently being stubborn when it comes to giving something over to God?


“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:14-18

 

The imagery of a shepherd tends to get lost on us in our modern world. However, this metaphor would’ve resonated deeply with Jesus’ audience. Not only was this a job present in their culture, the image of a sheep and shepherd were also used throughout the Old Testament. Jesus utilizes this imagery to describe Himself. The job of a shepherd gives us a glimpse into His heart as well as shines light on our human tendencies. In a way, these passages should cause two different reactions to well up within us, comfort and humility.

 

We are cared for and protected by a God who knows us intimately. Every day the Shepherd makes sure that the needs of His flock are met. The Good Shepherd guides them through danger and rescues them when they’re lost. But, Jesus takes it a step further to a point that would appear crazy to His listeners. This shepherd was willing to lay down His life for some sheep. These animals are a dime a dozen. Why go so far as dying for them?  The shepherd’s actions show how valued we are in His eyes. However, think about the implications on what Jesus is saying about us. If He’s our shepherd, than what does that make us? DUMB SHEEP. That’s what we are.

 

Sheep are notoriously stubborn, stupid and helpless. We are lost and helpless. Without the protection of a caring shepherd, we startle easily when we are in danger or faced with uncertainty. We can be prideful and think we know the right direction for our lives, but just like sheep, we often don’t see the steep cliff that awaits us on the other end. For as clueless as sheep are, there is one thing they do very well: they know their shepherd’s voice. During Jesus’ time, at night shepherds would bring their flock to a common stall with only one gate in and out. All the sheep would spend the evening there, but no shepherd worried about their flock getting mixed up over night. Why?

 

When the sheep heard the voice of their shepherd, they’d separate from the rest of the pack and follow his lead. A sheep instinctively knew who his or her shepherd was just by their voice. Even though other shepherds would call to the sheep, they only responded to the call of their owner. This is why we must humbly tune our ears and listen to His voice. We must know His voice because there are others who are vying for our attention and affection. Discernment only comes when we immerse ourselves in His Word and surround ourselves with others who are also pursuing God’s heart. Recognizing His voice and His leading enables us to confidently take our next step of faith.  Where are you currently being stubborn when it comes to giving something over to God?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for being a loving shepherd who guides and protects me. Lord help me to hear and trust Your voice. Jesus let me see myself as a sheep that is utterly helpless and vulnerable without You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




October 19, 2017, 5:00 AM

In what ways have you discovered the truth that following Christ isn’t easy, just the best?


Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”  John 21:18–19

 

Today’s passage is an intense private conversation between the Lord and Peter that the apostle John was allowed to overhear. Even though Peter was still very tender from his devastating failure during the events leading up to the crucifixion, when he denied knowing Christ, Jesus welcomed him back.  But it was a welcome accompanied by truth. Jesus had work for him to do. He refused to sugarcoat the reality of the life to which Peter had returned. Jesus basically let him know, “This is going to be hard, Peter. If you’re going to follow Me, the way won’t be easy. Feeding My sheep is going to take everything you’ve got.”

 

When Jesus said, “Where you do not want to go,” we know what He meant because of John’s side note: “(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)” Jesus could see what Peter would face in the future and He knew His disciple would endure. Church history records that in about AD 65 Peter was executed in Rome under orders from Nero. By the end of his life Peter had been on the road for several decades proclaiming the gospel. He had penned a couple of New Testament letters and probably been Mark’s main source for the second gospel. Peter had a great life of serving God, but he had a tough finish. Following Christ is not easy. Our Lord never hid that fact. But following Him is best.

 

We’re not sugarcoating anything here. The Christian life is not always smooth going, but it is exactly what we were designed to do and be. It’s the real life. It’s the best life you can possibly have: giving your life to Jesus Christ, living for Him, obeying His Word, fellowshipping with His people, and serving in His kingdom.  You don’t know what lies ahead for you. Jesus does. He probably won’t tell you beforehand, except to assure you that whatever happens, He will be with you every step of the way. He has made that promise (Matthew 28:20) and He will keep it. That’s all you really need to know as you follow Christ. Tell Him you fully intend to let Him lead you as you step out in faith. How do you relate to the way Jesus welcomed Peter with more responsibility? In what ways have you discovered the truth that following Christ isn’t easy, just the best?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God I realize You demonstrate who You are by asking me without apology to do hard things. Lord You promise to help, but You never minimize the difficulties. Your Son offered us an easy yoke, but it’s still a yoke, and our weaknesses mean we can’t afford to ever forget who is sharing the yoke with us. Jesus thank You that we never have to go through a hard or easy thing apart from You! In Your name Jesus, amen.




October 18, 2017, 5:00 AM

What action steps will you take going forward that will enable you to make wiser decisions?


When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood like a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away my childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

 

I can’t recall all of the many words of wisdom provided to me by my father. I can tell you that at the age of 16 I thought he was kind of old fashioned and unimaginative. I can also tell you that now I fell like a total idiot for not absorbing so much of the godly wisdom that he poured into me. I working on things with dad. From the time I can remember anything I remember the thrill of fixing a problem on a car, repairing something on a house, and how impatient I would get when things weren’t going like I thought they should . I also remember getting frustrated as a young boy and complaining to my father of what a fixer I was. His reply: “Son, if you want to be a good, find someone who knows what they are doing and watch them.” From that point on, I watched mechanics and carpenters, studied their tool selection and repair strategies, and mimicked whatever I saw them do. The result, I became pretty good at building and fixing things.

 

Dad gave me other advice. Limit your alcohol consumption, treat people with respect, honor your mother, and study the Word. He also gave me incredibly good practical advice. Finish what you start, change your motor oil every three thousand miles, and go to college.  Some of dad’s advice came naturally to me. I innately wanted to follow it. Others, not so much. I ran with a group of friends who also gave me advice, who wanted to influence me, and to shape my thinking and view of the world. And while their intentions were good, they lacked the salt that my dad’s wisdom had.  The result, is a lot of regret, a lot of lessons learned the hard way, and too much separation from the man God wanted me to be.

 

You are the company you keep. Have you ever heard that? Pray about those you surround yourself with. Does that mean that you abdicate your responsibility to love and influence your close friends? Absolutely not. But it does mean that a godly person understands that iron sharpens iron, and that we need to keep our Christ following friends, very, very close to us.  I do not have a silver bullet that will eliminate all of my bad decisions.  For what it’s worth neither did David, Solomon, or the disciples. We’re all in a battle between heaven and hell, and simply knowing that can frame our decision-making process in a more godly light.  Author John Eldridge says that “God is a God of process.” I think what he means by that is that a follower of God is on a never-ending pursuit of Him.

 

Every moment can be a longing to learn more, to love Him more, and to understand Him more. Draw near to God; and He will draw close to you (James 4:8). I think if there is a silver bullet, this would probably be it. What action steps will you take going forward that will enable you to make wiser decisions? Who has God placed in your life to speak wisdom to you?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, keep me in Your company this week.  Lord please pour Your wisdom into me, and allow this wisdom to become a part of the fabric of who I am. I pray that I learn to listen and adhere to the wise advice of friends, colleagues, and even strangers that You put in my path to shape me into the person You want me to be. I am yours Jesus, and I seek Your wisdom, Your love, and Your forgiveness today. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




October 17, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are you spilling onto others critical or life giving words?


“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” Luke 6:45

 

According to one of Aesop’s fables, a man and his grandson were traveling to town. The old man walked while his grandson rode their donkey. But some people said, “Would you look at that? The old man is suffering on his feet while that strong, young boy, who is totally capable of walking, sits on that donkey!” So the old man, hearing this, switched places and began to ride the donkey while the boy walked. Now he heard people saying, “Would you look at that? A grown man taking advantage of that little boy. Can you believe it?” So the man and the boy both rode the donkey. Then they heard people saying, “Would you look at those heavy brutes making that poor donkey suffer?” So they both got off and walked until they heard some people say, “How pitiful, a perfectly good donkey not being used!” In the final scene of the story, the boy and the man stagger along as they carry the donkey.

 

The point of the story is this: If a person’s heart is to criticize, if their intention is to find fault, there is absolutely nothing that can satisfy them. Beneath the petty, surface issue is a real, heart issue. Our words reveal what’s in our hearts. Our words are merely the spillover of what is in our hearts.  Usually our criticism stems for one of three things: unforgiveness, envy, or personal comparison. Unforgiveness and the bitterness that goes with it fuel criticism. The criticism is not the real issue; it only covers the deeper issue and causes wounds to fester rather than heal. The second heart issue fueling criticism is envy. Criticism masks envy, jealousy, or resentment. Envious of another’s success, people grow critical to pull the other down. As they dwell on the other person’s good fortune, they begin to be overcome by resentment and start to find fault with what that person is doing. A third heart problem that lies under the covers of criticism is personal comparison. People can become critical of others because they’re living in defeat themselves.

 

Maybe you’re discouraged about the direction of your life or what you have been able to accomplish so far. Maybe you’re struggling with a personal sin that has you consistently defeated. How easy it is to become critical of others to try to level the playing field. Comments deflect the attention from your own struggles to another person’s: “Well, she doesn’t have it all together, either,” or “Maybe I’m struggling, but he’s not perfect.” Criticism elevates you as the highest and best. Criticism can seem to reduce the pain of being under scrutiny and give you the satisfaction of scrutinizing someone else instead. People find it much harder to see your life if you are shining a critical spotlight on others! Criticism takes the focus off you and your faults and makes you feel superior, which is destructive to your spiritual life.

 

We often utter careless, thoughtless words that strike others like a slap in the face. Our verbal missiles may or may not be targeted for intentional injury, but we cause deep damage with our critical words. On a better day, filled with the Spirit and focused on what’s right, we would never choose to say those things. But when our hearts are overflowing with unforgiveness, envy, or personal comparisons, criticism spills from our lips.  What is fueling your criticism of others unforgiveness, envy, personal comparisons, or some other motive lurking in your heart?  What are you spilling onto others critical or life giving words? What does that suggest about the abundance of your heart?

 

This is my Pray: Father God, my criticism of others is a decoy from my real heart issues. Lord help me to see clearly the messy motives of my words. Please show me my unforgiveness, envy, and areas of defeat. When I start to deflect the attention from my own soul onto others, please remind me of my real heart issues.  Jesus please forgive me, please heal me, and fill my heart with good treasure so that when I speak, my words would spill good onto others. 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 36-40 of 283