Devotionals
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October 15, 2017, 5:00 AM

The way we think about authority is inextricably linked to how we think about God.


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Philippians 2:3-8

 

As of late, with all the things going on in my life, parenting a high school kid has been a mammoth challenge.  As much as he was excited about high school, the reality of an early alarm, the need to spend long periods of time doing homework, while fine at school, he comes home and unloads his frustrations on everyone around him.   To say this has been a challenge of my patience is a monumental understatement. Some days I preach to myself, “Remain calm.  Be king and loving yet clear about my authority and expectations.”  Other days, I can only muster, “Jesus, help me!”   And sometimes, regretfully, I have given myself over to the frustration and found myself jumping on her crazy-train, becoming angry and threatening my hand. But the truth is, if at any particular moment the only power I have over my children are my hands, then I really have nothing at all.

 

Where do we draw our motivation for surrendering to the authority of God?  If it is fear of a heavy hand looming over us, we are missing the essence of what it means to live under His authority and in a real, active relationship with Him.  In the short-term it may control our behavior but it has no sustaining power to shape our hearts.  I think this is why Jesus set aside His power and control when He walked the earth.  He knew that the motivation of obedience springs from a relationship.  Scripture teaches us that He “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” Jesus could have asserted His authority yet He humbled Himself and set aside His privilege, power, and control to the point of death.  Most people grasp desperately to hold onto to those very things, but Christ is asking us to let them go.

 

His authority was not demonstrated through threat and coercion but through humbleness, servanthood, and considering others as better than Himself.  These values make up the foundation of a healthy and God-honoring relationship. He had every right to assert power and control, yet He chose not to.  He was teaching that our motivation for obedience must flow from a deeper well.  An attempt to keep (or enforce) rules will prove hollow without the reliance on a relationship.  As we come to understand more about the ways of God in the Bible, we can see that He values freedom.  He never intended our robotic obedience but asks for our deep-rooted trust in His will and rule.  As we grow in our relationships, we will see that the more we are willing to submit to the rule of God the more we will experience the peace of God.

 

The way we think about authority is inextricably linked to how we think about God. If our understanding of authority has been shaped through coercion, threat, and control, then our temptation is to see God in the same way and to use our authority in the same manner. We carry forth a God-given mission to reflect God’s image.  Claiming Christ is a large responsibility because He desires that we model what it means to live under His rule upon the earth.  He has given us authority over our lives, our bodies, our affections, and our little corners of the world.  How will we use it?  Will we use it to exalt ourselves beyond our places as creatures of God or will we follow Christ and use it to exalt others, exalt our Creator, and the values of His kingdom?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to wisely use the authority You have given me. Lord help me to stop seeing authority as a way of controlling behavior. Jesus help me to see it as a way to empower others, especially my children, to live free and full. In Your name, Amen. 




October 14, 2017, 5:00 AM

How has living for Christ affected your relationships with people around you?


“But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.” 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

 

I took a yoga class many years ago. One day before we started, I was telling this lady next to me that I enjoyed the exercise, but as a Christian I didn’t subscribe to the new-age beliefs that the teacher shares during class. The lady smiled condescendingly and said, “Maybe you can be open-minded. All religions work together.” In great fashion I replied, “Well, you have to be careful not to be so open-minded that your brain falls out!” I had just met this lady, and I launched into a lecture right then, and I lost her. Later while praying about it. God revealed to me that there is a time for a lecture and a time for love.  I should have earned the right to speak truth to her by loving her in the present.  You see there is a difference between knowledge that puffs us up and love that builds up.

 

I can remember when I had wrapped myself in the world’s prideful lies that made it easy to dismiss the fact that I needed a Savior. Lies like: There are many paths to God. People who do more good than bad will wind up in heaven. Jesus may be real for you, but not for me. Sin is a made-up concept used to make me feel guilty. There is no absolute truth. This, by the way, is an absolute statement!  When we invest in loving people as Jesus invested in us, we will discover that meaning and purpose is only found in relationships, and relationships give us opportunity to share the truth of God.  They also give us insight into our relationship with Him, and just how much we need His love. What lies have you believed about God in the past? As you got to know Him better through His Word, what truths have you discovered? How has living for Christ affected your relationships with people around you?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, the world is full of vague, fluffy lies meant to distract us from the only truth that leads to a meaningful life here on earth and eternal life in heaven with You. Lord fill my heart and mind with the truth of Your Son.   Jesus help me to take things in Your time and love people as You loved them. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




October 13, 2017, 5:00 AM

In what situations do you need to drop your agenda and pick up your cross and follow Christ?


Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:20-26

 

Self-denial isn’t resigning one’s self to a life of misery and drudgery. The opposite is true. Dying to ourselves and living for Christ is where true joy, security and purpose are found. But, this requires work and intentionality on our part. It entails counting the cost of following Christ. We do this by exposing the areas of our heart where we are chasing comfort and convenience above all else. It necessitates being honest about the line items on our personal agenda we don’t want to scratch out. It means slowing down long enough to reflect and ponder. It begins with possessing the courage to push through comfort’s charm and head towards the specific purpose God has for our life, which leads towards a place of refinement, inconvenience and stretching.

 

The apostle Paul urges us to “work out YOUR salvation with fear and trembling” in Philippians 2:12. Once again, not a very comforting or convenient statement. Now, don’t confuse these words for a charge to earn spiritual merit badges through good works. Remember, God’s grace is a free gift. You can’t earn something that is given to you with no strings attached. So, what Paul is telling the believers in the church of Philippi, as well as us, is to put into action God’s saving work in YOUR own life. The way you go about your day should serve as a response to being loved.  Working out your salvation entails ruthless personal reflection, listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and clarifying your calling. It means possessing a willingness to say to God, “Yes, Lord I will obey….now what’s the question? I’m going to follow you wherever you lead. I’m going to trust you with who I am becoming. I am going to submit my ways to You.”

 

Christ calls each one of us to die to ourselves and pick up our cross. This is a universal command, but one that gets displayed in obedience in a variety of different ways.  Jesus calls us to follow Him, and following Him means, first and foremost, to die.  To lay down our desires, our hopes, and our dreams, and put aside anything other than full devotion to Him and His plan for our lives.  To be willing to part with the things that we so easily cling onto for life and to say to God, “I’m willing to lay them down if it means I can be used by You to bring You glory and bear fruit so that others may know You as God.” We shouldn’t overvalue comfort when we count the cost of being a disciple.  Instead, we have to choose our calling over our comfort. Clarifying your sacrifice will make room for your purpose and your calling to become clear. The time has come to put the work in so you can articulate what YOUR cross is. In what situations do you need to drop your agenda and pick up your cross and follow Christ?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I want to stop overvaluing comfort when I count the cost of being a disciple and following You. Lord I want to do the work necessary to articulate my cross. Jesus instead of comfort, may I confidently deny myself knowing that You will use this sacrifice to make an impact. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




October 12, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where do you need to dig deeper into the truth to expose the state of your heart?


The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

 

In our minds, we create “truths” that determine our direction and influence our perspective. They are often rooted in our desire to experience freedom, peace and hope. Chasing after those things, and proving to others they are true, becomes our agenda and purpose. They are so powerful they don’t even need to be verbalized to control our mindset and lay claim to our heart. Often, they begin with the word IF. As in, if I get married, then I will finally be happy. If I had more money, then I would feel more secure. If humanity could all agree on my side of the issue, then there would be unity. Each IF/THEN statement is based upon what we think will handle the affections of our souls.

 

Yet, no matter how hard we might push for them to be true, they always leave us disappointed. They collapse under the pressure because they weren’t designed to be the source of our hope.  Truth doesn’t set us free so that we can do whatever we want. In fact, that is no freedom at all. If we’re not careful, we can use that freedom and still be enslaved through our self-absorption. This doesn’t lead to freedom, but rather frustration and futility. Why is this case? Because everything finds its meaning and purpose within the context of its relationship to God. Apart from Him nothing makes sense. The only foundation strong enough to support the weight of our desires is God’s truth. Our lives were created in the image of God to demonstrate His compelling beauty and the greatness of His love.

 

Freeing truth compels us to love. We demonstrate our understanding of God’s truth when we give our lives away. The way in which we do this flows from our relationship with our Creator and our willingness to stay connected to Him. Rather than a principle or an issue, truth is always found in the context of a relationship. Human beings are designed to relate to one another in the context of love. Whoever loves is known by God and it is this knowing that serves as the source for which we love others. The heart is the source of love while the soul and mind are instruments of love. Our hearts must be awakened to live and to love. Our minds are useful to that end. Lust, envy, anger, comparison, pride, jealousy, indifference, complacency, etc. Where do you need to dig deeper into the truth to expose the state of your heart?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I desire to be drawn to Your truth in such a way that it is forged into my character and heart. Lord help me to trust that everything I desire and hope for finds its meaning and purpose in You. Jesus transform my mind in order to awaken my heart to Your will. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




October 11, 2017, 9:55 AM

Where is your praise today?


Today I want to do a little different.  I think the good old enemy has been getting a lot of recognition lately and today I just want to focusing on praising the one who has delivered me from the enemy!  SO, I hope you will join me in that today! 

Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! (Ephesians 1:5)

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn't let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn't mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TKAN-nAsu8

 


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 41-45 of 283