Devotionals
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September 28, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are you learning through your steps of obedience?


Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25:5

 

It is possible for one to have all the answers, yet still not be free. “Going deeper” is dangerous waters when one finds themselves drowning in the shallow end of a faith not lived out. Knowledge that remains stuck in our brain but never sees the light of day is not truly understood. We might comprehend these bits of truth in theory, but knowing truth is only developed through experiencing truth. Truth is discovered by faith. We open up God’s Word and are bombarded with wisdom and insight. We nod our head when we come across Scripture that tells us it is better to give than receive, to forgive as we’ve been forgiven, to not lean on our understanding, to pray continually, to store up treasures in Heaven. We can memorize these verses, post them to our Facebook wall or even share them with our friends and family.

 

In our minds, we believe we understand and comprehend these passages. This insight might be lodged in our heart, but unless we put that knowledge into practice; all we have is information. The Scriptures were not given as evidence of faith, but rather serve as a calling to faith. Unfortunately, we typically search for information to free us from faith and create a certainty we can control, navigate and solve.  We don’t know how dangerous this mindset is in terms of crippling the intimacy and knowledge we have of God. The opposite of faith isn’t doubt but certainty. We foolishly believe that freedom is found by holding on when true freedom can only be experienced when we let go and trust. Our trustful obedience opens us up and avails us to being known by God. We show our love for God by making Him the first person we come to when we can’t figure things out on our own. Truth is revealed one step of faith at a time. What has God been revealing to you about His character and your heart lately? What are you learning through your steps of obedience?

This is my Prayer: Father God, as you reveal to me more of Your heart and Your character, may  I walk in obedience and faith. Jesus I desire to display courage and boldness as I search for Your truth. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 27, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where do you turn for comfort when you are afraid?


Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. Psalm 56:3

Truth be told, when I was kid I was afraid of the dark. I was a master at procrastinating. I’d find every excuse to get out of bed once I was tucked in. “I need to go to the bathroom. I need a drink of water. I think I left something in the living room. I’m hungry.”  I’d go through the same back and forth routine with my mom every night at bedtime, because I was afraid. No matter how old I get, I still deal with fear on a regular basis. Only now when I lay awake in bed at night it’s not fear of the dark that haunts me…it’s fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of letting go, fear of self-image, fear of trying new things, fear of being uncomfortable, fear of what the future holds, fear of not having enough money, fear of not making enough time for my wife and kids, fear of the world that my kids are growing up in…fear, fear, fear.

 

The enemy tries to plant that fear like a melody in my head. It plays loudly like a song that you just can’t get out of your head. But it rarely lasts because the melody of God’s word in Psalm 56:3 plays even louder.  It’s like a timeless anthem that makes me want to stand and sing along at the top of your lungs in a stadium of 10,000 people.  How about you? Does the melody of fear play loudly in your head? What fears do you take to bed with you and how do you handle them? Over and over God’s Word tells us that we don’t have to be afraid because He is with us. Check out the words of the Prophet Isaiah that served as God’s nightlight for the Nation of Israel during their time of fear and uncertainty as they wandered and waited on God to lead them into the Promised Land:

 

“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” Isaiah 43:1-3 God wanted the Nation of Israel to trust him and not be paralyzed by their fears and uncertainties. He reassured them that He made them, He saved them, and He was with them no matter what because they were His children. Perhaps that’s what God wants us to remember when we are plagued by the melody of fear. No matter how rough the waters are, how high the waves appear, or how hot the flames may seem, we are his children, ransomed and rescued by His Son Jesus, and He is with us no matter what.

 

What’s the song of fear that plays loudly, over and over in your head? Where do you turn for comfort when you are afraid? God’s word is like a melody of assurance that He is with us, He will never abandon us, and He can be trusted no matter what. Take a moment and memorize Psalm 56:3 so that in times of fear you can be reminded that you are not alone-the Lord is with you. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” What’s the song of fear that plays loudly, over and over in your head? Where do you turn for comfort when you are afraid?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I will trust in You when I am afraid. Lord in the midst of the darkness, help me to see Your light is always there to guide me and comfort me.  Jesus teach me not have to fear for You are with me. Thank you for never leaving my side. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

Inheriting the Kingdom of God is not about access, but stewardship


For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Romans 14:17-18

 

Just like obedience fueled by obligation never leads to joy and freedom, neither does rule following provide access to God. Many of us live our lives as if the Kingdom of God is a place we win a ticket to based on our behavior and adherence to the rules. If we act well enough, behave properly and obey all the rules deemed worthy on our checklist, then, and only then, will God accept us and allow us in. Yet, this isn’t why the commands were given. The rules weren’t created to make us right, but to expose our need for a Savior. We couldn’t do it on our own. We were incapable of reaching God’s impossible standard of holiness.

 

Jesus died on a cross to reconcile us to God so that our life lived in obedience would serve as an expression of God’s faithfulness. Righteousness is not about our behavior; it’s about being right with God. Due to being reconciled with God, we are able to trust His authority. When we recognize this point, we approach God differently. Faith is acting on our trust. We submit to His authority because we know that is where life is found. We have the courage to examine our motives and realize that being transparent about its current state is the first step in our transformation.  If we look underneath our actions we find who or what we trust. What we do and what we say proclaims to others our view of God and His authority in our life.

 

Inheriting the Kingdom of God is not about access, but stewardship. We must become stewards of the Kingdom of God and express that to the world around us. Every action is an expression of something. We want our hearts to be so captured by God’s love that His ways come out in or action. Our job isn’t to obey the rules, but to be an expression of His Kingdom in the world. Every action is an expression of something. If this is true, what are your actions over the past few weeks expressing?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may my life serve as an expression of faith and trust. Lord give me the courage to look at what drives my actions and my words. Jesus help me to submit my ways to Your own. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

Regardless of what people might say, to forgive is not to forget.


No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:34

 

Regardless of what people might say, to forgive is not to forget.  There is no magic in forgiveness where the moment it is accepted that the memories of hurt are instantly erased from the hard drive of our memory and our deep wounds suddenly disappear. But, what do we do with passages like Jeremiah 31:34? If God forgets our sins when He forgives us, shouldn’t we do the same to those that hurt us? The word “remember” in Jeremiah 31 is not dealing with a memory issue, but rather a promise.God doesn’t suffer from amnesia. He made a covenant not to treat us as our sin deserves. Jesus took the cost of our sins on His shoulders when He was nailed to a cross in order to fulfill that covenant.

 

Debunking this idea that forgiveness is forgetting helps one to better see forgiveness as an event and process. When we show grace to someone it is an ‘event’ as words are expressed in “I forgive you.” There was a time and place when the original act of forgiveness occurred. Yet, every time their hurtful words or actions get brought back to our attention we must continue to forgive and not give in to any desires for revenge or anger. This touches upon the ‘process’ of forgiveness. Failure to see forgiveness through the lens of being both an event and process will cause considerable frustration, disappointment, and guilt for an individual. A chain reaction will be set off where they try even harder, using sure will power, to erase whatever sin they’ve forgiven from their memory completely.

 

Flipping the off switch on a hot oven doesn’t instantly turn it back to room temperature. Stand anywhere near the oven you can feel the heat radiating. However, over time the warmth of the oven lessens. The same is true with forgiveness. It does not eradicate the hurt, lack of trust or anger you hold towards the person you have forgiven. By forgiving someone, you are absorbing the cost of their offense against you. This transaction comes with some requirements on your part. By counting the sin no more, you are also committing to uphold three promises to the individual whom you have forgiven.

 

These promises are: “I will not bring up this offense again or use it against you.” How easy would it be for us to keep the guilt of their sin in our arsenal for a fight in the future. We very well could use it time and time again as our trump card in an argument: ‘remember the time when you…’ This does not mean it cannot be talked about again. Instead the promise you are making is not to bring the sin up anytime you are angry or bitter as a way of getting back at an individual.  

“I will not bring it up to others in gossip or bad mouth you in front of others.” Depending on the gravity of the sin, appropriate care may help you handle an offense against you. This promise deals more with not having loose lips around others. We put a clamp on our mouths and do not play the blame game as we gossip about the person to others.

“I will no longer personally dwell on this offense.” This promise is at much for your benefit as it for anyone else. You no longer replay the sin on videotape that shows the transpired events on a continual loop inside your head. Rather than dwelling on the past, you look to the future and the change God has in store for both you and the individual.

 

One has to trust they have forgiven even if there is some warmth coming from old wounds. This awareness forces you to have consistent motive checks where you ask God to reveal your attitude towards this person. Of the three promises above dealing with forgiveness, which promise do you most often break? Which one do you believe people find the hardest to commit to upholding?

 

This is Prayer: Father God, open my eyes to the places where unforgiveness resides.  Lord help me to trust that true forgiveness has occurred in other areas even when I can feel the sting of old wounds.  Jesus show me how You identify with my pain and comfort me when I am weak. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

How does humility help frame the perspective you have in your relationships?


Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:33

What we do must flow out of who we are. Our significance comes from being identified with Jesus. This perspective keeps us humble and humility gives a proper perspective on impact and influence. In the midst of serving God and others, we are actually freed from our own sense of importance. We are liberated from the burden of maintaining an image, from seeking the approval of others, and from other forms of self-delusion.  Our audience is narrowed to the only-important and all-important audience of one.  We are free to glorify God by reaching out and serving others.

 

Finally, humility is part of God’s design for us.  When we act in humility, we act according to our original design.  There is integrity and integration, harmony and wholeness. It postures us to be teachable by God (Psalm 25:4-6) and to receive His blessings.  When we look through Scripture, we notice those that are humble find God’s favor (Isaiah 66:2), experience His grace (James 4:6) and are exalted by Him (Proverbs 15:33). Humility is for our own good. It keeps us grounded in reality by preventing us from operating out of distorted and exaggerated opinions of ourselves.  Cultivating humility comes from seeing God as God and who we are in relationship to Him. It’s realizing the grace and blessing we have received by being called and adopted as His children.

 

When humility paves the way for us to be glorified, we become a stripped-down, cleansed vessel, ready to bear God’s image and have His glory shine through us.  God can then exalt us because it will be Him who is seen in our actions and words.  Any place you are trusted or given influence should be seen as God’s exaltation in your life and an arena where you can honor Him.  It is to our Father’s glory that we bear much fruit. We are exalted when our faith meets with God’s faithfulness. Being exalted is never about one’s efforts, but rather about faith. Faith pleases God and to please Him should be our aim in all things. This takes place through a bended knee – a posture of humility and submission that abandons my will to His. In what relationships are you currently struggling with humility? How does humility help frame the perspective you have in your relationships?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I’m humbled that You are willing to use me to make Your name known. Lord help me to exalt Your name through the way I go about my day today. Jesus may I use the time I’ve been given to glorify You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.


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