Devotionals
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September 23, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you know about God or do you know God?


Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

 

The issue of trust plays a critical role in one’s walk with God. Trusting in our forgiveness frees us to live confidently, while doubt forces us to chase good works to ensure our salvation. The confidence we find in Christ and the trust we have in His character allows us the freedom to live transparently before others. Knowing God’s character enables us to better trust Him and increases our faith. If we are to live as examples of Christ, we must know His heart intimately. The words trust, faith and belief are all dependant on one another. It’s nearly impossible to define one of these words without using the other two. You simply can’t do it without robbing them of their meaning. When you study the Bible, you will find that trust, faith and belief share the same Greek root word.

 

If this is the case, in order to trust God more and deepen our faith in Him, we must know His heart. There are several ways to grow in intimacy with God. In the book of Philippians, Paul’s prayer for the church was that they would desire to learn more about God. He sees this taking place through the sharing of common experiences with people inside of community, as well as consistent quiet time with God. When Paul speaks of wanting to know Christ in Philippians 3:10, the Greek word he uses means “to know by experience.”  When we begin a relationship with Christ, those areas in which we struggled with trusting Him do not instantly go away. We bring baggage into this relationship, reasons why we can’t trust and fear that if we do trust we will only be let down. 

 

It is by getting to know God and understanding His heart that we can begin to let go of the things that hold us back from trusting fully in Him. Unfortunately, there are some who never experience this level of trust because they hesitate in pursuing go deep with God. When we don’t experience this level of depth in our relationship with God, this vacuum doesn’t remain empty. We try to fill this void with everything and anything. Even though it was shaped for God, it continues to suck things into its center until something finally fits.  It remains empty but is always pulling. We try to mask this intimacy void by creating an “appearance” of depth. Whether it be using spiritual language, displaying our knowledge of Scripture or our right habits or beliefs, all of these actions are driven by our pursuit of religious credibility. We are experts in keeping up a spiritual image among others.

 

This appearance has become such a part of church culture that this image is how many would describe a person who has a deep, abiding walk with God. The activities you participate in and the rules that you keep quickly define your relationship with God. Pursuing religious credibility is a cheap substitute for a deep relationship with God, but it is incredibly easy for one to fall into this mindset. What we need to understand is that knowing about God is not the same as knowing God. We cannot mistake trivia for depth. Knowledge without application is deception. Depth is not revealed in our knowledge alone, but rather our response to that knowledge. Our response reveals our faith. Do you know about God or do you know God?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I don’t want just knowledge of You.  Lord I want to know Your heart. I desire a type of depth in my relationship with You that would cause a change in my character and heart. Jesus I yearn to learn more about You in order to better trust and obey You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 22, 2017, 5:00 AM

What is the connection between truth and trust?


To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

In our age of “fake news,” we’ve become increasingly more distrustful of information. We wonder if there is truly a reliable source out there. With trust eroding, we question people’s agenda and the information they are telling us. This hesitation extends to God. But, doubting our Creator is nothing new. It’s been happening since Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden and told not to eat of the tree that contained the knowledge of good and evil. They had everything their hearts desired. They experience unhindered connection and communion with God. They were given a garden full of trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food (Genesis 2:9). Yet, even with all this freedom, they were willing to give it all up for the opportunity be like God.

 

The enemy told a tale that God didn’t want Adam and Eve to be like Him and, because of that, He was willfully withholding knowledge (Genesis 3:5). This was the accusation. The enticing appeal was the concept that knowledge is power. It would make them, and us, feel a sense of superiority and control. The more we know the less we will have to entrust ourselves to another. Information overload occurred the moment the first bite of the apple took place. The enemy knew that if he gave humans enough information they couldn’t handle it and would destroy each other with it. And, we fell for it hook, line and sinker. We now find ourselves locked into a cycle that says if we just know more and understand more, then we will finally be free.

 

We think information will bring us peace because it buttresses our perspective and supports what we can see. This only creates a vicious cycle leading to nowhere. Why? Because one can’t give or get enough information to build a relationship. When knowledge replaces trust, we will never get to love. The truth is more than facts and information. It is a force that demands submission. Knowing as we ought isn’t a matter of mere facts. It’s a matter of trust.  We can’t allow our emotions, our circumstances or our limited perspective cloud our judgement. To authentically pursue truth, we must hold out the possibility that we might be wrong. This admission is impossible if we display a scoffer’s heart.

 

Scoffing is where skepticism meets arrogance. A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, or doesn’t seek wisdom at all because they believe they are the smartest person in the room. Knowledge has the power to lead one to arrogance. Humility is required when we pursue truth. Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Wisdom begins with God’s perspective. When you hear the word “truth” what comes to mind? How would you define truth? Who gets to determine was is true? What is the connection between truth and trust? What role does our emotions play when we encounter truth?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, rather than trying to know all and understanding everything before I move, Lord help me to have the courage to trust and walk in faith. Jesus allow my focus and intention to be pursuing You and letting that encounter shape everything about me, both my actions and my words. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 21, 2017, 5:00 AM

Prayer is about creating an atmosphere where constant communion with God can exist.


Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ “And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

 

Persistence, boldness and diligence. Are these words that define your prayer life? Or are terms like weary, disillusioned, and disenchanted more apt descriptions? What keeps you from approaching God’s throne with boldness? What has caused you to lose heart? Prayer can be summed up in one simple word: communion. It goes beyond communication to communion. Unfortunately, many of us find it very difficult to land at this place of refuge. Before we even start, inadequacy paralyzes our prayers. Weariness in prayer stems from a distorted view of God’s character. This is fueled by the assumption that God has better things to do with His time (bringing peace during wartime, ending poverty, curing cancer, etc.) then listen to our silly requests concerning our insignificant lives and the decisions we face.

 

Through the telling of the Parable of the Persistent Widow, Jesus is nudging us to see the heart of God from a different perspective. Jesus contrasts the vast differences between an unjust judge and a gracious God who cares about the condition of our soul. God longs for us to participate in His story by lifting up our requests to Him confident that a loving Creator cares about our wants, needs and desires. He is interested in the situations we face. Today’s parable echoes Paul’s message of persistent prayer found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. It is a simple message of two words: pray continually. With our busy schedules and all the demands that come with living life, keeping this command seems nearly impossible.

 

How can one pray without ceasing and not grow weary? What Paul is saying is that prayer is a “heart-set” that keeps the lines of communication with God perpetually open. Prayer is about creating an atmosphere where constant communion with God can exist. How would you describe your prayer life? What would it look like in your life to pray continually?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, forgive me for doubting that my concerns are important to You. Lord I desire to trust You with all my hopes, dreams, fears and concerns. May I be persistent in pursuing Your heart and aligning myself with Your story that is unfolding before me. Jesus allow me to have the humility to come to You in faith with all that I am. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 20, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where do you need to stop striving for control and trust God is in control?


There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:9-13

 

Rest always feels like a place that lies just beyond our reach. We think that as soon as we get things under our control then we will experience those precious moments of rest. Unfortunately, it never comes because as soon as we get things under control the other shoe drops and things become out of control again.  Yet, we foolishly try to arrange our lives to control everything. We don’t want to be dependent on others. We think having everything under our control will lead to peace and rest. However, it leads to anxiety, stress, and will eventually lead to pure insanity. Many of our lives are defined by endless worrying and constant striving. The reality is we live in a crazy world going at an insane pace. If we keep this up, we will end up in the funny farm.

 

But, there is something more devastating that takes place when we seek security on our own terms and at our own pace. We stop short of what God intended for our lives. This internal sense of security is impossible to find from a human perspective. So, we grab a hold of everything we can to make us think we are at rest when in reality we are clinging, tense, and tight. Instead of resting in the security God provides, we rest in the place we were able to get ourselves through our own effort. We settle for productivity. However, the more productive we become doesn’t cause us to slow down, but rather accelerate even more. The greatest danger is settling for good when God has designed us for some level of greatness and Kingdom impact.

 

Sadly, we miss out in arriving in the place God intended. This isn’t new. The Israelites suffered the same problems. God had taken them out of slavery and was bringing them to a place of milk and honey. But, they had become indifferent. They stopped short. Every man was doing what he thought was right in his own eyes, looking out to secure their own wants and desires. We all tend to reason that when we get everything secure then we will find rest. But God says: when you rest in me, then I will give you the security you seek. He gives you rest so that you can live with security. Rest isn’t about efficiency. Neither is it about performance. Rest is about a relationship.

 

In Hebrews, the author urges us to be diligent to “enter His rest.” There is a place of rest that exists for each one of us. We must be diligent to enter His rest and be fearful that somehow we will miss what He wants to do in us, with us and through us. A lot is at stake. To make sure we enter His rest, we must carve out time to remember and opportunities to submit. We have to observe some tangible point in time where intimacy with God is on the agenda. Rest reminds us that we are not in control and, more importantly, we don’t have to be. To enter His rest is to enter His presence, trust His provision and submit to His authority.  Where do you need to stop striving for control and trust God is in control?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, teach me to pause so you can do Your work within me. Lord rather than trying to control my world, I lay it at Your feet knowing You are the one directs my steps. Jesus help me to trust that Your provision is enough. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 19, 2017, 5:00 AM

What has the potential to cause our words of Christ’s love to become bankrupt and hollow to those in need?


What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17

 

When we see the difficult issues of the world, the solutions to the problems seem obvious. People who are hungry need food. Families without a home need a roof over their head. Racism could be solved by all of us becoming color blind. If only the “have’s” would be more compassionate to the “have nots,” then all that is wrong with the world would be instantly fixed. Yet, sometimes the obvious solution to a problem can cause more harm than good. Sometimes in our attempt to create a quick fix we perpetuate the problem and make it worse. We give something that addresses the symptoms but ignores the deeper issue.

 

We throw our money, time or resources at a problem without getting our hands dirty and being curious and compassionate. We fail to lean in and understand how things got to be the way they are. All our efforts, as well intended as they might be, keep the cycle of poverty spinning. What we have to understand is that poverty goes much deeper than material inequality. Poverty is a “serious lack of means for a proper existence.” There are individuals who have their physical needs met in abundance, yet aren’t truly living. They are stuck in poverty. Just because one has food, water and shelter doesn’t mean they aren’t bankrupt. There is poverty of identity where people have a broken relationship with purpose. There is poverty of stewardship where individuals have a broken relationship with stuff. And, then there is poverty of community where relationships with others are broken.

 

The truth is apart from Christ we all find ourselves in poverty. We are a broken people who are only put back together by the life-changing power of the Gospel. Understanding our own poverty causes humility to spring forth in our actions and words. It reframes our perspective on the people behind the issues. We recognize they are no different than us and that they are valuable in God’s eyes. It is this hope and message we carry with us as ambassadors for Christ. We don’t want to just solve problems or deal with issues, but help everyone we come in contact with encounter a message that empowers them and speaks to the core of their identity. Does this mean all we do is talk and share the Gospel? By no means, because talk is cheap. Our words become bankrupt and hollow when we fail to meet the physical needs of those who are hurting.

 

Yet, instead of just stopping at the physical need we also speak into the spiritual needs that remain below the surface. We recognize that God orchestrates everyone’s story and as a result we should “lean in” and listen to the tale God is telling with that individual’s life. While addressing the issues we work to empower people by involving them in the solution. What has the potential to cause our words of Christ’s love to become bankrupt and hollow to those in need?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may I always be reminded that Your grace is what makes me rich. Without You, I am bankrupt. Lord the hope I have experienced needs to be shared with those around me. Let my words of Your love match up with my actions. Jesus help me to live out my faith by serving and empowering others to know You.  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 61-65 of 283