Devotionals
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September 8, 2017, 5:00 AM

How can you to own the mission of reaching people and helping them walk with God?


So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16

 

Over the years of shopping with my wife, I have developed quite a gift.  I can tell you the exact location of each honey place in any clothing store we can go in to. What is the honey place you might be wondering? It is the place, often right outside the fitting room, where your wife hands you her purse and says, “Honey, sit right here and hold my purse.  I’m going to try a few things on. Don’t worry, I’ll only be a minute.”  Store after store there always that for me to wait, while she looks for that perfect outfit. Eventually, after all that time trying different outfits on, finds just the right one. Having plenty of time for reflection while in the honey place, I began to realize how shopping for clothes has a lot in common with serving.

 

As Christians, often we fall into this trap of being paralyzed over what God is calling us to do with our lives. We desperately want to know what our thing is when it comes to making an impact or leveraging our life for impact. Since we are unsure of what the right fit is for us, we remain idle. Instead of jumping in, we sit on the sidelines. Sometimes envy sets in as we see someone serving in his or her sweet spot. We look at them and think, “man, they were made for that” and quietly, we fume over not having what they have. What we don’t realize is that this individual didn’t just find that position. They had to start somewhere. They had to take that initial step to jump in. There were many steps along the way. They first had to get into the fitting room and try things on.

 

The reality is there are plenty of opportunities for people to use their gifts and talents in Christ’s church. The need for volunteers who have a heart for service is now greater than ever.  As the church attempts to make an impact in your community, region, and world, we need a greater sense of shared ownership. The task before us as the church body is too great for anyone to remain on the sidelines. We are asking each member to jump into service and be a part of what God is doing all around us. Our impact won’t be felt if people continue to have a spectator mindset. The time has come to move from the sidelines and begin to own the mission of reaching people and helping them walk with God.

 

So, if you haven’t done so already, take that leap of service. Don’t worry if it is the perfect fit.  Maybe the first thing you try on won’t feel right. That’s okay. There is always something else to try on. God will honor your willingness to possess a proactive heart set towards service. By engaging in service, God will bring to light your gifts and your passions.  How can you move from spectator to active participant? How can you to own the mission of reaching people and helping them walk with God?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for leading me as pursue relationship with You.  Lord I desire to reflect Your heart through my actions. I want my life be defined by humility and service.  Help me to  understand how patient You are with me while I struggle to find where I fit.  Jesus help me to trust that You have given a place to serve that is just right for me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 7, 2017, 5:00 AM

Results aren’t just what gets accomplished, but rather the way it gets accomplished.


And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13:16

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Even though many people want to make an impact in this world, they tend to struggle when it comes to pinpointing the gifts and resources they’ve been given. After all, our own worst critic tends to be ourselves. What everyone needs is for someone to walk alongside them, speak into their lives and pinpoint the abilities they can’t see on their own.  The only way this can occur is through intentionality and investment. One of the greatest gifts we can give someone is encouraging them to have courage and to see themselves as a leader. People connect when they are known.

 

A relationship is where influence takes root. We can’t take this responsibility lightly. Our expression, the way we live our lives, can be someone else’s encounter. As believers, everywhere we go we carry with us the integrity of Christ’s image and the influence of His love. Our encounter with Christ is meant to be shared, rather than held onto.  God does something in us first before He will ever do something through us. He can do immeasurably more than we could ever hope for or dream. Immeasurably more starts with His power at work within us. Influence gets formed within and moves outward. These ripple effects touch others who in turn impact the places where they’ve been planted. Making disciples is what happens outside of the church walls “as we go” about our normal day.

 

Results aren’t just what gets accomplished, but rather the way it gets accomplished. Results matter because people matter. Accomplishing things and making a name for ourselves means very little if people don’t feel valued. Influence has a responsibility for those within its care. We must start with love because love compels and love fills. Love wants the best for another person. Think about the people you lead and who are in your sphere of influence. What could the people you lead become? Who needs to hear that you believe in them?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to encourage those around me. Lord help me to speak Your life and truth into the people that I know and care about. Jesus I desire to take what You are doing in my own heart and give it away to others. In Your name, Jesus Amen.




September 6, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are you already doing that God could be calling you to lead with greater influence?


The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

Some mornings I have to crouch down at the edge of my backyard patio and plunge my palm into the grass just to make sure. Without fail, I walk back in the house with a wet, grassy hand every time—His mercies are new every morning.  I don’t know exactly why I think I might not find dew on the ground, but ailments of the human condition such as self-doubt and denial are probably part of it. This point plays out in the story of Gideon found in Judges 6 and 7. God appoints Gideon to lead an army into an ever-treacherous battle against the malicious Midianites.

 

Along with other tribes from the east who had invaded a vulnerable nation in Israel (in part because of their own sins), the Midianites were an oppressive force who had taken up residence in Israel. They killed all the crops along with every “living thing” in Israel. Gideon’s appointment was a divine one; it had to be. Otherwise, we would surely not know of a Gideon from the Old Testament because he would have easily shirked the job to someone else, and that would have made sense.  In an ordinary sense, Gideon was not the right guy for the task at hand. Already in a wary position threshing wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites, the angel of the Lord visited Gideon. Calling him “mighty warrior,” the angel told him “The Lord is with you.”

 

Gideon was immediately skeptical, and based on his estimations, rightfully so. He reminded the Lord his clan was the weakest in his region and to top it off, he was considered the “least” in his family. He asked, “how can I save Israel?” This sort of doubt and denial creeps in all too often in our respective worlds. When we are wondering how we can make a noticeable impact in our world, we forget to consider a God who is always with us and always leading us. We think, “I’m not meant to climb trees but to stay on the ground.” In harder times, we can even resort to questioning our purpose in this world altogether. Although Gideon was a dark horse for leading a force against a much mightier foe, he had God right by his side. God promised Gideon, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

 

Gideon’s faith was shaky. He did not want this to be his “call.” Even so, God took him through a series of instructions to prepare him for battle. Still in denial, Gideon requested one more sign from God. He asked that God soak only his fleece with morning dew and leave everything else around it dry. God obliged this request. Still waffling, Gideon asked for the opposite to happen and God showed His power once again. These signs caused Gideon to surrender his trust to the Lord and lean on His guidance. Not long after, Gideon and his clan defeated the Midianites. So many times in life we question what our position of influence should be (or if we are influential at all). The problem is, we leap at different ideas of that in a horizontal way.

 

Some of those ideas are noble, but all the while we need to think vertically. God wants us to lean on Him. He wants us to draw close to Him when we are on the ropes. He already knows just how to position us and wants to stay with us through it all. His plans involve using us to produce results in people and for Him. What might all this look like from the front lines? For some of us, God might be pushing us to follow Him deeper in the work we do. Others of us might find that God is priming us to influence others in that place that is “right under your nose.” It might even be that simply our ability to listen and be available makes a massive impact. It could take a little time, but nobody discerns time better than God.

 

We might be unsure of a “calling” or gift to be leveraged for service. However, God makes no mistakes. After all, we are made to worship Him and serve those around us, so that others can see His image through our actions and words. We encounter self-doubt because we are human. He has new mercies for us every morning though. He is at work leading us so that we might lead for the underlying purpose that is making Christ’s love known. If we align ourselves vertically by listening to Him and leaning on Him, our sphere of influence becomes abounding and unquestionably productive. What are you already doing that God could be calling you to lead with greater influence? How can you use what’s been given to you (time, gifts, talents, resources, etc.) to bless and serve someone else?

 

This my Prayer: Father God, I do thank you for Your continual support. Lord You are good and Your mercies are new every morning. Help me to trust in that, so that I might fully trust in You to shape how I influence others. Jesus remind me of my ultimate purpose which lies in worshipping You and serving others through You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

How has your image of God as your Heavenly Father been shaped over the years?


Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:9-11

 

God is our loving father. Are you unsure what to do with it? Does it make you uneasy? Do you hesitate to believe it is true? Is it hard for you to associate the act of love with your picture of a father? The picture you hold of God as your Heavenly Father has been shaped by many different influences. However, the greatest influence is the relationship you had (or didn’t have) with your father.

 

Maybe your dad was cold and distant. This makes you feel as though you were an inconvenience to him. Perhaps your dad was never in the picture so you are going off assumptions you’ve developed regarding the role of a father. Your picture of a father may be one who is either indifferent or walks away when things get difficult. Maybe your dad was physically present but emotionally distant. This caused you to rebel or pushed you to perform in order to achieve his attention or affection.  On the other hand, maybe your dad was your best friend, biggest supporter, and your greatest encourager. His door was always open and his ear was always available. He wasn’t perfect but owned up to his mistakes.

 

As a child, you watched how your dad treated your mom, how he responded to life and how he interacted with you. Many boys want to be just like their dad while some want to be the complete opposite of him. The same holds true for the girls. They either want to marry a man who exhibits the qualities of their dad or find someone drastically different with whom to spend the rest of their life. Our picture of God is greatly shaped by the example of our earthly fathers, either for good or for bad. This should come as no surprise. But, we must pause and consider the image we hold of God being our Heavenly Father. Is it one shaped by our earthly examples or one grounded in the truths found in Scripture? Scripture is clear we are image bearers. This sounds good, but you might be wondering what that even means.

 

Here is one way to think of it. Has anyone ever said that you look like your father? Maybe they pointed out a physical resemblance like your hair, eyes, or smile. There is no escaping it. You share the same DNA. As you grew older, the similarities between your father and you might have come out through your personality, interests, or temperament. “Like father, like son” is how the old saying goes.  God created us to imitate and reflect His character. Our job is to reflect this image in every aspect of our lives. It should influence the way we view work, lead our families, and pursue our relationships. It must redefine our perception of success, influence, and purpose. It should rearrange our priorities and pursuits.

 

Being an image bearer should alter the things that make us angry, the things that capture our attention, and the things we devote our time and energy toward. If you never met your biological father, it would be impossible to know how to reflect his image. The same holds true with our responsibility as an image bearer of God. To reflect God’s heart you must know God’s heart. Everything hinges on our understanding of the character of God as well as our new identity in Christ. We have to know Him in order to know the image we should be bearing.

 

As an individual pursues God, he begins to live out who he’s supposed to be, namely an image bearer. The changes that take place in our character are not a matter of pure self-will, but rather a by-product of walking with God.  How has your image of God as your Heavenly Father been shaped over the years?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for being my loving father. Lord may I look to You as my example of how I should love others.  Jesus help me to take the responsibility of being an image bearer seriously. Let my words and my actions reflect Your heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 4, 2017, 5:00 AM

A taste of God makes us want another taste of God and another taste, until our sin becomes less and less appetizing.  


Wake up from your drunken stupor and do what is right and do not go on sinning. 1 Corinthians 15:34

I once had a man tell me he was mad at God. Mad because he thought God had promised him healing from an alcohol addiction and since God had promised healing, surely that meant he could drink a beer. Or two. Heck, why not three? This man was entitled. He thought freedom in Christ meant he could indulge in his favorite sin, and there would be no  consequences. Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way. He fell back into his addiction. So, he felt that God lies or was the lie. I responded: Jesus healed the blind man. But that didn’t mean the blind man could go around poking shards of glass in his eyes, thinking his sight was going to stay okey dokey. Also, while Jesus didn’t condemn the adulterous woman, neither did He mince words when He told her, “Go and sin no more.”

 

Jesus heals, no doubt. We are saved by grace. We are free. But the freedom that Christ gives us through His death and resurrection isn’t an allowance to sin. If we feel this way, we need to examine our hearts. Followers of Christ should have disgust for their sin. Simply put, if we love God, our sin should become more and more unpalatable. Because our sin is like, well, vomit. Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit, is a fool who repeats his folly.”  Our sin and our desire for God are incompatible. We will gravitate towards one or the other. As soon as there’s a temptation to sin, we need to go to God and consciously choose Him. We must choose to surrender. To go and sin no more is a purposeful act.

 

We surrender to God when we pray, read Scripture, seek community, serve others, love others, and honor our God-given priorities and responsibilities. We choose God when we love Him in these tangible ways instead of indulging in sin. But when sin becomes a controlling desire, we are like the dog in Proverbs. We succumb to a sin pattern. In other words, we return to our vomit. And once we’re done, there’s regret and shame. And then there are consequences, because there are always consequences. But there’s hope and grace too, because we can go to God with our mess. Romans 2:4 says that God’s kindness leads to our repentance. Not our regret, our shame, or our consequences, but ultimately, it’s His kindness that draws us to Him. We are His. His work on the cross rinses the bad taste from our mouths. And once our mouths are clean and minty fresh, we crave more of this refreshing taste of God.

 

I think of it like this. Right after I brush my teeth, or have a cleaning at the dentist, the last thing I want to do is chow down on a bag of chips and onion dip. I don’t want anything to interfere with the work that had just been completed. If anything, I want to keep up the good work, like go floss or rinse with mouthwash. It’s the wonderful power of the gospel. A taste of God makes us want another taste of God and another taste, until our sin becomes less and less appetizing.   We come to know and live the truth that satisfaction is found only in Christ. This is freedom. 

 

This is my Prayer:  Father God, thank You for the grace and freedom You give me. Lord I know I can never do anything to earn it, ever. It is mine because I belong to You. Jesus help me to become more and more satisfied in You. I want to live my life for You, truly free and wholly content. Help me to love You, Your word, and Your ways. Help me to express Your love to 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 76-80 of 283