Devotions
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August 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

We need to continually be reminded of the message we have been entrusted with as believers.



John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:4-6

We need to continually be reminded of the message we have been entrusted with as believers. It’s a tale of restoration. It involves hope for the hopeless and freedom from the endless cycles of futility. It is the fulfillment of all of our longings. For those who feel worthless, unlovable and ugly, it says quite the opposite. It tells them they are valued and cared for beyond their wildest imagination.  In the midst of humanity’s mess, the beauty of the cross shines brighter. God didn’t wait till we had our act together before extending a hand. Instead, He demonstrated His great love for us by sending His Son.

 

Jesus bridged the gap. He righted every wrong. He defeated death. He had victory over sin, assuring us that in the end, love wins. This is the gift we’ve been given. And by accepting this gift we are guaranteed a place in His kingdom. But, it doesn’t stop there. We are given a whole new identity. No longer are we defined by our past, our shortcomings, or how others might label us. If you’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice, today when you woke up and looked in the mirror a priest was staring back at you. Although I would venture to say that’s not what you think you saw.

 

From your critical viewpoint, all your eyes focused on was what a mess you were, a person who fails, who stumbles, and who wrestles with doubt. God, on the other hand, sees something completely different. Ephesians 2:10 says we are “God’s workmanship” while 1 Peter 2:9 describes us as a “royal priesthood.” In the Old Testament, priests wore a special turban with a gold medallion fastened to it. A special saying was engraved on the plate: “HOLY TO THE LORD” (Exodus 39:30). Holy simply means to be set apart of separate. You are set apart for God, not because of what you’ve done, but solely due to what God did on your behalf.

 

As a result, your life is no longer your own. You have been given the task of displaying God’s love to others. Serving others is what should define our days. This is why we as a church community should be tuning our ears to what the Holy Spirit might be saying to us individually and corporately. We want to stay in step with the Spirit’s leading and steward the message of hope well. Because we are free, we point others towards the way of freedom. In this passage, the apostle John refers to us as priests. Do you find it challenging to see yourself in this way?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I don’t want to lose sight of the incredible freedom I’ve been given. Lord this is the message I want to proclaim. Jesus since I’ve been extended grace, may grace and love fuel my steps and interactions with others. May I live a life defined by Your holiness. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

We need to continually be reminded of the message we have been entrusted with as believers.



John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:4-6

We need to continually be reminded of the message we have been entrusted with as believers. It’s a tale of restoration. It involves hope for the hopeless and freedom from the endless cycles of futility. It is the fulfillment of all of our longings. For those who feel worthless, unlovable and ugly, it says quite the opposite. It tells them they are valued and cared for beyond their wildest imagination.  In the midst of humanity’s mess, the beauty of the cross shines brighter. God didn’t wait till we had our act together before extending a hand. Instead, He demonstrated His great love for us by sending His Son.

 

Jesus bridged the gap. He righted every wrong. He defeated death. He had victory over sin, assuring us that in the end, love wins. This is the gift we’ve been given. And by accepting this gift we are guaranteed a place in His kingdom. But, it doesn’t stop there. We are given a whole new identity. No longer are we defined by our past, our shortcomings, or how others might label us. If you’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice, today when you woke up and looked in the mirror a priest was staring back at you. Although I would venture to say that’s not what you think you saw.

 

From your critical viewpoint, all your eyes focused on was what a mess you were, a person who fails, who stumbles, and who wrestles with doubt. God, on the other hand, sees something completely different. Ephesians 2:10 says we are “God’s workmanship” while 1 Peter 2:9 describes us as a “royal priesthood.” In the Old Testament, priests wore a special turban with a gold medallion fastened to it. A special saying was engraved on the plate: “HOLY TO THE LORD” (Exodus 39:30). Holy simply means to be set apart of separate. You are set apart for God, not because of what you’ve done, but solely due to what God did on your behalf.

 

As a result, your life is no longer your own. You have been given the task of displaying God’s love to others. Serving others is what should define our days. This is why we as a church community should be tuning our ears to what the Holy Spirit might be saying to us individually and corporately. We want to stay in step with the Spirit’s leading and steward the message of hope well. Because we are free, we point others towards the way of freedom. In this passage, the apostle John refers to us as priests. Do you find it challenging to see yourself in this way?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I don’t want to lose sight of the incredible freedom I’ve been given. Lord this is the message I want to proclaim. Jesus since I’ve been extended grace, may grace and love fuel my steps and interactions with others. May I live a life defined by Your holiness. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

What would your life look like if you oriented it around loving other people?



Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

In a culture littered with dishonesty, hype, and confusion, people are crying out for leadership they can trust. They are looking for people who walk with integrity and embody the message they proclaim. Without trust being present in our relationships, influence and impact are incapable of taking root. When trust has been eroded people hesitate to respond. Instead, the other person calculates the walls to erect and the boundaries to set out in terms of connection. People long to trust, but, living in a broken world, their default is to hesitate and withhold. They silently wonder the other person’s motives and whether they practice what they preach. They halt in their tracks, unwilling to follow someone they don’t trust. Distance and disconnection define the relationship.

 

With this being the case, there has never been a bigger opportunity to make an impact in this world and fill the void of humble, selfless, and outward focused leadership. We leverage the influence we’ve been given by serving others rather than trying to make a name for ourselves. We consider those around us before ourselves. We pay attention to the needs that present themselves and respond with love. Love is simply looking out for the good of another. We do this not to please others or for them to think well of us. Our motives aren’t for applause, power, recognition or fame. What drives our words and actions is that people would see Christ in us and be drawn to the love of their Savior. Everything we do needs to bring His image to bear on the world around us. Our lives should look like Jesus who laid His life down so we could experience a full life and never feel the sting of death.

 

The only way this is possible is abiding in Christ and staying connected to Him. His love fuels our love for every person that crosses our path. Knowing we are loved completely by Him enables us to not seek the love and approval from another person. This allows us to love and serve others without condition. The ability to love others is not complicated. It doesn’t require education or training. Love doesn’t care about the size of our platform or how many social media followers we have. It’s not reserved for some elite few. Everyone has the power to love and serve others. Often, we get so caught up in our purpose and calling as believers. We obsess over it. We long for clarity and when it supposedly doesn’t come we don’t move and we become disheartened.

 

In essence, we become paralyzed by purpose. But, here’s the thing: we don’t find our purpose by obsessing about it, but by orienting our life around other people. The excuses for why we don’t use our influence has to stop. At some point, our lack of leadership becomes bad stewardship. Everyday leadership begins today. Don’t get bogged down by what you should’ve done in the past, focus on what you can do today to make a difference.  How do you suffer from destination thinking when it comes to your leadership capacity? Are you paralyzed by your purpose? What would your life look like if you oriented it around loving other people?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may I live a life of integrity and purpose. Lord the calling You have placed on my shoulders is simply to pursue Your heart while loving and serving others. Jesus help me to  lead in such a way that people see You in everything I do. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

How are you setting the tone for critical conversations to occur or be avoided?



Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

At the college I attended, every freshman was required to take a speech class. When I first heard the news, I was a bit apprehensive because I didn’t do well with crowds and I especially speaking in front of them. The news got worse.  My professor informed me that he would be videotaping our speeches and sitting down with us afterwards to dissect them. Knowing all eyes were going to be on me, I buckled down and practiced non-stop. I rehearsed any chance I got, practicing in front of the mirror and even in the stairwell of the dorm.  When the day finally arrived, I felt like I was prepared and ready. I stood behind the podium, took a deep breath and just went for it.

 

The next 3-5 minutes were a complete blur, but I didn’t pass out and everyone clapped after I was done and, because of that, I felt like I did an awesome job.  However, the replay told a different story. I looked on in horror as I watched myself fidget with my papers, my feet nervously tapping against the floor, and my eyes looking like a deer in headlights. I lost track of how many times I used the words “um,” “you know” and “stuff like that.” My professor gently said there was ‘room for improvement.’ That day in speech class I got a firsthand look of what it was like to be on the other side of me. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pretty picture. 

 

Pause for a moment and ask yourself: what’s it like to be on the other side of you? When someone approaches you today, what will they encounter? How are you setting the tone for these conversations to occur or be avoided? If something doesn’t go your way at work, what will your response be and how will others receive it? When your kids don’t listen or decide to act up will you act out in anger? Will you be more concerned with their actions or their heart? When people follow you, where do they end up? 

 

Let’s take it a step further and not just think about today. How would people describe you? Do you tend to be judgmental? Do you make people feel less than? Does your demeanor give off the impression of being closed off? Are you quick to speak but slow to listen? Are others scared to tell you bad news because they know you’ll worry yourself sick? Just like with my speech, sometimes our perception of things isn’t reality. Sometimes we just don’t know how we come across. It’s not that we want to be a difficult person. No one desires that label. We all have our blind spots. We also tend to give ourselves grace with our weaknesses and shortcomings while expecting others to be perfect. We embrace grace for ourselves but pronounce judgment on all the difficult people who cross our path.

 

So how do we come face-to-face with how we really are? First it begins by asking God to search our heart. This can be a scary venture. Scripture has the ability to reveal where we are resistant to faith as well as exposing our heart. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  Tucked away in that verse is a promise. Scripture can change us. It can make us competent and equipped for every good work. Christ’s heart can become our own.  But, we don’t just stop there. We surround ourselves with others who can spur us on towards growth. We must be known by others and give them access to speak into our lives.

 

Every one of us needs a few people to tell us the truth about our heart, point out our weaknesses, and check our blind spots. As difficult as it might be to hear, you need to ask a few close friends and family members – what is like to be on the other side of me?  Today take a moment to look in the mirror. You might not like what you see at first, but it is the beginning point towards change. Only through vulnerability and transparency can true heart change occur and those critical conversations take place. How are you setting the tone for critical conversations to occur or be avoided? What are you doing with the influence you’ve been given?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to ponder today what it’s like to be on the other side of me. Lord I desire for my words and actions to serve as a reflection of Your heart. May Your Spirit speak into those parts of me that have rough edges. Jesus soften them with Your love so that I can be transformed to bring You glory. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 23, 2017, 5:00 AM

God asks for confession so that we may release our sins to Him. 



Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

For the first time in history, we are living in a world saturated with technology edited and filtered to perfection.  Social media can be fun, but it can also be dangerous.  With each photo on Instagram or status update on Facebook, we are creating an image of how we want the world to see us.  Naturally we want to show our “best selves” to the world.  But the truth is that if we exposed what is behind the filtered photograph, we may see a very different picture.  Our culture does not place a high value on vulnerability.  We edit and we filter and we often create appearances that cover the truth of who we really are. 

 

Being vulnerable simply means to be exposed.  It is uncovering the truth about who we are and what we are struggling with.  This does not mean airing our dirty laundry on social media or to anyone who will listen, but it does mean trusting God and His faith family enough to be real about our struggles. From an early age we are taught not to be vulnerable.  In fact, our culture often glorifies being the opposite of vulnerable.  We are rewarded when we show strength, not weakness.  Basically, the world wants us to have it all together, hold it all together, and document our amazing ability to keep it all together on social media!  This societal pressure can make us guarded and protective of our real selves.

 

But God asks us to do just the opposite.  He asks us to acknowledge our sin, pour out our hearts to Him, and confess our sins to one another. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16 We can live in secret shame and try to hide our sin from others, or we can do what God asks us to do and be vulnerable.  As we learn to walk with God and trust Him, our vulnerability will increase.  We can be vulnerable precisely because He can be trusted.  The vulnerable acts of acknowledgment and confession are the first steps in moving from shame to healing.  Confession does not necessarily have to be admitting our sins to God or others, but it can also mean talking about something that causes embarrassment or shame. 

 

Sometimes our greatest shame stems from the sin of others. God wants to make us whole.  But unless we are honest about the whole of who we are, He cannot change us.  Jesus did not wait to die on the cross until we had it all together, He died while we were still sinners.  We must believe that He is more powerful than our shame or any consequence that might come from telling our truths. No one likes to feel exposed or weak, but as we risk being vulnerable in the way that God asks us to be, our trust in Him will deepen.   God takes the shadow of our shame and shines a light on it.  As we share our secrets, when we find the bravery to confess to God and to each other, secrets lose their power over us and God reclaims His proper place in our lives.

 

It is scary to risk being vulnerable with others, but God wants to use our vulnerability as an avenue for healing.  Can you think of an area of your life that God may be calling you to confess to someone in His family that you trust?  Our identity is not found in our sin, but in Christ alone.  God asks for confession so that we may release our sins to Him.  Otherwise, we hold onto sin and its load becomes a heavy weight to carry.  What do you need to unload today?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I want You to have the power in my life, not my my secrets.  Lord help me to believe and live like You are more powerful than my secrets.  Increase my bravery to confess where there needs to be confession and to trust where my trust is weak. Jesus thank you for giving me Your family to walk beside me as I confront sin in my life, but most of all, thank you for giving me Yourself.  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 91-95 of 285