Devotionals
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August 20, 2017, 5:00 AM

How does your mind control your actions?


Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13

 

Proverbs 25:28 says that a person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls. Each one of us must have a way of dealing with the world when it doesn’t make sense. This is why resting, renewing our minds and capturing out thoughts is so critical to our spiritual formation and battle over freaking out. Captive thoughts prepare one to see correctly. Scripture spends a great deal of energy focusing on the importance of conquering our mind: setting our mind (Colossians 3:2), renewing our mind (Romans 12:2), submitting our mind (Psalm 26:2), and preparing our mind (1 Peter 1:13). Our thoughts and what controls our mind determine the way in which we experience God.

 

Yet, the importance of capturing our thoughts and renewing our mind are rarely stressed in Christian circles and even more rarely practiced as a spiritual discipline. We let our thoughts run wild in our mind with little to no self-control. This, in turn, causes us to struggle to experience an intimate relationship with Christ and trust in Him when our world is thrown off kilter. We don’t realize their is a battle going on for our heart and mind.  The struggle over our mind is really a struggle over who we are. Beginning to live in the knowledge that we are His beloved will help us in any struggles that we might face in life. In this war we find ourselves in, we must replace all those lies we focus on with the truth of who we are in Christ.

 

What controls our mind often determines our actions. We become what we set our minds on. The first step in renewing our minds is remembering who we are in Christ. It is crucial we align our perspective with what it is true, solid, good and right. Only then will we begin to realize that God is ultimately in control of every situation we face. How does your mind control your actions?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, often when I am freaking out my mind is all over the place. Lord help me to renew and prepare my mind for those moments when I am tempted to worry or overact. Jesus may I see the situation I am facing through a different lens, one that is guided through Your love for me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 19, 2017, 5:00 AM

If you were to wake up tomorrow and all you had was what you were grateful for today, what would that look like?


All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Relationships and faith are two of the bedrock terms of a Christians life. I always find it somewhat amusing to hear a Christian say, “I’m ready for my Father to take me home, I put my faith in Him,” when they are going through a particularly difficult time in their lives. Yet, as soon as a fortunate blessing enters into this struggle, their attitude shifts to more of, “The Lord has rewarded my faith with this blessing and He wants me to stay here and enjoy it!”  While there is an ironic source of amusement in our ability to check in and out of faith as if it were a hotel, I believe that there is a much deeper issue going on here. Where does faith come from? What is the source and who sustains it?

 

If I address any relationship in my life, I can pretty quickly capture how it stands. Is this a person that I would rely on to drop me off at the airport on time? Would I lend them money? Would I leave them alone in my home without worry? Without even realizing it, we have an ongoing relationship checklist that we are constantly engaged with. Over time and experience in this personal interaction, we gain firsthand knowledge of this person and some fruits, both good and bad begin to bear. Issues of trust, character, integrity, and faith, begin to emerge and solidify our more knowledgeable understanding of both the other person involved in this interaction and also the ultimate reward of every relationship that we encounter, a greater understanding of ourselves.

 

It has occurred to me that my faith in God is based on a similar process. The presence of faith in my life can only come from my relationship and knowledge that I gain from my personal interaction with my Savior. I simply cannot rely on self-willed faith or someone else’s understanding and explanation of God. The strength of my faith is born out of how well I truly know my Jesus. It must be first hand and it must be face-to-face. This pursuit is seeking to know our Savior. This is on us, something we can and must do if we are to be truly Godly people.

 

If you truly desire to strengthen your faith in Christ, you simply must get to know Him as you would the closest personal friend you have. By doing so, the fruits of His Spirit will bud in your life in Him and bloom in the relationships that He has blessed you with in this earthly life.  What is your faith based on? Is it fashioned out of your changing fortunes in this world or out of your personal knowledge of God? If you were to wake up tomorrow and all you had was what you were grateful for today, what would that look like?

 

This is my Prayer:  Father God, I want to know You in a way that quiets my intellect and fills my heart with desire for You. Lord I want to welcome You with uncontainable joy and be Yours in this life. Jesus teach me who You made me to be and enable me to recognize Your love, so I seek no other love, as my heart has no more space to give.  In your name Jesus. Amen.




August 18, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you planting the wrong seeds?


Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:7-10

 

The light and the dark. It’s the epic struggle we’ve seen depicted in our stories since the beginning of time. The hero of light struggles against the villain of darkness. We love these stories because they seem to reflect our world. They reflect our own desire that the light will win out over the darkness. But what if the tension between light and dark isn’t just a struggle happening out there? What if it’s one that’s going on in our own hearts? God says that it is. Even crazier He says that we have a role to play in the battle. We get to choose which side we’re going to sow into our lives.

 

Jesus is inviting us to sow the light, and our decision to do so just might make the difference between living life to the fullest and missing out on it. In order to live the full life, we must confront the dark side. Darkness needs isolation in order to thrive. We separate ourselves from not only the life and love of God, but the people He has placed around us as well. Sin loves the darkness. It requires an element of isolation to pursue the lusts that we desire. The reason for this is very simple.  Darkness requires one to forsake wisdom. Instead we take on a posture of hiding, isolation, indifference and even hostility towards the truth. Choosing the dark side pushes us to be defensive and use deceit to justify our behavior. It clouds our judgment and makes us believe we are entitled to the desires we are trying to fulfill.

 

Don’t be deceived. Everyone is vulnerable to the allure of darkness. No one is immune to the dark side. Falling away from God and losing sight of the full life He promises happens through a series of bad choices. Today matters, right now matters, and your next decision matters. What we plant is what we harvest. What we sow today, we reap tomorrow. We have a responsibility for what we plant and this is why we need to consider what we are planting. It is impossible to live life to the fullest when we are making dark side decisions. We mock God by doing one thing and expecting different results. We are foolish if we believe we can plant dark seeds and expect to get light in return.

 

When we are tempted and are struggling, we should press into the truth and pursue wisdom. It’s not enough to simply be available, we must fight for freedom. Sharing the struggle lightens the load. It is in isolation that our unchecked desires run free.  Wisdom brings the necessary boundaries to ensure that the freedom of our souls remains protected. It also provides perspective. One doesn’t get into a mess overnight which means one doesn’t get out of it overnight.  There comes a point when we must stop hiding and pretending. 

 

“Receiving Christ” is not some compartmentalized decision.  It requires coming into the light.  It involves being exposed and vulnerable. This can only occur if we are willing to break the silence and be honest about our sin. The invitation is to bring it to Christ to be exposed and forgiven.  Why? So our lives will serve as an expression of God. Where are you planting the wrong seeds? What different seeds do you need to start planting?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, let me not lose sight of the battle taking place inside me. Lord help me to realize that with every decision I make I can choose to stand freely in the light or isolate myself in the darkness. Jesus I desire to make choices that bring You glory. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 17, 2017, 5:00 AM

Perfect strength is found in dependence on God

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

We all have weaknesses. None of us are immune to struggles. This statement is often received in two vastly different ways. There are those who relate immeasurable more to weakness than strength, some to the point where they define themselves by their weaknesses. This mindset, where all you can see is your faults and shortcomings, leads to despair. On the other side, there are those that define their lives by a lack of weakness. They never want anyone to see a chink in their armor. They run themselves ragged keep up the charade of invincibility. Pride begins to creep in and the ultimate end of pride is also despair.

 

Neither approach is how God calls us to respond to our weaknesses. Falling for the cultural trap of ignoring, covering up or overcompensating for our weaknesses has kept us from experiencing God’s strength in our lives. Weakness is any place in our lives where our strength is not enough. If you feel boxed in, pushed down, held back, beat up or spread thin, you’ve collided with your weakness. Weakness can be spiritual, intellectual, emotional, circumstantial, relational and physical. Even the strongest of us has weaknesses. In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul addresses a few issues taking place in the church of Corinth. Some individuals in leadership positions within the community were bashing Paul and boasting about themselves. Unlike the “weak” Paul, these “Super Apostles” were strong leaders worth following, or at least this is the message they were attempting to sell to others.

 

How does Paul respond to these charges against him? Rather than listing off his accomplishments and making much of himself, Paul speaks about a “thorn in his flesh” a place where Paul’s strength isn’t enough. He doesn’t shy away from his struggles, but admits his weakness. Paul’s “thorn”, his weakness, was difficult to handle and he was desperate for it to be gone. Paul was at the end of himself. He was tired of the struggle, he was out of options, and he was desperate. So Paul pursued God three separate times asking God to do what only God can do, take this place of weakness away. God answers Paul’s prayer but not in the way one would expect. This answer was not what Paul was looking for, it’s not what he wanted, and it’s not what he was asking for. Instead of removing the thorn, God gave Paul grace. He tells Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness.

 

Instead of being bitter and jaded, Paul begins to boast and openly acknowledges his weakness. If the power of Christ would rest upon his weakness, Paul was willing to expose his struggles. He understood that when others saw him being strong in his weakness that Christ would be seen as strong. The same is true for us. God gets the glory when we are willing to let Him be strong in our weakness. Weakness leads us to the point of desperate dependence on God. Without weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities we will be, just like Paul, prone to think we’ve got everything under control and don’t need any help. Without weakness and difficulties we are all prone to become prideful.

 

The grace of God in the midst of our weakness is that we are brought to a point of dependence on His strength. Perfect strength is found in dependence on God. His power is fully realized, fully seen and fully experienced in our weaknesses. God wants to be strong for us in ways that we could never be strong for ourselves. Let’s stop defining our lives by weakness or by a lack of weakness and instead let’s define our lives by dependence. Where do you need to confront and admit your weakness before you can begin to depend on God?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, where I am weak, You are strong. Lord rather than hide from or define myself by my weaknesses, help me to freely admit my struggles. Jesus give me the faith to depend on You for every circumstance that I face. Show Your strength in ways I could never imagine or hope for. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 16, 2017, 5:00 AM

When people follow you, where do they end up?


Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Everybody is leading somebody somewhere. Yet, we rarely stop and consider where people end up when they follow in our footsteps. Contrary to what we might think, leadership isn’t reserved for an elite few or determined by a job title or position. How we see the world, and our part in it, determines our willingness to take action. Leadership isn’t a destination we arrive at, but rather it’s something that gets formed in us in every moment of every day. We all have been given influence and have the power to make a difference in this world. Opportunities to influence are all around us. During the normal course of our day, we must pay attention or we’ll miss them.

 

Understanding the significance of the small things is something we underestimate.   Because they aren’t seen on a big stage we don’t think they carry any weight. But, they do. The small things matter. These “as you go” moments of influence serve as the building blocks of leadership. Big things are just a pile of little things done really well over time. The pile begins to grow when we continually do what we can with what we have where we are. The reality is that God doesn’t need us to do “big things” for Him. He would manage just find on His own. Yet, through His love for us, God graciously invites us to have a role in the bigger story He is telling in this world. We get to play our part in making His name known. By displaying humility, obedience, and faith, we can boldly step into opportunities that are presented to us.

 

We find our calling by leveraging our lives for the benefit of others. The weight of His image is seen in us today while the weight of His image is seen in them tomorrow. This type of investment can’t be done at arm’s length. It’s impossible to lead from a distance. Impact only happens through investment. As we pursue Christ with abandon and try to reflect His character, people encounter the love of God. Everybody is leading somebody somewhere. When people follow you, where do they end up?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to not take the influence I’ve been given lightly. Rather than being focused on making a name for myself, may my words and actions bring glory to Your name. Lord open my eyes to the opportunities to love and serve others that happen as I go about my normal day. Jesus give me the courage and boldness to respond when I see a need. 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 96-100 of 283