Devotions
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April 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you need to change your definition of freedom?



So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-36



Do you need to change your definition of freedom? Isn’t funny how the Pharisees looked straight at Jesus and claimed they’d “never been enslaved to anyone.” Wait a minute if memory serves me right there was 400 years as captives in Egypt. And to be technical about it, at the moment Jesus is talking to them they are under the rule of the Romans. As the saying goes Denial ain't just a river in Egypt! But if we are all honest I bet we could all say that we know the feeling well. What feel you say, the one where we don’t want to admit that our sin, failures, and mistakes have consequences. It’s how I lived most of life. 



As a single person, I was “free” to be a sleep around and be a womanizer, I could drink alcohol without limits, and lie about any of it to get myself out of trouble. As I reflect back on my life now, it becomes crystal clear how all these things I was “free” to do were actually traps. The consequences were undeniable they were leading me toward death. I was a slave to the next lie, drink, and relationship. Have you ever feel trapped by a so-called freedom? G.K. Chesterton once said, “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” God sets limits for our protection, so that we can be free to live for Him and be blessed. “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1



Isn’t it crazy how Satan twists it all around though? He whispers, “Did God really say you should remain pure, exercise self-control over your flesh, tell the truth? C’mon, what kind of fun is that?” So satan’s message of Jesus is that He is the ultimate kill-joy. Is it any wonder that the self centered pleasure seeking culture of today rejects the message of Jesus? But what if we looked at Jesus through what Scripture says about Him instead of the way culture paints Him? What if we compare what He offers to what culture advertises but never seems to follow through on? Maybe we’d discover that Jesus really is the gateway to the freedom we were looking for all along. Are there some so-called freedoms you need to give up? 



This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for detouring my destiny straight into Your marvelous light. Lord help me to remember where I came from so I can continue to live freely in the areas I was a slave. Jesus teach me to be watchful of the enemy trying to lure me into old sins and new. And God, for all who haven’t yet accepted Your Son, steer them toward the truth. Lord lead all of us who are free be lights to the lost. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




April 28, 2017, 5:00 AM

Are you facing a struggle that is pulling you away from God instead of toward Him?



Are you facing a struggle that is pulling you away from God instead of toward Him?  Trials are hard. The battle of addiction destroys families. The loss of a job robs security. The death of a loved one aches the heart.  A broken marriage seems to be the end of life. Distant relationships create a feeling of abandonment and distrust. Poverty creates suffering. Racism breeds hate. War creates disillusionment.

 

These struggles lead us to shake our fists at God.   We lose hope and patience and forget that He is right there beside us in complete control. We become angry with God, turn our backs on Him, and forget to pray. We run away and forget about all of the times that He has led us through valleys.  The thing is that trials while difficult, are a necessary part of life. They are meant to draw us closer to our Creator and provide a way for us to do ministry. Our difficulties, stresses, and moments of struggle are our opportunities for ministry. “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:12-15

 

We need to take steps to get back on track with your relationship with God.  We need to get intimate with God and be honest with ourselves about what He has called us to do and do it.  We have to take every opportunity to serve our savior.  We must realize the errors of our own choices that often land us in these tribulations in the first place. We must realize that even in the midst of struggle that we are His children and He will never leave or forsake us. He has us in the palm of His hand. We must stop fighting Him and instead let Him fight for us. It’s with Him and only Him that the best is yet to come. ”For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

 

This is my Prayer: God I understand that tribulations are not meant to punish me, and I apologize for allowing my will to get in Your way of refining me or doing a work through me.  Jesus teach me to see the trails of my life as opportunities to serve You.   Lord please help me to overcome the struggles that are preventing me from being close to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.




April 27, 2017, 5:00 AM

How can you make an impact where God has you planted? 



“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9

How can you make an impact where God has you planted?  We all search for purpose and meaning in life.  What really is the point of each day and the daily struggles I face? Is this really what God designed me for? It seems like a momentous event when someone finally ‘figures out’ what God wanted them to do with their life.  As if one day, they woke up with the answer from God.  For me, it was not that way.  I wanted to feel like I was living out the God ordained plan for my life daily. If I am honest, I really struggled with knowing if God had really pushed me in the right direction?

 

Our job and purpose as Christians is to share the word of God and the impact that being a follower of Christ has on our everyday lives. We are not all called to be scholars who have the entire Bible memorized.  Sometimes we worry too much that our knowledge of God’s story is going to impede our status as a ‘good’ Christian.  We tend to think that all of us who believe in Jesus should have every character in the Bible, every historical event, and everything of scripture figured out completely.  Here’s a secret, I don’t.    I completely admit that I’m not a perfect person and I certainly have a lot to work on. But as I experience this journey together with God, I find that God gives the opportunity I need to grow in the knowledge I need for myself and for others He brings into my life.

 

What makes me a Christ follower is that I am committed to and excited about learning more. I don’t have to know every detail of the Bible and have every scripture memorized (those aren’t bad things).  All I have to do is be able to explain to the people God brings into my life how following Jesus has impacted my own life and why I choose to live in the truth of the Gospel.  My example of living my life in Christ should spur others to ask questions.  Questions like, why is he like this? And what is all that Jesus stuff really about?

 

What part of your story do you need to share with those around you? My story comes from where God has planted me today, not from where I want to be once I have everything figured out, or when I finally get everything straight.  God wants to use me right where I am and with the skills that I have. He takes me completely out of my comfort zone, and I come alive, energized, and enthusiastic about what God created me for. He created me to love what He called me to do and to use that love to spur others toward knowing Him.

 

How does living a life for Christ set you apart in your city?  How can the example your life provide the inspiration that your friends, family, or coworkers may need to be curious about your faith?  How can you share your enthusiasm for the impact that the Gospel has had on your own life?

 

This is my Prayer: God, thank you for giving me a purpose right where I am.  Lord open my eyes to see those around me.   Jesus when I share my life with them, give me the courage to share my story and the hope I have found in You. God reveal to me the things I need to know in order to bring myself and other closer to You. In Jesus name, Amen.




April 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

We have something that is amazing, it’s an opportunity to have a personal and intimate relationship with the God of the universe and to spend time talking to Him. 



So today we’re gonna wrap up our discussion on prayer.  We have been looking at Jeremiah 33:3” Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”  We talked about this point before, but I want to end on it.  Prayer requires us to listen.  God can’t speak to us if we’re the one doing all the talking.  God give us the invitation to call on Him, the assurance that He will answer us, and the promise of reveal things to us, but if we are not listening to Him we won’t hear the invitation, the answer, or the revelation.  

 

I am convinced that one of the reasons that people never get their prayers answered is because they are never quite enough to listen.  Sometimes His Word doesn’t become clear to us until we are quiet and prayerfully listening.  Sometimes we just need to grab our Bibles, go somewhere quiet and secluded, and seek the Father.  How many times in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do we read about Jesus going off somewhere to seek the Father?  We always find Jesus returning from somewhere or going somewhere away from the crowd to seek His Father’s face.  If Jesus needed to do that, how much more do we.  It’s important for us to shut off everything, and yes I mean everything (including our phones), find a secluded and quiet place for us to get away from all the noise, and seek God’s face.   In that seeking it also requires us to realize that we shouldn’t do all the talking.

 

I can tell you that there are times that I have to do that.  I have to turn everything off and just sit.  There are times where I don’t even say anything.  I just focus all my attention on seeking the face of the Father.  Sometimes, nothing is said at all and it’s just good to be quiet and sit at the feet of my God.  Other times, God might put someone’s on my heart to pray for, a scripture might be speaking to my heart, or He may even just simply remind of how He is at work in my life. Some time He reminds me what good is being accomplished that I can’t see, and how the future will be better even though it seems impossible right now.  Sometime He has things that He’s reveals to me, about me, things that deal with were my heart and mind is at.

 

Prayer is what’s necessary to receive those things in my life.  It’s is a conversation between me and God.  It’s how we get to a place of having a deep, personal, and intimate relationship with Him. Prayer is always available to us. Nothing can keep us from approaching God in prayer except our own choices.  We have something that is amazing, it’s an opportunity to have a personal and intimate relationship with the God of the universe and to spend time talking to Him.  If you’re ready to do that, then you’re ready to pray!

 

This is my Prayer: God thank You for the Invitation to call upon You, the assurance that You will hear me and answer me, and for the revelation into my life.  Lord please continue showing me the hidden things in my heart and life.  Jesus I long to know all that You have to reveal to me.  Lord, help me to faithfully respond to those convictions, comforts, and guidance You give me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




April 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

This is one of the greatest blessings of prayer God will tell us things about ourselves.



You ever met someone that just happened to know everything about everything?  Is that person you?  Well, I’m sorry (no I’m not) to tell you, but there are something that you don’t know.  And a lot of it is about you. “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”  Jeremiah 33:3 This is a promise of personal illumination.  That means that there are things that God is going to reveal to me that He’s not going to reveal to anyone else.  God is going to show me things in my life that are just between Him and me.  God revealed things to Daniel, Moses, Paul, and even John, that He never revealed to anyone else. See, that tells me that there are things He’s going to reveal to me and about me that He’s not going to reveal to anyone else.

 

“I will tell you hidden things”, that tells me there are things that I’m going to be in the dark about until God reveals them to me.  There are certain things that God’s dealing with me about today that He didn’t deal with me on when I first called upon Him as Lord.  Why?  There were things that I hadn’t even realized that I had hidden in my heart.  Attitudes that need to be changed, pride that needs to be broken, unforgiveness that needs to be given, and things that I haven’t been able to let go of or forgive.  Then there’s a whole other side to things that are being revealed to me through my answering His call on my life to be a pastor. 

 

I can tell you that we are never going to reach a place where we have nothing left to learn.    Think about Paul’s declaration, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”.  Philippians 3:8  He counted all that he knew as rubbish and the only thing he desired was to know God on a deeper and more intimate level. 

 

Paul was the Pharisee of the Pharisees’.  He knew the tradition, the rituals, the law, and the ancient scriptures all of them.  I believe Paul was a man of great knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and he admitted that even with all he knew that he hadn’t attained anything.  Paul even prayed that the eyes of our understanding would be opened, and that God would reveal the full array of His love to us.  “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called--his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”  Ephesians 1:18  

 

It was Paul to whom God revealed the mystery of the true gospel to.  God revealed to Paul justification by faith, the ministry of reconciliation, and yet Paul felt that he could’ve known more.  Paul had a lot of things illuminated to him, but he also spent a lot of time in prayer.  He sought a word from God and the presence of God, and as a result he received so much revelation.  So there are many, many things that God is going to want to illuminate and reveal to us in our lives.  Let me say this, the majority of the time God is going to speak to you about you.  This is one of the greatest blessings of prayer God will tell us things about ourselves.  It’s an opportunity for you to get to know the real you, what you were created for, and what your future holds. Prayer is a conversation in which we should expect God to speak directly to us.   What’s God telling you about you? 

 

This is my Prayer: God I come to You today seeking a word from You.  Lord please illuminate my life with Your word.  Lord show me the things I need to change, the things I need to quit, and the things I need to go deeper in,  so that I may grow closer to You.   Jesus help me to focus on hearing You and to apply what I hear.  Lord flood my heart with Your light, so that I can understand the hope I have in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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