Devotions
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November 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

If gratitude measures the condition of one’s heart, how would you describe the current condition of your heart?



So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

 

Looking back, Thanksgiving was more than just food, family, and football. In the midst of the Macy’s Day parade, turkey-induced nap, getting together with loved ones and watching the team we hate the most lose the big game, we had the opportunity to reflect on the many ways we have been blessed.  We paused and gave thanks. The Bible speaks very clearly about this idea of thanksgiving. In Psalm 69:30-31, the author says, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.”

 

Why is our gratitude so valuable to God? Our gratitude is something we possess that God desires. The sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies God more than any effort we can bring to God. Why does it have such great worth in His eyes? Our gratitude magnifies God and is our acknowledgment that God is good in all things. Gratitude is our best attempt to express the truth of God’s goodness.  Even though we will never be able to truly express it, thanksgiving is our human way of magnifying Him and setting Him apart as He is. There is an element of both recognition and expression in our gratitude. A thankful heart shapes and forms us, leading us to express our praise in worship. The purest form of thanksgiving involves valuing God above all else and recognizing His holiness.

 

But, there is another purpose behind our gratitude. Stability, gratitude, and generosity serve as markers to help us measure our spiritual maturity. When things don’t go our way, how do we respond? Do we question God’s goodness? Are we quick to freak out? Do our hearts drift towards entitlement? Or, in the midst of everything, both the good and the bad, is there a humble stability present in our lives? Gratitude measures the condition of our heart and helps us regulate our lives. If gratitude measures the condition of one’s heart, how would you describe the current condition of your heart? What are you thankful for today?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, allow me to praise you in the midst of any situation I face. Lord may my life overflow with gratitude. Jesus help me to realize that You love me and work everything out for my good. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




November 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

Our purpose is a small part of God’s larger purpose for the family!



Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

 

Even though it seems like an oxymoron, we tend to think of the family from a very individualistic mindset. Our attention, focus, and concern are either centered on ourselves or just the individuals who live underneath our roof. We do everything in our power to make sure they are well-mannered, well-fed, well-taught and well-adjusted. Not only does this mindset cause us to potentially elevate our family unit to idol status, it misses the mark of what God intended. The family is much bigger than we realize, which means the redemptive story God is telling is too. The purposes of God in our lives aren’t isolated or independent. They are intended to impact and influence others. Our purpose is a small part of God’s larger purpose for the family that continues toward completion in the generations that come.

 

In essence, each family is given a brick. What we do with this brick is up to us. We can look at our lives and our family story and feel shame, hurt, anger or embarrassment. This might lead us to believe our brick doesn’t matter or that it’s insignificant. When we reflect on our past or our current situation, we can believe the lie that our brick is an odd shape and couldn’t possibly fit. As a result, we take our brick and go home or we shatter it into a million pieces.  But, there is another way. We can look at the brick we are holding in our hands and realize it is critical to the foundation God is building. The truth is we each bring our lives together to become the place where God dwells. Scripture speaks of the church being a family and uses the imagery of a house’s foundation to describe it. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our family story because God accepts us and has the power to redeem all things.

 

When we don’t add our brick to the foundation God is building, someone or some other family isn’t as supported and encouraged as they need to be. What God is redeeming is the relationship between He and His people as we dwell together. He provides us with opportunities to influence, input and contribute to a family much bigger than ourselves.  Every individual and family is given a brick that is part of the house God is building. How would you describe your brick?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, rather than being self-centered, help me to understand family from Your perspective. Lord expand my view of who my family members are. Jesus let me care for those You’ve entrusted me with and see my part as important and valuable to the house You are building. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




November 18, 2017, 5:00 AM

What are some instances in which you have had to learn the difference between trials and consequences?



But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:13-16

 

Difficulties provoke questions. “Am I suffering in a trial, or is my pain a consequence of something I’ve done?” You need to identify the source of a hard thing in your life because your responsibility in the matter depends on the source of your hardship. Jesus’ disciple Peter will help you understand the difference. First Peter 4:14 says, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” If you are suffering as a result of representing Christ, you are experiencing a trial. Realize you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings, and it leads to blessing.

 

Continuing is this warning of consequence: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” Peter has listed classic “choose to sin; choose to suffer” actions. Murderer describes anyone with a hateful action or thought, who disrespects life. Thief can refer to anyone who loses his or her job for stealing time; anyone who loses his or her marriage for stealing selfish interests; anyone who loses his or her friend by stealing too much attention. All of these actions involve taking what belongs to someone else. Evildoer is a general term for describing anyone who participates in sinful activity. Meddler describes anyone who, as one translation puts it, is “prying into other people’s affairs” 1 Peter 4:15. If any of these actions causes hardship for you, you’re suffering a consequence, not a trial.

 

Next, Peter returns to trials: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” In His kindness, God promises that trials will come. These hardships should never cause us to be ashamed, because God receives glory through the way His people respond to suffering. When you are enduring a difficulty, decide whether it is a wake-up call to the reality of bad choices, or it has been allowed by God to train your character for His glory. Again, it’s important to ask God for wisdom in seeing the difference between trials and consequences. Many believers are experiencing very painful consequences to sin in their lives. They may call those consequences trials, but “do not be deceived,” Galatians 6:7 says. “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

 

When you are suffering consequences, repent immediately. Turn around and, don’t walk, run back to God. When you are suffering for Christ, seek His grace to rejoice over your participation in events that will bring glory to God. What are some instances in which you have had to learn the difference between trials and consequences? How have both of those causes for difficulty ended up being lessons for you?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, today I ask You for wisdom to avoid labeling consequences as trials. Lord use Your Word and other people in my life to help me see what I can’t see on my own sins that bring about unpleasant results. Jesus help me to develop a healthy attitude of readiness to repent when I’m made aware of sin. And when You show me that a hardship is simply a trial You have chosen for my life, help me to continually rejoice and rest in You. In Your name Jesus I pray, amen.




November 17, 2017, 5:00 AM

In what ways are you experiencing the sufficient grace of Christ today?



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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

 

When we study Scripture, there are times when a nuance provided by the meaning learned from the Bible’s original languages can rock us to the core. The Greek word order of 2 Corinthians 12:9 provides us with meaning we don’t want to miss: “Sufficient for you is the grace of me.” That is an incredible promise! Essentially the Lord told the apostle Paul, I am the grace. I’m all the grace you need. God does not dispense strength and encouragement like a pharmacist fills a prescription. God never says, Here, take two of these and call Me in the morning. He is the grace. He is the strength. His presence is the power. All we need comes through intimacy with Him.

 

No matter what we face, Jesus is the complete answer. “Sufficient for you is the grace of me.” He doesn’t give what we need and then go somewhere else. He comes to stay. “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Notice that the Lord explains how I’m all the grace you need actually works in our lives: “For my power is made perfect in weakness.” “Perfect” means fulfilled, accomplished, completed, finished. It’s the same term Jesus spoke as His final word on the cross, tetelestai, which means, “It is finished” (John 19:30). God brings His sufficient and powerful grace to the relationship; all we bring is weakness. All of this is grace because we can’t do anything to deserve what He does for us. And He makes sure the results are perfect and complete.

 

God wants His grace to be completed in your weakness. You never really experience the grace unless you see the need for it—and even that realization comes by grace. The power of Jesus' grace is not fully seen until weakness is fully acknowledged. The moment you are overwhelmed with your absolute helplessness is the moment you are ready to hear Jesus say, I’m all the grace you need. Think about the place where you regularly meet with God. Is it a chair in your bedroom? At the kitchen table? Or as one father of five small children confessed, is it in the garage in the backseat of your car? In light of today’s verse ask yourself, How many times have I gotten up from that place and left God’s sufficient grace there? The Lord was there with you holding out to you the grace for the trial you were going to face that day, as your mind was drifting off to your own plan. How many days did you run out to a busy day and leave Him there with His sufficient grace?

 

If you want to live by God’s sufficient grace, you’re not going to catch it falling from the sky as you hurry to your next appointment. You must go to the fountain and drink deeply. He is the One who quenches your thirst. When you read His Word and are thinking about it, His grace is flowing into you. He is also the One who wants to go with you every step of the way. And when a trial threatens to overwhelm you, remember His promise: “Sufficient for you is the grace of me.” The Lord is a faithful friend, sustaining you. He is all the grace you need. In what ways are you experiencing the sufficient grace of Christ today? What could you do tomorrow to drink more deeply of what He is offering you?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, what an amazing thought that Your grace is not separate from You, I can’t experience Your grace without experiencing You. Lord You deliver grace personally, and Your presence in my life is grace. I know that because it’s Your grace, sufficient doesn’t mean “just enough” or “barely enough,” but way more than enough for whatever I face. Jesus help me to rest fully in Your grace as I seek to live for You in the day ahead. In Your name Jesus, amen.




November 16, 2017, 5:00 AM

How would you describe your responses when God brings a matter to your attention?



Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet."  John 4:16-19

 

Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman we only know as the woman at the well. He asked her for a drink and then talked about the living water, which is really Himself. When we pick up the story at verse 16, the conversation is about to turn a corner. Just talking with Jesus turns out to be life-changing. When Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come here,” He was making an unexpected yet significant request. Her answer was a half-truth that He immediately challenged: “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.”  The woman had just asked Him for some of His living water, and His response was to suddenly expand the discussion. Whatever Jesus had to offer wasn’t just for her, it would also affect all her relationships. Which isn't a big surprise, as God is always about the totality of our lives.

 

In essence, Jesus was saying what God says to each of us, Why don’t you drop your guard a little? You just spun the truth by telling me you have no husband at the moment, but I know about all those other men. And I know you and I’m still talking to you. His straight talk with this woman was not hard, but both tender and truthful. No wonder she could think of no other response but “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” Talking with Jesus changed her view of Him and her view of herself. As this episode with the woman at the well illustrates, when we talk to the Lord, we're connecting with the One who knows everything and cuts right to the heart of the matter. He understands us just as intimately today as He knew that woman in Sychar. Isn’t it phenomenal to realize we can drop all of our posing and be who we really are? God knows us yet He loves us, and even in our imperfection and sinfulness, He invites us to trust Him.

 

Jesus can meet you where you are today just as surely as He met that woman. God will speak to you by His Word and Spirit and you can tell Him what’s on your heart. Are you ready to listen? You may not be at a well, but He has living water for you. Your personal issues may be different than this woman's, but your heavenly Father knows them and He has the answers you need.  What aspects of your life has God recently spoken to you about in His Word? How would you describe your responses when God brings a matter to your attention?

 

This is my prayer: Father God, to borrow David’s admission in Psalm 139, You have searched me and known me. You know me so much better than I know myself. You always speak truth into my life, whether I accept it or not. You command, correct, instruct, and guide me, but most of all, You love me as You talk to me. You love me with a love I can spend the rest of time and eternity discovering and will never reach the end. Thank You for speaking into my life, Lord. Jesus please continue that good work in me. 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 58   Entries 16-20 of 286