Devotions
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May 10, 2017, 5:00 AM

How has social media made an impact on your life?



Lately my son has been asking about setting up an Instagram account because, you know, everyone else in eighth grade has been on Instagram since third grade, and he’s the only one (I highly doubt it) that isn’t connected. This issue weighs heavy on my heart. On the one hand, I know it will happen eventually because that’s just the world we live in. On the other hand, I worry about the pressure of keeping up, fitting in, or being “Liked” to fall on my son so soon.

 

We all do this, don’t we? Post a picture and feel better about ourselves with every “Like” we receive. Maybe not, but if we didn’t care even the slightest bit, would we have posted the picture at all?  I’m not trying to bash social media or say that sharing our lives online with friends and family is a bad thing. However, when we receive our worth from the opinions of others that is a sure sign that something isn’t right. After all, who is it we are really trying to please?

 

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

 

We try so hard to be that picture of perfection, don’t we? Rarely do we share an unglued moment on social media. Typically we post our children’s accomplishments rather than their failures; that awesome vacation opposed to the time we could barely make the mortgage; or a happily married couple instead of two broken people.

 

Healing from the brokenness of this mad world doesn’t come through our social status. There will never be enough “likes” to right all the wrong. Neither will it come by trying to convince others that we have it all together.  The lives we watch through social media aren’t perfect; neither is our own. Though there is a Perfecter who says we can come just as we are, in all our imperfections. We don’t have to hide behind pretend smiles. He already knows our pain.

 

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:17-18

 

In my own brokenness, I choose to trust God because He chose to break the body of His own son so that I could be made right with Him. It is in God’s righteousness that I learn to live a whole life and find sanity in this mad world.  How has social media made an impact on your life? Do you find your worth in the opinions of others?  Do you feel pressured to keep up?  If our desire for approval (to be “liked”) was found in God alone, where do you believe freedom would be found?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, You are the only One trustworthy enough to supply the healing this broken world truly needs. Lord help me to trust that, though the road may be narrow, Your way leads to life everlasting.  Jesus I believe that freedom awaits when I let go of my own standards, ideas, and practices and submit to You completely.  In Your name, Amen.




May 9, 2017, 5:00 AM

Salvation is a free gift, but forgiveness is costly!



So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:12-14

 

Salvation is a free gift, but forgiveness is costly. We all have stories of wounds that are still open even after years have passed. The sting hurts more knowing someone close to us caused the pain. Due to their status of being a loved one, we find ourselves in a strange paradox. The desire to forgive is just as strong as the push to withhold our forgiveness.

 

It could be an affair, divorce, abuse, gossip, dishonesty, or hurtful words. Your story might be distinctive, but the struggle to forgive others or to ask for forgiveness on your behalf is not unique.  One would assume that as children of God forgiveness would be a natural action. The reality is that uttering words of forgiveness like “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” and “Yes, I forgive you” are few and far between. What does forgiveness cost the person doing the forgiving?  What does it cost the person who receives the forgiveness?

 

If we do not saturate ourselves in Him, God quickly becomes compartmentalized and over time the influence of His grace on our life is a thing of the past. The way we handle the things life throws our way, including the hurt caused by others, is eerily similar to our pre-Christian days. We live in the flesh by drawing on sheer willpower to muster the strength to forgive others for their wrongdoings. Our lives are no longer centered on grace and living for God, but living under the law and imposing the weight of it on others. What price do we pay when we fail to forgive someone?

 

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Psalm 34:18

 

God is the sole provider for the strength needed to truly forgive others and ask for forgiveness when we have caused pain in a person’s life.  One of the many gifts God gives us is the Holy Spirit, which enables us to express that grace and forgiveness to others. It searches the dark places of our heart and exposes areas where unforgiveness exist.  Accepting the grace behind the cross allows us to recognize the help offered through the Holy Spirit like that of preparing the way for restoration. The only way to overcome the difficulties and cost of forgiveness is by clinging to the compassion God has shown you.

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, there are parts of my story that make me cringe and recoil. Lord I keep telling myself that I’m justified to remain bitter, angry, and resentful as I punish my offender. Jesus help me to realize that by clinging to unforgiveness the only person I am keeping in chains is myself. Lord teach me that forgiveness is the only way to the freedom and restoration I desire.   God help me remain centered on Your grace and mercy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.




May 8, 2017, 5:00 AM

Every day we struggle after one goal, to make ourselves comfortable.



Every day we struggle after one goal, to make ourselves  comfortable. We all pursue being comfortable to some degree. Whether we realize it or not, this desire for comfort can very easily creep into our relationships and the way we engage with others.  We can become so wrapped up in our own world that we do not see the people around us.  But there is an inescapable truth found in Scripture. Jesus lays the gauntlet down in passages like Luke 10:30-35, better known as The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  j 

 

In this passage, Jesus challenges us and defines a purpose for us. We must step out of our comfort zones and engage a broken world. We cannot be bystanders or spectators. We cannot step back and hope someone else will step in. We cannot turn the other direction when we see people in need.  In order to bring hope, we must be willing to cross the street like the Good Samaritan. Instead of seeing relationships with others as an inconvenience, we must see each one as an opportunity to make Christ’s love known through our action and words. Our hearts must break for this lost and hurting world. Our comfortable walk won’t produce this type of burden. Neither will a self-centered life focused solely on our needs. We have a responsibility to impact those around us.

 

This impact requires action on our part. We have to cross the street and redefine close proximity.  If not me, and not you, then who will cross the road to bring the only message of hope to those who are hurting?  Where do you need to cross the street?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I confess that for far too long I’ve been on a quest to protect my comfort zone. Lord I’ve been so wrapped up in thoughts of my own tiny world that I’ve missed out on the brokenness taking place all around me.   Jesus help me to be willing to cross the street, and go to the people You are leading me to.  Lord use me for the glory of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




May 7, 2017, 5:00 AM

Why did John use the word love in his warning to us about the world?



Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Have you ever asked yourself why John used the word love in his warning to us about the world?  John could’ve used any number of other words or expressions, like “chase after” or “lust for.”  The thing is John was talking about a relationship, and the currency of a loving relationship is trust. Before I knew the Lord, I didn’t have anything to put my trust in except myself and worldly thoughts and ideas.  Here was one of my trust paths, going backward from goal to tactics:

I trusted that if I could capture the attention of people around me, I would feel valued and loved.

I trusted that if I were the fun going party guy, I would capture the attention of the people around me.

I trusted that if I drink enough and did things to the extreme, I would be the fun going party guy.

I wound up “in love” with drinking, and this took me down a path of being an alcoholic. In a way, I was “love sick,” in that the thing I focused my affection and attention on is what made me physically, emotionally, and spiritually ill.  God deliver me from that but I know I have to be very careful not to flirt with drinking when things don’t go my way.  I know that if I don’t turn to God, I’ll turn to something lesser to take His place. How about you, in what areas are you “love sick” and misdirecting your affection?

 

So what should we be drawn to when the world confounds us? Where should we get our sufficiency? What or whom should we love? The answer is Jesus Christ, and here’s why. Material things will decay. Circumstances will disappoint. Achievements will leave us empty. And people will let us down.  Only Christ has promised to sustain us until the time comes to join Him in paradise.  Meanwhile, we can read His Word, which is a love story written directly to us. We can choose to not just be hearers of what it says, but doers. Only then can we make a dent in our love problems with this world.  What step do you need to take this week to draw closer to Christ?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for creating a perfect world in the beginning. Jesus when we messed it up with sin, You rushed in with a rescue plan.  Lord help me to always turn to You, no matter what going on in my life.  God teach me to listen to Your voice, and respond to people and situations with grace, always remembering that You are in control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




May 6, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you tend to fill space in your conversations with empty words or sentiments? 



Do you tend to fill space in your conversations with empty words or sentiments?   Usually empty spaces scare us.  We will run from them and we try to give explanations.  Not necessarily a true explanation, but we think that any explanation is better than the scary empty space of a conversation.   We can’t stand to have that awkward silence.   We’re really good at filling the uncomfortable silence with noise, aren’t we? In this millennial age it’s easier to look down, to type into a screen, to retweet someone else’s soundbite then it is to just be. We puff ourselves up by reading the headlines, anything to make those around us believe we’re well informed, invested, and engaged.  Face to face with a colleague or friend, our discomfort turns to idol explanations.

 

Empty space is the place where all significant transformation happens. This place is where we as Christians absolutely hate being, but this is where God is always leading us. You see it is only when we are empty that He can fill us.  The empty space is a threshold place, a no man’s land so to speak and who’s comfortable being there after all?  But why are we so afraid of silence? Why do we turn away when the moment feels uncomfortable?

 

“When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Job 2:12-13 Job’s friends sat with him for seven days and seven nights without saying a word. Now that’s uncomfortable. But they knew that Job’s deep suffering required deep empty space. In order for God to fill the emptiness, there needed to be an awkward silence. There needed to be time to simply wait and entrust. I can only imagine that in their quiet existed a deep sense of togetherness.

 

I think this is what most of us are missing.  When we look down at our phones in order to fill an empty free moment. When we make idol conversation or fill time with fluff.  We break our chance to enter together into no-man’s land, into the uncomfortable void where God works. We miss our chance at real togetherness, and in turn we fail each other. Instead of really hearing each other we exchange headlines and quickly speculated opinions. We respond to our friends or our coworkers or even our kids without matching their expression. We respond but don’t really hear. We exchange words without really connecting.

 

God fills our empty spaces of discomfort when we look up rather than down. When we’re so fixed on our own vantage point, staring at our feet or turning away, we miss the opportunity to have an impact. Imagine if we all did this, if we looked up and actually talked to each other.  If we took the time necessary to understand our differences rather than just simply disagree. If we really stood together in the gap of pain and suffering, maybe real connections would begin to grow in our empty spaces. Maybe, God would be able to use us in even bigger ways.  I think we have to be brave and give it a shot. This life we have is messy and uncomfortable.  Let’s be in it together. Put down your cell phone and keep your eyes up next time you’re sitting with someone.  What you will notice might surprise you!

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, please help me bridge the gap between my discomfort and offering Your heart in a situation.  Jesus be with me in a way that gives me courage to engage in togetherness, in silence, in waiting.  Lord surround me with others who are willing to do the same so that together we might enter into a deeper understanding of friendship and love.  God thank you for giving me the gift of Your love, help me to be a steward of it. In Jesus’ name, 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 191-195 of 286