Devotions
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April 4, 2017, 5:00 AM

Forgiveness is hard isn’t it?



Forgiveness is hard isn’t it, especially when we have the right to be upset?  Think about the story of Esau and Jacob.  Jacob betrayed Esau in a mighty way, he took everything from Esau. And after that betrayal Jacob hit the road.  Then one day Jacob decides to come back and Esau just forgives him. 

 

“Then Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.” Genesis 33:1-4

 

Have you ever wondered what thought processes Esau went through to get to this place of forgiveness?  I try to imagine what would happen in today’s world if something like this happened to anyone of us.  I mean think about how something like what Jacob did to Esau would go in today’s world.  Today’s world is about seeking our own vengeance and payback instead of forgiveness.  I have to be honest with you in the fact that there was a time that had someone ripped me off like that I am certain that I wouldn’t have been so quick to forgive and forget, but God’s done a lot of work in my heart when it comes to this area too.  I’m still learning to forgive without holding any kind of grudge at all.  I can honestly say that I’m getting better at forgiving like God has forgiven me, but sometimes it’s a struggle to not hold on to the hurt.

 

Why do we hold onto hurt? I think it because we don't look at forgiveness correctly. We judge ourselves from a horizontal stance when we should be judging ourselves from a vertical one. You see, we think things like, “I'm not so bad compared to them.” We think our sins aren't as bad as someone else's, but in the eyes of God they are all the same.  I don’t know about anyone else’s life, but when it comes to mine, I know exactly what I’ve done in my life.  Therefore there’s no right or reason for me to ever point a finger at someone else to say that at least I didn’t do what they’ve done, because what God’s forgiven and given me grace for is just as bad.  I needed the grace, mercy, and Blood of Jesus to cleanse me just as much as anyone else.

 

Jesus Christ was the only perfect person and will be the only perfect person ever. When we measure ourselves in light of his standard, we will always fall short. No matter how big or how small we think our sins may be, without a Savior they still separate us from God. You don’t need anyone's participation or permission to forgive them. Forgiving someone is the most self-loving thing you can do, because forgiveness is for you, not the other person.

 

This is my Prayer:  Heavenly Father I don’t want to hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness. Lord if there’s any of that in my life reveal it to me and help me to let it go. Jesus give me a heart like Yours. Help me to get to a place where I extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness as quickly, as easily, and as completely as You do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen




April 3, 2017, 5:00 AM

“If you can’t say nothing good…don’t say nothing at all.” 



Do you tend to be more negative or positive with your words? We live in a world that focuses on the negative. The news we watch on TV is almost always filled with stories about bad stuff.  It’s almost always, the government did this, this person has died, this horrible accident happened, this person was shot, stabbed or arrested, so much negativity.  That’s why my wife doesn’t watch it anymore, because it really affects her heart and mind. And if I’m not careful, I can find myself fretting over things just because someone told me something bad happened. It causes me to worry and steal trouble from tomorrow which totally overloads the troubles that today already has.   Matthew 6:34 “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

Here’s a challenge for you: Try going one day without saying anything negative, rude, sarcastic or hurtful to anyone or about anyone. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:29-30 

 

This one hits me like a ton of bricks, because I am one of those naturally sarcastic and antagonizing people.  So I struggle with God telling me I should only say things that are helpful, that build others up, and that benefit anyone listening.  But that’s exactly what His word says!  When I say sarcastic things at the expense of someone else or cut someone down, it grieves Him.  The word grieves mean to throw into sorrow and sadness.  You see, God wants us all to have a day of redemption, a day where we find complete forgiveness in Jesus, and He uses us a vessel in which to share that message. 

 

Listen, if we don’t treat the people we’re trying to lead to the Lord any differently than the world treats them, why in the world would they want what we claim to have?  It brings God sorrow and sadness when we allow negativity to over shadow the message of His love for others in our life.  The Bible says that the world would know Jesus’ disciples by their LOVE.  “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:35


It’s like my momma used to tell me and she had to tell me a lot, “If you can’t say nothing good…don’t say nothing at all.” 


This is my Prayer: God thank You for challenging my heart. Lord reveal to me the why behind my hurtful, negative words.  Jesus help me to be a more effective and successful representation of Your redemption.  Lord I need You to help me put away this kind of behavior so that I’m not hurting Your message.  God show me how to better reflect You and Your love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.




April 2, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you find yourself continually disappointed?



Do you find yourself continually disappointed?  When things don't go our way, our natural response is disappointment.  All of us to some extent come into a relationship with the Lord thinking that our lives are no longer going to be filled with disappointment.  However, most of us who have walked with the Lord for any length of time come to understand that whether we live for the Lord or not, life is still going to hand us disappointments.  The difference, hopefully, is how we handle these disappointments in life.  Romans 8:28 says that God will cause all things to work together for good, He never says that all things will be good.

 

Feeling disappointment is understandable and even accepted. But, it should be a stepping-stone on our path with Jesus, not the weight that drowns our faith. In our walk with Christ we are all going to come across times where we don’t necessarily feel like God is either there or doing anything in our lives.  However, as Christians we aren’t to live by what we feel, but what we believe.  To be honest, I don’t always feel like I’m saved, sanctified and washed in the blood of Jesus, but the Word of God tells me that once I’ve called upon the name of the Lord to be saved, whether I feel like I am or not, I am saved, sanctified, and washed in the blood of Jesus, and I believe it. 

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

The thing is.  We are to trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him in ALL of our ways, not just in the bad times and not just the good ones, but ALL of them.  That means even in the times of disappointment where it seems like nothing is happening at all and that God is not in control.  I can know that He’s not only in control, but aware of everything that’s going on in my life.  He’s aware of my disappointment over the struggles, shortcomings, and situations I find myself in and He is directing my path.  We still, even as we’re directed by the Lord have to go through some afflictions, trials, tests, persecutions, and yes disappointments.  Those things are just a part of life, but He always there with me.

 

This is my Prayer: God thank You for Your promises and direction.  Lord reveal Your plan for your life and the situations I go through.   Teach me to trust that You’re in control even in time of disappointment.  Jesus show me how to acknowledge and trust You in all of my ways.  Help me to see areas in my life that I need to acknowledge You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.




April 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

Are there any areas of your life where you are still holding onto rejection?  



Are there any areas of your life where you are still holding onto rejection?  Rejection hurts doesn’t it?  I look back on my life and think of all the times I’ve had my heart broken because someone rejected me, and how each time it got a little bit harder to recover from it.  I know after a while I got to the point where I didn’t believe that God was able to repair my broken heart.  He did, but rejection is one of the worst pains in life I’ve ever felt.

 

“And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.  Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.” Acts 1:23-26 These three verses finish off the first chapter of Acts. This is where Jesus ascends in to Heaven and the disciples have to decide who will replace Judas, the disciple who chose to betray Jesus for a few coins. Apparently, the remaining 11 disciples are deciding between two men: Joseph and Matthias. They made their decision and chose Matthias, not Joseph, and that’s the end of it. There is no “and the disciples comforted and encouraged Joseph to continue to pursue the things of Christ” speech after he wasn’t chosen.

 

As I read that passage, I couldn't help but wonder how Joseph must have felt.  Rejection isn't fun for anyone. Even if you know that what you were rejected from isn't what God wants for you. It hurts and it can cause you to doubt who you are and what you're doing. It can cause you to harbor feelings of resentment or bitterness.  At times it even can change how you react to God.  We become incredibly great stone masons who construct walls of brick around our hearts to protect them from pain of further rejection. Has anyone else ever done this other than myself?  I know that I became a master at adding stones to the wall I’d built for decades due to pain, rejection, and the list of reasons to add bricks to my wall goes on and on.

 

However, the longer I walk with the Lord the more He’s helping me to tear down the wall I’ve built. I believe one day that entire wall I’d built to protect me will come down and the only shield of protection I’ll need is Jesus. We just have to surrender all to Him, including our feelings of rejection.  Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world knows all too well how it feels to be rejected. “You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.” 1 Peter 2:4  That’s why we can come to Jesus in our time of need and He is ready, willing and able to help us. 

 

This is my Prayer:  God teach me to turn these areas in my life where still holding onto rejection over to You.  Jesus remove these feeling of resentment and bitterness from my heart and replace them with forgiveness and peace.   Lord help me tear down the walls I’ve built in my life.   In Jesus name, Amen. 




March 31, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you really believe that God absolutely loves you?



Do you really believe that God absolutely loves you? A few years back I was at the Pharmacy picking up a prescription. My kids were there with me while I was waiting, I looked over at them. They weren’t doing anything especially amazing, just sitting there waiting while I waited. Well maybe that is amazing. They were just there with me and in that moment I just realized how much love I had for them. I had to fight back the tears. Really, because no one wants to see a grown man cry in the middle of the CVS Pharmacy!

 

The fact is that our God, the Great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last…loves you just like that, completely and without reservation. We need to stop fixating on some future version of who we think God wants us to be and instead believe that God loves us just for who we are. A life of obedience to Him and being in fellowship with Him throughout the day gives Him joy, but He loves us because that is just who He is. He is love and He loved us enough to sacrifice His only son for us. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 If you are a parent, do you love anyone enough to sacrifice your child for them? Yeah, me neither and I got extras to spare. When I think about the love I have for my own sons and daughters, it’s hard to fathom just how much God loves me.

 

Do you know how much God loves you? I don’t think I really do either, but I am trying hard to understand His love. Paul exhorts us to do that in Ephesians 3:16-18 “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” This scripture means that as our understanding of God’s love for us increases, so will our gratitude and the only reasonable response to Him should be giving Him our complete lives. But, it’s not an easy task, is it?

 

Sometimes we can't help but wonder does God really love me? The scripture tells us that no matter how many mistakes you’ve made, no matter how unworthy you think you are, He does.

 

This is my Prayer: God allow Your love to fall upon me and drench my heart. Jesus reveal to me how much You love me. God help me to understand how You love me. Lord show me how my life can reflect the love You have for me to others. I want to give You my complete life. In Jesus name, Amen.


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