Devotions
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September 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

Inheriting the Kingdom of God is not about access, but stewardship



For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Romans 14:17-18

 

Just like obedience fueled by obligation never leads to joy and freedom, neither does rule following provide access to God. Many of us live our lives as if the Kingdom of God is a place we win a ticket to based on our behavior and adherence to the rules. If we act well enough, behave properly and obey all the rules deemed worthy on our checklist, then, and only then, will God accept us and allow us in. Yet, this isn’t why the commands were given. The rules weren’t created to make us right, but to expose our need for a Savior. We couldn’t do it on our own. We were incapable of reaching God’s impossible standard of holiness.

 

Jesus died on a cross to reconcile us to God so that our life lived in obedience would serve as an expression of God’s faithfulness. Righteousness is not about our behavior; it’s about being right with God. Due to being reconciled with God, we are able to trust His authority. When we recognize this point, we approach God differently. Faith is acting on our trust. We submit to His authority because we know that is where life is found. We have the courage to examine our motives and realize that being transparent about its current state is the first step in our transformation.  If we look underneath our actions we find who or what we trust. What we do and what we say proclaims to others our view of God and His authority in our life.

 

Inheriting the Kingdom of God is not about access, but stewardship. We must become stewards of the Kingdom of God and express that to the world around us. Every action is an expression of something. We want our hearts to be so captured by God’s love that His ways come out in or action. Our job isn’t to obey the rules, but to be an expression of His Kingdom in the world. Every action is an expression of something. If this is true, what are your actions over the past few weeks expressing?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may my life serve as an expression of faith and trust. Lord give me the courage to look at what drives my actions and my words. Jesus help me to submit my ways to Your own. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

Regardless of what people might say, to forgive is not to forget.



No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:34

 

Regardless of what people might say, to forgive is not to forget.  There is no magic in forgiveness where the moment it is accepted that the memories of hurt are instantly erased from the hard drive of our memory and our deep wounds suddenly disappear. But, what do we do with passages like Jeremiah 31:34? If God forgets our sins when He forgives us, shouldn’t we do the same to those that hurt us? The word “remember” in Jeremiah 31 is not dealing with a memory issue, but rather a promise.God doesn’t suffer from amnesia. He made a covenant not to treat us as our sin deserves. Jesus took the cost of our sins on His shoulders when He was nailed to a cross in order to fulfill that covenant.

 

Debunking this idea that forgiveness is forgetting helps one to better see forgiveness as an event and process. When we show grace to someone it is an ‘event’ as words are expressed in “I forgive you.” There was a time and place when the original act of forgiveness occurred. Yet, every time their hurtful words or actions get brought back to our attention we must continue to forgive and not give in to any desires for revenge or anger. This touches upon the ‘process’ of forgiveness. Failure to see forgiveness through the lens of being both an event and process will cause considerable frustration, disappointment, and guilt for an individual. A chain reaction will be set off where they try even harder, using sure will power, to erase whatever sin they’ve forgiven from their memory completely.

 

Flipping the off switch on a hot oven doesn’t instantly turn it back to room temperature. Stand anywhere near the oven you can feel the heat radiating. However, over time the warmth of the oven lessens. The same is true with forgiveness. It does not eradicate the hurt, lack of trust or anger you hold towards the person you have forgiven. By forgiving someone, you are absorbing the cost of their offense against you. This transaction comes with some requirements on your part. By counting the sin no more, you are also committing to uphold three promises to the individual whom you have forgiven.

 

These promises are: “I will not bring up this offense again or use it against you.” How easy would it be for us to keep the guilt of their sin in our arsenal for a fight in the future. We very well could use it time and time again as our trump card in an argument: ‘remember the time when you…’ This does not mean it cannot be talked about again. Instead the promise you are making is not to bring the sin up anytime you are angry or bitter as a way of getting back at an individual.  

“I will not bring it up to others in gossip or bad mouth you in front of others.” Depending on the gravity of the sin, appropriate care may help you handle an offense against you. This promise deals more with not having loose lips around others. We put a clamp on our mouths and do not play the blame game as we gossip about the person to others.

“I will no longer personally dwell on this offense.” This promise is at much for your benefit as it for anyone else. You no longer replay the sin on videotape that shows the transpired events on a continual loop inside your head. Rather than dwelling on the past, you look to the future and the change God has in store for both you and the individual.

 

One has to trust they have forgiven even if there is some warmth coming from old wounds. This awareness forces you to have consistent motive checks where you ask God to reveal your attitude towards this person. Of the three promises above dealing with forgiveness, which promise do you most often break? Which one do you believe people find the hardest to commit to upholding?

 

This is Prayer: Father God, open my eyes to the places where unforgiveness resides.  Lord help me to trust that true forgiveness has occurred in other areas even when I can feel the sting of old wounds.  Jesus show me how You identify with my pain and comfort me when I am weak. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

How does humility help frame the perspective you have in your relationships?



Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:33

What we do must flow out of who we are. Our significance comes from being identified with Jesus. This perspective keeps us humble and humility gives a proper perspective on impact and influence. In the midst of serving God and others, we are actually freed from our own sense of importance. We are liberated from the burden of maintaining an image, from seeking the approval of others, and from other forms of self-delusion.  Our audience is narrowed to the only-important and all-important audience of one.  We are free to glorify God by reaching out and serving others.

 

Finally, humility is part of God’s design for us.  When we act in humility, we act according to our original design.  There is integrity and integration, harmony and wholeness. It postures us to be teachable by God (Psalm 25:4-6) and to receive His blessings.  When we look through Scripture, we notice those that are humble find God’s favor (Isaiah 66:2), experience His grace (James 4:6) and are exalted by Him (Proverbs 15:33). Humility is for our own good. It keeps us grounded in reality by preventing us from operating out of distorted and exaggerated opinions of ourselves.  Cultivating humility comes from seeing God as God and who we are in relationship to Him. It’s realizing the grace and blessing we have received by being called and adopted as His children.

 

When humility paves the way for us to be glorified, we become a stripped-down, cleansed vessel, ready to bear God’s image and have His glory shine through us.  God can then exalt us because it will be Him who is seen in our actions and words.  Any place you are trusted or given influence should be seen as God’s exaltation in your life and an arena where you can honor Him.  It is to our Father’s glory that we bear much fruit. We are exalted when our faith meets with God’s faithfulness. Being exalted is never about one’s efforts, but rather about faith. Faith pleases God and to please Him should be our aim in all things. This takes place through a bended knee – a posture of humility and submission that abandons my will to His. In what relationships are you currently struggling with humility? How does humility help frame the perspective you have in your relationships?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I’m humbled that You are willing to use me to make Your name known. Lord help me to exalt Your name through the way I go about my day today. Jesus may I use the time I’ve been given to glorify You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 23, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you know about God or do you know God?



Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

 

The issue of trust plays a critical role in one’s walk with God. Trusting in our forgiveness frees us to live confidently, while doubt forces us to chase good works to ensure our salvation. The confidence we find in Christ and the trust we have in His character allows us the freedom to live transparently before others. Knowing God’s character enables us to better trust Him and increases our faith. If we are to live as examples of Christ, we must know His heart intimately. The words trust, faith and belief are all dependant on one another. It’s nearly impossible to define one of these words without using the other two. You simply can’t do it without robbing them of their meaning. When you study the Bible, you will find that trust, faith and belief share the same Greek root word.

 

If this is the case, in order to trust God more and deepen our faith in Him, we must know His heart. There are several ways to grow in intimacy with God. In the book of Philippians, Paul’s prayer for the church was that they would desire to learn more about God. He sees this taking place through the sharing of common experiences with people inside of community, as well as consistent quiet time with God. When Paul speaks of wanting to know Christ in Philippians 3:10, the Greek word he uses means “to know by experience.”  When we begin a relationship with Christ, those areas in which we struggled with trusting Him do not instantly go away. We bring baggage into this relationship, reasons why we can’t trust and fear that if we do trust we will only be let down. 

 

It is by getting to know God and understanding His heart that we can begin to let go of the things that hold us back from trusting fully in Him. Unfortunately, there are some who never experience this level of trust because they hesitate in pursuing go deep with God. When we don’t experience this level of depth in our relationship with God, this vacuum doesn’t remain empty. We try to fill this void with everything and anything. Even though it was shaped for God, it continues to suck things into its center until something finally fits.  It remains empty but is always pulling. We try to mask this intimacy void by creating an “appearance” of depth. Whether it be using spiritual language, displaying our knowledge of Scripture or our right habits or beliefs, all of these actions are driven by our pursuit of religious credibility. We are experts in keeping up a spiritual image among others.

 

This appearance has become such a part of church culture that this image is how many would describe a person who has a deep, abiding walk with God. The activities you participate in and the rules that you keep quickly define your relationship with God. Pursuing religious credibility is a cheap substitute for a deep relationship with God, but it is incredibly easy for one to fall into this mindset. What we need to understand is that knowing about God is not the same as knowing God. We cannot mistake trivia for depth. Knowledge without application is deception. Depth is not revealed in our knowledge alone, but rather our response to that knowledge. Our response reveals our faith. Do you know about God or do you know God?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I don’t want just knowledge of You.  Lord I want to know Your heart. I desire a type of depth in my relationship with You that would cause a change in my character and heart. Jesus I yearn to learn more about You in order to better trust and obey You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




September 22, 2017, 5:00 AM

What is the connection between truth and trust?



To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

In our age of “fake news,” we’ve become increasingly more distrustful of information. We wonder if there is truly a reliable source out there. With trust eroding, we question people’s agenda and the information they are telling us. This hesitation extends to God. But, doubting our Creator is nothing new. It’s been happening since Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden and told not to eat of the tree that contained the knowledge of good and evil. They had everything their hearts desired. They experience unhindered connection and communion with God. They were given a garden full of trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food (Genesis 2:9). Yet, even with all this freedom, they were willing to give it all up for the opportunity be like God.

 

The enemy told a tale that God didn’t want Adam and Eve to be like Him and, because of that, He was willfully withholding knowledge (Genesis 3:5). This was the accusation. The enticing appeal was the concept that knowledge is power. It would make them, and us, feel a sense of superiority and control. The more we know the less we will have to entrust ourselves to another. Information overload occurred the moment the first bite of the apple took place. The enemy knew that if he gave humans enough information they couldn’t handle it and would destroy each other with it. And, we fell for it hook, line and sinker. We now find ourselves locked into a cycle that says if we just know more and understand more, then we will finally be free.

 

We think information will bring us peace because it buttresses our perspective and supports what we can see. This only creates a vicious cycle leading to nowhere. Why? Because one can’t give or get enough information to build a relationship. When knowledge replaces trust, we will never get to love. The truth is more than facts and information. It is a force that demands submission. Knowing as we ought isn’t a matter of mere facts. It’s a matter of trust.  We can’t allow our emotions, our circumstances or our limited perspective cloud our judgement. To authentically pursue truth, we must hold out the possibility that we might be wrong. This admission is impossible if we display a scoffer’s heart.

 

Scoffing is where skepticism meets arrogance. A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, or doesn’t seek wisdom at all because they believe they are the smartest person in the room. Knowledge has the power to lead one to arrogance. Humility is required when we pursue truth. Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Wisdom begins with God’s perspective. When you hear the word “truth” what comes to mind? How would you define truth? Who gets to determine was is true? What is the connection between truth and trust? What role does our emotions play when we encounter truth?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, rather than trying to know all and understanding everything before I move, Lord help me to have the courage to trust and walk in faith. Jesus allow my focus and intention to be pursuing You and letting that encounter shape everything about me, both my actions and my words. 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 61-65 of 286