Devotions
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August 27, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where does faith make an appearance in your story?



Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40

When we let comfort and convenience overpower our willingness to step into the unknown, we choose to sit on the sidelines. If our eyes focus solely on whether our tiny, individual kingdom is comfortable, we will miss out on opportunities to be used by God. There is an incredible cost associated with making this decision.  In order to tell a great story with our life, we must choose calling over convenience. The life and meaning we desire is found when we sacrifice for something bigger than ourselves. God’s vision for the person we are becoming has little to do with our peace and pleasure. It gives little regard to our comfort and convenience.

 

There are no epic Bible stories about a man or woman who settled for comfort. The people God utilized were those willing to be inconvenienced and sacrifice their needs and wants for a greater good. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in Hebrews 11.  This passage is often dubbed “The Hall of Faith.” The individuals mentioned were driven by faith and convictions and refused to settle for comfort. They trusted in God’s character as well as His promises.  Imagine for a second if they took the easy route and choose convenience instead. Noah never would have built an ark in the middle of a barren land. Abraham would have missed the opportunity to see God’s promise fulfilled in Isaac. Moses and the Israelites would have never left Egypt or crossed the Red Sea.

 

This list, doesn’t even mentioned those from the New Testament who exhibited incredible faith – people like the apostle Paul, Peter, John and the rest of the disciples. If they settled for security, the early church, along with the life-changing message of the Gospel, would never have dispersed to the ends of world. Yet, they did answer the call and many heard their radical message of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. In the face of fiery opposition, they spoke of God taking on human form, being vulnerable, and willingly dying on a cross to bridge the divide that our sin created. This message has been changing the world ever since. What type of story are you telling with your life? Where does faith make an appearance in your story?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I want to tell a great story with my life. I want my days to count. Lord, I know this won’t occur if I’m consumed with making a name for myself. Help me to live for something bigger than myself. Jesus may Your name be praised through the way I live my life. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

We need to continually be reminded of the message we have been entrusted with as believers.



John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:4-6

We need to continually be reminded of the message we have been entrusted with as believers. It’s a tale of restoration. It involves hope for the hopeless and freedom from the endless cycles of futility. It is the fulfillment of all of our longings. For those who feel worthless, unlovable and ugly, it says quite the opposite. It tells them they are valued and cared for beyond their wildest imagination.  In the midst of humanity’s mess, the beauty of the cross shines brighter. God didn’t wait till we had our act together before extending a hand. Instead, He demonstrated His great love for us by sending His Son.

 

Jesus bridged the gap. He righted every wrong. He defeated death. He had victory over sin, assuring us that in the end, love wins. This is the gift we’ve been given. And by accepting this gift we are guaranteed a place in His kingdom. But, it doesn’t stop there. We are given a whole new identity. No longer are we defined by our past, our shortcomings, or how others might label us. If you’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice, today when you woke up and looked in the mirror a priest was staring back at you. Although I would venture to say that’s not what you think you saw.

 

From your critical viewpoint, all your eyes focused on was what a mess you were, a person who fails, who stumbles, and who wrestles with doubt. God, on the other hand, sees something completely different. Ephesians 2:10 says we are “God’s workmanship” while 1 Peter 2:9 describes us as a “royal priesthood.” In the Old Testament, priests wore a special turban with a gold medallion fastened to it. A special saying was engraved on the plate: “HOLY TO THE LORD” (Exodus 39:30). Holy simply means to be set apart of separate. You are set apart for God, not because of what you’ve done, but solely due to what God did on your behalf.

 

As a result, your life is no longer your own. You have been given the task of displaying God’s love to others. Serving others is what should define our days. This is why we as a church community should be tuning our ears to what the Holy Spirit might be saying to us individually and corporately. We want to stay in step with the Spirit’s leading and steward the message of hope well. Because we are free, we point others towards the way of freedom. In this passage, the apostle John refers to us as priests. Do you find it challenging to see yourself in this way?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I don’t want to lose sight of the incredible freedom I’ve been given. Lord this is the message I want to proclaim. Jesus since I’ve been extended grace, may grace and love fuel my steps and interactions with others. May I live a life defined by Your holiness. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 26, 2017, 5:00 AM

We need to continually be reminded of the message we have been entrusted with as believers.



John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:4-6

We need to continually be reminded of the message we have been entrusted with as believers. It’s a tale of restoration. It involves hope for the hopeless and freedom from the endless cycles of futility. It is the fulfillment of all of our longings. For those who feel worthless, unlovable and ugly, it says quite the opposite. It tells them they are valued and cared for beyond their wildest imagination.  In the midst of humanity’s mess, the beauty of the cross shines brighter. God didn’t wait till we had our act together before extending a hand. Instead, He demonstrated His great love for us by sending His Son.

 

Jesus bridged the gap. He righted every wrong. He defeated death. He had victory over sin, assuring us that in the end, love wins. This is the gift we’ve been given. And by accepting this gift we are guaranteed a place in His kingdom. But, it doesn’t stop there. We are given a whole new identity. No longer are we defined by our past, our shortcomings, or how others might label us. If you’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice, today when you woke up and looked in the mirror a priest was staring back at you. Although I would venture to say that’s not what you think you saw.

 

From your critical viewpoint, all your eyes focused on was what a mess you were, a person who fails, who stumbles, and who wrestles with doubt. God, on the other hand, sees something completely different. Ephesians 2:10 says we are “God’s workmanship” while 1 Peter 2:9 describes us as a “royal priesthood.” In the Old Testament, priests wore a special turban with a gold medallion fastened to it. A special saying was engraved on the plate: “HOLY TO THE LORD” (Exodus 39:30). Holy simply means to be set apart of separate. You are set apart for God, not because of what you’ve done, but solely due to what God did on your behalf.

 

As a result, your life is no longer your own. You have been given the task of displaying God’s love to others. Serving others is what should define our days. This is why we as a church community should be tuning our ears to what the Holy Spirit might be saying to us individually and corporately. We want to stay in step with the Spirit’s leading and steward the message of hope well. Because we are free, we point others towards the way of freedom. In this passage, the apostle John refers to us as priests. Do you find it challenging to see yourself in this way?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, I don’t want to lose sight of the incredible freedom I’ve been given. Lord this is the message I want to proclaim. Jesus since I’ve been extended grace, may grace and love fuel my steps and interactions with others. May I live a life defined by Your holiness. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 25, 2017, 5:00 AM

What would your life look like if you oriented it around loving other people?



Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

In a culture littered with dishonesty, hype, and confusion, people are crying out for leadership they can trust. They are looking for people who walk with integrity and embody the message they proclaim. Without trust being present in our relationships, influence and impact are incapable of taking root. When trust has been eroded people hesitate to respond. Instead, the other person calculates the walls to erect and the boundaries to set out in terms of connection. People long to trust, but, living in a broken world, their default is to hesitate and withhold. They silently wonder the other person’s motives and whether they practice what they preach. They halt in their tracks, unwilling to follow someone they don’t trust. Distance and disconnection define the relationship.

 

With this being the case, there has never been a bigger opportunity to make an impact in this world and fill the void of humble, selfless, and outward focused leadership. We leverage the influence we’ve been given by serving others rather than trying to make a name for ourselves. We consider those around us before ourselves. We pay attention to the needs that present themselves and respond with love. Love is simply looking out for the good of another. We do this not to please others or for them to think well of us. Our motives aren’t for applause, power, recognition or fame. What drives our words and actions is that people would see Christ in us and be drawn to the love of their Savior. Everything we do needs to bring His image to bear on the world around us. Our lives should look like Jesus who laid His life down so we could experience a full life and never feel the sting of death.

 

The only way this is possible is abiding in Christ and staying connected to Him. His love fuels our love for every person that crosses our path. Knowing we are loved completely by Him enables us to not seek the love and approval from another person. This allows us to love and serve others without condition. The ability to love others is not complicated. It doesn’t require education or training. Love doesn’t care about the size of our platform or how many social media followers we have. It’s not reserved for some elite few. Everyone has the power to love and serve others. Often, we get so caught up in our purpose and calling as believers. We obsess over it. We long for clarity and when it supposedly doesn’t come we don’t move and we become disheartened.

 

In essence, we become paralyzed by purpose. But, here’s the thing: we don’t find our purpose by obsessing about it, but by orienting our life around other people. The excuses for why we don’t use our influence has to stop. At some point, our lack of leadership becomes bad stewardship. Everyday leadership begins today. Don’t get bogged down by what you should’ve done in the past, focus on what you can do today to make a difference.  How do you suffer from destination thinking when it comes to your leadership capacity? Are you paralyzed by your purpose? What would your life look like if you oriented it around loving other people?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, may I live a life of integrity and purpose. Lord the calling You have placed on my shoulders is simply to pursue Your heart while loving and serving others. Jesus help me to  lead in such a way that people see You in everything I do. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.




August 24, 2017, 5:00 AM

How are you setting the tone for critical conversations to occur or be avoided?



Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

At the college I attended, every freshman was required to take a speech class. When I first heard the news, I was a bit apprehensive because I didn’t do well with crowds and I especially speaking in front of them. The news got worse.  My professor informed me that he would be videotaping our speeches and sitting down with us afterwards to dissect them. Knowing all eyes were going to be on me, I buckled down and practiced non-stop. I rehearsed any chance I got, practicing in front of the mirror and even in the stairwell of the dorm.  When the day finally arrived, I felt like I was prepared and ready. I stood behind the podium, took a deep breath and just went for it.

 

The next 3-5 minutes were a complete blur, but I didn’t pass out and everyone clapped after I was done and, because of that, I felt like I did an awesome job.  However, the replay told a different story. I looked on in horror as I watched myself fidget with my papers, my feet nervously tapping against the floor, and my eyes looking like a deer in headlights. I lost track of how many times I used the words “um,” “you know” and “stuff like that.” My professor gently said there was ‘room for improvement.’ That day in speech class I got a firsthand look of what it was like to be on the other side of me. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pretty picture. 

 

Pause for a moment and ask yourself: what’s it like to be on the other side of you? When someone approaches you today, what will they encounter? How are you setting the tone for these conversations to occur or be avoided? If something doesn’t go your way at work, what will your response be and how will others receive it? When your kids don’t listen or decide to act up will you act out in anger? Will you be more concerned with their actions or their heart? When people follow you, where do they end up? 

 

Let’s take it a step further and not just think about today. How would people describe you? Do you tend to be judgmental? Do you make people feel less than? Does your demeanor give off the impression of being closed off? Are you quick to speak but slow to listen? Are others scared to tell you bad news because they know you’ll worry yourself sick? Just like with my speech, sometimes our perception of things isn’t reality. Sometimes we just don’t know how we come across. It’s not that we want to be a difficult person. No one desires that label. We all have our blind spots. We also tend to give ourselves grace with our weaknesses and shortcomings while expecting others to be perfect. We embrace grace for ourselves but pronounce judgment on all the difficult people who cross our path.

 

So how do we come face-to-face with how we really are? First it begins by asking God to search our heart. This can be a scary venture. Scripture has the ability to reveal where we are resistant to faith as well as exposing our heart. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  Tucked away in that verse is a promise. Scripture can change us. It can make us competent and equipped for every good work. Christ’s heart can become our own.  But, we don’t just stop there. We surround ourselves with others who can spur us on towards growth. We must be known by others and give them access to speak into our lives.

 

Every one of us needs a few people to tell us the truth about our heart, point out our weaknesses, and check our blind spots. As difficult as it might be to hear, you need to ask a few close friends and family members – what is like to be on the other side of me?  Today take a moment to look in the mirror. You might not like what you see at first, but it is the beginning point towards change. Only through vulnerability and transparency can true heart change occur and those critical conversations take place. How are you setting the tone for critical conversations to occur or be avoided? What are you doing with the influence you’ve been given?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to ponder today what it’s like to be on the other side of me. Lord I desire for my words and actions to serve as a reflection of Your heart. May Your Spirit speak into those parts of me that have rough edges. Jesus soften them with Your love so that I can be transformed to bring You glory. 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 91-95 of 286