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 86-90 of 286
September 1, 2017, 5:00 AM

What unfinished business do you need to work out with God?

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”  (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:15-19


After watching his friend and teacher die on a cross, Peter didn’t know where to turn. So, he returned to his old life and the only thing he ever knew: fishing. Peter was hoping the blowing winds of the sea would silence the guilt, regret, and worthlessness he felt inside. He reasoned his days of being a fisher of men were a thing of the past after denying Jesus three times. Then, Jesus appeared on the scene in a familiar way, to deal with some unfinished business.  As Peter reached the shore, there was probably a mixture of anticipation and awkwardness. None of the disciples, including Peter, knew how to start the conversation or break the ice. After all, it’s not every day that your teacher and friend conquers death.


This probably left them overwhelmed, especially Peter who couldn’t erase the memory of those denials and the sting of hearing that rooster crow. Peter probably reasoned “how could I, a coward, ever be a leader?” This was the unfinished business Jesus came to address. It’s the crucial conversation that needed to take place. Jesus wanted to confront the regret, restore his friend and assure Peter that he is loved. Jesus didn’t shy away from the issue, but created a clear path for the conversation and restoration to take place. This is not only good news for Peter, but it is good news to us. Why? Each one of us has at one time or another turned away. We’ve looked to lesser things to fill our heart. We’ve given our affection to someone else. We’ve sinned. We’ve failed to step out in faith. We’ve been ashamed of our beliefs. We’ve put our light under a bowl. We’ve loved the darkness. We’ve turned our backs. We’ve doubted we matter to God. We’ve given up on the life God has for us.


Jesus doesn’t brush aside Peter’s sin. Instead, he makes Peter confront it. But, Jesus does so in order to bring true repentance. Jesus challenges Peter in a loving way. Romans 2:4 says that it’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance. Only when someone is broken over his or her sin can God begin the process of restoration. This is a pivotal moment in Peter’s life. Confronting his regret through the lens of Christ’s love transformed Peter. Doing the same can have a profound impact on your life as well. Just like the song How He Loves says we don’t have the time to maintain our regrets when we think about the way He loves us. What would it look like for God’s love to erase your regrets? What unfinished business do you need to work out with God? What crucial conversations need to take place?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank You for loving me in spite of myself. Thank You for loving me during those times I run, deny, doubt and sin. Lord remind me of this love when I find myself maintaining my regrets. Jesus allow me to confront my regrets through the lens of Your love and may that transform my character and heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 31, 2017, 5:00 AM

What mistakes are you chained to?

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8


At one time I was [fill in the blank]. When I ran that statement through my mind, my brain was fast to fill in the blank. I mentally responded back to Paul who is writing to Titus, “yes I was foolish to others and yes I was disobedient to my parents. Oh, and yes Paul, I was enslaved by wanting to fit into this world, enslaved by alcohol, enslaved by intimate desires.” Boy was I reminded of all the pain I was in and all the shame I felt, though immediately, Paul jumps into verse four to paint the bigger picture. He points out that even though we have one time been a person we are not proud of, we have a kind and loving God seeking to save us where we are. Sounds simple, so why do we make it so complicated?


 It starts when we let our minds believe that we are unreachable to God because of our mistakes. We let our hardships affect our memory of His character. We limit a limitless God and ignore that He generously extends a merciful hand out to us. And, we won’t grab on because we don’t feel righteous enough. What I love most about our God is how faithful He was to us before you and I were even born. He allowed His only Son, worthy and perfect, to be arrested, crucified, die and conquer death three days later so everyone would have hope of eternal life. We have this hope because God freely gives us a choice to be in a relationship with His Son.


Paul eloquently explains that it is through a relationship with Jesus Christ that we can feel renewed again to move forward. Christ comes alongside of us to look at the pain we are chained to, not to judge, but to say, “I’ve suffered and wept from pain too. Here, let me take it all and wash you off.” He pours out the Holy Spirit on us to help us take a breath of fresh air and to see Him who has a better way planned for our lives. Through the Holy Spirit we are comforted and strengthened to turn from the past and run forward. Hebrews 6:18-20 says, “We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.”


Christ is our forerunner. Let that soak in a bit. As we run forward we may not have an easy linear path between Point A to Point B, but we can find peace in knowing we are running behind a trustworthy Lord. Paul says, “Stress these things.” I was caught off guard when I first read this because when I think of the word stress, I immediately think about noun forms, like anxieties from circumstances. But in this statement, stress is a verb. Paul is saying to emphasize what God is doing and to stop stressing over past mistakes. Stress what is excellent and profitable. What mistakes are you chained to? Will you allow Jesus to break the chains and take it all from you? How will you emphasize these things this into your lifestyle?


This is my Prayer: Father God, I praise You for seeking me with persistence. Lord I pray that You fill me with wisdom to believe in all that You have done for me. Jesus wash me today from what is holding me back, so that I feel renewed and see Christ ahead of me. Let courage flow through me as a run purposefully towards You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 30, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where do you need to bring your whole heart to an issue or situation that has grabbed your attention?

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

When the topic of influence is brought up often times the focus remains on sharpening our leadership skills. Without even knowing it, this mindset places us on shaky ground. If our attention is solely directed on our own ability, pride begins to creep in. We become the one who is solely responsible for the change.  We start to believe that if we have enough talent, charisma, and drive that we can accomplish any goal and we will ensure this happens by any means necessary. Suddenly, our talent is outpacing our character. Our motives for influencing others becomes murky at best. We can very easily shift towards manipulation and coercion in our relationships with others. It’s our image and recognition that matters above all else.


Drive is what moves and compels us. Yet, it is our character that keeps our drive in check and on the right road. Even though furthering our leadership ability is important, our competency will be of little value if we aren’t trustworthy. Relationships, and the ability to lead, require trust. The freedom to trust is built on a foundation of love. We must bring ourselves fully to our leadership so that our influence is the result of trust and not fear. True leadership involves living one’s life with an eye on God’s purpose. It’s focused not on the blessings we receive, but rather seeking out ways to be a blessing for someone else. Blessing is the act of our soul extending toward another in love.


To love someone is to see another person as part of yourself and this requires empathy. When we extend ourselves, we offer ourselves to another. Leadership is not about us, but it requires that we bring our whole heart and all of ourselves to every opportunity that is presented to us. Where do you need to bring your whole heart to an issue or situation that has grabbed your attention? What would it look like to have empathy for those that are in need?


This is my Prayer: Father God, remind me that every person I come in contact with is in need of the same grace, forgiveness, and love that I am. Lord help me to see their need as my need. Rather than rely on my talent to make an impact, I desire for my character and integrity to lead the way. Jesus let my life be one that points others towards You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

  Where do you feel like you might be able to lead?

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

We’ve talked before about the idea that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. The idea that we are to follow Jesus and live the life He designed for us relies solely on our ability to trust that He is who He says He is. Many times, we confuse leading with teaching. We know that Jesus had much to teach, and the Gospels attest to this fact. But what does any of that matter if we don’t trust Him, or have confidence that the Bible really is His Word?


One thing that seems reassuring is that Jesus didn’t just come and rattle off all of these rules and tell people when they were wrong. Jesus lived in such a way that those around Him came to trust Him by His actions, not just by His words. Like much of what Jesus says, today’s devotional passage isn’t about rules or orders. It’s a simple reminder that He will always be there for us. It’s an invitation to trust. It’s easy to think that we have something to teach, and often we feel surrounded by people that need to learn. But before we jump into teaching, we have to remember to lead as we go; that in our day-to-day lives people are watching us to see if we can be trusted.


 We have to live in such a way that people want to hear what we have to say and will be willing to trust us to help make changes in their lives.  Where do you feel like you might be able to lead? Do these people already trust you? Are there things in the Bible that you struggle to believe, or apply to your life? Does this have any correlation to a lack of trust in Jesus?


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to trust in who You are. Lord I don’t desire just a head knowledge of facts, but an understanding of truth based off of experiencing Your faithfulness. Jesus may I live in such a way that people will not only trust me but trust You and Your love for them. Help me to steward the influence I’ve been given. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

August 28, 2017, 5:00 AM

How are you going to position yourself to be used by God today?

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:14-19


It only takes a quick glance at the news headlines to realize the world is broken. From across the globe to the neighbor across the street, heartbreak, confusion, cynicism, anger and despair seem to reign. Fear seems to be winning out over hope. Division and divisiveness are more prevalent than unity and direction. There are more people shouting “us” and “them,” rather than looking another person in the eye and saying “we.”  Our world is a far cry from the Kingdom of God, which is defined by the qualities of love, peace, holiness, hope and joy. As we pray that the world would reflect His Kingdom more fully, we are not only asking God to display His power, but also seeking to figure out how He wants to use us to make His name known.


We can’t turn a blind eye, cover our ears or look the other way any longer. We can’t let the world unravel while we twiddle our thumbs and pass off our inactivity by simply stating that “God is in control.” The world is waiting for our response. Will we add to the problems of our culture by looking like everybody else and giving in to fear, hate, and cynicism, or will we seize the opportunity presented to us and be the light of this world? Will we possess the courage to engage the lost, empower the most vulnerable and equip the next generation? What if  through our actions we enabled the world to catch glimpses of what His Kingdom is like by pursuing justice, forgiving generously and loving boldly?


The simple truth is this, the church has the only message that has the power to change the human heart, heal a wounded soul, turn hatred into love and comfort the grieving. Our message brings repentance, redemption and reconciliation. Each one of us must pause and ask ourselves whether we are being intentional with the responsibility and influence we’ve been given. God has trusted us with the influence of His love and the integrity of His image. Do not take this lightly. But, don’t let the pressure of this statement overwhelm you. God honors our simple acts of obedience and He can do amazing things with each step we take. The impact of caring isn’t stress, but compassion.


As we are transformed into the image of God, the opportunities for our life to be used to display His kingdom increases as well.  God desires for every follower of His to use everything they’ve been given – every moment, every struggle, and every success – for the sake of His Kingdom. We have to look at everything we have, as well as all that we experience, both the good and the bad, and ask, “What is this for?”  We also must open our eyes to the opportunities all around us, those moments often get missed because we are consumed with the state of our individual kingdom and making sure our needs, wants and desires are met. Yet, the freedom we have through Christ was never meant to be held on to, but rather given away by serving others.


Yet, before that can happen, we have to make a decision.  Are we going to put ourselves in a position to be used in this way?  Are we going to allow our lives to be used for this purpose? How are you going to position yourself to be used by God today?


This is my Prayer: Father God, may my life point towards Your hope. Lord open my eyes to ways I can be used for Your glory. Jesus in the midst of this broken world, I hope I can shine my light and make a difference for Your kingdom. 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 86-90 of 286