Devotions

  • Nothing Wasted

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    For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for His glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 

    Now all the glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 

    Insight

    Last Sunday, the father of a prodigal spoke to us from the stage at PC3. His son had been addicted to heroin for many years. The father was a pastor, which made his son’s struggle even more painful and public. Yet this pastor’s message was about prayer and redemption when life isn’t “picture-perfect.” The pastor prayed throughout those years, waiting with Jesus. The son turned back to God, gave up drugs, and now works for the church and is active in PC3’s addiction ministry, Refuge.

    God wastes nothing. That is redemption, and I have seen the beauty of it.

    When I was a kid, I would come home from school each day to find my mom in a stupor from drinking wine all day. I quickly learned that if I wanted a picture-perfect life, I would have to create the illusion of it myself. I cleaned our house as best I could, but I rarely invited friends over, lest they would see the real mess our lives were.

    God wasted none of this. When I was 17, my mom reached out for help and has been sober ever since. For many years, she worked with other alcoholics in recovery. She prayed during my own prodigal years of partying and eating disorders and scoffing at the thought of God.

    Her prayers paid off in the form of my husband who had a spiritual renewal early in our marriage. He started going to church. I didn’t sign up for church! Ah, but God signed me up, and at age 43 I finally got it: Jesus is who He says He is. He is the fulfillment of all God’s promises. He is my security today when life is careening all around me.

    Jesus is all we need. I know that’s cliche. But at the heart of every cliche is truth. I cling to Jesus now, as I pray for my brother, who doesn’t know Christ. How will that situation be redeemed? I have no idea. In the meantime, I can pray. I can lay my brother at the foot of the cross and know God is on the case. I can live in the moment with the Lord, pressing into him. Then I’m in the best possible position to receive God’s help and to be God’s help.

    As we wait with God the Father— not for Him — He infuses us with the truth of His saving grace. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, we are always welcomed home. 

    Reflection

    • Where in your life have you seen bad situations redeemed?
    • Is there something in your life that you’re waiting for God to fix?
    • What would it look like to wait with God, rather than simply for Him? 

    Prayer

    Dear Father in Heaven, the perfect world You created is broken because of sin. But Your rescue plan has been set in motion! Jesus saved, still saves, and will save until the great day when He returns. Until then, let us run into Your arms daily, allowing You to contain our lives and fill it with Your grace. Bring others to Yourself through us, we pray! Amen.  

    PC3 writer Katy Davis wrote today’s devotional.

  • Friends Like Family

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    “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:2-4

    Insight

    When I was a boy I grew up in a world of yes sir, no sir, and we all need to be at church every time the doors are open. I was honored to be instructed in this way. I loved the Lord from an early age and I responded well to discipline. At least initially.

    As I grew into manhood I realized that my family’s definition of who God was and how we should honor Him differed from mine. I grew to believe that what the Lord loved most was a broken and contrite heart; and that the two most important things for me to do were to love God and love people. Over time I became more passionate about my daily walk with God than anything else. My prayers seemed to have more meaning. My conversation with God– was actually a conversation. I’m still working on getting to church every time the doors are open.

    I have also struggled with the difference between family and friends. Have you ever given that any thought? Family seems to have hurt me more often than friends. It’s rarely intentional, but sometimes my family does things that cause me pain.

    We’ve all experienced it. Our family often believes that they have the right to treat us more poorly than others since, after all, well, they’re family. I mean, that’s actually a rationale with some people. I think Christ would agree that a godly family takes no right of familiarity in the treatment of one another. If anything, a godly family should raise the bar of how we treat one another. Not lower it.

    Let’s explore further. There are some great biblical examples of friends and family. I love the story about how David and Jonathan bonded and became friends. When we study Samuel we learn about Jonathan and David—they were not technically family. But my, what a love they had for one another (Samuel 18.4).

    Another Bible passage that frames my friends and family perspective is the one where Mary and Jesus’ brothers are looking for Jesus and find Him with His friends:

    While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

     He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt 12.46-50)

    What’s really crazy is that in all of this mental warfare, prayer, praise, and prosperity, you would think I have formulated a plan to teach my kids. Now the shoe is on the other foot! You would think that I have a notebook with an outline for them to follow and a few core verses to give them some guidance. Nope, just a lot of love and a focus on my own walk. It means far more than any words that might come out of my mouth.

    I believe that a broken and contrite heart is still the best way to stand at attention before God. I believe that while the family is important, so are friends, and even the strangers, the widows, and the orphans that are standing directly in my path. I believe that walking with God is less about yes sir, no sir, and perfect weekly church attendance, and more about an hourly mindset focused on our Maker, His will, and which steps He wants us to take next.

    I’ve learned that through music, through scripture, and even through a run on the south end of Wrightsville Beach, there is a path to God always at the ready. He wants nothing less than to treat me like a son; He wants to treat me like family.

    Reflection

    • What has your path of family looked like?
    • Are your friends like family? Why or why not?

    Prayer

    Oh Lord, thank you for all You have done for us. Thank you for all the blessings that family can provide, and thank you for a humble mindset when family disappoints. Thank you for forgiveness. It is the glue that holds us all together. Amen.

    PC3 writer Jeff Headrick wrote today’s devotional.

  • Behind Closed Doors

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     If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

    “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20

    Insight

    The school bus hadn’t even come to a complete stop before I hopped off, darted to my room and closed the door behind me. It was report card day and let’s just say, my scores were far from spectacular. I knew the fate that awaited me once my parents got home – disappointing looks, long lectures and the inevitable grounding.

    I wouldn’t be seeing the light of day for a very long time. And, at that moment, I was completely fine resigning myself to a life behind the door. After all, I had a stash of Pop-Tarts and a half-drunk Gatorade to keep me alive. As long as that door was closed, I didn’t have to deal with the embarrassment of my lackluster performance. The barrier the door provided kept me protected from the consequences. I reasoned if I ignored the issue long enough, it’s as if the poor grades had never happened.

    To put it simply, I believed the lie that I would be the safest hiding behind closed doors. This line of thinking doesn’t just trip up naïve middle schoolers; many adults, and families, utilize it to deal with their mess, dysfunction, and shame. We present a picture that distorts reality. Everything we don’t want the world to see or know, we toss behind closed doors and slap on “DO NOT ENTER” and “OUT OF SERVICE” signs to keep people at bay.

    The constant fighting. The wayward son or daughter. Struggles with finances. A lack of communication. Infidelity. Addictions. Conflict with our kids. Being at our wit’s end as a parent. Disappointment and disillusionment. All of this mess we relegate to a life behind closed doors. We attempt to take our secrets to the grave, not realizing that when we do this the grave actually takes residency in our hearts and our relationships.

    Living life behind closed doors creates a vicious cycle. The more we keep hidden, the more alone and isolated we feel. And the more alone we feel, the more danger we put ourselves in. We either ignore our problems altogether and enable the issues to only grow more daunting or we attempt to fix everything by relying solely on our own strength. We find it easier to justify our words and actions as well as rationalize giving into temptation.

    When we lock the door, we not only cut off our connections with others, we stifle our intimacy with God. He can’t heal what we don’t reveal. This isn’t a comment doubting God’s power and ability. He can redeem anyone’s story. It speaks to the reality that those things we keep hidden we aren’t ready to hand over and experience true change and transformation.

    In the midst of the mess, we think all we want is to disappear. But, what we really desire (and need) is to be found. Maybe it’s time to stop hiding. Maybe it’s time to open the door and let people in.

    Reflection

    • What struggles, both personally and as a family, have you hidden behind closed doors?
    • Why does this remain off limits to God, yourself and others? What makes you resistant to be transparent and vulnerable about this struggle?

    Prayer

    God, there is far too much of my family story I relegate to collecting dust behind closed doors. The reasons for me doing so are many – guilt, shame, fear, and embarrassment. Yet, You didn’t let my mess stop You from knocking and asking to come in. You not only entered my room, You sat down in the middle of my mess so we could deal with the junk together. Thank you for making a way for me to live free. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Dressing Up Our Stories

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    May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

    Insight

    Families are filled with broken people who have their own struggles and failures. Even though we know this to be true in our head, we struggle to believe this in our hearts. Why is this the case? All we see, or at least all we center our attention on, are those “picture perfect” examples of ideal families seen in advertisements, movies, and television shows. These pictures of perfection also flood our social media feeds where family after family posts the best of themselves.

    Even in Christian circles, we’ve been engrained to dress in our “Sunday bests.” The blow-up that happened on our way to church or the arguments that might have taken place during the weekend have no business being spoken when we worship. But, if we can’t bring our problems to church then where can we bring them?

    Every family has its stories, no matter how hard they try to dress them up or hide them. Silently we struggle alone. We lose hope and heart. We doubt that anything will change. We reason that our situation, or that family member who went their own way, is too far gone for God’s redemption.

    But, this is simply not the case. God has a way of bringing beauty out of brokenness. If redemption means God uses everything, then it is safe to assume God wastes nothing, including our pain, heartbreak, and shame. We can run to Jesus in our mess, and He gets us. God is kind enough and strong enough to handle all of it. When our children or life bring us to our knees, we’re in the best position for God to help us.

    As we face disappointment, we shouldn’t just wait for Jesus to act, we must wait WITH Him expectantly. Prayerlessness is our declaration of independence from God. On the other hand, prayer is keeping company with God. He infuses us with new strength as we stay connected to Him. While we wait for answers to prayer, we must ask ourselves whether we are waiting with our worries, doubts, and fears, or are we waiting with Jesus?

    Reflection

    • As it relates to your family situation, where does your heart need to be encouraged? Why have you lost faith and hope in these circumstances?

    Prayer

    God, You extend grace to everyone, including myself. No one is too far from Your reach. Help me to realize that there are no perfect people and no perfect families. We all have our own struggles, failures, and regrets. May I be transparent and honest with You, and others, about what is going on in my world. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    Today’s devotional was inspired by Part 3 of Picture Perfect from James Banks. 

  • Prodigal Love

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    I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. LUKE 15:18-20

    Insight

    Picture someone who has wronged you. I mean full-on, blatantly crushed you. If the wound is any bit a fresh one, it’s probably hard to imagine running to that person to forgive him or her. For the prodigal son, he experienced forgiveness in that way precisely.

    It was not just love that drove the father to run to his once lost son. He was protecting his son from due punishment. Let us recall the son’s sins against his father: he requested his share of the family’s wealth (on a whim), took it, then blew it all on “reckless living.” Then he decided to come back.

    In a first century Jewish community, the village would have performed a kezazah. This was a ceremony against anyone who squandered his inheritance among Gentiles then returned home. They would have broken a large pot in front of the son and yelled something such as, “You are now cut off from your people!”

    There was no kezazah. The father ran to his son before anyone could fault him as he entered the village. Forgiveness was clear. Celebration commenced.

    Christ shared such parables as the lost son to convey the nature of His Father. God’s forgiveness is indispensable. But run to someone to forgive? Even do them a solid for their otherwise doomed reputation? Suppose they are out to burn you again. Can we not at least wait and make them state their case?

    Like the lost son, we are prone to wander. We stray from the good path God has paved for us. Sometimes we even do detestable things that bear zero consideration for loved ones. Still God is full of grace. What He offers to us is incomparable, especially in terms of forgiveness. Not only does He refocus our humility, but He frees us from the grips of our sin.

    My mind goes to a person who has wronged me multiple times. It has hurt me and angered me. A kezazah would be the warm-up! It has been a tumultuous path to forgiveness, but I know it is necessary in order for me to live free. Vengeance is suffocating. When you live in The Room of Rogue Justice, it consumes. There is no alternative to a constant defense of your character and an endless wait for their just deserts. The Room of Forgiveness has open doors leading to possibilities. It holds potential for progress.

    In the same way the father forgave the son, we have to forgive others. Tough to swallow? Absolutely it is, but it is essential. It’s sort of a green light or admission ticket to live on; to live freely and stop walking on the egg shells of keeping up appearances while we contemplate penalties.

    The father had a right to authorize the ultimate slam on his young son. He instead loved, dispensed forgiveness, and redeemed a bad reputation. God too is justified in disowning us. But He delights in loving us, knowing us, and blessing us. Forgiveness makes it possible. We arguably could slam justice down on some of our transgressors. What might come from that?

    Here’s what we do know: Psalm 36 reminds us the Lord’s justice is like the great deep. It preserves “man and beast.” We are all included in that!

    Justice has the potential to become a questionable thing in a worldly sense. But rejoice! God’s truth in forgiving is unquestionable.

    Reflection

    Maybe there is someone you need to forgive. Maybe you are not yet in a position to communicate that forgiveness. That’s OK. Approach forgiveness in the heart first. It will give potential to opening doors rather than surely stifling peace.

    • For what specifically might you need to offer up forgiveness to someone?
    • How will you prepare your heart to do it?
    • What might come out of it?

    Prayer

    God, in the midst of the uncertainty of life, there is one thing I can count on and that is Your unending love. Thank you for welcoming me back home. Even though I didn’t deserve grace and mercy, You threw a party when I returned. My redemption provides ultimate security and frees me from the bondage of unforgiveness. Rather than seek justice when others wrong me, may I reflect Your love instead. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    For further study: Luke 15:11-32, Ephesians 4:31-3 and Psalm 36

    PC3 writer Adam King wrote today’s devotional.

  • Walking On Eggshells

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    If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:31(New Living)

    Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

    Insight

    It’s been said that you can measure the health of a relationship by measuring the number of undiscussables. Our relational limits are determined by what remains off-limits in our conversations. We tiptoe around the tension, ignoring the rotten smell in the air and hoping not to step on any eggshells. We throw out eggshells all around us in an effort to keep people at bay. With every eggshell we toss, we are attempting to protect our image, our heart and sometimes our pride.

    Eggshells are the things we lay down that keep people from telling us what we need to hear. One of the biggest tragedies is how isolated and lonely our eggshells leave us. They harm every facet of our lives, including the way we interact (or avoid) our family. When we live our lives walking on eggshells, we are unable to reach our full potential and become the people God wants us to become.

    The author of James speaks about the power the tongue holds. All throughout Proverbs, King Solomon advises his readers to pay attention to the words that come out of their mouths. Both writers understood that our words have the power of life and death. They have the ability to build-up and tear-down. They can cripple as well as breathe life and confidence into another individual. A well-spoken word is one of the best things we can have in this world.

    Unfortunately, we fail to leverage our words when we avoid conflict. We often see conflict as a negative. If tension exists in our relationship, we view that relationship in a poor light. Each one of us has a default response towards conflict. We avoid it in hopes that if we pretend it doesn’t exist, the problem will go away. Others of us drop hints anticipating the other party will eventually open their eyes to their shortcomings. Then there are those of us who wait out the conflict to see who will go first. If that doesn’t work, we wage war on the conflict by being passive-aggressive. And, if all else fails, we simply explode.

    The moment conflict arises we go into fight or flight mode. We stop thinking and start reacting. On top of these responses, we begin to craft a story about the person on the other side. Since our brains are hard-wired for stories, we paint a picture in order to fill loops. This is the only way we can justify our anger, our hurt, our pain and our frustration. The more we personalize and make ourselves the victim in our story, the more likely we aren’t seeing the whole picture. There are more sides to every story than just two. We have our side, the other person’s side and then the truth. This is why we must assault our own story to see where we are off base.

    Conflict is an opportunity. We might not see it as such, but it is. This is why we must learn how to communicate in the context of community. If we find ourselves stuck it means there is a crucial conversation that needs to take place. To love someone is to enter into a relationship by speaking the truth in love. We are moving the eggshells to the side and making a clear path for connection.

    Yes, when crucial conversations exist it does mean there are strong opinions, high emotions, and high stakes. But, what is at stake is our personal growth and the growth of our relationships. We can tell a lot about ourselves by the way we are able to receive correction and rebuke. If we want to be wise, it begins by making ourselves available and developing a listening ear. When you find yourself in a relationship where anything can be said, you have found yourself in a healthy place.

    Reflection

    • Eggshells are what we use to keep people from telling us what we really need to hear. What eggshells do you tend to throw out to keep people at bay? When it comes to your family, how are you walking on eggshells?
    • What conversation are you not having or not having well? How is it causing you to feel stuck?

    Prayer

    God, when I look around myself, all I see are eggshells. I use them as relational landmines to prevent people from coming close and speaking into my life. Today, may I pick up these eggshells and stop pretending like they don’t exist. Let me be open to hearing words that might sting at first. Give me the courage to be transparent and vulnerable to others and You as well. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

     

  • Image Is Everything

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    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17

    Insight

    As I stood next to my younger brother who was riving in pain and gasping for air, I knew I was in major trouble. My life, for all intents and purposes, was over. Even though Matt was the one who was hurt, I was the real dead man walking. In panic mode, I tried to soak in every bit of sunlight because I knew it would be a rare sight once my mom found out about my latest stunt.

    I began to construct elaborate lies that would explain why my brother was passed out at the bottom of the stairs with a bed sheet tied around his neck: He tripped over a dog toy. He was the one chasing me and, like a good boy, I told him to slow down. He wanted to get a jump on the laundry so he was taking a load down to the basement.

    My mom didn’t need to know that I convinced Matt he was a superhero who could fly through the air. Neither did she have to worry about how I encouraged Matt to test his powers by jumping off the top of the stairs. I eventually came to my senses and realized it was better to fess up to my crime rather than add on to my death sentence by lying.

    While grounded I had all the time in the world to think about what transpired. From Matt’s perspective, he thought the rules of gravity didn’t apply to him. After all, he was Superman. But, as soon as Matt’s pajama-clad feet left the ground, his perception was on a collision course with reality. When he encountered the linoleum floor he also encountered the truth – gravity always wins out.

    Not all encounters in life are painful as Matt’s, but every encounter changes us. An encounter happens when our reality gets challenged. There is a collision that occurs when our perspective of how things are or should be collide with the truth. Transformation and growth lie on the other side of every encounter you face.

    The reality is, you were made by God for God. You were created in His very likeness. The image of God is stamped on every human being, including yourself. You will never understand your life apart from him.Trusting this profound truth has the ability to frame every encounter and shape the way you see each moment. Knowing you were designed to reflect His love serves as the catalyst for the transformation you hope to see.

    If you were made for God then you will never find meaning and purpose apart from Him.An encounter with Jesus changes everything. When we collide with the Truth, it changes us: how we see things, how we respond and how we walk. Christ should impact our circumstances, our views, and our values.

    Sadly though, many of us attempt to speed up or completely avoid the formation process of our heart. There is no vision or plan for our growth. Instead, we place our hope in circumstances to shape us into the image of Christ. This simply won’t happen. If the image of God doesn’t form you, some other image will.

    You are either growing into what you were made to be or shrinking from it. We either make room for His impact on our lives or we don’t. We all drift towards becoming something. The choice facing us is whether we will be intentional or not about the formation process. The command in Romans 12:2 is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. A renewed mind, a new way of seeing, is critical for us to offer ourselves to God and sacrifice our purposes for His. It requires submission to the Truth.

    In your quest for growth, it is critical to have a point of reference in regards to the person you want to become. If you want to know what you believe, look at what you do. What remains undefined will remain unchanged. The fundamental reason we long to change is that we know deep down we are not as we should be. Scripture speaks of you being God’s workmanship. He’s crafted you to reflect His heart. You must engage in the process in order for change to happen. If you are willing, your heart, your perspective and, even your life, can begin to authentically reveal God in response.

    Reflection

    • You were made by God for God. What implications should the truths found in today’s passage have on our lives?
    • Where is a collision with God’s Truth taking place in your life? How are you dealing with this encounter?

    Prayer

    God, may I realize You are always at work in my life. Open my eyes to the encounters that are taking place all around me. Give me the courage to let these moments form and shape my character. I desire for my words and actions to reflect my trust in You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Running On Empty

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    The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. Psalm 23:1-2

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28

    Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

    Insight

    I’ve heard it said that there are two types of people in this world. There are those individuals who see the “E” illuminated on their car’s dashboard and think, “I got this…I can drive 15 more miles easily.” They push their car to the limit and laugh in the face of danger. They are so bold that they have been known to pass a Shell station in spite of the flashing light demanding their attention. And on occasion (sometimes even more than once), their luck runs out and they find themselves broken down on the side of the road.

    Then you have those who are the complete opposite. They see the gas gauge not even at the half-way point and think, “Oh my gosh…I need to fill-up…NOW!” As soon as they spot a gas station, they dart in, avoiding “disaster.”

    When it comes to my wife and I and our routine “discussions” on this matter (especially when we have an important event we need to go to), Jenn is the daredevil and I’m Mr. Conservative. She’s so focused on getting from Point A to Point B that stopping to get gas slips her mind. I, on the other hand, worry and fret over pretty much everything, love to be in control, and hate to be surprised.

    In the grand scheme of things, forgetting to fill up your tank is not that big of a deal. Neither is always making sure its topped off to ensure you are in control. Yet, when it comes to caring for our heart and leading our families, both approaches are dangerous.

    As hard as it is for me to admit this, my heart tank is not only low, it’s puttering on the fumes of the fumes. This stage of life I find myself in, with work and family responsibilities, has me running on empty.  I’ve been going and going non-stop. There has indeed been no rest for the weary.

    On top of this, worry keeps me up at night as I think through every possible scenario with the issues facing our family. None of those issues are earth shattering and we are blessed in ways we can’t comprehend. But, this still doesn’t stop me from trying to fix everything, control everything, and be the author of my own story. Trying to be everything for everyone has me thinking the world is all about me. My needs. My desires. My plans. But, it’s not.

    In order to truly love and be present for my family, I need to rest. I show value to them by valuing time to care for myself. Scripture speaks about the importance of staying connected to Christ (John 15:1-17). It goes as far as saying that apart from Him I can accomplish a whole lot of nothing. But, by relying on Him, and looking to Him to guide my steps, I can be the type of husband and father my family deserves.

    I know this to be true, but like any good control freak, loosening that grip and relaxing doesn’t come naturally. This is why slowing down, resting and refueling provides me with an opportunity to grow and mature. My need to be in control, or at least foolishly thinking I am, doesn’t require any faith. Yet, God has different plans for my life and they always involve pushing me to deeper faith and dependence. So, today, I will stop and rest.

    Reflection

    • What lights are flashing on the dashboard of your heart?
    • How would you describe your current energy level? Are you running on empty? Where are you pushing yourself too much in an effort to control your situation?

    Prayer

    God, open my eyes to see that You are in control and I am not. Remind me that I show how much I care for others by first caring for my own soul. Refuel me with Your love, grace, and mercy. Help me to hit pause and simply be still.  In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Love God And Love Others

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    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

    Insight

    Jesus summed up the entire law with the simple command of love God and love others.

    In this single statement, Jesus revealed humanity’s greatest need as well as the highest call for us as Christians. Yet, for whatever reason, whether it be fear, selfishness or just plain laziness, this weighty issue of faith sometimes does not sit well with our stomach.

    Being independently dependent upon Jesus Christ involves understanding the true source for sustainability in our walks. We must be fueled by the love of God. There is nothing else strong enough to motivate us to care for one another by extending a hand.

    If we are shallow in our walks with God we will continue to be shallow with others. Our willingness to “go there” and invest in the lives of others is an expression of  the health and vitality of our walks with God.

    Like Christ, we must be willing to move into relationships and help those that are in our sphere of influence. It is our responsibility to engage, invest and encourage them. Helping someone walk with God requires taking the time to get to know him or her. This can only occur if we are willing to lean in, listen to their story and try to understand their heart.

    Yet, the first step is making room in our own lives to know more of God’s heart. Inviting Him into our heart allows us to show the heart of God to others as we enter their world.

    Through our attempts to love others, God stretches us, teaches us and reveals to us more of His character. The depth we crave in our walk with Him develops as our hearts slowly become His own. Giving ourselves away is the most powerful way to live. It is the cure for a lot of the problems we face in our individualistic culture.

    Scripture reminds us that “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for God will find it” (Matthew 16:25). This takes place by following a simple command: love God and love others.

    Reflection

    • Where do you need to “lean in” and respond to the nudges you feel to love God and love others?

    Prayer

    God, allow me to take the call to love others seriously. Enable me to see that my willingness to help others means nothing if it isn’t grounded in love. May the love I extended to others come from the overflow of feeling loved by You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Before Honor

    By in Devotions on

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

    Insight

    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.

    Reflection

    • In what relationships are you currently struggling with humility?
    • How does humility help frame the perspective we have in our relationships?

    Prayer

    God, I’m humbled that You are willing to use me to make Your name known. Help me to exalt Your name through the way I go about my day today. May I use the time I’ve been given to glorify You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.