Devotions

  • In The First Place

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    The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it. Matthew 13:22 The Message (MSG)

    Insight

    In part 1 of Still God’s, we were introduced to a few fundamental concepts that have caused me to take a step back, and explore not just what kind of financial situation I find myself in, but why. As a 27-year-old wife and mom, it’s easy to think along the lines of “we’re young; it won’t be like this for long.” But on the flipside, I find myself wondering how I even got here in the first place? What I’ve come to see is that the financial situation we find ourselves in presently is a direct result of listening (or not) to God a long time ago.

    While we’re thankful to fall into “the enough” category on the wealth scale, it still hurts to divide our money each month towards bills. Most recently, I’ve been feeling massive guilt over the fact that if I didn’t have such large student loan payments, we’d be able to send our kids to preschool, give more back to the church, and even put more into savings. I’ve constantly been asking myself, “How did I get here? Was this what God intended for me? Did I not listen to Him?”

    When I decided to take out student loans to go to college, I was following what I perceived to be the path that was laid out for me. Surely, I thought, God laid out this way for me, or it wouldn’t make so much sense or be so easy. I never had any trouble getting loans for school, I did well in college, and so I thought I was doing the right thing. For years, I ignored that still small voice that had me wondering, ‘Is this really the right thing to do? Am I going to regret this debt? Is college worth it?” (Please understand, I’m speaking about me specifically and what God was doing in my heart and my life and not making an overarching statement about whether taking out college loans is wrong for everybody.)

    What I believe now is that I was ignoring God. He was standing right in front of me waving a flashing neon flag that said Stop! Don’t go there! Turn around! I had constant hints that I wasn’t a good steward of what I’d been given (an opportunity for an education), but I didn’t listen. Ten years later, I find myself reading Matthew 13:22, and thinking I heard that kingdom news, but I ignored it because I wanted more than what I thought God wanted for me.

    When an opportunity comes knocking, it’s easy to do things without question. After all, would God put something in your path that was so glaringly wrong? Sometimes, the wrong things, seem so right. I was chasing education; how could that ever be wrong for you? Just like donating that extra $3 at the grocery store checkout, not every opportunity placed in front of us is a good one, even when it’s masked in goodness and light.

    If the financial situation we find ourselves in now, is a direct result of listening (or not) to God a long time ago, it stands to reason that whether or not we listen to Him now will have a significant effect on our financial situation farther down the road than we can see. If we can’t be trusted to be good stewards with the little we have now, we can’t expect to be trusted to be good stewards with more. In the meantime, we each need to make more of an effort to listen to Him, and follow His direction in being good stewards of His money and the choices we have to make.

    Reflection

    • Are there things you are doing with your money now that seem mostly right, but you still have hesitations? How is God talking to you about this? Are you taking the time to listen to Him in these situations?
    • What are choices that you made long ago that are still affecting you today?
    • What are choices you are making now that are helping or hurting your financial future? Can you take the time to stop and wait for His direction?

    Prayer

    God, what I have, and what I give, is Yours. I know that I need to stop and listen for Your voice when it comes to the financial choices I make now. My debts don’t just hold me back, they hold back Your kingdom. Help me to listen, and follow Your lead, not my own. Amen.

    PC3 writer Annalee Thomasson wrote today’s devotional.

  • Just A Little More

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    Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:2-3

    Insight

    The struggle to become a good steward of your finances begins with examining whom you allow to define contentment. Without a clear vision of what contentment looks like, there is no boundary to restrain us in our quest for more, and we are left to follow our desires unchecked and unplanned. The vision we have when it comes to our provision is to merely pay the bills, and if there is a little left over to splurge on ourselves a bit.

    Our money is spent on whatever we happen to want at the moment, often appealing to the most insecure parts of our hearts. We tend to spend our time trying to think about what want, and only when we have it will we even consider what God wants to do with our finances. Sadly, we all use our money to build an ideal image of ourselves rather than serve to express the image of God, in which we have been made. The love of money is the allure of “just a little bit more.” Without vision for your provision, you will not find contentment.

    Before we can decide what we actually “need” in order to be content, we must first examine what we believe about the source of our provision. Consider looking at contentment as a byproduct of trusting the fact that God will give you everything you need to do everything He wants you to do. You need a vision that compels you towards action. It must be big enough that it demands the discipline required to become a great steward. Until you get this you will default to old financial patterns and habits. Where there is no discipline, there is no vision.

    So, how can you begin to understand the purpose of what is already at your disposal if you can’t take your eyes off what you think you still need? You may say that there is a point at which you will be content, but have you been honest with yourself about what amount of money, what size of a house, what type of car or what set of circumstances will finally make you happy?

    You are prone to believe that you are responsible for your well-being, and much of what you experience confirms this. Think about how hard you work to get all of the things society tells you that you should want. This way ignores God as your Provider and leaves you with a lack of peace and a heavy heart. Sooner or later you risk no longer seeing God as your God or trusting His provision. Everything you have has been given to you. God is our creator and source of life. The critical path to contentment begins when you trust God for your provision.

    In order to see what you have been trusted with, you must believe God possesses the power to fulfill your needs. His purpose for what He has given you are far more significant than the discontentment that our culture sells. When we trust God’s provision, we will begin to see that His provision is meant for His purposes.

    Reflection

    • Where are you struggling to trust God when it comes to your provision?
    • How does money serve as tangible trust?

    Prayer

    God, rather than allowing the push for “more” to drive my actions and motives, help me to see contentment through Your eyes. May I have the courage to confront the places where fear, doubt, and shame influence my approach to finances. Let me worship You by being a good steward of the things around me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Tossing And Turning

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    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

    Insight

    What topic tends to dominate your thoughts when you are tossing and turning in bed? Are you worried and distraught over past due bills, making ends meet, saving for the kids’ college and putting food on the table? Do you find yourself wrestling with envy over what others have or dreaming of the perfect car, vacation or beach home?

    When these thoughts get traction in our minds, our hearts are quick to follow. We head down the dangerous road of thinking, “If only I had this or that, then I’d be free to live the life I’ve always wanted,” or “If only this bill were paid…,” “If only I made this amount of money, then I’d no longer worry.”

    Destination thinking is not reserved, however, for those who financially struggle. If you are in a more wealthy situation, your thoughts may sound more like “If only life could be more simple,” “If only I could just sell everything, live on a boat and travel the world,” or “If only I didn’t have the responsibility that comes with wealth.”

    Ironically, the same things that some of us desire and think of as a means to freedom also stand in the way of freedom for those who have them. Money really can’t buy happiness, and the reason for this is that you drift in the direction of your money (or lack thereof). No matter how much or how little you have, your heart is as scattered as your spending.

    Whether you consider yourself to be financially secure, financially struggling or you fall somewhere in-between, you are consumed with the desire for more freedom, which none of these scenarios seem to deliver. For many of you, your solution is to continue down the same path, thinking that eventually you are bound to reach some final destination.

    The reality is that such a place doesn’t exist. Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results is a sign of insanity, yet when it comes to our financial lifestyles, it’s how most of us live. For this reason, we become consumed with more want, more worry or both.

    We all yearn for freedom in our finances, but it seems like we are looking in the wrong direction for answers. Freedom in our finances isn’t found in a perfectly balanced account or having some money stashed away for a rainy day. Freedom will not be gained by ridding ourselves of all that we have either.

    The Bible makes the connection that our financial issues are indicators of a spiritual problem. The more you explore these ideas, the more you will discover the link between your heart and your stuff. What you find is that you don’t know where your heart is because you have no clue where your treasure goes.

    It’s easier to ignore the problem and to spend away or not think about it at all. But, this leaves one in a vulnerable state. If you don’t pay attention, it will cost you your heart. Money has a powerful influence on our hearts, and the Bible addresses this head on. The Scriptures say it’s our love of money, not money itself, that comes between God and us.

    If this is the case, then freedom in your finances begins by understanding what God has in mind for you financially. Seeing your money the way God sees your money will enable you to see everything that you have as a gift because it all belongs to Him anyway – it’s God’s. What you have is what you have been trusted with. Generosity allows you to freely give because God has freely given.

    Reflection

    • How does money serve as a revealer of our heart?

    Prayer

    God, help me to reflect on where I set my eyes for security and control. Help me to loosen my grip on my finances so that I can display Your heart through my generosity. Let me be an excellent steward of the things I have been given. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Hoping And Doing

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    Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry. He carried the flint and the knife. The two of them went off together.

    Isaac said to Abraham his father, “Father?”

    “Yes, my son.”

    “We have flint and wood, but wheres the sheep for the burnt offering?”

    Abraham said, “Son, God will see to it that theres a sheep for the burnt offering.” And they kept on walking together.  GENESIS 22:6-8 

    Insight

    This passage always blows me away. As a mom, it’s hard to fathom a parent’s willingness to sacrifice his or her own child.

    Unless.

    Unless Abraham had total and complete trust in the God who commanded such an act. Abraham believed “in hope against hope” (Romans 4:18). Some Bible scholars suppose that Isaac was in his 20s when this incident occurred. If so, then Isaac also must have trusted God, because it’s unlikely that a man over 100 years old could physically wrestle an unwilling 20-something onto an altar.

    Faith is doing something about Whom we put our hope in. When Abraham had a knife poised above his boy, the future looked pretty grim. But Abraham didn’t negotiate with God or run away from the scene. He raised the knife. At the last minute, God stopped him and provided a ram instead — a move that foreshadowed our heavenly Father’s sacrificial provision of His own Son, Jesus.

    What good came from this traumatic event in Genesis? Stronger faith for Abraham and glory for God. Well, I want those same things: bigger faith for me and bigger glory for my Creator. I can achieve this in small ways every day. In my marriage, in parenting, in my work, in my friendships — I can do the next right thing and trust God with the results. Like Mike said, “Long obedience in the same direction.”

    Because we can only see God’s faithfulness after the fact, we may have to wait for the rewards of our small steps of faith. In 2000, I was just starting my freelance writing career in Atlanta. Freelancing made me nervous, so I was excited to be offered a full-time job. On paper, the job was perfect: steady paycheck, friends in the creative department, etc. But my gut said don’t take it, so I declined the offer — even though I had nothing to fall back on but unsteady work. A few years later, pregnant with my daughter, it was clear that freelancing allowed me to balance work and staying home with Lucy.

    While we wait for answers, we never have to wait for God Himself. He is always there with us, providing all we need in every moment. And that is wonderful fuel for hope.

    Reflection

    • In which areas of your life do you have difficulty believing God?
    • What would it look like to take a small step toward trusting Him in that area?
    • What is the goal of your faith?

    Prayer

    Dear Father in Heaven, when it comes to timeless truths, there is no match for Scripture! Thank you that we can read a story written centuries ago and learn about You today. Help us to follow Abraham’s example. Even when things look dire, we too can “hope against hope” that You stand by Your promises to us. Amen.

    PC3 writer Katy Davis wrote today’s devotional.

  • Just Keep Spinning

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    But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

    My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion foreJust . Psalm 73:26

    Insight

    It might seem silly, but a summer tradition our family has is watching the reality television show, America’s Got Talent. Each performance is something to behold. From singers and dancers to magicians and comedians, these contestants dare to take the stage and show off their skills for the world to see. We all pick our “golden buzzer” performer and root for them to take home the grand prize. My wife tends to gravitate towards the singers, our girls for whatever reason love ventriloquists and dance groups, but for me, I enjoy the death-defying acts that keep you on the edge of your seat.

    One season there was a plate spinner who caught my eye. Even though they didn’t advance very far, I still remember it to this day. The way they went back and forth down that long line trying to keep numerous plates spinning on random poles struck a chord deep within me. Why? Because it provided a glimpse into my soul and the pressure that was consuming me.

    Each one us has numerous spinning plates that we must keep our eye on. We have the needs of our families, tending to our marriages or relationships, and investing in friendships. Our call as believers also entails making sure we pray, read Scripture, journal and serve others. Then we’ve got to fix things around the house, make ends meet, eat healthily, exercise more, develop hobbies, discover our life’s purpose, be active in the community, volunteer, and, well, you get my drift.

    Just keep spinning, just keep spinning…” is the tune that gets stuck in our head. We’ve become experts at maneuvering from plate to plate in just enough time to keep the action going. Our arms might be weak, and our knees might be wobbly, but we reason in our head that the show must go on.

    But, here’s the reality. If we don’t create margin and moments in our lives to be still, to rest, and to reflect, it’s inevitable that these plates will come crashing down around us. We’ll fool ourselves into believing that we are the leading act when in actuality we play a small part in a much grander play that God is directing. Being a plate spinner is a great skill for America’s Got Talent, but it’s not a sustainable way to live, love and engage in ministry.

    Our ministry (what we do with the gifts, talents, and resources we’ve been given by God) flows from our walk. Every time I hear this statement I nod in agreement. I know it to be true. I’ve even given this bit of wisdom to others, yet I struggle to take my advice and make checking the gauges of my heart a priority. Chances are good; I’m not the only one. Maybe you find yourself serving out of the reservoir rather than the overflow. In an attempt to make everything fit, you’ve inadvertently squeezed out your connection with Christ. Perhaps while doing your “job” you’ve lost your purpose. You’ve burnt the wick at both ends for so long that the once-dominant flame that fueled your pursuit is slowly fizzling away.

    You might be unable to articulate when this shift occurred or what caused the drift in the first place, but you’re well aware of your desperate need for rest, refueling, refinement, and refocus. Don’t lose heart or feel embarrassed or ashamed. A faith journey has its peaks, but it also includes its fair share of valleys. There are unbelievable highs along with low moments of silence, confusion, and frustration. In both, we’re called to walk in faith and hope. In both, God is still present, by our side, and faithful.

    In fact, those desert seasons, when our need for Christ is more pronounced, are transformational opportunities in disguise. God promises us that we will find His heart if we seek and pursue it. We encounter His heart, not in the hurry, the rush, the competition, the effort or the comparison. Pursuing doesn’t involve trying harder on our own, exerting more self-will, or strengthening our flesh.

    Rest for our soul consists of slowing down and entering His stillness. Sometimes God shouts, but often He speaks to us in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12). When we quiet everything around us, our ears can tune into this conversation of forgiveness, mercy, conviction, and encouragement. The prophet Zephaniah says that “He will quiet you by His love” (Zephaniah 3:17).

    So, today, take a break from spinning all those plates, quiet your heart and let God speak words of grace and life into it.

    Reflection

    • Where do you find your strength in short supply? What causes you to rely on your own power to get things done rather than leaning in for support from God?
    • How can you tend to your heart today?

    Prayer

    God, my energy is in short supply. Running on empty, or near it, can only get me so far. Help me to realize that my connection to You is what fuels my heart and sharpens my focus. Where I am weak, You are strong. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Do Not Hold On

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    They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

    “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

    He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

    Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

    Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

    She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

    Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:13-17

    Insight

    Jesus had a unique way of turning our world upside down. He never did things according to the book. He had little regard for our expectations of how things should be.

    The crowds who flocked to Jesus were hopeful this was “the one.” This man from Bethlehem was going to overthrow the oppressive Roman government and lead them towards freedom.

    Jesus had different plans.

    Yes, they involved freeing those who were imprisoned, but He died to overthrow the power sin had on our lives. The crowd desired insurrection. Jesus was focused on a resurrection.

    This explains Jesus’s seemingly odd comment to Mary outside of the tomb. There was no possible way to go back to the way things once were. He had conquered death so we might live. The old system had been replaced by something new…..something vastly better.

    Why revert back to a system of self-performance that could never meet the requirements for the life we desired?

    The essence of what God has done through Jesus is what allows us to both be forgiven and therefore free to forgive. His death brought us life.

    We have a built-in longing to make things right. This is why we gravitate towards forgiveness. In our minds, we believe forgiveness can pave the way to how things were before the offense occurred. Yet, no matter how hard we try, things are never going back to the way it once was.

    Forgiveness requires a death. For forgiveness to be felt something has to die. In order to see God’s way, our way has to die.  God’s way is the way of resurrection.

    Letting go of events, relationships, hopes and dreams that we grasped onto so tightly is no easy task. Unforgiveness has the power to shape our perspective, influence our words and actions and define our identity. This process of forgiveness means our pride, bitterness, anger, and entitlement must die as well.

    As we loosen our grip, we must trust that God is up to something we are incapable of doing on our own.

    God takes the bad things that have occurred in our lives and redeems them for His good purposes. In God’s economy, death is not the end, but a way of resurrection. We have been created to live a life that has been resurrected. We have been called to live in relationships that are fueled by resurrection.

    Reflection

    • In what broken relationship are you clinging to the hope that it will return to the way it was before the offense occurred?
    • What causes you to hesitate in letting go of the hope that things will return to the way they once were?
    • What has to die so you can experience a resurrection in this relationship?

    Prayer

    God, when I encountered Your love my world was turned upside down. It is hard to fathom the amount of love and grace that has been lavished upon me. May I be reminded of Your great love when I hold on to past hurt and pain. Rather than restoration, let me trust in redemption. Things will never return to how they once were before the wounds, but that is okay. You can bring beauty out of the ashes. May You be glorified by my response to forgive as I’ve been forgiven. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Always And In All Ways

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    “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” Jeremiah 23:24

    He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

    Insight

    Of all the attributes of God, many seem easy to believe, and others… well, others can be more complicated. It’s easy to think of God as a loving, and good, and kind figure. But one that always stumped me was His omnipresence; the idea that God is always there, in all places, at all times, with all people, no matter what.

    In daily thoughts and prayers, and especially in times of need, we’re quick to remind ourselves and others that He loves us. We thank Him for it. We sing about it – “loves (us) like a hurricane, and I am the tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. How He loves us” (How He Loves by David Crowder Band). We praise Him for being a “Good, Good Father,” for knowing our every need and providing, for walking with us through our rough days. We study a God who was a man but was perfect. He wasn’t good because it was right to do so, He was good because He was perfect, and did all the right things.

    And today we celebrate the idea that He works all things together for our good; that we will prosper at His hands, because He is good and wants good and right things for us. We aspire to be like He who was innately kind. Even to those who neither deserved nor expected His kindness and grace, He showed unwavering kindness. We preach the words of a man who did not have a mean bone in His body and model our own lives after His life and actions.

    But all of these easy to believe attributes lead me to one that I could just never fully grasp. His omnipresence. How can a God who loves a child, manage to love and show goodness and kindness to someone who would harm that child? How can a God who works all things together for our good, be with the people of California as their homes burned in wildfires or get wiped away in mudslides? How can a God who is always and in all ways kind, be with me and be kind to me when I am not showing kindness in my own life? How can a God who is busy handling the weight of the world, even be here with me at the same time in the first place?

    Jeremiah 23:24 tells us that, though we might wish we could, we cannot hide ourselves or our actions from Him. Other times, when we think there is no way God is with us in a trial, we know that He fills heaven and earth, filling our hearts and our lives.

    I’m reminded of the way we are present with our children; even as I sit here, hiding from my toddlers, in my bedroom closet so I can just get one thing accomplished. I’m reminded that they know that I love them. They know that if they make a mistake, or hurt their sibling, or trip and fall; that I will be there with open arms to walk with them through that trial. They know that even though they can’t see me right now, I haven’t left them. Even when I am in another room, dealing with something else, my affections and intentions for them have not changed.

    Though I find it hard to believe, He really is with us, always and in all ways. Encountering tough times in life are inevitable, and I can’t stop them. But I can use those situations to remind myself, as well as my husband and kids, that God still loves us, and is faithful to us, in ways we can’t imagine. That He is with us; always and in all ways.

    Reflection

    • What attribute of God do you struggle to believe? What circumstances in your life make this part of God’s character tough to understand and trust?
    • When do you feel reminders that God is omnipresent in your life? How does this enforce that He is the glue holding your life together?

    Prayer

    God, Your love and presence in my life is unwavering. Thank you for showing me kindness and grace even when I don’t feel that You are near. Help me to love others the way You love me. Amen.

    PC3 writer Annalee Thomasson wrote today’s devotional.

  • Comfort Zone

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    In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  Luke 10:30-35 

    Insight

    Every day we live amongst a tension. We struggle with one goal. It’s the desire you and I have for comfort. We all pursue being comfortable to some degree. Whether we realize it or not, this desire for comfort can very easily creep into our relationships and the way we engage with others.

    We’ve become so wrapped up in our own world that we do not see the people around us. But there is an inescapable truth found in Scripture. Jesus lays the gauntlet down in passages like Luke 10:30-35, better known as The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

    In this passage, Jesus challenges us and defines a purpose for us. We must step out of our comfort zones and engage a broken world. We cannot be bystanders or spectators. We cannot step back and hope someone else will step in. We cannot turn the other direction when we see people in need.

    In order to bring hope, we must be willing to cross the street like the Good Samaritan.

    Instead of seeing relationships with others as an inconvenience, we must see each one as an opportunity to make Christ’s love known through our action and words. Our hearts must break for this lost and hurting world. Our comfortable walk won’t produce this type of burden. Neither will a self-centered life focused solely on our needs.

    We have a responsibility to impact those around us.

    This requires action on our part and with this movement, we will undoubtedly be stretched. We have to cross the street and redefine close proximity.  If not me, and not you, then who will cross the road to bring the only message of hope to those who are hurting?

    Reflection

    • Where do you need to “cross the street”?

    Prayer

    God, I confess that for far too long I’ve been on a quest to protect my comfort zone. I’ve been so wrapped up in thoughts of my own tiny world that I’ve missed out on the brokenness taking place all around me. May I be willing to cross the street. Burst the bubble I’ve been living in. Stretch me for Your kingdom. In Your name, Jesus. Amen. 

  • Intentional Encounters

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    You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for Your Word to renew me. Psalm 119:14

    He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

    You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

    Insight

    In the midst of the hurry, we miss teachable moments of growth.We run at a breakneck speed in hopes of manufacturing maturity through our strength and effort. The pace many of us are going at is not sustainable. But, the need for solitude speaks to something more profound.

    If we don’t let God’s Word transform our mind and heart, we will enable our belief system to be molded and shaped by our culture. Remember, if the image of God doesn’t form us, some other model will.

    Our perspective will quickly become the only lens we use to view life. With this limited perspective, we’ll spend our days living with no conviction or foundational principles, leaving us incredibly vulnerable. James 1:8 refers to these type of people as “double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

    Each one of us has a system of belief that shapes his or her actions and words. It impacts their perspective, influences their identity and affects their relationships. We act on these feelings (“lean on our own understanding”) because we believe they are profitable. It isn’t until our perspective collides with reality and God’s Truth that we tend to slow down long enough to consider what is fueling our actions.

    We must take time to pause and ask ourselves: What defines our reality? How did we come to this system of belief? What information do we feed ourselves that in turn shapes our perspective?  What are we feeding our soul?

    The answers and insights to these questions don’t come in the midst of hurry.

    We make decisions every day. We pursue things every day. We give value to things every day. All of these everyday decisions and actions serve as a response to our system of belief. Critically thinking when studying Scripture is so important.

    We have to handle God’s Word in such a way that it becomes authoritative in our lives. Reading is critical. If God’s Word doesn’t influence our thinking, then we will fall back on our old system belief shaped by our emotions, circumstances, limited perspective and the opinions of others.

    The mind is mainly a servant of the heart. The time has come to transform our belief system by looking intently at His Word. This requires us to slow down and listen.

    Growth comes through intentional encounters.

    The purpose of thinking clearly is so we can live submissively. There is a level of trust and effort that we must exert. The charge is not merely to read more of God’s Word, but to take it a step further and examine what these truths say about our heart and where our trust lies.

    Reflection

    • What are you feeding your soul?
    • How are you structuring your life to have intentional encounters with God?

    Prayer

    Lord, test me.  Search me.  I want You to explore the places where I worry the most.  Help me to be honest about what I tend to believe about my world.  But most of all, help me to see You above it all.  And Lord, I pray that seeing You will change everything about the way I see my world.  In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Love Conquers Fear

    By in Devotions on

     “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10

    “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 

    Insight

    My first plane ride ever was a red-eye flight leaving Las Vegas. Fresh out of high school, my brother and I decided to drive cross-country to California. A former Marine, he remained stationed at 29 Palms while I headed back home. But first, I had to navigate my way through a large, active, and overwhelming airport. I can remember checking my boarding pass over and over again to make sure I was going to the right gate, and even then, I was nervous I might board the wrong plane and end up who knows where.

    Though my first flying experience was intimidating, I at least had some direction. Abraham, the father of faith, had nothing but the promise of God, and though he more than likely had some apprehensions, Abraham took action. In Sunday’s sermon, Mike said, “God’s direction requires our action.”

    Something needs to happen. The first step must be taken, but often we hesitate out of fear—fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of failure. As strong of an emotion that fear might be, there is one stronger: love.

    The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:16 that “God is love.” It continues by saying, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

    God loves us, so much, He sent His son Jesus to die for us. It’s a deep love, a persistent love, the kind of love that shouts, “I gave my everything to have you.” It’s the only thing strong enough to hold us up when we are tempted to give in to fear. Love conquers fear.

    Abraham didn’t know where he was going, but “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). He focused on God and nothing else. Where is your focus? Are you looking forward or are you looking in the past? Or perhaps you’re feeling stuck in the now.

    Keep your focus on God and move. Whatever happens, remember the One who guides you is the One who gave everything to have you.

    Reflection

    • When was the last time you stepped out in faith?
    • Where do you go for encouragement when fear or doubts enter your thoughts?

    Prayer

    Heavenly Father, may we be reminded that Your great love is far stronger than the thing that keeps us from moving forward. Be our guide and build our faith as we step into all You have for us. Amen.

    PC3 writer Mandy Hughes wrote today’s devotional.