Devotions

  • Cultivating Compassion

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    Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38 

    Insight

    Division and discord seem like apt descriptions for the world we live in right now. Name an issue and almost instantly fights, quarrels and arguments break out. An “US vs. THEM” mentality has taken over our culture. To get everyone to agree on just a single point feels like an impossible task. Yet, there is one reality that brings both sides of the aisle together. We can all nod our heads in agreement and concede that there are significant issues facing out world.

    People in our world are hungry. They are sick and impoverished.  They are sold into slavery. Education is deliberately withheld. People are stolen, sold, manipulated, and oppressed. We have a crisis of refugees, widows and orphans. We have a crisis of integrity, education, decency, hygiene, and leadership. There are issues of hunger and homelessness. There is a lack of hope.

    Everyday, all around us, we are confronted with brokenness. We see needs in our neighborhood, our city and our world. We may even feel a nudge to get involved, do something and take action, but fear, doubt and inadequacy win out. We shrink back, turn away and hope someone else will rise to the occasion. Some of us allow our convenience, comfort and complacency to justify our inactivity.

    If we don’t lean in to understand, we turn away and ignore. We look for things that entertain or distract us in order to find relief from the jarring issues that seem to interrupt our attention. This reaction is a defense mechanism. It serves as a way to protect our hearts. But, rather than guarding our heart, indifference damages it. We naturally drift towards indifference because of our capacity to care. We hope our hearts will grow and then we will display compassion. But, compassion begins when we start to care. Compassion is a quality that must be cultivated and only takes root when we take action. Concern expands our capacity to care. When our heart breaks with the compassion of our God seen in the Gospel, our soul expands to match this growing concern.

    The significant issues facing our world require significant people. Many of us don’t see ourselves as significant. We think if we can barely handle our own issues, how could we possibly tackle and take on those significant issues? We feel completely inadequate and overwhelmed. We don’t know how to begin, where to start and what we could possibly do to make a difference. We convince ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to make an impact. But, what if our gifts, our experiences, and our passions are exactly enough? Maybe God only needs the little we have to make big things happen, if we would only lean in and start somewhere. Leaning in begins by being curious about the unique expression we have to offer the world and what God wants to do through us.

    Reflection

    • Where have you felt a nudge or a prompting to get involved? Instead of turning away, what would it look like to “lean in” and become curious about ways you can help? How can you put yourself in experiences that will impact your heart?

    Prayer

    God, when my heart breaks over the state of the world, rather than turn away from the discomfort, may I lean in. Instead of hiding, may I look for ways to help. Give me the courage to trust that You are doing something in me in order to something through me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Our Highest Value

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    Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

    Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matthew 5:1-12

    Insight

    The constant chase for peace only lets up when we are willing to die to ourselves. Comfort might distract us and provide relief for a moment, but it eventually gives way to boredom and apathy. Living a life of convenience proves to be a lonely venture. In some regards, convenience is tolerated self-centeredness. When one is thinking solely about themselves and their own-well being, it leaves little room to care for anybody else.

    Unfortunately, many of us take the easy route by devoting a large portion of our energy towards taking care of our own comfort and convenience. Just as long as our personal kingdom is well maintained, we ignore the fact that there are needs all around us. With an individualistic mindset, our greatest concern will always remain inward. When we become lazy in our spiritual life, we make ourselves vulnerable towards letting status quo, convenience and our feelings direct our actions.

    We don’t understand the devastating effect this causes to our hearts. Our soul shrinks or expands to our greatest concern. When our highest value is our own comfort and well-being, our soul becomes minuscule and unusable. But, when our heart breaks with the compassion of our God seen in the Gospel, our soul expands to match this growing concern. Purpose and meaning are only found in Christ’s call to pick up our cross.

    We desperately need a growing soul so we are energized to pray for opportunities to impact our world. Everyday as we go about our business, normal, seemingly mundane opportunities will present themselves. We’ll be faced with a choice: will we choose our agenda of comfort and convenience or will we be an instrument God can use to make His name known?

    Having been called to express the love of Christ through our words and actions, we cannot afford or survive being obsessively concerned about ourselves. Settling for a convenient life is admitting you want to live a mundane story. Instead, choose impact over comfort. Don’t put fleeting happiness before holiness. Embrace a call greater than our own comfort.

    Reflection

    •  Based upon where your current energy and focus reside, would you say your soul is shrinking or expanding? What makes you answer in the way that you do?

    Prayer

    God, I’ve allowed my soul to shrink by being so consumed with my little world. My biggest concern is often myself. Instead, may I turn my attention outward to those around me. Give me eyes to see the needs of others. Break my heart for what breaks Yours. In Your name, Jesus. Amen. 

  • Building A Bridge

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    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

    Insight

    Each one of us finds ourselves on a bridge at some point in our journey. As we go though life and our days, we are building the bridge as we walk on it. Every situation in our lives is a bridge we can cross if we choose. But, more often than not, we resist taking another step and instead allow the unknown and the fear of meeting resistance to stop us in our tracks.

    We begin to question the direction our bridge might take us. Where is this going to lead? How am I going to navigate my way? What lies on the other side? Should I cross this bridge? Is it even safe? Is this bridge the right bridge to cross?

    As a result of these questions, we settle for certainty and the illusion of control while missing out on the transformation that lies on the other side of the bridge. Often in life we don’t desire deep change because it can be hard, it can hurt, and it can ask us to move out of our comfy confines of status quo.

    In his book Building the Bridge As You Walk On It, Author Robert Quinn says, “At both individual and organizational levels, we tend to choose slow death over deep change. This slow death is the consequence of remaining in the normal state. To be in the normal state is to be externally driven, internally closed, self-focused, and comfort centered.”

    If we stay in the normal state, avoiding deep change and trying to maintain control, if we do that as individuals and if we try to do that as a church, it leads to something none of us wants – a slow death. What we do with our individual bridge matters to the overall influence we have as a community of believers.

    Our individual transformation serves as the key to deep organizational change. When it comes to the life and vision of our church, we have to start with our own deep change. We do this by paying attention to our heart and our mind.

    It’s easy to cruise through life and not notice what your heart is set on and where your mind tends to gravitate. We need to set our heart and mind on things above and not get distracted by earthly things. If we take inventory on our heart and our mind, we set the direction for our lives.

    We experience deep change by walking on the bridges that we are building with ever increasing integrity. However, it’s not enough to just walk and build the bridge. We have to verbally acknowledge the one who is doing the building through us.

    As we walk by grace and faith, we give glory to God. It is His Gospel and saving grace that must be a part of what we talk about all the time. Where these bridges are going are of minor importance. It’s not where the bridge is taking us, it’s how we build the bridge as we walk on it.

    Reflection

    • It’s not where the bridge is taking us, it’s how we are building the bridge as we walk on it. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?

    Prayer

    God, my tendency is to want every detail about the path before me to be laid out. Yet, You ask me to walk by faith. Regardless of the bridge before me, may I take each step fully confident that You are guiding my feet. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • I’m Asking You

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    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.”

    Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”  JOHN 21:17-23

    Insight

    Did you catch the bombshell Jesus just dropped in the lap of Peter? Do you understand the magnitude of what Peter is finding out?

    Jesus is telling Peter how he is going to die. Right after confessing his love for Christ, Peter gets the startling news that there is a cross awaiting him in the future.

    In essence, Jesus is saying, “Peter, if you truly love me, I want you to be aware of something. It’s going to cost you greatly. Life isn’t going to be easy. In fact, you are going to give up your life to obey me.”

    Peter’s reaction to this news is priceless. I don’t know about you, but it helps me to see the human side of Peter. Probably in a daze, Peter looks around and sees John following after them. You can almost feel his mind working. After hearing those hard words, Peter plays the comparison game.

    So, he speaks up and asks, “Alright Jesus, I get it…I’m going to be crucified. But, what about him? You know…the one you love. Does he get the same deal? Or did I get the short end of the stick? If I am going to get crucified, it’s only fair that he joins me.”

    And just like a parent, Jesus responds, “Don’t concern yourself with John. I’ll deal with him. It’s none of your business anyway. If I want him to live forever, WHAT IS THAT TO YOU? Right now, I am asking if you will follow me?”

    You can’t blame the way Peter reacts. It’s not the greatest news to hear that your faith can at times be painful. Wouldn’t you halt in your tracks if you got the same news? Wait a minute Jesus; no one told me sacrifice was part of this Christian deal. Isn’t the purpose of my faith just about making my life easier, to give me better self-esteem and so all of my plans go exactly the way I want? Be honest for a moment: How do you respond when you hear Jesus say in Luke 9:23 that “if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me?”

    The reality is we often place parameters on what we are willing to give up for Christ. We desire faith on our terms. But, what is just as devastating to our faith is the comparison game. We constantly look to see how we stack up against everyone else. And while we are busy comparing, God is trying to get our attention and remind us that he has given each one of us a task to do. He’s given you a job tailored specifically for you. The question you must ask yourself is are you willing to trust Him and do the job He has given to you, regardless of the cost?

    Reflection

    • What parameters do you place on what you are willing to give up for Christ? Why are you reluctant to give up control in this area?

    Prayer

    God, enable me to see that the cost of living for You pales in comparison to the grace and love You’ve poured out for me. Allow me to be strong when You ask me to step out in faith. Give me the courage to be bold in response to the personal call You have given me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Every Right

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    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Philippians 2:3-8

    Insight

    As of late, parenting my five-year-old has been a mammoth challenge.  As much as she was excited about kindergarten, the reality of an early alarm and the need to be still for long periods of time means that, while fine at school, she comes home and unloads her frustrations on everyone around her.  She screams, cries, wails, and throws things.  To say this has been a challenge of my patience is a monumental understatement.

    Some days I preach to myself, “Remain calm.  Be king and loving yet clear about my authority and expectations.”  Other days, I can only muster, “Jesus, help me!”   And sometimes, regretfully, I have given myself over to the frustration and found myself jumping on her crazy-train, becoming angry and threatening my hand.

    But the truth is, if at any particular moment the only power I have over my children are my hands, then I really have nothing at all.

    Where do we draw our motivation for surrendering to the authority of God?  If it is fear of a heavy hand looming over us, we are missing the essence of what it means to live under His authority and in a real, active relationship with Him.  In the short-term it may control our behavior but it has no sustaining power to shape our hearts.

    I think this is why Jesus set aside His power and control when He walked the earth.  He knew that the motivation of obedience springs from a relationship.  Scripture teaches us that He “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”

    Jesus could have asserted His authority yet He humbled Himself and set aside His privilege, power, and control to the point of death.  Most people grasp desperately to hold onto to those very things, but Christ is asking us to let them go.

    His authority was not demonstrated through threat and coercion but through humbleness, servanthood, and considering others as better than Himself.  These values make up the foundation of a healthy and God-honoring relationship.

    He had every right to assert power and control, yet He chose not to.  He was teaching that our motivation for obedience must flow from a deeper well.  An attempt to keep (or enforce) rules will prove hollow without the reliance on a relationship.

    As we come to understand more about the ways of God in the Bible, we can see that He values freedom.  He never intended our robotic obedience but asks for our deep-rooted trust in His will and rule.  As we grow in our relationships, we will see that the more we are willing to submit to the rule of God the more we will experience the peace of God.

    Reflection

    • The way we think about authority is inextricably linked to how we think about God. If our understanding of authority has been shaped through coercion, threat, and control, then our temptation is to see God in the same way and to use our authority in the same manner.  Reread Philippians 2:3-8 and think about how Jesus defined and used His authority.
    • We carry forth a God-given mission to reflect God’s image.  Claiming Christ is a large responsibility because He desires that we model what it means to live under His rule upon the earth.  He has given us authority over our lives, our bodies, our affections and our little corners of the world.  How will we use it?  Will we use it to exalt ourselves beyond our places as creatures of God or will we follow Christ and use it to exalt others, exalt our Creator, and the values of His kingdom?

    Prayer

    Lord, help me to wisely use the authority You have given me. Help me to stop seeing authority as a way of controlling behavior. Help me to see it as a way to empower others, especially my children, to live free and full. In Your name, Amen.  

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • Not The End…The Beginning

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    You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 118:68

    You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done. Genesis 50:20

    When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-20

    Insight

    Submitting to God’s authority isn’t just that we’re supposed to let God be our King. It means that we give Him authority over everything. (Which is almost silly because as Christians, we believe that He already is in authority over everything. Shouldn’t we already trust that He is good and we should submit to Him? It’s not always that simple though.)

    When I was younger, I got really sick. Not just the stay home for a week with a cold sick, but scary sick. The unknown kind of sick. I spent months in and out of the hospital, going to different specialists, getting test after test done to try and figure out what was wrong. I was just a kid. Being that young and dealing with that kind of uncertainty was so scary and painful. But God used it.

    I learned to submit to His authority through this experience. The fact that I was in the hospital for weeks at a time with no diagnosis, just tests and procedures and more tests and more medicines and more bad results shook me. But instead of letting the negative circumstances drag me away from God, I held on to Him. I trusted that He is God and He is good and He is for me.

    God used that situation to focus my heart on Him, to teach me that when I try to grasp for control of things in my life there is a glass ceiling that I will hit every time. But, when I let go of control and hold things with open hands submitting the authority to God saying, “Here you go God, I trust that you will work in this,” the ceiling disappears and God can transform a situation that I’m trying so hard to work out into something I never could have imagined. He transforms it into something so much more meaningful.

    God is God in every area of our lives. He is God when we don’t have enough money to pay the bills. He is God when we let bitterness take root in our hearts for that job we didn’t get. He is God when we lose someone we love. He is God when we get that bad news from the doctor that we were praying not to hear. He is God. The end.

    But it’s not the end. It’s the beginning.

    I can see how easy it is to look at what the Bible says about God being good and then look at our circumstances and think, but really? Even in this is He good? Even in my pain and in my struggle and in my doubt. Is He still good? The answer is YES. It’s absolutely not the end. God created life so He gets to define it. Like Mike preached in his message to start out the series: God is our foundation for hope and He is solid. If we build our life on the promises of God, we can know that He is there when everything else crumbles and falls away. He is God. Trusting that He is always God and He is always good does allow hope to rise in our hearts in the midst of the hardest stuff that we deal with.

    When I first got sick I felt hopeless and heartbroken. Was this what God had planned for me? If so, how is He still good? But through drawing near to Him in that circumstance God taught me not only that He provides for me, but that He loves me and that He blessed me with this struggle to give Him glory.

    Reflection

    • What area of your life are you not submitting to God?
    • What negative circumstance has God placed in your life to use for good?

    Prayer

    God, I trust you. I choose to submit to your authority in all areas of my life—even the confusing and painful areas. I ask that you would give me comfort and strength as I lay down these struggles at your feet. You are God and you are good. Thank you for teaching me to trust you with everything. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

    PC3 writer Kayla Hohos wrote today’s devotional.

  • Cracking Under Pressure

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    The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25

    Insight

    Throughout the Bible, we are commanded to deal with our mindset by paying attention to what our mind is focused on.  This is where we get ourselves into trouble.  We don’t set our minds on anything so it is free to drift on whatever seems to deserve the most attention. When we are faced with a difficult decision or things we cannot control, we get consumed with pressure.

    Sometimes this pressure comes from within. The pressure is fueled by believing two destructive myths. First, we believe we can control more than we think. We get angry and frustrated from trying to control the things we can’t. Then there is the “messiah” myth that leads us to believe we contribute more than we actually do. If we don’t act, no one else will. If I don’t spring into action, nothing will get solved. If I don’t make the right decision, then everyone is doomed for failure.

    Too often when we consider faith or trust we tend to wait and see if God will do something.  Then, and only, then will we respond to the thing that He has done.  We think of faith as “observe and decide.” This is why we are often frustrated and paralyzed in our walk with God.

    Why? Because He doesn’t invite us to observe and decide, but rather to taste and see. Psalm 34:8 says,”O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” It is an interesting connection.  You don’t see with your tongue and you don’t taste with your eyes.

    Taste and see is an invitation to experience.  You see because you have experienced.  This is what God is drawing us towards.  This is exactly how faith is described in 2 Corinthians 5:7. We are told to “walk by faith, not by sight.”

    According to this verse, we are called to walk by faith, at the expense of seeing with our eyes.  When the pressure is on you, you are not going to be able to sit and observe.  You have to step out and taste – then you will see.  Faith operates as the way you perceive the world around you and sense God’s work in that world.

    When we walk with Him, we find Him to be a blessing to us as we take refuge in Him.  So walk by faith — taste and see. We need a new perspective in those moments when pressure is consuming us. When we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders and all we want to do is freak out, we must taste and see that Lord is good by casting our cares on Him.

    Reflection

    • Where do you feel the weight of the world placed on our shoulders?
    • What pressures are you facing? How can you tell whether they are internal or external pressures?

    Prayer

    God, all too often I put the weight of the world on my shoulders. But, that is not what I was meant to bear. Instead of cracking under the pressure, may I lay everything down at Your feet. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Tried and True Methods

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    For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.  Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Psalm 86:5-10

    Insight

    “A people that values privileges over principles soon loses both.” Dwight Eisenhower said this in his first inaugural address as President of the United States. Human beings have long tread this tumultuous path.  

    In David’s day, his prayers and psalms reveal he was always pitted against insolence: “a band of ruthless men” out for blood, ill-meaning vindicators, or some other adversity. In multiple psalms, we can note a “why me, God?” mentality. And like us, those in David’s day often felt compelled to take matters into their own hands. This is when things get dangerous.

    Consider a student of grammar. Having to regard grammar as an authority for all things communicative is not only viewed as mundane but despised or even rejected by many. Imagine what all a grammar student might need to do: label parts of speech in a sentence, diagram sentences or form “grammar trees,” snuff out bad verb tenses, attribution, or those pesky dangling modifiers. All these arduous practices would likely vexing to the writer of a long research paper or communicator preparing a speech to a big audience. However, when the writer or speaker enters an abyss of words and paragraphs, possessing some of the tools of grammar becomes a game-changer. Otherwise, he or she is flailing, fighting a tsunami of limitations and guessing.

    A Miles Davis record is packed with wowing improvisations and rich melodies. Without a love for jazz and adopting the bigger principles of music, Davis would have had nowhere near the command of such amazing pieces.

    David would never have been the prominent figure he is without reaching out to God in unmistakable desperation. “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day…in the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.” He allows God to come beside him in a glaring state of vulnerability. Such was the scenario for other important psalmists mapping out a satisfying life amid the depths of “woe is me” conditions.

    In the same way, God wants us to put His ways above our own perceived excellence. Fighting authority in times of trouble is suffocating. As humans though, it is hard not to question or overlook authority.

    Maybe it’s someone struggling with a career path or dealing with a life-dominating sin. It might be someone who is simply grappling with guilt and questions for his or her lifestyle. Often times our own manufactured worries drive our antagonism of God’s authority. We worry God will send us to a faraway land we would rather not go or have us give up our time on a Saturday. Scary! Trust in this truth–welcoming God’s will brings prosperity and freedom.

    If we want to remain crediting ourselves for our gains, we must also accept we will be fighting a heavily fortified enemy in attempting to justify our sin and selfishness. It’s an uphill battle with no resolution in sight.

    If we truly believe authority is meant to empower and not to oppress, we should look to an almighty God of all nations. Obedience to God opens gateways to blessings. In other words, when we choose to walk with the God who is “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” He exalts us for it.

    When we learn to practice and appreciate God’s principles, we experience a free sense of life. We know what is possible and what we can do (all things!). We are not rather lost in a sea of confusion, guessing at ways to break the bondage of sin, or drafting the futile plans of eradicating our own hardship. Recall David’s words in Psalm 86. He tells of God doing “wondrous” things and that He alone is God. Walking with God and giving over things like sin and guilt to him delivers us from the confusion. We have to let God love us and be close though. It starts with letting Him in.

    Reflection

    • If God’s will is freeing, how will you go about implementing His authority in your life?
    • Where might God be challenging you to abandon your own ideas and welcome His will?

    Prayer

    Father God, I understand sin brings death, and I cannot justify my every step on my own. I lay down my frustrations and guilt to You. Please afford me the courage and faith to wait on You. Help me to learn more about Your heart and Your ways, Oh Lord. Lead me in Your sovereign power. In Jesus’ name, amen.

    PC3 writer Adam King wrote today’s devotional.

  • Breaking Point

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    The Lord God put the man in the Garden of Eden. He put him there to farm its land and take care of it. The Lord God gave the man a command. He said, “You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden. But you must not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you do, you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:15-17

    Insight

    When I was growing up as a kid, I pushed the limits in all areas of life. There were times when I would talk back to my teachers, blatantly disobey my parents, and steal posters from the book fair at school. Yes that really happened. It’s embarrassing to reveal, but it’s made me into the person I am today.

    There is a particular situation that happened which has stuck out to me over the years. My parents had me in afterschool daycare as a child and I was that kid if you know what I mean. I was a hardheaded child and I loved to push the limits with every situation that arose.

    One day an adult leader asked me to start sweeping the floor of the school cafeteria because it was almost time for everyone to leave. At first things were going well…until the leader wanted to show me how to sweep the floor in a more effective way. My response was “I know how to sweep a floor!” I literally yelled at this leader as a 5th grader. I had hit my breaking point. I was immediately sent to time-out in the corner of the cafeteria.

    During this moment, I felt like my leader was evil. How could he tell me a better way to sweep the floor? Does he know who I am? How dare him! I thought that my leader was just trying to make me mad, but in reality he was trying to make me better. He wanted the best for me.

    This is what we find in the Garden of Eden. God set a limit for man because God wanted the best for him and still does today. It’s not that God was being mean and withholding something good from Adam, but He was withholding something from Adam for his own good. God didn’t want him to die.

    When we push outside the parameters that God designed for how we should live life on this earth, we reach a breaking point.

    We like to push the limits. We think that our way is the best way and that God is trying to withhold something good from us, but the exact opposite is true. God gives us parameters to live life in because He doesn’t want us to hit our breaking point. He wants the best for His children. 

    Reflection

    • What in your life is pushing you to the limit? Is there something that needs to change that God has made you aware of? In what ways can you embrace the parameters that God has put into place so you don’t reach your breaking point?

    Prayer

    Dear Father, please help me make the necessary changes that need to be made so I can embrace Your will in my life. Help me to release anything that I am holding onto that is toxic in my life. May You change my heart to embrace the limitations that You give because it is Your will and for my own good. In Jesus name, Amen.

    PC3 writer Davey Hatcher wrote today’s devotional.

  • Calling The Shots

    By in Devotions on

    “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

    These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

    Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

    Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

    To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations – that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:18-29

    Insight

    Giving our heart over to God requires the vulnerability and willingness to allow access to its deepest place. With those blazing eyes, Jesus sees and knows everything about us. He sees what we are able to hide from everyone else – our motives, our desires, our fears and our dreams.

    What Jesus sees taking place in Thyatira is a community growing in good deeds. They were loving towards others. As far as their actions were concerned, this community displayed a servant’s heart. Yet, we learn an important lesson as we read on: behavior is important, but so is belief. Deeds can’t replace doctrine. Just like the believers in this city living 2,000 years ago, we all wrestle with compromising our beliefs whether to fit in, gain acceptance or take the path of least resistance.

    Looking at the church in Thyatira, Jesus sees a big problem taking place: “You TOLERATE Jezebel” (v.20). A woman inside the community was proclaiming that immorality wasn’t that big of a deal. Unfortunately, many of the believers were falling for her schemes and drawn to her teachings. It’s unclear if her actual name was Jezebel or not. John could be using that name to symbolize what she was promoting.

    In the Old Testament, there was an actual woman named Jezebel. She was a powerful individual who held political, spiritual and financial influence over the people of Israel. She painted herself as more enlightened than everyone else due to her tolerance. Everything was allowed in her book. Jezebel encouraged others to worship false gods. She sold a watered down, pick-and-choose spirituality that centered on the principle “if it feels good, do it.”

    Now, inside the church at Thyatira, there was a woman pulling the same type of stunt. She was using her power to push her message of compromise, comfort, and convenience. It is understandable why this way of thinking was appealing. We love the “come as you are” aspect of the Gospel message. God sees the worst in us, yet loves us anyway. No matter your past, no matter your baggage, no matter your failures, You have value in God’s eyes.

    We run to this loving acceptance. But, suddenly we halt in our tracks. God loves us like we are, but He also wants to change us. So, we resist. Transforming our character, mind and heart can be a painful process. There are moments when we read God’s word and we catch ourselves saying, “This is hard. It’s trying to change me. Do I really have to do what it says?”

    Rather than enabling God’s Word to change us, we are prone to compromise our beliefs in a foolish attempt to change God’s Word. We are a broken, helpless people trying to call the shots while God just stands there asking us to repent. Jesus Christ is all about love, but He is also about repentance too. Instead of the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever changing, He is asking us to change and trust Him with our whole heart.

    Reflection

    • Where are you most vulnerable to compromise your belief system? Why is this a place of vulnerability for you?

    Prayer

    God, if I am honest, there are behaviors, actions and thoughts of mine I tolerate and enjoy. There are places in my heart I don’t want to give You access. I desire to have faith on my terms and those terms involve me staying the same. Rather than being broken over my sin, I tend to tolerate it. Instead, may I realize You love me as I am, but You love me so much You won’t let me stay the same. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.