Devotions

  • Hungry For Answers

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    I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:24-26

    Insight

    I’m not one for sitting around. Being a mama, I’m always anticipating the needs of my children. Mama, I need a Band-Aid or Mama, I need some more milk or Mama, I need you to tie my shoe. Staying on the move has become the norm. Even in my waiting, I’m moving. While standing in line at the grocery store, I sway back and forth. While sitting at the doctor’s office, I tap my feet.

    Are my movements speeding up the cosmic forces of the universe, causing my turn to come any sooner? Of course not, yet I find the actions comforting.

    I realize now that my actions are a way for me to try and control the situation. I’ve done this not only in the practical areas of life but spiritual areas as well.

    Waiting can be frustrating because we feel like we have no say or control of the process in which we advance. We want things to move forward, and when they don’t, we’re tempted to take matters into our own hands. But when we do this, we’re relying on our strength instead of God’s.

    As we learned Sunday, God will sometimes put our lives on hold, so we can learn to hold on to Him. God doesn’t want us exhausting ourselves, trying to make things happen. He wants us to be still and know that He is God. 

    This doesn’t mean we check-out, but rather lean into the ways of the Lord. Oswald Chambers wrote, “Waiting is not sitting with folded hands doing nothing, but learning to do what we are told.”  Seek God in the waiting. As we hunger for answers, we will be satisfied in His presence.

    Reflection

    • Do you find yourself trying to speed up the waiting process? If so, how does that leave you feeling?
    • Is the Lord your portion? In other words, are you delighting yourself in communion with God, or are you focused on feeling stuck?

    Prayer 

    Heavenly Father, when we try to hurry things along, remind us that we are working from our own strength, leaving us feeling exhausted. When we relinquish control, we are allowing You to work in the wait. May we seek you and find you, become our portion so we are satisfied by You alone. In Your name, Amen.

    PC3 writer Mandy Hughes wrote today’s devotional.

  • In The Waiting

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    I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

    He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2

    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

    Insight

    No one loves to wait. We all know what it’s like to be stuck, or to feel stuck, like everything is out of our control and we’re just sitting tight waiting on someone or something else to move so we can get on with life and advance to the next thing. Waiting for something we really want is hard. We’ll often take shortcuts because we’re trying to skip the waiting if at all possible. To quote the famous theologian, Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

    Normally, when we’re waiting, we’re not waiting on God, we’re waiting on ourselves, or our circumstances to change. We look around wondering what is blocking or holding up our progress. If we’re not careful we will miss out on something really special if we’re always trying to “hurry things up.” The discipline of waiting is an important part of life. It’s where we learn to trust and display faith. It’s where we come to the end of ourselves. During these times, whether we realize it or not, God is posturing Himself to help when He hears our cry. Sometimes God says, “Hang on” so that we can learn how to “hold on.”

    Instead of trying to speed things up and get unstuck, God is wanting to do something deep inside of our heart that shapes and forms our character and dependence upon Him. Even in the midst of waiting, God is doing something. He’s shaping our mind and heart so that we can be an expression of Him.

    When God says wait, it’s not because He doesn’t care or because He doesn’t want us to be blessed. He isn’t withholding His goodness, joy, or peace. God utilizes times of waiting to shape and form us into complete dependence upon Him. God uses waiting to teach us how to trust His provision.

    In order to see this, we must shift our perspective. We tend to view waiting as if it’s a delay, but the two are different. The word delay means to hinder, impeded or to hold up progress while waiting is the act of pausing for purpose and preparation. By being still we see God as God. We must shift our perspective from waiting to worship.

    Our waiting is not just about us. It’s about the rest of the world also learning to see, hear, and trust God. It’s about pointing others to worship Him. Our focus should shift to God and what He is trying to do, instead of our own inconvenience and what’s happening to us. The way to begin doing this is by focusing on the people and circumstances around us. We’ve got to move from just focusing on ourselves to focusing outside of ourselves. Growth happens when we stop viewing waiting as if it’s not a part of the plan and begin to realize that it is, in fact, a very strategic part of God’s plan.

    Reflection

    • Where is God trying to get your attention by causing you to wait? How would a perspective shift alter your response to these circumstances?

    Prayer

    God, when I find myself in a holding pattern, I’m often impatient. My mind begins to race about what is impeding my progress. I want nothing more than to move and rid myself of the circumstances I encounter. Yet, it is in those moments, where You are urging me to be still and know that You are God. Let me pay attention to those times of waiting and be curious about what You are up to. May my waiting turn into worship. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    This devotional was inspired by Danny Roger’s message “In The Waiting.”

  • Keep In Step

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    This might shock you, but I’m a horrible dancer. God has gifted me in many different ways, but He’s humbled me by giving me two left feet. It is safe to say that my spiritual gift isn’t rhythm or the ability to keep a beat.

    It’s a good thing YouTube and cell phone cameras weren’t created when I was a teenager. This saved me from the embarrassment of my renditions of the Chicken Dance at prom being captured on tape for all the world to see.

    A misstep on the dance floor might result in a few shocked looks or, at worse, stepping on someone’s toes. Yet, in our quest for growth and experiencing a full life, our souls being out of sync causes us to lose sight of how God changes the human heart.

    In turn, we speed up our steps and become the one responsible for the transformation. Prayers suddenly become demands and not humble requests. Human effort quickly replaces a reliance on the Holy Spirit.

    When the change doesn’t come or we meet resistance, we eventually stop moving, and let the song come to an end. We fool ourselves into believing that “this is just the way I am.”

    It is true that our natural inclination is to resist change, but this doesn’t mean growth is a lost cause. Having been made for God and by God, we are designed to reflect His love. Every day we are either growing into what we are made to be or shrinking from it.

    So, how do we gain rhythm and keep in step with the Holy Spirit moving in our lives? The search for true change begins and ends with God.

    Today we want you to begin praying for your heart and soul and aligning them with what the Bible says they need in order to be transformed.

    Pray that your soul will be inclined and receptive towards drawing close to God through the reading of His Word. 

    Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever! Deuteronomy 5:29

    In the midst of reading God’s Word, pray that your eyes will be opened and enlightened to the truths found within. Ask that your limited perspective will collide with God’s reality.

    Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18

    I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you. Ephesians 1:18

    This encounter will cause disruption and expose areas of your heart and soul that remain in the darkness. Pray that you will have the courage to bring these places into the light so you can walk with an undivided heart.

    Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11

    Growth doesn’t happen over night. It is a life-long journey. Pray for the strength and endurance needed to stay engaged in the process of your heart beginning to reflect God’s.

    For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12

    In the midst of the journey, we can be lured away and look to lesser things to find momentary fulfillment. We are quick to settle for cheap imitations. Pray that you will be satisfied with God and know that He is enough.

    You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:16

    Your transformation has ramifications on others. Pray that your life will glorify God and point a lost and hurting world towards Him.

    We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:12

    Reflection

    • Of the prayers mentioned above, which is the most difficult and challenging for you to pray and why? 

    Prayer

    God, teach me how to pray in a way that remembers You are the one who guides my step. Instead of relying on my own effort, may I be reminded that it is You who works in me. Open my eyes to see how You are working in my life. Transform my desires. Allow my soul to be satisfied in knowing I am covered by grace. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • To You, From God

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    In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. ROMANS 12:6-8

    Insight

    Thanks to Mark Foland’s “Outside the Box” series these past two Sundays, I actually completed the Spiritual Gifts Assessment. (You can, too by going HERE). It was like taking a pop quiz on the things God has blessed me with.

    My Top 3 are encouragement, faith and intercession. But the assessment goes deeper than a list of personal presents from God. It offers Scripture references for each gift, describes characteristics of people who have each gift, and suggests ways the gifts can be used. In other words, it’s an interesting and useful tool.

    It’s also pretty simple.

    Mark was spot on with his observation that we overcomplicate God’s call on our lives. At least that’s true of me. I often get stuck in “analysis paralysis” and refuse to move. In taking this assessment, I realized that I’m actually using my Top 3 right now. Encouragement, faith and intercession all come into play in premarital mentoring, which I get to do with my husband, and in serving as a coach in the women’s ministry at PC3.

    The thing is, I didn’t clearly know my gifts before signing up for those things. I tried other service opportunities that were not a great fit for me. I’m still glad I tried them, because they gave me practice in venturing beyond my little self-centered world— a place I still retreat to often. But it is getting easier to step out, especially because when I’m “outside the box” I feel more useful to God.

    And that’s what it’s all about. If God chooses to give us gifts, who are we not to open them?  Those of us who are Christians really have no excuses. Do we want to get to the end of our lives only to find a bunch of pretty, unopened packages marked “To You, From God”?

    We don’t have to leave our gifts untouched out of fear or laziness or selfishness. Christ meets us right where we are, stuck in our hesitation, so that we can meet others where they are. He bridges the gap, and He is the best gift of all. 

    Reflection

    • If you haven’t taken the Spiritual Gifts Assessment yet, what’s holding you back?
    • If you have taken it, what is one way you can use one of your top gifts in the next week? (Remember, don’t overthink it!)

    Prayer

    Dear Father in Heaven, You are the great Giver. Help us all to realize our spiritual gifts, not just in an awareness sense, but in a let’s-make-this-REAL sense. You are real, our gifts are real, other people’s needs are real. Work in us and through us to make a real difference. All to the glory of Your Son, who died and rose again for us. Amen.

    PC3 writer Katy Davis wrote today’s devotional.

     

  • Contributor Or Critic?

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     Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

    Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

    Insight

    We often treat shopping for a church like a Black Friday event. As we enter the doors, we drag in our shopping cart. We’ve got a game plan and a long laundry list: engaging worship in a musical style the suits us, a practical sermon message, warm coffee, comfortable seats, a safe environment that keeps our children entertained and friendly (but not too friendly) people, just to name a few. Each box must be checked off or we are on to our next stop.

    Consumerism intrudes and skews our understanding of God’s purpose for the church in our everyday lives. The church can quickly become something we consume and easily dispose of when it fails to meet our long list of needs. We want the church to meet our needs, but at an acceptable cost. This mindset is not something new to our “me first” culture. In 1 Timothy 3:14-15, the Apostle Paul counters several faulty assumptions, temptations, and applications that come from a consumerist approach to church shopping.

    Paul understood a slippery slope begins when one will only stay connected to a church as long as it meets a particular need at an acceptable cost. With this framework, the church is reduced to measurable economic and emotional exchange units. Slowly but surely, God’s purpose for the church is never enjoyed and the meaning of church becomes displaced. Falling short of engaging in the mission and ministry of a local church is falling into a dangerous consumerist exchange between us and the church we are attending.

    Our ownership to the life of the church flows out of our understanding of His church. Finding a local church to attend is not the final destination, but instead, only the starting point in God’s plan for our lives. Paul uses three images to clarify our understanding of the church: (1) household of God (2) a gathering of the living God and (3) a pillar of the truth.

    In a household resides a family. The local church becomes a new and better family for all who are a part of it. Paul is creating a new focus on the family that extends far beyond one’s nuclear relative. The church is God’s intentional intersection where we learn that our family is made up others who are not like us. Even though we are all different, unity is indeed possible and it centers on a faith relationship with Christ. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11) and is drawing all types of people into a relationship with Him, which means every local expression will be filled with a wide variety of likes, dislikes, experiences, and personalities.

    The local church is God’s way of providing for us a new laboratory for learning to love in a new way. Simply put, learning to live life together with others that are not like us, helps kill the sin in our everyday lives and helps us live out love to a world that is hurting and yearning for answers.

    Christians must come together as a local expression of the church and offer a radically different alternative to the hatred and violence. One thing that should be undeniable is that Christ’s church should be known by their love. The early church realized that when Jew & Gentile, slave & free, men & women, and every ethnic group come together under Christ, it was very radical. It can be just as radical today. When you are part of a church, there is no “US” and “THEM,” only “US.”

    Yet, it is not just enough for a group of diverse people to simply gather in a room or building together. Paul’s repetitive use of the term “household” (1 Timothy 3:4,5,12 and Ephesians 2:9) points us to the expectation that every person has a part to play in a household or a family. So when Paul is using the saying we are members of God’s household, he is saying, “God has a specific place for you to be investing in the life of your local church.” Each one of us gets to serve His church in some unique way.

    At the core of every person is an inner thirst for his or her life to matter. We all want to contribute to something that outlasts us; something that changes the trajectory of someone’s life. God has given the local church as a place that will satisfy this longing.

    Of course, this just doesn’t happen by itself. Instead, we have to actively move from a spectator to an investor. We can’t just be a renter; we must be an owner. Owners are in it for the long haul and think about the future often. How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church? Are you a serial church shopper that has resulted in you just being part of the audience or an owner of a new and better family known as the local church?

    Reflection

    • How would you be described when it comes to your commitment to Christ and His church (owner/contributor or renter/critic)?

    Prayer

    God, rather than be a consumer, I desire to be a contributor. I want my life to glorify You. I want to love those around me in such a way that it points them towards the hope that is only found in You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Hardly Hallmark

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    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

    Insight

    If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve heard today’s Scripture recited in some form or fashion. You’d except to see the words of 1 Corinthians 13 inside a Hallmark card or on a poster with adorable kittens.

    We tend to get lost in its flowery language. But, love isn’t all roses and daisies. Love is required in those moments when we find ourselves in the weeds dealing with a strained relationship. Love is a challenge when someone is being a thorn in our side.

    If the other person doesn’t act the way we want them to, we get irritated, frustrated, aggravated, and a host of other descriptions. During this moment, do you know what is needed?

    Quite simply, LOVE.

    There is a tenacity that is required to love others. Relationships are messy. Relationships are difficult. Sometimes there are disagreements. Sometimes feelings get hurt. Sometimes relationships hang in the balance.

    When we are at our wits end with others, we get to love. When we are tempted to be jealous of this person, we get to love. When all they are doing is pushing our buttons, we get to love. When everything in us desires to dredge up the past, we get to love.

    This is easier said then done. Our ability to love others lies in our willingness to embrace Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We don’t have the strength to do it on our own. We must lean on Christ.

    We tend to think we’re loving when things go our way, but we get to love when they don’t. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and endures. Love is defined by the way it finishes: love never fails. 

    Reflection

    • Who are you currently struggling to love? What is driving your attitude towards this person?
    • What would love have you do in this relationship?

    Prayer

    Lord, help me to love. Right now I need to recognize I am loved by You in order to have any hope of loving those around me. Help me to realign my view of love with Your definition. I confess my shallow view of thinking that love is all about my ways and me when it is all about Yours! In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

     

  • Seeing Our Strengths

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    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

    His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

    Insight

    By seeing how God has wired us, we can begin to shift our lens towards our strengths. Yet, this is easier said than done. Our natural inclination is to focus on our weaknesses, be overcome by our insecurities or enable fear to halt us in our tracks. Comparison not only kills our relationships, but our faith as well.

    Instead of getting in the game, we sit on the sidelines as a bench warmer looking at everyone else living out their faith. We are so terrified of making a mistake or misinterpreting God’s will for our lives, that we do nothing. What we fail to realize is that by doing nothing we are already making a huge mistake. Many of us err on the side of safety, comfort, and convenience instead of erring on the side of action.

    We feel ill-equipped to make an impact, but this picture of ourselves goes against what Scripture says. We’ve been given everything we need to go out and be a light in this world. EVERYTHING. We just have to be willing to do something. There’s no point in having convictions if we do nothing about them. God is encouraging us to lay down our insecurities and fears of failure, and instead, work out what is already inside of us.

    We have become overachievers at over-complicating the call that God has for us. We worry so much about creating the right times, the right places, and the right purposes to engage our gifts in ministry. And God is saying, just do something with what you have right where you are by being observant, keeping your lens in front of you and engaging when you see a need.

    The power of the Gospel message is that through God’s grace, Christ now meets us exactly where we are. Then in-turn, if we get past all of the excuses, all of the fears, we can meet others where they are. God is capable of doing things beyond our capabilities. We just need to learn to let go and start working outside of our boxes so that the world can see the hope and freedom that is found in Christ.

    Reflection

    • What tends to be the excuses you use to explain your fears or justify your inactivity? What truth needs to replace these fears?

    Prayer

    God, give me the courage to face my fears and insecurities. Rather than getting bogged down with my weaknesses, may I begin to see life, and my role in it, through the lens of my strengths. You’ve given me everything I need to make an impact in the lives of others. There are needs all around me. Today, I want to be bold and stand in the gap. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    This devotional was inspired by Mark Foland’s message from Part 2 of “Outside The Box.” 

  • Turtlenecks

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    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17

    Insight

    Author Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in our society.” I wish I could go back in time and read this to the 6th-grade version of myself. Maybe, just maybe, that would’ve woken me up and helped me realize the way to be “the man” in middle school was not to have your mom pick out your wardrobe. But, alas, there is no time machine and the old photographs of me dressed in turtlenecks and sweater vests attest to this fact. As sad as it is to say, I was known as “turtleneck guy.” This was my identity. The clothes, every different shade of turtleneck I owned, made this man.

    Clothes are important. They not only cover us, but also in many ways are used to identify us. Maybe you were a prep, goth, grunge, jock, hippie, skater, tomboy, nerd or even a wannabe. Growing up, you were placed in different social circles depending on what you wore. People labeled you based on your labels.

    In today’s passage, Paul speaks of a different type of clothing and how wearing it shapes the way others perceive us. According to Paul, clothes make the relationships.

    Paul isn’t referring to physical clothes like jeans, sweater or a hoodie. Rather, he is encouraging his readers to clothe themselves with Christ’s character. In essence, Paul is saying if we want to invest in the lives of others we better come dressed for the job.

    This isn’t about becoming perfect, achieving some level of moral superiority or getting all our ducks in a row before we can speak words of wisdom to others. Putting on Christ has more to do with our actions and attitude towards the person who we are trying to help.

    How were our words delivered? Were they clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and above else, love? Take it a step further, if those words weren’t received well by the other person, how did we react? How compassionate were we as they talked more openly about their struggles? Did we respond in love? Were we patient when they pushed back on us?

    Sometimes we can answer those questions with a resounding yes. We served as Christ’s ambassador. We died to ourselves. We picked up our cross. We reflected His heart in that moment. However, there are other times when we drop the ball and fail. We respond in anger. We lose our patience. We speak harshly. We pursued our own agenda.

    Please understand those moments aren’t a lost cause. Believe it or not, they serve as another opportunity to minister to that person. It all depends on how we respond. Will we have enough humility to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness from God and the individual? Rather than hide our shortcomings, what if we were transparent about needing God’s grace and being a work in progress? How do you think the other person would respond?

    Our lives should serve as evidence of God’s power to transform the human heart. Without evidence of transformation, our words will fall on deaf ears. God uses not only our words, but also the way we live to speak His truth to others. We’re not just called to speak the truth in love, we are charged with living it out as well. So, today as you go about your business building relationships, clothe yourself with Christ’s heart.

    Reflection

    • When it comes to your relationships, how are you dying to yourself?

    Prayer

    God, may I clothe myself with compassion and kindness. Allow me to exhibit humility in my relationships. When I’m reaching out to others, let kindness, gentles and self-control define my effort. I pray that I am quick to forgive and seek forgiveness when need be. But, above else, may Your amazing love serve as the foundation of my words and actions. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

     

  • What’s Your Dirt?

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    Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” He said to him, “Go in peace.” 2 Kings 5:15-19

    Insight

    Today’s scripture passage tells the story of Naaman, the Syrian general and his encounter with the prophet Elisha in the land of Israel.  Naaman was a ‘great man’ in ‘high favor’ in his home country of Syria where he served the King of Syria.  He was also a leper.  Naaman learns from one of his wive’s servants (an Israeli girl) that he might find healing in Israel from a prophet.  So Naaman gets permission from his king, loads up a convoy full of gifts and heads to Israel seeking the prophet and his healing.  The King of Israel admits that he is unable to heal Naaman and instead, points him to Elisha who instructs him to dip into the Jordan river seven times to ‘wash, and be clean’.  Naaman, after some grumbling, eventually obeys and behold, he is cured of his leprosy and made clean!

    But what happens next is interesting.  Now clean, cured from his awful plague, Naaman has a decision to make.  Acknowledging that the God of Israel, the one true God, is real and all powerful- capable of healing, he can choose to stay in Israel and worship… or return to Syria and be forced to pray in the temple of Rimmon where his king bows down.  Naaman can remove himself from society and the life he had with high position and favor, or he can return with his healing and privately acknowledge the God of Israel.  Yet, there is a third way!  Perplexing as it seems to us, Naaman loads up with ‘two mule loads of earth’ and vows no longer to worship false gods or pray to Syrian idols, and then he heads home.

    So, what’s with the dirt?  Scripture doesn’t spell out exactly how Naaman intends to use the dirt from Israel.  Some commentators speculate that he will spread it before he bows down as a symbol of the God in Israel to whom he has pledged his faith.  Or maybe he intends to always keep some nearby as testament to his new life with God, but however the expression- it is radically unique to Naaman and his experience with God.

    We offer our gifts, we lift up our positions, we humbly posture ourselves to be instruments of His grace in this place where God has put us.  Doing so requires a deep connection to our Father in prayer and a spirit that is willing to obey, no matter how ‘outside the box’ the expression may look.  We take our direction from our loving Lord and trust that He will use us in His great plan to reach others for Christ… we just have to be willing to listen to Him; to look outside the box; and to step in faith into our world.

    The expression of Jesus in us and through us is unique to all of us.  What’s your dirt?

    Reflection

    • How does your faith express itself?
    • How do you ‘work out your salvation’?
    • What in your life bears witness to God and the gift of grace in Jesus? What’s your dirt?

    Prayer

    Lord, help me to be public in my faith.  Help me to integrate my private life, full of Your joy and truth, into the world where You have placed me.  Give me ears for Your voice, eyes for unique opportunities and the willingness to enter in- that more people would come to know You.  Amen.

    PC3 writer Katie Ridd wrote today’s devotional.

  • Seek The Welfare Of The City

    By in Devotions on

    But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

    “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:7,10-11

    Insight

    You cannot seek the welfare of the city from a distance. It requires personal investment where you are allowing walls to be broken and individuals to be known and loved. Rather than pushing inward, Christ-centered community reaches out. The imagery of true community is an extended hand. The object of our mission is people.

    The fuel to love others and seek the welfare of the city comes from knowing we have been trusted with the integrity of His image and influence of His love. This takes place when we see our personal life change as a part of the bigger picture. Having felt the amazing love of Christ firsthand, we desire for others to experience the one thing that has transformed our lives.

    As God molds our individual heart, He invites us to bring His message of hope to the places where we have been planted. The love we have experienced demands the response of making room in our lives to come alongside others who are hurting, lost and without hope.  Reflecting a personal God requires entering people’s worlds. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul speaks of this relational aspect of change when he says, “we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our very own selves.”

    Each part of the body participating in this effort is critical in reflecting His image. If one part is not fully engaged it lessens the overall influence and impact of the body. He has drawn you to Himself and placed you in this body to participate in reaching those you know and helping them walk with God.

    This makes reaching and helping people in the places where you have been planted all the more important. For you, this might mean raising children in a way that honors God, being a light in the secular workplace, or caring for a friend who is wrestling with some difficult issues. God has placed you where you are for a purpose. It is our job to pray for eyes to see where we have influence and impact in the lives of others.

    Like Christ, we must be willing to move into relationships with those that are in the places where you are planted. Yet, a surprise twist comes at the end of our efforts to impact others and affect change in their lives. God uses our obedience in moving into other people’s lives to produce change in our own and breathe life into our small group communities. This is where He stretches you and molds you into His image.

    Through our attempts to love others, God stretches us, teaches us and reveals more of His character. The depth we crave in our walk with Him develop as our heart slowly becomes His own. This takes place all by following a simple command: seek the welfare of the city.

    Reflection

    • How are you seeking the welfare of this city?
    • In what ways are you impacted those around you?

    Prayer

    God, help me to see the needs of those around me. Give me the eyes to notice where I can be used. May I put my faith in action. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.