Devotions

  • Seasoned

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

    We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

    Insight

    My first job out of graduate school was as a caseworker for Child Protective Services.  CPS works with children who have been abused or neglected or who are at risk of abuse and neglect.  The stakes were high in every conversation I had with children and parents.  It was tricky terrain to navigate.  I wanted to communicate the goal of family preservation while also making sure that expectations for parents were crystal clear.  I felt the weight of every word.  The lives of men, women, and children hung in the balance.

    As a social worker it was critical to learn how to effectively communicate.  As a Christian, I believe it is even more critical.

    The Bible tells us that, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”  Quite honestly, sometimes I can’t believe that God trusts His image with people.  People are crazy!  I mean, does He see what people are saying on His behalf on street signs and social media?

    Of course He does.  That was a snarky and rhetorical question.  A question prompted by the repeated observation of Christians trying to make a valid point in an invalid way.  I am guilty of this too.  However, I am learning that the way we say things is just as important as what we say.

    The way we present ourselves and the way we talk about God is crucial.  Just as it was at CPS, the fate of people hang in the balance.  The way we speak truth is either repelling or alluring.  It is rarely, if ever, neutral.

    Not only is it important to know what we believe, but it is important to learn how to communicate our beliefs with grace and wisdom.  When it comes to hot-button issues in our culture, we are to be wise in how we have conversations and communicate God’s truth.  “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).

    Full of grace and seasoned with salt.  We do not have to be an expert in theology or even skilled in conversation to be full of grace.  What does it mean to “season with salt”?  To answer this we need to consider how salt was used in biblical times.  It was not your modern-day, refined table salt.  Salt was used to preserve the life of fresh fish and vegetables so they wouldn’t spoil.  It was also used for healing as unrefined salt has beneficial trace minerals.  Seasoning a conversation with salt means that we are to be an instrument of life and healing.  I don’t think we can do this by having a heated “conversation” over social media.  We need to have difficult, grace-filled conversations face to face and eye to eye and always in the context of a relationship.

    Taking stands on issues is not more important than the people living them.  Our only goal should be to help people know Christ. Instead of using the Bible to destroy or prove a point, use it as a basis of conversation within the framework of a relationship.  Learn to ask good questions of those who live differently than you (open-ended ones are best).  Be willing to listen more than you speak.  Understand that you can learn something even if you vehemently disagree with someone.  Good conversations build and strengthen people, they never destroy.

    Reflection

    • Our words should affirm the truth about God but also the value of the people He created in His image.  Examine your heart to see if it reveals the attitude of this Pharisee:  “The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector’’ (Luke 18:11).  Repent if you see pride in your heart and ask the Lord to change it.  Ask Him to help you see people the way He does.
    • One of my favorite things about God is that He has not dumped the entire box of His Truth on my lap at once.  He has revealed Himself, little by little, in the context of our relationship.  He has loved me through my dumb choices and outright disobedience.  He even died for me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).  Truly believing this truth will change the way we speak to and love others.

    Prayer

    Lord, thank you for dying for me while I was still a sinner.  Thank you for loving me, a sinner, now.  Please give me wisdom when I speak to others about You.  Help me to pause before I speak and ask for Your help.  I want to be better at conversations because I want people to know You better.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • You Are A Mist

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    Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

    Insight

    I am named after my dad’s brother, Uncle Gene, who was tragically killed in a plane crash.  He left his wife and two young children behind.  He died before I was born but because I am his namesake, I often think about him.

    By the time I graduated from college, several aunts and uncles and all of my grandparents had passed (one I was never able to meet).  My father died my junior year of college and a few years after graduation, we buried our first son.

    Unfortunately, during the early years of my life, death was more of an ever-present possibility than a far-away someday.  I am not writing this because I want your sympathy.   In fact, even through death, God gives beautiful gifts of clarity and perspective.  It strips away so much about life that is not really important and quickly teaches you to focus on what truly matters – God and others.  That’s really the bottom line of life.

    I write this with a bit of fear and trembling but it has been 15 years since someone in my immediate family or family of origin has died. This feels like pure grace.  I thank God for it.  But as time passes and I become further away from the deaths of my loved ones, I wonder if I am losing the gift of its perspective.  (I know that I am when I begin to sweat the small stuff.)

    “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

    Our lives are mist.  Mist appears then quickly disappears.  Here one minute, gone the next.  In Christ, this life is not the end but it is surely fragile.  Our time is ticking because we don’t have forever on this earth.

    Every now and then God reminds me of the fragility of life and I have been reminded lately.  Our current series, Handle With Care, has prompted me to ask myself, “If I knew my time was limited, what conversations would I want to have?  Are there people that I need to say things to?  Do I need to say I’m sorry?  Do I need to tell someone I love them?  To whom do I need to say thank you”?

    Crucial conversations are important because people are important and our time is short. 

    I am learning to live life mindful of death, yet not afraid of it.  Living mindfully means making the most of my relationships and opportunities for conversation.  Understanding life is not a promise, but a gift given by a gracious Giver, helps me to hold my relationships in their proper perspective, treasuring each one as a gift and not a guarantee.

    Speak the words, give the hugs, swallow your pride, and make amends.  “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’ – when you already have it with you” (Proverbs 3:27-28).  I pray we freely give all of our love today.

    Reflection

    • “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6).  For much of my life, I didn’t really understand this passage.  Life and death seemed more like a random spin of the wheel than a purposed occurrence.  When we truly understand that it is the Lord who is the creator of life and determiner of death, it changes how we see Him and others.  Whether God wills or allows death, we can trust that He has purpose in it.  Spend time thanking God for the people in your life who have touched your heart.  Reach out to someone and tell them how much they mean to you.
    • If you believed you would die tomorrow, what conversations would you want to have?  Which relationships come to mind?

    Prayer

    Lord, thank you for holding the keys of life and death.  Help us to live with an understanding that our lives are short.  Grant us the bravery to have the conversations that really matter.  I pray that we are compelled by Your love and Your love alone.  In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • A Better Road

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    Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven. Jude 1:22-23 (The Message)

    Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

    Insight

    About a year and a half ago, I felt a bit stuck in life. I wasn’t proactive in my classes, I wasn’t investing in friendships, and I was caught in a destructive routine. I was consistently stressing about what I didn’t do yesterday and all I needed to do tomorrow. My ways of relieving stress included taking naps to give my brain rest or binge drinking for an emotional booster. Needless to say, I wasn’t a follower of Christ nor did I actually relieve any stress.

    I thought so negatively of myself: “I am not smart enough, I am a mess. I am not a good friend.” Those statements would repeat on and on.

    Throughout this time, I had one friend who really saw me differently. This friend didn’t sit back and let me continue to dwell on the negatives. Rather, he pursued our friendship. He was more concerned about the person I was becoming than who I thought I was every time I failed.

    A few months later, he helped me plan my next step; to go to church. That wasn’t the finish line for him. He kept walking alongside me to help me feel comfortable in this new community. A few months later, he gave me a letter explaining the progress he saw in my heart and the potential I had. He affirmed that I wasn’t a stress ball; I was compassionate. I wasn’t a mess; I was lost. I wasn’t a bad friend; I needed good friends.

    I still have the letter.

    Why? Because, the words encouraged me to commit to a better road than the path I was on. It challenged me to be a child of Christ and to have a lifestyle more worthy of glorifying His name. All because God used this person to invest in me.

    As Mike mentioned on Sunday, we’ve got to get in the pool and learn to swim together by finding a common purpose in our conversations. But, before we make that leap, let’s rewind back to the beginning of this year to the series, It Starts With One. In that series, we learned the world is full of individuals who are seekers, starters, growers, close to Christ, and investors. We need to recognize where we stand as well as where other people may stand. This will help define what could be influencing the cause of the issue and will help define how we can best help them right where they are.

    If we don’t stop to think about this, our minds may be quick to justify how we are better than the other person or how they aren’t capable of change. We must posture ourselves to see the other person with hope. We must commit to helping them take their next step. Most of all, we must have patience because change does not usually occur immediately.

    Reflection

    • We are all broken and always in need of encouragement. Who do you know that needs encouragement and to be met with kind words?
    • How will you commit to make the conversation happen and follow through afterwards?

    Prayer

    God, remind me that You have made each person unique and with purpose. Cleanse my vision so that I do not see others with harsh judgments, but hope, and fill me with your patience. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    PC3 writer Casey Pham wrote today’s devotional.

  • The Heart of Who I Am

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    A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45

    Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32

    Insight

    As I have just finished my third year of college, my brain is absolutely packed. My science courses have exercised my brain to the max! In my anatomy and physiology course, I learned tedious details about one of the most vital organs: the heart. However, I haven’t had a class that explores the heart of who I am.

    I am thankful for Port City’s college ministry, Overflow, for providing opportunities where I can learn to understand my heart. This school year I devoted my Sunday nights to Overflow’s program called the Leadership Journey. This program focuses on equipping college students for future careers and organization roles as Christian leaders. A major part of the program was understanding the core of our being: biblical identity, spiritual gifts and personality.

    When we took the personality test, I was given the type that is caring and interpersonal, The Helper. It explained that on good days I am empathetic and compassionate towards others. However, on bad days I become self-serving and manipulative. Yikes. I look at my “bad day” description and cringe a bit. Partly because I never want to have any of those intentions and partly because I know I have before.

    The series, Handle With Care, has encouraged me to intently pray for God to reveal past situations that I’m not proud of and that He would give me the courage to process them. Facing the discomfort of ugly times has been difficult, but so rich in lessons.

    Among the different situations I processed, I recognized an unhealthy cycle between my heart and mouth. In situations when I chose to put God on the back burner, my heart filled with selfishness. From my selfishness, my heart added ignorance. I lost grace and mercy for others, which influenced the way I spoke to them. I used words to bring conversations back to myself, to prove how I was right, or to show how my way was better.

    After God revealed all of this, I felt shameful and disappointed in myself, but He’s really showing me, “Casey, notice what you have done. Now, remember what I can do.  You need ME more than anything else to get through this. Let ME fill those places in your heart and help you move forward.”

    Each day from now on I choose to exercise my heart to be more Christ-like. I will make it a priority to let God pour His goodness into my heart; love, truth, mercy and grace, so I can be wise about the words I let flow from my mouth to others.

    Reflection

    • Think about your personality. What do your bad days look like?
    • In what situations have you used your words for selfish ambition? Why?
    • How will you submit your heart to be filled with God’s goodness?

    Prayer

    God, thank you for guiding me through the darkness of my heart. I now know that my words can be damaging to others when I am not filled with Your goodness. May I be strengthened by Your power to mold my heart into one that is loving, tender, and graceful. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    PC3 writer Casey Pham wrote today’s devotional.

  • Talked To Death

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    The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

    Insight

    I’ve always felt that talking is such a beautiful art form. I simply love words…the way they can be strung together, the way they bring life and power and meaning to a situation. I’m regularly moved by great speeches, good storytelling and powerful dialogue.

    It’s no surprise to anyone that I’m a good talker. As an English major and literature fanatic, I’m an avid reader and writer. I listen to the way people say things. I study language. I practice adding new words to my daily dialogue. For a long time I thought this automatically made me a good communicator.

    I inherently thought that talking, articulating thoughts and actually communicating were one in the same. But being gifted in oration doesn’t make someone good at the art of actually communicating. This became painfully obvious as I became an adult.   The more I’ve tried to talk my way through something, the more emphasis I’ve given to the words I say, the more I’ve come to understand how wrong I’ve been so many times.

    There are a number of places in the Bible where the tongue is vilified or cautioned. It’s a dangerous weapon, a tool certainly, but a powerful and hard to tame beast. Our American culture places endless stock on the ability and freedom to speak our minds. It’s our right as citizens to be able to say what we want, when we want, where we want. Being raised with this understanding and mindset, brought up to be strong and independent thinkers has given us the freedom and the backing to be comfortable saying whatever we want all the time.

    What we forget is that sometimes words bring death.

    In my job, talking is a requirement. My entire day is spent taking information, figuring out the most efficient way to relay it to a large group of people, rallying the troops around a project that needs to be completed or a new plan that’s going into effect. This type of job means I’m always bouncing around different types of people, switching communication styles sometimes mid conversation, changing my posture and tone depending on where I’m at, who I’m speaking with, and what I’m trying to communicate. I love it, a lot. But being good at my job doesn’t mean I’m offering life giving sentiments to the people I work with. And if in all of my conversations every day all I’m really offering people is a solution to an immediate and temporary problem, then I’m not having the conversations that I really need to be having.

    Bob Goff says it like this: “I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.”

    THIS IS PRECISELY IT.

    Crucial conversations aren’t about talking at all. They aren’t about conveying information, or arguing a point, or rallying for a cause.  Crucial conversations are about meeting people where they’re at with humility, love and deep grace. Crucial conversations are about using our words to offer a glimmer of life.

    1 Corinthians 13:4 says this, “Love suffers long and is kind.”

    Read it again. LOVE. SUFFERS. LONG.

    The really hard conversations….the ones where we talk ourselves to death with our words or use our words to cut each other deeply…..this is where death can be replaced with life. A flood of God’s love, which will likely be tremendously hard to lean into as a first response, is exactly what’s required of us.

    The kindest, most grace-filled thing we can offer each other during difficult times and in the midst of hard life battles isn’t simple talk. It’s not empty words to fill the air space. Rather it’s connectedness and depth.

    For me personally that means less talking and more just being. Realizing my friends and family don’t need to be fixed but rather loved, right where they’re at. And my co-workers and staff need the same. I can bring life or I can bring death day in and day out to everyone I encounter.   Let’s breathe more life with our words. Let’s make our crucial conversations more life giving by entering into the messiness of life together rather than drawing lines in the sand. Let’s suffer long together and shoulder the burden of the hard parts side by side.

    Reflection

    • Think about your most recent crucial conversation. Are you the type of person whose words bring death when you’re in the midst of a crucial conversation? Have you been on the receiving end of a death giving crucial conversation recently?
    • If the conversation had been approached with attitude and a heart filled with God’s love for the other person how could it have gone differently?
    • Think about one conversation you need to have today that will be crucial. How can you approach that conversation ready to offer life with your words?

    Prayer

    Father, thank you for the ability to communicate through words. Thank you for giving us beauty and power in the things we say and speak. Help us to breathe life as a first response rather than death. Remind us of the power of changing the way we approach crucial conversations so that we can offer grace and hope and love in the midst of complications and stress. Teach us how to suffer long together and how to love deeply. Give us opportunities to practice this type of deep love. Above all else, thank you for offering us an example of how to live this out every day. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    PC3 writer Kaitlyn Boscaljon wrote today’s devotional.

  • Two Moves Ahead

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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. Colossians 3:12-14

    Insight

    Never play checkers with my wife. She is like the Bobby Fischer of checkers. She possesses the ability to see two or three moves ahead of her opponent. When my wife plays against me, she makes me naively believe I have a realistic shot at winning. I’ll think there is an opening and move.

    Then, out of nowhere, she’ll triple jump my pieces and with a smirk on her face, she’ll declare, “king me.” My wife knew how I would react if she moved her piece in a certain spot. Once again, I fell for her trap.

    A lot of us treat our relationships like a game of checkers. We are masters at strategizing to get the reaction we want. Sometimes we are playing a game of offense, making moves and pulling strings in hopes of achieving feelings of love or making sure our desires are met.

    Other times we are on the defensive side and pulling strings to protect our heart, keep the peace, shut down intimacy or mask our inability to trust our partner.

    Similar to the eggshells we toss out there to keep people at bay, we like strings. They allow us to get what we want. They make us feel in control. They enable us to set the boundaries. By pulling them, we can feel like we are loved without the sacrifice that love demands.

    This mindset is creating havoc in our relationships. It has been said that what you sow grows. You can’t constantly sow seeds of insecurity, indifference, or just plain inconsideration and then be surprised when those seeds bear fruit. We foolishly believe that those strings will bring us closer when, in actuality, they are tearing us apart and allow the eggshells to remain on the ground.

    Relationships require trust. So few of us work on this or even know how to deal with this truth apart from some kind of scoring system where trust is earned. Unfortunately, this mindset changes a relationship into a transaction. A system of scales determines our actions in the relationship.

    In our minds, we have thoughts like “if the other person does what I need them to do for me, then and only then can I trust.” And as a result, we continue pulling those strings. We never learn trust as a response to love.

    Instead of trying to earn trust, you must see yourself as a steward of being trusted. You are the one who sets the tone for authentic conversations and connection to take place. You are cultivating the soil of your relationship for the seeds of trust to grow.

    This requires a tenacious commitment. It is a commitment to see, understand, and love others in the midst of their eggshells. Grace allows you to be known and loved. Grace allows you to let go of your strings.

    Commitment paves the way for vulnerability by saying I will never make you earn my love. The health of the relationship is no longer measured by its ease, but by the willingness to sacrifice for the other. And as we continue to give of ourselves, we finally learn that love has no strings.

    Reflection

    • What does today’s passage assume about our relationships? Where are you finding it most difficult to clothe yourself with compassion and love those you are in a relationship with?

    Prayer

    God, in all my relationships I am pulling strings in hopes of getting a response or filling a need. Instead, may I rest in the security of Your love. Give me eyes to see ways I can serve rather than to be served. Most importantly, give me the courage to walk with integrity. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Plugged In, But Disconnected

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    Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. PSALM 25:16

    He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. PSALM 147:3

    Insight

    I have close to 800 friends on Facebook. Now, before you push back on me saying that I just pulled a narcissistic social media brag, I bring up that number to prove a point. If I am honest, I often feel lonely. 800 friends, but very few deep, meaningful relationships.

    Like most Americans living in this social media age, I might be plugged in, but I’m awfully disconnected. A lack of access isn’t the problem. With Skype, Twitter, Facetime, Facebook, Snap Chat and other platforms, the world is literally at one’s fingertips.

    Even if you step away from the computer and glance out the window, chances are good there are plenty of people within your reach. I live in the suburbs with homes as far as the eye can see. Even at work, there are always people around the water cooler, break room or cubicle world. After work I head to Gold’s Gym and I can’t find a treadmill or an empty weight machine. Why? Because the gym is filled with people. And, if you’ve ever parked in the woods for the 11am service at PC3, you know that at church we can pack people in like sardines.

    Home, work, gym, school, church, sporting and community events. Many of us are surrounded by crowds. Everywhere we look there are people. Yet, loneliness plagues our culture. George Gallup once said, “Americans are among the loneliest people in the world.” Sometimes we confuse being acquaintances with a lot of people with actually being truly connected.

    The reality is you can have many “friends” and be known by none, especially when you continue to throw out eggshells to protect you from anyone getting too close. We can live in the midst of a sea of people, but be treading water alone clinging onto a buoy. This is not what God intended. We were created to be relational beings. None of us were meant to live alone.

    However, due to our fast paced world and jam-packed schedules, we don’t give this sad reality much thought.  Unfortunately, we don’t consider the toll this takes on our heart and how vulnerable it leaves us.  Many of those you come in contact with today will feel lonely and disconnected. Just like you, they crave meaningful relationships. Sometimes the eggshells people throw out are really cries for help, attention and connection.

    Take a moment and reflect on your connection points. Don’t settle for pseudo community. Don’t continue to walk on eggshells or force others to do the same. Be bold and pursue relationships. You, and the person you reach out to, will be thankful you did.

    Reflection

    • If you are honest with yourself, do you at times feel lonely? What do you think is driving this perception?
    • Would you say you have deep, meaningful relationships? Why or why not?

    Prayer

    God, I’m surrounded by people all day, yet there are moments when I feel utterly alone. I tend to settle for people knowing things about me. You’ve called me to have deeper connections than that. May I be vulnerable enough to let people in and also pursue others who are feeling disconnected. In Your name, Jesus. Amen. 

  • Restlessness

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    As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10

    But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12:18-20

    Insight

    One night my husband was out of town for the week on a business trip.  For the sake of my sanity, I decided to hire a babysitter for the evening.  I left my 3 kids with a kiss and went to Target.  Four and a half hours later, I came back.  The sweet sitter asked, “What did you do while you were gone?” to which I replied, “I went to Target.”  “What else did you do?”, she asked curiously.  “That’s it,”  I had to reply as my face was probably turning 50 shades of red. Cue crickets.

    Yes, I stayed in Target for 4 straight hours.  I thoroughly walked the store three times over.  I needed nothing in particular yet, I exited with a full cart.  Looking back, I see that I was restless for something to do.  Don’t misunderstand – I was never without a long list of tasks that needed to be done around the house.  But I was missing more meaningful work.

    Whether it’s Target or trash television, our lives will be filled with aimless endeavors until we decide to live for something greater. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with shopping at Target (if you are a mom, you understand that child-free shopping can be very relaxing).  But what I was beginning to discover as I fidgeted my way through every aisle was this: God wanted more of me than what I was giving.

    God had given me gifts and He wanted me to use them. I truly believe it was a divine restlessness that night and in that season of my life.  He was saying, in essence, “Hello!?  Are you going to spend all of your time in Target buying meaningless things or are you going to get to work on what is most important?”

    “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  I was learning to really believe God’s Word that He, indeed, had given me gifts that were of value to His kingdom.  The Bible is clear that the Body of Christ is less effective when all of its parts are not doing their work.  God has gifted and arranged us in His body for His purposes (1 Corinthians 12:18-20).  This is not a small truth.

    God is simply waiting for us to say, “Yes, Lord!  I’m all in!  Whatever Your purposes for me may be!”

    It took time and searching for me to figure out those purposes.  And because He doesn’t give us the entire novel of our lives, it is still unfolding.  Be prepared that when you ask for God’s vision for your life and tell Him that you are “all in”,  He will change you.  He will rearrange your priorities.  He will open doors and close some.  Walking out His vision has been scary at times and completely inconvenient.  The real, eternal work of His kingdom is unglamorous.  It’s sweat, commitment and hard work.  However, I can testify that it is way more fun to live in reliance on His faithfulness than shopping at Target for countless hours.

    Reflection

    • If you are feeling restless, consider God is trying to get your attention.  He may be asking you to use your gifts for His glory. Ask God for His vision for your life and get serious about seeking it.  God wants you to play your instrument so that your notes will be used in His beautiful symphony.

    Prayer

    Lord, thank you for being the Master Creator.  Thank you for designing me with a need to create.    Help me to create for Your priorities and Your glory and not my own.  Whether it’s tackling laundry piles to make dirty things clean or writing words with intention, help me to live my life for You.  In Your name, Jesus.  Amen. 

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • Harassment By A Thousand Cuts

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    Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

    Insight

    My husband and I are coming out of some weekend. You know it’s crazy when you lay your head down Sunday night and think, at least tomorrow is Monday.

    It was one thing after another. On Saturday, while my husband surfed, someone stole his backpack and flip-flops. The car keys were in his backpack, so I worried when he’d return to the beach with the spare, there would be no car to greet him. Thankfully, that was not the case. We dodged a bullet, but it nicked us, it felt like a paper cut – annoying.

    The rest of the day, we kept losing items around the house, adding frustration to both of us. More nicks. Tension was rising.

    Sunday morning we woke up, excited for a day with only two things to do: one, my husband had to work a bit. Two, we were going to go to the beach. Work took longer than expected, so the beach got pushed to after our daughter’s nap time. Slight nick.

    Then things really crumbled. When we were finally ready to go to the beach, I loaded a small beach bag in the car. As I went to shut the door, I realized my daughter’s fingers were gripping the other side. It was too late- her tiny toddler fingers got pinched. She screamed and my heart broke. As my daughter iced her fingers, the porcelain glass holding ice water dropped, shattering everywhere. Crushed fingers, a broken heart, glass everywhere, and delayed beach- nick, nick, nick, nick.

    After we calmed down and reassessed the situation, we decided to still go to the beach. We carefully loaded everyone in the car, my husband turned the key, and… nothing. Really? A drained battery? After all this??? Nicked, again!

    Occurrence after occurrence of frustrating circumstances brought us to the point of disbelief and even laughter. The kind of laughter that comes when you have the choice of curling up in the fetal position and crying because everything has gone wrong or laugh at how ridiculous your day has been. I did both.

    This day needed to end. God graciously reminded me of His new mercies every morning, and it could not come fast enough. We put on praise and worship music to fall asleep to and went to bed hopeful.

    Our weekend was full of nicks, painful little cuts meant to distract us from God’s goodness. It could have been death by a thousand cuts, but it was more like harassment. Some call it Murphy’s Law, I call it the enemy.

    The Bible says Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, he is a thief looking to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8).

    However, the book of Job shows us that God is still in control. Job went through unimaginable pain and suffering, though the enemy had to get permission from God to unleash anything on him. God was in control then, over Job’s circumstances, and God is still in control – over all our circumstances.

    But when the nicks come, where does your heart go? Do you feel defeated, or do you know you have a victorious God who is your loving Father? It is a fight to realize His goodness in the midst of frustration, pain, and stress. It feels more natural to cave in, be angry, and lash out at others. My husband and I tried that too and trust me- it just adds more stress!

    However, nothing truly defeated us this weekend. Yes, the frustrations mounted, almost blocking everything else from our vision: morale was low, stress was high, even physical pain was high. But God refocused our eyes to see His mercy. The car was not stolen, my daughter’s fingers were not broken, we ran and laughed on the beach, and we came together at the end of the night – nicked, but hopeful.

    God had the enemy on a short leash for us this weekend, and for that I am grateful.

    I am holding onto Isaiah 43:18-19 today as we start our week. I choose not to dwell on this past weekend or question God’s faithfulness, but to look for His new things and to see the way He is making in the desert.

    Reflection

    • How do you respond to the nicks that come your way? Where does your heart go and what messages about life and God are you believing in those times of frustration?
    • What verse(s) can you hold onto that remind you of God’s everlasting love, goodness, provision, and faithfulness to you? Use this as your Sword of the Spirit in times of getting nicked.

    Prayer

    Thank you God, that You are above all things, that You are in control, and on my side. Thank you that You provide streams in the wasteland and walk through the waters with me. I hold onto You and Your Truths: You are my good Father, You have called me by name, and I am Yours. Reveal Your goodness to me, let me see beauty from ashes and dry bones come to life. I need You and Your promise of life and life to the full. I want to experience victory with You. I love You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    PC3 writer Erin Beil wrote today’s devotional.

  • Healing Words

    By in Devotions on

    We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

    Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

    Insight

    In my twins’ fourth grade class they played Secret Santa for their Christmas party.  The teacher asked each child to draw names, choose a gift under $5 and write a letter to their chosen classmate telling them what is special about them.

    I didn’t think much about this exercise before the party.  But watching and listening to nine and ten year old boys sitting in a circle and reading aloud the letters they had written to one another was moving and powerful.  Each child waited with excitement as they anticipated the letter written especially for them.

    You could see their eyes light up and their faces beam as they listened to their classmate read what was special about them and call out their gifts.  You could easily see this was more pleasing to them than the most expensive gift on the planet would have been.  Honestly, I was surprised by how seriously the boys took this activity. It was truly a magical endeavor and I watched with tears in my eyes for the beauty of it.

    I could see the Scripture coming to life in these sweaty, sweet and goofy boys:  “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

    If only we really believed and practiced this.  As we grow into adulthood, we become experts at using words to suit our purposes.  Instead of being used for healing, they are far too often used to tear others down.  We use rash or harsh words or we calculate them carefully measuring one’s worthiness before giving them our words or deeds of love.

    But the Bible commands us to freely love and express words of love.  “We love because He first loved us.”  This is the only pure reason we are to love.  More often, however, we use words of love because our children behaved well or we deem one deserving.  That’s not Biblical love.  Biblical love is freely given simply because He first loved us.  That’s it.

    In our family room, we keep this verse written on the wall: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”.” I admit this is a tall and lofty order and in the heat of the moment I find it impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.  But with God’s help, it is possible.  We must believe this so that we may live graciously and choose gracious words.

    I once read that those who need love the most ask for it in the most unloving of ways.  I believe this to be true and as a mom I can easily see this in my family.  I constantly have to remind myself that words are powerful and each word I speak facilitates either good or evil, healing or damage, wisdom or thoughtlessness.  We live in a world that screams for more self-controlled children when what we really need is more self-controlled parents who lovingly choose their words and actions carefully.

    “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Today may we choose gracious words.

    Reflection

    • Our feelings provide clues to what is in our heart but they do not have to be our heart’s commander or the commander of our words.  Do your words reflect your feelings or the values of Christ?  Ask for God’s help in choosing gracious words that bring healing to any situation you are confronted with today.

    Prayer

    Father, help me to choose my words wisely and to speak only words that will benefit the listener.  Help me to love others and express words of love simply because You have loved me so well and not because I think they are deserving.  Whether it is the words I speak to my children or a stranger on the street, I pray that my words are pleasing to You today.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.