Devotions

  • What Would You Do?

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    See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. Hebrews 3:12-14

    Insight

    Imagine if you saw a person down on their luck pickpocketing in a convenience store. Or what if you were confronted with a judgmental restaurant manager asking someone to leave due his or her appearance or the color of their skin. Maybe you’re in the park and come across a group of bullies berating a socially outcast teen or vandalizing a car.

    Would you speak up or keep quiet? Would you jump into action or stay in the background? Would you right the wrong or ignore what you are seeing? What would you do? These questions serve as the premise for a fascinating show on ABC called Primetime: What Would You Do? Hidden cameras capture how people react when they’re thrust into real-life ethical scenarios. Will they step in or mind their own business? The show reflects on how people respond when faced with dilemmas that test their character and values.

    When I watch this show, I like to picture myself righting every wrong. Almost out of instinct, I become the defender of justice. Without fear, I stand up to the bully and have compassion on the less fortunate. From my cozy couch nowhere close to the chaos, I look down upon those who fold under pressure or turn a blind eye to what they are encountering.

    There is no way I’d react that way, or so I think. The reality is, on an almost daily basis, I find myself in “mute” mode when I come across scenarios where I need to speak up. The hardest thing to come to grips with is that I’m not speaking of just pretend, staged dilemmas like on the television show. These are real-life situations that my friends and family are facing.

    I silently watch as others around me make bad choices, engage in destructive behaviors and continue to remain blind to their struggles. I sit on the sidelines as I see loved ones wrestling with anger, resentment and bitterness. Yes, I might pray for them, but rarely do I voice my thought or utter my concerns. So, in the midst of my silence, these individuals, the people I say I love and care about, continue along the destructive path none the wiser.

    Chances are good; you are much like me. You don’t tend to say anything when you see someone engaging in destructive behaviors. Rather than dealing with the mess, you avoid the awkwardness. When a friend repeatedly talks about decisions they are making that you know are misguided, you nod in agreement or let the awkwardness of it all get the better of you and remain quiet. If you care about someone, the temptation is to avoid telling the truth, especially if you know the truth will hurt. We are quiet all in the name of love, but our silence speaks volumes about how much we genuinely care for the individual who is engaging in harmful behavior or desperately searching for God.

    As believers, we are called to speak the truth in love. We are urged to live differently where we care more about a person’s heart than the friendship we often try so hard to protect.

    The author of Hebrews urges us to be on the lookout for each other. In essence, he is saying that my spiritual business is your spiritual business and vice versa. Your relationship with God might be personal, but it was never intended to be private. Every one of us needs a few people to tell us the truth about our heart as well as check our blind spots when we’re getting off track with our motives.

    Reflection

    • In what relationship, do you need to go “all in”? How would this relationship change if you did?

    Prayer

    Lord, may I put it all on the line when it comes to my relationships. Help me to care more about my friend’s character than their friendship. Use me to encourage and spur them on to reflect Your heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Everywhere We Go

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    Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40

    Insight

    The church isn’t a building made up of bricks or located in a school auditorium. The church is a community of people. The church is you and me. As a member of the body of Christ, we carry the church with us everywhere we go.

    Don’t diminish your role. Don’t doubt that you have what it takes to impact others. Whether you realize it or not, you have influence.

    Pastor and author Erwin McManus once said, “The church does not exist for us. We are the church, and we exist for the world.”

    Church doesn’t merely happen for an hour or so on Sundays. Church can break out at any moment. It occurs every time we choose to walk in what Christ says about us. It takes place when we obey the call to love our neighbor and in those moments of humble servanthood.

    Today we have the opportunity to be the church. When we give ourselves to others, we are reflecting the heart of God and being the church. We can be someone’s encounter with the life-changing message of the Gospel.

    One way we show our love for God is by the way we love others. Without love defining our actions, our message of Christ’s amazing love gets lost in translation. Don’t let that happen. Look for opportunities to love today.

    Reflection

    • What is one way you can be the church today with those you encounter?

    Prayer

    God, expose those places where I am looking to receive rather than serve. May I not view church as a place where I go, but something I am a part of every moment there is breath in my lungs. Let love and grace define my actions and my words. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • The Tip Of The Iceberg

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    In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines. Proverbs 18:17

    Insight

    It is impossible to get the right answer without asking the right question. Some questions unlock understanding while others stop conversations before they even start. Very little information arises from questions that have a yes or a no answer. They provide no insight into motives, thinking, feelings or emotions. One is left to rely on assumptions to fill in the blanks.

    Instead of using our assumptions to comprehend the “WHY,” it makes more sense to ask questions that explain the WHY in the first place. Open-ended questions help reveal what the other person is thinking, wanting and even doing about the situation being discussed.

    Every question unlocks a different puzzle piece that is necessary if we are to get a clear picture of the person we are supporting. When these questions are built upon one another, we start to gain a better understanding of the situation, the motives of the heart and the behavior of the individual. The point of this is not to analyze people but to get to know them better.

    A majority of what a person is dealing with isn’t coming out of their mouth. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface is a massive block of unknown. There is more going on than what we hear and see.

    Understanding what a person thinks about the situation is another good area to investigate. People don’t respond to facts, though we use them all the time in our conversations. We react to our interpretation of the events. Knowing how someone interprets a situation is vital – sometimes it’s not a person’s actions that need to change, it is their thoughts about it. Finally, it is important to uncover what the individual wants out of the situation. Our desires are regularly engaged in a battle for control within our heart. Are the desires pleasing to God or have the desires become demands that are more important than pleasing God?

    One of the critical skills we must develop is the ability to ask questions that drive to the heart. People are desperate for others who are willing to devote time to ask the difficult questions and listen with a caring ear. We all have our blind spots that can lead us into trouble. Asking good questions is similar to providing a mirror to a person so they can see who they are.

    When someone invites us into their world by sharing something going on in their life, we must keep in mind these four focus areas while we listen: (1) the circumstances themselves, (2) how he/she responds to the situation, (3) what they understand or think about what is going on, and (4) what they want out of the situation. Helping someone walk with God requires taking the time to get to know them. As we learn more about those that we are investing, we’re able to help encourage them in their walks with God and taking their next steps of faith.

    Reflection

    • What conversations have you engaged in recently that you need to go back and dig deeper?

    Prayer

    God, tune my ears to those that are in need. May I listen with compassion. Open my eyes to see how these individuals are interpreting their circumstances. And, when prompted, allow me to share with them the hope found in You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Wait…What?

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    The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

    Insight

    In the creation story, found in Genesis 1, we see God hard at work. From nothingness, He creates light. By His voice, He speaks day and night into existence. God separates the land and the sea. Like a masterful painter, He covers the earth with mountains, trees, and flowers. Through His imagination, God invents animals.

    After each thing God creates, a similar situation occurs. God steps back, takes in what He’s created, and sees that “it was good” – a phrase that occurs seven times in the chapter. Then something strange happens. Unlike anything up to this point, God creates man in His own image. So, when God breathes life into Adam, you would expect that this phrase would make another appearance.

    But, God places Adam in the Garden of Eden, and something doesn’t seem right. Everything had run smoothly up until this point. Suddenly, there is a tension. God looks at Adam, who bears His likeness, and He says, “it is not good.” Wait…what?

    A comment like this has enormous implications on our perspective regarding human relationships. Let God’s words sink in for a moment. Sin hadn’t entered the world. No sin, rebellion or disobedience created a divide between God and Adam.

    At that moment, Adam was experiencing what we can only dream of this side of heaven: perfect intimacy with God. Adam had the opportunity to talk to God face to face as they walked through the garden. He was known and loved by His Creator.

    Yet, in Genesis 2:18 God describes Adam as “alone.” Once again….wait…what? The state of being alone is not good in the eyes of God. Even though Adam was sinless, he was alone, an issue big enough for God that He created a helper for Adam named Eve. In the midst of having perfect unity with God, Adam had a void requiring attention, and that was the presence of human relationships.

    Without being engaged in relationships with others, something is missing inside of you. To grow and develop, you need others around you. Without relationships, you are incomplete. Living in community is what you were created for. It’s part of your DNA.

    Reflection

    • Why do you think God looked at Adam inside the Garden of Eden and said, “it’s not good for man to be alone”?
    • What implications should God’s comment have on our perspective regarding our relationships with others?

    Prayer

    God, help me to understand my need for relationships. Open my eyes so I can see that I am incomplete without them. I’m amazed at how You use my friendships to reflect Your heart and bring me closer to Your side. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Make You Like Me

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    My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

    Insight

    “Make you like me.” No matter “how you say it,” (or hear it) there’s a tension that exists in every relationship. In our attempt to construct a system where everyone gets along, there’s one desire that trumps every other concern. We want people to be like us and we want people to like us. What we’re searching for in the connections we pursue is either approval or conformity.

    How can we achieve the unity and peace the world so desperately needs? In our minds, the solution is reasonably straightforward. If people were more like us, the world would be a more excellent place. So, we spend our time and energy attempting to get individuals to think and act like us.

    On the flip side, there are those of us who are people pleasers. We yearn for affirmation and approval, and do everything in our power to get our hands on it. Our push for acceptance is not sustainable for our hearts as well as our relationships.

    When we can’t make others like us, we work to diminish others and ultimately dismiss them. As a result, God’s vision for our relationships and the unity He desires for the church struggles to take root. Jesus understood how simple, yet at the same time incredibly complicated, our connections with others can be. The oneness of believers was such a part of His heart that it served as the focus of one of His final prayers.

    God wired us for intimacy, but intimacy needs the safety of love. Love makes intimacy possible. We’re built to receive love as well as created to give it away. Love is a force that breathes value and worth into another. The exchange of love takes place in our relationships. Relationships are the framework through which love gets expressed and experienced. We love when we give ourselves away for the good of another. To be loved is receiving good for ourselves without trying to earn it.

    The way we treat, care and love each other sends a message to the outside world. Our redemptive relationships should cause those around us to take notice. If this is the case, we have to get gut-level honest about our relationships and the job we are doing regarding living together. Intimacy requires awareness, both about ourselves and our connections. We can’t share if we aren’t aware.

    We are loved only to the extent we are known. A connection with another person requires vulnerability and transparency. The first step in influencing our relationship is pausing and reflecting on how well others know us. Who has access to the real us? And, we need to take it a step further by considering how well we allow ourselves to be known.

    Insight

    • MAKE YOU LIKE ME. How do you hear this statement? When it comes to your connections with others, which one do you struggle with the most: wanting people to be like you or wanting people to like you?

    Prayer

    God, open my eyes to what drives my relationships. Help me to see where I am putting my needs and my desires above everything else. Let my connections be a place where others are encouraged and where I am spurred on to reflect Your love. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Mistaken Identity

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    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:30-32

    Insight

    Here’s a piece of advice I learned the hard way: if you want a peaceful shopping trip, don’t wear a red shirt and khakis inside of Target. Unfortunately, I made this dreadful fashion mistake the other day and as a result had people left and right asking me questions. Can you point me towards electronics? Do you offer rain checks? Where are the bathrooms?

    A few times I’d play along, and other times I’d confess that I wasn’t an employee of the giant superstore. I couldn’t blame people for the case of mistaken identity. After all, bright red shirts are what makes Target employees stick out. Their outfit has become so ingrained in our thinking that shoppers will ask anyone in red for help. Trust me, I know.

    Scripture talks about clothing ourselves with the character of Christ (Romans 13:14). As Christians, we are called to stick out. Our charge is to be different. We are to live in a way that when people see our actions and our words, they recognize Christ’s work taking place within us. Forgiven people are supposed to be forgiving people. Since forgiveness defined Christ’s life, God measures the health and maturity of our relationship with Him by our relationships with the people around us.

    When we do not understand that who we are in Christ is due solely to God’s grace, forgiving others will never take root as a habit in our lives. Failing to recognize the hand that has been extended to us by God will keep us from offering our hand to others after they fall. Our ability to forgive is merely an extension of the grace we have already received. The way we treat others is an indication of how well we understand what God through Christ has done for us.

    We’re confronted with this dilemma on a daily basis thanks to the messiness of humanity. Some moments we are the offended while other times we are the offender. This comes with the territory of being in relationships. Without a willingness to forgive we will be relationally bankrupt. Where there is no forgiveness, eventually there are no relationships. We are going to be hurt, taken advantage of, by the people closest to us. The closer they are, the more it hurts. The closer they are the more frequent we will be hurt. Learning to give the gift of forgiveness continually is a requirement if we are going to have any long-term relationships with anybody.

    Unfortunately, our humanity makes us hesitate in extending forgiveness. The idea of canceling out a debt when the wounds seem so fresh makes us cringe. What causes us to flinch is something deep down inside reminding us of the great cost of forgiveness. It could be an affair, divorce, abuse, gossip, dishonesty or hurtful words. Your story might be distinctive, but the struggle to forgive others or to ask for forgiveness on your behalf is not unique. One would assume that as children of God, forgiveness would be a natural action. The reality is that uttering words of forgiveness like “I was wrong,” “Will you forgive me?,” and “Yes, I forgive you” are few and far between.

    We don’t forgive because people deserve it. We forgive due to an encounter with Christ’s mercy. Forgiveness doesn’t make any sense unless you are a forgiven person. Seeking and extending forgiveness can be a costly endeavor on our part, but when compared to the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf it is a drop in a bucket. There is no cost comparison. In light of Jesus, we no longer have a right to seek revenge or withhold our forgiveness (Colossians 2:13-14, Isaiah 53:1-7). Our concern should now focus on how our actions will advance the kingdom of God and not on our well-being or selfish desires.

    Forgiveness is one of our primary exports as believers. We are exporting the message of forgiveness. Our message is, “Come meet our God. He will forgive you no matter what.” There’s something hypocritical about a bunch of forgiven people assembled to tell others about forgiveness who won’t forgive. If we do not extend grace, it demonstrates our lack of understanding God’s forgiveness, which stands as the crux of the gospel. Our message of love and mercy then falls on deaf ears. We must model our message.

    Reflection

    • Where there is no forgiveness, eventually there are no relationships. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? How has a lack of forgiveness influenced your relationships?
    • Who are you finding it difficult to forgive? In your eyes, what does that person owe you? Why have you been unwilling up till now to extend forgiveness? What would it look like for you to forgive this individual?

    Prayer

    God, I lay my heart before You and ask that you examine the places where unforgiveness resides. Expose my strained relationships. Let me trust You with the hurt and pain someone else has caused. Help me to forgive those who created scars, not because they deserve it, but because I am forgiven. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Made For Him

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    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9

    Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1

    Insight

    Teddy Bear is the unofficial 5thmember of our family. Since the moment my youngest daughter Paige laid eyes on him, the two have been inseparable. This stuffed bear has gone everywhere with Paige – to school, to the dentist, to the grocery store, etc. She has played dress up, hosted tea parties, watched movies, and read books with Teddy. Over the years Teddy has had his arms, ears, and eyes torn off and lost the majority of his stuffing. He has been drooled on, dragged through the mud, been caught in rainstorms and had a near death experience once when our dog got a hold of him.

    So, needless to say, Teddy is in pretty sad shape. Yet, this doesn’t matter at all to Paige. To everyone else, this stuffed animal appears worthless, but in Paige’s eyes, Teddy is absolutely priceless. Paige is incapable of sleeping without Teddy by her side so if he does go missing it is a big deal. I’ve actually driven across town in the middle of the night in search for that maingy stuffed animal before. When I was behind the wheel tired and exhausted, I thought this was the craziest thing I’ve ever done as a parent. However, the squeal of delight and tears of joy that came from Paige the moment she was reunited with Teddy was worth it. Something that was lost had been found. Teddy was back where he belonged.

    The reality is that many of us look like Teddy. Our shame has shaped our identity and the way we perceive ourselves. Shame always works to define us. Just like that stuffed bear, we feel dirty, unclean, and less than. Sometimes these emotions are due to the wrong things we have done. Other times those feelings of being unlovable come as a result of the shameful things done to us.

    In response, we try to numb, control, pretend, and perfect our shame away. By sure will power and self-talk, we attempt to make right the things we know are wrong. So, as a result, we either deal with our shame by saying, “that’s just who I am” or we conceal it by declaring, “you’ll never know who I really am.”

    But, no matter what we do, the shame and guilt remain. And since we can’t rid ourselves of these feelings, we experience more feelings of shame and guilt. This leaves us wondering, “what’s wrong with us?”

    Our desire to be loved and known collide where shame resides. Shame has us believing the lie that the more we are known the less we are loved. Shame is an assault on our worth. But, for a second ponder this question: Is something loved because it’s worthy of love or does the very act of loving it give it worth?

    Because we have value in the eyes of God, we don’t have to hold onto our shame. The Gospel meets us right where we are, in the midst of our mess. God doesn’t love us because of our value. God knows the worst about us and redeemed and loved us anyway. He loves us with a love that creates value.

    We are worthy to God because we were made for Him. He fought and died to eradicate shame from the picture. His sacrifice took away our shame. He’s enough, so we’re enough. The only shame we carry is what we choose to carry. Knowing we are loved, we can finally come out of hiding. Being loved and valued by God gives us the freedom and power to deal with our shame.

    Freedom is found when we see ourselves through the eyes of the person who loves us. The good news is you can have regrets without having shame. Regrets become markers of God’s grace and His faithfulness to us. As a result, we can stop running from our story and begin to own it. We can have the courage to be vulnerable and share our story with our whole heart.

    Reflection

    • Do you believe God has taken away your shame through what took place on the cross? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
    • What happens to our shame and guilt when we expose it to the light and speak of it?

    Prayer

    God, Your love speaks worth, healing, and wholeness into my heart. May I have the courage to bring to light the shame I carry with me and leave it at the feet of the cross. Help me to understand that it is You, and You alone, who determines my value. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • The Ultimate Revision

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    So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose…in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:17-19

    Insight

    It was a rather cold, rainy morning for June in New York City almost a decade ago when the concept of revision first inspired me. I mean raw, artistic revision.

    The Dave Matthews Band was playing on the Today Show on NBC. There were multiple reasons I remember hating that morning (4 a.m. wake-up call was first). However, when my friends and I had settled into the cramped crowd, I became intrigued by the intense set of run-throughs the band completed before they went live.

    What is it about revision that is so alluring? We dive into countless trials of change no matter what lifestyle we operate from currently. There’s something to be admired and deeply appreciated by the prospect of newness coming our way. Whether it is buying a new wardrobe, getting files organized, or getting in shape, it matters not. Even adopting a new attitude can be exciting! We are pleased, if not relieved, to gain palpable change. The freshness of a new routine or also a “new you” just feels right.

    Frustrating as it may be, those types of changes are fleeting. If anything, they are paper thin. As humans, we end up having to evolve through things because it is inevitable. Along the way, we end up reaching for what we call prosperity. What God calls prosperity does not always align with our version. In fact, it never does, and we will never fully understand it.

    Thinking back to the Dave show, I dug how they performed three or four consecutive run-throughs (from the top mind you) of So Much to Say. I could tell they were revising on each subsequent performance down to the smallest of tweaks. It seemed like their TV spot would undoubtedly be perfect; it was close. All in all, what I witnessed that day may not have been creative change as much as it was skilled preparation.

    Each of us in some way, to some degree, must tear down the work of our hands and build it back new and better. Authors revise writing, architects revise designs, politicians revise positions. It’s pretty much necessary. We all can and should prepare to the best of our abilities (God gave us those). After all, there is an ever-changing world around us. We can strive for a new lifestyle by moving to that ideal town or landing that perfect job. We can make changes and hope for dreams to come true. Sometimes, they do. Sadly, there will always be something to compromise its worth: some variable is thrown into our system, some new standard to which we want to ascribe. Simply put, things are always changing.

    Conversely, God is unchanging. A living hope, a lasting, real hope for whatever we need, be it changes, prosperity or fulfillment, is made possible through the cross of Jesus Christ.  Because of love, His once-and-for-all offering gives us a sure shot at genuinely living. We can always lean on Him for real hope.

    Through Christ, God gives a newness like no other. As early as Jeremiah’s prophecy, he shares that the Lord will make a new covenant. As late as John’s revelation, he reports Christ’s words will be: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5 ESV).

    Aside from the textual backing, consider what evidence you have of lasting newness. How much of it were you able to predict and produce? Depending on your answer, take from that where you have seen meaningful change. Chances are good you encountered some difficulty along the way.

    What if we were to decide to be still where we are and place our trust in Christ alone? Remember, He is a living Savior who loves us and offers us real life and freedom only if we set our heart to loving him back. Assuming there is an understanding and belief in God’s promises, one would surely be hard-pressed to conjure up worry for the past, present or future. The cross offers the one true change in which we have infinite hope.

    Reflection

    • For you, where is fleeting hope mixing with true hope?
    • How can you begin a process of revision directed by God?

    Prayer

    Lord, it is in Your promises I find hope. Thank you for being the way, the truth, and the life while offering a forever change to my life. I give praise for the newness You make continually. Forgive me for where I might have distrusted this. Help me walk with the unshaken hope You freely give. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

    PC3 writer Adam King wrote today’s devotional.

  • On Our Terms

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    Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.Proverbs 3:5-8

    For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

    Insight

    Oh, how we wish the author, King Solomon, put an out clause when it came to the places of our heart where we’re required to trust.

    We want him to say we only have to trust in the Lord with “select parts of your heart” or “trust in the Lord until it gets uncomfortable” or even “trust in the Lord on your terms.”

    Instead, Solomon charges us to trust our Creator with A-L-L our heart, including those places of shame that have remained off limits for far too long.

    Only you know those situations where you are resistant to address, give up control or hesitate to have faith.

    Today, when you ponder those areas, ask yourself: whom do I trust? This is why the truth that God’s Word is living and active, found in Hebrews 4:12 is so important.

    You must allow God to do the delicate surgery to separate between joint and marrow, soul and spirit. By giving God access to your heart, you see its current state.

    It’s through this encounter where God can finally form and shape your heart.

    Reflection

    • As it relates to your shame, does the vulnerability and transparency required of the Bible make it a place of refuge or an area of discomfort for you?

    Prayer

    Lord, I ask You to help me. There are several areas where I fail to trust You. The shame I feel makes me want to hide and disappear. Lord, I confess my hesitancy to give up control. I submit my wisdom to You and ask You for direction with ________________. Lord, thank you for being trustworthy and good. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Hardly Hallmark

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    Today we are going to reflect on one of the most popular passages in the Bible. If you’ve ever attended a wedding, you’ve heard today’s Scripture recited in some form or fashion. You’d expect 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 difficult person. Love is a challenge when someone is a thorn in our side.

    If that “guy” (aka our difficult person) doesn’t act the way we want them to, we get irritated, frustrated, aggravated, and a host of other descriptions not to be mentioned in a devotional. During this moment, do you know what is needed? Quite simply, LOVE. Take a moment and reflect on the tenacity that is required to love others:

    Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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

    When we are at our wit’s end with that individual, 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.

    It’s easier said than 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 love 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

    • Where are you struggling to display love?
    • Where is love needed in your relationships with others?

    Prayer

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